England’s James Anderson regains top spot in Test bowling rankings aged 40

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England’s James Anderson regains top spot in Test bowling rankings aged 40

England’s most decorated fast bowler, James Anderson, has returned to the top of the ICC Men’s Test bowling rankings at the ripe old age of 40. The veteran took seven wickets in England’s barnstorming victory over New Zealand in the first Test. The swing bowler closed with figures of 4-18 in the second innings, as he fast approaches the late Shane Warne’s record of 708 Test match wickets.

Anderson’s achievement is even more impressive considering his advancing years. He is the oldest bowler to take the number-one ICC ranking since the rankings started in 1987. The oldest person to be considered the number-one Test bowler was Australian Clarrie Grimmett way back in 1936. Anderson was seemingly on the verge of being dumped out of England’s Test squad for good following a dismal performance in the team’s last Ashes series defeat. He was overlooked for the tour of the West Indies but returned to the side last summer and has never looked back.

Anderson’s Test bowling average since last summer has been supreme

In fact, in Anderson’s last nine Test games, he has taken a remarkable 42 wickets at a meagre average of 16.16 runs. In doing so, the ICC moved Anderson above Australian fast bowler, Pat Cummins, to the summit of the Test bowling rankings. Cummins was demoted from first into third place, with Indian in-form spinner Ravi Ashwin leapfrogging him.

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England fans will be hoping this is an omen ahead of this summer’s Ashes series, with Australia looking to retain the Ashes on British soil. Before that, the Aussies face the not-so-small matter of a four-Test series in India. Virat Kohli’s India side is a fearsome prospect on home ground and Kohli is the country’s most successful Test captain of all time, even if he’s missed out on landing an ICC trophy during his time in charge.

The Ashes will be the talk of the cricket betting markets this summer, with the leading operators still passionate about covering one of the world’s oldest professional sports. Although the sport continues to evolve with new formats and competitions, Test cricket still reigns supreme, especially when England and Australia lock horns. England goes into this series as slight favourites, which is no surprise given the form of Anderson and Stuart Broad with the ball. 

The pair are unrivalled in English conditions, with their ability to move the ball laterally and bring slip cordons regularly into play. They are officially the most dangerous bowling partnership in Test history, recently overtaking the 1,001 wickets taken in the same team by Australian duo, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

It’s also true that Anderson will turn 41 midway through this year’s Ashes series, which means this will almost certainly be his last. The Lancastrian has demonstrated supreme professionalism in maintaining his physical shape and his technical form, with many pundits arguing his pace and swing is as dangerous now as it was five or six years ago.

England’s third-choice fast bowler also marches up the ICC Test rankings

29-year-old fast bowler Ollie Robinson is the one bidding to take the baton from Anderson and Broad when their time comes to retire. The Kent-based cricketer has been in and around the England Test fold since 2020. Form and fitness proved to be a big issue for Robinson, whose physical shape was called into question by many cricket pundits and analysts. However, he said last summer that he had become something of a “gym freak” in a bid to cement himself in the Test side.

It appears to have paid dividends, with Robinson making a move into fourth place in the ICC Test bowling rankings, behind Pat Cummins. Robinson is the latest bowler to move into the 800 ranking-point regions, with 820 points to his name, 46 behind Anderson.

During the recent first Test in New Zealand, Robinson took 4-54 against the Kiwis, with his Test bowling average inching beneath 20, which is a hallmark of his consistency and danger. Robinson was quizzed on Anderson’s ‘Indian summer’ and called it a “privilege” to be in the same field as him and Broad.

Looking at the ICC Test batting rankings, there is only one Englishman in the top ten, with former skipper Joe Root currently ranked at number five. Meanwhile, current England captain Ben Stokes finds himself in fourth in the ICC Test all-rounder rankings, with Root also in tenth on this ladder due to the increased use of his part-time off-spin.

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