It may have been a frustrating day for Alastair Cook’s men, as they failed to take the eight wickets required to win the first Test against the West Indies. But it was a history-making day for James Anderson, as he became the country’s all-time leading wicket taker in the longest form of the game.
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The 32-year-old went into his 100th Test knowing that he needed just four wickets to overtake Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383 victims. The first innings dismissals of opener Devon Smith and tail-ender Sulieman Benn halved the target going into the second innings. With around four sessions to bat, and the hosts needing a mammoth 438 runs to win, it seemed to be a matter of time before Anderson set the new benchmark.
He would account for the wicket of Marlon Samuels early on day five – and seemingly put England in a position from which they were heavy favourites to win – before dismissing the Windies captain Dinesh Ramdin, who had offered some gritty resistance as the tourists smelt blood.
The wicket-keeper had made a half-century – and perhaps more importantly had taken up nearly 150 deliveries – before Anderson bowled a delivery synonymous with his career. He rolled his fingers across the seam, and put the ball right in the corridor of uncertainty, forcing Ramdin to throw his bat out. The ball caught the edge and flew to first slip, where Cook was waiting to seal the incredible moment. Botham – who was commentating on the game – was one of the first to congratulate the Lancashire bowler on his achievement.
Sadly for England, it would be the last wicket they would take in the match, as Kemar Roach and Jason Holder batted resolutely to snatch a draw. Holder especially performed wonderfully well under extreme pressure, and brought up his first Test century in the dying moments of the game.
It was the last act of note before Cook approached the two batsmen to concede that on the day, England – barring Anderson perhaps – were not good enough to take the lead in three-match series.