April 4, 2012

# Consistency in Test bowlers: a new look

An improved way of analysing consistency across the career of Test bowlers statistically
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This is based on an idea given by Prashanth. After giving the idea and participating in a discussion or two, he disappeared off the radar. However I thank him for providing the spark. Couple of years back Gabriel Rogers did a similar article. However that wonderful article was based on complex statistical methodology and would not have been out of place in an Annual Conference of Statisticians. Mine is simpler, more common-sense based and is aimed at everyone who comes into this blogspace, irrespective of his statistical knowledge.

The relevant points are explained below.

1. For this purpose five-Test slices are considered. This is a reasonable number and normally covers 2-3 months of Test cricket. Tests, rather than innings are used as the basis so that both bowling and batting can be covered in an equitable manner.
2. Five tests means that batsman can go through a Test or two of limited opportunities to bat or non-batting because of emphatic wins etc. There will be enough opportunities within the five-Test slice to catch up. Normally the bowlers do not have this problem since they do a higher share of a team's work and have to capture 20 wickets for a win.
3. There is enough time to get over short duration loss of form.
4. To measure consistency, only runs scored and wickets captured will be used. The fundamental cricket dictum that batsmen should score runs and bowlers should take wickets is followed. Averages are important mainly over a career and for comparisons across players.
5. Why not average? Let us take couple of examples to understand why not. McGrath and Trueman have career averages around 22.0 and WpT values of around 4.5. In a 5-Test period, match context being comparable, McGrath captures 25 wickets at 25.0 and Trueman, 15 wickets at 20.0. Who has performed closer to his career figures and for that matter, better. Certainly McGrath, despite the higher slice average. Similarly for batting.
6. Let us not forget that we remember numbers like 46 (Laker) and 41 (Alderman) rather than the specific averages. Similarly 774 (Gavaskar) and 688 (Lara) without being aware of the averages.
7. The career slices should be non-overlapping and equal, other than the last one. Gooch's 456 in one test should be part of one career slice only. Similarly Laker's 19 wickets. Hence the concept of rolling number of Tests is not valid.
8. Five Tests might seem arbitrary but represents a long enough career slice. It represents a long Test series.
9. The keyword is consistency with reference to the player's own career performance levels. It may happen that a bowler has a rather high WpT value: e-g, Barnes at 7.00, Muralitharan at 6.02 et al., and what is perfectly acceptable for another bowler might not be, for such bowlers. That is acceptable since they have set high benchmarks and we are interested in seeing how often they went off these benchmarks.
10. We are not looking about high and low values but only relative to the concerned player's career figures. Over a five-Test stretch Murali is expected to take 30 wickets and Kallis is expected to capture nine wickets. This will be the basis. If Murali captured 20 wickets in the Test slice, it is well below average and the same 20-wickets performance for Kallis, way above average.
11. I know that a bowler like Imran Khan who did not bowl at all in 3 slices at the end of his career would be slightly affected by this methodology. However there is no clear method of handling this. I do not want to exclude Tests where a bowler did not bowl. Then the number of slices would not be dependent on the number of Tests played. Also I don't want someone later on asking me to exclude batsman's Test where there has been an innings win for loss of few wickets. These are minor quirks and may only reduce the accuracy from 100% to 95%.
12. Adjustment is made for the last career slice if the same is fewer than five Tests.
13. The criteria for selection is 100 or more Test wickets. 160 bowlers qualify. The only bowlers of note who are missing are Shane Bond and Frank Tyson (Adrian, happy !!!).
14.The Standard Deviation (SD) of the slice ratios is used to determine consistency.

I had initially thought that I would combine the batsmen and bowlers together in a single article. However the introduction of six tall graphs meant that the article would have become very long and I have separated this into two articles. The graphs are also special purpose ones showing the slice plotting of up to 10 players per graph.

The following 5 groups are formed for purposes of determining consistency. For each career-slice of 5-tests, a ratio is formed between that concerned slice's runs/wickets and the career-average runs/wickets for 5 tests. This ratio is called SPF (Slice Performance Factor). Suppose the bowler has captured 17 wickets and his 5-Test career-WpT value is 24, the SPF value is 0.71. If he captured 30 wickets, the SPF is 1.25.

```A. SPF  below 0.67:  Well below average - Falls into the inconsistent bracket.
B. SPF 0.67 - 0.90:  Below average
C. SPF 0.90 - 1.10:  Around average
D. SPF 1.10 - 1.33:  Above average
E. SPF  above 1.33:  Well above average - Falls into the inconsistent bracket.

```
Groups B, C and D are considered to be well within the average levels. Standard Deviation is also used to determine the consistency.

First some data tables. The first one is the core table of bowlers who have captured over 300 wickets in their Test career. The tables and graphs are presented with least comments. Let me allow the erudite readers to come out with their own comments.

BowlerTestsWktsAvgeWpTMeanStdDevMid3%C-SlicesGrp AGrp BGrp CGrp DGrp E

Muralitharan M13380022.736.01.000.27474.127451053
Warne S.K14570825.424.91.000.29569.02946955
Kumble A13261929.654.71.000.27574.12737584
McGrath G.D12456321.644.51.000.26672.02535854
Walsh C.A13251924.443.91.010.32870.42738745
Kapil Dev N13143429.653.30.990.39048.12777337
Pollock S.M10842123.123.91.000.27472.72227544
Wasim Akram10441423.624.00.990.33766.72143653
Harbhajan Singh9840632.224.10.990.26185.02033680
Ambrose C.E.L9840520.994.11.000.28770.02028424
Ntini M10139028.833.91.000.35561.92128236
Botham I.T10238328.403.81.010.42952.42164254
Marshall M.D8137620.954.60.990.29270.61733452
Waqar Younis8737323.564.31.000.43055.61847124
Imran Khan8836222.814.10.980.46455.61851453
Vettori D.L11035833.873.31.000.41068.22246363
Lillee D.K7035523.925.11.000.24371.41422622
Vaas WPUJC11135529.583.21.000.37669.62346463
Donald A.A7233022.254.61.000.22686.71515441
Willis R.G.D9032525.203.61.000.17494.41814670
Lee B7631030.824.11.000.26687.51609232
Gibbs L.R7930929.093.90.990.27568.81633442
Trueman F.S6730721.584.60.990.30071.41424512

To clarify the table contents. WpT mean Wickets per test. Mean is the mean of the SPF values and is close to 1.0 for all bowlers. StdDev is the Standard Deviation for all the SPF values. Mid3% is the % of the Groups B, C and D over the total number of Career Slices, which is the next column: C-Slices. Grp A to Grp E are self-explanatory. The complete file is available for downloading. The link is provided at the end.

Amongst the top wicket-takers, only Hadlee and Harbhajan Singh have the Mid3% values exceeding 80, indicating a high level of consistency. Then comes Donald, with 86% and Willis, with a very high 94%.

Consistency is determined in two ways. The first is statistical. The Standard Deviation (SD) is determined for all the ratios. Low SD values indicate consistent players and high SD values indicate inconsistent players. The usual method of using the Coefficient of Variation is not required since the means for almost all players is around 1.00. Shown below are the SD tables with the low-20 SDs indicating very consistent bowlers.

BowlerTestsWktsAvgeWpTMeanStdDevMid3%C-SlicesGrp AGrp BGrp CGrp DGrp E

O'Reilly W.J2714422.605.31.000.120100.0601410
Morkel M3913930.043.61.000.152100.0802420
Dilley G.R4113829.763.40.980.169100.0903420
Kasprowicz M.S3811332.883.00.990.17187.5802411
Willis R.G.D9032525.203.61.000.17494.41814670
Snow J.A4920226.674.11.000.19490.01003511
Collinge R.O3511629.253.31.000.19685.7711230
Lohmann G.A1811210.766.21.020.200100.0401120
Old C.M4614328.113.11.020.202100.01003340
Saeed Ajmal2010726.705.31.000.210100.0401120
Danish Kaneria6126134.804.30.990.21184.61313621
Umar Gul4315732.483.71.000.21988.9903321
Johnson I.W4510929.192.41.000.22277.8911421
Steyn D.W5427223.195.00.990.22381.81112521
Hughes M.G5321228.384.00.990.22490.91113160
Donald A.A7233022.254.61.000.22686.71515441
Statham J.B7025224.853.61.000.23078.61422631
Johnson M.G4719031.294.01.000.23670.01012502
Edmonds P.H5112534.182.51.000.23981.81113421

Now for the tables with the high-SD values indicating a very low level of inconsistency.

BowlerTestsWktsAvgeWpTMeanStdDevMid3%C-SlicesGrp AGrp BGrp CGrp DGrp E

Rhodes W5812726.972.21.000.88733.31251213
Hooper C.L10211449.431.11.010.72723.82194017
Briggs J3311817.753.60.970.67957.1721211
Hogg R.M3812328.453.20.990.56975.0815101
Bracewell J.G4110235.812.51.130.56355.6922122
Illingworth R6112231.202.00.990.55561.51335212
Kallis J.H15227632.451.81.000.54738.731106249
Sobers G.St.A9323534.042.51.000.52952.61944245
Giffen G3110327.103.30.980.52342.9721202
Shastri R.J8015140.961.91.000.51262.51636313
Verity H4014424.383.61.000.51162.5821311
Noble M.A4212125.002.91.020.50855.6923112
Underwood D.L8629725.843.51.060.49633.31862226
Mushtaq Ahmed5218532.973.61.000.48554.51124113
Intikhab Alam4712535.952.71.010.48130.01031114
Greig A.W5814132.212.40.990.47958.31233402
Giles A.F5414340.602.60.990.47345.51132303
Imran Khan8836222.814.10.980.46455.61851453
Bailey T.E6113229.212.21.000.46330.81362023

The alternate method is common-sense-based. The two extreme group numbers, A and E, are considered significant departures from the career levels. The middle three group numbers are added and divided by the total number of slices to get the Mid3%. This reflects the consistency of the players. Shown below are the SD tables with the high-10 Mid3% values.

BowlerTestsWktsAvgeWpTMeanStdDevMid3%C-SlicesGrp AGrp BGrp CGrp DGrp E

O'Reilly W.J2714422.605.31.000.120100.0601410
Old C.M4614328.113.11.020.202100.01003340
Morkel M3913930.043.61.000.152100.0802420
Dilley G.R4113829.763.40.980.169100.0903420
Lohmann G.A1811210.766.21.020.200100.0401120
Saeed Ajmal2010726.705.31.000.210100.0401120
Willis R.G.D9032525.203.61.000.17494.41814670
Hughes M.G5321228.384.00.990.22490.91113160
Snow J.A4920226.674.11.000.19490.01003511

Now for the tables with the low Mid3% values indicating a very low level of inconsistency.

BowlerTestsWktsAvgeWpTMeanStdDevMid3%C-SlicesGrp AGrp BGrp CGrp DGrp E

Hooper C.L10211449.431.11.010.72723.82194017
Intikhab Alam4712535.952.71.010.48130.01031114
Bailey T.E6113229.212.21.000.46330.81362023
Underwood D.L8629725.843.51.060.49633.31862226
Rhodes W5812726.972.21.000.88733.31251213
Pathan I.K2910032.263.40.990.36333.3620202
Boje N4310042.652.30.990.42933.3932103
Benaud R6324827.033.90.990.44238.51343024
Kallis J.H15227632.451.81.000.54738.731106249

Not surprisingly there is a strong negative correlation between the two methods. Understandably the correlation is negative since low SD and high Mid3% values indicate consistency. The correlation coefficient is a fairly high -0.73.

Now for some special graphs.

Graph of consistency for top wicket-takers

The top-10 bowlers are featured. It can be clearly seen that most of these bowlers do not exhibit a high level of consistency. The only exception seems to be Hadlee, during the first half of his career.

### Most consistent: Based on low SD values

Most consistent bowlers (based on low SD values)

Look at O'Reilly. An SD a low as 0.12 indicates a very consistent career. This is borne out by his placement in the next graph also. Willis is the only one amongst this lot with over 85 Tests. The others have all played below 50 Tests. Amongst the modern bowlers, Kasprowicz and Steyn have been fairly consistent. Especially look at Steyn's last five slices.

### Most consistent: Based on high Middle-3-group % values

Most consistent bowlers (based on high middle-3 % values

These are the bowlers with high middle three group % values. There are four bowlers, led by O'Reilly who have all their groups in the middle. This is amazing. This means that not once did these bowlers go below 66.7% or above 133.3% of their career values. That is some consistency. It can be seen that three of these bowlers, O'Reilly, Dilley and Adcock also occupy the top three positions in the SD table, indicating the very high degree of correlation between the two methods. Old is there in the top-10. However in terms of consistency, Willis takes the plum position. Look at his graph. Out of 18 career slices only once has he gone into the two extreme groups.

### Least consistent: Based on high SD values

Least consistent bowlers (high SD values)

These graphs look like the dying person's cardiograph. These players have had moves up and down throughout their career. Most of them are also batting all-rounders. It is also possible that these players might have had stretches in which they bowled very little. However that means that they were very inconsistent as bowlers.

### Least consistent: Based on low Middle-3-group % values

Least consistent bowlers (low middle-3 % values)

Almost the same bowlers. However now Underwood and Benaud come in. Look at Pathan's graph. Most of these bowlers have around a third of the slices in the middle.

### Bowlers with top averages

Graph of bowlers with top averages

Just to complete the analysis I have given here the charts for the top bowlers - by average., since most of them would have missed the first chart: by wickets captured. Again inconsistency seems to be the trend here. But look at Adcock. High consistency, coupled with low average. And look at Barnes's chart. One nice long position just under the mean, made up at the end. Marshall and Ambrose seem to have alternating low and highs. Note Laker's huge spike, obviously during 1956.

I think mention must be made of two bowlers, Bill O'Reilly and Bob Willis. O'Reilly never went off the middle three groups. That is some consistency. Willis, for someone who played 85 Tests, went off the middle radar just once. That is again the definition of consistency.

I will do a similar analysis for Batsmen next.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

• A. Khan on April 21, 2012, 2:31 GMT

@ Ananth I too used to be very obsessed with these stats, centuries/50s 5-wicket, 10-wicket hauls, landmarks etc. but that was only till I was not even 15, after that I started realizing about how some people are keeping the interest of the team above and how some people are fighting with opposition to get their 100, even though there is nothing left in the match and is about time when captains can agree to draw the match. Hadlee took 9 10-wicket hauls against Garner's NIL, what does it prove? For centuries! why not 200 be counted as 2 centuries? 300 as three? Bradman would have had a total 43 in 52 tests! Its just that people have decided that whether you score 100 or 501, it will be counted as one century! What difference it makes if it was counted as 5 tones? The difference between 99 and 100 is just 1, and there is just one test, which was won/lost by 1 run, nobody scored a hundred in that or even a 99. [[ By now you would be aware that I am the least respecter of the 100, as a landmark. To me it is nothing more than the run taken when you are on 99. The media and the statisticians (to which set I do not belong) have made such landmarks bigger than what they are. Of course Murali would take more 5/10-wkt hauls than any one. He was Sri Lanka's 50% bowler. Same with Hadlee. Of course the four West indies pacemen would take fewer 5/10-wkt hauls. They were lions hunting in the same forest. You would notice I never use the number of hundreds or 5-wkt hauls as a performance measure. But I use the number 100 itself in batting and 4 wkts in bowling as a convenient cut-off. I could as well use 99 for this but will show me as a silly person, which I hope I am not. The sorry saga of the 100th 100 must prove this. The media obsession which unfortunately affected the great man himself is a lesson for us. Ananth: ]]

• m.waqas latif on April 20, 2012, 7:09 GMT

wher is speed buster s hoaib akhter man????????????????? and saqlain also both pakistani atar ones

• A. Khan on April 20, 2012, 2:39 GMT

Kemar Roach has finally taken a 10-wicket haul for Windies, only the third a Windies bowler has done it in last 17 years, in contrast, Indian bowlers have taken 18 times 10-wicket hauls in this period! In fact Kumble has as many 10-wicket hauls as Roberts/Holding/Croft/Garner/Marshall put together! Muralitharan has 22 10-wicket hauls as against 27 by Windies in their entire test history! [[ I did not know about 27. Amazing. They had only 5 more than Murali. And out of the 27, Marshall had 4 and Ambrose/Walsh 3 each. A clear indication that the hunters hunted in a pack. One reason why I do not put in too much importance over such personal landmarks. I have more time for the bowling landmarks because the fifth wicket is 10% of the wickets available. The 100th run, for me, is only the run after the 99th run. However I use the 100 as good cut-off point. Ananth: ]]

• Zacc Abbott-Atchison on April 19, 2012, 16:33 GMT

Funny how a lot of people are talking about the most consistent not being stars etc. Well, Bill O'Reilly was certainly the star bowler in his team, so I don't know what they're talking about. [[ That discussion was more on Bob Willis. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on April 15, 2012, 3:15 GMT

@shrikanth - interesting stuff on Verity vs Bradman. Can you let me know how you came by those figures?

I googled it. Found it in some article on Verity. Not in a database.

http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Articles/4/4887.html

• Gerry_the_Merry on April 13, 2012, 4:06 GMT

Not only are the West Indies not producing taller faster quicks, they are not having enough African origin batsmen. I wonder when the Fredericks, Greenidges and Lloyds will come. Last year, during India's series, Tony Cozier remarked that in schools, where once many cricket matches would be going on in a single ground, these days girls were playing hop-scotch. Perhaps that will be the real contribution of the Keiron Pollards - give a glimpse of real rewards that await successful cricketers and inspire more youngsters to take to the game. [[ The Pollards of the world will move on to IPL, BPL. BB, XPL, YPL and ZPL and leave the Braithwaites to play Test cricket. So West Indies cricket will not gain. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on April 12, 2012, 13:41 GMT

Ananth,

Aussie win is similar to India's win ag. Zimbabwe at delhi in 2000. On last day Zimbabwe batted for 44 overs and then India score 190/3 in 37.3 overs to win. Lots of similarities.. Hilfenaus did exactly what srinath did 12 years ago. ganguly was in his 1st year of captaincy similar to clarke. [[ Many similarities. Two scores over 400. India declares just 36 ahead. Zimbabwe losing three for 25. Fourth day end 115 for 5. Then wickets fell but every one of the last four batsmen went past double figures. Then India scored at 5 RpO and won with very few overs to spare. Dodgy light again at Delhi in November. This match was 1515, just six matches before the Pakistan-England match I had referred to. Spare a thought for Andy Flower, 253 runs for once out. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on April 12, 2012, 12:27 GMT

@Ananth - yeah, a wonderful game of cricket. Sorry I couldn`t get to watch more of it, but the 11pm-6am (Japan time) - (12-7 Aus I think) hours make it pretty tough during a working week. [[ Less of a problem in India. But still tough to watch the complete day's play. I was falling off the chair at 29 for no loss and had to move my base to the bedroom. Then after an hour I checked on my mobile and saw 61 in 22 overs and gave up on an Aussie win. This win reminded me of the England win over Pakistan during December 2000 (Test # 1521). I was visiting Wisden in England at that time for discussions on the Wisden-100 and somehow managed to locate a commentary. I remember the running around at lunch time during the last 30 minutes. I liked Hick a lot and for a change he contributed. Imagine Atherton scoring 26 in 33, against Waqar. Ananth: ]] Sammy, once again, seems to be copping a lot of criticism on the forums and in the press for field placement/negativity/bowling changes et al. I only caught the first hour and last hour and a half of Day 5, so I`m probably not qualified to comment, but...I think he`s a v.good captain, a limited cricketer in some ways, but he keeps taking wickets at a very decent average, and bats capably. Most importantly though, he seems to have been able to mould a team who play for each other and obviously respect him. If we remember the circumstances under which the job was thrust upon him, after so many (more talented) others had failed, often dismally, I think he`s done a remarkable job.

I`m sure I wasn`t the only Aussie supporter this morning who wouldn`t have been too unhappy to see the Windies win it.

• Ranga on April 12, 2012, 6:01 GMT

@ Ananth: Another excellent point you made was about Clarke as a captain. The Aussies never cease to amaze me with their choice of captains and the way the captains are groomed and how players bite their egos for team cause. A lesson for most Asian teams. Every captain since AB have always had a successful stint, 95% attributed to the excellent group of players and 5%, to excellent captaincy. Yet to find a bad captain in Australia. Well, someone could still say,"With such a team, Boycott's mum could captain Oz" but the reality is that everyone comes into ANY international team with some potential, but the way the potential is groomed (be it player or captain) talks volumes of the cricketing system. Though the Oz team cant be compared to 99-2008 team, they are still THE Team to beat. They are doing it consistently, unlike Eng/SAF who are not that consistent. [[ Over the past four months, Clarke has demonstrated his top-drawer credentials three times as captain. First he trashed his own classic innings of 151 as useless since the team lost. Second when he declared at 329, caring very little not just for 400 but even Australia's pinnacle of 334. Of course he was aware of the significance of 334. Third when he declared an over after a drinks break, when West Indies least expected and gave himself only 5 overs, But what overs were they. Ultimtely match winning overs. If he had natted on until tea and declared, West Indies might have been 50 for 3 and might have saved the match easily. Ananth: ]]

• Ranga on April 12, 2012, 5:43 GMT

Wonderful observation Ananth! To me, Sammy is one of the better captains I hav seen. He always gets into a test with his place under scrutiny, but delivers overall, competing and challenging the best. India was lucky to have narrowly NOT LOST to WIndies. I feel Test Cricket should be popularized rather than ODI/T20, which sell on their own. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, when we had no other dominant format in the world stage, test cricket had no competitions. But since the introduction of shorter versions, busier people and paucity of time, test cricket has to be promoted much more than any other format. Not that test cricket has lost its sheen, but beyond a few die hard fans, test cricket has become an academic exercise (with plethora of 2 test series). Televising FC cricket is a good move, but A Tours and Youth tours should be promoted and advertised as well. Consistent good cricket shall definitely draw crowds or TV viewership! [[ Sammy in 22 Tests has captured 62 wickets at 30 and a s/r of just over 60 at an RpO value of 2.83. Other than RpO these are better figures than Venkataraghavan. He is a very useful cricketer. May not be a world class all-rounder. However the world class all-rounders like Gayle and Bravo prefer coloured clothes. So, the bottomline is that, over the past three years, Sammy has done more for West Indian cricket than the so called super stars. Ananth: ]]

• A. Khan on April 21, 2012, 2:31 GMT

@ Ananth I too used to be very obsessed with these stats, centuries/50s 5-wicket, 10-wicket hauls, landmarks etc. but that was only till I was not even 15, after that I started realizing about how some people are keeping the interest of the team above and how some people are fighting with opposition to get their 100, even though there is nothing left in the match and is about time when captains can agree to draw the match. Hadlee took 9 10-wicket hauls against Garner's NIL, what does it prove? For centuries! why not 200 be counted as 2 centuries? 300 as three? Bradman would have had a total 43 in 52 tests! Its just that people have decided that whether you score 100 or 501, it will be counted as one century! What difference it makes if it was counted as 5 tones? The difference between 99 and 100 is just 1, and there is just one test, which was won/lost by 1 run, nobody scored a hundred in that or even a 99. [[ By now you would be aware that I am the least respecter of the 100, as a landmark. To me it is nothing more than the run taken when you are on 99. The media and the statisticians (to which set I do not belong) have made such landmarks bigger than what they are. Of course Murali would take more 5/10-wkt hauls than any one. He was Sri Lanka's 50% bowler. Same with Hadlee. Of course the four West indies pacemen would take fewer 5/10-wkt hauls. They were lions hunting in the same forest. You would notice I never use the number of hundreds or 5-wkt hauls as a performance measure. But I use the number 100 itself in batting and 4 wkts in bowling as a convenient cut-off. I could as well use 99 for this but will show me as a silly person, which I hope I am not. The sorry saga of the 100th 100 must prove this. The media obsession which unfortunately affected the great man himself is a lesson for us. Ananth: ]]

• m.waqas latif on April 20, 2012, 7:09 GMT

wher is speed buster s hoaib akhter man????????????????? and saqlain also both pakistani atar ones

• A. Khan on April 20, 2012, 2:39 GMT

Kemar Roach has finally taken a 10-wicket haul for Windies, only the third a Windies bowler has done it in last 17 years, in contrast, Indian bowlers have taken 18 times 10-wicket hauls in this period! In fact Kumble has as many 10-wicket hauls as Roberts/Holding/Croft/Garner/Marshall put together! Muralitharan has 22 10-wicket hauls as against 27 by Windies in their entire test history! [[ I did not know about 27. Amazing. They had only 5 more than Murali. And out of the 27, Marshall had 4 and Ambrose/Walsh 3 each. A clear indication that the hunters hunted in a pack. One reason why I do not put in too much importance over such personal landmarks. I have more time for the bowling landmarks because the fifth wicket is 10% of the wickets available. The 100th run, for me, is only the run after the 99th run. However I use the 100 as good cut-off point. Ananth: ]]

• Zacc Abbott-Atchison on April 19, 2012, 16:33 GMT

Funny how a lot of people are talking about the most consistent not being stars etc. Well, Bill O'Reilly was certainly the star bowler in his team, so I don't know what they're talking about. [[ That discussion was more on Bob Willis. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on April 15, 2012, 3:15 GMT

@shrikanth - interesting stuff on Verity vs Bradman. Can you let me know how you came by those figures?

I googled it. Found it in some article on Verity. Not in a database.

http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Articles/4/4887.html

• Gerry_the_Merry on April 13, 2012, 4:06 GMT

Not only are the West Indies not producing taller faster quicks, they are not having enough African origin batsmen. I wonder when the Fredericks, Greenidges and Lloyds will come. Last year, during India's series, Tony Cozier remarked that in schools, where once many cricket matches would be going on in a single ground, these days girls were playing hop-scotch. Perhaps that will be the real contribution of the Keiron Pollards - give a glimpse of real rewards that await successful cricketers and inspire more youngsters to take to the game. [[ The Pollards of the world will move on to IPL, BPL. BB, XPL, YPL and ZPL and leave the Braithwaites to play Test cricket. So West Indies cricket will not gain. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on April 12, 2012, 13:41 GMT

Ananth,

Aussie win is similar to India's win ag. Zimbabwe at delhi in 2000. On last day Zimbabwe batted for 44 overs and then India score 190/3 in 37.3 overs to win. Lots of similarities.. Hilfenaus did exactly what srinath did 12 years ago. ganguly was in his 1st year of captaincy similar to clarke. [[ Many similarities. Two scores over 400. India declares just 36 ahead. Zimbabwe losing three for 25. Fourth day end 115 for 5. Then wickets fell but every one of the last four batsmen went past double figures. Then India scored at 5 RpO and won with very few overs to spare. Dodgy light again at Delhi in November. This match was 1515, just six matches before the Pakistan-England match I had referred to. Spare a thought for Andy Flower, 253 runs for once out. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on April 12, 2012, 12:27 GMT

@Ananth - yeah, a wonderful game of cricket. Sorry I couldn`t get to watch more of it, but the 11pm-6am (Japan time) - (12-7 Aus I think) hours make it pretty tough during a working week. [[ Less of a problem in India. But still tough to watch the complete day's play. I was falling off the chair at 29 for no loss and had to move my base to the bedroom. Then after an hour I checked on my mobile and saw 61 in 22 overs and gave up on an Aussie win. This win reminded me of the England win over Pakistan during December 2000 (Test # 1521). I was visiting Wisden in England at that time for discussions on the Wisden-100 and somehow managed to locate a commentary. I remember the running around at lunch time during the last 30 minutes. I liked Hick a lot and for a change he contributed. Imagine Atherton scoring 26 in 33, against Waqar. Ananth: ]] Sammy, once again, seems to be copping a lot of criticism on the forums and in the press for field placement/negativity/bowling changes et al. I only caught the first hour and last hour and a half of Day 5, so I`m probably not qualified to comment, but...I think he`s a v.good captain, a limited cricketer in some ways, but he keeps taking wickets at a very decent average, and bats capably. Most importantly though, he seems to have been able to mould a team who play for each other and obviously respect him. If we remember the circumstances under which the job was thrust upon him, after so many (more talented) others had failed, often dismally, I think he`s done a remarkable job.

I`m sure I wasn`t the only Aussie supporter this morning who wouldn`t have been too unhappy to see the Windies win it.

• Ranga on April 12, 2012, 6:01 GMT

@ Ananth: Another excellent point you made was about Clarke as a captain. The Aussies never cease to amaze me with their choice of captains and the way the captains are groomed and how players bite their egos for team cause. A lesson for most Asian teams. Every captain since AB have always had a successful stint, 95% attributed to the excellent group of players and 5%, to excellent captaincy. Yet to find a bad captain in Australia. Well, someone could still say,"With such a team, Boycott's mum could captain Oz" but the reality is that everyone comes into ANY international team with some potential, but the way the potential is groomed (be it player or captain) talks volumes of the cricketing system. Though the Oz team cant be compared to 99-2008 team, they are still THE Team to beat. They are doing it consistently, unlike Eng/SAF who are not that consistent. [[ Over the past four months, Clarke has demonstrated his top-drawer credentials three times as captain. First he trashed his own classic innings of 151 as useless since the team lost. Second when he declared at 329, caring very little not just for 400 but even Australia's pinnacle of 334. Of course he was aware of the significance of 334. Third when he declared an over after a drinks break, when West Indies least expected and gave himself only 5 overs, But what overs were they. Ultimtely match winning overs. If he had natted on until tea and declared, West Indies might have been 50 for 3 and might have saved the match easily. Ananth: ]]

• Ranga on April 12, 2012, 5:43 GMT

Wonderful observation Ananth! To me, Sammy is one of the better captains I hav seen. He always gets into a test with his place under scrutiny, but delivers overall, competing and challenging the best. India was lucky to have narrowly NOT LOST to WIndies. I feel Test Cricket should be popularized rather than ODI/T20, which sell on their own. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, when we had no other dominant format in the world stage, test cricket had no competitions. But since the introduction of shorter versions, busier people and paucity of time, test cricket has to be promoted much more than any other format. Not that test cricket has lost its sheen, but beyond a few die hard fans, test cricket has become an academic exercise (with plethora of 2 test series). Televising FC cricket is a good move, but A Tours and Youth tours should be promoted and advertised as well. Consistent good cricket shall definitely draw crowds or TV viewership! [[ Sammy in 22 Tests has captured 62 wickets at 30 and a s/r of just over 60 at an RpO value of 2.83. Other than RpO these are better figures than Venkataraghavan. He is a very useful cricketer. May not be a world class all-rounder. However the world class all-rounders like Gayle and Bravo prefer coloured clothes. So, the bottomline is that, over the past three years, Sammy has done more for West Indian cricket than the so called super stars. Ananth: ]]

• Ananth on April 12, 2012, 3:45 GMT

Australia's amazing win over West Indies demonstrates how differently captains think and is a tribute to the way Australia plays the game. They are nowhere at their best and do not have the batting strength but their bowlers are terrific and their captain is a one-in-a-million person. His declaration was timed so perfectly that West Indies were hustled into losing 3 wickets for nothing. West Indies had recovery of sorts. The target was fair but they knew they would lose time due to rain and bad light. Their slow progress was exasperating. But I guess, by reaching 100 for 1, they made sure they would never lose and converted the game to a one-day chase. Watson, Hussey and Harris were the playing heroes but Michael Clarke shone like a beacon. Contrast this with Dhoni not going for an easier chase. If India had won 2-0 last year they would have held on to the Test crown for a few more months, albiet after a 0-4 loss and possibly undeservedly. But the spirit was missing. Was it not worthwhile risking the 10% chance of a loss (and after all only a 1-1 series) for a 50% chance of a win (and a 2-0 result). Great Test match. No amount of sixes and 70s in 40 balls can compensate for the way a Test match can be turned on its head. Ananth

• Rasbihari Mathur on April 11, 2012, 14:34 GMT

"By the by, I also do simple 2-page one-topic articles for CastrolCricket.com. But that is for a different audience: ""the around-30 youngsters who do not want to spend more than 5 minutes on a single article."" " Well, I am your "around-30 youngster" and I do spend a lot of time (considerably more than 5 mins) on each of your articles. Please don't give generalized statements. [[ Ras, that was not a generalized statement at all. It was the exact request put to me. They were probably scared that I would unleash Cricinfo type of articles on their unsuspecting 30-year old visitors. Note the quotes inserted. You will now read it differently. Quite a few of my readers are on or around half my age and I respect their knowledge of the game and the ability to think diffrently. For that matter I have acquaintances around my own age in my complex who express shock and surprise that when I tell them I was up watching the match, I meant the match between two white-flanneled teams progressing at 2.2 RpO and not the coloured mela which passes off as a cricket match. Ananth: ]] Anyhow the article is excellent and I think people miss the spirit of the analysis when they start equating consistency with greatness.

Thanks for good work. Keep it up. Cheers.

• Neeraj Raina on April 10, 2012, 15:50 GMT

Great Insight Ananth, I also believe in consistent performances. Just wondering by this yardstick if we look into ODIs performances, Agarkar would be among top contenders.

Surprised to see Saqlain not in the list. Was quite consistent till his lat few tests. [[ Neeraj, Saqlain is quite consistent. His SD value is a low 0.254 and the Mid3% is a very good 70%. His last slice was the really low one, only 0.59. Otherwise he was very good. 7 out of 9 in the mid-3. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on April 10, 2012, 10:39 GMT

Just thinking about some of the players - Bhajji springs to mind, or even Murali - I wonder how these graphs would look if we separated them into home/away tests. Perhaps we would see far more consistency? [[ Boll, too much work. The problem is that it is a fairly long process. Programming, table creation, extraction and using my own graphics program. I don't have short-cuts. The next article, and the next article, is already on me. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on April 10, 2012, 10:24 GMT

@shrikanth - interesting stuff on Verity vs Bradman. Can you let me know how you came by those figures? I always thought Bedser was the opposition bowler who had troubled Bradman most, and that he rated O`Reilly as the best he faced overall, and Bedser the best in tests. Any figures for those two bowlers vs Bradman?

• shrikanthk on April 10, 2012, 5:11 GMT

His average wkt quality figure is an excellent 38. Only Tate (43) and 3 other bowlers are ahead of him

Can we have that list? Not surprised to see Tate at the top. I really pity the bowlers of the 20s. It was the toughest time for a bowler. Those bowlers who toiled hard in Anglo-Australian timeless tests and the old LBW law would've fared far far better in most other eras (I dare say they'd have fared better even in the 1930s). [[ Shri This is too important subject to deserve only a list as part of a response. I will certainly do that analysis in the near future. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on April 10, 2012, 5:03 GMT

Rhodes, while playing at no.11 probably had those golden moments as a Test bowler and then as he moved up the batting totem pole, his bowling fell off

Partly that yes. But that's not the only reason. The fact is that 1899 was not 1930. The game transformed itself in these 31 years.

We may argue that the same thing holds for someone like Sachin who has played for 23 years from 1989 to 2012. But the game hasn't changed as much during these 23 years. Atleast not tests. Watch a video from 1988. The cricket is largely the same as what's being currently played in 2012. The pitches, the batting and bowling styles are all roughly similar.

No such continuity exists between 1899 and 1930. In 1899, a batting average of 35 was pretty good in FC cricket. In 1930, you had several people averaging 50+ in test and FC cricket. In 1899, most players used the classical approach of playing forward with high backlifts. By 1930, batting was more or less modern with back-foot play being the norm. [[ What about the decade just before the WW1. Would Barnes' peak years belong to the pre-1900 era or post 1920 era. 1877-1899 period has a RpW of 22.2 and 1900-1914 period, 26.0. 1920-1939 has a value of 32.7. So there has been an increase around 1900 but not drastically. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on April 10, 2012, 3:40 GMT

I think Richie Benaud is an interesting case. He is shown to be quite inconsistent

My biggest gripe against Richie is his performance on the 1956 tour of England. He was still young yes. But he failed to make a big impression in a series that was dominated by the English spinners Laker and Lock - on dustbowls!

It will always be a mark against poor Benaud whenever we evaluate his career. [[ Thanks, Shrikanth, for illuminating the 1900-1960 era. Very useful. My statements were semi-provocative ti draw reponses from knowledgeable readers and never to put one down. Rhodes, while playing at no.11 probably had those golden moments as a Test bowler and then as he moved up the batting totem pole, his bowling fell off. Playing in an era dominated by Australian batting (and Bradman), Verity deserves a lot of credit for finishing with 144 ar=t below 25. That too he reached 100 at 20. His average wkt quality figure is an excellent 38. Only Tate (43) and 3 other bowlers are ahead of him. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on April 10, 2012, 3:35 GMT

By the way here's an interesting tidbit on Verity. He dismissed Bradman eight times and conceded 401 runs to him in tests.

So the great man averaged roughly 50 against Verity - about half his career average.

Let's not forget that some of those dismissals were on rain-affected pitches.

Nevertheless that makes Verity the most successful bowler against Bradman. Even more successful than Larwood.

• shrikanthk on April 10, 2012, 3:10 GMT

Verity and O'Reilly were contemporaries but as different as chalk and cheese

Firstly they played for vastly different teams. Verity played for a strong England side which a very good seam attack (Larwood/Voce/Bowes/Allen/Farnes). In contrast, O'Reilly played for a spin-oriented Australian team which lacked consistent fast bowlers.

So Australia always looked upon O'Reilly to win test matches. In contrast Verity often played second fiddle because of the seam support at the other end.

This largely explains the difference in their levels of consistency.

Also Verity played in a wider range of conditions (3 test matches on spin friendly Indian wickets). A luxury not afforded to O'Reilly.

• Raghav Bihani on April 10, 2012, 3:10 GMT

I completely understand the reasons for choosing a 5 test block and have no issues with that. You have clearly brought out career deviations of players. Your point made to Arjun is justified.

My question is whether consistency is good. If 2 bowlers average the same i.e. say 25, do you want a consistent guy who takes 2-50 or 3-75 every time he bowls or one who has big hauls mixed with failures. Both average the same. The former could go down in history as the best support act ever, while the latter will be the match winner on a many occasions. Who do you prefer? I clearly prefer the latter here.

Over a 5 test period, we are looking at A) one who clicks in every series scoring a 100 and two 50s perhaps or B) one who has a few off series but rips apart the opposition in a few series also. Again my vote is for B) but it is not that one sided here. [[ Let us leave our personal preferences outside. My feeling is that many followers would prefer 100 and 0 rather than 50 and 50. One reason why Lara is quite popular outside West Indies. However I can assure you that all of us ar in for a revelation when it comes to Batsmen consistency, due in 2/3 days. In the top-10 batsmen, Lara is the second most consistent, after Border, on both SD and Mid3Per values. However from a team point of view I think there is a need for a mix of both types. They needed Willis as the almost always delivering (albiet at a lower level) dependable bowler. The problem may be when such a bowler is suddenly thrust into the lead bowler's position. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on April 10, 2012, 2:57 GMT

The most inconsistent bowler is Wilfred Rhodes

It's important to give some context on this. Rhodes started playing cricket in 1899 when Queen Victoria was still the Empress of the British Empire. He played his last test in 1930 when Gandhi was doing his Dandi march stuff. In his debut test, WG Grace was a part of the England side. At the time of his last test, Don Bradman was the best batsman in the world - a boy who was not born when Wifred debuted.

These are 31 long years. In these years practically everything connected to the game of cricket changed. The size of the ball, the size of the stumps, the duration of matches (from 3 days to timeless ones), the quality of wickets, batting techniques. Everything. Also, Wilfred's own life changed drastically in this period. When he debuted the guy was a pure bowler batting at No 10. Then he reached a point in his career when he played purely as a batsman opening with Hobbs!

We cannot expect "consistency" in a period of such turmoil

• West indies follower on April 9, 2012, 16:13 GMT

Hi an ananth, great article, really shows how much easier it was for the individuals on thw WI attack when they were having an off day, as they had three other players to cover them, whereas Hadley was somewhat forced into being consistent. Shows the value of a consistent piece like Warner even for the great glenn McGrath. You mentioned in a response that it is only recently that harbajan Singh has dropped in consistency. it would be interesting to see if this is due to the increase in odis played, or the number of 2 match tests played nowadays meaning a bowler has less of a safety net in his 5 match tranche or whether it is a natural decline that is common amongst all bowlers towards the end of their career. (I do not know whether bowlers tend to has a decline towards the end of their career or not, just a question) thanks for a really good thought provoking article [[ Surely the 2-Test series are an outrage. We have had three wonderful series recently finishing at 1-1, without a decider. ICC should step in and make 3-Test series between the top-8 teams mandatory. At the cost of mostly meaningless ODI matches. The one series which had 3 Test matches retained the interest until the third match. Why did the CB Series have so many matches. And obviously the Slk-Eng series finished erly to send a few of the players to the colour carnivals. Anhow that is not making the bowlers' task any simpler. Imaging going all the way to the other end of the world and play 2 Test matches and just as you are getting the hang of it, you travel to another end to play 2 more Tests. All the reasons you have mentioned are true. Harbhajan has lost the wonderful loop he had, sacrificed at the altar of ODIs/T20s. Great to see Bishoo still tossing the ball up nicely. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on April 7, 2012, 9:31 GMT

Ananth, I remember you had done an analysis on nightwatchman. In current test ag. Eng, Srilanka sent 2 nightwatchmen in the same innigs(prasad and randiv). is this unique ? [[ Arjun, sorry for the delay. First my nightwatchman analysis was an intuitive one in determining who exactly is/was a night watchman. I did it by getting the BPA (batting Position Average) of the batsman and checking to see if this was some distance away from the unified batting position. In other words I would take a no.3 batsman as night watchman if his BPA was 7.5 but not if his BPA was 5.5. The problem was that there are many top order batsmen with averages around or below 25. From that point of view Prasad was certainly a night watchman since he batted at no.1 and his BPA is nearly 9. However I am not that certain about Randiv. His BPA is 7.5 and he batted at 7. The program will certainly not decide that he was a night watchman. Maybe next time I may work on the batsmen yet to take guard. In this case there were two, with much higher averages: 7.00 against 40+ and 31+ in the pavilion. Fascinating subject. I must re-visit that. I am aware that I have still not answered your question. Let us keep that as part of the article. Ananth: ]]

• Raghav Bihani on April 6, 2012, 17:40 GMT

"By the by, I also do simple 2-page one-topic articles for CastrolCricket.com. But that is for a different audience: the around-30 youngsters who do not want to spend more than 5 minutes on a single article."

Great article Ananth, but as per the age limit I should be spending more time on the other site. [[ I have only repeated the suggestions given to me when we finalized what I was expected to do on the Castrol site. I was requested to, on no account, do a Cricinfo type of article. Ananth: ]] One big question that hits my mind and was discussed by us a few articles back. This article takes an objective view and presents facts on consistency. The question that begs "Is it good to be consistent?" Over what period is consistency a good thing.

I do not want Lara, Dravid, Ponting, Sachin to score a 50 every time they bat. But since 50 is a good average; one needs to have 10s & 20s in order to have 100s, 200s and 300s. For kumble to take 10 in an innings he needs to go wicketless twice. So I do not like consistency in all innings. But one needs to be consistent over a time period. 5 tests is too small a period. [[ I think I have already responded to Arjun's query on this Ananth: ]]

• Karthik on April 6, 2012, 14:29 GMT

Hi Ananth,

Thanks for the updated sheet! I understand that "active" players can be a tricky thing to judge.

Looking at the records of Kapil, Waqar, Benaud and Beefy reveals that they had high peaks and low troughs which have affected their consistency. These presumably coincide with home and away slices. Kapil, considering his art, has surprisingly poor numbers in ENG and NZ.

Bhajji's SPF numbers justify his axing. He hasn't had a peak in 5 slices and a couple of his troughs have been really low. Ishant's numbers reveal that besides his initial impression against Australia and his purple patch against the inexperienced Windies, he has largely only been consistently ineffective, or as Eric Simons will put it, consistently unlucky :S

It's also interesting that J Briggs (avg. below 18) did not bowl in 5 of his first 6 tests and that Sobers went through a run of 7 tests without picking up a wicket! By this analysis, the purplest slice belonged to Wilfred Rhodes with an SPF of 3.29! [[ Karthik I like your approach. Instead of debating ad nauseum some fine point which could have been done the other way, you have looked at the tables and come out with very nice observations. Many of these can even be garnered even through visual observations. In fact, for batsmen, even though I have to provide for 38 slices, I have managed to get the entire sheet displayed on screen. Of course I have 1920x1080 resolution. But so much can be garnered from just viewing the sheets. Rhodes, batting at no.11, started as a pure bowler. He captured 21 wickets at the end of the fifth Test (1.92) and a further 36 wickets in the next 5 Tests (3.29). Then he fell off and only captured only 70 in the next 48 Tests. Don't use the Lt or Gt sign. These are treated as Tag-delimiters by the Html interpreter. Ananth: ]]

• San on April 6, 2012, 5:52 GMT

Anantha, Foll. aprijits comment I think the tables would be of enhanced utility if they would differentiate between "bad consistency" and "good consistency"

For eg. if a bowler avgs. 3 wickets a Test - 3 OR anything above is "good consistency"...i.e is doesnt "hurt" the team.

After , if a player performs for the most part "above" his avg. who is to complain?

And so what we should be looking are for bad patches where his nonperformance hurts the team.

• Srini on April 6, 2012, 2:42 GMT

Hi Anantha, One more great article as usual. Consistency is just another measure that tells about a player's performance spanning an entire career. Consistency doesn't tell you if a bowler is good or great or average. A bowler with very small SD and high middle three could mean - he is highly dependable(never underperforms) or he hasn't evolved(no improvement). [[ Whatever be the reasons, at least the team/captain know what to expect. That Willis may not suddenly capture 40 wickets in 5 Tests but he also would not go down to 10. Consistency is one aspect of a player's traits. Ananth: ]]

• Alex on April 6, 2012, 2:15 GMT

@Ananth: Super article as usual. Thanks. Pl see if you can shed some light on the following situation. You did an innings-wise split article for batsmen but doesn't look like the article on bowlers got published.

I was looking into the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th innings split for some great bowlers, starting with the WI quartet. These numbers are available on Cricinfo. Turns out that McGrath's SR across all 4 innings was within 49 and 52. Marshall's varied from 44 to 53. Holding's varied from 43 to 58. Roberts' varied from 49 to 77 (unbelievably, his career SR was a whopping 77 in the all-important 2nd innings)! Ambrose' is a rock steady 56 is the first 3 and 44 in the 4th. Imran's was 91 in the 4th! He probably played in too many dull drawn tests on batting friendly wkts.

Can you pl do an article on this? You can add a filter of including an innings only if at least 7 wkts fell in it to exclude dull draws. [[ I will look at it. Ananth: ]]

• VeryeavY on April 5, 2012, 23:47 GMT

I wouldn't overstate the Philander factor - I saw Steyn bowling in Dunedin, having driven a fair distance to watch him in particular, and was distinctly underwhelmed - he didn't look particularly quick at all. Based on what I saw in the next two tests Steyn did improve but Philander seemed custom built for NZ conditions and got his just rewards. I certainly don't think he stole too many of Steyn's wickets! [[ I just gave Philander (and to a lesser extent de Lange) as the possible reasons for Steyn's slight fall over the last four Tests: 0.60 (12 wickets in 4 Tests). He did not look like Steyn of old. However he can afford this slight blip. This is only the second time in 11 slices that he has been off the middle three. Even now he needs only to capture 6 wickets in the next Test to be beck in the green. However the inability to win the last Test would come to haunt South Africa, as the unwillingness to go for a win by India at Roseau hit them badly three months hence. One must give credit to Williamson, van Wyck and Bracewell. However it cannot be ignored that South Africa captured only one wicket in 44 overs. Philander and Steyn were economical, but got nothing. Morkel was magnificant, until he went off. de Lange showed he has miles to go. I personally felt that Smith, like Dhoni 9 months back, played extremely safe. Why 390 in 80. Why not 350 in 87. Ananth: ]]

• Attacko on April 5, 2012, 19:51 GMT

Its clear that some of the most inconsistent are those bowlers whose results most relied on the state of the pitch, particularly back in the days when pitches could get wet and certain spinners such as Underwood or Verity became impossible to play. [[ Verity and O'Reilly were contemporaries but as different as chal;k and cheese. Ananth: ]]

• arijit on April 5, 2012, 18:20 GMT

I think the reason some readers are confusing ‘more consistent’ with ‘better’ is that: 1) You have used consistency as a value-neutral descriptive term, which is why you have treated both below-par and above-par performances as outside the consistency zone, and used only the bowler’s own performance levels as the reference; whereas (2)Some readers are using consistency as a judgmental term (like when we praise a player as ‘consistent’). So, inside their own heads, they are only leaving out below-par performances, and perhaps using a universal standard as reference (so that someone who takes 2WpT at 40.00 in every slice will be poor and, therefore, ‘inconsistent’ --- perhaps with reference to their one or two good Test performances) Easy to make that mistake (given the usual way ‘consistency’ is used in cricket discussions). For me, the fact that you held above-par slices as being against a bowler’s consistency was the key to realising what you meant. Or is it I who got it all wrong? [[ I have gone out of the way to emphasize that someone capturing 6 WpT in a slice is clearly in the extreme group and inconsistent zone. If one is statistically minded the SD should be a clear indicator. If you have seen the Excel sheets I have even colour-coded the middle-3 groups. I have separte tables ordered by SDs and Mid3%. The SPF values are also included in the Excel sheet. What more can I do. Ananth: ]]

• Andrew Ward on April 5, 2012, 16:40 GMT

I think Richie Benaud is an interesting case. He is shown to be quite inconsistent, but unlike the others this is due to two distinct phases of his career.

If you look at the 5th graph (and ignore the very beginning and end), you can see that in the first half he performs below his career average, and then for the second half he performs above it. He may in fact have been fairly consistent within each half of the career - but he never performed at his average level.

And that's why we have mean, mode and median as three different types of "average". [[ Andrew, if we take away the last 8 Tests, there are only two phases to Benaud;'s career. The first 25 Tests when he has averaged 0.59, 2.3 WpT. Then the second phase of 30 Tests when he averages 1.43, 5.4 WpT. Then come the last 8 Tests. This certainly indicates a fair degree of inconsistency. His SD is a fairly high 0.442 and he has 8 of the 13 values in the extreme groups. This only confirms the inconsistency. Ananth: ]]

• AJ Choudhry on April 5, 2012, 15:08 GMT

Can you tell me most consistenly inconsistent bowler? I hope you understand the question. [[ The most inconsistent bowler is Wilfred Rhodes. He has SPF values as high as 3.29 and as low as 0.18. His career graph is plotted. Look at the way the graph swings. Carl Hooper is the modern bowler quite close to him. His values range from 2.33 to 0.18. Kallis and Sobers are all in the top-10 of the Inconsistency table. Ananth: ]]

• kannan on April 5, 2012, 14:54 GMT

Fantastic analysis and this must have taken such a lot of time and effort. I have to say, though, that this article is only for the hardcore fans. The principal dictum in any writing ( cricket or otherwise) is to keep it simple. I dont think this blog has managed that. I used to read your stuff, but i see myself drifting off. [[ Please understand that I cannot do simple two-page articles here. These have to be above certain level. Even then, in the current article, what do you not understand. In Muralitharan's career, he has captured 800 wkts in 133 Tests, leading to 6.02 WpT. So far, so good. In the first 5 Tests in his career, he captured 16 wickets. So he achieved 0.53 of his career figure. In the next 5 Tests he captured 24 wickets. That works to a ratio of 0.80. And so on. Anything below 0.667 and above 1.333 are considered way out of the career performance levels. The graphs are plotted. Standard Deviation is the simplest of statistical measures. It will take you an hour to understand that. The bottom line is that if you make the effort you will understand everything. That is my objective. By the by, I also do simple 2-page one-topic articles for CastrolCricket.com. But that is for a different audience: the around-30 youngsters who do not want to spend more than 5 minutes on a single article. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on April 5, 2012, 13:07 GMT

Just a point on Underwood, who has often been regarded as a very `consistent` bowler due to his wonderful control and accuracy. I think he struggled to take many wickets on good batting tracks, but was often unplayable on seaming, wet, or `sticky` pitches, thus his inconsistency by Ananth`s measures here.

No complaints at all from me on the set parameters, but we must remember that they suit `men for all seasons` over `men for certain conditions`. [[ Yes, Underwood was "Deadly" only when conditions suited him. That is shown by the wide variations here. Ananth: ]]

• Ananth on April 5, 2012, 12:23 GMT

Karthik, I have incorporated the Team details and uploaded the Excel file. Unfortunately there is no clear way to incorporate the active player concept. Of course W.G.Grace and P.F.Warner are not active. That is obvious. But what do I do about Abdul Razzak who might very well have played his last Test for Pakistan. Or probably not ..., he might be selected. I do not have this info.

• Andy on April 5, 2012, 12:14 GMT

Interesting analysis, just a little confused that S F Barnes is not in the statistics. Did he not play enough tests ? [[ Andy, he is there in the last graph. And if you download the Excel file he is very well there. Ananth: ]]

• Gerry_the_Merry on April 5, 2012, 11:31 GMT

Ananth, What about a comment on 300+ wickets bowlers in the following respect...for how many consecutive slices were they in their mid-3? If bowlers are ranked thus it gives a different picture of the threat they represented. [[ Will try and do it. For that matter the Excel sheet which contains the data is available for an inspection. It is very easy to extract this info visually. Ananth: ]]

• R.Narayan on April 5, 2012, 10:36 GMT

Thats a fun article, Ananth! Whay stood out for me was that of the 10 bowlers, with the lowest Sd, only two could be considered arguably among the Greats: O'Reilly and Steyn/Laker. That either means its easier to be consistently competent than consistently great, or that consistency is not necessary for greatness! [[ Yes, I have sadi time and again that this is not an analysis of the best bowlers but most consistent bowlers. Willis may not figure amongst anyone's list of 20 great fast bowlers, but he certainly WAS consistent. Maybe 3.6 WpT buut he never went below 11 wickets in a 5-Test slice nor above 23 wicklts. Ananth: ]]

• Mazahir Abbas on April 5, 2012, 8:45 GMT

There were times when Waseem, Waqar and Imran played togather. There were times when Waseem, Waqar and/or Saqlain Mushtaq played togather. So if in a team where you have 3 or 4 world class bowlers at the same time then ofcourse pendulum shifts so offten and you can find one on his day. So my point is Waseem and Waqar would have got more if they would have be alone on their days. So i would suggest if you come up with pair performances as well for the bowlers.

• Arjun on April 5, 2012, 7:37 GMT

Ananth,

Will 10 test slice be better than 5 test slice ? benefits are as under. 5 test slice is mostly an away season or a home season. Since your 5 test slices are not overlapping, a home slice for bowler will be followed by away slice an so on. bowlers like kumble, ntini, harbhajan suffer. I think 10 test slice will cover this aspect. Moreover 10 test slice is about a year of cricket which is perfect for consistency wheares 5 test slice is a season of cricket. eg. recent performance by english batsmen. 4 home tests ag. india of 2011 and now 4 away tests in asia are like chalk and cheese. [[ The exact reasons you have pointed out which made me take 5 Tests. Let us move the clock back 40 years when Test cricket was king. England plays 5 Tests at home and wins 4-0. England then travels and gets beaten 0-4. One batsman scores 600 runs at home and 250 overseas in the winter. The current method will move these two slices into Groups B and D or even possibly A and E. I want this to happen. To show that he has had a topsy-turvy year. If we take 10 Tests, his overseas failures will be papered over and there would be a nice career-equalling 850 in 10 Tests. 10 Tests are too many and might even go past an year. For someone like Barnes, there would only be 3 sclices in a 14 year career. That is too few slices. Why should we paper over a players's performance variations, at least for this analysis. The purpose is not to get sufficiently long slices to show more bowlers (or batsmen) as consistent. Let us be tough in setting this criteria. It has let us see the differences between McGrath and Hadlee and Kumble and Harbhajan. In both cases the numbers tell a different story to what we might have percieved. Ananth: ]]

• Anshu N Jain on April 5, 2012, 5:42 GMT

And if I may add, the WI and Aus bowlers also had fantastic averages (WI Sub 25, Aus Sub 30) and Strike Rates (WI 50-55, Aus also 50-55) to go along with their high WpT. [[ All are fine, Anshu. However this is a limited purpose article to measure the consistency of Test bowlers. The basis has been laid on the basis of WpT. Why should strike rates, averages, RpO et al come into the picture. I am only saying that Hadlee and Harbhajan were more consistent than McGrath and Murali. I am not saying that they were better. You cannot use Average to measure consistency. Then 5 wickets in 5 Tests at the career average would be termed consistent. Ananth: ]]

• Anshu N Jain on April 5, 2012, 5:35 GMT

First up, a correction to the formula I suggested in my previous comment - The formula for measuring performance should be (WpT/Strike Rate), and not the product. Blame it on averages, but with 3 bowlers each taking 3.5 WpT consistently, India will NEVER be able to dismiss the other side twice! One of the reasons why the WI in the 80s and Aus in 2000s were successful sides was because they fielded 3 or 4 bowlers with WpT>4. Now, they may not have been consistent together, but as a unit, they certainly did! I understand and respect that you believe WpT is the best indicator of performance. Including other factors can only add to our view of consistent performance, and not take away from it. If anything, consistency across various measures of consistency will actually be the ultimate measure of consistency. [[ I don't know why I am not getting through. Where have I ever said that ""I believe WpT is the best indicator of performance"". I have only said that that is the measure I have used to measure the consistency. The reason has been explained in many places in the article. To measure consistency it is essential for the bowler to capture wickets. Average, for this purpose, is secondary. If a bowler's career WpT is 4.0 @ an average of 30.0 and he captured 10 wickets at 20.0, you would (and should) say that he has fallen below his mark, despite his low average. If he captured 20 wickets at 35.00, you should say that he has been performed at par, despite his higher average. Ananth: ]]

• Harsh Thakor on April 5, 2012, 3:21 GMT

The important factor regarding Imran Khan was that he only became a great fast bowler from the late 1970's.His is an ideal case where a correct analysis has to be in his peak period from 1980-1988 in which he overshadowed everyone,including Dennis Lillee.Similarly Marshall was not the shadow of his true self from 1978-1981.In the 1970's and 1980's Richard Hadlee was the ultimate champion in consistency.

The ultimate metronome for consistency amongst pace bowlers was Glen Mcgrath who performed like a bowling machine maintaining his average and strike rate.Courtney Walsh comes close behind with his great haul of wickets.In terms of mantaining bowling average and economy rate Curtly Ambrose and Joel Garner were the ultimate champion amongst paceman. [[ I do not think McGrath was as consistent as you make him out to be. In his 25 career-slices, he went below 66.7% of 4.54 WpT 3 times. Obviously he had to make up for this and went above 133.3% of 4.5 WpT no less than 4 times. That makes 8 slices out of the consistency zone, as high as 28%. Hadlee is only 16.7%, Harbhajan is only 15%. Ananth: ]] Overall Murlitharan and Warne were in another class with their phenomenal domination over such a length of time. [[ Muralitharan has been off 26%, same as Kumble. Warne has been off higher, 21%. Ananth: ]]

• Dinesh on April 4, 2012, 20:42 GMT

Ananth: I mightnot have clearly understood the Analysis,but i was supporting your statement about not including the Pitches as a factor given the difficulties involved in it. One more Question: Did you do this kind of analysis for batsman as well(It might be my dumbness that i couldnt find it in the site.)

And my apologies for not considering the Willis.I dint checkout the excel sheets fully.

• Kieron on April 4, 2012, 20:22 GMT

Excellent post! It's interesting to note Steyn's figures- he's got a fantastic Ave and SR and from this table we deduce he has been consistent throughout his career- that is doling out his "average" performance every Test. This is reflected in the ICC player rankings as well where he has been No.1 Test bowler for a long time. Can you include Strike Rate comparison as well? It would show how terrific Steyn is, maintaining such stats in an era where batsmen rule. [[ Steyn's last SPF is 0.60, clearly showing the Philander factor. I am suddenly seeing newer uses for this analysis. Ananth: ]] Furthermore, one can see that except Bob Willis (90 Tests) , all other bowlers with high Mid-3 groups have only played around 50 Tests. And Willis' "average" figures are exceptional- 300+ wickets at 25. He was a contemporary of the 80s WI bowlers but he has never got his due I'd say. [[ Although Willis' WpT was a somewhat low 3.6, he maintained THAT figure almost throughout. Ananth: ]] Also, I don't see any from the famed WI fast bowling dynasty. So individually they were not consistent. It does show that redundancy works- if one great fast bowler is having a bad day, have three others to cover up! [[ Excellent point on WI bowlers. You would have expectted them to share the 100 wkts in a 5-Test series quite equitably. Does not seem to be so. Some seem to have been hungrier than the others. Ananth: ]]

• suhayl on April 4, 2012, 18:51 GMT

Hi, interesting analysis. I'm actually surprised at the consistancy of players like Lee,Harbhajan and Kaneria. All 3 have middle 3 group percentages of over 80 (87.5%,85% and 84.6% respectively). I understand that they do not have the best averages but they all have taken more than 250 wickets indicating they have been consistant over a period of time. Lee in particular did not have any slices in group A. [[ Yes, Lee and Kaneria certainly. They have the reputation of on-off performers. Harbhajan's penultimate SPF is a satisfactory 0.97. Only the last one is a poor 0.64. Again he also seem to have been wronged slightly. Ananth: ]]

• Corduroy on April 4, 2012, 18:28 GMT

I appreciate that you are measuring deviation from expected return of wickets over a career and so factors such as other bowlers competing for those wickets are accounted for. However, do you not think that someone such as Sir Richard, who mainly bowled in a team where he was far and away the most likely to take wickets is in a better position to recover from a down period than, say, a West Indian bowler at their most frightening. For example, if Sir Richard had a bad session or day (unlikely, but go with me here) he would likely come out and be able to recover as there would still be 7,8,9 or 10 wicket available. Whereas even a bad session for a West Indian bowler would mean that his competitors had scooped the spoils. I do see that Sir Richard performing badly usually meant that fewer than 20 opposition wickets were taken in the match. [[ The reason why I took 5 Tests as the basis is for this very reason. Even if there are foy=ur equally capable bowlers in a team, over 5 Tests, it is very likely that they should all reach their expected figures. In their case it is likely that their team also captures more wickets. Probably nearer 100 in 5 wickets, allowing them all to share. However, as Keiron has pointed out, very few West Indian bowlers have expressed such a level of consistency. Ananth: ]]

• Karthik on April 4, 2012, 16:31 GMT

Really interesting stuff and your Excel sheet has made for fascinating reading. What I would really appreciate is if you could add a nationality column and perhaps also an "active" column (to indicate if the person is currently active) to the sheet in order to facilitate better filtering. [[ Let me see. Pl see my long response to Hassan. I have just corrected the exclusions and uploaded. After this work is completed, I will incorporate the country and upload sometime tomorrow. Ananth: ]] I find Ishant Sharma's figures particularly startling especially in comparison with Stuart Broad who shares the same Mid3% figure with him. It's almost a case of what-could-have-been ...

Re: Adrian and Tyson - Other notable names missing are those of Larwood, Voce, Spofforth, Fanie de Villiers, and even SR Clark. Just saying ... ;)

Thank you for taking the time to do this! Karthik.

• Hassan on April 4, 2012, 16:06 GMT

M. Asif is the very consistent bowler. Where is he? [[ I owe you a profound apology. I wanted to have at least 5 complete career slices, and unlike me, quite stupidly, I put in a condition that the program should exclude players who have played fewer than 25 Tests. Real amateurish error, I must say. Now what has happened is that Mohammed Asif has played only 23 Tests and was excluded. More than Asif, Saeed Ajmal, who has had a wonderful career, taking 107 wkts in 20 Tests was excluded, as also old time giants like Lohmann, Turner and Blythe. Once again, my profound apologies. I will correct this in three stages. First I have already uploaded the corrected file, this time with the full complement of 160 bowlers. You can immediately download and check it out. Asif is not that consistent but Ajmal is. He has the Mid3% of 100% and a SD as low as 0.210. By tomorrow morning I will complete the next task completely in my control. I will update the tables in the article. That is a straightforward task. For the graphs, I have to depend on Cricinfo staff and that will be done sometime tomorrow. The graphs have to be uploaded since Lohmann and Saeed Ajmal would get into couple of the graphs. For the third time, my apologies to all the readers. Ananth: ]]

• nice on April 4, 2012, 15:31 GMT

after going through analysis ...it sheds light on a simple proof from everyday life....consistent people end up not being stars....example clerks and other white collar people who work day in and out ...consistently...relentlessly....but are least celebrated by media, nation and family alike but jerky and inconsistent performers who suddenly come up with something outrageous and pure genius and then go into slumber...then come up again with something special and then go back to normalcy ... example....stars like amer khan ...give one film and remain hidden for 11 months....then come up again with a hit and then go to slumber.....

• Corduroy on April 4, 2012, 14:52 GMT

Very interesting analysis, thank you. I think the best or, at least easiest, way to take pitches into account would be to split the calculation into home and away tranches - but then we would end up with larger gaps in the splices especially for those whose teams played shorter series.

I would guess that a factor explaining some of the lack of consistency could be competition to take wickets. Sir Richard Hadlee, perhaps, had less competition from team-mates than, say, Waqar. This does not lessen Sir Richard's godlike status. [[ Please remember that such a competition to take wickets would have existed right throughout a bowler's career. I also agree that maybe when Waqar entered, he must have taken away some of Wasim's wickets and so on. But in the case of West Indian bowlers, almost all of them they might have had this situation almost throughout their career. If Hadlee and Murali benefited from this so called lack of competition and finished with 5 and 6 WpT, don't forget that they are being evaluated against THIS VERY NUMBER. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi on April 4, 2012, 14:13 GMT

All, a good article Ananth. About consistent bowlers Richard Hadlee is indeed a fantastic one. His match and career figures are outstanding and I recently watched some videos on youtube and was amazed at his line and length- vs WI in 1980, vs Aus in '85, vs England in '90. Masterful swing bowling. I recommend lovers of bowling those videos. And RJH did remind me, more than once, of Shane Bond.

• Adrian Tuck on April 4, 2012, 14:09 GMT

Re your point number 13 - Frank Tyson is not a bowler of note? Ask Richie Benaud! [[ Did I by any chance say that Tyson was NOT a bowler of note. Negative inferences and implied conclusions are not necessary. I do not need to "talk" to Richie to know about Tyson. 76 wickets at below 19 tells the story. I will certainly add Tyson's name. Maybe someone else will suggest some other bowler's name. I will add that also. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

• Tom on April 4, 2012, 13:07 GMT

Very interesting stuff Ananth - thanks for posting. Particularly interested (and not a little surprised) to see just how consistent England's bowlers were during the 70s, with Willis, Chris Old, John Snow, and at the end of that period, Graham Dilley taking wickets very consistently... particularly given the relative inconsistency of Derek Underwood and Tony Greig, who were (and are) often considered the stars of that bowling lineup. [[ And, Tom, many of these are not the glamour bowlers but the day-in-day-out deliverers of consistent number of obvers. Ananth: ]]

• Anshu N Jain on April 4, 2012, 12:35 GMT

Hi Ananth, Understandably, WpT is a useful indicator of performance, but only one amongst many, the others being Average, Economy and Strike Rate. Now, Economy is clearly the least useful of the four in Tests. But Strike Rate (which combines Average and Economy), is just as useful an indicator, if not more, than the WpT. And a combination of the two (simple product) appears to be the best possible indicator of a player's performance. I understand that in this analysis, you are comparing each player's performance over varying test-slices in his career. Therefore, it doesnt really matter as long as the same metric is used for all players for the final tabulation. My request: I am interested in the tabulation basis the (Strike Rate X WpT) metric. [[ This is a look into the consistent bowlers, rather than the best bowlers. O'Reilly, with a WpT of 5.3 and Willis, with a fairly low WpT of 3.6, are the two bowlers who stand out. Surprisingly, or probably not, some of the extreme bowlers, who have very high and very low WpT values are the inconsistent ones. Bowling average is a wonderful measure and is an effective across-bowlers comparison tool. However, within the single career, it does not make sense to measure bowling averages. What is important is how the bowler has contributed in the wicket-taking department. If India (or any otjher team) produces 3 bowlers who consistently capture 3.5 WpT, across conditions, over 50 Tests, they would go a long way towards long term success. It would not matter what the averages are. This, I am saying with the knowledge that, of the 95 bowlers who have captured 3.5 WpT or more the highest averages are Qadir (32.81), Mushtaq Ahd (32.97) and Kaneria (34.80). What India would not give to have three bowlers like these. Ananth: ]]

• Dinesh on April 4, 2012, 11:41 GMT

Continue post P.S: Waqar Younis's 50 out of a total of 87 matches were below average performances. I think he took a lot of wickets during the around average and above and well above average performances.

• dinesh on April 4, 2012, 11:37 GMT

Hi ananth As some one pointed out that pitches should be taken into consideration. i would say no because there are way to many factors coming in a Murali and Bhajji and others would have feasted on subcontinent tracks. and in a way it would have leveled up as players play as much cricket at home as away from home. and coming to wasim and waqar,they played in a era where i would say Pakistan pitches were condusive to fast bowling,not only pakistan as we know 90's was fast bowlers era given the averages(A decade's average would be fine as we are not talking about 5-10match period). All in all a good article. I would like to add a point here. I think Sir Hadlee was probably the most consistent as he had a just 20matches(20% of his total) of below average performance compared to either murali(30%)/waqar(70%)/Warne(30%)/Wasim(35%) any other high wicket taking bowlers. [[ I get the feeling you have not understood the analysis. It is to measure the consistency, IRRESPECTIVE of all other factors. And every analysis need not take into account every aspect. If, by some chance, I include Pitch, one of you might say, what about batsmen bowled against, another might say home/away, another one might say what about the results and so on. Richard Hadlee has a fairly consistent record, with 15 career slices (out of 18) in the middle three groups. That is an excellent 83.3% mi3-group value. And his SD is reasonably low at 0.289. However pl note that Willis's figures are 94.4% and 0.174. Ananth: ]]

• Vyasa on April 4, 2012, 10:46 GMT

Fabulous effort, Ananth. I liked this methodology as compared to your streakiness effort last time around. Eagerly awaiting more bowler analysis based on home/ away and pitch/ batsmen quality type.

Vyasa.

• Dr. talha on April 4, 2012, 8:39 GMT

You should also consider the type of pitches. For e.g if you look at wasim, waqar and imran, they played on dead wickets in pakistan, and somebody like dennis lilley and curtly ambrose played very few matches in asia. [[ Not really. This is a study of how consistent or inconsistent bowlers were, across Tests, irrespective of where and when these were played, ikrrespective of who the opponents were and what were the results. Ananth: ]]

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• Dr. talha on April 4, 2012, 8:39 GMT

You should also consider the type of pitches. For e.g if you look at wasim, waqar and imran, they played on dead wickets in pakistan, and somebody like dennis lilley and curtly ambrose played very few matches in asia. [[ Not really. This is a study of how consistent or inconsistent bowlers were, across Tests, irrespective of where and when these were played, ikrrespective of who the opponents were and what were the results. Ananth: ]]

• Vyasa on April 4, 2012, 10:46 GMT

Fabulous effort, Ananth. I liked this methodology as compared to your streakiness effort last time around. Eagerly awaiting more bowler analysis based on home/ away and pitch/ batsmen quality type.

Vyasa.

• dinesh on April 4, 2012, 11:37 GMT

Hi ananth As some one pointed out that pitches should be taken into consideration. i would say no because there are way to many factors coming in a Murali and Bhajji and others would have feasted on subcontinent tracks. and in a way it would have leveled up as players play as much cricket at home as away from home. and coming to wasim and waqar,they played in a era where i would say Pakistan pitches were condusive to fast bowling,not only pakistan as we know 90's was fast bowlers era given the averages(A decade's average would be fine as we are not talking about 5-10match period). All in all a good article. I would like to add a point here. I think Sir Hadlee was probably the most consistent as he had a just 20matches(20% of his total) of below average performance compared to either murali(30%)/waqar(70%)/Warne(30%)/Wasim(35%) any other high wicket taking bowlers. [[ I get the feeling you have not understood the analysis. It is to measure the consistency, IRRESPECTIVE of all other factors. And every analysis need not take into account every aspect. If, by some chance, I include Pitch, one of you might say, what about batsmen bowled against, another might say home/away, another one might say what about the results and so on. Richard Hadlee has a fairly consistent record, with 15 career slices (out of 18) in the middle three groups. That is an excellent 83.3% mi3-group value. And his SD is reasonably low at 0.289. However pl note that Willis's figures are 94.4% and 0.174. Ananth: ]]

• Dinesh on April 4, 2012, 11:41 GMT

Continue post P.S: Waqar Younis's 50 out of a total of 87 matches were below average performances. I think he took a lot of wickets during the around average and above and well above average performances.

• Anshu N Jain on April 4, 2012, 12:35 GMT

Hi Ananth, Understandably, WpT is a useful indicator of performance, but only one amongst many, the others being Average, Economy and Strike Rate. Now, Economy is clearly the least useful of the four in Tests. But Strike Rate (which combines Average and Economy), is just as useful an indicator, if not more, than the WpT. And a combination of the two (simple product) appears to be the best possible indicator of a player's performance. I understand that in this analysis, you are comparing each player's performance over varying test-slices in his career. Therefore, it doesnt really matter as long as the same metric is used for all players for the final tabulation. My request: I am interested in the tabulation basis the (Strike Rate X WpT) metric. [[ This is a look into the consistent bowlers, rather than the best bowlers. O'Reilly, with a WpT of 5.3 and Willis, with a fairly low WpT of 3.6, are the two bowlers who stand out. Surprisingly, or probably not, some of the extreme bowlers, who have very high and very low WpT values are the inconsistent ones. Bowling average is a wonderful measure and is an effective across-bowlers comparison tool. However, within the single career, it does not make sense to measure bowling averages. What is important is how the bowler has contributed in the wicket-taking department. If India (or any otjher team) produces 3 bowlers who consistently capture 3.5 WpT, across conditions, over 50 Tests, they would go a long way towards long term success. It would not matter what the averages are. This, I am saying with the knowledge that, of the 95 bowlers who have captured 3.5 WpT or more the highest averages are Qadir (32.81), Mushtaq Ahd (32.97) and Kaneria (34.80). What India would not give to have three bowlers like these. Ananth: ]]

• Tom on April 4, 2012, 13:07 GMT

Very interesting stuff Ananth - thanks for posting. Particularly interested (and not a little surprised) to see just how consistent England's bowlers were during the 70s, with Willis, Chris Old, John Snow, and at the end of that period, Graham Dilley taking wickets very consistently... particularly given the relative inconsistency of Derek Underwood and Tony Greig, who were (and are) often considered the stars of that bowling lineup. [[ And, Tom, many of these are not the glamour bowlers but the day-in-day-out deliverers of consistent number of obvers. Ananth: ]]

• Adrian Tuck on April 4, 2012, 14:09 GMT

Re your point number 13 - Frank Tyson is not a bowler of note? Ask Richie Benaud! [[ Did I by any chance say that Tyson was NOT a bowler of note. Negative inferences and implied conclusions are not necessary. I do not need to "talk" to Richie to know about Tyson. 76 wickets at below 19 tells the story. I will certainly add Tyson's name. Maybe someone else will suggest some other bowler's name. I will add that also. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi on April 4, 2012, 14:13 GMT

All, a good article Ananth. About consistent bowlers Richard Hadlee is indeed a fantastic one. His match and career figures are outstanding and I recently watched some videos on youtube and was amazed at his line and length- vs WI in 1980, vs Aus in '85, vs England in '90. Masterful swing bowling. I recommend lovers of bowling those videos. And RJH did remind me, more than once, of Shane Bond.

• Corduroy on April 4, 2012, 14:52 GMT

Very interesting analysis, thank you. I think the best or, at least easiest, way to take pitches into account would be to split the calculation into home and away tranches - but then we would end up with larger gaps in the splices especially for those whose teams played shorter series.

I would guess that a factor explaining some of the lack of consistency could be competition to take wickets. Sir Richard Hadlee, perhaps, had less competition from team-mates than, say, Waqar. This does not lessen Sir Richard's godlike status. [[ Please remember that such a competition to take wickets would have existed right throughout a bowler's career. I also agree that maybe when Waqar entered, he must have taken away some of Wasim's wickets and so on. But in the case of West Indian bowlers, almost all of them they might have had this situation almost throughout their career. If Hadlee and Murali benefited from this so called lack of competition and finished with 5 and 6 WpT, don't forget that they are being evaluated against THIS VERY NUMBER. Ananth: ]]

• nice on April 4, 2012, 15:31 GMT

after going through analysis ...it sheds light on a simple proof from everyday life....consistent people end up not being stars....example clerks and other white collar people who work day in and out ...consistently...relentlessly....but are least celebrated by media, nation and family alike but jerky and inconsistent performers who suddenly come up with something outrageous and pure genius and then go into slumber...then come up again with something special and then go back to normalcy ... example....stars like amer khan ...give one film and remain hidden for 11 months....then come up again with a hit and then go to slumber.....