A few days ago, there was a discussion on a cricket site regarding who is the better bowler amongst Waqar/Pollock/Donald. Though very good bowlers in their era, they failed to break into the all time great list of Marshall, Akram, Ambrose, Mc Grath ,Warne amongst a few others.
Donald had sheer pace and meancing swing. Waqar was feared for his toe-crushing yorkers and Pollock though not a express pace – still had amazing discipline with which he picked up wickets. So I pulled up their statistics and this is the nationwide distribution of their average and strike rate.
Waqar’s average is great in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. In Pakistan bowling on flat wickets and maintaining that kind of average is quite laudable. In India the sample size is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions out of it. His main bugbear seems to be bowling in South Africa, England and Oz. In England and Saffers under bowling friendly conditions, Waqar has underperformned by quite a margin. In Australia he averages 40 which is even worse. Donald’s worst bowling performance is in Pakistan where he averages 32 followed by 28 in Oz. Everywhere else, he averages a commendable sub-25 level. Pollock has a similar problem in performing in Australia – averaging 34 there. 28 and 27 in Windies and India are another place where he has not performed at his best.
Lets see their year wise performance in their career.
Waqar’s career: Waqar’s first few years were the cream of his career. From 1990 to 1994, his bowling performances were superlative. It was during his prime that he tormented the English batsman with the lethal toe-crushers and banana swing. However he suffered an injury in 1995 after which his performance became wayward. His place in the team was in and out in the next few years. Though he gave some inspiring performances in the coming years, the waqar of yore was not seen again.
Donald’s career: Donald’s prime was from 96 – 2000. This period was a relatively easier period to bat than the early 90s which still favored bowlers to an extent. Still Donald’s stats dont give that away. His consistency during the prime years was remarkable, going above 20 in just one year. I still remember his delivery to an UAE batsman who had the gall to bat to Donald without a helmet on. The ball was a lethal bouncer which the batsman on the head, who remarkably escaped without any injuries
Pollock’s career: Unlike the other two bowlers being discussed, Shaun Pollock was an allrounder – He didnt have the same express pace that Waqar or Donald had, but he was ever the workhorse who was disciplined and bowled a consistent line and length with great swing. He took 421 wickets at an average of 23 odd, which in itself is quite remarkable. Add to that his batting ability and you have a match winner. Pollock’s prime was from 98 to 2003 barring slightly poor performance in the one year of 2002.
It is very difficult to pick and choose among these three bowlers as who is the best of them. However my personal choice would be to go with Donald, followed by Waqar and Pollock.