McGrath: Anderson near end?

  • Last Updated: January 3 2014, 14:52 GMT

England seamer James Anderson may be near the end of his Test career, says Glenn McGrath.

James Anderson: Struggled with the ball in hand
James Anderson: Struggled with the ball in hand

Anderson, 31, claimed 24 wickets at 26 runs apiece in England's 3-1 Ashes triumph 'Down Under' in 2010/11 but this time around has just half that number of scalps at an average of 47.71 with just one more crack at Australia's batsmen to come, in Sydney.

The Lancashire seamer - whose great pal Graeme Swann retired during the Ashes - became only the fourth Englishman to take 300 Test wickets last year, following Sir Ian Botham (383), Bob Willis (325) and Fred Trueman (307).

But McGrath, who bagged 563 wickets in a stellar 124 Test career, says it's clear that Anderson has been performing well below his best on this tour.

"Anderson has been a little bit disappointing," he told Sky Sports. "I've got a lot of respect for him and I think he's a great bowler.

"He had a very good series last time out here and I thought he had learned to bowl with the Kookaburra. But in this series he's seemed tired and flat. It has been tough.

"I don't know if he had a big workload going into this series or whether it's just because the ball hasn't swung and he doesn't know how to take wickets.

"When it's swinging he's one of the best bowlers in the world, without a doubt. Time will tell where he's at when he goes back to England.

"If he can lift himself when he gets a Duke ball, which he loves bowling with, and bowl well then he's fine otherwise - who knows - he may be towards the end of his career."

McGrath, now 43, helped himself to 21 wickets at 23.90 as Australia romped to a 5-0 Ashes in 2006/07 but he says it will be a more impressive achievement if this current side - 4-0 up going into the Sydney Test - completes a whitewash so soon after their 3-0 defeat in England last summer.

"It has been incredible," he reflected. "I think it is one of the best performances by a bowling unit that I've seen. They've executed their game-plans really well, they've bowled consistently and their plans have worked.

"When they haven't been taking wickets, they haven't been going for runs whereas England have still gone along at around four runs an over, even if they've taken wickets.

"By doing that you can't create any pressure at all and that's one thing the Australian bowlers have done; they've created pressure and they've really made it hard to score and they've taken wickets.

"I tend to think that this is nearly more impressive [than 2006/07]. They were the underdogs at the start of the series. England were favourites but after day two at Brisbane I was back to predicting my 5-0.

"The two guys I predicted would have a big effect on the series at the start were David Warner and Mitchell Johnson - I said he's going to have a huge effect on this series. He has been incredible.

"When you've got someone bowling like that - with that pace and hostility - it's amazing. He's shown a lot more consistency than he has in the past. He's had that X-factor; it lifts the whole team and has had the opposite effect on England. When the tail has come in, they've been blown away.

"Brad Haddin is the other man. Johnson is Man of the Series, but Haddin is a close second."

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