James Anderson says that his team-mate Stuart Broad could go yet on to outstrip his own England-record wicket tally, as he stood on the verge of becoming the fourth seam bowler in history to reach 500 Test wickets on the final day against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford.
Broad went into the final morning of the match on 499 Test wickets, and duly pinned Kraigg Brathwaite lbw shortly after a brief rain delay to reach his milestone. It was his ninth wicket in a remarkable personal performance, which also featured a 33-ball half-century in England’s first innings, and followed on from six vital wickets in the series-levelling win at the same ground last week.
“The way Stuart’s bowled in the last two games has been absolutely phenomenal and an absolute credit to himself and the work he’s put in over the last few years,” Anderson told Sky Sports before the start of play.
“He’s now getting the ball to shape away again. We’ve seen how lethal he is with that wobble seam that nips back and hits batsmen on the pads. It’s incredible to watch and a real inspiration, not just for the younger members of the team but for me, seeing someone like Stuart work as hard as he has, and deal with the things that he’s had to deal with over the last few years.”
Broad is currently the leading wicket-taker in the series with 15 wickets, despite being controversially omitted from the first Test at the Ageas Bowl. During that match, he expressed his anger at being overlooked despite being England’s best bowler in both the Ashes last summer and the tour of South Africa in December and January, and Anderson was impressed with the manner in which he’d backed up his words with deeds.
“Obviously he was disappointed at Southampton,” he said, “but just seeing the way he dealt with that, he’s come back and got picked in the second Test match, and from there he just looked like he had a real point to prove, and I think he has proved it.”
Anderson has now played alongside Broad in 117 of his 140 Tests, and is himself 11 wickets away from becoming the first fast bowler to reach 600 in Tests. And with their contrasting methods – swing versus seam, skid versus height – they have now claimed a combined total of 894 Test wickets on the occasions they’ve lead the line for England since 2008.
Asked if there were any parts of Broad’s game that Anderson would wish to take for his own, he replied: “I quite like to be six foot six. That’d be a nice addition to what I’ve got. But to be honest I’m always amazed at how he gets on a spell and just blows people away.
“He got three wickets in 14 balls in the first innings, and his six-for. He just gets on a roll and I don’t feel like I’ve got that in my game. If I get a five-for, it seems to take me a few days to get it.”
“But to be honest, I don’t think either of us is that fussed about the actual wickets tally. What we enjoy doing is winning games of cricket and celebrating those moments together.
“We love bowling together in Test matches as well, we have a really good understanding and we bowl well when the other guy bowling is at the other end, we seem to know what each other is trying to do. We enjoy playing cricket for England and winning games of cricket for England, and the wickets will take care of themselves.”
Nevertheless, while Broad has often been considered the junior partner in their alliance, and not just in terms of their four-year age gap, Anderson was confident his team-mate has the drive, the fitness and determination to keep leading the line for England for several seasons to come.
“There’s a very good chance that he’ll get more wickets to me if he carries on like this,” Anderson said. “I heard him say the other day, why can’t he carry on until he’s my age and that’s absolutely true. He’s in great shape.
“He’s working so hard on his game and whenever he gets the opportunity to play, as we saw in South Africa and against Australia last year, he leads the attack brilliantly. He can go on and get as many wickets as he wants.”