Anderson best in the world? He isn’t even best in the Ashes

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England's James Anderson (R) celebrates after bowling Australia's Michael Clarke. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES

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The continual rhetoric in the Sky commentary box (filled with ex-England captains) regarding James Anderson and the fact that he is apparently the best bowler in the world is comical.

It’s about time someone challenged this flawed assumption and set them straight.

Anderson isn’t even the best seam bowler in this series. Much to the dismay of an ex-England captain, one can substantiate this claim with facts and draw your attention to the series stats:

Name       M   Wkts   Ave    Econ   SR     BBI   Won Lost
Siddle     3*   15    22.60  2.81   48.1   5/50     2
Anderson 3    15    26.06  3.03   51.5   5/73     2

(compiled before the recent second innings was bowled)

So from the above stats, despite being two down in the series and against England’s vaunted top-order (as per the commentary team from Sky), one can assume that Peter Siddle has outperformed Anderson on the same surface against better batsmen.

He has a better average and a better strike rate and all of that after his captain lost the toss in the first two Tests and he had to bowl in conditions more favourable to the batting side.

Lets go a step further and consider the respective Ashes careers of Anderson and Siddle, for they follow a similar trend as the above:

Name      Matches Wkts   Ave    Econ    SR      BBI  Won Loss Draw
Siddle      13     49    29.36   3.35   52.5   6/54  2    8    3
Anderson    16     56    35.19   3.32   63.5   5/73  7    6    3

Again, one can see that Siddle has a better Ashes career average and strike rate. It is also worth noting that Siddle has only ever been in the winning side in an Ashes Test twice, and yet he manages to outperform Anderson.

As it is clearly illustrated above, the world rankings don’t lie. Siddle was rated 5 and Anderson 7 at the beginning of this series.

Anderson is undoubtedly a quality bowler in English conditions, it is worth reminding the Sky commentary team that Siddle has outperformed Anderson in England, on surfaces prepared specifically to Anderson’s strengths and has shown, over a sustained period, that he is a more consistent performer than Anderson and for my money is deservedly ranked higher.

Best bowler for England doesn’t equal best bowler in the world.

The claim that Anderson is at the top of the pile is even more comical when you compare his record to Dale Steyn, who’s record overshadows Anderson’s, against all opposition and anywhere in the world:

Name   Matches Wkts   Ave   SR      BBI   5wkts 10wkts
Steyn       65      332   22.65   41.1   7/51    21    5
Anderson   85      322   28.95   58.2 7/43    15    2

In Australia: Matches Wkts   Ave    SR    BBI   5wkts  10wkts
Steyn            6     30    28.03  48.1  5/67     2      1
Anderson         8     29    35.79  63.4  4/44     0      0

In sub-continent: Matches  Wkts   Ave      SR    BBI   5wkts   10wkts
Steyn               11      57    21.33   34.7   7/51    4        1
Anderson            11      33    33.45   66.6   5/72    1        0