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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Murali vs Warne

The smh had an article yesterday comparing Warne and Murali. The question is, given a chance, on merit who would you pick ?

Your mission, and you have chosen to accept it, is to pick a cricket side like no other. A team comprising the best players from the Australian and Rest of the World XI sides strutting their collective stuff at the SCG this week. You can choose whoever you like, but there's a catch. You can have only one spinner.

Go on, take your pick - Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralitharan? Who's better?

On Sunday, having some free time I sat down to watch some the ICC test match and coincidently Murali was at his flame throwing best. He has hardly played any tests in Oz so it was a treat to watch as Peter Roebuk described it,

Hitherto, Murali had been wheeling away without much effect. His bowling has changed during the years. Nowadays, he aims his off-break at the wickets, so it is hard to tell apart from the doosra. Judging by the expression that remained on Mark Boucher's map for most of the innings, the ploy is working. Murali's off break turns less and he relies more on his "other one". As usual, the Sri Lankan had been bowling wholeheartedly but the batsmen had been playing him intelligently, working the ball into gaps, using their feet and sweeping powerfully.

Suddenly, the spinner sprang to life. Inspired by the rush of wickets, Murali put an extra flick on his deliveries, whereupon they stopped high-jumping and started pole-vaulting. His next over will linger long in the memory.

Delivered from around the wicket, another skill the tweaker has added to his repertoire, every ball curled through the air, landed on a length and jumped like a surprised child. As far as Simon Katich was concerned, the bowler was talking an unknown language.

I'm not a cricket fan though I don’t mind playing it when I get the opportunity. My interest is usually piqued only when Australia play Sri Lanka. I've decided to see who I would pick for my team. Trying to be as reasonably objective, my strategy has been to

  • limit it to test cricket
  • seek a good sample size ( minimum of 5 innings )
  • select common opposition
  • select common soil / destination
  • exclude results against minnows ( Bangladesh and Zimbabwe )

This limits me to picking countries where both SL and OZ have toured. On the head-to-head count I can only use Autralia’s tours of Sri Lanka as Murali hasn’t played many tests in Oz ( IMHO, they should play at least a 3-test home and away series every four years).

The following are the results of the one-to-one comparisons using the excellent cricket statistics site provided by channel4.

Murali vs Warne
Country Player M(Inns) Runs Wickets Avg S/R Wckts/Match Runs/Over Link
India Murali 5(5) 731 15 48.73 105.73 3 2.77 link

Warne 9(16) 1466 34 43.12 81.03 3.78 3.19 link
England Murali 3(5) 517 24 21.54 59 8 2.16 link

Warne 22(44) 2832 129 21.95 52.33 5.86 2.52 link
Pakistan Murali 7(13) 1053 49 21.49 50.18 7 2.57 link

Warne 3(6) 504 18 28 60.56 6 2.77 link
NZ Murali 4(5) 382 13 29.38 77.08 3.25 2.29 link

Warne 9(18) 1044 49 21.31 51.41 5.44 2.49 link
W.Indies Murali 4(7) 456 25 18.24 41.92 6.25 2.61 link

Warne 7(12) 674 17 39.65 78.29 2.43 3.04 link
S.Africa Murali 6(10) 911 35 26.03 60.54 5.83 2.58 link

Warne 9(16) 1060 49 24.04 63.37 5.11 2.18 link
Aus vs SL Murali 8(14) 1223 47 26.02 54.06 5.88 2.89 link

Warne 8(14) 794 37 21.46 42.54 4.62 3.03 link

I pick Shane Warne. He comes out on top on the more important stats (Avg and S/R) and is a better batsmen. Arguably he has always had the better, tougher and more predatory team around him and this would have contributed as well. He may be an ass but is a very good cricketer.

image from The Age / Reuters


  • At 9:52 am AEST, Anonymous Naren said…

    You also might want to take into consideration the fewer number of tests that Murali has played and the fact that Murali bowls a much larger proportion of his team's total overs than Warne does due to the lack of bowling support that has plagued SL. I myself would pick Murali especially cos of his better athleticism, but then I might be a 'bit' biased

  • At 6:11 pm AEST, Blogger ivap said…

    naren - yeah, I have to agree. His averages might have looked better if conditions were more favourable. may be possible to come up with some kind of weighting formula. Either way it looks like SL needs to play more test matches. Not sure what's holding them back.

  • At 7:55 am AEST, Blogger ashanthi said…

    Hmmm... Murali is a a true gentleman & an absolute credit to his country - all his country.

    I have to say though Ivap - Warnie's batting during the Ashes was quite impressive.

    As for his sexual obsessive/compulsive behaviour - I guess he is a flawed genius. Have a freind who got accousted by him many moons ago - she reckoned he was quite harmless. It does take two to tango...

  • At 9:37 am AEST, Blogger sittingnut said…

    sri lanka probably doesn't get larger no of matches because of the less viewer demand for matches featuring them i suppose.


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