England fast bowler Jimmy Anderson has joined a very elite group and become only the fourth man to take 600 wickets in test cricket. He managed the feat on a rain-affected afternoon as England and Pakistan drew the third test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
That meant that there was not enough time for England to force victory in the match, although they did claim victory in the series. Still, it left time for Anderson to make his own piece of history, and saved him from the prospect of going into the winter on the verge of the milestone, with doubts as to how long, at the age of 38, he has got at the top level of the sport.
There have been times over the past year when it looked like he might never reach the magic number. He was only able to bowl four overs in the Ashes series against Australia last summer, and then was forced to return home from England’s tour of South Africa with a recurrence of the problem.
When he bowled poorly in the first test against Pakistan, taking 1 – 97, the knives were quick to come out, with some commentators suggesting he had lost his old hunger. However, he responded by taking three wickets in the next match, which was truncated by the weather, and then 5 – 52 in Pakistan’s first innings in Southampton.
Abid Ali became his 599th victim on Monday and then Azhar Ali edged him to Joe Root at first slip as he joined the 600 Club.
He is the first fast bowler to do so, with the other three men ahead of him on the list all spinners – Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, Australia’s Shane Warne, and India’s Anil Kumble. He could yet overtake Kumble’s tally of 619 wickets, although Muralitharan (800 wickets) and Warne (708 wickets) look out of reach.
And the elite group can expect to remain very select in the years to come. The only man who could yet join them is Anderson’s teammate Stuart Broad, who joined the 500 Club himself earlier this summer against the West Indies.
Amongst those still playing the game, Broad, who now has 514 test victims to his name, has an extensive lead over his next nearest challenger, Australia’s Nathan Lyon (390 test wickets).
With many countries now preferring to play the shorter, more lucrative forms of the game, it is unlikely future cricketers will have the same opportunities for long test careers like Anderson and Broad.