It has certainly been a journey for England bowler James Anderson over the last decade and a half.
As Stuart Broad this week joins the very select group of bowler’s to join the 500 club in international cricket, MM takes a look back at when one of our own, Lancashire’s James Anderson, did likewise…
Last week at Lord’s, he was in superb form as the Burnley-born paceman took career best figures of 7-42 to see off the West Indies.
Perhaps even more significantly, Anderson has now joined a select group of bowlers who have taken over 500 test wickets — Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh have all took a quintuple century of wickets in international test cricket.
Former England batsman and captain Michael Atherton heaped praise on Anderson after he reached the magic 500.
He said: “It’s a fantastic achievement. I don’t think that when he took his first wicket here 14 years ago he’d have thought he’d get anywhere near it so it is absolutely fantastic for him to join only two other fast bowlers (McGrath and Walsh) in the history of the game to take 500 wickets in Test cricket.”
Anderson, 35, is the first Englishman to achieve this milestone but still looks to have plenty of bite left in him — especially with the Australians in his sight at the Ashes this winter.
Here, MM takes a look at six of the best for England’s premier pace bowler.
A Star is Born
Wicket 1 – Mark Vermeulen – vs. Zimbabwe – Lord’s, London, UK (May 2003)
When a 20-year-old Anderson dismissed Zimbabwe opener Mark Vermeulen for just one run on his test debut, it had already become crystal clear that England had a new hero. Zimbabwe’s openers were left stunned by Anderson’s pace and swing, and never came up with the answer.
The first wicket to fall was Vermeulen — clean bowled and sent back to the famous pavilion at Lord’s.
It may have only been Zimbabwe, but right from the outset Anderson’s hunger to re-write English cricket’s history books was on show as he took figures of 5-73 in the first innings.
And what better place to make his mark than in England’s capital city, at the home of cricket.
The Lancashire Centurion
Wicket 100 – Jaques Kallis – vs. South Africa – The Oval, London, UK (August 2008)
In just his 29th international test match, Anderson claimed his 100th test wicket. The man he got was none other than Jaques Kallis — one of the best cricketers to have ever played.
Trapped LBW for just two runs, the wicket of Kallis was a crucial one and set England on their way to a six-wicket win over the Springbok.
Although England were already 2-0 down in the four-match series, the fourth test helped England gain a sense of pride and momentum to take forward into the Ashes a year later.
Anderson was one of the leading lights, and the wicket of Kallis will stand out as an iconic career moment.
Ponting Sent Packing
Wicket 191 – Ricky Ponting – vs. Australia – The Ashes 2nd Test – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia (December 2010)
When the great Ricky Ponting edged to Grahame Swann at second slip to leave Australia 0-2 in their first innings, it summed up a miserable test match for an ageing Wallabies squad in Adelaide.
Anderson claimed the wicket of Ponting, who he dismissed for 12 runs or less on four occasions throughout his career. Ponting is a role model for all batsmen, but he was well off the pace in the 2010/11 Ashes series which England won down under for the first time in 24 years — winning the series 3-1.
The number 24 was significant for Anderson in that series, as he was the leading wicket taker with that exact amount of wickets.
The pick of the bunch came in Adelaide as he dismissed Ponting for a golden duck.
Sachin’s Garden of Eden becomes Paradise for Anderson
Wicket 291 – Sachin Tendulkar – vs. India – Eden Gardens, Kolkata, India (December 2012)
A visit to India is considered the acid test of a great cricket team. When you play India, you’re facing a full nation of over a billion people who are passionate about cricket.
This was certainly the case in England’s tour of India in 2012/13. England stood up to the test; and in particular Anderson as he took the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, 100 wickets on from taking the wicket of Ponting.
Eden Gardens was a playing field for the Little Master; Tendulkar scored 872 test runs in Kolkata, averaging 47.88 each innings.
After claiming the wicket of Virat Kohli shortly before, Anderson struck again as Tendulkar was dismissed for 76.
England went on to win the test match by ten wickets after being written off by many.
Anderson, in particular, received criticism for his inability to adapt to the subcontinent wicket.
These questions were soon answered, as Anderson took figures of 6-119 and earned a man of the match award to put the tourists 2-1 up in the series. It would be England’s first series win in India for 27 years.
Anderson overtakes Botham
Wicket 384 – Denesh Ramdin – vs. West Indies – Sir Viv Richards Stadium, Antigua (April 2015)
Anderson was at his destructive best in the Caribbean in 2015, claiming player of the series as England won a three-match series 2-0.
Perhaps the pick of the Lancashire fast bowler’s wickets came in the first test in Antigua – the wicket of Ramdin was Anderson’s 384th in international test cricket.
The number will forever be significant as it meant he overtook Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383 wickets in red ball cricket.
The test match in Antigua was Anderson’s 100th for England, and he marked the occasion by achieving a milestone which Botham himself was proud of as he was one of the first to congratulate Anderson on such a wonderful achievement.
Botham, commentating on Sky Sports, said: “I couldn’t be happier. I’ve enjoyed watching him bowl; he richly deserves it.
“He’s a magnificent performer. When you are a swing bowler you’ve got to learn how to do it, and the ball he got the wicket with was a terrific delivery.”
Although the match was drawn in Antigua, England went on to secure wins in Grenada and Barbados with Anderson the star man once again.
Back where it all began
Wicket 500 – Kraigg Brathwaite – vs West Indies – Lord’s, London (September 2017)
There can’t be a better sight for a bowler than watching a batsman’s middle stump fly out of the ground.
For Anderson, the sight was even better when he bowled Brathwaite because it marked the best moment of his magnificent cricket career so far — his 500th international test wicket.
The golden wicket was part of his career-best figures of 7-42, narrowly eclipsing the 7-43 he got at Trent Bridge against New Zealand in June 2008.
At 35-years-old, Anderson finally had finally reached 500. With 600 now firmly in his sights, can the Burnley-born bowler go on to accomplish what no other pace bowler has ever managed to achieve?
At the end of his career, the Queen best have her knighting sticks at the ready as a potential place at the top of the ECB’s hall of fame awaits for Anderson.
Image courtesy of ECB via YouTube, with thanks.