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James Anderson: skilled on the fairway

india Updated: Jul 30, 2007 02:21 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times
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Fortunes in a cricket match can swing dramatically and India, out of sorts in the previous Test, are now ahead. James Anderson swung the ball alarmingly at Lord's to claim a career best five but a similar reward has eluded him in the current Test. But the young quick is equally skilled at swinging a golf club - last year, during the Champions Trophy, he was fetched up from Jaipur in a private aircraft with other English cricketers to play the Hero Honda Open pro-am.

Collingwood and Strauss were in Kapil Dev's four ball, technically sound and mentally strong. Kapil, an amateur with the attitude and ability of a pro, stroked the ball with silken elegance. Kapil's swing is effortless — easy take off, high backswing, smooth acceleration coming down and then a huge, graceful follow through.

Result? The ball launched like a rocket to land a mile away, dead centre of the fairway. Collingwood and Strauss, while equally competent, are far less elegant but together, the three pushed the pro in their group pretty hard. Which, in a way, is not surprising considering cricket and golf share technical essentials.

Compared to the group in front, Anderson was in my four ball that comprised players with more modest skills. The pro in our group went about his business mechanically — for him, the practice round was only an opportunity to prepare for the four days of competition.

No such concerns for Anderson. He'd get to the tee, take a quick practice swing and proceed to give the ball a massive whack and outdrive the pro. He did not fuss much while lining his put, nor did he calculate the risks while chipping delicately to the green. Clearly, for him, golf was an enjoyable break from routine. Conversation was limited to the usual pleasantries in a friendly round: good strikes were applauded and, when putts refused to go in, immediate condolences offered.

In our group, there was a cricket junkie determined to engage Anderson in what he considered a meaningful conversation. His attempts to start a discussion on Lara vs Sachin vs Ponting drew only a smile from Anderson.

But even Anderson's stoic defence was breached. When our partner carried on about Sachin's exploits, he could not restrain himself from taking a swipe and asked: why isn't his record in tight matches so great?