Club Spot­light

Jimmy Booker heads into Lan­cashire and lo­cates the home­town club of an Eng­land Test hero

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS -

Jimmy An­der­son’s Burn­ley is our club of the week

While its Turf Moor ground is not quite the same rau­cous caul­dron of in­tim­i­da­tion as its foot­balling name­sake just yards away, the home of Burn­ley CC boasts a rich and proud his­tory.

Burn­ley were a founder mem­ber of the Lan­cashire League in 1892, and also the home­town club of Eng­land’s all-time lead­ing Test wicket-taker Jimmy An­der­son, known af­fec­tion­ately as “the Burn­ley Ex­press”.

David Brown, back play­ing for the first team af­ter re­tir­ing from the pro­fes­sional game fol­low­ing stints at Glouces­ter­shire and Glam­or­gan, has been able to chart the club’s growth in re­cent years.

And it is An­der­son’s in­flu­ence that has played a key role in the club’s pro­gres­sion – when the Eng­land seamer’s di­ary al­lows it.

“Jimmy has gone to the very top of the game, and that is in­spi­ra­tional to all the younger play­ers who are at the club,” said Brown, whose brother Michael is also back at the club as pres­i­dent.

“When Jimmy came down for our pres­i­dents’ day game, a lot of young­sters came down to see him and get au­to­graphs.

“He is ab­so­lutely first class. He doesn’t get much time to spend at home with his fam­ily, never mind the cricket club, but he does make the ef­fort and when we ask him if he could do some­thing, he does.

“He helps the club in a lot of ways and sup­ports the club – it helps he’s still got friend­ships down there from back in the day, which is another in­cen­tive for him to come down.

“We’re very lucky that not only did he play for us but he’s com­mit­ted to help­ing us go­ing for­ward.”

You’d be for­given for think­ing a young An­der­son would hold all the bowl­ing records at the club, but that ac­co­lade be­longs to for­mer West Indies pace­man Char­lie Grif­fith.

Grif­fith formed a dev­as­tat­ing open­ing bowl­ing part­ner­ship with Wes Hall in the Six­ties at Test match level and the sta­tis­tics from his time at Burn­ley in the 1964 sea­son were jaw-drop­ping: he took 144 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 5.20!

Pro­fes­sion­als down the years at Burn­ley in­clude for­mer Pak­istan opener and coach Mu­das­sar Nazar, South African all-rounder Dale Benken­stein and Der­byshire and War­wick­shire spin­ner Ant Botha.

Benken­stein, ac­cord­ing to Brown, was a model pro­fes­sional whose com­mit­ment has not been for­got­ten in Lan­cashire.

“He was what you wanted as an over­seas pro,” Brown said. “He re­ally in­vested in the young play­ers.

“He took the U17 side and had a re­ally great im­pact on the club – he’s fondly re­mem­bered here.”

Brown said that the club’s close prox­im­ity to the foot­ball ground is an added ad­van­tage for rev­enue, with the club­house do­ing more trade on foot­ball match days.

“We’re try­ing to in­vest from a cricket and so­cial per­spec­tive,” he said. “We’ve ren­o­vated the con­fer­ence suite. We’ve just built new nets, which means we can play all year round.

“We’ve in­vested in coaches as well, we’ve got John Abra­hams, the for­mer Eng­land U19 coach and head of ECB youth de­vel­op­ment, as the head of ju­nior coach­ing.

“In the Eight­ies and Nineties we were as much a so­cial club as cricket club, and that’s im­per­a­tive for an am­a­teur club to sur­vive.

“You’ve got to have peo­ple who want to pop in and have a pint and put a bit of money be­hind the bar.

“We’re try­ing to pro­vide the best fa­cil­i­ties, the best coach­ing and a path­way to play­ing se­nior cricket. That’s ul­ti­mately what’s go­ing to at­tract tal­ented young­sters to the club.

“Burn­ley gave me the op­por­tu­nity to play first-team cricket be­fore I was prob­a­bly good enough, and that ul­ti­mately helped me play at a higher level later on.

“It feels like home when you go out and bat, it’s some­thing you re­mem­ber from when you were young.

“You look for­ward to play­ing with fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings and fa­mil­iar faces. Ul­ti­mately, cricket is about en­joy­ment, and that’s what the club pro­vides.”

The suc­cess on the field has been ap­par­ent in re­cent sea­sons, with Burn­ley achiev­ing an un­prece­dented quadru­ple in 2015 of Lan­cashire League, Wors­ley Cup, T20 Cup and the Ron Sin­gle­ton Colne Tro­phy.

They re­tained the Wors­ley Cup this sea­son – their fourth suc­ces­sive ti­tle – while com­ing se­cond in the Lan­cashire League to Rams­bot­tom.

If re­cent per­for­mances are any­thing to go by, the fu­ture is bright at Turf Moor

Pro­fes­sion­als down the years at Burn­ley in­clude for­mer Pak­istan opener and coach Mu­das­sar Nazar, all-rounder Dale Benken­stein and spin­ner Ant Botha

Force: Burn­ley’s 1964 team, fea­tur­ing Char­lie Grif­fith, se­cond from the left, front row

Homegrown tal­ent: Burn­ley are Eng­land bowler Jimmy An­der­son’s home­town club

For­mer pro: Dale Benken­stein

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