Scant consolation, perhaps, but James Anderson took seven wickets for 77 runs in the dismal third-Test loss against the West Indies to overtake arch-rival Dale Steyn on the list of all-time wicket-takers.
With 397 victims, he is now 12th on the list, some considerable distance behind Muttiah Muralitharan, who has 800 wickets from 133 matches; but then that is not too surprising, given the number of balls the spinners deliver. He, like Shane Warne (ranked 2) and Anil Kumble (3), has sent down more than 40,000 deliveries, compared to Anderson’s 22,830. Steyn incidentally, has delivered just 16,846 scorchers.
Glenn McGrath, fourth on the table, is the top paceman with 563 from 124 matches.
Overall, it has taken Anderson 102 Tests to reach this milestone, while Steyn hit 396 after 78 Tests.
The last time Anderson and Steyn went head to head was in the three-Test series in England in late 2012, when South Africa won 2-0 and became the No 1 Test playing nation in the world. Since then, Anderson has played 29 Tests, taking 121 wickets at an average of 26.52; Steyn has appeared in 21, taking 109 at 20.06.
Head to head, Steyn has taken 46 English wickets in 11 matches, 23 home and 23 away, at an average of 32.63; Anderson has taken 42 from 12 matches against South Africa, 24 of which came in seven matches at home. He averages 37.42.
Steyn, nevertheless, remains top of the ICC ranking list with 905 points, while Anderson has crept up to second with 847, squeezing out Australia’s Ryan Harris (826).
Anderson registered his best return on an overseas tour when he took six for 42 on the crazy second day in Barbados, when 18 wickets fell, to draw level with Steyn on 396 and secured one more in the second innings, bowling Shivnarine Chanderpaul before the West Indies stabilised and drove on to a five-wicket win and a share of the series.
The Lancashire seamer had surpassed Sir Ian Botham’s record to become England’s leading Test wicket-taker of all time. in his 100th Test on April 16 when Alastair Cook caught Denesh Ramdin for 57 in the opening Test against the West Indies in Antigua.