|03-02-2011, 09:05 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2005
Best bowling actions ever
What are your favourite bowling actions and why?
Here are some of mine…
The first thing to note about Wasim’s bowling action is it made him seem faster than he was, and he was fast enough to begin with! Consider Brett Lee for a moment. Brett Lee in his prime was extremely fast, but many batsman could sort of get used to when he’d let the ball go. Wasim rolled his arm over very quickly in sort of a whippy fashion. It made it very hard for batsmen to guess when the ball was coming out.
I also wonder whether there was something about Wasim’s bowling action that made swing bowling easier. Unlike most bowlers, who deliver the ball from a side-on position, Akram delivered the ball from a front on position. I wonder whether that helped him move the ball.
Many batsmen have talked about being intimidated by him. At 6’4 off a strong run, you’d know the ball was about to be delivered at pace, but then it’s difficult to guess when he’d let the ball go. There was something bustling about his action, as if everything was happening before you were ready.
Thompson did not have an attractive bowling style at all. But like Akram he was perceived as being faster than he really was, which is a scary thought if you consider he’s often considered the fastest bowler in history! Batsmen who played against him often said the last time you saw the ball was between his legs – he took such a swing backwards before delivery that when you didn’t often see it released from his arm.
I’m not sure how fast Thompson was. I personally think he may have been perceived as faster than he was, because of his crazy actions.
I like Underwood’s action for his big pendulum swing. It’s as if he was waiting a fraction of a second longer for the ball to drop and then whoosh, the ball would come down so fast for a spin bowler. He really wasn’t too far removed from a medium pace bowler. I kind of imagine Bill O’Reilly bowled at a similar pace. He had a good action for catching batsmen off guard every once in a while.
Mentioning Murali in a thread like this could open a bottle of worms. I won’t talk about whether I think Murali ever went over the 15 degree mark during games, but if his action was legal then how could you possibly not have Murali in this list? It was such a confusing bowling style. I don’t think we’ll see a bowler like Murali with strange elbow joints again, and we certainly won’t see his action again.
Have you ever seen one of those rigged bicycles at a carnival when you turn the gears left and the wheel goes right? That’s what I think of when I see Murali’s delivery. It’s a hypnotic delivery. Sometimes it looks like he’s bowled the ball so it’ll go left, but it goes right.
Probably the funniest thing I saw with batsman and Murali is they would leave Murali’s bad deliveries alone. He might bowl one that could be cut, but batsmen not knowing if it was going the other way toward the stumps, would leave the deliveries alone.
There seems to be a consensus among batsman about what it’s like to play Murali. Steve Waugh, Stephen Fleming and Brian Lara have all said the same thing – Murali is impossible to read for the first few overs. Once you get in, things become much easier. And Shane Warne made a great point one: Murali is unique in that you can’t practice for him. Tendulkar had a hoard of spin bowlers bowling to him in 1998 in preparation for Warne. But who can bowl like Murali? On that criteria alone Murali has to be in this list.
When I played cricket coaches often told me to get as close to the wickets when I bowled as possible. That’s the most admirable thing about McGrath’s action. I’ve seen McGrath bowl when he accidentally clipped the top of off stump (as the tail end of the pitch) and yet he still bowled the ball on the spot he desired. McGrath, I think, got more lbw’s than the average all-time great bowler because he could get so close to the stumps. In fact just before delivery it almost looked like he’d swerve a smidge to the right just so he could get close to the stumps.
The second notable thing about McGrath (and it’s one of the best compliments I can pay anybody) is that his action never changed. The way he bowled one delivery was the way he bowled 100 deliveries. Some fast bowlers, at the end of the day, they seem sluggish in their stride. It’s not intentional, they just don’t have the same spring they had before. McGrath was like a car (that rhymes) that’s economical on fuel. He never bowled faster than he needed to be successful. He always put 100% into putting that ball on the right spot. And he could do it over and over. He was a metronome.
I don’t consider McGrath one of the most exciting fast bowlers ever. But there was a lot to like about his bowling style.
John Snow didn’t have an attractive bowling style, but something about the way he’d move his arms in a disco roll before releasing the ball seems to make it hard for batsmen to read his deliveries. Like a mini-trick before he released the ball and then wham!
The best fast bowling action ever. Full stop. But I’ll go on. There’s so much that’s textbook about Lillee. He’s still the benchmark for fast bowlers to aspire to. For anybody who doesn’t think he’s the greatest fast bowler ever, that’s fine, but I think you ought to admit that he’s the ‘type’ of bowler you tell people to emulate. For example, Sir Donald Bradman is the greatest cricketer of all time, but if you were coaching a young boy you might tell him to try and emulate Barry Richards or Greg Chappell, because they were so textbook flawless in their batting techniques.
In the same way you’d tell a fast bowler to emulate Lillee so as to avoid injury on the follow through. You’d tell him to emulate Lillee’s classic ‘rock back’ before delivery so one could generate a little more power. You’d tell them to get side on like Lillee got side on. You’d tell them to have a stride like Dennis Lillee.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Richard Hadlee used Lillee as an instruction manual for how to bowl. The West Indian bowlers, especially Malcolm Marshall, tried to emulate Lillee.
He was quiet, so quiet when he bowled. I think the surprising thing about Holding was it didn’t look like he was trying to bowl as fast as he was. He had such a smooth run up and never looked like he was exerting himself too much. For someone to look so smooth and to bowl so fast is, I think, a mark of a great bowling action. I wish I could write more about his action, but that's it, it's beautiful watching a smooth run up, a smooth bowler, and he's sending down lightning.
Let me explain why Warne never had much of a wrong’un. Richie Benaud said it best about Warne’s action when he said that Warne’s best attribute was he bowled a little round-armed. That is, instead of releasing the ball at about a 12 o’clock position, he released it from about a little higher than a 10 o’clock position. This enables him to spin the ball more, but it also enabled Warne to impart a little overspin with his leg spinners. That resulted in wicket-keepers taking the ball around arm-pit height, rather than chest or waist height. It’s resulted in many nicks to the keeper because the ball would bounce more than expected and come at batsman by surprise. It was invaluable to Warne taking 100 more wickets than he could have.
But to bowl a wrong’on (a good wrong’un) Warne had to change the position of his arm as he rolled it over to about 12 o’clock. From his 10 o’clock position (more like 10:30) all a wrong’un would do it go straight on or a tiny bit the other way. From the 12 o’clock position bowlers you see the ball telegraphed to them.
But it was more important for Warne to have that overspin than to have a wrong’on. I really think he got more wickets with his overspin than he ever would have had if he bowled a wrong’on more often. So I don’t consider his action to have any flaws.
His action is textbook for leg spinners, especially the way he pivots his foot and turns his body at the moment he delivers the ball with so many revolutions. For people who think Warne didn’t revolutionize spin or revive it in any way, well no leg spin bowler will bowl like Qudir or Benaud from that 12 o’clock position again. It’s just not smart. Warne took an art and mastered it. He’s the spinners version of Dennis Lillee.
Like McGrath, Willis got so close to the stumps. But he bowled faster than McGrath. If you watch young children when they bowl, the faster they bowl the further they bowl from the stumps. I also think it’s easier to bowl a good bouncer if you’re closer to the stumps, because you have a wider channel to aim at. Willis is underrated in terms of having a great action than generated good speed and yet he remained so close to the stumps.
Actually, why don’t I rank the best bowling actions ever (which is course a list that will only ever be based on personal preference):
1. Dennis Lillee
2. Shane Warne
3. Michael Holding
4. Wasim Akram
5. Glenn McGrath
A bit Aussie-heavy I know. Lillee and Warne were always going to make it though, and I have to reward McGrath for being a metronome.
My top three is pretty much set in stone according to my preferences. Lillee, Warne and Holding really stand-out to me as great bowling actions. Akram was so entertaining and so intimidating and so sudden. I couldn't leave him out. McGrath? I could have picked many in his place.
Some of the worst actions? Ntini, Malinga, and while he was lauded for his beautiful round-armed style, isn't Ray Lindwall telling batsmen that he's going to bowl an outswinger with an action like that?
Last edited by Francis; 03-02-2011 at 09:25 AM.
|03-02-2011, 09:33 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Colombo, SL
Few more to Add
Abdul Razzak - in his prime was so smooth in his run up and bowling, as if you were watching a medium pacer. But in his prime that ball kept coming at 140k and had some humungous amounts of swing, conventional or reverse. 1999 WC is a show piece of Razzaq's bowling where he generates pace, bounce, swing and seam from a medium pacer like action.
Anil Kumble - the spinning variation of McGrath. Never exerted himself much and bowled like a metronome on after other pitching on the same spot but with different amount of spin, pace and air. Early in career his top spinner (the rocket ball) came out of his hand in the same action. But that went 110k compared to mid 90s of his normal delivery. Amazig ability to change the pace without any change in the action.
Chaminda Vaas - he had a problamatic action when he first came and injured himself as a result. Then casme Vaas vesrion II with classic side arm action, high stepping right foot and perfect follow through and banana swing. Never was fast, but the action was so repeatable. Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib needed the slingshot to reverse swing the ball, which they refused to teach. Vaas came with his own version of reverse swing which is delivered with a high arm without any change of action. His fitness and durability shows that Vaas version II had a very solid action.
Dominik Cork - had that copy book out swing bowlers action. The most side on bowler I've ever seen and when in form his action was a one fluid motion that blended with his out swing. Fanie de Villiers had an alward way of holding the ball before delivery but another copybook outswing bowler. but he was quicker, more threatening and classy bowler than Cork.
Pollock - the Shaun version. No one got close to the wicket as Pollock, as his right foot kept hitting the bails. The action was so economical and up right it generated seam even on the deadest of the tracks. In his prime he wasn't slow either.
Kallis-Before Kallis made alterations to his action he had a classic windmill action which allowed him to swing the ball at 90mph. As with Cork / de Villiers the ction was a one fluid motion till he ended the followu through.
Aravinda de Silva - Least of the bowlers discussed here but had the classical high arm off spinners action, and got closer to the wicket than any other spinner. He paused in his action to see whether batsman advances, but that never appears as the pasue gets blended with the action in such a subtle way. The ball to Ian Healy in 1996 WC Final shows his pause beautifully blening with the action.
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|03-02-2011, 09:36 AM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Top floor, bottom buzzer
Great post, especially on Warne.
I'm told that Larwood had a wonderfully smooth action.
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|03-02-2011, 10:00 AM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Hyderabad India
Francis - Great post. Specially like what you say about Murali. Not often would he be mentioned when talking of bowling action. He was quite hypnotic.
Among the bowlers I have seen, Allan Donald stood out for me. Such a smooth action, lovely leap before delivery and could generate so much pace without seeming bending his back like Waqar, Akhtar or Leed seemed to do.
|03-02-2011, 10:01 AM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2010
Would be interested in knowing what the oldies() have to say about Hadlee's action. From the vids I've seen of him, It's probably the best action I've seen. So, so smooth.
Isnít it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? Ė Douglas Adams
|03-02-2011, 10:04 AM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Hyderabad India
|03-02-2011, 10:37 AM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2008
Outside of already mentioned [Wasim (one of the best action if not the best), McG, Warne], I always thought Hadlee had one of the best actions. Really smooth with little strain on the body.
I don't like watching Donald, Murali, Kallis (ugliest action ever), Bond and some more.
Greatest Test XI::: L Hutton, S Gavaskar, D Bradman*, S Tendulkar, A Border, G Sobers, A Gilchrist, I Khan, S Warne, M Marshall, G McGrath
Reserves: B Richards, V Richards, A Knott, M Muralitharan
Greatest ODI XI::: A Gilchrist, S Tendulkar, R Ponting*, V Richards, M Hussey, M Bevan, S Pollock, W Akram, J Garner, M Muralitharan, A Donald
Reserves: A deVilliars, A Symonds, R Hadlee, S Warne
|03-02-2011, 10:42 AM||#11 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
The three Ls lead the way for me - Larwood, Lindwall, Lillee.
McDonald, Holding and Donald off the top of my head also had marvellous actions.
|03-02-2011, 12:45 PM||#14 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2010
There was a thread like this before. If I remember right, Lindwall, Anderson, Hall, Vaas and Ambrose were my choices there.
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