Essex bowler Sam Cook admits he shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as James Anderson but believes he’d be ready if the chance to replace his idol arose.
Cook could face Anderson on Thursday when Lancashire visit Chelmsford in the LV=County Championship and the narrative will no doubt be about the master and apprentice battling it out.
Anderson’s longevity remains extraordinary, with England’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Test cricket still going strong at 40, but Father Time gets everyone and the veteran admitted he would be a ‘surprise’ if he played all five the Ashes Tests in a six-and-a-half week period this summer.
The competition to break into the red ball team of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes is so strong that if Anderson missed an Ashes match, Cook is unlikely to get the call, but his belief is unshakable that he will eventually become a cricketer test.
“Yeah, I mean, I would never put myself in the same sentence as Jimmy. Certainly not yet and I don’t think ever,” Cook told the PA news agency.
“He’s so good and to me, he’s someone I grew up watching and someone I’ve tried to emulate when I bowl.
“I think I’m being compared in the same sentence, it’s an honor but from a professional point of view obviously he’s coming to the end of his career so when it’s done I want to be in pole position to try and get into filling those shoes.
“I think a good strength of mine is my personal belief. I definitely believe I can be successful at the testing level. I think I’m in a place, with where my game is, that if I had an opportunity, I would definitely more than hold up.
Essex’s ‘Little Chef’ has been around long enough to know that a constant debate over his suitability for Test cricket is whether he is quick enough and whether he needs to play on a Test ground.
In his own county, Sir Alastair Cook has been an “amazing” sounding board in reassuring the 25-year-old that the latter is a misperception.
And Anderson was able to reaffirm Cook’s conviction about his low-speed seam and swing style during a winter they spent time together at an England Lions training camp in the United Arab Emirates.
He added: “In my opinion, Jimmy is the greatest ever to have made it as a bowler and it would be stupid not to try to pick up as much brain as possible.
“Spending that time with him in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was invaluable and not just from a cricket perspective but off the pitch as well.
“Knowing him and seeing how he works away from cricket, I learned so much by spending that time with him.
“I think (our conversations) were probably just reaffirming that I trust my abilities. Trusting what I do by moving the ball off the straight and not chasing pace or trying to be a bowler I’m not. Hearing that from him was obviously extremely positive.
Cook’s stock has only continued to rise in the past 12 months, where it has barely stopped.
He again reached the 50-wicket mark in the County Championship last year but also starred in the final of The Hundred with four for 18 to help Trent Rockets win the title.
The Loughborough University alumnus later enjoyed England Lions trips to the UAE and Sri Lanka in between making his franchise league debut at the Abu Dhabi T10.
Staying fit has only boosted Cook’s confidence about his international ambitions and he was delighted to go through against ‘Bazball’ with one for 62 from 14 overs during a tour match against England in November.
“As a cricket fan, it was amazing to watch,” admitted Cook.
“Seeing that environment firsthand and getting a taste of it during the winter, makes you want to be part of it even more and pushes you to join that team”.
Cook, a two-time County Championship winner, knows the best way for England to stay in the game is to maintain his high standards with Essex, who finished fourth last year.
Cook insisted: “Anything less than a championship win with this group of players is seen as a bit of a negative, which is really surprising.
“We know and are confident that we will be at the top level and our 100% aim is to win the County Championship.”