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Taha Hashim highlights the significance of Anderson achieving his 700th milestone, which is made even more impressive due to England's struggles.
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Taha Hashim highlights the significance of Anderson achieving his 700th milestone, which is made even more impressive due to England’s struggles.


You could discover an interesting tidbit everywhere you turned. During the commentary of Jimmy Anderson’s celebration of his milestone achievement, his former teammate Graeme Swann, who debuted in Test cricket five years after the fast bowler and retired ten years ago, was also present. In the intervening time, Swann established himself as one of England’s top bowlers.

Alastair Cook, who joined Essex after Anderson’s initial World Cup experience, expressed his admiration for the bowler on TNT. Cook, a former England captain, remarked, “His achievements are incredible.” Seated beside Cook was Steven Finn, who also had a successful fast-bowling career with 125 Test wickets before being hindered by a knee injury. Anderson, who had taken 156 wickets before Finn’s debut, has now accumulated 237 wickets since Finn’s last match.

Finn was astounded by the accomplishment, considering he is aware of the enormous difficulty involved: the exhaustion of the muscles, the constant need for physiotherapy, and the lengthy struggle to reach the elusive moment of triumph when a stump is uprooted. “In the foothills of the Himalayas, he has achieved an almost unattainable summit for a fast bowler in a Test match,” declared Finn.

It was once thought that only spinners, such as Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and Anil Kumble, could reach the milestone of 600 Test wickets. However, in 2020, James Anderson became the first seamer to achieve this feat. Despite being dropped from the team two years ago, Anderson persisted and returned to the team where he has since taken 60 wickets at an average of 25.91.

In Dharamsala, with a beautiful backdrop and during his 187th Test match, the only important number was 700, which he achieved easily. Kuldeep Yadav, who doesn’t look like a typical No 9 batsman, was surprised by a fast bouncer at 85mph that hit his glove. The next delivery was a fuller one, with the seam almost horizontal, tempting Kuldeep to go for a shot, but the line moved away, causing an edge and leading to a catch by Ben Foakes. This was a historic moment. It was exactly what England had needed at the start of the day, after being frustrated by Kuldeep and Jasprit Bumrah the previous evening.

Jimmy Anderson is congratulated by his England teammates after taking his milestone wicket against India. View image in fullscreen

Shoaib Bashir, a 20-year-old, managed to stump Bumrah a few minutes after completing his second five-wicket haul of his career, which has been progressing quickly in recent weeks. Despite his success, Bashir gallantly let the seamer, Anderson, take the lead and receive the praise from the crowd first. Interestingly, Bashir wasn’t even born yet when Anderson took his first Test wicket at Lord’s, where he dismissed Mark Vermeulen from Zimbabwe.

The notion here is that it would have been more fitting for Anderson’s landmark to come in a triumph at his home ground, Old Trafford, rather than in a crushing defeat by 64 runs. However, this argument is flawed. Enduring and overcoming such setbacks is what has led to this achievement, possibly even finding some strange pleasure in it. Otherwise, why bother embarking on another tour of India, a place where spin bowlers excel and visiting teams have not won a series since 2012?

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Over the years, Anderson has witnessed numerous batting collapses, yet for some strange reason, he continues to rise from his seat in the changing room, laces up his spikes, and declares, “Yes, I’d like to experience more of this.” This latest defeat in his 68th Test match, adds to his track record of losses which exceeds that of Matthew Hoggard’s entire Test career. As an 11th ranked player, he is often the one standing at the end of the game, forced to be the first to congratulate the winning team. In this match, he at least managed to remain unbeaten, as he watched Joe Root secure the victory with a slap to long-on off Kuldeep’s bowling. One has to wonder if this type of situation could ever be enjoyable for Anderson.

His series was an odd one, missing the victory at Hyderabad before thriving as the lone seamer in Vizag with five wickets while giving little away. Yashasvi Jaiswal took him back to the white-ball days, disposing him for three consecutive sixes at Rajkot. He was underbowled in Dharamsala, not used enough as a defensive weapon to tighten things up, overprotected because, well, he can’t do everything he did a few years ago.

The optimal scenario for England would have been for Ollie Robinson to play a significant role and showcase his abilities as a future leader of the attack. However, at 41 years old, his physical condition is still more crucial than that of the 30-year-old.

It is an arduous and pointless endeavor to predict when it will end, so let’s enjoy the idea that it won’t. The intervals have increased between Anderson’s accomplishments: it took two years to go from 400 to 500 wickets, three years for the next hundred, and almost four years for the following one. Achieving 800 wickets at 46 years old? That sounds like a great deal of hardship.

Source: theguardian.com