James Anderson features in two newspaper articles today. The first, in an interview with the excellent Angus Fraser, he discusses his frustrations he’s had in the past 18 months. It makes for revealing reading – I can’t help a) feeling sorry for him and b) worrying what the future holds for him. He sounds like a young, troubled bowler who doesn’t really know where his next wicket is coming from.
Nick commented on Anderson a couple of weeks ago, and I think this excerpt shows a lot about his lack of confidence and direction:
And to prove this I put him in a hypothetical situation. I asked him what he would be thinking as he walked back to his mark after bowling a well directed ball that the batsman let harmlessly pass through to the keeper. “Well, it depends on what sort of dot ball [a delivery where no runs are scored of it] it was,” he said.
I enquired what he meant by that. “Well if it passed by the off stump by, say, nine inches I would then want to bowl the next ball a bit straighter, say three inches outside off stump.”
At this point I wanted to get up, grab him by the neck and shake him. Why? Because it may sound impressive for a bowler to strive for such perfection but it is totally unrealistic.
Fraser goes on to say that, of Ambrose, Mcgrath and Pollock, “In such a situation they would just try to bowl the same ball again and again, knowing that there would be a natural change in the line and length because men are not robots.”
It’s as though Anderson does strive for perfection. The only “perfection” he has seen is in bowling Pakistan out right at the start of his career. What concerns me most is:
“I have not yet got the patience to bowl the ball on the same spot time and time again,”
He can’t expect to bowl sides out at will – he is not an Ambrose / McGrath / Waqar. He has to be realistic in what he’s trying to achieve and, because of the “cocoon” effect of the central contracts system, the amount of cricket he has played is laughable. He now has the chance to prove to the England selectors that he’s a bowler of the highest class – but he’ll only win their attention by taking 50+ wickets, cheaply, every season.
The second article, by Derek Pringle, sums up the situation better than I can:
It will not be easy. Many have found it difficult to cope with the county fete after the Lord Mayor’s show, and his mettle will be tested. The progress of other young bowlers and rivals like Chris Tremlett and Sajid Mahmood will also distract him, but he should not be deterred. With a bit of willpower, skill will always find its rightful level and Anderson’s has already been to the top once.