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September 15, 2012

Test players: a look into their best decades

Anantha Narayanan
Imran Khan has the best adjusted average in a decade  © Getty Images
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In a passing comment, Sarosh Nayyar requested that I do an analysis of the best decade for a player and compare the results across the players. It seemed a very intriguing request. I realized that this had the makings of a, hitherto not attempted, unique analysis, when I started looking at it deeply. The possibilities were immense. There was a scenario in which we could get a batsman-decade which was closer than the 40% gap between Bradman and Sutcliffe, which itself was a great incentive.

And ten years is a long enough period to draw conclusions with sufficient weight. We also agreed that the raw numbers had to be adjusted for the specific decade's peer numbers, during our exchange of views. The complex mechanism to determine the peer averages between any two Tests was already in place. It is indeed a tricky exercise and I have been working on-and-off for nearly a month now. The complexities are summarised below.

1. How does one handle the six-year voids which were caused by the two World Wars? The careers of some great players like Barnes and Verity were curtailed and the careers of top players such as Hobbs, Bradman, Hammond, Hutton, Compton et al got disrupted. I had to find a satisfactory methodology which handled this effectively.

2. This is predominantly a performance analysis: hence the decade has to be strictly defined. At the same time the careers of Pietersen (Twitter-gaffes notwithstanding), Cook, Gambhir et al, which might fall short of the qualifying ten-year periods, have to be recognized.

3. The peer adjustment has to be crisp and clear and has to make a telling impact. While the bowling comparisons have to be across the board, the batting peer comparisons have to be restricted to the Top-7 batsmen.

Keeping these in mind, I have worked on the following criteria and methodology.

1. The decade is strictly and exactly defined, match to match. There are very few exceptions to the 10-year requirement which are explained below.

2. The war-years, as far this analysis is concerned, are just wiped off. How I wish I could move the clock back and do it in real life. Millions of lives could have been saved!!! Enough of this wishful thinking. Tests 134 and 135 are, in real life, around six-plus years apart. As do the Tests 274 and 275. But this period is reduced to nothing as far as this analysis is concerned. In other words, the period 1908-1922 becomes eight years or thereabout. Similarly 1938-1954 is equivalent to ten years.

3. S.F.Barnes played his last Test during 1914 and did not play thereafter. And his best years were between 1907 and 1914. Hence the period of seven years has been accepted for him. Verity played his last Test in 1939 and then died on the battle-fields. His entire career lasted eight years from 1931 to 1939. Hence this has been considered valid. Note the subtle differences between the careers of these two great bowlers.

4. It was indeed fortunate that Bradman's best decade was between 1929 and 1939. So no problems. However the best years for Hobbs, Hammond and Hutton, spanned the wars and their "decades" are allowed to go past 10 years.

5. For the best performance analysis, no concession is given to anyone else, including the recent players. However for the total runs/wickets analysis it really does not matter if the career has lasted below 10 years.

6. The Top-7 Batting average for the specific range of Tests is considered for peer comparisons. This is compared to the all-time Top-7 Batting average of 35.92 and then adjusted. Couple of examples will explain this.

The average for Kallis is a very high 66.13, between 2001 and 2011, when the T7-Avge for all players, other than Kallis, was 39.03. So his average is adjusted to 60.86 (66.13 x 35.92 / 39.03). On the other side, Harvey averaged 54.40 between 1948 and 1958 when the T7-Avge for all players, except Harvey, was 33.80. So his average is adjusted to 57.82 (54.40 x 35.92 / 33.80).

7. For peer comparisons the all-inclusive Bowling average for the specific range of Tests is taken. This is compared to the all-time all-inclusive Bowling average which is 32.0. This is necessary because the wickets are captured across all batting positions.

Harbhajan's best decade average was a somewhat high 29.92 between 1999 and 2009 when the Bowling Avge for all bowlers, sans Harbhajan, was at a higher level of 34.08. So his average is adjusted to 28.09 (29.92 x 32.0 / 34.08). On the other hand, Laker averaged 18.56 at his peak between 1949 and 1959, a bowler-dominated decade, during which the Bowling Avge for all bowlers, other than Laker, was a low 29.4. So his average is adjusted to 20.20 (18.56 x 32.0 / 29.4)

Batsman best decade analysis: Based on adjusted average

Batsman Adjust <<<< Best Decade >>>> # of Inns NO Runs Avge Peer Values
Name Avge StMat StYear EndMat EnYear Yrs T7-Avg T7-Oth
 
Bradman D.G 103.93 180 1929 271 1939 10 51 5 4785 104.02 37.37 35.95
Sobers 73.75 450 1958 631 1968 10 78 12 4821 73.04 35.97 35.57
Hobbs J.B 70.65 117 1912 167 1926 14 55 4 3326 65.21 34.47 33.15
Walcott C.L 66.43 304 1948 458 1958 10 64 6 3581 61.74 33.75 33.38
EdeC Weekes 64.97 297 1948 451 1958 10 73 4 4222 61.18 34.30 33.83
Tendulkar 63.19 1201 1992 1628 2002 10 138 14 7744 62.45 35.75 35.50
Barrington 61.81 409 1955 592 1965 10 90 11 4710 59.62 34.94 34.65
Sutcliffe H 61.60 153 1924 233 1934 10 76 8 4235 62.27 37.01 36.31
Hutton L 61.25 263 1938 387 1954 16 119 15 6538 62.86 37.46 36.86
Kallis J.H 60.86 1562 2001 2006 2011 10 165 29 8995 66.13 39.18 39.03
Ponting R.T 60.13 1426 1998 1887 2008 10 172 25 9192 62.53 37.53 37.35
Richards 59.39 768 1976 1034 1986 10 97 5 5372 58.39 35.62 35.31
Hammond W.R 58.77 244 1935 284 1947 12 54 7 3025 64.36 40.07 39.34
Waugh S.R 58.13 1236 1993 1669 2003 10 163 30 7697 57.87 35.84 35.76
Dravid R 58.08 1344 1996 1820 2006 10 168 22 8710 59.65 37.06 36.89
Hayden M.L 57.96 1252 1994 1684 2004 10 85 8 4489 58.29 36.24 36.12
Harvey R.N 57.82 295 1948 448 1958 10 85 6 4298 54.40 34.16 33.80
Boycott G 57.78 627 1968 815 1978 10 74 10 3737 58.39 36.46 36.30
Simpson R.B 57.69 553 1964 729 1974 10 50 3 2768 58.89 36.88 36.67
Hill C 57.39 53 1897 96 1907 10 57 2 2411 43.83 28.21 27.43
Chappell 56.41 679 1971 895 1981 10 113 14 5571 56.27 36.04 35.83
Compton 55.71 282 1947 436 1957 10 105 10 5029 52.93 34.45 34.13
Border A.R 55.48 944 1983 1209 1993 10 147 27 6733 56.10 36.40 36.32
Mohd Yousuf 55.43 1502 2000 1962 2010 10 111 10 6037 59.77 38.87 38.74
J Miandad 55.42 937 1982 1196 1992 10 101 8 5205 55.96 36.50 36.27
Hendren E.H 55.22 153 1924 233 1934 10 57 8 2771 56.55 37.01 36.78
Sangakkara 54.88 1537 2001 1991 2011 10 142 12 7756 59.66 39.22 39.05
Worrell 54.77 296 1948 449 1958 10 57 5 2691 51.75 34.11 33.94
Gavaskar 54.10 683 1971 898 1981 10 123 8 6180 53.73 35.99 35.68
Crowe M.D 54.01 1003 1984 1278 1994 10 97 10 4756 54.66 36.50 36.35

Bradman's best decade was between 1929 and 1939, as expected. The adjusted batting average is 103.93 (unadjusted avge 104.02), which is around 4% above his career batting average. This indicates that virtually any decade of Bradman is likely to produce a number around 100. Sobers, whose adjusted average is a magnificent 73.75 (73.04), between 1958 and 1968 is in second place. It is the first time a player, over a long period of 10 years, comes within 30% of Bradman. Hobbs, with a best decade spread across the WW1 (1912 to 1926) is next with 70.65 (65.21). Walcott and Weekes follow, with adjusted averages either side of 65.

Tendulkar, with a best decade of 1992 to 2002, appears next in the list with 63.19 (62.45), followed by the old-timers, Barrington, Sutcliffe and Hutton, comfortably in excess of 60. Jacques Kallis rounds off the top-10 with an adjusted average of 60.86, between 2001 and 2011, seriously adjusted downwards from 66.13. He is in fact third in the unadjusted table. This confirms the significant impact of adjusting against peer values.

Bowler best decade analysis: Based on adjusted average

Batsman Adjust <<<< Best Decade >>>> # of Wkts Runs Avge Peer Values
Name Avge StMat StYear EndMat EnYear Yrs Avg Oth
 
Imran Khan 18.26 861 1979 1127 1989 10 250 4593 18.37 31.74 32.20
Barnes S.F 18.57 96 1907 133 1914 7 163 2684 16.46 26.73 28.36
Muralitharan 18.60 1376 1997 1842 2007 10 575 11231 19.53 33.02 33.60
Hadlee R.J 19.07 848 1979 1115 1989 10 293 5618 19.17 31.66 32.16
Marshall 19.09 884 1980 1148 1990 10 316 6194 19.60 32.29 32.86
McGrath G.D 19.53 1313 1995 1771 2005 10 484 9792 20.23 32.69 33.15
Ambrose 20.04 1142 1990 1490 2000 10 316 6273 19.85 31.33 31.69
O'Reilly 20.04 233 1934 275 1946 12 110 2356 21.41 33.01 34.19
Laker J.C 20.20 317 1949 468 1959 10 166 3081 18.56 28.99 29.40
Garner J 20.66 803 1977 1072 1987 10 238 4874 20.47 31.35 31.70
Wasim Akram 20.90 1086 1987 1391 1997 10 271 5747 21.20 32.12 32.47
Pollock S.M 21.20 1318 1995 1776 2005 10 371 8122 21.89 32.74 33.04
Waqar Younis 21.32 1137 1990 1483 2000 10 270 5724 21.20 31.54 31.82
Davidson 21.83 375 1953 539 1963 10 181 3692 20.39 29.54 29.90
Holding M.A 21.98 775 1976 1044 1986 10 230 4955 21.54 31.07 31.36
Lindwall 22.02 275 1946 424 1956 10 192 4197 21.85 31.31 31.75
Donald A.A 22.14 1206 1992 1590 2002 10 318 7010 22.04 31.58 31.86
Trueman F.S 22.32 386 1954 560 1964 10 247 5220 21.13 29.85 30.30
Lock G.A.R 22.70 412 1955 595 1965 10 139 3067 22.06 30.87 31.10
Miller K.R 23.29 275 1946 424 1956 10 147 3381 23.00 31.31 31.60
Walsh C.A 23.63 1016 1985 1297 1995 10 262 6316 24.10 32.35 32.63
Lillee D.K 23.66 698 1972 927 1982 10 320 7369 23.02 30.76 31.14
Underwood 23.77 622 1967 806 1977 10 263 6310 23.99 31.90 32.29
Gibbs L.R 23.86 448 1958 628 1968 10 154 3692 23.97 31.91 32.15
ShoaibAkhtar 24.10 1389 1997 1849 2007 10 175 4377 25.01 33.10 33.20
Verity H 24.12 210 1931 272 1939 8 144 3510 24.37 31.69 32.33
Willis 24.43 739 1974 988 1984 10 296 7052 23.82 30.90 31.20
Grimmett 24.98 167 1926 251 1936 10 197 4917 24.95 31.39 31.96
Warne S.K 24.99 1215 1993 1637 2003 10 477 11925 25.00 31.74 32.01
Statham J.B 25.19 332 1951 506 1961 10 196 4514 23.03 29.02 29.26

For obvious reasons I have ignored Lohmann who had a best decade with 100+ wickets at 10+. These were days about which we really cannot come to a decision and are not comparable with later periods. Hence the cut-off is 1900.

There is a real, real surprise at the top. This should make people sit up and take notice. Imran Khan, between 1979 and 1989 had an adjusted bowling average of 18.37 (18.26). He gained almost nothing through peer adjustment. Who could have imagined that Imran Khan would have leapt over many other fancied bowlers? He captured 250 wickets during this period and improved his bowling average from 31.72 to 22.21. That single sentence is sufficient.

Barnes comes in second with an average of 18.57 (16.46). There was a significant adjustment for the period. Readers should note that the period for Barnes has been accepted at seven years owing to the WW1 intervention. Muralitharan, between 1997 and 2007, captured 575 wickets at 18.60 (19.53). Hadlee, who captured 293 wickets at 19.07 (19.17) between 1979 and 1989 follows next. Marshall completes the top-5 with 316 wickets at 19.09.

The next five bowlers represent the very best bowling talent that ever played the game - McGrath, Ambrose, O'Reilly, Laker and Garner. These 10 are probably on anyone's list of the top dozen bowlers. Laker's average has had a major downward adjustment. Wasim and Waqar follow in 11th and 13th positions.

Batsmen best decade analysis: Top Run-scorers in a decade

Batsman Career Yrs NO <<<< Best Decade >>>> # of Runs Runs/Yr
Name St End Yrs StMat StYear EndMat EnYear Yrs
 
Ponting R.T 1995 2012 17 1523 2000 1983 2010 10 10058 1005.8
Kallis J.H 1995 2012 17 1528 2001 1988 2011 10 9318 931.8
Dravid R 1996 2012 16 1589 2002 2031 2012 10 9031 903.1
Lara B.C 1990 2006 16 1340 1996 1816 2006 10 8707 870.7
Sangakkara 2000 2012 12 1567 2001 2016 2011 10 8384 838.4
Hayden M.L 1994 2009 15 1493 2000 1904 2009 9 8365 929.4
Tendulkar 1989 2012 23 1531 2001 1991 2011 10 8276 827.6
Jayawardene 1997 2012 15 1473 1999 1936 2009 10 8248 824.8
Smith G.C 2002 2012 10 1619 2002 2053 2012 10 8201 820.1
Sehwag V 2001 2012 11 1591 2002 2034 2012 10 7943 794.3
Waugh S.R 1985 2004 19 1208 1993 1637 2003 10 7873 787.3
Border A.R 1979 1994 15 855 1979 1126 1989 10 7851 785.1
Gavaskar 1971 1987 16 769 1976 1034 1986 10 7725 772.5
Taylor M.A 1989 1999 10 1113 1989 1439 1999 10 7525 752.5
Langer J.L 1993 2007 14 1352 1997 1826 2007 10 7443 744.3
Waugh M.E 1991 2002 11 1202 1992 1620 2002 10 7331 733.1
Laxman 1996 2012 16 1589 2002 2031 2012 10 7078 707.8
Pietersen 2005 2012 7 1756 2005 2051 2012 7 7076 1010.9
Strauss A.J 2004 2012 8 1700 2004 2053 2012 8 7037 879.6
Kirsten G 1993 2004 11 1243 1994 1681 2004 10 7013 701.3
Boon D.C 1984 1996 12 1017 1985 1298 1995 10 6979 697.9
Chanderpaul 1994 2012 18 1601 2002 2042 2012 10 6913 691.3
Gower D.I 1978 1992 14 828 1978 1101 1988 10 6847 684.7
Stewart A.J 1990 2003 13 1176 1991 1557 2001 10 6798 679.8
Mohd Yousuf 1998 2010 12 1403 1998 1864 2008 10 6770 677.0
Barrington 1955 1968 13 474 1959 640 1968 9 6754 750.4
Atherton 1989 2001 12 1191 1992 1558 2001 9 6562 729.1
Cook A.N 2006 2012 6 1785 2006 2053 2012 6 6555 1092.5
Hutton L 1937 1955 18 263 1938 387 1954 16 6538 408.6
Inzamam 1992 2007 15 1366 1997 1830 2007 10 6431 643.1

This is a simple run-based analysis. As such there are no restrictions and the current players also qualify. After all if Cook accumulates over 6000 runs in 6 years and counting, why should he not get ahead of Gooch who accumulated nearly as many runs in 10 years?

Ponting is the only batsman in history to accumulate over 10000 runs in 10 years. This is a stand-out achievement and has to be recognized. He did this between 2000 and 2010. Kallis accumulated 9318 runs between 2001 and 2011. Dravid, Lara and Sangakkara amassed either side of 9000 runs in 10 years.

Hayden accumulated 8365 runs, but in 9 years. This was after his break and return. Hence 9 years is fine. Then Tendulkar and Jayawardene follow.

Cook leads in the matter of Runs per year, having accumulated 6555 runs in 6 years at an average of 1092. Pietersen is the only other batsman to average more than 1000 runs per year along with Ponting.

Readers should realize the difficulty in maintaining a 1000 runs per year average over 10 years. Mohammad Yousuf had the greatest of years during 2006 when he scored 1788 runs but could accumulate only 5000 runs during the other 9 years of his best decade. In three years, 2003, 2005 and 2006, Ponting accumulated nearly 4500 runs, but had to bat outstandingly well to compile 5500 runs in 7 years.

Bowler best decade analysis: Top Wicket-takers in a decade

Batsman Career Yrs # of <<<< Best Decade >>>> # of Wkts Wkts/Yr
Name St End Yrs StMat StYear EndMat EnYear Yrs
 
Muralitharan 1992 2010 18 1394 1998 1859 2008 10 588 58.8
Warne S.K 1992 2007 15 1346 1996 1825 2006 10 488 48.8
McGrath G.D 1993 2007 14 1313 1995 1771 2005 10 484 48.4
Kumble A 1990 2008 18 1405 1998 1866 2008 10 430 43.0
Pollock S.M 1995 2008 13 1356 1997 1830 2007 10 390 39.0
Ntini M 1998 2009 11 1504 2000 1944 2009 9 380 42.2
Harbhajan 1998 2011 13 1531 2001 1991 2011 10 372 37.2
Walsh C.A 1984 2001 17 1169 1991 1544 2001 10 372 37.2
Botham I.T 1977 1992 15 806 1977 1078 1987 10 370 37.0
Marshall 1978 1991 13 949 1983 1175 1991 8 342 42.8
Ambrose 1988 2000 12 1095 1988 1414 1998 10 337 33.7
Donald A.A 1992 2002 10 1188 1992 1590 2002 10 330 33.0
Kapil Dev N 1978 1994 16 851 1979 1123 1989 10 323 32.3
Lillee D.K 1971 1984 13 698 1972 927 1982 10 320 32.0
Hadlee R.J 1973 1990 17 817 1978 1090 1988 10 312 31.2
Lee B 1999 2008 9 1479 1999 1902 2008 9 310 34.4
Wasim Akram 1985 2002 17 1127 1989 1468 1999 10 304 30.4
Waqar Younis 1989 2003 14 1151 1990 1511 2000 10 298 29.8
Willis 1971 1984 13 732 1974 977 1984 10 298 29.8
Steyn D.W 2004 2012 8 1728 2004 2053 2012 8 287 35.9
Anderson 2003 2012 9 1646 2003 2053 2012 9 276 30.7
Imran Khan 1971 1992 21 831 1978 1106 1988 10 272 27.2
Vaas WPUJC 1994 2009 15 1445 1999 1909 2009 10 271 27.1
Zaheer Khan 2000 2012 12 1535 2001 1991 2011 10 266 26.6
Trueman F.S 1952 1965 13 409 1955 592 1965 10 265 26.5
Underwood 1966 1982 16 622 1967 806 1977 10 263 26.3
D Kaneria 2000 2010 10 1518 2000 1967 2010 10 261 26.1
McDermott 1984 1996 12 1017 1985 1298 1995 10 260 26.0
Gillespie 1996 2006 10 1343 1996 1799 2006 10 259 25.9
Garner J 1977 1987 10 801 1977 1072 1987 10 249 24.9

Muralitharan had a golden decade from 1998 and 2008 during which he accumulated 588 wickets at an average of over 58 per year. He is followed by the wonderful bowling pair of Warne and McGrath who accumulated 480 odd wickets between around 1995 and 2005. Kumble is next with 430 wickets in the decade beginning 1998. Pollock, Ntini and Harbhajan appear next in this list. Botham is the only non-modern bowler, indicating the recent profusion of Test matches.

Let us think for a second. In a period of 10 years, Muralitharan captured nearly 600 wickets in 10 years. Only 42 bowlers in 135 years have captured more than Muralitharan's average of 58.8 wickets per year. The highest tally is by Warne, during 2005, with 96 wickets, followed by Muralitharan, with 90 wickets in 2006.

The top batsmen in a decade

Graph of adjusted averages for batsmen (best decade)
© Anantha Narayanan

The graphs are self-explanatory. The idea is not to show the relative position of the averages but rather the positioning across the years. The 1950s-60s seem to be the golden years of batting since there are four batsmen present in the top-10 with high averages.

The top bowlers in a decade

Graph of adjusted averages for bowlers (best decade)
© Anantha Narayanan

It must be remembered that the Y-axis is not really to exact scale in view of the close bunching of players with similar values. The bowling decades are the 1980s-90s.

To download/view the comprehensive Excel sheet containing all the tables related to Test Decades analysis, please CLICK HERE.

Thanks, Sarosh, for providing a good spark.

The stars of this special analysis are Sobers and Hobbs, whose batting average exceeded 70 during their best decades and Imran Khan and Muralitharan who had bowling averages around 18 during their respective best decades.

When I heard that Lara was going to be inducted into the ICC Hall-of-Fame, I almost shelved this article, post-editing, to be replaced by a tribute to Lara. Then I decided not to rush the same. Since ICC have taken their own time, let me take a few more days to come out with a well-rounded tribute to the batting genius, in the process fine-tuning the single-player analysis program. I will close this with Milind's telling comment.

Sometimes a talent requires the recognition of being an awardee. Then there are cases when the award needs the prestige by associating itself with a talent that transcends awards.

Well said, Milind.

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

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Keywords: Nostalgia, Rankings, Stats

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Posted by Vikram on (November 16, 2012, 13:41 GMT)

Very interesting article Ananth. Here's an attempt at an alternate team. There are some personal preferences (like yours) especially when there was a close call. After all, as the manager, I should be comfortable with the players in the team, right? Same rules as yours, players selected for being specialists, split of 7-1-7. However, I have chosen 3 openers with one of them (Sehwag) having the ability to cover the middle order if needed. Openers: Hayden, Gooch, Sehwag Other batsmen: Dravid, Harvey, Headley, Crowe Wicketkeeper: Sangakkara Fast bowlers: Imran, Waqar, Donald, Barnes, Pollock Spinners: Saqlain, Chandrashekhar [[ Why do you people insist on doing the very thing I do not want you to do. That too, sensible readers like you. Your criteria is "excluding my XV". To me that seems quite silly. How do I take this. Is it really the best world XV. Pl remember we are not playing a match. I am trying to get the readers' responses into an Excel sheet and work out a wonderful Readers' XV. Are you helping me in doing that. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (September 30, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

Between 1995 and end of career, Murali and Warne, including only away matches in England+WI+South Africa+NZ+Pak (but nor Z, BD), and home matches, or matches against India, where batsmen have been extraordinary against spin, Murali and Warne have following stats - Matches, Wkts, Avg, Strike Rate

Murali - 33/200/22.5/54 Warne - 38/190/24/50

Murali definitely has delivered the numbers. I only have a problem with his action. [[ Yes, I guessed so. Once the "action" comes in we should stop further discussions. At least in this blogspace. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Waspsting on (September 30, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

"May I know where this "outclassing" took place." (Murali & Warne)

there was a very amusing comment in an interview with Stuart MacGill along the same lines of "Warne completely outbowling Murali on a tour of SL" (paraphrased).

He also added that to him, you measure how players play relative to each other in the same conditions.

My reading of this comment supports my theory of players giving opinion that indirectly reflects well on themselves. (MacGill has a better record than Warne in matches they played together - and I bet he knows it!)

----

On an unrelated note going back to a debate we had on this blog about the relative merits of economy rate vs strike rate in ODI cricket - note John Buchanan's position (according to Macgill) - a guy who presumably had the biggest say in how those all conquering sides approached the ODI game

http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/565775.html

Posted by Waspsting on (September 30, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

was also full of praise. Pace and spin seem to have come alike to him (assuming "hype" bias' would work against rather for Headley, the high regard he's held in by Eng and Aus players is especially telling)

- noted bad wicket player, by any standard

Compare him to the legendary Wally Hammond. they played 3 series' together -

33 in Eng, Hammond 24.66, Headley 55.40 34/35 in WI, Hammond 25, Headley 97 39 in Eng, Hammond 55.8, Headley 66.8

Didn't play much Headley, but his career record, at every level, is near flawless. I rate him VERY HIGH up there, amongst the top 10 batsman certainly.

Posted by Waspsting on (September 30, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

"Coming back to the team on his day Lara was a better match-winner than Sachin"

@Harsh - what is the specific thinking behind this?

re: Headley, I agree with you, for a # of reasons, despite as Ananth points out, the "too few games" point against him.

- he played over a long period of time, which is categorically different than averaging 60 for 3 consecutive years ("hot streak"). That he didn't play much... it is what it is.

-successful in all conditions. Eng, Aus and WI

- the 10 100s to 5 50s in tests. The ability to convert 50s to 100s, i think is the hallmark of a really classy player (in 1st class, the record is a very a good 44 - 100 too)

- ave 70 for 10,000 runs at 1st class. very impressive

- impressed all about him (i assume for WI player in that time, that'd be particularly difficult and if anything, subjective bias would work AGAINST him - much like it does for Pak players even now)

- Hutton called him "one of the best players of fast bowling I saw", while Grimmett...

Posted by Waspsting on (September 30, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

re: Simpson - I was thinking of as a strong contender for a place as an opener for Aus 11 - not a place in the middle order competing against guys like Bradman, Chappell, Ponting etc.

I'd go with Ponsford and Hayden - but Simpson's worthy of a more thought than he usually gets.

As for his bowling, i was thinking of him as a useful bowler, not an all-rounder. As a bonus bowler, he's VERY USEFUL.

He dismissed Gary Sobers 4 times in test cricket as well as Barrington, Cowdrey and Graeme Pollock twice.

not bad for a guy in the team for his batting.

Not bad for a batsman!

Posted by Nitin Gautam on (September 30, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

Lastly like all great fast bowlers Mcgraw, donald, akram, & to some extent steyn too had exceptional record everywhere & it didnt matter for them if they are bowling at dustbowls of India or low slow pitches of SL or fast hard boucny Australian tracks of seaming eng & NZ.they excelled everywhere similarly I dont have any doubt had Murali been an Australian he would have been more accepted with equally gud record..

Posted by Nitin Gautam on (September 30, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

@Shrikanth While I agree that a 10wk haul @ galle against BD is not same as 10 for at perts/m'bourne etc however Murli has pretty much proved himself everywhere vs everyone..Just for a comparison leaving out home country (aus for warne & SL for Murli) & waterloo countries for both (India for warne & Aus for Murli) although murli in Aus is much worse that warne in India, here are the stats. Warne-67tests, 355 wickets @23.93 Murli-55 tests, 255 wickets@22.84 Thing to notice here is warne lost 313@27 while murli lost whopping 493@19..low count of murli's wickets elsewhere is due to less tests & considering his more than 5wk/test he would hv matched warne's tally in equal no.of tests. If we remove WI for warne & India for murli (the next worst place for both respectively) their record says Warne-338 wickets@19.5 & Murli 255@20 very slight diff & really nothing to chose from..both are such an exceptional bowlers that leaving out any1 will raise few eyebrows.though personally I prefer warne

Posted by shrikanthk on (September 30, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

also ppl use BD, ZIm to downgrade the wickets captured by him to glorify warne & I dont patronize this too..every test wicket & every test run & every test win is as important as any other..

Nitin: I don't like the slightly dogmatic tone in this comment. I won't downgrade Murali for any reason. But surely a 20 wicket haul against Bdesh on pitches like Galle isn't quite the same as a 20 wicket haul over 3 tests held at Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

Let's face it. Had Warne been a Sri Lankan, I am sure he'd have an even better record. His success over a very long period on unfavourable wickets for spin bowling is without a parallel in cricket history. Australia has always been a graveyard for spinners. To average 25-26 in that continent is truly remarkable. [[ And if Murali had been born in Australia he would have found better acceptance, better support on the field and possibly 100 wickets less. And why should Australia be portrayed as a graveyard for spinners. These are not dead batting wickets. These are wickets with good bounce and carry and the quality spinners should benefit. And blanket statements do not work. Indian pitches aid spinners. Correct. Kumble 350 @ 25. Harbhajan 258 @ 28. Why then Warne 34 @ 43 and Murali 40 @ 45. The same bowlers in England. Kumble 36 @ 41. Harbhajan 14 @ 50. Warne 129 @ 22 and Murali 48 @ 19. So of the four, Warne and Murali have both done very well in England. Finally, at home, Warne 313 @ 27 and Murali 493 @ 20. So the home advantage is very very significant for all bowlers. All three have done poorly in Australia. I agree that Murali's weak spots have been Australia and India. Warne had two weak spots, in India and West Indies (17 @ 40). So nothing much to choose from. Ananth: ]]

Posted by shrikanthk on (September 30, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

i agree with you about Hayden. i didn't see his early games against WI, but have heard he was quite poor. in his pomp, i assessed from his style that fast bowling might sort him out, and wasn't surprised by his ordinary showing against Eng 2005

Great fast bowling sorts out most batsmen. Hayden no exception. The great thing about Hayden was that on his day on a good wicket he could place you in a position from which you can force a win on Day 1 of a test match! And he did that on a fairly consistent basis. You can't say the same thing about steady, admittedly more solid openers like Simpson or Langer or Taylor.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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