James Anderson is English cricket’s “GOAT” (greatest of all time), according to team-mate Dom Bess.
Anderson, 38, completed a five-wicket haul in the third Test against Pakistan to move within two of becoming the first paceman to claim 600 victims.
“He’s England’s greatest,” said off-spinner Bess.
“It’s phenomenal to stand at point and watch him nick people off, hit people on the shins and take as many poles as he does, so consistently.”
Only three other bowlers have taken more than 600 Test wickets – spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.
Anderson will have the chance to join them on Monday’s fourth day when Pakistan follow on after being bowled out for 273 in reply to England’s 583-8 declared.
It comes after a difficult start to the series for the Lancashire man. Following a return of 1-97 in the first Test, he dismissed talk of retirement, saying he was still “hungry” to play for England.
“There was chat about a potential retirement, then he comes back and absolutely tears it up,” said Bess, who is playing in his 10th Test. “It just shows how good he is.”
The 23-year-old, who was aged five when Anderson made his Test debut in May 2003, added: “Myself, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope have grown up watching him do it.”
Anderson, in his 156th Test, would have possibly reached or been closer to the milestone had England not dropped three catches in 10 deliveries off his bowling as the light faded late in the day.
“He’s very frustrated,” said Bess. “No-one means to drop a catch. It’s no excuse, but it was really dark out there.”
In the previous Test – a draw that was heavily affected by the weather – there was debate over how much play was lost to bad light.
In response, regulations were changed to allow play to start 30 minutes earlier if time had been lost to the weather on a previous day.
However, with rain again interrupting Sunday’s action, play would have continued until 19:30 BST had it not been deemed too dark shortly after 19:00.
“Playing in those conditions, we have to think a little about the players’ well-being,” said Somerset’s Bess. “Their numbers 10 and 11 facing Jofra Archer in those conditions is seriously dangerous.
“We all want to get cricket on, but there has to be a little more common sense in terms of when it is too dark.”
The light meant England did not have the opportunity to bowl at Pakistan at the beginning of the tourists’ second innings, which will now commence on Monday morning.
There is poor weather forecast for Tuesday, so that may put extra pressure on England to wrap up victory inside four days.
“We’re in a great position,” said Bess. “We’ve got two days to bowl them out.
“There’s a little bit of weather about, but you’d like to think with the bowling attack we have, we can produce the goods.”