Myth Busters: James Anderson is a home track bully
James Anderson [PC: Twitter]
Does just being talented guarantee success? No, not at all.
In reality, a skilful individual needs to keep not only performing but also discovering his shortcomings and improving them to climb the ladder of success.
When a blonde-haired James Anderson was given the prestigious English Test cap, very few people, including the bowler himself, would have imagined his astounding success in the purest format.
But putting all speculations to rest for once and all, the genius rose through the ranks and evolved himself to the utmost extent to script his name in the list of the most celebrated fast bowlers in Test history.
Although he is a force to reckon with the ball at home, Anderson's overseas performances have often been a matter of debate for many. Many people undermine the swing maestro in away conditions and term him a home track bully.
But are they accurate in their views? The answer is an obvious no from my side.
Anderson's overall away numbers don't give us a clear picture
James Anderson has recorded an average of 30.61 and a strike rate of 65.81 with the ball in overseas Tests.
These moderate numbers can be misleading for a career spanning over two decades, as Anderson has gradually fine-tuned his bowling skills. But it's fair to say that's what has happened in Anderson's case, as people judge him from his overall away stats.
Since the 2012 Sri Lanka tour, Anderson has scalped 153 wickets at a healthy bowling average of 26.99 in away Tests. If we exclude Australia, the least conducive venue for a swing bowler, his average becomes 25.04. Further, his economy of a mere 2.51 suggests how he has given the batters a run for their money.
Now the question arises, why has he struck at a rate of 64.49 in this period?
There is a saying that bowlers hunt in pairs.
But unfortunately, Anderson has never ever received the desired support from his partners. While Stuart Broad has been disappointing overseas, other English bowlers have found it tough to get going in alien conditions.
So, his higher strike rate doesn't imply his ineffectiveness as a fast bowler. In fact, it indicates that the opponent batters have played him cautiously and scored against his partners at a much better rate.
A collection of Anderson's match-winning overseas performances
James Anderson has been tremendous in Asia [PC: Twitter]
"He was at the batsmen all the time, especially the second and third spells of his where the ball had started to reverse. I think the major difference between the two sides was James Anderson."
These were the statements of a dejected MS Dhoni after India's historic home series defeat to England back in 2012. Anderson showcased extraordinary control on the reversing ball, picking 12 wickets on the tour.
Since March 2012, Anderson has scalped 53 wickets at a magnificent average of 23.66 in the subcontinent, where most fast bowlers find it difficult to thrive.
Apart from being a lone warrior in UAE with 13 wickets at an average of 15.62 in 2015, the talismanic seamer paved the way for England's memorable series win against Sri Lanka through his magical six-fer in Galle last year.
Further, he had one standout South Africa tour with nine wickets at a stunning strike rate of 46.67 in 2019-20, apart from emerging as England's most lethal weapon in the Caribbean Islands, grabbing 27 wickets at an unbelievable average of 20.40 in the aforementioned period.
These facts suggest the number of times Anderson has put up impactful performances in overseas Tests in the last ten years. He has also been devoid of luck on multiple occasions, beating the bat but not getting enough reward for his relentless efforts. So, the assumption that Anderson is a home track bully is absurd, to say the least.