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Akram lauds "number one" Anderson

By Chris Devine

Legendary Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram has labelled James Anderson the best bowler in the world and believes the leader of England's attack has "mastered the art" of reverse swing.

Renowned for his ability to move the ball at pace, left-armer Wasim claimed 414 Test wickets and a further 502 in one-day internationals during a glittering career.

He also enjoyed great success as a county cricketer with Lancashire and feels his former club now boast the game's premier seamer in Anderson.

"For me, at the moment, he is the number one bowler in the world," Wasim told yesterday at Grappenhall Cricket Club in Warrington, where he was guesting for Australia in a charity legends match against England.

"I've seen a lot of bowlers in the last 10 years but Jimmy Anderson is at the top of the ladder.

"It's actually a treat to watch a bowler like him. I think he is at the peak of his game."

Having worked hard to develop his skills, Anderson is now able to pose a threat in any conditions, a fact emphasised by his impressive performances on recent tours of Australia and the sub-continent.

His prowess as an exponent of reverse swing has certainly caught the eye of Wasim, who added: "In my book, he has mastered the art now. I'm very impressed."

Wasim was not the only former Test cricketer to lavish praise on Anderson at Grappenhall.

Ex-England paceman Andy Caddick also paid tribute to the 31-year-old, who currently sits third on his country's list of Test wicket-takers, five behind Bob Willis.

"He's in his prime now," said Caddick of Anderson. "He's got a few years left and I think you'll see a lot of better bowling from Jimmy because he is the finished article and he knows his game.

"When you start knowing your game as a bowler you are going to continue doing very well."

Caddick, a veteran of 62 Tests and 54 ODIs, also expects Steven Finn to bounce back from his recent dip in form.

Finn was left out of England's squad for the third Investec Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford, but Caddick points to Anderson as a perfect example to follow.

"I think he (Finn) has just got to show consistency. Jimmy was the same," said Caddick. "He came into the side in 2003 at the World Cup and then had a struggle. He went away, worked on his game and to his credit he's come back as a better bowler and that's what pace bowlers need to do.

"Finny's got a long time ahead of him. He's a fantastic bowler.He bowls wicket-to-wicket, has got tall levers, hits the wicket hard and bowls at 90mph, so you can't be a better bowler than that."

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