‘I Would Tell my Fast Bowlers to Just Watch The Work Ethic’: Former India Coach Reveals Admiration For James Anderson

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Last Updated: February 24, 2023, 13:08 IST

James Anderson is the third highest wicket-taker in Test history. (Reuters Photo)

England pacer James Anderson reclaimed the top spot in bowlers rankings for Test cricket becoming the oldest in 84 years to do so

The unreal longevity of England fast bowler James Anderson is a stuff of dreams considering the wear and tear the body of a pacer goes through at the top level. In a couple of months, Anderson will be completing 21 years of international cricket having made his England debut way back in 2002.

The 40-year-old has played 178 Tests so far and taken 682 wickets in them at 25.94 including 32 five-wicket hauls with a best innings figures of 7/42. His tally is the best in history by a fast bowler in Test cricket and the third best overall behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne.

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He recently took seven wickets in England’s 267-run win over New Zealand in the first Test, a performance that propelled him back to the top of the ICC Test Rankings for bowlers. He thus became the oldest bowler in 84 years to top the rankings.

Former India coach Ravi Shastri has revealed his admiration for the cricketer’s work ethic whom he used to watch closely during England tours and

“I used to watch him so closely when I was a coach on tours of England every time. And what I used to admire was his work ethic,” Shastri said on ICC Review.

“Even in Indian conditions, there were times he didn’t play in India. But he would go out to bowl at lunch or straight after the day’s play or before the day’s play,” he added.

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Shastri added he used to ask his fast bowlers to observe the professionalism and work ethic of Anderson.  “I would say he would bowl 20 balls or 25 balls at the most. But every ball, he would give it his all. And at times I would tell my fast bowlers, ‘Just watch that. Just watch the professionalism, the work ethic’.” he said.

“And it’s not a half-hearted delivery. Those 15-20 balls, whatever they had to bowl, would be as if he’s bowling in a game. He bowls six and maybe takes a little break as if it’s someone else’s bowling. Then come back and do that. And then the action, the follow through and the rhythm, the running in, was just the same for all those 20 balls,” he added.

He also pointed out the high standards of fitness maintained by the Anderson who is a role model and an inspiration.

“So these are real professionals, and a stickler for fitness. You can’t play at 40 and produce these kinds of results unless you are supremely fit. So, hats off. Well done, Jimmy. I would say. He’s a role model. He inspires so many. Leave alone batters playing at the age of 40, but for a fast bowler to play at 40, you just salute it,” Shastri said.

Shastri thinks there isn’t a better bowler than Anderson in English conditions.

“Jimmy will be number one in England,” Shastri said. “He is a master of his craft and as good as any swing bowler you’ve seen in English conditions. He’ll be right up there, right up with the very best in the world in those conditions. You’ve got to know where your off stump is. Otherwise he’ll find it very quickly and he will expose you badly.”

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