James Anderson dismisses theory he is the best fast bowler of all-time

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The dust has finally settled on one of the most entertaining Test series’ in recent years.

Three of the five Tests could have been won by either team, with the margin of victory being less than 120 runs.

Whether it was Sam Curran’s destructive 63 off 65 balls in England’s second innings of the first Test which climbed England from 87-7 to 180 all out.

Or we can look at Joe Root’s decision to delay taking the second new ball in India’s second innings in the final test at the Oval to keep Adil Rashid bowling.

Rashid paid back that faith by breaking the 204 run partnership between the elegant KL Rahul and the destructive Rishabh Pant by dismissing Rahul for 149 with a leg breaker which was remarkably similar to Shane Warne’s ‘ball of the century’ to dismiss Andrew Strauss in the 2005 Ashes series.

As well as all these memorable moments which had England cricket fans on the edge of their seats throughout the last six weeks, this series will be remembered as one where various noticeable records were broken.

Arguably the most impressive of them came in the very final ball of the series when James Anderson broke Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 Test match wickets with the final ball of the series to become the leading wicket-taker amongst pace bowlers in Test cricket, and ranking fourth on the overall list behind three spinners.

The 36-year-old may now officially be the most successful fast bowler of all-time but he still doesn't consider himself the best.

The moment Anderson broke McGrath's record

“I’ll tell you something about Glenn McGrath – he was a much better bowler than me," he confessed in a column for The Sun.

“I may have gone past his wicket tally but I honestly believe McGrath’s bounce, relentless accuracy, aggression and ability to move the mall made him superior. He had everything.

“And it is not a random, top-of-the-head assessment, either. I’ve been studying all of the great fast bowlers since I was about eight years old.

“I heard him say once that he practiced for when the ball didn’t swing. So if it did swing, it was a bonus. That philosophy has been a big part of my development. 

“You have to simulate match situations.

England v India: Specsavers 5th Test - Day Two

“What about when the ball is 60 overs old, the sun is blazing down, the pitch is flat and there’s not a hint of movement?

“So, at practice, I often take an old ball that looks like it’s been chewed by a dog and work on variations and aiming for the top of off stump. That’s the quickest way to improve your skills.”

McGrath isn't the only rival Anderson looked up to, with South African Dale Steyn another former pro the Lancashire ace looks up to.

He continued: "Of the modern era, I’d happily tip my hat towards Dale Steyn. With his express pace, control and swing, he’s better than me, too.

Steyn took 421 Test wickets for South Africa

"McGrath reckons I can go past 600 Test wickets — I’m on 564 — and I don’t see why that is not possible because I feel fit, enthusiastic and surprisingly fresh for a 36-year-old after five Tests in little more than six weeks."

This is great news for English cricket fans who cannot bear the thought of either Anderson or strike bowler Stuart Broad retiring from Test cricket following Alastair Cook bowing out as England’s all-time leading run scorer.

However, Anderson recalls how McGrath said that he went into the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia with no plans to retire but, by the end of that series he knew his time was up.

“Maybe it could happen to me just as suddenly but, right now, I have no plans to follow Cooky into retirement.”

England cricket
Dale Steyn
James Anderson (cricket)

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