July 19, 2012

Test Bowling: location summary, by innings and vs country

An analysis of Test bowling performances by location, opposition and innings number in the match
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Malcolm Marshall had an above-par performance against all teams © Getty Images

This completes the sequence of four articles in which I analyzed ODI/Test Batting/Bowling performances at home or away, against different teams and in the first or second innings. While the graphs and tables provide immediate and easy viewing, the core of the articles is the exhaustive set of Excel tables which could be downloaded by readers and different types of analysis done by themselves. That is what has been done so far and hundreds of informed and insightful comments have come out so far. Normally I do analysis-centric articles which take on and expound a theme. Once in a while I do different types of articles in which I go deep in one area of the game and provide data tables around it. This is one such article.

This information is certainly available through StatsGuru of Cricinfo. However, what will not be available are the composite multidimensional tables which are provided here. You would have to put in multiple queries and saving the tables in an accessible format is another problem.

In order to avoid the usual questions and comments which relate to specific players, let me explain how these series of articles have been structured. I have covered the top/selected 10-15 players in a graph to visually present the variations. Then I present data tables, in the body of the articles, which normally cover the top 30 players or so. However the most important of the tables are the ones which have been uploaded and are available for downloading for permanent storage and perusal. Normally these cover the complete set of players, say 160 or so, who meet the cut-off criteria. So, before coming out with comments that "Willis or Bedi or Croft is not mentioned", please download the tables and check. Superficial reading of the articles is not enough.

The vs Country grouping is simple. I have 10 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies & Zimbabwe. And the analysis is very extensive in that it is by country played against: at home, away and across career. These being Test matches, I have also analyzed the career averages by first and second innings.

1. The criterion is 100 Test wickets for the career analysis and other analyses. I know that Bond and Mailey will miss out. However I do not want to lower the target further since the vs Country numbers would be too low. I have also raised the bar for the Home/Away analysis so that we are able to look at the real performers.
2. Bowling Average is a complete measure and explains what all needs to be communicated regarding a bowler. In addition, in my graphs, I have taken the liberty of not including pre-WW1 bowlers other than Barnes. The reasons are obvious. Averages of below 20 were quite frequent and this would have distorted the presentation.
3. There are problems with the single Australia-ICC Test match. It could be said that the ICC players played against Australia away. Fine. But what about Australia ? Which country did they play against ? And I am not certainly going to allocate part of the match runs/wickets only. So this match has been completely excluded from the analysis. So do not come out with a complaint if you see Muralitharan with 795 wickets.
4. There is no neutral location. Too few matches (probably a maximum of 20) have been played in the neutral locations for me to classify these. These are treated as "Away" for both teams, probably a very fair assignment.

First the graphs. I would only offer limited comments since I expect the readers to come out with their own comments. I might anyhow miss some obvious comment. Should not really matter. The ordering is different for different modes of presentation since we can get different insights. In general, the graphs are ordered by the concerned Bowling Average values and the tables are ordered by the appropriate Wickets captured values.

Bowler analysis - Summary by location / innings / quality of batsmen dismissed

Summary of bowling averages and wickets distrbution
© Anantha Narayanan

Look at Hadlee, McGrath and Warne. Almost the same bowling averages at home and away. Laker, Muralitharan and Imran Khan have performed significantly better at home. Davidson has performed much better away, as do Garner and Ambrose, to a lesser extent.

Most bowler have performed better in the first innings. Marshall, Laker, Warne and Donald have performed much better in the second innings. Look at Imran Khan's almost similar first and second innings performances.

Nearly 50% of the wickets captured by McGrath and Donald are top-order wickets. Ambrose, Davidson, Miller are close behind. Warne has the highest share of late order wickets, followed by O'Reilly and Muralitharan.

Bowler analysis - All matches - by opposing country

Summary of bowling averages against each team
© Anantha Narayanan

This graph requires some explanation. These are ordered by the Bowling Average values. The player's performance against the 10 teams are plotted. Blue circles indicate Bowling Average values of below 25.0 and Red circles indicate Bowling Average values above 25.0. The number of wickets and bowling averages are displayed under each country.

Possibly the best performances across all countries are by Davidson, Trueman and McGrath. Only for this composite graph, I have included a new table indicating the top three bowlers against each country. I have done a selection of mine, keeping in view both number of wickets and bowling average.

AustraliaHadlee130 @ 21.6Ambrose128 @ 21.2Laker79 @ 18.3
EnglandAmbrose164 @ 18.8Garner92 @ 17.9Marshall127 @ 19.2
West IndiesVaas55 @ 16.6McGrath110 @ 19.4Muralitharan82 @ 19.6
IndiaTrueman54 @ 14.8Donald57 @ 17.3McGrath51 @ 18.6
South AfricaBarnes83 @ 9.9Grimmett77 @ 15.6Muralitharan104 @ 22.2
PakistanCroft50 @ 19.6Warne90 @ 20.2Marshall50 @ 20.7
Sri LankaImran Khan46 @ 14.6Wasim Akram63 @ 21.3Waqar Younis56 @ 22.7
New ZealandWasim Akram60 @ 17.0Willis60 @ 18.9Bedi57 @ 19.1
BangladeshMuralitharan89 @ 13.4Vettori51 @ 16.1  
ZimbabweMuralitharan87 @ 16.9Waqar Younis62 @ 19.9 

Some of these figures have to be taken with a lot of salt. For instance, Trueman's figures against India or Barnes' figures against South Africa. The Indian batting during the 1950s, especially away, was quite poor and any bowler worth his salt would have averaged below 20. The performances to appreciate and applaud are Hadlee and Ambrose against Australia, the Caribbean trio against England, McGrath against West Indies and Donald and McGrath against India. Mention has to be made of Vaas against West Indies. Surprisingly Warne has done phenomenally well against Pakistan and quite poorly against India, despite the fact that both teams have very good players of spin.

Bowler analysis - Home matches - by opposing country

Summary of bowling averages against each team in home Tests
© Anantha Narayanan

Surprisingly the only bowlers to have above-par performances against all countries are Trueman and Marshall. Laker has a blip against West Indies. As far as teams are concerned, Australia and Pakistan have travelled well. The triple-red-circles against India are with very few wickets. I have also shown the worst three bowlers at the lower end of the graph. Sobers, Flintoff and Vettori have done worst at home. Flintoff is a surprise. To average above 35 in helpful conditions at home: maybe some opinions about his bowling prowess should be changed. This, despite a great 2005 Ashes outing.

Bowler analysis - Away matches - by opposing country

Summary of bowling averages against each team in away Tests
© Anantha Narayanan

McGrath has been the best travelling bowler. Ambrose has been equally good, although his career has been dominated by tours against Australia and England. Kumble and Harbhajan have been the worst performers away from home. Ntini also has not set any away grounds alight.

Now for the tables. Most of these are self-explanatory.

Test bowler summary: by location, innings and quality of Bowlers dismissed

BowlerCtryCareerCareerHome Away 1 Inns 2 Inns TopOrdMidOrdLateOrd
  WktsAvgeWkts~Avge       WktsWktsWkts
               
MuralitharanSlk80022.73500~20.1562.5%300~27.0237.5%458~23.9557.2%342~21.0942.8%280260260
Warne S.KAus70825.42366~25.5551.7%342~25.2748.3%349~28.0549.3%359~22.8650.7%225220263
Kumble AInd61929.65383~24.961.9%236~37.3638.1%339~32.1754.8%280~26.6145.2%237181201
McGrath G.DAus56321.64316~21.9756.1%247~21.2343.9%329~21.9558.4%234~21.2241.6%282139142
Walsh C.AWin51924.44252~23.1548.6%267~25.6651.4%279~28.4853.8%240~19.7546.2%228128163
Kapil Dev NInd43429.65225~26.8251.8%209~32.6948.2%299~31.268.9%135~26.2131.1%21497123
Hadlee R.JNzl43122.30215~22.2349.9%216~22.3750.1%289~22.7767.1%142~21.3532.9%189113129
Pollock S.MSaf42123.12247~21.3558.7%174~25.6341.3%255~23.0560.6%166~23.2239.4%186111124
Wasim AkramPak41423.62173~23.1341.8%241~23.9758.2%242~25.7158.5%172~20.6941.5%163106145
HarbhajanInd40632.22267~28.3665.8%139~39.6534.2%225~37.5555.4%181~25.6144.6%142116144
AmbroseWin40520.99211~21.5452.1%194~20.3947.9%243~21.860.0%162~19.7740.0%192101112
Ntini MSaf39028.83261~24.4366.9%129~37.7133.1%245~29.0662.8%145~28.4337.2%19010892
Botham I.TEng38328.40226~27.9959.0%157~2941.0%262~28.2468.4%121~28.7531.6%155110118
MarshallWin37620.95189~19.6650.3%187~22.2549.7%200~22.553.2%176~19.1846.8%16711099
Waqar YounisPak37323.56180~20.6448.3%193~26.2851.7%225~25.2660.3%148~20.9839.7%163101109
Imran KhanPak36222.81181~19.3450.0%181~26.2950.0%227~22.9162.7%135~22.6437.3%16791104
Vettori D.LNzl35934.16179~34.749.9%180~33.6350.1%225~32.6762.7%134~36.6837.3%131106121
Lillee D.KAus35523.92234~23.7965.9%121~24.1834.1%208~22.8258.6%147~25.4841.4%1669297
Vaas WPUJCSlk35529.58187~26.3352.7%168~33.247.3%223~30.9262.8%132~27.3137.2%1858981
Donald A.ASaf33022.25192~21.3558.2%138~23.5141.8%200~24.0260.6%130~19.5439.4%1648086
WillisEng32525.20180~23.6655.4%145~27.1144.6%205~26.2563.1%120~23.436.9%1618282
Lee BAus31030.82191~29.1161.6%119~33.5538.4%174~29.8456.1%136~32.0743.9%1478083
Gibbs L.RWin30929.09151~26.7748.9%158~31.3151.1%160~33.4951.8%149~24.3648.2%98100111
Trueman F.SEng30721.58231~20.0775.2%76~26.1624.8%196~21.3463.8%111~22.0136.2%1397197
UnderwoodEng29725.84154~24.3851.9%143~27.4148.1%152~29.4651.2%145~22.0448.8%12410370
McDermottAus29128.63204~26.3770.1%87~33.9429.9%196~27.6867.4%95~30.632.6%1358571
Zaheer KhanInd28831.78102~35.3935.4%186~29.8164.6%188~32.1565.3%100~31.0934.7%1488356
Kallis J.HSaf27632.45163~30.6559.1%113~35.0540.9%140~38.3650.7%136~26.3749.3%1049379
Steyn D.WSaf27223.19168~22.1761.8%104~24.8438.2%160~22.558.8%112~24.1741.2%1186588

This table includes all matches, including the one-off ICC Test. The Home/Away and First/Second innings columns are self-explanatory. The last three columns contain the top order, middle order and late order wickets captured by the bowler. The batting position is important since, irrespective of the batting average, top order wickets are important for both teams. In the uploaded table I also have the average Batting average of all wickets captured by the bowler. The higher the average Batting average, the higher the average quality of batsmen dismissed.

McGrath's consistency across locations and innings and his 50% top order wickets tally are amazing achievements. Hadlee matches McGrath in all but top order wickets which is still a respectable 44%. Ambrose is in between with a top order figure of 47%. Ignoring the freak 60% figures for two bowlers, Motz and Pathan, at the end of the table, the highest top-order capture is for Vaas, with 52%. The lowest amongst the top bowlers is for Warne with 32%. MacGill is still lower at 28%.

Vaas is also the lowest in the late-order wickets tally, with 23%. Zaheer Khan clocks in with 19% in the sub-300 wickets band of bowlers. Warne is the highest with 37%.

I will let the readers come out with their comments on the following three tables. The selection criterion is 100 wickets and the ordering is by wickets captured. Let me also say categorically that, as far as I am concerned, a Test wicket is a wicket and does not go down in value because it is of a lesser team's batsman. Just as we have accepted the runs, we should accept wickets. I will always bring in the example of Tendulkar's 100 against Bangladesh in 2010. It is one of his best five efforts. But for him India would have lost. So let us not bring in the bogey of cheaper wickets. In that case we have to discount many more wickets since many teams, at different times in history, have been poor and of lesser quality. And let me conclude by saying that if Warne did not get more Bangladeshi/Zimbabwe wickets, it was because Australia did not play enough matches there, for their own own valid reasons.

I will only talk about the first data row, which is a weighted average of the bowling average of the 160+ bowlers against the specific country. This is determined by the formula: Sum(Bowler wickets x Bowling average) / Sum(Bowler wickets).

Test bowler summary: All matches vs other teams

BowlerTeamCareerAusBngEngIndNzlPakSafSlkWinZim
All matches 28.0330.6019.3827.5128.2624.2529.4128.1829.0228.8822.74
 
MuralitharanSlk795~2354~3689~13112~20105~3382~2280~25104~22 82~2087~17
Warne S.KAus702~26 11~27195~2343~47103~2490~20130~2459~2665~306~23
Kumble AInd619~30111~3015~1792~31 50~2681~3284~3274~3174~3038~23
McGrath G.DAus560~22 5~25157~2151~1957~2580~2257~2737~22110~196~15
Walsh C.AWin519~24135~29 145~2565~2043~2263~2351~208~35 9~15
Kapil Dev NInd434~3079~25 85~37 25~3599~308~3745~2789~254~34
Hadlee R.JNzl431~22130~21 97~2565~23 51~28 37~1351~22 
Pollock S.MSaf421~2340~379~1591~2452~2043~2245~21 48~2270~2323~15
Wasim AkramPak414~2450~26 57~3145~2960~17 13~3063~2179~2147~21
HarbhajanInd406~3290~296~4843~39 43~3325~5260~2852~3956~2331~25
AmbroseWin405~21128~21 164~1915~3813~2142~2821~1914~14 8~12
Ntini MSaf390~2958~3535~1670~3436~2946~2541~24 35~3063~286~46
Botham I.TEng383~28148~28  59~2664~2340~32 11~2861~35 
MarshallWin376~2187~23 127~1976~2236~2250~21    
Waqar YounisPak373~2430~3418~1050~278~4970~20 24~2956~2355~2362~20
Imran KhanPak362~2364~25 47~2594~2431~28  46~1580~21 
Vettori D.LNzl358~3465~3651~1645~3740~48 20~4821~7351~2433~2632~27
Lillee D.KAus355~24  167~2121~2238~1971~30 3~3655~28 
Vaas WPUJCSlk355~3038~3219~2649~3130~4542~2447~3727~34 55~1748~28
Donald A.ASaf330~2253~31 86~2357~1721~2127~22 29~1943~2114~16
WillisEng325~25128~26  62~2360~1934~24 3~2338~36 
Gibbs L.RWin309~29103~31 100~2963~2311~5732~24    
Lee BAus308~31 8~4762~4153~3244~215~4750~3516~1864~236~37
Trueman F.SEng307~2279~25  53~1540~1922~2027~23 86~23 
UnderwoodEng297~26105~26  62~2748~1236~24 8~1238~44 
McDermottAus291~29  84~2634~2948~3018~3521~2927~2759~29 
Zaheer KhanInd288~3261~3631~2439~27 35~2617~4733~3428~3923~3021~27
Kallis J.HSaf275~3248~3817~1446~3518~4324~3723~38 26~3352~3021~15
Steyn D.WSaf272~2345~2622~1731~3453~1945~1919~31 22~2735~19 
AndersonEng267~3041~399~25 45~3027~2432~1848~3818~3636~2811~20

The across-bowlers-countries bowling average is around 28. The all-inclusive average is around 30. But remember that these are the top 160 bowlers. Australia has been the toughest team to bowl to, with a bowling average of over 30, even for these top bowlers. Pakistan is the next toughest at 29.4 and surprisingly Sri Lanka follows with 29.0. West Indies follows next with 28.8 and only then comes India. It is no surprise that Bangladesh is at the other end with an average below 20. Zimbabwe fares much better with 22.7.

Test bowler summary: Home matches vs other teams

BowlerTeamCareerAusBngEngIndNzlPakSafSlkWinZim
Home matches 25.2526.8316.5625.8825.4922.8025.7628.2725.2925.2818.71
 
MuralitharanSlk493~2047~2660~1064~2165~2552~2230~2669~20 45~1761~12
Kumble AInd350~2562~24 56~24 39~2257~2839~3244~2229~2724~19
Warne S.KAus313~27  66~269~6354~2745~2269~2422~3248~27 
McGrath G.DAus286~23 5~2570~2318~1427~3347~2128~3131~2060~18 
HarbhajanInd258~2881~24 29~34 22~4225~3842~2627~3120~1712~20
Ntini MSaf249~2440~3123~1327~3218~3039~2132~18 26~2239~265~18
Pollock S.MSaf235~218~472~3256~2339~1717~2027~21 26~2050~2110~12
Lillee D.KAus231~24  71~2221~2216~1568~27  55~25 
Walsh C.AWin229~2463~22 58~2722~2411~2530~2429~207~31 9~15
Trueman F.SEng229~2050~24  53~1521~2322~2027~23 56~19 
Botham I.TEng226~2879~27  29~2737~2138~31 8~3135~32 
Kapil Dev NInd219~2628~27 42~35 10~2355~22 29~2354~261~41
AmbroseWin203~2150~23 76~1615~388~2027~298~1011~15 8~12
Hadlee R.JNzl201~2353~25 27~2434~24 41~24 10~1436~20 
McDermottAus193~26  54~2234~2632~3111~2714~1813~3035~33 
Lee BAus184~29 6~3233~3645~2726~24 23~4316~1829~196~37
Vaas WPUJCSlk180~2621~2513~2740~2119~476~308~6216~25 39~1218~33
Donald A.ASaf177~2224~34 41~2240~1811~1820~19 17~1923~171~83
WillisEng176~2456~21  30~2432~1625~23  33~34 
AndersonEng173~2712~459~25 35~3019~1923~1430~377~2927~2411~20
Abdul QadirPak168~2733~27 61~2021~4616~26  9~3128~27 
Bedser A.VEng167~2257~24  44~137~3110~1638~24 11~34 
Imran KhanPak163~1919~17  67~2214~30  31~1332~15 
Vettori D.LNzl159~3729~3217~2319~469~61 19~4214~7821~2025~266~36
Steyn D.WSaf159~2227~268~2523~3427~1836~174~22 14~2220~19 
MarshallWin157~2042~22 33~2140~2027~1815~19    
Waqar YounisPak156~2110~26 5~236~4036~12 4~3131~2623~2141~19
Kallis J.HSaf155~3130~3412~1511~5711~4514~3015~32 19~3125~2918~12
Wasim AkramPak154~2214~30 4~5618~3110~16 6~1928~2344~1630~18

For the home matches of the bowlers, the across-bowlers-countries bowling average falls, as expected, to around 25. This time there are changes. South Africa has been the toughest team to bowl to, for the bowlers bowling at home, with a bowling average of just over 28, even for these top bowlers. Australia follows next with 26.8 and again surprisingly England follows with 25.8. It is again no surprise that Bangladesh is at the other end, travelling very poorly with an average around 16.5. Zimbabwe fares better with 18.7.

Test bowler summary: Away matches vs other teams

BowlerTeamCareerAusBngEngIndNzlPakSafSlkWinZim
Away matches 27.6931.2019.2126.4726.6524.7530.2426.7229.0529.0225.52
Warne S.KAus389~25 11~27129~2234~4349~2145~1961~2437~2117~406~23
MuralitharanSlk302~287~10729~1948~1940~4530~2050~2535~26 37~2326~28
Walsh C.AWin290~2572~34 87~2443~1932~2133~2222~191~60  
McGrath G.DAus274~21  87~1933~2130~1833~2229~246~3650~216~15
Kumble AInd269~3649~3815~1736~41 11~4024~4245~3230~4545~3114~29
Wasim AkramPak260~2536~24 53~2927~2850~17 7~3935~2035~2717~26
Hadlee R.JNzl230~2277~18 70~2531~22 10~45 27~1215~27 
MarshallWin219~2245~23 94~1936~259~3235~21    
Waqar YounisPak217~2620~3818~1045~272~7634~27 20~2825~1932~2521~22
Kapil Dev NInd215~3351~25 43~39 15~4244~408~3716~3335~233~31
AmbroseWin202~2178~20 88~21 5~2315~2513~243~9  
Imran KhanPak199~2645~29 47~2527~2817~27  15~1848~25 
Vettori D.LNzl199~3136~3834~1226~3031~45 1~1787~6430~268~2726~25
Zaheer KhanInd191~3025~3531~2431~28 24~2311~4123~3318~4015~3813~22
Pollock S.MSaf186~2632~347~1135~2513~2726~2318~23 22~2520~2913~18
Gibbs L.RWin183~2959~33 62~2639~238~4515~26    
Vaas WPUJCSlk175~3317~426~249~7811~4136~2339~3211~47 16~2830~25
D KaneriaPak164~3434~4225~1114~5931~4016~31 15~2615~2714~40 
Holding M.AWin163~2463~24 63~2130~227~48     
Botham I.TEng157~3069~28  30~2627~272~45 3~2226~40 
Donald A.ASaf153~2329~28 45~2417~1610~257~32 12~1920~2513~11
UnderwoodEng152~2750~31  54~2724~1411~38 8~125~63

Now for the travelling bowlers. The across-bowlers-countries bowling average is around 28, almost the same as playing at home. Even for these top bowlers, Australia has been the toughest team to bowl to, away, with a bowling average of over 31. Pakistan is the next toughest at 30.2 and surprisingly Sri Lanka follows with 29.0. West Indies follows next with 29.0 and only then come South Africa and India. Bangladesh is at the other end with an average below 20. Zimbabwe fares much better, at home, with 25.5.

To download/view the Excel sheet containing the following tables, please CLICK/RIGHT-CLICK HERE. The serious students of the game are going to have a link to this Excel file on their desktop and refer to it a few times a day.

Bowlers location summary and innings summaries.
Bowlers analysis vs Team - for all matches
Bowlers analysis vs Team - for home matches
Bowlers analysis vs Team - for away matches

No specific conclusions. I decided against coming out with any selection of bowlers. It will be a red herring.

Finally a request. Often we go off on a tangent and pursue areas which are completely off-track. In my anxiety to avoid rejecting comments (I might have rejected fewer than 100 comments over 4 years), I allow lot of freedom to readers. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility. Bring in discussion points only if they have some relevance to the topic of the article. Bring in First Class records only to support something specific. Do not bring in Lara or Tendulkar or Richards into a discussion of bowlers' performances other than for discussing specific areas. Do not highlight failures of great players just for the sake of doing it. Do not start with an agenda and take it to the nth level, just for the heck of it. If everyone wants to have the last word, there would not be a last word at all. YouTube videos are wonderful. I myself have had the pleasure of watching many a video of which I was not aware of. But use these only to enlighten readers and offer additional insights. Then the experience is enjoyable.

Henceforth I will neither publish a comment nor answer any queries related to it if I feel it is way out and is not going to steer the discussions in a positive manner. Alternately, if appropriate, I will publish after editing, making sure that the spirit behind the comment is retained.

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

  • Rajveer on August 16, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    Great analysis. My question is regarding data collection. I am in the process of developing a similar effectiveness index for a bowler and I wanted to the factor in the top and middle order wickets. So I am curious to know how have you aggregated the data on batting order. Is there a query option in statguru that enables me to do that? [[ I have my own proprietary database and use only that for analysis. I do not use Statsguru other than stray queries. Ananth: ]]

  • Shafiq on August 2, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    Great article, i wanted to appreciate you after seeing many of sub-standard comments.

  • Hemant on August 2, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    Can't wait to see him bowl in australian coindtions.He may suprise me and average under 100 per wicket but I doubt it, after all, even Murali struggled on australian decks averaging about 70 odd from memory. [[ Who??? Ananth: ]]

  • Julie on July 31, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    Sam, He did actually inevnt the carrom ball, Iverson's was almost the exact same but it actually spun, so it couldn't have been the carrom ball. He also never called it the carrom ball, he gave it no name at all. Mendis named it, thusly inevnting the carrom ball the same way saqlain had inevnted the doosra that had been bowled in the 60s by an Australian reserve batsman.

  • srini on July 31, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    My father mentioned he saw GRV's 97 live (and I am burning with jealousy even though I wasn't born then) but that got me thinking about batsman vs bowler as in terrific batting against a fearsome bowling individually. GRV's 97 vs Roberts 7-fer, Sachin's 136 vs Saqlain's 5-fer or something of that sort. Maybe u can set a higher standard. Sorry if it seems very vague or if you've done it before.

  • Eri on July 31, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Height is one of the most imortant faoctrs. Malinga is short but you have forgotten the fact that he is a slinger and height is an independent factor when it comes to Malinga's actionYou got to have both, strength and height otherwise you will do nothing on pace oriented bouncy wickets. Curtley Ambrose lost miles of pace at the end of his career but he was still unplayable. It's coz of the bounce generated by height. I'm sick of seeing 5'8 skinny bowlers form SL. Nuwan Kulasekara has been the worst bowler in the world during the last 18 months statistically. You got to be one of the following1. Strong with a slinging action in this case height doesn't matter being short is alright2. Tall to extract bounce3. If you got neither, got to be able to move the ball bothways as stock deliveries (VAAS) (+1)

  • Ranga on July 31, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    @ Sudhir: I remember Ananth churning out an excellent analysis on series efforts of allrounders. Which I think would be an excellent precursor to the article on allrounders, which would come after, as Ananth mentioned, bowling and batting articles. In case you missed it, please look into the archives. That was one article I enjoyed as it quantified how allrounders clicked in both batting and bowling in the same series. Not so surprising entries but quite a few surprising absences, made it an intriguing piece.

    @ Ananth: You have done an extensive series on batting and bowling if I am not wrong, twice each, in the recent 15 months. Have we not covered every aspect - Like the quality of attack faced, nature of pitch, match conditions, etc? In addition to those, you also did an article on centuries and 5-fers. Don't too many similar articles too very soon sound repititive? I agree that they are all on different parameters, but I find all those articles having some common link. [[ You are talking of 15 months. I am looking at possible repetitions within 6 months. What do I do. Two-thirds of my articles are related to Tests and that now means about 15 a year. Previously it was more. There is batting, bowling, teams. So there are bound to be repetitions. Short of making a frequency of a month for each article, this is bound to happen. Frankly I think it is a miracle that I seem to get new ideas, many contributed by readers, to come out with new themes: albeit related but at least covering new ground. A career half or third analysis is something new. However many readers, irrespective of the article, take a single theme, be it McGrath vs Ambrose, Warne vs Murali, Marshall vs the rest, Richards vs Lara vs SRT etc and run it down to earth. The problem is whatever I do you see the same players. Ananth: ]]

  • sudhir on July 30, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    Hi Ananth. Regarding the future you have mentioned in the previous comment..what will you do for all rounders..like will u seperate their best batting "X" years and best bowling "X" years?? because both best years may not coincide for an all rounder let us get the batting/bowling going and then work on the all-rounders.

  • Ram on July 29, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Batsmen/Bowlers have lean/mean patches. Longevity is one factor for evaluating them, but I agree with the comment that players are better compared against each other on the basis of their best "x" years, in succession, and also "x" best years taken throughout their career (x=10 is a good sample size that can coverup injuries, loss of form etc, and a slightly lesser value of x for fast bowlers who have relatively smaller careers).

    Most players take some time to make it on the big stage and towards the end also their stats often take a beating as age begins to take its toll. By taking off these periods ( first three years and last two-three years) we would be comparing their "peak" years when they were at the peak of their abilities. The best batsmen may be expected to average 65+ and the best bowlers come under 20.

    Alternatively, best 50 tests and best 100 tests ( in succession and otherwise) may be alternate ways to compare great players. [[ Sarosh's idea is an excellent one and, properly conceived and implemented, can become a landmark analysis. However there is a lot of tough work ahead. I would determine for each player their best decade in batting and bowling exactly to the day. This is not very difficult to do especially as I have the 200-Test data segment available. It is just a single program. However I am going to give a third of the weight for the peer comparison and I want this peer period to be exactly matching, that means special for each player and different for batting and bowling. The only way I can do this is by creating for each of the 2000+ tests the exact 10-year-ahead batting/bowling data. Now I do not even have a container for this data and have to create one. So I am looking at this to come out during first week of September. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on July 28, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    Ananth : An off topic Question: How do you decide its time for a new Article to be posted? When the comments sections slows down or whenever a new Article is up and ready? #TongueInCheek [[ Dinesh A very valid question and I wonder why no one has asked this so far. I had started with 4 articles a month but stabilized at 3 per month over the past three years. However I found that I was finding it difficult to manage this workload (and other work) because of my multiple hand-wrist-shoulder related problems. The trend in an article is a slow start, move up and settle down and then a lull. This normally takes 10 days since normally my articles are long and multi-topic ones as compared to other articles which normally cover a single topic. When I was doing 3 per month, by the time this period of lull settled in, the next article would kick in and I almost had no respite or rest. Now with my settling at 2 articles a month I have these 5 days of rest for the tired limbs, as will be there until Wednesday when my next article is scheduled. Of course it happens once in a blue moon that I might send an article and another one would be ready for publication as happened with Ric Finlay's article 10 days back. I then ask Cricinfo to publish the other one and wait for most of the comments to be received. Anyhow since I have done over 80% of the articles in "It Figures" so far, this does not happen often. Thanks for the question. Ananth: ]]

  • Rajveer on August 16, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    Great analysis. My question is regarding data collection. I am in the process of developing a similar effectiveness index for a bowler and I wanted to the factor in the top and middle order wickets. So I am curious to know how have you aggregated the data on batting order. Is there a query option in statguru that enables me to do that? [[ I have my own proprietary database and use only that for analysis. I do not use Statsguru other than stray queries. Ananth: ]]

  • Shafiq on August 2, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    Great article, i wanted to appreciate you after seeing many of sub-standard comments.

  • Hemant on August 2, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    Can't wait to see him bowl in australian coindtions.He may suprise me and average under 100 per wicket but I doubt it, after all, even Murali struggled on australian decks averaging about 70 odd from memory. [[ Who??? Ananth: ]]

  • Julie on July 31, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    Sam, He did actually inevnt the carrom ball, Iverson's was almost the exact same but it actually spun, so it couldn't have been the carrom ball. He also never called it the carrom ball, he gave it no name at all. Mendis named it, thusly inevnting the carrom ball the same way saqlain had inevnted the doosra that had been bowled in the 60s by an Australian reserve batsman.

  • srini on July 31, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    My father mentioned he saw GRV's 97 live (and I am burning with jealousy even though I wasn't born then) but that got me thinking about batsman vs bowler as in terrific batting against a fearsome bowling individually. GRV's 97 vs Roberts 7-fer, Sachin's 136 vs Saqlain's 5-fer or something of that sort. Maybe u can set a higher standard. Sorry if it seems very vague or if you've done it before.

  • Eri on July 31, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Height is one of the most imortant faoctrs. Malinga is short but you have forgotten the fact that he is a slinger and height is an independent factor when it comes to Malinga's actionYou got to have both, strength and height otherwise you will do nothing on pace oriented bouncy wickets. Curtley Ambrose lost miles of pace at the end of his career but he was still unplayable. It's coz of the bounce generated by height. I'm sick of seeing 5'8 skinny bowlers form SL. Nuwan Kulasekara has been the worst bowler in the world during the last 18 months statistically. You got to be one of the following1. Strong with a slinging action in this case height doesn't matter being short is alright2. Tall to extract bounce3. If you got neither, got to be able to move the ball bothways as stock deliveries (VAAS) (+1)

  • Ranga on July 31, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    @ Sudhir: I remember Ananth churning out an excellent analysis on series efforts of allrounders. Which I think would be an excellent precursor to the article on allrounders, which would come after, as Ananth mentioned, bowling and batting articles. In case you missed it, please look into the archives. That was one article I enjoyed as it quantified how allrounders clicked in both batting and bowling in the same series. Not so surprising entries but quite a few surprising absences, made it an intriguing piece.

    @ Ananth: You have done an extensive series on batting and bowling if I am not wrong, twice each, in the recent 15 months. Have we not covered every aspect - Like the quality of attack faced, nature of pitch, match conditions, etc? In addition to those, you also did an article on centuries and 5-fers. Don't too many similar articles too very soon sound repititive? I agree that they are all on different parameters, but I find all those articles having some common link. [[ You are talking of 15 months. I am looking at possible repetitions within 6 months. What do I do. Two-thirds of my articles are related to Tests and that now means about 15 a year. Previously it was more. There is batting, bowling, teams. So there are bound to be repetitions. Short of making a frequency of a month for each article, this is bound to happen. Frankly I think it is a miracle that I seem to get new ideas, many contributed by readers, to come out with new themes: albeit related but at least covering new ground. A career half or third analysis is something new. However many readers, irrespective of the article, take a single theme, be it McGrath vs Ambrose, Warne vs Murali, Marshall vs the rest, Richards vs Lara vs SRT etc and run it down to earth. The problem is whatever I do you see the same players. Ananth: ]]

  • sudhir on July 30, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    Hi Ananth. Regarding the future you have mentioned in the previous comment..what will you do for all rounders..like will u seperate their best batting "X" years and best bowling "X" years?? because both best years may not coincide for an all rounder let us get the batting/bowling going and then work on the all-rounders.

  • Ram on July 29, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Batsmen/Bowlers have lean/mean patches. Longevity is one factor for evaluating them, but I agree with the comment that players are better compared against each other on the basis of their best "x" years, in succession, and also "x" best years taken throughout their career (x=10 is a good sample size that can coverup injuries, loss of form etc, and a slightly lesser value of x for fast bowlers who have relatively smaller careers).

    Most players take some time to make it on the big stage and towards the end also their stats often take a beating as age begins to take its toll. By taking off these periods ( first three years and last two-three years) we would be comparing their "peak" years when they were at the peak of their abilities. The best batsmen may be expected to average 65+ and the best bowlers come under 20.

    Alternatively, best 50 tests and best 100 tests ( in succession and otherwise) may be alternate ways to compare great players. [[ Sarosh's idea is an excellent one and, properly conceived and implemented, can become a landmark analysis. However there is a lot of tough work ahead. I would determine for each player their best decade in batting and bowling exactly to the day. This is not very difficult to do especially as I have the 200-Test data segment available. It is just a single program. However I am going to give a third of the weight for the peer comparison and I want this peer period to be exactly matching, that means special for each player and different for batting and bowling. The only way I can do this is by creating for each of the 2000+ tests the exact 10-year-ahead batting/bowling data. Now I do not even have a container for this data and have to create one. So I am looking at this to come out during first week of September. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on July 28, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    Ananth : An off topic Question: How do you decide its time for a new Article to be posted? When the comments sections slows down or whenever a new Article is up and ready? #TongueInCheek [[ Dinesh A very valid question and I wonder why no one has asked this so far. I had started with 4 articles a month but stabilized at 3 per month over the past three years. However I found that I was finding it difficult to manage this workload (and other work) because of my multiple hand-wrist-shoulder related problems. The trend in an article is a slow start, move up and settle down and then a lull. This normally takes 10 days since normally my articles are long and multi-topic ones as compared to other articles which normally cover a single topic. When I was doing 3 per month, by the time this period of lull settled in, the next article would kick in and I almost had no respite or rest. Now with my settling at 2 articles a month I have these 5 days of rest for the tired limbs, as will be there until Wednesday when my next article is scheduled. Of course it happens once in a blue moon that I might send an article and another one would be ready for publication as happened with Ric Finlay's article 10 days back. I then ask Cricinfo to publish the other one and wait for most of the comments to be received. Anyhow since I have done over 80% of the articles in "It Figures" so far, this does not happen often. Thanks for the question. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on July 27, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    @Boll. Its not only a case of home and away. Its about performing in a variety of conditions, and in the territory of the number one team of that era (atleast for the last 8 years of Lillie's career, windies were at top). As i said, if u look at Imran & Marshal's stats, u will get a better idea of what i am trying to say. Even Hadlee & Wasim had a great record. Anyways as Ananth said,this line is now closed, so lets close this topic. Ananth, i am surprised that vaas name is there but no Javagal Srinath in any of the tables.He played in an era when pithches in India were made totally for Kumble. I remember at times Srinath used to share the new ball with a spinner, and some times with ganguly. His performance vs SA at ahmedabad in 1996 and at calcutta in 1999 vs Pak, still comes to memory. [[ Why do you say that Srinath is not there. His tally of 236 career wickets, 100+ home and 100+ away wickets does not get him into the main tables in the article. But he is very much there in the 41st position in all the Excel tables. And he was right there in the main article in the Career halves article. Ananth: ]] Probably when u will do a decade wise analysis, his name would be there.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 27, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    Have been travelling for a few days. Just logged in and was shocked to see the chain of responses to my initial comment on Ambrose. It is difficult to scroll on an iPad. So rather than going back, will just restate the essence - No visiting bowler has had the same impact on such a top class batting line up as Ambrose had on Australia in 1992-93 and (only in the 3rd and 5th tests) in 1996-97. His overall record IN Australia is better than that of ANY other bowler if adjusted for batting quality.

    In 1988-91 he had good support and at times was not even the lead bowler. In 1998-99 he was medium pace - you can imagine if at 37 years of age, prevented from retiring by Lara's persuasions, hooked for six by even Colin Miller (and in the same year by Jonty Rhodes), what an insult to a magnificent bowler it is to included his twilight years, ignore the decline in WI batting etc. In 1994, he was rushed back into the team for the PoS test after a shoulder operation. Now look at S Waugh scores.

  • Alex on July 27, 2012, 3:06 GMT

    @Ananth: Pl let me note that Ravi ignores batting support. Bowling avg:

    WI (June '79 - June '92): Marshall (20), Garner (21), Holding (24), Walsh (25), Ambrose (22), Patto (30), Croft (25), Roberts (28), Bishop (21), Harper (28), Benjamin (22).

    Oz (June '99 - June '07): Warne (25), McGrath (21), Lee (32), Gillespie (27), McGill (29), Kaspro (32), Bichel (28), Miller (24), S Clark (18!!), Fleming (25).

    Don't let avg fool you: both have _exactly_ 10 bowlers with SR<60. Plus Oz batsmen were incredible: 8 had avg>48 and 12 had avg>38 while WI had this: Haynes (41), Viv (48), Greenidge (44), Richardson (47), Dujon (32), Lloyd (52), Gomes (41), Logie (36), Hooper (28). And yet:

    Marshall: 78 tests, 373 wkt, avg=20, (22 5-wkt, 2 10-wkt) Warne: 74 tests, 391 wkt, avg = 25, (23 5-wkt, 2 10-wkt) McGrath: 75 tests, 331 wkt, avg= 21, (14(!!) 5-wkt, 2 10-wkt) Ambrose: 34 tests, 148 wkt, avg=22, (6 5-wkt, 1 10-wkt)

    My suggestion? Choose these 4 in your dream team!!

  • Ravi M on July 26, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Ananth: McGrath had 3 from a more BALANCED support from three world class (Warne/Lee/Gillespies) and tow top-quality (MacGill/Kaspro) bowlers.

    ----

    Over Ambrose’s career span, 3 more West Indians (min 100 wkts) averaged <25!

    Marshall 19.7, Ambrose 21.0, Bishop 24.3 & Walsh 24.7

    What about McGrath’s career span? Not a single sub-25!

    2nd best: Warne’s 25.1 to McGrath’s 21.6 (i.e. 16% ‘worse’). Gillespie 26.1, MacGill 27.2, Lee 31.6 & Kasper 32.9

    Anyway, as you said, these don’t get us anywhere. Not arguing over who is better. Merely stating that McGrath’s support wasn’t as great as many mentioned.

    Warne was a treasure to have for a TEAM; but McGrath still didn’t have a consistently good new ball partner THROUGHOUT.

    For a team’s chances, a great pacer & a great spinner are perhaps better than two great pacers. But, for a great paceman’s stats, another great paceman would be handier than a great spinner. I can expand on that; but it’s obvious.

    It’s a team sport anyway! Over n Out! [[ One final point. We have already seen that having 4 equally great bowlers could be counter-productive for the bowlers: probably not for the team. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 26, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    @Dr.Talha/Ananth. Having strayed from the topic a little already, I am determined to respect the wishes of the author and STAY ON TARGET!

    Dr.Talha`s comments on home vs away figures are interesting though. Of the top 29 wicket-takers, only 5 (Warne, McGrath, Ambrose, Vettori, and Zaheer) have a better away then home average. 3 of these are all-time greats, but really only Zaheer has a lot better record (more than 5 runs per wicket!) away. This is understandable. When you are bowling at home you are in, if not your favourite conditions, conditions with which you are most familiar, bowling to batsmen in conditions with which they are less familiar - home crowds/dare I mention umpiring(?) have probably also had an impact.

    However, a few others (all greats) have very similar (less than 1 run/wicket difference ) averages home/away - Hadlee, Akram and Lillee.

    In terms of all-time greatness I think this is an important measure. Players such as Kumble/Bhajji struggle a little here. [[ And let us accept one thing: The least a bowler is expected to do is to do well in home conditions. There is nothing wrong in that. And McGrath/Ambrose/Warne have excellent figures at home and still better figures away. So they are the exceptional bowlers. This does nt mean that the others are not good or have not performed well. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. Talha on July 26, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    @Boll. Brother i stick to my comment that "Lillie is an over-rated bowler". The stats that you have provided looks good, BUT, this is only one side of the picture. Just by taking wickets at home ground (231 out of 355 wkts) and engalnd (96 wkts) u cannot qualify for an all time world X1. Mr. Lillie never toured india (the real test for fast bowlers), played just one test in Windies(the best team of that era), performed poorly in pak and Sri. His 327 wkts out of 355 are in Aus & Eng, the remaining in NZL. If taking wickets all over the world & in all conditions is not the criteria for greatness than why do people criticise indian spinners for being lethal at home and pathetic abroad. If lillie qualifies than why not Kumble, who was also devastating at home. In his presence no team managed to win a series in Ind throughout 1990's. He won more matches than lillie at home. Take a close look at Marshal & Imran, even Hadlee's record,to have a better idea of Gr8 overall performance. [[ This line is now closed. Enough Lillee-bashing has been done. Boll & others: I suggest you do not respond. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on July 26, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    The simplest reason for it is that SA bowler's require less assistance from the pitch than England bowlers

    Offtopic. But Sarosh - Let's not jump to conclusions based on one match. All great bowlers get plastered on flat wickets by good batsmen once in a while. English bowlers no exception.

    If Cook and Bell had seen off the 2nd new ball on the 2nd day and gone on to post 600, it might've been a different story. Who knows...England might've been the vanquisher and SA batsmen might've crumbled under scoreboard pressure! [[ Yes, I agree. At close on first day I was looking at 500 and 50 for 2. The shoe would have been on the other foot, then. The 637 for 2 is as much of a bizarre oddity as 21 for 9 was. Ananth: ]] The margins are very thin in international cricket.

    BTW, to my mind McGrath is the real standout in this analysis. I know Marshall has great figures against all teams. But McGrath generally bowled in a more batsman-friendly age against better batsmen (a simple test would be - the mean career batting average of all batsmen between 1994-2007 is a couple of notches higher than the mean career batting avg of all batsmen between 1979-1991)

  • Alex on July 26, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    @Ananth: Much like almost all Top 7 batsmen's 2nd innings avg is poorer than their 1st innings avg, the 1st innings avg of almost all Top 3 bowlers is poorer than their 2nd innings avg. Now, in most cases, the sum total of 1st innings wkt = 10 whereas that for the 2nd can be anywhere from 0 to 10. So, can you pl compute the # wkts and avg for bowlers assuming their team bowled out the opponents in both innings? You can do it as follows. Let,

    N1= fraction of 2nd innings wkt taken by a bowler for his team over his career. N2= average # wkts per 2nd innings taken by his team over his career. M1= bowler's 1st inn avg; M2= bowler's 2nd inn avg.

    Then,

    A= revised # wkts = 1st inn wkts + 10*(N1/N2). B= revised # runs given away = 1st inn runs + A*M2. revised avg = A/B.

    This brings bowlers in a poor team on level with the bowlers in a strong team when it comes to wkt taking opportunities (since 2nd innings wkts are almost ruled out for bowlers in a really poor team). [[ Alex I am not convinced about this. Which is a poor team. Sri Lanka or New Zealand. No way. They might be relatively of lower strengths. That is all. What you say may be applicable for Zim/Bng. But no one is looking at them. Too much work for nebuluous benefits. And many assumptions. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram on July 26, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    If I look at the first innings vs. second innings avg. of these top bowlers, there isn't a lot of difference (and gets evened out across those who do well in one or the other). Does it mean that the runs scored in either innings are equally valuble? Sounds counter-intuitive. Any comments. Very interesting to see that the Indian spin bowlers (Kumble/Bhaji) find SA difficult (below career avg) while Murali/Warne have done better than career avg against them. [[ Your comment made me realize that I have done the weighted average (sumprocuct in Excel) only for the countries and not for Home/Away/1st/2nd inns. I will do that and post within minutes. You can then get a handle on the true wicket value for these important splits. Ananth: ]] Finally Willis vs. Anderson (carryiong on from discussion in last thread): they have both not done well against the best team of their generation. Career stats, Willis is better than Anderson. Lastly, interesting to see Murali's stats against WI despite Lara's herculean last series. Both come out on top, what greats both!! [[ I have since posted the Excel sheet with the Weighted averages for Home/Away/1st Inns/2nd Inns. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram on July 26, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    Was away on a holiday, so missed participating in this excellent analysis from the start. @ Anath; great work as usual. I believe that the stats for these great bowlers are so close that it then boils down to bringing those "highlight reels". For me, Warne was never the stand-out bowler of 90s because of his performance against India. I would look at Ambrose/Donald/Waqar/Wasim/McGrath, and that's because of their highlight reels. I intuitively ignored Ambrose's peformance against India as he played against us very rarely. Kapil not being in the top-30 bowlers? I won't argue it but given that he carried our bowling hopes between 80-87, I definitely rank him there. See peer perf analysis. Vaas: Murali being the strike bowler for SL, Vaas was used to control runs from the other end, which affected his overall stats. @Anath: Last off-topic comment from me, more as a response to all the comments here.

  • Alex on July 26, 2012, 1:23 GMT

    @Ananth: A thousand apologies to you for responding to Ravi now. But this comment is somewhat relevant to the article.

    @Ravi:

    1. There isn't much to separate between McGrath & Ambrose anyway (in tests). It is really a matter of personal preference.

    2. In addition, a bowler's stats depend on pitch condition, opposition batsmen, & support from team-mates (bowlers+fielders+batsmen). McGrath clearly had a superior team support and was bowling to WI batsmen who were a inferior to their Oz counterparts. That explains his superior stats in the Worrell trophy. [[ Why the Worrell Terophy. I have also been trying to get the discussion off one contest to across countries/series. Ananth: ]] 3. Ambrose loses out on # wkts/test because Oz won many tests with an innings or 8 wkts to spare. So, he didn't have as many opportunities to pick the 2nd innings wkts: note the difference in his # wkts/test in '94 series, '96 series, and '99 series. Ananth's tables show that almost all strike bowlers perform better in 2nd innings than in 1st. Over '94-'99, Ambrose lost out a bit on those pickings in the Worrell trophy.

  • Nitin Gautam on July 25, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    @ Anantha ambrose's was against India, that too at home: 38.3, albeit 15 wkts. completely agree but one thing here Ambrose's fading years met with consolidating year of Indian batting kings (sachin & dravid)& thats the reason for such numbers whereas Mcgraw was raw, unknown, & ridiculously good. Although if I have to chose the bowlers I have seen, I would choose mcgrae, Akram, donald, Saqlain in ODIs with murli replacing saqlain in tests..anyday & anytime...I dont think any other bowler brought much vaunted Indian batting lineup to the knees as much as they brought. it was a frightful sight to see indian batsman facing donald, ambrose & more often than not they were collared like anything by them. Akram for all his lack of top order wickets, was a sight to behold & no one, probably including all th cream de la cream, none was able to produce magical deliveries as he did that so often. [[ Your last comment was unnecessary and out of place and has been edited out. This is a bowler-specific article not innings-specific one. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 25, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    Sarosh,

    Very manipulative to change my filter! I used 95 Jan to 99 Dec; not 94 onwards! As I said, Ambrose averaged 18.x in his last 3 calender years; and one can't say the same about McGrath before 95 tour of WI!

    Anyway, here are the stats for Jan 95 to Dec 99 against other countries:

    McGrath 174 wickets in 37 Tests (4.7 wpm) at an ave of 22.56 & SR of 51.1

    Ambrose, 99 in 28 (3.5 wpm) @ 21.44 & SR of 54.1

    If I really go from tour of WI 95 to 99 against rest:

    McGrath 134 in 27 @ 22.05 & SR of 49.7 Ambrose 94 in 26 @ 21.38 & SR of 53.3

    Hard to separate!

    Interestingly, in 12 head-to-head, McGrath dismissed Ambrose 6 times; but only got out to Curtly thrice.

    I don't think any pace bowler in history had such consistent PACE SUPPORT throughout his career like Curtly did. Walsh was there 95 times out of 98! Does anyone really need more? Bishop about 40 times & Marshall 30! [[ McGrath had 3 from a more BALANCED support from three world class (Warne/Lee/Gillespies) and tow top-quality (MacGill/Kaspro) bowlers. Ananth: ]] Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 25, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    Sarosh,

    If we were talking about any bowler in the history other than McGrath, I’d say that you were right about us “drawing incorrect conclusions”. With McGrath, the quality of wickets was never really an issue.

    Can’t quite say the same about Ambrose though. Curtly was as good as they get in most aspects; but, most batsmen (with decent technique) who were good against short balls (i.e. either hooking effortlessly or leaving with comfort) often handled Ambrose very very well. The list is long with Vengsarkar (given Marshall let him off LOL) to Inzi/Tendlya to Ponting/Kallis.

    It was one thing that, IMO, placed almost every other great bowler a notch below M & M.

    Anyway, at the end of the day, Ambrose wouldn’t have saved WI from that Adelaide loss in 96/97! Pointless to continue if somebody really believes otherwise.

    PS: I said ONLY Ponting handled McGrath well; not the other Aussies. [[ McGrath's lowest performance is against SA at 27.3. Ambrose's was against India, that too at home: 38.3, albeit 15 wkts. Both have the same average away: 20.8. Ambrose is better at home with 21.2 (despite India 1t 38.3) as against 22.5. McGath is slightly better in Wkt Quality, 31.09 vs 30.24. What does one say. Tough to get the two out of anyone's top-10. To argue for one over other is like trying to find fault for the sake of doing so. Ananth: ]] Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on July 25, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Ananth,

    I think Quality bowlers are worth a lot more than brilliant batsman. I would anyday pick a bowling unit of 4 quality bowlers over 6 brilliant bastmen (one or two average batsmen in a batting lineup will not matter that much but one average bowler in a bowling unit considerably reduces the chance of a win for the team)

    Throughout their history, India's only Achilles heel has been their lack of a quality bowling unit. Instead of doing an analysis on bowling pairs why don't you do full article on best bowling units of alltime ? (test and odi separately). No need to do an article on best batting lineups. [[ Arjun I have done this as recently as Feb 2011. The link is given below. http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/itfigures/archives/2011/02/ The top 6 bowling teams were 1. West Indies: 49.89 (MtId: 1158-1990) Marshall, Bishop, Ambrose, Walsh C.A 2. Australia: 49.85 (MtId: 0373-1953) Lindwall, Miller, Johnston, Davidson 3. West Indies: 49.53 (MtId: 1068-1987) Marshall, Garner, Holding, Walsh 4. England: 48.48 (MtId: 0434-1956) Tyson, Laker, Wardle, Statham 5. West Indies: 47.91 (MtId: 0901-1981) Garner, Croft., Roberts, Holding 6. Australia: 47.87 (MtId: 1731-2005) McGrath, Gillespies, Warne, MacGill. Ananth: ]]

  • srini on July 25, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    this again seems very intuitive. spinners have nearly 50% their wickets in the 2nd innings where as fast bowlers have almost 60% of their wickets in the 1st innings. again having to do with the bowling conditions. fresh pitch hard ball for the fast men and deteriorating wickets soft ball for the turners. murali and vettori being exceptions to the rule.

    another interesting almost all bowlers have better (mostly much better) 2nd innings average than 1st innings average (even kallis 38 to 26). i kinda expect at least the fast bowlers to have better 1st innings averages. guess a deteriorating pitch helps both kinds of bowlers. vettori again is the exception here 32 to 38!!!! [[ Vettori moves from 32.7 to 36.6: agree there is a drop. Quite surprising is Benaud's drop from 25.6 to 29.0. Walsh has almost spinner type of move up from 28.5 to 19.7. Ananth: ]]

  • Sarosh on July 25, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    Ananth, The T10 average yielding 103 has a right feel.

    Ananth,Ravi M, Alex, Couldn't resist a comment on the WI bowlers matter since it is a clear case of drawing incorrect conclusions from selectively chosen stats. Ravi M uses only stats from the F.Worrel trophy from 1994-2000 and then comes to the conclusion that Mcgrath outbowled Ambrose in general !;Mcgrath took WI wickets, Ambrose took Aus wickets. How can we directly compare ? Ravi M himself mentioned how easily the Aus batsmen inc.Ponting faced Mgrath.

    For eg. If we exclude WI and Aus from the period 1994-2000, we get an avg. of 21.1 for Ambrose and 24.1 for Mcgrath. Clearly the relatively easy WI scalps for Mcgrath compared with the tougher Aus wickets for Ambrose tilted the stats.

  • Waspsting on July 25, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Re: Ambrose vs McGrath, in matches they played together -

    two series' in WI McGrath 47 wickets @18.66, S.R 40.96 Ambrose 32 wickets @21.28, S.R 53.34

    one series in Aus McGrath 26 wickets @17.42, S.R 46.35 Ambrose 19 wickets @23.37, S.R 50.79

    Suspect Ambrose had the more uphill task. He was opening to Slater, Hayden, Langer, Taylor. McGrath was opening to Campbell and Stuart Williams.

    Still, I think McGrath did considerably better. He had 30 wickets in the drawn series, with Lara scoring tons of runs.

    Note how McGrath worked Lara out. by contrast, Ambrose was content to stay his usual, back off a lenght self to the ever back going Steve Waugh - who scored a lot of runs in these matches too.

    That's the biggest difference between the two. Ambrose (i think) had more ability - zip off the pitch, seam movement, bounce. In his youth, he was faster and bowled better bouncers and yorkers too.

    McGrath was just MUCH smarter. knew how to adjust to different players better than anyone

  • srini on July 25, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    one of the most underrated aspects of CEL Ambrose is that he conceded more than 100 runs exactly once in 179 innings. Which innings you ask? It was the first ever innings he bowled in his test career. After his debut he went 178 innings without conceding 100 runs (lowering the bar to nineties the no is still only 8 including the 100).

    I think in an All time XI you could go with just Amby Marshall and Garner and 8 batsmen. I expect them not to lose 9 times out of 10. [[ Can you relate these great bowlers to the current article. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on July 25, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    Sarosh/Dinesh/Ranga: Slightly off-topic but important because of its relevance. What sort of a pitch was Oval. I had mentioned earlier it is neither 300+ nor 30+ and somehere in between. I have given below six Tests which have been played in the last 12 months. E: 385 & 240. S: 637/2 (T10-103.4) I: 191 & 400. A: 659/4 (103.7) B: 135 & 275. P: 594/5 (78.6) I: 631/7. W: 153 & 463 (93.1) E: 591/6. I: 300 & 283 (92.5) I: 224 & 244. E: 710/7 (87.0). These are all similar matches. Two low-to-middling scores and one huge score. The T10 average seems to take care of the situation very well and allows us to separate these from match 1374 (537/8 & 952/6 one) which had a T10-avge of 132 or match 1750 (588/6 & 127/1 vs 747) which had a T10 avge of 130. Big difference between 130 and 100.

  • dinesh on July 24, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Ananth:

    Both Richards and Lara were forced out but in entirely different circumstances. Richards was on the wane i think WI board unintentionally did him/his Legacy some good by forcing him out as he was as every one knows not the same batsman in 1991 as he was 5-6 yrs before and it would have been painful for us to see him if not struggle lets say(out of respect) work hard and still not succeed against lesser players.SO in a WI board did him a great favour.

    Coming to Lara: his problems with the administration are well documented.Everyone knows he was forced out when he still had a good 2years left in him. But i have a small feeling about lara being forced. WI board has always struggled to find decent paying sponsors.So why would they force their biggest Box office star to retire and struggle to make money.This is one of the hidden truths that we may never know. [[ Dinesh As I have mentioned to Alex, let us get back to the current article. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 24, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    @Ravi: Great URL.

    1. We can concede that an over-the-hill Ambrose could not match a young & fit McGrath during 1994-2000. He had a major injury in 1994 at age 31. After 1996, he recovered well but the heydays were over. McGrath's rise coincided with the rise of Aussie talent to an all-time high and the decline of WI talent into mediocrity.

    2. Over '94-'99, the batsmen avg (with >3 tests): S Waugh (60), Bevan (55), Lara (52), Ponting (39), Chander (38), M Waugh (35), Hooper (33), Richardson (33), Blewett (33). So, clearly, Lara was the second-best and not far ahead of the rest either.

    3. What kept WI in play was not just Lara's brilliance but also the collective efforts of Walsh, Ambrose, & injury-plagued Bishop as well. After these 3 were gone, no matter what Lara did, WI could never challenge Oz, or any strong team, again. [[ Not a bad idea to let the West Indians go and move back to the current article. Only Wasp is stinging well. Let us use the next few days to see whether any further insights can be drawn. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 24, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    When McGrath & big Curtly came up against each other, McGrath came on top every time at the end of the series. Curtly was 6 or 7 years older; but considering he averaged 18.3 in his last 3 calender years, I doubt the age was ever an issue.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=wickets;spanmax1=31+dec+1999;spanmin1=01+jan+1995;spanval1=span;template=results;trophy=3;type=bowling

    So, why don’t we just concede that McGrath – the Aussie pace spearhead out-bowled Ambrose time and again. And, the only thing that kept WI in play was Lara’s brilliance – even against in-form McGrath. I’ll refrain from batting stats as we’re asked to stick to bowling here.

    As Boll & Ananth clearly outlined, Ambrose couldn’t have done anything to save that Adelaide Test given that their batsmen were bundled out for low totals in both innings.

  • Ravi M on July 24, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    Gerry_the_merry: [i]my point was merely that West Indies was a 1 man team, and that one man was Ambrose. No one else - Walsh/Bishop/Lara/Hooper - mattered.[/i]

    That's funny because here are the stats from the 3 series (1995-99) involving both McGrath & Ambrose:

    Only 4 bowlers had 30+ wickets.

    McGrath: 13 Tests, 73 wkts @ 18.2 (SR 42.8) Walsh: 13, 65 @ 24.1 (50.6) Curtly: 12, 51 @ 22.1 (52.3) Warne: 12, 39 @ 32.5 (67.5)

    I mean if Walsh was "nobody", then what was Warne during Frank Worrell Trophy then?

    If there ever was a "one-man" argument, until probably Gilly's debut & Ponting moving to #3, Lara was pretty much more than the sum of Australian top 7 (minus Tugga) plus WI top 7!!!! LOL

    Exaggeration; yes. But, still more acceptable one than calling Ambrose as an exception when Walsh performed just as well; and McGrath much better.

  • Sarosh on July 24, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    Waspsting, "Entertainment value" is undoubtedly a huge factor in evaluating players and the memory value they have. This is undeniable. Entertainment + performance = Superstar. Performance alone = Star Wasim was a bowling genius and watching him bamboozle and harry the best of them was a sight to behold. Sheer left-handed genius; the bowling equivalent of Lara. Unpredictable but when on it was sheer wizardry. Perhaps Lara saw himself in Wasim. Problem is the superstars sometimes get caught in a web of public pressure wherein the public loves to see them so much that they lose sight of an ideal retirement date. Richards was actually game to go on- The WI board had to literally force him out. If not he would have gone on and on doing his legacy and stats no good. [[ Good points. Both Richards and Lara were forced out. Ananth: ]]

    Ananth, I feel the pitch in the Eng-SA match was a complete featherbed. We must certainly not undervalue Amla's innings but we risk overvaluing it if we factor in the England batsmen's performance. The simplest reason for it is that SA bowler's require less assistance from the pitch than England bowlers do [[ Sarosh, Subjective terms like featherbed and flat do not mean a thing. What is essential are proper numbers. The extreme values for the Oval Test taking each team separately are 318 and 31.3. The combined value for the Test is 57.4. Now 57.4 indicates a very good batting track by my recent definition and can be used with no guilt feeling either way. The REAL flat featherbed is match no 1374. 537/8 followed by 952/6 leading to 106.4. Please do not say that both are featherbeds. They are not. One match would not have produced a result in 10 days. The other one DID produce a result in less than 5 days. Of course the T7 averages would be different but comparable. In these matters one should stay away from subjective personal views and get into objective provable and sustainable methods. I think any pitch in which one team has taken 20 wickets of a very good team for 620 runs can never be called an out-and-out batting wicket. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 24, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    To take it right back to 1990/91 in WI when the Aussies started to believe they could beat the great WI team (facing Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh), Mark Taylor scored 441 runs at 49, M.Waugh 367 runs at 61. Marshall (21 at 21), Patterson (18 at 23), Walsh (17 at 25) and Ambrose (18 at 27) shared the wickets. Richardson scored 475 runs at 68.

    In 1992/3, Boon scored 490 at 61, Lara 466 at 58, and Bishop took 23 wickets at 21.

    In 1994/5, S.Waugh scored 429 at 108, Walsh took 20 wickets to Ambrose`s 13.

    In 1996/7, Hooper, Healy and M.Waugh scored over 350 runs, Bishop took 20 wickets at 26, Walsh(@31) and Ambrose (@23) took 19.

    In the drawn series of 1998/99, the only series WI haven`t lost to Aus in 20 years, S.Waugh scored 409 @58, Walsh took 26 @21 (most wickets and best average) and Lara played 2 of the greatest innings of all-time to almost single-handedly win the series.

    Far from a one-man team, far from a complete decimation of the opposition, despite Ambrose.

  • Boll on July 24, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    @Gerry. I`m sorry that a post/s I wrote immediately prior to my July 22nd, 9.18am offering (see above) somehow got lost in the ether. Perhaps in my hurry to keep writing I didn`t successfully post them, but in their absence it sounded a little as if I`d jumped all over your comments re.Ambrose without giving them their due.

    To the contrary. Ambrose was immense - fast, determined, skillful, very intimidating, and (with apologies to numerous others) at his best, probably the best fast bowler I`ve seen.

    However, I think you do the Australian team of his era a disservice by claiming it was all one-way traffic, and certainly his teammates (Walsh, Bishop, Lara et al.) by claiming that the Windies were `a 1-man team` and that `no-one else mattered`.

  • dale on July 23, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    @Ravi M - It was during that 1960-61 tour Worrell first decided to use Sobers as a front line bowler. Sobers bowled unchanged for 41 eight ball overs during Australia's first inning in the fifth test. He bowled spin and pace as the situation warranted and ended up taking 5-120 off 44 overs. He was not the best bowler on his team but his value as a stock bowler is evidenced by the amount of bowling he did - averaging 23 overs per inning.

  • Waspsting on July 23, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Curious to see where Lindwall fits in.

    He did it all. main wicket taking ball was outswinger to take edge, but had a huge proportion of bowled dismissals (that might based on yorkers rather than straight balls, though)

    (Ananth - consider these last couple of posts my apology for writing about anything other than the beautiful analysis you've worked so hard to put together, as I sit here, contemplating who the WORST world number 1 team ever is - Eng or Ind. Probably harder to answer than who the best is - Aus 00s or WI mid80s) [[ You deserve my totally worthless autographs for getting the comments back on track. I hope the others take it up and leave Wasim in peace. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 23, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Some thoughts on 1st vs 2nd innings stats -Finally we see some difference between Ambrose, Garner, McGrath. I'd put down Ambrose 2nd superiority to his making the batsman play every ball - variations in bounce making that more effective in 2nd innings. -Most even guy, Imran. reliance on swing more than pitch conditions at work (?)(how do Wasim and Waqar fare?) - Murali's closeness over two innings relative to Warne a point in his favor, between those guys [[ rali's first innings performances are legendary. Ananth: ]]U Ananth: ]] - Barnes figures suggests he was a swing/cut bowler rather than a swerve/spin one (no one seems sure about that one) - Biggest differences 1st>2nd Miller and 2nd>1st Donald. Don't know what to make of that If i had made a prediction, it'd be 2nd>1st would be guys who bowled straight and relied on bounce like Ambrose (hard to account for smart bowlers like Hadlee who would just adjust to conditions for that) for 1st>2nd, would have looked for outswing bowlers who looked for edges (how does Lillee fare?) (cont) [[ Honestly had not seen this comment. Just saw the previous one !!! Thanks again. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 23, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    Some thoughts of the first graph - home and away records.

    - Garner, Ambrose, McGrath about the same. Just as they were in the 2 halves of a career. Beautiful robots, those three.

    - Can see Trueman and Laker inviting fault finding with a much better home record.

    - Barnes' home much better than away little surprising, given his 49 wicket series was away

    - Warne's uniformity compared to Murali's home bias a point in Warne's favor in comparisons between the two [[ Warne is amazing. Marginally better, away. Ananth: ]] - Found Davidson and Miller's opposite patterns curious. Miller, for the most part, was fast medium relying on movement like Davo. Mind you, Aus wickets were pretty curious in those days - there was no such thing as "australian wickets" according to Miller [[ My next article has Miller in a very special place. Ananth: ]] - Would have expected Donald to be more even. He adjusted his lenghts very well according to conditions [[ Finally we are back to the article. Thanks WS. Now I hope someone comments on the completely forgotten First/Second innings numbers. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 23, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    @sri & @Ananth: Modern generation has not seen the Bradman bat, or even the Black Bradman, but has had a chance to witness the fascinating journey of the "Reverse Bradman", i.e., Chris Martin. Thankfully, many pay lasting tributes to him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_NsFh-Z4aE .

    I think Alf Hall is a discovery. Almost everyone on the Internet has missed out on him. He played only 8 test innings but 100+ FC matches. Since his FC avg is lower than Martin's, he might have averaged lower than Martin in tests also even after playing 100+ test innings. Still, Martin's case is very strong: batsmen friendly 2000's, covered wkts, & protective gear. [[ Hall would have to have played Test cricket for about 50 years to accumulate 100 innings. Ananth: ]] Incidentally, the "Ineffective Batsmen" section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_first-class_cricket_records unearths Francis McHugh with the lowest known FC avg=2.63. He is outstanding: Martin's highest FC score is 25, Hall's is 22, and McHugh's is 18. McHugh never played a test though.

  • Waspsting on July 23, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    was looking at stats for the '90s. Almost nothing between the top guys

    Ambrose 309 @ 20.14 Wasim 289 @ 21.45 Donald 284 @ 21.83 Waqar 273 @ 21.71 McGrath 266 @ 22.87 Pollock 161 @ 20.45

    (Suspect McGrath suffers the most by the cut off, as he did much of his best work in the decade after. Pollock played a lot then, too though his stats for the period are better than his overall).

    Ambrose reigns - best average, most wickets.

    Strike Rates -

    Waqar 40.9 Donald 45.7 Wasim 48.9 Ambrose 52.2 McGrath 52.4 Pollock 52.6

    (as ever, Waqar head and shoulders above the rest, Donald probably close to significantly better than the bottom three. Akram smack in the middle of the hot strike two and the wear-'em-down bottom 3)

    List is almost reversed for E.R (relatively unimportant for test cricket, IMO), Akram again smack in the middle of the two groups.

    Maybe that's the key to his big rep: Balance between the nagging style (Ambrose, McGrath, Pollock) and blasting style (Waqar and Donald). [[ Excellent observation. The same difference that exists between a batsman who attacks with caution and accumulates runs at a good pace and all-out attacking and defensive batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on July 23, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    Ananth:

    Have a request. I havent seen any article from you on Wicket keepers. I dint dig into archives.But in the last 2 years or so from when i started following this Blog i dint find an article of keepers. We always have this argument on who is the best keeper of al time.Boucher/Dujon/gilly/Someone else. Can we expect and article on this if not soon may be later after all the current articles you said you will do.And i think its a right time as well given Boucher is retired.I know a tribute to boucher is on the cards but a full article for keepers can do.So that we can draw our conclusions based on that.

    Hope i am not adding any extra work to you [[ Dinesh I did an article on Test wicket-keepers during Oct 2008. You can go back to that archive. However that is too far back and I think a new one is overdue especially as Boucher has retired just now. Wioll put in my list. Ananth: ]]

  • sudhir on July 23, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    Thats great news ananth...THANKS.as far as batting pairs is concerned can u consider a pair of batsman by taking a certain number of runs scored between them as a qualification mark so that u can filter and just check how useful were they in the team wins or some important match saves etc.. [[ In principle your suggestion makes sense. If Sehwag and Laxman together have crossed the set criterion, it really does not matter that they may not have really batted together on the field. That they played in a team might be sufficient. Ananth: ]]

  • sudhir on July 23, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    Hi ananth: STUNNING article but not surprised after seeing some of the previous ones though. But I have one request. Can an article be done taking some great bowling(mcgrath-warne;wasim waqr etc.) and batting pairs(haynes-greenidge,srt-darvid) and comparing among them..and some useful conclusions from them....Please forgive me if I am asking too-much [[ dear Sudhir You guys are the ones who make this blog what it is and you have every right to ask, why even demand, some new analysis. The bowling pair article is on the anvil. It has been done long back but there are lot more insights now. Batting pair is a peculiar facet of batting. What is a pair. Opening pair is the only one that comes in with clarity. But you should go through the archives and look at the batting team strength analysis. Ananyth: ]],/b> Ananth: ]]

  • dinesh on July 23, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    Ananth No way did i undermine Amla's innings. Even if i sound like one,everyone here knows how Eye Pleasing/Outstanding innings it was. Many Said Dravid was the last technically Pure batsman cricket has seen.I would say there is one leftand he Goes by the name of Amla. His cover drive is among the best in the world if not the very best and he is the real wall of SA and not Kallis.

    And to be frank India last year came to england with a mindset that they will lose and at best will draw the lords test and do that amazing turnaround that we normally do. In that they undermined the Well oiled and Prepared to hunt England team. In all this comparing last year's and this series it showed Indian team in very poor light [[ Ranga echoes your thoughts. The score at close today could very well be 367 for 6, shifting this track back to an excellent batting one. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 23, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    Ananth, in the 1996-97 series, it may not be so easy to conclude that with Ambrose in, West Indies would still have lost at Adelaide. In fact, it may well be the opposite conclusion to which facts may point. Look at the one day series. It was not such a high scoring series as modern triangular series in India are. The matches were played on balanced surfaces. West Indies just picked themselves up with Ambrose back, and with Pakistan unearthing two stunning talents (Mohd Wasim, the batsman and Mohd Zahid the paceman, and what a tragedy he disappeared), the Aussies were socked left and right. They did not even make it to the finals. Pakistan won the finals with a brilliant display of fast bowling where Akram made Lara flutter like a leaf in a thunderstorm. So while were will never know what the fate of the Adelaide test would have been, my point was merely that West Indies was a 1 man team, and that one man was Ambrose. No one else - Walsh/Bishop/Lara/Hooper - mattered. [[ However good a player was, and Ambrose was bloody good in 1996-97, to say that he alone could have converted an innings and 183 loss to a possible win is hyperbole. And as Boll says this was a Test which was more the failure of the West Indian batsmen rather than bowlers. 330 runs in two innings ??? Anyhow Ambrose did not play. Let us not waste any more time on events which di not happen. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on July 23, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Truman was asked whether his record of 300 wickets will ever be broken. His famous reply was: "Aye, but whoever does it will be bloody tired".

    A decent test innings will have a ball change and a good test of batting and bowling skills should last 350+ overs.   Conditions should not overwhelming favour bowlers. A wicket can be earned or thrown but just 3-4 wickets on the first day and no more than a brace for main strike bowler indicates a fair contest. 

    Truman achieved his 4 minute mile without a packed calendar and fewer test playing countries. Plenty of changes since. 350, 400, 500, 600, 700 and now 800. A Harmonic series does not converge and Records are broken. 

    I prefer not to compare performances across different playing conditions.  Jan 1st need not play a significant role in assessing partial careers. A 'decade' may last 7 years or 22 as long as significant number of tests are included. [[ Mlind I liked Sarosh's decade as the unit of analysis for its elegant simplicity. Going by number of Tests is more fraught with uncertainties since the number of years might vary a lot over the periods. At the end of the day 10 years is long enough time to have a clear handle on how a player performed. There is lot of work before that. Let us see. If nothing else, it will let us see the best periods of all players in one place to study, if not compare. Anantih: ]] Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on July 23, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Re: "And look at the declaration. No one spoke about the double century. I think they would have declared if Kallis had been 191 no at tea" - And there is no noise in the press box condemning Smith's ulterior motives to deny Kallis his record. There wouldnt be either, even if the match ends in a draw or even if Poms win. I dont count Poms out either. They can still wriggle out with Bell, Prior and Bresnan battling it out and setting Poms a dicey target, bowl them out during their chase. Well, I feel we need to revert to the 5 test 3 ODI (Of the Cornhill/Texaco days). At least for marquee series as these. Imagine a 2-2 scoreline. One of the teams facing fearsome seamers and a talented offspinner/wrist spinner in pursuit of 250 with 8 wkts in hand on day 5 of 5th test for No.1 Spot . . . The only way to revive test cricket is to play them. And play them hard. I think we lost the art of playing test matches coz we dont play any!!!

  • shrikanthk on July 23, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    @sri & @Ananth: I searched "Statsguru" of Cricinfo using "left arm bowler" option in its advanced filter. Much better than relying on memory

    Alex : I did mention Frank Foster in my list. He was the originator of leg-theory. Wilfred Rhodes was a slow left-arm spinner in the Bedi mould. My list was confined to Fast/Fast-medium left arm pacemen.

    Toshack was a left-arm slow-medium pacer (occasional spinner). He was probably around Kumble's pace. Not quite a proper fast-medium bowler and nowhere near Reid in terms of pace. I've seen him bowl. He specialized in bowling negative stuff around leg-stump while Lindwall/Miller warmed up for the 2nd new ball.

    Saunders and Ironmonger again were not fast-medium. The only notable names I missed out on were Mike Whitney, Karsan Ghavri and possibly Whitty. [[ When Karsan Ghavri or Whitney or Toshack comes into the list I think we are diluting the list quite a bit. Let us keep the bar at its usual high levels. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on July 23, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    (cotd)

    The 2011 Indian team was no way inferior to SAF (Man to man, they had even better people). But they werent really hungry to win. They had taken 1st test loss followed by a win which was a trend the "famed TEAM India" was priding itself in. They thought they could wipe of Lord's test loss with an emphatic crushing of England. Like they did @ Durban in 2010. Not to be. Showed that Skill and talents are one thing. Discipline and planning and meticulous implementation are needed. Day 1: Eng on Top with 267/2. SAF didnt let it affect them. They kept bowling tight lines and brought themselves back. It was NOT a capitulation by England. Prior defied. But SAF kept coming at them. And SAF didnt trigger a wicket procession on Day 3 and 4. They held on, even at the expense of giving a few mainden overs and dot balls. Discipline writ all over their efforts. I hope that they dont get complacent with this performance (which they have in the past). I hope test cricket is reinvented thus!! [[ Ranga Both alternatives are great. The 80% chance that South Africa wins by 8 wickets or so just before tea means that their better batting and bowling team has succeeded. The 20% chance that England draws the match means a fightback of immense proportions. Either way test cricket wins. In reaity South Africa, if they win, won it on the first innings. They did not allow the score of 450+ and stuck to their task. And look at the declaration. No one spoke about the double century. I think they would have declared if Kallis had been 191 no at tea. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on July 23, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    Wonderful article. I was really worried if the future of test cricket would be consigned to articles like these which reflect the past. Not till the current monumental (considering the recent times and not an all time term) Oval Test between SAF and Eng. For all the sedate batting, the test, weather permitting, can still throw a result. The hungrier team shall win. Last year, the No.2 beat No.1 because of the inherent faith in themselves that they weren't exactly No.2 . . . Now history might repeat itself, at least as per ICC rankings. Kallis and Amla, at times, were scoring 8 runs in an over (I'm not talking of run rate)or even more, with proper shots. The msg for declaration didnt kill cricket. Instead, it produced better cricket. They showed that skill and talent has to be backed up by discipline and purpose. (cotd)...

  • Dr. talha on July 23, 2012, 6:26 GMT

    I totally disagree with people saying that Waqar younis was not good against good teams. During the first half of career West Indies were the number one side in the world. Waqar got 35 wickets in 6 test matches against the Windies. Those wickets included Greenidge, Haynes, Lara, Hooper , Richardson, MULTIPLE TIMES. All terrific players of fast bowling. Infact greenidge struggled badly in front of Waqar in 1990 series. He also has a very good record against south africa and england. Australia played him quiet well. And against india he played his debut series and then there was a 10 year gap. During his peak years india never played against pak.

  • Alex on July 23, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    @sri & @Ananth: I searched "Statsguru" of Cricinfo using "left arm bowler" option in its advanced filter. Much better than relying on memory.

    1. It did unearth some big old names missed out by sri: Goddard, Woolley, J Saunders, Ironmonger, Whitty, Ferris, Toshack, Frank Foster, Alf Hall. Impossible to compare old-timers with modern players, of course, but Toshack, with all his injuries, seems like a blue print for Bruce Reid.

    2. Incidentally, there used to be a "Joshua Saunders" who contributed to this blog & took pride in mentioning his namesake "J Saunders". He vanished away somehow as did "Abhi", an SRT fanatic.

    3. BTW, Alf Hall is arguably the worst batsman of all time. His test avg (1.83) & FC avg (3.72) are probably the lowest. The numbers are (2,6.8) for Mbangwa, (2.4,3.92) for Chris Martin, and (4.1,4.67) for Chandra. I thought Martin was #1 but, alas, deeper in the murky waters lurks/lies the late Alf Hall! [[ In this blogspace you slight Chris Martin at your peril. I think you must have imbibed a few of the stronger malts to even dare compare a "batsman" who has the following figures 98 - 49 - 119 - 2.43 with a million zeros, with another one with the following figures 8 - 2 - 11 - 1.83 with 5 zeros Okay, all is forgiven considering you are a 4-year veteran. And, like me, if you do not imbibe the stronger liquids, you probably had too many Lime cordials or suddenly it has started snowing in Minneapolis. Have a great night and day. Ananth: ]]

  • dinesh on July 22, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    "Anyhow 637 for 2 is followed by 100 for 4. This, unfortunately, shows India in a very poor light. Just 12 months back and almost the same team composition"

    Ananth Make no mistake. We were almost Garbage in England last year except for a SAINT's efforts.We could have almost saved Lords test if not winning it.Should have put up a fight Trentbridge But then that turned to be BROAD's finest hour.All in all we never really turned up in England except Dravid who looked like buying a house and almost set shop there or may be in Lords on the second day when Dravid-Tendulkar combo played a 30Mins of Godly cricket.That is the best i remember india did And the better team won. And coming to the Current match with due respect to Amla and Co this pitch is flatter than anything england served last year. [[ Dinesh I have had extesnive discussions on this topic when I did the Pitch/Bowler analysis last year. What is the real pitch. The 2 wickets in 189 overs one or the 14 wickets in 165 overs. You cannot have it one way only. You cannot devalue Amla/Other' innings by using the former nor make these as truly great using the later. That is why I always rely on the total picture. Today might change the picture. But I take this pitch as of now as 16 wickets in 350 overs one. Certainly flat but not the 600/900 type of pitch. Anyhow South Africa are showing that England are susceptible to real quality, even at home. It also means that India might really meet the no.2 team later this year. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 22, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    @Sarosh & @Wasp: "Wasim was arguably the best ODI bowler of 1991-2000" is valid but debatable.

    Going with SR & avg. I feel Donald was the best pace bowler and Saqlain was the best overall bowler during this period. The stats of McGrath & Murali would improve a lot over the following years. [[ Edited. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 22, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    @shrikanthk:

    1. Your list missed out on Wilfred Rhodes, Ghavri, & Brett Schulz (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ylTvWF4UJ4). Whether Rhodes is to be considered a fast-medium is up for grabs but if yes then he is to be rated above Vaas. I don't go too much by volume. to Vaas. So, IMO, Vaas might barely make the all-time top 10 left arm bowlers list, unless the playing conditions are subcontinental.

    2. BTW, have England created batting paradises fearing the SA pace attack? If not then SA's 637/2 highlights the poor away standard of subcontinental players ... Ind of last year would likely have folded for a sub-300 total, as it regularly did in that series. [[ Anyhow 637 for 2 is followed by 100 for 4. This, unfortunately, shows India in a very poor light. Just 12 months back and almost the same team composition. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 22, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    Boll, When West Indies won at MCG, it had become 2-1. The tide had decisively turned. The mighty Steve Waugh was a quivering mess. Mark Waugh tried to hurriedly to sway out of the way of a very fast short of a good length ball from Ambrose, who had suddenly added 15k to his speed, and pulled his chest muscle, and retired hurt. The Aussies did not know what hit them. Ambrose just mowed them down. Read Hayden's account of that test. There is no way he would have made 125 in Adelaide, had Ambrose been playing. In fact, it surprised me that between him and Taylor, that they ever scored with Ambrose in the attack.

    When in the final test West Indies won, it was very clear that but for Adelaide, you could not have told who the victorious team was. There was a beautiful innings from M.Waugh, a freak innings from Bevan, and though it was a bad pitch, there was a massive gulf between the teams. Ambrose inspired West Indies. In Adelaide WI just missed him. [[ The plain fact is that with or without Ambrose, West indies might have lost the Adelaide match. Okay Australia might not have scored 517 but 300 and then won. Anything else such as Australia being dismissed for 125 (I am not saying you said it) is like building castles in the air. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 22, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    whose movement was to subtle for the viewer to follow (thus not as entertaining).

    My suggestion is that this Entertainment Value should come a long way after the actual business of getting wickets. And by that standard, my opinion is that Wasim is right up there with the best of them, but NOT above them.

    Since he seems to be regarded (subjectively) as having been the best (Espn World 11, Wisden's 100, players opinions etc.), I'm calling him slightly overrated.

    NOT "bad" or "terrible, just "not as good as he's thought to be".

    Agree about his ODI bowling, btw, which i'm not considering in this discussion. For his ability to bowl at the death and to resist getting collared at the start, I think he'd certainly be in my ODI All-Time 11

  • Waspsting on July 22, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    What do I see when I see Akram?

    I see a guy with a 17 year career, who MANY consider to the GREATEST BOWLER OF ALL TIME, and he never made it to #1. not even for a day.

    (Imagine if Tendulkar had never reached #1. That's what this is like - its very suggestive)

    I'm looking at highest ever ratings for different players. McGrath's best rating is 5th highest ever, Ambrose 6th, Pollock and Waqar 10th, Donald 26th.

    Wasim Akram is 61st.

    ---------

    I cannot stress enough that I FULLY ACKNOWLEDGE Wasim's greatness.

    My beef is with the COMPARATIVE ranking of certain "hyped" players(Akram, Warne, Viv, Lillee) above players every bit as good (Waqar, Murali, Miandad, Garner make a nice list to balance out against the guys I've named)

    It seems to me a large part of this hype is created in terms of "entertainment value". For a fast man, sideways movement you can see has this EV.

    Wasim certainly had this (only Waqar had more). On the other side, you have McGrath (cont)

  • Waspsting on July 22, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    @Sarosh, thanks for your balanced reply.

    "You usually hear stuff like –“That was too good a ball for a tail-ender”. Here you have a bowler who makes the best batsmen sometimes look like tail-enders. So- he must bowl at a lower level to get more wickets?"

    Any bowler worth his salt would rather "get the batsman out", as opposed to "trouble the batsman".

    I'm aware that Akram is GENERALLY CONSIDERED the best fast man of his time, and I think it is based on his "troubling" batsman all the time.

    Not that he couldn't and didn't get them out - of course he did. But in this area, he is FAR from #1 of his time... and I am giving the HIGHEST VALUE in assessing a bowler's ability in "getting the batsman out".

    Akram has the worst strike rate amongst the top league of his time (Ambrose, Waqar, Donald, McGrath, Pollock) - that's a fact.

    I don't know exactly how the World ratings are arrived at, but have found them to be pretty reliable, giving weight to results and none at all to "hype".... [[ What we are talking about are the historic ratings which were specially done. But these are officialy there and are pretty decent. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruudraza on July 22, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    I am not saying Denis Lille was not over-rated but Hadlee and Mcgracth are the best fast bowlers with Marshall pretty close. When u analyze Mcgrath and Hadlee u realize that they did'nt just take wickets at a great avg but controlled and dominated oppositions.

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @Ravi - I`m with you on most of the other ones (although draw a blank on SRT desert storm) - how does a test average of 99.94, spanning 20 years, fit into this eclectic/subjective group though? [[ Ravi is referring to the brace of 100s from Tendulkar which were responsible for Indians to qualify for the Sharjah Final and then win the Final: bot the matches against Australia. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    @Ruudraza, one of the more convoluted statistical attempts to make a point... how about we listen to Hadlee speaking about Lillee instead

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hadlee+on+lillee&oq=hadlee+on+lillee&gs_l=youtube.12...21874.26609.0.27604.16.15.0.1.1.0.88.1051.15.15.0...0.0...1ac.rTf1dhvOMHE

  • Ravi on July 22, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    Ananth, another thing that got me thinking is the broad question of how the bowling fraternity over the years has impacted batting. Taking 10 representatives of spin, med, fast bowlers per decade and charting over time can we see how batting avg has evolved against the 3 categories. I suspect we will see a dip in avg against Grimmett/OReilly etc in the 20s and 30s, easy for 20 years, Ramadhin/Valendine/Benaud/Laker/Sobers etc, easy for 10, then the Indian trio/Underwood/Gleeson, easy for 10, Qadir/Maninder, easy for 5, Warne/Kumble/Murali, then Ajmal etc.

    And likewise against fast and medium pacers.

    In essence this will be a super-imposition of the impact of bowling categories over your decade-wise batting analysis which had brought out how the batting avg etc progressed with time. This super-position will tell us one of the "why" and the magnitude of impact. [[ Maybe the Sarosh suggestion of the "Players' best decade analysis" will throw more light since the non-overlapping periods, of fixed lengths, will allow us to form a linked period analysis. Ananth: ]a] Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi on July 22, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Ananth, lists of best-ever, or most feared etc coming from armchair critics or from most cricket-watching public are bound to be subjective and dictated by very few very spectacular performances (DGB 99.94, hattricks, Javed's six, SRT desert storm, Yuvi 6 six, Lakers 19-90 etc). Articles like yours are enlightening. They bring out the numbers and dispel long-held perceptions or ballast what we already suspected. The questions to ask are: 1.Must public perception be as accurate as numbers and records? 2.Must numbers refute or confirm people's views? I think the two need not always confront each other. The questions may seem vague and out of place in this forum but certainly got me thinking. Any comments? [[ Ravi, Numbers can only act as supporting material. These cannot be ignored nor be allowed to dominate the thought process. Since most of the readers are very well-read and knowledgeable of the game, their views are very sound. Maybe one of you guys should do a poll of the comments and come out with an analysis of the most appreciated bowler !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    @shrikanthk. re. `Pakistanis are not good players of spin...They've struggled against Warne, struggled against Murali, struggled against Kumble`.

    I don`t know about that. Warne had an exceptional record against them (90 wickets @20), Murali wasn`t bad (80 wickets @25), but Kumble (ave.32), Vettori (ave.48) and Harbhajan (ave.52) have certainly had their problems.

  • Sarosh on July 22, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    Ananth,

    I hope your planned 1000 point rating system is based on peer comparisons and not absolute numbers. A player can only be judged by how good he is relative to his peers.There is really no other measure.

    For eg.For bowlers who played for most of the '70s Lillee had the best average of 23.78. This may not look so bright in absolute terms.But he was clearly the bowler of the '70s.

    The peer ratios would neutralise playing conditions,pitches,rules etc. For batsmen it would neutralise playing conditons( pitch, protective gear),bowling etc. So,no possibility of any complaints of that nature. (For eg. the classic "The latter day batsmen played without helmets,etc." or batting on "uncovered" pitches .All neutralised with a level playing field) [[ We might be jumping the gun. nyhow I had already thought of assigning part of these points to peer comparisons. But absiolute values have to be given their due weight to have acceptance across the years. Peer period itself is dicey since each player will have his own unique peak period: that too separate for batting and bowling. But I will take care somehow. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 22, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    Ravi M, that is an excellent observation about Sobers. Since during this period (1/1/1961 to end of career), his batting average was almost 20% higher than the next best, he must have been a colussus.

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    @Gerry. I think I`d agree that no other bowler of that period was better than Ambrose at his best, however your suggestion that he `almost repeated this feat(1992/3) in 1997, but his missing the 4th test allowed the Aussies to sneak through.` is a gross exaggeration. Australia won the first two tests quite convincingly, declaring 5(?) wickets down in their 2nd innings both times and bowling out WI with plenty to spare. WI won the 3rd test, Ambrose 9/72 (MoM).

    The 4th, ultimately series-deciding, test was a demolition with or (in this case) without Ambrose. If you win the toss and bat in Adelaide, and then get bowled out for 130, you`re going to get an absolute walloping - WI duly proceeded to lose by an innings and 183 runs. 3-1...series over. [[ Especially when your best bowler is not playing. And you allow the unorthodox spin of Bevan to bamboozle you to the extent of giving him more than a third of his career haul. Normal service restored in the last Test, though. Ananth: ]] Quite apart from allowing the Aussies `to sneak through` - this match/series was a confirmation of their dominance. McGrath (26 wickets at 17) was the bowler of the series, and the tide had definitely turned.

  • Ruudraza on July 22, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Player Span Mat Inns Overs Mdns Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR

    Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1978-1990 69 119 18182 7441 370 9/52 15/123 20.11 2.45 49.1

    considering hadlee played for much weaker team than lille's and the fact that nz played much fewer matches than the aussies.In his prime his wickets to inns raio of 370 to 119 compared to lilles 355 to 132 and avg of almost 4 better(his overall wickets to inns raio of 431 to 150 is also better with than lille's alongside a better overall avg) Evidently his longetivity,wicket taking abity,match wining ability(173 wickets avereging 13 in 22 tests),economy hence accuracy was much better than lille's than why is it that hadlee's not accepted to be better than lille. [[ These are only verbal jousts. It is like someone saying "Lillee is over-rated". No one in his right mind will think of these two bowlers as anything but the creme la creme. Ananth: ]]

  • v8 on July 22, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    Hi Ananth

    Excellent stats .. is there any excel sheet or something which i can download the data ? [[ Towards the end of the main article there is a link to view/save the huge Excel sheet. You can download and indulge in your own fantasies. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    @shrikanthk. The absence of the great Mike Whitney (39 test wickets!) casts a shadow over your selection of left-arm pace bowlers. [[ One really Warholian 15 minutes at Perth in 1992. The 7 against West Indies was not that effective. Ananth: ]] On a more serious note, I`d struggle not to find room for Zaheer Khan in the mix there - for all his fitness issues, he`s been excellent for India, great to watch, and his bat ave./wicket stats here are exceptional. [[ Between Vaas and Zaheer it is a toss-up. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 22, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    Footnote to Sobers' stats after Davo's advice in 1961:

    Sobers averaged a very respectable 26.5 as non-captain in 20 Tests (75 wickets) in that 14-year period. Excellent wickets-per-match ratio too.

    Most importantly, as non-captain after 1961, sub-30 average against every opposition and in EVERY country!

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/52946.html?captain=0;class=1;spanmin2=01+jan+1961;spanval2=span;template=results;type=bowling

  • Ravi M on July 22, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    shrikanthk: [i]Sobers has to rank high because his record is excellent as a fast bowler as opposed to his slow stuff.[/i]

    Could not agree more!

    Sobers was a slow bowler for most part of his career leading up to the most epic series of 'em all - Aus-WI in '60/61. Quick check shows, he'd played 32 matches before the series and had only 40 wickets (in 47 innings) at an average of 45!!!! Not once he took the new ball; and only bowled at 3rd position once!

    Legend goes that on new year's day in 1961 (rest day), Sobers had a chat with Alan Davidson who was on the verge of taking his wicket tally to 17 by half-way through the 2nd Test. Ever since, Sobers often preferred to bowl pace & was very good at it.

    Stats don't lie, since the historic chat with Davo, Sobers played 59 Tests and took 192 wickets at 31.1!

    I took the liberty to check who took more wickets between 1961 & end of Sobers' career. Only 2: Mckenzie of Aus averaged 29.8 & Lance Gibbs 29.3!

  • shrikanthk on July 22, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Surprisingly Warne has done phenomenally well against Pakistan and quite poorly against India, despite the fact that both teams have very good players of spin.

    I would disagree. Pakistanis are not good players of spin. Atleast not since I started following cricket! They've struggled against Warne, struggled against Murali, struggled against Kumble. This year they struggled to score freely against even Panesar!

    Pakis were probably good players of spin in the good old days of Zaheer Abbas. But not anymore.

  • shrikanthk on July 22, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    Why then stop at Lohmann. What about Turner, Peel, Briggs, Blythe who all had sub-19 averages

    A slight digression. I don't think we should club Blythe with people like Lohmann, Turner and Peel.

    Colin Blythe of Kent played in the period just prior to WWI - widely acknowledged as Cricket's Golden Age. He was a contemporary of Barnes and Rhodes. But for his death in WWI, he might have carried on playing in the 20s. The 1900s-1910s is a period very very different from the 1880s when Lohmann and Turner plied their trade.

    Without doubt one of the greatest left-arm bowlers in cricket history.

    For me, cricket came of age in 1890 - the year the County Championship was officially organized for the first time. If at all I've to exclude anybody, I will exclude players who debuted in tests prior to 1890. Which would naturally exclude Lohmann, Turner, Peel and Briggs. But will include moderns like Richardson, Lockwood, Barnes, Rhodes and Blythe.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 22, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    Alex, AB may well have called Marshall the best. But let us consider the facts. Aussies are speaking, so just as they leave out McGrath from the assessments, let us similarly take only matches against Australia. Marshall toured several times, but the benchmark tour was 1984-85. Marshall had a superstar team, in bowling a superstar support cast (Walsh 4th bowler, Holding the 3rd bowler took 6/21 at Perth), himself took 28 wickets, Wessels and Wayne Phillips were able to regularly counter him, Aussies were in a seriously shaken up state with GS Chappell, Marsh, Hughes all leaving. Ambrose by contrast in 1993 (1989 and 1997 were also successful) had Walsh and a rectified Bishop for support. The Oz line up was one of the best line ups in history. Ambrose destroyed them in successive tests and turned around the series. WI batting was brittle. Ambrose almost repeated this feat in 1997, but his missing the 4th test allowed the Aussies to sneak through. NO OTHER BOWLER APPROACHED THIS LEVEL.

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    @Sarosh. no arguments from me about Wasim`s brilliance in both forms of the game. However, to suggest that the `90s was a `two-horse race` as far as bowlers was concerned is drawing a very long bow, and certainly doesn`t gel with my memories of the era.

    Warne (debut 1992) was clearly the highest wicket-taker of the decade (351 at 25.7) - McGrath (debut 1993) took 266 at 22.9.

    Numerous other pace bowlers took over 250 wickets for the decade, Walsh (304 at 26), Donald (284 at 22) and Waqar (273 at 22).

    Kumble (264 at 28) and Murali (227 at 27) also showed that the spin-bowling cupboard was in a very healthy state.

    The impact Warne had on the game probably marks him as the bowler of the `90s, with Ambrose probably the pick of an excellent group of pacemen. [[ Yes, I agree, Boll. My earlier take, purely on the rather unimportant matter of Wasim never having been no.1, was that Wasim shared the stage with many wonderful bowlers. That is proved. The "Player best decade analysis" should open many eyes, as Sarosh has said. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on July 22, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    Was Sobers that good a left arm pace bowler not to fight for two of the remaining places with the likes of Johnson, Vaas, Zaheer and Reid

    I think a lot depends on the pitch. If it is a fast, bouncy pitch in Australia, I will go with Bill Voce. Not express. But very awkward on a quick pitch offering steep bounce.

    In English conditions, I would prefer Sobers anyday. An excellent swing bowler who troubled top order batsmen (Boycott rates him very highly). In subcontinental conditions, I would prefer Vaas or a fit Zaheer.

  • shrikanthk on July 22, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    amongst the 5 best left arm pacers. Is it okay

    Never thought about this. Let's see. You've Akram, Davidson, Gary Sobers, Bill Voce, Bill Johnston, Frank Foster, Bruce Reid, Zaheer Khan, Mitchell Johnson, John Lever, Mohammad Amir, Gary Gilmour, Irfan Pathan, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Bracken, Ryan Sidebottom, Ian Meckiff...

    Have I left out any half-decent left-arm fast medium bowler from history?

    Now top 5 among this lot :

    Akram, Davidson, Sobers, Johnston and Voce/Vaas.

    Sobers has to rank high because his record is excellent as a fast bowler as opposed to his slow stuff.

    Voce vs Vaas vs Johnston is a close call.

    I don't know much about Johnston except that he enjoyed a lot of success. Voce was the most hostile of the three especially in his youth. Vaas arguably the most skilful. Johnston the most successful (in terms of average).

    It's amazing how left-arm pacemen have proliferated over the past 10 years and so very few have graced cricket fields in the decades before. [[ Shri, trust you to take it to the next step. I realize that I was almost out on a limb on my statement on top-5. But not too far off the mark. There is no doubt on Akram, Davidson and Johnston. All with sub-24 averages. Was Sobers that good a left arm pace bowler not to fight for two of the remaining places with the likes of Johnson, Vaas, Zaheer and Reid. I am not sure. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 22, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    @Sarosh. I think the reputation of a few SAf greats of the era suffered, perhaps unfairly, because of their performances against Aus. Not only Donald (ave.31), but also Pollock (bat ave.28, bowl ave.37!) and Kallis (bat ave.39, bowl ave.38) struggled to really make their mark.

    They weren`t helped by the complete dominance of the Aus team vs SAf - 6 straight series victories from the decade starting 1996 (14 wins to 2).

    However, these were often billed as the world-title bouts of the era (1 vs 2), and the perception remained that when it really mattered, the South African team, and these stars in particular, often fell short. Bit harsh, but I`m sure the perception reamins.

  • Sarosh on July 22, 2012, 2:36 GMT

    Waspsting, Agree on a couple of points 1) The arm-chair bit; up Took off in a fit of peevishness. But aren’t we all? Shastri and co. may be loud, boorish and generally unpalatable but they have been Test cricketers. A select band of a few thousand at most. Their knowledge of the game is far deeper and subtler than ours. 2) An endorsement by Lara isn’t the end all. Though it does lend a certain weight. Head to heads are often dependent on individual strength vs. weaknesses scenarios and so are not too reliable. Don’t agree on: 1)You usually hear stuff like –“That was too good a ball for a tail-ender”. Here you have a bowler who makes the best batsmen sometimes look like tail-enders. So- he must bowl at a lower level to get more wickets? [[ Yes, I agree. Instead of beating a tail-ender with 5 out-swingers and missing by a whisker, bowl in-swingers so that there is a much better chance of hitting a pad or sticks. And all top bowlers are capable of that. Ananth: ]] However, I ran a quick check on Wasim from Jan 1st 1990 to Jan 1st 2000 (not sure if it’s his best decade exactly- but close enough) Wasim has 289 wickets at 21.45 for the decade (111 inns.) The only bowler who has done better than him (over the entire decade) is Ambrose – 309 at 20.14 (128 inns.) Is this why Wasim wasn’t ranked No.1? So basically for bowlers who played through the whole of the ‘90s it was a two-horse race. (Pollock does well in there but for half the time). So, there may have been other bowlers who did better in spells. But , for the entire decade it was basically Ambrose/Wasim. Something I don’t think too many people realize. Then again Akram's strike rate is bettered only by Donald and Waqar (among any significant wicket takers). These guys weren’t the “strangle till you get a mistake” type of bowlers. They were strike bowlers. They were out to get you- they may leak a few more runs in the process. But what’s a couple of dozen runs if you get the best batsmen out? [[ The no.1 position workings, especially the back-worked ones are full of holes. Ananth: ]] Wasim was also arguably the best ODI bowler in that decade. Yes, the same ppl will come charging forth with their argument about Tests vs. ODIs. But let’s face it the best Test cricketers have the skill set to adapt to ODIs. All of them – bar none. [[ Wasim was arguably "the best ODI bowler of all time". Ananth: ]] As mentioned, The “Peer ratio comparison of best decade” will undoubtedly give us a clearer perspective. [[ Sarosh, I will try and translate the best decade performance for each player to a 1000-basis Rating points. But strictly a decade will be a decade. Then only can the complex programming be done. Let us say, within a month. Ananth: ]] Ravi M Very good points. Perhaps it is Donald’s poor performances vs. Aus that have dented his rep.

  • Ravi M on July 22, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    I totally agree with Waspsting about players saying "all kinds of absurd things". It'll be way off-topic to go on about those things.

    Often, their quotes are taken out of context by the journalists and unless we actually watch the full interview or read the entire chapter in the book, "he's the best I ever saw" line is as useful as Chris Martin's batting. [[ In this blog I will not take kindly to any reference to Chris Martin's batting !!! As I have already said a few times, he is the only batsman I will pay to watch: and make sure that I do not leave the seat when New Zealand is 8 down. Ananth: ]] Having said that, we shouldn't be selective about it. I mean 1+ billion people were so thrilled about what Bradman said about Tendlya; yet, almost all of them dismissed Bradman's thoughts on Barry Richards. And there are plenty other instances when we only acknowledge certain parts of what the past greats said.

    Anyway, if there's one cricketer's words I'd take without having to ponder, that'd be Bradman's. Not (just) because he was the greatest ever lived; it's (also) because he was the most meticulous in his assessment & when you read it or listen to him IN FULL, you'll understand.

    Anyway, I'll stick to topic from here on.

  • Ravi M on July 22, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    [cont.]

    But, WI won a Test in their 2nd series itself (& first home series). Pak had a win in their very 2nd Test; and continued to perform consistently well. So, I don’t think we could class WI & Pak in the same category.

    IMO, Pakistan started [FAZAL – RESPECT] better than any other nation in Test cricket & still has the best win-loss ratio (talking about members #3 to 10 only).

    Yes, while most other countries started off poorly, they didn’t play as many matches in those days & didn’t really help make good careers look far better & great ones even much greater.

    Having said that, with or without minnows, Murali’s either the best or 2nd best spinner ever; and the 3rd is so for behind this pair.

    On the other hand, while one may admire Vaas’ ability to do well in Sri Lanka; he did struggle in most other countries. He was a fine bowler; but, all-time great is quite a stretch. [[ Let us say: amongst the 5 best left arm pacers. Is it okay. Ananth: ]] In hindsight, low-bouncing wickets in SL helped Vaas; or rather hindered the overseas players to perform well

  • Ravi M on July 22, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    [i]Although everybody talking about Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, there is a time that other teams are equally weak.Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and even West Indies.[/i]

    BD has a win-loss ratio of 0.04 (3 wins to 63 losses & 7 draws). Against top 6 teams, in 56 Tests, they lost 54 & managed 2 draws. Only 219 & 164 overs were played instead of 450 (i.e. 49 & 36%).

    Zim was a better side when they started off & remained good enough to draw the occasional matches against every nation (except Aus of course) until 2001-2; and even managed to beat Ind/Pak a couple of times.

    BD started in 2000 & Zim was on a serious decline after 2001, ‘pundits’ started to pair them as minnows. Can’t blame the people for applying filters.

    NZ might have needed 45 Tests to register their 1st win; but they at least drew 22 of the first 44 Tests before winning.

    India & South Africa started poorly too; but, never to the extent of BD. [[ Ravi; It is a sign of the times that teams are not allowed to draw. It was easy for the Indian/Pakistan of 1950-60s, New Zealand for many a year to go with the intention of drawing. They had the defensive batsmen and flat pitches to help them do that. Today how can you do that. I agree Bangladesh's inadequacies but they are also a victim of the period. Ananth: ]]

  • Chris on July 21, 2012, 21:08 GMT

    @Gerry_the_Merry & @Boll The point I made was that SRT's form was affected in 2004 AT HOME due to tennis elbow. he played 'ZERO' first class games for 6 months after Pak tour. then he played on the Nagpur pitch which became infamous for reasons all know. Warne also was supposed to be affected by the shoulder injury in 97 but he also had decent practice and a dustbowl at Chennai + an Aus first innings lead to boot. Was Warne also injured in 99 and 2001 vs India? I remember the ashes tests he missed in 97-98 but why was he not affected in SA and ENG by those injuries? I saw Mcgrath V SRT head to head on commentary threads (available at the time)in 1999 and 2001. VVS never really took on Mcgrath, Tendulkar was the only one in the Indian team who did.even at Eden Gardens 2001 Mcgrath was 'seen off' by VVS and Dravid mostly. Sehwag is the only other batsman to attack Mcgrath. I never needed stats for that. why would Mcgrath name SRT if SRT failed against him? I am a Ganguly fan, btw.

  • Alex on July 21, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    @Gerry: In 1993, when Ambrose was at his peak, Border called him "as good as any they (i.e., WI) ever produced". Border would know: he faced Ambrose and other WI greats many times over a 16-year career. In general, Border has always maintained that Marshall was the best bowler he ever saw.

    Donald does not get rated that high by Oz greats (see, e.g., Warne's list) because they felt that his head went down when things did not go his way. There may be something to it. Wasim, of course, was a warrior and a great artist: he could do so many things with the ball. His natural ability was on a very high level and that might be a reason why he gets rated so high even though some other bowlers are ahead of him on some very valid metrics; same is the case with Holding.

  • Alex on July 21, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    @Ananth: I gave those 6 over/inn as an example that Kapil wasn't bowling that much. His stats over final 16 tests:

    Bowling: 16 tests, 462 overs, 973 runs, 33 wkts, ave=29.5, SR=84. Batting: 16 tests, 558 runs, ave=40, 1 hundred, 3 50's.

    These actually improved a bit over the final 4:

    Bowling: 4 tests, 82 overs, 248 runs, 9 wkts, ave=27.6, SR=54. Batting: 4 tests, 117 runs, ave=39, one 50.

    Yet, he had to retire whereas who is saying anything to SRT today? In his Kapil's final few years, media called him old and over the hill, and the all-knowing Indian crowd occasionally heckled him. SMG is held as an example of going out on a high but, IMO, Kapil is the one who went out on a high. Let's not slight this gentleman unnecessarily. [[ Did I do some slighting at all. I only pointed out that in his last 15 tests he captured 30 wickets. Nothing more. Let us not argue over minor semantics. As one who watched almost every Test at that time I can say that Hadlee's 431 was like a magnet. As far as Tendulkar is concerned I see many calls for his retirement from ODI cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 21, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    @Ananth & @Arjun: Arjun is a great contributor and his latest metric is superb. Spinners don't score high on it. It should be used with caution as these BatQ/BowSR values show:

    Asif (.74), Lohmann (.47!!), Siddle (.58), Malinga (.57), Zaheer (.59), Lee (.59), Lindwall (.49!!), Bedser (.48), Davidson (.48), Fazal (.44), Trueman (.59), Statham (.46), Hall (.6), Lillee (.6), Roberts (.53), Willis (.56), Thommo (.6), Imran (.56), Hadlee (.58), Holding (.6), Garner (.53), Croft (.65), Marshall (.65), Wasim (.48!!), Waqar (.64), Ambrose (.55), Bishop (.6), Walsh (.5), Donald (.63), Pollock (.52), McGrath (.59), Ntini (.59), Shoaib (.69), Steyn (.74), Morkel (.62), Kapil (.51). Spinners: Murali (.52), Warne (.51), Kumble (.46), O'Reilly (.45).

    So, high values for modern bowlers (see (Malinga, Siddle, Zak) & (Trueman, Davidson, Lindwall)) might be due to batsmen friendly settings.

    For bowlers in the same era & same team, of course this metric reveals a lot: notice W&W, WI quartets, etc. [[ All these measures come with a "Use with caution" tag attached to them. As Ric's measure had a weak point with bowlers who miss matches. Asif's and Akhtar's batting average numbers indicate the generally prevailing high averages. But let us not overcomplicate it with period level adjustment and so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 21, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    WS, if you think that Kapil was slower than Prabhakar/Sharma in 1990, perhaps you are forgetting the 1991-92 series against Australia. Kapil Dev was not only more successful than either (25 wickets in 5 tests), but was significantly faster for longer in all the tests, especially MCG. I think he just gave up in 1990, and batting took too much out of him. Just my theory to fit facts.

    On Ambrose/Akram/Donald etc, we "armchair experts" may get it wrong, but among the real experts, I believe only 2-3 guys are truly qualified - Boon, Border and Steve Waugh. They played against the full range of WI attacks including Marshall and Ambrose. Hayden played Ambrose/Donald/Akram/Walsh. In his book (I just reread with pleasure), he praises Ambrose endlessly and eloquently (the best paceman he had seen by far), mentions Akram as the next best, does not even mention Donald, which goes with Ravi M's observations of Donald against Oz.

    I would like to know what Boon and Border thought of the best pacema

  • Waspsting on July 21, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    (continuation of Denis Compton comment...{forgot to finish it})

    I suppose you believe the field warrior, the great Denis Compton when he says he could see from LONG LEG that a catch to the keeper was not a bump ball?

    Players say ALL KINDS OF ABSURD things (to start listing them here would take the discussion WAY off-topic).

    don't be a "if x says a camel can pass through the eye of a needle than if must be true" type, think for yourself.

    My take on Akram is, he was in the top tier of bowlers, but by no means the best of his period. Arguments can effectively be made granting him supremacy over his contemporaries, but stronger arguments can be made for just about any of the other top bowlers.

    I don't do "I liked him" better" rationals.

    I question very carefully "x,y,z said so" arguments because players say all kinds of things (Cronje-SRT is just 1 example, i could give you dozens!)

    Anything else - fair game for discussion. Look forward to hearing from you

  • Arjun on July 21, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    Ananth,

    S Barnes is on 13th position Lohmann on 85th Brigs on 125th

    I think this ratio puts lot of things in perspective.

    Even though Morkel and Z Khan have high averages this ratio give them their due. [[ Look at the Pakistani bowlers. Quite high values. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 21, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    Kapil seemed pretty impressive even in 90 to me. That Lords match Ananth mentioned, on a flat track he removed Atheron and had Gooch dropped of the most regulation of regulation catches (and then he went on to 333)

    But yes, his pace was clearly a notch below Prabhaker and Sharma - i can't think of any other reason, other than lack of pace, to account for his COMPARITIVELY (I stress this for the benefit of readers who simply don't understand fine distinctions) poor record.

    Even a few years ago when the Ind '83 legends team played the current team, he bowled beautiful outswingers, and had Tendulkar playing and missing early on (before he went on to make his inevitably 100)

  • Arjun on July 21, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Ananth,

    That ratio should be (BatQ/BowSR); higher the value the better. it is like capturing high Qaulity wkts for fewer number of balls. Priceless! (Steyn) [[ I think I beat you to that comment with my revision of my response by a few minutes !!! The file has been uploaded. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 21, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    it is EQUALLY true for his contemporaries - Ambrose, Donald, McGrath, Pollock, Waqar - and they all made it to #1.

    Why is that if Wasim is CONSIDERED a greater bowler than them?? (and if he isn't considered a greater bowler than them, than why is he in the experts World 11, and not those guys? Why does he have more votes than ALL of those guys put together in Wisden's 100?)

    To be "overrated" is to be rated higher than one deserves (how highly one actually is is irrelevant. I think Tendulkar is the best batsman I've seen, and i also think he's overrated!).

    In the light of everything I've just noted - do you have a RATIONAL and intelligent justification for how highly Akram is rated?

    Brian Lara named him the best bowler he faced? Tendulkar named Hansie Cronje the best he faced

    "Arm chair critics"? Perhaps you'd prefer the wonderful insights of 'field warriors' like Danny Morrison or Ravi Shastri?

    I suppose you believe Denis Compton, when he says he could see FROM LONG LEG, that

  • Waspsting on July 21, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    "The one against Wasim is the most absurd argument I have ever heard in sport – It seems he was too good !"

    bowler's primary job is to get wickets - correct?

    In that case, which is the better ball, the one that gets the edge? or the one the batsman plays and misses at?

    We tend to call the one the batsman misses as being "too good".

    Wasim was included in an ALL-TIME world 11 selected by "experts".

    Such selections are intrinsically comparitive by nature. Why Wasim and not Ambrose or McGrath or Waqar?

    If you can answer that without descending to "I like him better" type arguments, i'm all ears. If you do descend to levels - and your suggestion for an analysis to demo certain players greatness' suggests to me that you're above such things - we're just operating on different levels here

    Why was Wasim NEVER ranked world #1? Ananth thinks it might be because he played alongside some of the greatest bowlers ever, whichis very much true. However,(cont)

  • Arjun on July 21, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    Ananth,

    AvgQua of batsmen dismissed is interesting; i think there is strong correlation between Bowler's strike rate and AvgQua of batsman dismissed.

    Lohmonn, peel, brigs all have very good SR but poor BatQua. Akram and waqar have poor BatQua(about 26-27,other bowlers is around 30) but very good SR. Can you add column of bowling SR in excel sheet ? A new Bowling index (BowSR/BatQ) could be developed. [[ Will include the column and post by tomorrow. If a bowler captures a wicket every 50 balls and that wicket (on an average) happens to be a 32 batsman: yes, opens up possibilities for a nice ratio, somewhat similar to Ric's recenyt one. A better ratio will be BatQ/BowSR since the two have contrasting nature and the revised ratio will acquire the "higher the better" tag. Arjun: The table has since been updated. Ananth: ]]

  • Maduwantha on July 21, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    Great analysis. Statistics speaks. Although everybody talking about Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, there is a time that other teams are equally weak.Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and even West Indies. Therefore donot undermine performances of bowlers like Vass. In ODI history he has the best bowling figures.He is the only bowler with hatric in first three bowls in a match (He has two oneday hatrics). Sri Lanka is the country with higets scores in all three formats. Sri Lanka is responsible for three lowest totals in onedayers. Vass is a key player in all three dismissels. Other countries also has played against those weak teams. If Muralidaran and Vass played in a country like Australia they will consider them as all time greats. [[ Don't worry. People may select Warne ahead of Murali in their team but only the most jaundiced viewers would not give Murali one of the all time greats status. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 21, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    Somebody mentioned McWarne as greatest pair. I guess it's obvious - even by numbers. Leaving out BD & Zim, since they didn't play many Tests against Aus, Warne's avg was over 26 against only WI and India. McGrath averaged under 20 against WI & India! Talk about PAIRING! McGrath didn't average his usual 22 or below against RSA & NZ, Warne averaged 24 against them and tormented them beyond numbers.

    Poor England & Pakista had to suffer the best of both McGrath & Warne. I was gonna list their career combined averages, but involving both makes more sense.

    So, in 104 Tests together, McWarney picked 1001 wickets (combine-)averaged under 28 against all.

    Let's break-it-down:

    v Eng 25 Tests, 263 Wkts, ave of 21.97 v Ind 9, 78, 26.44 v NZ 14, 122, 27.18 v Pak 14, 157, 19.71 v RSA 17, 158, 24.20 v SL 8, 67, 24.64 v WI 15, 135, 23.22 v Zim 1, 12, 18.92 v ICC XI, 1, 9, 12.56

    Warne had 2 brilliant series v NZ and 1 vs SL without McGrath; but he suffered so much more vs India without McGrath. [[ Yes, I agree that Warne was very important for McGrath. Together they were more than the sum and separated they became mere mortals. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 21, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Out of curiosity, I tried "away & neutral" international averages with 300 wickets.

    Donald trumps McGrath there!

    Donald 21.12 Hadlee 21.79 McGrath 21.90

    Ignoring the rest (22+) as it's a Test bowling blog.

    I had this weird feeling about not seeing Donald dismissing the 2nd batch of modern Aussie batting 'greats' and I checked the numbers. It's strangely true.

    Hayden 1 in 7 Tests (dismissal came in 1994) Martyn 1 in 5 (dismissal came in 1994) Ponting 0 in 5 Gilchrist 0 in 3

    Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, of those who made their debut after in 1990 or after, McGrath & Donald would be my first two picks for pace bowling. Steyn shouldn't be far behind I guess.

  • Ravi M on July 21, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Re: Donald,

    As for Donald being overlooked in world XI teams, I think it was largely due to his (relative) failure against the best team of his generation. Against Australia, Donald averaged 31.1 at a SR of 62! 22.3 & 47 in career (excluding Aus, 20.6 & 44). Means his avg went up by 50+% & SR by nearly 40% vs Australia as opposed to RoW.

    In 6 series vs Aus, only once he averaged below 28.

    Anyway, that's the only reason I can think of. I myself was one of those who never understood why Donald's rarely mentioned in the top echelon of pace bowlers!

    He was 25 when RSA returned to Test cricket; considering he started first-class 6 years before, he might have ended up with 450 Test scalps if only....

    Of those with 450 international wickets, only 10 bowlers have sub-24 avg; and Donald's 2nd only to McGrath.

    McGrath 21.76 Donald 22.04 Hadlee 22.10 Curtly 22.11 Macko 22.71 Murali 22.86 Lillee 23.22 Wasim 23.57 Waqar 23.70 Pollock 23.73

  • Boll on July 21, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    Am I right in suggesting that spinners have generally found travelling more difficult than the fast men? Australia and India have both proved extremely tough for opposition spinners, and some of the very best at their craft really haven`t travelled well anywhere - Kumble(@37), Harbhajan (@40), Abdul Qadir (@48). Warne, apart from his travails in India, was excellent away, Murali slightly less so, but from a cursory glance it seems that the difference between home/away averages for most of the slow men is fairly stark.

    I`m not quite sure why this should be the case, or indeed why Australian/Indian spinners in particular have so clearly out-pointed their opposite numbers (from all nations) at home.

    Any ideas? [[ This is not valid if you take across all countries. Warne travels very well at 24.6, Murali at 27.7, Vettori at 31.4, Gibbs at 28.7, Underwood at 27.4, Benaud at 24.4, Saqlain at 30.2 (Borderline) et al. I agree Kumble at 35.9, Kaneria at 34.2, Harbhajan at 38.8 are somewhat on the higher side. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 21, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    @Ananth: 30 wkts in 15 tests at ave=28 suggests that Kapil simply did not get to bowl much. For example:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63598.html http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63599.html

    Basically, Kapil was bowling 6 overs/innings when Kumble-Raju-Chauhan were bowling 80 over/innings. Is it a wonder that he was averaging 2 wkts/test? [[ Again sorry to break this 6 overs per innings. Kapil bowled 427 overs in these 15 Test matches, that is about 15 overs per innings. Ananth: ]] I am die-hard Mumbai fan and know for a fact that Mumbai lobby & TV commentators looked to slight Kapil. When he took a tail-ender wkt, they said that India was doing it to get him past Hadlee. When he couldn't get the tail-enders out, he was called a burden. In contrast, they never said such a thing against SMG or SRT (or even SVM): SRT's 100th 100 is a very recent case in point.

    Let's give Kapil his due on this forum ... I am not calling him an all-time top 30 fast/medium fast bowler but he was worth his place in India team until the very end --- bowl avg=28 & batting avg=32 over final 4 yrs is very good indeed.

  • Faraz on July 21, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    Hey man good job! Just something I have always wondered about. Is it possible to adjust the wickets for the career batting average of the batsman dismissed?? Surely, its a better bowler who dismissed Bradman ten times as opposed to Chris Martin ten times! [[ In the downloadable Excel tables there is a colum "Avge Wkt BatAvge" which is the average of batting averages of the dismissed batsmen. This will take care of the Bradman-Martin dismissal situation. Ananth: ]] In my experience, Captains tended to bring on their "best" bowlers to clean up the tail, thereby skewing up their numbers.

  • Sarosh on July 21, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    Always like seeing Donald acknowledged. One of the finest fast bowlers of the era. But never seems to be a part of any World XI (or two).

    Speed, aggression, stats as good as most,fantastic “away” average (always a major plus point when judging a player, Capable of bowling unplayable balls (again a rare gift not given to all) etc. Just a fine,fine bowler – but always in the shade of other greats. [[ If I select a short list of 12 bowlers, he would be probably a first half selection. Ananth: ]]

  • charith on July 21, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    Ananth looking at the comments, most people always try to downplay lankans stats by saying they play a lot of cricket with ban & zim.While its a true fact its also the correct thing to do because next to SL they are the next newcomers to test cricket and SL helped them to develop by playing more with them and probably without much financial gain too. Given the fact that SL doesn't play a lot of test matches compared to ENG,AUS,SA & IND the top quality to players were within their rights to play with BAN & ZIM. In my opinion top class players should not drop their performance levels just because they are playing against a weaker team.(Like what happen to the indians in the 2007 world cup) [[ I think Sri Lankan team can only participate in only what they are offered or available. Do not worry too much. I will not allow any pulling down of Slk cricketers on this basis. Ananth: ]]

  • Sarosh on July 21, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    Ananth, Some comments on Legends of our game can only be described as atrocious. Made by arm-chair critics on the basis of warped stats or some borderline neurotic condition. Some particular commentators seem to have a particular neuroticism against a particular player - so they are simply ignored. [[ Sarosh I agree with you. I tend to give some rope. But would step in the minute the line is crossed. As I have already said, if someone puts down a player for no justification, I will not allow that. For instance I will publish a comment that Tendulkar has under-performed or poorly in the last 8 Tests he played. I myself may say he should retire from ODI games to focus on Tests. But would step in if someone says he is selfish. Ananth: ]] However, there have been some particularly disparaging comments about Richards , Lillee and Wasim Akram in the last few blogs by different and varied commentators. The one against Wasim is the most absurd argument I have ever heard in sport – It seems he was too good !! Well he was (a bowling genius )– None less than Brian Lara regarded him as the best bowler. [[ Too good cannot be a negative comment. Ananth: ]] Foll. A fine comment by “Chris B at July 20, 2012 10:40 AM” – here’s an idea for an analysis which should be an eye-opener. Most players are recalled by their best years. For any great sportsman longevity has to be one of the key considerations. But Longevity is also a double edged weapon. Barring Bradman it is rare for a player to play at the same consistently high level for two decades – day in and day out. Nigh impossible. There will inevitably be players with poor starts, injuries, slumps, bad fades etc. in their careers. Richards had a bad fade. This clearly affected his overall average. Later generations relying purely on stats may cursorily look at a barely 50 average and say what’s the big deal. I realize that you had done peer analysis of players before. One of your best works. But as mentioned, again this can be misleading for later generations. So- What if we do a “Peer analysis of best decade” for both batsmen and bowlers. This covers just about everything about a player – Why observers who saw him regard him as particularly good (how much better than the rest was he over his best decade), covers sufficient longevity to nullify “flukes” or hot streaks, reflects on sustained excellence, almost nullifies playing conditions etc. That should not only open many eyes – but shut a lot of mouths. [[ Excellent idea. I will keep it in my priority list. 10 years is sufficient time to evaluate players. And then the justifications on injury, loss of form etc will not come in. If a player has a best decade, including an injury, wonderful. Another benefit is that the freakish numbers of Bradman may not show a significant change if we take 1929-38 but the difference may very well come down with others. A player's best decade may bring in an average in excess of 65 and may even approach 70. Great comment. Also a no-holds-barred last sentence. One left hook it is. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 21, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    @shrikanthk & @Wasp:

    1. Kapil had a lot of variety but his speed limited his effectiveness. His top speed was likely @85mph early in his career. After 1991, I clearly remember it was @75mph only ... if he hit 81mph at all, that came as a shock in those days.

    2. Kapil limping towards Hadlee's record etc. is a propaganda by media (who never gave him his due). As I have said many times, his woeful phase as a bowler was not the final 4 years (1991-94) but, rather, the middle 4 years (1984-87). Stats:

    1991-94: 21 tests, 58 wkts, ave=28, SR=70. 1984-87: 29 tests, 71 wkts, ave=37, SR=90. [[ No, Alex, this not a media generated story. The facts are given below. From Kapil's Test no 117 (Test # 1200 vs Saf during 1992) to his last Test no 131 (Test # 1255 vs Nzl during 1994), he captured 30 wickets in 15 Tests during this 16-month period. So it is not a story. I agree that the average was fairly stable at around 30 but a tally of 2 WpT is poor. But would never say he was not worth his place in the team. He also scored 500 runs in the 15 Tests, making this an overall acceptable all-rounder period. Ananth: ]] 3. The middle phase had primarily poor opponents & hence should have been most productive. But Ind cricket had unbelievable amount of politics going on at that time. I think SMG's retirement in '87 finally gave Kapil some breathing space and he recovered his touch after that (his batting avg: 37 over '84-'87 and 32 over '91-'95).

  • Meety on July 21, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    @R Tahir - just on umpires. As a young bloke growing up, I'd hear horror stories about umpiring in Pakistan. I remember the Gatting finger pointing incident & at the time thought he was just frustrated by poor umpiring (not excusing him though). Since the great Imran suggested neutral umpires - probably because he was sick & tired of umpiring used as an excuse when his sides won, I find interesting that two of the best three umpires in the world today (by some distance) are..... Pakistanis! I now suspect that the "sub-standard" nature of Paki umpiring was exagerated. [[ Thanks, M, for the kind words. As I have mentioned earlier, only England, with Bird, Constant, Shepherd and Willey can claim to have had a collection of non-controversial and competent umpires. Even today, these mistakes persist, as was seen in the first Slk-Pak Test. DRS would certainly change it. Leave BCCI out of this. If ICC decides to get the entire DRS sponsored and funds the same, DRS can be implemented across the board, with no board having a veto option, and bad umpiring would be history. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on July 20, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Ravi : Fascinating insights on Lillee's show in Pak in 1980! Keep it up!

    Wasp: Nice you brought up Dev. I think a lot of people misjudge Dev based on video footage. His wonderful action and long earnest run-up suggesting a bowler of very high class. I think the problem with Dev was that he wasn't really quick enough except perhaps very early in his career. Very much a medium-fast bowler (probably a notch quicker than Bedser?) in the late 70s-low 80s who "looked" quicker because of that long earnest run-up of his.

    Because of his pace, batsmen could pick his swing comfortably and adjust their strokes. This is my hunch based on all the Dev footage I've seen including the early 80s footage. People who watched him live can corroborate. [[ To my regret I never watched a single Kapil delivery. The bread earning sojourns at different parts of the globe prevented that. And at Lords in 1990 I missed those sixes and watched a feeble 7 on the last day when a Sanjeev Sharma scored 38 off 26. Ananth: ]]

  • SR on July 20, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    P.S: Looks like the pitch/atmosphere had a little something this morning (or SA bowled better). As of now SA are very much back in the game. [[ And SA showed the benefits of patience, a trait the Australians showed often. But those last 50+ runs might still come back and bite. Ananth: ]]

  • dale on July 20, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    Ananth, This is a wonderful presentation of a great analysis.I would pick Marshall and Hadlee regardless of the pitch or the climate.They would be supported by Dennis Lillee with Warne taking the spinners spot. [[ As I have already said I will select between Warne and Murali depending on the location. Ananth: ]]

  • SR on July 20, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    I've been praising Mcgrath in many an article here so its nice to see the numbers backing it up. Because he wasnt express he didnt have the "Wow" factor that a Lillie, Marshall or Donald may have but he did get the results. To publicly name a target before a series and then get him more often than not was amazing.

    Mcgrath/Warne has to be the greatest bowling pair ever (note - I said pair not attack). They both could attack (try to get him out) and defend (not give away runs) at the same time. Toss in the incredible Gilly, the Waughs, Ponting, Hayden and Langer and that was one amazing team. Lastly, Steve Waugh's aggressive captaincy took the shackles off giving them attacking fields and plenty of time to get wickets due to the aggressive scoring.

    Feel privileged to have witnessed it. [[ A bowling pair analysis is due from me. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 20, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    @Wasp and @Ananth:

    1. Wasp has pretty much nailed it on Lillee in Pak. As far as I know, it happened exactly like that.

    2. Zak is not a top-tier bowler but he should be rated a bit better than Vaas due to superior stats in Ind, Oz, Eng, & SA. Vaas, esp. with handy batting, was very useful and excellent bowling stats in SL & Pak and in (NZ, Zim, WI). But his most important away avg are atrocious: 42 (Oz), 78 (Eng), 41 (Ind), 48 (SA).

    3. Vaas' above breakdown shows that SL could not hope to win an away test in these countries with such a strike bowler --- this highlights the burden Murali had to carry throughout. Given this, it is a bit surprising that the top order wkt % of Murali (35%) is not much higher than that of Warne (32%), Gibbs (32%), and is lower than that of Quadir (37%), Laker (37%), Kumble (38%) & O'Reilly (37%). [[ Alex, at the end of the day, we are talking of a bowler who has captured as many wickets as Lillee, albeit at a much lower rate. Also Murali played in only 22 more matches than Vaas (133 vs 111), let us not forget that the number of top order wickets comparison is 280 vs 185 and the number of top order wickets per Test is 2.1 vs 1.65. And these two were not playing for a strong team with a good win record as Warne or Laker or O'Reilly did. Ananth: ]] 4. More than 30% tail wkts are primarily by spinners only (Wasim has 35% but, apparently, no other fast bowler exceeds 32%).

  • Pad Marley on July 20, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    Absolutely wonderful insights to some of the greatest .... If its not been done yet, would you be able to share a similar analysis of "Top 30 batsmen" of all time [not to make it too complicated, choosing top 30 highest career runs Vs top 30 career wicket takes....? and the analysis to show how they have done against each other..... I would be delighted to see that analysis. Do share with me if this has been done already and i have missed .... cheers for your great work! [[ Pad Looks like you are a recent visitor. I suggest, on a Sunday, you go over the archives and look at the articles. Lot of work has been done based on the lines you have suggested. I have done over 150 articles during the past 4 years. The top batsmen cs top bowlers analysis is yet to be done. Let me think over it. The Batsmen analysis similar to this was done last month. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 20, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    @Chris, (I presume you`re not my younger brother btw) I don`t relish the task of putting out brush fires, but I do feel that people on this site shouldn`t get away with unsubstantiated claims or clear untruths.

    re.`Warne never had his injury issues playing SA and Eng from 1996-2001 but only against India?`

    In fact, Warne missed the first 4 Ashes tests in 1998/9, after suffering a shoulder injury in India. He also suffered a shoulder injury in late 2002, which saw him miss the rest of that Ashes tour.

    re.Tendulkar being `forced to play` in 2004 - he managed 10 tests (ave 92) and 20 something ODIs (ave 41). Any injury obviously wasn`t worrying him that much.

    As for the minefield he batted on in Oz in 2004, please tell, the whole tour was a batsman`s paradise - just ask Ricky Ponting or Rahul Dravid...or numerous others.

    I`ve also suffered from tendonitis of the elbow - couldn`t put enough pressure on a pen to write, let alone swing a cricket bat... [[ Ha! my fellow sufferer. As my Ortho told me "Tennis elbow has a mind of its own. It will come and one day go away. just manage it". The younger guy, SRT, in 2004 probably managed it quite well. But I cannot see a guy with Tennis elbow playing 168 balls in 2 Tests. No way. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 20, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    @Ananth - thanks for the adjustment in wording, whilst not removing your own subtle point. Touche!

    @Dr.Talha, without wanting to belabour the point, or tempt the wrath of the author, I would like to ask how any of these figures might indicate a wake-up call for fans of the `very much over-rated Lillie(sic)`. His average wicket batting average (2nd highest amongst the top-25 wicket takers) perhaps? His away-average of 24? His 5.1 wickets per test? [[ I get the feeling that the very poor tour by Lillee of Pakistan in 1980 has probably influenced many a local supporter's thinking. But then as Ravi has effectively pointed out, it was a series for all bowlers to stay from. Anyhow 3 wickets are nothing to judge anyone, least of all, an otherwise great player. Lillee also captured 3 wickets in Slk. But these are just 4 Tests out of 70. Ananth: ]]

  • R Tahir on July 20, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    Just In support of Ananth, All bowlers discussed here were great and had match winning performances on their own, be it Kapil Dev on some dead track, Imran Khans 13 at Sydney outshining Lillee in that test probably Lillee outshined him some other Day, Marshall Killing the oppositions batting, McGrath Winning the day, Kumble or Warne destroying a batting line up on their own. Murali at Oval was it, Willis in his Rhythm. The Point is despite having Not so great averages against certain oppositions, all these bowlers atleast helped defeat their toughest opponent on their day, Kumble destroyed Pakistan many a times despite taking the stick, so did Waqar and Wasim destroy the Australian line up twice once in 94 Karachi, and In Sydney in 95. I am sure each of these bowlers listed helped their team win against their toughest opponents more than once. Even Warne fared great in a series against India in India once. Finally every human has bad days at office even the greats.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 20, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    WS's comment "Even making allowance for Ind pitches...". I think till 1984 there were no problems with Indian pitches. Kapil Dev had twice taken 10 wickets in a match against top opposition. Twice taken 29/30 wickets in a 6 test series in India (Pak, WI). Had a 25 average @ 4 wickets / test. The problems started with the tied test series where i think Kapil Dev went wicketless, often opting not to bowl at all. From there on, it was downhill. But he did well in West Indies in 1989 and Aus in 1991, and his record in these two countries combined is better than many. So really, we are talking about a very poor home record in 1986-94 period, which must have dragged his averages down.

    Chris, to use Alex's phrase, Sachin (no longer Tendulkar for me, since Arjun may also play for India) is "blown out of all proportion". Tennis elbow or not, Sachin was probably not good enough to get on top of McGrath etc. See his performance in our 8-0 thrashing in 2011. (Ananth, only responding, pl note).

  • Chris on July 20, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    @Ananth I took each team for both bowlers and that overall avg.does hide Vaas' away shortcomings.don't think Zaheer has played Ban at home has he ?:) I think this year if the Indians can use their 'brains' a little bit , Zaheer can play 2 tests vs NZ and later some Ranji matches before the Eng series (RCB is not playing CL T20 thankfully) and even play the Aus series. Zaheer has the tendency to play most of the home matches somehow in the last 4-5 years than teh awat matches. I see Zaheer having a good chance of breaking Vaas' record (and the avg.) if he plays till the next 2 years. [[ st probably he would do if his career and injuries could be managed. Anantho: ]] Ananth: ]]

  • Chris on July 20, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    I have noticed from the archives @Gerry_the_Merry always brings up excuses for certain players failures, Injury for Warne, Pitches for Lillee but never mentions Tendulkar's Tennis elbow injury in 2004. he was unfit and was forced to play vs Aus at home. those 2 tests brought his avg. vs Mcgrath & co. down below 40 despite a 50 on a minefield. Warne never had his injury issues playing SA and Eng from 1996-2001 but only against India? funny co-incidence. [[ I take your point but I am only not sure whether Tendulkar played during 2004 with the injury. I have read reports that he had got cured. I may be wrong. As one who is currently battling Tennis Elbow, there is no way anyone can bat with the injury. There are days when even typing is a problem. Ananth: ]]

  • Chris on July 20, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    The first comment mentions using stats to compare Zaheer and Vaas. I noted Vaas DOES NOT better Zaheer with that. It was only at home that Vaas had most of his big spells .India was the only team he never succeeded against at home except the depleted team in 2001. Zaheer comfortably trumps Vaas in most of the away games. Vaas played in early season in England but Zaheer has a way better avg. playing in the drier part. why is that? Neither should be bracketed behind the great Wasim but Vaas having fallen away badly in mid 2000s is certainly behind Zaheer as a left armer. [[ How is it that Zaheer with 288 @ 31.88 is better than Vaas with 355 @ 29.58. And how are Vaas's home wickets down-valued considering the fact that Sri Lanka is in the sub-continent. Both have taken similar top order wickets: Vaas 52% and Zaheer 51%. But a difference of 2 in average is quite significant. Having said that I feel it is not a bad idea to bracket these two game triers. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 20, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    "Why just point fingers on Pakistan. Australia, West Indies, New zealand, India and Pakistan all fared the same in umpiring remember 1990"

    Agree completely. -----

    Kapil Dev is a guy who flummoxes me. From what I've seen of him, he was absolutely top drawer. Great accuracy, consistent, controlled and beautiful outswing and the odd ball coming in off the wicket.

    If i'd looked at him, i'd have anticipated a career ave of under 25.

    Even making allowance for Ind pitches and catching - i'm at a loss to explain why his career figures (overall and in specific conditions) aren't better than they are [[ Kapil in England is probably the best example of what you are telling. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 20, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    at removing the tail more than critique them for not dealing with the top order, though.

    removing the tail is an art in and of itself. Marshall and Lillee weren't very good at it because they'd make the batsman play and miss. The inswing guys (esp with good yorkers) were perfect at rolling 9, 10 jack out. Waqar too was very good.

    Back to Wasim. think the "troubled" players greatness bias (as opposed to getting them out) can be seen in Lillee/Marshall bowling at the tail. [[ One half volley or bouncer to disturb the rhythm might have done the trick. As I write this I see the so called weak bowler, Kallis, delivering the goods. So one could bowl perfect overs but a little bit of thinking and a wise head might be needed. Ananth: ]] They were "too good" and would beat the bat. Wasim (perhaps) did this even to top order players at times. We say "too good" and admire it... but getting wickets is ALWAYS better.

    Who doesn't rave about Steyn's spell to Collingwood a couple years ago - with all those unplayable outswingers that were played and missed at 3-4 times an over? WAY to good and bloody memorable. And ultimately, not effective since the batsman survived.

    "Too good" looks great, but too much of it, isn't a "good" thing

  • Ravi M on July 20, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    Ananth,

    Re: 1980 Aus tour of Pak, 2nd Test

    We might have had more runs per wicket in some of the post-2000 pitches; but back then, for only the second time in Test history a whole side bowled; the previous occasion was Eng v Aus at The Oval in 1884. Am sure, it happened since (maybe during Gayle's 300).

    Not even the in-form spinners could do anything in the 2nd Test. They went from 21 wickets between them in the first Test to ZERO for same amount of runs. Factoring in all that, this was certainly as flat as any.

    Imran's quote was from the book: "My Life in Cricket" by DK.

    Anyway, I'm merely trying to inject something that's often overlooked when it comes to Lillee's career.

    Moving on,

    You opted not to select your bowling attack. I guess I'd go with, McGrath (seam), Marshall (mostly inswing), Lillee (primarily outswing & THAT action), Waqar (reverse & THAT run-up), Warne/Murali (toss a coin). [[ Left to me I would also toss a coin, after making sure that both sides had the name of the bowler who I wanted. In Asia/England, Murali, in Australia/WI/SA, Warne. Ananth: ]] Will play Gilly as keeper, then it's okay to have 5 specialist bowlers I guess!

  • Waspsting on July 20, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    @Alex - I'd speculate tentatively that it was the quality (or lack of) of the outfields in Pak that helped Imran, Was and Waq more than the pitches. Perhaps it got the ball roughed up the way they liked better than other parts of the world?

    Can't say for sure about Imran, but I saw plenty of the 2 W's in Pak. The pitches had nothing for the "normal" pace men - pace, bounce, movement of the wicket. But these guys could swing the ball in the air. Not the strenght of others like Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Pollock, McGrath.

    Also, being inswing bowlers, they would naturally get more LBs than most. Again, 2 W's bowled mainly in neutral era times. Imran possibly benefited from umpiring, but all three suffered from umpiring abroad too (Imran, probably more than any)

    I agree with you that Wasim is a little overrated. Subjective assessments of him seem to me to be based more on "troubling" players as opposed to "getting them out". [[ Maybe Wasim "troubled" and Waqar picked up the cherries. Ananth: ]] I would credit Imran and Was for high skill (cont)

  • Chris B on July 20, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    First of all, thanks for another informative analysis, not too sure what everyone is getting so uptight about.

    Being from NZ Hadlee is my favourite but I accept that in a thorough analysis all players will have their chink (Hadlee's here is his 1976 tour of Pakistan, which is well before he hit his best). In taking this in I think it's important that people consider that this covers a player's entire career, the good and the bad will be brought to light...live with it. [[ Thank you for a bit of common sense. Some loose comments start an unwarranted discussion. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 20, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    @Sopaka - do you remember seeing low mo replays of Vaas' bowling? It seemed to me that the seam position was all over the place - never straight, never pointing in any one direction throughout the ball's journey (like say Sreesanth for straight seam or Steyn for seam at a particular direction). Vaas' seam looked as haphazard as though he just let the ball go without even thinking about the seam. [[ I wish we had a bowler or two with the haphazard seam position and capture 300+ wickets. India (for that matter any country) could do with some. And I would any day trade in 3 Sreesanths for one Vaas. Ananth: ]] Does anyone else remember this?

    Didn't know about Vaas' first over success rate. That's pretty impressive

  • Ravi M on July 20, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    Continuing on 1980 Aus tour of Pak: (ONLY talking about pace bowlers here:)

    Aus #2 paceman Dymock bowled only 51 overs as opposed to 102 from Lillee. Both bowled in 4 innings. Goes on to show how DK Lillee kept on trying.

    In fact, Sarfraz was the only other (pace bowler) to bowl more than 60 overs for the series. Wasim Raja bowled more overs than Imran Khan for the series.

    All the above observations may sound random; but those who actually watched the series would know that Lillee was in fact a better bowler than Imran Khan throughout the series. In addition to escaping from the dreaded 2nd Test, Imran was only used with new ball and either side of breaks and so on. Pakistan had enough belief in their slow bowlers. Whereas, Greg Chappell kept bowling Lillee all day!

    If a seriously misleading info from just ONE series is all it takes to wear down all the achievements of THE REAL father of modern day fast bowling, then .... well, god help us all who claim to be experts! [[ I suggest all of you re-read the last paragraph of my article. The rope I give is going to be short. Imran, Lillee, Wasim are all wonderful bowlers who are good enough to feature in anybody'd list of top-10. Pl do not put down any of these and other bowlers. Then there are counters and counters and we go on. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on July 20, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    Firstly, this work is incredibly thorough even by your inimitable standards, Ananth!

    Moving on, re: DK Lillee:

    Most people who never watched the actual 1980 Aus tour of Pak have this foolish notion that pitches were the same for every series. Pitch was so flat that Imran Khan actually pulled out of the 2nd Test - escaped the flattest wicket ever! Going into the 3rd Test, this was what Imran had to say to a fellow fast bowler:

    'I wouldn't play in this Test if I didn't need the money. It's an absolute mockery of the game. I don't know why you're playing. It's not going to be any good for you or me ... why be a fool?'

    Imran took the most number of wickets for a pace bowler in the series - a whopping tally of 6, followed by Lillee's 3. Pak's #2 paceman Sarfraz took 2 & Aus' #2 Dymock took 1.

    Of those who played in EVERY match, Lillee's average of 100 was the best for a genuine pace bowler in that series.

    [....] [[ Why point to this series only. There have been pitches in Sri Lanka, India, West indies which would make Faisalabad 1980 a decent one. And I am publishing your anecdotes without editing although I have no means to verify these. Let this not degenerate into a Pakistan-bashing-responding thread. I will step in immediately. However this started with the uncharitable remarks on Lillee. Ananth: ]]

  • Syed Ammar Saeed on July 20, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    @Alex: Dissappointed to read your comments about imran (holy status), waseem & waqar. Friend you appear to live in remote location of antarctica ... thats why you even dared to compare the idolship of tendulkar in india to imran's popularity /influence in Pakistan.. no doubt imran enjoyed great position / influence, especially during his playing days..and you may see the epic dismissals by imran to eactly know abt the quality of delivery rather than umpires favour... and you should also remember it was his initiative to appoint neutral umpires...so pls think before you write...and ananth,,, sorry to say but you also did a tame effort to explain the point with no words in favour of one of the great bowlers in cricket history..sorry for any harsh words.. [[ I will make one thing very clear. I am not going to counter every point made in depth. You guys are there to do that. And you are being unnecessarily critical, knowing my views on Pakistan bowlers and my appreciation of their quality. And my strong views on Tendulkar's God-like status in indian cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • Jay on July 20, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    My opinion about top bowler against different team, taking into account average and no. of wickets taken against a particular team:

    Australia - Hadlee Bangladesh - Muralitharan England - Ambrose India - Truman, Donald or Imran Newzealand - Underwood Pakistan - Warne South Africa - Muralitharan Sri Lanka - Hadlee or Imran West Indies - Mcgrath Zimbabwe - Muralitharan

    Murali comes thrice thanks to his too many wickets against Zimbabwe & BD and that also very cheaply.

  • R Tahir on July 20, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    Great Article. With respect to the Pakistani bowling attack just try and calculate the stats of dropped catches of Waseem Akram and Waqar anywhere in the world so much and so that they were forced to rely on bowled's and lbw's same was the case with Imran, till date Pakistan has to be the worst fielding side in the world. And another reference to biased umpiring who was the first person to bring in Neutral Umpires in the World, or does anyone remember Imran Khan giving another opportunity to Srikanth in Pakistan and Doshi was called back again to bat. Why just point fingers on Pakistan. Australia, West Indies, New zealand, India and Pakistan all fared the same in umpiring remember 1990 Pakistan chasing 300+ at Melbourne 7 Lbws even Cric Info's Almanack report points to it 5 or 7 lbw's in second innings, or has everyone forgot Tendulkar being given LBW on after being hit by a bouncer, the best umpires despite few black sheep came from England. Once More Great Article great Research. [[ One thing I certainly agree with. Poor umpiring was not just the domain of Pakistani umpires. It was everywhere. I can only think of England as coming close to decent umpiring standards throughout. Ananth: ]]

  • Edward Green on July 20, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    Two words - George Lohmann

    The ICC rankings place him as having the second greatest peak bowler rating in history, I know he played just 18 tests in his short life - but with an average of under nine. [[ I know Lohmann's figures by heart. His average is 10.76. But he does not fit into this analysis. I have specifically excluded the pre-WW1 bowlers other than Barnes. If that devalues this analysis, so be it. Why then stop at Lohmann. What about Turner, Peel, Briggs, Blythe who all had sub-19 averages. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 20, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    Ananth, I think it is a mistake to have top, middle and lower order wickets. I think it has to be T7 or B3 only. The numbers represent the position in the batting order. The instances in which a Tony Mann or Winston Davis would have screwed up the batting order will be too few. Then it would give a better picture. The data is already there in your files, so we can easily compute this (cant do at work, must do it at home over weekend)... [[ Gerry This is primarily a vs-Countries and Home/Away, First/Second inninga analysis. The Top order wicksts etc has been provided as addl info. Pl do not lose sight of that fact. I don't want the tail wagging the dog. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on July 20, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    Ananth,

    What is Bowling equivalent of G Sobers's inexpicable batting performances in NewZealand ? Warne in India(34 wkts @43.1 - 3 tours) or Murli in India (45 wkts @ 45.0 - 3 tours) or Vaas in England (9wkts @ 77.7 - 2 tours) ?

    none of the above bowler can complain about unhelpful pitches. [[ Flintoff's home average of 36+ probably. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on July 20, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    @Gerry_the_Merry

    I agree with you that it is unfair to blame Lille in Pakistan in 1980.Lille bowled magnificiently on certain flat tracks at the Oval and Melbourne and would overshadow Richard Hadlee on flat surfaces.Overall Lilee was more hostile than any pace bowler and posessed a repertoire which would have won him the battle on the sub-continent tracks.Even Mcgrath,who has 71 scalps on the sub-continent was not as complete a paceman as Lillee.It is always fair to add Lillee's Packer stats where he dominated great teams and still took 79 wickets in 15 supertests.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 20, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    My overall list of rating of pacemen combining skill with performances 1.Marshall 2.Lillee 3.Barnes 4.Imran 5.Hadlee 6.Mcgrath 7.Akram. 8.Lindwall 9.Ambrose 10.Waqar Younus

    Marshall edges Lillee because of marginally better skill and the fact that he overshadowed the other great West Indian paceman Sydney Barnes figures were the greatest of any bowler ever. Imran is rated above Hadlee because his greater prowess on flat tracks and greater agression when the batting side was trying to destroy the bowling.Lindwall and Akram posessed greater skill than even Lillee.Ambrose,was the best match-winner in 4th innings and a champion on broken tracks.Waqar Younus's stats speak for themselves.Wasim is rated higher than Ambrose as he championed the dead Asian wickets and is ahead of Waqar as he performed better against the strong teams.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 20, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    My list in statistical performances in order of merit of pace bowlers. 1.Richard Hadlee 2.Imran Khan 3.Dennis Lillee 4.Malcom Marshall 5.Glen Mcgrath 6.Curtly Ambroes 7.Waqar Younus 8.Wasim Akram 9.Fred Trueman 10.Alan Donald.

    Never forget the match performances where Lillee was the top in your first analysis Ananth and just marginally 2nd in the 2nd corrected analysis.Lillee also captured 103 wickets combining Packer cricket and games for Rest of the World.Lillee performed oustandingly on flat quickest at Melbourne in 1977 and 1979-80 and at the Oval in 1981,capturing over 10 wickets in all.I think playing for champion teams boosted the career performance ratings of Marshall and Mcgrath but lowered their match performance ratings.Ambrose captured more top order wickets than Wasim as well and so did Waqar.Ambrose was the best match-winner in 4th innings .Wasim had more lower order wicket,especially of tail enders.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 20, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    Ananth,good work and I praise your effort.

    In my evaluation if I had to select 5 bowlers in a team my combination would be Malcolm Marshall ,Wasim Akram,Glen Mcgrath,Joel Garner and Shane Warne.Garner was the king in accuracy.Wasim Akram was the most versatile whose left arm bowling would give the attack the perfect variety.Marshall posessed every component of a great pace bowler like Lillee,combining lethal pace with control and swing.Mcgrath, posessed more control than any pace bowler with Hadlee,but had greater variations and bounce than him.Shane Warne,was the bestmatch-winning spinner of all with his phenomenal turn.This combination posesses lethal pace,accuracy,control,versatility and turn.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 20, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    ctavare, Pakistan pitches were very poor pitches for batting whenever the West Indies toured, because Imran (and in 1980, when he wasnt yet captain, the Pak establishment) had the theory that on underprepared wickets, WI pacemen would not prosper, whereas Pak pacemen with their expertise of bowling in these conditions and their spinners would.

    This theory was demolished by two factors 1) in 1980, WI discovered Sylvester Clarke, who actually moved ahead of Croft in the pecking order, and more than made up for the absence of Holding and Roberts on that tour, and showcased the depth of WI bowling and 2) in 1980/86/91, the WI pacemen were so fast,of such high quality, and the pitches so poor for batting that they were actually at an advantage vis a vis Pak batsmen.

    But when Lillee toured, Pak in 1980, Pak pitches were not engineered like this, and were batting paradises. If Lillee had got the tracks that the West Indies quicks got, he would have torn through Pakistan.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 20, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Ananth, very happy with your appraisal of Marshall as the best performed bowler against every country.Arguably,combining bowling skill with statistical performance Marshall is the best pace bowler of all,followed by Dennis Lillee in a photo finish.In pure performance analysis Richard Hadlee would win my vote just nosing out Imran Khan.Imran's performances on docile sub-continent tracks and against the mighty West Indies has to be accounted for plus the fact that in his peak years he performed better than any paceman of the modern age in terms of strike rate and average.In matches won Hadlee and Imran have the best averages.

    If you take out match performances and evaluate career performances Marshall and Mcgrath are at the top.Personally,Ananth,I may place Wasim Akram in the top 6 as he was stats wise ahead of any great paceman in his peak years,championed the sub-continent tracks and was a better performer against the stronger teams than Waqar Younus. [[ If you select a short-list of 10/12 top bowlers, I think you could virtually take any 3 pace + 1 spin and have a very formidable attack. Think of Marshall, McGrath, Lillee, Murali or Hadlee, Wasim, Ambrose, O'Reilly or Waqar, Imran, Donald, Warne.. All three are terrific attacks. The point is that with none of the top-12 are we dealing with anything below top class. Ananth: ]]

  • ctavare on July 20, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    Pakistan is amongst the toughest places to bowl for fast bowlers. Lillee did notoriously poorly there. Marshall, Imran and Donald look good in this respect. [[ Not necessarily A. As Alex has mentioned the three Pakistani greats have averages below 22 at home. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. Talha on July 20, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    Gr8 article ananth!! Surely an eye opener for all Lillie fans. Very much over-rated bowler. And good to see that Pakistan is the only team in the world who has three fast bowlers (Imran, wasim & Waqar) with more than 350 wickets and an average of less than 24. [[ Imran, Wasim and Waqar, supported by the peerless Qadir is an attack I would prefer even to the 1980 West Indians and 200x Australians. Ananth: ]]

  • srini on July 20, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    I understand 43% and 50% are different but the point I was trying to make is that fast bowlers open the bowling against the top order with a new ball and a fresh pitch. 40% of the total available wickets are top order batsman and I am guessing most of them will face fast bowlers more often than not. So, while it being a great achievement, it is also kind of intuitively expected (at least a % greater than 40 imo). [[ No problems with that. It is when all factors are considered: the low average, the % of top order wickets, the high average of wkt-batting-average (31.09) that we conclude on the greatness of McGrath. The 50+% is the icing on the cake. Ananth: ]] It's quite surprising that Kapil Dev averages almost 40 in Eng-NZ. Extremely high for a more than capable (!!) swing/seam bowler. For a guy who averages 23 in WI against a much much better batting line up than the Anglo-Kiwi line ups this is quite extraordinary (in a bad sense). [[ 79 and 86 were good. But 82 and 90 were quite poor for Kapil in England. Ananth: ]]

  • Uday on July 20, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    Great article Ananth, although are we not reading too much into the top order wickets (which Im assuming are the openers) analysis?

    Firstly, top order wickets are certainly valuable as you said, but this perhaps gets offset by the fact that many teams' best batsmen come in at 3 and 4 [[ You are a little bit confused by the term Top order wickets. These are not to be confused with Opening batsmen. Explained below. Top order: 1-4 Middle order: 5-7 Late order: 8-11. Ananth: ]] Secondly, Im guessing the value you refer to is early wickets rather than top order wickets. Getting cook after he has scored a hundred would be no more valuable than getting Trott after his hundred (although admittedly, Mcgrath, Donald and Ambrose got many of their top order scalps fairly cheaply). I'd be interested in seeing a piece concentrating specifically on particular value adds (eg. which opening bowlers are best at getting early wickets, or which bowlers are best at getting rid of the tail)

    Thirdly, since spinners almost never bowl in the first 15 overs, they would be unfairly prejudiced in this analysis. Warne's numbers are unsurprising given Mcgrath's excellence at the top of the order. [[ Does not matter as long as it is understood. Every analysis cannot do justice to everyone. Ananth: ]]

  • Sopaka on July 20, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    I also know that Vass has the highest number of first over wickets. Clearly indicating the incredible control he possessed.

    @ Waspsting, are you sure about the "lesser control of seam position" thingy?

  • Ravi Sharma on July 19, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    While home/away is a good measure, I would like to see wickets and average on similar similar pitches. For instance, how many wickets a pace bowler takes on non-subcontinetal wickets versus sub-continental wickets. This is where perhaps you will discover that the WI bowlers were truly the best. They played in India and did well. While there are some disadvatnages to playing overseas, a bowler like Warne would have been better off bowling in India than in Australia. Similarly, batsmen ave. at home should be evaluated based on not just home or away but the type of bowling on the particular type of wicket eg. Warne vs Sachin in India. While it seems like Sachin has a home advantage, Warne had a "spin-wicket" advantage. [[ You seem to have missed the entire collection of articles on Bowling performances based on pitch and batsmen quality which came out last year and early this . Please look at 2011-12 archives. And please do not send your comment 10 times. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 19, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    @Ananth and @Wasp: It would be nice to have a filter for the quality of top-order wkts (BD top order is much weaker than Oz). Modulo that, note this: [[ A top order wkt is a top order wicket, irrespective of the team. Then the vexed question of dismissing Tendulkar at 100 vs dismissing Tamim Iqbal at 5 will crop up. Anyhow there is a column called "average of batting average of wickets" in the Excel sheet which will give you a clear idea of the quality of wickets captured. A judicious combination of these fields can create great insights. Ananth: ]] 1. Pak bowlers receive a lot of praise for having great figures despite bowling in the subcontinent. This analysis blows that myth away --- in Pak, Imran averages 19, Wasim 23, and Waqar 21: these are well below their career figures. So, clearly, either the wkts or the umpires were conducive to them. We all know that Imran was treated like a God in Pak his playing days --- SRT's stature in today's India pales in comparison.

    2. % of top wkts of Imran & Wasim is merely 37 & 39. In contrast, it is 44 for Waqar, 46 for Hadlee, 50 for Kapil, 51 for Snow, 43 for Steyn, 46 for Sobers(!!), 51 for Zaheer, 51 for Chris Martin, 46 for Holding, 48 for Bishop, etc. This again supports my belief that Wasim, as great as he was, is not as great as he is made out to be. IMO, his stature has been blows out of proportion much like SMG's. [[ Why bring in SMG into this. The presence of three top pace bowlers at the same time may cause this drop. Ananth: ]]

  • Santosh Sequeira on July 19, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Every time I read your article we seem to lose a bollywood icon here in India, last time I remember it was Dev Anand, this time its Kakaji. May his soul rest in peace. [[ Dev was Dev. But I can understand the charisma and the success quotient of RK. Ananth: ]] About the article, i think its a good one. One observation, in the "Bowler Analysis-All matches, Opposing country", Joel Garner's and Curtly Ambrose's stats are mirror images for the countries they have both played against. India seem to have had a measure of them both, I wonder if there's a pattern here with the Indians playing the ball coming down from 10 ft better than most :). Would be interesting to see Walsh's stats with the same parameters since even he belonged to the 10 ft club.

    Regards

    Santosh [[ Could it be because of the generally shorter stature of the Indian batsmen. The tall bowlers found it difficult to bowl against the 5' nothing batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • srini on July 19, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    "McGrath's consistency across locations and innings and his 50% top order wickets tally are amazing achievements."

    From this list 22 bowlers are F/MFBs. Apart from Kallis Akram & Botham most of them have a top order wickets % of more 43-44%. I think this is expected as they get the fresh pitch and new ball. So, McGrath's 50% is not really exceptional but otherwise a flawless cricketer. Definitely cricketer of the first 13 years of this century. [[ We must understand that 43 and 50 are not that close. 15% difference. Also think of how we view a 50+ avge batsman and a 40+ batsman. Not really comparable. But I am saying that each % above 45 seems to be tough. Think of it this way. The two other quality pace bowlers have shared 50% top order wickets when McGrath played. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 19, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Well, comprehensive even by your remarkable standards Ananth-san. A little busy at the moment with the much awaited, but currently slightly underwhelming, SAf vs Eng test series (Trott and Cook partnerships are a bit of a struggle, even for a purist such as myself), but a couple of early observations... [[ 500 in the first innings looks likely. And knowing the South African propensity to crack, England might very well go one-up. Swann would be a force over the last three days. Ananth: ]] Firstly, you`ve mentioned before that you have absolutely no input into the selection of photographs that head your articles, but the `all but horizontal Marshall` is an absolute cracker - one for the study wall (I presume he doesn`t end up face down on the pitch post delivery). [[ I think this made up for the previous, rather awful, picture of Kumble. Ananth: ]] Secondly, re. `if Warne did not get more Bangladeshi/Zimbabwe wickets, it was because he chose to stay away, for his own valid reasons.` - a touch unfair , no? Australia have played fewer tests against Bang/Zim than any other team (4/3 respectively. SL in comparison have played 15/12). Warne played in 3 of those tests (17 wickets), for the others he was enjoying an ICC sanctioned `holiday`. Dietary reasons? [[ My apologies, David. Pl see the corrected text. Ananth: ]] Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 19, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    Lot of info to take in all at once (as is usual for one of Ananth's pieces). Let me get back piecemeal after digesting it a bit.

    just throwing out Bill Johnston to Charith and Ananth's discussion on left arm paceman.

    From 47-53 (before a fielding accident took away his edge), he was up there with the best in the world (far ahead of where Reid ever was)

    For that period -

    Johnston 132 wickets @ 21.75 Lindwall 112 wickets @ 20.47 Miller 89 wickets @ 20.83 [[ Johnston's albatross is his 100+ batting average. His bowling skills have generally been forgotten. He probably should be in the short list. Ananth: ]] Vaas was an interesting bowler. I don't think i've ever seen a bowler with less control of the seam position - yet he still got the ball to swing! Pretty sharp when he was brand new too, (remember him hitting a batsman on the head in his debut series, can't remember who)

    Wasim was NEVER ranked #1 in the world! Rankings aren't everything, but I find this VERY strange for a guy who's often included in all time world elevens, and touted as arguably the greatest bowler ever. [[ Wasim bowled in tandem with some of the greatest bowlers the world has ever seen. Maybe that is the reason. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 19, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    Very nice. I would like to do the following. Construct a performance index of all bowlers with the following 1) relative performance against each country (i.e. avg as a % of all bowler average) with a fixed 10% weightage for each country instead of the actual bowler specific weightage, which will remove career path differentials 2) home away factor from your tables in a form of a +- 5% smear 3) Ist / IInd inn factor with a +- 5% smear and 4) top order / middle / lower order weighted avg. [[ You have all the data !!! Ananth: ]] My question is, what averages should i assume for top/middle/lower order? That would enable this factor to be also quantified. [[ Intriguing. The score at which the batsman was dismissed is not relevant in this. The only way out is to take a spell of say, 6 for 80 and allocate this as 3 for 58, 2 for 18 and 1 for 4, allocating the 80 based on the % of runs scored by 1-4, 5-7 and 8-11 within the innings. Tough job but can be done. Anyhow let us wait for some more inputs. (Minor correction done). Ananth: ]]

  • charith on July 19, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    great to see vaas mentioned several times in the article.As a lankan i was privileged to watch lara's epic performance during sl tour.lots of people remember it as lara vs muraly but lara vs vaas was the forgotten battle.The way vaas used reverse swing was amazing and the way lara counterattacked was even better to watch. A lot of people rate zaheer as the next best left arm bowler after wasim from asia but i feel given the stats vaas was only second to wasim. He never seemed to get injured too. As always very nice work ananth. [[ Vaas always played under the all-encompassing shadow of Murali just as Chandrapal with Lara. Chanderpal has at least had the last five years after the (almost forced) exit of Lara. Vaas has not had that benefit. However one thing is certain. Vaas was as important to Srilanka and Murali as Chander was to Lara. A truly under-rated bowler. In my opinion those who talk of any recent bowler as the successor to Wasim Akram are not aware of history. Davidson was way ahead of anyone but Wasim. And then there was Reid. Ananth: ]]

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  • charith on July 19, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    great to see vaas mentioned several times in the article.As a lankan i was privileged to watch lara's epic performance during sl tour.lots of people remember it as lara vs muraly but lara vs vaas was the forgotten battle.The way vaas used reverse swing was amazing and the way lara counterattacked was even better to watch. A lot of people rate zaheer as the next best left arm bowler after wasim from asia but i feel given the stats vaas was only second to wasim. He never seemed to get injured too. As always very nice work ananth. [[ Vaas always played under the all-encompassing shadow of Murali just as Chandrapal with Lara. Chanderpal has at least had the last five years after the (almost forced) exit of Lara. Vaas has not had that benefit. However one thing is certain. Vaas was as important to Srilanka and Murali as Chander was to Lara. A truly under-rated bowler. In my opinion those who talk of any recent bowler as the successor to Wasim Akram are not aware of history. Davidson was way ahead of anyone but Wasim. And then there was Reid. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on July 19, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    Very nice. I would like to do the following. Construct a performance index of all bowlers with the following 1) relative performance against each country (i.e. avg as a % of all bowler average) with a fixed 10% weightage for each country instead of the actual bowler specific weightage, which will remove career path differentials 2) home away factor from your tables in a form of a +- 5% smear 3) Ist / IInd inn factor with a +- 5% smear and 4) top order / middle / lower order weighted avg. [[ You have all the data !!! Ananth: ]] My question is, what averages should i assume for top/middle/lower order? That would enable this factor to be also quantified. [[ Intriguing. The score at which the batsman was dismissed is not relevant in this. The only way out is to take a spell of say, 6 for 80 and allocate this as 3 for 58, 2 for 18 and 1 for 4, allocating the 80 based on the % of runs scored by 1-4, 5-7 and 8-11 within the innings. Tough job but can be done. Anyhow let us wait for some more inputs. (Minor correction done). Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 19, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    Lot of info to take in all at once (as is usual for one of Ananth's pieces). Let me get back piecemeal after digesting it a bit.

    just throwing out Bill Johnston to Charith and Ananth's discussion on left arm paceman.

    From 47-53 (before a fielding accident took away his edge), he was up there with the best in the world (far ahead of where Reid ever was)

    For that period -

    Johnston 132 wickets @ 21.75 Lindwall 112 wickets @ 20.47 Miller 89 wickets @ 20.83 [[ Johnston's albatross is his 100+ batting average. His bowling skills have generally been forgotten. He probably should be in the short list. Ananth: ]] Vaas was an interesting bowler. I don't think i've ever seen a bowler with less control of the seam position - yet he still got the ball to swing! Pretty sharp when he was brand new too, (remember him hitting a batsman on the head in his debut series, can't remember who)

    Wasim was NEVER ranked #1 in the world! Rankings aren't everything, but I find this VERY strange for a guy who's often included in all time world elevens, and touted as arguably the greatest bowler ever. [[ Wasim bowled in tandem with some of the greatest bowlers the world has ever seen. Maybe that is the reason. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on July 19, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Well, comprehensive even by your remarkable standards Ananth-san. A little busy at the moment with the much awaited, but currently slightly underwhelming, SAf vs Eng test series (Trott and Cook partnerships are a bit of a struggle, even for a purist such as myself), but a couple of early observations... [[ 500 in the first innings looks likely. And knowing the South African propensity to crack, England might very well go one-up. Swann would be a force over the last three days. Ananth: ]] Firstly, you`ve mentioned before that you have absolutely no input into the selection of photographs that head your articles, but the `all but horizontal Marshall` is an absolute cracker - one for the study wall (I presume he doesn`t end up face down on the pitch post delivery). [[ I think this made up for the previous, rather awful, picture of Kumble. Ananth: ]] Secondly, re. `if Warne did not get more Bangladeshi/Zimbabwe wickets, it was because he chose to stay away, for his own valid reasons.` - a touch unfair , no? Australia have played fewer tests against Bang/Zim than any other team (4/3 respectively. SL in comparison have played 15/12). Warne played in 3 of those tests (17 wickets), for the others he was enjoying an ICC sanctioned `holiday`. Dietary reasons? [[ My apologies, David. Pl see the corrected text. Ananth: ]] Ananth: ]]

  • srini on July 19, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    "McGrath's consistency across locations and innings and his 50% top order wickets tally are amazing achievements."

    From this list 22 bowlers are F/MFBs. Apart from Kallis Akram & Botham most of them have a top order wickets % of more 43-44%. I think this is expected as they get the fresh pitch and new ball. So, McGrath's 50% is not really exceptional but otherwise a flawless cricketer. Definitely cricketer of the first 13 years of this century. [[ We must understand that 43 and 50 are not that close. 15% difference. Also think of how we view a 50+ avge batsman and a 40+ batsman. Not really comparable. But I am saying that each % above 45 seems to be tough. Think of it this way. The two other quality pace bowlers have shared 50% top order wickets when McGrath played. Ananth: ]]

  • Santosh Sequeira on July 19, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Every time I read your article we seem to lose a bollywood icon here in India, last time I remember it was Dev Anand, this time its Kakaji. May his soul rest in peace. [[ Dev was Dev. But I can understand the charisma and the success quotient of RK. Ananth: ]] About the article, i think its a good one. One observation, in the "Bowler Analysis-All matches, Opposing country", Joel Garner's and Curtly Ambrose's stats are mirror images for the countries they have both played against. India seem to have had a measure of them both, I wonder if there's a pattern here with the Indians playing the ball coming down from 10 ft better than most :). Would be interesting to see Walsh's stats with the same parameters since even he belonged to the 10 ft club.

    Regards

    Santosh [[ Could it be because of the generally shorter stature of the Indian batsmen. The tall bowlers found it difficult to bowl against the 5' nothing batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 19, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    @Ananth and @Wasp: It would be nice to have a filter for the quality of top-order wkts (BD top order is much weaker than Oz). Modulo that, note this: [[ A top order wkt is a top order wicket, irrespective of the team. Then the vexed question of dismissing Tendulkar at 100 vs dismissing Tamim Iqbal at 5 will crop up. Anyhow there is a column called "average of batting average of wickets" in the Excel sheet which will give you a clear idea of the quality of wickets captured. A judicious combination of these fields can create great insights. Ananth: ]] 1. Pak bowlers receive a lot of praise for having great figures despite bowling in the subcontinent. This analysis blows that myth away --- in Pak, Imran averages 19, Wasim 23, and Waqar 21: these are well below their career figures. So, clearly, either the wkts or the umpires were conducive to them. We all know that Imran was treated like a God in Pak his playing days --- SRT's stature in today's India pales in comparison.

    2. % of top wkts of Imran & Wasim is merely 37 & 39. In contrast, it is 44 for Waqar, 46 for Hadlee, 50 for Kapil, 51 for Snow, 43 for Steyn, 46 for Sobers(!!), 51 for Zaheer, 51 for Chris Martin, 46 for Holding, 48 for Bishop, etc. This again supports my belief that Wasim, as great as he was, is not as great as he is made out to be. IMO, his stature has been blows out of proportion much like SMG's. [[ Why bring in SMG into this. The presence of three top pace bowlers at the same time may cause this drop. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi Sharma on July 19, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    While home/away is a good measure, I would like to see wickets and average on similar similar pitches. For instance, how many wickets a pace bowler takes on non-subcontinetal wickets versus sub-continental wickets. This is where perhaps you will discover that the WI bowlers were truly the best. They played in India and did well. While there are some disadvatnages to playing overseas, a bowler like Warne would have been better off bowling in India than in Australia. Similarly, batsmen ave. at home should be evaluated based on not just home or away but the type of bowling on the particular type of wicket eg. Warne vs Sachin in India. While it seems like Sachin has a home advantage, Warne had a "spin-wicket" advantage. [[ You seem to have missed the entire collection of articles on Bowling performances based on pitch and batsmen quality which came out last year and early this . Please look at 2011-12 archives. And please do not send your comment 10 times. Ananth: ]]

  • Sopaka on July 20, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    I also know that Vass has the highest number of first over wickets. Clearly indicating the incredible control he possessed.

    @ Waspsting, are you sure about the "lesser control of seam position" thingy?

  • Uday on July 20, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    Great article Ananth, although are we not reading too much into the top order wickets (which Im assuming are the openers) analysis?

    Firstly, top order wickets are certainly valuable as you said, but this perhaps gets offset by the fact that many teams' best batsmen come in at 3 and 4 [[ You are a little bit confused by the term Top order wickets. These are not to be confused with Opening batsmen. Explained below. Top order: 1-4 Middle order: 5-7 Late order: 8-11. Ananth: ]] Secondly, Im guessing the value you refer to is early wickets rather than top order wickets. Getting cook after he has scored a hundred would be no more valuable than getting Trott after his hundred (although admittedly, Mcgrath, Donald and Ambrose got many of their top order scalps fairly cheaply). I'd be interested in seeing a piece concentrating specifically on particular value adds (eg. which opening bowlers are best at getting early wickets, or which bowlers are best at getting rid of the tail)

    Thirdly, since spinners almost never bowl in the first 15 overs, they would be unfairly prejudiced in this analysis. Warne's numbers are unsurprising given Mcgrath's excellence at the top of the order. [[ Does not matter as long as it is understood. Every analysis cannot do justice to everyone. Ananth: ]]