England v Sri Lanka Tests

Anderson can break my record: McGrath

Fast-bowling great says Englishman can eclipse his mark of 563 Test wickets – provided he stays fit

Adam Burnett in Brisbane

4 June 2016, 02:12 PM AEST

The legendary Glenn McGrath says England quick James Anderson could well go on to surpass the Australian's mark for the most Test wickets by a fast bowler.

Anderson went past the 450 milestone in England's most recent Test against Sri Lanka this week, and at 451, still trails McGrath's tally of 563 by 112 wickets.

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But speaking with cricket.com.au, McGrath said Anderson has the capacity to end his career as Test cricket's fourth-greatest wicket-taker – behind only spin trio Muthiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619).

"That's entirely up to him; if he stays on the park, then he can do that quite easily – and knock me off. And good luck to him," McGrath said when asked if he felt his mark was within the Englishman's reach.

"He's a quality bowler, there's no doubt about that. When he's firing and the ball's swinging, he's as tough (to face) as any bowler going around.

"He's played 115 Tests now, which for a fast bowler to play over 100 is exceptional.

"He's still bowling well, and he's still taking wickets."

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While certainly no fait accompli, Anderson is well placed to challenge McGrath's mark – the Lancastrian turns 34 next month, and is averaging 46.5 wickets per year from 2012-15.

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That sort of strike rate would mean he'd need to be playing for roughly another two-and-a-half years, and in April the man himself set that sort of target.

"In the back of my mind I think I can get 500 Test wickets," Anderson told The Telegraph UK. "And what has helped me during the last three or four years has been thinking about staying as fit as possible so I get on the field.

"Then I can contribute to us winning games. If I do that and stay in the team it means I will get wickets.

"I would like to play the 2019 Ashes. I will be 37 then."  

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Anderson's estimation of 500 wickets could be somewhat conservative if he is indeed still playing in the 2019 Ashes, and McGrath agrees that at this point in the paceman's career, fitness is the key.

"Being a fast bowler is tough on the body, there's no doubt about it," he added. "You have to stay fit and strong, and injury free.

"He's had a few issues in the past but he's come back well, and (how long he plays is) up to him now really.

"I was lucky enough to play through 'til I was 37, so I'm sure he's still got plenty of overs left in him."

McGrath says a fast bowler at the back-end of his career is much more intelligent and aware of both physical maintenance as well as the art of taking wickets.

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The paceman took 62 wickets in 2005, having turned 35 in the February that year, before adding 24 wickets in six Tests across the final 13 months of his time in Baggy Green.

"You become a little bit more experienced and you know how to go about things," he explains. "You learn how to recover, and out in the middle you know about taking wickets, creating pressure and setting batsmen up.

"I think you just know yourself better – the way you work and how you work at your best.

"Anderson would definitely know that now and would be making sure he's always recovering well."

McGrath saw a host of quality English quicks through his career and since, and says Anderson is the equal of any of them. 

"He's a different bowler to Stuart Broad, and to 'Goughy' (Darren Gough) and (Andy) Caddick and those guys," he said.

"But for the wickets he's taken, and when he's on song, he's as good as there's been from England I think.

"I think Broad's got the potential to go on and be one of the greats as well, but Jimmy's up there – and now it's up to him how high he wants to set that mark." 

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