James Anderson has overhauled Australia’s captain Pat Cummins to become the No.1 Test bowler in the ICC rankings, off the back of his role in England’s 267-run win against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui last week.
At the age of 40 years and 207 days, Anderson is also the oldest player to top the rankings since Clarrie Grimmett, the Australian legspinner, in 1936, having played an integral part in the recent success of England’s Test team, which has now won ten of its past 11 matches.
It is the sixth time that Anderson has gone to the top of the rankings in a career that began against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in May 2003, and has now spanned 178 Test appearances and 682 wickets, placing him third on the all-time list behind the spin duo of Muthiah Muralidaran (800) and Shane Warne (708).
In May 2016, Anderson went past his long-time team-mate Stuart Broad, as well as India’s R Ashwin, to top the rankings for the first time, and most recently he held the top spot for five months in 2018 before being displaced by South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.
It has the potential to be a short return to the top, however. With a total of 866 ranking points, Anderson is just two points ahead of Ashwin in second place, who also delivered a strong showing in India’s most recent Test win over Australia in Delhi last week. Cummins is now third on 858, but could himself regain top billing with two Tests to come against India in the next fortnight, despite flying home this week to address a health issue in the family.
Nevertheless, the achievement is further proof of Anderson’s remarkable longevity. In the course of his seven wickets at Mount Maunganui, he brought his overall Test average down below 26 for the first time since his maiden series in 2003, but the sense that he is improving with age is backed up by his form in the last five years of his career.
Since turning 35 in July 2017, Anderson has now taken 202 wickets in 56 subsequent games, at an average of 20.56. At Mount Maunganui, he and Broad also overhauled the Test record for most wickets taken as a bowling partnership, which previously stood at 1001 between Australia’s Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
“They’re the GOATs, aren’t they? I can’t see that record being broken for a very long time,” Ben Stokes, England’s captain, said after the first Test win. “Warne and McGrath were an unbelievable combination, but I think the way in which Test cricket is going now with everything else to players, I can’t see that record being broken any time soon. I can’t ever see it being broken.”
Elsewhere in the rankings, New Zealand’s pairing Tom Blundell (11th) and Devon Conway (17th) have risen to career-high positions, as have England’s trio of Ollie Pope (23rd), Harry Brook (31st) and Ben Duckett (38th).
India’s players also received a boost following their emphatic victory over Australia, with Ravindra Jadeja moving up seven places to ninth following his seven-wicket haul in the second innings, and Axar Patel – who is the second leading run-scorer for the series so far with 158 runs – moving up two places to fifth on the latest Test all-rounder rankings.
In the T20I bowling rankings, Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga has leapfrogged Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan to the top, as a consequence of Rashid taking only four wickets in three matches against UAE last week.