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Thread: The Ashes: top 50 Ashes bowlers

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    Thumbs up The Ashes: top 50 Ashes bowlers

    The Ashes: top 50 Ashes bowlers

    Merv Hughes, the Australian bowler

    1. Shane Warne – ‘The ball of the century’ that flummoxed Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993, the first delivery he sent down in Ashes cricket, set the

    tone for a magical career against England that gave him 195 (of his 708 Test) wickets. That included 11 five-wicket hauls and four 10-wicket

    matches. He even took 40 wickets in England’s summer of triumph four years ago. English crowds loved to hate him, but they always respected him. Mind

    games, endless bowling variations (some announced in the media but later shown to be only nominally different in matches) and the coaxing of umpires were all part of his showmanship and genius.

    2. Dennis Lillee – Genuine pace, aggression, swing and cut coupled with a sublime action saw this legendary Australian showman take 167 of his 355

    Test wickets against England. His Ashes wicket haul was 31 at 17.67 in 1972, and 25 at 23.84 in 1974-75, when he bowled in deadly tandem with the

    equally aggressive Jeff Thomson. He is often described as ‘the complete bowler’, but he was often involved in controversy. The moustache, head-

    and sweatbands made for a terrifying sight for batsmen. He retired as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket.

    3 Ian Botham – Those whirlwind centuries in 1981 were crucial to England’s Ashes win, but equally pivotal was his amazing spell of five for one in 28

    balls, at Edgbaston, after he had been talked into bowling by Mike Brearley. He had slowed down by the 1986-87 series, but his spell of five for 41 on the

    opening day of the Melbourne Test was another hammer blow for the Aussies and was a major factor in them losing the series. He took 148 Ashes

    wickets in all with a potent mixture of pace, skill, swing, seam, charisma and just a smidgen of good fortune.

    4. Glenn McGrath - Remorselessly accurate and indefatigably persistent when it came to hunting English scalps. Took 157 Ashes wickets out of a total haul

    of 563 in Tests. Had a particular liking for Mike Atherton, dismissing him 19 times in 17 Tests. Half of one of the all-time great Test partnerships, with

    Warne. His injury absences during England’s triumph in 2005 were a crucial factor, but he stayed fit in 2006-07 to help Australia win back the Ashes, before retiring.

    5. Sydney Barnes – The Lancashire fast bowler was, according to many, the bowler of the twentieth century. He was one of the first to make expert use

    of the seam; he was also a fine swing bowler and used spin to deadly effect. He was selected for the 1901-02 tour on the back of a single net against

    England captain Archie McLaren. He took 13 for 163 at Melbourne in the second Test of the series. Of his 106 Ashes wickets (at 21.58), 19 came at

    17 apiece in 1901-02; 24 at 26.08 in 1907-08; 17 at 20 in 1909 and 34 at 22.88 in 1911-12.

    6. Harold Larwood – The Nottinghamshire fast bowler executed Douglas Jardine’s controversial ‘leg-theory’ tactics in the 1932-33 Bodyline series to

    perfection; he took 33 wickets at just under 20, and subdued Don Bradman, who was restricted to an average of ‘only’ 56 in that series. Was at the

    centre of particular controversy at Adelaide when Bill Woodfull and Bert Oldfield were struck on the heart and head respectively. Gentle, modest but

    utterly loyal to Jardine, he took 64 of his 78 Test wickets against Australia at an average of 29.87, but that did not stop them taking him to their hearts when he chose their country to spend his retirement.

    7. Jim Laker – Had a trying first Ashes series in 1948, but the Surrey off-spinner’s performance at Old Trafford in 1956, when he took 19-90,

    immortalised him forever in Ashes lore (he also took 11 wickets in the previous Test and seven in the next). His Austrian wife asked him as he

    returned home from Manchester: “Jim, did you do something good today?” after she had taken a series of congratulatory phone calls. He took 79 Ashes wickets in total at 18.27 apiece.

    8. Terry Alderman – Graham Gooch’s nemesis. The Australian who bowled like a traditional English swing bowler, bowling stumps to stumps, revelled over

    here. He took 42 wickets at 21.26 in 1981 (no Australian has taken more in an Ashes series) only to struggle (1-84) in 1982-83 (he even damaged a

    shoulder tackling a pitch invader). Back in England, though, it was back to business, with 41 wickets at 17.36 in 1989. Against his fast-medium out-

    swingers and off-cutters, Gooch struggled so much against him he asked to be dropped. He also did pretty well in Australia in 1990-91, however, with 16

    wickets at 26.75. He took 100 Ashes wickets in total at just 21.17 apiece.

    9. Hedley Verity – The Yorkshire slow left-armer had more success than anyone bowling to Don Bradman in Tests, dismissing eight times. “I could

    never claim to have completely fathomed Hedley’s strategy, for it was never static or mechanical,” wrote Bradman. Verity took 59 Ashes wickets in 18

    Tests against Australia, including 11 (at 24.63), playing a holding role at the other end to Harold Larwood & Co, on the Bodyline tour. He took 24

    Australian wickets in England in 1934, including 15 (for 104) at Lord's, the last time the hosts defeated Australia at their HQ.

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    10. Alec Bedser – The great Surrey bowler took Bradman’s wicket six times in Tests, earning him a deserved place in my top 10. He was powerfully-built

    and naggingly accurate, a medium-fast bowler with a classical action who ran in off a short run and explored the 'corridor of uncertainty' with utmost

    diligence. In 1953, aged 35, he spearheaded England’s Ashes victory with 39 wickets at 17.48, including 14 for 99 at Nottingham. He took 69 wickets at

    16.8 apiece in successive series (1950-51 and 1953) against Australia, and took 104 Ashes wickets in total at 27.49 apiece.

    11. Bill O’Reilly – New South Wales’s Tiger, one of the greatest ever spinners, would propel his leggies at a fearsome pace – 102 English wickets came out

    of a total of 144. He helped secure the Ashes at Headingley in 1938, taking

    five for 66 and five for 56. His best Ashes figures were the seven for 54 he took in Australia’s win at Trent Bridge in 1934.

    12. Ray Lindwall – The Australian was short for a fast bowler but had a deadly out-swinger and a nasty, sparingly used bouncer. He was effective in

    all conditions and was a masterful exponent of late swing. He took exactly half – 114 – of his 228 Test wickets against England. That included 18

    wickets at 20 in 1946-47, 27 at 19 in 1948, 15 at 22.93 in 1950-51 and 26 at 18 in 1953. In the 1948 series he took six for 20 at The Oval as England were

    bowled out for 52. He played three more series, in 1954-55, 1956 and 1958-59, without quite revisiting those early glories. He formed a fine bowling partnership with Keith Miller.

    13. Jeff Thomson – Batsmen were understandably in awe of this Australian tearaway fast bowler with the slinging action. He took 33 wickets and formed

    a deadly duo with Lillee in 1974-75, 16 in England at 28.56 in 1975 and 23 at 25.34 over here again in 1977. There was also a stunning renaissance in

    1982-83, when he took 22 wickets as a measly 18.68 each, although he could not repeat the trick in England in 1985, which proved one series too

    many. In total he took 100 Ashes wickets at 24 apiece. He also liked hitting English batsmen, and aiming a few blunt barbs in their direction.

    14. Bob Willis – The fast bowler finished the job off that Botham had so miraculously started at Headingley in 1981, taking eight for 43 in the second

    innings. He also took seven for 78 in the drawn Lord’s Test of 1977. Of his 325 Test wickets, 128 came against Australia at an average of 26.14.

    15. John Snow – The intense fast bowler took 31 wickets to help England win the 1970-71 Ashes in Australia. In the final Test he struck spinner Terry

    Jenner with a bouncer and was pelted with beer cans by Aussie fans, leading to an England walk-off. The situation was restored, however, and Snow was

    captain Ray Illingworth’s key weapon with the ball, as England won the Ashes.

    16. Clarrie Grimmett – The Australian leg-spinner took 11 wickets at Sydney in the final Test of the 1924-25 series on his Ashes debut. He then went to

    England and took seven wickets in the match at Headingley. He signed off his Ashes career by taking match figures of eight for 167 at The Oval in 1934. In

    all, he took 106 Ashes wickets at 32.44 apiece, and he gave captains such control, conceding only 2.25 runs per over – supremely tight for a leggie. He

    used to speed through his overs, to the annoyance of bowlers at the other end who wanted a breather.

    17. Fred Spofforth – Known as ‘Demon’, he was described as Australia’s ‘first true fast bowler’, though actually he relied more on accuracy and stamina

    rather than outright pace. All 94 of his Test wickets came against England. His analysis of 14 for 90 (seven for 46 and seven for 44) against England at

    The Oval in 1882, in the match that led to The Sporting Times publishing their mock obituary of English cricket, still stands as the second-best

    performance in a match by an Australian bowler in Test history. He also took seven for 44 at Sydney in 1883.

    18. Bobby Peel – The slow left-armer from Yorkshire took 101 Ashes wickets at 16.98 – exceptional figures. That included six for 67 to bowl England to

    victory at Sydney in 1894, and eight for 53 at the Oval in 1896.

    19. Keith Miller – The paceman grabbed 87 of his 170 Test wickets against England, although he never bettered the seven for 60 he took in the first

    innings of his Ashes debut at Brisbane in 1946. He also took 10 wickets in the Lord’s Test (five for 72 and five for 80) in 1956 at the age of 36. A

    belligerent bowler, he loved bowling bouncers.

    20. George Lohmann – The English seamer had a remarkable record against Australia, taking 77 wickets at 13 apiece. In 1886 at The Oval he took seven

    for 36 and five for 68 as England won by an innings. He then recorded figures of eight for 35 at Sydney in 1887, and eight for 52 at the same venue in 1892

    . He took 10 wickets in Ashes Tests five times in 18 matches. He could seam it both ways and was constantly experimenting.

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    21. Fred Trueman – He had a frustrating Ashes career. The fiery Yorkshireman was ignored in 1954 until the final Test, in which he took four

    wickets, and overlooked in favour of Tyson in 1954-55. Performed well in 1958-59, and his finest Ashes hour was in 1961; his best performance was

    taking six for 30 in the second innings of the third Test at his home ground of Headingley. Took five for 58 in the first innings, to give him match figures of

    11 for 88 in an eight-wicket win that put series level at 1-1, although Australia went on to win 2-1. He took 79 Ashes wickets at 25.30 apiece.

    22. Frank Tyson – The Typhoon only played 17 Tests, eight of which were against Australia. In those matches he took 32 wickets at 25.31 apiece. He will always be remembered for an extraordinary 1954-55 Ashes campaign; picked ahead of

    Fred Trueman, he struggled at Brisbane, taking one for 160, but then recorded match figures of 10 for 130 in the Sydney Test, nine for 95 at Melbourne, six for 132 at Adelaide, and two for 66 at Sydney. He failed to repeat the success Down

    Under in 1959, taking three for 293 in the series. A cerebral figure, he liked quoted Shakespeare and Wordsworth to batsmen.

    23. Merv Hughes – The moustachioed Australian was one of the game's great characters, but he was also a pretty decent fast bowler who held his own in some formidable sides. He recovered from a pounding at the hands of Ian Botham in 1986

    to take 19 wickets in 1989 Ashes, including that cunning slower ball to deceive Chris Broad at Headingley, 15 in 1990-91, and a fabulous 31 in 1993. In total he took 75 Ashes wickets at 30.25. Also some of the all-time best sledges.

    24. Wilfred Rhodes – The slow left-armer was recalled by England at The Oval at the age of 48 in 1926, and dismissed Bill Woodfull, Bill Ponsford, Arthur Richardson (twice), captain Herbert Collins, and Warren Bardsley. He was supremely

    accurate, although not a big turner of the ball. His best Ashes series were in 1902, when he took 22 wickets at 15.27 apiece, and 1903-04, when he took 31 at 15.74. In total he took 109 Ashes wickets at an average of 24.

    25. Derek Underwood – ‘Deadly’ bowled England to one of the most dramatic wins in the history of Tests when, with six minutes left against Australia at The Oval in 1968, he took his fourth wicket in 27 balls. That secured a 226-run win which

    squared the series, even though lunchtime rain which flooded the ground had allowed only 75 minutes of the last four hours to be played. The Kent left-arm spinner, who was quick as a medium-pacer, took 105 Ashes wickets at 26.38 apiece.

    26. Johnny Briggs – Lancashire’s slow left-armer took 97 Ashes wickets at 20.55. His most notable performances were 11 for 74 at Lord’s in 1896; 12 for 136 at Adelaide in 1892; 10 for 148 at the Oval in 1893.

    27. Hugh Trumble – Australia’s tall, moustachioed off-spinner took 141 Ashes wickets at 20.88. He was particularly deadly on wet wickets. Six for 59 and six for 30 at The Oval in 1896, and four for 108 and eight for 65 at the same ground in 1902,

    but both matches ended in defeat. Match figures of 10 for 128 at Old Trafford in 1902 resulted in a three-run win, though. His best figures came in his final Ashes innings, at Melbourne in 1904, when he took seven for 28.

    28. Monty Noble – An Australian who bowled slow-medium, and something called ‘swerve-spin’, developed through his passion for baseball, it seems – apparently it ‘quite puzzled the Englishmen’. He took Ashes 115 wickets at 24.86 apiece.

    His best Ashes Tests were at Melbourne in 1902, when he took 13 for 77 in a 229-run win, and at Bramall Lane, Sheffield in 1902, when he recorded figures of 11 for 103 as his side won by 143 runs.

    29. George Giffen – A slow-medium bowler with the speciality of a ‘high-tossed slower ball’, he was known as the ‘WG Grace of Australia’. He took 103 Ashes wickets at an average of 27.09. His best performances were the seven for 117 he

    recorded at Sydney in an eight-wicket win in 1885, and the seven for 128 he took at The Oval in 1893, albeit in an innings defeat.

    30. Charlie Turner – The Australian delivered off-breaks and leg-cutters at fast-medium … no wonder he was nicknamed The Terror. He took 101 Ashes wickets at 16.53 apiece, with two 10-wicket matches – at Sydney in 1888, when he took 12

    for 87, in a match England won, and his subsequent Ashes appearance five months later, when he took 10 for 63 at Lord’s in an Australian victory.

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    31. Tom Richardson – The finest fast bowler of his age, he took five wickets four times in his first five Ashes innings, with

    11 five-wicket hauls in 25 analyses, and four 10-wicket match hauls in 14 Ashes Tests. His best figures were eight for 94 in Australia's six-wicket win at Sydney in 1898. In all he took 88 Ashes wickets at 25.22 apiece.

    32. Billy Barnes – A seam bowler who later became a pub landlord. He took 51 Ashes wickets at 15.54 apiece. In 1886, in his third Ashes Test at The Oval, he took seven for 36 and five for 68 as England beat Australia by an innings. In 1885, at

    Melbourne, he bowled England into a 2-0 Ashes lead with second-innings figures of 38.3-26-31-6. At Sydney two years later he took six for 28 off 46 (four-ball) overs in an England victory. He took 10 wickets in Ashes Tests five times in 18 matches.

    33. Geoff Lawson – He could be fearsome, he swung it, he was pacy and he out-thought batsman – no wonder he took 97

    Ashes wickets at 28.48 apiece. He took seven for 81 at Lord’s in 1981; 11 for 134 at Brisbane in 1982, and, although he had slowed down and was by then relying more on nous, he took 29 wickets in 1989.

    34. Alan Davidson – Australian left-arm quick who took 84 Ashes wickets at 23.76. His Ashes career was slow to take off –

    he failed to take more than two wickets in an innings in his first 10 Tests against England, but came good in the New Year’s Eve Test of 1958 at Melbourne when he recorded match figures of nine for 105.

    35. Jason Gillespie – The 2005 series was rather a sad Ashes end for him, as up until then he had been a formidable warrior, in partnership with Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. He took 16 wickets at an average of 20 in 1997, 19 at 34 in

    2001 and 20 at 24 in 2002-03. In total he took 65 Ashes wickets at 29.03. Nasser Hussain rated him almost as highly as McGrath.

    36. Craig McDermott – A bustling, flame-haired Queenslander who took 84 Ashes wickets at 26.30 – including 30 in his

    debut six-Test series in 1985. He then took 18 wickets in two Ashes Tests in 1991, including eight for 97 at Perth; and a terrific 32 wickets in 1994-95, including six for 38 at Perth in his final Ashes innings.

    37. Richie Benaud – The broadcasting great was also a top Australian leg-spinner, who took 83 Ashes wickets at 31.81. It

    took him until his 16th Ashes Test to make a massive impact, when he took nine for 177 at Sydney in 1959, and followed that up with nine for 171 at Adelaide.

    38. Joey Palmer – An Australia spinner who bowled at medium pace, who took 78 Ashes wickets at 21.51. His finest series

    against England was in 1881-82 when he took 24 wickets at 21.75 apiece, including 11 for 165 and nine for 90, both at Sydney.

    39. Bill Johnston – An Australian who could bowl left-arm seam and spin, he took 75 Ashes wickets at 24.24. He recorded

    figures of nine for 183 at Trent Bridge in the first Test of Don Bradman’s 1948 ‘Invincibles’ tour on his Ashes debut. That remained his finest performance against England.

    40. Bob Massie – While not the greatest Ashes performer, he certainly produced the greatest Ashes bowling performance. The Australian fast-medium swing bowler took 16 for 137 on his Test debut at Lord’s. He went on to take seven more

    wickets in three Tests in that series, but then played only two more Tests, performing quite well in Pakistan, before he was dropped forever.

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    41. Andrew Flintoff – ‘Freddie’ was in devastating form with the ball in 2005, taking 24 wickets, 15 of whom were left-handers. Adam Gilchrist is probably still having nightmares about it – he had his least productive Ashes and was dismissed

    by him five times. Too much on his shoulders as captain in 2006-07, and he seems he is struggling for form and fitness this summer in his Test swansong.

    42. Darren Gough – He may have never been an Ashes winner, but the Australians always regarded the Yorkshireman as

    one of their own – a man who seemed as if he would run through bricks wall for his country, he took 74 Ashes wickets at 30.81.

    43. Brian Statham – Trueman’s foil, he took 69 wickets against Australia at 30.98 apiece. That record does not compare that well with his overall figures (252 wickets at 24.84), but there were several notable displays. In particular he liked bowling

    at Melbourne, where he took five for 60 in the first innings in 1954 in an England win, and seven for 57, again in Australia’s first knock, although Australia won that match.

    44. Garth McKenzie – The Australian with the easy action and mean bouncer was picked as a teenager for his first Ashes tour as a teenager and took 11 wickets in three Tests, including five for 37 in the second innings at Lord’s. He then took 20

    wickets at 30.95 in the 1962-63 series, 29 at 22.55 in 1964 and 16 at 29.18 in 1965-66. His final two Ashes series produced more moderate figures - 13 at 45.76 in 1968 and only seven at 50.14 in 1970-71 - before he put Leicestershire

    ahead of his country, helping them to their first county championship. In total he took 96 Ashes wickets at 31.34 apiece.

    45. Bill Voce – Harold Larwood’s partner-in-crime in the Bodyline series, the Nottinghamshire left-arm paceman was not as quick as his county team-mate, but could produce steep, disconcerting bounce. He took 15 wickets in four Tests in that

    series, missing the fourth because of injury. On the 1936-37 trip, when captain Gubby Allen insisted Bodyline was not deployed, Voce took six for 41 and four for 16 in the first Test at Brisbane. In the next Test at Sydney his spell of three for

    one in four balls (including the wicket of Don Bradman) helped reduce Australia to 80 all out. He took four for 10 and three for 66 in the match. He took 41 Ashes wickets at 27.51 each in 11 Ashes Tests (all in Australia).

    46. Rodney Hogg – Blond and menacingly quick, he made his first Test appearance against England in the 1978-79 series, taking advantage of the absence of his more well-known compatriots at the World Series to take a stunning 41 wickets in

    the six Tests, including six for 74 on his Ashes debut. Did not shine in England in the 1981 series, but took 11 wickets in three Tests in 1982-83 as Australia regained the Ashes, leaving him with a very respectable 56 wickets at 17 apiece against England.

    47. John James Ferris – If the Australians branded Martin McCague, Craig White and Alan Mullally as turncoats, what did they make of this fella? The left-arm quick bowler known as JJ played for Australia and then England. He appeared in eight

    Tests for the Australians against the Poms with deadly effect. He finished with match figures of nine for 103 at Sydney, then took nine for 140 at the same venue a month later. Later he took eight for 45 in the match at Lord’s in 1888, and nine

    for 74 at The Oval in 1890. He then recorded figures of 13 for 91 against South Africa in his only Test for England.

    48. Bruce Reid – I will always remember the beanpole left-armer being hit for 18 in one over by Allan Lamb in the World Series on the 1986-87 tour, but he was a fine Ashes performer, taking 47 wickets at 20.40. He took 20 wickets at 26.35 as

    the Aussies lost to Mike Gatting’s side that winter, but he enjoyed his revenge when he finished with 27 wickets at only 16

    apiece in 1990-91, including 13 wickets at Melbourne. His spindly body was built for propelling the ball with pace and bounce, but not designed for a long career, sadly.

    49. Maurice Tate – a Sussex and England seamer who bowled with pace and heart. He was renowned for delivering long spells, and on the 1924-25 tour he broke Arthur Mailey’s record of 36 wickets in a Test series, taking 38 at 23.18. He also

    performed well in England in 1926, taking 13 at 29.84. He was more expensive in 1928-29 and 1930, but still ended with 83 Ashes wickets at 30.60.

    50. George Ulyett – the right-arm, round-arm seam bowler took 48 Ashes wickets at only 20.66 each. His finest display was

    at Lord’s in 1884, when Lord Harris surprisingly brought him on at the expense of Edmund Peate. Yorkshireman Ulyett justified the decision, however, taking seven for 36.

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