Two decades of Brilliance | The Wonderful career of James Anderson:
A fast bowler and playing after 40 seem absurd to be mixed together in a recipe but James Anderson is a rebel in everything he does. Anderson now stands at the second position in the list of most capped players in Test matches, with experience of 177 Test matches in his bag.
The Right armer played his first international match, a One day International, against Australia on 15th of December 2002, exactly 20 years ago from today, the day we are chronicling the myriads of milestones he achieved throughout his career. His first match wearing England’s jersey was against arch-rivals Australia.
In 2003 World cup he ignited fire world wide by bowling an incredible spell against Pakistan and claimed important wickets of Saeed Anwar, Inzamam ul Haq, Rashid Latif and Mohammad Yousaf. The World was bamboozled by his fearless frame of mind.
His debut Test was against Zimbabwe in May 2003 in which he took 5 wickets in the first innings joining the then 42 member club of the English players with a similar feat. Just a month after this impressive outing, he played havoc with Pakistan’s lineup in the 2nd ODI match against them by claiming a hattrick. Was there any stopping him after this? Definitely yes. Did Anderson stop? No.
Injuries and change in action saw him being sidelined from the team for a few years. However, he came back better, stronger and more lethal. In only his 29th Test match, the English quick completed his 100 wickets at the Oval in 2008. Just a little more than 2 years after achieving this, he dashed to achieve 200 wickets on the back of his magnificent outings in 2010 in which he got 57 strikes to his name.
The English fast bowler went on achieving milestones as if it were the last thing on the planet he had to do. In 2013, after 81 tests only, the Lancashire-born reached 300 wickets. Finally in his 100th Test, he became his country’s highest wicket taker of all times by breaking Ian Botham’s record of 383.
Incessantly, the right armed bowler kept on breaking stumps and adding feathers to his already heavy cap. 2017 was the year when he became the first English bowler and 6th bowler overall to take 500 wickets in Tests, joining the elites of the game.
His greatness did not let him breathe even here. In 2020, Burnley Lara, as they call him, became the first fast bowler to add 600 wickets next to his name.
As of now, with 962 timbers he sits at third position, just below the great Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralidaran, in the list of highest wicket-takers across formats. Talking about his unbelievably long career as a bowler, he credited fortune for helping him nurture his desire and love for cricket for this long.
“I feel proud to have got to where I have. I feel fortunate as well that I’ve still got the love for the game and the desire to get better and still do the training and the nets and whatever else that comes with it. Because with a lot of people that’s the first thing that goes, and that’s when you start slowing down and winding down. But for me, I feel like that passion is still there. So I feel fortunate for that. I feel fortunate that my body’s still functioning properly and allowing me to do the job that I love.”
James Anderson, interestingly, is the only player from the English squad for the Pakistan tour, who came back after 17 years. More interestingly, the career of the right arm quick is around 3 years older than the T20I format of cricket.