Anderson leads from the front
Jimmy Anderson hurled down a few deliveries during this year's Kwik Cricket launch
James Anderson is happy to begin an Ashes summer as the spearhead of England’s bowling attack.
Anderson, 26, has developed into the Test team’s most reliable new-ball bowler over the past 12 months, even allowing for his omission in the first Test against West Indies in Jamaica.
His performances since then, including some fine reverse-swing spells later in innings in the Caribbean, have justified his status change from junior pro to one of the senior men when the players gather for next week’s first npower Test against West Indies at Lord’s.
With other established international pace bowlers injured or struggling for rhythm, Anderson finds himself viewed by many as the most likely source of early wickets.
He said: “Not being picked in Jamaica was a strange one really because last summer against South Africa I had the same sort of feeling - not that I was the main bowler but leading the attack, if you will - yet when we got to the West Indies I missed out in the first one.
“Hopefully I am now back on a bit more permanent basis; I like the responsibility of leading the attack.
“Peter Moores first gave me that responsibility in 2007 against India when he said he wanted a little bit more from me. That just gave me that little bit more confidence and it really helped my game.”
Confidence is something Anderson lacked until recently on the international stage, despite making his England debut in Australia on the 2002-03 Ashes tour.
He addressed the problem by seeking the counsel of England and Wales Cricket Board psychologist Steve Bull and other experts from outside the sport during the winter of 2007-08.
His previous uncertainty meant that his bowling performances were dependent on how he started - and if he began badly there was no dragging things back.
“A massive thing for most players is confidence and self-belief,” said Anderson, speaking at the Asda Kwik Cricket initiative at Didsbury CC in Manchester.
“I have always had self-belief but I suppose there was always something missing.
“Talking to Steve Bull and a couple of other people who have worked in different sports, who didn’t have much idea about cricket, on the mental side of the game really helped me.
“Now when I walk onto a field I am 90% sure where the ball is going to go and that’s a good start.
“Even if I don’t get off to a good start I always feel I can claw it back. That’s all from being confident about where my game is at.”
Anderson, who was named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year earlier this month, began the season with 11 LV= County Championship wickets in one outing against Sussex at Hove and is on the shortlist for England’s player-of-the-year award, which will be presented next Monday night.