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McGrath = a little overrated these days

Francis

State Vice-Captain
I didn't want to put this in the McGrath tribute thread since it would seem inappropriate. I am a huge fan of Glenn McGrath and consider him one of the best I've seen. I enjoy his bowling and his best efforts against the likes of Brian Lara etc. Can't say enough of how much enjoyment he's given me as a cricket fan.

That said, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think he was a tiny bit overrated these days. Recently CW conducted a poll asking who the greatest fast bowler ever was, and McGrath IIRC was 2nd on that poll behind Malcolm Marshall. That sort of suprised me since I don't think McGrath has done anything someone like Richard Hadlee couldn't have done.

And while it doesn't occur often, McGrath did have times where his limitations prevented him from taking crucial wickets. By limitations I mean the things McGrath himself mentioned when he retired - a lack of pace, inability to get the ball swinging much etc. Don't get me wrong, these things were 9/10 offset by his incredible accuracy, ability to read batsmen and the ability to seam the ball both ways. Believe me, I know this is a picky excercise to single out one of two flaws which are borderline insignificant.

But there have been times when I've seen McGrath on poor pitches (hey every bowler in history had done poorly on unreceptive wickets from time to time) and thought, "if he had a bouncer like Wasim Akram, and could extract bounce off the wicket like Dennis Lillee, he might be able to unsettle the batsman and better work out his technique. Right now his line and length isn't quite enough." And trust me, I rarely thought that - it only happened rarely.

And for all his strengths:
Was he really anymore accurate that someone like Richard Hadlee?
Did he really read batsmen any better than Marcolm Marshall?
Did he take wickets faster than most fast bowling greats?

I'm far from being someone who likes to use stats - in fact I hate them. But if you are a stats man, then his strike-rate, average etc really aren't that better than say, Allan Donald. McGrath went for longer of course... but just regular stats indicate he wasn't a standout from other great. If you are a stats man (and like I said, I'm not) then you can look at his stats and say, "yep, one of the best ever." But could you say, "definitely the best ever"?

The crux of my argument is this:

McGrath has done things that only the best ever have done. Making him one of the best ever. But there are a good number of "greats" like Allan Donald, Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan etc with exactly that same looking stats. Some with better strike-rates, others with slightly worse averages (honestly, 1 or two runs per wicket mean nothing). So how can anybody be confident he's one of the five best bowlers ever, let alone the best bowler ever, which many of you think he is.

No less, in my experience in seeing him bowl, he'd rarely but occasionally, have a bad day because he lacked certain aspects of fast bowling which could have been useful. He didn't have a scary bouncer or great pace, and he couldn't swing the ball both ways like many others could. He rarely incorporated cutters etc. And rarely did he need to. However, the fact is I could see someone like Akram coming and taking the vital wicket McGrath desperately needed during some vital games.

I'd like to say I rate McGrath one of the five best bowlers ever. That I don't feel confident in stating because my number 6, Wasim Akram, could very well have been better. But it's important for me to say I think McGrath is a freak, one of the 20 best cricketers ever IMO, and someone I'm very thankful for having seen.
 

NUFAN

Y no Afghanistan flag
20 best cricketers ever and you still think he's overrated. Do you mean he's over rated these days as in today and yesterday? Because two days ago he was the leading wicket taker in the World Cup mate..

In polls people always vote for current players over past players in a tight decision, it's just the way it is.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
I urge all people to actually read properly the first post before making judgments. I read the title and had all intentions of coming in here and replying with "dire" - but after I read the post, I could see where he was coming from. He's not saying that McGrath was crap, or that he isn't a great bowler - simply that, while many seem to rate him in the top 4 or 5 fast bowlers, he does not - and he actually backs that up fairly well given the points he gives. I haven't really been following cricket for long enough to really dispute or agree with his claims as I haven't seen enough of the other bowlers he mentioned, but I'm not going to reply with "dire" as I first intended. Fair post IMO.
 

social

Hall of Fame Member
I've been fortunate enough to see most of the great bowlers from mid-70s on (some by tape) and McGrath is at least the equal of all of them because he makes the incredibly difficult seem mundane - namely, whilst he wasnt the quickest, didnt swing it much, didnt have advantage of raised seams, played on the flattest decks etc etc, he got the best players out cheaply and as a matter of routine
 

Francis

State Vice-Captain
I've been fortunate enough to see most of the great bowlers from mid-70s on (some by tape) and McGrath is at least the equal of all of them because he makes the incredibly difficult seem mundane -


he got the best players out cheaply and as a matter of routine
I definitely appreciate your post because you've been exposed to seeing many of the best bowlers ever. The one thing I can say is that I would have seen as much McGrath as you and like I said, there have been times where his minor (and mostly insignifciant) limitations prevented him from getting crucial wickets. Even McGrath bowling at his best, taking 30 wickets in the Carribean in 1999 (I think it was 30) in a four test series, couldn't get Lara out. Of course Lara at his best is as good as anybody, but he'd just nullify McGrath by shuffling across the crease, and expressing himself with his feet in all different ways. Of course McGrath got him out once or twice, but not before Lara made a match winning innings etc.

I had the same feeling when Lara made that double century in Adelaide. McGrath only bowled him when Lara decided he could go for a rash stroke. McGrath was never on top of him. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh since it's Lara I'm talking about, but as good as Lara was, there's no way he could defend that yorker Waquar Younis once famously bowled to him. No way. It's the same with Wasim Akram.

If you think McGrath is the best, that's fine since you're entitled to your own opinion. But there were rare times when McGrath couldn't get batsmen out "cheaply" as you say. I say this because I've seen it happen from time to time.

I never got to see much Dennis Lillee (I've seen plenty of highlights, and a few olden day Tests and he was sensational)... nor can I claim to have seen much Marshall, Hadlee and Imran is such a foggy moment... but I can claim to have seen plenty of Wasim Akram, Allan Donald and Curtley Amrbose, and all three of those bowlers had at least one thing McGrath didn't have. And while I think McGrath may be greater than all three of them (I said "may"), there were times when I could see them succeeding while McGrath was struggling.
 

Francis

State Vice-Captain
Do you mean he's over rated these days as in today and yesterday? Because two days ago he was the leading wicket taker in the World Cup mate..
Even before the world cup when people were calling McGrath too old etc there were people saying he's the best ever though. Many hold that opinion regardless of his form.

In polls people always vote for current players over past players in a tight decision, it's just the way it is.
'Tis a good point there.

[edit]

but I can claim to have seen plenty of Wasim Akram, Allan Donald and Curtley Amrbose, and all three of those bowlers had at least one thing McGrath didn't have.
Someone will eventually ask me what these are. So I thought I'd get it out of the way.

Ambrose had more height, making it troublesome for batsman to gauge his bounce. Ambrose was just better at extracting bounce off the pitch. He also had a better yorker and bouncer.

Donald had more pace and could swing the ball. He also had a better slower ball.

Akram could swing the ball both ways of course. He had a tougher bowling action to pick. Had a nasty bouncer and he also had more pace.
 
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Sanz

Hall of Fame Member
And for all his strengths:
Was he really anymore accurate that someone like Richard Hadlee?
Did he really read batsmen any better than Marcolm Marshall?
Did he take wickets faster than most fast bowling greats?
Unfair - You are basically comparing 3 bowlers combined against one man. He may not have been the best bowler, but he sure was the most successful bowler I have watched.
 

social

Hall of Fame Member
I've been fortunate enough to see most of the great bowlers from mid-70s on (some by tape) and McGrath is at least the equal of all of them because he makes the incredibly difficult seem mundane -




I definitely appreciate your post because you've been exposed to seeing many of the best bowlers ever. The one thing I can say is that I would have seen as much McGrath as you and like I said, there have been times where his minor (and mostly insignifciant) limitations prevented him from getting crucial wickets. Even McGrath bowling at his best, taking 30 wickets in the Carribean in 1999 (I think it was 30) in a four test series, couldn't get Lara out. Of course Lara at his best is as good as anybody, but he'd just nullify McGrath by shuffling across the crease, and expressing himself with his feet in all different ways. Of course McGrath got him out once or twice, but not before Lara made a match winning innings etc.

I had the same feeling when Lara made that double century in Adelaide. McGrath only bowled him when Lara decided he could go for a rash stroke. McGrath was never on top of him. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh since it's Lara I'm talking about, but as good as Lara was, there's no way he could defend that yorker Waquar Younis once famously bowled to him. No way. It's the same with Wasim Akram.

If you think McGrath is the best, that's fine since you're entitled to your own opinion. But there were rare times when McGrath couldn't get batsmen out "cheaply" as you say. I say this because I've seen it happen from time to time.

I never got to see much Dennis Lillee (I've seen plenty of highlights, and a few olden day Tests and he was sensational)... nor can I claim to have seen much Marshall, Hadlee and Imran is such a foggy moment... but I can claim to have seen plenty of Wasim Akram, Allan Donald and Curtley Amrbose, and all three of those bowlers had at least one thing McGrath didn't have. And while I think McGrath may be greater than all three of them (I said "may"), there were times when I could see them succeeding while McGrath was struggling.
Lara played beautifully in many innings in '99 but McGrath's haul of 30 wickets at 16 in 4 tests indicates that others up the other end didnt do their job - if you remember, Warne was dropped during this series on his return from injury

In any event, we are talking about two of the greatest ever here and it was only natural that they'd each achieve a degree of success against each other

IMO, Akram was probably the most talented that I've seen - high pace, swung it each way, and left-handed = batsman's nightmare (his spell in the WC Final of '92 still counts amongst my favourite cricket performances) But he also had a chronic no-ball problem and wasnt particularly accurate AND was notoriously temperamental

Ambrose was very similar to McGrath but possibly more negative in that he very, very rarely pitched anything up

Donald was quicker but less accurate and didnt get the bounce

Marshall and Imran swung it more (and both ways)

As with Lara, we're splitting hairs and I wont begrudge anyone their favourites although personally I think both Lillee and Hadlee were, if anything, a tad overrated.

In summary, McGrath for mine is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, bowlers ever and I dont think that that's overrating him at all
 
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Ikki

Hall of Fame Member
I think McGrath is one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. I refrain from calling him THE best fast bowler because of Lillee and Marshall - and to very slightly lesser extent Hadlee.

McGrath is synonomous with consistency. Consistently gets the best batsmen out; consistent upper-order demolisher; consistent wicket taker no matter what pitch; consistently unforgiving in accuracy. When you do all those and more again and again and again, then you are consistently a great great bowler.
 

Francis

State Vice-Captain
Unfair - You are basically comparing 3 bowlers combined against one man. He may not have been the best bowler, but he sure was the most successful bowler I have watched.
OK...

Was he really anymore accurate that someone like Richard Hadlee?
Did he read batsmen any better than Richard Hadlee?
Did he take wickets faster than Richard Hadlee?

Was he really anymore accurate than someone like Malcolm Marshall?
Did he really read batsmen any better than Marcolm Marshall?
Did he take wickets faster than Malcolm Marshall?

He may have been the most successful bowler you've watched... but have you seen Marshall, Lillee, Hadlee, Wasim, Ambrose? Maybe you have, but if you have McGrath really wasn't much more successful than Akram, if more successful at all...
 

Nishant

International 12th Man
McGrath is one of the most consistent bowlers you will ever see TBH....thats why he will always be a legend! But, i think he is getting a bit more attension because he retired at the end of the WC...
 

adharcric

International Coach
Francis said:
Was he really anymore accurate that someone like Richard Hadlee?
Did he read batsmen any better than Richard Hadlee?
Did he take wickets faster than Richard Hadlee?
Even if he was on par with Hadlee in all three categories, he did it on batsman-friendly surfaces.
Francis said:
Was he really anymore accurate than someone like Malcolm Marshall?
Did he really read batsmen any better than Marcolm Marshall?
Did he take wickets faster than Malcolm Marshall?
Most people have Marshall 1, McGrath 2.
Francis said:
McGrath really wasn't much more successful than Akram, if more successful at all...
Pretty sure he was.
 

Francis

State Vice-Captain
Pretty sure they're about even. Wasim might have a better strike-rate and McGrath a better average... something like that. Reagrdless they're both close. And please, no pedantic "McGrath's average is better by two" arguments. My goodness that is such an insignificant difference.
 

Craig

World Traveller
I know it is is impossible, but what I wouldn't give (**** off Cameron, Voltman and all the other vultures) to see him bowl to Ricky Ponting in a Test match.

Good thread, well thought out.
 

Craig

World Traveller
I know it is is impossible, but what I wouldn't give (**** off Cameron, Voltman and all the other vultures) to see him bowl to Ricky Ponting in a Test match.

Good thread, well thought out.
 

adharcric

International Coach
Pretty sure they're about even. Wasim might have a better strike-rate and McGrath a better average... something like that. Reagrdless they're both close. And please, no pedantic "McGrath's average is better by two" arguments. My goodness that is such an insignificant difference.
We had a Wasim vs McGrath debate on here in the past and I recall McGrath being clearly ahead of Wasim, especially when taking top-order wickets, etc into account.
 

silentstriker

The Wheel is Forever
I didn't want to put this in the McGrath tribute thread since it would seem inappropriate. I am a huge fan of Glenn McGrath and consider him one of the best I've seen. I enjoy his bowling and his best efforts against the likes of Brian Lara etc. Can't say enough of how much enjoyment he's given me as a cricket fan.

That said, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think he was a tiny bit overrated these days. Recently CW conducted a poll asking who the greatest fast bowler ever was, and McGrath IIRC was 2nd on that poll behind Malcolm Marshall. That sort of suprised me since I don't think McGrath has done anything someone like Richard Hadlee couldn't have done.

And while it doesn't occur often, McGrath did have times where his limitations prevented him from taking crucial wickets. By limitations I mean the things McGrath himself mentioned when he retired - a lack of pace, inability to get the ball swinging much etc. Don't get me wrong, these things were 9/10 offset by his incredible accuracy, ability to read batsmen and the ability to seam the ball both ways. Believe me, I know this is a picky excercise to single out one of two flaws which are borderline insignificant.

But there have been times when I've seen McGrath on poor pitches (hey every bowler in history had done poorly on unreceptive wickets from time to time) and thought, "if he had a bouncer like Wasim Akram, and could extract bounce off the wicket like Dennis Lillee, he might be able to unsettle the batsman and better work out his technique. Right now his line and length isn't quite enough." And trust me, I rarely thought that - it only happened rarely.

And for all his strengths:
Was he really anymore accurate that someone like Richard Hadlee?
Did he really read batsmen any better than Marcolm Marshall?
Did he take wickets faster than most fast bowling greats?

I'm far from being someone who likes to use stats - in fact I hate them. But if you are a stats man, then his strike-rate, average etc really aren't that better than say, Allan Donald. McGrath went for longer of course... but just regular stats indicate he wasn't a standout from other great. If you are a stats man (and like I said, I'm not) then you can look at his stats and say, "yep, one of the best ever." But could you say, "definitely the best ever"?

The crux of my argument is this:

McGrath has done things that only the best ever have done. Making him one of the best ever. But there are a good number of "greats" like Allan Donald, Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan etc with exactly that same looking stats. Some with better strike-rates, others with slightly worse averages (honestly, 1 or two runs per wicket mean nothing). So how can anybody be confident he's one of the five best bowlers ever, let alone the best bowler ever, which many of you think he is.

No less, in my experience in seeing him bowl, he'd rarely but occasionally, have a bad day because he lacked certain aspects of fast bowling which could have been useful. He didn't have a scary bouncer or great pace, and he couldn't swing the ball both ways like many others could. He rarely incorporated cutters etc. And rarely did he need to. However, the fact is I could see someone like Akram coming and taking the vital wicket McGrath desperately needed during some vital games.

I'd like to say I rate McGrath one of the five best bowlers ever. That I don't feel confident in stating because my number 6, Wasim Akram, could very well have been better. But it's important for me to say I think McGrath is a freak, one of the 20 best cricketers ever IMO, and someone I'm very thankful for having seen.
Dire.
 

silentstriker

The Wheel is Forever
OK, so not really ;).

That said, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think he was a tiny bit overrated these days. Recently CW conducted a poll asking who the greatest fast bowler ever was, and McGrath IIRC was 2nd on that poll behind Malcolm Marshall. That sort of suprised me since I don't think McGrath has done anything someone like Richard Hadlee couldn't have done.
Hadlee comparison is not really on due to the fact that (and Hadlee was easily a top five all time bowler) McGrath bowled on completely different pitches and unlike Hadlee, he didn't have tailor made pitches in every test. You see how good McGrath is at a place like Lord's, right (though thats the slope)? Imagine that but for every home test....

Francis said:
And while it doesn't occur often, McGrath did have times where his limitations prevented him from taking crucial wickets. By limitations I mean the things McGrath himself mentioned when he retired - a lack of pace, inability to get the ball swinging much etc. Don't get me wrong, these things were 9/10 offset by his incredible accuracy, ability to read batsmen and the ability to seam the ball both ways. Believe me, I know this is a picky excercise to single out one of two flaws which are borderline insignificant.
But really, that's a strength, not a weakness. Other great bowlers would be hampered to a much more significant degree than McGrath because they wouldn't be as accurate. Certain bowlers rely primarily on blasting people out, and others more on swing, but if they lost their bread and butter ability, they would still be effective if they were all time greats, but not like McGrath. That's because McGrath's primary strength did not depend on the pitch. Look at his record in a place like India.

Francis said:
But there have been times when I've seen McGrath on poor pitches (hey every bowler in history had done poorly on unreceptive wickets from time to time) and thought, "if he had a bouncer like Wasim Akram, and could extract bounce off the wicket like Dennis Lillee, he might be able to unsettle the batsman and better work out his technique. Right now his line and length isn't quite enough." And trust me, I rarely thought that - it only happened rarely.
But it's not like Lillee was always effective on flat pitches either. They were completely different bowlers, and though I am willing to accept that McGrath did not have certain things like the bouncer that others might have had, he more than made it up with his amazing other abilities, such as subtle changes of length (imperceptible to the batsman due to his accuracy and action, which is what made it lethal).

Francis said:
Was he really anymore accurate that someone like Richard Hadlee?
Yes, he was. Hadlee had other tools that made him amazing, but in terms of accuracy, there has not really been anyone that can consistently match him.

Francis said:
]Did he really read batsmen any better than Marcolm Marshall?
At least as much, I think. McGrath didn't have Marshall's lethal bouncer or express pace, so had to rely on reading batsmen, and the fact that records are close despite having less pace and bowling on crap wickets definitely puts him ahead in this regard.

Francis said:
Did he take wickets faster than most fast bowling greats?
He took them at about the same rate as most. The problem is that unlike most of the greats, he bowled on much worse wickets. You take that into account, and he probably is better than 'most fast bowling greats'. You choose not to take that into account, and he is still competitive with the best of them.

Francis said:
I'm far from being someone who likes to use stats - in fact I hate them.
I love stats, and I think that they are incredibly important in Tests, but even I realize that they do not form a complete picture. You have to judge him against his peers, and since 2000-on, there has been no contest.

Francis said:
And rarely did he need to. However, the fact is I could see someone like Akram coming and taking the vital wicket McGrath desperately needed during some vital games.
That's a very iffy argument, because for every wicket Akram could have taken, McGrath took a couple that he couldn't have. Just look at his top order wicket ratio for proof.
 

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