David Brown remembers precisely the moment when he thought James Anderson was destined for greatness.
Two weeks ago Anderson surpassed Sir Ian Botham’s England Test wicket record in Antigua.
Brown and Anderson grew up together in the junior teams at Burnley, and have stayed good friends since.
Indeed, Brown was Anderson’s best man, and the “Burnley Express” will reciprocate in November.
The 32-year-old, who had a county career of his own with Gloucester and Glamorgan, was a proud man when Anderson created history.
He looked back at the beginnings of an England legend: “We played in the Under 13s together – if you could hold a bat, you pretty much got a game.
“I can’t remember him being outstanding, he had talent on a par with the rest of us.
“There was nothing to him, a lanky streak of...
“But at the football club in indoor nets, he came back, and he’d grown noticeably.
“You think you’ll have a lovely bit of a bat, and you’ve got someone bowling thunderbolts at you!
“I remember him bowling really quick, and everyone thought ‘bloody hell, this lad’s got a bit of pace!’
“That year he went on and had a really good year. We played at Lancashire Under 17s, 18s, and had him, Kyle Hogg, Sajid Mahmood, and they just ran through teams, they were like rabbits in headlights. A year or two later he got his deal at Lancs, and within a year and a half, he’d made his England debut.”
David was visiting his mate when Anderson made his England bow on the 2002/03 tour of Australia: ”I was in Australia when he made his debut, watching in a clubhouse, I’d gone out at Christmas - my brother was there to see him.
“He’d got on the academy, and when they had a couple of injuries, we thought ‘whack him in’, because we knew what he could do – possibly not thinking it would happen, and it did. That was the most surreal moment, watching him run in at the MCG in front of 70,000, slinging it down!”
And David was in a clubhouse back home when Anderson broke the England Test wickets record: “I’d watched bits and bobs coming home from work, but there were quite a few of us at the club having a pint.
“It took a while, but he managed to do it, so there were a lot of happy people!
“Ian Botham said a year and a half out he was going to do it, providing he stays fit, and he’s obviously a fit lad.
“When he did it, it was surreal, especially being here, with the amount of times you’ve seen him here having a pint, and now you’re watching him on telly taking his 384th Test wicket!
“It was pretty special. To beat Botham, who is such an icon of English cricket as well.”
Anderson is terrific inspiration for the town – showing what can be achieved: “He shows what you can do. He has god-given talent but works incredibly hard, as anyone at that level does.
“The kids here idolise him. He comes down a couple of times a year, signs autographs and donates his kit, and you can see they look up to him immensely.
“But he’s just Jimmy to us.
“I was best man for him, and he’s best man for me in November, although I have three – I can’t make a decision!
“I don’t see as much of him now because of his life, so your relationship does evolve a bit.
“He’s now away 300 days a year, but we text quite a lot, and when he’s back we meet up. It’s just the same, you change as people a little bit - we don’t go down Panamas like we did when we were 18...
“But it’s always brilliant to see him, and hopefully I’ll have a few more pints with him when he stops playing.”
Meanwhile, Brown feels Burnley teammate Cole Hayman could follow in the footsteps of Anderson.
The 20-year-old signed scholarship terms for Lancashire last year and took 4-40 for Burnley against Enfield on Saturday to move past 100 Lancashire League wickets. And Brown admitted: “Cole has a similar x-factor, I genuinely think he could be a superstar.
“He’s got the same raw talent and competitive instinct as Jimmy, and you don’t get many lads who can bowl 90 mph.
“I don’t know if he could take 384 Test wickets, but he could have a proper career.”
Burnley are at home to Ramsbottom on Saturday, and are at Colne on Sunday.