# Bowler consistency analysis - a new take

Muttiah Muralitharan has taken ten or more wickets in a Test in four consecutive matches © AFPs |

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 WpTThere is a nice surprise in the bread-and-butter classification of 3+ wickets.>= 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

**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 WpTFinally the grand-daddy of all sequences.>=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

**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 6A 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+wktsJeffPreWW1 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%

[[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