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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Jimmy Anderson almost there - to enter the elitist 600 club

                                                       What is that Kapil Dev with 434 wickets achieved that Anil Kumble with 619 could not !!

With so many statistics and Records, Cricket perhaps is a batsman oriented game, though it is the bowlers who win matches ! .. ..  A Quiz Q to start with – the first bowler to take Wicket in Test Cricket - Alfred Shaw, an eminent Victorian cricketer and rugby footballer,  bowled the first ball in Test cricket and was the first to take five wickets in a Test innings (5/35).  He made two trips to North America and four to Australia, captaining the English cricket team in four Test matches on the all-professional tour of Australia in 1881/82, where his side lost and drew two each. He was also, along with James Lillywhite and Arthur Shrewsbury, co-promoter of the tour. He also organised the first British Isles rugby tour to Australasia in 1888.

Remember that World Cup of 2003 – India was beaten badly by Ricky Ponting in the finals – on Mar 2, 2003 at Port Elizabeth  - in a low scoring match, England had the match in their pockets with Australia struggling at 135/8.  Andy Bichell was at the crease with Michael Bevan.  Then came a great partnership –  with Australia needing 14 runs to win from the final two overs, Anderson's attempted slower-ball was carted for six and the next ball for four to make the finish a formality. Bichel finished unbeaten on 34 and ensured England's World Cup was over.  Critics back home were braying for his blood !

Today at Southampton in the 3rd Test – Pakistan are struggling on day 4 trailing by 259 runs at the time of posting this.  Zack Crawley’s 267 and Jose Butler’s 152 allowed England declaring at 583/8.  Pak made 273, and were 51/1 following-on. 

The man of the post made his debut at Lords in May 2003 alongside Antony McGrath and Sean Earvine who together did not play 10 tests.  His 5 wicket haul in debut was overshadowed by the innings of Butcher as England won by an innings and 92 runs – that was James Anderson.

At Southampton, seeing Azhar Ali struggle, I was doubting how he became a captain – but he went on to score a century and in the process complete 6000 runs in tests at a good average too.   Azhar’s hundred  was his  first away from home since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan's joint retirements in 2017. He scored the bulk of his runs behind square, pulling and flicking off the pads when England erred too straight and cutting and steering behind point when they when they went short. With Mohammad Rizwan for support, he guided Pakistan towards the second new ball with a dogged innings, but was eventually left stranded, unbeaten on 141. 

Anderson broke his rib in the Cape Town Test. Not because he sustained a blow. But through the repeated effort of pushing his body through the rigours of fast bowling. The England medical team said they had never seen such an injury.By the time he left the pitch - pain etched all over his face having tried to bowl his side to victory - he had delivered 37 overs in the match. Not bad for a 37-year-old; nor was his analysis: 7-63. In the first innings, he had become the oldest England seamer to take a five-for since Freddie Brown in 1951.

Now at 38, he took another five-wicket haul now.  It is his  29th in Test cricket. Only one seamer, Sir Richard Hadlee, has claimed more.Perhaps of more interest, the return, 5-56, put Anderson on the brink of 600 Test wickets. He requires only two more now. And while he has yet to take a second-innings wicket this summer, the way in which he is bowling suggests Pakistan may need some help from the weather to deny him.

The 600 club is really elitist – and when Anderson gets there he will be the first pace bowler.  Muthaiah Muralitharan with 800 from 133; Shane Warne with 708 off 145 and Anil Kumble with 619/132 are there waiting for him.  The 500 club has besides these 4 men – Glenn Mcgrath 563; Courtney Walsh 519 and Stuart Broad with 514.

The Q at the start was on the progression of Highest Wicket takers in Test Cricket – Alfred Shaw started it; in 1963 Fred Trueman broke the 300 wicket barrier; Lance Gibbs went past him; Lillee took it to 310; Ian Botham stood at 356; broken by Richard Hadlee and when Kapil took 432 and finished at 434 –  it did appear that no modern bowler could ever reach out there – but, records are meant to be broken !  Walsh left it at 519 – now Murali is right on top at 800 – which perhaps could never be broken, given the way Test Cricket is played and the way cricketers have to push themselves between Tests / ODIs/ T20Is and Premier leagues.

Well done Anderson,  I expect his getting his 600th Test Wicket  today or tomorrow latest.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24.8.2020 @ 21.15 hrs.

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