James Anderson was at his best on the final if the first Test between India and England. He picked 2 wickets in an over and put the final nail in the coffin. Anderson delivered a sensational spell of three wickets for six runs in five overs as India tumbled from 92-2 to 110-5 en route to being shot out for 192 on day five of the first Test having been set a world-record 420 for victory.: “He is the GOAT of English cricket. He seems to get better all the time. “His skill level keeps improving, his work rate is as good as anyone’s I’ve ever seen, and his fitness levels are probably the best they have ever been in his whole career. “He finds ways of constantly challenging himself. He is a credit to English cricket and sets a great example to all the young players, batters and bowlers” said Joe Root, England’s Test skipper. However is is safe to call James Anderson the greatest fast bowler in the history of Test cricket? Is he the best?
Earlier in 2020, James Anderson became the first fast bowler to take 600 Test wickets. While there was never any doubt about the England swing bowler’s place in the pantheon of all-time greats, this glittering statistical achievement is a testament to his impeccable work ethic, longevity, and the devotion to his craft. That Anderson has achieved this feat at 38, an age when most cricketers either turn coaches, cynics or recede to the confines of the commentary box, makes it even more commendable. Anderson didn’t quite have a roaring initiation into international cricket. Even though he made his debut in 2003, it would take him a full five years to establish himself in the Test squad. Even then, he was not a finished product; he found it difficult to replicate his successes on the barren, batting-friendly featherbeds in the subcontinent. And in Australia, the absence of lateral movement and the less pronounced seam of the Kookaburra balls made things tougher for Anderson.
Over the years, as Anderson’s pace dropped, he focused on the art of getting batsmen out. He soon mastered the ball that troubles most batsmen – the one that jumps at them from a good length spot. Much can be attributed to those broad, sinewy shoulders, and the supple wrists that can produce both seam and swing. Anderson is an absolute beast at home and has a bowling average of 23.84, only McGrath has a better bowling average than him at home. Since 2014, Anderson has been averaging less than 22, thus making him an irresistible proposition in England. He is the highest wicket-taker for England in both Tests and ODIs. He has 103 wickets at Lord’s – no other international pacer has taken 100-plus wickets at any one venue. So what about his performance away from home? Was he a home track bully or was he equally good away from home?
Anderson has a bowling average of about 31 away from home which is really good for a pacer. He used the reverse swing during England’s famous win over India at Eden Gardens during the winter tour in 2012, knocking over a formidable batting line-up that boasted of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Yuvraj Singh. Anderson’s three-wicket burst in the second innings proved to be the difference. He took fifers in South Africa and Sri Lanka since 2019 itself. So to conclude, he might not necessarily be the greatest fast bowler to have ever existed in Test cricket but he’s certainly one of the greatest fast bowlers to have played Test cricket as well as the most successful fast bowler(in terms of wickets) this format has ever seen