Originally Posted by Flametree
But Bill Bowes has an even better first class average and a test average of 22, and no-one picks him in their best all-time England sides.... Maurice Tate is another who averaged sub-20 in first class cricket but had (much) better test figures than Larwood.
Because the game isn't all about statistics.
On CW we tend to rule by the numbers - a bowler with an average .02 runs lower must be exponentially better than the other, X didn't perform in India so Y gets the gig, if we adjust Stat A for era and narrow it down to matches beginning on a Wednesday Bowler X has a hole in his record, so Bowler Y gets selected - it ends up getting completely ridiculous.
There's an element of the rose tint, sure, but what would humans be as a species without romanticism? Why can't we look back at a man like Larwood, who bowled with fire before bowling with fire was cool, and rate him above a bowler with a slightly better average? Why can't we look past the numbers and see that he tamed Bradman, that his career was cut hopelessly short by injury and administrators? Why must we be ruled by the statistics?
If we were purely ruled by numbers, how boring would selecting XIs be? Where would the game be? "So, promising young bowler A paid 27 runs per wicket in the CC this year. Old County Pro B paid 26. He gets the gig".
Larwood had an aura about him that no other bowler can match. His name struck fear into batsmen, and he changed the game forever. Forget the statistics, forget bowling averages. He reformed cricket in a way no bowler ever has, or ever will do.
Its another reason why Frank Worrell always makes my WI All Time XI. His value is far more than can be expressed in statistical analysis. Larwood is the same.
Ask Tangy, ask Jager. Ask any of the Larwood supporters and I'm sure they'll agree (at least to an extent). The statistics of Harold Larwood paint a picture wholly different to reality. He cannot be expressed in numbers (as beautiful as mathematics is).
In my mind, he was the greatest bowler of all time, bar none. And no amount of numbers being thrown at me will change my mind. Ever.