It is really very hard to make a list of top ten fast bowlers of all time in cricket because there are many great fast bowlers in the history of cricket. Fast bowling is thought to be the earliest form of bowling in cricket. Many think that fast bowling means only speed and all the artistic features of bowling belong to spin bowling. It is really a false idea because becoming a fast bowler requires mastering a lots of techniques and arts like a swing in the air, swing off the pitch, bounce, cutter etc.
Here, I made a list of top ten greatest fast bowlers of all time. And all of these players used these fast bowling arts during their illustrious career successfully. Before going through the list, I would like to tell you that many great cricketers were left out of the list and you do not need to agree with this list because you may have your own idea and thought. I appreciate your comment about the list.
Dennis Lillee is one of the fastest bowlers. And I think that he would come in top three of any kind of ranking of pace bowlers of all time. Lillee took 355 test wickets from 70 test matches, but you may wonder that 355 is not a big number. Yes, I agree with you, but at the same time, you have to remember that during his days, most cricketers could not play that much. He had his test debut on 29 January 1971 and he played for Australia for next 13 years. Lillee also took part in 63 ODI matches and he took 103 wickets. Lillee was considered to be very dangerous bowler and together with Jeff Thomson, he literally made the lift of England team hell on many occasions. In fact, England batsmen were often afraid of facing this duo.
Malcolm Marshall died in 1999 and it is almost 17 years that he has died. So, most people of this generation hardly know about him. If you could look at him. Then the first thing that would attract your attention that he was 5 feet 9 inches tall. Many people feel that a fast bowler should at least be 6 feet tall. But Malcolm Marshall proved this theory wrong and I can not remember any other bowler who could be more dangerous than him. He was considered to be a real by all the opposition teams of his time. In fact, he started playing from 1978 in test cricket and he played for 13 years. Accordingly, he took 376 wickets from 81 test matches. He was at his best during
Furthermore, he started playing from 1978 in test cricket and he played for 13 years. He took 376 wickets from 81 test matches. He was at his best during the 1984-85 season and that time, he demolished almost all the countries in the world. I was surprised to see that Malcolm Marshall with such a small height. He was an effective bowler who could deliver bouncers at a regular basis. He was also great in swinging the ball in both directions.
Michael Holding was a West Indian bowler and he took part just in 60 test matches. He captured 249 wickets and you may wonder that this record is nothing to be impressed about. However, the thing that attracted many fans was the he was very athletic and he was an expert of getting a bounce from the pitch. Most batsmen at that time was afraid of facing holding and the golden time of West Indian cricket came when Holding was in top form. Holding also played for Derbyshire, Lancashire and even in Australia for Tasmania. Some people feel that Holding delivered the greatest over in Test Cricket in 1981.
Richard Hadlee is from New Zealand was no doubt a great all rounder. However, he is much qualified for any list of top ten pace bowlers because of the sheer number of wickets he took. For some time, Hadlee held the record of highest test wicket of 431. And this record was surpassed later on by another great bowler Kapil Dev. Hadlee was also an excellent batsman and he scored more than 3,000 test runs. 36 times Hadlee took 5 wickets in an innings and 9 times he took 10 wickets in a match.
This shows that how much he was impressive. His best bowling figure was 9 for 52. I admire Hadlee a lot and I appreciate him because at that time, there was no quality fast bowler in New Zealand team. In fact, New Zealand was a very weak team and there was hardly any world class player except Hadlee.
Wasim Akram was famous as a true gentleman. His behavior both on and off the field was always praised by many people. He was a Pakistani player, but he was also very popular among many Indian fans. Wasim Akram had his test debut in 1985 and he played until 2002. Akram took part in 104 test matches and he captured 414 wickets. He was even more successful in ODI form of cricket. In just 365 matches he took 502 wickets. This was a record until last week when Muralitharan broke it. Wasim Akram had a lot of contribution in 1992 world cup when Pakistan became world champion. He was also great for his run up. He had a very short run, but he could deliver a ball very strongly. Akram is still popular now and he is now a cricket commentator for a TV channel.
When I made this list, at first I thought that I would not include any player who is stil playing. Then I thought that how can I overlook Glenn McGrath who has taken more than 500 wickets in test cricket. In fact, Glenn McGrath is the highest wicket taker in Test cricket for any fast bowler. So, you can never make a list of top ten fast bowlers, omitting the fast bowler who has taken most wickets. McGrath had his debut in test in 1993 and he retired in 2007. He is still fit and is playing in Indian Premier League (IPL).
McGrath played 124 test matches and he captured 563 test wickets. He was not that much successful in ODI cricket, but in ODI, he was a very economical bowler. During the time when McGrath played, Australia emerged as the top cricket team in the world. And they defeated every other team and broke many records. McGrath saw Australia capturing three world cup titles and he played an important role behind it.
Allan Donald is from South Africa and he was nicknamed as the White Lightening. He could deliver ball very fast and he was good in getting swing from even a dead pitch. Donald had his test debut in 1992 when South Africa returned into world cricket after the abolition of apartheid. He achieved his best ICC ranking as a bowler in 1998. At that time, he was at his best form and in 1996-97, he along with Shaun Pollock demolished India. In fact, if you want to talk about Donald, sometimes you have to remember Shaun Pollock too. I am very happy to say that I saw Donald in action and he was really dangerous. He was very aggressive and he was never afraid of any kind of situation. No batsman could dominate on him and sometimes he could be really aggressive.
Courtney Walsh played for 17 years from 1984 to 2001. It is an amazing achievement for any fast bowler. Compared to other bowlers, he suffered from injury muss less than others. It shows that Walsh was always fit and athletic. Here, I would like to remind you that Courtney Walsh started playing at a time when West Indies had some amazing fast bowlers like Marshall, Joel Garner, and Curtley Ambrose. He had to compete with them to remain in the West Indies team. Many people thought that Ambrose was more dangerous than Walsh, but Walsh was very good at taking wicket very regularly. He could capture 519 wickets and for few years. He held the record of taking highest number of test wicket and that record was later on broken by Muttiah Muralitharan.
Joel Garner was another West Indies great fast bowler. He was known as the Big Bird. Accordingly, he had impressive height and at the height of 6 feet 8 inches. He could cause havoc in any batting line up. He just participated only in 58 test matches and took wickets. Joel Garner had devastating effect on the batting line up of the opposition many times. He was loved by his countrymen for his excellent speed. In 1979 World Cup final against England, Joel Garner did something of a magic. In a spell, he took 5 wickets for just 4 runs.
You may wonder to see that former English pacer Harold Larwood has only 78 wickets in his 21-test career, but still I keep him in this list. Well, it is true that Larwood does not have lots of wickets like McGrath, Walsh or Hadlee. But the reason for which I have included Harold Larwood is because of his dominance over Australian cricket team starring great Sir Donald Bradman in 1930s. Harold Larwood is the mean who was instrumental behind the implementation of famous Bodyline bowling during 1932-33 Ashes Test series against Australia.
Bradman’s Australia was at great form that time. But still, England team was able to win the series 4-1 mainly because of their bodyline bowling that caused a lot of problem for the visiting Australian team. Under Douglas Jardin’s leadership. England team used this technique in order to stop mainly Sir Don Bradman, and along with Bill Voce, Harold Larwood successfully implemented this controversial technique. Harold Larwood has an excellent first class record with 1,427 wickets from 361 matches.