James Anderson closes in on another England Test record

JAMES ANDERSON will this week become England’s joint most capped player, with the chance to add to his already impressive record.

Lancashire's James Anderson: Still going strong.

Barring injury, Anderson will don the England whites for a 161st time on Wednesday when the first Test against New Zealand gets under way at Lord’s, where he has over 100 wickets in the format.

With the Lancastrian’s form more impressive than ever even as he approaches the age of 39, we take a look at his record and England’s most capped players.

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England’s top caps:

Sir Alastair Cook (161 caps)

Making his debut in 2006, the opener retired in 2018 as England’s leading run-scorer by a distance with 12,472 including 33 centuries. He captained his country in 59 Tests - five more than any other player - and, while Joe Root could challenge several of his records, Cook’s place among the greats of English cricket is established.

England’s record wicket-taker with 614 - the most by any Test seamer worldwide - Anderson has been a near-constant presence with the new ball since 2003 and his 30 five-wicket innings marks another national record.

Stuart Broad (146)

Anderson’s long-time new-ball partner, Broad will seek this summer to be the third Englishman to reach 150 caps. Only Anderson has more than Broad’s 517 Test wickets for England.

Alec Stewart (133)

Averaged almost 40 with the bat despite the competing demands of opening, keeping wicket and captaining the side at various overlapping points in his career.

Graham Gooch and Ian Bell (118)

Cook’s mentor Gooch previously held the record as England’s leading run-scorer, and remains second with Root closing fast. Bell matched his cap tally and played in five Ashes-winning sides on his way to nearly 8,000 elegant runs at 42.69.

Anderson’s record

A Lord’s Test in 2021 is the ideal setting for Anderson to match Cook’s total, when looking at the paceman’s international record.

He has 103 wickets at HQ, one of just three bowlers along with Sri Lanka spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath to reach three figures at a single venue - Broad is six away from joining him in that category at Lord’s.

Anderson also has 64 at Trent Bridge, a ground where he averages under 20 and which will host the first Test of the late-summer series against India. At Edgbaston, venue for the second Test against New Zealand and his first chance to set the caps record outright, he has 44 wickets at 22.02 in 11 Tests.

Even more remarkably, 2021 has so far brought Anderson the best average of any year in his Test career. Admittedly in only four games thus far, he has 12 wickets at an average of 12.36 - including six for 40 against Sri Lanka in Galle and three for 17 against India in Chennai.

That continues a pattern of Anderson improving with age - since the start of 2014, when he was already 31 with the wear and tear of 91 Tests in his legs, he has played anther 69 games and taken 274 wickets at 21.32.

Only 39 bowlers have that many wickets in their full Test career and of those, only two have an average lower than Anderson’s in that phase - West Indies greats Malcolm Marshall at 20.94 and Curtly Ambrose at 20.99.

Beyond Cook, just six other Test cricketers have more caps than Anderson. Sachin Tendulkar’s 200 for India will be out of reach but former Australia captains Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting share second place on 168, surely within range for Anderson. Jacques Kallis played 166 Tests, with 164 apiece for Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Rahul Dravid.