In the final hour of this cricket summer in England, James Anderson, the country’s evergreen seamer, collected his 600th Test wicket with his 33,717th delivery in this format. It was a rare and remarkable feat. Mount 600 is a peak unscaled by fast bowlers. And it is likely to remain unsurpassable in the imminent future. It would require a boundless amount of talent, hard work, persistence, modesty and most importantly, an utter lack of hubris.
The genius of Anderson is multi-layered. A real Sultan of Swing, his dexterous fingers and malleable wrists follow each instruction of his mind. He can swing the ball when and where and how he wishes. He can also “reverse” reverse swing, like he so famously did to outfox Sachin Tendulkar in Kolkata in 2012. Never predictable, he kept the batsmen guessing all the time. If the pre-2012 Anderson carried the reputation of blossoming only in English conditions, a slave to clouds and moisture, in the subsequent years, he added more tools and trickery to his repertoire. His contributions were instrumental in setting up the Test series win in India in 2012 and the Ashes in 2011. For any opening batsman, he was a beast in England and a devil elsewhere.
His biggest achievement has been his longevity. Fast bowlers, stereotypically, hit their peak towards the late 20s. Anderson was just warming up to greatness at that age. The real surge began post 30s, illuminated by the figure that no fast bowler has picked more wickets (336) than him after the 30th birthday. Some bowlers would be elated to hoard these numbers in their entire career. Anderson has his head and heart set on more. At the age of 38, when the siren songs of farewell might have already kicked in, he is busy penning songs of doom for batsmen. The ageless Anderson is one for the ages.
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