James Anderson will be “100% the best fast bowler ever” if he passes Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 Test wickets, ex-England captain Alec Stewart says.
Anderson, 35, became the first England bowler to reach 500 wickets when he passed the milestone at Lord’s and is 62 short of the Australian’s tally.
“He’s a great of the game,” Stewart told BBC Radio 5 live. “His longevity is remarkable.
“If he plays for another four years he will get another 130-150 wickets.”
Only five bowlers, all of whom have since retired, have taken more Test wickets than Anderson, who took his first at Lord’s on his debut in 2003.
The top three wicket-takers are all spinners, with McGrath and West Indian Courtney Walsh the only other fast bowlers to have passed 500.
“Once he goes past McGrath he is 100% the best fast bowler ever and he deserves that,” Stewart added. “Every delivery as a fast bowler you put nine times your body weight through your hip, knee and ankle.
“He looks after his body well and has a great appetite for the game. We are talking about James Anderson, a world great. He is up there with McGrath, (Curtly) Ambrose and Walsh.
“His skill levels are second to none. I was still playing when he made his debut, he looked a good player but I never thought he’d get 500 wickets.
“He is a shy lad by nature, a fierce competitor and he is getting better and better. He thinks he can play until 40.
“He will still be able to bowl over 80mph and with his skill levels he can cause problems for a few years yet. He loves learning. He has great control, can swing the ball both ways with subtle differences and he is so accurate he always asks questions of the batsman.”
Asked about his future, Anderson said: “I don’t want to put a number on how long I will play for. I feel fit and I’m bowling well. If I keep doing that who knows how long I can play for.
“I feel like a kid when I turn up here. It’s like a club atmosphere in our dressing room.”
“You play all week and then you play on a Saturday and Sunday. That special feeling is something that keeps me going and hopefully will for a few more years.
“I’m not targeting McGrath. I want to win games of cricket. That’s what drives me in life. If I can keep playing for a few more years then I might get somewhere near.”
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott told BBC Test Match Special: “He can get quite a lot more.
“The only thing I don’t know is if he can stay fit. If he can, he will get a lot more wickets.”