Some would say that bowling in T20 is akin to sending a lamb to the slaughter. There isn’t always a lot of reward for bowlers when you have fielding restrictions and batsman that have been given a license to thrill. There have been exceptions though with some bowlers refusing to feel sorry for themselves and instead dominate their counterparts. Here are the greatest T20 bowlers that have managed to come out the other side unscathed and on top.
10. Stuart Broad
The T20 career of Stuart Broad has been a curious one. Despite being 8th on the all time leading wicket takers list he hasn’t played for England since 2014. The English think tank has kept him away from the shortest format in order to preserve him for the longest one. It’s been quite a remarkable story given Broad’s prowess in T20. In 56 matches he has taken 65 wickets at an average of 22.93 and has an economy of 7.62 an over. The lanky quick from Nottingham extracts good bounce and is often a handful to get away when teams need a fast start. It remains to be seen whether he plays again for England in the T20 format but even if he doesn’t, he will go down as their best T20 bowler.
9. Rashid Khan
The 18 year old legbreak bowler from Afghanistan is proving to be one of the brightest prospects T20 cricket has to offer. In 27 games he has taken 42 wickets at an average of 14.35 and an economy of 5.91. If he carries on this way he will soon eclipse even the best stats of the world’s best T20 bowlers. Going at under 6 an over is a rare feat in T20 cricket but this talented youngster has an old head on young shoulders. He’s as clever as they come and like all god legbreaks, he always bowls to a cunning plan and often outsmarts his opponents. The world is there for the taking for his highly skilled 18 year old who is making light work of international cricket.
8. Daniel Vettori
Daniel Vettori started playing T20 cricket when it was first introduced on to the international scene. For a slow left-arm orthodox there was every chance that he would be one of the great spinners of the modern age that would become an early victim of the new regime. This wasn’t to be the case as Vettori represented the Black Caps 34 times in a 7 year T20 career. He picked up 38 wickets at an average of 19.68 and amazingly enough had an economy of 5.70. Vettori paved the way for the spinners to come in this format. He figured out how to be competitive, take wickets and keep it tight.
7. Samuel Badree
Samuel Badree has come a long way since teaching physical education in Trinidad. He’s not the biggest turner of the ball as a legbreak but he is deadly accurate. He is the go to man for the West Indies when it comes to opening the bowling. He played a huge part in the 2016 T20 World Cup success in India. Badree has played 39 times and taken 50 wickets at an average of 16.50. Badree’s greatest accomplishment so far is having the best economy rate in T20 cricket. AT 5.61 to the over he sits at the summit of world T20 cricket as far as economy rates go. His miserly approach has made him one of the best T20 bowlers around.
6. Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn’s electric pace and skiddy approach has made him prolific at the top of an innings. His raw aggression also plays a part as Dale Steyn sets out to take wickets and nothing else. It’s often easier for batsman to dispatch quick bowling in T20 cricket as there is so much more pace on the ball. Steyn combats this by using his variety of slower balls and cutters. In 42 games he has taken 58 wickets at an average of 17.39. His economy rate of 6.71 is only bettered by Banglasdesh’s Mustafizur Rahman as far as quick bowlers go. The Steyn remover is a modern day great and has carried himself with distinction in the T20 format.
5. Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangladeshi all-rounder has become one of the finest T20 bowlers around. His greatest arrow to his bow is undoubtedly his intellect and ability to read a game. His slow left-arm orthodox should be there for the hitting but Shakib is anything but easy to get away. He is normally the one in control and his economy of 6.79 illustrates just how good he is. In 59 games he has taken 70 wickets at an average of 20.84. He is also very good at drying up the runs and always does what is asked of him. Shakib is a captain’s dream and more often than not comes up with a game changing performance. He currently sits at number 5 in the all time leading wicket takers list and is far from done in T20 cricket.
4. Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir made his T20 debut in 2013 at the mature age of 34. He has been a revelation since his first ball and one wonders how good he would have been if he had started 8 years before. His South African citizenship was a problem for a number of years and he had to bide his time. Tahir waited patiently and when he got his chance he did anything but waste it. In 33 matches he has taken 55 wickets at an average of 14.81. It is nigh on impossible to get on top of Tahir as his economy of 6.63 illustrates. The harder the opposition batsmen take him on the worse the result for them. There has been an international agreement to just see his allotted over’s out with minimum risk. When chasing a big score Tahir becomes an instant match winner.
3. Umar Gul
Umar Gul was instrumental in Pakistan winning the 2009 World Cup. His pinpoint accuracy in delivering a toe crunching 145kph yorker is a thing of beauty. Gul has an athletic approach and can put in a 4 over shift that will change or swing the game in Pakistan’s favour. In his 60 games he has taken 85 wickets at an average of 16.97. His economy for a fast bowler is decent too at 7.19. Gul is a tricky customer to negotiate and can often leave an opposing team’s run chase in tatters. He has a lot of guile and the opposition are only happy once his 4 over spell has come to an end. At 33 years old Gul still has a part to play and will be eying further accolades in the future.
2. Lasith Malinga
There are few bowling actions in world cricket that are as recognizable as Malinga’s. His ability to deceive with his round arm action has left batsman looking ordinary and very foolish. Malinga has been one of Sri Lanka’s best bowling finds since Murali and Vaas. He is prolific in the T20 format and has singlehandedly won games for his team. He bowls a vicious yorker that is very hard to pick up and often rattles the stumps at a furious pace. In 67 games he has taken 89 wickets at an average of 19.65. His economy of 7.35 doesn’t tell the entire story but is never the less not bad at all. Malinga has a golden arm and whilst his teammates are going the distance he is able to come back in to the attack and cause havoc. Opposing teams have to be ahead of the rate by the time Malinga comes back at the death. He has been one of the hardest bowlers in world cricket to get away for some time and will continue to do the business for Sri Lanka.
1. Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi is the all time leading wicket taker in the T20 format. His 97 wickets in 98 matches is yet to be beaten. He has an average of 24.35 and has an economy of rate of 6.61 which is simply outstanding. Since his first game in 2006 Afridi has thrilled and come up with the goods whilst not being easy to get away. His change of pace and quick legbreaks have often deceived the best batsman in the world. Few bowlers are as switched on or as impulsive as Afridi. There is no doubt that there is a genius side to Afridi. He has big X factor and is the man for a tight situation. T20 often calls for a big performance from one individual. Afridi has been that man for a long time for Pakistan and his maverick approach with the ball has often been enough to win games. He will retire as a 2009 T20 World Cup winner and the man that has accumulated the most wickets in T20.
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