Mohammad Irfan hasn’t been around in international cricket for a long time but he’s already making waves. A lackluster start against England in 2010, where he gave away 15 runs in his first over and took just one wicket in three matches (two ODIs, one T20), didn’t impress many people but he’s worked his way back into the team. And this time, people are talking not just about his height.
At 7’1″, Irfan stands like a mountain over others who ply the trade. However, given his age — he is 30 already — he has a few years to show whether he can really make something of the aerial advantage he has. And he has had some other ‘Big’ birds to show him the way. Let’s have a look at the league of extraordinarily tall bowlers.
Joel Garner – 6 feet 8 inches: ’The Big Bird’ is an absolute legend. As part of the West Indies team at their pinnacle, Garner was prolific with the ball, taking 259 wickets in 58 Test matches and 146 in 98 ODIs. This he did with at an average of 20.98 and 18.84 respectively – making him the only player with more than 100 ODI wickets to average under 20. His yorkers were simply devastating and you, rather your toes, wouldn’t want to be in their way.
Bruce Reid – 6 feet 8 inches: The Australian bowler’s action has been described as being “all arms and legs … like a porn movie without the sex.” Reid, though tall and able to generate pace, was much rather known for his swing and the angle at which he would bowl — making it very hard for right-handers to read him. Couple that with the bounce, and you have the perfect bowler. However, Reid broke down with injury often, a fact that certainly hampered what could have been an even more impressive career. His numbers still aren’t bad — 113 wickets in 27 Tests is what bowlers can usually only dream of. In ODI’s, he took 63 wickets in 61 matches — modest at best.
Chris Tremlett – 6 feet 7 inches: He is tall, gets awkward bounce and can even bat a bit. He is most remembered for being on a hat-trick on his ODI debut because fate decided to trick him — the hat-trick ball did land on Mohd Ashraful’s stumps, but the bails did not budge. He had an excellent Ashes tour in 2010, consistently troubling the batsmen and also taking the last wicket of the last Test to give England a series win. But as with so many others, Tremlett has continually suffered injuries, which means he has never had a proper run in the team.
His record stands at 49 wickets from 11 Tests at an average of 26.75. He has taken 15 wickets in 15 ODIs.
Curtly Ambrose – 6 feet 7 inches: Curtly Ambrose is a record-breaker, rib-breaker and a hall-of-famer. Along with Courtney Walsh, Ambrose spearheaded the Windies attack at a time when the team was in decline — often bowling match-winning spells (like 7/1 against Australia in 1993). His unbelievable record of 405 wickets in 98 Tests at an average of 20.99 stands testimony to his place among Windies greats. His disciplined line and length made him a very economical bowler (3.48 in 176 ODIs) and he picked up 225 wickets in the shorter format of the game.
Steve Finn – 6 feet 7 inches: Just 23, Finn has his whole career ahead of him. But his performances so far have catapulted him as a great prospect for the future. A return of 66 wickets from 16 Tests is good and he made his entry to the English fold grander with a man-of-the-match award in just his third match.