This week we complete the Greatest Ever Bear series with the hunt for the Greatest Ever Bears Seamer.

There are few more spectacular sights in cricket than a paceman delivering the ball at 90mph or the ball shaping away like a leg-cutter at 80mph-plus. That’s some skill and Warwickshire have had some wonderful exponents of it…who will get your vote?

Thank you to everyone who has voted throughout the summer in the Greatest Ever series that has got Bears fans and former players talking worldwide.

Next week we round up the series and, based on all the polls’ results, announce the Greatest Ever Bears Team.

Sydney Santall – 1894-1914

  • First class: 371 matches; 1,207 wickets at 23.96

Sydney Santall has taken more wickets for Warwickshire than any other seamer, his 1,207 putting him behind only Greatest Ever Bears Spinner Eric Hollies in the overall list. He took five or more wickets in an innings on 63 occasions during a career which began under Queen Victoria, matured under Edward VII and ended under George V.

Santall bowled 70,890 balls for the Bears, a great many of them uphill or into the wind! His gentle medium-pacers were delivered with metronomic accuracy and dangerous swing and cut, building the pressure from which pacemen like Frank Foster and Frank Field profited at the other end.

Santall was an important member of the attack which bowled the Bears to their first championship title in 1911, with 53 wickets at 28.52. Three years later, aged 41, he was still taking championship wickets at 15.83 apiece. If the First World War had not intervened, Santall’s stats would have towered even higher.

David Brown – 1961-1982

  • First class: 326 matches; 1,005 wickets at 23.95
  • List A: 179 matches; 221 wickets at 25.44

David Brown’s excellence as a seamer was matched by similar qualities as a bloke and resonated at Edgbaston for more than 20 years. He played 26 Tests for England alongside 505 games across the formats for Warwickshire.

Brown’s first championship wicket for the Bears, Nottinghamshire’s Carlton Forbes, arrived at Trent Bridge on August 12th, 1961. His last, Surrey’s Alan Butcher, came at Edgbaston on August 12th 1982. Exactly 21 years, during which he was pivotal to successive generations of the Bears seam-attack.

Some of those generations were less than formidable, leaving Brown as the go-to option with a mighty workload. A great team man, he always shouldered it uncomplainingly. There was no challenge from which he  shirked, no thankless task he would not take on for the team.

Brown’s skills as a bowler were considerable, but just one component of the make-up of a man whose input to Warwickshire, as player, man and mentor, is impossible to over-state.

Bob Willis – 1972-1984

  • First class: 136 matches; 353 wickets at 24.84
  • List A: 185 matches; 274 wickets at 19.75

Bob Willis was the best English fast-bowler of his generation and, at his peak, arguably the best in the world. To hit those heights while also playing county cricket at a time, before central contacts, when England players were expected to also play all county cricket, was an astounding feat of physical and mental resilience.

Willis made no secret of his difficulty in getting motivated for flat, stale-mate championship matches, of which there were plenty in the 1970s. If he did, at times, choose to conserve his energy, it was a wise decision, protecting his strength to enable him to deliver some of England’s greatest days.

For the Bears, too, he offered many match-winning performances. His stats in List A cricket, where there were no dead games, tell the story: 274 wickets at under 20 apiece.

Of all the great seamers to have played for Warwickshire, is there one whom a batsman, needing to bat for his life, would less like to face than ‘Big Bob’?

Gladstone Small – 1980-1999

  • First class: 272 matches; 717 wickets at 27.98
  • List A: 330 matches; 396 wickets at 25.48

Later in his career, Gladstone Small formed the Greatest Ever Bears New-ball Pair with Allan Donald. He was a superb seam-bowler and formed a devastating attack along with A.D and Tim Munton in the early-to-mid ’90s. But it is his years of earlier work, when he led an attack of rather less vaunted company, that makes a strong case for him to be the Greatest Ever Bears Seamer.

On May 8, 1980, Small bowled Somerset’s Vic Marks’s to secure his first first-class wicket. That year, aged 18, he played 13 championship matches. The following season he played 18; the year after that 22. Aged 20, Small already had more than 50 championship games under his belt – an immense responsibility for a youngster still learning his trade.

He learned well, as 17 Test caps for England and an array of trophies with Warwickshire testify. A fiercely-proud Bear, Gladstone Small’s many qualities of heart and skill resounded in good times and bad for the Bears.

Allan Donald – 1987-2000

  • First class: 141 matches; 536 wickets at 20.82
  • List A: 149 matches; 245 wickets at 19.21

Already voted the Greatest Ever Bears Overseas Player, Allan Donald was a shoo-in for the short-list for Greatest Ever Bears Seamer.

Warwickshire have been fortunate to have many players who gave everything for the team every time they went on the field. A.D was emphatically one of those and, in his case, as the fastest bowler in the world, they called for vast reserves of mental and physical strength.

His brilliance for the Bears peaked in 1995 when he lead the championship title-retention with 88 wickets at 15.48 apiece. Throughout a baking hot summer, time and again, he powered in, sometimes for hours on end, driving his team on  towards victory. To this day, his team-mates from that season still speak of his work that year with admiration bordering on awe.

Allan Donald never, for one moment, gave less than everything… and everything from A.D was added up to magnificent fast bowling.

Cast your vote

To vote for Warwickshire’s Greatest Seam Bowler, simply complete the below form. Everyone who submits their vote will be entered into a prize draw to win a signed Warwickshire shirt.

Voting closes at 5pm on Tuesday 28 July and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.