Is Murali the Bradman of test match bowling?

Anantha Narayan has a second post looking at the bowlers this time. The first one was on batsman where the great Don obviously ruled.

Again he used Wickets per test as an alternative measure to averages (where again Murali tops) and comes up with following:

What more can be said of Muralitharan? Look at his career split:

Phase 1: 135 wickets in 34 Tests at an average of 31.16 and WpT of 3.9.
Phase 1: 565 wickets in 79 Tests at an average of 18.98 and WpT of 7.2.
Phase 1: 100 wickets in 20 Tests at an average of 32.53 and WpT of 5.0.

Muralitharan’s first phase was ordinary. He more than made up with an astounding second phase lasting nine years. I repeat: the 565 wickets at a WpT value of 7.18 can only be bettered by Bradman’s career streak. Muralitharan’s last 20 Tests were ordinary only by his own standards. He bought his wickets dearly but still managed to take five wickets per Test. It is of interest to note that there is another streak of Muralitharan’s that ran for 90 Tests: 619 wickets at a WpT value of 6.88.

Muralitharan has strong claim to being the best Test bowler ever. I am willing to concede if someone says let us include him in a list of three bowlers and then talk. But nothing less. Those who do not give him this recognition can only be speaking from a biased and myopic point of view.

Barnes is the only bowler whose best streak coincided with his career. There were times when his WpT value exceeded 7.0 but that was over fewer wickets/Tests. His best streak, based on the Index value, coincides with his career. He is the only bowler to have a career WpT value of 7.

Warne comes into his own in the WpT stakes. Playing in a strong team he often had to compete for wickets with McGrath and company. As such, his run of 173 wickets at an excellent rate of 6.41 wickets per Test is outstanding. The fact that Australia, blessed with a strong team, often took 20 opposition wickets was an advantage. Still, it is remarkable that Warne took well over 35% of the wickets.

Waqar’s streak starts at the beginning of his career. The start to his career was one of the best any bowler ever had. Waqar, helped by Wasim, Aaqib Javed and Mushtaq, made Pakistan the most potent attack in the word during the early 1990s.

I am glad that the doyen of fast bowlers, Dennis Lillee, has been placed in the top table. Despite the presence of other quality bowlers in Australia, Lillee dismissed 193 batsmen in 32 Tests. This included the period when Lillee was absent from the Australian team because of the World Series.

Interesting all this. I wish someone wrote a stats book using data from cricket. My one last bit to figure this beautiful subject of numbers and hypothesis.

Coming back to the topic, Murali does crazily well on all stats parameters. One can always debate his physical advantage, weak opposition, weak SL team and so on. But Even Warne took most wickets against English who were really poor at spin as well. He is hardly given the kind of credit which Bradman and others get.

It is true that bowlers make you win matches in all forms but batsman enjoy all the limelight..


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