Jimmy’s out to inspire next generation

James Anderson
James Anderson
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Cricket star James Anderson admitted his dad Michael was probably more emotional than himself when he finally became England’s record Test wicket-taker.

The Lancashire swing bowler surpassed Sir Ian Botham’s long-standing record of 383 wickets when he had West Indies captain Danesh Ramdin caught by Alastair Cook at slip on the final day of the first match of three in Antigua in April.

Fittingly, the record was broken in Anderson’s 100th appearance for his country at Test level and he soon went on to become the first Englishman to reach 400 wickets when he dismissed New Zealand batsman – Martin Guptill – becoming the 12th cricketer worldwide to reach the milestone.

He said: “It’s been good,” he said. “Everything’s kind of happened at once but it’s been an amazing few months for me and for my family as well. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come and I can continue with more success.

“The record probably meant more to my dad Michael than it did to me. He was very proud. It’s such a huge achievement and I still can’t quite believe that I managed to achieve that. It leaves me speechless

“It’s amazing and I feel really fortunate to do this as a job. I’ve loved every minute of it and if it ended tomorrow I’d be so happy with what I’ve achieved and everything that’s come with it. I’m just so happy that I’ve been able to do this for so long.”

The 32-year-old, who was recently awarded an OBE to add to his current mark of 403 Testwickets, celebrated his stunning achievements by returning to home county Lancashire this week.

He attended Blessed Trinity RC College, the re-model of his former school St Theodore’s, in Burnley, as a surprise guest.

There among pupils who had longed to meet him and amidst teachers who had once taught him, Anderson focussed on the sport’s future by promoting an initiative headed by Chance to Shine as part of Yorkshire Tea’s National Cricket Week.

The hope is to encourage more youngsters to get involved and enthuse the next generation in the art of swinging a bat, delivering a ball, and taking a catch.

Anderson himself didn’t have access to such comforts at school particularly, though he’s certainly prospered from a natural progression, which was harnessed at Burnley Cricket Club and developed by Lancashire.

He added: “Over the last few months I’ve thought about things that have gone on in this journey. I’m just thankful to everyone that’s been a part of it.

“I didn’t play much at school so without the coaches we had at Burnley I wouldn’t have been able to progress the way I did.

“The same goes to Lancashire County Cricket Club and on to England.

“Without the people that have been involved in helping me along the way I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have. It’s something that I think about a lot and I’m very grateful for.”

Anderson believes it is important for the younger generation to have heroes to look up to and be inspired by.

He used to look up to Lancashire stalwarts like Peter Martin when he was growing up – and had idols in other sports too.

“I was fortunate that my dad went to watch Lancashire a bit so I went down there,” he said.

“There were a couple of guys – Pete Martin and Glenn Chapple were extremely good bowlers. I watched them growing up. Fortunately cricket was on terrestrial TV back then so I could watch a lot of it.

“People like Alan Donald and Glenn McGrath – I tried to copy them as much as I could.

“But Boris Becker was my real hero. I used to try and copy him. I’d dive around the living room, volleying against the wall.

“I used to watch all sports on TV so I took inspiration from it.”

Anderson is getting prepared for the Ashes , which begins next month.

After the disappointment of being whitewashed against Australia Down Under 18 months ago, the swing bowler is keen to exact revenge on the auld enemy.

He believes the confidence surrounding the performance of England in the the recent one-dayers against New Zealand can help the Test team.

“The Ashes is a totally different format, but you can still take that positive, aggressive attitude into Test match cricket,’ he said.

‘There are some new, young players in there with plenty of skill and plenty of enthusiasm..

“It sounds like they’re in a good place. It looks like they’re enjoying themselves out in the field and that’s the main thing.

“I’ll be just doing things the way I normally do with any of the cricket teams I’ve been involved in, and hopefully that means England playing some good cricket

“I’m confident of putting up a good show, and if they play some good cricket, there’ll be a chance of winning.’

Meanwhile with regards to his OBE, Anderson added: “I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s still all a bit of a shock really. I don’t know what else to say. My mum cried, my dad wasn’t too fussed, but they’re very proud.”