Tests - bowling December 11, 2010

Barnes and Muralitharan at par

This is a follow-up to the article on the best aggregate of runs scored by batsmen in 1 to 10 Tests
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Muttiah Muralitharan: an amazing run of seven wickets per Test for 90 matches © Getty Images

This is a follow-up to the article on the best aggregate of runs scored by batsmen in 1 to 10 Tests. The article was very well received with well over 100 comments. Couple of readers wanted the idea extended to bowlers. This seemed like a good idea especially since the gap between the top bowlers is less pronounced than the difference for the batsmen.

For the bowlers I have aggregated wickets which are the most important acquisitions which any bowler can have. The averages really do not matter too much since wickets are the means to win in Test cricket. I have also made sure that the few-Test wonders like Sivaramakrishnan and Massie find their deserved place in these tables.

This also turned out to be a tough task since I had to create a player-performance database. This is essential since I needed to get the best 1-10 Test performances for each bowler and then get the all-time best performances. I also wanted to provide the information on the top bowlers' 1-10 Tests best performances so that the readers could do their own comparisons. And I was sure that there would be queries on the best performances by specific bowlers after the article was published. I have also provided the table of key bowlers for downloading.

First let me emphasize that this is only a wicket aggregate and will clarify that this aggregating of wickets in specific sequences of 1-10 Tests is irrespective of opposing team, home or away, match conditions, period lapsed between matches, quality of batsmen dismissed et al. That is not the purpose of this article. Readers should appreciate this and not come in with a comment such as "opposition batting quality is not considered". But that is wishful thinking! Also readers who worry about bowling average should understand that when someone captures over 50 wickets in 5-6 Tests, it does not matter about averages. It is going to be quite low. This is consistent with my stand on the comparable Batsmen analysis.

Let us now look at the tables.

Maximum wickets captured in a single Test

Bowler           Cty Wkts  StTest/Year

Laker J.C Eng 19 (0428-1956) (9+10) Barnes S.F Eng 17 (0131-1913) (8+9) Muralitharan M Slk 16 (1423-1998) (7+9) Hirwani N.D Ind 16 (1089-1988) (8+8) Massie R.A.L Aus 16 (0699-1972) (8+8)

Laker's 19 wickets in a Test, a performance, which I am certain, will not be bettered in 100 more years of Test cricket, leads the pack of one Test wicket aggregates. Nine wickets in the second innings, followed, a day later with 10 wickets, is a la Harry Potter. Barnes's 17 wickets, a unique single-time performance, follows next. Now comes, arguably the best spin bowling performance, away from home; Muralitharan's Oval compilation of 16 wickets.

The significance is the absence of 18-wicket hauls, indicating how difficult it is to do these. Then come two debut performances, by Hirwani and Massie. Unfortunately both faded away afterwards. Hirwani at least played 16 more matches, capturing 50 wickets. Massie played a mere 5 Tests more, capturing 15 wickets, one less than what he captured in his first test. Why? An intriguing question for which there seems to be no answer other than the debut of Jeff Thomson and Max Walker a few months after Massie's debut.

It is of interest to note that 3 out of these 5 have occurred in England.

Maximum wickets captured in 2 consecutive Tests

Bowler           Cty Wkts  StTest/Year

Laker J.C Eng 30 (0427-1956) (5+6, 9+10) Harbhajan Singh Ind 28 (1535-2001) (7+6, 7+8) Barnes S.F Eng 27 (0130-1913) (5+5, 8+9) Lohmann G.A Eng 27 (0047-1896) (7+8, 9+3)

Laker had preceded his 19-wicket monster Test with 11 wickets in the previous Tests. Harbhajan's first Test in this sequence was the famous Calcutta Test against Australia. Then at Chennai he single-handedly won the Test for India. Two platinum oldies come in next, with 27 wickets in two Tests.

Maximum wickets captured in 3 consecutive Tests

Bowler        Cty Wkts StTest/Year

Barnes S.F Eng 39 (0131-1913) (8+9, 3+5, 7+7) Laker J.C Eng 37 (0427-1956) (5+6, 9+10, 4+3) Lohmann G.A Eng 35 (0047-1896) (7+8, 9+3, 7+1)

These were the last three Tests of Barnes's career. He finished with 39 in 3 and preceded by similar successes. Laker followed with a 7-wicket haul to accumulate 37 wickets. Lohmann clocks in next with 35 wickets.

Maximum wickets captured in 4 consecutive Tests

Bowler         Wkts StTest/Year

Barnes S.F 49 (0130-1913) (5+5, 8+9, 3+5, 7+7) Muralitharan M 43 (1803-2006) (6+4, 3+8, 4+6, 5+7) Lohmann G.A 41 (0036-1892) (8+2, 3+1, 7+8, 9+3)

This was a single series in which Barnes captured 49 wickets and still remains a record for all series, including 5/6 Test series. For the first time Muralitharan comes in, with 43 wickets and then Lohmann, with 41 wickets.

Maximum wickets captured in 5 consecutive Tests

Bowler         Wkts StTest/Year

Barnes S.F 54 (0129-1912) (5+0, 5+5, 8+9, 3+5, 7+7) Muralitharan M 50 (1803-2006) (6+4, 3+8, 4+6, 5+7, 4+3) Lohmann G.A 49 (0036-1892) (8+2, 3+1, 7+8, 9+3, 7+1)

The same three players, in the same sequence, with a few more wickets added.

Maximum wickets captured in 6 consecutive Tests

Bowler         Wkts StTest/Year

Barnes S.F 67 (0128-1912) (5+8, 5+0, 5+5, 8+9, 3+5, 7+7) Muralitharan M 60 (1803-2006) (6+4, 3+8, 4+6, 5+7, 4+3, 4+6) Laker J.C 53 (0412-1955) (2+5, 4+2, 3+0, 5+6, 9+10, 4+3)

Barnes and Muralitharan are in top positions. Now there is a change with Laker chipping in with 53 wickets in 6 Tests.

Maximum wickets captured in 7 consecutive Tests

Bowler         Wkts StTest/Year

Muralitharan M 69 (1803-2006) (6+4, 3+8, 4+6, 5+7, 4+3, 4+6, 5+4) Barnes S.F 67 (0126-1912) (dnb, 5+8, 5+0, 5+5, 8+9, 3+5, 7+7) Grimmett C.V 59 (0236-1934) (4+3, 3+5, 2+3, 3+3, 5+5, 3+7, 7+6)

Muralitharan moves to top place with 69 wickets. Barnes is second with 67 wickets. Then Grimmett comes in with 59 wickets, these 7 Tests being the last seven of his illustrious career. From this point no bowler averages more than 10 wickets/Test.

Maximum wickets captured in 8 consecutive Tests

Bowler         Wkts StTest/Year

Barnes S.F 77 (0124-1912) (6+4,dnb, 5+8, 5+0, 5+5, 8+9, 3+5, 7+7) Muralitharan M 76 (1804-2006) (3+8, 4+6, 5+7, 4+3, 4+6, 5+4, 4+1, 6+6) Richardson T 66 (0041-1893) (5+5, 5+1, 5+2, 5+3, 2, 3+6, 6+5, 7+6) Hadlee R.J 66 (1029-1985) (9+6, 5+2, 5+6, 3, 7+2, 3+1, 6+1, 6+4)

Barnes now moves to the top and pushes Muralitharan into second place. Then we have Tom Richardson and Richard Hadlee tied for third place. This was Hadlee's golden period, starting with the 15 wickets against Australia.

Maximum wickets captured in 9 consecutive Tests

Bowler         Wkts StTest/Year

Muralitharan M 86 (1803-2006) (6+4,3+8,4+6,5+7,4+3,4+6,5+4,4+1,6+6) Barnes S.F 77 (0123-1912) (0,6+4,dnb,5+8,5+0,5+5,8+9,3+5,7+7) Hadlee R.J 70 (1016-1985) (4+0,9+6,5+2,5+6,3,7+2,3+1,6+1,6+4)

Same three players, in the same sequence. with a Test added at the start. The amazing fact behind Barnes's figures is that these are actually off 7 Tests, he not having bowled in one Test and not captured a single wicket in another.

fact Maximum wickets captured in 10 consecutive Tests

Bowler      Wkts StTest/Year

Muralitharan 89 (1802-2006) (3,6+4,3+8,4+6,5+7,4+3,4+6,5+4,4+1,6+6) Barnes S.F 88 (0122-1912) (5+6,0,6+4,dnb,5+8,5+0,5+5,8+9,3+5,7+7) Waqar Younis 75 (1222-1993) (5+4,7+6,5+4,5,4+2,3+2,6+1,1+2,6+5,3+4) Warne S.K 75 (1593-2002) (2+6,4+2,7+4,4+4,5+3,1+3,4+3,1+2,5+5,5+5)

Muralitharan and Barnes are in the top two positions with 89 and 88 wickets respectively. The amazing fact behind Barnes's figures is that these are actually off 8 Tests, for reasons already mentioned. Now we have two modern greats tied for the third place. Waqar Younis and Shane Warne have compiled 75 wickets in 10 Tests at the peak of their wonderful bowling careers.

I anticipated that the readers would ask for information on long successful streaks. I started with the wonderful aggregate of 189 wickets captured over 27 Tests (his entire career), at an average of 16.43, by the incomparable SF Barnes. For a long time during the 1970s-80s, I thought this sort of aggregate and wickets-per-Test measure of 7.00 would never ever be beaten. Consider that Lillee retired with a tally of 5.07 w/t and Hadlee retired with 5.01. Then a gentleman with an infectious smile, going by the name of Muralitharan made his debut. He had a fairly ordinary start to his career and captured his 100th wicket only in his 27th Test, a journeyman-like performance. Then he moved into a zone way above what he or anyone else had done henceforth.

So I decided to keep 27 Tests as the base and started work, looking at long successful streaks. First I found that there were only two bowlers who had crossed a w/t average of 7, Barnes and Muralitharan. Not surprising. However I found that Murali had captured 16 wickets more than Barnes. I started looking at Murali's successful streaks, expecting it to fall below 7.00 at 40 Tests. No, at 50 tests, still no, at 60 tests, still no. What was happening. I went past 70, 80 and finally at 90, it was still over 7.00. Finally at 91 Tests, the average dropped to below 7.00. Amazing and unbelievable. Imagine a bowler capturing 631 wickets in 90 Tests over 10 years.

And those sceptics who talk about his capturing quite a few wickets against minnows should not forget that he himself was playing, for a few years, in a minnow team and transformed that team into a world-class one working with Jayasuriya, Ranatunga, Vaas and De Silva and later Sangakkara and Jayawardene.

Given below is information related to a few longest-streaks.

Streaks exceeding 7.00 wickets per Test

Muralitharan: 1394(2008) 90 Tests 631 wickets 7.00 Barnes S.F. : 65(2001) 27 Tests 189 wickets 7.00 Lohmann G.A : 24(1886) 15 Tests 108 wickets 7.20 W Younis : 1192(1992) 15 Tests 107 wickets 7.13

Streaks exceeding 8.00 wickets per Test

Muralitharan: 1776(2008) 16 Tests 130 wickets 8.13 Barnes SF : 122(1912) 15 Tests 122 wickets 8.17

It is possible that Barnes might have been helped by the conditions, although he played 25 years after the advent of Test cricket. However his strike rate of 7 wickets per Test at an average of 16+ average set the lofty standard which, I think with certainty, that Muralitharan has crossed.

Muralitharan's 90-Test run exceeding 7 wickets per Test and at a sub-20 average is comparable to Bradman's career. Even at a conservative estimate, the 7 wickets can be equated to upwards of 140 runs and this compares favourably with Bradman's 135 runs per Test. No other player, batsmen included, has achieved such figures in anything more than 25-30 Tests. Granted that Muralitharan played in a weak team, but then he had to bowl to batsmen of stronger team, these are still figures which make one stand up and take notice.

Muralitharan's career had three distinct parts, as outlined below.

34 Tests 135 wickets 3.97 @ 31.16
90 Tests 631 wickets 7.00 @ 19.94
10 Tests  34 wickets 3.40 @ 40.88

He started in an ordinary manner, went into a 10-year zone and then struggled at the end, a la Kapil Dev.

To view/down-load the complete 1-10 Tests table, please click/right-click here.

To view/down-load the complete player table, please click/right-click here. The bowlers who have captured 100 wkts or more are included. I have also ordered the table by career wickets captured.

To view/down-load the table of average quality of bowling faced by batsmen, as requested by some readers, please click/right-click here. The batsmen who have scored 4000 runs or more are included. An interesting column, which is the difference between the Batting average of the batsman and the Average Bowling quality value, is shown. This is a loose indication of the batsman's over-achievement.

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

  • Abhi on December 21, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    Ananth, Somewhat like i thought. Actually there was a world of difference between the SA and Indian attack. So, the one relatively "poor" bowler can seriously affect the weighted bowling figures. Anyway, thanks again [[ Yes, I agree. Arjun has been in touch with me on this topic. I tend to agree with him (and you) that the weighting method has to be modified. Arjun has suggested a good alternative. I will probably come out with an article on this. Partly this reflects the real situation. When Kallis and Tsotsobe bowled the pressure reduced visibly. So South Africa really had two top class bowlers and Harris towards the end. But the real problem is going to be our bowling. Barring about 15 overs by Harbhajan, we were rubbish. Do you know that Raina's is the most expensive 5+ over spell in history of Test cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • Shardul Juyal on December 20, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    my ideal bowling attack would be Barnes and Lillie to open the bowling, with Maco and Akram completing the pack. Warne to toil once the picth begins to wear down.

    Murali replaces Warne; Waqar replaces Akram in the subcontinent

    but that much talent aint possible in a single team

    @barnes

    He was a medium fast bowler who in his own admission cut the ball rather than swing it. Imagine the Murali like spin at 140 kmph....that is why he was so deadly.

  • Abhi on December 20, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Actually would be great if you could post both batting and bowling Qtys ,if possible! This match is gone- no chance. [[ Lsted more than 2 balls, but not by much. Looked like SRT had given up on the match or it was a big emotional release. For the match: Batting: Saf-39.03 Ind-42.85 Unadjusted Bowling: Saf-25.42 Ind-33.01 Weighted bowling: Saf-34.60 (Pulled down greatly by Tsotsobe) Ind-39.19. Ananth: ]]

    Re. SRT perhaps better to wait till he retires. As long as the body holds up- looks like there's a lot more to come.

  • Abhi on December 20, 2010, 2:35 GMT

    Ananth, as an aside- could you tell us what the "B.Qty"s of the current S.A and Indian side are - as per your current model? Thanks. [[ I will take B Qty as Bowling quality or Batting. Anyhow both will be available only after the match is finished. Could be a 2-ball burst first thing in the morning or 6 hours of rain. Will post it afterwards. I would like to do an article on SRT like the one I did on Murali. I have great stuff. I am not sure what is the correct time. At the end of the SA series or on retirement, which, looking at the way he is playing now could very well be after he crosses 40 !!! Ananth: ]]

  • unni on December 19, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    It is fair agreed. It is the 'perfectness' that is missing :-)

    Morally, you are right in that it is a consolation given to a notout batsman. No problems. But, mathematically, it is an adjustment. That takes some beauty out of it.

    Since I cannot propose a 'unadjused' solution I have to bear with that, though :-(

  • shrikanthk on December 16, 2010, 16:48 GMT

    Ananth : Sorry for digressing. Ad: Tendulkar's low average in December is easily explained. A lot of those December innings of his have been played in the southern hemisphere against pretty strong opposition - South Africa and Australia. You'd naturally expect his average to be marginally lower than the overall average in those tests.

    However I feel that both extremes are bad.

    Ananth: I am not advocating extremes! I'm only emphasising the "bowling average" as the best metric, which by virtue of its definition helps us avoid the two extremes and pick bowlers with the best combo of strike rate and economy rate.

    And I do not see much problems with batting average except the not-out factor

    unni: I believe that a batsman with more not-outs to his credit deserves to have a higher average! (all other things being equal) It is perfectly fair from a moral standpoint.

  • Alex on December 16, 2010, 12:49 GMT

    Ravindra Marathe:

    1. Trumper's clips are available in Australia. His batting style is a bit similar to that of - believe it or not - Rahul Dravid!

    2. A 6-min long YouTube clip on Bodyline series features a few gorgeous shots of McCabe on his way to the hundred in the 1st test. These show a full swing of bat that leaves Sobers & Lara in dust and a hard running between the wickets that would have done Dean Jones proud.

    3. Since this is a bowler centric article, let me mention Wes Hall. A few YouTube clip show this great black panther in all glory.

  • Alex on December 16, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Vipin:

    1. If you have not seen SMG bat, you probably have not seen Sarfaraz & Botham. I assure you that Brett Lee was better. Botham basically was washed up after his first 5 years in test cricket - he was quite unexceptional after '83.

    2. I am not sure if Hutton really thought SMG the greatest opener he ever saw (pl cite a reference). Bradman certainly did not. According to many of SMG's contemporaries, SMG certainly was one of the 3 best openers _in tests_ over the '70-'86 period.

    3. SMG was the first great batsman produced by India on world stage & inspired the next gen through his technique, discipline, & dedication. That's a great legacy - better than VVS's. But the game has evolved since his retirement & India is a stronger country with more support for cricket. So, it is not abnormal that some of today's best players bat better. VVS does bat better than SMG (& has done well vs all ... pl check scoreboards). Let's hope another SL bowler betters Murali soon. [[ Can we continue the batting discussions in a later batting-centric article. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 15, 2010, 18:27 GMT

    The reason is that in modern game, with modern pitches, it has become very tough for any bowling attack to bowl out opposition team again and again..... Runs are much easier to come by than wickets

    lovegoel: The argument is again somewhat flawed. To win a Test match, it is not sufficient to bag 20 wickets. It is just as important not to lose 20 wickets! Suppose your attack comprises only of bowlers with so-so averages and brilliant strike-rates (the Arthur Mailey's and Brett Lees of this world). You'll invariably end up chasing big totals in your 1st and 2nd innings. The larger the total being chased (and the more time available to chase it), the greater the probability of your team losing 20 wickets since the batsmen will have to spend more time at the crease chasing the runs!

    Which is why it is very short-sighted to claim simplistically that "wickets win matches" and not bother about averages. To focus on "strike rates" is to miss the wood for the trees! [[ That is a valuable point made by Shrikanth. However I feel that both extremes are bad. A team with an average bowling strike rate of 70 and average rpo of 2.0 will have problems in taking 20 wickets as a team with an average bowling strike rate of 50 and average rpo of 4.0 will have problems in keeping the runs conceded to a managable one. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 15, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    for eg 2 situations: 1)Bowler 1 may bowl say 20 overs , give away 40 runs and take 2 wickets- at an “average” of 20. 2)Bowler 2- may bowl 5 overs , give away say 60 runs take 2 wickets at an “average” of 30. In Test cricket I would pick bowler no.2. as my “strike” bowler to the top batsmen.

    Abhi: I see no reason why 2 should be regarded as superior to 1. I can see an argument building if the 2's figures were : 5 overs 40 runs, avg : 20.

    Only then, we can debate whether 2 should be rated higher than 1

    You're saying 2 is better than 1 since he will bowl out the opposition in quicker time and give his batsmen more time to bat the opposition out of the game. Fair enough.

    But please consider the flip side. 2 is also giving his batsmen a bigger total to chase! To top that, he is also giving the opposing bowlers more time to bowl out his side!!

    The game of cricket would be better off if they didn't publish bowling strike-rates! It only serves to muddle up people's minds. [[ Why this strong statement, Srikanth. I think the bowling strike rate has a role in helping the captain/selector decide whether to go in with two bowlers with averages of 25.00 (50 & 0.5) each and one with an average of 20.00 (60 & 0.33) and another with an average of 30.00 (40 & 0.75). All measures have their use. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on December 21, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    Ananth, Somewhat like i thought. Actually there was a world of difference between the SA and Indian attack. So, the one relatively "poor" bowler can seriously affect the weighted bowling figures. Anyway, thanks again [[ Yes, I agree. Arjun has been in touch with me on this topic. I tend to agree with him (and you) that the weighting method has to be modified. Arjun has suggested a good alternative. I will probably come out with an article on this. Partly this reflects the real situation. When Kallis and Tsotsobe bowled the pressure reduced visibly. So South Africa really had two top class bowlers and Harris towards the end. But the real problem is going to be our bowling. Barring about 15 overs by Harbhajan, we were rubbish. Do you know that Raina's is the most expensive 5+ over spell in history of Test cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • Shardul Juyal on December 20, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    my ideal bowling attack would be Barnes and Lillie to open the bowling, with Maco and Akram completing the pack. Warne to toil once the picth begins to wear down.

    Murali replaces Warne; Waqar replaces Akram in the subcontinent

    but that much talent aint possible in a single team

    @barnes

    He was a medium fast bowler who in his own admission cut the ball rather than swing it. Imagine the Murali like spin at 140 kmph....that is why he was so deadly.

  • Abhi on December 20, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Actually would be great if you could post both batting and bowling Qtys ,if possible! This match is gone- no chance. [[ Lsted more than 2 balls, but not by much. Looked like SRT had given up on the match or it was a big emotional release. For the match: Batting: Saf-39.03 Ind-42.85 Unadjusted Bowling: Saf-25.42 Ind-33.01 Weighted bowling: Saf-34.60 (Pulled down greatly by Tsotsobe) Ind-39.19. Ananth: ]]

    Re. SRT perhaps better to wait till he retires. As long as the body holds up- looks like there's a lot more to come.

  • Abhi on December 20, 2010, 2:35 GMT

    Ananth, as an aside- could you tell us what the "B.Qty"s of the current S.A and Indian side are - as per your current model? Thanks. [[ I will take B Qty as Bowling quality or Batting. Anyhow both will be available only after the match is finished. Could be a 2-ball burst first thing in the morning or 6 hours of rain. Will post it afterwards. I would like to do an article on SRT like the one I did on Murali. I have great stuff. I am not sure what is the correct time. At the end of the SA series or on retirement, which, looking at the way he is playing now could very well be after he crosses 40 !!! Ananth: ]]

  • unni on December 19, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    It is fair agreed. It is the 'perfectness' that is missing :-)

    Morally, you are right in that it is a consolation given to a notout batsman. No problems. But, mathematically, it is an adjustment. That takes some beauty out of it.

    Since I cannot propose a 'unadjused' solution I have to bear with that, though :-(

  • shrikanthk on December 16, 2010, 16:48 GMT

    Ananth : Sorry for digressing. Ad: Tendulkar's low average in December is easily explained. A lot of those December innings of his have been played in the southern hemisphere against pretty strong opposition - South Africa and Australia. You'd naturally expect his average to be marginally lower than the overall average in those tests.

    However I feel that both extremes are bad.

    Ananth: I am not advocating extremes! I'm only emphasising the "bowling average" as the best metric, which by virtue of its definition helps us avoid the two extremes and pick bowlers with the best combo of strike rate and economy rate.

    And I do not see much problems with batting average except the not-out factor

    unni: I believe that a batsman with more not-outs to his credit deserves to have a higher average! (all other things being equal) It is perfectly fair from a moral standpoint.

  • Alex on December 16, 2010, 12:49 GMT

    Ravindra Marathe:

    1. Trumper's clips are available in Australia. His batting style is a bit similar to that of - believe it or not - Rahul Dravid!

    2. A 6-min long YouTube clip on Bodyline series features a few gorgeous shots of McCabe on his way to the hundred in the 1st test. These show a full swing of bat that leaves Sobers & Lara in dust and a hard running between the wickets that would have done Dean Jones proud.

    3. Since this is a bowler centric article, let me mention Wes Hall. A few YouTube clip show this great black panther in all glory.

  • Alex on December 16, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Vipin:

    1. If you have not seen SMG bat, you probably have not seen Sarfaraz & Botham. I assure you that Brett Lee was better. Botham basically was washed up after his first 5 years in test cricket - he was quite unexceptional after '83.

    2. I am not sure if Hutton really thought SMG the greatest opener he ever saw (pl cite a reference). Bradman certainly did not. According to many of SMG's contemporaries, SMG certainly was one of the 3 best openers _in tests_ over the '70-'86 period.

    3. SMG was the first great batsman produced by India on world stage & inspired the next gen through his technique, discipline, & dedication. That's a great legacy - better than VVS's. But the game has evolved since his retirement & India is a stronger country with more support for cricket. So, it is not abnormal that some of today's best players bat better. VVS does bat better than SMG (& has done well vs all ... pl check scoreboards). Let's hope another SL bowler betters Murali soon. [[ Can we continue the batting discussions in a later batting-centric article. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 15, 2010, 18:27 GMT

    The reason is that in modern game, with modern pitches, it has become very tough for any bowling attack to bowl out opposition team again and again..... Runs are much easier to come by than wickets

    lovegoel: The argument is again somewhat flawed. To win a Test match, it is not sufficient to bag 20 wickets. It is just as important not to lose 20 wickets! Suppose your attack comprises only of bowlers with so-so averages and brilliant strike-rates (the Arthur Mailey's and Brett Lees of this world). You'll invariably end up chasing big totals in your 1st and 2nd innings. The larger the total being chased (and the more time available to chase it), the greater the probability of your team losing 20 wickets since the batsmen will have to spend more time at the crease chasing the runs!

    Which is why it is very short-sighted to claim simplistically that "wickets win matches" and not bother about averages. To focus on "strike rates" is to miss the wood for the trees! [[ That is a valuable point made by Shrikanth. However I feel that both extremes are bad. A team with an average bowling strike rate of 70 and average rpo of 2.0 will have problems in taking 20 wickets as a team with an average bowling strike rate of 50 and average rpo of 4.0 will have problems in keeping the runs conceded to a managable one. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 15, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    for eg 2 situations: 1)Bowler 1 may bowl say 20 overs , give away 40 runs and take 2 wickets- at an “average” of 20. 2)Bowler 2- may bowl 5 overs , give away say 60 runs take 2 wickets at an “average” of 30. In Test cricket I would pick bowler no.2. as my “strike” bowler to the top batsmen.

    Abhi: I see no reason why 2 should be regarded as superior to 1. I can see an argument building if the 2's figures were : 5 overs 40 runs, avg : 20.

    Only then, we can debate whether 2 should be rated higher than 1

    You're saying 2 is better than 1 since he will bowl out the opposition in quicker time and give his batsmen more time to bat the opposition out of the game. Fair enough.

    But please consider the flip side. 2 is also giving his batsmen a bigger total to chase! To top that, he is also giving the opposing bowlers more time to bowl out his side!!

    The game of cricket would be better off if they didn't publish bowling strike-rates! It only serves to muddle up people's minds. [[ Why this strong statement, Srikanth. I think the bowling strike rate has a role in helping the captain/selector decide whether to go in with two bowlers with averages of 25.00 (50 & 0.5) each and one with an average of 20.00 (60 & 0.33) and another with an average of 30.00 (40 & 0.75). All measures have their use. Ananth: ]]

  • Ad on December 15, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    Read a fun article by Andy Zaltzman (http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/andyzaltzman/archives/2010/12/tendulkars_christmas_blues.php) on Tendulkar's low average in December though no idea where the stats came from! There have been lots on analysis on batsmen/bowlers with best averages in a country/ground/vs a particular team etc. - how about best averages in a month? On the face of it, it might sound weird but it could make for an interesting light weight article. Thoughts? [[ One forthcoming article of mine to satisfy a request from Abhi might very well be in this category !!! Andi does a great job with his tongue-in-cheek writing. Ananth: ]]

  • unni on December 15, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    @Shrikanthk/Ananth : I was not intending to compare bowling average and strike rate. I was trying to favor the direct metric, wickets per match, which I feel gives direct evidence to the achievement w.r.t bowler's primary job. (strike rate is just a more accurate form of this). Preventing scoring of course matters; but that is secondary. (Again, I don't say it is not a skill; choking batsmen and finally getting them is fine as well).

    @Ananth : And I do not see much problems with batting average except the not-out factor. The problems starts appearing when we want to join the strike rate with this. [[ Readers would have noted that after couple of days I am back to giving my responses in my normal manner. I was on the road with only the mobile and used the mobile to answer the comments. I realized that the Motorola Milestone is no match to the HP Pavilion when it comes to handling the text paged interactive web work. Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on December 15, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    Bowling Average vs Strike rate is a good arguement. I have always preferred strike rates. The reason is that in modern game, with modern pitches, it has become very tough for any bowling attack to bowl out opposition team again and again. In very few matches you will find a team taking 20 wickets and then losing by a big margin. Runs are much easier to come by than wickets

    Look at the first ashes test this year. It didn't mattered how many runs lead Australia had, they just could not get the wickets.

    Sehwag vs Dravid is a very good example. But over a career, a bowler will bowl to both of them and both of them will affect his figures.

    Response by ananth batting average encompasses strike rate.

    I dont think there have been too many teams over the years, who could bowl the opposition out over and over, but could not find batsmen to score the runs. Taking wickets has always been the way to win test matches

  • Ravindra Marathe on December 15, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    Ananth, a slight digression from the topic at hand. Are you aware of any videos or audio of: 1. Old time greats- Barnes, Hobbs, Ranji/Duleepji, Pataudi snr, Headley, Grimmett, Hazare, Merchant, Compton, Davidson, 3Ws etal. (I have Gower;s History of cricket & ESPN's Legends of cricket and it is a treat to watch- it even has some grainy footage of WGGrace!). 2. Kapil's 175* in 1983. BBC was on strike but I hear there is an amateur video. 3. Sunnys debut series v WI, Yuvi's complete inn. v Eng in T20 WC- not just the 6x6, 4. The firsts- triple hundred, hattrick, Laker's 10-for etc. 5. Famous (& not so famous) incidents- Sunny v Snow, Shastri's 6x6, Griffith bowling to Nari Contractor, "you just dropped the WC son" etc, Some of the above are on youtube. Does anyone know any others?

  • Abhi on December 15, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    Another important factor to strike rate would be to get the top batsmen early. Once the top batsmen get “in” it gets exponentially more difficult to get them out. After a while you usually require a truly great ball or then you rely on the top batsmen to simply get bored or a lapse of concentration. A bowler with a lower strike rate , even though a miserly bowler, offers the top batsmen much more time to get in. So , when the top batsmen are at their most vulnerable – the need to strike is paramount over giving away a few runs.

  • Munni on December 15, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Nice article anantha, I think people have already pointed to few deficiencies in the article and as ever you are very accommodating. How is our friend ChiSquare faring these days..have not hear from him in a long time? I think Unni has really not understood the importance of average. There is nothing average about averages in cricket. Your explanation to him was great....it was very educational.

    Comment by ananth Very few understands cricket numbers as well as unni. He has only presented an alternate view

  • Abhi on December 15, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Ananth, Unni,srikanth etc Re. Bowler average vs. strike rate- I would go with Unni and think Strike rate is a better indicator in Test cricket. Again, as everyone likes to mention it depends on the quality of wicketst taken. If a bowler gets the Top 5 batsmen out in quick time (good strike rate) and gives away even say 30 runs per wicket…You effectively have a score of 150/5- a winning performance. In Test cricket wickets will usually take premium over leaking a few more runs. As rgds. Batting , the batting average is a far better indicator in Test cricket than strike rate. This is because there are several situations in Test cricket where strike rate is relatively unimportant- playing out time, consolidation, playing out a draw etc. Batting strike rates are important in ODIs. So, in selecting bowlers I (like Unni) would prefer bowlers with good strike rates over averages as far as Test cricket is concerned. Ananth: though you state “he Bowling average is the most complete measure in all of cricket since it encompasses two important aspects of a bowler, strike rate AND economy rate in a single number “ the problem is for eg 2 situations: 1)Bowler 1 may bowl say 20 overs , give away 40 runs and take 2 wickets- at an “average” of 20. 2)Bowler 2- may bowl 5 overs , give away say 60 runs take 2 wickets at an “average” of 30. In Test cricket I would pick bowler no.2. as my “strike” bowler to the top batsmen.

  • shrikanthk on December 15, 2010, 4:00 GMT

    WS: Throughout McGrath's career, we kept hearing that he is likely to be collared in the subcontinent given his lack of "express" pace. But this anticipated "collaring" never happened. He averaged less than 20 on the 2001 Indian tour - a series in which Indian batsmen were quite dominant.

    I agree Bedser was about 10km/hr slower than even McGrath. But I'm not sure if that's a major handicap given his other virtues (mastery of swing for instance unlike McGrath who didn't really move the ball much in the air).

    I'd like to think that the reason we don't find the likes of Tate and Bedser anymore is not because they won't succeed in the modern era, but because our generation has a cultural and aesthetic bias towards bowlers with "pacey aggression". Skilful "Medium Pace" is considered a wimpy, effeminate style of bowling among youngsters.

  • shrikanthk on December 15, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    Wasp: Interesting comment. I agree I probably shouldn't have mentioned Davidson in the same breath as Tate or Bedser. He was a very different type of bowler.

    Re Tate and Bedser: I used to think the way you do. But let's face the facts. Tate bowled predominantly during the 20s - an era notorious for its flat pitches. And he was reasonably effective. He was unsuccessful several times - in 1930 for instance when Bradman went berserk. But then even Larwood was collared in 1930.

    There is a misconception these days that unless you're express, you can't do well on batting pitches. But the fact is that most bowlers regardless of pace (barring great spinners) struggle on flat pitches. Pace may fetch you an extra wicket or two. But it may also make you more expensive per wicket.

  • Hema on December 14, 2010, 23:34 GMT

    Well said Steve; that is the problem with these comparisons in general, as meaningful stuff gets hidden behind confounders. Why a bowler is taking load of wickets is based on many things, ability is just one of them. How good are other bowlers in the team, how good are inapt the opposition bats- man are, are certainly two very important factors even if we don't normalize the data for conditions etc. After all in cricket analysis not everything can be controlled.

  • shrikanthk on December 14, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    Ofcourse, it is another matter when you're comparing two bowlers with identical averages but different strike-rates. Then, we need to make a value judgment on whether to rank the bowler with the lower strike rate(and higher economy rate) higher than the bowler with the higher strike rate (and lower economy rate).

    Suppose I compare Lillee with Waqar. Two bowlers with similar averages but very different strike-rates. Should one infer that Waqar is superior since he has a better strike-rate? I think this is a philosophical question. Is bowling out a side for 200 in 50 overs superior to bowling out a side for 200 in 80 overs?

    It depends. The first case may give your batsmen more time to bat the opposition out of the game. But you're also giving the opposition more time to bowl you out. It can be argued both ways.

    My take - focus on averages and don't get into the "strike rate vs economy rate" debate. If you do, then you enter the realm of philosophy as opposed to objective analysis!

  • Waspsting on December 14, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    They used to say "Mailey bowled like a millionaire, Grimmett bowled like a miser".

    re: bowlers like Tate, Bedsar, Davidson. I don't UNDERSTAND Tate and Bedsar - none of us have seen bowlers like that. a medium pacer, who the keeper stood up to as the leading strike bowler? Imagine the older Chaminda Vaas or Bangladesh's left arm opening bowler as the worlds leading strike bowler!

    Admitting my ignorance - I tend to side with Hutton, who always preferred a FAST man. I think Tate and Bedsar would struggle unless conditions where suitable (which they often were in England) - on a flat track, unless you have real pace, you'll always struggle.

    Davidson is different, but terribly underrated. He was pacey enough, just not express. Average is as good as anybody, and note that he spent a long apprenticeship to Lindwall, Miller and Archer. If you take his stats from the time he took the new ball, his average is probably even better. lot of unplayable late swing. i'd prefer him to Mcgrath.

  • Waspsting on December 14, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    re: "Minnows" - I agree with Ananth - and think a big reason for Bangladesh being downplayed is that they didn't have home umpires, unlike every other team to make its debut. Also like Ananth's quick record of average batsman dismissed by top players.

    re: Austrlian leg spinners - strangely, though thoroughly unorthodox of technique, O'Reilly might have been the most orthodox in style. He bowled off-stump, and the ball might go either way, making it imperative to read him right. Bounce was also a weapon - typical for a leg spinner. I saw a bit of Abdul Quadair, and this is how he bowled (only at the orthodox pace), and Musthaq Ahmed was the most "classical" leggie I've seen. Grimmett bowled round arm and didn't bounce much. Warne didn't use the googly much (which Sobers uses as a basis to critique him).

    re: Mailey and Grimmet... Mailey more damaging (could bowl the unplayable ball), but more expensive (continued)

  • shrikanthk on December 14, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    unni : disagree. The Bowling average remains the best metric. Wickets per test obviously favours dominant strike bowlers in otherwise weak attacks. There is no way a Prasanna could average 5 wickets per test given the competition within the team.

    Also, how can the "strike rate" possibly be the best metric for a bowler? By the same token, we should probably consider "No of balls per innings faced" as the best metric for a Test batsman!! If we do that, Sehwag will be dismissed as an alsoran as he faces just 64 balls per innings in contrast to say a Dravid who faces roughly 110-120 balls per innings. It simply doesn't make sense.

    It is a mistake to think that run-rates and economy rates do not matter in Tests. Ofcoure they do. If you were to ignore them, you'll end up regarding Brett Lee and McGrath as equals since they've similar strike-rates.

    A bowling record of 5-120 in 20 overs is far inferior to 5-40 in 20 overs. I wonder why people can't grasp this. [[ The Bowling average is the most complete measure in all of cricket since it encompasses two important aspects of a bowler, strike rate AND economy rate in a single number. Note the problems we always have re Batting average and Strike rate being two separate entities. A good Bowling average of 25 can be achieved thro a combination of bpw of 50 and rpo of 3 or bpw of 60 and rpo of 2.5 or bpw of 40 and rpo of 3.6. So it is completely fair to all types of bowlers. Two ends of spectrum can be the very attacking but run-giving pace bowler like Waqar or the classical spinner who strikes every 10 overs but is very accurate, like Wardle. Ananth: ]]

  • unni on December 14, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    Again a nice stats without conditions, arbitrary constants etc... nice to see the achievements of each of them...

    Also refreshing to see the wickets/per test or innings measure. I never understand the high-rating of the bowler's 'average' metric. It is not comparable to batsman's batting average since it is not an average of the player's direct output (wickets). Better metric could have been the strike rate. 'Average' is more or less a 'secondary' quantity which is logically(not literally, though) derived from 'strike rate'.

    But, wickets/innings or match is the most direct one.

  • Ankit Jain on December 14, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    For those complaining about Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, even after removing those two teams, Murali has 475 wickets from 70 matches (6.8 wickets per test) at an average of 21.86 during that incredible run. Those are figures that will make a fast bowler proud, leave alone a spinner. [[ Over the career the following are the figures. Other countries: 108 624 5.78 Zim/Bang: 25 176 7.04. For once a message to all people. Kindly look only at the Other countries figures. These are better career figures than any bowler who has captured over 200 wickets (not excluding their wickets against minnows). Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on December 14, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    @Ad, I agree wholeheartedly that this blog provides a refreshing change from other areas of cricinfo (perhaps it`s because Ananth is a more conscientious editor than most!) where rampant nationalism seems to be an unfortunate norm.

    For what it`s worth, in a world XI of the last 30 years, my time as a cricket watcher, I`d include both Warne and Murali, except in India, where I`d play Kumble. Love to see all 3 of them bowl in the same innings but...or even better, watch them bowl alternate deliveries at someone (Lara or Sachin) for 60 balls. It would have to put even the great`s head in a spin, forgive the pun.

    cheers all, can`t wait for Thursday, and thanks for trusting my `good sense`with the links Ananth. Unfortunately, most of the footage from the series titled `Great Spells` focuses on the wicket-taking balls only, not some of the great `set-ups`.

    My perfect Thursday...fast, bouncy tracks, bit of swing, India and Oz batting, both 2-140 at lunch, Sehwag and Ponting not out 101. [[ Many thanks, Boll, for the kind words. You have huge expectations. One fas followed his debut century with 9 failures and has to exorcise his South African ghosts. The other has to exorcise the ghosts of the past two years. Ananth: ]]

  • Steve Howe on December 14, 2010, 12:33 GMT

    The problem with this list, fascinating though it is, is that rather than measuring how successful a bowler was in absolute terms, it measures how successful he was compared to the other bowlers in his team.

    You say you junk any criticism of Muralitharan. Perhaps I might get away with pointing out that for much of his career he WAS the Sri Lankan attack - if he didn't take the wickets, no-one did.

    This is why, for example, names like Marshall, Holding, Garner etc do not feature here. Though they often blew the opposition away, they functioned as a pack. Given that only twenty wickets can be taken per Test, it was nigh on impossible for any of them to average five or more per game other than over very short periods.

  • vipin garg on December 14, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    @alex....well, i have never seen SMG bat, but i can still say, u have gone over board praising SRT....VVS over SMG..i can just say lol.. i have seen each n every test innings laxman has played but i will not put him even in contemporary world 11 while gavaskar will make a case for every all time world 11...What has laxman done to rate him above gavaskar...he has played good innings against aussies but what else????.Sir len hutton described SMG as the best opener he had ever seen. nd again brett lee over sarfaraz or even botham..again lol...except 4 his 1st year in test matches, he was very very avg fast bowler.. Sach can be better batsman but don't forget, gavaskar handled new ball and facing new ball, for me, is the toughest task in test match cricket. nothing against anyone, just wanted to make my point..

  • Bhumika Jain on December 14, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    One minor trivia; both Barnes and Muralidharan faced chucking allegation rightly or wrongly. may be to be a standout one needs to do something different. After-all all other great bowlers do not seem to have a streak like them.

  • Rohit Singh on December 14, 2010, 7:02 GMT

    I assure you Anantha, I like Murali and I have nothing against him. If Kumbley had gotten 25% of his wickets against Zim and Bangladesh, I would have pointed that out too. Don't lump us all together,some people are like that not me; plz go back and read all my comments to see if i have ever made a churlish comment to date. My point is simple (and it is not Murali's fault id SL board arranged matches against these teams), if a good bowler played against a weaker team, chances are that he would get a bagful of wickets. You are seeing implied meaning where none exists. Please. [[ Rohit I accept that your comment was not one against Murali. Still I do not understand how, when I myself have gone out of the way to mention that this was only a pure-numbers computation, you had to make one oft-repeated statement on "wickets against minnows". There was nothing new in that. I did the same thing in the batting streak analysis. I am sure any of the streaks mentioned in the entire article, from 10 to 52 matches, would have contained easy runs and would have been compensated by tough runs. Same way here. Bangladesh did not play like a minnow team during the last year. Their problem was/is their inability to play at a higher lever for 5 days running. I am sure Tendulkar himself would place his 105* higher than the 248*. So they are improving, maybe not as well as they should. Ananth: ]]

    @CricketPissek, I genuinely don't know what you are talking about mate. I wish I had time to read cricinfo everyday and know all the infights but I don't know.

  • shrikanthk on December 14, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Ananth: Atleast we ought to give those 60s Indian cricket teams credit for drawing matches. You can't draw a game if you aren't good enough to lose less than 20 wickets over 5 days. My objective is not to downplay the achievements of Murali or any other modern great. Sorry if I gave that impression.

    All I'm saying is that the "minnows" of yesteryear were often more competitive than the minnows of today. Facing Shakib Al Hasan isn't quite the same as facing Bishen Bedi. [[ My apologies, Srikanth. As one who got into Cricket in the 60s/70s period, I should not be unfair to them. They were great bowlers but not necessarily great batsmen. I will qualify my comment to change from an all-inclusive one to something like"There were phases during the 1950-2010 period when almost all teams, barring Australia and England, were of average quality and good (or bad) wnough to be called minnows.". I hope that satisfies you. But my statement on drawing the matches still holds good as far as Bangladesh is concerned. They seem to just never consider that option. Remember how Shakib's wonderful innings against England ended just before lunch when, instead of taking a single and comiing back after lunch, he went for a huge shot to reach his 100, lost his wicket and the match. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on December 14, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Alex, Again I am partly surprised that you even bothered to reply to such inanity. [[ Same reason why I have bothered to reply at length to other comments denigrating an equally great player. Ananth: ]]

    I have taken Ananth's tip of long ago - and simply given up. It is absolutely pointless, I can assure you. I can also assure you of the geographical origin of the commentator, screen names notwithstanding.

    I have seriously given up.It is like arguing against some form of brainwashing- religious or otherwise....Like banging your head on a wall.

  • shrikanthk on December 14, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    Re Minnows: I partly disagree. B'desh, Zim/NZ today are somewhat weaker than the India of 30s/40s.

    During that period, India could boast of world-class talents like Merchant, Mushtaq Ali, Nissar, Amar Singh, Mankad and Hazare. Yes, we may not have been winning matches. But in terms of cricketing talent, I bet the Indian teams of that period were a lot richer than the minnows of today.

    This isn't a romantic assertion. We just need to look up the FC records of those players. Merchant averaged 71 in FC cricket - the 2nd highest in FC cricket history.

    Even in the 60s, India was a very competitive bowling side with 3 great spinners, often let down by the batting. By the way, those spinners ought to be the most underrated bunch of bowlers in the game's history. They'll never feature in posts like these as they often shared their wickets with each other. They had no fast-bowling support and very few runs to defend. Yet, they were nearly always penetrative barring a brief period in late 70s [[ You yourself have added Nzl to the list of minnows. Barring stray performances West Indies could also be added. So where do we stand. I am sorry, India in 50s or 60s have better overall results because 75% of the matches were drawn. Today's attitude does not allow a team to have this fall-back or day-1 option. So Bangladesh looks worse than they are. Finally Murali has an average of 5.5 wickets per test against the other countries, better than anyone else, barring Barnes/Lohmann. This is conveniently forgotten. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on December 14, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    ..George Challenor, Clifford Roach and Wilton st Hill, plus allrounder Learie Constantine, with whom he had many famous battles in the Lancashire Leagues. Plus remember- he WAS 56! A true legend

  • delmeister on December 14, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    Btw, I agree wholeheartedly with the comment that Bradman typically nitpicked about O'Reilly's googly to rate him higher than Barnes. The latter was not a wrist spinner at all, which my hopefully helpful analysis of his methods will illustrate. It seems to me that his swerve in the air- a much quicker version of, for example, Warne's- was often mistaken for swing, hence classification as 'fast' bowler. Mind you, who is to say that this maestro did not swing and seam the ball too? His method rendered the googly totally superfluous. It is of great regret that when Bradman was astonishing the world with his record breaking in Eng 1930, he did not come up against Barnes, as other touring teams did. Apparently, attempts were made to provide the historic match up between the Boy Wonder and old maestro, but never came to fruition sadly. Also, I think it was 1928 when he took 12/118 off 48 overs v WI, aged I think 56. In truth, they were not a strong side, but had a decent top 3 of TBC

  • shrikanthk on December 14, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    Ananth: Some good points. There is much loose talk about "playing standards". What's often overlooked is that a century or a 5-for are achievements in any form of the game. Be it in a Test at the MCG or in a Ranji game againt Tripura.

    Which is why I cringe when people attempt to downplay records like that of Bradman or Barnes by citing "familiarity of opposition" as a reason. Suppose Tendulkar were to play 52 games against B'desh at Dhaka on the trot. I bet he'll still average around 60. The sensitivity of averages of top-class players to a marginal drop in the quality of the opposition is very low. The sensitivity is, in my opinion, very low, especially if the batsman is already averaging in the 50s against all comers.

  • sarwar on December 14, 2010, 3:37 GMT

    @ananth-surprised really not find to kumble,benaud or walsh,goes on show that may be they were not at peak for a good period of time and their one or a couple of good performances were undone by the failures ahead though i am not taking any credit away from them.and i would like to know how johny brigs fared at his prime.also a slight remark that its in the list barner's 65th test played in 2001,or am i wrong?

  • Ananth on December 14, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    I think it is necessary to put down this nonsense talk of minnows et al aimed solely at putting down one bowler. I will do a separate article analyzing various aspects of all top bowlers. In the meanwhile ... - Who is a minnow. Does anyone know enough to define this word. Does anyone think that Bangladesh or Zimbabwe are worse than New Zealand at various times over the past 70 years, India during 50s/60s/80s, Sri Lanka upto their WC win or even West Indies recently. Only Australia and to a lesser extent, England have avoided this classification always. - Who plays spin better. Some of the leaden-footed South African or English batsmen or the Bangladeshi batsmen. Was it easy to take lots of wickets against a line-up led by the Flower brothers. Surely no one can forget that India has lost two tests against Zimbabwe. - Do people know how many late order wickets Warne has taken. Much higher % than others. - I have an excellent measure called Average quality of wicket captured. It may surprise people to know that the average quality of batsman dismissed by Kumble is 20.7, Murali 20.5, McGrath 19.5 and Warne 18.6. - Is the general feeling that a player just needs to walk in and score runs or take wickets at, say, Chittagong. If so the reader is undermining the value of Tendulkar's first day 105* and has not understood the problems India had, to capture 20 wickets. Or that England struggled a lot to win a few months later. I will bring out all this in a separate article.

  • delmeister on December 14, 2010, 2:41 GMT

    ...Flower and Shakib were not mentioned for obv reasons, but much food for thought amongst the others perhaps?

  • delmeister on December 14, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    ..when he turned out for Wales. Len Hutton said that one of the greatest innings he ever played was a 50 in league cricket at age of 16 v Barnes, which the curmudgeon praised highly. Bearing in mind that his best bowling came in Tests and League cricket, not first class. Therefore, it is a measure of how great Hobbs was that when they faced each other in the leagues, he treated Barnes' bowling with fleet-footed contempt, which even the highly arrogant bowler acknowledged! He may have been a nightmare to share a boat with apparently (when McLaren's touring party's ship hit horribly rough seas, the captain apparently said "The only consolation is that bugger Barnes will go down with us"!), but he was a supreme artist for sure. Ananth, here is a top XI of those left out of alltime XI shortlists, The Unmentioned XI! : Arthur Shrewsbury,Michael Slater,W.G.Grace,Ranjitsihnji,Andy Flower,Clive Rice(capt),Shakib-Al-Hasan,Godfrey Evans(wkt),Vince Van der Bijl,Sylvester Clarke,Wayne Daniel TBC

  • delmeister on December 14, 2010, 2:27 GMT

    Great debate between Shrikanth and Waspsting. From what I can see, Barnes (imo alltime no.1) was about medium-fast (about pace of Bedser or more recently Alderman), and bowled swerving cutters ie legcutter which swerved in the air into batsman, and offcutters that did the reverse. He could do this because he adopted a grip nobody seems to have emulated- prob because too difficult? Basically, he held the ball across the seam in his 4 fingers all aligned (not '2 up 2 down like spinners) and thumb below ball.So when he wanted to bowl inswerving legcutter(like Bedser), he flicked his thumb and first finger down the left hand side of the ball, outswerving offcutter(learnt from Monty Noble) he flicked thumb and 3rd finger.He could not be bothered with 1st class cricket because it did not pay him enough, and was too much, both in bowling and difficult personality lol for virtually everybody.Well into his sixties,touring West Indians were adamant he was the best bowler they faced all tour TBC

  • Rohit Singh on December 14, 2010, 1:03 GMT

    I don't believe that flaw is in the eye of the beholder Anantha, it is in the analysis and numbers as presented. Surely getting wickets of Zimbabwean number 9, 10 and 11 can not be similar to getting out Mark Waugh, Gilchrist and Ponting. Cheap wickets are cheap wickets. There should be some adjustment made to look deeper than superficial numbers. [[ This seems to be a deliberate attempt to find some flaws. 1. It has clearly been said that all other factors such as batsman quality, home/away, team faced etc are not considered. I have also specifically mentioned that some reader would still say "..." and you have said. 2. Why should every analysis cover every relevant factor. Tomorrow when Tendulkar reaches his 50th hundred only the churlish and small-minded follower would say "Out of these 50, 6 (or 7 or 8 or whatever) are against minnows". 3. This is a straight forward analysis devoid of any assumptions and weights. Hence you have resorted to using "against minnows" as a way to discredit it despite I myself mentioning this at the outset. If your comment had been a generic "This factor has not been taken into account", that would at least not have given this impression of anti-Murali stance. Ananth: ]]

  • CricketPissek on December 13, 2010, 19:59 GMT

    @Rohit Singh - as Ananth said, 'minnow' is in the eye of the beholder. compared to Australia late 90s early 00s, every other team was a minnow! if you want to disregard Murali's wickets against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, you should disregard Warne's against England. Bangladesh play spin bowling much better than England do! If you genuinely don't rate Murali as a bowler, fair enough, but if you're one of the many who's involved in the distasteful nationalist jousting that seems to be going on between Sri Lankans and Indians on cricinfo recently, could you please have some self respect and stop it? On behalf of the whole nation I apologise for Suraj Randiv's no-ball :P

  • Ad on December 13, 2010, 18:27 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Not related to the this analysis but I did not know where else to ask this. In reply to one of my comments on your earlier article, you had mentioned that an analysis on the best tail-end batsmen had been done by you some time back. I could not find anything tagged under Test cricket, Batting or Trivia - batting. Closest was an analysis on night watchmen. If its not too much trouble, can you also provide a link? Thanks in advance. [[ I did three pieces, one on Night watchmen, another on Tail wagging and the thirdr on worst Test batsmen. You should be able to get access to all three. Ananth: ]]

  • Rohit Singh on December 13, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    Decent analysis with quite a few flaws, no mention of lower order vs main batsman wickets or even wickets against minnows vs strong teams. Murali had benefited from playing against minnows more often than not and reaped great benefits be bagging a bagful of wickets agaisnt Zim and Bangladesh. [[ Flaws are in the eye of the beholder. If what you say is true, every time a top[ batsman's aggregate runs are presented there must be a footnote on the runs scored against B'desh and Zim. And the comments on minnows has been said often. It is becoming quite uninteresting. The purpose of the article was to find the maximum number of wickets captured in x conseqcutive tests, THAT IS ALL. This has been clearly explained in the article itself. Pl re-read the paragraph explaining this. Ananth: ]]

  • Ad on December 13, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    Hi,

    Interesting analysis.

    Also went through the batting analysis. One obvious observation would be that one or two players seem to be in almost all the lists, from one to ten tests. In the batting analysis, Gooch and Bradman were everywhere, here it is Barnes and Murali. Could be because they are in great form during the streak or also could be the fact that once you have a few out of the world tests, the overall aggregate remains high even if there are 1 or 2 ordinary performances in the streak (e.g. as you mentioned Barnes' 2 wicketless tests).

    Going off topic, but after going through some of your posts recently, I feel that your column easily gets the most insightful and well behaved comments I've seen on Cricinfo. It definitely makes for a much better reading experience :)

  • Alex on December 13, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    Marlo - The need to bash SRT in comments on a bowler-centric article is baffling. I avidly followed SMG and watched many of the 70's & 80's batsmen. IMO, SRT is by far the best batsman produced by India (how he stands vs Lara/Viv is debatable). Among the bowlers you have mis-spelled and cited: [[ Not a bad idea to stick to the theme of the article. I also tend to publish and add my tuppenny-worth. Ananth: ]]

    1. He notched up 50's against W&W, Imran, Hadlee, Kapil, Botham, and Marshall before he turned 16/17/18/19, depending on what age he ran into them. 2. Item 1 includes MoM awards vs Hadlee & Marshall and a 75-ball 99 vs Kapil. 3. At age 16, he hit Bishop at his fastest over the top for a six on a fast wicket in England. Even Viv never did that to Thommo. 4. Sarfaraz and Botham as great bowlers? Brett Lee is way better than them.

    SMG was a classic case of mind over matter - basically Ravi Shastri with more batting talent thrown in. Anyone who seriously thinks him better than SRT (or even VVS) is probably having an understandable moment of nostalgia.

  • Ankit Jain on December 13, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    @Alfonse Jerry - Indeed. Barnes and Murali make it to my all time XI too. It should be really impossible to leave out someone like Barnes from the team. He was freakish.

  • Marlo on December 13, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    @Shrikanthk: Our grand children won't be wrong if after 100 years they doubt Tandulkars greatness while comparing to some others. Even in present time 80% of people outside India doubt that he is a better batsman than Gavasker or Viv Richards. I wish you were old enough and had lived an adult life in 80s to see those wicket conditions, standard of bowling, and batsmens nightmares while facing bodyline bowling without wearing protection gears. I have seen Lille n Thomsen, Imran with Sarfraz or Wasim n Waqar at hight of their time, Hadle, Kapel and bob n Botham,, all these greats on one side and then a black storm of Marshel, Roberts, Croft, Holding and Garner who could bowl out best batting lines under 200 even on a wicket made of pure sand. And then fast wickets... good length balls touching ur ears without any helmet. Now just imagine that a little man faces the NEW ball, hahaha oh man, you worshippers of what u see only, can't know that. [[ This is somewhat like Tennis. I missed Laver but thought his exploits would never be equalled. Then Borg threatened briefly but Sampras overhauled the Grand Slam tally although Laver was a more complete player. Federer has overhauled the 14 comfortably and looks set to add a couple more. However his tally itself looks reachable when we look at Nadal's year. People can have their favourites which need not change. However we should accept that today's achievements can be overhauled. Having said that, I do not think Tendulkar's Test and ODI runs will ever be overhauled. With the ascendancy of BCCI's clout I can easily see 3 clear months for IPL and related events, leaving 9 months for the other formats. How many Tests or ODIs are going to be played. Where are the 5-match series, other than Ashes. The Test championship would be a wonderful competion but would mean fewer Tests. Ponting was going somewhere until 2008; now he is going nowhere. Ananth: ]]

  • Adnan on December 13, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    With no disrespect for Murali and Barnes, it is also to be noted that both did not have any competetion from within the team to share wickets. This is the reason the most of the leading strike bowlers do not show in this list and they had good strike bowlers at the other end. Warne/MacGrath, Lille/Thomo, Wasim/Waqar, Ambrose/Walsh etc. So it will be nice to have another ananlysis on pairs too......

  • Arjun on December 13, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    If this analysis is done inningwise instead of testwise it might throw a surprise or two. Bowlers from weak countries tend to bowl once in test quite often eg. in 10 tests, 12-13 inns. Can you do a short list similarly for consec- 5 inns, 10 inns, 15 inns and 20 inns ? [[ I remember a similar comment in the Batting 1-10 analysis. Let me see how soon I can do that and post. Ananth: ]]

  • Mark on December 13, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    Interesting analysis.

    Those of you who are trumpetting Warne would to well to remember that if Murali bowled the exact same number of deliveries against the same opposition as Warne (excluding SL, obviously) he'd still have a far superior bowling average. [[ Alex I am not certain we can do that sort of extrapolation. That will be the starting point of all troubles. Let us take the numbers as they come. I do not know why people are unwilling to accept the two greats as what they are without trying to put one above the other. Muralitharan, with the help of a few others, lifted Sri Lanka from an average team to one which has held its own amongst other top teams. Warne had to share the spoils with, at any time, at least two top class bowlers. Let us leave it at that. However no one should downplay 90 tests/631 wickets at any time. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on December 13, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    Meety and shrikanthk:

    1. In his recently video-recorded Cricinfo interview, Lara rated Murali to be more difficult to face but Warne to be better for the following reasons: (1) Warne gained more strength from adversities, (2) Never realizing what a hard time he was giving to Lara, Murali never really went for the kill once Lara got set. To me, that is the final word on Murali & Warne.

    2. Score-cards & records don't tell the whole story. As per the raw numbers, Waqar might seem to be better than Lillee & Holding. Yet, Imran still rates Holding as the most talented fast bowler he ever saw (followed by Akram).

    3. Ranji recd a royal snub from the Cricinfo All-Time Eng XI selection panel. Yet another example of double standards, IMO. And this team includes Pietersen, Botham, Larwood, & Underwood.

  • Abhi on December 13, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    Ananth, Yes, Tyson is one erudite fast bowler... As opposed to the usual neanderthal like pacers. Courier used to say "the dumber they are, the better they play". Doesn't apply to Tyson.

    Tyson also used to have one of the best articles ever on Sportstar (Typhoon talk),where I saw that highly technical article on lefties...I haven't seen his articles for a while now. Has he quit?

    Typhoon talk was a fabulous feature.Tyson is one of the Best, if not THE best writer on cricket- for some reason he is not as highly rated as Roebuck and co.Wonder why? But Tyson's articles were Simply Superb.

  • shrikanthk on December 13, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    re: why Warne over Grimmett or O'Reilly. Quite a good question as I often argue that Warne wasn't even in the 2 best leggies Oz have had...

    Meety: That's quite a statement. Warne, to my mind, is by far the greatest among the orthodox leggies who've graced this game. O'Reilly was not exactly an orthodox leggie (more akin to Kumble, maybe even faster). Grimmett wasn't particularly orthodox either. He had a rather flat trajectory with a round-arm action.

    Warne, in contrast, had a very classical style. Reasonably high arm action with prodigious drift in the air. Among modern bowlers he's almost unique in his ability to make the ball drift in one direction and break the other way.

    Only O'Reilly merits serious comparison with Warne among leggies. Re Grimmett and his 5-wicket hauls : He was a part of some very weak Aus attacks in late 20s and early 30s unlike Warne. Old timers are not convinced whether Grimmett was better than even Mailey (leave alone O'Reilly)

  • Waspsting on December 13, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    re- off/leg cutters... but the off-cutter bowler is predominantly looking for bowled and LBWs, while the leg-cutter bowler is looking for outside edges, NOT BOWLEDs or LBs.

    You can pad up to a ball outside off stump - if it goes away, no worries and if it comes in, the LB law protects you.

    A ball on leg and middle - if it goes straight on, you can whip it, but if it turns back away (leg cutter)... you have problems. I imagine Barnes and Bedsar (at much reduced pace), bowled the kind of balls Wasim Akram did to Allan Lamb in the 92 WC. That ball was about as unplayable as anything (only the next one was even more unplayable)

    With the general rule - incoming deliveries threaten bowled or LBW, while outgoing deliveries threaten outside edges.... I think the incoming delivery bowlers were more handicapped in that era.

  • shrikanthk on December 13, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    WS: Good point about the LBW law and Richardson's stock ball being the off-cutter. Another factor that worked against Richardson and other fast bowlers of the 90s was that they had to make do with a single new ball per innings. The ball wasn't renewed after 80 overs (or 55 overs as was the case with Lindwall and Miller). That's not exactly a handicap for Barnes who was more of a spinner of the ball than an orthodox seam bowler.

    Re the bias towards modern cricketers: There is also a bias towards a certain aesthetic, I think. Bowlers like Tate, Bedser and Davidson are seldom mentioned in the same breath as Lillie or Holding, though their records are just as good. Is it because they were less dramatic to watch, with shorter runups and the wicketkeeper often standing up to them?

    I'm not a romantic. All I ask for is an objective appraisal of cricketers, past and present. Sadly, what we observe even at cricinfo is that judges are romantic about the present instead of being fair to everyone [[ The normal compaint is that people are romantic about the past. Here you are, correctly, observing that judges are romantic about the present. My grouse is not necessarily about the final selection. However the probables short-list short-changed many great players of the past. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 13, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Waspsting: I've heard that Bradman anecdote. Though it is typical of Bradman to nitpick about the googly to prop up O'Reilly's case against that of Barnes.

    With regard to Hobbs "standardizing" stats: Well, it's just that Hobbs played in a lot more test matches than anyone from that era. Which is why his figures appear "normal". Figures are more likely to be "bizarre" when you play in very few games for reasons that are obvious.

    Ranji, to my mind, is the greatest batting figure from the pre-Bradman era. He averaged 56 in FC cricket (an almost Bradmanesque average in that era). That's 6 runs more than Hobbs (who averaged 50 in FC), 17 runs more than Grace, 12 runs more than Trumper!

    And yet, Ranji did not even get a nomination for a middle-order spot in England's All time XI on cricinfo.

    I always pay more attention to FC figures while judging players from the pre-WWI period. This is because FC figures are more robust and reliable.

  • Meety on December 13, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    I personally go for Warne over Murali - for the thought that Legspin provides more variety than Offspin, (that being said the way Murali spun the ball with the use of his wrist means I think he can'r be classified as an Off Spinner). Maybe he should be classified as an Unorthodox Wrist Spinner. Anyways I think both players were great for the game, for different reasons. Warne revitalised Leg Spin, & Murali carried a Nation's bowling. [[ One other factor to be considered that off-spin was dying a natural death because of bowlers spinning fronm the off to defensive fields to keep down the runs. Murali changed this to an attacking option, and led the way for Saqlain and Harbhajan. Although it must be said that Swann is bringing back the old-fashioned off-spin bowling as a potent tool. Ananth: ]]

  • Meety on December 13, 2010, 3:11 GMT

    @Waspsting - re: why Warne over Grimmett or O'Reilly. Quite a good question as I often argue that Warne wasn't even in the 2 best leggies Oz have had, (allowing for the fact Grimmett was a kiwi!). I read a book by Ashley mallett likening Grimmett to The Don - comparing 5 wicket hauls to centuries. The book was something like "The Bradman of Spin". Whilst I don't take it a as a given that Warne was the best Leggie Oz have had, I do rate him above Murali. I think the reasons why Warne was "rated" more highly then Murali is on 3 counts (in order of importance); 1. I think the art of Legspin Bowling is seen to be a more varied & skilled art then Offspin (rightly or wrongly). 2. The biggest stain on Murali's career analysis is the whole Banga & Zim ratio of wicket taking. 3. Also I think the whole "chucking" debate will always be considered (fairly or not). TBC

  • shrikanthk on December 13, 2010, 3:03 GMT

    Interesting debate.

    Alex : I think that's a very interesting request. I'd expect Lohmann, Turner, Spofforth to drop down in the rankings using that criteria. However, I think the likes of Barnes and especially Richardson will continue to do great. (Richardson might go up significantly). This is because Richardson's best performances were quite often on the batting paradises down under against very strong Aussie batting line-ups. [[ This particlular analysis re Batting was relatively easy. Will come out in the next few days. Bowling has to be carefully done. But intriguing neverthless. Ananth: ]]

  • manik de S Wijeyeratne on December 13, 2010, 2:59 GMT

    I agree with you and should have qualified my comments. From a purely statistics point of view you are probably right. However, their are lies, damn lies and statistics. Hence some perspective is warranted. I as a person am not interested in statistics that compare apples with oranges. I presumed you were stating these statistics to compare the relative merits of the bowlers. After having reread your article I realized I was wrong. Sorry. [[ No problems at all. I am always aware that one should not do any frivolus comparisons. Again I request you not to ignore the fact Murali has done as well as (and probably better in some ways) than Barnes. So that means any bowler in between could be compared to these wonderful book-end bowlers. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on December 13, 2010, 2:52 GMT

    Ananth, Yes.Both Warne and Murali did better against righties. But another reason may be because of the preponderance of righties vs. lefties... So, the odds of having many more "weaker" rightie batsmen as compared to the fewer very good lefties. However,as far as lefties are concerned Murali was as effective a bowler to them right through his career, as compared to righties who he terrorised for the bulk of his mid career.

    Very difficult to come to any definitive conclusions from the data though.

    (BTW after remembering Frank "Typhoon" Tyson, I had a look at his stats too. He had an extremely short career which is perhaps why he doesn't turn up too much in all these analyses. But he seems to have been an ABSOLUTE freak of a bowler (avg.11.4 vs.righties, 19.5 vs.lefties) I guess the wickets cutoffs in all these analyses "cut" him off from reckoning. But , now will surely check if i can find any video clips of him!! [[ 76 wickets at 18.57. He came like a typhoon, destroyed a few batsmen and went back, leaving the carnage behind. 5 years only.31 wickets in his first 5 tests. The Martin-Jenkins' biographical gems are - Can quote Shakespeare or Wordsworth between deliveries. - The flat wickets at Northampton probably hastened his demise iin intl cricket. - 7 for 27 was probably the best spell by a modern fast bowler in Australia. - His initial run was a mere 40-45 yards. - A university graduate, he migrated to Australia and had a wonderful career teaching, writing and administering cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanchez on December 13, 2010, 2:10 GMT

    I think people pick Warne over Murali because of personality. I think both are excellent and world-class spinners at their peak, but Warne just had this huge character, a larger than life personality, whereas Murali was more quiet and happy to just play. Might be a combination really, Sri Lanka dont really have a 'rival' per se, like Australia v England so Warne's achievement are more visible.

    Excellent anaylsis again.

  • manik de S Wijeyeratne on December 13, 2010, 0:58 GMT

    I think statistics of players who played in different eras to compare their performances an exercise in futility. Reasons; uncovered pitches, weak or strong oppositions, strong bowling attacks in the side vs weak ones. Strong oppositions vs weak oppositions, strike rates, professional cricketers vs non professional cricketers, Good fielding vs bad fielding, home and away games etc,. However, it makes interesting reading, while it makes no sense. Current day scribes have not seen older players perform. After all greatness like beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Personally, I would like a Warne, Murali comparison as well as a Waqar, Wasim, Lillee, The West Indian Quartet, Mcgrath comparison based on factors that affect ultimate performance, taken into consideration. A computer analysis would take any bias out of the equation. [[ I am not sure whether I understand your comment. This is not a comparison of bowlers across ages. It is a listing of the bowling streaks, that is all. Also if Murali and Barnes, who played almost exactly 100 years apart, can have almost identical figures, why should we not compare bowlers across ages. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on December 12, 2010, 23:11 GMT

    Hi Ananth, was reading a reply of yours regarding Warne and Murali and a world 11. I'd have both in the team - and a pace attack or Imran, Hadlee and Marshall. Sobers backs up both the pace and spin attacks. That means only 5 batsmen, but with -

    a) Bradman (virtually worth 2 bats) b) Gilchrist (you expect runs from a keeper, but not as much as he gave) c) Bowling allrounders (Imran and Hadlee) d) Long tail (Marshall and Warne)

    - i think the batting holds it own, while the extra spinner makes for an attack that's at its best from both ends regardless of conditions.

    Thoughts? [[ WS I have already mentioned in my reply that I would have both the spinners. As far as the rest of the team, your team would suffice. Although Sobers and Imran together may not be necessary. Normally long tail is used to denote a weak tail. Here it is a strong tail with Murali the only average batsman. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on December 12, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    @Srikanthk - re: Tom Richardson and Barnes.... Richardson's stock ball was the off-cutter, while Barnes' was the legcutter, and the LBW law of the time said you couldn't be out to anything that pitched outside offstump. I guess that partially explains the discrepancy in their figures. [[ WS One thing intrigues me. If the Lbw law barred dismissals off balls pitched outside the off stump, presumably the same would have been applicable to balls pitched outside leg stump. So the leg-cutter theory benefiting Barnes would not hold good as far as Lbw was concerned. He might have had more caught-in-the-cordon dismissals. For Lbw dismissals using leg-cutters, the width available would have been very little. Would amlost have to be straight deliveries Or am I wrong on the pitched outside legstump assumption. Ananth: ]]

    When the LBW law was changed, Herbert Sutcliffe, whose test average never dropped below 60, wrote how batting would be ruined, centuries would become a rare thing and inswing and off break would become unplayable (Sutcliffe made the most of the old law, would play back and square up to everything, simply shouldering arms to anything outside the off stump)

  • Waspsting on December 12, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    ... virtually took the off side out of the equation with his sharp turn). I also think Murali a more accurate bowler, though both were very accurate (economy rate stats in all forms of the game should bear this out).

    Finally, the sharply turning ball is harder to play when its coming in rather than going out, you can't leave the ball or pad it out as safely. Murali almost always turned it sharply. At his best, he didn't need arm balls, doosras and whatnot (like Barnes and the googly, I suppose)... everyball was the perfect off break - flighted nicely, drifting, dipping, landing on a perfect lenght outside off stump and turning in very sharply.

    I found it BIZARRE that Warne was UNANIMOUSLY selected as the spinner for crickino's world 11. Those selections support my claim that we all are biased towards our own generation (why Warne over Grimmett or O'Reilly? or Richards over Headley or Hammond? Sehwag over Vijay Merchent? McGrath over Davidson? Pietersen over Compton??)

  • Waspsting on December 12, 2010, 22:00 GMT

    Neville Cardus often compared Alec Bedsar's inswinging leg-cutters to Barnes, who apparently bowled the same delivery.

    Jack Hobbs standardized stats by setting the benchmark of 50 as a great average. When Hobbs made his debut, high 30s-low 40s was the standard. Making allowance for the old LBW law, Gregory and MacDonald standardized the low 20s as a great average for a fast bowler (they averaged high 20s, but with that LBW law, I'd say it about evens up).

    I just don't know how to intelligently assess anything before that - Grace, Trumper, Spofforth, etc. - and admit my ignorance freely. As I say, we ALL to an extent ignore what we haven 't seen (how does Viv Richards UNANIMOUSLY make it into the all time west indies 11 over Weekes, Walcott, Worrell, Kanhai?)

    Re: Murali - first off, I don't think he chucks. Second, I've seen Warne collared by aggresive batsmen far more often than Murali (also, you can score of Warne on both sides of the wicket thanks to the sweep, Murali ....

  • Waspsting on December 12, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    @Srikanthk - I hear what you're saying, and don't disagree with it. My point is... how many people place Spofforth, Turner and Lohmann in their countires world 11s or all time 11s? Almost none. To an extent, we ALL dismiss the past, in favor of what we've seen with our own eyes. Barnes' figures make no sense to me they are SO GOOD... and unlike Bradman, he played in a time where the standard was not too far away from what he achieved (though he was outstanding even there too). Ultimately, as I say, I JUST DON'T KNOW ABOUT Barnes!

    He was listed as a fast bowler in the cricinfo all time 11s. Bradman debated with an old timer who h ad seen Barnes, as to whether he was better than O'Reilly or not (Bradman's point was that since O'Reilly bowled a googly as opposed to an off-break, technically he must be better. When Barnes heard about this, he replied, "Yes, that's true, I never bowled a googly. I didn't need to"). See "Farewell to Cricket" by Bradman. (continued)

  • Charindra on December 12, 2010, 19:27 GMT

    - Murali played in a mediocre team with a weak bowling attack. Most of the time he didn't even have the opportunity to take many wickets as the opponents would not lose 20 wickets in the whole match.

    - More than half of his career he was playing sides which were stronger than Sri Lanka

    - He only got a few games in England, but he destroyed the Poms whenever he toured there

    - He never intimidated the umpires into giving him decisions, or verbally abused the batsmen, unlike some other spinners.

    - He has never taken performance enhancing drugs.

    - He has never been involved with bookmakers.

    - He has the best record against India among modern spinners.

    - He's the only wrist spinning off break bowler the world has ever seen.

    - He had more variations that any other spinner.

    And all of this is apart from the mind boggling statistics. All I can say in conclusion is that, 50 or 100 years from now, Murali will finally be remembered as the greatest bowler to have ever played the game.

  • vize on December 12, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    Just a minor correction, in the first analysis you said "It is of interest to note that 4 out of these 5 have occurred in England". I'm pretty sure that Barnes 17 wickets came in South Africa while Hirwani's came in India. [[ My apologies. It was not Hirwani's 16-xxx which I saw live. Barnes's 17-xxx, I missed. The article has since been corrected. Ananth: ]]

    Anyway,those trivial matters aside this analysis shows just how great Murali and Barnes were. Barnes may have played on more bowler friendly pitches than today,but you can argue that his fellow team mates bowled on the same pitches and yet he still took far more wickets than them. Murali on the other hand has taken a lot of his wickets on pitches which hardly suit the spinners. Just look at what a hard time bowlers are having in Sri Lanka since Murali retired. Even on the flattest of tracks he could make the ball turn. It is important to note that on one of those test matches in 2006, he took ten wickets in the match on the same pitch where Jayawardene scored a massive triple century

  • arch on December 12, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    Based on this, the cricinfo World Second XI seems to have a slightly more penetrative attack than the first choice XI, as Barnes, Murali, and Imran (fifth in the 10 test list) were picked to bowl for that side. What is interesting is that these three were more or less the main strike bowlers for their teams at their peak. The bowlers on the first choice world XI had significant support (Warne had McGrath and Gillispie, Marshall had the WI pace battery, Akram had Waqar and Mushtaq Ahmed - surprisingly high on the 10 test list, Lillee had Thomson - the weakest support of the lot). Perhaps, in the long term, it will be interesting to analyze how much of difference bowling with others, and bowling alone, makes to ones bowling average, wicket total and other factors. I think it might be impossible to quantify, but who knows. [[ I would never find fault with the Cricinfo First XI bowling attack. Warne, Marshall, Wasim Akram and Lillee. What a quartet. At the same time I have no hesitation in saying that the second XI \'s bowling attack was no less, Imran, Murali, Barnes, O'Reilly and Trueman. What a quintet. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on December 12, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    Ananth and srikanthk:

    1. Perhaps Ananth could please rank the bowlers on the metric X, where X=(average of the bowler)/(average runs/wkt in the matches he bowled). This would shed some light on the real stature of pre-WW1 bowlers such as Spofforth, Lohmann, and Trumble. [[ This request probably belongs to the next series led by my next article on the unni suggestion on batting. Ananth: ]]

    2. srikanthk (do I sense a Krish Srikanth fan?), "honest Tom" Tom Richardson was a well recognized legend: I never read Barker's book but Neville Cardus' "6 Giants of the Wisden Century" (publication year 1963), available freely on Internet, includes him; the other 5 being Grace, Trumper, Hobbs, Barnes, & Bradman.

    3. I can't understand why Lohmann, Trumble, Spofforth, et al should be overlooked, esp. if they score high on the metric X suggested in 1. The same logic should discard Underwood's wet pitch wickets, Sanath's (or anybody's) featherbed run orgies. McDermott averages 28 but was quite harmless outside Aus and Eng ---- Raman Lamba used to hit him for sixes over deep point on Indian pitches.

  • Lourens Grobbelaar on December 12, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    Sorry if this is a bit of the conversation, but I had alook at the fuller lists and made some observations (Generally as a Saf fan):

    (1)The father-son combination of Shaun and Peter Pollock as both on these lists seems unique to me, but I do not know the other names from other countries that well. Is there any other? (2)Kallis also has a spell of 40 wickets in 10 tests starting with Test 1593 against Australia (11 wickets in 3 tests-all top order 1-7) for those who always say he only takes wickets against lesser nations. (3)Trevor Goddard, whose name also features was also an opening batsmen at the same time. (4)All the usual All_rounder names tend to feature here showing their class (Kallis included).

  • vipin garg on December 12, 2010, 11:16 GMT

    @ananth..thanks for correcting me @santosh..murali has outstanding record every where with the exception of australia and india... he averages under 20 in england and newzealand and 26 in south africa. that's pretty impressive for a spinner in my opinion.

  • shrikanthk on December 12, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    I strongly recommend Ralph Barker's Ten Great Bowlers - a book that contains long, wonderfully penned essays on a lot of bowlers discussed on this thread - Sydney Barnes, Tom Richardson, George Lohmann, Bill O'Reilly, Grimmett among others.

    By the way, here's another tidbit : Out of Barnes' 189 Test wickets, over 110 were bagged in his last 12-13 Test matches, I think. (Ananth can confirm this)

    And this purple patch began at the MCG in 1911 Boxing Day test when he was a few months away from his 39th birthday!!!!

    To my mind, that's absolutely incredible. Probably the only sportsman in the history of ball games that I can think of, who established himself as a legend after the age of 38!

    It is even more remarkable that this guy actually played his first FC game for Warwickshire at the age of 21 in the early 90s. It took him 17 years to fully discover his bowling prowess! [[ If you read the article carefully the career-ending spell of Barnes is referred to at the end. 15 tests 122 wickets. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on December 12, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    Ananth, I got these stats from "view formats"-"bowling formats"-"wickets summary"...when you open the page(submit query) it shows up on the top rows groupings of righties and lefties.

    In any case Warne didn't do too well against the lefties compared to the righties as well. Frank Tyson used to say that he absolutely hated bowling to leftie batsmen because of certain technical reasons.

    I guess the fewer lefties relative to righties have certain advantages...as rgds. to angles etc.

    I can bet my last buck that if Nadal was rightie he wouldn't cause Federer half as many problems. The likes of Lara, Hussey too are actually rightie but bat leftie (thank our luck- i say!) [[ I feel that a top-class left handed Tennis player can be devastating because of the nature of the game and the angles which can be created. Similarly a top lefat handed bowler can also be quite difficult to play. On the other hand a left-handed batsman and right handed batsmen are almost similar, if the bowler is good enough to handle the line change well (most top bowlers are). If a bowler has an in-built problem with left handers that is a different situation. I think Bradman/Tendulkar/Hobbs were great because of their own outstanding skills, not because they bat(ted) right. Similar for Lara/Sobers. Ananth: ]]

  • vipin garg on December 12, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    we can also notice 1 thing here, there aren't too many pace men in the list, reason could be they don't bowl that many overs as a spinner bowls and on green tops, wicket get shared..so, i think, waqar's record is some what more remarkable..... [[ Waqar, Barnes, Lohmann, Hadlee, Massie and Tom Richardson. Not a bad collection. Ananth: ]]

  • vipin garg on December 12, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    we do any sort of bowling analysis, Murali comes out on top... u have done 3-4... even after removing minnows wickets from his record, best all time performance in 3rd or 4th innings or any analysis...but when cricinfo or any legend announce their world 11, they unanimously pick warne over murali...What's the resaon behind this????? is it that chucking claim that still haunt him????? who will u have in ur world 11, provided only 1 spinner is allowed.. [[ Unfortunately the western world still looks at Murali with less than the admiration he warrants. Warne does not carry such a feeling in the Indian sub-continent. This I am saying with no rancour. I would play both and 2 fast bowlers, with Sobers to provide support in both areas. Your last sentence came garbled !!! Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 12, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    Its hard to even categorize him - he took the new ball, some say he was "fast", Bradman likened him to O'Reilly (who was like Kumble), others say he bowled like Bedsar.

    I'd like to know where did you get hear these intriguing tidbits. Bradman never saw Barnes bowl. He was 3 yrs old when Barnes visited Aus in 1911-12. Bedser has often been compared with that other great bowler of the 20s - Maurice Tate. However, I'm not sure if anyone compared him with Barnes.

    Yes, it's hard to categorise Barnes. That's what makes him special. He played in an era when critics did not bucket cricketers into neat categories like "fast" or "fast-medium".

    Ananth: It's interesting Tom Richardson features in your analysis. Tom was the most consistently successful "fast bowler" the world had seen until Lindwall in the 40s. And he averaged about 25 in Tests! Drives home the enormity of Barnes' achievements. [[ In fact my resident editor asked "Tom who" and asked me to say something about him. I clean forgot. Ananth: ]]

  • charith on December 12, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    well done Ananth,Barnes was a great for sure.But when you compare him with murally the major difference that i can see is that he bowled on uncovered pitches unlike murally.

  • Abhi on December 12, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    @Matt H Rest assured Warney is as respected around these parts as Murali is. I remember a while back when both Tendulkar and Lara were using MRF bats. The bats were branded as "MRF Genius" and "MRF Wizard" for Tendulkar and Lara respectively. More or less similar feelings are held about Warne and Murali.

  • Abhi on December 12, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    Ananth , To add some spice to your stats from a different angle , regarding Murali’s overall figures. Here’s Murali vs. lefties and righties in the same time periods you outline: 34 Tests 135 wickets 3.97 @ 31.16 Lefties:30.11 Righties:30.58 90 Tests 631 wickets 7.00 @ 19.94 Lefties:34.21 Righties:19.61 10 Tests 34 wickets 3.40 @ 40.88 Lefties:29.58 Righties:25.91

    I recall reading a Roebuck article as to how he felt Murali was actually more dangerous pre doosra to lefties. I forget his exact reasoning now. Something to do with LBWs,how he could rip his offbreaks more , balls pitching outside leg etc. So, except for the last 10 Test typical career fade - As far as lefties are concerned he may have had a point. But ,clearly the good lefties right from Fleming, Flower,Lara down to Gambhir and co. have in general played Murali most comfortably. [[ I am not very comfortable with this particular analysis since it takes only dismissals. How about if Lara scored 90% of his runs in an innings off right handers and then lost his wkt to Murali. Or vice versa. Ananth: ]]

  • SANTOSH on December 12, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Good analysis.but i would like 2 say one thing. comparing greatness of cricketers who have played in different eras is such a nonsense. it is a that kind of a discussion which wil continue going on and on endls times. u hav 2 luk hel lot of factors. when u say barnes played in thos pitches u hav to also agree dat murali also have taken more than 500 wickets in the subcontinent. where pitches favoured the spinners. and his record is nt so grt outside apart frm that of the oval performance.at the sam time u hav 2 also agree dat barnes carrer got a boom on that proteas tour where he got 49 wickts. and also he played much fewer test matches. so comparind barnes and murali is like comparing a cow and a camel.! we dnt knw which one is better and that it is. . we wil nevr cum 2 knw [[ The only request I make is to send a comment in good English not SMS English which is the bane of modern communication. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 12, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Also, I often notice a tendency to club all cricketers from 1870-1914 as representing a "queer" era of sorts. What's overlooked is that this 45 year period itself comprises of 3-4 mini-eras, each different from the other.

    The era of Grace and Shrewsbury(1870s-80s) was very different from the "Golden Age" of the 1890s, which in turn was quite different from the period that immediately preceded WWI (1905-1914).

    Barnes' achievements (circa 1910) are of a far greater magnitude than those of Turner or Lohmann (from the 1880s). The pitches that Barnes had to bowl on were much truer and firmer than the pitches on which Charlie Turner plied his trade. [[ You are absolutely correct. One reason I always make sure to mention that Barnes bowled fromn 1901 to 1914. Ananth: ]]

  • Alfonse Jerry on December 12, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    By my earlier blog it can be seem I am in agreement with Khalil Sawant. The fact that Barnes' career was spread over such a long period of time is probably even more reason for considering him for all time first team 11. [[ If nothing else he should be a shoo-in for serious contention for one of the three fast bowlers' spots. Ananth: ]]

  • Old I guess on December 12, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    The first comment here has rightfully stated the observation that there are those out there who jump at the chance to pull down Murali's achievements but there's already been one shot at the great SF Barnes by Waspsting. The work that's been done here helps to put in perspective what Barnes did by showing that his performances compare with Murali and thus helps all of us to contemplate the impact Barnes had at the time. I just hope that people take a deep breath and bother to look at Barnes' record compared against his peers before so quickly dismissing him as some bizarre creature from the past. [[ Yes I agree Waspsting has stung, possibly unfairly. One thing is important when we compare Barnes' and Murali's figures. If Murali can acheive well over 6 w/t in these days when 5 is virtually unachieveble, that makes Barnes' performance as outstanding and deserving recognition. That is not some freakish 10 tests-80 wickets career. Ananth: ]]

    Some interesting work for us all to contemplate you've produced again here Anantha.

  • Khalil Sawant on December 12, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    Murali stands vindicated :) Hope cricket enthusiasts learn to appreciate the man called SF Barnes, who could walk into any World XI today. And Waqar should have played a couple of more years of cricket.

  • Alfonse Jerry on December 12, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    When Cricinfo picked its all time 11, I had Barnes and Murali in my first 11. I do not know why Barnes is not a first team atomatic like Bradman is.I consider him almost the Bradman equivalent for bowlers. I guess that in general batsmen tend to jump up at us for all-time-great considerations than bowlers do; even though we love to say bowlers win matches. About the excuse that he played in bowler friendly condition, many other bowlers played under the same conditions without nearly his success. Aren't we not prepared to overlook Bradman played only in Eng and OZ. As per Murali vs Warne, Murali is my guy, but there is case for Warne. [[ Unlike Lohmann who achieved his bowling feats over 18 tests, Barnes achieved his over 27 tests, spread over 14 years, stopped only by WW1. Ananth: ]]

  • Shah02 on December 12, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    Excellent analysis. They should make a book out of these. Also, would be nicer if the top 5 or top ten in each category (batsmen and bowlers) were listed. Then we get a better idea of the consistent performers. A few things. Can we get the streaks/analysis extended to fifteen or twenty tests? Second, this list might shortchange bowlers in strong attacks, like Marshall. So can we get the top ten in each test grouping, and then rank them with their averages and strike rates? That way, Holding, who might have 65 wickets in 10 tests, can be compared to Younis through their averages. It might not be perfect, but might give us an idea as to how bowlers in their prime, in strong attacks, performed (although they still have an advantage as they hunt in packs). Can we also do this for pairs (Wasim-Waqar; McGrath-Warne; Donald-Pollock; Imran-Qadir; Miller-Lindwall)? Last, can we have an analysis for allrounders, but one that does not favor the batting allrounders, as many unfortunately do. [[ You have asked for a lot, but all what you say makes sense and makes me get another new plate to keep the requests. I will see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 12, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Waspsting : Consider a scenario where none of Tendulkar's footage survives in 100 years. I wonder how we'll feel if our great-grandchildren wonder aloud - "God knows what kind of cricket they were playing circa 2000....he must've scored all those runs against anaemic bowlers". It is an unfair comment, to be honest.

    I don't think the game has changed in a fundamental way. The last major non-cosmetic change in the game of cricket was the legalisation of overarm bowling in 1864.

    Barnes' record is not exactly "too incredible to be true". Yes, he averaged about 16 in Test cricket. But that's largely aided by his 40 odd wickets in one series against SA on matting pitches! If you consider the rest of his career, I guess his average was probably around 20-22 which is not too different from that of modern greats.

    Barnes continued playing league cricket for Staffordshire even after he was past 60. Even at this advanced age, he was averaging under 10 in the leagues.

  • Matt H on December 12, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    Interesting as always and shows for those like Waqar, Laker and Warne why they are someitmes rated more highly than overall careers would suggest. It is just that their peaks were so high. Like Viv Richards on the batting side. Of course, Murali's peak was longer than anyones (for bowlers anyway) and so he is unique. Aussies (like myself) will never see it because he just did not perform here, just like Indians do not rate Warne (and Ponting) because they never saw them perform in India. That is what makes cricket discussions so much fun. [[ You would be surprised to see how righly Warne is rated in india. One reason is because television removes the need to see a player's performance in person. Finally how many people go to the ground to see a Test series. 500000 !!!. Compare this to the millions who would have watched on Television. Ananth: ]]

  • CricketPissek on December 11, 2010, 21:25 GMT

    great analysis. but expect abusive comments regarding murali. *sigh* interesting that most bowlers listed here are spinners [[ Unfortunately I have to read such comments. However once I see the trash contained, I would trash these and also set these up as Junk. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on December 11, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    I remember that sensational run of Waqar Younis' - its based on that that I rate him higher than Wasim, Ambrose, Mcgrath and Donald. He just looked like he was going to get wickets whenever he bowled - and he did. His strike rate was 36 (!) at 200 wickets before injuries some pace off him... and even then, he finished with a far better strike rate than anyone with that number of wickets.

    Barnes' figures are so extraordinary that I tend to just dismiss them (like Grace, Trumper, Lohman, Spofforth, Turner). God knows what kind of cricket they were playing in those days. Its hard to even categorize him - he took the new ball, some say he was "fast", Bradman likened him to O'Reilly (who was like Kumble), others say he bowled like Bedsar. I'd speculate loose batting techniques were the main portion of his outstanding stats.

    Murali - best spinner ever. The ball turning in is harder to play than the one going away WHEN it is going sharply. With Murali, it almost always was going sharply.

  • aniruddha on December 11, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    i guess murali is a better cricketer,because he played all the three versions of the game...

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  • aniruddha on December 11, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    i guess murali is a better cricketer,because he played all the three versions of the game...

  • Waspsting on December 11, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    I remember that sensational run of Waqar Younis' - its based on that that I rate him higher than Wasim, Ambrose, Mcgrath and Donald. He just looked like he was going to get wickets whenever he bowled - and he did. His strike rate was 36 (!) at 200 wickets before injuries some pace off him... and even then, he finished with a far better strike rate than anyone with that number of wickets.

    Barnes' figures are so extraordinary that I tend to just dismiss them (like Grace, Trumper, Lohman, Spofforth, Turner). God knows what kind of cricket they were playing in those days. Its hard to even categorize him - he took the new ball, some say he was "fast", Bradman likened him to O'Reilly (who was like Kumble), others say he bowled like Bedsar. I'd speculate loose batting techniques were the main portion of his outstanding stats.

    Murali - best spinner ever. The ball turning in is harder to play than the one going away WHEN it is going sharply. With Murali, it almost always was going sharply.

  • CricketPissek on December 11, 2010, 21:25 GMT

    great analysis. but expect abusive comments regarding murali. *sigh* interesting that most bowlers listed here are spinners [[ Unfortunately I have to read such comments. However once I see the trash contained, I would trash these and also set these up as Junk. Ananth: ]]

  • Matt H on December 12, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    Interesting as always and shows for those like Waqar, Laker and Warne why they are someitmes rated more highly than overall careers would suggest. It is just that their peaks were so high. Like Viv Richards on the batting side. Of course, Murali's peak was longer than anyones (for bowlers anyway) and so he is unique. Aussies (like myself) will never see it because he just did not perform here, just like Indians do not rate Warne (and Ponting) because they never saw them perform in India. That is what makes cricket discussions so much fun. [[ You would be surprised to see how righly Warne is rated in india. One reason is because television removes the need to see a player's performance in person. Finally how many people go to the ground to see a Test series. 500000 !!!. Compare this to the millions who would have watched on Television. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on December 12, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Waspsting : Consider a scenario where none of Tendulkar's footage survives in 100 years. I wonder how we'll feel if our great-grandchildren wonder aloud - "God knows what kind of cricket they were playing circa 2000....he must've scored all those runs against anaemic bowlers". It is an unfair comment, to be honest.

    I don't think the game has changed in a fundamental way. The last major non-cosmetic change in the game of cricket was the legalisation of overarm bowling in 1864.

    Barnes' record is not exactly "too incredible to be true". Yes, he averaged about 16 in Test cricket. But that's largely aided by his 40 odd wickets in one series against SA on matting pitches! If you consider the rest of his career, I guess his average was probably around 20-22 which is not too different from that of modern greats.

    Barnes continued playing league cricket for Staffordshire even after he was past 60. Even at this advanced age, he was averaging under 10 in the leagues.

  • Shah02 on December 12, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    Excellent analysis. They should make a book out of these. Also, would be nicer if the top 5 or top ten in each category (batsmen and bowlers) were listed. Then we get a better idea of the consistent performers. A few things. Can we get the streaks/analysis extended to fifteen or twenty tests? Second, this list might shortchange bowlers in strong attacks, like Marshall. So can we get the top ten in each test grouping, and then rank them with their averages and strike rates? That way, Holding, who might have 65 wickets in 10 tests, can be compared to Younis through their averages. It might not be perfect, but might give us an idea as to how bowlers in their prime, in strong attacks, performed (although they still have an advantage as they hunt in packs). Can we also do this for pairs (Wasim-Waqar; McGrath-Warne; Donald-Pollock; Imran-Qadir; Miller-Lindwall)? Last, can we have an analysis for allrounders, but one that does not favor the batting allrounders, as many unfortunately do. [[ You have asked for a lot, but all what you say makes sense and makes me get another new plate to keep the requests. I will see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

  • Alfonse Jerry on December 12, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    When Cricinfo picked its all time 11, I had Barnes and Murali in my first 11. I do not know why Barnes is not a first team atomatic like Bradman is.I consider him almost the Bradman equivalent for bowlers. I guess that in general batsmen tend to jump up at us for all-time-great considerations than bowlers do; even though we love to say bowlers win matches. About the excuse that he played in bowler friendly condition, many other bowlers played under the same conditions without nearly his success. Aren't we not prepared to overlook Bradman played only in Eng and OZ. As per Murali vs Warne, Murali is my guy, but there is case for Warne. [[ Unlike Lohmann who achieved his bowling feats over 18 tests, Barnes achieved his over 27 tests, spread over 14 years, stopped only by WW1. Ananth: ]]

  • Khalil Sawant on December 12, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    Murali stands vindicated :) Hope cricket enthusiasts learn to appreciate the man called SF Barnes, who could walk into any World XI today. And Waqar should have played a couple of more years of cricket.

  • Old I guess on December 12, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    The first comment here has rightfully stated the observation that there are those out there who jump at the chance to pull down Murali's achievements but there's already been one shot at the great SF Barnes by Waspsting. The work that's been done here helps to put in perspective what Barnes did by showing that his performances compare with Murali and thus helps all of us to contemplate the impact Barnes had at the time. I just hope that people take a deep breath and bother to look at Barnes' record compared against his peers before so quickly dismissing him as some bizarre creature from the past. [[ Yes I agree Waspsting has stung, possibly unfairly. One thing is important when we compare Barnes' and Murali's figures. If Murali can acheive well over 6 w/t in these days when 5 is virtually unachieveble, that makes Barnes' performance as outstanding and deserving recognition. That is not some freakish 10 tests-80 wickets career. Ananth: ]]

    Some interesting work for us all to contemplate you've produced again here Anantha.

  • Alfonse Jerry on December 12, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    By my earlier blog it can be seem I am in agreement with Khalil Sawant. The fact that Barnes' career was spread over such a long period of time is probably even more reason for considering him for all time first team 11. [[ If nothing else he should be a shoo-in for serious contention for one of the three fast bowlers' spots. Ananth: ]]