In 1964, English bowler Fred Trueman became the first ever bowler to take 300 wickets and when asked if anyone would be able to break his record, the fast bowler replied: “Aye, but whoever does it will be bloody tired.”
If anyone had cause to sympathize with those sentiments it was England’s swing-bowler James Anderson who, 54 years later at The Oval, took his 564th wicket, when he bowled Indian tailender Mohammad Shami to seal a 118-run victory in the fifth and final Test match of the series.
Andreson truly is a world-class bowler and there is no doubt that his career has been legendary so far. He made his debut for England in the season of 2002 and for the best part of five years till 2007 remained in and out of the English side.
His first over in Test cricket cost 17 runs but in his third, he bowled Mark Vermeulen. He finished the innings with 5-73, the first of 26 five-wicket hauls in his Test career.
But he impressed the English selectors sufficiently to make his Test debut at Lord’s in 2003 and went on to take 26 wickets in seven tests that season against South Africa and Zimbabwe. He is also the first English bowler to take a hat-trick in ODIs. His hat-trick against Pakistan made him a hero but still, he was not considered a full-time bowler in the England side.
After that, his form wavered and he only found himself bowling in the practice sessions. His distinctive action was subjected to some unwelcome interference from coaches over a potential risk of injury. But, it was 2007, when he came out with a bang and proved the selectors that he should remain in the side.
Anderson then came in the squad to play the Test series against India. He came into the side for the injured Matthew Hoggard and led a pace attack comprising himself, Ryan Sidebottom and Chris Tremlett. He picked up his 50th wicket in the first Test match when he dismissed MS Dhoni for 0. Although England lost the series, Anderson showed greater consistency and took 14 wickets in the series. He was given the Man of the Series award for his performance.
He also got his name on the honors board at Lord’s with his best Test figures of 5/42. The swing bowler continued his success in the ODI series and became the leading wicket-taker of either side with 14 wickets
His standout performance came in Ashes 2010 when he spearheaded the English bowling attack and took 24 wickets with the Kookaburra ball, which was a nightmare for him in 2006 Ashes.
In June 2013 in the prestigious ICC Champions Trophy match against Australia, Anderson became England’s leading wicket-taker in ODIs, when he took his 235th wicket and went past Darren Gough. Later in the same year, he became England’s highest wicket-taker in Tests when he took his 326th wicket in the fifth Test match against Australia at The Oval.
He then continued his fine form against India, though he was criticised for not capitalizing on a green-top wicket at Lord's - a match which England lost, he came back well in the next three games and helped his side win the series 3-1, he was the leading wicket-taker with 25 wickets and he also won another Man of the Series award.
In the series against India, Anderson was involved in a record last-wicket partnership with Joe Root, the pair added 198 runs and bettered the previous record in Tests by 35 runs. He also registered the highest score for an England No. 11 when he went onto make 81.
The Specsavers series just ended yesterday and with the final delivery of the match, where he got the wicket of Mohammad Shami, he became the highest wicket-taking pace bowler of all time.
Anderson now has 564 Test wickets and he surpassed the great Australian bowler Glenn McGrath, who took 563 wickets during his Test career. This a feat that some bowlers can only dream of and he has achieved it. He has seen the struggle and came back into the English side with a motive to be the best.
If we go by the stats, McGrath grabbed 563 wickets in 124 Test appearances, finishing with an average of 21.64. While Anderson took 564 wickets in 143 wickets with an average of 26.84. Anderson was all about swing whereas McGrath focused more on seam movement.
McGrath declared his admiration for the England pacer by saying that at this time only Anderson has the power and skill to cross his record and once he does that, it would be impossible to break his record.
After the end of the day’s play, Cook, who played his farewell test match, said that he is the greatest bowler in the history of England cricket and he has the stats to prove that.
James Anderson is now 36 and we don’t know how many years he will play for England now, but what we do know is that he has been an absolute champion of the game and it would be hard for the English selectors to find someone like him in coming years.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar