England are on the cusp of a first Test win for almost a year, but at close of play on his birthday James Anderson still seemed unable to resist a party-piece dispute with the opposition.
Even tomorrow's looming International Cricket Council disciplinary hearing, on a Level 3 charge for allegedly “abusing and pushing” Ravindra Jadeja, failed to deter England's famously grumpy fast bowler from apparently ‘ear-bashing' India batsman Ajinkya Rahane as the teams left the field on day four of the third Investec Test.
Anderson had marked his 32nd birthday with a first-innings haul of five for 53 at the Ageas Bowl, to help England into a position where they need only six more wickets on the final day to level the series at 1-1.
But after Alastair Cook (70no) and Joe Root (56) had then helped England set a world-record target of 445 — and England reduced India to 112 for four — Anderson was spotted chuntering to the opposition by umpire Rod Tucker. A ticking-off then came his way.
Root could offer no details of events as he reflected on an otherwise excellent day for England.
“I wasn't aware that was at all the case,” he said, at the suggestion Anderson had been at the centre of any ill-feeling. “I'm sure it was absolutely nothing.”
Anderson has often appeared to thrive by surrounding himself with an aggressive atmosphere on the pitch.
Root added: “It is obviously massive. Not only does he bring that, he brings his stats as well.
“He's had it (aggression) all his career. He's done it fantastically well, and continued to take wickets.”
There was no particular birthday feelgood factor either.
Asked if Anderson was more genial than usual, Root said: “No, he's grumpy because he's a year older.”