Tests - bowling August 7, 2009

Test bowlers analysis: a follow-up

Based on the comments received, both in public and personal mails, I have made some tweaks to the Test Bowlers Analysis
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Based on the comments received, both in public and personal mails, I have made the following tweaks to the Test Bowlers Analysis.

Match performance ratings

1. Halve the balls bowled base points (a wicket equivalent for about 45 overs).
2. Introduce the bowler strike rate, in relation to team strike rate, as a new base measure, at a relatively lower weight.
3. Minor changes to the batsman dismissed base point calculation, to be based on recent form. This will lower the value of wickets of top batsmen while going through a poor patch and increase the weight of capturing in-form batsmen.

Career measures:

1. Have a cut-off of 200 wickets for the current era, reducing the number from 89 to 44. We have lost Shoaib Akhtar, Steyn, Alderman, Bishop et al. But it cannot be helped.
2. Increase the Wickets weight from 5 points to 7.5 points. Within this, do a 5% on either side (105% & 95%) valuation for away and home wickets.
3. Correspondingly reduce the Wickets per Innspell weight from 5 points to 2.5 points.
4. Remove the Performance Ratio measure, the last column in the table.
5. Instead introduce the Peer Comparison ratios. This time I have allotted an equal weight for strike Rate and accuracy.
6. Introduce a simple 5-Test slice based Consistency index using wickets captured as the indicator. Also include the % of wicket spells out of qualifying spells as a consistency measure.

Revised allocations of the Career points:

The points have gone up to 45 and there is a slight increase in the Match performance points because of changes in Base points calculation.

- Career wickets captured (7.5 points)
- Career wickets per innspell (2.5 points)
- Bowling Strike rate-BpW (9 points)
- Bowling accuracy-RpO (6 points)
- Consistency (4) points
- Average Quality of batsmen dismissed - based on CtD bat avge (5 points)
- Type of wickets captured - Top/Middle order/Late order (3 points)
- Peer ratio: Strike rate (4 points)
- Peer ratio: Accuracy (RpO) (4 points).

Let us look at the revised tables. I am not going to make too many comments and will let the readers draw their own conclusions. The overall feeling I get is that there are not that many changes indicating that the initial methodology itself was quite sound.

1. Current era (1970-2000): Table of top bowlers

```No.Cty Bowler         BT  Total Match  Wkt  Bow Bow  Wkt  Wkt  Cons Peer Peer
Pts   Perf  Pts StRt Acc BtAvg Qlty  Idx  S/R  RpO
Max 85-90 40-45 10.0  9.0 6.0  5.5  2.5   4.0  4.0  4.0

1.Slk Muralitharan M ROB 56.95 22.76 8.24 6.89 4.47 4.01 2.05 3.62 2.48 2.43
2.Nzl Hadlee R.J     RFM 54.46 22.03 5.33 7.89 3.89 4.73 2.10 3.58 2.88 2.03
3.Aus Warne S.K      RLB 53.79 22.13 7.33 6.59 4.18 3.69 1.89 3.43 2.35 2.20
4.Aus Lillee D.K     RF  53.18 21.83 4.53 7.81 3.68 4.92 2.18 3.55 2.81 1.88
5.Pak Imran Khan     RF  52.70 21.36 4.60 7.55 3.98 5.15 2.14 3.11 2.72 2.09
6.Win Marshall M.D   RF  50.85 18.99 4.55 8.19 3.88 4.59 2.21 3.32 3.09 2.02
7.Aus McGrath G.D    RFM 50.80 18.94 5.93 7.21 4.39 3.84 2.24 3.27 2.63 2.36
8.Pak Waqar Younis   RFM 49.73 19.41 4.56 8.15 3.35 4.07 2.12 3.19 3.16 1.72
9.Saf Donald A.A     RF  49.29 18.68 4.21 7.71 3.85 4.01 2.22 3.73 2.94 1.95
10.Win Ambrose C.E.L  RF  49.27 18.67 4.71 7.06 4.41 4.00 2.17 3.33 2.52 2.40

11.Ind Kumble A       RLB 49.22 19.07 6.54 5.65 4.12 4.13 2.03 3.47 2.03 2.18
12.Pak Wasim Akram    LFM 48.70 18.77 4.85 7.06 4.11 3.91 1.95 3.37 2.56 2.13
13.Win Holding M.A    RF  47.76 17.43 3.39 7.90 3.70 5.06 2.17 3.39 2.80 1.92
14.Saf Pollock S.M    RFM 47.64 17.53 4.72 6.55 4.57 4.04 2.12 3.30 2.32 2.50
15.Win Garner J       RF  47.26 17.11 3.49 7.84 4.10 4.44 1.99 3.32 2.80 2.16
16.Aus Thomson J.R    RF  47.23 17.75 3.01 7.76 3.21 5.44 2.36 3.31 2.73 1.66
17.Win Walsh C.A      RF  47.16 16.56 5.54 6.76 4.15 4.13 2.06 3.38 2.42 2.16
18.Eng Willis R.G.D   RF  46.99 16.75 3.93 7.70 3.60 4.51 2.24 3.68 2.75 1.83
19.Aus McDermott C.J  RF  46.86 18.32 3.80 6.93 3.53 4.35 2.27 3.31 2.54 1.81
20.Eng Botham I.T     RFM 46.68 17.68 4.55 7.09 3.52 4.51 2.08 2.93 2.54 1.79
```
Let me make one thing clear. Any one of the top-10 bowlers, possibly Donald excepted and Wasim Akram/Holding considered instead, could easily be considered the best of this era. Do not start sending brickbats because who you think (your) best bowler is placed at 3rd or 5th or 6th or 17th ... Instead think of this table, especially the top-10, as a list of the greatest bowlers of this era, with Muralitharan the first among equals.

The significant changes can be summarised below.

1. The most significant change is that Lillee and Hadlee exchange places with Hadlee moving to second and Lillee to fourth place. Warne remains sandwiched between these two great bowlers.
2. Imran, Marshall, McGrath and Waqar retain their places in the top-10 indicating that the changes cancelled each other out and their relative placings remained.
3. The next significant change is that Kumble moves out of the top-10 and is replaced by Donald. This is probably due to the differential weighing of home and away wickets. Donald and Ambrose are welcome additions to the top-10.
4. The sub-200 wicket brigade of Reid, Croft, Akhtar and Lawson move out of the top-20 and are replaced by the worthy quintet of Shaun Pollock, Garner, Walsh, Willis and McDermott.
5. The next significant change is that Harbhajan Singh moves out of the top-20 and is replaced by Botham. This is probably due to the differential weighing of home and away wickets.

To view the complete list, please click here.

2. Middle era (1920-1969): Table of top bowlers

```No.Cty Bowler         BT  Total Match  Wkt  Bow Bow  Wkt  Wkt  Cons Peer Peer
Pts   Perf  Pts StRt Acc BtAvg Qlty  Idx  S/R  RpO
Max 85-90 40-45 10.0  9.0 6.0  5.5  2.5   4.0  4.0  4.0

1.Aus O'Reilly W.J   RLB 53.42 24.74 2.95 6.01 4.47 4.62 1.98 3.83 2.12 2.71
2.Aus Grimmett C.V   RLB 53.34 24.74 3.68 6.22 4.27 4.22 1.96 3.62 2.27 2.35
3.Pak Fazal Mahmood  RFM 50.02 22.99 2.90 6.15 3.87 4.32 2.29 3.09 2.26 2.15
4.Eng Trueman F.S    RF  49.75 19.37 4.01 8.77 3.38 3.56 2.05 3.57 3.31 1.73
5.Saf Tayfield H.J   ROB 47.97 21.54 3.08 5.02 3.98 4.93 2.01 3.16 1.95 2.29
6.Eng Laker J.C      ROB 47.74 19.09 3.01 7.09 3.86 4.33 2.19 3.38 2.58 2.21
7.Ind ChandrasekharB RLB 46.43 18.65 3.52 6.62 3.56 4.50 2.12 3.26 2.40 1.82
8.Win Hall W.W       RF  46.29 18.46 2.95 8.22 3.15 3.44 2.33 3.11 3.00 1.64
9.Aus McKenzie G.D   RF  46.26 18.97 3.38 6.06 3.67 4.39 2.26 3.36 2.25 1.92
10.Eng Bedser A.V     RFM 46.25 18.72 3.47 6.48 3.70 3.85 2.15 3.35 2.42 2.12

11.Aus Davidson A.K   LFM 46.21 17.98 2.92 7.15 4.01 3.98 2.13 3.22 2.52 2.29
12.Eng Snow J.A       RFM 45.87 18.06 2.98 7.36 3.56 3.69 2.17 3.57 2.64 1.83
13.Eng Underwood D.L  LSP 44.99 17.00 3.68 5.55 4.30 4.62 2.29 3.14 2.03 2.39
14.Ind Bedi B.S       LSP 44.79 17.55 3.60 4.77 4.20 4.50 2.20 3.75 1.88 2.33
15.Aus Lindwall R.R   RF  44.74 15.74 3.09 7.47 3.62 4.67 2.12 3.35 2.71 1.97
16.Saf Pollock P.M    RF  44.48 17.35 2.35 7.95 3.55 3.68 2.17 2.71 2.86 1.85
17.Ind Gupte S.P      RLB 43.90 18.42 2.84 5.53 3.61 3.59 2.07 3.85 2.08 1.90
18.Eng Statham J.B    RFM 43.81 15.81 3.32 7.03 3.65 3.70 2.26 3.54 2.54 1.95
19.Nzl Taylor B.R     RFM 43.79 16.21 2.23 7.67 3.41 4.28 2.32 3.13 2.81 1.72
20.Eng Tate M.W       RFM 43.78 18.11 2.66 4.70 4.52 4.09 2.11 3.07 1.90 2.62
```
The most significant change is that Grimmett and O'Reilly exchange places with O'Reilly moving to the top place and Grimmett to second place. The two great fast bowlers, Fazal Mahmood and Trueman move up couple of places. The top-10 remains the same. The main change here is that Grimmett

To view the complete list, please click here.

3. Pre-WW1 era (1877-1914): Table of top bowlers

```No.Cty Bowler         BT  Total Match  Wkt  Bow Bow  Wkt  Wkt  Cons Peer Peer
Pts   Perf  Pts StRt Acc BtAvg Qlty  Idx  S/R  RpO
Max 85-90 40-45 10.0  9.0 6.0  5.5  2.5   4.0  4.0  4.0

1.Eng Barnes S.F     RFM 55.86 26.38 3.89 6.95 4.06 3.37 2.17 3.92 2.78 2.35
2.Eng Lohmann G.A    RFM 47.17 17.98 3.01 7.57 4.59 2.65 2.01 3.81 3.06 2.50
3.Aus Turner C.T.B   RFM 46.11 18.04 2.89 6.07 4.54 3.97 2.32 3.93 1.96 2.39
4.Aus Saunders J.V   LSP 45.11 19.16 2.45 6.60 3.33 3.40 2.09 3.84 2.44 1.80
5.Eng Richardson T   RF  44.71 19.21 3.11 6.07 3.39 3.30 2.15 3.33 2.39 1.75
6.Aus Spofforth F.R  RFM 44.42 17.03 2.69 6.69 3.93 4.10 2.14 3.36 2.73 1.75
7.Eng Blythe C       LSP 44.39 17.63 2.47 6.60 3.96 3.30 2.43 3.33 2.44 2.22
8.Eng Peel R         LSP 43.99 18.29 2.57 6.07 4.50 2.69 2.12 3.33 2.04 2.38
9.Aus Trumble H      ROB 43.94 17.20 2.67 5.54 4.16 4.79 2.13 3.14 2.00 2.31
10.Aus Cotter A       RFM 43.17 17.72 2.27 5.98 3.01 4.30 2.29 3.71 2.19 1.69

11.Aus Palmer G.E     ROB 41.59 15.57 2.35 5.54 4.21 3.91 2.04 3.85 2.14 1.98
12.Aus Giffen G       ROB 41.53 17.75 2.57 5.10 3.78 3.53 2.13 3.22 1.71 1.74
13.Aus Noble M.A      ROB 40.92 15.27 2.33 5.37 3.87 4.85 1.96 3.24 1.93 2.11
14.Eng Briggs J       LSP 40.08 14.46 2.55 6.60 4.07 2.93 2.01 3.00 2.44 2.02
15.Saf Faulkner G.A   RLB 39.58 14.88 2.06 6.61 3.24 3.47 1.94 3.26 2.35 1.78
16.Eng Rhodes W       LSP 37.08 13.57 2.17 5.49 3.91 3.54 1.80 2.45 2.03 2.13
17.Eng Woolley F.E    LSP 32.26  9.93 1.51 4.41 3.79 4.10 2.06 2.63 1.82 2.01
18.Aus Armstrong W.W  RLB 32.07 10.78 1.58 2.55 4.26 4.00 2.17 2.94 1.22 2.58

Avge Rating points: 42.44
```
No major changes.

4. Across all Tests: Table of top pace bowlers

```No.Cty Bowler         BT  Total Match  Wkt  Bow Bow  Wkt  Wkt  Cons Peer Peer
Pts   Perf  Pts StRt Acc BtAvg Qlty  Idx  S/R  RpO
Max 85-90 40-45 10.0  9.0 6.0  5.5  2.5   4.0  4.0  4.0

1.Eng Barnes S.F     RFM 55.86 26.38 3.89 6.95 4.06 3.37 2.17 3.92 2.78 2.35
2.Nzl Hadlee R.J     RFM 54.46 22.03 5.33 7.89 3.89 4.73 2.10 3.58 2.88 2.03
3.Aus Lillee D.K     RF  53.18 21.83 4.53 7.81 3.68 4.92 2.18 3.55 2.81 1.88
4.Pak Imran Khan     RF  52.70 21.36 4.60 7.55 3.98 5.15 2.14 3.11 2.72 2.09
5.Win Marshall M.D   RF  50.85 18.99 4.55 8.19 3.88 4.59 2.21 3.32 3.09 2.02
6.Aus McGrath G.D    RFM 50.80 18.94 5.93 7.21 4.39 3.84 2.24 3.27 2.63 2.36
7.Pak Fazal Mahmood  RFM 50.02 22.99 2.90 6.15 3.87 4.32 2.29 3.09 2.26 2.15
8.Eng Trueman F.S    RF  49.75 19.37 4.01 8.77 3.38 3.56 2.05 3.57 3.31 1.73
9.Pak Waqar Younis   RFM 49.73 19.41 4.56 8.15 3.35 4.07 2.12 3.19 3.16 1.72
10.Saf Donald A.A     RF  49.29 18.68 4.21 7.71 3.85 4.01 2.22 3.73 2.94 1.95

11.Win Ambrose C.E.L  RF  49.27 18.67 4.71 7.06 4.41 4.00 2.17 3.33 2.52 2.40
12.Pak Wasim Akram    LFM 48.70 18.77 4.85 7.06 4.11 3.91 1.95 3.37 2.56 2.13
13.Win Holding M.A    RF  47.76 17.43 3.39 7.90 3.70 5.06 2.17 3.39 2.80 1.92
14.Saf Pollock S.M    RFM 47.64 17.53 4.72 6.55 4.57 4.04 2.12 3.30 2.32 2.50
15.Win Garner J       RF  47.26 17.11 3.49 7.84 4.10 4.44 1.99 3.32 2.80 2.16
16.Aus Thomson J.R    RF  47.23 17.75 3.01 7.76 3.21 5.44 2.36 3.31 2.73 1.66
17.Eng Lohmann G.A    RFM 47.17 17.98 3.01 7.57 4.59 2.65 2.01 3.81 3.06 2.50
18.Win Walsh C.A      RF  47.16 16.56 5.54 6.76 4.15 4.13 2.06 3.38 2.42 2.16
19.Eng Willis R.G.D   RF  46.99 16.75 3.93 7.70 3.60 4.51 2.24 3.68 2.75 1.83
20.Aus McDermott C.J  RF  46.86 18.32 3.80 6.93 3.53 4.35 2.27 3.31 2.54 1.81
```
It is no surprise that Sydney Barnes is the top-rated Pace/Medium Pace bowler of all time. Helpful wickets notwithstanding, 7 wickets per test at 16.43 is the stuff of the top-most drawer. The five great modern bowlers, Hadlee, Lillee, Imran, Marshall and McGrath follow next. Can one of these bowlers be denied this high position. Then come the two great pace bowlers of the mid era and then the master of the late swing and the white lightning. Look at the next ten bowlers and you will see how tough this table is.

To view the complete list, please click here.

5. Across all Tests: Table of top spinners

```No.Cty Bowler         BT  Total Match  Wkt  Bow Bow  Wkt  Wkt  Cons Peer Peer
Pts   Perf  Pts StRt Acc BtAvg Qlty  Idx  S/R  RpO
Max 85-90 40-45 10.0  9.0 6.0  5.5  2.5   4.0  4.0  4.0

1.Slk Muralitharan M ROB 56.95 22.76 8.24 6.89 4.47 4.01 2.05 3.62 2.48 2.43
2.Aus Warne S.K      RLB 53.79 22.13 7.33 6.59 4.18 3.69 1.89 3.43 2.35 2.20
3.Aus O'Reilly W.J   RLB 53.42 24.74 2.95 6.01 4.47 4.62 1.98 3.83 2.12 2.71
4.Aus Grimmett C.V   RLB 53.34 24.74 3.68 6.22 4.27 4.22 1.96 3.62 2.27 2.35
5.Ind Kumble A       RLB 49.22 19.07 6.54 5.65 4.12 4.13 2.03 3.47 2.03 2.18
6.Saf Tayfield H.J   ROB 47.97 21.54 3.08 5.02 3.98 4.93 2.01 3.16 1.95 2.29
7.Eng Laker J.C      ROB 47.74 19.09 3.01 7.09 3.86 4.33 2.19 3.38 2.58 2.21
8.Ind HarbhajanSingh ROB 46.63 19.42 4.14 5.67 4.13 3.81 1.89 3.37 2.03 2.17
9.Ind ChandrasekharB RLB 46.43 18.65 3.52 6.62 3.56 4.50 2.12 3.26 2.40 1.82
10.Pak SaqlainMushtaq ROB 45.26 18.80 3.22 5.54 4.19 3.95 1.96 3.42 2.00 2.17

11.Eng Underwood D.L  LSP 44.99 17.00 3.68 5.55 4.30 4.62 2.29 3.14 2.03 2.39
12.Ind Bedi B.S       LSP 44.79 17.55 3.60 4.77 4.20 4.50 2.20 3.75 1.88 2.33
13.Aus MacGill S.C.G  RLB 44.77 18.26 3.16 6.81 3.58 3.65 1.83 3.16 2.44 1.87
14.Eng Blythe C       LSP 44.39 17.63 2.47 6.60 3.96 3.30 2.43 3.33 2.44 2.22
15.Eng Peel R         LSP 43.99 18.29 2.57 6.07 4.50 2.69 2.12 3.33 2.04 2.38
16.Aus Trumble H      ROB 43.94 17.20 2.67 5.54 4.16 4.79 2.13 3.14 2.00 2.31
17.Ind Gupte S.P      RLB 43.90 18.42 2.84 5.53 3.61 3.59 2.07 3.85 2.08 1.90
18.Aus Johnston W.A   LSP 43.71 16.63 2.59 6.24 3.83 4.10 2.27 3.50 2.32 2.24
19.Aus Benaud R       RLB 43.52 17.76 3.40 5.30 3.89 3.97 2.01 2.98 2.05 2.16
20.Win Gibbs L.R      ROB 43.48 17.88 3.83 4.03 4.23 4.01 1.92 3.32 1.82 2.45
```
As expected Muralitharan is on top by a comfortable margin from the trio of the greatest leg-spinners of all time, viz., Warne, O'Reilly and Grimmett. Then another totally different leg spinner, Kumble. Afterwards come a plethora of off-spinners, led by Tayfield and Laker. Chandrasekhar splits these off spinners. Bedi and Underwood follow immediately afterwards. If readers are surprised to see MacGill so high on the table, do not forget that he was devastating in Australia with a haul of nearly 5 wickets per test and a strike rate better than Murali.

To view the complete list, please click here.

I have done another selection. From each era I have picked the best 5-bowler balanced attack. This is my selection. You could do your own selection and mail me for publication. There are no restrictions whatsoever. This is your opportunity to have Marshall or Snow or Imran Khan or whoever lead the attack.

Current: Holding, McGrath, Wasim Akram, Warne and Muralitharan.
(Wasim Akram gets the nod over Waqar Younis for the sake of variety).

Middle: Trueman, Larwood, Davidson, Grimmett, Bedi.

Pre-WW1: Barnes, Lohmann, Turner, Spofforth, Briggs.

In the next few days I will come out with the Peer-based tables for different aspects of Test Batting.

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

• Nayana on August 2, 2012, 5:39 GMT

First shot across the Shane Warners' bows:Against the best peralys of spin, India, a comparison of Warne and Murali's record (from Statsguru):SK Warne43 wickets at 47.18M Muralitharan 97 wickets at 33.34Even if Murali played 1.5 times matches more than Warne against India, he's been consistently better than Warne against the best peralys of spin, i.e., IndiaPlus Murali didn't always a have a McGrath at the other end (until at least Vaas came into his own and much much later, for one series, Ajantha Mendis)Ignoring the number of wickets taken, this alone illustrates why Murali was just that one step better than Warne. Plus, Warne didn't save as many tsunami hit fishermen either. Make that two shots across the bow.

• Jimmy 1 on February 23, 2010, 1:55 GMT

Some people call Warne's delivery the ball of the century. Hadlee's inswinging leg cutter @ 135 - 140 km/hr surpassed it easily. I have never seen another bowler of pace with the ball "on a string" like Hadlee - 9 wicket haul (and caught out the 10th) against Australia in Brisbane an absolute master class. Pair him with a "demon" like Ambrose to open, then bring him back in tandem with Imran or Waquar - because he could do it all with a anew or old ball. Disregarding batting is plain nuts. Too often Tests have been won or saved by lower order batsmen. Keep the weighting low - but don't disregard. Bottom line - grweat analyses, and superb attempt to consider all the vagaries of the Great Game. Well done! Simon The batting has not been disregarded. The wicket quality is integrated. The top order wickets have been given more importance, that is all. In a Player analysis, batting and bowlingf will be given equal importance. Ananth

• Kris on August 20, 2009, 7:49 GMT

I was watching a bit of the SL vs. NZL test match on and they showed an old scorecard against NZL at the same venue. With Fleming scoring 274* and 69*. Just to add some weight about Muralis impotence against the top lefties (not the avg. leftie), I checked Fleming’s stats against SL: 10 innings, 733 runs @ 104.7,2 100s, 3 50s!! (ALL the matches were played in SL!!)Murali got him just once...in 1998, 2 inn. at Galle with NZ in an as it is useless position!

• Kris on August 20, 2009, 4:42 GMT

@Less I agree with you –but to a point. I too feel that at his best Donald was way more dangerous a bowler than Mcgrath. But longevity, in any sport, simply has to be given its due. It is almost the most basic stat in any sport: highest number of wickets, runs, home runs, grand slams, world championships, world records…you name it. This figure is central to determining greatness, though of course not the end all. But a simple way out of this conundrum is simply this: to recognize that although a single “bowler” analysis has been conducted, fast bowlers are simply a DIFFERENT breed than the rest of the bowlers and so will never be able to match the other bowlers on the longevity front. The sheer workload/body stress on the express pace bowlers will naturally take its toll. The Hadlees/Mcgraths are at best Fast medium/seam and could never clock 95mph with any regularity. A lot of bowlers can hit a good speed with their “effort” balls…but certainly not consistently. And is almost physically impossible for the consistently 90mph+ bowlers to bowl for 20yrs and take 7/800 wickets. So we simply recognize the fast bowlers as a different species from the spinners/seamers…but as you mention this doesn’t at all necessarily mean that the Muralis/Warnes/Mcgraths were “better” bowlers than the Donalds/Waqars/Bonds. (PS: In a way this also extends to the Tendulkars/Inzys/Jayasuriyas who also had to weather the extra stress of ODIs and the consequent impact this made on their Test stats)

• Less on August 19, 2009, 16:39 GMT

Why don't you turn wickets taken into an average? lets saw wickets/innings. Longetivity should hardly decide who the best bowler is. The likes of Murali/Warne/Mcgrath are bound to fall down a bit and Donald and Younis rising. I just feel this may give us a better picture on who was the better bowler.

• adnan on August 18, 2009, 6:55 GMT

my bowling attack will start with wasim and waqar, the two guys with highest number of bowled and lbw wickets. the two who could produced controled and unplayable swing with any bowling at any field in any conditions. the two had the heart of bowling full and to the best bolwers where other bowlers preffered short and fast, the two had the heart of bowling short and slow called slow bouncers. i once heared wasim saying that you realy have to be wasim or waqar to bowl slow bouncers. the spinning plce goes to sqlain mustaq again for innovation and art, sqlain has the best strike rate among fast and slow bolwers, he was probably the first bowler in which any captain showed the trust of giving him the ball in power plays and end over and that too consistently and he produced the results, donald is definitly the smartest and wishful bolwer and should be on the list, it was delight wacting donald with committment and aggression obvious from his face while he was bowling and ambrose 5 bolwer

• adnan on August 18, 2009, 6:43 GMT

statistics is one thing and art and entertainment is another, waqar the innovator and striker is the best bowler because i think he was the only bowler to take wickets at will and was not supported by great fielding. he produced magic with mighty force and threatened the best batsmen with his magic and power. the toe crusher and drivers by him were the real enjoying sites in the cricket history. he produced the magic and art with wasim and many a times single handedly overshadowed the best batting line ups

• Kris on August 18, 2009, 6:07 GMT

[[ Kris & (Vijay) I am posting this message to say that there will be no comments on Test individual innings. As and when I do an article on that, let us have the debate. If you have anything to say on Test Bowlers or the Peer comparisons, please come out. Else please wait. Ananth: ]]

• Vijay on August 17, 2009, 17:01 GMT

Good point by Yash about the best bowling performances. Hey Anant, you know what...you may include such top performances with a minimum weight in the bowler ratings table. A bowler who was involved in many such awesome single-performances gains. That way an aspect of the wow factor which is not necessarily statistical can be brought into this primarily statistical analysis. After all, its the wow performances that keep us all engrossed. And while we are at it, let me opine that the Wisden top 100 hundreds wasn't really the top 100s even statistically. Just an example - a Sachin 136 in the 4th innings against an amazing Paki attack does not get counted while a Kapil 129 in the 3rd innings gets in. Something is wrong somewhere...could be an error while copy-pasting some formulas, or whatever, but check it once...it is not statistically intuitive as well. More so when you state (was it you?) that that 136 would've made it among the top ten had India managed to win the match. [[ Vijay I only made that comment to answer a question comparing Lara's 153 (which took WI to a win) and Tendulkar's 136 (do not forget that the match was lost). Ananth: ]]

• Yash Rungta on August 17, 2009, 11:33 GMT

I'm going a little off-topic, but can you let us know with your analysis what are the top 10 bowling spells (and also top 10 batting innings).

In batting, it might be Laxman's 281 or Bradman's 270 or Greenidges 200+ or one of Lara's 153*/277 etc. In bowling, it might be Ambrose's 7/25 or Kumble's 10/74, I just can't even think of many!

Any chance of that happening Ananth? Maybe a new blog?

[[ Yash You are not off topic at all. You are very much on the button. The best performances will be done by me sometime in the near future. Even though the current match performance is the basis for this, for an independent match performance analysis I will go much further as I did for Wisden-100. You are spot on for batting. The 270, 153* and 281 are in the top-6 of Wisden-100. In bowling look further to Tayfield's 9 for 113 and White's 8 for 126. Of course Kumble's and Laker's 10-wkt hauls are right up there. Also Willis' 8 for 43. You will be surprised at how high Hoggard's 7 for 61 is. Will certainly do one of these days (or weeks) (or months) !!! Ananth: ]]

• Nayana on August 2, 2012, 5:39 GMT

First shot across the Shane Warners' bows:Against the best peralys of spin, India, a comparison of Warne and Murali's record (from Statsguru):SK Warne43 wickets at 47.18M Muralitharan 97 wickets at 33.34Even if Murali played 1.5 times matches more than Warne against India, he's been consistently better than Warne against the best peralys of spin, i.e., IndiaPlus Murali didn't always a have a McGrath at the other end (until at least Vaas came into his own and much much later, for one series, Ajantha Mendis)Ignoring the number of wickets taken, this alone illustrates why Murali was just that one step better than Warne. Plus, Warne didn't save as many tsunami hit fishermen either. Make that two shots across the bow.

• Jimmy 1 on February 23, 2010, 1:55 GMT

Some people call Warne's delivery the ball of the century. Hadlee's inswinging leg cutter @ 135 - 140 km/hr surpassed it easily. I have never seen another bowler of pace with the ball "on a string" like Hadlee - 9 wicket haul (and caught out the 10th) against Australia in Brisbane an absolute master class. Pair him with a "demon" like Ambrose to open, then bring him back in tandem with Imran or Waquar - because he could do it all with a anew or old ball. Disregarding batting is plain nuts. Too often Tests have been won or saved by lower order batsmen. Keep the weighting low - but don't disregard. Bottom line - grweat analyses, and superb attempt to consider all the vagaries of the Great Game. Well done! Simon The batting has not been disregarded. The wicket quality is integrated. The top order wickets have been given more importance, that is all. In a Player analysis, batting and bowlingf will be given equal importance. Ananth

• Kris on August 20, 2009, 7:49 GMT

I was watching a bit of the SL vs. NZL test match on and they showed an old scorecard against NZL at the same venue. With Fleming scoring 274* and 69*. Just to add some weight about Muralis impotence against the top lefties (not the avg. leftie), I checked Fleming’s stats against SL: 10 innings, 733 runs @ 104.7,2 100s, 3 50s!! (ALL the matches were played in SL!!)Murali got him just once...in 1998, 2 inn. at Galle with NZ in an as it is useless position!

• Kris on August 20, 2009, 4:42 GMT

@Less I agree with you –but to a point. I too feel that at his best Donald was way more dangerous a bowler than Mcgrath. But longevity, in any sport, simply has to be given its due. It is almost the most basic stat in any sport: highest number of wickets, runs, home runs, grand slams, world championships, world records…you name it. This figure is central to determining greatness, though of course not the end all. But a simple way out of this conundrum is simply this: to recognize that although a single “bowler” analysis has been conducted, fast bowlers are simply a DIFFERENT breed than the rest of the bowlers and so will never be able to match the other bowlers on the longevity front. The sheer workload/body stress on the express pace bowlers will naturally take its toll. The Hadlees/Mcgraths are at best Fast medium/seam and could never clock 95mph with any regularity. A lot of bowlers can hit a good speed with their “effort” balls…but certainly not consistently. And is almost physically impossible for the consistently 90mph+ bowlers to bowl for 20yrs and take 7/800 wickets. So we simply recognize the fast bowlers as a different species from the spinners/seamers…but as you mention this doesn’t at all necessarily mean that the Muralis/Warnes/Mcgraths were “better” bowlers than the Donalds/Waqars/Bonds. (PS: In a way this also extends to the Tendulkars/Inzys/Jayasuriyas who also had to weather the extra stress of ODIs and the consequent impact this made on their Test stats)

• Less on August 19, 2009, 16:39 GMT

Why don't you turn wickets taken into an average? lets saw wickets/innings. Longetivity should hardly decide who the best bowler is. The likes of Murali/Warne/Mcgrath are bound to fall down a bit and Donald and Younis rising. I just feel this may give us a better picture on who was the better bowler.

• adnan on August 18, 2009, 6:55 GMT

my bowling attack will start with wasim and waqar, the two guys with highest number of bowled and lbw wickets. the two who could produced controled and unplayable swing with any bowling at any field in any conditions. the two had the heart of bowling full and to the best bolwers where other bowlers preffered short and fast, the two had the heart of bowling short and slow called slow bouncers. i once heared wasim saying that you realy have to be wasim or waqar to bowl slow bouncers. the spinning plce goes to sqlain mustaq again for innovation and art, sqlain has the best strike rate among fast and slow bolwers, he was probably the first bowler in which any captain showed the trust of giving him the ball in power plays and end over and that too consistently and he produced the results, donald is definitly the smartest and wishful bolwer and should be on the list, it was delight wacting donald with committment and aggression obvious from his face while he was bowling and ambrose 5 bolwer

• adnan on August 18, 2009, 6:43 GMT

statistics is one thing and art and entertainment is another, waqar the innovator and striker is the best bowler because i think he was the only bowler to take wickets at will and was not supported by great fielding. he produced magic with mighty force and threatened the best batsmen with his magic and power. the toe crusher and drivers by him were the real enjoying sites in the cricket history. he produced the magic and art with wasim and many a times single handedly overshadowed the best batting line ups

• Kris on August 18, 2009, 6:07 GMT

[[ Kris & (Vijay) I am posting this message to say that there will be no comments on Test individual innings. As and when I do an article on that, let us have the debate. If you have anything to say on Test Bowlers or the Peer comparisons, please come out. Else please wait. Ananth: ]]

• Vijay on August 17, 2009, 17:01 GMT

Good point by Yash about the best bowling performances. Hey Anant, you know what...you may include such top performances with a minimum weight in the bowler ratings table. A bowler who was involved in many such awesome single-performances gains. That way an aspect of the wow factor which is not necessarily statistical can be brought into this primarily statistical analysis. After all, its the wow performances that keep us all engrossed. And while we are at it, let me opine that the Wisden top 100 hundreds wasn't really the top 100s even statistically. Just an example - a Sachin 136 in the 4th innings against an amazing Paki attack does not get counted while a Kapil 129 in the 3rd innings gets in. Something is wrong somewhere...could be an error while copy-pasting some formulas, or whatever, but check it once...it is not statistically intuitive as well. More so when you state (was it you?) that that 136 would've made it among the top ten had India managed to win the match. [[ Vijay I only made that comment to answer a question comparing Lara's 153 (which took WI to a win) and Tendulkar's 136 (do not forget that the match was lost). Ananth: ]]

• Yash Rungta on August 17, 2009, 11:33 GMT

I'm going a little off-topic, but can you let us know with your analysis what are the top 10 bowling spells (and also top 10 batting innings).

In batting, it might be Laxman's 281 or Bradman's 270 or Greenidges 200+ or one of Lara's 153*/277 etc. In bowling, it might be Ambrose's 7/25 or Kumble's 10/74, I just can't even think of many!

Any chance of that happening Ananth? Maybe a new blog?

[[ Yash You are not off topic at all. You are very much on the button. The best performances will be done by me sometime in the near future. Even though the current match performance is the basis for this, for an independent match performance analysis I will go much further as I did for Wisden-100. You are spot on for batting. The 270, 153* and 281 are in the top-6 of Wisden-100. In bowling look further to Tayfield's 9 for 113 and White's 8 for 126. Of course Kumble's and Laker's 10-wkt hauls are right up there. Also Willis' 8 for 43. You will be surprised at how high Hoggard's 7 for 61 is. Will certainly do one of these days (or weeks) (or months) !!! Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on August 16, 2009, 7:48 GMT

Ananth, Have you considered factoring in new ball versus old ball duties for the pace bowlers? For instance, Harmison averages 29.01 as an opening bowler but 38.36 as a change bowler. Bowling with an old piece of leather, into the wind, when the batsmen are well settled, is arguably a more difficult job than bowling with the wind, with a hard, shiny new ball, at unsettled batsmen. I suspect particularly strike rates will be affected by this. Obviously the hard new ball also tends to go to the boundary quicker, which should balance things out a bit when you look at averages. Anyway, just a thought.

• Yash Rungta on August 16, 2009, 5:08 GMT

Yes, the 9th wkt stand with Lara was awesome. If the spell you're(Ananth) is talking about(6-24 against England in 10 overs) was awesome, his 7-25 against Australia was even more devastating and that too in the 1st innings. He took 7-1 in one spell which was awesome!(meaning he must have been 0-24 earlier). [[ Yes, it is possible that that was a greater spell especially as it included 5 of the top 7 Australian wickets and away from home. All his wickets were taken from a position of 85 for 2. Ananth: ]]

Ambrose has a great record against everybody barring India and Pakistan. An average of 27 against Pakistan is pretty average(by his standards) and against India, its 38 which is very bad(again by his standards). He had a good average against good opponents like Australia, South Africa and England. He had just 2 matches against Zim and none against Bangladesh. To me, he was clearly better than McGrath, Donald and Younis, all ranked just places above him in our analysis.

• tonyp on August 16, 2009, 1:38 GMT

This seems like an extraordinarily skillful analysis. And any selection must be informed by personal bias. My selection would be:

Hadlee, McGrath, Marshall, Warne, & Kumble

Imran Khan is very highly considered as an all-rounder - and justly so it has to admitted. But Richard Hadlee's batting accomplishments were not inconsiderable and he was to my mind the fast bowler whose mastery of his craft was the most complete.

Malcolm Marshall's pace and penetration make him an irresistible inclusion, while McGrath's ability to produce key wickets and turn key moments was absolutely uncanny.

I think Muralitharan's statistics, while undoubtedly impressive, are somewhat inflated by his being SL's only reliable wicket-taking option (or close to) so I have opted to go with Warne and Kumble who I think should be more than a handful for any batting line up.

• love goel on August 15, 2009, 20:06 GMT

Don't worry Yash, I am with you on Ambrose. He was one of the most destructive bowler who on his day, could make a batting line-up crumble like house of cards. When compared to Walsh, he was more destructive while Walsh went on for much longer.And again these rankings show that Ambrose was better than Walsh. And if anybody does not count Ambrose as one of the greatest fast bowlers, the only reason I can think is either the person has not seen him bowl or doesn't know his stats. My bowling lineup- Ambrose,McGrath,Warne. 3rd pacer Akram followed by Donald, 2nd spinner Muralitharan. Choose according to pitch, and the combination you want

• Yash Rungta on August 15, 2009, 14:25 GMT

Yes Ananth, I agree this is a bowler's analysis and I should keep the batting out. I was referring to just not your article or the comments made by people here but everyone, everyone just counts Akram, McGrath, Pollock etc. when talking about great fast bowlers post 1990 and no one counts Ambrose for some reason. If at all they remember West Indies, they mention Walsh who was nowhere near Ambrose's class in my opinion. [[ Yash I agree on Ambrose's class. His destruction of the strong England line-up in 1994 when he dismissed Atherton, Stewart, Smith, Hick, Thorpe and Russel for 24 runs in 10 devastating overs must be one of the most hostile spells of pace bowling over the past 50 years. As far as I am concerned his 9th wicket stand with Lara during that famous win over Australia must rank amongst his defining moments in Test cricket. Ananth: ]]

• Yash Rungta on August 15, 2009, 7:23 GMT

I like Xolile's spin combination of Murali and Kumble in Asia and only Warne outside. It was difficult to leave either Kumble and Warne but atleast one had to miss out. And carrying more than one spinner overseas can be a burden, no matter how great they maybe.

I juts want everyone to consider Ambrose strongly. Somehow he is under-rated despite his stats being the best for bowlers since 1990. An average of 20.99 is menacing!!!! He could also handle the bat, atleast better than Donald and McGrath, so a very strong contender for an Test XI. [[ The list of top-10 bowlers in this table is a collection from amongst the greatest of all time and not one of these bowlers does not deserve to be in this elite group. In the first analysis couple of bowlers were probably sitting in the top-10 with questionable credentials. Not here, though. So I think Ambrose is in great company to be in the top-10 and is not under-rated at least so far this table is concerned. However selection a of a personal best is a personal expression and you have every right to put in Ambrose as your leading bowler. I also think the batting credentials should not come in at all. If the top-6 is what I had mentioned in an earlier mail, why do you need the nos.9/10/11 to bat. Their job is to bowl. I support you whole-heartedly if you say that Ambrose should be selected, but it should be only on his bowling credentials, which are outstanding, but not because he can bat better. It is one thing trying to fill up the no.7 position with, say Imran Khan, a true all-rounder but keep the batting out of the 9-10-11 positions. Ananth: ]]

• Engle on August 14, 2009, 14:05 GMT

@Kris To elaborate further, the 5 main attack must each bring something unique to the table. It's like any organization. A vice-president would be useless at performing secretarial work or security.

Marshall and Ambrose would complement each other quite well. One with short skidders, the other with lifting balls from a great height. Both menacing.

Imran would fill in as AR and contribute with reverse swing. He also had the unique ability of lifting his game to meet higher challenges. FWIW, in career contests between the best pacers of his time, Marshall, Lillee and Hadlee, Imran trumped them, tho marginally against Marshall.

I do like the pairing of Holding and McGrath by Ananth, tho he never explained the reasons why he chose this pair. Thommo and McGrath would be another complementary pair of pace and probe.

• Kris on August 14, 2009, 10:55 GMT

@Xolile Excellent comment again. Fascinating and surprising observation about pace bowlers in the sub continent.

• Xolile on August 14, 2009, 6:39 GMT

Ananth,

Looking at the 43 modern bowlers with 200+ wickets to their credit, have you noticed that the pace bowlers as a sub-group averages slightly better in Asia (26.12) than in the RotW (26.36)? This suggests that you shouldn’t adjust their bowling records for the number of games played in Asia. Top-drawer pace bowlers seem to be able to perform on any surface. It’s only the second tier such as Lee and Ntini that struggle on the sub continent.

The spinners on the other hand perform significantly better in Asia (26.26) than in the RotW (30.36). The one exception is Warne; he averages 26.82 in Asia but 25.11 in the RotW.

Taking all of this in consideration, and assuming you go for a 5-bowler attack, I would suggest that you go for 3 quickies and 2 spinners in Asia, and 4 quickies and 1 spinner in the RothW. My line-ups are therefore, in order of appearance: Asia: Holding, Marshall, Akram, Murali, Kumble RotW: Holding, Donald, Marshall, Akram, Warne

Xolile

• Kris on August 13, 2009, 13:37 GMT

1)@Xolile-again I agree. So the strike rates are an “indicator”…but I feel that Waqar was more a “mop up tail” specialist with his swinging Yorkers-not that he couldn’t trouble the best. But Donald could take out the best of the best.

2)@Engle- I agree with your “complimentary” idea- but that would work against a “general” batting lineup. As I mentioned if you take the very best batsmen in the opposition lineup…you would then have the Muralis and Mcgraths plugging away with their probing deliveries but not forcing the wickets. So the best batsmen would surely put up a decent score in the two innings of a match…so you can literally forget a win.

• Harsh Thakor on August 13, 2009, 12:49 GMT

Curtly Ambrose should be rated above Allan Donald alongside the rating of Marshall and Mcgrath as he was the greatset matchwinner amongst the fast bowlers in the recent era.-who bore the brunt of a team with a weak batting side.I would rate Glen Mcgrath ahead of Imran and perhaps on par or above Sir Richard Hadlee.Mcgrath is the most complete bolwer of the modern era and statistically the best.He posessed every quality a fast bolwer needed be it swing,accuracy,pace or control. Andy Roberts to me was amongst the top 6 fast bowlers considering his versatality and control.

Another important factor is that since the mid 1990's wickets have flattened and been loaded in favour of the batsman and laws too have favoured batsman.eg,2 bouncers per over.There is much more protective gear which favours the batting side. AN important note is that sub-continent tracks are placid and thus it is more commendable for sub-continent players to take wickets on their home soil than away from home .

• Aditya Jha on August 12, 2009, 18:50 GMT

ananth - Some clarifications on methodology. i get a feeling that there are several "double counts" happening here. for example (1)- wicket quality and wicket batting average - is there not a huge overlap there? (2) more curious - total career wickets and strike rate - take andy roberts. in his time, there were fewer tests being played. he was never (?) dropped. but he had a very respectable strike rate. so, if, he had been playing in this era - and hence played more tests - he would have taken more career wickets (all other things being equal). so why punish him for career wickets, once he makes the cut off? (3)in match perf, u have "overall quality of batting team" - but the moment a bowler takes a wicket, isn't that captured in "quality of batsman dismissed"? i understand that spectacular match performances - a la mankad need to be considered, but this does seem like double counting to me.

thanks [[ Aditya 1. Wicket quality is a split into top/middle order and late order while wicket batting average is an average of the dismissed batsman's ctd batting average. The first is relevant to the early days when averages were lower and also many a team such as India/Nzl/Slk at the beginning, Bangladesh now et al, for whom the averages were/are lower. However taking the top order wickets was an important step towards winning matches, however seemingly weak the teams were. You could call these two sides of a coin. 2. We have discussed this extensively. If we exclude career wickets altogether we do not recognize the ability to bowl at the top level for a number of years. It might be unfair to someone like Roberts, but taking away the career wickets altogether will be grossly unfair to the bowlers who stayed on top for over 20 years. Compare this with batting. There is no way we can compare Tendulkar with Gambhir, both having averages of 54+ when one has scored over 10000 runs more. 3. Take two bowling performances. 42-7-69-2 and 40-6-87-7 occuring in the same innings. The second bowler might have taken more wickets. However the first one has bowled very well against possibly a good batting line up. So the overall Batting quality is a multiplicative index designed to increase the value of good, possibly unsuccessful, innsspells against good teams. I concede that there might be double counts or overlapping. The general idea is that the Match Performance calculations are contextual, on the ground, on the specific pitch, on the day, specific-time/score-related-dismissals, against specific line-ups, series-status-specific, result-oriented et al. The Career performance calculations recognize the long haul, over 100+ tests, over 15-20 years, against different types of opposition, across pitches et al and there will be a lot of averaging out in this. Ananth: ]]

• Engle on August 12, 2009, 16:41 GMT

To expand upon Xolile's team of All-Rounders, the closest one came to this was the ROW XI in 1970 which contained E.Barlow, G.Sobers, M.Procter, Intikhab Alam and C.Lloyd who could at that time turn his arm over. In fact he led the avg for that series. All of the above contributed at crucial junctures with either bat or ball. Back on bowlers, a key component is what additional contribution did a bowler make to the game. Waqar with his reverse swing, McGrath with probing line, Thommo with extreme pace, Roberts for leading the pack and so on.

In picking an attack, one must consider how well they complement each other with variety such that the total is greater than the sum of parts. I'd go Imran, Marshall, Ambrose, Warne, Murali

• Xolile on August 12, 2009, 16:29 GMT

Kris, I agree, stats have their limitations. Your observation regarding Donald raises an interesting statistical point - i.e. the importance of strike rates. In the population of all 200+ wicket takers only Younis and Marshall have better strike rates than Donald. In order to win test matches the bowling attack must take take 20 wickets in the shortest possible time. You could therefore argue that the 4 bowlers with the best strike rates should be selected. The dominant sides in history (e.g. WI 1980s, Aus 1995-2005) all included 4 bowlers with very goood strike rates. There is therefore a fairly hard statistical case for selecting Donald (rather than a more touchy-feely one).

• Kris on August 12, 2009, 13:26 GMT

Xolile I agree with your basic premise. But your argument is almost purely theoretical. Thing is these sort of bowling/batting analyses are also purely theoretical too! As I mentioned earlier that a little bit here and there on the averages/strike rates …etc don’t really tell you too much. The only thing these analyses can tell you with any reasonable certainty is that the lot on the list are AMONG the best. Certainly not in any particular order.

For eg. the reason I would pick Donald is because he is the one bowler who has taken out the two premier batsmen of the generation several times on equal terms. i.e When Tendulkar and Lara were fully fit, in their primes, Test matches (not ODIs so no need to try and hit every ball or avoid dot balls),fair pitches (not specially prepared green tops)- so NO excuses…And yet Donald had the measure or even the better of these two ,both with intimidation and the sheer pace and ability to blast through their defenses. He does not have the statistical bulk... Similarly with Akram…I’ve seen him bamboozle both, once break Lara’s toe, beat them all ends up time and time again etc.-again critically at their primes and fully fit. So if you ask Tendulkar/Lara who they would rather face compared to other bowlers. - the answer would be obvious. Tendulkar has always been vague in mentioning any particular bowler, but Lara has clearly said that Akram is the best bowler he has ever faced. So, if I had to pick a bowling lineup against the truly great batsmen I would pick the “deadly” bowlers who at their peaks could take the wicket of just about any batsman over several other ones on the list. As mentioned plain viewing obviously gives you a much better idea than opaque stats.

• Xolile on August 12, 2009, 12:11 GMT

Ananth, For argument’s sake I would like to propose a side comprising entirely of all-rounders, selected only from players you have discarded: 1 Barlow 2 Rhodes 3 Hammond 4 Kallis 5 Sobers 6 Sangakkara 7 Imran 8 Miller 9 Pollock 10 Hadlee 11 Benaud. This side of all-rounders has a combined batting average of 461 runs, compared to your side’s 435 (and that despite your side having the services of the peerless Bradman). It features four bowlers with test averages well below 24; and six additional bowlers who have 991 test wickets between them. The point I am trying to make is that you shouldn’t ignore the batting ability of bowlers. McGrath and Murali are phenomenal bowlers but are both clueless with the bat. Including both in a side somewhat disturbs the overall balance. Xolile [[ Deon There are always multiple ideas waiting to be considered. Which is better, 5/6 batsmen + 1 wk + 5/4 bowlers or the extreme of 11 all-rounders. Why say that one is better than the other. The best we can ever do is to play out our fantasies. One day I will re-work my Team Strength analysis and include your 11-all rounder team also. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on August 12, 2009, 11:58 GMT

Hi Ananth,

It is virtually Top-100 Greatest bowlers. I think the main reason for very few comments is bcoz. there isn't much diff. in two posts.

However, readers will be more interested if you post a table of all-time Top-25 list with criteria of min. 50 test wkts. This list will include bowlers like Ironmonger, bond, steyn who miss out due to less career wkts. Readers can compare these bowlers with bowlers who had long careers.

Arjun

• Xolile on August 12, 2009, 8:25 GMT

Ananth, I am curious: you go through all the effort to produce a ranking of the top test bowlers of all time, but when you pick your post-1970 bowling attack you select numbers 1, 3, 7, 12 and 13 from the list. Why not 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5? Or for the sake of balance, 1, 2 3, 4 and 12? Moreover, none of the bowlers you have selected can really bat. Could you perhaps enlighten me as to how you arrived at your line-up of Murali, Akram, Warne, Holding and McGrath? (Not that I disagree with your selection, it's a awesome attack, it just does not seem to have anything to do with your analysis. What's the purpose of the analysis then?) Thanks Xolile [[ Deon My analysis is based on the database. It does not mean that I should blindly pick up 1.2.3.4.5 as my choice of attack. My choice is made from my heart while my analysis is based on the mind. I myself know that Holding is a great bowler but is possibly undervalued because he played in a very strong attack. So when I have to select a bowler I go for Holding although the others' numbers might be better. Anyhow be glad to note that I have not been stupid enough to select 1,2,3,4,5 just because they came in that sequence. I am sure that single act would have eroded both my credibility and within myself the passion I have for the game. Re their need to bat, suppose I tell you that my top 6 could very well be Hobbs, Tendulkar, Bradman, Lara, Richards, Gilchrist. What do I need all-rounders for. If you put a gun to my head, one of the right arm pace bowlers could be replaced by Imran. Ananth: ]]

• Kris on August 12, 2009, 5:27 GMT

@kartik, yash As any “pure” fan of any sport would attest, statistics have to be taken with a pinch (or bucket) of salt. By that I mean that we surely need to have a statistical cut off to judge great players. Say in batting (in the modern era) we use 8/9000 runs and bowling 3/400 wickets. Also the avg. /strike rate are rough guidelines. But after that if there are minor differences it hardly tells you anything. Only when a sportsman appears who completely buries his contemporaries under a mountain of positive stats ,only then we can use plain stats as an argument- Such as in the Dons case. I don’t think anyone here has actually watched him play (grainy clips don’t count) - But when someone has as record almost twice as good as any player in his era…then arguments end. But in other cases such as you mentioning Murali having a better avg or whatever…well it may be better but not much …so it hardly counts. It is just a statistic. Further, plain viewing often gives you a better idea than stats- even the databases we use give grey stats. Such as the batsmans “average” against a bowler…this only shows up if the bowler has only got him out in a particular inn. Yes I agree that Sidhu etc have also handled Warne (but he has handled Murali easily too)…but there are literally many more top class batsmen who have handled Murali easily. I can’t even remember a good leftie batsman who couldn’t handle Murali easily. You name it –Lehmann, Lara, Flower, Hayden, Gambhir.etc. again the stats will lie…because for every good leftie you will have a not so good one. Also, like I mentioned Murali, Mcgrath and co. will also have good avg. because they are probably better than the Warnes, Donalds and Akrams as far as pure containment is concerned. But against the very top batsmen? As mentioned assume a batting lineup of Gavaskar,Richards,Tendulkar,Lara,Ponting…if these batsmen are playing well and decided to dig in patiently -I don’t think Murali and Mcgrath would ever get them out.

• Kartik on August 11, 2009, 22:55 GMT

I agree that Warne does not make the post-1970 World XI. If we include a spinner at all, it is Murali. A strong case can be made to have 4 or even 5 fast bowlers (given that so many of them are all-rounders), and have no spinner. But Murali is just about the only spinner with an average/strike rate competitive with the top fast bowlers, and hence the only spinner deserving of a post-1970 World XI place.

• xolile on August 11, 2009, 13:00 GMT

Anath, A few of the commentators, sush as Yash Rungta, have brought up the all-rounder issue - which to some extent is a sub-set of the bowling analysis. Your analysis is not very kind to batting all-rounders such as Sobers and Kallis. To illustrate, Kallis' role in the SA attack is that of 4th seamer. He usually bowls 2nd change and is expected to bowl approximately 15 overs per innings. In addition he has the responsibility to anchor the batting line-up. You cannot therefore compare him in the way you have with someone like Murali, who leads the S-L bowling attack, regularly bowls 40+ overs per innings and who has no significant batting responsibility.

• Xolile on August 11, 2009, 12:41 GMT

Anath, Looking at the final results, do you think Hadlee should be 2nd on the all time fast bowler list? Are you not assigning to much importance to long spells and high wicket per match ratios? The great strenght of the WI teams of the 1980s was their depth of bowling (at least 4 quality quicks per team). They used these quicks in short, energetic spells to totally demolish other sides. These guys therefore did not have to bowl long spells. And since there were always 4 of them around, they also could not accumulate wickets like Hadlee and Murali. But this does not mean they weren't as good as Hadlee. I guess in the end it comes down to team balance, individual roles and bowling strategy.

• Harsh Thakor on August 11, 2009, 11:58 GMT

It is another Great Effort Ananth,but I preferred your first list where Dennis Lillee was rated the best of all fast bowlers.No bowler has been more complete.Lillee had a great action, a huge repertoire of deliveries graet pace,control,great ability to swing the ball and above all was a champion statistically in all conditions.Richard Hadlee had the graetset control of a cricket ball and bore the brunt of a weak taem but was not a champion on dead,flat pitches.I also don't think that Imran is so close to Lillee and I would rate Malcolm Marshall better than Imran or Hadlee.Marshall has a better strike rate ,average and posessed a greater repertoire of deliveries.This list has done more justice to Joel Garner,the most accurate of all fast bolwers who on is day could match the greatest with his extraordinary bounce.Of the old-timers I feel injustice has been done to Ray Lindwall,who was just inches below the likes of Lillee.On dead surfaces he was a champion and most complete.

• Ravi on August 11, 2009, 8:15 GMT

Ananth, I wonder why there are fewer comments on this post than other recent analyses. It is a masterful analysis with or without the follow-up. Very instructive. Perhaps everybody is happy with the list, i.e readers got what they wanted. What I particulary liked is that the tables being so exhaustive, one can compare bowlers on so many different measures. I have a question reg. current crop of bowlers. It is hard to answer, but among the ones who have played between 20-30 tests do you think any will break into the top 10? Do the numbers give us some degree of predictive power? Can we reasonably speculate the list in say 2015? And what do statistics tell us about the Mumbai bowler Padmakar Shivalkar who Gavaskar calls the best bowler never to play a test? Pardon me if the questions are too abstract. [[ Ravi It would be presumptous on my part to assume that the analysis is perfect. Rather it is a reflection of the excessive interest in batting in general and certain batsmen in particular that most readers have. Ananth: ]]

• Yash Rungta on August 10, 2009, 3:40 GMT

@Kris, Navjot Sidhu played Warne so really well. It was in fact him who played started the Warne onslaught which was continued by Tendulkar and others in the Indian Tour of 1998. VVS Laxman played Warne wonderfully. So its not just Lara and Sachin who played him well.

I agree, Warne is a great spinner, but a little over-rated, maybe only just. But to me, he is not one who would deserve a place in my World XI post 1970. You'd normally go with only 1 spinner and that'd be Murali. Since Murali can easily bowl 30 overs a day, you don't need a 2nd spinner. I know it isn't an apples to apples to comparison, but Ambrose, Hadlee, Marshall, Akram were a lot better than Warne.

Warne was a really really good bowler, but to me, not good enough for a spot in the World XI. Kumble wasn't far behind him.

Talking of genuine all-rounders, Shaun Pollock was a real good one too, but he made his bat talk only when he was batting with tailenders. He was the cleanest striker of the ball I've ever seen.

• Kartik on August 9, 2009, 23:09 GMT

Despite the hype, neither Brett Lee nor Shoaib Akhtar went on to become 'great' bowlers.

Actually, the very greatest pace is rather poorly represented in the Top-20. Only about 6 of the Top-20 are truly fast, and even among these, many slowed down in later years.

Spinners always have a longevity advantage over fast bowlers. This is balanced by the fact that there are 3 times as many slots available in an XI for fast bowlers vs. spinners. The only teams that play 2 spinners are teams that have a severe shortage of any fast bowlers who can take wickets at under 60 balls/wicket. India and Sri Lanka come to mind.

There was a time when India played 4 spinners, who averaged 75 balls/wicket (shudder).

• Divinations on August 9, 2009, 21:21 GMT

I don't see how people can put down Warne. You look at Murali and he carried the SL attack, he had wickets tailor made for him, same with Kumble. They were expected to do the business and were given the conditions to do it. For Warne he had McGrath, Gillespie, McDermott, Hughes etc to compete with. In Australia he would have to wait for Sydney to get a wicket that suited him. He had to make do with wickets that were tailor made for the fast men and did quite brilliantly on tracks such as Brisbane and Melbourne. Murali has a fantastic record but I think that it is too influenced by home conditions. To me both Warne and Kumble are better bowlers than Murali. You look at the bowling list and you have to ask yourself why Hadlee is below Murali, stats are fine but look who Hadlee bowled against. What would would Richards or Gavaskar or Chappell do to Murali. I think he would get hit out of the attack.

• Kris on August 9, 2009, 8:07 GMT

@Yash, When I hear things such as “Warne is overrated” It just feels so ridiculous. Calling any bowler who can get 6/700 wickets over a long period overrated, reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of the game. Similar, to calling a batsman who aggregates 10000 runs overrated. You can certainly have a few outstanding innings or series here or there, or other performances by “fluke”/good fortune and temporary top form, or a confluence of favourable situations- but to take wickets day in and day out, in various conditions, against diff. opponents, over a long period of time can only be achieved by the very best. My point of Warne over Murali was that no batsmen except for Tendulkar and Lara can be said to have really had any measure of control over Warne in his prime. Even against these two Warne could produce a magic, unplayable ball. If you see the amount of batsmen dismissed 5 or more by Warne you will find more quality batsmen. Again with the exception of Tendulkar who Murali dismissed 7 times but 5 of those dismissals were after 2005, with Tendulkar woefully on the decline. Also, several batsmen could be said to have played Murali very comfortably. Indian batsmen, Aus batsmen inc. Ponting, and amazingly just about ALL top lefties. Even most recently Gambhir has played Murali as well as anyone though he lacks say a Lara flourish. But Murali seemed almost helpless against Gambhir until Gambhir himself made a mistake- i.e. a Murali cannot produce so many unplayable, magic balls. Many good balls, yes. But the top batsmen can normally handle those. Similarly, a McGrath would probe till the batsman made a mistake. Lara improved against McGrath as time went on because he simply became a bit more patient against him and restrained big flashy offside shots. Murali, McGrath and co. would probe away producing several good balls but often the batsman himself made a “mistake”. No such thing against Donald, Akram and Warne. These bowlers have produced many “unplayable” balls. Several are still fresh in my mind.

• windian feh life on August 9, 2009, 4:52 GMT

Everytime I read about cricket.There are always people commenting on how great waqar,mcgrat,murli,warne,donald were greater than any bowlers that as walked this earth. My question is which great team/teams they have bowled out cheaply. Tell them to bowl at this. Grenidge 2.Haynes.3.Rowe.4.Kalichran.4.V Richards.5.L Gomes 6.Clive Lloyd.7.Dujon.8.M Marshall 9.A Roberts 10.M Holding 11.G Garner.Thats my team (richardson,clarke,c.king,daniels,patterson,walsh,ambrose, etc.too many to mention. These guys never played Ban,Sri,S africa,Zim.They played Ind,Pak,Eng,NZ,and Aus. They never lost as series for 15yrs. These bowlers earned thier wickets as they had competition around them. The others probably have one or two average to good bowlers so they look good taking all the wickets.The Windians also played far less games.

• Yash Rungta on August 9, 2009, 4:43 GMT

On the other hand, players like Hadlee, Akram, Vettori etc. are bowling all-rounders. No where near a genuine all-rounder(although Vettori can prove us wrong in the next 5 years).

I would really have liked people like Chris Cairns and Flintoff to had a 100+ matches test career. I really though these 2, especially Cairns had the potential to be the next Imran Khan. Injuries had their say though!

Its interesting to see the bowling points for Sobers and Kallis. Its about 36.97 for Sobers and 36.66 for Kallis. Very much similar.

My best XI for the modern ERA would be: Hayden, Gavaskar, Lara, Tendulkar, Richards, Gilchrist, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Hadlee Marshall, Murali.

People who just missed out: Sehwag, Ponting, Ambrose, Dravid

Don't worry about slip-catching as well. Gavaskar, Lara, Hayden, Sachin, all pretty good it. Captain would be undoubtedly Mr. Imran Khan, the greatest captain to play the game I've seen. I believe this is the best XI for the modern era. Any disputes? [[ Yash You are again going off tangent discussing all-rounders and batsmen while this is a bowler-centric article. Nothing wrong but it is better to stick to specifics. Ananth: ]]

• Yash Rungta on August 9, 2009, 4:29 GMT

My bowling line-up for the modern era: Hadlee, Marshall/Ambrose, Murali, Akram and Imran Khan. (I somehow forgot Hadlee in my previous post) Warne, to me is a good spinner but a little over-rated. Kumble was probably as good as him. The fact that Warne played in a strong team helped him in my opinion.

Kallis and Sobers are great batsman and probably good enough bowlers but they haven't been able to manage a good enough work load for me to call them really good all-rounders. Kallis averages only about 1.2 wkts per innings which is very less. Sobers averages about 1.5 wkts per innings which is better but then averages about 34 to Kallis 31. So it evens it out. At best, I would call them great batting allrounders but not genuine all rounders.

I agree, to me Imran Khan is the best genuine all-rounder Test Cricket has seen(atleast post 1970). To me, Cairns and Flintoff were really great but injury did them in. Botham and Kapil Dev went close too.

To be Cont.

• James on August 9, 2009, 3:58 GMT

3 quicks: Imran Khan batting at 6 or 7 with Gilchrist, Hadlee at #8 and either Lillee or Wasim Akram (if you value a left armer) as the 3rd quick. 2 spinners: Murali and Warney as the tweakers. Easy.

• Divinations on August 9, 2009, 2:10 GMT

I agree with Yash on the Kallis Sobers allrounder issue. I have always thought that Imran Khan is the best allrounder ever. The problem with picking allrounders is that people are biased to the batsmen so the high average that Sobers has offsets his meagre bowling one. Imrans' bowling stands equal to Sobers batting so the decider is the Sobers bowling vs Imrans batting which Imran wins. A look at Mitchell Johnson will also show he could have very close stats to Imran. His bowling needs to be better but over time he could improve that average and his batting is already very good.

My attack would be the Big three Lillee, Hadlee and Marshall with Warne and Murali to add variation. Fullside: Gavaskar, Hutton, Bradman, Sobers, Gilchrist, Imran Khan, Hadlee, Marshall, Warne, Lillee, Murali. Bowlers win matches.

• Phil S. on August 9, 2009, 1:50 GMT

WA (Bill) Johnston a spinner? Are you confusing him with Ian Johnson perhaps? Methinks he's in the wrong table. [[ Phil, You are correct. I had picked up this information from Cricinfo/Wisden long back and will correct. However you will note that Ian Johnson is very much present in the Spinner table. It is intriguing that Johnston bowled both types as you can see the following Cricinfo extract. My take is that Johnston was primarily a left arm Fast bowler. " Full name William Arras Johnston Born February 26, 1922, Beeac, Victoria Died May 25, 2007, Sydney, New South Wales (aged 85 years 88 days) Major teams Australia, Victoria Batting style Left-hand bat Bowling style Left-arm fast-medium, Slow left-arm orthodox " Thanks Ananth: ]]

• Kris on August 9, 2009, 0:56 GMT

Here’s my Best “Bowling attack”-Marshal, Donald, Akram, Warne, Saqlain. I am not going to comment on previous eras because I have either not seen them at all, or just seen a few limited clips. Here are the reasons/criteria: 1) The best bowlers of the generation are picked as a bowling attack and all assumed to be at their primes and fully fit. So, the sheer statistical bulk of other bowlers doesn’t necessarily apply. 2) The best bowlers must be able to get out the best batsman: So, we can assume a batting lineup consisting of Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Lara, Richards, Ponting. 3) Marshal, because even among the great WI pace batteries he was he acknowledged spearhead. 4) Donald: over the other pacers because he was the ONE bowler who troubled the best batsmen consistently. Since, he was a child of the 90s the extra ODI load coupled with the fact that he was an all and out express pace bowler led to his rapid decline in the late 90s. McGrath was handled by Lara and even Tendulkar (if we adjust for poor decisions and later injury ridden inn’s)...If at all Mcgrath was more dangerous in ODIs with the new ball where the batsman had to play and didn’t have the luxury of conceding too many dot balls. 5) Akram: Fast bowler par excellence. Lara has often stated that Akram is the best bowler he has ever faced. For magic and sheer class…Akram simply swamps McGrath. 6) Warne: Murali is first among equals? I disagree completely. The best batsmen have always handled Murali easily. Lara had no prob.Tendular, while not as punitive, handled Murali with consummate ease till the mid 2000s-i.e well into his breakdown. Ponting, too, with his dubious credential against top class spin handled Murali well…so did several top lefties. Warne, on the other hand only struggled against the 2 premier batsmen of the generation. And Warne had the magical X factor. 7) Saqlain: the inventor of the “doosra”. And the only spinner to have troubled both Tendulkar and Lara (in both forms of the game).His career was unfortunately truncated. And so he could not accumulate too much statistical bulk. For unerring accuracy, mystery and innovation it is Saqlain.

As a captain, this would be my bowling lineup against the very best batsmen of the era. Other bowlers may have the statistical bulk and numbers necessary to come on top in such “best” bowler list….but to my mind this does not mean that they were the best.

• raj dutta on August 8, 2009, 21:33 GMT

How can you seem to rate Donald so lowly?? He was better than the Lillee any day -- do you guys even know his figures on the pancakes of the subctoninent? If my memory serves me right, he took some 70-odd wickets in 15 tests in India, Pak and Lanka, and single-handedly scythed thru the strong Australian lineup time and agan. So please give this Demon the respect he deserves. In my book, sentiment aside, Alan Donald is second to only Hadlee and Marshall, and way more accomplished and lethal than the likes of Lilee, Imran, Ambrose and McGrath. [[ Raj That is your view and you certainly have every right to hold and propagate the same. Ananth: ]]

• ASHISH on August 8, 2009, 17:12 GMT

My best attack would be Marshall , Barnes , Wasim ,Warne, Mcgrath.Marshall and Mcgrath with the new ball, Wasim with the older ball and then Barnes and Warne in tandem for longer spells. Gilchrist would be the keeper. Viv Richards and Gavaskar to open the batting followed by The Don , Tendulkar and Lara. The five best batsman ever. Some team !!

• Gobind Kanjani on August 8, 2009, 16:59 GMT

Great list.Especiaaly to see waqar younis in top 10 bowlers list.He was a awesome performer of his art.

I agree with your comment, I believe Imarn is closet who has ever come to be be on genuine allrounder but thhis does not take anything from Kallis or sobers.They are masters in their won right......

• Romel on August 8, 2009, 16:17 GMT

Despite uncovered pitches, no helmet, etc etc (which was common for each bowler to exploit in the past era), INTERESTING to see the great bradman has to face only 3 of the top 20 bowlers (all from England) of his era (only 5 out of 49 in the list)...while lara and tendulkar both have to face at least 10 bowlers of the top 20 and 70% bowlers from the full list....definitely the bowling variation and quality that the modern batsman has to face should be respected by the old pros...

• Marcus on August 8, 2009, 14:12 GMT

I have to disagree with Yash's comment regarding Kallis and Sobers. Kallis is a good bowler, although perhaps an unwilling one at times. His record's good (an average equal to Flintoff, Lee and Harmison) and he provides good control with an economy of under three- and just as importantly, he has the knack of getting wickets when the other bowlers can't. He's probably better than a great deal of "specialists" going around today.

As for Sobers, I never saw him play, but I am aware of his bowling record which isn't that flash. But Geoff Boycott in his book "The Best XI" says that although Sobers' orthodox spinners were average, he was one of the greatest swing bowlers he faced or saw. I suspect that if you took the statistics that Sobers produced bowling only his fast-medium swing, his record would be considerably better.

They may not be in the top 20 of their eras, but regardless they're both world-class bowlers.

• Kris on August 8, 2009, 14:03 GMT

Can your point based system generate points at intermittent stages, say 01st Jan of every year? If you could then plot a graph with all the bowlers (say top 10) of any era with the points on the y axis and yearly intervals on the x axis...this would prove most fascinating.

• Yash Rungta on August 8, 2009, 5:19 GMT

My bowling attack: Current: Ambrose/Marshall, Akram, Murali, Warne and allrounder Imran Khan.

To me, Ambrose and Marshall were clearly better than Younis, Donald and McGrath.

This table shows why Kallis isn't that good a allrounder because he isn't a very good bowler. He bowls less (even for a all-rounder) and is in last position of the table and that too by a good margin, about 4 points less than Flintoff. I fully agree with this.

There is no player common who finds his place in the top-20 of both batting and bowling(current era) which means Test Cricket is still to find its real gem true all-rounder who is pretty good with the bat and the ball. Closest are Kallis, Khan, Botham but none good enough, they don't even come close to breaking into the top 20 of both. [[ Yash A very perceptive comment or two. Kallis and Sobers, with 55+ batting averages were quite average in bowling. Possibly Imran is the closest. Ananth: ]]

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• Yash Rungta on August 8, 2009, 5:19 GMT

My bowling attack: Current: Ambrose/Marshall, Akram, Murali, Warne and allrounder Imran Khan.

To me, Ambrose and Marshall were clearly better than Younis, Donald and McGrath.

This table shows why Kallis isn't that good a allrounder because he isn't a very good bowler. He bowls less (even for a all-rounder) and is in last position of the table and that too by a good margin, about 4 points less than Flintoff. I fully agree with this.

There is no player common who finds his place in the top-20 of both batting and bowling(current era) which means Test Cricket is still to find its real gem true all-rounder who is pretty good with the bat and the ball. Closest are Kallis, Khan, Botham but none good enough, they don't even come close to breaking into the top 20 of both. [[ Yash A very perceptive comment or two. Kallis and Sobers, with 55+ batting averages were quite average in bowling. Possibly Imran is the closest. Ananth: ]]

• Kris on August 8, 2009, 14:03 GMT

Can your point based system generate points at intermittent stages, say 01st Jan of every year? If you could then plot a graph with all the bowlers (say top 10) of any era with the points on the y axis and yearly intervals on the x axis...this would prove most fascinating.

• Marcus on August 8, 2009, 14:12 GMT

I have to disagree with Yash's comment regarding Kallis and Sobers. Kallis is a good bowler, although perhaps an unwilling one at times. His record's good (an average equal to Flintoff, Lee and Harmison) and he provides good control with an economy of under three- and just as importantly, he has the knack of getting wickets when the other bowlers can't. He's probably better than a great deal of "specialists" going around today.

As for Sobers, I never saw him play, but I am aware of his bowling record which isn't that flash. But Geoff Boycott in his book "The Best XI" says that although Sobers' orthodox spinners were average, he was one of the greatest swing bowlers he faced or saw. I suspect that if you took the statistics that Sobers produced bowling only his fast-medium swing, his record would be considerably better.

They may not be in the top 20 of their eras, but regardless they're both world-class bowlers.

• Romel on August 8, 2009, 16:17 GMT

Despite uncovered pitches, no helmet, etc etc (which was common for each bowler to exploit in the past era), INTERESTING to see the great bradman has to face only 3 of the top 20 bowlers (all from England) of his era (only 5 out of 49 in the list)...while lara and tendulkar both have to face at least 10 bowlers of the top 20 and 70% bowlers from the full list....definitely the bowling variation and quality that the modern batsman has to face should be respected by the old pros...

• Gobind Kanjani on August 8, 2009, 16:59 GMT

Great list.Especiaaly to see waqar younis in top 10 bowlers list.He was a awesome performer of his art.

I agree with your comment, I believe Imarn is closet who has ever come to be be on genuine allrounder but thhis does not take anything from Kallis or sobers.They are masters in their won right......

• ASHISH on August 8, 2009, 17:12 GMT

My best attack would be Marshall , Barnes , Wasim ,Warne, Mcgrath.Marshall and Mcgrath with the new ball, Wasim with the older ball and then Barnes and Warne in tandem for longer spells. Gilchrist would be the keeper. Viv Richards and Gavaskar to open the batting followed by The Don , Tendulkar and Lara. The five best batsman ever. Some team !!

• raj dutta on August 8, 2009, 21:33 GMT

How can you seem to rate Donald so lowly?? He was better than the Lillee any day -- do you guys even know his figures on the pancakes of the subctoninent? If my memory serves me right, he took some 70-odd wickets in 15 tests in India, Pak and Lanka, and single-handedly scythed thru the strong Australian lineup time and agan. So please give this Demon the respect he deserves. In my book, sentiment aside, Alan Donald is second to only Hadlee and Marshall, and way more accomplished and lethal than the likes of Lilee, Imran, Ambrose and McGrath. [[ Raj That is your view and you certainly have every right to hold and propagate the same. Ananth: ]]

• Kris on August 9, 2009, 0:56 GMT

Here’s my Best “Bowling attack”-Marshal, Donald, Akram, Warne, Saqlain. I am not going to comment on previous eras because I have either not seen them at all, or just seen a few limited clips. Here are the reasons/criteria: 1) The best bowlers of the generation are picked as a bowling attack and all assumed to be at their primes and fully fit. So, the sheer statistical bulk of other bowlers doesn’t necessarily apply. 2) The best bowlers must be able to get out the best batsman: So, we can assume a batting lineup consisting of Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Lara, Richards, Ponting. 3) Marshal, because even among the great WI pace batteries he was he acknowledged spearhead. 4) Donald: over the other pacers because he was the ONE bowler who troubled the best batsmen consistently. Since, he was a child of the 90s the extra ODI load coupled with the fact that he was an all and out express pace bowler led to his rapid decline in the late 90s. McGrath was handled by Lara and even Tendulkar (if we adjust for poor decisions and later injury ridden inn’s)...If at all Mcgrath was more dangerous in ODIs with the new ball where the batsman had to play and didn’t have the luxury of conceding too many dot balls. 5) Akram: Fast bowler par excellence. Lara has often stated that Akram is the best bowler he has ever faced. For magic and sheer class…Akram simply swamps McGrath. 6) Warne: Murali is first among equals? I disagree completely. The best batsmen have always handled Murali easily. Lara had no prob.Tendular, while not as punitive, handled Murali with consummate ease till the mid 2000s-i.e well into his breakdown. Ponting, too, with his dubious credential against top class spin handled Murali well…so did several top lefties. Warne, on the other hand only struggled against the 2 premier batsmen of the generation. And Warne had the magical X factor. 7) Saqlain: the inventor of the “doosra”. And the only spinner to have troubled both Tendulkar and Lara (in both forms of the game).His career was unfortunately truncated. And so he could not accumulate too much statistical bulk. For unerring accuracy, mystery and innovation it is Saqlain.

As a captain, this would be my bowling lineup against the very best batsmen of the era. Other bowlers may have the statistical bulk and numbers necessary to come on top in such “best” bowler list….but to my mind this does not mean that they were the best.

• Phil S. on August 9, 2009, 1:50 GMT

WA (Bill) Johnston a spinner? Are you confusing him with Ian Johnson perhaps? Methinks he's in the wrong table. [[ Phil, You are correct. I had picked up this information from Cricinfo/Wisden long back and will correct. However you will note that Ian Johnson is very much present in the Spinner table. It is intriguing that Johnston bowled both types as you can see the following Cricinfo extract. My take is that Johnston was primarily a left arm Fast bowler. " Full name William Arras Johnston Born February 26, 1922, Beeac, Victoria Died May 25, 2007, Sydney, New South Wales (aged 85 years 88 days) Major teams Australia, Victoria Batting style Left-hand bat Bowling style Left-arm fast-medium, Slow left-arm orthodox " Thanks Ananth: ]]

• Divinations on August 9, 2009, 2:10 GMT

I agree with Yash on the Kallis Sobers allrounder issue. I have always thought that Imran Khan is the best allrounder ever. The problem with picking allrounders is that people are biased to the batsmen so the high average that Sobers has offsets his meagre bowling one. Imrans' bowling stands equal to Sobers batting so the decider is the Sobers bowling vs Imrans batting which Imran wins. A look at Mitchell Johnson will also show he could have very close stats to Imran. His bowling needs to be better but over time he could improve that average and his batting is already very good.

My attack would be the Big three Lillee, Hadlee and Marshall with Warne and Murali to add variation. Fullside: Gavaskar, Hutton, Bradman, Sobers, Gilchrist, Imran Khan, Hadlee, Marshall, Warne, Lillee, Murali. Bowlers win matches.