Stats analysis: Dennis Lillee December 6, 2010

Determination personified

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
Dennis Lillee was an exceptionally skilled fast bowler, but his doggedness and endurance set him apart
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Dennis Lillee was described by Ian Chappell as "a captain's dream and a batsman's nightmare". Considering Lillee's outstanding bowling record, the statement is a pretty accurate one. He was one of the greatest match-winning bowlers in Tests, and together with Jeff Thomson formed one of the most potent new-ball pairs of the 1970s. During the span of his international career, Australia won 31 matches and lost 16 when Lillee played, but won only 15 and lost 28 when Lillee did not play. His numbers are up there with the best of fast bowlers and his record as one of Australia's greatest post-War bowlers is matched only by Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Lillee's stats are obviously outstanding, but they become even more impressive when seen in the context of the injury he suffered early in his career. Less than two years after his Test debut in 1971, Lillee was diagnosed with stress fractures, leading to his absence for over one year. He returned in November 1974 and went on to become the best bowler in the world over the next three years. It was also the most successful phase of his career as he picked up 120 wickets in just 21 matches with eight five-wicket and three ten-wicket hauls. He bowled Australia to two Ashes series triumphs and played a major role in the 5-1 win over Clive Lloyd's West Indies team in 1975-76. He played in World Series Cricket for two years from 1977 to 1979 before returning to international cricket in December 1979. The last five years of his career were also prolific as he added 184 wickets in 38 matches in this period, eventually finishing as the most successful Australian bowler in Tests. For Lillee's detailed career stats click here.

Lillee's career stats
Period Matches Wickets Average 5WI 10WM
Overall 70 355 23.92 23 7
1971-Feb 1973 11 51 24.15 4 1
Nov 1974-Mar 1977 21 120 23.20 8 3
Dec 1979-end 38 184 24.32 11 3

Almost half the Test wickets Lillee took were against England. With 167 scalps in 29 matches, Lillee was the most successful bowler in Australia-England Tests till Warne surpassed him in 2005. Only Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall and Glenn McGrath average lower than Lillee in Tests against England. He has four ten-wicket hauls in Ashes Tests, a record he shares with three other bowlers. His 11 five-wickets hauls in Ashes Tests is second only to Sydney Barnes' 12.

Lillee was one of the best bowlers in Australia, picking up 231 wickets. Among Australian bowlers who have picked up over 150 wickets in home Tests, Lillee's average is second only to McGrath's 22.43.

Best post-War bowlers against England (Qual: 100 wickets and 20 matches)
Bowler Matches Wickets Average 5WI 10WM
Curtly Ambrose 34 164 18.79 8 2
Malcolm Marshall 26 127 19.18 6 1
Glenn McGrath 30 157 20.92 10 0
Dennis Lillee 29 167 21.00 11 4
Ray Lindwall 29 114 22.44 6 0
Shane Warne 36 195 23.25 11 4

Lillee picked up more than 200 wickets in wins at an average of just over 18. Among Australian bowlers who have picked up more than 100 wickets in home wins, his average of just over 19 is the best.

Best bowlers in wins (min qualification 200 wickets in wins)
Bowler Wickets Matches won Wickets in wins Average in wins 5WI 10WM % of wickets in wins
Muttiah Muralitharan 800 54 438 16.18 41 18 54.75
Malcolm Marshall 376 43 254 16.78 17 4 67.55
Curtly Ambrose 405 44 229 16.86 13 3 56.54
Waqar Younis 373 39 222 18.20 14 4 59.51
Dennis Lillee 355 31 203 18.27 17 6 57.18
Shaun Pollock 421 49 223 18.30 9 1 52.96

The 1970s and 1980s witnessed some of the finest fast bowlers including Lillee, Richard Hadlee and Marshall. Lillee's overall performance is surpassed only by Marshall and Hadlee. However, Lillee took almost all his wickets in Australia and England; his stats outside those two countries and New Zealand were pretty ordinary. He played only five matches and took six wickets in Asia and the West Indies at an average of over 90. In contrast, Marshall and Hadlee were superb in the subcontinent, boasting averages of close to 22.

Comparison of bowling stats of top fast bowlers between 1970 and 1990
Bowler Overall wickets Avg Wickets(h) Avg Wickets(a) Avg Wickets(subcontinent) Avg
Malcolm Marshall 326 20.54 133 19.40 193 21.33 65 22.63
Richard Hadlee 396 22.21 182 23.00 214 21.55 68 21.58
Dennis Lillee 355 23.92 231 23.73 124 24.28 6 68.33
Bob Willis 325 25.20 176 23.50 149 27.20 44 23.22
Ian Botham 376 28.27 222 27.28 154 29.71 35 26.31

For almost 18 months between February 1973 and November 1974, Lillee did not play competitive cricket because of injuries, but came back strongly to become the world's best bowler over the next three years. In 1977, he played in World Series Cricket and demonstrated once again that he was at the peak of his career. In a series that featured the world's top fast bowlers, Lillee took the most wickets, though he also played the most matches, picking up 67 wickets in 14 games across the two seasons.

Performance of top bowlers in World Series Cricket
Bowler Team Matches played Wickets taken Average 5 10
Garth Le Roux World XI 3 17 15.88 2 0
Mike Procter World XI 4 14 16.07 0 0
Imran Khan World XI 5 25 20.84 0 0
Michael Holding West Indies 9 35 23.31 1 0
Andy Roberts West Indies and World XI 13 50 24.14 1 0
Joel Garner West Indies and World XI 7 35 24.77 1 0
Max Walker Australia 7 28 25.42 2 0
Dennis Lillee Australia 14 67 26.86 4 0
Jeff Thomson Australia 5 16 29.75 1 0

Lillee's skills and Thomson's pace were instrumental in making Australia the world's best team in the mid 1970s. In 26 matches together, they picked up 217 wickets at an average of just over 27. They routed England in 1974-75, sharing 58 wickets between them in six Tests as Australia won 4-1. In the 1975-76 series against West Indies, which Australia won 5-1, they again set up a convincing victory picking up 56 wickets in the six Tests. Lillee and Thomson were at their peak for three years between 1974 and 1977, picking up an extraordinary 149 wickets in 15 Tests at an average of just over 25. But their overall average is slightly higher than some of the other leading fast-bowling pairs. While Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram boast a stunning average of 22.12 with 37 five-wicket and seven ten-wicket hauls, the Caribbean pairing of Ambrose and Courtney Walsh has been the most successful, picking up 762 in 95 matches at an average of 22.67.

Top fast-bowling pairs in Tests
Pair Team Matches Wickets Average 5WI 10WM
Lillee/Thomson Australia 26 217 27.20 9 0
Roberts/Holding West Indies 30 233 25.65 13 3
Ambrose/Walsh West Indies 95 762 22.67 36 5
Donald/Pollock South Africa 47 397 21.84 22 1
Akram/Younis Pakistan 61 559 22.12 37 7
McGrath/Gillespie Australia 58 484 23.01 23 1

Lillee reserved his best for the big occasion and more often than not, produced superb performances in crunch situations. As early as 1971, he stunned the Rest of the World XI in an unofficial Test match at Perth with a haul of 8 for 29 as they were bowled out for 59. In the next Test, he dismissed Garry Sobers for a first-ball duck in the first innings, only for Sobers to respond with a fantastic 254 in the second innings, where Lillee went for over 100 runs.

In the Centenary Test in 1977, Lillee's 11-wicket haul set up a 45-run victory for Australia. In 1981, he rose to the occasion twice after Australia had been bowled out for low scores. Against West Indies at the MCG, Australia had been bowled out for just 198, with Kim Hughes making a superb century. Lillee responded with an exceptional spell at the end of the first day, removing Viv Richards off the last ball of the day, leaving West Indies at 10 for 4. He eventually ended up with his best bowling figures of 7 for 83, leading Australia to a victory. In the first Test at Perth, his 5 for 18 helped Australia bowl out Pakistan for 62 after they themselves had made just 180.

Lillee was a brilliant bowler to top-order batsmen and accounted for the best batsmen in the opposition regularly. He dismissed Viv Richards and David Gower nine times, though the player who succumbed to him most often was England's wicketkeeper Allan Knott (12 times). Dennis Amiss, who averaged more than 70 against the West Indies, was very ordinary against Lillee. He averaged below seven in the eight innings he was dismissed by Lillee, making three ducks and just one score over 10. Lillee was most successful under Greg Chappell's captaincy, picking up 199 wickets in 38 Tests. Fittingly, he retired along with Chappell and Marsh at the SCG in 1984, after picking up a wicket off his last ball.

The Lillee-Rodney Marsh combination is the most successful bowler-keeper pairing in Tests. Marsh took 95 catches off Lillee's bowling in 69 matches, which is five more than the Mcgrath-Adam Gilchrist combination.

Best bowler-keeper combinations
Bowler Pair Matches Catches
Dennis Lillee Rodney Marsh 69 95
Glenn McGrath Adam Gilchrist 71 90
Makhaya Ntini Mark Boucher 96 84
Brett Lee Adam Gilchrist 65 81
Shaun Pollock Mark Boucher 88 79
Malcolm Marshall Jeff Dujon 68 71

Lillee picked up 25 wickets or more in a series on four occasions. His best performance came in the 1981 Ashes series, when he picked up 39 wickets. The series though, ended in defeat for Australia after Ian Botham's heroics. Lillee's 39-wicket haul is the fourth-highest by an Australian bowler in an Ashes series behind Terry Alderman, Rodney Hogg and Warne. He became the highest wicket-taker for Australia in early 1981, going past Richie Benaud, and later in the same year, he became the highest wicket-taker in Tests, surpassing Lance Gibbs' haul of 309. He reached 200 wickets in just 38 Tests, and remains the second-fastest to the mark, behind Clarrie Grimmett. He is also the fastest to 250 and 300 wickets, reaching the landmarks in just 48 and 56 Tests respectively.

Lillee played only 63 ODIs in his career, but picked up over 100 wickets at an average below 21. His performance in World Cups was not great, but he went on to become the first bowler to pick up five wickets in an innings in ODIs, when he picked up 5 for 34 against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup. In the WSC one-day matches, he picked up 54 wickets to go with his superb show in the Super Tests. In the Australian tri-series matches between 1977 and 1984, he was the most successful bowler with 68 wickets at a average of just over 18. Another exceptional performance came in a Gillette Cup semi-final when Western Australia were defending just 77 against Queensland. He dismissed Viv Richards for a duck and Greg Chappell for nine in his spell of 4 for 21, leading Western Australia to a 15-run victory.

Though Lillee had a batting average of 13.71 with just one half-century, his highest score was an unbeaten 73 at Lord's in 1975, making him one of only four No.10 batsmen to make a fifty-plus score at the ground.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • harshthakor on December 11, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Bradman chose Lillee in his all-time 11.Viv Richards rated Lillee his most feared pace bowler and greatest opponent.No bowler troubled th e greatest ever batsman agaisnt pace bowling as Lillee.Michael Holding rates him the best alongside Mcgrath and Marshall.

    In terms of bolwing skill in his era the paceman who came closest to Lillee was Andy Roberts ,who posessed a wide repertoire ofdeliveries and subtle variations of pace.In terms of bolwing skill he was closer to Lillee than Hadlee,Imran or Holding.In pure natural ability Wasim Akram was the best ,being more versatile than any fast bolwer.

    Ultimately it is Marshall v.Lillee.Lillee was the most classical of all posessing ever quality be it match-winning ability,action swing ,cut, but Marshall posessed some deliveries which were virtually his own creation,which no other paceman could deliver.

  • harshthakor on December 11, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    Statistics just do not tell the complete story.Remember the greatbatting line ups Lillee bowled too,particularly those of West Indies under Clive Lloyd.I can't foget his briliant peformance on a docile Melbourne wicket in 1979-80 where he brilliantly used the seam of the ball to capture 11 wickets.He was also succesful in the Carribean in the 54 supertsets in 1979 capturing 24 wickets.Surely he would have excelled on the sub-continent,in the modern era.Remember Lillee's strike rate is 52 in contrast to Imran's 53.8.

    Lillee may not have Hadlee's statistics who was the best on a green top.But on a flat track Hadlee could never be as effective as Dennis who could adapt his skills to all types of conditions with his vast repertoire.Rember the 1987 M.C.C match at Lords when Hadlee wa s hardly effective.Lillee posessed every ingredient of a great paceman with his pace, swing,variations and unmatched fighting spirit.Remember experts chose him in the all-time team,ahead of Mcgrath or Hadee

  • GoldenAsif on December 9, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    The period - 70s and 80s - was surely the golden age of fast bowling. You look at Lillee, Imran, Hadlee, Malcolm Marshall, Holding, Croft, Roberts, Garner, Walsh, Ambrose and Wasim Akram. Fast bowling isn't the same standard anymore with a few exceptions. Imran Khan once said that the two most naturally gifted fast bowlers he had seen in his life were Holding and Akram

  • DonHines on December 9, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    Lillee was an amazing bowler to watch on supportive wickets. He was deadly in Australia and England. Yes it is true he was pretty ordinary on batting tracks and was smacked all over the park on those pitches. However in friendly conditions, especially in Australia, he was the bowler to watch. Deadly with the ball, willing to do anything to get the advantage by hook or crook. I still remember when he kicked Miandad from behind to teach him a lesson. Miandad was never the same batsman in Australia after that. All in all, one of the best Australian fast bowlers ever.

  • the_complete_batsman on December 9, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    As great as Lillee was, I still don't get how he is rated above Marshall by some. Just take a look at Marshall's record - it is nothing short of fantastic! The only reason he doesn't have as many as many 5-fors as Lillee is that he had to share his wickets with a lot of great fast bowlers around him.

  • absha1 on December 8, 2010, 23:48 GMT

    @harshthakor Thank you. You illustrate the point that Lillee is one of the greatest bowlers. As to who is best, everyone has a favourite, and each little factor changes these rankings, lists, etc by a little here and there. Even the analysis you refer to: The fearsome fifteen (http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/itfigures/archives/2010/08/the_fearsome_fifteen_a_look_at.php) illustrates this. An initial analysis showed imran above lillee, a revised analysis (which takes WpT into account, something which hurts allrounders, especially the batting allrounder Imran was at career-end - he played beyond his shelf-life as a bowler) showed Lillee above Imran. If Imran, for example, had stayed retired in 1987, with an average of 21, this ranking might have been different, but that is the fun of these lists.

  • GoldenAsif on December 8, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    @ harshtakor

    wickets per test just like runs per test are meaningless stats. Bowling average, SR, 5 and 10w hauls; batting average and test 100s & 50s etc. are important stats for sure. Because of the dull nature of the pitches in the sub-continent in general (Sri Lanka is an exception), test matches esp. those in the 70s and 80s mostly ended in boring draws. Bowlers rarely got a chance to bowl in the second innings as tests often had just one completed innings! It is only since the 90s that we are seeing results in 70% of even sub-continental tests. The mandatory 90 overs per day rule has much to do with it. And don't forget Imran also had to worry about other things - captaincy and batting. So for him to be averaging 22.81 with the ball is quite commendable. Imran missed 2.5 years of test cricket between 1983 and 1986 just when he was at the peak of his powers. He had just taken 40 wickets in 6 tests against a formidable Indian batting line-up on the flat pitches of Pakistan

  • absha1 on December 8, 2010, 18:24 GMT

    @ Rafay Iqbal Thanks, maybe I was confusing McGrath with Ambrose; the study was a while back. That leaves Imran, but this just illustrates it is incredibly difficult to achieve consistency across surfaces and oppositions. I agree with Trueman's Ghost and Bollo. Too many of the comments are mean spirited, and in the 70s, the subcontinent teams were middling. Lillee was a great bowler, and and other great bowlers looked up to him. People trashing him should respect that.

  • harshthakor on December 8, 2010, 17:47 GMT

    For viewrs to demonsrtate Lillee's brilliance .Imagine being rtaed above Warne. Ananth Narayan;s statistical ratings figures in 2 separate analysis 's Analysis 2 1. Barnes S.F 55.86 2. Hadlee R.J 54.46 . 3 Lillee D.K 53.18 4. Pak Imran Khan 52.70 5. Win Marshall M.D 50.85 6. Aus McGrath G.D 50.80

    Analysis 1

    1. Slk Muralitharan 51.30 2. Aus Lillee D.K 48.05 3. Aus Warne S.K 48.00 4. Nzl Hadlee R.J 47.97 5. Pak Imran Khan 47.90 6. Saf Steyn D.W 45.55 7. Win Marshall M.D 45.44 8. Aus McGrath G.D 44.86

  • harshthakor on December 8, 2010, 17:21 GMT

    Dennis Lillee is a better fast bowler than Imran Khan or Glen Mcgrath.He has a superior strike rate to IMranand a superior haul of 10 wicket hauls and ratio of 5 wicket hauls ,and wickets per test than Mcgrath.In 2 statistical analysis's of Ananth Narayana on the greatset fast bolwers of all in cricinfo Lillee is rated ahead of Imran ,Mcgrath and Marshall.Infact 2 points ahead of the latter 2,even in arevised analysis.Where was Imran Khan as complete a fast bolwer as Lillee?

  • harshthakor on December 11, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Bradman chose Lillee in his all-time 11.Viv Richards rated Lillee his most feared pace bowler and greatest opponent.No bowler troubled th e greatest ever batsman agaisnt pace bowling as Lillee.Michael Holding rates him the best alongside Mcgrath and Marshall.

    In terms of bolwing skill in his era the paceman who came closest to Lillee was Andy Roberts ,who posessed a wide repertoire ofdeliveries and subtle variations of pace.In terms of bolwing skill he was closer to Lillee than Hadlee,Imran or Holding.In pure natural ability Wasim Akram was the best ,being more versatile than any fast bolwer.

    Ultimately it is Marshall v.Lillee.Lillee was the most classical of all posessing ever quality be it match-winning ability,action swing ,cut, but Marshall posessed some deliveries which were virtually his own creation,which no other paceman could deliver.

  • harshthakor on December 11, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    Statistics just do not tell the complete story.Remember the greatbatting line ups Lillee bowled too,particularly those of West Indies under Clive Lloyd.I can't foget his briliant peformance on a docile Melbourne wicket in 1979-80 where he brilliantly used the seam of the ball to capture 11 wickets.He was also succesful in the Carribean in the 54 supertsets in 1979 capturing 24 wickets.Surely he would have excelled on the sub-continent,in the modern era.Remember Lillee's strike rate is 52 in contrast to Imran's 53.8.

    Lillee may not have Hadlee's statistics who was the best on a green top.But on a flat track Hadlee could never be as effective as Dennis who could adapt his skills to all types of conditions with his vast repertoire.Rember the 1987 M.C.C match at Lords when Hadlee wa s hardly effective.Lillee posessed every ingredient of a great paceman with his pace, swing,variations and unmatched fighting spirit.Remember experts chose him in the all-time team,ahead of Mcgrath or Hadee

  • GoldenAsif on December 9, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    The period - 70s and 80s - was surely the golden age of fast bowling. You look at Lillee, Imran, Hadlee, Malcolm Marshall, Holding, Croft, Roberts, Garner, Walsh, Ambrose and Wasim Akram. Fast bowling isn't the same standard anymore with a few exceptions. Imran Khan once said that the two most naturally gifted fast bowlers he had seen in his life were Holding and Akram

  • DonHines on December 9, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    Lillee was an amazing bowler to watch on supportive wickets. He was deadly in Australia and England. Yes it is true he was pretty ordinary on batting tracks and was smacked all over the park on those pitches. However in friendly conditions, especially in Australia, he was the bowler to watch. Deadly with the ball, willing to do anything to get the advantage by hook or crook. I still remember when he kicked Miandad from behind to teach him a lesson. Miandad was never the same batsman in Australia after that. All in all, one of the best Australian fast bowlers ever.

  • the_complete_batsman on December 9, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    As great as Lillee was, I still don't get how he is rated above Marshall by some. Just take a look at Marshall's record - it is nothing short of fantastic! The only reason he doesn't have as many as many 5-fors as Lillee is that he had to share his wickets with a lot of great fast bowlers around him.

  • absha1 on December 8, 2010, 23:48 GMT

    @harshthakor Thank you. You illustrate the point that Lillee is one of the greatest bowlers. As to who is best, everyone has a favourite, and each little factor changes these rankings, lists, etc by a little here and there. Even the analysis you refer to: The fearsome fifteen (http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/itfigures/archives/2010/08/the_fearsome_fifteen_a_look_at.php) illustrates this. An initial analysis showed imran above lillee, a revised analysis (which takes WpT into account, something which hurts allrounders, especially the batting allrounder Imran was at career-end - he played beyond his shelf-life as a bowler) showed Lillee above Imran. If Imran, for example, had stayed retired in 1987, with an average of 21, this ranking might have been different, but that is the fun of these lists.

  • GoldenAsif on December 8, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    @ harshtakor

    wickets per test just like runs per test are meaningless stats. Bowling average, SR, 5 and 10w hauls; batting average and test 100s & 50s etc. are important stats for sure. Because of the dull nature of the pitches in the sub-continent in general (Sri Lanka is an exception), test matches esp. those in the 70s and 80s mostly ended in boring draws. Bowlers rarely got a chance to bowl in the second innings as tests often had just one completed innings! It is only since the 90s that we are seeing results in 70% of even sub-continental tests. The mandatory 90 overs per day rule has much to do with it. And don't forget Imran also had to worry about other things - captaincy and batting. So for him to be averaging 22.81 with the ball is quite commendable. Imran missed 2.5 years of test cricket between 1983 and 1986 just when he was at the peak of his powers. He had just taken 40 wickets in 6 tests against a formidable Indian batting line-up on the flat pitches of Pakistan

  • absha1 on December 8, 2010, 18:24 GMT

    @ Rafay Iqbal Thanks, maybe I was confusing McGrath with Ambrose; the study was a while back. That leaves Imran, but this just illustrates it is incredibly difficult to achieve consistency across surfaces and oppositions. I agree with Trueman's Ghost and Bollo. Too many of the comments are mean spirited, and in the 70s, the subcontinent teams were middling. Lillee was a great bowler, and and other great bowlers looked up to him. People trashing him should respect that.

  • harshthakor on December 8, 2010, 17:47 GMT

    For viewrs to demonsrtate Lillee's brilliance .Imagine being rtaed above Warne. Ananth Narayan;s statistical ratings figures in 2 separate analysis 's Analysis 2 1. Barnes S.F 55.86 2. Hadlee R.J 54.46 . 3 Lillee D.K 53.18 4. Pak Imran Khan 52.70 5. Win Marshall M.D 50.85 6. Aus McGrath G.D 50.80

    Analysis 1

    1. Slk Muralitharan 51.30 2. Aus Lillee D.K 48.05 3. Aus Warne S.K 48.00 4. Nzl Hadlee R.J 47.97 5. Pak Imran Khan 47.90 6. Saf Steyn D.W 45.55 7. Win Marshall M.D 45.44 8. Aus McGrath G.D 44.86

  • harshthakor on December 8, 2010, 17:21 GMT

    Dennis Lillee is a better fast bowler than Imran Khan or Glen Mcgrath.He has a superior strike rate to IMranand a superior haul of 10 wicket hauls and ratio of 5 wicket hauls ,and wickets per test than Mcgrath.In 2 statistical analysis's of Ananth Narayana on the greatset fast bolwers of all in cricinfo Lillee is rated ahead of Imran ,Mcgrath and Marshall.Infact 2 points ahead of the latter 2,even in arevised analysis.Where was Imran Khan as complete a fast bolwer as Lillee?

  • GoldenAsif on December 8, 2010, 15:59 GMT

    @ Bollo

    A bowling average of less than 25 is great for a bowler (cf. a test average of 50 for a batter), so I would never completely dismiss Lillee as a bowler. However a truly world class bowler should be able to perform on all kinds of surfaces - fast or slow, bouncy or flat - just like a truly great batter should be able to do well on both slow/spinning and pacy/bouncy tracks. Don't forget that Imran (bowling average 22.81), Waqar (23.56) and Wasim (23.62) played 50% of their cricket on the slow and unhelpful sub-continental wickets unlike English, West Indian, NZ, South African and Australian bowlers who play the majority of their matches on pitches that are pacy and bouncy and help seam movement. But they knew how to swing the new and old ball (taking the slow pitch out of the equation) and mastered the art of reverse swing and their bowling stats compare favourably with the other great bowlers of their time. Hence their achievements should mean even more

  • on December 8, 2010, 13:50 GMT

    @absha1 McGrath averages 31 in Pakistan so he couldnt quite make the cut..

  • Bollo on December 8, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    @Trueman`s ghost. I`m with you on the disappointing nature of so many comments on this site recently. They range from complete lack of balance (@pakspin `Lillee=most over-rated bowler ever) to ridiculous claims of racism (@pakspin again), to untruths (@GoldenAsif - re. Lillee `deliberately avoiding touring India`, refuted elsewhere) to the selective use of figures (quoting Lillee`s performance in the West Indies based solely on the one test he played where he broke down with multiple stress fractures in his back, while ignoring his 23 wickets there during supertests), to outrageous slurs (@memoriesofthepast, `fortunate not to be tried for match-fixing`, `8 Aus batsmen giving their wickets to Willis) to the general meanness you mentioned. I would also have had Marshall or perhaps Imran in my all-time XI instead of DK, but to suggest that his presence there is a complete joke, as some have done, really just displays ignorance.

  • Truemans_Ghost on December 8, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    It does depress me how mean spiririted the comments on the Legends of cricket are. I happen to agree that I'd rather have Imran or Hadlee than Lillee, but why completely dismiss his career? His record against England is important- in the early 70's England counted. Sri Lanka weren't playing tests. SA were in exile. India and Pakistans rise as cricketing powers was maybe about to start, but hadn't yet come to fruition. England's 80's decline hadn't yet happened. England, along with the WI, were the team that counted then.

  • pakwellwisher on December 8, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    @Pakspin you are right. they only think doing well in SA,Aus & overrated Eng matters while it is ok to be a failure in Sub continent, you are still great.But the truth is u have to perform everywhere or else u dont deserve the accolades I dont understand why he got in before Ambrose in the world XI.

  • absha1 on December 8, 2010, 4:17 GMT

    It seems unfair to pummel Lillee's record in Asia and the WI based on just five tests. People don't realize how fast bowlers can have troughs because of injury and fatigue; they are not like batsmen or even spinners. Anyway, Lillee was a great, and acknowledged by his peers, including Hadlee and Imran, as one of the greatest, and that is enough for me.

    As far as consistency goes, really, (this analysis was posted a few months ago, I think) only two bowlers in the history of modern cricket have averaged less than 30 against all the countries they played against, and in all the countries they played in: McGrath and Imran.

  • Don_Simon on December 7, 2010, 16:03 GMT

    It's beyond me to understand how he ends up in the all time xi. Hadlee and Imran have better bowling statistics ,forget about their batting capabilities.

  • memoriesofthepast on December 7, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    Lillee was fortunate not to be tried for match fixing investigation and punishment when he and Rodney Marsh put a small amount on their own side losing the 1981 Headingley test of Ashes. Aus made England follow-on with Botham making 149 not out in their 2nd innings. Aus required to win only 130 runs were all out for 111 with 8 Aus batsman giving their wickets to Willis. After that loss for Aus, Lillee and Marsh got a return of 7500 UK pounds collectively. In an era when no authority had made a rule about material of bat, Lillee used aluminium bat to damage the cricket ball after which law was made to fix wood as the bat material. In 1981, the fielder Lillee had not taken his position before Trevor Chapell was going to use the underarm delivery meaning that it was a no-ball. Lillee also came in the running path of batsman Miandad in Perth test of 1981 and tried to kick him. Lillee chose to be remembered for these undignified incidents rather than for his bowling performance.

  • afasih on December 7, 2010, 3:11 GMT

    taking nothing away from lillee but this list of top bowlers from 1970-1990 is greater insult for lillee than for anyone else. i mean botham and willis you gotta give me a break perhaps they are included to look lillee's figures better. thats hilarious. and why is imran missing, i mean in terms of quality of wickets taken from 1970-1990 he tops the list. he had bowled aggressively and fast on subcontinent pitches (almost half the number of tests he played there) unlike hadlee (may be 13 odd) and lillee (perhaps four or five).

  • GoldenAsif on December 7, 2010, 2:21 GMT

    Greatness is measured by your performance against the very best. Imran Khan despite being an all-rounder, not only had a better career bowling average (22.81) than Lillee (23.92) but he also had the best record against the best team (West Indies) of his time, averaging 21.19 with the ball against Windies with 80 wickets in 18 tests, the true measure of a bowler's greatness. Lillee by contrast averaged 27.75 with the ball against the Windies, 55 wickets in 12 tests.

  • GoldenAsif on December 7, 2010, 2:04 GMT

    As per article 'Lillee took almost all his wickets in Australia and England; his stats outside those two countries and New Zealand were pretty ordinary. He played only five matches and took six wickets in Asia and the West Indies at an average of over 90!' This stat surely counts against him being a truly great bowler. Infact Lillee deliberately avoided touring India and Pakistan back in those days because of fear of failure on the flat sub-continental tracks

    In contrast Imran Khan, Malcolm Marshall (+ other West Indian bowlers) and Hadlee were equally effective on both the fast and bouncy pitches of England, Australia, NZ and Windies and the slow sub-continental tracks

    A truly world class bowler should be able to perform on all types of pitches and Lillee was a complete failure when he toured Pakistan in 1980-81. Even a debutant like Taslim Arif got a big double hundred against Australia!!

  • Number_5 on December 7, 2010, 1:45 GMT

    Living Ledgend. As evidence by his selection in the World Xi. Those bagging DK might want to do some research and read what those who played against him had to say about the quality of his bowlling and the reasons WHY he didnt play on the subcontinent. Any true cricket fan respects the greats, so before you start bagging someone voted by his peers as one of the all time greats, take some time to research WHY he has been voted a LIVING LEDGEND. Stats can be made to prove any point and sometimes, Stats alone do not tell the full story....

  • pakspin on December 7, 2010, 1:30 GMT

    Lilliee..=most over rated bolwer ever...how he got in the WXI over Ambrose (black) marshal (black) Waqar (asian) Imran khan (asian) is completely beyond me. the most complete bowler of all time is wasim since he played and performed on every track in the world, even India which is a bowlers graveyard..he's white thus he gets hyped..same for Ian botham who get called Sir over Imran khan while his stats vs Imran are pathethic.

  • KBowser on December 7, 2010, 1:15 GMT

    I just love the emphasis some people place on stats. So misguided - did any of you stats lovers actually play the game at a serious level? How many people have filled their boots with runs on flat tracks in dead rubbers or drawn matches only to go missing when a tough 20 or 30 not out is required to win a match. Who is the better bowler? The one who knocks over a couple of the middle order before they can get going or the one who comes and cleans up the tail or gets the batsman out after they have got 100? Not all wickets and runs are equal. Also, don't judge teams from the 1970's by their modern day counterparts. India in the 70's were not strong, England and West Indies in the 70's were.

  • hmsbh2004 on December 6, 2010, 20:07 GMT

    I still can't understand how this man is in all time XI, u compare the stats, he never topped any of the charts, I would pick McGrath over him.......... Yet his bowling records are not even as good as Imran Khan, who is an allrounder y not pick him instead........ What a disgrace to put him all time XI

  • arun_slogs on December 6, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Lillee was a great bowler, a crowd puller and a genuine hard worker.... He was exceptional in Australia especially against england... he did not get to play more tests in the sub continent and in the tests that he played here, he performed poorly...

  • on December 6, 2010, 15:44 GMT

    He is a good bowler, may be a talented player, but he does not have HUMANITY or good character as a human. He kicked Javed Miandad. this shows his true character. We know about australian bowlers, they usually put words on all good batsmen. Dont forget the SYDNEY test

    If you dont have character, then ur talent is worthless.

  • on December 6, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Lillee was an awesome bowler...however, as many will point out, he didn't play in wickets in the Asian continent (Ind/Pak). Truly great bowlers like Hadlee, Marshall made their mark on flat pitches and made the pitches look like a green top. Now thats top-class stuff.

  • on December 6, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    Hi Madhusudan, nice analysis. However, one important stat that I'd like to point out. His wickets aggregate outside of Australia, England and New Zealand is 6 wickets in 5 matches, the rest of his 349 wickets were in these 3 countries!! The reason I bring this up is to highlight the difference in viewing players from different countries. I leave the interpretation open to the readers, cheers Gopes. :)

  • inswing on December 6, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    Feast on England, and get into record books and World XIs. For whatever reason, performances against England are weighed more heavily in the psyche of journalists. Many Aussis benefited from this, including Lillee and Warne. It made sense when there were only two good teams playing cricket. But after the 60s, those who built up their stats by beating up on England ought to be considered with a grain of salt. Warne would be nothing if he didn't take advantage of the weak to ordinary English sides of the 90s. Murli's stats are already better than Warne's, but they would be even better if he got to play more against England. Marshall was great everywhere, Lillee not so much.

  • gmoturu1 on December 6, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    after looking at these stats I still cannot understand how he made it to the All Time World XI. How can he be ahead of Ambrose, Waqar, Holding, Donald, Hadlee etc. He might be a great Australian bowler. But he never had respect for opposition. He was arrogant, bad stats in sub continents, maintained good average because he got most against POMS. Come on Ian Chappell explain.

  • on December 6, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    one of the great bowler of 1970s

  • Bilal_Choudry on December 6, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    can u please shed some light on how good lillee was outside england and australia

  • on December 6, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    He is the best bowler for me. His determination is awe inspiring.

  • on December 6, 2010, 5:21 GMT

    ''The 1970s and 1980s witnessed some of the finest fast bowlers including Lillee, Richard Hadlee and Marshall. Lillee's overall performance is surpassed only by Marshall and Hadlee.''

    May i remind you of one Imran Khan? 362 wickets between 1970 and 1990 at 22.76. 163 home wickets at 19.11 (where Dennis '' the complete bowler'' Lillee averages a mere 101) 199 away wickets at 25.76

    For me, Lillee will always be right up there with the best. But the same goes for the Imran as well. How he doesnt get included in the table is beyond me...

  • harshthakor on December 6, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Adding his Packer record and games against Rest of the World Lillee is the best fast bowler ever with Malcolm Marshall.Lillee performed brilliantly against the great West Indian and Pakistani batting line -ups and was a champion on flat tracks against England both at home and away.His brilliant spells at Melbourne in 1977 and 1980 and at the Oval in 1972 and 1981 are a testimony to this.Lillee captured 5 wickets per innings which only Richard Hadlee matches in modern times.On docile tracks Lillee would overshadow Mcgrath and Hadlee with his amazing guile and versatality.

  • on December 6, 2010, 2:58 GMT

    No sub-continent heroics. Meh. Not as impressive.

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  • on December 6, 2010, 2:58 GMT

    No sub-continent heroics. Meh. Not as impressive.

  • harshthakor on December 6, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Adding his Packer record and games against Rest of the World Lillee is the best fast bowler ever with Malcolm Marshall.Lillee performed brilliantly against the great West Indian and Pakistani batting line -ups and was a champion on flat tracks against England both at home and away.His brilliant spells at Melbourne in 1977 and 1980 and at the Oval in 1972 and 1981 are a testimony to this.Lillee captured 5 wickets per innings which only Richard Hadlee matches in modern times.On docile tracks Lillee would overshadow Mcgrath and Hadlee with his amazing guile and versatality.

  • on December 6, 2010, 5:21 GMT

    ''The 1970s and 1980s witnessed some of the finest fast bowlers including Lillee, Richard Hadlee and Marshall. Lillee's overall performance is surpassed only by Marshall and Hadlee.''

    May i remind you of one Imran Khan? 362 wickets between 1970 and 1990 at 22.76. 163 home wickets at 19.11 (where Dennis '' the complete bowler'' Lillee averages a mere 101) 199 away wickets at 25.76

    For me, Lillee will always be right up there with the best. But the same goes for the Imran as well. How he doesnt get included in the table is beyond me...

  • on December 6, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    He is the best bowler for me. His determination is awe inspiring.

  • Bilal_Choudry on December 6, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    can u please shed some light on how good lillee was outside england and australia

  • on December 6, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    one of the great bowler of 1970s

  • gmoturu1 on December 6, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    after looking at these stats I still cannot understand how he made it to the All Time World XI. How can he be ahead of Ambrose, Waqar, Holding, Donald, Hadlee etc. He might be a great Australian bowler. But he never had respect for opposition. He was arrogant, bad stats in sub continents, maintained good average because he got most against POMS. Come on Ian Chappell explain.

  • inswing on December 6, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    Feast on England, and get into record books and World XIs. For whatever reason, performances against England are weighed more heavily in the psyche of journalists. Many Aussis benefited from this, including Lillee and Warne. It made sense when there were only two good teams playing cricket. But after the 60s, those who built up their stats by beating up on England ought to be considered with a grain of salt. Warne would be nothing if he didn't take advantage of the weak to ordinary English sides of the 90s. Murli's stats are already better than Warne's, but they would be even better if he got to play more against England. Marshall was great everywhere, Lillee not so much.

  • on December 6, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    Hi Madhusudan, nice analysis. However, one important stat that I'd like to point out. His wickets aggregate outside of Australia, England and New Zealand is 6 wickets in 5 matches, the rest of his 349 wickets were in these 3 countries!! The reason I bring this up is to highlight the difference in viewing players from different countries. I leave the interpretation open to the readers, cheers Gopes. :)

  • on December 6, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Lillee was an awesome bowler...however, as many will point out, he didn't play in wickets in the Asian continent (Ind/Pak). Truly great bowlers like Hadlee, Marshall made their mark on flat pitches and made the pitches look like a green top. Now thats top-class stuff.