McGrath: I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy

Australia’s Glenn McGrath has backed England’s James Anderson to become – and remain – the leading wicket-taker among Test cricket’s fast bowlers.

While spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble occupy positions one, two and three, respectively, in Test’s top wicket-takers list, McGrath is fourth with 563.

Anderson is fifth with 557 – and could surpass McGrath during this week’s fourth Test against India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

“Records are nice and I’ve been very proud to have taken more wickets than any fast bowler in Test history, but any high is there to be beaten and I will be equally proud of Jimmy when he goes past me because the fast bowlers’ union has to stick together, whichever country we come from,” McGrath told Sportsmail.

“It is only a matter of time now before he gets there and I will be getting in touch with him as soon as he does to say well done. I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy. Good luck to him. I believe once he goes past me he will never be beaten.

“I’ve always said Jimmy was class, ever since I played against him in what became my last Test series in 2006-07. I noted how he swung the ball both ways conventionally, because it’s a real art form. Not many have been able to do that. I can only really think of Wasim Akram, who is another great of the game, who could do that as skillfully.”

McGrath backed Anderson to reach 600 Test wickets – and perhaps achieve more than Kumble’s 619. Beating Warne’s 708, though, is highly unlikely. Muralitharan’s 800, too, is probably unreachable for the 36-year-old Englishman.

“So can Anderson get somewhere close to the three great spinners above me in the all-time wickets table? I reckon that once he’s knocked my tally off the next goal will be 600 wickets and that would be an incredible feat,” add McGrath.

“Then you have Anil on 619, which is feasible but I’m not sure how close Jimmy can get to Warne on 708 or Muttiah.”

The fourth Test will start on Thursday. The hosts have a two-one lead in the five-match series.