Who is England’s heir to James Anderson’s throne?

James Anderson has been a pillar of the England Test side since his introduction over 20 years ago, but how much more does he have to give at the top level?

Anderson took his 700th Test wicket in the early hours of Saturday morning, as Kuldeep Yadav nicked behind to Ben Foakes, and at the age of 41, he is yet to show any real signs of slowing down.

Praise has been flying the way of the Burnley-born man as he further cemented his place as England’s greatest ever bowler.

Legend: Former India batsman and captain was full of praise for Anderson as he reached 700 Test wickets.

Anderson became the first seam bowler to reach the 700-wicket landmark, well clear of his closest rival and partner in crime Stuart Broad, who retired after last year’s Ashes series on 604 Test wickets.

Top 10 Test wicket-takers of all time (Seam bowlers in bold)

  1. Muthiah Muralidaran – Sri Lanka – 800 Test wickets
  2. Shane Warne – Australia – 708 Test wickets
  3. James Anderson – England – 700 Test wickets
  4. Anil Kumble – India – 619 Test wickets
  5. Stuart Broad – England – 604 Test wickets
  6. Glenn McGrath – Australia – 563 Test wickets
  7. Nathan Lyon – Australia – 530 Test wickets
  8. Courtney Walsh – West Indies – 519 Test wickets
  9. Ravichandran Ashwin – India – 516 Test wickets
  10. Dale Steyn – South Africa – 439 Test wickets

However, many will think the time is coming for England to start looking for an heir to the throne, so who are the leading candidates?

Mark Wood

Mark Wood playing for Durham against Middlesex in 2016 Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons taken by: Ytfc23

Perhaps the best equipped candidate in the short-term replacement could be Mark Wood.

The express paceman has often been one of England’s most dangerous men in the attack, and this was never more prevalent than in last summer’s Ashes series.

Australia’s top order were unable to cope when Wood came into the side for the third Test at Headingley, as the Northumberland man recorded the fastest over since Sky Sports records began averaging 93.41mph.

The display inspired England to their first Test win of the series, clawing it back to 2-1; ultimately weather would prove costly for the hosts in Manchester in what could have been a historic series win after going 2-0 down.

Some will have concerns with Wood’s injury record however, and at the age of 34, he may not be the long-term replacement that the England red ball team needs.

Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer in conversation with Ben Stokes during the third Test in the 2019 Ashes series at Headingley Photo taken from Flickr taken by: Ben Sutherland

If he can maintain a level of fitness, many would love to see Jofra Archer come back into the Test setup.

Archer exploded onto the scene ahead of the 2019 ODI World Cup and looked sure to be a shoe-in for England’s attack in the long-term.

After a stunning World Cup campaign, he was the first name on the teamsheet for many in that Summer’s Ashes series, making his Test debut in an enthralling battle against Steve Smith.

Ouch: Jofra Archer’s dramatic battle with Steve Smith in the 2019 Ashes Test at Lord’s

Archer would go on to take five wickets in the Test and 22 in the series to cement his place in the squad.

Injuries have halted the pace bowler however, with several setbacks – including surgery on his elbow – meaning he hasn’t played for the Test side since early in 2021.

Sam Cook

Perhaps a slightly lesser known prospect to replace England’s great man is Sam Cook.

The 26-year-old is yet to make his debut for England’s red ball side, but has caught the eye with his form for Essex in the County Championship over the past few seasons.

‘Little Chef’ had an impressive season last year, taking 48 wickets for an average of 19.6 runs.

His best season, however, came in 2021 when he took the third most wickets in the division with 58 at an incredible average of just 14.43 runs.

Cook will consider himself unlucky if he does not get the chance to show his talents on the big stage for his country.

It remains to be seen who Brendan McCullum and co decide is fit to take the baton from England’s greatest ever, and in fact if they will get that chance anytime soon.

Anderson will certainly be looking to surpass Shane Warne’s total of 708 Test wickets, and with three home Test series coming up in the summer – Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka visiting these shores – it seems like just a matter of time until he does just that.

Given his lighter workload in recent times and his incredible fitness for his age, it is not inconceivable that he could have another crack at an Ashes tour of Australia in the 2025/26 series.

Whatever the plan, it feels like the Jimmy Anderson story still has a couple of chapters to tell.