|Photograph from Wikipedia Commons|
"Oh Jimmy Jimmy, Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Anderson!"
Hailed as a wonder-kid in the 2003 World Cup, James Anderson then fell into the international wilderness in 2005 as people said he had lost it, but now the Barmy Army are rightly blowing his trumpet again.
Just five wickets short of adding to an illustrious list of names that have taken 300 Test wickets for England, the burly Lancastrian has transformed himself from a wild, but exciting young prospect, to one of the best exponents of swing bowling in the world.
The 30-year-old burst onto the scene in 2002 with a brilliant spell of 1-12 from 10 overs in an One Day International against the all-conquering Australians. His ability to swing the ball late, at pace and with excellent control earned him high praise from many and the expectations of a country were duly placed on his shoulders.
Despite a good run of form that included England's first ODI hat-trick against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, he slowly slipped out of the team as Michael Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher set about forming their fearsome fast quartet. While Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff took the headlines Anderson stayed on the periphery of the side, bowling at cones and tail-enders.
When Jones was injured during the Test series against New Zealand Anderson must have been champing at the bit to get a chance, only to see Kent's Martin Saggers called up.
England's toughest task ahead of the 2005 Ashes was always going to be the Tests in South Africa, and with the series tied at 1-1 Anderson was given his opportunity in the fourth match in Johannesburg, amidst claims the ball would swing. Many were baffled by the decision to leave out an in form Simon Jones and Anderson failed miserably to prove his doubters wrong.
His first innings figures of 2-117 from 28 overs were flattering at best, while his second innings effort of 0-32 confirmed to many that he had the dreaded 'yips' as the ball flew to all parts of the ground, sometimes not even via the bat. What made that performance even more disappointing was that the ball did swing, Matthew Hoggard showing all the skills that Anderson lacked as he took 12 wickets to win England the game and the series.
Thanks to injuries and loss of form to many of England's bowlers, the seamer found himself back in the side for the 2006/07 Ashes. Like many in an England shirt his efforts could best have been described as pathetic as the Aussies won 5-0.
However fast forward to the next clash of the Titans Down Under and the Burnley Express was tearing the home batting line-up apart, taking 24 wickets at 26.04.
He has continued in that vain for a long time now and is England's highest ever international wicket taker.
|Photograph from Flickr|
Sir Ian Botham