James Anderson says he has no plans to hang up his boots yet after overtaking Glenn McGrath to become the most prolific fast bowler in Test history as the Australian challenged the Englishman to reach 600 wickets.
Anderson went past McGrath’s tally of 563 wickets when he knocked out Mohammed Shami’s middle stump as England bowled out India for 345 to seal a 4-1 series victory at the Oval on Tuesday.
The Lancashire swing bowler, with 564 scalps, now trails just the spin trio of Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800 wickets), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619) in the all-time list.
The 36-year-old downplayed his personal achievement, saying he was more focused on helping England win the final match of the series.
“When I sit down at the end of my career, when I finish, it will mean a hell of a lot to me to be able to see what I’ve achieved,” he said.
“But right now it’s hard when you put all your energy into the present and trying to perform well for England. That’s all I really focus on.”
Anderson is three years older than his great friend Alastair Cook, who retired from Test cricket after the match at the Oval but has no immediate plans to quit.
When asked how long he would go on, Anderson, who no longer plays one-day cricket for England, said: “I don’t really think about it. I think I play my best when I focus on what’s ahead of me, the next game, the next series, whatever it is.”
“I read something that Glenn McGrath said,” he added. “He went into the 2006 Ashes with no intention of retiring and then by the end of it he thought his time was up. That could happen to me. Who knows? I don’t like looking too far ahead.”
“To think that Jimmy’s played for so long and continued at the top of his game shows his work ethic, his physical and mental strength and everything else that goes into it”
McGrath posted a message of congratulations on Instagram praising Anderson’s “dedication, commitment, hard work, skill and mental toughness”.
And he has challenged the England bowler, who made his debut in 2003 and has played 143 Tests, to go on and reach the 600 mark.
“If he can raise the bar to 600 wickets, that’s an incredible effort,” McGrath told BBC radio.
“Being a fast bowler is the toughest part of the game and injuries do play a part,” he added. “To think that Jimmy’s played for so long and continued at the top of his game shows his work ethic, his physical and mental strength and everything else that goes into it.”
McGrath, who spearheaded one of the finest teams in Test history, said Anderson’s record would stand for a long time.
“The game is quicker, it’s faster. And will bowlers play enough Test cricket in the future to get anywhere near the mark?”
An emotional Anderson said he would miss Cook’s influence in the dressing room.
“For me he’s been a very good friend but he’s been someone I look up to,” he said. “His work ethic and the way he conducts himself, he’s a real idol not to just me but to the rest of the team.
“He’ll be missed in that respect. We’ll still be very good friends going forward but I’ll just miss him on tours, in dressing rooms. Just that shoulder to lean on when it’s not going that well.”