Third Test, Perth December 18, 2006

Breathtaking Warne-O-Scope

I so enjoy watching Warne bowl that it’s almost a shame to spoil it by writing: it’s like explaining a magic trick.
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When you’ve as many Test wickets as Shane Warne, I suppose you can afford to be philosophical. But if ever a bowler deserved more for his dedication, it was Warne yesterday, who ended the day with 1 for 100 for 31 fierce, feisty and fun overs.

Great as he is on days like the last at Adelaide, where his self-belief fuels an entire XI, I somehow relish him more in situations like this, where he shows the depth of his character, competitiveness, obstinacy and optimism. I’ve tried to convey some of those depths in a couple of pieces for the Guardian today, although I so enjoy watching Warne bowl that it’s almost a shame to spoil it by writing: it’s like explaining a magic trick.

Warne simply never lets a ball go without expecting a wicket. When some do not, he is obstupefied. He reminds me of a story that John Rutherford told me about that ornery all-rounder Cec Pepper, who some will know as a pioneer of the flipper.

Pepper was bowling one day to Frank Worrell, and released a delivery with a cry of: ‘That’s it!’ It was: Worrell was bowled. When team-mates gathered excitedly round Pepper and asked about the ejaculation, he explained simply: ‘As soon as I let it go, I knew there wasn’t a man alive who could play that ball.’

At the press conference after yesterday’s plan, Glenn McGrath paid Warne pointed treatment: his late wickets were Warne's as much as his own. Standing at the back of the presser as I usually do, I also saw a nice moment as Cook left, McGrath entered and most of the crowd were fussing over their tape recorders. As they passed, McGrath shook Cook’s hand warmly: ‘Well batted. Great effort.’ It could have been two blokes from rival clubs after a Saturday game; the Australians' magnanimity where opponents are concerned is one of their most endearing qualities.

Maybe I should have asked McGrath what he thinks of Rudi Koertzen, seeing he was another batsman who received a distinctly speculative decision from him on the first day. Or Michael Clarke whom he fired at Lord’s, and at Sydney during the Super Test. Or...well, I could go on. Just so we’re clear: there’s nothing partisan in my low opinion of Koertzen’s umpiring. Nor am I rushing to judgement. Yes, umpires do make mistakes: replays showed that Steve Bucknor sawed Strauss off in Adelaide, but Bucknor's umpiring this summer has otherwise been excellent so criticism would be unwarranted. Umpires, though, are also open to criticism. The whole idea of the ICC Elite Panel is that some umpires are better than others. How else are we to know this than by critical evaluation of their performances? For the record, I think the best umpires in the world at the moment are Mark Benson and Simon Taufel. What a shame neither will umpire an Ashes Test.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • scott on December 23, 2006, 13:48 GMT

    Raj - WOW - Loved the response - full of passion!! Dude - let me clear one thing up - firstly -this is not a pro Aussie post - I hope that I'm not one of those who beat ones own drum - far from it. In fact - due to the failures the Aussie Cricket Team continually went through in the 1980's - I hope I am not one to gloat. I am merely emphasising a point - one that neutral umpires have alleviated - 'the home officiating bias'. It is a known FACT that Javed Miandad was NEVER given out for a LBW decision in Pakistan - this is not Sub continental bashing dude - his name was used to emphasise the point - that neutral umpires are more likely to have less 'bias' propoganda placed on them. In restrospect, I believe that there is as much 'home ground advantage' for home based teams in regards to umpiring due to range of reasons 1. local teams usually play their own conditions better - and this could cause umpires to be more influenced 2. Home crowd advantage - through crowd pressure - along with pressure on the field can influence an umpires decision 3. Others Im sure could be included - just cant think of some right now!! Cricket is a great game and some of the levellers of the games makes it soo interesting. Hey - Im even one to cringe at some of the decisions made - some of the worst being to a Sub-Continental player - Sachin Tendulkar - every time he bats in Oz. But you know that is the game - and I would say that in the long run- man - if you have the better players - your team will win more games than lose! Cheers P.S Have a great Christmas

  • Alan on December 21, 2006, 12:05 GMT

    It is a pity that such a fine writer like Gideon Haigh has jumped on the bandwagon of jingoism that has been prevailing in Australian cricket for some time and reached its peak with the shameful defense of Daryl Hair in the ball tampering affair during the English summer.

    Haigh, instead of criticising the deplorable appealing of Warne on the fourth day of the Perth test, finds fault with Rudi Koertzen and the umpiring in general during the series so far. He then seems to think that the remedy is to allow Benson and Taufel to umpire in the current series.

    Koertzen and the other umpires, though not infallible but very human, have done a fine job in the series. Their shortcoming has been to allow Warne to get off with his shocking over appealing. If a visiting bowler appealed half as much as Warne, not to talk of the histrionics that went with it, they would be hung drawn and quartered by the local media. It would be interesting to see how much pressure Benson and Taufel can withstand from Warne.

    As Haigh should know, there in no major international sport that allows neutral umpires. Human nature being what it is, and with umpires having to make a split second decisions, it is only logical to have neutral umpires.

    If Haigh wants a reason for the continuation of neutral umpires then he should think back to the test matches that were umpired by Australian umpires in the late 80’s and for most of the 90’s. Some of the decisions that went against the visiting teams made even a patriotic Bill Lawry cringe with embarrassment. I am sure Haigh has mates in the studios of Channel 9 that would provide him access to some of those tapes.

  • Shawry on December 21, 2006, 8:45 GMT

    Ashish - in relation to Murali and your obviously completely tunnel-vision view of the game, yes he is a very effective bowler. But he has only been a bowler for a couple of years. Prior to the changing of the game's laws to accomodate him, he was a chucker. An out and out chucker, javelin thrower, cheat, whatever you want to call it. the law allowed 5 degrees of flex and he measured, repeatedly, upwards of 12 degrees. Lets check his record again, but only include the matches since the game was changed to prevent the embarassment of throwing out a player who had been bowling illegally since his debut, without anybody in Sri Lankan cricket having the intelligence, or perhaps honesty, to do anything about it. Let's face it, he's a match winner and they don't have any others. Of course they'll fight for him.

    And just to add a personal opinion, his action when he bowls the doosra still deteriorates from time to time and the degree of flex appears to increase. If you want to look for it, it seems to happen more often the mroe desperate he and Sri Lanka are for a wicket.

  • raj on December 20, 2006, 17:18 GMT

    scott, yes, minandad will be given out in pakistan. But not Ponting in Australia. GO and count the thousand instances of Ponting benefitting from umpiring decisions in the last few years. You Aussies sure know how to blame others but ignore your own flaws. The way you talk, it is as if all ills are in Sub-continent and you are all descendants of St.Peter. P.S: Sorry St. Peter, please dont get offended. I didnt mean it!

  • rhino on December 20, 2006, 13:30 GMT

    Chris, you're kidding - right? "A high proportion of Warne's wickets are tailenders". Gee mate...you think? How many spinners do YOU know are given the new ball and bowl at the top order? The less said about Ahmed's rant the better - what a disgrace. What's the matter boys, Warney been texting your girlfriends? It's the only reason I can fathom for such ill-informed garbage.

  • s on December 20, 2006, 12:30 GMT

    Geez - reckon I could spell his name right - phew!! Pieterson

  • scott on December 20, 2006, 11:55 GMT

    Warne has always been the great entertainer - love him or loathe him - his input in the game can never be measured. I believe that Kevin Peterson will become the next great entertainer of the game - for this man is truely special. Despite the negativity surronding the English team - not enough praise has been lavished on him. He has demonstrated a rare English philosophy - that is to protect his wicket like few around him have. Lets hail the king - but with the king ending his career - Peterson will become the great entertainer. And please - this debate on umpires is ridiculous!! The ICC has - finally- got it right - neutral umpires do form the best type of umpire - even Miandad would be given out in Pakistan today!! The standards are as good today as ever before - it is the scutiny they are under that has changed the way we see the game. Use technology - but the greatest part of our game is the unexpected Enjoy all Scott

  • Dan on December 20, 2006, 8:13 GMT

    Doug Point taken. I reckon the initial reaction of nine out of ten cricket watchers was that the lbw was out. (ie without the benefit of tv replays) Perhaps we must rename batsmen such as Strauss to padsmen?

  • Richard on December 20, 2006, 7:13 GMT

    Quote from alsch

    My favourite moment this series has been Warne uttering "What happened?" because he missed Jones being run-out due to his immediate excessive appealing!

    Unquote

    Excessive, ay?

    Yes you could look at it that way if you are bloody minded, or one could see it differently (read more intelligently) and realise that so ingrained in Warne's theatrics as he was, Jones was spellbound into forgetting to get behind his crease. Warne 'took' that wicket. That's what sets him apart from the rest. He makes things happen. That World Cup Semi Final against South Africa was the same. Long live the great Shane Warne. May his every day be a Christmas, and every night a New Years Eve.

  • Richard on December 20, 2006, 6:54 GMT

    The umpiring decisions even out in the end. Immature people don't understand the significance of that fact. In a word: It doesn't matter.

    Provided of course, there is a continued enforcement of neutral umpires in India and Pakistan. (Case in point: backflip on the Nandralone cheats and Afridi doing the twist on a good length). Great bowlers: Using straight bowling arms as the prerequisite for greatness, the three greatest bowlers of recent times are Warne; DK Lillee & MD Marshall. All things considered.

    One more point - I think the way Australian's score is the philosophy behind their dominance in cricket. Wickets are the key to winning a Test match, therefore they carry a greater importance and should be noted first. Other teams need to learn that. To me this is clearly evident.

  • scott on December 23, 2006, 13:48 GMT

    Raj - WOW - Loved the response - full of passion!! Dude - let me clear one thing up - firstly -this is not a pro Aussie post - I hope that I'm not one of those who beat ones own drum - far from it. In fact - due to the failures the Aussie Cricket Team continually went through in the 1980's - I hope I am not one to gloat. I am merely emphasising a point - one that neutral umpires have alleviated - 'the home officiating bias'. It is a known FACT that Javed Miandad was NEVER given out for a LBW decision in Pakistan - this is not Sub continental bashing dude - his name was used to emphasise the point - that neutral umpires are more likely to have less 'bias' propoganda placed on them. In restrospect, I believe that there is as much 'home ground advantage' for home based teams in regards to umpiring due to range of reasons 1. local teams usually play their own conditions better - and this could cause umpires to be more influenced 2. Home crowd advantage - through crowd pressure - along with pressure on the field can influence an umpires decision 3. Others Im sure could be included - just cant think of some right now!! Cricket is a great game and some of the levellers of the games makes it soo interesting. Hey - Im even one to cringe at some of the decisions made - some of the worst being to a Sub-Continental player - Sachin Tendulkar - every time he bats in Oz. But you know that is the game - and I would say that in the long run- man - if you have the better players - your team will win more games than lose! Cheers P.S Have a great Christmas

  • Alan on December 21, 2006, 12:05 GMT

    It is a pity that such a fine writer like Gideon Haigh has jumped on the bandwagon of jingoism that has been prevailing in Australian cricket for some time and reached its peak with the shameful defense of Daryl Hair in the ball tampering affair during the English summer.

    Haigh, instead of criticising the deplorable appealing of Warne on the fourth day of the Perth test, finds fault with Rudi Koertzen and the umpiring in general during the series so far. He then seems to think that the remedy is to allow Benson and Taufel to umpire in the current series.

    Koertzen and the other umpires, though not infallible but very human, have done a fine job in the series. Their shortcoming has been to allow Warne to get off with his shocking over appealing. If a visiting bowler appealed half as much as Warne, not to talk of the histrionics that went with it, they would be hung drawn and quartered by the local media. It would be interesting to see how much pressure Benson and Taufel can withstand from Warne.

    As Haigh should know, there in no major international sport that allows neutral umpires. Human nature being what it is, and with umpires having to make a split second decisions, it is only logical to have neutral umpires.

    If Haigh wants a reason for the continuation of neutral umpires then he should think back to the test matches that were umpired by Australian umpires in the late 80’s and for most of the 90’s. Some of the decisions that went against the visiting teams made even a patriotic Bill Lawry cringe with embarrassment. I am sure Haigh has mates in the studios of Channel 9 that would provide him access to some of those tapes.

  • Shawry on December 21, 2006, 8:45 GMT

    Ashish - in relation to Murali and your obviously completely tunnel-vision view of the game, yes he is a very effective bowler. But he has only been a bowler for a couple of years. Prior to the changing of the game's laws to accomodate him, he was a chucker. An out and out chucker, javelin thrower, cheat, whatever you want to call it. the law allowed 5 degrees of flex and he measured, repeatedly, upwards of 12 degrees. Lets check his record again, but only include the matches since the game was changed to prevent the embarassment of throwing out a player who had been bowling illegally since his debut, without anybody in Sri Lankan cricket having the intelligence, or perhaps honesty, to do anything about it. Let's face it, he's a match winner and they don't have any others. Of course they'll fight for him.

    And just to add a personal opinion, his action when he bowls the doosra still deteriorates from time to time and the degree of flex appears to increase. If you want to look for it, it seems to happen more often the mroe desperate he and Sri Lanka are for a wicket.

  • raj on December 20, 2006, 17:18 GMT

    scott, yes, minandad will be given out in pakistan. But not Ponting in Australia. GO and count the thousand instances of Ponting benefitting from umpiring decisions in the last few years. You Aussies sure know how to blame others but ignore your own flaws. The way you talk, it is as if all ills are in Sub-continent and you are all descendants of St.Peter. P.S: Sorry St. Peter, please dont get offended. I didnt mean it!

  • rhino on December 20, 2006, 13:30 GMT

    Chris, you're kidding - right? "A high proportion of Warne's wickets are tailenders". Gee mate...you think? How many spinners do YOU know are given the new ball and bowl at the top order? The less said about Ahmed's rant the better - what a disgrace. What's the matter boys, Warney been texting your girlfriends? It's the only reason I can fathom for such ill-informed garbage.

  • s on December 20, 2006, 12:30 GMT

    Geez - reckon I could spell his name right - phew!! Pieterson

  • scott on December 20, 2006, 11:55 GMT

    Warne has always been the great entertainer - love him or loathe him - his input in the game can never be measured. I believe that Kevin Peterson will become the next great entertainer of the game - for this man is truely special. Despite the negativity surronding the English team - not enough praise has been lavished on him. He has demonstrated a rare English philosophy - that is to protect his wicket like few around him have. Lets hail the king - but with the king ending his career - Peterson will become the great entertainer. And please - this debate on umpires is ridiculous!! The ICC has - finally- got it right - neutral umpires do form the best type of umpire - even Miandad would be given out in Pakistan today!! The standards are as good today as ever before - it is the scutiny they are under that has changed the way we see the game. Use technology - but the greatest part of our game is the unexpected Enjoy all Scott

  • Dan on December 20, 2006, 8:13 GMT

    Doug Point taken. I reckon the initial reaction of nine out of ten cricket watchers was that the lbw was out. (ie without the benefit of tv replays) Perhaps we must rename batsmen such as Strauss to padsmen?

  • Richard on December 20, 2006, 7:13 GMT

    Quote from alsch

    My favourite moment this series has been Warne uttering "What happened?" because he missed Jones being run-out due to his immediate excessive appealing!

    Unquote

    Excessive, ay?

    Yes you could look at it that way if you are bloody minded, or one could see it differently (read more intelligently) and realise that so ingrained in Warne's theatrics as he was, Jones was spellbound into forgetting to get behind his crease. Warne 'took' that wicket. That's what sets him apart from the rest. He makes things happen. That World Cup Semi Final against South Africa was the same. Long live the great Shane Warne. May his every day be a Christmas, and every night a New Years Eve.

  • Richard on December 20, 2006, 6:54 GMT

    The umpiring decisions even out in the end. Immature people don't understand the significance of that fact. In a word: It doesn't matter.

    Provided of course, there is a continued enforcement of neutral umpires in India and Pakistan. (Case in point: backflip on the Nandralone cheats and Afridi doing the twist on a good length). Great bowlers: Using straight bowling arms as the prerequisite for greatness, the three greatest bowlers of recent times are Warne; DK Lillee & MD Marshall. All things considered.

    One more point - I think the way Australian's score is the philosophy behind their dominance in cricket. Wickets are the key to winning a Test match, therefore they carry a greater importance and should be noted first. Other teams need to learn that. To me this is clearly evident.

  • k on December 20, 2006, 5:49 GMT

    Enron accountants by the look of things.

  • marcus on December 20, 2006, 3:47 GMT

    Ashish- What Mark Waugh and Shane Warne did was WRONG, no doubt about it, and I never said otherwise. What I did say was that there's a world of difference between giving pitch information to a bookie, and deliberately throwing a match, like Cronje and Azharuddin did. Of course it's an offence, but just not on the same level as match-throwing.

  • Tim on December 19, 2006, 22:10 GMT

    Let's celebrate our champions, not count them. What are we all, accountants?

  • alsch on December 19, 2006, 16:10 GMT

    My favourite moment this series has been Warne uttering "What happened?" because he missed Jones being run-out due to his immediate excessive appealing!

    Warne, one of the worlds best cricketers of all time. Definitely. Test cricket is going to be a far worse place without him. Someone mentioned that Australia will be losing two of their best ever players soon (gilchrist and warne), i am wondering why McGrath didnt get included there, he will retire sooner rather than later and certainly deserves to be uttered in the same breath. OK, so Warne has played more than previous candidates but that does bring with it extra stresses and strains. As for the appealing, I find it amusing, which I why I also love watching Monty bowl as well. I know why it is closely monitored but it adds a bit of exitement sometimes.

    I have to disagree with YG, who seemed to be incapable of taking an objective view. OK, McGrath was unlucky but to call any of the disputed Strauss'dismisals as 50-50 is a bit of a disservice to one of Englands better batsmen. You can mention all the bad decisions from 2005 but Strauss has been unlucky as any of those. Not that another few overs would have made the blind bit of difference, England have been outplayed, out-batted, out-bowled out-mindgamed, by Australia. Something that struck me at the weekend was actually seeing the difference in intensity between an Ashes test and any other test match. I was casually flicking between a repeat of Englands demise and the play from South Africa and India which seemed like a friendly bat in the park in comparison, I only hope that if England gain anything from this series it is further building of character, as in the case of Ian Bell.

    Having said all that, even the most staunch Aussie would have to admit that this England team contains far more ability than any we have seen for many years. Whilst the 3-0 scoreline is highly deserved that is not to say that England haven't put up a fight, just not constantly for a whole test. I still wake up sweating from the nightmare of Adelaide!

    The biggest difference between the two sides? Ricky Ponting, who has finally laid to rest the ghosts of 2005 and emerged as not only one of the best batsmen in the world (ever?) but also a great captain leading by example.

    Enough has been written about Husseys contribution, he has certainly put in a claim for player of the series.

    Roll on the MCG.

  • Warren on December 19, 2006, 11:59 GMT

    Dang u guys r tough, there are 2 spin bowlers that top the list as far as i can see, Shane Warne and Muralitheran, now the 1 question i do ask is this: How many have each spinner taken that have been top order batsmen, middle order batsmen and lower order batsmen and i dont care what continent they play on the figured will tell not the players they faced.

    More 3rd umpire, who needs more time wasting or challenges to take up time. the commentating and the replay or the hawk-eye give a view or perspective that isnt straight from the umps eyes replace the umps eyes with cameras and there u go he see only 1 view his and goes from instincts and gut feeling and experience. Dont try nad fix what isnt broken.

  • ashish on December 19, 2006, 11:44 GMT

    well lets keep the record straight, warne is a great, one of the all time greats, but the greatest, not at all. as it has been pointed out by some others tht mcgrath is a better bowler than warne and i totally agree with it. kyle says tht just coz warne hasnt succeeded in india,doesnt mean tht it sudnt mean that he is not the greatest, well mate when warne was up against the most challenging time of his career and up agaisnt the players who play spin better than anyone else, he came up a cropper and not just once but thrice, and tht means tht all tht hoopla around warne is rubbish, he has failed hi test miserbly more so when u look into the fact that he has got support in the form of having a top class pace bowling attack and a very good batting line up whih always made sure that the bowlers would always end up defending a big total. as far as tendulkar is concerned, just look at his record in australia, south africa and england, no need for me to say it, and yes while looking in those numbers just keep the following in mind tht more often tnan not, atleast till 2001, he was the only batsmen taking the fight to the opposition day in and day out, there was no bowler in the team nor india had the bowling attack which gave the confidence to the batsmen tht even a low score can be defended,and te pressure tht he faced, inspite of tht just look at this record and his consistency, u will get the answer. as far as how any matches he won for india, well my knowledge of cricket tells me tht its the bowlers who wins the test matches while batsmen setting up big totals, and needless to say india did not had any bowling attack nor any other batsmen apart from tendulkar to make enough runs on the board. and still tendlkars consistency and his big scores are there, go and see it, no need for me to tell u. its a fact tht most of the team are not gud players of spin including the australians themselves especially their captain ricky ponting, and therefore tht definately dilutes his achievement a bit. is tht his mistake, no, definately not, but if someone has done it better than him than the credit should go to him. i have never seen subhas gupte, only read abt him. but if someone like sobers says tht he is the greayest spinner of all times, well he has to be gud, but i think the greatest spinner of all time has to be murali, he has done well against indians, probably the only spinner in the modern day era to do so, he has taken wickets without any support from the other end, i think wht tendulkar faced, the same has been with murali and for me he is the greatest. navin pinto says murali is a javalin thrower, well i think there are better experts than u mate who are sitting in the icc, and if they have given the clean chit to murali well then for me their view matter and not pinto's view. so keep ur view to urself. as far as warne off field activity is concerned, of course he is no saint, but probably there not many probably for say tendulkar. the reason im mentioning tendulkar here is tht these two are one of the greatest but the similarities end there only. no need for me to elaborate on this, im sure the readers know abt all this, but the fact is that match fixing is not off the field activity. marcus says he and mark waugh only provided pitch information and weather information. but mate they gave tht for money, and this comes under within the purview of match fixing and most importantly why was tht information not made public, why did the icc kept the information secret for four years, and if tht was no offence why they were penalised by the australian cricket board, the very fact that they were penalised points to the fact that they had committed an offence. for me warne would always would live witht the tag o a match fixer no matter wht he achieves agaisnt batsmen who cant play damn spin.

  • sharoz on December 19, 2006, 10:42 GMT

    warne is the greatest spinner EVER! ashish if u thnk warne isnt the greatest than who is?besides if a player is measured on how he performs against the best then warne has performed against sri lanka and pakistan as well .Its only india IN india where he hasnt been able to perform who do you think is the greatest spinner anywayz????warne is the greatest .Period:P

  • kyle on December 19, 2006, 9:32 GMT

    marcus- good point, my opinion is based on the fact that he has 699 wickets and noone else has. i guess comparing bowlers of differant eras is quite stupid. ill compramise and say that warne is the best spin bowler of our era. Mabye my earier comments were poorly thought out, for that i apologise.

  • marcus on December 19, 2006, 7:15 GMT

    Ashish- Warne and Mark Waugh didn't actually fix a match, what they actually did was give pitch and weather information to a bookmaker. That's why they only recieved fines, rather than bans.

    Kyle- how can you say that Warne's the greatest BOWLER of all time? That's impossible to measure. Is he a better spin bowler than Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall or Syd Barnes are as pace bowlers? That's like saying that Johnny Cash is a better singer than Luciano Parvarotti- they're just too different to say that one of them is better than the other. I think Kartikeya's right. Benaud thinks that Warne's the greatest, Sobers prefers Subhash Gupte, Bradman chose Grimmett and O'Reilley in his all-time team. Who's to say that not one of them could have done better than Warne playing today?

  • andrew on December 19, 2006, 7:08 GMT

    murali has more 5 & 10 wicket hauls because there is no-one else in his team to get wickets! it is hard for warne to get wickets when there is mcgrath, lee, gillespie taking heaps of wickets before he even gets a bowl. warne is the greatest spinner ever, to say otherwise is ridiculous.

  • mike on December 19, 2006, 6:33 GMT

    Hello all. I am an Aussie and proud of it. I have read all your comments regarding how good/bad the Australian cricketers are in your eyes but you fail to miss 1 very important fact... Dad's Army beat the English team very convincingly by playing hard, tough cricket. Umpiring decisions come and go. Great play does not. (Ticker and skill count for a lot in any sport.) We hear a lot of great stuff about Monty. Frankly when compared to Warne he looks like a Saturday afternoon trundler. All I got to say about Warne is 699! The greatest wicket taker in test history. Start banging on about batsmen. Which one of the English team has not improved their average against Bangladesh and failed miserably eysewhere? The message is the Ashes are where they belong simply due to the unassailable fact that the English contingent (players, managers and support crew) have been out-played and out-thought by a very professional unit. This trend may not continue but for now it is 3-o Australia and they are looking at making that 5! By the way... Do these Aussie players get an OBE for their efforts lol...?

  • Houston on December 19, 2006, 5:18 GMT

    I agree that the odd umpiring error we have witnessed so far in the ashes have not changed the course of the tests - england have been well and truly outplayed. I'm not that keen to start referring too many decisions to the 3rd umpire - I think it takes away a little from the umpires responsibility, but also from the players attitude (would Gilly still walk, or wait from 3rd umpire). As for the challenge option, well they are trying it in tennis, and it seems to be working, I just still think the way they have it at the moment seems to work pretty well (and it adds to the post match banter :-) As for Warne been the best, well that will always be debated, but what cannot go denied is that he is undoubtedly a match winner and I don't think there is a team in the world that would not have him as their 1st pick bowler. His record may not be as impressive on the sub continent, but he still does well, and that argument can be applied to great sun continent batsmen who perform less well overseas. Say what you like about Warne and his theatrics and off field behaviour, what he has done for cricket is fantastic. I personally prefer Murali as I think players respect him a little more.

  • kyle on December 19, 2006, 5:03 GMT

    ashish- to say that warne is neither the greatest bowler and spinner in the history of the game is simply ridiculas. If not warne than who is? and yes check the stats. he has taken lara's wicket 7 times, dravids 8. I do agree that in india warne has not been so brilliant, but give the guy a break, hes just unstoppable every where else. Does failing in india undo everything he is done in his career? Warne is the best the worlds has ever seen. Lets not deny the greastest BOWLER of all time his title.

  • Ahmed on December 19, 2006, 4:21 GMT

    Kartekiya's comments are very well informed and reflect the observations of a genuine crciket conneiseur. I also have had serious reservations of Wisden's credibility since the naming of the 5 Wisden Cricketers of the Century. The fact that Warne is the only bowler of the five automatically implies that he is the best bowler of all time which is a total nonsense. Again we need to put things into perspective and ask ourselves, when it comes to the crunch and the need arises to dismiss the best players in the world today (i.e. Lara, Dravid, Tendulkar, Inzimam, Pietersen, Fleming etc) and suppose you could only choose one of the great Australian Bowlers in the current team - would you want to have Warne or McGrath available to do the job ? I am sure that 90% of knowledgeable cricket followers would prefer Glenn McGrath. To further stress the point, I thought it was pertinent that the best Australian bowler I have ever seen, Dennis Lillee, on the eve of McGrath's 500th Test wciket, rated McGrath the 4th best bowler of his time behind, Akram, Ambrose and Marshall and I totally agreed with Lillee's assessment. In my own view this makes Warne no better than the 5th best bowler of his OWN era so what about the enitre history of Cricket? But that is not to denigrate Warne overly. He is still a tremendously skilled great bowler but we need to have some balance and perspective with regards to his status in the game particularly with so many emotive scribes annointing him as the 'Bradman of Bowling'. It is also pertinent to discuss the Career of Warne when we extol the virtues of using technology for umpiring decisions. Justin is spot-on when highlighting the anomaly of using technology to decide whether a ball reached a boundary but not considering it important enough for judging LBW's caught behinds, bat-pads etc.

    Typically Warne gets at least one wicket per test Match that is NOT OUT either through lbws to balls that pitched outside leg, or balls that pitched in line but would have spun well past the stumps or the controversial bat pad-catches that are given more due to the vociferous orchestrated appealing - which Warne has made an Art-form of - than any concrete evidence that the ball hit the bat. Examples that quickly spring to Mind - Harmison in this test, Strauss last Test, Ashwell Prince 5 times last summer, Lara in Hobart last summer also, Yousuf, Sami and Akmal 2nd inns Melbourne 2 seasons ago, Trescothick at edgbaston 2001 (technology was used to determine whether the ball hit the ground or not when it bounced of Hayden's foot before Gilchrist caught it. The same technology showed that it was a no-ball but was not taken into account); Tendulkar at Adelaide 1999. Hansie Cronje in the 1999 World Cup semi; Even Paul Wiseman's (#356, the wicket that broke Lillee's record) was off the arm. Warne has had a GREAT run with umpires sometimes I wonder whether he gets a great run with the umpires because he is Test Cricket's leading Wicket-taker or whether he is Test Cricket's leading Wicket-taker because he gets such a great run with the umpires. Sure there will have been several instances of Warne thinking he had his man but was given not out, but we need to remember that the game is built on the foundation of giving batsmen the benefit of the doubt (therefore every great bowler would have grounds for claiming a raw deal over the course of their careers) but I have seen enough crciket to know that Warne seems to be the exception to the rule. It would not be difficult for those who have the resources at their disposal to compile a Video of all of Warne's dismissals and It may suprise many to find that the figure could be close to 200 that should NOT have been given out.

    For this reason, it is imperative that the use of technology is increased for judging dismissals. Even if somehow it is proven to be not 100% accurate, it will certainly be 95% accurate but more importantly 99.9% consistent.

    I don't subscribe to the argument that de-humanising umpire or turning them into 'robots' will diminish the game in anyway. It will in fact, improve it greatly and we need to remember that the game is all about the players anyway and NOT the umpires. Occasionally we do get an Umpire whose Charisma appeals to the Public (e.g Dickie Bird, Dave Shepherd and Bucknor in his earlier days - but definitely NOT Bowden) but the games is all about the great deeds of players and too often, in my view some great records are unfairly diminished whilst some others are over-inflated due to human error at wbest and occasionally bias at worst. We have the technology available to improve this aspect of the game. We SHOULD use it !

  • John on December 19, 2006, 2:09 GMT

    Do you remember what test cricket was like prior to Shane Warne? The art of spin bowling was a lost art and bowling attacks consisted of a four pronged pace attack. Say what you will about him, but he transformed the modern game for the better.

  • Chris on December 19, 2006, 1:20 GMT

    Talk of Warney not bowling so well in the sub-continent does not make him not a great spin bowler. Warney can take wickets at grounds that are considered spin bowlers graveyards. No-Hype, Warney doesn't select the opposition he plays against. Maybe England should select a team that can play spin well when they know Warney's going to be in the side. Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder in regard to the Australian team.

  • Karthik on December 18, 2006, 20:27 GMT

    Instead of putting the onus on the team to challenge an upires decision, why can we leave the umpire to make the ruling. The ICC should allow the umpire to consult with the 3rd umpire on any ruling. The ICC should give the match refree and the 3rd umpire the power to call the field umpire on the hand set and ask him to overturn any wrong ruling. It is ridiculous that the 3rd umpire and match refree will sit and watch like us the spectators and not be able to do antyhing. All is the name that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainities... sigh

  • Chris on December 18, 2006, 19:42 GMT

    McGrath gets most of the big wickets for Australia, a high proportion of Warne's victims are tailenders (actually the highest proportion among all bowlers with over 300 wickets). McGrath has caused the very best like Lara and Tendulkar difficulties - Warne just gets hammered against them. McGrath is far more consistent and much less reliant on conditions - he hardly ever has a bad series and can boast a good record against all teams (worst average 25), while Warne averages nearly 50 against India and 40 in West Indies. Also Warne is very dependant upon the presence of McGrath and averages a Kumbleesque 28 without him, while McGrath is relatively unaffected by the presence of Warne.

    Statistically the battle for the title of Australia's best bowler is a no contest and IMO those people that prefer Warne are simply following the typical ill educated media bandwagon.

  • ashish on December 18, 2006, 19:31 GMT

    well peter my knowledge abt warne and mark waugh involment in match fixing is only limited to the extent that they had made an written statement to the australian cricket board accepting that and thereon fines were levied on them. this report was known to the icc but was not only not made public but not even shared with other board. wonder that would have happpened with any sub continental player. as far as indian or the sub continent players are concerned no one has admittted anything and the bans are more to fulfill the public demand or a populalist measure rather than anything else. i would like to know on what basis ur saying that the indian players case is different. now concerning warne's performance or rather non- performance agaisnt india. well as far as my knowledge goes i think ur measured by wht u have done agaisnt the very best. if ur a spinner u have to prove urself agaisnt the best teams and the best players in adverse conditions and thts where warne fails miserably. if by taking the wickets of enlish batsmen and soth africans and kiwis and so on who cant play damn spin , if he becomes the greatest spinner of all time, sorry mate cant accept that. he will also be measured by what he has done agaisnt india especially in india because thats where the challenge lies and here he has failed. not for a moment saying that he is not a great spinner but the greatest spinner of all times, sorry he cant be. not only that u have to remember that aus. always had very gud pace bowling attack and he would come and replace them and thereofore continue the gud work done by their opening pace bowlers and he has failed there as well. as far as tendulkar is concerned, just do on thing for me, tell me the name of one batsmen who has done the following things: has been considered a child prodigy. has made his international debut at the age of 16 and has never been out of the side because of poor form. from the time he has been carrying the hopes of entire nation without any support. when i say there is no support, i mean there is no t a single bowler whom india can trust to claim 20 wickets oversees, there is no other batsmen who india can trust to even partner tendulkar when playing oversees. inspite of these and the fact more than 1 billion people in india consider him god and expect a hundred every innings, and he has delievered more often than not. more often not it has been he who has single handedly carried out the fight to the opposition without any support from the bowlers and batsmen. inspite of all that his consistency has been remarkable. no, dont take my words for it, see the records from his debut till 2001 and you would come to know, go and watch the innings that he has played in perth and sydney in 92 and then u wud probabaly understand what tendulkar is???? but probably u wont, coz tendulkar isnt just a cricketer to the indians, he is much more than that, but to understand this u have to be an indian.

  • Doug on December 18, 2006, 16:51 GMT

    @Dan: <>

    I've heard another Aussie supporter offer the same excuse. What a shame there isn't a clause in the Law that states when it is or isn't relevant for a batsman to be playing a shot, huh? Oh, wait... :headslap:

    Strauss has been traduced three times out of the last four - so much for it all evening out in the end!

  • Navin Pinto on December 18, 2006, 15:17 GMT

    i think ashish suffers from the "small penis" problem being from the subcontinent. Warne is the greatest bowler that ever lived. Murali is a javelin-thrower and Saqlain (lol-where is he these days??). I hope Warne tours India again so that he can set his record straight!

  • Greg on December 18, 2006, 13:27 GMT

    I think that Gideon Haigh is very hash on the current umpires. They have done a good over a long long period and in the heat and have made few errors. Justin may have forgotten some poor umpire decisions in England 2005. Example 4th test Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Flintoof should have been LBW Warne for 0 but went on to make 102. England went on to 477 total and set the match (by 3 wickets) and series to a 2-1 lead.

  • raj on December 18, 2006, 13:20 GMT

    and not a word on this bowler's shameful antics on the field - doenst he deserve atleast a ten match ban for his threatneing and disrespectful gestures to umpires over the years - not even a single reprimand has been issued to him in these years - Mr Heigh, had this been Muralitharan,w oudlnt you havementioned in passing something like "...always been controversial, what with blah blah, but today he showed his genius with the ball..". Ofcourse, this is what subtle racism is all about, isnt it? I dare you to publish this - if you dont, you would expose your character, wouldnt you?

  • Nicholas on December 18, 2006, 13:10 GMT

    On the topic of 3rd umpires for lbw decisions, I personally am not in favour of the move. It takes away the human element of the game, and as has been mentioned already, the timelss seconds when the umpire decides whether or not the batsman is out is when the adrenaline really pumps, why would you want to take that away.

    On the topic of Shane Warne, he is simply one of the best ever, no questions asked, and although England may be poor at spin bowling, they've had years to get it right, they should be good at it by now. Also, the bias against Warne is perhaps slightly hypocritical. As has been mentioned, I'm sure that Lara or Tendulkar have made most of their runs at home, yet their performances away are not as great. No one should question anyone's greatness, every player has their own strengths and weaknesses. Greatness is never questioned, only accepted.

  • ohwhatawarnederfulday on December 18, 2006, 12:43 GMT

    Really can't see a great deal of benefit in taking away the "human element" when it comes to umpiring decisions(excepting run outs/stumpings).As an expat Aussie in the UK (a non pay TV subscriber to boot) the joys of having a 3AM coffee & toast session listening to the cricket is hard to beat.The atmosphere that comes across is one thing but surely the best is the ability to enjoy what we all do...people talking about the game! The momentum changes,the flurry of boundaries,bringing on a bowling change to a nervous starter & of course the controversy of the last wicket..was it to high? was it going down leg? did he hit it? How many times have we seen someone given LB' on the strength of a few good shouts in previous overs when the ball in question is just that..questionable! Straight away tho we all start musing about the previous overs & the pressure built up..wonderful stuff !all taken away if we have to wait doe eyed for a computer to tell us how our emotions should fare... Warney's place at the table of cricketing greats is assured.For all the jealous naysayers I ask you to sit back & think about the HUGE impact this guy has had on the game in so many ways.Just like the income of professional golfers has gone crazy since tiger came into the game have a look at the income to the game for players etc since Warney took on a Nike deal & crickets pay TV'"second" coming (thanks for the first Kerry !)gave all the players & associations at the top level a whole new world of opportunity led by mr Charisma himself.. Will be up late listening to you take your 700th Warney!! As an Aussie & a Victorian to boot I am thrilled you will take your bow on home turf at the G'.We should all be thankful for what he's brought to the game,even the scandals made great reading!!

  • Tadhg on December 18, 2006, 12:21 GMT

    Umpires - can't catch an even break! I know there have been some incorrect decisions. But I'm against the option of "appealing" a decision. Why? This removes authority from the umpire, and places the players above the law. Honestly, do we expect a bowler who's falling through his follow through and a bunch of blokes who either aren't in line with the stumps (close fielders, slips) or can't see where the ball hit the batsman or occasionally the bat (keeper) to have a better idea of exactly what the ball did than the umpire (LBW's, some leg side catches)? At the end of the day, they have the best position in the world to make the decision. Sure, technology improves the viewing, and maybe "Hotspot" and Snicko would be handy for the umpires (I'm not keen on Hawkeye - especially for spinners, where it only gets a short view of what a delivery's doing after it pitches) might be useful for the umpires. But, as someone who watched the "Super Series" last year, where they trialled referral of any decision to the third umpire, and, like most who saw it, didn't like it, I still think that the technology doesn't add enough. Which is better to watch - Lee, Warne, Panesar, begging an umpire for a decision and watching them celebrate or stop and give a death stare, or watching them appeal, then wait, then have lost their excitement at the decision, when the 3rd umpire finally gives it? Cricket, like most sport, works best when it flows. Even when Warne waits at the top of his run, or when Pietersen spent a while gardening with Clark at the top of his run, the game is still flowing - it's just having the pace naturally varied by the protagonists. The 3rd umpire feels artificial for many things. I think we all need to look at the man who has "suffered" the most at the hands of these obviously diabolically-minded umpires - Andrew Strauss. He has every right to be angry. But I don't know that I've seen a better display of avoiding dissent. An "appeal the decision" system would only increase dissent, at least on field dissent. Strauss' behaviour is something that a lot of players should follow, his calmness and attitude could be looked at, perhaps, by another left-handed South African born opener... Not to mention a huge number of others who should realize that there's no point worrying about something you can't control. Oh, and, on Strauss, Pietersen, and Koertzen, Koertzen shouldn't be umpiring, because he's a South African, and so were Strauss and Pietersen... Just stirring the pot. I'd have no problem with an Ashes match umpired by Taufel and Bensen.

  • Lashan on December 18, 2006, 12:13 GMT

    Well I think bradmon of bowling would definilty be murali.Simply if u think of 5 wkt halls as a century and a 10 wkt hall as a double century he has 59 centuries and 19 double centuries which even makes bradmon small.But warne only have 36 hundreds and 10 double hundreds which is limited for the best batsmen in current era.This clearly show how succesful murali has been in wkt taking business

  • JimDavis on December 18, 2006, 12:04 GMT

    Am I right in believing that Mr Warne needs only 14 more wickets to be the first man to 200 ashes wickets? Maybe if he just fails to get there in Sydney, that could be the spur for him to keep going to 2009 :-)

  • PTB Doc on December 18, 2006, 11:02 GMT

    Look Warne's brilliant, we all know that. But I think that something has to be done about the overappealing. I think Rudi's been having a bit of a shocker for a while now, but incredibly he seemed to turn down Warne's appeals correctly yesterday, when I expected him to cave in and give one that only Warne and Ian Healy in the comm box believed was out. Didn't see the Harmy dismissal today (Ch 9 wouldn't show it in their news highlights), but from what the ABC boys were saying Rudi may have finally caved in just on lunch today. Also, I think Punter really needs to rip the ball out of Warne's hands and stop these long spells. Yesterday Ian Bell probably extended Warne's spell and threw away a century by trying to smash that garden gnome at short cover, only to see it reach up and do a great impersonation of Justin Langer. On the level of umpiring, please don't go down the way of replays etc. Shocking LBW's decisions give us all something to whinge about in the pub. We're barely getting 90 overs in 6 and a half hours at the moment, let's not give the players a further excuse to lose even more time. And I wouldn't trust that hawkeye thing as far as I could toss the joint smoking chimp they get to operate it. Seems to come up with some absolute "magic bullets" from time to time, and if they seriously think that thing can predict or extrapolate a swinging delivery as it slows down I'll pick up the tab on the chimp's next load of ganji.

  • Bazza on December 18, 2006, 10:38 GMT

    My sincere apologies to Kumble, he, of course averages 23 in home tests but 40 in Australia where Warne averages 26. by this measure he is of course a more adaptable bowler than Murali with his 63 average in Australia. Of course none of us would rank Kumble a better bowler than Murali, would we? Which just goes to prove that raw figures alone cannot measure the worth of a bowler. Warne was ranked as one of the 5 cricketers of the century for the complete package and the complete package is incomparable! He is simply the best and the father of modern spin bowling.

  • bazza on December 18, 2006, 10:25 GMT

    Warne not the grestest spinner of all time? How do we compare? Kartlkeya mentions Saqlain and Murali as possible contenders?

    The measure of a bowler is how he performs, not only at home, and home on the sub continent has often meant pitches prepared for home bowlers, but more importantly away. The relative career averages for these three upto current tests sand as follows Home Warne 26, Saqlain 29, Murali 19 Away Warne 25, Saqlain 30, Murali 24

    In Australia Warne 26, Saqlain 34, Murali 63

    In Pakisatan Warne 28, Saqlain 29

    In Sri Lanka

    Warne 20, Murali 19

    By any measure Warne has shwn his greatness by his ability to take wickets better than aby other spin bowler anywhere in the world.

    As an inside I think Indian spin bowlere would be more than happy with an average of 40 in tests in India. Kumble , a very good spinner can only average 36 in tests in Indai so how can you say warne has failed???

    By the way Warne has only played 3 tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe combined whilst murali has racked up 20 for nearly 100 of his tally of wickets. Iti s only logical to assume that Warne would have amother 90 or so in the bag if he had this opportunity and we would be looking for his 800th in Melbourne.

  • andrew on December 18, 2006, 10:18 GMT

    to YG. don't forget the full toss last year from brett lee that hit KP right in front of middle stump and didn't get given cause the umpire didn't see it.

  • Rhino on December 18, 2006, 9:56 GMT

    OK Ashish and his fellow idiots - let's get one thing straight here and now - if you're going to judge Warne as a bowler, leave his off-field indiscretions out of the equation. He never applied for the position of Pope or that of Mother Teresa's successor - he's a cricketer - and without a shadow of a doubt, the best spin bowler in history - and it's daylight second. Whether you look at it from a statistical point of view, or from a matchwinner perspective, Warne comes up trumps on both counts. Great point about Tendulkar, Pete - couldn't agree more. And you can add this to the equation Ashish. If you're going to denigrate Warne for supposedly underperforming on subcontinental dust-bowl wickets, you can apply the same judgement to Tendulkar. How often does he really shine on English, South African, Australian or New Zealand wickets? And as Pete so rightly pointed out - how many matches has he won for India outside of India? Now Ashish, if all that sounds like rubbish to you - how do you think your anti-Warne crap sounds? I think you've been SMOKING 'ashish...

  • JIm on December 18, 2006, 9:25 GMT

    Re the umpiring question. If you support introducing more technology (personally I don't), the initiative with greatest impact would be to apply Hawkeye or some similar system to all LBW shouts. Advantages: 1. LBW decisions generate a greater number of contentious umpiring decisions than other decisions. Using Hawkeye would remove the most frequent source of biased/incompetent accusations. 2. Even if you don't believe Hawkeye gets it right all the time, at least decisions would be consistent for all batsmen. 3. No on-field histrionics from bowlers. 4. No interruption to natural flow of game (as would happen under an appeals system, or does happen today with a third umpire referral). Hawkeye verdicts are near-instantaneous.

  • Dan on December 18, 2006, 9:16 GMT

    Australia faces the imminent retirement of two of cricket's all-time great players, namely Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne. Both have revolutionised their craft, Gillie with the bat and Warne with his leg-spin. Both are mercurial on their day and are irreplaceable. Cricket, and not just Aussie cricket, should truly appreciate what wonderfully gifted players they are. On the subject of umpiring, yes there have been some mistakes in this series. But let's not call Rudi's decision to raise the finger to Strauss in the second dig in Perth an error. Any player who does not offer a shot deserves no benefit of the doubt.

  • Peter on December 18, 2006, 9:05 GMT

    Ashish, you're a dill. You know full well that Warne & Mark Waugh weren't involved in "match fixing" (and if they were, tell us which match) - same can't be said of Azzarudin and some others from the sub-continent though huh?

    And to try and bring Warne down and question his statistics because of isolated performances on the sub-continent shows a bias that you probably wouldn't be happy to have applied to say...Sachin Tendulkar. Does he play the big innings when they are really needed? Has he helped India win Test matches outside of India? How often? Should we question his greatness then? Of course not....

  • YG on December 18, 2006, 8:48 GMT

    Umpiring decisions?

    this series has been excellent by normal standards that we see during a test series. No big blunders except the mcgrath dismissal.

    The last series did have massive blunders - martyn twice and katich once and another massive nick with a huge noise (an englishman actually reminded me of that the other day when talking about koertzen), that didn't get given off trescothick i think. A nick so big the fielders only half appealed, and then stood there in total shock when it was given not out.

    The ones that england complain about, like the strauss ones are still of the 50/50 type, especially the two at perth.

    For every one of those 50/50 ones against england (of which there are only a few), there's been a 50/50 one where an australian batsman was given out (eg. ponting and lee in the first innings of this test), or a bowler denied a wicket (warne lbw to cook very early on day 4). There were some in the earlier tests too.

  • Ross on December 18, 2006, 8:37 GMT

    Yes, there have been some unfortunate decisions, but there should be no guilt associated with them. I remember some equally questionable decisions in England last year that impacted the Australian batsmen - Damien Martyn being particularly unlucky. And how could Glen McGrath have been out in the first innings of the Perth when he is caught off his shoulder. He was just settling in for a big one. The general message? The decisions all even out in the end.

  • hari singh on December 18, 2006, 8:27 GMT

    Shane Warne is a man of many parts. A player of cricket, but not just of cricket. As the years have gone by, his cricket has been increasingly tinged with theatre by the cricketing gods. He is part magic and part demolition. For once, when he comes on to bowl, the game starts moving as he wants it move. And that is something that only the naturals among this side geniuses can accomplish.

    The measured movement to the crease, the steely glint in the eye, the zinc that melts in blistering heat, they all combine in his script as he toils for a day with little rewards and plenty of magic.

    Because in the great man's script Perth will forever be his toil, his sweat powering the aussies ahead, and Melbourne will be his glory.

    700 and 707. Bring them on Warny. What would we do, when he leaves the Oval in 2009 ? But that's a story for another day.

  • David Fine on December 18, 2006, 8:15 GMT

    What is really remarkable is Warne has the energy to yell, query and plead for everything. All his deliveries come tipped with one called The Chatter. When and if he retires, a career as a barrister for the defence should appeal to the Clarence Darrow of the crease. The umpire is usually unmoved. Like the Little Britain "Computer says no." "Rudi Koertzen says no." But Warnie is never dissuaded.

  • Shawry on December 18, 2006, 8:13 GMT

    Justin, your idea is one that has, in one form or another, been mulled over in a number of forums for some time, though nothing seems to be done. The oft quoted fear that it will reduce umpires to nought more than a couple of hat-racks. The question is, of course, when to introduce it. To do so this series and eliminate the mistakes would have been lacking in true justice, given that England only won the Ashes last year on the back of repeated umpiring mistakes, most notably and no less seriously impacting on the tour of Damian Martyn in '05 than they did on Strauss in '06. Perhaps once each pairing of teams are squared away for series results, the playing field would be level enough to introduce it. It certainly would allow a greater shine to victories such as this, and respectability and acceptance to losses when they occur.

  • Kartikeya on December 18, 2006, 8:12 GMT

    The question of Warne's greatness has often intrigued me. Coming as i do from India, where Warne has been played more easily than many of his spin bowling contemporaries (Murali and Saqlain come to mind immediatly), i am naturally sceptical as to whether Warne actually lives up to his "Wisden Cricketer of the Century" tag. I mean, if you think about it, there are fewer than 25 active, established leg spinners in the whole world of first class cricket today.

    There was a comment i read in Nasser Hussein's autobiography, to the effect that English batsmen are simply not good players of spin bowling. Which begs the question - most of Warne's wickets have come against sides which have been traditional poor players of spin bowling. His bowling average is therefore inflated. The number of wickets he has is inflated to.... hes played 140 tests in a matter of 13-14 years, Fred Trueman played 20 years for 67, Sobers played 20 years for 93.

    So in my humble opinion, is Warne a great bowler? Yes, definitely. Is he a great competitor? Yes, definitely. However, is he the Bradman of spin bowling? In my opinion, no. Not any more than Hayden is the Bradman of opening batting. Is he good enough to be one of wisden's 5 cricketers of the century? definitely not. If anything, and i realise im writing this on wisden cricinfo's website, the selection of Warne ahead of someone like Imran Khan or Frank Worrell or Sunil Gavaskar - whose contribution to world cricket was that they delivered 3 more world class cricket teams apart from being magnificient cricketers, reduces Wisdens credibility as the definitive cricket publication.

    I agree that Warne's standing lies in the relative uniqueness of his art, and in his unquestionable greatness as a spin bowler. Compare someone like Warne, with someone like McGrath. Id offer to you that McGrath is the greater bowler. Warne is a great bowler too..... but he does not belong amongst Wisden's 5 cricketers of the 20th century any more than someone like Botham does.

  • Bob on December 18, 2006, 7:59 GMT

    I can bowl better than Warne, and thats an understatement!

  • Matt on December 18, 2006, 7:50 GMT

    Justin - its not your idea, its Ian Chappell's. Otherwise a good point and worth considering.

  • Lashan on December 18, 2006, 7:38 GMT

    Well this is a great race between the two greates bowlers in the hitory to the top of highest wicket takers list.I think in the last couple of years Warne and Murali have been piling on the wickets at an amasing rate we have no idea this race will end.But one thing for sure.We have been so lucky to see the two greatest bowlers in the gane operating at same time at their best.I hope they continue to do so long as possible.Any one have any prediction to the wickets they get.I say Muali will lead at the end with nearly 1000wkts

  • Nigel on December 18, 2006, 7:28 GMT

    Who is responsible for this great Australian team? much credit must go to the man who thinks outside the square - boot camps and all. John Buchanan is the architect of such a team. He deserves a lot of praise. He will be sorely missed when he reires in 2007.

  • sridhar on December 18, 2006, 7:15 GMT

    I think Warne is one of the finest things to have happened not only to Australian cricket but to world cricket as well.What a bowler!He has given so much pleasure to viewers like me that I feel that he will leave a void in world cricket whenever he decides to retire.Yes the umpiring will always be an issue.My only comment is that the umpiring this time around has not hurt England as much as the umpiring hurt Australia in England when they last met.

  • ashish on December 18, 2006, 7:10 GMT

    well warne is a great bowler, his wickets and his consistency over the years have are a proff of that. but is he that great a bowler to be said as the greatest spinner of all times. the answer is NO. Lets see this from an australian point of view only. according to aussies, anyone who jasnt performed against them is not at all good, no matter what he has achieved else where, the case in point is rahul dravid of india, he falied in aus. in 1999, an dwhen he went to aus. doing very well still he was not accepted as a world class player, it was only after that series when he played one of the greatest innings of all times, that he was given his due recognotion. so why not the same test for warne. well if we apply the same test for warne , he fails and in fact fails miseraly. if you are a spinner, the biggest test for you is npwling to the indians especially in india where even though the pitches are helpful its next to impossible to contain the indian batsmen forget about bowling them out, and here warne comes a cropper. he has been carted, destroyed not only by the test batsmen of the calibre of sehwag, tendulkar, dravid and of course lakhsman, in fact lakhman have made warne look like even worse than a club spinner in india, even the state team batsmen have gone after warne succesfully, and the fact is that warne has toured india now thrice and every time the same treatment has been given to him, and therefore he fails this acid test miserably. therefore i wonder why he is considered the grestest spinner of all times. would a sub continent player who would have been in the same circumstance been given the same kind of accolade, definately no and above all he is a match fixer. he in fact should have been given a life ban along with mark waugh for fixing the match. if india's cricketers have been given life bans then why not whote players. would the forgein press would have given same kind of treatment to a player from the sub continent, the answer is no. so why to warne. there are some very serious question involved and ill be glad if some one can answer them.

  • ou are on December 18, 2006, 7:05 GMT

    He may go down in history as one of the greats but had he behaved himself off the field, he could well have been one of the great captians as well as he has a great cricket mind to.

  • Richard on December 18, 2006, 6:48 GMT

    Justin, I think your idea proves you know nothing much at all about the appeal of cricket.

    Taking the drama out of waiting those angonisingly slow micro-seconds for the umpire to raise an arm or shake a head is, well, the road to oblivion. Waiting for an umpire to make a decision is when time stands still. Where else can you get that? Whether he gets it right 100% of the time is not an issue. No person gets anything right all the time in whatever it is that they do. Even when it comes to interpreting whether a bowler bowls with a bent arm or not...

    See what happens when you introduce technology?!

  • Jag on December 18, 2006, 6:45 GMT

    Well, how it must hurt to be an English cricketer/supporter. For all you want to say about selection and lead up games, they tried their bloody damndest, from never-never to maybe-maybe to could-it-be?..to all-over-now-to-BertsFamilyFued...every test match had signs of hope, but Australia won all the moments that mattered..and that's Cricket...that Aus won these tight moments was really a sign of their hunger, born from Australian sporting supremacy (plan, execute, expect, celebrate or dissapoint but never with distraction or acrimony).

    nb Gid - tried very hard to refrain from rants that this is a victory for aussie spirit, weet-bix, qantas businessclass lounges etc etc...and i did it, nearly.

  • Peter on December 18, 2006, 6:45 GMT

    Gideon - You are right that the umpires performance should be up for scrutiny, but referring to every tight call that went against England as a poor decision, and then conviently not mentioning any bad decisions that went the other way is hardly balanced journalism. Thanks for the insight into the sportsmanship between the two teams, it's not something that gets reported too often...

    Justin -

    Hate having to rip into another Aussie, but to suggest that the current series has "been seriously damaged" by bad umpiring, or to infer that we haven't won "squarely" is ridiculous. The 2005 Ashes series suffered from much worse umpiring blunders, but even then, no-one tried to claim that England hadn't won fair & square. Australia have fully deserved the 3-0 result... Hold your head high mate!

  • K S Ramachandran on December 18, 2006, 6:42 GMT

    Before going to the stage of the affected team being allowed to appeal, I would suggeat that the field umpire should be instructed by the ICC to refer all close cases to the third umpire and abide by his decision. They are already doing it in cases of runout claims!

  • K S Ramachandran on December 18, 2006, 6:42 GMT

    Before going to the stage of the affected team being allowed to appeal, I would suggeat that the field umpire should be instructed by the ICC to refer all close cases to the third umpire and abide by his decision. They are already doing it in cases of runout claims!

  • Kiran on December 18, 2006, 6:38 GMT

    Capital suggestion, Justin! Let me also add that there should be a penalty if a team loses any of its appeals to the 3rd umpire, like losing one over if it is one-day cricket, for example. That will deter misuse. What I would also like to suggest is having a 3rd on-field umpire to judge over-stepping calls by the bowler. I am a certified umpire at some level and have found it rather difficult to shift the focus from the popping crease to judging if the ball landed outside the leg-stump (for lbw calls) in a fraction of a second. Moreover, the best position to judge overstepping calls is from a position along the popping crease. There is an inevitable parallax error from the normal umpire's position, making it difficult to make overstepping calls correctly, especially if a bowler doesn't land his front heal while releasing the ball. Sometimes, there is not enough time for an umpire to run into the correct position for judging a run-out call; my suggestion would help there also.

  • Richard on December 18, 2006, 6:37 GMT

    Justin, I think your idea proves you know nothing much at all about the beauty of cricket.

  • bono-fan on December 18, 2006, 6:31 GMT

    A congratulations from Pigeon ? What was all the talk about aussies going soft on opposition. Great gesture on his part. As far as umpiring is concerned, i would like to mention the most underrated but pehraps the 2nd most consistent umpire in world cricket right now is Aleem Dar. I dont see a point why anybody doesnt mention him in the same breath as Tafuel, Bucknor or those good umpires standing in test matches of late. I think he has done a TREMENDOUS job of late and has to be the 2nd best umpire in the world at this very moment. I have seen Mark benson make a few mistakes of late. Aleem dar deserves much more accolades than he recieves now. Twice being in the running to for Umpire of the year is no mean achievement in this cut throat world.

    Apart from him, Daryl harper had a faboulous series recently in Pakistan and is continuing is astonishing work in South Africa now. These three umpires i believe are top of the line at the moment.

  • no-hype on December 18, 2006, 6:21 GMT

    The english press needs to stop obsessing about warne as if he is the 2nd coming of jesus. He is definitely a great bowler and lot of fun to watch, but please stop making a god out of him for his performances against an England team, which apart from KP has no real world class batsman of spin. How well does warne do against tendulkar or lara? The gold standard for batting against spin. check out.... 1st see the stats and then go and see the videos. your magician will look quite ordinary. you dont even have to go that far..... look how KP handled warne thus far in the series. An analogy of warne's "magic" against inept players of spin is a pro-cricketer making club grade batsmen look silly. That's how pathetic english team is against spin. and dont get me started on aussie cricketers' magnanimity. We all know how magnanimous they were before cricket australia stepped in. Itz like bullies who put up a show when their parents/teachers discipline them. For every act of magnanimity off the field that you say they display I will find double the number of unsportsmanlike behaviour on the field and i am sure i can find a good number of events off-field too where these same aussies (mcgrath and co) have behaved disgracefully.

  • Mr. Natural on December 18, 2006, 6:20 GMT

    Let's not forget how hopeless Flintoff has proven as a Captain in the field. I have been more than surpised at the lack of criticsim for his field placings and overall tactics. Is he unable to be criticised? The Ashes have been taken away from the English like candy from a baby, and there still seems to be no focus on the poor-at-many-times sole Captain tactics. Can someone please explain?

  • Chrisso on December 18, 2006, 6:15 GMT

    Warney got his just deserves today though, 4-fa and he proved that he's not only a flamboyant cricketer, but those who didn't believe have seen how hard he goes at it, and sweats away at his job. Well done the aussies, the ashes are home till next time!

  • Alaric on December 18, 2006, 6:09 GMT

    I like the idea of limited "challenges" or "appeals" to the 3rd umpire, but would suggest that they be few in number (say three per team per match) but that they not be "used up" unless the challenge is found to be incorrect. A challenge could be used when batting or bowling. It would need to be made BEFORE any replay of the decision is shown on TV or a big screen at the ground (may have to have a clause in the TV rights contract to allow a reasonable delay here). The challenge could result in one of three outcomes: (1) Original decision is clearly incorrect - decision is reversed, challenge is not used up; (2) Original decision is clearly correct - decision stands, challenge is used; or (3) Replay is inconclusive - decision stands (notwithstanding doubt introduced) but challenge is not used up. The idea is that challenges will only be used when the player/team is almost certain that the umpire has got it wrong - otherwise they risk losing one of their challenges. The occasional close LBW will still end up going the wrong way, but I don't have a problem with that. However I'd expect most poor decisions on edges to be reversed.

    A bonus effect is that I think this would eliminate some of the more disingenuous appeals. The Australians regularly appeal for bat-pad decisions that clearly went nowhere near the bat. The benefits of doing so will be much reduced if every time they happen to hoodwink the umpire, the batsman (who will know if he hit it) can challenge. "Successful" fraudulent appeals could actually have a negative effect - annoying the umpire who you make look a fool becuase he gets reversed.

    Also on the issue of Taufel and Benson... I like the idea of neutral umpires, but surely instead of two neutrals you could have one from each country for some matches? I don't believe umpires are generally biased, but surely this removes the perception just as effectively as the present system, while allowing Benson to umpire a Lords Test and Taufel a Boxing Day one?

  • poontang1 on December 18, 2006, 6:08 GMT

    Yes, Warne is a master. I agree with McGrath when he says that Warne deserves some of the credit for his late wickets. Its all about sustained pressure at this level, and dare i say that the poms have to a certain extent played very well. As far as Rudi and his decisions go, they were a little average but when you get one chance to make a decision you trust your instincts, at first sight Strauss looked out. Please don't bring the replays into it.

  • Luke on December 18, 2006, 6:05 GMT

    The neutral umpire system robs the best umpires of officating in the best matches (eg. Taufel and Benson in the Ashes). Plus how is a subcontinent umpire going to know if a ball will pass over the stumps or not in Perth or Brisbane? A far more sensible, fair and in-the-spirit-of-the-game approach would be to have one umpire from the host nation and one from the visiting nation. It would foster understanding; the host umpire could explain local conditions to his counterpart and it would stil be fair to all parties, INCLUDING the umpires.

  • Marc on December 18, 2006, 6:02 GMT

    Rudi Koertzen has been one of the most respected, and least controversial umpires in the game for years. I honestly think McGraths dismissal had no impact on the test anyway. This dig at him, and promotion of various other umpires, has spoilt an otherwise entertaining article. I suspect the author was a huge fan of Daryl Hair, who was guilty of numerous bad calls against certain teams only.

  • Craig Warnes on December 18, 2006, 5:53 GMT

    Hi Justin

    I've heard that idea bandied around ever since third umpires came into the game. It's not without merit but do we really want to have the game (any game in fact) adjudicated by robots?

    Cricket is so heavily weighed in favour of the batsman now and punters moan and complaing about the predicability of games. Look at the recent ICC Champions Trophy. So many teams were found out with poor technique, yet all the complaints were about the pitches.

    Most decisions, such as LBW's, caught behinds or bat pads, if referred to the third umpire would be given in favour of the batsman due to their being sufficient doubt. Most replays shown after an umpire gives a decision invariably show that perhaps the umpire could have give the player not out.

    I'm all for keeping things as they are and perhaps it would be a better idea for the ICC to start training and encouraging ex-players to wear the black and white? There should be some incentive and better training - that will give us umpires of the standard of Taufel and Benson et al, rather than applying the strict word of the law such as replays would bring about.

    Food for thought anyways. Cheers

  • Ram on December 18, 2006, 5:47 GMT

    I agree with Justin.I am writing this from United States where during American Football games the coaches are allowed thrice in each half to challenge the on-field decision.The TV referee then makes the call.If the challenger wins the appeal,he is happy.If he loses the appeal he is charged a timeout.Here we can add say 5 runs towards extra or substract depending upon TV umpire's decision.

  • Chula on December 18, 2006, 5:46 GMT

    Talk about Warne's perseverance and Koertzen's bad umpiring is ridiculous - anyone who saw the 4th day's play would know that Warne was definitely overappealing.. none of the appeals that Koertzen turned down were out. Still, Warne even had a go at him.. I would be very surprised if he isn't reprimanded - or maybe I shouldn't be.. hint hint.

    Saying Simon Taufel is a better pick doesn't make a good argument. First off, he's Australian so he can't umpire in the Ashes, and just because he's the best umpire in the world doesn't mean he has to umpire in the Ashes - test matches are test matches. Anyway, he made some bad calls in the NZ vs SL 2nd test match.

  • Ian Munro on December 18, 2006, 4:10 GMT

    Here I am in China and I can't get the ABC on short wave now. It died. Glad I fond this site, Wish I'd found it earlier. Not as good as watching or listening but you have to take what you can get here. Thanks heaps for a great web site Yin An

  • Justin on December 18, 2006, 1:52 GMT

    On the question of erroneous decisions by umpires(who are only human)with the advantage of modern technology, why cannot the ICC introduce a rule that would allow a team a maximum of 3 appeals to the third umpire, each innings. They (ICC)alllow the umpires reference to the 3r ump.for close boundary calls when the crucial decisions that have such an impact to the end result is ignored. I consider this appaling. This current Ashes series has been seriously damaged because of this, and, it is pretty obvious the Poms have been at the receiving end unfortunately. I am an Aussie supporter, but want us to win squarely. Can one of you esteemed writers do something about this? I would also like to know what you think of this idea of mine? Thank you Regards, Justin

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  • Justin on December 18, 2006, 1:52 GMT

    On the question of erroneous decisions by umpires(who are only human)with the advantage of modern technology, why cannot the ICC introduce a rule that would allow a team a maximum of 3 appeals to the third umpire, each innings. They (ICC)alllow the umpires reference to the 3r ump.for close boundary calls when the crucial decisions that have such an impact to the end result is ignored. I consider this appaling. This current Ashes series has been seriously damaged because of this, and, it is pretty obvious the Poms have been at the receiving end unfortunately. I am an Aussie supporter, but want us to win squarely. Can one of you esteemed writers do something about this? I would also like to know what you think of this idea of mine? Thank you Regards, Justin

  • Ian Munro on December 18, 2006, 4:10 GMT

    Here I am in China and I can't get the ABC on short wave now. It died. Glad I fond this site, Wish I'd found it earlier. Not as good as watching or listening but you have to take what you can get here. Thanks heaps for a great web site Yin An

  • Chula on December 18, 2006, 5:46 GMT

    Talk about Warne's perseverance and Koertzen's bad umpiring is ridiculous - anyone who saw the 4th day's play would know that Warne was definitely overappealing.. none of the appeals that Koertzen turned down were out. Still, Warne even had a go at him.. I would be very surprised if he isn't reprimanded - or maybe I shouldn't be.. hint hint.

    Saying Simon Taufel is a better pick doesn't make a good argument. First off, he's Australian so he can't umpire in the Ashes, and just because he's the best umpire in the world doesn't mean he has to umpire in the Ashes - test matches are test matches. Anyway, he made some bad calls in the NZ vs SL 2nd test match.

  • Ram on December 18, 2006, 5:47 GMT

    I agree with Justin.I am writing this from United States where during American Football games the coaches are allowed thrice in each half to challenge the on-field decision.The TV referee then makes the call.If the challenger wins the appeal,he is happy.If he loses the appeal he is charged a timeout.Here we can add say 5 runs towards extra or substract depending upon TV umpire's decision.

  • Craig Warnes on December 18, 2006, 5:53 GMT

    Hi Justin

    I've heard that idea bandied around ever since third umpires came into the game. It's not without merit but do we really want to have the game (any game in fact) adjudicated by robots?

    Cricket is so heavily weighed in favour of the batsman now and punters moan and complaing about the predicability of games. Look at the recent ICC Champions Trophy. So many teams were found out with poor technique, yet all the complaints were about the pitches.

    Most decisions, such as LBW's, caught behinds or bat pads, if referred to the third umpire would be given in favour of the batsman due to their being sufficient doubt. Most replays shown after an umpire gives a decision invariably show that perhaps the umpire could have give the player not out.

    I'm all for keeping things as they are and perhaps it would be a better idea for the ICC to start training and encouraging ex-players to wear the black and white? There should be some incentive and better training - that will give us umpires of the standard of Taufel and Benson et al, rather than applying the strict word of the law such as replays would bring about.

    Food for thought anyways. Cheers

  • Marc on December 18, 2006, 6:02 GMT

    Rudi Koertzen has been one of the most respected, and least controversial umpires in the game for years. I honestly think McGraths dismissal had no impact on the test anyway. This dig at him, and promotion of various other umpires, has spoilt an otherwise entertaining article. I suspect the author was a huge fan of Daryl Hair, who was guilty of numerous bad calls against certain teams only.

  • Luke on December 18, 2006, 6:05 GMT

    The neutral umpire system robs the best umpires of officating in the best matches (eg. Taufel and Benson in the Ashes). Plus how is a subcontinent umpire going to know if a ball will pass over the stumps or not in Perth or Brisbane? A far more sensible, fair and in-the-spirit-of-the-game approach would be to have one umpire from the host nation and one from the visiting nation. It would foster understanding; the host umpire could explain local conditions to his counterpart and it would stil be fair to all parties, INCLUDING the umpires.

  • poontang1 on December 18, 2006, 6:08 GMT

    Yes, Warne is a master. I agree with McGrath when he says that Warne deserves some of the credit for his late wickets. Its all about sustained pressure at this level, and dare i say that the poms have to a certain extent played very well. As far as Rudi and his decisions go, they were a little average but when you get one chance to make a decision you trust your instincts, at first sight Strauss looked out. Please don't bring the replays into it.

  • Alaric on December 18, 2006, 6:09 GMT

    I like the idea of limited "challenges" or "appeals" to the 3rd umpire, but would suggest that they be few in number (say three per team per match) but that they not be "used up" unless the challenge is found to be incorrect. A challenge could be used when batting or bowling. It would need to be made BEFORE any replay of the decision is shown on TV or a big screen at the ground (may have to have a clause in the TV rights contract to allow a reasonable delay here). The challenge could result in one of three outcomes: (1) Original decision is clearly incorrect - decision is reversed, challenge is not used up; (2) Original decision is clearly correct - decision stands, challenge is used; or (3) Replay is inconclusive - decision stands (notwithstanding doubt introduced) but challenge is not used up. The idea is that challenges will only be used when the player/team is almost certain that the umpire has got it wrong - otherwise they risk losing one of their challenges. The occasional close LBW will still end up going the wrong way, but I don't have a problem with that. However I'd expect most poor decisions on edges to be reversed.

    A bonus effect is that I think this would eliminate some of the more disingenuous appeals. The Australians regularly appeal for bat-pad decisions that clearly went nowhere near the bat. The benefits of doing so will be much reduced if every time they happen to hoodwink the umpire, the batsman (who will know if he hit it) can challenge. "Successful" fraudulent appeals could actually have a negative effect - annoying the umpire who you make look a fool becuase he gets reversed.

    Also on the issue of Taufel and Benson... I like the idea of neutral umpires, but surely instead of two neutrals you could have one from each country for some matches? I don't believe umpires are generally biased, but surely this removes the perception just as effectively as the present system, while allowing Benson to umpire a Lords Test and Taufel a Boxing Day one?

  • Chrisso on December 18, 2006, 6:15 GMT

    Warney got his just deserves today though, 4-fa and he proved that he's not only a flamboyant cricketer, but those who didn't believe have seen how hard he goes at it, and sweats away at his job. Well done the aussies, the ashes are home till next time!