If I stay fit, I might just get near to Botham's record haul of wickets
09:28 GMT, 13 May 2012
Jimmy Anderson's rise from humble beginnings of Burnley Cricket Club to Lancashire and a 10-year international career is one of English cricket's great modern-day tales.
Now England's fifth highest Test wicket-taker, at his current rate he would surpass Derek Underwood, Fred Trueman, Bob Willis and Sir Ian Botham by 2015 to top the all-time list.
Humble beginnings: James Anderson returns to Burnley Cricket Club where his career started
It might not be all that to look at,
but the Lancashire League cricket ground squeezed between Belvedere
Road, Burnley, and the back end of Turf Moor was always a field of
dreams for Jimmy Anderson.
wouldn't do for Hollywood. Not with the home of Burnley FC towering
over it, the sprawling Seventies pavilion, permanent seating and
scoreboard requiring a lick-and-a-half of paint, the monotonous
soundtrack of constant traffic grinding by.
even on a morning like Friday, 7C, grimly grey, wet and battered by a
biting northerly wind – 'this is summer, here,' – it did for young
James, from the moment he was brought here by his Second XI skipper
father, Michael, as soon as he could walk, and it still does when his
new Jaguar sports car pulls into the car park now.
Yet not in his wildest imaginings in
between pots on the club snooker table against mates he grew up with
could he have conceived the plot line that started here, 10 years ago
this very month, when the 19-year-old painfully shy slip of a Lancashire
lad turned up in his newly bought second-hand Fiat Bravo for the start
of the 2002 season.
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Feb 2013 v New Zealand
In his 79th Test, Anderson should overtake Derek Underwood to become fourth highest England Test wicket-taker
Born: June 8, 1945
May 2013 v New Zealand
In his 82nd Test, Anderson should overtake Fred Trueman to become third highest England wicket-taker
Born: Feb 6, 1931 – Died: Jul 1, 2006
Nickname: Fiery Fred
July 2013 v Australia
In his 86th Test, Anderson should overtake Bob Willis to become second highest England wicket-taker
Born: May 30, 1949
SIR IAN BOTHAM
April 2015 v West Indies
In his 103rd Test, Anderson should overtake
Sir Ian Botham to become record England
Born: Nov 24 1955
'This is where it all began,' he says. 'Ten years ago I started the season still playing here for Burnley against Rishton, Enfield and the like, but within a year I'd played against Australia, South Africa and Pakistan.
'Because of my Dad, and my uncle Neil, who played loads here, I'd been coming here since I can remember. I just loved cricket from the start. I didn't have any choice really.
'People started to take notice when, at about 15, I started bowling quick and getting a few 'pros' out first ball, like Roger Harper and Martin van Jaarsveld. It was an amazing education, playing against greats like Allan Donald and Shane Warne, and others like David Saker [now England's bowling coach].
Heading for greatness: Jimmy Anderson can eventually beat Sir Ian Botham's record
'A mate's mum, Valerie Brown, recommended me to John Stanworth at Lancashire. They offered me a contract at 18 and, as this was all I ever wanted to do, I grabbed it.
'Then when I took eight-for in a Lancs Second XI match in which Neil Fairbrother was playing after injury, I got my chance.'
Fairbrother recalls: 'I told them, ''You have got to get this lad in''. He bowled speed of light and swung it.'
Soon afterwards, Trescothick and Michael Vaughan told Fletcher exactly the same.
'I've great memories. Pie and chips after a match and, if I got a five-for, Dad would splash out on a fish supper. Who first called me The Burnley Express The local paper, The Burnley Express.
'Weekends were spent with the club full of family and friends and, in the winter, stopping here on the way to football next door.
'My funniest memory During the time when the two seasons overlapped, a lad nicked a ball to first slip at exactly the same time Burnley scored a goal. The bloke catches it and, 100 yards behind him, 17,000 people go up. He nearly fainted.
'And there was the ''Bench of Hate'', upon which generations of former players kept the cold at bay by shaking their heads and muttering, ''Dear, oh dear,'' or words to that effect.
'I look back now and think how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time – that Neil Fairbrother played in that Lancs Second XI game, for instance, and that in my early career people encouraged me to bowl fast and not worry about much else. That's how I got Ramps out. I did him for pace and hit him on the shoe, but I didn't really have a clue where the ball was going.'
He does now, of course, after a process that culminated in a mastery over a cricket ball that elevates him from the status of merely very good.
'It took me a few years to work out how to perform at the top level, though I never felt overawed.'
And what challenges lie ahead for him and for England.
'West Indies will be tough, but looking ahead to South Africa, it is billed as the No 1 side against the No 2, the best pace attack against the second best – and it is. And don't forget while we have the best spinner in the world, whose name escapes me, they have Imran Tahir, who's not bad either.
'Whoever wins will be able to claim they are the best in the world so we need to pull our fingers out. We don't want to be outshone by anyone.'
And what of the magic numbers He's not kidding when he says he disregards them, and laughs out loud when I show him my calculations which prove that if he carries on at his present rate he will overhaul Sir Ian during the third Test against West Indies in April 2015.
'If they happen, great, but I don't like looking too far ahead, I just want to stay fit, keep my place in the team and keep taking wickets. If I can do that, I'll get somewhere near.'