Incredible Anderson reaches historic 600 wicket milestone

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Cricket – Third Test – England v Pakistan – Ageas Bowl, Southampton, Britain – August 25, 2020 England’s James Anderson celebrates the wicket of Pakistan’s Azhar Ali and his 600th wicket, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Alastair Grant/Pool via REUTERS

SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – England’s James Anderson became the first seam bowler to reach 600 test wickets, reaching the milestone in a gloomy last session of a rain-hit final day of the third test against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday.

Anderson had Pakistan captain Azhar Ali caught at slip by Joe Root with a ball that zipped off the pitch with a little more bounce to catch the edge and leave the tourists on 109 for three in a game that seems destined for a draw.

It had been an agonising wait for Anderson, marooned on 599 wickets after his teammates dropped four catches in 37 balls off his bowling in the innings, and with rain pouring down overnight and into the final morning.

Anderson’s first test victim was Zimbabwe batsman Mark Vermeulen at Lords in May 2003 as he picked up 5-73 on debut, and it took him 156 matches to reach 600.

Only three bowlers, all spinners, have taken more wickets in tests — Muttiah Muralitharan (800 in 133 matches), Shane Warne (708 in 145) and Anil Kumble (619 in 132).

Anderson became England’s highest test wicket taker in his 100th match, claiming his 384th victim against the West Indies in 2015 to beat the record held by Ian Botham.

There had been suggestions from some quarters that the 38-year-old should retire ahead of this match after a below-par series to date, but he responded with 5-56 in Pakistan’s first innings in an excellent display of swing bowling.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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