“You do not win or lose the game because of the 11 you select, you win or lose with what those 11 do on the field.”
Cricket is one of the most famous sports in the world, second only to football. Having its origins in south-east England, the game has seen worldwide fame. Its popular demand has naturally gained it so many players that have left a great legacy behind them. While many people just play for fun, there are those among them that wish to be the greatest and have done so by sheer hard work. Among the professionals, there have been people who have set records that are yet to be broken.
The ICC (International Cricket Council) recognizes three formats of the game, those being; One-Day Internationals (ODI), Twenty 20 (T-20), and test cricket.
The nature of the game is such that batsmen become the favourites; however, the bowlers can change the game just as easily. Good bowlers have scared batsmen for since long. They have the power to win games single-handily, on a good day it can be easy for them to rip through the batting line-up and seize victory.
After all, it is so satisfying to see that stump fly off the ground after a baller has just bowled the batsman opposite to him. There are bowlers so memorable that people still base their bowling on their styles; bowlers so terrifying that batsmen have been on the defensive in front of them.
Here is the list of the 10 greatest bowlers of all time:
Bowling Style: Right-arm fast
Test Career stats: 70 matches with 355 wickets, 23.92 average, 2.75 economy, 7-83 best bowling
ODI career stats: 63 matches with 103 wickets, 20.82 average, 3.58 economy, 5-34 best bowling
Even at the time when the world was blooming with fast bowlers, Dennis Lillee was the Sun. He was one of the key players of the Australian team in the 70s and early 80s. His performance consistent throughout. He was inarguably the best fast bowler of the 70s and the greatest of all times.
Bowling style: Right-arm fast
Test career stats: 87 matches with 373 wickets, 23.56 average, 3.25 economy, 7-76 best bowling
ODI career stats: 262 matches with 416 wickets, 23.84 average, 4.68 economy, 7-36 best bowling
One of the greatest bowlers Pakistan showed the world. Nicknamed the “The Burewala Express” due to his ability to reverse swing the ball at high speeds. Younis formed a terrifying partnership with Wasim Akram, he was one half of “The Two Ws” that batsmen all around the world were afraid to face.
Bowling style: Right-arm leg-break
Test career stats: 132 matches with 619 wickets, 29.65 average, 2.69 economy, 10-74 best bowling
ODI career stats: 271 matches with 337 wickets, 30.89 average, 4.30 economy, 6-12 best bowling
Throughout his career, he gained a wide fan-base and popularity among his teammates for being fiercely aggressive and competitive on the field. His shining moment came against Pakistan in Delhi in early 1999. He went through the Pakistani line-up with a mind-boggling score of 10-74, only the second bowler to take all ten wickets in an innings. India’s greatest match-winner finished his career as the third-highest wicket-taker in tests.
Career: 2002- 2021
Bowling style: Right-arm fast-medium
Test career stats: 148 matches with 575 wickets, 26.39 average, 2.87 economy, 7-42 best bowling
ODI career stats: 194 matches with 269 wickets, 29.22 average, 4.92 economy, 5-23 best bowling
This star shone brightly in the 2003 World Cup when he bowled a sensational spell against the team of Pakistan. He has time and again proved that he is one of the most skilful when it comes to handling the ball, new or old. One of the best swing bowlers the world has seen, he could bowl outswings and inswings just as easily as the other, and soon became the first England bowler to take 500 test wickets.
Country: West Indies
Bowling style: Right-arm fast
Test career stats: 132 matches with 519 wickets, 24.44 average, 2.53 economy, 7-37 best bowling
ODI career stats: 205 matches with 227 wickets, 30.47 average, 3.83 economy, 5-1 best bowling
Having taken over 500 wickets and having bowled more than 5000 overs, the man is truly in a league of his own. One of the most successful pacers the West Indian ever saw. He formed a deadly pair with his teammate Curtly Ambrose in the 90s. His simple bowling action that allowed him to swing the ball both way became a stepping stone to him becoming the third-highest wicket-taker by the pacers in the test title.
Country: South Africa
Bowling style: Right-arm fast
Test career stats: 93 matches with 439 wickets, 22.95 average, 3.24 economy, 7-51 best bowling
ODI career stats: 125 matches with 196 wickets, 25.95 average, 4.87 economy, 6-39 best bowling
His bowling a rare combination of pace, swing, and accuracy. Reached 400 wickets during his 80th test and became the fastest pace bowler to reach the feat. His fierce bowling speed even gained him the nickname “Steyn Gun”. Steyn shaped the signature outswinger away from the leg-stump line at will, which opened up the batsman’s stance to hit the top of the off-stump.
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Bowling style: fast bowler
Test career stats: 145 matches with 708 wickets, 25.41 average, 2.65 economy, 8-71 best bowling
ODI career stats: 194 matches with 293 wickets, 25.73 average, 4.25 economy, 5-33 best bowling
Cricketer turned commentator, the man who redefined spin-bowling, he is the first bowler to take 700 wickets and retired as the leading wicket-taker in Tests with 708 wickets (later surpassed by Muttiah Muralitharan). Shane Warne even had exceptional accuracy, which is a trait difficult for spin bowlers to acquire.
Country: Sri Lanka
Bowling style: Right-arm off-break
Test career stats: 133 matches with 800 wickets, 22.72 average, 2.47 economy, 9-51 best bowling
ODI career stats: 350 matches with 534 wickets, 23.08 average, 3.93 economy, 7-30 best bowling
Not only a legend but also a humble human being. Through a statistical lens truly a master of the ball, he holds the record of most wickets in Tests as well as One Day Internationals. His command over the ball made him the fastest bowler to take 350, 400, 450, 500, 600, and 700 wickets in the test format. His great bowling skill coupled with subtle variations has often made him crucial for victory for the Sri Lankan Team.
Bowling style: left-arm swing
Test career stats: 104 matches with 414 wickets, 23.62 average, 2.59 economy, 7-119 best bowling
ODI career stats: 356 matches with 502 wickets, 23.52 average, 3.89 economy, 5-15 best bowling
Dubbed the “Sultan of Swing”, he formed a deadly duo with Waqar Younis, a nightmare for batsmen all around the world. Truly one the greatest weapons in the Pakistani arsenal, the left-arm bowler is the second-highest wicket-taker in ODIs and second highest in international with 502 and 916 wickets, respectively as a pace bowler.
Bowling style: Right-arm Fast-medium
Test career stats: 124 matches with 563 wickets, 21.64 average, 2.49 economy, 8-24 best bowling
ODI career stats: 250 matches with 381 wickets, 22.02 average, 3.88 economy, 7-15 best bowling
The man with the skill to bag 563 wickets in a 14-year long career to become the greatest fast bowlers ever. The insane amount of wickets under his name also gives him the honour of having “second most wickets” by any fast bowler. A bowler with the ability to wreak havoc on the field with accuracy, variations and consistency.
These are the top 10 bowlers to have ever graced the pitch and made the general public fall a little more in love with the sport of cricket. They have inspired many throughout their careers with their own unique style and attributes, which have escalated them to be counted in history to be remembered as legends.