JAMES ANDERSON’s DREAM DEBUT
On this day ( 22nd MAY 2003) , James Anderson aka “Jimmy” made his Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lord’s, his favourite ground, where he took more than 100 wickets.
James Anderson, who took his maiden Test wicket on 24th May evening, was back in the limelight shortly after lunch, devastating Zimbabwe’s first innings with four wickets for five runs to finish with the magnificent debut figures of 5 for 73 in 16 overs. Four of his five wickets were bowled, including two in two deliveries,
Anderson had become the first Test debutant to take five wickets at Lord’s since Dominic Cork in 1995. He joined the list of immortals on the honours board in the dressing-room, an achievement that many cricketers have spent a lifetime pursuing. A dream debut indeed.
James Anderson had long proved himself as one of the most skilful and prolific fast bowlers in England’s history in 2018 Test summer he eclipsed Glenn McGrath as the most-prolific quick of all.
His talents have been particularly apparent in Test cricket where his command of swing bowling, especially on his home grounds, has been the stuff of artistry, bearing comparison with any swing bowler in any age. He has been an integral part of three victorious Ashes campaigns and became the first England bowler to take 500 Test wickets. ( and now his pace bowling compatriot Stuart Broad also took 500 test wickets recently)
During the early part of his career he was considered too soft and lacked the attributes of becoming a top-class performer at the international level. But since late 2007 he has been on another planet. With wickets coming against every side and after having mastered the Aussies in Australia his resume now looks complete. During those inconsistent years, when he was out of the side, the England coaching management tinkered with his bowling action which resulted in a loss of confidence and form. But once he went back to an action that was based on his old one, he was back to his best – swinging the ball around corners and taking wickets by the plenty. His stand-out performance came in the 2010 Ashes when he spearheaded the England attack and bowled quite outstandingly with the Kookaburra ball taking 24 wickets – thereby exorcising some of the ghosts of his previous visit to Australia in 2006 when he took only five wickets.
Jimmy Anderson in his book “Jimmy : My story” recalls his work ethics “ I take my work seriously. I actually practice being confrontational, aggressive and generally in-yer-face. I analyse my own performances, not just in terms of my bowling but how I have conducted myself. Because, I have discovered, I tend to be more effective as a bowler when I am chuntering at opponents or involved in a full-on and frank exchange of views than when I am not. Fast bowlers tend to have an attribute that gives us an edge over our opponents, and mine is actually being something of a mardy bum. Because I have not got express pace like Shoaib Akthar nor am I built like a brick outhouse like Chris Trimlet. I need something else in my armoury as a fast bowler to help me get that edge over the batsmen.
For the first six years of Anderson’s international career, the best way to sum up his bowling was to paraphrase Mother Goose: when he’s good, he’s very, very good – and when he’s bad, he’s horrid. When the force was with him, he was capable of irresistible spells, seemingly able to swing the ball round corners at an impressive speed.
His one-day exploits has also had its moments as he gradually became adept at bowling in a more defensive fashion, but it is as an attacking swing bowler where he has had few peers. After his dream debut in Tests, he followed it with a match winning Hat trick against Pakistan at The Oval in the same summer of 2003.
Anderson was no rabbit with the bat and was best illustrated when he struck 81 against India in 2014 – his maiden first-class fifty – as he shared a Test record stand of 198 for the tenth wicket with Joe Root in the first innings. He has served England with distinction as a nightwatchman on numerous occasions and went 54 Test innings before collecting a duck, an England record. At Cardiff in 2009 he survived for 69 nail-chewing minutes to help stave off defeat by Australia. He has also been an outstanding fielder, strikingly so for a fast bowler, lithe in the outfield and sharp in the catching positions.
NUMERO UNO IN TESTS
After taking his 600th Test wicket at Ageas Bowl, Southampton in August 2020 against Pakistan , now Anderson is the No. 1 pace bowler in Tests.
Joe Root, England Test captain, paid a rich tribute to Anderson on his 600th Wicket in Tests by saying: “There’s no one that can touch him really, he’s that far ahead of everyone else in my opinion. “He’s a brilliant senior player – you couldn’t ask for a better role model and someone to learn off. He’s a credit to our country.”
Every question around the Southampton Test had answers on expected lines even before the start of play, on Tuesday (August 25, 2020), except the beginning one – Will James Anderson bag his 600th Test wicket in this match?
The magical number of 600 was eluding him for quite some time as there were dropped catches in the slip cordon and adding to the woes a sitter dropped by Stuart Broad in Mid on and the persistent rain at Ageas Bowl. And when it finally arrived, there was jubilation all around. Azhar Ali, Pakistan captain, who hit a match saving ton in the first innings, unconquered, became his 600th Test victim in the second innings, when he edged Anderson’s outswinger, and Joe Root , gleefully accepted the catch.And there was celebration in the ground sans spectators.
Anderson is the first quickie to scalp 600 wickets in tests in 156 Tests and also the first pace bowler to play 150+ Tests.
Anderson is refusing to rest on his laurels after achieving the incredible feat, revealing England captain Joe Root wants him to feature in the 2021/22 Ashes tour of Australia. The 38-year-old became only the fourth bowler after three retired spinners – Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800 wickets), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619) – to achieve the feat when he had Pakistan captain Azhar Ali well caught by first slip Root at the Ageas Bowl.
Anderson will be nearly 40 when England begin their quest to regain the Ashes urn from arch-rivals Australia in 2021/22.
HUNTING IN PAIRS
Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled in tandem in Tests since 2008 took 895 aggregate wickets (Anderson 473 and Stuart Broad 422) in 117 Tests as on 30th July 2020. It is also the most number of tests for a bowling pair in test cricket. If we consider all bowling pairs, only one pair has taken more wickets playing together , viz., Glenn McGrath & Shane Warne of Australia (Pace & spin bowling combo) picked up 1001 wickets in 104 tests. The next highest aggregate by a pace bowling pair is 762 wickets in 95 tests by West Indies duo Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose.