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Jon Richardson

Roar Pro

Joined April 2018









Interesting exercise GBU, I think it’s pretty hard to split them. In case you missed it at the time, here is article I did a year ago comparing the the 2002 Australians, 1984 Windies and 1948 Australians in terms of which of these three teams could claim to have the best 11 players on the field at the time in terms of their careers to that day. This is of course was a very different question to the one you were discussing, which is based on wins and losses over an extended period. I ended up arguing that the 2002 Aussies had a claim to be the best in terms of team balance, overall consistent quality across the team, and experience, despite the ‘48 Australians coming out in front in terms of the comparison of batting and bowling averages. In terms of the 90s/00s Aussies vs 80s Windies, one could argue that Australia were better equipped to do well in the sub-continent, except that the Windies never the lost there while Australia did, and Warne had a modest record in India. However, India were clearly a stronger team in the Steve Waugh era than in the 80s, as were Sri Lanka.

Comparing eras of dominance: West Indies and Australia

Good recap of some bad memories for some great players. Surprising that McKenzie and Stackpole were relatively young when they faded from the game. Though retirement around 33 as in Stackpole’s case was pretty common in the pre-professional era. Bradman as greatest athlete of all time? I’m guess this follows Charles Davis’s book where he makes that case for Bradman on the basis of the huge gap between him and the next best in averages, rate of centuries, etc. Its a fun conversation, though you’d have to say it’s pretty hard to make the case for a cricketer given the limited number of countries involved compared to, say, football or basketball, or athletics.

Baggy green swansongs, Part 2: Going out not with a bang, but a whimper

One measure of how good Underwood was – the retrospective ICC player ratings ranks him at number 1 bowler in the world for 4 consecutive years at the end of the year between 1969 and 1972.

England's 'Deadly' weapon

Great stuff. Hard to argue overall. I would suggest O’Reilly over Benaud, not withstanding Richie’s batting ability. Just the extra miserliness and penetration worth it. Benaud’s (and Davidson’s) Test economy rates perhaps flattered by the the 50s being a real low point for scoring rates in Tests (2.3 globally vs 2.8 in the ‘30s). And more a one-day kind of bowler than Benaud, who was more loopy? Davidson and Lindwall give you enough hitting power at 8 and 9. Maybe we could consider Billy Murdoch from the 1880s as an ODI keeper, given his batting prowess, though Tallon a safer bet behind the stumps.
Interested to know – where did you get the scoring rates from – Cricinfo- doesn’t give them for batsmen before the 70s?

After 50 years of ODIs, here's a pre-1971 Australian team to beat its best

Interesting, that certainly adds to the argument that he took risks with the aim of scoring quickly- with the aim of either we get the runs quickly as our only chance of winning and if we don’t get many they probably won’t have time to get us out twice? Not sure if this was a hugely successful tactic in 1905 given he only averaged 18 and Australia lost 2-0. Or are you saying he didn’t really care about the result much anyway? Btw, I don’t follow the stats quoted above for 3-day matches. Cricinfo says he had nine innings in the first innings of a match in England and averaged 33.

Analysing Australia’s Test cricket winners: Trumper, Waugh, Warner and Smith

Some great suggestions. Hopefully, there will be more than a couple of years left for Lyon – at 32 now, you’d think he could have at least four or five left, given his fitness, lack of heavy white ball workload and history of spinners in the past getting better with age.

What does Australian cricket need to do about our Test spinner stocks?

Agree on Chappell. Would rate him third all time Australian batsman, behind Bradman and Smith, assuming Smith keeps going at a reasonable level. I was lucky enough to see that 182 vs the Windies at Sydney in 1976 – a magnificent innings.

Analysing Australia’s Test cricket winners: Harvey, Chappell, Hussey and Walters

What I’m really saying is that everyone has trouble with a moving ball on a wet wicket and that would explain why he had quite a few low scores opening the batting and an average of 34 in the first innnings, which may have affected his average in draws disproportionately given the low sample size? – also a decent number of the draws happened because of time lost to rain, not because the pitches were easy. I’ll bow to your superior knowledge of some of the innings he played on wet wickets, which does suggest he was pretty outstanding defensively as well as in attack.

Analysing Australia’s Test cricket winners: Trumper, Waugh, Warner and Smith

Hi Renato, interesting to hear that the draw was considered likely from the first ball. Would be interested to see the evidence, seeing there were plenty of games where either or both first innings were short and ended in a result or a close run thing. Seems odd that Victor would have gone in with a cavalier attitude in the first innings with the idea that the team was unlikely to need many runs from him. In most of those 12 drawn matches it looks as if the runs were needed in both innings. Are you saying he didn’t do well in those series because just wasn’t interested in making a big scores? Surely more likely he had a period of less stellar form and bad luck. I think you yourself pointed out in a previous article that he had periods of ups and downs.

Analysing Australia’s Test cricket winners: Trumper, Waugh, Warner and Smith

“Waiving” rights to the ODIs and T20s was of course a completely artificial scam to get around the anti-siphoning laws. If Seven bid for them and weren’t going to broadcast them the whole thing should have gone back to the market place with other networks able to bid. But the government and their puppets in the regulator gave their seal of approval as they don’t like anti-siphoning anyway.

Who's running Australian cricket?

Don’t think it shows that at all. See my comments below/above. To which I would add that, scanning the 12 drawn Tests in which Trumper played, there are only two for which you could really argue that Trumper might have got out early through lack of interest because a draw was likely or his team was in an invulnerable position. There’s no doubt he played some great innings when the game was on the line, but overall his numbers (while great for his period) don’t stand out above a few others is because he had some bad series and scored a hell of a lot of low scores in the first innings, which wasn’t surprising given the nature of the wickets. He was a brilliant stroke maker, but that won’t save you when the ball is moving all over the place and defence against the moving ball probably wasn’t his forte.

Analysing Australia’s Test cricket winners: Trumper, Waugh, Warner and Smith

Some interesting observations, especially on Trumper and Warner. But I think there’s a couple of key points overlooked in suggesting Trumper wasn’t interested in draws, although there are some great examples of how he did produce at times when the team was in dire need, even if they didn’t always win those games. The points being that a) all Tests at home in Australia in Trumper’s era were timeless, so ended in a result and so no draws there and b) the point about not getting interested if a draw was likely hardly applies in the first innings of a match. Maybe in some Tests in England where Tests were only of three days’ duration in that era it was apparent by the second innings that a draw was likely and Trumper lost interest. But I think a much bigger reason for an overall record that doesn’t quite match the extraordinary reputation is that he had a few poor series where none of these factors (about losing interest) were evident- averaging 22 in 1901/02, 18 in 1905 and 26 in 1909. He is remembered for what he was like at his best rather than for his consistency. In any case, an average of 39 was equivalent to an average of nearly 50 today, given that average runs per wicket in 1900-14 was 7-8 runs less than in the last couple of decades, reflecting the tougher wickets of the time.

Analysing Australia’s Test cricket winners: Trumper, Waugh, Warner and Smith

Agree, and in cases like Walters we can explain it in a way we can’t with Bradman and the SCG. But I think it’s likely that numbers are telling us something with regard to performances in different countries than in regard to individual grounds, which is not to say that they never tell us something about some individuals- just harder to pinpoint those cases.

Batting in Australia: Horses for courses, hoodoo venues and home-town heroes

Great article and very interesting question posed about whether some batsmen should be picked on a horses for courses basis. However, I would suggest that while some of these stats might tell us something about batsmen, overall the sample sizes are too small to read too much into them. We seem to be talking about seven or eight matches for some of the players. There is a good deal of luck (as well as skill) that determites at what point in an innings- one day the first ball that deviates gets the edge, the next day several go past the edge on the way to a century. Or pre-DRS, umpiring decisions could be a similar source of luck. These elements tend to even out over the long term, but may not do so over a span of several games. One guy’s five or ten games at the Gabba might feature a greater number of green tops than someone else’s.

Would be interesting to see whether Bradman’s record in first class cricket at the SCG, over a much larger sample size, was also weaker than at other grounds. A quick look at stats shows that he averaged 102.8 in 26 First Class games at home for NSW (and a Shield average of 124 in 16 games!) at the SCG compared to 85 in 25 away games. He averaged 85 for South Australia in five games at the SCG, compared to 104.6 in all games for SA, but that’s a very small sample. On the basis of those numbers I’d suggest that Bradman’s Test numbers are more of a statistical aberration rather than due to some underlying factor.

Batting in Australia: Horses for courses, hoodoo venues and home-town heroes

Think you’re right that the team seems a bit more vanilla these days, thanks to a more corporate approach and the professional ethos. Not sure they’re all nice though, at least on the field, given the way they were behaving up to the sandpaper Test. One thing I do like about the team is that they smile a bit more on the field, even while being competitive.
PS They are doing something funny with the cricket page at the moment – leaving yesterday’s articles at the top, would have been easy to miss this new one buried below.

Cricket desperately needs its characters

The message I get from the Border stats is that he played pretty well whether it was a win, loss or draw and it was when other players lifted their games we had a better chance of a win. Although Border shone in a lot of draws.

Analysing Australia's Test cricket winners: Adam Gilchrist, Allan Border and Michael Clarke

Melbourne certainly deserves a Boxing Day Test with crowds after all they’ve been through. I think they are already doing some similar proportions of ground capacity at some other stadiums – eg 6000 at Canberra stadium for league and union is just under 25%. Can’t be too hard to organise spacing, though probably have to have all seats booked in advance. Sorry to hear about the job Peter.

I cannot wait for the first ball of the Boxing Day Test

Good points Paul. I think while we have to be realistic about how he gets out sometimes, we can also hope that he can still find some improvement in shot selection and reduce the number of times he gets out to poor shots as opposed to just taking risks.

What standards should we judge ultra-high risk batsmen by?

And Davis’s book doesn’t actually define exactly how he calculates the pressure average as far as I can see. But on the top 7 comparison, I hope you see the point that it’s not telling us a lot if a guy who averages more than his teammates in all matches averages more than them in wins. The question is – what is a significant margin. Also, including the top 7 before Gilly inevitably brings the average for the rest down even more, given Australian keepers pretty much all averaged under 30 before him? Maybe top 6 is better?

Analysing Australia's Test cricket winners: Adam Gilchrist, Allan Border and Michael Clarke

Good points, especially re Zampa and the need for more variety bowling at the tail. It’s more the variety that each bowler possesses rather than variety among the three. They just bowled poorly at the tail. Re choking – you could argue that being 5/73 was already a bit of a choke. Ultimately, it is the contributions of individuals that determine outcomes, not some abstract “team” play, though no doubt batting collapses can be infectious on occasion under pressure. The collapse in the first T20 was more a case of complacency/rustiness than choking. Interesting question about Maxwell- the argument almost seems to be – his ability to bring off a win that no one else could achieve is worth all the other low scores. You could possibly mount a mathematical case that a few more in-between contributions might help create more victories than the odd very rare match winner with lots of low scores. Still, it was a special innings.

Choker tag’s short stay and the pay-off for patience: Five things we learnt from Australia’s UK tour

Great stuff Matth. Enjoyed revisiting some of the great moments by these players. You make a good point re Clark’s toughness in big occasions. I’m not quite sure how much the comparison of averages of these players vs the rest in winning scores tells us. I’m actually surprised the gap between these greats and the rest of the batsmen isn’t bigger, particularly for Clarke and Border, seeing their career batting averages were several points higher than their contemporaries. In Border’s case, most of the top six averaged in the 30s or low 40s, so a difference of only 5 suggests it was his teammates’ playing above their usual level that was more crucial than AB’s performance. But in his day, some of the draws he helped secure, eg against the Windies, were almost as impressive as the wins. Of course ultimately it’s rare for one batsman to win a lot of games off their own bat, and maybe bowlers do it more often.

Perhaps a more telling stat for batsman is the “pressure average” that Charles Davis used in “The Best of the Best” – situations when the team wasn’t dominating the match, which could include close losses and draws. Border did well without being great on that dimension according to Davis – not as good as some like Trumper, Tendulkar, McCabe or Hobbs, but interestingly better than the likes of Richards, Chappell, Barrington and Lara. His average away from home (53.8) was perhaps his most impressive stat, putting him in the top 10 all time up to 2000 (and has anyone else other than Smith done better since?)

Analysing Australia's Test cricket winners: Adam Gilchrist, Allan Border and Michael Clarke

Yes, you wouldn’t really like to see a Mankad there without a warning. Australia bowled poorly again at the death, though maybe that’s a bit unfair to Woakes and Curran. Great partnership in the chase. Stoinis still doesn’t really look the goods.

Archer no ball haunts England as Maxwell and Carey ton up

True. A few guys went to balls keeping low – Finch, Marsh, Labuschagne. Archer was nasty early on.

Australia collapse, England win second ODI

Have to agree with Micko here. Hadlee averaged 21.6 in Asia, 68 wickets in 13 Tests. Averaged 21.7 on all pitches away from home, a sign of true greatness. Did even better over the best 10 years of his career. Don’t accept the argument that he had an advantage because he didn’t have as much competition from teammates. This is why the average counts most as a comparator. If you have four bowlers with low averages the opposition gets out quicker. Hadlee also had to bowl against the West Indies batsmen, the strongest for most over the era while Marshall and co didn’t. Not that I would pick Hadlee over Marshall, but I might have him in my all time team ahead of Trueman, Akram or Lillee.

Picking an all-time Test XI using Wisden's cricketers of the century as a guide

Nice framework for discussion. If you agree with those who rated Sydney Barnes so highly maybe there’s a case for picking him in the XI, leaving out O’Reilly (or Warne?) and keeping Sutcliffe as second opener. Ambrose would get the nod for me over Akram as the bowler of the 90s, but it’s a matter of opinion. I’d even be a bit radical and pick Richard Hadlee ahead of Richards as Test player of the 70s and 80s. All these guys rate ahead of Trueman, and Pollock gets the nod over Lara. Richards was picked by Wisden as a “cricketer of the century”, not a Test player of the century. His ODI record and his playing style and moments of brilliance earned him that title, but not necessarily his overall consistency at Test level.

Picking an all-time Test XI using Wisden's cricketers of the century as a guide