50 Greatest Bowlers in the History of Cricket- Part 3
In part 2 of our countdown for the greatest bowler ever, we looked at numbers 40-31. Now let us move forward ten paces and look at bowling legends no. 30 t0 21 in the Hatter’s List of the 50 Greatest Bowlers in the History of Cricket.
30. BOB WILLIS (ENG) Right Arm Fast (1969-84)
Tests- 90, Wickets- 325, Avg- 25.20, 5W- 16, Best- 8/43
ODIs- 64, Wickets- 80, Avg- 24.60, 5W- 4, Best- 4/11
If there was an award for courage in the cricketing world, it should very well be named after Bob Willis. When he was 26, he had operations on both his knees, which meant he was in constant pain whenever he played. In fact, on certain days, he needed to run five miles in order to generate the strength to play. It was only through his will that Willis managed to play and succeed at the top level for nine more years. At 6 feet 6 inches, Willis was an intimidating fast bowler, one of the fastest England have ever produced. His pace, bounce, aggression and swing made him deadly on all kinds of pitches across the world.
29. RAY LINDWALL (AUS) Right Arm Fast (1941-62)
Tests- 61, Wickets- 228, Avg- 23.03, 5W- 12, Best- 7/38
Lindwall was Australia’s post-war bowling spearhead; a genuine all-rounder, a master of pace and swing and a bowler who could extract anything and everything from the pitch in all sorts of conditions. His opponents both feared and revered his devastating opening spells, reminiscent of pre-war greats like Larwood (on whom he modelled his action and bowling style). His peak came at a time when the world was abundant with quality batsmen like Hutton, Compton, Hazare, Worrell, Mankad, Weekes, Walcott and Hanif. Even then, Lindwall managed favourable returns against all the teams of his time, barring Pakistan against whom he only played 3 Tests. For those still in doubt about his bowling skills, his autobiography is called ‘Flying Stumps’.
28. BHAGWATH CHANDRASEKHAR (IND) Legbreak (1963-80)
Tests- 58, Wickets- 242, Avg- 29.74, 5W- 16, Best- 8/79
1063 FC wickets at 24.03 with 75 five-wicket hauls
Among the famed Indian spin quartet comprising of Chandra, Bedi, Venkat and Prasanna, no one could turn the ball like Chandra; no one could take wickets in demanding overseas conditions like him, no one could master the bouncy pace-friendly pitches of Australia and South Africa like he did; but most importantly no one could win matches like him. Others might have better records than him but Chandra was a true match-winner, delivering when the team needed his services the most. Remarkably consistent across the globe, Chandra did not let a childhood outbreak of polio deter him from achieving his dream. He turned this handicap into a gift, delivering legbreak rippers and baffling googlies at near medium pace and cementing his place as one of the greatest bowlers ever from his country.
27. FRED SPOFFORTH (AUS) Right Arm Fast-Medium (1874-88)
Tests- 18, Wickets- 94, Avg- 18.41, 5W- 7, Best- 7/44
853 FC wickets at 14.95 with 84 five-wicket hauls
Not only was Spofforth the first great fast bowler ever, he was also cricket’s first true fast bowler- one with deadly accuracy, overpowering aggression and good pace. His terrorising effect on the opposition batsmen earned him his larger than life nickname- ‘Demon’. It was his crippling 7/44 that gave England their first ever Test defeat and gave birth to the legend of Ashes. He was the first man to take a hat trick in Tests and his 14/90 at the Oval remains the second best performance by an Australian till date. Had business concerns not forced him to retire at the age of 34, Spofforth would surely have taken his already legendary career to even greater heights.
26. ANDY ROBERTS (WI) Right Arm Fast (1969-84)
Tests- 47, Wickets- 202, Avg- 25.61, 5W- 11, Best- 7/54
WSC Matches- 13, Wickets- 50, Avg- 24.14, 5W- 1, Best- 6/69
ODIs- 56, Wickets- 87, Avg- 20.35, 4W- 3, Best- 5/22
Had Sergio Leone seen Roberts bowl, Clint Eastwood would probably never have become the star that he is today. Roberts was the gun slinging cowboy of the cricketing world, intimidating batsmen with those penetrating and expressionless eyes. He was the first of the great Caribbean quicks, who helped West Indies dominate world cricket for over two decades. By the time, he joined Packer’s circus in 1977; Roberts was already one of the best in the world having taken 103 wickets in just 20 Tests at 22.56 as well as 17 wickets in 9 ODIs at 15.00. His pace was all about timing and accuracy and had no room for any showmanship. According to him, the measure of a good bowler was the wickets he took and not the bones he broke.
25. SHAUN POLLOCK (RSA) Right Arm Fast-Medium (1991-2008)
Tests- 108, Wickets- 421, Avg- 23.11, 5W- 16, Best- 7/87
ODIs- 303, Wickets- 393, Avg- 24.50, 4W- 17, Best- 6/35
T20Is- 12, Wickets- 15, Avg- 20.60, Best- 3/28
No one quite epitomizes the adage of “like father like son” like Shaun Maclean Pollock. His dad Peter made cut at no. 48 earlier in this list, while uncle Graeme was no. 16 in the corresponding batting list and Shaun rounds up the family gig here. Basically, Pollock was a line and length bowler, keeping the runs in check and the batsmen frustrated. An ODI economy rate of 3.67 speaks volumes of his expertise in this field. But there was never any doubt that he could take wickets as well. Partnering Allan Donald in the first half of his career and Makhaya Ntini in the second half, Pollock ripped through several celebrated batting line-ups, ending up as the leading wicket taker for South Africa in both ODIs and Tests.
24. SAQLAIN MUSHTAQ (PAK) Right Arm Offbreak (1994-2008)
Tests- 49, Wickets- 208, Avg- 29.83, 5W- 13, Best- 8/164
ODIs- 169, Wickets- 288, Avg- 21.78, 4W- 17, Best- 5/20
No country disregards its champions more than Pakistan and even then, somehow, they just keep producing more and more of them in each generation. Saqlain was a trendsetter, the pioneer of that H-bomb called the ‘doosra’. In his peak, Saqlain rivalled the likes of Warne and Muralitharan for the title of the best spinner in the world. Even though his career was peppered with controversies and injuries, he still managed to cement his place as the best spinner ever from his country. In Tests, he was a master, but in ODIs he was nothing short of a wizard. He raced away to 100 ODI wickets faster than anyone else in the game. Sadly though, apathy from his home association meant that his last international appearance came at the age of just 27.
23. DALE STEYN (RSA) Right Arm Fast (2003-12)
Tests- 54, Wickets- 272, Avg- 23.18, 5W- 17, Best- 7/51
ODIs- 63, Wickets- 91, Avg- 28.62, 4W- 4, Best- 5/50
T20Is- 21, Wickets- 29, Avg- 18.31, Best- 4/9
As the 21st century began, many feared that the art of fast bowling was slowly dying. Most of its flag bearers (Akram, McGrath, Walsh, Waqar, Donald, and Pollock) were aging and about to retire soon. The world needed a new fast bowling champion. Enter Dale Willem Steyn! Dale Steyn is the greatest bowler in the world today and he is far ahead of any competition that exists. He has already claimed enough records to be considered one of the all-time greats of the game and he is only 28 and at the peak of his bowling powers. Considering the stalwarts he bowls against (Tendulkar, Dravid, Ponting, Chanderpaul, Sangakkara, Pietersen, etc.) his performances become even more astounding.
22. GEORGE LOHMANN (ENG) Right Arm Fast-Medium (1884-97)
Tests- 18, Wickets- 112, Avg- 10.75, 5W- 9, Best- 9/28
1841 FC wickets at 13.73 with 176 five-wicket hauls
There have been very few bowlers who have dominated batsmen in their time and none have managed to match the extent of George Lohmann’s overpowering domination of the batsmen of his generation. His figures speak volumes of his bowling prowess but cricket is much more than just the statistics. He was purely a medium pacer but possessed the ability to seam the ball both ways. This ability, along with dangerous innovations and experimentations, made him the greatest bowler of his times and one of the greatest ever. He started slow, taking just 1 wicket at 87 in his first two Tests but never looked back after that, amassing 111 wickets in his next 16 games at 10.07, including four 8-wicket hauls and a world record 9/28.
21. ANIL KUMBLE (IND) Legbreak Googly (1989-2010)
Tests- 132, Wickets- 619, Avg- 29.65, 5W- 35, Best- 10/74
ODIs- 271, Wickets- 337, Avg- 30.89, 4W- 10, Best- 6/12
1136 FC wickets at 25.83 with 72 five-wicket hauls
For a spinner, Anil Kumble hardly turned the ball much. He did not possess a great amount of turn or variation but relied more on bounce and pace (typically the weapons of medium pacers and not spinners) but even then, this lion-heart from India emerged as one of the most successful bowlers of all time. His unusual action and bowling method made him virtually unplayable on wearing pitches (as Pakistan discovered at Kotla in 99). In a long and gritty career, Kumble revived spin bowling (along with Warne and Muralitharan) and claimed every Indian bowling record in the book. By the time he retired, Kumble was the third most successful bowler in international cricket history.
Next time, we move in the big league, looking at the back end of the 20 greatest bowlers the game has ever seen. The penultimate part coming soon!
Posted on April 24, 2012, in The Lists and tagged all-time greatest bowlers, andy roberts, anil kumble, bob willis, cricket, dale steyn, fred spofforth, george lohmann, greatest bowlers ever, history of cricket, saqlain mushtaq, shaun pollock. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.