Burnley chairman Brown tips pal James Anderson for Ashes glory

England's James Anderson celebrates the wicket of Australia's Mitchell Starc, caught by Matt Prior during day two of the First Investec Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
England's James Anderson celebrates the wicket of Australia's Mitchell Starc, caught by Matt Prior during day two of the First Investec Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

Burnley Cricket Club chairman Michael Brown has backed Burnley boy James Anderson to become England’s main man in their bid to retain the coveted Ashes urn.

Brown is a former team-mate of the revered 30-year-old at both club and county level with the pair climbing through the Turf Moor ranks together from being desirous, starry-eyed teenagers.

Brown, who represented Middlesex, Hampshire and Surrey during his career, can remember Anderson’s expeditious progression as an amateur from being a 15-year-old which was eventually rewarded with selection in the first XI. Then, as he continued to mature, a conversation between Brown’s mum Valerie and head of Lancashire’s Cricket Academy John Stanworth resulted in a county call-up.

“Jimmy played some first team cricket at 15 and that would’ve been my last season,” recalled Brown. “I left in 1998. He always had the makings and he had a really harsh action and the right kind of build to potentially be a good bowler.

“Every year from being 15 he’d come back looking quicker, stronger, bigger and had something extra about him on top of the natural action that he’d always had. It was after I’d left that his natural talent and pace started to come through as he matured.”

Brown added: “He mentions my mum in his book but she’s quite sheepish about it. I played for Lancashire from the Under 11s and went right through, as did my brother David. We were always involved with the coaching staff at Lancashire as well as the managers and academy people.

“Jimmy was always a good cricketer and they knew about him but they just didn’t deem him to be in the selection mix for whatever reason. He started playing first team cricket and then he needed and deserved to be looked at again. That’s where my mum gave the call. She would never profess to be a level three coach or a spotter of natural cricket talent. She knew he was progressing well.”

At the time of writing, Anderson had surpassed Fred Trueman’s wicket haul of 307 to become the nation’s third most successful Test bowler of all time. Defending a total of 215 on the opening day at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge, Anderson restricted Australia to 75-4 at the end of play after Chris Rogers and skipper Michael Clarke made his victim list. And on day two he secured his 14th five-wicket haul in Test matches, claiming the scalps of Steven Smith, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc at the expense of five runs in the space of 11 balls. The Aussies culminated their innings on 229-9.

And Brown is tipping Anderson for further glory. “At this stage it’s always easy to come out with big statements but he’s a key bowler, he’s the go-to bowler and leading wicket taker in Tests for England and he’s all those for a reason,” he said. “I think he’s mastered bowling in all conditions around the world and so he’s a key player. If he bowls well then England have got a very good chance of winning the series.

“We need to get some runs on the board though and I think that’s where England are most concerned. If we can get those runs on the board and give him something to go at then his stats and abilities will shine through.”