Having surpassed the wicket tally of Glenn McGrath and aware of the constant unfair comparison with Dale Steyn, England veteran fast bowler James Anderson has praised the two all time great bowlers saying that they both are “much better bowler” than him.
Anderson took over McGrath as the highest wicket-taking fast bowler to have played the game by scalping the no.564 against India at The Oval but while the former has been outstanding at home and has respectable numbers away, the latter was a force all over the world for Australia, even in the subcontinent.
It is the same with Dale Steyn, who may have not had the sustained longevity of Anderson, but he has genuine claims of being considered as the greatest fast bowler ever to have played the game through sheer proven record in all conditions.
The modest Anderson reiterated this in his column for Fox Sports and wrote, "I'll tell you something about Glenn McGrath - he was a much better bowler than me. This is not false modesty," and added, "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."
Further praising McGrath for his greatness in the years gone by, Anderson wrote, "I also loved McGrath's attitude, 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."
One thing that has stood about the admirable and exceptional James Anderson is the bettering of his overseas record as he has further played the game. There was a time he averaged close to 50 away from home, now with experienced and a better understanding of the trade, he has taken that to 35 across close to 200 wickets.
Keeping in line with this, Anderson revealed that he has learnt a lot from having watched McGrath closely on how to bowl in unfamiliar conditions.
He further wrote, "I heard him say once that he practised for when the ball didn't swing. 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." he added.
Anderson also gave an insight into how analysing the game has helped him progress and opined about the comparisons with Dale Steyn as well, by writing, "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, 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."