Thursday, February 04, 2016

Could Curtly Ambrose have ended up with 800 test wickets ?

After hibernating for long, I decided I should do a post on this one.

To give a background, a good friend posts a video of Curtly Ambrose running through the Australians 23 years ago. A friend of that friend posts a nice piece of stat showing the top wicket takers in the world and bemoans the fact as to why Ambrose is not among the highest wicket takers in the world. In the post below, I try to reason why his anguish might be a little misplaced.

To get things going, that is the link for the video and see below for the nice piece of stat this friend of my friend had posted.

And now, what do I think about Ambrose the bowler ?

Top bowler in cricket is a warped term. We see top from the perspective of the number of wickets taken.

If you go by that, yes Ambrose ended up with 405 wickets.

Let me show you how he compares with Muralidaran

Number of Matches: Ambrose (A) = 98 Murali (M) = 133

Number of innings: A = 179 M = 230

Wickets taken: A = 405 M = 800

Strike rate (balls taken per wicket): A = 54.5 M = 55

Number of balls bowled: A = 22,103 M = 44,039

What can we see from there ?
  1. Murali has played 35 more matches than Ambrose (51 innings more)
  2. Murali has taken twice the number of wickets (almost)
  3. The two bowlers have taken more or less the same number of balls per wicket
  4. Murali has bowled almost twice the number of balls Ambrose bowled

Keeping in mind the fact that their strike rate is almost the same, we should note the following
  • Ambrose played less number of matches / innings compared to Murali
  • But the clincher, Murali had twice the opportunity Ambrose had to get his 800

Now, there could be other counter arguments like
  • Murali took 5 wickets an innings 3 times more than Ambrose (A = 22 M = 67)
  •  Murali took 10 wickets per match 7 times more than Ambrose (A = 3 M = 22)

According to me there are three (actually two) types of bowlers (and their ways of getting test wickets)
  1. An assiduous one who keeps working for his wickets
  2. A gifted one who strikes at will (Dale Steyn for example)
  3. A combination of both

Most of the bowlers belong to the first category, where if you wanted to use a cricket clich√©, they hunted in pairs. Murali was a combination, may be mainly because he didn’t have anyone to combine with for most part of his career.

The problem while hunting in pairs is that you are sharing the workload and hence the fruit too. If you compare for example Walsh with Ambrose (and discount the fact that Walsh played more tests compared to Ambrose) you will see that both have produced very similar results. The important fact there is that Ambrose has a better strike rate or wicket taking ability among the two. But he has still ended up with lesser wickets compared to Walsh (519) thanks to the fact that he played lesser games than him (Walsh = 132, Innings = 242).

The fact that most of the bowlers in the list  of top wicket takers are fast bowlers again plays a huge role in the workload per match / innings (in other words the number of overs they bowled).

So considering the fact that Ambrose was a genuine fast bowler let us discount the comparison on the number of overs bowled vis-√†-vis Murali. He couldn’t have bowled that many overs.

Then we can conclude that had Ambrose played a bit more (even to the extent Walsh did), he would have surely broken into the Top 5 if not the 3.

For the time he has spent on the field, he has done extraordinarily well. Just that we are trained / conditioned to look at the wrong piece of stat to decide who / what a best bowler is

Hence Ambrose is surely among the best of bowlers Cricket world has seen, irrespective of 400 or 800.

Stats: Courtesy Cricinfo 

1 comment:

benjolan di leher said...

after I read your article , I think this article is very nice interesting and easy to read .. luck always friend

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