Six hundred wickets in 156 Tests to cap a remarkable career. Anyone with such incredible stats against his name would consider if he has anything left to achieve after 17 years in the game.
But not James Anderson. On Peak 600 at 38, Anderson, in his own words, is far from done and has already set sights on scaling Mount 700.
At an age when most bowlers struggle to get up from bed every morning and do the hard yards in training, the Lancashire quick is happy and willing to embrace the rigours of modern-day cricket in the quest of another milestone.
Just when critics were starting to write him off after unflattering returns in the first of the recent home Tests against Pakistan, Anderson, as he has done so often in his storied career, scripted another comeback.
Rolling back the years and showing glimpses of his vintage, Anderson came up with a fitting response to doubters questioning his place in the team and wondering if he still merits spearheading the England attack.
He picked up 3/60 in Pakistan’s first and only innings of the rain-hit second Test, showing yet again that he had lost none of his skills and desire to take wickets. The third Test saw him in his elements as he ran in like the Anderson of old and picked up his 29th five-wicket haul in Pakistan’s first innings.
He could have had more had three catches not gone down off his bowling. His persistence on a metronomic line and length eventually paid off as an edge off Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali’s blade landed in the lap of his captain Joe Root on an overcast fifth day, giving him his 600th in Test cricket. The feat is extraordinary considering that no other bowler of his ilk had come this far.
Even as congratulatory calls and messages poured in, Anderson said he was already looking ahead to his next target.
“I have chatted to Joe about this (prolonging his Test career) a little bit and he has said he would like me to be in Australia (for the Ashes next year). I don’t see any reason why I can’t be. I’m working hard on my fitness all the time. I’m working hard on my game,”Anderson told ESPN Cricinfo.
Anderson, who is the slowest among four bowlers in the elite club to take 600 or more Test wickets, credited his long career to his hunger to perform.
“I didn’t bowl as well as I would have liked for the whole summer. But in this Test, I was really on it and I feel like I’ve still got stuff to offer this team. As long as I still feel like that I think I’ll keep going. I don’t think I’ve won my last Test matches as an England cricketer yet. Can I reach 700? Why not?” the 38-year-old was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo.
While James Anderson brought up his career milestone in his 156th Test, Muttiah Muralidharan claimed his 600th in 101 matches, followed by Anil Kumble (in 124 matches) and Shane Warne (in 126 matches).
True to his desire to still pull on his England shirt, the veteran speedster said, “We’re still in the Test championship. There are still series ahead of us and Test matches to win. That’s all I’m really interested in.
I still love turning up everyday at training, putting in the hard yards and being in the dressing room with the lads trying to forge a win for England.”
The ones who were keen to write his cricketing obituary in haste may hold off on their plan. For, old James Anderson is still game for a sprint. Here’s to 700.