He's the good-looking lad from Burnley whose brilliance on the pitch and good looks have drawn comparisons with David Beckham and who has established himself as one of the most exciting cricketers in world. In his first book, James Anderson (or Jimmy, as everyone knows him) tells the story of his life in cricket.
This is without a doubt one of the best cricket memoirs I've read. Too many cricket books are just bland retellings of a player's great performances and how they got into cricket, with no juicy behind the scenes gossip. This book is very different! Jimmy tells us honestly what he thought of his captains and coaches through the years, and talks in detail about the men who tried to mess with his bowling action. He has stories about other players, the atmosphere in the dressing room and the mistakes that he thinks were made with the England team. He discusses bad selections and bad decisions and is honest about his opinions on everything. There is also plenty of Jimmy's dry humour.
Lets start with the captains and coaches. Jimmy was a big fan of working with Nasser Hussain, who he felt believed in him as a player and helped his development. He didn't feel the same about Michael Vaughan or Troy Cooley who continually messed with Jimmy's action. He felt that Duncan Fletcher had little time for him or the other bowlers and that it was Peter Moores who saved his career. This was fascinating to read about and it explains why Jimmy was out of the England team for so long.
Jimmy has lots of juicy stories to tell-the dressing room cliques that poisoned the atmosphere in the 2005 dressing room, the post Ashes ego clash to show off who had the best sponsership deals, the drinking culture under Fred's captaincy, the disciplinary problems in the team including Jimmy's own curfew exploits, the truth about the Pedalo incident, the fights over the Stanford millions game, the Mumbai Massacre, and a lovely story about how Jimmy hit Michael Clarke with a cricket pad after the Adelaide Ashes game during the whitewash at the urging of Damien Martyn. Loved that bit!
He talks very directly about the choices he felt were wrong-including the obsession with keeping as many Ashes 2005 players in the team when better options were there ie Monty and Chris Read. Bowlers resented being dropped because of their batting, the team meetings focused on how to dress on the flight instead of the job in hand, Strauss losing the captaincy to Flintoff, Paul Collingwood's refusal to call back a Kiwi player in that bad tempered classic ODI game and the Darren Pattinson incident. LOTS of great stuff in these stories!
Jimmy's humour was well in evidence during the book. I loved his reaction to Duncan Fletcher leaving. "I was the personification of Switzerland with splinters in my bum".
This was a funny, entertaining and fascinating look behind the scenes of the most interesting period of English cricket. Congratulations Jimmy for giving the fans a proper book with all the gossip and issues that we want to read about.