Former India coach and noted commentator Ravi Shastri is not surprised to see James Anderson become the No.1 ranked Test bowler in the world at the age of 40 and believes the evergreen England quick is easily among the best fast bowlers to have ever played, while lauding his work ethic and the professionalism.
Epitome of professionalism
In the latest episode of The ICC Review, Shastri spoke in awe of Anderson, who recently climbed to the top of the tree for Test bowlers for the sixth time in his career.
The former India captain recalled the amount of effort the England seamer used to put in to ensure he was always at his best, and he believes it is his ability to train at 100 percent that distinguishes him from the rest and allows him to thrive so late in his international career.
"I used to watch him so closely when I was a coach on tours of England every time. And what I used to admire was his work ethic. Even in Indian conditions, there were times he didn't play in India. But he would go out to bowl at lunch or straight after the day's play or before the day's play," Shastri said.
"I would say he would bowl 20 balls or 25 balls at the most. But for every ball, he would give it his all. And at times I would tell my fast bowlers, Just watch that. Just watch the professionalism, the work ethic'.
"And it's not a half-hearted delivery. Those 15-20 balls, whatever they had to bowl, would be as if he's bowling in a game. He bowls six and maybe takes a little break as if it's someone else's bowling. Then come back and do that. And then the action, the follow through and the rhythm, the running in, was just the same for all those 20 balls," Shastri said.
"So these are real professionals and a stickler for fitness. You can't play at 40 and produce these kinds of results unless you are supremely fit. So, hats off. Well done, Jimmy. I would say. He's a role model. He inspires so many. Leave alone batters playing at the age of 40, but for a fast bowler to play at 40, you just salute it," he added.
Master of his backyard
Anderson's longevity has helped him amass a total of 682 Test wickets, with spin duo Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708) the only bowlers to have more Test scalps to their name.
A total of 429 of Anderson's Test wickets have come at home and Shastri said there's no doubt the right-armer is the best of all time in those suitable English conditions.
"Jimmy will be number one in England. He is a master of his craft and as good as any swing bowler you've seen in English conditions", Shastri noted.
"He'll be right up there, right up with the very best in the world in those conditions. You've got to know where your off-stump is. Otherwise, he'll find it very quickly and he will expose you badly," she added.
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