Tuesday, 01 October 2013

James Anderson best bowler of this era? Nonsense. Ajmal and Steyn are better.

Wasim Akram has called James Anderson, a bowler for England, “ the best bowler of this era”. Firstly, Akram is a legend of cricket, being one of the best pace bowlers of all time (having taken 414 test wickets at an average of 23.62 and 502 ODI wickets at 23.52) so this is a huge statement. It is also huge when we realise that Dale Steyn (SA) and Saeed Ajmal (PAK) are both bowling in the same era. I am going to show you that Akram’s claim is nonsense.

James Anderson
James Anderson (31) of England is undeniably a good bowler, and I enjoy watching him bowl, but he is not the best. Image taken from http://www.dailymail.co.uk.
As on 01 October 2013 the ICC bowling rankings tells us that:
In tests Steyn is rated the best bowler in the world. Ajmal is fourth and Anderson ninth.
In ODIs Ajmal is third, Anderson sixth and Steyn is 15th
In T20s Ajmal is second, Steyn is 21st and Anderson is not even on the top 100 list.

ICC BOWLING RANKINGS (01 October 2013)

Test ranking
ODI ranking
T20I ranking

The full ICC rankings lists are available at http://www.espncricinfo.com/rankings/content/page/211270.html
These rankings tell us that Saeed Ajmal is actually the best bowler in the world. Dale Steyn is undeniably the best in tests, and has been for a while, but in terms of consistency over all three formats Ajmal is the best.

I find it incongruent to compare pace bowlers with spinners. So let us compare Anderson to Steyn.

James Anderson is 31 years old
He has played 87 tests, 174 ODIs and 19 T20Is
In tests he has 329 wickets at 30.11
In ODIs he has 245 wickets at 29.11 (economy 4.97)
In T20Is he has 18 wickets at 30.66 (economy 7.84)

Dale Steyn is 30 years old
He has played 65 tests, 73 ODIs and 29 T20Is.
In tests he has 332 wickets at 22.65
In ODIs he has 102 wickets at 29.07 (economy 4.92)
In T20Is he has 39 wickets at 16.64 (economy 6.30)

Statistics show that Steyn has better averages in all formats and better economy rates than Anderson. Anderson only has a better ODI ranking than Steyn because he has been in superb form recently, England plays far more cricket than South Africa so their players can accumulate more points and Steyn has been injured lately so he has missed even more ODIs.

As prominent as Wasim Akram is in the cricketing world, statistics refute his claim. Saeed Ajmal is the best bowler of our era and Dale Steyn is the best pace bowler of our era.

By the way I am South African and might be biased in my evaluation if I did not use statistics as my primary tool of comparison.