Tests - bowling March 5, 2010

Bowler consistency analysis - a new take

A look at bowlers who have taken three to ten wickets in a Tests in the most number of consecutive matches
26

Muttiah Muralitharan has taken ten or more wickets in a Test in four consecutive matches © AFPs
First I wanted to do an analysis of the ODI high innings in view of the momentous tryst with destiny of one colossus at Gwalior. Then I decided not to do so since the results may not be exactly what is wanted by the myriad of Tendulkar fans and I am not ready to read and answer hundreds of comments.

The innings, one of the greatest ever, need not be and is not the best ODI innings ever. The numbers 189/189/194/175/183/149/140/158 et al are floating around. By Tendulkar's own high standards, the 175/138/143/134/98 innings lay claim to being his best. But not to take away from the greatness and perfection of the innings. There might be greater innings but certainly no greater batsman during the past six decades. The gap is widening and soon would be insurmountable.

This is similar to the 400 which, despite being the highest Test innings, is nowhere near innings associated with the numbers 270/153/154/281/149/213/293 et al.

Instead I have come out with an analysis based on the excellent suggestion made by Alex Tierno. This is to determine the successful bowler sequences from a minimum of 3 wkts per Test to 10 wickets per Test. The more I did the work the more I felt that this is an excellent method of determining bowler consistency.

I needed to create a completely new Database of Player-Match records. However this will be very useful since I can do many new analysis without resorting to individual programs. That will be a great bonus.

Let us see the tables starting with 3 or more wickets. I have shown the first three in each classification. Where there are multiple bowlers with same number of Tests, the one with the highest WpT figure is shown.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 3 wkts Warne S.K 39 1576 244 6.3 >= 3 wkts Muralitharan M 34 1555 251 7.4 >= 3 wkts McGrath G.D 17 1718 88 5.2

There is a nice surprise in the bread-and-butter classification of 3+ wickets. Shane Warne has taken 3 or more wickets in 39 consecutive Tests, averaging 6.3 WpT (wickets per Test). Muralitharan has achieved this in 34 consecutive Tests averaging 7.4 WpT. This is a true measure of the consistency which these two great spinners employed throughout their careers.

At this point it is worth explaining that there could be 3+ wkts streaks of more than 17 Tests from either Warne or Murali. I have deliberately shown the top three bowlers, rather than the top three bowling streaks, to broaden the scope of the anaysis.

As expected Muralitharan dominates the other classifications, leading in the 10+, 9+, 8+(shared), 7+, 6+, 5+ and 4+ wickets categories.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 4 wkts Muralitharan M 19 1626 135 7.1 >= 4 wkts Bedi B.S 13 785 78 6.0 >= 4 wkts Waqar Younis 12 1192 86 7.2

Muralitharan has captured 4 or more wickets in 19 consecutive Tests, averaging 7.1 WpT. The Indian classicist, Bedi is next with 13 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 6.0.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 5 wkts Muralitharan M 14 1670 109 7.8 >= 5 wkts Lee B 11 1824 70 6.4 >= 5 wkts Donald A.A 9 1403 61 6.8

Muralitharan has captured 5 or more wickets in 14 consecutive Tests, averaging 7.8 WpT. The unlucky Brett Lee, is next with 11 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 6.5.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 6 wkts Muralitharan M 8 1670 68 8.5 >= 6 wkts Warne S.K 7 1582 53 7.6 >= 6 wkts Lee B 7 1824 47 6.7

Muralitharan has captured 6 or more wickets in 8 consecutive Tests, averaging 8.5 WpT. Shane Warne is next with 7 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 7.6.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 7 wkts Muralitharan M 7 1670 62 8.9 >= 7 wkts Barnes S.F 5 117 41 8.2 >= 7 wkts Turner C.T.B 4 25 39 9.8

Muralitharan has captured 7 or more wickets in 7 consecutive Tests, averaging 9.9 WpT. The great Sydney Barnes, is next with 5 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 82.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 8 wkts Barnes S.F 4 130 49 12.2 >= 8 wkts Muralitharan M 4 1559 42 10.5 >= 8 wkts Turner C.T.B 4 25 39 9.8

Sydney Barnes has captured 8 or more wickets in 4 consecutive Tests, averaging an amazing 12.2 WpT. CTB Turner ties this with 4 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 9.8. Muralitharan's streak completes the table.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>= 9 wkts Muralitharan M 4 1559 42 10.5 >= 9 wkts Turner C.T.B 3 26 31 10.3 >= 9 wkts Richardson T 3 46 33 11.0 >= 9 wkts Grimmett C.V 3 249 33 11.0

Muralitharan has captured 9 or more wickets in 4 consecutive Tests, averaging 10.5 WpT. CTB Turner is next with 3 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 10.3.

Wkts/test Bowler            # of  First  # of  Avge
tests  MtNo   Wkts   WpT

>=10 wkts Muralitharan M 4 1559 42 10.5 >=10 wkts Grimmett C.V 3 249 33 11.0 >=10 wkts Lohmann G.A 2 47 27 13.5

Finally the grand-daddy of all sequences. Muralitharan has captured 10 or more wickets in 4 consecutive Tests, averaging 10.5 WpT. The great Australian leg-spinner, Grimmett, is next with 3 consecutive Tests at an average WpT of 11.0.

Murali's four consecutive 10-wkt hauls are shown below. The concerned year was 2001. This is one record which might, like Laker's 19 wickets in a single test, never be bettered.

1559 vs India       34.1  9  87 8   46.5 17 109 3
1561 vs Bangladesh   9.4  4  13 5   35.3  6  98 5
1567 vs West Indies 53.4 11 126 6   31.3 10  44 5
1570 vs West Indies 23.4  5  54 4   35.5 16  81 6
A final note. Only comments on the subject covered in the article will be published.

An interesting exchange of mails

Posted by: Alex at March 11, 2010 10:06 AM
Ananth - Pl see if you can do analysis to answer the following question: Suppose we restrict ourselves to test matches that have produced a result (including the "tie" tests). What fraction of these featured a winning team bowler taking X wkts/match (where X=7,8,9, ...)? If we split this data into decades (or venue countries), is there any pattern? You could do similar analysis for SR and averages. I feel most result-oriented matches feature a winning team with a bowler who takes at least 7 wkts in that match ... very rare to win with a bunch of bowlers contributing 2-5 wkts each.

[[ Alex That is a lovely idea. It will clearly show whether there is a discernible change in the winning methods of Test teams. Will have to do a special program but will be worth it. Thanks Ananth: ]]

Posted by: Jeff at March 12, 2010 9:37 AM
@ Alex
These are the figures that I have:
1269 tests have produced a winning result
On winning teams, the number of times players took & or more wickets are:

7 = 390 times (0.31 per match)
8 = 311 (0.25)
9 = 187 (0.15)
10+=269 (0.21)
For players on losing teams, the numbers are:
7 = 156 (0.12)
8 = 137 (0.11)
9 =  46 (0.04)
10+= 65 (0.05)
Not surprisingly, it's more twice as likely for a player on a winning team to 7 or 8 wkts in a match and up to 4 times more likely for them to take 9+ wkts
There have been 682 draws (therefore 1364 drawing teams), and the numbers are:
7 = 197 (0.14)
8 =  81 (0.06)
9 =  49 (0.04)
10+= 65 (0.05)
These are very similar to the figures for the losing teams, particularly for 9+ wickets.
Obviously this is only the overall figures but I found it interesting that the results for drawn matches were so low. This is the decade by decade split for winning/tied teams.
Note that I have the number of times 7,8,9,10+ wkts have been taken. Some of these will have happened in the same match, so the following figures will slightly over estimate the % of matches they occur in, but the figures should give a good picture of the fact that the % of winning teams with players taking 7 wkts has been increasing over time but the % of winning teams with players taking 10+ wkts has been decreasing.
Era      %7wkts %8wkts %9wkts %10+wkts

PreWW1 25% 31% 15% 26% Inter War 31% 24% 11% 32% 40s/50s 26% 28% 18% 23% 60s 20% 20% 19% 15% 70s 31% 17% 18% 18% 80s 31% 22% 15% 26% 90s 33% 32% 15% 19% 2000s 36% 21% 12% 16%

Jeff
[[That is wonderful. I am tied up with so many things that I could have done justice to Alex's excellent suggestion only after a few days. I will immediately publish your response. Within an hour I will extract the table and put it up on the blog itself. Many thanks and the non-existent hat is off in admiration.
Ananth:]]

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

  • William BISHOP on April 11, 2010, 0:52 GMT

    murali could never be the greatest spinner of all time,take out his wickets from zimbawe and bangladesh,also tell me how is his record in australia. also note how many overs he bowled in each test, by the law of averages hewould obviously get wickets.There were no other top class bowlers in his side to get agreat amount of wickets.Please dont mention Vaas,check his record ,it is ordinary,so muralli had no team compitition like warne or ouadir.plus i am not so sure he bowl like the other spinners,his stylewas funny.

  • Alex on March 15, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    Jeff --- thanks. I wonder if the slow scoring rate reflects the batting standard of the 60's. It is possible that the 60's featured relatively few truly great cricketers ... maybe a few great ones retired by mid/early-60's while a few great ones just about started their careers in the 60's --- that would be a clear parallel with the 00's.

    10+ wkt hauls are quite difficult: one match wonders are more likely candidates than great bowlers in great teams ... Massey, Hirwani, Siva, the list goes on.

  • Jeff on March 15, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    One other thing I noticed:

    Murali accounts for 16 of the 57 10 wkt hauls made in winning efforts in the 2000s – a staggering 28% of them.

    This is by far the biggest proportion that one man has contributed to any period - his nearest challengers are Grimmett in the 20s/30s ( 6 out of 28 or 21%) and Hadlee in the 70s (4 out of 21 or 19%)

    So, if you take Murali out of the analysis, then the 2000s look even worse for 10 wkt hauls, only around 1 in 10 victories features a bowler taking 10 wickets – the figure was around 1 in 3 matches before WWII and about 1 in 5 for the second half of the 20th century

  • Jeff on March 15, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    @ Alex

    I think the 60s was a more benign period for cricket in general.

    The stats suggest is was a time of great conservatism.

    Bowling strike rates were at an all-time high – an average of a wicket every 81 balls (compared to about every 66 balls in the 2000s)

    This would suggest that things were much easier for batsmen back then.

    But, if you also look at bowling economy rate, you will see it was at 2.38 runs per over – slightly higher than in the 50s, but lower than every other period (eg. economy rate is over 3 in the 2000s.)

    So this suggests it was harder for batsmen to score runs in the 60s.

    And looking at the combined impact (ie batting average) then you’ll see it wasn’t much different to any other post WW1 decade at 32.10 (for comparison, batting average was 31.90 in the 70s, 32.09 in the 80s & 32.15 in the 30s.)

  • Alex on March 13, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Jeff --- thanks very much. So, it appears that the 60's either featured relatively few outstanding bowlers or featured a bunch of them operating together & sharing spoils: in 26% of its results, the winner had no bowler who took >6 wkts/match. I think former is the former case since its number for X=8,9,10+ are comparable to those of the 70's (combined: 54% to 53% ... the 00's are even poorer at 49%).

    The percentages for X>7 are 67% interwar (probably too much dependence on strike bowlers), 69% in 40/50's (maybe many really great bowlers), and about 64% in 80/90's (many really great bowlers). Even though 00's is poor on it at 49%, it scores 31% for X=7 while 60's score only 20% on X=7. So, it is possible that the 60's was a more benign period for batsmen than the 00's. So much for Pollock's 63 and Sobers' 58!

  • Ramesh Kumar on March 12, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    Excellent idea from Alex. I feel that match performance in tests get real meaning mainly with bowlers and not with batsmen. Alex's idea can be looked at from a specific bowler's perspective and seperately from a team's perspective. The first one can reflect some champion performances and the latter one will give an idea about the composition of great winning teams. Once this template is designed, it can be used to compare with lost and drawn matches.We might stumble upon an effective criteria for assessing match performance of individual bowlers as well.

    Ramesh Kumar [[ Ramesh Jeff has done the analysis and this has been posted. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on March 12, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Following on from my previous post, this is the decade by decade split for winning/tied teams.

    Note that I have the number of times 7,8,9,10+ wkts have been taken. Some of these will have happened in the same match, so the following figures will slightly over estimate the % of matches they occur in, but the figures should give a good picture of the fact that the % of winning teams with players taking 7 wkts has been increasing over time but the % of winning teams with players taking 10+ wkts has been decreasing.

    Era %7wkts %8wkts %9wkts %10+wkts PreWW1 25% 31% 15% 26% Inter War 31% 24% 11% 32% 40s/50s 26% 28% 18% 23% 60s 20% 20% 19% 15% 70s 31% 17% 18% 18% 80s 31% 22% 15% 26% 90s 33% 32% 15% 19% 2000s 36% 21% 12% 16% [[ Jeff That is wonderful. I am tied up with so many things that I could have done justice to Alex's excellent suggestion only after a few days. I will immediately publish your response. Within an hour I will extract the table and put it up on the blog itself. Many thanks and the non-existent hat is off in admiration. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on March 12, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    @ Alex

    These are the figures that I have:

    1269 tests have produced a winning result

    On winning teams, the number of times players took & or more wickets are:

    7 = 390 times (0.31 per match) 8 = 311 (0.25) 9 = 187 (0.15) 10+ = 269 (0.21)

    For players on losing teams, the numbers are:

    7 = 156 (0.12) 8 = 137 (0.11) 9 = 46 (0.04) 10+ = 65 (0.05)

    Not surprisingly, it's more twice as likely for a player on a winning team to 7 or 8 wkts in a match and up to 4 times more likely for them to take 9+ wkts

    There have been 682 draws (therefore 1364 drawing teams), and the numbers are:

    7 = 197 (0.14) 8 = 81 (0.06) 9 = 49 (0.04) 10+ = 65 (0.05)

    These are very similar to the figures for the losing teams, particularly for 9+ wickets.

    Obviously this is only the overall figures but I found it interesting that the results for drawn matches were so low.

  • Alex on March 11, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    Ananth - Pl see if you can do analysis to answer the following question: Suppose we restrict ourselves to test matches that have produced a result (including the "tie" tests). What fraction of these featured a winning team bowler taking X wkts/match (where X=7,8,9, ...)? If we split this data into decades (or venue countries), is there any pattern? You could do similar analysis for SR and averages. I feel most result-oriented matches feature a winning team with a bowler who takes at least 7 wkts in that match ... very rare to win with a bunch of bowlers contributing 2-5 wkts each. [[ Alex That is a lovely idea. It will clearly show whether there is a discernible change in the winning methods of Test teams. Will have to do a special program but will be worth it. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • Behram on March 10, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    Too much has been read into my comment ,which was essentially the proverbial molehill. My comment was addressed to “Ashwath”’s statement: “This almost proves that murali is statistically the best bowler of all time”. As a standalone analysis, and an object of mild curiosity, this type of analysis is fine. I was merely referring to the gross inaccuracy in interpreting it the way “Ashwath” has done. [[ Behram Sincere apologies. I have always emphasized that the analysis normally cover one aspect and these should not be telescoped upwards to something beyond the scope. There have been comprehensive player analyses covering almost all aspects. Ananth: ]]

  • William BISHOP on April 11, 2010, 0:52 GMT

    murali could never be the greatest spinner of all time,take out his wickets from zimbawe and bangladesh,also tell me how is his record in australia. also note how many overs he bowled in each test, by the law of averages hewould obviously get wickets.There were no other top class bowlers in his side to get agreat amount of wickets.Please dont mention Vaas,check his record ,it is ordinary,so muralli had no team compitition like warne or ouadir.plus i am not so sure he bowl like the other spinners,his stylewas funny.

  • Alex on March 15, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    Jeff --- thanks. I wonder if the slow scoring rate reflects the batting standard of the 60's. It is possible that the 60's featured relatively few truly great cricketers ... maybe a few great ones retired by mid/early-60's while a few great ones just about started their careers in the 60's --- that would be a clear parallel with the 00's.

    10+ wkt hauls are quite difficult: one match wonders are more likely candidates than great bowlers in great teams ... Massey, Hirwani, Siva, the list goes on.

  • Jeff on March 15, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    One other thing I noticed:

    Murali accounts for 16 of the 57 10 wkt hauls made in winning efforts in the 2000s – a staggering 28% of them.

    This is by far the biggest proportion that one man has contributed to any period - his nearest challengers are Grimmett in the 20s/30s ( 6 out of 28 or 21%) and Hadlee in the 70s (4 out of 21 or 19%)

    So, if you take Murali out of the analysis, then the 2000s look even worse for 10 wkt hauls, only around 1 in 10 victories features a bowler taking 10 wickets – the figure was around 1 in 3 matches before WWII and about 1 in 5 for the second half of the 20th century

  • Jeff on March 15, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    @ Alex

    I think the 60s was a more benign period for cricket in general.

    The stats suggest is was a time of great conservatism.

    Bowling strike rates were at an all-time high – an average of a wicket every 81 balls (compared to about every 66 balls in the 2000s)

    This would suggest that things were much easier for batsmen back then.

    But, if you also look at bowling economy rate, you will see it was at 2.38 runs per over – slightly higher than in the 50s, but lower than every other period (eg. economy rate is over 3 in the 2000s.)

    So this suggests it was harder for batsmen to score runs in the 60s.

    And looking at the combined impact (ie batting average) then you’ll see it wasn’t much different to any other post WW1 decade at 32.10 (for comparison, batting average was 31.90 in the 70s, 32.09 in the 80s & 32.15 in the 30s.)

  • Alex on March 13, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Jeff --- thanks very much. So, it appears that the 60's either featured relatively few outstanding bowlers or featured a bunch of them operating together & sharing spoils: in 26% of its results, the winner had no bowler who took >6 wkts/match. I think former is the former case since its number for X=8,9,10+ are comparable to those of the 70's (combined: 54% to 53% ... the 00's are even poorer at 49%).

    The percentages for X>7 are 67% interwar (probably too much dependence on strike bowlers), 69% in 40/50's (maybe many really great bowlers), and about 64% in 80/90's (many really great bowlers). Even though 00's is poor on it at 49%, it scores 31% for X=7 while 60's score only 20% on X=7. So, it is possible that the 60's was a more benign period for batsmen than the 00's. So much for Pollock's 63 and Sobers' 58!

  • Ramesh Kumar on March 12, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    Excellent idea from Alex. I feel that match performance in tests get real meaning mainly with bowlers and not with batsmen. Alex's idea can be looked at from a specific bowler's perspective and seperately from a team's perspective. The first one can reflect some champion performances and the latter one will give an idea about the composition of great winning teams. Once this template is designed, it can be used to compare with lost and drawn matches.We might stumble upon an effective criteria for assessing match performance of individual bowlers as well.

    Ramesh Kumar [[ Ramesh Jeff has done the analysis and this has been posted. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on March 12, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Following on from my previous post, this is the decade by decade split for winning/tied teams.

    Note that I have the number of times 7,8,9,10+ wkts have been taken. Some of these will have happened in the same match, so the following figures will slightly over estimate the % of matches they occur in, but the figures should give a good picture of the fact that the % of winning teams with players taking 7 wkts has been increasing over time but the % of winning teams with players taking 10+ wkts has been decreasing.

    Era %7wkts %8wkts %9wkts %10+wkts PreWW1 25% 31% 15% 26% Inter War 31% 24% 11% 32% 40s/50s 26% 28% 18% 23% 60s 20% 20% 19% 15% 70s 31% 17% 18% 18% 80s 31% 22% 15% 26% 90s 33% 32% 15% 19% 2000s 36% 21% 12% 16% [[ Jeff That is wonderful. I am tied up with so many things that I could have done justice to Alex's excellent suggestion only after a few days. I will immediately publish your response. Within an hour I will extract the table and put it up on the blog itself. Many thanks and the non-existent hat is off in admiration. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on March 12, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    @ Alex

    These are the figures that I have:

    1269 tests have produced a winning result

    On winning teams, the number of times players took & or more wickets are:

    7 = 390 times (0.31 per match) 8 = 311 (0.25) 9 = 187 (0.15) 10+ = 269 (0.21)

    For players on losing teams, the numbers are:

    7 = 156 (0.12) 8 = 137 (0.11) 9 = 46 (0.04) 10+ = 65 (0.05)

    Not surprisingly, it's more twice as likely for a player on a winning team to 7 or 8 wkts in a match and up to 4 times more likely for them to take 9+ wkts

    There have been 682 draws (therefore 1364 drawing teams), and the numbers are:

    7 = 197 (0.14) 8 = 81 (0.06) 9 = 49 (0.04) 10+ = 65 (0.05)

    These are very similar to the figures for the losing teams, particularly for 9+ wickets.

    Obviously this is only the overall figures but I found it interesting that the results for drawn matches were so low.

  • Alex on March 11, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    Ananth - Pl see if you can do analysis to answer the following question: Suppose we restrict ourselves to test matches that have produced a result (including the "tie" tests). What fraction of these featured a winning team bowler taking X wkts/match (where X=7,8,9, ...)? If we split this data into decades (or venue countries), is there any pattern? You could do similar analysis for SR and averages. I feel most result-oriented matches feature a winning team with a bowler who takes at least 7 wkts in that match ... very rare to win with a bunch of bowlers contributing 2-5 wkts each. [[ Alex That is a lovely idea. It will clearly show whether there is a discernible change in the winning methods of Test teams. Will have to do a special program but will be worth it. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • Behram on March 10, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    Too much has been read into my comment ,which was essentially the proverbial molehill. My comment was addressed to “Ashwath”’s statement: “This almost proves that murali is statistically the best bowler of all time”. As a standalone analysis, and an object of mild curiosity, this type of analysis is fine. I was merely referring to the gross inaccuracy in interpreting it the way “Ashwath” has done. [[ Behram Sincere apologies. I have always emphasized that the analysis normally cover one aspect and these should not be telescoped upwards to something beyond the scope. There have been comprehensive player analyses covering almost all aspects. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik (the original one) on March 9, 2010, 23:08 GMT

    Since a 10WM is sort of like a double-century, Murali's streak of 4 is as rare as hitting 4 double centuries on the trot.

    Now here is another thought :

    Sri Lanka have only ever won 60 Tests.

    Murali has played in 53 of those wins, averaging 7 wickets per Test in those wins.

    Once Murali retires, I predict Sri Lanka will win a lot fewer Tests, and have trouble rising beyond a Test ranking of 4.

    Their strong batting will allow them to draw many Test, but they won't win many post-Murali.

    No other team is currently so dependent on just one player.

  • Jeff on March 8, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    ...Continued from previous

    That's the main reason why old-timers dominate the higher wkt streaks.

    It's not that surprising that someone like Barnes managed to get 8+ wkts in 4 consecutive matches given that he achieved this 11 times in all in his 27 match career - you'd probably expect a streak of 4 in there somewhere.

    And the fact that those old-timers played so few matches, spread over many years, means it would be difficult for them to appear on the tables for 3-6 wkt streaks. (eg. Turner only played 17 tests, but took 4+ wkts in 12 of those 17 matches - it's just that his longest streak was only 6 matches)

    By contrast, taking 3+ wkts in a match is as easy now as it was back then:

    Before WW1, there were 645 instances of a player taking 3+, an average of 4.8 per match.

    Since WW1, the average is 4.9 per match (8988/1819)

    And because modern players play so much, this is why they dominate the lower streaks.

  • Jeff on March 8, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    Ananth,

    It was definitely easier for a player to take lots of wickets in the early days.

    A couple of stats back this up;

    Pre-WW1, there were 141 instances of a player taking 8+ wkts in a match. There were 134 matches played in total, meaning that on average this happened more than once per match!

    Since WW1, there have been 1042 instances of 8+ wkts in 1819 matches (0.57 per match)

    Therefore, it was almost twice as common back then.

    Also, in the history of test cricket, there have been 25 instances of 3 players each taking 8+ wkts in the same match.

    10 of these came before WW1 (ie in the first 134 matches)It's only happened 15 times in the next 1819 matches.

    The reasons for this are probably due to the fact that:

    a) pitches were worse b) the bowling was shared between fewer players

    To be continued...

  • Alex on March 8, 2010, 10:51 GMT

    Ananth - your analysis concerns a single bowler. From a team perspective, it would be nice to have an analysis on streaks wherein 2 bowlers in a team combined to take more than X wkts in a test ... these could be any two bowlers (e.g., Lee & McGrath taking 11 wkts in a test followed by Warne & Gillespie taking 11 wkts in the next test will constitute a legitimate streak of more than 10 wkt per test, as far as Aus is concerned).

    I think in a result oriented test match, the winner is likely to have a duo that takes >=10 out of the 20 wkts. Thanks! [[ Alex Quite tough one since I now have only player-match sequences. Has to be done in a special one-off way. Will try. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on March 8, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    Hey Alex Thanks for the links.Great stuff.

    Behram If you've followed some previous blogs you would realise that some things are the most endlessly flogged: 1)Your point.i.e team dynamics affecting stats. Undoubtedly true, but how do we eliminate that? Tricky. 2)SRTs injuries mid 2000 injury period. 3)"Pre helmet", “uncovered” pitches players and how apparently impossibly tough it was to bat then vs. modern day players 4)Recent (after 90s) batting pitches. These themes ,in some form or the other, are the perenial hot favourite topics.

  • Jeff on March 8, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    @ love goel

    I think that one reason why the old-timers have the bulk of the highest 7-10 wkt streaks and the modern players have the majority of the 3-6 wkt streaks is the sheer number of tests nowadays.

    Back in the pre-WW1 days, a bowler could normally only play a maximum of 5 tests per year and might not play any at all for 2 or 3 years at a time.

    This, in addition to the much more variable pitch conditions, would make it very difficult for any player to consistently take lots of wickets in consecutive matches.

    Nowadays, players can play 10-15 matches every year on pitches which are much of a muchness. This makes it much easier for good bowlers who are in a good spell of form to cash in on that. [[ Jeff I see some anamoly in what you say. In olden days because of the wide gaps in matches and the fact that cricketers would also be engaged in other work, don't you think it would be difficult for them to take, say, 8 wpt in consecutive matches. Possibly the real reason was the quality of pitches. Also possibly the number of quality bowlers in each team now, sharing the spoils. Ananth: ]]

  • Behram on March 8, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Ashwath etc, There is no doubt that Murali is an alltime Great, if not the Greatest bowler ever. What is inaccurate is using THIS particular type of analsysis to arrive at such a conclusion. This is the same ,continued and persistent flaw in all these type of analyses- whether it be for batsmen, bowler or allrounder. Clearly, it would be exponentially more difficult for a bowler to take a lion’s share of wickets in a team full of top class bowlers as compared to a team lacking in such bowlers? What this does tell us is not so much that Murali was a Great bowler (goes without saying) but more that he was perhaps the ONLY great bowler in his team. Can you imagine putting in an Akram, Mcgrath,Donald or Warne in the very same SL team and THEN Murali getting the same proportion of wickets? Impossible. So, more than the quality of Muralis bowling in isolation- these statistics tell us more about Murali’s bowling vis a vis his team mates. [[ Behram I have no idea why people read more than what is presented in the analysis, come to their conclusions and then start questioning the analysis. This is a simple table of bowlers performing in consecutive tests. It does not say anything more. Many an analysis before has covered what you are suggesting. Where credit is due to someone like Warne, it has been given. That this is a team game is beyond any doubt. However most of the analysis and statistics are individual in nature and individual achievers, whether they go by the name of Murali or Tendulkar or Lara or Bradman should be given credit. It is as important to give credit to someone who goes past 700 wickets as to someone who crosses 14000 runs or 500 catches. One is no less than the other. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on March 8, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Ananth - this comment is on your introductory remarks on the 200*. SRT's own take is refreshing for its level-headedness (200* and 175 are closer to his heart than the Sharjah knocks ... although the Top 3 get revised with every new interview, it seems!): http://www.island.lk/2010/03/07/sports1.html.

    Two URLs giving Viv Richards' own view: 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBwy_oGdMzk (He gives his reasons for preferring SRT over Lara @6 minute mark ... quite candid!) For anyone doubting Richards' ability to assess players, watch him talk about Hayden and M Waugh in 1995 itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8jwvCfZeRQ&feature=related (as a bonus, this clip contains thrilling hooks of Viv!).

  • Ashwath on March 8, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    This almost proves that murali is statistically the best bowler of all time. Infact i genuinely feel that he is the best bowler of all time marginally ahead of shane warne. Murali has unfortunately been stigmatised as a fraud(bedi et.al) and warne recieves huge plaudits as he revived the art of leg spin in the company of kumble and mushtaq ahmed. Like a great article golden pairs in cricinfo magazine I would pay to watch murali and warne bowl to sachin and lara all day. [[ Ashwath Throw in a McGrath or Hadlee for variety and the incomparable Richards you will have a day's play the Gods would stop and watch. Ananth: ]]

  • Aditya Jha on March 7, 2010, 9:57 GMT

    @Goel - I feel it has to do with the gradual shift in the balance of power in favour of the batsmen. In the days of uncovered pitches, it was possible for one bowler to run through a side. You rarely found two match winning bowlers in one team. But with the flattening of the pitches and the physical protection for the batsmen and the change in the rules (almost all favouring the batsmen), you needed at least 3, if not 4, very good bowlers (and a minimum of 2 match winning ones) for the team to take twenty wickets.

  • love goel on March 6, 2010, 12:44 GMT

    Murali is aptly on the top reflecting his enormous wicket taking capability. I noticed that for wickets 3-6 it is the modern players who top the list, but for 7-10, except for Murali, it is the old timers. Has the advent of ODI reduced the capability of the bowlers to take more wickets in an innings? Does it mean you need more bowlers to bowl out a team in today game than that in 40's? [[ Goel That is a perceptive point. Let us see whether more light can be thrown on this. One point could be that there is more sharing of the spoils nowadays unlike earlier days when single bowlers took the lion's share. Murali being the exception. Ananth: ]]

  • Sampath Perera.KC on March 6, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    I would say this is a really good try by Ananath. Not just because I'm a srilankan.But this gives a perfect answer to the people who tries to under estimate the performance of bowlers just looking at the sides they have played against. I would also like to suggest that please look in to incorporate no of overs bowled, SR . & the results of the matches these wickets were taken. Good Job.Thanks. [[ Sampath Your team is my favourite team !!! So I am also happy. Will try and expand the scope of the analysis. Alex has also sugegsted the same. Ananth: ]]

  • jheengur on March 6, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    analysis shows spinners as far more consistent than pacers. On the other hand pacers are generally percieved as matchwinners. Is consistency relPl analyseated to ability to win matches for your country ? [[ Jheengur If you stop to think of it Murali has been the greatest match winner of all. Warne would have shared this with McGrath. However I will try to do some matchwinning bowlers' analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on March 6, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    Ananth - Thanks and congrats on superb analysis. If possible, please expand the list to include Top 10 (and not Top 3). Also, columns on the following would be useful: (i) ave, (ii) SR, (iii) % of wkts taken (all of (i)-(iii) during this streak), and (iv) % matches in which the bowler took more than X wkts/match in his career.

    I think such threads can reveal a lot while avoiding controversies associated "best" and "greatest" discussions, which are often quite subjective. Thanks again! [[ Alex Some of these things are possible. Let me see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on March 6, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    This is not a request. But just a query- would a span of matches wherein NO wickets were taken also be a measure of consistency? [[ Abhi That sequence is worthwhile only after we get a subset of bowlers. Otherwise casual bowlers would get in. Let me see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

  • sahil bhansali on March 6, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    It is good to know that people are also interested with statistics pertaining to bowlers.Generally all statistics are batsmen related.First of all thank you for such a wonderful chart,truly praise-worthy.Inspite of these nos showing murali as an outright winner,i yet do not consider him to be a great,he has around 250 wickets against minnows like zimbawbe, bangladesh,etc,while shane warne has some 70 odd.saqlain and warne are truly the best spinners of this era.Hope to see some more from you.

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  • sahil bhansali on March 6, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    It is good to know that people are also interested with statistics pertaining to bowlers.Generally all statistics are batsmen related.First of all thank you for such a wonderful chart,truly praise-worthy.Inspite of these nos showing murali as an outright winner,i yet do not consider him to be a great,he has around 250 wickets against minnows like zimbawbe, bangladesh,etc,while shane warne has some 70 odd.saqlain and warne are truly the best spinners of this era.Hope to see some more from you.

  • Abhi on March 6, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    This is not a request. But just a query- would a span of matches wherein NO wickets were taken also be a measure of consistency? [[ Abhi That sequence is worthwhile only after we get a subset of bowlers. Otherwise casual bowlers would get in. Let me see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on March 6, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    Ananth - Thanks and congrats on superb analysis. If possible, please expand the list to include Top 10 (and not Top 3). Also, columns on the following would be useful: (i) ave, (ii) SR, (iii) % of wkts taken (all of (i)-(iii) during this streak), and (iv) % matches in which the bowler took more than X wkts/match in his career.

    I think such threads can reveal a lot while avoiding controversies associated "best" and "greatest" discussions, which are often quite subjective. Thanks again! [[ Alex Some of these things are possible. Let me see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

  • jheengur on March 6, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    analysis shows spinners as far more consistent than pacers. On the other hand pacers are generally percieved as matchwinners. Is consistency relPl analyseated to ability to win matches for your country ? [[ Jheengur If you stop to think of it Murali has been the greatest match winner of all. Warne would have shared this with McGrath. However I will try to do some matchwinning bowlers' analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Sampath Perera.KC on March 6, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    I would say this is a really good try by Ananath. Not just because I'm a srilankan.But this gives a perfect answer to the people who tries to under estimate the performance of bowlers just looking at the sides they have played against. I would also like to suggest that please look in to incorporate no of overs bowled, SR . & the results of the matches these wickets were taken. Good Job.Thanks. [[ Sampath Your team is my favourite team !!! So I am also happy. Will try and expand the scope of the analysis. Alex has also sugegsted the same. Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on March 6, 2010, 12:44 GMT

    Murali is aptly on the top reflecting his enormous wicket taking capability. I noticed that for wickets 3-6 it is the modern players who top the list, but for 7-10, except for Murali, it is the old timers. Has the advent of ODI reduced the capability of the bowlers to take more wickets in an innings? Does it mean you need more bowlers to bowl out a team in today game than that in 40's? [[ Goel That is a perceptive point. Let us see whether more light can be thrown on this. One point could be that there is more sharing of the spoils nowadays unlike earlier days when single bowlers took the lion's share. Murali being the exception. Ananth: ]]

  • Aditya Jha on March 7, 2010, 9:57 GMT

    @Goel - I feel it has to do with the gradual shift in the balance of power in favour of the batsmen. In the days of uncovered pitches, it was possible for one bowler to run through a side. You rarely found two match winning bowlers in one team. But with the flattening of the pitches and the physical protection for the batsmen and the change in the rules (almost all favouring the batsmen), you needed at least 3, if not 4, very good bowlers (and a minimum of 2 match winning ones) for the team to take twenty wickets.

  • Ashwath on March 8, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    This almost proves that murali is statistically the best bowler of all time. Infact i genuinely feel that he is the best bowler of all time marginally ahead of shane warne. Murali has unfortunately been stigmatised as a fraud(bedi et.al) and warne recieves huge plaudits as he revived the art of leg spin in the company of kumble and mushtaq ahmed. Like a great article golden pairs in cricinfo magazine I would pay to watch murali and warne bowl to sachin and lara all day. [[ Ashwath Throw in a McGrath or Hadlee for variety and the incomparable Richards you will have a day's play the Gods would stop and watch. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on March 8, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Ananth - this comment is on your introductory remarks on the 200*. SRT's own take is refreshing for its level-headedness (200* and 175 are closer to his heart than the Sharjah knocks ... although the Top 3 get revised with every new interview, it seems!): http://www.island.lk/2010/03/07/sports1.html.

    Two URLs giving Viv Richards' own view: 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBwy_oGdMzk (He gives his reasons for preferring SRT over Lara @6 minute mark ... quite candid!) For anyone doubting Richards' ability to assess players, watch him talk about Hayden and M Waugh in 1995 itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8jwvCfZeRQ&feature=related (as a bonus, this clip contains thrilling hooks of Viv!).

  • Behram on March 8, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Ashwath etc, There is no doubt that Murali is an alltime Great, if not the Greatest bowler ever. What is inaccurate is using THIS particular type of analsysis to arrive at such a conclusion. This is the same ,continued and persistent flaw in all these type of analyses- whether it be for batsmen, bowler or allrounder. Clearly, it would be exponentially more difficult for a bowler to take a lion’s share of wickets in a team full of top class bowlers as compared to a team lacking in such bowlers? What this does tell us is not so much that Murali was a Great bowler (goes without saying) but more that he was perhaps the ONLY great bowler in his team. Can you imagine putting in an Akram, Mcgrath,Donald or Warne in the very same SL team and THEN Murali getting the same proportion of wickets? Impossible. So, more than the quality of Muralis bowling in isolation- these statistics tell us more about Murali’s bowling vis a vis his team mates. [[ Behram I have no idea why people read more than what is presented in the analysis, come to their conclusions and then start questioning the analysis. This is a simple table of bowlers performing in consecutive tests. It does not say anything more. Many an analysis before has covered what you are suggesting. Where credit is due to someone like Warne, it has been given. That this is a team game is beyond any doubt. However most of the analysis and statistics are individual in nature and individual achievers, whether they go by the name of Murali or Tendulkar or Lara or Bradman should be given credit. It is as important to give credit to someone who goes past 700 wickets as to someone who crosses 14000 runs or 500 catches. One is no less than the other. Ananth: ]]