Corey Anderson: 'It's natural for me to be aggressive and try and take on the boundaries'

The big-hitting New Zealand allrounder is looking to get his blade flashing after a hiatus, at the CPL 2020

Deivarayan Muthu
On New Year's Day in 2014, Corey Anderson walloped a 36-ball century against West Indies - his first ever one-day hundred in professional cricket. In May that year, he cracked 95 not out off 44 balls to help Mumbai Indians pull off a coup against Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. He then sparkled with both bat and ball in the 2015 World Cup.
That is how we remember Anderson. In the last five years, though, the New Zealand allrounder has barely made a headline. His last Test was four and a half years ago, last ODI in 2017, and last T20I in 2018. Multiple injuries have ravaged his career since, limiting his bowling in particular, which in turn has been a reason for him going unsold in lucrative T20 leagues like the IPL.
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Anderson has suffered finger, groin, rib, shoulder and heel issues. Bones in his spine are fused together with screws and a titanium cable. "It's like owning a Ferrari and every time you take it out of the garage it breaks down," former New Zealand opener Mark Richardson once said of Anderson on Newshub.
That Ferrari is up and revving now after five months of downtime in Dallas, where Anderson's fiancée is based. After his deal with Somerset for the T20 Blast was cancelled, and Australia's Marcus Stoinis pulled out of CPL 2020, Anderson "hopped, skipped, and jumped" from Texas to the Caribbean to join defending champions Barbados Tridents.
He was supposed to make his CPL debut in 2014, for the Guyana Amazon Warriors, but was asked to withdraw by New Zealand Cricket due to fitness concerns. Now he's looking to utilise the opportunity to reignite his career.
"It's probably a combination of stuff that's making it exciting to be back in the Caribbean," Anderson tells ESPNcricinfo from Trinidad. "Hopefully now I get to make my [CPL] debut here for Barbados. Somerset is such a great county to play for, so to miss out on that is obviously disappointing, but to be able to have cricket and getting back to a slightly more unusual routine, it's a lot more enjoyable."
Coming off a shoulder surgery, Anderson only played as a specialist batsman for Auckland in last season's Super Smash and hasn't bowled in T20 cricket since February 2019. He is confident, though, of returning to bowling this CPL and fulfilling the two-in-one role in the Super Smash later this year as well.
"Hopefully things start potentially easing up in the world with Covid," he says. "Time will tell on that, but in regards to what that four or five months look like, the CPL is a great platform leading into the home summer.
"I think playing as a batter is an ability that I have in a T20 game, and it makes the balance of the side a lot easier if I'm bowling. So, yeah, to be able to do that and come back and start bowling again is great. It makes me feel like I'm a complete player. How much I'll be called upon to do that job [bowling] is probably in question. I'm not too sure. Have to see what Jason [Holder, the captain] and Trevor [Penney, the assistant coach] have got up their sleeves for that. But I'm happy to do any form of job, and hopefully if the weather holds up next week, I can get back on the grass again."
Anderson is cautious about looking too far ahead, especially to the 2021 T20 World Cup. "I'm probably someone that needs to stay in the now a little bit more. Sometimes, it's easy to get ahead of yourself in cricket. It can be taken away from you very, very quickly. It's going to be very clichéd: one game at a time and one competition at a time and figure out where the process goes after that. Then, hopefully, the results and performances can speak for themselves."
The time away from cricket has helped him gain perspective on his life and career. "I've probably learnt the hard way sometimes. I've had injuries since I was young, and that kind of has plagued me throughout my career. There has also been the positive side of it - being injured and being out of the game actually gives you the ability to reassess what you're doing outside of cricket. It's very easy to get tunnel vision when you're travelling and playing and touring all around the world."
Anderson moved to Auckland from Northern Districts in 2019, and has been working with Aaron Walsh, the mental skills and performance coach at the Aces. He has also talked to former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond, whose career too was notoriously stop-start because of injuries.
"I get along with him extremely well," Anderson says. "He was one of the best in the world, and he really played a fifth of what most other greats of the game played and he's got an unbelievable record. He's great to chat to about it [dealing with injuries]. Bondie is very black and white with his thoughts and he's a good guy to bounce ideas off and sort of look at short-term stuff and long-term stuff. He's been through similar stuff - whether it's back surgery or things like that - and he can give you a decent bit of perspective about it."
Anderson's strength remains his robust batting, which can catapult teams to winning totals from a variety of match situations. His power-hitting in the middle order was most recently on bright display in the T20 Blast in England two years ago, where he was the fifth-highest scorer, with 514 runs in 15 innings at a strike rate of just a shade under 170. Somerset reached finals day that season. One of his sixes during his brutal 72 off 30 balls against Glamorgan cleared the scoreboard into the St James churchyard.
"From a young age, I tried to hit the ball hard and I liked hitting boundaries and not do a hell a lot of running (laughs). I think it has just been a part of my game and it's my point of difference in comparison to a lot of other guys. I think T20 has obviously bridged that gap, so a lot more people have more of the power game or understand where their strengths are. I probably think it's a little bit more natural for me to be aggressive, attacking, and try and take on those boundaries.
"I do try and do a little bit of work with range-hitting and things like that. But [with] range-hitting sometimes you can get carried away. It's a better thing to do at new grounds you haven't played at, understanding the dimensions of the ground. And it's nice to know if you're standing in the middle of the wicket, if you want to try and hit a six, you know you can hit that boundary, regardless of the size of the boundary, depending on what you've done during your planning."
In this year's CPL, which will be played only in Trinidad, the spinner-friendly pitches will pose a big challenge for Anderson's big-hitting method, but it's one he is looking forward to.
"I think it's an expectation of playing in two grounds over a four-week period for the whole competition. Yeah, you can expect those wickets to gradually slow up as the competition goes on as well, and you can see those guys [quality spinners] come into effect massively as well. I'm sure the scores will reflect that and they will be a little bit lower than what we can expect at the start of the comp. I just think you have to play accordingly and we're lucky we've got quality spinners [Rashid Khan, Mitchell Santner] in our side, but I'm sure every other team is going to do the same thing."
If not for Covid-19, Anderson might not have played the CPL. He now has another chance to turn up as the match-winner he once was.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo