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England pace bowler James Anderson has rated legendary Australia seamer Glenn McGrath and South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn as better bowlers than him.
Anderson’s appreciation for the duo comes after he surpassed McGrath’s record during the recent five-Test series against India to become the most prolific quick bowler in Test history.
The 36-year-old explained that McGrath possessed various attributes that made him a superior bowler.
“I’ll tell you something about Glenn McGrath – he was a much better bowler than me. This is not false modesty,” Anderson wrote in a column on Fox Sports as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “I may have gone past his wicket tally but I honestly believe McGrath’s bounce, relentless accuracy, aggression and ability to move the ball made him superior. He had everything. And it is not a random, top-of-the-head assessment, either. I’ve been studying all of the great fast bowlers since I was about eight years old.”
While he admired McGrath for all the abilities and skills he had, Anderson insisted that he and the 48-year-old have something in common.
“I also loved McGrath’s attitude,” Anderson wrote. “He had plenty of a snarl on the field – a bit like me, I suppose – and was super-competitive. He hated giving away runs or not taking wickets.”
Anderson also paid close attention to how McGrath prepared for matches. One of the techniques he used – bowling with an old ball – is something that Anderson has instilled in his own training regime as it helps him excel when conditions may be unfavourable for bowlers.
“I heard him say once that he practised for when the ball didn’t swing,” Anderson wrote. “So if it did swing, it was a bonus. That philosophy has been a big part of my development.
“You so often see bowlers pick out a lovely new ball from the bag at nets and it looks great when it swings in the air and nips off the seam with batsmen playing and missing. What about when the ball is 60 overs old, the sun is blazing down, the pitch is flat and there’s not a hint of movement? So, at practice, I often take an old ball that looks like it’s been chewed by a dog and work on variations and aiming for the top of off stump. That’s the quickest way to improve your skills.”
As for Steyn, Anderson feels that the 35-year-old is better than him due to the control he has and the swing he can conjure up when bowling raw pace.
“I’ve spent most of my life watching fast bowlers – initially as a kid on TV and later in the flesh when I started playing top-level cricket,” he wrote. “Even now, on a day off, I’ll sit at home with the cricket on TV analysing the quick boys and trying to learn. How are they gripping the ball? What are they thinking? Why did they bowl a bouncer or yorker or slower ball? I don’t think I’ll ever stop being fascinated.
“Of the modern era, I’d happily tip my hat towards Dale Steyn. With his express pace, control and swing, he’s better than me, too.”