Almost two decades since he first played a Test match in Asia aged 21, James Anderson demonstrated once again against Pakistan at Multan why he’s so much more than a green-pitch specialist.

With Abdullah Shafique and Muhammad Rizwan putting on a fifty partnership for the first wicket by lunch on day three of the second Test, England once again turned to their most decorated bowler to find the breakthrough. Just five balls later, he produced a scorching delivery which ragged off the surface and snaked past Rizwan’s outside edge, hitting the top of off stump – just like clockwork. In his six-over spell, Anderson conceded eight runs, a masterclass in seam bowling and reverse swing on a pitch which had given the fast bowlers little help previously.

At the age of 40, Anderson is 22 years senior to the youngest member of the England squad and eight years older than the next oldest, Mark Wood. He is a staggering 12 years older than the average age of the entire 14-man squad. Yet, he has bowled the most overs of any seam bowler in the first two Test matches. Out of all of the England pace attack, he looks the least likely to require a rest from the last match of the series. If England are to claim their first-ever 3-0 win in Pakistan, leaving Anderson out on a Karachi surface which has offered a fair amount to seamers since international cricket’s return, would surely inhibit those chances.

No seamer has more wickets than him currently in the series (8) and those wickets have come for just one run more than the bowler with the lowest average (Mark Wood, 17.50). Of all the bowlers in the series so far, he has the lowest economy rate (2.20) and only Jack Leach has bowled more maidens. When considering the first match in Rawalpindi was the highest-scoring five-day Test of all time, those numbers become all the more staggering. He took 4-36 in the tense final innings of that match, bowling the shortest-pitched spell of his entire career, in which he wasn’t given the new ball, playing a vital part in England’s memorable win.

With warnings before the tour that flat pitches would shred England’s thin-looking fast-bowling attack, which is usually considered to be toothless in subcontinental conditions, a quick look at Anderson’s records proves that assumption wrong on at least his part. Since turning 30, Anderson has averaged 23.19 in Asia and taken 52 wickets at an economy rate of 2.32 in 18 matches. With a cut-off of 50 wickets, only Mohammed Shami, among fast bowlers, has a better average in that time.  When you expand it to all bowlers, only R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are added to the list.

Before he turned 30, Anderson’s stats didn’t put him in the greatest of all-time conversation – regardless of where he was bowling. Since then, average of 29.66 becomes 23.33, and his economy rate goes from 3.07 to 2.54. He has taken the most wickets of anyone after his 30th birthday, surpassing Rangana Herath’s record of 398. He is now well into the 400s. The greatest illustration of the heightening of his powers as a 30-plus-year-old is shown by his near-identical average in England and Asia over the last ten years (20.91 and 20.62 respectively). Before his 30th birthday, that average in Asia was 32.21, the most outstanding example of why when discussing Anderson’s place in fast-bowling mythology, age is the most important part of that conversation.

His ability to continue improving when most have long since called it a day is remarkable, especially when considering England’s Test record over the last three years. He has regularly been tasked with producing yet another spell to bail out a failing batting order or lead a mediocre attack on pitches to which they are ill-suited. But despite this, he has the second-most wickets on the continent of any non-Asian fast bowler – only Dale Steyn has more. In comparison to Steyn, whose strike rate is considerably better, Anderson’s economy rate is superior and after he turned 30, their averages are similar.

Following their series-deciding win in Multan, Anderson is now the only England player ever to have played a full part in series wins both in India and in Pakistan (Joe Root played the final drawn Test in England’s 2012/13 win in India). During the India series in 2012/13, he took more wickets than any other seam bowler and was the only one to play all four matches. Not only do his records show someone who constantly finds new ways to take wickets in all conditions, but someone whose body allows him to have a full impact on the series in which he plays. Amongst the modern crop of fast bowlers, that’s something unique to Anderson.

Given all of his accolades, and in the context of another spectacular performance on this tour, it’s time to put the tired suggestions that his stats over-inflate his greatness, especially in Asia, to bed.