Published on August 22nd, 2017 | by Rohit Sankar0
Are Anderson and Broad England’s best ever pacers?
That is the total number of wickets James Anderson and Stuart Broad have in Test cricket alone. To put things into perspective, Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald had 751 between them, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis had 787, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh had 924.
Among fast bowling pairs, Anderson and Broad rank high in terms of numbers. Cut the numbers down to the number of games they have played together (95 Tests) and the numbers continue to be impressive. The duo has 730 wickets as a pair in Tests.
Only three other pairs have better numbers in Test cricket – Walsh and Ambrose (762), Vaas and Muralitharan (895), McGrath and Warne (1001). Anderson and Broad are 32-shy of the deadly West Indian pair and should easily surpass them by the end of the Ashes, if not in this series.
They share 32 five-wicket hauls and have remarkably better averages as a pair. Broad recently overtook Ian Botham to be the second highest wicket-taker for England with 384 scalps. Anderson, meanwhile, leads the way with 492 and is the sixth highest wicket-taker of all time in Test cricket. He should easily finish as the highest wicket-taker among pacers in Test cricket (McGrath leads with 563 at the moment).
When the duo took the field at Edgbaston against the hapless Windies, it was the first time England were playing their no.1 and no.2 highest wicket-takers in the same game since Brian Statham.and Fred Trueman led the charts way back in 1963.
Trueman finished his career with 307 wickets while Statham finished at 252. Both were exceptional bowlers and formed a potent pair but Anderson and Broad transcend the ordinary. They have been a real force to reckon with in Test match cricket.
Anderson, with his ability to swing the ball either way at will and Broad with his immaculate lines and seam movement, has dominated batsmen for close to a decade now.
Only three England fast bowlers have played in more than a 100 Test matches – James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Botham.
Sir Ian Botham was a legendary all-rounder and even if his 14 Test hundreds were set aside, he would walk into any team purely on his bowling abilities. That said, Anderson and Broad have both comfortably crossed his milestone of wickets and given that they still have at least two years of cricket left in them, the duo is certain to be known as better bowlers in England’s history.
Bob Willis, with 325 Test wickets in 90 Tests is another tight competitor for the duo. At 26, Willis had undergone operations to both his knees but excelled as a fast bowler for 13 long years. Perhaps, Frank Tyson was England’s only bowler to bowl quicker than Willis in those times.
One could possibly argue that Fred Trueman had better overall numbers than Willis with 307 scalps in 67 Tests at 21.57 as against Willis’ average of 25.2. Even in terms of strike rate, Trueman trumps Willis. But from a sheer fear factor perspective, Willis at 6 foot 6 in was as scary as they come.
But Stuart Broad, roughly the same height as Willis, has been a much better bowler, not only in terms of numbers but also with his ability to create an impact in the game. One would remember Broad for his scintillating spells against Australia at Trent Bridge (8/15) and South Africa at Johannesburg (6/17), both which came in the past two years.
Broad is an impact bowler while Anderson is more of a consistent fast bowler with clear strengths and weaknesses.
There are questions marks over their abilities in the sub-continent but with 730 wickets between them at an average better than their career averages, there really is little to argue.
What sets apart Anderson and Broad from the likes of other competitors like Trueman and Statham or Botham and Willis or Gough and Caddick or Flintoff and Harmison, is their ability to offer completely different things from two ends.
They are relentless in their approach but are as different as cow and goat. Anderson relies on movement in the air and subtle movement of the deck while Broad is more of a hit the deck seamer who relies on his rhythm to generate seam movement majorly.
The likes of Trueman, Willis, Bedser and Statham might have better averages as opposed to Anderson and Broad but the current duo have survived the test of time and should easily be recognised as England’s best fast bowlers in the history of Test cricket.