We speak to England cricketer and world No 2 bowler
‘Mitchell Johnson from Australia was asking me why I wasn’t getting any wickets, and with the very next ball I hit the wicket. I really enjoyed that,’ laughs 29-year-old England bowler James ‘Jimmy’ Anderson, when asked about the best sledging he’s been subject to at the wicket.
The fact he’s an excellent bowler was sufficient enough comeback, and is most likely the reason he’s feeling so confident about England’s Test match against Pakistan, which runs from January 17-21 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
He believes the biggest challenge England will face in Dubai is the climate, with the team not used to playing in warm, humid conditions. Though we explain it’ll be a pleasant 23°C when he arrives, much like an English summer, he’s convinced the team will need to adjust to the climate, and that the Pakistan team’s longer period of acclimatisation will give them an immediate advantage.
Yet Anderson should really be worried about the thousands of Dubai-based Pakistani expats who will fill Dubai International Cricket Stadium with impassioned support for their team. For security reasons, the Pakistani side has not been allowed to play international cricket in its home country since 2009, so Dubai is much like a home from home for the team.
Sadly, it’s difficult to discuss the Pakistan cricket side without referring to the notorious match-fixing scandal in 2011, which involved Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif deliberately bowling no-balls. Needless to say Anderson takes a very dim view on corruption in cricket and says the ICC and his fellow professionals are doing everything in their power to stamp it out. ‘We get a lot of info about what to look for and how to deal with these situations… We know it’s wrong and we know the consequences if we were to get involved in it: there’s a ban from cricket and legal action will be taken.’
Scandal aside, Anderson will have fond memories of his last encounter with Pakistan after claiming six wickets against them in the Test match at Trent Bridge in the UK in August 2010. However, the right-arm fast bowler is well aware of the threat that Pakistan pose: the team recently climbed back to fifth place in the International Cricket Council Test rankings, having beaten Bangladesh 2-0 in their most recent Test match. Their revival is largely accredited to in-form bowler Abdur Rehman and the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq.
‘It’s going to be tough,’ Anderson says with a grimace. But as far as the spectators are concerned, the tougher the better – the Test match is set to be an intriguing battle between a Pakistani side looking to continue their winning streak, nd an English side intent on reclaiming their dignity and their place in the upper echelons of the world rankings.
The Jazz Cup Pakistan v England Test match takes place on January 17-21. Tickets are Dhs20 in green zone, Dhs80 in platinum west and Dhs100 for platinum. Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai Sports City, www.timeouttickets.com (04 425 1111).