England pacer James Anderson on Wednesday (September 12) became the most prolific fast bowler in the history of Test cricket. Anderson cleaned up Mohammed Shami on the final day of the fifth Test at The Oval to overtake Glenn McGrath as the most successful paceman in Test history, with 564 scalps. Shami’s wicket also sealed a 118-run victory for England.
The Oval Test also saw the fairytale ending for Alastair Cook, who registered scores of 71 and 147 across two innings and bid goodbye to his England international career on a high.
Cook’s retirement certainly left a gaping hole in England’s fragile batting line-up and Anderson doing the same would have the same effect on bowling. However, the 36-year-old Anderson is not in the mood of giving up Test cricket as yet.
“I don’t really think about it (retirement). I play my best when I focus on what’s ahead of me, the next game, next series, whatever. I go away now, we have a decent break before Sri Lanka. I’ll try to get myself in the best condition possible to cope with the rigours of bowling seam in Sri Lanka, which could be tough. Then we’ll see how it goes,” Anderson quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
“I read something that McGrath said he went into the 2006 Ashes with no intention of retiring and by the end of it he thought his time was up. That could happen to me. Who knows? I don’t like looking too far ahead. I don’t think it helps me or the team either.
“At the stage I’m at — I don’t play one-day cricket. So I have enough time in between series to prepare well and get myself in good physical shape to be able to… we came into this five-Test series in six weeks with question marks — we’ve got two 30-plus bowlers, will they need resting or will they get injuries? And we’ve done it,” he added.
McGrath finished his career with 563 wickets from 124 Tests. On the other hand, Anderson claimed his 564th scalp in his 143rd Test. Even in the late 30s, Anderson‘s fitness level is unparalleled and he can certainly end up with more than 600 Test wickets.
When asked what it means for him to surpass the feat of legendary Glenn McGrath, Anderson said: “It’s hard to explain because, and I don’t want to play it down to much, but it doesn’t mean a great deal to me. Today was about winning a Test, about giving Cooky the send-off he deserved. That’s what the focus was on for me. I guess my mum and dad will be happy because they don’t have to come to Sri Lanka.”
In the list of bowlers with most Test wickets, Anderson is now behind the spin trio of Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619).
“I have said this throughout my career that when I finish, it will mean a hell of a lot to me to be able to see what I have achieved. Right now it’s hard when you just put all your energy into the present and try to perform well for England, that’s all I really focus on,” he concluded.