India vs England, 5th Test: James Anderson becomes Test cricket’s most successful fast bowler
James Anderson has surpassed Glenn McGrath's mark of 563 Test wickets.

James Anderson, at the age of 36, has become the most successful fast bowler in the history of Test cricket. In his 143rd Test match, Anderson moved past Glenn McGrath’s mark of 563 wickets with the dismissal of Mohammed Shami on day five of the fifth Test between England and India at Kia Oval.

This wicket puts England’s record-setting pace spearhead at fourth spot in the list of Test cricket’s leading wicket-takers behind the legendary spin trio of Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble. It is fitting that Anderson’s record achievement has come at a time when he is the No 1 ranked bowler in Test cricket, an achievement he managed for the second time this year during a successful series against India.

Anderson, who needed three to surpass McGrath when India’s second innings began on Tuesday at Kia Oval, began superbly with two wickets in a maiden second over. First to go was Shikhar Dhawan, lbw for 1, and three balls later Cheteshwar Pujara was trapped plumb for 0. That put Anderson on par with McGrath on 563 wickets, and left India reeling at 1/2. However, he had to wait another 20.3 overs to claim the record-breaking wicket, during which time Anderson looked on as Jonny Bairstow dropped Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran take two wickets to leave India nine wickets down.

Anderson finally got there with the second new ball, taking the last Indian wicket to cap a 118-run win for England that made it 4-1. Remarkably, it came in the 14th over of a spell in which he conceded just 12 runs and bowled nine maidens.

James Anderson has become the most successful fast bowler of all time at a stage where he's ranked No 1 in Tests.
James Anderson has become the most successful fast bowler of all time at a stage where he’s ranked No 1 in Tests. @Getty

As a match-winner, Anderson is unparalleled for an English cricketer. Just consider the statistics: in over 13 years of Test cricket, Anderson has run in and bowled more than 5,229 overs, claiming 26 five-wicket hauls and three of ten in a match. Eighteen of those 26 five-fors and all three of his ten-wicket bags have come in matches that England have won. His best figures of 7/42 against West Indies at Lord’s in 2017, at the age of 35.

Since the start of 2010, he is the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with 416 wickets at 23.99 with a strike-rate of 54.1 while bowling the most number of overs (3751.5). Age has clearly not slowed down Anderson, who in 2017 took 55 wickets in 11 Tests to cap his most productive year in whites. In 2018, he has taken 42 wickets at an average of 20.54 and was last month named No 1 Test bowler with a career-high 903 ratings points.

In mid-July, Anderson returned to competitive cricket after a six-week shoulder injury lay-off and took two wickets for Lancashire’s 2nd XI, and since then has retuned to rightfully lead England’s attack in this series win over India. Anderson entered the series with 540 wickets to his name – he took nine in two Tests versus Pakistan as England’s summer began – and moved upwards with four scalps during the first Test and nine at Lord’s, where he became the first bowler to take 100 Test wickets at the hallowed venue. Four wickets in the loss at Trent Bride and two in the win at Southampton moved him to 559 career wickets, leaving him four to draw level with McGrath and five to make history.

A Test career that started in 2003 with a five-wicket haul on debut versus Zimbabwe at Lord’s has seen the Lancastrian surpass several milestones. In 2015, Anderson went past Ian Botham’s long-standing England record of 383 Tests wickets in his 100th Test. In 2016 he crossed 450 with a match-winning haul of eight wickets as England went up 2-0 over Sri Lanka. It was after that performance – which followed ten wickets at Lord’s – that Anderson soared to the top of the ICC rankings for Test bowlers for the first time in his illustrious and record-setting career.

In September 2017, he became only the third fast bowler – and sixth overall – in the game’s history to reach the milestone of 500 Test wickets; this moved him back to No 1 in the ICC rankings. During this year’s Ashes in Australia, Anderson and his long-time pace partner Stuart Broad overtook Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh to become the most successful new-ball pair in Test history.

He has been most successful in England, where generally favourable conditions have assisted his swing and seam to the tune of 368 wickets. Anderson’s next best numbers are in Australia, where he has taken 60 wickets in 18 Tests. The breakup of his remaining wickets are as follows: 22 in India, 26 in New Zealand, 25 in South Africa, 11 in Sri Lanka, 22 in the UAE and 26 in the West Indies.

James Anderson has had the most success at home.
James Anderson has had the most success at home.@Getty

He has had the most success against Australia, claiming 104 wickets in 31 Tests, followed by 110 in 26 Test matches versus India.

Australian icon McGrath finished his career in 2007 with 563 wickets from 124 Tests. Muralitharan is, of course, the most successful bowler ever with 800 Test wickets, followed by Warne with 708 and Kumble with 619.

Walsh was the first bowler to take 500 wickets, doing so at the age of 38 in 2001 when playing his 129th Test match. In 2005, McGrath became the second fast bowler to the 500-mark at Lord’s on day one of the first Ashes Test. Walsh, McGrath and Anderson remain the only fast bowlers with over 500 wickets; ahead of them are all spinners – Kumble (619), Warne (708) and Test cricket’s most successful bowler, Muralitharan (800).

The next most successful active fast bowler behind Anderson is South Africa’s Dale Steyn with 419 wickets from 85 Tests.