Originally Posted by Eds
And we don't agree, hence the posts arguing as such. It's definitely not "dissing him" to suggest he shouldn't be in someone's top five - he has 78 Test wickets @ 28.35.
To be one of the greatest bowlers of all-time you need to dominate all levels. Larwood was extremely effective during the bodyline series, but at the end of the day, the likes of Marshall, McGrath, Ambrose, Lillee, Donald, Holding, Garner etc. were all better at taking more wickets for less runs. And that's what cricket's about.
You could argue his stats are tainted by a number of factors (Bradman, for one), but looking at other bowlers from the same timeframe, such as Gubby Allen (81 @ 29.37), Ken Farnes (60 @ 28.65), Bill Bowes (68 @ 22.33) and George Geary (46 @ 29.41) - they've all got extremely familiar records. Why do we not consider Bowes an ATG? Or Farnes?
I'm not arguing against the impact Larwood/Jardine/bodyline had on the game, and I rate the aforementioned duo higher than most, I'm just speechless you could even consider him as one of the best bowlers ever. Just doesn't sit well with me.
I've never been one of those people who look at the stats much as they can often be twisted and turned to prove just about any point. As I said, his FC stats were exceptionally good and there is a fairly large gulf between them and his test stats which, as you yourself pointed out, do not necessarily tell the whole story. I could pick someone like John Ferris and his stats are just incredible, but in all honesty, he could just be an over-hyped version of Ajantha Mendis for all we know. I find actual accounts of how good a player is to be a better measure on the whole.
This isn't really about picking the best players for an all time XI and I don't see how you could tell someone that Larwood isn't good enough to make a fictional side. By all accounts he was very quick and accurate and I think we can probably guess that he could bowl a reasonably accurate bouncer. He's also considered an ATG by most people and if I remember correctly he was even picked for an England All-time XI on Cricinfo. If someone wants to pick him ahead of another player on the basis of his skills for this exercise, I don't see why they shouldn't be able to. There is reasonable evidence to support his quality as a bowler from plenty of eyewitness accounts.