How James Anderson came to be known as the Burnley Express

James Anderson celebrates his 600th test wicket

Has there ever been another professional sports player to share a name with the local newspaper? Cricketer James Anderson has been known universally as the Burnley Express for as long as anyone can remember — except maybe for the team at the other Burnley Express, who have known him far longer. Edward Lee, of the original Burnley Express, picks up the story

The best international seam bowler of all time, James Michael Anderson has long been known as the “Burnley Express”.

But who gave him the nickname — the other Burnley Express, in the shape of young sports reporter Craig Salmon, of course!

In the late 1990s the Express still had reporters covering games at four Lancashire League clubs and Craig was largely detailed to follow Burnley.

Stories started coming from the Turf Moor ground about a young fast bowler, surely the next Burnley player to represent England.

I had been sports editor for a decade and covering local sport for nearly two. The next big thing popped up every couple of months.

James Anderson, pictured second left at the back, while in the team at Burnley Cricket Club

But I knew of Anderson, I had reported on both his brother and uncle as they played for the Burnley club and the young Anderson had sent my son’s stumps flying on more than one occasion in junior cricket.

He hadn’t been playing first team cricket long when Craig named him the “Burnley Express” — an homage to his home town, his genuine pace of the day and a nod in the general direction of the fastest bowler of the day, Shoaib Akhtar otherwise the “Rawalpindi Express” and the first bowler recorded at producing a 100mph delivery.

How the Burnley Express covered the 600th wicket in last Friday’s paper

Things moved quickly for Jimmy — let’s hope his mum and dad aren’t reading, they still insist he is called James — and in 2002 he was plucked from an England A training camp in Australia (from where he wrote a Burnley Express column) to make his ODI debut for England before he had even earned his county cap.

From that sunny day in Melbourne has bowling style has changed incredibly and while he is now world-renowned as the King of Swing, the “Burnley Express” nickname follows him around the world.

The first seam bowler to reach 600 test wickets, how many more are to follow?

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