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Top 10 Greatest Fast Bowlers of All Time

  • Post category:Cricket
  • Reading time:18 mins read
  • Post last modified:June 27, 2023

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In this post, we will check out the top 10 greatest fast bowlers of all time.

Cricket, often referred to as the “gentleman’s game,” has witnessed the awe-inspiring prowess of fast bowlers who have enthralled audiences around the world with their blistering pace, lethal accuracy, and ability to generate intimidating bounce.

These exceptional athletes have left an indelible mark on the sport, forever etching their names in the annals of cricket history. While selecting the greatest fast bowlers of all time is a subjective endeavor, several individuals have stood out for their extraordinary skills and remarkable contributions to the game.

From the early days of cricket to the modern era, fast bowlers have evolved, adapting their techniques and tactics to exploit the weaknesses of batsmen and wreak havoc on the pitch.

With a blend of raw power, athleticism, and an unwavering competitive spirit, these pace demons have often formed the backbone of their teams, propelling them to victory and striking fear into the hearts of their opponents.

This list delves into the legacies of ten exceptional fast bowlers, each of whom has left an indelible mark on the game. Their exploits have become the stuff of cricketing folklore, inspiring generations of bowlers and captivating fans with their virtuoso displays.

So, let us embark on a journey to discover the top ten greatest fast bowlers of all time, paying homage to their unique talents and celebrating their extraordinary achievements on the cricket field.

Top 10 Greatest Fast Bowlers of All Time

10 Dale Steyn

Image Credit- Cricket Australia

When you talk about swing, pace, and rhythm you have to talk about Dale Steyn. He is number 10 on the list of the world’s best fast bowlers of all time.

Steyn is one of the best fast bowlers of his generation. After the era of Allan Donald, it was Steyn who led the fast attack of the South African team all over the world. It is remarkable to see the achievements of Dale Steyn over the years.

There are only a few bowlers around the world who can distract any batsmen with both pace and swing and Steyn is one of them.

Getting 400th test wickets in just 80 matches shows the caliber of the modern great. The best part is that he is equally effective in home and away fixtures.

ODIs Stats– 125 matches, 196 Wickets, 25.95 average, 4.87 Economy

Tests Stats– 93 games, 439 wickets, 22.95 average, 3.24 Economy

9 Waqar Younis

Image Credit- Neuronerdz

Waqar Younis was one of the all-time top 10 fast bowlers Pakistan has ever produced. He is one of the best swingers on the ball.

He is well known for his capability of reverse swing. His toe-crushing yorkers are the nightmare for any batting lineup around the world.

His pairing with the great Wasim Akram is said to be the most fearsome duo in the history of the game. He is widely considered one of the most skillful and deadly fast bowlers in the history of cricket.

Akram is known for his ability to swing the ball both ways and his ability to generate steep bounce and seam movement. He is also known for his ability to bowl at high speeds, often reaching 140 km/h.

The former Pakistan legend has more fifers than anyone in the history of the game. Waqar Younis also holds the record for the best bowling figures as a captain in an ODI(7/36) and was also the first captain to take a 7-wicket haul in an ODI inning.

ODIs Stats: 262 matches, 416 wickets, 23.84 average, 4.68 economy

Tests Stats: 87 matches, 373 wickets, 23.56 average, 3.25 economy

8 Courtney Walsh

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Courtney Walsh does not need any introduction in this list. Taking 500 test match wickets is not a joke and he is the first bowler to achieve this feat in the history of test cricket.

He is known for his remarkable skill, endurance, and unwavering determination, Walsh left an indelible mark on the game of cricket. Throughout his illustrious career, spanning 17 years from 1984 to 2001, he showcased his prowess as a pace bowler and became a formidable force in the world of cricket.

Standing at an imposing height of 6 feet 6 inches, Courtney Walsh possessed a remarkable ability to generate pace and bounce from a seemingly effortless action.

His consistent and accurate bowling was a nightmare for many batsmen. Walsh’s effectiveness lay not only in his sheer speed but also in his ability to extract significant movement off the pitch.

Whether it was swinging the ball prodigiously or hitting the deck hard to extract extra bounce, Walsh had a plethora of tricks up his sleeve to trouble even the most accomplished batsmen.

Off the field, Walsh’s humble and composed demeanor endeared him to fans and fellow cricketers alike. He was a true ambassador of the game, representing the values of sportsmanship and fair play.

His partnership with Curtly Ambrose is well known and both are phenomenal for West Indian cricket. Walsh was known for his accuracy, stamina, and ability to bowl long spells, making him one of the most feared bowlers in the game.

ODIs Stats: 205 matches, 227 wickets, 30.48 average, 3.84 economy

Tests Stats: 132 matches, 519 wickets, 24.45 average, 2.54 economy

7 Curtly Ambrose

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Curtly Ambrose is well known for his fearsome and economical bowling throughout his career. He took 405 wickets in 98 matches that he played with West Indies. His economy of 2.31 is one of the best in the history of test cricket.

Ambrose has just extended the legacy which was left behind by the former West Indies bowlers. His great partnership with Walsh is one of the most destructive sights for any opposing batsmen.

He has always been a commanding bowler for his team who can change the fortune of the game with his spells. An average of 20.99 and an economy of 2.30 just prove the player’s caliber. He is just unplayable for any batsman.

He had a unique bowling action, and his ability to generate swing and seam movement made him a nightmare for batsmen. Curtley Ambrose is number 7 in our list of the top 10 greatest fast bowlers of all time.

ODIs Stats– 176 matches, 225 wickets, 24.12 average, 3.48 Economy

Tests Stats– 98 matches, 405 Wickets, 20.99 average, 2.30 Economy

6 Glenn Mcgrath

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It would not be wrong to say that McGrath was the backbone of the Australian team in the 90s. Glenn McGrath is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time.

He was never the quickest bowler on the planet, but he made up for it with his accuracy, consistency, and ability to swing the ball both ways. He was also a master of the yorker, and he could be devastating at the death.

McGrath was also a key member of the Australian team that dominated world cricket in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was a perfect foil for Shane Warne, and the two of them formed one of the most devastating bowling partnerships in history.

His 563 Test wickets in 124 matches are the most by any fast bowler which James Anderson later broke. He also holds the record for most World Cup wickets than any other player in the history of the game.

He mostly relies on his length and swinging deliveries rather than focusing on pace. Glenn McGrath is unquestionably one of the greatest bowlers Australia has ever produced. He also had a total of 381 wickets in 250 matches that too with an average of 22.02.

ODIs Stats– 250 matches, 381 wickets, 22.02 average, 3.88 Economy

Tests Stats– 124 matches, 563 Wickets, 21.64 average, 2.5 Economy

5 Dennis Lillee

Image Credit- Cricket Australia

Lillee was known for his aggressive style and he is one of the most ruthless fast bowlers the world has ever seen.

In a total of 70 matches, he took 355 Test wickets which was a record during his time. Facing Lillee at his prime has always been difficult for any batsmen around the world.

He has known for his fearsome pace which was dreadful for any batsman to face. Many great bowlers around the world knew him as the one who set up the pioneer of fast bowling in the Cricketing world.

He was the first bowler to surpass the barrier of 350 wickets in test cricket. Dennis Lillee is number 5 in our list of the top 10 greatest fast bowlers of all time.

ODIs Stats – 63 matches, 103 wickets, 20.82 average, 3.58 Economy

Tests Stats– 70 matches, 355 wickets, 23.92 average, 3.58 Economy

4 Richard Hadlee

best fast bowlers of all time
Image Credit- Wisden

Hadlee was the record-breaker bowler of his time. He broke the record of Lillee which stood for so many years. One of the most impressive aspects of Hadlee’s bowling was his exceptional control and accuracy.

He possessed the rare ability to consistently hit the perfect line and length, making life extremely difficult for batsmen. Whether it was exploiting the early morning conditions with his deadly swing or extracting sharp bounce from unresponsive pitches, Hadlee always posed a threat to even the most accomplished batsmen.

Hadlee’s skill set was not limited to swing and accuracy alone. He had a natural talent for generating substantial pace, often leaving batsmen startled with the sheer velocity of his deliveries.

This lethal combination of speed and precision made him a fearsome prospect for any opposition. His bowling averages, which remain among the best in the history of the game, are a testament to his remarkable skill and effectiveness.

Another aspect that elevated Hadlee’s status as one of the all-time greats was his remarkable consistency over a long period. He consistently delivered match-winning performances for New Zealand, both at home and abroad.

In his career, he became the first bowler to pass the 400 Test wickets mark. The New Zealand international took the wickets with an impressive average of 22.29 which was quite impressive during his time.

He was one of the greatest bowlers New Zealand has ever produced. Hadlee was well known for his swing and accuracy throughout his career. He took a total of 431 wickets in 86 matches that he had played. Richard Hadlee is number 4 in our list of the top 10 greatest fast bowlers of all time.

ODIs Stats– 115 matches, 158 wickets, 21.56 average, 3.30 Economy

Tests Stats– 86 matches, 431 wickets, 22.29 average, 2.63 Economy

3 Malcolm Marshall

best fast bowlers of all time
Image Credit-Caught at point

Marshall’s aggression is well-known in the history of the game. If you talk about aggression and fiery bouncer you have to talk about the West Indies legend Malcolm Marshall. A total of 376 wickets with an economy of 2.68 is just incredible.

The dominance of West Indian Cricket during the 70s and 80s is mainly due to their top-class bowling and fearsome batting.

Malcolm Marshall was leading the pace attack during his time which was extended by some great bowlers like Joel Garner, Curtly Ambrose, and Courtney Walsh.

His ability to swing the bowl and his fiery bouncers are always difficult to deal with for any batsman.

ODIs Stats– 136 matches, 157 Wickets, 26.96 average, 3.53 Economy

Tests Stats– 81 matches, 376 Wickets, 20.94 average, 2.68 Economy

2 Sydney Barnes

best fast bowlers of all time

The English legend is number 2 in the list of greatest fast bowlers in history. His contribution to the game is unmatchable and never be repeated in the game.

The most unique stat of his career is his phenomenal average which can’t be repeated in cricket. He had played a total of 27 Test matches in which he took 189 wickets with an astonishing average of 16.43.

Fast bowling is incomplete without mentioning the name of Sydney Barnes. He made a test debut on 13 December 1901 against Australia. His unbreakable average still stands tall and strong and may never be broken again.

Tests Stats– 27 matches, 189 Wickets, 16.43 average, 2.37 Economy

1 Wasim Akram

best fast bowlers of all time

Wasim Akram was rated as the greatest bowler of all time. The influence of this man on the cricketing pitch is just unmatchable. He is known for his reverse swing and toe-crushing swinging yorkers.

He was a part of the World Cup-winning team in 1992 and was also adjudged the Man of the Match for his all-around performance of 3/49 and 33 of 18.

The world of cricket may never witness a bowler like Wasim Akram again. His capability of swinging the ball in both ways and his lethal Yorkers are just impossible to face.

Wasim Akram is widely considered one of the greatest fast bowlers in cricket history, known for his exceptional swing and reverses swing bowling abilities.

He holds several records in both ODI and Test cricket and has been referred to as the “Sultan of Swing” by cricket commentators. Wasim Akram tops the list of top 10 greatest fast bowlers of all time.

ODIs Stats– 356 matches, 502 Wickets, 23.52 average, 3.9 Economy

Tests Stats– 104 matches, 414 wickets, 23.62 average, 2.59 Economy

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