Cricket is a sport enjoyed by billions around the world. While batting and fielding skills often receive more attention, bowling is just as important for any team’s success. Throughout history, there have been many legendary bowlers who dominated with the ball and terrorized opposing teams with their skills. As per cricket highlights, Here are 10 of the greatest bowlers of all time:
1. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Widely considered the greatest bowler of all time, Muralitharan holds the world record for most wickets taken in Test and ODI cricket. His 800 Test wickets is a tally that may never be broken. Muralitharan bamboozled batsmen with his unusual and highly effective off-spin bowling action. He possessed the ability to extract turn even from unhelpful surfaces and was a master of variations like the doosra. Muralitharan was the backbone of the Sri Lankan bowling attack for over two decades and played a major role in their rise as a top cricket nation.
2. Shane Warne (Australia)
The first bowler to take 700 Test wickets, Warne was a genius with the ball who changed the art of leg-spin bowling. He had an incredible ability to deceive batsmen in the air and was a master of flight, pace, and spin. Warne was also a big match player who loved rising to the occasion. He is best remembered for the “Ball of the Century” to dismiss Mike Gatting in 1993 which heralded his arrival on the world stage. Warne played a massive role in Australia’s domination and helped them win the 1999 50-over World Cup and numerous Ashes series.
3. Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)
The greatest all-rounder New Zealand has ever produced, Hadlee dominated with both bat and ball. As a bowler, he was a master of accuracy, consistency, and movement off the seam. Hadlee could extract maximum effort from every ball and was a relentless performer. He took 431 Test wickets at an incredible average of 22.29 and still holds the record for best career bowling average in Test cricket. Hadlee almost single-handedly carried the New Zealand team for over a decade and his exploits helped raise their profile in international cricket.
4. Dennis Lillee (Australia)
One of the pioneers of pace bowling, Lillee struck fear into the hearts of batsmen with his ferocious fast bowling during the 1970s. He possessed raw pace, an aggressive attitude, and the ability to swing the ball both ways. Lillee played a huge role in Australia regaining the Ashes in 1973 after over a decade. He formed a lethal new ball partnership with Jeff Thomson and the two fast bowlers dominated world cricket during that era. Lillee was also a shrewd captain and helped groom the next generation of Australian quicks. He took 355 Test wickets at an average of 23.92.
5. Wasim Akram (Pakistan)
Often called the greatest left-arm fast bowler of all time, Akram could generate incredible pace, swing, and seam movement. He possessed a sharp bouncer, yorker, and the ability to bowl cutters and slower balls. Akram was a master of reverse swing and used it to devastating effect in Tests and ODIs. He played a major role in Pakistan’s 1992 50-over World Cup triumph. Akram took 414 Test and 502 ODI wickets and was a match-winner who thrived under pressure. He played a huge role in Pakistan establishing themselves as a top cricket nation in the 1980s and 1990s.
6. Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
One of the greatest all-rounders of all time, Sobers was an aggressive left-arm fast bowler who could generate serious pace. He possessed the ability to move the ball both ways and was a wicket-taker who relished challenging batsmen. Sobers took 235 Test wickets at an average of 34.03. He played a massive role in West Indies’ rise as a top Test side during the 1960s. Sobers was also a brilliant batsman who holds the record for the highest individual score in Tests. His all-round exploits made him a nightmare for opposition teams.
7. Kapil Dev (India)
The first player to reach the 400 wicket milestone in Tests, Kapil Dev was a fast-bowling all-rounder who spearheaded India’s bowling attack for over a decade. He possessed a smooth action, could generate pace and swing, and was a tireless performer. Dev played a massive role in India’s 1983 50-over World Cup triumph and also led the country to their first-ever Test series win in England in 1986. He took 434 Test wickets at an average of 29.64 and was a true match-winner for India during a golden era. Dev helped transform them into a strong cricket nation.
8. Dale Steyn (South Africa)
The highest wicket-taker for South Africa in Tests, Steyn was the premier fast bowler of the late 2000s and early 2010s. He possessed raw pace, accuracy, and the ability to extract movement even from unresponsive surfaces. Steyn was a master of reverse swing and could generate steep bounce. He took 439 Test wickets at an average of 22.95 and was a consistent wicket-taker and match-winner. Steyn played a huge role in South Africa becoming the number one Test side during his prime. He formed a formidable new ball pairing with Morne Morkel.
9. James Anderson (England)
Still active at 40, Anderson has had a phenomenal Test career spanning over two decades. He is currently the highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers with 657 scalps. Anderson possesses a classical action, can bowl long spells, and is a master of conventional swing and seam bowling. He is also extremely accurate and can extract maximum effort from every ball. Anderson has played a massive role in England’s success across formats and has taken over 100 wickets against every country he has played. He remains a vital cog in the English bowling attack.
10. Anil Kumble (India)
The third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 619 scalps, Kumble was a master of leg-spin and a tireless performer. He possessed a sharp googly and could extract turn from any surface. Kumble played a massive role in India’s success and was their leading wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs. He took 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in 1999.
While batting statistics often receive more attention, bowlers remain just as important in deciding the outcome of any cricket match or series. As seen in cricket match video, the above 10 players dominated with the ball across different eras and were true match-winners for their respective countries. They struck fear into opposing teams and played massive roles in the success and rise of cricket nations like Australia, West Indies, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and England. Their incredible skills, success, and achievements make them undisputedly the greatest bowlers of all time.
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