England in New Zealand 2012-13 March 20, 2013

Anderson digs deep for final effort

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James Anderson is five wickets away from becoming only the fourth England bowler to claim 300 Test scalps, but milestones will not be near the forefront of his mind as he steels his tired body for one last effort in Auckland.

Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Fred Trueman are the three who occupy the 300-club and, although globally the figure is not as exclusive as it once was, it will be further validation towards Anderson being one of England's finest bowlers.

Anderson's journey has not always been smooth. After bursting onto the scene in 2003, he became a fringe player by the end of that year for a period of two more, before suffering a career threatening back injury following attempts to modify his action. It was only when Peter Moores became coach in 2007 that Anderson was given a sustained second chance and since 2008, the previous tour of New Zealand, he has not looked back.

From that comeback in Wellington, an excellent career has taken on a number of guises. He has taken 233 wickets at 28.13, the most by any bowler in the world over the same time frame albeit in 14 matches more than second-placed Dale Steyn on 227 scalps. It is, though, further proof as to why those two are talked about in the same breath.

He has not been quite at his best in this series - collecting seven wickets at 33.14 - although there have been examples of his skill, including a spell with the second new-ball in Dunedin, which was accompanied by much pent-up frustration, and a burst of reverse swing in Wellington, when he was being buffeted by a strong wind. However, Anderson's own uncertainty about his numbers shows the pending landmark does not occupy all his thoughts.

"It would be a huge achievement. But first of all, I've got to get some wickets," he said. "I think two is the most I've got in an innings on this trip. I'm aware of it. But it's something once I get into the game, I won't be thinking about."

Yet, if Anderson's statistics are a guide, an England victory and the 300-landmark could go hand-in-hand. Since returning to the side in 2008 he has averaged 4.82 wickets in matches England have won.

There were concerns about Anderson's fitness during the Wellington Test, where he needed some treatment on a stiff back, but he has benefited from an extra day off due to the rain which curtailed that match. England also did not train on Wednesday except for those who wanted an extra net, which were Nick Compton, Jonny Bairstow and Graham Onions.

"When you've got just one big Test left, you always manage to find something a little bit extra in the tank - knowing we have got a few weeks off when we get home," Anderson said. "I feel okay. The rain probably helped in the end, getting an extra day off."

There was expectation before the series that England's quick bowlers would enjoy a profitable time in New Zealand, but the successes that have come their way - notably Stuart Broad's 6 for 51 in Wellington - have been hard-earned. That, however, does not come as a surprise to Anderson who has become used to trying to extract wickets in tough conditions.

"Test pitches around the world are generally quite flat, and you've got to work hard for your victories," he said. "It's no different out here. So you can't say they're not result pitches ... you've just got to work hard as a bowler to get 20 wickets in a game.

"That's just the way things are. You have to find different ways of getting people out. You can't always just steam in and try and roll sides over. You've got to use other skills, and that's what we've been trying to do this trip."

Anderson, without doubt, has the skills. Now he just needs to find the energy.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmony111 on March 23, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge: So my stats are impertinent while yours stats are not? Incidentally the stats I gave were the ones you had implicitly used in your 1st comment here. This shows what you base your comments on. The moment I showed those stats you moved to some other stats which form the best subset in your eyes about JA. Shifting the goalpost was never more visible. Btw, even his last 5 years performance is what Heath Streak did ALL HIS LIFE. Please repeat your point, if you had one.

    @JG2704: Saying "...Jimmy not being that good..." is conceding he is NOT in the league of Steyn. The article said something like this so I see this as a +1 for me, please excuse me for being a bit self-indulgent. I think we should exclude VP from this list as his is so far a somewhat anomalous story. Actually, Steyn is an anomaly too. He is a bit too much ahead than any one else.

    If you say JA is next only to DS I'd disagree. If you say JA is (perhaps) best among the rest I MIGHT see your PoV.

  • JG2704 on March 22, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    @Harmony111 on (March 22, 2013, 16:30 GMT) Not shifting the goalposts at all. Anderson was bowling on (away) spin friendly pitches and did better than any other pace bowler - Eng or India by a country mile. Jadeja bowled well and Eng's batsmen are still vulnerable against spin whether - obviously more so vs the quality of Ajmal and Herath who are better but I bet few pace bowlers will have success in India - maybe Steyn and VP which probably says more about their quality than Jimmy not being that good.

  • Harmony111 on March 22, 2013, 16:30 GMT

    My dear JG2704, FFL, Chris OC, cris89: All you guys have managed to do here is Shifting The Goalpost.

    You see, no one ever claimed that Ishant or Yadav or any other Indian bowler was in the league of Steyn or just behind him. No one ever claimed that Indian fast bowlers (ok fast-medium/medium-fast) did commendably well in that tour. Talking about Ishant is useless cos we in India too are frustrated with his stunted career.

    The moot point is Anderson. In my comment, I did admit that he is a wonderful bowler in Eng conditions and I do love to see him bowling there.

    My sole point in that comment was that it can't be said that Anderson has proven himself in Indian conditions cos he took 12 wickets in 4 tests. That is too barren a stat. Even there, he had only ONE good test in Kolkata. I won't say Rohit/Raina have proven themselves just cos they hit some exquisite cover boundaries or get 1-2 beautiful 40-50s. Ditto for Anderson.

    Pls also read TATTUs' comment here.

  • ARad on March 22, 2013, 0:40 GMT

    Many people think that, 'who's that guy from Australia, you know he opened the bowling with that other tall dude through the late 90s and early 00s and then scored a double century in his last Test? Yeah, that guy!', who had a better overall Test average than the Andersons and Zaheers was only an also-ran but, if you listen to the fans and journalists from their respective countries, you would start thinking that Anderson and Zaheers are some kind of extra special talents.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 21, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    @Harmony111: There's no stopping those impertinent stats it seems, as the article states an average of 28 in the last five years is what you're missing. India of course don't have an Anderson, which stood out like a sore thumb in the recent series. Exactly how Jadeja fits in to all this escapes me. Anyway, that series is over now. Best to remember it for what it was: a heavy defeat for India, and not the tinted narrative you've decided upon. A quick check-out of the DVD of the series should clear this up for you.

  • AKS286 on March 21, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    About Steyn - He is the Best bowler in the history of cricket. yes better than W.Indian legends, Oz legends. its true check his stats better than marshall, Patterson, Holding, Bruce Reid,Lilee etc.

  • mikey76 on March 21, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    Seether1. The last 25 yrs has just been a fallow period for English bowling talent. Had Darren Gough or Andy Caddick not been so injury prone they both would have doubtless joined the 300 club. Looking to the future, Broad and Swann will easily get there within the next couple of years injury permitting followed hopefully by Finn. Anderson will break Bothams record and go on to 400 before he hangs up his boots. Not in Steyns class but high class non the less.

  • AKS286 on March 21, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    Yes good to see jimmy in the 300 club. For NZ fans I think Kyle Mills is the answer of Jimmy. But now its tooooo much late for Mills. Mills is also a good swinger bowler in international cric.

  • liz1558 on March 21, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Elvis Presley was the American Tommy Steele; Beyonce is America's answer to Alishia Dixon; Garry Sobers was a West Indian light version of Stuart Broad, and Dale Steyn is South Africa's equivalent to Jimmy Anderson. Simply the best.

  • HatsforBats on March 21, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Congratulations Jimmy, a highly skilled bowler, 300+ wickets is a just reward. Whilst my initial dislike stemmed purely from his bad hair and inconsistency, I have great admiration for how he came back from injury (particularly the knee injury at the gabba), his new ball potency, and excellent fielding. Though clearly not in Steyn's class, Anderson would walk into any side in world cricket ...except SA...or Australia (I'm happy with a combination of Harris, Pattinson, Bird, Starc)...any other side though, straight in.