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How Zaheer Khan influenced James Anderson

Source: PTI
February 28, 2024 19:08 IST
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James Anderson

IMAGE: England fast bowler James Anderson opened up on the tricks of the trade that he picked up from former Indian cricketer Zaheer Khan. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

James Anderson, England's greatest fast bowler with an unparalleled longevity and nearly 1000 international wickets, says he has learned a few elements of pace bowling, including reverse swing, from Indian great Zaheer Khan.

At 41, Anderson continues to lead the England attack and is two short of becoming the first fast bowler in the history of the sport to breach the 700-wicket mark.

Spin legends Muttiah Muralitharan and the late Shane Warne are the only bowlers with 700 plus wickets in Test cricket.


"For me, Zaheer Khan was someone I used to watch a lot to try and learn from.

“How he used the reverse swing, how he covered the ball when he ran into bowl, that's something I tried to sort of develop on the back of playing against him quite a few times here," Anderson told JioCinema.

Zaheer, one of India's finest seamers, played his last Test in 2014 when Anderson was at the top of his game.

Among the current lot of Indian pacers, Anderson is most impressed by Jasprit Bumrah's ability, calling him a "great exponent" of reverse swing.

‘There aren’t many bowlers better than Bumrah, Shami, Siraj’

Asked about Bumrah's match-winning performance in the second Test against England, Anderson said, "With someone of his quality you expect that standard from him.

“You know that reverse swing can play a big part in India and he's a great exponent of it. He's got good pace and is very accurate, very consistent.

"That yorker we saw to Ollie Pope, he's got that up his sleeve as well. It's not a fluke that he's got to number one in the world.

“He's a world-class bowler and from our point of view we weren't surprised that he put up a performance like that."

The seasoned Englishman added, "There are not many better bowlers than Bumrah, Shami and Siraj.

“They're world-class bowlers. You put Ishant Sharma in there as well, and that's a really strong bowling attack."

Anderson's longevity in the game can be ascertained by the fact that his current England teammates such as Shoaib Bashir and Rehan Ahmed were not even born when he made his Test debut way back in 2002.

‘Age is just a number’

Having played 186 Tests and 194 ODIs over the last 22 years, Anderson's desire to be competitive remains intact.

On comparing his longevity to other sporting legends, Anderson said, "Yeah, I guess you do look at things like that, but to be honest, I just go with the feel of me and my body.

“I don't feel like I'm 41 years and 200 days old. You know, I still feel young.

"I can keep up with the young guys in training. I can still bowl the speeds that I want to, I can still deliver the skills that I want to.

“So, for me that's the most important thing. Age is just a number and it's pretty irrelevant from my thought process."

‘In Tests, swing can play a big part’

When the discussion turned to reverse swing, Anderson said the art remains relevant even in an age dominated by T20 cricket.

"I don't think it's dying. Because of the growth of white-ball cricket in recent times, the focus has moved to change of pace and different deliveries like yorkers, and things like that.

"But for me, in Test cricket, we've seen throughout this series already that swing can play a big part.

"The way Bumrah's bowled, I think, has been amazing to watch. That reverse swing spell in the second Test was one of the best you'll see. For me, I think there's still people out there wanting to learn the skills and it's not easy to do."

‘We’ve had some great battles over the years’

With star batter Virat Kohli skipping the ongoing Test series due to personal reasons, Anderson said he missed bowling to the Indian maestro with he had had some fascinating duels.

"You always want to play against the best players. And it's been a shame that he's not been a part of the series. We have had some great battles over the years."

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