Top 10 Test Bowling of all time
1. Hugh Tayfield
9-113 for South Africa v England at Johannesburg in 1956-57
Wisden rating: 253.9
Needing 232 to win the fourth Test and the series, England were soon 147 for 2 and scoring freely. But in the previous Test, Hugh Tayfield had set a new Test best for his country by taking 8 for 69; now he broke his own record by becoming the only South African to take nine wickets in a Test innings. Bowling throughout the last day, he sent down 35 eight-ball overs of remarkably accurate offspin, chipping away at an England line-up that included Peter May, Colin Cowdrey and Denis Compton. Tayfield was chaired from the pitch after South Africa had won by 17 runs on their way to drawing a series in which they had been 2-0 down.
2. Anil Kumble
10-74 for India v Pakistan at Delhi in 1998-99
Wisden Rating: 248.6
When they were 101 without loss at lunch, Pakistan were on the way to drawing the Test and winning the series. Then Anil Kumble switched to the other end -- and 20 overs later it was all over. Accurate as usual, varying his pace and spin on a helpful pitch, he took 6 for 15 in 44 balls on the way to the small matter of taking all ten wickets, only the second time the feat had been achieved in Test cricket. India won a Test against their neighbours for the first time in nearly 19 years, a landmark rather lost in an individual feat few had expected to see again.
3. Jim Laker
10-53 for England v Australia at Old Trafford in 1956
Wisden Rating: 241.7
In any normal Test, Laker's first-innings figures would have been up there with the greats: 9 for 37 to bowl Australia out for 84. But some things are relative: this, after all, was Old Trafford 1956. That classical offspinner's action, allied to a perfect length on a drying pitch, made him the first bowler to take all ten wickets in a Test innings. His barely credible 19 for 90, the best match return in all first-class cricket, was achieved while the equally talented Tony Lock was taking only one wicket at the other end. The sight of Australian batsmen enclosed by close catchers is a sight that still gladdens English hearts. The hosts took a winning 2-1 lead and retained the Ashes.
4. Jack White
8-126 for England v Australia at Adelaide in 1928-29.
Wisden rating: 238.8
The 1928-29 Tests were all played to be a finish. With no declarations, three of them lasted seven days or more, including this one. So bowlers were picked for their stamina as well as their skill, and no-one had a greater appetite for work that "Farmer" White. In the first innings here, he bowled 60 overs to take 5 for 130 - a gentle warm-up for his efforts in the second innings, in which his 64.5 overs of left-arm spin bowled England to victory by just 12 runs. One of his wickets was an athletic catch off his own bowling. Not bad for a man of 38.
5. Richard Hadlee
9-52 for New Zealand v Australia at Brisbane in 1985-86.
Wisden Rating: 237.1
No-one made batsmen play at more balls than Sir Richard -- and never more so than in this, New Zealand's first Test win in Australia. That famous control and movement off the pitch wee all there as he recorded the best figures by a New Zealander in Test cricket. IT was the match of his life -- but also perhaps the most frustrating: after taking the first eight wickets to fall, he missed the chance of bagging all ten by holding an excellent catch in the deep to give Vaughan Brown his only Test wicket. In the second innings, Hadlee took a mere 6 for 71 to set New Zealand on the way to their first series win over their nearest neighbours.
6. Devon Malcolm
9-57 for England v South Africa at the Oval in 1994
Wisden Rating: 234.4
When a short ball from Fanie de Villiers clanged against Malcolm's helmet, alarm bells should have been ringing. Big Devon was one of nature's No. 11s - but also one of her fastest bowlers, especially on those rare occasions when his dander was up. Whether or not he made his much-quoted remark that "You guys are history," he certainly earned a place in the books. Bowling with fire and lift, getting the radar consistently right for once, he took his nine wickets in only 99 balls, recording the best Test figures by an England bowler since Jim Laker in 1956 and squaring the series. This guy was history, all right.
7. Bob Willis
8-43 for England v Australia at Headingley in 1981
Wisden Rating: 226.1
Despite Ian Botham's flourish with the bat, Australia needed only 130 to win and take a 2-0 lead in the series. Cue the Bob Willis' comeback show. His pace reduced by recent injury, the big man's place in the team had been under threat. But once his captain Mike Brearley had been prsuaded to let him change ends, he produced what Dennis Lillee called the greatest ever spell of fast bowling under pressure. Making the ball kick and buck at high speed, he won the match by 18 runs to change the direction of this incredible series.
8. Hedley Verity
8-43 for England v Australia at Lord's in 1934
Wisden Rating: 225.1
On the way to the ground, Verity's car ran over a black cat - but the bad luck was all Australia's. Rain made the pitch difficult, and England had the bowler to exploit it, the greatest slow left-armer of his generation. The wicket gave him added turn and bounce, but his length and line were all his own--too much for the Australians to cope with. His eight wickets in the second innings were part of the 14 he took in the day and 15 in the match, England's only Ashes win at Lord's in the 20th Century.
9. Bill O'Reilly
7-54 for Australia at England at Trent Bridge in 1934.
Wisden Rating: 224.3
'Tiger' O' Reilly was Don Bradman's favourite bowler, a legspinner with the run-up and aggression of a fast bowler. At Trent Bridge, he needed all his wiles as England set out to play for the draw. A batting line-up that included Herbert Sutcliffe, Wally Hammond, Patsy Hendren and Maurice Leyland came within ten minutes of saving the game, only for the Tiger's sharp turn and variations of pace to take the last three wickets. His eleven in the match set Australia on their way to regaining the Ashes.
10. Graham McKenzie
8-71 for Australia v West Indies at Melbourne in 1968-69.
Wisden Rating: 224.1
Strong and relentless, big 'Garth' bowled as 'heavy' a ball as any fast bowler. Here he began as he meant to go on, taking the first wicket before a run had been scored. On the way to the best figures in Tests between the two countries, he dismissed batsmen of the calibre of Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai and Roy Fredericks. Australia won by an innings to level a series they went on to win.
100. Harbhajan Singh
7-133 for India v Australia at Chennai in 200-01
Wisden Rating: 188.7
Harbhajan's extravagant offspin had already bowled India to an astonishing victory by taking 13 wickets in the previous Test (Wisden Ratings Numbers 71 and 85). Now, in the decider, he surpassed himself, taking 15 in the match. His seven in the first innings were followed by 8 for 84 in the second as India won another heart-stopper by two wickets. Harbhajan (wouldn't you know it) hit the winning runs off Glenn McGrath.
Another look at the Wisden -- 100 list shows the following bowlers who have secured the maximum number of spots. Major surprises here.
Harbhajan Singh: 4
Fazal Mahmood: 3
Ambrose is expected to be there. His outstanding bowling has resulted in many West Indian wins over the years. The fact that he shared the wickets with Walsh in quite a number of tests and Bishop in a few others helped him a lot. The other great West Indian fast bowlers shared the spoils, mostly as a quartet.
The real surprise is Harbhajan Singh. All his four great performances have come in consecutive innings, at Calcutta and Chennai. 7,6,7 and 8 wicket hauls in these innings, all in reasonably high scoring games and against a very powerful batting team have given him these spots.
To be fair, one must add that the 7 for 133 at Chennai is in the 100th spot and likely to be knocked off soon from the Wisden 100. But then he is likely to add a few of his own performances in the years to come.
Harbhajan Singh has also made an impact on the Wisden -- 100 in a different way. The highest Analysis points that were secured by a bowler in a single match have been 450 by Laker for his 10 for 53 and 9 for 37 at Manchester in 1956. This record as also the total points record is unlikely to be surpassed.
Harbhajan, with his 7 for 133 and 8 for 84 at Chennai, has just gone past Bob Massie's second best match total of 409 points. He has got 410 points for the two performances together.