On Saturday, the legendary English paceman James Anderson turned 40, by which time the majority of pacemen from earlier times would have long ago retired. Anderson is still expected to be in charge of directing England’s assault during the three-match Test series against South Africa at home next month.
However, the “master of swing” shows no signs of slowing down. Because of the extreme physical demands of fast bowling, it was formerly thought virtually impossible for a Test “quick” to live much into their mid-30s.
James Anderson’s Numbers Getting Better With Age
However, James Anderson, who has already played 172 Tests and claimed 657 wickets, ranking third among all spinners behind only the late Shane Warne and the long-retired Muttiah Muralitharan, seems to be improving with age. Since turning 30 years old, he has taken 389 wickets from 101 Test matches, and he is on pace to take 400 for the first time ever.
Even more importantly, Anderson’s strike rate and bowling average both rise as he grows older. According to data gathered by the ESPNCricinfo website, Anderson averaged 28.47 runs per Test wicket between the ages of 25 and 29; between the ages of 30 and 34, it increased to 25.45; and after turning 35, his average is a fantastic 21.39.
In recent years, Courtney Walsh of the West Indies, who bowls at a real rapid tempo as opposed to Anderson’s efficient fast-medium speed, is the only other pure paceman who has come close to achieving such longevity. Walsh retired in 2001 at the age of 38 after a 132-Test career that saw him take 519 wickets and bowl numerous overs for Gloucestershire and Jamaica.
James Anderson Now Holds Record For Most Test Wickets By Fast Bowler Beyond The Age Of 35
With 180 from 39 games, he now holds the record for the most Test wickets taken by a fast bowler beyond the age of 35. Nevertheless, Anderson, who presently has a comparable 177 from 47, seems set to take Walsh’s milestone.
Though Les Jackson of Derbyshire made the second of his two England appearances back when he was 40 in 1961, other quicks have played Test cricket after that age.
The list of greying Test quicks is dominated by Englishmen, with Gubby Allen playing his last of 25 Tests—spread out over 18 years—against the West Indies in 1948 at the ripe old age of 46. George Geary and the legendary Maurice Tate also played Test cricket until they were 40.
South African Geoff Chubb retired in 1951 at the age of 40, barely two months after making his debut. Australian all-rounder George Kelleway played his final Test in 1928 at the age of 42. West Indian Hines Johnson retired at the age of 41 after making just three appearances.
James Anderson Can Still Come Back As Strong For Spells: David Lloyd
David Lloyd, a former Lancashire and England opener who is now a coach, has been watching James Anderson since his early days with the Red Rose County.
“Jimmy started off as Banksy doing graffiti but now he’s a Rembrandt,” Lloyd wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“I guess we are always looking to see if, turning the grand old age of 40, his pace is down or whether he can still come back strong for third and fourth spells. “The answers are the pace is still absolutely quick enough and, yes, he can come back just as strong.”
In a Lancashire squad that included Brian Statham, another superb England new-ball bowler, Lloyd began his cricket career. Statham was known for his merciless precision and amassed 252 wickets in 70 Test matches for an excellent average of 24.84.
However, Statham’s whole first-class career, which spanned 559 games and finished in 1968 when he was 38 years old, produced 2,260 wickets.
While playing in just 277 first-class games, James Anderson has claimed 1,077 wickets. The disparity between the two sets of data reflects the decline of domestic first-class matches during the preceding decades as well as the rise in Test nation participation.
In the meanwhile, Anderson has not had to bowl hundreds of overs for Lancashire in addition to his international duties thanks to the introduction of England central contracts.
Along with Stuart Broad, a 36-year-old stripling who has taken 552 wickets at the other end, Anderson has established a highly effective twin act at the Test level, just like Statham benefited from bowling alongside Fred Trueman for England.
They were both controversially excluded from the March West Indies trip, but now that Ben Stokes is in charge, they are back in the lineup and prepared to take on the Proteas.