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The World Cup’s most exciting bowlers

The World Cup's most exciting bowlers

A few days ago, I had a look at which batsmen were most likely to satisfy my thirst for excitement this world cup by ranking them by their strike rates. Today, I thought I’d do the same for the bowlers, again by looking at their strike rates. I know that ODI’s are said to be a batsman’s game, but to me it’s more about the bowling. After all, a batsman hitting a six might be exciting, but it’s nothing compared to a bowler taking a wicket.

To rank the players, I have l looked soley at their strike rates, although to avoid a part-timer with a crazy spell getting in I have required that they have taken 50 ODI wickets at an average of under 35. Again, as for the batsman, the stats by no means tell the whole story…

1) Ajantha Mendis (82 wickets @ 26.6, average 19.59)

I’d actually forgotten about Ajantha Mendis. Partly that may be because I haven’t seen Sri Lanka play a lot recently, but also it’s because Mendis hasn’t played all that much recently. Mendis’s incredible career strike rate and average are almost completely due to his arrival with a bang into international cricket, when no team facing him the first time had a clue what to do with him. His bowling has fallen off significantly in the last couple of years, but a return to even somewhere near that early form, and Mendis could certainly be one to watch.

2) Shaun Tait (51 wickets @ 26.9, average 23.47)

Now here’s a player you’d definitely expect to see near the top of a list like this. Shaun Tait aka ‘The Wild Thing’ sneaks into the reckoning having just taken 50 wickets, but there’s no doubt he’s as destructive as anyone in international cricket. With a level of accuracy that can make Mitchell Johnson look like Glenn McGrath, watching Tait certainly is exciting – you don’t really know what is going to happen next. Tait had an incredible world cup in 2007, and has played very little since due to his injury problems as well as his self-enforced exile. However, if he puts in as good a performance as last time, watching him will be great fun.

3) Brett Lee (335 wickets @ 29.1, average 23.04)

Brett Lee is back… how great is that?! Even the most hardened England fan surely can’t deny that Lee is both one of the best, and most exciting, ODI bowlers ever. Brett Lee has the best career stike rate of any ODI bowler with 100 wickets, every one of them (probably) celebrated by the ‘chain saw’ – a celebration so ridiculous surely no-one else could get away with it. It’s quite simply awesome to see Lee back for this world cup, which will surely be his swan-song, and it’s appropriately in India where he is a real superstar. This time next year, Lee will probably be in Bollywood films instead of playing cricket but for now when I watch him, even though I cheer for ABA (Anyone But Australia), I’ll definitely be cheering for Lee.

4) Morne Morkel (65 wickets @ 29.7, average 24.06)

Yep, that’s right, it’s not Dale Steym (69 wickets @ 34.0, average 29/65), but South Africa’s very own beanpole quick, Morne Morkel. Morkel’s not really an exiting bowler in the mould of Tait and Lee, but he’s been very successful in his career so far. His height and awkward bounce could make him very dangerous in this tournament, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he took two or three really big hauls. Along with Amla and de Villiers, South Africa have three of the ten most exciting players by my reckoning. The team to watch?

5) Stuart Broad (73 wickets @ 29.9, average 25.70)

Stuart Broad is far and away England’s best ODI quick bowler, and for England to get anywhere in this tournament he’s going to have to fire. Fit again now after the injury that made him miss most of the Ashes, and must have left him completely gutted, unlike most of the England squad Broad is fit, fresh, and extremely motivated. Broad’s an intelligent bowler and a lot quicker than he looks. Add to that a proven ability to perform on the big occasion and he’s got a lot to offer. Broad adds to his wicket-taking ability with plenty of fire in his belly and a competive spirit out on the field. Put it all together, and he well deserves his place in this top five.

As with the batsmen, an honourable mention goes to two more groups of players. Firstly the associate bowlers, where I have reduced the minimum number of wickets to 30 to consider a wider range of players. Clearly the most exciting player on the park, associate nation or full member, is Nederlander Ryan ten Doeschate (48 wickets @ 26.4), the only player to be mentioned as a batsman as well as a bowler, all-round class player and Essex boy too… can’t get better than that! Also worth a mention are Ireland’s Alex Cusack (34 wickets @ 28.3) and Boyd Rankin (33 wickets @ 30.6), and the fastest-striking associate spinner, Zimbabwean legspinner Graeme Cremer (47 wickets @ 37.5).

Finally, to end, I have picked out a few spinners as, Mendis apart, their strike rates are lower than that of the quick bowlers. Leading them is the quite wonderful Graeme Swann (60 wickets @ 32.7), closely followed by the great Muttiah Muralitharan (519 wickets @ 25.4) and Bangladesh’s dangerous Abdur Razzak (162 wickets @ 36.3).

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