The best ODI bowlers November 21, 2011

Garner and other bowling giants

Even in his own era, Big Bird towered over everyone else as an ODI bowler
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The previous Stats from the Past looked at the best batsmen from different eras of ODI cricket; this time the focus shifts to the bowlers. They're the breed that has always, rather unfairly, played second fiddle in the shorter forms of the game, so here's an attempt to give them the credit they deserve.

Any analysis of players in ODIs must take into account the period during which they performed, for the game has changed significantly since its early years in the 1970s. Then, bowlers could afford to bowl like they did in Tests, secure in the knowledge that batsmen would largely stick to orthodox shots, and that the little bits of innovative strokeplay would only come towards the end of an innings.

In today's version of ODIs, the bowler has no such luxury. Most pitches are loaded in favour of the batsmen, the shorter boundaries help too, especially when fielding restrictions are in place for 40% of the overs, and batsmen have realised that 10 wickets in hand for 50 overs of batting is an equation loaded in their favour. More risks are being taken earlier in the innings, and that's reflected in the kind of totals that have become the norm these days. The decade-wise ODI stats tell the story: in the 1970s, bowlers averaged 27.13 runs per wicket and conceded 3.67 runs per over, on average. Since the beginning of 2010, the economy rate has gone up to 4.91, an increase of 33%. The bowling average has remained more or less constant since the 1980s, but the increase in run rates has changed the benchmark for what's acceptable and what isn't.

To capture that change in the analyses here, the stats for each bowler are assessed against the overall numbers during the period in which he played. During the period in which Joel Garner played his 98 matches, for instance, the overall bowling average was 29.60, and the economy rate was four runs per over. Even against those benchmarks, though, Garner was terrific, averaging less than 19 runs per wicket at a stunning economy rate of 3.09. Multiplying the bowling average and the runs conceded per ball, his bowling index was 9.70, while the overall index during that period was 19.73. Dividing one by the other, it emerges that Garner's index was twice as good as that of the average bowler during the period in which he played.

Even compared to the other great bowlers who played during that era - and there were several - Garner was far ahead of the rest of pack. His height was an obvious advantage, and his unerring accuracy meant that the batsmen had to take all the risks to get him away for runs. Richard Hadlee is next among bowlers of that era, though his ratio is a fair bit lower than that of Garner. Four other top-class bowlers follow them in the table, which isn't much of a surprise, but what is mildly surprising is that Malcolm Marshall's bowling average in ODIs was only 26.96. The norm is for bowlers to have a lower average in ODIs than in Tests, for it's easier to get cheap wickets when batsmen are going for quick runs, but Marshall bucked that trend - his Test average of 20.94 was more than six runs fewer than his ODI one.

Another bowler with similar numbers was Imran Khan. Like Marshall, he is recognised as among the greatest fast bowlers in Test history - he averaged 22.81 in that format - but in ODIs he conceded 26.61 runs per wicket. Both are legends in each format of the game, but they shone a little brighter in Tests than in one-day internationals.

Three of the four great allrounders of the 1980s are mentioned in the table below; the fourth, Ian Botham, had a slightly lower ratio: he averaged 28.54 at an economy rate of 3.96, in an era when the corresponding figures were 30.92 and 4.13. His ratio, thus, came to 1.13, a tad poorer than those of Kapil Dev and Imran.

Top ODI bowlers who bowled mainly in the 1970s and 1980s
Bowler Matches Wickets Ave/ ER Ave*ER/6 Overall ave/ ER Overall ave*ER/6 Ratio
Joel Garner 98 146 18.84/ 3.09 9.70 29.60/ 4.00 19.73 2.03
Richard Hadlee 115 158 21.56/ 3.30 11.86 30.58/ 4.09 20.85 1.76
Michael Holding 102 142 21.36/ 3.32 11.82 29.48/ 3.99 19.60 1.66
Andy Roberts 56 87 20.35/ 3.40 11.53 28.66/ 3.87 18.49 1.60
Dennis Lillee 63 103 20.82/ 3.58 12.42 28.59/ 3.88 18.49 1.49
Malcolm Marshall 136 157 26.96/ 3.53 15.86 31.26/ 4.17 21.73 1.37
Ewen Chatfield 114 140 25.84/ 3.57 15.37 30.71/ 4.11 21.04 1.37
Kapil Dev 225 253 27.45/ 3.71 16.97 31.12/ 4.14 21.47 1.27
Abdul Qadir 104 132 26.16/ 4.06 17.70 31.68/ 4.19 22.12 1.25
Imran Khan 175 182 26.61/ 3.89 17.25 30.78/ 4.12 21.14 1.23

Through that period in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s, the overall scoring rates were so low that the overall bowling indexes (bowling average multiplied by runs conceded per ball) stayed in the 18-21 range for bowlers who bowled in that era. For those who started their careers in the late '80s and bowled mostly in the 1990s, though, that index started moving towards the mid-20s, finding a range between 22 and 24. The averages didn't increase that much, but the scoring rates shifted upwards to around 4.5 runs per over. The bowlers who played in that era, thus, need to be compared against that benchmark.

There were several top-flight bowlers who were around during this period, as the table below shows. In terms of stats, the one who did better than everyone else was, again, a tall fast bowler from the West Indies. Curtly Ambrose's bowling average wasn't exceptional - 24.12 was very good, but there were a few others who did better - but the economy rate of 3.48 was terrific, especially when the overall rate during his period was 4.27.

Allan Donald's strength was his wicket-taking ability - he averaged 21.78 runs per wicket, which is why, even though his economy rate was more than four, he still has an excellent index. And then there was Saqlain Mushtaq, who, unlike a couple of names mentioned above, was definitely a more formidable bowler in ODIs: he matched Donald's average in the shorter version but averaged almost 30 in Tests. His ability to bowl the doosra, and his variations in speed and flight, meant he even bowled in the slog overs with plenty of success. His overall index and ratio are a shade better than even Wasim Akram's, which indicates just how proficient he was in ODIs. Among spinners, only Muttiah Muralitharan did better.

Shane Warne is in the list too, but his career strike rate was only 36.3, compared to Saqlain's 30.4. Waqar Younis is the third Pakistan bowler in the table below, and while his average 23.84 is top-class, his economy rate of 4.68 isn't - it's poorer than the overall economy rate during that period, of 4.49.

Top ODI bowlers who bowled mainly in the 1990s and early 2000s
Bowler Matches Wickets Ave/ ER Ave*ER/6 Overall ave/ ER Overall ave*ER/6 Ratio
Curtly Ambrose 176 225 24.12/ 3.48 13.99 32.64/ 4.27 23.23 1.66
Allan Donald 164 272 21.78/ 4.15 15.06 32.45/ 4.51 24.39 1.62
Saqlain Mushtaq 169 288 21.78/ 4.29 15.57 32.44/ 4.59 24.82 1.59
Wasim Akram 356 502 23.52/ 3.89 15.25 32.37/ 4.45 24.01 1.57
Craig McDermott 138 203 24.71/ 4.03 16.60 32.16/ 4.25 22.78 1.37
Shane Warne 194 293 25.73/ 4.25 18.23 32.51/ 4.57 24.76 1.36
Waqar Younis 262 416 23.84/ 4.68 18.60 32.41/ 4.49 24.25 1.30

And then there's the current era of bowlers, who've bowled mainly in the 2000s. It's a period that has been dominated by batsmen, which is apparent in the kind of numbers they've posted. The averages haven't gone up much, but the run rates have increased to around 4.7. That's reflected in the overall bowling index numbers - the product of the bowling average and the runs conceded per ball is more than 25 during the career spans of all the bowlers listed below.

Glenn McGrath and Murali are the two among them who played a fair amount in the 1990s as well, but both of them played less than 50% of their total games in the 1990s. McGrath played 101 out of his 250 matches in the '90s, while for the Murali the number was 129 out of 350.

Both McGrath and Murali are among the top four bowlers in the table, with numbers that are clearly superior to the rest in the list. McGrath, Murali and Shaun Pollock all had economy rates of less than four, which is truly remarkable considering the era they bowled in. Shane Bond, the other bowler in the top four, had an economy rate of 4.28, but he more than made up for that with his wicket-taking ability: his average of 20.88 is bettered only by two bowlers (with a 100-wicket cut-off), both of them legends.

A few other leading wicket-takers in ODIs aren't in the list below, but they deserve an honourable mention. Chaminda Vaas is Sri Lanka's second-highest wicket-taker, and his 400 scalps came at an average of 27.53 and an economy rate of 4.18. Taking his era stats into account, his ratio works out to 1.32, which is better than the likes of Kapil Dev and Imran Khan. Daniel Vettori has an even better economy rate, of 4.12, but an average of 31.48 reduces his ratio to 1.17. Shoaib Akhtar has an excellent average of 24.97, but his economy rate of 4.76 is marginally on the high side. He still manages a fine ratio of 1.29. And here's how the two leading wicket-takers for India fared: Javagal Srinath had a ratio of 1.17 for his 315 wickets (average 28.08, economy rate 4.44), while Anil Kumble managed 1.12, a relatively low ratio largely due to an average of 30.89.

Top ODI bowlers who bowled mainly in the 2000s
Bowler Matches Wickets Ave/ ER Ave*ER/6 Overall ave/ ER Overall ave*ER/6 Ratio
Glenn McGrath 250 381 22.02/ 3.88 14.24 32.52/ 4.63 25.09 1.76
Shane Bond 82 147 20.88/ 4.28 14.89 32.30/ 4.82 25.95 1.74
Shaun Pollock 303 393 24.50/ 3.67 14.99 32.55/ 4.68 25.39 1.69
Muttiah Muralitharan 350 534 23.08/ 3.93 15.12 32.42/ 4.69 25.34 1.68
Brett Lee 205 357 22.89/ 4.70 17.93 32.31/ 4.79 25.79 1.44
Nathan Bracken 116 174 24.36/ 4.41 17.90 32.22/ 4.78 25.67 1.43
Andrew Flintoff 141 169 24.38/ 4.39 17.84 32.18/ 4.72 25.31 1.42
Jason Gillespie 97 142 25.42/ 4.21 17.84 32.52/ 4.64 25.15 1.41
Makhaya Ntini 173 266 24.65/ 4.53 18.61 32.36/ 4.72 25.46 1.37

These ratios have been worked out simply by multiplying batting average and runs conceded per ball, giving equal weightage to both factors. A slight tweak in weightages will alter the list somewhat, but the top ones will still remain unscathed. The list below combines all three eras and picks out the top ten ratios. You'll agree that it's difficult to pick holes with this table of 10 ODI bowlers.

Top ODI bowlers from the 1970s to the early 2000s
Bowler Matches Wickets Ave/ ER Ave*ER/6 Overall ave/ ER Overall ave*ER/6 Ratio
Joel Garner 98 146 18.84/ 3.09 9.70 29.60/ 4.00 19.73 2.03
Glenn McGrath 250 381 22.02/ 3.88 14.24 32.52/ 4.63 25.09 1.76
Richard Hadlee 115 158 21.56/ 3.30 11.86 30.58/ 4.09 20.85 1.76
Shane Bond 82 147 20.88/ 4.28 14.89 32.30/ 4.82 25.95 1.74
Shaun Pollock 303 393 24.50/ 3.67 14.99 32.55/ 4.68 25.39 1.69
Muttiah Muralitharan 350 534 23.08/ 3.93 15.12 32.42/ 4.69 25.34 1.68
Curtly Ambrose 176 225 24.12/ 3.48 13.99 32.64/ 4.27 23.23 1.66
Michael Holding 102 142 21.36/ 3.32 11.82 29.48/ 3.99 19.60 1.66
Allan Donald 164 272 21.78/ 4.15 15.06 32.45/ 4.51 24.39 1.62
Andy Roberts 56 87 20.35/ 3.40 11.53 28.66/ 3.87 18.49 1.60

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • timmyw on November 24, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    @GetItcorrect - "Let me leave this one with you, Lara and Sachin are better bats than Bradman.". No.

  • Cricket_observer_from_1982 on November 23, 2011, 12:16 GMT

    Imran had hit 20+ for against three of the best, tough to hit ODI bowlers. Garner , Kapildev and Ambrose. Only prabrakar used to trick him in last over, the inswinging ball he could not read properly.

    Definetely among bowlers garner is the best ODI bowler ever.

  • on November 23, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Very good statistical attempt; some of my thoughts based on the comments for this article: - Yes, Strike rate should be given higher weighting. With wickets you bring down the runs and the run rate. - Because of the pitch conditions, Pollock, who mostly played in green tops is at an unfair advantage, while Akram or Kapil are pulled back. As Shams mentioned, if the stats could be normalized based on the match scores, it would be even better. For ex. an economy rate of 4 in a match total of 400 should be treated equal to an economy rate of 8 in a match involving a total of 800 runs. - Power plays need not be specifically accounted for, because if you are good enough to make it to the top, the bowler would have invariably bowled in the toughest period of the match. So, that should even out, even amongst different eras. Again, good analysis by Rajesh. We understand that any one indicator does not give the complete picture; several combined together does.

  • GetItcorrect on November 23, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    Some of this debate lends itself to not having statistical data. In which case, no comparisons should be made. Some of those players that have been selected as the best this and that, say 'batsman' have had direct influence over the adjudicators of some of the games that they played in, but are we going to extract that kind of data, or can we, when using the comparative method. Besides guys, "one swallow don't make a summer," put differently, it is generally about consistency. Lets go ahead and enjoy the stats, sometimes methodology might seem to lend itself to bias. Let me leave this one with you, Lara and Sachin are better bats than Bradman. The Don was great but as in most cases greater ones would always come along, especially since they were and are more exposed than he was.

  • on November 23, 2011, 0:30 GMT

    i cant see any indian bowler from 90's and early 2000 ? srinath or prasad ? where are they ...do u really think they dont deserve to be here ... ok i agree with the autor

  • timmyw on November 22, 2011, 22:14 GMT

    Hmm you know I have been thinking about this for a while. I think you should ask the batters who played against all these guys who they would less like to face. I know from speaking with a couple that Joel Garner's name came often. He was a beast, dangerous and quick and accurate. I know stats don't tell the whole story but I have been a cricket tragic since I was 5, I watched these guys play and in this case I think the numbers have it right. I would love to see a test comparison I bet Joel is way up there as well. In fact all those Windies quicks from the late 70s to the early 90s were a nightmare. I remember him hitting Greg Chappel with a short one and believe me THAT did not happen every day.

  • BoonBoom on November 22, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    @nlambda...if your yardstick is to take the first 98 games of other players and compare that with Garner......then take the fisrt 52 games of SRT and compare that with Bradman....then SRT was no where near Bradman....the point is: you can not compare players from two different era.....this is unfair

  • BoonBoom on November 22, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    @nlambda..... Imran did hit 20+ runs off Garner. The ODI # 339 played at Sharjah on 15 November 1985. Garnaer bowled the last over and conceeded 22 runs. He had final bowling figures of 9-1-56-1. Imran hit him three sixes in the last over and finhsed 25 not out off just 9 balls. You can google and find out more info, you can also read match report. I doubt if this is available on youtube. Conclusion: sometime there is no harm accepting the fact that Pakistan has produced some marvellous players!!

  • SRT_GENIUS on November 22, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    @DoubleU: The idea of ratios is that it neutralizes the "era" as you are ratios are calculated against you peers of the same era. @author: This list is awesome but in my personal opinion Wasim Akram is as good as any bowler of any era across any format - and I am certainly not his biggest fan as my moniker would suggest. Perhaps sometimes statistics can't capture everything. Otherwise the list is perfect.

  • Venkatb on November 22, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    While I have seen WI teams from the pre-Garner days on, I think some stats favor Garner - 1. The 70s and 80s were the early days of International 1 day cricket so scoring rates were low, 2. Garner's great height and his bowling hand at or above the sightscreen was always an impediment for bowlers - in today's increasing night cricket, that advantage gets nullified - his ball would be easier to spot today, and 3. Garner was not the fastest bowler on the team - his role was to keep the batsmen pegged down while others fired missiles - the anomaly with Imran Khan and Marshall (Tests vs. ODIs) is intriguing.

  • timmyw on November 24, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    @GetItcorrect - "Let me leave this one with you, Lara and Sachin are better bats than Bradman.". No.

  • Cricket_observer_from_1982 on November 23, 2011, 12:16 GMT

    Imran had hit 20+ for against three of the best, tough to hit ODI bowlers. Garner , Kapildev and Ambrose. Only prabrakar used to trick him in last over, the inswinging ball he could not read properly.

    Definetely among bowlers garner is the best ODI bowler ever.

  • on November 23, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Very good statistical attempt; some of my thoughts based on the comments for this article: - Yes, Strike rate should be given higher weighting. With wickets you bring down the runs and the run rate. - Because of the pitch conditions, Pollock, who mostly played in green tops is at an unfair advantage, while Akram or Kapil are pulled back. As Shams mentioned, if the stats could be normalized based on the match scores, it would be even better. For ex. an economy rate of 4 in a match total of 400 should be treated equal to an economy rate of 8 in a match involving a total of 800 runs. - Power plays need not be specifically accounted for, because if you are good enough to make it to the top, the bowler would have invariably bowled in the toughest period of the match. So, that should even out, even amongst different eras. Again, good analysis by Rajesh. We understand that any one indicator does not give the complete picture; several combined together does.

  • GetItcorrect on November 23, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    Some of this debate lends itself to not having statistical data. In which case, no comparisons should be made. Some of those players that have been selected as the best this and that, say 'batsman' have had direct influence over the adjudicators of some of the games that they played in, but are we going to extract that kind of data, or can we, when using the comparative method. Besides guys, "one swallow don't make a summer," put differently, it is generally about consistency. Lets go ahead and enjoy the stats, sometimes methodology might seem to lend itself to bias. Let me leave this one with you, Lara and Sachin are better bats than Bradman. The Don was great but as in most cases greater ones would always come along, especially since they were and are more exposed than he was.

  • on November 23, 2011, 0:30 GMT

    i cant see any indian bowler from 90's and early 2000 ? srinath or prasad ? where are they ...do u really think they dont deserve to be here ... ok i agree with the autor

  • timmyw on November 22, 2011, 22:14 GMT

    Hmm you know I have been thinking about this for a while. I think you should ask the batters who played against all these guys who they would less like to face. I know from speaking with a couple that Joel Garner's name came often. He was a beast, dangerous and quick and accurate. I know stats don't tell the whole story but I have been a cricket tragic since I was 5, I watched these guys play and in this case I think the numbers have it right. I would love to see a test comparison I bet Joel is way up there as well. In fact all those Windies quicks from the late 70s to the early 90s were a nightmare. I remember him hitting Greg Chappel with a short one and believe me THAT did not happen every day.

  • BoonBoom on November 22, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    @nlambda...if your yardstick is to take the first 98 games of other players and compare that with Garner......then take the fisrt 52 games of SRT and compare that with Bradman....then SRT was no where near Bradman....the point is: you can not compare players from two different era.....this is unfair

  • BoonBoom on November 22, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    @nlambda..... Imran did hit 20+ runs off Garner. The ODI # 339 played at Sharjah on 15 November 1985. Garnaer bowled the last over and conceeded 22 runs. He had final bowling figures of 9-1-56-1. Imran hit him three sixes in the last over and finhsed 25 not out off just 9 balls. You can google and find out more info, you can also read match report. I doubt if this is available on youtube. Conclusion: sometime there is no harm accepting the fact that Pakistan has produced some marvellous players!!

  • SRT_GENIUS on November 22, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    @DoubleU: The idea of ratios is that it neutralizes the "era" as you are ratios are calculated against you peers of the same era. @author: This list is awesome but in my personal opinion Wasim Akram is as good as any bowler of any era across any format - and I am certainly not his biggest fan as my moniker would suggest. Perhaps sometimes statistics can't capture everything. Otherwise the list is perfect.

  • Venkatb on November 22, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    While I have seen WI teams from the pre-Garner days on, I think some stats favor Garner - 1. The 70s and 80s were the early days of International 1 day cricket so scoring rates were low, 2. Garner's great height and his bowling hand at or above the sightscreen was always an impediment for bowlers - in today's increasing night cricket, that advantage gets nullified - his ball would be easier to spot today, and 3. Garner was not the fastest bowler on the team - his role was to keep the batsmen pegged down while others fired missiles - the anomaly with Imran Khan and Marshall (Tests vs. ODIs) is intriguing.

  • SPotnis on November 22, 2011, 2:16 GMT

    Garner, Holding, Roberts, Marshall, Lillee, Hadlee - These were great in any era. Today's fast bowlers with exception of McGrath are not even close to comparison, Period

  • Zahidsaltin on November 22, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    STRIKE RATE (do they matter) Saqlain: 30,4. Waqar: 30,5. Mcgrath: 34,0. Muralitharan: 35,0 Joel Garner: 36,0

  • Zahidsaltin on November 22, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    Rajesh, There are so many other factors which make a players numbers look different. A bowler opening the bowling and then again bowling in slog overs (both power plays) has a disadvantage as compared to others. Strike rate is another factor which will weigh heavier in many situations. Bowlers like Waqar and Saqlain bagged a lot of wickets in fewer matches but they both were attacking bowlers. Thirdly, subcontinental fast bowlers had flate wickets as compared to others. Ofcourse not everything can be quatified, sure.

  • Meety on November 22, 2011, 0:34 GMT

    @donda - a couple of points, firstly Bradman's career spanned almost 20 yrs at International level & was only 52 tests long due to War & travel constraints. With Garner - his career coincided with the beginning of the money machine that ODIs became. Only about half the games were played back then - so his 98 games could be argued to be more like a 250 game career. @Sachida Nand - how did I know that your premise was going to be because of the recent data that proves SRT not to be the best? Knew it! @dgreatgarysobers - couldn't agree more!

  • Metman on November 22, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    darklion81....I have no doubt that. someone could also come up with a formula that would also show Garner was over 33% better than the next best bowler,so what is your point ? The point is, no matter what you do,as long as you put in the correct data,ALL mathematical equations or concoctions would STILL put Garner at the top,whether by1% or greater than 33%.

  • Mayaro_Man on November 21, 2011, 23:58 GMT

    all you guys who think Garner today would not be as effective, you put on pads, chest guard and helmet (all worn by Indians and Aussies when he bowled) and see how well you would do. Cricket geeks who never saw these guys and sit down and pass judgment by working out formaulas etc need to get with it. Garner got steepling bounce on almost any surface and destroyed everyone. Apart from his bounce was that yorker delivered from that height. And yes, helmets etc were around then. Also, many people like betting on all sorts of things. If you had to defend 6 runs to win in the last over on any surface and you could throw the ball to anyone on these 3 lists, who would it be? I bet you would say garner first and Ambrose second.

  • darklion81 on November 21, 2011, 22:03 GMT

    Mr. Rajesh, the units of the number use to compute the ratio is (runs/wicket)*(runs/over)/(balls/over) = (runs^2/ball/wicket) Therefore, it would make sense to take the square root of this number, and thus, also the square root of the ratio as well. This would not change the order of the rankings of the cricketers, but it would shorten the apparent discrepancy between them to something perhaps more realistic. I don't doubt that Joel Garner was a great ODI bowler, but to say that he is about 33% better than the next best bowlers in all of ODI history is overstating the point! Garner's rating would become ~1.42, while McGrath becomes ~1.33, Pollock & Muralitharan ~1.30, Donald ~1.27, Saqlain ~1.26, etc.

  • nlambda on November 21, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    @Tansen: Imran never hit Garner for 20+ in an over. No One ever did. Find me the match on cricinfo/youtube if you are correct. Hope you are not referring to "Brian Lara Cricket 2000" computer game!

  • DoubleU on November 21, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    Rajesh, I don't deny that all of the bowlers you have listed ERA wise are among the greats and truly standout from the rest of the bowlers.

    While you mention that conditions in 1970s and 1980s were somewhat more favorable for the bowlers then the conditions in 90s and 00s. It would have been interesting, if you presented another list giving the bowlers something to compensate for disadvantage that they had in 90s and 00s.

    Also carrier longevity has an affect on how the bowler performs. A measure of longevity and consistency should also be given a measure as it will provide an interesting argument. Had Joel Garner played as many games as Akram or Mcgrath; would it not had an affect on his performance and consistency?

  • Tansen on November 21, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    I will always remember Imran Khan as having hit Joel Garner and Curtley Ambrose for 20+ runs in an over. Also Winston Benjamin, but that's not as difficult. Don't know whom else. And also haviing savaged Richard Hadlee in a World Cup ODI in 1983.

  • on November 21, 2011, 18:59 GMT

    Now here is a good thought, whenever we compare Sachin with Bradman or Viv Richards, we always say in these legends' defense that they played in difficult conditions, or played on uncovered pitches where there was bounce and movement. And whenever we compare Lillie, Garner or Marshall with Akram, McGrath, Donald; we say these 80's giants were better. Please guys get over yourself. Its stupid to compare players from different era. Modern players play in situations where they bowl on powdery or flat wickets, have powerplays to contend with, bouncer limitations, free hit and stuff. Don't you think Garner, Lillie, Marshall, Holding, Botham, Dev, Imran Khan had some really good wickets to bowl on, whereas Akram or Waqar were bowling on kitchen floors with a terrible slip cordon, what does it make them then? Greater than these 80's legends? I'm against such stupid comparisons and dont believe Viv or even Bradman for that matter was better than SRT. They all had their own share of advantanges

  • nlambda on November 21, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    Guys, 98 games is statistically enough to call out the class of Garner. It is not as if cricinfo took someone with 10 wickets in 3 games and called him the greatest. It is not Garner's fault that in his era, ODIs were a recent phenemenon and were not played as much. How well did Akram, McGrath, Murali, Saqlain do in their 1st 98 games...

  • Metman on November 21, 2011, 17:56 GMT

    @ donda... Don Bradman only played 52 test matches,yet he is a legend ! What makes him a legend ?obviously you look at his average ! Garner only played 98 ODI's,and his average/economy rate is better than everbody else's, yet you don't consider him a legend !@ BoonBoom....you can't use strike rate alone also.Putting av./econ rate/strike rate together,Garner STILL tops the list !

  • on November 21, 2011, 16:59 GMT

    Posted by shivendash on (November 21 2011, 04:16 AM GMT) Where are the indian bowlers??? Sreesnth, nehra n srinath???

    - No kidding. No Mention of great Sanjiv Sharma, dangerous Atul Wassan or the pace bowling legend Rashid Patel also. Shievendas, your serious comments can be good material for Cricinfo Page 2.

    -----------

    Waqar should not be in the all time great list. even Saqlain Mushtaque has better strike rate, better average and better economy than him. I was surprised not to see Akram's name in the final cut. He was an extremely dangerous bowler (Oneday).

    Garner, Hadlee and Pollock are not discussed (Comapred to Imran, Holding, Lillee, Donald, McGrath, Ambross, Marshall) as much they should be.

  • donda on November 21, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    Garner was best and great but his career was not that long only 98 matches don't make you legend of the game. With 1 exception of Don Bradman every other legend played for long long time. More than 70 to 80 test matches and more than 200 ODIs.

    Looking into ODI history , i think Wasim Akram was the best bowler of all time and Saqlain was second best because of his variety.

    Garner was great great but only 98 matches don't make you the best of all time.

    We should give credit to Waqar, McGrath, Vas, Warne for playing long and especially in batting conditions.

    However, you can always say Murli was the best of all too because he played long, he took most wickets and won lots of matches single handed.

  • on November 21, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    i like McGrath but i have toaccept that Akram was alltime best in odi's. sad that his name is not there in that last table.

  • timmyw on November 21, 2011, 16:00 GMT

    You know I love Wasim Akram, always have that guy is a pure legend. But I have no problem what so ever believing Garner was the best. He used to bowl some literally unplayable deliveries, and unlike Akram batsmen rarely had a chance to attack him. Same with McGrath, his style meant the batsman had to try and attack him, which brings risk into it when you are trying to score a ton of runs in 50 overs. I reckon Garner was way up there in tests too, one of the greats for sure.

  • on November 21, 2011, 15:42 GMT

    One big factor such analysis ignores is the fact that even within the same era, the averages are very different depending on the venue. For example, even now, everyone berates the runs scored by Indians saying these are cheap runs. By the same token, the economy rates of Kapil, Srinath and Kumble should be treated as more respectable then what they are shown to be. In fact, same thing applies when people say India does not produce good bowlers.

  • nlambda on November 21, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    I always believed Garner was the greatest ODI bowler and this confirms it... for those crying that Akram should be the greatest: get over yourselves. Garner is a cut above all. How many wickets did Akram get off no-balls anyway :-)

  • nzcricket174 on November 21, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    yep Shane Bond - the great player that never was.

  • its.rachit on November 21, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    there are only 2 problems with the list ... wasim akram and waqar younis ... where they stand in the top 10 is subjective, but their inclusion in the list is as easy as picking bradman in an all time test 11 ....

  • NALINWIJ on November 21, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    The statistics supports the obvious fact that Garner and McGrath are the most effective ODI bowlers but I would also pick Wasim Akram and Malinga in the greatest ODI XI. 1.Jayasuriya 2.gilchrist 3.VIV Richards 4.Tendulkar 5.Ponting 6.Aravinda de Silva 7.Wasim Akram 8.Warne 9.Malinga 10.Garner 11.McGrath

  • BoonBoom on November 21, 2011, 10:59 GMT

    Rajish stats are usually interesting but I dont understand what he istrying to prove here... ER and Bowling Average basically gives the same info...what is missing from this analysis is STRIKE RATE (ability to take wickets). You need to go back to the drawing board and do this analysis yet again taking into consideration strike rate. Trust me .....this list will be totally up side down. ER x Ave gives you nothing!!!!

  • on November 21, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    For one-day cricket I think you should have given strike rate more weightage than economy rates...and I believe Waqar Younis was easily the best one-day bowler alongwith Wasim Akram...And I say that because he had the ability to win games from a hopeless position something neither Ambrose or any of the other bowlers in that list couldnt do...And this is why he has the most no. of 5 wicket hauls and most no. of MOM awards won by a bowler (fast bowlers and spinners) in ODIs

  • Ikhtiar on November 21, 2011, 10:51 GMT

    @shivendash: I am sorry but I believe Kapil is an Indian Bowler:). Kumble and Srinath got honorable mentions as well.

    And do you really believe Sreeshanth, Nehra deserves a place in this elite league? They are good decent bowlers but certainly not greats.

    A couple of great ODI bowlers not got a place in this list are - Fanny De Villers & Akib Javed.

  • mafia300 on November 21, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    @ Scott Struiksma Kapil Dev. L2Read.

  • getsetgopk on November 21, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    NO sir Wasim Akram was and will remain for sometime the best ODI bowler, simple reason he comes from pakistan and wickets in Pak are flat and non conducive to pace/swing bowling but he still accumulated over 500 wickets, Pakistan mostly played at sharjah something like 86 ODI victories for Pakistan at sharjah alone, these lists above means nothing, comeup with new lists and put things into the right perspective and you shall see who the best bowler was.

  • on November 21, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    Its so amazing to see the stats of joel garner hadn't seen any of his innings in my lifetime however the legends are out of cricket and don't know what west indies are now upto can't see anyone posing a mere threat to any of the batsmen. Hail the old horses!!!!

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    Nice sarcasm, Shivendash.

  • chad_reid on November 21, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    lol @ first comment......................

  • ChiragDoshi on November 21, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    Any list not featuring the great Ajit Agarkar is worthless..

  • Cricketer2010 on November 21, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    Come on....... in early days there were lively wickets, 200 was a good score...... one day cricket was just emerging.......Test cricket was taken seriously......... how can u compare those bowlers with current age

    You have igonre the strike rate in these analysis, instead of economy, stike rate can give better and compareable results........

  • dirty271283 on November 21, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    @shivendash. Could it be that they are simply not good enough? Does every single list ever created need to have an Indian name in it just for the sake of it?

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    indian bowlers are terrible, that is why they arent there

  • on November 21, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    @shivendash: The listed bowlers are much better than Sreesanth, Nehra and probably Srinath too. These are top class bowlers. India hardly had any great bowlers at that time, apart from Kumble and Kapil Dev.

  • supkarr on November 21, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    By all logic I can not agree that Shane Bond was a better ODI bowler than Wasim Akram. Longevity is also a factor that should be taken into consideration. If a continuous 82 match stretch of Wasim Akram is considered then it may be better than that of Shane Bond.

    Secondly it is my personal feeling that Saqlain Mustaq was slightly better ODI bowler than Muralitharan. He beat the best of ODI batsmen during his period.

    Comparing different generations is never easy. So a nice attempt.

  • StarsnStumps on November 21, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    @ shivendash ...um ... maybe because they r not greats ... the only time sreesant, nehra or srinath may be mentioned in the same sentence as garner holding mcgrath or wasim is this " garner/holding/mcgrath/wasim had more bowling talent in their toenails than sreesath nehra and srinath combined."

  • TheAbacus on November 21, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    Where is Agarkar I say! :D

  • sifter132 on November 21, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    Great article and it supports my personal belief that Hadlee and Pollock are very undervalued when it comes to all time ODI XIs. Everyone slots Wasim Akram in at #8 like an automatic selection, but Hadlee and Pollock were just as effective, if not as flashy.

  • marutijha on November 21, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    @shivendash "must be reading this article " :P

  • on November 21, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Good list. Interesting that Garner is about as far ahead of the rest as Viv Richards was! Of course, the weightage for longevity will be good because Garner's 98 matches are too few compared to Murali's 350 whom I regard the best ODI bowler of all time.

  • geraldf on November 21, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    @shivendash ...you're joking right? Maybe Srinath, to a lesser extent, but Nehra and Sreesanth? They would'nt even be included in the top 10 Indian ODI Bowlers... It's times like these when I'm saddened to be Indian. Next you're going to say, "Where's Tendulkar in the top ODI bowlers?"

  • ROLAYH on November 21, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Any list not featuring Wasim and Waqar even in top 10 has to be dubious...

  • Nuxta on November 21, 2011, 5:15 GMT

    @shivendash - You're kidding, right?

  • Meety on November 21, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    Very good analysis. What would be interesting is a sub-analysis showing how bowlers went during blocks of 10 overs - meaning the first 10 overs, 2nd 10 etc. An analysis of that would show just how hard Garner was to get away, he usually bowled at least 6 overs in his first spell & I remember if you had taken 20 runs off him you were "smashing" him - 'cos it usually was about 6-2-10-1! == == == The only thing I don't like about the top 10 - is that IMO, Lee should be in there. If you look at wickets per match he is miles ahead of Pollock & McGrath, so I think there is too great an emphasis on Economy. Anyways a fairly small gripe. == == == I wonder if this analysis could be done on part time bowlers. Maybe a career of average of less than 30 balls per match?

  • shivendash on November 21, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Where are the indian bowlers??? Sreesnth, nehra n srinath???

  • harshthakor on November 21, 2011, 3:43 GMT

    In terms of accuracy Garner was the best paceman I have ever seen and the best one day bowler of his era..After the ball left his hands it appeared more like it was shot out of a computerised bowling machine.In addition to that the lift he obtained from his height or steep bounce from a good length was unplayable.The best West Indian one day International bowler of all and in that version of cricket ahead of greats like Lillee,Imran or Roberts.

    However the one-day pace bowling king was Wasim Akram.His pace combined with variations made him unplayable .His swinging yorkers in the death overs turned the fortunes of many a game.From Lilleeto Marshall and Mcgrath no bowler was equally good.

    In order my best are Wasim Akram,Joel Garner,Waqar Younus,Dennis Lillee,Glen Mcgrath and Michael Holding.

  • Shams on November 21, 2011, 3:40 GMT

    Nice analysis, two comments tough (1) Is there some way to factor in the effect of powerplays? The period is a distinct disadvantage for a bowler to be bowling, likewise a distinct advantage for the batsman. That will show how superior McGrath and Pollock were to some of the others during the same period. (2) Can the level of scoring in the match be factored in to account for batting conditions? This should give bowlers who performed well in batting friendly conditions more points. Someone like Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis for example.

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  • Shams on November 21, 2011, 3:40 GMT

    Nice analysis, two comments tough (1) Is there some way to factor in the effect of powerplays? The period is a distinct disadvantage for a bowler to be bowling, likewise a distinct advantage for the batsman. That will show how superior McGrath and Pollock were to some of the others during the same period. (2) Can the level of scoring in the match be factored in to account for batting conditions? This should give bowlers who performed well in batting friendly conditions more points. Someone like Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis for example.

  • harshthakor on November 21, 2011, 3:43 GMT

    In terms of accuracy Garner was the best paceman I have ever seen and the best one day bowler of his era..After the ball left his hands it appeared more like it was shot out of a computerised bowling machine.In addition to that the lift he obtained from his height or steep bounce from a good length was unplayable.The best West Indian one day International bowler of all and in that version of cricket ahead of greats like Lillee,Imran or Roberts.

    However the one-day pace bowling king was Wasim Akram.His pace combined with variations made him unplayable .His swinging yorkers in the death overs turned the fortunes of many a game.From Lilleeto Marshall and Mcgrath no bowler was equally good.

    In order my best are Wasim Akram,Joel Garner,Waqar Younus,Dennis Lillee,Glen Mcgrath and Michael Holding.

  • shivendash on November 21, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Where are the indian bowlers??? Sreesnth, nehra n srinath???

  • Meety on November 21, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    Very good analysis. What would be interesting is a sub-analysis showing how bowlers went during blocks of 10 overs - meaning the first 10 overs, 2nd 10 etc. An analysis of that would show just how hard Garner was to get away, he usually bowled at least 6 overs in his first spell & I remember if you had taken 20 runs off him you were "smashing" him - 'cos it usually was about 6-2-10-1! == == == The only thing I don't like about the top 10 - is that IMO, Lee should be in there. If you look at wickets per match he is miles ahead of Pollock & McGrath, so I think there is too great an emphasis on Economy. Anyways a fairly small gripe. == == == I wonder if this analysis could be done on part time bowlers. Maybe a career of average of less than 30 balls per match?

  • Nuxta on November 21, 2011, 5:15 GMT

    @shivendash - You're kidding, right?

  • ROLAYH on November 21, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Any list not featuring Wasim and Waqar even in top 10 has to be dubious...

  • geraldf on November 21, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    @shivendash ...you're joking right? Maybe Srinath, to a lesser extent, but Nehra and Sreesanth? They would'nt even be included in the top 10 Indian ODI Bowlers... It's times like these when I'm saddened to be Indian. Next you're going to say, "Where's Tendulkar in the top ODI bowlers?"

  • on November 21, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Good list. Interesting that Garner is about as far ahead of the rest as Viv Richards was! Of course, the weightage for longevity will be good because Garner's 98 matches are too few compared to Murali's 350 whom I regard the best ODI bowler of all time.

  • marutijha on November 21, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    @shivendash "must be reading this article " :P

  • sifter132 on November 21, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    Great article and it supports my personal belief that Hadlee and Pollock are very undervalued when it comes to all time ODI XIs. Everyone slots Wasim Akram in at #8 like an automatic selection, but Hadlee and Pollock were just as effective, if not as flashy.