I completely missed this thread.... But I've been reliving the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' stories lately.
Check this video out from 1979. Presented by Richie Benaud - the World's Fastest Bowlers!
Given my somewhat selective cricket viewing that only covers games on video from the 70s onwards till the early 2000s, I'd leave Fred Trueman, Wes Hall and Larwood out of my list. Yes, I've watched the bodyline videos and read about it at length, but I'd rather be neutral and not sully their names or throw them in a competition with the next generation that spawned.
Another thing, most great bowlers were heavily complemented by another great bowler from the other end. Its a pity that Vaas did not have that sort of support till much later.
All time great pairs as such can be:
- Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson - they were the pioneers of pace and aggressive bowling that set the Windies up for world domination after 1975. They ensured the birth of go-for-the-kill professionalism attitude in world cricket.
- Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock - Allan Donald was deadly, aggressive and would send your stumps cartwheeling away. I wouldnt call him White Lightning for nothing.
- Michael Holding+ Andy Roberts+Colin Croft+Joel Garner - of these I would rate Andy Roberts as being as good as Holding. Simply because he was the mentor to the younger Michael Holding and shaped the Whispering Death in form and shape. No doubt Holding can claim spot no.1 on his own merits, but to leave out Roberts as a close number 2 would be injustice given the context of their times.
- Malcolm Marshall - for sure he took on after Croft and Roberts had gone. But he was undoubtedly the best after Holding got older in the 80s.
- Ambrose and Walsh - Both of them were intense. Walsh may have been slower than Ambrose, but they inherited the legacy of the Four Horsemen, they had Marshall with them and they went at it continuing to knocking the blocks off the batsmen.
- Waqar & Wasim - 'nuff said ; toe crushers, swing, pace, mixing of deliveries, setting up batsmen for the kill, accuracy, you name it!
- Imran Khan - he raised up Wasim and Waqar and alone was an amazing bowler. As a result I'm torn between listing him individually here or adding him to the bullet points above or below.
- Richard Hadlee / Glenn McGrath / Kapil Dev- not just the stats, but their bowling acumen speak for themselves. One man show for bowling in the absence of a dedicated paired partner at the other end. As Gowza said, you had the bursts - whether McDermott/Gillespie/Reiffel for Aus to complement McGrath, but individually they all shone through.
tbh, bowlers like Vaas, Shoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee, Chris Cairns, Dale Steyn, Ntini, , Shane Bond, Flintoff, Harmy, etc are all superb and great bowlers but in comparison to the retired ones in the list above, are yet to leave the lasting legacy to join that list in my mind.