Best West Indies bowlers of all-time: The top 5

Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh are both on the list of the best West Indian bowlers ever.
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Picking the greatest Windies bowlers ever

Historically, the West Indies have always been a powerhouse in all three formats of the game. They have won two 50-over Cricket World Cups, two World T20s and ruled Test cricket for over 20 years. They have had quality batsmen and spinners but a number of the best West Indies bowlers are recognised as all-time greats by pundits and players alike. And so, it is there should be no surprise that this list contains only quick bowlers.

Lance Gibbs can count himself unlucky to make it, despite being a world-class spinner in his time. So, who makes our top 5?

5. Courtney Walsh


Courtney Walsh is number five on our list of “Best West Indies bowlers of all-time.” He was both persistent and relentless. He was perhaps overshadowed by Curtly Ambrose during his time, but his numbers are not too dissimilar. His stamina was his greatest strength, having bowled over 30,000 deliveries in Test cricket. This remained the highest by any pace bowler until recently, when it was surpassed by Jimmy Anderson. Walsh picked up 519 Test wickets at a bowling average of 24 and 227 ODI wickets at a bowling average of 30. Walsh represented the West Indies between 1984 and 2001.

4. Michael Holding

Michael Holding bowling, Peter Willey (left) backing up, England v West Indies, 4th Test, The Oval, Jul 1980. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Still thought of by some to have been the fastest bowler of all-time, Michael Holding symbolised the phrased “Pace Like Fire,” better than anyone else. His over to Geoffery Boycott in Barbados in 1981 will go down in cricketing folklore. Dickie Bird named him “Whispering Death” because you couldn’t hear him coming but you knew he was going to hurt you with the ball in hand. He had both a rhythmical and beautiful run-up, that many tried to copy during his time. In 60 Test matches, he picked up 249 wickets at a bowling average of 24. In 102 ODIs, he picked up 142 wickets at a bowling average of 21.


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3. Joel Garner

Joel Garner bowling for Somerset during the Benson and Hedges Cup Final between Nottinghamshire and Somerset at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, 24th July 1982. The umpire is David Evans. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Standing at 2.03 meters tall, Joel Garner was a fearsome fast bowler for the West Indies. He was part of the famous quartet in the 1980’s. He extracted enormous bounce from most pitches, which is what made him deadly on any surface. He picked up 5 wickets in the 1979 Cricket World Cup final, to help the Windies win consecutive tournaments. He played 58 Tests and 98 ODI’s, picking up 259 and 146 wickets respectively. These came at bowling averages of 21 and 19. Garner represented the West Indies between 1977 and 1987.

2. Curtly Ambrose

13 Feb 1998: Curtly Ambrose of the West Indies celebrates after he takes the wicket of England Captain Mike Atherton during the Third Test match at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. England won by three wickets to level the series.

Arguably the best fast bowler in the 1990’s, Curtly Ambrose was a menacing sight for batsmen. When it was his day, there was nothing opponents could do. His spell of 7-1 at Perth in 1992/93 was devastating and it blew Australia away. In fact, the West Indies haven’t beaten Australia in a series since and haven’t drawn a series against them post Ambrose’s retirement.

He could land the ball on a sixpence and gave nothing away with the ball. His bounce allowed him to pitch the ball much further, extracting subtle seam movement consistently. Ambrose represented West Indies between 1988 and 2000.


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1. Malcolm Marshall

Malcolm Marshall is the best West Indies bowler of all-time due to his high skill.
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)

Malcolm Marshall is number one on our list of “Best West Indies bowlers of all-time.” He was a complete fast bowler in every single way. He wasn’t a tall man but was incredibly skilled. Marshall could move the ball both ways at high pace. A number of batsmen during his era dubbed him as the hardest bowler to face. He had a skiddy bouncer that was always at batsmen and it was very hard to duck.

He averaged 23 or below against every country that he played against in Test match cricket. England was his favourite opponent. He picked up 127 wickets against them at a bowling average of just 19. Overall, Marshall picked up 376 Test wickets in just 81 games. His strike rate of 47 is amongst the very best in Tests. He played 136 ODI’s for the Windies, taking 157 wickets in those games.

We hope you enjoyed our article on the best West Indies bowlers of all-time.

What’s your top 5? Comment down below!

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