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5 bowlers with incredible stats you've probably never heard of

Jim Laker
Jim Laker scalped 19 wickets in a single Test
Chaitanya Halgekar

Numbers unfold several stories. Especially in a sport like cricket which is heavily depended on statistics, the stories painted by numbers are always intriguing.

However, sometimes the statistics go unnoticed and the players don't get the appreciation they deserve.

Let us take solace in numbers to relive some of the finest statistical achievements which have faded away with time. Here we focus in the statictics of bowlers, who are highly underrated in the game and are treated as second-grade citizens.

Here are five bowlers who produced some incredible statistics and inked their name in the history of the game.


#1. Jim Laker - 19 wickets in a Test match

Laker Bowling

Jim Laker was a handy off-spinner who served England for 46 Tests and claimed 193 wickets. His average of 21.24 and strike rate of 62.3 is impressive but what makes Laker immortal in cricket is his incredible bowling spell at Manchester in 1956 against Australia.

The English spinner picked nine wickets in the first innings to rout Australia for a paltry score of 84 and came back once again to haunt the visitors and dismantled the entire Aussie batting line-up. He claimed all ten wickets in the second innings to enable England to win the game by one inning and 170 runs.

He ended the Test with 19 wickets, a record which is still intact and can stand unbroken for a long period. Anil Kumble, India's ace leg-spinner is the only other bowler to take a ten-wicket haul in a Test inning but he claimed only four wickets in the other inning.

Sydney Barnes, another English bowler comes second in the list of most wickets in one Test with his 17 wickets in 1913 against South Africa.

#2. Mark Gillespie- four wickets for seven runs in 2.5 overs

New Zealand Black Caps Training Session

Mark Gillespie played five Tests, 32 ODIs and 11 T20Is in his international career and wasn't impressive enough with his medium pace bowling to leave a mark in international cricket.

But he did have his moment of glory when he pulverized Kenya in the inaugural T20 world cup in 2007 at Durban.The Kiwi pace bowler claimed four wickets to limit Kenya to 73 runs.

He was fortunate to get a wicket on his first ball of the game as David Obuya was hit wicket while playing a stroke. In the same over, he trapped Steve Tikolo, Kenya's skipper in front of his stumps and came back in the 17th over to finish off the innings by claiming two more wickets.

His spell of four wickets with seven runs in 2.5 overs was the best bowling figures in a T20 international during that time. The record lasted for two years and finally in 2009, Umar Gul picked the first five-wicket haul in T20 internationals to break this record.

#3. Wilfred Rhodes- 4204 wickets in 1110 first-class games

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If statistics are the mere benchmark for scaling success then Wilfred Rhodes is the most successful first-class cricketer ever. He has played the most number of first-class games and has picked the most number of wickets as well.

His tally of 4204 wickets in 1110 first-class games is monumental but his numbers in the batting department are staggering as well. He scored 58 first-class hundreds and piled up close to 40,000 runs.

He also represented England in 58 Tests but failed to reproduce his magic. He claimed only 127 Test wickets and his average in Tests (26.96 ) was much higher than his average in first-class cricket (16.72).

Rhodes was an exceptional left-arm spinner who also had 287 five-wicket hauls to his name in first-class cricket, another impressive feat.

#2. Bapu Nadkarni- Economy rate of 1.67 in 41 Tests

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In the nets, he would stand at the bowling mark, focusing his eyes on the coin he would have placed earlier at the good length region and then for an eternity would bowl in the same spot.

That was how Bapu Nadkarni practiced spin bowling and the staggering results of this incredible practice were evident in his statistics. In 41 Tests, he claimed 88 wickets but conceded only 1.67 runs per over.

He was the ideal bowler for stopping the run-flow as he offered width rarely and had immense patience and control. He once delivered 21 consecutive maidens in a Test against England at Madras in 1964 and has also recorded figures of 32-24-23-0 and 34-24-24-1 in Tests.

His controlled bowling rarely rewarded him with wickets, but it created several opportunities of wickets for the other bowlers. His strike rate of 104.1 speaks volume about his inability to produce wicket-taking deliveries but that cannot lessen the value of Nadkarni's spin bowling.

#1.Alf Valentine- Figures of 92-49-140-3 in a Test match inning

Valentine And Sonny
Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine

If anything, Alf Valentine was a bowling machine in the form of a human. He had impeccable physical fitness along with immense mental strength that enabled him to bowl over after over without getting tired.

Representing West Indies, Valentine bowled 12953 deliveries in 63 Test innings, on average 34.26 overs per innings which is a humungous task. He wasn't just an effective line and length bowler but was also a master of purchasing turn and drift.

His slow left-arm bowling was so effective that West Indies team of that era dominated world cricket without having a genuine pacer in their ranks.

The West Indian spinner registered these incredible figures while bowling against England in 1950 at Nottingham. West Indies accumulated vital first innings lead but England came back strongly in the second innings with their top-order batsmen notching up vital runs.

To keep the noose tight on the batsmen and to prevent England from scoring quick runs, Valentine bowled 92 overs of which 49 were maidens. He ended up with three wickets while his accomplice, Sonny Ramadhin registered figures of 81.2-25-135-5. The visitors won the match by ten wickets and Valentine inked his name in the record books for bowling the most number of maidens in an inning.

Edited by Anuradha Santhanam

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