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Top 10 South African fast bowlers of all time

South Africa has had a rich history of fast bowling
South Africa has had a rich history of fast bowling
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Tanya Rudra

South Africa, who was reinstated as a Test nation in 1991 by the ICC, played their first sanctioned international game since 1970 and their first-ever ODI against India in Calcutta on 10 November 1991.

On 28 August 2012, South Africa became the first team to top the ICC rankings in all three formats of the game. As far as their success in terms of silverware is concerned, South Africa have been underachievers at the ICC tournaments and are yet to win a World Cup.

The Proteas have produced immense cricketing talent over the years and their pace bowling attack, in particular, has been one of the most formidable in the world.

Now, let's have a look at the some of the best South African fast bowlers of all time.

10. Kagiso Rabada

Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada

With 14 wickets at an economy rate of 3.10, Kagiso Rabada hogged the limelight during the 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup and ended up as the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament.

One of the better South African fast bowlers of recent times, Rabada played his first fifty-over international game against Bangladesh in 2015. He claimed his career-best figures of 6-16 in 8 overs and became only the second player, after Taijul Islam, to take a hat-trick on ODI debut.

The 24-year-old, who constantly clocks 140km/h, has picked up 117 wickets in 75 matches since then.

As far as the longest format of the game is concerned, Rabada, who has 197 wickets from 43 matches under his belt, recorded his career-best figures of 13-144 in a 2016 Test against England at Centurion.

In the process, Rabada became the youngest South African to take a ten-wicket haul in a Test.

9. Vernon Philander

Vernon Philander
Vernon Philander

One of the most underrated medium-pacers in the world, Vernon Philander, proved his detractors wrong by claiming 50 wickets in seven Tests, the best record in more than 100 years.

In 2013, he became the fastest South African to 100 Test wickets by reaching the mark in his 19th match, whereas Dale Steyn took 20 games. The 34-year-old has claimed 224 wickets in 64 Tests at an average of 22.32 over the course of his career.

Philander has 13 five-fors, and two 10-wicket hauls in the longest format of the game under his name.

Surprisingly, the Proteas' most reliable weapon in whites could not emulate his success with the white ball.

In 30 matches, Philander has just 41 wickets in ODIs. However, his Test figures make up for his shortcomings in the fifty-over format of the game.

8. Andre Nel

Andre Nel
Andre Nel

After the retirement of Allan Donald and before the emergence of Dale Steyn, Andre Nel was South Africa's go-to man as far as pace bowling was concerned.

The man, who was quite famous for his on-field aggressive antics, claimed 123 wickets in the 36 Test matches he played between 2001 and 2008.

In a 2005 Test match against the West Indies at Bridgetown, Nel claimed his maiden 10-wicket haul and helped South Africa win the series.

The man, who dismissed Brian Lara eight times in Tests, was the 11th South African to take 100 wickets in the longest format of the game.

In 79 ODIs between 2001 and 2008, Nel claimed 106 wickets at an average of 27.68, with 5/45 against Bangladesh in 2007 at Guyana being his best.

7. Lance Klusener

Lance Klusener
Lance Klusener

In his debut Test at Kolkata in 1996/97, Lance Klusener recorded his career-best Test figures of 8-64 and became a vital member of South Africa's formidable bowling attack.

Klusener played 49 Tests for South Africa between 1996 and 2004, claiming 80 wickets at an average of 37.91.

The Wisden Cricketer of the year 2000, whose pace was cut down by injuries, played 171 ODIs between 1996 and 2004 and took 192 wickets at an average of 29.95.

Klusener, who is among the top-five pacers of South Africa in the fifty-over format, recorded his best ODI figures of 6-49 against Sri Lanka in 1997 at Lahore.

6. Morne Morkel

Morne Morkel
Morne Morkel

Morne Morkel, whose initial career was closely monitored by legendary Allan Donald, took over as South Africa's strike bowler after Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini were past their prime.

The 86-Test veteran, who made his debut against India in 2006, claimed 309 wickets at an average of 27.66 in Tests over the course of his career. The 35-year-old produced his best figures of 6-23 against New Zealand in 2012 at Wellington.

Morkel, who was the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in the 2015 ODI World Cup, has played 117 ODIs since making his debut in 2007 and claimed 188 wickets at an average of 25.32.

5. Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis, the most celebrated cricketer produced by South Africa, is the only man to have scored over 10000 runs and taken over 250 wickets in both forms of the game.

The medium-fast swing bowler, who made his Test debut in 1995 against England, played 165 Tests before retiring in 2013 and claimed 291 wickets at an average of 32.63.

The first bowler to claim a fifer in ICC Champions Trophy history, Kallis played 323 ODIs between 1996 and 2014, claiming 269 wickets at an average of 31.85.

The Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2008 and 2013 has five five-wicket hauls in Tests and two in ODIs under his belt.

4. Allan Donald

Allan Donald
Allan Donald

Allan Donald, who was one of the deadliest fast-bowlers to have played the game, made his Test debut against the West Indies in 1992.

'White Lightning' played 72 Test between 1992 and 2002, claiming 330 wickets at an average of 22.25.

The man, who has taken 20 Test and two ODI five-wicket hauls, also claimed ten wickets in a match on three occasions in the longest format of the game.

The second-highest ODI wicket-taker for South Africa, Donald played 164 fifty-over games between 1991 and 2003 and claimed 272 wickets at an average of 21.78. He is considered one of the most fearsome South African fast bowlers of all time.

3. Makhaya Ntini

Makhaya Ntini
Makhaya Ntini

Makhaya Ntini, who made his international debut in 1998, scripted history in South African cricket by becoming the first coloured player to represent the nation.

The third-highest Test wicket-taker for South Africa, Ntini played 101 five-day games between 1998 and 2009 and claimed 390 wickets at an average of 28.82.

Ntini, who has taken 18 Test five-fors and four ten-wicket hauls, became the third South African behind Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald to pick up 300 wickets in the longest format of the game.

With four five-wicket hauls, Ntini was quite successful in ODIs as well. Between 1998 and 2009, The Mdingi Express played 172 fifty-over games and claimed 265 wickets at an average of 24.53.

2. Dale Steyn

Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn

Since making his debut against England in 2004, Dale Steyn has played 93 Tests and claimed 439 wickets, including 26 five-fors and five ten-wicket hauls.

Steyn, the only fast bowler to take five-wicket hauls against all Test-playing nations, dominated the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings for a record 263 weeks between 2008 and 2014.

As far as ODIs are concerned, Steyn has played 125 ODIs since 2006 and claimed 196 wickets at an average of 25.95 with 6-39 against Pakistan in 2013 at Port Elizabeth being his best.

1. Shaun Pollock

Shaun Pollock
Shaun Pollock

Shaun Pollock is by far the best fast-bowler produced by South Africa as he was equally successful in both the formats of the game.

South Africa's leading Test and ODI wicket-taker, Pollock shared the new ball with Allan Donald for many years and made the Proteas one of the most formidable bowling attacks in the world.

Between 1995 and 2008, Pollock played 108 Tests and claimed 421 wickets at an average of 23.11 including 16 five-fors and a ten-wicket haul.

The former South Africa captain played 294 ODIs between 1996 and 2008 and claimed 387 wickets at an average of 24.31 including five five-fors.


Edited by Tanya Rudra
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