August 17, 2011

Test-series performances: the top bowlers

A statistical analysis of the best bowling performances in a Test series
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Richard Hadlee: 33 wickets in just three Tests against Australia in 1985
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

  • Shannon 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.

  • Ravi 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: ]]

  • delmeister 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!

  • delmeister 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!

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • Shannon 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.

  • Ravi 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: ]]

  • delmeister 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!

  • delmeister 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!

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • delmeister 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

  • shrikanthk on August 31, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    And I'm not even factoring in the umpires, who were always favourable to Australia and Warne against teams like Sri Lanka. If any argument is flawed, it is yours sir.

    I wouldn't want to bring umpires into the discussion. I never claimed my argument is water-tight! It was deliberately flawed, in response to your flawed argument. How can one compare Murali's record against England in 2006 with Warne's performances a year earlier against an inspired England side.

    Also, as Boll said, you might want to know that Shane Warne has a slightly better average in Sri Lanka than Murali in Aus-SL test matches, though he was up against SL batsmen batting in familiar home conditions.

  • Alex on August 30, 2011, 16:51 GMT

    @Vinish: I am a big fan of S Waugh & Kallis. However, as batsmen, I think they rate just a rung below SRT-Lara-Ponting (I might put SRT-Lara just ahead of Ponting). As cricketers, of course I think they are as valuable, or even more, that SRT-Lara and on par with Ponting who is one of the greatest ever fielder.

    Sehwag, with all his flaws, is a major outlier due to his SR (esp. in big innings) ... this does not mean he should be considered a better batsman than Kallis/Waugh.

  • Boll on August 30, 2011, 11:22 GMT

    Crass of me not to mention Murali`s 28 wickets at 23 in the same series - how about we just celebrate two of the all-time greats.

  • Vinish Garg on August 30, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    Ananth, your grouping is perfectly accurate. SRT, Lara, Dravid, Kallis, Ponting and S.Waugh all at one level. Sangakkara/Jayawardene/Sehwag/Hayden at another level. Laxman/MWaugh/Chanderpaul/Gilchrist may be yet another level. Inzamaam/Martyn/Yousaf/Thorpe, at next level, and so on.

    And yes, there are question marks. I would love to see such an analysis.

  • Vinish on August 30, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Alex. You say that Kallis is a once-in-30-years cricketers and still you did not include 4 outliers. By that yardstick, only SRT, Lara and Ponting should make it (though only SRT and Lara automatically meet it). Ponting has somewhat struggled in India/SL and Sehwag on par with SRT and Lara is a joke. I am interested to know that for period 1990-2011, why people often forget Steve Waugh. He wsa the player whom Dravid/Kallis looked to match in late 1990s. I would say that the three outliers for 1990-2011 are SRT/Lara/S.Waugh. if you say that Waugh retired in 2004, then Sehwag too does not properly fit in this time-interval well and Kallis does. [[ I have been threatening to do a complete analysis on the modern batsmen sometme in the near future. Probably when we think that the retirement of the Indian greats would be talked of in "months". I would expect this to automatically include SRT, Lara, Kallis, Dravid, Ponting, SWaugh. Waugh is that rarity, who performed better away than at home. Sangakkara/Jayawardene/Sehwag/Hayden may very well be there but do not walk in automatically. There are question marks. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 29, 2011, 23:08 GMT

    Is it possible to finish these comments on a slightly more positive note than@Charindra? How about Warne`s performances in Sri Lanka...48 wickets at 20, at a SR of 40, including of course his 26 wickets in the 3 tests of 2004. `In a country where overseas spinners other than Warne have hardly made any impact (average of 43.27 and strike rate of 87.45)`- M.Ramakrishnan.

    Ah, I feel better already.

  • Charindra on August 29, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    @Shrikanthk - No, we don't compare Murali's performances in Australia with those of Warne because Warne was almost always bowling to a lesser team than Australia which was chasing the game (either batting or bowling) in that country with the crowd supporting him. Murali bowled to Australia, one of the greatest cricket teams ever, with his team always chasing the game, and the crowd booing his every move. And I'm not even factoring in the umpires, who were always favourable to Australia and Warne against teams like Sri Lanka. If any argument is flawed, it is yours sir.

  • Alex on August 28, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    @Vinish: Until 3 months back, Ananth & I were a scarce minority praising Dravid on this blog. He has always done well in Eng: his Achille's heel is an away series in Oz/SA. He & Kallis play @120 balls/innings which probably is 8% better than the next best, who I guess is Chander. Personally, 8% does not seem that big an outlier unless we combine it with the career aggregate runs. I think Kallis is astonishing and a once-in-30-years cricketer but every decade has had a Dravid.

  • Vinish Garg on August 28, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Alex

    For your comment as 7 players automatically make the all-time XI: Don, Sobers, Marshall, McGrath, Lara, Viv, and SRT , I think Warne is more certain than McGrath. When we say *automatically make it to all time XI*, let us remove the scope of choices/debate (barring the 1% who always question it). I would say that *automatic choices* (from neutral perspective) are 5 : Don, Sobers, Marshall, Viv, and SRT and *automatic choices* (from my personal perspective) are 7 as: Don, Sobers, Marshall, Lara, Viv, Warne, and SRT.

  • Vinish on August 28, 2011, 3:49 GMT

    Alex, when you say Here, I take the metrics as: aggregate, average, SR, % of 100+ innings, % of 50+ innings, % of 150+ innings, % of team score. Then, in all fairness, over 1990-2011 we probably have only 4 outliers: Lara, SRT, Ponting, & Sehwag.

    I am not sure what made you drop Kallis and Dravid, particularly for the period that you selected (1990-2011). May be SR? If yes, then you probably do not understand the importance of *Stayers* like Dravid/Kallis. Test cricket would have been Poor (or dare I say dead?) if only Gayles/Dilshans/Sehwag's are driving it.

  • Alex on August 27, 2011, 4:42 GMT

    @Ravi: This should not be too hard. Two or more posting similar stats is the norm of any era. A single cricketer being an outlier is more of an aberration. Here, I take the metrics as: aggregate, average, SR, % of 100+ innings, % of 50+ innings, % of 150+ innings, % of team score. Then, in all fairness, over 1990-2011 we probably have only 4 outliers: Lara, SRT, Ponting, & Sehwag.

    @Boll: For pure out-and-out fast bowling, I guess the biscuit goes to Holding of 1979-82 even though he was probably not the fastest ever: it was sheer lethal poetry. However, Marshall is arguably the all-time greatest bowler: swing, reverse swing, cut, bounce, shooter, yorker, change of pace - this man could do it all and on all surfaces! For me, 7 players automatically make the all-time XI: Don, Sobers, Marshall, McGrath, Lara, Viv, and SRT; the 8th player being either Hobbs or Hutton.

  • Boll on August 26, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    Looks as if comments might be drawing to close, so I thought I might just throw in a tribute to the king of them all - the late, great Malcolm Marshall. It`s obviously more difficult for a bowler, playing with other great bowlers, to stand out in an analysis of this nature. Unlike runs, there is a limit to the number of wickets you can take.

    Of course he figures in Ananth`s stats on a couple of occasions, but those figures don`t reveal his true brilliance. Give me The Don, Sobers and Marshall plus any 8 others. Quite simply the best bowler I`ve seen.

  • Ravi on August 26, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    Ananth/all Good bit of detective work on the photo there. I have an observation/query but not sure if this is the right place for that. Sorry for the digression. Three modern greats- Dravid, Ponting and Kallis debuted a few months from one another. and through their long careers they've had very similar numbers - matches, inns, runs, avg, 100s, 50s - even today in 2011! What is also remarkable is the huge impact the 3 have had on their countries' successes. I am sure there must be other such groups of 2/3/4 players from different countries who followed very similar career patterns. Can you think of more?

    Regards, Ravi [[ Tough, Ravi. We might find sets of players with lower run aggregates. However the three mentioned are something else since all of them have crossed 11946 runs and have amassed a total of 114 hundreds. One would have to lower the sights to, say, 5000 runs to look for such sets of players. Quixotic work, though. Start test within a year, end test within a year, similar figures in runs/wkts/avge et al. Sounds interesting. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 26, 2011, 1:12 GMT

    @Ananth: Regrettably, I entirely missed out on the RJ Hadlee mystery. As an aftermath, though, let me add that Cricinfo maintains a collection of photos of every player/official listed in its database. All of these photos come with a date & place info. So, the solution to the mystery needed a simple look up of all photographs of RJ Hadlee on his Cricinfo player page. Now, I will have something simple nutritious at a local equivalent of Simpson's!!

  • agni on August 24, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    Mystery of the Hadlee Photo.. Now that the mystery is solved this is irrelevant(so many comments reading them chronologically took time) but in the picture, one thing that was striking was the BROWN wicket. I was thinking as INDIA wicket.. then read your next coment.. scrolllled back to check wkt and 1st slip.. Smith and Greatbatch... I correctly deduced EAT as CEAT tyres... so was about to reply stiting that I could be Arun Lal but alas.. mystery was already solved... not that it prevented me from commenting... He..he..:-) [[ The only thing I would contest is the pitch. This certainly does not look like any Indian dustbowl. It certainly has some green. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 24, 2011, 3:25 GMT

    Not sure if this will get in, but would like to comment on Barnes' 34w in 5tests, 1911/12.

    That was probably the turning point in Barnes' career. Before this series, I think his test average was I guess well over 20, no different from most great modern bowlers. Starting this series, he became prolific and Bradmanesque with the ball for the rest of his brief career.

    There is this one ball that Barnes bowled in that series which is a part of cricketing folklore. Not sure how good it was. But if it was anywhere near as good as what MaCartney described it, it should rival the Gatting ball as the "ball of the century". Trumper was the batsman and MaCartney the non-striker. Barnes bowled at fast-medium pace. The delivery started on leg stump. Swung late towards off. Pitched on off. But then broke back after pitching to uproot leg stump. Huh.

    To use Bogart's line from The Maltese Falcon - that's the stuff dreams are made of!! [[ There is an Armstrong dismissal which was similar. Trumper was bowled by Barnes twice, in the second and fourth Tests. Barnes'opening spell on the first morning of the second Test is considered by many to be the best ever opening spell. 9-6-3-4. Ananth: ]]

  • arch on August 24, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    Well, cricinfo lists this Hadlee photo as him appealing during the second test of the New Zealand India series in Bombay, in 1998. In which case the batsman is either a rather dejected Arun Lal or Kris Srikanth. Any takers?

    Here is the link: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/63494.html [[ That is fantastic work. It is a combined detective work by all of us. I was fooled by the pitch, imagine a fairly green pitch in India and the advertising logo. It looks like something ending with AT. Probably CEAT which is a tyre company which did some Cricket sponsorship. The photo caption says Nov 25, 1988. That is the second day. New Zealand, resuming at 231 for 8 were all out for 236 and India made 232 for 9. The only Hdlee Lbw was Arun Lal (Srikkanth was Lbw in the second innings). So the mystery is finally solved. It is Arun Lal Lbw Hadlee R.J 9. This was a Test which made every Indian realize Hadlee's greatness. There were many comments that he would be tackled easily on Indain pitches. He captured 10 wickets for 85 and helped New Zealand draw level. Bracewell's 4 hours of fame came in the second innings after Hadlee had made the initial breakthroughs. Once again many thanks to you and also to Boll for starting this Holmesian journey. Ananth: ]]

  • Sandeep on August 23, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    Wasn't Warne's 40 wickets in 2005, more a case of him ploughing a lonely furrow, in the absence of Mc Grath in 2 crucial test matches. Don't get me wrong- it was high quality bowling, but I think the quality of other bowlers in the team should also have been taken into consideration. same for the rest- Hadlee bowled great, but bowlers at the other end were at best good containers. This is where the West Indian fearsome quartret of the 1980's suffer, because they shared wickets between them, and would never top this list [[ This situation exists in almost all cases. If you look at the next bowler after Laker, Barnes, Imran, Hadlee et al, this will always be the case. The absence of quality support should not be used to devalue individual performances. Anyhow pl see the Reader'list. A number of bowlers belong to the multiple-great-bowlers category. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 23, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Yes, obviously not Koertzen, merely an earlier Koertzen sytlist with the full round-arm dismissal. With apologies to Waspsting for dragging things ridiculously off track, I`m going for Hadlee dismissing Javed at Wellington in 1989. Smith, keeper. Andrew Jones at slip. Now I`ll shut up. [[ Could very well be the case. The only other dismissal during 1989 was again Mudassar Nazar. Javed scored 118. Ananth: ]]

    ...except for mentioning Rahul Dravid`s bravura performance over the last few days(weeks for that matter). One for the ages! And as someone remarked on cricinfo`s live commentary, `His grammar is also perfect.` - not unlike his off drives, which I assume he produces in his first (batting) language!

  • ted on August 23, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    i watched hadalees performance as a kid and he was magnicifent and im an aussie and i believe that is the only time nz has won in australia.ambrose in australia or anywhere would be an equal 1st. awesome list

  • Boll on August 23, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    And the umpire? Almost looks as if he`s giving it the full Rudi Koertzen! [[ No, in the said Test, the umpires were Goodall and Morris. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 23, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    Ah, a schoolboy error. I`m pretty sure Smith is the keeper, Coney at first slip(?), could it be Javed being given out (only if it`s in NZ I suppose!?) [[ 1973 was Wadsworth. 1979 was Lees. 1985 was Smith. 1985 also had Coney. 1989 had Smith but no Coney. So let us move forward to the 1985 home series against Pakistan. In the three Tests there were only two Lbw dismissals for Hadlee. One was Mudassar Nazar and the other Saleem Malik. I would plump for the later. Surprisingly batting at no.8, Malik was lbw to Hadlee for 0. But the lack of size worries me. However this quite early in the career for Saleem. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on August 23, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    Not sure if this will get in, but would like to comment on Barnes' 34w in 5tests, 1911/12. This was considered by all who saw it as the greatest exhibition of bowling ever seen in Australia by a visitor, by great analysts who lived til the 80's, performed as it was on shirtfronts in the main,against Trumper,Hill and Bardsley,plus Armstrong,Kelleway and Ransford.All the more remarkable as Johnny Douglas stupidly denied him the new ball in the 1st test, so the cussed Barnes sulked his way through 65 overs in the match for 4/179.Given the new ball at Melbourne in the next match, he removed Bardsley first ball, then Kelleway,Hill and Armstrong for 4/1 in 7 overs,5w/6runs on dismissing Minnet.Better bowling than this on a perfect wicket-with his medium pace spinning both ways,swerving the opposite direction to the spin in the air-is difficult to imagine,tho the whippy left armer Frank Foster took 32w in the series,an allrounder tragically cut short by injury in his prime. [[ Will look at it carefully. 34 becomes 38.5. You will be amazed. This series figures in my next article. Don't want to reveal more. A weaker England winning 4-1. I will have to get this in. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on August 23, 2011, 6:00 GMT

    Oh dear, my mistake! Procter's performance already documented, as as is Bert Vogler's. What about Waqar's 29w in 3tests at home v NZ in 1990/91? Crowe batted magnificently, but in vain to try repelling him, calling it the highest quality express pace bowling he ever faced. As to the Hadlee photo, looks like Salim Malik to me, with Smith keeping and Greatbatch at slip. [[ I did all my replies to Boll without seeing your comment. So it looks as if we concur. 29 in 3 Tests but, barring Martin, this was an average Nzl side. Hence the weighted value is only 28.3. However I will get this in if for nothing else to honour one of the all-time greats. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on August 23, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    Ananth-didn't realise 200r bar for Hall of Shame.As per normal,'usual suspects' have more or less cleaned up on readers' list nominations,but how about this performance in 1969/70?

    4m 143overs 50m 353r 26w 13.57av 33.0(s/r) 2.46rpo

    Thus did the magnificent all rounder,Mike Procter,perform v Aus ie against Lawry,Stackpole,I.Chappell,Walters,Redpath and Sheahan, with batting all rounder Eric Freeman at 7 in middle 2 tests.Figures of his world class partner,Peter Pollock,are-

    4m 115o 39m 258r 15w 17.20ave 46.0s/r 2.24rpo

    The superb McKenzie's figures are already in hall of shame,tho Aus were knackered after India This magnificent all rounder has too often been forgotten due to SA's ban.I am certain that Botham,he,Imran and Miller were on their own on the second rung of the alltime allrounders' ladder, behind the peerless Sobers,but only he could not prove this.A TRULY glorious cricketer, who TWICE scored a century and took a hat trick in the same match! [[ Amazing coincidence. This series also figures in my next article about which I have talked about in your next comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 23, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    @Ananth. You`ve mentioned before that you have no role in choosing the photograph/s to head your articles. I thought I would just point out though that above the caption `Richard Hadlee: 33 wickets in just three Tests against Australia in 1985` is an excellent image of him dismissing one of Australia`s best batsmen of the era (plumb LBW by the looks of things) - the mighty Inzamam Ul Haq! [[ You have also been fooled by the swing of the master. Hadlee retired in 1990 and Inzamam played his first Test in 1992. However I agree that it is not an Australian. The pitch looks like it is in New Zealand and that certainly is an Asian batsman. When I exlarge the face, it seems more like a Pakistani batsman. Too many lbw dismissals at home by Hadlee. Look at the two players appealing and the logo at the back. Any clues. Who is the keeper, Lees or Smith. It could be Mohsin Kamal, Saleem Malik or Wasim Raja who were all out lbw. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on August 22, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    Jeff Thomson, vs Eng 74/75. 33 wickets in five matches, and a real watershed moment in cricketing history. It was the begining of the kind of brutal fast paced blistering tactics that dominated cricket for over a decade. [[ I had looked at it earlier and shelved it. Like Bedser;'s it seems to have missed out. Will push it in. Ananth: ]]

    Incidentally, Colin Cowdrey played alongside Frank Tyson at his most typhoon-like in 54, and probably fielded in the slips to his bowling. In 74, he faced Thommo's thunderbolts as a batsman. Unique, if not quite a "lucky" position to be in.

  • shrikanthk on August 22, 2011, 16:45 GMT

    I'd nominate Alec Bedsar's performance in 53 at home against Australia

    I had taken it for granted that this was already on the list! Hence, didn't mention it. Easily one of the finest performances by any bowler in a rubber against a pretty strong Aus side. [[ Somehow this classic seems to have escaped my attention. Have already got it in. Ananth: ]]

    It inspired a memorable calypso penned by Lord Kitchener I think. Here it is! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccw87t0hbww Enjoy!

  • shrikanthk on August 22, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    I would like to know how many wickets Ashley Giles took in that series

    FYI, Ashley Giles took 10 wickets over 5 tests at a price of 57.8 runs per wicket.

    I always believed that Warne was overrated and here is another example. In 2006 Murali took 8 wickets in 1 innings against the same England side, in May. Warne did all of that in June July. That really puts Warne's efforts into context for me

    By the same token, do we compare Warne's record in Australia with Murali's record in the same country and claim that "that puts Murali in proper context?"

    If people don't like Warne the person for some reason, I'm okay with it. He was no saint. But why try to demean the great man by using flawed cricketing arguments?

  • Waspsting on August 22, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    I'd nominate Alec Bedsar's performance in 53 at home against Australia. He took 39 wickets, while the rest of the bowlers - including the likes of Statham, Trueman, Wardle, Laker and Lock - were taking 52. [[ Although he did not get much of an increase, it was at an excellent average.5 x 5-wkt hauls also. Will get this one in. Ananth: ]]

    Also, Pat Crawford in Australia in 07/08. He took 30 wickets at 24, while Barnes and Rhodes (mainly Barnes) managed 31 at 33. Australia - who won 4-1 - scored over 300 in at least one innings in every match, and included players like Trumper, Hill, Noble, Armstrong, Macartney

  • Waspsting on August 22, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    Would like to point out the difficulty of this type of a comparison with bowlers. How many wickets a bowler takes depends on how many his mates are, thus making it hard to bowlers in strong bowling line-ups to match the figures (in terms of wickets taken) of Hadlee or Murali. Perhaps some weight given to strike rate might be helpful? I wonder who has the best strike rate in a series for the various types of series', as sorted by number of tests played. [[ Problem will be the pre-WW1 Tests. Lohmann might very well have strike rates in the order of 25. However let me see what i can do. Ananth: ]]

    @Gerry-the-Merry - nice commentary on Imran's 40 wicket haul. lot of whining around that time about umpiring there, but everyone who faced him speak in glowing terms of it. Also, your right about the doosra. Ian Johnson used to bowl it (he called it "the undercutter"), and recounts that the only time he felt he bested Bradman was when he had the great man stumped of such a delivery.

    BTW, this is the most on-topic discussion I've ever seen on this blog. Shame :)

  • nick on August 22, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    Re: Warne's 40 wicket haul in 2005. Whilst this was an amazing feat (lets not forget his solid efforts with the bat that series as well) there is simply no question that this figure would have been much lower if McGrath was not injured, who took plenty at Lords in the first test. Warne carried a very inept bowling attack (an out of form Gillespie, a fair Kasprowicz, and incompetent full-tossers Tait and Lee). I would put Ambrose's 33 at number 1. He still had to share the wickets with a quality bowling attack. Though I don't disapprove of your choice of Hadlee. Both were of an era we can only rhapsodize over. [[ Hadlee, almost on his own, wins the series against Australia. That is the stuff we can only rhapsodize over, what a lovely word. However Ambrose is somehere there at the top. Two all-time greats, totally different in almost every way, but united by their greatness. My abiding memory of Ambrose is the 54 precious run partnership with Lara at Bridgetown. I lived and died many times through those 115 deliveries. Ananth: ]]

  • Chris on August 22, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    I want to look at Ian Botham's contribution to the England attack. In 1978 in 3 tests against NZ he took 24 wickets at 14 - precisely twice as many as the next best England bowler (Willis, 12 @ 19) and almost twice as good as the legendary Hadlee (13 @ 20).

    But 2 other series in particlar are interesting. In 1985 he took 31 wickets @ 27 in 6 Tests against Australia. The nearest England teammate got 19 @ 28. In 1979-80 he took 19 wickets @ 19 in 3 tests against a very strong Australian batting line up (G and I Chappel, Border, Hughes). The nearest England team mate got 13 wickets at 31.

    What is particularly interesting is that in both cases the next best England bowler was a spinner (Embury and Underwood). I appreciate that to give an extra weighting as the outstanding pace bowler in the team would complicate things too much, but I mention it to simply point out how much Botham carried the England attack during the period, especially if Bob Willis was injured. [[ After a long time Broad has performed in a way Botham would have been proud of. I am also happy that after the first two Tests his contributions have been with the ball since that is one facet which defines an all-rounder completely. He was so disappointing in the previous four series that this has come as the biggest bonus for England. Ananth: ]]

  • Charindra on August 22, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Interesting. But I have an issue with one point in your analysis. You are in awe of Warne's efforts in England in 2005. But I would like to know how many wickets Ashley Giles took in that series. He bowled one delivery which pitched miles outside leg and took the top of off. Fantastic viewing. I always believed that Warne was overrated and here is another example. In 2006 Murali took 8 wickets in 1 innings against the same England side, in May. Warne did all of that in June July. That really puts Warne's efforts into context for me. [[ Don't forget that Murali's performance is in the Readers' list. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 22, 2011, 6:00 GMT

    @Rizwan, re. `Historically,no spinner has done well in India`. I refer you to Richie Benaud`s figures: 52 wickets in 8 tests at 18. SR.57, Economy rate 1.9. [[ The one analysis I cannot forget is Benaud's Delhi one, 3.4-3-0-3. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 22, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    @Rizwan, yes the players you mention were, or became, accomplished players, although hardly in their prime in `98/`99 as you suggest. Azha was right at the end of his career. Laxman had played a handful of tests and was averaging in the 20s. Dravid and Ganguly had only played about 25 tests each. Only Sachin at this time could have been said to be somewhere close to his prime. The Indian team as a whole was also going through a very poor run of form (2 series wins in 12, including home losses vs SAf and Pakistan in the Asian championships). I would suggest that the peak (in batting and overall terms) for an Indian side was closer to 2008 than 1998. Once again, not wanting to take anything away from a wonderful performance by Saqlain, just trying to place it in proper context. And I`m fairly sure the context wasn`t, as you claim, against `the best players of spin bowling ever assembled in the universe who were at their PRIME`...

  • shane on August 22, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    Would like to nominate Frank Tyson (54/55 vs Aus) for the readers's list. After a poor first test which England lost, he was the decisive factor in England's away series win. He was especially brilliant in the second and third tests when England won after Australia seemed set for victory. England won the second by only 38 runs defending a moderate total (Tyson 6/85) and third when Aus needed only just over 100 runs with 8 wickets (Tyson 7/27). It was not a poor Australian side either with Morris, Harvey and Miller present [[ Yes, I can see your points. The second and third Tests were Tyson's wins, both times defending sub-240 chases.. I think I will put this in. Ananth: ]]

  • Meety on August 22, 2011, 3:02 GMT

    Thinking of Brett Lee, have you ever done an article on a player who's performances differ over formats. Lee's a fabulous athlete, appears on the infamous list above, (I remember he had a unflattering set of figures against India at the SCG as well), yet was arguably the best ODI bowler of all time. [[ I have earlier done an article on performances across formats. However not with an view to bring out the huge differentials in performance. Even in Tests Lee had almost Marshall-like figures during his first 50 wickets (20.xx) and then he slipped up so badly that byb the time he reached 100 wkts he had moved doen to 30.xx, at which figure he finished. Ananth: ]]

  • Meety on August 22, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    Top article, I have to agree that Hadlee's 1986 masterpiece was the best! As a youthful Ozzy I despised the man for years, because he was a genius & was too good to be bowling against us! LOL! I genuinely admire the guy now that he has retired! As a young bloke every time he had the ball in his hand I think I needed some Gaviscon for indigestion! He drove me mad with grief every spell! So it was good to see him get due recognition in you're article. -- -- -- A suggestion, whilst I know the Test rankings don't really go back before WWII, I was wondering whether there could be a weight placed on where the respective teams are ranked? I would assume this would boost Murali's performances a fair bit. [[ The factors used to weight the wickets would automatically take care of the situations hen Murali bowled against stronger teams. Ananth: ]]

    Sad to see Rafique appearing a few times in the infamous column list! He had very little going for him - his side couldn't build a total, field poorly, & put no pressure on at the other end! He usually kept the rpo lower at his end!!

  • Waseem on August 21, 2011, 16:09 GMT

    Must admire your patience and you should admire mine as well. Have gone through each and every comment & the column as well. Spent good one hour while doing this. Now coming back to the topic raised by NIKUL, I just want to remind him, the 10 wicket haul was only possible due to Javagal Srinath, as he himself confessed that when Kumble had taken six wickets, all the other bowlers helped him in getting the rest of the four wickets. Pakistan players could have also done the same to prevent him in doing that. The match itself was prolonged so that Kumble could get all ten wickets .... As far as Saqlain, Warne and Respected Murlitharan are concerned, they are the best spinners of modern era.... [[ Does not really matter. One thing is certain. There is certainly luck involved in a bowler getting 10 wickets. The opponents, as against Murali, can prevent that from happening. Both had great series. Let us leave it at that. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 21, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    [Replace Patterson with Croft. In one of the earlier Tests, taken at randon, the BQI is 22.xx.]

    The WI four pronged pace attack may have the best BQI and was probably the most lethal but as a fan/spectator I would rather watch the AUS attack of Mcgrath, Gillespie, Warne, Lee/Fleming/Kasprowicz or the PAK attack of Imran/Waqar, Wasim, Qadir/Mushtaq

    A session or two of short pitched bowling with the bastmen trying to save their heads or counterattacking with brave pulls/hooks is exciting But a bowling attack that basically prevents front foot play for an entire day or even a match is hard to enjoy

  • Ruchir on August 21, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    [Actually, it is interesting to try to analyze how many of these performances have come out of character - ie a spinner performing in a series on green pitches, or a fast bowler performing on dead tracks]

    There are a few of these in the list. Warne's masterpiece in England is on Ananth's list Murali's in Eng is on the reader's list Saqlain in India not because the condition were unhelpful for spin but no other spinner in recent times has mastered the Indian batsmen at home

    Even Hadlee's in Aus is quite stunning as conditions there are never consistently helpful for swing.

    Marshall took 33 in 5 in India in 83. That should probably be on the list ahead of his England performances if we account for the conditions

  • Ananth on August 21, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    This is a readers' contribution from me. I would put in Dravid's marvellous contribution in this otherwise-disastrous series into the Readers' list for the Test Series Batting performances. I will leave his final tally blank.

  • rizwan on August 21, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    Boll,Re.the performance of a bowler, its vital to have a respectable score to bowl at and in that regard, Warne benefitted from the huge scores that the Aussie batters routinely put up which made it easier for Warne and also having McGrath helped too. The brilliant slip cordon where Mark Waugh reigned supreme was another advantage. This is why, Hadlee was the best because he had only one world class batsman (Martin Crowe) and a few Sheep pretending to wield the willow.

    Ananth, Can we have an analysis of the best career perfrmances by an overseas spinner in India ? [[ Will do later. Ananth: ]]

  • rizwan on August 21, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Boll, the Indian batting omprised Laxman,Azhar,Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid (the big 5),all whom WERE some of the best players of spin bowling ever.Remember,this was the time when Warne was having nightmares due to the hammering meted out by Sachin.The big 5 all had succeeded against Warne in India.

    Historically,no spinner has done well in India and then Saqlain comes along,& grabs two consecutive 10 wicket hauls.This is why I mentioned Saqlain’s tour de force as admirable & unprecedented.Please remember the stellar batting line up of India and all of them were at their prime not the ageing Stars they have now become in the current series in England. As to India’s performance against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, they were AWAY matches and everyone knows,India are poor travellers. Therefore, your argument is spurious at best.

  • shrikanthk on August 21, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Compare this with Hadlee's 1988 performance.

    I presume you are referring to the New Zealand tour of India in 1988. Yep. Agree that Hadlee had figure just as fantastic as McGrath in 2001.

    Having said that, McGrath's effort was against a more dominant batting lineup. India's 1988 batting lineup never got going even against a not-so-imposing NZ attack. We didn't reach 400 even once in that series. Contrast that with the 2001 lineup which piled up such HUGE scores in the Kolkata and Chennai tests. To have an eco-rate of under 2 runs an over against that attack on Indian tracks is just phenomenal. And he did this by taking wickets and not just bowling negatively (barring some spells in Kolkata when he did bowl wide outside off stump to frustrate Laxman and Dravid)

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 21, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    I feel rotten saying this, but i would ask for the bar not to be raised, but modified a bit. Chetan Sharma should occupy some position in the hall of shame. No one has ever had a single ball destroy an entire country's confidence for 7 years.

    Also Ananth, my point about Patrick Patterson is this - he was the most violent bowler ever in history, going by the news clips which were shown by Doordarshan TV in 1986. The clips included the ball which went for six byes. In my "Wisden Illustrated History of Cricket" there is a famous photo of Phil Edmonds. He has 4 seven inch bluish black spots on his body, and looks sickening. Patterson then cut his run up down for the Reliance World Cup, then never got his rhythm and pace back. But in his debut series, without doubt, from his 7 wicket debut test to the final test, he was the biggest terror for England. His final averages dont tell the story quite. English readers on this blog (perhaps Delmeister) may have some recollection of those horrors. [[ All what ypu say are not the hallmarks of a great bowler. He might be an enforcer but not necessarily a great bowler. He got his opportunities, unlike Stephenson/Clarke. However he ended with 91 at 30.91, below Raju and Doshi, which says that most batsmen mastered him. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 21, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    @Ananth: For the Hall of Shame, the following ones deserve consideration.

    1. Lillee vs Pak, 1981. 3 tests, 102 overs, 303 runs, 3 wkts, ave=101.

    2. Warne vs WI, 1999. 3 tests, 83.5 overs, 268 runs, 2 wkts, ave=134.

    3. Shastri vs Eng, 1990. 3 tests, 95.5 overs, 341 runs, 2 wkts, ave=170.5.

    4. Murali vs Pak, 2009. 2 tests, 69.4 overs, 195 runs, 1 wkt, ave=195.

    5. Murali vs Aus, 2007. 2 tests, 116 overs, 400 runs, 4 wkts, ave=100 ... in Warne-Murali trophy, no less! [[ I am particular about no more than 1 wicket and no less than 200 runs to have that wonderful average of 200. None of these performances meet both objectives. Sorry cannot lower the bar, or in this case move up the bar !!! Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 21, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    One of the great bowling performances in a 3 test series, given the hostile conditions and the quality of the opposition was Glenn McGrath's 17 wicket haul in India in 2001 Feb-Mar, at 15.35 runs a piece and an economy rate of 1.91 r.p.o.

    I agree he didn't win them the series. Nor did he have a single 5-wicket haul to his name. Nevertheless, the stats are breathtaking. This was a feat against a very strong Indian batting lineup on fairly flat wickets in hot and humid conditions!

    It is the equivalent of an orthodox finger-spinner taking 30 wickets at 15 a piece in Australia on those flat wickets. We know that has never happened. Just drives home the enormity of McGrath's achievement on that 2001 tour of India. [[ Compare this with Hadlee's 1988 performance. Ananth: ]]

  • arch on August 20, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Something like half these selected performances are based on Australian and English pitches; add SAF and it is almost 80 percent. Even after factoring in the longer test playing history it shows the disparity between live and dead pitches. Actually, it is interesting to try to analyze how many of these performances have come out of character - ie a spinner performing in a series on green pitches, or a fast bowler performing on dead tracks. The obvious example is Imran's 40 wickets, but even in that series his best performance was not on the Karachi track, which after reverse swing and sea breezes is conducive to fast bowlers, but Faisalabad and Hyderabad. Of course, had he not bowled through the injury sustained in the fourth test, he would have built frightening stats over the two years lost at his peak. Sydney Barnes takes the cake for me though. If we can fete Bradman so highly, we can think no less of Barnes. Man was superman.

  • Arjun on August 20, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    Rajesh Chauhan (276/1 off 78 overs) in that record breaking test ag. SLK (1997) is contender for 'hall of shame'.

    Nilesh Kulkarni just falls 'short' in his debut test. (195/1) [[ My sincere aplogies. The performance, made in a single Test, that too, in a 2-Test series flew under the radar. Will include it. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on August 20, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    I fact, here is a better quality link to Hadlee's wonderful exhibition of control at Brisbane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONU8Pp2hgz0.

    Also, a fascinating little comparison, on a very poor pitch indeed, of the start of the eagerly awaited shootout between the 2 highest class pace combinations of the early 90's (in Carribean, 1992/3) ie Ambrose/Bishop/Walsh v Wasim/Waqar, (latter supported by Mushtaq and seamer Rehman):- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZHNW7JIW1M and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDtpPlg4sMc

  • delmeister on August 20, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Ananth- I was puzzled to note one glaring omission from yr Hall of Shame (a very interesting little bonus feature I'm enjoying on these articles). How about:-

    45o 12m 124r 0w -(Ave) 0-5(BBw) - - 2.76 rpo

    Whose figures are these? It pains me to say, those of one of my (and many peoples')all-time favourite cricketers, Kapil Dev, v Aus in the 'Tied Test' 3 match series. 1986/7. To be fair, the 1st 3 days of the second test had no play at all, but still notable I feel... More to come soon, esp on Tom's excellent critique of Alderman's 2 performances (again, i watched every ball of 89 series).Until then, I hope people find the links I submitted at the end of yr last article useful. And more typically excellent work from Gerry on his analysis of Imran's methods in early 80's ie going for broke early, then being more controlled for the latter period. I am pretty sure he used to resume storming in again when the tail appeared- but then which quick doesn't? [[ 0 for 124 runs has very little chance of getting into the elite list. My criteria is 0 ot 1 wkt and 200+ runs conceded. Sadly Kapil "falls short". Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 20, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    Two performances that should rank among the very best -

    Alec Bedser's 30 wickets in the 1950-51 series (at 16 a piece): England lost the series 1-4. Yet, Bedser was probably the best bowler on either side. This guy continues to amaze me. By most accounts, he was only medium pace (about the same pace as Praveen Kumar most probably). He used to bowl with the wicketkeeper standing up. And yet, to boast of such stellar figures in Australia - a country that is a graveyard for medium pacers - against attacking batsmen of the calibre of Hassett, Harvey, Morris, Miller, is indeed quite breathtaking. [[ I will look at all pending performances today/tomorrow and put the selected ones in. Ananth: ]]

    Most importantly, the guy had practically no support until the the latter half of his career. In 1950-51, all he had at the other end was Freddie Brown, Trevor Bailey and Tattersall. Some effort..

  • Swarzi on August 19, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    Ananth, a super performance once again. I'm sure that those guys who spent all their lives just chasing leather feel very much threatened by your intellect. As a result, they seem to be wilfully defiant of wanting to use your work in their judgements. I take it that they either cannot understand the depth of your analyses; or those who might be able to, think that it is they and not you who should be leading the discourse about the genuine attributes of cricket. It would appear that they do not read your pieces, or they would not continue to use data in its raw quantitative form to make the number of unfortunate errors they make about the performances of our cricketers. I would conclude by saying, that these analyses mirror the indisputable greats of the game - those names that surface over and over again. Any name (batsman or bowler)who does not appear among those greats that have been scientifically selected by these irrefutable figures would always be described as the 'arguablies'.

  • Nitin Gautam on August 19, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    @Ananth Harbhajan was in like a flash. Again my list is my preference. when bhajji did that epochal performance, he was in his prelims of his career. calling it a flash in the pan is like discounting his effort cos he was not up to the mark later is not fair. should evaluate a sportsman based on his performance on "as on date" basis. [[ When you want to misinterpret or misunderstand, anything is possible. I only meant that the performance went into the Reares' list in a flash not that Harbhajan's was a flash in the pan. Pl re-read my response. If I call a guy who has captured 400 wickets as a flash in a pan, I would have to be committed to an asylum. Ananth: ]]

    & please please dont take it personal but u saying "this is my list & no one should ques it" sound a bit arrogant. please pardon me if i am out of line here but dont feel it good. i am one of the biggest admirer for everything u hv brought to this kind of analysis & this is 1st thing in morning i always read but these statements seems like doubting the readers..AND I AM SORRY AGAIN IF YOU THINK I AM WRONG [[ Do not mistake my insistence that I have the right to select my list without being questioned as arrogance. If I select my list of best performances, can anyone insist that one spoecific performance MUST be included. Similarly if 10 people select their best performances can you guarantee that all ten selections will have one specific performance. Each will have their selections. When we have Bradman's credentials being questioned, there cannot be one player/performance in every list. For that matter you cannot guarantee this in any sport. Federer, Laver, Sampras, Nicklaus, Woods, Pele, Maradonna, Graf, Bradman et al cannot be guaranteed to figure in every list. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 19, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    Ananth, as always again a gem of an analysis. it always amused me to see how statistics can achieve such things. always thought Bhajji's 32 wickets out of total 50 fallen Aus wickets(thus 64% dismissal-2nd highest % of dismissal by single bowler in a series) against 1 of the best batting lineups of all time on the backdrop of 16 consecutive wins with no support from other end (sachin tuk 3 n he was 2nd best from India),was a super natural performance(much like many batting stalwarts did as shown in ur previous blogposts) but cant make the top 10 list(i know its in readers list).you mentioned Aus was not great team during Hadlee's exploits but still no pushovers in their own backyard but you discounted Cook's 766 against them in ashes-11 citing Aus was weak team.I cud nt understand this logic. you rated saqlain better than kumble saying Delhi(where he took 10) was such a pitch where anyone of Anil's salt had taken 10 but i guess saqlain,whom u rate better than him was also playing then. [[ Too long a comment to respond on road. Harbhajan was in like a flash. Again my list is my preference. That does not mean I rate non-selected performances lightly or that the non-selected performances are not better. Kumble could get in, certainly for the one-in-thousand performance. I was anyhow going to get him in. My only comment was, Saqlain was better in the specific series. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    I know it was a 5-test series, but the mighty `Dainty` Ironmonger`s 31 wickets at 9.54 in the 4 tests he played vs South Africa in `31/`32 deserve a mention.

    I believe he may hold a rather inauspicious record - taking more wickets than he scored runs in every series he played (only 4 series admittedly); 6-5, 22-10, 31-14, 15-13.

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    @Anantha. I notice you mention Hadlee`s 5 x 5 wicket hauls in 6 innings vs Oz. Not sure how many others have achieved this (equivalent to 5 tons in 6 innings?), but Rodney Hogg managed the same feat within his first 6 test innings (6,1,5,5,5,5) - `78/`79 vs the Poms. He took only 1 more 5 wicket haul in his next 35 tests. [[ i get the feeling Hogg is already in. If not, he will be , by tomorrow. Ananth: ]]

  • Shafiq on August 19, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    I rate Imran above Hadlee, coz of the Indian Batting Quality, on these pitches. Then Imran in WI in 88 with 23 wickets in 3 tests. Wasim 25 in 3 tests, it was away, but look at the circumstances after first episode of match fixinf scandal. Saqlain 20 in 2 tests in India.

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    @Anantha. It`s hard to argue with your choice of Hadlee at the top. I don`t think I can remember seeing a bowler as completely in control of his craft as Hadlee was in the `85/`86 series in Oz. It wasn`t a great Australian batting line-up, but he was totally dominant and seemed to do exactly what he wanted literally every ball. I have a clear memory of someone (Dean Jones?) getting the first bad ball of a long spell - half volley on leg - and in sheer surprise chipping it straight to mid-wicket. The way Hadlee was bowling, it was probably part of the plan. No complaints from me if he was chosen in an all-time World XI, and this was him at the peak of his powers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNW37MujrQk

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    OK, just to show that not all Aussie leggies have struggled in India, I propose R.Benaud`s 23 wickets at 16 (3 tests) in `56/`57, and his 29 at 19 (5 tests as captain) in `59/60.

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 4:43 GMT

    @rizwan. re. Warne`s `pathetic` performances in India. There`s no doubt Warne struggled in India (ave.43) against some excellent batting. For all his faults, he was never pathetic though.

    I refer you to the test stats for some of the best modern spinners in Australia; Saqlain (ave.34), Kumble(38), Swann (40), Qadir (61), Harbhajan (73), Murali (75). These guys also struggled on unfamiliar pitches against good batting sides, but I certainly wouldn`t use that term in reference to any of them.

    I don`t want to take anything away from Saqlain, who was an exciting bowler, and wonderful to watch. However, I`m not sure you do his case much good by overstating the strength of the team he took these wickets against, or by denigrating one of the great bowlers of all time.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 19, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Ananth, while you are seemingly in a mood to listen, let me push my luck a bit more...

    In your BQI computation, you used 1) CTD averages and 2) actual number of balls bowled in the innings by different bowlers. I see a contradiction here, as the first is an expected value of future performance, and the second is the actual incidence.

    As a consequence, Laxman's 281 was against 29.5, but in the same match, his 59 was against 25.4. The reason was that during the 281, he forced part timers to bowl, raising the BQI from 25 to 29. This 25 v/s 29 is in my opinion, an analmoly that must be corrected. Similar was Waugh's 200 pointed out by Shrikanthk.

    You can instead weight bowler averages by expected value of proportion of balls that top 7/8 bowlers in the team would bowl. This can be computed by taking CTD balls / innings for each bowler. E.g. Mohsin down to Sarfaraz could have weights ranging from 1% to 25% based on CTD balls / inn. These can be weights on bowler avgs to get BQI.

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    @Rizwan, hyperbole aside, just a few comments. Saqlain`s effort vs India in `98/`99 was exceptional. However, it was hardly achieved against an Indian team (Galacticos/Team India?? whatever...) in their prime. India were coming off a loss in a one-off test to Zimbabwe, and a series loss in NZ; and were soon to be whitewashed 3-0 in Oz, and lose both tests at home against SAf.

    `the best players of spin bowling ever assembled in the universe who were at their PRIME` - might be something of an overstatement.

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    I have to give a big rap to Rodney Hogg, playing in his debut series `78/`79, (also the first full series I remember watching as a young boy). Oz of course were badly beaten 5-1, against (due to Packer) probably the strongest test team at that time.

    Nevertheless, he bowled about 20 overs per innings for 6 straight tests, took 41 wickets (40 in the first 5 tests) at 12.85, SR of 42, economy rate of 1.81 - surely up there with the great debuts (batting or bowling) of all-time. His build/action/aggressive style were not unlike the more famous Andy Roberts. Unfortunately he was rarely able to reproduce such form again, but his performance in this series remains possibly the best I`ve seen. Great memories.

  • Boll on August 19, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    @Pawan. Fazal was undoubtedly an excellent bowler, although far more effective at home, particularly on matting. I believe the first 2 tests vs Windies in 1958/9 were on this `surface`. Having won the series, Pakistan agreed to played to 3rd test on turf, where WI won by an innings and Fazal took 2 for quite a few in the only innings. I believe Richie Benaud refused to play on mats on the next tour to Pakistan.

    So, 21 in 3 tests was an impressive effort, tempered somewhat by the refusal to play on turf pitches. [[ I am on the road and will just publish the comments without responding in detail. Ananth: ]]

  • Pawan Mathur on August 19, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    I would like to mention Fazal Mahmood's 21 wkts against a good West Indian side in the 1958-59 season(home). Along with the wickets,I would like to support his cause by the number of overs he bowled. In each of Pakistan's bowling innings in that series, he bowled the most overs, which I think is incredible for a fast bowler in sub continent (and may be rare too).

  • Rehan on August 18, 2011, 20:28 GMT

    I feel that the range in terms of weighting for the Quality of Wickets Captured may be skewed in favour of pace bowlers, seeing as they generally have first go at Top 6 batsmen. Perhaps this is countered somewhat by the fact that spinners bowl more overs than pace bowlers (again a generalisation) one-for-one, especially in the second innings. It just struck me that spinners might have less Top 6 dismissals simply because they have less chance to get them. Any thoughts on this? [[ Yes, that is true. By the same token the value to the team through pace bowlers capturing top order wickets earlier is more. Pl see the response to the query on Tayfield. Adcock and Heine made the task slightly easier for Tayfield. Over a long series/career this really does not matter.In a single Test this might matter. Ananth: ]]

  • shakir hasnain on August 18, 2011, 20:13 GMT

    Taking nothing away from Hadlee, Imran´s performance in that 82 series and in 88 against west indies cements his place amongst the top five pacemen of all time.

    I fail to see why you have rated his 1982 performance below Hadlee´s.

    No matter how you approach the statistics truth will out ! Imran Khan was the one man who took that glorious line up apart. [[ Hadlee's was away while Imran's was at home. I also do not agree on this sub-continent wickets being flat. Lahore/Karachi were not the Faisalabad of later years. Anyhow that is my selection. I am looking at it from a neutral perspective. And don't forget that I have put Imran's above Barnes/Laker/Alderman/Warne. Ananth: ]]

  • opulentempire on August 18, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    Even though you have mentioned these in your 5-test table already, the efforts of CV Grimmet (44 wickets against SAF in 5 tests in 1935/36) and MW Tate (38 wickets awat in Australia, adjusted upwards to 43.6) seem to be just as good if not better than some of the current readers suggestions.

    How is Tayfields wickets against England in 1956 weighted downwards? South Africa come back from 2 down to draw a series no one really gave them a chance in, thanks in no small part to Hugh Tayfield's 37 wickets.

    Got to give a shout out to Courtney Walsh. 34 wickets in 5 tests at 12 something in England in 2000, playing back to the wall with Ambrose in the last gasps of cricket's greatest dynasty. [[ I will revert in detail tomorrow. The 1958 series was at home. And Tayfield picked up lot of late order wickets. More often than not Adcock/Heine made earlier breakthroughs. England batting was no more than good, averaging around 34 through the series. The series never went to a decider stage. Ananth: ]]

  • Tanny on August 18, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    Imran, according to his autobiography, was really hobbled by his injury after the Hyderabad Test first innings (4th Test), so that's another plus point. He captured 33 wickets in the first four Tests, and only 7 in the last two.

  • Raghav Bihani on August 18, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    wonderful analysis. great to know about a few bowling performances totally out of mind, Some day you should publish a book out of this blog. Eagerly awaiting the allrounder analysis. Some performances like Warne in 2005 Ashes may qualify in that list too.

    The Warne series in Sri Lanka one year after his ban was closely followed by me. It was a Warne vs Murali classic where he trumped Murali in SL (helped no doubt by Aus Batsmen). [[ I will look at the later tomorrow. The advantage with these types of analyses is that all of us, me included, start learning more. For instance, Alderman's twin-blasts eight years back, quite dissimilar, the true recognition of Imran, the bowler, the respect people have for Saqlain, the below-average performances of the Indian bowlers away etc. Ananth: ]]

  • Mr Turner on August 18, 2011, 13:58 GMT

    John Snow vs Australia 1970-71. Say no more. [[ 31 in 6 Tests. He also faded away in the last 3 Tests (only 9 wkts). I agree 7 for 40 was something. However that was probably the one truly outstanding performance. Let me wait for a few days. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    On 1985-85 West Indies, numerically also, it must be proved that indeed it was the most terrifying attack in history. Perhaps a measure you can look at would be CTD away average for the English team, v/s series performance in that series. That would be a mesaure of the "impact" of the attack relative to other attacks. I am sure that if Gooch, who Alex swears by (and who was indeed very good), averaged 30, this was a savage attack. [[ Patterson ??? Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    Ambrose - overall avg 21.04

    A = Team Ist avg 21.79, B = team IInd 19.77. A/B - 1 = 10.2%;

    C = Away avg 20.78, D = Home Avg 21.19. C/D - 1 = -1.9%

    Hence Ambrose averaged 10% worse in team ist inn relative to team IInd. He averaged 1.9% better away than at home.

    Got this from Cricinfo. Can send XL [[ Thanks, Gerry. I am away for the day tomorrow and can see this in the evening only. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Ananth, I hope with the following, i can convince you on the merit of weaving team Ist inn and team IInd inn into the BQI computation. I had a hunch that differences will be very significant, as much as home/away. Please see the following arranged as name; excess of Team I over team II average; excess of away over home average - Ambrose, 10.2%, -1.9%; Botham, -1.8%, 7.6%; Donald, 23.0%, 6.1%; Hadlee, 6.7%, -5.4%; Harbhajan, 46.6%, 36.6%; Imran, 1.2%, 34.2%; Kapil, 19.1%, 24.0%; Kumble, 20.9%, 44.1%; Lillee, -10.4%, 2.3%; McGrath, 3.4%, -4.8%; Marshall, 17.4%, 7.5%; Murali, 13.6%, 42.1%; Ntini, 2.3%, 55.0%; Pollock, -0.7%, 21.8%; Vaas, 13.2%, 22.9%; Vettori, -10.0%, -10.5%; Walsh, 44.1%, 5.6%; Waqar, 20.4%, 27.9%; Warne, 22.7%, -3.4%; Wasim, 24.3%, 10.8%; Willis, 12.2%, 15.7%;

    These are the top wicket taking bowlers in history. You can see by taking a simple average of the % that the two factors are equally significant. [[ I don't get the numbers. Can you lay down the complete set of numbers for one bowler, say Ambrose. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on August 18, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    I would add Malcolm Marshall's 35 wickets in 5 tests at 12.88 in 1988 in England and his 33 wickets at 18.71 in 6 tests in India in 1983-84.Also Curtly Ambrose's record 33 wkts in 5 tests in 1992-93,Michael Holding's 24 wickets in 3 tests in Australia in 1981-82 ,Andy Roberts 32 wickest in India in 5 tests in 1974-75 ,Imran Khan's 23 wickets in 3 tests in West Indies in 1988 and Dennis Lillee's 23 wickets in 3 games againsnt England in 1979-80.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 11:49 GMT

    Agree with Pallab. The most terrifying attack of all time, IMO is the West Indies 1985-86 attack against England, when the won 5-0. The pacers took 97 wickets. Best bowling Patrick Patterson 4-29. He was the fourth bowler! [[ Unfortunately not as per my BQI. Going by results, probably Yes. However there were three great bowlers with averages of 21.xx, 23.xx and 21.xx. However Patterson made his debut and his numbers would not be great. Even his career avge was 30.91. So you can cut, slice and dice any whichever way,, this was way off the best bowling side. The BQI is 29.xx. Replace Patterson with Croft. In one of the earlier Tests, taken at randon, the BQI is 22.xx. Results ??? Fine. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 18, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    This bowler series performance blog highlights the “obstacles” each of the Caribbean 4some in different combinations faced in picking more than 20 plus wickets in most series.That’s why I feel for Holding.For me, he would have been the 1st pace bowler to have crossed the 400 wicket mark if he did not have to share his spoils with the other incisive/penetrating “as hungry for spoils” bowlers in his team. While Thommo, Lillee and Roberts,Holding (Imran had not peaked yet), were the quickest 4 in 70s ,Holding was actually the MOST fearsome and lethal with clear intent to hurt. He was a majestic lion and a cunning hyena combined in his “Whispering Death” run-up to the crease looking to defang/decapitate his prey. He “specialized” in top-order wickets and raised his game against the rated batsmen of his era accounting for Boycott (6 times),Gavaskar (11 times!),Gooch (8 times),Amarnath (3)Greg C (4).In this era, McGrath did this well while walking the talk.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    Am not a great admirer of Saqlain. he mastered doosra (but not invented - we are insulting greats of the past if we say that they would not have thought of doosra) which is a highly questionable delivery. i feel Swann does not bowl doosra and is hence genuine. Doosra is not a strictly legitimate delivery, regardless of what the tweaked 15% rule book may say.

  • Smudge on August 18, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    I realise that your reply to Karthik covers this to a degree, but I'm not sure of the value of the "away from home" factor for bowlers. Although acknowledging that bowlers probably get selected for their skill in domestic cricket in their home conditions, they do not neccessarily do better at home than away. Praveen Kumar is never going to do as well in India as he does in England- in fact over recent years at least I'd be surprised if many Indian seamers have better averages at home than away. That particular Pakistani breed of fast seam bowlers which they seem to have produced from Imran onwards would also prefer foreign conditions. The great West Indian quicks also loved English condition whereas English bowlers I'm sure suffer away from home. I realise that is covered, to an extent, by your factor no 5, but I wonder if the away factor is entirely helpful. [[ Tennis elbow be damned. I have got a idea through the recenmt series of comments. A magnum opus on Home/Away. Every aspect, team, batting and bowling. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    Ananth, let me clarify. I am NOT saying that we compute 4 way CTD averages as many bowlers will have too few wickets.

    I am saying that on one plane, we have home / away. On another plane, we have team 1st inn, 2nd inn. Then if you multiply the two factors that should be sufficient. This way you should not encounter problem of bowlers having too few wickets in any bucket. Complexity will not be quadrupled. Accuracy will rise manifold.

    Home away delta is not any greater than 1st inn, 2nd inn delta. So IMO, the latter cannot be ignored. [[ Gerry, Home/Away is clear-cut. First/second innings is not. The second inninmgs could be the third or fourth innings. Could be on the third or fifth days. These are not necessarily similar. Anyhow let me look at it in some peace. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 18, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    I agree with Rizwan's point. Since Readers' selection is subjective, we should look at Strength and weakness of opposition batsmen. 1)Warne took 40 wkts ag. Eng who are poor players of quality spin. [[ I am not sure whether this correct. Warne bowled against Strauss, Vaughan, Pietersen and Bell who are not Cullinan-clones. If that is so why did/does Harbhajan/Mishra not have some success at least. Where did this Ënglish are poor players of spin"crop up. What about the Indians. What type of attack are they weak against. Äny such theory would have been blown sky-hgh both during 2007 and 2011. And where are the Tests being played. Ananth: ]]

    2)Now, Alderman's both the efforts look much better since Eng. Batsmen are better players of swing bowling. 3)Similarly, Ambrose (1991-92 Aus tour) Saqlain's efforts is on par if not better.(ag. india 1999)

    Isn't Stuart Clark's 20 wkts comparable to Mendis's effort. He was in debut series against SAF(away) who are better players of pace bowling. Aus won 3-0.

  • Smudge on August 18, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    Ananth. Interesting analysis as ever. I didn't think this would work as well as the equivalent batting table, but the results are pretty good I think.I hope the elbow is holding up. As a slightly tangential consequence of your ananlysis, Murali dominates the 3 test series table- inevitably as Sri Lanka have tended only to be given 3 match series. Looking at his career, I wonder whether you feel he got his record tally of wickets "because of" or "in spite of" only getting short series? Copmparisons with Warne, who got more longerer series are of course inevitable. I was delighted to see Fred Titmus getting a mention as i always imagine how the band "Half Man Half Biscuit" would react. [[ This is a peculiar problem as can be seen in the tables. Playing in 6-test series the bowlers do not automatically get more wickets. Same for batsmen. I get the feeling that the bowlers/batsmen get jaded over the series. This need not necessarily happen at the end only. Probably the optimum is 5. 4 becomes like 6. Re 3-test series, probably the tests have more meaning, and are almost always more competitive except the not-so-common 2-0-at-the-end-of-2-Tests situation. Maybe Murali perfected the art of bowling in the 3-test series. HMHB also come from Merseyside, so they better be good. They have probably done more for folk music than Titmus. However Titmus was the only Englishman to shine in an otherwise awful series. Barrington and Bolus almost killed cricket. Not that the Indian team tried something different. They were quite happy at the maidens which were churned out by Nadkarni. Did you know that Titmus got less per toe lost in the West Indian boat accident (22.5 pounds) than he conceded for every wicket in 1964. The Tennis Elbow was becoming better. Now with the spate of typing over the past two days, is again acting up. I ahave been advised use of cold gelto cool the elbow area. Seems to give some relief. Thanks for remembering. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    Ananth, will your improved BQI consider CTD team Ist innings and team IInd innings averages separately? I feel that is likely to be a huge imporovement in accuracy, because almost all bowlers, with some exceptions like McGrath, Garner, have higher Ist inn avgs compared to second inns. My favourite examples are Warne (Ist inn 30% higher than 2nd) and Caddick (80%). The BQI concept assumes that the batting average has been generated in the same conditions as the BQI, and hence to preserve this, i feel that Team Ist and Team IInd CTD / Recent avgs should be used. It can then be multiplied with the home / away CTD differential.

    The alternative to have 4 CTDs - home Ist, home IInd, away Ist, away IInd will not be reliable due to sample size limitations. [[ I get a feeling that the complexity levels are increased for no valid reasons. Already I have CTD Home/Away. To furthe get this to CTD Home/Away First/Second innings will quadruple the complexity levels for some minimal theoretically percieved benefits. The other problem is that by splitting into too many levels, the numbers for those who have got below 200 wickets will get diluted down considerably. This will make everything lopsided. I think I already have enough. Do look at the many players who have not captured a zillion wickets. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    Ananth, a comment from me which may have got missed - using the example of Imran, which seems to be actively discussed - would like to question why he is at 3.02 relative to peers. He was good, but not that good. The metric is inflated because of two other factors 1) that our bowling was incredibly weak, with Kapil Dev having little support and 2) their batting was fantastic, and highly experienced. This resulted in horrendous averages for our bowlers and Imran's stats get positively influenced by this, which is counter-intuitive.

    I feel that all bowlers bowling in extremely one-sided contests will benefit from this similarly. I feel that this metric should be tempered by taking into account the difference between the series batting averages of the two teams - the higher the difference, the lower the credit to the bowler. [[ I do not agree. We are measuring how well Imran bowled in comparison with other bowlers in the series. If he performed 3 times he gets a weighting factor of 1.3, which I think is very fair. The 3.0 is only an interim measure. I am not going to complicate this by an arbitrary batting measure. The bowling conditions are the same for both teams. If one bowler bowled against weaker batting team, he might gain in this but lose in the quality measure. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 18, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    Now coming to spinners against Indian Galacticos (as mentioned by @Rizwan): I SWEAR I have never seen a more craftier spinner than Saqlain (S. Gupte was way ahead of my time and no clips of him available, Benaud’s exploits in India are rarely shown on Cricket Classics programs, Underwood was more workmanlike than crafty). Saqlain was wily, sharp, and intuitive and plotted downfalls with precision (he was like what Hadlee was to seam/fast-medium bowling) and used his doosra with telling effect. His drift used to draw/lure batsmen outside the crease and he had a PHENOMENAL ODI career (backed with records). He made even “master” Sidhu (albeit fading) look like a novice in 1998 ODI Tri-series in Dhaka. Saqlain’s performance in ’99 series was easily the most stellar performance by a spinner against India’s accomplished batsmen at their peak (Mendis was in 2008 against a slightly aging side). [[ I think I am going to have as much trouble fending off the growing band of Saqlain-supporters as the Indian batsmen had during 1999. So, in goes Saqlain. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 18, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    While watching matches,I usually try and gauge how high-calibre batsmen tackle extreme pace or quality seam/swing bowled b/w 75-85 mph. Aus batsmen could not cope with Akthar’s hostile pace in 2002(with no back-up whatsoever) and swing allied with fair pace in 2005 Ashes. McGrath generally held the wood over India’s accomplished 5 (including Sehwag),even though Laxman,Sehwag and Tendulkar (in 1999) did look to attack him. In recent series, swing again accounted for Indian batsmen (pace was hardly threatening like the Caribbean speedsters of yore).Steyn is another who has bothered India with pace allied with swing. Every Indian remembers young Shoaib’s pacy thunderbolts to SRT/Dravid in 1999.

  • Karthik on August 18, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Great work! A question: Reg Pitch type: when you say "wickets captured on seaming/spinning bowler-friendly tracks are weighted less and on flat tracks, weighted more"...Do you give more credit if a pace bowler picks wickets in spin-bowler-friendly conditions and vice-versa, rather than just on flat-tracks?

    Esp, when pace bowlers like Marshall picked wickets 33 wickets in the series against India where the ball doesnt rise above knee-level, it has got to be a stupendous effort (beyond the extra-credit for being an 'away' match. [[ No. This was an additional explanation on the bowlers/batsmen who play away. Marshall will gain 10% for playing away. And I don't think we can make blanket statements. In India, Eden Gardens, Chandigarh, Nagpur (at times) have been helpful to pace bowlers. Great bowlers do well in almost all connditions, at varying levels. Warne might have missed in india but has done well in England, SA and WI. So I think the 10% extra credit is sufficient. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    On Imran's bowling I recollect that the pattern used to be a high risk pattern - he was extremely fast (Malcolm Marshall league) in his first spell, and would wing the ball from the very beginning, without waiting for the old ball, and in subsequent spells, cut down on his pace, keep operating for long spells, and generate reverse swing. He always made major breakthroughs in that first spell, so it paid off for him in three consecutive test matches. Thereafter he chilled out in 5th and 6th tests. Vishwanath's Karachi cleanbowled would have bowled Gavaskar or Richards or Sobers - no one could have kept that delivery out. It would have been madness to play at it as it was a fast wide outswinger, and there was no time to react when it cut back.

  • Rizwan on August 18, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    Ananth, you have to include Saqlain Mushtaq's 20 wickets IN INDIA against the best players of spin bowling ever assembled in the universe who were at their PRIME.If one considers Warne's pathetic performance in India, the magnitude of Saqlain's bravura effort in comparison is an all time best.

    Warne took 40 wickets against a team that never played spin well.But Saqlain took on the Gallacticos in their own den and came out tops.I think he took Tendulka's wicket 3 times in the series.That alone says a lot about his effort.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 18, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    Also Ananth, instead of 5% on neutral and 10% for away, i feel you can crack this problem once and for all - all you need to do is have a home team and visitor team batting average index (perhaps by decade, but if significant variations are not there, abandon decade concept). That will enable you to assign weights for different countries home and away to give / subtract credit from bowlers performance. [[ I have completed the major work of compiling c-t-d averages by both home/away/recent form factors. So the BQI will, within a fortnight, be almost perfect. Re the above sugegstion, I will look at it carefully. I do not think this is a substitute for home/away. That benefit cannot be wished away. I have already mentioned the safeguards which are there. But I am not going to take away that benefit. It is too drastic a step for some minimal adjustment. Ananth: ]]

    This is separate from what i suggested in a previous article, where, for the purpose of deciding BQI (group 1-2-3-4-5 etc.), the bowler's CTD (or recent) averages can be separately computed for home / abroad, which will obviate the need for weightages. This need not be country wise.

  • Pallab on August 18, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    Imran’s pace accounted for Vishy meeting his Waterloo and sayonara from Tests. Ironically, Jimmy who made his debut with Vishy in 1969 made his celebrated comeback in same series. Also, the Karachi Freemantle (much like the Perth Freemantle Doctor) comprising gusty, sea winds did help Imran with his 8-wicket haul in 2nd innings in Karachi Test. @Alex/Gerry:Any recollections/reminiscences as youngsters following that series?. Used to rush back from school to catch play after lunch on all days. @Ananth: I second @Ajinkya’s recommendation of Mendis’ series. Absolute peach performance by a debut spinner (mystery or not) against the most accomplished players of spin of this era. [[ Yes, Mendis will be included. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 18, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    @Alex/Gerry/Ananth (all of whom would have followed Imran’s 40 wickets series in Pak’83 ): I feel it was the FIRST real showcase of reverse swing bowling in international cricket by Pakistani bowlers (Sarfraz’s 11 wicket haul in Melbourne ’79 cannot be considered as umpires would have been more watchful and OZ grounds traditionally never aids reverse) with devastating results for opposing team. But without denigrating Imran’s efforts (as the EXTREME pace he generated were thru his own skills), I feel shadowy practices were used to scuff the ball and keep it dry and shiny for Imran and Sarfraz. (Dry, dusty pitches in India/Pak helps reverse swing more even as early as 23-30 overs as against by 50-60 which Jones,Harmison,Flintoff achieved in 2005 Ashes). Sandhu has almost alluded to the same very recently and said that Indian batsmen just could not pin down what was happening with the ball (REVERSE SWING was not part of cricket lexicon then!).TBC

  • Ruchir on August 18, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    Ananth: I feel that the series average comparison should only include the bowler's own team and not the other team as that will be a true peer comparison of bowlers against the same batsmen under similar conditions/fielding/captaincy

    For example, if Broad takes 25 wickets in this series at 15, his performance would be very good if the rest of the English attack took 55 at 20 but it would be great if they took 45 at 35 Why should the Indian bowling taking 40 at 40 have any impact on Broad's performance? It could be because the English batsmen are better than the Indians or the Indian bowling is crap or the pitch is relatively easy for batting(but you already account for that in the pitch quality) [[ I did my initial exercise based on this. What happened was that the bowler's own performance influenced the final numbers a lot. In other words, if he did very well, that rubbed off on the team's totals and he got little credit. And comparison with the rest of the team was a non-starter. The ratios were way out. The total series comparisons, on the other hand, seemed better in all respects. Truly peer comparisons across matches. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 18, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    Feels good to see Hadlee being acknowledged. His status in history almost seemed lost due to the lethality of the Caribbean 3some (Marshall,Holding,Garner) in the 80s and the flamboyant personality of Imran/Botham (to back their exploits). Even though Australia was in that free-fall phase after Big 3 (Greg,Marh, Lillee) retirement and batting caliber was OK in that series, too many extraneous factors come into play even while playing relatively weaker OZ teams on their own soil and so Hadlee’s efforts were superhuman (as it was for much of his career) and added steel (along with classy M. Crowe) to NZ efforts in 80s. (no loss to WI during 80s at home). “Experts” did not deem it fit to consider him fit for 2 Cricinfo All-Time XIs!

  • shrikanthk on August 18, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    The Australians, despite McDonald, Harvey, Craig, Davidson, Miller, Benaud, Lindwall et al, had no answers

    Albeit on doctored pitches. Here's some precious video on the 1956 Ashes -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxxciwAsIYY

    [[ Every country, barring Australia, doctors pitches. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 18, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    One of the most consequential bowling performances of all time is Bill O'Reilly's 22 wickets (at 28 a piece) in the 1938 Ashes. There is no way it will feature in anybody's list.

    But this was an instance of one bowler deciding the fate of the Ashes for the next 8 years. The Australians were heavily dependent on O'Reilly. And O'Reilly delivered when it mattered most in the Leeds test match by taking 10 wickets. The other pitches were very flat where O'Reilly couldn't possibly have made a difference all by himself.

    In 1934, Grimmett was just as big a force in the bowling attack and it is quite possible that Australia might have won the Ashes without O'Reilly. But in 1938, we had only 4 tests that were played. In the timeless test, an Australian loss was almost assumed (given that England won the toss). The other tests were of 4-days duration. In each of those tests, England won the toss and batted first (thus negating O'Reilly partly). Yet, O'Reilly made sure that the Ashes stay home.

  • Ruchir on August 18, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Ananth: the home/away bias can sometimes be misleading. For example Alderman's bowling was perfectly suited for English conditions. Infact his average in Eng is about 10 runs below his career avg. Probably Imran's performance against India would weigh higher than Alderman's if the latter's away advantage is taken away. This is not to detract from Alderman's superb series

    I know there is no objective way to account for pitch/conditions and bowler type. Even England has the Oval which does not suit swing/seam, so you cannot make a general rule unless you somehow figure out the ratio of wickets by fast v/s slow bowlers at each ground and then weigh accordingly. Too complicated i guess to account for corner cases... [[ As complicated as Sriram's excellent sugestion on valuing a Laxman wicket by the Aussie bowlers higher than that of, say, Dravid. And finally not worth it. That sort of resource can be put in only when the requirement is for a much wider, deeper and longer-standing effort. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 18, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    Ajantha Mendis at home in 2008 vs India- although his 26 wickets in 3 Tests were achieved on turning tracks at home, he was playing his debut series, that too against a batting lineup containing colossal players of spin bowling- Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman. He managed to mesmerise nearly all of them, and this is a stunning performance for a spinner debuting against Indians.

  • Ananth on August 18, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    The Readers list was meant to be an add-on and not the only thing. Almost all the comments I have received have been readers pushing for their selections. There is no comment on the methodology, the parameters used or the weights. No one has mentioned about the method of valuing wicket quality. Nor on the peer comparisons. Nor on the method of weighting wickets. In my next article I will not have my selections nor readers lists. For this article I will have a 48 hour time period, starting now, during which comments only pushing a bowler performance will be published without response and no action will be taken.. I suggest readers go through the article and make comments on the article. In other words the Readers' list has been frozen at this point. Let there be insights like Tom's comment on Alderman's two contrasting tours.

  • Engle on August 17, 2011, 23:58 GMT

    I put in a word for John Snow, who made the difference in the series below

    1. 1970 Ashes in Australia, obtained 31 wkts at 22.83. Other teammates not close. Willis 12 wkts at 27+, Lever 13 wkts at 33+ Underwood 16 wkts at 32+ For Aus, only Gleeson 14 wkts at 43+ and A.Thomson 12 wkts at 54+ obtained over 10 wkts.

    2. 1967-in W.Indies obtained 27 wkts in 4 matches at 18.66 each. Next best Eng. pacer D.Brown got 14 wkts at 32.71 in 4 matches. WIndies pacers were not close, though Gibbs got 20 wkts at 30.50 apiece. [[ Will look at all these. Ananth: ]]

  • Tom on August 17, 2011, 23:45 GMT

    I won't argue with your analysis, but I will comment on Alderman's 1989 series. 1989 is a year of infamy in English cricket- as someone commented, if 1988 was the summer of four captains, 1989 was the summer of 400 players. The team was reshuffled after every match with batsmen being parachuted in and out, played out of position and in insufficient numbers (in the fifth Test England used only five specialist batsmen). 1989 was apparently also a year in which the pitch quality in England was unusually poor, although this isn't borne out by the Test figures. I'm inclined to favour his 1981 figures, and Warne's 2005 wickets, over Alderman's 1989 for that reason- the batsmen he dismissed in 1989 were probably of a higher class (than in either 81 or 05) but the team was in disarray and only Robin Smith of England's batsmen was in good form. [[ Tom, many thanks. One of the bext comments I have received. You have not questioned my selection, as some have done, rather you have analyzed in depth the two tours of Alderman. The story behind the scorecards is almost always ignored by me but it is the duty of the readers to bring it to light especially where subjective selections have to be made. The 1989 tour is much better, as far as Alderman was concerned. Funny thing is I had seen more of Alderman's 81 matches than 89 matches. I have gone on the top order dismissals, quality of batsmen dismissed et al. I have also been influenced by the weighting factor, 1.289 agaibnst 1.034. So the 1989 seems definitely the far superior performance, but with the cloud of what really happened hanging over it. I will leave it as it is but acknowlledge your excellent contribution. Please remember that Warne's 2005 performance is already there. I will include the 1981 performance in the Readers'list. Ananth: ]]

  • Tim Roth on August 17, 2011, 21:19 GMT

    Instead of doing analysis first and then tinkering with the list due to readers request, why don't you conduct a poll and let readers choose a list ? You can then publish it and post your comments on them. Your list, as you claim, is not based on any theory but cricketing common sense— then why not choose wisdom of the crowd instead. [[ First this is not the Poll corner of Cricinfo. There are other mechanisms. They may be running a poll now on whether India should play Raina or not. 20000 people would answer the question. I have 100 committed readers, that is all. What poll can I run. I will have 101 selections. What I do is to run the complete analysis, which is ignored by the readers for some strange reason, make my selections and let the readers add to it. This will entertain and educate the readers and let them have a sense of participation. Where did you deduce that my selection is based on cricketing sense only. My selection is very strongly influenced by the numbers but is coloured by my own perferences, that is all. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on August 17, 2011, 20:12 GMT

    Ananth: Once again a wonderful article. Where would McDermott's 31 wickets vs India in 1991-92 rank according to your analysis? If my memory serves me right, he had India tottering at 70-6 in most of the innings. One thing that may work against him though is that the line up consited of an ageing Shastri, Srikkanth, Vengsarkar and Kapil and a fairly inexperienced Manjrekar and Tendulkar (although Tendulkar did announce himself with a couple of magnificient 100s). [[ Anand, will look into this. Ananth: ]]

  • Deb Chatterjee on August 17, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    Great authors like Cardus wrote about the spirit of cricket, not just dull statistics. Cricinfo always starts from the statistics. So, the article fails to capture great performances based on spirit, not based on numbers. Sikander Bakht held the Pak bowling entirely on his own during Asif Ikbal's Pak team's India tour, 1979-80. Marshall's 5 in 35 on Indian tracks should have been ahead of Imran's 6 for 41 on home tracks. Finally, Andy Roberts most probably bowled the fastest spells ever seen in India, during 1974-75 series. Where are these performances? [[ First of all I am not Cardus. Do not insult Cardus by bringing him into this. This corner is a Cricket Analysis corner. there is no place for purely subjective articles here. Although no one is going to question if I write a non-analytical article here, that can only be an exception. For that I suggest you read Sambit Bal, Ian Chappell, Sharada Ugra, Osman: all excellent writers. Your complaint is like someone telling Sambit Bal why he does not write analytical articles, based on numbvers. Also if I write a non-numbers based article, following my heart, I will recive 100 comments pushing in numbers to support their claim that I am wrong. If you like these performances push them for consideration. Why do you question my selections. Or, like Tom, have valid basis for your arguments. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghuraman on August 17, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    Hey Ananth,

    Nice work buddy. I just want to reiterate the fact that Saqlain's bowling in '99 series was mesmerizing to say the least. One could see the steely resolve in his eyes through that two-match series. Even though I'm an ardent Indian fan I was simply blown away by Saqi's fantabulous skills showcased against champion players of spin bowling like Rahul, Sachin, Azhar, Sourav. (I'm not including VVS since he hardly faced Saqlain I guess in that series). Jumbo's feats in that series needs a special mention too.

  • bilal on August 17, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    hi ananth,

    I always wonder is it more difficult to get a higher number of wickets in a series where a particular bowler has no support lets say a heath streak toiling all day! or for a pace attack that has competition in its ranks like west indies or pakistan or the early nineties! I assume that since murali didn't have much support at the other end he had more opportunities to bag a 5'er than a marshal or holding or waqar or mgrath and if they did bag loads its just because of their sheer presence and talent. is their any way to answer this question [[ What you say makes more sense in a home series. When Murali bowls in Sri Lanka where he is king and the next bowler is not half as good as he is, he is likely to get more wickets. Your point will probably hold good. However it is a different case outside. In England, if he captures a higher proportion, that is through his skill, playing in alien conditions. At home if Slk takes 60 wickets he might very well take 30+ out of these. In England they are unlikely to take 60 wickets. They might only take 40. Then a 24 there has much more value and he has to be given full, and higher credit. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 17, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    @Ananth:

    1. Like Gerry, I too think Holding's 24 in 3 vs Aus (1981) merits a selection: 16 Top 7 wickets, ave=14 & SR=35 vs a strong Aussie batting line up.

    2. Garner's finest hour: 31 in 5 vs Aus '83-'84 at ave=17, SR=40. This was a home series though and, further, Aussies were totally outplayed by WI in all departments.

    3. Steyn: 20 in 2 vs NZ (2007) at ave=9.2, SR=17!! You have not included 2-test series but such short series have become a norm now.

    I looked up the likes of Trumble, Peel, & Richardson but they have not had a really big series. Trumble once did 3 in 24 in an Ashes but did not bowl in the other 2 tests for some reason. [[ Will look at Holding and Garner. One thing most of the readers have forgotten is that you could send your selection from the many performances listed in the tables. I have not included but that does not mean that the readers should not recommend the same. Why go into 2-match series and the like. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 17, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    Since you are looking at sub-25; Holding in 1981-82, strong OZ team, 24 @14 in 3 tests. WI won third test to draw 1-1, very tight series.

    Also Jeff Thomson - 33 @17; vs England 1974-75; played 5 of 6 tests. England players still have nightmares about him. Any dejected Indian fan would do well to study youtube uploads to watch England batsmen against Thomson, to console himself. Of course, needless to say, current Indian batsmen, helmeted or not, would have insisted on reversing batting order. [[ Too late to look at the series in detail. Will do so tomorrow. Ananth: ]]

  • vedagiri on August 17, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    really nice work.

  • nikul on August 17, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    Ananth: I am simply expressing my disaggrement with a particular exclusion frm ur list..... believe as a reader i can do that... I do apogolize if my way of expressing it was incorect..i did not want to antognize you.... [[ Why bring in the anti-Indian bias. Just a statement "I am surprised to see Harbhajan;s 32 wkt haul being excluded." would have sufficed. Also I have only presented my own selections. This does not mean that there are not other performances, which might very well be better than the ones selected. And the main tables are more important than my selections. Ananth: ]] ND harbhajan's performance being top most in the reader's list kinda says it all doesnt it...:).. [[ Says what all. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 17, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Would support Manish's nomination of Hogg, 41 wkts against England, 1978 - one of the genuine lone hands, with England winning 5-1. Also Kapil Dev, 29 wickets v/s West Indies, probably the strongest batting line up ever, 1983-84, nearly won the Ahmedabad test through a 9 wkt performance in the second innings. Kapil Dev, 32 against Pakistan, 1979-80 @17/wkt; though the tracks were not exactly flat; but his bowling won the series for us. [[ I will look at Hogg's performance carefully. Will also look at the other two Kapil performances. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 17, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    Murali has atleast 4 25+ wicket hauls in 3 match series. It would be a travesty if he does not get into the list

    Pak away (99/00) SA home (00) Eng home (03/04) Aus home (03/04)

    But my favorite is in Eng (06) where he got 24 in 3 tests. He got 8 out of the top 10 in the 2nd innings of the 3rd test which SL won. Considering how Harbhajan has performed in Eng., this is a great performance for an off spinner [[ Ruchir, this is a gem. And when I look at the series, I find that 19 of Murali's 24 wickets are 1-6 batsmen. Sri Lanka drew only because of Murali's 8-wkt effort in the fourth innings at Nottingham. Since this got under the 25 wkt bar, the weighting factor is not available. I expect that to be around 1.3, amongst the best, moving this performance to around 31. I think I will get this in as the first sub-25 wicket performance. I will also look at Kumble's Australian performance carefully. Ananth: ]]

  • nikul on August 17, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    anath: I am a huge fan of your blogs.. But you reek of an anti-india bias..I am surprised how you contrived to exclude harbhajan's performane against the aussies in 2000-01.. [[ I think you are close to crossing the line. My choice is my choice. No reader has the right to comment on that. I have already mentioned this. Do you have the right to say that I must include a certain performance. No you do not have. And you have conveniently forgotten that before you read the blog I had included Harbhajan's performance in the Readers' list. Please remove the coloured class you are wearing. Ananth: ]]

    Also,i read a comment of your;s saying you rate Sqlain's performance in chennai test higher than kumble's 10 fer in kotla in same series...That's bringing in ur personal bias i believe ...:).. [[ Kumble's 10-wkts is a twice-in-135-years performance. No one needs to remind me on that. However on that Delhi pitch virtually any spinner worth his salt would have won the match. Saqlain won the Chennai match which had been virtually lost. In overall performance and taken in context, Saqlain's is better. For your information Kumble's 10-wkt haul is second in the Wisden-100 bowling performance list created by me, just ahead of Laker's 10-wkt effort. So I suggest you think carefully before commenting. I have a problem with Indian Cricket today. That is my personal view. Ananth: ]]

  • subhi on August 17, 2011, 15:01 GMT

    Imran's 40 wickets were the standout in the modern era along with warne's in 2005 Ashes. BUT Imran's came in flat dead wickets of Pakistan and in winning cause wheras warne's otherwise.

  • Ruchir on August 17, 2011, 13:39 GMT

    Alan Davidson : 33 in 5 v/s WI in the 60/61 series. He actually played only in 4 matches but even if we consider it a 5 match haul, its pretty good. He took 11, 8 ,8 and 6 in the 4 he played [[ The x-test series is only for proper classification. I will certainly consider the number of tests played while looking at Readers' choice. Davidson's deserves to go in for his contributions in a historic series. He will be there right at the top in the next article also. Ananth: ]]

  • basab ray on August 17, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    408 1999 IND-Pak Vaas WPUJC (Slk) 267.00 1 Is it Chaminda Vaas? please correct. [[ It is both right and wrong. This was in the Asian Test Championship and Vaas genuinely had these figures. I did not filter these series for this segment of analysis. I will remove this since this not really a bi-lateral series. Ananth: ]]

  • Sim on August 17, 2011, 12:47 GMT

    I fully agree with your choice of Paddles as best ever series performer.

    He took the fight to a good, albeit not quite great, Australian team on home soil and Hadlee was never supported by another genuinely high class bowler throughout his career.

  • Manish on August 17, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Anil Kumble during the 2003-04 series in Australia, took 24 wickets but in only 3 tests. He might have won India the series had he had better support. I think you must give more preference to people who have had to carry the weight of the bowling attack on their shoulders. Murali, Hadlee had virtually 0 support. Similarly Harbhajan, when he took 32 wickets, had no support. Rodney Hogg's performance probably goes up a notch because of that. [[ Please understand that I do not have to give any justification for my selection. I am giving you an opportunity to push your case in. Please do so and justify the same. Which Rodney Hogg's performance ? Re Kumble's I do not understand your comments on the possibility of India winning. First Test was comfortably drawn. No chance of a result. Second Test was won by India through Agarkar and Dravid. Third Test was won by a mile by Australia. The fourth Test was comfortably drawn since Australia were 338 for 4 with just a few overs to go. And Kumble took half his wickets in this Test. This is being told without in any way minimizing Kumble's lion-hearted performance. Ananth: ]]

  • Paul on August 17, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    Being an Aussie, I feel somewhat of a turncoat for mentioning it, but what about Larwood's 33 wickets in the Bodyline series? If you look at just the numbers, and take aside the tactics, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the English bowlers that series. 33 wickets at 19.51, and the next best were Allen and Voce with 21 and 15 wickets, at the averages of 28.23 and 27.17 respectively. Plus, he got Bradman 4 times out of the 8 chances he had (Bradman missed the first test), and 23 wickets of the 33 were from the top 7. Australia's batting line up was pretty decent in that series too! I think it deserves consideration, if for nothing else than it remains the most infamous performance by a bowler of all time! [[ SInce Larwood himself became an Aussie later in life, you are probably justified in pushing his case. His collection of top order wickets is proof enough of the impact he had. He was also a great soldier, doing exactly what his General ordered him to do. He was primarlily responsible for the 4-1 thrashing of a team which had Bradman, Woodfull, McCabe, Richardson and Ponsford. Let us get him in, on merit. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 17, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    1992-93 Ambrose 33 wkts v/s Australia was very special. He won the series with decisive spells in Adelaide and Perth. His Adelaide performances in both innings were in Wisden 100, and one of them was the 4-46 (sub 5wkt). Top class Aussie line up, as good as the 1999 batting team. West Indies batting was very weak, restarting under a new captain, and West Indies were 0-1 after 3 tests. Still they won 2-1. [[ One heck of a justification. All true of course. The 1-run win being the cherry on top. And in that innings Ambrose's 4 for 46 was memorable. I think you have convinced me. The gentle giant gets in straight. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 17, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    Kumble's 23 in 4 tests in WI (06) is probably the best performance by an Indian spinner abroad except maybe Gupte's 27 in 5 in WI also

    Both deserve another look [[ First Kumble's. Dioes this really belong to an elite group. Only once did Kumble dominate. In teh last Test when he took 6 wickets. Even then the last 6 wickets. Granted he took India to a win. But otherwise not an earthh-shaking performance. Gupte's was probably more important. West indies were stronger. India had no great pace attack. So Gupte and Mankad had to shoulder bulk of the bowling load. Will move it to the short list. Ananth: ]]

  • Pavan on August 17, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    My selection is one of Warne's, the 2004 SL-Aus series in SL. 26 wickets with 10 wickets each in the first 2 tests. Warney was making a comeback to the team after being banned for an year for Doping .Observing the scorecards, Warne & Murali both took 10 wickets in the 1st match. Has this happened frequently? [[ While I agree that this was a wonderful performance in an away series, albiet on spinning wickets, I am going to keep this under consideration only since Warne's best has already been included. But rest assured that this will be in the shortlist always. In fact I have strengthened the short list process now by marking these on the all-inclusive data file so that I would not have to go back to the comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 17, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    1998, SAF in England, series famous for duel between Atherton and donald.

    A Donald took 33 wkts. Pollock got injured during 2nd test and took no further part in the series. SAF's attack has been reduced to Donald plus allrounders kallis, klusner and inexp. Ntini. But for umpire error he almost won the series for SAF. [[ I would have got Donald in immediately if he had managed to dismiss Croft or Fraser during those last 5 overs at Manchester. As of now it gets moved to the short list. Incidentally Pollock missed only this Test. He came back for the last two Tests and supported Donald very well with 11 wickets. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 17, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    Very interesting, Ananth. Worth mentioning that 1) Colin Croft, i think played only 4 tests, and had 33 wickets in 1976-77 2) Michael Holding played tests in 1981-82 and took 24 wickets at 14 against Australia, and would be my nomination for a reader's selection (he did not have great support except on paper; extremely strong Australian line-up; WI reputation on line after being 0-1 with 1 test to play) 3) Marshall 35 wickets came in 4 tests, which is quite creditable, and perhaps some weightage can be given to such a handicap. [[ Croft home series agianst Pakistan, does not immediately walk in. Good push up at 9%, for a home series. Holding is under the radar. Like Saqlain/Kumble this is a different radar. Marshall's 35 at 12.66 and moves up by 19% to 41.7, I think walks in automatically. Ananth: ]]

    What do the numbers on the left of each year mean. [[ The Test Series Identification number, unique to my database. Ananth: ]]

    Finally, really really surprised that Hadlee did 25+ in a series just once (the instance you have mentioned).

    Shane Warne not only captured 40 wickets, but also finished with a pretty decent batting average including a crucial knock in the narrowly drawn Egbaston test.

  • getsetgopk on August 17, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    "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." and fortunate still he declared himslef injured for the final test of current England tour otherwise his cricket carrier would have ended in the morgue rather than hospital LOL. [[ Some compensation that Harbhajan's is the first Readers'choice entry. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 17, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    1999, India V Pak, 2-Test series. A kumble and Saqlain's performances stand out.

    Saqlain took 5 wkts in all the 4 innings that he bowled.

    Kumble took 21 wkts including an All-10 performance. [[ These series have gone under the radar. So I have to keep these on hold. Between the two, Saqlain's has the edge, despite Kuble's tenner, especially for the last hour of the Chennai Test. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 17, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Why have you not inculded Harbhajan's 32 wkts ag. Australia ? Next best bowler form India has taken 3 wkts. However harbhajan has been guilty of 'On and Off' performances througout his whole career; a bit like Mitchel Johnson. But that should not take away from him what he achieved against full strength Aussie side that had Top-7 like no other. [[ You must have seen the emphasis that it is my selection. In my opinion the others were better. That is all. That does not prevent this stupendous effort being included as the first Readers'choice. Ananth: ]]

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  • Arjun on August 17, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Why have you not inculded Harbhajan's 32 wkts ag. Australia ? Next best bowler form India has taken 3 wkts. However harbhajan has been guilty of 'On and Off' performances througout his whole career; a bit like Mitchel Johnson. But that should not take away from him what he achieved against full strength Aussie side that had Top-7 like no other. [[ You must have seen the emphasis that it is my selection. In my opinion the others were better. That is all. That does not prevent this stupendous effort being included as the first Readers'choice. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 17, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    1999, India V Pak, 2-Test series. A kumble and Saqlain's performances stand out.

    Saqlain took 5 wkts in all the 4 innings that he bowled.

    Kumble took 21 wkts including an All-10 performance. [[ These series have gone under the radar. So I have to keep these on hold. Between the two, Saqlain's has the edge, despite Kuble's tenner, especially for the last hour of the Chennai Test. Ananth: ]]

  • getsetgopk on August 17, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    "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." and fortunate still he declared himslef injured for the final test of current England tour otherwise his cricket carrier would have ended in the morgue rather than hospital LOL. [[ Some compensation that Harbhajan's is the first Readers'choice entry. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 17, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    Very interesting, Ananth. Worth mentioning that 1) Colin Croft, i think played only 4 tests, and had 33 wickets in 1976-77 2) Michael Holding played tests in 1981-82 and took 24 wickets at 14 against Australia, and would be my nomination for a reader's selection (he did not have great support except on paper; extremely strong Australian line-up; WI reputation on line after being 0-1 with 1 test to play) 3) Marshall 35 wickets came in 4 tests, which is quite creditable, and perhaps some weightage can be given to such a handicap. [[ Croft home series agianst Pakistan, does not immediately walk in. Good push up at 9%, for a home series. Holding is under the radar. Like Saqlain/Kumble this is a different radar. Marshall's 35 at 12.66 and moves up by 19% to 41.7, I think walks in automatically. Ananth: ]]

    What do the numbers on the left of each year mean. [[ The Test Series Identification number, unique to my database. Ananth: ]]

    Finally, really really surprised that Hadlee did 25+ in a series just once (the instance you have mentioned).

    Shane Warne not only captured 40 wickets, but also finished with a pretty decent batting average including a crucial knock in the narrowly drawn Egbaston test.

  • Arjun on August 17, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    1998, SAF in England, series famous for duel between Atherton and donald.

    A Donald took 33 wkts. Pollock got injured during 2nd test and took no further part in the series. SAF's attack has been reduced to Donald plus allrounders kallis, klusner and inexp. Ntini. But for umpire error he almost won the series for SAF. [[ I would have got Donald in immediately if he had managed to dismiss Croft or Fraser during those last 5 overs at Manchester. As of now it gets moved to the short list. Incidentally Pollock missed only this Test. He came back for the last two Tests and supported Donald very well with 11 wickets. Ananth: ]]

  • Pavan on August 17, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    My selection is one of Warne's, the 2004 SL-Aus series in SL. 26 wickets with 10 wickets each in the first 2 tests. Warney was making a comeback to the team after being banned for an year for Doping .Observing the scorecards, Warne & Murali both took 10 wickets in the 1st match. Has this happened frequently? [[ While I agree that this was a wonderful performance in an away series, albiet on spinning wickets, I am going to keep this under consideration only since Warne's best has already been included. But rest assured that this will be in the shortlist always. In fact I have strengthened the short list process now by marking these on the all-inclusive data file so that I would not have to go back to the comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 17, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    Kumble's 23 in 4 tests in WI (06) is probably the best performance by an Indian spinner abroad except maybe Gupte's 27 in 5 in WI also

    Both deserve another look [[ First Kumble's. Dioes this really belong to an elite group. Only once did Kumble dominate. In teh last Test when he took 6 wickets. Even then the last 6 wickets. Granted he took India to a win. But otherwise not an earthh-shaking performance. Gupte's was probably more important. West indies were stronger. India had no great pace attack. So Gupte and Mankad had to shoulder bulk of the bowling load. Will move it to the short list. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 17, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    1992-93 Ambrose 33 wkts v/s Australia was very special. He won the series with decisive spells in Adelaide and Perth. His Adelaide performances in both innings were in Wisden 100, and one of them was the 4-46 (sub 5wkt). Top class Aussie line up, as good as the 1999 batting team. West Indies batting was very weak, restarting under a new captain, and West Indies were 0-1 after 3 tests. Still they won 2-1. [[ One heck of a justification. All true of course. The 1-run win being the cherry on top. And in that innings Ambrose's 4 for 46 was memorable. I think you have convinced me. The gentle giant gets in straight. Ananth: ]]

  • Paul on August 17, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    Being an Aussie, I feel somewhat of a turncoat for mentioning it, but what about Larwood's 33 wickets in the Bodyline series? If you look at just the numbers, and take aside the tactics, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the English bowlers that series. 33 wickets at 19.51, and the next best were Allen and Voce with 21 and 15 wickets, at the averages of 28.23 and 27.17 respectively. Plus, he got Bradman 4 times out of the 8 chances he had (Bradman missed the first test), and 23 wickets of the 33 were from the top 7. Australia's batting line up was pretty decent in that series too! I think it deserves consideration, if for nothing else than it remains the most infamous performance by a bowler of all time! [[ SInce Larwood himself became an Aussie later in life, you are probably justified in pushing his case. His collection of top order wickets is proof enough of the impact he had. He was also a great soldier, doing exactly what his General ordered him to do. He was primarlily responsible for the 4-1 thrashing of a team which had Bradman, Woodfull, McCabe, Richardson and Ponsford. Let us get him in, on merit. Ananth: ]]

  • Manish on August 17, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Anil Kumble during the 2003-04 series in Australia, took 24 wickets but in only 3 tests. He might have won India the series had he had better support. I think you must give more preference to people who have had to carry the weight of the bowling attack on their shoulders. Murali, Hadlee had virtually 0 support. Similarly Harbhajan, when he took 32 wickets, had no support. Rodney Hogg's performance probably goes up a notch because of that. [[ Please understand that I do not have to give any justification for my selection. I am giving you an opportunity to push your case in. Please do so and justify the same. Which Rodney Hogg's performance ? Re Kumble's I do not understand your comments on the possibility of India winning. First Test was comfortably drawn. No chance of a result. Second Test was won by India through Agarkar and Dravid. Third Test was won by a mile by Australia. The fourth Test was comfortably drawn since Australia were 338 for 4 with just a few overs to go. And Kumble took half his wickets in this Test. This is being told without in any way minimizing Kumble's lion-hearted performance. Ananth: ]]