Thursday 29 October, 2020

Anderson gets to 600 wickets; England win series against Pakistan

England's James Anderson holds up the ball to celebrate his 600th Test wicket after dismissing Pakistan's captain Azhar Ali during the fifth day of the third cricket Test, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool).

England's James Anderson holds up the ball to celebrate his 600th Test wicket after dismissing Pakistan's captain Azhar Ali during the fifth day of the third cricket Test, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool).

England paceman Jimmy Anderson became the first fast bowler to reach 600 wickets in Test cricket before the third and final test against Pakistan finished as a draw on Tuesday, leaving the home side to celebrate a second series victory of the pandemic-disrupted summer.

Less than two hours of cricket were played on a rain-affected Day 5, with England taking just two of the eight wickets needed to win the match at the Rose Bowl after Pakistan resumed on 100-2 and trailing by 210 runs.

The big consolation was Anderson took one of them, removing Pakistan captain Azhar Ali to join retired spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble in the “600 club” in Tests.

“It feels amazing,” said Anderson, a 38-year-old seamer who was playing in his 156th Test.

"I just absolutely love it. There is not better feeling for me than putting the boots on and doing what I love doing."

England won the series 1-0, with their three-wicket victory in the first Test in Manchester followed by two rain-hit, drawn Tests in Southampton. It was a first series triumph over Pakistan since 2010 and a second of the summer after beating the West Indies 2-1.

Pakistan were 187-4 when the teams settled on a draw, with 27.1 overs bowled on Tuesday. Babar Azam was 63 not out. The first two sessions were washed out because of heavy overnight rain and a subsequent drenched outfield.

With rain forecast for most of Tuesday, Anderson said he feared he wouldn't make it onto the field to reach his latest milestone.

When he eventually did late in the afternoon, it took him 14 deliveries.

After England captain Joe Root took a high catch at first slip off Azhar to give Anderson the prized wicket, the fast bowler was mobbed by his teammates.

Then Anderson took the ball in his right hand and — with a cheeky smile — saluted all sides of the Rose Bowl, which is without spectators because of coronavirus restrictions. England coach Chris Silverwood applauded on the boundary edge.

Muralitharan (800), Warne (708) and Kumble (619) remain above Anderson on the all-time list of wicket-takers.

“I think we should all raise a glass for Jimmy,” said Warne, who was at the Rose Bowl on media duties. "For any fast bowler to play 156 Test matches and take 600 wickets, we should all say well done

“To be able to evolve your game all the time — the wobble ball, he can swing the ball both ways, he is a smart bowler. You need to have those cricket smarts when you are playing for such a long period of time. His skill is his superpower.”

Kumble took to Twitter, calling Anderson a “great fast bowler” and saying: “Welcome to the club.”

Root, meanwhile, called Anderson a “credit to our country.”

“To stand up and perform and be at the elite end of Test cricket for such a long time is an incredible effort,” Root said. “He is so much more than what you see on the field.”

Pakistan, which have spent the last month in isolation because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place for the tour, took England all the way in the first Test and didn't have a chance to win the second Test because of bad weather.

Despite being outplayed in the third, Azhar — a century-maker in the first innings — said he would be taking positives from the tour.

“I am proud of the way we fought throughout the series,” he said. “Whenever we were under pressure, we responded really well.

“In this game, we were behind and we could easily have rolled over.”

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