England fast bowler James Anderson is only seven wickets away from becoming the most successful fast bowler in Test Match history.
Sitting at 557 wickets in 141 matches, Anderson is set to overtake Australian Glenn McGrath who currently holds the record with 563 wickets.
McGrath finished his international career for Australia in 2007, and is expected to be dethroned by Anderson, who’ll participate in the fourth test between England and India in Southampton beginning on August 30th.
The Aussie told the Daily Mail he couldn’t be happier his record will be broken.
“I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy,” McGrath said.
“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.”
McGrath has always stated that no modern fast bowler will be able to catch up and overtake the new record Jimmy sets.
“Once Jimmy goes past me it will be interesting to see where he wants to set the bar. With the nature of the game these days, and the amount of Twenty20 cricket, I believe no fast bowler will ever go past him,” McGrath said.
“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.”
Anderson, 36 years old, just two weeks ago achieved the highest ranking of any bowler for England in their test history, with coach Trevor Bayliss suggesting Anderson could be setting down balls at the age of 40.
However, McGrath was skeptical of those remarks.
“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,” McGrath said.
“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.
“I always wondered if I would know the right time to retire. After that first Ashes Test in Brisbane in 2006 I had no intention of stopping. I was still focused and wanted a thousand international wickets. I was still driven.
“Then I went home after that match, went to bed, woke up and it just wasn’t important to me any more. It hit me just like that and I retired from Test cricket at the end of that series after 124 games. I knew it was time to hang the boots up.
“Maybe that will happen with Jimmy but there’s not much sign of it yet. And with the way he’s going it will be up to him to decide how long he goes on for. I can’t imagine any selector being daft enough to call time on him.”
The only criticism over Anderson’s career would be his ability to produce in conditions not suited to fast bowling.
361 of the 557 wickets have been taken in England, along with 21 out of 26 five-wicket hauls, with McGrath saying he does struggle when the bowl isn’t swinging.
“That was certainly the case early in his career but he’s developed his skills as he’s gone on and become much more effective overseas. When Jimmy plays at home with the Dukes ball he’s second to none, but he has had to learn how to operate overseas with the Kookaburra ball that, to me, is not nearly as good to bowl with. It took him a while but he’s done that now,” McGrath said.
“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.
“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.”