April 23, 2011

24 great Australians across 21-plus years

An analysis of top Australian Test batsmen and bowlers in the last two decades
182

Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath: won 71 out of 104 Tests played together
Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath: won 71 out of 104 Tests played together © Getty Images

The response to the previous off-the-beaten-track article on West Indian pace bowlers was so good and the comments were so interesting that I decided to continue on a similar theme rather than move into the ODI domain. This time I have taken the Australian teams for analysis. I have read the readers' comments and have realized that I must include both batsmen and bowlers in the analysis. So this article is quite a different one to the previous one which was almost totally graphic. This one has only a single graph and many other tables.

What are the cut-off Tests? After a lot of deliberation, inspection and perusal of the readers' comments, I have decided that the golden period will start with Test no 1121, the first Ashes 1989 Test and end with Test no 1957, the second Test between New Zealand and Australia which was played during March 2010. There could be a variation of a few Tests at either end but most of the readers would agree that this really represented the golden period of Australian supremacy. Before the 1989 cut-off, Australia lost to West Indies and Pakistan. Since the 2010 cut-off, Australia have drawn the Pakistan series and lost against India and England and one can clearly see the fall.

I have selected the following 24 players who were the top Australian performers during these 22 years. Most of these players select themselves. There are 15 batsmen and 9 bowlers in this elite collection. Readers might want to add one or two to this list but I am sure none of these players will be taken out. I considered and discarded Alderman (only 70+ wickets after the cut-off), Border (since added), Reiffel (since added), Kasprowicz (quite average), Symonds (not enough batting impact), Watson (impact probably in future), Clark & Siddle (less than 100 wkts) et al.

Batsmen:

Border, Boon, Steve Waugh, Healy, Taylor, Mark Waugh, Martyn, Langer, Slater, Hayden, Ponting, Katich, Gilchrist, Clarke, Hussey.

Bowlers:

McDermott, Hughes, Reiffel, Warne, McGrath, Gillespie, MacGill, B Lee, Johnson.

First, a graphic time-line of the careers of the 14 batsmen and 7 bowlers.

Summary of careers of top Australian batsmen and bowlers © Anantha Narayanan

The timeline started with the continuation of the careers of Boon, Steve Waugh, Healy and Taylor. After a couple of years, Mark Waugh made his debut. Then came Martyn and Slater. Hayden and Ponting came in within the next couple of years. All the while the first four stalwarts continue to play. Boon retired, followed by Taylor and Healy who handed over his gloves to Gilchrist. No new batsmen came in for some time. Then Katich, Clarke and Mike Hussey took their deserved places.

McDermott started the timeline period and bowled on his own, with support from Alderman for some time. Then Warne made his, fairly ordinary, debut. Within a year McGrath made his debut, again nothing great. No one could have foreseen such wonderful careers, for both. Gillespie came after a few years. Afterwards MacGill started his interrupted, but great-in-numbers, career. Lee started with a bang, only to fade away in the second half of his career. Warne and McGrath retired on the same day, along with Langer. Johnson made his bow 4 years back and, despite some off-colour series, has performed very creditably.

Next the results summary of these 236 Tests.

Period      T   W   D   L    %

1989-2010 236 142 51 43 71.0%

1989-1994 59 27 22 10 64.4% 1995-1999 58 32 11 15 64.7% 2000-2004 59 44 7 8 80.5% 2005-2010 60 39 11 10 74.2%

Overall the Australian teams have achieved 71.0% success during these 22 years. Across three generations of players, this is outstanding and represents, arguably, the longest domination of the world scene. This has been split further into four approximately equal periods. I have not gone on players or series but rather calendar years split to get four similar sub-groups.

The 1990s have been more or less uniform with an average success % of around 64%. Half the matches have been won and a fair number drawn. There was a propensity to draw more matches during the early 1990s than later on. Defeats are fewer as are wins. Border captained during most of the first period and passed the captaincy to Mark Taylor during mid-1994. Taylor captained most of the Tests during the second period and handed over the captain's cap to Steve Waugh. Taylor was, by nature, a more aggressive captain than Border and has also acquired world-beaters as players.

Now we come to the real golden period of all. During the next 5 years, Steve Waugh captained Australia and amassed an incredible 80% success rate, despite the blip in India during 2001. Nearly three-quarter of the matches were won. Draws, as a playing option, were not offered to the opposing teams. Similar to the pattern already established, Steve Waugh passed the baton to Ponting during early 2004. There was a noticeable drop in success rate during the last period. However the 74% figure still represents strong domination of world cricket. Now that the responsibility has been passed on to Michael Clarke, the world will watch with interest how the next 5/6 years will shape up for Australia.

Now the details, viz., the batting averages and scoring rates for Australia and the opposition teams during these period.

|--------Australia----------| |-------Other Teams---------|
Period    Wkts   Runs  Avge  Balls  RpO Wkts   Runs  Avge  Balls  RpO

1989-2010 3927 134071 34.14 243382 3.31 4187 119118 28.45 240984 2.97

1989-1994 972 32138 33.06 65699 2.94 989 29117 29.44 64656 2.70 1995-1999 1009 30332 30.06 60124 3.03 992 26464 26.68 55122 2.88 2000-2004 933 34853 37.36 55419 3.77 1104 29923 27.10 58786 3.05 2005-2010 1013 36748 36.28 62140 3.55 1102 33614 30.50 62420 3.23

Across these 22 years, Australian batsmen have scored at an average of 34.14 and at an overall rate of 3.31. The opposition have scored at an average of 28.45 and a scoring rate of 2.97. This represents a differential of 20% and 15% and explains the overall success of the Australian teams.

Now the period numbers. The first period has lower numbers for both but shows a differential of 12% and 9%, just enough for the edge which has been achieved. The second period has still lower numbers all around and show differentials of 12% and only 5%. These indicate only marginal superiority.

Now comes the wonderful period when Australian batting averages moved upwards and the other team averages moved downwards. The third period showed a differential of 37% and 23%. That has translated into the phenomenal 80% success rate.

During the last period, there has been 19% and 10% differential. Looks like there is a strong correlation between these differential values and overall success rates.

Now for the special analysis on player groups. First the Bowlers groups analysis which is probably more interesting. I have identified the Bowler groups which played in all these 236 Tests and ordered these on the number of matches played. Then each of these groups has been analyzed for all relevant measures. I have excluded the one-bowler groups since these do not convey much (only one selected bowler played). I have also not shown bowler groups which played in only one Test (e-g, Warne/MacGill or McGrath/MacGill/Lee et al). The players are given in order of their debut.

The presentation itself is quite complex. It was impossible to show the bowler groups and the numbers in one line. The display would have gone past the screen. Also if the player group line and the numbers line are shown together the numbers are not clear. Hence I have separated the player line and numbers line. The group number is the common link. Readers should not forget that these are unique player groups.

 1. Warne; McGrath; Gillespie; 
 2. Warne; McGrath; Gillespie; Lee; 
 3. Warne; McGrath; Lee; 
 4. Lee; Johnson; 
 5. Warne; McGrath; Reiffel; 
 6. McDermott; Hughes; 
 7. Warne; McGrath; 
 8. McDermott; Warne; Hughes; 
 9. McDermott; Warne; McGrath; Reiffel; 
10. McGrath; MacGill; 
11. McDermott; Warne; McGrath; 
12. Warne; McGrath; MacGill; Lee; 
13. McDermott; Warne; 
14. McGrath; Gillespie; MacGill; Lee; 
15. Gillespie; MacGill; Lee; 
16. Warne; Lee; 
17. MacGill; Lee; Johnson; 
18. Warne; McGrath; Gillespie; MacGill; 
19. Warne; McGrath; Gillespie; Reiffel; 

|--- Bowler Group--| |--- Other team --|Comparisons No. T W D L % Wkts Runs Avge RpO Wkts Runs Avge RpO Avge RpO

1. 23 15 3 5 71.7 304 7344 24.16 2.68 412 10701 25.97 2.90 1.08 1.08 2. 16 10 4 2 75.0 265 7402 27.93 3.15 284 8086 28.47 3.30 1.02 1.05 3. 16 14 2 0 93.8 224 5413 24.17 2.81 311 7470 24.02 2.91 0.99 1.04 4. 13 5 3 5 50.0 111 3359 30.26 3.19 221 8141 36.84 3.31 1.22 1.04 5. 10 5 3 2 65.0 126 2775 22.02 2.50 164 4133 25.20 2.71 1.14 1.08 6. 10 4 4 2 60.0 100 2370 23.70 2.96 165 4986 30.22 3.07 1.28 1.04 7. 10 6 2 2 70.0 86 1959 22.78 2.50 173 4174 24.13 2.87 1.06 1.15 8. 9 4 2 3 55.6 105 3062 29.16 2.87 149 4632 31.09 2.90 1.07 1.01 9. 7 4 2 1 71.4 103 2867 27.83 2.57 123 3374 27.43 2.57 0.99 1.00 10. 7 3 3 1 64.3 71 1706 24.03 2.73 120 3473 28.94 2.84 1.20 1.04 11. 6 4 1 1 75.0 104 2282 21.94 2.70 120 3185 26.54 2.78 1.21 1.03 12. 6 6 0 0 100.0 106 2797 26.39 2.88 115 3169 27.56 2.97 1.04 1.03 13. 6 2 3 1 58.3 50 1512 30.24 2.79 99 3331 33.65 3.02 1.11 1.08 14. 6 5 0 1 83.3 106 2584 24.38 2.79 117 3029 25.89 2.97 1.06 1.06 15. 5 3 1 1 70.0 60 2247 37.45 3.27 88 3621 41.15 3.40 1.10 1.04 16. 4 3 0 1 75.0 44 1070 24.32 3.24 77 2133 27.70 3.33 1.14 1.03 17. 4 3 1 0 87.5 52 1661 31.94 3.19 75 2288 30.51 3.09 0.96 0.97 18. 4 2 0 2 50.0 62 1677 27.05 2.97 69 1921 27.84 3.15 1.03 1.06 19. 4 3 0 1 75.0 72 1443 20.04 2.67 74 1643 22.20 2.81 1.11 1.05

It would not surprise many that Warne, McGrath and Gillespie have played together in the maximum number of Tests as a unique group. Their 27 Tests have yielded an excellent success rate of 72%. They have been 10% and 8% better than the the entire team values. I have shown the % difference to the entire team than the other bowlers since in cases where the group has three bowlers, the rest of the team would have captured very few wickets.

However the best group with significant number of Tests is Warne, McGrath and Lee. When they played as a group, they played 16, won 14 and drew 2. However the fourth bowler also seems to have pulled his weight since the differentials are quite low.

McDermott and Warne, when they played together, have not been very successful.

Note the success rate of Warne, McGrath, MacGill and Lee. They played 6 and won all and captured 105 of the 112 wickets.

As a super-group, Warne and McGrath, played together, along with other bowlers, in no fewer than 104 Tests, won 71, drew 17 and lost 16 for an overall success rate of 76.4. Undoubtedly the most potent bowling combination in history of Test cricket.

I have since added Hughes and Reiffel. Because of this the cut-off has been increased to 4 Tests. A few new groups involving Reiffel and Hughes have been created. Readers can peruse these themselves.

The batsmen groups are less interesting since upto 7 batsmen are involved and it is not easy to visualize the groups immediately. Let us see the tables. In the bowler groups there were 1-bowler groups. Here the minimum number of batsmen in a group is 4. There are a lot more groups than for the bowlers. Hence only batsmen groups which have played in 4 test or more are selected. It should be also noted that only Batting average comparisons are done since Balls faced information is not available for about 30 of the early matches.

 1. Ponting; Katich; Clarke; Hussey; 
 2. Boon; S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; Border; 
 3. Boon; S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Slater; 
 4. S Waugh; M Waugh; Martyn; Langer; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; 
 5. Boon; S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Slater; Border; 
 6. Boon; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Border; 
 7. S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Ponting; 
 8. Martyn; Langer; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; Katich; Clarke; 
 9. Hayden; Ponting; Katich; Clarke; Hussey; 
10. S Waugh; M Waugh; Langer; Slater; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; 
11. Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; Clarke; Hussey; 
12. S Waugh; M Waugh; Langer; Slater; Ponting; Gilchrist; 
13. S Waugh; Martyn; Langer; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; 
14. S Waugh; Healy; M Waugh; Langer; Slater; Ponting; 
15. S Waugh; Martyn; Langer; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; Katich; 
16. S Waugh; Langer; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; 
17. Martyn; Langer; Hayden; Ponting; Gilchrist; Clarke; 
18. S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Hayden; 
19. S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Langer; Slater; 
20. S Waugh; Healy; Taylor; M Waugh; Langer; Slater; Ponting; 

|Batsmen Group| |---Entire team ---| Comp No. T W D L % Ins Runs Avge Ins Runs Avge RpO Avge

1. 17 10 4 3 70.6 119 5415 45.50 283 10811 38.20 3.51 1.19 2. 15 8 6 1 73.3 123 5092 41.40 244 8900 36.48 3.03 1.13 3. 14 7 3 4 60.7 149 5620 37.72 258 7289 28.25 3.08 1.34 4. 13 9 3 1 80.8 135 6446 47.75 190 7571 39.85 3.87 1.20 5. 12 8 3 1 79.2 125 6208 49.66 164 7199 43.90 3.10 1.13 6. 12 6 5 1 70.8 105 3706 35.30 220 6597 29.99 2.87 1.18 7. 10 6 3 1 75.0 82 3271 39.89 171 5514 32.25 3.03 1.24 8. 9 3 3 3 50.0 106 3682 34.74 161 4792 29.76 3.71 1.17 9. 9 3 2 4 44.4 82 3279 39.99 169 5347 31.64 3.19 1.26 10. 7 5 0 2 71.4 77 2992 38.86 113 3688 32.64 3.39 1.19 11. 7 6 1 0 92.9 49 2600 53.06 88 4489 51.01 3.72 1.04 12. 6 6 0 0 100.0 55 2701 49.11 88 3560 40.45 3.59 1.21 13. 6 5 0 1 83.3 54 2981 55.20 82 3778 46.07 4.24 1.20 14. 6 2 2 2 50.0 54 1831 33.91 99 2570 25.96 2.74 1.31 15. 5 2 2 1 60.0 60 3014 50.23 85 3420 40.24 4.06 1.25 16. 5 5 0 0 100.0 31 1925 62.10 52 3026 58.19 3.93 1.07 17. 5 5 0 0 100.0 46 2523 54.85 70 3177 45.39 3.91 1.21 18. 4 2 0 2 50.0 35 898 25.66 74 1856 25.08 2.86 1.02 19. 4 2 1 1 62.5 42 1669 39.74 77 2191 28.45 2.96 1.40 20. 4 2 2 0 75.0 51 2304 45.18 63 2583 41.00 3.16 1.10

Border has since been added. The group which played in most Tests together is during the early years, viz., Taylor, Slater, Boon, M Waugh, S Waugh and Healy, which played together in 26 tests and had a respectable success value of 69.2%. The more recent foursome of Ponting, Katich, Clarke and Hussey has played in 17 Tests with a success rate of 70%. This number is likely to increase further. A four-some sub-set of the first group has played in 15 Tests with a higher success rate of 73.3%.

The most successful group with significant number of matches is the powerful one consisting of Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Mike Waugh, Martyn, Steve Waugh and Gilchrist which played in 13 tests and won 9 leading to a success % of 80+.

Like the bowlers, here also there is a group which achieved a 100% success rate in 6 Test matches. this group consists of Slater, Langer, Ponting, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh and Gilchrist. Couple of other groups have achieved 100% in the 5 Tests they played together.

Finally we stand in admiration, awe and wonder at the team of great players who dominated the world scene for over 22 years. No current team can ever hope to match this record. India does not have the bowlers and their batting is going to get decimated soon. South Africa lacks the spin strength, unless otherwise Imran Tahir just blazes through, to do well everywhere. Australia themselves have to find quality replacements soon. They are also unable to finish off won matches nowadays. Sri Lanka are going through a transitory phase and the future does not look that great, for most of the teams. There is going to be periodic domination by teams for periods of 2/3 years. That is all.

The Test-player matrix could not be drawn in a graphical mode in view of the huge number of players. The graph would have become very unwieldy and impossible to view. Hence I have created a viewable text file for the readers.

To view/down-load the file containing the matrix between all 24 players and the 236 Tests, to indicate which player played in which test, please click/right-click here. You could export this into an Excel sheet or view as a text file.

To view/down-load the file containing the matrix between 9 bowlers and the 236 Tests, to indicate which player played in which test, please click/right-click here. You could export this into an Excel sheet or view as a text file.

To view/down-load the file containing the matrix between 15 batsmen and the 236 Tests, to indicate which player played in which test, please click/right-click here. You could export this into an Excel sheet or view as a text file.

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

  • ObelixtheRoman Basher on May 21, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    Ananth, Australia's Golden era was 1995 - 2007 . Look at the rise of Glenn McGrath, his career mirrors their success. He came of age in the Caribbean in 1995: 1995 beat WI,strong Pak, SL, Taylor achieves what Border never did 1996 McGrath took on Lara and dominated, World Cup Finals for Aus since 1987 1997 The Ashes McGrath 8-38 changed the series, Waugh epic at Manchester #1 rated on Coopers and Lybrand 1998 McGrath was a bit off, Warne dominated SA, Waugh struggles a bit, looks to build on what Taylor left 1999 WI Caribbean, McGrath and Dizzy WI 51 all out, Lara earns draw 2000-2005 loads of victories 16 test streak the 2001 Ashes thumping, Waughs go, rise of Hayden, Langer and Ponting probably the most statistically dominant threesome in Aus history. Martyn reprise 2005 Ashes McGrath out injured Aus lose, Warne 40 wickets, no Waugh to bail them out 2006 build up to finale with Eng 2007 Eng whitewashed, McGrath, Warne, Martyn & Langer retire 2008 Aus look at life without the great

  • Narinder on May 12, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    I dont think its entirely correct to say that Indian crowds dont like or dont want test cricket. The problem is that they have been given an overdose of cricket. I means whats the fun of having such a long and neverending IPL? sometimes i feel i have grown older by 3-4 years during the IPL 2011 alone. I would say TESTs is the real cricket.ODIs are a great shorter version which entertains as well as lets the cricketers show their skills otherise you wouldnt have found a Sachin, Ponting, Akram on the top in that version if it was not about skill. T20 is where you dont really have to have skill. I really wonder if I will be following cricket after Sachin, Ponting and Dravid go. T20 is killing cricket. There should not be more than 15 T20 games in an year.

  • elvis on May 10, 2011, 10:16 GMT

    Gerry-"It cannot be that Prasanna / Gibbs / et al did not wrack their brains for several years on how to spin the ball the other way"

    Shri-"My hypothesis : Everyone knew about the "Doosra" all along. But chose not to bowl it since they thought it wasn't a legit delivery!"

    The Doosra was always there in street cricket especially in Short Cricket played with rubber or tennis ball. The moral standards of cricket (and society) were much higher/more stringent (prudish, some may say) that a bowler would be permanently banned and his bowling career finished once for all at the first and slightest hint of suspect action. There were no second chances and that was it. It was this fear that made greats like Laker, Gibbs, Prasanna etc. eschew the wrist spun off-spinner in regular class leather ball cricket. Bowling actions and run ups were extremely variagated (but absolutely legal) from the advent of cricket till recently when modern coaching has emphasised economy of action over all else.

  • Abhi on May 5, 2011, 2:20 GMT

    Narinder, Though I'm all for good ODI cricket- 20/20 is a different ball game alltogether. Too much of "coin-flip" stuff. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. As rgds.Roberts ,Holding etc and how they would fare in limited over cricket...Simple. Take a look at the best ODI bowlers and you will find the usual suspects: Akram,Waqar,Mcgrath,Murali,Warne...etc.

  • Narinder on May 3, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    There are not many cricketers..or i would say there is not any cricketer who has exceled in Tests, ODIs and T20s (Even though they are not international level but involve international players alongside some real goo local lads) as brilliantly as SRT has done..Perhaps the only other person I can imgine capable of doing so was Sir Viv. I wonder Ananth if you camopen your pandorabox to come out with something interesting on the possibility of a mythical analysis on some yester years greats in T20. As we have already seen how well Warne is playing and how Lara could not adjust all that well in ICL. I know T20 is not the real cricket but still just an imagination of watching roberts and holdings bowling. [[ No, not really, Narinder. I think T20, as evidenced by the omnipresent IPL, is not Cricket but packaged entertainment. There are moments when pure cricketing skills come through. However these are dwarfed by the 3 hours of artificiality. Pollard should be helping West Indies regain part of their lost glory. Also Gayle. Instead Pollard is fielding wonderfully and bowling and batting intelligently for a club team. And IPL will continue to grow, smothering the T20's International format. So Let us leave Roberts and Holding where they are, in the hearts of true Cricket followers. Ananth: ]]

  • tonyp on May 2, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    My apologies Srikanth. I am a very great fan of mark Waugh's, in fact he is my favourite cricketer of all time. His batting was incredibly attractive, his fielding was awesome, and his bowling was certainly useful. In numerical terms his batting was not up to the standard of brother Steve, but his contribution to the fielding balance of the team was palpable if not necessarily quantifiable. Immediately after his retirement there was a noticeable drop in fielding standards in the Australian team. Chances went begging at second slip which necessitated reinforcing the slips cordon by weakening the cover and mid-wicket regions, reducing the pressure on batsmen. I was curious if this effect were measurable.

    Though Derek Randall may not be in the same league, he took the very first catch I saw on television that simply stunned me, so I remember his fielding contributions very fondly.

    Of course Ananth is ahead of me and has already instituted metrics in place for all this which is great.

  • Robbo on May 1, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Awesome analysis, shows just how great the Aussies were in the period especially in the five year period from 2000 to 2004. Yes other teams were great but they weren't as consistent as Australia. Australia struggled against India since their batsmen struggled against spin in India and India was great at playing the aussie spinners. Apart from India, Australia dominated against other teams during the period.

  • Manik on April 30, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    Great Article. I wonder if Slater should be in the list. Once Hayden arrived on the scene, he faded away. [[ It so happens that Slater has already been included. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 29, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Ananth, you would have seen the comments made by Afridi - even if they win 5-0 against WI, the low ranking of the WI team will limit upsides for Pak in ODI rankings.

    By now (or perhaps since long) you must have reached a stage where one click is all you need to generate your own team rankings. Even otherwise, you had done the batting + bowling team rankings by test (the article in which the 2005 Aussie team emerged the strongest).

    So cant you refine the above tables to determine the true merit of the wins by the OZ teams of different vintages by factoring in test team ratings as per your rating methodology ? [[ I can and do incorporate the Team strengths when analyzing the Team performances. I have not looked at the article but can certainly do a new one weighting the results based on Team strengths. If the first ranked team defeated the second ranked team or vice versa, the relative Team strengths will give a clearer evatuation of the wins rather than 1 vs 2. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 29, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    I also think that players who might appear from runs scored to be relatively ordinary, would benefit if their fielding contributions could somehow be quantified. I'm thinking particularly of Mark Waugh and Derek Randall but there are many others

    In Tests, close-in catching is what matters most. And in the Australian side, practically everyone was very good at it. Not just M.Waugh though he did take more than his fair share of catches. Taylor and Warne were pretty special too.

    Also, didn't quite like the bracketing of M.Waugh with Randall as seemingly "ordinary" cricketers. No comparison there. Waugh played many more tests, scored 3 times as many 100s and averaged about 8 runs higher! Randall couldn't even average 40 in FC cricket! I wonder why it's so very fashionable these days to downplay Junior Waugh.

    Just goes to show how statistically minded we've become. 42 over 120 odd Tests was a very good career in the 90s. Remember, 50 was a holy grail back then.

  • ObelixtheRoman Basher on May 21, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    Ananth, Australia's Golden era was 1995 - 2007 . Look at the rise of Glenn McGrath, his career mirrors their success. He came of age in the Caribbean in 1995: 1995 beat WI,strong Pak, SL, Taylor achieves what Border never did 1996 McGrath took on Lara and dominated, World Cup Finals for Aus since 1987 1997 The Ashes McGrath 8-38 changed the series, Waugh epic at Manchester #1 rated on Coopers and Lybrand 1998 McGrath was a bit off, Warne dominated SA, Waugh struggles a bit, looks to build on what Taylor left 1999 WI Caribbean, McGrath and Dizzy WI 51 all out, Lara earns draw 2000-2005 loads of victories 16 test streak the 2001 Ashes thumping, Waughs go, rise of Hayden, Langer and Ponting probably the most statistically dominant threesome in Aus history. Martyn reprise 2005 Ashes McGrath out injured Aus lose, Warne 40 wickets, no Waugh to bail them out 2006 build up to finale with Eng 2007 Eng whitewashed, McGrath, Warne, Martyn & Langer retire 2008 Aus look at life without the great

  • Narinder on May 12, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    I dont think its entirely correct to say that Indian crowds dont like or dont want test cricket. The problem is that they have been given an overdose of cricket. I means whats the fun of having such a long and neverending IPL? sometimes i feel i have grown older by 3-4 years during the IPL 2011 alone. I would say TESTs is the real cricket.ODIs are a great shorter version which entertains as well as lets the cricketers show their skills otherise you wouldnt have found a Sachin, Ponting, Akram on the top in that version if it was not about skill. T20 is where you dont really have to have skill. I really wonder if I will be following cricket after Sachin, Ponting and Dravid go. T20 is killing cricket. There should not be more than 15 T20 games in an year.

  • elvis on May 10, 2011, 10:16 GMT

    Gerry-"It cannot be that Prasanna / Gibbs / et al did not wrack their brains for several years on how to spin the ball the other way"

    Shri-"My hypothesis : Everyone knew about the "Doosra" all along. But chose not to bowl it since they thought it wasn't a legit delivery!"

    The Doosra was always there in street cricket especially in Short Cricket played with rubber or tennis ball. The moral standards of cricket (and society) were much higher/more stringent (prudish, some may say) that a bowler would be permanently banned and his bowling career finished once for all at the first and slightest hint of suspect action. There were no second chances and that was it. It was this fear that made greats like Laker, Gibbs, Prasanna etc. eschew the wrist spun off-spinner in regular class leather ball cricket. Bowling actions and run ups were extremely variagated (but absolutely legal) from the advent of cricket till recently when modern coaching has emphasised economy of action over all else.

  • Abhi on May 5, 2011, 2:20 GMT

    Narinder, Though I'm all for good ODI cricket- 20/20 is a different ball game alltogether. Too much of "coin-flip" stuff. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. As rgds.Roberts ,Holding etc and how they would fare in limited over cricket...Simple. Take a look at the best ODI bowlers and you will find the usual suspects: Akram,Waqar,Mcgrath,Murali,Warne...etc.

  • Narinder on May 3, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    There are not many cricketers..or i would say there is not any cricketer who has exceled in Tests, ODIs and T20s (Even though they are not international level but involve international players alongside some real goo local lads) as brilliantly as SRT has done..Perhaps the only other person I can imgine capable of doing so was Sir Viv. I wonder Ananth if you camopen your pandorabox to come out with something interesting on the possibility of a mythical analysis on some yester years greats in T20. As we have already seen how well Warne is playing and how Lara could not adjust all that well in ICL. I know T20 is not the real cricket but still just an imagination of watching roberts and holdings bowling. [[ No, not really, Narinder. I think T20, as evidenced by the omnipresent IPL, is not Cricket but packaged entertainment. There are moments when pure cricketing skills come through. However these are dwarfed by the 3 hours of artificiality. Pollard should be helping West Indies regain part of their lost glory. Also Gayle. Instead Pollard is fielding wonderfully and bowling and batting intelligently for a club team. And IPL will continue to grow, smothering the T20's International format. So Let us leave Roberts and Holding where they are, in the hearts of true Cricket followers. Ananth: ]]

  • tonyp on May 2, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    My apologies Srikanth. I am a very great fan of mark Waugh's, in fact he is my favourite cricketer of all time. His batting was incredibly attractive, his fielding was awesome, and his bowling was certainly useful. In numerical terms his batting was not up to the standard of brother Steve, but his contribution to the fielding balance of the team was palpable if not necessarily quantifiable. Immediately after his retirement there was a noticeable drop in fielding standards in the Australian team. Chances went begging at second slip which necessitated reinforcing the slips cordon by weakening the cover and mid-wicket regions, reducing the pressure on batsmen. I was curious if this effect were measurable.

    Though Derek Randall may not be in the same league, he took the very first catch I saw on television that simply stunned me, so I remember his fielding contributions very fondly.

    Of course Ananth is ahead of me and has already instituted metrics in place for all this which is great.

  • Robbo on May 1, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Awesome analysis, shows just how great the Aussies were in the period especially in the five year period from 2000 to 2004. Yes other teams were great but they weren't as consistent as Australia. Australia struggled against India since their batsmen struggled against spin in India and India was great at playing the aussie spinners. Apart from India, Australia dominated against other teams during the period.

  • Manik on April 30, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    Great Article. I wonder if Slater should be in the list. Once Hayden arrived on the scene, he faded away. [[ It so happens that Slater has already been included. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 29, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Ananth, you would have seen the comments made by Afridi - even if they win 5-0 against WI, the low ranking of the WI team will limit upsides for Pak in ODI rankings.

    By now (or perhaps since long) you must have reached a stage where one click is all you need to generate your own team rankings. Even otherwise, you had done the batting + bowling team rankings by test (the article in which the 2005 Aussie team emerged the strongest).

    So cant you refine the above tables to determine the true merit of the wins by the OZ teams of different vintages by factoring in test team ratings as per your rating methodology ? [[ I can and do incorporate the Team strengths when analyzing the Team performances. I have not looked at the article but can certainly do a new one weighting the results based on Team strengths. If the first ranked team defeated the second ranked team or vice versa, the relative Team strengths will give a clearer evatuation of the wins rather than 1 vs 2. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 29, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    I also think that players who might appear from runs scored to be relatively ordinary, would benefit if their fielding contributions could somehow be quantified. I'm thinking particularly of Mark Waugh and Derek Randall but there are many others

    In Tests, close-in catching is what matters most. And in the Australian side, practically everyone was very good at it. Not just M.Waugh though he did take more than his fair share of catches. Taylor and Warne were pretty special too.

    Also, didn't quite like the bracketing of M.Waugh with Randall as seemingly "ordinary" cricketers. No comparison there. Waugh played many more tests, scored 3 times as many 100s and averaged about 8 runs higher! Randall couldn't even average 40 in FC cricket! I wonder why it's so very fashionable these days to downplay Junior Waugh.

    Just goes to show how statistically minded we've become. 42 over 120 odd Tests was a very good career in the 90s. Remember, 50 was a holy grail back then.

  • shrikanthk on April 29, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    You should perhaps join the media

    We are all in the media thanks to blogs like these! Albeit not a very popular mass medium!

    Re draw % going up : Look. We both agree "Draws" aren't dull if they're well contested. The problem with Test cricket today is that there are too many teams around whose bowling attacks aren't upto "Test standard"! Whenever you find two good bowling sides up against each other, you get great rubbers. Eg: Aus vs Eng - 05, Aus vs SL - 04, Aus vs SA '97-98.

    Like everything that is truly worth preserving in our culture, "good" Test cricket is hard to realize on the field and also hard to appreciate. It isn't "meant" to be played by too many teams, but only by the very best.

    This may sound elitist and snobbish! But a dose of elitism will do us all good. In an ideal world, only 6 teams (though I'd argue 5) would play Tests (easy to guess who). That will truly herald cricket's second "Golden Age".

  • tonyp on April 29, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Ananth,

    I realise that there are immense difficulties analysing the impact of fielders from raw statistics, not everything can be represented. But thank you for entertaining the question. High quality fielding can have an enormous impact on the game and I think is fantastic to watch. I also think that players who might appear from runs scored to be relatively ordinary, would benefit if their fielding contributions could somehow be quantified. I'm thinking particularly of Mark Waugh and Derek Randall but there are many others. These critical moments are now recorded for posterity but it's sad that so many of them can only truly be appreciated by those who were there. [[ Tony Even today when all fielding data is recorded in terms of runs saved/conceded, this information does not get made public. It stays in the data vaults, out of sight. Afew years back I developed a set of programs for online recording of matches for Wisden. I streamlined the collextion of fielding data into a simple one-two-clicks method and we gathered lot of data. But these are not there for public to see. In the WC Final, very few people would appreciate that India saved about 20 runs during the first 20 overs and this was a major reason for Tharanga losing his patience and Sri Lanka being restricted to a score just above par. Ananth: ]]

  • AD on April 29, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    Further looking up gives us : Alderman : 84 @ 22 , SR 52 (Mcgrath like figures) Fleming : 75 @ 26 , SR 55 Bollinger : 50 @ 26 , SR 48 Etc (perhaps Bollinger is after your Aus. Period of dominance) but just giving some examples. All better figures than Reiffel. What I am trying to say that in the current (above) analysis your selection with a cut off of 100 wickets may apply. However , when taking into account how batsmen have fared against Australian bowlers this cut off becomes less relevant. The idea is to see how batsmen have fared against the quality bowlers of Aus. If, for eg. Bollinger has bowled much better for his 50 wickets than Reiffel ever has then he should be included in the batsman analysis (but may be left in this one, partly on the basis of longevity)

  • AD on April 29, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    Slightly baffling seeing Reiffel included and the likes of Kasprowicz and Clark not . Reiffel: 104 wkts @ 27 , SR 62 Clark : 94 @ 24 , SR 55 Kasprowicz : 113 @ 33 , SR 63 All 3 were essentially the line/length bowlers which even great teams often need on the flatter wickets. I appreciate that the cut-off is 100 wickets. But picking Reiffel over Clark due to a matter of 6 wickets below an arbitrary cut off is arguably eliminating the better bowler. Clark played just 48 matches compared to Reiffels 67. Kasprowicz also played many more matches than Reiffel in India with Tendulkar and co. in the mood which would have also affected his figures. [[ AD, In my follow-up article on the batsmen who did well against these bowlers, I have seriously looked at including Clark for Reiffel. Also Alderman. The cut-off of 100 wkts is not sacrosanct for this particular analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 29, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Alex, the 07-08 attack was good quality stuff. I would however never rate it on par with a McGrath+Warne+Gillespie attack. I always sensed that the moment these three come on, opposition batsmen seemed to lose confidence a bit. They were the principal instruments of the famous mental disintegration doctrine plus had a tremendous aura about them. A bit like Botham and the Aussies - even on crutches he was good enough to win the Brisbane and MCG tests in 1986-87.

    The furious intensity with which the Aussies fought (e.g.Barbados and the Chennai tests) was lacking in the 07-08 attacks. Even Kumble and Harbhajan regularly made runs. The major problem was in maintaining the intensity through a long innings and strangling the batsmen. Also, except for Lee, the others (especially Johnson) did bowl loosely too many times (Duminy made them pay).

    Thommo seemed to suddenly drop in pace after 1980. But till then, even after his comeback, especially along with Lillee, he was very good (<50 SR).

  • Abhi on April 29, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    And Srikanthk, I couldn't resist- You should perhaps join the media. You've got this knack of picking out particular phrases or sentences at the exclusion of all else or the context in which it was made! [[ Poor Shrikanth. I think he would not last a month in today's media circus. He would not be able to hype out every inconsequential story re IPL as if it is the greatest thing to have happened. He would have to talk cricket with Mandira and intelligently about the WAGs on the ground. And churn out identical pitch reports day after day. And proclaim a four as "the shot of the tournament", actual statement by our bowler-friend who lasted 133 balls in his last innings. No I don't think he would last a week. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on April 29, 2011, 2:17 GMT

    Srikanthk, Ananth: As a parting shot on the subject .I took a look at the overall figures for the standard Test nations from 1877 to date. And then from 1990 to date (where you would expect the "Aussie effect" to have maximal impact)

    Makes for interesting reading. Aus; overall W/L ratio -1.77 vs 1.41 (post 1990)

    overall draw ratio -26.7 vs 29.8 (post 1990)

    overall avg. 34.1 vs 32 (post 1990) etc.

    Another fascinating aspect is that the overall draw ratio seems to have gone UP post 1990 for most teams! -35.4 vs. 39.1 (post 1990). This perhaps indicates a narrowing down between Team quality more than anything else as opposed to the lesser teams getting routinely hammered.

    Although we fully agree that several draws are not "boring" that still leaves a considerable % of "yawn" Test matches. As Gerry mentioned , one of the Main reasons ODIs are getting humdrum are the sheer number and preponderance of them. But, with Tests even the relatively few of them still lead to some 40% draws. Out of these several may well be good , hard fought Tests ,but the vast majority are not going to excite too many people- including the hard nosed old timers.

  • shrikanthk on April 29, 2011, 2:04 GMT

    The best way to do that is to first neutralise the disparity within the team in terms of career averages, so that batsmen in weak teams don't get an advantage.

    Eg : Suppose you want to evaluate Lara in a series. Step1 : Examine his batting average. Call it A Step2 : Examine the batting averages of his peers in the same series. Call it B. Step3 : Before comparing A with B, adjust B to account for the disparity between the career averages of Lara and his teammates. Let's call this adjusted peer average B1. Step4 : Calculate the ratio - A/B1. That will be a true objective measure of a batsman's performance in a series. It is indirectly factoring in both the quality of the attacks and the challenges posed by the conditions. [[ I am afraid I have to disappoint you guys. I am not going to get into any of this type of complication. It is what the batsman scored when at least two of the selected bowlers played. That is all. Anything else is gilding the lily and would serve for academic discussions only. Anyhow what is a Series. The number of tests in a series has ranged from 1 to 6. There is a separate Series analysis I have planned, but not in this context. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 29, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    If the bowler was mediocre otherwise but unplayable in the series of interest, we should not downgrade him in this analysis. E.g., Thommo vs WI in '75-'76, Larwood vs Aus in '32, etc.

    Alex: Good point. Though I don't approve of the word "mediocre" to describe either of them. Especially Larwood. A great bowler who was nullified by the perfect pitches of his time and the old LBW law.

    That brings me to another favourite talking point. "Conditions". You can work as hard as you like to factor in "bowling quality". But what matters most are the conditions. The greatest of bowlers can be nullified on a dead pitch. The most miserable of trundlers can become a force with the right conditions!

    Which is why the best mode of analysis is to consider how a batsman fared vis-a-vis his peers in a certain series (something Ananth has done in the past). That way you factor in both the opposition and conditions.

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    Okay. Hopefully my last comment on this Test vs ODI thing.

    There is only one scenario where ODIs may be preferable to Tests. i.e when you have two teams with very weak bowling attacks playing each other on a flat deck. (Say SL w/o Murali and Malinga vs NZ at the Premadasa). I'd rather choose to curtail my agony as a spectator by watching an ODI than a Test between two such teams!

    This tells you something about ODIs. As a format, it becomes most attractive only when the teams involved aren't good enough to take 40 wickets between them in a Test! So, effectively it serves as a crutch to prop up the weak. [[ Let us close this "timeless" test by saying that all of us have to catch tomorrow's ship back home !!! Ananth: ]]

  • sameer on April 28, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    i am confused about the % that you have shown in the first chart australia played 60 test won 39 drew 11 & lost 10. so therir winning % comes to 65%. how did u arrive at the figure of 74.5 %? [[ The maximum Australia could have got is 120 points (based on 2 pts for a win and 1 for a draw). What they secured are 89 pts (78+11). That works to 74.16. There was a minor rounding-off problem. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    This “boring” nature of Test cricket has changed considerably over the years.

    Cricket, like any other art form, has its ups and downs. I don't think it was ever boring. Though in certain eras, draws might have been more frequent than in certain other eras. Having said that, conditions and rules play a major part.

    In an ideal world, I would revert to the Test cricket environment of Australia in the 30s. Timeless tests on uncovered pitches. It's not as impractical as it sounds. Natural wear and tear will ensure that tests produce results within 6-7 days. And trust me, a timeless test can never be boring, as a result is always in the offing and there is no incentive for defensive play!

    By and large, Tests have been alive and well during my life. I've been following cricket down-under closely for the past 15 years. Never have I seen empty grounds on Televisions with the odd exception. And never was the cricket boring, despite this being an age of utter Aussie dominance.

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    you will normally find more crowds for limited over games with the exception of a few venues.

    India doesn't quite have a very robust culture of watching live sports. It isn't really fashionable for a family of three to go out and watch a Test match on a Saturday, no matter how interesting it is. People would rather stay back and watch at home! What I do know is that Test cricket across the world is keenly followed in India by genuine cricket fans like you and I. And the number of fans is not insignificantly small.

    Test cricket must be the only sport where a “draw” can reasonably be predicted after even 3 days

    That doesn't happen too often. And it generally happens in the subcontinent where conditions are terribly skewed in favour of the bat.

    But then cricket isn't all about team results, anyway. It's about an artist (with a bat or ball in hand) expressing himself on the field. Test cricket gives the fullest scope for those expressions, unlike other formats!

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    The Crowds, especially in India, seem to have given the thumbs down to Test cricket primarily for this reason. You will normally find more crowds for limited over games with the exception of a few venues

    Do "crowds" per se lend legitimacy to a certain form of entertainment? The "crowds" gave a thumbs down to a certain Citizen Kane when it was released! A film that is today regarded as perhaps the finest product of 40s Hollywood.

    We are discussing serious art here. Not "popularity". Heck. Even Hitler was popular for a while!

    and the interminably long protracted draws ,draws and more draws

    This is only a feature of Tests in the subcontinent. Mainly because of the really flat pitches in this part of the world. Elsewhere, Test cricket remains a riveting spectacle. Also, "Draws" don't necessarily have to be bores. Some of the draws in the 2005 and 2009 Ashes series were truly great games of cricket.

  • Abhi on April 28, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    Srikanthk As seems to have become the norm now it is a matter of going round and round in circles mentioning the exact same points in slightly different language. A while back (or even now?) Tests were deemed to have been dying (as ODIs were thought to be of late). Again credit to the Aussies for bringing the “edge” to Tests. The major crib about Tests were the routine, watching paint dry type of Tests …and the interminably long protracted draws ,draws and more draws (as predictable but infinitely more boring than ODIs and often the result was known well before the actual termination of the match). Test cricket must be the only sport where a “draw” can reasonably be predicted after even 3 days with 2 days of a match remaining to be played.( “glorious uncertainties” notwithstanding)- Imagine the fun the audience go through watching the “paint dry” over the last 2 days. The Test matches you refer to are purely the relatively few better ones- and there, obviously, there can be little argument as they are great entertainment. This “boring” nature of Test cricket has changed considerably over the years. The Crowds, especially in India, seem to have given the thumbs down to Test cricket primarily for this reason. You will normally find more crowds for limited over games with the exception of a few venues.

    Gerry- Regarding the large number of ODIs. I think you have nailed the Main point as regards the “hum drumming” of ODIs- There are simply too many of them. As regards the two best batting series against Aus when looking at attacks comprising Warne/Mcgrath/Gillespie there can be little argument that you have picked the right troika- lara,VVS and Vaughn. The 98 series vs. Lara was the highest point of Lara’s career (the others – WRs and SL series notwithstanding). His greatest innings as well as Laxmans were in those series. If anything Vaughn’s 03 series was perhaps even better (though less spectacular) because he had to maintain standards over 5 Tests and crucially “away” making it all the more credible. But Vaughn’s exploits are generally forgotten in the light of Lara’s/VVSs.

  • Ramesh Kumar on April 28, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    Downplaying ODIs have taken a bit unfair turn in these comments. 1. Once the players don National colours, they take all matches seriously. Meaningless matches for spectators probably but not for players. While there could be some meaningless matches, terming all bilateral/tri series as meaningless would be a real sweeping statement 2. When you are talking about batting greats, in modern day cricket, one has to look at their ODI style. The ODIs throw many different challenges-Need to score quickly, spread out field to cut runs, playing against much better fielding skills, need to have more range of scoring shots, need to maximise runs in fixed set of overs etc. May be players of pre 80s can be excused as ODI had not taken the shape as it is now. No excuses now-Need to have Good strike rates and good averages. If you take the modern test greats, if they fall short on ODI stats, then they will have to placed one rung lower for the right reasons-test romanticism notwithstanding

  • Sameer on April 28, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    Ananth,

    Thank you for this piece, a very entertaining read indeed!

    A suggestion for another article, if I may - Can you conduct a similar analysis (as the batsman group analysis above) for Test and ODI batting line-ups across all teams? I have often argued that the Indian line-up of Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni is the best Test batting order ever. It would be fun to see if this claim can stand the test of detailed statistical analysis.

    Sameer [[ Sameer, you seem to have missed the recent article of mine covering the very topic you have raised. Please go back to the archives. the article was published couple of months back. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 28, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    @Gerry:

    1. I think you are right on Ponting vs SA (& on Lara). Something about them brought out the best in him.

    2. We should look at the quality of bowling in a series while judging the series performance of a batsman. If the bowler was mediocre otherwise but unplayable in the series of interest, we should not downgrade him in this analysis. E.g., Thommo vs WI in '75-'76, Larwood vs Aus in '32, etc.

    3. To continue item 2 on the Lee-Johnson combo in '07-'08 vs Ind. Lee, back then, was absolutely brilliant ... for a brief period of 2 years during 2006-08, he had fulfilled his true potential. Aussie attack was excellent: Clark has career average < 27 and averaged 24 in that series, Symonds averaged @28 and Johnson was on the rise (ave=33). To top it all, those Aussies had an aura. That series and the 4 centuries in 5 tests vs SA in 2010 is something SRT can always be proud of. This 4 in 5 rivals Lara's 3 in 4 in his magical series vs Aus circa '99.

  • tonyp on April 28, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    My previous post assumes that the dominant fielding contributions are made by batsmen which is only true in the first approximation (in my opinion James Anderson is the best fielder in the English team). So it's not just a case of comparing batting lineups - but in the general case I'm afraid the problem becomes even more intractable.

  • tonyp on April 28, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    Ananth,

    Thank you for another very interesting article. My only question is actually very general and probably not prone to statistical analysis but I'll ask anyway.

    One of the features of the Australian teams of the past twenty years was the fielding, which was also a hallmark of the epoch-making WI team. Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh (most especially early in his career) were all very capable of turning half-chances into wickets.

    This is often expressed by fans in terms of a player's "worth in the field" (usually expressed in runs). Statistically you can represent this simplistically in terms of catches taken and run outs per inning, but there is also the indirect contribution of constrictive fielding putting batsmen under greater pressure. Good fielding can result in a batsmen being bowled attempting a lavish shot.

    So the question: is there in fact any correlation between particular batting lineups (of a given fielding strength) and opposition batting averages? [[ Tony Fielding is very much a grey area so far as data is concerned. All teams take catches, all teams effect Run outs. It is difficult to get anything done based on scorecards. And I don't have access to ball-by-ball data, even whatever is available. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 28, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    Abhi, Shrikanthk, dont forget that test matches are almost uniformly important, except if a team has already won the rubber before the last test. Whereas, in One Days, in today's context, only the World Cup semi final and final are important matches. In the next world cup, since only 4 out of 10 teams will quality, and all will play all, those matches will all be critical. Otherwise, one dayers are too frequent to have any meaning, and these days, apart from the World Cup, there are no major tournaments.

    If one goes back 20 years, there used to be too many matches in the triangular tournament in Australia. Similarly one days tournament India involving Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe or both together. All these were meaningless except for the finals. Only tournaments like Champions Trophy, Nehru Cup'89, Hero Cup'93, Australiasia Cup '85, World Championhip '85, and other such one-off tournements had any charm.

    So cant really compute averages without excluding irrelevant matches, which is tough

  • Alex on April 28, 2011, 6:20 GMT

    @Gerry: SRT's shoulder-before-wicket was a correct, albeit a tragic, decision, and SRT of '99 in Aus was truly not on the level of Lara of '99 or VVS of '01. I often feel the '98 injury was a major blow to his shot arsenal: two money shots were gone for good just like that. I think he was near his peak in the '07-'08 series vs Aus and '10 series vs SA --- these were outstanding teams and outstanding bowling attacks.

    As you point out, we often lose track of players like Anwar in such discussions. So, Ananth's promised article (batsmen vs real WI and real Aus) would be very welcome!

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 28, 2011, 5:49 GMT

    Ananth: looks like the second part of my comment did not reach you. Posting again...

    Lara's batting was the most thrilling batting seen in many years. When Lara ran recklessly for his 100th run during his 213 in Jamaica, and the 3rd umpire ran the replays, the suspense was devastating, and a few people must have got heart attacks.

    Tendulkar's two centuries in OZ in 07-08 and his 146 in Cape Town were his best centuries, in my opinion. However the Lee-Johnson attack does not rate very highly in the tables above, and shortly after our series, dropped a test unable to defend 414 in Perth against SAF. If we do lower the bar for bowling quality a bit, then the stand out performance in teh last 10 year is Pontings 5 centuries in 6 tests against SAF. I remember watching in amazement as he singlehandedly crushed SAF, something which our batsmen had been unable to do against teh same attack.

    The other great performance was Strauss in 2005, also against SAF, and he exerted sustained pressure.

  • Abhi on April 28, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    Gerry Being a fanatical Tendulkar supporter I would say that only in Australia around the '90s would that "SBW" be given out. It wasn't a slower ball by Mcgrath.It was a short ball.

    Infact here is an excerpt from a Mcgrath writeup on Tendulkar's 100th Test (http://www.rediff.com/cricket/2002/sep/04inter3.htm)

    " As I have mentioned earlier, Tendulkar and I have had many interesting encounters. Of these, I rate his dismissal at Adelaide as the most controversial one so far. It may be recalled that Tendulkar, anticipating a bouncer, had ducked into a ball that kept low, and was hit on the shoulder. Umpire Daryll Harper had no hesitation in giving the batsman out, lbw. I did feel for Tendulkar because I had meant to bowl a bouncer, but the ball had pitched on an odd spot and kept really low.

    Since Tendulkar is not the tallest guy around and because he was not offering a stroke, he was out in my opinion. Had he been standing up, the ball would have crashed into his pads and there would have been no controversy. But the world's greatest batsman had been hit on the shoulder and commentators and journalists debated on the decision for the rest of the tour. The incident became infamous as the shoulder-before-wicket dismissal, but Tendulkar never made a fuss about it and went on to score a century in the next Test.

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 4:48 GMT

    The romance with Tests has to do more with the history of the game wherein Test matches or multi day matches were the norm for years

    Atleast I can speak for myself. In my case, my preference for Tests has nothing to do with "romance" or "tradition" or "history". It's borne out of unsentimental analysis which suggests that Test matches offer us a greater variety of skills, greater challenges, greater variability in conditions....greater everything.

    The only plus in the case of ODIs is - a greater frequency of nail-biting finishes! And yes, it has admittedly improved ground fielding standards.

    If sport is all about biting one's nails, then we might as well do away with 20-20 and have 10-10 and 5-5 games.

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 4:42 GMT

    If scoring in Tests were so much more difficult then why should the Test averages of the better batsmen inevitably be higher than their ODI averages?

    It's not about scoring being "more difficult" in that it can be quantified by looking at averages. It's about the risk associated with the scoring as well.

    Test match format is fundamentally an aggressive high risk-high return game (be it for batsmen or bowlers).

    Limited overs format is fundamentally a low risk-low return game. This should be obvious to all cricket lovers.

    No wonder Tests are a lot more successful in discriminating cricketing skill! The steeper the risk-return tradeoff, the strong the contrast between the best and the rest.

    ODIs are not a very successful discriminator in this regard. As a result, you find the likes of Dhoni averaging more than Sachin and Agarkar having an SR better than that of Warne.

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    why use faulty analogies such as a fully inform Cook against a clearly not in form Bopara

    It's got nothing to do with form. I am just considering a hypothetical scenario where both of them get equal no of opportunities to prove themselves in ODIs. No reason for me to believe that Cook will perform worse.

    But people forget that truly great Tests are the exception rather than the norm.

    Just because the finishes are not "nail biting" doesn't mean that the game is "mundane"! I'd say a lot of Test series in recent years have been quite fascinating, in terms of the quality of cricket played. Be it the Ind-SA tests in late 2010 or the Ashes tests around the same period.

    Even after 130 odd years, it remains very difficult to stereotype a Test match! An ODI lends itself to stereotyping since it follows a very definite pattern. (a quick opening partnership - couple of wickets - milking medium pacers in the middle overs - slogging at the end). The pattern repeats itself.

  • Abhi on April 28, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    Srikanthk: After browsing through your comments –all three or four of them- I come to the conclusion that you are in a way confirming what I have to say. The best will be the best almost irrespective of the format- that is because their skills allow them to adapt. By contrast a Test or ODI “specialist” may not be able to adapt to the other format. Also why use faulty analogies such as a fully inform Cook against a clearly not in form Bopara?

    If scoring in Tests were so much more difficult then why should the Test averages of the better batsmen inevitably be higher than their ODI averages? Essentially, because in ODIs “quick” runs are often at a premium to simply runs or time at crease. This is clearly a different skill. Even great batsmen like the Dravids and Kallises have a noticeably lower Strike Rate in ODIs.

    The romance with Tests has to do more with the history of the game wherein Test matches or multi day matches were the norm for years. Also, a truly great Test will trump a truly great ODI due to the longer and more drawn out “tension” factor. But people forget that truly great Tests are the exception rather than the norm. A good ODI will trump any number of the routine mundane and common Tests we see. As of course vice versa.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 28, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Alex, Tendulkar did indeed bat very well in 1999-2000. 2/3 decisions seemed dicey, but the one where he ducks to a slower ball, and is adjudged LBW hit on the shoulder was (in my opinion) clearly out and only fanatical Tendulkar supporters would fail to see that. Against (almost) the same attack, Saeed Anwar batted very well too.

    To rate Tendulkar's performance in the same league as Laxman / Lara would be stretching things a long way. Laxman's batting changed the course of Indian cricket, especially since we were subjected to public flogging by Hayden and Gilchrist in just the previous match, and it would have been the 16th consecutive victory, and the size and scale of his batting.

    Lara's batting has to be seen in the context surrounding that game - coaxing Ambrose and Walsh to not retire, sinking to 5-0 against SAF, 51 all out in the first test, and the final nails in the coffin of a great tradition, and all this as captain.

    There is also the matter of the quality of batting...

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    The margin for error is very small in Tests, be it with the bat or with the ball.

    A medium paced trundler cannot just bowl tight lines and lengths and get away with 0 for 40 in Test matches since the field is up and even his good deliveries will hit the pickets!

    Similarly, a Test batsmen cannot get away with nudges to third man and fine leg, since you'll have slips in place, which will play on the batsman's mind each time he swishes his bat outside off-stump. Risk-return trade-offs are altogether different in Tests!

    We all love a sharp risk-return tradeoff, be it in sport or life! That's what Test matches have to offer. ODIs are the opposite. They epitomise a flat risk-return curve. A slash outside the offstump in all likelihood will neither fetch you a boundary nor get you out. It will invariably fetch you a single down to third man or deep cover. In Tests, a similar stroke thrills us to no end. Since it will most likely either get you out or fetch you a boundary!

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 3:00 GMT

    Even Bevan will agree that, for all his feats, he was a product of Aus' policy of having different Test and ODI teams.

    Batsmen like Martyn, Hayden didn't play too many ODIs in the 90s as they were out of favour with selectors. Suppose they had made it through to the ODI side in say '94 and entrenched themselves, we might never have heard of Bevan!

    ODIS require a slightly different skill set

    Ofcourse they do. But those "skills" are easier to master than the skills required to do well in Tests. Take an ODI specialist like Chris Harris (who used to bowl 10 overs regularly in ODIs). No amount of hard work can make him average fewer than 35 in Tests with the ball. He simply doesn't have it in him at that level.

    Consider B.Lee as another example. Lee is one of the all-time greats in ODIs! Nevertheless, his lack of endurance/inability to keep batsmen quiet with attacking fields gets exposed in Tests. No wonder he is a good but not a great Test player.

  • shrikanthk on April 28, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    if Tests required a larger or superior skill set , then at the very least all great players should have been Masters at ODIs

    Many of them adapt wonderfully! Even in a format as short as the T20 (IPL), we see an ageing Tendulkar and Warne shining. A giant from the First-class scene like S.Badrinath is outperforming several famed T20 specialists in the same competition.

    Even a quintessential "Test" batsman like Dravid has close to 11K ODI runs at an avg of 40 and a SR not too different from that of Bevan.

    The so-called "Test" specialists who aren't "masters" in ODIs are invariably people who haven't had enough opportunities in ODIs! Do you seriously think an Alistair Cook will perform much worse than a Ravi Bopara in odi's? It's not Cook's fault that he wasn't in the WC squad despite being in great nick.

  • Abhi on April 28, 2011, 1:45 GMT

    Anand, srikanthk, etc.

    I think it has for long been the fashion to knock ODIs as compared to the seemingly beyond compare Tests. This old fashion has also always had takers among the younger bourgeois who like to think of themselves as intellectuals. The top Test batsmen face approx. 100 balls/inn. in Test on average(on the liberal side -very ball park figure). That is around 16 overs. So, if they chose (whatever their style) the ODI format will often give them ample scope. ( 20/20 is another ball game altogether).

    The undoubted fact is that ODIS require a slightly different skill set as compared to Tests. This is incorrectly taken to assume that Tests require a “superior” skill set. The error of this assumption is evident from the fact that not all great or borderline great Test batsmen make great ODI batsmen.

    Surely if Tests required a larger or superior skill set , then at the very least all great players should have been Masters at ODIs ? But in reality we have Test greats and we have ODI greats- and as usual we have the very few who are Both. And it is this intersection of players which, as expected, yields the very crème de la crème of batsmen.

  • Kunal on April 27, 2011, 19:39 GMT

    The article began with The Australians, but ends with a gavaskar-tendulkar-lara-ambrose-akram-imran brawl. Excellent!. [[ As far as the article was concerned it started and ended with the Australians and continues to cover the Australians. The comments might have veered off course. However this blogspace has long since shed its single article mindset. It is a forum for like minded cricket enthusiasts to spar on various matters related to the game. Where else do you a find such a forum. And where else would you find a forum of readers who almost never cross the line. The articles themselves have a much longer shelf-life. I still receive comments on articles three days old. If you take most Cricinfo articles they have a shelf-life of between 1-3 a days during which hundreds of comments, quite a few abusive, would pour in. The ultimate objective is to have fun and learn new things. Where else can you learn about America's Cup, Gavaskar's Jamshedpur exploits, 4-day vs 5-day vs timeless tests related discussions, guys pushing for Bevan in a Test article with a single minded devotion, non-chauvinistic and non-jingoistic discussions on India-Pakistani cricketers, a 29-year old talking like a 60-year old Test fanatic, I can go on. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on April 27, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    That same innings by VVS would have been a match saver (along then lines of Mike Artherton's 185 at Jo'burg in 1995-96) instead of a macth winner. 5 days allow enough see-sawing in a match, the lesser the days, the more one sided a match is likely to be. We can quote enough classis test matches (India-Pak in Chennai in 1999, the Kolkata test, the two tied tests, the match with Lara's magic in Barbados, Eng vs Aus at Trent Bridge in 2005, some drawn test matches too are classics). How many can one come up with in ODIs. Tghere are interesting matches like the 438 chase but the game was completely dominated by the bat. Classics are those which offer even contest between bat and ball. Keeping a match shorter would make the game favorable to one department and mostly it is batting. Timeless tests in my opinion would actually make tests better because playing for a draw is no more an option, but it may take a toll on the players whose schedule is already packed.

  • Anand on April 27, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    It is really shocking to hear Danny Morrison talk about 4 day tests. He was a leading test match bowler for NZ and making statements like that seem baffling.Some pundits talk abuot two innings in ODIs of 20 overs each or something. Test macthes are not special because of the two innings factor alone. It is the ability to play a long innings against quality bowling, fatigue and weather conditions. Just having two innings of slam bang 20 over cricket witll never TEST anyone's abilities (the reason test macthes got their name is because it is a real test of several factors that go into making a good batsman or bowler). Sometimes a restrictive bowler or many times an attacking batsmen can change the game. Test matches are mostly won on momentum. The Laxman Dravid partnership in the famous Kolkata test macth was sure a classic, but the Laxman Ganguly partnership before that one provided the momentum. Those factors can be seen only when the duration is long enough (contd) [[ Danny Morrison is awful, so awful that I have stopped watching most IPL matches because of him. Ananth: ]]

  • Mahendran on April 27, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    The sustained dominance of Australia over world cricket may have been longer than WI. But talent-wise, WI team tower over the Aussies. The reason for Aussies success can be mainly attributed to their professional approach to the game. They treated the team like a Company and the team members worked like workaholic employees striving to place the team at the top. Above all the Australianism, never-say-die attitude, ruthlessness, continual improvement etc. kept pushing them forward. No other team had this approach - even WI at their very best. In fact WI were criticised for their cavalier approach. You won't be able to find out from a WI player's face whether he is winning or losing.

  • Narinder Sharma on April 27, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    Ananth

    This is a good analysis. As for Warne, I think he is the greatest Leggie I have seen in the past 25-26 years. I dont know about more classical or something like that but he was a treat to watch, he was a match winner, he turned the ball like no one did with a genuine action, he was/is a true Aussie at heart and in brain..as tough as they get. I would also like to add about Gilly. No doubt he was the greatest wicket keeper batsman in the last 25-26 years. However I would never compare him with someone like Steve Waugh, Ponting or Sachin above all for consistency.

  • Samik on April 27, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    Very nice analysis Ananth! Was wondering why Geoff Marsh's name does not figure at all in your article or any of the comments. When I started watching cricket seriously after the 87 WC, can remember the Boon-Marsh opening combination was a very potent one till Slater came into the picture and then Boon was coming at number 3. Would be curious to know how much is the contribution of Marsh post-89 or even before that. [[ After the first cut-off Test, # 1121, Marsh scored only 1200 runs at a pedestrian average of 31. That does not seem to be enough for consideration. Even his overall average is only 35.5. Amazingly he averages nearly 40 in ODIs. Ananth: ]]

  • Fred on April 27, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    Great article, Anantha. Plenty to think about.

    You mention the difficulty of getting all the figures in the one window or screen.

    Why not make it in a PDF format and include it in the body of the article as an image so it can be enlarged to full size by clicking on it? This way you'd be able to get tables, figures and graphs in easily and also maintain formatting and the layout. It would also make it easier for readers to print tables and charts out if they so wished.

    Cheers,

    Fred [[ Many thanks, Fred. I have now got from Cricinfo the information on the optimum width, which is 620. Then they do not have to scale it down. If you had seen the previous article they had scaled the graphs down and I had made available the full size graphs for download. PDFs are a good alternative. Ananth: ]]

  • Ali on April 27, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    Gerry_the_Merry You have used slightly a arbitrary grouping to justify your stand. A series is essentially an arbitrary grouping. Also I assume you mean a series comprising 3 Tests. If you use other arbitrary groupings such as any 3 consecutive Tests, any staggered 3 Tests, 2 Tests or even individual Tests you will get many instances where batsmen dominated any “real” attacks of your choice including Wasim/Waqar, Ambrose/Walsh etc.

    It is simply that individual series tend to stick in our memories.

    There is also a very strong reversion to mean. This will apply more strongly to the up and down performers. For most of these batsmen the series on either side of the one in question will reveal a significant deviation.

    Another factor is the tendency for the better batsmen to trend towards their long term career averages the more they play against any particular bowlers. This is because of several reasons such as ability to adjust their games to particular challenges, evening out of oddities, poor decisions etc. An eg. Would be Lara’s relatively poor start in matches involving Mcgrath which then trended toward his long term career average as the number of matches wore on.

  • Alex on April 27, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    @shrikanthk: I always look up SR's in the Cricinfo score-cards but do remember those two SMG sixes ... often, such prodigious feats of memory pale in comparison to what I manage to forget!!

    @Gerry: I think you should include SRT vs Aus '99. He averaged only 47 but was given out incorrectly 3 times and took the MoS award ... that was Aussie attack and dominance at its very best; in fact, it was better than the Aussie attack faced by Lara (given the home conditions). Sehwag also did well in '04 (in Ind). Kallis & KP had a mammoth series each vs Aussies but I forget if the Aussie attack was full strength. Lara had an excellent series vs Aus in '03 but that was a tall-scoring series anyway. IMO, SRT's 493 in 4 tests at ave=71 vs Aus '07-'08 was extraordinary ... Aussies were on a roll, tests were decisive, and Lee-Johnson combo was at its peak.

  • Pallab on April 27, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Ananth: I LOLEed and still chortling at your Shastri’s cliché.hahaha. Worst is and makes me raging mad:”I get the feeling, something’s going to give now"every few overs. To think he was possibly the most astute captain India never got for long. Shri:Some residual last thoughts on ODI influence still to come. Alex:A scalding riposte of a post awaits you(all in good faith of course) and it will be a little about S. Waugh (Aussie enuf for a Aussie era blog post as you wanted). Michael Williams: Being in the US now, well aware of the America’s Cup and the NYYC record. Was never aware about St. George rugby league team’s records but will explain why the primacy of Olympic Gold and sustained excellence in that multi-team competition still reigns supreme (BINGO Ananth! You read quite well) In the midst of something, won’t be able to type long blog posts. Will be back shortly.

  • shrikanthk on April 27, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    I do not think Mr.G would be wasting time on these blogs. He would be more busy with IPL.

    Ananth: Don't underestimate yourself or the commenters on this blog. Mr.G may learn a lot about the game, its history and the numerous ways of analysing it by reading these threads. It's the IPL commentary chore which may be less of a value-add besides the money it brings!

    I often wonder whether commentators and pundits choose to descend from their ivory towers and listen to well-informed fans who may offer fresh perspectives. No wonder you get to hear thoughtless punditry like the 4-day test idea from Morrison! [[ Even though my work demands that I follow and analyze IPL, I have stopped watching IPL matches, if only to avoid having to hear Morrison's shouting "he has dlf'd it". And what happened to the knowledgeable and erudite LS I know. He is now competing with DM.And I will tear off whatever little hair I have if I hear Shastri saying once more "like a tracer bullet". Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 27, 2011, 3:40 GMT

    as we will discover quite some differences if we look at the "real" australians (McGrath + Gillespie + Warne), the "real" south africans (Donald + Pollock) and who performed against them etc.

    When did Javed Miandad face the "real" WI? Ambrose in his debut series was hardly what he because just 6 months later in England. Lamb did make 6 centuries, but averaged 34 (had he been an opener it would have been even lower). Gooch played 30 tests, and averaged 46 against WI, but this is quite a bit upfronted in the 1980 and 80-81 series. Later series he was good but nowhere near great as in dominating.

    What about the current crop of batsmen - I remember only 3 instances of the "real" Australians being dominated - Lara 1999, Laxman 2001 and Vaughan 2003. period. NO ONE ELSE.

    Steve Waugh ???- there we go again - In his first 15 tests against WI in Australia he scored 1 century (100 in sydney). His 63* and 200 in 1994 were when Ambrose was coming back after a shoulder injury. Else a poor record

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 27, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    Alex, regardless of whether Gavaskar hit Harper or not, he did hit Roberts. Straight drive. Over long on. I am puzzled on how the discussion came to this, as the Jamshedpur ODI is a fairly irrelevant match.

    Regarding Gavaskar's 63 and average of 39 against WI, in comparison with his other deeds, these pale into irrelevance. Gavaskar was hardly a one-day batsman, more because of a reluctance to depart from orthodoxy (stepping away to leg, opening the blade, which now even Dravid does, etc.). Had he applied himself, as he did in the World Cup, he would have done fairly well.

    I totally agree with Shrikantk that ODI can hardly test the mettle of batsmen. I remember 15-20 over spells by Wasim/Waqar/Mustaq in 1992 in England. The entire lower order (6-7 wickets) regualrly was bundled out for less than 100 runs only because of attacking fields and the best bowlers having no over restriction.

    Finally you are skating on this ice, when talking about "real" WI (contd)

  • shrikanthk on April 27, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    the concept of "timeless tests" is totally irrelevant

    It may seem out of place in this thread. But it is important to debate the "right format" for Tests once in a while with intellectual rigour. "Timeless tests" may never be commercially viable. But understanding them helps us better understand Test cricket in general.

    Was listening to Bhogle and Morrison on cricinfo today suggesting the idea of 4-day Tests. It has become fashionable among "pundits" to talk about "4-day" games without ever bothering to give a reasoned justification for the same! The only argument I hear from pundits is that "times have changed".

    The idea of 4-day tests isn't new! Most Ashes tests in 1930s held in England were 4-day affairs. In '38, the format failed to produce results on good strips, encouraging defensive play in the 4th innings.

    It's hard enough to get results in 5 days. How do you expect results in 4 days?

    Strange that there are suggestions to fix something that ain't broken!

  • shrikanthk on April 27, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    sorry to say sir but with so much love and knowledge about the game seeing(not literally) you undermining the importance of ODIs is disappointing indeed

    The idea was not to "undermine" ODIs. I love watching ODIs. And in my brief life, I guess I have watched more minutes of live ODI cricket than live Test cricket!

    Having said that, I do realize that Tests (and more generally FC cricket) is a sterner test of cricketing skills and temperament than "Limited overs" cricket can ever hope to be.

    An analogy can be made with Music. We all love listening to catchy film songs. Nevertheless, we do know that singing a classical carnatic "keerthana" with an "alapana" is FAR more demanding than most film songs can aspire to be. So, to judge a classical singer by listening to his movie song renderings is a travesty to say the least.

    That's why I found it odd that there were references to Warne's ODI record and Bevan's absence on this thread!

  • Abhi on April 27, 2011, 2:28 GMT

    Anand,Ananth Good point by Anand. I had mentioned something along similar lines a while back. A batsman's role in the side and his "sense of responsibility" will affect a simple "runs vs. bowlers" type of analysis. A Sehwag with a carefree attitude may well score a quick fire 40- which may prove to be pretty useless in general, especially if say trying to save a match in the 2nd inn. A Gavaskar or a Boycott may score a well built , patient 35- seeing the new ball off, consolidating etc And still come in lower than the Sehwags in such an analysis.

    Hopefully, as you mention once we get a good representative number of innings 25/30 or more- such differences would even out. [[ Abhi I am not going to do an Innings Rtaings analysis. If I do that I would put in enough parameters to justify why the 153 is far superior to the 375 or why the 105 is far superior to the 248. Here I am going to measure which batsman handled the two sets of wonderful bowlers well, that is all. My feeling is that once you put in certain minimum qualification criteria the golden wheat and the chaff will be separated. Sehwag cannot keep on scoring fast 35 run cameos, not that he does. He has to score 100s also to come to the top. Similarly Gavaskar cannot be scoring match-saving 35s. He has also to score 100s, albeit slo ones. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on April 26, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    There is one issue when comparing batsmen dominating bowlers in 1980s vs now. Statistically one can come up wiht number of runs scored vs number of balls faced or number of wickets vs number of balls bowled. Sometimes I am not sure if thats the right measure though. I am not talking about edges going for 4s or something. Let us say Roberts/Garner bounce Sehwag or Gilchrist with a thirdman in position. Let us say they play the upper cut which they play so well. Let us say out of 5 upper cuts two go for 4s, two for sixes and the last one lands in the throat of thirdman. Another scneario is they do the same to Gooch/Gavaskar who just keep watching the ball and let them go say 20-30 times. Can we now say that Sehwag/Gilly dominated the bowlers or the bowlers shot them out or Gavaskar/Gooch struggled or the bowlers were ineffective against them? One way to resolve this is weight the two parameters (runs and dismissals per ball) but what would be the weights? Ananth. Any thoughts? [[ There is no simple solution. I am not going to complicate the batsman analysis other than home-away factor. We have to assume that over the years such differences would even out as confirmed by the fact that still 50 is the point which separates the master batsman from the rest. This was true in the 1980s and is true now. There may be a preponderance of batsmen with 50+ average now but this would not be the case once we apply the filter on opponent as West Indies or Australia. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on April 26, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    Ananth: I am waiting your anlysis of who faced WI and Aus fast bowlers best. I am predicting and V V S Laxman would be in the top 3 if not the top. I also predict that Gavaskar and Gooch would be in the top 3 against W Indies. Let us see. [[ All three must be in the top-10. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 26, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    It never ceases to amaze me how readers still remember the Strike rates of Sunny Gavaskar's innings and the placement of his twenty-seven year old sixes off Roger Harper with such vividity!!

    I wonder if he is reading this thread. He should be mighty pleased. [[ I do not think Mr.G would be wasting time on these blogs. He would be more busy with IPL. Ananth: ]]

  • Sriram on April 26, 2011, 14:28 GMT

    Ananth,

    Johnson among the greats? please pls exclude him. he is very erratic, most of his wickets were batsmen's mistake rather than him bowling well...pls exclude him from this analysis. thanks Sriram [[ I think Johnson must have offended you in some way for you to conclude that most of his 181 wickets in 42 tests at 29+ avge are through the mistakes of batsmen. He has gone through his bad patches as all bowlers have done. But he has carried a struggling Australian attack with scant supportover the past four years. Think of him bowling in an attack led by McGrath/Warne. He would have been as good or better than Gillespie.. Ananth: ]]

  • Thrinax on April 26, 2011, 10:47 GMT

    Great article I like the way you have negated the differences in Rules, equipment and Pitches over the playing period by comparing the Australian teams performance as opposed to the opposition. The problem in comparing the Aust team to the great WI team is that I see know way of making the adjustment for the changing circumstances, Pitches seem to have got a lot flatter in the last 10 years, which combined with the smaller grounds and improved bats have made bowling a more difficult occupation. Even changing rules will have influence. The one bouncer per over and 90 overs in a day rule changes would have influenced the effectiveness of the great WI side and make comparisons between the Aus and WI sides difficult. [[ Yes it is certainly true that the way bowlers' hands are tied behind their backs today, even the fearsome West indians would have lost some of their edge. The lack of team balance would have affected the West Indian teams somewhat. Ananth: ]]

  • Michael W Williams on April 26, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    @Pallab: "Inarguably and unequivocally, the most sustained exhibition of excellence by a country in any team sport EVER... is the 7 Olympic Gold medal performance by Indian hockey teams from 1928 to 1964."

    Most consecutive trophies: St. George rugby league team - 11 premierships in a row from 1956 to 1966.

    Most consecutive years as holder of a trophy: The NY Yacht Club (USA) from 1857 until 1983 when the Cup was won by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, represented by the yacht Australia II, ending the longest winning streak in the history of sport. [[ Michael I can anticipate Pallab's answer. One is Olympic Gold and the other two are not so well known. However I can vouch for the later one since I saw the famous America's Cup race on television. On that day I thought Alan Bond was one all time great sportsman. Kevin Perry promptly lost it 4 years later. But the aura with NYYC had gone out and moved westwards to San Diego and then down under to New Zealand and then, for the first time to Europe. The level of competition in Yachting is fierce but very limited with the Challenge Round concept in operation for many years. Ananth: ]]

  • Anurodh on April 26, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    @Ananth... would love to get an analysis from you about the indian test and ODIs....alos which period you considered GOLDEN and its span... [[ Have to think about the best way of doing this. India has never had a sustained period of domination. Ananth: ]]

    @srikanth...sorry to say sir but with so much love and knowledge about the game seeing(not literally) you undermining the importance of ODIs is disappointing indeed...

    I have not come up in terms with T20 but ODIs are indispensable...the concept of "timeless tests" is totally irrelevant...the longer format of tests provide test shot selection for batsmen and the quality to get into the complete defense of a batsman with pitch-perfect delivery for bowlers... While ODIs test a batsman's composure and aggression at various stages of requirements and for bowlers, the abilty to outsmart the opponent although the concept of pitch-perfect delievery is equall relevant thus bringing something new to the game as well as saving the essential elements of tests...

  • Mahendran on April 26, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    While on the subject of "Who faced WI quicks better?" I would like to remind of Vishy. Holding and Roberts hold him in high regard. Viv Richards has gone on record saying that he was the most stylish batsman he has ever played against. As admitted by Sunny himself Vishy has scored well against Lillee and Thommo too when they were terrorising the world. The Australian duo themselves admitted that they find it irritating to see Vishy seeming to have more time to play shots. But one has to admit that he was never consistent like Sunny. He played only when he was pushed to the wall. He thrived under pressure. [[ In all probability my next artixle is going to be an extension of the past two articles. "Which batsmen faced these two attacks (Win ~ 1979-1998 and Aus ~ 1994-2007)" best". This will answer most of these questions. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 26, 2011, 5:06 GMT

    @Gerry & @Pallab: I will not write about SMG again in the comments on this article on the Aussie greats. In this comment though, let me note:

    1. The two sixes SMG hit at Jamshedpur vs WI in '83 were off Roger Harper --- one was over long-on while the other was over either long-on or long-off.

    2. No doubt, his 90, 76, and 63 were excellent innings but the likes of SRT/Ponting/Lara probably churned those out every 6 innings on average. The 90 was at SR=77 in a match that had SR=87, 76 was at SR=59 in a match that had SR=70, and the 63 (probably the best of the lot) was at SR=59 in a match that had SR=70.

    3. Do you expect Roberts (or anyone) to name anybody else as the #1 batsmen when the media asks him trite questions like "Who was the greatest batsman: SMG/Border/Miandad?"

    Why not talk about AB or S Waugh, who were arguably even greater cricketers than SMG, in a workmanlike article that celebrates the great Aussies? Or the great captain Mark Taylor?

  • shrikanthk on April 26, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Your above statement about 150 ball centuries and your diatribe about the non-influence of ODIs is a bit paradoxical

    Australia's remarkable scoring rates in the early 2000s had nothing to do with ODIs. It had everything to do with their remarkable array of batsmen. Now that most of those batsmen are out of their side, we see them scoring at 3 runs an over (as observed in the recent Ashes series)

    No amount of ODI cricket can teach you to score quickly in Tests. Putting away good balls in Tests requires a special temperament - since the pressure is a lot greater than in ODIs where "flaying the bowlers" is an imperative and not a choice!

  • shrikanthk on April 26, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    the nightmarish standard of Indian spinners in the 80's. Siva was a colossal waste of talent and the others were mediocre

    You hit the nail on the head! That's why I strongly believe Azhar/Ganguly's teams would've posed WI just as tough a challenge as they did to Taylor/Waugh's Australians!

    Bradman’s records ....including his 900 plus runs in his first major run scoring series in 1930

    The 1930 English attack was hardly "weak". Tate, Larwood, Hammond Tyldesley and Peebles doesn't count as weak. Agree that Tate was somewhat over the hill. But still England's best bowler. The WI attack of '71 had nobody anywhere near as good as Tate or Larwood. Hence, not a real parallel.

    G. Chappell’s....volume of runs which he scored in that 5-1 score line series included almost the same set of bowlers that Gavaskar faced in debut

    Pallab: Chappell faced Roberts, Holding and Gibbs in '76. Gavaskar faced none of them in '71.

  • Alex on April 26, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    @shrikanthk: India did manufacture turning wickets even in 80's and L. Siva took 18 wickets in 2 tests vs Eng as the year 1984 ended. Other examples include a couple of miracles of Hirwani and Maninder on massive turners. [[ When I worked with L Siva on the DD Television series, I had to take extra care not to blurt out "Hey, my dear friend, what really happened ???". What a lovely spinner. He had the world at his feet. Ananth: ]]

    The reason we don't see a lot more such examples from the 80's is the nightmarish standard of Indian spinners in the 80's. Siva was a colossal waste of talent and the others were mediocre: you needed massive turners for them to do the damage on test level and the think tank probably felt it was wiser to prepare wickets that would favor a draw rather than risk a loss (e.g., Bangalore vs Pak in '87). The lack of genuine spin superstar has continued. As good a bowler as Kumble was, even he was ineffective in 5 major test playing nations.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 26, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Alex, now that i have stopped rubbing my eyes in disbelief, let me point out that at least on facts, there must be no disagreement - Gavaskar hit Roberts for 2 sixes over long on (I watched the entire match) in Jamshedpur ODI. Secondly, i am amazed you make such sweeping statements like Roberts has never said Gavaskar is the best. How can you possibly be so sure? Only 3 batsmen averaged >55 in 1980. Read this - (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/sir-viv-richards-england-must-work-ponting-over-to-win-ashes-2113160.html) where you will find Gavaskar is indeed top of the mind recall for Roberts.

    I would place Gavaskar, Gooch, Wasim Raja, GS and IM Chappell, Boycott on a different plane from other more celebrated batsmen when it came to facing WI. Against Pak, Gavaskar and Richards stood above everyone else.

    The 147 in Guyana was hardly an attacking innings, and the wickets in that series were very flat, and Holding and Garner suffering from fatigue.

  • shrikanthk on April 26, 2011, 3:06 GMT

    By your logic, even test cricket is frivolous and we should call for timeless tests!

    Alex: In fact, I think "timeless test" is the purest form of cricket. A lot of people fear that if tests were timeless, matches will go on forever and run-rates will plummet. That's unfounded fear. Most tests in Aus before WWII were timeless and yet very few dragged beyond 6-7 days. Run rates in Australia weren't too different from RR in England where you had 4-day tests in the 30s.

    In a timeless test, there is no question of defensive play! You HAVE to go for wickets and runs. Suppose you're chasing 500 in 4th inn. In a 5-day test, you may choose to shut shop and block for a draw. In a timeless test, you are forced to bat aggressively and go for the target. Else you are more likely to lose. Killing time for the sake of killing time never happens in a timeless test. It may happen in an ODI (when Kenya decides to get batting practice while chasing 350 against Aus) but not in a timeless test.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    Lloyd and Richards often mentioned to them in private about Gavaskar being the best Test batsman. Richards during various trips to India during late 80s and 90s to meet Neena Gupta frequently kept reminiscing about Gavaskar’s unmatched Test greatness in conversations. For Lloyd and Richards WI, Gavaskar’s wicket as against any batsman was the most prized one. You will be surprised to know that as recently as 2003 during the OZ series cricket analysis shows, Akram mentioned Gavaskar and Richards (unversally mentioned of course) as the best Test batsmen he EVER bowled to BEFORE suddenly turning politically correct and mentioning Tendulkar too (as would any pundit, commentator and fan now). [[ Pallab and Shri: I have no idea where you guys find the energy to make so many comments, I must admit, most of these valuable. These are truly "timeless" tests. May your tribe flourish. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 2:31 GMT

    till he did not get the 2 centuries in WI was considered an average batsman against WI cos of his poor records in 2 previous series against them in 80s and also in 1990). Let it be on factual record (and broadcast records will prove that rather than my testimonials) that only 2 batsmen could collar (collar definition: play attacking, authoritative cricket against pace –similar to the style which made Viv so dreaded and famous against non-WI attacks) WI attacks both in Tests and ODIs –they were Gavaskar and Kapil in the 80s (Kapil of course was inconsistent as also Srikanth who shone briefly against them in ODIs). Lamb did so only briefly ; Gooch was dour in all his knocks. Some anecdotes about Lloyd and Richards and Gavaskar: Noted cricket correspondent Sunder Rajan of Times of India and player-columnist Hemant Kenkre (along with a couple of non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai to cut out the obvious bias though Gavaskar was a pan-Indian icon in a non-media saturated era) told me that CONTD.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 2:29 GMT

    WI pace attacks from 1981 to 1995 when they just about RULED tests . If you include Steve Waugh who scored that 200 against Ambrose and co. then Sidhu too scored 2 centuries in WI including a double. If you get into this “real” variable then a lot of Bradman’s records against “non-real” Test class attacks of minnow nations of that era (India, SA) and even some English attacks won’t count including his 900 plus runs in his first major run scoring series in 1930 (much like Gavaskar’s 774 in debut series). As for the other names compared to Gavaskar who did well against the “real WI”, let’s not get swayed by G. Chappell’s Super Tests records and the volume of runs which he scored in that 5-1 score line series included almost the same set of bowlers that Gavaskar faced in debut as well as 400 plus chase series in 1976 series in WI. Chappell actually fared badly against WI attacks in the real Tests in 1979 and 1982 series. As for Miandad (who I rate as a genuine Test great,CONTD.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    bowlers feast on the lesser bowlers.During that era, after facing the Caribbean 3some, teams could only feast on Baptise, Benjamins, W. Davis and even Walsh who was not that feared in ODIs initially. Incidentally, Gavaskar’s ODI average against WI was 39 which would be considered Fantastic in those days with other good knocks of 76 and 63 in Sharjah against “real WI”(both of which I watched). Vengsarkar’s records against WI were never lauded simply because of no century against them in WI though he came close in 1983 tour with 94 (and also an ordinary average in WI) –an indicator which often tends to decide batsmen’s greatness as against very good status are the centuries scored away (a lacuna which Ponting corrected by scoring a 100 on last tour of India). Vengsarkar did of course score 2 100s against Patterson-Walsh in 1987 and also 2 against WI in 1983-all in India. By the way, in Ananth’s last blog, I mentioned Gooch as possibly the only 1 to have faced the brunt of CONTD.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    Alex,:I brought up that 80 score to bring up Gavaskar’s annus mirabilis 1983 year performance against West Indies. Is 746 in 11 Tests against the “real WI” in 1983 (although poor returns in WI) not exceptional for you? Since you are pointing me to Ananth’s blog about exceptional records against the “real WI”, then Ananth’s last Caribbean blog also mentions Holding, Roberts as part of the 8 giants of WI. So Roberts (whom you mentioned as the real leader of WI pack in Ananth’s Caribbean blog) and Holding with whom Gavaskar tussled in the 70s are not “real WI”? Or even skiddy-paced Clarke and Marshall whom Gavaskar faced in the 70s briefly? If you cherry pick that Gavaskar belted “tame” Harper ( I watched all the ODIs and Tests that he played and which were telecast of course), you overlook that the accomplished 90 at Guyana in 1983 was scored only against pace before Kapil (with 72) tore into the spinners, then it can be said of marauders like Sehwag too who even after blasting CONT.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 1:53 GMT

    Yes, even I dislike T20 like the plague but in a few years time, teams would look to go for VERY TOUGH chases in the 20 mandatory overs on last day of Tests irrespective of a 7 plus run rate. Something which Indian team had stage fright about after Gavaskar’s virtuoso 221 took India to the doorstep of victory in 1979 against England while chasing 438 but the rest of the batsmen just did have the mindset to step up and score the remaining runs in the mandatory overs at an ODI rate.But India learned fast and chased a tough 348 in Chennai to Tie by scoring at 4 an over in 90s overs!-only after the confidence that comes from winning 2 World ODI titles and being a confident ODI side which India was in the mid-80s period.Though agreeable that both Ganguly and Dhoni’s teams developed chicken feet when chasing Tied Test type scores on last day on quite a few occasions –in fact India also lost to Pak in 2005 because of the pressure. Shri:will address your query re:1983-84 type pitches shortly

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 1:50 GMT

    "M.Waugh was the first of the great Australian strokemakers of the post Chappell era. Several others followed in his wake. Slater, Ponting, Lehmann, Martyn, Gilchrist, Hayden, Symonds, Clarke. Collectively, they made it fashionable to score 150 ball centuries that enabled Australia to get on top of the opposition very early in the game.”I remembered this when you suggested Anaanth about this Aussie domination blog Shri: Your above statement about 150 ball centuries and your diatribe about the non-influence of ODIs is a bit paradoxical. Aussie players fed on a diet of World Series ODI cricket since 1980 (dominating that too barring years when Windies played!, haha) LEARNT the value of scoring quickly to gain time for their bowlers in Tests from ODIs. This attitude and approach could only come from an aggressive and attacking mindset weaned on regular ODIs which Ananth also alluded too as one of the positive influences of ODIs. CONTD.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 1:43 GMT

    and Rothmans 4 Nation and Asia Cup in Sharjah)–simply because these captains did not have the luxury of assembling 4 strike bowlers and had to rely on choking/containing type bowlers to buy wickets as against “aim for wickets approach” of the other winning captains. Though Shastri during his mid-80s avatar was quite attacking and Sivaramakrishnan was used purely as an attacking option. The only decent example to buttress your statement is a Hadlee (attacking-containing), Chatfield (containing) and Morrison (attacking) plus Snedden (containing)type attack could come to mind, but then their teams never sustained any remarkable ODI winning records unlike Cronje’s without actually winning a World Cup. PS. Imran’s teams were of course the most inconsistent in sustaining ODI wins but keen cricket followers knows about Imran’s philosophy of the primacy of strike bowlers-both in Tests and ODIs.

  • Pallab on April 26, 2011, 1:39 GMT

    Shri:"all other things being equal"I very much NOTED it by putting your full statement in quotes before beginning my argument but it still does not add weight to your statement of economy rates being far more vital. You cherry picked one Harris who was just part of a dream run of a World Cup semi-final side which had to rely on such bowlers cos of lack of genuine strike bowlers. Which among these captains Waugh, Imran, Lloyd, Cronje,Ponting, Richards would look at economy rates while picking their primary 4 bowlers rather than strike rates in ODIs. I picked these captains as their teams sustained fantastic ODI records based on purely using 4 strike bowlers –almost irrespective of economy rates of bowlers like Donald, Waqar. I deliberately did not pick Ranatunga(whose team had a great run after the World Cup win in 1996) or even Kapil and Gavaskar, both of whom led India to a Grand Slam of ODI triumphs in 3 continents b/w 1983-1985(World Cup in England, World Championship in 1985 CONT.

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    A scribe mentioned once he would love to watch Mark Waugh batting if he has a few moments to live. But if he was fighting for his life, he would want his brother to be batting for him [[ The only thing I can say that it makes damned good reading. Ananth: ]]

    rizwan: This has to be one of the great cricketing cliches. M.Waugh was not just great to watch, but a remarkably consistent match-winner. Don't go by averages. Here's a man who saved Aus' skin so very often and people hardly remember him these days.

    - 126 against WI in 1995 (an innings that was perhaps more important than Steve's 200 in the same Test in that he set the tone for Aus' innings) - 116 vs SA at Port Elizabeth in '97 (a match-winning 4th inn 100) - 115* vs SA at Adeleide in '98 (a match-saving 4th inn 100) - 153* vs Ind at B'lore on a turner in '98, but for which it would've been a 3-0 whitewash for Ind.

    And yet, he is compared unfavourably with Steve when it comes to temperament.

    There were 2 reasons I got hooked to cricket in the mid 90s. Watching Junior bat and Shane Warne bowl. [[ Mark W's seemingly casual attitude has often been taken as lack of seriousness. And the fact that he crossed 200 once in his 20 hundreds. However the two fourth innings efforts against SA were of a batsman made of steel. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 19:21 GMT

    And that Indian side was very good, featuring 2 genuinely great players in Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev...

    James : Read your comment. All well made points. Yet, my argument remains - Who would you rather bowl to? Sachin-Laxman-Dravid-Azhar-Ganguly OR Sunny-Vengsarkar-Amarnath-Gaekwad-S.Patil

    And who would you rather bat against? Kumble/Harbhajan on a turner, with Srinath/Prasad offering support OR Kapil Dev-MadanLal-Binny-Shastri on flat wickets.

    Also, I'd love to hear from someone about the Indian pitches of 1984. Did they assist spin anywhere near as much as the turners Kumble reigned on during the 90s? I've heard they didn't. Maybe I'm wrong.

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 19:05 GMT

    Everything has to be in context. If Warne had to take wickets defending a small total, every wicket is gold.....We cannot make blanket statements

    Ananth, Pallab: I qualified my statement saying "all other things remaining equal". It is a very significant qualifier. Provided two bowlers have identical bowl.avgs, pick the guy with a better econ rate. Even if you're defending a small total, being miserly matters as much as striking frequently.

    Ofcourse this argument can proceed only if bowling averages are the same for two bowlers. There is no question of picking Chris Harris over Brett Lee (just because the former has a better econ. rate). Because their bowling averages are VASTLY different.

    I've had this debate before on this blog. Yet, somehow the qualifier "all other things being equal" gets overlooked! Anyway, my comment was made in the context of a rather bizarre Warne vs Agarkar debate (don't know why I got into that). Let's move on!

  • Anand on April 25, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    One PS to my long comment. I personally love and will love test cricket more than other formats. All my intention is that the other formats cannot be termned meaningless just because some players didint perform as well or some lesser or seemingly lesser players did better.

    In my opionion IPL did surface some talen (Yusuf Pathan for example, even Surech Raina had disappeared in the oblivion before IPL came up). But now it is becoming a farce more because some great players are being ill-treated and some good players are making this their priority. I consider any format of the game which takes away a player's pride of playing tests for their country as a farce and advocate for bringing them to an end. I love any format which draws players towards moving to playing tests for their country. This is like students who wont attend classes in college thinking they will do well in GRE or CAT ..wont take them anywhere [[ Anand, I hope you have read my article on IPL. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    Re Lohmann, C M_J, in his all-time-classic, The Complete who-is-who of Test cricketers" says, ""a greaceful medium-pace bowler with an occasional faster ball"

    Ananth: I am basing my judgment on Ralph Barker's wonderful essays on both bowlers. Lohmann was renowned for his deceptive change of pace which fetched him buckets of wickets. Richardson bowled a classic full length (you miss, I hit sort of length) and seldom pitched short. It is quite likely he also bowled yorkers very regularly (given his high % of bowled dismissals). [[ Ralph Barker's is an all-time classic. I do not own one although have read the book. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on April 25, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    Concluding my long post writing off some format because some otherwise average players seem good or vice-versa is not at att fair. A student could be good in geography and not so good in math. That is not sufficient grounds to write off the student nor write off the subjects as a poor indicator of abilities. If Warne and Agarkar have similar statistics in ODIs that need not represent abilities alone it may also represent how seriously each one took the format. Gavaskar had 34 test centuries and only one ODI century. Would you write off ODIs for that reason?? Despite his great technique he was criticised for his 36* in 60 overs. Even purists didint rate it as the most technically correct innings in their life time. Gavaskar himself adopted aggressive techniques (94 ball 100 vs W Indies in 1983). Would that rate as his worst test century because of its ODI like performance? How many could have imagined that Sehwag and Slater would be more successful in tests than ODIs given their style?

  • Anand on April 25, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    (COntd) I know people may attribute that chasing in ODIs has become easier due to batting power play and all that, but honestly batsmen would look to slog anyway in the last few overs. T2o has given batsmen the feeling that hitting sixes is not such a big deal and for someone lokoing to clear the roof I dont think power play is the only factor. Sure power play is a significant factor but I would more put it down to T20 because it has given batsmen the faith to back their ability

    In all, really great players adapt to all forms (SAchin, Jayasurya, Gilchrist etc). Even Dravid is playing well in T20 matches, I sometimes feel he is not gettting due credit because many seem to have fixed him as a test specialist. Does anyone honestly believe that Bradman and Sobers may not have shined in ODIs?? Those who excel more in one form than another are not lesser players or not to be written off. They possess a special skill and deserve credit (contd)

  • Anand on April 25, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Just like how objective type exams forced students to not just think of mechnically solving a problem but also apply some additional knowledge or methods to solve it quickly, ODIs gave something to think about for batsmen in not just occupying a crease for several hours but also sometimes innovate to score runs. On an extremely tricky pitch sometimes an aggressive batsman can just turn the game on its head by just being there for sometime. I remember the Chennai test in 1999 INdia vs Pakistan. Afridi batted out one day and with his un orthodox approach put Pakistan in a commanding position (later they lost 6 wkts for almost nothing). IN the same match Sachin with his classy batting got India almost close. Now both innings were worth their weight in gold, but one of them took an ODI approach or so to say T2o probably didint add so much value to ODIs as ODIs did to tests, but one significant contribution is now batsmen back themselves up to chasing 10+ an over for the last 10 (contd)

  • Anand on April 25, 2011, 18:24 GMT

    Intersting Article ananth and evemn more interesting comments. This time there was a digression to tests vs ODIs vs T20s. I am adding to it in a different perspective:-) ...

    Sometimes dismissing one form of the game is not really fair. I would rate test matches as a descriptive exam (lie IIT-JEE or GATE in the early 90s) where you not only solve a problem but also showed how you solved it. There you would not only know a students' ability to solve a problem but would appreciate his/her techniques etc.

    ODIs are more like objective type exams where sometimes if you dont know how to solve it you may still make a guess and if you are lucky even get away with it. But many high quality competetive exams (CAT, GRE, etc) are objective type and never brough down the quality of using proper techniques to solve a problem. Similarly ODIs brought in a new aspect to the game (ability to score quickly and quality of fielding. (Continued in the next)

  • Bobby on April 25, 2011, 17:39 GMT

    Where is Micheal Bevan on this list? [[ I don't seem to be getting through. Pl see earlier comments and look up Bevan's Test record. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on April 25, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    After reading the great article and comments (some great) here’s my two bits: 1) I have always had a soft spot for Warnie…we so often judge cricketers purely by stats. The stats are mandatory for greatness, but then you have a sort of “Buzz Factor”. In my opinion just 3 cricketers had this “factor” in the couple of decades or so- Tendulkar, Warne and Lara. Sure, there have been several other great cricketers- but these 3 brought “something “to the plate that no one else did. It is indefinable. [[ Since you have mentioned two decades, your selection is fine. If you go back 10 years, Viv Richards must come in. Ananth: ]]

    2) I fully agree with several comments regarding McGrath and Warne. They are truly the “irreplaceables”. As someone mentioned the only reason Aus won in SL even without McGrath was Warne. McGrath was “The Machine”; Warne was the “Wizard”. 3) Impossible to split Murali and Warne. It’s more a question of who your favourite is 4) Re. Gilly – he was “explosive” . The “problem” is that I have long had this doubt about the true definition of “matchwinner”. A player producing one superlative performance in between a general run of mediocrity or less is fine in a great team. In an average to poor team- this so called “matcwinning” ability may actually prove to be a downer- since this "erraticism "may result in losing or even not drawing a match which otherwise may have been salvaged. In the traditional sense this “matchwinning” ability may be OK when considering isolated matches but over longer periods of say 10 matches- the inconsistency may cost a team more than they benefit . 5) As rgds. Gilchrist vs. Haddin- Gilly hands down. 6) I also agree with the inclusion of Border. Sure the “actual” Aussie dominance may have started later. But then you needed someone to lay the plinth. As also Big Merve- they also inspired the next Gen.This is also where Steve Waugh helped.

  • Alex on April 25, 2011, 13:27 GMT

    @Pallab: I don't understand the need to trumpet SMG in an article celebrating the great Aussies of '89-'07. I will kindly state the following facts:

    1. Lloyd, Viv, Roberts, and Akram have never said that SMG was the greatest batsman they ever saw.

    2. SMG's 80-odd at Jamshedpur vs WI in '83 was not a masterpiece. He scored those runs at SR=75 in response to WI's 320+ off 50 overs. Even the SR=75 is inflated due to a late flurry on the tame spin of Roger Harper (not on the pace attack).

    For batsmen who did exceptionally well vs the "real" WI, Ananth's previous articles have shown that we should look up Gooch, Greg Chappell, Miandad, Vengsarkar, Lamb, and even Steve Waugh first. IMO, SMG is on the level of Boycott and AB on that count. That is not a knock on him but a statistical fact.

  • Alex on April 25, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    @Ananth: you might consider including Dean Jones. Starting 1989, he played 33 tests and scored @2300 runs with 8 centuries @ave=47. More important, he was a part of the core group around whom AB started to rebuild in '85. A very gutsy player (also an all-time great in ODI's). [[ Touch and ... go !!! The runs are too little. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 25, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    Pallab, the reason i did not mention Amarnath is that though he hooked very well in 1983 in WI, he had other instances of either falling on his stumps, or losing his sola topee, or getting hit on the head. also he seemed to hook uppishly all the time. Gavaskar is very controlled, with minimum movements, but hits the ball quite hard, and usually between fielders. For outstanding hooking (if it can be precisely called that), item 11 in this video is good to watch (Thompson's first ball, which is very fast)- http://wn.com/Viv_Richards_2.

    The 6 tests between Pakistan and WI in 1986-88, each match a thriller between two teams who did not know how to give up, featured some of the bravest individual performances one can see, despite the seemingly low scores. I wonder what happened to Tony Gray, who made up for the absence of Garner. Those 6 tests can certainly take their place with 2001, 2005 and 61-62.

  • Ramesh Kumar on April 25, 2011, 12:58 GMT

    Ananth,

    Great work. Thanks. A question on the wickets/runs. How do you differentiate inn defeat and win across four innings? I think the differentials are underestimated. Should we do 1st/2nd innings seperately? [[ NO, I have gone only across all innings. We are only looking at the overall performances. Ananth: ]]

    I somehow get a feeling with these numbers that Aus team may win more matches across venues against WI as they have more balance though bowling back-up is weak(I grew up watching WI and hence no bias)

    ODIs have brought in new dimension to Cricket esp to batting style. IMO, when you compare modern test greats(limited only to greats), ODI performance will be the differentiator to pick the most complete player.Can't say with much conviction on T20s though at this stage.

    Ramesh Kumar

  • Leena Khan on April 25, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    What have been the Australia's Test and ODI rankings throughout this Golden Era ? [[ I don't have the time to delve into ICC's historical data. However, my guess is that, barring stray excusions away from the 1st place, Australia have been at the top. Ananth: ]]

  • Sreenivaasan.S on April 25, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    Great Research!!! The domoination of the Aussies from 2000-2004 was truly mind boggling... But can you compare both the great teams (Ie the great West India team and The Aussie one from Above. That would be truly mind boggling and a life time treat...

  • shaun on April 25, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    Excellent analysis on a golden era , not sure about Damien Martyn would pick Symonds over him but partially down to his fielding which the stats don't reflect and as for Mitch behave he's rubbish most of the time .

  • Ross on April 25, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    Just a comment on the side related to Ananth's comment about specialist cricketer's:

    A prime example of a Test specialist in today's cricketing world is Alistair Cook, playing for England. He alspmdoes very well in the county cricket tournament. [[ Ross, you have made my points. First point is that we have managed to get one world class Test player, that is all. The second would be tough, third still more duifficult and so on. The second point is that do you think Cook cannot play ODIs. Probably the need to have a right-left combination at the top which prevents him from being considered. Don't you think, like Amla, he could develop into an attacking ODi batsman and match-saving Test batsman, rolled into one. After all Cook has a strike rate of 71 in ODIs (albiet 858 runs) and a Test strike rate of nearly 50. The point is that a top class Test batsman would almost always fit in as a ODI batsman, not vice versa. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 25, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    Gilchrist is unfortunately locked in people's minds as a wicketkeeper batsman. He was not a very distinguished wicketkeeper anyway (Healy much better).

    Around 2002, there were many (me for sure) who rated Gilchrist as the world's best batsman, ahead of Lara, Waugh, Tendulkar and Ponting. He certainly was the sword arm of that Australian side.

    Boycott once remarked in amusement that debates such as whether Lara can play spin / Tendulkar can play pace etc. dont apply to Gilchrist. He just whacks everyone.

    So the debate about Haddin replacing Gilchrist does not answer who replaced him (pre-2005 vintage) as a batsman...I suppose no one. This was felt very starkly in the 2005 Ashes.

    Since 2007, they have lost several tests to India and only beaten them in 1 test. They have lost in England. They dropped a home series vs SA. So how can 2010 be included in this analysis? Should be 2007. [[ I have replied to this earlier. Ananth: ]]

  • Theena on April 25, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    I don't read your coloumn as often as I should. A fine piece of work, Mr Ananth.

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    James, thanks for highlighting the Series winning records of WI after that ’75 thrashing in OZ and also the fact that they kept hammering Australia in all subsequent series. Ananth, that would make the WI dominating era to span from 1976 when they beat England ( Viv Richards series) right uptill 1995 when they lost to OZ (parallel to the period of your Caribbean bowlers analysis) and on par with the 20 year period you have drawn up for Australia in this post. Now if only for a cable-satellite television (and now Web-based streaming!) like blanket coverage of cricket of that era for the post 90s generation to know what they have missed out on! Ananth:Also curious whether you are looking to consider the Indian Test batsmanship class analysis from 1971-2010 (much like your Caribbean bowlers blog) in a subsequent blog perhaps whenever you are free?

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    I am comparing Gilchrist between '05 and '08 with Haddin post '08.

    What is the point of such a statement?

    From 1992-94, Prabakar was better than Kapil. From 1989-91, Richardson was better than Viv Richards. From 1987-92, Botham was hardly better than Defreitas/Lewis.

    So to compare the tail of a great player's career to a successor who is only as good as the weakest years of the great player, is useless. We are talking about which MVP would be chosen for reincarnation.

    Gilly's retirement per-se didnt exactly weaken Australia enormously.

    Again, the same goes for Richards, Kapil, Botham, Miandad, Kumble, etc. Even Tendulkar will not be allowed to retire until his abilities are gone, so you will then be able to say 'Tendulkar's retirement did not weaken Ind tremendously'.

    Giving importance to the final form of the player is, again, useless, and incompatible with the original post here. Compare entire careers only, anything else is meaningless.

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    I wrote this about Gilchrist during the World X1 debates; relevant here."Folks,also try and track Gilly’s Test batting and records (have watched most of his Test innings); it is not all that great(his overall allround package makes him a great though)as it is being made out to be as compared to the classy and correct Kumar Sangakkara (as stated by a commenter here, Sanga will be retrospectively considered a legend in the future and it is not his fault that Sri Lanka do not get more Tests in SA or OZ where he has done very well unlike Mahela J).Gilly’s flamboyant personality and ODI blitzkriegs at the top of the order in ODIs has captured the imagination of analysts and fans alike (and of course his pioneering attacking batting style at no. 7 in Tests) and tends to blur his Test and ODI records for a more objective analysis but he was sorted out by Indian and English bowlers in the mid-latter half of his career (only about 39 as against a high of 50 plus in the first half of his career)

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    Test cricket is alive and well in Aus/Eng, attracting crowds in tens of thousands on most days.

    Piffle. Even for the Ashes, at least 20% of the TV audience is from India.

    Test matches between, say NZ and WI, or even Eng and WI, just don't generate enough revenue (especially TV revenue).

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    Shri, now if you say that economy rates are far more vital than strike rates in ODIs, then sorry to say that Imran, Lloyd, Richards, Steve Waugh would not allow you to debate any further. Imran just wanted wickets from himself, Waqar, Wasim, Aaqib and even Qadir in ODIs .For these captains, only strike rates mattered (regardless of how parsimonious Garner and Ambrose were in ODIs). And now don’t run turn around around saying that Imran is not the greatest pundit or theorist of the game unlike a Sobers. Imran and Waugh were as shrewd, thoughtful and erudite as thinkers as they were players (though Imran could be jingoistic at times). [[ Everything has to be in context. If Warne had to take wickets defending a small total, every wicket is gold. If some one is defednding 275 and needed one end locked up with a RpO of 3.0, if Kumble delivered that, he is special. We cannot make blanket statements. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    “Disagree. Economy rates are far more vital than strike rates in ODIs, all other things remaining equal ofcourse” Shri,I disagree totally. Even as a geriatric pace bowler in that fantastic ODI series in 2001 in OZ’s winter, Akram (along with Akthar) went for the jugular with pace and swing to capture wickets and not throttle or tie down the Aussies-and eventually won 2-1.Can give you various other examples of why most great ODI teams with sustained fine records believed that strike rates mattered more for bowlers than economy rates (M. Crowe did not have the luxury of potent bowlers and so had to resort to thrifty economy rate bowlers to be effective in the 1992 World Cup). Even in the World Championship which India won in OZ in 1985, purportedly defensive-minded Gavaskar was looking to bowl out sides and failed only in the final against Pak. Even as gully and informal colony/college cricket captains between age 15-19, I always advised all my bowlers to seek wickets at any cost.

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    Gavaskar ‘s obdurate, defensive technique based game was just attuned to suit the team requirements of his era with average bowling attacks in the 80s if not the 70s but masks the undeniable FACT that he actually could pull all the strokes out of the book at will and his stroke play and especially his hooking was exhilarating. That’s why as I have mentioned in Anath’s previous blog, Lloyd, Richards,Croft, Roberts, Sobers (Akram too for a major part of the 90s) considered him the best Test batsman bar none.

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    Gerry: Remarkable you brought up the hooking style of Gavaskar (and others. I hope you remember that M. Amarnath too was a very good compulsive hooker and did so successfully in the series against Pak and WI in 1983 before his horrible freefall in the post World-Cup 1983 home Test series). Gavaskar, I still maintain was the only Test batsman to collar yes COLLAR the WI pace attacks in different combinations and did so in 1983 which included his 121 and 90 in Delhi and Ahmedabad Tests in 1983 at superb strike rates and that seminal 90 at Berbice, Guyana WI in 1983 before the World Cup (against Holding, Marshall, Roberts) which heralded India’s first win against WI in WI in an ODI- considered almost impossible in those days! If you include his 80 plus in the return ODI series in Jamshedpur that would be 4 attacking innings (not to forget his 147 in Georgetown and 236 in Chennai in Tests- so 6 innings in 1983).

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    thrall and keenness. Apart from the standard Times of India, I remember buying the Hindu and Indian Express later Sportstar and Sportsworld to read in utter detail about these REAL titanic tussles during that 5 year span of 9 Tests. WI was lucky in 1988 and could have lost (Imran and Miandad both blamed the umpires for not winning the series outright. Incidentally Miandad finally proved himself against the WI in 1988). I rate the 1988 series on par with the India –OZ 2001 series, Ashes 2005, WI-OZ 1961-62 (the Tied Test one) and even the India-Pak 1999 series which was actually won 2-1 by Pak if u include the Asian Test championship series as the most utterly see-sawing, riveting , raging, extremely exciting titanic fights between high-quality teams. I am desperately hoping for some fans to upload some clips of the 1988 series in WI on YouTube. It’s remarkable that Holding’s 6 ball so-called fastet Test over in cricket history to Boycott of 1981 WI series is there; so hoping something of more recent vintage -1988- lands up.

  • Pallab on April 25, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    Rizwan :“Therefore, for sustained excellence in a team sport , no other team in the world can come close to the Aussies” Untrue and also can’t blame you as Anglo-Aussie historians historically overstate and perpetuate any and every accomplishments by their brethren. Inarguably and unequivocally, the most sustained exhibition of excellence by a country in any team sport EVER (let’s keep sanitized, domestic American sports leagues out of this, however competitive) is the 7 Olympic Gold medal performance by Indian hockey teams from 1928 to 1964 (including 12 years when no Olympics were held due to the World War II). But then Indians too seem have forgotten about that “never-to-be-repeated” again golden era.

    Shri:I think you might have meant WI touring Pak in 1986 and not ’88 (when Imran’s team made the trip to WI). WI also toured Pak in 1981 and won 1-0 against Miandad’s team.However, I followed these 2 series in which Imran led and the 1990 series again with utter fascination,CONTD.

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    It is absurd to say Haddin is almost as good as Gilchrist. As Ananth says, Haddin is above average, but not in Gilchrist's league.

    Clarification: I didn't say Haddin is "as good as Gilchrist". I am comparing Gilchrist between '05 and '08 with Haddin post '08. The difference is not as huge as many imagine.

    Gilly's retirement per-se didnt exactly weaken Australia enormously. Haddin proved a competent enough replacement. Note: Gilly's test average in his last 3 yrs ('05 to 08) was 39.

    Ofcourse it is a different matter if you compare Gilly between '99-02 with the present-day Haddin. Huge difference there.

  • Sifter on April 25, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    Ananth - you wrote: "At this stage in his career Haddin has scored 1900 runs at an average of 39 and s/r of 58. At a similar stage Gilchrist had scored 1900 runs at an average of 58 and s/r of 85. There is no comparison. This is said without putting down Haddin who is an above-average keepr/batsman"

    That's true: Haddin will not have a Gilchrist like career. But that was not the point of conjecture - it was that Gilchrist left a huge hole that was irreplaceable. Look at the LAST 2-3 yrs of Gilchrist's career and then tell me that Haddin is still no where near Gilchrist...Haddin replacing Gilchrist is the LEAST significant change that has happened in this Aussie team, mainly because Gilchrist declined over time to a point where he dropped a few catches and was a merely above average batsman, rather than the destructive force he was in his first few years. [[ That is a very fair comment. However as a few others have pointed out, the comparisons must be with the entire career, not the fading years of one player with the rising years of the replacement. All this comes from the fact that even today Australia has not found a passable replacement for McGrath and even a half-as-good a replacement for Warne. It is true that Warne can walk back into the Australian team today. It is also true that the period between 2005-2011 Australia has not seen a major change in the wicket-keeper deliveries. Let us leave at that. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    So no, the ODI stats of Warne are not 'better' than Agarkar's to any significant degree

    Even if I were to buy into this conclusion (which I don't), this only illustrates how weak a format the ODIs are when it comes to discriminating skill. So weak that Warne and Agarkar end up with "similar figures".

    Your example isn't a commentary on Warne, but a commentary on the inadequacy of the ODI format.

    T20's are a different game altogether

    Alex: You've inadvertently hit upon the truth. It IS a different game. But not cricket. It has its own set of virtues. But those are the virtues of a different game. A less nuanced game that appeals to the less sophisticated sensibilities of Man.

    Let's appreciate it for what it is. But let's not judge Test cricketers based on ODI/T20 records as some people are attempting to do! [[ No one is doing that. Most of the comments here are on Test cricket. It was your dismissal of ODI as worthless which has triggered off a few comments. Anyhow, this applies to you and others, why bring in ODi related comments in a Test based artcle. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    But I will say that for Test cricket to survive, India has to do well. There is not enough of an audience if the Indian public tunes out.

    That's a myopic view. I can only regard that as "subcontinental hubris".

    Test cricket is alive and well in Aus/Eng, attracting crowds in tens of thousands on most days.

    By that measure, Ajay Sharma was a superior cricketer to Michael Bevan...

    FYI, Bevan has a great first-class record (albeit a lower avg than Sharma). Considering the greater competition in Aus FC scene and the tougher conditions, it's possible to regard Bevan as a "superior cricketer".

    You are actually claiming that economy rate is vastly more important than strike rate, or that Indian pitches are less 'flat' than Australia

    Disagree. Economy rates are far more vital than strike rates in ODIs, all other things remaining equal ofcourse. I never said Indian pitches are "flatter" than Aus. But for spinners, Yes. Aus ODI pitches offer less assistance.

  • James on April 25, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    When the West Indies won 3-0 in India in 1983, they did it without Joel Garner who missed the entire tour with injury, and Andy Roberts who only played 2 of the 6 Tests, as he was being slowly moved into retirement.

    So when people make excuses for Australia saying they struggled in India because they didn't have McGrath, it just shows that the West Indies had far greater depth of talent. On that 1983 tour of India, both Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding were phenomenal taking 33 wickets at 18.8, and 30 wickets at 22.1 respectively. If either McGrath or Warne were missing, Australia invariably struggled, but even without such key players such as Andy Roberts and Joel Garner, the West Indies were still able win 3-0 in India, because they had so many champions.

    And that Indian side was very good, featuring 2 genuinely great players in Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, and some very good ones in Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Syed Kirman, Navjot Sidhu, and Roger Binny. [[ I guess we are talking about the two greatest team-periods in history. So there are bound to be arguments on these and as long as these are good-natured ones, I have no problems. The only comparison would be the 1946-48 Australians. However the post-war blues and the short period means we cannot really include this team of 2 years. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 25, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    @Ananth - Gilchrist was an all-time great match-winner and he was quite consistent with bat till 2005 in tests. His presence at #7 gave an added edge/dimension to Aussies. He will probably make my all-time XI in all 3 formats but, IMO, Warne-McGrath taken together was a more decisive factor ... if you keep these two and replace Gilly with Haddin in those Aussie sides, I think Aussies will fare better than they did over 2007-08. [[ That specious argument does not hide the fact that Gichrist was way ahead of Haddin. I accept that McGrath was wy-way ahead of some one else and Warne was way-way-.......-way ahead of any of the spinners. Ananth: ]]

    Aussies have always had exceptional sports talent but this article makes me wonder: was there ever a 21-year period in Aussie cricket that saw better talent/performers than 1985-2006? We probably have witnessed something rare.

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    However I would never dismiss ODIs because this format was responsible for many of the improvements .....which have made Test matches far more decisive

    Ananth: I think you are overstating the influence of ODIs on Tests.

    Check out the run-rates in the recent Ashes series, played on some good batting strips. RRs hovered around 3-3.5 most of the time, which was decent enough considering the quality of attacks.

    Avg run-rates have perhaps improved by perhaps 0.5-0.75 runs per over over the past 30 years? And this increase is not entirely due to ODI cricket. I think helmets and the overrate rules(entailing more spin) have played a role.

    Not sure if catching has improved greatly, though ground-fielding has. What with all the fielding coaches, I still see sitters dropped in every other IPL game!

    Slower deliveries, yorkers

    George Lohmann bowled slower deliveries. Tom Richardson bowled yorkers! [[ Shrikanth You win because you won't let go. You have unearthed something to suit your argument. Re Lohmann, C M_J, in his all-time-classic, The Complete who-is-who of Test cricketers" says, ""a greaceful medium-pace bowler with an occasional faster ball", wuite at variance to what you say. And even if he bowled a slower ball occasionally, I am talking about using slower deliveries consistently as a weapon. Re Tom Richardson, C M_J says "After a long run-up and high right arm delivery, the combination of pace with a pronounced off-break made him irrestible". Again he might have bowled the occasional yorker. Same arguments apply. I love Test cricket more than ODIs. But that does not mean I am going to put the later down. Ananth: ]]

  • James on April 25, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    Some people have said some incorrect things here.

    The West Indies won in Australia 2-0 in 1979, 3-0 in 1984, 3-1 in 1988, and 2-1 in 1992. They beat Pakistan 2-1 in 1977, and 1-0 in Pakistan in 1980.

    Before the 1975/76 tour of Australia, Michael Holding had played 0 Test matches, Gordon Greenidge 5 Tests, and Viv Richards only 7, so they were all rookies at the start of their career. And Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, and Desmond Haynes weren't even in the team yet.

    When they came back 4 years later in 1979 they hammered Australia 2-0, winning by 408 runs in Adelaide, and by 10 wickets in Melbourne. That 1979 Australian team featured Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell, Border, Hughes, Hookes, Marsh, Lillee, Thompson, Mallett, Pascoe, and Hogg. And the Pakistan team they defeated featured Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Abdul Qadir, and Sarfaraz Nawaz.

    So anybody who questions the quality of opposition the West Indies beat is wrong.

  • Alex on April 25, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    @Rizwan: ODI is a serious form of cricket (on the lines of lightening chess, which incidentally was forever boycotted by traditional chess masters such as Botvinnik). By your logic, even test cricket is frivolous and we should call for timeless tests!

    ODI's are a better filter for some very valid metrics. For example, Bevan's substandard test record could be viewed as a limitation of not only him but that of test cricket as well. He is arguably the greatest ever finisher but that quality is never tested as severely in test cricket.

    I wouldn't frown upon IPL: Manjrekar has a great article on it in Cricinfo today. T20's are a different game altogether. Currently, it is primarily a slug fest but more nuances could be added to it by making changes to the pitch & playing conditions.

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    I first look at his Test record, then his FC record. ONLY THEN his ODI record!

    By that measure, Ajay Sharma was a superior cricketer to Michael Bevan...

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    T20, especially IPL-type, has added very little to the game otself.

    Other than money.

    In the 90s, a lot of people were pretty sure that Test cricket would be dead by now. Thankfully, they were wrong.

    But I will say that for Test cricket to survive, India has to do well. There is not enough of an audience if the Indian public tunes out.

    In fact, the financial viability of Test cricket is really dependent on just three players at this point : Sehwag, Tendulkar, and Laxman.

    Without these three, would there even be enough of an audience?

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    It is absurd to say Haddin is almost as good as Gilchrist.

    As Ananth says, Haddin is above average, but not in Gilchrist's league.

    Gilchrist makes the Cricinfo All-time XI (effectively voted the top wk-batsman ever), while Haddin is not a certainty even for the present Aus XI, which has no members from Cricinfo's all-time Aus XI (let alone the World XI that contains Gilly).

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    shrikant,

    Agarkar took about as many ODI wickets as Warne in nearly the same number of matches, at an average only 2 runs worse. Warne's better economy rate is negated by Agarkar's better strike rate.

    So no, the ODI stats of Warne are not 'better' than Agarkar's to any significant degree. Their numbers can overall be considered quite similar.

    You are actually claiming that economy rate is vastly more important than strike rate, or that Indian pitches are less 'flat' than Australia. Most knowledgeable people would not agree.

    Again, we are talking of ODIs only, not Tests.

  • Alex on April 25, 2011, 4:48 GMT

    @Kartik (the old one):

    1. Warne was a far greater than Kumble who averages above 40 in 4 countries: Eng, NZ, SL, and Pak ... he averages 38 in Oz. On the other hand, Warne averages below 30 everywhere except in Ind (ave=41) and WI (ave=40). Just the fact that Kumble is widely considered India's greatest ever spinner (and 2nd greatest bowler) shows how bad the Indian bowlers has always been.

    2. Gilly was an upgrade over Healy but not as valuable as Warne & McGrath. His value was in scoring 45+ runs/innings at high SR (although he tapered off in the final 4 yrs) so that it opened a few additional overs for Oz bowlers to go for the win. But the main reason the Aussies won was because McGrath & Warne could take 20 wkts/match ... on a year in year out basis, the others (barring Gillespie) were really great as #3 or #4 options only. After Lee lost his effectiveness in '08, Aussies have been beaten regularly ... a dual of WI after Lloyd & Gomes retired and Viv lost his edge. [[ If we look at match-winners, Glchrist is amongst the best of all time. Ananth: ]]

  • rizwan on April 25, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    Ananth, you are right, Sri Lanka will struggle but watch out for the young and brilliant Dinesh Chandimal, who may turn out to be the batsman of this decade.

    Re. Bevan , (who can't be included because the article was on test matches) , it was quite stark the difference in avearge.Beavn had a 50 plus average in one dayers and a sub 30 in the shorter version of the game.

    This clearly undescores that test cricket is the real thing and seperates the men from the boys. [[ That is completely correct. However I would never dismiss ODIs because this format was responsible for many of the improvements such as scoring rate, sharpness in fielding, single taking ability, alower deliveries, yorkers et al which have made Test matches far more decisive. On the other hand, T20, especially IPL-type, has added very little to the game otself. Ananth: ]]

  • rizwan on April 25, 2011, 3:54 GMT

    Karthik, Steve Waugh was as indispensable as Warne and McGrath.Read Sharda Ugra on her favourite cricketer Mark Taylor where she mentions Taylor decided to bat first on a seeming Old Trafford pitch so that it would allow Warne to bowl on a 4th innings pitch.(Ranathunga did something similar which allowed Murali to take 16 wickets against England)

    In this match Steve Waugh scored 108 out of 235 and 116 out of 395 in the first and second innings respectively, i.e. more than 35 % of the total which allowed Warne to take 9 wickets.(Waugh was adjudged the Man of the Match). This was just one of the several instances where Waugh has performed at crunch situations.No one can accuse him of being a flat track bully. Gilchrist was an awesome presence but he batted at 7 when the bowlers were tired. A scribe mentioned once he would love to watch Mark Waugh batting if he has a few moments to live. But if he was fighting for his life, he would want his brother to be batting for him.

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    There have been many who have been ODI-only but not the other way around

    Cricketers are no different from us. They have families to feed. ODIs and most definitely league cricket (IPL) do come in handy in that regard.

    A few others have been ODI specialists mainly because of their inadequacy in the Test format (eg : Bevan). No person who appreciates cricket well enough will assert that ODIs test a cricketer's skill to the same extent as Tests or even FC cricket! That would be a crazy assertion.

    ODIs and Tests are different ball-games altogether! Putting away a loose ball in an ODI while chasing 300 is a LOT easier than putting away the same delivery in a Test match on the 1st day. In the former case, there is no pressure on you as you have to strike out in order to win the game! In the latter case, the criticism of your stroke will be a lot more severe if you happen to get out.

    The demands on one's temperament are far, far greater in Tests! [[ I think you are judging all limited over games by the same yardstick. Look at them as two distinct formats, 50 and 20 and then the traditional ODIs will have their strong points clear. Pl aslso see my reply to Rizwan. Ananth: ]]

  • rizwan on April 25, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    Ananth I agree with you, Warney’s batting was a huge plus as was his slip fielding.

    Re.Demon Spofforth and Sydney Barnes , what I meant was , no bowler , spin or fast , would be able to bowl that fabulous Indian batting line-up TWICE in a match for a low score on a normal pitch.

    The only way to get them cheaply is ask them to play in New Zealand during early summer when the weather is nippy and even the dibbly-dobbly mild medium pacers are difficult to negotiate.

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    three slots are where they are seeing the biggest vacuum

    Haddin is a decent enough replacement for Gilchrist. Ofcourse there is a vaccum created by Gilly. But it ain't too big. [[ No, Shri, I beg to differ. At this stage in his career Haddin has scored 1900 runs at an average of 39 and s/r of 58. At a similar stage Gilchrist had scored 1900 runs at an average of 58 and s/r of 85. There is no comparison. This is said without putting down Haddin who is an above-average keepr/batsman. Ananth: ]]

    Agree about Warne and McGrath though.

    The bigger problem lies in the batting dept. People like Clarke and Hussey may have great averages. But those averages flatter them. Against top notch seam attacks, they are often found wanting.

    That's why I like the mid-90s Aus batting lineup so much. They succeeded when it mattered most even against the best of attacks. You had someone like Mark Waugh (who may have averaged only 42), but scored very critical series-clinching hundreds against the might of SA (Donald/Pollock), WI (Ambrose/Walsh) under severe pressure. Remember his memorable knocks against SA in Port Elizabeth, Sydney and Adeleide in '97-98?

    Also, how about Healy's 161 under pressure against Ambrose/Walsh/Bishop in Brisbane '96. An innings that set up the series for Australia!

  • Aditya Nath Jha on April 25, 2011, 3:05 GMT

    @shrikanthk - the difference between the '75-'76 WI team and the '84 team was that most of the greats had made their debut in the '74-'76 period (roberts, greenidge, richards, holding) and hence, were yet to become the force that they later became. Secondly, the bowling attack of the WI in the '75-'76 series was pretty rudimentary with an ageing Gibbs, part-time Lloyd and if I remember - Ishan Ali - supporting the debutant Holding; with Roberts as the strike bowler. The fearsome bowling combination had not been formed.

    as a personal opinion, in a hypothetical match, i would give a slight edge to the WI team against the Australians, purely because of the bowling attack. Although, the ground where the game is played may be a big influence. [[ I will work to get my Test simulation in shape. Then we can have a 5-match series between these imaginary teams on the lines of the Times series. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    Warne's relatively middling ODI career...His ODI stats are on par with.....Ajit Agarkar!

    Check the numbers. Warne's ODI avg 25.xx at an econ.rate of 4.25 is very, very good in my opinion for someone who played a lot of ODIs on those flat Aus ODI tracks. And yes, these numbers are a lot better than that of Agarkar (avg-28, econ.rate-5.07) since you mention it.

    This shows how Test success, even in this day and age, is what ultimately defines the reputation of a cricketer

    That's how it should be! If I were to judge a cricketer, I first look at his Test record, then his FC record. ONLY THEN his ODI record! How can you possibly take ODI records too seriously, where most bowlers can get wickets by just bowling good lines and lengths and inducing unforced errors. Even Chris Harris was a force in ODIs - someone who won't be chosen as a bowler by most Ranji sides!

    Let's face it. ODIs/T20s are a necessary evil. We have them mainly to subsidise the "real thing" which is Tests. [[ I would not look at ODIs/T20s as necessary evil. Too strong a statement to define a form of cricket, especially ODIs, in which all the top players of the past 40 years have done well. Once we ignore the period before 1971, can you think of one player who is a Test-only specialist. There have been many who have been ODI-only but not the other way around. I would consier your definition of necessary evil only to IPL-type matches, not even T20 Intls. Ananth: ]]

  • bharathi on April 25, 2011, 2:19 GMT

    where is Michael Bevan.he have played 232 ODI's for Australia at an average of 54.he should also been the above list.Even his test cricket is less (at an average of 30) compared to ODI he should be there in the list [[ Sometimes I wonder whether some of the readers read any of the articles before making their comments. Let us include Bevan with his 18 tests/790 runs/29.07 average in a group where the next batsman would have figures of 56 tests/4188 runs/45.0 average ??? Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 25, 2011, 2:16 GMT

    If Kumble had the same fielding support as Warne, and strong bowling at the other end, his avg/strike rate would be 10% better

    Kumble had fine fielding support, with the likes of Azhar and Dravid as good most people one can think of! India's ground fielding may not be too special. But we are talking Test matches here. When it comes to catching, Indians haven't been a poor side at all!

    Also, Kumble played a hell of a lot of home tests on pitches tailormade for him (especially in the 90s). Pitches that used to assist him from day 2 and sometimes even day 1. That wasn't often the case with Warne. He was generally not a very major strike force on the first couple of days of most home tests especially in venues like Perth. No wonder he was a bigger success against England on softer English pitches, than in Ashes tests at home.

    All things considered, he is ahead of Kumble by a fair margin.

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 0:49 GMT

    I say that the three most important cricketers from that period were Gilchrist, McGrath, and Warne. These two edge out even Ponting, Steve Waugh, etc.

    Why?

    Because if you could offer Australia the ability to resurrect any three cricketers from their dominant era, these are the three they would choose. That is because these three slots are where they are seeing the biggest vacuum. [[ Kartik You are on the dot. These three are the irreplaceables. Think of a similar situation for India. In a couple of years' time, which combination would we show as India's irreplaceables, Tendulkar/Dravid/Laxman/Kumble. Where are we going to be. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik (the old one) on April 25, 2011, 0:37 GMT

    I have to insist that Kumble was just as good of a bowler as Warne.

    Why?

    The delta between the avg/strike rates of the two can be wholly attributed to the vast difference in fielding competence between Australia and India. If Kumble had the same fielding support as Warne, and strong bowling at the other end, his avg/strike rate would be 10% better.

    Also, while this is a Test analysis, Warne's relatively middling ODI career is something few notice. His ODI stats are on par with.....Ajit Agarkar! Yes, go check out their ODI numbers. This shows how Test success, even in this day and age, is what ultimately defines the reputation of a cricketer.

    That is why years from now, Test experts like Langer, Gillespie and MacGill will be remembered more than ODI titans like Jones, Bevan, and Symonds.

  • rizwan on April 24, 2011, 18:19 GMT

    Re.Warne being over-rated , I do not agree.I think he was a top performer.

    Personally , I do not like Warne but one has to admire his skills ( on the field , not elsewhere !)

    Of course Shastri ,Salim Malik , Sidhu , Azhar ,Lara Tendulkar , Kambli , Dravid , Laxman,Ranathunga and Aravinda have given Warne a torrid time.I also shudder to think what someone like Gavaskar , Vishy , Zaheer Abbas ,Miandad,Viv Ricahards would have done to Warne.But , these were the exceptions to the rule and more often than not Warne got his man.

    The criticism levelled against Warne’s performance against India is not justified because even if all the best best bowlers (both living and dead, including Spotforth, Barnes , Grimett and Tiger O Reilley) were assebled and asked to bowl to a line up of Sehwag , Dravid , Tendulkar , Laxaman , Ganguly , Azhar, they would fail.So, let us not judge Warne too harshly.

    This may sound sacrilegious but I believe Warne on the field was superior to Murali [[ And, Rizwan, Warne's batting, nearly good enough to bat at no.7 and outstanding at 8. In your collection of the immortal bowlers to bowl at India, pl remove Barnes and Spofforth since we are only talking of leg-spinners here. They could be replaced by Mailey. Ananth: ]]

  • rizwan on April 24, 2011, 18:14 GMT

    Kudos for yet another fine article.

    Being a Sri Lankan , I hate to admit this , but the Aussies did dominate cricket like no other team before or since.the West Indians in the 80s fot all their glory did not win a series against Imran Khan's Pakis.The closest any one else came(or would have ) were the Proteas in the early 70s when they walloped the Aussies 4-0.

    Therefore , for sustained excellence in a team sport , no other team in the world can come close to the Aussies.Even Jordan's Bulls or Magic Johnson’s LA Lakers did not win more than 6 NBA titles.Even the New Zealand All BLACKS have won only one world cup todate.

    I doubt we will such excellence in the future.

  • Ananth on April 24, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    Patrick Border has since been included. Ananth

  • sarath on April 24, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    WI also drew a test series with India in 1987!! [[ I am not sure in what context this sentence has been made. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 24, 2011, 13:01 GMT

    Shrikanthk, i think the 75-76 Aus and the '79 WI would certainly be a match, with the latter favored. The '75-76 Aussies did not dominate for such a long period as the other two great teams.

    However, in 78-79, they did meet WI in the Packer series in WI, which was 1-1, and the Chappell brothers batted brilliantly. I have not seen any video footage of this, but would bet that the standard must have been very high. The Aussies lost a bit of shine after that as they lost 2-0 to the same WI team a bit later, in Australia. At the same time, Aus beat England 3-0, so were hardly off colour.

    The 75-76 WI team losing 5-1 must be put down to team strength delta in WI (2 quicks v/s 4) and the emergence of Viv Richards. He was promoted to opener in the last 2 tests and only then blossomed. So 1) would still rate 1979 WI higher than Aus 75-76 and 2) the 75-76 WI team was nowhere in the same league as WI 79.

    I bet the Chappells played the hook exceptionally well, else runs would have dried up.

  • sarath on April 24, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    waugh brothers,Langer,Ponting Gilchrist and Slater could not have achieved 100%. They were all part of side that lost Kolkata match [[ Hayden also played in that match. Hence that was a different combination. Do not forget that these are unique combinations. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 24, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    Pallab, very big difference between the hypothetical side i have assembled, and the one you are pointing out. Wayne Phillips would have been a superstar except that he was made into a wicket keeper and his batting went to the dogs. he was the one batsman apart from Gavaskar who i have seen hooking the WI pacemen. Gooch also played the short ball well, but had a "help on" kind of hook. But Gavaskar hooks forcefully, with a (surprisingly) wristy flamboyance, especially to Marshall bowling round the wicket. Wayne Phillips also hooks brilliantly in almost every innings. When we are talking hypothetically might as well make this hypotheses also - Phillips would be a pure batsman.

    Against bloodthirsty pacemen, hook shot the only one that matters.

    West Indies toured Pak in 1980 and 86. They were great series, despite Holding, Garner, Patterson missing out in '86, and Holding, Roberts in '80. WI won 1-0 and drew 1-1. '86 series was the wildest ever played (WI innings win after scoring 218).

  • Ashok Sridharan on April 24, 2011, 10:47 GMT

    Dear Mr. Ananth,

    Superb analysis and I must say it throws plenty of light on the factors that contributed to Australia's dominance through the 90s and the noughties.

    While I perfectly understand the reasoning behind you selection of period, I would nevertheless feel that the era of Australian dominance ended with the series against West Indies in early 2008. When you look at their results after that series, Australia lost to India, South Africa and England- the three top rated teams today. Their only series win against a strong opposition was the 2-1 win against South Africa. [[ I had checked this period carefully before including it. Australia played 25 tests (Test#1887 to 1957), won 13, drew 5 and lost 7. That works out to 62% on my table. Not as great as what was there before 2008 but nearly as good as the 1989-93 period. So you could say that these are the low performance curves at either end of the chosen period. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    It cannot be that Prasanna / Gibbs / et al did not wrack their brains for several years on how to spin the ball the other way

    Gerry: Beautifully said. Food for thought: BJT Bosanquet discovered the "googly" back in the early 1900s within 40 years of the legalisation of overarm bowling in 1864. Between 1905 and 1914, the "googly" was THE mystery ball fascinating cricket enthusiasts everywhere and mastered by the South Africans to the extent that they often fielded four googly bowlers (Vogler, Pegler, Faulkner and Schwartz) together in a Test series against England.

    But between 1914 and 1996, it didn't occur to anybody that an off-spinner can bowl his own version of the "googly" until the likes of Saqlain and Murali came along in the mid-90s!!!!! I find that VERY difficult to digest.

    My hypothesis : Everyone knew about the "Doosra" all along. But chose not to bowl it since they thought it wasn't a legit delivery!

    Enough said. Anyway, let's not digress :)

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    Ananth:Continuing on from the possible Indian Test batsmanship analysis by you from 1970- 2010, I forgot about Gambhir from 2008-2010 and also Sidhu’s substantial contributions in the 90s wins in India including the first Away win against Lanka in 1993 –and not the least setting fantastic platforms for Tendulkar by defanging Warne in the 1998 series. So the combination for the 90s could be Tendulkar-Azhar-Sidhu and Gambhir-Sehwag,Dravid,Tend-Laxman-Ganguly for the 2000s. Ananth:One more fact(perhaps you could check as Steve Lynch did not bother to answer the query I had sent long back) is that when Gambhir got his first 200 in the Delhi Test against OZ in 2008, the entire top 6 represented the first batting line-up in the post-War era (perhaps entire cricket history) to have scored 200 plus which again showcases the formidable class of Indian batsmanship and their influence (akin to that of the WI fast bowlers).

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Is this the same Gerry_the_Merry who has been lauding Gavaskar’s forgotten Test greatness (much like me) on other forums ?

    Gerry Merry: Boon, Border, Philips (as W/K) S. Waugh ( debut series), Reid, Hughes, McDermott did play against India with average performances in 1985-86, a series India should have won but for some shoddy umpiring and some bad batting while chasing in Melbourne. Hughes’ career already was on a freefall after giving up the captaincy against WI and doing poorly in 2 subsequent Tests as non-captain. Wessels anyways was loyal to SA. Only the absence of Carl Rackemann and Alderman who were playing in SA while the official series in OZ was on could perhaps have made the side better. The international careers of Rodney Hogg and Graham Yallop’s had already ended when they embarked on that mid-80 rebel tour.

  • Pawan Mathur on April 24, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    I suggest that while examining sides that dominated world cricket for an era, you should also make mention of those players who despite being talented did not get enough opportunities. For example, I have heard many commentators who played in the 80s say that Wayne Daniel and Sylvester Clarke could be all time greats if they got 60-70 tests. In the Australian teams examined, dont you think a player like Stuart Law was very unlucky not to get opportunities and if given enough chances he certainly was a 5000 runs man, Secondly, what do you think of captaincy's role in domination of WI and Aus in these respective eras, or was it so that Llyod, Richards, Taylor, Waugh were lucky to have XI world beaters at once ThanKs [[ I am sure the knowledgeable readers would mention of players who would have done will if given opportunities. The problem is that I already have 23 players to consider without bringing in Stuart Law., amongst others. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    The reason I made that previous comment on the '75-76 series was to illustrate the fact that WI were not necessarily harder to beat than the Aussies circa '2000! It's just that Aus happened to meet conditions and opposition worthy of beating them often enough in India.

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    A thought experiment :

    We all know G.Chappell's Aussies won 5-1 against WI in '75-76. The WI fan retorts by saying that their "Golden Age" had not yet begun then, conveniently forgetting that only months later they smashed England in England with Richards and Holding going berserk.

    Now, WHAT IF Lloyd's West Indians of '84 are pitted against Chappell's Aussies of '75-76 in Australia? Here are some differences between the '76 WI side and '84 WI side -

    - Marshall and Garner - Haynes for Fredericks - not a lot of difference there, except that Fred gives you an attacking left-right combo at the top. - Gomez for Kallicharan? - Now that doesn't seem like an improvement to me? - Walsh for Holder/ageing Gibbs - Dujon for Murray

    Have I missed out on anything?

    So, now. Does anyone here seriously believe that the '84 side would've comfortably defeated the '75-76 Aussies? I still think it would be a close contest which can go either way. We might have had a series as close as the one in 2001!

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    Ofcourse, India in Australia is a different cup of tea altogether. We never had bowlers good enough to win us a series there. We came close in '03-04 and '07 mainly because the Aussie attacks weren't too special either.

    Btw, I have to factor in McGrath/Warne's absence in '03-04. It would be unfair not to factor it in.

    The fact remains that both WI and Aus in their salad days had very fine sides. It's just that Aus were challenged more often than the WI. And they proved their mettle in slightly more challenging conditions. Aus' wins in '04 both in SL and India were enormous achievements against strong home sides. West Indies were never tested in the subcontinent to the same extent. (Old timers can inform me - Did WI tour Pak between '80 and '85?). I know they did in '88 when they drew 1-1. But then, I still think the Indian sides of early 2000s have superior batting lineups than the Pak sides of the 80s. Also, conditions in India of the late 90s/00s tested overseas batsmen a lot more.

  • Patrick Clarke on April 24, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    Border must be included. He was the captain for 5 years in this period and his influence spread far beyond the runs he scored. He set the benchmark for others to equal and surpass. Alderman too deserves inclusion. He had a great impact in the '89 Ashes which was the precursor to the phenomenal success of Australian sides from then on. [[ Aldermann captured only 70 wickets after 1989. Border probably esrves consideration even though this comprises only a third of his career. Let me see. At least he scored nearly 3400 runs at just below 50. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    Is there a penchant perhaps to overstate OZ’s case whenever they lose?

    I'm only being fair to them. The two series in which India clearly had the better of Australia were in 1998 and 2001 - both held in India. I would argue that both those Indian sides were very, very good. Decent bowling sides in Indian conditions and extremely formidable batting units. Most sides in Test history (be it Lloyd's West Indians or Bradman/Chappell's Aussies) might have struggled against Azhar/Ganguly's XIs on turning tracks (with huge, intensely partisan crowds bolstering the home team's challenge).

    I'm sure many will agree that I am not exaggerating the virtues of those Indian XIs. You can talk about Lloyd's WI steamrolling India in the mid-80s. But those were different times. From what I've heard, pitches used to be a lot flatter. Moreover, India didn't have spinners anywhere near as good as Bhajji or Kumble to exploit turning tracks! Most importantly, our batting was a lot weaker then.

  • Bhargav Mitra on April 24, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Why is Darren Lehmann not in this list? He played 27 test in this period, with a close to 45 batting average, and was a batsman of high standards, with good contribution towards Australia's test series wins in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India as well? [[ 1800 at 45 is not enough. The batting cut-offs are much higher. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 24, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Also agree that the Doosra is not strictly a legitimate delivery. If one were to strictly apply standards of the pre-Murali / Akhtar age, plenty of action remodelling would be triggered. The Doosra is celebrated in Pepsi ads etc, and is now part of the redefined standards. It cannot be that Bedi / Prasanna / Gibbs / Underwood did not wrack their brains for several years on how to spin the ball the other way. It is only the fear of being called / inclination to conservatively interpret what is legitimate that must have shackled them.

    But that is not to deny the entertainment Murali and Akhtar provided, which was top class.

    Hence greater credit to Warne and Kumble for posting such great numbers.

  • shalan on April 24, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    I wonder what's in store for Aussies once Ponting, Hussey and Katich all aged 36 retires in a year or two [[ Probably more in strore for India when Laxman/Dravid/Tendulkar retire. Australia still has a strong domestic structure. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 24, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Also cannot help thinking that but for the rebel tours, the '85 Aussie line up would have been formidable - Wessels, Wayne Phillips, Boon, Border, Jones, Hughes (batsmen), Lawson, Reid, Hughes, McDermott + WK (Zoehrer?). Aussie domination would have started sooner with this team.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on April 24, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    Another great analysis. Interesting reader comments about Warne. Numbers dont do justice to his ability to exert massive mental pressure on batsmen. Or his lion hearted fighting abilities (Cape Town 2002 test was absolutely unforgettable, bowling non-stop the entire day - a "Grass Crown" performance).

    Massive variations in the bowling averages across the combinations. Clearly, even within this elite group, the creme de la creme was the McGrath + Warne + (Gillespie / McGill / Lee / McDermott). Man to man perhaps the WI attack was better, but in the modern age, this is the best by a margin. The closest i have seen in the last 15 years is the 2005 England attack. The Australian batsmen, including Ponting, did not come out smelling like roses, though among that sorry lot, Ponting was the best.

    Would love to see analysis of batting performances against elite v/s other attacks (grouped like this, plus WI / Pak) - bet there will be big surprises. [[ Yes, good idea. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    “your analysis of the 1989-1998 period shows that they were a middling rather than a dominating Test team” Middling? Then what adjective would one use to describe genuinely "middling" teams of the 90s like New Zealand and Sri Lanka?

    Shri, I meant purely in the context of comparing with absolutely dominating WI 1980s vintage and OZ 1999-2008 vintage Test teams (the year OZ lost to SA at home).

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    and 2001- which supposedly kept Warne and his weak shoulder fresh to challenge the Indians in 2004 without having overbowled during the OZ home season as also the quicks McGrath and Gillespie. McGrath was the only bowler who had a stranglehold on all the Indian batsmen bar none (though Sehwag did thrash him in 2004 in the first 3 Tests) I could have worded the statement a little better. I meant the pop-gun attacks in the away series in 1991 and 1999 in OZ and weak-kneed batsmen Manjrekar, Azhar,Vengsarkar,Sidhu/Srikanth in 1991 and then inexperienced trio of Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly with poor openers in 1999. There is absolutely no doubting India’s classy and world-beating batting line-ups and their performance during 2003 and 2007 OZ tours.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    Shri,Why, according to you does any Aus unit have to be full strength whenever they win or conversely credit taken away from teams when they win against OZ( with some members not being there) which unequivocally ACCORDING to you had its Golden Age beginning from 1989? If so, why should so called weakened bowling attacks of OZ matter then? In every series away since 1991 in OZ, India had weakened or poor attacks (with injuries to Zaheer, Bhaji though his form was always iffy in OZ). Warne’s presence against India in 2003-04 in OZ would hardly have been decisive and Gillespie, McGill and Lee (3 of Ananth’s 21 listed Aussie greats) still played. In fact, it is a wonder that India managed to take off 2 Tests against them in the 2000s in Australia with average attacks (barring Kumble’s presence). There was a theory going around that OZ conquered the last frontier in 2004 in India only cos they undertook the series at the start of their season as against end of the seasons in 1998 CONTD.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    “having lost to WI both at home and abroad - albeit narrowly in '91 and '92). In 2001, yes - the Indians did admittedly well against a full-strength Aussie unit in a series that could have gone either way.” Shrikanth : Is there a penchant perhaps to overstate OZ’s case whenever they lose? “Lose narrowly to WI in 91-92 and then India winning admittedly in a series in 2001 which could have gone either way.” In the same manner even the 2004 series in India which Aus won also could have won either way as India seemed well placed to win the rained-off Chennai Test (and subsequently draw 1-1) and then Ganguly allegedly chickening out in Nagpur to swing the series their way. In 2001, India’s bowling attack lacked teeth with a wild card pick by Ganguly singlehandedly being decisive as a bowler-Harbhajan when trump card Kumble was injured.

  • Ananth on April 24, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Shrikant/Russ, Reiffel and Hughes have been added and the re-formed groups shown. Ananth

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    Sobers has called Subhash Gupte as the best leg-spinner of all time

    Where does that leave Warne, Bill O'Reilly, Grimmett, Kumble? Bowlers with records distinctly superior to Gupte's.

    Sobers may be the greatest cricketer of all time. But hardly the greatest pundit or theorist on the game!

    Even Richie Benaud, Gupte's contemporary, has a better record than Subhas!

    And yes. Even Gupte was collared by good batsmen in his time. Neil Harvey for instance.

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    Running webs around leaden-footed English and South African batsmen [or badly disciplined 2000s era Sri Lankan (circa 2004 series in SL) and Pakistani batsmen] don’t make for an all-time great spinner

    You have very high standards! Tell me, how many spinners in post War cricket history have averaged less than 26 for more than 200 Test wickets? There are only four names I can think of - Warne, Murali, Underwood and Laker. Underwood and Laker, however, had the benefit of bowling on highly favourable sticky wickets.

    And yes. Many out here may not like it. But you cannot judge offspinners post 90s by the same standards we apply for other spinners. The "Doosra" has made a huge difference to the effectiveness of the finger spinner. And that's a delivery most off-spinners in cricket history would not have dared to bowl for fear of being called for throwing!

    There can be no fair comparison between say a Prasanna and a Murali for precisely this reason.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    By the way, what is your public domain email add? [[ ananth.itfigures@gmail.com. But not checked often enough. Hence the personal comments can also take this route. This reaches me instantly. And I am the one who vets these comments. So you can post what you want. Copy to the other mailid. Ananth: ]]

    P.S.Yes, agree to your first statement ..hehe..your Caribbean bowlers blog is now the sleeper hit gaining amazing popularity thru word of mouth long after publishing date (release!) and that too after moving off the main home page. Ananth, I suggest that if you own the copyright of both these write-ups, please push them to some other forums/portals and even print publications too-they deserve a large readership and hits apart from exhausting critiquing and feedback.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 3:48 GMT

    be looked to be included in the combinations. In the 70s, India won against WI, Eng, NZ away and just narrowly lost to OZ 2-3 in 1977-78(against a second XI) and 1-2 against WI in 1976 (famous chase) and won at home against NZ, Pak, WI, OZ (last 2 admittedly weak cos of Packer) Eng. In the 80s, I remember a Sportstar (or Sportworld?) article pointing out the immense batting prowess of India racking up 300 plus scores regularly against OZ, Pak, Eng, SL during a brief golden period and resulting in many draws (the Gavaskar philosophy of next best result cos of totally impotent bowling attacks). Then from the 90s onward till 2010, the batting has been setting up wins (of course only at home in the 90s) for average bowling attacks. In fact, this could be a fascinating blog about the amazing gharana of Indian Test batsmanship and thru a 40 year period!

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    Anantha, since this is the only forum to get in touch with you and that after the last 2 fascinating long -era blogs, you might need some rest! I have been mulling over the performance of Indian Test batting greats(or some very good) as different combinations right from the 1970s to 2010. If you discount their actual influence on matches (wins or draws which in itself is actually substantial and creditworthy), then it is worth looking at Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Vengsarkar (Wadekar maybe? and M. Amarnath briefly ) in the 70s , Gavaskar, Veng, Amarnath, Azhar in the 80s, Tendulkar, Azhar in the 90s,Sehwag, Dravid, SRT, Laxman and Ganguly (never a Test great but with highly creditable performances after his comeback in 2006 against all top-rated teams barring Lanka and maintaining an average of almost 50 in the competitive 90s along with SRT, S Waugh –only these 2 crossed 50 in Test averages- and Dravid! Shastri too did very well as an opener against WI, OZ, Pak and Eng all away! and can

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    This is extremely creditable on the part of India with its pop-up gun bowling attacks of the 90s, weak-kneed abroad-playing batsmen

    I disagree. India in '98 and '01 had very good bowling attacks for Indian conditions (Srinath and Kumble - who was always dynamite on Indian pitches).

    "Week Kneed batsmen"? : The team that challenged Australia so well in '04 was a brilliant batting lineup - as strong as it gets!

    Make no mistake. The Indian teams that challenged Australia so well in '98, '01 and '03-04 were very good sides if one factors in the conditions in which the games were played. They would've definitely challenged the WI sides of the 80s! Also, in two of those three series, Australia was not at full-strength, as previously noted.

  • shrikanthk on April 24, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    your analysis of the 1989-1998 period shows that they were a middling rather than a dominating Test team

    Pallab: Middling? Then what adjective would one use to describe genuinely "middling" teams of the 90s like New Zealand and Sri Lanka?

    statistics don’t reveal a lot of things and India’s superlative performance against OZ during their real golden period

    In '98, they were up against a weakened Aus side lacking McGrath, Gillespie. In 2001, yes - the Indians did admittedly well against a full-strength Aussie unit in a series that could have gone either way. In 2003-04, again it was an Aussie unit without McGrath and Warne. In 2004, they lost at home to a full strength Aussie side.

    By the same token, we can also talk about WI in '75-76 - trounced by G.Chappell's Australians 5-1. A side that had most of the giants from the early 80s barring Marshall/Garner.

    And yes. As you noted WI never had it easy against Pak even in the 80s.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    Ananth, from what I remember you saying in last blog, yes the line up of Slater Hayden Langer M Waugh S Waugh Ponting and Gilchrist certainly represented a better middle than WI team of 80s. It’s a pity though that Waqar and Wasim never played in settled or well-led Pakistani teams or they would have been the most potent and definitely more exciting bowling combination in Test history (though Walsh-Ambrose were not far off).

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    This is extremely creditable on the part of India with its pop-up gun bowling attacks of the 90s, weak-kneed abroad-playing batsmen (barring supreme talent Tendulkar in both those OZ tours) and disjointed and badly-led teams (1991-92 and 1999).I am sure the Pakistanis feel the same way too about the non-dominance of WI team of the 80s as the Pakistani team never keeled over to them and in fact almost DOMINATED them in 3 series! This compared to the battering of OZ, English and Indian teams by WI during that period. As someone rightly mentioned (Sidhu?) that statistics don’t reveal a lot of things and India’s superlative performance against OZ during their real golden period is noteworthy and praiseworthy.

  • Leena Khan on April 24, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    I am surprised at the omission of Border, the architect of the Australian revival in the late 1980's. Can you explain your reasons for leaving out Border in some details ? Thanks. [[ It has already been explained in the article. Out of the 11000+ runs Border had scored in his career he had scored over 8000 before the cut-off. Hence his contribution after the cut-off was minimal. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:21 GMT

    Anantha, also as I have mentioned in your last blog, your analysis of the 1989-1998 period shows that they were a middling rather than a dominating Test team cos of the presence of WI and a highly competitive Pakistan. Also, having watched almost the entire OZ era (allowing for Indian cable/satellite beginning coverage post 1995), I still never felt the awe about any of these Aussie teams apart from admiring individual players like Taylor, Slater, McDermott (childhood era of mid-80s when he made his debut) as India went head-to head with these era teams from 1996 onwards (beginning with Delhi one-off Test and barring the 1999 series brown wash). I want to point out an AMAZING statistical highlight of your entire enlisted period to buttress this fact about India : OZ won 14 Tests against India to India’s 12 and if you use 1996 as the start date, then it is India winning 12 to OZ just 10 and this during their most dominating period!

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:15 GMT

    Let’s not even talk about the Indian batting greats and not so great like Sidhu, Kambli ( briefly) who have collared and mastered him thru the 90s and the noughties (Indian batsmen are too submissive or gentlemanly to make bombastic comments in public about Warne being over-rated). Yeah he “cut swathes thru which countries’” batmen we know. Running webs around leaden-footed English and South African batsmen [or badly disciplined 2000s era Sri Lankan (circa 2004 series in SL) and Pakistani batsmen] don’t make for an all-time great spinner .By the way, Graham Gooch has rated Abdul Qadir as the greater and more allround leg-spinner and Sobers has called Subhash Gupte as the best leg-spinner of all time. Warne’s overwhelming persona (admittedly he did bring spin bowling to the fore again), Ashes successes (there you go again for the Friths and Wisdens for whom only Ashes battles matter!) have blinded many cricket analysts and fans. [[ Yes, I agree, Warne does not endear himself to many. But a bowler supreme, he was. Qadir might have been the better classicazl off-spinner. But let us give Warne his due credit. For 15 years he was right on top and helped Australia stay on top. I would ignore many of the comments you have talked about. Ranatunga was returning the Australian lack of respect for Murali. Let us not also turn this article into a Warne-Murali type of article. Let us stick to the Australians. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    Anantha, comprehensive in-depth analysis, should be an eye opener for future historians and back to back blogs too of 2 different Test dominating entities (WI being an entity). However, I am glad that you have mentioned that the 21 players covered are great Australian players and not all all-time greats. For me, only 5 viz. S Waugh, Ponting , McGrath, Gilchrist and Warne (marginally so) were all-time greats. Warne has publicly been called over-rated by Arjuna Ranatunga , Salim Malik, Aravinda de Silva- all masterful players of spin. The combative and canny Ranatunga deliberately attacked Warne in that high-stakes 1996 World Cup final (knowing full well about a vast television viewing audience) to walk the talk. Alleged math-fixer Malik was only done in once by supreme sledger and gamesmanship wizard Warne (accused himself of hob-nobbing with bookies) in the return series in OZ in 1995-96.

  • Russ on April 24, 2011, 1:09 GMT

    Anantha, I'm somewhat ambivalent on including the period prior to 1993 where Australia was good, but not dominant, but having included it, I don't understand why you'd exclude Merv Hughes, who took almost 200 wickets at a nearly identical average, strike-rate and economy-rate as McDermott? [[ Russ, Probably Shrikanth has anticipated your question and answered it himself. Yes, I agree Hughes should have been there. It won't be too difficult for me to include Hughes and change the Bowler combination tables. Give me today to do this. Ananth: ]]

  • vipin garg on April 23, 2011, 21:01 GMT

    well, a brilliant analysis. I feel mcgrawth was the most important bowler in that aussie line up and his ankle twisting gave a chance to england to come back in ashes 2005.england couldn't win a non dead rubber ashes test for quite a long time when mcgrawth was around.warne was of course a magician but even mcgill performed brilliantly in the same period. off the topic, u mentioned teams are going to dominate for 2-3years but i feel no team is going to dominate in next few years.India South Africa series was prime example of that.both teams won a test each handsomely both home and away.U can't say that about a top team.A dominant team would nt lose by an innings on home soil.

  • shrikanthk on April 23, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    The one question I anticipate from most readers -

    "Was the period from '89 to '95 a part of the Australian Golden Age?"

    I would say - a resounding yes. Perhaps they were not always the best side in the World during that period (having lost to WI both at home and abroad - albeit narrowly in '91 and '92). But definitely a side that won more often than it lost. WI were sliding down. By '95 they even lost to England in England. The baton had well and truly been passed.

    The only reason why the Aus teams from '89 to '95 have a lower success rate than the later Aussie teams is because they had to contend with significantly stronger WI (and Pak?) sides. [[ !!! You seem to have anticipated Russ's comment. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 23, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    Ananth: Fine analysis. However, I think you should've included two more bowlers - Paul Reiffel and Bruce Reid - unsung heroes who played a role in the Australian resurgence.

    Reid was a remarkable success in the 1990 Ashes which Australia retained (27 wickets at 16 runs a piece)

    Paul Reiffel helped Australia win the Ashes again in '93 (19 wickets at 21 a piece) and more importantly was one of the leading architects of the epoch-making win against WI in '95 in the absence of McDermott (15 wickets at 18 a piece).

    Both Reiffel and Reid have career bowling averages better than that of Craig McDermott!! [[ Shri, Reid captured only 49 wickets after the cut-off, similar to Alderman. So he cannot really be included in the analysis. He made very little impact after 1992. Reiffel is worthy of consideration. Let me see what can be done. It may only be additions to the Player group tables. Ananth: ]]

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  • shrikanthk on April 23, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    Ananth: Fine analysis. However, I think you should've included two more bowlers - Paul Reiffel and Bruce Reid - unsung heroes who played a role in the Australian resurgence.

    Reid was a remarkable success in the 1990 Ashes which Australia retained (27 wickets at 16 runs a piece)

    Paul Reiffel helped Australia win the Ashes again in '93 (19 wickets at 21 a piece) and more importantly was one of the leading architects of the epoch-making win against WI in '95 in the absence of McDermott (15 wickets at 18 a piece).

    Both Reiffel and Reid have career bowling averages better than that of Craig McDermott!! [[ Shri, Reid captured only 49 wickets after the cut-off, similar to Alderman. So he cannot really be included in the analysis. He made very little impact after 1992. Reiffel is worthy of consideration. Let me see what can be done. It may only be additions to the Player group tables. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on April 23, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    The one question I anticipate from most readers -

    "Was the period from '89 to '95 a part of the Australian Golden Age?"

    I would say - a resounding yes. Perhaps they were not always the best side in the World during that period (having lost to WI both at home and abroad - albeit narrowly in '91 and '92). But definitely a side that won more often than it lost. WI were sliding down. By '95 they even lost to England in England. The baton had well and truly been passed.

    The only reason why the Aus teams from '89 to '95 have a lower success rate than the later Aussie teams is because they had to contend with significantly stronger WI (and Pak?) sides. [[ !!! You seem to have anticipated Russ's comment. Ananth: ]]

  • vipin garg on April 23, 2011, 21:01 GMT

    well, a brilliant analysis. I feel mcgrawth was the most important bowler in that aussie line up and his ankle twisting gave a chance to england to come back in ashes 2005.england couldn't win a non dead rubber ashes test for quite a long time when mcgrawth was around.warne was of course a magician but even mcgill performed brilliantly in the same period. off the topic, u mentioned teams are going to dominate for 2-3years but i feel no team is going to dominate in next few years.India South Africa series was prime example of that.both teams won a test each handsomely both home and away.U can't say that about a top team.A dominant team would nt lose by an innings on home soil.

  • Russ on April 24, 2011, 1:09 GMT

    Anantha, I'm somewhat ambivalent on including the period prior to 1993 where Australia was good, but not dominant, but having included it, I don't understand why you'd exclude Merv Hughes, who took almost 200 wickets at a nearly identical average, strike-rate and economy-rate as McDermott? [[ Russ, Probably Shrikanth has anticipated your question and answered it himself. Yes, I agree Hughes should have been there. It won't be too difficult for me to include Hughes and change the Bowler combination tables. Give me today to do this. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    Anantha, comprehensive in-depth analysis, should be an eye opener for future historians and back to back blogs too of 2 different Test dominating entities (WI being an entity). However, I am glad that you have mentioned that the 21 players covered are great Australian players and not all all-time greats. For me, only 5 viz. S Waugh, Ponting , McGrath, Gilchrist and Warne (marginally so) were all-time greats. Warne has publicly been called over-rated by Arjuna Ranatunga , Salim Malik, Aravinda de Silva- all masterful players of spin. The combative and canny Ranatunga deliberately attacked Warne in that high-stakes 1996 World Cup final (knowing full well about a vast television viewing audience) to walk the talk. Alleged math-fixer Malik was only done in once by supreme sledger and gamesmanship wizard Warne (accused himself of hob-nobbing with bookies) in the return series in OZ in 1995-96.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:15 GMT

    Let’s not even talk about the Indian batting greats and not so great like Sidhu, Kambli ( briefly) who have collared and mastered him thru the 90s and the noughties (Indian batsmen are too submissive or gentlemanly to make bombastic comments in public about Warne being over-rated). Yeah he “cut swathes thru which countries’” batmen we know. Running webs around leaden-footed English and South African batsmen [or badly disciplined 2000s era Sri Lankan (circa 2004 series in SL) and Pakistani batsmen] don’t make for an all-time great spinner .By the way, Graham Gooch has rated Abdul Qadir as the greater and more allround leg-spinner and Sobers has called Subhash Gupte as the best leg-spinner of all time. Warne’s overwhelming persona (admittedly he did bring spin bowling to the fore again), Ashes successes (there you go again for the Friths and Wisdens for whom only Ashes battles matter!) have blinded many cricket analysts and fans. [[ Yes, I agree, Warne does not endear himself to many. But a bowler supreme, he was. Qadir might have been the better classicazl off-spinner. But let us give Warne his due credit. For 15 years he was right on top and helped Australia stay on top. I would ignore many of the comments you have talked about. Ranatunga was returning the Australian lack of respect for Murali. Let us not also turn this article into a Warne-Murali type of article. Let us stick to the Australians. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:21 GMT

    Anantha, also as I have mentioned in your last blog, your analysis of the 1989-1998 period shows that they were a middling rather than a dominating Test team cos of the presence of WI and a highly competitive Pakistan. Also, having watched almost the entire OZ era (allowing for Indian cable/satellite beginning coverage post 1995), I still never felt the awe about any of these Aussie teams apart from admiring individual players like Taylor, Slater, McDermott (childhood era of mid-80s when he made his debut) as India went head-to head with these era teams from 1996 onwards (beginning with Delhi one-off Test and barring the 1999 series brown wash). I want to point out an AMAZING statistical highlight of your entire enlisted period to buttress this fact about India : OZ won 14 Tests against India to India’s 12 and if you use 1996 as the start date, then it is India winning 12 to OZ just 10 and this during their most dominating period!

  • Leena Khan on April 24, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    I am surprised at the omission of Border, the architect of the Australian revival in the late 1980's. Can you explain your reasons for leaving out Border in some details ? Thanks. [[ It has already been explained in the article. Out of the 11000+ runs Border had scored in his career he had scored over 8000 before the cut-off. Hence his contribution after the cut-off was minimal. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    This is extremely creditable on the part of India with its pop-up gun bowling attacks of the 90s, weak-kneed abroad-playing batsmen (barring supreme talent Tendulkar in both those OZ tours) and disjointed and badly-led teams (1991-92 and 1999).I am sure the Pakistanis feel the same way too about the non-dominance of WI team of the 80s as the Pakistani team never keeled over to them and in fact almost DOMINATED them in 3 series! This compared to the battering of OZ, English and Indian teams by WI during that period. As someone rightly mentioned (Sidhu?) that statistics don’t reveal a lot of things and India’s superlative performance against OZ during their real golden period is noteworthy and praiseworthy.

  • Pallab on April 24, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    Ananth, from what I remember you saying in last blog, yes the line up of Slater Hayden Langer M Waugh S Waugh Ponting and Gilchrist certainly represented a better middle than WI team of 80s. It’s a pity though that Waqar and Wasim never played in settled or well-led Pakistani teams or they would have been the most potent and definitely more exciting bowling combination in Test history (though Walsh-Ambrose were not far off).