It's been a summer to remember for James Anderson, the proud leader of the impressive England pace attack. After a quiet start, he got his rhythm right on the final day of the first Test at Lord's, picking up a fifer to wreck India's chances of saving the game. He's been brilliant since and played a lead role in India's rout, taking 21 wickets to help England grab the No. 1 Test spot.
All eyes were on him in the opening game of the one-day series where he became the second England bowler to take 200 ODI wickets. It sounds like more trouble for India as he will not be short of inspiration for the remainder of the series.Lancashire is proud of their boy, and honoured him at his home ground, Old Trafford, during the T20I on Wednesday.
"A great inspiration for our boys, that somebody who has been through our programme is one of the best in the world," said former England player Mike Watkinson, who coached him when he started playing for Lancashire reserve team.
It's not been an easy ride for Anderson. The rewards have come only after an eight-year struggle that included career-threatening injuries.
The bane of the modern coaching system has been an over emphasis on modelling a player's action on the coaching manual. Too much tinkering can have devastating consequences. Anderson is a classic example of it. The bowler went through a phase when coaches in the England set-up tinkered with his action so much he lost the edge as a bowler and suffered a stress fracture of the back.
Watkinson said: "When he was young his action was a little bit untidy. He used to fall away quite a bit to the left side, he looked vulnerable to injury. He became technically more correct but lost a bit of his pace and then he got a stress fracture. The coaches of Lancashire worked with the Cricket Board coaches and we got a programme in place that got him back the action which he had as a youngster. It helped get some whip back in his bowling. That's his style, he seems to be looking down when he is bowling and it works for him."
Watkinson says Anderson's tough period started during the 2003-04 tour to South Africa. He calls it the turning point of the pacer's career too as during the comeback, he also added inswing to his armoury. "Around 2003-04, he went to SA, and hardly got a game with Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff dominating the show. Then he got a stress fracture. That gave him an opportunity to work on his game a bit while he recovered. What has been important in his development is adding inswing," said his coach.
Anderson's resolve was again tested during the 2007 Ashes series in Australia when England were blanked 5-0. He's come back ever stronger and now has 240 wickets in 63 Tests.
"He was always quite a shy character but he's grown in confidence, tactically he is very astute which people don't give him credit for."
The measure of a champion is how he fares against a top professional. Anderson has passed that test by dominating Sachin Tendulkar. "Jimmy knows how to plan and he does it well against Sachin. He knows what deliveries he is going to bowl to him. He got him 2-3 times, and as it happens, it starts playing on the batsman's mind and the bowler grows in confidence. I am sure it plays on Sachin's mind when he faces Anderson and it creates pressure on him."