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October 24, 2008

Trivia - bowling

Bowlers doing it all on their own

Anantha Narayanan

After a series of heavy articles involving parameters, weightings, extensive calculations, spirited arguments etc., I have taken a leaf out of my fellow contributors. I have considered a single topic and woven a simple article around it.

I must thank David Barry for giving me the idea. In his article he has mentioned "Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who often aimed for the pads or stumps". I myself have expressed similar views earlier. Then I started thinking about doing an article on similar lines. Let us see to what extent the Ws (and others) succeeded at taking care of the batsman by themselves. It is possible that this article has been done elsewhere but mine is a different interpretation and hopefully will bring in a fresh insight.

Let me add that individual dismissal type tables are available in Cricinfo using Statsguru. I have used my data to create composite tables and also sequence by % of total rather than by absolute numbers. I extended the scope of the analysis to bowlers who got wickets by bowling batsmen, getting them out leg-before, take return catches and the rare instances of hitting the wicket. These dismissals do not involve another player.

As usual I have to have a cut-off. I have selected 150 wickets, knowing fully well that there would be protests, since a reasonable number of wickets are

needed to get the comparisons going properly. This represents a career of 30-40 matches, the minimum needed for a meaningful comparison. The lowering from

200 also enables me to get a few interesting bowlers such as Shoaib Akhtar, Terry Alderman and Ramadhin.

However, rest assured. The others have not been forgotten. At the end of the article, I have two tables, one specifically for pre-WW2, with a lower cut-off

of 100 wickets and another one post-WW2, those who have captured between 100 and 150 wickets. So everyone should be happy.

With this 150 wickets cut-off, there are 80 bowlers. With no further ado, let us move on to the tables. First let me emphasize that these tables do not rate

the bowlers in any way since we are only looking at the type of dismissals. Coming on top does not mean that the bowler is a better bowler than one who is

35th.

First the composite table incorporating all the four forms of dismissals.

Table of wickets captured through bowler's own efforts

No Bowler Type Cty Mat Wkts Bow LBW C&B Total %

1.Ramadhin S ROB Win 43 158 62 29 6 97 61.4 2.Lindwall R.R RF Aus 61 228 98 31 6 135 59.2 3.Waqar Younis RFM Pak 87 373 102 110 6 218 58.4 4.Statham J.B RFM Eng 70 252 102 42 2 146 57.9 5.Shoaib Akhtar RF Pak 46 178 64 35 4 103 57.9 6.Tate M.W RFM Eng# 39 155 59 25 3 87 56.1 7.Wasim Akram LFM Pak 104 414 102 119 5 226 54.6 8.Alderman T.M RFM Aus 41 170 25 58 3 86 50.6 9.Imran Khan RF Pak 88 362 96 80 5 181 50.0 10.Garner J RF Win 58 259 69 57 3 129 49.8 ... ... ... 76.Bishop I.R RF Win 43 161 26 17 3 46 28.6 77.Hughes M.G RF Aus 53 212 23 32 5 60 28.3 78.Bedi B.S LSP Ind 67 266 49 16 10 75 28.2 79.Ntini M RF Saf 91 358 68 23 5 96 26.8 80.Kallis J.H RFM Saf 123 240 32 25 3 60 25.0

Note: # indicates Career finished before 1940.

It is a surprise to see spinner at the top. The mystery bowler, Sonny Ramadhin has captured an amazing 60+% of his wickets through his own efforts. More on

this later.

I expected Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram in the next 2 positions. However they are in 3rd and 7th positions respectively. Surprisingly the second and fourth

positions are filled by two great players of the 50/60s, Lindwall and Statham. Christopher Martin-Jenkins talks about both bowlers being fast, accurate and

able to swing the ball either way.

However to compensate, Shoaib Akhtar, the other great Pakistani fast bowler, completes the top 5. The Pakistani quartet dominates the top-10 since Imran Khan

is also in that group.

The surprise package, please do not jump on me, is Brian Statham. He is, again, an under-rated top-class bowler. He and Lindwall are on top because of their

accuracy while I feel, the four Pakistani bowlers are there because they were faster, but equally accurate. Waqar Younis' in-swinging yorkers and Wasim

Akram's ability to get the ball in at will are well known. Shoaib Akhtar's searing pace must have breached many a batsman's defence. It is possible that

reverse-swing also has played a part.

Ramadhin is the only spinner in the Top-10.

At the end we have two South African current pace bowlers and Bedi, the great Indian spinner. More about them in the next tables.

To view the complete table, please click here.

Now let us take a look at the table which combines the two most direct forms of bowler dismissals, viz., Bowled and LBW.

Table of wickets: Bowled & LBW

No Bowler Type Cty Mat Wkts Bow LBW Tot %

1.Ramadhin S ROB Win 43 158 62 29 91 57.6 2.Statham J.B RFM Eng 70 252 102 42 144 57.1 3.Waqar Younis RFM Pak 87 373 102 110 212 56.8 4.Lindwall R.R RF Aus 61 228 98 31 129 56.6 5.Shoaib Akhtar RF Pak 46 178 64 35 99 55.6 6.Tate M.W RFM Eng# 39 155 59 25 84 54.2 7.Wasim Akram LFM Pak 104 414 102 119 221 53.4 8.Alderman T.M RFM Aus 41 170 25 58 83 48.8 9.Imran Khan RF Pak 88 362 96 80 176 48.6 10.Garner J RF Win 58 259 69 57 126 48.6

Note: # indicates Career finished before 1940.

There is very little change to the sequence of the first table, except that Statham and Waqar Younis move ahead of Lindwall.

Now let us see two individual tables, one on Bowled and the other on LBW.

Table of wickets - "Bowled"

No Bowler Type Cty Mat Wkts Bow %

1.Lindwall R.R RF Aus 61 228 98 43.0 2.Statham J.B RFM Eng 70 252 102 40.5 3.Ramadhin S ROB Win 43 158 62 39.2 4.Tate M.W RFM Eng# 39 155 59 38.1 5.Shoaib Akhtar RF Pak 46 178 64 36.0 6.Barnes S.F RFM Eng# 27 189 68 36.0 7.Hall W.W RF Win 48 192 65 33.9 8.Trueman F.S RF Eng 67 307 103 33.6 9.Holding M.A RF Win 60 249 81 32.5 10.Bedser A.V RFM Eng 51 236 70 29.7 ... ... ... 74.Pollock S.M RFM Saf 108 421 59 14.0 75.McGrath G.D RFM Aus 124 563 76 13.5 76.Kallis J.H RFM Saf 123 240 32 13.3 77.Vettori D.L LSP Nzl 84 266 32 12.0 78.Harbhajan Singh ROB Ind 71 299 35 11.7 79.Hughes M.G RF Aus 53 212 23 10.8 80.Vaas WPUJC LFM Slk 107 348 37 10.6

Note: # indicates Career finished before 1940.

The Bowled list is led by bowlers of the 50s/60s/30s. Shoaib Akhtar is the leading current bowler. Lindwall and Statham have had over 40% of their wickets

through the Bowled route. Does this indicate a lower degree of defensive batting skills during the 50s/60s? Readers might have their own comments. Ramadhin

has bamboozled the batsmen to the extent of capturing nearly 40% of his victims in this manner. Very unlike a spinner.

In this classifification, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan drop out of the Top 10.

At the other end we have two great recent fast bowlers. Note the very low Bowled % of Pollock and McGrath. Also remember where Vaas is, right at the bottom.

But wait for the next table.

Table of wickets - "LBW"

No Bowler Type Cty Mat Wkts LBW %

1.Alderman T.M RFM Aus 41 170 58 34.1 2.Waqar Younis RFM Pak 87 373 110 29.5 3.Wasim Akram LFM Pak 104 414 119 28.7 4.Vaas WPUJC LFM Slk 107 348 98 28.2 5.Hoggard M.J RFM Eng 67 248 65 26.2 6.Kapil Dev N RFM Ind 131 434 110 25.3 7.Kumble A RLB Ind 131 616 155 25.2 8.Gillespie J.N RFM Aus 71 259 59 22.8 9.Streak H.H RFM Zim 65 216 48 22.2 10.Imran Khan RF Pak 88 362 80 22.1 ... ... ... 76.Gibbs L.R ROB Win 79 309 21 6.8 77.Davidson A.K LFM Aus 44 186 12 6.5 78.Ntini M RF Saf 91 358 23 6.4 79.Barnes S.F RFM Eng# 27 189 12 6.3 80.Bedi B.S LSP Ind 67 266 16 6.0

Note: # indicates Career finished before 1940.

This table is led by Alderman who captured over a third of his dismissals through the LBW route. Who can forget his debut series during 1981 in England.

This table confirms the premise we started with. Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram found the batsmen's pads much more often than anyone else, barring one. To be

precise, nearly 30% of their successful efforts. One with his toe-splitting inswinging yorkers and the other one with his deadly coming in delivery et al. To

think that these two bowled in tandem for most of their careers! Have a quiet moment of sympathy for the non-Pakistani batsmen of the 90s. Towards the end

Akhtar also got in.

Vaas is a revelation: he was last in the Bowled table, but here he is fourth. He is also similar to Wasim Akram, bringing the ball in viciously, albiet at a

slightly lower pace. The forgotten Hoggard comes in next. The next one is a welcome addition of Kapil Dev, taking a quarter of his dismissals through Lbw.

Then Kumble, with his accurate wicket-to-wicket line.

At the other end, we have Bedi propping the table. A very low proportion of 6%. Most of his victims were catches, close and outfield. It should not be

surprising to see Ntini at the bottom. With his wide-of-the-crease deliveries, his chances of picking up Lbw decisions was quite low.

I have deliberately stayed away from further breaking these numbers into Home-Away, because I feel there will be uncharitable remarks on Home LBWs. These are

all great bowlers and do not deserve any negative comments. Anyway, Imran led the crusade for neutral umpires and for quite some time now the umpiring

mistakes are genuine errors or due to incompetence and cannot be attributed to any other ulterior motive.

To view the table of Post-WW2 bowlers (100-150 wkts), please click here.

To view the table of Pre-WW2 bowlers, please click here.

This opens up a few interesting areas of observation.

  • The top-10 has a lone spinner, Ramadhin, who incidentally leads the table. Ramadhin, with his unusual action and delivery, cleverly mixing off breaks and

    leg breaks, achieved over 60% of his dismissals in a direct manner. Possibly Mendis comes close to him, although these are early days.

  • The Top-10 has Ramadhin and nine other pacemen. Although spinners come in subsequently (6 out of the top 20). Do we conclude that hitting the stumps and

    pads (successfully) is a pace bowlers' domain?

  • Is there a role played by drop or increase in batsmen's defensive technical abilities.
  • Have the Lbw laws played a part. Some of this may be revealed when I complete my period-based analysis.
  • An interesting sidelight is that two of the most successful recent bowlers, McGrath and Pollock are way down in the list.
  • Zaheer Khan is steadily moving up the Lbw table. Early days, but Ishant Sharma could be there in the top quarter of this table, with his speed and

    reverse swinging skills.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Posted by Sachidananda Bhat on (November 7, 2008, 6:41 GMT)

I would like to draw attention to the fact that Caught and Bowled is an effort worth mentioning and it would have been greater if you could have analyzed that too. Because, caught and bowled will also rank as one of the most satisfying dismissals a bowler imparts and it also is an effort by the bowler himself. Just an afterthought. Hope u do agree.

Posted by Naval Patel on (November 2, 2008, 12:23 GMT)

Reply to Nikappa - comment of 25 Oct. Pre 1937 the LBW Law did indeed require the ball to pitch in line with the stumps for an OUT decision to be granted. The version you quote operated between 1938 and 1980.

Posted by Unni on (October 30, 2008, 4:04 GMT)

I sat through to complete your post on the first hour of a working day !! Very interesting. I have one comment, though. Just like the LBW wickets (where bowl swings in) are counted for bowler's direct skill, the caught-by-keeper wickets(where ball swings out) also should be counted. (Any decent keeper should get hold of the edges without much effort !!!)

How about a post on its compliment? i.e Percentage of wickets through catches (by keeper/others)?

Posted by Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on (October 29, 2008, 19:17 GMT)

Very imaginative.... I really like your column

Posted by Aswin Kini M.K. on (October 29, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

Hi Ananth, nice analysis! I would be very happy if you could bring out the list of top 10 batsmen in Tests/ODIs by using their innings average(Average that divides the total number of runs scored/innings taken, excluding the not outs). I would like to see how batsmen stand in this regard. Although, I am sure that Bradman will top the list with an average of a shade over 83, it would be interesting to see the other batsmen.

Posted by Engle on (October 28, 2008, 13:59 GMT)

As an aside, has there ever been a list of bowlers ranked by the average of their victims ? This is done by accumulating their victims average and dividing by the number of dismissals.

This would indicate the bowlers quality of victims. For example, a bowler who only gets Ponting, Kallis and Tendulkar out would have a higher 'quality' average (50+) than one who gets tail-enders out.

Posted by Anand on (October 28, 2008, 4:16 GMT)

Hi Ananth:

Good analysis once again. I guess fast bowlers whose stock ball is the one that comes in to right handers are likely to get more bowled and lbw. I guess if Irfan Pathan had lived up to his initial promise, he would have been a candidate with large percentage of bowleds and lbws.

Posted by Dawood on (October 28, 2008, 3:28 GMT)

The most amazing Duo of Bowling, were the 2Ws. The number of Wickets they took together, the way they took them, is a cherishable Memory. Now just imagine both played for the same side, at the same time. There is no doubt that they would have got more wickets, all by them selves, or the other way round, if they had played seperately. i would Love to see Stats for the Best Duo's of all time as well as of Those Match winners who took the right wickets at the right time to change the comlexion of the game.

Posted by markc on (October 27, 2008, 7:24 GMT)

The only true way of finding which bowler gets the most 'own' dismissals would be to include those caught behind and those caught at 1st/2nd slip as that is where bowlers are trying to get there dismissals. I've seen plenty of short wide balls that have been bottom edged back onto the stumps thus giving the bowler a Bowled to his name, not a true indication i wouldn't of thought. Also, what are the figures for actual bolwed,Lbw and C&B in the sub-continent compared to say australia where most dismissals are caught behind the wicket?

Posted by Nikappa on (October 25, 2008, 17:18 GMT)

Naval ,

I dont think the lbw law during Tate's time required the ball to pitch in line with the stumps. You might be refering to deliberate padding without intending to play. A batsman could be given out only if the ball struck in line with the stumps (and ofcourse not pitched outside legstump ) regardless of whether the batsman attempted a legitimate shot or not. This law was finally altered in 1980 so that a batsman could be given out if he padded up and the umpire thought it would have gone on to hit the stumps

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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