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Ranking The Top 10 Best Bowlers of All Time

Best Bowlers All Time

Cricket might have become a batsman’s game but a good bowler is an indispensable asset to any team. Bowlers are the real match winners for a team.

The sight of a fast bowler running in with full rhythm, clocking 150kmps, swinging the ball and uprooting the stumps of the batsman is a sight which can only be equated with that of a spinner beating the batsman with all the guile, spin and sending him back to pavillion. It’s that fun which makes bowlers a special part of the game.

A good bowler can win a game on his own. Over the years there have been some legendary bowlers to have played the game. Picking out a top 10 from them is quite a tough task. Some legends who missed out were Dennis Lillee, Courtney Walsh,Jeff Thompson, Joel Garner,Sydney Barnes, Miachel Holding etc.

#10. Waqar Younis

Tests: Matches: 87, Wickets: 373 at 23.56, 22 5-wicket and 3-10 wicket hauls, BBI: 7/76, BBM: 13/135

ODIs: Matches: 262, Wickets: 416 at 23.84, 13 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 7/36

A part of one of the most deadly duos, Waqar Younis was a treat to watch. Nicknamed the “Burewala Express” he used the reverse swing to decimate the stumps of even the best of the batsmen.

As a fast bowler, he was a trendsetter. He brought a paradigm shift in the art of fast bowling.

As opposed to the idea of bowling “short and fast”, he brought the idea of bowling fast and full, aiming for the batsman’s toes. This ability earned him the nickname “toe-crusher”.

The value of his wickets increases when we learn the fact that he played half of his cricket on the tailor made pitches of the sub-continent.

#9. Sir Curtly Ambrose

Tests: Matches: 98, Wickets: 405 at 20.99, 22 5-wicket and 3 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 8/45, BBM: 11/84

ODIs: Matches: 176, Wickets: 225 at 24.13, 4 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 5/17

Almost 2 metres tall and with serious pace, Sir Curtly Ambrose was a threat to batsmen of his era.

He had a wide repertoire of deliveries in his stock ranging from the bouncer, the Yorker to the slower ball, one which he used to good effect in limited overs cricket.

The major highlight of his career was when he decimated the Australians with his brilliance. In his spell of 32 balls, he gave away just 1 run and picked up 7 wickets in what is seen as one of the best spells in cricket ever.

Of the field he was known to be a shy personality who never gave interviews and thus was coined the phrase “Curtly talk to no man”.

#8. James Anderson

Test: Matches: 160, Wickets: 614 at 26.47, 30 5-wicket and 3 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 7/42, BBM: 11/71

ODIs: Matches: 194, Wickets: 269 at 29.22, 2 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 5/23

James Anderson has been a perfect example of the term ” Ageing like fine wine”. He is the best swing bowler in the world currently. Still going strong at 38,he gives us a perfect glimpse of how fit he is.

With the most wickets for a pacer in Tests, he has dismissed the great Sachin Tendulkar a record 9 times, a testimony of his greatness. Not only against Tendulkar, even Miachel Clarke and Jaques Kallis have struggled against this exponent of swing bowling.

Spending more than 18 years in international cricket gives us a peak of his durability.

It’s no wonder that even the legendary Wasim Akram considers him the best pacer down under.

#7. Shane Warne

Test: Matches: 145, Wickets: 708 at 25.42, 37 5-wicket and 10 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 8/71, BBM: 12/128

ODI: Matchea: 194, Wickets: 293 at 25.74, 1 5-wicket haul, BBM: 5/33

Shane Warne, unarguably, has been the best leg-spinner of all time. He redefined spin bowling like never before.

Apart from getting notorious turn off the pitch, a quality which made him very vulnerable, he was very accurate- a skill which is very tough for a leg-spinner to conquer. No one can forget his ball of century to “Mike Gatting”, which left the batsman completely dazzled.

He was not unknown to controversies though and his on-field altercations with his peers would be enjoyed by fans all over the world.

More than 1000 international wickets and his aura on the field surely ensure that Warne gets a place among the greats of the game.

#6. Muttiah Muralitharan

Test: Matches: 133, Wickets: 800 at 22.73, 67 5-wicket and 22 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 9/51, BBM: 16/220

ODI: Matches: 350, Wickets: 534 at 23.08, 10 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 7/30

For a better part of his career Muralitharan has been subjected to controversies regarding his action. But none would be sceptical of the fact that he weaved pure magic whenever at field.

He has bamboozled the best of the batsmen by his prodigious spin, subtle variations and often been a one man army for Sri Lanka.

He was often alleged of having cheap wickets but even if he take his records against the top teams we see that his average (612 wickets at 24.73) is better than even Shane Warne(25.42).

Thus, it is safe to say that he is to bowling what Sachin Tendulkar is to batting.

#5. Dale Steyn

Tests: Matches: 93 Wickets: 439 at 22.95, 26 5-wicket and 5 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 7/51, BBM: 11/60

ODIs: Matches-125, Wickets: 196 at 25.96, 3 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 6/39

A predator’s eyes, bellicose attitude and a mindset to get into the nerves of even the best batsmen made him arguably the best fast bowler ever. And then there was that celebration which seemed like a lion celebrate after a successful hunt.

We are quite accustomed to the sight of Dale Steyn running in with full throttle, clicking his signature outswinger at 150ks and demolishing batting attacks.

His limited over record might have been cut short due to injuries but his record in the longest format prove his glory.

We are quite reminiscent of his battles with some of the greats of the game.

Being a part of some of the most memorable victories for his team, he might would have wanted to finish with a World Cup to his illustrious tally. But, unfortunately, fate had other preferences. That, surely wouldn’t deny him a position among the greats of the game.

#4. Malcolm Marshall

Tests: Matches: 81, Wickets: 376 at 20.94, 22 5-wickets and 4 10-wickets hauls, BBI: 7/22, BBM: 11/89

ODIs: Matches: 136, Wickets: 157 at 26.96, BBM: 4/18

The fact that Malcolm Marshall was a part of the famous quartet and even after bowling with them still ended with these many wickets is quite commendable.

He was not quite tall but extracted good bounce and movement of the pitch. He had a mean bouncer and a good Yorker too and these things made him perhaps the most complete bowler of his generation.

He even bowled quite well on the dustbowls of the sub-continent pitches which are reflected by his average in Asia.

#3. Glenn McGrath

Tests: Matches: 124, Wickets: 563 at 21.64, 29 5-wicket and 3 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 8/24, BBM: 10/27

ODIs: Matches: 250, Wickets-381 at 22.02, 7 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 7/15

Good is ubiquitous, Greatness rare. And there is something rarer which we know as Glenn McGrath.

He wasn’t the most intimidating nor had many variations. But he had this one element which most of his compatriots lacked-relentless accuracy.

It was this accuracy which fetched him close to a thousand international wickets and his low economy bears the fact that he would return with modest figures every time.

Off the field he campaigns for breast cancer after losing his wife due it. These attributes of this legend are ample proof of the fact that he’s a legend on or off the field.

#2. Wasim Akram

Tests: Matches: 104, Wickets: 414 at 23.62, 25 5-wicket and 5 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 7/119, BBM: 11/110

ODIs: Matches: 356, Wickets: 502 at 23.53, 6 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 5/15

The best left hander bowler of all time and unarguably the greatest to emerge from Pakistan, Wasim Akram was one of the rare talents who never played a first-class match.

Known as the “Sultan of Swing”, he had a lot of variations up his sleeve. Clearly, there has been no other swing bowler as great as Wasim Akram.

At a young age of 25 he, out of nowhere, produced one of the best spells and guided Pakistan to their only world cup win till date.

That he was a great bowler is also evident of the fact that batsman often used to play him out and never tried to attack him.

His battles with major batsman over the years are still crafted in fans’ mind.

He would have ended with much more wickets if not for Pakistan’s poor fielding and poor umpiring decisions of contemporary umpires.

All in all, he was and will be always remembered as the initial purveyor of swing bowling.

#1. Sir Richard Hadlee

Tests: Matches: 86, Wickets: 431 at 22.3, 36 5-wicket and 9 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 9/52, BBM: 15/123

ODIs: Matches: 115, Wickets: 158 at 21.56, 5 5-wicket hauls, BBM: 5/25

New Zealand’s best cricketer and their biggest match winner by a fair distance, Sir Richard Hadlee made heads turn and batsman kneel before him.

Many often consider him the greatest fast bowler ever solely because he could produce that unplayable deliveries. Those were certain deliveries off which batsman could only survive by a stroke of luck.

His 173 wickets at 13.06 in 22 Kiwi victories are a mirror image of his match-winning skills.

He had a vicious skill of making the ball talk and has made batsmen dance to his tune. The most famous of his performances were the famous 15/123 figures at Gabba leading his team to a famous win over a strong Aussie side.

He had reserved his best for Australia, against whom he took 130 wickets from 23 matches. He ended his career in a similar fashion, by taking a wicket of his final ball.

So, did you like our list of the Top 10 Best Bowlers of all time? Mail us to give us your feedback.


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