England vs India: Two batsmen born 15 years apart, both of whom were era-defining for India, and both of whom were pushed to their absolute limits by the same fast-bowler. That is the measure of James Anderson’s sagacity.
Anderson continued his nine-year Test battle against India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday at Headingley in England vs India, and for the seventh time in a row, the Englishman emerged victoriously.
With that, he matched Nathan Lyon of Australia as the bowler who has dismissed Kohli the most times in Test cricket. Those seven dismissals have occurred over the course of 23 Tests, with six occurring at home and one in England. Kohli has not yet reached double figures in any of the seven games.
The bowlers who have dismissed Kohli the most times in Test matches
And, just as he holds the record for the most Test dismissals of Kohli, he also claims the same distinction against Tendulkar. Anderson defeated the greatest run-scorer in Test cricket history nine times in 14 matches, compared to eight times in 19 matches against Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan.
Anderson was only 23 when he defeated Tendulkar for the first time, drawing an outside edge from the Little Master in Mumbai in 2006. He was 30 when he first dismissed Kohli in Kolkata, and he was a week older when he finally got the better of Tendulkar for the final time.
He is 39 years old at the time of this writing. That is 16 years of dominating some of the best players the game has ever seen. Of course, it hasn’t been all one-way traffic during that time – who could forget Kohli’s 2016 and 2018 campaigns against England, or Tendulkar’s unbeaten Chennai tonne – but what the two records point towards is one of the most resilient and skilled bowlers in cricket history.
Anderson achieved the same result against Tendulkar in 2006 of England vs India, and he repeated the feat against Kohli at Headingley on Wednesday, finishing with figures of 3/6 from eight overs. It was a masterclass from the veteran quick, who had previously removed both KL Rahul (0) and Cheteshwar Pujara (1) via edges to the keeper.
“We’ve had some great battles over the years,” Anderson said of his dismissal of Kohli. “He’s a fantastic player and someone you want to keep quiet as a team, especially in a five-match series like this.
“All we have to do now is try to keep him quiet as much as we can because we know that if he gets going, it could be a long series for us.”
Anderson had been playing in Test matches for three years when he first met Tendulkar. To that point, his career had been relatively modest, with 35 wickets at 36.40 to his credit. By the end of 2009, his tally had risen to 145 and his average had improved to 34.89, but few could have predicted that more than a decade later, he would be the greatest Test wicket-taker in fast-bowling history, playing arguably as well as he has ever played.
Anderson has been the definition of excellence in Test cricket since 2010, taking 481 wickets at a strike rate of 23.87 in that time period by the time the first innings at Headingly came to a close. Only Dale Steyn (267 at 22.29) has a higher average among the top ten Test wicket-takers during that period.
Most Test wickets since 2010
Anderson is showing no signs of slowing down, which is extremely concerning for opposing teams around the world. In 2020, he averaged 20.47 points across six Tests, and in 2021, he averaged 19.51 points across nine Tests.
With 629 wickets at 26.46, he has surpassed Anil Kumble to move into third place on the all-time wicket-taking list. Shane Warne and his 708 are still a long way away, but only the brave or the foolish would rule out the possibility of him making it.