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Sight Screen

Friday, May 27, 2005

Easy pickings?

Hemant Nayak, a friend and die-hard cricket buff, sent a few of us a mail just now with an interesting premise.
He bases it on Lara's milking of the Pakistan attack (as I write this, he's gone -- stumped beautifully by Kamran Akmal, just short of a second 50 for the match).
His argument is this -- that the likes of Lara, Sachin, Ponting, Kallis etc are all raking in the runs, and moving up the ladder of all time greats, against less than great opposing attacks.
Not that he is knocking what Lara and the others have done, but Heman't point is, England's Graham Gooch and David Gower for instance had to play almost one third of their total number of Tests against the West Indian battery in its prime; they also played a lot against the Aussie attacks led by Thompson, Lillee et al -- not to forget that elsewhere, there were other world class performers like Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Sarfaraz Nawaz and Richard Hadlee lying in wait.
Point being, the likes of Gooch and Gower -- and by extension, the batsmen of that time -- had to score runs against the best pack of fast bowlers the world has seen; today's batsmen don't.
Thus, he points out, Ponting gets to play sub-standard seam attacks a good 80 per cent of the time (given that today, Australia is just about the only country with a fast bowling attack worth mentioning).
It's so easy today, Hemant argues, that even a half fit Sachin could average over 51 against the Pak attack at home recently.
What do you guys think -- are today's batsmen the ones who drew the winning tickets in the batting lottery? Would their achievements, and averages, be the same had they played in the era of the famed Windies quicks?
Comparing across eras is always difficult (I personally dislike such 'Bradman versus Sachin or even Sunny versus Sachin comparisons)... but it's still an interesting thought.


  • This is interesting. A few days back I was having a long discussion on this blog http://www.ubersportingpundit.com/ that the 'great batsmen' of today or not so great because of sub-standard sttacks they have to face. And I pointed out that atleast the non-Aussie greats should be judged by how they perform against the Aussie attack (including Warne).

    You are suggesting something similar, but the point is these Aussie bowlers are taking so many wickets (combined total of McGrath, Gillespie, Kasper, Warne, and even McGill) in past 3-4 years is phenomenal. So they are darn good bowlers. And if so, how come these batsmen are making big runs against that attack ? I hope you see the flaw in this argument I'm trying to point to ? That either those bowlers are good, or the batting is weak. It can't be both.

    And I totally agree with the Ponting line. Actually the debate on the other blog started with the praise of the Aussie lineup for having 4(or 5) batsmen above avg of 50. And I pointed out that they would have fared as well against their own lineup !

    All said, I do agree that its really difficult to compare across generations. But still, to judge to some extent, do remember that Lara and Tendulkar have been their skills for almost 2 generations now. They've done it in the era of Donald, Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose, Walsh etc. Now those weren't poor times for bowlers !

    By Blogger worma, at 18:25  

  • Great batsmen make great bowlers, and vice versa. Given the competition in their domestic league, and the participation of their international players in domestic cricket, the Aussie bowlers have to bowl against good batsmen, and the hence the batsmen have to battle against good bowling. Just that their attitude towards the game is such that both never stop trying to win. This means that both improve. I'm sure the batsmen will do well against their own bowling attack, and vice versa. But it'll be tough competition, so perhaps the consistency wont be there.

    Worma...there more to an attack than just a couple of great bowlers, innit? I think, the fact that both Tendulkar and Lara have performed against an attack as complete as the Aussie battery, is proof enough of their greatness.

    By Blogger Nikhil Pahwa, at 03:41  

  • Nikhil, I'm with you on the greatness of attack being more than the sum of individuals. But I dont think the Aus batting lineup would do as well against their own bowlers as some of the other great batsmen around the world have done. Consider this, Gilchrist is being hailed as 'next to bradman' by the ...umm..guy who hails one cricketer per year as 'next to bradman'...anyway...he is being so highly rated. He is good no doubt. But how does he fare against Bhajji and company in India ? Just imagine if instead of Bhajji it was Warne againt him in Indian pitches, and with Mcgrath and Kasper to keep it tight at other end (hell bhajji got to him with sachin or who-was-that-guy at the other end in '01 series) can you even begin to comprehend :-) Ditto with Hayden and Martyn and particularily Langer, who is sooo shaky in the start. If only each team had McGrath and Kasper even for first 1 hr of their innings...things would be so different.
    ...yes but this is all bs talk ;-)

    By Blogger worma, at 17:18  

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