Every player wants to reach the top position in his game, but there are very few who achieve their targets. In the game of cricket, batsmen and bowlers want to create records and write their names in the record books.
In the recently concluded Test series against West Indies, England fast bowler James Anderson became the first English bowler to take 500 Test wickets. He is the sixth bowler to do this and the third fastest. He achieved the milestone in his 129th Test.
His Test bowling average is 27.39. He has taken 10 or more wickets in a match thrice. On 24 occasions, he has taken five or more wickets in an innings. He is the only fast bowler to take over 300 Test wickets on home ground. He also has 269 wickets in 194 One-day Internationals, averaging 29.22.
Interestingly, the top three wicket-takers are all spinners. Former Sri Lankan magician Muttiah Muralitharan is on the top with 800 Test wickets in 133 matches, Australia’s Shane Warne second with 708 in 145 and India’s Anil Kumble 619 in 132 appearances.
Only two fast bowlers, Australia’s Glenn McGrath 563 in 124 Tests and West Indian Courtney Walsh 519 in 132 matches, are ahead of Anderson.
With 500 Test wickets, Anderson also moved to the top position in the ICC Test Bowlers rankings with 896 points. He surpassed India’s Revindra Jadeja who now stands second with 884 points.
Anderson is the oldest bowler to secure the top spot. Before this, he was last ranked No 1 in August 2016.
The jubilant Anderson, recalling his early days, said: “When I first started out as a young 20-year-old I just tried to bowl as fast as I could and didn’t really have any control at all, but I have learned and now I’ve got more skills and more control. I’ve always been able to swing the ball but I’ve added different skills throughout my career, I think that I am now able to bowl in all sorts of conditions.”
He is genuinely a classical out-swing bowler and also capable of reverse swing with the old ball. In favourable conditions he is very dangerous and sometimes nearly unplayable.
In 2003, just around a week before his Test debut, Anderson became the youngest bowler ever to take a hat-trick for Lancashire.
Anderson made his Test debut in style against Zimbabwe in 2003 at Lord’s. In the first innings, he claimed 5-73 and England won the Test by an innings and 92 runs.
In April 2015, when Anderson surpassed Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383 wickets, Botham predicted Anderson could go on and take 450 Test wickets, but Anderson said that 450 wickets was a long way to go. “I’m not going to think of any target. I’m just going to concentrate on turning up for England and trying to win us games of cricket.”
But after two and half years, he has achieved the 500 landmark and is still going on.
During the second Test against Pakistan in July last year, at Old Trafford, he became the first fast bowler to take 50 wickets against seven major Test-playing nations: Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Anderson made his first-class debut for Lancashire at the age of 20. He luckily joined the international circuit after playing just three matches and since then he has been a regular part of English team.
He is not as effective in away series as at home. At home, he has played 76 Tests and taken 329 wickets, averaging 24.61. In away series, he has taken 149 wickets in 47 appearances, averaging 35.36.
He has one interesting batting record as well. Anderson holds the world record for being “not out”. He has been not out in as many as 65 innings in Test cricket. On the second spot on this list is Courtney Walsh who remained not out on 61 occasions.