Retired England pacer Steve Harmison has hailed James Anderson as one of the greatest pacers of all time.
Harmison, who took 226 wickets for England in 63 tests, was full of praise for James Anderson and Stuart Broad as England’s opening pair took 9 for 37 between them as Sri Lanka were bowled out for just 91.
Anderson claimed the 19th five-wicket haul of his career and went past Kapil Dev into sixth-place in the all-time leading Test wicket takers. Among fast bowlers, only Courtney Walsh (519) and Glenn McGrath (563) lie ahead of him. On this form, with a maximum of 13 innings still to come this summer, he could yet move to within striking distance of the top guns before the season is done.
“James Anderson has to be talked about as one of the greats of our game,” said Harmison.
“McGrath finished when he was 36, Walsh when he was 38, so of course Anderson at only 33 can keep going and pass both of them.
“They are two of the best fast bowlers of all time, so people have got to be looking now and saying that Anderson is in that same league.
Anderson came into this match averaging 41.36 from seven Tests at Headingley. He had never taken more than three wickets in an innings. Harmison said that the duo of Anderson and Broad is the best England ever had.
“People say Jimmy has struggled to bowl in the past at Headingley, but he was awesome today, as was Stuart Broad.
“Those two as a combination together are fantastic. For me, they are the best duo that England have ever had, they’ve got to be talked about as one of the top combinations of all time.
“Today they got the ball to consistently land on the same length, knowing what the conditions demanded at Headingley.
Harmison said that he was not suprised by Sri Lanka’s batting performance as he was expecting them to struggle because of young and inexperienced players.
“Was I surprised what happened to Sri Lanka today? No. The Test match has gone the way I thought it would.
“It’s tough on the Sri Lankans, as there are some young, inexperienced lads in there, and you could have put the most experienced batting line-up in the world out there against those two in those conditions, and they would have struggled.
“It’s similar for England on the sub-continent – if they are presented with a raging turner in India this winter with three high quality spinners, it will be similarly tough.
Harmison has said that England has started the summer brilliantly and they can carry on the momentum in the coming series against Pakistan.
“It’s a great way to start the Test summer, and hopefully by the end of this Test, they will have set a benchmark that they can try to look to better in the two games left in the series, and against Pakistan later in the summer.”