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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top Ten Bowlers of Twenty20 Cricket

Twenty20 is the shortest and the latest format of cricket, but there is no doubt, twenty20 has become the most popular format of the game within a very short time. One of the biggest reasons behind its sky-rocketing popularity is its hard-hitting batting display. In a sense, twenty20 is meant to be a game for hard-hitters where bowlers receive less attention than their batting counterparts. Despite the pre-occupying dominance of batsmen in this format, twenty20 format has already got some excellent bowlers who are no less dominant than the batsmen.

Here, I have made a list of top ten bowlers of twenty20 international. Before going through the list, I would like to say that the list is based on my own opinion and you do not necessarily need to agree with me on this list. You may have your own opinion and I would be glad if you share your opinion with us in the comment section. While making the list, I gave priority to the number of wickets as well as economy rate and average of the bowlers. Now, let us go through the list here:

Umar Gul

The Pakistani pacer is undoubtedly the best ever twenty20 bowler. His ability to swing the old ball and produce excellent Yorkers in dead overs has made him one of the most threatening bowlers of twenty20 international. With 37 wickets from 21 games at an average of 11.08, Gul is currently the highest wicket taker in this format. His career economy rate is 5.38 which is pretty much impressive in this shortest form of the game.

Moreover, Umar Gul became first (and only bowler so far) to pick up 5 wickets in twenty20 cricket, a feat he achieved against New Zealand during twenty20 world cup 2009 as his match figure stood at 3 overs-6 runs-5 wickets. Umar Gul was the highest wicket taker in both of the twenty20 world cup tournaments held in 2007 and 2009, picking up 13 and 14 wickets respectively.

Ajantha Mendis

Mystery is the best word that could go with the Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis. The 24-year-old can steal the show for his team, keeping the opposition batsmen guessing. Mendis possesses almost all the weapons of a spinner in his armory. He can produce off spin as well as leg spin with sheer amount of pace without bringing any significant change in his grip, and thus, making the task harder for the batsmen. With a spectacular average of 8.60, Mendis picked up 23 wickets from just 10 matches alongside an economy rate of 5.21. In fact, he has the best bowling average among the bowlers included in this list.

Mendis’ 3 wickets for 20 in 4 overs ousted Australia from the group stage of twenty20 world cup 2009. In the same tournament, Mendis produced another lethal performance against New Zealand when he picked up 3 wickets for 9 runs in 3 overs. With 12 wickets from 7 matches, Mendis finished second to Umar Gul among the highest wicket takers of the tournament.

Shahid Afridi

The Pakistani all rounder has become a threat for the opposition batmen in twenty20 cricket. With his leg spin, Shahid Afridi picked up 33 wickets from 23 games at an average of 15.57 and with an economy rate of 5.74. Afridi is now the second most wicket taker in twenty20 international after Umar Gul. Besides leg spin, Afridi can produce off spin with sheer pace, and his ability to drift the ball very often is proven lethal for the batsmen. As a bowler he progressed a lot over the last 2 years and is now one of the integral parts of Pakistan’s bowling attack in both ODI and twenty20 cricket. Afridi picked up 12 wickets in the inaugural twenty20 world cup, and then bagged 11 wickets in the recently concluded twenty20 world cup 2009.

Daniel Vettori

Daniel Vettori is perhaps the best left arm spinner at this moment in the world. I used the word ‘perhaps’ in the previous sentence, but when it comes to twenty20 cricket, Vettori is, for sure, the best left arm spinner in the world. Daniel Vettori is the third highest wicket taker in twenty20 international with 25 wickets from 16 games at an average of 14.08. His economy rate of 5.50 is also very impressive.

Vettori is capable of dominating batsmen by bringing variation in length, flight and speed. The 30-year-old can also produce drift in his deliveries. Vettori missed a big part of New Zealand’s twenty20 world cup 2009, but the spinner impressed all in the first edition of twenty20 world cup two years back taking 11 wickets from 6 games.

Lasith Malinga

Yorker is one of the biggest assets of pacers when it comes to twenty20 cricket because in twenty20, a pacer need to check the run rate towards the end of the innings, and producing Yorkers is one of the most important techniques of restricting opposition batsmen from playing big shots. Well, Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga is perhaps one of the biggest artists of producing Yorker effortlessly and effectively in twenty20 cricket.

Malinga has 19 wickets from 15 twenty20 matches to his credit at an average of 18.89. His economy rate of 7.37 may not be something outstanding, but his ability to check the run rate in the dead overs by producing sheer amount of Yorkers made me include him in this list. His unconventional bowling action also creates problems for the batsmen as they can not make any guess from his grip. Malinga keeps his grip hidden until the last moment before delivering the ball, and thus, batsmen can not understand the trajectory of his deliveries.

Saeed Ajmal

Saeed Ajmal is perhaps the biggest prospect of Pakistan cricket in the recent time. The off spinner has impressed all by picking up 12 wickets from just 7 matches, and thus, helping Pakistan to win the twenty20 world cup 2009. Ajmal looks so promising that there are many who believe that he could serve Pakistan as the prime spinner of the team in the next few years. You would be surprised to know that Ajmal played only one twenty20 international before the 2009 world twenty20.

His career record looks very impressive with 13 wickets from 8 games at an average of 14.00 and conceding 5.71 runs per over. At 31, you might think that Ajmal has already reached at the end of his career, but the way he produces doosras, his scotch delivery, it seems that Ajmal is just going to dominate the opposition batsmen in the years to come. I think, after Saqlain Mushtaq, Pakistan has got another spinner who can produce doosra effectively consistently.

Dale Steyn

Picking up 20 wickets from 12 games, the South African pacer is now the fifth highest wicket taker in twenty20 international. He has an excellent average of 14.50, alongside a standard economy rate of 6.74. Dale Steyn is a genuine quick bowler who always tries to beat the batsmen with pace, and is capable of producing excellent out-swings. On a pacer friendly wicket, Dale Steyn is really a big threat for any batsman in the world. His aggression coupled with skill and talent has made him a dangerous pacer for the opposition batsmen.

Steyn showed his guile and aggression against West Indies in a rain-affected twenty20 match two years back when he picked up 4 wickets for 9 runs in his 3 overs. This is the fourth best match figure of twenty20 international.

RP Singh

RP Singh is the only Indian included in this list. Singh has 15 wickets from 10 games to his credit at an average of 15.00, conceding 6.81 runs per over. The pacer was instrumental behind India’s triumph in twenty20 world cup 2007, picking up 12 wickets from 7 games. No doubt, he failed to live up to the expectation during the second edition of twenty20 world cup, but still I found enough justification to include RP Singh in the top ten list of twenty20 bowlers.

The left arm pacer impressed all during IPL 2009, and thus, earning a recall to the twenty20 squad of Indian team. Unlike many left arm pacers, RP Singh can produce in-swing for the right handed batsmen. Moreover, he can swing the ball both ways in what making the task tougher for the opponent batsmen.

Abdur Razzak

I know many of you might argue with me on the inclusion of Bangladeshi left arm spinner Abdur Razzak. Well, I do believe that he is one of the most potent spinners for twenty20 cricket. You might say that 6 of Razzak’s 19 twenty20 wickets came against Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ireland. What you are missing here is that Razzak’s career best 4 for 16 came against South Africa last year in a game which Bangladesh could have won, if their batsmen could play with some responsibility.

Abdur Razzak failed to make any impression during Bangladesh twenty20 world cup 2009 mission, but the left arm spinner has been an effective performer for Bangladesh both in twenty20 and ODI formats. Razzak picked up his 19 wickets from 11 twenty20 matches with an excellent average of 13.57 and a good economy rate of 6.29.

Roelof van der Merwe

The South African bowling-all rounder has shown his talent and skill as a left arm spinner during the twenty20 world cup 2009, picking up 10 wickets from 6 games at an average of 13.50 and with an economy rate of 5.62. No doubt, Roelof van der Merwe is one of the biggest prospects of South African cricket. At 24, he has lots of years ahead of him, and I see him as a future of South African cricket.

His career record of 11 wickets from 7 games at an average of 15.00 as well as an economy rate of 5.89 may not fully show his talent and skill as a spinner. I would just recommend you to judge his performance against India in the Super Eight round of twenty20 world cup 2009. Against Indian batsmen, who are traditionally known as the master of spin bowling, Roelof van der Merwe conceded only 13 runs in 4 overs with a wicket. So, I do think you can raise any question regarding his talent and potential.

I honestly admit that I have missed out some other bowlers who could have made it to the list by their own. However, you know this is a list of top 10 bowlers where I can not include an extra bowler because the number of places is limited. Some other talented bowlers who could have been included in the squads are:

Muttiah Muralitharan, Johan Botha, Stuart Broad, Wayne Parnell, Harbhajan Singh, Albie Morkel, Graeme Swann, Shoaib Malik, Nathan Bracken, Jerome Taylor, James Anderson, Irfan Pathan, Prosper Utseya etc.


  1. Anonymous10:35 AM


  2. Anonymous5:41 AM

    lolz we you should stuart broad who gave away 6 consecutive sixes to yuvrag singh

  3. Anonymous7:39 AM

    i think that Dale Steyn should be 1st or 2nd,considering his wickets and his low economy rate.