Amongst the group of elites who have accumulated more than 500 wickets in their Test career, there are only two bowlers are still plying their trade in international cricket. England’s very own Stuart Broad recently joined the list during England's three-match Test series against the West Indies and his long-serving partner in crime, James Anderson, who made his Test debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 at Lord’s, is the other.
Leading by sheer example, Anderson, who hails from Burnley, has accumulated 589 wickets in 153 Tests at an average and economy of 26.85 and 2.86 respectively up until now, and on the day when he celebrates his 38th birthday, we take a tour to look at five of his best spells in Test cricket.
7/42 against West Indies | Lord’s | September 2017
The third Test of West Indies’ tour of England in 2017 began with great anticipation as Anderson was on the verge of reaching the 500-wicket mark in the format. However, with Ben Stokes scalping six in the first innings and Anderson himself just two, he saw himself stuck at 499.
Come the second innings and the pacer did exactly what was expected, dismissing Kraigg Brathwaite in his first spell, followed by picking wickets of Kieran Powell, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shai Hope, Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach to complete the innings with a career-best figure of 7/42, as England won the game and the series.
7/43 against New Zealand | Nottingham | June 2008
Ahead of the third Test of New Zealand’s tour of England and Scotland in June 2008, Anderson had a mere 80 wickets in 24 Tests in five years of his Test career, averaging a lowly 37. And while not a lot was at stake, Anderson delivered a performance of lifetime after England had posted 364 on board.
The pacer dismissed all of New Zealand’s top seven batsmen; two of them were bowled, two lbws and three were caught, to end his innings at 7/43, bundling New Zealand at just 123. The Kiwis posted 232 during the follow on, as England registered an easy victory by an innings and nine runs.
6/17 against Pakistan | Nottingham | July 2010
James Anderson played a huge role in England’s 354-run win over Pakistan in the first Test of latter’s tour. After winning the toss and electing to bat, England put 354 on board, riding on the back of Eoin Morgan’s 130 and Paul Collingwood’s 82 off 180 balls. As Pakistan came in to bat, Anderson dismissed the first three from the line-up before dismissing Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir to complete yet another five-wicket haul.
England declared their second innings at 262/9, putting Pakistan in a difficult position. This time around though, Anderson picked six while conceding a mere 17 runs as Pakistan bundled out for 80, with only two players scoring in double-digit. As for Anderson, he finished the game with a figure of 11 for 71.
6/42 against West Indies | Bridgetown | May 2015
After putting just 282 on board against West Indies in 2015 in Bridgetown, England needed a solid performance with the ball to stay alive in the game. Not to everyone’s amusement, it was Anderson who turned out to be the messiah for the visitors as he plucked out both of West Indies’ openers with just five runs on board. And as Jermaine Blackwood looked set to take the Caribbeans out of the misery, the pacer showed him his way back to the pavilion.
Three wickets at tail-end polished off Anderson’s brilliant bowling effort as he finished with a figure of 6/42 - his best figures outside of home. West Indies were bowled out for just 189, but England failed to prevent a defeat as the home team won the game by five wickets.
6/47 against Australia | Birmingham | July 2015
The third Test of Australia tour of England and Ireland in 2015 saw a certain Steve Finn wreaking havoc with the ball, and in the midst, James Anderson’s breathtaking display went under the shadow.
On an exciting Birmingham pitch, Australia decided to bat first and Anderson picked his wicket steadily. He first sent David Warner back to the pavilion, followed by Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh. The likes of Peter Nevill, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon followed suit as Anderson picked six while conceding just 47 runs. His brilliance restricted Australia to a mere 136.
A relatively quiet display in the second innings put England in a commendable position as the host won the game by eight wickets.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Philip Brown