Dubai: When the next Ashes series takes place in Australia in 2021-22, a certain James Anderson will nearly 40. However, the owner of 600 Test wickets - the highest among pace bowlers - still wants to be in the thick of action there rather than in the commentary box.
“I’ve chatted to Joe about this a little bit and he has said he would like me to be in Australia. I don’t see any reason why I can’t be. I’m working hard on my fitness all the time. I’m working hard on my game. I didn’t bowl as well as I’d have liked for the whole summer,” Anderson was quoted as saying after his career landmark overshadowed the fact that the hosts won the three-Test series 1-0 against Pakistan after the drawn final Test in Southampton on Tuesday.
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If that’s not all, Anderson is even talking up chances of going upto 700 Test wickets - a bit in zest - but it betrays the intent of the man who has survived 156 Test matches to reach a tally of wickets which was considered as impossible for a fast bowler till now. The 38-year-old is now fourth in the list of leading Test wicket-takers, with only spin bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619) ahead of him.
Glenn McGrath, the Australian who was an epitome of accuracy and guile and previously held the record for most wickets by a pace bowler with 563, put Anderson’s achievement in perspective. “He’s set the bar a bit like Sachin (Tendulkar) has,” McGrath told the BBC.
“No one is ever going to catch Sachin in Test cricket for the amount of runs he’s scored (15,921) and the matches he’s played (200). Jimmy’s done the same for fast bowling.’’
“In this Test I was really on it and I feel like I’ve still got stuff to offer this team. As long as I still feel like that I think I’ll keep going. I don’t think I’ve won my last Test matches as an England cricketer yet. Can I reach 700? Why not?” he added.
“We’re still in the Test championship. There are still series ahead of us and Test matches to win. That’s all I’m really interested in,” said Anderson.
“There will be decisions along the way with the selectors and coach and captain around how the team moves forward but as long as they want me around, I’ll keep working hard and try to prove I’m good enough to play in this team,” he added.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought 17 years later we’d be talking about him getting to 600.” Stuart Broad, his partner in crime who reached 500 wickets earlier in the series, said.
“He’s a role model to follow for every English cricketer... He’s always searching to be better and better and 600 won’t be the stopping of him.”
The England veteran, not surprsingly, is also just a few matches away from becoming the most capped Test player for England. Currently, former skipper, Alastair Cook is the most capped player for England as he played 161 Tests.
Former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar said that playing 156 Tests for a medium-fast bowler is no less than an achievement. “Incredible 600 by @jimmy9. What an amazing achievement. Playing 156 Test Matches for a medium fast bowler is no less achievement. Cheers mate,” Akhtar tweeted.
Legendary bowler Wasim Akram said that hard work, passion, and never-day-die approach have been the hallmark of Anderson’s career
“Champion bowler James Anderson! Congrats on reaching the first-ever 600 wickets for a fast bowler.. hard work, passion and never-day-die approach have been the hallmark of your career.. doyen of fast bowlers, best wishes for the rest of your career @jimmy9,” Akram tweeted.