February 3, 2012

Swann v Ajmal: clash of the offspinners

They're the two best spinners in Test cricket over the last 30 months, and while their overall stats are similar, the break-ups are quite different
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The ongoing Test series between Pakistan and England has presented a wonderful stage for a battle between arguably the two best spinners going around in Test cricket today. There are some who will make the case for Daniel Vettori, and while he remains a superb spinner in all forms of the game - and perhaps the best in the shorter versions - his relatively poor strike rate in Tests means he must cede the top spots to Graeme Swann and Saeed Ajmal. These two spinners turn the ball a long way, have outstanding variations, and their default mode is to search for wickets. The pitches in the two Tests so far have been fantastic, offering plenty of bounce for spinners and enough, but not alarming, turn. Ajmal haswon this battle against Swann, taking 17 wickets at 13.35 to Swann's 9 at 25 - and thereby moving up to second place in the ICC Test rankings for bowlers - but their overall numbers are so close that it's difficult to separate the two.

They made their Test debuts within seven months of each other - Swann started in December 2008 and Ajmal in July 2009 - and yet Swann has played twice as many Tests as Ajmal has. That's largely because Swann has played pretty much every Test that England have played during this period, while Ajmal hasn't for Pakistan. Of the 40 Tests that England have played since Swann's debut, he has missed only two - in Kingston and North Sound, against West Indies. Ajmal, on the other hand, has missed ten of Pakistan's 29 Tests since his debut, most of them on tours to Australia, England and New Zealand, countries where conditions don't generally support spin as much as in Asia.

Overall Ajmal has played eight Tests outside Asia, but only one in Australia (in which he had match figures of 2 for 223) and none in South Africa. Swann, on the other hand, has played nine Tests in Australia and South Africa, taking 36 wickets at 34.89.

That said, though, the skills Ajmal has displayed over the last nine months have been outstanding. It all started with a match haul of 11 for 111 against West Indies in Providence, and since then he has been a force in almost every Test he has played in. In his last ten Tests, including that Providence game, Ajmal has taken 67 wickets at 21.19. Only twice during this period has he taken less than five wickets in a Test. That sudden spurt of wickets has taken his overall Test tally to 100 in only 19 matches; at the same stage of his career, Swann had 85.

Swann and Ajmal in Test cricket
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/10WM
Graeme Swann 38 162 28.61 57.7 11/ 1
Saeed Ajmal 19 100 27.31 62.5 5/ 2
Swann after 19 Tests 19 85 30.84 62.3 6/ 1

In the 38 months since Swann made his Test debut, he and Ajmal have the best numbers among spinners. Pakistan's Abdur Rehman has fantastic stats too, but he has played only 12 Tests so far. Swann has taken the most wickets, and at a fine average, while Ajmal's average is the best of the lot. Vettori's economy rate is the best among the bowlers in the table below, but his strike rate is among the poorest: he takes a wicket every 14 overs, compared to 9.4 for Swann and 10.3 for Ajmal.

The only other spinner to have taken 100 wickets in Harbhajan Singh, but his numbers show why he is currently out of favour with the selectors: he averages 36.66, and has only three five-fors in his last 47 innings.

Spinners with at least 50 Test wickets since Dec 1, 2008
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Saeed Ajmal 19 100 27.31 62.5 5/ 2
Abdur Rehman 12 57 27.43 65.3 1/ 0
Graeme Swann 38 162 28.61 57.7 11/ 1
Shakib Al Hasan 16 72 31.80 66.0 6/ 0
Rangana Herath 22 85 33.14 71.3 7/ 0
Daniel Vettori 21 80 34.16 83.3 3/ 0
Pragyan Ojha 14 62 34.62 74.2 2/ 0
Harbhajan Singh 26 100 36.66 76.6 3/ 0

The overall numbers for Swann and Ajmal are fairly similar, but their methods are quite different. Ajmal's ability to pitch the ball on or just outside off to the right-hander and turn it either way makes him a huge threat against those batsmen, and it's reflected in his stats: against right-handers, he averages 25.80 runs per wicket, at a strike rate of 57.34. Against left-handers, he generally needs to work harder, averaging 30 at a strike rate of about 12 overs per wicket.

For Swann, the stats are reversed. His ability to turn the ball away from left-handers, and the ability to extract zip and bounce off the pitch, make him a far tougher proposition for left-handers: he concedes 21 runs per wicket against them, and strikes every eight overs. Against right-handers his average goes up to almost 37, an increase of nearly 75%.

Swann and Ajmal v right- and left-hand batsmen
  Runs Balls Dismissals Average Strike rate
Swann v right-handers 2861 5292 78 36.67 67.85
Ajmal v right-handers 1677 3727 65 25.80 57.34
Swann v left-handers 1769 4060 84 21.05 48.33
Ajmal v left-handers 1053 2525 35 30.08 72.14

The break-ups of each of these two bowlers against some of the batsmen they've bowled to reveal the bias. Ajmal generally has very good numbers against the right-handers: Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Thilan Samaraweera and Ramnaresh Sarwan are among the players who've struggled against him. A few right-handers have scored well against him, though: Jonathan Trott has played 286 deliveries from him without being dismissed once, while Shane Watson and Jacques Kallis have done well against him too. Among the left-handers, Kumar Sangakkara's stats stand out: 246 runs for only two dismissals.

Ajmal against some of the top batsmen in Tests
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Kumar Sangakkara 246 594 2 123.00 2.48
Jonathan Trott 125 286 0 - 2.62
Shane Watson 68 137 0 - 2.97
Mahela Jayawardene 94 177 3 31.33 3.18
Jacques Kallis 85 117 1 85.00 4.35
Kevin Pietersen 53 76 4 13.25 4.18
Thilan Samaraweera 36 115 3 12.00 1.87
Ian Bell 10 29 3 3.33 2.06
Ramnaresh Sarwan 6 61 2 3.00 0.59

Swann, meanwhile, has superb numbers against left-handers, though Yuvraj Singh played 149 deliveries from him without a single dismissal. A lot of others have dismal stats against him, including Simon Katich, Suresh Raina and Salman Butt. Sangakkara has been dismissed by Swann only once in 126 balls, but he has scored 23 runs in those deliveries, a run rate of 1.09 runs per over.

Among the right-handers, Sarwan has much better stats against Swann than against Ajmal. His stats against Ajmal are quite shocking - 6 runs from 61 balls, two dismissals - but he has tackled Swann more comfortably. Watson and Kallis, though, have equally good numbers against both. Watson has faced 347 balls from both of them, scored 155 runs, and hasn't been dismissed once by either of the two.

Swann against some of the top batsmen in Tests
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Michael Hussey 255 473 3 63.75 3.23
Ramnaresh Sarwan 144 226 2 72.00 3.82
Yuvraj Singh 106 149 0 - 4.26
Jacques Kallis 100 184 1 100.00 3.26
Shane Watson 87 210 0 - 2.48
Simon Katich 75 195 4 18.75 2.30
Kumar Sangakkara 23 126 1 23.00 1.09
Suresh Raina 27 70 4 6.75 2.31
Salman Butt 13 42 4 3.25 1.85

Ajmal has become the seventh Pakistan spinner to take 100 Test wickets, while Swann is the fourth-highest wicket-taker among England's spinners. Ajmal's average is the best among those seven Pakistan spinners, while Swann is the second-highest wicket-taker among England's offspinners, next only to Jim Laker, who has 193. Ajmal's already 34 years old, but he'll most likely play enough Tests to ensure that by the time he's done, he'll be counted among Pakistan's great spinners. Ditto for Swann as well.

Pakistan's top spinners after 19 Tests
Bowler Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Danish Kaneria 77 29.29 62.2 5/ 1
Abdul Qadir 65 33.78 76.9 3/ 1
Saqlain Mushtaq 85 29.54 65.1 8/ 2
Mushtaq Ahmed 53 34.01 70.6 1/ 0
Iqbal Qasim 43 37.81 103.6 1/ 1
Intikhab Alam 30 49.03 115.1 0/ 0

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 6, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Controversies and sports go hand in hand as there have been innumerable controversies in various sports .But Pakistan cricket is top on the charts.I love cricket,but not cheap cricket.

  • RandyOZ on February 6, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    England are literally the worst team on earth. After 100 odd years of being cellar dwellers they have a brief 6 months at the top thanks to a bunch of imports and then are already getting whitewashed by the likes of pakistan. Absolutely hilarious. Keep wiping that egg off your faces england fans, there is a lot more to come!!

  • on February 5, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    Hasham bhai, the best spinner at present, perhaps. But the greatest spinner of all times after Murali? Surely you haven't forgotten about Shane Keith Warne?

  • puma75 on February 5, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    great work by the S Rajesh. the sheer hard work and concentration

  • on February 5, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    Ojha was a big surprise for me in the list..his stats are quite impressive as well.Ajmal is the worlds best spinner at present.n only after murali in all time list

  • NaniIndCri on February 4, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    Swan is overrated like rest of his team who can take lower order wickets of non subcontinent teams. Ajmal is a classic spinner, no comparision.

  • aaloo69uk on February 4, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    What will it take for people to stop comparing overrated-two-trick-pony Swann to the Mercurial Ajmal?? Based on the performance during this series, it is insulting.

  • Moutarde on February 4, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    I think it's disgusting that you are comparing Swann, who plays by the rules, with Ajmal.

  • SamiMcEd on February 4, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    The Art of Off Spin was about to finish from the world cricket but thanks to Saqlain Mushtaq who invented DOOSRA and gave a new and long lasting life to this Art.. off spinners of his era, this era and off spinners to come in future will always be thankful to Saqlain Mushtaq for his great invention.

  • on February 4, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    Pakistan has truly been a soul of this gamesome astonishing and mind-boggling world records held by Pakistan. Bowler Sayed Ajaml: off Spiner- Inventor of Tesra Saqlan Mustaq- Off spinner- Inventor of Dusra Abdual Qader-Leg brake- Inventor of Guglee Sarfraz Nawaz- Inventor of reverse swing Great Wasim Akram- King of Swing - Master of Reverse swing- most hat-tricks by any bowler in world, Great Waqar Younas- Fast and furious-Master of Reverse swing Yorker Shoaib Akhtar- Fast and furious - Broke the 100 mile barrier-Fastest delivery 161.38 km/h (100.3 mph) Aaqib Javed: Youngest bowler to take hat-trick in ODI Cricket Bating: Shahid Afradi :Most "6's" in ODIs and International Cricket - 367 SIXES Fastest century in ODI Cricket Mohammad Yousuf - Nine centuries in a calendar year of Test Cricket Javed Miandad-Nine consecutive 50's in ODI Cricket youngest player to score double-century in Test C. Great Hanif Mohammad's:Only triple-century in second innings of the tea

  • on February 6, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Controversies and sports go hand in hand as there have been innumerable controversies in various sports .But Pakistan cricket is top on the charts.I love cricket,but not cheap cricket.

  • RandyOZ on February 6, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    England are literally the worst team on earth. After 100 odd years of being cellar dwellers they have a brief 6 months at the top thanks to a bunch of imports and then are already getting whitewashed by the likes of pakistan. Absolutely hilarious. Keep wiping that egg off your faces england fans, there is a lot more to come!!

  • on February 5, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    Hasham bhai, the best spinner at present, perhaps. But the greatest spinner of all times after Murali? Surely you haven't forgotten about Shane Keith Warne?

  • puma75 on February 5, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    great work by the S Rajesh. the sheer hard work and concentration

  • on February 5, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    Ojha was a big surprise for me in the list..his stats are quite impressive as well.Ajmal is the worlds best spinner at present.n only after murali in all time list

  • NaniIndCri on February 4, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    Swan is overrated like rest of his team who can take lower order wickets of non subcontinent teams. Ajmal is a classic spinner, no comparision.

  • aaloo69uk on February 4, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    What will it take for people to stop comparing overrated-two-trick-pony Swann to the Mercurial Ajmal?? Based on the performance during this series, it is insulting.

  • Moutarde on February 4, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    I think it's disgusting that you are comparing Swann, who plays by the rules, with Ajmal.

  • SamiMcEd on February 4, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    The Art of Off Spin was about to finish from the world cricket but thanks to Saqlain Mushtaq who invented DOOSRA and gave a new and long lasting life to this Art.. off spinners of his era, this era and off spinners to come in future will always be thankful to Saqlain Mushtaq for his great invention.

  • on February 4, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    Pakistan has truly been a soul of this gamesome astonishing and mind-boggling world records held by Pakistan. Bowler Sayed Ajaml: off Spiner- Inventor of Tesra Saqlan Mustaq- Off spinner- Inventor of Dusra Abdual Qader-Leg brake- Inventor of Guglee Sarfraz Nawaz- Inventor of reverse swing Great Wasim Akram- King of Swing - Master of Reverse swing- most hat-tricks by any bowler in world, Great Waqar Younas- Fast and furious-Master of Reverse swing Yorker Shoaib Akhtar- Fast and furious - Broke the 100 mile barrier-Fastest delivery 161.38 km/h (100.3 mph) Aaqib Javed: Youngest bowler to take hat-trick in ODI Cricket Bating: Shahid Afradi :Most "6's" in ODIs and International Cricket - 367 SIXES Fastest century in ODI Cricket Mohammad Yousuf - Nine centuries in a calendar year of Test Cricket Javed Miandad-Nine consecutive 50's in ODI Cricket youngest player to score double-century in Test C. Great Hanif Mohammad's:Only triple-century in second innings of the tea

  • on February 4, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    Nice effort Sir.. Plz keep up the good work...

  • Musha1234 on February 4, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Murali is the best have no doubt about it. For Ajmal or Swann to reach up to that standard we have to wait for quite long

  • shehzad76 on February 4, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    Ojha.. :), why we are talking about U19 players here ;). Mr. Anikh we are comparing Ajmal and Swann. Offcourse Ajmal is deadly against both LHB and RHB. Swann is very good against LHB. Stats shows that clearly. One more thing Ajmal can turn on any surface unlike Swann. Pakistan has always produced Top Quality Spinners and soon Ajmal will be among top in the world and guys he is already nearing them ;)

  • on February 4, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    Saeed Ajmal is Out standing but G.Sawan has limited verities so Ajmal is best.:-)

  • moonflare on February 4, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    The fifth table title is hilarious. "Swann against some of the top batsmen in Tests". Top batsmen in Tests column includes Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Salman Butt. Hahahahahaha!!

  • Available on February 4, 2012, 15:24 GMT

    Records built by Great Murali but to be broken by someone at anytime.

  • csowmi7 on February 4, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    ashwin also has the ability to join the likes of swann and ajmal if he works on his consistency and ability to bowl outside the subcontinent. but even ajmal has a poor record outside the subcontinent. unlike swann and ajmal ashwin has age on his side. 9 wickets on debut 23 wickets in his first series and 31 wickets in 6 tests show he is a good prospect. but he can learn to be more consistent like ajmal and focus on a good off stump line instead of straying down the legside like he sometimes does. perhaps he can also develop the doosra

  • on February 4, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    Ojha not doing too bad either..

  • on February 4, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Murali is the best spinner of all times...but guys why r u dragging him here...the comparison is between Swann and Ajmal :)

  • RohanMarkJay on February 4, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    Agree with Charindra and Sanath007. The Spin bowling bar was set so high by Murali during his playing days. That any future good spin bowler will trail in his shadow. Just like all good batsman trail in Bradman's shadow. Muttiah Muralitharan what an amazing Spin bowling career.

  • CricketLuhhver on February 4, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    Numbers speak louder than the words.

    In the case above, Ajmal's stats do the talking. Achieving a milestone of 100 wickets in a petty 19 tests compared to Swann's 162 in 38 tests asserts that Ajmal is the Master of Spin today. Sorry Swann!

  • WeeBee on February 4, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    well! swann is nowhere near to ajmal at all. Ajmal has more vrieties , flights, variations, doosra teesra and many more.! I think Ajmal can make his name in the list of top spinners like , Murlitharan, Shane Warne, Saqlaiin Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmad, Abdul Qadir ... He is amongst the best and famous spin bowlers.

  • Charindra on February 4, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    Swann and Ajmal are good spinners, but they pale in comparison with the great Muralitharan. The bar has been set at such a high level, it's almost unattainable.

  • on February 4, 2012, 4:57 GMT

    Vry gud conclusion n stats briefed by Rajesh... Two top bwlrz of modern tym...

  • jonesy2 on February 4, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    swann isnt in the top two in the world

  • sanath007 on February 4, 2012, 3:29 GMT

    Both are good spinners, but when it comes to off spinners or any bowler. there's no one better than the Legendary Murali

  • on February 4, 2012, 1:07 GMT

    Swann gets bigger spin, but Ajmal can spin it both ways

  • Coastaltown on February 4, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    @Kavindeven "Swann is an overrated pile of unnecessary hype" 162 test wickets @28 beg to differ. He's not the greatest offie the world's ever seen. He's not even the greatest offie England's ever seen. But he is an extremely good bowler, have a think, wil you?

  • zuber21886 on February 3, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    Pragyan Ojha if given opportunities well at the time he deserves, he can match these two spin experts, stats might get better for him, but he is brought into light only for a limited time, he certainly deserves more games

  • on February 3, 2012, 21:52 GMT

    Go Ajmal.... u are the man!!

  • sajjodaalman on February 3, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    ajmal is the best spinner in the world right now, and swann has no variations i dnt know what this writer is talking about. all swann has is a very good off spinner which turns alot. he cant bowl much other deliveries the way ajmal can. and go sarwan!!

  • IndiaNumeroUno on February 3, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    We can't compare Ajmal and Swann... Ajmal spins the ball.

  • on February 3, 2012, 21:07 GMT

    Salman Butt..top batsman?? what a joke??

  • DaDaL0G on February 3, 2012, 21:00 GMT

    aye aye ! Ajmal is best in current time but there aint no comparison to Murli he was the giant of this art and probably we could never see anyone like em.

  • on February 3, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    Best legspinner: Warne Best Offspinner: Saqlain

    You all can argue but if you erase these two, you'll have bore offspinner and only left armers who are also mediocres and no variation. pioneers these two. Qadir was good but not Warne. If Qadir gave tip Warne, Warne had talent to use them. Respect for Murli, but he will always be no 2

  • on February 3, 2012, 19:49 GMT

    Let both bowl for 2-3 years on different surfaces, against different batmans. When great Saqlain Mushtaq arrived he was memerising. But once batmans studied him, he was mediocre. When Ajantha Mendis arrived he was difficult to read. Let Ajmal to bowl for few years. Agree he was great in WC SF against India. I am pleased to see him beating batmans. Who wants one sided contest. I always liked Pakistani bowlers: Kadir, Akram, Waqar, Saqlain, Md Asif and Md Amir. Cheers!

  • Scrop on February 3, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    Swann is better spinner compared to Ajmal, Ajmal on Sub continental pitch looks excellent, but I wonder how Ajmal would bowl on England, SAF and Aus pitches, where Swann has already proven to be a good bowler.

  • bigdhonifan on February 3, 2012, 16:39 GMT

    Quality of spin reduced a lot. there was a time when Murali, Warne and Kumble wer on the scene.

  • on February 3, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    swann is avrage...ajmal too is no where close to great murali

  • on February 3, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding Yes you are right both played different teams, but if you say ajmal bowled on spinners friendly pitches then you should also keep this in mind that players of SL and Bangladesh play spin better whereas Aussies and English suffer.

  • on February 3, 2012, 14:32 GMT

    After the retirement of Murli, it was assumed that this is the end of spin bowling but Thanks for Swan and Ajmal. These guys have even poised it more. Keep this rivalry up and we will keep you appreciating.

  • on February 3, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    a good statistical comparison but not a meaningful one in my opinion. a bowler is always going to perform differently depending on who is bowling at the other end and england has a far better overall bowling attack so you would expect swann to come on later with the opposition in a worse position and may pick up more wickets on that basis.

    the comparison would have been better served if it were based upon the cumulative rank of the batsman dismissed. you also have to take in to account home advantage which, whilst not entirely relevant in seaming conditions will play a part...ajmal hasnt played at home and swann averages 26.71 at home.

    i cant understand the 'swann has been a success in all conditions' argument either, his average in australia and india are just shy of 40 and it's only his impressive averages in the west indies, bangladesh (both poor batsmen), at home and this series in the uae that lower his average, that's hardly proving yourself in all conditions is it?

  • Lanky1 on February 3, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    The real problem for England has been Swan's dramatic decline since an injury. If you compare Swan's bowling up to the end of the last Ashes series and since you will see the change and this is the reason England have lost the current series.

  • doctornikki on February 3, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    two amazing spinners..they are keeping the art alive and ajmal adding a lot more with his subtle variations and uniqueness...i think newcoming spinners will study ajmal more than swann and if given option will like to model on ajmal...

  • alimeer on February 3, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    ASSALAM WA ALUYKUM--to all Muslims...Ajmal INSHALLAH will be the best bowler in future as well.when swan played against India in recent one day series in India he was all over the place ..if my stats are not wrong he got the beating from all Indian batsmen and he is unable to get the wickets..while in one match against India in world cup ajmal troubled the most prolific batsmen of era tendulkar.Now you can figure it out who is best ..BY THE GRACE OF ALLAH..

    ALLAH HAFIZ

  • Romenevans on February 3, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    Swann is an overrated pile of unnecessary hype. Ajmal is the real deal.

  • drabbas00 on February 3, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    @ Jawad Shaikh & YorkshirePudding.

    Well, in the first test match ball was not spinning much! Also in Eng/Aus the ball does help spinner with bounce and faster turn. Shane Warne was a big spinner in those conditions. Swann had home conditions as well. Some day you got to have Big Heart and accept that some one else could be better than your own country's players....?

  • on February 3, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    Posted by YorkshirePudding - Totally agree..

  • glance_to_leg on February 3, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    A nice article. What is lovely is to see two such brilliant off-spinners, bowling well, and taking wickets in such different styles. I recall as boy the way in which the very boring John Emburey was generally preferred to the much more attacking and exciting Pat Pocock. How nice to see England field an attacking finger spinner these days. Goodness it is great how spin has come back to dominate the game. Well done to Amjal and Swanny: you are both greats!

  • YorkshirePudding on February 3, 2012, 10:25 GMT

    The problem with stats is that they are misleading, In the last 16 months england have played SL, India, and Aus, Pakistan have plated SL, SA, and Bangladesh and zimbabwe. you also have to consider that Australian and English wickets arnt exactly spin friendly (except for Sydney and the Oval), where as UAE, SL and Bangladesh wickets are very spin friendly. so doing these types of comparisons are fundamentally flaweded especially when looking at the last 12-14 months. The only way to compare the two spinners would have been if they had played the same teams in the same conditions which they havent.

  • on February 3, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    No one will become like the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan

  • khurramsch on February 3, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    in this series if you compare the batsman's experience , career averages, averges against spinners, 100s 200s than you must say ajmal is way better than swann & not only wickets but also the economy rate

  • big_al_81 on February 3, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    Ajmal is clearly a terrific bowler and he's on a roll. Swann has played twice as many matches and has very very similar numbers depite the fact he's played Tests everywhere. It's very hard to compare until Ajmal has played in all conditions. I'm surprised no-one has pointed this out yet as so many are fond of saying 'you're no good away from home against decent sides'. It's hard to rate Ajmal in this sense as he has played so little against the top sides away. The first 19 Tests comparison is slightly absurd since the more Tests you play, the better an idea we get of just how good a player is. When Ajmal has played away against top teams as much as Swann we'll see how well they compare. My feeling is that they will turn out to be very similar - both very good indeed.

  • badmaash on February 3, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    Ajmal is not really a great turner of the ball - his ability lies in varying length, speed and subtle movements.

  • on February 3, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    Ajmal is definitely best of the two. Had he been given as much opportunities as Swann, he could have been far ahead of him. anyway, very good comparison by Rajesh.

  • donda on February 3, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    All credit goes to Michael hussey for scoring 20 runs in lost over during T2020 SF two years ago against Ajmal to win the match. That match made Saeed Ajmal a very determined a world class bowler.

    If you do not get hit by a good batsman who can play spin well you cannot become a great spinner at all. Example. Shane Warne went for many against Sachin in india in 1998. Murli went for many against Lara in 2001 in Srilanka.

    Look at Warne and Murli stats after those series. Big improvement.

    Only a great batsman can make a great spinner. Hussey made an ordinary spinner Ajmal into a world class spinner. Great job Aussies.

  • jqamar on February 3, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    Swan is a great player of England, but Pakistan have variety of bowlers and every one has variety of bowling.

  • on February 3, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    I don't think so. There is no match of Ajmal and Swann. I think Ajmal is a great spinner. He proved meanwhile Swann is a normal off spinner. May be he can perform well at home but not away like Ajmal.

  • DaRKCreMeTai on February 3, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    Ajmal has proved an amazing spinner, i was shocked to see england the no 1 test side unable to score 145, wow simply amazing, i just want england to be whitewashed.. Swann was so good in england, seriously well played pakistan

  • on February 3, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    You missed an interesting point. Ajmal is joint 5th fastest to reach 100 wickets. And fastest in last 25 years .Also fastest bowler to reach 100 wickets from Pak

  • adnan_rifat84 on February 3, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    Don't like number games, just keep performing better and better, number will increase by itself. Well done Ajmal & Swann both have there own class.

  • satish619chandar on February 3, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Swann's sliders against lefties and Ajmal's Doosra against right handers are mightily effective.. Just look at the combo of Ajmal and Rehman.. Too hot to handle when bowling in tandem especially in supportive tracks..

  • rahulcricket007 on February 3, 2012, 4:57 GMT

    so a/q to list yuvraj singh is the only left haded batsmen who can easilly hadle swann & make runs at fast speed too .

  • on February 3, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    Ajmal and Swann are 2 different class of off spinners. Ajmal is the newer version and Swann the orthodox version. Great bowlers both of them ... (Pakistan fan)

  • on February 3, 2012, 4:47 GMT

    True

  • Hamshank on February 3, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Surely playing the majority of your games on spinning tracks helps this battle. If Ajmal played the majority of his games in England or Australia would he really be that great ?? Or just a good Off-Spinner !!!

  • johnathonjosephs on February 3, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    Would have been interesting to compare home and away stats, but from that list of batsman, all I can say is Jacque Kallis you beauty. Sanga has been pretty decent considering he only hit form in Tests after the last Test in England

  • on February 3, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    ALL TIME GREAT PAKISTANI SPINNER SAEED AJMALBUT SAQLAIN IS THE INVENTOR OF VARIETIES IN SPIN KEEP IT UP BOY .................

  • on February 3, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    the reason why ajmal isnt as effective against left handed batsmen could be due to the dearth of quality left handed batsmen in Pakistan to begin with. Although he did mention in a recent interview that he has been working really hard to try and improve his game against left handers.

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  • on February 3, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    the reason why ajmal isnt as effective against left handed batsmen could be due to the dearth of quality left handed batsmen in Pakistan to begin with. Although he did mention in a recent interview that he has been working really hard to try and improve his game against left handers.

  • on February 3, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    ALL TIME GREAT PAKISTANI SPINNER SAEED AJMALBUT SAQLAIN IS THE INVENTOR OF VARIETIES IN SPIN KEEP IT UP BOY .................

  • johnathonjosephs on February 3, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    Would have been interesting to compare home and away stats, but from that list of batsman, all I can say is Jacque Kallis you beauty. Sanga has been pretty decent considering he only hit form in Tests after the last Test in England

  • Hamshank on February 3, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Surely playing the majority of your games on spinning tracks helps this battle. If Ajmal played the majority of his games in England or Australia would he really be that great ?? Or just a good Off-Spinner !!!

  • on February 3, 2012, 4:47 GMT

    True

  • on February 3, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    Ajmal and Swann are 2 different class of off spinners. Ajmal is the newer version and Swann the orthodox version. Great bowlers both of them ... (Pakistan fan)

  • rahulcricket007 on February 3, 2012, 4:57 GMT

    so a/q to list yuvraj singh is the only left haded batsmen who can easilly hadle swann & make runs at fast speed too .

  • satish619chandar on February 3, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Swann's sliders against lefties and Ajmal's Doosra against right handers are mightily effective.. Just look at the combo of Ajmal and Rehman.. Too hot to handle when bowling in tandem especially in supportive tracks..

  • adnan_rifat84 on February 3, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    Don't like number games, just keep performing better and better, number will increase by itself. Well done Ajmal & Swann both have there own class.

  • on February 3, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    You missed an interesting point. Ajmal is joint 5th fastest to reach 100 wickets. And fastest in last 25 years .Also fastest bowler to reach 100 wickets from Pak