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Interested in stadium politics, competition programming, sporting administration, cricket history and trivia

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Thanks Ben,

Worth noting that Martyn played only 6 of these 21 matches, and Langer 12, while Andrew Symonds actually played 15. And Lee played all 21, great endurance for a fast bowler.

The period’s up there with Australia 1999-2001 (15 consecutive Test match wins, same as this one, preceded by 2 draws), the West Indies 1980-1995 (29 consecutive series over 15 years, without losing a series), India 2015-2018 (9 consecutive series won) and the intervening Australian one 2001-2005 (16 consecutive series without losing a series).

Advance Australia unfair: The most dominant Test team of all time

Hi Micko,

The only Pom. His all-time team in 1999, of the best he’d personally seen since 1924 was-

Arthur Morris
Barry Richards
Don Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Garry Sobers
Don Tallon
Ray Lindwall
Dennis Lillee
Alec Bedser
Bill O’Reilly
Clarrie Grimmett

No batting after No 5, but he figured he’d have enough runs by then anyway, and wanted the very best keeper and five bowlers he could have.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Fair call DaveJ,

On further analysis, England playing away during 1969-1982 might well fall into the category of poor teams that struggled to take 20 wickets, and therefore to dismiss 6-8 tailenders per match. Teams just declared earlier, or batted out draws. So Underwood had lots of mates who didn’t dismiss many tailenders, rather than ones who took the wickets that he might have otherwise done.

Playing away during those 14 years, only five bowlers (Underwood, Botham, Greig, J Lever and Snow) averaged better than 3 wickets a match. Even Willis generally struggled.

England had too many seamers and finger-spinners, who were flops overseas. Old, Arnold, Emburey, Pocock, Miller, P Lever, Hendrick, Dilley, Edmonds… yet they kept getting selected to tour, in the absence of anyone better.

Underwood clearly out-performed bowlers like them, against top-order batsmen. For example overseas Dilley took only 12 top-seven wickets in 10 matches, and Miller 15 in 14, and the others weren’t much better.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Hi JN,

Would have liked to have seen Vincent van der Bijl, Denys Hobson and Franklyn Stephenson in Test cricket, especially.

Without good wrist-spinners, other styles have done the job of removing tailenders for SA.

39 per cent of Mike Procter’s 41 victims in 7 matches were tailenders. As far as I can tell a higher proportion than anyone else in Test history except Wilfred Rhodes, but admittedly from a very small sample size. He would have been a handful for a number 11, even with an old ball.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Thanks JN,

Great to share ideas with like-minded cricket fans.

But imagine trying to do this 25 years ago, with just a pocket calculator and a bookshelf of Wisdens !

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Thanks DaveJ,

Here’s a hypothetical. Underwood’s statistics were 86 matches, 297 wickets at 25.83, only 3.45 wickets per match, strike-rate 73.6 balls, 70 tailenders is just 24% of the total. Underwhelming for an all-time great.

But add 47 tailenders that his team-mates dismissed. They improve his figures to 86 matches, 344 wickets, and 4.00 wickets per match. 117 tailenders is still only 34% of the total, still below-average compared to other great spinners. But he’d surely have dismissed those 47 extra tailenders for fewer than 25.83 runs apiece, and faster than every 73.6 balls.

As I said, it’s hypothetical. But definitely can be argued for.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Thanks Paul,

Would be interesting to see what the gurus like Davis and Narayanan would come up with. This is the simplified version.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Thanks matth,

It was a lot of fun, as always. But interesting angles are getting harder and harder to find.

Bottom line, an attack must always have balance and adaptability. Then each bowler can play his assigned role. Two wrist-spinners, or three Jimmy Andersons or Vernon Philanders, will sometimes work but often fail.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 2: Worldwide comparisons

Thanks JN,

It just needs someone with the passion and skill, and ideally also the discovery or reconstruction of missing ball-by-ball records of some matches.

Charles Davis has done amazing work on this, which has enabled him to also calculate head-to-head records all the way back to Bradman v Verity, and Grimmett v Sutcliffe and Hammond-

http://www.sportstats.com.au/bloghome.html

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Thanks matth,

Cricinfo’s Anantha Narayanan recently wrote a piece on this, published on 14 Mar 2020-

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/anantha-narayanan-are-late-order-batsmen-contributing-to-team-scores-more-today-than-in-the-past-1219153

He found that across the entire history of Test cricket, partnerships for the last four wickets have comprised 26.4% of all runs scored, with almost no variation between eras. He did note that some earlier eras were relatively low-scoring, ie those runs would have been a similar percentage but of a lower total. He also noted that a lot of these runs would have been scored by a top-seven batsman in partnership with a tailender. Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist come to mind.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Thanks Julian,

A great team-mate and club president, larger than life, and great company both on and off the field.

And he did enjoy a win over his previous club just up the road !

Remembering Vinay Verma: Ten years on

Thanks TLN,

It’s nice to be appreciated. I don’t dare add up the hours taken, but it never feels like a chore. matth has gone past 100 articles, so he’s the benchmark.

You’re right about bowling partnerships and fielding pressure. When a captain a very long time ago, I always used to stress that it was 11 against 2. I also preferred winning a match when fielding second, with all 11 of us together rather than 9 watching from the sidelines.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Every bowler with more than his 310 wickets got at least one 7-fer.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

He took ten 5-fers, and all but 2 of them were completed by cleaning up the tail with 3-4 wickets at the end. A fit, intimidating pace bowler can be handy at such times.

Both exceptions were against NZ. In Hamilton in 1999-00 he took 5 of the first 7, and in Adelaide in 2008-09 he took the first 4. In both cases, his team-mates got the cheap late wickets.

And there’s the SCG in 2003-04. He took 4-201, but India declared at 7-705 thereby depriving him of a 6-fer or even a 7-fer…

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Lee took 310 wickets in 76 matches.

His 1.93 wickets of top-four batsmen per match, and 2.99 wickets of top-seven batsmen, were slightly above-average. Which for a bowler in a team with McGrath, Gillespie and Warne, is very good. But noting that his side almost always took 20 wickets in each match and never picked a fifth bowler, so barring run-outs and the odd draw there were plenty of tailend scalps to share around.

27% of Lee’s wickets, and 1.09 per match, were tailenders. That is pretty standard for an Australian fast bowler. Clearly more than Gillespie (0.87 per match, equivalent to 17 extra wickets in a 76-match career), but similar to McGrath (1.15 per match).

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Narayanan states that Lara averaged 45.00 against McGrath.

Test batting averages: What’s in a number?

Perhaps I could have summed it up best by concluding that every great team needs a balanced batting attack, and also a balanced bowling attack.

Doug Walters needed Ross Edwards, Michael Slater needed Mark Taylor, and David Warner needs a solid partner.

Similarly if a pace trio has bowled itself into the ground getting through the top-order on a flat pitch, it really needs another team-mate to dispose of the tail while it rests up. Especially nowadays with no rest days, and regular back-to-back matches. No wonder captains never enforce the follow-on any more.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Hi Chip,

Direct head-to-head match-ups seem to be a thing in T20 tactics nowadays. For Test cricket, Charles Davis and Anantha Narayanan are the oracles. To save you trawling through their articles, here’s a few figures-

McGrath averaged 22.6 against all top-order batsmen, followed by Ambrose with 22.9.

Bradman averaged only 49 against Verity, who dismissed him 8 times.

Tendulkar averaged a massive 107 against Warne, 83 against Johnson, 60 against Vettori, 55 against Lee, 48 against Murali, 35 against Donald, 24 against Gillespie, 23 against Anderson, and only 14 against McGrath.

Lara averaged 124 against Murali, 110 against MacGill, and 71 against Warne,

Which clearly suggests that Lara was better than Tendulkar, and McGrath was superior to Warne.

Dravid scored 223 runs against MacGill, without being dismissed.

Test batting averages: What’s in a number?

Sounds like doublethink to me, your eminence

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

Cheers JGK,

If Starc had played, would Aus have dismissed Eng for 67 then reduced it to 9-286 needing another 73 ? Interestingly that ninth wicket was Broad second ball, lbw to… Pattinson.

One observation is that Lyon is not his team’s go-to bowler to dismiss tailenders (32% of his 399 wickets, which is not high for a leading spinner). So Starc shares the load, which doesn’t happen with other countries’ attacks.

In this innings Lyon took 2-114. But to be fair, Stokes put most of his 8 sixes just over long-off’s head, and in the old days without a boundary rope he would have been easily caught inside the fence a number of times.

What’s a wicket worth? Part 1: Baggy green bowlers

From 2001 he certainly did !

1994-2001 with Slater averaged 43.54 from 25 stands including 3 of 100-plus
1996-1997 with Taylor averaged 13.20 from 10
2001 with Gilchrist 1 stand worth 30
2006 with Ponting 1 stand worth 12
2008-2009 with Katich averaged 34.81 from 17 stands

Baggy green opening pairs: The best, and why

Thanks matth,

Although I was secretly hoping for some Queenslanders to come out in support of Hayden.

Noting that if temporary duos Hayden-Jaques (11 stands at 71.27) and Hayden-Hussey (7 stands at 65.43) had maintained their performances for a couple of years, then statistically they’d be the two best pairings of all time.

Baggy green opening pairs: The best, and why

Thanks I2I,

Another comparison is on a like-for-like basis-

Total of partnership averages against 5 common opponents (v Eng, Ind, Pak, SA, WI only)
305.85 runs- Lawry & Simpson (lowest 39.25 v Pak, highest 83.66 v Ind)
246.39 runs- Hayden & Langer (lowest 26.70 v Pak, highest 63.50 v WI)
205.49 runs- Slater & Taylor (lowest 31.50 v Ind, highest 57.83 v Eng)

Total of partnership averages against 7 common opponents (plus v NZ, SL)
378.55 runs- Hayden & Langer
376.99 runs- Slater & Taylor
not applicable- Lawry & Simpson (didn’t play NZ, SL)

That takes out the skewing of averages caused by one pair facing a (strong or weak) country a disproportionate number of times, or not at all.

Baggy green opening pairs: The best, and why

Thanks TLN,

And not only is it fun, but I can’t be proven wrong !

Baggy green opening pairs: The best, and why

Median (middle) partnerships per pairing, per innings of match-

First innings Hayden/Langer 49 runs, Lawry/Simpson 42, Slater/Taylor 38
Second innings Slater/Taylor 34 runs, Hayden/Langer 30, Lawry/Simpson 28
Third innings Lawry/Simpson 59 runs, Hayden/Langer 28, Slater/Taylor 26
Fourth innings Lawry/Simpson 39 runs, Slater/Taylor 30, Hayden/Langer 25

Only the one in the bold italics is markedly higher than those for the other two duos.

Baggy green opening pairs: The best, and why