August 17, 2011

Test-series performances: the top bowlers

A statistical analysis of the best bowling performances in a Test series

Richard Hadlee: 33 wickets in just three Tests against Australia in 1985 © Getty Images

I have embarked on a major project. This has been triggered by a few comments on performance of all-rounders in series. I have extended the scope of the same and will cover, over three articles, the performance of batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders in series. I am aware that Cricinfo statistics section gives you an insight into the runs scored and wickets captured in Test series. However those are raw numbers and also do not show the results by series types. Even Statsguru might not provide that. What I intend to do is to weight the individual player performances in series with various relevant parameters. It is necessary to recognize where players performed (home or away), how did the performance measure against those of the other bowlers, what were the quality of wickets captured, was there a critical series situation et al. That would let us judge performances at their true worth.

My previous article was on the batting performances in series. Now I look at the bowling performances in Test series. The wickets captured are weighted by the following factors.

1. Where the series was played: Home, away or neutral locations. Instead of penalizing home performances I have left the home wickets at no additional weight and weighted wickets captured at neutral locations at 5% and away at 10%. One could raise endless queries on the subjectivity or not of these weights. However there is no better solution on offer. As far as bowler friendly tracks are concerned, the visiting bowlers might get the extra weight, playing away, but will lose out on the Pitch type. And vice versa.

2. Series situation: I leave the other Tests as they are. An additional weight of 5% is given for the deciders only. As far as I am concerned there is no dead rubber Test. Over the past 10 years every Test is important, because of Test Rankings. The Oval Test, technically, is a dead rubber. However, for England there is a chance to widen the gap at the top and effect a 4-0 whitewash, for India the no.2 rank is at stake and the chance to finish the series at a respectable 1-3 instead of a humiliating 0-4. So the idea of dead rubber will remain only in the minds of some cricket followers/analysts, not with this analyst. Readers should not forget that if India had taken the challenge of 70-plus runs at run-a-ball against West Indies in the last Test, the no.1 position would never have come up for grabs and might have needed a 3/4 match difference.

3. Quality of wickets captured: This is best explained with the following example. Which performance is better. This happened in the Pakistan first innings of last year's Edgbaston Test (Test # 1972).

Anderson 14.3 6 20 4.
S. Broad 17.0 7 38 4.
Without further information, Anderson's looks much better. Well, you will change your mind if I say that Anderson captured the wickets of Shoaib Malik, Md. Aamer, Umar Gul and Md. Asif, a poor collection indeed. Broad captured the wickets of Imran Farhat, Azhar Ali, Umar Amin and Z Haider, a much better collection of batsmen.

This is done by determining the quality of wickets captured. In two ways: The first is the position of the batsman (it is very important to capture top wickets) and the second is the batting average of the dismissed batsman (equally important to dismiss the better batsmen). The weight ranges from 75% to 150%. The range is quite wide since the situations vary very considerably. I have got the weight for this measure go below 100 so that low order and lesser batsmen's wickets count less.

To weight at a higher level, the dismissal of a specific batsman (because of his beyond-the-zone performance) against a specific team, a la Laxman against Australia, is a great idea, suggested by my tough editor, but is too complicated and beyond the scope of this exercise. It would have more value in Bowling performance rating analysis.

4. Pitch type: This is determined by the Runs per Wicket value for the match. This value ranges from 10 to 100 and the weight ranges from 80% (for 10) to 120 (100). Here also I have got the weight for this measure to go below 100 so that wickets captured on seaming/spinning bowler-friendly tracks are weighted less and on flat tracks, weighted more.

5. Bowler's average vs Teams' series average: This is a completely new measure which has been introduced based on the readers' comments for the batsmen article. The ratio between the series bowling average (for both teams) and Bower bowling average is worked out. This ranges from 0.94 (for the considered 25-wickets plus performances. Can go way down for others) to 3.32 (the bowler out-performs his compatriots by 3-plus times). The weighting ranges from 0.99 to 1.33. I have used the average for both teams rather than for the bowler's team since I felt that would be a correct comparison, incorporating some form of peer performance concept.

The overall effort is that the runs scored in each innings are weighted by the five factors leading to an overall weighting ranging from a theoretical low of around 75% to a theoretical high of 200%. However these are theoretical values and in practice, the range is from 90% to 130%. Stray spells might be weighted down or more. The results are, to say the least, stunning. The true value of bowler performances in series unfolds before us.

The other decision I have taken is that the performances in a series is not going to be influenced by the number of Tests played. Whether a player was dropped or injured is outside the purview of this analysis. A 6-Test series is what it says, whether 4 or 5 Tests were played by a player. The other point is that a series has to have a minimum of 3 Tests to be included in this analysis. Also, the three Triangular tournaments, the 1912 one and the two Asian Championships are not included. This is because these are not bi-lateral series.

The tables are shown for 6, 5, 4 and 3 Test series. These are ordered on the base information, which is the wickets captured. The weighting factor and weighted wickets are also shown. Later in the article similar tables are shown, this time ordered on the weighted wickets. I have stayed away from superfluous information, at least for this analysis, of bowling averages (used however), best bowling, 5/10 wicket hauls et al. When someone captures 30 wickets in a 3/4/5 Test series, it really does not matter whether the average was 15 or 20. At the end I have also shown the top 5 and bottom 5, in terms of weighting, of the wickets captured table (over 500 runs).

First the 6-Test series table. Those who have captured 33 wickets in the series have been shown.

232 1981 ENG-Aus Alderman T.M      (Aus) 21.26 6 42 1.034 43.4
296 1989 ENG-Aus Alderman T.M      (Aus) 17.37 6 41 1.289 52.8
213 1978 AUS-Eng Hogg R.M          (Aus) 12.85 6 41 0.988 40.5
244 1982 PAK-Ind Imran Khan        (Pak) 13.95 6 40 1.257 50.3
232 1981 ENG-Aus Lillee D.K        (Aus) 22.31 6 39 1.109 43.3
382 1997 ENG-Aus McGrath G.D       (Aus) 19.47 6 36 1.066 38.4
331 1993 ENG-Aus Warne S.K         (Aus) 25.79 6 34 1.180 40.1
232 1981 ENG-Aus Botham I.T        (Eng) 20.59 6 34 0.940 32.0
250 1983 IND-Win Marshall M.D      (Win) 18.82 6 33 1.206 39.8
190 1974 AUS-Eng Thomson J.R       (Aus) 17.94 6 33 1.114 36.8

This table is dominated by Australian bowlers, with two stunning performances by Alderman leading. The later performance by Alderman was more devastating with more top order dismissals. An interesting fact is that 19 out of 41 dismissals were leg-before dismissals. Imran's is the stand-out performance on the sub-continental feather-beds. The 6-Test series were primarily the domain of Australia and England.

Now the 5-Test series table. Those who have captured 35 wickets in the series have been shown.

37 1913 SAF-Eng Barnes S.F        (Eng) 10.94 5 49 1.111 54.4
108 1956 ENG-Aus Laker J.C         (Eng)  9.61 5 46 1.091 50.2
65 1935 SAF-Aus Grimmett C.V      (Aus) 14.59 5 44 1.120 49.3
526 2005 ENG-Aus Warne S.K         (Aus) 19.92 5 40 1.121 44.8
96 1953 ENG-Aus Bedser A.V        (Eng) 17.49 5 39 1.035 40.4
43 1924 AUS-Eng Tate M.W          (Eng) 23.18 5 38 1.147 43.6
34 1910 AUS-Saf Whitty W.J        (Aus) 17.08 5 37 1.026 38.0
111 1956 SAF-Eng Tayfield H.J      (Saf) 17.19 5 37 0.918 34.0
38 1920 AUS-Eng Mailey A.A        (Aus) 26.28 5 36 1.034 37.2
33 1910 SAF-Eng Vogler A.E.E      (Saf) 21.75 5 36 0.959 34.5
289 1988 ENG-Win Marshall M.D      (Win) 12.66 5 35 1.192 41.7
177 1972 IND-Eng Chandrasekhar B.S (Ind) 18.91 5 35 0.946 33.1

Barnes' record will stand forever. There are going to be very few 5-Test series and even in these, one bowler capturing half the wickets that fall is never going to happen. Laker almost beat that record. The stand-out modern performance is that of Warne in the 2005 Ashes series, with 40 wickets.

Next the 4-Test series table. Those who have captured 25 wickets in the series have been shown.

84 1950 ENG-Win Valentine A.L     (Win) 20.42 4 33 1.134 37.4
410 1999 WIN-Aus McGrath G.D       (Aus) 16.93 4 30 1.092 32.7
496 2003 SAF-Win Ntini M           (Saf) 21.38 4 29 1.168 33.9
91 1952 ENG-Ind Trueman F.S       (Eng) 13.31 4 29 1.057 30.6
263 1985 WIN-Nzl Marshall M.D      (Win) 18.00 4 27 1.091 29.4
509 2004 IND-Aus Kumble A          (Ind) 25.37 4 27 0.998 27.0
282 1987 IND-Win Walsh C.A         (Win) 16.81 4 26 1.109 28.8
169 1970 SAF-Aus Procter M.J       (Saf) 13.58 4 26 1.084 28.2
84 1950 ENG-Win Ramadhin S        (Win) 23.23 4 26 1.073 27.9
410 1999 WIN-Aus Walsh C.A         (Win) 20.73 4 26 0.962 25.0
157 1967 AUS-Ind Prasanna E.A.S    (Ind) 27.44 4 25 1.052 26.3

The 4-Test series are the poor cousins. Not many and even the performances are average. Valentine, on his first tour of England, leads the table. McGrath's 1999 Caribbean performance is the modern classic. An unlikely bowler, Ntini, is next. It will be of interest to note that this was Kumble's only 25-plus wicket capture in a series.

Let us now see the 3-Test series table. Those who have captured 25 wickets in the series have been shown.

19 1896 SAF-Eng Lohmann G.A       (Eng)  5.80 3 35 1.080 37.8
267 1985 AUS-Nzl Hadlee R.J        (Nzl) 12.15 3 33 1.241 41.0
440 2001 IND-Aus Harbhajan Singh   (Ind) 17.03 3 32 1.164 37.2
459 2001 SLK-Zim Muralitharan M    (Slk)  9.80 3 30 1.182 35.4
283 1987 PAK-Eng Abdul Qadir       (Pak) 14.57 3 30 1.025 30.7
306 1990 PAK-Nzl Waqar Younis      (Pak) 10.86 3 29 0.976 28.3
499 2004 SLK-Aus Muralitharan M    (Slk) 23.18 3 28 1.036 29.0
335 1993 PAK-Zim Waqar Younis      (Pak) 13.81 3 27 0.950 25.6
494 2003 SLK-Eng Muralitharan M    (Slk) 12.31 3 26 1.210 31.4
499 2004 SLK-Aus Warne S.K         (Aus) 20.04 3 26 1.101 28.6
455 2001 SLK-Win Vaas WPUJC        (Slk) 15.42 3 26 1.058 27.5
430 2000 SLK-Saf Muralitharan M    (Slk) 18.46 3 26 1.056 27.5
571 2008 SLK-Ind Mendis B.A.W      (Slk) 18.38 3 26 1.050 27.3
423 2000 PAK-Slk Muralitharan M    (Slk) 19.85 3 26 1.044 27.1
554 2007 SLK-Bng Muralitharan M    (Slk) 10.85 3 26 1.029 26.7
30 1907 ENG-Saf Blythe C          (Eng) 10.38 3 26 0.977 25.4
339 1994 NZL-Pak Wasim Akram       (Pak) 17.24 3 25 1.118 28.0
26 1902 SAF-Aus Llewellyn C.B     (Saf) 17.92 3 25 0.885 22.1

Even though Lohmann leads the table, Hadlee's was the most devastating of all, coming in an away series against Australia. Harbhajan suffers only in comparison with Laxman. It can be seen that many of these 25-plus wicket performances are modern ones.

I have given below the top bowlers in each of the series types, this time based on the weighted wickets captured. Varying number of bowlers have been shown.

296 1989 ENG-Aus Alderman T.M      (Aus) 17.37 6 41 1.289 52.8
244 1982 PAK-Ind Imran Khan        (Pak) 13.95 6 40 1.257 50.3
232 1981 ENG-Aus Alderman T.M      (Aus) 21.26 6 42 1.034 43.4
232 1981 ENG-Aus Lillee D.K        (Aus) 22.31 6 39 1.109 43.3
213 1978 AUS-Eng Hogg R.M          (Aus) 12.85 6 41 0.988 40.5
331 1993 ENG-Aus Warne S.K         (Aus) 25.79 6 34 1.180 40.1
37 1913 SAF-Eng Barnes S.F        (Eng) 10.94 5 49 1.111 54.4
108 1956 ENG-Aus Laker J.C         (Eng)  9.61 5 46 1.091 50.2
65 1935 SAF-Aus Grimmett C.V      (Aus) 14.59 5 44 1.120 49.3
526 2005 ENG-Aus Warne S.K         (Aus) 19.92 5 40 1.121 44.8
43 1924 AUS-Eng Tate M.W          (Eng) 23.18 5 38 1.147 43.6
289 1988 ENG-Win Marshall M.D      (Win) 12.66 5 35 1.192 41.7
96 1953 ENG-Aus Bedser A.V        (Eng) 17.49 5 39 1.035 40.4
84 1950 ENG-Win Valentine A.L     (Win) 20.42 4 33 1.134 37.4
496 2003 SAF-Win Ntini M           (Saf) 21.38 4 29 1.168 33.9
410 1999 WIN-Aus McGrath G.D       (Aus) 16.93 4 30 1.092 32.7
91 1952 ENG-Ind Trueman F.S       (Eng) 13.31 4 29 1.057 30.6
267 1985 AUS-Nzl Hadlee R.J        (Nzl) 12.15 3 33 1.241 41.0
19 1896 SAF-Eng Lohmann G.A       (Eng)  5.80 3 35 1.080 37.8
440 2001 IND-Aus Harbhajan Singh   (Ind) 17.03 3 32 1.164 37.2
459 2001 SLK-Zim Muralitharan M    (Slk)  9.80 3 30 1.182 35.4
494 2003 SLK-Eng Muralitharan M    (Slk) 12.31 3 26 1.210 31.4
283 1987 PAK-Eng Abdul Qadir       (Pak) 14.57 3 30 1.025 30.7

Note how much Alderman's 1989 effort has gained, mainly because of the quality of wickets. Imran's wonderful effort of 40 wickets in the subcontinent gets its due. Similarly Hadlee's Trans-Tasman away-haul of 33 moves up to 41 wickets.

Now the top-10, across all series types, whose weight value is the highest and lowest. This is a very interesting mini-table which brings out the value of this type of weighting.

175 1972 WIN-Nzl Taylor B.R        (Nzl) 17.70 5 27 1.303 35.2
296 1989 ENG-Aus Alderman T.M      (Aus) 17.37 6 41 1.289 52.8
137 1964 IND-Eng Titmus F.J        (Eng) 27.67 5 27 1.270 34.3
62 1934 ENG-Aus O'Reilly W.J      (Aus) 24.93 5 28 1.265 35.4
197 1976 ENG-Win Holding M.A       (Win) 12.71 5 28 1.262 35.3
244 1982 PAK-Ind Imran Khan        (Pak) 13.95 6 40 1.257 50.3
516 2004 SAF-Eng Hoggard M.J       (Eng) 25.50 5 26 1.249 32.5
267 1985 AUS-Nzl Hadlee R.J        (Nzl) 12.15 3 33 1.241 41.0
447 2001 ENG-Aus McGrath G.D       (Aus) 16.94 5 32 1.227 39.2
293 1988 AUS-Win Ambrose C.E.L     (Win) 21.46 5 26 1.227 31.9
33 1910 SAF-Eng Faulkner G.A      (Saf) 21.90 5 29 0.892 25.9
26 1902 SAF-Aus Llewellyn C.B     (Saf) 17.92 3 25 0.885 22.1
24 1901 AUS-Eng Noble M.A         (Aus) 19.00 5 32 0.872 27.9
200 1976 IND-Eng Bedi B.S          (Ind) 22.96 5 25 0.834 20.8

Taylor's effort was against a good West Indian side, away, and included quite a few top order wickets. He also achieved this in 4 Tests. I have already talked about Alderman and will do so again later. Titmus' case is interesting. He was playing away, against a good Indian line-up. However the real clincher was the quality of wickets, an amazing 23 out of 27 were those of the top batsmen. Similar was the situation with O'Reilly and Holding.

Finally the top-10, across all series types, whose series average has been the way above the rest of the bowlers who bowled in the series. A true peer performance indicator.

459 2001 SLK-Zim Muralitharan M    (Slk) 3 30  9.80  86-32.57 3.32
554 2007 SLK-Bng Muralitharan M    (Slk) 3 26 10.85  72-34.40 3.17
244 1982 PAK-Ind Imran Khan        (Pak) 6 40 13.95 130-42.17 3.02
19 1896 SAF-Eng Lohmann G.A       (Eng) 3 35  5.80  98-17.38 3.00
55 1931 AUS-Saf Ironmonger H      (Aus) 5 31  9.55 155-26.24 2.75
494 2003 SLK-Eng Muralitharan M    (Slk) 3 26 12.31  96-32.58 2.65
115 1958 ENG-Nzl Lock G.A.R        (Eng) 5 34  7.47 135-19.38 2.59
197 1976 ENG-Win Holding M.A       (Win) 5 28 12.71 164-31.55 2.48
267 1985 AUS-Nzl Hadlee R.J        (Nzl) 3 33 12.15  95-30.11 2.48
175 1972 WIN-Nzl Taylor B.R        (Nzl) 5 27 17.70 120-43.69 2.47

Finally let me give my own selection of the top performances in a series. This time ordered based on my preference.

Hadlee's 33 wickets vs Australia, away, during 1985: In my opinion, this was the best ever performance by a bowler in a Test series. There is no denying that Australia were not a great team during 1985. However this was an away tour and Australia are not pushovers in their backyard. Hadlee captured 9, 6, 5, 2, 5 and 6 wickets in the six innings. 5 times out of 6 innings he captured 5-plus wickets. Even Muralitharan in his prime did not achieve this. In a reasonably low-scoring series, he also scored 126 runs. The 2-1 win for New Zealand was the icing on the cake.

Imran Khan's 40 wickets vs India during : This suffered only by comparison to Hadlee's master class. To capture 40 wickets on the flat-bed pitches of Pakistan against a very strong Indian batting lineup was Imran's best ever effort as a bowler and captain. He had 5 five-wicket hauls and helped Pakistan win 3-0. His only support came from Sarfraz Nawaz, with 19 wickets.

Laker's 46 wickets vs Australia during 1956: This has to come in because of the 19 wickets at Manchester. But then there is the small matter of 27 wickets in the four remaining Tests. This was somewhat similar to Richards' 1976 performance, a bowler dominating a quality batting team throughout the series. The Australians, despite McDonald, Harvey, Craig, Davidson, Miller, Benaud, Lindwall et al, had no answers.

SF Barnes' 49 wickets vs South Africa during 1914: Just as I could not ignore Bradman's 974, there is no way I can miss this performance. Barnes achieved this, playing away in South Africa. He captured 49 wickets in four Tests. Then, according to C M-J "S.F.Barnes declined to play after a difference of opinion concerning administrative matters.". If he had played he would have ended with 60-plus wickets and a career tally of 200-plus wickets. He played no more Tests.

Alderman's 41 wickets vs England, away, during 1989: Alderman had captured 42 wickets on the 1981 tour of England. However I selected this one since his overall wicket quality was much better, as evidenced by the significant weight-up these performances have received. 28 of Alderman's 41 wickets were those of 1-6 batsmen. The English batting quality in these two tours was approximately the same. Australia won 4-0 and this was due to two men, Alderman and Taylor.

Warne's 40 wickets vs England, away, during 2005: This is a modern classic. Reminds me of Lara's efforts at Sri Lanka. Warne, coming to the end of the career, captured 40 wickets against a strong English team. That Australia lost 1-2 should not take anything away from Warne's magnificence. If Lee had hit the full toss a few yards to the left or right Australia might have won 3-0. Warne's bowling in the last Test, when his tally of 12 wickets included 9 top batsmen is one of the greatest bowling efforts ever.

I have fixed 3 Tests as the minimum criteria for defining a proper Test series. Let me confirm that, unlike the batsmen crossing 500 runs, no bowler has crossed 25 wickets in a 2-Test series.

Just to complete the Series bowling analysis, I have given below the table of batsmen who have captured 25 wickets or more in a series most number of times. Totally expected results with Muralitharan at the top. Once again emphasises the top quality and class of the West Indian greats, four of them featured here. Grimmett and O'Reilly feature 9 times. Surprises, Kumble, Harbhajan and Wasim Akram just once and Zaheer, not even once.

Muralitharan: 6
Grimmett:     5
Ambrose:      5
Garner:       5
Marshall:     5
Warne:        5
on 4, plenty (O'Reilly, Lillee, Kapil Dev, McGrath and Walsh).

To download the complete list of players who have crossed 500 runs in a Test series, please right-click here and save the file.

Now for the Bowling hall of fame (or more correctly, shame). While I sympathise with these bowlers, I like this part of the exercise since it throws a challenge to me to identify such performances. The only criteria I have set is that the concerned bowler should have captured 100 Test wickets or more. This is to ensure that the list contains only regular bowlers.

Ser Year Hme Vs  Bowler                   Avge  Wkts

535 2006 PAK-Ind Harbhajan Singh (Ind) 355.00* 0 ( 83 overs) 281 1987 ENG-Pak Emburey J.E (Eng) 222.00* 0 (104 overs) 554 2007 SLK-Bng Mohammad Rafique (Bng) 344.00 1 ( 78 overs) 169 1970 SAF-Aus McKenzie G.D (Aus) 333.00 1 (111 overs)

384 1997 SLK-Ind Chauhan (Win) 277.00 1 481 2003 WIN-Aus Collins P.T (Win) 263.00 1 599 2010 NZL-Aus Martin C.S (Nzl) 260.00 1 523 2005 ENG-Bng Mohammad Rafique (Bng) 257.00 1 578 2008 AUS-Saf Lee B (Aus) 249.00 1 314 1991 AUS-Ind Warne S.K (Aus) 228.00 1 274 1986 IND-Aus Reid B.A (Aus) 222.00 1 438 2000 SAF-Slk Vaas WPUJC (Slk) 218.00 1 487 2003 ENG-Saf Gough D (Eng) 215.00 1 502 2004 PAK-Ind Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak) 204.00 1

* To pre-empt readers coming out with comments on the average being infinity.

Harbhajan Singh had, almost certainly, the most nightmarish series ever for a bowler, playing against Pakistan during 2006. He bowled 83 overs in 2 Tests, captured no wicket and had a huge RpO of 4.27. Fortunately for him he was dropped for the last Test. He has had two other forgettable series, each time capturing 2 wickets each at an average of around 150, the last time a few days back.

Emburey at least managed to bowl accurately and kept his RpO to a very good 2.13. Rafique bowled in only 3 innings, but at least managed a wicket, at a high RpO of 4.41. McKenzie bowled in the first two Tests, was dropped for the third, came back in the fourth and successfully claimed a wicket. His RpO was 3.0.

Since the article has already become long, I will keep the all-round analyses to later posts. This will also enable the readers to exchange information in an informed manner.

Readers' selection: I would expect some justification supporting your nomination. Please lighten my task.

Harbhajan Singh (32 in 3 Tests during 2001 vs Aus at home: 37.2 AdjWkts). Arjun.
Marshall (35 in 4 Tests during 1988 vs Eng away: 41.7 adjwkts). Gerry.
Ambrose (33 in 5 Tests during 1992 vs Aus away: 39.9 adjwkts). Gerry.
Larwood (33 in 5 Tests during 1932 vs Aus away: 38.3 adjwkts). Paul.
Davidson (33 in 4 Tests during 1960 vs Aus away: 36.8 adjwkts). Ruchir.
Muralitharan (24 in 3 Tests during 2006 vs Eng away: 31.0 (est) adjwkts) Ruchir.
Alderman (42 in 6 Tests during 1981 vs Eng away: 43.4 adjwkts) Tom.
Hogg (41 in 6 Tests vs Eng at home during 1978: 40.5 adjwkts) Manish/Jerry.
Mendis (26 in 3 Tests vs Ind at home during 2008: 27.3 adjwkts). Ajinkya/Pallab.
Warne (26 in 3 Tests vs Slk, Away during 2004: 28.6 adjwkts).
Marshall (35 in 5 vs Eng, away during 1988: 41.7 adjwkts). Harsh
Donald (33 in 5 Tests vs Eng, away during 1998: 37.4 adjwkts). Arjun.
Snow (31 in 5 Tests vs Aus, away during 1970: 37.8 adjwkts).Engle+Turner.
Garner (31 in 5 Tests vs Aus, at home during 1984: 33.3 adjwkts. Alex.
Holding (24 in 3 Tests vs Aus, away during 1981. Gerry+Alex
Saqlain (20 in 3 Tests during 1999 vs Ind, away). Arjun+others
Kumble (21 in 3 Tests during 1999 at home). Arjun+others
Bedser (39 in 5 Tests during 1953 at home-5x5 wkts: 40.4 adj). Waspsting.
Tyson (28 in 5 Tests, vs Aus, away: 29.3 adj). Shane
Thomson (33 in 5 Tests vs Eng at home during 1974: adj 36.8 ). Gerry/WS.
Barnes (34 in 5 Tests vs Aus, away during 1911: 38.5 adjwkts). Delmeister.
Waqar Younis (29 in 3 Tests vs Nzl, at home during 1990: adj 28.3 wkts). Del.

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

  • testli5504537 on September 21, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Thanks for the great article, Hadlees 33 wkts was a great choice as it would be difficult to imagine any other bowler being able to create such an impact of such a strong australian side at that time. When I think of all the cricket ive watched over the years alot of these bowling performances stick out, to see them all put together to compare stats is great and must of taken some time and thought to decide your favourites :)Regards.

  • testli5504537 on September 4, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    Ananth, Talking of top bowling performances in series, there must be bowlers with a massive drop or rise in effectiveness (avg,SR, wickets etc) "during the course of" a series. (On a shorter scale, this is akin to a miserly 5- or 6-for in one inni. and 0-100 in the other inng). A big rise in avg and/or SR will indicate opposition batsmen getting a measure of the bowler and winning matches coming from behind. And vice versa for a big improvement in bowling. Can you compute the overall team bowling effectiveness "during" a series? and the corresponding opposition's top-6 batsmen's batting effectiveness? Can this analysis give us a list of great 'coming from behind victories? Batsmen or bowlers changing the course of the series with their exploits. Is the 1934 Ashes representative? I see this analysis meaningful for longer 4,5,6 match series. But Ind-vs Aus 2001 is a good e.g. Of course great victories also require good captaincy, luck etc. but an analysis worth trying? Any thoughts? [[ Your point is similar to the one made by Bull. I will try and link Series Team performances, bot way, winning and losing. to individual performances, Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    re Hadlee photo- no i think I'm wrong as that happened at bangalore, caught behind. Doesn't look like Srikkanth to me, so betting on Arun Lal, with Smith and Greatbatch behind wicket. Apologies there!

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    .."Listen you," he said,"I will NOT have you giving yr rubbish to my youngsters,it's totally out of order.Do you understand me pal?" (Pepper,too, was not subtlety personified!) Gilchrist gave an uninterested shrug. "Look I'm telling you!",said Pepper,"If you bowl beamers at my boys,I'll be doing it to yrs.Got it??" "But so what-you are not a fast bowler!",Gilchrist protested. The immortal reply? "I am from 5 f**k**g yards!!"

    Ok, time to soak my typing finger in ice lol but just wondering.That Hadlee photo-was it famous(ish) one of him dismissing Arun Lal to break Botham's world record?Also,the slip fielder,looking again,is prob Jeff Crowe,but may well be wrong there.Finally,Shri-McCartney said about Barnes ball to dismiss Trumper that it was a ball "One might see if drunk or dreaming".As a fellow avid cricket historian and devourer of cricket books,I thoght you might appreciate that one. Think I will save my comments about Alderman's 2 series for tomorr now!

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    ..the notoriety it gave him.The 21st of 21 children,the Jamaican was not a subtle man.He was sent home in disgrace from a tour of India in the 60's,tho Worrell always handled him better than Alexander did on that tour.I believe Gilchrist was incensed that one Indian batsman,outside the Tests,who was a Cambridge blue and 'more English than the English'commented upon getting a lucky boundary off Gilchrist "I say-what a good shot,was not it!".This was more than the bowler could bear,so beamer it was..This ended his international career,so he played in the Lancs League,where he was dreaded for just such dangerous practice.But also in the league was Australian Cec Pepper,a legspinning allrounder and one of the greatest amusing characters ever to play the game,later a popular umpire too.It was said he could talk,chew,spit and belch all in the same breath-you get the picture!Before their team's fixture,Pepper took Gilchrist to one side,about the only one brave enough to even consider it. TBC

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    ..stories ever.During the Adelaide test of 88/9,where Aus were making a vastly improved showing later in the series,albeit this was on a shirtfront,Victorians Dean Jones(216 run out)and Merv Hughes(72*)shared a century partnership in a total of 515.In one interval,the players were prsented to Bradman.Patterson was astonished to see such a small 'batting giant',octeganarian notwithstanding presumably!He took one look at the legend and yelled "You Don Bradman??YOU Don Bradman?I bowl to you-I kill you!"(obv he meant in their primes!).Bradman just looked at him laconically and relied "You couldn't even get Merv Hughes out-you'd have no chance against me mate!".Well handled I feel lol For a long time,I was disgusted to hear of hulking Patterson's attitude to the OAP,but have recently heard incident was more humurous than I had thought.Which brings me,on a tangent,to my famous cricket ancdote ever.If anything,Roy Gilchrist was prob the most aggressive of the lot-he enjoyed the beamer,and TBC

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    ..aggressive of them all.Firstly,one must consider Croft,who actually confirmed that yes,he would indeed have bowled bouncers at his grandmother to get wickets!He said it with humour,but nobody dobted him,and he even admitted that he preferred to hit batsmen than dismiss them.Boycott's diary of the 81tour,and even recent comments,state that he didn't think they bowled too many bouncers overall-except Croft.He was scathing in that first book,and documented that in one test,when a batsman got hit he was the one player who ran up clapping the incident-until even Desmond Haynes had to tell him to shut up.He was a very fime bowler tho,sometimes making the ball rear away from the bat after being aimed at the body constantly.As Ananth said,he and Clarke were far BETTER bowlers than Patterson,even if latter was even faster,but he was the only one who was negated to any degree by the bouncer limits,as the other regulars all moved the ball.He provided us with one of my favourite cricket TBC

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    ..guttersnipe manner imaginable by the pondlife that have always been,in my time,the English tabloid 'press' and their 'journalists'(loose coinages of the terms to say the least!).Even for them,it is agreed that they 'upped the ante'and plumbed new depths in their scumbag methods to get whatever story they could about the world's most famous,popular and one of the very best cricketers.He was,if truth be told,a deeply paranoid mess due to this disgraceful behaviour,his ensuing mental state giving him no chance at all to concentrate and focus on what was anyway one of the most formidable tasks ever faced by tourists.I never count those figures in his record,although he failed in other series v WI through trying over-reckless methods,but did well in 1984.I have never forgiven those 'newspapers'for not giving him a fair chance to improve his record v WI,after a decent,tho still not totally satistactory 1984 series of 347r and 19w...But back to Patterson.Wouldn't quite call him THE most TBC

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    ..flinched a few times.In 1st inns,his 49(bowled by a Garner shooter)and Gooch's 51 were worth far more in almost impossible conditions-Willey backed away and slashed 71 in 2nd inns.Eng were shellshocked after all that,and didn't have a prayer thereafter,even on better wickets.But also contributing to that was the fact that Gooch was psyched out before the tour even started by Antiguan prime minister Lester Bird,who harangued him about his S.A.tour past-I notice he didn't bother hassling Emburey or Willey!Let alone Les Taylor..Gooch wanted to go home several times,moaning to the point of even Gower and Botham having a go at him for bringing down morale constantly-it was this mental distraction that meant his average was as low as that, instead of his usual 40v WI.Look what happened to Wasim,Waqar and Mushtaq's form,92tour when they were involved press headlines.None of this,however,compared to the treatment meted out to Botham on that tour,who was victimised in the most disgusting TBC

  • testli5504537 on August 31, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    Couple of points to address (delay this time as was at Leeds Festival- one does not reject free tickets for that kind of thing!lol).Gerry wanted some feedback on Patterson in the 86 series.As usual,he has got most of it spot on.He was not a great bowler, because he did not move the ball,so bowled too short in 'movement'conditions,tho could still cause probs due to sheer speed thru air.He was a holy terror in his debut series-Marshall was INDISPUTABLY the fastest bowler in the world at the time,injuring batsmen for fun-Patterson was equally obv quicker in that series.Eng were totally demoralised from the outset,on a Jamaica pitch that was uneven, but not innately FAST,Patterson did indeed produce those 6byes, the ball shot as well as leapt,thereby affording batsmen no hope against that kind of hostility,quality and aggression.Already Gatting had his nose smashed in by Marshall in a ODI before the Tests,and even Lamb TBC

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