England fast bowler James Anderson is set to overtake his former skipper Alastair Cook to become his country's most capped player in Tests. Anderson is set to play his 162nd Test in the second Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Thursday (June 10), but he reveals there was a time he felt he was not good enough to play Tests.
"It's been an incredible 15 years really," Anderson said.
"Knowing how much Cooky [Alastair Cook] played it, makes me very proud I've actually got to this point," he added.
Anderson made his debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 at Lord's and in fact, picked up his maiden five-wicket haul in that match. Despite a good show, Anderson did not think he was good enough. "I thought I wasn't good enough. I thought it was a huge step up from county cricket. I remember Nasser didn't have a fine leg for me and I went for quite a few runs. My first ball was a no-ball as well so there were a lot of nerves there and I did feel like this was maybe a step too far for me at that point," Anderson recalled.
With 616 wickets to his name, Anderson is currently the leading wicket-taker among pacers and is just four more away from going past Anil Kumble, who has 619 Test wickets. If and when he goes past the former India captain, only Shane Warner (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (800) will be ahead of him.
It took playing against better opponents for Anderson to realise that he indeed belongs at the highest level.
"It took a few years. I think putting in some performances against the better sides in the world - no disrespect to Zimbabwe - but playing against teams like South Africa and Australia and India. Once you put in performances against the top teams in the world, that's when you can feel like you can actually perform at that level. So it did take a few years and a few tours around the world to make me think I could actually do it," Anderson, England's leading wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs said.
Anderson expressed his happiness over the fact that he has been able to overcome many hurdles especially stress fractures to forge a long career.
"I'm proud of the fact that I've overcome little hurdles throughout my career and they've made me stronger. The stress fracture was like hitting the reset button I guess. I'd gone through a lot of changes in my action before that and that stress fracture was probably a Godsend," he said.
"It made me go back to my old action and since then I've felt really comfortable and got more consistent. That's really helped me and makes me feel proud I got stronger from that and never looked back."
Anderson managed just a couple of wickets against New Zealand in the first Test at Lord's. England will be looking to deny the Blackcaps their first series win in England since 1997.