Sometimes one has to just marvel at James Anderson. Fifteen years after making his Test debut and at the age of 36 he is bowling as well as ever. He still has the sting, swing and subtlety to trouble the best of batsmen bowling in the corridor of uncertainty, very much like the man he has just overtaken as the most successful fast bowler in history, Glenn McGrath. It must be immediately said that the Australian is the greater bowler - something which even the Englishman has readily acknowledged - but comparisons aside Anderson on his own is an outstanding exponent of swing bowling one of the best there has ever been. During his long and eventful career he has been the epitome of the seam bowler which is the cornerstone of any England attack.

It is a tribute to Anderson’s fitness, skill and staying power that he has lasted for so long even as other seam and swing bowlers have come and gone. He has been the undoubted spearhead for over a decade and has struck up a particularly durable and very successful partnership with Stuart Broad. The two have taken 997 wickets between them in Test cricket and are England’s best pace bowling duo since Ian Botham and Bob Willis in the late seventies and early eighties. There have been others since – notably Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick and Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison – but the feats and the longevity of the Anderson – Broad partnership places them on a higher pedestal.

Anderson has scripted many triumphant moments, the latest being the 4-1 win over India in which he played a stellar role picking up 24 wickets at just over 18 apiece. He has starred in four Ashes victories in 2009, 2010-11, 2013 and 2015. Indeed his overall figures are quite remarkable. A tally of virtually four wickets a Test, an average just below 27, an economy rate of 2.88 and a strike rate of 55.8 after playing as many as 143 Tests and sending down 31,500 balls all belong to the mind blowing and eye rubbing category. He is certainly bowling’s marathon man having sent down more deliveries than anyone else in Test cricket other than the three spinners ahead of him in the wicket taking act.

A lot has been made of Anderson being able to take wickets only in English conditions and the general criticism is that he is not successful elsewhere. Actually the figures say something else even if he is certainly more successful in England than in other countries. But that doesn’t mean that the stats have not been favourable. He still has taken 196 wickets in 60 Tests abroad at just under 34 apiece. As for the criticism vis-a-vis his home and away record for most bowlers there is a significant difference between the two figures.

In English conditions Anderson is the absolute master with 368 wickets from 83 Tests at an average of just under 24. The manner in which he just keeps coming at the batsmen, giving him no respite at all with swing and seam bowling of the highest quality is something to be enjoyed on the spot. Add to this the impeccable line and length and the judicious use of the bouncer and the yorker and you have the picture of a master at work on a craft he has perfected. He is the epitome of the reliable old warhorse who can be depended upon to bowl long spells, break a troublesome partnership or strike both at the top of the order or wipe out the tail. Captains from Nasser Hussain to Joe Root have trust the ball in his hands with the full knowledge that Anderson will not let them down.

Anderson had a flying start to his career with figures of five for 73 in the first innings against Zimbabwe in 2003 and has never looked back. In fact he has just kept going on and on and even at an age when most fast bowlers hang up their boots Anderson is not talking of retirement.

So can England’s champion bowler get to 600 wickets obviously his next target? Why not particularly given the manner in which he bowled in the just concluded Test series. Like good wine, he is getting better with age and virtually nothing seems beyond him. One thing is clear: When he retires he will leave a legacy of records that should be beyond the reach of any England bowler in future.