2013 in Review: Top 10 ODI bowlers of the year

Author : Tushar Agarwal

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and not reflective of the website as a whole.

This was a year that saw some amazing cricket being played. New stars were discovered, while many veterans took leave of the game. There were some great inspiring bowling performances. Pakistan produced some amazing bowling statistics this time, helped by the fact that they played a lot of ODI cricket this year. There were other impressive performances too-players who did not play as many games, but still managed to get wickets and win crucial matches for their teams.

Here go the 10 best ODI bowlers of this year.

10. Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson struck to remove Michael Lumb lbw

Mitchell Johnson

He had to be the spearhead of the Australian attack this time around with veterans like Lee no more part of the team anymore and other bowlers like Pattinson, Faulkner and Starc undergoing injury concerns. He delivered pretty well, taking 33 wickets this year with a healthy economy of 4.7 considering the fact that he usually bowls at the time when power-plays are on.

He had a successful tour of India with 7 wickets under his belt in 5 games, including a 4-wicket haul at Mohali that won the game for the visitors. Back home, he gave a tough time to both Sri Lanka and West Indies that toured Australia earlier in the year. Sri Lanka were able to get away with a level 2-2, while the Windies were thrashed 5-0, Johnson picking up 5 in 7 games here too. His best performance of the year (4/36) came against Scotland at Edinburgh as a result of which Scotland lost the game by 200 runs.

He will be a key prospect for the Aussies in 2014 both in Tests and ODIs and now that he is one of the seniors of the team at 32, he will have the task of grooming bowlers for the future Australian team. He is likely to be around for the next World Cup as Australia’s main attacking bowler.

9. Ravichandran Ashwin

R Ashwin is congratulated after a wicket

Ravichandran Ashwin

This player, who was a find of the IPL, has turned out to be a wonderful bowling option for India and he has had another great year, and will probably have many to follow. He was one of the highest wicket-takers this year, claiming 40 batsmen in 29 games. The master of the carom ball, he troubled batsmen with his subtle variations in spin and pace. He played most of his games at home this year, barring the Champions Trophy in England and the Tri-nation series in West Indies both of which India won, getting 8 and 6 wickets respectively in these tournaments.

He had an amazing time playing Tests as well, and he rose to the no. 1 spot in the ICC all-rounder rankings following a Test century against West Indies, and remains there as the year comes to an end. He along with Ravindra Jadeja are the best prospects that India have as regards spin bowling at present and for the coming couple of years at least.

He has to carry on the legacy that his predecessors Harbhajan and Kumble have left behind, and he looks up to the task without a doubt, being the 2nd highest wicket-taker for India this year.

8. James Anderson

James Anderson struck twice in his first over

James Anderson

He had an amazing Ashes back home with 22 wickets in 5 games. As regards ODI cricket, he was up among the wickets as well, taking 23 wickets in just the 10 games he played this year. He had one of the best bowling averages (15.26) and one of the healthiest strike rates as well, getting a wicket almost every 22 balls.

He has been England’s key bowler and has been up there among the best bowlers for almost a decade now. He had good outings again this year, against New Zealand playing at home and away, and in the Champions Trophy as well in which England ended as runners-up where he took 11 wickets in 5 games. His best performance came at Napier against the Kiwis where he ended with figures of 5/34, a game England won comfortably by 8 wickets. With Anderson you just assume he will produce some classy swing bowling and give you wickets early on. He is the one to look up to for any youngster who aspires to be a swing bowler.

The thing that is most amazing about him is how long he has been the same-running in to open the attack for England and striking more often than not. He will be a treat to watch as long as he continues to play.

7. Mohammad Irfan

Mohammad Irfan took a wicket in his first over

Mohammad Irfan

This giant, who although made a late entry into international cricket at 31, has managed to turn all heads. Not sideways, but upwards. His more than 7 feet high body running in to bowl deliveries at 140 plus can be intimidating for any batsman, however classy he may be. Add to that the bounce he generates because of his height, and the fact that he hits the right areas most of the time, and it is not surprising that he is one of the most successful wicket-takers of the year gone by with 38 successes with an amazing economy of less than 4.50 in the 24 games he played.

He had a particularly good time against South Africa when Pakistan toured in March and also during their series in November, where he picked up wickets almost every time he bowled. His 4/33 at the Centurion was the highlight of his year, in a game that Pakistan won by 6 wickets, and he bagged Man of the Match.

Now that Pakistan have found this amazing potential, it is up to them to tap it. They have to make sure he remains fit and keeps playing regular international cricket if they have to reap the benefits of having such a tall quickie in their ranks. He can be equally effective in Test cricket too, if given proper opportunities.

6. Ryan Mclaren

Ryan McLaren celebrates after dismissing Misbah-ul-Haq

Ryan Mclaren

He bagged 45 wickets in 2013, the highest by a South African bowler. That included four 4-wicket hauls, and although all of them did not turn out to be match winners, they did have a considerable impact on the game. He has proved to be a good hand with the bat as well, and he can contribute some valuable runs at no. 6 or 7 if the team needs.

He entered international cricket pretty late, but he has not failed to make his mark. South Africa might consider him for the all-rounder spot in their World Cup squad, given his skill and his experience, if not of the international stage, but still of having played cricket for so long and having over 100 First-class and List A matches under his belt.

He broke Shane Warne’s record of most wickets against an opponent in a calendar year. He has 25 wickets against Pakistan this year, as opposed to Warne’s 24 in 1994.

5. Junaid Khan

Junaid Khan appeals for an lbw chance

Junaid Khan

This young pacer is the 2nd highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in 2013 at 24 years of age. He has 47 wickets to his name. He found his feet properly in international cricket only this year. He played 26 games, and produced impressive spells on a regular basis. As far as numbers go, his 4/15 against Zimbabwe at Harare was his best, a game Pakistan won by 90 runs. He has proved to be a very effective opening bowler for his side, and there is no reason why this left-armer can’t be the next fast bowling sensation from Pakistan, although he has a long way to go before he can be ranked along with Imran, Waqar, Wasim or even Akhtar.

He started off the year with an impressive 3/39 against India at the Eden Gardens, and never looked back. After that be it South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka, he proved his worth almost every time. There were only 4 instances where he went wicket-less, which explains why he creates this buzz-this expectation of a wicket very time he opens the bowling. It is unsettling for the opening batsman psychologically as well if he knows that this bowler is almost always is successful when he is out to bowl.

Pakistan have to make sure they hold on to this gem of a bowler to add on to the list of impressive opening bowlers they have been contributing to world cricket for so long now.

4. Mitchell McClenaghan

Mitchell McClenaghan took 1 for 37

Mitchell McClenaghan

This medium pace sensation from New Zealand is sure destined for great things and could well be on the way of filling the shoes of names like Scott Styris or even Jacob Oram in the Kiwi ranks. He got 4 wickets for 20 runs against South Africa on debut in January. It took him just 8 more games to get in 3 more such hauls, the other ones all coming against different oppositions-England, Sri Lanka and Australia- all good, competitive teams.

That speaks volumes about his wicket-taking ability and he will be one prospect New Zealand will surely explore and use to the fullest. He was the only Kiwi to make it to the ICC One-Day XI of 2013, while no Kiwi was selected for the Test side.

He can be a tad expensive at times, but that is acceptable with the batsman friendly rules that govern cricket today and the fact that he can produce breakthroughs that are more important any day. He has an impressive List-A record with almost 2 wickets every time he has bowled. One can expect him to dominate the New Zealand fast bowling department in future years to come, and he can be ranked among the best in the business once he starts bowling more economically.

3. Dale Steyn

Dale Steyn struck twice with the new ball

Dale Steyn

His name being here is no surprise. Nor will it be so for the next 4-5 years at least, seeing how fit this 30-year old looks and runs in with all the menace in his action and eyes that he has had from the time he has earned the reputation of being the most savage of all bowlers of recent time. He has 27 wickets from 13 games this year, but what stands out is the astonishingly low average-15.85, and a more astonishingly low economy of 3.65, which is way better than any of the other top 30 wicket-takers of the year, none of whom come below 4.

These are amazing statistics and only Steyn has the potential to have such numbers against his name. His best performances came in November when he took 6/39 and 5/25 against Pakistan at Port Elizabeth and Abu Dhabi respectively. He bagged 3 wickets in each of the 2 games against India at home in the series that South Africa won 2-0.

He can be called the most destructive fast bowler in the world today. And most effective too, as the numbers and his match winning performances suggest. It is difficult to find an answer to his pace and swing, and there are extremely few instances when he has gone wicket-less. It is likely to remain so in the future provided he stays fit. This year, he was selected for the 6th consecutive time in the ICC One-Day XI team.

2. Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja is all smiles after picking a wicket

Ravindra Jadeja

The title of ‘Sir’ which was initially given to him to make fun actually fits today, now that he is India’s most successful bowler this year with 52 wickets in 2013. He was Man of the Match in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in which he got 2 wickets and scored 33* with the bat. He took 12 wickets in 5 games in this tournament that India won, that included a five-for against the West Indies at The Oval, for which he was Man of the Match, too.

It has been an incredible year for him, and likewise, for Indian limited overs cricket. And he has been one of the reasons for it. His 4/23 in the Tri-Nation final at Trinidad was instrumental in wrapping up the Sri Lankan tail in a thrilling game that India won by 1 wicket with 2 balls remaining to lift the winner’s trophy.

He carries the burden of Indian spin department on his shoulders, at least in limited over cricket wherein few have proved to be as effective as him. He continued about his work unaffected when he was at the receiving end of some ill-humour nobody playing at the international level would have liked to get. He took that in his stride and today he is one of the best in the world as far as spin bowling in limited over cricket goes. Thus, we know he can deliver in tough situations and pull off some match-savers at the most needed times.

He can and will surely go on to become one of India’s best spinners on current form. At 25, he has all the time in the world to become one of the most successful bowlers of the game in the future.

1. Saeed Ajmal

Saeed Ajmal takes off after claiming a wicket

Saeed Ajmal

It was an amazing year for this 36-year old who has 60 wickets to his name so far, the highest among the lot. He had a pretty healthy economy (4.13) too, while he went about his business. Ajmal entered late in the international arena, but he is one of the best today when it comes to bowling. He is Pakistan’s main weapon in the middle overs when they rely on him to get them the wickets and break the partnerships.

He has a knack of doing that, and leaving the batsmen utterly confused. He uses the doosra to good effect, which explains why batsmen find him so difficult to read. He is a wily customer too, and proves to be an intelligent bowler more often than not and is seen to be bowling according to the situation most times.

He started off the year in style with 3/20 and 5/24 in consecutive games against India in the last two games of the series that Pakistan won 2-1. Then came South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe and recently Sri Lanka, all of whom got a taste of his dangerous bowling.

His most recent performance of 4/39 against Sri Lanka as the year comes to an end is instrumental in giving Pakistan a 3-1 lead in the 5 match series against them. He is sure to continue for another year or even more and till then all the batsmen in the world are going to be weary of him, whenever they face him. He continues to be one of the most difficult spinners to read in recent times.

 

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