England captain Joe Root
Joe Root (AFP Photo)

James Anderson‘s frustrating wait to become the most successful fast bowler in Test cricket came to an end when he removed the last India batsman to seal 118-run win. The scalp of Mohammed Shami was his 564th in Tests and he thus surpassed Australia legend Glenn McGrath‘s tally of 563 wickets.

Now, Anderson is fourth in the all-time list of highest wicket-takers after Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Australian Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619).

England captain Joe Root hopes the 36-year-old Anderson will continue to be England attacks’ most potent weapon in the coming years. He finished the five-Test series with 24 wickets at 18.12 – the most from either side.
“What Jimmy has achieved and what he’s capable of achieving still is astounding really,” Root said on Tuesday. “He looked very determined – and when he’s in that mood, you want to just keep him going as long as possible.”

“For him to be in the same league as McGrath, and now chasing the big two spinners, is phenomenal. I think the most exciting thing is he’s bowling at his best and I can see that carrying forward for a long time still. I hope there’s going to be a number of series in the future where he is leading the attack, and terrorising batters.”

Ahead of the series, the top-ranked India were expected to give England a tough fight which they did but a scoreline of 4-1 tells a different story. While both the teams had their share of problems, England seized the vital moments which ultimately made the difference.

Root, 27, is aware of the challenges that lay ahead of his team and he feels that England are constantly improving and have shown they have the capability to excel in testing situations.

“I think we are on an upward curve and have shown a lot of improvement throughout this summer. When we have had tough days and tough moments we have responded well to that,” he said. “This winter will pose a lot of challenges and we can show some growth as a team and show some consistency like the one-day side have. It is a great chance to do that now. It has been a brilliant summer of Test cricket and it’s been a fabulous win.

He further added, “There are always areas where you are looking at improvement. Both sides top order have found things very difficult. It proves more than anything it has been challenging against the new ball on these surfaces. We have been very smart and made sure we have got to totals.”

Alastair Cook signed off his international career in an emphatic fashion scoring a century in his final Test innings. Him scoring a century and Anderson going past McGrath were among the highlights of the fifth Test at The Oval which concluded on Tuesday.

“For Alastair to go out like that, and Jimmy to finish the game off in real style was so fitting for those two guys – who are really close mates. They’re going to miss playing with each other,” Root said.

Root revealed he did ask Cook whether he was confident of his decision to retire. “Few times this week I have asked him (Cook) whether he is sure he is making the right decision. I am just so pleased that he can go out in real style. I’m sure whatever he chooses to do next he will be great,” he said.

Root was at the other end when Cook reached his 33rd century on Day 2 and for him it’s a moment he’ll remember forever. “It was an amazing reception (for Cook’s century) and a very fitting one as well. You could see how much it meant to him and his family. You saw his kids on the screen clapping and he nearly started tearing up.

“It all got a bit emotional in the middle. It shows how much he has meant to English cricket. To be out there and see that up and close I will savour that forever.”