McGrath: Anderson’s passion is the secret of his success

James Anderson, playing in his 156th match, became the first seamer to capture 600 wickets in the game's longest format.

James Anderson is fourth on the list of leading Test wicket-takers, behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.   -  Getty Images

It doesn’t get bigger than this. One legend on another. The fast bowler with 563 Test scalps talking about the first paceman in Test history to reach 600 wickets.

Speaking to Sportstar from his home in Sydney, Glenn McGrath dwelt on the qualities that made his great Ashes rival James Anderson special.

“What makes Anderson unique is that he has been playing for 17 years. To play 156 Test matches is exceptional for a batsman but for a pacemen to play the same number of Tests and pick 600 wickets is incredible,” said McGrath.

“Don’t forget he is 38. It’s a tribute to his fitness, endurance, longevity, durability, work ethics.”

READ | James Anderson scales Mount 600 in Test cricket

The rigours of pace bowling can be hard on your mind and body, but McGrath noted, “the mental strength to go on for so long, putting your body through the fire, coming back from injuries, Anderson has done it all...”

“And he swings the ball beautifully. There are not many such bowlers around. Maybe Wasim Akram was one whom you could put in the same category.”

Asked how long Anderson could go on, McGrath replied, “600 was his goal. Now that he has achieved that I would like to see what his next motivation is. Maybe 650. Depends on his body.”

Deadliest with Duke

McGrath felt Anderson was at his deadliest in England with the Duke ball. “He is dangerous with Duke, swinging it both ways at will. The ball has a big seam. Just feels nice in the hands, feels a little smaller. In English conditions, it is perfect. Even as he swings it, he makes things harder for the batsmen with his control.”

The Aussie predator went on, “Anderson’s performances in the English conditions have always been brilliant. Maybe not as good when he travels.”

READ | Can Anderson get to 700 wickets? Why not, asks the pacer

He elaborated, “when you bowl in perfect conditions with Duke and then bowl in tougher terrains, then it gets hard to adapt. But Anderson is a lot better now overseas than he was earlier.”

On Anderson’s ability to bamboozle batsmen with his swing, McGrath observed: “The batsmen struggle to pick him as he mixes his outswingers and inswingers. The batsmen are not used to playing swing bowling. Most pacemen are of the hit-the-deck kind.”

Partnership with Broad

Bowling in partnership with Stuart Broad had helped Anderson, said McGath. “They build pressure, working at the batsmen from both ends. Great pair, great rapport and variations.

“Anderson swings the sphere and the taller Broad hits the deck and gets bounce and seam movement.”

McGrath marvelled at Anderson’s “hunger and desire to pick wickets and still enjoy the game. His passion is the secret of his success”.

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