Friday, November 19, 2010

Picking on Murali

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I don't know why I am picking on Murali today. Perhaps, the trigger was the 2 posts, one @ Straight Points "Is Team India a One Man Army Again" and another @ Confessions of a Forced Spectator "Shut Up and Bowl". The former talked about Zaheer Khan and the later was unduly critical of Harbhajan Singh.

In any case, it got me thinking. Who is the bowler that has contributed most to his side's wins. That's when Murali entered my frame of argument. So here's the deal. When Murali made his debut in 1992, Sri Lanka had all but 2 wins in their name. Since he has retired they haven't won a game yet. During his entire career, he helped Sri Lanka win 54 games. During his career there were only 5 games that Sri Lanka won, in which he did not play. Murali took 438 of his 800 wickets in Sri Lanka's wins. That's a staggering 41% of the wickets. Assuming of course that almost all wins needs 20. How does this rate against the best bowlers of all time?

Well here goes...This is a list of Top 10 bowlers sorted on % of wickets in wins. I only chose those bowlers who have claimed 150 or more wickets in test matches they helped their countries win.

Top 10 bowlers instrumental in Test Wins of all Time

Number 11 on this list is Harbhajan Singh. Ahead of some all time greats like, Ian Botham, Wasim Akram, McGrath, Holding. No I am not making this a "in defense of Harbhajan" piece...may be some other day

The meanest strike rates of all time in Test wins
But sorting this list on strike rate, there are no spinners and Dale Steyn emerges from no where as the bowler with a killer strike rate. A wicket every 5th over! 155 of those over 22 test wins.

In any case, back to Murali. I believe his best contribution to cricket is the comments he evoked from Bedi. I am not saying he was a cheat, but he shouldn't have been allowed to bowl the way he was allowed to. To me Sir Richard Hadlee according to these 2 tables is the better bowler only because he had a legitimate action.

Rules were bent to allow Murali to play. The Asian Block choose the wrong issue to show their might and the authority of the on field umpire was compromised beyond repair all to allow this man, Murali to bowl. His numbers are awesome but...


Mahek said...

I don't quite agree with the notion that the quality of a player can be determined simply by his performance in matches won. The percentage of wickets in wins isn't that revealing a statistic as the match result depends on more than just the contribution of a particular player. If you're part of a mediocre side some of your best performances may not result in wins. Also, a high percentage of wickets in matches won may also imply the bowler doesn't do too well in other games. If the percentage of matches not won is higher than the percentage of his wickets in those matches it just shows the bowler isn't consistent enough.

Golandaaz said...

Agreed. I should perhaps qualify my statement by saying Hadlee seems to be the best bowler if you compare bowlers performances in winning matches

On your last statement. I do think lack of consistency should count against the quality of bowlers.

Lastly a bowler (perhaps like Kapil) who may have more wickets in matches lost, would only imply that he was on a weaker team. Should not count against the player... agreed.

Perhaps I will now dig up who is the bowler with the most "futile" wickets

Ganesh said...

@Mahek,Richard Hadlee's numbers even in matches lost and drawn are good,his bowling averages in Lost(26) and drawn matches(30) too are better than career averages of most 'good' or 'great' bowlers.
New Zealand team too was mediocre over-all,it was his presence that made them a powerful out-fit during 1980s.
He is without doubt the greatest bowler ever.

Golandaaz said...

Thanks Ganesh. As I suspected Kapil Dev is #2 in the all time list of bowlers who have taken the maxium wickets in "non-wins". He and Gavaskar have to be players whose runs and wickets were literally an exercise in futility. Of course I say this is jest. They paid the price of playing on weak teams much like Lara and Tendulkar until very recently

Vidooshak said...

Let's also give credit to Martin Crowe and some others who helped Hadlee bowl them to wins with some fantastic batting performances in that era. As time goes by, the contributions made by the Martin Crowe's and Vengsarkars of the world will be buried under statistics.

Golandaaz said...

Vidoo, of course but this is about who delivers the final push for the win. Not to suggest that its not built on runs scored by Crowe and DBV or for that matter even Sanjay Bangar

Mahek said...

Ganesh, I wasn't trying to undermine Hadlee's standing as an all-time bowling great. He's one of my favourite fast bowlers of all time. My point was more general and not specific to a particular player.