Durable Anderson joins ‘600 club,’ says there’s more to come

Jimmy Anderson has entered the exclusive “600 Club.”

The England paceman became only the fourth bowler — and the first seamer — to take 600 wickets in test cricket on Tuesday, before saying there was more to come in his enduring international career that began in 2003.

The 38-year-old Anderson was mobbed by his teammates when he reached his latest milestone by dismissing Azhar Ali in the third test against Pakistan, with England captain Joe Root taking a high catch at first slip.

Anderson took the ball in his right hand and — with a cheeky smile — saluted all sides of the Rose Bowl, which is without spectators because of coronavirus restrictions. England coach Chris Silverwood applauded on the boundary edge.

Anderson, who is playing in his 156th test, is fourth on the list of all-time leading wicket-takers in tests. Only retired spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619) are above him.

“Massive effort from a great fast bowler,” Kumble, the former India legspinner, wrote on Twitter. “Welcome to the club.”

Anderson is the second quickest to get to 600 wickets, taking only six balls more than Muralitharan.

Anderson prides himself on his work ethic and fitness, and said only this month that he has no plans to retire, with his sights set on an Ashes series Down Under next year.

“I still get satisfaction from putting a shift in, from bowling 25 overs a day and maybe getting two wickets at the end of the day,” the down-to-earth Anderson said. “I still enjoy putting the yards in the nets, making those tweaks with the technique to make sure I’m in good shape going into test matches, doing the stuff in the gym. I think that’s why I keep going.”

Warne has suggested Anderson could limit his work load and extend his international career by playing only in home test matches and rest up during away tours, when he could perhaps act instead as a bowling consultant to younger teammates.

Anderson, however, said he feels “like I can still bowl in all conditions, like I’m still fit enough to play.”

“I don’t think it’s particularly fair on other guys in the team if I just rock up in England to play when conditions suit, and send them off to India and Sri Lanka to do the hard yards,” he said. “I realize there’ll be times when I’ll get left out for various reasons, whether it is resting or them having a look at someone else. I will just try and keep working hard at my game and keep it at as high a level as possible, and just be ready when I’m called upon.”

The 600th wicket should have come much earlier.

Anderson was dropped four times in 37 balls either side of Pakistan’s overnight change of innings between Days 3 and 4 of the final test of the series.

He went to bed Monday night on 599 wickets and the first two sessions of Tuesday were washed out, raising doubts about whether Anderson would miss his chance at 600. However, play started late in the afternoon and Anderson took the wicket of Azhar off his 14th delivery during the two hours of play possible.

Even in his advanced years, Anderson remains peerless when bowling on home soil, where he is so adept at taking advantage of English conditions. Put simply, he is the best bowler in the world when the ball is swinging.

On Sunday, he took his 29th five-wicket haul of a test career that began in 2003. His average is 26.79.

Not playing white-ball cricket since 2015 has allowed him to focus his energy and fitness toward the test format. The extended break to the cricket season because of the pandemic gave Anderson more time to rest his aging body after an injury-plagued period that restricted him to just 74 overs of bowling from the opening Ashes test in August last year until this summer.

“I felt in great rhythm this week, as good as I have done for a number of years,” Anderson said. “It looks like we haven’t got a test match for another few months but hopefully I can keep ticking over and be fit enough and ready to go for the next test.”

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