ADELAIDE, Dec 5 (Reuters) - It took him 15 tests over four tours but James Anderson, England’s most prolific test wicket-taker, finally claimed his first five-wicket haul on Australian soil in the second Ashes test on Tuesday.
It might turn out to be too little, too late for this match but Anderson played a major role in hauling the visitors back from a seemingly lost cause in the second innings at Adelaide Oval.
After taking the wickets of top-order batsmen Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja with an impressive display of pink ball bowling during which he swung the ball like a boomerang under the floodlights on Monday night, Anderson was no less dangerous under bright afternoon sunshine on the fourth day.
The 35-year-old right-hander from Burnley had Peter Handscomb caught at third slip for 12, and also sent night watchman Nathan Lyon (14) and tailender Mitchell Starc (20) packing to finish with five for 43.
The performance, coming off the back of a disappointing first-innings haul of 1-74 during which he tended to bowl too short early on, showed that Anderson, in the twilight of his career, is still capable of adapting to foreign conditions.
In 14 previous tests in Australia, he had never had better than four-wicket hauls, three of them on the 2010-11 tour when England won 3-2.
It is not the first time Australia have been on the receiving end of an Anderson barrage, though most have occurred in England. He took a match-winning 10 wickets — five in each innings — in the first Ashes test at Trent Bridge in 2013.
While Anderson does not quite have the pace of an out-and-out fast man, mostly bowling between 130 and 140 kilometres-per-hour, he still offers a stern test for any batsman when combined with his ability to swing the ball.
Anderson, who has taken 514 test wickets at an average of a shade over 27, has often revelled in home tests but has not always been as comfortable in hot and dusty foreign climates, where pitches and conditions are not always conducive to swing bowling.
He entered the current Ashes series with 43 wickets in Australia at an average of more than 38, in danger of ending his career with a small blot on a generally impeccable copy book. (Reporting by Andrew Both; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)