Anderson: Attacking, unwavering
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In the course of his 23 years as a Test cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar has been dismissed on a massive 288 occasions — 30 times more than the next most castled cricketer in Test history, Ricky Ponting. On the third day of the Nagpur Test, England's James Anderson sent Tendulkar on his way for a record ninth time in 14 encounters, and by the close – spookily enough — Anderson himself had racked up 288 Test dismissals.
The above paragraph indicates how statistics can be manipulated to prove almost any point imaginable (Devon Malcolm was a better Test batsman in India than Don Bradman — google it!) but if it's too bold a claim to say that Anderson has mastered the Little Master in the course of their six-year rivalry, he has certainly proved his equal.
In fact, Tendulkar's average in those contests against Anderson is now a lowly 30.22. Of his opponents who've extracted him on five or more occasions, only Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Allan Donald can claim a better hit-rate. That's some classy company to be keeping as Anderson reaches the pomp of his career.
As if to prove what bunk statistics actually are, Anderson's overall average of 30.35 is unworthy of the player he's become. That figure is a legacy of his bruising introduction to Test cricket when, as a 20-year-old with prodigious abilities but little understanding of his craft, he veered erratically between strike bowler and net bowler — he played just eight Tests in his first nine England tours, and it wasn't until February 2009, his sixth year of Test cricket, that he finally played three overseas Tests in a row.
His breakthrough came on the tour of New Zealand in the spring of 2008, when Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard were jettisoned as England's attack leaders. Since that trip he's collected 226 of his wickets at 27.92, and in his last three winters — in Australia, UAE, Sri Lanka and now India — he's racked up 54 at 26.29. At this rate, his average will be approaching vanishing point at some point midway through the 2114 tour of China.
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