Lancashire and England seamer James Anderson lauded the performance of team-mate Neil Wagner after the New Zealander picked up the second-best match figures ever by a Lancashire debutant, claiming 11-111 in victory over Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford.
The hosts wrapped up the win on Day Four, chasing down their 86-run victory target for the loss of just two wickets, to pick up 22 points and start the season in fine fashion.
Left-armer Wagner was the star man for the Red Rose in both Nottinghamshire innings, picking up his 11 wickets through swing, pace, aggression and nous to bamboozle the visiting batting unit.
Anderson praised Wagner’s contribution to the bowling unit and says he will be a vital component for Lancashire throughout the season.
“It couldn’t have gone any better for Neil really,” Anderson said.
“He’s a fantastic guy. He’s a real trier, I don’t want to say that because it sounds bad, but he just loves bowling. 11-fer on debut is something pretty special so he should be really proud of that.
“He wants to do really well for the team. He has got great energy on the field, he never turns down the chance to have a bowl so he’ll be great for Crofty [Steven Croft] all year if he can keep going.
“He might lose a few inches in height if he keeps bowling like that on these pitches! He’s got a fantastic attitude and we’re very lucky to have him in the team.”
Many county cricket observers view Nottinghamshire as title contenders, so victory for a Lancashire side who the same number view as relegation candidates is a superb start to the season for Ashley Giles’ men.
While the batting unit didn’t fire on all cylinders, they battled to take a 90-run first innings lead and then produced a brilliant performance as a bowling unit in the Notts second innings to leave a victory target of just 86.
Anderson believes the performance should offer great hope for the season ahead, and believes Lancashire could surprise some teams on their return to Division One.
“There’s a lot of confidence in our dressing room, we want to get off to a good start to kick-start our season,” Anderson said.
“I thought getting up to 330 without our top six really firing was good, because if they can start firing as well we could be a formidable team this year and surprise a few people because lots think we’re going to struggle with relegation.
“There’s definitely quality there, we saw that yesterday when we batted. I thought we applied ourselves really well. We got through some tricky periods. Al Davies and Liam Livingstone in particular, the way they batted, there’s real promise there.
“This match has been a real test. This pitch is as good as a Test pitch to be honest. It was a real battle.”