Jimmy Anderson: I’ve overtaken Glenn McGrath’s record for most Test wickets but I can’t surpass him for bowling – he had everything

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I’LL tell you something about Glenn McGrath — he was a much better bowler than me.

This is not false modesty.

James Anderson is on 564 Test wicket and still feels ultra fit - but remembers Glenn McGrath saying the end can come on suddenly
James Anderson is on 564 Test wicket and still feels ultra fit – but remembers Glenn McGrath saying the end can come on suddenly
Getty – Contributor

I may have gone past his wicket tally but I honestly believe McGrath’s bounce, relentless accuracy, aggression and ability to move the ball made him superior. He had everything.

And it is not a random, top-of-the-head assessment, either. I’ve been studying all of the great fast bowlers since I was about eight years old.

I also loved McGrath’s attitude. He had plenty of a snarl on the field — a bit like me, I suppose — and was super-competitive.

He hated giving away runs or not taking wickets.

Glenn McGrath is rated by James Anderson as the paceman who had everything
Glenn McGrath is rated by James Anderson as the paceman who had everything
Reuters

We’ve shared a beer a few times and he’s a cracking fellow. I listened to the way he prepared for games and it really helped me.

I heard him say once that he practised for when the ball didn’t swing. So if it did swing, it was a bonus. That philosophy has been a big part of my development.

You so often see bowlers pick out a lovely new ball from the bag at nets and it looks great when it swings in the air and nips off the seam with batsmen playing and missing.

But you have to simulate match situations.

James Anderson also says South African pace ace Dale Steyn was a better bowler than him
James Anderson also says South African pace ace Dale Steyn was a better bowler
Getty Images – Getty

What about when the ball is 60 overs old, the sun is blazing down, the pitch is flat and there’s not a hint of movement?

So, at practice, I often take an old ball that looks like it’s been chewed by a dog and work on variations and aiming for the top of off stump. That’s the quickest way to improve your skills.

I’ve spent most of my life watching fast bowlers — initially as a kid on TV and later in the flesh when I started playing top-level cricket.

Even now, on a day off, I’ll sit at home with the cricket on TV analysing the quick boys and trying to learn.

Record wicket-taker James Anderson, skipper Joe Root and retiring Alastair Cook relax after England rounded off a 4-1 series rout of India
Record wicket-taker James Anderson, skipper Joe Root and retiring Alastair Cook relax after England rounded off a 4-1 series rout of India
Getty – Contributor

How are they gripping the ball? What are they thinking? Why did they bowl a bouncer or yorker or slower ball?

I don’t think I’ll ever stop being fascinated.

Of the modern era, I’d happily tip my hat towards Dale Steyn. With his express pace, control and swing, he’s better than me, too.

McGrath reckons I can go past 600 Test wickets — I’m on 564 — and I don’t see why that is not possible because I feel fit, enthusiastic and surprisingly fresh for a 36-year-old after five Tests in little more than six weeks.

James Anderson admits he had a tear in his eye after breaking the Test record - but says he was mainly relieved that batsman Alastair Cook bowed out in style
James Anderson admits he had a tear in his eye after breaking the Test record – but says he was mainly relieved that batsman Alastair Cook bowed out in style
Getty – Contributor

But I remember McGrath saying he went into the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia with no plans to retire but, by the end of that series, he knew his time was up.

Maybe it could happen to me just as suddenly but, right now, I have no plans to follow Cooky into retirement.

Overtaking McGrath was very much secondary in my thoughts behind making sure Cooky finished with a win.

History-makers Alastair Cook and James Anderson reflect on their achievements after England wrapped up a 4-1 series victory over India at The Oval
History-makers Alastair Cook and James Anderson reflect on their achievements after England wrapped up a 4-1 series victory over India at The Oval
PA:Press Association

The time to think about personal achievement is at the end of your career. And I play best when I’m focusing on the next match, the next series.

When Cooky reached that century at The Oval, it was just brilliant. We lost count of the number of standing ovations.
He deserved every one of them because he’s been a magnificent cricketer and is a great bloke.

James Anderson feels as good as ever but is not taking anything for granted
James Anderson feels as good as ever but is not taking anything for granted
AFP or licensors

I’m extremely fortunate to have him as a mate.

He’s so down-to-earth — he’s not on social media, tries to keep a low profile and loves his time on the farm with his family and those lambs.

Cooky is someone I look up to for his work ethic and the way he conducts himself.

I stayed at his house before the Test match. On tour, you spend a lot of time together but it’s rarely one-on-one so it was great to play golf with Cooky, reminisce and generally chew the fat.

I’ll miss him as a friend and a shoulder to cry on.

Talking of crying, I became a bit emotional when Ian Ward of Sky Sports interviewed me a few moments after taking that final wicket. It was talking about Cooky that set me off.

Test cricket takes it out of you physically and mentally. The series against India was brutal in terms of ups and downs and I guess all that emotion came pouring out.


There have been some mutterings about Stuart Broad and me being rested for the Test tour of Sri Lanka later this year. I’d be flabbergasted if that happens.

We don’t play white-ball cricket so have plenty of time to recover from these five Tests and prepare for Sri Lanka. The Test players don’t fly out until late October.

Then we have more than six weeks at home until departing for West Indies in the middle of January for three Tests.

Again, plenty of time to recover and, because the England team is so rarely at home in the build-up to Christmas, we are planning a family trip to Lapland.

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