James Anderson says he did not think he was “good enough” for Test cricket when he made his England debut 18 years ago.
However, England’s leading Test wicket-taker, 38, is poised to overtake former captain Sir Alastair Cook as the nation’s most capped Test player.
Anderson joined Cook on 161 appearances in last week’s drawn first Test against New Zealand, with the second Test starting on Thursday at Edgbaston.
“Knowing how much Cooky played I’m proud I’ve got to this point,” he said.
Anderson made his Test debut for England against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in 2003.
Despite taking a five-wicket haul in the first innings, he says it felt like “a huge step up from county cricket” and it took him “a few years” to realise he could perform at the highest level.
“My first ball was a no-ball and there were a lot of nerves there,” he said.
“I remember Nasser Hussain didn’t have a fine leg for me and I went for quite a few runs.
“No disrespect to Zimbabwe but playing against teams like South Africa, Australia and India, once you put in performances against the top teams in the world, that’s when you think you can perform at that level.
“It did take a few years and a few tours around the world to make me think I could do it.”
The Burnley-born bowler is fourth on the list of all-time wicket-takers in Test cricket with 616 dismissals at an average of 26.58.
He has taken more wickets than any other seamer in this history of Test cricket, and needs four more to overtake former India spinner Anil Kumble in third place.
Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne (708) is in second place with Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan topping the list with 800 wickets to his name.
Lancashire’s Anderson is also six dismissals away from reaching 1000 first-class wickets.