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Bowler Test Win-Loss Records

Dave Wilson | 9:48pm gmt 20 Apr 2010
Last month I posted this feature, which looked at Win-Loss records for bowlers in ODIs - in this article, I'd like to do the same for Test bowlers. What we're trying to do here is develop a measure of both success and consistency - with that in mind, we award a "Win" to a bowler who takes three or more wickets in each innings or six wickets in the second innings of a Test which his team wins, and a "Loss" to a bowler who fails to take a wicket and bowls at least ten overs in a Test which his team loses, anything in between constituting a "no decision".

Here is the all-time top 20 ranked in order of total wins:-

Shane WarneAus1453950.886
Muttiah MuralitharanSL1323630.923
Anil KumbleInd13225100.714
Glenn McGrathAus1242330.885
Dennis LilleeAus701540.789
Malcolm MarshallWI811310.929
Wasim AkramPak1041320.867
Richard HadleeNZ861330.813
Curtley AmbroseWI981340.765
Clarrie GrimmettAus371201.000
Dale SteynSA381220.857
Harbhajan SinghInd831220.857
Waqar YounisPak871270.632
Mikhaya NtiniSA1011160.647
Allan DonaldSA721020.833
Imran KhanPak881030.769
Courtney WalshWI1321040.714
Lance GibbsWI791050.667
SF BarnesEng27901.000
Fred TruemanEng67920.818
Richie BenuadAus63930.750
Ian BothamEng102970.563

Actually, that's 22. Warne and Murali are far ahead of the next two, Kumble and McGrath, who in turn are far ahead of the following group. Murali's consistency is plain for all to see with his very high Win-percentage, but more so is Grimmett and Barnes, who never failed, garnering 100% winning records. Interestingly there are no English bowlers of the modern era, Fred Trueman being the most recent to make the top 20. Although the top three are spinners, I don't think this is a legacy of the win/loss threshold we've imposed, rather these are three exceptional bowlers, as only three other spinners make the top 20, Clarrie Grimmett, Harbhajan Singh and Lance Gibbs. Another interesting thing (for me, at least) is how close Warne and McGrath are in terms of W-L% - only one-hundredth of a point separates them - is it any wonder that Australian team was the most highly-rated ever?

We can also see that Lillee was very successful from far fewer Test appearances than those above him, and Grimmett, Steyn and Barnes also stand out in this regard. To account for this relative lack of opportunity in terms of number of Tests played, let's re-rank based on percentage of games won per Test appearance:-

Bobby PeelEng20840.0%
Tom RichardsonEng14535.7%
Jack SaundersAus14535.7%
SF BarnesEng27933.3%
George LohmannEng18633.3%
Clarrie GrimmettAus371232.4%
Dale SteynSA381231.6%
Frank TysonEng17529.4%
Muttiah MuralitharanSL1323627.3%
Shane WarneAus1453926.9%

Four of the all-time greats of English bowling feature at the top now, separated by Golden Age Aussie spinner Jack Saunders, while we can also see how exceptional Dale Steyn has been, being the only bowler in the top seven to have appeared post-WWII. Note that I imposed a minimum wins threshold of five, otherwise the above list would be dominated by players who didn't play that much (players who just missed out but would have figured in the top ten included Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, four wins in 10 Tests, Tich Freeman, four wins in 12, and Bert Ironmonger, four from 14).

We can also rank win success in terms of Win-Loss Percentage - there are 24 bowlers with a perfect 100% record, so I imposed the same minimum wins threshold of five, otherwise the list would be full of bowlers with 1-0 and 2-0 records:-

Clarrie GrimmettAus371201.000
SF BarnesEng27901.000
Bill O'ReillyAus27701.000
Frank TysonEng17501.000
Arthur MaileyAus21501.000
Malcolm MarshallWI811310.929
Muttiah MuralitharanSL1323630.923
Stuart MacGillAus44810.889
Andy RobertsWI47810.889
Shane WarneAus1453950.886

(Three players had only four wins and so were excluded, but also had 100% records - Tich Freeman, Gary Gilmour and Shane Bond all had a 4-0 record.)

This list is remarkable for the sheer number of Australians in it - half of the top ten. Should we have expected to see more West Indians here, for example, where only Malcolm Marshall and Andy Roberts qualify? Actually, if we extend down to twenty we don't see any additional West Indians (although Ambrose makes the top 30). This probably boils down to the fact that Australia has been successful for many more years than the West Indian teams have, as great as they have been.

We can factor in this relative team success by comparing the player's record against that of his team's in games in which he appeared; for example, Marshall's record was 13-1 for a West Indian team which was 43-9 when he played whereas Hadlee's record was 13-3 for a New Zealand team which was only 22-28 - here is the top ten when measured by ratio of individual W-L record to team W-L record (again with a minimum five wins):-

PlayerTeamInd. W-LInd. Win%Team W-LTeam Win%Ratio
Colin BlytheEng5-30.6255-100.3331.875
Richard HadleeNZ13-30.81322-280.4401.847
Tom RichardsonEng5-10.8006-70.4621.806
Frank TysonEng5-01.0008-60.5711.750
Hugh TayfieldSA6-30.66711-170.3931.697
SF BarnesEng9-01.00013-90.5911.692
Muttiah MuralitharanSL36-30.92353-410.5641.637
Fazal MahmoodPak5-20.7147-90.4381.633
Darren GoughEng8-30.72718-210.4621.576
Bill O'ReillyAus7-01.00014-80.6361.571

Vinoo Mankad did not qualify with only four wins, but his record of 4-3 for an Indian team still struggling to find its feet on the international stage would have put him at the top, although Hadlee's record is possibly more impressive. Bill O'Reilly now shades his teammate Grimmett, both having unblemished records, but O'Reilly's teams having a slightly worse record. Darren Gough rates as England's best of modern times, at least by this measure. Blythe's record is interesting insofar as he was personally responsible for all of England's wins during his tenure. We can look at that in more detail too - here is the top ten in terms of number of individual contributions of team wins:-

PlayerTeamInd. WinsTeam Wins% Team Wins
Colin BlytheEng55100.0%
Tom RichardsonEng5683.3%
Fazal MahmoodPak5771.4%
Graeme SwannEng5771.4%
SF BarnesEng91369.2%
Muttiah MuralitharanSL365367.9%
Bobby PeelEng81266.7%
Dale SteynSA121963.2%
Clarrie GrimmettAus122060.0%
Richard HadleeNZ132259.1%

Even if the five-wins cut-off had not been applied Blythe would have finished top, as you can't get better than a 100% record. Graeme Swann, Murali and Dale Steyn are the only current players to make this list.

Finally, here is a list of some high-profile bowlers for comparison, ordered by Wins/Game (players in the top ten for each category are shown in bold) - as an example, compare Angus Fraser and Shoaib Akhtar; both played 46 Tests, both won five games (Fraser 5-3, Akhtar 5-4), however Akhtar's teams were 20-16 whereas Fraser's were 12-15, so Fraser's ratios are much better than Akhtar's:-

Bobby PeelEng208-20.80012-70.6321.26740.0%66.7%
Tom RichardsonEng145-10.8336-70.4621.80635.7%83.3%
SF BarnesEng279-01.00013-90.5911.69233.3%69.2%
George LohmannEng186-10.85715-30.8331.02933.3%40.0%
Clarrie GrimmettAus3712-01.00020-100.6671.50032.4%60.0%
Dale SteynSA3812-20.85719-120.6131.39831.6%63.2%
Frank TysonEng175-01.0008-60.5711.75029.4%57.1%
Muttiah MuralitharanSL13236-30.92353-410.5641.63727.3%67.9%
Shane WarneAus14539-50.88692-260.7801.13726.9%42.4%
Colin BlytheEng195-30.6255-100.3331.87526.3%100.0%
Bill O'ReillyAus277-01.00014-80.6361.57125.9%50.0%
Shane BondNZ184-01.00010-20.8331.20022.2%40.0%
Graeme SwannEng185-10.8337-30.7001.19027.8%71.4%
Fred SpofforthAus184-20.6676-90.4001.66822.2%66.7%
Hugh TrumbleAus327-20.77814-110.5601.38921.9%50.0%
Dennis LilleeAus7015-40.78931-160.6601.19721.4%48.4%
Harold LarwoodEng214-10.80013-30.8130.98519.1%30.8%
Anil KumbleInd13225-100.71443-330.5661.26218.9%58.1%
Glenn McGrathAus12423-30.88584-200.8081.09518.6%27.4%
Michael KasprowiczAus387-60.53822-80.7330.73418.4%31.8%
Stuart MacGillAus448-10.88931-60.8381.06118.2%25.8%
Andy RobertsWI478-10.88921-80.7241.22817.0%38.1%
Hugh TayfieldSA376-30.66711-170.3931.69716.2%54.5%
Malcolm MarshallWI8113-10.92943-90.8271.12316.1%30.2%
Ashley MallettAus386-50.54519-100.6550.83315.8%31.6%
Johnny BriggsEng335-10.83319-120.6131.36015.2%26.3%
Richard HadleeNZ8613-30.81322-280.4401.84715.1%59.1%
Fazal MahmoodPak345-20.7147-90.4381.63314.7%71.4%
Terry AldermanAus416-30.66716-120.5711.16714.6%37.5%
Harbhajan SinghInd8312-20.85734-200.6301.36114.5%35.3%
Richie BenaudAus639-30.75024-130.6491.15614.3%37.5%
EAS PrasannaInd497-80.46715-250.3751.24414.3%46.7%
Tony LockEng497-50.58319-130.5940.98214.3%36.8%
N BojeSA436-100.37519-120.6130.61214.0%31.6%
Allan DonaldSA7210-20.83333-150.6881.21213.9%30.3%
Waqar YounisPak8712-70.63239-260.6001.05313.8%30.8%
Darren GoughEng588-30.72718-210.4621.57613.8%44.4%
Fred TruemanEng679-20.81834-110.7561.08313.4%26.5%
Curtley AmbroseWI9813-40.76544-260.6291.21713.3%29.5%
Steve HarmisonEng638-50.61530-180.6250.98512.7%26.7%
Lance GibbsWI7910-50.66730-240.5561.20012.7%33.3%
Wasim AkramPak10413-20.86741-270.6031.43712.5%31.7%
Mushtaq AhmedPak526-10.85722-120.6471.32511.5%27.3%
Imran KhanPak8810-30.76926-170.6051.27211.4%38.5%
Craig McDermottAus718-30.72727-180.6001.21211.3%29.6%
Learie ConstantineWI182-20.5004-90.3081.62511.1%29.6%
Mikhaya NtiniSA10111-60.64750-290.6331.02210.9%22.0%
Angus FraserEng465-30.62512-150.4441.40610.9%41.7%
Shaoib AkhtarPak465-40.55620-160.5561.00010.9%25.0%
Brett LeeAus768-60.57154-110.8310.68810.5%14.8%
Wes HallWI 485-20.71421-100.6771.05410.4%23.8%
BS ChandrasekharInd586-70.46214-240.3681.25310.3%42.9%
Iqbal QasimPak505-10.83316-80.6671.25010.0%31.3%
Jason GillespieAus717-50.58347-150.7580.7709.9%14.9%
Jeff ThomsonAus515-60.45521-180.5380.8449.8%23.8%
Sonny RamadhinWI434-20.66713-160.4481.4879.3%30.8%
Ian BothamEng1029-70.56333-320.5081.1088.8%27.3%
Jim LakerEng464-30.57119-120.6130.9328.7%21.1%
Michael HoldingWI605-30.62531-80.7950.7868.3%16.1%
Ray LindwallAus615-40.55633-90.7860.7078.2%15.2%
Derek UnderwoodEng867-60.53827-210.5630.9578.1%25.9%
Courtney WalshWI13210-40.71452-430.5471.3057.6%19.2%
Bishen BediInd675-40.55617-280.3781.4717.5%29.4%
Matthew HoggardEng675-30.62531-180.6330.9887.5%16.1%
Joel GarnerWI584-10.80030-50.8570.9336.9%13.3%
Bob WillisEng906-60.50032-260.5520.9066.7%18.8%
Daniel VettoriNZ1006-100.37531-390.4430.8476.0%19.4%
Alec Bedser (RIP)Eng513-30.50014-170.4521.1075.9%21.4%
Chaminda VaasSL1116-60.50043-340.5580.8955.4%14.0%
Shaun PollockSA1084-30.57149-270.6450.8863.7%8.2%
Kapil DevInd1312-40.33324-310.4360.7641.5%8.3%

It's worth noting that in the above table Murali is the only bowler ranked in the top ten in all five categories. Barnes and Grimmett are both ranked in the top ten in four categories, while Tom Richardson, Steyn, Tyson, Warne and Blythe all have three top ten rankings.

You may draw from that what you will!

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Thanks Avada - I appreciate that!

Good analysis

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