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