Saturday, January 06, 2007


Shane Warne is retiring. Well, considering his record, he's getting a lot of accolades, after taking more than 700 wickets in test cricket - more than any other person on the planet, to date. Many consider him to be the best spin bowler of all time...perhaps a reason why the Australians have dominated cricket over the last decade or so. I personally think its all hype.

For one, to be the best spinner in the world, you have to have been successful, consistently, against what is arguably the best spin playing nation on the planet - India. He hasn't performed against the Indian fact, every time he has come down to India, his bowling figures have been set back considerably what with the thrashing he has received from the likes of Sidhu, Kambli, Sachin, Laxman and Dravid. So much so, that he has often refused to come down to play in India in the last 6-7 years, until he came by for the 2004 series. And considering that the Indian subcontinent pitches are a paradise for spinners, it seems a bit suspicious. He also had excuses like the baked beans fiasco in 1998.

Here is Shane Warne's overall record in test cricket:

Matches   Wickets   Best    Average   5Wkt Hauls

    145           708        8/71     25.41            37

Now here is his record against India:

Matches   Wickets   Best    Average   5Wkt Hauls

    14              43       6/125      47.18             1

The numbers speak for themselves...his bowling average is twice against India, as compared to the numbers for this overall career. I mean, considering that Australia and England play each other so often and that Warne has racked up most of his wickets against teams that traditionally do not play spin.

Then there's talk about the magic ball/ball of the century where Shane Warne gets Mike Gatting out by bowling him between his legs. Now, consider this, Indian bowlers like BS Chandrasekhar, L Sivaramakrishnan and Venkataraghavan have bowled myriad such "balls of the century" in their day. Here is a video of their first test win in England, with these two spinners weaving magic against the confused English batsmen: 

I think Anil Kumble deserves a lot more respect, simply because he has taken wickets in all test-playing countries, under all sorts of conditions. For that fact, I believe that Saqlain Mushtaq deserves great respect because he would consistently take wickets against the India team. In fact, he has a better average against India than that for his entire career ! That speaks volumes about his talent.

While Shane Warne is a good cricketer, one must be careful before dubbing him the best spinner in the world. He has won multiple matches for Australia, but then again, they were opponents who were clueless against spin bowling. Also, anyone can be deadly when one has Glenn McGrath tying things down from the other end. In my opinion, McGrath will be the difference between a great Australian team and an ordinary one (well, that is a post for another time).

And before you ask, no Muralitharan doesn't quite qualify as well...while his record is better than Warne's (well, maybe not in number of wickets, but I doubt if that will last) overall as well as against India, we have all seen him being soundly thrashed by Indian batsmen over the years...and for some reason, they used protect him against Sachin Tendulkar...but I guess he does deserve far more respect than Warne, but then there's always going to be a footnote about this "chucking" and other related controversies.


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