MANCHESTER: Pakistan's former cricketer Wasim Akram believes England's James Anderson is the best bowler currently operating in world cricket.
31-year-old Anderson has taken 13 wickets in the first two Ashes Tests to help England into a 2-0 lead over Australia ahead of the third Test at the Lancashire paceman's Old Trafford home ground starting Thursday.
Anderson, whose tally of 320 Test wickets places him third on England's all-time list behind Ian Botham and Bob Willis, is currently only equal fifth with Australia's Peter Siddle in the International Cricket Council's Test bowling rankings, which are led by South Africa quick Dale Steyn.
But Akram, arguably cricket's greatest left-arm fast bowler, who took 414 wickets in 104 Tests at a mean average of 23.62, was in no doubt of Anderson's standing amongst his peers.
"Jimmy Anderson is leading from the front. For me he is the best bowler of this era," Akram told BBC Sport on Wednesday. "He does it consistently, with the new ball and the old ball."
Akram and Pakistan team-mate Waqar Younis formed a highly effective fast bowling partnership in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their command of reverse swing often proving too much for even the world's best batsmen.
In Anderson, Akram said he recognised an equally skilled exponent.
"Jimmy is up there with me and Waqar because of the control he has," said Akram, who played for Lancashire between 1988 and 1998.
"He was always good with the new ball, but with the old ball he is intelligent," Akram explained.
"He bowls five away-swingers, then one inswinger and takes a wicket."
Although Anderson's career average of 29.66 is more expensive than Steyn's 22.65, Wasim said the Englishman had the edge.
And that was despite Steyn having 33 wickets in five Tests at just 12.56 apiece in 2013 compared to Anderson's haul for the calendar year, which currently stands at 32 in seven at 23.12
"I have seen Dale Steyn bowling with the old ball and he only bowls one delivery - the inswinger to the right-hander," added Akram. "Steyn is one of the best in the world as well, but Jimmy is slightly ahead because he does a lot more with the old ball."