Anderson has to learn to talk the talk

During the Duncan Fletcher years there was a mixed attitude towards pressmen in particular, a deep suspicion of all interviewers and a belief that it was better if you said nothing. In his formative years Anderson must have been greatly influenced by that attitude, writes Ted Corbett.

James Anderson, aged 24 with two World Cups and two tours of Australia behind him, grew into an adult during the Lord’s Test.

Now all he has to learn is that it is not enough to bowl a good 86 miles an hour yorker, a compelling inswinger and the devastating sort of delivery that unseated Sourav Ganguly when he was set.

He showed he can walk the walk; but he still has to learn to talk the talk. Anderson’s bowling, particularly from the pavilion end, was one of the great features of the match and the ball that bowled Ganguly was what the BBC Test Match Special loves to call the Champagne Moment.

After all, there is no doubt that on his day Ganguly is still a considerable batsman, he scored 74 runs in this game — the old timers announced themselves satisfied if they averaged 70 runs per Test — or that he has been one of the greats.

Anderson bowled him in the classic manner with a ball that would have been a wonderful outswinger if it had been bowled to a right-hander but which cut in towards the left-hander’s stumps and left them in tatters. Then, I am sorry to say, he spoilt his own celebrations by giving an interview to Channel Five that was so mute, so lacking in revelations that the producer dumped it for a few well-chosen words from Geoff Boycott instead.

Another broadcaster shook his head sorrowfully. “I understand why,” he said. “James just does not have any words and he does not come across as a cricketer who is pleased with his own deeds. If I am told that I can interview him I don’t even bother. I am afraid he is not worth talking to even when he has bowled brilliantly.”

I asked an old cricketer. “Being interviewed is all part of the game. Jimmy has to learn that. He will need friends one day. Be helpful to media people and they will be helpful when you are in trouble. I have had my ups and downs with the media but I know that I need them as much as they need me.”

The fault may not be entirely Anderson’s. During the Fletcher years there was a mixed attitude towards pressmen in particular, a deep suspicion of all interviewers and a belief that it was better if you said nothing.

Fletcher had few friends — maybe none at all — in the press box and in his formative years Anderson must have been greatly influenced by that attitude.

Happily those days are gone. Peter Moores, the new coach, is an honest man who expresses himself candidly and sooner or later that way of dealing with the media will be the accepted way of life.

Meanwhile it is good to report that Anderson is performing better than at any time in his life, which may be bad news for Matthew Hoggard who would have been bowling in his place but for a back spasm at just the wrong moment.

He has a benefit year in 2008 but we cannot expect him to be pleased to have lot of time to concentrate on raising money. I am sure he would rather be playing for England.

The Schofield Report, set up to provide solutions to the problems that arose from the Ashes whitewash — which was exacerbated by the early exit from the World Cup — recommended that a new position should be created so that the chairman of selectors would also tour abroad with the team.

In other words he would be responsible for the old tour manager’s role as well as picking sides. He would have to be a fairly remarkable man, with time on his hands so that he could travel, possibly with his wife, and have an extensive knowledge of both the game and the habits of cricketers.

I wondered from the first publication of the report if it would be possible to find such a paragon and now there is cynical laughter, a suggestion that this idea will never be turned into reality and no sign of a step forward.

The process of finding the right man is in the hands of David Collier, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, who is keen to talk about how much work has to be done before it can be finished but not to name a date.

David Graveney, the current chairman of selectors, is favourite for the new position but he has been in charge for more than 10 years and there is an argument for ending his reign now. The other candidates are not exactly thick on the ground.

I spent a lot of time during the Chelmsford match in the company of Graham Gooch one of the shrewdest men in the English game after years as captain of England and coach at Essex where it was interesting to see that a number of the Indian players sought him out for advice.

(The young England Lions made for Sachin Tendulkar who was ready to dispense his own thoughts on their needs as they climbed towards the top. It has always been one of the most appealing aspects of this game that the experienced were willing to give support to those on the first rungs of the ladder of fame.)

Gooch has the expertise to make a success of the intimidating England job; the only question is whether the wage and conditions of work make it possible for a man in his mid-50s to find it attractive.

He is as active as ever and young enough in spirit to talk to young players in their own language. The ECB should take advantage and not leave him on the sidelines for 10 years as they did with Ray Illingworth. Illy might have been a good “supremo” in his fifties but was too old when he was chosen, aged 60, in 1994.

There is another reason for choosing Gooch. I heard him describe himself as “media friendly” which means he might be able to solve James Anderson’s immediate needs too.