LETTER: In praise of cricketer James Anderson
My mind goes back to a previous tour of Sri Lanka in December 2003 when I spoke to him on the first morning of the Third Test in Colombo.
An injury sustained playing squash had kept him out of the first two games in the series and he was still uncertain of his place for this final match.
As it turned out he might have been forgiven for thinking it would have been a good contest to miss. Sri Lanka walloped a mammoth 628 for 8 declared, won by an innings and 215, James went for plenty without taking a wicket and fielding for two days in that murderous heat must have been as near purgatory as a young cricketer ever gets.
He was to have other setbacks on his way to his present pre-eminence.
A severe back problem had to be overcome and misguided coaching that interfered for a time with his natural action did him no favours.
Through it all, though, he never stopped trying to improve and to extend his repertoire.
The result is very nearly the complete pace bowler, able to move the ball both ways in the air and off the seam with admirable control.
Determination, a prodigious capacity for hard work and dedication to his craft have earned James all the plaudits and rewards now coming his way.
Another local cricketer has delighted me in the past few days. Jonathan Clare is arguably the best all-rounder the Burnley club has ever produced and in his mid-teens he was easily the most talented player of that age I had ever seen.
His progress with Derbyshire has been uneven so far, due mainly to persistent bad luck with injuries, but in his first competitive game of the new season he routed Glamorgan with magnificent match figures of 11 for 57 and made good runs into the bargain.
Jonathan is still only 25 and the England selectors must surely be keeping a careful eye on him, just as those responsible for nurturing talent at Lancashire must regret not ensuring his future lay at Old Trafford.
To add to local interest, as we set out on another Lancashire League campaign, we can follow the progress of young hopefuls like batsman Johnny Whitehead at Lowerhouse and fast bowler Cole Hayman at Burnley. I am getting texts from Burnley supporters predicting they will knock Lowerhouse off their championship perch. Dream on lads.