Who are the greatest ODI bowlers ever? Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath, Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq and a few others perhaps come to mind.
Such is ODI bowling, however, that for a period, we had so many superstars in the game that some truly brilliant bowlers went under the radar and never got the attention they deserved. Therefore, we flash the spotlight on some of them.
Brett Lee bowled in an era when Australia had Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and quicker bowlers like Shaun Tait. Yet, he made a mark of his own as a quick speedster who took wickets at will.
While Lee is often pitted against Shoaib Akhtar as the fastest bowler, he never fully got the attention he deserved for his wicket-taking skills. Lee has 380 ODI wickets in 221 games at an incredible strike rate of less than 30, one of the best among pacers.
India have had a lot of wonderful ODI bowlers including Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Laxmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan and now Jasprit Bumrah.
However, one of the greatest India produced in this department was Javagal Srinath. The Karnataka pacer finished his career with 315 wickets in 229 games at an average of 28.08, with 10 hauls of four wickets or more. A legend in his own right, Srinath upheld India's pace bowling department for more than a decade.
If we were to list some of the best limited-overs spinners ever, it is very unlikely that Shahid Afridi will feature in the list. Yet, he was exceedingly brilliant and a bowler who could bat, rather than the other way around.
Afridi has 395 ODI wickets at an average of 34.51, with 13 hauls of four wickets or more and is among the most successful leg-spinners to ever play limited-overs cricket. His best haul of 7/12 against Australia remains the best individual figures by a spinner in the format.
Sri Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas was a terrific new ball bowler in the nineties. He once picked up four wickets in the opening over of an ODI, including a hat-trick off the first three balls of the innings in the 2003 World Cup.
Despite being one of the best in that era, the left-arm pacer is less heralded now. Vaas finished with exactly 400 ODI wickets from 322 games at an average of 27.53 and a strike rate less than 40. He was a brilliant bowler for Sri Lanka at a time all they had were spinners.
South Africa have produced some rip-roaring fast bowlers over the years. Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, and perhaps even Morne Morkel will get a mention when picking out the best Proteas pacers.
However, one underrated fast bowler from the side was Makhaya Ntini. Despite being a relentless pacer with an ability to pick wickets from nowhere, Ntini was less regarded in his time and lesser now still. Ntini had 266 wickets in just 173 ODIs at an average of 24.65 and a strike rate of 32.6, with 12 hauls of four wickets or more.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Glyn Kirk / Sandra Teddy