Top 16 Best Bowlers in the World of All Time with Career Stats and Best Performances

The art of bowling encompasses more than just action in cricket, it imbibes the sheer passion of challenging the opponent at the crease and luring him to play shots, while the challenger picks up his wicket. This art has been performed exceptionally well by a set of maestros over the last few decades. The best cricket bowlers of all time, we call them. Some of them were once recognized as the ‘best bowler in the world’, while others built such careers that today they feature in the list of top 15 best bowlers of all time. So, without taking any more of your time, here’s a list of the best bowlers in the world with career statistics and best performances.

Table of contents

Top 16 Best Bowlers in the World

S. No.Best Bowlers in the WorldTeams
1.Muttiah MuralitharanSri Lanka
2.Shane WarneAustralia
3.Glenn McGrathAustralia
4.Wasim AkramPakistan
5.Anil KumbleIndia
6.Sir Richard HadleeNew Zealand
7.Malcolm MarshallWest Indies
8.Dennis LilleeAustralia
9.Shaun PollockSouth Africa
10.Waqar YounisPakistan
11.Chaminda VaasSri Lanka
12.Sydney BarnesEngland
13.Brett LeeAustralia
14.Dale SteynSouth Africa
15.Curtly AmbroseWest Indies
16.Lasith MalingaSri-Lanka

Before you go through the list below, we’d like to explain the factors taken into consideration to rank the top 15 best bowlers of all time. The criteria follow – Matches and Innings played, Balls bowled and Runs conceded, Wickets taken, Best Bowling performance in ODI & Test, and lastly, Average, Economy, and Strike Rate. Also, to make things easier for you, we’ve internally linked players with their bowling profiles, so if you click on a player’s name appearing on the list above, you’ll be directly taken to that player’s bowling profile. Happy reading!

best bowlers of all time
best bowlers of all time.
Image by God of Small Thing

16. Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga was undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s pin-up boy with his bleached hair, tattoos, pierced eyebrows, and star-like flamboyance. When you have the skill set to support it, it helps, and Malinga had plenty of that. A lot of toes have been broken and a place has been made for itself in the annals of world cricket thanks to the ball kiss before each delivery, that bizarre sling as he bowled, and the curl the ball took at 145kph. Malinga thrived far beyond his shadow to emerge in what turned out to be Sri Lankan cricket’s golden era in the late 2000s and early 2010s in a country where pitches were simply a prettier term for rank turners and a giant by the name of Muttiah Muralitharan operated.

Malinga began playing cricket on the beach, just like many other children in Sri Lanka. You are sure to stand out when you perform an action as unusual as his, where the ball is launched practically parallel to the surface rather than the usual perpendicular. Champaka Ramanayake, a former Sri Lankan pacer, noticed the youngster with the tennis ball on the Galle beaches who was already well-known in his community. Out-of-the-box training strategies were necessary for an unconventional action. Malinga spent hours hitting a pair of boots that Ramanayake had glued to the crease, honing his renowned yorker in the process.

Lasith Malinga Career Stats – 2004-2020

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Lasith Malinga Records & Achievements

  • First bowler to take 100 T20I wickets.
  • First bowler to take 100 wickets in across all three formats of international cricket (Tests, ODIs and T20Is).
  • The first and, to date, only bowler to take three hat-tricks in One-Day International cricket.
  • He holds the best bowling figures by any bowler in the men’s edition of the Australia’s Big Bash T20 league. 6/7 for Melbourne Stars against Perth Scorchers.

Watch Lasith Malinga‘s Best Performances

Lasith Malinga's four-ball 4-wicket hat-trick

15. Curtly Ambrose

Best Cricket Bowlers Curtly Ambrose
Curtly Ambrose

Once regarded as the best bowler globally, West Indies star right-arm fast pacer Curtly Ambrose sparked off his brilliant career in 1988. It was the year when Pakistan toured the Caribbean nation. While Wisden noted Ambrose’s start as ‘unimpressive’, in the years to come he not only changed perceptions but led like a bowling maestro to dominate even the best of the batsmen in those times. Ambrose’s amazing height of 6 feet 7 inches favored him to overpower batsmen with unusual bouncers delivered at a tremendous pace. He outshone his compatriots when in the year 1992, he was named among the Wisden Cricketers of the year. Post his retirement, Ambrose was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame and his name is also remembered while counting down the West Indies’ all-time XI.

Best known for his Test bowling, Ambrose averaged a rare spectacle of 20.99 in close to a hundred matches. He picked up over 400 wickets and recorded his best bowling performance against England in the year 1990. Ambrose is credited with twenty-two 5-wicket hauls and three 10-wicket hauls in his Test career. The most outstanding moment in Ambrose’s Test career arrived on January 30, 1993, when he produced an insane spell of 7 – 1 against Australia.

Ambrose’s first international match was in the One-day format. He replaced retired Joel Garner in his debut match in Kingston, Jamaica. Ending the innings with four for 39 from 10 overs, Ambrose established himself as a promising bowler. Throughout his ODI career, he maintained a satisfactory economy of 3.48. He played 176 matches and recorded his best bowling against Australia in the year 1998. In the ODI format, Ambrose is credited with six 4-wicket hauls and four 5-wicket hauls. A notable wicket-taker, Ambrose ruled in the era of the 90s and belonged to the golden period of West Indies cricket.

Curtly Ambrose Career Statistics – 1988-2000

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Watch Curtly Ambrose’s Best Performance

All Out For 46! | Curtly Ambrose Rips Through England! | From The Archive Windies vs England 1994

14. Dale Steyn

Best Cricket Bowlers Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn

Recognized among the best fast bowlers of all time, and arguably the best Test bowler of his generation, Dale Steyn of South Africa has drawn a niche for himself. Debuting against England in a Test tour in the year 2004, Steyn performed underwhelmingly. In fact, him bowling eight no-balls in nine overs in an innings led to his dropping out for the next few matches, right after he started playing for his national side. Nonetheless, Steyn’s determination and the will to always make a stirring comeback led him to become a pace bowler unlike anybody else.

During 2007-08, Steyn tallied 78 wickets at an average of 16.24 and his incredible performance helped him win the title of ICC Test Cricketer of the Year 2008. In ICC Test rankings, Steyn prevailed at the top spot for recording a wicket tally over 260, between 2008 to 2014. By the year 2018, Steyn became the leading wicket-taker in South Africa Test cricket history, surpassing the legacy of former Proteas captain Shaun Pollock. In 2019, he announced retirement from Test cricket to focus on limited-overs cricket. Later that year, he featured in Wisden Cricketers of the Decade, and in 2020, Steyn was included in the ICC Test Team of the Decade.

The reason Dale Steyn stands fourteenth among the top 15 best bowlers of all time is simply his ability to translate class performance into every format of cricket. In One-day internationals, Steyn averaged 25.95 with an economy of near 5. While he couldn’t fetch as many wickets in ODI as he did in the Test format, Steyn made sure to leave his mark in the one-day format as well. Steyn bested with 6 wickets for 39 runs in an ODI match against Pakistan in the year 2013. Steyn’s ODI performances supported his inclusion in the ICC ODI Teams of the year 2011 and 2014.

Dale Steyn Career Statistics – 2004-2020

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Dale Steyn Achievement

  • ICC Test Player of the Year: 2008
  • ICC Test Team of thke Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
  • ICC ODI Team of the Year: 2011, 2014
  • ICC Test Team of the Decade: 2011–2020
  • South African Cricketer of the Year: 2008
  • Wisden Cricketer of the Year: 2014
  • Wisden Leading Cricketer: 2013

Watch Dale Steyn’s Best Performance

Dale Steyn | Relive the Moment | The Culmination of 422 | SuperSport

Throughout the course of the article, we will ask you a few questions about cricket since you are definitely someone who likes cricket. So let’s start off with Cricket Trivia: Which Indian Player used to wear Jersey no 19? Well, if you don’t know and wish to know who was the legend, you can check out our article on 8 Most Iconic Jersey Numbers In Cricket History with their Astrological Connections. All the links in the article will open in New Tab so you don’t have to miss out on the article you came here for 🙂 (Because we care 🙂 )

13. Brett Lee

Best Cricket Bowlers Brett Lee
Brett Lee

In the ending years of the 1990s, Brett Lee was slowly climbing up the ladder to make it among the Aussie greats of the golden era. Captain Steve who had played with him at the domestic levels very well recognized the potential of the young pacer. From being named in the squad in a series to standing in as the twelfth man in a series against touring Indians, Lee kept waiting for his chance to shine. At last, in December 1999, right at the closing of the century, Lee received the debut opportunity for his national side. Soon, the world witnessed the rise of an enthralling right-arm fast bowler who could swing balls past even the greatest of the game.

Lee’s Test career highlighted high in spirit and class an ideal ambition for every aspiring fast bowler. Lee cemented his position in the permanent playing XI as an athletic fielder and a considerate lower-order batsman in Test cricket. In his Test career, he tallied a total of 310 wickets, bowling at an average of over 30 in less than eighty matches. Lee showed exceptional skill at bowling from the very start as was evident when he took wickets on his debut against India.

The thirteenth best bowler in the world to date, Lee fared better in the ODI format than in Test. He played over 200 matches and maintained an economy below 5 while picking up a total of 380 wickets. For his consistency in fast bowling, he was chosen in the 2003 World Cup, which Australia eventually won. Throughout the 2000s decade, he remained a leading wicket-taker bested only by Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan. A rare record that prides Lee’s golden career is that of two 5-wicket halls at the premier Lord’s cricket ground.

Brett Lee Career Statistics – 1999-2012

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Brett Lee Recods and Achievements

  • 2000 Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year
  • 1999–2000 Wisden Young Cricketer of the Year
  • 2002–03 VB Series Player of the Series
  • 2004–05 VB Series Player of the Series
  • 2005 ICC Awards – ODI Team of the Year
  • 2006 Wisden Cricketer of the Year
  • 2006–07 DLF Cup Player of the Tournament
  • 2006 ICC Awards – ODI Team of the Year
  • Australia’s Greatest ODI XI
  • 2007 Warne-Muralitharan Trophy Player of the Series
  • 2007–08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Player of the Series
  • 2008 McGilvray Medal
  • 2008 Australian Test Player of the Year
  • 2008 Allan Border Medal
  • 2008 ICC Awards – ODI Team of the Year
  • 2008 ICC Awards – Test Team of the Year
  • 2009 Champions League Twenty20 Player of the Series

Watch Brett Lee’s Best Performance

Brett Lee's Top 10 Destructive Yorkers of His Career🔥

12. Sydney Barnes

If a definition of a bowling freak were needed, one need not look farther than Sydney Francis Barnes as a phenomena. Sydney Barnes is unquestionably one of the finest bowlers in the history of cricket, as evidenced by his incredible statistics, accuracy, variety, and ability to swing the ball both off the seam and in the air. Prior to 1896, Barnes’ performances for Warwickshire were infrequent after his first class debut in 1894. In 1899, Barnes moved from Warwickshire to Lancashire, where he made an impression for the Lancashire second XI squad by picking up 8/38 against Staffordshire.

April 19, 1873, in Smethwick, Staffordshire. December 26, 1967, in Chadsmoor, Staffordshire, passed away. Richard Barnes had five children, the second of whom was Sydney Francis Barnes. Richard Barnes spent almost his whole life in Staffordshire and spent 63 years working for a Birmingham company. Sydney Barnes claimed that his father never received more than three hours of coaching. Nevertheless, after learning the off-break from Smethwick professional Billy Ward of Warwickshire, Sydney Barnes diligently practised to develop the leg-break. The majority of cricket players and scholars during the era S.F. Barnes played the game agreed that he was the bowler of the century.

Sydney Barnes Career Statistics – 1901-1914


Sydney Barnes Records and Achievements

  • In the 1963 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, Barnes was selected by Neville Cardus as one of the “Six Giants of the Wisden Century”.
  • This was a special commemorative selection requested by Wisden for its 100th edition.
  • Writing in the May 1963 edition of The Cricketer, John Arlott published a tribute to Barnes which commemorated his 90th birthday.
  • Arlott wrote that of those who played with or against Barnes, “(they) had no doubt that he stood alone – the greatest bowler that ever lived”.
  • In 2008, when the “ICC Best-Ever Test Championship Ratings” were published, Barnes’s retrospective rating of 932 at the end of the 1913/14 series was the highest ever achieved.
  • In 2009, Barnes was an inaugural member of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
  • To mark 150 years of the Cricketers’ Almanack, Wisden named him in an all-time Test World XI.

Watch Sydney Barnes‘s Best Performance


11. Chaminda Vaas

Best Cricket Bowlers Chaminda Vaas
Chaminda Vaas

Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas, a very tough to spell but a player who can never be forgotten. The eleventh player among the best bowlers of all time is the one considered to be the greatest fast bowler in the history of Sri Lankan cricket. After thirteen first-class matches, Vaas finally made his Test debut against Pakistan in the year 1994. Within the first year, Vaas had made a great impact on his national side. At Napier, Vaas took the charge against the Kiwis to lead Sri Lanka to their maiden away Test match victory. In that match, Vaas produced two incredible bowling spells – 5-47 & 5-43 and earned the title of Man of the Match.

One after another, victories arrived for the island country. Vaas effectively supported the leading wicket-taker of the team, M. Muralitharan, and together, they built a formidable bowling attack. In the 2001-02 season, in a home Test match against West Indies, Vaas secured an astounding one-match 14-wicket haul, a feat seconded only by Imran Khan in the sub-continent. Once the best bowler in the world, Vaas tallied a total of 350+ wickets in just 111 Test matches.

In the month of December 2001, Vaas did something spectacular, something cricket had never seen before and has never witnessed since. Playing an ODI match against Zimbabwe at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Vaas exhibited super-human spirit. He single-handedly decimated the Zimbabwe batting line-up, ceding merely 19 runs and picking up 8 wickets! It’s been twenty years and such a feat has never been repeated ever in the ODI format. Vaas’ ODI career outmatched his Test career as he tallied a total of 400 wickets, making him only one among four best bowlers of all time.

Chaminda Vaas ODI Career Statistics – 1994-2009

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Chaminda Vaas Records & Achievements

  • Vaas holds the record for taking the only 8-fer in ODIs with his 8 for 19 in just eight overs against Bangladesh in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.
  • This performance included a hat-trick taken off the very first three balls of the Bangladesh innings.
  • It was the first time that a hat-trick was taken off the first three balls.
  • He was also the youngest bowler to take 300 wickets in ODI cricket.

Watch Chaminda Vaas’s Best Performance

Chaminda Vaas Top 10 Delivers. | you must watch |

10. Waqar Younis

Best Cricket Bowlers Waqar Younis
Waqar Younis

With a stupendous speed of 153 km/h, a swing ball was delivered at one of the Proteas players in the year 1993. The one-man bowling at this great speed was an injured Waqar Younis – one of the top 15 best bowlers of all time. Younis had a unique style of pace bowling. He could reverse-swing a ball inward and outward, making it severely difficult for the batsmen to face deliveries at such a high pace. Younis, together with Imran Khan, ruled as pace champs of the 90s. Moreover, Younis played a significant role in building up the Pakistan cricket team from bottom to top as an effective captain across all formats. In the year 2013, Younis joined the ranks of his compatriots such as Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Hanif Mohammed as he was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.

The youngest captain in Pakistan’s cricket history augured an era of class for the South Asian country on the back of a feared Test bowling attack. Playing less than 90 matches in international Test format, Younis tallied a massive total of 373 wickets at an efficient average of 23.56. To date, Younis has the second-best strike rate after Dale Steyn, for a bowler with over 350 wickets. Younis’s best Test career figure of 7/76 came against New Zealand in 1990 and consequently, he progressed as an intimidating opponent.

In the shorter format of One-day cricket, Younis seamlessly translated his Test performance. Younis made his distinct style of bowling a trademark for Pakistani pace. In ODIs, he averaged below 24 as he played over 250 matches. His early success in both ODI and Test won him, admirers, across the sports world. One of his notable fans includes Jamaican sprinter and legendary Olympian Usain Bolt, who once reportedly said, “Waqar Younis was one of the greatest bowlers ever, and I was a bowler so I really enjoyed watching him.” Evidently, Younis deserves to be recognized among the best bowlers of all time.

Waqar Younis Career Statistics – 1989-2003

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Waqar Younis Records & Achievements

  • Waqar is the second best strike rate holder in Test Match Cricket with a minimum of 10,000 balls being bowled. 
  • Waqar was named among the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1992 for his sporting achievements.
  • He is also the only bowler to have taken 5 wickets in an innings in 3 consecutive One Day International matches.
  • In terms of deliveries bowled, he has taken the fastest 300, 350 and 400 wickets in One Day International matches.
  • Although primarily a fast bowler, Waqar scored 1010 Test match runs during his career.
  • As of September 2005, he was the only non-batsman to achieve a thousand runs without scoring a fifty. 
  • Waqar holds the record for the best strike rate for any bowler with over 350 Test wickets.
  • Waqar Younis holds the record for the best bowling figures as a captain in an ODI(7/36) and was also the first captain to take a 7 wicket haul in an ODI innings.
  • He is the youngest ever bowler to take a five wicket haul in an ODI innings (at the age of 18 years and 164 days)
  • He holds the record for taking the most consecutive five wicket hauls in terms of innings(3) and he’s also the only player to achieve this milestone for 3 successive times
  • Waqar Younis has taken five or more wickets in an innings on 22 occasions in Test cricket.
  • In One Day International matches, he has taken the most five-wicket hauls (on 13 occasions).

Watch Waqar Younis’s Best Performance

9. Shaun Pollock

Best Cricket Bowlers Shaun Pollock
Shaun Pollock

In a long list of fast bowlers, here’s a medium-pace bowler who is probably the best in his style in the history of cricket. Presenting Shaun Pollock, former captain of the Proteas and an unbelievable all-rounder. Like Curtly and Courtney bonded to dismantle opponents for the West Indies, and Waqar and Wasim did it for Pakistan, Pollock and Alan Donald played the same role in an impressive partnership for South Africa. Not only was he a formidable pacer but also an excellent batsman, having scored over 3,500 runs in both ODI and Test formats. Pollock peaked in rankings time and again, and noting his prowess and career achievements, LG ICC Ratings named him the 10th joint all-time best-ever bowler. After the Hansie Cronje. Pollock was the one to rebuild the Proteas from scratch and his contributions were recognized in 2003 when Wisden named him the Cricketer of the Year.

Until 2018, Pollock remained the leading wicket-taker in South Africa Test cricket, however, Dale Steyn managed to surpass his record. Tallying a wicket total of over 400 has never been easy for a medium pacer, but Pollock outmatched every expert’s opinion and reached a league of his own. Pollock’s career-best of 7/87 came against Australia during the 1997/98 Test at Adelaide.

In the ODI format, Pollock did equally well. Amassing a wicket tally near to 400, he established himself as the greatest medium-pacer in cricket history. Today, he ranks fifth among the top 15 best bowlers of all time. Bowling at an average of 24.50, Pollock exhibited class as well as perseverance. Several bad overs came along but eventually passed, and he stuck to his consistent bowling. When a great tumult struck the Proteas, Pollock spoke like a true believer in the spirit of cricket, “There’ll be no free deliveries or anything other than world-class cricket.”

Shaun Pollock Career Statistics – 1995-2008

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Shaun Pollock Records & Achievements

  • Shaun Pollock has the record for the most Test centuries while batting at number 9 or below (2).
  • He also holds the record for playing the most ODI innings before scoring a century (189).
  • Shaun Pollock also holds the record for becoming the first test captain to be stranded or to be remained unbeaten on 99 in a test innings.
  • He too holds the record for taking the most ODI wickets when playing at home soil (193).
  • Shaun Pollock holds the record for bowling most Maiden overs in ODI history (313).

Watch Shaun Pollock’s Best Performance

Shaun Pollock 6 for 30 vs Srilanka 2nd Test @ Cape Town 2001

8. Dennis Lillee

Dennis Lillee was the one that everyone looked up to during a period when fast bowling was at its most prosperous in all of cricket history. As the most complete fast bowler, Lillee was a major member of the Australian team throughout the 1970s and the first part of the 1980s. He started off as a tearaway quick bowler, like most Australian pacers do. Lillee quickly became a fan favourite thanks to his traditional side-on movement and long run-up. One of cricket’s greatest delights is watching a true fast bowler in action, and witnessing Lillee at his best was the zenith. With eight wickets against a World XI that featured players like Sir Garfield Sobers and Sunil Gavaskar, he made a grand entrance.

Australia’s assault was led for more than a decade by Dennis Lillee, who was regarded by many as “the complete fast bowler.” He attracted a devoted following from the spectators around the country, who frequently cheered his name as he ran in to bowl thanks to a combination of skill, showmanship, a copybook action, and pure hard work. He was the kind of person captains could count on to bowl “one more over” at the end of a lengthy stint and the kind who frequently made breakthroughs when success seemed improbable. Lillee paid back their faith in him with interest.

With 355 dismissals from just 70 games, Lillee surpassed Lance Gibbs’ previous record of 309 Test wickets, confirming his place among the all-time greats. Through his dedication to training future generations of fast bowlers, he has maintained a high profile since retiring.

Dennis Lillee Career Stats – 1971-1984

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Dennis Lillee Records & Achievements

  • He was one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1973.
  • He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1981 for services to cricket.
  • He was one of the ten inaugural inductees into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 1996.
  • He was selected in the official Australian Test Team of the Century.
  • He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000.
  • He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2010 Australia Day Honours.
  • Lillee was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.
  • He was immortalised in the Men at Work song “No Restrictions” (Cargo, 1983) with the line: “Hear the cricket calling, switch on the TV, sit and stare for hours, and cheer Dennis Lillee”.
  • He was named as a bowler in Australia’s “greatest ever ODI team.”
  • He was named an Australia Post Legend of Cricket in 2021.
  • He was elevated as the 43rd Legend in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2021

Watch Dennis Lillee‘s best Performance

From the Vault: Lillee fires up in WACA heat

7. Malcolm Marshall

With pitter-pat feet that twinkled like they were wearing dancing shoes, Malcolm Marshall slithered to the crease on the angle. It had the appearance of a sidewinder on attack. Purists have occasionally critiqued his action as being too open, but it was deliberate: from a neutral position, he retained his control of the traditional outswing and inswing without making his intentions clear. He had a wickedly quick arm and was lean, elevating him to express status. He was only short in height, but he used that to his advantage by skidding on to the batsman with a bouncer that was as mean-spirited as they come. He developed a powerful legcutter later in his career, which he exploited on dusty pitches.

Marshall had all the toys, and he knew how and when to play with them. He also had a big cricket intelligence, stamina, and courage. His average of 20.95 and strike rate of 46.22 were both incredible. He was possibly the best fast bowler there ever was. His best performances were saved for England. In 1984, he broke his left thumb while fielding early in the game, but he first batted with one hand, hitting a boundary and enabling Larry Gomes to complete a century. After that, he took 7 for 53 while his left hand was cast.

He is frequently hailed as the best West Indian fast bowler of all time and unquestionably among the most complete fast bowlers the game of cricket has ever seen. His 20.94 Test bowling average leads all players with 200 or more wickets. He was a short man by the standards of other fast bowlers of his era, standing at 180 cm when most of the great quicks have been far above 183 cm. Nevertheless, he was a successful bowler.

Malcolm Marshall Career Stats – 1978-1992

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Watch Malcolm Marshall‘s best Performance

The Greatest Quick of All Time? Marshall Blows England Away in Classic! | Eng v WI 1984 | Lord's

6. Sir Richard Hadlee

Best Cricket Bowlers Sir Richard Hadlee
Sir Richard Hadlee

Australian cricketing legend Dennis Lillee was once quoted saying, “He was big, strong, fit, confident, aggressive, had marvelous skills, great technique, he intimidated the batsmen with sheer presence and of course, he got you out!” He, here, refers to Sir Richard Hadlee. An extraordinary bowling all-rounder, and arguably the pioneer in fast-bowling moderations, Sir Hadlee features as the 9th best bowler in the world to date. In 2002, Wisden named Sir Hadlee as the second-greatest Test bowler of all time. In 1980, he was appointed as the Member of the British Empire. A decade later, in 1990, Sir Hadlee was knighted for his service to cricket. Honoring his legacy, in 2009, ICC inducted him into the Cricket Hall of Fame.

Bowling at an unthinkable economy of 2.63, he picked up more than four hundred wickets in international Test cricket. Sir Hadlee’s record Test haul came against Australia in the series of 1985-86 at the Gabba stadium. To the amazement of the crowds present, he picked up 9 wickets in a single inning and destroyed the Aussie line-up alone. This was considered the best single innings bowling figure by any fast bowler in the 20th century. No wonder he became the second-fastest bowler to take 5-wicket hauls in 25 Test matches.

The greatest bowler New Zealand has ever produced made some records in the ODI format as well. Batsmen couldn’t escape the Sir Paddles, as he was fondly called even in One-day cricket. In fact, being an effective all-rounder, Sir Hadlee scored modest runs to save the day for Kiwis on more than one occasion. Notably, Sir Hadlee holds the record of being the first player to reach both – 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in ODI history.

Sir Richard Hadlee Career Statistics – 1973-1990

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Sir Richard Hadlee Records & Achievements

  • Hadlee became the first player to complete the double of scoring 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets in ODI history.
  • He was the second fastest bowler to take five-wicket hauls in 25 Test matches, the fastest seamer to achieve this feat (62 matches) and the third fastest in terms of number of innings played.
  • He took a total of 36 five-wicket hauls in Test matches and five in ODIs, the former a record in Test cricket at the time of his retirement.
  • Hadlee took ten or more wickets in a Test match nine times, with best match bowling figures of 15/123 taken against Australia at The Gabba in 1985.
  • He made two Test match centuries, with a highest score of 151 not out made in 1987 against Sri Lanka at the Colombo Cricket Club Ground.
  • Appointed MBE for services to New Zealand sport in 1980.
  • Awarded a Knighthood for services to cricket in 1990.
  • Winner of the Windsor Cup on 13 occasions, including 12 consecutive years, for the most meritorious bowling performance of the season.
  • New Zealand Sportsman of the Year 1980.
  • Wisden Cricketer of the Year – 1982.
  • New Zealand Sportsman of the Year 1986.
  • New Zealand Sportsperson of the last 25 years 1987.
  • New Zealand Sportsperson of the Decade 1987.
  • Bert Sutcliffe Medal in 2008.
  • Inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from the University of Nottingham.
  • Assessed as the twelfth best cricketer of all time in the ESPN Legends of Cricket.

Watch Sir Richard Hadlee’s Best Performance

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5. Anil Kumble

Best Cricket Bowlers Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble

The Jumbo, as Kumble was fondly referred to, created history for the Indian cricket team. Almost magically, Kumble picked wickets one after the other, and all watched in sheer awe. As a right-arm leg-spin, Kumble some of the best bowling performances ever witnessed in the game. Famous for introducing an unconventional style of leg-break called the flipper, Kumble did something that the world had never seen before.

While critics always commented that Kumble lacked the turn of Warne and Murali, it was evident that he had shown that not only turn and flight can deceive the batsman but also the changes of length and pace. For Kumble matched the likes of greatest bowlers of all time, having followed suit in similar records, but interestingly, with a unique, rather unorthodox style of bowling. He was named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1996. He is one of the top 10 bowlers of all time.

In his Test career, Kumble recorded a wicket tally of 619, which is the third-highest in the world. The second highest balls bowled in Test cricket (i.e. 40,850) is a record held by Kumble. He even recorded the rare feat of 5-wicket hauls 30 times throughout his career. His never-give-up attitude is well remembered from the time he bowled tirelessly for straight 72 overs in an innings. Nonetheless, the most talked-about record when Kumble’s name emerges is that of 1999. Playing against Pakistan, he took 10 wickets in an innings! A feat shared only by England’s Jim Laker.

In the ODI format, the Jumbo fared pretty well. His fierce bowling allowed the Indian batsmen, the liked of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, and Sachin Tendulkar to take chances with their willow. By the time Kumble had cemented his position in Indian playing XI, his side seemed stronger than ever in history and soon laid out a path for a generation of cricketers, who would eventually lead in the world. The 1996 World Cup is recalled to reminisce how Kumble climbed the success ladder, for although he was a young bowler at the time, he secured 15 wickets in 7 matches, nearing an impeccable average of 18.73. Eventually, he became the leading wicket-taker of the tournament. Undoubtedly, Anil Kumble, who was once the best bowler in the world, still remains the best bowler in Indian cricket history.

Anil Kumble Career Statistics – 1990-2008

List A38020247141785146/126/1227.584.2039.31430

Anil Kumble Records & Achievements

  • Kumble is the most successful Indian bowler of all time and fourth-highest wicket-taker of all time in Tests.
  • He took 35 five-wicket hauls and eight ten-wicket hauls in Tests and two ODI five-wicket hauls.
  • Kumble holds the record of bowling 40,850 balls in the entire Test career, which is the highest for an Indian and second-highest overall.
  • Kumble is also one of six bowlers to take 900 or more wickets in their entire career, taking 956 wickets in his career.
  • Arjuna award, a sports award from the Government of India, in 1995.
  • One of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year, in 1996.
  • Among the 16 cricketers shortlisted for the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the 20th Century, in 2002[101] (Kapil Dev won)
  • Padma Shri, a civilian award from the Government of India, in 2005.
  • A prominent intersection in M. G. Road, Bengaluru has been named after Anil Kumble.
  • ‘Best breakthrough performance IPL 2009’ for his five-for-five against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2009.
  • ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, a sports award from the ICC, in 2015.

Watch Anil Kumble’s Best Performance

Anil Kumble Best Bowling Figer 6/12 Hero cup final

4. Wasim Akram

Best Cricket Bowlers Wasim Akram
Wasim Akram

Famously known as the Sultan of Swing, Wasim Akram is possibly the best bowler in Pakistan’s history. Former captain of the South Asian team, Akram exhibited spectacular bowling standards. Cricket experts regard him as one of the pioneers of ‘reverse swing’ in pace bowling, and also the finest specimen of swing bowling. In 2013, Wisden Cricketers Almanack named Akram in all-time Test World XI, him being the only Pakistani featuring in the list. For his extraordinary contribution to the sport, the Government of Pakistan bestowed the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the country’s second-highest civilian honor, upon him. In 2009, Akram was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Akram was amazing from the start of his Test career. After being spotted by Javed Miandad, Akram rose consistently in international cricket. He debuted against New Zealand in 1985, and picked up 10 wickets in his second match against the Kiwis, thereby proving his sheer talent. Over the next few years, he eclipsed every other bowler in the team and soon became a challenger at the world level. To date, Akram remains the highest wicket-taker in Pakistan’s Test history, with 414 wickets.

Akram’s legacy can be best traced in his ODI career, where he picked up 502 wickets, the second-highest in the world ever. Playing over 350 ODI matches, he established his dominance in the format. Akram is one among the rare five bowlers in the world to have secured two hattricks in One-day cricket. For his incredible bowling records, Wisden once named him the best ODI bowler of all time with a fabulous rating of 1223.5. Akram’s standing in world cricket can be best understood when learning what West Indies legend Brian Lara once said about him. He said, “Over my 15 or 16 years of playing international cricket in Tests and One Day Internationals, Wasim Akram is definitely the most outstanding bowler I’ve ever faced.” Akram ranks in the list of top 10 bowlers of all time.

Wasim Akram Career Statistics – 1984-2003

List A59429719193038815/105/1021.913.8933.734120

Wasim Akram Records & Achievements

  • In his Test career, Akram took 414 wickets in 104 matches, a Pakistani record, at an average of 23.62 and scored 2,898 runs, at an average of 22.64.
  • In One Day Internationals, Akram took 502 wickets in 356 appearances, at an average of 23.52 and scored 3,717 runs, at an average of 16.52.
  • Akram is the one of the only two bowlers, along with Lasith Malinga, to have achieved four or more hat-tricks in international cricket, with two each in Tests and One Day Internationals.
  • Playing in a Test series against the West Indies at Lahore in 1990–1991, he became one of only six players to have taken four wickets in an over during a Test match.
  • Akram has also achieved the highest score by a number eight batsman in Test cricket when he scored 257 runs not out from 363 balls against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura.
  • He also has the joint-third highest number of Man of the Match awards in Test cricket, with seventeen.
  • He is the only Test cricketer in the world (as of Feb 2013) to take ten or more wickets three times in a test match and still end up on the losing side.
  • He holds the record for facing the most balls in a test match as well as in an innings as number 8 batsman (363 balls).
  • First bowler to take 500 ODI wickets and still holds the record for taking the most ODI wickets as seamer (502).
  • Wasim Akram is the only person to grab 100+ ODI wickets at the same ground.
  • Holds the record for taking the most ODI wickets as captain (158).
  • Wasim was the first-ever bowler to complete 500 wickets in One-Day-internationals (ODIs).

Watch Wasim Akram’s Best Performance

Classic Wasim Akram | ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 1992

3. Glenn McGrath

Best Cricket Bowlers Glenn McGrath
Glenn McGrath

If somebody asked how was Australia able to dominate the world for a whole decade, the answer would be – McGrath. One of the best bowlers of all time, Glenn McGrath could do what most fast bowlers failed to – maintaining his line and length. What did it mean? It meant that McGrath was the most economical bowler, conceding the least number of runs, throughout his career. He is the most successful fast bowler in the history of cricket. During his ongoing career, he was awarded the Allan Border medal in 2000. Post-retirement, in 2007, he was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to cricket. Subsequently, in 2013, McGrath was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.

A sensational record boasts McGrath’s prowess in the game. He holds the record of dismissing most for ducks in Test cricket, wicket tally count of 104 wickets. The incredible strike rate over 50 made him look like a giant taking on the opponent’s line-up single-handedly. His caliber proved worthy, especially in the Ashes. It was in the 2005 Ashes series that McGrath picked up his 500th wicket and became the fourth bowler in history to cross that line. In Test cricket, while other great wicket-takers conceded runs to pick up wickets, McGrath did the opposite. This is what made him formidable in the eyes of every batsman. Not did he only become one of the highest wicket-takers, but did so at an economy of near 2.5.

McGrath reflected the same level of performance in the ODI format. Playing around 250 matches, he dismissed over 350 batsmen and bowled at an unbelievable average of 22. His career-best arrived in the 2003 World Cup against Namibia. Throughout the series, McGrath drove fear in the hearts of in-form batsmen, eventually leading his side to victory and lifting the cup. McGrath’s admirable career is well-remembered in the international cricket community and it is improbable to find another McGrath ever again.

Glenn McGrath Career Statistics – 1993-2007

List A30515808100044637/157/1521.603.7934.11570

Glenn McGrath Records & Achievemenst

  • McGrath was twice involved in tenth wicket partnerships which added 100 runs or more, a record matched only by New Zealand batsman Nathan Astle.
  • At the time of his retirement, McGrath’s 7 for 15 against Namibia were the best bowling figures in a World Cup match, and the second best in all ODIs.
  • After his dismissal for a duck in the fourth test of the 2006–2007 Ashes series, McGrath claimed the record of having scored more ducks in Test cricket than any other Australian cricketer (35 – one more than Shane Warne).
  • He holds most bowling records in ICC Cricket World Cup, including most wickets, most wickets in a single tournament, best bowling figures, bowling average and most maiden overs.
  • McGrath held the record for dismissing the most batsmen for ducks in Test cricket (104).
  • McGrath holds seven highest tenth wicket partnerships, and two tenth wicket partnerships of 100 plus.
  • He has also held the record for conceding the least runs in a test best 5-wicket haul and the best 10-wicket haul in a test match.
  • McGrath holds the record for dismissing the most batsmen for ducks in test cricket (104).

Watch Glenn McGrath’s Best Performance

Lord's 2005 Ashes: Glenn McGrath Takes 5 And Reaches 500 Career Wickets - Full Highlights

2. Shane Warne

Best Cricket Bowlers Shane Warne
Shane Warne

If fast bowlers look magnificent, that’s alright, but it is always a spinner who takes the top spot. The biggest challenger to that leading spinner was none other than the Australian legend Shane Warne. Incomparable style of bowling and massive records highlight Warne’s career. Ingenuity was at its best when Warne bowled the ball of the century. A true maestro was recognized at the peak of his career and accorded the grand-est honor. In 2000, Shane Warne was one amongst five, the only playing cricketer at the time, to be named the Wisden Cricketers of the Century. In 2013, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Behind Murali and Sir Hadlee, Warne is positioned as the third-highest 5-wicket haul taker in international cricket. Once rightly called the ‘best bowler in the world’, Warne’s record of 10-wicket hauls in Test matches, testified to his legacy. It wasn’t tough for cricketing fans and experts to spot Warne as a young talent for he showcased his brilliant performances from the very start. Any Gen Y cricket enthusiast would remember the year 1993 when Warne picked up over 70 wickets, reincarnating the spirit of spin bowling in world cricket.

Spectacular bowling performances followed Warne everywhere, what’s even more amazing is the fact that he adapted adequately each time. His ODI career-best performance was against West Indies in 1996, at SCG, Sydney. Reaching the peak so early in his career meant Warne was laying his path towards legacy. Although the Test-level performances didn’t accurately translate in the One-day format, Warne still filled anguish in every batting soul facing him at the pitch. HIs twist and turns could take down a well-settled batsman as easily as a tail-ender, that was the might of the great Warney.

Shane Warne Career Statistics – 1992-2007

List A31116419116424736/426/4224.614.2534.72030

Shane Warne Records & Achievemenst

  • Bowling: Most balls bowled. 3rd. Most balls bowled in career (51347)
  • Bowling: Most runs conceded. 4th. Most runs conceded in career (25536)
  • In 2000, a panel of cricket experts chose Warne as one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, the only specialist bowler selected and the only one who was still playing at the time.
  • The same publication named Warne in an all-time Test World XI.
  • In 2004, Warne was included as part of Richie Benaud’s Greatest XI, as the best spin bowler of all time by both Benaud and the Australian public.
  • In 2005, Warne was named the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.
  • In 2007, Cricket Australia and Sri Lanka Cricket decided to name the Australia–Sri Lanka Test cricket series the Warne–Muralitharan Trophy in honour of Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.
  •  Also in 2007, Cricket Australia named Warne in their greatest ODI XI of all time.
  • In 2009, Warne was awarded honorary life membership of Marylebone Cricket Club.
  • On 22 December 2011, a statue honouring Warne was unveiled outside MCG.
  • In 2012, a grandstand at the Rose Bowl, where Warne played county cricket for Hampshire, was named the Shane Warne Stand. 
  • In 2012, he was also inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame by Cricket Australia. 
  • In 2013, Warne was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. 
  • In a fan poll conducted by the Cricketers’ Almanack in 2017, Warne was named in Australia’s best Ashes XI of the previous 40 years.
  • In June 2022, on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Warne was posthumously appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his service to cricket and philanthropic contributions.
  • In December 2022, Warne was elevated to a Legend in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Watch Shane Warne’s Best Performance

THAT Ball To Andrew Strauss: Shane Warne's 6-46 At Edgbaston 2005 - Full Highlights

1. Best bowler in the world: Muttiah Muralitharan

Best Cricket Bowler Muttiah Muralitharan
World’s best bowler: Muttiah Muralitharan

I like to be a bowler because I can’t bat properly,said the best bowler in the world ever. From the newbie whose bowling action was questioned by the international community to the greatest bowler of all time, Murali came a long way and proved that talent always champions criticism. Wisden named Murali the leading Test bowler of all time, with a rating of 1320.4. Murali is the first wrist-spinning off-spinner in the history of the game and this unique feature gave him an advantage over the best bowlers in the world, while he persistently picked up wickets like it was a child’s play. Batsmen early on thought of him as a leg-spinner, however, the mystical bowling was soon discovered but never defeated. In 2017, he became the first Sri Lankan cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Murali is the first and only bowler in history to take 800 wickets in Tests. He took his 800th wicket on 22 July 2010, in the last Test match of his career. In 2007, he had already surpassed Shane Warne to become the highest wicket-taker in the world. While the former legend tried his best, he couldn’t beat Murali who had entered into a league of his own. Murali held the number one spot in the International Cricket Council’s player rankings for Test bowlers for a record period of 1,711 days spanning 214 Test matches. He is the only player to take 10 wickets per match against every Test-playing nation. Such unimaginable records achieved at an economy lower than 2.5, make him the most successful Test bowler in history.

The question stands, whether Murali’s epic Test performance ever translate into ODI cricket? The answer is Yes, it did. Although Wasim Akram is the highest-rated ODI bowler of all time, Murali is by far the most successful bowler in ODI history. With 534 wickets in his ambit, Murali proved to the world what a Sri Lankan lion can do. Famous sportswriter and Wisden India editor, Suresh Menon, speaking on how Murali transformed off-spin said, “He brought to the craft a new way of doing things, converting a finger-spinning exercise into a wrist-spinning one. He remains the symbol of a resurgent Sri Lanka, a talented side from its pre-Test days but one that needed a touch of iron to perform consistently.”

Muttiah Muralitharan Career Statistics – 1992-2011

List A45323734152706827/307/3022.393.8634.817120

Muttiah Muralitharan Records & Achievements

  • The most Test wickets (800 wickets).
  • The most One-Day International wickets (534 wickets).
  • The highest number of international wickets in Tests, ODIs and T20s combined (1347 wickets).
  • The most 5-wicket hauls in an innings at Test level (67).
  • The most 10-wicket hauls in a match at Test level (22). He is the only player to take 10 wickets/match against every Test playing nation.
  • Fastest to 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600, 650, 700, 750 and 800 Test wickets, in terms of matches played (indeed the only bowler to exceed 708 wickets).
  • Only player to take 10 wickets in a Test in four consecutive matches. He achieved this feat twice.
  • Only player to take 50 or more wickets against every Test playing nation.
  • Muralitharan and Jim Laker (England), are the only bowlers to have taken 9 wickets in a Test innings twice.
  • 7 wickets in an innings against the most countries (5).
  • Most Test wickets taken bowled (167), stumped (47) and caught & bowled (35) jointly with Anil Kumble. 
  • Bowled by Muralitharan (b Muralitharan) is the most common dismissal in Test cricket (excluding run out).
  • Most successful bowler/fielder (non-wicket-keeper) combination – c. Mahela Jayawardene b. Muttiah Muralitharan (77).
  •  Most test wickets caught by a fielder(388). 
  • Most wickets taken caught(435).
  • Most Man of the Series awards in Test cricket (11).
  • Most Test wickets in a single ground. Muralitharan is the only bowler to capture 100-plus Test wickets at three venues, the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo, the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy and the Galle International Stadium in Galle.
  • The only bowler to take 75 or more wickets in a calendar year in test cricket on three occasions, achieving it in 2000, 2001 and 2006.
  • Most five wicket hauls in international career (77)
  • Most ducks (dismissals for zero) ever in international cricket (across Tests, ODIs, and T20Is): 59 ducks total.
  • Most balls bowled in international cricket career (63132).
  • 6th in the list of taking the most test wickets in a home test season (62 wicket in 7 matches in 2001/02-Most by a Sri Lankan).
  • Most balls bowled by any bowler in test career (44039).
  • Holds the record for taking the most test wickets when playing at home soil (493).
  • Only bowler to take 100 or more wickets in a calendar year four times (1998, 2000, 2001 and 2006) across all formats (ODI, Test and T20I).
  • Highest number of wickets in a calendar year in Tests, ODIs and T20Is combined, with 136 wickets in 2001.
  • Muralitharan also holds second place for this record, with 128 wickets in 2006.

Watch Muttiah Muralitharan’s Best Performance

Top 10 Muttiah Muralidharan Unplayable Deliveries in Cricket History.

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