Tests - bowling October 12, 2009

# How far ahead is the top one - part II

I had earlier done lists of how far ahead leading Test batsmen were from the second-places ones in various attributes

How far ahead is the top player in any list is a key point to answering the question of whether a high mark set by a player will be reached. I had earlier done a similar analysis for batting. Now I have taken a few Test bowling measures and created a table of the Top-100, subject to qualifying criteria, and assigned each position a percentage relative to the top position. A perusal of these tables will give an idea of the degree of permanence of the top places.

If an active player is at the top of an all-time list, he keeps on widening the gap on the second placed player, unless otherwise the top two or three are also active. This true of the aggregate type of measures. On the other hand in performance related measures, it does not matter since it is possible for later players to catch up with the particular measure.

The tables are shown in a standardised format. The first five entries are shown to get an idea, not just of the top entry, but also the ones immediately following the top. When required, more entries are shown. Then the 50th entry, exactly at mid-point, is shown to get an idea of the % drop. Finally the 100th entry is shown to get a further idea of the table's distribution of the key measure.

1. Table of Bowling averages (minimum 100 wkts)

```SNo.Bowler             Type  Cty    Runs Wkts   Avge     %

1.Lohmann G.A         RFM  Eng    1205  112  10.76  100.0
2.Barnes S.F          RFM  Eng    3106  189  16.43   65.5
3.Turner C.T.B        RFM  Aus    1670  101  16.53   65.1
4.Peel R              lsp  Eng    1715  102  16.81   64.0
5.Briggs J            lsp  Eng    2095  118  17.75   60.6
6.Blythe C            lsp  Eng    1863  100  18.63   57.8
7.Wardle J.H          lsp  Eng    2080  102  20.39   52.8
8.Davidson A.K        LFM  Aus    3819  186  20.53   52.4
9.Marshall M.D        RF   Win    7876  376  20.95   51.4
10.Garner J            RF   Win    5433  259  20.98   51.3
...
50.Tate M.W            RFM  Eng    4055  155  26.16   41.1
...
100.Doshi D.R           lsp  Ind    3502  114  30.72   35.0
```
Lohmann is nearly as far ahead in Bowling average as Bradman is so far as Batting average is concerned. Notwithstanding all the underlying factors (uncovered pitches, 3-day tests, average amateur batsmen etc), this is a huge difference since we are looking only at the raw numbers here. In fact the top 6 bowlers are all pre-WW1 bowlers.

Then come Wardle, a 50s bowler, Davidson, a 60s bowler and two modern West Indian giants, Marshall and Garner. I would say that the best any modern bowler can hope for is an entry into the top-10, as Muralitharan and Steyn are trying for.

Note how far off the 50th placed bowler, Tate and Doshi, at no.100, are.

2. Table of Wickets per Test (minimum 100 wkts)

```SNo.Bowler           Type  Cty  Mat  Wkts    WpT    %

1.Barnes S.F        RFM  Eng   27   189   7.00 100.0
2.Lohmann G.A       RFM  Eng   18   112   6.22  88.9
3.Muralitharan M    rob  Slk  129   783   6.07  86.7
4.Turner C.T.B      RFM  Aus   17   101   5.94  84.9
5.Grimmett C.V      rlb  Aus   37   216   5.84  83.4
...
50.Wasim Akram       LFM  Pak  104   414   3.98  56.9
...
100.Giffen G          rob  Aus   31   103   3.32  47.5
```
The wonderful thing in this table is not the presence of Barnes and Lohmann at the top, that is taken for granted, but how close Muralitharan is to Lohmann. In modern times, to have a wickets per Test of greater than 6 is simply amazing. Let us forget about wickets captured against weaker teams and appreciate the true greatness of this genial giant.

The 50th placed bowler is well above 50% indicating a clustering on top.

3. Table of Career wickets captured

```SNo.Bowler            Type  Cty  Mat  Wkts      %

1.Muralitharan M     rob  Slk  129   783   100.0
2.Warne S.K          rlb  Aus  145   708    90.4
3.Kumble A           rlb  Ind  132   619    79.1
4.McGrath G.D        RFM  Aus  124   563    71.9
5.Walsh C.A          RF   Win  132   519    66.3
...
11.Ntini M            RF   Saf   99   388    49.6
...
50.Hughes M.G         RF   Aus   53   212    27.1
...
100.Cork D.G           RFM  Eng   37   131    16.7
```
This is a pure longevity based table. Muralitharan is ahead by 10% and counting. Since the next active bowler is Ntini and he is 50% off, it is safe to say that Muralitharan is going to add more wickets to his name and keep this achievement a never-to-be-beaten one.

The career wickets tally drops off so drastically that the 50th placed bowler is only at 27%. Also the 100th placed bowler is 83% away.

4. Table of Bowling economy (minimum 1000 overs)

```SNo.Bowler             Type  Cty  Overs  Mdns  Runs   RpO    %

1.Goddard T.L         LFM  Saf 1956.0   706  3226  1.65 100.0
2.Nadkarni R.G        lsp  Ind 1527.3   665  2559  1.68  98.4
3.Verity H            lsp  Eng 1862.1   604  3510  1.88  87.5
4.Wardle J.H          lsp  Eng 1099.3   403  2080  1.89  87.2
5.Illingworth R       rob  Eng 1989.0   715  3807  1.91  86.2
...
22.Edmonds P.H         lsp  Eng 2004.4   613  4273  2.13  77.4
...
50.Statham J.B         RFM  Eng 2676.0   595  6261  2.34  70.5
...
100.Reid B.A            LFM  Aus 1040.4   244  2784  2.68  61.7
```

Bowling accuracy was probably more valued in Tests during 50s and 60s. Goddard and Nadkarni are 50s/60s bowlers and have unimaginable accuracy rates. Can we even imagine an analysis of 32-27-5-0 which Nadkarni essayed in 1964. The best modern bowler in this regard is Edmonds, who is 23% away.

The clustering at the top is so pronounced that Statham, at no.50, is only 30% away. And the 100th placed bowler is less than 40% away.

5. Table of Bowling strike rate (Min 100 wkts)

```SNo.Bowler             Type  Cty   Balls Wkts  St Rt     %

1 Lohmann G.A         RFM  Eng    3821  112  34.12  100.0
2 Steyn D.W           RF   Saf    6676  170  39.27   86.9
3 Barnes S.F          RFM  Eng    7873  189  41.66   81.9
4 Waqar Younis        RFM  Pak   16223  373  43.49   78.4
5 Briggs J            lsp  Eng    5332  118  45.19   75.5
...
50 Harmison S.J        RFM  Eng   13375  226  59.18   57.6
...
100 DeFreitas P.A.J     RFM  Eng    9838  140  70.27   48.5
```
Lohmann, as expected is on top. But what is surprising is the second place of Steyn and fourth place of Waqar Younis. Steyn is only 14% away but is likely to slip back as he plays more Tests. But one must give credit to Steyn who is second in an all-time list where the pre-WW1 bowlers are expected to reign supreme. No less is Waqar Younis' achievement.