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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

India vs England: James Anderson equals Glenn Mcgrath, becomes highest wicket-taking pacer in Tests

James Anderson scalped two wickets during India’s second innings at the Oval on Monday and that helped him take the top spot in the illustrious list along with Glenn Mcgrath

cricket Updated: Sep 11, 2018 09:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
James Anderson, center, celebrates taking the wicket of India's Shikhar Dhawan.
James Anderson, center, celebrates taking the wicket of India's Shikhar Dhawan.(AP)

James Anderson matched the record of the most successful Test fast bowler of all time at the Oval on Monday after England’s master of swing tied Australian Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 wickets in the fifth and final Test against India.

Anderson, 36, trapped Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara in one over to draw level with McGrath, leaving India facing defeat that would give England the series 4-1.

England’s leading wicket-taker, playing in his 143rd Test, has seen the record as a major target at the start of the five-match series.

McGrath, a vital member of Australia’s all-conquering sides from 1993 to 2007, had achieved his haul in 124 Tests. Anderson came into this series with concerns over his right shoulder, but has bowled beautifully and is the leading wickettaker for the series.

Anderson trapped Dhawan and Pujara plumb, beating them with pitched-up deliveries after England declared their innings to push for victory. It was reward for another tireless soldier of English cricket.

The England team management had spoken about managing the workload of Anderson and Stuart Broad – their combined tally was 10 short of 1,000 ahead of the Oval Test. However, both have played on, bolstering the bowling and making amends for the brittle batting.

READ: India vs England: Alastair Cook walks off to golden sunset

Achieving the landmark in The Oval Test would be doubly sweet for Anderson – with the final day to come -- after former skipper Alastair Cook struck a brilliant 147 in his final Test innings. Anderson has the most England caps after Cook (161).

McGrath recently hailed Anderson, predicting none would come close to Anderson’s record once he goes past him. Virat Kohli was Stuart Broad’s wicket No 433, but he is 32 and with Anderson to go on until the 2019 Ashes he will have lot of catching up to do.

Anderson, unlike his Aussie counterpart, has been underrated.

It could partially be due to his away record – 174 wickets in 54 Tests at an average of 34.15 with five five-wicket innings hauls and no 10-wicket match hauls. It reflects Anderson’s swing bowling, which however makes him almost unplayable in English conditions.

One comparison can be McGrath’s away record – of his 563 victims, 260 have come away from home from 55 matches, at an average of 21.35 with 18 five-wicket innings hauls and one 10-wicket haul. McGrath’s consistency with line and length has got him success all over.

READ: Twitter pays tribute to Alastair Cook after farewell ton at The Oval

Another perhaps cruel comparison would be McGrath’s record in England (14 Tests, 87 wickets @ 19.34, eight five-wicket innings hauls) and Anderson’s in Australia (18, 60, 35.43, one five-for). It also reflects the lack of swinging conditions in Australia, especially with the Kookaburra ball.

However, Anderson’s place as an all-time great is secure, for longevity and match-winning qualities. He is among the seniormost players, having made his debut in 2003 (Rangana Herath debut in 1999).

Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708) may be too far away but with Anderson looking to go on till the Ashes series, Anil Kumble’s 619 doesn’t look safe. That will help him break into the elite spinners’ club at the top.