DAVID LLOYD: Jimmy Anderson turns 40! But shows no signs of slowing down his cricketing career

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The first time I really became aware of a young Jimmy Anderson I was sitting next to the late great Bob Willis commentating for Sky on one of his early TV appearances.

Bob would always get excited when he saw a fast bowler for the first time and, in his own inimitable way, pressed the ‘lazy’ switch to speak to the director and said: ‘Is this speed gun correct? This young cock seems to be bowling at 90 miles an hour…’

That for me was the birth of a bowler in Jim who has broken every record in the book and on Saturday celebrates his 40th birthday still at the peak of his powers.

Jimmy Anderson has turned 40 but shows no signs of winding down his cricketing career yet

I had heard of Anderson before then through my youngest son Ben, who had played against him when he was only about 14 or 15. Ben would say, ‘There’s a really good bowler at Burnley called Jimmy’, but Jim actually opened the batting early on for his club.

Jim was quick and a bit wayward then but word quickly got round how promising he was and senior players, who are not impressed easily, would say, ‘this lad is a real handful.’

You might recall the young Jim had what they called a skunk haircut — Kevin Pietersen had one too — which basically looked like he’d done a bit of decorating and caught his head on the ceiling. 

The Lancashire-born fast bowler currently ranks third in the all-time list of most test wickets

The Lancashire-born fast bowler currently ranks third in the all-time list of most test wickets

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And he wouldn’t say a word to anybody. England quickly threw him into international cricket — they could see how good he was — and around the time he was first making his mark in Test cricket, then coach Duncan Fletcher pulled me to one side to have a word.

Duncan said, ‘You’re a Lancastrian. This lad Anderson. I just can’t get any rapport with him. He seems very aloof. He’s not involved in the dressing room.’

I simply replied, ‘Duncan, he’s from Burnley. There’s 70,000 of them there just like him. They look at you and they just weigh you up. Jimmy is a quiet bloke off the field but I’ve got a lot of mates from Burnley and that’s just them through and through.’

I’ve played golf with Jimmy a number of times and he’s just the same there. He never looks like he’s enjoying himself! He hits the ball very sweetly as a right-handed golfer, playing off single figures. 

Anderson (left) celebrates taking another wicket with fellow veteran bowler Stuart Broad

Anderson (left) celebrates taking another wicket with fellow veteran bowler Stuart Broad

One day I watched his lovely swing and compared it to his left-handed batting which is slightly awkward.

I said: ‘Are you sure you’re a left-handed batter, Jim? Should you not play right-handed?’ He gave me that Burnley look and walked off without saying a word.

How has Jimmy (right, with Lloyd) gone on so long and maintained such high standards? I was given a clue in January when I had to go into Old Trafford for some treatment.

Just as I was pulling into the gates early one morning came the sight of Anderson running out into the street with a bobble hat on. He works as hard as ever on his fitness, he leaves no stone unturned in his preparation.

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Anderson tops the list for most wickets taken by an Englishman with 657

The experienced pro is still as active as ever at 40

Anderson is England’s best-ever wicket taker having taken 657 cricketing scalps so far

When he came back to the ground I said, ‘Bloody good effort, Jim, early on a cold January morning.’ And he said, ‘You don’t think I want to do it, do you?’ He knows you have to put in the hard yards if you’re going to keep on doing the business at his age.

The thing is, it’s not as if he lives like a monk. I’ve never been out with him socially but he does know how to enjoy himself. 

He will have a night out but it’s always at the right time. He knows when and where to do it. He has a great balance in his life, along with Stuart Broad. 

They really are a great combination for England.

Jimmy started off as Banksy doing graffiti but now he’s a Rembrandt. I guess we are always looking to see if, turning the grand old age of 40, his pace is down or whether he can still come back strong for third and fourth spells.

The answers are the pace is still absolutely quick enough and, yes, he can come back just as strong.

I can tell you Jim was seething when England left him out of the West Indies tour earlier this year. But he kept his counsel. The Burnley lad came out again. He quietly resolved to prove them all wrong and he will continue to do that for some time yet.

No player in cricketing history has taken more wickets caught behind than Anderson - 181

No player in cricketing history has taken more wickets caught behind than Anderson – 181

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The Ashes next year? Why not? There’s no reason he can’t go on until he decides enough is enough. Somebody has to knock him off his perch first.

Jimmy has an end named after him at Old Trafford now and he reminds me so much of Brian Statham, who has the other end named after him. They were about the same pace, both deadly accurate and both the same wiry build. Brian was unbelievably quiet too.

I want to start a campaign. Come on Lancashire, it’s a tiny board with Jimmy’s name on it at the pavilion end. We should be shouting from the rooftops. 

We should be so proud of our iconic players and ‘The James Anderson End’ should be emblazoned right across the pavilion to inspire the generations coming through.

Jimmy is a master of his craft and is still working at it. He still wants to learn new tricks and that’s great credit to him. He’s not perfection — but he’s not far off. Cheers Jim!

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