James Anderson's 600 and other big numbers
England's most successful pacer took his 600th Test wicket this week, making him the first fast bowler to achieve the milestone
On 25 August, the fifth day of the third Test against Pakistan at Southampton, England's James Anderson dismissed Azhar Ali to claim his 600th Test wicket. It’s a milestone that’ll take some catching up to: apart from teammate Stuart Broad and Australia’s Nathan Lyon, he’s the only current player among the top 20 Test wicket-takers of all time. At 38, an age by which most fast bowlers have hung up their boots, he continues to push his body and produce results for England. Here are five significant numbers from a glittering career.
The big one. Anderson is the first English cricketer, and the first pace bowler, to reach 600 wickets in Tests (the next closest is Glenn McGrath at 563). The other members of the 600-wicket club are Anil Kumble (619), Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (800), so Anderson definitely has a shot at becoming the third-highest wicket taker of all time. He’s said he’d like 700 wickets, so second-highest may not be out of the question either.
Anderson isn’t the only active English pacer in the top 10 wicket-takers list. Stuart Broad is number 7, at 514, a five-wicket haul away from equalling Courtney Walsh (519). The combined tally of Broad and Anderson is a mind-boggling 1,114, underlining their centrality to the English attack over the last decade. It’s the only true partnership in the top 10; McGrath and Shane Warne played together but weren’t a bowling unit, and Muralitharan retired just as Rangana Herath was getting warmed up.
Anderson holds the record for highest number of deliveries—33,745—by a specialist fast bowler in Test cricket. The closest is Courtney Walsh at 30,019. He’s also the first fast bowler to play more than 150 Tests.
A 111-run stand for the 10th wicket between Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, on Day 2 of the first Test in the 2014 series between India and England, seemed to set the bar for lower order heroics. Two days later, England’s last pair, Joe Root and Anderson, put on a record-breaking 10th wicket partnership of 198. Anderson’s 81, with 17 fours, is his highest Test score, and the highest by any number 11.
Anderson dismissed Sachin Tendulkar nine times in Tests—more than any other bowler. “It is quite humbling to be the bowler who dismissed him more times in Tests than any other; another reason for me to carry on pinching myself,” he wrote in an article after Tendulkar retired. Tendulkar acknowledged Anderson’s mastery in a talk with Brian Lara, in which he said that the pacer was probably the first to bowl “reverse reverse swing".