A Look At Fast Bowlers: James Anderson
“Bend it like Jimmy,” once a growing whisper has turned into a roar for sure. Jimmy Anderson is bending his back for the last 15 years.
His 140 plus test matches is the highest as a quickie in the history of the game and don’t forget, he has 269 wickets in 194 ODIs. Take a bow Anderson for your sheer durability. No flaunting of muscles, it’s all wrist and release. Short economical bustling run up – Jimmy is a quintessential case study for fitness enthusiasts.
Back In the 80’s Kapil Dev and in the recent past Glen Mcgrath was in the same mould as Anderson. Kapil (131 tests/225 ODIs) and Mcgrath (124 tests/ 250 ODIs) both survived at the highest level for 16 and 14 years respectively. Kapil Dev, a North Indian had his self styled fitness regime.
During a chat with me in the National Cricket Academy he revealed that during his time there was no weight training at all. Some wrist extension exercise individually was all he could remember. He would do his long runs and some sprints during the off season. During the season, bowling in the nets and fielding practices was the medium of physical work. A natural athlete, Kapil Dev had only one knee surgery to take note of and never missed a test between 1978-1994. He was dropped in one test match in Kolkata, 1980.
Glen Mcgrath, the 6’5” tall Aussie comes from era of rigorous physical training. Apart from a bothering ankle here or niggling elbow there Pigeon was a tower of durability. Coming in John Buchanon’s regime Glen did military training, high altitude training and training in the heat of Darwin. Unlike Kapil he did lift weight and followed an extremely disciplined diet plan.
With his 6’2’ inches height and 76 kgs weight Anderson like his two illustrious predecessors kept his knee and back free from the stress of too much body weight. Although once rattled by a stress fracture in lower back in 2006, Jimmy has kept himself remarkably fit. Anderson does lots of weight training in pre-season. He loves the power training such as power clean, clean and jerk.
He wants to further improve his running speed at 37. Just imagine how dedicated the man is! One of the running routine he does is 23-7 where one needs to sprint 50 metres within 7 seconds and jog back in 23 seconds before sprinting again. One needs to do 10 such sprints back to back before resting. It’s a reflection to his attitude for pushing the body beyond a limit. Jimmy drinks protein shake to maintain his muscles.
Take a close look at the three bowlers and you would see they bowled at nearly the same speed. Macgrath at the start of his career was above 140 ks. Slowly he became a 135 k bowler. Kapil was consistently around 135 ks. Anderson is mostly in 130’s these days, occasionally hitting 140 mark. Bowling at 150 ks day in and day out puts immense load on the spine.
Brett Lee, an out and out fast bowler had a stint of 8 years at test level. By relying on accuracy and swing or off the pitch movement a Kapil or Anderson spared their body. Mcgrath had a slightly longer run up than Kapil or Anderson. Cutting down on run up saves one’s energy. Both Richard Haddlee and Michael Holding, legends in their own right shortened their run up at later stage of their career.
It’s evident that some cricketers look fitter than others on the park. But the real fitness lies in the length of survival at the top. Many of Anderson’s fast bowling partners are into retirement – Stephen Harmison bade adieu in 2009, Matthew Hoggard in 2008. Jimmy though is still shaping it out toward the slip with unwavering precision. The way his body’s shaping it looks 600 milestone is just a stone’s throw.