Although cricket is popularly known as a batsman’s game, fast bowlers have ruled the sports for so many years. They have created problems for top batsmen, despite the fact that rules of the game favour the batsmen. Some pacers will always be remembered for their extraordinary performances with the ball for a prolonged period in international cricket. Let’s take a look at the 30 greatest pace bowlers of all time in the history of cricket. These bowlers have taken 150 or more wickets in Test cricket.
Kapil Dev (born on January 6, 1959) spearheaded the Indian bowling attack for almost 16 years. Kapil was not a genuine fast bowler, but he used to maintain perfect line and length. Kapil will be remembered for his graceful action and potent out-swinger, which helped him claim 434 wickets in 131 Tests (average 29.64). At the end his career, spanning from 1978 to 1994, Kapil developed a fine in-swinging yorker that he generally used against tail-enders.
Malcolm Denzil Marshall (April 18, 1958 – November 4, 1999)), widely regarded as one of the finest pace bowlers ever to have played Test cricket, used to maintain consistent speed despite being a short man (5ft-11inch). His superb bowling action helped Marshall generate pace on any pitches across the world. From 1978 to 1991, Marshall played 81 Tests for West Indies and claimed 376 wickets at an average of 20.94.
Wasim Akram (born on June 3, 1966), acknowledged as one of the greatest pace bowlers of all time, played 104 Tests for Pakistan. The left-arm fast bowler had the ability to make the ball walk and talk in any condition. Akram, one of the founders of reverse swing bowling, claimed 414 wickets in 104 Tests at an average of 23.62 from 1985 to 2002.
Javagal Srinath (born on August 31, 1969) is one of finest Indian fast bowlers who helped his country win a number of matches especially on foreign soils. He is the only Indian pacer to have claimed more than 300 ODI wickets. Srinath, who spearheaded the Indian bowling ttack from 1991 to 2002, played 67 Tests and claimed 236 wickets at an average of 30.49. He took five wickets in a Test innings 10 times in his career.
Dale Steyn (born on June 27, 1983)) is the best quick bowler in modern day cricket. Steyn, with the best strike rate of all time in Test cricket, occupied the No.1 spot in the ICC Test rankings for a record 263 weeks from 2008 to 2014. So far, he has claimed 417 wickets in 85 matches at an average of 22.30.
Glenn McGrath (born on February 9, 1970) is one of the all-time great Australian bowlers who helped the Baggy Greens dominate world cricket from 1993 to 2007. He claimed 563 wickets in 124 Test matches at an average of 21.64.
Sir Richard John Hadlee (born on July 3, 1951) needs no introduction, as the former New Zealand cricketer is regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers and all-rounders in cricketing history. Between 1973 and 1990, he played 86 Test matches and claimed 431 wickets at an average of 22.29. He was the first bowler to claim more than 400 international wickets in the longest version of the game. Hadlee, the master of conventional swing bowling, also scored 3,124 runs at an average of 27.16 with the help of two centuries and 15 half-centuries.
Jeffrey Thomson (born on August 16, 1950) is a former Australian fast bowler, who used to open the bowling for his country with Dennis Lillee. Many consider them as one of the most dangerous attacking pairs in the history of Test cricket. During an exhibition match against the West Indies in 1975, Thomson delivered a ball at a speed of 160.45km/h. In the very next year, he was timed at 160.58 km/h. However, he did not deliver the fastest ball in cricket history as the speeds were measured out of the hand during that period. However, batting legends, like Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Martin Crowe, claimed that Thomson was the fastest bowler they had ever faced. According to them, Thomson used to deliver ball at 180km/h during his prime time (1972-76). The Aussie pacer played 51 Tests from 1972 to 1985 and claimed 200 wickets at an average of 28.00.
Curtly Ambrose (born on September 21, 1963), the legendary West Indian fast bowler, wanted to become a basketball player. He started playing cricket at a comparatively late age and became one of the greatest pacers of the game. His 6ft-7inch height helped Ambrose bounce the ball unusually high, making it difficult for batsmen to negotiate his delivery. In 1993, he claimed seven Australian wickets while conceding just one run in a Test match. Ambrose played 98 Tests for West Indies from 1988 to 2000 and claimed 405 wickets at an average of 20.99.
Dennis Lillee (July 18, 1949) is a former Australian pacer who will be remembered for his fiery temperament. Lillee started his career as an extremely quick bowler in 1971. However, various stress fractures ended his career in 1984. During those 13 years, he played 70 Tests and claimed 355 at an average of 23.92. He also represented Australia in the first three World Cups from 1975 to 1983.
Shaun Maclean Pollock (born on July 16, 1973), who was basically a bowling all-rounder, represented South Africa in 108 Test matches from 1995 to 2008. Shaun, the nephew of legendary Graeme Pollock and son of former fast bowler Peter Pollock, was the first cricketer from his country to claim more than 400 Test wickets. He bagged 421 wickets in 108 Tests at an average of 23.11.