Best Cricket Bowlers of All Time with Career statistics 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.

Best Cricket Bowlers of All TimeTeams
1. Muttiah MuralitharanSri Lanka
2. Glenn McGrathAustralia
3. Shane WarneAustralia
4. Anil KumbleIndia
5. Shaun PollockSouth Africa
6. Wasim AkramPakistan
7. James AndersonEngland
8. Courtney WalshWest Indies
9. Sir Richard HadleeNew Zealand
10. Waqar YounisPakistan
11. Chaminda VaasSri Lanka
12. Stuart BroadEngland
13. Brett LeeAustralia
14. Dale SteynSouth Africa
15. Curtly AmbroseWest Indies
Best Cricket Bowlers of All Time

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

Table of Contents

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.

Curtly Ambrose Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1988-2000981792210385014058/4520.992.3054.5
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1988-2000176175935354292255/1724.123.4841.5
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Curtly Ambrose’s Best Performance

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.

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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.

Dale Steyn Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2004-20199317118608100774397/5122.953.2442.3
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2005-2019125124625650871966/3925.954.8731.9
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Dale Steyn’s Best Performance

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.

Brett Lee Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1999-2008761501653195543105/3030.813.4653.3
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2000-20122212171118588773805/2223.364.7629.4
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Brett Lee’s Best Performance

12. Stuart Broad

Best Cricket Bowlers Stuart Broad
Stuart Broad

Wittingly nicknamed ‘Malfoy’ for his uncanny resemblance with the Harry Potter series character, Broad is acknowledged for having introduced an excitement in modern-day cricket like no other pacer. Broad was a famed cricketer well before he stepped onto the international pedestal. Following in his father’s (former English opening batsman Chris Broad) footsteps, Stuart Broad started playing for Nottinghamshire with a keen focus to represent the national side one day. The fateful day arrived in August 2006 when Broad was asked to bowl against a fierce Pakistan batting line-up. The same year, the Cricket Writers’ Club named him the Young Cricketer of the Year, following which Broad made his official entry to take down every rising batsman in the world.

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In Tests, Broad kicked off an epic journey which soon led him to become one of the top 15 best bowlers of all time. During the fifth Test match of the 2009 Ashes series at the oval, Broad secured five wickets for conceding 37 runs and was named the Man of the Match later on. In the following years, Broad kept on breaking his own records with a 6-wicket haul against India in 2011 and a 7-wicket haul against West Indies in 2012. However, it took him three more years to reach the peak of his career, when he made his career-best of 8 wickets for 15 runs against Australia in 2015. In 2020, Broad became the 7th bowler, 4th fast bowler, and 2nd English bowler to take 500 wickets in Test cricket.

Stuart Broad Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2007-2021148*27029550144415188/1527.872.9357.0
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Broad did fairly well in the ODI format. Although the success of Test cricket didn’t stand at par with that in ODIs, Broad left a mark, playing over a hundred matches and picking up close to 180 wickets in the format. For all the achievements in cricket that Broad has amassed to date, his home country, England has been generous in honoring the legendary pacer with due respect. In 2015, Nottingham Express Transit Tram 237 was named in Broad’s honor. The following year, in 2016, Broad was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Stuart Broad ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2006-2016121121610953641785/2330.135.2634.3
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Stuart Broad’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.

Chaminda Vaas Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1994-200911119423438105013557/7129.582.6866.0
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1994-200832232015775110144008/1927.534.1839.4
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Chaminda Vaas’s Best Performance

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.

Waqar Younis Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1989-2003871541622487883737/7623.563.2543.4
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1989-20032622581269899194167/3623.844.6830.5
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Waqar Younis’s Best Performance

9. 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.

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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.

Sir Richard Hadlee Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1973-1990861502191896114319/5222.292.6350.8
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBalls RunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1973-1990115112618234071585/2521.563.3039.1
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Sir Richard Hadlee’s Best Performance

8. Courtney Walsh

Best Cricket Bowlers Courtney Walsh
Courtney Walsh

With a career spanning over fifteen years, the former West Indies captain Courtney Walsh appears eighth among the top 15 best bowlers of all time. Together with Curtly Ambrose, Walsh put forth a daunting bowling partnership to which hardly any batting line-up could equally match up. Between 2000 to 2004, Walsh reigned as the highest Test wicket-taker in the world. Nonetheless, he stills finds a prominent place in history for being the first bowler to reach 500 wickets in Test cricket. For his numerous contributions to the sport, the 1988 West Indies Cricketer of the Year was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in the year 2010.

In his debut Test match against Australia at Perth, Walsh picked 2 wickets and conceded 43 runs. It was a humble start for the legend to be. In three years, Walsh emerged as one of the leading fast bowlers in the world. Consequently, in the 1987-88 season, when West Indies toured India, Walsh showed his remarkable performance, finishing the season with 26 wickets at an average of 16.80. The fearsome fast bowler that Walsh had become, exhibited his wrath against New Zealand. Walsh clamped down on the Kiwis’ line-up, marking a sensational bowling performance of 7/37.

Courtney Walsh Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1984-200113224230019126885197/3724.442.5357.8
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Walsh proved far more dangerous in the ODI format. He made his debut against the Sri Lankan lions during the 1984/85 World Series Cup. Playing against the likes of Pakistan, England, and New Zealand, Walsh amassed a wicket tally of 29 wickets off 7 matches. Following these seasons, Walsh was rightly named among the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1987.

Courtney Walsh ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1985-20002052041082269182275/130.473.8347.6
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Courtney Walsh’s Best Performance

7. James Anderson

Best Cricket Bowlers James Anderson
James Anderson

Ranking among the top 15 best bowlers of all time is rare for a currently playing cricketer, nonetheless, England’s all-time leading bowler – James Anderson, deserves the spot. In 2016, Anderson made a unique record to tallying 50 wickets against all Test-playing nations. A champion of his side, recently in June 2021, Anderson made his 162nd appearance for England in Test cricket, thus becoming England’s most-capped player. As of January 2021, Anderson finds himself at the 6th spot of ICC Test Bowling Rankings, it is fair to note that the English fast-bowling champ peaked in rankings in the years 2016 and 2018. For all these stupendous contributions to his country so far, Anderson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015.

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Moreover, in Test cricket, Anderson has some of the most bewildering achievements. Among fast bowlers, Anderson stands out as the all-time leading wicket-taker for England. In a career spanning over 18 years and still running, Anderson has an astounding wicket tally of 600+ wickets, which makes him the fourth-highest wicket-taker of all time. Another incredible stint was accomplished by Anderson in 2020, when he took the 28th 5-wicket haul, the highest by an Englishman to date, against South Africa. It wouldn’t be completely wrong if one suggests that he is probably the best bowler in the world right now.

James Anderson Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2003-2021162*29934587163786167/4226.582.8456.1
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Post the stress fracture in 2006, a new avatar of Anderson emerged in the One-day format of the game. As the strike bowler for his national side, Anderson was a regular sight in the ODI playing XI. Although Anderson did pretty well in the shorter format, picking up over 250 wickets at an average of new 30, the longest format suited him best. Eventually, Anderson became a rare sight in the ODI playing XI and after the 2015 World Cup, he has not made an appearance with the white ball yet.

James Anderson ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
2002-2015194191958478612695/2329.224.9235.6
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch James Anderson’s Best Performance

6. 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.

Wasim Akram Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1985-20021041812262797794147/11923.622.5954.6
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1984-200335635118186118125025/1523.523.8936.2
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Wasim Akram’s Best Performance

5. 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.

Shaun Pollock Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBalls RunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1995-20081082022435397334217/8723.112.3957.8
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBalls RunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1996-20083032971571296313936/3524.503.6739.9
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Shaun Pollock’s Best Performance

4. 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.

Anil Kumble Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBalls RunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1990-2008132236408501835561910/7429.652.6965.9
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1990-200727126514496104123376/1230.894.3043.0
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Anil Kumble’s Best Performance

3. 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.

Shane Warne Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBalls Runs WicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1992-200714527340705179957088/7112/1282.6557.4
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1993-20051941911064275412935/3325.734.2536.3
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Shane Warne’s Best Performance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0smCejAdVM&ab_channel=KeedaofCricketKeedaofCricket

2. 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.

Glenn McGrath Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1993-200712424329248121865638/2421.642.4951.9
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1993-20072502481297083913817/1522.023.8834.0
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Glenn McGrath’s Best Performance

1. 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.

Muttiah Muralitharan Test Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBalls RunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1992-201013323044039181808009/5122.722.4755.0
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

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 ODI Career Statistics

Career SpanMatchesInningsBallsRunsWicketsBest BowlingAverageEconomyStrike Rate
1993-201135034118811123265347/3023.083.9335.2
SOURCE: ESPNCricinfo

Watch Muttiah Muralitharan’s Best Performance

So, what do you think about our list? Did we miss any of our favorites? Let us know in the comments section below. Also, if you like to read more articles about your favorite sport Cricket. Head over to our cricket section for amazing articles. Cricket by God of Small Thing

Debojeet Chakravarty

I'm a first year grad student and have been exposed to the world of writing for over two years now. Though I'm new to the professional field of writing, I'm confident of finding myself in a suitable position that complements my style, very soon enough.

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