Trivia - bowling November 19, 2008

Analysing the 'who' and 'when' of ODI spells

After a couple of rather heavy Test articles, I have reverted to ODIs, that too bowling, an area which tends to be neglected

After a couple of rather heavy Test articles, I have reverted to ODIs, that too bowling, an area which tends to be neglected. Also a simpler post which would make for easier reading.

Let us compare two bowling innspells. (We again renew our acquaintance with the term "innspell" which indicates the complete bowling effort in a single innings by a bowler.)

G.A.Mcgrath   7.0-4-15-7
A.D.Mullally  8.0-1-18-4 

McGrath's first innspell contained the "priceless" scalps of Jan-Berrie Burger, Morne Karg, Danie Keulder, Gavin Murgatroyd, Deon Kotze, Louis Burger and Bjorn Kotze, Namibian batsmen who would find it difficult to get into the Tamil Nadu, Victoria or Surrey state/county teams.

The batsmen who Mullally dismissed in the second innspell are Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn, all for low scores. There is no doubt which is, by far, the more outstanding innspell.

This article analyses ODI bowling innspells from the point of view of "who" was dismissed and more relevantly, "when" was he dismissed. Let me say at the outset that this article is not to determine the best ODI innspells ever, in which case I have to take into account the bowling accuracy, result, match status, match importance and quality of opposition (in a summary form).

We only look at the wickets captured by the bowlers. Who was dismissed credits the bowler with the appropriate batting measure of the batsmen dismissed. (Viv Richards is better than Ponting who incidentally is better than Herschelle Gibbs who in turn is better than Shiv Chanderpaul and so on.) The point is that, at any stage in the innings, it is important to capture Sachin Tendulkar's wicket. I am sure a reader will point to a dismissal of Tendulkar in the 50th over and argue that the wicket is not valuable. I accept that. However I am talking of most matches.

When was the batsman dismissed is the other equally (or probably more) important factor. It is important to dismiss Tendulkar; it is more important to dismiss him sooner than later. Any dismissal below the batting average is good. The lower the batsman score at the time of dismissal the better it would be for the bowling team.

The measures used are equally simple. For the first, who was dismissed, I give credit to the bowler to the extent of the runs per innings value, since that is the fairest of measures. I seriously thought of ODI Batting Index, already presented and discussed in an earlier article. But the big problem of lower strike-rates during the early years is a deterring factor and decade level adjustments make the work quite complex. Batting average tends to favour those with high number of not-outs. Hence runs per innings seem to be the appropriate measure.

The when situation is addressed in an equally simple manner. Credit is given only if the batsman is dismissed for below the batting average (yes, this time we use the more relevant batting average measure). The extent of credit is the difference between the batsman score and batting average. The higher this factor is, the lower the batsman has been dismissed for. The added advantage of using the batting average is that a higher credit can be given for a very low score (0-5) dismissal of a top batsman.

The other important decision is only to consider the wickets 1-8. Lower-order wickets will only distort the overall picture and place more importance on the number of wickets than the quality of wickets. Of course, there may be situations in close matches where lower-order wickets are crucial. Again, my analysis is a limited one covering only the quality of wickets taken.

Readers might ask, why 1-8 and not 1-7 or 1-9. Just to strengthen this point I did a quixotic analysis of the No. 8 batting position of qualifying ODI innings (in all 3907). The results are fascinating. The average batting average of the batsmen who batted at No. 8 is a fairly high 17.80 and the highest is Bevan (53.58). Also 547 (14%) of these no.8 innings have been played by batsmen with batting average exceeding 25.00. This is mainly because many fine allrounders such as Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener, Wasim Akram, Shahid Afridi, Chris Cairns et al have often batted at No. 8. Also one pinch-hitter at the top forces a top batsman into the position. Hence my decision to consider batting positions 1-8.

I have considered bowlers who have taken four wickets and above. I have lowered the cut-off to four wickets since there are quite a few cases of a bowler taking four top-order wickets. Even with this cut-off, there are 1075 instances. When required, batting averages are tweaked to take care of the low matches played (below 25).

An aside. We have already seen that Bevan (53.58) is the best batsmen to have batted at No. 8. Richards (yes, the great Viv with an average of 47.00) once batted at no.9. Klusener (41.10) once adorned the No. 10 position and the outstanding Salim Malik (32.89) once came in last. These are only aberrations. Richards was run-out and Saleem Malik remained not out.

After this fairly long introduction, let us look at the top 20 performances. This analysis covers matches upto the second ODI between India and England. Two four-wicket innspells were performed in this match, one each by Yuvraj Singh and Broad.

No Bowler          Year MtNo For-Opp Top Dis TopPts DisPts TotPts

1.Waqar Younis 2001 1724 Pak-Eng 7 7 185.17 172.96 358.13 10.0-0-36-7 1. Trescothick M.E 0 [Rpi:35.53] (Avg:37.37 - +37.37) 2. Knight N.V 9 [Rpi:36.36] (Avg:40.40 - +31.40) 3. Stewart A.J 18 [Rpi:28.87] (Avg:31.60 - +13.60) 4. Vaughan M.P 2 [Rpi:23.88] (Avg:27.15 - +25.15) 5. Shah O.A 3 [Rpi:24.67] (Avg:27.75 - +24.75) 6. Collingwood P.D 0 [Rpi:27.29] (Avg:34.69 - +34.69) 8. Cork D.G 4 [Rpi: 8.57] (Avg:10.00 - + 6.00)

2.Vaas WPUJC 2001 1776 Slk-Zim 7 7 169.77 173.24 343.01 8.0-3-19-8 1. Ebrahim D.D 0 [Rpi:18.99] (Avg:20.61 - +20.61) 2. Flower G.W 1 [Rpi:30.83] (Avg:33.69 - +32.69) 3. Carlisle S.V 16 [Rpi:25.61] (Avg:27.68 - +11.68) 4. Flower A 0 [Rpi:32.63] (Avg:35.34 - +35.34) 5. Wishart C.B 6 [Rpi:20.96] (Avg:23.23 - +17.23) 7. Taibu T 0 [Rpi:22.24] (Avg:27.39 - +27.39) 8. Streak H.H 0 [Rpi:18.51] (Avg:28.30 - +28.30)

3.Aaqib Javed 1991 0685 Pak-Ind 7 6 196.25 144.32 340.57 10.0-1-37-7 1. Shastri R.J 15 [Rpi:24.28] (Avg:29.05 - +14.05) 2. Sidhu N.S 21 [Rpi:34.76] (Avg:37.09 - +16.09) 3. Manjrekar S.V 52 [Rpi:28.49] (Avg:33.23) 4. Azharuddin M 0 [Rpi:30.45] (Avg:36.92 - +36.92) 5. Tendulkar S.R 0 [Rpi:40.20] (Avg:44.34 - +44.34) 7. Kapil Dev N 8 [Rpi:19.11] (Avg:23.79 - +15.79) 8. Prabhakar M 7 [Rpi:18.96] (Avg:24.13 - +17.13)

4.Collins P.T 2005 2212 Win-Aus 5 4 172.51 140.48 312.99 10.0-1-43-5 1. Clarke M.J 21 [Rpi:32.88] (Avg:42.47 - +21.47) 2. Hayden M.L 3 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +40.81) 3. Ponting R.T 0 [Rpi:38.06] (Avg:43.24 - +43.24) 5. Lehmann D.S 4 [Rpi:30.48] (Avg:38.96 - +34.96) 6. Katich S.M 76 [Rpi:31.52] (Avg:35.78)

5.Bond S.E 2003 1986 Nzl-Aus 6 6 167.65 143.88 311.53 10.0-2-23-6 1. Gilchrist A.C 18 [Rpi:34.48] (Avg:35.89 - +17.89) 2. Hayden M.L 1 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +42.81) 3. Ponting R.T 6 [Rpi:38.06] (Avg:43.24 - +37.24) 4. Martyn D.R 31 [Rpi:29.37] (Avg:40.81 - + 9.81) 7. Hogg G.B 0 [Rpi:12.15] (Avg:20.26 - +20.26) 8. Harvey I.J 2 [Rpi:14.02] (Avg:17.88 - +15.88)

6.Waqar Younis 2001 1725 Pak-Aus 5 4 169.03 137.11 306.14 8.0-0-59-6 2. Waugh M.E 0 [Rpi:36.02] (Avg:39.35 - +39.35) 3. Hayden M.L 0 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +43.81) 4. Bevan M.G 5 [Rpi:35.27] (Avg:53.58 - +48.58) 5. Waugh S.R 56 [Rpi:26.28] (Avg:32.91) 7. Symonds A 35 [Rpi:31.89] (Avg:40.37 - + 5.37)

7.Zoysa D.N.T 2004 2158 Slk-Saf 5 5 158.49 145.61 304.10 8.0-0-26-5 1. Smith G.C 14 [Rpi:38.14] (Avg:40.89 - +26.89) 2. Gibbs H.H 7 [Rpi:33.63] (Avg:36.18 - +29.18) 3. Boje N 14 [Rpi:19.92] (Avg:26.68 - +12.68) 4. Kallis J.H 0 [Rpi:36.70] (Avg:45.28 - +45.28) 5. Rudolph J.A 4 [Rpi:30.10] (Avg:35.58 - +31.58)

8.Styris S.B 2002 1843 Nzl-Win 6 5 174.05 124.77 298.82 7.0-0-25-6 1. Gayle C.H 60 [Rpi:37.23] (Avg:40.06) 3. Lara B.C 0 [Rpi:36.00] (Avg:40.49 - +40.49) 4. Hooper C.L 24 [Rpi:27.97] (Avg:35.34 - +11.34) 5. Sarwan R.R 2 [Rpi:35.13] (Avg:44.18 - +42.18) 7. Hinds W.W 4 [Rpi:26.50] (Avg:28.93 - +24.93) 8. Hinds R.O 11 [Rpi:11.22] (Avg:16.83 - + 5.83)

9.Lee B 2005 2284 Aus-Icc 4 4 144.30 147.33 291.63 9.0-2-30-4 1. Gayle C.H 0 [Rpi:37.23] (Avg:40.06 - +40.06) 4. Kallis J.H 2 [Rpi:36.70] (Avg:45.28 - +43.28) 5. Lara B.C 0 [Rpi:36.00] (Avg:40.49 - +40.49) 7. Dravid R 16 [Rpi:34.37] (Avg:39.50 - +23.50)

10.Broad S.C.J 2008 2754 Eng-Saf 5 5 146.71 142.15 288.86 10.0-3-23-5 1. Smith G.C 9 [Rpi:38.14] (Avg:40.89 - +31.89) 2. Gibbs H.H 10 [Rpi:33.63] (Avg:36.18 - +26.18) 3. Kallis J.H 6 [Rpi:36.70] (Avg:45.28 - +39.28) 5. Duminy J.P 8 [Rpi:26.39] (Avg:35.57 - +27.57) 7. Botha J 1 [Rpi:11.85] (Avg:18.23 - +17.23)

11.Joshi S.B 1999 1504 Ind-Saf 5 5 145.59 140.64 286.23 10.0-6- 6-5 1. Dippenaar H.H 17 [Rpi:36.01] (Avg:42.23 - +25.23) 2. Gibbs H.H 18 [Rpi:33.63] (Avg:36.18 - +18.18) 5. Cronje W.J 2 [Rpi:31.80] (Avg:38.65 - +36.65) 7. Rhodes J.N 1 [Rpi:26.98] (Avg:35.12 - +34.12) 8. Pollock S.M 0 [Rpi:17.17] (Avg:26.46 - +26.46)

12.Harmison S.J 2005 2251 Eng-Aus 5 4 176.09 106.75 282.84 10.0-0-33-5 1. Gilchrist A.C 26 [Rpi:34.48] (Avg:35.89 - + 9.89) 2. Hayden M.L 31 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +12.81) 3. Ponting R.T 0 [Rpi:38.06] (Avg:43.24 - +43.24) 4. Martyn D.R 0 [Rpi:29.37] (Avg:40.81 - +40.81) 6. Hussey M.E.K 84 [Rpi:34.61] (Avg:57.14)

13.Imran Khan 1985 0325 Pak-Ind 5 5 137.69 144.48 282.17 10.0-2-14-6 1. Shastri R.J 0 [Rpi:24.28] (Avg:29.05 - +29.05) 2. Srikkanth K 6 [Rpi:28.22] (Avg:29.02 - +23.02) 4. Vengsarkar D.B 1 [Rpi:29.23] (Avg:34.73 - +33.73) 5. Gavaskar S.M 2 [Rpi:30.31] (Avg:35.14 - +33.14) 6. Amarnath M 5 [Rpi:25.65] (Avg:30.54 - +25.54)

The tables are self-explanatory. For sheer brilliance, intensity and top-drawer quality, the best performance in this regard is Waqar Younis' 7 for 36 against England. Seven wickets taken, all seven top-order wickets, all seven batsmen dismissed below their respective averages. This is sheer magic.

Chaminda Vaas gets into second place with figures somewhat similar to Waqar Younis. Seven top-order wickets, all well below their batting average. Even though this was against Zimbabwe, readers should remember that this Zimbabwe team was not bad, with decent averages and having Heath Streak bat at no.8.

I would personally place Aaqib Javed's performance at par with Vaas. Seven top-order wickets and only Sanjay Manjrekar managing to go past his bowling average. The hat-trick to boot.

Pedro Collins is the highest placed five-wicket bowler in this table. Five top-order Australian wickets, all below their averages. Shane Bond's is somewhat similar. It is only the fact that two of Bond's scalps are of lesser batsmen (Brad Hogg and Ian Harvey) which has pushed him below Collins.

The best-placed Indian bowler is the unheralded Sunil Joshi. His collection of five top South African batsmen, all below their averages is truly outstanding. The best placed Australian bowler is Brett Lee whose collection of four (yes, only four) ICC XI scalps has pushed him into the Top 10. But then the batsmen are Chris Gayle, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara and Rahul Dravid.

Just for interest, let me go back to the two innspells at the top. McGrath's 7 for 15 is placed in 399th position while Mullally's 4 for 18 is placed in 33rd position. I am sure most people would agree with these placings. Let me add that the incomparable McGrath has seven innspells placed in this table ahead of this particular one (and eight below).

To view the complete list please click here.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on January 17, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    The BCs had 2 for them and none against, we must be ok... :P

  • fanedlive on January 2, 2009, 4:16 GMT

    In terms of the great ODI bowling spells, it must surely be hard to beat the ridiculous one by Phil Simmons vs Pakistan in 1992. Simmons took 4 wickets, for 3 runs in ten overs. 3 Runs in 10 overs! Simmons scalps consisted of Javed Miandad, Aamer Sohail, Saleem Malik and Asif Mujtaba - all in the top 5 of the batting order.

    The West Indies managed to score 214 runs on the pitch.

    (3 runs!!) [[ Yes. Symond's performance is great. It is in the Top-50 with very respectable tally of 235 points. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on December 4, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    Great stuff!! Waqar Younis is about the best I`v`e ever seen,I used to love those inswinging yorkers.By the way I`m Aussie`[58yrs] and loved D K Lillee,he was the best!! Waqar at his peak was unplayable and a great bloke..loved to watch him!

  • fanedlive on December 1, 2008, 11:32 GMT

    One interesting observation on full list data. for India, Agarkar is the top most bowler with 12 entries in the list. In bracket I have put total wks the bowler has taken till now.

    Agarkar - 12 (288) Kumble - 10 (334) Srinath - 10 (315) Zaheer - 8 (205) Prabhakar - 6 (157) Sachin - 6 (152) Pathan - 5 (148) Kapil - 4 (253) Harbhajan - 4 (200) Prasad - 4 (196) Nehra - 4 (90)

    Agarkar has 12 outstanding spells for India,he is no. 3 is all time ODI bowlers list for India, still he didn't get the credit he deserves. I remember during 1997 to early 2000s, Agarkar used to get bagful wickets (with albeit bit high number of runs).For me,he is India's top ODI bowler with his outstanding strike-rate (32.9 - beaten only by Sreesanth's 32.6) and average (27.85 - beaten only by Kapil's 27.45).

    One surprise is Sachin ahead of Kapil & Harbhajan. However,no one can deny those 6 times Sachin had bowled magnificently.

    Any views or comment on this analysis for India?

  • fanedlive on December 1, 2008, 11:18 GMT

    The ODI spell that stands out in my mind is when Bichel took 7 for 20 in the 2003 World Cup. Every time Ponting turned to him he seemed to get a wicket whereas no one else even looked like getting a wicket. Where does that rank in this analysis?? [[ Right on top. It is 26th (out of over 1000 entries0. Bichel's collection of batsmen was outstanding (171 pts). Only the fact that he dismissed most batsmen after they scored runs (see below) pushed it slightly lower. Otherwise this would have been in the top-10. Total: 89 points. Knight: 30 Vaughan: 2 Hussain: 1 Stewart: 46 Vollingwood: 10 Flintoff: 45 and Giles.

    Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on November 30, 2008, 8:36 GMT

    i only have a small doubt .. u ve considered the average of the batsman dismissed ... wat i want to know is it his avg b4 tat match or is it his current average ...tat is if sachin played a game in 1994 his avg may only be around 38 while now its 44 + .. so i think if u are going to consider a bowling spell in 1994 then the avg during tat match must be considered .. if u have taken tat average only then i am sorry

  • fanedlive on November 23, 2008, 13:43 GMT

    About the suggestion that Keyur made, ranked 325 is Richard Hadlee's 9-1-32-5 against India at Perth in 1980-81. Hadlee dismissed Gavaskar, Viswanath, Sandeep Patil, Kapil Dev and Ghavri.

    The interesting thing about this is that Hadlee bowled four spells, and got a wicket with the first ball of each one, in addition to getting Kapil for a second ball duck. If you consider how early the bowler dismissed the batsman, it would be hard to beat this one. [[ Given below are the details for this match. 1. Gavaskar S.M 0 [Rpi:30.31] (Avg:35.14 - +35.14) 4. Viswanath G.R-23-10 [Rpi:15.00] (Avg:19.95 - + 9.95) 6. Patil S.M 39 [Rpi:23.93] (Avg:24.51) 7. Kapil Dev N 0 [Rpi:19.11] (Avg:23.79 - +23.79) There are many reasons why this is not necessarily that great an analysis. 1. Only 4 top-order and 3 below-avge. 2. None of the batsman was top-drawer (Gavaskar included) Vishewanath had a low average anyhow and was adjusted downwards to an RPI of 15.00. The information you have provided is interesting but not available and cannot anyhow be used. Thanks for identifying an interesting instance. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on November 23, 2008, 3:30 GMT

    I think you should use the very good D/L method (along with batsman's averages and SRs as input) to do this calculation. DL can take situations into account and predict what's the team score would be before and after the wicket. For example, assume India is batting with SRT as one of the openers. At 0/0 DL can take all the team player's averages and S/Rs to determine the avg. team score. If SRT fails, i.e. at 0/1 you can recalibrate D/L with the remaining batsmen's avg and SRs to determine how much a team gained by SRT's dismissal. This way you can decide how much a bowler helped his team's cause by taking wickets. Finally, subtract the number of runs he gave and you have the final metric. [[ Sunit, I think what you have suggested is too complex for what is a simple calculation. I am not also sure whether D/L is the best and totally correct. Let us accept that the spinners will have a raw deal as far this sub-analysis is concerned. Hopefully some of these problems will be redressed in the complete analysis. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on November 21, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    There has been a lot of controversy regarding the "when" factor in your analysis disfavouring the spinners as compared to the fast bowlers because the batsman mostly start at 0 against fast bowlers while they have made up some runs before the spinners come on reducing the "when" points for the spinner. How about considering the score of batsman at the time of the bowler starting his spell? This means that the opening bowlers get the same points as earlier, but the spinner too gets a chance to rake up the same points if he gets the batsman out early in his spell without allowing them to add any runs DURING HIS SPELL. [[ I am very appreciative of the originality of the suggestion. It is not often that we get a suggestion of this quality. There is no doubt that, if implemented, this will considerably improve the "when" factor. However, as I have pointed out earlier, the problem is that this will require complete ball-by-ball data which is either not available for most matches or availabe in an inaccessible proprietary fomr. This does not take away anything from the excellent suggestion. Thank you. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on November 21, 2008, 11:28 GMT


    grd analysis.. The last 10 years the nature of the pitches used for one day matches have been made batsmen friendly.. So an average batsman's average of this period will be more inflated compared to a greater batsman of the earlier years... suggest taking this into consideration when you adjust the averages over the years..How is big question...

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