Monday, March 17, 2008

King Pairs!

No its not about batsmen who have been out of the first ball they have faced in both innings of a test match.

Nazhar recently did a post on Alan Davidson describing Wasim Akram as the best swing bowler - in the comments section Straight Point mentioned that Wasim & Waqar have more than a 1,000 wickets collectively. Thats when the idea for this post crossed my mind.

Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis have a combined number of 787 wickets in test matches. That number is even higher at 918 in ODIs, giving them a collective amount of 1,705 wickets.
Instead of taking a look at the collective number of wickets of bowling pairs, I decided to take into account the combined wickets taken by bowlers in matches that they both played in.
I restricted this to test matches only.
I also excluded spinners for the initial analysis since I wanted to compare fast bowling pairs to the 2 Ws.
Plus, as always in my statistical posts, I restricted this to the last 20 years for thats as far back as my first hand knowledge of cricket goes.
This is what I found:

Walsh & Ambrose sure played a lot together. Had Wasim and Waqar played as many games, they would have picked up over a 100 more wickets than the 2 West Indians. The 2 Ws averaged more collective wickets per match than the Windies stars and also had a slightly better collective average.

There was no point looking at England or New Zealand. For the kiwis, the highest wicket taker, Richard Hadlee was before the era I am looking at and their next best fast bowler is Chris Cairns with 230 odd wickets. While for England, their leading pace bowlers of this era - Hoggard and Caddick have less than 500 collective wickets. I didn' bother checking their wickets in matches played together.

For India, 6 out of the top 10 wicket takers are spinners. The 4 pacers are from different eras. However, it will be interesting to see where the pairs out of Zaheer, Ishant, RP, Pathan, and Sreesanth are 10 years down the line.

Sri Lanka is absolutely intriguing. Apart from Murali and Vaas, there is no other bowler who has reached even a 100 test wickets. Jayasuriya has 98 and is 3rd on the list behind a 700+ and a 300+ wicket taker.

If we look at Murali & Vaas as a pair then they go beyond Walsh & Ambrose. In 87 matches that they have played together they have taken a total of 825 wickets at an average of 23.75 with 52 5WI and 18 10WM! That also gives them 9.5 wickets per match.

But there is a pair that betters them as well.

Glenn McGrath & Shane Warne. In 104 matches that these 2 played together, they picked up 1,001 wickets at 23.17 apiece. Thats a remarkable 9.6 wickets per match. Plus they took 51 5WI and 9 10WM.

They are definitely the King Pair for me. No one even comes close to their tally of over a 1,000 wickets.

However, if we're looking at fast bowlers only, I will go for Wasim & Waqar rather than Ambrose & Walsh. Had Waqar not missed a few years due to injury and strained relations with Wasim or had Wasim played more tests near the end of his career, the 2 Ws could have eached even greater heights. Yet, they remain the best exponents of swing ever.

Who is your king pair? Have I missed anyone out? Where do you think Murali and Vaas will finish? How about Ishant & RP Singh, how many will they get? Will anyone go beyond the 1000?

Make your pitch on this post...

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18 Pitched:

  1. David Barry said...

    They don't quite make your cut-off of the last twenty years, but my favourite bowling pair is O'Reilly and Grimmett: 15 Tests, 169 wickets at 21.15. That's 11.3 wickets per Test. They would have played more together but for some reason the Australian selectors dropped Grimmett, despite him still taking huge numbers of wickets.

  2. obaid said...

    Stupid selectors again. Cricket teams should be picked by popular vote, occurring on a regular basis

  3. Q said...

    11.3 - thats quite amazing. Is that the highest David? or does another pair better that as well?

    I wonder why the selectors dropped him..

    Obaid - u think that would work? I will vote for myself each time ;-)

  4. Gaurav Sethi said...

    Cracker post.

  5. David Barry said...

    I don't know if that 11.3 is a record - I had a very non-thorough manual search of the obvious candidates and couldn't find anything higher though.

    Grimmett was 44 when he was dropped, but he was still able to take lots of wickets - he broke the Sheffield Shield season record when he was 49.

    Bill O'Reilly says that Bradman preferred Frank Ward for the 36/7 Ashes tour, and got his way. Ward did all right on debut - 6/102 and 2/138, but only took three wickets in his next two Tests. Still Bradman liked him, and didn't like Grimmett, and Ward got to tour England in 1938 and Grimmett stayed home. Ward got figures of 0/142 in the first Test and never played for Australia again, and before Australia played another series, World War II started, ending any hopes of a Grimmett recall.

  6. Q said...

    Thanks NC.

    Thanks for the historical rundown David. It amazes me how all these bowlers played well beyond thei 40s. These days they turn 32-33 and they're bodies are breaking apart.

    The amount of cricket is the obvious reason. Wonder how these past greats would have fared in this day and age of ODIs and T20Is..

  7. Gaurav Sethi said...

    "Wonder how these past greats would have fared in this day and age of ODIs and T20Is.."
    ---past greats would have feared in this day and age of...

  8. Q said...

    Feared? U think NC?

    Maybe a statisticain like David can come up with some sort of analysis correlating the effect of more ODIs with less test wickets or something like that.

    E.g. - How many test wickets would have Sir Hadlee taken had he played as many ODIs as frequently as a Brett Lee or Glen McGrath?

    How effective would a Barnes or a Lohmann been had thy played as many ODIs as bowlers do these days?

    And so on...

  9. David Barry said...

    The question of workloads is an interesting one. In terms of playing days per year, Charles Davis did a little study (here, scroll down to "Tuckered Out?") a while back. Bradman played 60 days a year between 1929 and 1933, as compared to Ponting's 100 between 2001 and 2004. But Bradman also played more grade cricket, so the difference is more like 100 v 70.

    So some increase. But it's not all because of ODI's. Neil Harvey played 80 days a year between 1953 and 1957.

    In England it's different, because for a very long time the county season was huge. Even before 1900 players were playing 100 days a year, comparable to international cricketers today.

    It's also worth noting that the workload in the 1980's was similar to today, so Hadlee would still have taken loads of Test wickets.

    The bulk of the change in workload probably comes from the all the fitness work players do these days.

    Trying to work out how past players would have done with modern training techniques might be possible (looking at the overall trend of the retirement age of players, etc.). I see two effects working against each other though - the careers would be shorter in terms of years, but they'd get to play more Tests per year.

    I'm unlikely to try to work on this problem (which may end up being too hard for me), but I'll keep it in the back of my mind.

  10. straight point said...

    now thats a well rounded post...

    but i am still looking for answerers that when pathan, rp and praveen of late have acknowledged that tips and advice of wasim was very helpfut for their careers...why pcb is still sleeping...

    when you have these two greats at home what stopping pcb??

    can you shed more light?

  11. Q said...

    "It's also worth noting that the workload in the 1980's was similar to today"

    Is it really? I would think that the number of ODIs in a year today is double if not triple that were played in the 80s.

    But your right the player days might be the same since a lot of pacers miss a lot of ODI games these days.

  12. Q said...

    SP - its as intriguing for me as it is for you.

    First lets get to the case of Wasim Akram who has openly helped Indian bowlers and has also attended fast bowler camps set up by the PCB.

    Sohail Tanvir was Wasim Akram's find. Tanvir was attending a camp for allrounders as a batting allrounder and Wasim saw him bowl. Within 2 days Wasim converted Tanvir into a left arm over the wicket fast bowler who could swing the ball both ways much like Wasim. It was also Wasim's recommendation to send Tanvir to 20-20 WC once Shoaib Akhtar came back.

    Wasim has openly stated that he would like to help Pakistan in whatever way possible. There are 2 problems that I see:

    1) The Justice Qayyum match fixing report. The verdict on Wasim Akram was a very vague one - it didn't ban him as it said not enough evidence was provided. But it did say that Wasim should never be considered as captain or any other post of responsibility within the team. Thus that means that he cannot be coach, bowling coach or anything like that officially unless the PCB decides to ignore Justic Qayyums report. That is also the reason why Wasim never became captain again despite all the lobbying while Waqar was captain.

    If you remember Mushtaq Ahmed was made assistant coach on Inzi's request and then fired because the ICC objected based on Justice Qayyums verdict on Mushy.

    2) The second problem is that Wasim is tied up with Espnstar, which follows Indian cricket. So Wasim gets to travel everywhere the Indian team does so naturally the Indian bowlers have access to his expertise. He hasn't followed the PAk cricket team like Rameez and Waqar so the bowlers haven't had the same access to him.

    Moving on to Waqar Younis. He was bowling coach of the team for about 6-8 months. He did wonders for Asif, Gul, and Rana Naveed. Asif's inswingers, Guls's yorkers, Naveed's outswingers - theres a bit of Waqar in all of them.

    But then as always in Pak Cricket ego issues happened and Waqar was fired. For some reason the PCB thought that a bowling coach was not required for ODIs so Waqar was told that he would be bowling coach for the test side and thus not travel to the World Cup 2007. Waqar had an issue and resigned. PCB did nothing to keep him on board. There were verbal clashes between Waqar and Nasim Ashraf and that was that.

    So thats the story as far as I know SP. I doubt Pakistan will ever use its former greats like Wasim, Waqar, Miandad, Inzi, etc. They haven't even used Imran Khan of all people.

    Sad just sad.

  13. David Barry said...

    Q, remember that while the number of ODI's is much higher now than it was in the 1980's, international cricketers now play hardly any domestic matches, whereas they used to do this often.

  14. straight point said...

    its indeed very sad...and they say they are running the game or did we heard it wrongly...i think they are ruining the game... ;-)

  15. straight point said...

    ...and btw thanks Q for taking time out and responding to my Q...

  16. Q said...

    Right abt the domestic games David. But even then I do think ODIs today out number the domestic games of the 80s. Add to that the traveling and hectic schedules etc. The burden on the body of a fast bowler today is more than it was on a fast bowler of the 80s IMO.

    Anytime SP. Its a pleasure :-)

  17. David Barry said...

    Q, Richard Hadlee bowled 1.7 times as many balls in senior cricket as Chaminda Vaas has done (Hadlee played a lot of county cricket). Hadlee's senior career lasted about 18 or 19 years, and Vaas only a couple of years less. Vaas has also played 16 more Tests than Hadlee did.

  18. Q said...

    Yet again, very insightful David. thanks.

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