Is Jimmy Anderson an all time great?
His record outside England is the reason that raises this question.
Only 6 bowlers have taken more than 500 test match wickets. Jimmy Anderson, with a second innings 7 wicket haul against the West Indies in the recent Lords test becoming the first Englishman, and 6th player to reach that milestone.
Is Jimmy Anderson however on par with the other 5 greats? Or put simply, Is Jimmy Anderson a great bowler?
To answer this, let's look at the other 5 first.
The two spinners at the top of the tree were remarkable bowlers. Murali took 800 wickets and along with Chaminda Vaas, carried the bulk of the bowling duties for his nation for 15 years.
Shane Warne brought a whole new level of accuracy and quality to a dying art. He made leg spin attractive again, and his ability helped Australia to an era of dominance.
Anil Kumble’s style was suited to home conditions, but as a thinking man’s cricketer, he still could perform admirably in conditions not suited to him. If the conditions however got a bit ‘up and down’, his bounce and accuracy could help him go right through an opposition.
Glenn McGrath was a simple bowler. He had an ability to land 6 balls on the same spot, with his only movement being an off cutter mixed with a straight ball. Once he had honed his craft by the Windies tour of 1995, he would celebrate 12 years at the top with a simple method not overly affected by injury. He ended with 563 test wickets.
Courtney Walsh, like McGrath, would combine a great length with longevity to be the first bowler ever to break 500. He enjoyed success early in his career before being part of the decline of the once great West Indies. However he was not to be blamed. His 519 wickets were highlighted by quality right to the end.
Is Jimmy Anderson in the same class as these bowlers?
Let's look at one stat that would support the 'no' vote:
Glenn McGrath’s bowling average at home was 22.43, and away it was 21.35. Overall it was 21.64
Courtney Walsh’s bowling average at home was 23.70 and away it was 25.03. Overall it was 24.44
Jimmy Anderson’s bowling average at home is 24.29 but away it stands at 35.36. Overall it is 27.39.
Compared to the other two pacemen with 500 plus test wickets, Anderson doesn't match up on foreign soil. Thus there is an argument that he isn't in the same company as McGrath and Walsh.
Now let's look at a stat to support the 'yes' vote:
Jimmy Anderson has taken 50 or more wickets against seven different nations. In a career that has spanned 14 years he has played a lot, and achieved a lot.
He has been a superb leader in home conditions, Virat Kohli will vouch for this. 20 of his 24 test five for's have been on home soil, and all 3 ten wicket hauls have also been on his home turf.
No matter what your opinion of Jimmy Anderson, the 506 wickets he has already taken cannot be taken away from him. He stands as the 6th highest wicket taker of all time. He has proven to be a super fit fast bowler, and a super competitive one.
Is Jimmy Anderson a great fast bowler? It’s an opinion based question. He has led his team to victory in an away series vs Australia before, and if he is able to do it again, it may just further add to his already impressive legacy.