In our latest celebrity interview, we speak to the prolific cricketer James Anderson. As well as one of England's leading all-time wicket takers, James is a big fan of Apple devices and technology of all kinds, and recently launched his own iPhone app, Jimmy613. Read on to find out who has the worst music taste in the England cricket team, the secret of Stuart Broad's video game expertise and (of course) James's thoughts on a wide range of sporting and technological topics.
David Price: Thanks for speaking to me Jimmy, I really appreciate it.
James Anderson: That’s all right.
DP: I thought just to get started you could tell us a bit about the app, what sort of things you’re most proud of in it and what you think people will take out of it.
JA: The main focus of the app is obviously cricket. There’s a lot of videos on there, going from beginners through to more experienced cricketers, giving advice and tips. And videos of me bowling as well, so you can see me doing whatever skill it is as I’m describing it. There’s also fitness and dietary advice on there. I want to show people up close what I do, and pass on advice if and where possible.
There’s other stuff on there – there’s some fashion stuff on there, and poker, just to show that my life’s not completely based around cricket…
DP: Right, yeah.
JA: …and to give people an insight into something else I’m interested in.
DP: [Rambling pre-amble] What sort of audience do you think is going to go for this?
JA: I think with the main focus on cricket at the moment, then that’s probably the area we’re looking at, but in the future, hopefully more things will be added. Not just the cricket videos and things like that, but the fashion stuff - there’ll be more of that. The more I do, the more can go on the app. And maybe that’ll be something that will interest people.
DP: It’s almost like two apps in a way. Because you’ve got the one side which is about you as a personality, and the other side is really focused on cricket. Is that something you’d consider in the future, splitting it into two apps?
JA: Oh yeah maybe. See how this one goes first! But yes, I’m sure that’s definitely something we’d consider in the future.
Geoff Baker (the app publisher): I think if we’d released something that was just Jimmy’s fashion and golf courses and things like that, music, all of which are things that Jimmy wanted in there – if we’d just done that then you leave yourselves open to people saying ‘Hang on, I thought this bloke was a cricketer!’
The flipside is that no other apps out there have really attempted, certainly from a sporting perspective, to take things forward, in terms of actually opening up a little, off the pitch. We were trying to balance things out, basically.
DP: The videos that you’re in, you seem very confident on camera, and you’ve appeared in a few of Graeme Swann's video diaries as well, and you seem to be quite good on camera. Is that something you’ve worked on? And how do you deal with the nerves?
JA: In both of the things that you’ve mentioned there, the cricket videos and Swanny’s diaries… in both of those environments I’m quite comfortable. In the cricket videos I know what I’m talking about, I’m quite comfortable with it – and that then comes across as confident, I think. But maybe if I went on to a live talk show, I might not be as confident.
But I do enjoy it, and it’s something I’m constantly working on, because certainly when I’m with the England team, we get asked to do a lot of media interviews. I think it’s important that you come across as relaxed and not… because you see a lot of people being interviewed and they’re quite forced, and their answers are quite regimented. I think if you can be relaxed in front of the camera, then your natural personality can come across.
DP: As a sportsperson, I guess you get to the point of your career where you have to think about whether you want to go into coaching, or do you want to become a media pundit of some kind. Are you thinking that you’d like to be a TV personality?
JA: I’m not sure. I’m hoping that I’ve got a few more years left…
DP: Oh yes - definitely! I didn’t mean…
JA: It is something that I’d be interested in, definitely. Hopefully - touch wood - I’ll have a few more years in cricket, but you’ve still got to think about what to do at the end of your career. I’ve done a bit of radio, a little bit of TV, just to see if I’m any good at it, and if it’s a final option when I do finish. And I think as well that coaching is something that does interest me. So I’m trying to keep my options open.
DP: Graeme Swann calls you and Stuart Broad the pretty boys. Has he seen the app? Have you had any stick over these fashion photos, the topless photos?
JA: Of course, yeah. In the dressing room it’s a constant battle with people ribbing each other and stuff, the more ammunition they can get the better, and he uses that quite a lot. But I think a lot of it’s jealousy, to be honest.
DP: Ha ha.
JA: Because he doesn’t get asked to do things like that.
DP: Ha ha ha.
JA: But it’s good fun. I know Swanny quite well, he’s a really good friend, and I’m fairly sure there’s a bit of respect there for doing something like that. Underneath all the ribbing.
DP: The humour you guys have in the dressing room is friendly, but then you’ve got the other side of cricket, the ‘mental disintegration’. Do those things ever blend into each other? Does Swanny do a lot of 'sledging' on the field? Does he use his humour to wind up the batsman?
JA: Very occasionally. He’s probably one of the more quiet people on the field, actually, which a lot of people find strange. He doesn’t say a lot at all. I don’t really know what to say about sledging, because many people think that it can be funny, quite witty or whatever, but to be honest it’s really not – it’s just the first thing that comes into your head really. Nothing more glamorous than that, I’m afraid.
DP: Are you a technology fan yourself?
JA: When I go on tour, I’m very much Appled up. I’ve got my Mac that I use to Skype the kids, and an iPad, and an iPhone as well. I enjoy it.
DP: What sort of apps do you use?
JA: The obvious ones are the sports ones, the news - catching up with what’s going on. When I’m in England I really enjoy the TV ones, the iPlayer, to catch up with any TV I’ve missed. Unfortunately you can’t get that abroad. I’ve not got a lot of apps on my phone, to be honest.
DP: You’re not into games?
JA: I did have games on, but I get really addicted, and it takes up so much of my time and I stay up till 3 in the morning doing it. So I try to avoid it.
DP: Do you use a lot of technology as a cricketer? Is it a very high-tech setup, as an England cricketer?
JA: Yeah I’d say it is, yeah. All the coaching staff have got iPads, and they do a lot of filming while we’re practising. We use Dropbox - that’s another app I use. The statisticians will get footage about a certain country or ground or whatever, and they’ll put it into Dropbox for us to look at the opposition we’re going to be playing against.
DP: DRS is a technological innovation that's a big part of cricketing life now. But in the Test series in India it wasn’t used, and it seemed really odd - it shows how quickly we’ve got used to it. Do you think it’s been a good thing?
JA: Yeah I think it’s been great. I really do. At the end of the day as cricketers you want the correct decision, and there were decisions that went against both teams in that series, and it just makes sense to have it, and as you say everyone’s got used to it, everyone else around the world still uses it, you still use it in one-day cricket as well. And there were times in the one-day series that we’ve just played, from what I’ve seen on the TV, where DRS would have been helpful.
So yeah, I think hopefully the Indians will come around to everyone else’s way of thinking and use it. Eventually.
DP: Are you a big Twitter fan?
JA: Yes, I use it quite a bit. I think it’s a good tool to have from a sportsman’s point of view.
DP: You don’t worry about getting into trouble, and saying the wrong thing?
JA: Yes, but I think that’s just common sense, really. As a sportsman you know what you can and can’t say, and you’ve got to treat it like you’re doing an interview, when you’re talking about cricket. I try to stay away from putting anything about cricket on Twitter, or commenting on anything controversial, to be honest, because I think that just gets you into trouble.
I treat it like an interview and just try to have a bit of fun with it. Just try and let people know what I’m up to, and the things I’ve got going on. For example, with the app I think it was perfect, letting people know the app was there and directing people to it.
DP: I think for a lot of sportspeople this is where they fall down: they think it’s just a conversation, but you’re broadcasting it to all these thousands of people, and it can trip you up.
JA: It’s very common now, you see a tweet in an article in a newspaper, they use it as a quote. So yeah, you do have to be very careful with it. And also pictures you put on there as well. I’ve seen a couple of pictures that I’ve put on from the last Test series, because English photographers weren’t allowed in the ground, so a couple of photos I put on were actually used in the newspapers.
DP: You should have made some money out of that.
JA: Ha ha. Yeah.
DP: In the dressing room, do you have a system where somebody’s in charge of the iPod, and they stick on inspirational music before you come out? And do you get involved in that?
JA: I like to get involved in it, but I rarely get the chance. It’s quite difficult to put your own stamp on it because there’s a few hoggers of the speakers. There’s [Matt] Prior, that’s one.
JA: Broad is another. KP likes to put his on. It’s what you’d hear in a nightclub in London, most of the time.
DP: And that’s not your kind of music?
JA: It’s not my cup of tea. But the last Test me and Swanny did get the chance to put something on, so we put on a selection from the album 101 Power Ballads.
DP: Ha ha ha.
JA: Which was a bit of fun.
DP: That’s excellent. So who has the worst taste in music in the whole England team?
JA: Well for me it’s the three guys I mentioned, purely because I like indie music and stuff like that – alternative stuff that’s out at the minute. Rather than stuff you’d hear in the nightclub that makes the walls vibrate.
DP: Who are the best and worst video game players in the England team?
JA: It’s pretty simple. The majority of the lads have got kids, so the only chance we get to play is on tour. But you’ve got the single guys - Stuart Broad is excellent, on FIFA mainly. Call of Duty is the other one we play a lot. Stuart Broad is in a different league on that.
Unfortunately the guys that have got families – young families – generally only get the chance to play out there. So by the end of the tour we’re brilliant – I got pretty good by the end of the last tour to India, but by the start of New Zealand I’ll be back to square one unfortunately.
DP: Going out of the country when you’ve got a young family must be really hard.
JA: It just becomes a part of life really. I don’t know really. My eldest daughter’s four, so the last four years, it’s not been too difficult, but now she’s getting to the stage where she understands, the minute cricket comes on the TV she wants it turned off, she hates it because I’m going away, so it can be quite difficult.
For me, once I’m away, it sounds quite harsh and clinical, but I’ve got to switch off from that side of my life and focus on what my job is in that particular country, and that helps the time pass more quickly. You’re not getting down on yourself too much.
DP: They wouldn’t let you take the family out with you?
JA: There are periods where the families can come out, but with a young family New Zealand isn't the ideal place for my wife to just pop on a plane and visit for two weeks.
DP: I think I’m running out of time, so I’ll just ask one more question. I know you’ve got New Zealand coming up, so you’ll focus on that first, but it’s an Ashes year, a double Ashes year - have you got any predictions for that? Excited?
JA: It’s always exciting with an Ashes series coming up. Especially if it’s back to back. I think Australia are just turning a corner, to be honest. A lot of people are saying that we should win easily - same with New Zealand, everyone’s saying we should beat them comfortably – but I don’t think that will be the case.
But it is really exciting. I think all English cricketers growing up want to play in the Ashes, so to have back-to-back Ashes is really exciting. I think everyone just prays that they stay fit, and stay in form, and get selected for both series.
DP: Thanks for your time, and good luck.
You can download James Anderson's app from the iTunes Store now - it's free, with videos available to buy in-app. James is on Twitter here, and if you'd like to hear more from your humble interviewer, you can follow David Price on Twitter too.