Originally Posted by rvd619323
Tate and Larwood were totally different bowlers however. In all likelihood, the similarities end in saying they were both Englishmen who bowled seam up.
I'm a fan of Tate (especially having read Ray Robinson's fantastic account of him in Between Wickets), and I would argue he is an ATG bowler in his own right. But he was employed to bowl a lot of overs, off a shorter run and at far less pace than Larwood. Geary, according to a quick wikipedia search, was also in the workhorse mould - he wasn't an out-and-out quick being called upon regularly exceed his normal workload.
In terms of 'what ifs' and 'potential', does that not rule out Barry Richards and Mike Procter from calculations? They both had one good series and dominated domestic cricket and have their names thrown up into ATG contention.
Just as a statistical aside (because I hate stats picking and whatnot), if you remove his returns from the two games he played ill, his average drops to 25.67 - ahead of the Allen's and Voce's, and not that far inferior to Bowes and Tate of his era. Obviously it is meddling with statistics, so take it with a grain of salt, but very rarely these days do you see bowlers playing when sick.
Most of the time when you evaluate someone's career, when it had been ended well before the player retired, it comes down to a lack of performance or form that drove them out of Test cricket. In the case of people like Larwood, Verity (who was tragically killed in the war), Procter and Richards - who were more victims of circumstance than performance - the underlying situation obviously has to be taken into account. You often hear of the latter two being cut off in their prime by Apartheid, but rarely is a similar methodology applied to the two former.
An average of 25.67 is a very good average for a fast bowler. But it is nothing out of the ordinary. If Larwoood were born in the West Indies, and played during the 1970s-80s he would be just another quick queing up behind Andy Roberts.
What sets Larwood apart from the rest of the pack is pure luck - in other words, right man, right place, right time. Not his ability to get a cricket ball from Point A to Point B any better than 20 or so other fast bowlers from history.
Fred Trueman, John Snow, or Bob Willis could have done exactly the same job that Larwood did in the 1930s. No problem at all.