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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - James Anderson is born - the seamer with more Test wickets than anyone else

England v West Indies - July 12, 2020 England's James Anderson in full flight
England v West Indies - July 12, 2020 England's James Anderson in full flight
©Reuters

July 30, 1982 - James Anderson, who turns 38 today, is well poised to become the first seamer to take 600 test wickets.

 

Can a seamer actually take 600 test wickets? Is it humanly possible for a medium-pace bowler to keep going for so long?

A decade ago that might have seemed out of question with three spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble leading the wicket charts in test match cricket. Now, it seems only a matter of time before James Anderson reaches the 600 wicket milestone and also gets past Anil Kumble's tally of 619 test wickets.

It's difficult to fathom that after the trusted firm of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, Ian Botham is England's next highest wicket-taker in tests with 383 scalps from 100 matches, which now seems a mere dot in the horizon.

With 589 test wickets from 153 matches at an average of 26.85 and a strike rate of 56.3, Jimmy Anderson is already the most prolific wicket-taker in test cricket, having gone past Glenn McGrath's tally of 563 wickets from 124 tests.

 

 

 

In terms of oppositions, Pakistan have had it worst against Jimmy, who averages a scary 18.59 against the men in green with 63 wickets from a total of 510 overs. He averages in the 20s against Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

By his standards, Jimmy has not been that good against Australia and South Africa against whom he averages 34.57 and 31.53 respectively.

The delta between his figures at home and overseas is no secret, but 216 wickets in test cricket away from home at an average of 32.06 and a strike rate of 66.94 don't come easy either. That said, his 373 wickets at a sensational average of 23.81 in home conditions are figures to admire any day of the week.

For inspiration, Jimmy can look at his bowling average of 24.81 in the UAE and that of 24.81 in the West Indies. On the contrary, a bowling average of 35.43 in Australia, 33.46 in India, 32.81 in New Zealand, 34.62 in South Africa and 46.08 in Sri Lanka are figures that will definitely not comfort him.

Anderson's steep rise in test cricket began in 2010, a year in which he averaged 22.96 in test cricket. Since then, there have been only two years - 2013 and 2019 - when he has averaged 30 or above. He had a particularly impressive year in 2017 when he picked up 55 wickets at 17.58.

At 38, Anderson knows that he has only a few precious days left on the cricket field, “The big thing is standards. If your standards feel like they’re dropping then, yeah, you might consider finishing. But as long as my standards stay high, my fitness levels stay good and my skills stay where I want them to be and my speed stays pretty good which they have been (I’ll keep playing). As long as you’ve got that drive, then why not carry on?” the seamer believes.

That said, there is no dearth of form or backing for Anderson who turns 38 today. The medium-pacer is eyeing the Ashes 2021-22 as his farewell series and will surely pass Kumble's tally of 619 if he manages to last that long.

Injuries have become more frequent for him over the last one year but the forced break due to the Covid-19 pandemic may have actually helped his body to recover and, in turn, lengthen his career. Whenever the retirement comes, one thing is for sure, Anderson will end as one of the most respected quicks to have played the game.

 

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