England & Lancashire Ten years in Cricket.
Test3 0 7
ODI2 3 4
Twenty200 1 8
Total5 5 9
I began playing cricket for Burnley under 11s when I was nine, before making My First XI debut at the age of 15.
My first representative cricket came when I played for Lancashire Under 15B team and at the age of 17, I played for Lancashire Under 19s playing a few Second XI games. Aged 18, I was offered a professional contract by Lancashire.
This Is When My Life Changed…
I made my First team debut for Lancashire at the end of the 2001 season in a one-day game where I bowled a nervous four overs for 33 runs. The following season I made my first-class debut at Old Trafford against Surrey and did well enough to earn an extended run in the side. I finished the season with 50 first-class wickets, which saw me gain a place on the England Academy, based at Adelaide in Australia for the winter.
I was understandably apprehensive about going to Australia, as I hadn’t been away for home for such a long time before. But once I was there I really enjoyed the experience. After a good three months with the Academy I was an injury call-up to the England One-Day squad. This was another initially nervy experience but at the time I just thought I was in the squad as back-up cover, with only a slim chance of playing.
As these things tend to turn out, I was handed my ODI debut in the second game of the series against Australia at the MCG in front of a 50,000 crows, which was a huge thrill for me, especially when picking up Adam Gilchrist as my first international wicket. I went on to play the rest of the games in that series and was selected for the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
My best performance in the World Cup came at Cape Town against Pakistan where I took 4-29. What made this extra special was that it was the first England game my family had seen me play.
I made my Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in 2003, taking 11 wickets in a two-nil series win. I took a hat-trick against Pakistan at The Oval in that same summer’s ODI series, then helped England to a four-nil Test series whitewash against West Indies in 2004.
In 2005 I spent most of the summer playing for Lancashire, taking 60 first-class wickets that season, forcing my way into the 12-man squad for the final Ashes Test of that famous series.
I missed the majority of the 2006 summer due to a stress fracture of the back but I managed to play a few games for Burnley at the end of the year, a season where the club won the league.
I was then selected for the Ashes tour of 2006/07 and after having a Test series to forget I started well in the ODIs, only for a recurrence of back problems to see me invalided home and told to get fit for the 2007 World Cup in West Indies.
On the back of an up-and-down couple of years, the summer of 2007 was a successful one. So much so, that I was awarded my first ECB Central Contract on the back of strong showings against India in both Tests
At the beginning of 2008, I was left out of the first Test of the tour to New Zealand, so decided to get in some practice playing NZ domestic cricket for Auckland. The tune-up did me a lot of good and saw me picked for the next Test where I claimed five wickets.
It was then our turn to host New Zealand in the summer of 2008 and I claimed my Test-best figures of 7-43 at Trent Bridge. I also registered my highest score with the bat in that series, making 28. Only to go past that mark against South Africa later in the summer, scoring 34. We lost the series two-one to the Proteas that summer but then went on to thrash them four-nil in the ODI series. As a batsman, I occasionally venture out to the middle as nightwatchman, but generally bat in the lower order. Curiously, I went 57 Test innings without making a duck, which is an England batting record and you’d have to say an unusual one to be held by a tailender.
England then went to the Caribbean in early 2009 and lost a tight, high-scoring Test series one-nil to Chris Gayle’s West Indies. But we managed to win a hard-fought ODI series in which I took nine wickets.
On my return from West Indies I was named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year for 2009, which was a huge honour. Then when West Indies returned to England for two Tests we managed to turn the tables on them and win the series convincingly, where I managed to pick up 9-125 in the second Test of the series. By now it felt that the side was on something of a roll and then won the ODIs that followed by the same two-nil margin.
The Ashes of 2010/11 was something of a highwater mark for me personally and also for this current England team. In taking 24 wickets in our three-one series win I became England’s second-highest wicket-taker on an Ashes tour Down Under, behind the legendary Frank Tyson.
More personal success in 2011 – and plenty of overs bowled – saw me rested for the winter one-dayers with India, which gave me one of the biggest breaks in my playing career so far. But that set me up with a very busy 2012.
In truth, 2012 was a mixed year. As a team, we didn’t play as well as we would have hoped and lost our Number 1 World Ranking to South Africa, but we finished the year on a massive high by winning the series in India. The first time that had been done since 1984/85.
On a personal front - it was a long but successful year. I ended it with 48 Test wickets and am now level with Ian Botham as having taken the most amount of International wickets by an Englishman – 528.