Monday, August 24, 2009

The Aussie freefall?

Just how important were Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne to the Australian dominance of cricket over the last decade or so?
We are probably finding out just now. When Ricky Ponting picks Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Johnson and Clarke you immediately get the feeling that on a decent batting track his side would struggle to bowl out a good club side. This was apparent on a track that was deemed to be an "unfit dustbowl" when the Aussies batted at the Oval; but turned super nice for batting once the Poms had their turn. What would McGrath and Warne have made of bowling on the same track? Your guess is probably the same as mine.
The way I see things, England did not beat the No.1 test team in the world. They beat a middling team, as is now reflected in the ICC rankings. Beating the No.4 team at home was not that great a deal for the Poms; their real test awaits in South Africa later this year.
The one thing that really irritates me is how Sri Lanka managed to get to No.2 in the rankings? I mean, besides winning on sticky dusty tracks on home grounds, what else have they managed? That side is hardly a side that should be counted as the main threat to South Africa and India, but how does one work that out in the ICC rankings?


  1. Agree with your views. I think Sri Lanka's secret is in hosting test matches and doing the one odd series in Pakistan.

  2. As if to re-iterate your point, Rediff published this one just today:

  3. The vacuum left behind by Warne and McGrath is all too evident.

    In the 10 years of cricket preceding McGrath and Warne's retirement, Australia had played 126 test matches with an astonishing winning ratio of 68% (84 wins in 124 tests).

    In these 126 tests, Australia managed to post 400+ in their first innings 63 times (again, at an astonishing rate of once in every 4th innings). There was an 80% certainty of an Australian victory once their batsmen posted 400+ in the first innings.

    In the same period, on the 23 occasions that the Australians were bundled out below 250 in their first innings, their winning ratio dropped to 47%...which was still the best among all other test playing nations. McGrath and Warne may have a major stake in this particular statistic.

    Post Warne and McGrath, Australia have played in 27 Test matches to date.

    They are now registering 400+ in their first innings at an even better rate of once in every 2.5 innings (way better than the days when Warne & mcGrath played in the team), and yet their winning percentage vis-a-vis a good first innings has dropped to 68%. This basically means opponents are matching up Australia's 400+ scores (either from their own good batting, or conversely, from Australia's poorer bowling). Surely makes a case for Australia's lack of penetration post Warne and McGrath.

    The other piece of statistic - low first innings score - too shows the impact of Warne & McGrath's absense. Australia have been dismissed for below 250 in their first innings 5 times since Warne and McGrath left the scene, losing 4 of those matches at a success percentage of just 20%.

    Not to take anything away from Warne and/or McGrath, it is my personal belief that if one were to give credit to Australia's wonder run in the last decade of test cricket, a few other individuals like Gilchrist, Ponting and Hayden should get a good share of the pie too.

    On a personal bias, I would give the biggest piece to Adam Gilchrist. In my limited tenure of viewership and an even limited aptitude for the game, I haven't come across a bigger matchwinner than Adam Gilchrist.

    Just to show how much Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist mattered - in the 60 matches that these three played together, Australia won 47, lost just 4 (!!!) and drew 9. Having these 3 together in the team practically guaranteed a Test win 8 times out of 10. I do not know of a more impactful trio in cricket. There have been incredible players at the core of many a succesful team - the three W's of West Indies, the famous West Indian quartet of fast bowlers, Bedi-Prasanna-Chandra, the deadly trio of Kanhai-Sobers-Wes Hall, the Indian middle order of Sachin-Dravid-Laxman-Ganguly, Keith Miller-Ray Lindwall-Lindsey Hassett, Hobbs-Sutcliffe-Hammond, Woodfull-Ponsford-Bradman, Lillee-Thomson-Chappell, Miandad-Zaheer Abbas-Imran Khan etc...but Warne-McGrath-Gilchrist together were something else.