Top 25 effective bowlers in the last 25 years.

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Post by Biltong on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 7:16 am

It is often controversial when any list is put together to decide the best ever of any category of cricket players, whether we are looking for the best batsmen, bowlers or wicket keepers. Fielders can be even more controversial as it is often decided upon personal experiences and memorable incidents like a direct hit at the stumps or some brilliant catch at slip, diving catch at point or even those one handed boundary saving dive catches.

I am of the opinion that most of these lists are put together with a definite bias, purely because of what we as individuals deem best due to our own experiences of what we have seen or even what our fathers and elders told us about certain events they have witnessed. There is of course also the fact that our patriotism ofen gets in the way of a decent debate.

The other problem with many of these lists are comparing players of different eras with each other. In my humble opinion is it really level playing fields comparing a player who may have only played in a few countries to a player who has played just about everywhere. There is also a case to be made for equipment advances over the past 20 odd years.

How would Don Bradman have fared with the bats of today? How would he have fared in India or South Africa for that matter.

I have decided to start a series of articles where I will use a formula completely devoid of any bias or personal opinion based on statistics and achievements only, it will only take into account players of the last 25 years. My reasoning for this is simple, conditions, equipment and professionalism has changed the game, the advent of One Day cricket and in the last number of years have influenced the way players approach the game and also the preparation of pitches have advanced tremendously as result orientated test matches have become the norm with test cricket having to compete with the shorter versions of the game.

Bowlers.
What are the most important factors when a selector decides upon the make up of his squad?
I would hazard the following guess.
Strike rate of the bowler.
Economy rate of the bowler.
Ability to dominate a match.
There are of course other issues a selector will use as criteria such as fielding ability, fitness, whether the player will fit into his team ethos and of course batting ability. These factors are however not really measurable with any accuracy and because we are looking at the most effective bowlers their batting average will not be part of the equation.

So the formula I will use will work like this.
Strike rate X economy rate = effectiveness.

The reasoning behind this is rather simple, strike rate X economy rate provides us with the general effectiveness and cost of a bowler, the fact is how many overs he bowls is often decided by the captain and therefor irrelevant.

Qualifying criteria is 100 wickets.

Top 25 effective bowlers in the last 25 years.
M Marshall – West Indies - 118.07
C Ambrose – West Indies - 125.35
G McGrath – Australia - 129.23
R Hadlee - New Zealand - 130.00
A Donald - South Africa - 133.01
M Muralitharan - Sri Lanka - 135.85
S Pollock - South Africa - 138.14
D Steyn - South Africa - 138.90
W Younis – Pakistan - 141.05
W Akram - Pakistan - 141.44
I Khan - Pakistan - 141.67
I Bishop - West Indies - 145.12
C Walsh – West Indies - 145.15
M Asif – Pakistan - 145.61
B Reid – Australia - 147.96
S Akhtar - Pakistan - 154.01
SK Warne – Australia - 154.11
J Gillespie - Australia - 156.47
P Reiffel - Australia - 161.13
A Fraser – England - 163.32
C McDermott - Australia - 164.71
M Hughes - Australia - 167.30
H Streak - Zimbabwe - 168.66
D Gough - England - 170.28
M Ntini - South Africa - 172.48

Now I leave it up to you to debate the impact of each of these bowlers.
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Post by guildfordbat on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 8:34 am

biltongbek wrote:
.... I will use a formula completely devoid of any bias or personal opinion based on statistics and achievements only ....

Biltong - whilst your intentions are admirable, I'm not sure whether you are asking us to debate your formula or your findings.

For me, formulas (formulae? Rolling Eyes ) best belong to the worlds of science and maths. In my view we should never try to remove personal opinion from cricket judgments. Personal opininion is the heartbeat of our interest in and love of the game.

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Post by Biltong on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 8:42 am

you may debate any way you wish, the point of this exercise is to show statistical effectiveness only.

The debate of who was the best have shown over a number of threads that these stats are quite close to many poster's opinions.
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Post by Biltong on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 8:46 am

As an example let's look at shaun Pollock vs Dale Steyn.

Most are of the opinion that Dale Steyn can become a great. However when looking at his effectiveness compared to Shaun Pollock's there is little in it.

Steyn has the best strike rate of any bowler, but yet his economy shows as a strike bowler he concedes runs at about the same cost and effectiveness as Shaun Pollock, who was a miser when it came to conceding runs.

One bowler a disciplined line and length bolwer who has often been described as someone who bores you out of your wicket, where the other attacks your wicket with gusto, pace and outswing.
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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 9:38 am

That list would add weight to the argument its become a batsmans game.

It also doesnt account for "slow burners" like Anderson. Now the second best seam bowler in the world, he for a long time was pretty hopeless. so his career statistics in no way refelect the bowler hes become.

I think perhaps you are adding too much weight to econmomy vs strike rate though, in tests cricket we tend to value wickets above economy. Of course the ER is important, its about make life difficult for batsmen and can create wickets for others, but I dont think it should be rated quite as highly as SR/AV

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Post by Fists of Fury on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 9:50 am

Steven Finn would be a good example of your point, PSW. In the handful of Tests that Finn has played, he has taken a very healthy amount of wickets, but often been quite expensive, too. I guess the economy only really becomes a big issue when that bowler isn't taking wickets, whereas it can often be overlooked if that bowler is picking up a few of the top order in between taking a bit of tap.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 10:46 am

Paddles was my hero growing up. The only bowler that came close to equalling his effectiveness for NZ, Shane Bond, was cruelly hampered by injury so doesn´t make your list. His economy rate was frightening per wicket.

What I find really interesting from your list that apart from Murali and Warne - the latter being surprisingly down the list - are all quick bowlers and most of them express pace. It just goes to show, as Corporal Jones said, batsmen don´t like it up them.

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 11:14 am


Kia the reason for that may be that spinners tend to have lower strike rates because they can be nullified more easily and more often get called upon to just hold down an end. Its also pretty common for the quickies to be wheeled out whne the 10/11 come out, they get cheap wickets there.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 11:19 am

True Peter. They also bowl in shorter spells as well. That said, NZ´s experience with any good spin bowler was not a case of being tied down. More like tied down and taken advantage of!

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Post by guildfordbat on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 4:15 pm

Hi again Biltong,

Can you please tell me using your formula which of these bowling returns from the last hour of a hypothetical Test match is the best:

A. 8 - 4 - 8 - 1

or

B. 8 - 0 - 45 - 3.

Whilst you crank up your machine, I would say it all depends.

A has the lower runs per wicket average and lower economy rate.

B has the more wickets and naturally better strike rate.

But - what were the circumstance of the match?

If the bowling side was trying to take 4 or 5 wickets in the last hour to win the Test and had no danger of losing, then B is clearly better.

However, if the bowling side had no chance of winning and were trying to keep the scoring rate down to steal a draw, then A wins hands down.

I do appreciate you've covered things over a longer period with 100 wickets minimum criteria, presumably so that things balance out over time. However, I think there are so many imponderables (including situations such as above and other factors such as whether the bowler regularly get the opportunity to bowl at the tail) that personal evaluation of all circumstances over a career have to come into a meaningful assessment.

Please don't think I'm rubbishing your formula. It can be a useful aspect to go into the mix. However, for me, it can't be any more.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 4:30 pm

I'm with guildford, different figures can have different effectiveness given the match situation. For instance when a side is say chasing 50 but only has 4 overs to do so, figures of 1 for 14 in two overs (effectiveness 84) are obviously much better than figures of 2-26 in two overs (effectiveness 78). it all depends on the match situation.

Also, the chosen formula seems rather random to me, why just the product of both, are we saying that eco rates and SRs are equally important?

Finally, any list that has Warne below Reid is just plain wrong...

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 4:35 pm

To be fair he hasn´t put best bowlers. He´s put most effective. And strike rate and economy rate are key factors involving effectiveness for me too.

Anyway, I always prefer to see what stats say than what I want to see in stats. 63 % of people know that. Very Happy

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Post by Guest on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 4:41 pm

not in order just numbered them so i can remeber how many i put :p

1.Glenn McGrath
2.James Anderson
3.Courtney Walsh
4.Daniel Vettori
5.Chris Martin
6.Anil Kumble
7.Curtley Ambrose
8.Harbajhan singh
9.Allan Donald
10.Muttiah Muralithrain
11.Shane Warne
12.Dale Steyn
13.Shoaib Akhtar
14.Malcolm Marshall
15.Zaheer Khan
16.Shaun Pollock
17.Brett Lee
18.Ian Bishop
19.Richard Hadlee
20.Waqar Younis
21.Andy Caddick
22.Kapil Dev
23.Wasim Akram
24.Saqlain Mushtaq
25.Chaminda Vaas

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Post by Mike Selig on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 6:26 pm

People get too bothered about statistics. They are a useful guide in that if someone is clearly statistically better than someone else then we can probably say they were a "better" player, but honestly no more.

For example, your statistics don't take into account situation of the game, type of pitch, quality/style of opposition. If someone takes 5/100, all top order batsmen to restrict a side to 300 batting first, this is clearly more effective than a part-timer (say Butcher) cleaning up the tail when the side is already 500-5. In other words, was Butcher's 4/42 more effective than Warne's 6-120 odd (at the oval in 05)? I wouldn't have thought so.

In short: any list based purely on statistics is always flawed. In fact all lists are flawed.

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Post by Shelsey93 on Wed 14 Dec 2011, 9:02 pm

Some interesting things to take from this:

- Warne is surprisingly low on this list - below those with far lesser reputations in the form of Pollock, Bishop, Asif, Reid and Akhtar. Possibly a result of the fact that this doesn't take into account the psychological pressure somebody like Warne built up
- Pairs who played in the same team (Marshall and Ambrose, Pollock with both Donald and Steyn, Gillespie and Warne, Wasim and Waqar) seem to have very similar statistics. Does this reflect the fielding effort of the teams they were in in terms of ability to keep runs down and take wickets
- The formula, whilst producing a result not far from what would be expected, fails to consider that scoring rate isn't really a key component in winning Tests

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Post by Biltong on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 6:45 am

Once again as with the batsmen list, the formula considers two of the most important factors of a bowler his strike rate and economy rate.

Both these two factors cannot be debated, any formula is driven on the basis of fact.

Shane Warne as an example is down the list due to fact, whether anyone wants to debate his psychological impact he had on players is becide the point.

First the facts, then the debate.

It still doesn't change the fact that according to this formula even if he does impact the psyche of some players, his statistics show his net result.
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Post by guildfordbat on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 8:47 am

biltongbek wrote:

Shane Warne as an example is down the list due to fact, whether anyone wants to debate his psychological impact he had on players is becide the point.

First the facts, then the debate.

It still doesn't change the fact that according to this formula even if he does impact the psyche of some players, his statistics show his net result.

I think that just shows the lack of value and significance of the formula. Covered more on the equally inapplicable ''effective batsmen'' thread.

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Post by Guest on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 9:28 am

biligontek i think these 2 threads are very good thumbsup

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Post by Biltong on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 9:42 am

thanks cricketfan, I thought so myself at the time of going to the presses. Wink
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Post by Guest on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 9:48 am

HEY I AM CF Wink

the other cricketfan, is called cricketfan

im the legendary CF Wink

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Post by Biltong on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 9:51 am

steam sorry bud didn't get the memo.
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Post by Guest on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 9:53 am

haha lol

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Post by dummy_half on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 10:02 am

I actually think this list has come out with fewer oddities than the batting list - obviously, even the very best spinners tend to have poorer strike rates and averages than good quality pace bowlers, in part because they are often expected to bowl in a more defensive manner and also because quicks (especially genuine fast bowlers) tend to get the first crack at the tailenders and so get a few more cheap wickets,

That Murali appears well inside the top 10 and only behind genuinely great pace bowlers is testament to what a fine player he was. Warne suffers for the comparison, and was clearly considered a more dangerous bowler than some of those immediately above him (Bruce Reid?!?) - of course this doesn't factor in that Murali played most of his cricket at spin-friendly venues (especially The Ovel :-( ) while Warne played more matches on less helpful pitched. Perhaps though not surprising that they are the only two spinners in the top 25 list

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 10:18 am

But Dummy doesnt this list help in some ways highlight that some of the legends we all know werent always the most effective bowlers?

Perhaps Gus Fraser is a good example of a player who on the surface wasnt all that great...but comepletly bailed England out with consistently good returns during an era when they were otherwise pretty useless most of the time.
Equally we have guys like Flintoff who gets banged on about as some kind of bowling legend because he had a bunch of games where he was pretty unplayable, but if you look at his overall career effectiveness he want actually that amazing.
Most people would say Flinotf was the better bowler of the two, but in reality Fraser was more effective.

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Post by dummy_half on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 10:37 am

PSW
I don't disagree with much of that. Flintoff had the higher media profile and was occasionally brilliant, but he was not a great Test bolwer based on statistics (was a better ODI bowler because his stock ball was very hard to get away). I wouldn't say Gus Fraser was a great, but was definintely very valuable in an otherwise not very good England attack. Also, Gus was not used specifically as a strike bowler, so his effectiveness is a good indicator of how good he was.

Just noticed that Harmlesson didn't make the list despite having a couple of seasons of being very effective.

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Post by LivinginItaly on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 10:43 am

One thing I do appreciate this list for is the fact that it gives some appreciation to Gus Fraser. People often overlook him, but in my opinion he and gough were englands best two bowlers of the 90's by some distance.

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Post by dummy_half on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 11:00 am

LivinginItaly wrote:One thing I do appreciate this list for is the fact that it gives some appreciation to Gus Fraser. People often overlook him, but in my opinion he and gough were englands best two bowlers of the 90's by some distance.

LiI
Could argue they were our ONLY bowlers of the 90s. Intersting that they came out as about the same effectiveness as McDermott and Hughes, who were both good rather than great Aussie bowlers.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 11:16 am

I saw a video the other day on youtube of Warne impersonating Hughes. He was playing for a world invitational XI celebrating NZ´s century I think. Well worth a look. It´s the first ball but the others are worth looking at too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feEv-8i2uCo[/spoiler]

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Post by Mike Selig on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 12:03 pm

Fraser was a very good bowler, who was probably great for a season or two (away series in the West Indies and home series against South Africa spring to mind as his finest hours, around 98ish). Very underrated (people have Gough, Caddick and Cork above him; the first two are debateable - Caddick was world class on his day but this didn't happen often enough - but the 3rd is just wrong).

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler on Thu 15 Dec 2011, 12:51 pm

I wqouldnt place Cork as a bowler ahead of him by any strecthc, as an all round player is a different matter. He was jettisoned by England too early, but that probably helped him sustain his county career to such a ludicrous age.

Is Bresnan another whos threatening to be in the "more effective than his apparent ability would suggest" catagory?

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