Cricket director Mike Watkinson has hailed Jimmy Anderson's rise from a young tyro in league cricket to one of the world's best swing bowlers after the Burnley-born player signed a new two-year contract to extend his stay at Old Trafford until the end of the 2014 season.
Anderson, 30 years-old, signed his first deal with the county in 2002, going on to win two Ashes series, help England become the world’s number one ranked Test side and battle it out with old adversary Dale Steyn for the tag of the number one fast bowler in the world.
He also played twice in Lancashire’s Championship-winning campaign of 2011, and was a proud man when he collected his medal at Buckingham Palace last October.
Anderson’s current tally of international wickets stands at 516, and he will add to that when he leads England’s Test attack during their forthcoming winter tours of India and New Zealand, beginning in November.
He shot to prominence in 2003 when he starred in England’s World Cup campaign in South Africa, amazingly just months after playing Lancashire League cricket for his hometown club.
“Jimmy's somebody who's centrally contracted and we don't see much of him, but he's still very much one of our own,” said Watkinson, whose impact on the player’s career has been a significant one.
“I've got great memories going back to when I was second team coach and he came out of Burnley's second team and played a game at Middleton. We were working on swing bowling with him and trying to fine tune one of his skills. He's gone on to be an outstanding cricketer in the world. It's good that he's still going to keep that connection with us in the future.
“Jimmy is one of those players who just loves playing for Lancashire. He was really keen to play in this last game of the season (against Surrey at Liverpool). As it is, he's not really been needed.
“He gives a wholehearted performance when he's around, he trains hard when he's with us, he trains to a real intensity. It's a great example for the other players who are around. When the youngsters - the academy and the scholarship players - are nearby, they see the influence he has and how he goes about his business.
“When he's out there taking the new ball for England, there'll be Lancastrians all around thinking 'he's one of our own'. It's good for our system as well. It gives good inspiration to those players setting out thinking 'I'm a bit of a rough and ready cricketer at the moment, I've not been picked for representative squads at the moment, have I still got a chance?' Of course you have.
“Jimmy burst onto the scene late and developed his skills in the latter part of his career. He really is a very skilful bowler from somebody who you would have thought that it would have been difficult for him to reach that level.”
Anderson has only played once for the county this season, taking five wickets in the second innings of the defeat against Nottinghamshire in May.
In fact, he has only played one full season of county cricket since he made his England debut in 2003. That was 2005, the last time Lancashire were in Division Two of the Championship. And he played a crucial role in them winning the title and regaining their top-flight status.
“If you plan to have him, then you're going to have a pretty big gap in your squad for the whole season,” added Watkinson. “The only time we really get him is when he has a bit of a niggle and he's working with our physios and our strength and conditioning guys to get him fit for a return with England. If he does come and join us for a game or two, it's a big bonus.”
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh