Cricket is famous for its batting partnerships.
Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes come to mind, as do Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden.
Why England's James Anderson and Stuart Broad are the greatest …
Anderson or Andersson may refer to:
But you know what they say: it’s the bowlers that win you the game.
In the history of men’s Test cricket, no fast-bowling combination has come anywhere near the partnership of two unassuming chaps from England, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Why England's James Anderson and Stuart Broad are the greatest …
He got his 501st for good measure and was named Player of the Match for picking up 10 wickets and also Player of the Series. He’s become just the fourth fast bowler to pass 500 Test wickets.
If cricket is famous for its partnerships, it’s also famous for its statistics, so here goes:
Anderson and Broad have played 117 Tests together over 13 years beginning in 2008. In those matches, Anderson has taken 473 wickets to Broad’s 422, a total of 895 wickets in matches together.
The closest fast-bowling combination in terms of Test dismissals is the two West Indian giants, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, who played 95 Tests together, taking 389 and 373 wickets respectively in those matches.
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Pakistan’s finest, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, played together for 14 years and yet managed just 61 Tests together, taking 282 and 277 wickets apiece.
Is there an asterisk here?
Yes, it’s Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, the greatest bowling combination of all time. In 104 matches together, they took an insane 1,014 wickets between them.
But Warne was a spinner — albeit the greatest of all time — and yes, his shoulders and fingers took a beating, but not like those of a fast bowler.
Longevity and health are an inevitable product of being at the top of any cricket list and here Anderson and Broad excel.
Anderson is the most successful fast bowler of all time with 589 wickets, behind the three great spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Warne and Anil Kumble.
Broad is in seventh spot overall with 501.
Just McGrath and Walsh sit between him and Anderson, with every sign suggesting he could catch and pass them to join his English teammate as the two greatest fast-bowling wicket-takers.
After all, they want to keep playing at least until the 2021/22 Ashes series in Australia, by which time Anderson will be 39 and Broad 35.
Langer, who now coaches Australia, said that if that does happen “we will certainly be on our guard”.
“We were fortunate, and I say this with great respect, that James Anderson didn’t play the last Test series [a 2-2 draw in 2019] against us in England,” he said.
Anderson bowled just four overs in the first Test before injuring his calf, which forced him to miss the rest of the Ashes and possibly cost England the series.
Anderson, Broad ‘know how to get wickets’
Individually, they’re elite; together, they’re the greatest fast-bowling partnership of all time.
“We love bowling together in Test matches as well, we have a really good understanding and we bowl well when the other guy bowling is at the other end, we seem to know what each other is trying to do,” said Anderson after Broad took six wickets in the first innings.
No-one knows that better than Australia opening batsman David Warner, who has faced them at their best.
“In English conditions, they just know how to get wickets,” Warner said.
“In a partnership when they bowl, they don’t leak runs. And they bowl a length in England, where if you go to drive that length you’re probably going to nick.
“They’re still hitting the stumps, so you can’t really leave it.”
Warner said the two were brilliant exponents of the art of swing and seam bowling.
“They’re both not express pace and to take 900 wickets between them as a pair when playing together is exceptional,” he said.
“When you’re up against them you’ve always got to try to think of ways to rotate strike. Otherwise, if you give them too many overs at you, they’re going to get you out.”
Neither Broad nor Anderson fit the mould of the fire-and-brimstone fast bowler. Both are well-loved by their teammates.
Broad, blonde-haired with a charming smile, the son of a respected Test-playing father and international referee. He would charm your mother and pour the tea.
Anderson is the quiet northerner, who just goes about his business taking wickets.
But don’t let looks deceive. Langer said they were capable of snarling with the best of them.
“There’s not a great bowler who hasn’t got that incredible resilience and that competitive instinct,” Langer said.
Take the time in the 2013/14 Ashes series, when the Australians decided to target Anderson with Mitchell Johnson, then in his prime as a fearsome fast bowler.
Anderson took on the Australians, telling George Bailey he was the Australian he’d most like to punch, only for then-captain Michael Clarke to tell Anderson: “Get ready for a broken f***en arm.”
Langer, of all people, should know not to rile Anderson as he did when a private letter he wrote to the then-Australian coach, Tim Nielsen, was leaked during the 2009 Ashes series.
“I wrote the words that James Anderson is a bit of a pussy. And wow, what a mistake,” Langer said.
“Tim printed it out and gave it to a few of the players who left it in the change room in Cardiff and one of the journos picked it up. You can imagine the English media going for an Australian who calls one of their favourite sons a pussy.
“He hasn’t spoken to me since I don’t think, and that was about 15 years ago.”
Quicks don’t need any extra motivation
The moral of the story is don’t get them fired up.
Warner laughed and shook his head at the notion that England would drop one of their greatest.
“It’s not by fluke he’s had success the last 18 months,” Warner said.
“He’s worked really hard to get to where he is and credit to him, and hopefully I do get another crack against him.”
After stunning West Indies with 6-31 in the first innings of the third Test, Broad dismissed any thought that he and his mate Anderson would retire.
“I don’t ever walk on the field with him and wonder if this is the last time we’ll play together because both of us have a burning desire to keep going,” Broad said.
“I certainly get the feeling when one of us goes, each other will be one of the first people to know. But there’s been no talk of that.
“Jimmy’s record is getting better and better, as is mine.”
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Retired England captain Andrew Strauss said he did not believe Broad had “bowled much better than this”.
And of the partnership with Anderson, Strauss said: “We write them off at our peril.
“So, let’s not be in a hurry to pension them off, because they have both got a lot more to offer England.”
If there is a criticism of the two, it’s that they’re brilliant in English conditions but less so in Australia.
They’ve played 12 Tests together in Australia, with Anderson taking 39 wickets at an average of 34 and Broad 34 at an average of 37.
Those figures aren’t terrible, but by no means are they terrifying.
But Langer is having none of it.
“I wouldn’t say they’re less of a threat,” Langer said.
“They’re both great bowlers for a reason, the great bowlers get wickets all around the world.”