Trivia - bowling March 18, 2009

The worst specialist bowlers in Test cricket, and the worst team

Some readers have suggested that I should look at the worst bowlers in Test cricket the same way I have looked at the worst specialist batsmen
90

I started this thread so I have to finish it. Some readers have suggested that I should look at the worst bowlers in Test cricket the same way I have looked at the worst specialist batsmen. This is a fair request and as Jeff wants, this gives us an opportunity to select what could be termed as the worst team in Test history.

For the batsmen I had a very effective measure, the Batting Position Average, which could be used to identify a specialist batsman, in addition to other measures. We do not have such a measure for bowlers and we have to improvise.

Let me list down the criteria for selection.

1. The bowler must have played in a minimum of 15 Tests.
2. The bowler should have bowled, on an average, a minimum of 150 balls per Test. This excludes casual bowlers.
3. The bowling average should be above 40.00. Fair enough condition.

4. To exclude all-rounders (Hooper/Ramchand et al), bowlers who bat well (Giles/Dharmasena et al) and batsmen who bowl frequently (Richards), the batting average should be below 20.00.
5. I have also excluded bowlers such as Mohammad Rafique, who have a bowling average between 40 and 50 and a difference in average values (bowling average minus batting average) less than 30. There is no way a quality player such as Rafique should get in this collection of incompetents.

This gets us a list of 18 bowlers.

It would be very simple to rank these based on the Bowling Average and that table would as well be enough. However I have done a simple additional analysis of the constituent measures to bring out the level of bowling. The following measures are used.

1. The Bowling Strike rate.
2. The Bowling RpO.
3. The number of wickets captured per Test.

It must be remembered that the Bowling Strike rate and RpO are the two components which form the Bowling Average and I have separated these to let the readers judge the lack of effectiveness.

The formula is given below.

Index=StrikeRate x 0.25 + RpO x 5 + (3.0 - W/T) x 10.
The final table is given below.

Cty Bowler            Mat Balls B/M Wkts  Avge  B/W   RpO  W/T Index

Eng Salisbury I.D.K 15 2492 166 20 76.95 124.6 3.71 1.33 66.3 Bng Manjural Islam(Sr) 17 2970 175 28 57.32 106.1 3.24 1.65 56.3 Bng Tapash Baisya 21 3376 161 36 59.36 93.8 3.80 1.71 55.3 Nzl Moir A.M 17 2650 156 28 50.64 94.6 3.21 1.65 53.2 Nzl Cave H.B 19 4074 214 34 43.15 119.8 2.16 1.79 52.9 Nzl Hayes J.A 15 2675 178 30 40.57 89.2 2.73 2.00 45.9 Ind Agarkar A.B 26 4857 187 58 47.33 83.7 3.39 2.23 45.6 Win Powell D.B 37 7090 192 85 47.99 83.4 3.45 2.30 45.1 Pak Mohammad Sami 33 6984 212 81 51.37 86.2 3.57 2.45 44.9 Slk Wickramasinghe G.P 40 7260 182 85 41.87 85.4 2.94 2.12 44.8 Nzl Wiseman P.J 25 5660 226 61 47.59 92.8 3.08 2.44 44.2 Saf McCarthy C.N 15 3499 233 36 41.94 97.2 2.59 2.40 43.2 Win McLean N.A.M 19 3299 174 44 42.57 75.0 3.41 2.32 42.6 Slk Ramanayake C.P.H 18 3654 203 44 42.73 83.0 3.09 2.44 41.8 Pak Asif Masood 16 3038 190 38 41.26 79.9 3.10 2.38 41.7 Eng Pocock P.I 25 6650 266 67 44.42 99.3 2.69 2.68 41.4 Ind Nehra A 17 3447 203 44 42.41 78.3 3.25 2.59 39.9 Eng Jones I.J 15 3546 236 44 40.20 80.6 2.99 2.93 35.8

Ian Salisbury stays supremely on top with such a huge lead that, whatever be the criteria used, he is unlikely to give up his top position. I am surprised that England could not find a better bowler than Salisbury nor could they have decided that the part-time spin of the much-maligned Hick (incidentally he captured 23 wickets at a much better average of 56.78) was enough. It is also relevant that Tufnell was England's leading spinner during the 1990s and the reason why they kept selecting Salisbury over eight years escapes me.

Then we have a couple of average Bangladeshi bowlers and a trio of average New Zealand bowlers.

The interesting entry then is Agarkar. How he could have played 26 Tests as an all-rounder is one of the mysteries of Indian cricket. I can understand his being selected for 191 ODI matches because he had one of the best strike rates as a bowler in ODIs (288 wickets in 191 matches). But 26 Tests, even conceding the Adelaide contribution, is inexplicable.

I am equally amazed that Mohammad Sami was selected for 33 Tests and captured fewer than 2.5 wickets per Test at a 50+ average. I will not make any comments except that Pakistan has had very competent and effective pace bowlers during this period and it is a surprise that Sami was on for such a long time.

Just to demonstrate the point that the Bowling Average is the most effective of all cricketing measures I have given below the table in decreasing order of Bowling average. Readers will note that there are very few significant changes.

Cty Bowler            Mat  Wkts BowAvge  BatAvge

Eng Salisbury I.D.K 15 20 76.95 (16.73) Bng Tapash Baisya 21 36 59.36 (11.29) Bng Manjural Islam(Sr) 17 28 57.32 ( 3.68) Pak Mohammad Sami 33 81 51.37 (12.05) Nzl Moir A.M 17 28 50.64 (14.86) Win Powell D.B 37 85 47.99 ( 7.83) Nzl Wiseman P.J 25 61 47.59 (14.08) Ind Agarkar A.B 26 58 47.33 (16.79) Eng Pocock P.I 25 67 44.42 ( 6.24) Nzl Cave H.B 19 34 43.15 ( 8.81) Slk Ramanayake C.P.H 18 44 42.73 ( 9.53) Win McLean N.A.M 19 44 42.57 (12.27) Ind Nehra A 17 44 42.41 ( 5.50) Saf McCarthy C.N 15 36 41.94 ( 3.11) Slk Wickramasinghe G.P 40 85 41.87 ( 9.41) Pak Asif Masood 16 38 41.26 (10.33) Nzl Hayes J.A 15 30 40.57 ( 4.87) Eng Jones I.J 15 44 40.20 ( 4.75)

Now for the serious task of selecting the worst Test team to be assembled. First let me say that the team will be assembled from the two "worst" tables. Also it will be a balanced team. The incompetency will be spread right through. A team of 11 batsmen with averages exceeding 50 might very well draw all Tests they play while a team with 11 bowlers with averages below 10 might very well dismiss any opposing team cheaply.

I am not able to select a wicket-keeper since keepers have, by definition, been excluded in the two selections. Readers can insert their own keeper. Khaled Mashud is one possibility. I will select 12 players so that the bowlers' selection can be effectively done between spinners and pace bowlers.

I will take the task seriously. Here is my team.

Bt/Bw
Avge

1.Nzl Miller L.S.M 13.84 2.Eng Brearley J.M 22.89 (Captain) 3.Aus Bonnor G.J 17.07 4.Eng Ikin J.T 20.90 5.Bng Alok Kapali 17.70 6.Nzl McGregor S.N 19.82 7.Wicket keeper 8.Eng Salisbury I.D.K 76.95 9.Bng Tapash Baisya 59.36 10.Pak Mohammad Sami 51.37 11.Nzl Moir A.M 50.64 12.Bng Manjural Islam(Sr) 57.32

It is with heavy heart that I have to leave out Javed Omar, Ashraful, Ebrahim, Simmons, Agarkar, Nehra et al. But we are limited to 11 (okay 12) players and I owe it to the readers to select the "best". For bowlers I have almost totally gone on numbers. Brearley could be replaced by one of the New Zealand openers without "strengthening" the team.

Readers should remember that there is no malice in this selection and everything has been done in a lighter vein. Do not come in with serious objections. You are welcome to form your own teams.

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

  • gualtyavate on August 29, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Hi. Ive been visiting the website for a bit; Wanted to join in

  • Ronnie on May 19, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    Yes, but i think that working on the basis that a large proportion of his 17 or 18 test matches have been against NZ & WI (13 i think?) his bowling will be found out this summer for sure. Sorry for straying slightly off topic but i would be interested to hear what others think about Broad and his long term prospects as a test player. [[ Ronnie Unfortunately very few people would be looking at the concerned article so you may not get any responses. I have anyway published your previous and this comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Ronnie on May 19, 2009, 11:26 GMT

    Ananth,

    Please can you provide me with some ammunition for my argument that Stuart Broad is currently one of the worst test bowlers in cricket, no matter how tenuous it may be. I cannot understand why England persist with such a second rate bowler. Ronnie Stop thinking of Stuart as an out and out bowler but as an all-rounder with a batting average of nearly 30 and two and a half wickets per test at 38. There have been worse all-rounders.

  • Devadatta on May 12, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    Hi Ananth, I should have been more specific - I meant in the list of bowlers. Cheers, Dev

  • Devadatta on May 11, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    Extremely suprised to see that there are no Zimbabwe players in the list - is it because not many played 15 tests? How about Brian Strang? [[ Dev There are 4 Zimbabwe batsmen in the list, the Flower brothers, Gary Whittall and Ally Campbell. Ananth: ]]

  • Andrew on April 29, 2009, 13:12 GMT

    Jarrod, "worst test centurion" is a question that interests me too. Personally, Symcox was my pick (Gillespie for the worst double centurion).

    I nominate Geraint Jones - I suspect he only kept for ENG because he couldn't get selected for PNG! Thought about Parthiv Patel, but figured that at 24 he's got time to learn how to keep. Jones is as good as he's going to get (i.e. terrible). Can't bat either.

    Umpires for the series: KT Francis and BC Curray - the two blokes who were SO bad that (by comparison) the touring sides thought AdS looked like a genius. 3U - the bloke who gave Gilly run out when a yard IN (and the ball closer to point than the keeper's gloves).

  • Jonathan Ellis on April 28, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    It's a major shame that Asoka De Silva didn't play enough tests to get into this team. He probably would have done, if Sri Lanka had played more tests back in the 1980s and early 1990s the way Bangladesh do now...

    However. Is he sufficiently poor as an umpire, to qualify to umpire this team? I suspect not, he's been boringly competent as an umpire.

    What about in a match between this lot, and the Dullest Team or the Most Unpredictable Team?

    Each side can supply an umpire. The "Worst" team can have a toss-up between Shakoor Rana and Shakil Khan, as the umpire supplied by their side. The "Unpredictables"... well, they would just have to bring along Dickie Bird. Not because his umpiring was unpredictable in quality (it was uniformly excellent) but because anything could happen, and usually did, when he was around. As for the umpire provided by the "Dullest Team"? Nearly all of them will do but I'll plump for Steve Bucknor just because he takes so long to make up his mind...

  • AG on April 21, 2009, 2:52 GMT

    Kashif: Unluckiest bowler - Bruce Reid, easily.

  • Raghunath V.J on April 18, 2009, 5:07 GMT

    Great discussion between Mike and Jeff on the wicketkeepers.Standing up and keeping to spinners has always been more skilful than standing back and goal keeping.Except for some bad patches,Kirmani would rate very high for me since he kept to Chandra - and that was very difficult. Oldfield kept to Mailey and Grimmet-Evans stood up to Bedser and Wright.Walcott had to cope with Ramadhin and Valentine.Tallon,Langley and Grout dealt with Ring,Johnson,Toshack,McCool,Iverson and Benaud. actually Naren Thamhane kept beautifully to Gupte,Ghulam and Mankad. Btw Ghulam Ahmed was the worst fielder I have seen at first class level. I have seen him run back a few steps at mid-on to take the ball first bounce-to avoid catching it.

  • mahesh on April 11, 2009, 12:13 GMT

    I am really sorry to see my favourite bowler agarkar in this list. but it is to be happened since he is realy having very bad record in test . but who can forget his contribution in ODI . He is still a beter bowler to be selected for ODI's.

  • gualtyavate on August 29, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Hi. Ive been visiting the website for a bit; Wanted to join in

  • Ronnie on May 19, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    Yes, but i think that working on the basis that a large proportion of his 17 or 18 test matches have been against NZ & WI (13 i think?) his bowling will be found out this summer for sure. Sorry for straying slightly off topic but i would be interested to hear what others think about Broad and his long term prospects as a test player. [[ Ronnie Unfortunately very few people would be looking at the concerned article so you may not get any responses. I have anyway published your previous and this comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Ronnie on May 19, 2009, 11:26 GMT

    Ananth,

    Please can you provide me with some ammunition for my argument that Stuart Broad is currently one of the worst test bowlers in cricket, no matter how tenuous it may be. I cannot understand why England persist with such a second rate bowler. Ronnie Stop thinking of Stuart as an out and out bowler but as an all-rounder with a batting average of nearly 30 and two and a half wickets per test at 38. There have been worse all-rounders.

  • Devadatta on May 12, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    Hi Ananth, I should have been more specific - I meant in the list of bowlers. Cheers, Dev

  • Devadatta on May 11, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    Extremely suprised to see that there are no Zimbabwe players in the list - is it because not many played 15 tests? How about Brian Strang? [[ Dev There are 4 Zimbabwe batsmen in the list, the Flower brothers, Gary Whittall and Ally Campbell. Ananth: ]]

  • Andrew on April 29, 2009, 13:12 GMT

    Jarrod, "worst test centurion" is a question that interests me too. Personally, Symcox was my pick (Gillespie for the worst double centurion).

    I nominate Geraint Jones - I suspect he only kept for ENG because he couldn't get selected for PNG! Thought about Parthiv Patel, but figured that at 24 he's got time to learn how to keep. Jones is as good as he's going to get (i.e. terrible). Can't bat either.

    Umpires for the series: KT Francis and BC Curray - the two blokes who were SO bad that (by comparison) the touring sides thought AdS looked like a genius. 3U - the bloke who gave Gilly run out when a yard IN (and the ball closer to point than the keeper's gloves).

  • Jonathan Ellis on April 28, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    It's a major shame that Asoka De Silva didn't play enough tests to get into this team. He probably would have done, if Sri Lanka had played more tests back in the 1980s and early 1990s the way Bangladesh do now...

    However. Is he sufficiently poor as an umpire, to qualify to umpire this team? I suspect not, he's been boringly competent as an umpire.

    What about in a match between this lot, and the Dullest Team or the Most Unpredictable Team?

    Each side can supply an umpire. The "Worst" team can have a toss-up between Shakoor Rana and Shakil Khan, as the umpire supplied by their side. The "Unpredictables"... well, they would just have to bring along Dickie Bird. Not because his umpiring was unpredictable in quality (it was uniformly excellent) but because anything could happen, and usually did, when he was around. As for the umpire provided by the "Dullest Team"? Nearly all of them will do but I'll plump for Steve Bucknor just because he takes so long to make up his mind...

  • AG on April 21, 2009, 2:52 GMT

    Kashif: Unluckiest bowler - Bruce Reid, easily.

  • Raghunath V.J on April 18, 2009, 5:07 GMT

    Great discussion between Mike and Jeff on the wicketkeepers.Standing up and keeping to spinners has always been more skilful than standing back and goal keeping.Except for some bad patches,Kirmani would rate very high for me since he kept to Chandra - and that was very difficult. Oldfield kept to Mailey and Grimmet-Evans stood up to Bedser and Wright.Walcott had to cope with Ramadhin and Valentine.Tallon,Langley and Grout dealt with Ring,Johnson,Toshack,McCool,Iverson and Benaud. actually Naren Thamhane kept beautifully to Gupte,Ghulam and Mankad. Btw Ghulam Ahmed was the worst fielder I have seen at first class level. I have seen him run back a few steps at mid-on to take the ball first bounce-to avoid catching it.

  • mahesh on April 11, 2009, 12:13 GMT

    I am really sorry to see my favourite bowler agarkar in this list. but it is to be happened since he is realy having very bad record in test . but who can forget his contribution in ODI . He is still a beter bowler to be selected for ODI's.

  • Srivathsan on April 7, 2009, 16:48 GMT

    I am really surprised to see Agarkar's name in this list because he was the fastest to get 50 wickets in ODIs and then you cannot forget his match winning bowling performance in the Second Test between India and Australia at Adelaide (2003-04). Other than that, i think it is a great effort and very much appreciated.

  • Hemant on April 6, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    Very interesting an article, but in the worst team, I believe you have selected a very decent captain, which might inspire these players to actually beat a team. Hence my alternative to captain, should be the worst captain ever, lee germon as suggested springs to mind, Virender Sehwag's another? :p

  • Kashif on April 6, 2009, 12:11 GMT

    The moment is saw the title, i knew the list would contain Sami's name. Sami has an unwanted record of playing highest number of matches for an average of 50+ (0r something like that, dont remember exactly). although fully justified by numbers, it's a pity that we find such a talent in this list. he is a reasonably good bowler, but extremely unlucky one. if there is ever a list of the unluckiest bowlers in the world, i'm sure Sami will be at the top of that list! and his problems were worsened by a highly incompetent keeper in Akmal.

  • Abid Nadeem on April 6, 2009, 10:34 GMT

    Interesting analysis. As always with numbers alone we cannot completely judge the quality of a bowler or batsman. I would like to see the worst team with respect to a decade. That would give more practical outlook to such list. It is difficult to imagine a player of 1950s in the same list as player of 2000s.

  • Ravi Bhat on April 6, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    Maybe you should exclude Bangladeshi players altogether. They haven't played enough tests yet.

  • Vikram Maingi on April 6, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    Hi Anantha,

    I browsed through my records and have found out a few more names, which should be a part of this list:- Madan Lal (Ind) A.Giles (Eng) N.Boje (RSA) P.Symcox (RSA) C.Langton (RSA) D.Patel (NZ) T.Naqqash (Pak) K.Dharmasena (SL) U.Chandana (SL) F.Mahroof (SL)

    All of the above have played more than 15 test matches and have a test average off above 40. No one in the above list could be regarded as an all-rounder of Test level. Although, a few might have missed your requirement of 150 balls/match, but all certainly falling under the category of a specialist bowler.

    Regards, Vikram Maingi

  • jith r on April 3, 2009, 3:09 GMT

    ok im here to defend sami...yes he bowls some bad balls but hes definately had bad luck...bad umpiring and dropped catches off his bowling...his good balls dont get what they deserve...im sure he wouldve taken more wickets and had a much lower average if things went his way...iv watched his deadly spells and trust me u dont want to be the batsmen when hes in form (kolkata test match 2005, wellington 2004, perth 2005...the ones that come to mind)...go on youtube and watch wat hes capable of

  • M. Omair on March 29, 2009, 1:38 GMT

    Nice article and praise is for one who manage it, we now know about Cricket worst bowlers and team. Kaneria has not been performing well since 2006. If his performance will continue, he will soon cross the average of 35. He took 102 wickets so quickly with average 29.47 and then added further 123 wickets in it with average 39.34. Now overall is 34.88. In his peak form he changed matches so quickly that we can say that no one is like him. In W. Indies when they required 280 and suddenly in nine bowls he took wicket of Sarwan, Lara and Chanderpaul and changed the test series to 1-1. Against England he did the same thing in Nov 2005 in test. In twenty balls he took wicket of Bell, Strauss and Flintoff and whole match changed as they required only 198 runs but lost match by 23 runs. In third test match again in 2005 against England he took wicket of Collingwood, Pietersen and Flintoff within five balls and then test series won by 2-0. He did same thing with other teams as well in past.

  • mike of cnbra on March 28, 2009, 21:42 GMT

    I agree with Sree abt Agarkar. I've seen enough match winning performances in LOIs and tests from him to respect his skill as a bowler. As a batsmen he was a walking wicket though.

  • wanderer on March 28, 2009, 17:48 GMT

    For those of you dismissing Danish Kaneria, as a Pakistan fan it is my duty to defend him, unlike the awful Sami.

    Kaneria has taken plenty of wickets and continuously puts a lot of effort into his bowling even when the wickets aren't conducive to his leg breaks. He plays a lot of his cricket on flat, dead pitches. There was a time during 2003-2006 when he was taking plenty of wickets, but since then he's tailed off a bit. His average is by no means "bad" and has taken 225 wickets in tests. More than acceptable by anyones standards.

    Sami though suffers the same fate as Agarkar, explosive starts and flat line downwards from there (or upwards if you're looking at averages, I suppose). He's had ample opportunities even in conditions as diverse as England and frankly failed. He's wayward, expensive and unlike Kaneria cannot and does not take wickets through hard work. The man should have been dropped years ago, as it is he played 33 tests and only managed 81 wickets.

  • Yadav on March 28, 2009, 17:46 GMT

    Hi all! Danish kaneria has not very nice away average but I think even Anil Kumble has a far inferior bowling average away as compared to at home. And if you are talking of gap between two 5 wickets burst, compare that of Zaheer Khan, who is hailed as one of the best new ball bowler today by many. 6 five wkt hauls in 63 test matches. I don't think he would have been selected had he been in SA or Australia or even in Pakistan.

  • Sree on March 28, 2009, 10:20 GMT

    Agarkar made his debut when Azhar was the captain Iand Gaekwad the coach. Then Sachin Tendulkar and Sandip Patil took over. Then for a time Kapil was the coach. Then Saurav and Wright took over. Then Chappel was the coach. In all these combinations, Agarkar duly got selected. Am sure there must be something in him that all these worthies saw and selected him. He definitely had a very good strike rate in ODIs even if the economy rate was bad. Also, as somebody has pointed out, he gave a boundary ball every over, probably for trying too much every over. As far as his tests go, he never got a longish run and that affects. Am not sure but it would be worth checking what was the longest he played without a break. 26 tests in 10yrs does indicate the point. Yes, he was not great, but he was in no way horrible or worst as some people feel so.

  • mike of cnbra on March 27, 2009, 22:16 GMT

    Jeff. My last comment on this as I think I'm imposing on Ananth's humour. I'm not sure your reasoning follows. Selectors still blunder despite technology. Most Eng fans abuse their selectors. Indians can't understand why Vijay got so many opportunities. Aussies have heaped abuse on Hilditch and co. Technology doesn't give selectors brains. Conversely history is replete with selectorial blunders and insights even though technology wasn't as good as now. Nothing beats an experienced selector witnessing a player 1st hand. And I agree I'd pick a keeper who could bat if I had to choose. I'm just saying I can get the other opinion that wouldn't. It is a reasonable opinion to put emphasis on a man's keeping without regard to batting. A keeper who restricts the opposition's top scorer offsets runs lost by his own poor batting. It is a valid consideration for selectors to make and not a blunder at all.

  • arijit dasgupta on March 27, 2009, 17:44 GMT

    Dear Ananth, most of the really bad players wouldn't satisfy your criterion of 15 Tests. But then you can't do a statistical analysis with players who played one or two Tests. Does that skew the list a bit?

  • Jeff on March 27, 2009, 10:25 GMT

    Mike, good-natured, healthy debate is always fun!

    I understand that the England selectors of the time valued Strudwick’s keeping abilities above the superior batting abilities of some of his rivals for the job. However, it is also true that current England selectors value Prior’s batting skills above the superior keeping ability of Read/Foster/Scott etc.

    And, given the “improvement in humanity” over the past 90 years, today’s selectors have much more data and more sophisticated analytical tools available to help them make the right decision. Add to that the more “professional” nature of cricket in the 21st century and the huge risks in making the wrong decisions (ie. losing matches and ultimately jobs/salaries) and the huge rewards in making the right decisions (ie. winning matches and getting higher salaries) and there is a very strong argument that the keeper/batsman is the most valuable option (and would also have been in Strudwick’s time - had the selectors known this.)

  • Marcus on March 27, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    If there's no minimum no. of matches for 'keepers, then how about David Williams? an average of 13 from 11 Tests would surely get in in the running, and he played in the modern era ('92-'98) so we don't have to worry about the difference in time. Howzat? [[ Marcus If the ball was travelling to the keeper and you claimed "howzat", any of the keepers being considered would have contrived to drop the ball before the appeal finishes ! My only concern (?) with David Williams is his outstanding match-winning partnership with Hooper against England in 1998 when he was unbeaten on 65 against a fairly good attack of Caddick/Headley/Fraser/Tufnell.. Ananth: ]]

  • SHANKAR KRISHNAN on March 26, 2009, 22:37 GMT

    @shariq Kaneria's performances have shown a marked decline over the last 4 to 5 years and that explains the frustration of fans with him. In hindsight ,the fair-weather bowler comment seems generous (Pls see his performances below).

    @ananth Forget about Kaneria getting into all-time pakistan list. If he sustains his last 3 years form for another year or so, he would nudge Salisbury out & walk into your worst ever test side.Despite competing with Wasim & Waqar for the wickets, Mushy has a better record.

    Danish K Avg S/R Career 35 70 Away Tests 37 71 4th Innings 37 79 Serious Opposition 38 75 (All sides other than Bangladesh) Last 3 years 42 84

    Last meaningful 5-wkt haul in June 2005! There was another in 2006 - 5/181 and WI scored 591 !

    Mushtaq Ahmed Avg S/R Career 33 68 Away Tests 32 67 4th Innings 20 51 Serious Opposition 33 66 (All sides other than Zimbabwe) I rest my case.

  • mike of cnbra on March 26, 2009, 22:11 GMT

    I'm having fun Jeff. Aren't you? Rating a keeper on byes conceded will have you claiming Marsh a better keeper than say Evans. Yet Evans stood over the stumps for Bedser and the vloatile, erratic Wright amongst others. Marsh stood back his whole career. So on keeping alone Evans is superior though leaked more byes. The no. of byes leaked is immaterial to rating a keeper. They're offset by the pressure a keep exerts standing over the stumps and applying on a batsman. It is an agressive tactic that repays in wkts and pressure the no. of runs conceded in byes. This is the value Strudwick gave his team. The selectors valued it otherwise they'd have picked a keep/bat instead. There were those around at the time. Its unfair to judge a keep incompetent based on his batting or on byes conceded. I think you're using unfair criteria and should use your imagination to understand what the selctors saw in Strudwick and appreciate he doesn't belong here. Pick Wayne Phillips instead.

  • Jeff on March 26, 2009, 13:12 GMT

    Cont

    Strudwick has the worst batting average of any keeper with more than 15 tests (Ananth’s criteria for selection.) That’s why I picked him. As I studied him, I also noticed that he gave away a large number of byes not only compared to later generations but also to a lot of his contemporaries. For example, his 2 main Aussie counterparts, Sammy Carter and Bert Oldfield conceded 7.3 & 7.5 byes per match compared to Strudwicks 11.6. (I only looked at matches played during Strudwicks career – 1910 to 1926.) I realize that byes/match is a rather crude measure, but it’s the best I could think of.

    Incidentally, these figures for Cater & Oldfield compare very favourably with later players such as Godfrey Evans (7.7), Wally Grout (8.3), Wasim Bari (8.3), Rod Marsh (6.6), Jeff Dujon (9.7) & Mark Boucher (6.5) so maybe byes conceded isn’t such a bad measure?

    Finally, on Deep Dasgupta – he only played 8 matches and so theoretically doesn’t make the cut for the worst team on that basis…

    [[ Jeff/Mike, I think we will agree that we have our own reasons for getting in or keeping out certain players, whether it is for the best team or the worst team. Jeff, On Deep Dasgupta, he did not have to play more matches to make the cut. I am willing to get anyone in as a keeper with no minimum criteria. But one thing I can assure you, Deep was something to behold. If he played 15 tests his missed chances/bunglings would have hit the ceiling. India was going thru a period of average wicket keepers as replacement for the very competent Mongia. They tried Prasad, Dasgupta, Dighe, Ratra before getting to Patel, Karthik and Dhoni. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on March 26, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    Mike, I can’t prove or disprove what you say. Would Chris Read have conceded less byes than Strudwick if he’d played in that era? Would Strudwick be regarded as one of today's best keepers if he was born in 1980? These questions are unanswerable.

    But what Ananth has tried to do here is pick a “worst ever” test team and in order to do that, we’ve got to use some criteria to compare players over the history of test cricket (unless we go down your road and ignore this fun little exercise completely.)

    Also, you’ll notice that in my original post, I based my choice solely on batting as I thought I couldn’t fairly judge keeping ability (so in a way, I’m really agreeing with your points to a large extent.)

    TBC…

  • mike of cnbra on March 26, 2009, 8:39 GMT

    Jeff. Humanity improves. Thats well known. Not just sport but all fields. Take science. We know more every generation yet no scientist today could be compared to Newton or Einstein for greatness. I'm not impressed by arguments that seek to compare generations. Moderns always put down their forebears when really the whole argument can be reduced to an accident of birth. Ofcourse modern players will win the comparison. They are beneficiaries of all the advances that preceded them. Look at it this way. Adjust a modern player's birth date to 1877. Lets say its Warne. Do you think he would have been as innovative as Bosanquet? Deprived of the benefits of modern techniques would he have been as effective at the turn of last century? There is case to say he wouldn't have even bowled leg spin. The point being that modern players wouldn't have performed above the standard of earlier times. There were wk/bats in HS' time and if modern wk stood up to those bolwers they would concede more byes.

  • Jeff on March 25, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    Mike, I fully take on board what you say and, of course, there's no way I can accurately judge Strudwick's ability as I was born nearly 50 years after he retired.

    However, while we both agree that standards were different then, i'm not so sure that they were better. Your argument about pitches is valid but to say that no keeper today would be able to stand up to Tate, Barnes etc is pure supposition.

    I imagine that someone like Chris Read would easily be able to do that - he's just too clever/well trained to do it - the better option is clearly to stand back.

    In every sport it's clear that standards now are better than 90 years ago - athletics times & distances are better, tennis players are stronger, faster, better, same with golf etc etc.

    I'd find it difficult to argue that the same isn't true for cricket in general and keeping in particular.

    Plus, you can't ignore his obviously woeful batting when determining his worth to a team!

    Thanks for adding to the debate.

  • mike of cnbra on March 24, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    About Strudwick: They did have different standards in Strudwick's day Jeff: They were much higher than today! A keeper like Strudwick was required to stand up to all but the fastest bowlers and so he stood over the stumps to men like Tate, Foster and Barnes. No keeper today would be capable of doing that over a long period. Pitches today are covered aswell making bounce alot more even and easier to judge than some of the stickies that Strudwick kept to. These reasons account for his high number of byes. If he stood back like today's loiterers he wouldn't have conceded anywhere near as many. Strudwick operated to a higher standard than today's keepers who would all be ahead of him in the line to be selected for this team of incompetents. [[ What I love most about these interchanges is that, once the unsavoury and rude comments are weeded out, there is a lot of interesting and useful information available. Even C M-J's comments on Strudwick are quite favourable. Ananth: ]]

  • Marcus on March 24, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    I've just done some checking comparing Danish to Mushtaq and Iqbal (32 and 28 respectively). I've found that both Mushtaq and Iqbal have better averages than Danish. Iqbal has the best ER (2.2) but the worst SR (76), and Mushi has the lowest SR of the three (67). Danish does have the highest wickets-per-match ratio (>4), but this could be a result of not having to share the load with the likes of Wasim, Waqar and Imran.

    Mushtaq Ahmed to me seems the best of that trio. Danish Kaneria did well against Australia three or so years ago, but hasn't really set the world on fire since- and while I certainly don't think he belongs on a list of the world's worst bowlers in history, I wouldn't count him among Pakistan's greats either. [[ I will go with you. I was only trying to soften the seemingly biased comments against Kaneria. Ananth: ]]

  • M. Shariq on March 24, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    Nice article about worst teams and bowlers. Someone said Kaneria is fair weather bowler who took wicket when it is not necessary. For his information, he turned match in favour of Pakistan when within two overs he took wickets of Lara, Chanderpaul and also wicket of Sarwan and then result of whole series changed and he also awarded man of the match for the same test. In other sense he turned match so quickly in his team favour that every one was amazing. His bowling average is 22.02 with taking 112 wickts in 21 test matches in which his team won. He took 12 times 5 wickets or more per inning in which eight times they won. In lost matches, he took five wickets 2 times only. I think your knowlegde about cricket is too less. If Kaneria is fair weather how Pakistan won 21 matches with him. So many times he turned matches in team favour so quickly that no one can match this quality of him. I can also say that statistic alone cannot judge this quality of him. [[ Shariq At the end of the day when someone draws a list of the best 10 Pakistani bowlers, there is no way Kaneria can be excluded from the list. His figures are better than Mushtaq Ahmad and Iqbal Qasim. Ananth: ]]

  • Abdul Lateef on March 23, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    I am happy to see Sami, a deserving spot...total loss total failure.....

  • Shankar Krishnan on March 23, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    Unfortunately , i have not had the privilege of watching Strudwick keep wickets for England. But as Jeff justifies his inclusion with cold logic (byes etc), i may be willing to concede the point. But before i give up, do we have any old pictures of Strudwick keeping wickets? It may be a good idea to check on that one to see if he was wearing any gloves. I can assure Jeff that Deep Das kept wickets with a couple of bricks.

  • Jeff on March 23, 2009, 12:59 GMT

    I'm not sure Strudwick was that good a keeper. Maybe he was good compared to his peers, but standards have improved a lot since then.

    The only way I can think of comparing him is on byes conceded.

    Strudwick conceded 11.6 per match on average - more than anyone in your analysis of keepers from last year (Saleem Yousuf was worst on 10.7 if you remember)and worse than current England keepers, even Geraint Jones whose keeping is thought poor - he averages 8.1 byes per match. (Of course, Prior is the exception - 15.8 byes per match !)

    I therefore suggest that Strudwick was a worse than average keeper and a spectacularly bad batsman (he batted no. 11 in 25 of his 42 inns)and thoroughly deserves his place in my team.

    btw - I noticed when researching Strudwick that he didn't keep wicket in one match (vs SA in 1910) - he batted at 10, scored 2 and didn't bowl!!

    Cricket really was a different game back then - England even had an underarm bowler in that match!! [[ I admit I have been flummoxed by the "googly" on byes. I think, Jeff, you have your country-man (I presume correctly, I hope), Strudwick in your team and Shankar has his country-man, Deep dasgupta in his team. I am sure others will have their own favourite. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on March 23, 2009, 10:08 GMT

    I agree with those who don’t want Brearley included. It’s not just his captaincy that should preclude him from the worst team – there’s also the fact that there are worst batsmen than him available

    My worst ever team is slightly different to yours.

    I think the only controversial thing about my team is the keeper – as I have little way of determining the actual keeping ability of most players (aside from the ones I’ve actually seen play myself) I choose my keeper based largely on batting average.

    On that basis, I thought Herbert Strudwick deserved his place – he averaged just 7.93 over 24 tests and will have to bat at 10 in the worst team.

    Here it is:

    1. Hannan Sarkar (Ban) 2. L. Miller (NZ) 3. M. Chapple (NZ) 4. Maqsood Ahmed (Pak) 5. J. Ikin (Eng) 6. Alok Kapali (Ban) 7. I Salisbury (Eng) 8. Mohammad Sami (Pak) 9. T. Baisya (Ban) 10. H. Strudwick (Wkt) (Eng) 11. Manjural Islam Snr (Ban)

    I estimate they would score on average 163 per inns, and concede 611 !! [[ Jeff I concede. Your team is a shade inferior to mine and you walk away with the honours. Sircar and Chapple, oh what a pair. But I still would have found a way to have the oldies represented by Bonnor or Read. My only problem with Strudwick is his fairly good keeping record. That is where Shankar's Deep Dasgupta is a wonderful selection. He might score a few, but is going to drop a few also. Ananth: ]]

  • Shankar Krishnan on March 23, 2009, 8:34 GMT

    I am intrigued no doubt by the mischievious implication behind the comment that feelings against Kaneria are running high due "to other reasons". Such kind of silly comments have no place in a forum like this. Does it mean that feelings that run high in India whenever Azharuddin's name comes up are due to "other reasons" or due to his exit from the game under a cloud?Fact is Kaneria is a fair weather bowler who picks up his wkts when the match has slipped away.Pakistan has always had a proud bowling tradition far superior to Indian sides of any era (except the present). Kaneria would not have come within 100 feet of the Gaddafi stadium if Saqlain and Mushtaq were around. Kaneria has to settle this by being a consistent match-winner on at least turning tracks and the last thing he needs is support from people who harp on "other reasons". It was Mike & not John Brearley.Apologies but even if John had played for Eng he would have led them to several wins agnst non-packer sides !

  • Shankar Krishnan on March 23, 2009, 6:54 GMT

    As a proud Indian, i will take it as a serious insult if anyone other than Deep Das Gupta gets to slap on the wicket keeping gloves for this team. Though MSK Prasad would run him close, the wk slot would only be a fitting reward for the splendid Deep Das who can lay claim to be truely "allergic to leather" of all kinds.

    Not seeing Ashish Nehra in the final eleven leads one to beleive that the author missed a great chance to make this team also the worst ever fielding side ever.

    I also firmly beleive that John Brearley would not be called too many times to collect the winner's cheque. When the packer players came back, he led a strong England side to an inglorious 3-0 whitewash in 1979-80.His only claim to fame is thrashing an australian club side 5-1 the earlier season and being forunate enough to be around when a certain I.T.Botham decided to show the "gin slinging dodderers" who the boss was in 1981. wish someone had mentioned about Ghulam Parker & Pronob Roy (somasunder*2)!! [[ Shankar Deep Dasgupta, surprisingly, was a decent batsman having finished his 8-test career with an average of 28+ and scoring most of his runs against South Africa and England. But his wicket-keeping was something. I was a Television analyst during the England/Zimbabwe test series. I had to refer back to my match notes to confirm his ablility (or lack of) as a keeper. His misses/dropped opportunities reached well over 10. I think you can, with confidence, nominate Deep for that WK spot. Nehra could as well be selected instead of Moir in view of his poor fielding as well as poor batting (an avge of 5+ against 14+).

    Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed on March 21, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    Can I ask one thing that why Nicky Boje is not included as his bowling average is 42.65 with Striking rate 86.2. I think you give him an advantage due to his batting. [[ Zeeshan Boje's batting average is 25+. That qualifies him as a genuine all-rounder and rightfully gets excluded from this list of incompetents. Ananth: ]]

  • Xara Khan on March 21, 2009, 9:01 GMT

    Nice article about worst bowlers and team. Qualified players including Nehra, Sami and Agarkar in test but they all are good in one day. Mike Brearley is not good batsman but he is qualified captain as so many matches, England won due to him. I think captain should not be included or include that captain whose abilities are worst in decision making although his batting or bowling ability is good.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on March 21, 2009, 6:11 GMT

    Nice article about worst bowlers as well as wortst team. In my opinion captain should be changed as he was the one of the best captain in taking decisions for his team, even if he was not a good performer. His decisions were enough for proving his place in his team.

    Here I want to discuss one more thing is that Kaneria from Pakistan bowling average is almost 35 in test but how can we ignore his wicket taking ability like in two overs he took wicket of Lara, Chandurpal and turned match to the favour of his team although we are assuming that they are going to loose match. So many ocassions he turn matches alone in his team favour. As statistic alone cannot judge this quality of him. Even in one match, Giles scored only 17 runs against Sri Lanka and spend 101 mintues for the same and also saved match by one wicket even Murli took eleven wickets in it. From statistis point of view only 17 runs added but from quality point of view he saved whole match from loosing it in his team favour.

  • Gokul on March 20, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    Do you mind telling us who the worst Aussie test bowler is? [since there are no Aussies in the all-time list]

    Just out of curiosity. And thanks for some fun stats :-) [[ Gokul You got me. I had to go back and take away criteria no. 5 to get this info. That honour goes to Ray Bright. 25 tests, 53 wickets, avge 41.13, strike rate 104. The only reason why he hot excluded was because of his batting average is 14.35 and I have applied the difference criteria even though his batting average is below 15. I think there is a strong case for including Bright's name in the list. Thanks for raising this comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Marcus on March 20, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    Peterson boosted his average against Bangladesh though, with a 6-wicket haul. Without that match he averages over 50 with just 8 wickets in 5 matches.

  • Andrew on March 20, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Regarding Robin Peteron as a terrible player undermines his abilty. Any South African spinner who averages around 35 with the ball would be regarded as more than acceptable, not to mention he is more than useful with the bat. Just a pity the selectors didn't give him more opportunities. He is certainly better than Eksteen, who has played 1 more test than him and averages 61 with the ball.

  • Ian Gent on March 19, 2009, 15:25 GMT

    Second the comments about Brearley - his brilliant captancy is why he got so many tests to qualify for this list. Picking him as captain goes against the spirit of this list, which should have the worst possible captain (Ian Botham maybe??) [[ Seconded. We could either leave him as opener or replace him with Javed Omar. And then hand over the captaincy to Jack Ikin. Ananth: ]]

  • Kalyan on March 19, 2009, 8:49 GMT

    While people can stand in line to tee off on Agarkar, they forget that he was the main person responsible for India's Adelaide Test match (6/40 in Aussie second innings)

    That said - there is no doubt that he underperformed his talent in test & ODI cricket - he was touted as India's next Kapil Dev but turned out to be worse than Chetan Sharma!

  • mike of cnbra on March 19, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    I still wasn't totally convinced about Rafique, Ananth until I read a comment further on. Maybe the reason BD are such an awful team is down to the quality of their players...hint, hint. Still Marcus does raise some compelling arguments in his favour. They are very fine performances to his credit and which I wasn't aware. In the light of them I would review my opinion of him and agree he is a fine bowler and is rightly excluded from this list.

  • Anabayan Kris on March 19, 2009, 7:09 GMT

    Its interesting that many readers from pakistan want kaneria here. Any bowler who's capable of getting more than 200 wickets at just below 35 is a very good bowler. Maybe there are other reasons! [[ Kris I have also been intrigued at the strong feelings against Kaneria whose Test bowling average is better than Venkataraghavan and nearly as good as Sobers and Zaheer Khan. Ananth: ]]

  • Pradipta on March 19, 2009, 6:36 GMT

    Nice research, Ananth. But i was just wondering about Aussie spinner Collin Miller, if I'm not wrong he's the solo spinner during Ind-Aus Test Series in 2001. Does he not deserve to be a part of this coveted list? [[ Pradipta Colin Miller was a great success. In 18 tests he captured 69 wickets at a wonderful average of 26.16. How Australia wish they had a Colin Miller clone now. Ananth: ]]

  • Chetan on March 19, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    Ananth, don't get me wrong here, but this exercise is nothing but generating numbers rather than appreciation on deserved performance or critical writing on bad play on field. take example of your analysis: Pocock P.I debuted in 1968, Moir A.M debuted 1951.. are you comparing them with Sami and Powel?? is that fair??.. Do consider momentum of game in 1960s and 2000s. Sorry Ananth but i Still feel it exercise of using StatGuru in wrong way. [[ Chetan First I never use Statsguru other than for stray checking. I have my own proprietary Database and a host of 100 programs which I use to do these analysis. Don't read too much into these. Take these in the spirit in which they have been done. There is nothing wrong in comparing the numbers across ages after making due adjustments.. Otherwise every analysis can be dismissed outright. It does not matter what period players played in. A great player would have been great across ages so would a poor player. Ananth: ]]

  • DK on March 19, 2009, 6:27 GMT

    I'll be interested in a list of biggest statistical upsets in Tests; i.e. a list of games where a heavily mis-matched team went on to beat a very strong opposition. Would need to indicate a score to denote strength of a fielded 11, and biggest difference where lower team wins.. For ODI's history is littered with minnows surprising much stronger teams, but would be interested to see such a list in tests. Draws could be included as well if there was no time lost to rain etc. An idea for the future. [[ Did something on these lines earlier for my site. Will look into this angle afresh. Ananth: ]]

  • Marcus on March 19, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    Mike on cnbra, I think Rafique's figures don't do him any justice. He did in fact take quite a lot of wickets against quality opposition- five against Australia, 6-77 against RSA and almost bowling Bdesh to victory over Pakistan in Multan all spring to mind.

    Ananth, I just want to clarify that I personally don't think Harris belongs on this list. In fact, I think he's quite a good bowler within that support role he occupies for South Africa. But I have heard people (like Bob Willis, and Brendan Julian and Damien Fleming now) make him out as being worse than he actually is, and as you say being quite unfair. I wish Australia had a spinner who could average 34!

  • Suraj Ramesh on March 19, 2009, 5:39 GMT

    By making Mike Brearley the captain, you are actually strengthening the team -- specifically because Brearley is rated one of the best captains ever. Who knows -- he might even be able to inspire this bunch of sorry losers to victory!

  • dizzy on March 19, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    Anand, i am fascinated by these analysis. Would appreciate if same is done for ODI's. Somehow current day Rankings too are not acceptable.I find nuwan kulasekaras position[1] in ODI rankings surprising

  • Alex C on March 19, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    Poor old Ian. He was picked partly because at first class level (he's much better at that level than many others on the list), he was a consistent and effective bowler and decent bat, and partly because good old Tuffers lackadasical attitude tothe game, plus a total lack of commitment to batting and especially fielding saw him repeatedly fall from favour. Salisbury always seemed to bowl 5 good balls and a 4-ball every over - and the in-out selection policy of the 90's didn;t help him any - spinners need to be given a decent run at test level and he never enjoyed more than a couple of games on trot, so he probably doesn't deserve to go down as the worst bowler in history.... Sami gets my vote....

  • Kartik on March 19, 2009, 5:03 GMT

    One thing in Agarkar's defense : he did win a Test for India with the ball, against the strongest team in the world on their home turf.

    For that alone, I will subjectively excuse him from scorn.

  • Kartik on March 19, 2009, 5:01 GMT

    Ananth,

    To answer your question on how Agarkar and Sami were selected for so many tests - the answer is simple.

    Both were quite good in ODIs. The selectors assumed that comparable results could be delivered in Tests. They were willing to give the player many chances, as their ODI form continued to be strong simultaneously with their poor Test performances.

    I would also ask why Dhoni's Test batting average is so much lower than his stupendous ODI average (particularly in the last 24 months).

    Lastly, your worst team is still not the worst, as it has the best captain! A team that has Brearly captaining it is not in the worst possible hands.

  • Kartik on March 19, 2009, 4:58 GMT

    Agarkar. He did really well in ODIs for a decade, and even now, I am a bit surprised that he is not being selected for ODIs anymore. Aside from his impressive strike rate, he played some solid knocks as a batsman as well.

    But test cricket was just a disaster for Agarkar. He has twice as many ODI wickets as any other bowler on this list. Also, let's not forget Agarkar's career as a Test batsman. 8 consecutive ducks. Virtually no innings of note other than one century.

    On that note - I recall how poorly Botham did in ODIs relative to tests.

  • alex on March 19, 2009, 3:53 GMT

    Powell, Sami and Agarkar are all okay ODI bowlers, but they lack the consistency to be great Test bowlers. Their sporadic pace and all-sorts line and length makes them hard to predict in ODI's however. It is similar why Shaun Tait is far more of a success in Tests than ODI's.

    Islam and Baisya were never Test quality but were picked for Bangladesh because there wasn't really anyone else. Wickramasinghe was a pretty average bowler but he fulfilled his supporting role to Vaas and Murali.

  • omarkc on March 19, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    agarkar had a decent odi career, sami and rana had even better ones, sami used to be fearsome in odis at one time.....but neither of the 3 are test quality bowlers, infact they are garbage in tests. rana and agarkar are situational bowlers and never dominate. sami on the other hand is an enigma..maybe he doesnt take the game seriously.

  • Ananth on March 19, 2009, 3:16 GMT

    As usual, a common response to comments. 1.Boje might have taken 100 wickets at 42+ but his batting average is 25+.

    2.I am glad that Agarkar found a aupporter or two. If there is a list of best Indian ODI bowlers, Agarkar will certainly be in the top-5.

    3.Again people are unfair to Harris. 23 tests/62 wkts/34.54 in no way qualifies him as a poor bowler.

    4.Petersen/Nayudu et al did not play enough matches. But CS Nayudu deserves a special entry for being one of the most under-performing players ever. 11 tests/batavge 9.19/2 wkts/bowavge 179. ???

    5.Rafique et al stayed out not because of any special reason. Whild their bowling average was between 40 and 50 their batting average was over 15. Anyhow someone who took 100 wickets playing for an awful team such as Bangladesh deserves some consideration.

  • mike of cnbra on March 19, 2009, 1:45 GMT

    I don't see why Rafique shouldn't be included. You've invented criteria to exclude him. I would much rather Jeff Jones and Haybag Hayes over him for example. Also Cuan McCarthy and Asif Masood. True that you would also have to include SA medium pacer Chud Langton who played on 14 shirtfronts in his 15 tests and that would explain his 45 bowling ave. On the one occasion he got assistance from the wicket he took 5/58 against a strong England side. But your criteria has excluded one of the most incompetent of all; CS Nayudu the brother of Indian legend CK. Whatever can be said of a man who took only 2 wkts in 11 tests and averaged almost 200 is still alot more complimentary than what you could say about the selectors who picked him.

  • nimravus on March 19, 2009, 1:11 GMT

    I feel you are leaving out two criterea in your worst ever team. Fielding and running between wickets. A Graham Wood may average over thirty in test cricket but he ran out so many partners it was made fun of in adverts. As for fielding this is harder to quantify but there have been some real howlers.

  • Prashanth on March 19, 2009, 0:31 GMT

    Wow ananth, i was looking forward to seeing one of the south african spinners in there.. either peterson or boje.. surprised theyve missed out, could only probably be because they wouldnt have fulfilled the minimum criteria.. can't be on their own 'merit'!

  • Jay Hanmantgad on March 18, 2009, 23:57 GMT

    Irrespective of the criterion, I think the captain has to be Maharaja of Vizzi :)

  • Vinay on March 18, 2009, 22:54 GMT

    Can you please tell me the average of Mohammed Sami in test matches that he played outside pakistan? I think he was as fast as Akhtar and Lee and pitches in Pakistan might have made him look the worst. But i do agree with Agarkars inclusion, his only great contribution to Indian Cricket is victory at Adelaide.

  • Vinay on March 18, 2009, 22:50 GMT

    How about a list of batsmen and bowlers who fared well against the best team of their Era? I mean list of batsmen who did well against WI in the 80's and Australia from 1997 and above?

  • Len Rogers on March 18, 2009, 22:33 GMT

    Mmmmm no Australians. Adds weight to the truism that bowlers win matches. Remember, Australia is the most successful team in test cricket history.

  • Marcus on March 18, 2009, 22:30 GMT

    I remember when Bob Willis said that Paul Harris was supposedly the worst bowler he'd seen- I guess this list headed by Salisbury puts it into perspective! (For the record I've always felt Harris was somewhat underrated).

    I'm disappointed, but not really surprised, to see Nixon McLeam in there. He underperformed, no doubt, but I once saw him in a one-dayer at Perth and he looked really good, like he could have become a real quality bowler some day. He wasn't given nearly as much of a chance as Powell, who's nowhere near as good IMO.

    Finally, tough call on Mashud as 'keeper! He was actually a decent gloveman who's batting might have been improved in a better team. Wasim Bari (av. 15) seems more appropriate- or, if you want to go in the other direction, how about Wayne Phillips?

  • Youvi on March 18, 2009, 21:39 GMT

    Fascinating statistics, Ananth. Mike Brearley finds a place here for his (lack of) Test batting success but nonetheless he is an interesting enigma. As I understand Brearley played as wicket-keeper/batsman at Cambridge for several years both as an undergraduate and a graduate student. So you could have Brearley as a wicket-keeper automatically ! Though, keep in mind, Brearley with 52 catches in 39 Tests was a very good slip fielder. I believe Brearley obtained a PhD in psychology and also currently works as a psychoanalyst and motivational speaker. It would be an interesting experiment what Dr. Brearley could do to inspire this team with his professional skills !

  • Jarrod Potter on March 18, 2009, 21:36 GMT

    Would it be fair comment to say that Agarkar is the worst player ever to post a test century?

    He was a deplorable "talent" If I ever saw.

  • Arif Attar on March 18, 2009, 21:23 GMT

    Mr. Bishal Sinha is talking about Iqbal Siddiqui from Maharashtra. To be fair to him, when he was selected for that Test Siddiqui was well past his prime. I never actually saw him bowl but had followed his career right from the time he made his Ranji Trophy debut for Maharashtra in the knock-out stages of the tournament. He was India's prime bowler in the under-19s. But never got a look in for international matches for India. When you consider that around the same time bowlers like Mhambrey, Kuruvilla, Dodda Ganesh, Johnson got their time in the sun, our selectors weren't fair on him. By the way Iqbal Siddiqui does hold the unique record of opening the bowling as well as the batting for a Test team on debut.

  • Samir Chopra on March 18, 2009, 20:23 GMT

    @gibbs: The problem with Sami was that he bowled a lot of short and wide nonsense. All that pace was put to good use - in sending the ball to the boundary. He also tried acting fearsome with his body language but that never hid the fact that he was bowling pies. I found the whole show quite ludicrous.

  • Godof86 on March 18, 2009, 19:52 GMT

    The reason Sami and Agarkar were pursued was that they both had stellar starts to their careers.. I remember when Agarkar first burst into the international arena. Reasonably quick, he used to get wickets by the bucketloads in ODIs. Also, one of the best Indian outfielders, IMHO. But alas, in about a season and a half, his form was gone. Forever, but for that day in Adelaide. It seemed Agarkar was almost replaced by an 'evil clone' .. who was pants as a bowler. And in that one-and-a-half season of glory, he hardly played tests if I remember correctly, because they were mostly in the subcontinent, and there India played with one pacer, who invariably was Srinath (who could, indeed take wickets on the dustbowls, unlike Agarkar). Similarly Sami. He started his test and one-day careers with a bang. A hat-trick in both his first test and ODI, IIRC. Well, he never could kick on... He kept on getting selected, I guess because selectors kept on selecting the promise, and not the performance

  • Mohsin ALi Khan on March 18, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    We Pakistanis strongly dismiss this list ,If Danish Kaneria is not included in your team we will look you as biased statistician. His OK average does not represent the "talent" he got to do hospitality of oppenent batsman

  • richard chadderton on March 18, 2009, 19:01 GMT

    you cant tell me agarkar is the worst bowler india have had. look at his odi stats, better then any other indians atm. he was just unlucky player

  • prasanth on March 18, 2009, 18:40 GMT

    what happened to hirwani, sanjay sharma, gopal sharma, chetan sharma, david noel, rashid patel, atul wassan, abey kuruvilla and the list goes on..... Hirwani had the potential of taking 1600 wickets in 100 tests going by the performance in his first.

  • Ved Datar on March 18, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    Regarding Agarkar, some of the comments here are just plain stupid. Calling him the worst Indian pacer does not do justice to him. He was in fact a very good swing bowler indeed. Just check out the delivery with which he bowled Kallis. you couldnt get a better a out swinger! Its just that he was the most inconsistent Indian pacer. Dazzling on a couple of balls while less than ordinary on the other four. How many times did it happen that he would have the batsman on the ropes only for the last ball of the over to be cracked for a boundary! He is probably amongst the worst underachievers in Indian cricket. The inconsistency thing also holds for Md Sami. As somebody pointed out there are many bowlers on the international circuit batsmen would prefer facing (and who arent in this list) than these two bowlers!

  • Bishal Sinha on March 18, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    Numbers dont lie..but Agarkar as one of the worst..He wasnt the best, far from it but he did contribute occasionally. Anyone remember any real screamers who dont meet Ananth's criteria. Off the top of my mind I remember a leftie seamer from baroda I think who played for against England in 1 test maybe 7-8 years ago..maybe Siddiqui?? Made me want to pad up against India, did that one. How about writing a column abt one innings wonders, which will essentially be the biggest difference in highest score(provided the highest score isnt more than 150) and career average with at least 20 tests under the belt, excluding tailenders.

  • wi supporter on March 18, 2009, 16:29 GMT

    i was looking forward to seeing daren powell on this list....possibly the worst bowler i've seen all my life...yet he is continually selected! WI cant be expected to continue their winning ways if powell is part of this team. He must go! [[ Powell, Agarkar, Sami are the surprises in this list, because of their continuous selection,not Manjural, Tapash Baisya et al. Ananth: ]]

  • Sandeep on March 18, 2009, 16:28 GMT

    Great work. But, while I agree that Brearly as a batsman was mediocre, Brearly as captain was brilliant. The worst team needs an incompetent captain who was also no good with his batting or bowling. Brearly, with his luck, could have won a few matches even with this team! Somebody like Lee Germon, perhaps(batting average of 21 in 12 tests)- and he could also solve the problem of the wicketkeepers position! [[ Sandeep It is an irony that Brearley cannot be included because of his sterling qualities as Captain. Lee Germon is a strong alternative. Ananth: ]]

  • Ashwath Sekhar on March 18, 2009, 16:18 GMT

    I think you are completely right with regard to agarkar. He is inarguably india's worst ever pacer. I think gavaskar was probably a better bowler than agarkar

  • moonuranus on March 18, 2009, 16:04 GMT

    Your criteria for the worst bowling list is vindicated by the presence of Agarkar and Sami. Well done!

  • gibbs on March 18, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    Ananth - another tremendously fascinating article. As a Kiwi I'm disappointed (but not overly surprised) to see so many NZ players featured in your past 2 analyses. I've long been aware of Mohammed Sami's awful bowling statistics, and as your analysis demonstrates, you can't fault his inclusion in this team on that basis. Still, something feels just plain wrong about having someone with that pace and destructive potential in an "all-time worst test team" - something tells me the average batsman would rather face a Powell or a Wickramasinghe any day of the week. Thanks for the article [[ Gibbs There are not that many Kiwis in this list as in the worst batting list. Ananth: ]]

  • reddy_in_houston on March 18, 2009, 15:08 GMT

    I never thought Mohd.Sami was that bad bowler. May be it has got something to do with the pitches in Pakistan. I guess you can check all the tests Sami has played and what was the bowling avg. of his fellow bowlers. I guess that would be fair to Sami.

  • srini on March 18, 2009, 15:07 GMT

    at first i thought agarkar played becos sachin was cap'n & marathi. then ganguly wanted him, then dravid wanted him. i couldnt believe it. it boggles my mind that he played so long. an analogy would be jean alain boumsong. everybody knew he sucked but somehow he started from team to team including his national side (france). how can so many people be so stupid at the same time?

  • Ash Zed on March 18, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    Great team !!!

    I am disappointed not to find Danish Kenaria in this "worst of the worst" team although he fully deserve a place there. He is perhaps one of the most over-rated bowler who end up taking over 100 wickets. Perhaps you can have him as 12th man due to his sloppy fielding ??

    Anyway, yet another good work Ananth. [[ Ash You are being very unfair to Kaneria. 53 tests, 225 wickets at an average of 34.88 is better than many a specialist bowler. Ananth: ]]

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Ash Zed on March 18, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    Great team !!!

    I am disappointed not to find Danish Kenaria in this "worst of the worst" team although he fully deserve a place there. He is perhaps one of the most over-rated bowler who end up taking over 100 wickets. Perhaps you can have him as 12th man due to his sloppy fielding ??

    Anyway, yet another good work Ananth. [[ Ash You are being very unfair to Kaneria. 53 tests, 225 wickets at an average of 34.88 is better than many a specialist bowler. Ananth: ]]

  • srini on March 18, 2009, 15:07 GMT

    at first i thought agarkar played becos sachin was cap'n & marathi. then ganguly wanted him, then dravid wanted him. i couldnt believe it. it boggles my mind that he played so long. an analogy would be jean alain boumsong. everybody knew he sucked but somehow he started from team to team including his national side (france). how can so many people be so stupid at the same time?

  • reddy_in_houston on March 18, 2009, 15:08 GMT

    I never thought Mohd.Sami was that bad bowler. May be it has got something to do with the pitches in Pakistan. I guess you can check all the tests Sami has played and what was the bowling avg. of his fellow bowlers. I guess that would be fair to Sami.

  • gibbs on March 18, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    Ananth - another tremendously fascinating article. As a Kiwi I'm disappointed (but not overly surprised) to see so many NZ players featured in your past 2 analyses. I've long been aware of Mohammed Sami's awful bowling statistics, and as your analysis demonstrates, you can't fault his inclusion in this team on that basis. Still, something feels just plain wrong about having someone with that pace and destructive potential in an "all-time worst test team" - something tells me the average batsman would rather face a Powell or a Wickramasinghe any day of the week. Thanks for the article [[ Gibbs There are not that many Kiwis in this list as in the worst batting list. Ananth: ]]

  • moonuranus on March 18, 2009, 16:04 GMT

    Your criteria for the worst bowling list is vindicated by the presence of Agarkar and Sami. Well done!

  • Ashwath Sekhar on March 18, 2009, 16:18 GMT

    I think you are completely right with regard to agarkar. He is inarguably india's worst ever pacer. I think gavaskar was probably a better bowler than agarkar

  • Sandeep on March 18, 2009, 16:28 GMT

    Great work. But, while I agree that Brearly as a batsman was mediocre, Brearly as captain was brilliant. The worst team needs an incompetent captain who was also no good with his batting or bowling. Brearly, with his luck, could have won a few matches even with this team! Somebody like Lee Germon, perhaps(batting average of 21 in 12 tests)- and he could also solve the problem of the wicketkeepers position! [[ Sandeep It is an irony that Brearley cannot be included because of his sterling qualities as Captain. Lee Germon is a strong alternative. Ananth: ]]

  • wi supporter on March 18, 2009, 16:29 GMT

    i was looking forward to seeing daren powell on this list....possibly the worst bowler i've seen all my life...yet he is continually selected! WI cant be expected to continue their winning ways if powell is part of this team. He must go! [[ Powell, Agarkar, Sami are the surprises in this list, because of their continuous selection,not Manjural, Tapash Baisya et al. Ananth: ]]

  • Bishal Sinha on March 18, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    Numbers dont lie..but Agarkar as one of the worst..He wasnt the best, far from it but he did contribute occasionally. Anyone remember any real screamers who dont meet Ananth's criteria. Off the top of my mind I remember a leftie seamer from baroda I think who played for against England in 1 test maybe 7-8 years ago..maybe Siddiqui?? Made me want to pad up against India, did that one. How about writing a column abt one innings wonders, which will essentially be the biggest difference in highest score(provided the highest score isnt more than 150) and career average with at least 20 tests under the belt, excluding tailenders.

  • Ved Datar on March 18, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    Regarding Agarkar, some of the comments here are just plain stupid. Calling him the worst Indian pacer does not do justice to him. He was in fact a very good swing bowler indeed. Just check out the delivery with which he bowled Kallis. you couldnt get a better a out swinger! Its just that he was the most inconsistent Indian pacer. Dazzling on a couple of balls while less than ordinary on the other four. How many times did it happen that he would have the batsman on the ropes only for the last ball of the over to be cracked for a boundary! He is probably amongst the worst underachievers in Indian cricket. The inconsistency thing also holds for Md Sami. As somebody pointed out there are many bowlers on the international circuit batsmen would prefer facing (and who arent in this list) than these two bowlers!