Anderson rises to the occasion

ENGLISH cricket is alive and kicking. After the rise of Michael Vaughan as a top-notch batsman in the past 12 months, another latent talent has surfaced in the form of fast bowler James Anderson.

G. VISWANATH

ENGLISH cricket is alive and kicking. After the rise of Michael Vaughan as a top-notch batsman in the past 12 months, another latent talent has surfaced in the form of fast bowler James Anderson. The English county championship that has been run down by all and sundry as the worst and as one which only supports professional cricketers from all over the world, received a big boost from a home grown and chubby-faced Lancashire boy who has chosen the World Cup stage to display his wares.

James Anderson is a happy man after dismissing Inzamam-ul-Haq, caught by Nick Knight, for no score. Anderson, who picked up four wickets, was named the `Man of the Match.' — Pic. REUTERS-

There might be any number of bowlers plying their trade of fast, swing and seam bowling and slow medium pace in the British Isles, but Anderson has taken the World Cup by storm and has given two outright wins for England — at Port Elizabeth (against Namibia by 55 runs) and at Newlands (against Pakistan by 112 runs).

The experts, including former cricketers and coaches, would be tempted to be on guard while commenting about Anderson, saying that these are yet `early days' for the 20-year-old who began playing for the red rose county less than 10 months ago. England has not really found a great pair of fast bowlers after Freddie Trueman and Brian Statham. That combination had proved deadly.

Thereafter bowlers such as John Snow and Bob Willis had to do it all alone with the support cast being not as good to be acclaimed in the same breath as Trueman and Statham.

Anderson is likely to follow in the footsteps of Snow and Willis. The last pair that toiled hard and delivered the goods was Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick. The Yorkshireman was a sort of a `power bowler' who bowled fast and bounced out batsmen. Anderson is subtler, and yet good enough to uproot the stump from its base. He showed it when Yousuf Youhana closed his bat and turned back the next moment to hear the sound of timber.

England's new find took four Namibian wickets for just 25 runs. It was his and England's first match in the competition at Port Elizabeth after the ECB fell in line with the team's thinking and forfeited four points to Zimbabwe. Anderson had taken 13 wickets from nine matches of the VB series in Australia. His dream came true when, in less than six months time, he progressed from being a Lancashire seconds player to an ECB Academy trainee in Adelaide and finally to the England team. The World Cup selection came immediately and the good work he did in Australia won him the spurs and a place in the England team for the event in South Africa.

Luck plays an important role and Anderson was fortunate that he was in Australia and Rod Marsh spoke highly about his talent. He flew to MCG and took the wicket of Adam Gilchrist. "We had a real scrap (with Australia) in some matches. At the end of the day I want the other teams to be wary of England," said Duncan Fletcher on the eve of the big match at Newlands.

Not for once did Fletcher suggest that England would beat Pakistan, a team he described as "world class" with top-class players. Pakistan had been bowled out for 43 ten years ago by the West Indies at the same ground, but was looking for its sixth straight win over England. In fact, Pakistan began well with Wasim Akram taking the wicket of Marcus Trescothick and Waqar Younis dispatching Nick Knight and captain Nasser Hussain.

Shoaib Akhtar, too, had cause for celebration when he saw the giant scoreboard flashing figures of 161 kmph plus which conveyed that for the second time in his career he had clocked 100 miles per hour. Akhtar took the wickets of Michael Vaughan, who played a strokeful and attractive 52 (92m, 64b, 7x4s). England, which faced a crisis of sorts right through its innings, eventually made 246 in 50 overs. Paul Collingwood made a fighting unbeaten 66 (112m, 73b, 4x4s) and deserved all the accolades. Akram was left one short of his 500th wicket.

Anderson arrived on the scene after Shahid Afridi had clobbered Caddick for a six and immediately nicked one to Alec Stewart. Anderson's line was so wayward in the first over that Stewart could not get anywhere to stop a `down the leg side' ball from speeding for four wides. Anderson struck the big blow off his 11th ball. The outswinger pitched a trifle wide, opened up Inzamam and made him edge to Nick Knight at third slip. Genuine outswingers are always tough to negotiate and Youhana would admit it. He had no clue to an Anderson delivery that drifted towards the leg stump, swerved in and then crashed into the middle stump.

Hussain did not stop the young fellow, who probably wanted more after tasting success. He gave him 10 overs in a row and by the 18th over Anderson had gobbled up two more batsmen — Saeed Anwar and Rashid Latif. He finished his spell with figures of 10-2-29-4, a great effort that even outclassed Akhtar's contest with the speed gun. Anderson won the `Man of the Match' award and was ably supported by Caddick, Flintoff and Craig White.

Akhtar smashed a 16-ball 43 with five fours and three sixes and Pakistan's last pair added 54 runs, but by that time the match was virtually over. Alec Stewart showed that even at 40, he could still sprint 30 yards and take a skier. In the end there was all-round praise for Anderson's superb spell. ''What I liked about him (Anderson) was that he was listening to the coach. We thought there was no harm in trying a yorker length to Yousuf because he has the habit of shuffling. Everyone got into it straight away and the plans the coach put down were spot-on. It's a very good performance. Collingwood is proving to be a very good player, a finisher which we have not had in the England side for a while," said Hussain.

The scores:

England: M. Trescothick c Latif b Wasim 1; N. Knight c Razzaq b Waqar 15; M. Vaughan c Younis Khan b Shoaib 52; N. Hussain c Latif b Waqar 8; A. Stewart b Afridi 30; P. Collingwood (not out) 66; A. Flintoff st. Latif b Saqlain 26; C. White c Younis Khan b Afridi 15; A. Giles c Afridi b Saqlain 17; A. Caddick (not out) 3. Extras (lb-1, nb-5, w-7) 13. Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 246.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-45, 3-59, 4-110, 5-118, 6-160, 7-194, 8-223.

Pakistan bowling: Wasim Akram 10-1-37-1, Shoaib Akhtar 9-1-63-1, Waqar Younis 7-0-37-2, Saqlain Mushtaq 10-0-44-2, Shahid Afridi 8-0-36-2, Abdul Razzaq 6-0-28-0.

Pakistan: S. Anwar lbw b Anderson 29; S. Afridi c Stewart b Caddick 6; Inzamam-ul-Haq c Knight b Anderson 0; Y. Youhana b Anderson 0; Younis Khan c Stewart b Flintoff 5; A. Razzaq b White 11; R. Latif c Stewart b Anderson 0; Wasim c Giles b White 7; Saqlain (not out) 12; Waqar c Knight b White 2; Shoaib b Flintoff 43. Extras (b-4, lb-4, w-11) 19. Total (in 31 overs) 134.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-17, 3-17, 4-52, 5-59, 6-59, 7-71, 8-78, 9-80.

England bowling: Caddick 7-0-27-1, Anderson 10-2-29-4, Flintoff 9-2-37-2, White 5-0-33-3.