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300 at home for Jimmy

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James_Anderson_England_cricket_JimmyFast bowling is hard work. It requires a lot of strength, fitness and natural ability. There have been 66 players who have played 100 Tests for their country. Out of the 66, only 7 have been fast bowlers. The rest: batsmen, spinners and all-rounders. The 7 fast bowlers are Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh, James Anderson, Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas, Stuart Broad and Makhaya Ntini.

James Anderson is one of just 14 players from England who has played 100 Tests. Only Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart have played more Tests than him. In the 2nd Test between England and South Africa at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Anderson took his 300th Test wicket at home when he had Dean Elgar superbly caught by Liam Dawson for 6. 

In Tests in England, he has taken 17 five wicket hauls in an innings and 3 ten wicket hauls in a match. Overall, in Tests, only Muttiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble and Shane Warne have taken more wickets than Anderson at home, with 493, 350 and 319 victims respectively.

 

Prior to the commencement of the 2nd Test, Anderson had taken 470 wickets in 124 Tests. He is ranked 6th in the overall wicket-takers list and 3rd in the list of pace bowlers. In 55 Tests where England have emerged victorious, Anderson has taken 260 wickets at a measly bowling average of 21.29.

 

Anderson relies on swing to get wickets, rather than outright pace. In England, when the ball swings prodigiously, he is almost unplayable. On the flip side, when he has to bowl in conditions where there is no assistance for the pace bowlers, he is sometimes pedestrian. However, there is no doubting his place in the pantheon of all-time great fast bowlers.

Anderson made his Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lords in May 2003 and had a relatively quiet start to his career. From his debut till December 2009, he took 148 wickets in 44 Tests at a bowling average of 34.85, an economy rate of 3.44 and a bowling strike rate of 57.4.

However, from then to the commencement of the ongoing 2nd Test against the Proteas, he had taken a further 322 wickets at a bowling average of just 25.5, an Economy rate of 2.73 and a bowling strike rate of 55.9. To put things in perspective, from the time he made his debut, he remains the highest wicket-taker in Tests, ahead of his fast bowling contemporaries like Dale Steyn and Mitchell Johnson who took 417 and 313 wickets at bowling averages of 22.3 and 28.4 respectively.

All fast bowlers hunt in pairs and Anderson’s partner in crime is Stuart Broad. They share a prolific partnership in Tests. They have both played in 91 Tests together and have taken a staggering 694 wickets between them in these 91 Tests. Anderson has taken 363 wickets at a bowling average of 26.77 and a bowling strike rate of 56.4, while Broad has a respectable 331 wickets at 28.65 at a bowling strike rate of 56.8. In Tests not featuring Stuart Broad, Anderson has taken 107 wickets in 32 Tests at a bowling average of 34.18. 

Anderson’s away record is pretty modest. He has taken just 149 wickets in 47 Tests away from home at the less than impressive bowling average of 35.36. 

 

Anderson’s favourite opponents in Tests are Pakistan, against whom he has taken 54 wickets at just 18.5. 2010 was his best calendar year in Tests as he took 57 wickets at a bowling average of 22.96.

 

One of Anderson’s main assets is his ability to dismiss the main batsmen of the opposition cheaply. Unlike, some bowlers, he dismisses the top order of the opposition rather than just feasting on lower order wickets. He has dismissed the following batsmen most times in Tests:

Peter Siddle- 11 times in 20 Tests.
Michael Clarke- 9 times in 26 Tests.
Sachin Tendulkar- 9 times in 14 Tests.
Shane Watson- 8 times in 19 Tests.
Brad Haddin- 7 times in 20 Tests
Jacques Kallis- 7 times in 15 Tests.
David Warner- 7 times in 11 Tests.
Kumar Sangakkara- 7 times in 8 Tests.
Lahiru Thirimanne- 7 times in 8 Tests.

Anderson has been compared unfavourably with Dale Steyn and Mitchell Johnson as he does not have the strike rate or average of Steyn and the blinding pace of Johnson. However, he has still managed to carve a reputation for himself as one of the outstanding swing bowlers of his generation. 

Anderson deserves a place in the pantheon of all-time great swing bowlers and will hopefully become the 3rd pace bowler to achieve the milestone of 500 Test wickets.

 

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