Seven wickets is all that separates James Anderson from becoming the most successful fast bowler in Test history. And the man who currently owns that record can’t be any happier to give it up.
Glenn McGrath, who ended his career for Australia in 2007, is at the top of the pile with 563 wickets. But he expects to be dethroned in a few days when the fourth Test between India and England begins at Southampton.
“I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy,” he told the Daily Mail. “Good luck to him. I believe once he goes past me he will never be beaten.
“Records are nice and I’ve been very proud to have taken more wickets than any fast bowler in Test history, but any high is there to be beaten and I will be equally proud of Jimmy when he goes past me because the fast bowlers’ union has to stick together, whichever country we come from.”
“I noted how he swung the ball both ways conventionally, because it’s a real art form. Not many have been able to do that. I can only really think of Wasim Akram, who is another great of the game”
There is a reason McGrath is certain no modern fast bowler can catch up with Anderson. “Once Jimmy goes past me it will be interesting to see where he wants to set the bar. With the nature of the game these days, and the amount of Twenty20 cricket, I believe no fast bowler will ever go past him.
“Being a fast bowler is the toughest job in the game and people do not see the hard work off the field that goes into spending as much time at the top as Jimmy has. We put ourselves through a lot more pain than anyone else.
“So for Anderson to still be at the top of his game after 15 years in international cricket and with so many overs under his belt just shows his work ethic and his physical and mental strength.”
Anderson became one of seven bowlers to pick 100-plus wickets against two teams ESPNcricinfo Ltd
McGrath had an inkling that Anderson would be breaking records. “I’ve always said Jimmy was class, ever since I played against him in what became my last Test series in 2006-07. I noted how he swung the ball both ways conventionally, because it’s a real art form.
Not many have been able to do that. I can only really think of Wasim Akram, who is another great of the game, who could do that as skilfully.”
Anderson is 36 now; he says he feels 32. Two weeks ago, he achieved the highest ranking by an England bowler in Test history. And his coach Trevor Bayliss touted that he could play until he’s 40.
McGrath, however, was doubtful of that. “I’m not sure how keen he will be on that but there’s no reason why he can’t go on for some time yet if he still has that passion and drive.
“He looks in fantastic shape, running around like a young fella, and hasn’t put on any weight. He is clearly as hungry and strong as ever. The fact that Trevor would even suggest reaching 40 and still playing is a big compliment.
“I always wondered if I would know the right time to retire. After that first Ashes Test in Brisbane in 2006 I had no intention of stopping. I was still focused and wanted a thousand international wickets. I was still driven.