James Anderson is arguably England finest bowler of all time. He has come a long way since breaking into the international arena with magical five wicket haul against Pakistan at Cape Town in ICC Cricket World Cup 2003.
He remained a regular feature of the side in 2003 but quickly lost favor as the likes of Steven Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones were picked due to their consistent performances. Anderson in his early years was all over the place and was a quick bowler who lacked clarity about his role in the side.
His second coming into the side was at the right moment as the likes of Steven Harmison and Matthew Hoggard performances were on the wane. England were in deep trouble as they were on the verge of losing series in New Zealand. The selectors put faith in Anderson as he returned into the Test side with a bang. He picked a five-wicket haul and helped England level the series.
James Anderson played a significant amount of county cricket from 2005 to 2008 to refine his skills with the ball. He used to try many things in his early part of his career but then developed a wide range of skills to outfox the opposition batsmen. He was the key man in Andrew Strauss’side that won 11 consecutive series during 2009 till 2012. Anderson had been the go to man for England and had to bowl long spells for the side in big games.
He was often regarded as a bowler who was good at home and not so in overseas. But even in his wayward times, he produced a finest spell of reverse swing to see England win a test in 2006 under Andrew Flintoff’s leadership. He came to Australia in 2010 as the last tour was horrendous as England were humiliated 5-0 by Australian side in 2007 featuring likes of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. He was instrumental in helping England take control of Ashes 2010 played in Australia after producing great spell to dismiss Ricking Ponting and Michael Clarke. England went onto win their first ever Ashes series in Australia after 25 years as Anderson bagged 20 plus wickets in that affair.
He also played a key role in England series win in India in 2012 especially a special spell in Kolkata to put India on the back foot. Since his return to the side in 2008, he has picked up 435 wickets from 108 games during this period. He has taken 20 five-wicket hauls with 16 of those produced at home and four of them in overseas conditions.
His most memorable spell at home was his 10-wicket haul against Australia in the 2013 Ashes series at Trent Bridge. His marathon spell of bowling allowed England to win the first test by a whisker against old enemy. Anderson’s finest spell in overseas conditions happened in Sharjah against Pakistan in 2015 series played in UAE. He produced a magical spell on docile pitch as Pakistan collapse for 234 runs in their first innings.
There is no doubt that James Anderson has carved a unique place in the long list of great fast bowlers who have played the game. He is now just 3 wickets away from becoming the only third fast bowler to take 500 wickets after West Indies’s Courtney Walsh and Australia’s Glenn McGrath. It is a fact that England will be relieved that at age of 35, he is still firing on all cylinders with the ball in hand and would want him to play for the side for another two or three years.