50 Greatest Bowlers in the History of Cricket- Part 2

In the inaugural part of this list, we looked at numbers 50-41 of the greatest bowlers in the history of cricket. Now let us move further up in the list and glance at the next ten legends on the list. So, here numbers 40-31.


40. FAZAL MAHMOOD (PAK) Right Arm Fast-Medium (1943-64)

Tests- 34, Wickets- 139, Avg- 24.70, 5W- 13, Best- 7/42

466 FC wickets at 18.96 with 38 five-wicket hauls

One always wonders how Pakistan has produced so many great fast bowlers when India has struggled to find even a handful even though the two nations share the same culture and landmass. I might not have the answer to that question, but I can name the man who began the trend for Pakistan. Fazal Mahmood was Pakistan’s first great quick, spearheading their first attack to several memorable victories against arch-rivals India. Tall, fair and handsome, Mahmood was Pakistan’s very own poster boy of cricket. They called him Pakistan’s Bedser and the comparison was a compliment to both greats. The way Mahmood brought pace, swing and accuracy all together, it seemed as if he was – in the words of Neil Harvey – “making the ball talk”.

39. CHARLIE TURNER (AUS) Right Arm Medium Fast (1882-1910)

Tests- 17, Wickets- 101, Avg- 16.53, 5W- 11, Best- 7/43

993 FC wickets at 14.25 with 102 five-wicket hauls

Image: (c) Getty Images

They called him ‘Terror’ because that is what he invoked in the opposition batsmen. One of the most dominant bowlers of all time, Charles Thomas Biass Turner was one of the first greats of the game and the predominant great Australian fast bowler of his generation. His only rival for the throne of the greatest of his age was England’s George Lohmann and despite Lohmann’s unparalleled exploits, Turner gave the Surrey quick quite the run for his money. During his first tour to England, Turner wreaked havoc, taking 314 wickets at 11.12. In the Tests, he took 21 wickets in 3 games at 12.42. In fact, Turner never averaged over 30 in a Test series, a feat beyond belief in today’s time.

38. LANCE GIBBS (WI) Right Arm Offbreak (1953-76)

Tests- 79, Wickets- 309, Avg- 29.09, 5W- 18, Best- 8/38

Spinners from the West Indies are a rare sight indeed. So it was quite a shocker when Lance Gibbs, a Caribbean spinner (yes, they’re not a myth) ended up as the leading wicket taker in the world when he broke Freddie Trueman’s record of 307 Test wickets in his final Test. Throughout the 1960s, Gibbs was arguably the best spinner in the world, taking over the mantle of the first-choice Windies spinner from Ramadhin. He combined some amazing spin with fierce accuracy and steep bounce to confound batsman from across the globe for nearly two decades.

37. CHAMINDA VAAS (SL) Left Arm Fast Medium (1990-2012)

Tests- 111, Wickets- 355, Avg- 29.58, 5W- 12, Best- 7/71

ODIs- 322, Wickets- 400, Avg- 27.53, 4W- 13, Best- 8/19

T20Is- 6, Wickets- 6, Avg- 21.33, Best- 2/14

Undoubtedly the greatest fast bowler from his country, Vaas shouldered Sri Lanka’s new ball attack mostly single-handedly throughout the 1990s and 2000s and that too, with both style and substance. His bowling average might be on the wrong side of the 20s, but that is much die to the fact that he has bowled mostly on the bland and flat pitches of the subcontinent that offer no or little help to fast bowlers like him. Experts widely rate him as one of the best left-arm fast bowlers of all time, probably only behind Wasim Akram of Pakistan and Alan Davidson of Australia.

36. KAPIL DEV (IND) Right Arm Fast-Medium (1975-94)

Tests- 131, Wickets- 434, Avg- 29.64, 5W- 23, Best- 9/83

ODIs- 225, Wickets- 253, Avg- 27.45, 4W- 4, Best- 5/43

Just how good can a bowler perform with the new ball if he has no consistent support from the other end? Kapil proved that even in the absence of speed, bounce and support, one can go on to be one of the greatest ever, solely on the basis of one’s determination and discipline. He was no Hadlee or Imran with the ball, but he could generate enormous amount of swing and bowled with a pace unprecedented for an Indian fast bowler. He shouldered India’s attack longer than any other bowler in the country’s history and never faltered along the way. A big game player, Kapil reserved his best for the big occasions and it does not come as a surprise that it was him who led India to their first World Cup triumph.

35. KEITH MILLER (AUS) Right Arm Fast (1937-59)

Tests- 55, Wickets- 170, Avg- 22.97, 5W- 7, Best- 7/60

They say no one could turn around a match with both the bat and ball the way Keith Miller could. One of the greatest all-rounders the game has seen, Miller’s transition from a classical top order batsman to a tearaway opening bowler was unprecedented and remarkable at the same time. A remarkable average of below 23 is testament to his bowling prowess which time and again demolished batting line ups across the world. He feared no one and the world feared him. He once sent down several bouncers down Bradman’s throat in a provincial game just to prove he could the better of the great man. West Indies captain John Goddard once said, “Give us Keith Miller and we’d beat the world.” Such was his class.

34. SIR IAN BOTHAM (ENG) Right Arm Fast-Medium (1974-93)

Tests- 102, Wickets- 383, Avg- 28.40, 5W- 27, Best- 8/34

ODIs- 116, Wickets- 145, Avg- 28.54, 4W- 3, Best- 4/31

No one has contributed more to a team than Ian Botham. When he was there, England were world-beaters. In his absence, they looked like a bunch of lost pre-schoolers. Within a year of his first-class debut, he was playing for England and within three years of that, he was already one of the best bowlers in the world having taken 139 wickets in just 25 Tests at 18.52. But the best was yet to come. The 1981 Ashes series will always be remembered as Botham’s Ashes as England’s prodigal son took 34 wickets at 20.58 along with 399 runs at 36.27 to give England one of the greatest Ashes victories of all time.

33. SIR ALEC BEDSER (ENG) Right Arm Medium-Fast (1939-60)

Tests- 51, Wickets- 236, Avg- 24.89, 5W- 15, Best- 7/44

1924 FC wickets at 20.41 with 96 five-wicket hauls

More than all the batsmen that dominated his decade, Bedser was responsible for the revival of English cricket after the Second World War. He spearheaded a strong English attack comprising of himself, Brian Statham and Frank Tyson, and led them to several routs of a strong Australian side in the 1950s. He bowled England to an unforgettable Ashes triumph in 1953, snaring 39 wickets at an amazing average of 17.48. Powerfully built and extremely quick, Bedser was also incredibly fit for his age. Despite of the fact that he played Tests till the age of 37, he left the field only once in his entire career.

32. DEREK UNDERWOOD (ENG) Slow Left Arm Orthodox (1963-87)

Tests- 86, Wickets- 297, Avg- 25.83, 5W- 17, Best- 8/51

WSC Matches- 4, Wickets- 16, Avg- 25.87, 5W- 0, Best- 4/59

ODIs- 26, Wickets- 32, Avg- 22.93, 4W- 1, Best- 4/44

2465 FC wickets at 20.28 with 153 five-wicket hauls

On rain-affected pitches, Derek Underwood was a giant; virtually unplayable. His teammates at Kent conferred on him the nickname ‘Deadly’ and he proved them right in a long and consistent career with the English side. England’s last great spinner, Underwood was known for his accuracy, biting pace and stunning variation. He burst on to the scene taking 100 wickets in his debut first-class season at the age of 18. He went on to fulfil all the promises he displayed in this early age by finishing as England’s most successful spinner in Tests. Had he not dropped out of Tests for World Series Cricket and the rebel tour to South Africa (the moves cost him 5 years of international cricket), he would surely have added another 100 Test wickets to his tally.

31. WES HALL (WI) Right Arm Fast (1955-71)

Tests- 48, Wickets- 192, Avg- 26.38, 5W- 9, Best- 7/69

For any batsman in the 1960s, there was no sight more frightening than a charged up Wes Hall steaming down his run up to deliver his 90mph projectiles of terror. He showed his true class by claiming 46 wickets in 8 Tests at 17.76 in the 1958 tour to the subcontinent where he terrorised the Asian batsmen even on the flat and low pitches of India and Pakistan. In 1962, he demolished a strong Indian batting line up comprising of Pataudi, Umrigar, Jaisimha, Sardesai and Manjrekar as he nabbed 27 wickets in 5 games at just 15.74. He averaged just 20.05 on the flat Asian pitches (54 wickets in 11 Tests), a testament to his greatness.

In the next installment of the list, we take a look at numbers 30-21 in our countdown to the greatest bowler in cricket history.


About Mad Crazy Hatter

Well, honestly the world ain't such a dull place after all. There are queer new developments happenin' everyday. I'm just one crazy fella who loves to observe, ridicule and dissect the craziness called life.

Posted on April 20, 2012, in The Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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