Jimmy Anderson: Celebrating England's best ever bowler after 600 Test wicket milestone

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At 4:36pm on Tuesday August 25, 2020, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali was caught by his counterpart Joe Root at slip off the bowling of James Anderson.

It was a special moment for the 38-year-old Anderson, this being Test wicket number 600 of a long and successful career.

He is the first fast bowler to reach the landmark, and the fourth overall after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, Australia’s Shane Warne and India’s Anil Kumble.

Anderson could have done it sooner, having seen four catches dropped off his bowling in the day prior to the Azhar dismissal. In fact, he was only seven balls away from beating Muralitharan’s record as the fastest ever to reach 600 wickets.

He won’t care too much about that. And whilst he will, of course, savour such a historic landmark, Anderson will continue to focus on performing at his absolute best whilst taking wickets for England.

Not even he could inspire England to victory yesterday, both sides resigned to a draw ever since the rain began to hit the Ageas Bowl hard on Monday morning, continuing almost right through until Tuesday afternoon.

But his importance to this England team over the years can never be understated.

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His first over in Test cricket, against Zimbabwe in 2003, went for 17 runs. In his book 'Bowl, Sleep, Repeat', he blamed that statistic on not having a fine leg in place. He duly added one in the following over and took his first Test five-wicket haul.

He was in and out of the team over the next few years, the only member of the 2005 Ashes-winning party not to feature in any of the five Tests, and had to contend with a serious back stress fracture early in his career.

England had attempted to remodel his action in those days, but the injury caused him to revert to his old action. By the time 2008 rolled around, he was England’s leading new ball bowler.

He took 5-73 against New Zealand in Wellington in March of that year, before following that up with 7-43 against the same opponents in Nottingham three months later.

Anderson then played a key role with the bat in the first Ashes Test of 2009 at Cardiff, batting out the final hour with Paul Collingwood and then Monty Panesar, before taking another five-wicket haul at Edgbaston.

On the Ashes tour Down Under the following winter, he thrived in Australian conditions, finishing as England’s leading wicket-taker with 24 at an average of 26.04.

The Lancastrian has kept on getting better and better with age. Scroll down his list of five-wicket hauls and you will see that many of them have come since 2013.

He also has an excellent record away from home. The Kensington Oval in Bridgetown is one of his top destinations, having taken a six-wicket haul against the West Indies there back in 2015.

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That was the same year that the records began to start flowing. Anderson took his 384th Test wicket in Antigua to break Sir Ian Botham’s record, and become England’s leading Test wicket-taker in the process.

Two years later and Anderson broke into the 500 club at Lord’s, bowling Windies opener Kraigg Brathwaite to reach that particular landmark.

His long-time friend and new ball bowling partner Stuart Broad ironically also reached 500 Test wickets earlier this year by dismissing Brathwaite. They have played over 100 Tests together and have taken the second most wickets as a duo in the history of Test cricket, only behind the Aussie pairing of Warne and Glenn McGrath.

At 38, Anderson doesn’t show any signs of slowing down yet.

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He had to contend with several injuries last summer which saw him restricted to bowling just four overs in the entirety of the Ashes series, but he has responded with 16 wickets over five Tests this summer.

There has been talk of Anderson retiring before the 2021/22 Ashes, but whilst he is still one of England’s leading bowlers, you can almost guarantee that the hunger will still be there to carry on.

Undeniably, Jimmy Anderson is one of England's greatest sportsmen and easily one of cricket's very best.

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