Melbourne: England’s swing king James Anderson began his international career as a 20-year-old at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and starts out on his fourth World Cup campaign at the same venue on Saturday.
Anderson, who is just four short of beating Ian Botham’s England Test record of 383 wickets, will be his team’s star man as they set out against the odds to land their first World Cup title.
Much depends on the 32-year-old Lancastrian to inspire his country with his masterful swing bowling and end their one-day torment against Australia.
Anderson confessed to being grateful of just playing for his country back in 2002 when he appeared for England for the first time at the MCG.
“The 20-year-old version of me was that I was just happy to be there and enjoying the occasion,” he recalled Friday.
“I guess the abuse at the time was a bit of a shock, and tomorrow it won’t be.
“I know now that you just have to enjoy occasions like these, to play at the MCG in front of a full house against Australia in a World Cup is something every player dreams of and we’re all so excited about tomorrow, can’t wait.”
While England are not among the pundits’ main contenders to win the World Cup final at the MCG on March 29, Anderson remains the eternal optimist that England can indeed land the big one this time.
“Obviously, the last few World Cups have been very unsuccessful from our point of view, but this time there is a real difference in the belief that we’ve got,” he said.
“I think there is a genuine belief that we can surprise a few teams. We feel confident that we can beat anyone if we play our best.
“In a tournament like this it’s all about qualifying for the quarter-finals and you’re three matches away from winning the World Cup.
“We’re really keen on getting off to a good start tomorrow and hopefully everything will take care of itself after that.”
Anderson realises the huge responsibility he carries for England in the tournament.
“My job is to start well with the new ball, quite often bowl in the power play and at the death as well,” he said.
“In the last three weeks I’ve bowled reasonably well up front, got wickets and kept the runs down, but the game can turn really quickly.
“You have to make the most of being in form and getting the little rubs of the green.”
Anderson has the ability to swing the new ball both ways with no apparent change in action and along with his impeccable control against both right and left-handers it makes him a handful, especially in favourable conditions.
He is among the top wicket-takers in the first ten overs in ODIs over the last couple of years and has become adept at bowling in a more defensive fashion.
In 188 ODIs Anderson has captured 264 wickets at 28.84 and is currently the ICC’s fourth-ranked bowler. (AFP)