The data behind Anderson's England career as retirement looms

By Sports Desk July 09, 2024

Lord's will play host to the end of an era this week as James Anderson plays his final Test for England. 

The 41-year-old has not precisely gone out on his own terms, with the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum setup opting to move on from an all-time bowling great.

Speaking ahead of his farewell appearance against West Indies on Monday, Anderson reiterated that he was bowling as well as he ever has, but said he had "made peace" with England's decision to revamp their attack.

Now, his focus will be going out on a high as he plays his 188th and final Test on the same ground where he made his debut 21 years ago. 

Ahead of an emotional few days at an iconic venue, we run through the Opta data surrounding Anderson's remarkable career.

The records

Anderson will, without a doubt, be remembered as the finest paceman England have ever produced. In fact, he is the all-time leading Test wicket-taker among fast bowlers from any country, managing 700 dismissals in his 187 matches.

Stuart Broad, his close friend and team-mate for 138 of those contests, is a distant second with 604 in 167 outings, with Australia's Glenn McGrath (563), Windies' Courtney Walsh (519) and South Africa's Dale Steyn (439) rounding out the top five. 

Among all bowlers in Test history, Anderson ranks third for wickets taken, behind Muthiah Muralidaran (800) and Australia icon Shane Wayne (708), some way clear of Anil Kumble (619) in fourth.

Anderson also edges out Broad in England's all-time appearance charts, though he will fall short of the global Test record held by Sachin Tendulkar, who represented India 200 times between 1989 and 2013.


While Anderson's legacy in the bowling stakes is set in stone, his contributions to the tail end of the batting order should also not be forgotten.

Anderson has 1,353 Test runs in total, with 687 coming at #11. No other batter in history can match that return at the position, with his highest score – a remarkable 81 versus India at Trent Bridge in 2014 – coming when he batted last.

The highs

That haul was certainly Anderson's best moment with the bat, but what about with the ball, doing what he does best? 

Anderson started as he meant to go on when making his Test bow against Zimbabwe in 2003, going 5-73 in the second innings for the first of 32 career five-wicket hauls.

His best Test figures came in September 2017, as he finished 7-42 in the third innings of a win over West Indies at Lords. His only other seven-wicket haul came in 2008 at Trent Bridge as New Zealand were vanquished.

In fact, 2017 was the most efficient year of his Test career, as he conceded just 17.6 runs per wicket taken. In no year where he played at last 10 matches did Anderson record an average worse than 33.9 (2011).


But fans will likely remember a couple of special Ashes performances most fondly. 

Having played a supporting role as England won a legendary home series in 2005, Anderson had to wait a while to experience a big moment against Australia, his first real taste of the rivalry coming as England were whitewashed 5-0 down under in 2006-07.

Twelve wickets in support of Broad (18) and Graeme Swann (14) helped England reclaim the urn on home soil in 2009, but it was in 2010-11 when he really made his mark.

England had not won an Ashes series in Australia for 24 years, while some had expressed doubts over Anderson's ability to take wickets on foreign soil, but he finished with a magnificent 24 dismissals as the tourists claimed a famous 3-1 series victory.

The urn was retained on home soil in 2013, the tone being set by a nail-biting 14-run victory in the opener, with Anderson claiming a five-for in each innings. 

The opponents

Anderson took 117 wickets in his 39 matches against Australia, but India were his favourite opponents, with 149 in 39 appearances against the Men in Blue.

His historic 700th wicket came against India earlier this year, with Kuldeep Yadav his victim as he became the first paceman in history to reach that landmark.

He took 103 versus South Africa, including his 100th, which came versus Jacques Kallis back in 2008.

This week's match, meanwhile, will give him the chance to add to his 87 wickets in matches versus West Indies. He previously reached the 500 mark against them in 2017, bowling Kraigg Braithwaite to kick-start that remarkable spell of 7-42.  

In terms of opposition players, India's Cheteshwar Pujara is the man to have fallen victim to Anderson most often, being dismissed by him on 12 occasions between 2014 and 2022.

Lord's: A fitting farewell

Anderson may be a Lancashire lad, but one might suggest Lord's has been his spiritual home since he made his red-ball bow on the ground 21 years ago.

He has taken 199 of his Test wickets on the ground in 28 matches there. Only Sri Lanka great Muralitharan has ever taken more at a particular venue, finishing his career with 166 in 24 matches at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

If Anderson adds to that haul on his farewell appearance this week, there won't be a dry eye in the house. 


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