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Few players have married skill and longevity to quite such staggering effect as James Anderson, who stands to overtake Alastair Cook as England’s most-capped Test cricketer this week, if selected for his 162nd appearance against New Zealand in the second Test at Edgbaston.
But, as he reflected on his 18-year journey from a raw but successful debut against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in 2003, Anderson admitted that his initial reaction to the big stage was one of intense self-doubt, as he questioned his right to be there at all.

“I thought I wasn’t good enough,” Anderson said, as he recalled how his first over, from the Nursery End at Lord’s, was picked off by Zimbabwe’s openers for 17 runs, including two fours and a three for Dion Ebrahim as he strayed too close to the right-hander’s pads.

“I thought it was a huge step up from county cricket,” Anderson added. “I remember Nasser [Hussain] didn’t have a fine leg for me and I went for quite a few runs. My first ball was a no-ball as well so there were a lot of nerves there and I did feel like this was maybe a step too far for me at that point.”

Anderson soon settled into his spell, however, and after striking in his third over to bowl Mark Vermeulen through the gate for 1, he returned from the Pavilion End to pick off four quick wickets in the final 20 balls of the innings.

He left the field with figures of 5 for 73 to earn the first of his six entries on the Lord’s honours board, and begin his journey towards becoming the most successful fast bowler in history, with 616 wickets now to his name.

“I think I cleaned up the tail in that game,” he said. “Until you play against the best players in the world and you’ve got them out, only then do you feel like you can compete and belong there.”

That process, however, was not a swift one for Anderson, who slipped out of favour after a tough series against South Africa later that summer. He played a total of four Tests in 2004 and 2005 as England, under the new captaincy of Michael Vaughan, finetuned the four-pronged seam attack that would go on to reclaim the Ashes.

Throughout this period, Anderson cut a forlorn figure, often practising alone during lunch breaks at Test matches, and though he played an important role in a famous victory in Mumbai in 2005-06, his progress was further hampered by the diagnosis of a stress fracture in his back – an issue that was partially brought about by the ECB’s efforts to remodel his action, ironically to reduce the likelihood of injury.

“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve overcome little hurdles throughout my career and they’ve made me stronger,” he said. “The stress fracture was like hitting the re-set button I guess.

“I’d gone through a lot of changes in my action before that and that stress fracture was probably a Godsend. It made me go back to my old action and since then I’ve felt really comfortable and got more consistent. That’s really helped me and makes me feel proud I got stronger from that and never looked back.”

The pivotal moment, however, arguably came against Anderson’s current opponents, New Zealand, on England’s 2007-08 tour when – for the second Test at Wellington – he and Stuart Broad were thrust into the front line in place of Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison, to form a matchwinning partnership that has scarcely looked back since.

“We both look back on that Test with great fondness,” he said. “I think it was a proper starting point in our Test careers. The fact that Peter Moores, the coach at that time, showed that confidence in us, because he left out two senior bowlers who’d been extremely influential in the England side up until that point.

“He brought us in and gave us that responsibility, showed that faith in us. We still look back on that with great fondness and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Hopefully there will be a few more memories to come.”

Since that recall, Anderson has claimed 554 Test wickets at 25.17, compared to 62 at 39.20 in the first 20 matches of his career, spread across five years. He went on to play key roles in three consecutive Ashes victories from 2009 to 2013, and was also described as the “difference between the sides” by MS Dhoni when England won in India in 2012-13.

“It took a few years,” Anderson said. “I think it was about putting in some performances against the better sides in the world.



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Men’s Hundred – Eoin Morgan

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Middle order failing to fire, absence of three members of Test squad, Maxwell’s relatively late withdrawal hurt winless London Spirit

Few pundits backed London Spirit for the title in the inaugural season of the men’s Hundred but nobody whose memory stretched as far back as 2008 was willing to write them off. Playing in blue from head to toe, with Shane Warne as head coach and an unfancied squad? There were enough parallels with the Rajasthan Royals side that won the first-ever IPL to suggest they might just pull something improbable out the bag.

But five games into their first season, the Spirit have been the Hundred’s weakest side. They are the only side in the men’s competition yet to win a game, and were thrashed in their fourth and final home fixture (one was a washout) by Northern Superchargers on Tuesday night. The table is still tight enough that they are mathematically in the running, but any realistic chances of qualifying for knockout stages have dissipated.

Their first three defeats were all tight, with each game going down to the final set of five balls. At Edgbaston, they were just short of par in setting Birmingham Phoenix 145 to win, and in the home losses against Trent Rockets and Southern Brave, they were two boundaries away from getting across the line.



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Bangladesh vs Australia T20Is, 2021

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The 1994 tour to Pakistan was the last time a full series was not available to viewers in Australia

For the first time since 1994 a tour by the Australia men’s team will not broadcast into Australia after a last-minute deal failed to materialise for the rights to the T20I series in Bangladesh.

It had been hoped that in the absence of a traditional television deal the series would be streamed on YouTube but there was no live coverage into Australia.

Australia’s injured captain Aaron Finch, who is currently in hotel quarantine in Melbourne having left the tour with a knee injury, was among those caught out by the lack of coverage during the first T20I.

While the occasional one-off limited-overs match has not been seen in Australia over the last few years, it is not since the 1994 tour of Pakistan that an entire series won’t have been shown.



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IPL 2021 – Eoin Morgan to return to Kolkata Knight Riders for second half of IPL

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He says involvement of other England players in the tournament, scheduled in September-October in the UAE, was a matter of personal choice

Eoin Morgan has confirmed he will return to Kolkata Knight Riders for the rescheduled second half of the IPL in the UAE in September-October following the postponement of England’s limited-overs tour to Bangladesh.

England were due to play three ODIs and three T20Is in Bangladesh in September-October but the ECB and the BCB released statements on Tuesday morning confirming that they had “mutually decided” to postpone the tour until March 2023. The IPL is due to resume on September 19 after its postponement midway through the season earlier this year, with the tour’s postponement opening up the opportunity for England’s white-ball players to take part ahead of the T20 World Cup in the UAE.



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