- Born 27 February 1979 Banbridge, Co Down
- Educated Lurgan College
- Occupation Estate Agent
- Debut 3 June 1998 v MCC at Pollock Park, Lurgan
- Cap Number 613
- Style Right-hand bat, slow left arm.
- Teams Lurgan
Neil Anderson was a good orthodox slow left armer and a useful batsman but his prospects of a lengthy representative career were cut short by a shoulder injury which left him unable to bowl.
He first hit the headlines for Irish School v their English counterparts at Ormeau in 1996. On a wicket which greatly favoured pace, a strong England side were bowled out for 128, the principal destroyer being not a new ball bowler but Neil who had, in the words of the Irish Cricket Annual, " the remarkable figures of 10-8-5-4." His wickets included Chris Taylor, later to become a prolific scorer for Gloucestershire with 20 centuries and over 9000 first class runs to his credit before his cash strapped county dispensed with his services in 2011, and the captain Dave Walder, later to gain four England Rugby caps at out half. The match was eventually narrowly won by the visitors.
The match had been preceded by a Schools' International against Wales at Pontarddulais, in which Neil went wicketless but contributed a first innings 19 towards a last wicket stand of 63 with Joe Clinton (44*) in a drawn match. This game was followed by two matches against Scotland U18 in Edinburgh arranged as representative training for both teams before the following year's World Cup qualifying International Youth Tournament in Bermuda. In the second match, though failing to take a wicket, Neil returned an analysis of 10-3-13-0, demonstrating notable control and accuracy.
Neil was a member both of the side which finished second in Bermuda in 1997 and of the one which took on the World in South Africa, early the following year as a result of qualifying. In Bermuda his best performance came in the 23 runs victory over Scotland, when he again demonstrated his accuracy with a return of 10-4-21-2, including the wicket of opener Greg Butchart who went on to play for Scotland in a non-cap match, besides representing them at most age group levels. Perhaps the most interesting opponents Ireland met were the England U 17 side against whom Neil failed to take a wicket. This side included Rob Key, the captain, two future England spinners in Richard Dawson and Chris Schofield as well as Michael Gough, now a leading umpire and T20 specialist Graham Napier of Essex.
Before the World Cup, Neil represented Ireland U19 in one day matches against MCC at Ormeau and NSW Schools at Stormont. He had 2-29 in the first match which Ireland narrowly lost, largely because of a fine 83 by Jason Molins. Neil, in company with most of his teammates found the World Cup a testing occasion. He finished with 2-156, but had against Pakistan disposed of Hasan Raja, later to play 7 Tests and score 13000 first class runs. Neil also batted well in this match, his 20. at No 8, being second top score as Ireland went down by 139 runs. He lost his wicket to paceman Abdul Razzaq, who would go on to play 46 times for Pakistan as an all-rounder, taking 100 Test wickets.
Neil's career for Lurgan began as a teenager and continued after he was no longer able to bowl. In his early years he had some notable performances in the NCU Challenge Cup, particularly in 1996 when he made an impact in every match. Lurgan had a bye to the Second Round in which he took 2-17 in his 12 overs, thus contributing well to a convincing win over CIYMS. He followed this with a good batting display against Armagh. His 38 being one of several useful innings supporting Ross McCollum's 138, thus setting up a 223 runs victory. He was economical as ever taking 2-9against Cliftonville, before becoming a deserved man of the Match against Lisburn in the Final at Downpatrick. His first innings parsimonious analysis of 12-7-15-5 helped dismiss the Co Antrim side for a meagre 90, his wickets including key ones of Neil Doak and Uel Graham. Lurgan managed a 30 runs lead and then dismissed Lisburn for 182, Neil 12-2-37-3, again including Graham among his victims. An undefeated half century from McCollum then saw the Pollock Park men home.
The following year, Neil again was key part of Lurgan's cup run, this time as a batsman. Against Ballymena, they needed 161 but lost two early wickets, before Neil joined McCollum in a match winning unbroken third wicket stand. He finished on 54, Ross making 81. In the Semi Final Lurgan suffered a one wicket defeat at the hands of Downpatrick at Strangford Road. The host's task would have been considerably easier had it not been for Neil whose76 was easily top score of the day, Jim Patterson's 58 for the winners being the next highest.
At Senior Interprovincial level, he played for both the Ireland Development XI and for the NCU, having his customary economical bowling figures for the former side against Leinster at Malahide in 1997, when his 10-2-21-2 helped restrict the province to 195-9 (Angus Dunlop 75*). His dismissal of Alan Lewis for 11 probably helped to contain the score. Unfortunately the Development XI fell 5 runs short of their target in a tight finish. Neil was 3*, perhaps, in view of his Cup heroics, he should have gone in higher up. He did show his batting ability for NCU against Leinster two years later, in a match which rain reduced to 35 overs a side. For once his strict control of batsmen deserted him as Leinster charged to 213-6, Neil's six overs going for 52, though he had 2 wickets, including Ed Joyce, caught for a sparkling 83. NCU were never up with the run rate, finishing on 143-8, but at least Neil, with an undefeated 27, second highest score to Kyle McCallan's 41, ensured that they batted out their overs.
Neil's two matches for Ireland came on three successive days in June 1997. He made his debut, along with Paul Mooney and Ted Williamson, at Pollock Park against MCC. This was an enjoyable match which ended in a draw and will be best remembered for an attractive century from Stephen Smyth. Neil did not bat in either Irish innings and had match figures of 13-1-59-0. A one day match at Waringstown against the touring Bangladesh team followed which Ireland won by 4 wickets, the scale of the win meaning that once again
Neil did not bat for his country. However he was by no means without influence on the overall result. He took the wicket of Akram Khan, the visitors' captain, in his spell of 1-26 and also held two well-judged catches on the outfield, at long on and long off. He was to meet Bangladesh again the following year in Northern Ireland's fine victory over them at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. It was the only match in the tournament that he played, but made little impact. On 3* at the end of the Northern Irish innings, he was not asked to bowl during what amounted to a capitulation by Bangladesh.
After his unfortunate injury Neil Patrick Anderson continued to play for Lurgan for some time as a batsman only, joined in the side by his brothers Michael and Stephen, achieving some useful scores. However it is a matter of great overall regret that a promising career as a spin bowler, to many the best of cricket's many arts, was so cruelly nipped in the bud.
Edward Liddle, April 2013,