October 15, 2013

Anderson aims for 400 Test wickets

ESPNcricinfo staff

Alison's Tea Break: Anderson aims for 400

England fast bowler James Anderson has his sights on taking 400 Test wickets, a milestone he said he could reach in around two years as long as he remains fit.

Anderson, currently with 329 Test wickets, is second on England's all-time wicket-takers list, behind Ian Botham (383).

"Just 71 more! I don't know. I'd like to think if I can stay fit, then I can do it," Anderson said to Alison Mitchell on her Tea Break series on ESPNcricinfo. "Because if I'm still playing in a couple of years' time, I've got to keep taking wickets to stay in the team. At the moment I'm really enjoying playing and being part of a successful team. That's what makes me happy and why I keep getting out of bed."

Anderson said being second on England's all-time list was "surreal". "Even when I started my international career I didn't think I'd get anywhere near that number of wickets, so being second on the list is still quite hard to believe."

Part of his success, Anderson said, he owes to David Saker, England's bowling coach. "There are still occasions when I need some technical advice. He's great at that too. Working out a batsman is something I've always enjoyed, and I think I'm fairly good at working out someone when I'm out there on the field, but I think actually planning and looking at video footage of people - that's an area that's got better over the years and he's great at that."

Giving an example of when Saker's input had an immediate impact on his wickets tally, Anderson talked about a session break in the 2013 Trent Bridge Ashes Test, when Saker suggested bowling cutters to Chris Rogers. "The first cutter I bowled at Rogers, he chipped at midwicket. I think he [Saker] once had a slip of the tongue and said, 'The bowlers are just putting his plans into place!' He should take a lot of credit because he's done a great job with us, but it is so satisfying when a plan comes off straight away."

Anderson is one of the most complete fast bowlers in the game today. He bowls conventional swing and seam, and has also had great success with reverse swing, which he learnt on the dry wickets of Old Trafford, early in his career.

But to achieve reverse swing, a bowler needs help from his fielders to "keep the ball in the right condition". Anderson said it took the England team some time to get a workable system going. "If you do one thing slightly wrong, it can take it another six overs to get it reversing. If you see us throwing it around the field it'll be straight from one person to another.

"We've got three people who look after it and the rest have to keep their hands off it. Obviously people have to field the ball so they've got to keep their hands dry as well. You'll see us in Sri Lanka, where everyone had towels in their trousers and so on. One problem is Matt Prior, because he is dripping wet the whole time."