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Thread: Quality of wickets

  1. #1
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend honestbharani's Avatar
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    Quality of wickets

    Yeah, we need to discuss this.


    What exactly do people mean by "quality" wickets? The April edition of "Cricinfo" magazine defined "quality" wickets as that of bonafide batsmen (guys who can/have scored test hundreds) who were dismissed for less than their career average at that point. Simplistic enough, because they only considered the top 7. So what happens when someone like Lara bats at 8, which he did against Australia once when he was down with chicken pox? It is quite often that a player gets injured during the course of the match and therefore bats lower down the order, because he had not been on the field long enough. So, does an injured batsman not count as a quality wicket? But then again, with guys like Lara, Ponting, Dravid, Kallis, Inzy, Sachin etc.... ARen't these guys better than most other batsmen even when they are injured? That is one problem.


    The next problem is, if we go by the methodology adopted by cricinfo, we are not differentiating between wickets that a bowler actually earns and wickets that a bowler just gets, due to an unforced error from a batsman (to borrow a term from tennis). In the Aus Vs Bangladesh thread, Got_Spin claimed that even though MacGill took 8 wickets, they were not "quality" wickets. If they weren't "quality" wickets, why did the likes of Lee, Gillespie, Clark and most astoundingly of all, Warne, struggle to get them out? Surely, it is not as simple as that.


    For instance, let us consider two wickets that Warne has taken recently. ONe was Rafique today morning, and the other is Andrew Strauss in the Ashes. Rafique had taken 3 boundaries of Warne's earlier over and Warne threw the first one up outside the offstump. Rafique left it alone as there was a sweeper cover now and playing the shot might have been risky. The ball turned big, as it usually does when Warne bowls it. The very next ball, Warne anticipated an aggressive response from Rafique and bowled quicker, flatter and at the stumps. Sure enough, Rafique went for the sweep and was out plumb LBW. Contrast that with how he got Strauss out. Everyone AND THEIR MOTHER know that Warne turns the ball a long way, esp. into left handers from around the wicket. And yet, when Warney pitched one slightly short of a spinners' good length, Strauss moved across all 3 stumps and left the ball all alone to crash into his stumps. AS a kid here in India, one is always taught not to leave the ball when the stumps are exposed against a bowler who turns the ball big. IT was such a rookie mistake. So, which wicket would have given Warne more satisfaction? Sure, since it was the AShes and since it was an important wicket, he might rate Strauss' wicket higher, but in terms of using his skill, wouldn't Rafique's wicket give him more satisfaction, because it was a wicket that HE TOOK than one the batter gave away, which is what Strauss did?


    And to what extent can we consider the wickets taken against the minnows as "cheap" wickets? Surely, they can't be cheaper than the tailenders of the other test playing nations? I would rather see Pathan get the wickets of Ashraful, Bashar and Omar than say, the wickets of Hoggard, Ali and Mahmood. Surely these things have to be taken into account. EVeryone is easily rubbishing off Pathan's efforts against Bangladesh, but it was only one and a half years ago. It was almost the same side, and it WAS a flat wicket. Even Zaheer Khan scored a 75 there. So why are his wickets taken against them so easily disposed of? I mean, I guess these guys have lesser ability than the top order batsmen of the more experienced test playing nations, but just because of that, can we rubbish wickets taken against them? England in the mid 90s, for instance, were extremely poor players of spin in general. So should Warne's wickets against them during that period not count for anything as well? I would like to know all your views here, esp. the views of those who have been watching the game for a long while now, like LuckyEddie, SJS and a few others...



    PS: Please, PLEASE, do not turn this into a Warne Vs Murali debate. If anything, you guys can argue that Warne's wickets against Eng in mid 90s are just as important as his wickets against India and that Murali's wickets against Bangladesh and Zim are just as important as his wickets against Pakistan, for instance...
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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    Initial thought is that trying to break down and microanalyse quality of wickets in too much detail over the course of someone's career is a fool's errand. Probably the only sensible way to do so is to break it down in to proportion of wickets that were specialist batsman, as opposed to tail enders. There will be anomolies there - like Lara having chicken pox, but also in the other direction (Glenn McGrath batting out of his skin, or more likely someone like Warne who once set and in the right frame of mind can be a pretty good batsman at number 8). These things over any sensible period of time will generally even themselves out.

    Same thing in terms of getting wickets with rubbish balls. If you consistently take wickets with one variety of rubbish ball, its not really a rubbish ball, its a wicket taking delivery. If you fluke one, then its probably a fair compensation for an lbw, caught behind, batpad, whatever that should have gone your way but didn't.

    I think we shouldn't get too hung up on trying to quantify what is ultimately not ameanable to finite categorisation. You know if you watch a bowlers whole spell whether it was good or not. Bowlers who consistently bowl 'good' spells are doing their job.

    Not at all trying to suggest it isn't a topic worth debating by the way - just my take. others no doubt will be of a different mind.

  3. #3
    International Vice-Captain Jungle Jumbo's Avatar
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    You can only beat what is there to beat. If you bowl a ball which the batsman cannot play, then you cannot be discredited for it.

    If you want a more definitive view, then perhaps grade wickets something like this (whether tailender or star batsman):

    Lower Quality Wickets
    A poor ball which the batsman makes a mistake - the batsman gets himself out/no bowler imput.

    Medium Quality Wickets
    A continued spell of accurate but not testing bowling which results in the batsman making a mistake - the batsman gets himself out/small bowler imput.

    Higher Quality Wickets
    A good or average ball which pinpoints a batsman's weakness - batsmen makes long term error/large bowler imput.

    Top Quality Wickets
    An execeptional ball which would be almost unplayable for any batsman, set or fresh at the crease - possible batsman's mistake/large bowler imput.

    or, perhaps more relevant

    A continued spell of high-class bowling which may or may not result in forcing an error from the batsman, and not relying on any specific large technical deficiency from the batsman, although it may expose a small flaw in the batsman's technique.

    Nowhere near perfect, but I'm basically saying that a 'quality' wicket relies upon the bowler getting the batsman out, not the batsman getting himeslf out.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend honestbharani's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input, guys.


    The main reason I felt this has to be discussed is the Bangladesh issue. They make it sound almost as if the wickets taken against them shouldn't count. Like I pointed out, the way Warney worked out and got Rafique out today was out of the top drawer. So what if it is against Bangladesh. I would venture to guess that Rafique plays Warney better than most English lower order guys ever did. And even if he was that bad, it doesn't mean it was a poor wicket. Compared to a Strauss leaving a big spinning leg break stupidly to hit his stumps, this was a much better wicket, at least from a bowler's point of view. That is the issue that I think we need to discuss.

    And of course, the issue of getting wickets with loose balls. It always shows up whenever someone is discussing MacGill.


  5. #5
    Hall of Fame Member GotSpin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt79
    Same thing in terms of getting wickets with rubbish balls. If you consistently take wickets with one variety of rubbish ball, its not really a rubbish ball, its a wicket taking delivery. If you fluke one, then its probably a fair compensation for an lbw, caught behind, batpad, whatever that should have gone your way but didn't.
    So basically if a bowler is able to take wickets by full tosses and half-trackers they are deemed quality deliveries?

    Though a bowler may bowl a good delivery, a weaker team such as Zim or the bangladesh will generally fall to that delivery.

    IMO, a quality wicket is against a quality batsmen who is generally outplayed by the bowler through a combination of good fielding positions and tactics with one very good ball taking the wicket.

    Not wishing to turn this into a warne v murali thread as specifically asked, but though Murali may be bowling very well, it is against a lesser batsmen and diminshes the quality of the wicket. Same can be said for Warne against England in the 90's
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    International Vice-Captain Jungle Jumbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoT_SpIn
    So basically if a bowler is able to take wickets by full tosses and half-trackers they are deemed quality deliveries?
    As a leggie who messed up his run-up and his action last year, yes, the long-hop is pretty effective so long as you bowl it with three back on the leg-side fence and have a long boundary. So many batsmen go for the big hit and hole out there.

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    Hall of Fame Member chaminda_00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jungle Jumbo
    As a leggie who messed up his run-up and his action last year, yes, the long-hop is pretty effective so long as you bowl it with three back on the leg-side fence and have a long boundary. So many batsmen go for the big hit and hole out there.
    Thats where tactics and fielding position come in.
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    Hall of Fame Member GotSpin's Avatar
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    I suppose, but at this standard of cricket that is really not going to work for very long.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    A wicket's a wicket for mine. Who's to know that when a bowler bowls a full toss or a long-hop outside off stump, he isn't going for a wicket? Everyone knows the 'sucker' ball gets wickets quite often. Good thread though.
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    International Vice-Captain open365's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jungle Jumbo
    You can only beat what is there to beat. If you bowl a ball which the batsman cannot play, then you cannot be discredited for it.

    If you want a more definitive view, then perhaps grade wickets something like this (whether tailender or star batsman):

    Lower Quality Wickets
    A poor ball which the batsman makes a mistake - the batsman gets himself out/no bowler imput.
    .
    But what if there was a definte plan to bowl a 'bad ball' and get the batsman out, like Hayden in the ashes of Yurvraj Singh in the recent test series?

    I reckon we should only go so far stats wise as to take a look at the amount of top 7 batsman dismissed against the major nations, anything more is too fallible and will not give a clear indication as to the skill of a paticular bowler.

    Nowadays, there aren't that many 'magic' deliveries bowled, most bowlers get their wickets by prolonged accurate spells or poor batsmanship, so to dis-count them because they didn't swing from leg to off or somehting is stupid.

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    SJS
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    One can go into great lengths and try and fix a the various things that may qualify as criteria towards a quality wicket but if I was to pin point a general one which could be applied across the board to any place and time and in Australia, England, Windies or the sub-continent. The first defines what a quality wicket should provide while the second really tells what will go towards making sure the first is achievable.

    1. Its important that the game should not be a lottery where scoring runs or getting wickets is a matter of pure chance or luck. Merit must be rewarded. ....So.

    - A really good bowling effort should be thwarted only by exceptional batting but by the wicket.

    - A really good batsman should be able to display his skills (not meaning just his shots but the complete compliment of skills of batsmanship) and he should be defeated by great bowling and not by the wicket.

    Note: Exceptions accepted in both cases but not as a rule

    2. The wicket must have a lifespan of five to six days during which it must change character progressively to allow the myriad skills that are possible in the game to be displayed if available.....So.

    - A wicket that has a life span of, say, ten days is unlikely to change much character over the five days of the game and will be a lottery (if not a graveyard) for bowlers.

    - A wicket that has a life span of, say, three days is likely to be a lottery(if not graveyard) for batsmen.

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    International Vice-Captain open365's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJS
    One can go into great lengths and try and fix a the various things that may qualify as criteria towards a quality wicket but if I was to pin point a general one which could be applied across the board to any place and time and in Australia, England, Windies or the sub-continent. The first defines what a quality wicket should provide while the second really tells what will go towards making sure the first is achievable.

    1. Its important that the game should not be a lottery where scoring runs or getting wickets is a matter of pure chance or luck. Merit must be rewarded. ....So.

    - A really good bowling effort should be thwarted only by exceptional batting but by the wicket.

    - A really good batsman should be able to display his skills (not meaning just his shots but the complete compliment of skills of batsmanship) and he should be defeated by great bowling and not by the wicket.

    Note: Exceptions accepted in both cases but not as a rule

    2. The wicket must have a lifespan of five to six days during which it must change character progressively to allow the myriad skills that are possible in the game to be displayed if available.....So.

    - A wicket that has a life span of, say, ten days is unlikely to change much character over the five days of the game and will be a lottery (if not a graveyard) for bowlers.

    - A wicket that has a life span of, say, three days is likely to be a lottery(if not graveyard) for batsmen.

    Er..nice post, but i don't think you've got the jist of the thread.


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    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by open365
    Er..nice post, but i don't think you've got the jist of the thread.

    Frankly, I didnt go through the entire thread. I just read a couple of sentences in the thread opener and thought it was aking for what contitutes a good/quality wicket.

    Maybe I should go back and read some more

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    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJS
    Frankly, I didnt go through the entire thread. I just read a couple of sentences in the thread opener and thought it was aking for what contitutes a good/quality wicket.

    Maybe I should go back and read some more
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    SJS
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    Okay. I have now read HB's original post in its entirety and have understood what I should have before I tried to be smart in the first place.

    I am not one of those who thinks that a quality wicket is necessarily one which gets a top order batsman. A great delivery is a great delivery whether bowled at Mike Gatting or Courtney Walsh. Sure, it may give greater satisfaction when it tricks a great player with all his skills and his experience but it is the same delivery which may get a tail ender. The fact that it was 'over-specified' for the tail ender doesnt make it any less a delivery.

    Yes as a a generalisation one can 'assume' that the top order batsmen would require higher quality of deliveries to be fooled by than those at the bottom but it doesnt ned any elaboration to suggest the great extent of exception that exist to such generalisation.

    You will get top order batsmen with ordinary deliveries and bowl great ones at tail enders and may or may not get a wicket.

    I am reminded of a great bowler who when his captain applauded him all the way for running through the opposition on a helpful wicket said, :I wish you would applaud me on the days when I bowl as well as this or better but end up with none for hundred or more" (or words to that effect)

    As far as whether the top 7 constitute the better batsmen. Well thats a safer assumption to make which is likely to be correct often enough to be used as a criteria to separate good batsmen from below average. The exceptions, in a big enough sample wont make much of a difference.

    But it is the defining of a wicket taking delivery as necessarily a good delivery that I have an issue with as I have with the assumption that a delivery that gets a quality batsman is necessarily a quality delivery as against one that gets a poor batsman.

    The QUALITY lies in the delivery and not in the wicket taken.

    What the bowlers do is BOWL quality DELIVERIES which sometimes do, and sometimes dont, get them wickets.. The quality of the batsman whose wicket falls does not determine the quality of the bowlers effort which is what they are trying to determine.

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