Top 5 Test Bowling Spells By James Anderson

James Anderson has bagged 700 Test wickets (Twitter)James Anderson has bagged 700 Test wickets (Twitter)

England stalwart, James Anderson reached a historic milestone during the fifth and final Test against India at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala as he captured his 700th Test wicket, a feat as enormous as the surrounding Himalayas. 

This magnificent achievement vaults him into an elite bowler’s club, positioning him as the first pacer and only the third bowler ever to reach the milestone in the game’s most challenging format. He now rubs shoulders with the legendary spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne in this exclusive list of bowling stalwarts.

Despite being a pacer, Anderson's longevity is nothing short of remarkable. Since making his Test debut in May 2003, he has donned the English cap in 187 Tests, claiming 700 scalps with 32 fifers and three ten-wicket hauls.

As Anderson toasts to his 700-wicket milestone in Tests, we at OneCricket, take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the top 5 Test bowling spells that have defined James Anderson's storied career.

5. 7/42 vs West Indies, Lord's, September 2017

James Anderson registered his best Test figures against West Indies (Twitter)James Anderson registered his best Test figures against West Indies (Twitter)

In a match teeming with expectation, Anderson was on the cusp of a massive milestone, eyeing his 500th Test wicket. The scene was set for a crucial performance, and Anderson did not disappoint. After a relatively quiet first innings where he took only two wickets, the stage was perfectly set for the second innings drama. With a wonderful display of swing bowling, Anderson dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite to join the 500-wicket club. 

He then proceeded to dismantle the West Indies batting lineup with a mesmerizing spell, claiming 7 wickets for just 42 runs as he displayed his exceptional ability to move the ball both ways and leaving the batsmen in a web of confusion. This spell not only secured England a win but also cemented Anderson's legacy as one of the game's greats.

4. 7/43 vs New Zealand, Nottingham, June 2008

James Anderson decimated the Kiwi batting line-up in Nottingham (Twitter)James Anderson decimated the Kiwi batting line-up in Nottingham (Twitter)

Facing New Zealand in Nottingham, Anderson was yet to unleash his full potential on the international stage. With only 80 wickets from his first 24 Tests, critics and fans alike were waiting for a performance that would silence the doubters. Anderson delivered just that, in a sensational exhibition of swing and seam bowling. He systematically took apart the New Zealand top order with a lethal combination of pace and movement. 

Dismissing seven of the top batsmen, including two bowled and two LBW, Anderson's 7/43 decimated New Zealand for 123. The Kiwis were asked to follow on, but they bundled out for 232, granting England a win by an innings and nine runs. This brilliant performance marked Anderson’s arrival as a force to be reckoned with in world cricket.

3. 6/17 vs Pakistan, Nottingham, July 2010

James Anderson bagged 6/17 vs Pakistan (YouTube)James Anderson bagged 6/17 vs Pakistan (YouTube)

Against Pakistan at Nottingham, Anderson's brilliance was on full display. After England set a first-innings total of 354, thanks in part to Morgan and Collingwood's batting heroics, Anderson took the ball and delivered a masterclass in swing bowling. He exploited the conditions and the Pakistani batsmen's vulnerabilities to perfection, claiming the top three batsmen early on followed by two wickets in the end to pick a fifer as Pakistan was bowled out for 182. 

England then scored 262/9 before declaring. Anderson’s relentless pressure and skillful manipulation of the ball saw him achieve a stunning second innings figure of 6/17, dismantling Pakistan for just 80 as the hosts won the game by a whopping 354 runs.

2. 6/40 vs Sri Lanka, January 2021

James Anderson's 6/40 are his best figures in an overseas Test innings (Twitter)James Anderson's 6/40 are his best figures in an overseas Test innings (Twitter)

In conditions at the Galle International Stadium where spinners are usually the protagonists, Anderson's spell of 6 wickets for 40 runs showed why he is rated so highly. Remarkably, five of his six wickets were from the top six Sri Lankan batsmen which showed his effectiveness against the backbone of the batting lineup. Despite the pitch's initial batting-friendly appearance, Anderson's spell ensured Sri Lanka was restricted to 381—a total that, while competitive, could have been much bigger given the conditions. 

England, in their first innings, faced the challenge head-on and managed to score 344, slightly trailing Sri Lanka's total. Dom Bess and Jack Leach, England's spin duo, capitalized on the deteriorating pitch, each taking four wickets to dismiss Sri Lanka for a paltry 126 in their second innings.

1. 6/42 vs West Indies, May 2015

James Anderson grabbed 6/42 vs WI  (YouTube)James Anderson grabbed 6/42 vs WI  (YouTube)

In the heat of Bridgetown, Anderson delivered a spell that was both sublime and destructive. With England having posted a modest first innings total of 257, the pressure was on their bowlers to perform. Anderson rose to the occasion, using his experience and skill to devastating effect. He removed both openers early, setting the tone for what was to come. 

Even as Jermaine Blackwood threatened to stabilize the innings for West Indies, Anderson had other plans, sending him back to the pavilion and continuing to terrorize the lower order as West Indies bowled out for 189. Finishing with 6/42, Anderson’s efforts were a masterclass in exploiting conditions and showcasing his ability to lead the attack, even in unfriendly terrains.