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Cook and Anderson Continue to Shine

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In years to come people will talk about the era of English cricket when Alistair Cook and James Anderson played in the England team together. The two men have held legendary status on these shores for a while now, but as Cook passes the 10,000 run mark and Anderson closes in on 500 wickets, there is now a consensus that the two are starting to, if they haven’t already, cement their status as all-time greats of the game.

Cook is the youngest ever batsman to reach 10,000 runs and is currently the eleventh most prolific Test batsman ever. He has more runs than Don Bradman, Matthew Hayden, Geoffrey Boycott and Sir Viv Richards. While his longevity has played a part in this, he has played more Tests than the other four batsman mentioned, it is difficult to object to Cook’s name being mentioned in such company. At the tender age of 31, he has already reached the point where he stands above all in the history of English cricket in terms of sheer rate of runs, and the day may come when he stands at the top of the pile in international cricket, as he chases down Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 15,921 runs.

As for Anderson, he is already the third most prolific seam bowler in terms of wickets. While spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble remain some way ahead of Anderson, only two seamers, the great Glen McGrath and Curtley Ambrose, currently have more Test victims than Anderson. If Anderson can stay fit, he will be confident of over-taking Ambrose, and once he does so only McGrath will stand between him and the title of the deadliest seamer of all time.

Chef and Jimmy, as they are affectionately known, will be sorely missed by the game of cricket when they retire. Of this generation, only Dale Steyn can claim to match Anderson’s skill with the ball. While watching an out and out paceman can be exciting, experiencing a bowler who can swing the ball both ways as the Lancastrian can is a sight to behold. Even the most competent of Test batsman can be made to look like a fool when the King of Swing is at his best.

With the ever increasing influence of T20 cricket, batsmen now have a wider array of shots than ever before. Reverse-sweeps, switch hits and paddle shots are all the range. And yet there is something nostalgic, almost mesmerising, about watching Cook grind out an innings, refusing to be removed from the crease, grinding the bowlers down into submission.

The current England side has a host of talents in it. Stuart Broad is already an England great, and in a few years’ time he may also be spoken of as an all-time great. Joe Root may well one day be mentioned in the same breath as the legends of the game Cook is currently associated with. Ben Stokes may be able to replicate the exploits of Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, while Jos Buttler may topple Kevin Pietersen and become England’s greatest limited overs player ever.

Players may fulfil their potential, or they may fall short. But the legends of James Anderson and Alistair Cook have already been carved in stone, and their places in the history books and in folk lore are secure. What remains to be seen is how far the two of them can go, and while both players are into their thirties, cricket fans around the world will be hoping they have plenty more years of watching them ply their trade, and entertain the masses.

Anderson Cook

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