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8 deadly bowlers and their favourite hunting grounds

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Bowlers_dominating_single_ground_Cricket_TestEngland’s James Anderson created history in the Lord’s Test against India recently by becoming the only bowler in Test cricket to take 100 wickets at the Home of Cricket. This was a truly incredible feat and Anderson’s name has now been firmly etched in the annals of Lord’s rich and glorious history.

Anderson isn’t the only bowler who has dominated one venue so comprehensively. Cricket history is replete with notable bowlers who have left their mark at one ground more noticeably than others. Here is a look at eight such prominent bowlers.

Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) at Colombo, Kandy and Galle:

The spin wizard from Sri Lanka didn’t have a phenomenal away record but he dominated comprehensively at home. Muttiah Muralitharan is the only bowler in Test history to have taken more than 100 wickets at more than one ground - 111 wickets in just 15 Tests at Galle, 117 wickets in only 16 Tests at Kandy and a whopping 166 wickets in 24 matches at Colombo (SSC). That’s a combined tally of 394 Test wickets in just 55 Tests which is rather extraordinary.

Murali currently occupies the first three positions in the ‘most wickets at a single ground’ list. His 166 wickets at Colombo is the highest by any bowler at any ground in Test history. The off-spinner was known to extract spin from any surface, but the pitch at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo, with its variable bounce and hardness, maximized Murali’s potential. His best at this venue is 8-87 against India in 2001.

James Anderson (England) at Lord’s:

While James Anderson’s record at home –357 wickets in 80 Tests – is stunning, he has been especially impressive at the Lord’s Cricket Ground. In his match-winning spell against India recently, Anderson became the only bowler in Test history to record a 100 wickets at the famous ground and only the second bowler (after Murali) to take 100 or more Test wickets at a single venue.

Currently, Anderson has 103 wickets in 23 Tests at Lord’s at an average of 23. 89 with 6 five-wicket hauls. His career best spell of 7-42 against West Indies in 2017 came at this ground. Anderson relies heavily on swing and seam. The usually greenish surface at Lord’s and the generally cloudy and windy climate aids his bowling perfectly.

Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka) at Galle:

While he doesn’t get as much recognition for his efforts, Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath is another bowler who has dominated significantly at home. The gutsy off-spinner has captured 99 wickets in 18 Tests at the Galle International Stadium at an average of 24. 31 with 9 five-wicket hauls and 3 ten-wicket match hauls. Given that he is still going strong, Herath might well overtake Murali’s record haul of 111 wickets at the venue.

The brownish turf at Galle is traditionally known to favor spin and Herath’s ability bowl tight channels and extract spin and bounce from the surface has served him extremely well at the venue. A testimony to Herath’s dominance at Galle is his incredible match-winning and career-best spell and of 9-127 here against Pakistan in 2014.

Herath also has an impressive 84 wickets from 14 Tests at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo, but his countryman Muttiah Muralitharan’s tally of 166 wickets at the same ground has overshadowed his feat.

Heath Streak (Zimbabwe) at Harare:

Not known for express pace or an ability to swing the ball prodigiously, Zimbabwe’s Heath Streak did well because he had excellent control and his outswing was lethal. Streak was the lead bowler of his side for a great part of his career and enjoyed bowling in home conditions, especially at the Harare Sports Club. There, the seam bowler ended up with 83 wickets in 19 Tests at an average of 23. 13 with 3 five-wicket hauls. His best Test performance – 6-73 v India in 2005 – also came at this stadium. The wicket at Harare is known to be even paced and Streak utilized it beautifully with his controlled bowling, getting good bounce from the surface.

Dennis Lillee (Australia) at Melbourne:

Once called the complete bowler, Dennis Lillee’s name will always be revered in cricket history. At his best, he was menacing with his pace, bounce and accuracy. It was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where Lillee was at his supreme best. In the 14 Tests he played at the venue, the Australian speedster ended up capturing 82 wickets at an average of 21. 92 with 7 five-wicket hauls and 4 ten-wicket match hauls.

His terrific, match-winning spell of 6-26 against New Zealand in 1977 is his best performance at the venue. After Perth, Melbourne is known to be one of the bounciest surfaces in Australia. The pace and bounce in the wicket allowed Lillee to flourish.

Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) at Christchurch:

The first player to reach 400 Test wickets, Richard Hadlee’s skill with the ball was matchless. Great variations, pace and bounce were his forte and in his prime he was a real menace. While Hadlee adapted well to all conditions, it was his home ground in Christchurch where he felt most at ease. In 14 Tests at Lancaster Park (now the AMI Stadium) in Christchurch, Hadlee nabbed 76 wickets at an average of 21. 51 with 6 five-wicket hauls.

It was at Christchurch that Hadlee produced one of his most destructive spells in 1976: 7-23 in 8.3 overs that bundled the visiting Indian team out for just 81. The pitch at Christchurch generally has a fair tinge of grass and it used to be more evident in the times of Hadlee. This, along with the naturally windy conditions and the bounce at the wicket, allowed Hadlee to seam and swing the ball around prolifically and get the best results.

Shane Warne (Australia) at Brisbane:

The master of spin from Australia has dominated many teams and several venues, but none more so than the Brisbane Cricket Ground. In just 11 Tests at the Gabba, Shane Warne took a massive 68 wickets at an average of 20.3 with 3 five-wicket hauls and 2 ten-wicket match hauls. Warne’s best figures in a Test innings – 8-71 against England in 1994 – also came at Brisbane.

In Australia, the Sydney Cricket Ground is generally considered to be spin-friendly and Warne has dominated there as well – 64 wickets in 14 Tests. However, the surface at Brisbane, perhaps allowed Warne to get more natural bounce, which resulted in greater success.

Curtly Ambrose (West Indies) at Queen's Park Oval:

Tall, fearsome and threatening. Curtly Ambrose was one of the most lethal pace bowlers of his era. His ability to extract steep bounce and movement from any surface made him quite a force. While Ambrose did really well in places like England and Australia, where the pace and bounce helped him, it was at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad where he was the most successful. In 12 Tests at the venue, Ambrose picked up 66 wickets at an excellent average of 13.28 with 6 five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket match haul.

While the pitch here has become pretty placid these days, it was known to have good bounce. Other West Indian legends like Courtney Walsh, Malcolm Marshall, and Lance Gibbs have dominated here. Ambrose has also produced one of his most devastating spells– 6-24 against England in 1994 – at the Queen's Park Oval, ripping the visiting English side apart for just 46.

 

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