Ruthlessness helping Anderson - Lloyd
Former England coach David Lloyd believes developing a nasty streak has helped James Anderson to become one of the world’s premier pace bowlers.
Anderson heads into the first Investec Test against New Zealand at Lord’s two shy of becoming only the fourth Englishman in history to reach the milestone of 300 wickets in the longest format.
The 30-year-old Lancashire seamer will expect to reel in Fred Truman on 307 and Bob Willis on 325 during a hectic schedule of Test cricket over the coming month, with Sir Ian Botham’s record mark of 383 lying a little further up the road.
A master of his craft, rubbing shoulders with such exalted names in the history books is not a position many would have pictured Anderson in as he battled to nail down a regular starting berth during the early years of his international career, having burst onto the scene as a raw and prodigiously talented youngster during the 2002/03 tour of Australia.
He is now unquestionably one of the game’s most consistent performers but according to Lloyd, a fellow east-Lancastrian who has studied the player’s development since his days in club cricket, this is down to something more than hours of diligent practice in the nets mastering the subtle arts of swing bowling.
“Anderson, from his days at Burnley, has developed into a world-class bowler - a no nonsense performer, as they need to be,” Lloyd told ecb.co.uk.
“Jimmy Anderson on the field is a nasty piece of work. Off the field he’s a lovely lad.
“That’s what they need to be. You can go through the history from Fred Truman to Glenn McGrath; they’re lovely blokes but if you put cricket whites on them...
“You can mention any amount of West Indian fast bowlers. They were all great lads but if you put whites on them they’d hurt you.”
One man in the England side who can dish out pain with the bat is Matt Prior, who was named ECB Men’s Cricketer of the Year earlier this week in recognition of his stellar form both at the crease and behind the stumps.
Prior’s magnificent match-saving century in the final Test in Auckland two months ago means New Zealand arrived on these shores harbouring a burning sense of unfinished business.
“He’s a fantastic player, he really is,” said Lloyd of the Sussex stumper. “The way that he came into the team and went away knowing that he’d got a lot of work to do and responding to that.
“He likes that number-seven position and England like him there. He is dangerous coming in at seven.
“You can have him at seven because your eight and nine are also quite useful. We’ve got a long batting line-up.
“Prior, they’ve resisted him going up to six; he could go up to six, easily, but there’s no real point.
“I know people say, ‘oh, you need five bowlers,’. No, you don’t; not with 90 overs a day you don’t need five bowlers. Four can do it.”
Lloyd expects that four-man attack to have their work cut out on good pitches at HQ and Headingley, with whoever holds their nerve during attritional sessions similar to those witnessed over the winter likely to prevail.
The 66-year, a fluent left-hander who featured in nine Tests and eight one-day internationals for England during his playing days, is also relishing a contrasting approach from captains Alastair Cook and Brendan McCullum.
He added: “What we saw (in New Zealand) from McCullum was him being very inventive with his captaincy. He’s a gambler.
“I know Brendan McCullum and just in life he’s a gambler, so his captaincy will be on-the-hoof and he’ll look at a situation and make an instant decision.
“You look at England and they’re more of a method team - a real drawing board, plans and stick to the plans approach - which is fine.
“It’s served England very, very well but McCullum is an eye-catching captain. They’ve got good bowlers - Trent Boult, (Doug) Bracewell, (Neil) Wagner, if he plays, and (Tim) Southee. It’s a good pace attack, is that.
“The pitches will be good. One thing that we never talk about nowadays is moisture in the surface (because) there is none.
“Pitches are always dry with a good covering of grass so it comes down to Tests that will probably be five days. The way that I’m looking at these two (teams), I think they’ll be pretty long, drawn-out matches.”