Before Muttiah Muralitharan made off-spin a more coveted art form, there was Lance Gibbs, considered one of the best to have ever played the game as a spinner. He was the first spin bowler to take 300 wickets in Test cricket. Even to this day, among off-spinners, who have more than 300 wickets, Gibbs has the best economy rate. He celebrated his 87th birthday.
This off-spinner, who represented West Indies, has more than 1000 wickets in first-class cricket to his name, a huge achievement considering that West Indies was always known for its fast bowlers.
Lance Gibbs made his debut against Pakistan on 5 February 1958. He took 4 wickets in the first match. He bagged a 5-wicket haul in an innings in the third Test match as he picked up 5 wickets for 80 runs in the second innings of the Test played against Pakistan on 13 March 1958. He was named in the tour to India where he was not able to pick up any wickets.
The first Test on the 1960–61 tour of Australia was a tie. West Indies were beaten in the second Test after which Lance Gibbs got the opportunity to play in the third Test match. He took five wickets in the first innings on a pitch that was conducive to fast bowling. Gibbs knocked over Australia with 3 wickets in 4 balls.
In the next Test, played in Adelaide, Gibbs was among the wickets when he took a hat-trick and became the first bowler to do so against Australia in the 20th century. He took 19 wickets in 3 matches of the series.
In 79 Tests of his career, Lance Gibbs took 309 wickets at an average of 29. During this, his economy rate was 1.98. Among bowlers who have taken 300 or more wickets in the world, only Lance has an economy of less than 2. Muttiah Muralitharan, who is the most successful bowler in Test cricket, has conceded runs at an economy rate of 2.47.
Lance Gibbs took 5 wickets on 18 occasions and bagged 10 wickets in a match twice. In his career, he picked up 1024 wickets in 330 matches of first-class cricket.
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