Officials ponder how to pace newcomer for the long run

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The Independent Online

England and Lancashire will join forces to nurture the talents of James Anderson against over-exposure during his emergence on the international cricket stage.

Both England's hierarchy and Old Trafford officials have been surprised at the speed of the 20-year-old's development from a Lancashire second teamer just over a year ago into the player who claimed 4 for 5 in 14 balls on Saturday to set up the hosts' innings and 92 runs victory in the opening Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's.

To ensure that he does not become the latest in a long line of talented young players who fail to establish themselves at the top level, Lancashire have already outlined the problems which could lie ahead.

"He's aware of the pitfalls," the county's coach Mike Watkinson stressed. "We've sat down with him and gone through all the problems and I believe he has the temperament to come through. He's smart enough to realise what can go wrong, that you can be built up and just as quickly knocked down.

"He's come a long way in a short time, but he has a solid background, a close family involved in local cricket, and he has developed through all the representative age groups and that's a good grounding.

"He appreciates that he has to stay focused, not get pulled in the wrong direction and to keep doing what he knows is right. I just hope no one expects him to fill Darren Gough's boots immediately," Watkinson added.

That is also the concern of England, whose chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said: "James will, hopefully, have a long and successful career for England, but what people must remember is that he's only 20 and he is going to have days when he is successful and days when he isn't. Let's hope we don't get into the English habit of building a young player up only to knock him down again.

"But from what I've seen of him so far he's a very impressive young man. I've seen him do television and radio interviews, and he always seems to handle them very well, but the people around him are going to have to look after him - and that applies to Lancashire as well as England."

Graveney was also delighted with the performance of Anderson's fellow Test newcomer Anthony McGrath, who followed up an impressive innings of 69 by claiming 3 for 16 with his seam bowling.

"He's a very honest lad and he's made it very clear that he has probably under-achieved in his career, having come through the same age groups as people like Michael Vaughan," Graveney said. "But over the last six months he's seen the light. Yorkshire have obviously seen that, which I'm sure is why they've made him captain this season, and he's perhaps a bit unfortunate because the scores at Headingley don't always reflect how well a batsman's playing."

Whether McGrath keeps his place in the squad to be named next weekend for the second Test at Durham, starting on 5 June, will depend on his ability to overcome a left-side strain, which forced him off the field during the final stages at Lord's.

But the injury is not expected to be serious enough to remove him from England's Test selection plans and McGrath is also likely to be named in the one-day squad, which will be announced on Thursday.


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5 B Lara (WI) 834
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