Monday, May 16, 2011

More on Warne versus Murali (v Kumble) - top-spinner versus flipper

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I recently saw a journalistic piece by Shane Warne on the subject of Muttiah Muralitharan (Murali) - full of back-handed (!) compliments; the sub-text of which was that the Australian batsmen in Australia had 'worked out' Murali, and negated his doosra - which is why Murali's record against Australia was modest (13 matches, 59 wickets at an average of 36) especially in Australia was poor (5 matches, 12 wickets at 75).

Of course, since Australia were the best batting side in test cricket during this era, especially in Australia, this is strictly *irrelevant* to a comparison between Warne and Murali - Warne never bowled against the great Australian batting side; and in those match-ups against the best non-Australian test sides Murali clearly out-performed Warne

http://the-doosra.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

of particular relevance is the comparaitive record against India, which was the second best batting side after Australia during the Warne v Murali era:

Murali 4.5 wickets per match @ 33; Warne 3 wickets per match @ 47

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IF Warne had bolwed against Australia he would have been much less effective than against other sides; because Australians use their feet against spin, negating Warnes best variation for the early part of his career - the Flipper: a faster, straight, pitched-up delivery which could trap LBW those batters who stepped back and played spinners from their crease - but which is negated by batters (such as Australians) who play forward and skip down the wicket to spinners.

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The high bouncing top-spinners is the spinner's straight delivery variation which would be most effective against batters who come forward to spin - and who was the best recent top-spin bowler?

Neither Warne, nor Murali - but Anil Kumble.

Take a look at Kumble's record against Australia in Australia: 10 matches, 49 wickets (!) albeit at an average of 37 (spinners do the bulk of bowling in high scoring losing matches, which hurts their averages).

This suggests to me that spin bowlers who have a lot of top spin on their straight ought to have done better against the great Australian sides of the 1990s and early 2000s than did spinners who lacked such a variation.

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(Also relevant is that some Australian umpires in Australia were no-balling and referring Murali for throwing; and this seriously damaged his confidence since it was potentially career-ending. My opinion on this is that throwing is an irrelevant consideration with respect to Murali's unique action; because even if he did straighten his elbow, the delivery was only a 'back-chuck': with the back of the hand and the point of the elbow facing the batter. Ie Murali delivered the ball with the forearm in pronation - to use the anatomical term. The regulations banning throwing implicitly apply to the front of hand delivery with the forearm in supination; when a chuck can be much faster than a straight arm delivery. Indeed throwing with the forearm in supination could lead to quick bowlers delivering balls at over 100 mph - like a baseball pitcher's 95 mph thrown delivery from standing *plus* the extra speed from a run-up. Dangerous!)