James Anderson: The king of swing

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22 May 2020 | 08:10 AM
authorAnirudh Kasargod

James Anderson: The king of swing

On this day in 2003, one of the world’s finest fast bowlers made his debut in Tests

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There is always a wow factor when a batsman plays an elegant stroke like a cover drive or straight drive. In the same manner, there are few bowlers who have a beautiful, elegant and majestic action with great control. When we talk about smooth run-up, control and swing for a fast bowler, there are a few who flash up and James Anderson would be at the top of that list without a doubt. Anderson, isn’t the kind of a bowler who relied on speed, perpetual swing was his weapon. 

The English pacer made his Test debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 at Lord’s and was off to flyer with a 5-wicket haul in his debut innings. He finished on a high with 26 Test wickets in 2003. However, citing a few injuries and with a remodeled action, Anderson was an irregular in the English outfit till 2007. His revival came in the year 2008, where he bagged 46 wickets at an average of 29.8. Since then Anderson became buoyant and just left a trail of records. There wasn’t a calendar year in which he bagged less than 35 Test wickets till 2019. 

In April 2015, with the wicket of Denesh Ramdin, Anderson surpassed Sir Ian Botham to become the leading wicket-taker for England in Tests. Later in the same year against New Zealand, he became the first English bowler to reach the 400 mark. In 2017, an inswinger to Kraigg Brathwaite at Lord’s, which swung appreciably fetched him his 500th Test wicket, the 6th overall and the 3rd pacer to achieve this in Tests. 11th September 2018, is a date that will be etched in gold in his career, for Anderson as he became the most successful pacer in Tests surpassing Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 wickets. Anderson now has 584 wickets to his name in Tests and is the 4th highest wicket-taker overall. 

THE NEW BALL ASSASSIN 

Just like how the openers have a massive responsibility of providing a firm base, the opening bowlers as well share the same burden. In Anderson’s case that responsibility turned out to be his biggest strength as he owned the new ball (considering 1-25 overs), especially in conditions that suited his style, he was a tormentor to any batsman. That is the reason why, probably the best batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Clarke, David Warner and others were his bunnies. Anderson has been the best with the new ball with 204 wickets at an average of 27.6. Close to 35% of his career wickets have come with the new ball (from overs 1-25).

The visuals of a top-order batsman skipping and hopping around facing the new ball is never a positive sign back in the dressing room, over that, a fully fit and an in-form Anderson running in towards them is a much more of a terrorizing sight. Anderson’s success with the new ball reflects how good he can be against the top order. He has been one of the most successful bowlers against them in Tests with 219 top order wickets. 

THE PARTNER IN CRIME

There are couple of bowling pairs who have agonized the cricketing world while bowling in tandem, Anderson and Broad are one among those pairs in recent times. Broad hasn’t been far off Anderson as he has shared almost the same amount of success and their pair has been a lethal one.

Since 2011 in Tests, Anderson and Broad have 388 wickets while bowling in tandem (bowling together as a pair in a spell), which is 100 wickets more than the next pair. This shows the kind of dominance that these two have achieved. 


It is just a treat to watch the two go about their business in the first few overs, pressurizing the batsmen, making them think twice or setting a collective sense of fear in the minds of the incoming batsmen. Nearly 50% of their wickets have come in the first 25 overs of the innings.

The highest wicket-taker for England in both Tests and ODIs has had an illustrious career. Geoffrey Boycott once said “Anderson has a gift from the gods, he could swing an orange if given”. That is the kind of reputation Anderson has developed over the years.  

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EnglandJames Michael AndersonStuart Christopher John Broad

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