The top 5 best New Zealand bowlers of all-time

Tim Southee and Trent Boult both feature on the list of the best New Zealand bowlers of all-time.
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Ranking New Zealand’s greatest ever bowlers

New Zealand has always been a fast bowling country and there should be no surprise that four of the five picks on the list of the best New Zealand bowlers of all-time are seamers. The nation itself offers pitches that suit the pacers, due to the tinge of green that is available in most games.

This means that such surfaces are suitable for swing and seam bowling. It is in such conditions, where New Zealand has thrived over the years. They recently reached the number one ranking in test cricket and are also the first team in the World Test Championship to make the final. The likes of Kyle Jamieson, who is still a rookie at Test match level, has prospered in home conditions.

So, who are the top 5 best New Zealand bowlers of all-time?

5. Tim Southee

NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND – JANUARY 23: Tim Southee of New Zealand bowls during game one of the One Day International series between New Zealand and India at McLean Park on January 23, 2019 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

One of New Zealand’s most underrated bowlers, Tim Southee features at number 5 on this list. A right-arm swing bowler by trade, Southee can deliver devastating spells. He picked up 7-33 to crush England in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

In test match cricket, he has been much more consistent for New Zealand and has picked up wickets regularly, particularly at home. He has picked up 189 wickets at a bowling average of 27 at home.

4. Trent Boult

The likes of Kane Williamson and Trent Boult feature in the New Zealand all-time test XI.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 13: Trent Boult of New Zealand celebrates with teammates after dismissing Darren Bravo of West Indies during day three of the second test match in the series between New Zealand and the West Indies at Basin Reserve on December 13, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Trent Boult is currently New Zealand’s best bowler in all three formats. He had a superb IPL in 2020 and won the tournament with the Mumbai Indians. This means that he has found his mojo in the format and is likely to spearhead the attack for the 2021 World T20.

In ODI cricket, he has helped New Zealand reach two World Cup Finals, in 2015 and in 2019. Boult was the joint-highest wicket-taker at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, picking up 22 wickets at a bowling average of just 17. He also picked up 17 wickets at a bowling average of 28 at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

In test match cricket, his ability to move the ball for long periods of time, coupled up with the fact that he is a left-hander, means that he thrives in the format. Boult shapes the ball into the right-hander but can also move it away. Overall, Boult has picked up 281 test wickets at a bowling average of 28.


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3. Daniel Vettori

New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori delivers a ball during the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy One Day International (ODI) cricket match between Australia and New Zealand at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England on June 12, 2013. Australia captain George Bailey won the toss and elected to bat against New Zealand in their Champions Trophy Group A match at Edgbaston. AFP PHOTO/Paul ELLIS- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The only spin bowler on this list, Daniel Vettori is comfortably New Zealand’s best spinner of all-time. In fact, he was a crucial part of New Zealand’s bowling attack in all three formats for nearly two decades. The left-arm spinner offered excellent control and picked up wickets to allow the fast bowlers to rotate from the other end.

In 113 test matches, Vettori picked up 362 wickets at a bowling average of 34. He performed best in England, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, averaging 30, 26, 25 and 12 respectively with the ball in those countries.

Vettori picked up 15 wickets at a bowling average of just 20 at the 2015 Cricket World Cup to help New Zealand reach the final.

2. Shane Bond

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 26: Shane Bond of New Zealand celebrates with the team after catching Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan out for 17 runs off his own bowling during day three of the First Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at University Oval on November 26, 2009 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Probably the unluckiest bowler in the history of cricket, Shane Bond is number 2 on our list of best New Zealand bowlers. Had it not been for his fragile body and his want to bowl super fast, each time he was at the crease, Bond would probably have been an all-time great.

He tore through Australia at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, against the best batting line-up in world cricket. In just 82 ODI’s, Bond picked up 147 wickets at a bowling average of just 21. Australia was his favourite opposition, picking up 44 wickets against them, at a bowling average of 16, including six four-wicket hauls.

In Test cricket, Bond only played 18 test matches but still picked up 87 wickets at a bowling average of 22.


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1. 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)

Sir Richard Hadlee is number one on the list of the best New Zealand bowlers of all-time. Undoubtedly top. He began his career as a tearaway fast bowler but refined himself to be a craftsman, post his injury problems. Hadlee was probably the greatest “corridor bowler” and had immaculate control of his line and length.

He could land the ball just outside off stump all day, with movement both ways. A prolific swing and seam bowler, who could destroy opposition batting line-ups in any conditions. Hadlee averaged below 25 in every country that he bowled in, except Pakistan and West Indies.

Hadlee had very little support in either Test match cricket or ODI cricket and carried New Zealand’s bowling attack for over a decade. Overall, he picked up 431 test wickets at a bowling average of 22 and 158 ODI wickets at a bowling average of 21.56.

A true sporting icon in every sense and arguably one of New Zealand’s top 5 greatest sportsmen ever.

We hope you enjoyed our article on the top 5 best New Zealand bowlers of all-time.

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