James Anderson will resume his hunt for a 600th Test wicket as England look to dodge the rain and push for victory on the final day of their series against Pakistan.
Anderson ended day four at the Ageas Bowl on 599 career scalps after a combination of watchful batting, average fielding and dismal weather left him one short of joining Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble in one of cricket’s most exclusive clubs.
Anderson made Abid Ali his sixth victim of the match to move to the cusp of a milestone no other fast bowler has ever achieved, but Jos Buttler’s regulation drop off Shan Masood in the morning session means there is work still to do.
The weather forecast suggests more frustration could be in store but the tourists are ready to resume with a 210-run deficit on 100 for two.
Head coach Chris Silverwood is crossing his fingers for the perfect conclusion for his side, with 38-year-old Anderson providing a celebratory end to more than two months of ‘bio-secure’ cricket behind closed doors.
“I want to win the game first and foremost but to finish strongly and see Jimmy get his 600th would be fantastic,” said Silverwood.
“We’re all aware of the milestone Jimmy is looking at but he’ll get there. It would be brilliant to see him get over the line here. We’ll wake up in the morning, have a look out the curtains to see what’s out there and, if we get an opportunity, we’ll go for it.
“For the guys to come out and put their best foot forward and finish in the same way we’ve played the last two series would be nice. I’m very proud of how they’ve handled themselves, being locked up for the best part of 10 weeks in the bubble – their attitude and effort during that time has been fantastic.”
There is little yet to be said in tribute to Anderson, who has built a 17-year body of work that may never be matched. But as a player who laboured hard to take 11 Test wickets, Silverwood’s personal appreciation runs deep.
“He’s an inspiration, isn’t he?” he said. “Six hundred Test wickets … Wow.
“He’s worked so hard to do it and he’s brilliant around the place. He’s constantly helping the other bowlers. It’s just superb to have one of the best in the world sat in your dressing room and playing for your country.”
One England player has already left the match for the final time, with Surrey batsman Ollie Pope landing badly on his left shoulder early on Monday, causing concerns that he has aggravated an old injury that kept him out of the game for several months.
He will leave the bubble for a medical assessment on Tuesday, with Silverwood adding: “Ollie’s banged his shoulder again so he’ll go for a scan on that. We’ll assess from there.”