BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 18: Mitchell Starc of Australia celebrates taking the wicket of Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan during day four of the First Test match between Australia and Pakistan at The Gabba on December 18, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Following the commencement of our countdown last week, here are the next set of spearheads that any world attack would welcome with open arms.

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

SEE ALSO: Top 50 greatest fast bowlers since 1900: 50-41

 

  1. Frank Tyson (England)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1954-59 17 76 18.56 45.40 26.68 72.07 4 1
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1954-59 17 76 18.56 45.40 26.68 72.07 4 1

 

It's remarkable how a bowler can find himself on this list after only playing 17 tests, but Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson was unlike any other bowler. Regarded as one of England's fastest bowlers, Tyson is famously remembered for dismantling the Australians on their home deck taking 28 wickets at 20.82 in the 1954-55 Ashes Series. This was after he finished with figures of one for 160 after 29 overs in the first test. Although Tyson played less test matches than many on this list, I have included him due to the fact his career strike-rate was 26.67 lower than any other bowler during his career. If he kept himself on the park, Tyson could have been one of, if not THE greatest.

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Interesting Stats

Tyson’s career strike rate of 45.42 during the 1950’s was 21.44% lower than the average strike rate for the decade.

37 wickets at 14.46 from 8 tests in swinging conditions.

41 wickets at 9.58 from 12 second innings.

 

 

  1. Morne Morkel (South Africa)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2006-18 86 309 27.66 53.3 33.03 61.76 8 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2010-14 42 152 27.39 54.8 32.54 61.6 5 0

 

Complementing Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander’s pace and swing, Morne Morkel added a new element to this devastating attack with height and steep bounce. The South African beanpole used his 196cm frame to fire in awkward deliveries which made him a handful in the second innings and dangerous across his 86 test career.

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Interesting Stats

121 wickets at 24.37 in the second innings (29.97 era average).

154 wickets at 29.15 in away tests (35.66 era average)

158 wickets at 26.04 in South Africa.

 

 

  1. Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2011-21 61 255 27.57 49.3 30.29 59.06 13 2
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2015-19 42 195 24.97 44.8 29.08 56.71 11 2

 

Australia’s 2015 World Cup hero, Mitchell Starc has the world's most devastating yorker in his arsenal. Criticized more than any fast bowler that I can remember, Starc has continually followed a good test series with a lean test series, yet his record still stacks up with the rest. Under lights, Starc is a handful with the pink-ball, picking up 46 scalps at 18.86 from only 8 tests.

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Interesting Stats

46 wickets from 8 day/night tests at 18.86 (record)

18 wickets at 48.55 in 7 drawn tests.

94 wickets at 28.65 from 25 away tests (era average 33.91)

46 wickets at 18.43 from 7 tests against Sri Lanka.

 

 

  1. Jason Gillespie (Australia)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1996-06 71 259 26.13 54.9 31.98 62.93 8 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2000-04 48 190 25.61 55.4 33.77 64.14 5 0

 

From 1999-2004, Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath became one of the most lethal opening pairs in test cricket. Gillespie took 201 wickets in 52 tests at 25.62, whilst McGrath took 278 wickets from 61 tests at 19.94. On either side of this six-year period, Gillespie struggled with injuries and form, especially in England, taking just 19 wickets at 34.31 in 2001 and 3 wickets at 100 in 2005.

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Interesting Stats

54 wickets at 23.75 from 14 tests in Asia.

110 wickets at 24.68 from 29 tests in Australia.

62 wickets at 40.29 from 24 draws and losses (era average 40.67)

 

 

  1. Jasprit Bumrah (India)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2018-21 24 101 22.79 51.4 26.71 53.73 6 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2018-21 24 101 22.79 51.4 26.71 53.73 6 0

 

In such a short amount of time, no player’s bowling action has been studied more than Jasprit Bumrah’s. His unique run-up, mixed with a sling shot action, topped off by an unorthodox release point, makes Bumrah one of the hardest fast bowlers to pick up in history. Bumrah was the catalyst in India’s 2018-19 test series triumph in Australia with 21 wickets at 17 from four tests. When I revisit this top 50 in another 10 years, I am almost certain Bumrah will finish in the top 10.

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Interesting Stats:

97 wickets in 22 away tests at 22.20 (era average 30.02).

46 wickets in 14 draws and losses at 30.70 (era average 25.31)

32 wickets against Australia in 7 tests at 21.25.

 

 

  1. Neil Wagner (New Zealand)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2012-21 54 229 26.4 52.3 30.05 58.71 9 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
2016-21 33 152 23.23 49.3 28.29 55.93 8 0

 

South African born Neil Wagner moved to New Zealand at age 22 and jumped up the ranks when he took 5 wickets in an over. Yes, you read that correctly, 5 in an over. Wagner’s ascent to test dominance has coincided with New Zealand’s rise to World Test Champions this year. The barometer for their success, Wagner took 6 for 106 against Australia with a broken knuckle on his bowling hand and bowled more than 49 overs with two broken toes in New Zealand’s 2020 test victory against Pakistan.

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Interesting Stats:

167 wickets at 25.65 in Oceania.

43 wickets in 2019 in 6 tests at 17.81.

2nd fastest New Zealander to 200 test wickets (43 tests) =8th fastest in history.

 

 

  1. Neil Adcock (South Africa)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1953-62 26 104 21.10 61.40 27.53 70.43 5 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1956-60 15 61 21.47 61.6 26.71 69.71 3 0

 

Before Pollock, Donald and Steyn, there was Neil Adcock, South Africa’s first fast bowler. While South Africa were still finding their feat as a powerhouse, Adcock’s 104 wickets at 21.11 are to be marveled at.

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Interesting Stats

68 wickets at 19.94 from 17 tests in South Africa.

33 wickets at 19.18 from 7 tests against New Zealand.

63 wickets at 24.50 from 17 draws and losses (era average 33.75)

 

 

  1. Ian Bishop (West Indies)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1989-98 43 161 24.27 52.2 30.13 63.58 6 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1989-94 18 83 20.45 47.1 30.26 64.52 5 0

 

The most underrated fast bowler during the West Indies era of dominance. If it weren't for a career constantly set back by injury, Ian Bishop would be rated up there with Ambrose, Marshall and Walsh if he was able to stay on the park for longer. With a bowling average of under 25 against Australia, England, India and Pakistan, it is clear that he could perform against any opponent.

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Interesting Stats

43 wickets at 23.02 from 11 tests in Australia.

65 wickets at 21.65 in the second innings (era average 28.47)

90 wickets at 24.05 in away tests (era average 31.56)

 

 

  1. Bob Willis (England)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1953-62 90 325 25.20 53.41 29.57 65.06 16 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1977-81 46 174 23.41 52.8 27.32 62.15 4 1

 

The man who bowled probably the greatest Ashes spell of bowling, maybe the greatest spell of bowling ever seen. After finishing with figures of 0-72 off 30 overs in the first innings at Headingly in 1981, England were then bowled out for 174 and were forced to follow on. Led by Botham with the willow, they set Australia a chase of 130 for victory. Bob Willis then went on a rampage taking eight for 43 off 15.1 overs to knock Australia out for 111- all after being a 1/56 chance on the betting market. After battling knee injuries that nearly derailed his career in 1975, Willis bounced back and took 107 wickets at 19.78 between 1977-1978.

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Interesting Stats

176 wickets at 23.51 from 41 tests in England.

47 wickets at 18.77 from 9 tests at Lords in England.

60 wickets in 14 tests against New Zealand at 18.87

204 wickets at 23.37 in 47 tests in swinging conditions.

 

  1. Colin Croft (West Indies)
Career Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1977-82 22 125 23.30 49.32 27.88 63.5 3 0
5-year Tests Wickets Average S/R Era Ave Era S/R 5Wi 10Wi
1977-81 21 121 21.91 45.8 27.46 62.76 3 0

 

A member of the fast-bowling horsemen of the apocalypse, Colin Croft was the nasty one, so I will give him ‘War’. A fast bowler who thrived on inflicting pain, Croft’s angled run-up and unorthodox action became a handful for many test greats. 125 wickets in only 22 tests shows Croft wasn’t just the hitman of the quartet, but his temper will see him infamously remembered, especially after running through an umpire in New Zealand who annoyed him.

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Interesting Stats

66 wickets at 19.71 from 11 tests in the West Indies

50 wickets at 19.56 from 9 tests against Pakistan

44 wickets at 31.65 in the second innings (era average 27.30)

 

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)