James Anderson turns 39 today. The number might give an impression that the modern-day great is nearing retirement but a look at his performance and it’s clear age is just a number for the pacer who continues to be in brilliant shape and keeps adding wickets to his ever-growing tally. Starting is career in 2003, Anderson has become one of the greatest Test cricketers to have played the game.
In 162 Test matches played so far, he has claimed a staggering 617 wickets - the only pacer in history to cross the 600-wicket mark in the format.
He’s just three wickets away from overtaking India’s Anil Kumble (619) to secure the third spot in the list of highest Test wicket takers.
The 617 wickets include three ten-wicket hauls and 30 fifers, with a best-figures reading 7/42. In his illustrious Test career which spans nearly 18 years, we look back at some of Anderson’s finest spells in Test cricket.
5/73 vs Zimbabwe, Lord’s 2003
Back when it all started. A young 20-year-old lad named James Anderson was selected in the England Test squad for the series against Zimbabwe, making his debut at the Mecca of Cricket, Lord’s. A rookie who took the cricketing world by storm as he claimed his maiden fifer, picking up 5/73 in the first innings.
The jitters were there as Anderson conceded 17 runs in his first over, but came back strong to claim four wickets after lunch, by applying late swing. At the time, he became the first Englishman to claim a fifer on debut since Dominic Cork (1995).
7/43 vs New Zealand, Trent Bridge 2008
During the early part of his career, Anderson was in and out of the squad frequently, claiming 80 wickets in 24 Test matches played. Being brought back to the side in 2008, England pinned their hopes on Anderson to make the ball swing. The hosts posted 364 in the first innings, courtesy of Kevin Pietersen’s 115 along with Stuart Broad and Tim Ambrose’s half-centuries.
Anderson stepped up and went on to register figures of 7/43 and 2/55 as England steamrolled New Zealand to win the match by an innings and nine runs.
He went on to claim 19 wickets in three Test played in the tour.
10/158 vs Australia, Trent Bridge 2013
Trent Bridge is Anderson’s favourite hunting ground and there is no denying that. The best performances from Anderson have come at Nottingham and in this particular clash, he registered another ten-for. In an insanely thrilling Test match, England beat Australia by 14 runs, courtesy of the pacer’s 5/85 and 5/73 (10/158) across the two innings.
11/71 vs Pakistan, Trent Bridge 2010
One of Anderson’s greatest spells came against Pakistan in 2010. The pace spearhead claimed 11 wickets in two innings and helped England (354 & 262/9d) beat Pakistan (182 & 80) by a whopping 354 runs. He picked 5/54 in the first innings, but what was more crucial, was he alone removed the Pakistan top order.
In the second innings, Pakistan had to chase 435 after England declared, however, Anderson did not make it any easier for the batsmen as he continued to wreak havoc and picked up an outstanding 6/17 and bundling out Pakistan for 80.