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Slow Starters

Fraank Tyson - was he the best second innings bowler ever?

Slow Starters

When Martin posted his feature on Frank Tyson, it reminded me of his astonishing second-innings figures (Tyson’s, not Martin’s) – Tyson posted an incredible second-innings average of 9.58, as compared to his first-innings average of 29.08. I decided to take a look and see how unique he was in terms of raising his game for the second innings.

To begin I want to show you how disparate were Tyson’s first- and second-innings performances:-

Balls Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR 5fers
1st inns 2351 1018 35 29.08 2.59 67.2 0
2nd inns 1101 393 41 9.58 2.14 26.9 4

For comparison here are the figures of two of his pace-bowling colleagues, Brian Statham and Alec Bedser:-

Statham Balls Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR 5fers
1st inns 10062 3932 152 25.86 2.34 66.2 5
2nd inns 5994 2329 100 23.29 2.33 59.9 4

Bedser Balls Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR 5fers
1st inns 10716 3794 151 25.12 2.12 71.0 9
2nd inns 5202 2082 85 24.49 2.40 61.2 6

Statham and Bedser’s figures are more along the lines of what we would expect, i.e. pretty similar figures in both innings taking into account the fewer second innings bowled, with a slight improvement in the second due to gradually deteriorating wickets in the days of uncovered pitches. In the context of his peers Tyson’s second innings figures are truly amazing.

But I want to see just how amazing these figures are in context, which means lookng at everyone else’s performances and allowing for changes in performance by era. To determine the best second-innings performers I want to look at the main issues of averages, strike rate and wickets. I’m not convinced that Economy Rate tells us as much when taking into account timeless Tests and covered pitches since the early 1980s.

And so to business – here are the top second-innings Test performances of all-time in terms of average:-

Player 2IAvg
FH Tyson (Eng) 9.58
W Barnes (Eng) 9.96
JJ Ferris (Aus) 11.40
GA Lohmann (Eng) 13.70
FR Spofforth (Aus) 13.83
H Ironmonger (Aus) 13.97
R Peel (Eng) 14.25
G Ulyett (Eng) 14.66
S Haigh (Eng) 16.00
CTB Turner (Aus) 16.05

Most of the above (other than Tyson and Ironmonger) played in the 19th century – the next lowest post-WWII bowler after Tyson is Ernie Toshack, who played twelve Tests just after the war, culminating with the Invincibles tour of England in 1948 and enjoying a career Test second-innings average of 16.46. So Tyson really was quite special in terms of second innings performance alone. But, I hear you cry, the fifties was a relatively low-scoring era too! Which is true, and we’ll bring that into the equation later.

The above list, while impressive, is not really what I’m looking for, as I want to show which bowlers, like Tyson, performed signficantly better in the second innings. Below is a simple ratio of second to first innings averages, with some qualifications to remove the part-timers:-

Player AveRatio
FH Tyson (Eng) 3.035
AM Blignaut (Zim) 2.370
JC White (Eng) 2.359
W Barnes (Eng) 2.145
S Haigh (Eng) 2.063
CR Miller (Aus) 2.005
ARA Murray (SA) 1.983
RG Barlow (Eng) 1.974
Saleem Altaf (Pak) 1.959
JG Bracewell (NZ) 1.912

So Tyson is indeed miles ahead of the next best, Andy Blignaut and Jack White, but this list doesn’t really feature what we would consider top bowlers – there are many who have a poor first-innings average which leads to a favourable ratio, e.g. Jack White’s first-innings average is almost 50.

Lower down the list we can see the more widely used bowlers:-

AR Caddick (Eng) 1.781
FR Spofforth (Aus) 1.610
Fazal Mahmood (Pak) 1.555
BS Bedi (Ind) 1.553
H Trumble (Aus) 1.532
HH Streak (Zim) 1.495
Harbhajan Singh (Ind) 1.495
JH Kallis (SA) 1.455
CA Walsh (WI) 1.441
LR Gibbs (WI) 1.375
DL Underwood (Eng) 1.337
CV Grimmett (Aus) 1.300
Wasim Akram (Pak) 1.243
AA Donald (SA) 1.230
SK Warne (Aus) 1.227
A Kumble (Ind) 1.209
Waqar Younis (Pak) 1.204

Below this ratio we’re getting to the players whose averages for both innings are either almost equal, or whose first-innings average is significantly higher than that of their second innings. The latter group include:-

CEH Croft (WI) 0.593
GA Lohmann (Eng) 0.646
SF Barnes (Eng) 0.679
C Blythe (Eng) 0.771

Interesting to see both Barnes and Lohmann in there, though their averages for both innings are still low. Of course bowling averages in general were lower pre-WW1, however as we’re dealing with a ratio here that isn’t too much of an issue – the era-adjusted list is very similar to the unadjusted.

Next I want to look at Strike Rate – here are the lowest ever Strike Rates for the second-innings, again with some qualifiers:-

Player 2I-SR
FH Tyson (Eng) 26.9
AEE Vogler (SA) 32.1
FR Spofforth (Aus) 33.5
JJ Ferris (Aus) 33.5
W Barnes (Eng) 35.5
JV Saunders (Aus) 35.5
SE Bond (NZ) 36.1
Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 39.3
J Briggs (Eng) 39.8
W Bates (Eng) 39.8

Again this list has many bowlers from pre-WW1, but we can adjust for the changing strike rate over time and level the field by normalising to the overall second-innings strike rate of 66.7, after which we get the following list:-

Player Norm 2I-SR
FH Tyson (Eng) 23.1
SE Bond (NZ) 36.5
AEE Vogler (SA) 38.2
Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 38.3
Waqar Younis (Pak) 39.1
AR Caddick (Eng) 40.5
DW Steyn (SA) 40.6
MD Marshall (WI) 41.0
JJ Ferris (Aus) 41.8
AP Freeman (Eng) 42.1

With the era adjustment Tyson is miles clear of the pack, almost 37% lower than Bond. In comparison to first-innings strike rate, below is the ratio of normalised SRs:-

Player Norm-SR/Ratio
JC White (Eng) 3.233
FH Tyson (Eng) 2.738
EP Nupen (SA) 2.087
RG Barlow (Eng) 2.022
JG Bracewell (NZ) 1.978

Tyson is bested here by Jack White, but as mentioned above White’s performances as a comparison of second- to first-innings are a little misleading – Tyson is significantly ahead of Nupen and if we restrict the listing to players who, like Tyson have an average of less than 20 the next best is Spofforth with a ratio of 1.646.

Turning our attention finally to dismissals, we can also compare first and second innings performances. First here is a list of the top second-innings performers in terms of wickets/innings:-

Player 2I-W/I
JJ Ferris (Aus) 4.3
SF Barnes (Eng) 3.7
JV Saunders (Aus) 3.5
M Muralitharan (SL) 3.4
FH Tyson (Eng) 3.4
HV Hordern (Aus) 3.3
FR Spofforth (Eng) 3.3
AP Freeman (Eng) 3.3
R Peel (Eng) 3.3
CV Grimmet (Aus) 3.3

Most of these will be well-known to most of you, though the appearance of “Ranji” Hordern in this list might surprise a few . Hordern would have surely played in more than a handful of Tests however, running a dental practise he chose not to travel to England for the 1912 Triangular Tournament and after the war had already retired from First-Class cricket – as can be seen above for the short time he played he was right up there with the best of them.

Turning to comparison of first- and second-innings performance we have the following ratios of wickets:-

Player WktRatio
FR Foster (Eng) 1.719
RG Barlow (Eng) 1.667
FH Tyson (Eng) 1.660
CR Miller (Aus) 1.647
JG Bracewell (NZ) 1.630
ERH Toshack (Aus) 1.608
DN Patel (NZ) 1.607
HB Cave (NZ) 1.514
KJ O'Keeffe (Aus) 1.477
JC White (Eng) 1.466

Again these basic ratios are a bit misleading in terms of identifying higher pressure performance, as O’Keeffe for example only took 29 first innings wickets. One thing which impacts this somewhat is how much bowling was totalled in each innings – prior to WW1 opening bowlers accounted for between 55-60% of the overs bowled, whereas from the 30s-70s the figure was less than 40%.

Finally, to offset the impact of bowlers who perform poorly in the first innings and adequately in the second while still having a high ratio, I also want to add here the concept of “extra wickets”. Extra wickets is the number of wickets taken above that which would be expected based on the number of balls bowled by the player as calculated from the average strike rate.

As extra wickets is something new I’d like to look at these overal first before moving onto comparisons of first- and second-innings performance. So looking at extra wickets overall and adjusted as above, here is the top 25 all-time:-

Player ExWkts
Murali 137
Waqar Younis 130
McGrath 122
Marshall 110
Steyn 104
Hadlee 104
Donald 97
Warne 90
Trueman 79
Ntini 77
Lillee 76
Wasim Akram 75
Ambrose 73
Imran Khan 70
Barnes 69
Walsh 67
Willis 65
Lee 60
Garner 59
Holding 58
Botham 57
Shoaib Akhtar 56
SM Pollock 55
Lohmann 54
Gough 52

Barnes and Lohmann played in far fewer matches than the others in the list and Steyn is still working on his total, so here is the list showing extra wickets on a per-innings basis:-

Player ExWkts/Inns
Ferris 1.658
Lohmann 1.510
Barnes 1.400
Bond 1.144
Steyn 1.112
Hordern 1.073
Spofforth 1.060
Saunders 0.945
Richardson 0.867
Tyson 0.855
Waqar Younis 0.854
Blythe 0.850
Vogler 0.815
Turner 0.789
Briggs 0.784
Martindale 0.780
Donald 0.767
Lockwood 0.746
Marshall 0.745
Bollinger 0.707
Hadlee 0.705
Shoaib Akhtar 0.693

The above totals are based on overall strike rate figures and as such tend to favour earlier bowlers to a certain extent – adjusting strike rate for era we have the following all-time leaders in extra wickets taken:-

Player AdjExWkts/Inns
Ferris 1.189
Lohmann 1.146
Bond 1.122
Steyn 1.090
Tyson 1.089
Barnes 0.968
Trueman 0.908
Waqar Younis 0.882
Hadlee 0.877
Martindale 0.869
Marshall 0.866
Donald 0.799
Croft 0.784
Lillee 0.778
Higgs 0.742
Bowes 0.728
Shoaib Akhtar 0.719
Freeman 0.718
Garner 0.713
Gilchrist 0.695
Bollinger 0.694*

The totals of Ferris and Lohmann have been reduced significantly but even taking that into consideration they still lead the pack. Steyn only recently overtook Tyson to move into fourth place all-time.

Going back to comparing second and first innings performance, here is a look at extra wickets in each innings, first as a differential:-

Player Diff 2-1
Kumble 63
Shastri 51
Walsh 50
Emburey 49
Harbhajan Singh 47
Gibbs 47
Caddick 45
Bedi 42
Warne 41
Kallis 40

These are bowlers who have been significantly more sucessful in the second innings of matches, but again these are aggregates and all bowlers of course bowl more first than second innings. Looking at the differential on a per innings basis:-

Player Diff 2-1/I
White 2.325
Tyson 1.957
Saunders 1.278
Miller 1.220
Toshack 1.122
Nupen 1.109
Spofforth 1.077
Ironmonger 1.044
Rowan 1.043
Haque Jnr 1.032

This list is again skewed by those who perform below average in the firsts innings, for example White, who has by far the best differential per innings, actually was below average overall but performed significantly better (or less poor) in the second innings than the first. If we cap anything below the expected wickets at zero, we penalise such below-par performance while rewarding those who perform better than average:-

Player Diff 2-1
Walsh 50
Kumble 42
Warne 41
Caddick 41
Harbhajan Singh 27
Harmison 24
Kallis 22
Tyson 22
Wasim Akram 22
Lock 21
Streak 21
Gillespie 19
Mushtaq Ahmed 18
Grimmett 18
Prasanna 17
Bedi 17
Underwood 17
Saunders 16
Murali 16
Ghavri 15

Tyson, though still rated quite highly here on an aggregate basis, of course played in far fewer Tests, so if we re-rank on a per innings basis:-

Player Diff 2-1/Inns
Tyson 0.762
Saunders 0.593
Vogler 0.453
Spofforth 0.451
Toshack 0.439
Ironmonger 0.432
Miller 0.431
Larter 0.426
Freeman 0.387
Caddick 0.386

In summary, it can be seen that Tyson rates as top performer in terms of all of the major aspects of average, strike rate and wickets when comparing second- and first-innings performances.

Not sure how Martin rates.

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