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Anderson: From Burnley to the big time

Twelve months ago, James Anderson was sitting in his north of England home with his ambition limited to merely breaking into Lancashire's county championship team.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2003 18:31 IST

Twelve months ago, James Anderson was sitting in his north of England home with his ambition limited to merely breaking into Lancashire's county championship team.

One year on, and the 20-year-old pace bowler from Burnley is being hailed as the cutting edge which could slash through England's World Cup opposition.

"It's just gone so quick. I keep pinching myself," said Anderson who has now taken 22 wickets in 12 one-day internationals and, after his 4-29 against Pakistan in Cape Town on Saturday, now stands at the top of the wicket-taking chart here with Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas with nine wickets in three games.

Ironically, if England's Ashes tour had not been decimated by a string of injuries, Anderson, who was still playing club cricket with Burnley in the Lancashire League last year, would probably be back at home watching the World Cup on television.

But being in the right place at the right time has paid off. He was plucked from the England academy during the tour to act as cover for his limping comrades.

Then when his chance came, he seized it.

After just 13 first-class and three one-day matches in 2002, he won a place in the academy but wasn't there very long as he was called-up to reinforce the England one-day squad following injuries to Darren Gough, Simon Jones, Andy Caddick, Andrew Flintoff, Alex Tudor and Chris Silverwood.

He was handed his international debut against Australia in the triangular one-say series at the end of last year in the intimidating atmosphere of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

His figures of 1-46 didn't do him justice but he did claim the potentially destructive Adam Gilchrist as his first one-day international victim before going on to dismiss another master-blaster Sanath Jayasuriya in Perth.

He finished with 2-48 in that game and his enthusiasm, change of pace and ability to swing the ball guaranteed him a place in the World Cup squad.

"It's amazing to think that I came to South Africa 12 months ago with Lancashire on a pre-season tour. It's been a fantastic year - I had a good summer, then the academy and now the World Cup.

"It's just fantastic."

His Lancashire team will testify to his impact. His 46 championship wickets in 11 matches helped the famous old county avoid the embarrassment of relegation in 2002.

He also had a major impact in the Roses match against Yorkshire where he clinched seven wickets and it was then that people started taking notice.

England skipper Nasser Hussain allowed Anderson to bowl his ten overs in succession against Pakistan at Newlands and he was rewarded with four wickets which turned the game, leading to a 112-run win and a further boost in the team's campaign to reach the Super Sixes.

"James bowled very well," said the captain. "He has gone from bowling for the Burnley third team to regularly collecting man of the match awards for England.

But Hussain cautioned: "He's got a lot of work to do but hopefully he'll continue the way he is."

First Published: Feb 23, 2003 18:31 IST