Despite cricket being known as a batsman’s game, fast bowlers have ruled the sports for so many years. The sight of a fast bowler running at a high speed and bowling a 90-95 mph delivery can easily terrorise a batsman. On their days, these bowlers can wreak havoc against any team, against the best of batting line-ups. However, the balance between the bat and ball can drastically shift if a batsman sweetly times the ball and destroy the bowling attack with their hard hitting. Clearly, such a batsman can easily become a nightmare even for a great bowler.
Here is a list of 10 bowlers who have revealed their most feared batsmen (or greatest opponents):
1. Glenn McGrath – Sachin Tendulkar
It was one of cricket’s most riveting contests: Sachin Tendulkar pitted against Australia fast-bowling legend Glenn McGrath. It was all the more important as the contest was between a batsman who liked to dominate bowlers and a fast bowler who gave little away with his robotic accuracy. McGrath considers Tendulkar as technically correct and mentally strong. Tendulkar’s moment of dominance against McGrath came in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002.
“I think Sachin enjoys a similar adulation as Don Bradman at that level. He was a massive challenge. Sometimes I enjoyed success; at others he scored some big 100s,” said McGrath in an interview.
2. Shane Warne – Sachin Tendulkar – Brian Lara
Whenever legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne clashed head to head, it always produced a beautiful and competitive rivalry to witness. Warne has said a number of times that he found Tendulkar to be his toughest opponents in international cricket. However, the King of Spin has found it difficult to split Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar as the two best batsmen he bowled to, citing the West Indian’s match-winning ability and the Indian’s ultra-consistency as their finest traits.
“To me, Sachin was the greatest all-round player; day-in, day-out, any conditions, pace versus spin, the expectations he was under (with) a billion people watching him,” he had said.
3. Muttiah Muralitharan – Brian Lara
Legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has identified former West Indies maestro Brian Lara as the most difficult batsmen he has ever bowled to.
“I think, of all the batsmen in the world, he plays my bowling better than anyone else, including Sachin Tendulkar,” the off spinner had said. “His eyesight and hand co-ordination is very good and he’s able to adjust very quickly to very good deliveries,” he added.
4. Courtney Walsh – Javed Miandad
Legendary fast bowler Courtney Walsh who terrorised opposition international batsmen for over 16 years, considers Javed Miandad as a tough adversary. “He was someone who didn’t have the flair of his team mates but he was a master batsman, he was a craftsman and very tough to dismiss,” he had said.
5. Curtly Ambrose – Sachin Tendulkar
West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose describes Sachin Tendulkar as one of the greatest batsmen of their generation. Ambrose has hailed Tendulkar’s immense power of concentration and reveals he tried everything but found out that it was almost difficult to unsettle the Indian batting great.
“There are a few tricks we bowlers try to unsettle batsmen but you couldn’t ruffle Tendulkar. I still gave him my stare as it was part of my game but I knew it was not going to work because he was such a composed person,” he had said.
6. Waqar Younis – Brian Lara
The master of reverse-swing bowling and one of Pakistan’s most famous cricketers, Waqar Younis, sees Lara above some of the other great batsmen he also considered as great opponents.
7. Brett Lee – Sachin Tendulkar
When it comes to bowling to Sachin Tendulkar, Brett Lee, considered to be one of the fastest bowlers of all time, feels he should’ve walked onto the ground with an autograph book in one hand and a pen in the other.
8. Shoaib Akhtar – Rahul Dravid
Former Pakistan speedster, Shoaib Akhtar, considers Rahul Dravid as his ‘biggest nightmare.’ Akhtar has likened Dravid to boxing legend Mohammad Ali, saying the Indian batting great “would tire you out.”
9. Jason Gillespie – Brian Lara
Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie found Brian Lara to be the best and most difficult batsman he has bowled to. He rated Lara’s ability to dispatch even the best of deliveries to any part of the ground that he desired.
10. Mitchell Johnson – AB de Villiers
The most fearsome fast bowler in recent memory, Mitchell Johnson, has termed South Africa’s AB de Villiers as the toughest batsman he ever faced up to. Johnson found it difficult and challenging to get him out.