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ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

Dale Steyn v James Anderson

These two have been the top fast bowlers in Test cricket over the last couple of years, but while their overall stats are similar, there are some differences too

S Rajesh

April 6, 2012

Comments: 81 | Text size: A | A

James Anderson celebrates after trapping Lahiru Thirimanne lbw, Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 1st day, April 3, 2012
James Anderson averaged 41.44 against left-handers in Tests before 2010; since then he averages 20.87 against them © Getty Images

When South Africa tour England later this year for a three-Test series, the No. 1 position in Test cricket will be on the line, no matter what the results of the matches leading up to that series are. Even if England beat Sri Lanka in the ongoing Test at the P Sara Oval, and then swamp West Indies 3-0, they still wouldn't have put enough distance between them and South Africa to make the result of the series between the two redundant.

Among the several head-to-head battles to look out for in that series, perhaps the one that stands out most is the one between the lead strike bowlers of each team. Dale Steyn has generally been recognised as the best fast bowler going around for a while now, and his stats fully support that argument: since the beginning of 2007, Steyn has taken 240 wickets in 45 Tests at 21.48, which is way better than what any other bowler has achieved. During this period he has a strike rate of 39.3 balls per wicket, with 15 five-fors and four ten-fors.

In terms of wickets, the bowler in second place during this period is James Anderson, who, if everything goes well between now and July 2012, will be England's main man with the ball in that series. Anderson has taken 214 wickets at 28.46 during this period, numbers that leave no one in doubt as to who's been the best during this period.

It's only in the last couple of years that Anderson has considerably closed the gap. Since the beginning of 2010, his 109 Test wickets have come at an average of 23.74; his previous 148 had cost him 34.85 runs each. A comparison between the two thus only makes sense in the last two years, a period during which Anderson's consistency and his ability to excel under all conditions have improved significantly.

The biggest difference in Anderson's bowling is that he is no longer entirely dependent on the conditions to achieve his success. He has spoken about picking up the art of bowling with the scrambled seam to make his old-ball bowling more effective, and it shows in his numbers: over these last two years and a bit, Anderson averages 24 in his last five Tests in Asia, and 26 in Australia, both huge improvements on his earlier stats. In fact, Anderson's average in away and neutral venues has dropped from 45.63 to 26.65, an improvement of more than 41%. During this period, the home and away averages for both players are pretty similar: both have done better in home conditions, which isn't surprising, given that South Africa and England present conditions that are favourable for swing and seam bowling. However, both have impressive numbers overseas as well.

Test bowling records of Dale Steyn and James Anderson
Bowler, period Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Steyn, career 54 272 23.18 40.9 17/ 4
Anderson, career 68 257 30.14 56.4 12/ 1
Steyn, since Jan 2010 20 100 21.84 42.5 6/ 1
Anderson, since Jan 2010 24 109 23.74 50.6 5/ 1
Steyn and Anderson, home and away, since Jan 2010
Bowler Home-Tests Wickets Average Away-Tests Wickets Average
Dale Steyn 10 59 19.86 10 41 24.68
James Anderson 12 60 21.36 12 49 26.65

There are a few other fast bowlers who've done well during this period, but apart from the phenomenal Vernon Philander, none has achieved the kind of stats that Steyn and Anderson have. Philander has been exceptional, but he has only played seven Tests so far. Zaheer Khan is the only other bowler in the table below with a sub-25 average, but he has played only 15 Tests and taken 68 wickets during this period, compared to 100 and more by Steyn and Anderson.

The other factor that stands out in the table below is the dominance of South African and England bowlers - there are three from each team, which is proof that these two teams are the undisputed kings of fast bowling today. The three-Test series in England will thus also be about the support that the two leading strike bowlers will get from the rest of the attack.

Best averages for fast bowlers in Tests since Jan 2010 (Qual: 50 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Vernon Philander 7 51 14.15 26.7 6/ 2
Dale Steyn 20 100 21.84 42.5 6/ 1
James Anderson 24 109 23.74 50.6 5/ 1
Zaheer Khan 15 68 24.72 46.0 2/ 1
Peter Siddle 16 60 26.18 50.3 3/ 0
Morne Morkel 20 78 26.53 51.7 4/ 0
Steven Finn 13 51 27.39 43.2 3/ 0
Stuart Broad 21 74 28.18 60.9 1/ 0

Back to the Steyn-Anderson discussion, though. While their overall stats in the last two years are pretty similar, a few differences emerge when comparing their stats against right- and left-hand batsmen. Anderson, as Kumar Sangakkara will testify, has been outstanding against left-hand batsmen, dismissing 39 of them at an average of less than 21 per wicket. The average isn't dissimilar to Steyn's against right-handers during this period (20.05). However, Steyn has had more problems against left-handers, just as Anderson has found it tougher to dismiss right-handers. That's only a relative term, though, as Steyn's average against lefties and Anderson's against right-handers are still pretty impressive.

Steyn and Anderson, against right- and left-handers in Tests since Jan 2010
Bowler v batsman type Runs Balls Wickets Average Scoring rate
Steyn v right-handers 1564 3060 78 20.05 3.06
Anderson v right-handers 1750 3563 70 25.00 2.94
Steyn v left-handers 585 1200 22 26.59 2.92
Anderson v left-handers 814 1971 39 20.87 2.47

The big difference for Anderson is his hugely improved stats against left-hand batsmen. Till the end of 2009, Anderson's 45 wickets of left-handers had cost him more than 41 runs each. Over the last two years, though, he has found a far more probing line against them, as also the ability to move the ball late in the air. That has fetched him incredible success against them, with the average halving to 20.87.

Nowhere is the contrast more apparent than in his record against Sangakkara. Before 2010, he had bowled 129 balls to him in Tests, conceded 99 runs, and dismissed him just once. Since then, Anderson has dismissed Sangakkara five times in 96 balls, conceding less than ten runs per wicket. As his wickets break-up against left-handers shows, 14 of his 39 dismissals of left-handers were through catches to the wicketkeeper, and 18 more through catches, mostly in the slip cordon. Which means 32 of his 39 victims have been caught, most of them behind the wicket.

For Steyn, the stats aren't so startling: pre 2010, he averaged 17.83 against right-hand batsmen and 34.58 against left-handers; since then the gap in averages has narrowed, though numbers suggest he continues to favour bowling to right-handers.

Anderson v left-handers, before and since Jan 2010
  Runs Balls Wickets Average Strike rate
Before 2010 1865 3230 45 41.44 71.78
Jan 2010 onwards 814 1971 39 20.87 50.52
Anderson v Sangakkara, before and since Jan 2010
  Runs Balls Dismissals Average
Before 2010 99 129 1 99.00
Jan 2010 onwards 46 96 5 9.20

Anderson will want to settle scores with another top-class left-hander this summer in the home series against South Africa - Graeme Smith. Smith has so far dominated Anderson in Tests, scoring 357 runs in 534 balls for five dismissals, at an average of 71.40. Can the new, improved Anderson turn that head-to-head around on its head too, just as he has done with Sangakkara?

Meanwhile Steyn's relative discomfort against left-handers raises an interesting question, given that England's openers are both lefties. That small advantage, though, might be offset by the fact that England's middle order consists almost entirely of right-handers.

In these two years, Anderson also has a higher percentage of top-order wickets, with almost 24% of his victims being openers, and 66% being batsmen in the top six; the percentages are marginally lower for Steyn.

Since 2010, both bowlers have showed they're at the peak of their powers. With Test cricket's top spot at stake, both will have plenty of motivation to be at their best come July 19.

Top- and lower-order wickets for Steyn and Anderson in Tests since Jan 2010
Bowler Opener wkts Percentage Top 6 wkts Percentage Last 5 wkts Percentage
Dale Steyn 20 20.00% 63 63.00% 37 37.00%
James Anderson 26 23.85% 72 66.05% 37 33.94%

All stats for Anderson updated till the first innings of the ongoing second Test between Sri Lanka and England.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Lipoflegend on (April 9, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

Just from having watched the quality of Steyns deliveries, he could just as easily have doubled the bumber of wickets he took. He has been really, REALLY unlucky in that he has produced more unplayable deliveries than Philander, but has not got as many wickets lately. Subjectively, he is even better than his figures show.

Posted by DilbertZA on (April 9, 2012, 18:35 GMT)

Steyn was in IPL action for Decan against Mumbai tonight, almost won the game for Decan with super bowling. Ended up with 3 wickets for 12 runs in his 4. One delivery was clocked ar 154 km/h, some good pace there.

Posted by Keepa-batsman on (April 8, 2012, 23:59 GMT)

Steyn will go down as one of the greats of South Africa alongside (or above maybe) Donald, Pollock, Ntini. Anderson will not be considered of the class of Trueman, Barnes, Lohmann, Statham, Willis, Botham etc.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

@nzahid: i've just shown you that steyn was good in all conditions so far in his career,not less than mcgrath or other greats, mcgrath also enjoyed bowling friendly conditions. thats it.

Posted by fastbowling on (April 8, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

@shafaet: I said i would have liked to see his stats in the subcontinent in this article. I dont think he has played enough test in the subconitnen yet but so far it looks like he did great over there as well. So you disagree that having South African wickets as home ground and playing more tests in those conditions is not an advantage for a fastbowler?

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (April 8, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

Anderson who?? Enough said, Steyn hasnt been ranked No1 in the world for the past year by accident. This article stinks of the Smith Vs Strauss comparison and is equally off the mark.

Posted by BillyCC on (April 8, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

@ptal3, I agree with you. Greatness also lies in the approach and the entertainment value which Steyn clearly has. In determining where he ranks amongst the other greats, ultimately, efficiency and effectiveness lies above raw pace and aggression when it comes to determining greatness. That is why I think Philander's prospects are exciting: he is efficient and effective and can also decimate a batting lineup. Curtly Ambrose was the same for his whole career. Steyn has a while to go to achieve that level because he can be quite volatile; wicket taking deliveries followed by bad balls.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

@nzahid: At indian steyn played 5 tests, bowled in 8 innings,taken 26 wickets at average 20.23 and strike rate 34.5, two 5 wicket hauls and one 10 wicket hauls. Best figures 7/51(innings) and 10/108 (match). In pakistan he played 2 tests,taken 9 wickets at 24 average. He struggled only in srilanka in the 2tests he played but that was very early in his career when he struggled in england too. In total against india he have bowled in 17 winnings,took 65 wickets at 19. Enough,isnt it? There is no doubt that mcgrath was one of the greatest ever, but steyn is going the right direction to join mcgrath,walsh,wasim league.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2012, 8:32 GMT)

@nzahid: Steyn did destroyed india in india and who can forget his spell against sachin in saf? Please check the stats carefully before commenting.

Posted by DilbertZA on (April 8, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Re Steyn in India: Steyn played in 5 tests in India, taking 26 wickets at an aveage of 20.26, strike rate 34.5, according to statsguru. If I remember correctly, he got the ICC bowling performance of the year in 2010 for taking 10 in Nagpur on a flattish pitch.

Posted by BillyCC on (April 8, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

@nzahid, Steyn's performances in the subcontinent, albeit from a small sample size of matches are very good. He averages 20 in India and mid-twenties in Pakistan. So whilst a lot of fast bowlers do have their averages readjusted, Steyn hasn't suffered from that.

Posted by ptal3 on (April 8, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

@BillyCC: I understand the point you are trying to make. But in cricket (or any other sport), its not only about how many runs you score or wickets you take, its about how you do it. Why is a Dravid or Kallis not talked about as a Lara, Sachin or Ponting. Reason the former being accumulators (or boring) and the latter being so entertaining to watch (by the taking the attack to the opposition). Same could be said about someone like McGrath, Pollock as compared to Styen, Wasim Akram, Waqar or Shoiab. McGrath used to bore the batsman out and force them into mistakes (tedious to watch). Whereas the likes of Steyn et. al. goes for runs but also bowl unplayable deliveries. Also Steyn got the best strike rate ever, meaning that he has the amazing ability to bowl wicket taking deliveries almost at will. Don;t forget, hae has decimated India in India twice on his last 2 trips. The best display of swing bowling seen in India for a long time and so fascinating to watch. Check out the archives.

Posted by Keepa-batsman on (April 8, 2012, 1:51 GMT)

Smith vs Strauss- Smith Cook vs Pietersen- Cook Trott vs Amla- Even Pietersen vs Duminy- Pietersen Bell vs DeVilliers- AB Patel vs Kallis- Take an educated guess Prior vs Boucher- Boucher on keeping standard Broad vs Philander- Philander on form Swann vs Steyn- Steyn Bresnan vs Morkel- Morkel Anderson vs DeLange/Tahir- Anderson SA 2, ENG 0 1 DRAW

Posted by Keepa-batsman on (April 8, 2012, 1:44 GMT)

@the_blue_android: wake up please. McGrath took 563 wickets in 13 years, in the same teams as warne 708 wickets, lee 310 wickets, gillespie 259 wickets, magill 200+ wickets, fleming 97, kasprowicz 130, clark 95, miller 70, mcdermott 293, reiffel104, hogg 17, bichel 58, plus over 150 to part timers, then add 380 one day wickets. please sit down.

Posted by vik56in on (April 8, 2012, 0:04 GMT)

Anderson is a good bowler but Steyn is a cricketing great! Steyn also has a good subcontinent record and not to mention that he has to compete with good SA bowlers like philander to earn his wickets.

Posted by fastbowling on (April 7, 2012, 23:20 GMT)

I would like to see a breakdown of Steyn's performance in the subcontinent. He played most of his matches on favorable conditions for fast bowling. Many a fast bowler had their averages re-adjusted over there! Anderson is now as good as Steyn but Steyn hasnt proved his metal like a malcolm marshall did in india or glenn mcgrath. And yes Steyn is no way close to Mcgrath who made Tendulkar and Lara look mere mortals.

Posted by chitraj on (April 7, 2012, 23:03 GMT)

I am quite surprised with the article. Comparisons should always be made against equals. Agreed that Anderson is a very good player, but Steyn is way better. Steyn is without a doubt the best fast bowler in the current generation. Does make for an entertaining read nevertheless.

Also there is one additional thing that is worth mentioning. What if West Indies trounce England (unlikely I know, but with the windies, nothing is certain!). I guess it will still be a battle for number 1 but with Rank 1 (SA) facing Rank 4 (Eng).

Posted by Saffalicious on (April 7, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

What you cannot deny is the fact that Steyn bowls in a team where there is more competition for the wickets. Muralitharin for example, used to take many wickets because he had to bowl a mountain of overs and no-one was taking wickets at the other end. This doesnt deny his ability, but it is difficult to take too many 5fors when 51 of the last 140 wickets available have been taken at the rate of 1 every 4 overs by a member of your own team.

As far as this series goes, I think SA shade the batting, but dominate the bowling comparison. Man for man, probably only Swann would trump the SA counterpart, though underestimate him at your peril.

Posted by BillyCC on (April 7, 2012, 21:40 GMT)

@the_blue_android, I doubt it. But then again, Australians are amongst the most knowledgeable cricketing public in the world.

Posted by the_blue_android on (April 7, 2012, 16:15 GMT)

@BillyCC - you ask who are all these people who think Steyn is better than McGrath? The answer is everyone but Australians!

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

On behalf of Ramiz Raza, I protest that you have not been appreciative of great Pakistani bowling. Shame on you.

Posted by DilbertZA on (April 7, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

SA vs. Eng : The bowling line-ups look pretty even based on current rankings. Regarding the SA bowlers, Steyn have looked close to his best in the recent NZ series, while Morkel seemed to have lifted his game a level, he has added a killer yorker to his repertoire. Philander looked the same. Kallis should not be overlooked, he can still bowl at 140km/h+ Regarding batsmen, SA have got the edge on paper in terms of current ranking, but England is batting at home. It is going to be a great series!

Posted by BillyCC on (April 7, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

Who are all these people who claim Steyn is greater than McGrath? Surely they need to start watching cricket first. It's not just about bowling fast with swing. Give me McGrath's seam and control any day and that was the type of bowling that made Australia number one about a year from when he started right until he retired. McGrath's record is not only better than Steyn's across all conditions home and away; he also sustained it over a period of 11 years. Steyn has not been nearly as consistent throughout this last five year peak period.

Posted by csowmi7 on (April 7, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

No doubt that Anderson is a great bowler but Steyn is just in another class. He is among the best ever to play the game.

Posted by Shan156 on (April 7, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

English haters never cease to amaze me. The article doesn't debate on who is the best bowler. Most English fans would accept that it is Dale Steyn. It just talks about Jimmy Anderson's remarkable improvement in the last 2 years and how is numbers match with Steyn's. Just in the last 2 years. Ok, Jimmy had a poor start to his career. Does it mean that he can never be a good bowler? And, there is another one who says Gul is better. What is that based on? Would you please enlighten? Is it because he hails from your country? Anderson has consistently troubled the best batsmen of 'em all (you can guess who) and has a great record against him. Even Steyn doesn't have those numbers against Sachin. No, that doesn't mean Jimmy is better. It just goes to show that he is a very good bowler and among the best today. Philander has had a great start to his career - even better than Steyn did. But, I would give him more time. Let him prove himself everywhere.

Posted by RandyOZ on (April 7, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

@brittop - the English shouldn't waste their money on the ODIs, Australia is number 1 and we all know England struggle in that format, even against the likes of Bangladesh and Ireland. Whitewash for sure.

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (April 6, 2012, 20:26 GMT)

I had not realised before this article that there would be only three tests this series between England and South Africa. In 2008 and in 2009-10 there were 4 (and in 2004-5, 2003, 1999-2000, and 1998 1995-6 there were 5). Still, if South Africa-Australia has to be a two-test series I guess it's not too surprising. @ Sir_Freddie_Flintoff: surely you jest.

Posted by Major_Hammad on (April 6, 2012, 20:04 GMT)

Steyn is the greatest fast bowler, Steyn is best. Anderson is no near to compare with Steyn. Editor Rajesh should compare Anderson with Morkel, Zaheer, Broad, Gul and other fast bowlers except Steyn and Phillander. Styen is No.1 in Test Ranking from last 2 to 3 years consectively even before Murlidharan retirement. But I'm 100% sure Anderson, Broad, Swann will never become No.1 in Test ranking ever.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

When you compare Anderson's drop in ave per wicket in Asia during the last two years, can you also provide (i) ave of other england bowlers in asia over the same periods (ii) ave runs per wicket scored in asia tests in the same periods ? In short, have the conditions in Asia changed?

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 18:40 GMT)

What about speed home and away?

Posted by brittop on (April 6, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

Sorry for the wind-up. Steyn will rightly be considered to be better than Anderson because of how long it took Jimmy to become the top class bowler he now is. Can't wait for the series. Thought England's attack was better until recently as SA couldn't find a consistent 3rd seamer and had no spinner to speak of. Now with Philander and Tahir, it's pretty even. Ridiculous decision by the ECB to only have 3 tests just so they could have a pointless 5 match ODI series v Aus. Hope no-one goes to see that.

Posted by Pacelover on (April 6, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

Andersons improvement in recent times is remarkable. And it is down to having developed a repeating action and improved accuray. Once apon a time when the ball was swinging, he was dangerous but leaked runs because he searched too hard for the magic ball, then when the ball got old he was cannon fodder. Now he bowls tight lines and can reverse swing the older ball.

Steyns record is great but Anderson holds the edge in one area, when Steyn went to Abu Dhabi to play Pakistan he struggled and averaged mid 40's, Anderson recently played a series there and averaged mid-high 20's. I would say Anderson is more useful on less seam friendly pitches.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (April 6, 2012, 16:47 GMT)

@Pradeep "Umar Gul is better than Jimmy" what do you base that on? Take a look at the stats Anderson has been WAY ahead of Gul the past couple of years. Also, he's a proven performer in any conditions now - not fair to label him as only good in swinging conditions. Philander took a 5 fer on debut in the County Championship today. I'm more worried about him than Steyn tbh.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (April 6, 2012, 16:39 GMT)


Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 16:36 GMT)

This is ludicrous. Steyn is an all time great quick with stats to match. Anderson is a good bowler, nothing more.

Posted by Spelele on (April 6, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

@Asif Zaidi: that is exactly the point though! Anderson, from Jan 2010 has NOT been on par with Steyn statistically. Despite Steyn clearly not having any luck in picking up wickets during that period (dropped catches, play and misses etc.), he has been superior to Anderson. Steyn has averaged 21.84, while Anderson has averaged 23.74. While the gap is not huge, they are NOT on par, and Steyn has not had the same luck as Anderson over that period of time (especially with Philander taking all the wickets). Steyn is still miles ahead of Anderson in terms of greatness. The latter is very good, while the former is great.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 16:15 GMT)

I really think many people have misunderstood this article. Its not trying to say that one or the other is a better bowler. Steyn is the best fast bowler of this generation but the fact is Anderson has raised his game to a similar level and has been performing in all conditions for several years. Its a shame that we can't just admire them both without trying to put one or the other down.

Posted by Spelele on (April 6, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

Well, Anderson relies on skill, consistency and moving it both ways, while Steyn relies on aggression, pace and mostly outswing. Although Anderson's discipline is admirable, Steyn urges him because he can blast batsmen out from nowhere. His bouncer is an added wicket-taking option because of the additional pace. Let's not forget that Steyn destroyed England in the last Test match between the two sides.

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (April 6, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

Anderson is a very good bowler by all means. But he is no destroyer. Can't win a match by himself. and he depends a lot on the conditions. ( Though admittedly he's doing a good job here in Sri Lanka, reminds me a bit of Vaas). But Steyn has seam movement, swing ( both reverse and conventional) and pace. He's the new White Lightening. Anderson has been overhyped by the English Media. Umar Gul is better than Jimmy, and no one speaks of him that way. Same with Swaan. He's decent by all means, but they talk like he's Murali or Warne.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

i dont know but i havent seen any english or aussie commentators and experts praising steyn for his brilliance....steyn is the best bowler in the world for the past 3 years who has done well every where...though people praise him but some of the australians and english experts seem so much biased in the favour of their own bowling attacks...england one is good but aus attack is average and cummins,pattinson are good but have a lot to prove...i dont think siddle,hikfenhaus will succeed to a greater extent outside australia,especially in sub continent... english team still has not done enough to become the undisputed world number one...

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

Both south africa and Eng have two World class bowlers so comparing anderson with steyn is injustice by not comparin broad to philander . On current stats both later bowlers have outshined the above mentioned bowlers .And both teams have third bowlers in shape of morkel and finn that also got more quality than other teams spearheads . Eng will be having an edge as their spin department with swann and monty is way ahead den imran tahir harris SA.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

The author has clearly stated that Anderson from Jan 2010 is on par with Steyn statistically. And in light of Anderson's improved performance, the upcoming SA-Eng should be a feast for cricket lovers. The bowling of SA (Steyn, Philander), bowling of Eng (Anderson, Broad, Bresnan), batting of SA (Amla, deVilliers), batting of Eng (openers, Tott, Pietersen). I am already salivating.

Where in the article does the author claim that Anderson is better than Steyn. Comparision over a specific period is not that unusual. Another reader claimed Steyn is better than McGrath - I really doubt that. McGrath is in the Hadlee/Marshall class. Then the rest start.

Posted by None_for on (April 6, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

Dale Steyn may well end up being the best fast bowler of all time. Anderson is a good bowler going through a great period of form. And it should be mentioned that Dale Steyn basically carried South Africa until the emergence of Vernon Philander.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (April 6, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

The article clearly focusses on Anderson & Steyn's record since 2010. It doesn;t headline with "When their careers are over - who will be viewed as the greater bowler?"! Both teams meet in a few months and their respective form will be crucial. So of course it's a valid point to compare the 2 best fast bowlers in world cricket right now. Personally I think on current form you can't separate them. Think the upcoming series is going to be a humdinger. Cant wait.

Posted by zico123 on (April 6, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

Steyn is much better bowler than Anderson, Anderson is very much over-rated bowler, SA should beat Endland 2-1 and take the top spot inTest erena

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

I still believe that steyn has a long way to go. But to compare him with anderson is just plain stupid. Anderson is a good bowler but steyn is a great bowler. Steyn has pace and swing while anderson only has swing and that too in helping conditions. Anderson has alot to prove, he has to perform well in the subcontinent and has to run through teams.

Posted by intcamd on (April 6, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

Steyn is the best fast bowler of the last 20 years, the best since Ambrose was past his prime. I would put him ahead of Waqar and Mcgrath, if all three were at their peak. This coming from an Indian fan, we are obviously starved of any fast bowlers of any kind. Steyn at his best may equal Wasim at his best,although Wasim was a leftie, which made him extra special.

Comparin Steyn to Anderson is not quite a joke, but bordering on it. Isolating periods, as in March 2010 to Kune 2011, etc makes no sense. What next, comparing a few specific overs bowled in a test to another set of overs by the other guy in a different test? You compare them over their careers, and they are far apart.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (April 6, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

No comparison there lads! Anderson to Steyn is like comparing Jonah Lomu to Shane Willams!...well more like Jonah Lomu to Sonny Bill Williams.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (April 6, 2012, 12:32 GMT)

@Javed_Munir_Dar Your words dont hurt because they're ridiculous. Anderson is by far the second best quick in the world, he is way above average, by definition. Just judging on current bowlers Anderson is way infront of the others (although I don't doubt Philander will close the gap if not overtake him as he looks incredible, glad we can watch him at Somerset this year). Subcontinent fans just seem to have blinkers on when it comes to actually looking at how good a bowler he is. He did used o be a bit rubbish outside of England, not anymore.

Posted by Nuxxy on (April 6, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Steyn, while still bowling excellently, hasn't been able to buy a wicket in the last 10 months or so, mainly because Philander has been grabbing them all. And Morkel could be a much better bowler, but he suffers from the same problem Broad does - bowling too short too often. I'm really eager to see how De Lange progresses - he is inexperienced but faster than both.

Posted by Lekamge on (April 6, 2012, 12:28 GMT)

to Keepa-batsman: Only Anderson vs Steyn makes sense mate. :)

Posted by Praxis on (April 6, 2012, 12:13 GMT)

Ask neutral fans about who is better, most will say Dale Steyn. Though he has been quieter in past 10/12 months but I'm sure he'll be back to his best again.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 12:13 GMT)

@brittop,u mean other SAfrican bowler r not as good thus fecilitating Steyn to take 10fer? a big lol,Steyn in his career had Pollock,Ntini at the other end(far better attack till 2009 compared to England),at present Steyn has the phenomenal Philander and also Morkel at other end...Steyn is way above the league of Anderson,what Jimmy is doing for the last two year is being done by Steyn for the last 7-8yrs...

Posted by rawcrickettalent on (April 6, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

Hmmmm i think there is a very good fast bowling crop grooming up now.... :) there is some raw cricket talent in Cummins,Pattinson,Philander,Steve Finn,De lange and to take it with world class fast bowlers like Steyn(no:1) ,Anderson, Broad etc!! its a shame really that Pak has lost its 2 premier fast bowlers in aamer and asif otherwise fast bowling would be awesome right now!!agree??

Posted by fast_gun on (April 6, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

@brittop. Interesting theory mate. Had it not been for englands reliance on south african born players.

Posted by BellCurve on (April 6, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

Here we go again. The use of arbitrary cut off dates is the ugliest trick in the book. The second and third ugliest tricks are country focus and opponent focus. You can combine these three methods to support just about any point you wish to argue. The fact of the matter is that Anderson is approaching the end of his Test career and is still averaging over 30. It is likely that he will lose form at some point during the next 2-3 years. The England selectors will not hesitate to replace him with a younger model. He will end his career with around 310 wickets at an average of around 31. That is very useful, but not even in the same ballpark as Steyn. Zaheer too is very close to the end of his sell-by date. He looked tired during the last Test against Australia. Now he has two years of cricket on flat Indian pitches to look forward to. I predict his Test average is gong to balloon to 34 before he gets pushed out.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

@brittop the rest of SA's bowlers would get a red carpet entry to your english team. This series couldl be a cracker but remember England..you wont have collingwood to bail you out of the tight situations anymore. ;)

Posted by brittop on (April 6, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

@MrGarreth: Perhaps it's because the rest of the SA bowlers aren't as good as the rest of England's bowlers, that Steyn can get a 10-fer, but Anderson can't.

Posted by Javed_Munir_Dar on (April 6, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

there is no comparison between these two bowlers, Anderson is a fine bowler in English conditions otherwise just an ordinary bowler whereas Dale Steyn is one of the best bowler in any condition in any part of the world, sorry Anderson's fans in case my words hurt u

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (April 6, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

@PunchDrunkPunter...you're kidding, right? That, or you're English and living a fantasy where Anderson is better than Steyn. Absolute nonsense.....

Posted by Nutcutlet on (April 6, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

The head-to-head confrontation between Anderson and Steyn is one that all lovers of Test cricket will anticipate with excitement and great interest this summer. Both should enjoy the conditions in England and it therefore looks to be as even a contest as one could wish for. I would be hesitant to say beforehand who is better, but I will suggest that Anderson does more with the ball than Stein who relies more on sheer pace. Taken as part of the bigger picture - the World #1 Test ranking - being up for grabs, makes this a totally intriguing series - but it's only a three Test series that will compete for sporting headlines with the Olympic games! Who arranges these things? Why, oh why, is it not a five Test series? It promises to be far more competitive that the last Ashes' series, for instance.

Posted by Keepa-batsman on (April 6, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

At the moment it has to be steyn, and might I just comment on how I believe that South Africa's fast bowling depth is second to none in world cricket (apart from the mighty Aussies of the late 90's and early 200's). The names such as De Villiers, Donald, Pollock, Ntini, Nel, and now Steyn, Morkel, Philander, De Lange indicate talents that will surely be remembered in years to come. I eagerly anticipate a battle of the pace attacks when (fitness depending) we will have Steyn vs Anderson, Morkel vs Broad, Bresnan vs Philander. Hopefully SA and their selectors will only persist with Tahir for the subcontinent and leave it up to the pacemenin Englands swing condusive conditions.

Posted by MrGarreth on (April 6, 2012, 8:34 GMT)

This article is clutching at straws. Trying to find reasons why Anderson might be held in the same regard as Steyn. Truth is, no one is more dangerous than Steyn at his best currently. I can think of more memorable performances from Steyn than from Anderson. a 10fer in Australia and a 10fer in India and youre still trying to say Anderson is up there with Steyn? I could bet my entire life savings on Anderson NEVER getting a 10fer in either of those countries. Dont get me wrong, I like Anderson but the history books and those who faced both will one day say the same thing: Steyn = one of the best ever. Anderson = one of the best of that era.

Posted by Busie1979 on (April 6, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

Steyn is clearly number one. Philander has had a brilliant start, but the real test is in two years time. There will be more Aussies in this list shortly. Pattinson could even be the next Steyn if he's managed well. Australia's injury problems and the selectors fetish with chopping and changing means there has been little chance for any of them making this list. If Harris was healthy, people would be comparing him with Steyn. Siddle and Hilfenhaus have improved big time. Cummins could be anything. Coulter-Nile is incredible but untested. Jackson Bird is another possibility. And Bollinger has had a good international career to date. Mitchell Johnson is an unfulfilled talent. Whatever happens, if the selectors can stick with who they think are the best 3 Aussie bowlers and those guys remain healthy, it would be an Aussie dominated list (with Steyn and possibly Philander at the top).

Posted by dariuscorny on (April 6, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

Anderson is bowling good bowls but cannot be considered for a comparison between him and Steyn as the latter was terrific in India even more dangerous than Mcgrath,Donald,Wasim etc.Steyn is a great bowler if not greatest but Anderson is good if not best or great.So the comparison is wastage of time as Steyn is far more superior bowler

Posted by Wefinishthis on (April 6, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

Iqbal you've got to be kidding me. McGrath is a contender for the greatest fast bowler of all time. No other fast bowler has taken more wickets, most dismissals for ducks, very few other than the likes of say Marshall and Walsh have better averages (and that's only by a fraction) and his strike rate and economy are also world class. He was also dominant on every surface in a era of quality batsmen, but what really sets him apart is his ratio of top 6 wickets to tail enders, something no-one else (other than Asif or Ntini) can lay claim to, but to have all of that in one package? Not many contenders out there. There's really not many who could lay claim to being better than McGrath and on those stats he's the guy I'd be giving the new ball to every time. There's a reason Australia's dominance began and ended with McGrath's career (Warne helped as well but we had no problem winning without him since we had MacGill). Let's see Anderson get a hattrick of Campbell, Lara and Adams.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 7:31 GMT)

In the past, Pakistan had always produced some great fast bowlers. What a shame that you can not see a name of any Pakistani fast bowler in the list of "Best averages for fast bowlers in Tests since Jan 2010 ". Muhammad Asif and Amir were fantastic bowlers but deservedly banned from cricket for their involvement in match fixing scandals.

Posted by PunchDrunkPunter on (April 6, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

Anderson now is the best in the world. Steyn was, but he's not any more!

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 6:57 GMT)

Well, it will be injudicious to compare Anderson with Steyn Rationale is to compare steyn with Shane Bond, Alan Donald, Lillee, Hadlee, Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Marshall Holding, or even with new sensational Bowlers like mohammad Aamir or Philandar , could be many more. But it would be unfair to compare Anderson with Dale steyn. Anderson could be compared with other greats like Mc Grath, Sarfraz Nawaz, Kapil dev, Ian Bothem and even his contemporary Staurt Broad.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 6:55 GMT)

This is no surprise for England fans, Anderson did have a hard start to his career but for several years has been just outstanding in all conditions. I've no doubt that Steyn will be remembered as a great of the game and hope Anderson can continue to match him. Its a shame their are not more bowlers of their quality at the moment but as mentioned there are a few very promising quicks just beginning their careers.

Posted by the_blue_android on (April 6, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Dale Steyn is miles ahead of Anderson. We all know how Steyn has performed in India. We'll soon see if Anderson does anything close to him.

Posted by simon_w on (April 6, 2012, 6:20 GMT)

The left-hand / right-hand stats are interesting, especially given how many more right-handers there are in world cricket. The stats suggest that if there were more left-handers than right-handers, Anderson would have much the better record over the last two years!

Posted by mikey76 on (April 6, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

The gap between the two is narrowing all the time. Steyn has the advantage of that extra yard of pace, but Anderson probably gets more swing for longer periods. The summer in England will be fascinating, just hope both bowlers are fit and firing. South Africa may just edge it in the fast bowling dept with Philanders rise, but England have a better spinner, more depth in batting, a better keeper/batsman and a settled opening partnership. Kallis and Amla are SA's strength. Shame its not played over 5 matches. The last few series have been humdingers.

Posted by 36yearsofexperience on (April 6, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

excellent article. Good test match bowling is the best thing in cricket and probably most underrated.

Posted by RandyOZ on (April 6, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

Poor Steyn, compared to a weak Englishman just like Smith was. Oh hang on Smith wasn't, because Strauss is also South African.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (April 6, 2012, 5:21 GMT)

I am so worried to see only two top class fast bowlers left in test cricket. I remember in 90's there were about 6 to 8 bowlers who were greats and before that WI fast bowlers used to attack as a group, still we had 6 more fast bowlers to be called great in 80s. Some how cricket has become batsmen game, we can see a great player easily scoring 10000 runs and a good spinner taking 400 wickets minimum.

Fast bowling is dead in test cricket. My only hope is Phelender. Pakistan lost two of the finest fast bowlers in the world in spot fixing.

If there is no real fast bowler there is no thrill in test cricket. test cricket is boring to death now. So sad.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (April 6, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

For those under the 50 wicket qualification, Pattinson, Harris, Cummins and P.Kumar are all looking good. Such a shame about Asif, he could have been as good as McGrath. Still, for me, the rankings should be Philander, Steyn, daylight, the rest (yes I'm jealous of South Africa's talent atm). Pattinson could be up there, but the stupid Aussie selectors think that Siddle and Hilfenhaus who both average around 30 and continuously allowed England to amass 400+ scores for 2 ashes series in a row are better.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 5:01 GMT)

Anderson is one of the best bowlers in the word, Steyn is one of the greatest ever.

Posted by AliMughal on (April 6, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

Dayle Stayen IS a Aggressive and confident Bowler .. he didn't get confused with his bowling.. He can handle any situation and he can also hit bowl hard with his fast hands :-) Awsome bowler . Consistent Performance ... HEwill ba a legend in Future .. and he is on top no

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (April 6, 2012, 4:36 GMT)

Would have loved to see the batting average of the top 6 batsmen dismissed home and away by both fast bowlers. I strongly feel Anderson will be significantly above Steyn. He did very well in Australia but Steyn did well only in MCG test. Anderson has not toured India in this period, but will encounter a significantly weaker line-up when he does, than Steyn did.

Posted by JustOUT on (April 6, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

Be it is in England or SA or Aus or WI or Sub-continent, it will be always DALE STEYN. Not taking anything from Anderson, he too is a very good bowler. But it will be Steyn who is always ahead of other current fast bowlers and he is still proving that with the above stats. But watch out for philander..

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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