Hitting the seam with regularity is one of the most potent weapons in a fast bowler’s armoury but who have been the best seamers in world cricket?
10 Best Seam Bowlers in the World as of 2022
1. Glenn McGrath
The key to effective seam bowling is to have the arm and wrist as straight as possible on delivery. Australia’s Glenn McGrath managed to get the angles right every time and that’s why most cricket fans regard him to be the best seam bowler in history.
McGrath lacked genuine pace but that was never going to hold him back. Along with that deadly seam movement, he could also generate bounce even on flat wickets. In 376 international matches, the Aussie claimed 749 victims and his record of 563 wickets as a seamer stood for some time.
2. Jimmy Anderson
England’s James Anderson eventually overtook McGrath’s record and he’s set to achieve a new milestone for seam bowlers that may never be beaten. Anderson was the first of the fast bowlers to pass 600 test wickets and, as he went into the Ashes series of 2021/22, he had 632 victims from 166 matches.
Many will think of him as a swing bowler but there are plenty of tricks in Anderson’s armoury. He has a variety of deliveries and the newer, wobble seam can be especially effective in English conditions.
3. Jasprit Bumrah
India’s new crop of quicker bowlers includes Jasprit Bumrah who is an important player in all forms of the game. He made his name in the IPL but is now equally adept at finding seam movement with both the red ball and the white ball.
Bumrah has an unusual, jerky run up and the ball is delivered with a kind of slingshot action. When that ball leaves his hand, there is an unorthodox release point and all of this makes it difficult for batters to pick him.
Coupled with pace, accuracy and excellent seam movement, Bumrah is an exceptionally good bowler and one that is closing in on 300 international wickets.
4. Kapil Dev
Bumrah may be one of India’s most potent seam bowlers in modern times but he, and all others, are following the master. Kapil Dev was one of the game’s best all-rounders and he will forever be remembered as the man who led India to their first ever world cup back in 1983.
Just as other natural fast bowlers, he had genuine pace, unerring accuracy and the ability to swing the ball away from the batsman late on. All of these qualities, combined with his ability to constantly hit the seam made him one of the best bowlers of his generation.
Kapil Dev played at a time when he was constantly being compared to Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan but Indians thought he had no equals when they named him as their player of the 20th century. He retired from the game with 687 international wickets across test matches and ODIs.
5. Stuart Broad
For many years, England’s Stuart Broad has been Jimmy Anderson’s perfect strike partner. Taller with more bounce, Broad generates more pace off the wicket and his seam movement has been crucial to his success over the years.
The Nottinghamshire paceman has been one of those to first make use of the scrambled seam. He’s also adept at reverse swing and all of those great qualities have helped him to 524 test wickets ahead of the Ashes series in 2021/22.
6. Shaun Pollock
South Africa’s Shaun Pollock was born into a great cricketing dynasty but he was the only member of his family to bowl with great pace, accuracy and seam movement. His reward for those abilities, along with a ton of hard work, was a return of more than 800 wickets in tests, ODIs and T20 Internationals.
Like Glenn McGrath, Pollock wasn’t blessed with great natural pace but it was that accuracy and excellent wrist position that helped him gain such exceptional seam movement.
7. Mohammad Abbas
Pakistan’s quicker bowlers are known for their pace and prodigious swing but one member of their current line up is especially adept at seam movement. It’s seriously difficult to bowl seam up in conditions in Pakistan and the UAE and that’s why Mohammad Abbas is such a rare talent.
Abbas struck with his second ball in test cricket as he dismissed the West Indies’ Kraigg Brathwaite for a duck. With such great skill, it’s a little surprising that he hasn’t played more international cricket but he has time to reach the 100 wicket mark before his career comes to a close.
8. Josh Hazlewood
Australia had a fearsome attack going into the 2021/22 Ashes. There’s the swing of Mitchell Starc and the pace of Pat Cummins but don’t forget about Josh Hazlewood who has a little bit of everything.
Many experts say that Hazlewood is the closest to Glenn McGrath of the current crop of Aussie seamers. His movement off that seam isn’t prodigious but, because he is so accurate, any subtle deviation means that the batsmen are in trouble.
Going into that Ashes series, Hazlewood had 337 wickets across all three formats.
9. Tim Southee
The late 2010s and early 2020s have been a productive period for New Zealand’s fast bowlers. It’s one of the reasons why the Kiwis have been such a force in the game and one of the most consistent players in that era has been Tim Southee.
It’s true that Southee, and others, have been helped by seam friendly conditions in New Zealand but he has been effective in other parts of the world. Following the T20 World Cup in 2021, he had claimed an impressive 615 wickets in the three formats.
10. Curtly Ambrose
Most cricket fans will think of West Indian bowlers in terms of their pace. Curtly Ambrose was certainly one of the most fearsome quick men around but, when conditions didn’t suit him. He would look to reel it in and rely on subtle seam movement.
Ambrose was a much smarter bowler than some will give him credit for and that ability to switch to a seam up approach makes him a worthy entry on this list. Overall, he took 630 wickets in just 274 international matches.