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"Zaheer Khan is someone I used to watch, try to learn from": James Anderson

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Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) | February 29, 2024 12:25:08 AM IST
Legendary Indian pacer James Anderson admitted on Wednesday that former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan's bowling inspired him and he keenly observed how he would utilise reverse swing and cover the ball while bowling.

The fifth and final Test between India and England will take place from March 7 onwards at Dharamshala. The series is in the hands of India with 3-1. Anderson has been impressive in his three matches played so far, taking eight wickets at an average of 34.37, with the best bowling figures of 3/47. He is also just two wickets away from 700 Test wickets and could become the first pacer to do so in Dharamshala. The top two spots are occupied by spin greats Muttiah Muralitharan and late Shane Warne with 800 and 708 scalps successfully.

At 41, there's no stopping England pace-bowling legend James Anderson. The master of swing bowling spoke exclusively to JioCinema before the third Test in Rajkot.

Talking about India's pace battery's evolution over the last few years, Anderson said that there are very few bowlers better than Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. He also talked about Zaheer's influence on his bowling.

"There are not many better bowlers than Bumrah, Shami and Siraj. They are world-class bowlers. You put Ishant Sharma in there as well, and that's a really strong bowling attack. For me, Zaheer Khan was someone I used to watch a lot to try and learn from. How he used the reverse swing, how he covered the ball when he ran into bowl, that is something I tried to sort of develop on the back of playing against him quite a few times here," said Anderson.

Zaheer has picked up 311 Test wickets in 92 matches and overall 610 scalps in 309 international matches across all formats. He is considered as one of the greatest left-arm pacers ever produced in world cricket.

Discussing his 22-year-long international career and longevity, Anderson said that he still feels he is young and does not feel his age. He also said that he can keep up with all younger players during the training and bowl at speeds he wants to.

"Yeah, I guess you do look at things like that, but to be honest, I just go with the feel of me and my body. I do not feel like I am 41 years and 200 days old. You know, I still feel young. I can keep up with the young guys in training. I can still bowl the speeds that I want to, I can still deliver the skills that I want to. So, for me, that is the most important thing. The age is just a number and it's pretty irrelevant from my thought process," said Anderson.

The veteran pacer opines that the art of swinging the ball is not dying but rather due to the growth of white-ball cricket, the focus has shifted to changing pace and delivering variations.

"But for me, in Test cricket, we have seen throughout this series already that swing can play a big part. The way Bumrah's bowled, I think, has been amazing to watch. That reverse swing spell in the second Test was one of the best you will see. So for me, I think there is still people out there wanting to learn the skills and it is not easy to do," he added.

Talking about passing on his wisdom of playing in Indian conditions, the 41-year-old said, "Well, I think it is really important as a senior player that you offer as much advice as possible, especially coming to a place where there is quite a few guys in our team, that have not necessarily played that much out here. So, I think it is important that you do offer advice but at the same time not try to force yourself on them."

In 16 games in India, Anderson has taken 42 wickets at an average of 30.28, with the best bowling figures of 6/79.

"I think it is important that they have got to be asking questions as well, they have got to try and find their own way because it is different for each player. I cannot say to an Ollie Robinson or a Gus Atkinson that this is how you should bowl here. They are very different bowlers to me so they have got to find what works for them and if I can offer any advice to help them along the way then great," he added.

Talking about Jasprit Bumrah's performance in the second Test, during which he took nine wickets including a six-wicket haul, Anderson said that Bumrah is a great exponent of reverse swing.

"With someone of his quality, you expect that standard from him. You know that reverse swing can play a big part in India and he's a great exponent of it. He has got good pace and is very accurate, very consistent. That yorker we saw to Ollie Pope, he has got that up his sleeve as well. It is not a fluke that he has got to number one in the world. He is a world-class bowler and from our point of view we were not surprised that he put up a performance like that," said the veteran.

Despite missing a Test, Bumrah is the second-highest wicket-taker in the series with 17 scalps in three games at an average of 13.64 and best figures of 6/45. He is not too far away from young spinner Tom Hartley, who with 20 wickets in four matches including a seven-wicket haul, has been sensational for England.

Talking about missing battles with Virat Kohli, India's star batter who missed the series due to the birth of his second child, Anderson quipped that England fans are thankful he is not playing.

"Yeah, you always want to play against the best players. And it is been a shame that he is not been a part of the series. We have had some great battles over the years. But not just for me, I think as a team you want to play against the best in the world and he certainly is that," said Anderson.

"I guess English fans will be thankful he is not playing because he is such a quality player. But from our point of view, you want to test yourself, you want to come up against the best and he is been someone who I have found really challenging to bowl at over the years and it is a shame he is not been playing," he added.

Talking about memories of touring in India, Anderson said that the biggest memory continues to be the series win in 2012, England's first in India after 28 years.

"The 2012 series, when we came here, is probably the biggest one. I do not think an English team had won for quite a long time here -- for 20 odd years. So, for us to win here, it was probably one of the best series wins that I have been involved in, in my career. You know, it was just a great team performance. The batters turned up when we needed them. We had good spinners as well on that trip, which helped. So, I think that for me is right up there," he concluded.

In that 2-1 series win over India, Anderson was impressive, taking 12 wickets in four matches at an average of 30.25, with the best figures of 4/81. (ANI)

 
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