Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Can the Dolphins take on the Lahore Lions at this year's CLT20?

This year's Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament will see Group A's Dolphins take on the Lahore Lions on September 27th.

The match will see the South African side take on Pakistan's Lahore at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

It was a controversial topic as to whether or not the Lahore Lions would be taking part in this year's competition. The team's visa application to play in India was a controversial issue  in the lead up to the tournament and it looked as though they could potentially not play.

However, despite a fragile political relationship between India and Pakistan, it was confirmed at the beginning of September that the team had had their visa applications approved and would be going to Bangalore to participate.

The concerns were heightened after it became apparent how few Pakistani players were playing in the Indian Premier League. The Lahore Lions captain, Mohammed Hafeez, was confident however and assured fans that the lack of league level play would not affect the Lions' outcome in their upcoming Champions League Twenty20 matches.

Prior to his arrival in Bangalore, Hafeez said: “We are departing with confidence. We all know how important the first stage is so we are focusing on qualifying for the next round. We, as a team, have been playing some exciting cricket in the last two years and the squad has gutsy players from our domestic circuit so we have an ability to fight at the top level.”

There is certainly some fighting talk from the Lahore Lions, who will also have to face this year's Indian Premier League winners, Kolkata Knight Riders, as well as third place contenders Chennai Super Kings before they take on the South African outfit.

The Dolphins are also pretty confident however, with their coach, all-rounder Lance Klusener, expressing his desire to take home the title this year. He said: “We are really looking forward to the challenge up ahead. Our intention is to come here and win this trophy and win this tournament. I think it's important that we approach it in that way and play in a certain way that we feel we can achieve that goal.”

The coach added that the tournament would be a great opportunity for the team's young players to stretch their legs.

With players like Adam Gilchrist not truly coming into their own until their 40s, the Dolphins could be proven wrong, but with the Lions' lack of league experience, their upcoming match really could be anybody's victory.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Is it in fact better that England are once again bad at cricket?

Alastair Cook has taken his fair share of the blame surrounding England’s downfall, but should he in fact be lauded with praise?

Well, just as it looked like English cricket had weathered an incessant and seemingly insurmountable storm, the crushing nine wicket defeat by India to send their nation 3-0 in the five game One Day International series proved otherwise –in staggering fashion.

‘Beefy’ Botham believes it is time for action within the ranks, as a revival is now unquestionably needed in the build-up to the Cricket World Cup – which starts in five months’ time, but this tongue-in-cheek list may sway some opinions otherwise. It’s good to be bad, and here’s why.

The kit sponsors
England cricketers – such as Alastair Cook (pictured above) now proudly walk about their business with the sponsor of ‘Brit Insurance’ across their chests. The truth is, you would need plenty of insurance for this type of car-crash couple of years for English cricket. In fact, if we were to apply this to household items, then you would find that this is in fact past that scenario and is now reminiscent of a house on fire. In past years, England have worn several beer sponsors on their jerseys, and in light of recent performances, it would make a lot more sense.

Everyone loves an underdog
When you are an underdog, victory tastes that much sweeter, while defeat is almost expected and nobody really bats an eyelid. If we were in the latter predicament now, the state of the English cricket team wouldn’t be half as bad, it may even seem positive to some fans! Not only this, but the England would also present more value in the betting department. Several leading sportsbooks – and you can click here for more information on them – offer odds on England’s cricket matches and performances, but there’s a lot more reason to have a quick punt if the odds aren’t short and the team isn’t expected to perform at such a high level! Which brings us onto our next point….

Nothing left to celebrate
Years of hold have brought about emphatic levels of success for the English cricket side, in both Test and One Day International formats and while that seems a good thing, in a long term projection it is quite nerve-racking. Should a crisis happen – like the ongoing one inside the England cricket halls – then it is drawn out, painful and all the more excruciating to watch as you see pundits galore remind you of sweeter times gone by. If we hadn’t won anything at all, the emphasis would likely be on ‘can we go and win the Cricket World Cup?’ rather than ‘these lads won’t win the Cricket World Cup and here’s why, it’s a case of when they will get knocked out really’, which is hardly inspiring is it?

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hail King Sanga !

About 10 days ago I wrote a post about leading cricketers of this century, which showed that Kumar Sangakkara was the top batsman in both tests and ODIs in the past 15 years of the game.

No one has scored more runs than Sangakkara has in either format since the beginning of this millennium. Not Sachin, Not Lara, Not Ponting. No one.

With his 10th double century in test cricket this past week, Sangakkara showed why he is the best batsman in the game today.

No one in the history of test cricket has scored this many double centuries besides the all time great Sir Donald Bradman.

Sangakkara sits firmly at number two in that list, and he may well go on to become the first cricketer to break Sir Don's record.

At the conclusion of the first test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the ICC updated the test rankings for batsmen and Sangakkara rightfully found himself at the top of the pile. The number 1 ranked test batsman in the world, and surely the bets test batsman to play the game this century.

He may not end his career among the top 3 or 4 run scorers in test cricket, but he will definitely retire with the best test average, by some distance, among the top 10 run scorers in test cricket. And the best test average for anyone with more than 7,000 runs in test cricket. And the third best average for anyone who has scored more than 3,000 runs in test cricket.

Sangakkara will surely go past Brian Lara in the next test against Pakistan, but whether he will be able to go past the next three in the list will depend on how long he continues to play test cricket.

With Jayawardene gone after this series, it will not be much longer before Sangakkara also retires from test cricket. And there is enough hint around the Sri Lankan camp that both the stalwarts will end their careers after next year's ODI World Cup.

If Sangakkara does decide to play another season or two, there is a high chance that he will retire as the second highest run scorer in test cricket, behind Sachin Tendulkar.

The best batsman this century, and arguably the best batsman ever. Hail King Sanga!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Younis Khan's Greatness...

Younis Khan is a legend. We have known about his legendary status for some time now and have always rated him very highly. You might want to read the following articles along with this piece.

Why Younis Khan is King
The Real King Khan
A Legendary Match Winner

Even though he has had some detractors in the past, there are few people now who will not agree with Younis Khan's greatness in International Cricket.

Today, in his 90th Test, Younis Khan knocked his 24th test century, which put him level with Mohammad Yousuf, and only 1 behind Inzamam's Pakistan record. During the course of his innings, Younis Khan also went past Yousuf's test runs tally to become the 3rd highest run scorer for Pakistan in tests.

It is quite interesting to note the similarity between the stats of Younis and Yousuf. It is really a shame that Yousuf did not play more matches for Pakistan. Politics, as well as, his own selfishness resulted in cutting short his career. Fortunately, Younis has withstood all that, and can do so for another few years before he hangs up his boots.

It is also a shame that Pakistan does not play as much test cricket as other countries like Australia, England, and India. One can only wonder where Younis Khan would be if he had played as much test cricket as the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, and Brian Lara.

Taking a look at how Younis compares with test batting, you will be surprised to see some of the numbers.

Younis Khan is the leading run scorer among all test batsmen who have played 90 tests or less.

Younis has not only scored more runs than his contemporaries, but he has also average better than the likes of Hashim Amla, Mike Hussey, and Rohan Kanhai.

Younis Khan has performed better than most of the top 10 run scorers in Test cricket

At the same stage as Younis Khan, i.e. after 90 tests, out of the leading 10 test run scorers, only Sangakkara, Dravid, Sachin, and Lara had scored more runs than Younis Khan. Moreover, only Sachin Tendulkar had knocked more centuries than Younis Khan after 90 tests.

After 90 tests, Younis Khan has more runs than Ponting, Kallis, Border, and Waugh had; and more centuries than Sangakkara, Dravid, Lara, Ponting, and Kallis had.

Younis Khan has also performed better than the likes of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, and Michael Clarke, the current generation of batsmen who are expected (or were in the case of KP) to go on and become one of the leading run scorers in test cricket.

Younis Khan has scored more runs than Cook, KP, and Clarke had after 90 tests. Younis has also scored the same number of centuries as Cook, and more centuries than KP and Clarke after 90 tests.

Younis Khan is 36 on paper, and close to 40 in reality, meaning that he does not have a lot more test cricket left in him. It is such a damn shame that in a 14 year career, he has played only 90 tests, while the likes of Cook, KP, and Clarke, who debuted way after him have gone well past a 100 tests.

Can you even imagine the amount of runs and centuries that Younis Khan would have scored had he played as much test cricket as any of these other batsmen?

I don't think he can get to 10,000 test runs given the little test cricket Pakistan play, but I sure do hope that he plays a 100 tests and goes on to become Pakistan's leading run scorer in test cricket, because if there is anyone who deserves that recognition, it is Younis Khan.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Not Much to Choose between Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Pakistan have embarked on yet another tour to Sri Lanka with the first test starting tomorrow at Galle. The two countries are familiar foes having played each other regularly in the recent past, yet this two test series has a lot at stake for both the teams.

Not much to choose between the two sides

The last test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was played in the UAE and ended in a draw after Pakistan completed a record chase on the final evening of the series. In the past 3 years, the teams have played 3 test series with Pakistan winning one, Sri Lanka winning one, and a drawn series.

If that isn't close enough, the last 14 test series between the two teams comprises of 4 drawn series, 5 won by Pakistan, and 5 won by Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, these 14 test series played between them over the past 22 years has not witnessed either team win two consecutive series.

That shows that there is not much to choose there. Both teams, however, are going to be highly motivated for the upcoming tests given the significance attached to the series.

Significance for Pakistan

For Pakistan, this is going to be their first test series since becoming the number 3 test side in the world, and they would want to keep their ranking intact, and look to improve it going forward.

Furthermore, Pakistan have not won a test in Sri Lanka for 8 years. The last time they won a test in the island was in 2006, when Mohammad Asif's magical bowing blew away the Lankans. Since then Pakistan has played 6 tests in Sri Lanka, losing 3 and drawing 3.

Pakistan are looking to turn their fortunes around this time and want to end their drought in Sri Lanka.

Significance for Sri Lanka

For Sri Lanka, this series holds a lot of significance considering that it is Mahela Jayawardene's swansong. He has already announced his retirement from test cricket and these two tests against Pakistan will be his last two. He would want to leave a major mark on his last test series, while Sri Lanka will want to win the series for him,

Moreover, Sri Lanka are coming from a rare series loss at home at the hands of South Africa and they will want to ensure that they don't lose another series at home.

With so much at stake, both teams will be looking to gain a lead, which can be a series winning one, in what is only a two test series.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

The best of this Century...

Sachin Tendulkar has scored more runs than anyone in tests and in ODIs. Muralitharan has taken more wickets than anyone in tests and ODIs. Sir Donald Bradman has the highest ever average in test cricket.

Those records will go down in history as the top records in international cricket. It is also highly likely that those records will never be broken.

It is worthwhile, however, to see how all these records stack up in this century.

Do you know who is the highest run scorer in tests in this century? Who is the highest run scored in ODIs in this century? Who is the highest wicket taker?

Lets take a look.

These records are for all tests and ODIs played since 1st January 2000.

Leading Test Batsmen in this Century

Kumar Sangakkara sits firmly on top of this list. With everyone else among the top 10 leading run scorers in this century retired from test cricket, or nearing retirement, it will take some time before someone surpasses Sangakkara's run tally.

His compatriot, Mahela Jayawardene will play only two more tests, while Sehwag's test career seems well behind him. Chanderpaul is unlikely to overtake Sangakkara over the next year or two that he has left in him.

Even in terms of averages, Sangakkara is right up there with only Kallis slightly above him.

Sachin Tendulkar, the all time leading run scorer in test cricket, has the lowest average among the 10 leading test averages of this century.

What is interesting to note is that Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam Ul Haq, who were the two mainstays of Pakistan's middle order during the first decade of this century, have test averages that are among the top 5 of this century.

Leading ODI Batsmen in this Century

Just like Sachin Tendulkar leads the all time runs tally for tests and ODIs, Kumar Sangakkara is the leading run scorer in both tests and ODIs in this century.

In ODIs, King Sanga is well ahead of his peers with a 2,000 runs difference between him and the next best, which belongs to his team mate, Mahela Jayawardene.

Sangakkara is undoubtedly the best batsman to play the game in this century. He is well ahead of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, and Brian Lara.

In terms of averages, however, the Indian Captain and Vice Captain, have shown that they are in a league of their own in ODIs, with both averaging well above 50.

AB de Villiers is also right up there with them with an ODI average just very slightly below 50.

These three are undoubtedly the best ODI players in the game today, if not ever.

It is no surprise that all time greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis appear everywhere among the leading run scorers and among the leading averages in tests and ODIs, but it is interesting to note how their performances compare to their peers in this century.

Leading Test Bowlers in this Century

Muttiah Muralitharan, who is the all time leading wicket taker in test cricket, is also the leading wicket taker in this century, with a vast majority if his 800 test wickets coming in this century. He is well ahead of his peers 181 more test wickets than the next best tally.

His record in this century could well remain the record even by the end of the century, considering that only two bowlers have taken more wickets in their entire careers than Murali's 573 wickets in this century.

Even in terms of bowling averages, Muralitharan's record is impeccable, with only Glen McGrath slightly ahead of him.

It is interesting to note that Shoaib Akhtar is the only bowler with a strike rate of less than 40 in this century. Dale Steyn has a similar strike rate, but no one else comes even close to these two fast bowlers.

Leading ODI Bowlers in this Century

Brett Lee has just about done enough to displace Muralitharan from the top of the leading ODI wicket takers list in this century. What is interesting is that both Lee and Murali played the same number of ODI in this century, however Lee's impressive performance resulted in 23 more wickets than Murali.

Lee's strike rate is also quite impressive, and unmatched among his peers in this century.

In terms of ODI bowling averages, however, it is once again Glen McGrath who leads the table in this century. This just goes to show what an extraordinary bowler McGrath was in both tests and ODIs.

Shane Bond and Morne Morkel have similar ODI strike rates to Lee's in this century, with Bond's slightly better as well. But it is the mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis who has an even better strike rate than the three fast bowlers.

I find it extremely pleasing that it has been 9 years since Wasim Akram hung up his boots, yet no bowler has emerged in this century to displace him from the top 10 bowlers, in terms of best ODI averages, in this century!

With so many Sri Lankans among the leading batsmen and bowlers in this century, I am quite surprised that they have not won more games than they have this century. They have no doubt been one of the best teams having played in 5 ICC finals in this century, but with stalwarts like Sangakkara, Jayawardene, and Murali they should have done more than just that.

It will be interesting to see how these tables change as this century marches forward.

Kevin Pietersen has come and gone, but the likes of Alistair Cook, Michael Clarke, Hashim Amla, and AB De Villiers are still there and are threatening not only the records made in this century, but the records made in the history of cricket.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Where does Younis Khan fit in Pakistan's ODI plans?

The PCB announced Pakistan's ODI squad for the tour of Sri Lanka over a month and a half before the 1st ODI, which is quite early by PCB's standards. As always the selectors sprung a surprise on everyone by including Younis Khan in the ODI squad, 16 months after Younis played his last ODI game.

The opinion on Younis Khan in Pakistan is quite divided. While some believe that he has past his sell by date in ODIs, others believe that he still has a lot to offer in ODIs, particularly with the World Cup round the corner, and that batsmen chosen to play instead of him have not really impressed during the period Younis has been away from the team.

Considering that he has been selected now, the assumption is that he is on the selector's radar for the upcoming World Cup in Australia. The 15 man squad chosen for the Sri Lanka tour is likely to be Pakistan's squad for the World Cup next year, with the only change being the inclusion of Mohammad Irfan in place of one of the seamers.

Lets try and analyze whether Younis Khan's selection make sense or not. 

1. 11th Best Batsman in Pakistan

If Pakistan selected its playing XI based on batting averages of its players since 1st January 2010, then Younis Khan will just make it to the team as the last name on the team sheet.

2. Better than Reserves?

The statement that batsmen that have replaced Younis Khan in Pakistan's ODI team have not done enough to cement their place in the team is somewhat true.

Batsmen like Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin have failed miserably in ODIs during this period and selecting Younis Khan over these batsmen in Pakistan's ODI squad is justified.

However, there are batsmen like Azhar Ali, Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, and an allrounder like Abdul Razzaq who have all performed better than Younis Khan, yet they find themselves out of favour with the selectors.

It is really a matter of opinion whether Younis Khan is the best reserve ODI batsmen in Pakistan or not, but selecting Younis in the squad and then not playing him in the XI doesn't really make sense.

Is Pakistan really looking to take Younis on tour as a reserve player?

I doubt it.

3. Pakistan's Top 6

Pakistan's recent ODI matches have painted a decent picture regarding their top 6: Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Misbah Ul Haq, Fawad Alam, Umar Akmal.

You really cannot drop any of those batsmen and fit Younis Khan into the playing XI.

It will be grossly unfair to drop Sohaib or Fawad and play Younis.

I say place your bets on Younis not being part of Pakistan's top 6 at the 2015 World Cup. And if you are a casino fan then visit http://vegascasinofrancais.fr/ and play some casino games in French,

4. Pakistani Batsmen in Australia & New Zealand

Another popular opinion in Pakistan is that with the World Cup being played in Australia and New Zealand next year, Pakistan will benefit from the experience of Younis Khan in their batting line up.

Sure Younis Khan is an experienced batsman, but he has been a mediocre ODI batsman at the very best. A career average of 31 and only 6 ODI centuries in over 250 ODIs does not provide much confidence for a number 3 batsman, the position Younis has played in for majority of his ODI career.

Moreover, his record in Australia and New Zealand over the past 10 years is nothing to write home about either.

Lower order batsmen like Iftikhar Anjum, Sohail Tanvir, Azhar Mahmood, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Naveed ul Hasan average better than Younis does in Australia and New Zealand.

Forget that. Shoaib Malik averages better than Younis does in those countries!

So how does taking Younis to the World Cup really benefit Pakistan?

Forever I have talked and written about Younis Khan as one of the best test batsmen to be produced by Pakistan. I rate him as one of the best test batsmen in the world. If he were born in India, England, or Australia, he would be among the top 5 run scorers in Test Cricket today. It is a real shame that Pakistan does not play as much test cricket as those countries, as they will never get to witness the world-class star that Younis Khan is.

But as an ODI batsman, Younis Khan has always been poor, give or take a couple of match winning innings.

As I built up this case, I completely convinced myself that Younis Khan is not the best choice to include in Pakistan's ODI set up. At the same time, I also realized that Abdul Razzaq makes a strong case for inclusion, particularly for the World Cup.

Other potential replacements for Younis Khan in the 15 man squad are Nasir Jamshed and Azhar Ali. Azhar's strike rate may leave much to be desired, but if Pakistan is looking for someone to hold one end up in Australia, they may not find a better person to do it than him.

Younis Khan should definitely not feature in Pakistan's ODI plans. The selectors were right in discarding him 16 months ago. Selecting him now is looking backwards, while what the PCB should be doing is looking forward to February and March 2015.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Marked for life by Javed Miandad

28 years ago, a stroke from Javed Miandad's bat sailed over the mid wicket boundary and changed Pakistan cricket forever and scarred an entire generation of Indians.

Shahid Afridi repeated the same heroics last week when he clubbed two sixes in the final over to give Pakistan a 1 wicket win over India in the Asia Cup clash.

The similarities between the two matches are so many, and even quite unbelievable. From India's score to the number of 50s their batsmen scored, the number of run outs in Pakistan's innings, the number of sixes the Indian opener hit, the number of wickets taken by the bowler who got hit for the sixes, and the margin of victory are all the same. And these are still a few of them.

For 28 years, Pakistanis have probably thought about when they will be able to live through such a moment again. Or whether something like that resounding last ball six will happen again.

Forget the moment, we all got to relive the entire match again!

Despite all these similarities between the two Pakistan vs India clashes, one stark difference stands out.

The Pakistani man, only a 6 year old boy in 1986, who was marked for life by Javed Miandad's six.

Meet Kamran Haider.

Kamran was in the stands playing on the high stairs, doing what a 6 year old does at cricket stadiums on that fateful day in April 1986.

As Chetan Sharma's full toss was clubbed over midwicket and the entire Sharjah stadium erupted in joy, Kamran was surrounded in blood. The historic shot off Miandad's bat struck this 6 year old boy in the stands and just like Chetan Sharma, he did not know what hit him.

As Pakistanis in the stadium and the world over celebrated the biggest moment (at the time) in Pakistan's cricket history, Kamran's parents were rushing to find a medic.

Kamran was treated by the Pakistan team physio in the Pakistan dressing room, while the rest of the team celebrated the historic win. He even enjoyed a moment in Imran Khan's lap.

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Here's the story from Kamran.

1. How does it feel to be the only Pakistani to be "scarred" by Javed Miandad's six?

I feel being stamped in the head with an authentic Pakistani approved stamp. I love my scar! 

2. Did you feel history repeated itself when Shahid Afridi smashed Ashwin for two sixes to win the match for Pakistan?

Yes, after Miandad every Pakistani has this hope of waiting for the very last ball to wait and see if we can win. While others start leaving the stadiums, we sit back and hope someone pulls a Miandad on the last ball...

3. Did you attend more matches in Sharjah stadium after that?

Yes, many. Sharjah has always been lucky for Pakistan. I have experienced some amazing moments and frankly I miss it!

4. Did you ever meet Javed Miandad after that day?

I saw him a few times at airports, in restaurants but never had the opportunity to go up to him and tell him that I am a big fan or what had happened to me. But, I always felt I have the best autograph. I carry it everywhere and it never fades!

5. Do you remember anything that was said to you while you were in the dressing room?

All I remember is people standing up for the last ball, screams everywhere and a sudden thug, a little whistle and then a fade out.

I woke up in my father's arm with blood everywhere. I remember people screaming in Urdu "move, move, here, here" and then I remember being in a room where people were extremely excited. Dad says I was taken in to the Pakistani dressing room and the stitches were done by the Pakistani team physio. Not just that, at one point Imran Khan came to ask what was going on. I think he meant, while all Pakistanis are jumping, laughing and enjoying, why is this little Pakistani boy crying?

6. How does it feel today to think that you were with the Pakistan team in the dressing room after that historic win?

People who know me, know that I am very patriotic towards Pakistan and it isn't limited to cricket. Its about everything!

You assign anything positive to Pakistan and I will love it and make sure of spreading the word. I believe anything than can bring a positive change in the state of Pakistan and my people is worth cherishing it. This scar I hold is very dear to me, it is a trophy and I will take it to my grave as a proud Pakistani!

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Wasim Akram vs Waqar Younis - A Statistical Analysis

A Guest Post by Imran Aslam

Ask any Pakistani cricket fan who our best 3 fast bowlers have been and the answer will almost certainly be unanimous – Wasim, Waqar and Imran. Probe a bit deeper and opinions will start to get divided – while a vast majority will pick Wasim as their favorite and as Pakistan’s best ever, there will be a group more inclined towards Waqar, whereas an earlier generation might lean towards the great Khan.

I am going to exclude Imran Khan from this article but before doing that I just want to say that Imran Khan is by far the most talented and best cricketer to have been produced not just by Pakistan but by the Asian continent!

Now let’s take a deeper look at Wasim vs. Waqar – from here-on my analysis and opinion is solely restricted to test cricket. First the simple statistics:

The simple numbers make for an interesting comparison. Their averages are very similar but Waqar has a much better strike rate than Wasim, needing almost 2 overs less to pick up a wicket. Their 5 wickets/innings stats are also pretty similar, with Waqar having a slightly better rate than Wasim and there is hardly anything to separate the two in terms of wickets per innings. So while Waqar needed 2 overs less than Wasim to pick up a wicket their wickets/innings numbers are very similar implying Wasim could bowl longer spells and pick up similar number of wickets as Waqar.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper and start bisecting their statistics.

First of all I will look at their stats in matches that both of them played in together:

Again they both have very similar numbers, picking up almost the same number of wickets at similar averages but with Waqar having a superior strike rate to Wasim.

An interesting observation here is that Wasim’s stats in matches where Waqar was involved are a significant improvement in comparison to his overall numbers; whereas the difference in Waqar’s performance is marginal. This could be due to Wasim’s skills improving in the later part of his career (post-1989 when Waqar was around) and it could also be due to having Waqar bowling at the other end and putting more pressure on the batsmen.

Test match cricket is all about picking up 20 wickets and it is bowlers who win matches for their teams in this format of the game. Therefore it only makes sense to see the impact of their performances in matches that Pakistan won: 

Now this is where it starts getting interesting and there appear some differences between the performances of the two.

Pakistan won 45% of the test matches Waqar played in whereas we won 38% of the games Wasim played in. When we look at their contributions in wins, Waqar has significantly better stats and performances than Wasim does:
  • 4 out of 5 10-wicket hauls for Waqar came in wins; whereas the corresponding figure for Wasim is 2 out of 5.
  • 14 out of 22 5-wicket hauls for Waqar were achieved in games Pakistan went on to win; whereas Wasim has 13 5-wicket hauls in wins from a total of 25.
  • Overall 60% of Waqar’s wickets were taken in matches Pakistan won; whereas 51% of Wasim’s wickets were in wins.
Again their averages are very similar but Waqar’s strike rate is once again phenomenal picking up a wicket every 35 balls compared to 42 for Wasim.

From the numbers above I think it is a logical conclusion that Waqar had a more significant contribution to wins for Pakistan over his career than Wasim did.

Taking the filter another level deeper, I’m now going to look at performance in matches Pakistan won in which both Wasim and Waqar played.

Once again, eerily similar stats with the only differentiator being the strike rate, as Waqar needed about an over less to strike than Wasim did.

The interesting thing here is again the improvement in Wasim’s stats, especially his wickets per innings in wins where Waqar was involved compared to all wins. This clearly shows that there was a significant positive impact on Wasim’s performance in matches involving Waqar (there could be other factors such as form, stage of Wasim’s career, etc. at play here) over matches not involving Waqar.

As yet another way of looking at their performances I’m going to filter their records by opposition. Few would argue that Australia, England, South Africa and West Indies were all very strong teams during the time Wasim and Waqar played their cricket. So I’m going to look at performance against these 4 opponents only (I have purposefully excluded India here since Waqar only played 4 matches against them, 2 in his debut series in 89 and another 2 in 99).

Though there is not much to set them apart yet again, it is interesting to note that Waqar’s stats take a bigger hit when looking at his performance against the 4 best sides of the time whereas Wasim’s numbers are relatively closer to his overall performance. However, again Waqar maintains a much better strike rate, which to me is one of the most important indicators for a good test match bowler.

Wasim has performed admirably well against the West Indies (average 21 / SR 45) but has strike rates of 60 or above against the other 3 opponents. Waqar struggled badly against Australia (average 34 / SR 63), performed well against the West Indies (average 23 / SR 39), whereas his stats against England and South Africa are better than Wasim (average 28 / SR 50).

One of the definitive measures of individual performances are the ICC player rankings, and looking at these it is again Waqar who supersedes Wasim. Waqar achieved a career best rating of 909 and achieved the number 1 ranking while Wasim’s best rating was 830 and his best ranking was number 2.

Waqar is actually part of a very select group of 21 bowlers in the history of the game who have crossed the 900 mark whereas there are only 9 bowlers who have achieved more than the 909 points that Waqar managed (Barnes, Lohman, Imran Khan, Murali, McGrath, Lock, Ambrose, Botham and Marshal).

Let me end by saying that in my view, both Wasim and Waqar were terrific bowlers and there is not much between them in their stats. However, in my book, Waqar’s better strike-rate and his significantly superior contribution in wins puts him marginally above Wasim as Pakistan’s premier test match fast bowler.

I long for the day when Pakistan has an opening pair even half as good as the 2 Ws!

No bowling pair would have poked batsmen the way Wasim and Waqar did. If you are a fan of online pokies, visit http://pokiesheaven.com.au/ the ultimate destination to play online pokies in Australia.


Besides being pace spearheads and arguably the best fast bowling pair ever to hunt together, Wasim and Waqar were great rivals too. It is no secret that Waqar Younis led a revolt against Wasim Akram to remove the latter from the captaincy in 1993-94, and since then their relationship was never the same.

It is quite astonishing that both Wasim and Waqar formed the most lethal pace partnership during a time when they hated each other. Wasim has openly talked about his rivalry with Waqar in many interviews and his autobiography, and he also explained how Pakistan benefited from this rivalry.

Wasim has stated that both him and Waqar were always looking to go one up on the other. If one would take a wicket, the other would try extra hard to get one too. And both wanted to get more wickets than the other to show who is better.

This professional rivalry did wonders for Pakistan as both Wasim and Waqar took wickets in heaps and won many a game for Pakistan.

Imran Aslam has already shown that Waqar's presence in the team had a significant positive impact on Wasim Akram's performance. This can be further elaborated by comparing Wasim's stats in tests played before Waqar's debut and after:

There is a drastic improvement. Surely Wasim became a far better bowler in the 90s than in the earlier part of his career, but Waqar's presence had a lot to do with it. The professional rivalry had a lot to do with it. The jealousy of now being shared as Imran Khan's go to bowler had a lot to do with it. The ambition to be the best bowler in Pakistan, the best bowler in the world, had a lot to do with it. Undoubtedly, Waqar Younis brought out the best in Wasim Akram.

Wasim & Waqar will forever remain the best pace bowling duo ever in the history of Pakistan cricket, arguably the world as well.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The 8 Best English Bowlers of the Last 30 Years

Jimmy Anderson’s amazing bowling at Lord’s saw him smash through previous records by taking four wickets. With this outstanding performance in mind, let’s take a minute to look back at eight of the best bowlers in English cricket over recent years:

Darren Gough

He may never have won the Ashes, but Gough was one of the best bowlers around. As a fast bowler he developed his own unique technique that was often described as ‘skiddy’, but it allowed him to have a late spin on the ball which gave him a huge bowling advantage. In the Ashes alone, Gough claimed 74 wickets and took a total of 229 wickets in his test match career.

Steve Harmison

During the 2003-2004 West Indies tour, Harmy was the highest wicket-taker and continued this success to the 2005 Ashes where his fast bowling helped to secure the victory for England. Part of Harmy’s success was his ability to deliver a bounce from any pitch, largely thanks to his 6’4” stature, while throwing them out at speeds over 90mph.

Andrew Caddick

Despite being born in New Zealand, Caddy, was one of the best English bowlers that has ever been. He was renowned for taking 13 five-wicket hauls in test matches and taking over 230 wickets in his test match career. One of the things that set Caddy apart from the rest was his dedication to Somerset County Cricket Club, where he stayed for his entire career.

Robert Croft

Welsh and proud, Crofty hedged his bets and played for England in international matches and he made a massive impact in doing so. He regularly received the title of player of the year and was even awarded the Weatherall Award for being the leading all-rounder in English first-class games. However, it was his bowling that made him stand out from the rest when he took his 1,000 first-class wickets in 2007.

Ian Botham

Often claiming his centuries, Botham was instrumental in England’s Ashes wins, but it was his outstanding bowling that claimed five for one in 28 balls at Edgbaston that landed him a place in this list. Beefy took 148 Ashes wickets in total thanks to his fast and loose bowling that saw many a batman swing a tad late and go out on an LBW or wickets.

Devon Malcolm

During the 90s, Malcom was probably the only true fast bowler that England had in their arsenal. Despite being one of the fastest bowlers to have ever graced the pitch, Malcom’s short falls in poor catching and short-sighted plays meant that he was often chosen as number eleven. He may not have taken the most wickets or been the best batsman, but Malcom could bowl like no one’s business!

[Image: Cricket Country]

Graeme Swann

Famed for his right-arm off break bowling style, Swanny was one of the best spinners to ever grace the field. In 2009, Swann made history by becoming the first English spinner to take 50 wickets in a single calendar year. A year later, he cemented himself in the list of best English bowlers firmly when he managed to take 10 wickets in a single match.

Stuart Broad

Still regularly playing test match cricket, The Enforcer has already got 238 wickets under his belt and plenty of life left in his arms to see this number grow. Broad has achieved an amazing number 3 in the ICC player rankings and has won Man of the Series awards in 2009 and 2011. In addition to this, he’s already claimed 11 five wicket hauls, two 10 wickets and even two test match hat-tricks.

What do you think? Are these all bowlers that you’d include in your fantasy cricket team or are some astounding players missing from this list? Let us know!

About the Author – Bowcom is an established line marking company with years of experience working within a multitude of professional sports. From international venues all the way to school playing fields, Bowcom have helped to create perfectly marked pitches for all your needs.

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