ROSEAU, DOMINICA - JUNE 05: Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Marlon Samuels of West Indies during day three of the First Test match between Australia and the West Indies at Windsor Park on June 5, 2015 in Roseau, Dominica. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Part three of our illustrious countdown is here as we work through the top 50 fast bowlers of all-time.

To form this list, I selected a rough list of about 80 fast bowler’s worthy of selection, before then researching their statistics and comparing them all in categories I deemed worthy of excellence.

These categories are as follows:

  • Bowling Average and Strike Rate across their career against every opponent that took a wicket in their time period. For example (Malcolm Marshall took 376 wickets in 81 tests at an average of 20.94 from 1978-1993. I looked at every cricketer that took a wicket during Marshall’s career and subtracted his average from the average of all bowlers 29.97 between 1978-1993)
  • The second category was to appraise how these fast bowlers performed in second innings when the ball losses its swing and is harder to take wickets with.
  • The third category, I compared how all the bowlers in losses and draws. I decided to use this category to see if these top 50 superstars still bowled well and had a good strike rate in tests they did not win.
  • The fourth category, I checked to see how they bowled in test matches played abroad. This indicator is a testament to the great bowlers whose nations could depend on them in any condition.
  • Lucky last, here I researched which bowlers had the most dominant five-year period and just like for the Malcolm Marshall example, compared how dominant they were in that period to everyone else over the half-decade span.

Part 1: 50-41

Part 2: 40-31

Part 4: 20-11

Part 5: 10-1

  1. Mohammad Asif (Pakistan)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2005-10 23 106 24.36 48.7 33.76 60.84 7 1
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2006-10 22 106 23.53 47.7 33.94 61.39 7 1

 

Marred by controversy, Asif will sadly always be remembered as the bowler who bowled deliberate no-balls in 2011 against England and was banned for seven years. At his best, Asif was an amazing bowler and out of the top 50 has the highest average differential when bowling overseas. Asif was able to out-think the best batsmen, and took 96 wickets at 22.59, 14.41 lower than era average!

Pakistan v Australia: 2nd Test - Day One : News Photo

Interesting Stats

64 wickets at 30.35 from 19 draws and losses (era average 42.95)

96 wickets at 22.59 from 19 away tests (era average 36.90)

 

29. Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1997-07 46 178 25.69 45.7 32.38 62.96 12 2
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2002-06 26 119 21.53 38.1 33.82 62.6 10 2

 

There has only been one bowler in the history of cricket to break the 100-mph barrier, and the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ has done it twice. Involved in many controversies during his career, when Akhtar was on song, no one bowled faster and very few were as devastating. He is ranked 6th out of the top 50 for the most devastating five-year periods averaging 21.53 which was 12.29 lower era average for 2002-06.

(FILES)This file picture taken, 14 April : News Photo

Interesting Stats

17 wickets at 5.24 from 2 tests against New Zealand.

17 wickets at 43.25 from 6 tests in Australia.

74 wickets at 21.95 in the second innings (era average 29.16)

6th overall for most devastating 5-year period (Averaged 12.29 less than the era average).

 

 

28. Mitchell Johnson (Australia)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2007-15 73 313 28.4 51.1 33.54 62.79 12 3
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2010-14 34 146 27.63 49.4 32.52 61.8 8 2

 

At his worst frustrating, at his best scintillating. Johnson showed glimpses of how dangerous he could be for many years. A brutal series against South Africa in 2008-09 was backed up by disappointment in England and India. Johnson was overlooked for the 2013 Ashes in England and the constant pressure that built up around him exploded much to the dismay of England and South Africa across 2013 and 2014. Supporting a handlebar moustache for the charity Movember, Johnson sent fear through England not seen since ‘Lillee and Thommo’, taking 37 wickets at 13.97, as the Aussies cleaned up the Ashes winning 5-0. Johnson then travelled with the team to take on the imposing South Africans and destroyed them taking 12 for 127 in the first test.

Australia v England - Second Test: Day 4 : News Photo

Interesting Stats

230 wickets at 25.61 from 47 tests in seaming conditions

33 wickets at 40.36 from 12 tests on spinning conditions

45 wickets at 22.78 from 7 tests at the WACA.

 

 

27. Sir Wes Hall (West Indies)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1958-69 48 192 26.38 54.2 30 71.98 9 1
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1958-63 23 116 21.87 47.5 28.21 69.65 8 1

 

To think one of the Windies greatest bowlers of all time started his cricketing journey as a wicket-keeping batsman. Practically selected out of nowhere for the 1957 tour of England (Hall had played one first class match) he showed his true potential on the hard dust-bowls in the sub-continent taking 46 wickets in eight tests. The average strike-rate during the 1950’s was 66.84 for a fast bowler, Hall was producing on hard wickets with a strike-rate of 42.

Graveney Run Out : News Photo

Interesting Stats

54 wickets at 20.05 in the sub-continent.

Between 1958-59 Hall’s Strike-rate of 42 was 24.84 lower than the decade average of 66.84.

 

26. Ray Lindwall (Australia)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1946-60 61 228 23.03 59.80 26.63 73.29 12 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1947-52 26 104 20.98 54.5 33.88 84.62 5 0

 

Up there with ‘Typhoon Tyson’ as one of the quickest bowlers of the ‘50s. Ray Lindwall’s slingshot action saw him deliver a frightening bouncer, a searing toe-crusher yorker and desperately late out-swingers…a great mix for any fast bowler. Nearly half of Lindwall’s career wickets were clean bowled and he was devastating in England with 60 wickets in 14 tests. Lindwall was Australia’s strike bowler on the 1948 ‘Invincibles’ tour of England.

Lindwall In Action : News Photo

Interesting Stats

60 wickets at 20.97 in 14 tests in England

42 wickets at 17.29 in 8 tests at the SCG

90 wickets at 29 from 28 draws and losses (era average 35.03)

43% of his 228 wickets were bowled.

 

25. Peter Pollock (South Africa)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1961-70 28 116 24.18 56.20 30.32 71.79 9 1
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1961-65 19 89 23.34 54.2 30.27 70.24 8 1

 

The Apartheid robbed many South African’s of international success. Peter Pollock would have most certainly finished with close to 250 test wickets if his career wasn’t cut short at 29 in 1970. Pollock was unplayable in swinging conditions taking 35 wickets in six tests at 17.83, leading the South African’s to a 1-0 series win in England.

Hampshire v South Africans at Southampton 1965 : News Photo

Interesting Stats

60 wickets at 22.23 from 11 away tests (era average 32.00)

35 wickets at 17.83 from 6 tests in swinging conditions.

 

 24. Sir Alec Bedser (England)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1946-55 51 236 24.89 67.40 29.52 74.77 15 5
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1950-54 27 143 19.32 56.8 28.46 75.67 13 3

 

Sir Alec Bedser waited until the end of World War II to taste international cricket at 28, and boy did he make an impact. Bedser carried the English attack for a decade, taking 10 wickets in the fifth test in 1950-51 Ashes helping England win their first test in more than 13 years in Australia. Bedser’s career highlight came during the 1953 Ashes Series, Sir Alec's 39 wickets at 17.49 saw England reclaim the Ashes after 20 long years.

Action Bedser : News Photo

Interesting Stats

Held the record for most test wickets in the world from 1953-1962.

167 wickets at 21.56 from 32 tests in England.

162 wickets at 28.25 from 37 draws and losses (era average 36.86)

69 wickets at 32.98 from 19 away tests (era average 30.40)

 

 

23. John Snow (England)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1965-76 49 202 26.66 59.50 30.78 70.83 8 1
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1968-72 29 127 24.32 56 30.58 74.22 8 1

 

A man named John Snow, born and bred in the North.

John Snow had what all dangerous fast bowlers have, an air of menace. Snow’s intimidation on the pitch was his skill and it was his fast bowling in 1970-71 Ashes that led England to victory. A series marred by controversy, Snow took 31 wickets at 22.84, and his aggressive short pitch bowling was never far from incidents on the field.

Terry Jenner : News Photo

Interesting Stats

31 wickets at 22.84 from 6 tests in Australia

40.6% of Snow’s 202 wickets were top order batsmen.

62 wickets at 20.91 from 12 away tests (era average 31.68)

 

 

22. Alan Davidson (Australia)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1953-63 44 186 20.53 62.2 28.22 71.22 14 2
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1957-61 27 146 19.13 58.3 29.06 71.4 12 2

 

No fast bowler with 10 tests or more in the history of test cricket has a better record than Alan Davidson in the sub-continent. After taking 24 wickets at 19 in the 1958-59 Ashes, Davidson ran through the Indians in India taking 29 wickets at 14.86. In the sweltering heat of Kanpur, Davidson took five for 31 in the first innings, then bowled a mammoth total of 57.2 overs in the second innings, taking seven for 93. Against the Windies in the famous 1960-61 series Davidson took a remarkable 33 wickets in only four tests.

Sport. Cricket. pic: circa 1953. Alan Davidson, Australia all-rounder, who played for Australia in 44 Test matches between 1953-1963. : News Photo

Interesting Stats

44 wickets at 17.86 from 10 tests on spinning wickets (lowest average from a fast bowler in the sub-continent).

102 wickets at 20.10 from 27 away tests (era average 29.78)

 

21. Andy Roberts (West Indies)

Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1974-83 47 202 25.61 55.1 28.95 63.09 11 2
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1974-78 27 134 24.61 51.1 29.7 64.69 9 2

 

One of most feared fast bowlers of the 1970s and 80s, Andy Roberts was the leader of West Indies famed ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. If the confrontational and sometimes, ‘nasty’, Colin Coft is ‘War’, Andy Roberts was always going to be ‘Conquest’. No matter what surface he bowled upon Roberts had success. Roberts took 32 wickets in his first tour of India, 22 wickets at 26.36 against a powerful Australian side in 1975-76 and 26 wickets at 19.18 in the Windies three zip pumping of England in 1976. Roberts was also the Windies leading wicket taker during World Series Cricket and opened the bowling in their back-to-back World Cup victories in 1975 and 1979.…

Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Perth, Dec 1975 : News Photo

Interesting Stats

49 wickets at 21.53 from 9 tests in Asia.

130 wickets at 23.87 from 29 away tests (era average 30.85)

 

The Top 50 so far.

50. Tim Southee (New Zealand)

49. Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka)

48. Stuart Broad (England)

47. N Kapil Dev (India)

46. Trent Boult (New Zealand)

45. Brian Statham (England)

44. Sir Ian Botham (England)

43. Josh Hazlewood (Australia)

42. Vernon Philander (South Africa)

41. Makhaya Ntini (South Africa)

40. Frank Tyson (England)

39. Morne Morkel (South Africa)

38. Mitchell Starc (Australia)

37. Jason Gillespie (Australia)

36. Jasprit Bumrah (India)

35. Neil Wagner (New Zealand)

34. Neil Adcock (South Africa)

33. Ian Bishop (West Indies)

32. Bob Willis (England)

31. Colin Croft (West Indies)

30. Mohammed Asif (Pakistan)

29. Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan)

28. Mitchell Johnson (Australia)

27. Sir Wes Hall (West Indies)

26. Ray Lindwall (Australia)

25. Peter Pollock (South Africa)

24. Sir Alec Bedser (England)

23. John Snow (England)

22. Alan Davidson (Australia)

21. Andy Roberts (West Indies)