Corey Anderson a natural sportsman
Corey Anderson's first domestic coach almost did a double-take after watching his record-breaking century against the West Indies.
South African Dave Nosworthy, who is now director of cricket at English county side Somerset, was in charge of Canterbury when Anderson became the eighth youngest player to make his first class debut in 2006, aged 16 years, 89 days.
Nosworthy recalls standing by the boundary at Christchurch Boys' High's No 1 ground and witnessing a sturdy young lad decimating First XI bowling attacks. The scenes were not too different in Queenstown on New Year's Day when Anderson broke Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi's record for the quickest one-day international hundred off 36 balls. Anderson went on to score 131 not out from 47 deliveries, which included 14 sixes and six fours.
It was an incredible display of power hitting from the 23-year-old in just his seventh ODI, but it didn't come as too much of a shock to Nosworthy. Very little has surprised him about Anderson's cricketing talent since first meeting the explosive all-rounder as a teenager.
"It didn't really astound me because I knew he was going to have that ability one day and it was going to happen at some stage.
"It happened a lot earlier than most of us expected. It was devastating stuff, flooding back from memories of him as a schoolboy. I saw him doing that against schoolboys."
The past three months have been a whirlwind ride for Anderson. It started with a century away to Bangladesh in October in only his second test. He then showed his massacre of the West Indies' bowlers was far from a one-off with a dazzling 68 not out from 40 balls in Sunday's opening ODI victory over India. He threatened Sanath Jayasuriya's record (17 balls) for the fastest ODI fifty in the second game on Wednesday before falling for 44 off 17 balls.
Those displays have captured the attention of Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 sides and could see Anderson become an overnight millionaire at the February 12 auction.
Anderson's career hasn't always been plain sailing, though. During his time in the Canterbury first-class side he battled to stay on the park, struggling initially with shoulder injuries, which required surgery, and then a recurring groin problem.
Midway through 2011, Anderson said he needed a change in scenery to re-invigorate his cricket and made the move to Northern Districts.
He was not offered a contract in his first season with ND, having to prove himself and fight his way into the side.
ND's then coach, Grant Bradburn, said they worked closely on developing Anderson's resilience with his bowling. He also took on more of a professional approach with his nutrition and conditioning. Anderson quickly shed 20kg upon arriving at ND, while maintaining his core strength, which has been crucial to his improved play.
"I remember having a go at him quite often for his little lunchbox he'd always bring with his sweets and goodies from home," Nosworthy said.
"Those were the things he needed to be a bit more disciplined on. He had the potential to be a big lad. He's clearly controlled those things. He knows his body now. He trains hard and he's as strong as ever."
Bradburn felt the turning point for Anderson came when he racked up 167 in a Plunket Shield four-day game against Otago in November, 2012 - his first century for ND.
"He utilised his power in the right way to produce performance rather than just stand there and hit the ball," Bradburn said. "He now has the real ability to think through an innings tactically and play some significant innings in a variety of situations."
Anderson's prodigious cricket skills were apparent from an early age. As a 12-year-old in 2003, he captained a Cobham Intermediate side, also containing future Black Cap Tom Latham, to the finals of the national primary schools competition. In the semifinal, Cobham were set 190 to win from 35 overs after a century from Tauranga's Otumoetai Intermediate skipper - future New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson. Not to be outdone, Anderson clubbed eight sixes as he scored 100 not out to lead his team to victory. They were eventually beaten in the final.
Cobham teacher and cricket coach at the time, Richard Busfield, admits Anderson caused the school's neighbours headaches with his powerful hitting at lunchtime.
"One year, he lost 14 cricket balls. His mother brought in about a dozen brand new cricket balls for Cobham.
"I've never seen someone hit a ball so hard and so true. It's a dream being realised now."
Anderson made his first XI debut at Christchurch Boys' at the end of fourth form and it didn't take long for him to make an impact.
On an end of season tour to Australia in 2006, the 15-year-old destroyed their All Saints College opponents from Bathurst, smacking 146 runs from 90 balls - his first hundred for the side.
Neil Fletcher, who was Christchurch Boys' XI coach at the time, said Anderson was a bowling all-rounder when he came into the team, but his batting exploits were evident for all to see.
"He was always up for the big games. We play Auckland Grammar every year and he put one in Mt Eden Prison, which is quite a big hit from their ground. It was about 90m. I don't think it's ever been done before."
Fletcher said Anderson was an integral figure in the Boys' High team, who won consecutive national secondary school titles between 2005 and 2007.
There weren't many flaws in his batting, apart from his tendency to get out caught at cow corner (between deep mid wicket and long on).
With the ball, he was sharp, attending a national schoolboy fast bowling competition in 2007, where he was clocked at 138 kmh in the preliminary rounds.
Anderson has strong sporting genes with his media shy parents, Grant and Lynda who were reluctant to be interviewed by The Press, both proficient in their youth. Grant competed in the 100 and 200m sprints and 4x100m relay at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, while Lynda was a talented netballer.
Christchurch Boys' rugby and cricket co-ordinator Stephen Dods said Anderson also excelled at rugby and athletics at high school and could have easily gone down those paths if it wasn't for his love of cricket.
He was an outstanding No 8 in the junior ranks at Boys' High and was earmarked for the First XV and Canterbury age-group sides.
Anderson holds the school's under-15 record for discus, beating former All Black Daryl Gibson's old mark with a 44.78m throw. As a fourth former, he was first in the school's under-15 discus, shot put and javelin events. He also fared well at the Canterbury secondary school athletics championships, a year earlier, winning the 12-13 year olds' discus with a 36.95m effort and placing fourth in the shot put.
Dods remembers a nine-year-old Anderson tagging along to the Boys' High nets, which were around the corner from the family home, with older brother, Cameron.
"He used to get in the nets and smash guys in the first 11 and some of the senior boys around. He'd have them on toast," he laughed. "He used to live in those cricket nets."
Mike Johnston, who coached Anderson in the Canterbury under-19 team and at senior level with Old Boys Collegians, said he was always amazed by his hand-eye co-ordination and timing with the bat.
He recounts one under-19 game against Northern Districts at Lincoln's Bert Sutcliffe Oval, where a 17-year-old Anderson dominated against Tim Southee and Trent Boult.
Johnston described Anderson as a humble young man, who was always eager to listen and mature beyond his years.
It's that kind of demeanour, Bradburn believes will hold him in good stead with whatever the IPL and his international career throws at him.
"He's a well balanced person off the park. I think he'll have his head screwed on. I think he's got a wonderful career ahead of him."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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