<
>

'Is it Phillip Schofield?' - The enduring mystery of James Anderson's silver-fox barnet

White lightning: James Anderson runs in Getty Images

James Anderson's new steel grey hairstyle proved more eye-catching than his bowling in Lancashire's drawn County Championship match with Somerset at Old Trafford.

While Anderson took 1 for 137 in 43 overs in the match, social media speculated whether he had changed his appearance for a bet, sponsorship or just a mid-life crisis.

Anderson's county team-mate Jordan Clark posted a video of England's leading wicket-taker on Instagram asking: "What do you think sports fans? Is this Phillip Schofield or is it Jimmy Anderson?"

Anderson seemed less amused with the fuss about his barnet giving a pithy "nothing" comment when he was asked what the story was behind his hair style.

Lancashire head coach Glen Chapple appeared surprised to be discussing hair styles rather than cricket at the post-match press conference. "It's a bit lighter," Chapple said of his star bowler's hair. "Are you saying it's not nice? Apparently it's in all the magazines."

One thing is certain, Anderson's new hair style was not the work of allrounder Luke Procter, who has trained as a barber. Lancashire players used to have their hair cut by Procter, a free service they lost when he joined Northamptonshire during the winter.

****

The mystery of the identity of the fielder who dropped Jonathan Trott early in the innings that transformed his career 16 years ago has been solved.

Trott was invited for trials by Warwickshire coach Bob Woolmer and needed only one innings in their second team to secure a contract.

Trott made 245, the highest score by a debutant in the Second XI Championship, against Somerset at Knowle & Dorridge, but was dropped in the slips on 5.

"My career might have been completely different had that guy been able to hold on to that one-handed diving catch at second slip. I still don't know who that guy was. I might need to thank him somehow," said Trott when he announced last week that he will retire at the end of the season.

After a bit of detective work it can be revealed that it was Neil Edwards, who ended his career with Nottinghamshire, whom Trott needs to thank.

"I remember the game as if it was yesterday, the pain of the partnership [397 for the fourth wicket] between Trott and Trevor Penney was excruciating," said Wes Durston, who played in the match.

"I know as a team we dropped a few that day and they really made us pay but that catch - and he won't thank me for saying - was by Neil Edwards. Quite a costly drop."

****

Boyd Rankin will become only the 15th member of one of cricket's most exclusive clubs if, as expected, he plays in Ireland's inaugural Test against Pakistan at Malahide on Friday.

Rankin will become the first player in 26 years to appear for two countries in Test cricket but he will hope this is a happier experience than his solitary appearance for England in Sydney four years ago.

The Warwickshire paceman went into the Test carrying an injury, struggled with the ball and was so traumatised that he almost quit cricket altogether.

John Traicos, the former South Africa offspinner who played in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test, and Kepler Wessels, who played 24 times before appearing in South Africa's first Test after they were re-admitted to international cricket, were the last players to appear in Tests for two countries.

****

Perhaps the ECB should consult Warwickshire about ways to attract people who have never watched cricket before to their proposed new 100-ball competition.

For the last two days of Warwickshire's County Championship match against Derbyshire at Edgbaston, spectators were outnumbered by those attending a convention to mark the 20th anniversary of 'Charmed', the cult TV series about three sisters who discover they are the most powerful witches ever known.

Members of the cast were present to meet their fans and they also took the opportunity to watch their first live cricket from the press box. "How do you know which side is which?", "Where are all the other batters?" and "Why don't they run every time they hit the ball?" were among the questions from the bemused Americans.

One American, who announced that an over comprised of five balls and that each side could only face 20 overs, was bamboozled when Warwickshire batted 23.1 overs to reach a victory target of 89 and the teams then walked off after only an hour's play on the final morning.

****

Full marks to Samit Patel for fronting up to the media after he had been involved in another comedy run-out on the opening day of Nottinghamshire's championship match at Trent Bridge.

It would have been easy for Patel to have declined to be interviewed or to duck questions but he accepted responsibility for running out Ross Taylor and also admitted that he had played a "not very good shot" - pulling straight to deep square leg - to get out.

****

Durham's stunning victory over Leicestershire at the Riverside was not only the first in their history after following on, but also the biggest first-innings deficit by a side following on and winning in County Championship history.

Durham were 256 in arrears against Leicestershire, two more than Gloucestershire when they beat Somerset after being made to follow-on at Taunton in 1976.

Lancashire and Worcestershire remain the only counties never to have won after following on in the championship. Essex, Kent, Middlesex and Sussex have achieved the feat four times each.

****

Middlesex offspinner Ollie Rayner has been outspoken in his criticism of the ECB's 100-ball competition, a concept which he described as "a hoax".

He also took to Twitter to urge players to attend today's meeting between representatives of the Professional Cricketers' Association and ECB at Edgbaston to discuss the proposed format.

So presumably Rayner would in the vanguard in Birmingham leading the opposition to the controversial proposals? "Ironically, no, I'm with sponsors on the 8th" he tweeted.

Hardly the 'Up The Workers' approach that is needed if the views of players are to be heeded rather than humoured by the governing body.