England's James Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Azhar Ali, his 600th Test match wicket
England's James Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Azhar Ali, his 600th Test match wicket
AFP

Southampton

Jimmy Anderson has entered the exclusive 600 Club.

The England paceman became only the fourth bowler, and the first seamer, to take 600 wickets in Test cricket on Tuesday by dismissing Azhar Ali in the third Test against Pakistan.

After England captain Joe Root took the high catch at first slip off the Pakistan captain to give Anderson his prized wicket, the 38-year-old fast bowler was mobbed by his teammates.

Then Anderson took the ball in his right hand and, with a cheeky smile, saluted all sides of the Rose Bowl, which is without spectators because of coronavirus restrictions. England coach Chris Silverwood applauded on the boundary edge.

Anderson, who is playing in his 156th Test, is fourth on the list of all-time leading wicket-takers in tests. Only retired spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619) are above him.

"Massive effort from a great fast bowler," Kumble, the former India legspinner, wrote on Twitter.

"Welcome to the club." Anderson is the second quickest to get to 600 wickets, taking six balls more than Muralitharan, but it could have come much sooner.

He took his 599th wicket, that of Abid Ali, near the end of Monday's play, before bad light stopped play.

The first two sessions of Tuesday were washed out, raising doubts about whether Anderson would miss his chance. However, play started late in the afternoon and Anderson took the wicket of Azhar off his 14th delivery.

The enduring Anderson shows no sign of slowing down, especially when he bowls on home soil where he is so adept at taking advantage of English conditions. He is still widely regarded as the best bowler in the world when the ball is swinging.

On Sunday, he took his 29th five-wicket haul of a test career that began in 2003. His average is 26.82.

Not playing white-ball cricket since 2015 has allowed him to focus his energy and fitness toward the test format.

The extended break to the cricket season because of the pandemic gave Anderson more time to rest his aging body after an injury-plagued period that restricted him to just 74 overs of bowling from the opening Ashes test in August last year until this summer.

Just this month, Anderson said he has no plans to retire and has his sights set on an Ashes series Down Under next year.

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