All 2 entries tagged Wickets

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March 12, 2009

Plenty of criticism over England’s delayed declaration

First of all, it has to be said that England’s bowlers put in an almost heroic performance in the final two sessions of the final test yesterday. However, it proved to be too late for them to force a victory that would have seen them draw the series.

West Indies managed to bat out the final session to secure a 1-0 series win, their first in a major test series for five years. This isn’t the main talking point in the aftermath of the match though.

Instead, many have questioned England’s delayed declaration. Andrew Strauss waited until lunch to call time on the England innings, with many believing they should have declared when Matt Prior was out for an aggressive 61.

Had England chosen to end their innings here, they would have set the West Indies are more achievable target of 209. Surely it was worth taking a risk with the series at stake though?

Several former England players agree with this notion, in particular Ian Botham who described the declaration as ‘pathetic’. The Sky Sports commentator then went on to say that the England players have obviously ‘not got long memories of Antigua’.

Botham then went on to claim that England ‘lost the plot’ by failing to declare when prior was dismissed. The former all-rounder then questioned whether Strauss actually wanted to win the game at all.

Other players turned pundits to criticise the declaration were Alec Stewart who believes that England ‘missed a trick’ by not putting the West Indies before lunch and Bob Willis who said that the only way England were going to win was if the ‘West Indies were going for runs’.

Overall, Strauss and co can expect a lot of negative press for their decisions made in this series. Sticking with Ian Bell for the first test was a mistake, selecting a ridiculously unfit Ryan Sidebottom for the fourth test was a mistake and delaying the declaration in this final test was a mistake.

There were others as well though and in reality, England have caused this series defeat themselves. The cricket odds expected them to defeat the West Indies before the tour began, so it has to be disappointing that they have lost.

The most worrying thing though is that they appear to have forgotten how to win a test match. They got within one or two wickets of victory of two occasions, but failed to close it out. How can a team that declared five times in a series not win a test match?!

Next up for England is a home series against the West Indies in May. There is no doubt that cricket betting will have the home side down as favourites for this one and they should win.

Whether this will be enough to build confidence ahead of a much anticipated Ashes series though, remains to be seen.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England Cricket


July 07, 2007

Do the numbers lie?

Muttiah Muralitharan today took 4/14 against Bangladesh at Colombo, his 100th haul off 4 wickets or more in a test match innings. By doing so, he took his career tally of wickets to 687 and is closely honing in on Shane Warne’s world record figure of 708 test wickets. If (or should I say ‘when’?) he does so, his supporters will have even more of an argument to claim that Murali is the best spin bowler of all time. Aside from his controversial action, of which it seems no two people will ever have the same opinion, just how good is Murali when compared to the great Australian legspinner?

Murali’s figures look good: 687 wickets at 21.49 compared to Warne’s 708 at 25.41. His strike rate is marginally better too: 54.12 plays 57.49. But as always statistics can be deceiving. I believe it is Geoff Boycott who says that statistics don’t tell the whole story, but they can generally be a good guide. To take the stats as a guide we know that both are very good spinners who are difficult even for the best test batsman in the world to face but there is a striking difference when viewed more closely.

The table below shows the two bowlers’ career records against the two ‘lesser’ test teams, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh followed by their career figures without those two teams:

Muttiah Muralitharan

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Bangladesh

7

1695

728

59

12.3

2.6

28.7

8

Bangladesh Today

1

32

14

4

3.5

2.6

8.0

0

Zimbabwe

14

4721

1467

87

16.9

1.9

54.3

0

Total

22

6448

2209

150

14.7

2.1

43.0

8

Shane Warne

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Bangladesh

2

524

300

11

27.3

3.4

47.6

1

Zimbabwe

1

319

137

6

22.8

2.6

53.2

0

Total

3

843

437

17

25.7

3.1

49.6

1

As we can see from the tables above, Murali has played a lot more games and collected a great number more wickets against the weaker teams than Shane Warne has; 150 wickets to the Sri Lankan compared to a mere 17 from 3 games from the blonde legspinner.

What this shows is that as far as sheer number of wickets is concerned, Murali has very much filled his boots against weaker opposition and without the cheaper wickets would in fact be very far from Mr. Warne’s world record tally. But what about the bigger picture, how do the two slow bowlers’ records compare against the stronger opposition?

Full Career 

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Shane Warne

145

40704

17995

708

25.4

2.7

57.5

37

Muttiah Muralitharan

112

36967

14751

687

21.5

2.4

53.8

58

Top 8 Teams

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Shane Warne

142

39861

17558

691

25.4

2.6

57.7

36

Muttiah Muralitharan

90

30519

12542

537

23.4

2.5

56.8

50

Evidently, Murali’s stats have taken a battering without the disproportionate number of fixtures played against weaker opposition but they do still hold true when compared against Warne’s, showing that Murali is in fact still a match for the great legspinner.

What is more interesting to note is that Warne’s figures have hardly been affected. This is of course due in part to the fact that he has only played an somewhat insignificant number of matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh compared to the rest of his career but even his overall average against these teams are not much departed from his overall career average. What this shows is that Murali’s statistics are, quite probably, to be taken even more with a pinch of salt.

It is without a doubt that both of these players are two of the best and most challenging spinners to face in the history of test cricket and it is clear that the fact that Warne’s wickets tally against the Top 8 opposition is considerably larger due in part because of a greater number of matches. This aside, when Murali does take his 709th Test wicket and march ahead of the retired Shane Warne it should be noted that on wickets tally alone, it will not quite be the achievement of the great Mr Warne.

Many view Murali’s efforts as not so much of a great achievement as Warne’s due to controversies over his action, and statistics like these do him little justice either. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that history will be as kind to Murali as it is to Warne (although I’m sure Australian reports will generally favour Warne much as Sri Lankan reports will profess Muralitharan as the greater). It is true that English and Australian fast bowlers from years gone by such as Fred Trueman had their records brought into question by the fact they played a lot against weak Indian batting line ups susceptible to fast seam bowling, something that is seldom mentioned today.

Another key point to note is that Warne has played in one of the best teams to ever set foot on a Test match field where as Muralitharan has been one of few reliable go-to strike bowlers in the Sri Lankan side for a large part of his career. This means that Murali has had more of an opportunity to take more wickets because there was less likely to be a player at the other end taking them with the same degree of regularity as a Glenn McGrath or any other of Australia’s top class seam bowlers.

Murali v Warne: who is the greater? I doubt we’ll ever agree and we’ll not have a fair view on the matter until after they’ve both retired but as it is at the moment, on the basis of sheer value of their wickets, I will have to pass my vote for Shane Warne.


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