Tony Greig fends off a ball from Jeff Thomson

Thommo v Greig in Melbourne, in the 1974-75 series

© Patrick Eagar/Getty Images
30

The Jury's Out

The greatest ball

Four fast bowlers, one spinner; two deadly yorkers, a bullet, an arm ball, and magic from Waz

Jeff Thomson to Tony Greig
Brisbane, 1974

By Mark Nicholas

Rather than go for the greatest delivery, I am going for the one that made the most impact on a young fan. These things are entirely subjective, though Shane Warne had a good crack at contradicting the point. Any amount of his wizardry is enough to make an argument for both a gift and a performance that seemed supernatural. Warne to Gatting, Warne to Strauss (twice), Warne to Chanderpaul, and so on.

Others that captivated me were Dennis Lillee to Viv Richards in a famous one-day match between Western Australia and Queensland in Perth; Malcolm Marshall to Mark Waugh in a one-day match in Southampton; Michael Vaughan to Sachin Tendulkar (the perfect offbreak) at Trent Bridge; Andrew Flintoff to Ricky Ponting at Edgbaston in 2005; Mitchell Johnson to Faf du Plessis at Centurion little more than a year ago. These were all deliveries that shocked, surprised and thrilled in close to equal measure.

But for those of us of a certain age, no cricket series quite caught our attention like the one between Australia and England in 1974-75. Madly, England had travelled without their two best players, Geoffrey Boycott and John Snow. Australia had Dennis Lillee fit again after back trouble and a fellow not much thought of at the time, Jeffrey Robert Thomson. "Thommo" or "Two-up" - call him what you will - used his unusual, catapult-like action to bowl at the speed of light, or so it seemed. He was erratic, aggressive and loved to see blood.

England were a colourless lot, meek of spirit and quiet of intent. The only man on whom a youngster could hang his hat was Tony Greig, the South African, who at least looked up for the fight. This is not to say that David Lloyd, John Edrich, Alan Knott and others did not fight, just that Greig boldly carried them.

At the Gabba in the first Test, he made a magnificent first-innings hundred, winding up Lillee and taking on Thomson as if he were born from the combined stock of Sir Lancelot and Henry V. The pitch was fast but uneven. It took the Chappells to make runs for Australia and Greig to bowl bouncers at them, saying you're in a contest here boys. He bounced Lillee too and Lillee told him to remember who had started it.

I watched in awe as Thomson made the ball fly from the hard pitch and Rodney Marsh took off to catch it. Marsh and the slip fielders appeared to be miles back, near 30 paces at a guess

In the second innings, after Ian Chappell set England 333 to win, Thomson cranked it up. Watching in his duties as a pressman, the mighty Keith Miller announced he was terrified from 100 yards away. In England we had news clips, in grainy colour, and legend has it that county cricketers hid behind their sofas.

I watched in awe as Thomson made the ball fly from the hard pitch and Rodney Marsh took off to catch it. Marsh and the slip fielders appeared to be miles back, near 30 paces at a guess. There were no helmets or chest guards, just flimsy thigh pads, basic gloves and pink, plastic abdominal protectors. Men were battered, bruised, bloodied and broken.

Only Greig could save England.

But not even Greig could save England.

He had made just 2 when Thommo yorked him with, as Richie Benaud might have said, the perfect sandshoe crusher. This ball was so fast and so perfect and so breathtaking that it was heard around the world. Even now, watching on YouTube, the magnificence of its flight, speed and effect takes your breath away.

From it - from Thomson and Lillee in that series, which Australia won at a canter - the game changed forever. The level of intimidation and the impact of the brutality is one of cricket's most riveting stories. Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust…

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel Nine in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

****

Wasim Akram to Rahul Dravid
Chennai, 1999

By Rahul Bhattacharya

To write this piece I decided on a foolhardy course. I would not look up the video, scorecard or any writing about the match, trusting fellow editors to rectify heinous errors and Marquez that the important thing is "what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it".

Some facts I am sure of. It was 1999, it was January (possibly February), it was around the time of Vajpayee and Sharif's ill-fated romance, and it was the first Test series between India and Pakistan in ten years. In Mumbai there would have been the usual Sena-type vandalism and in Chennai, venue of the first Test, a report said that a pig's head was placed somewhere provocative. So let's acknowledge that the context in which a Pakistani bowls a ball in India is more loaded than when, with reference to nobody in particular, an Australian bowls his first ball in a Test in England.

Left-arm poetry: it's what you use to breach walls

Left-arm poetry: it's what you use to breach walls © Getty Images

During the day we watched on television, through the evenings we discussed it on the telephone, at night we dreamt about it, and early on the fourth morning we gathered, a friend and I, at a third friend's house. That friend may be familiar to Indian readers as the actor Kunaal Roy Kapur, a joyously committed cricket lover who would join the college nets on the greyest mornings or filthiest afternoons and bowl high, hearty googlies, some of them possibly still circling over Azad Maidan. That morning he introduced us to the wonders of kaali dal-on-fried-egg-on-toast. This unexpected preparation somewhat calmed our tension. India were almost certainly chasing 271. Maybe 272.

Wasim Akram's delivery to Rahul Dravid must have arrived a little after (or a little before) lunch and it would have been the second half of the over. The ball was ripened in the Chennai humidity, Sunny Gavaskar embarked on a spree of Vaseline-tampering accusations on commentary at some stage of the afternoon; Wasim remained peerlessly Wasim. He swung them in, late, sharp, on that wretched full-of-good length. At least one of those deliveries, maybe one, maybe two, before the greatest ball in cricket, rapped Dravid on the pad in a way that was, as the saying goes, missing leg and missing off. If Imran Khan had been captain, he would have installed and institutionalised DRS mid-over.

Wasim was the captain. In those days, before the spectacles and perma-smile, Wasim had a '70s Bachchan thing about him, smouldering with heroic intensity, with a hint of Gulshan Grover thrown in for bad intentions. His eyes would have burned with indignity, he would have briefly taken the teapot stance, then slowly walked back, glancing perhaps at the pitch and shooting daggers at the umpire, considered yelling at an out-of-position Pakistani or two on the way, contemplated a bowling change at the other end, and decided to rectify the entire huge injustice of the bowling business with a single delivery, as he had done a thousand times before from Lahore tape-ball to World Cup final.

In those days, before the spectacles and perma-smile, Wasim had a '70s Bachchan thing about him, smouldering with heroic intensity, with a hint of Gulshan Grover thrown in for bad intentions

As the hustling, shuffling run-up, led by the nose, the masking hand, the cunning wrist, gathered once more towards its left-arm-over-the-wicket spot, did the maestro tell himself, let me now bowl the best ball it is possible to ever bowl in cricket? One that will start by swinging in like my previous ones, suggest that it may veer down leg side, and just when this young exemplar of defensive batsmanship before me has activated the Deep Blue in his brain and run it once, twice, thrice over to conclude "Safe Ball!", mmm, kyon na main tabhi last moment pe make it change direction to swing the other way, a width of maybe eight inches, to make a figure of 8, short-circuit his processor, baffle his prod, and plant a kissing, hissing sting to the top-most, tip-most outer bail? Is that what I should do just about now, as this extraordinary Test match lies on an excruciating edge before a rapt full house and two riveted populations comprising a fifth of humanity, some of them resorting to kaali dal-on-fried-egg-on-toast?

Well, why not.

Exhausting hours later, after the splendour and tragedy of Sachin's greatest innings, the Test was over. Wasim's team took a lap around the ground to a beautiful standing applause, a lap not of victory but mutual respect. The truly great Test match is a cultural milestone, the realisation of something essential in its participants and watchers. The S-shaped red ribbon to Dravid's bail was an expression of staggering magic and scientific precision that was neither fragile peace nor war by other means; it was its own poetry and it is ours to bestow meaning upon it.

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket book Pundits from Pakistan and the novel The Sly Company of People Who Care

****

Michael Holding to Geoffrey Boycott
Bridgetown, 1981

By Patrick Eagar

The greatest delivery? That's easy. Shane Warne bowling Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993. Not many people know this, but when I was young I used to bowl demon legspin. I took 55 wickets in schools cricket in the summer of 1956, including an 8 for 4. So I identify with all legspinners, and more so with the greatest proponent of the art. But it was such a remarkable ball that I think it is too obvious a choice.

Speed is the ultimate weapon. Everyone wants to see stumps being ripped out of the ground, and that is something leggies don't do. There is one ball I will never forget. It was bowled in 1981 at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados. The ground was fringed with palm trees that swayed in the tropical breeze and the stands were topped with old corrugated iron roofs. Those who arrived early got seats in the shade on hard wooden benches. Those who were late climbed onto the sunny iron roofs.

Blink and you miss it: Boycs' reflexes were not strong enough to get bat behind bullet

Blink and you miss it: Boycs' reflexes were not strong enough to get bat behind bullet © Patrick Eagar

West Indies were dismissed on the second day for 265. Graham Gooch and Geoffrey Boycott opened for England, Gooch facing the first over from Andy Roberts. Roberts twice found the edge of Gooch's bat. I was positioned at midwicket and I realised my cameras were set up in the wrong place for wickets, and that I should think of moving at the next interval.

Michael Holding's first ball to Boycott was spectacularly fast - hitting him on the gloves and dropping just short of the slips - and I knew there was no chance of capturing a series of brilliant batting shots. I set aside the longest lens and fitted my camera with something shorter to include Desmond Haynes at short leg, at least one of the four slips, and some of the crowd assembled on the rooftop opposite me. That way, if a wicket fell, I would at least be covered for a couple of the possibilities.

The second ball seemed to be even faster; Boycott clearly saw nothing as it whizzed past his off stump and I felt the wicketkeeper David Murray and the slips had edged backwards. After three more deliveries, each appearing faster than the previous, I realised I was watching something very special and very, very fast. The crowd spurred Holding on with wild cheers as each delivery swept past Boycott's bat.

Boycott's off stump disappeared out of my camera's view in less than a blink. The stump was later recovered 20 yards away, while one of the bails was eventually found not far from the boundary

I felt all the more urgently that I was sitting in the wrong place. But I did not get a chance to shift my spot. The final ball of the over was so quick that Boycott's off stump disappeared out of my camera's view in less than a blink, certainly before Geoffrey was able to attempt a stroke. The stump was later recovered 20 yards away, while one of the bails was eventually found not far from the boundary. The crowd on the rooftop started to dance, which did wonders for my photographs.

I have seen other superfast bowlers, notably Jeff Thomson, who, when bowling against England in 1974-75, was able to get the ball to lift alarmingly off a length. Shoaib Akhtar was just very quick. The delivery that blasted out Boycott was, without doubt, the fastest ball I ever photographed, and if watching stumps fly is your scene, it must surely rank as the greatest delivery.

Patrick Eagar is cricket's pre-eminent photographer and has covered the game for over 40 years

****

Waqar Younis to Brian Lara
Rawalpindi, 1997

By Fazeer Mohammed

This was the sort of billing typical of the garish razzmatazz of professional wrestling: "The Prince of Port-of-Spain meets the Sultan of Swing."

Unlike that laughable made-for-the-gullible charade, though, Brian Lara versus Waqar Younis was serious cricketing business, especially with the West Indies team, already thrashed by an innings in the first encounter in Peshawar, relying on their champion batsman to pull them out of a hole on the first morning of the second Test in Rawalpindi in November 1997.

There's a word for when you lose your stumps and your footing: Waqared

There's a word for when you lose your stumps and your footing: Waqared © Getty Images

Chastened by a double failure in the opening fixture and amid speculation over his level of commitment after being overlooked for the captaincy (veteran fast bowler Courtney Walsh was retained despite heavy official and unofficial lobbying in Lara's native Trinidad & Tobago), Lara looked to be in the mood to dominate.

Waqar, inexplicably omitted from the series opener, already had the scent of blood in his nostrils as he bustled in from the top of that distinctive long run-up, after removing Stuart Williams cheaply.

An inswinger just short of a good length was pushed defensively to mid-on before Lara unfurled two majestic cover drives that sped to the boundary and left Waqar looking more than a little perturbed and discussing tactics and field placings with his captain, Wasim Akram. Sensing a bit of vulnerability in his rival, Lara launched himself at the next ball, looking for a third four in a row to emphasise his dominance. But his eagerness caused him to lose his shape, dragging the full-length delivery angled across him through mid-off for a couple.

Even if he was not at his wit's end to curb his opponent, Waqar needed to do something really special to redress the balance in what was becoming a one-sided skirmish. And he did, concocting the perfect blend of fearsome pace and lethal late inswing to have the pre-eminent West Indian batsman of his time not just comprehensively beaten and bowled but literally knocked off his feet by a delivery that redefined the adjective "unplayable".

It left him so unbalanced, a rarity for such an elegant player, that he fell forward and remained on all fours as the timber took flight behind him

Whether or not it was all part of Waqar's master plan - feeding a succession of half-volleys in Lara's favoured area before unleashing the yorker - the batsman certainly wasn't expecting it. His flourishing high backlift threatened another silky drive and rendered him powerless to abort in mid flow as the ball, which initially seemed set to follow the appetising trajectory of the previous three, curled back in alarmingly like a heat-seeking missile locked on to the leg stump.

Left with a mere millisecond to save himself, Lara tried to get his feet out of the way, to somehow get the bat in the path of the searing projectile in a desperate attempt to preserve his wicket and dignity. It left him so unbalanced, a rarity for such an elegant player, that he fell forward and remained on all fours as the timber took flight behind him.

In that brief moment, as he remained bowed and beaten while Waqar celebrated with his delighted team-mates, it appeared as if Lara was reassessing the situation before conceding there was nothing, absolutely nothing, he could have done any differently to deny his worthy foe.

Some moments have atmosphere to complement the incisive strike: Michael Holding to Geoffrey Boycott in fierce midday heat at a ram-crammed Kensington Oval in 1981 or Shane Warne's first delivery of an Ashes Test to Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993 come immediately to mind. But on a cold, grey morning in Rawalpindi, with just a few hundred spectators braving the elements, Waqar Younis produced his best to conquer the best with the sort of strike that is sustained in the memory long after so much else of this quirky game is forgotten.

Fazeer Mohammed is a Trinidad-based broadcaster and journalist who has been covering West Indies cricket for 25 years

****

Murray Bennett to Viv Richards
Sydney, 1985

By Christian Ryan

"Pressure," said Viv Richards at the presser after a 208 he hit, another blast by the master, more carats to his necklace, "what's that, man? Pressure gives you headache. I hate headaches."

But ten days after that he was batting in Sydney, gum in mouth, and to the Australian fielders stealing glances it looked like his teeth had stopped chewing.

It's not every day you get the better of Viv Richards

It's not every day you get the better of Viv Richards © PA Photos

Murray Bennett, one of the bowlers, learned most of his bowling several suburbs southwest of Sydney Cricket Ground. Hurstville Oval's pitch was unpromising straw for spinners. But who ever hoped like a left-arm orthodox slow bowler? Bennett focused on variety. Of flight, of pace. Until - straw turns electric. He made himself absolutely reliable. Balls went where and how Bennett intended, and he seldom repeated the same one consecutively. The ball mightn't be a ball that was in any way special. All those weekday evenings in the nets - first there nearly, last gone. The all-day Saturdays. He did not toil them away in vain longing of some magic-striped ball that pitches outside leg and clips the off bail's right edge. In photos you see him in the T-shirt or cap or both of the sponsor, Tooheys beer. Team-mates as disparate as Boonie, Whit and Mo Matthews joyed in his company. Smiley, self-effacing. He bowled in cola-tinted prescription glasses. His run-up was an amble-up, no tricks, or superfluous tics. In his bowling action was him. The left hand was high at the point of release, his back arched in the aftermath, body hunched over a little, poised to monitor whatever ensues - usually nothing off the wall.

Viv was star bat and vice-captain of a West Indian team grown legendary thanks to violent fast bowling. But this SCG track spun - sharp; the Windies batsmen appeared blinded; they flailed and heaved, gormless; unanticipated embarrassment loomed. The follow-on had been enforced. Fourth afternoon, four wickets down. Now though the fightback was on and Viv's teeth had resumed mashing his chewie.

Fourteen was Bennett's age when he took up left-arm orthodox spin, and in his 14th year at the craft he reached the Test team. He only ever bowled for love of bowling. A Test match was in no one's script. When it happened he went wicketless and saw three catches dropped off his bowling. Two were easy catches: chest-high, ballooning. That was about a fortnight ago. He retained his spot. So, two Tests, neither of them predestined, both coinciding with an uncomfortable patch for Bennett personally. Bowling by day, he was troubled and restless at night; he'd signed on for a sanctions-flouting rebel tour of apartheid-time South Africa. For the money. Which wasn't Murray. When he pulled out they posted him the sign-on cheque next day and he tried to send it back but they said not yet so it was sitting, uncashed, on the sideboard at home.

He bowled Viv an arm ball, Viv didn't pick it, keeper Steve Rixon said wait four overs then bowl him another one, Bennett really was such a great listener

There was sleeplessness. He bowled Viv an arm ball, Viv didn't pick it, keeper Steve Rixon said wait four overs then bowl him another one, Bennett really was such a great listener.

The ball caught the mid-afternoon breeze. This ball stopped. Sort of hovered, dangled, about-faced; it landed - maybe, mused Bennett, it hit a blade of green grass - a half-foot wide of Viv's off stump and plucked middle stump out of its socket before Viv could jam down his bat. Viv glared back briefly. Bennett was already gone. Off on a mad semi-circle, running headlong to nowhere, like a car-crash victim who steps out of the burning vehicle alive but has lost all moorings and bearings - was how Bennett experienced it.

Evidently the previous arm ball had slipped Viv's mind. Arm ball. Hopeless under-description.

Bill O'Reilly in the press box 11 months earlier had seen and admired something like it and christened it Bennett's "cartwheel inswinger". Something like it. The ball that bowled Viv was not one for replicating, by Bennett no, nor, plausibly, anyone.

"Nice to do it once in your life," he said afterwards. The ball that he bowled was why people play. The quest. And Bennett had actually done it. Lived it. And played one more Test after it and disappeared from the first-class scene within three years. How? But how could it be else? Wisest, safest, simply to stop, now that it's gone, seal it in memory's imperfect cement. Gone and still here.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy, Australia: Story of a Cricket Country and Rock Country

 

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  • POSTED BY victoria on | October 7, 2017, 19:47 GMT

    @BHAVIK: Yes, that Jason Gillespie delivery to Tendulkar in the 2003 WC was a gem. But Gillespie was a proud member of one of those almost unplayable ODI fast bowling combinations that players the likes of Tendulkar was not good enough to score an ODI 100 against - although he scored so many during their era. Here's the full list of the most popular lethal combinations of SRT's time - once any duo played together for their country against Tendulkar in the same ODI match, he couldn't score an ODI 100 - though nearly every well renowned ODI batsman of his era did: Aus: (Mc Grath+Gillespie) or (Mc Grath+Bret Lee) or (Gillespie+Bret Lee); Pak: (Akram+Younis) or (Akram+Akhtar) or (Younis+Akhtar); WI: (Walsh+Ambrose) or (Walsh+Bishop) or (Ambrose+Bishop); SA: (Donald+Pollock); Eng: (Flintoff+Harmisson). It's revealing that he never scored a single ODI 100 against any of them. NZ and SL never had one of these pairs; but he never scored an ODI 100 against NZ's only fast man, Shane Bond either.

  • POSTED BY a on | June 28, 2015, 9:35 GMT

    The ball I will never forget was Imran Khan to Vishwanath at Karachi in 1982-83 - his 200th wicket in tests. The ball landed outside off swinging out towards first slip and then jagged back in sharply after it pitched to hit middle and off. Lightining pace. That was about the time Imran's ICC bowler's rating hit 922 points - still the highest rating any bowler has achieved since the start of World War I.

  • POSTED BY Syd on | June 21, 2015, 8:56 GMT

    Shoib Akhtars lethal yorkers first knocking Dravid & then Tendulkar stumps back to back .. I will remember those !

  • POSTED BY Nadeem on | June 18, 2015, 4:32 GMT

    I believe the greatest ball I have seen in my life time is "Wasim Akram" to "Alan Lamb" in ODI WC 92 final , when Wasim Akram bowled out Alan Lamb, even Great Viv Richards or Genius Tendulkar would easily get out on that ball. Best delivery ever to me.

  • POSTED BY L on | June 18, 2015, 1:59 GMT

    @Rahul Thank you for the beautiful article, but you really need to give us the recipe (or at least a description) for kaali dal-on-fried-egg-on-toast!

  • POSTED BY Mansoor on | June 17, 2015, 21:23 GMT

    For sheer destruction, speed, and violence, this one from Waqar is great too (although not to the best of batsmen). I reckon it would have gotten almost anyone out:

  • POSTED BY Kevin on | June 17, 2015, 12:01 GMT

    Absolutely astounded that nobody has mentioned one of the greatest bowlers of all time, Sir Richard Hadlee. There were so many one of gems from him that it is hard to pick. One I remember was an ODI against England, Botham batting. 3 perfect away swingers completely bamboozle Botham, so much so that he is smiling at these class delivery's. He looks up at Hadlee who tells him how to play it, Botham nods. Hadlee delivers a bouncer, the perfect bouncer. Botham lays into it....opps nicks it... out. Hadlee did this all the time to many classy batsmen so it is hard to pick one. Well, not hard actually, pick any one and call it the best.

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | June 17, 2015, 10:57 GMT

    How about James Anderson to Yousuf Youhana?

  • POSTED BY Tim on | June 17, 2015, 8:05 GMT

    lovely article - just to add a personal favourite, harmison to clarke, last ball of the day, 2005 at Edgbaston..

  • POSTED BY Fitzroy on | June 16, 2015, 21:42 GMT

    We must remember that some of the best balls ever bowled may not have resulted in wickets. Having said that, what I consider the best/fastest ball I've seen did result in a wicket.

    It was at Grove Park in Nevis(now ET Willet Park). Michael Holding was bowling to Luther Kelly, from the pavilion end. I skipped school, so I was hiding in the scoreboard, looking square on as Holding ran in and delivered. Then I saw the cartwheel, then heard the "click" sound of the impact.

    Never saw the ball, with what I'm sure was, at that time, 20/20 vision. Can I really say it was fast if I never saw it?

  • POSTED BY Ed on | June 16, 2015, 20:02 GMT

    I still can't believe the delivery Waqar Younis bowled to NZ batsman Rod Latham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN_hbtwfV_Q Enough to make you give up batting. The look of utter bewilderment on Latham's face says it all.

  • POSTED BY Krishna on | June 16, 2015, 20:00 GMT

    Allan Donald's delivery to Sachin Tendulkar, 1st test, Durban, 1996

  • POSTED BY Bhavik on | June 16, 2015, 19:19 GMT

    Warne to Gibbs in 99 semifinal,Agarkar to Kallis, McGrath to Tendulkar in 2003 Final, Akram to Dravid, Warne to Gatting-Strauss-Chanderpaul, Gillespie to Tendulkar in '03 World Cup. McGrath to Tendulkar-Dravid in '99 World Cup, Akram to Russell Arnold in Sharjah,Stuart MacGill to Klusener

  • POSTED BY ebad on | June 16, 2015, 18:03 GMT

    Some deliveries these! Although Wasim's delivery to Dravid was a peach, especially if you consider the build up to that delivery. But the delivery Wasim bowled to Marcus Trescothic in 2001 at Old Trafford was the best delivery I have ever seen.

  • POSTED BY sports_freakz on | June 16, 2015, 17:47 GMT

    Other than the obvious ball of the century, the one that really stands out for me was in the world cup 99 match between Aus and WI. After losing a couple of games the aussies were down and out and had a must win vs WI. The obvious obstacle was the genius BC Lara. An amazing delivery from Glenn McGrath completely cleaned him up. It pitched on middle and moved just a tad to take out the off bail. That was McGrath in a nutshell. He doesnt blow you away with pace ala Holding/Akthar/Mitch. He carves you up. Just for good measure, after 3 days of McGrath/Warne vs Tendulkar/Dravid hype, he cleaned up Tendulkar with another peach in his first over and then Dravid with another in his second over. The world's premier batsmen, all of them dismantled by the world's premier bowler. The game and the world cup were taken care of and a dynasty was taking shape.

  • POSTED BY Faisal on | June 16, 2015, 16:57 GMT

    For me the most memorable deliveries are the ones that set the tone for the match at least and top of the list would be Flintoff drawing first blood on Ponting in 2005 Ashes. Here, Eng (the only one who could possibly beat Aus at that time) vs. Aus (unbeatables!) and Ponting (probably the best puller I have ever seen) getting one on the face while pulling! Amazing stuff and set the tone for possibly the greatest Ashes, if not the greatest test series. The ones by Akram to Lamb and by Shoaib to Dravid/Tendulker also changed the course of Pakistan for years to come!

  • POSTED BY knianr3126727 on | June 16, 2015, 16:22 GMT

    Holding to Boycott ! Holding to Gavaskar !

  • POSTED BY Ali on | June 16, 2015, 15:49 GMT

    I cannot remember the batsman, but I do recall it was a ODI in queens park oval and the opening spell. Ambrose was bowling and it was either vs England or Australia.

    Both batsman were wafting and missing everything. Everyone was shocked there was not a single edge. Then there was an edge that went through a vacant 3rd slip for 4. Ambrose was pissed. In his next over , he produced an inswinger that cartwheeled the middle stump and left the other 2 perfectly upright. Jeff Doujon had to dodge the stump. The batsman was playing a perfect forward defense and clueless as to where the ball passed ..

    (I was about 12 or 13 years old)

  • POSTED BY uday on | June 16, 2015, 13:40 GMT

    For me of what I watched ,is the ball Curtly Ambrose bowled in World cup ODI in 1992.A wicket had fell around 32nd over and Sachin had joined a well settled and in form Azhar. Skipper Richardson immediately brought in bowling change and brought in Big Curtly. Azhar took a single of the first or second ball.As I worried if it was better idea to play of the over and not expose Sachin to Ambrose ,the little bird produced a perfect cutter pitched short of a length on the off ,deviated 2-3 inches at great pace. Sachin presented a perfect straight bat and managed to get a touch as the ball continued raising on its journey to the keeper .The wicket had a great effect on the match as India made a less than decent total for the Winides to chase it down easily.

  • POSTED BY Shorjail Ahmad on | June 16, 2015, 13:07 GMT

    Well, i suggest these two balls need to be fit in :

    - Wasim's ball to Alan Lamb , Left arm fast bowler bowling round the wicket to right hand batsman and ball pitched at middle stump suddenly swung away which ripped his off stump and also collected the worldcup in 1992 Word cup. - Share Warne's Delivery which turned from very wide of off and hit leg stump, i may call it the best ball of cricket, never seen that much turn by any bowler

  • POSTED BY Nabeel on | June 16, 2015, 12:20 GMT

    Top drawer stuff this keep up the good work! Btw Wasim Akram to Alan Lamb, in the final of the World Cup 1992, was also a gem. Shoaib Akhter to Rahul Dravid the ball prior to the one bowled to Sachin... absolutely unplayable!

  • POSTED BY Elton on | June 16, 2015, 10:49 GMT

    Brett Lee to Marvan Attapattu 2003 World Cup. Bowled out, 160.1km/hr yorker

  • POSTED BY Muhammad Ali on | June 16, 2015, 10:29 GMT

    The delivery with which Shoaib Akhtar bowled Sachin Tendulkar for a golden duck is worth mentioning. And he produced two back to back unplayable yorkers to send back Dravid and Tendulkar...

  • POSTED BY IFTIKHAR on | June 16, 2015, 9:39 GMT

    Thank you indeed for those awesome memories! But to be fair about it, i think great spinners like Lance Gibbs,Ray illingworth,Muralitharan,Warne ,Ajmal,Bedi etc also deserve mention in a separate article.It is not always the fast men who win matches!That ball that bowled Strauss was simply incredible!

  • POSTED BY Subhasish on | June 16, 2015, 9:28 GMT

    Why no this and why no that! Come one...we have 5 people who are sharing their views on what they think is the greatest delivery that they have seen...

  • POSTED BY Subbu on | June 16, 2015, 9:10 GMT

    Folks, please munch on this: The Greatest Ball (Warne to Gatting) may not have got Gatting out if he had put his pads in front! Isn't that ironic. Why is no one questioning the extremely biased (against leg spinners, that is- clear discrimination) "outside-the-leg-stump cannot be LBW rule"?? Think how many more wickets Shane would have had except for this perverse rule. This is why Warne rates above Murali, as there is a clear majority of right-handed batsmen in the world...

  • POSTED BY Jason on | June 16, 2015, 8:55 GMT

    I would suggest that the delivery from Waqar to Lara must rank among the greatest of deliveries. Why no mention of Murali. Come on be courageous and honest. Give the man a fair mention. Tone down the Warne hype. Warne, whilst good, prospered a lot due to generous umpiring. Come on journalists lets bring in some honesty and out cut all the subjective bias.

  • POSTED BY Michael on | June 16, 2015, 8:51 GMT

    As a Kiwi, it was the beautiful Chris Cairns slower ball that had Chris Read bowled trying to duck it as if it were a fierce bouncer.

  • POSTED BY Darshan on | June 14, 2015, 12:19 GMT

    Your missing the great ball by Lasith Malinga to Kevin P, the stunner that Kp could not get out of the way....

  • POSTED BY Kartik on | June 5, 2015, 8:13 GMT

    Beautifully written. You guys are doing a great job! Thanks for bringing back the memories.