James Anderson, England's enduring 'king of swing' becomes first pace bowler to take 700 Test wickets - GulfToday

James Anderson, England's enduring 'king of swing' becomes first pace bowler to take 700 Test wickets


James Anderson (R) celebrates the wicket of India's Shubman Gill (C) on the second day of the final Test in Dharamshala on Saturday. AFP

James Anderson may be 41 but the England veteran shows no signs of stopping after becoming the first pace bowler to take 700 Test wickets.

Only two spinners, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan (800 Test wickets) and the late Australia great Shane Warne (708), are ahead of Anderson on the all-time list of the five-day game's most successful bowlers.

Anderson joined the exclusive '700 club' when he dismissed India's Kuldeep Yadav, who edged a length delivery outside off in the fifth and final Test in Dharamsala on Saturday. He began his career in 2003 at Lord's against Zimbabwe and has since played 187 matches.

Called the "swing king" for his ability to move the ball both ways, Anderson averages under 27 and has 32 five-wicket hauls in Tests.

Anderson is renowned as both a conventional swing bowler and for generating reverse-swing later in an innings, while maintaining tight control.

Those qualities have helped him to the landmark of 700 wickets, including 32 five-wicket hauls, with his scalps coming at an average of 26.52. He has played an England-record 187 Tests so far.

What is more, he is still putting his body through the gruelling demands of pace bowling at an age when many of his international contemporaries have long since retired.

The dynamic leadership of England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum has provided Anderson with fresh inspiration.

"I am loving playing in this dressing room at the moment. That keeps me going a little bit more," Anderson, who made his Test debut back in 2003, told TNT Sports during the second match of the current series against India.

"I love this group of blokes, the captain and coach have got a great thing going at the moment, and it's fun to be a part of. "For me, it is just something I want to try and do for as long as possible."

Anderson-Dravid-700wickets James Anderson signs his autograph on a ball for India coach Rahul Dravid after the match. Reuters

Anderson's long-time bowling partner Stuart Broad retired after last year's Ashes series in England at the age of 37 with 604 Test wickets. But Anderson has kept going and has proved his worth on the current tour, with two key wickets in the second Test, including bowling India captain Rohit Sharma for 13 with a delivery that nipped away.

'Look up to Jimmy'

Stokes lauded his old warhorse before that match in Visakhapatnam by saying: "It's great that Jimmy is doing good things for the old boys out there. "Lots of people should look up to Jimmy."

India's Sachin Tendulkar, an all-time batting great, lauded Anderson's ability to challenge even cricket's greatest run-scorers.

"He would hold the ball as if he is bowling an outswinger," said Tendulkar. "But the release point, he would try and bring the ball back in."

And what is more, in defiance of conventional wisdom about the physical toll of pace bowling, there are signs that late-career Anderson could be the most effective version of them all.

Statistics compiled by ESPNCricinfo showed that in the years he was aged 25 to 29, Anderson averaged 28.47 runs per Test wicket. Between 30 and 34, that figure improved to 25.45, and since turning 35, Anderson's average is just under 23.

In recent decades, the only other outright paceman who has approached his longevity is Courtney Walsh of the West Indies, a genuine quick compared to the effective fast-medium of Anderson.

Walsh's 132-Test career lasted for 17 years and by the time he retired in 2001, at the age of 38, he had taken 519 wickets.

Prior to Anderson, the last time a quick bowler appeared in Test cricket beyond the age of 40 was when Les Jackson made the second of his two England appearances back in 1961.


Agence France-Presse






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