Fourth Test, Melbourne December 26, 2006

Everest and K2

I was at the Melbourne Test just over 30 years ago when Lance Gibbs broke Fred Trueman’s record of 307
84

Before the day’s play, there was a certain amount of press-box debate not merely about Shane Warne’s chance of a 700th wicket, but of his chance of a 706th. Warne took six wickets in last year’s Super Test. What might happen were that pretty daft and pointless game to have its Test status revoked? It can happen. After all, Wisden gave Alan Jones a Test cap for playing against the Rest of the World in 1970 only to confiscate it later.

Some press box talking points last longer than others: this one seems to have been more or less disposed of by today’s events. Unless, of course, it’s decided that the entitlement to top level status of Tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe should be reviewed. In which case Warne would have rather less to lose than Muttiah Muralitharan: 17 wickets versus 137. But however you count it, 700 is a stupendous quantity of Test wickets. I was at the Melbourne Test just over 30 years ago when Lance Gibbs broke Fred Trueman’s record of 307. It seemed like the scaling of Everest. Now we have a new Everest, and Murali’s K2.

Both Warne and Murali, of course, are slow bowlers: hard yakka at the best of times. ‘Bowling spin can be a lonely business,’ Warne observes in his new book. ‘A lot of the time you are the only spinner in the team.’ That being so, however, where a seam bowler on an overcast day or faced with a lush wicket might have to split the overs three ways, a spinner usually faces little competition for overs when conditions are favourable. So while we’ll probably continue fetishising the new ball, it’s likely that our major long-distance wicket takers will be those who use the old.

Some commenters objected to this blog’s criticisms of Rudi Koertzen during the Perth Test. Mind you, when you’ve been branded an English sycophant and an Australian jingoist, you tend to take comments with a grain of salt; nor did Koertzen do much today to quiet my mind. By my reckoning, he rejected five good lbw shouts: Collingwood when he was 0 and 6, to Clark; Panesar when he was 4, to Warne; Hayden when he was 6 and 9, to Hoggard. Worse, he was not consistent. Having added a foot to the height of the stumps in Perth, he seemed here to have shrunk them by a foot. To say that ‘umpires are only human’ is a fatuity: so are cricketers, and they are understood to pass in and out of form, and be subject to promotion and demotion. Koertzen is, to me, out of form as an umpire.

Let us, though, be constructive. How do umpires practice? How do umpires find their form? We’re apt to complain that international players are expected to produce their best at the drop of a helmet. But what about our decision makers? Once an official joins the Elite Panel, he leaves first-class umpiring behind, which countries protect for the encouragement of their own domestic officials. There is no opportunity to rehearse one’s skills in a less fraught environment; no chance to test one’s concentration over standard days' play. Is it possible, then, that the process devised to eliminate the impression of bias in umpiring has had the effect of corroding competence?

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Maheshkumar M on January 8, 2007, 5:52 GMT

    Both McGrath and Warne did not have to bowl against (arguably) the greatest team ever i.e. their own. That 'handicap' apart (it is not their fault), they have been truly great bowlers.

    But which one is better? Pace and spin may be apples and oranges, but comparing the two from the same orchard may just be a worthwhile thing to do.

    McGrath is clearly the unconquered hero. Only against SouthAfrica, his strike rate (no of balls per wicket) is high at 72 and wickets per match low at 3.35, but his economy against the country is a cool 2.29, below his career economy of 2.49.

    Warne's strike rate against India is a high 91 compared to his career rate of 57, the closest being South Africa at 63. He has taken only 3.07 Indian wickets per match, much below his career avg of 4.88. And you have his economy rate against India struggling at 3.10 (higher than his career avg of 2.65).

    That explains it all. McGrath, the Mr Clinical par excellence wins hands down.

  • Julie on January 5, 2007, 4:54 GMT

    Of course us "Aussie Yobs" think Warne's the best - we crowded around our televisions today and wept at his departure. If one man could win a test series Australia would never have lost the 'urn' in 2005 based on Warne's performance. Adelaide this series he demonstrated yet again why he is, and will always be grearded as the best.

    No-one expects anyone from Sri Lanka to agree with this - it's always conspiracies and attacks on Murali. Murali's a good bowler and everyone knows he'll surpass Warne in the wicket taking stakes, but does he inspire the whole nation the way that Warne has inspired Australia? It's not just Aussies singing the praises of Warne, but cricket loving people from all over the world.

    Sure, he's f&$ked up every now and then, but he's played, he's been passionate about the game he so obviously loves. His gamesmanship (yes, that is what I believe sledging to be) is superb and I've thoroughly enjoyed all the banter that goes on in every series I've watched him play in.

    I'm sad today, because, we all know, we'll never see the likes of him again.

  • woppa on January 2, 2007, 14:11 GMT

    I'm really disappointed at the remarks regarding Australians as yobs and racists on this site. Drop the comments about racism & politics.

    It's a game boys & I love it. Be passionate, yes, but take it easy please & lighten up.

    No more comments about being an Aussie yob etc otherwise people will start answering back in the same fashion.

  • z on January 1, 2007, 14:58 GMT

    If the fast bowlers only get an advantage of 1-2km/hr by straightening their arm, wouldn't it make more sense for them to bowl 1-2km/hr slower. Labelling McGrath and Pollock as chuckers is no more cruel than labelling Murali a chucker. Murali has been called by Darrell Hair (Aus), Tony McQuillan (Aus) and Ross Emerson (Aus). The only claim to fame that McQuillan and Emerson have is for calling Murali for chucking. Darrell Hair has been embroiled in controversy throughout his umpiring career. He, along with Doctrove, umpired in the first Test match ever to have been forfeited. He has been labelled as biased by several players from the sub-continent. Little wonder that Murali is reluctant to tour Australia as the only umpires to have a problem with his action have been Australians.

  • z on January 1, 2007, 12:38 GMT

    I believe that the most recent Australian to be subject to testing was Brett Lee having been reported for having a suspect action in 2000 in two matches against New Zealand (admittedly early in his career). He was subsequently cleared by Dennis Lillee (notably a former Australian player - if Murali was cleared by a Sri Lankan all sorts of accusations would be raised about bias). Murali has been cleared on every occasion as well. He did straighten his arm to some extent, but the speed of his arm was as fast as that of many pace bowlers according to scientists involved. Was this against the spirit of the law? Statistics indicate that Murali has a better average, strike rate and economy rate than Warne in Test cricket and has a significantly better record than Warne in ODIs, despite Warne frequently having the luxury of bowling to opposition batsmen having been unsettled by the bowling of Australia's fast bowlers or chasing large scores. Murali can't be held accountable for the fact that Australia has not played more than a handful of Tests against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe despite having played much more test cricket than Sri Lanka against "respectable" opposition. Besides, Murali has not been suspended from the game for taking banned substances or been fined for having accepted money from bookies as Warne has. Perhaps it is Warne who should have an asterisk against his name in the record books. I'd rate Murali slightly ahead of Warne in Test cricket and Murali again, by a more comfortable margin in ODIs. Let us not forget that at the moment Murali has taken about 100 more international wickets than Warne (Tests and ODIs combined) and will certainly extend this margin after Warne plays the final international match of his controversy-riddled career at the SCG.

  • marcus on January 1, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    Tadhg

    My point was that comparing CSI and Midsomer Murders was that there are plenty of differences between them. CSI is edgy, entertaining and colourful, whereas M.M is a traditional whodunit, with more humour built in and probably more red herrings. You can say that you enjoy CSI more, just as I enjoy M.M more, however that is not the same thing as saying that one is better than the other, because they are two completely and utterly different styles of show. Just in the same way that you can't (in my opinion) say that one's better, I don't believe that you can say that Warne's a better bowler than a leading paceman. And the whole Star Trek thing is an even bigger difference; not only is the style of it different from either CSI or M.M, but it's a completely different genre! Which is why it's a metaphor for why it's hard to label someone the greatest CRICKETER- let alone bowler- of all time.

    At the same time, I'd just like to thank you for at least arguing your point logically, something which is apparently beyond certain others in this blog.

  • Tadhg on January 1, 2007, 0:08 GMT

    Marcus, CSI is better than both Midsomer Murders and Star Trek, therefore Warne is the greatest of all time ;-) Well, maybe that doesn't make Warne the greatest of all time. But it does make a point. Everyone's got a different opinion on what they like to watch - there a plenty of Trekkies out there. Lara obviously, personally, feels that Warne was the biggest challenge he faced as a batsman. Every batsman has different strengths and weaknesses, which different bowlers expose in different measures. Ask a different batsman, get a different answer. Atherton should mention McGrath, Cullinan will say Warne, and so on. Just like I say that CSI is better than Midsomer Murders and Star Trek! Pete, great point about the Super Test. For those who point out that Murali had to put up with a lot of rubbish from Australian crowds, you're right. But no more than anyone else cops. And Warne doesn't exactly have it all his own way when he tours, either. But look at it this way - Warne's retired to play for 2 more years in the home of tabloids, which have been scathing of him throughout his career. I'm not saying this makes Murali a lesser cricketer, but he really does need to thicken up his skin. If he were like Pietersen (current example) and many others over the years, he'd use it as motivation, rather than run and hide. In terms of the whole chucking debacle, what I will say is this: Fast Bowling is more likely to cause chucking than spin bowling. This was noted, as one of the proposals for the law change was to have different angles of flex allowed according to the pace of the bowler. This is not a voluntary movement, it is caused by momentum. A spinner, on the other hand, bowls at much lower speed, and therefore has less excuse for flexing the elbow. If a spinner is straightening his arm as far as a quick, the odds are that it's not all involuntary. I'm not saying it's deliberate, just that it could be eradicated with dedication. We should bear in mind that a fast bowler shouldn't gain much by straightening his elbow, maybe a km/h or two, but no extra deviation, where a spinner can impart considerably more spin (and drift) through "snapping" his elbow straight. I'm not saying that Murali deliberately straightens his elbow, but am merely pointing out that the chucking law has more sensitivity to spinners. Also, labelling Pollock and McGrath as chuckers is cruel - they bowl with the straightest arm possible, within the spirit of the laws. Spinners who snap their elbows - even if it is less than 15 degrees - are not in the spirit of the law, just within the guidelines of the law. I don't believe that this is the only point where people are outside the spirit of the laws - many would say that Australia's appealing (and, if we want to be honest, some others - perhaps Panesar?) is outside the spirit of the game - although I enjoy the spectacle. Some would say not using your designated 12th man as your substitute fielder is outside the spirit of the game. The problem is that following the spirit of the game doesn't always give you results as good as those supplied by stretching away from the spirit and going to the extents of the guidelines. On the point that Australia should test their own cricketers before they let them play international cricket, well, it does. When was the last time an Australian was called for throwing? And the last time an Australian with international experience was subjected to testing? I wouldn't be surprised if it was Meckiff! Similarly, I can't remember an Englishman, a West Indian... However, there are several from the subcontinent that have been tested (and some banned) over the last few years. And one South African offspinner, who was trying to bowl like his heroes from the subcontinent. I believe the only fair thing for Murali and Warne is to have a bowl off. They can have the best fielders in the world all around the bat, at their own direction, and they should have the best players of spin at the other end - Lara, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dravid, Pietersen, Clarke, Hussey, Symonds... Some may debate Symonds, but I'd rather have people who use their feet and smack the ball out there than people who leave everything. And, if I were bowling finger spin to Symonds, tha man with a voice in the back of his head telling him he can hit every ball for six, I'd be rather nervous! I'm sure there are others who should be in that batting line up. Each bowler must dismiss each batsman once (if one gets a batsman out, the next batsman comes in an plays the first bowler only, the original batsman stays out there to face the second bolwer), and play the "test" at a neutral venue - England (so it makes money)? West Indies? Although this is extremely unlikely to happen, it's about the only way we'll ever get some people to agree as to who's the best. And even then, there'll be others there who won't accept the result. For mine, Warne every time... More menacing in more conditions. I'd love to watch Symonds and Pietersen get after Murali...

  • logical on December 31, 2006, 22:10 GMT

    So far, these are results established by scientific studies:

    1) It's virtually impossible for a normal human being to bowl without straightening the arm. Thus people like McGrath and Pollock may have actually been "chucking" for a long time. I guess we should take their records away from them as well, if we're going to do the same for Murali.

    2) It's almost impossible to say whether someone's chucking using the naked eye, unless the degree of flexion is more than 15 degrees.

    These are facts established by scientific study. It's amazing how so many ex-cricketers find problems with Murali, when maybe they should be reading the findings more carefully.

    The reactions of people sound like that of the Catholic Church when Galileo discovered the earth went around the sun and not otherwise. Galileo used a scientific method to discover this, but no one wanted to believe him because it went against accepted knowledge at the time.

    It seems to me that a lot of people in Aust think he's chucking because of Darrell Hair's judgement. Hmm, the same guy who called Pakistan for ball tampering yet couldn't produce any evidence? The same guy who when placed under pressure asked for $500,000 from the ICC as a "golden handshake" so that he could keep quiet? Sounds like a dodgy character to me.

    As for Warne vs Murali, how about the simple truth: It's almost impossible to compare them as it would be similar to comparing apples and oranges. So why don't we just acknowledge them both as greats and leave it there.

  • z on December 31, 2006, 21:49 GMT

    Murali straightens his arm by about 10 degrees while bowling the doosra (more than he does for any other delivery, well under the 15 degree limit). Fast bowlers including McGrath and Pollock straighten their arms to a greater extent. As a university based in Perth, Australia currently seems to be the only place with the technology to test bowlers actions that is accepted by the ICC, maybe Australia could take the lead and ensure that all their bowlers actions have legitimate actions before they are allowed to play international cricket and then have their actions tested regularly after that.

  • Peter N on December 31, 2006, 19:49 GMT

    Isn't K2 supposed to be a tougher proposition than Everest?

  • Maheshkumar M on January 8, 2007, 5:52 GMT

    Both McGrath and Warne did not have to bowl against (arguably) the greatest team ever i.e. their own. That 'handicap' apart (it is not their fault), they have been truly great bowlers.

    But which one is better? Pace and spin may be apples and oranges, but comparing the two from the same orchard may just be a worthwhile thing to do.

    McGrath is clearly the unconquered hero. Only against SouthAfrica, his strike rate (no of balls per wicket) is high at 72 and wickets per match low at 3.35, but his economy against the country is a cool 2.29, below his career economy of 2.49.

    Warne's strike rate against India is a high 91 compared to his career rate of 57, the closest being South Africa at 63. He has taken only 3.07 Indian wickets per match, much below his career avg of 4.88. And you have his economy rate against India struggling at 3.10 (higher than his career avg of 2.65).

    That explains it all. McGrath, the Mr Clinical par excellence wins hands down.

  • Julie on January 5, 2007, 4:54 GMT

    Of course us "Aussie Yobs" think Warne's the best - we crowded around our televisions today and wept at his departure. If one man could win a test series Australia would never have lost the 'urn' in 2005 based on Warne's performance. Adelaide this series he demonstrated yet again why he is, and will always be grearded as the best.

    No-one expects anyone from Sri Lanka to agree with this - it's always conspiracies and attacks on Murali. Murali's a good bowler and everyone knows he'll surpass Warne in the wicket taking stakes, but does he inspire the whole nation the way that Warne has inspired Australia? It's not just Aussies singing the praises of Warne, but cricket loving people from all over the world.

    Sure, he's f&$ked up every now and then, but he's played, he's been passionate about the game he so obviously loves. His gamesmanship (yes, that is what I believe sledging to be) is superb and I've thoroughly enjoyed all the banter that goes on in every series I've watched him play in.

    I'm sad today, because, we all know, we'll never see the likes of him again.

  • woppa on January 2, 2007, 14:11 GMT

    I'm really disappointed at the remarks regarding Australians as yobs and racists on this site. Drop the comments about racism & politics.

    It's a game boys & I love it. Be passionate, yes, but take it easy please & lighten up.

    No more comments about being an Aussie yob etc otherwise people will start answering back in the same fashion.

  • z on January 1, 2007, 14:58 GMT

    If the fast bowlers only get an advantage of 1-2km/hr by straightening their arm, wouldn't it make more sense for them to bowl 1-2km/hr slower. Labelling McGrath and Pollock as chuckers is no more cruel than labelling Murali a chucker. Murali has been called by Darrell Hair (Aus), Tony McQuillan (Aus) and Ross Emerson (Aus). The only claim to fame that McQuillan and Emerson have is for calling Murali for chucking. Darrell Hair has been embroiled in controversy throughout his umpiring career. He, along with Doctrove, umpired in the first Test match ever to have been forfeited. He has been labelled as biased by several players from the sub-continent. Little wonder that Murali is reluctant to tour Australia as the only umpires to have a problem with his action have been Australians.

  • z on January 1, 2007, 12:38 GMT

    I believe that the most recent Australian to be subject to testing was Brett Lee having been reported for having a suspect action in 2000 in two matches against New Zealand (admittedly early in his career). He was subsequently cleared by Dennis Lillee (notably a former Australian player - if Murali was cleared by a Sri Lankan all sorts of accusations would be raised about bias). Murali has been cleared on every occasion as well. He did straighten his arm to some extent, but the speed of his arm was as fast as that of many pace bowlers according to scientists involved. Was this against the spirit of the law? Statistics indicate that Murali has a better average, strike rate and economy rate than Warne in Test cricket and has a significantly better record than Warne in ODIs, despite Warne frequently having the luxury of bowling to opposition batsmen having been unsettled by the bowling of Australia's fast bowlers or chasing large scores. Murali can't be held accountable for the fact that Australia has not played more than a handful of Tests against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe despite having played much more test cricket than Sri Lanka against "respectable" opposition. Besides, Murali has not been suspended from the game for taking banned substances or been fined for having accepted money from bookies as Warne has. Perhaps it is Warne who should have an asterisk against his name in the record books. I'd rate Murali slightly ahead of Warne in Test cricket and Murali again, by a more comfortable margin in ODIs. Let us not forget that at the moment Murali has taken about 100 more international wickets than Warne (Tests and ODIs combined) and will certainly extend this margin after Warne plays the final international match of his controversy-riddled career at the SCG.

  • marcus on January 1, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    Tadhg

    My point was that comparing CSI and Midsomer Murders was that there are plenty of differences between them. CSI is edgy, entertaining and colourful, whereas M.M is a traditional whodunit, with more humour built in and probably more red herrings. You can say that you enjoy CSI more, just as I enjoy M.M more, however that is not the same thing as saying that one is better than the other, because they are two completely and utterly different styles of show. Just in the same way that you can't (in my opinion) say that one's better, I don't believe that you can say that Warne's a better bowler than a leading paceman. And the whole Star Trek thing is an even bigger difference; not only is the style of it different from either CSI or M.M, but it's a completely different genre! Which is why it's a metaphor for why it's hard to label someone the greatest CRICKETER- let alone bowler- of all time.

    At the same time, I'd just like to thank you for at least arguing your point logically, something which is apparently beyond certain others in this blog.

  • Tadhg on January 1, 2007, 0:08 GMT

    Marcus, CSI is better than both Midsomer Murders and Star Trek, therefore Warne is the greatest of all time ;-) Well, maybe that doesn't make Warne the greatest of all time. But it does make a point. Everyone's got a different opinion on what they like to watch - there a plenty of Trekkies out there. Lara obviously, personally, feels that Warne was the biggest challenge he faced as a batsman. Every batsman has different strengths and weaknesses, which different bowlers expose in different measures. Ask a different batsman, get a different answer. Atherton should mention McGrath, Cullinan will say Warne, and so on. Just like I say that CSI is better than Midsomer Murders and Star Trek! Pete, great point about the Super Test. For those who point out that Murali had to put up with a lot of rubbish from Australian crowds, you're right. But no more than anyone else cops. And Warne doesn't exactly have it all his own way when he tours, either. But look at it this way - Warne's retired to play for 2 more years in the home of tabloids, which have been scathing of him throughout his career. I'm not saying this makes Murali a lesser cricketer, but he really does need to thicken up his skin. If he were like Pietersen (current example) and many others over the years, he'd use it as motivation, rather than run and hide. In terms of the whole chucking debacle, what I will say is this: Fast Bowling is more likely to cause chucking than spin bowling. This was noted, as one of the proposals for the law change was to have different angles of flex allowed according to the pace of the bowler. This is not a voluntary movement, it is caused by momentum. A spinner, on the other hand, bowls at much lower speed, and therefore has less excuse for flexing the elbow. If a spinner is straightening his arm as far as a quick, the odds are that it's not all involuntary. I'm not saying it's deliberate, just that it could be eradicated with dedication. We should bear in mind that a fast bowler shouldn't gain much by straightening his elbow, maybe a km/h or two, but no extra deviation, where a spinner can impart considerably more spin (and drift) through "snapping" his elbow straight. I'm not saying that Murali deliberately straightens his elbow, but am merely pointing out that the chucking law has more sensitivity to spinners. Also, labelling Pollock and McGrath as chuckers is cruel - they bowl with the straightest arm possible, within the spirit of the laws. Spinners who snap their elbows - even if it is less than 15 degrees - are not in the spirit of the law, just within the guidelines of the law. I don't believe that this is the only point where people are outside the spirit of the laws - many would say that Australia's appealing (and, if we want to be honest, some others - perhaps Panesar?) is outside the spirit of the game - although I enjoy the spectacle. Some would say not using your designated 12th man as your substitute fielder is outside the spirit of the game. The problem is that following the spirit of the game doesn't always give you results as good as those supplied by stretching away from the spirit and going to the extents of the guidelines. On the point that Australia should test their own cricketers before they let them play international cricket, well, it does. When was the last time an Australian was called for throwing? And the last time an Australian with international experience was subjected to testing? I wouldn't be surprised if it was Meckiff! Similarly, I can't remember an Englishman, a West Indian... However, there are several from the subcontinent that have been tested (and some banned) over the last few years. And one South African offspinner, who was trying to bowl like his heroes from the subcontinent. I believe the only fair thing for Murali and Warne is to have a bowl off. They can have the best fielders in the world all around the bat, at their own direction, and they should have the best players of spin at the other end - Lara, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dravid, Pietersen, Clarke, Hussey, Symonds... Some may debate Symonds, but I'd rather have people who use their feet and smack the ball out there than people who leave everything. And, if I were bowling finger spin to Symonds, tha man with a voice in the back of his head telling him he can hit every ball for six, I'd be rather nervous! I'm sure there are others who should be in that batting line up. Each bowler must dismiss each batsman once (if one gets a batsman out, the next batsman comes in an plays the first bowler only, the original batsman stays out there to face the second bolwer), and play the "test" at a neutral venue - England (so it makes money)? West Indies? Although this is extremely unlikely to happen, it's about the only way we'll ever get some people to agree as to who's the best. And even then, there'll be others there who won't accept the result. For mine, Warne every time... More menacing in more conditions. I'd love to watch Symonds and Pietersen get after Murali...

  • logical on December 31, 2006, 22:10 GMT

    So far, these are results established by scientific studies:

    1) It's virtually impossible for a normal human being to bowl without straightening the arm. Thus people like McGrath and Pollock may have actually been "chucking" for a long time. I guess we should take their records away from them as well, if we're going to do the same for Murali.

    2) It's almost impossible to say whether someone's chucking using the naked eye, unless the degree of flexion is more than 15 degrees.

    These are facts established by scientific study. It's amazing how so many ex-cricketers find problems with Murali, when maybe they should be reading the findings more carefully.

    The reactions of people sound like that of the Catholic Church when Galileo discovered the earth went around the sun and not otherwise. Galileo used a scientific method to discover this, but no one wanted to believe him because it went against accepted knowledge at the time.

    It seems to me that a lot of people in Aust think he's chucking because of Darrell Hair's judgement. Hmm, the same guy who called Pakistan for ball tampering yet couldn't produce any evidence? The same guy who when placed under pressure asked for $500,000 from the ICC as a "golden handshake" so that he could keep quiet? Sounds like a dodgy character to me.

    As for Warne vs Murali, how about the simple truth: It's almost impossible to compare them as it would be similar to comparing apples and oranges. So why don't we just acknowledge them both as greats and leave it there.

  • z on December 31, 2006, 21:49 GMT

    Murali straightens his arm by about 10 degrees while bowling the doosra (more than he does for any other delivery, well under the 15 degree limit). Fast bowlers including McGrath and Pollock straighten their arms to a greater extent. As a university based in Perth, Australia currently seems to be the only place with the technology to test bowlers actions that is accepted by the ICC, maybe Australia could take the lead and ensure that all their bowlers actions have legitimate actions before they are allowed to play international cricket and then have their actions tested regularly after that.

  • Peter N on December 31, 2006, 19:49 GMT

    Isn't K2 supposed to be a tougher proposition than Everest?

  • Mani on December 31, 2006, 17:54 GMT

    Ask any bowler, they'll say that it is difficult to get a "settled" batsman out. Warne has the advantage of bowling to batsmen when the opponents are already in backfoot (thanks to his fast bowling counterparts with whom he has to share the wickets!!!). But Murali (most of the time) bowls to batsmen who have "Settled" in. So I do not think it makes "Warne" great just because he has to compete with quality bowlers while "Murali" is an ordinary player as he takes everything for granted. Both of them EARN their wickets. The argument that the law is changed to accommodate MURALI alone is unacceptable. It was changed to accommodate OTHERS which include Murali. The ICC changed the rules only when they came to know that most of the other bowlers are also chucking (as per the earlier law). In my eyes both are great bowlers. If there is any way to measure greatness, ask the batsmen who play these bowlers. For LARA, warne is the difficult bowler. But for SACHIN, murali is the difficult bowler. G SMITH may say Zaheer is the difficult bowler(!!!!). So in the end it boils down to the statistics (the total...without any window dressing). Right now WARNE is the best. However I feel MURALI may takeover one day....and I will not be surprised if he had 1000 when he retires....

  • Martin B on December 30, 2006, 13:24 GMT

    Can I point out that not all Australians try to maintain the unsupportable position that Murali chucks, but Lee and McGrath do not?

    The argument that Murali has less competition for wickets is reasonable, as is the argumnet that he plays more matches on spin-friendly wickets.

    The argument on 'quality of opposition' is more dubious.

    The argument of 'suspect action' is just outrageous. Glenn McGrath's action is *just* as suspect - is he any less a bowler?

    Murali's action *looks* worse to the naked eye because he never has a straight arm (which of course is not itslef illegal and never has been). But it has been shown time and again that this appearance is deceptive - you cannot accurately judge the shape of a moving 3-d angle from a single 2-d perspective.

    The history of the laws is that the rules were changed to accomodate bowlers like Lee and McGrath - not to accomodate Murali. The laws were not changed for Murali's doosra - that was simply banned. The laws *were* changed when it was found that Lee and McGrath (and almost everyone else) were breaching them.

    Have a look at : http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/141558.html

  • Haydos1 on December 29, 2006, 22:31 GMT

    For those out there that keep saying that Murali rund rings around India, just check his average in India. It like Warnes is a very ordinary 39+. His overall record against India is still an ordinary 32.47. If all of you want to rely on stats. This hardly suggest that he like Warne is very effective against India

  • raj on December 29, 2006, 17:44 GMT

    To Aussie Yobs: The fact that you keep harping on Murali throwing ad naueseum and keep harping on his Zimbabwe and Bangla wickets to compare him unfavourably with Warne shows your bias. I still maintain Habibul Bashar is a better player of spin than Darryl, Herschelle,a host of New Zealanders, a majority of Englishmen who have played Cricket in the last 20 years. Substitute bashar for Ashraful etc. It still holds. Trying to subvert this debate by saying English teams win series against other teams while Bangla/Zim dont is laughable. English team doesnt win due to its ability to play spin. It wins in other conditions against teams that lack a quality spinner. So, all this nonsense about Murali has 137 wickets against Zim so Warne is greater is just that - nonsense.

    Mr Heigh(I prefer this spelling - ask mr heigh to spell Subramnyaviswanatha Sharma Pamaulaparthi and I am sure he'll struggle too) is preferring to keep silent because he doesnt want to be seen openly as a supporter of Warne, I think.

    As someone said, Warne is great. So is Murali. The problem comes when you guys try to twist this by bringing in Murali's action, Zim wickets etc. It just shows how desparate you are to anoint your man Warne. I have no problems acknowledging Warne's greatness. just that he isnt any greater than Murali. The fact that you guys have to throw mud at Murali shows your class. If I may add, the fact that despite such negative press and such preposterous treatment from Aussie crowds and so many sports writers, Murali has shwon Iron-will to defeat his detractors with his performance, Contrast that with the amount of support,praise that Warne gets - You will know who is a greater sportsman if you consider that.

  • suman on December 29, 2006, 15:15 GMT

    How cute to see all the Aussie comments slagging off Murali, while exalting Warnie as the greatest bowler that has ever lived etc etc. Can I point out one simple fact, though? Murali has never been banned from international cricket for failing a drug test. Neither has he confessed to conversations with bookies while playing in a Test team. If you think the rest of the cricketing world has no memory and can be bamboozled by talk of 10 degree and 15 degree flexing, you're drunk and delirious. No sportsman who has failed a drug test - I don't really care for what substance - and been given a lenient one-year sentence rather than the conventional two-year ban has any claim to being the greatest of any kind. Warne may have taken the most wickets - he is not the greatest spinner in Test cricket and far from the greatest bowler ever. No amount of Murali-bashing is going to disguise that fact.

  • Gary . on December 29, 2006, 6:59 GMT

    marcus is delirious , his comments dont make any sense. maybe you should delete his comments

  • Kaushal on December 29, 2006, 4:46 GMT

    Sad how people form an opinion without educating themselves on the subject matter. Murali throws!!!There s even one guy going about using a protractor as if the latest in bio-mechanical technology isnt enough?Pat yourself on the back and go grow a brain.Murali throws!!! Then so does McGrath,Harbhajan,Akhtar,Lee,Pollock,Gillepsie... so on and so forth.Lets be reasonable and actually read the fine print as well as the headlines,unlike this proud Indian SR. Its lovely to see some educated aussies in this blog who actually do.Thank you,you are not all the close-minded yobos you are widely regarded to be. A brickbat to the guy who says Brian Lara's word is law.That defeats the whole purpose of this blog.It's just an argument in favour of warne in this endless Murali-Warne debate.As was sumptiously put before, he s not the Dalai Lama. And SR,bit rich of an Indian, isnt it, to talk about asterisks in record books when your own Harbhajan Singh may actually be exceeding even the 15 degrees limit?Its only because he isnt much of a bowler that no one makes a big hullabaloo about it.Oh and spare some of those asterisks for bishen bedi,will you? Murali or Warne?Talking about the fact that Australia wins more is meaningless as we re not comparing Aus and SL(Aus by a mile,of course) but warne and murali on their wicket-taking abilities.Murali by a nose,he has a better average and strike rate EVEN DISCOUNTING the wickets against bangla and zim,do the math.(what for?Bangla are way better players of spin than England)and he has to do it alone,just imagine if there was another guy at the other end keeping the pressure on?(Vaas,great bowler but terror he ain't)For those of you who argue that due to this fact he bowls more and gets more wickets,talk sense.Thats what averages and strike rates are there for,for gods sake. However,this is just arguing for arguments sake.They are both wonderful,and one of then will only be seen for one more test.Lets enjoy it and be glad there s another magician still in business for a precious few years.

  • B.J Conkey on December 29, 2006, 3:35 GMT

    I don't know whether this has already been said..BUT if you take away all of Murali's wickets against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (thanks to statsguru)..he still has a better average and strike rate to Warne. His average is 23.38 without Bangladesh and Zimbabwe wickets to his name and a strike rate of 56.8. Both great bowlers but Murali is still statistically better. And those that say Murali has not got a good record against Australia..look at Warne's record against India!

  • Tim on December 29, 2006, 1:00 GMT

    Chris wrote: Murali is far more consistent. Warne has been known to be hit around occasionally and although Murali has previously been nullified to a degree, he has very rarely been smashed around the park.

    Hmm: Didn't Murali go for 99 in a one-dayer against Australia? I would say that constituted a thrashing. But that doesn't make him a bad bowler. Cricket is a batting game, where the bowlers occasionally get to steal the show. And Gideon: loved the K2 (baseball strikout) reference to Murali. I would even love it to be accidental, it's amazing how often those sort of things crop up, adding layers of meaning to the written word.

  • SR on December 28, 2006, 15:21 GMT

    Sigh...not this discussion again...its like comparing Beethoven with Britney Spears. Shane Warne is one for the ages. Classical, Brilliant and quite simply.....a genius. Mirali, while he might be a nice guy, chucks. thats plain and simple. Due to PC and the power of the asian bloc he is allowed to bowl and as mentioned by so many others, was even able to have the laws changed to accomodate him. We can eliminate this issue by having an asterisks next to all his records in the record books, like the one near Roger Maris' when he went past the Babe's record of home runs in a calendar year.

    Also, for those who keep saying that Warne's record against India sucks..well there is a reason for that, his first series when he was a rookie was against them, plus the fact that he toured india in 96 when his spinning finger was crap. Look at his record in the series in australia and the series in 01. They are much better than his overall record in India.

    BTW...am from India so dont waste your time calling me an Aussie yobo.

  • marcus on December 28, 2006, 14:24 GMT

    bazza

    First of all, there's no need to make this personal. I'm not "prejudiced" to the point that I can't acknowledge that Warne is a great bowler; in fact, I ddi say that he was possibly the greatest leg-spinner of all time.

    Second of all, the example you raised about left/right-handed batsmen isn't the same. Batsmen all try to score runs, and all employ the same methods to score them, ie. all batsmen play drives, puuls and cuts to appropriate deliveries. Bowlers try to take wickets, and they do so using methods that are radically different. If Shane Warne is the greatest bowler of all time due to his delivery to bowl leg-breaks, what does that say about Dennis Lillee? Is he any less of a bowler than Warne because he can't bowl leg-breaks? Saying that one is greater than the other is virtually impossible because you're judging them on abilities that the OTHER DOESN'T HAVE.

    Third if all, I admit that I completely suck as a cricketer. And I'm sure that I'm not the only one commenting on this blog who does. Come to that, Gideon Haigh probably isn't any great shakes with his crciket abilities either (no offence) but he still knows about this game of cricket. In fact, only a couple of thousand people in the world have become test cricketers. So for the rest of us, do you really think that we should just sit about, not form our opininons and soak in "enlightenment" from players like Lara like he was the Dalai Lama? Or do we, in fact, have the right to form our own views which may clash from those we hear Lara and Richie Benaud put forward? Apparently, you think the former, which begs the question of why you "waste your time" reading a blog yourself while us poor peasants get it wrong.

  • brendan on December 28, 2006, 14:17 GMT

    what an article, and what great debate it has caused. at the end of the day what i have concluded out of all this, is that both warnie and murali bring out passion in people worldwide. this is great for the game, and even better for all us cricket tragics. both these players give their all for there respective countries, and both deserve respect for what they have achieved. if we are honest with ourselves, and think in the third party, both men`s achievements and contributions to the game have been phenomenal. we have been blessed to have these two freaks of the game in our era. keep up the great work gideon. cheers, brendan

  • Pete on December 28, 2006, 13:34 GMT

    Warne hands down over Murali. Lots of wickets against the minnows can't be totally discarded, but must come into consideration. The amount of games won on the back of the bowling performances of the spinners. Murali had a great wicket taking year this year, something like 90 wickets, but the fact is despite that Sri Lanka have won 6 of 11 tests, becoming 4 out of 9 when you take out the Bangladesh series. So even though he has a mountain of wickets, they still have only been able to win around half their test matches. Warne this year has only 49 wickets, yet Australia have won every match. This shows that the wickets he has provided have led to more victories. Take Adelaide for instance, where he was spanked around then created a collapse looking for the win. It seems to be the difference, Murali always seems to be taking wickets to add to his tally, and Warne wants to take wickets to win for the team. In the Sri Lankan team, Murali has to do all the work, as Vass is the only other bowler of anything closs to world-class, thus he bowls a crap load of overs and is going to get more opportunies for wickets because he is a very very good bowler. Warnie comes on after McGrath, Clark, Lee, Gillespie, McDermott, Kasprowicz, Bichel, Hughes (and any other pace bowler i've forgotten) have done the work and got early break throughs, and those guys keep coming bak in to get more wickets thus Warne doesn't have to get as many. Thus he doesn't have as many 5 wicket hauls but contributes to the team effort of bowling the opposition out. I would also like to point out that I see on a lot of scorecards that Murali has a lot of 5 wicket hauls where he has conceeded over 100 runs. This just suggests that he gets to bowl until he gets wickets but batsmen are having a reasonably comfortable time against him. Mind you it is still wonderful bowling.

    Everyone's making a big point of Warne's record against India. So lets look at this. 14 tests against India, 8 wins, 2 losses, 4 draws. Still winning over 50%. Unbeaten in Australia, Indians suck at playing the extra bounce of the pace men. What we have here is a case of the pace attack taking extra responsibility and getting more wickets and Warne chipping in every now and then, and they still win lots of games. Sri Lanka - 15 tests, 2 wins, 7 draws, 6 losses. So what if Murali has a better record, the bottom line is he still don't win test matches, and he has to bowl more than everyone else to get these wickets.

    I guess waht I'm trying to say is that I think the greatness of a bowler should not just relate to how many wickets, economy rate etc etc, but to how much they contribute to victories for the team. Warne changes his role in the team all the time, if he can't get wickets he bowls a tight line and lets the pace men do the work. Then in the next test he comes on and attacks from the word go and gets a lot of wickets. That's why he wins them matches, and is why his economy rate and strike rate are behind Muralis. Murali is constantly the bowler who is meant to get all the wickets and gets more opportunities to do so. Batsmen know he is the only real threat in the Sri Lankan line up (no discredit to Vaas there) and thus Murali can let his reputation get him lots of wickets (as does Warne) cos batsmen know if they can get through him its easy going. They think the same about Warne but then theres the pace barrage constantly at your throat too. Warne and Australia constantly have you under pressure, and Murali just throws his bag of tricks at you that you have to watch out for for 6 balls then you can have a break.

    Something else to ponder. Make Murali an Aussie and Warne a Sri Lankan. I think their records would swap around. Murali wouldnt have as much work to do thus he would get less wickets. Warne would bowl more and more and get more opporutnites for wickets and keep getting more out. He would keep applying pressure on you too, not just with bowling but with his personality on the field too. Murali would probably be less effective with a quality pace attack. OK, I know this a bad example, but in the super-test he was less effective on the Sydney wicket which spins a lot and against a side who he apparantly does pretty well against. This was with a better pace attack than what he bowls with for Sri Lanka, so it kind of showed his effectivness bowling as part of a better attack.

    Warne champion leg-spinner. Murali wonderful off spinner.

    Warne though because of his match winning abilities gets the vote as the best of the two bowlers.

  • bazza on December 28, 2006, 11:31 GMT

    What twaddle you talk Marcus. Brian Lara nominared Waren as the greatest bowler he had faced. Not the greatest fast,medium or slow bowler.To say you can't compare fast with slow or medium is as logical as stating you can't compare left hand bats with right hand batters. You can argue with Lara's opinion> However you are not a first class test cricketer and you do not know what it takes to be one or you would not be wasting your time reading this blog. Lara is a first class cricketer, perhaps the best batsman of the current era. If you cannot accpt his jusgement as having merit unless it concurs with your own predjudices you are not really interested in being enlightened.

  • PTB Doc on December 28, 2006, 11:31 GMT

    I always find it bizarre that Warne himself raises the point that 137 of Murali's wickets have been taken against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. So what? If other test countries don't do their duty in providing not only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh but also Sri Lanka with anything more than two test series every 4 to 5 years than so be it. Also, Warne blew his chance to bowl against the Zimbabweans in Australia by being suspended for taking a banned substance, only to see Simon Katich's chinamen take a 6 for in Sydney. Also, I tend to agree with an earlier comment that if we want take out the 137 of Murali vs Zim and Bangersandmash than we probably should remove the 190 odd Warney's taken against the English, who still haven't got their heads around Warney, or other decent leg spinners such as MacGill, who has taken a 12 for against the English at Sydney. They've only had a couple of blokes who's willing to take Warne on, one's a South African and a bloke who see's him in the nets at county practice, and the other one's drastically out of form now after being given the worst job in England. Another argument that Murali bowls on pitches that suit him in Sri Lanka, Warney seems to like them too, both having incredibly low averages of 19 and 20 in Sri Lanka. Is that surprising? Murali was brought up on those pitches. Is a strange thing that Warne's average is slightly better away than at home, mainly due to his success on English pitches. In fact he seems to take wickets on pitches that aren't traditional spinners tracks and get tonked on the slower pitches that other spinners love as he uses the bounce of wickets like the Gabba so well. And the final argument that Murali doesn't have a top notch attack poaching wickets. Indeed he and Vaas have been Sri Lanka's Warne and McGrath over the same period. This maybe true, but Warne also doesn't let any other bugger bowl when he gets the ball! He simply camps at one end and won't let anyone else in. At the end of their careers, Murali will have taken more wickets at a better average and strike rate, and have taken more wickets per test. I reckon their wicket taking records of 700 plus will never be passed. Then everyone can sit around and argue and try and qualify the statistics to try and decide who was the better bowler, even though Murali's average will suggest he was 3 to 4 runs per wicket better. Of course the age old argument of Murali being a chucker (which I think is a load of garbage) will be brought up, but it will probably be countered with that of Warney taking a substance that was being used as a masking agent for a steroid used to rehabilitate his shoulder before the 2003 WC (which I also think is a load of garbage). In the end I'm glad I was cricket mad during the time both of them played, so that I could be mesmorised by them both on the telly, and laugh at some other poor bugger being mesmorised from about 18 metres away. Only hope Murali comes down here next year and breaks Warney's world record in Australia. One last point, this may be glaringly obvious to many but was Gideon taking the piss by calling Murali K2, ie. not only the 2nd tallest mountain but also the abbrev. for a strikeout in baseball?

  • bazza on December 28, 2006, 11:31 GMT

    What twaddle you talk Marcus. Brian Lara nominared Waren as the greatest bowler he had faced. Not the greatest fast,medium or slow bowler.To say you can't compare fast with slow or medium is as logical as stating you can't compare left hand bats with right hand batters. You can argue with Lara's opinion> However you are not a first class test cricketer and you do not know what it takes to be one or you would not be wasting your time reading this blog. Lara is a first class cricketer, perhaps the best batsman of the current era. If you cannot accpt his jusgement as having merit unless it concurs with your own predjudices you are not really interested in being enlightened.

  • JOhn on December 28, 2006, 11:29 GMT

    There appears to be great need by some people to match Warne and Murali. Can't see the point opf it. At the end of the day all records, eventaully, are made to be broken. Another man that hardly seems to rate a mention is Anil Kumble. AS far as Murili is concerned, one can only take wickets against who they put you in the field against. Personally, I do thnk that Sri Lanka have been oportunistic playing Bangladesh and Zimbabwe so much. But so what? The guy can only take wicket against who he plays. One thing I do know-we have been blessed to see 3 such spinners of unbelievable quality all in the game in the same time frame. In as little as 2 years time, they may all be gone. It may be 20 year before we se a match for any of them, and the game will be all the poorer for that.

    John(Australia)

  • TJS on December 28, 2006, 10:10 GMT

    my man of the match is andrew symonds not sharne warne even though he took those crucial wickets and his last encounter at MCG,Symonds together with hayden crush england's hope in the game.

  • huyen on December 28, 2006, 5:09 GMT

    gideon, that warne has struggled against india is well known. but i'll tell you what.. this might sound strange.. but i've watched the indians for almost 30 years now and they are not the fabulous players of spin they are made out to be. even wasim raja, bracewell, phil edmonds posed problems for them. murali routinely runs rings around them. they find kaneria a struggle. only, they don't play warne's reputation. to my mind this suggests he's more hype than substance. yes, he's incredibly accurate, he drifts and spins the ball.. i wonder what he lacks. but take out the hype and murali seems much the better bowler.

    lots of the people writing in don't seem to know murali bowled in a brace - yes, a BRACE - for tv. and he bowled in exactly the same manner as usual.

    as for warne having more good bowlers in his side than murali, i don't see the point. that will only bring the innings to a close sooner. isn't how many balls the two of them bowl the key statistic here?

  • Jamie on December 28, 2006, 3:39 GMT

    While I think Warne and Murali are both brilliant at what they do, I agree that the real question should be - "Who has had a greater impact on the game of cricket?"

    Statistics are obviously important in cricket but should never be the only reference. Two cases in point: (1) Mark Waugh's Test average with the bat was below 42, even though many judges consider him one of Australia's "greats" (2) George Lohmann has the best Test average with the ball (for all bowlers who have taken at least 50 wickets) with 10.76. Does this then make him the greatest bowler of all time?

    I'd also just like to make comment of the situation when Murali was initially called for "throwing" back in 1995. Despite all the evidence produced since, I could've sworn that Murali's arm was very straight when he reverted to bowling leg breaks...

  • marcus on December 28, 2006, 2:14 GMT

    Bazza

    Obviously Lara knows a lot about the game. But for all that, his statement lacked a rather important bit of logic. How can you say that a legspinner's better than a fast bowler? That's like comparing CSI to, say, Midsomer Murders. They're both crime shows, but the differences between them outweigh the similarities. You can make a good case for Warne being the greatest LEGSPINNER of all time, you can make a good case of Murali being the best OFFSPINNER of all time, and you can make a good case for any of Lillee, Lindwall, Marshall, Truman or Ambrose being the best FAST BOWLERS of all time. But comparing Lillee with Warne or Murali with Marshall is just plain madness. As for Steve Waugh saying that Warne's the gretaest CRICKETER of all time- well, now we're getting into "CSI vs. Star Trek" territory.

  • ajaya on December 28, 2006, 1:27 GMT

    on the subject of 'questioned action's.. who is it that questions murali's actions? the answer would be pre-judging hacks who turn a blind eye to proven scientific fact because it dosent agree with their opinion yall can keep on harping about murali's action but 50 years from hence, it will be murali's 1000 test wicket that will be celebrated, and your whining negativity will be drowned. so keep up your moaning its fun to read

  • Peter N on December 28, 2006, 0:24 GMT

    Oooh Raj, getting a bit narky there aren't we. Exactly what is a "typical" Aussie yob? Any differences beween a typical and atypical yob? The main difference between Warne and Murali (besides Australians being able to pronounce their names) is that one of them doesn't have a questioned action.

  • Saumil on December 27, 2006, 23:38 GMT

    I agree with the comments that Warne is highly over-rated. his record against India, where batsmen play spin better than anywhere else, is horrible. He is just another world-class leg-spinner who played in an era of poor batsmanship, nothing more.

  • pb on December 27, 2006, 22:07 GMT

    what a well written article this was. Thought provoking and enjoyable without being judgemental. As far as the Elite panel goes, we need an umpires academy where the umpires train regularly and compare their decisions using hawkeye and TV. Decision making can be enhanced by practise rather than solely depending on knee jerk impulse as in Koertzen's case. This article does not really compare warne against murali; those who belive so are missing the point. All that Gideon is saying here is that warne feat is wonderful and is worthy of celebration . He simply attempts to quell the high pitch quivers of those nitpickers who are taking the sheen off this acheivement with their conspiracies.

  • Dileep on December 27, 2006, 21:24 GMT

    The antipathy towards Murali here is clear but please don't make stuff up to support your arguments: Murali's doosra is not 'thrown'. It is bowled with upto 12 degrees of flexion, in the same way that bowlers with 'classical' actions such McGrath and Pollock were found to flex their elbows by upto 13 degrees, following detailed monitoring undertaken during the ICC trophy in England. The reality is that most international bowlers flex their elbows by > 10 degrees. That is the reason why the rules were changed in the first place - not just to accomodate Murali (that would be ludicrous)- but to prevent the majority of international bowlers being banned under the existing legislation. Some bowlers such as Shabbir Ahmed were found to have more than 15 degress flexion and were subsequently banned. The bottom line is that Murali's action is as 'clean' as other international bowlers, so why should he be continue to be persecuted by a minority of ignorant fans and media people??

    As for bowlers faking it under laboratory conditions, the supervisors make sure that the bowler is bowling a) at the same speed as bowled in a match, b) imparting the same degree of spin as imparted in a match. It would therefore be impossible to 'fake' a laboratory test by bowling at suboptimal intensity.

    As for Murali's wickets against Ban, Zim being unfair, do you think its fair that Sri Lanka never get to play anything more than 3-test series? Murali would be ~ 150 wickets ahead of Warne by now if he had played the same number of tests.

    Furthermore I don't see why having a more 'classical' action should be grounds for being judged a better bowler. Some of the most exciting and best loved cricketers exhibit an unorthodox style - Pieterson, Jayasuriya, Gilchrist, Sehwag etc. Whereas Warne was taught to bowl legspin by someone else, Murali is a self-taught genius. He devised a unique method of spin bowling entirely by himself - what a masterstroke of cricketing ingenuity and originality. Its sad that instead of applauding this, people are making up all sorts of misinformation to detract from Murali's genius.

  • Venu on December 27, 2006, 21:00 GMT

    Gideon I was just about to commend you on a great job of filtering comments, then I read Mr. Raj's comment. Clearly, a man who types your name wrong twice doesn't deserve a say. Having said that his point is very valid. Take away the wickets that Warne has against Gibbs/Cullinan and pretty much everyone in South Africa but Kallis and Gary Kirsten. Lump into that list the Kiwis and the mid-90's English team. Now to be fair, let's strip everyone who we think is not a great player of spin and after everyone has had their word there are a handful of players left. Now, compare Warne with Muralitharan and there will be very little between them. If you don't get that, you might as well stop reading this post. The point is that you can apply statistics to tell whatever you want. I am very successful against left-arm swing bowlers. Last I checked, I hit a four off the only such ball I faced. I average under 10. Similarly, it is a bit silly how Monty Panesar is the best left arm finger spinner in the world. It is equally silly how Daniel Vettori is the best batsman at eight and the fact that he gets out for duck batting at seven simply re-affirms that he isn’t fit to bat at seven. I am not having a go at Panesar or Vettori, I am a big fan of both these players. Before long we'll have the world's best silly mid-on for right-arm seam bowlers, who hit the 140kmph mark when there is 40% humidity and the temperature is under 30. And then Duncan Fletcher (or his equivalent) will choose to play the second best silly mid-on for right-arm seam bowlers, who hit the 140kmph mark when there is 40% humidity and the temperature is under 30. The BBC (or its equivalent) will then receive 10,000 petitions for this travesty and the world's best silly mid-on ... will play and will make little difference. Unless, of course that silly mid-on is as good as Warne or Muralitharan in which case he will make a difference and more than likely the team will win... Instead of bickering about who is the better, perhaps we should just cherish the fact that we are privileged to be watching two of the great bowlers of all time in a frenzied race to break milestone after milestone. For the record I did and still do think that the world's best left arm finger spinner should have played the first two tests. However, I do think that the outcome of the first test and most likely the second would have hardly changed. Finally apologies for such a long post. Gideon, what do you make of Warne v Murali? From your posts, I am inclined to say that you would choose Warney... To those that are complaining about Hair and Pakistan. Get over it, this man black-mailed ICC at a dubious time. Even if he was right in his decision, his conduct after was unbecoming of an elite umpire. As it has been pointed out by many, what finally shut the door for Hair was what Boycott said and not the all powerful Asian mafia as some seem to suggest.

  • Yogesh on December 27, 2006, 19:29 GMT

    Alan - a touch of arrogance is just the right comment at least as far as Benson is concerned. He is having a really bad match in SA. Unfortunately for us Indians he has been all bad against us till now. Three SA batsmen not given plumb (a couple against Kumble for God's sake - everyone knows if it pitches in line it will go on to hit). The worst was when he got Rahul Dravid with a ball that was going over the stumps. So, all his decisions till now have been of the kind which can influence the match and series.

  • Derek on December 27, 2006, 19:28 GMT

    I agree that Koertzen has been a disaster. The Australians are so far ahead of every one else so for heavans sake dont make it impossible to get them out by turning down blatant lbw decisions as well.

  • Steve on December 27, 2006, 19:18 GMT

    Warne has climbed his Everest. He brought leg spin back to life and bowled improbable balls. His pure action was a delight to watch. And he bowled his team to victory on many occasions as a great spin bowler should. And he was a competitor no matter where he played, and didn't shun a contest.

    Murali is now deemed a legal bowler. His action is ugly. He bowls on spin friendly wickets. He bowls the majority of his teams overs in matches and has no one else to claim wickets from him. He doesn't like touring Australia and doesn't do well here on our pace friendly wickets.

    Murali's team still doesn't win test matches. He's an excellent bowler, but not a match winner

    Thats why Warne will always be a better bowler.

  • z on December 27, 2006, 17:33 GMT

    Murali's action has been cleared every time he has been tested. McGrath, Pollock and Lee, among others, straighten their arms significantly more than Murali. One could well argue that the rule was changed to accommodate them And how many of Warne's wickets were taken with the aid of banned substances? Had he received the appropriate suspension of 2 years he might have retired in 2003.

  • Jay on December 27, 2006, 15:52 GMT

    Kevin, Re: your statementt "You can use stats to argue whether Murali is a better bowler than Warne".

    Doesn't part of Warne's greatness stem from his outstanding statistics? We're all celebrating the great man's 700th wicket, that's a stat. We all felt the pain when he took 40 which all but won the Ashes last year, but would you have felt the same if he took only 20 wickets in that series?

    Statistically, Warne is clearly superior to most of his contemporaries and bowlers of the past. That is one of the reasons that makes him great. The culmination of a 300-wicket Test career does not create tsunamis in the cricket world, but a 700-wicket career coming to an end generates waves of celebration, nostalgia and sorrow.

    Using statistics to compare two legends is a completely valid exercise. If statistics were so irrelevant, why would we keep them? And every time someone calls statistics meaningless, it stabs a hundred daggers into the heart of the StatsGuru progrmamer (S Rajesh, is it?).

  • Jay on December 27, 2006, 15:42 GMT

    Murali really doesn't get enough credit, and neither does Koertzen. At least he's neutral and gets them wrong both way. He's not biased, just plain incompetent. But since incomepetence is better than nepotism, it allows for the alpha-dogs(clearly the Aussies) to eventually come out on top.

  • brendan on December 27, 2006, 14:57 GMT

    stop bashing the umpires, lets just enjoy the cricket. i will miss both pigeon and warnie, true legends on and off the field. both players were told very early in their respective careers that they were no good. my god! they have proved the knockers wrong. they both have a fierce desire to succeed and the most important thing self belief. as for murali his DOOSRA in the labs at full speed was measured between 19 and 23 degrees, this is why he had to do remedial work on more than 1 occassion to bring it down to 15 degrees. yes he bowls on the limit in labs now, but you can see in tests that his doosra at certain times goes well passed the limit when tiredness sets in and he tries really hard to bowl it. tape him bowling when under pressure then freeze frame it, trace his arm onto paper off the screen then use a protractor or any other measuring device, at times you will see what a bent arm of 30 degrees flicking the ball off the top of the fingers looks like. hail DARRELL HAIR the best umpire in world cricket.

  • Reason on December 27, 2006, 14:49 GMT

    Warne v Murali Surely the batsman facing Sri Lanka can concentrate on keeping Murali out, and take the runs on offer at the other end. Warne has had McGrath at the other end, so batsmen have had to attack the spinner. Yet Murali's strike rate is still better than Warne's. The only argument that Warne has in his favour is his 17 wkts v Bangladesh/Zimbabwe to Murali's 137. That's a pretty powerful argument and might require Murali to take 800 to settle it once and for all. And for all the biomechanics out there who confidently assert Murali to be a thrower I can only commend you for having better eyesight than the multiple cameras and body sensors which have cleared him.

  • S on December 27, 2006, 14:42 GMT

    In reply to some of the comments about changing the rules for murali's sake where did you crawl out of mates ! if as you say the rule was strictly enforced neither of your "great" bowlers would be able to bowl too because their 'flexing' of the arms were also beyond the limits! now the question do we change the law to ban all bowler yes all for one one bowler was found to be within the tolerence limits or do we acomodate all bowlers? I take offence in that most of you believe the rules were changed to accept Murali where as the fact of the matter is that it was changed for all present and past bowlers. Your bias is clear as day gentlemen which whilest disconcerting is hardly unexpected face the facts your cries will go unheard of and Murali will keep all of his wickets and There is'nt a bleeping thing you can do about it! (Thank God!)

  • S on December 27, 2006, 14:40 GMT

    In reply to some of the comments about changing the rules for murali's sake where did you crawl out of mates ! if as you say the rule was strictly enforced neither of your "great" bowlers would be able to bowl too because there 'flexing' of the arms were also beyond the limits! now the question do we change the law to ban all bowler yes all for one one bowler was found to be within the tolerence limits or do we acomodate all bowlers? I take offence in that most of you believe the rules were changed to accept Murali where as the fact of the matter is that it was changed for all present and past bowlers. Your bias is clear as day gentlemen which whilest disconcerting is hardly unexpected face the facts you cries will go unheard of and Murali will keep all of his wickets and There is'nt a bleeping thing you can do about it! (Thank God!)

  • Fras on December 27, 2006, 14:20 GMT

    Instead of all the armchair experts saying who is the greater spin bowler - why don't you ask a Quality batsman who has faced both bowlers over a period of time... Why not Brian Lara - he is quoted as saying Warne is not just the best spin bowler he has faced in his career but alos the best bowler he has seen!

  • rob on December 27, 2006, 14:15 GMT

    shane warne is in a completely different class to murali. someone only needs to have a look at the teams they have played in. sure shane warne may not have as good an average as murali and he has played more tests but look at the other bowlers he has had around him compared to murali. where warne has had 3 quality pacemen around him to share the wicket taking load murali has simply had chaminda vaas. imagine if warne had had such trashy bowlers to bowl with the amount of wickets he would have taken by now would be mind boggling also murali bowls a ridiculous percentage of his teams overs consistenly racking up more then 35 - 40 overs. warne has changed the way the world has viewed spin bowling and no one can deny that he is clearly the best slow bowler of all time

    well done warnie on 700 test victims

  • Paul on December 27, 2006, 13:44 GMT

    Yes Warne & Murali are both fantastic, BUT.... How mauch competition does Murali have in his own side? How many wickets does Murali take compared to his quick bowling team mates in comparison to Warne? Warne has had some quality wicket takers in his own team & they can nail any top order & roll the tail without him.

    Aus - McGrath, McDermott, Gillespie, Hughes, Lee etc They all have successful careers.

    Now rattle off some amazing Sri Lankan bowlers other than Murali who can take important wickets at important times during a match. Struggling?.... So am I.

    There's a fair bit of talent in the Australian team & so, to take over 700 with other bowlers of that quality in your side is pretty good. It's a great TEAM effort & Australia tends to win most of their test matches compared to other nations. What's more important - being a great bowler in a losing team or a great bowler and team man in one of the greatest teams of all time? He creates pressure & opportunities, fields at first slip & can hit the odd ball when batting. Can Murali match that? Can you?? Can I?? To me the real question is - "Has Murali made as big a difference to the game of cricket as Warne?"

  • Andrew Deacon on December 27, 2006, 12:50 GMT

    Regarding umpiring. Something that I have started to wonder about is the seeming arrival of the signature dismissal, whereby umpires are developing their own trademark raisings of the dreaded finger. There have always been quirky umpires with their quirky ways of course - Dickie Bird grimaced his way through various expressions during a test match - but the super slo-mo arms and crooked fingers on show today are starting to remind me more of the manufactured razzmatazz catchphrases of the top US boxing referees than Dickie's wincing expressions. Suffice to say I hope that the accuracy of the decision will remain paramount in any umpire's mind over the look of their dismissal pose. Or maybe cricket needs some more Stateside appeal? In which case, "Let's get it on!"

  • Tadhg on December 27, 2006, 12:38 GMT

    Leave the poor umpires be, I say! I agree with Gideon's idea about giving the Elite Panel Umpires a chance to get some form, and acclimatise - I suggested as much a few days ago. But I still believe they are better than technology for most things - maybe Snicko or Hot Spot would be useful for the odd caught behind or bat pad - perhaps even the odd LBW. But Hawkeye... It was developed for that awful bore of a sport, Tennis, where, if the ball has bounced in the corner, the odds are that no one was near it to interfere with its line, and no one cares how it deviated off the court...

    At the end of the day, sport works best when it flows naturally. If you're at the game, it's a pain to sit around and wait for the 3rd umpire. You're completely disconnected, uninvolved in the process. But a bowler dawdling at the top of his mark, or a batsman gardening, that's in front of you. You feel you can influence it - you can shout all the abuse or encouragement you want, and they'll hear you!

    All sport has bias in umpiring/refereeing. Look at this year's Soccer/Football World Cup. I don't think you'll find many people happy with every decision there - not even the administrators! And they still don't use any technology. In fact, (I think) they only have three blokes running the game, and they're usually further away and less well-sighted than a cricket umpire! A better example is the rugby codes - league and union. They allow a "Video Referee" or "Television Match Official". However, they only cross at critical points, where the game is completely stopped anyway. And only if there is any doubt. There are countless things in those games that could be penalized if every move was watched by the "3rd umpire", but they would upset the flow of the game to the point that no one would watch. And the biggest criticism of many refs in those codes - apart from the odd bad decision - is that they go to the "3rd umpire" unnecessarily. And one more point - those referrals to the TV official can actually be a bad thing for the team attacking - they may have had the other team on the ropes, and a quick negative decision may have led to them making a breakthrough elsewhere. Whereas, after the wait for the TV and then the decision, the other team has had a chance to recover. The same thing could happen in cricket - I'm sure a bowler - Warnie in particular - would rather a quick "No" to an LBW that causes doubt in the batsman's mind, makes him think about avoiding that mistake again at all costs, and causes him to play an uncomfortable shot and get out. Where, if it were referred, the batsman can walk away, regather his thoughts, and then the attacking bowler loses his advantage. I expect it could also go the other way - where the field umpire could give the benefit of the doubt, the TV umpire might not have so much doubt.

    Also, the rugby codes and soccer all use neutral umpires, yet they still tend to show some bias in their decisions, usually towards the home team, or, in games at neutral venues, to the better-known team. It's just a fact of life. We need to get over it. Case in point - although I hate soccer, I know that the Socceroos were (apparently) incorrectly penalized against Italy in the World Cup. TV replays showed that clearly. Yet the penalty still stood, and, because of that penalty, Italy scored, won 1-0, advanced to the next round and eventually won said World Cup. Is Australia cranky? Yes. Will they deal with it, and will the players try harder next time, or will they just sulk? I think the answer is obvious. Bias exists as long as humans run games - we can only try to minimize it, and then ignore it. As mentioned elsewhere, umpires can't help but be influenced by the local team, who should have better knowledge of the conditions, and the parochial home crowds. Even if it's just a little bit! Strauss is a great example - he took those "obviously" poor decisions in the right spirit, and accepted that there's no point in worrying about the things he can't change.

    I'm also against a system where the players/captains/coaches/anyone could "appeal" an umpire's decision - that removes the authority of the umpire on the field, and promotes a sense that they are not the impartial law of the game that they should be, and should be considered to be. If a decision is ever to go to the 3rd umpire, it should be purely because the field umpire does not believe he is best suited to make the call, and that should generally only be if he was unsighted, or if he had to watch two things at once - i.e. batsman making ground and ball breaking bails. Most other times, the umpire is best located to see what's happened.

    At the end of the day, the problem isn't the umpires - they're out there doing the job they've been given to the best of their ability (unless you believe they are biased - in which case call the ICC!). If we are seeing consistent "errors" - well, errors on a regular basis, from multiple umpires - there must be a problem with the system. Not the individual umpires. So we should leave poor Rudi alone! If they were better prepared, and better backed, perhaps they'd do a better job. And we can't blame the players for appealing, or over-appealing - that's their job. As Viv Richards famously said in the '80's, it's the umpires' job to withstand all pressures and decide what is right. And it's the ICC's job to make sure they're well prepared, and backed to the hilt. Whereas, under the current setup, if I were Mr Koertzen, considering all the complaints about his "obvious Australian bias", I'd be starting to watch my back... Even though he wasn't the only umpire out there calling things as he saw them over the last few days. I'm not saying Umpire Dar was wrong, or even that Umpire Koertzen was always wrong, although I agree with Gideon's comments, I thought the decisions mentioned above could've/should've been given out. I'm just saying that, generally, if there was doubt in either umpire's mind, it went to the batsmen. As it should. It wasn't necessarily, "Nowhere near it mate!" It was often, "I'm just not sure..." The ball has moved a bit over the past two days. Being honest, if I were a bowler, I'd be more annoyed with Umpire Dar than Koertzen - Dar's moving just as you've started appealing, whereas Koertzen stands there and has a look, which would make me more confident that he's giving my appeals consideration. But maybe that's just me!

    On the Warne/Murali thing, if you want to read another novel, my opinion's under the Warne/McGrath category...

    Also, I'm quite aware that people from all round the cricketing world are posting here, and that English is not everybody's native tongue, but, just to help others out, could everyone please pay a little more attention to their spelling..? There are some posts around that I can't read... I understand that it may be hard to post when it's not your native tongue, it's easier to read it when it's spelled correctly - I imagine even more so when English isn't your first language!

  • Buffalo on December 27, 2006, 12:31 GMT

    I have watched a lot of international cricket over the pat 50 years both on TV and at the"G". I have been moved to post this as I feel all of the correspondents have missed the point about what makes Warne special. He plays to win, not protect his average or glean statistics. Anyone who has seen him in action will know he is not afraid to buy a wicket if it will deliver victory for his team. He does this repeatedly, Australia wins repestedly. So what if his average is only 25 and plenty of good bowlers have better. The teams he has played in have by far the best winning record in the history of cricket. Sure along the way there has been the odd loss, mediocre teams can create upsets in all forms of sport on rare occasions. It matters not that Murali, to name one great bowler amongst many, has a great personal record if his team cannot win most of the tests they play, his personal performance is of no value if it cannot deliver victory. Warne has singlehandedly engineered countless visctoris for Australia, possibly more than any player in the history of the game certainly more than any other spinner. That is his greatness, unselfish, unrelenting perserverance to the end!

  • ben on December 27, 2006, 12:20 GMT

    Use the bat - that's why you've got one. On the pads is out - gun them every time!

  • Darin on December 27, 2006, 11:58 GMT

    Of course Murali chucks. I'm just waiting for the first person to sue because they can't bowl with their arm raised above the shoulder. Then we can see underarm bowling again. If murali can;t straighten his arm, maybe he should be playing in some disabled team at the special olympics.

  • bazza on December 27, 2006, 11:55 GMT

    Why are people comparing Warne with other bowlers? Is it because all expert comment from both past and present players, critics and most of the cricketing public are acknowledging Warne as the grestest bowler of all time or at least the greatest bowler of the present time ahead of their own personal favourite? I have yet to see any reported comment from an expert over the past week that has rated any bowler the equal of Warne. Have any been published? If so where can I find them? Today Brian Lara, someone with enough ability and experience in international cricket to be considered a fair judge stated on international television "Warne is the best bowler I have played against" "he is the only bowler who would never give up trying and never accept he was bettered no matter how difficult the conditions" Lara has played plenty of cricket against all bowlers put up by various correspondents on this board and scored plenty of runs against all, including Warne. I think we can accept his opinion as being somewhat more valuable than our own and move on.

  • marcus on December 27, 2006, 11:28 GMT

    Dan, every day we entrust our lives to thousands of gadgets without ever knowing "how they work." For example, cars, planes, heart valves, computers and 'phones. Why should Hawkeye be any different? And sure it's accurate; at least as accurate as the umpires themselves. If it shows the ball just nicking the stumps, the umpires are still free to give it not out. As the whole Warne vs. Murali debate goes, I'll just say that Murali's at least as good an offspinner as Warne is as a leg-spinner.

  • Fanatic on December 27, 2006, 11:10 GMT

    I think the Socceroos will beat Oman and Thailand next year pretty easily thanks to Warnie!!!

  • Chris on December 27, 2006, 11:09 GMT

    When Wisden assembled exactly one hundred distinguished judges of the game for its 2000 edition and asked them to settle on five “Cricketers of the Century”, Shane Warne’s name was on that exalted list. In effect, the accolade named Warne as the greatest bowler of all time.

    Five years on and Warne stands as the all-time leading wicket-taker in Test matches. He has taken more wickets than Lillee and Thomson combined. Wisden in 2005 called him the leading cricketer in the world. Yet, if one delves beyond the never ending hype and looks at things from an objective perspective, there are grave doubts. Warne is hardly a bowling, or even a spinning, equivalent to Sir Donald Bradman. A detailed look at the statistics can do nothing but lead one to believe that Warne's unparalleled reputation is based more on style and charisma than genuine bowling substance. If the figures are to be trusted, Muttiah Muralitharan leaves Warne for dead and is easily the greatest spinner of our times.

    1) Warne has failed dismally against the best players of spin – India (43 wickets at 47.18). Murali has done far better against them (67 wickets at 32.47).

    2) Murali has a better average, strike rate, economy rate, and takes more wickets per match than Warne; despite the fact that Warne has not had to play against the world's best team.

    3) Murali has a better record against all countries, except Pakistan who effectively fielded a youth team on Warne’s most successful tour there.

    4) Murali is far more consistent. Warne has been known to be hit around occasionally and although Murali has previously been nullified to a degree, he has very rarely been smashed around the park.

    Warne 45 7 150 1 3.33 3rd Test v Ind in Aus 1991/92 at Sydney 22 2 107 0 4.86 1st Test v SL in SL 1992 at Colombo (SSC) 30 2 104 3 3.47 3rd Test v Pak in Pak 1994/95 at Lahore 30 7 122 1 4.07 1st Test v Ind in Ind 1997/98 at Chennai 42 4 147 0 3.50 2nd Test v Ind in Ind 1997/98 at Kolkata 15.5 2 70 1 4.42 3rd Test v WI in WI 1998/99 at Bridgetown 13 1 60 0 4.62 3rd Test v Ind in Aus 1999/00 at Sydney 34 3 152 1 4.47 2nd Test v Ind in Ind 2000/01 at Kolkata 42 7 140 2 3.33 3rd Test v Ind in Ind 2000/01 at Chennai 30 6 108 2 3.60 3rd Test v SA in SA 2001/02 at Durban 38 7 129 3 3.39 2nd Test v SL in Aus 2004 at Cairns 32 4 115 2 3.59 1st Test v Ind in Ind 2004/2005 at Nagpur 24 4 84 1 3.50 3rd Test v Pak in Aus 2004/05 at Sydney 19.2 2 77 1 3.98 3rd Test v WI in Aus 2005/06 at Adelaide 20 1 112 0 5.60 1st Test v BD in BD 2005/06 at Fatullah

    Murali 36 6 123 1 3.42 1st Test v Pak in SL 1994 at Colombo 20 2 83 2 4.15 2nd Test v Pak in Pak 1995/96 at Faisalabad 54 3 224 2 4.15 1st Test v Aus in Aus 1995/96 at Perth 33 6 136 0 4.12 1st Test v NZ in NZ 1996/97 at Dunedin 25 2 96 2 3.84 2nd Test v Ind in SL 2001 at Kandy 30 3 102 2 3.40 Only Test v Aus in Aus 2005/06 at Sydney 36 4 128 3 3.56 3rd Test v Ind in Ind 2005/06 at Ahmedabad

    5) Warne is part of a stronger bowling attack. If Warne was of equal ability to Murali he would take less wickets per match than Murali (because Australia have four good bowlers competing for wickets), but would have a lower average and strike rate (because greater pressure is exerted upon the batsman by the higher class Australian bowlers at the other end). For an example of this take two great fast bowlers, Marshall and Hadlee. Marshall had a better average because the other outstanding West Indian bowlers maintained penetration, but Hadlee took more wickets per match because there was less competition for them. However, Murali takes more wickets per match and has a lower average and strike rate, which suggests strongly that he is a class above the Australian. Furthermore, when McGrath does not play, Warne averages a Kumblesque 28, and Murali has never had a bowler of anything like McGrath's quality to call upon.

    6) A high proportion of Warne's test wickets are numbers 10 and 11 in the batting order; Murali does well against all batting positions. Of Shane Warne’s 704 Test victims, 36.9% have occupied numbers 8-11 in the batting order (the highest proportion among all bowlers with over 300 Test wickets), while the comparative figure for Murali is just 30.7% - a significant difference of 19.5%. And we all know it is far more valuable to be able to defeat players of high ability, because they can really make you suffer.

    7) Although Warne has been less effective since his shoulder injury, even at his peak (1993-97) he was not as effective as Murali has been this century.

    Mat O M R W Ave Best 5wi 10w SR Econ Murali 2000-2003 37 2347.3 684 4990 258 19.34 9-51 22 10 54.5 2.13 Warne 1993-97 57 2876.5 938 6457 277 23.31 8-71 11 3 62.3 2.24

    8) You could take a look at their respective records in the English county championship (correct to the end of the 2006 season):

    Mat Balls M R W Ave Best 5wi 10w SR Econ Murali 25 7695 391 2735 185 14.78 7-39 21 6 41.5 2.13 Warne 51 11837 423 5583 226 24.70 7-99 13 0 52.3 2.82

    9) Murali on top form is more devastating than Warne on top form.

    Best innings:

    9/51 M Muralitharan v Zimbabwe at Kandy, 2nd Test, 2001/02 9/65 M Muralitharan v England at The Oval, Only Test, 1998 8/46 M Muralitharan v West Indies at Kandy, 2nd Test 8/70 M Muralitharan v England at Trent Bridge, 3rd Test, 2006 8/71 SK Warne v England at Brisbane, 1st Test, 1994/95 8/87 M Muralitharan v India at Colombo (SSC), 3rd Test, 2001

    Best Series:

    Murali Sri Lanka in Pakistan, 1999/00 [Series] 3 213.1 516 26 6/71 19.84 2.42 49.1 1 1 South Africa in Sri Lanka, 2000 [Series] 3 227.4 480 26 7/84 18.46 2.10 52.5 3 1 Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka, 2001/02 [Series] 3 203.1 294 30 9/51 9.80 1.44 40.6 2 1 England in Sri Lanka, 2003/04 [Series] 3 231.4 320 26 7/46 12.30 1.38 53.4 1 1 Australia in Sri Lanka, 2003/04 [Series] 3 209.1 649 28 6/59 23.17 3.10 44.8 4 1 Sri Lanka in England, 2006 [Series] 3 146.2 405 24 8/70 16.87 2.76 36.5 2 2 Warne The Ashes (Aus/Eng) in England, 1993 [Series] 6 439.5 877 34 5/82 25.79 1.99 77.6 1 0 The Ashes (Aus/Eng) in Australia, 1994/95 [Series] 5 256.1 549 27 8/71 20.33 2.14 56.9 2 1 The Ashes (Aus/Eng) in England, 2001 [Series] 5 195.2 580 31 7/165 18.70 2.96 37.8 3 1 Australia v Pakistan Test Series in Sri Lanka/U.A.E., 2002/03 [Series] 3 124 342 27 7/94 12.66 2.75 27.5 2 1 Australia in Sri Lanka, 2003/04 [Series] 3 168 521 26 5/43 20.03 3.10 38.7 4 2 The Ashes (Aus/Eng) in England, 2005 [Series] 5 252.5 797 40 6/46 12/246 19.92 3.15 37.9 3 2

    10) One reason why Warne is rated so highly is Gatting’s reaction to the so called “ball of the century.” The shock that that ball sent through the cricketing world was immense because it was thought no one else could bowl that delivery. Actually, Warne was not the only one to bowl such a delivery in recent years, Abdul Qadir had bowled the same delivery a few years earlier, it just wasn’t highlighted at the time because it wasn't on such a big stage. Murali bowled similar balls which were every bit as good to both Sadgapan Ramesh and Mark Butcher a few years ago.

  • Jag on December 27, 2006, 11:06 GMT

    hi gideon, damn..if my comments to sudheer re warne/murali were a little personal...could u please post a censored version of my comments..i think the point that murali bowls more than warne even though hes played less tests is pretty important

  • Woppa on December 27, 2006, 10:36 GMT

    Isn't it a real shame that the fantastic Aussie tradition of a Boxing Day test match has no Aussie umpires like Simon Taufell (sorry about the spelling). Imagine growing up watching each MCG test as a kid, becoming an internationally elite umpire, & not being aloud to umpire at the Boxing Day test EVER!!!!! What a shame. I hope Rudi appreciates his opportunities

  • Jag on December 27, 2006, 10:31 GMT

    Sudheer:

    1. You can't compare zim/bang to england!! whatever england might be, they were certainly never as bad as those two 2. murali may have played 34 fewer tests but he has bowled 36705 balls to warne's 40315..that's 338 balls per test match for murali to warne's 281..which proves SL bowling is a murali-trick pony. 3. stats never tell the whole story. as michael holding says in the latest edition of cricinfo round table, murali can be a very defensive bowler, but warne has a capacity to turn around and keep trying, keep bowling even when he's getting hammered. adelaide is a case in point-no way aus would've won without warne there. brain lara has said that most slow bowlers will give up when its not happening for them, warne is demonic, he never does.

  • raj on December 27, 2006, 9:38 GMT

    Sudheer, well-spoken. But these guys just will ignore the valid point. I have made it over and over in Mr Heigh's comment section. he never acknowledges and continues to make sly remarks demeaning Murali's record. I dont know if this will be published.

    Why English? What about New Zealanders, South Africans and West Indians? They are all masters of spin, right? And that's why Warne's 400 wickets against them is an unmatched record, right?

    Aussie yobs will never acknowledge this point. Let me see if Mr Heigh does - I still dont think he is a typical Aussie yob yet.

  • Dan on December 27, 2006, 9:31 GMT

    Am all for technology helping out umpires if it isn't too time consuming. But Hawkeye, for example, do we really know how it works and whether it is in fact accurate? For a contentious lbw it might be necessary to use all three existing technologies ie hawkeye, snicko and hotspot. Just how long would that take? Agree with George; bad umpiring has been around as long as cricket has. Poor sods these days know about it instantly. As for the Warnie/Murali debate; there is no argument as far as I'm concerned. One bowls and the other throws. How many of Murali's wickets have come from his doosra, which is still thrown? Subtract his doosra wickets, then his Zimbabwe/Bangladesh ones. There aren't many left.

  • Kevin Longfellow on December 27, 2006, 9:31 GMT

    You can use stats to argue whether Murali is a better bowler than Warne - how many balls, quality of opposition, other wicket takers in the team, "home" test wickets, etc.

    However, in my mind, there is no comparison. Warne is a leg spin bowler. Murali "bowls" with a bent arm and has an unfair advantage over everyone else who keeps their arm straight.

    Not so long ago, the suggestion that Murali "bowled" with a bent arm was regarded as defamatory. Today, his "15 per cent" is acknowledged, but tolerated as within the revised definition of a legitimate delivery.

    Is Murali great at what he does? Yes. Is it bowling? In my opinion, no.

    On that basis, there can be no comparison between Warne and Murali.

  • Jag on December 27, 2006, 9:23 GMT

    hahahahahah what the hell is the point of a plan, leaked or not, if you cant do the bloody grade-cricket things right!!! Rarley saw a bouncer to symonds, a maiden to hayden or some slips for monty...ridiculous..hahahah

  • Luke on December 27, 2006, 8:36 GMT

    I would have thought that the problem can be solved fairly simply. Allow a captain (whether batting or bowling) three reviews each, each innings.

    In other words, as soon as an appeal is made for an LBW or a catch, allow the captain to ask the third umpire to review the decision on up to three occasions.

    This might waste five minutes, but surely it's preferable to the current setup where 20% of decisions are incorrect?

    Might I add that comparing Warne and Murali's statistics are moot. Most commentators who really know the game, including Richie Benaud and Bishan Bedi, pick Warne over Murali because they know, as anyone with honest common sense does, that Murali bowls in a manner which is unbecoming to the spirit of cricket. The ICC can change the laws of the game to appease a chucker, but I know from bowling in the nets - when I chuck the ball with my forearm and my wrist like Murali it spins a metre.

    Murali is a great human being and I love watching him bowl, but he is clearly, incontrivertibly, a chucker.

  • karl on December 27, 2006, 8:22 GMT

    To Gideon Haigh: This comment is long. I hope you post it since it is an important response to a previous post. Thank you.

    To Larry Guilfoyle: Let's take a rational view of the "chucking issue". The way the law was written at the time Murali was called, any flexion of the elbow during the delivery swing of the arm constituted a "no-ball". How do we determine whether flexion occurs? We make a measurement. Muralitharan's action was tested and a flexion of approximately 10 degrees was measured. Did Murali throw? Yes, he did. The ICC changed the throwing law. Did they change it to accommodate Murali? The answer is indeed: Yes. However the matter needs further investigation. As the biomechanists pointed out it is necessary to do a "control experiment". That is, measure the elbow flexion of bowler's whose actions are deemed legal. The ICC in their scientific naivete completely missed this. It was not until 2004 that the biomechanists were allowed to do this at the ICC tournament in England. There it was discovered that almost all bowlers bent their elbows to varying amounts. Bowlers with elbow straightening included McGrath and Gillespie. So now the ICC had the rather awkward position of deciding a limit to the allowed flexion. It was set at 15 degrees. The purported reason being that the throw becomes visible to the naked eye at 15 degrees. Some people argue that the limit was set to accommodate Murali. However any limit set between 0-15 degrees would just let in some bowlers while barring others. There are several problems that remain. One: Most measurements were done in the lab and not under match conditions. Murali may well flex his elbow more when bowling in a match. However this applies to all the other bowlers that were tested. You may well argue that the other bowlers were never called for throwing. However that argument is easily broken down. Given lab conditions many international bowlers straightened their elbows during delivery. It is possible that Murali was singled out because he has a permanent bend in his elbow. He cannot fully extend his elbow anyway. This has been well established by the biomechanists. The only other explanation would be that Murali sometimes straightens his elbow by a larger amount when bowling in a match. If this was so, then it could be argued that he was called on exactly such occasions. The matter can be settled by comparing video footage of the tests to that of the actual matches in which he was called. This was done by the ICC panel and they found no visible change in the action. This point of view that the umpires were correct in calling no-balls is not entirely consistent since it requires faith in the umpires ability to detect the flexion. But the same umpires have been oblivious to the approx. 10 degree flexion of the other bowlers over the years. So we can no longer trust the umpires to pick up elbow flexion with the naked eye. Unless the bowler bends his arm by a very large amount it is indeed difficult to detect flexion. The ideal solution would be to develop technology that would allow bowlers to tested during match play and monitor all bowlers. I have no idea if that is realistic. So when you say that Murali's action was "blatantly illegal" consistency requires that you find many other so called legitimate actions be called "blatantly illegal" as well. The laboratory reports have been published. If you prefer a more scientific approach to the problem than your own you may read them.

    As for the matter of Pakistan cheating. There was no evidence to prove that they did cheat. So you could well be wrong unless you can produce the evidence. However Darrel Hair by the laws of the game did not need to show evidence to take action. He was therefore justified in taking action based purely on his and his partner's judgement. So goes the law of the game. His removal from the elite panel is indeed questionable.

  • Ross on December 27, 2006, 7:45 GMT

    @Sudheer: And then take away all the wickets Murali has taken whilst chucking. Who has the better average then?

    @The rest: If an umpire makes a mistake, he is put under a miscroscoop with the newest technologies and ridiculed.Add to that the fact that if he does something that enrages the Asian part of world cricket, he is forced to quit. I think we should all have a little more respect for umpires.

  • Tim on December 27, 2006, 7:09 GMT

    And George, you don't have to go back to the Late Night Legends to see some dodgy umpiring. Take a look at any footage from Pakistand around the mid-1980s. You'll see the type of umpiring that inspired the introduction of neutral umpires.

  • Tim on December 27, 2006, 7:06 GMT

    Ye Gods Warne can't bowl in India and Murali is a bowling machine in Australia, where his average is over 60. It makes neither of them any the less of a bowler. It's just one of those anomalies that sport throws up now and again.

  • Alan on December 27, 2006, 5:17 GMT

    There are so many variables when comparing Warne and Murali. Warne does not have the advantage of bowling as much as Murali did on sub-continental wickets. Murali does not have the advantage that Warne had of the support of a very good pace attack that had already softened the opposition before he came on to bowl. Nor the support of a great fielding team. If Murali had Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to bowl to, Warne had England, a country notoriously weak against leg spin. If Murali played a lot more tests than Warne did against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to was not due to any fault of his. Warne’s abysmal record against India is often glossed over, if not entirely overlooked. History show that spinners have done well against India. It is not as if they are infallible against leg spin. Murali had the advantage of the laws being changed to accommodate his ‘doosra’. The fact that he was born with an elbow that could not be straightened has been taken into account when determining what a lawful delivery is. In our times of political correctness who is to say this is unfair or not. A court of law?

    Comparisons and statistics are part and parcel of cricket and that is what to some extent makes it such a fascinating game. However, at the same time one should not overly emphasis the statistical part of the game. If one needs evidence of this is to look at the batting averages of batsmen in test cricket in the last ten years or so. Can anyone think of any period of test cricket of so many batsmen who average 50 or more? Would it not be due to much shorter boundaries, better batting wickets and the inferior bowling than the quality of the batting?

    As for the standard of umpiring and Koertzen in particular, my argument is not to defend Koertzen but to discourage the farcical nonsense that we should abolish neutral umpires. Especially the touch of arrogance from Anglo–Australian quarters that Benson and Tuafel should be umpiring in this Ashes series. Gideon Haigh says that Koertzen has rejected five “good lbw shouts”. Except for the first Hayden decision, the others could have gone either way. It is easy to pass judgment when one sees the Hawkeye replays (and TV commentators often interpret these nears misses or ‘near’ hits to suit their own agenda). But in the other four other decisions the ball just landed on the leg stump or just clipped the stumps. You cannot hold it against the umpire when the ball just clips the bails, stumps, or just misses them by a whisker and the batsmen is then given out. The umpire has very little tine to make a decision. I agree with Karl who says that technology is “used exclusively to expose umpiring errors but never to help the umpire get it right. Bloody absurd.”

  • huyen on December 27, 2006, 4:53 GMT

    that koertzen turned down three appeals from the australians is only because the international playing field has been levelled somewhat after a storm of protests. time was when all a zooter, hooter, footer from warne had to do was hit the pad and out would come the finger to much cheerleading from the channel 9 commentators. meanwhile, ponting was revolutionising batting techinque by plonking his foot down - he was miraculously immune to lbw's. way to go, rudi.

  • geoff on December 27, 2006, 4:14 GMT

    Its easier for murali, as warnie has had to compete for wickets with mcgrath, gillespie, mcdermott, mcgill and brett lee..... who does murali have to take wickets away from him... and he bowls for almost an entire innings.... and the rules of the game were changed to allow him to continue playing... Warnie stands along atop the mountain... I am an englishman, and I will miss shane warne far more than the retirement of any english cricketer... thanks for the memories shane...

  • s on December 27, 2006, 2:01 GMT

    in reply to sudheer ravindra, discounting murali's wickets against bangladesh and zimbabwe is a fair call in the aspect of only counting quality sides. england is a quality side and will always be counted as they actually do win series against other countries and have dones so since they began playing international cricket. if you want to get padantic and actually count murali's such wickets against weaker sides you must also consider counting warnes wickets in first class cricket in australia and potentially english county cricket as many of these sides are on the same skill level, if not better in many cases, than national teams like zimbabwe and bangladesh that you wish to count in murali's total wicket count.

  • George on December 27, 2006, 0:22 GMT

    Check out the highlights of old matches now being shown on "Late Night Legends" on ABC2 if you want to see bad umpiring. I don't know if umpiring has necessarily got worse. I think it's more that bad umpires are not being weeded out, while good umpires who refuse to participate in affirmative racism programs for shameless cheats are being weeded out.

  • Sudheer Ravindra on December 26, 2006, 23:24 GMT

    Every article comparing Warne to Murali make's it a point to bring up the fact that 137 of Murali's wickets have come against a weaker Bangladesh / Zimbabwe side. I suppose it would be unfair to discount Warne's 191 wickets against the English - given that the English are quality players of spin. Also forgotten is the fact that Murali has played 34 fewer tests. For anyone comparing the two bowlers one just needs to look at their records against each of the supposed 'top level' test playing countries. Barring Pakistan (and against England on strike rate), Murali has a better record on wickets per match, average and strike rate. May be the better comparision would be to look at their respective records against India!

  • Larry Guilfoyle on December 26, 2006, 22:58 GMT

    We had the rules changed and the umpire pilloried for making a correct decision about a bowlers blatently illegal action. The same umpire in conjunction with his collegue was hung, drawn and quartered for making a correct decision when a team was cheating! The poor old umpy's are probably too bloody scared of the ICC mafia to be consistent with their decision making. Anyway isn't benefit of the doubt supposed to go to the batter? Wouldn't we rather have a close LBW turned down than have a plethora of batters heading back to the pavilion on dodgy LBW's?

  • karl on December 26, 2006, 22:17 GMT

    Haigh asks all the right questions. To say that umpires are only human is indeed a fatuity. The ICC needs to do something to decrease umpiring mistakes. It took 10 years to sought out the "throwing" issue because the ICC were slow to react and naive when it eventually did something. In cricket there will always be good and bad umpires, in-form and out-of-form umpires. One way to introduce more uniformity is by making better use of available technology. Take runouts. These days all runout decisions are correct because we look at slow motion replays. People say that Koertzen was wrong having watched the replays. Why on earth then, do we not use the replays to make the decision? These days the television replays complete with "Snikometer", "Hotspot", and "Hawkeye" are used exclusively to expose umpiring errors but never to help the umpire get it right. Bloody absurd.

  • Sundhar Ram on December 26, 2006, 19:10 GMT

    Right on mate! Rudi got a couple more wrong today. And, another very important reason why spinners will end up with more wickets is the fitness fator. Fast bowling takes a toll on your body, while, spin is relatively less stressfull.

  • Karthik on December 26, 2006, 18:13 GMT

    Rudi is soon becoming another Bucknor. However if the ICC really cares, then instead of aiding these umpiring errors to become forums to criticzie the umpires by turning a blind eye to the matter, they should do something about it. There is no point in saying to err is human. It is true when you can do nothing about it. Not the case in professional sport when 90,000 people in the ground, a few million around the world, and in most cases the 2 batters and the 11 men on the field know that you are wrong. What makes it worse is you have a gaint screen that shows you in seconds what a fool you made yourself to be. It should not have been a greast feeling for Rudi after seeing the gaint screen, telling Hoggard whatever stupid explanation he gave. Why cant the 3rd upmire or the match refree intervene when there is a wrong decision given. If that is going to take too much time, then HELLO... we have a problem. If the ICC thinks that this interference from booth is going to take too much time or cause too many inteuruptions.. then that begs the question... How many bad decisions are really given?? If that is not the case then isnt the 3rd umpire and match refree acting more like an spectator who gets paid to watch a game from a very cozy booth?

  • Syed Ahsan Ali on December 26, 2006, 16:11 GMT

    I am 100% agree about Rudi Koertzen, but not with Haigh's comment that he is out of form.He is not out of form, but what he is displaying is perfectly natural.He is highly inconsistent and highly overrated umpire. Start observing from today.You will find him making errors far more accuratley than adjudging things rightly.He is not an elite as far as umpiring is concerned.

  • S on December 26, 2006, 14:58 GMT

    I am an Australian, and have to agree with your comments regarding Koertzen's umpiring in a previous entry. Regardless of whether the incorrect decisions have been of significance, there can be no doubt that his umpiring has not been up to scratch in this series.

  • Shawry on December 26, 2006, 13:35 GMT

    Gideon

    I have taken the liberty of solving the LBW dilemma once and for all. Eliminating the controversy surrounding decisions, was it too high, down leg, pitching outside leg, hitting outside the line, playing a shot, etc etc etc. It was quite simple really.

    Make everybody bat in short pants and ban any form of leg protection. You don't want to get hit, use the bat. You protect the stumps with your legs, get out retired hurt anyway. Won't help the slow bowlers as much, but I'm certain a Warne flipper at mid 90's will leave a mark!

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  • Shawry on December 26, 2006, 13:35 GMT

    Gideon

    I have taken the liberty of solving the LBW dilemma once and for all. Eliminating the controversy surrounding decisions, was it too high, down leg, pitching outside leg, hitting outside the line, playing a shot, etc etc etc. It was quite simple really.

    Make everybody bat in short pants and ban any form of leg protection. You don't want to get hit, use the bat. You protect the stumps with your legs, get out retired hurt anyway. Won't help the slow bowlers as much, but I'm certain a Warne flipper at mid 90's will leave a mark!

  • S on December 26, 2006, 14:58 GMT

    I am an Australian, and have to agree with your comments regarding Koertzen's umpiring in a previous entry. Regardless of whether the incorrect decisions have been of significance, there can be no doubt that his umpiring has not been up to scratch in this series.

  • Syed Ahsan Ali on December 26, 2006, 16:11 GMT

    I am 100% agree about Rudi Koertzen, but not with Haigh's comment that he is out of form.He is not out of form, but what he is displaying is perfectly natural.He is highly inconsistent and highly overrated umpire. Start observing from today.You will find him making errors far more accuratley than adjudging things rightly.He is not an elite as far as umpiring is concerned.

  • Karthik on December 26, 2006, 18:13 GMT

    Rudi is soon becoming another Bucknor. However if the ICC really cares, then instead of aiding these umpiring errors to become forums to criticzie the umpires by turning a blind eye to the matter, they should do something about it. There is no point in saying to err is human. It is true when you can do nothing about it. Not the case in professional sport when 90,000 people in the ground, a few million around the world, and in most cases the 2 batters and the 11 men on the field know that you are wrong. What makes it worse is you have a gaint screen that shows you in seconds what a fool you made yourself to be. It should not have been a greast feeling for Rudi after seeing the gaint screen, telling Hoggard whatever stupid explanation he gave. Why cant the 3rd upmire or the match refree intervene when there is a wrong decision given. If that is going to take too much time, then HELLO... we have a problem. If the ICC thinks that this interference from booth is going to take too much time or cause too many inteuruptions.. then that begs the question... How many bad decisions are really given?? If that is not the case then isnt the 3rd umpire and match refree acting more like an spectator who gets paid to watch a game from a very cozy booth?

  • Sundhar Ram on December 26, 2006, 19:10 GMT

    Right on mate! Rudi got a couple more wrong today. And, another very important reason why spinners will end up with more wickets is the fitness fator. Fast bowling takes a toll on your body, while, spin is relatively less stressfull.

  • karl on December 26, 2006, 22:17 GMT

    Haigh asks all the right questions. To say that umpires are only human is indeed a fatuity. The ICC needs to do something to decrease umpiring mistakes. It took 10 years to sought out the "throwing" issue because the ICC were slow to react and naive when it eventually did something. In cricket there will always be good and bad umpires, in-form and out-of-form umpires. One way to introduce more uniformity is by making better use of available technology. Take runouts. These days all runout decisions are correct because we look at slow motion replays. People say that Koertzen was wrong having watched the replays. Why on earth then, do we not use the replays to make the decision? These days the television replays complete with "Snikometer", "Hotspot", and "Hawkeye" are used exclusively to expose umpiring errors but never to help the umpire get it right. Bloody absurd.

  • Larry Guilfoyle on December 26, 2006, 22:58 GMT

    We had the rules changed and the umpire pilloried for making a correct decision about a bowlers blatently illegal action. The same umpire in conjunction with his collegue was hung, drawn and quartered for making a correct decision when a team was cheating! The poor old umpy's are probably too bloody scared of the ICC mafia to be consistent with their decision making. Anyway isn't benefit of the doubt supposed to go to the batter? Wouldn't we rather have a close LBW turned down than have a plethora of batters heading back to the pavilion on dodgy LBW's?

  • Sudheer Ravindra on December 26, 2006, 23:24 GMT

    Every article comparing Warne to Murali make's it a point to bring up the fact that 137 of Murali's wickets have come against a weaker Bangladesh / Zimbabwe side. I suppose it would be unfair to discount Warne's 191 wickets against the English - given that the English are quality players of spin. Also forgotten is the fact that Murali has played 34 fewer tests. For anyone comparing the two bowlers one just needs to look at their records against each of the supposed 'top level' test playing countries. Barring Pakistan (and against England on strike rate), Murali has a better record on wickets per match, average and strike rate. May be the better comparision would be to look at their respective records against India!

  • George on December 27, 2006, 0:22 GMT

    Check out the highlights of old matches now being shown on "Late Night Legends" on ABC2 if you want to see bad umpiring. I don't know if umpiring has necessarily got worse. I think it's more that bad umpires are not being weeded out, while good umpires who refuse to participate in affirmative racism programs for shameless cheats are being weeded out.

  • s on December 27, 2006, 2:01 GMT

    in reply to sudheer ravindra, discounting murali's wickets against bangladesh and zimbabwe is a fair call in the aspect of only counting quality sides. england is a quality side and will always be counted as they actually do win series against other countries and have dones so since they began playing international cricket. if you want to get padantic and actually count murali's such wickets against weaker sides you must also consider counting warnes wickets in first class cricket in australia and potentially english county cricket as many of these sides are on the same skill level, if not better in many cases, than national teams like zimbabwe and bangladesh that you wish to count in murali's total wicket count.