James “Jimmy” Anderson becomes fourth and first fast bowler to reach 600 wickets. He has achieved the feat in 156 tests and a journey which is 17 years and counting. He still looks determined and hungry for more wickets. He achieved the feat by dismissing Azhar Ali on the last day of the third and final Test at Ageas Bowl Southampton. He has joined an elite list with only Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble ahead of him. All three are spinners and Anderson is the only pacer to have joined the list which itself explains the magnitude of the achievement.
Anderson had become the highest wicket-takers among fast bowlers in 2018 when he dismissed Mohammed Shami to go past McGrath‘s tally of 563. He made his ODI debut first in 2002 against Australia and in 2003 had made his test debut against Zimbabwe. He was a regular in ODI setup till 2015 WC but after that has not played in the format.
He started test career as a second-line bowler with Hoggard, Harmison, Caddick in the lead role but he remained a vital bowler in Tests for them and during the 2010 test series against Pakistan at home he establish himself as best test bowlers with and leader of the attack. From that point, there was no stopping him as he became the youngest English bowler to reach 200 test wickets in 2011 and became the first Englishmen to take 400, 500 and 600 wickets.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad started hunting in pairs and in-home conditions, where duke ball swings is a rule and not an exception, were a serious threat. Anderson is in his 17th year of international cricket and has gone better with age like old wine. He has had his share of injuries which are part and parcel of anyone’s career. There have been times when a bad series has made critics say that he should retire but he has given answers by taking wickets. He takes the risk of bowling up, to be driven, to induce an edge. Critics have also labelled him as a home conditions bowler as he struggles outside England but then even in home conditions you have to take wickets.
In 2018 home series against India, Mohammad Shami was swinging the ball but was missing edges and Anderson at 36 was inducing edges. English conditions mostly favour bowlers which means bowlers would call the shots and won that case also you should now “HOW & HOW MUCH” to swing the ball to take wickets. Warne has suggested saving ageing Anderson for home tests only to prolong his career but that is for ECB to look after.
I expect the “SIR” tag for him sooner than later for being one of the modern-day greats. He still swings it both ways from 4th stump line. Playing at 38 years, fitness levels have to be exceptional which Anderson has maintained and looks good for one more season.