James Anderson had the perfect company out there on the pitch with him for the moment he became the world’s most successful pace bowler.
Anderson capped a match of high-profile milestones by overtaking Australia great Glenn McGrath when he took the final wicket of the fifth Specsavers Test to bowl India out for 345 and deliver a 118-run and 4-1 series victory.
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker is up to fourth in the global list, alone as a seamer on 564 career victims – with only three spinners still above him.
His achievement followed his great friend Alastair Cook’s fairytale sign-off with a century in his last Test innings the previous day – and as Anderson recalled clean-bowling India tailender Mohammed Shami on the final evening at The Oval, his fellow national record-holder was uppermost in his thoughts.
“He is my best mate, and it’s been brilliant,” the 36-year-old told Sky Sports Cricket, before his voice began to crack with emotion at the post-match presentation.
“I’m happy that Cooky was on the field to see that wicket.”
Anderson was in danger of finishing his summer merely level with McGrath, as KL Rahul (149) and Rishabh Pant (114) shared a sixth-wicket stand of 204 to keep India in with a chance of a world-record chase.
But England captain Joe Root persisted with him in a spell into its 14th over either side of tea, by the time he struck – although only latterly with the second new ball.
Anderson added: “I just got into a really good rhythm and thankfully Joe let me take the new ball, eventually.
“It gave me half a chance to get that wicket!”
Root admitted he did not fancy his prospects of suggesting someone else bowl instead from the Vauxhall End.
“I think it would have been ‘good luck’ trying to get the ball from him.
“Especially once that new ball came out, he had that bit between his teeth.
“He didn’t look tired, he looked very determined – and when he’s in that mood, you want to just keep him going as long as possible.”
Root hopes to do that into the future too.
“What Jimmy has achieved, and what he’s capable of achieving still, is astounding really.
“For him to be in the same league as McGrath, and now chasing the big spinners, is phenomenal.
“I think the most exciting thing is he’s bowling at his best and I can see that carrying forward for a long time still.
“I hope there’s going to be a number of series in the future where he is leading the attack, and terrorising batters.”