James Anderson getting better with age following a record-breaking display in Sri Lanka

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0:49 Both of Anderson’s five-wicket hauls in Asia have come at Galle, but his figures of 6-40 are his best in the subcontinent

“I think that he’s actually bowling better now at 38 than ever before.”

The statistics back up that assertion. The first 10 years of Anderson’s Test career between 2003 and 2013 saw him take 340 wickets at 30.61. Since 2014, he has claimed 266 scalps, at an average of just 21.45.

It is not just Anderson’s wicket-taking prowess that is integral to his success, it’s his control and consistency – illustrated throughout his gruelling spell in Galle.

Prior to the second Test, the 38-year-old boasted the best economy rate [2.48] of any bowler to have taken more than 75 wickets in the past three years, and his exploits in the subcontinent will have only enhanced that figure.

Anderson’s longevity is illustrated by another record shattered in Sri Lanka – he has enjoyed a longer gap between his first and latest Test five-for than any other player, having snared his first on debut against Zimbabwe, back in May 2003.

Anderson’s Test Match record

Wickets Average
2003-2013 340 30.61
2014-2021: 266 21.45

Oldest pace-bowlers to take a five-wicket haul in Test cricket

Yrs Days Name Team Against Venue Season
40 301 Sydney Barnes England South Africa Durban 1914
40 84 Geoff Chubb South Africa England Manchester 1951
39 231 Frank Laver Australia England Manchester 1909
39 2 Richard Hadlee New Zealand England Birmingham 1990
38 177 James Anderson England Sri Lanka Galle 2021
38 138 Courtney Walsh West Indies South Africa Port-of-Spain 2001

“Age is something that I don’t really take into account,” admitted England’s senior statesman.

“I don’t wake up thinking ‘right I’m 38 and however many days’. I’m thinking I’m still someone who can do a job for England and I can still win games of cricket.

“I still love working at my game, still love doing the fitness stuff and keeping in good shape. I feel as though I can still get quicker and that I can improve on my fitness. I am trying to find ways of doing that. I have done a lot of work in the gym.

“I don’t see why I can’t keep improving just because I’m getting older. The more work you put in, generally this game will give you rewards and that’s how it felt the last couple of days.”

One of the main criticisms flippantly attributed towards Anderson is that he is rendered ineffective in non-English conditions, particularly on pitches devoid of seam movement.

2:42 James Anderson says he is always looking to improve his game after taking his 30th five-wicket haul in Test cricket

Nevertheless, his versatility is irrefutable. He averages 28 away from home in Test cricket since 2010, and that figure has been reduced to just over 21 over the last two years – comprising eight matches overseas.

Anderson has now taken consecutive five-wicket hauls in Test matches on foreign soil, and he reaffirmed that he’s a man for all conditions to help dismiss Sri Lanka for 381 in their first innings.

“It is actually other people away from England that doubt Jimmy Anderson,” acknowledged Nasser Hussain, who was England captain when Anderson made his Test debut almost 18 years ago.

“You make any comment on Jimmy Anderson and some will still say: ‘Well, he can’t do it away from England. He’s a one-trick pony. He can do it with a Dukes ball in England when it is swinging around corners.’

“He has actually shown over the last few years that that’s a load of nonsense and he can do it anywhere around the world.

1:39 Nasser Hussain believes James Anderson is getting better with age after the 38-year-old stole the show in Sri Lanka

“At the age of 38 he should be getting slightly worse, but he’s getting better and a lot of that has to do with his mindset.”

Anderson relishes competition – you don’t enjoy the sustained success he has without that unwavering desire to test yourself against the world’s best.

Next month’s trip to India will give him the opportunity to do just that – with the hosts fresh from a sensational 2-1 series win in Australia, despite being ravaged by injuries.

The four-match series will provide a significant test of Anderson’s credentials, but having enjoyed plenty of previous success against Virat Kohli’s side, it would be typical of England’s record-breaker to confound history once more.

Watch day three of the second Test between Sri Lanka and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4.25am on Sunday.

Sourse: skysports.com

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