10 Best Fast Bowlers of All Time

Fast bowlers are always a delight to watch. Let’s see which fast bowlers stood out of the crowd in our list of the best fast bowlers of all time. Read on…

It’s been more than 150 years since the first international cricket match was played. The development of this game through the years is astonishing.

Many will acknowledge the fact that cricket has been one of the toughest and equally entertaining sports this world has ever seen. Every facet of the game whether it is willow, leather, or flying bails has given us so many joyous moments. 

But one thing that continues blowing our minds with each passing year, golden era or modern times, is fast bowling.

There is no better sight than watching a bowler swinging the ball and going past the edge of the willow only to sit in the lap of the slip fielder.

Also Read: The 10 Best Batsmen of All Time

Or the blistering pace engulfing the gate between bat and pad. It is no less than any art that can make the most competent batsman look like a dumb kid standing with his inarticulate bat in search of contact with the leather. 

This game has given many such fast bowlers who ruled over the batsmen. Here are the top 10 best fast bowlers of all time. 

The 10 Best Fast Bowlers of All Time in Cricket!

Here’s our list of the 10 best fast bowlers of all time:

Rank NameTotal Wickets
1.Glenn Mcgrath949
2.Sir Richard Hadlee589
3.Dale Steyn699
4.James Anderson908
5.Wasim Akram916
6.Kapil Dev687
7.Curtly Ambrose630
8.Malcolm Marshall533
9.Allan Donald602
10.Zaheer Khan710

10. Zaheer Khan

Two brilliant inswinging yorkers to topple the off stump of the Kenya batsman was the first impression of Zaheer Khan when he made his debut against Kenya in an ODI in 2000.

NameZaheer Khan
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)92/200/17
Career2000-2015
Wickets in ODI282
Wickets in Tests311
Wickets in T2017
Total Wickets710
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)3.27/4.93/7.64
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)32.95/29.44/26.35

He ended up getting 3 wickets in his first match in the international arena. Being born on 7 October 1978, nicknamed “ZAK”, went on to become India’s finest bowler who made a mark on the World stage throughout his career.

He was a stalwart for Indian bowling in his 15 years long career. 

His ability to swing the ball both ways made him stand out from his other counterparts. He was a nightmare to the left-handed batsman.

Graeme Smith, one of the greatest batsmen and captains, was the worst victim of Khan’s riot. He made Smith his bunny by dismissing him 13 times in 25 faceoffs. He troubled some of the established batsmen in the World like Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya and many more. 

In the 2003 World Cup Final, he conceded 67 runs in 7 overs against mighty Australia, which was seen as a villain like-spell that cost India the World Trophy.

But exactly 8 years later, in the 2011 WC final, he went on to bowl a match-winning spell that included 3 consecutive maiden opening overs and 2 wickets.

His accuracy in line and length was commendable. He announced his retirement in 2015 but the nation will always be grateful for his services to Indian Cricket.

9. Allan Donald

The resurgence of South Africa cricket after the apartheid era was mostly taken forward on the shoulders of Allan Donald.

NameAllan Anthony Donald
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)72/164/-
Career1991-2003
Wickets in ODI272
Wickets in Tests330
Wickets in T20
Total Wickets602
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.84/4.15/-
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)22.25/21.79/-

With a bowling action that looked like a bow getting stretched to release an arrow and an athletic rhythm, Donald’s career was full of raw aggression and dominance. He made his debut against India in an ODI in 1991. 

No one can forget that ferocious spell against the Waugh brothers in Sydney Test 1997-98. Both were batting with over 100 balls being played but still couldn’t escape Donald’s storm. They were struggling like kids against him.

Eventually, Steve Waugh succumbed and got bowled by Donald. He ended up taking 3 wickets in the innings. 

His Test career ended in 2002 due to injuries with over 300 wickets against his name. He retired from all forms in the succeeding year. He was nicknamed “White Lightning” because of his powerful presence.

8. Malcolm Marshall

Malcolm Denzil Marshall made his debut for the West Indies in a Test match against India in 1978. After taking only one wicket in his not so lethal first-ever spell, no one would’ve imagined what this man is capable of in the future. 

NameMalcolm Marshall
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)81/136/-
Career1978-1992
Wickets in ODI157
Wickets in Tests376
Wickets in T20
Total Wickets533
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.69/3.54/-
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)20.95/26.96/-

Malcolm was one of the most intelligent fast bowlers of all time. He had everything, pace, bounce, two-way swing, yorker and a slower one in his armour.

The memory of a renowned spell to young Steve Waugh, where he set him up with two out-swinging deliveries and then destroying his stumps with a good length in-swinging bowl, is still etched in everyone’s minds. 

His best came against England in 1984 at Headingley where he took 7 wickets for 53 runs in the 2nd innings of the match. He bundled out England at 159 runs, riding West Indies to a thumping victory by 8 wickets.

He took 376 wickets in just 81 matches that he played. He was a behemoth in those good old times for the West Indies Cricket. 

7. Curtly Ambrose

An ever-joyous, 6 feet 7 inches tall West Indies giant, SIR Curtly Ambrose made his debut against Pakistan in 1988.

NameSir Curtly Ambrose
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)98/176/-
Career1988-2000
Wickets in ODI225
Wickets in Tests405
Wickets in T20
Total Wickets630
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.31/3.48/-
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)20.99/24.13/-

In his inaugural series, he took 10 wickets in 3 matches that included 2 four-wicket hauls. With height as an advantage, he used to generate consistent natural bounce from good length which were uncomfortable to the batsmen all over the World. 

In the 1993 Perth Test, the World witnessed a beast of Sir Curtly Ambrose when he bowled an insane and equally magical spell in which he took 7 Australian wickets in the span of just 1 run and 32 deliveries that led the WI to an innings and 25 runs victory in the match.

Another spell that marked his brilliance came in 1994 against England in which he picked 6 scalps to bundle out the opponent for just 46 runs in the 4th innings of the match.

West Indies won the match by 147 runs. He delivered countless genius spells that show how good of a bowler he was. 

In 2000, he became only the 5th bowler and 2nd West Indian to pick 400 Test wickets. In the same year, he retired from Cricket.

He ended his career with 405 Test and 225 ODI wickets. This sport will be forever gratified to witness such a player. 

6. Kapil Dev

Next up on our list of the best fast bowlers of all time is Kapil Dev. Kapil is one of the greatest bowlers and all-rounders that India and the World have ever sighted. With a robust run-up and an open-chest bowling action, he was also the most disciplined and fearless cricketer of all time. 

NameKapil Dev
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)131/225/-
Career1978-1984
Wickets in ODI253
Wickets in Tests434
Wickets in T20
Total Wickets687
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.78/3.72/-
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)29.65/27.45/-

His best performance came against the mighty West Indies in 1983, when he took 9 wickets in the 4th innings of the Test Match. Picking that many wickets against the powerful West Indies team of that era remark a feat of his own.

In 1994 he surpassed Sir Richard Hadlee’s record of 431 wickets to become the leading wicket-taker.

Kapil Dev’s biggest accomplishment was his leadership that made India the World Cup winner in 1983 for the first time by beating the then-defending champion. It changed Indian cricket and the perception of this game forever. 

He lasted 131 Tests and 225 ODIs and is the only cricketer to take over 400 Test wickets and 5000 runs with the bat.

To actively play that many matches, is a testament to his fitness that is so rare in this gentlemen’s game.

Moreover, he inspired a whole generation of the country to take Cricket as a career. Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar are some greats that grew up watching his miracles. It would be a wonder if someone like him gets into the Indian team in future. 

5. Wasim Akram

It is no wonder for the fact that Pakistan has produced one of the best fast bowlers in Cricket. The impact of their quicks is the most gifted thing of all.

NameWasim Akram
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)104/356/-
Career1985-2003
Wickets in ODI502
Wickets in Tests414
Wickets in T20
Total Wickets916
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.59/3.9
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)23.62/23.53

Wasim Akram was one such bowler who can abruptly swing the bowl both ways. He had a rare ability to get the reverse swing whenever he wanted at any particular moment of the game.

Akram made his debut against New Zealand in an ODI in 1984. Two months later, he appeared for his first-ever Test match for Pakistan.

Just in his 2nd Test match, he took a fifer in both the innings of the Test. That day, everyone came to know that he is in for a great career. There were not many bowlers who could take the wickets of both Ponting and Gilchrist in the very first over of the match.

Akram did that in an ODI in 2002 in the span of 3 balls. His best came against New Zealand in 1994 in the 2nd Test match, where he took 4 wickets in his first and 7 wickets in the 2nd innings that helped Pakistan to earn a win by an innings and 12 runs. 

After a successful career, Akram announced his retirement after the 2003 World Cup. He ended his feat of 414 test wickets and a whopping 502 ODI wickets. He will always remain in the memories of Cricket fans who cherish fast bowling. 

4. James Anderson

James Anderson is the greatest and most consistent fast bowler of this era. He made his debut in 2002 against Australia in an ODI. He was a decent bowler with white leather in his hands but he is made for Test cricket and there is no second thought about that. 

NameJames Anderson
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)163/194/19
Career2002-still going
Wickets in ODI269
Wickets in Tests621
Wickets in T2018
Total Wickets908
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.84/4.92/7.85
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)26.61/29.22/30.67

He has a sidearm loop action. His bowling armour is full of inswings, out swings and as the ball gets old, he does reverse swing like no other. Anderson is absolutely brutal in his home conditions which are overcast and a little bit windy.

The Kohli-Anderson battle would be the highlight of his career. In 2014, he took the wicket of Kohli 4 times in the 5 match series.

Moreover, Sachin Tendulkar who is attributed as GOD, got out 9 times to Anderson. This is the most he had fallen to any bowler. He has troubled every other batsman throughout his career.

The best thing about him is that he is 39 and still has the same spark which he carried all along with his career. Jimmy has reached the age where every bowler takes retirement or at least thinks about it but he is still going strong.

He is now the leading wicket-taker among all the fast bowlers of all time with 621 wickets against his name, securing the #4 spot on our list of the best fast bowlers of all time.

3. Dale Steyn

“Steyn-gun”. Need I say more? The fieriest, drop-dead accurate bowler that Cricket has ever produced across the formats. The colour of the bowl or the face of the batsman, even the most terrible conditions to bowl in, had never bothered him.

NameDale Steyn
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)93/125/47
Career2004-2019
Wickets in ODI196
Wickets in Tests439
Wickets in T2064
Total Wickets699
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)3.25/4.88/6.95
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)22.95/25.96/18.36

If the conditions are overcast, he’d swing. If the pitch is hard, he’d pace you out. One of the most spellbinding presences that Steyn used to bring on the field is unmatched. 

He made his Test debut against England in 2004 along with a fellow named AB de Villiers, who is another great. Steyn’s best came against Pakistan in the 1st Test of the 2013 Test series where he took 6 wickets for 8 runs in the 1st innings to bundle out Pakistan for just 49 runs.

In the same match, he took 5 wickets in the 4th innings assuring a win by 211 runs. The best memory of his white-ball journey is the 2018-19 ODI series against Australia, where he was making a comeback from an injury. He took 13 wickets in 3 ODIs. 

If not for the injuries, Steyn would have taken a lot more wickets and ruled all over the World. He ended his Cricket campaign with 439 Test wickets in just 93 matches and 196 ODI wickets. There will be no other bowler like Steyn. Repeat it.

2. Sir Richard Hadlee

Originating from a small country, New Zealand, Richard Hadlee himself wouldn’t have thought that he’d get people to call him Sir right before his name. Some fast bowlers intimidate through their aggression but Sir Hadlee was different.

NameSir Richard Hadlee
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)86/115/-
Career1973-1990
Wickets in ODI158
Wickets in Tests431
Wickets in T20
Total Wickets589
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.78/3.34/-
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)22.3/21.56/-

He was all about skill. With a smooth action and equally accurate line, he carried the burden of his nation throughout his career beautifully. 

Sir Hadlee debuted against Pakistan in 1973 but his dream spell came against Australia in 1985-86 at Gabba where he completely shattered their batting by taking 15 wickets in the match.

He took 9 wickets in 1st innings and 6 wickets in the 2nd. No one has ever seen something like that before. 

Hadlee was the first bowler in history to reach 400 Test wickets. He ended his career with 431 Test wickets in just 83 matches.

He was equally good in ODIs where he took 158 wickets in 115 matches. The legend was a genuine match-winner as he could bat pretty well. His higher score in Test cricket is 151. He’d be on anyone’s list of the best fast bowlers of all time.

1. Glenn Mcgrath

There haven’t been many personalities that can touch the word ‘aura’. But Glenn Mcgrath did not only touch that word, he snatched and owned it completely. 

NameGlenn Mcgrath
Matches (Tests/ODI/T20I)124/250/2
Career1993-2007
Wickets in ODI381
Wickets in Tests563
Wickets in T205
Total Wickets949
Economy (Tests/ODI/T20I)2.5/3.88/9.88
Average (Tests/ODI/T20I)21.64/22.02/15.8

He was the simplest looking bowler that the cricket fraternity had ever seen. An ordinary tall action with a very polite looking face and a cool mind were some of the first impressions of Glenn, yet he was so lethal with his pure line and lengths.

He had the rare ability to throw all the six balls exactly at the same place. Such was his accuracy. 

Mcgrath made his debut in a Test against New Zealand in 1993. But his biggest juncture came in 2004 against Pakistan in Perth where he bullied them with his figures of 8 wickets for 24 runs to exterminate the opposition for 72 runs.

He ended his cricket campaign with 563 wickets in 124 Tests. He also took 381 ODI wickets in 250 matches. He would have gone far more than he went if he wouldn’t have to battle out the problem he faced in his personal life. Mcgrath must be at the top of everyone’s list of best fast bowlers of all time.

Conclusion 

These were the 10 best fast bowlers of all time who made this game of willow and leather more beautiful. Cricket has given many good fast bowlers apart from these 10, but not everyone is going to make everybody’s list.

There are bowlers like Trent Boult, Mitchel Starc, Pat Cummins, Jasprit Bumrah who are still young and on their way to becoming great.

Cricket is blessed to have something like fast bowlers who make the game more fascinating and the battles more ferocious.

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