50 Greatest Bowlers in the History of Cricket- Part 4

Last time around, we took a look at bowling legends no. 30-21 in the Hatter’s list of the 50 greatest bowlers in the history of cricket. Now is the time to look at the big boys in numbers 20 to 11. Here are the next ten greatest bowlers the game has ever seen.


20. COURTNEY WALSH (WI) Right Arm Fast (1981-2001)

Tests- 132, Wickets- 519, Avg- 24.44, 5W- 22, Best- 7/37

ODIs- 205, Wickets- 227, Avg- 30.47, 4W- 7, Best- 5/1

1807 FC wickets at 21.71 with 104 five-wicket hauls

At 6 feet 7, Courtney Walsh was not just any fast bowler; he was perhaps the scariest of the lot- the bogeyman of his generation. Express pace bowlers have a limited shelf life. In order to survive longer, they either drop their pace or reduce their workload. Walsh did neither. No other bowler has managed to bowl with such fierce pace and accuracy for such long on the international scene and that too, with such remarkable consistency. His untiring vigil earned him the world record for most test wickets in 1999 and he later became the first bowler to reach the mark of 500 Test wickets. In the ODIs too, he was a formidable combination of pace, aggression and accuracy making him one of the most economical bowlers around.


19. IMRAN KHAN (PAK) Right Arm Fast (1969-92)

Tests- 88, Wickets- 362, Avg- 22.81, 5W- 23, Best- 8/58

WSC Matches- 5, Wickets- 25, Avg- 20.84, 5W- 0, Best- 4/24

ODIs- 175, Wickets- 182, Avg- 26.61, 4W- 4, Best- 6/14

1287 FC wickets at 22.32 with 70 five-wicket hauls

507 List A wickets at 22.31 with 18 four-wicket hauls

No one can challenge Imran Khan for the spot of being Pakistan’s finest cricketer ever. He was the man who took cricket from a hobby to a craze in the country. Handsome, suave, outspoken and phenomenally talented, Imran was just the role model the Pakistani youth were looking for. As a bowler, it was him and Intikhab Alam who pioneered the reverse swing and took the world by storm in the 80s. His reverse swinging yorkers were the best thing to have happened to bowling since Larwood’s bouncers half a century ago. Just like wine, Imran got better with age. He averaged just 19 with the ball in his last 10 years in Test cricket.


18. JOEL GARNER (WI) Right Arm Fast (1975-92)

Tests- 58, Wickets- 259, Avg- 20.97, 5W- 7, Best- 6/56

WSC Matches- 7, Wickets- 35, Avg- 24.77, 5W- 1, Best- 5/52

ODIs- 98, Wickets- 146, Avg- 18.84, 4W- 5, Best- 5/31

881 FC wickets at 18.53 with 48 five-wicket hauls

397 List A wickets at 16.61 with 23 four-wicket hauls

The ‘Big Bird’ was the scariest bowler who ever lived. When he delivered those 90mph bouncers from those giant shoulders and a frame of 6 feet 8 inches, it was indeed an intimidating sight to say the least. Garner was fast and menacing, possessing the ability to make the ball bounce from short of length rendering the batsman incapable of offering any shot to it. His toe-shattering Yorker was another lethal weapon in his arsenal and was used in abundance in the finishing overs of a one-day game. In Tests, few bowlers have a better average than him but in ODIs no one comes anywhere close to his figures.


17. FRED TRUEMAN (ENG) Right Arm Fast (1949-69)

Tests- 67, Wickets- 307, Avg- 21.57, 5W- 17, Best- 8/31

2304 FC wickets at 18.29 with 126 five-wicket hauls

In 1964, Fred Trueman became the first man to claim 300 Test wickets. In the five decades since, 23 more men have crossed that mark but only two have a better average than Freddie Trueman’s 21.57. In his heyday, Trueman was the best bowler in the world and that too by a country mile. Run-ins with the authorities meant that he was forced to miss many Tests, or else his tally might have been closer to 400. Trueman had great control over his swing and his solid and fluid action gave him a great amount of pace along with that swing, making him a dangerous bowler to face on all sorts of surfaces.


16. ALAN DAVIDSON (AUS) Left Arm Fast-Medium (1949-63)

Tests- 44, Wickets- 186, Avg- 20.53, 5W- 14, Best- 7/93

672 FC wickets at 20.90 with 33 five-wicket hauls

Davidson was a big game performer. Some of the best performances of this New South Welshman came when the odds were stacked against him. He took 11 for 222 in the Tied Test of 1960 (and scored 124 runs) even though he was playing with a broken finger. Starting as a lower order batsman and part-time bowler, Davidson graduated to the role of strike bowler in 1957. After that change, he took 170 wickets in 32 Tests at 19.25. For almost half a decade in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was the most feared fast bowler in the world. Remarkably consistent (he averaged below 24 against all opponents) and exceedingly menacing, Davidson was the greatest left-arm seamer the world had seen till then.


15. JIM LAKER (ENG) Right Arm Offbreak (1946-65)

Tests- 46, Wickets- 193, Avg- 21.24, 5W- 9, Best- 10/53

1944 FC wickets at 18.41 with 127 five-wicket hauls

Laker shall always be remembered as the man who took 19 wickets in a single Test, a feat achieved in the Old Trafford Test in 1956 taking 9/37 in the first innings and 10/53 in the second. No other bowler has taken more than 16 wickets in a single Test, which speaks volumes of what Laker did in that game. What makes that feat even more impressive is that the other bowlers (Statham, Bailey and Locke) managed just one wicket between them in 123 overs. But Laker was much more than that single feat. He took 46 wickets in that series in 5 Tests at a mind-boggling average of 9.60. He averaged below 20 in a series on four more occasions (14.85 vs. South Africa, 1951; 19.50 vs. Pakistan, 1954; 12.00 vs. South Africa, 1955; and 10.17 vs. New Zealand, 1958).


14. ALLAN DONALD (RSA) Right Arm Fast (1985-2004)

Tests- 72, Wickets- 330, Avg- 22.25, 5W- 20, Best- 8/71

Rebel Tests- 2, Wickets- 12, Avg- 18.67, 5W- 0, Best- 4/29

ODIs- 164, Wickets- 272, Avg- 21.78, 4W- 13, Best- 6/23

1216 FC wickets at 22.76 with 68 five-wicket hauls

They don’t make bowlers like the ‘White Lightning’ anymore. They just don’t. For much of his international career, Donald was not just the spearhead of the bowling attack but the only world class performer in his team. There were several talented players in South Africa but Allan Donald was head and shoulders above all of them. A genuine wicket taking bowler, Donald lost some of the best years of his playing career due to South Africa’s exile from Test cricket. But as soon as the ban was lifted, Donald broke free and all hell broke loose. Between 1995 and 2001, he had only 1 bad series out of 20. He performed fabulously against all opponents and in all conditions, making him one of the greatest match-winning bowlers ever.


13. CLARRIE GRIMMETT (AUS) Legbreak Googly (1911-41)

Tests- 37, Wickets- 216, Avg- 24.21, 5W- 21, Best- 7/40

1424 FC wickets at 22.28 with 127 five-wicket hauls

Grimmett started plating cricket at a time when there was a complete drought of spin bowlers in the world. Born in New Zealand, Grimmett made his Plunkett Shield debut at just 17. Sadly though, the First World War deprived him of any chance to play Test cricket. After the war, he tried his luck across the Tasman Sea but had to wait till the age of 33 to make his Test debut. He remains the only man to take 200 Test wickets after playing his first Test post-30. He took almost 6 wickets per game in an era dominated by batsmen, bowling to the likes of Hobbs, Hammond, Sutcliffe, Headley and Nourse. Amazingly, in his last series, playing at the age of 44, Grimmett took 33 wickets in 3 Tests at an average of 11.


12. MICHAEL HOLDING (WI) Right Arm Fast (1972-89)

Tests- 60, Wickets- 249, Avg- 23.68, 5W- 13, Best- 8/92

WSC Matches- 9, Wickets- 35, Avg- 23.09, 5W- 1, Best- 5/48

ODIs- 102, Wickets- 142, Avg- 21.36, 4W- 6, Best- 5/26

They called him the Whispering Death, referring to his long, mesmerising, stealthy and rhythmic run up. But make no bones about it; his bowling was even more lethal. Many swear that no one in the game has bowled faster with such accuracy- not Akhtar, not Larwood and not Thomson. His ability to take wickets on flatbeds and batting-friendly wastelands made him a legend in his playing days itself. His 14/149 at the Oval in 1976 remains the best bowling performance by a West Indian till date. A big game player, Holding was West Indies’ best bowler during their World Cup campaigns bagging 20 wickets in 11 games at just 17. Holding also shone in the World Series Cups in Australia taking 74 wickets in 50 matches at 16.70.


11. WAQAR YOUNIS (PAK) Right Arm Fast (1987-2004)

Tests- 87, Wickets- 373, Avg- 23.56, 5W- 22, Best- 7/76

ODIs- 262, Wickets- 416, Avg- 23.84, 4W- 27, Best- 7/36

In the 80s, fast bowlers bowled fast and short, aiming outside the off stump. Waqar Younis said, “To hell with that” and bowled full, aiming at either the base of the stumps (read: clean bowled) or the batsman’s feet (read: broken ankle). It earned him unprecedented success and made him the youngest to take 200 Test wickets with the best strike rate for any bowler with these many wickets (a record later stolen by Dale Steyn). Waqar took 4 or more wickets in an innings a phenomenal 50 times in 154 innings in Tests and 27 times in 258 innings in ODIs. Considering he had to share the bowling workload with the likes of Imran, Wasim and Saqlain, this is a mighty impressive record.


Well folks, hold on to your hats. With four installments done and dusted, it is time for the finale next, wherein we look at the 10 greatest bowlers in the history of cricket. Till then, peace out!


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 27, 2012, in The Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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