There have been many polls and many arguments and mountains of statistics and zilions of posts them. analysing. Needless to say we haven't managed to change many of the 'tightly' held opinions. Not surprising because all of us want to believe that we know best. I have always held that the greatest difficulty a man has in admitting anything about himself, it is to say that he is not one of the world's greatest drivers. Its amazing how almost everyone thinks he is close to perfection behind the wheel. With a typical 'aquarian' curiosity I wonder why. I have a theory - its because the man is reacting to his wife constantly 'hinting' that he is close to being one of the worst
I think opinions on cricket comes a close second to driving in this regard and maybe the corresponding theory here would replace the wife with the other posters on the CW
Anyway, I think if we have some sense we would at least want to know what, those who really know, who have actually seen or better still played with or against the greats, have to say. It doesn't mean that all those who have so expressed their opinion will always point in one direction but it still tells us something we should, if we really loved the game for itself rather than a means to 'deflect' some light on our own 'punditry' of doubtful pedigree, be interested in knowing.
So I am starting here a rather tedious exercise of putting to paper (or rather my desktop) views colected from my collection of books.
Today I give you Lillee's favourite fast bowlers and his reasons for selecting them. The source is his book "Lillee : Over and Out" so what follows was, most likely, written in/ around 1983 I suppose.
To make it more interesting I will write about them in reverse order than Lillee does in his book, starting with number ten.
Inevitably I am asked (particularly in retirement) to nominate the greatest fast bowlers of my time. The tidiest - although not the easiest - way to is to restrict the list to a top 10. It is a nice round figure but I would have prefered to make it the top 11 to include Rodney Hogg. I have immense respect for Hogg as a bowler, a man and a mate and I know what he has been through to devote himself to his trade. But 10 it is so Rodney, unfortunately, misses out.
I stress that the men on my list are all men whose careers have already unfolded. I have not considered those still in puberty, as it were. For this reason, Geoff Lawson does not get a guernsey. Geoff is a magnificient bowler for whom I have the highest regard but his best years are still ahead of him. If I were writing this chapter in, say, four or five years, he might well be one of the first cabs off the ranks, as might the Windies' Malcolm Marshall.
# 10. KAPIL DEV (India)
Kapil Dev is, like Richard Hadlee, more a swing bowler than an express man. Like Pakistan, India are renowned for their prowess in the spin department, but I am hard put to think of an Indian who was really quick. Kapil Dev is the closest to it. He has a fine variation of bowling skills, swings the ball both ways, bowls off cutters and is immaculate in his line and length.
Kapil has a beautiful action and his performances, particularly on the unresponsive Indian wickets, speak for them selves. I consider him a worthy inclusion in the 10 best quicks of my time.
# 9. BOB WILLIS (England)
When Bob Willis was in Australia in Mike Brearley's hapless England team in 1979-80 he looked like a late blooming flower. Everything about him looked long and droopy. Bob toiled away under the hot Australian sun for very little reward. He took only three wickets for 224 at a miserable average of 74.66.
Next time Willis was out here he was England's captain. The long hair had disappeared, and even though his team were thrashed and he again had a mediocre season, he showed no sign of wilting. Indeed, Bob has gone on and on as England's no. 1 strike bowler.
Willis works with great diligence and has certainly learned the real meaning of the word "endurance". He made several comebacks on a pair of very wobbly knees and I can't recall many more dedicated fast bowlers in my generation.
I think Willis is a bloody fine bowler too. He is very gangly and his unusual action (which for a long time reminded me of a chook running in to bowl) is hardly classical Willis is about as awkward as Holding is fluent, but he must be viewed from an effectiveness viewpoint. There the man shines.
Willis always seemed to be the man England relied on to get the breakthroughs. So often where we had the Englishmen under the hammer, It was Willis who came along with a pocket of tricks to bail them out of trouble. He was a worker, a most willing, tireless worker. In terms of pace, I don't think Willis ever approached the likes of Roberts, Holding, Thomson and Imran, but he was very accurate. He had a fair bouncer and a reasonable yorker and while he wasn't a great in-swinger of the ball, his overall consistency gets him into my top 10.