Being a fast bowler is very crucial in cricket. For any team, having a world class fast bowler is a godsend. They constantly have the potential to significantly affect how well the team performs. Greatest fast bowlers take wickets and pose a threat with their raw pace in any situation, which is a batsman’s nightmare and a team’s delight. We are all aware that fast bowling is a challenging skill to learn and that fast bowlers are particularly prone to injury. But there have been a number of great fast bowlers over the years who have maintained their health and gone on to become game legends.
Here’s a list of Top 10 Greatest Fast Bowlers of All Time –
1. Dennis Lillee
Dennis Lillee was the greatest and most ideal fast bowler—truly quick, aggressive, and precise. He set the benchmark for fast bowling in the middle of the 1970s thanks to his pace, talent, and tremendous amount of acumen. His superpowers included an incredibly quick outswing, cutters, yorkers, bouncers, incredible stamina, willpower, and charisma. Naturally, he also swung the ball away, which is obviously far more deadly when done at his pace. His left arm was raised high and bent at the elbow and wrist in a traditional manner, and he ran up perfectly. He terrorised batsmen all over the world in the 1970s and the early 1980s.
He would always choose to go on the offence over the defensive. In 1972 Ashes series against England at Old Trafford with 6-66 in their second innings and ended with ten wickets in the Oval Test for a total of 31 wickets. With 31 wickets in the series, he set a record for an Australian bowler in England. He also recorded 67 wickets in 14 World Series “Supertests,” more than any other bowler in those particularly difficult conditions. Against the Rest of the World’s XI in 1971–1972. Despite the World team’s top caliber, Lillee single-handedly destroyed them at the WACA on a typically fast pitch with figures of 8 for 29, bowling them out for just 59. When Lillee retired from Test cricket in 1984, he had taken 355 wickets was a world record at an average of 23.92, which was more than any other player.
2. Malcolm Marshall
He was completely aware of how to react to various situations and batsmen. In addition to all of that, he was prepared to toil for his wickets. He had all the attributes to be one of the best fast bowlers in the world. After Andy roberts and Michael holding, he became the acknowledged leader of the pack in the early years of Walsh, Ambrose and Patterson. On dusty batting tracks, he was quick, devastatingly accurate, and also capable of making the ball swing well or leap off the seam. He recorded a phenomenal strike rate of one wicket every 46 deliveries while taking 376 Test wickets overall.
He established himself in the West Indies team during the 1983 test series against India, taking twenty-one wickets. He set the tone for the 1984 series vs England by breaking Mike Gatting’s nose with a nasty bouncer and took 27 wickets in that 5-0 whitewash series. He once more destroyed the England side in the 1988 test series, taking 35 wickets overall in five tests at just 12.65, including a career-high 7-22 at Manchester. He was a outstanding fast bowler, taking more than four and a half wickets on average per Test. His record of 376 Test wickets in 81 matches at an average of 20.94 per a figure unmatched by any other fast bowler of the 20th century supports the claim that he is the greatest of all time.
3. Wasim Akram
Wasim Akram is the one of the greatest fast bowlers to have ever lived. Wasim Akram is the master of swing and seam and one of the greatest left-arm fast bowlers with a lightning-quick action the game has ever seen. Wasim bowled as fast as anyone in the world, had remarkable control over both the new and old balls, and had the ability to reverse swing both. Wasim Akram is the only fast bowler in cricket history with 400 wickets throughout both Test and ODI cricket. No one can beat Wasim Akram’s 414 test wickets, which he added to miraculously by taking 502 wickets in one-day internationals at an average of 23, across both arenas. With deliveries that appeared to swerve first one way and then the other through the air, he got many wickets by mastering the art of swing bowling, which involves getting the ball to move late through the air.
If speed was his surprise, swing was his art. Wasim Akram is one of the best exponents of reverse swing, which quickly became a huge factor for other bowlers all around international cricket. He was a highly skilled performer, a wonderful entertainer, and a prolific wicket-taker. He also possessed such a rapid arm (hence, perhaps, his record four international hat-tricks).
4. Glenn McGrath
Glenn McGrath is one of the best fast bowlers in the world who, more often than any other contemporary bowler, was able to place the ball where it was most difficult for batters to reach it. There weren’t many bad balls bowled by McGrath, and the batsman was constantly under pressure. McGrath is obviously much more than a medium-pacer who can maintain a line and length. He tears his fingers through the stitches, commanding the ball to do what he wants. It is incredibly challenging to use this technique in both directions and at a rapid rate even once, let alone on every ball. Because of this, no one else has been successful.
Of all the pace bowlers, he has been the most reliable. The skipper could confidently send the ball to him if Australia was having a problem. He leads the attack responsibly, separates the openers frequently, and often dispatches the opposition’s most dangerous player. Arguably one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, surpassing the great Courtney Walsh’s 519, he went on to eventually take 563 wickets in Test cricket even took 381 wickets in ODIs.
5. Curtly Ambrose
Curtly Ambrose was arguably the fastest bowler who was truly the most accurate all the time. Curtly Ambrose had a fluid, effective action, was incredibly reliable, and consistently put the ball where it belonged. His track record is self-evident. Any other fast bowler cannot match his economy rate of 2.30; the seven players with 200 wickets who have lower rates are all from prior times. He undoubtedly crossed the threshold separating the great from the very excellent at his finest. Pace, movement, and accuracy are the three main requirements for good bowlers. Ambrose possessed them all.
He was undoubtedly quick, especially in the middle of the 1990s, and the extra bounce his beanpole body produced made things even more difficult for the batter. His outstanding bowling performance occurred in January 1993 vs Australia at the WACA in Perth, where he had taken seven wickets for just one run in thirty-two deliveries, that was phenomenal in cricket history. Ambrose concluded his test carer with 405 wickets in 99 test matches and 225 ODIs wickets.
6. Waqar Younis
Waqar Younis is also known as the toe crusher, who is considered to be one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. He had developed an unstoppable mix of a long, swift run-up with a late swing that spelled disaster for batsmen all over the world. He bowled the most gorgeous outswing and producing toe crushing inswinging yorkers, at a real nasty pace. After 31 tests he had racked up an incredible 180 wickets at an average of 18.78, with only Sydney Barnes having taken fewer Tests to claim the same number of wickets.
In all of ODI cricket, he claimed thirteen five-wicket hauls, still a record. Waqar Younis was one of cricket’s most captivating figures for a decade. Additionally, he had the lowest balls-per-wicket strike rate of any bowler of the modern period. Released with a slightly round-arm action, he has dismissed dozens of batsmen either bowled or lbw with the ball that became his trademark. High caliber players found it difficult to stop, and tail-enders found it nearly impossible to do so. He took 373 test wickets in 87 tests and 416 in just 262 ODI matches which just goes to show what special kind of bowler he was.
7. Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn is arguably the greatest fast bowler of the modern times. Steyn had been consistently outstanding for a number of years; he was quick, accurate, aggressive and able to swing the ball, and he was completely devoted to leading the South African attack. His outswing was his primary tool, but he also possessed a wicked bouncer that was deceptively swift and appeared to track the batsman. He received recognition as a 2013 Wisden Cricketer of the Year and Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World. From 2008 until 2014, Dale Steyn held the record for the most Test bowlers to hold the No. 1 spot.
He helped South Africa win a Test series in England for the first time in 2008, earning him the title of ICC Test Cricketer of the Year. In just five years, he had passed the 300 wickets mark. In 2015, he became the second South African to reach the 400 wickets mark, and he finished his career as his nation’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker. At a 22.95 average, Dale Steyn concluded the Test format with 439 wickets. Additionally, he recorded 26 5-wicket hauls, more than any other fast bowler.
8. Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev was a remarkable fast bowler. He had a fantastic start to his career and was skilled at quickly swinging the ball away from the bat with his beautiful, high action. He was extremely accurate. India didn’t typically produce fast bowlers, but Kapil defied the norm. At age 21, he completed the 1,000 run/100 wicket double in less than a year, the quickest time ever and a record that still holds today. At first, he was a raw talent who frequently attempted to bowl rapidly and hit the ball as far as he could.
India at last got a fast bowler with the pace and swing to finish off the opponents. At the MCG in 1981, he took 5-28 against Australia for just 83 runs and lead an incredible Indian victory by 59 runs, that was marvellous performance. He dismissed Hashan Tillekeratne in February 1994 at Ahmedabad, breaking Richard Hadlee’s previous mark of 431 test wickets. The current crop of Indian pace bowlers may all credit Kapil Dev as being their biggest influence because he brought hope to a new generation of seamers that wickets could be taken in certain circumstances.
9. Fred Trueman
In 1952 Fred Trueman made his debut vs India and he took 28 wickets fantastically in 4 test match series. Between May 1957 and May 1963, Trueman took awesome 197 Test wickets. Fred Trueman is the first bowler in the history of the cricket to take 300 Test wickets, which Trueman did in 1964. He had achieved on top of his terrific record of 307 wickets in 67 matches at 21.57 average, one every 49 balls. He held the world record for most Test wickets for nearly 12 years.
10. Richard Hadlee
Richard Hadlee is regarded one of the greatest fast bowlers in cricket history. He currently dominates all other New Zealand bowlers by a wide margin. With 431 Test wickets, 158 one-day international wickets more than twice as many as any other Kiwi bowler at an average (22.30) that was more than four runs higher than any other Kiwi. He could alter his line and length for a certain batsman. He was able to make a quick adjustment for a specific pitch condition.
He had the pace when he wanted to. He placed the ball correctly, swung it, seamed it, and cut it off the wicket. Therefore, he used all of his techniques to force the batsman to play the ball. He was a highly methodical and cerebral bowler. In 1978 at Wellington, England was defeated for the first time in 48 years; Hadlee shredded them with figures of six for 26. His 15 for 123 statistics are the best for New Zealand throughout all Tests.
Read also: Top 10 Greatest Batsmen of All Time