James Anderson backs Ryan McLaren to shine for Lancashire
James Anderson talks new signing Ryan McLaren
Jimmy Anderson has backed Ryan McLaren to shine for Lancashire this summer, hailing the South African overseas all-rounder as “a brilliant signing”.
England star Anderson will begin the campaign with the Red Rose on Friday when they travel to Chelmsford to face an Essex side likely to includie Lancashire’s former overseas player Neil Wagner.
New Zealand fast bowler Wagner took 32 wickets in nine Specsavers County Championship matches for Lancashire last season, with eleven coming on debut in an opening round win over Nottinghamshire.
Now, Lancashire have opted for the experienced McLaren for the whole season, a decision Anderson has backed.
"All the guys know Wags, what he does, and everyone got on really well with him,” said Anderson. “It will be fun to come up against him. He settled in really well, really easily.
"When we started last season, myself and Kyle Jarvis took the new ball and Wags was someone good to have up Steven Croft's sleeve. He was different with his left-arm - quick, bangs it in. He was really useful, and he played a big part in that good start we had.
"But Ryan's a brilliant signing. He's a fantastic all-rounder, and he will bring good balance to the team. He's an international cricketer, so we're delighted to have him. Hopefully he strengthens our attack.”
McLaren was the standout seamer for struggling Hampshire last year, taking 32 wickets from 15 matches. He also added 832 runs. He bowled 382 overs in the Championship, 130 more than Brad Wheal, the next most used Hampshire seamer.
With Lancashire, however, he is not likely to lead the attack, which Anderson believes will benefit the 34-year-old. He's a quality cricketer, but the county season's a long one,” he said. We'll need him fresh at various times throughout the summer, so it will be good to have a particularly strong bowling attack early on so he might not be called upon as much.”
Anderson, who took a first-innings 7-77 against Essex at Chelmsford in the last game of the 2015 Division Two campaign, is also delighted with Lancashire’s other two former Test recruits, Shiv Chanderpaul and Dane Vilas.
"If you look at last year, batting was the weaker part of our game, so strengthening that area was something Glen (Chapple) wanted to do. Obviously, Tom Smith's been forced to retire. That's another option we've lost.
“I doubt Jos (Buttler) will be around much at all, so those two guys will be really useful in the top six. They're top quality players, and Shiv's still going strong at the ripe old age of 43!
Anderson is inked in to play two of Lancashire’s first three Championship matches - Somerset at Emirates Old Trafford (April 21-24) the other - and their first three Royal London one-day Cup matches. But he is hoping the ECB will allow him to play more ahead of the first summer Test against South Africa in early July, with Lancashire bidding to get in amongst the trophies in 2017.
He added: "There's a three-month block before that first Test, which should enable me to play a good amount of cricket. I'm really looking forward to it.
"It's nice to settle into the team as opposed to thinking 'I've only got two or three games at the start of the season’. There's potentially six or seven I could play. At the start of the season, your aim is to win every game. Things will change throughout the summer, but at the moment we're just thinking about winning games of cricket. We've certainly got the squad to do that.”
Get set for the return of the Specsavers County Championship, Royal London One-Day Cup and NatWest T20 Blast at Emirates Old Trafford this summer.
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