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 on the global list, alone as a seamer on 564 career victims – with only three great spinners still above him.
His achievement followed 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 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 that was 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,” said the England captain.
“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.
He added: “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.”
As for Cook and Anderson’s twin achievements, Root added: “I said it was written in the stars at the start of the week maybe – and for it to turn out how it has is fairytale stuff, isn’t it?
“For Alastair to go out like that, and Jimmy to finish the game off in real style was so fitting for those two guys – who are really close mates.
“They’re going to miss playing with each other.
“When you saw Alastair’s hundred, you could see the guys on the balcony what it meant to them.”
Root had the best view of all, as Cook’s third-wicket partner as he too made a second-innings century.
“You saw his kids on the screen clapping, and he nearly started tearing up,” Root said.
“To be out there and see that up and close, I will savour that forever.”
Root’s opposite number Virat Kohli paid tribute to Anderson’s efforts this summer and throughout his career.
“It’s been fun … very competitive, but in the right way,” said the India captain.
“As a cricketer you want to be pushed and tested, and guys like him test you all the time.
“He has been very relentless with his skills and he now stands at the top of the fast bowlers’ leaderboard, and he deserves it totally.”
Needing seven wickets for victory on the final day, the hosts were frustrated for a large time in front of a packed Oval crown before a 118-run victory was achieved in the final hour of the day’s play.
With an action packed Tuesday bringing a fitting end to a hard-fought series between the two sides, we take a look at the key talking points from the final day.
KL RAHUL FINALLY COMES TO THE PARTY
It had been a series filled with frustrations and disappointments for KL Rahul who arrived at England on the back of a stupendous IPL campaign. It was meant to be his chance to stake a permanent claim to the opening slot but it seemed to be heading for a disappointing end after poor displays in the first four Tests.
The signs that he was slowly finding his touch were there to see in the first innings at the Oval where Rahul racked up a quick-fire 37. It was when India were reduced to 2-3 in their chase of 464 in the final innings that Rahul truly burst into life.
The right-hander finally showed the form that had grabbed eyeballs in the IPL with a display filled with some clean and effortless hitting. Taking the attack to the England bowlers, Rahul largely dealt in boundaries as he switched on his ODI batting-mode and racked up a total of 21 of them on his way to a fifth Test ton. He perished just one run shy of the 150-mark but for a brief while, his partnership with Rishabh Pant had raised the prospect of a miraculous India victory.
RISHABH PANT SHOWS HIS PROMISE WITH BELLIGERENT TON
If Rahul had sent a timely reminder of the fact that he can cut it in Test cricket, then Rishabh Pant signalled his readiness to become India’s long-term wicketkeeping option. The youngster had quickly faded away after a promising start to his Test career at Trent Bridge but on Sunday, he showed why he can be such a dangerous batsman in the format with a belligerent ton filled exemplified by brute power and fearless brand of cricket.
He took Rahul’s cue in taking the attack to the hosts with some fierce cuts and pulls and showed no fear in taking the aerial route too. Bringing up his maiden Test ton with a towering six off Adil Rashid, the youngster’s chancy innings at one point looked like he would carry India to a famous victory. However, he ultimately fell on 114 after attempting another slog off Rashid but his 204-run stand with Rahul had showed that the 20-year-old has plenty of fight in his belly.
What was ever more remarkable about his century was the fact that it was the first by an Indian wicket-keeper in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia.
ANDERSON GOES PAST MCGRATH TO CLINCH ENGLAND WIN
Throughout the series, the prize wicket of Virat Kohli had evaded England’s spearhead James Anderson. When Pant and Rahul were going great on Tuesday, it even looked like the veteran seamer might not inch past Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 Test wickets having equalled it on Monday.
That wait was exacerbated further on the final day with the landmark wicket proving elusive to Anderson for most of the day while the likes of Rashid and Sam Curran picked away at India’s tailenders.
With India nine down in the final session, the moment was slipping out of Anderson’s grasp until he finally got one to land in the perfect area to flatten Mohammed Shami’s middle-stump. Just like Alastair Cook had got the perfect sendoff, Anderson befittingly became the all-time leading wicket-taker among pacers with the final delivery of the series. It was just reward for a man who also finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series with 24 scalps to his name.
The wicket-keeper batsman and the rest of the 16-man squad departed from Lahore’s Allama Iqbal airport and is convinced his team can perform well in the six-team tournament.
“The team has prepared a lot for the tournament and we will try our best to perform well in all three categories,” Sarfraz said during a media interaction at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on Monday.
All eyes will be on Pakistan’s clash against arch-rivals India on September 19 and Sarfraz wants his side to be in peak condition by the time the game comes around.
“Every match against India is extremely important. Momentum is very important, so we’ll try to generate momentum in the first game and go into the fixture against India thoroughly prepared,” he said.
The last time the two neighbours met, Pakistan thumped India by 180 runs in the ICC Champions Trophy final in London last year. Sarfraz believes that result will have no bearing when the two teams take to the field against each other at Dubai.
“That match is in the past. It was almost one-and-a-half years ago. So I don’t think we should consider it that much. All professional teams put the past behind and look forward. Both teams will do the same,” he added.
The event also features Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and qualifier Hong Kong. The wicketkeeper-batsman lauded the quality in all six teams and believes there will be no easy games in the tournament.
“I’ve seen all the squads and they’re all very strong, no team can be taken lightly. Teams will have to play very good cricket if they are to win the tournament,” the Pakistan captain said.
Pakistan, who have been placed in group A, will begin their campaign on September 16 against minnows Hong Kong at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.