January 1, 2013

Tests during 2012: an alternate look

A detailed statistical review of individual and team performances in Tests played in 2012
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Alastair Cook scored three centuries in the first three Tests in India
Alastair Cook scored three centuries in the first three Tests in India © BCCI

Unlike last year this review has come out on 1st January itself, thanks to the 200-over finish of the MCG Test.

1. Cricket Oscar of the year

There is a wonderful end-of-the-year award called Chess Oscar which is awarded to the best Chess player of the previous year. It is my proud moment to inform that Vishwanathan Anand has secured it six times. I have decided that I would institute a Cricket Oscar for the player who was the most effective cricketer who contributed most to the game during the previous year. It will mean something for the readers of the blog at least.

This year the award goes to Alastair Cook of England. He scored 1200 plus runs during the year, scored 4 hundreds in his first four Tests as captain, led from the front and took England to an unlikely victory in India. I expected the series to end 2-1, albeit in India's favour. Cook, almost single-handedly, turned the tide in the second innings at Ahmedabad and then, with help from Pietersen, Panesar, Swann, Anderson and Trott completed a famous series win.

Michael Clarke was the only other contender. His batting was divine and captaincy, most of the times, was flawless. However Australia's inability to close out the Adelaide Test, leading to a home series loss, held out against Clarke.

2. A look at performance of teams during 2012

Team Tests Wins-Home Neutral Away Draws-Home Neutral Away Losses-Home Neutral Away Performance
South Africa 10 1 0 4 0 0 5 0 0 0 80.5%
Australia 11 5 0 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 74.1%
Pakistan 6 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 68.3%
West Indies 10 2 0 2 1 0 1 2 0 2 50.0%
England 15 2 0 3 2 0 1 2 3 2 43.7%
Sri Lanka 10 3 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 3 36.0%
India 9 3 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 3 35.0%
New Zealand 10 1 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 5 29.0%
Bangladesh 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.0%
Zimbabwe 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.0%

This is the traditional 2-1-0 method of evaluating team performance, with a tweak. I have analysed the matches from home-neutral-away points of view. I have used the 2-1-0 values for the neutral matches and weighed the home matches down by 10% and the away matches upwards by 10%.

South Africa was the team of the year. Completion of the home series win against Sri Lanka was followed by three away series wins against the two top teams, England and Australia and the difficult-to-tour New Zealand. 5 wins and 5 draws adorned their year. Australians were very good, barring the unexpected series loss at home to South Africa. Pakistan did quite well, in matches played away and in neutral locations. West Indies had an up-and-down year but finished at 50% score.

England, India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand were good in patches. They ultimately ended the year with negative results. England finished the year on a high with their unexpected away series win over India. New Zealand finished the year well, drawing the away series in difficult Sri Lanka with a Taylor-made win. It was unfortunate that Taylor was stripped of part-captaincy and the issue remains unresolved.

3. An alternate look at performance of teams during 2012

Team Own RpW Oth RpW Difference Own WpT Oth WpT Difference
 
Australia 44.0 28.0 16.0 18.5 13.5 5.1
South Africa 46.3 33.2 13.1 16.5 13.6 2.9
West Indies 36.6 33 3.6 16.5 15 1.5
Pakistan 30.7 27.3 3.3 16.8 16 0.8
England 32.5 32.9 -0.3 15.9 15.6 0.3
Sri Lanka 28.7 36.9 -8.2 14.6 17.1 -2.5
New Zealand 26.7 34.2 -7.5 13.9 17.4 -3.5
India 30.8 41 -10.2 13.7 15.9 -2.2
Bangladesh 34.9 64.3 -29.3 11.5 20 -8.5
Zimbabwe 9.7 70.7 -61 7 20 -13

I can hear impatient calls of "Where is this "alternate look"?" Ah! that is coming now. Why were the teams successful. Good bowling and batting and fielding is fine. But what are the numbers. In this table I look at two sets of numbers to throw light on the success of certain teams and failures of the others.

First the RpW (Runs per wicket) values. I have compiled the "own RpW" and "other RpW" values and got the difference. This difference will indicate the success or lack of, for various teams. Note the huge positive differences for Australia and South Africa.

My other comparison is between "own WpM (wickets per match)" and "other WpM". After all a team has to take 20 wickets to win. Australia and South Africa have big positive differentials in this measure.

4. The top team performances

2027 2012 Aus 82.09 vs Ind 17.91 Australia won by an innings and 68 runs
2029 2012 Aus 81.14 vs Ind 18.86 Australia won by an innings and 37 runs
2031 2012 Aus 80.16 vs Ind 19.84 Australia won by 298 runs
2033 2012 Nzl 89.26 vs Zim 10.74 New Zealand won by an innings and 301 runs
2049 2012 Saf 80.37 vs Eng 19.63 South Africa won by an innings and 12 runs
2054 2012 Ind 83.54 vs Nzl 16.46 India won by an innings and 115 runs
2068 2012 Aus 86.18 vs Slk 13.82 Australia won by an innings and 201 runs
These are the seven imposing wins during 2012. The criteria for selection is match rating points of 80 and above for the winning team. The first three matches came and went in the space of a month. Then three different teams achieved it during the rest of the year. Australia ended the year with the biggest hammering of a team in years defeating Sri Lanka in two-and-a-half days.

5. The important series result summary

Australia - India        : 78.8 - 21.2
Pakistan  - England      : 72.7 - 27.3
New Zealand-South Africa : 38.7 - 61.3
England   - West Indies  : 61.8 - 38.2
Sri Lanka - Pakistan     : 56.7 - 43.3
England   - South Africa : 35.5 - 64.5
Australia - South Africa : 44.6 - 55.4
India     - England      : 42.5 - 57.5

6. The Team performance summary

Team          P  W  D  L   Team Rating Pts
Total   For    Vs

Australia 11 7 3 1 719.7 65.4 - 34.6 South Africa 10 5 5 0 623.6 62.4 - 37.6 Pakistan 6 3 2 1 347.9 58.0 - 42.0 West Indies 10 4 2 4 512.0 51.2 - 48.8 England 15 5 3 7 726.4 48.4 - 51.6 Sri Lanka 10 3 2 5 428.0 42.8 - 57.2 India 9 3 1 5 379.7 42.2 - 57.8 New Zealand 10 2 2 6 399.9 40.0 - 60.0 Bangladesh 2 0 0 2 52.2 26.1 - 73.9 Zimbabwe 1 0 0 1 10.7 10.7 - 89.3

This table is a summary of the Match rating points secured by teams. Even though Australia's overall results are slightly inferior to South Africa, their comprehensive innings wins have helped them move to the top of the table. During the year, on an average, they were 65-35 against opponents. South Africa were slightly behind. Pakistan and West Indies also performed creditably and finished on the positive side. The other six sides finished on the negative side.

For those of you who may have come in recently and wonder what the Match Rating is all about, please CLICK HERE to read the analysis done by me after the England - India tour of 2011. It is a single comprehensive index summarizing the team performances in the match.

7. The top batting performances

2038 2012 Jayawardene D.P.M.D  Slk Eng 180  225.9
2049 2012 Amla H.M             Saf Eng 311* 220.9
2034 2012 Azhar Ali            Pak Eng 157  204.5
2027 2012 Clarke M.J           Aus Ind 329* 203.1
2062 2012 Pietersen K.P        Eng Ind 186  199.1

These are the top 5 batting performances. Jayawardene's 180, a very much under-rated one, is an all-time classic and has moved into the all-time top-20 too. It is an innings reminiscent of Clem Hill's 188. Sri Lanka is reduced to 15 for 3. Jayawardene, with a next highest score of 27 to support him, scores 180 of the next 300 runs added, against a very good English attack. Ultimately this is a match-winner in a match of low scores.

Amla's 311, played away, against a good English attack and ultimately a match-winning innings is a truly wonderful effort. Let us not be fooled by the fact that South Africa lost only two wickets. England's strong batting line-up lost 20 wickets for similar runs. Clarke's 329 was, in many ways, the ultimate innings. Australia's win in the first Test was not very convincing. In reply to 191, they were floundering at 37 for 3. Then walks in Clarke and makes the ultimate statement. Unbeaten on 329 runs, two partnerships either side of 300, a disdain for records and a bone crusher delivered. India never recovered. They disappeared off the series.

Azhar Ali's innings was very different. After two forgettable two first innings, completed in 7 hours, Pakistan were 40 in arrears and lost two wickets before the arrears were cleared. Azhar Ali held the innings together, first with Younis Khan and then with Misbah-ul-Haq and took Pakistan to a respectable 365. Then they won comfortably. 442 balls of utmost patience and Azhar Ali came of age. Pietersen's 186 was quite different. On a square turner, India posted a respectable 327 and soon England were in trouble at 68 for 2. Pietersen played one of the great modern day innings, scoring 186 runs off 233 balls. A scoring rate of 80 on a treacherous pitch where the rest struggled. This innings changed the path of the series and afterwards India were always behind, home advantage notwithstanding. Only Pietersen could have played such an innings.

The other performances worthy of a mention are Samuels' match-winning effort of 123 against New Zealand, Pujara's top-drawer double hundred at Ahmedabad and Warner's 180 on a difficult Perth pitch against India.

My selection for the batting performance of the year is Pietersen's epochal 186.

8. The top bowling performances

2030 2012 Saeed Ajmal          Pak Eng 24.3  7  55  7 171.5
2062 2012 Panesar M.S          Eng Ind 22.0  3  81  6 163.3
2032 2012 Abdur Rehman         Pak Eng 10.1  4  25  6 162.8
2038 2012 Herath HMRKB         Slk Eng 38.0  9  97  6 152.9
2053 2012 Philander V.D        Saf Eng 14.5  4  30  5 150.7

On the first day of the first Test at Dubai, Ajmal set the tone of the series with a sterling performance capturing 7 for 55 and dismissed England for 192. Although England had their moments, they did not recover afterwards. Panesar's 6 wicket haul at Mumbai helped secure an easy win for England. The ball was turning a lot but Panesar's skill in prising out top order wickets, especially those of Sehwag and Tendulkar, was worthy of special mention.

In the Abu Dhabi Test, England were set 145 to win and everyone must have expected a comfortable win. But Abdul Rehman, rather than Ajmal, who played the supporting role, was unplayable and the leaden-footed English batsmen were skittled out for 72. A few months later the same team tackled spin as if they were batting on a feather-bed. That indicates the quality of bowling of Rehman and Ajmal.

At Galle, England were set a difficult, but not impossible, task of scoring 340 for a win. Herath captured 5 of the top 7 wickets and won the match for Sri Lanka, with a spell of 6 for 97. It was not an easy win. Finally the top pace bowling performance of the year. England were again set 340+ to win and tie the series. With the no.1 position on the line this was a nervous period for both teams. Philander's opening spell when he dismissed Strauss, Cook and Bell sealed the victory. Afterwards he dismissed Prior when he looked like taking England to an unlikely win and then captured the last wicket. An excellent match-winning performance.

My vote goes to Saeed Ajmal.

9. A look at the Test batsmen of 2012

Batsman              Cty  M  I  N Runs   Avge

Clarke M.J Aus 11 18 3 1595 106.33 Cook A.N Eng 15 29 3 1249 48.04 Amla H.M Saf 10 17 2 1064 70.93 Pietersen K.P Eng 14 25 1 1053 43.88 Trott I.J.L Eng 15 28 2 1005 38.65 Chanderpaul S Win 9 15 5 987 98.70 Kallis J.H Saf 9 15 1 944 67.43 Hussey M.E.K Aus 11 18 3 898 59.87 ..... Gambhir G Ind 9 15 0 474 31.60 Sehwag V Ind 9 16 0 505 31.56 Guptill M.J Nzl 10 19 0 567 29.84 Tendulkar S.R Ind 9 15 0 357 23.80 Swann G.P Eng 14 20 4 376 23.50

This was the year of Clarke. 4 double centuries (including a triple), an average exceeding 100, nearly 150 runs a Test, all make this Clarke's year and possibly the best year for a batsman. Cook and Amla follow next. Pietersen and Trott also completed 1000 runs during the calendar year. Mike Hussey scores 898 runs at 59.87 and then decides to retire after the Sydney Test. That is the true meaning of quitting while at the top. One of the rare times when the question "Why now?" has full meaning.

The tail-end of the table presents a sorry figure for the Indian batsmen. 3 of the last six are from India and explains why India has performed poorly. Tendulkar had a forgettable year. Sehwag and Gambhir were only slightly better.

10. A look at the Test bowlers of 2012

Bowlers              Cty  M  W Runs   Avge

Herath HMRKB Slk 10 60 1418 23.63 Swann G.P Eng 14 59 1766 29.93 Anderson J.M Eng 14 48 1416 29.50 Philander V.D Saf 9 43 908 21.12 Siddle P.M Aus 8 41 947 23.10 ..... Saeed Ajmal Pak 6 39 802 20.56 Hilfenhaus B.W Aus 9 37 802 21.68 ..... Lyon N.M Aus 10 36 1195 33.19 Bracewell D.A.J Nzl 10 26 972 37.38 Ashwin R Ind 8 37 1397 37.76

It is difficult to think of 2012 as anything else but Herath's year, closely followed by Swann. Herath is the unheralded and under-rated bowler getting very little of the headlines. But he is a master of his craft. He led in both wickets and bowling average tables. 64 wickets at 20.0 tells the story. Most of his wickets were captured in Sri Lanka. However he performed admirably down under towards the end of 2012 and earlier in South Africa. His 9 wickets were the catalyst for the famous Durban win. Swann bowled skillfully right through, often as the leading spinner but when required, a supporting spinner, shouldering burdens with consummate skill, ease and poise. Anderson was wonderful in India.

The other end of the table tells the other side of the Indian debacle. Ashwin's 37 wickets at 37.7, bowling on the helpful Indian wickets, indicates a lack of penetrating power of the main Indian bowler.

11. The players who excelled on debut

2057 2012 Sohag Gazi           Bng Win 23.2  2  74  6  87.5 Debut

Sohag Gazi had an excellent debut and showed lot of skill in capturing 6 West Indian wickets.

2061 2012 du Plessis F         Saf Aus 110* 157.0 Debut
2060 2012 Abul Hasan           Bng Win 113   83.8 Debut

Two centuries were scored on debut during 2012. Both were special efforts. du Plessis, one of the great T20 players in the world, turned 180 degrees and played an innings which Atherton, Gavaskar or Boycott would have been proud to own. It fetched rating points which normally a good double century secures. The other century, played by Abul Hasan was an amazing innings. The first time a no.10 batsman scored a century on debut. It is quite possible that Abul Hasan just fades away. However there is no doubting his place in the efforts which grace halls of fame.

12. Abiding memories of 2012: Positive and negative

These are strictly my personal views.

The match of the year was South Africa's pulsating draw against Australia. Nobody would have given South Africa any hope when they were left with a score of 45 for 4, two stroke makers at the crease, a badly injured master and the tail in the pavilion. They battled on for 125 overs and saved the match. De Villiers resisted for 220 balls and Kallis for 115 balls. But the real hero was Du Plessis, known for his T20 exploits, who batted on for 376 balls, one of the all-time great defensive innings. The result was open until the fifth ball of the last over. Test cricket at its best. Only the myopic would complain about the slow scoring.

The partnership of the year was the magnificent 206 run stand between Cook and Pietersen on a turning wicket at Mumbai. Cook defended, Pietersen attacked and India disappeared in a puff of dust. This was the defining 4-hour period which turned the series inexorably towards England. Three spinners on a helpful pitch could do nothing. It was due to the skills of the batsmen. The next significant partnership was the near-300 run stand between Ponting and Clarke at Sydney against India. That they started the partnership at 37 for 3 is significant.

The switch skills specialists were Pietersen and Du Plessis. Known for their outstanding skills, both produced watchful match-winning and match-saving skills. Pietersen scored 73 off 188 to rescue a floundering England at Nagpur. Du Plessis scored 78 in 159 and 110 in 376 to save an almost-certain loss for South Africa.

The double-whammy specialists were the umpires who officiated in the India - England series. Samit Patel got two blatantly wrong decisions at Ahmedabad and Cook got two equally bad decisions at Nagpur. It was fortunate that the team which won the series, England, had a bad decision ratio of 2-1 against India. Otherwise it would have been embarrassing.

The phoenix/Yo-yo team of the year were England. After the euphoria of the 4-0 whitewash of India, they went off Tests for a long time. Then they came down to earth with a 0-3 loss to Pakistan. They then drew 1-1 away at Sri Lanka. Comfortable 2-0 win at home against West Indies was followed by a morale-shattering 0-2 loss at home to South Africa and the loss of the no.1 spot. Everybody expected a big loss ("would be lucky to draw one Test") in India. They had learnt their lessons, applied themselves, prepared wonderfully well and ran out convincing winners. They would now be looking forward to the Ashes with a lot of hope.

Confusion personification was surely Dhoni. India gets a tailor-made wicket (Bat first, bat well, bat big, bowl well and win comfortably) at Ahmedabad and duly win comfortably. What does Dhoni do? He complains about the pitch and asks for pitches which would turn from ball 1. He gets one in Mumbai, India bat well in the first innings and then the script changes. England bat magnificently, India bowl poorly and everything goes southwards. India loses this Test comfortably. Two different pitches follow. England wins the series comfortably. WHY? Why does Dhoni make his quixotic statements. After lot of thinking, I have come to the conclusion that the key was England's second innings in Ahmedabad. If they had folded up for 250, everything would have been fine and Dhoni would have kept quiet. The England second innings unnerved Dhoni. He could see that this was not going to be the expected walks in the park. So these confused statements were basically media distractions, red herrings, advance excuses and tips for the BCCI President to follow.

But let me hasten to add that these comments relate to matches in which the overs are not limited. Dhoni's captaincy is very good, albeit cautious, in the limited over matches and he is one of the all-time great finishers in ODI cricket. Only Bevan and Hussey can match him in this regard.

The non-stories of the year were Tendulkar's ton of tons, achieved after a lot of huffing and puffing and in a losing cause and the various retirement stories circulated, the millions of words written on India's free fall (all destined to have no effect).

The stories which mattered were the four retirements, all on or before time, which increased the respect the concerned players (Dravid, Laxman, Ponting and Tendulkar in ODIs) have with the watching public. Three other significant retirements were those of Brett Lee, Andrew Strauss and Mark Boucher, three wonderful exponents of their specialized areas of Cricket. And let us not forget Simon Taufel (thanks, Murray): arguably the greatest umpire ever. And one has to wonder what is happening to the Australian pace bowlers, especially Cummins and Pattinson: Injured for long periods.

The ostrich with the huge bank balance. BCCI does not care about implementing DRS although the India - England series was a clarion call for DRS. India lost even though England lost more due to the umpiring howlers. BCCI buries its head in sand. India loses the 12 important Tests 12-1-1-10. In any other place this would call for an overhaul, sackings, a review and self-introspection. Not in India. BCCI buries its head in sand. Arguably the greatest player India has produced is going through very difficult times on field. The least he deserves is a heart-to-heart discussion to clear the cobwebs. But no way. BCCI buries its head in sand. The only problem is that the ostrich is very rich and control everything even when its head is buried in sand.

The comeback player of the year was Marlon Samuels. He returned to the West Indian fold in 2011 but did not do much. This year he was magnificent. 3 centuries: the 123 was a classic and the 260 was huge. 4 useful fifties as well. His return is now complete. Gayle was another prodigal son who returned to the scene seamlessly.

That was a cricketing come-back. But the real heart-warming and on-the-pedestal effort was Yuvraj Singh's comeback. To have a life-threatening illness, fight it off through months of pain, then get oneself fit is not a common every-day occurrence. He came back and did quite well. He should serve India in the limited overs matches for years to come. A determined young man who deserves all approbation.

The bowling spell of the year was Anderson's outstanding mid-afternoon effort on the Nagpur-Jamtha highway, passing off as the pitch. Gambhir, Sehwag and Tendulkar, in a few overs on the deadest of tracks was 100% atonement for all the under-performances earlier.

The meltdown of the year was Sri Lanka's failure to last 25 overs on the last day of Test cricket during 2012. Then comes England's failure to last 37 overs while chasing 140 and being dismissed for 72. Quite close were India's 42 over total of 142 at Mumbai and Pakistan's 54 over capitulation for 100 on a good pitch at Galle.

1258 runs for the loss of two wickets!!! Ponting and Clarke added 288 runs and then Clarke and Hussey added 334 runs against India at SCG. This made a total of 622 runs were scored for the loss of 1 wicket. Move forward the clock by 6 months. Smith and Amla added 259 runs and then Amla and Kallis added 377 at Oval. That meant an addition of 636 runs for the loss of another wicket.

Even though this is a Test-centric article I have to mention a few limited overs related events since I will not be doing a limited overs summary for the year.

The first was the long-awaited T20 World Cup win of West Indies. It was received very well all over the world. Gayle acquitted himself creditably and his integration into the team was complete. Hopefully we should see West Indies do well hereafter.

The same West Indies were brought down to earth a few months after. Bangladesh achieved inarguably their best ever performance by defeating the strong West Indies 3-2 in the ODI series. That too, after being pulled back to 2-2 and without the services of Shakib. Mushfiqur Rahim deserves all accolades for handling the team very well.

Finally the retirement of a giant. Tendulkar's recent Test travails notwithstanding, his standing in the ODI game is right at the top with only Richards good enough to stand alongside him. Not just the number and longevity based achievements but Tendulkar was outstanding in many of the performance based factors. He was a true giant and the world will certainly miss him. No batsman looks likely to emulate him or even come close to him. One only hopes that if he has an average series against Australia, he takes a similar pragmatic decision regarding his Test career also.

The win by the Indian Under-19 team down under was a praise-worthy effort. The youngsters showed nerves of steel to win close matches, especially the Quarter-final and Semi-final. Unmukt Chand led the team with flair and imagination. He and Harmeet Singh could walk into the Indian senior team.

Finally I take this opportunity to wish all you readers a peaceful, healthy, happy and wonderful New Year. May the Force (in whichever form) be with all of you. Special thanks and wishes to Milind, who has taken over the editing duties, for the wonderful insights and support he provides. A quiet person who lets his silence speak: and very effectively too. And to Rajesh and Madhu at Cricinfo.

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

  • Murray Archer on January 16, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    I certainly hope Ryan Harris, and either Hilfenhaus (if he gets his action back again) or Bird, are in England. I am pretty sure at this stage they won't be having Cummins for the first leg.

    Our batting is potentially terrible. Good chance for someone to make a name for themselves. lol I just hope it's not the opposition bowlers ;) [[ Maybe Hussey could be persuaded to come back for the Tests only: although I understand that is not the Aussie way. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 14, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Australian pace bowling is probably 10-20% better than England's, their batting, sans Hussey, is at best par with England's and their spin bowling is 25% of England's

    Have to disagree Ananth. Anderson/Finn combo a few notches ahead of any combo that Aus can dish out right now. It's not just about pace, but how skillful you are as a bowler. [[ Finn is still nowehere at the top. He breaks down too often. I am assuming an Australian attack of Siddle, Cummins, Pattinson and Stac/Johnson. You would be quite brave to dismiss this attack. Ananth: ]] Aus batting par with England's??? No way. England batting is several notches ahead of Aus right now. I think this England team is underrated because of their results this year. To my mind it is the best English side since mid-50s. And arguably the best English side ever. [[ I am sure I said this before Hussey shock or forgetting Hussey;s not being there. Now I agree that Ebgland battibng is some distance ahead. Ananth: ]] Yes, they may not be the best side in the world today, but that's a different matter. Because even SA probably have their best team ever, facing competition only from Bacher's late 60s teams.

  • Ariz khan on January 13, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    Anantha Just a discussion, tempers goes up and down.

    Dr. Talha - If you want, we can this discuss this further on gtalk or something. We might even talk on phone, unfortunately Pakistan is not in my phone's calling plan list. My email ID is "for.dr.talha@gmail.com". Just getting lazy - can't type fast enough.

  • Dr.talha on January 12, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Ariz,i fail to understand y ur getting offended. Its just a discussion brother.

    I said in my earlier comments that, there is whole criteria how i judge players, in tests & ODIs both. U may disagree with it.

    I highlighted only the chasing average & said that i will give the details on any ODI blog, by Ananth. So u should not say i used a different route. There are still points left, which i will surely mention in the future.

    As far as Bevan is concerned, u can check yourself, how many times Aus had half their side down, on a very low score, and he came for their rescue.

    Thats the difference between a good batsman & a great one. A good batsman performs when all the team mates may also have done well. But a great batsman does well when most of his team mates have failed. And he carries them to a win.

    Bevan was truly a Great one!! [[ I suggest both of you extend a friendly hand across a few thousand kilometres and cose the matter. Although, I fail to understand what is the problem. Ananth: ]]

  • Ariz khan on January 12, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    Dr. Talha Now you would agree with Boll and not Waspsting. You want to me to listen to you and you won't listen. I gave you some stats about S/R for which you wouldn't respond instead you decided to attack by using a different rout. I don't think this is a proper way to go about a discussion. I could have commented a few things about that 86.25 but I knew that you wouldn't care, so why should I worry. If you ever thought about having a proper discussion about cricket, you are welcome, else, I have better things to do than arguing for the sake of it. My contention is that Bevan or for that matter any other player is what he is, nothing more, nothing less. Dean Hussey has a very good FC record, pity he didn't get the nod in tests. But I am not going to argue that he would have been successful - may be, may be not - period. Bevan was lucky to have played 18 tests, phill jacques wasn't even that lucky.

  • Dr. talha on January 12, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Boll i agree with what u said about Bevan. Played only 18 tests.I was there at the national stadium Karachi 1994 (one of my favourite matches) when Bevan made his debut.

    @Ariz. When any player avg 86.25 chasing (matches won),it proves he finished the matches.

    Along with the avg u have to consider a number of factors that labels a player as match winner, which most importantly includes match finishing ability & the situation of the game when a batsmen comes out to bat.

    Just 2 e.g here. -In 96 WC SF against WI, Bevan came when aus were 15-4. With all the greats back to the pavilion. Bevan scored 69. -In 99 WC SF against SAF, Aus were 68-4. He came & scored 65.

    Had he not done this Aus would have been dismissed under 150 on both occasions & lost both the semis Remember both inns were in high pressure games & against 2 of the best bowling attacks of all time.

    As i mentioned earlier there is whole list of such high class performances from Bevan.

  • Murray Archer on January 11, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Bevan looked like being a future superstar when a youngster, before 1st class debut. (there's a good reason he got a run well before Lehmann) I mean in tests - I don't follow short form cricket much :(.

    Once Bevan got to tests he had someone (Ian Chappell) "tweeting" over internationally broadcast microphones, how to get him out.

    Just lol remembered Strauss retired in 2012.:) He did remarkably well as a player with what he had. Super record as player and skipper !

  • Ariz khan on January 11, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    Thanks Dr. talha That was an eye opener for me, agreed that he was the 2nd greatest match winner only behind Dhoni (This might deter you from making that list - You don't want to prove a dictum!). and ahead of Clarke and Misbah. Dippenaar beats Viv in that too, as I expected. That makes Dippenaar as my new favorite most player. What an unknown match-winner.

  • Dr. talha on January 11, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    The best part of Bevan's career is that he averages 86.25 when Aus has won matches, chasing (includes 3 of his 6 ODI hundreds). Shows his great match finishing ability.

    I will give a list of matches which Bevan won for Aus when they were completely down & out of the game & also ODI match winner criteria, whenever Ananth will do a blog on ODI's.

  • Boll on January 10, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    It seems that Hussey`s recent retirement has sparked a bit of discussion about ODI batsmen - as, to be fair, has the wonderful World Test XV extravaganza. I`m more than happy to join in, and hope that people don`t feel as if things are being drawn too far away from the original focus of the article.

    Be that as it may; I think Michael Bevan was a brilliant cricketer. His ODI record needs little reinforcement - one of the best the game has seen. However, as a 4/5 day player I think he often gets short shrift. His first class record (ave.57 plus with the bat, almost 20,000 runs) suggests that he was a superb batsman. Most of those were score in Aus, and you simply don`t end up with that sort of record unless you`re the real deal against all types of bowling.

    Unfortunately, unlike Martyn/Hayden he didn`t get another shot to prove himself. His all-round performance against WI in 1996/7 was excellent. After a few failures he was branded an ODI only - brilliant player.

  • Murray Archer on January 16, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    I certainly hope Ryan Harris, and either Hilfenhaus (if he gets his action back again) or Bird, are in England. I am pretty sure at this stage they won't be having Cummins for the first leg.

    Our batting is potentially terrible. Good chance for someone to make a name for themselves. lol I just hope it's not the opposition bowlers ;) [[ Maybe Hussey could be persuaded to come back for the Tests only: although I understand that is not the Aussie way. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 14, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Australian pace bowling is probably 10-20% better than England's, their batting, sans Hussey, is at best par with England's and their spin bowling is 25% of England's

    Have to disagree Ananth. Anderson/Finn combo a few notches ahead of any combo that Aus can dish out right now. It's not just about pace, but how skillful you are as a bowler. [[ Finn is still nowehere at the top. He breaks down too often. I am assuming an Australian attack of Siddle, Cummins, Pattinson and Stac/Johnson. You would be quite brave to dismiss this attack. Ananth: ]] Aus batting par with England's??? No way. England batting is several notches ahead of Aus right now. I think this England team is underrated because of their results this year. To my mind it is the best English side since mid-50s. And arguably the best English side ever. [[ I am sure I said this before Hussey shock or forgetting Hussey;s not being there. Now I agree that Ebgland battibng is some distance ahead. Ananth: ]] Yes, they may not be the best side in the world today, but that's a different matter. Because even SA probably have their best team ever, facing competition only from Bacher's late 60s teams.

  • Ariz khan on January 13, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    Anantha Just a discussion, tempers goes up and down.

    Dr. Talha - If you want, we can this discuss this further on gtalk or something. We might even talk on phone, unfortunately Pakistan is not in my phone's calling plan list. My email ID is "for.dr.talha@gmail.com". Just getting lazy - can't type fast enough.

  • Dr.talha on January 12, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Ariz,i fail to understand y ur getting offended. Its just a discussion brother.

    I said in my earlier comments that, there is whole criteria how i judge players, in tests & ODIs both. U may disagree with it.

    I highlighted only the chasing average & said that i will give the details on any ODI blog, by Ananth. So u should not say i used a different route. There are still points left, which i will surely mention in the future.

    As far as Bevan is concerned, u can check yourself, how many times Aus had half their side down, on a very low score, and he came for their rescue.

    Thats the difference between a good batsman & a great one. A good batsman performs when all the team mates may also have done well. But a great batsman does well when most of his team mates have failed. And he carries them to a win.

    Bevan was truly a Great one!! [[ I suggest both of you extend a friendly hand across a few thousand kilometres and cose the matter. Although, I fail to understand what is the problem. Ananth: ]]

  • Ariz khan on January 12, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    Dr. Talha Now you would agree with Boll and not Waspsting. You want to me to listen to you and you won't listen. I gave you some stats about S/R for which you wouldn't respond instead you decided to attack by using a different rout. I don't think this is a proper way to go about a discussion. I could have commented a few things about that 86.25 but I knew that you wouldn't care, so why should I worry. If you ever thought about having a proper discussion about cricket, you are welcome, else, I have better things to do than arguing for the sake of it. My contention is that Bevan or for that matter any other player is what he is, nothing more, nothing less. Dean Hussey has a very good FC record, pity he didn't get the nod in tests. But I am not going to argue that he would have been successful - may be, may be not - period. Bevan was lucky to have played 18 tests, phill jacques wasn't even that lucky.

  • Dr. talha on January 12, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Boll i agree with what u said about Bevan. Played only 18 tests.I was there at the national stadium Karachi 1994 (one of my favourite matches) when Bevan made his debut.

    @Ariz. When any player avg 86.25 chasing (matches won),it proves he finished the matches.

    Along with the avg u have to consider a number of factors that labels a player as match winner, which most importantly includes match finishing ability & the situation of the game when a batsmen comes out to bat.

    Just 2 e.g here. -In 96 WC SF against WI, Bevan came when aus were 15-4. With all the greats back to the pavilion. Bevan scored 69. -In 99 WC SF against SAF, Aus were 68-4. He came & scored 65.

    Had he not done this Aus would have been dismissed under 150 on both occasions & lost both the semis Remember both inns were in high pressure games & against 2 of the best bowling attacks of all time.

    As i mentioned earlier there is whole list of such high class performances from Bevan.

  • Murray Archer on January 11, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Bevan looked like being a future superstar when a youngster, before 1st class debut. (there's a good reason he got a run well before Lehmann) I mean in tests - I don't follow short form cricket much :(.

    Once Bevan got to tests he had someone (Ian Chappell) "tweeting" over internationally broadcast microphones, how to get him out.

    Just lol remembered Strauss retired in 2012.:) He did remarkably well as a player with what he had. Super record as player and skipper !

  • Ariz khan on January 11, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    Thanks Dr. talha That was an eye opener for me, agreed that he was the 2nd greatest match winner only behind Dhoni (This might deter you from making that list - You don't want to prove a dictum!). and ahead of Clarke and Misbah. Dippenaar beats Viv in that too, as I expected. That makes Dippenaar as my new favorite most player. What an unknown match-winner.

  • Dr. talha on January 11, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    The best part of Bevan's career is that he averages 86.25 when Aus has won matches, chasing (includes 3 of his 6 ODI hundreds). Shows his great match finishing ability.

    I will give a list of matches which Bevan won for Aus when they were completely down & out of the game & also ODI match winner criteria, whenever Ananth will do a blog on ODI's.

  • Boll on January 10, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    It seems that Hussey`s recent retirement has sparked a bit of discussion about ODI batsmen - as, to be fair, has the wonderful World Test XV extravaganza. I`m more than happy to join in, and hope that people don`t feel as if things are being drawn too far away from the original focus of the article.

    Be that as it may; I think Michael Bevan was a brilliant cricketer. His ODI record needs little reinforcement - one of the best the game has seen. However, as a 4/5 day player I think he often gets short shrift. His first class record (ave.57 plus with the bat, almost 20,000 runs) suggests that he was a superb batsman. Most of those were score in Aus, and you simply don`t end up with that sort of record unless you`re the real deal against all types of bowling.

    Unfortunately, unlike Martyn/Hayden he didn`t get another shot to prove himself. His all-round performance against WI in 1996/7 was excellent. After a few failures he was branded an ODI only - brilliant player.

  • Waspsting on January 10, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    is what framed Bevan's game. He didn't need to have the hitting power of Klusener - but Klusener, following the relatively less aggresive SA line up couldn't have afforded to play like Bevan.

    That said, Bevan was as good at what he did as he could be - all credit to him for that. [[ Instead of looking at any overall context much will be gained by looking at specific matches. First inns target: 250 (Notional) Over-achievement or Under-achievement: by how much. Who was responsible. Second inns target: 275. They win. Who was responsible, at the top and middle. Opening stand of 70 in 10. Gilchruist 50 in 30. He gets credit. What was score when Beva/Hussey came in. 150 for 5 in 35 overs. Very tough task since only 30% overs and 35% wkt-resource avlbl. Overall 32.5. Runs reqd: 44%. What did Bevan/Hussey do. Took them to a win. They get lot of credit. And so on. A target-based algorithm will always work. The key is to look at the resource available-needed differential. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on January 10, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    the discussion re: Bevan's merits as an ODI player highlight the difficulties of comparing batsman in ODI.

    Everyone has a different job - so how to compare them under one broad category?

    for example, Gilchrist's was to a) get a team off to fast start and secondarily, bat long time. Compare that to Mark Waugh - whose job was probably the reverse.

    And that's comparing two openers. Comparing a #6 to an opener becomes well nigh impossible.

    IMO, Bevan did his job about as well as it could be done - all props to him for that. But others have had a much bigger job to do, and even if they haven't done it as well as Bevan has his, maybe they get the nod over him if we're forced to compare?

    Sort of like how a good manager is worth more than the worlds greatest waterboy (that's a bad and exaggerated example, but i hope it conveys the point)

    Matters are further confounded by a players job being based on his teams needs. Following a powerful, attacking line-up (cont)

  • Boll on January 10, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @Murray, re. snippets of information. The man in question is Dave Dawson - formerly of ACT and Tasmania, currently of NSW (opened for them in the past few Shield matches), and I believe still the only Australian cricketer to have scored a century and carried his bat on first-class debut.

    Son of Dr.Graham Dawson (Uni.Syd Blue in cricket) who made a bit of name for himself, in university cricketing circles at least, for scoring runs vs the visiting West Indians, and hooking Wes Hall for a 6 on University Oval.

    Unfortunately still no snippets I can share...will keep you posted though.

    cheers

  • Dr.talha on January 10, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    Ariz MOM never tells the u the real story. So my sincere advice is that, never use the MOM criteria for judging players. Recent Pak-Ind series is a very good example.

  • Ariz khan on January 10, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    Cont on Bevan There are 66 players who have scored over 1000 runs while remaining unbeaten, Bevan's strike rate is 58th in the list. In batting first there are 14 players with over 1000 runs (in not outs) Bevan is 12th in the list. In batting 2nd his position is 26th out of 27 players. He has also remained unbeaten on 5 occasions and team lost, I don't see a great ODI batsman doing that. I happened to see most of his matches live and I couldn't convince myself that he wasn't trying to remain unbeaten. Was lucky to be in strong Australian side, if he was in say SA, would have been kicked out for "NOT Trying Hard Enough", also in the 2nd innings chases he wouldn't have been coming at a time when asking rate was mostly lower than innings required run rate (because Aussies had so many "match losers" at the top). Zulu's performance in 99 World Cup could be aptly classified as finisher. Australia's S/R in which Bevan played was 84 as compared to Bevan's 74.

  • Ariz khan on January 10, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    @Dr.talha Thought wouldn't reply but what the heck. Define Match Winner

    Statsguru: Bevan has won 12 Man of the Match awards (MOM) in 232 matches There are 71 players with 12 or more MOM (a list dominated by batsmen!!). I sorted them for No of MOM for per match, Bevan stood at 67th position comfortably ahead of Jayawardene, S. Malik, Dravid and Murali. OK I'll try to define match winner, A player who hits the winning run is the match winner. Bevan was a good ODI batsman but no way better than some of his team mates. Of course he was their best batsman (probably also in the world) for about 2 years at around year 2000. Symonds was way better although he didn't have those not outs to inflate his averages but had better S/R.

  • Dr.talha on January 9, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    Here goes my list of Oscar's from 2000-2010

    2000 - Murali

    2001 - Pollock

    2002 - M Hayden

    2003 - Ponting

    2004 - D Martyn

    2005 - Flintoff

    2006 - Murali

    2007 - Kallis

    2008 - G.Smith/Steyn

    2009 - Strauss

    2010 - Sachin

  • Murray Archer on January 9, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    @ Dale

    No choice in his mind. Cricket, baseball anything was to him no fun if being a pro - He tried 6 months at Accrington (did ok). Ken was also Olympic standard 400 runner. Point is EVERYONE except by then maybe Johnston, was great at other sports... Lindwall, Rugby league, Morris Rugby Union. Harvey a better baseballer. Miller - a total physical freak ! As was a bit later Ron. CC McDonald a super tennis player... etc etc etc.

    I won't even mention how embarrassing to play Hassett in squash many years later. (Geoff Hunt was less embarrassing)

    Wrong thread - was a pre-comment to another in other.

  • dale on January 9, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    @Murray:The point about cricket being the highest sporting priority is well taken. For example one Ken Archer chose cricket over baseball!

  • Dr.talha on January 9, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Final words on Bevan:

    We dont usually use the word Match Winner for batsmen.

    But if there was one in any format, it would certainly be Michael Bevan in ODIs.

    And along with Sachin, Viv, Akram, Saqlain, Dhoni etc Bevan will most certainly be a part of my All-time ODI X1.

  • Dr.talha on January 9, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    Thats exactly my point Ariz. Credit goes to Hussey, he never made us feel that Bevan has retired. And lets not go into, players taking retirement after getting dropped. There is a whole list of Greats, doing that. Its not only Bevan. I wont name players from other countries,but there has been a number of such cases from my country. We know what happened with the 2 Ws after the 2003 ODI WC. We know Miandad was dropped from the 1994 NZL tour. We know the case of Afridi & Yousuf The list goes on & on..

    But as i mentioned in my earlier comments,the problem with players from our part of the world is that they dont accept this reality easily. Miandad again made a return in 96 WC, before finally reliazing its better to retire. Akram after the 2003 WC said "there is still 2 years of cricket left in me" Waqar not taking retirement till he was not included in the squad against the touring indians, one year after 2003 WC. And everyone knows what Afridi & Yousuf r up to..

  • Murray Archer on January 9, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    As long as the wrong blog is within this overall blogspace it does not matter. Ananth:

    :))) except it makes the follow on less sensible ;).

    Hope your shoulder is going ok - looking down the barrel at same operation shortly. Not keen, but......

  • Murray Archer on January 9, 2013, 2:17 GMT

    @ Anath - whoops - I somehow posted the above on wrong blog :( [[ As long as the wrong blog is within this overall blogspace it does not matter. Ananth: ]]

  • Murray Archer on January 8, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    RE : Cricket since Packer era.

    I will limit my comment to Australia only, as I know more about the people involved.

    I's quite possible the standard of Australian cricket has declined since it became a professional sport. It's also possible that it was already in decline due to other sports being professional.

    In the post WW2 period in Australia, almost every outstanding natural athlete continued with cricket. Playing cricket was the highest sporting priority in the land. Many a potential champion of tennis, golf, baseball, rugby, track olympics etc were playing cricket instead.

    As the other sports went more and more professional more gifted youngsters chose them.

    Since cricket became professional more talented youngsters - the type that wanted to play not work at their hobby, went surfing or.... (e.g Dirk Nannes chose skiiing.)

    The athleticism drain to Australian cricket has been immense. I'd suggest irreplaceable.

    (con't

  • Ariz khan on January 8, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    @Dr. talha I was referring to Bevan in ODIs only -- He was dropped in 2004, was never picked again. As for the gap, Australian selectors (like me) did not think that there would be a gap. They had so much batting talent floating around at that time. They would fill that imaginary gap and would make a little mountain over it. That's what Hussey did. Won't argue if you think otherwise, good for you.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 8, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    [[ Gerry Unnecessarily provocative, counter-productive and leading nowhere. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 8, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    - With Pakistan playing more regularly, with with their supply chain for quicks firing, - with West Indies beginning to show stability and perhaps on the way to finding a few more good bowlers and not being pushovers, - with Australia banking now more on pace than batting, - with England having a solid bank of quicks, - with South Africa remaining injury free despite poor pace bowling reserves, - With India reducing the frequency of playing Sri Lanka - with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe gradually fading away (at least fewer tests, and no euphoria about discovering new teams and globalizing) - with One Days seeing 2 new balls in the 34th over and 2 bouncers per over, I dont think Tendulkar needs to be worried about anyone reaching his records in a hurry. The days of 55+ averages may be over for the next 5 years. [[ The only thing I see, with a 25-33.3% possibility, is for Kallis to overtake Tendulkar in Tests. He missed a golden opportunity to notch up the 45th 100. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on January 8, 2013, 4:23 GMT

    Ariz i said "Retirement of S waugh & M Bevan from tests & ODI's respectively". There surely was a gap after Bevan retired from the ODI side. He was a wonderful ODI player. Hussey was special as he had the skills of both Bevan (in ODI's) & S Waugh (in tests). Believe me, not many had this ability in the history of the game.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 8, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    But Bevan did score 87* in a test on this pitch...against this attack

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EKmlJgpptY [[ I agree that this was a quality innings. And this was preceded by another good 85 against the same attack. But 785 runs at 29 in 18 Tests does not exactly inspire confidence: that too as a no.6 batsman. Ananth: ]]

  • Murray Archer on January 8, 2013, 2:23 GMT

    @ Bol "I keenly await snippets of information..." ..... now so do we :)

    "Jeez, bit harsh there on Gilly/McGrath perhaps" Yes very ! Was just totally thrown in that other blog (you know why. Was trying to present "real evidence" in face of propaganda brainwashing, rather than the more obvious laugh and turn on TV.

    Back to 2012 , having had a while to think, the main point to me has been the improvement from West Indies - board level down. I hope it continues. [[ Yes, a good West Indian team is the catalyst for the health of world cricket. I am happy that Gayle is back and seems to be enjoying himself. I cannot say the same for Samuels. He has had a phenomenal return. But he leaves something to be desired on the personal front. Even before the Warne fracas (I would fix blame at 66.67-33.33 between Warne-Samuels) he has shown signs of less than acceptable behaviour. I hope he gets out of it and gets back to winning Test matches for the West Indians. Ananth: ]]

  • Ariz khan on January 8, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    Just a minor correction Dr. talha, Bevan did not retire he was dumped. And you are right he did fill up the gap created by Waugh pretty well. But I don't think he filled the gap created by Bevan's omission. There wasn't any gap in the first place. [[ Bevan was a "limited" player with no Test pedigree at all. I am not sure whether he would have suceeded in the T20 format with his run-accumulation method of playing. Hussey was on top in all three formats. And he adopted beautifully for each format. Hussey's pull of balls pitched outside the off-stump was a truly great run-producer. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on January 7, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    a Hussey extravaganza

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

  • Boll on January 7, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    @Dr.talha/Ananth, yep at this point in time Hussey`s loss is going to be more keenly felt than Ponting`s, which is saying something. The crowd`s response to him in Sydney was wonderful, and heartfelt - `not only were you bloody good, and fought the good fight; you made us feel better about ourselves, our team, and cricket in general` (my interpretation of the response)...wish I`d been there.

    As an aside, my best mate`s younger brother was the Aussie 13th man for the match, in the rooms for all 5 days and final farewell celebrations for the great man - I keenly await snippets of information...

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 7, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    There must be many innings that I dont remember, but my favorite Hussey centuries were 122 and 116. In 122 he added a century stand for the last wicket, and Saffers were demoralized. 133* and 134* were also gems. [[ What is more important, he did all this with the minimum fuss. He donned his war-paint, walked in quietly, batted as only he could and when the task was finished (mostly in Ausralia's favour), walked away quietly, to sing the team song. And then on to his lovely 4 kids. He would have been embarrassed with the attention he got at SCG. But then the Aussies know their heroes. Comparisons, as they say, are odious !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on January 7, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    The greatness of M Hussey can be judged from the following example.

    Retirement of S waugh & M Bevan from tests & ODI's respectively was a huge loss for Aus. But guess what happened??

    A guy named M Hussey came and filled the gap, created by both the 2 aussie champs, PERFECTLY. Phenomenol in both the formats!!

    "Only you could have done that Hussey" [[ Well said, Dr.T. In my mind, a greater loss than Ponting because he was the quiet Australian (an oxymoron !!!) who ALWAYS delivered in all forms of cricket. It has affected me as much as the retirements of Dravid and Laxman. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on January 7, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    My list is based on a calendar year Gerry (from Jan-Dec).

    Ananth no wonder Hussey was known as Mr.Cricket. He not only had exceptional batting skills but has proved that his decision making is also superb. What a perfect way to retire!! May God give this ability to players from our part of the world as well. With a series win against Ind its a perfect time for Misbah & Younis, to retire, with respect(from ODIs). Rather than wait for something bad to happen and than deciding.

    As a Pak my msg to Hussey "Thank God u retired mate. U have given us some real nightmares in the past 3 to 4 years. It took us lot of time to recover from the mental truama that u gave in sydney test and T20 WC SF,2010."

    I consider the M Hussey T20 SF inns as the best in T20 till date. Marlon Samuel fans may disagree.He also played an absolute gem in the 2012 final.

    Hussey is THE ONLY batsman in history to avg 51.52 in tests & 48.15 in ODIs (Amla is better in ODIs, but lets wait till he retires)

    Cont..

  • Boll on January 7, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    @Murray Archer. Yeah, I knew scheduling was the reason - still has the stench of `killing the goose` about it though.

    Jeez, bit harsh there on Gilly/McGrath perhaps - we`ve all been able to watch their careers, if not play against them. In my, admittedly limited experience, of playing with and against v.good cricketers (Sydney first-graders/state players/occasional test players) at a lower level or in non-competitive matches I often remember thinking - yeah, not bad, but nothing special. Perhaps it`s the competition/desire/rise in overall standards which sorts the men from the boys - hard to agree with your assessment of two greats (in the spotlight for their whole careers) being blown out of proportion by propaganda though. They both did it against the best, for long periods, when it mattered.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 7, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Dr.Talha By 1982, I meant 1981-82. Lille and Holding were crashing through every lineup they came up against. Similarly, in 1988-89, Richards was the leading batsman for West Indies in Australia. Ambrose for 1992-93. Lara for 1998-99.

  • Murray Archer on January 7, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    @ Bol, Anath

    Re: ashes schedules.

    I think it had to happen because of ground availability. Balancing between World cup in Aust and Olympics in Eng. Out of all the possibles this crazy one became most probable.

  • Boll on January 7, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    @Ananth. No worries. Yep, 10 Ashes tests in a year (6 months?) is crazy - seems to reduce the significance of one of the few remaining marquee (5 test) series (Is it the only one left?), particularly the first one in England. There is a distinct possibility that one side will hold the Ashes for 5 months...crazy stuff.

    re. Aus in India. While England did a lot better than expected, and India looked very poor after the first test, I still think Aus will struggle. Losing Hussey is a huge blow, spin stocks look a big problem, as does Australia`s ability to counter a 2/3 pronged spin attack - no Cook or Pietersen to rely on; no Swann or Panesar to counter. You would think Clarke is going to have to bat out of his skin and 2 or 3 others are really going to have to stand up. A drawn series would be a big achievement; a win probably even more unexpected than England`s performance. Should be great viewing though - nothing better than small 4th innings chase on tough spinning tracks. Love it!

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 7, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    Waspsting, for chucking, elbow needn't straighten. It can stay bent. The snap comes from bending, not straightening the bent elbow, as is commonly supposed.

  • Murray Archer on January 6, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    @ Waspting

    I don't know or even care whether Murali's action was fair.

    I do think that when an Umpire makes a decision, the captain should NEVER disrespect it the way Ranatunga did that day.

  • Dr.talha on January 6, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    @Gerry Ambrose in 1993 and Lara in 99 r debatable, but ur 1982 & 89 selections r surprising. Lillie played 6 tests in 82 got only 17 wickets at an avg of 32. While Holding played only 2 tests. On the other hand Imran played 9 tests, took 62 wickets at a phenomenol avg of 13.29 and scored 393 runs at 49.12. Plus he led Pak to 3-0 whitewash of Aus and test match wins against Ind & Eng.

    In 89 Viv played 6 tests and averaged 35.87. My choice is Border because - 818 runs in 11 tests at 68 - Aus regained the ashes that year under his captaincy - Did not loose a single test that year - Not to forget his match winning bowling at sydney (11 wickets) and 75 & 64 at Sydney & Adelaide against the mighty WI.

    Lara was brilliant in 99 against aus but WI lost the other 4 tests badly against SAF & NZL that year, which shifted the balance towards Cairns, who was simply outstanding in NZL win in Eng & against WI. Cairns was amazing in 99. 548 runs at 39.14 & 47 wickets at 20.51.

  • Waspsting on January 6, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    dispassionately and impersonally feel that he chucks.

    My dispassionate and impersonal opinion is given here - with a full explanation, and the steps i took in reaching my conclusion

    Slow-mos pretty clearly show Larwood chucking his bouncers in the bodyline series, too (I'm ending everything today with an irrelevant tidbit)

    ---

    @Ananth - I'd have thought more of Johnson if he'd made it a point to let Hussey hit the winning runs. Results in the bag, so you can afford a gesture like that. [[ WS, not the case. Johnson's defensive push went a little too far and Hussey, the man he is, ran, probably by instinct. In some ways like the 99.94. Will be talked of for sometime to come. Ananth: ]] One of the funniest ends to an ODI i saw was Jayasuriya, who was passed 100 and flaying the bowling to all parts as SL moved to a comfortable victory, suddenly slowed down.

    He was blocking full tosses so that De Silva, in the 80s I think, could also reach a 100 - and the sudden manner in which he changed gears was pretty funny!

  • Waspsting on January 6, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    SWEAR there was no straightening at the elbow - but its nothing drastic if it is).

    Now coming back to "everyone chucks" and "therefore it must be a question of degree" to determine who gets to bowl and who doesn't..

    .. some studies came up w/ 15% as the point at which it becomes visible to the naked eye and therefore that's the point chosen.

    I've heard suggestions that the figure was arrived at specifically to accomadate Murali's doosra (and frankly, i believe it), and that's what many hold against him.

    My question though than is - if he didn't chuck the offbreak but did chuck the doosra (before the rules were revised for his special benefit, and given that we have to define chucking in terms of degree of flexing at the elbow...

    ... why would batsman have a hard time reading him? he's chucking one and not other, and chucking is defined as the point at which it becomes visible to the naked eye?

    i accept his action is fishy enough to arouse suspicion, accept that many will...

  • Waspsting on January 6, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    I don't think Murali chucked.

    First off, slow mo replays of several bowlers looked suspect to me - Walsh and McGrath particularly - but pretty much many bowlers.

    If you flick your wrist at delivery, it might actually be physically impossible to not 'flick' at the elbow joint, too.

    If that's the case - and the study suggesting all bowlers 'chuck'(?) suggests so - than chucking has to be a question of HOW MUCH, not if.

    Murali a)has more of a bent elbow than anyone and b)flicks his wrist a lot... making him appear to be a chucker.

    but a) is irrevelant, as long as arm doesn't straighten, and b) always LOOKS like chucking

    So far so good?

    I would watch Murali's arms coming over on slow mo, but place a book over the area of his wrist (IOW, watch his elbow without the distraction of the wrist flick)

    I'd recommend everyone do the same. I can't see any glaring evidence of straightening at the elbow doing this (even the movement at the shoulder is distracting, so i wouldn't ...

  • Murray Archer on January 6, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Our eyes in this house, all went moist when Hussey even got to bat - how he would was a known certainty! As ALWAYS, exactly as well as he could in the given circumstances !

    Back on 2012, I read somewhere on cricinfo the quotes of 2012. Many were amusing eg Siddle's take on Tendulkar "Siddle's first test wicket"

    Arjuna Ranatunga was quoted as saying that given modern actions he thought that maybe he should never have defended Murali's action......... WOW ! I never thought I'd hear that from Ranatunga !

    Of course he shouldn't have! But at least it wasn't Alan Walker or Charlie Griffiths... (no death - just of careers). If only Arjuna had seen Benaud's handling of Meckiff being rightly called. :( Lovely bloke Meckiff, as is Murali !

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 6, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    Dr.Talha - A few differences from your list. Being more biased towards bowlers, 1982 - Lillee / Holding 1989 - too many contenders - in the end Vivi Richards 1993 - Curtly Ambrose (cant see anyone within miles of him) 1999- Brian Lara

  • Ananth on January 6, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    My eyes went moist when the wholly unselfish Hussey ran the winning run for Johnson. Did not think for a moment that he should stay in the crease and score the winning run himself. That is the way he played the game and finished his career. In my opinion the ultimate players' player not just people's player. May his tribe flourish. His type does not walk the field often. Many might score more runs but very few would have played like this and departed in such graceful fashion. Mike, YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH YOU WILL BE MISSED, especially by the non-Australian followers. Ananth

  • Zubair Anwer on January 6, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    KP's Hundered to draw a test match against South Africa should be mentioned.

  • Shobhit on January 5, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Brilliant, as usual. I beg to disagree on your choice of best bowling spell though. Firstly, If you meant it to be simply a bowling spell. There is objective error: Anderson did not take all the three wickets in the same spell. He bowled Sehwag in the first over and then continued wicket-less of further four overs. Then after Swann got Pujara after some 20 overs, Anderson came back for second spell and took Sachin and Gautam. However, it qualifies to be one of the finest performances of the year. Secondly, your description of Nagpur wicket as deadest of dead runs the serious risk of hyperbole just to reinforce your personal choices. That was the same wicket where Ishant could draw figures of 28-9-49-3. Remember, its Ishant, no Steyn, or Godforbid Akram or Waqar. You could consider Steyn's energetic burst at WACA worthy an aption. [[ A pitch on which 5 wickets fell in the course of the last 170 overs must qualify as deadest of dead pitches, irrespective of what happened before. An average of 35 overs per wicket, one of these being Ojha's ??? I agree on Steyn's spell or for that matter Philander's Lord's spell as worthy substitutes. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on January 5, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    @Ananth. Yes, England`s win in India was an obvious landmark, although `the captaincy coup of the last 5 years` might be stretching it a little. I think you might also be overstating things a bit by referring to `Cook`s win in India` and `Clarke`s home loss to South Africa` - if team performance is paramount why isn`t Graeme Smith getting a mention, with a batting year on par with Cook and series wins in England and Aus under his belt, along with the No.1 crown? [[ Smith scored 400 runs fewer than Cook at the same average. A better captaincy record, though. Ananth: ]] No sweeping under the carpet; Aus were (eventually) beaten by a better South African team, although a drawn series probably would have more clearly reflected the overall balance. As a batting captain Clarke could not have done any more.

    England, although expected to struggle in Indian conditions, won quite easily in the end and showed the large gulf between the teams playing in that series - (how much would Clarke have loved a Swann in Adelaide?)

    A year`s a long time though, and it didn`t start in India in November. [[ I agree with all what you say. I have more what happened in the last quarter of the year. But the difference between Clarke and Cook in runs is not 48 to 106 but 12xx to 16xx. As Wasp or Ariz says, we can agree amicably to disagree. I think next month's Test series will be a litmus test. Australian pace bowling is probably 10-20% better than England's, their batting, sans Hussey, is at best par with England's and their spin bowling is 25% of England's. So overall they would start with a significant disadvantage. The less said about India the better. Completely disorganized, poorly led and the perfect candidate for overcoming. But India, the wounded tigers (agreed, aging and toothless) are going to prepare real turners and Australia would find it difficult. Let Clarke pull off either a major coup of winning or a minor cup of drawing the series, I will award the 2013 Oscar to Clarke in March. If required, another Oscar can be given at the end of the year. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr.talha on January 5, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Dinesh u r absolutely right about 1994 selection. Lara and Warne, the 2 giants of the game competed that year for the award. There was one more contender who made me think very deeply,and that was Salim malik. He scored 840 runs that year at 64.61. It included a match saving 200 and a 100 against the mighty Aus. He was one of the very few players till 1998 indian tour,who played Warne with such authority. Plus Malik was also the captian in 94 and led the team to 3 consecutive series wins.

  • Dr.talha on January 5, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    Ananth thats exactly the reason why i have chosen those years during which i have watched the game very closely, and not those when i was not even born. @Dinesh. This list is based on just test match performances, thats y no Sanath or Aravinda in 96. I have considered sample size as well. The reason for not giving any award in 96 is simply the low number of matches. Actually in the years during which the ODI WC took place,the number of test matches played were on the lower side.All the players who performed well in 96 played very few tests.

    In 98 Sachin was brilliant, but he played only 5 tests. Though he scored 647 runs at 80.87, which is quite remarkable.

    My list for 98 included M waugh, Donald, Pollock and Taylor.Both the SAF bowlers were outstanding that year esp Donald, but i went for M Waugh because he scored runs against a variety of attacks and in quite different territories. And 2 his 4 hundreds that year were match winning and one match saving.

  • Boll on January 5, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    @BCG cont`d. Yes, Clarke scored most of his runs playing at home (8 of 11 tests there) and had an average series with the bat in his one chance away. No, he didn`t score many runs at either test played in Perth...but really, we can`t ask for everything. 1600 runs at over 100; SR 66; 3 doubles ( 2 in a row against the best attack in the world) and a triple; a match-winning 5 wickets in the 4th innings of the decider in WI (4 of the top 6 batsmen); all as captain. Jeez, if that doesn`t deserve an Oscar nothing ever will.

    Not to take anything away from Cook, whose batting in India was superb. However, 1200 runs for the year (11 more innings than Clarke) at 48, SR 42, just doesn`t compare. In the challenging conditions you mention in the UAE he averaged 27; against WI (in England) he scored fewer runs than Clarke did in his 3 tests in the Caribbean; against SAf he averaged 33. In his first 11 tests of the year (21 innings) he averaged about 35,(3x50, 1x100) - Clarke by a country mile. [[ Yes, certainly, in Batting. And it has been said in no uncertain terms in the article. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on January 5, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    Yep, don`t mind the Oscars (pretty good list there Dr.talha). Ananth has clearly set it as Test Player of the Year, so I hope others will keep that in mind as well (@Dinesh I think SL only played 3 tests for 1996 which puts them out of the running, and Tendulkar only played 5 in 1998..perhaps Healy/Donald respectively would be my calls).

    @B.C.G. I think you`re being a little tough/nit-picking on Clarke there, and rather less stringent on Cook - whose performances until an exceptional series in India were decidedly average... [[ Boll This is not an Oscar based on batting or bowling. Captaincy plays a very important part. In my opinion the captaincy coup of the past 5 years is Cook's win in India. That has to carry a lot of weight. And Clarke's home loss to South Africa cannot be swept under the carpet. I thought you would be quite upset with that. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on January 5, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    If i was voting for Cricket Oscar for year, almost always a bowler would get my vote.

    Re: Clarke & Cook... I tend to not weigh match/series outcome all that much in assessing individual performances. Many, including I know Ananth disagree - that's fine.

    Clarke's year I think suffers a bit from the cricketing equivalent of a quote attributed to Stalin - "a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic".

    Average 50-60 and we say, "wow, guy had a great year". Average 100 - its just a number that says guy had a great year (certainly don't think of it as double 50)

    Back to back double hundreds at break neck speed against that SA attack... i'd have given longer odds on that than on 3 100s in Ind, or a Eng series win there. 4 in a year - well, it never having been done before says it all. (odds not very high in any of the above cases, of course)

    That said, I'm happy to see an opener get a prize. Often, they don't get the credit they deserve relative to middle order. [[ WS, I seriously considered Swann and Herath. But most of Herath's wickets were at home. Swann got only 10 wickets in 5 home Tests but had stronger credentials. Between Swann and Cook, there was no competition. Ananth: ]]

  • Avi Singh on January 5, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Ananth, McCullum has quickly realised exactly what you pointed out about needing Taylor after the opening session of the Newlands Test!

    Although I am one of the few who will stick up for his decision to bat first - if a captain cannot back his batsmen to last two sessions on the opening day of a Test, then he may as well forfeit the game at the toss, in my humble opinion.

  • Dinesh on January 4, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    @Dr.Talha:

    Thats a nice list, but i would contend three choices here. 1994 would most probably be Given to Lara/Warne.

    Lara had the most impact along with Warne.

    Coming to 1996: It has to be a Srilankan without a doubt. Jayasurya or Aravinda De silva.

    1998: The year of Tendulkar. The kind of peak which many Greats rarely see. So 1998 Has to be Tendulkar's.

  • Dr.talha on January 4, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    I will give my list of Oscars from year 2000 onwards next week. And give my selection criteria as well. I have considered batting, bowling, captaincy(if captain)etc..

  • Dr.talha on January 4, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    1991 - Gooch

    1992 - Border

    1993 - Warne

    1994 - Warne

    1995 - S Waugh

    1996 - No Award

    1997 - Mcgrath

    1998 - M Waugh

    1999 - Chris Cairns

    Cont..

  • Dr.talha on January 4, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Here goes the list:

    1981 - Botham

    1982 - Imran

    1983 - Lloyd

    1984 - Greenidge

    1985 - Gower

    1986 - Hadlee

    1987 - Imran

    1988 - Marshall

    1989 - Border

    1990 - Wasim Akram

    Cont..

  • Dr.talha on January 4, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    Ananth i like the introduction of Oscar.

    Why not go back in time and look, who could have won the oscars.

    I started watching cricket in the 80's. I am a student of this game. I have read a lot about cricket before 80's, discussed it with experts, seen the highlights availbale and offcourse stats are always there to guide u. But going by the phrase 'seeing is believing' i will give a list of Oscar's of the past 3 decades, from 1981 onwards.

    Cont.. [[ I would never attempt this since the concerned years are too far back and it is easy to forget something truly great. Ananth: ]]

  • B.C.G. on January 4, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Cook deserves his Oscar. Re Clarke-It's not just about losing a series.Clarke scored 1407 runs at a 100+ average playing at home.He played 3 tests away in the Caribbean(as captain)& scored only 188 runs.Clarke also failed on tough surfaces at Perth twice(Ind & SA).Cook faced challenging conditions in the U.A.E & India & emerged as England's batsmen.

    PS-Lets hope in 2013;Clarke doesn't suffer an unusual loss of form playing away(India/England). Else without Ussey I fear for Australia's position come 2014.

  • dale on January 4, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Dinesh Ramdin(2) centuries is the only wicketkeeper scoring more than one century for 2012.de Villiers,Wade and Watling were the only others who crossed 100. Who would be the keeper of 2012?

    2012 was not a particularly good year for allrounders. Kallis remains the steadiest of the lot .. making runs, poaching catches and chipping in with vital wickets while Watson simply cannot cope with the every day grind of being a test allrounder... Shakib Al Hasan is hampered by the amount of Tests Bangladesh All others are bowlers who can bat a bit - Philander,Swann ?

  • Murray Archer on January 3, 2013, 20:49 GMT

    "Accepting the umpires decision"

    and to think we all couldn't stop laughing when Taufel told us he's giving up playing and going to become an Umpire. Getting paid well to travel to watch cricket can't have been near as silly as it sounded at the time ?

    Might have been the one promising young quickie getting hurt that worked out well !

    Umpires used to ALWAYS be right ! ( although ct 2nd slip had me wondering while limping off once...... The outside of my boot was nearly as red as the broken toe inside. lol)

  • Lokesh on January 3, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    Ananth, Cricket related reading in 2012 was both enjoyable and informative thanks to you!!! Looking forward to a great 2013.

  • Boll on January 3, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Perhaps I`m just dreading the thought of the 10 Ashes test over the next year... and watching session after session of Cook/Trott partnerships again - spare me the agony! [[ Why this silly schedule. the Ashes in Australia could have been in 2014 or vice versa. If Khawaja bats at no.3, some one is bound to say, spare me the Cowan-Khawaja partnerships. Although on urrent form Cook and Trott are likely to be a few sessions ahead of any second wicjket partnership of Australia. What is qrong with Watson when he crosses 50. The last 10 times he did that he has not reached 100. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on January 3, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    Very nice to be able to look back over the year that was - an article which covered pretty much everything. I particularly enjoyed the `Abiding Memories` section - I`m sure we all have our own personal favourites as well.

    As a very young boy I well remember my father (coach at the time) telling me to always except the umpire`s decision; so I`ll let the Cook (average 36 in his first 11 tests of the year) vs Clarke (a wonderful first year as captain, sublime year with the bat, 18 catches, and a match winning/series clinching 5-for in WI ) debate go through to the `keeper, look briefly at the upraised finger, put my bat under my arm, and walk straight off... [[ We are two people who have always accepted the umpire's decision. I also accept that the umpire could also make a mistake. However the home series loss of Australia still pains me and I guess, most Aussies. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on January 3, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    @Gerry - agree wholeheartedly re: Pietersen's innings vs SA.

    The kind of collaring he gave the high quality fast attack - repeated hooks with two men back and the straight six from Steyn stand out for me - I don't think even Viv could have done better. [[ Yes, I agree that it was a masterpiece. The only reason I selected the Mumbai innings was that ultimately it was a match-series-winning one, that too from the despairs of Ahmedabad. Ananth: ]]

  • MS Hussain on January 3, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    Hi Ananth, Just a thought on Cook and Pups performaces comparison over the year, how did you weight Cooks performance in the series in UAE against Pakistan (when Cooks team was ranked number 1) in the over all performance for the year, was he able to salvage some thing for his team. Can you identify any such inapt / out of sort series performance for Clarke during the year.

    Other thing is rank batting perofrmance on batting alone and not on captaincy, bowling or fielding etc. Regards MS Hussain [[ It is obvious that you have not read the article or comments properly. I have given below two extracts from the article and comments. I sugegst you re-read everything properly. Article "" This was the year of Clarke. 4 double centuries (including a triple), an average exceeding 100, nearly 150 runs a Test, all make this Clarke's year and possibly the best year for a batsman. "" Comments "" Clarke. In my opinion the greatest Batsman-year ever."" Ananth: ]]

  • dale on January 3, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    It is good to see two of cricket's most unassuming batsmen continue to be among the most effective players. They are Kallis(104.88) and Chanderpaul(109.66)who joins Clarke(145) and Amla (106.4)as the only batsmen to average over 100 runs per Test for the year. The WI board in all their "wisdom" tried to drop and then force Chanderpaul to retire about 3 seasons ago.Thankfully he outed them with his open letter which was published on the Cricinfo site. The return of Chris Gayle to the WI team was mainly due to the intervention of the Jamaican Prime Minister Madame Portia Simpson who confronted the board in no uncertain manner thereby forcing their hand.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    It happened in 2013, but in the wake of several recent high profile endings. Chris Martin Jenkins enlivened many an evening, and in the days of total suspense, when there was no internet, his end-of-day summaries were invaluable, and delivered with consummate assurance. Among my favorite radio commentators.

  • dale on January 2, 2013, 23:05 GMT

    I think SA are deservedly on top in the teams performance measure. Looking at the alternate team performance measure Australia would seem to be the top team but as you correctly stated (in regards to Clarke)Australia's failure to to close out against SA in Adelaide plus the subsequent defeat in the following test hurt them badly. Pakistan performed quite creditably special mention to Azhar Ali (bat) Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman(ball). Re:top bowling performances - great to see 4 spinners being featured especially Herath,yes, he is very under-rated. His 6 (WPT)for the year is only bettered by Saeed Ajmal's 6.5 (WPT)

  • Murray Archer on January 2, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    Another significant retirement has been that of Simon Taufel.

    He's been a much better umpire than most. [[ Yes, he certainly deserves a mention. An added plus with Simon is that he also looks like my all-time favourite sportsman, Federer !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on January 2, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Re: New Zealand is realizing the folly of their Board's misdeeds

    Exactly, in India we have selectors whom Amarnath called a bunch of Jokers, someone might come out and say that the Entire New Zealand board is one. I dont think they will find out a better player than Taylor when they already have to be content with some of those players who will struggle to get into 2nd XI of some of the teams.

    I think the game is losing more because of the Inept and Clueless Administrators which these guys are not realizing.

  • Moinuddin Ali on January 2, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    A lovely article written without any prejudice. I believe the real gtest for Pakistan will come when Pakistan tours South Africa and west Indies. Pakistan has never beaten these two countries in their backyard and maybe 2013 is the year.

  • Imran on January 2, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    Interesting how 4 of the 5 best bowling performances came against England. Were other sides simply unlucky that they didn't get a crack at England this year to improve their bowlers' stats? [[ That said, England recovered very well during the later half of the year. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on January 2, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    Hello Ananth:

    Dint knew you were so punctual. Bang on time for the article.

    Me favorite would be Pieterse's 186. He took the conditions, the pitch, the opposition , the Situation and almost everything out of the equation and played an Innings which even Indians would have enjoyed even though it was against us. I dont know if this innings is among the top 100 of your innings ratings, but Surely mine.

    And Today Our Favorite batsman has done it again. Boy i am happy that i could see him play three balls and he didnot have a clue where two of them were heading. I am gonna have a great 2013 given that on the second day itself i could see the Phantom Bat(if we can say that) three balls. You beauty [[ Unfortunately we have the usual Cable TV goof-ups. Ten Cricket does not appear. So I had only the Internet to rely on. Could not see Martin's innings. Somehow he managed to remain not out. New Zealand is realizing the folly of their Board's misdeeds. In a way they have done what West Indies Board did in 2007. Told Lara that there was no guarantee of his selction for the England tour. He said "Thanks, but no way". Maybe Taylor might say the same thing. Ananth: ]]

  • akshat on January 2, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    nice article ananth. according to your analysis , where would rhinos century against Pakistan in Chennai rank , considering all the circumstances ( arch rivals Pakistan ,29-5 ,off field pressures , heat and humidity of Chennai etc ) , irrespective of result ? [[ This is an analysis on Test matches of 2012. Ananth: ]]

  • Jackwin on January 2, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    In your appraisal of the year in ODIs it was a bit disappointing not to see Kohli's phenomenal performances mentioned..I think it was the greatest 10 match streak in the history of odi cricket...statistically...:-) [[ This is an analysis on Test matches of 2012. Ananth: ]]

  • Avi Singh on January 2, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Hi Ananth, thanks for kindly adding Boucher and Lee, but I realised I too forgot another 100-Test cricketer, Andrew Strauss! [[ Will add. Ananth: ]] The NZ captaincy saga is my personal non-story of the year. To those of us who are up to date on New Zealand cricket, it comes as no surprise that NZC administrators proved, yet again, to be totally inept at doing what they are supposed to! It's almost miraculous that Taylor lasted as long as he did during Hesson's reign given the latter's Otago links with Brendon McCullum... [[ Terrible. Look at the way Taylor batted when New Zealand had their surprise win in Sri Lanka. McCullum cannot do better (without Taylor) than Taylor (with McCullum). Ananth: ]] Cheers Avi

  • Humzah on January 2, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    A look at the Test bowlers of 2012! Saeed Ajmal had the most positive year as his Strike Rate was the lowest and 39 wkts in 6 matches.

  • Murray Archer on January 2, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    Agreed - totally different ! Siddle/ Johnson/ Starc may feature in both ? [[ I am not sure what were the speeds of Bird. If he was consistently 140+ , he would be good value in India. Ananth: ]] "Where is the second spinner. Assuming that Lyon would be passable as the first."

    That's a HUGE question... In short Holland is out :(. I suspect they're hoping Maxwell might be ok (like thinking White or Smith would be *shakes head) and would be looking at Beer.

    Although we (Aussies) all do like a rofl "Lyon Nathan Beer", they look extremely underdone to me as bowlers ! I like Cameron Boyce, but don't feel that's generally shared. We will be picking a defensive team for India !

    I'd like a Ryan Harris anywhere... but it's a lottery these days :( .

  • Murray Archer on January 2, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    Re Cummins :

    I have heard noises (totally unofficial) that Pat has started growing again (not entirely uncommon in a 19/20 yo). The growing, along with the stresses of bowling very fast are a problem for him :(. Not one 1st class game in 2012 ! :(

    Imagine if he grows much more ? He may take the title for tallest.. It was always a huge ask to have an 18 yo come in and excel! Whether on not he'll have the drive to come back and succeed, and whether he needs to change action and maybe lose pace are big considerations for his future.

    Pattinson will eventually be ok (? I hope)... he just tries too hard and leaves nothing on the pitch (quite rightly).

    For mine, the man Aust most needs around for 1 or 2 more years is Harris! Starc is showing promise too. Bird & Hilfenhaus could conceivably win an Ashes series. (being the right type in England).

    Who knows ? Johnson being ICC player of the year 2013, would not entirely surprise me - I certainly chuckled @ G Smith's quote :). [[ The pace combination they need in India is quite different to what they need in England. Hilfenhaus would be ineffective in India. They need a little bit of extra pace. Probably Siddle, Bird, Pattinson/Cummins and the two left-arm pacemen for India. Where is the second spinner. Assuming that Lyon would be passable as the first. Ananth: ]]

  • Murray Archer on January 1, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    As always, beautifully written Anath (and thanks Milind).

    Bench warmer of the year .... Mitchell Johnson (what can be done with someone sometimes so good and sometimes so bad ?).

    RE : 1258 runs for the loss of two wickets!!!. The 622 in Aust had another 214 added (next match) before the next wicket fell..... also the South African's added another 120 in England (next match)........ 1592 for 2 wickets ?.... amazing !

    "He and Harmeet Singh could walk into the Indian senior team." Was more than a little surprised Harmeet didn't get a call-up. He certainly looked a fine bowler to me ! (lovely body action over front foot !)

    I would think Amla and Smith in Perth deserve a mention as a top partnership. In the blink of an eye, they'd shifted gears, and took the series away in less than two hours. [[ Yes, that was a nearly run-a-ball partnership, they type of partnerships Sehwag, Hayden, Pietersen or Gilchrist would have been proud to be part of.I also thought at the end of the Australia innings and seeing Steyn bowl that South Africa would be in trouble. Would make a reference in the article. Ananth: ]] Who would have ever thought a few years back that we'd have 3 left arm finger spinners in top bowling performances of a year ?

  • Raj Balakrishnan on January 1, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Excellent article. I guess similar ones for ODIs and T 20s will follow. Wish you and all the readers a very happy and prosperous new year. [[ No, Raj. I will not be doing a limited overs specific article. I have mentioned this in this article itself. Too many topics are pending. Ananth: ]]

  • Uday on January 1, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    Loved the BCCI Ostrich comparison. Very very apt.

    The other huge non-story of the year - the KP texting saga. For sheer absurdity, I think it beats even the Sachin ton of tons.

    For what its worth, Im with Gerry and my vote for innings of the year goes to KP's 149 against South Africa. His Mumbai innings was spectacular too, but it was against a much weaker bowling attack.

    Im with you on the Oscar going to Cook, although I don't think Australia's inability to close out Adelaide can be laid at Clarke's feet. Cook I think deserves it for showing his country's media, fans, establishment and most of his own batsmen that subcontinental tracks and spinners (at least the non-Ajmal variety) can be conquered with plain old good batting. And incidentally, for sparing us what would have otherwise been a torrent of English whinging about the pitches.

    Somehow, somewhere, I'd love to see Tino Best's 95 from No. 11 get mentioned!! [[ ALready there is a debut-century at no.10. But I watched it and it was great fun. Ananth: ]] Hope 2013 brings many more superb articles from you Ananth.

  • omar on January 1, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Nice article but i think you did not appreciate ajmal and abdul rehman as much as they deserved.Also you should give a compromise to Pakistan in the ranking points for not playing even a single match at home. thanks [[ You seem to have made the comments without reading the article. 1. Both Ajmal's 7-wkt spell and Rehman's 6-wkt spell, while defending 140, have been included in the top-5 and have been described fully. 2. Ajmal's spell is indeed my spell of the year. 3. I have mentioned that Pakistan did quite well despite playing away from home. What more do you want. Pl re-read the article. Ananth: ]]

  • Priyank Misra on January 1, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    Anantha, superbly written article. Could you please post the link to the your statement saying that Jayawardene's 180 has moved into the all-time top-20? [[ No, that is only my internal work which is not posted anywhere. You will see this Innings Ratings work related article sometime during the first half of this year. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on January 1, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    I disagree with your "Cricket Oscar" prize for Cook over Clarke.

    Captaincy is so subjective in terms of to what extent captaincy contributes to result.

    Cook's batting I applaud, but clearly, Clarke was considerably more successful here

    but Cook gets the edge based on series result in which he was captain vs Clarke's series result as captain?

    I feel that so subjective and open a measure as series result for a captain can't make up for a difference in batting average of 48 to 106!\ [[ What were the odds on England winning the series in India. Before Ahmedabad Test? 3-1 against. After the England first innings at Ahmedabad? 5-1 against. After the England second innings at Ahmedabad? Back to 4-1. After Indian first innings at Mumbai? 5-1 against. Slowly Cook changed this, ball by ball. Forget about averages. Cook opened the batting and was bound to fail more often. Cook's batting was totally different style. In England's win, Cook's contributions have to be pegged at no less than 40%. This win was most unexpected. This is being said with no disrespect to Clarke. In my opinion the greatest Batsman-year ever. Pl see response to Sifter also. Ananth: ]]

  • Jay on January 1, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Anantha,

    Good article! But I think due to your grudges over Indian results you have bashed BCCI too much. Moreover, more umpiring errors went against India than England! [[ Let me clear two points. I have no grudge over Indian results. I am not a great fan of Indian cricket and they got what was deserved. If you think BCCI is correct in its dealings, soon you will find yourself in a small minority. I am not going to waste time on the umpiring decisions. You could go back and check. It was clearly 6-4 in India's favour. Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on January 1, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    Seems a little unfair to Clarke to give the Oscar to Cook just because Australia could only get 8 wickets instead of 10 vs SA. Clarke had no Watson to call on that match for extra bowling, and Pattinson left the match injured halfway through leaving Siddle and Hilfenhaus overburdened. Wade dropped Faf du Plessis just before lunch on the last day and he was the one man Australia couldn't finish off. He also didn't have access to a spinner of Panesar/Swann quality to get last day wickets on a wearing pitch. NONE of those things are Clarke's fault! He scored more runs than Cook despite playing 11 innings less, often coming in at 3/50ish given Australia's sketchy top order. We will agree to disagree! [[ Your points are very well made. Captaincy, may be difficult to define, has to play an important point in determing someone who moved the Cricket world. Otherwise we will only reward batsmen/bowlers. Let me conclude this. If Clarke had managed to win at Adelaide, I am almost certain that I would have considered a lot more deeply but would have still given the Oscar to Cook. Australia would still have only drawn the series and be no.2/3. If Clarke had won at Adelaide after winning at Brisbane, then I would CERTAINLY have given the Oscar to Clarke. So, as of now, let us agree to disagree. Pl see my response to Waspsting also. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 1, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    My favourite performances were Pietersen's 149 against South Africa. After Viv Richards, I dont remember anyone collaring a high quality bowling attack. Even Gilchrist, about whom South Africa had nightmares in 2002, did not do this to a great attack. Pietersen batted contemptuously even against the new ball. A close second would be Amla's 196 in Perth.

    In bowling, Dale Steyn's performance in Perth in Australia Ist inn, including the incredible ball that dismissed Clarke and turned the series when it was delicately balanced. [[ I have no arguments at all. Any of Pietersen's 3 great innings could be chosen. About Steyn's spell, I am not that sure. On the Perth wicket, (top) 4 for 50 is indeed very good. But ahead of so many other match-winning spells??? Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin-2 on January 1, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    12-1-1-10 in the last 12 matches for India is pretty much deserving ... infact Bangladesh and Zimbabwe might point that they played only 2 and 1 matches respectively this year, otherwise they might have surpassed India .. And there should be a relaegation system in place for test playing nations where last 2 countries are stripped off the test playing status for the next year .... [[ The Indian results you have shown are only against the top teams. The two home wins are not included. Too radical because there are already only 10 teams. A better bet would have been the Test Championships with prize money starting at 10 million dollars for the winning team to half a million for the 10th placed team. And a well-thought out championship would have meant that all teams would take sufficient interest. Unfortunately this idea was scuttled by the broadcasters on commercial grounds. Ananth: ]]

  • Avi Singh on January 1, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Interesting insights as always, thanks for the review piece. I'd like to add to your section on 'the stories that mattered' which mentioned the four big retirements of Dravid, Laxman, Ponting and Tendulkar in ODIs. Mark Boucher and Brett Lee also said sayonara to international cricket, the former in awful circumstances, this year past and their contributions were also vast and lengthy. Adding their names into your piece would serve as appropriate recognition of those two. [[ Will add, Avi. Two worthy long-standing masters of their craft. Ananth: ]] Wishing you a prosperous New Year Avi

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  • Avi Singh on January 1, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Interesting insights as always, thanks for the review piece. I'd like to add to your section on 'the stories that mattered' which mentioned the four big retirements of Dravid, Laxman, Ponting and Tendulkar in ODIs. Mark Boucher and Brett Lee also said sayonara to international cricket, the former in awful circumstances, this year past and their contributions were also vast and lengthy. Adding their names into your piece would serve as appropriate recognition of those two. [[ Will add, Avi. Two worthy long-standing masters of their craft. Ananth: ]] Wishing you a prosperous New Year Avi

  • Nitin-2 on January 1, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    12-1-1-10 in the last 12 matches for India is pretty much deserving ... infact Bangladesh and Zimbabwe might point that they played only 2 and 1 matches respectively this year, otherwise they might have surpassed India .. And there should be a relaegation system in place for test playing nations where last 2 countries are stripped off the test playing status for the next year .... [[ The Indian results you have shown are only against the top teams. The two home wins are not included. Too radical because there are already only 10 teams. A better bet would have been the Test Championships with prize money starting at 10 million dollars for the winning team to half a million for the 10th placed team. And a well-thought out championship would have meant that all teams would take sufficient interest. Unfortunately this idea was scuttled by the broadcasters on commercial grounds. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 1, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    My favourite performances were Pietersen's 149 against South Africa. After Viv Richards, I dont remember anyone collaring a high quality bowling attack. Even Gilchrist, about whom South Africa had nightmares in 2002, did not do this to a great attack. Pietersen batted contemptuously even against the new ball. A close second would be Amla's 196 in Perth.

    In bowling, Dale Steyn's performance in Perth in Australia Ist inn, including the incredible ball that dismissed Clarke and turned the series when it was delicately balanced. [[ I have no arguments at all. Any of Pietersen's 3 great innings could be chosen. About Steyn's spell, I am not that sure. On the Perth wicket, (top) 4 for 50 is indeed very good. But ahead of so many other match-winning spells??? Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on January 1, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    Seems a little unfair to Clarke to give the Oscar to Cook just because Australia could only get 8 wickets instead of 10 vs SA. Clarke had no Watson to call on that match for extra bowling, and Pattinson left the match injured halfway through leaving Siddle and Hilfenhaus overburdened. Wade dropped Faf du Plessis just before lunch on the last day and he was the one man Australia couldn't finish off. He also didn't have access to a spinner of Panesar/Swann quality to get last day wickets on a wearing pitch. NONE of those things are Clarke's fault! He scored more runs than Cook despite playing 11 innings less, often coming in at 3/50ish given Australia's sketchy top order. We will agree to disagree! [[ Your points are very well made. Captaincy, may be difficult to define, has to play an important point in determing someone who moved the Cricket world. Otherwise we will only reward batsmen/bowlers. Let me conclude this. If Clarke had managed to win at Adelaide, I am almost certain that I would have considered a lot more deeply but would have still given the Oscar to Cook. Australia would still have only drawn the series and be no.2/3. If Clarke had won at Adelaide after winning at Brisbane, then I would CERTAINLY have given the Oscar to Clarke. So, as of now, let us agree to disagree. Pl see my response to Waspsting also. Ananth: ]]

  • Jay on January 1, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Anantha,

    Good article! But I think due to your grudges over Indian results you have bashed BCCI too much. Moreover, more umpiring errors went against India than England! [[ Let me clear two points. I have no grudge over Indian results. I am not a great fan of Indian cricket and they got what was deserved. If you think BCCI is correct in its dealings, soon you will find yourself in a small minority. I am not going to waste time on the umpiring decisions. You could go back and check. It was clearly 6-4 in India's favour. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on January 1, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    I disagree with your "Cricket Oscar" prize for Cook over Clarke.

    Captaincy is so subjective in terms of to what extent captaincy contributes to result.

    Cook's batting I applaud, but clearly, Clarke was considerably more successful here

    but Cook gets the edge based on series result in which he was captain vs Clarke's series result as captain?

    I feel that so subjective and open a measure as series result for a captain can't make up for a difference in batting average of 48 to 106!\ [[ What were the odds on England winning the series in India. Before Ahmedabad Test? 3-1 against. After the England first innings at Ahmedabad? 5-1 against. After the England second innings at Ahmedabad? Back to 4-1. After Indian first innings at Mumbai? 5-1 against. Slowly Cook changed this, ball by ball. Forget about averages. Cook opened the batting and was bound to fail more often. Cook's batting was totally different style. In England's win, Cook's contributions have to be pegged at no less than 40%. This win was most unexpected. This is being said with no disrespect to Clarke. In my opinion the greatest Batsman-year ever. Pl see response to Sifter also. Ananth: ]]

  • Priyank Misra on January 1, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    Anantha, superbly written article. Could you please post the link to the your statement saying that Jayawardene's 180 has moved into the all-time top-20? [[ No, that is only my internal work which is not posted anywhere. You will see this Innings Ratings work related article sometime during the first half of this year. Ananth: ]]

  • omar on January 1, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Nice article but i think you did not appreciate ajmal and abdul rehman as much as they deserved.Also you should give a compromise to Pakistan in the ranking points for not playing even a single match at home. thanks [[ You seem to have made the comments without reading the article. 1. Both Ajmal's 7-wkt spell and Rehman's 6-wkt spell, while defending 140, have been included in the top-5 and have been described fully. 2. Ajmal's spell is indeed my spell of the year. 3. I have mentioned that Pakistan did quite well despite playing away from home. What more do you want. Pl re-read the article. Ananth: ]]

  • Uday on January 1, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    Loved the BCCI Ostrich comparison. Very very apt.

    The other huge non-story of the year - the KP texting saga. For sheer absurdity, I think it beats even the Sachin ton of tons.

    For what its worth, Im with Gerry and my vote for innings of the year goes to KP's 149 against South Africa. His Mumbai innings was spectacular too, but it was against a much weaker bowling attack.

    Im with you on the Oscar going to Cook, although I don't think Australia's inability to close out Adelaide can be laid at Clarke's feet. Cook I think deserves it for showing his country's media, fans, establishment and most of his own batsmen that subcontinental tracks and spinners (at least the non-Ajmal variety) can be conquered with plain old good batting. And incidentally, for sparing us what would have otherwise been a torrent of English whinging about the pitches.

    Somehow, somewhere, I'd love to see Tino Best's 95 from No. 11 get mentioned!! [[ ALready there is a debut-century at no.10. But I watched it and it was great fun. Ananth: ]] Hope 2013 brings many more superb articles from you Ananth.

  • Raj Balakrishnan on January 1, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Excellent article. I guess similar ones for ODIs and T 20s will follow. Wish you and all the readers a very happy and prosperous new year. [[ No, Raj. I will not be doing a limited overs specific article. I have mentioned this in this article itself. Too many topics are pending. Ananth: ]]