Is Jimmy Anderson an all time great?

Beardan Roar Guru

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    Only six bowlers have taken more than 500 Test match wickets.

    Jimmy Anderson, with a second innings seven-wicket haul against the West Indies in last months Lord’s Test became the first Englishman, and the sixth player to reach that milestone.

    However, is Jimmy Anderson on par with the other five greats? Or put simply, Is Jimmy Anderson a great bowler?

    To answer this, let’s look at the other five first.

    The two spinners at the top of the tree were remarkable bowlers. Muttiah Muralitharan took 800 wickets and along with Chaminda Vass, carried the bulk of the bowling duties for his nation for 15 years.

    Shane Warne brought a whole new level of accuracy and quality to a dying art.

    He made leg spin attractive again, and his ability helped Australia into an era of dominance.

    Anil Kumble excelled in home conditions, but as a thinking man’s cricketer, he could still perform admirably in conditions not suited to him. His bounce and accuracy allowed him to go right through any opposition.

    Glenn McGrath was a simple bowler.

    He had an ability to land six balls on the same spot, with his only movement being an off cutter mixed with a straight ball.

    Once he had honed his craft by the Windies tour of 1995, he celebrated 12 years at the top with a simple method not overly affected by injury.

    He ended with 563 Test wickets.

    Courtney Walsh, like McGrath, would combine great length with longevity to be the first bowler ever to break 500.

    He enjoyed success early in his career before being part of the decline of the once great West Indies. However, he was not to be blamed. His 519 wickets were defined by their quality right to the end.

    England's James Anderson (centre) celebrates with Moeen Ali after taking the wicket of West Indies Devendra Bishoo during day two of the the second Investec Test match at Headingley, Leeds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 26, 2017. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire.(Nigel French/PA Wire.)

    Is Jimmy Anderson in the same class as these bowlers?

    Let’s look at one stat that would support the ‘no’ vote:

    Glenn McGrath’s bowling average at home was 22.43, and away it was 21.35. Overall it was 21.64
    Courtney Walsh’s bowling average at home was 23.70 and away it was 25.03. Overall it was 24.44
    Jimmy Anderson’s bowling average at home is 24.29 but away it stands at 35.36. Overall it is 27.39

    Compared to the other two pacemen with 500 plus Test wickets, Anderson doesn’t match up on foreign soil. Thus, there is an argument that he isn’t in the same company as McGrath and Walsh.

    Now let’s look at a stat to support the ‘yes’ vote:

    Jimmy Anderson has taken 50 or more wickets against seven different nations. In a career that has spanned 14 years, he has played a lot, and achieved a lot.

    He has been a superb leader in home conditions, Virat Kohli will vouch for this. 20 of his 24 Test five hauls have been on home soil, and all three ten-wicket hauls have also been on his home turf.

    No matter your opinion of Jimmy Anderson, the 506 wickets he has already taken cannot be taken away from him. He stands as the sixth highest wicket-taker of all time. He has proven to be a super fit fast bowler, and a super competitive one.

    Is Jimmy Anderson a great fast bowler? It’s an opinion based question. He has led his team to victory in an away series against Australia before, and if he is able to do it again, it may just further add to his already impressive legacy.