The 2010s-decade is coming to an end and the last 10 years have been a tough one for the bowlers, especially in ODI cricket. The rules constantly kept changing in the 50-over format and the challenge for the bowlers has been to adapt.
In fact, even the balls have changed. For instance, the ball was changed once after 34 overs at the start of the decade and now, there are two new balls – one at each end. Moreover, powerplay rules, fielding restrictions and other things have constantly changed and hence, the bowlers have had to deal with a lot of changes. And the white-ball game has tilted in favour of the batsmen with flat pitches and short boundaries.
Thus, it’s been a tough decade for the bowlers but there have been some who have managed to come out on top. So, here we rate the 10 best ODI bowlers of the decade.
Rating top ODI bowlers of this decade (2010-2019):
Shakib Al Hasan – 7/10
It’s tough for someone who has been the second-highest wicket-taker of the decade to cop a seven out of 10. But this is among the 10 best ODI bowlers of the decade. Hence, Shakib Al Hasan will close out this list.
The Bangladesh all-rounder has not only been his team’s premier batsman but also the premier bowler. Shakib is the only left-arm spinner in this list and just about managed to pip Ravindra Jadeja (who has been very good too) to enter the list.
The experienced spinner has picked up 177 wickets in this 2010s-decade. He has played 131 games and has an average of 30.15 which may not do justice to the way he’s bowled all these years. He has kept things very tight as well and has an economy of 4.72 in this period.
Saeed Ajmal – 7/10
Saeed Ajmal may have been forgotten in the recent past but the impact he used to have was excellent. He was Pakistan’s premier spinner across formats. Ajmal made his debut in 2009 and bamboozled opposition batsmen for a few years.
In fact, Ajmal played only till 2015 and yet, he is eighth on the list of most wickets for a bowler in this decade. The mystery spinner took 157 wickets in 91 games. He had an average of 21.90 which is the fourth-best in the 2010s-decade. His economy rate was excellent too – 4.24.
Batsmen struggled to pick him and he was on top of them most of the times. However, his action was deemed illegal and had to remodel his action. But he wasn’t effective and faded away.
Mohammed Shami – 7.5/10
This may be an unexpected name in the list but Mohammed Shami has been excellent for India in this decade. India went through a transition phase with most of their big stars fading away and eventually, retiring from all formats. The likes of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and the others faded away while injuries kept a few on the sidelines. That’s when Mohammed Shami came to the fore and has been brilliant.
He hasn’t been noticed a lot because he didn’t play a lot of white-ball cricket for a couple of years in between. Shami made his debut in January 2013 and has picked up 131 wickets since. He has an average of 24.71 and a strike-rate of 27.00. He may be slightly expensive but has the knack of picking up wickets.
Shami was exceptional with the ball for India in the World Cup in 2015 and 2019 and is expected to be a regular face in the format now.
Imran Tahir – 8/10
We all talk about leg-spinners but often tend to leave Imran Tahir out of the discussion. However, he has been one of the premier white-ball spinners in the world over this decade. He has taken 173 wickets which is the second-most for a spinner and the third-most overall since January 2010.
Tahir has been South Africa’s wicket-taker in the middle-overs in ODI cricket. He gave them constant breakthroughs in the middle and also put the brakes on the scoring. He’s been one of the constants for South Africa in the shorter formats over the years.
He retired at the end of the 2019 World Cup from the 50-over format and has continued playing T20 cricket. The way he celebrates every wicket shows his passion for the game and his ability to provide breakthroughs regularly gets him an 8.
Dale Steyn – 7.5/10
Some term him the greatest fast bowler of this generation, some call him the one of the greatest of all time (GOAT). Dale Steyn has been absolutely brilliant in this 21st century. He was fabulous at the start of this decade as well where he kept running through sides irrespective of the format.
However, post the 2015 World Cup, a lot of injuries plagued his career and since then, it’s been a stop-start phase for him. The South African pacer has taken 145 wickets in 90 ODIs in this decade. Out of those 111 came from 69 matches came before the 2015 World Cup which underlines the injury issues Steyn faced post-2015.
But overall, Steyn’s numbers are very good. He averages 24.80 and has an economy of 4.72. Moreover, he had a strike-rate of 31.4 which means he picked up at least two wickets in most of the games. But injuries and not featuring regularly in the team post the 2015 World Cup gets him down to 7.5.
Rashid Khan – 8.5/10
Rashid Khan may have made his ODI debut only in October 2015 and missed the first half of the decade. However, the impact he’s had with the white-ball in hand has been remarkable. The Afghanistan superstar has been a dominator in world cricket.
Forget 2010s-decade, Rashid has the best average in the history of ODI cricket for any bowler who has taken more than 50 wickets. He boasts of an average of 18.54 and strikes once almost every 27 deliveries and overall, he has 133 wickets. He’s been one of the reasons for Afghanistan’s success in the recent past.
The leg-spinner has made a huge mark early in his career and is one of the most-sought after cricketers in T20 leagues around the world. He is pretty hard to pick and can turn the ball both ways. However, he’s struggled in two ICC tournaments – 2016 World T20 and 2019 World Cup. Thus, due to that and the reason that the didn’t play the first half of the decade gets him an 8.5.
Jasprit Bumrah – 8.5/10
Here is another bowler who came into the limelight in the second half of the decade. Jasprit Bumrah made his debut only in 2016 but has come up the ranks in no time. He’s become India’s premier fast bowler across formats and is one of the best all-format bowlers at the moment.
Bumrah’s stats are excellent as well. In 58 ODI games, the Gujarat pacer has taken 103 wickets at an average of 21.88 which is the third-best for a bowler with more than 50 wickets in this decade. His economy and strike-rate are very good too. He is going at about 4.49 runs an over and is picking up a wicket every 29 balls.
Moreover, he’s been India’s main man with the ball in the ICC tournaments as well and has performed very well too. Hence, he is among the top bowlers of the 2010s-decade despite playing only for four years. However, he gets 8.5 only for that reason.
Trent Boult – 9/10
If it’s Mitchell Starc for Australia, it is Trent Boult for New Zealand. The left-arm quick started playing ODI cricket only in 2012 and yet, he’s in the top ten list for most wickets in this 2010s-decade. He has picked up 164 wickets at an average of 25.06 and has been striking once almost every five overs.
He has been New Zealand’s premier pacer and be it with the new ball or old ball, Boult has been brilliant. In the 2015 World Cup, Starc hogged away all the limelight with Australia lifting the World Cup but Boult also had similar returns and dominated with the ball. In fact, he has been one of the reasons why New Zealand been good across formats in this decade.
Boult has led the attack brilliantly over the last few years. Moreover, the 30-year-old has played most games and has hardly opted out due to rest. Thus, Boult gets nine on ten.
Lasith Malinga – 9/10
He may not have been in the limelight a lot but Lasith Malinga has been one of the top fast bowlers of this decade. The ace Sri Lankan pacer has faded away and has just shown flashes of brilliance in the recent past but when you consider a span of 10 years, he’s been excellent. He has been the leading ODI wicket-taker in the 2010s-decade.
Malinga has picked up 248 wickets which are 71 more than the next best in this decade. He has played 162 ODIs which is the most for any fast bowler since January 2010. Moreover, no other bowler has more five-wicket hauls than Malinga’s eight in this decade.
The stats show that he is the best fast bowler of this decade. However, constant injuries and indifferent form towards the end of the decade take away the sheen from what has been a fabulous career so far. Thus, Malinga gets a 9.
Mitchell Starc – 9.5/10
There is little doubt as to who the best ODI bowler of this decade is! Mitchell Starc has been absolutely brilliant in white-ball cricket. He may have 172 wickets and is fourth on the list of most wickets this decade but Starc has had the maximum impact.
He knocked over stumps at will and instilled fear in the batsmen as well. The left-arm fast bowler can swing the new ball at pace while he is deadly at the death. He can nail in the yorkers and is one of the best death bowlers going around. The New South Wales pacer has dominated two World Cups as well and has finished on top in the 2015 and 2019 editions.
Starc has a strike-rate of 25.0 and an average of 20.99, both of which are the second-best for any bowler who has taken 50 or more wickets since January 2010. The Australian quick would’ve got 10 on 10 but he hasn’t been a regular in the ODI side over the last few years due to workload issues as he is an all-format bowler for Australia. Thus, he gets a 9.5.
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