As James Anderson celebrated another milestone in a marvellous career, Matt Prior, the man who shared many of his wickets, backed his former team-mate to claim at least another 100.
When Anderson found the outside edge of Martin Guptill’s bat and Ian Bell took the catch, Anderson became the first England player to take 400 wickets in Tests. On the other side of a short rain break, he made it 401, this time removing Kane Williamson for a duck.
Anderson turns 33 in July and, under normal circumstances, would be in the autumn of his career. Yet Prior, the England wicketkeeper during their golden era from 2009-10, believes he can break many more records.
“If he keeps bowling like he is, then why can’t he take 500?” he said. “As long as he stays free of injury, I know he is keen to play for as long as possible. Everyone knows how good Jimmy is as a bowler, but the team means so much to him, and that is just as impressive.
“Remember last summer at Headingley, when he was batting and came within two balls of saving the Test and the series against Sri Lanka. He was distraught after he got out, in tears, because he felt he had let down his team-mates.
“He showed how much he cared about playing for England, and rightly so because those are the kind of emotions you need in a successful team. Everyone should be playing for his team-mate as much as for himself.
“The sign of a good team is when it’s more important to you not to let your team-mate down than it is to avoid letting down a coach or a director of cricket. Jimmy felt he had let down the team that day at Headingley. He hadn’t, of course, but it just proves how much it mattered to him that the team should succeed.”
Prior’s own future is uncertain. He had Achilles surgery last summer after the Lord’s Test against India. Though the 33-year-old has not given up hopes of a comeback, it would be no surprise if he decides a return to top-level cricket is impossible.
Anderson has no such worries. If he does reach 500, he would become only the third pace bowler to do so in Tests, after Australia’s Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh, of West Indies.
He is unlikely to play limited-overs cricket for England again and, although the Test schedule is intense, Anderson could lead the attack for another two years. England might need to ration his involvement, though they will find it hard to convince him to take a step back. Anderson still wants to play every game.
His reaction to passing 400 was typically understated. “It’s nice to do it and it was a great moment when I did, but I’ve got a game to concentrate on,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s not as though I can put my feet up in the dressing room and think about records.”
If England are to be successful this summer, there will be very little relaxation time for their premier fast bowler.Reuse content