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Thread: Sobers - A Batting Allrounder?!

  1. #1
    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    Sobers - A Batting Allrounder?!

    I recently discovered that Sobers averages more than Jacques Kallis with the ball (34 to 31).

    Time and again I hear that Sobers was the most balanced allrounder that ever lived. Frankly, I'm amazed that this hasn't been scrutinised to great extent in this forum.

    Can anyone explain to me what set apart Sobers' bowling?
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    International Captain Deja moo's Avatar
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    Dunno. Perhaps because he could bowl almost everything..
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    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    Well, wouldn't that make his bowling average lower? He could use any conditions to his advantage!

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    Cricketer Of The Year Burpey's Avatar
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    An average of 34 isn't all that bad, seeing he could bowl pace and spin, and was one of the best batsman of all time.


  5. #5
    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    If anyone else had that average, even with the variations, they would have been forgotten in history. (Colin Miller?)

    His bowling was almost as touted as his batting.

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    Cricketer Of The Year Burpey's Avatar
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    I guess also stats don't always tell the full story. I'd rather take the word of many cricket experts who saw him play rather than his stats, which I still think aren't all that bad.

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    C_C
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    Sobers wasnt an alltime great bowler( like he was an alltime great batsman) but he most definately was an excellent bowler.
    His medium-fast bowling was quite formidable. ( where he did significantly better than bowling spin- he used to open the bowling sometimes, in front of excellent pacers such as Wes Hall) and his mediocre average is heavily influenced by him bowling spin bowling, where he often bowled flat and full, trying to buy a wicket and when fatigued - he did bowl nearly 40 overs a match often after batting for several hours)
    Overall, i would view( from what i've read and the very little clips that i've seen of him) Sobers as someone with the pace callibre of Gillespie and spin callibre of Giles, just that he bowled spin a lot more than pace.
    One has to remember that WI didnt have a particularly strong bowling attack in Sobers' days and Sobers had to bowl a lot more frequently than Kallis - who bowls only half as much as Sobers does.
    Couple it with the fact that Sobers was excellent against the strongest bowling lineups of his time ( as opposed to Kallis, who's record is rather average against McGrath-Warne/Wasim-Waqar/Ambrose-Walsh/Murali-Vaas) and any overall statistical comparison goes out of the window. Couple that with the fact that he was easily one of the best fielders/catchers in cricket and it is easy to see why he is considered the best allrounder in cricket by a considerable margin.
    Last edited by C_C; 16-12-2005 at 06:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Virat Kohli (c) Jono's Avatar
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    I think there was a discussion held between Thierry Henry and Faaip in regards to this.
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    Hall of Fame Member FaaipDeOiad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono
    I think there was a discussion held between Thierry Henry and Faaip in regards to this.
    Yeah.

    Basically, my view of Sobers is similar to C_Cs. I argued the points in a bit more depth in "the greats" thread, but...

    Sobers is a better bowler than he would appear because of his average, for several reasons. First and foremost he is one of the few players for whom the idea that they could have done better in one discipline if they could have concentrated on it is genuinely true. Sobers was not just a batsman who bowled, he was a batsman who was a specialist bowler. Not only did he bowl 40 overs a test (which stands up well against any specialist), but he was also one of the most prolific wicket takers of his time. Indeed, I believe in the entire decade of the 1960s, only Graham McKenzie took more wickets. He played alongside some great bowlers, was comfortably the greatest batsman of his generation and arguably the second best of all time, and STILL led virtually the entire world in wicket taking. This is an utterly remarkable feat, that nobody else in history can even come remotely close to.

    Given these credentials, obviously one would ask why his average is relatively high compared to other bowlers of his time. I think C_C found the major reasons for this, which are to do with simple fatigue and the fact that his multiple abilities with the ball and the weakness of his bowling support forced him to fill roles in the team that he was unsuited to at times. Sobers was certainly a better medium pacer than spin bowler, but was required to bowl spin because a) his team often had no other quality spin options, especially late in the game on pitches more inclined to deterioration than todays, and b) it was far less stressful on his body, for a guy who batted for hours on end, fielded first slip and captained the team, as well as bowling 40 overs a test. Sobers was a passable spin bowler, a very good medium pacer, a brilliant fielder and one of the greatest ever batsmen.

    To compare him as a bowler to Jacques Kallis and claim that Kallis is superior because of his average is simply ludicrous, and shows an unwillingness to take anything into account beyond the raw numbers, and even those raw numbers in only the simplest possible fashion. Kallis was a good bowler early in his career, when he was a poorer batsman than he is today, and was effective as a genuine seam option for his captain, and his record early in his career reflects that. He was never however a prolific wicket taker. He filled in overs in a strong attack boasting guys like De Villiers, Donald, Pollock, McMillan and Kluesener, and if he didn't have a good day he simply didn't bowl. As his career has progressed, this has become the case more and more, where now he virtually never bowls unless it is in swing-friendly conditions against Zimbabwe. If Kallis was, next week in the second test, forced to open the bowling and bowl 20-30 overs in an innings, he would be slaughtered, and if he was forced to do it every match his average would soon skyrocket. Similarly, if Sobers had the luxury of bowling only when it suited, only his preferred style of bowling in the conditions, and only when he wasn't being played with ease, his average would sit comfortably below 30.

    They are simply impossible to compare with averages alone.
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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    It would be interesting to see a comparsion of Sir Gaz bowling seam up with himself in spinning mode. I'd guess this would be next to impossible to produce tho as I'd doubt a full record of what he was bowling as in any given over even exists. Pity. It'd be nice to see if it confirmed the received wisdom.

    Comparing across the generations is largely facile in my opinion as we often aren't comparing like for like. The most one can reasonably expect of any sportsman is that they're the best of their era & Sobers was certainly that. Kallis was probably the premier all-rounder of his generation until Flintoff's emergence, but now seems a very unwilling bowler to me. Given his injuries & high order spot I guess it is understandable, but I can't abide the bloke really so I'm inclined to see it as a character flaw on his part!

    I think what makes Sobers & Kallis unique in those lists of "best ever all-rounder" that we cricket tragics are so fond of is that had either of them never bowled a ball they'd both a up there as all-time greats for their batting alone. For most all-rounders with any prentension to the "genuine" prefix bowling is their stronger suit.
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    SJS
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    A few points to consider :

    1. To understand Sobers bowling over his career we must first keep in mind the span of time it covered - 20 years ! Lets have a modern day bowlers, particularly a new ball bowler, bowl over twenty years and then see what the stats look like. We can be pretty sure the difference with sobers average will not appear that glaring.

    2. His career needs to be divided into three parts really of thirty tests each (33 in the last one-third). Each of these cover between 6 to 8 years each -1954 to 60, 1960 to 67 and 1968 to 1974.

    In the first period Sobers did not bowl much. About a dozen over per innings. He used to bat higher up the order and bowled in frequently and sometimes never.

    During this period he took just 31 wickets in 30 test matches. Forget a batting all rounder, this wouldnt qualify him for any type of all rounder.

    The next period saw him bowling much more. He added more variety to his bowling and sent down almost twice as many overs (45) per test match with nearly 4 wkts per test(total 113) at under 29 each.

    The last 33 test brought him another 93 wickets. During most of this time he was captain of a declining side with poor bowling resources and he had to bowl longer which he probably wouldnt have if he had Lloyd's bowling resources. He was much more economical giving away under 2 runs per over in the second half of this period but the bowling average went up to 35.

    During 1960-1974 he took 204 wickets at 31.6 each at a strike rate of 80. This is not bad when you recall that he started his career way back in 1954.

    Yes he was a batting all rounder but he was not a run of the mill bowler as his stats may show at a cursory examination.

    I personally feel his bowling failed to fulfill his enormous talent because he tried to bowl too many things. Pace and spin is bad enough but try asking Warne to bowl off spin and Murali conventional leg spin and see what happens to their shoulders as well as their figures. This is what he was doing by bowling chinamen alongwith conventional left arm leg spin.

    Its okay when a part time bowler like sachin does something like this for 4-5 overs once in a while but for a serious test match bowler, this was too much. It gave him the tag of a bowler who could bowl every thing but I suspect it denied him the mastery of a particular type of bowling over a long period.

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    Banned Pratters's Avatar
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    A career break up of Kallis' bowling also has to be done I think for us to analyse it properly.

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    Banned Blaze's Avatar
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    Yeah I would be interested to see Sobers separate pace stats and spin stats.

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    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze
    Yeah I would be interested to see Sobers separate pace stats and spin stats.
    Yes. That would be great to see but impossible to get. He bowled both in the same spell at times, forget same innings

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    Cricketer Of The Year Anil's Avatar
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    comparing kallis to sobers is just ridiculous, stats be damned....
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