James Anderson does not seem like he’s willing to slow down. When 34-35 is usually seen as a time where fast bowlers slow down and look for other places to ply their trade, James Anderson continued. He continued to push through the hard grind of Test Cricket, and at 40 he is once again the best bowler in the World.
He has just received his 179th Cap and is back at the spot where his journey started as Stuart Broad’s bowling partner. 15 years ago, the pair combined to become a regular feature of the England bowling attack, and now, James Anderson and Stuart Broad still remain among the best bowlers in the World. A sign of James Anderson aging well is his average. With seven wickets in the first Test James Anderson got his average under 26 for the first time since his second Test. He went past the 35 mark in 2017, and has taken 215 wickets since then.
Over the five year period, James Anderson continuously improved his numbers. Over the period he has gone up to seventh on the list of most wickets away from home. For a bowler who is often seen as a home track bully, James Anderson has actually done it all. Barring India, Pakistan and UAE, James Anderson has a five wicket haul in each country he has played in. In the last five years too, James Anderson proved that he is not a bowler who only plays when the conditions suit him.
In the previous Ashes down-under, James Anderson displayed his skills nicely on the bouncy tracks as he took four wickets in Melbourne to keep a struggling England in the Test match. In 2017 and 2013 too, with England producing disastrous performances on both visits to Australia, James Anderson stood up as a bright spot, churning out tireless spells for his captains on both occasions.
In the subcontinent, James Anderson bowled with an average of 18.5 across two Tests a couple months ago. In India, with 13 Tests under his belt, he has an average of 29 and has earnt the praise of Indian Captain MS Dhoni, for his bowling in India, on spinning tracks in 2012. On his most recent visit too, James Anderson produced some of the best spells of the series, breaking the back of the Indian middle-order on his own with a stunning display of reverse swing in Chennai.
Under Ben Stokes though, James Anderson has turned another corner in his long career. With the entire line-up focusing to be more aggressive, James Anderson has not hesitated at all with his bowling. He has a bowling average of 17.40 under Ben Stokes, and consistently finds ways to pick up a wicket or two each innings. He remains England’s go to bowler, with Ben Stokes turning to James Anderson whenever he needs a wicket. He is yet to bowl a wicketless innings under Ben Stokes. His success over the period has been spread out as well as he found success at home, Pakistan and is now doing well in New Zealand again.
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His return to the spot as best Test bowler is proof of his ability to constantly improve. His average over the years has been getting better and better and with the way James Anderson is going he does not seem like he will be slowing down anytime soon. with 179 Caps, he has a few more to go given there is an Ashes at home later this year. While the upcoming Ashes is his target, James Anderson’s fitness and drive may push him to play on, leaving one to wonder how many years and not months he has left in him.
For now though a 40 year old fast bowlers is back on top, and he is the oldest fast bowler to get to the spot since 1936. His position at the top may be short-lived with Ravichandran Ashwin only two points behind, but the rise for the young James Anderson though has been worth watching, and with more cricket to come, James Anderson is guaranteed to provide some more interesting moments through his career. He is going after Shane Warne’s tally of 708 wickets, and that could come up very soon with the way he is bowling at the moment.