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  Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 05:35 GMT
Anderson on fast track
James Anderson (centre)
Anderson (centre) had a fine season for Lancashire

At the start of the 2002 English season, James Anderson was one of many fledgling first-class cricketers just hoping to get noticed.

The rookie fast bowler's ambitions stretched no further than "maybe getting a few first-team games for Lancashire if there were injuries".

But a summer can be a long time in cricket, especially when you are a naturally gifted sportsman improving at a rate of knots.

Anderson could boast just five one-day games for Lancashire on his CV when he pulled on the blue of England to make his international debut against Australia in the VB Series.

Indeed, the 21-year-old's selection confirmed his reputation as one of the most precocious young talents in the country.

Anderson's is a name even some Lancashire fans would have had trouble putting a face to six months ago.

Stationed with the ECB Academy in Adelaide all winter, Anderson had become aware he was in selectors' thoughts.

ECB Academy director Rod Marsh
Marsh feels England must nurture their bowlers

"I know my name's been thrown around a bit but I'm just trying to concentrate on the Academy first and then see what happens," he told BBC Sport Online prior to his call-up.

"You never know if you're good enough until you get out there and start playing, but it's definitely something I would love to do if given the chance."

A call-up to the England starting XI is due reward for a hugely promising season at Old Trafford.

Eleven first-team games in the Championship brought 46 wickets and the promise of more to come.

"I started the season off slowly but gradually got better and broke through in the first team and started taking wickets.
As far as the Academy goes, it really wasn't something I'd considered

James Anderson

"At the start of the season I was just hoping to maybe get a few first-team games, and if there were people missing and if I got a chance hopefully I would take it.

"I was just concentrating on Lancashire and not even thinking about the Academy and certainly not playing for England."

Anderson, with his polite demeanour and slight, 6ft 2ins frame, does not cut the figure of the stereotypical fast bowler.

He is dwarfed by fellow fast-bowling Academian Chris Tremlett (6ft 7ins) - but looks can be deceiving.

Take no notice of his billing in the current edition of the Cricketers' Who's Who as medium-fast; Anderson is genuinely quick.

Anderson takes a wicket for Lancashire
Anderson strikes against Roses rivals Yorkshire

Having watched him destroy Somerset in a Championship game in August, Lancashire skipper Warren Hegg suggested Anderson was bowling as fast as anyone on the county circuit.

Many pacemen claim fast bowling was something they were born to do, but extra speed took Anderson by surprise.

"I've always bowled seam, but when I was about 17 I don't know what it was but I just started bowling fast all of a sudden.

"I just started getting stronger and bigger and something just happened."

With his international debut under his belt, Anderson can now turn his focus to the Test side.

"I think everyone who plays cricket wants to play for their country, and I'm no different."

England take on Australia and Sri Lanka


Group matches

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See also:

10 Sep 02 | England
20 Sep 02 | Warwickshire
28 Aug 02 | Counties
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