Six pacemen who are a head above the rest


A look at the fast bowlers around the world whose heads scrape the door frame, in light of England's new obsession with lanky pacemen like Steve Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin.

Much has been made of England's decision to go for a gigantic set of pacemen to exploit the faster and bouncier pitches in Australia for the return Ashes series. The likes of Tremlett, Finn, and Rankin will be hoping they can enjoy the success of some of the stellar high storey hitmen below.

<b>Bruce Reid (Australia)</b>: Reid was like a skyscraper – six foot and eight inches to be exact – but he was only 12 stone and eight pounds. Nicknamed Pidgeon, a moniker that was eventually passed on to Glenn McGrath, the Perth paceman was stick thin and a whirring blur of arms and legs.

The strain on his fragile body frequently interrupted his career. His back needed stainless steel reinforcement but he only managed 27 Tests, taking almost 50 of his 113 Test wickets in two Ashes series. "If he'd stayed fit there is no doubt Australia would have been recognised as world champions two or three years before we were," coach Bob Simpson said.

<b>Mohammad Irfan (Pakistan)</b>: At seven foot and one inch, Mohammad Irfan is the tallest ever international cricketer. "I would join two beds to sleep properly and when I wanted to play cricket I couldn't find proper shoes," said Irfan who now gets shoes in a British size 15 from a friend.

Touted as the surprise package on the recent South African tour, he took three wickets at 66 but showed enough to put the frighteners on future batsmen.

<b>Ishant Sharma (India)</b>: At six foot and four inches, Ishant burst onto the international scene when he made Ricky Ponting his bunny. Nicknamed 'Lambu' which means tall in Hindi, he became the fifth youngest bowler to take 100 Test wickets.

His career and average have stalled since through injuries and dips in form. Sharma's most memorable and courageous moment this summer was to bowl a slower ball at Eoin Morgan to spark the collapse that saw India snatch the Champions Trophy in Cardiff.

<b>Joel Garner (West Indies)</b>: 'Big Bird' (6 foot 8 inches to be exact) was a towering inferno of height, and toe-crushing accuracy which was equally effective in one day and Test cricket.

He had legs like stilts and it was the height from which the ball that was delivered which made life very difficult. Battling seemed almost impossible given the trajectory of a ball that either nosedived into a yorker or crashed into your ribcage. There was a geniality about him which made things a little more sinister.

<b>Curtly Ambrose (West Indies)</b>: Like Garner's smaller (6' 7) angrier kid brother, Ambrose had a mean streak that was recognised by Allan Donald. White Lightning recalls: "He never said a word but the face told many stories and you know the eyes."

He almost came to blows with Steve Waugh during the infamous Trinidad Test in 1995. The Australian batsman was pounded but refused to back down and told Ambrose where to go in so many words.

Waugh was probably the only one brave or stupid enough. Curtly's celebration should have been patented. The air was punched vehemently and high fives exploded down onto smaller team mate like hand grenades.

<b>Morne Morkel (South Africa)</b>: Morne Morkel must have been in Andrew Strauss's recurring nightmares when the former England skipper decided to retire last summer. Strauss was playing bunny to Morkel in much the same way that Mike Atherton was driven silently mad by McGrath and Ambrose.

At six foot six inches, the Transvaal tyro once clocked 173.9 kph on the speed gun, although it is the steepling bounce that makes the cocktail lethal.

<b>Tim Ellis</b>