James Anderson returned to the top of the ICC Test bowling rankings on Wednesday at the age of 40, becoming the oldest number one since Australian leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett in 1936.
His match figures of seven for 54 in England’s 267-run win over New Zealand last week proved enough to overhaul Australia’s Pat Cummins, who had held top spot since February 2019.
Anderson has now topped the rankings on six separate occasions, all of which have come within the past seven years.
Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at his enduring excellence.
Improving with age
Anderson’s seven-wicket haul in the first Test against New Zealand took his tally since turning 35 to 202 from 56 matches.
Only Sri Lankan off spinner Rangana Herath has claimed more Test scalps beyond the age of 35 (233), with Courtney Walsh the nearest challenger among fast bowlers (180).
Anderson’s average over that period is a remarkable 20.56, compared with 28.20 beforehand, while his economy rate has dropped from 2.96 to a miserly 2.34.
His figures are even more impressive since celebrating his 40th birthday last July during England’s resurgence under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, albeit over a small sample.
In six Tests – three against South Africa, two in Pakistan and one in New Zealand – Anderson has 25 dismissals at an average of 14.72.
Grimmett holds the record for most wickets in his 40s, with 96.
Honing his craft
"WHAT AN ABSOLUTE JAFFA!" 💥
Jimmy Anderson, that is outstanding 👏 pic.twitter.com/o8WXppyCal
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) December 11, 2022
Anderson has become England’s go-to bowler away from home, dispelling the notion from early in his career that he is only effective in seaming and swinging conditions.
His figures have improved both in England and abroad since turning 35, but the latter upgrade has been far more marked.
In home Tests, Anderson’s wickets have cost 19.93 runs apiece beyond the age of 35 compared with 25.29 beforehand.
Meanwhile, in away games his average has fallen substantially from 33.46 before 35 to 21.51 afterwards.
The 40-year-old has expanded his arsenal such that he has increasingly produced match-winning performances on pitches unconducive for seam bowling.
Anderson has claimed four five-wicket hauls in 42 overseas innings since his 35th birthday, which is as many as he managed in 97 innings prior.