Matches (14)
USA vs BAN (1)
WI vs SA (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
ENG v PAK (1)
IPL (2)

Anantha Narayanan

Which are the toughest bowling spells in Test cricket?

Ever wonder which are the top bowling performances in conditions that were the most difficult for bowlers?

To start with, the now customary cricket-related segment of prose/poetry/anecdote segment for readers to savour. This is from 10 for 66 And All That by Arthur Mailey. A very young Mailey bowled to his boyhood hero, Victor Trumper, in a grade cricket match and beat him, while playing an attacking shot, with a googly. Con Hayes was about to stump the great Trumper.
Vic made no attempt to scramble back. He knew the ball had beaten him and was prepared to pay the penalty, and although he had little chance of regaining the crease on this occasion I think he would have acted similarly if his back foot had been an inch away from safety. As he walked past me he smiled, patted the back of his bat and said, 'It was too good for me.' There was no triumph in me as I watched the receding figure. I felt like a boy who had killed a dove.
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Which are the toughest Test innings ever played?

A look at the most difficult Test runs made in an innings, taking into account the pitch and the support (or lack of it) at the other end

Starting with the one before this, my articles contain a segment of cricket-related prose/poetry/anecdote for readers to savour. This is from English Cricket by Neville Cardus.
At half-past two Rhodes and Robinson went out to inspect the wicket, I with them. Rhodes pressed a finger into the soft turf, saying, "Emmott, it'll be sticky at four o'clock," said Rhodes. Emmott simply replied, "Aye, Wilfrid," which was not good enough for me, not good enough for Robinson. So I, in my report, made him reply to Rhodes's "It'll be sticky at four o'clock," "No. Wilfrid, half-past." I put words into his mouth that God intended him to utter.
This article is in two parts. In the first part, I describe a major change made to the PQI (Pitch Quality Index) based on the reader comments to my Golden Willow 25 articles ranking the top Test batting performances of all time. This is the first of the major changes I will be making to the Red Cherry 25/Golden Willow 25 base parameters. In the second part, I analyse the toughest innings played on difficult pitches and with little support, using the newly developed dual-PQIs.
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Which are the most memorable match-saving Test performances?

Athers, Faf, McCabe, and even Mark Waugh? Which batsmen have hunkered down the best?

"Barnes: The finest innings I have seen."
"Cardus: Think again, you have seen Trumper."
"Barnes: I can only repeat it is the greatest I ever saw."
"Cardus: I'd have liked to see you out there bowling to McCabe."
"Barnes (after a moment's thought): I don't think I would have kept him quiet."


Background
A match-saving innings is an effort of great fortitude and endurance. It is difficult to pinpoint performances in the first innings of Test matches as match-saving, as there are at least two more innings to be played in the game. Hence, match-saving innings are normally played in the third or fourth innings, when there is no comeback possible. The only exception is one of the greatest innings ever - the one by McCabe referenced above.
The selection in this article is through a combination of my own knowledge base, Ratings points, and my own preferences. It is possible that the sequence, at least for the first five or six innings, reflects my own favourites. In the graphs, the blue circles indicate the balls played by the batsman who played the innings in question, and the grey ones, balls played by the other batsmen.
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Rashid Khan v Joel Garner v Mitchell Starc - who's the best ODI bowler?

Finding the best ODI bowlers in history using a combination of strike rate, bowling average and runs conceded per over

In May, I wrote an article presenting the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) charts for the ODI batting measures: the batting strike rate and Runs per Weighted Innings. Now it's time analyse one-day bowlers similarly.
There is one fundamental change to the presentation. Up till now I used the standard method of BCG graphs presentation of four customised quadrants. However, I have recently seen many newspaper/web visuals in which only the top-right quadrant is used. The quadrant concept has its own uses in certain facets of analyses where player classifications are needed, but the standardised single-quadrant method of presentation gives us more flexibility in terms of showing a number of entries. And I have found that it's easier to view the relative positions of the players.
First, let me look at the base chart comparing the two contrasting measures: the strike rate (balls per wicket) v the runs per over. The selection criterion for all the graphs will be the powerful and simple bowling average. The other important criterion is that the career wickets captured by the bowlers should be 100 or more. My sincere apologies to Nathan Astle, the only retired bowler with 99 wickets, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will surely reach this mark in the next ODI he plays.
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Beefy? Laker? Murali? Hadlee? Who has done it the best?

A look at bowlers with the highest-rated four- and five-wicket hauls, bowlers with the best frequency of top performances, and more

This is the second of two follow-up pieces to the top 25 batting and bowling performance lists I compiled over the last few months.
First, on the terminology used in these pieces: GW25 (Golden Willow 25) and RC25 (Red Cherry 25) have been established in the earlier articles. I will use GW25-100 and RC25-100 to represent the Top 100 tables. I will refer to the 3200-odd entries (that have rating points greater than 400) as GW25-Selection or RC25-Selection.
I have created an Excel sheet containing the RC25 performances over 500 points which can be downloaded here. In it I have given the PQI (Pitch Quality Index) for each performance so that the readers can gauge the nature of the pitch and relate this important measure to the performance. Remember that the PQI value is on a scale of 0-100; a low PQI value indicates a lot of help to the bowlers and a high PQI value indicates that it was a batsman-friendly pitch. I have also given the Wicket-Value, which is arguably the most important measure used in the RC25 analysis. It is a composite of the dismissed batsman's batting average and the runs saved if the batsman was dismissed below his average.
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How close was the England-India series?

A look at the winning chances for the teams in the fascinating five-Test series just past

In December last year, I wrote a piece for the Cricket Monthly on the greatest Test comebacks, in which I used a complex method to determine the winning chances of the batting team. In this article I will use that same measure, WinIndex, to look at the way the matches in the recently concluded Pataudi Trophy swung between England and India
There are two significant changes from that article, though. Back then, I restricted myself to the latter two innings. In this analysis, I will also look at the first two innings. I have to use a different methodology for this since the target scores in this segment are totally different.
The other difference is that in that feature I had used "Runs expected to be added" at the fall of each wicket, based on all the Tests played until that point. That is because that analysis covered the entire Test-playing period of 140-plus years. However, this analysis is specific only to the recent series, so I made this extracted measure using home Tests played by England (34) and away Tests played by India (28) over the past five years. The added benefit is that the projections are now team-dependent and current.
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Which batsmen have played the largest number of all-time-great innings?

The follow-up to the top 25 batting performances of all time looks at, among other things, the best performances in a match, and batsmen with the top average rating

This is the first of two follow-up pieces I will be doing on the top 25 batting and bowling performance lists I compiled over the last couple of months.
First, on the terminology used in these pieces: GW25 (Golden Willow 25) and RC25 (Red Cherry 25) have been established in the earlier articles in the series. I will use GW25-100 and RC25-100 to represent the Top 100 tables. I will refer to the 3200-odd entries (that have rating points greater than 400) as GW25-Selection or RC25-Selection.
I have created an Excel sheet containing the GW25 performances over 500 points and this can be downloaded here.
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The top 25 Test batting performances of all time

A definitive list based on an exhaustive and thorough ratings system

In part one of my analysis of the top 25 batting performances, I covered the history, the original Wisden 100 batting list, the parameters in play at that time, database improvements, and the basis of the current analyses. Please read it. Skipping part one and going directly to the second part will make as much sense as playing Test matches with no first-class experience.
Since all the required background work has been done in the first part, I will go straight to the table of the top Test batting performances of all time. The table is current up to the England-India Test at Edgbaston this month.
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The top 25 Test bowling performances of all time

A definitive list based on an exhaustive and thorough ratings system

In part one of this feature on ranking the top Test bowling performances, I covered the following topics: the historical perspective; Test ratings for bowling: a brief note on the calculations; the original Wisden 100 table, and subsequent database enhancements; the current basis for analysis; a general view of the Bowler Performance Ratings; and more information on the new tables.
Now I will dive straight into the Top Test Bowling Performances of all time. The table is current up to the West Indies-Sri Lanka St Lucia Test (Test No. 2308). The few readers who responded to my query about how to present the ratings preferred a straightforward, non-grouped method, so that's how I'm presenting it - as a table of the top 25 bowling performances. I call it "The Red Cherry 25".
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