Ashes 2013: Former pace bowler Bob Willis happy to be overtaken by James Anderson ‘the magician’
James Anderson’s 10 wickets in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge showed he is England’s “magician”, according to the former pace bowler Bob Willis. His spellbinding deliveries could oust Willis from the No 2 spot in the list of England’s top Test wicket-takers at Lord’s over the next five days.
Does Willis mind the prospective demotion? Not a bit. “It wouldn’t bother me at all [if he overtook me], because he is a better bowler than I was,” Willis said, before stating his belief that Anderson will have even surpassed Sir Ian Botham’s England-record haul of 383 Test wickets by the time the Australians are next on these shores. “He is a magician. He is England’s equivalent of Glenn McGrath; he never bowls a bad spell and when he delivers the ball you don’t know which way it is going to go. He would be a real handful to face.
“He had a back-breaking spell at Trent Bridge, but England’s strategy is to beat Australia with swing and spin. The other bowlers were not getting any joy so it was down to Anderson. Long may it continue.”
Anderson, who has 83 Test caps, currently sits on 317 wickets, eight shy of Willis, who took his in 90 Tests. With nine more Ashes Tests to play this year, Botham’s total should be well within Anderson’s sights by the time England have played Down Under this winter.
Willis said: “I think he will do it [pass Botham] quite quickly. With nine Ashes matches left this year, I can see him getting to 360 or so. I can see him passing Beefy’s total when the Ashes are next over here.”
As to where Anderson sits in the pantheon of England greats, Willis is less sure – because there are so many variables to take into account when debating players from different eras, as well as the changes that technology has made to the game.
“He has gone from being a good bowler to a great bowler. He can be phenomenal,” Willis said. “But total number of wickets do not tell the whole story. There is also the strike rate and the average. Fred Trueman, for example, took 307 wickets, but he did it in only 67 Tests. There was no DRS when Ian and I were bowling, or for that matter when Fred was playing. In the 1970-71 Ashes, we had a seven-match series and England did not get a single lbw decision. Leg-befores are a lot easier to get with DRS.”
Only with Sky Sports can you watch 116 live Premier League matches, the Ashes and Formula One in HD and on mobile and tablet devices.
Closing in: England’s top wicket takers
Tests 102 Wickets 383
Tests 90 Wickets 325
Tests 83 Wickets 317
Tests 67 Wickets 307
Tests 86 Wickets 297
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs
Arsene Wenger 18th anniversary at Arsenal: His WORST signings XI during his time with the Gunners
18 things Wenger has still never done at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Nani: On loan Sporting Lisbon winger admits he may not return to Manchester United
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so