Home » James Anderson one of England’s greatest sportspeople as he continues to star in his 40s, says Michael Atherton

James Anderson one of England’s greatest sportspeople as he continues to star in his 40s, says Michael Atherton

James Anderson “has to be in the conversation” as England’s greatest-ever sportsperson, says Michael Atherton.

The seam bowler, 41, moved on to 695 Test wickets after striking five times in the defeat to India in the second Test at Vizag.

Anderson recorded match figures of 5-76 from 35 overs with an economy rate of 2.17 in what was the 184th Test of his career.

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Anderson is five wickets away from 700 in Test cricket

He is now just five wickets away from being the first paceman, and third bowler after spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, to the milestone of 700 in Test cricket.

Former England captain Michael Atherton told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast: “Anderson was amazing.

“He has to be one of our country’s greatest-ever sportsmen. It is one of these great pub debates but he has to be in the conversation.

Most wickets in men’s Test cricket

  • Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – 800
  • Shane Warne (Australia) – 708
  • James Anderson (England) – 695
  • Anil Kumble (India) – 619
  • Stuart Broad (England) – 604

“He is incredible. He is now nearly 700 wickets and 41 years of age and he bowled as well as he was bowling 15 years ago.

“The delivery to remove Rohit Sharma [bowled as the ball moved away to hit off stump] reminded me of the one to get VVS Laxman at Trent Bridge in 2011 when he first bowled the wobble seam.

“He seemed to be hitting the bat and the pitch a bit harder [in Vizag]. He looks as fit as a fiddle. It was an incredible performance.”

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Nasser Hussain says ‘genius’ Jasprit Bumrah gave India the edge in their thrilling 106-run victory over England in the second Test

Stokes captained fantastically; Bashir impressed on debut

Atherton also praised Ben Stokes’ captaincy despite England’s 106-run defeat in Vizag, a result that leaves the series tied at 1-1 with three matches remaining, starting in Rajkot from February 15.

The Sky Sports pundit said: “Stokes’ captaincy throughout the game was fantastic. England were 143 behind on first innings and still managed to control the game, it was like they were on top.

“That all comes down to Stokes’ leadership, his belief in his team and his players, the way he constantly tinkers and does not let the game drift and go quiet.”

Stokes had to marshal a spin attack with just three Test match caps between them heading into the game in Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and debutant Shoaib Bashir.

England debutant Shoaib Bashir celebrates his maiden Test wicket as he removes India captain Rohit Sharma on day one of the second Test in Vizag
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England off-spinner Shoaib Bashir – born after Anderson made his Test debut in 2003 – took four wickets in his maiden Test

Off-spinner Bashir, 20 – who linked up late with England in India after visa issues – took 3-138 in the first innings and 1-58 in the second, both times going at less than four an over.

Atherton added: “I thought Bashir did really well.

“With England’s spinners you have to recognise the context and these lads are right at the start of their careers.

“For this kid with 10 first-class wickets and six first-class games to bowl as he did, to hold his nerve when he must have been really nervous [was impressive].

“He got Rohit out. He didn’t get taken apart at any stage. He bowled accurately and intelligently.”

Follow over-by-over text commentary from the third Test between India and England, in Rajkot, from Thursday February 15 live on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App (first ball at 4am).

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Atherton has his say on whether India are now favourites to win the Test series against England

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