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Left arm bowlers offer sides a different line of attack and their angles give batters something extra to think about. Here are some of the best left handed bowlers of all time.
Top 12 Left Handed Bowlers of All Time
While this list is in no particular order, many would argue that Wasim Akram was the best left handed bowler of all time. The Pakistan all-rounder had genuine pace and prodigious swing that many batsmen found impossible to deal with when the conditions were in his favour.
Even though he played his last game over twenty years ago, Wasim remains Pakistan’s leading wicket taker in tests with 414 victims. Added to that haul are 502 wickets in 356 ODIs.
The best seamer of any kind to come out of Sri Lanka so far is Chaminda Vaas. With his swing and seam, he proved to be a perfect foil for the mystery spin of Muttiah Muralitharan.
He played in 111 test matches, plus 322 ODIs and Vaas was the leader of Sri Lanka’s new ball attack for much of his 15-year international career. He is the leading Sri Lankan test wicket taker among seamers with 355 victims. Vaas also claimed exactly 400 One Day International wickets.
England left armer Derek Underwood was an unusual bowler, Described as a spinner, he bowled off breaks, but they came off a longer run up and at medium pace. It was an effective strategy and Underwood could be particularly potent on damp, uncovered wickets.
He finished with 297 test match wickets and that remains a record among English spin bowlers. He also claimed 32 wickets in 26 early ODIs and, when the conditions were in his favour, ‘Deadly’ Derek could be unplayable.
Some England supporters might suggest that he lacked accuracy at times, but that’s not a fair summary of Mitchell Johnson’s career. He possessed raw pace and aggression and was a fearsome bowler when his radar was working.
A total of 313 wickets from 73 test matches suggests he must have been doing something right. Johnson was Australia’s spearhead when he was fit and he also took 277 wickets across the two limited overs formats.
Australia’s Alan Davidson was a genuine all-rounder who could have got into the national side on the back of either his batting or bowling. He was strongly built and his bowling action allowed him to get late swing which was his chief weapon.
Left armer Davidson played in a strong Australian side between 1953 and 1963. He was selected for 44 tests and finished with an exceptional tally of 186 wickets. Among his notable achievements was the fact that he took five wickets in a test innings on no fewer than 14 occasions with best figures of 7/93.
While he was considered to be the best slow left armer of his era, Hedley Verity didn’t impart too much spin on the ball. The key to his success lay in unwavering accuracy that made it very difficult for batsmen to get away.
On the uncovered, rain affected wickets of the time, the Yorkshireman would often be unplayable. Verity played in 40 tests for England and took 144 wickets with a best of 8/43. His career was cut short by the Second World War and, sadly, Hedley Verity died of injuries sustained during the Allied Invasion of Sicily in 1943.
While he’s often overlooked because of the achievements made by his compatriot Muttiah Muralitharan, it’s fair to say that Rangana Herath was one of cricket’s greatest ever left arm spinners.
He’s second only to Murali in the list of leading Sri Lankan wicket takers with 433 victims in 93 tests with best figures of 9/127. He didn’t have great turn at times, but his flight and guile made this left armer one of the best.
A left armer who could combine pace, swing and seam during his heyday, Zaheer Khan was a very effective bowler for India in all formats. With the new ball, he could deliver perfect yorkers while he had an exceptional ability for reverse swing and to swing the old ball both ways.
Zaheer played in 92 test matches for India between 2000 and 2014. He took an impressive 311 wickets with best figures of 7/87.
While it’s far more difficult to get the white ball to swing, Zaheer made a mark in limited overs cricket too, taking 299 international wickets across the two formats.
Bishan Singh Bedi
Bishan Bedi was part of a regular quartet of Indian slow bowlers, but he was the standout among his contemporaries. It was often said that Bedi had the most elegant and stylish of actions, relying mainly on flight and guile to deceive the batsmen.
It was an effective approach too and this left arm spinner took 266 test wickets in just 67 matches with best figures of 7/98.
Late swing is Mitchell Starc’s trademark and we should all be aware of those big inswinging yorkers that he delivers with deadly accuracy. Injury has held him back at times, but he’s still managed to pass 300 test match wickets and there’s time to add some more.
Starc has also been effective in the canary yellow of Australia’s one day teams where he has claimed 284 wickets in two formats. As he approaches his mid-30s, Starc may begin to manage his workload so we should enjoy his quality for as long as we can.
Many suggest that Garry Sobers was cricket’s greatest ever all-rounder. That’s an argument for another time, so let’s just focus on his bowling for now. He was one of just a handful of players who was effective at sending down both spin and medium pace.
Because of those qualities, Garry Sobers could adapt his bowling to almost any set of conditions. In 93 test matches, he took 235 wickets with best figures in an innings of 6/73.
Daniel Vettori was plucked from obscurity to make his debut for New Zealand as an 18-year-old in 1997, and he would go on to enjoy an 18-year international career. As a left arm spinner, he possessed great control and he was a tall bowler, so he could generate some extra bounce.
Vettori took 362 wickets in 112 tests to become New Zealand’s second highest in this format behind Sir Richard Hadlee. We can also add 343 international wickets in the two limited overs forms.
This is another of our lists which contains some exceptional cricketers. The fact that they are all left handed is something of a side note. They would all be considered among the best bowlers of any kind.
In a lot of lists that I compile, there’s often a feeling that I might have left someone out, but I think this one is complete. If you disagree and have a favourite of your own, please let me know.