James Anderson has played more Test cricket for England than any other player so he was the perfect man to rank their opening day against India at Headingley as one of the best in living memory.
It is hard to imagine what could have gone better for the home side, who were asked to bowl first after losing the toss and responded by hounding the tourists out for just 78.
Having condemned India to the ninth lowest score in history, openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed then cranked up the indignity by responding by piling on an insouciant 120 without loss at stumps.
It was just the third time any side had ever taken all 10 wickets and moved ahead on the first day of a Test without losing a single batsman in reply.
The previous time was England’s famous Boxing Day blitz at the MCG back in 2010, when Australia were dismissed for 98 before Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook racked up 157 for nought.
Anderson, 39, is the last remaining survivor from that game and ranked events in this third LV= Insurance Test as a similar vintage.
“It doesn’t get much better than that I don’t think. These days don’t come around very often, so you just have to be happy when they do,” he said.
“The only difference with Melbourne is that I was keen to bowl there and I wasn’t today for some reason. I was trying to tempt Joe into batting!
“But losing the toss, being asked to bowl and then putting in a performance like that…it just doesn’t get much better. We’ve talked about trying to bowl as a unit, as a group, and we just absolutely nailed it. With both ball and bat we’ve displayed exactly what we wanted to do.”
Anderson set the tone for England, dismissing KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and rival Virat Kohli in an imperious opening spell of three for six in eight overs.
He was ably assisted by Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton and Sam Curran, who shared the next seven wickets as they kept the scoring in a straitjacket, and was not even required to limber up for a second burst.
But England are more used to excelling with ball than bat in recent times, which made the twin half-centuries of the unbeaten Burns and Hameed all the more satisfying.
“The way the two guys played towards the end of the day with the bat was outstanding and exactly what we’ve been asking for,” said Anderson.
“When you bowl someone out for less than 100 you’re never quite sure whether you’ve bowled well or if the wicket is not as good as you think it might be. So to see the way they both went about their business, just felt so calm in the dressing room.
“The way they were so measured, they were solid in defence, left well and put away the bad ball when they got one. I just thought it was brilliant Test match batting.”
For Anderson’s former Lancashire team-mate Hameed, a knock of 60 not out was particularly sweet after he marked the end of five years in the wilderness with scores of zero and nine at Lord’s.
“I couldn’t be happier for Has. One thing he’s always had is the right temperament for international cricket and we saw that today in bucket loads,” said Anderson.
“He was calm, he was measured and he had a game plan which he executed brilliantly.”
Rishabh Pant brushed aside his side’s collapse as “part and parcel” of Test cricket but did shed some light on a late incident which appeared to enrage Kohli, who was upset by events in a rowdy Western Terrace.
“I think somebody threw a ball at Mohammed Siraj. He (Kohli) was upset, yes,” said the wicketkeeper.
“You can say whatever you want to chant, but don’t throw things at the fielders. It’s not good for cricket, I guess.”
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