James Anderson’s longevity is unparalleled and there is a case to be made that he’s getting better with age
James Anderson took four of the five remaining New Zealand second-innings wickets at Mount Maunganui to seal England’s 10th win in 11 Tests under the the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
It was Anderson’s long-time bowling partner Stuart Broad who hogged the headlines on day three taking four wickets under lights to derail the New Zealand run chase but Anderson took centre stage on the final day.
Anderson took 4-18 in the second innings to go with his first-innings effort of 3-36 in his latest set of vital contributions in the Stokes-McCullum era.
Since he was recalled following the 2022 tour of the Caribbean, Anderson has averaged 16.16 with the ball in Test cricket. As he approaches his 41st birthday, he is as effective as ever.
Anderson has thrived under Stokes’ captaincy, bowling slightly fewer overs per innings (16.41) than he did under Stokes’ predecessor Joe Root (18.48), but averaging fewer runs per wicket under Stokes than he has under any of the eight England captains he has played under. His third wicket of the second innings, of Neil Wagner, took Anderson’s career average below 26 for the first time since his second Test match back in the 2003 summer.
Anderson’s second wicket of the morning – the lbw of Scott Kuggeleijn – was his 200th since his 35th birthday. Only Rangana Herath has more Test wickets after turning 35, but Herath was a spinner, and it is more common for spinners to play in their late thirties than it is for pacer
Since turning 35, Anderson averages just 20.56 in Test cricket, averaging under 27 in all eight countries he has played in.
Since his 37th birthday, Anderson has taken 107 wickets at 20.58. The only bowlers above him in that list are Herath, Clarrie Grimmett (an Australian interwar spinner) and SF Barnes, whose Test career came to an abrupt halt due to the first World War. Anderson is one of just two seamers – the other being Barnes – to take more 25 or more Test wickets after turning 40. Anderson’s longevity is practically unique and there is a statistical case to be made that he is getting better with age.