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Cricket legend's ex-teammate reveals moment people realised he had something special

Anderson is England's highest wicket-taker in history.
Anderson is England's highest wicket-taker in history.

A friend of record-breaking English cricket legend and former Burnley CC player, James Anderson, has revealed how good the bowler was at a young age.

Former Burnley CC chairman and player Michael Brown - who played with Anderson from under 13s level to the first team - says he was "wowed" by a young Anderson's pace after he returned for winter nets at 15-years-old.

This comes as the veteran Lancashire player is set to play his last test for England today (July 10) against the West Indies at Lords.

The Burnley-born swing bowler has 700 wickets for his country, the most of any Englishmen and third most of any bowler, with 188 caps including today's test.

"It wasn't until he got to around 15 years old that his pace began to pick up by a few notches," Mr Brown said.

Anderson (bottom row, second from right) in a young Burnley Cricket Club team (Image: Michael Brown)

He added: "He came back from winter nets and we were like 'wow', he was so obviously quicker than the previous year.

"But then from 15 to 18 years old he just got better and was improving in leaps and bounds."

Mr Brown, a former county cricket opening batsman, also recalled how Anderson made his way into Burnley's first team at 15 years old and was getting the likes of West Indian international, Roger Harper, out.

Mr Brown added: "At 18 years old he was still raw, but the professional players were the only ones that could get near the balls he was delivering to actually get caught out."

Anderson, now 41 years old, made his England test debut in 2003, before overtaking Sir Ian Botham as England's highest wicket-taker in 2015.

Sometimes referred to as 'The Burnley Lara', referencing the great West Indian batsman, Brian Lara, Anderson's ability with the bat has gained him a cult status among England fans with his signature reverse sweep shot.

Although frequently batting down the order and averaging less than nine runs an inning with England, Mr Brown still believes Anderson "has a batter's mindset".

He added: "He could bat when he was younger, I just think when you're that good of a bowler at a young age you get pigeon-holed into becoming a bowler, and fair enough nobody is complaining when he gets 700 wickets."

Paying tribute to his former teammate Mr Brown finished by saying: "I think he's England's greatest ever bowler, the longevity to still be going at 41 is incredible.

"His control is amazing, lots of bowlers have spells where they are on top but the amount of times he has unplayable spells sets him apart in my opinion."

Mr Brown, along with some of Anderson's former teammates, will be cheering him on during his swansong in London this week.

"He's certainly one of the best sportsmen from Burnley!" Mr Brown added.