England’s record-breaking No 11 James Anderson admitted his career-best knock against India was such a surprise he did not know how to celebrate his half-century on Saturday.
Anderson, who had never before reached 50 in any competitive match, including club cricket, scored 81 as he and Yorkshire’s Joe Root put on 198 – the highest 10th-wicket stand in Test history.
Root’s unbeaten 154 would usually have been the star showing of the day but, with a batting average of just over 10 and a previous best of 34, Anderson was the revelation of the day.
His reaction when reaching 50 was muted to say the least, but that is because the 31-year-old was out of his comfort zone.
“Joe came down the wicket and said ‘milk it’ but I didn’t really know what that meant so I just sort of did the rounds with the bat,” said the Lancastrian.
“I’ve seen people point at the dressing room so I did that as well but that was it.
“I did think that if I was ever going to get 50 it would be on a wicket like this.”
Anderson is no stranger to rearguard efforts and his most memorable was alongside Monty Panesar to save a draw in the first match of the 2009 Ashes series. He was also close to pulling off an even more unlikely rescue job against Sri Lanka at Headingley last month.
In the latter, he was dismissed by the penultimate ball of the match, costing England the series, and that was still fresh in the mind as he reflected on a very different type of innings.
“Obviously it was disappointing at Headingley, you do have those moments but they make you want to cherish these ones all the more,” said Anderson.
When Anderson gave way just after lunch, England had fashioned an unlikely lead of 39, India reaching stumps on 167-3.
Anderson and Root’s new world-record 10th-wicket stand of 198 at Trent Bridge surpassed the previous highest of 163, at the same ground almost exactly a year ago – when Australia’s debutant No 11 Ashton Agar made 98 alongside Phil Hughes at the start of the 2013 Ashes.
England’s highest partnership for the 10th wicket was formerly 130 – between Yorkshire’s Wilfred Rhodes and RE Foster, in Sydney in 1903/04.
Root and Anderson established another first for this match, the only one which has featured two century 10th-wicket partnerships – after Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put on 111 together.