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

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