‘Anderson my grumpy, pizza-eating brother’

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Watch Anderson take 500th Test wicket

It’s fitting that James Anderson is the first England bowler to take 500 Test wickets.

Not only is he England’s best ever, but he was also born to bowl. He’s a phenomenal talent in so many ways.

I want to say he’s a club swinger who got lucky – similar to what he says about me as a spinner – but his talent is all natural.

He likes his records and milestones and is aware of his numbers at each ground, but his main drive is simply to take wickets. And to be grumpy while doing so.

I find it bizarre when commentators say he could do better. He’s always got a plan and is often so patient in his execution of those plans that he could be a spinner.

He’ll angle three deliveries across a batsman and the commentator will be screaming for him to nip one back. But he bides his time, almost waiting until the batsman thinks he’s not got one that goes the other way, and then he’ll produce it and take a wicket.

He’s got incredible control of the cricket ball.

Jimmy’s a supreme athlete who, despite being 35, still has the body of a 21-year-old. I’m not sure how, though, because he’s got the worst diet of any professional athlete I know.

The only things he eats are pizzas and burgers, yet he’s so lithe and loose. He’s like a whippet – there’s more meat on a dirty fork.

He also has a brilliant knack of annoying batsmen. I remember during one particular Ashes series he would refer to Mike Hussey as Dave, his brother.

When he saw him in the morning, it’d be: “Morning Dave.” After a delivery: “Shot, Dave.” Mid-innings: “Keep going, Dave.”

Eventually, Hussey snapped and replied: “I’m not Dave. I’m Mike.”

Anderson just smiled: “Sorry, Dave.”

Imagine how annoying that would have been for Hussey for an entire series. It was entertaining for us, that’s for sure.

James Anderson is shooed away by Mike Hussey during the 2010 Ashes in Australia

Jimmy likes to be angry and gets fired up for everything he does. The only time he fell out with me was when I laughed after Tim Bresnan scored a great goal against him in the last minute of a computer game on tour.

He lost the plot, ignored me for days – including on the field when he wouldn’t even look at me – then, almost as quickly as he snapped, gave me a big cuddle and said sorry.

While we appear to be different characters at first, we’re so similar we could be brothers. He’s such a good friend, I’d literally do anything for him.

Obviously, I’d be the good-looking brother. I like to wind him up about some modelling he did for an advert which is on the back of a fleet of buses.

The advert refers to him as the world’s second best bowler. Why not just go with England’s best bowler? I like it anyway because I can say he’s got a face like the back of a bus.

We often travelled together to Tests and one particular day we had to follow a diversion to Lord’s. I’m superstitious and because I took five wickets that day, Jimmy – my passenger – was happy to repeat the journey the next day even though we were borderline late.

He has great taste in music and made sure the tracks were exactly the same too, and we sat in the car listening to the White Lies’ Farewell to the Fairground. We were parked up at Lord’s and couldn’t get out of the car until it was over.

I retired in 2013 but Jimmy could play for a long while yet.

One thing I always admire is his desire to play for Lancashire.

When you’re an international bowler with a decent record, you’re almost given licence to pick and choose the games you need to be ready for the first Test of each summer.

While I’d pick two of three matches to play in, Jimmy would want to play in them all. He loves nothing more than trying to win games for Lancashire and picking a fight with the Yorkshire captain.

He is 35 now, but he’s in such good shape that I wouldn’t rule out him playing until he’s 40. In that respect, he’s the Floyd Mayweather of English cricket.

Like the brilliant American boxer, in his particular discipline – and certainly for this country – he’s the best there’s been.

Graeme Swann was talking to BBC Sport’s Marc Higginson.

Anderson has taken 290 first-class wickets for Lancashire

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