The Top 10 Brutal Bouncers in Cricket
What do Dennis Lillee, Brett Lee, Curtly Ambrose and Joel Garner all have in common?
All were cricketers who could bowl a fierce bouncer that would have batsmen hopping around protecting themselves in the face of sheer aggression.
The sight of a bowler roughing up a batsman with a short-pitched delivery is one of the most exhilarating in cricket, unless you are the batsman on the receiving end.
Read on for 10 of the most brutal bouncers in the history of cricket.
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Merv Hughes: One of Australia’s leading fast bowlers in the late 1980s and early 1990s was Merv Hughes, an uncompromising quick with terrifying facial hair.
He also had a superb bouncer, as Viv Richards would testify having had his cap removed by a delivery in 1991 by the man from Victoria.
Shoaib Akhtar: For a time, Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar was the fastest bowler in the world, and his bouncers were some of the most testing in the international game.
Just ask Brian Lara, who found himself in the way of a lifting delivery aimed right at his body and ended up on the turf.
10. Steve Harmison
The 2005 Ashes series between England and Australia started with a bang, as the tourists were bowled out for just 190 on the first day of the first Test at Lords.
Their main tormentor was Steve Harmison, who took 5-43 and arguably set the tone for the series when he bowled a bouncer at captain Ricky Ponting that cut the Australian’s cheek.
England may have lost that game, but the stage was set for one of the most memorable series of all time.
9. Jeff Thomson
England’s traumatic Ashes tour of 1973/74 will be remembered as the series when Australia’s Jeff Thomson announced himself on the international stage.
Bowling at a pace never seen before in world cricket, the fast bowler with a slingshot action injured countless batsmen and terrorised his country’s oldest enemy.
This bouncer to Tony Greig shows the pace he was reaching and the hostility with which he was bowling.
8. Craig McDermott
Having suffered at the hands of the West Indies for a long while, the early 1990s saw Australia finally gain the upper hand in their titanic tussles with their Caribbean opponents.
The Baggy Green now had some fearsome fast bowlers of their own to call on, especially the consistent Craig McDermott, who had a knack of breaking through with crucial wickets.
He also had a fearsome bouncer, as shown by this felling of Gus Logie.
7. Curtly Ambrose
Half of the West Indies’ fearsome new-ball duo in the 1990s and early 2000s, Curtly Ambrose used his tremendous height and pace to extract steepling bounce from even the most lifeless of pitches.
Exploiting great consistency and stamina, his short-pitched deliveries were deadly all around the world, not just on the bouncy wickets of the West Indies.
His bouncer to Australia’s Allan Border in 1992 shows just how difficult Ambrose could make things, even to the greatest of batsmen.
6. Allan Donald
The man known as “White Lightning,” Allan Donald exhibited extreme pace and hostility from the moment he stepped into international cricket with South Africa.
He could often do some serious damage, and no more so than in the 1996 World Cup as he damaged Sultan Zarwani’s skull in the Proteas’ match against UAE.
Zarwani was at fault for only wearing a sunhat against one of the most dangerous fast bowlers in the world, but the delivery could have done lasting damage to the batsman.
5. Michael Holding
Another nickname for our next bowler, as Michael “Whispering Death” Holding gained a reputation for being exceedingly fast and hostile despite his near-silence in his bowling action.
In the West Indies’ terrifying pace bowling attack, Holding performed a key role and fit in with the ethos of intimidation and dominance demanded by captain Clive Lloyd.
He was also capable of causing some serious damage to batsmen, as seen with this vicious delivery to Australia’s Graeme Wood in 1983.
4. Joel Garner
Another West Indian is in at No. 4, as the 6’8” Joel Garner was another who could extract incredible bounce from the pitch seemingly at will.
As you may expect from a bowler so freakishly tall, Garner’s bouncers were at times almost unplayable and helped him gain a number of wickets.
Graeme Wood is back once again as the victim, as we see him destroyed by the man from Barbados.
3. Malcolm Marshall
The top three is begun by our penultimate West Indian, as Malcolm Marshall finished a batsman’s international career in 1984 with a brute of a delivery.
The unlucky player was England’s Andy Lloyd, who had scored 10 runs when disaster struck and Marshall’s delivery saw him taken to hospital.
The only small positive from this episode is that Lloyd remains the only player in Test history to open the innings and never be out.
2. Courtney Walsh
Our final West Indian is at No. 2, the formidable Courtney Walsh, who left batsmen battered and bruised across the world during the 1980s and 1990s.
England’s Robin Smith was known for his bravery in the face of adversity, but even he could not withstand this barrage from Walsh on tour in the Caribbean.
During the fifth Test in Antigua, Walsh bowled a bouncer that broke Smith’s jaw, forcing him to retire hurt and fly straight home for treatment.
1. Brett Lee
At No. 1 is a bouncer that forced Alex Tudor to be stretchered off the WACA in Perth in late 2002, ending his Ashes tour.
It came from Brett Lee, who at this time was one of the fastest and most hostile bowlers in the world and was enjoying a very successful series against England.
Tudor, a tailender more known for his bowling, was unprepared for this brutal delivery that went at 144.1 km/h and cannoned into his helmet.
The Surrey man had his skull fractured and was carried off, to be flown back to England immediately for treatment.
Even 11 years on, it is still painful to watch.