As the saying goes Cricket is a batsman’s game. The friendly pitches and meatier willows have further tilted the game in favor of the batsmen. But despite the odds being heavily stacked against the batsmen, the bowlers have always found ways to deceive them. Although more often than not the batsmen err in judgement and end up losing their wickets to average deliveries, some balls are extraordinary and leave them absolutely clueless.
Watch these 10 such unplayable deliveries that were bowled with great skill and precision.
1 Shane Warne to Mike Gatting, 1st Test, Ashes 1993
An absolute ripper from the legendary Shane Warne tops the list uncontested. Immortalised as the ‘Ball of the Century’, this peach from the Aussie veteran would be good enough to bamboozle the greatest of batsmen.Ambling in from over the wicket, Warner hurled the enticing leg-break down the leg side, giving the cherry a generous whip with his wrists. Gatting thrust his front pad forward slightly and made a feeble attempt to defend with soft hands.
However, to his utter shock, the ball – which looked harmless at first – turned almost square and pegged back the off-stump. Having been at the receiving end of Warne’s magic, Gatting trudged off the field in utter disbelief.
2 Adil Rashid to KL Rahul, 5th Test, India tour of England 2018
Adil Rashid did Warne proud with this beauty, and KL Rahul, dismissed on 149, just couldn’t believe his bad luck. The trademark leg-spinner was bowled from round the wicket and pushed slightly quicker down the leg side. It kicked nastily after hitting one of the rough patches and Rahul, looking to flick, was beaten all ends up. The ball went on to clip the off-bail.
Rashid erupted in joy while Rahul walked back shaking his head in disarray. Though Rahul’s not to blame, any batsman around the world would have had his fate sealed to such a snorter.
3 Mitchell Starc to James Vince, 3rd Test, Ashes 2017-18
You could not but feel sympathetic towards James Vince when this peach from Mitchell Starc crashed into his timber. The left-arm quick, bowling around the wicket, hurled one on a broad crack in line with middle stump. Vince looked to nudge round the corner.
If the ball had carried on its path, it would have missed leg stump by a country mile. The crack although changed the ball’s direction by a massive six inches and the off-stump got knocked out.”If I faced that another 20 or 30 times I think it would get me out every time.”, Vince admitted later.
4 Sreesanth to Jacques Kallis, 2nd Test, India tour of South Africa 2010
Sreesanth might not be a household name anymore, but he was certainly a force to be reckoned with back then. His searing bouncer to Jacques Kallis still lingers fresh in cricket fans’ memories. It was an attempted short delivery that pounced on Kallis and forced him into an awkward tangle. He tried hard to ride the bounce till the very last moment and even thought of swaying away from the line, but the speed ensured he couldn’t do either, and ultimately jabbed to glove an easy catch to point. The execution of a bouncer can’t get any better.
5 Shoaib Akhtar to Stephen Fleming, NZ vs Pak, ICC World Cup 1999
It would be foolhardy to not include this electrifying yorker from Shoaib Akhtar in this list. Steaming in from over the wicket, Akhtar launched a 148 kmph thunderbolt which slid past Fleming, who jammed his bat down an hour too late, and cannoned into the leg stump.Bowled from wide of the crease, the yorker was dead accurate and is remembered amongst the most famous World Cup deliveries till date.
6 James Anderson to Kraigg Brathwaite, 2nd Test, England tour of WI 2015
James Anderson has bowled many wonderful deliveries during his career but this booming inswinger deserves special mention. For starters, the seam presentation was brilliant. The ball swung majestically right from the delivery point and even carved in spectacularly after pitching to breach through the defenses of Kraigg Brathwaite. The young opener did make desperate efforts to negotiate the movement but the delivery was simply unplayable, and he left the field with a wry smile planted on his face which suggested Anderson’s expertise.
7 Ravichandran Ashwin to Hashim Amla, India vs SA, T20 WC 2014
Known for his deceptive variations, Ravichandran Ashwin pulled a trick out of his bag when he delivered an exceptional carrom ball to veteran Hashim Amla. Ashwin flicked the ball out of his fingers like a carrom slider. Amla, clearly having failed to read the subtle change, played all around it and had his furniture disturbed.
The fact that Ashwin, being an off-spinner, found the ideal length for the variation and actually got the ball to turn significantly demonstrates his proficiency over the craft.
8 Mitchell Johnson to Cheteshwar Pujara, 3rd Test, India tour of Australia 2014
Having pushed Cheteshwar Pujara on the backfoot with a barrage of pacy short deliveries, Mitchell Johnson sensed an opportunity to capitalize.He rushed in with the same intensity but cleverly rolled his fingers across the ball to take the pace off. Pujara, expecting some more chin music, struggled to pick the disguised off-cutter. He prodded forward with little conviction and hung his bat loose, only for the ball to straighten ever-so-slightly and peg back the off-stump.
It was a masterclass in setting up a batsman from the sturdy Aussie quick.
9 Jasprit Bumrah to Shaun Marsh, 3rd Test, India tour of Australia 2018-19
The conditions were easing out and Shaun Marsh appeared in ominous touch. It was the last ball before Lunch. Rohit Sharma displayed shrewd tactical nous and asked Jasprit Bumrah to try a dipping slower yorker. Bumrah obliged and produced a moment of sheer genius. He rolled his fingers over the ball and got it to dip considerably. Marsh was caught unawares and the variation trapped him low on the pad. The umpire raised his finger immideately and the Indian fielders were ecstatic.
Though Sharma recieves the credit for the idea, the dismissal wasn’t possible without immaculate execution. And Bumrah absolutely nailed it!Here the man himself explaining the process behind that ball in the video below.
10 Jason Krejza to VVS Laxman, 4th Test, Australia tour of India 2008
VVS Laxman has been regarded as one of the best players of spin bowling. And hence, it was a rare occassion when Jason Krejza castled the experienced campaigner with a brute of an off-break. The ball pitched well outside the off-stump and spat from the rough. Laxman stretched to meet the ball but the turning delivery zipped through the gate and shattered the leg pole.
There’s no denying the fact the there was some assistance from the pitch, but Krejza had generated lots of revs on the ball too. In a nutshell, it was an off-spinner’s delight.