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James Anderson’s 250 ODI wickets for England: Another glittering achievement for swing merchant

James Anderson is the only England bowler to have taken 250 ODI wickets © Getty Images
James Anderson is the only England bowler to have taken 250 ODI wickets © Getty Images

On May 25, 2014, James Anderson became the first bowler from England to take 250 One-Day International (ODI) wickets. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at Anderson’s ODI career and his twinkling achievement.

Back in 2002, a young tearaway quick from Burnley, by the name of James Anderson burst on to the scene by tormenting opposition ranks in County circuit with his pace and late swing. He impressed County cricket’s cognoscenti, especially, when in a televised game played between Lancashire and Hampshire at Old Trafford, he took three wickets with his boomerang-bending swing bowling.

Marcus Trescothick, the England and Somerset opener, was one of those impressed by Anderson’s heavy dollops of skill. When the England camp was ravaged by injuries during the Ashes 2002-03, Trescothick recommended Anderson’s name to the England camp and the rest is history.

From nowhere, Anderson was suddenly given a window of opportunity to bowl at the likes of Mathew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Gilchrist clambered into his bowling and the 20-year old cut a forlorn figure that day. However, in the next game, England played against Sri Lanka, and Anderson showed sheer willpower to make a rousing comeback. He plotted the downfall of Sanath Jayasuriya with a well-disguised slower one and finished up with creditable figures of two for 48.

Since then Anderson has gone onto trail the sunshine of glory many times. In the ICC World Cup 2003, he bowled an out-swinging yorker to send Mohammad Yousuf’s stumps somersaulting in the air. He was suddenly the talk of the town and everyone expected too much from him.

Despite taking a hat-trick against Pakistan at the Oval in 2003, he soon lost the plot. His action was remodeled which didn’t help his cause. There were occasions when Anderson passed the litmus test of bowling on flat decks with flying colours. For instance, he did well in Pakistan and India in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in 2005-06, but was a touch inconsistent.

It was only when Anderson went back to an action that was based on his old one, did he bowl with a relaxed state of mind and began to taste the glory of success. However, when England toured India in 2008-09, he was scattered to shreds by Indian batsmen. He kept pitching it up to the Indian batsmen on flat decks. No wonder the batsmen feasted on his bowling. It also has to be said that Kevin Pietersen, the captain tended to favour taller and hit the deck bowlers like Steven Harmison, Stuart Broad and Andrew Flintoff over him.

In the ICC World Cup 2011, Anderson misfired. After a long tour of Australia, he looked jaded and yet again in an attempt to generate swing, he pitched the ball up. Since that World Cup though, Anderson has been in fine fettle. He is now the leading wicket-taker for England in ODIs and when playing against Sri Lanka in the second game at Chester-le-Street, he took his 250th ODI wicket.

Leading wicket-takers for England in ODIs:

Player M W Ave ER 5WI
James Anderson 177 250 28.85 4.96 2
Darren Gough 158 234 26.29 4.38 2
Andrew Flintoff 138 168 23.61 4.33 2
Stuart Broad 108 168 28.37 5.22 1
Ian Botham 116 145 28.54 3.96 -
Phil DeFreitas 103 115 32.82 3.96 -
Paul Collingwood 197 111 38.68 4.96 1
Tim Bresnan 84 108 35.2 5.45 1

Figures accurate as of May 26, 2014.

Anderson, since 2011 World Cup, has changed his modus operandi ever so slightly, as he looks to bowl back of a length, angling it into the batsmen and extracting seam movement on most occasions. Only when he finds swing in the air does he look to bowl a fuller length. He has reaped the rewards for it, as since the World Cup, he has taken 60 wickets in 35 games at 21.08.

When on song, Anderson has the ability to penetrate every crevice in the batsmen’s defence with subtle changes of wrists and fingers. The England think-tank will hope that his below par performances in the Ashes 2013-14 was just an aberration, and he can continue to scale compelling peaks in the near future.

Here is a bowler who has come a long way from the days when Lancashire’s player-development manager John Stanworth had to persuade their coaching staff to have a look at him. A fairy tale story indeed!

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

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