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Bowler Test Win-Loss Records

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:-

Player Team Tests Won Lost W-L%
Shane Warne Aus 145 39 5 0.886
Muttiah Muralitharan SL 132 36 3 0.923
Anil Kumble Ind 132 25 10 0.714
Glenn McGrath Aus 124 23 3 0.885
Dennis Lillee Aus 70 15 4 0.789
Malcolm Marshall WI 81 13 1 0.929
Wasim Akram Pak 104 13 2 0.867
Richard Hadlee NZ 86 13 3 0.813
Curtley Ambrose WI 98 13 4 0.765
Clarrie Grimmett Aus 37 12 0 1.000
Dale Steyn SA 38 12 2 0.857
Harbhajan Singh Ind 83 12 2 0.857
Waqar Younis Pak 87 12 7 0.632
Mikhaya Ntini SA 101 11 6 0.647
Allan Donald SA 72 10 2 0.833
Imran Khan Pak 88 10 3 0.769
Courtney Walsh WI 132 10 4 0.714
Lance Gibbs WI 79 10 5 0.667
SF Barnes Eng 27 9 0 1.000
Fred Trueman Eng 67 9 2 0.818
Richie Benuad Aus 63 9 3 0.750
Ian Botham Eng 102 9 7 0.563

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:-

Player Team Tests Won Win%
Bobby Peel Eng 20 8 40.0%
Tom Richardson Eng 14 5 35.7%
Jack Saunders Aus 14 5 35.7%
SF Barnes Eng 27 9 33.3%
George Lohmann Eng 18 6 33.3%
Clarrie Grimmett Aus 37 12 32.4%
Dale Steyn SA 38 12 31.6%
Frank Tyson Eng 17 5 29.4%
Muttiah Muralitharan SL 132 36 27.3%
Shane Warne Aus 145 39 26.9%

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:-

Player Team Tests Won Lost W-L%
Clarrie Grimmett Aus 37 12 0 1.000
SF Barnes Eng 27 9 0 1.000
Bill O’Reilly Aus 27 7 0 1.000
Frank Tyson Eng 17 5 0 1.000
Arthur Mailey Aus 21 5 0 1.000
Malcolm Marshall WI 81 13 1 0.929
Muttiah Muralitharan SL 132 36 3 0.923
Stuart MacGill Aus 44 8 1 0.889
Andy Roberts WI 47 8 1 0.889
Shane Warne Aus 145 39 5 0.886

(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):-

Player Team Ind. W-L Ind. Win% Team W-L Team Win% Ratio
Colin Blythe Eng 5-3 0.625 5-10 0.333 1.875
Richard Hadlee NZ 13-3 0.813 22-28 0.440 1.847
Tom Richardson Eng 5-1 0.800 6-7 0.462 1.806
Frank Tyson Eng 5-0 1.000 8-6 0.571 1.750
Hugh Tayfield SA 6-3 0.667 11-17 0.393 1.697
SF Barnes Eng 9-0 1.000 13-9 0.591 1.692
Muttiah Muralitharan SL 36-3 0.923 53-41 0.564 1.637
Fazal Mahmood Pak 5-2 0.714 7-9 0.438 1.633
Darren Gough Eng 8-3 0.727 18-21 0.462 1.576
Bill O’Reilly Aus 7-0 1.000 14-8 0.636 1.571

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:-

Player Team Ind. Wins Team Wins % Team Wins
Colin Blythe Eng 5 5 100.0%
Tom Richardson Eng 5 6 83.3%
Fazal Mahmood Pak 5 7 71.4%
Graeme Swann Eng 5 7 71.4%
SF Barnes Eng 9 13 69.2%
Muttiah Muralitharan SL 36 53 67.9%
Bobby Peel Eng 8 12 66.7%
Dale Steyn SA 12 19 63.2%
Clarrie Grimmett Aus 12 20 60.0%
Richard Hadlee NZ 13 22 59.1%

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:-

Player Team Tests W-L W-L% Team Team% Ratio W/Gm %TmW
Bobby Peel Eng 20 8-2 0.800 12-7 0.632 1.267 40.0% 66.7%
Tom Richardson Eng 14 5-1 0.833 6-7 0.462 1.806 35.7% 83.3%
SF Barnes Eng 27 9-0 1.000 13-9 0.591 1.692 33.3% 69.2%
George Lohmann Eng 18 6-1 0.857 15-3 0.833 1.029 33.3% 40.0%
Clarrie Grimmett Aus 37 12-0 1.000 20-10 0.667 1.500 32.4% 60.0%
Dale Steyn SA 38 12-2 0.857 19-12 0.613 1.398 31.6% 63.2%
Frank Tyson Eng 17 5-0 1.000 8-6 0.571 1.750 29.4% 57.1%
Muttiah Muralitharan SL 132 36-3 0.923 53-41 0.564 1.637 27.3% 67.9%
Shane Warne Aus 145 39-5 0.886 92-26 0.780 1.137 26.9% 42.4%
Colin Blythe Eng 19 5-3 0.625 5-10 0.333 1.875 26.3% 100.0%
Bill O’Reilly Aus 27 7-0 1.000 14-8 0.636 1.571 25.9% 50.0%
Shane Bond NZ 18 4-0 1.000 10-2 0.833 1.200 22.2% 40.0%
Graeme Swann Eng 18 5-1 0.833 7-3 0.700 1.190 27.8% 71.4%
Fred Spofforth Aus 18 4-2 0.667 6-9 0.400 1.668 22.2% 66.7%
Hugh Trumble Aus 32 7-2 0.778 14-11 0.560 1.389 21.9% 50.0%
Dennis Lillee Aus 70 15-4 0.789 31-16 0.660 1.197 21.4% 48.4%
Harold Larwood Eng 21 4-1 0.800 13-3 0.813 0.985 19.1% 30.8%
Anil Kumble Ind 132 25-10 0.714 43-33 0.566 1.262 18.9% 58.1%
Glenn McGrath Aus 124 23-3 0.885 84-20 0.808 1.095 18.6% 27.4%
Michael Kasprowicz Aus 38 7-6 0.538 22-8 0.733 0.734 18.4% 31.8%
Stuart MacGill Aus 44 8-1 0.889 31-6 0.838 1.061 18.2% 25.8%
Andy Roberts WI 47 8-1 0.889 21-8 0.724 1.228 17.0% 38.1%
Hugh Tayfield SA 37 6-3 0.667 11-17 0.393 1.697 16.2% 54.5%
Malcolm Marshall WI 81 13-1 0.929 43-9 0.827 1.123 16.1% 30.2%
Ashley Mallett Aus 38 6-5 0.545 19-10 0.655 0.833 15.8% 31.6%
Johnny Briggs Eng 33 5-1 0.833 19-12 0.613 1.360 15.2% 26.3%
Richard Hadlee NZ 86 13-3 0.813 22-28 0.440 1.847 15.1% 59.1%
Fazal Mahmood Pak 34 5-2 0.714 7-9 0.438 1.633 14.7% 71.4%
Terry Alderman Aus 41 6-3 0.667 16-12 0.571 1.167 14.6% 37.5%
Harbhajan Singh Ind 83 12-2 0.857 34-20 0.630 1.361 14.5% 35.3%
Richie Benaud Aus 63 9-3 0.750 24-13 0.649 1.156 14.3% 37.5%
EAS Prasanna Ind 49 7-8 0.467 15-25 0.375 1.244 14.3% 46.7%
Tony Lock Eng 49 7-5 0.583 19-13 0.594 0.982 14.3% 36.8%
N Boje SA 43 6-10 0.375 19-12 0.613 0.612 14.0% 31.6%
Allan Donald SA 72 10-2 0.833 33-15 0.688 1.212 13.9% 30.3%
Waqar Younis Pak 87 12-7 0.632 39-26 0.600 1.053 13.8% 30.8%
Darren Gough Eng 58 8-3 0.727 18-21 0.462 1.576 13.8% 44.4%
Fred Trueman Eng 67 9-2 0.818 34-11 0.756 1.083 13.4% 26.5%
Curtley Ambrose WI 98 13-4 0.765 44-26 0.629 1.217 13.3% 29.5%
Steve Harmison Eng 63 8-5 0.615 30-18 0.625 0.985 12.7% 26.7%
Lance Gibbs WI 79 10-5 0.667 30-24 0.556 1.200 12.7% 33.3%
Wasim Akram Pak 104 13-2 0.867 41-27 0.603 1.437 12.5% 31.7%
Mushtaq Ahmed Pak 52 6-1 0.857 22-12 0.647 1.325 11.5% 27.3%
Imran Khan Pak 88 10-3 0.769 26-17 0.605 1.272 11.4% 38.5%
Craig McDermott Aus 71 8-3 0.727 27-18 0.600 1.212 11.3% 29.6%
Learie Constantine WI 18 2-2 0.500 4-9 0.308 1.625 11.1% 29.6%
Mikhaya Ntini SA 101 11-6 0.647 50-29 0.633 1.022 10.9% 22.0%
Angus Fraser Eng 46 5-3 0.625 12-15 0.444 1.406 10.9% 41.7%
Shaoib Akhtar Pak 46 5-4 0.556 20-16 0.556 1.000 10.9% 25.0%
Brett Lee Aus 76 8-6 0.571 54-11 0.831 0.688 10.5% 14.8%
Wes Hall WI 48 5-2 0.714 21-10 0.677 1.054 10.4% 23.8%
BS Chandrasekhar Ind 58 6-7 0.462 14-24 0.368 1.253 10.3% 42.9%
Iqbal Qasim Pak 50 5-1 0.833 16-8 0.667 1.250 10.0% 31.3%
Jason Gillespie Aus 71 7-5 0.583 47-15 0.758 0.770 9.9% 14.9%
Jeff Thomson Aus 51 5-6 0.455 21-18 0.538 0.844 9.8% 23.8%
Sonny Ramadhin WI 43 4-2 0.667 13-16 0.448 1.487 9.3% 30.8%
Ian Botham Eng 102 9-7 0.563 33-32 0.508 1.108 8.8% 27.3%
Jim Laker Eng 46 4-3 0.571 19-12 0.613 0.932 8.7% 21.1%
Michael Holding WI 60 5-3 0.625 31-8 0.795 0.786 8.3% 16.1%
Ray Lindwall Aus 61 5-4 0.556 33-9 0.786 0.707 8.2% 15.2%
Derek Underwood Eng 86 7-6 0.538 27-21 0.563 0.957 8.1% 25.9%
Courtney Walsh WI 132 10-4 0.714 52-43 0.547 1.305 7.6% 19.2%
Bishen Bedi Ind 67 5-4 0.556 17-28 0.378 1.471 7.5% 29.4%
Matthew Hoggard Eng 67 5-3 0.625 31-18 0.633 0.988 7.5% 16.1%
Joel Garner WI 58 4-1 0.800 30-5 0.857 0.933 6.9% 13.3%
Bob Willis Eng 90 6-6 0.500 32-26 0.552 0.906 6.7% 18.8%
Daniel Vettori NZ 100 6-10 0.375 31-39 0.443 0.847 6.0% 19.4%
Alec Bedser (RIP) Eng 51 3-3 0.500 14-17 0.452 1.107 5.9% 21.4%
Chaminda Vaas SL 111 6-6 0.500 43-34 0.558 0.895 5.4% 14.0%
Shaun Pollock SA 108 4-3 0.571 49-27 0.645 0.886 3.7% 8.2%
Kapil Dev Ind 131 2-4 0.333 24-31 0.436 0.764 1.5% 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!

Comments

Good analysis

Comment by Avada Kedavra | 12:00am GMT 22 April 2010

Thanks Avada – I appreciate that!

Comment by Dave Wilson | 12:00am GMT 22 April 2010

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