Where other bowlers have seen careers ruined by injury and off-field issues, Anderson is still going strong in his 162nd Test
“What’s the secret?” Nasser Hussain asked Jimmy Anderson before the start of this Test. “A lot of it is luck,” Anderson told him. “I’ve been born with a body that can cope with the pressures of bowling.” The rest, he said, was “hunger”, the appetite to work at getting better every day for the past 6,596 days, since he made his Test debut in May 2003. In that time he’s played 162 games, which puts him top of the list, one ahead of his great mate Alastair Cook. Luck and hunger. It’s a short reply to a question that, judging by the long list of fast bowlers England have picked in Test cricket in the past 17 years, has a lot of answers.
That first summer, 2003, England also gave a debut to Richard Johnson, who took 16 wickets in three Tests before his career was ruined by a persistent knee injury. And another to James Kirtley, who won man of the match in his first game, before he was forced to remodel his action after he was accused of chucking. And Kabir Ali, who was reckoned to be one of the brighter prospects in county cricket. He got to play one solitary Test at Headingley and took five wickets in it, too, but was dropped because of what Wisden described “as mutterings about his girth” and his parallel career as a male model.