Veteran England fast bowler James Anderson created history during the third Test against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl by claiming his 600th Test wicket. The 38-year-old did so by dismissing Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali for 31. Following the dismissal, Anderson became only the fourth bowler in Test history to claim 600 scalps, but the first seamer to do so. The legendary spin trio of Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and Anil Kumble are the only other international bowlers to have crossed the landmark. Anderson now has 600 wickets from 156 Tests at an average of 26.79 with 29 five-wicket hauls. While the numbers are great in itself, we do a statistical analysis of Anderson to figure out where he stands among the all-time great fast bowlers.
Anderson’s home and away record
Anderson has played 89 Tests at home in which he has claimed 384 wickets at an excellent average of 23.83. Twenty-two of his 29 five-wicket hauls have come in England. Surprisingly, he has not done that well against Ashes rivals Australia at home. In 14 Tests, he has 44 wickets against them at an average of 33.38. Anderson has a superb record against India, having claimed 84 wickets in 17 Tests at an average of under 24. Further, he averages 22.26 against New Zealand, 18.78 against Pakistan, 29.74 against South Africa, 17.20 versus Sri Lanka, and 21.05 against West Indies.
When we talk of his away record, Anderson’s numbers aren’t as impressive. In 61 Tests, he has 194 wickets to his name at an average of 33.36 with only seven five-wicket hauls. Except for West Indies, where he averages 24.80, Anderson’s average is in the 30s in most other countries, and as high as 46.08 in Sri Lanka. In Australia, he has 60 wickets in 18 Tests averaging 35.43 with only one five-wicket haul. In India, he has 26 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 33.46. Further, he averages 32.80 in New Zealand and 34.61 in South Africa from seven and 10 Tests respectively.
Anderson vs other fast bowlers
Former Aussie pacer Glenn McGrath, who is fifth on the list of highest Test wicket-takers with 563 scalps, has picked up 289 wickets in 66 home Tests at an average of 22.43 with eleven five-wicket hauls. He excelled against England with 70 wickets in 16 Tests at an average of 22.90. Against India, he averages 13.77, and versus Pakistan 21.17. Unlike Anderson, McGrath has a brilliant away record as well. In 55 away Tests, he picked up 260 wickets at an average of 21.35 with as many as 18 five-wicket hauls. In England, he claimed 87 wickets in 14 Tests at an average of 19.34. Further, even in unfriendly conditions in India, he picked up 33 wickets in eight Tests while averaging a measly 21.30. In New Zealand and South Africa as well, he had impressive averages — 18.40 and 23.62 respectively. Only in Pakistan and Sri Lanka did he average over 30.
West Indies legend Courtney Walsh, the first man to breach the 500-Test wicket mark, averaged 23.70 in 58 home Tests with eight five-wicket hauls. He claimed 63 wickets in 13 Tests at an average of 22.22 versus Australia. Except against Sri Lanka, Walsh averaged under 30 against all the key Test-playing nations. Away from home, Walsh picked up 290 wickets in 74 Tests at an average of 25.03 with 14 five-wicket hauls. His average in Australia was slightly on the higher side — 72 wickets in 25 Tests at an average of 34.33. Walsh averaged under 20 in India and South Africa and under 25 in England, New Zealand and Pakistan. Among other legends, South Africa’s Dale Steyn averaged 21.62 at home and 24.23 away. New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee averaged 22.96 at home and 21.72 away while Pakistan great Wasim Akram averaged 22.22 at home and 24.61 away.
The numbers clearly indicate that while Anderson has an exceptional home record, he is nowhere in the league of the McGraths and Steyns, who were equally good away from home too.