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Who is the best test bowler in the world?

The best bowlers in test cricket history haven’t just demonstrated exceptional skill, they also made their ability an artform in the sport. Whether it’s outstanding off-spinners like Muttiah Muralitharan with Sri Lanka and his infamous doosra, toe-crushers like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, or the outspoken but brilliant Australian leg-spin legend Shane Warne, there’s a host of iconic cricketers who have wowed crowds at test matches over the years.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the current generation of bowling superstars, there are plenty of amazingly talented players who are well on their way to legendary status. Using the most recently published ICC Test Championship Bowling Rankings, we take a look at the top five test bowlers in world cricket right now.

5 – James Anderson (England)

Missing out on England’s current tour of New Zealand due to a calf injury, which he suffered during the Ashes against Australia, there’s a good chance that James Anderson will drop out of the top 5 of the ICC Test Championship Bowling Rankings before the end of this year. However, the 37-year-old insists that he has no intentions of retiring just yet, targeting a return to action for the England tour of South Africa over Christmas and New Year.

Having finished 2017 at the top of the bowling ratings and achieved a career best rating of 903 against India in August 2018, injuries aside, there’s no reason why Anderson can’t remain amongst the top 5 bowlers in the world in 2020. However, he may temporarily be overtaken by New Zealand bowlers Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, depending on their performances against England in his absence, with sportsbook odds suggesting a very even November test series.

4 – Jasprit Bumrah (India)

There is currently no better ODI bowler in the world than Jasprit Bumrah, having first started representing India in that cricket format and T20 back in 2016. Since January 2018 and his debut with the Indian test side against South Africa, instantly impressing with a maiden five-wicket haul with 5/54 from 18.5 overs, the 25-year-old has also swiftly gone on to become one of the most fearsome test bowlers in modern cricket.

What sets right-arm fast-medium pacer Bumrah apart is his distinct and consistent yorker bowling style. “Jasprit Bumrah has the best and most effective yorker among fast bowlers playing international cricket now,” hailed legendary Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram in 2019, famed for his own toe-crunching yorker style alongside that of Waqar Younis, who formed one of the most lethal bowling partnerships in cricket during their prime. High praise indeed, for a bowler who will be terrorising batsmen for years to come.

3 – Jason Holder (West Indies)

Despite being on the losing side in the August 2019 test series against India, the individual performances of Jason Holder demonstrated his quality and consistency for the West Indies. No player in test cricket can claim to be a better all-rounder, with the 28-year-old topping the current ICC rankings with a 472 rating, becoming the first Windies player to achieve that feat since Garfield Sobers back in 1974.

While it’s clear that Holder is certainly very handy with the bat, way ahead of his nearest rivals in the ICC all-rounder rankings, the Windies captain is also brilliant with the ball. Ranking third in the most recent ICC Test Championship Bowling Rankings, Holder took his 100th wicket in test cricket in the second test against India in August 2019. No matter the results of his international team, individually speaking, the man from Barbados is without doubt one of the best cricketers gracing the game right now.

2 – Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)

Back in 2014 and helping the South Africa win the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, Kagiso Rabada was named as “the fastest and most feared bowler in the competition” by ESPN, clocking up bowling speeds over 85 mph. Since stepping up to the senior international cricket scene, his reputation has grown at an equally phenomenal pace, along with his position amongst the very best ODI and Test Bowler rankings.

Named by Wisden as the best young player in the world in August 2018, Rabada had already topped the ICC Test Bowler rankings earlier that year aged just 22. Although currently second in the same rankings heading towards the end of 2019, now 24, it surely won’t be long before the darling of South African cricket is regularly above the 900-rating mark again and staking his claim towards being the best bowler in both ODI and Test cricket.

1 – Pat Cummins (Australia)

Awarded the honour of becoming one of Australia’s two test vice-captains in January 2019, it’s certainly been a spectacular year for right-arm fast-bowler Patrick Cummins, who achieved a career-best rating of 914 following the Ashes test victory against England in August. Perched deservedly at the top of the ICC Test Bowler rankings with a rating of 908 at the end of October 2019, it’s likely he’ll see out the year as the best bowler in test cricket.

Cummins burst onto the scene as a raw but exciting bowling talent in November 2011, making his test debut against South Africa. Since then, he’s bowled 5,667 balls, taken 123 wickets and registered a 21.45 bowling average during his test career with Australia. As the leading wicket-taker at the Ashes, averaging 19.62 by taking 29 wickets in 5 matches, Cummins was pivotal in helping his team to victory against England.

Should he remain atop the ICC Test Bowler rankings at the end of 2019, Cummins will be the first Australian to do so since Shane Warne in 2005. Indeed, the legendary former player has regularly heaped praise on the 26-year-old, who could well surpass his own phenomenal bowling records and cricketing achievements.

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