Jimmy Anderson edged Glenn McGrath on the last ball of the India-England Test series by dismissing Mohammad Shami. By picking up his 534rd wicket, Anderson became the highest Test wicket-taker among seam bowlers and is fourth overall behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble. Despite that, he believes McGrath was a better bowler than him.
He was a much better bowler than me,” Anderson said in his column for Fox Sports. “This is not false modesty. I may have gone past his wicket tally, but I honestly believe McGrath’s bounce, relentless accuracy, aggression and ability to move the ball made him superior. He had everything.”
Anderson finished the series against India as the highest wicket taker with 24 dismissals. To further emphasise how much he learned from McGrath, Anderson wrote, “I also loved McGrath’s attitude. He had plenty of a snarl on the field — a bit like me, I suppose — and was super-competitive. He hated giving away runs or not taking wickets. We’ve shared a beer a few times and he’s a cracking fellow. I listened to the way he prepared for games and it really helped me.”
“I heard him say once that he practised for when the ball didn’t swing. So if it did swing, it was a bonus. That philosophy has been a big part of my development. You so often see bowlers pick out a lovely new ball from the bag at nets and it looks great when it swings in the air and nips off the seam with batsmen playing and missing. But you have to simulate match situations.”
Not just the Australian, Anderson also praised South Africa’s Dale Steyn and put him as a better seamer. In 2015, Steyn picked up his 400th Test wicket making him the quickest to get there, but his progress since has been affected by injuries. He has played handful of Tests and added only 21 wickets to his tally. “Of the modern era, I’d happily tip my hat towards Dale Steyn. With his express pace, control and swing, he’s better than me, too,” Anderson wrote.
Next on Anderson’s target will be a 600th Test wicket – something McGrath reckoned is not far from becoming a reality. “McGrath reckons I can go past 600 Test wickets — I’m on 564 — and I don’t see why that is not possible because I feel fit, enthusiastic and surprisingly fresh for a 36-year-old after five Tests in little more than six weeks,” he said. “But I remember McGrath saying he went into the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia with no plans to retire but, by the end of that series, he knew his time was up.”
“Maybe it could happen to me just as suddenly but, right now, I have no plans to follow Cooky [Alastair Cook] into retirement.”