Anderson will be unbeatable once he surpasses me: Glenn McGrath
James Anderson is seven shy of becoming the fast bowler with most Test wickets (Getty Images)

James Anderson is closing on a monumental feat. He is seven wickets shy of overtaking Glenn McGrath’s record for the most Test wickets by a fast bowler. Anderson is currently on 557 wickets, while McGrath leads the list with 563. And chances are, that by the time the Test series against India is done with, Anderson would comfortably be sitting on top of the mountain.

McGrath, who retired in 2007, and continues to hold the record for over a decade, feels that once Anderson gets there, he will remain at the top of the pile. If there’s one person McGrath is happy to see surpassing him, it’s Anderson.

“I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy,” McGrath told the Daily Mail. “Good luck to him. I believe once he goes past me he will never be beaten.

“Records are nice and I’ve been very proud to have taken more wickets than any fast bowler in Test history, but any high is there to be beaten and I will be equally proud of Jimmy when he goes past me because the fast bowlers’ union has to stick together, whichever country we come from.

“Being a fast bowler is the toughest job in the game and people do not see the hard work off the field that goes into spending as much time at the top as Jimmy has. We put ourselves through a lot more pain than anyone else. So for Anderson to still be at the top of his game after 15 years in international cricket and with so many overs under his belt just shows his work ethic and his physical and mental strength.”

In the second Test between India and England at Lord’s, Anderson helped England inflict a humiliating innings defeat on the tourists with match figures of 9 for 43. In the process he became the first bowler to take a hundred wickets at Lord’s – thus becoming the first pacer (and non-Sri Lankan) to reach the milestone at any ground.

Anderson also became the fifth bowler to take 550 Test wickets and broke the 900-point barrier in ICC Test rankings, the first time an Englishman has done this since Ian Botham in 1980. With such stunning performances, it’ s not hard to estimate where McGrath’s respect towards Anderson comes from.

“I’ve always said Jimmy was class, ever since I played against him in what became my last Test series in 2006-07. I noted how he swung the ball both ways conventionally, because it’s a real art form. Not many have been able to do that. I can only really think of Wasim Akram, who is another great of the game, who could do that as skilfully,” McGrath said.

England coach Trevor Bayliss believes that even at 36, Anderson has got several years of international cricket left in him and that he can play until he’s 40. Anderson has been in tremendous shape but the prospect of playing another four years doesn’t seem too convincing to McGrath.

“I’m not sure how keen he will be on that but there’s no reason why he can’t go on for some time yet if he still has that passion and drive.

“He looks in fantastic shape, running around like a young fella, and hasn’t put on any weight. He is clearly as hungry and strong as ever. The fact that Trevor would even suggest reaching 40 and still playing is a big compliment. He looks in fantastic shape, running around like a young fella, and hasn’t put on any weight. He is clearly as hungry and strong as ever. The fact that Trevor would even suggest reaching 40 and still playing is a big compliment.

Once Anderson gets to the landmark, he will be fourth on the list of all-time leading Test wicket-takers, behind Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619). And while Anderson may close in on the former India legspinner, possibly even go past him, McGrath isn’t confident of him approaching Muralitharan, or even Warne’s tally for that matter.

“So can Anderson get somewhere close to the three great spinners above me in the all-time wickets table? I reckon that once he’s knocked my tally off the next goal will be 600 wickets and that would be an incredible feat,” McGrath pointed out.

“Then you have Anil Kumble on 619 which is feasible but I’m not sure how close Jimmy can get to Shane Warne on 708 or Muttiah Muralitharan on 800. Even someone as great as Anderson will find that a bit of a struggle.”