Chris Waters: Anderson is benefiting from Bayliss's new England philosophy

AT first glance there was nothing unusual about the headline on the International Cricket Council press release.

England's James Anderson leaves the field after taking 10 wickets against Sri Lanka in this summer's first Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley (Picture:: Nigel French/PA Wire).

“Anderson becomes number-one ranked Test bowler,” read the announcement issued last Tuesday.

On closer inspection, however, the fact that James Anderson had replaced Stuart Broad in pole position threw up a quite remarkable discovery.

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For Anderson had never previously been the No 1-ranked bowler in Test cricket, a fact that will startle his many supporters.

The right-arm pace man, who is England’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with 451 at 28.33, is widely regarded as one of the finest bowlers the game has seen.

His command of swing – especially in English conditions – is exceptional, and his prodigious powers show no sign of abating as he approaches his 34th birthday.

Indeed, rumours of Anderson’s demise, after he managed only seven wickets in three Tests against South Africa last winter at 43, have proved premature.

He has already captured 18 wickets in the current series against Sri Lanka at an average of 7.72, including three five-wicket hauls in four innings.

Anderson, who reached the 450-wicket mark in taking 5-58 in last week’s second Test at Chester-le-Street, is the fourth England man to top the world rankings.

Ian Botham achieved the feat in 1980, Steve Harmison climbed to No 1 in 2004, and Broad ascended to top spot after the Johannesburg Test earlier in the year.

As an aside, Yorkshire have two players in the top three of the Test match batting rankings.

Joe Root is second and Kane Williamson third, with Australia captain Steve Smith occupying first place.

Anderson, indeed, has been in splendid form all season for club and country.

He perhaps needed overs under his belt after the South Africa tour and promptly got them with Lancashire at the start of the summer, playing an important part in helping the Red Rose county to make a flying start in the County Championship after promotion from Division Two.

In all cricket this season, he has taken 34 wickets at 13.29.

It perhaps emphasises that bowlers need to bowl as much as batsmen need to bat, and it bucks the trend for prolonged rest periods that were prevalent under previous England regimes.

Indeed, Trevor Bayliss, who was appointed England head coach last year, is a firm believer that England players need to play as much Championship cricket as international commitments allow.

Yorkshire have already benefited from that philosophy this season, having had Jonny Bairstow available for their first four games and Joe Root for two of their first four. It is a sensible move and one which, in Anderson’s case, has apparently paid dividends.

In fact, he appears to have so much life left in the tank that he must have a chance of overtaking Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 wickets to achieve the most wickets by a pace bowler in Tests.

Next in his sights is the 519 of West Indian pace bowler Courtney Walsh, who is fifth on an all-time list that is headed by spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.

For now, Anderson can content himself with being No 1 in the world, a magnificent achievement by a magnificent bowler.