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Wine and Anderson, both get better as they age

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Last updated on 23 Feb 2023 | 10:46 AM
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Wine and Anderson, both get better as they age

The 40-year-old pipped Pat Cummins and Ravichandran Ashwin to become the World No 1 Test bowler

“Age like a fine wine” is a saying for common people. However, a cricket enthusiast would say “Age like Anderson”.

The word age is a number, denoting someone's timeline in the world, but for James Anderson, it is a futile thing to take note of. He creates his own timelines, with a swag that would put all naysayers in their places.

With the amount of cricket being played across formats, for a complete fast bowler to play till 35, or maybe even 37, is a big achievement. In any case, Anderson defies all those logics.

At the age of 40 years and 207 days, the quick is the number one Test bowler, beat that. Yes! He plays only one format. But, England easily play 10+ Tests in a calendar year. Since 2008, only in the year 2019, Anderson bowled in less than 10 innings.

It’s just not about his fitness that makes him one of the greats. Every passing year, Anderson has been getting better and better. In fact, since he turned 35, the pacer has bagged over 200 wickets at an average of 20.6.

Why wouldn’t he when he is averaging less than 25 since 2009. In ranking terms, since 2009, the lowest rank he has reached is 14 (At the end of the year, 31st December).

The older he gets, the better his numbers

Anderson made his debut in May 2003, at the age of 20 years and 296 days. Since his debut, till he turned 25 (20-24), Anderson played only 18 matches and had 54 wickets, averaging 37.9 with a strike rate of 61.6.

After turning 25, he bettered it. In the 53-match span between 25 to 29, Anderson bagged 214 wickets at an average of 28.5 and a bowling strike rate of 57.

The best was yet to come. After turning 30, he became more lethal. However, the cricketing fraternity started to see the best of Anderson when he turned 35.

He has played 53 matches after 35, yes! That's the number alright. In those 53 matches, Anderson has bagged 202 wickets at a staggering average of 20.6 and a bowling strike rate of 52.7. Among 23 pacers who have bowled in 15+ innings and picked up 25+ wickets after turning 35, his average is the fourth best.

60.7 percent of his wickets, which is 414 put of 682, have come after he turned 30. No bowler has more wickets than him in Tests since turning 30. Out of the 32 five-wicket hauls, 20 of those have come after turning 30, the joint second most after Sir Richard Hadlee’s 25.

Ranking wise, Anderson broke into the top 20s in 2008, and since then, he has never gone below that rank. In the follow-up year, that is 2009, he was ranked as the 10th best bowler. From 2010 till 2012, he was inside the top 10, his best being second in 2011. However, in 2012, he was dropped to 14th after failures in three Asian tours. Since he entered the top 20s, this was the lowest rank he has dropped to in Tests so far.

It took him just a year to bounce back into the top 10. From 2014 till 2018, Anderson was at his peak. In this five-year span, he topped the table in 2017, was second in 2018, fifth in 2015 and sixth in 2014 and 2016.

Once again, in 2019, his ranking saw a dip. As has been the case in most of his Test career, he raised once again. At the end of 2021, Anderson was the fifth ranked bowler and in 2022, he was the second ranked bowler. With a stellar performance in the first Test against New Zealand this year, he is now the number one bowler.

Though the pacer is 40 years old, he has the energy of a 25-year-old. With 682 wickets, Anderson looks hungrier and deadlier. By the way, he is just 18 away from 700 wickets, and 27 away from becoming the second highest wicket taker. Can he do it in the upcoming Ashes tour? Time will tell.

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