Where does James Anderson rank among the greats?

Written by JR Hartley
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If you were asked to predict James Anderson’s 600th wicket, you would have probably said it would involve an outside edge to the slip cordon, after the batsman failed to negotiate an outswinger that the 38-year-old is so famous for. The man born in Burnley has made a living out of that delivery, which is very much his stock-in-trade, and it didn’t let him down against Pakistan on a blustery afternoon in Southampton when he achieved the milestone.

Azhar Ali didn’t react fast enough to the steep bounce that Anderson generated and nicked it to Joe Root who took a sharp catch at first slip. A silent Ageas Bowl was filled with shouts of joy from the England cricketers with Anderson receiving a hearty congratulations from all of his teammates, who admirably, did their best to make the most of an achievement that should have brought the roof down.

Despite the somewhat subdued atmosphere, Anderson looked like a man at peace with himself. He waved the ball around to every corner of the ground, his longer hair, which is now beginning to grey on the sides, blowing in the breeze of the English south coast. It was hard to imagine that this was the same bowler who once sported a red mohawk at the beginning of his career, but just like his taste in haircuts, James Anderson has matured beyond recognition and is now in the reckoning to be considered one of the game’s greats, but where does he stand amongst them?

Statistically, he comes in at number four, having taken 600 wickets. Tellingly, the only three players above him are spin bowlers, Muttiah Muralitharan sits at the top of the pile with 800, Shane Warne comes in second with 708 and Anil Kumble makes up third place with 619 wickets, a figure that Anderson will be quietly confident of surpassing over the next year or so.

Time, however, catches up with all men and, in many ways, Anderson has already secured his legacy, but he will still be desperate to carry on playing. The growing feeling is that he will try and hang on until at least the 2021/2022 Ashes series in Australia. England are at quite long odds to win that at 11/4 in cricket betting but that does prove a stage fitting enough for a legend like Anderson to bow out on.

Nevertheless, as mentioned, Anderson has already done what he needs to in the game and his journey to 600 test wickets proves that he will be remembered as one of the best.

Indeed, there have probably been more talented fast bowlers, like Dale Steyn or Wasim Akram, but Anderson's legacy has been built on longevity and his ability to utilise home conditions like no one has even been able to for England.

The final chapter has yet to be written and you can be certain that Anderson is secretly eyeing up Murali’s 800 wickets in a bid to surpass it. Should he do that, there will be no doubt about who the greatest of them all is.

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Read 309 times Last modified on Sunday, 20 September 2020 15:11
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JR Hartley

JR Hartley

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