Was Jimmy's delivery to Clarke the "ball of the decade"?

Jimmy Anderson

Some observers were quick to heap praise on Anderson's beauty to Clarke, but was there any merit in the above assertion?

Should we run for the woods anytime bold statements such as "Ball of the century" or "Ball of the decade" are heard? The sheer ambiguity of the topic and its highly subjective nature invites skepticism and inevitably more questions than emphatic answers. After all, what specifically constitutes a "great" delivery? Whatever your opinion the fact is that there's actually been PLENTY of balls bowled since 2003 that could easily be penciled in to "ball of the decade" debate. Here's a short list of just some magic deliveries worthy of note.

Khan vs Flemming Ahmedabad Test December 2002

A baby faced Zaheer Khan had a much higher jump on approach to the crease ten years ago. This was a jaffa of a ball that beat the New Zealand skipper all ends up. Fleming was well aware of Khan's ability to swing the ball away to left handers, so when the bowler pitched one way outside off stump, Fleming shouldered arms only to see it seam back and uproot his off stick in dramatic fashion. It was a peach of a delivery, as Ritchie Benaud would say.

Lee vs Attapattu. World Cup 2003 Semi final, Port Elizabeth

It's taken Jimmy Anderson years to master the art of swing bowling. Bowling fast however isn't just about God given talent but requires a relentless work ethic to get the body in peak condition. This ball by Brett Lee demonstrates exactly that. When you can bowl at 99.5mph,  there's no need to swing the ball. Attapatu never saw it!

Muralitharan vs Lehman. Sri Lanka vs Australia Galle Test match 2004

Shane Warne made a living out of turning it square whilst bowling round the wicket into the foot marks. Murali took 6-59 in this test match bamboozling the Australian batsmen by turning the ball square, BOTH ways. Over the wicket, round the wicket, left hander, right hander it really didn't matter for the highest wicket taker in Test history. Lehman had batted for two and a half hours for his 63 and looked well set but was still completely deceived by Murali's doosra which pitched outside his off stump and spun sharply to clip leg.

Jones vs Clarke. Ashes 2005

Had lady luck treated Jones better in terms of injuries, we may never have seen Jimmy Anderson develop into the Test match bowler he is today. Jones was way ahead of Jimmy in the pecking order back in 2005 and this delivery remains the best Ashes delivery in my living memory. The skill required to reverse the ball at that pace hadn't been seen by an England bowler in the past. It's just so difficult to get bored of watching this clip. The artistry involved was just as exquisite as the Anderson delivery yesterday. But whilst Jimmy's ball seduced Clarke forward, before swaying past bat, caressing the off pole, Jones' delivery did the same except blew away the offstump with a shot gun. It was a smooth criminal moment for Jones.

Akhtar vs Giles. Multan Test match 2005

England came into the series on the back of the historic Ashes 2005 triumph and were chasing a modest total of 198 on a slow dry pitch in this match. It really is a crying shame for Test cricket that there isn't anyone like Brett Lee or Shoaib Akhtar playing test cricket today. because the sight of a genuine 94mph+ bowler steaming in is priceless. Akhtar speared the ball at the base of the stumps with such ferocity, it left only one stump standing. This is arguably the best yorker you'll ever see, certainly one Waqar or Waseem would be proud of.

Swann vs Ponting. Ashes 2009

Old school finger spinners have played under the shadow of Warne's leg spin and doosra bowlers over the last couple of decades. But Swann has single-handedly brought it back into fashion by bowling deliveries like this one. After deceiving Ponting in flight, Swann landed it on a perfect length, spun it sharply from outside off to hit middle and leg. It was an incredible delivery, the best of his career thus far.

Steyn vs Clarke. Waca Test match 2012

In 82 Test matches Jimmy Anderson has taken 307 Test wickets. Yesterday he went past Fred Trueman's tally of 307 wickets to become the third highest English wicket taker in Test history.

Dale Steyn in comparison has played only 65 Test matches and has 332 Test wickets. He's recorded five wicket hauls on 21 a staggering 21 occasions compared to Jimmy's 13 and taken 10 wickets in a test match no less than 5 times! (Jimmy has done it once) That's how good he really is.

Whilst the one I've picked above is one of my favorites, one could easily make a collage of breath-taking deliveries he's bowled in the last 9 years. The above ball he bowled to Clarke at the Waca significantly came at a time when Clarke was in the form of his life, having scored back to back double hundreds against South Africa in the previous two test matches. Almost identical to Jimmy's delivery yesterday, only difference between the two balls was Clarke (being in such phenomenal form) managed to actually get a bat on Steyn's delivery, snicking it behind to AB DeViliers.

 

What's your favourite wicket taking delivery over the last decade? Why not leave a comment or tweet us @hitccricket

Rana Malook is a sports writer for HITC and you can follow his tweets here

 

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