There is nothing like seeing a fast bowler in full flight, and ten of them have been elected to the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. Here is how they performed in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings over the course of their careers.
Tests: Highest Rating 932 (1914), Highest Ranking 1st (1910-1914). 22 matches at number 1
Nearly a hundred years on, no-one has managed to surpass Barnes’s career peak Rating, achieved in his final Test after taking 49 wickets in four Tests against the hapless South Africans at the age of forty. Dominating the bowling Ratings in the years immediately before the First World War, he ended with exactly seven wickets per match from his medium-pace cutters, having been selected purely on the virtue of his performances in league cricket.
Tests: Highest Rating 903 (1953), Highest Ranking 1st (1947-1954). 13 matches at number 1
His rise was meteoric, taking just eight Tests to reach the number one spot. In fact, he may be unique among all Test bowlers playing a reasonable number of matches in that he spent his entire career in the world’s top five. This culminated in a return to the top spot after taking 39 wickets during the memorable Ashes summer of 1953 at the age of 35. He is the last man alive who managed to dismiss Don Bradman in a Test Match.
Tests: Highest Rating 860 (1982), Highest Ranking 1st (1982). 12 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 875 (1985), Highest Ranking 2nd (1983).
He burst upon the scene in the summer of 1976 when his pace was as scorching as the English weather, as he tore through England’s batting to the tune of fourteen wickets at the Oval to move up to third in the world. His Test peak came later in his career and he spent the first half of 1982 on top of the world after taking 24 wickets in three Tests in Australia. He was unlucky in the shorter form of the game as Richard Hadlee prevented him reaching the top spot, and his peak Rating of 875 is the highest of anyone who never made it to number one.
Tests: Highest Rating 720 (1933), Highest Ranking 3rd (1933).
He will forever be remembered as the spearhead of the ‘Bodyline’ attack of 1932/33 but Larwood was a good enough bowler to reach third in the world at the end of that infamous series having dismissed Bradman four times. However, that was as good as it got, and he was never selected for England again. He had his moments with the bat too – some early successes took him into the world’s top thirty and his career ended with an innings of 98 as night-watchman at Sydney.
Tests: Highest Rating 884 (1977), Highest Ranking 1st (1975-1982). 56 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 891 (1982), Highest Ranking 1st (1980-1983). 89 matches at number 1
He dominated the world fast-bowling scene for a decade and first reached top spot during the 1975 Ashes tour of England on which he took 21 wickets in four matches. His eleven wickets in the Centenary Test at Melbourne in March 1977 sent him to his career-best Rating and he was back on top in the early 1980s after a thirty-month break for World Series Cricket. He was similarly successful in One Dayers, spending all of 1981 and 1982 on top of the tree.
Tests: Highest Rating 897 (1954), Highest Ranking 1st (1948-1955). 72 matches at number 1
Unquestionably the world’s premier fast bowler in the years following the Second World War, he spent more than half of the next decade ranked as the number one Test bowler. He reached number one after his ninth Test and was still in the world’s top ten when he retired in 1960. He could also wield the willow to some effect, peaking at number 23 and he spent the vast majority of his career ranked second to team-mate Keith Miller in the all-rounder table.
Tests: Highest Rating 910 (1988), Highest Ranking 1st (1984-1991). 80 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 891 (1985), Highest Ranking 1st (1987-1989). 58 matches at number 1
He was the spearhead of the all-conquering West Indian team of the late 1980s and even in an era of great fast bowlers, he still spent a great deal of time at the number one spot in both forms of the game. He was a dangerous lower-order batsman too and ended his career as the number 3 ranked Test all-rounder. He retired from Test cricket at the top of the world Rankings and his final wicket was fellow Hall-of-Famer Graham Gooch.
Tests: Highest Rating 891 (1976), Highest Ranking 1st (1976-1977). 16 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 848 (1983), Highest Ranking 1st (1979-1980). 14 matches at number 1
The first of the West Indian pace quartet to reach the top spot, it was the summer of 1976 which propelled him to his peak Rating after he took 28 wickets in England. He first reached top spot in One Day Internationals soon after helping the West Indies retain the World Cup in 1979, but arguably his most memorable performance in the shorter form of the game came with the bat as his unbeaten 24 helped overcome Pakistan by one wicket in the 1975 tournament.
Tests: Highest Rating 810 (1960), Highest Ranking 3rd (1955).
Despite ending his career with 252 Test wickets, he could be considered one of the finest bowlers never to reach the top spot in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings. Overshadowed by his colleagues Frank Tyson and then fellow Hall-of-Famer Fred Trueman for the vast majority of his Test career, he bowled tirelessly into the wind and was scarcely out of the World’s top ten for a decade. He gave away only 2.33 runs per over using the mantra “if they miss, I hit”.
Tests: Highest Rating 898 (1963), Highest Ranking 1st (1963-1964). 6 matches at number 1
He started with a bang when he helped to remove the first four Indians before a run had been scored in their second innings on his debut at Headingley in 1952. And despite only playing in 67 of the 120 Tests England played over the course of his Test career he still became the first man to reach the magical 300-wicket landmark. Surprisingly he was only top for a brief period in 1963 and 1964 towards the end of his career after he took 34 wickets against the West Indian tourists.