Great bowling spells in cricket history!

Philander's fiver wrecked Newzealand!
Vineet Varma

As South Africa shot down the Kiwis for a measly 45 (their third lowest total in Test history!) at Cape Town, courtesy Vernon Philander‘s 5/7, the writer couldn’t help recollecting memories of similar bowling performances.

Though Philander was aided by lively bowling conditions plus some inept batting by the Kiwis, nevertheless it was a great display of fast bowling which has now put the Proteas in the driver’s seat.

Philander’s fifer wrecked New Zealand!

Here is a list of some great bowling spells from the past!

1. McGrath’s fifer sends the Pommies flying at Lords!


McGrath dismantled England at Lords!

England had got off to an amazing start at Lord’s in the first Test of the 2005 Ashes series, after the Aussies had found Stephen Harmison (5/43) too hot to handle and were bundled out for a lowly 190.

It was England’s best ever start in an Ashes series for years and was probably a great opportunity for Michael Vaughan’s side to clinch a 1-0 lead against the old enemy.

But Glenn McGrath had other plans as he put on a bowling masterclass by dismissing five English batsmen in the space of 31 deliveries to leave England reeling at 21/5.

It was bowling at its best as McGrath dismissed Marcus Trescothick (caught behind), Andrew Strauss (caught behind), Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell and Andrew Flintoff (all bowled) with unerring accuracy to swing the Test back in Australia’s favour.

McGrath’s spell left England spellbound as they were bundled out for 155 in their first innings.

Australia put up a strong 384 in their second innings and set England an imposing 420 run target to chase.

But it was not to be as a demoralised England crashed out for 180 (McGrath had a 4 wicket haul) to give Australia a huge 239 run victory and a 1-0 lead in the series!

2. The name’s Bond, Shane Bond!

Shane Bond of New Zealand celebrates taking the wicket of Ian Harvey of Australia to finish with figures of 6 for 23

Australia were facing New Zealand in a Super Six tie of the 2003 World Cup at Port Elizabeth and had won all seven of their previous group games.

An upset win against the World champs would have ensured a semifinal spot for the Kiwis, and it seemed a real possibility when Shane Bond unleashed a spell of blistering pace which left the Aussie top order in shambles.

Bond, who bowled at breakneck speed, took 6/23 in his 10 overs and reduced Australia to 84/7.

An eight-wicket 97 run stand between Andy Bichel and the ever reliable Michael Bevan rescued Australia as they managed to reach a respectable 208/9 in 50 overs.

Though Bond made a mark for himself in international cricket after the six wicket haul, the Kiwis could not muster similar heroics with the bat as they crumbled for 112 against an inspired Brett Lee (5/42) and Glenn McGrath (3/29) to lose by 96 runs.

This performance helped Bond better his previous best against the Aussies (5/25 at Adelaide in 2001).

3. Ambrose has the Aussies jumping at the WACA!


West Indies had come into the fifth and final Test match of the Frank Worrell trophy at Perth after clinching a thrilling one run victory at Adelaide to level the series 1-1.

With the score at 58/2, David Boon and Mark Waugh looked to steady the Australian innings and set them up for a good first innings total.

Then started the Curtly Ambrose show, as the giant pacer produced a devastating spell in which he dismissed seven Aussie batsmen for just one run.

Ambrose’s victims (Boon and Waugh included) were all either caught behind by the wicket-keeper or the slip cauldron.

Ambrose’s spell was probably the best ever by a West Indian bowler in Test cricket, and it ensured that the Aussies were bundled out for 119.

Richie Richardson’s men later went on to take a huge second innings lead and won the match comfortably by an innings and 25 runs, clinching the series 2-1.

4. Akram swings it around for Pakistan!

Akram swung the 1992 final in Pakistan's favor; here seen appealing for Derek Pringle's wicket

Akram swung the 1992 final in Pakistan’s favour; here seen appealing for Derek Pringle’s wicket

Graham Gooch’s side were tottering at 69/4, chasing a stiff 250 set by Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup final in Melbourne.

Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb had put on 72 for the fifth wicket and looked like pulling off a famous win for the English.

Skipper Imran Khan then decided to bring Wasim Akram back into the attack in the 35th over, hoping for a breakthrough.

And the move paid off as Akram produced a vicious out-swinger to shatter Lamb’s off stump and produced an equally stunning in-swinger the very next ball to castle Chris Lewis.

England never recovered from those two dismissals and were soon all out for 227.

Pakistan won its maiden World Cup title and Akram was named Man of the Match for his heroics!

5. English hero ‘Beefy’!

Ian Botham

It was the 1981 Ashes series and England had levelled the six match series 1-1 after winning the third Test at Headingley, thanks to Ian Botham’s now famous 149.

In what turned out to be a low scoring fourth Test at Edgbaston, a less than impressive batting performance by the English saw them set a lowly 150 run target for Kim Hughes’ men to hunt down.

Australia were cruising along at 105/5 and it looked only a matter of time till the Aussies were 2-1 up in the series.

Skipper Mike Brearley, seemingly at a loss for ideas, tossed the ball to Botham.

And Botham responded as he produced a magical spell, dismissing five Aussie batsmen for just 1 run and helping England snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Aussies didn’t know what hit them as they were shot out for 121 and lost by 29 runs.

Botham hit 118 in the next Test at Old Trafford as England won and went on to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.

The series turned Botham into an overnight English hero (Botham scored 399 runs and took 34 wickets) and was later rechristened as ‘Botham’s Ashes’!

Though there have been many memorable bowling spells in both Test and One Day cricket, such as Anil Kumble‘s ten wicket haul against Pakistan and Fred Trueman’s 8/31 against India way back in 1952, the writer feels the above mentioned spells were definitely worth a mention!

Edited by Staff Editor


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