Originally Posted by SJS
People just don't seem to be able to appreciate the time span of these cricketers' careers. We just devalue their performances by looking at their averages, where as what we could do if we were willing to look more objectively is consider what would have happened had they NOT played that long.
WG was at his best in the years 1866 to 1876. A 12 year period and not short by any standards. I have absolutely no doubt that his fast increasing girth had an increasingly detrimental effect on his performance even in his early thirties. Its only because he was so FAR above his contemporaries that he could continue to play.
During this period WG scored a third of all centuries scored in England (56 out of 123) !!
- During this period he averaged an astonishing 56.67 per innings !!
- The rest of the players averaged just 14.91 during this period.
- That makes WG's figures 3.8 times those of his contemporaries.
- Extrapolating over 2000-2007 it would need a batting average of 119.9 for someone to dominate in the current decade as WG did in those 12 years in the 3rd quarter of the 19th century !!
Given your earlier post arguing that it is futile to compare players from different eras, I assume this is merely an attempt to illustrate Grace's dominance over his peers, rather than a genuine attempt to realistically estimate the great man's output should we find a time machine and transport him into the 2000s. Indeed, the game has changed to such an extent over the intervening 130 year period as to render any extrapolation meaningless.
Between 1866 and 1876, roundarm bowling still played a crucial role, swing bowling was non existent, googlies and doosras were yet to be discovered, lob bowling was a respected art form, and most fast bowlers span the ball. Furthermore, I have my doubts as to the general standard of batting in first class cricket prior to the golden age. In 1878, AG Steel took 164 first class wickets at 9 runs apeice, a feat not approached by any 20th or 21st century bowler, yet his Wisden obituary states "Steel's bowling perhaps, owed its success to a certain trickiness, with the usual result that as a batsman found his tricks out, so he became rather less effective" - hardly a glowing tribute. In 1903, Lord Hawke wrote "County matches have grown in importance until they practically monopolise all the attention and interest of the cricket loving community, absolutely eclipsing the games to which our fathers looked forward with most eager anticipation. Gone are the good old North and South, those pleasant exhibition matches, gone too are the Over Thirty and Under Thirty... County fixtures have materially raised the standard of the game: they have made cricket very superior in quality to what it used to be."
Notwithstanding the improvements in pitch preparation, the fact that batting averages almost doubled between the 1870s and the first decade of the 20th century suggests strongly that the vast majority of this improvement was on the batting front (indeed, between 1866 and 1876, footwork was looked down upon, there were no leg glances and very few hook shots, and it was considered bad manners to hit good balls for runs or off side balls to leg etc), in which case, had Grace been born a generation later, he would not have towered over his colleagues to the extent suggested in your crazy extrapolation (although one could argue that these improvements would not have occured so early without the influence of Grace himself).