What is England's best bowling attack ever?
Well this article started its life after one too many sherberts in Johannesburg (my favourite Test ground) after Stuart Broad had ripped through the SAFAS in the Test match last winter.
Memories are a tad hazy due to it being months ago (5) but mainly due to the fact that the rand was 24 to the pound and beer was so cheap you couldn’t afford to not drink it.
I think (and Freddie will correct me if I’m wrong) that the debate started after Broad’s county coach Mick Newell was interviewed after his magnificent spell demolished the Proteas batting line up and said that Broad was in the top 3 bowlers England have ever had.
Hence the Addis Army debate over the next few days.
So who would be England’s best bowling attack? There is a few to choose from.
Do you just choose the top 5 test wicket takers?
Or the best strike rate?
Or best strike rate and economy?
Other factors to think about and perhaps influence a decision would be:
Length of career
Match winning performances
Injuries during the career
Were the pitches before covers were used more bowler friendly?
Has the DRS made a big difference?
The opposition you played against.
Last summer the BBC did an article asking the very same question. Their one gave points for this, points for that, points for the other. All very scientific and very interesting (compared with this article anyway!)
The BBC’s top 10 were:
1. Matthew Hoggard
2. Jimmy Anderson
3. Stuart Broad
4. Graeme Swann
5. Derek Underwood
6. Alec Bedser
7. Bob Boring Willis
8. Ian Botham
9. Fred Trueman
10. Brian Statham
Here’s my thoughts for what they are worth.
I want my attack to include the following:
Bowlers who combine match winning displays, can bowl with control when needed, will bowl for long spells, at home and abroad and are equally good at ripping out the tail as they are at getting early breakthroughs. Easy choice.
Match winning displays i.e. 5’fors, England’s record holder Ian Botham. 2nd Sydney Barnes, a man who played most of his cricket for England whilst playing club or minor counties cricket!! Can’t see that happening again can you?!
Interestingly, Hoggy isn’t in our top 10 for that but Andrew Caddick and Gus Fraser are. So much for me wanting match winning displays.
Top wicket averages for the top 10 wicket takers, 1st Fred Trueman, 2nd Brian Statham, 3rd Alec Bedser, 4th Bob Willis, 5th Derek Underwood.
Bloody hell this is getting harder the more I investigate!
I’ve got 2 certainties in my attack, Ian Botham, he could rip out the openers, especially early in his career when he bowled QUICK. Capable of blasting away tail-enders, he would bowl all day for you in the toughest conditions.
Jimmy Anderson. Our leading wicket taker, definitely got better with age. Bowls with control when not much is happening but can be devastating when the conditions are right.
Hoggy, great at getting the best players out and great control. Ripping out the tail though?
Boring Bob, bowled some amazing spells, kept going for years on dodgy knees. Fab average.
Statham, very quick by all accounts, great average, not many 5’fors.
Alec Bedser, great average, plenty of 5’fors, would his bowling nowadays be as good on today’s pitches?
Fiery Fred, 5’fors, great average, bowled long spells as long as he could have a beer or 6, best at ripping out tail-enders.
Stuart Broad, another getting better with age, capable of demolishing sides in a session. Trent Bridge and Johannesburg are particularly fond memories. Getting tougher with age too.
How about Swann versus Underwood!!
Underwood unique, would have taken loads more Test wickets if he didn’t do a couple of overseas excursions! Lots of 5’fors, great average, but would his style be as good on modern pitches?
Swanny, quite a short career, lots of 5’fors, good average for a spinner. Aided hugely by the DRS unlike Underwood, but possibly bowled on less spin-bowler friendly pitches than Deadly.
Well then, and I’m sure you can come up with loads of other names, Larwood, Fraser, Caddick, Gough, Igglesden, Ealham etc but here’s my best all-time favourite bowling attack to take on the world:
(but it could be Botham, Bedser, Willis, Swann, Statham).
Unfortunately I looked into my best all-time favourite batting line up. 10 times harder. Bugger.