WHEN Fred Trueman became the first man to take 300 Test wickets, he was asked whether he thought anyone would beat his record.
“I don’t know,” he replied, “but if they do, they’ll be bloody tired.”
On that basis, it is fair to assume that James Anderson, who yesterday became the first Englishman to take 400 Test wickets, has been running on empty for quite some time.
Yet one would never have known it as he reached the milestone on the opening day of the second Test, evoking the spirit of Fiery Fred as New Zealand scored 297-8 on a fluctuating day.
Times have changed since Trueman broke cricket’s equivalent of the four-minute mile in 1964.
Twenty-seven men have now taken 300 Test wickets, of whom seven have gone on beyond 400, two beyond 500, one beyond 600, one beyond 700 and one, the Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, to 800.
Anderson is operating in an era of considerably more Test matches, an era when 10 members of the 400 club have played at least 100 Tests.
Anderson is playing in his 104th game at Leeds, whereas Trueman appeared only 67 times – a total that would have been greater, of course, had the Yorkshiremen not been regarded as a maverick figure.
Trueman also famously said, when the pace bowler Neil Mallender made his Test debut here in 1992, that “there’s plenty of good bowlers who’ve run in from that Kirkstall Lane end, and he’s not one of them.”
Trueman would have been somewhat more generous, one suspects, towards Anderson, who matched his own tally of 307 Test wickets in the corresponding match at Headingley two years ago, before passing his total in the first Test of the 2013 Ashes series.
Anderson is not as quick as Trueman, of course, something that would doubtless have been pointed out with gusto on the airwaves, but the Lancastrian is clearly a master of his craft.
At 32, he has time to push up towards 500 wickets, by which point he could be forgiven for being completely cream-crackered.
The magic moment yesterday came at 1.39pm.
As rain spilled down from pewter-grey skies, as it did on-and-off for the first part of the day before a sunlit afternoon and evening, Anderson came charging in from Trueman’s beloved Kirkstall Lane end.
Having begun with a maiden to Martin Guptill, with a stiff breeze blowing from right to left assisting his out-swing, Anderson struck with the second ball of his second over, eliciting a thick outside edge that flew quickly above head height to Ian Bell at second slip.
The catch was instinctive, the celebrations the same, and the message that flashed up on the electronic scoreboard said it all: “Oh, Jimmy Jimmy!” it exclaimed as Headingley erupted.
No sooner had those celebrations subsided when the players ran for shelter.
After a brief delay, Anderson struck again with the second ball back, drawing Kane Williamson into a catch behind that represented an unhappy return home for the Yorkshire batsman.
Headingley has never been a happy hunting ground for Anderson – he had 15 Test wickets here at 43 prior to the match – but one would not have known it in that opening burst.
Anderson conceded 28 runs in the seven overs before he was withdrawn, but he was always attacking with plenty of slips.
England thought they had a third early wicket when Tom Latham was adjudged caught behind off Stuart Broad.
Replays showed a big gap between bat and ball, and umpire Sundaram Ravi was forced to reverse the decision.
There was no need to double-check when Ross Taylor padded up to Broad after he came on to replace Anderson at the Kirkstall Lane end.
Although the seam movement was considerable, the leave was careless, ending a stand of 66 with Latham in 12.2 overs.
Despite those early wickets, New Zealand – who handed a debut to wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi in place of Corey Anderson (back), with BJ Watling playing as a specialist batsman – scored swiftly throughout.
Brendon McCullum hit his first ball over cover for six off Broad, prompting gasps from the 13,000 crowd.
McCullum and Latham added 55 in 61 balls – McCullum contributing 41 – before the captain fell to the first ball after tea, wildly whacking Ben Stokes to mid-off.
Mark Wood, the catcher, got his name in the wickets column when he bowled Watling playing down the wrong line, leaving New Zealand 144-5.
At that stage, England had reasserted themselves only for the visitors to attack with renewed vigour.
Ronchi raced to a 37-ball half-century – the second-fastest in Tests behind team-mate Tim Southee’s 29-ball effort against England at Napier in 2008.
The fastest Test hundred on debut looked under threat –Shikhar Dhawan’s 85-ball assault on Australia at Mohali in 2013.
But Ronchi slapped Broad to Anderson at fine-leg after smashing 88 from 70 balls – moments after Broad had Latham caught at first slip by Joe Root for 84 from 180 deliveries.
Latham had a charmed life in the 70s.
He was dropped three times in six balls by Wood at square-leg off Moeen Ali, by Gary Ballance at leg slip off Ali, and by Cook at first slip off Broad.
Southee pulled Wood to Adam Lyth at deep backward-square in the closing stages but, from 2-2 after losing the toss, it felt like a decent day for New Zealand despite Anderson’s magical milestone