Top 5 Best Swing Bowlers Of All-Time

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad for England are amongst the best swing bowlers of all-time in test match cricket.
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The Best Swing Bowlers In Cricket History

In all forms of cricket, wicket-taking ability is crucial. Bowlers win you test matches because you need to take 20 wickets. The best swing, seam and pace bowlers of all-time have exceptional records and achievements. So do the best spinners.

To be able to move the ball, a high level of skill is required. As a result, it is difficult for the batsman to play, unless they can match such skill.

In recent times, Trent Boult, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mitchell Starc have been exceptionally moving the ball in all three formats.

But, who are the top 5 the best swing bowlers in cricket history?

5. Sir Richard Hadlee

New Zealand bowler Richard Hadlee appeals for and gets the wicket of England batsman Bill Athey during the 3rd Test match between England and New Zealand at The Oval, London, 23rd August 1986. The non-striking batsman for England is Graham Gooch, the umpire is David Shepherd, and the New Zealand wicketkeeper is Tony Blain. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

In his time he was referred to as the best swing and seam bowler in the world. Sir Richard Hadlee was one of the best players to ever play cricket and test cricket in particular. His bowling remains the reason as to why New Zealand were competitive during his career.

In just 86 tests, Hadlee picked up 431 wickets at a bowling average of 22.30. Apart from Pakistan, Hadlee averaged below 25 in every country that he bowled in. He was the star performer in New Zealand’s famous and only test series triumph in Australia till this day. He picked up 33 wickets Down Under at a staggering bowling average of 12.15 and moved the ball both ways to cause havoc.

Sir Richard Hadlee is number five on our list of “Top 5 best swing bowlers of all-time.”

4. Malcolm Marshall

Malcolm Marshall of West Indies bowling with a broken thumb on his left hand during the 3rd Test match between England and West Indies at Headingley, Leeds, 14th July 1984. The umpire is David Evans; the batsman for England is Graeme Fowler. West Indies won the match by 8 wickets. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Many experts argue that Malcolm Marshall is the best bowler in test match history. It would be difficult to argue a case against them. Apart from his average of 32 in New Zealand, Marshall averages 24 or below in every other country that he has played in.

376 wickets in 81 matches at a bowling average of 20.95 are very healthy statistics. He swung the ball back into the right-hander and was very accurate at doing so. This meant that he was always bowling a tight line and length and was difficult to get away.

He was lethal in England, picking up 94 wickets at a bowling average of 18.70.

Malcolm Marshall is number four on our list of “Top 5 best swing bowlers of all-time.”


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3. Dale Steyn

Dale Steyn is the best South African swing bowler of all-time.
South African bowler Dale Steyn (C) appeals to the umpire for a decision against Sri Lankan batsman Lahiru Thirimanne (R) during the first day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at The Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on February 13, 2019. (Photo by Anesh DEBIKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANESH DEBIKY/AFP via Getty Images)

The greatest amongst swing bowlers in South Africa. Dale Steyn has forged a fantastic cricketing career with his high-quality skills coming to the fore. He reverted himself to the swing bowling basics early in his career and in doing so became a master of the outswinger to the right-hander.

He formed a lethal bowling trio with Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. Philander was known for his seam bowling strength and Morkel for his bounce. Together they dominated world cricket for close to a decade.

He also had the ability to swing the ball back into the right-hander. Take his spell in Nagpur for example. Steyn destroyed one of the best batting line-ups in Indian history with a reverse-swing masterclass. His 7-51 helped South Africa achieve an innings victory in 2010 and that remains his best spell till date.

Dale Steyn is number three on our list of “Top 5 best swing bowlers of all-time.”

2. Jimmy Anderson

James Anderson has the most wickets in Test matches for England till 2020.
LEEDS, ENGLAND – AUGUST 26: England bowler James Anderson celebrates dismissing Kyle Hope during day two of the 2nd Investec Test match between England and West Indies at Headingley on August 26, 2017 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The best swing bowler in the game currently, Jimmy Anderson has grown his skill set eventually over time. He started off being inconsistent but improved massively over time. 2010 was his breakthrough year with 57 wickets at 22.96, which included a couple of superb bowling spells Down Under. This helped England win their first series in Australia since 1986/87.

Anderson is more known for his ability to move the new ball, especially in English conditions – where he has been lethal against all oppositions. He has taken 384 wickets at 23.84 at home conditions. One of the best things about Jimmy Anderson is the ability to move the ball both ways, without much of a change in action. This makes it very difficult to realise which way the ball is travelling.

Jimmy Anderson is number two on our list of “Top 5 best swing bowlers of all-time.”


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1. Wasim Akram

Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram celebrates after dismissing England batsman Neil Mallender (right) in the 2nd innings on the fourth day of the 5th Test match between England and Pakistan at the Kennington Oval in London, 9th August 1992. Pakistan won by 10 wickets and win the series 2-1. (Photo by David Munden/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The finest exponent of swing bowling with both the new ball and the old ball. Wasim Akram had an incredible skill set and could get the ball to move at will, while still being in complete control of it.

In his 104 tests, he picked up 414 wickets at a bowling average of 23.62. This, despite bowling a lot on flat pitches in Pakistan. In fact, this is perhaps where he learnt the art to move the reverse swinging ball.

With the new ball he would often look for wickets but if he couldn’t find them then he would just contain. Eventually, with Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed bowling from one end, the ball would wear away quickly and be ripe for reverse swing.

He bowled 90 miles per hour plus, which meant that it was very difficult to play him. His 1992 Cricket World Cup spell will forever be remembered for breaking English hearts and winning Pakistan the trophy.

Wasim Akram is number one on our list of “Top 5 best swing bowlers of all-time.”

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