It couldn’t have been scripted any better: James Anderson, bowling for the final time with his close friend Alastair Cook on the field, knocking the middle pole out of the ground to wrap up an emphatic victory and become statistically the world’s best pace bowler.
What a way to break Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 wickets, seal a 4-1 series win and send your mate into retirement.
Slapping the middle stump out of the ground – there is no finer or more spectacular sight that you can ask for as a fast bowler. There it was, flattened. Bang – done, end of the match. It was brilliant.
When I spoke to Anderson afterwards, he was very emotional – not just about passing the record and winning the game, but more about losing Cook, who has now played in his final Test for England.
He and Cook are terrific friends – Cook is godfather to Anderson’s eldest daughter – and both Anderson and Root teared up during the presentations. It was as though the reality had just dawned on them, as they stood there, listening to Cook giving his interview. They were all moved by it.
As a person, Anderson is terrific. When he first came on to the scene – he made his England debut in 2006 – he was very quiet and terribly shy. But, like all young players, he matured.
He is good company and interesting company on a night out, and loves talking about bowling. And he is someone who has given great service to English cricket.
You can tell how respected he is when he’s out on the field. Anderson is often involved in little group chats as the day’s cricket unfolds – Ben Stokes is often in there, too, and Stuart Broad lurking around on the fringes of it.
I consider myself to have been a very poor man’s James Anderson, and I would love to have had half the skill he has when I was playing.
The big difference between me and Anderson is that he has got a ‘plan B’ for when the ball doesn’t swing. I never had that. If it didn’t swing, I was a bit stuck.
But Anderson has developed his game so magnificently that he’s always a threat, swing or no swing. He’s dangerous in all conditions.
The wobble seam delivery he has developed – which basically means that the ball can move either way and can confound a batsman – is extremely clever, and the control he has is magnificent.
Ball after ball, off an easily grooved run-up – he’s at you all the time. As a batsman, you have absolutely no let-up at all.
The way he disguises the ball, too, is so clever. He stops the batsman from knowing which way the ball is going to swing. He runs in with the ball in his left hand, and transfers it to his right, while hiding it from the man at the other end.
It’s so clever, and it is the result of hours and hours of hard work. Anderson is 36 now and he is still looking for new things to develop. He has never sat back and thought ‘that’s it, I’m done’. He is always working, and that is what really sets him apart.
It has been a brilliant, and emotional, few days at The Oval – for drama, is has been rather like the Ashes Test here in 2005, when England regained the urn after 18 years.
That was more of a team drama, however. This game was about individual stories.
Both Anderson and Cook have been great servants to the game – and while Anderson continues, there is a huge hole that will be left by Cook.
Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport’s Amy Lofthouse at The Oval