His normal feelings may, in his words, be limited to "anger and more anger" but James Anderson confessed he had never felt so emotional on a cricket pitch after claiming his 500th Test wicket.

Maybe it was relief of putting the milestone behind him, or maybe it was a realisation of the enormity of the achievement, but Anderson acknowledged that, for a couple of overs after joining the exclusive club of bowlers to have achieved the feat, he struggled to control his emotions.

While he quickly remembered that he was gruff, tough, northern fast bowler - "I wasn't teary," he added, with a hint of watery eyes and faltering voice - it was clear that the ovation from the crowd, the response of his team-mates and the realisation that he had become one of just six men (and three seamers) to reach the milestone had unsettled his normal equanimity.

"I knew my family were in the crowd," Anderson said. "My kids, my mum and dad and my Mrs. And knowing they were there made it very special.

"And sharing the moment with guys that I've played over a hundred Tests with was special, too. It was an amazing feeling to see how pleased they were for me.

"The emotion took me by surprise a bit. The emotions I normally go through during a game are anger and more anger. But today was a bit more… I wasn't teary. But it was emotional. I don't normally get like that during a game. But I got my focus back after a couple of overs."

It's not hard to understand why he was emotional. While Anderson has been an automatic choice for England for the best part of a decade, there were times early in his career when it was far from certain he would play more than a dozen or so Tests. While the rest of the world revelled in the 2005 Ashes, he sent much of the summer bowling at a cone, and when he did finally win a first taste of Ashes cricket in 2006-07, he found it a painful experience. He claimed just five wickets at an average of 82.60 and England lost the series 5-0. Amid stress fractures and crises of confidence and form, the idea that he would play 100 Tests and claim anything like 500 wickets would have seemed fanciful in the extreme.

"I can't quite believe I've taken this many wickets or played this much cricket," Anderson said. "For a while I was just trying to get back on the park. They were dark times. I'd had a taste of international cricket and I knew that's what I wanted to do.

"But I knew I had the skills and I used to be able to bowl fast. And going through those periods made me stronger. It's made me stronger as a person and a cricketer. It just made me more determined to improve. I think a lot of players go through periods like that, whether it's from form or injury. I probably wouldn't be the bowler I am today without toiling for that period of time."

Anderson has, he admits, "not really" ever been comfortable in the spotlight. He is quite happy to be the man England rely upon with the ball and to revel in the respect that comes with being an integral member of a successful team. But the prospect of talking about himself, of focusing on a personal achievement sits pretty uncomfortably on the shoulders of a man who, for all the grumpiness on the pitch, has remained shy and softly-spoken off it. With the landmark behind him, he can focus on the important business of winning a Test that remains in the balance and then planning for the Ashes.

"I'm relieved," he said. "I just wanted to get it out of the way. Ideally I would have done it on the first day, but Ben Stokes didn't want me to, so I had to wait."

The location and style with which he reached the milestone were fitting, though. It was here, at Lord's where he introduced himself to Test cricket with a five-for on debut as a 20-year-old swing bowler in 2003. And it here, at the 'home of cricket,' that a 35-year-old with wonderful skills and remarkable levels of stamina cemented his reputation as one of the greats with two wickets that not only took him to (and beyond) the 500 mark, but showcased his enduring ability and admirable desire to keep learning and keep improving.

The 500th wicket - that of Kraigg Brathwaite - was taken with one of his relatively new tricks: the 'wobble-seam' delivery. Having set Brathwaite up with an over of outswingers, "I thought I'd try a full, straight one," Anderson said. "It nipped down the slope. Lord's is a great place to bowl."

So resounding was the impact on Brathwaite's middle-stump, that a large chunk was taken out of the ball and the umpires were obliged to change it. The original has already been passed on to Anderson for posterity.

"Lord's is such a special place for me," Anderson said. "To get my first Test wicket and my 500th here will live with me for a long time.

"Earlier I saw Kemar Roach after he got a five-for. He was mouthing "I'm on the honours board." You could see what it meant to him. That's what it means for people to play here and have their name etched in history at such a special ground. I'm so fortunate to have got the wickets I have here."

Anderson's 501st Test wicket was even better. Bowling round the wicket, he drew the left-handed Kieran Powell forward only to get the ball to leave him off the pitch, beat the perfectly presented bat's outside edge and take the top of off stump. It was not only an outstanding piece of bowling, it was reminder that, despite his 35 years and all the miles on the clock, he's good for a few more wickets yet.

"That's the beauty of the slope," he said modestly. "I was thankful to that slope for both wickets.

"But yes, you're always improving. I try to soak up as much as I can from coaches and other players and add that to my game. It's endless how much you can do that.

"I just love playing cricket. It's my biggest passion and always has been since I was a kid. To be able to do it for my country - to be able to play in Test matches at Lord's - is something I could never dream of doing.

"The milestones are nice, but they're not what drive me.

"I want to help England win games of cricket. That's why I turn up every day trying to improve myself. I'm loving playing cricket. I'm really enjoying playing in this team and hopefully that can continue for a while yet."