Anderson glad to be back sharing his wisdom (but only in the middle)

Jimmy Anderson is almost unrecognisable from the diffident fast bowler who spent the first few years of his England career wondering whether he would ever feel fully confident and completely comfortable on the international stage. Almost, but not quite.

In one respect, Anderson has changed very little: he still struggles to express himself quite as fluently as he would like when confronted by a pack or cricket reporters, armed with tape recorders and questions. But at least he can laugh about that now, rather than retreating further into his shell.

The fact remains, anyone popping into the Rose Bowl yesterday and eavesdropping on what public relations people like to call a media opportunity might have found it difficult to appreciate that the chap being ever so gently grilled is not only seldom short of a word in the middle but has also become a leader of men.

"I'm a different bloke when I've not got these things [tape recorders] and you guys in front of me," said Anderson with a smile when asked to explain his personality changes. And so he is, clearly. It was obvious to everyone that England missed their most experienced bowler during the drawn Lord's Test. But, perhaps less evident, the side strain that prevented Anderson from facing Sri Lanka also deprived Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Steve Finn of someone who has become a guiding light in the pace union.

Barring any late relapse, Anderson will be back to lead the attack into tomorrow's third and final match of this summer's opening series. And, far from feeling under pressure, the boy from Burnley will relish carrying that load.

"Having extra responsibility means I must set the tone when I take the first over," said Anderson. "I've got to lead from the front and set an example for other people to follow. That added responsibility and pressure has helped me to become more consistent."

Anderson has never been more consistent than he was during last winter's Ashes series. True, Alastair Cook earned most headlines for his wonderful impersonation of a run machine but 24 wickets from the ever present Anderson went a long, long way towards putting Australia in their place.

It was all a far cry from the days when Anderson toured as an understudy to the likes of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hogggard and Andrew Flintoff. If there had been a prize for bowling most balls at one stump on the edge of the square during lunch and tea intervals then he would have won it hands down.

The big breakthrough, especially psychologically, came during the 2008 tour of New Zealand. England dropped both Harmison and Hoggard after losing a Test in Hamilton, thrust Anderson into the firing line and have been reaping the benefits of that decisions pretty much ever since.

He had played 20 Tests before that, spread over five years, but never looked like a permanent fixture. Now, as Anderson prepares to win his 59th cap and aims to add to 215 wickets, there is no doubt about his importance to the side. Or his willingness to get stuck into the opposition with word and deed.

The England moment of the last 12 months, as voted for by users of a social networking site, was not the series-winning wicket in Australia or even Cook's double hundred at Brisbane but Anderson's verbal joust with Mitchell Johnson in Perth.

Not many innings go by without Anderson and an opposition batsman exchanging a few words. But, far from distracting England's senior bowler, those "debates" seem to galvanise him these days.

"In the past I often got quite emotional, lost concentration, got sucked into a battle with the opposition and not bowled very well," admitted Anderson. "What I've started to do over the last couple of years, and what I felt I did really well in Australia, was to be able to have a battle with the batsman but keep calm when it came to delivering the next ball."

It will be a surprise if Anderson does not have a few words to say to Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl. But passing on a few words of wisdom to his bowling partners may be even more useful, especially if their radar goes awry like it did in London last week.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all