Image courtesy of: The Telegraph
Anderson is only the fourth English bowler to take 300 Test wickets
In a rather bold statement, England bowling coach David Saker believes veteran pace bowler James Anderson is the “most skilful fast bowler in the world”, even more so than South African seamer Dale Steyn, who is currently ranked first on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Test bowler rankings.
During the recently concluded two-Test series against New Zealand, Anderson became just the fourth English bowler to take 300 Test wickets, and Saker is convinced that the 30-year-old has every chance of increasing his wicket tally to 400.
Speaking more about Steyn, Saker admitted that while Anderson lacked in pace compared to the South African spearhead, the England seamer was always looking for a way to develop his bowling and take it to new heights.
Saker added that Anderson’s ability to swing the ball both ways was an extremely rare characteristic for any fast bowler and attributed his huge wicket tally to his ability to hide the ball with a well-disguised action.
“To me, he is the most skilful fast bowler in the world,” Saker said. “I know Dale Steyn is an outstanding bowler, but when you watch the way Jimmy goes about things, he has more skills in his locker. Steyn might be a little quicker but watch Anderson deliver those skills and it’s just mind-blowing. When he gets it right, there’s no more skilful bowler in the world.
“Jimmy keeps getting better. I don’t know whether his figures say that, but he’s the one player I’ve coached that is never satisfied with what he’s got. For him it would be easy to be satisfied because he has so many skills, but he keeps working on things in training. I’ve never met a guy as good as him who keeps wanting to get better.
“I remember watching him as a supporter of the Australian team. He could swing the ball but you could always get a four off him. Now it’s really hard to get runs off him. He’s very rarely cut. He has excellent control and he always tests the batsman. He’s a class bowler.
“He has a body that can play for a lot longer, too. We hope he can go beyond 400 wickets and become England’s greatest wicket-taker. He has a really nice action, he’s a seasoned campaigner and he knows how to manage his body. We hope he can stay on the park for another five or six years.”
The England bowling coach was also full of praise for Stuart Broad, who he believes is hard to beat if everything goes his way.
Broad took a career-best 7 for 44 in the first Test at Lord’s, which led to New Zealand being skittled out 68 and England winning the match by 170 runs.
“When he gets everything right, there aren’t many better in the world,” Saker said. “We’ll be talking about that spell for a long time. It’s as good a spell as you’ll ever see anywhere. He has days where he just tears teams apart and he did it again there.
“The one thing that stands out from the greats to the very good is the greats are consistent. Stuart still has things to learn about bowling. But in my book he’s still getting better every time and he’s learning a lot from having some down times. He’s come back bigger and better from some down times in India. Those things happen. There are a lot of bowlers who have gone through times which are a bit tough.”
In the past, Saker has even gone as far as claiming that the current England bowling attack was “as good as” the Australian attack of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, but, he now admitted that there is still room for improvement for each bowler in the side.
Saker pointed out that one of his biggest concerns at the moment is the lack of rhythm Steven Finn has shown in the last few Test series.
“He probably isn’t bowling as well as he could, but he’s getting wickets,” Saker said. “He’s got that knack of getting wickets. He’s got the pace. We’re just working on a few little things.”
Saker was also full of praise for the fight New Zealand showed throughout the series and lauded their spirit despite being bowled out for 68 in one innings, which he believes can seriously demoralise a team.
“The one thing we’ve learned in recent months is that New Zealand are a bloody good cricket team,” Saker said. “They’ve competed extremely well against us and we’ve found it really hard to get them out. And their bowlers have been as good as any bowling attack. They’ve been so disciplined. I think we were all surprised how good they were in New Zealand. So we had a real steely look about us as we’re so impressed by the way they’ve played.
“But it can definitely hurt you being bowled out for 68. When the ball moves, we have a lot of teams’ measures. We’ve some good skilful bowlers. Some days in England it is very tough to bat and now we have a chance to keep kicking them.”