The numerals ‘384’ were emblazoned on the scoreboard at Turf Moor, symbolising the remarkable achievement of Burnley Cricket Club’s former amateur bowler James Anderson.
The 32-year-old usurped Sir Ian Botham as England’s most prolific wicket taker in Test matches when dismissing West Indies pair Marlon Samuels and Dinesh Ramdin on day five in Antigua.
That numeric celebration of Anderson’s haul from the 14-time Lancashire League champions had to be dismantled ahead of Burnley’s capture of the Ron Singleton Colne Trophy as they beat rivals Lowerhouse by eight wickets.
But the one-time St Theodore’s RC High School pupil’s record will be forever immortalised in the history books. The Lancashire paceman, affectionately known as the “Burnley Express”, set a new mark for future generations to aspire to in his 100th Test.
After ending Botham’s reign, which had spanned 23 years, Anderson told Nasser Hussain: “It’s been an incredible journey for me to get this far. There were times when I never thought I’d play for England again after getting dropped and getting injured so I’m just delighted to be here now.
“It’s not in my character to give up. I was always determined. I had a taste of it from a young age and I was always determined to get myself back in to the England team and stay there.”
While Anderson induced an edge from Ramdin, which resulted in the opposition captain being caught in slip by Alastair Cook, England had to settle for a stalemate as the first Test culminated at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
However, that failed to dampen Anderson’s mood after being congratulated by his predecessor: “I saw him as I left the field which was nice. He congratulated me and mentioned something about alcohol and sharing a glass. He said he’s got a nice bottle waiting for me at home which was really kind of him.”
Meanwhile, Botham said: “He is a quite magnificent bowler and these guys don’t come along every five minutes. I think he’ll go on for maybe another two or three years, he could get to 450-plus wickets easily. They’ve got 16 more Test matches this year.”
Anderson has left homegrown stars such as Botham, Bob Willis, Fred Trueman, Derek Underwood and Stuart Broad in his wake, though he’s still got some work to do to climb the overall charts. Anderson is currently 14th among the globe’s elite, which is led by Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan who registered an astonishing tally of 800 Test wickets.
“I don’t think anything prepares you for the emotions that you feel at a time like that,” beamed Anderson’s dad, Michael, who owns an opticians in Lyndhurst Road. “For someone who was a hero of most young lads playing cricket when I was playing, for your own son to pass his record...it just hasn’t sunk in yet. It was nice to have all the family and close friends all around us at the time. It was a special moment.”