Warne, Lillee, Murali, Marshall, etc, all have records comparable with basically any other great you wish to name in their stead as the 'greatest'.
Sobers' bowling record, on the whole, is so far away from the plaudits it has gained that the suggestion can't be entertained by someone who appreciates the statistical nuances. I'll repeat:
When it comes to statistical arguments, you can often make a case that the batsman that averages 50 is better than the one which averages 55. The bowler that strikes at 60, is better than the one that strikes at 55. There are factors such as the pitch and opponent quality that make that a reasonable claim. These are estimations within reason. For Sobers, those things just don't wash and its a mystery why a record that is so beyond the commentary it has garnered still gets lauded by fans. Even those that never witnessed him play.
So I can clearly understand nuances in statistics which can favour a player here and there based on certain contexts. But no context that actually existed for Sobers can explain a career where for the majority of it you are bumping shoulders with the worst bowlers in Test history.
69 to retirement Sobers averaged 37 and struck @ 104 balls per wicket.
From 58-74 he averaged 33 and struck @ 91 balls per wicket.
Neither are what you would call effective compared to the average ratios of bowlers in his era.
If 61-68 is his peak, then 54-60 and 69-74 are his non-peak. His combined non-peak record is: 110 wickets, averaging 41, striking at 110 balls per wicket. This was his record for 60/93 tests and 13/20 years of playing cricket.
I think its time to rethink his bowling.
Yes, his ER is good...but if the best you can say about his bowling is that he was economical then that is a backhanded compliment. That's the kind of praise one gives to a part-timer. Not a front-line bowler or one who is considered one of the greatest all-rounders of all-time.Thankyou for the statistical comparison with Kallis. I place most importance on a bowler's ave. and think SR and ER secondary. Especially in tests. If a bowler's ave is acceptable but his SR high that infers his ER must be good. If his economy is poor, no matter, his SR is acceptable. Its a trade off and tells you what role your bowler plays.