June 10, 2012

Quick picks

Five all-time great fast bowlers who had pace as well as every trick in the book
102

Ray Lindwall heads my list of the five best fast bowlers I have seen.

This artist-cricketer changed his pace with all the subtle artifices any fast bowler of any era has achieved, and he did what all great bowlers must do: broke the rhythm of the batsman. At his peak he had the power to slay by thunder or defeat by guile.

Stocky and strong, Lindwall was like a well-toned welterweight, ready to punch and counter-punch. He bowled outswingers at genuine speed, and had what Pelham Warner called "shades of pace". To the purists, Lindwall's bowling arm was too low, but that helped his skidding bouncer. Instead of climbing harmlessly over the batsman's head, it came at the throat, earning him the nickname "Killer".

Lindwall was at the height of his powers when he spearheaded Don Bradman's bowling attack - which included Bill Johnston, Keith Miller and Ernie Toshack - on the celebrated 1948 Australian tour of England. In five Tests there, he took 27 wickets. Through the 1950s he reigned supreme as Australia's spearhead, bowling his heart out against some of the greatest batsmen of any era, including such luminaries as Len Hutton, Denis Compton, Garry Sobers, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott, Frank Worrell and Vijay Hazare.

Just before World War II erupted, then St George Cricket Club captain Bill O'Reilly took Lindwall under his wing. It is said that O'Reilly brought to the club the technology called "electric-eye photography", which allowed the youngster to watch his action on film in slow motion, a tool to help identify any technical faults. O'Reilly remembered Lindwall as a starry-eyed kid, who always timed his after-school cricket in the street with his mates to coincide with when O'Reilly, secretary of the Lion Tile Company, walked the streets of Kogarah on his way home. The instant O'Reilly turned into the street, there was young Lindwall in full flight.

Lindwall's first Test was O'Reilly's last - the 1945-46 one-off match against New Zealand in Wellington. O'Reilly took a match haul of 8 for 33 off 19 overs, and his protégé got 2 for 29 off 17. Lindwall played 61 Tests, 228 wickets at 23.03, with a Test best of 7 for 38. However, his 6 for 20 in the England first innings of the fifth Test at The Oval in 1948 to demolish Hutton's men for 52 was his piece de resistance.

****

Good judges describe Dennis Lillee as the "complete bowler", one who always stayed a step ahead of the pack.

In the Test arena, Lillee was never beaten. He did what it took to take you out, and sometimes he roughed you up along the way.

His battles with West Indian champion Viv Richards were legendary. Richards put to the sword to all the international bowlers of his era, but from the first time that he came up against Lillee, it was two irresistible forces meeting: a heavyweight fight between two unrelenting combatants. Their contests were always take-no-prisoners affairs.

In December 1971, Lillee blitzed a strong World Xl batting line-up in Perth, taking 8 for 29 and then four in the follow-on. He bowled magnificently as well in England in 1972, taking 31 wickets at 17.67 in the series.

Many believed Lillee's career was all but over late in the summer of 1972-73, when he sustained multiple stress fractures in his back. He underwent a long regime of intensive physiotherapy, during which his determination became legend. He came back to big cricket in 1974-75, perfect timing to partner Jeff Thomson against England Down Under, when the two destroyed the visiting team as Australia won 4-1.

Lillee played World Series Cricket for a couple of years, during which he worked diligently on his approach to the wicket and his delivery. He became an even better bowler technically, if that was even possible. The famous "caught Marsh bowled Lillee" dismissal appears on Test match scorecards 95 times. In 70 Tests, Lillee took 355 wickets at 23.92 with 23 hauls of five wickets, and his best Test figures were 7 for 83 against West Indies at the MCG in 1981. But figures cannot tell of a bowler's strategy, the way a victim is stalked and finally put to the sword. When he had to struggle with his body - and he often had to, over his stellar career - Lillee called upon all his inner reserves and often drove himself upward and onward by sheer will power.

****

To me, cricketing heaven would be Wasim Akram and Shane Warne bowling in tandem to Victor Trumper and Don Bradman.

When he came in to bowl, Wasim was a mirror image of Keith Miller, the great Australian allrounder, whose build, athleticism and good looks captured the imagination. Wasim excelled at the highest level with the ball - often on wickets that did not provide much in the way of pace and bounce. He could move the ball - new or old - either way. His efforts with the old ball, especially, were fabulous; he learnt better than anyone how to rough one side of the ball up in such a way that he could achieve reverse swing.

Wasim had a style of his own. He'd shuffle to the crease, transfer his weight from back foot to front, and with an incredibly swift arm action left fly with a searing bouncer, a late inswinging yorker, or a ball he held back to lure the batsman into an indiscreet off- or cover drive. The best Pakistani fast bowler since the halcyon days of Imran Khan, Wasim was a match-winner with the ball, but I also recall him once batting with Imran when both of them hit centuries at the Adelaide Oval to thwart an Australian victory.

I've seen some fabulous left-arm pace bowlers in my time, including Alan Davidson and Garry Sobers, but none of them at their top quite gets above Wasim. He invariably wove some magic and brought the deadest of pitches to life. I can still see in that Adelaide Test Steve Waugh shoulder arms to a wonderful inswinging yorker that would have scattered all three uprights, ending up being palpably lbw.

****

Alan Davidson's strength, smooth action and skill saw him take 186 wickets in 44 Tests at an average of 20.53. He bowled from a 15-paced approach and eased into a lovely side-on position just before delivery. While he didn't have the bustle or rapid bowling arm of Wasim, Davo had a nice rhythm. He used his front arm to good effect and had the ability to swing in late to the right-handers or angle the ball away. It was, of course, his ability to swing the ball that made his away angle so dangerous. So many of his Test victims were caught behind by the ever reliable Wally Grout.

Davo took some time to emerge from the shadow of Bill Johnston, one of the bowling stalwarts of the 1948 side, and it was Johnston who showed him how to adjust his grip ever so slightly to achieve subtle changes of pace and swing. "Bill was terrific to me on my first tour of England in 1953," Davidson recalled. "I fielded mid-on to him in the county matches and he'd say to me, 'Ready, Davo?' For a beautifully disguised slower one he pushed the ball back into his palm and spun it in the orthodox fashion. The ball seemed to curve in and drop, thus creating a lot of mis-hits and scoops to me at mid-on." Davo was then just 21 and fielding to Johnston was quite the education for him.

Through his career and beyond, Davo made a study of the craft of bowling. He practised bowling deliveries with his fingers strategically placed along the seam, using his thumb as rudder. "I think of the grip as a kangaroo - two fingers at the top of the ball are the kangaroo's legs, the thumb at the bottom of the ball is the kangaroo's tail. When a kangaroo wants to change direction, he stops squats and his tail points the way. My thumb became the kangaroo's tail."

Davo was immensely strong, with the shoulders of a colossus, which gave extraordinary power to every ball he delivered.

The WACA ground in Perth was the venue for the only hat-trick he ever got in first class cricket - on a day I took a "sickie" from my post at the Commonwealth Bank to watch. It was WA versus NSW in 1962. Davo's first victim in the hat-trick was John Parker, a solid right-hander, who lost his castle to an inswinging yorker. Next came the WA captain, Barry Shepherd. "I got him with a yorker which moved in late to knock out the leg stump," Davo remembered. The new batsman, Russell Waugh, walked briskly towards the centre, hell-bent upon saving the team from the third wicket in three balls. "I tried the inswing yorker," Davo said, "and Waugh came forward, getting an inside edge onto his pad, and the ball ballooned to Norm O'Neill at silly point."

****

Malcolm Marshall emerged from a pack of tremendous fast bowlers. When he started his international career, the likes of Andy Roberts. Joel Garner, Colin Croft and Michael Holding provided an armoury of fast bowling riches for West Indies captain Clive Lloyd to call upon. But where with the likes of Roberts, Garner and Holding, a batsman needed to be able to hook a bouncer and dig out a searing yorker, it was different with Marshall.

Here was a man who bustled to the crease with sparkling little steps. There was a twinkle and a bustle about him. Some purists thought his action too open, but while Marshall was very chest-on at the point of delivery, he managed to get the ball to swing away late from right-handers.

In terms of pace, he seemed to always have a little in reserve - quite unsettling, for you knew as a batsman that this man could take things to another level. His front-on action allowed him to bowl an outswinger or an inswinger from exactly the same position, and that gave him an enormous advantage. Only top-class batsmen could negotiate controlled swing of that nature at genuine pace.

Like Wasim, Marshall possessed a wickedly fast arm that took him at will from fast-medium to express. Marshall did not have the height of a Garner or a Holding, and like Lindwall's, his bouncer skidded at the batsman. In being very front-on, he was much like South Africa's Mike Procter; also in that he was relentlessly at you: both bowlers were hunters.

Late in his career Marshall developed a splendid legcutter. On an absolute turner at the SCG, in a game in which Allan Border took 11 Test wickets - Marshall bowled 31 overs and took 5 for 29: masterly pace bowling on a wicket that provided nothing for any type of fast bowler. His strike rate of 46.22 was phenomenal, and he got 22 bags of five wickets, with a Test best of 7 for 22.

His great courage was ever with him. His bravest, most astonishing, performance came against England at Headingley in 1984. Marshall had broken his left thumb and was not expected to take any more part in the match. When the ninth West Indies wicket fell in their first innings, some of the England players began to stroll towards the pavilion, but they stopped when they saw Marshall emerge from the shadows. He batted one-handed, enough to allow Larry Gomes to complete his century. Then, with his lower left arm encased in pink-coloured plaster, he demolished England with a take-no-prisoners 7 for 53.

He excelled for West Indies and for Hampshire, the county team he loved. He may well have been the greatest quick of them all. Vale Malcolm Marshall.

Ashley Mallett took 132 Tests wickets in 38 Tests for Australia. An author of over 25 books, he has written biographies of Clarrie Grimmett, Doug Walters, Jeff Thomson and Ian Chappell

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on June 13, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - just another comment on Hadlee. He was probably the 2nd most sledged cricketer to have played in Oz (behind Douglas Jardine) I reckon. I don't think anyone has ever come close to coping a verbal bashing to what Hadlee copped thru the 80s. Ozzy fans will say it was out of respect, but it was too far for my liking. Since then a lot of people say Murali was sledged in Oz, from what I saw/heard it came nowhere near what Hadlee copped. Murali's bagging was mainly - humorous (no-ball) comments. Hadlee's sledging was in the main would involve half the crowd chanting "Hadlee's a ------", it was catchy but IMO in retrospect very embarrassing. So it makes his achievements in Oz even more meritorious.

  • Meety on June 13, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    @peterhrt - interesting comment, liked the way you put a time line on it. @Dravid_Gravitas - Lillee re-worked his action, & so later in his career was not as likely to be injured. His action is admired for the way in which it enbled him to use variations without giving much away to the batsmen. It is why Marshall is a bit of a freak, as his action would of suggested that an outswinger to a RHB - would be unlikely. He did it somehow. I don't think you can get too hung up on a bowlers action in deciding whether they are great or not. I loved Kapil Dev's action, & as good as he was, he is nowhere near an alltime great pacer. I agree that Hadlee is someone that would not be out of place on this list, I still shudder at the mention of his name after that routing he gave us at the Gabba (9/50ish). That whole summer I was almost physically sick everytime he was bowling to our boys! I couldn't wait for the over to be called & ANY other Kiwi bowled!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 12, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    Lillee has the most ridiculous action leading to career threatening injury. That itself is a disqualification to say that he is a 'complete' fast bowler. A complete fast bowler is the one who must be able to bowl express pace sans ridiculous action that would put strain on your back. I love Shane Bond too, but he wouldn't be in my list of top pacers of the world because he is too injury prone just like Lillee. To me, it has to be Sir Richard Hadlee miles ahead of Lillee. In fact, Lillee, Waqar and Shane Bond should never be talked about while we are talking of just 5 best pacers in the world. Their bowling actions are just too complicated and went against their bodies and by extension would have gone against the bodies of pacers in general. Period! Why would you put a bowler like Lillee in that list and remove the silk smooth Sir Richard Hadlee from it?

  • Number_5 on June 12, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Such pieces are always great to read for cricket tragics (like me) and generate much conversation. Ambrose, Holding, Wes Hall, Hadlee, Donald, Trueman, Larwood, McGrath, Younis could all press a case for inclusion..ohh for winter to be over and the cricket to be here again down under.

  • PrasPunter on June 12, 2012, 8:10 GMT

    Wasim Akram... I have never seen such a fantastic left-arm fast bowler than Wasim !! The searing yorkers that he would bowl are still fresh in memory !! The one he bowled ( i think ) to Paul Reiffel in a WC match in 1999 hit the root of the leg stump !! A crafty bowler who had a lot of control on almost every ball he bowled !! And someone who doesnt really depend on the pitch to assist him. Surely my pick for the "Best fast bowler of his era award" !! Wish we have Wasim as our fast-bowling coach than De Winter !!

  • WickyRoy.paklover on June 12, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    @Bublu Bhayan,well ,by d same count srinath would nt b considrd among top 100 bowlrs,prasad among 300,kumble among 200.Check out kumble stat outsid india,he was D prime example of "HOME MADE CHAMPION",WAQAR,WASIM,IMRAN would be obvious choice of any cric analyst,expert whenevr anybdy deems to cmpile list of all time greatest top 10 bowlrs,they would b featurng in top 5 of majority of writrs,if ur dravid,s z bad against aus,he should nt b cnsidred 4 top 50 batsmen,as simple as that.I DN'T THNK WRLD Has seen wasim,waqar,imran trio before n they woudn't be watchng it in near futur.

  • Dubious on June 12, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    @nayjot2000: "With the exception of maybe Wasim all the others bowled in an era poor athleticism and low workload."

    You can't be serious can you? How about you do some reading--read about Davidson's workload, in particular on one particular Indian tour. Read about about how many overs he bowled (still 8 ball overs too I believe) and he had a back injury at the time. As for poor athleticism, Davidson was fit as a fiddle--he grew up on a farm as a woodchopper. In fact he was far fitter than I ever saw Wasim.

  • on June 12, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    KiwiRocker: Let's look at how Waqar Younis performed against the two best batting line ups of his time, Australia and India. Against Australia he averages 33.80 at a strike rate of 62.7, against India he averages 48.75 at a strike rate of 80.2. That's how good he was against better batting line ups. He isn't good enough to be among the top 30 bowlers of all time.

  • insightfulcricketer on June 12, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    I am sorry Sir Richard Hadlee has to be on that list of Top 5 wicket-takers.I remember that series of 1989-90 when Hadlee toured India last and to see some of his spell then on dead Indian wickets was quite an education.None of the above mentioned bowlers have 5 wickets or more on Indian wickets in an innings ( Akram included) - he did. Plus his single handed destruction of various batting lineup of his time is legendary.He could bowl the leg cutter,out swinger,in-swinger and incutter from literally the same spot .Ok he had outsized shoes but still it required great skill.

  • peterhrt on June 11, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    The article's subtitle mentions all-time great fast bowlers. Informed opinion has bestowed the accolade of greatest-ever fast bowler on relatively few. A progressive chronological list would look something like this. 1860 John Jackson. 1870 George Freeman. 1878 Fred Spofforth. 1895 Tom Richardson (Spofforth still regarded best ever all-round bowler). 1921 Ted McDonald. 1932 Harold Larwood. 1948 Ray Lindwall. 1975 Dennis Lillee. 1984 to present - Malcolm Marshall. In Australia and England Lillee is still considered number one. Elsewhere Marshall. Ray Lindwall held the unofficial title for nearly 30 years and Mallett would have grown up believing he was the greatest. Marshall has now widely been regarded the best-ever for just as long, but has faced sterner competition - from Lillee as well as others from the modern era, such as Hadlee and Wasim Akram. Whereas Hadlee's reputation has faded a little since retirement, Wasim's seems to have grown. But not enough to supplant Marshall.

  • Meety on June 13, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - just another comment on Hadlee. He was probably the 2nd most sledged cricketer to have played in Oz (behind Douglas Jardine) I reckon. I don't think anyone has ever come close to coping a verbal bashing to what Hadlee copped thru the 80s. Ozzy fans will say it was out of respect, but it was too far for my liking. Since then a lot of people say Murali was sledged in Oz, from what I saw/heard it came nowhere near what Hadlee copped. Murali's bagging was mainly - humorous (no-ball) comments. Hadlee's sledging was in the main would involve half the crowd chanting "Hadlee's a ------", it was catchy but IMO in retrospect very embarrassing. So it makes his achievements in Oz even more meritorious.

  • Meety on June 13, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    @peterhrt - interesting comment, liked the way you put a time line on it. @Dravid_Gravitas - Lillee re-worked his action, & so later in his career was not as likely to be injured. His action is admired for the way in which it enbled him to use variations without giving much away to the batsmen. It is why Marshall is a bit of a freak, as his action would of suggested that an outswinger to a RHB - would be unlikely. He did it somehow. I don't think you can get too hung up on a bowlers action in deciding whether they are great or not. I loved Kapil Dev's action, & as good as he was, he is nowhere near an alltime great pacer. I agree that Hadlee is someone that would not be out of place on this list, I still shudder at the mention of his name after that routing he gave us at the Gabba (9/50ish). That whole summer I was almost physically sick everytime he was bowling to our boys! I couldn't wait for the over to be called & ANY other Kiwi bowled!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 12, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    Lillee has the most ridiculous action leading to career threatening injury. That itself is a disqualification to say that he is a 'complete' fast bowler. A complete fast bowler is the one who must be able to bowl express pace sans ridiculous action that would put strain on your back. I love Shane Bond too, but he wouldn't be in my list of top pacers of the world because he is too injury prone just like Lillee. To me, it has to be Sir Richard Hadlee miles ahead of Lillee. In fact, Lillee, Waqar and Shane Bond should never be talked about while we are talking of just 5 best pacers in the world. Their bowling actions are just too complicated and went against their bodies and by extension would have gone against the bodies of pacers in general. Period! Why would you put a bowler like Lillee in that list and remove the silk smooth Sir Richard Hadlee from it?

  • Number_5 on June 12, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Such pieces are always great to read for cricket tragics (like me) and generate much conversation. Ambrose, Holding, Wes Hall, Hadlee, Donald, Trueman, Larwood, McGrath, Younis could all press a case for inclusion..ohh for winter to be over and the cricket to be here again down under.

  • PrasPunter on June 12, 2012, 8:10 GMT

    Wasim Akram... I have never seen such a fantastic left-arm fast bowler than Wasim !! The searing yorkers that he would bowl are still fresh in memory !! The one he bowled ( i think ) to Paul Reiffel in a WC match in 1999 hit the root of the leg stump !! A crafty bowler who had a lot of control on almost every ball he bowled !! And someone who doesnt really depend on the pitch to assist him. Surely my pick for the "Best fast bowler of his era award" !! Wish we have Wasim as our fast-bowling coach than De Winter !!

  • WickyRoy.paklover on June 12, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    @Bublu Bhayan,well ,by d same count srinath would nt b considrd among top 100 bowlrs,prasad among 300,kumble among 200.Check out kumble stat outsid india,he was D prime example of "HOME MADE CHAMPION",WAQAR,WASIM,IMRAN would be obvious choice of any cric analyst,expert whenevr anybdy deems to cmpile list of all time greatest top 10 bowlrs,they would b featurng in top 5 of majority of writrs,if ur dravid,s z bad against aus,he should nt b cnsidred 4 top 50 batsmen,as simple as that.I DN'T THNK WRLD Has seen wasim,waqar,imran trio before n they woudn't be watchng it in near futur.

  • Dubious on June 12, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    @nayjot2000: "With the exception of maybe Wasim all the others bowled in an era poor athleticism and low workload."

    You can't be serious can you? How about you do some reading--read about Davidson's workload, in particular on one particular Indian tour. Read about about how many overs he bowled (still 8 ball overs too I believe) and he had a back injury at the time. As for poor athleticism, Davidson was fit as a fiddle--he grew up on a farm as a woodchopper. In fact he was far fitter than I ever saw Wasim.

  • on June 12, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    KiwiRocker: Let's look at how Waqar Younis performed against the two best batting line ups of his time, Australia and India. Against Australia he averages 33.80 at a strike rate of 62.7, against India he averages 48.75 at a strike rate of 80.2. That's how good he was against better batting line ups. He isn't good enough to be among the top 30 bowlers of all time.

  • insightfulcricketer on June 12, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    I am sorry Sir Richard Hadlee has to be on that list of Top 5 wicket-takers.I remember that series of 1989-90 when Hadlee toured India last and to see some of his spell then on dead Indian wickets was quite an education.None of the above mentioned bowlers have 5 wickets or more on Indian wickets in an innings ( Akram included) - he did. Plus his single handed destruction of various batting lineup of his time is legendary.He could bowl the leg cutter,out swinger,in-swinger and incutter from literally the same spot .Ok he had outsized shoes but still it required great skill.

  • peterhrt on June 11, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    The article's subtitle mentions all-time great fast bowlers. Informed opinion has bestowed the accolade of greatest-ever fast bowler on relatively few. A progressive chronological list would look something like this. 1860 John Jackson. 1870 George Freeman. 1878 Fred Spofforth. 1895 Tom Richardson (Spofforth still regarded best ever all-round bowler). 1921 Ted McDonald. 1932 Harold Larwood. 1948 Ray Lindwall. 1975 Dennis Lillee. 1984 to present - Malcolm Marshall. In Australia and England Lillee is still considered number one. Elsewhere Marshall. Ray Lindwall held the unofficial title for nearly 30 years and Mallett would have grown up believing he was the greatest. Marshall has now widely been regarded the best-ever for just as long, but has faced sterner competition - from Lillee as well as others from the modern era, such as Hadlee and Wasim Akram. Whereas Hadlee's reputation has faded a little since retirement, Wasim's seems to have grown. But not enough to supplant Marshall.

  • on June 11, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    Was that thunder I just heard, or was it the ghost of Fred Trueman demanding to know where was Fred Trueman on this list? :)

  • HumungousFungus on June 11, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    Excellent article Ashley. I would have loved to have seen Lindwall (and Miller), and whilst Davidson never seems to get as much recognition as his numbers might merit, it is worth noting that he is always spoken of in glowing terms by those he played with and against. Wasim was just a genius, and capable of bowling terrifyingly fast when the mood took him, whilst his control of the ball was sublime. Marshall has had so much written about him, all fully deserved, that I do not feel I can adequately add to it. And as for DK Lillee? I once saw him play a day / night game for a World XI against Glamorgan on an artifical pitch at Swansea...He would have been 40 by then, I reckon. Short run up, gloriously smooth action, bowling medium fast. Matthew Maynard starts knocking him around a bit. Cue a ridiculously fast bouncer, delivered with no change of action, which puts the young upstart on his behind. Cue follow through, smile, quiet word. I worshipped him from that point on!

  • on June 11, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    Had the privilage of watching Wasim Akram and Marshall. While Akram was mesmerising with the variety (and in those days, was India's nemesis in most IND / PAK matches), Marshall was fiery and relentless (particularly, if you are facing him after Roberts, Garner and Holding). Wasim was no different, given that he was sandwiched between Waqar and Imran.

    Absolute treat to watch them - though, team India happened to be on losing side.

  • Meety on June 11, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    @smudgeon - agree re: Ambrose, I rated him more highly than Marshall. I use to one part despise him & the other part admire him if that is possible. At the end of his career it was all pure admiration, the way he kept a once great side competitive. He was such an anti-hero!

  • on June 11, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    A good list, fantastic feeling to read about wasim!

  • jr2012 on June 11, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    With the exception of maybe Wasim all the others bowled in an era poor athleticism and low workload. There is also a lack credible intensive video evidence how some these bowled and how fast.

    What Vinay Kumar a future legend in the making, he might not be fast but his impeccable line and length will get him over 400 wickets.

    Had a wonderful IPL, another one is Wahab Riaz who is having a lean patch, but this guy is legend in making got pace and swing, a chip of the old Wasim Akram.

    The short sightedness from Mallet borders on embarrassment.

  • S.h.a.d.a.b on June 11, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    I read Ashley's writings as an Australian is writing about cricket, but it's a better one. It could much better if he could be able to chose 5 bowlers from 5 nations.

  • KiwiRocker- on June 11, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Why is Anil Kumble not on the list? He is/was the fastest Indian bowler? His quicker ones were lethal...What about Tendulkar? I agree with several comments that Tendulkar has to be on every list. Someone also suggested that Waqar Younis took lower order wickets. Now that is utter non sense. Waqar Younis was lethal against all teams and had a better strike rate than Wasim. Actually Wasim Akram was successful because of Waqar Younis...Imran Khan is/Was the greatest Pakistani fast bowler as he defined the art of fast bowling..But after Imran, it is Waqar Younis. Wasim Akram was a contoversial character who owers his success to Waqar and Imran...Waqar Younis along with Malcom Marshall and Dale Steyn has the best strike rate for any bowler. He also was lethal everywhere he played the cricket. Just ask Tendulya whose nose was broken in Sialkot in 1989!

  • harshthakor on June 11, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    Finally if I had to pick a foursome pace attack I would like to combine all the assets needed,be it swing,accuracy,pace and control.My selection would be Marshall for his pace ,agression and skill,Wasim Akram for his versatality and being a left-arm bowler,Glen Mcgrath for his outstanding control and bowling in the corridor and Joel Garner for his phenomenal accuracy.Garner was simply the most relentless paceman of all.Marshall just edges Lillee,Mcgrath edges Hadlee while Garner edges Ambrose.Akram to me had no rival.

    Glen Mcgrath was arguably the best paceman of the modern era as he posessed every component be it pace ,swing,variations and control,even if Akram was more talented.Remember Tendulkar rated him the best he had faced.

    As a performer Imran is almost the equal of Lillee and Marshall as in his peak yaers from 1980-1988 he overshadowed Marshall and Hadlee,in average and strike rate.

    The ultimate conflict is whether you consider performance or bowling skill.

  • on June 11, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    Seen tapes, read books and watched many of the pacemen for 50+ years. However, am not an authority on anything. My choice for best ever though would be Maco (Marshall) followed by Lillee. But there is a measure of greatness in all of them, some more so than others. Yes, keep in mind this is Mallet's list. In addition to comparing statistics, one of the best ways to determine a player's greatness is to seek opposing players' views wherever applicable. Bias aside, my fellow countryman Maco is numero uno for yours truly.

  • Dubious on June 11, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    Also love how people who never watched Lindwall and Davidson are telling somebody who did (and also watched Holding/Garner/McGrath etc) that they were just no good. Must have all been an illusion to Mallett. Also love how people reckon that Lindwall and Davidson have bowler friendly wickets to thank for their wonderful records (Garner and Holding didn't benefit from those did they? Never). But when batting records from the period are discussed suddenly they can be dismissed because apparently the wickets were insipid. Subcontinental pitches are hardly known to favour pace (especially back in the day) and Davidson took 44 wickets at 17.86 in the subcontinent (including his best bowling of 12/124 in India). So which is it? Why did Davidson average 20 with the ball and contemporaries Griffith near 30 and Wes Hall 26?

  • harshthakor on June 11, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    cricsom5667 -You have made an impressive selection but in your criteria of performances on slower pitches you have missed out on Andy Roberts and Imran Khan .Remember Andy Robert's 32 wickets in India in 1974-75 when he solely spearheaded the pace attack and Imran's 40 wickets against India in the 1982-83 series in Pakistan.Imran is the best performer as a paceman on the sub-continent.

    Dennis Lillee rated Andy Roberts as the best paceman of his era.Roberts possessed an outswinger,an offcutter and 2 bouncers and the likes of Gavaskar and the Chappell brothers rated him the best they had ever faced.However overall Roberts was more versatile.-who could swing a120 over old ball.

    For control Hadlee and Mcgrath were the best of all paceman ,with phenomenal stats to back them.In a cricinfo stats analysis of 2009 Hadlee is rated at the top,having better match performances than Lillee or Marshall.Overall for no 1 it is a photo finish between Lille and Marshall.

  • lovepork on June 11, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    Imad Khalid -- Shoiab Akhter???? what about Mcgrath, Holding, Hadlee, Garner?? Shoiab will top the list as the most controversial chracter for sure!

  • Arun14 on June 11, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    What, no Tendulkar ??!! That's a shame.

  • on June 11, 2012, 1:53 GMT

    Yeah this list seems a bit one sided. Curtly Ambrose, Micheal Holding, Glenn McGrath? Donald? Fred Truman?. . . I think Ashley is a bit biased here.

  • hyclass on June 11, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    @Stark62...any attempt to diminish Lillee is poorly judged. His career record is impressive enough. 70 Tests and 355 wickets at over 5 a Test. To this could be added 24 wickets against the '71/72 World XI and a further 67 wickets during the WSC Super Tests, taking him to a then unprecedented 446 Test wickets. Beyond this is the story of his determination to recover from what would usually have been a career ending back injury. By doing so,he helped develop a recovery plan for all fast bowlers afflicted by that trades most common complaint.There has also been some talk that he wasnt fast. In 1975,the University of WA measured his speed at 154.8 km/k.To a generation of Australians,the chant of,'Lillee,Lillee..'ringing around the great cricketing stadiums was a sign that all was well with the world. I can well imagine the crowds same affection for Bradman during his heyday. Like Bradman,Lillee inspired a generation of cricketing youth and is owed a debt of thanks.He remains untouchable.

  • balajik1968 on June 11, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    Guys, its Mallett's list so give it a rest. These five are just as worthy as everyone else who has been left out. As for Kapil Dev not being same as these, you should remember all the others had decent new ball support. The so called lone hand Hadlee had good support from Chatfield, whose nagging accuracy, just as much helped Hadlee get wickets. Kapil had Ghavri for about 2 years, and then a prolonged drought until Manoj Prabhakar came on the scene. He took more wickets in the subcontinent than out, though I have to say that his crawl from 401 to 434 was one of the most painful things to see. It took 2 years out of Srinath's career at a time when Sri was at his quickest.

  • vik56in on June 10, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    What about McGrath,Ambrose,Allan Donald,Dale Steyn,Fred Trueman,Michael Holding?

  • on June 10, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    Always fascinated by experts' reluctance to rate Hadlee as among the select despite his phenomenal record. And can't say it's because of lack of pace here because Davidson only classed fast medium by his contemps. Interesting also Mallett doesn't have him because his record in Aus was, of course, sensational. So what's the problem? Would love to know.

  • whatawicket on June 10, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    missing the greatest fast bowler of the lot mickey holding. was bowling as fast from his debut till he retired. did not have to slow down like most of the mentioned above

  • Emancipator007 on June 10, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    Folks, have given it a lot of thought and possible top 10 pace bowlers post WW-II era (including fast-medium types and in no particular order) with accomplished Test careers and not blitzy ones like Procter,Bond,Akthar: Marshall, Holding,Garner/Roberts (almost conjoined twins as Garner cannot be blamed for being a 3rd change bowler for Lloyd! And therefore could not boost his wickets tally),Akram,Imran,Hadlee,Lillee (am a bitter critic cos of his ONLY Ashes performances in a jet era but cannot deny his consummate skills as a paceman),Trueman,McGrath, Ambrose. Honorable mentions: Waqar,Donald, Thommo, Steyn (in 7 years' time, Steyn should displace Lillee from top 10 as Hadlee/McGrath greater than Lillee in my book) , Akthar ( a brutally express pace bowler badly managed by Pak cricket management in Tests as his awesome ODI records showcase),Walsh , younger Kapil & Botham (both world-class prodigious swing bowlers then). Any disputes with top 10 pick?

  • YogifromNY on June 10, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Ashley, you beauty! Another riveting article from you, sir. These five fast bowlers would be on anyone's top ten list, so nothing to quibble about there. Plus, it is your own "five best" list, and being one of the most informed observers of the game, your opinions have weight. For my top five list, I would probably put Glenn McGrath in there in place of Alan Davidson, but would not change the other four. Thank you for your writing, it gives much pleasure to so many.

  • on June 10, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    I think you missed Shoaib Akhter in this list.

  • on June 10, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    I would say you missed SHOAIB AKHTER in this List...

    His best spell was against australia when australian team was impossible to beat in a test match..

    The way he bowls on dead pitches. The Most awesome fast bowler uptill now is Shoaib akhter <3

  • on June 10, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    Pick my test cricket bowling attack - Akram, Warne, Murli, Holding, Marshall. ODI / T20 - Akram, Malinga, Warne, Garner, McGrath Of course, to make it a battle royale, I would have the opposition boasting of a line up that read - Sehwag, Gilchrist, Gayle, Javed, Kevin Peiterson, Dhoni..... A year back, Sachin would have been a shoo-in. Today, having refused to retire after his body & game have both given way, Sachin has virtually announced that to him, Sachin Tendulkar is more important than his team OR the game. He has therefore disqualified himself. Dhoni finds his way there ahead of some possibly better batsmen thanks to his helicopter shot that helps him get runs against yorkers and an ability to stay calm & composed.

  • Stark62 on June 10, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    If your going to pick an Aussie, then at least pick McGrath because he was light years ahead of the rest of the Aussie quicks.

    Lille is overrated and if you believe me, then check out his record in Asia or the Windies.

    Also, where is Hadlee, Ambrose, Donald or Waqar?

  • on June 10, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Lot of fans seem to forget that this list is for EXTREME PACE + ABILITY TO MOVE BALL. Marshall, Lillee and Akram are no brainer. Hadlee was never express same with Mcgrath. Donald and Ambrose never swung or reversed but they didnt need to !! Waqar could make ball talk and generate pace but he took a lot of lower order wickets and didnt get enough openers out especially in Australia. Imran Khan was better than Waqar. I would add Fred Trueman to the list! Fred was fast, swung it, cut it and was lethal. He was better than Lindwall.

  • on June 10, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Marshall, Hadlee, Ambrose, McGrath and Trueman would be my top 5 pacers. That assuming Sydney Barnes is not classified as a pacer.

  • on June 10, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    Australian picking 3 Australian? only Lillee was great,How can Mallett pick Davidson and Lindwall over Holding and Garner.Holding and Garner both of them have better strike rate than Lindwall and Davidson.Lindwall and Davidson both bowled on pace bowler friendly wickets and limited number of batsmens, while Holding and Garner bowled on all kind of wickets and all batsmens.so my great 5 fast bowlers are Marshall ,lillee, Wasim, Holding, Garner

  • Engle on June 10, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    When one talks of greatness, then you have to step beyond the boundary and talk about their achievements in terms of their influence on their team, country, art, legacy. It is not enough to just be taking wickets at this average and that strike rate. The fast bowler who stands out at changing the psyche or a nation and galvanizing them to adopt a sustained, aggressive stance in their opening attack is none other than the great Imran Khan. He selected, tutored, mentored and left behind in his wake Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib and a plethora of fasties. Oh, and BTW, his record supersedes that of his greatest contemporaries - Lillee, Hadlee and Marshall in Tests they bowled against each other.

  • Dubious on June 10, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    Oh no HadleeCrowe, how dare Australian bowlers be picked. Who would have thought the most successful nation (by a fair margin) in the history of the game would have had a plethora of spectacular fast bowlers. Are you proposing some sort of quota for lists like this? Would only one All Black be allowed to make it onto a list of the best rugby players a New Zealander has ever seen?

  • on June 10, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    List seems to be fair as it does not hold bias in favor modern day fast bowlers. Except Akram, and Marshal I have not seen much of other three. Many comments here are written in favor of McGrath, Hadlee and Walsh. Though they were great, they do not qualify for the list because author's list purely consists of bowlers not only with great skill but also with great pace.

  • on June 10, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    I would add Jeff Thompson and Andy Roberts to the list

  • Stouffer on June 10, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    I guess we were lucky he only picked 3 Aussies! Why not add Dizzy and Rodney Hogg to the list?

  • on June 10, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    Why there is no Sachin in the list? He bowled India to wicket in Hero cup semi final against SA in 1993? in Why no Indians in the list? Vinay Kumar and PK are tremendous swing bowlers, so too Ishanth Sharma. Did you forgot that 12 over spell in Sydney? LOL

  • Mad_Hamish on June 10, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    As far as some of the other names mentioned - Waqar averaged 40 in Australia so wouldn't have made that big an impression - Ambrose, while inspiring brown trouser time wasn't as complete a bowler as those mentioned - Donald - averaged 28 in Australia and 31 vs Australia. Didn't seem to win all that many of the big battles as far as Kapil and Srinath, just no, ditto Sarfraz. Kapil's stamina was amazing but he was nowhere near the top level of bowlers, nor were the others mentioned. Botham started brilliantly but his lack of self-discipline and lack of self awareness meant that his bowling faded badly.

  • Mad_Hamish on June 10, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    There are obviously a lot of names that come into contention but I find it hard to see why people are so dismissive about Lindwall and Davidson (a bowling average of 20.53 suggests he can't have been too bad). As far as Lillee refusing to tour other countries, that's pretty much rubbish. He didn't play many matches outside Australia and England because Australia didn't play too many matches outside Australia and England at the time. He left a tour of the Windies when he had stress fractures in his back, I believe the only tour of India scheduled in his career was when he was banned due to WSC (he also missed a tour of the windies for the same reason), he missed a tour of Pakistan when he was having knee surgery. It's not a case of him picking and choosing tours.

  • Praxis on June 10, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    Sad thing is other than Steyn there's is no fast bowler playing regularly now seems to be able to reach the level of these great quicks. The time I seriously started watching cricket there were Wasim, Waqar, Donald, McGarth, Ambrose, Walsh & later some very good bowlers like Shoaib, Bond, Lee, Gillespie, Fleming, Harmison. There has been a serious decline in quality fast blowing in last 10 years or so. But now some interesting quicks are coming up too. Let's hope for the best.

  • HadleeCrowe on June 10, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    An austalian to pick an all time fast bowling 5 and what's he gonna come up with???? any surprises to anyone outside ausrtalia ???? Anyone anywhere surprised??? I'm not from the sub-continent btw

  • vallavarayar on June 10, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    I think Venkatesh Prasad should be somewhere in there. He bowled such wonderful slow balls... ;)

  • mikeyp147 on June 10, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    Why isn't Sachin Tendulkar in this list? What an appalling anti-Indian bias.

    I was lucky enough to have a night out with a group of county cricketers a few years ago - some of them ex and future internationals - obviously the first question anyone would ask is 'who is the fastest bowler you ever faced?' and ALL of them said Wasim in his pomp. Not only did he have complete mastery of swing and seam, but he was also lethally quick.

  • maddy20 on June 10, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    This is laughable! Lindwall ahead of Joel Garner, Walsh, Ambrose ? This is a joke right? Back then scoring was a lot harder as evident from the statistics and an average of 23 is mediocre at best. Remember those were the times when batsmen batted without protective gear and bowlers had a psychological edge! Lillee to does not come close to the likes of Garner! Yes he was a good bowler but not great. Jeff Thompson would have been a better choice if the author of this article was so desperate to include some Aussies!

  • sherishahmir on June 10, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Apart from all above in the article and comments, waqar, allan donald, shoaib akhtar and Bret Lee should also be considered among the past greats.

  • cricsom5667 on June 10, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    I have been watching cricket since mid seventies and when you talk about quicks, it has to be about "perceived menace" - a combination of their lethality, bowling skill and their hunting instincts as mentioned by Ashley irrespective of the type of pitch i.e. every legal delivery can either conjure a wicket or injure a batsman - and purely on this criteria I would rank them as follows -1. Malcolm Marshall 2.Wasim Akram 3.Dennis Lillee (1970-72) version 4.Michael Holding 5.Colin Croft. IMHO, lot of eminent bowlers who might have better statistics and arguably better skills like Steyn, Donald, Waqar, Ambrose, Garner, Roberts, Hadlee etc., but did not display consistently the "menace" factor on slower pitches. But again this is my opinion - everyone has his favourites. A request to a fellow avid cricket fan Mr. Kiwirocker-I have been following your posts for quite sometime-your comments are insightful until the point you get into Tendulkar bashing.You can accuse me of bias as i am Indian.

  • on June 10, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    From my own point of view I wouldn't have been too keen to face Joel Garner, Curtly Ambrose, Mike Procter, John Snow or Richard Hadlee in their pomp.

  • on June 10, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    You are a serious legend Ashley Mallett. Such a pity that I didn't see it you when you were bowling off-spin for Australia. I was too young to appreciate the art and nuances of your craft. So glad you have played a part in A Mendis' development. Such fine and astute cricket writing is precious - especially since the loss of Roebuck. Vale Mallett!!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 10, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Gee!!!! No Richard Hadlee? That's such a shame!

  • on June 10, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    Marshall, Lillee, Hadlee, Thomson, Ambrose

  • on June 10, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    i cant comment on people i did not see bowling but with the decent knowledge i have about cricket, i feel wasim, marshall and lillee deserve to be there...not only because they were great, they were also very successful for a long period of time hence statistically good too.

    apart from them, waqar and steyn can also find a mention purely on the basis of their skills and consistency which is at par with the best sometimes even better...

  • harshthakor on June 10, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    In terms of pure bowling skill Lindwall may have overshadowed Lillee with his action and his swing.However where Lillee stands out was his agression and his outstanding match-performances.Lillee and Marshall poessed equal hostility and agression.Marshall had more skill than any paceman as he had mastery of bowling bio-mechanics ass no -one else.Wasim Akram could bowl 6 different deliveries in an over.No paceman ever swung the ball as much or obtained as much movement on slow ,batting tracksas Wasim Akram.What gave Imran the edge again was his greater agression.In term s of accuracy Curtly Ambrose was the king of his era and the champion match-winner in the 4th innings.

    What brings Hadlee and Imran in the top 5 is the brunt of the pace attack they carried and their outstanding performances,in terms of average and strike rate.Imran at his best made a greater impact in Pakistan's great victories than Wasim Akram,be it in Australia,England and West Indies.

  • harshthakor on June 10, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    In terms of skill my top 5 in order are Marshall,Akram,Lillee,Lindwall and Andy Roberts.However in performance my list in order would be Lillee,Marshall,Hadlee,Imran and Mcgrath.Lillee was the ultimate competitor and had the best match-peformances .Marshall was more lethal than any paceman ever,with a better strike rate and average than any bowler of his era.Hadlee bore the brunt of a weak bowling attack and yet was statistically the best paceman of all,capturing 5 wickets per test with 36 -5 wkt.hauls.As a match-winner I place Imran Khan at the top,who in his peak years was the best paceman in the world.Imran was the best paceman against the mighty West Indians.In the more recent past Glen Mcgrath was the ultimate metronome with outstanding figures of 563 wickets at 21.63.The best match-winning paceman of the modern era was Curtly Ambrose.In terms of bowling action and consistency of pace Michael Holding was the ultimate king.

  • on June 10, 2012, 12:12 GMT

    I've gotta love some of the suggestions? Bresnan? Sami? Kumar? is this a joke?

    Trying to list the "best 5" is futile - there will be out and out legends such as McGrath, Imran, Waqar, Ambrose, Hadlee (and i am only youngish) who miss out.

    Personally i can only name those i have seen or at least heard of in detail - since 1990 i'd have to say that Ambrose and McGrath stand head and shoulders above, with Flintoff getting an honourable mention for some crazy good performances, but not consistent over long enough to be the best. Never understood the fuss about Akram or Donald, but those two plus either Waqar or Walsh would have to round out the top 5 (note - i have disregarded hadlee, botham, marshall and imran who all played in that period but only at the tail end of their careers).

  • harshthakor on June 10, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    In terms of pure bowling skill Mallet has picked 4 of the best paceman of all time.Marshall,Akram, Lillee and Lindwall posessed more skill than any paceman ever.Marshall had a repertoire of deliveries no paceman had like his skidding bouncer and ball that doubled it's speed after impact.Wasim Akram was the most versatile paceman and best left arm paceman of all.e Lillee and Lindwall were the most complete in the orthodox,classical sense .However I feel Wasim's selection was justified as it included one great left arm quick bowler but instead of Alan Davidson I would have chosen Andy Roberts.No bowler bowled as much like Lillee as Andy,who was more versatile than any Carribean paceman .Gavaskar ,and the Chappell brothers rate Roberts the best paceman they faced,and Lillee also rated him at the top.

    In pure performance I would have rated Lillee and Marshall at the top followed by Hadlee,Imran Khan and Glen Mcgrath.Imran was a better match-winner than Wasim Akram.

  • on June 10, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    NO MICHAEL HOLDING OR IMRAN KHAN! I ONLY LIKE DENNIS LILEE IN THT!

  • on June 10, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Seems a decent list to me. The only one I question is Davidson. What about Hadlee, Trueman. Pollock, Lindwall, Gibbs, Holding, Imran ? All seem to heave better credentials than Davidson, and that's the first 7 I can think of.

  • smalishah84 on June 10, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    oh come on.....it is the 5 bowlers that Ashley thinks are the best........it is HIS list.....the point seems lost on most people

  • hyclass on June 10, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Far more interesting than the names that appear,are the methods by which skills were passed on. Johnson passed on the different grips and tactics to Lindwall while bowling. Both these players have fabulous records and Johnson could have been mentioned just as easily as Davo. I recall reading that Lindwall had lost some zip and outswing. He believed that his front arm had dropped at delivery and set up a shoulder stretch spring in his garage that would work his shoulder and arm when pulled on.He practised constantly. When he returned,his arm was up along with his pace and swing.Its worth reading Headley Verity's profile on here for similar stories.There's an old world toughness to these people that is patently absent in the modern coaching system and in many areas of modern life. I remain unconvinced that it has done anyone any good. Greatness is so often the long pathway of selflessness and inner strength. This article rightly mentions Marshall but all the greats have it to some degree

  • hyclass on June 10, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    This article is written by a former Test cricketer regarding the best 5 pacemen he has seen. It is not intended to be an indisputable statement of cricket fact. Every name could be replaced with an equally meritorious one and the list would still be valid.A list that stretched to 20 pacemen would still brook debate. With due respect @DEV-MCT, Larwoods Test record was too brief to qualify him,despite his extreme pace and accuracy,though Lindwall claimed his bowling action as his own inspiration and Peter Pollocks was very reminiscent. Lindwall also played during the 55 over new ball rule which must have been an advantage,but he was undoubtedly a master bowler.I watched Akram decimate Australia in the early 90's,taking 6 for 77. His bowling was so unplayable that I rate Taylors 52 in the first innings as the best defensive knock I've seen. He went on to an unbeaten 100 in the second,when Akram was injured. I still rate the pairing of Akram and Younis as the most lethal I've seen.

  • KiwiRocker- on June 10, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    I respect author's choice, and it is obviousy based on who he played against, with or whom he has seen. There is no doubt about four picks but I question Alan Davidson as a choice. I have often struggled to understand that why Wasim Akram is also rated as higher as compared to Imran Khan and Waqar Younis. No one has ever swung cricket bowl as Waqar Younis did. Waqar had a magical banan bowl that no batsman in world could play. Waqar Younis had an astonishing strike rate in test matches and ODI's. If stats are anything to go by then Waqar belowngs right up there. Similarly, Imran Khan was a true match winner. He bowled against very tough real batsmen ( not like the so called walls and Gods now a days) and Imran won most battles. Furthermore, Richard Hedlee and Steyn also deserve a mention. As far as magical moment is concerned, it would have been seeing how Tendulya fares against Wasim and Waqar but he opposed ties with Pak in 90's to ensure that he does not play against them!

  • Vkarthik on June 10, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    I suppose Ashley Mallet hasn't seen enough of modern day legends like Vinay Kumar, Praveen kumar, Mohammad Sami.

  • urprashant on June 10, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    Ashley Mallet should be aware of the fact that he is giving his opinion on World's best fast bowlers and not on Australia's best fast bowlers!!!!No list of fast bowling is complete without Curtly Ambrose and Richard Hadlee..

  • ShAh00 on June 10, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    Alot of people speaking about biasness, we should not forget the article starts with the line "Ray Lindwall heads my list of the five best fast bowlers I have seen." Put your attention on the word "MY LIST" and enjoy the article :)) and as he wrote, AKRAM & WARNE bowling in pair, it just struck through my mind that if I have to Pick my bowling Line up for the test what would I choose. So here is my List 1. Wasim Akram 2. Curtly Ambrose 3. Richar Hadlee (All Rounder) 4. Saqlain Mushtaq 5. Shane Warne (I will replace Saqlain on seam friendly pitches with Allan Donald)

  • MrPontingToYou on June 10, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    So many to choose from, and i have only been watching cricket since the mid 70's. but without out any doubt Hadlee MUST be on that list. others who have a case... Mcgrath, Imran Khan and Ambrose.

  • PureTom on June 10, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Regardless of whose "fault" it is we are very unlikely to see a regular 4-pronged pace attack (or even an irregular one) due to the issue of over rates. Whatever the reasons I don't think a single current, international team could keep up 15 overs an hour for 2 innings with 4 express pace bowlers (possibly early season in England when it's nice and cold?)

  • PunchDrunkPunter on June 10, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    No Ambrose? No Hadlee? No McGrath? No Anderson? No Bresnan? Bad list.

  • BellCurve on June 10, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    The two controversial selections are Davidson and Lindwall. They are both Australians and they both played in the 1950s. Once again Ashley Mallett fails to put aside national and historical sentiments. If a panel of cricket experts are each asked to produce a list of their top 10 fast bowlers of all time, very few would include Davidson and Lindwall.

  • eZoha on June 10, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    Not sure if it was Steve Bucknor or David Shepherd, but one of them quoted that standing at the non-striker's end, the most fascinating thing in cricket for him is watching Wasim Akram bowling to Sachin Tendulkar. It was 12-13 years ago. I completely agreed.

  • Emancipator007 on June 10, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    Reminisce a LOT about Marshall (wish he had lived longer),Holding,Garner,Hadlee,Akram,Waqar,Akthar even now and replay images of these bowlers often while lazing around. As a teen, also keenly followed "swing specialist" Terry Alderman's career (and also McDermott) quite keenly and was awed that he took 40 plus wickets in 2 tours spaced 8 years apart in England in '80s.Read reports that "magician" Akram was zipping, swinging the ball around, bowling yorkers at some pace (at 45!) at the Kolkata Knight Riders's nets sessions. Some magic skills don't wither with age at all. Still rooting for a 4-pronged pace attack from WI again:Roach,Taylor,Edwards,Lawson. Though I daresay, OZ might do so soon with Pattinson,Cummins,Siddle,Harris/Johnson (all capable of touching 90 mph).Morkel,Steyn,deLange,Philander does not make for too bad a 4-pronged pace attack either (though Philander is fast-medium). Just LOVE the art, craft and sight of pace bowling.

  • on June 10, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    I see some people talking about an Aussie bias - then how come Glen McGrath / Geoff Thomson are missing ? Given the choice, I would probably pick Imran / Waqar / Srinath / Kapil ahead of some of the Australians primarily because the Australian quicks have had the advantage of green tops at Perth / Brisbane whereas the Indian / Pakistanis have plied their trade on fast-bowler unfriendly sub-continental pitches with a more than fair measure of success. Far as I am concerned, Dale Steyn / Morne Morkel are also on the way there.

  • rgrokkam1 on June 10, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    Spot on SyedAbidHussain. It's the author's choices. Pretty tough to select 5 bowlers from the many great and wonderful performers.

  • DEV_ME on June 10, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    I have read many a reviews and articles on 'best' fast bowlers of all times ...... I wonder ... is it really so easy to distinguish and separate 5 bowlers from a pack made of : Hadlee, Sarfraz, Imran, Ambrose, Walsh, Marshall, Kapil, Alan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Botham, snow, and so many ......

    Funny part ... I have never seen anyone mention 'Harold Larwood' - Isnt he the one who used his trade to the maximum effect with unbeleivable accuracy .. ? Albeit for the wrong captain (maybe) .... but he sure deserves a name amongst the top guys ...

  • SyedAbidHussain on June 10, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    People !! Stop commenting about the author's choices. It is his personal favourites list. There is no way we can pick just 5 or 11 all-time greatest bowlers from a period of 120+ years of test cricket. The author has the right to choose his personal favourites just like you and me.

  • smudgeon on June 10, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    People, please - this is Ashley's opinion on the best HE has SEEN. Any Australian "bias" is probably more to do with the fact that you tend to see more of your own countrymen play more often than you do players from other countries - particularly in the days before youtube, mass TV coverage, etc. If Kapil Dev or Michael Holding were picking similar lists, you can guarantee they would pick more Indian or West Indian players. It's obvious he holds both Akram and Marshall in the highest esteem (also two of my favourite bowlers), and to suggest Lindwall is only there because he's Australian is doing a fine player a big disservice. Nothing wrong with debating the list, but trying to undermine Ashley's picks with claims of bias is a bit unfair - it's opinion, not the definitive list.

  • blackie on June 10, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    I agree that a list of 5 leaves out some really great quicks. That said, there would still be some complaints if the list was 10 or 20 because that would leave out some very good ones too. If I were the writer my list would HAVE to be at least 7 so i could include Richard Hadlee and Glen McGrath!!

  • Emancipator007 on June 10, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    3.quick with reverse swing from 1980 uptill his titanic tussle with Richards' team in WI in '88 which Pak drew. Waqar (one of my favs) and Shoaib in full flight steaming in were a sight made for the gods as also Donald even though he made his Test debut late. Bond is one of the unluckiest to have just 18 Tests as he was a 300 wickets bowler if his brittle body had held up. Wish Tait had a stronger resolve as his pace was DEMON akin to Patterson in late '80s. Steyn with his searing hostility and penetrativeness has already joined the ranks of the greats. There will be none like Macko and Wasim though -as complete as they come. Amir had the skills and talent but now one never knows.

  • Emancipator007 on June 10, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    2.The "complete" bowler in this list was G.Chappell's bowling counterpart, an Ashes specialist and refused to tour other countries. A famous quip made by a player (forget whom now) " How many wickets outside of Eng/OZ has Lillee taken out of his 350 odd - grand total of 28!". He no doubt had all the skills but only on pacy decks of OZ (which OZ had during his era);which legit fast bowler won't succeed in Eng which he did. If the criterion is lowered to fast-medium,I rate McGrath a greater bowler than Lillee simply cos McGrath LOVED challenges of bowling in subcontinent (India,Pak SL)and kept coming back to take on Indian superstar bats successfully and succeeded elsewhere too. I absolutely LOVED Hadlee's varied skills (6 diff deliveries in an over) too and watched EVERY ball bowled by him transfixed as a teenager during his '88 tour of India. Imran, that most driven cricketer,raised his game from medium-fast to express pace with sheer work ethics, drills,practice and was devastating

  • Emancipator007 on June 10, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    1.Will comment only on those I have seen and this is my pet topic as I can still bowl at 75 mph (was much faster as a teenager). Wasim INDISPUTABLY is the most talented natural (meaning needing no net drills or coached skills development, the type who can are gifted to bowl fast with seam and swing) fast bowler of all time. Marshall took time to develop and then become the most devastating cos of the skidiness of his pace and bounce and his cussed ambition to be the best. Holding in his prime was a demon fast bowler capable of killing/maiming a batsman at will -which he did at Sabina Park in 1976 from round-the-wicket when India lost a match by losing just 11 wickets as cowardly skip Bedi did not want his lower-order bats to face Holding and that beast Wayne Daniel. This was REAL Bodyline, not the one mythologized in the TV series as B. Patel,Gaekwad landed in hospital. Roberts always seemed to be toying with bats in the '70s about his rearing-at-the-face extreme fast bouncer.

  • Hyderabadi_Nawab on June 10, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    Here's my top 5 from those I have seen in action- 1. Imran Khan - sheer presence and that magical ball bowled wide of the crease that starts angled in and then pitches and leaves the right hander 2. Michael Holding - just look at him run in and there is no better sight in world cricket 3. Malcolm Marshall - destroyer par excellence of many a famed batting lineup, moved the ball both ways in the air and also off the seam 4. Wasim Akram - truly the most versatile of all fast bowlers (ball curling into the right hander bowled from over the wicket produced at will) and 5. Curtly Ambrose - the Mr.Scrroge of modern day fast bowlers, if ever runs conceded were the criterion this man towers above the rest in an era where batsmen started to dominate.

  • getsetgopk on June 10, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    There are quite a few who didn't make Ash's list but it is his list so no issues. Bowlers like Garner, Holding and Waqar. Waqar in particular took the pitch and conditions out of the equation like wasim. He mostly played on dead sub continental wickets that offer very little if nothing to fast bowlers. Waqar was an attacking fast bowler in the true sense of the word. He used to target the stumps unlike other great Aussie and WI fast bowlers who relied on bounce that pitches offered in those countries. Most of his wickets were either bowled or LBW, very few if any can match that, the in swinging yorkers that he used to bowl and lightening pace and very late movement famously earned him the title 'toe crusher', never seen anyone deliver such lethal yorkers with such accuracy, speed and consistency, 373 wickets at around 23 in test cricket, one of my all time great fast bowler.

  • jonesy2 on June 10, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    cant really dispute it but there are just far too many you cant pick 5 unless you really narrow down the criteria.

  • S.Jagernath on June 10, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Malcolm Marshall is probably the greatest of all fast bowlers from the statistic & skill point of view.An average of 20.94 & a Strike rate of just 46 is amazing.A quality fast bowler will always be exciting in any era,unfortunately we have just 1 real high quality bowler with real pace in Dale Steyn.A quartet comprising Marshall,Akram,McGrath & Lindwall would truly be a sight to see,the batting to handle that attack would have to comprise Sutcliffe,Gavaskar,Dravid,Tendulkar,Hammond & Bradman.

  • rett on June 10, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Once again a great analysis of five truly superb fast bowlers. I had the pleasure of talking with Alan Davidson about 15 years ago. He talked about pressuring batsmen with control, and to emphasise his point, began to punch me in the torso! Great character and serious student of the game. He rated Akram with the very best also.

  • on June 10, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Wasim and Warn bowling in tandem...........nothing beats it.......men with greatest variations..........cricketing phenomena

  • Nadeem1976 on June 10, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Lillee was super aggressive, looked like jumbo jet. Marshal was lethal, some time unplayable. Akram was just magician and genius. Before 1999 WC final Akram was my favorite cricketer of all time but he failed in that final which started australian 9 years long dominance in cricket world, i don't know why he failed , it still hurt even today. Now Sachin is my favorite cricketer of all time.

  • on June 10, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    MD Marshall came to India/Sri Lanka first time in 1978 as a baby all-rounder. I can still remember, his WI team played one of tour match at CCC Colombo where Anura Tennakoon scored century against visitors, where I was at the ground. When MDM came again in 1983 to tour India what a devastating bowler he was?. His highest score(88) too came in that tour at Kanpur where Gordon Greenidge scored 194 in same match. What tragic loss to Cricketing world, his untimely death, such a beautiful human and a gentleman cricketer. We all love you MDM.

  • Lex39 on June 10, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    I'm afraid that I cannot agree with the selections made by Asley Cooper as he seems to convey the impression that the best fast bowlers of all time were Australians. Has he forgotten the man from across the Tasman, who bowled a virtual lone hand for his team and still managed over 400 wickets in test cricket? There was no better exponent of guile and pace than Sir Richard. Has he forgotten Fred Trueman, Andy Roberts, Kapel Dev et al? Methinks that Ashley forgets that the wickets taken by Lindwall, Lillee, and Davidson were taken at times when the other bowlers in their teams were setting up the batsmen. Only Marshall can claim the support of others who were as good as he was. I do agree that all five were exceptional bowlers from their times and as it is purely one man's opinion, we can forgive his lack of impartiality.

  • Percy_Fender on June 10, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    It is surprising to see that the greatest fast bowler of all time has been included merely as a post script. In my mind, there has never been a greater fast bowler than Malcolm Marshall. he was what a real fast bowler should aim at becoming. I am disappointed that the author has such a noticeable Australian bias. While it is true that Lindwall,Davidson and Lillee were great fast bowlers, I think there were/are others who merit a mention.Richard Hadlee,Alan Donald and Waqar Younis were brillinat and perhaps as good as the ones included here.

  • on June 10, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    If there is a pace bowling god in cricket - Marshall would be his right arm, Akram would be his left! Enough said! :)

  • Burbon on June 10, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    I am thankful that this is your list of best 5 fast bowlers.It''s as ridiculous as richie Benaud's all time eleven.

  • on June 10, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    Good Article Mr.Mallet,But you could have considered the likes of Waqar,Ambrose,Glenn and Donald too here.5 great fast bowlers is a bit too short a list.

  • on June 10, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    I see an Aussie bias in the selection...not that they are not good bowlers but 3 in all time 5...a bit too many

  • smudgeon on June 10, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    imagine having a squad to pick from baced on Ashley's top 5s! this is the great thing about cricket - there are so many excellent players who have graced the game, the debate about "best ever" is never ending. i'd happily take any of these 5 bowlers for my team any day. but Akram and Ambrose are two that i would pick first before anyone else.

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  • smudgeon on June 10, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    imagine having a squad to pick from baced on Ashley's top 5s! this is the great thing about cricket - there are so many excellent players who have graced the game, the debate about "best ever" is never ending. i'd happily take any of these 5 bowlers for my team any day. but Akram and Ambrose are two that i would pick first before anyone else.

  • on June 10, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    I see an Aussie bias in the selection...not that they are not good bowlers but 3 in all time 5...a bit too many

  • on June 10, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    Good Article Mr.Mallet,But you could have considered the likes of Waqar,Ambrose,Glenn and Donald too here.5 great fast bowlers is a bit too short a list.

  • Burbon on June 10, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    I am thankful that this is your list of best 5 fast bowlers.It''s as ridiculous as richie Benaud's all time eleven.

  • on June 10, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    If there is a pace bowling god in cricket - Marshall would be his right arm, Akram would be his left! Enough said! :)

  • Percy_Fender on June 10, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    It is surprising to see that the greatest fast bowler of all time has been included merely as a post script. In my mind, there has never been a greater fast bowler than Malcolm Marshall. he was what a real fast bowler should aim at becoming. I am disappointed that the author has such a noticeable Australian bias. While it is true that Lindwall,Davidson and Lillee were great fast bowlers, I think there were/are others who merit a mention.Richard Hadlee,Alan Donald and Waqar Younis were brillinat and perhaps as good as the ones included here.

  • Lex39 on June 10, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    I'm afraid that I cannot agree with the selections made by Asley Cooper as he seems to convey the impression that the best fast bowlers of all time were Australians. Has he forgotten the man from across the Tasman, who bowled a virtual lone hand for his team and still managed over 400 wickets in test cricket? There was no better exponent of guile and pace than Sir Richard. Has he forgotten Fred Trueman, Andy Roberts, Kapel Dev et al? Methinks that Ashley forgets that the wickets taken by Lindwall, Lillee, and Davidson were taken at times when the other bowlers in their teams were setting up the batsmen. Only Marshall can claim the support of others who were as good as he was. I do agree that all five were exceptional bowlers from their times and as it is purely one man's opinion, we can forgive his lack of impartiality.

  • on June 10, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    MD Marshall came to India/Sri Lanka first time in 1978 as a baby all-rounder. I can still remember, his WI team played one of tour match at CCC Colombo where Anura Tennakoon scored century against visitors, where I was at the ground. When MDM came again in 1983 to tour India what a devastating bowler he was?. His highest score(88) too came in that tour at Kanpur where Gordon Greenidge scored 194 in same match. What tragic loss to Cricketing world, his untimely death, such a beautiful human and a gentleman cricketer. We all love you MDM.

  • Nadeem1976 on June 10, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Lillee was super aggressive, looked like jumbo jet. Marshal was lethal, some time unplayable. Akram was just magician and genius. Before 1999 WC final Akram was my favorite cricketer of all time but he failed in that final which started australian 9 years long dominance in cricket world, i don't know why he failed , it still hurt even today. Now Sachin is my favorite cricketer of all time.

  • on June 10, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Wasim and Warn bowling in tandem...........nothing beats it.......men with greatest variations..........cricketing phenomena