Anderson eager for Newlands return

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The Independent Online

James Anderson is preparing to return to the scene of one of his most memorable performances for England.

The fast bowler was only months into his international career - with barely a year of first-class cricket behind him - when his pace and swing mesmerised Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup at Newlands.

Figures of four for 29 brought him a man-of-the-match award and England a 112-run victory - and the 27-year-old still recalls the occasion with great pride.

"It was a brilliant day for me," he remembered, as he relaxed between England's opening one-day international victory over South Africa at Centurion and their next match on Friday at Newlands.

"I'd only played a few games for England by then.

"It was the first game my family managed to see me play for England - which made it even more special.

"Then to get man of the match topped off a fantastic day for me."

Anderson has had his ups and downs since. But with 118 ODI matches - and 42 Tests - on his CV, he is established as the leader of England's attack.

"I was just running in and enjoying the moment back then, not really thinking about too much and not really feeling any of the pressure," he said.

"Now it's a little bit different. There's a bit of extra pressure."

Part of that pressure is expectation, and many presume it will fall to Anderson to strike the big blows for England this winter.

Among them will be the task of regularly unseating South Africa's captain and opening batsman Graeme Smith.

It is a mission whose importance Anderson readily acknowledges.

"Being the captain, he's a true leader and a real key to their batting order," he points out.

"If we can get him out early - which we did the other day - it really opens up the rest of the batting order."

England are currently on a rather unlikely winning streak against South Africa - they have beaten them in six successive ODIs, dating back to September last year - and Anderson is unsurprisingly hoping it continues.

"Obviously, we want to test ourselves against the best teams in the world - which South Africa are at the minute," he said.

"Winning the first game in any series is a massive thing.

"If we can win the next one, we can't lose the series - and it builds momentum not just for this series but obviously into the Test matches.

"When you get on a good streak - for example, the (one-day) series against Australia in England (last summer) when they got on top of us - it can be hard for people to come back.

"We know it could be similar for South Africa if we can get on top in this series."