James Anderson’s journey to 600 Test wickets – From Mark Vermeulen to Azhar Ali

James Anderson became the first pacer to take 600 wickets in Tests as he dismissed Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali on day 5 of the third and final Test between England and Pakistan at the Rose Bowl. Rain and wet outfield delayed the start of the day but it was enough for Anderson to create history as England won the three-match series 1-0 thanks to a tense win during the first Test in Old Trafford.

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James Anderson’s journey to 600 Test wickets – From Mark Vermeulen to Azhar Ali
James Anderson became the first pacer in Test history to take 600 wickets and he achieved it on the final day of the Southampton Test against Pakistan by dismissing the opposition skipper Azhar Ali.


The rain gods were threatening a total washout. It seemed that one man’s quest for 600 would remain unfulfilled. However, the rain relented. The outfield was mopped up. The dream was on. Finally, it was fulfilled. James Anderson, who had taken five wickets in the first innings, dismissed Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali with a sharp, lifting delivery on off stump which the batsman could only fend. The edge was taken by England skipper Joe Root and history was created. Anderson became the first pace bowler in Test history to take 600 wickets. He became the fourth bowler overall after Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble to go past 600 wickets.

In a testament to his fitness, James Anderson has now bowled over 33000 deliveries in Tests, which is the most by any pacer ever. Anderson now has a chance to go past Anil Kumble’s tally but with England’s winter Test schedule uncertain, it may be a long time before Anderson can add to his tally.

Journey from first wicket to 600

James Anderson made his Test debut against Zimbabwe in Lord’s in 2003. Bowling with pace and generating good swing, Anderson’s first Test wicket came in his 18th delivery when he dismissed Mark Vermeulen. Anderson finished the innings with his first five-wicket haul as England emerged victorious.

The journey from one to 100 was a bit tedious as Anderson found it a bit difficult when he was taken away from favourable home conditions. However, he reached his 100th wicket during the Oval Test between England and South Africa. Anderson bowled Jacques Kallis with a superb inswinger to continue his upward curve.

Anderson’s 200th wicket came in away shores as he dismissed Peter Siddle in the Perth Test during the 2010/11 Ashes contest. The right-arm pacer was in his finest elements and his wickets tally helped England win a series in Australia for the first time since 1986. After having taken his first wicket in Tests at Lord’s, Anderson achieved another milestone at the Mecca of cricket when he dismissed New Zealand’s Peter Fulton to take his 300th Test wicket.

Anderson continued to shatter records. During the 2015 Test against the West Indies in Antigua, Anderson dismissed Denesh Ramdin to go past Sir Ian Botham’s tally for the most wickets in Tests by an England bowler. Immediately, Anderson reached 400 wickets when Martin Guptill edged to slip during the Headingley Test in 2015.

The Lancashire pacer kept taking wickets regularly and two years later, once again at Lord’s, Anderson notched up his 500th Test wicket when he had Kraigg Brathwaite bowled. In 2018, during the series against India, Anderson scaled the summit for fast bowlers when he bowled Mohammed Shami through the gate in the fifth and final Test at the Oval to go past Glenn McGrath’s 563 wickets. In 2020, amidst an unprecedented situation, Anderson has achieved what no fast bowler has and it will take a massive effort to go past his record. Congratulations, James Anderson.

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