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New Zealand's latest power hitter is only 23 but he has overcome a series of challenges, including debilitating injuries, to get this far
January 9, 2014
Every so often a New Zealand sportsperson delivers a memorable turn of phrase.
World heavyweight boxing title challenger David Tua went on the Wheel of Fortune game show and asked to buy a vowel. "O for awesome," he said. That gem ended up on t-shirts.
Former All Blacks rugby captain Buck Shelford was dropped unexpectedly from the nation's most revered sports team in 1990. "Bring Back Buck" banners still appear at grounds.
Olympic gold medal-winning rower Nathan Cohen delivered a succinct "Yep, go" pep talk to partner Joe Sullivan heading into the last 500 metres of their double sculls final in London. They won, moving from last to first during the race. Cohen's remark had a good airing at mates' barbecues last summer.
Like the other phrases, Corey Anderson's admission that "shot, bro" was the principal dialogue he and Jesse Ryder shared in their 13.2-over blitzkrieg of West Indies in Queenstown, was also quintessentially Kiwi. Whether the phrase graduates from barbecues to t-shirts to folklore will depend on how the career of the fastest one-day international centurion unfolds.
Anderson produced a 3D wagon wheel - on his way to a century off 36 balls, and eventually an unbeaten 131 off 47 - that resembled a spider that might have starred in Arachnophobia. In fact, it was scarier. Fourteen legs protruded in the form of sixes from a tiny 23-run thorax of singles and twos.
Rarely has an innings of such grievous bowling harm come from a New Zealand bat. The first of the modern genre was Lance Cairns' six sixes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in February 1983, which included pasting Dennis Lillee one-handed over deep square leg. Another was Nathan Astle's 222, the fastest Test double-century, during a defeat to England in Christchurch in 2002. Brendon McCullum's 158 not out off 73 balls for Kolkata against Bangalore in the first IPL match, in 2008, also cemented his reputation as a power-hitter.
If last year's IPL auction is a gauge, relatively unknown players outside their country of origin - like Australians Glenn Maxwell and Kane Richardson and South African Chris Morris - can earn lucrative sums. Add in Anderson breaking Shahid Afridi's 17-year ODI century record and he should come to the bidding armed with a suitcase. He may thank Queenstown's inclement New Year's Day weather for the rest of his life.
A crucial hurdle stands between him and IPL riches: the Indian ODI series. The IPL auction is scheduled for February 12, at which point New Zealand will have played five ODIs against the visitors, matches beamed live into the homes of significant IPL decision-makers. There are no T20Is scheduled, so if Anderson sustains his form, he will be on the cusp of a career breakthrough.
His sporting pedigree is sound. Dad Grant was a sprinter at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch; Mum Linda was a top netballer. Anderson was useful in throwing events at Christchurch Boys' High School, alma mater to arguably the country's two finest Test pace bowling allrounders - Sir Richard Hadlee and Chris Cairns. Anderson fans can be grateful there is no "hitting" event in athletics.
Yet his story still contains an element of nothing-venture-nothing-win. The 23-year-old has overcome a series of debilitating injuries since his first-class debut aged 16 years and 89 days in 2006-07; the youngest New Zealand first-class cricketer in 59 seasons. As Anderson recovered he took a bold step breaking away from his Canterbury home. He wasn't under contract when he started with Northern Districts in 2011-12 but adapted well in their professional environment to progress his career.
Former New Zealand representative Grant Bradburn was Anderson's coach at ND; he also mentored him on this season's development tour to the subcontinent.
"Corey has developed hugely over the last couple of years to be fitter, stronger and more resilient," Bradburn says. "He is an explosive cricketer but has learned to trust that his body will be up to the rigours of the sport. I see him as a batting allrounder good enough to be in the top six in any format. As a bowler, he is certainly not a part-timer. He has pace and the ability to swing the ball or hit the wicket hard. As a fielder, he's dynamic in the inner ring, with a bullet arm."
|"People pigeonhole me as a limited-overs player. The pinnacle is still playing Test matches"|
Bradburn remembers a key moment when Anderson's mental maturity shone: "He scored a beautiful hundred in India [on the development tour] where he found a consistent tempo and stayed with it, rather than trying to bully the attack.
"The calmness he exuded was a credit to him because he had a habit of going well, then losing control and getting out too early."
Anderson's feats on the recent tour of Bangladesh pushed him ahead of Colin Munro in the race to secure the vacant Test allrounder berth, a problem compounded by Daniel Vettori's extended absence.
"New Zealand's probably been calling out for [a pace bowler allrounder] since Chris Cairns left," Anderson said after his ODI debut against England in Cardiff in June where one ball from James Tredwell was dispatched into the River Taff. "I've had a lot of injuries and my bowling has only come along in the last 18 months. If I can play more consecutive games over a couple of years I might become a genuine allrounder but for now I'm a batsman who bowls fourth change.
"Because I'm a harder hitter people pigeonhole me as a limited-overs player. The pinnacle is still playing Test matches."
Anderson made his debut century in his second Test. He was less compelling with the ball, taking three wickets at an average of 22 - there was a decent lbw but also two soft dismissals from wafts outside off stump. However, he's been consistent and, after the West Indies series, has contributed the useful sum of 11 wickets at 19.36 in five Tests.
Jacob Oram played his last Test in a similar role to Anderson during 2009. His biggest concern is ensuring Anderson avoids the same injury issues he suffered over a stop-start career. "I have empathy with him trying to stay on the park for sustained periods," Oram said. "As an allrounder, you're susceptible to more injuries because there is less downtime between batting and bowling. It's about trying to work out a balance so his body has a chance to rest."
Andrew Alderson is cricket writer at New Zealand's Herald on SundayFeeds: Andrew Alderson
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