We are all aware of the fact that James Anderson has posted crazy statistics that would make anyone say that he is one of the best fast bowlers in the history of Test cricket. Being candid, a man who has surpassed the mighty Glenn McGrath and continues being the reigning supreme at a ripe age, the credibility of his finesse is unquestionable.
However, in English, there is a fine proverb that says, “Numbers are a naked lie” and if we tend to delve a bit deeper than just the bare numbers, we will know that James Anderson’s Godly stats may have bordered around just the numbers and not the truest sense of a genius that the reports claim him to be.
In any sport, numbers play a crucial part in shaping up the destinies of a player being tagged with certain labels. In a similar heist, Anderson bagged the title of the most successful bowler to have bowled pace in the longest format of the game.’
In this story let us quickly take a few arguments into considerations that may prove that Anderson is just a good bowler and not one of cricket’s finest.
Anderson has so far claimed 630 Test wickets from 165 Test matches at an average of 26.51 and a strike rate of 56.3. The numbers that he posted so far would signify the fact that he is one of the best in the art of fast bowling. However, just to give you a heads-up, no fast bowler in the world has lasted for 18 years in the circuit. A counter-argument that comes into the picture is that he has proven to be highly resilient that has seen him outlast others and by no means is this statement untrue. However, the fact that he took so many years to rack up those wickets begs the perennial question, what if someone else would have made it for a few more years.
Would James Anderson still be the sizzling man or will he just be racing with the other one to bag the pedestal?
The basic parameters other than wickets that defines a bowler
Barring the wickets, the factors that define the greatness of a bowler are his strike rate and bowling average. Taking 60 Test matches as a basic yardstick and comparing with a 200-wickets benchmark, Anderson holds an average of 26.51 that doesn’t place him in the top 15 even. He finishes in the 20th spot. The top five are Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall, Fred Trueman, Glenn McGrath and Allan Donald.
Anderson’s bowling average is 56.3 that convincingly places him out of the list of the top 20 bowlers keeping in mind the 60-match limit. Dale Steyn rocks the list followed by Waqar Younis, Marshall, Donald and Mitchell Starc.
Performance against the best teams
One of the primary criteria that defines the true greatness of a fast bowler is how is his performance against recognized teams. It also takes into account the aspect of impact. In modern day cricket, impact plays a crucial role in shaping the fortunes of the game. How would you define impact? Let’s say in a game, the team batting first scores 100. When they come out to bowl, the opposition loses wickets at a regular interval. However, one of their batters gets into the groove and continues with his brand of resistance. The man who gets that batter out has the maximum impact. Similarly, Anderson has been an impactful cricketer but when it comes to creating impact in crunch situations, he has not returned handsome rewards. For the first twelve years in his career, he racked up wickets for sure but the impact wasn’t as relevant as he would have wanted them to be. Finally, he managed to break the drought against New Zealand which came in the latter half of his career. The man who leads the charts for the most impactful bowler in Tests for England was Darren Gough. Even though James Anderson chipped in with impactful performances in the latter half of his career, yet it couldn’t come close to the misses that he had produced earlier in his career.
Ashes has always left him subdued
Every player who has played in the Australian or the English side has dreamt of wringing big from the Ashes. Sadly, for James Anderson, he has seen highly subdued in the history of the most infamous rivalry of cricket. He has featured in 32 Test matches and has claimed 104 wickets which seems pretty modest going by the high standards that has been posted by Anderson. Amongst the 41 bowlers who have managed to rack up at least 50 wickets in the contest, with the average of 34.56, James Anderson is in the 39th spot. Sadly, for Jimmy, his strike rate of 67.7 has condemned him into the bottom half of these 41 bowlers. He had an impactful performance of 10 for 158 out of which 6 scalps were of those batting in the lower order. From the 59 games that he has played, Anderson has only claimed a fifer in just 5 innings.
King of swing but not the master of pace
James Anderson is undoubtedly one of the best fast bowlers in the history of Test cricket and is known as the king of swing. However, when it comes to bowl brutal pace, he doesn’t even come close to the ones who lead the topic. He belts out superlative displays in England but as soon as he steps in Australia, he is just a modest customer, struggling vehemently with the numbers. Out of his wickets tally, he has claimed 70-75 percent of his wickets in England. However, under foreign circumstances, he has been all over the place with intermittent bursts of brilliance.
With all said and done, the fact that he has claimed numbers that is nothing short of being Godly, underlines the brilliance that James Anderson has brought to the game. He won’t be a part of the opening Test match of the series due to a calf injury as Australia takes on England in a rain-soaked Gabba.