Tearful Anderson pays tribute to Cook

Alastair Cook described James Anderson as England's greatest cricketer after England beat India, and the respect is mutual.

England's James Anderson celebrates taking the final wicket - his 564th in Tests - against India.   -  Getty Images

James Anderson could not hold back his emotions as he paid tribute to the retiring Alastair Cook after becoming the most prolific Test seamer in history.

Anderson claimed the match-winning wicket against India on Tuesday to surpass Glenn McGrath and go fourth on the overall list, behind only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.

The 36-year-old looked like he would be made to wait for his 564th scalp as K. L Rahul and Rishabh Pant put on a stand of 204, but Anderson emphatically flattened the middle stump of Mohammed Shami to bring an end to the match.

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The achievement saw Anderson claim a small share of the limelight from Cook, who brought the curtain down on his Test career with a second-innings century on day four at the Oval.

"I'm just happy to to win the game," Anderson told Sky Sports. "I wasn't even thinking about it.

"When they were building that partnership it was looking like they were going to get close. My job was just to try and hold an end. I didn't think I'd bowl 14 overs from that end or whatever it was but I just got into a really good rhythm.

"Thankfully Joe [Root] let me take the new ball eventually to give me half a chance to get that wicket."

Reflecting on the career of good friend Cook, Anderson - struggling to hold back the tears - added: "He's my best mate and he's been brilliant, just to be there for me all the time."

RELATED| Anderson becomes most prolific seamer in Test history

After composing himself and describing Cook as a shoulder to "actually cry on", Anderson quipped: "It'll be nice to get someone in at first slip who can actually hold on to a few.

"Who knows how many wickets I'd have got if he could catch."

And the admiration is mutual, with Cook later describing Anderson as England's finest.

"It's just been a privilege to play with, I think, England's greatest cricketer," he said. "No disrespect to any of the other guys, but his skill to do it time and time again, you almost take it for granted that he's going to hit a length from ball one until the night and when he doesn't you think 'what's wrong?'. It shouldn't be like that.

"We do take it for granted and that spell today when the game was a little bit tight, I don't think he missed his length once.

"It was only fitting that he got the last wicket, knocked the middle stump out to win the Test match for England."