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January 04, 2007



One reason might be because bowling averages get better the *lower* they are rather than the higher. That said, what's the 'benchmark' for a great bowling average? With batsmen, the mark is around fifty or higher - hence Bradman first and the rest a loooong way behind. But bowlers? Malcolm Marshall had an average of 20.94, which might be one one of the best ever for the 300+ wicket club.

jjames higham

Excuse my ignorance but was Higgs from Leicester?

chris y

Higgs was from Lancashire, hence the southern bias, but Leics borrowed him for a few years in his old age. The most impressive English figures are actually Fred Trueman's, since he founded the 300 club, and finished with an ave. of 21.5.

As to Chris's question about why people aren't more interested in bowling averages, I think a lot of it has to do with the general journalistic bias against bowlers (except on TMS, where any ex-England quick can apparently get a job). I remember some berk on the telly interviewing John Emburey once and suggesting that his batting wasn't bad, considering that he was a bowler rather than a cricketer.


Is it because all batting runs are equal*, at least in terms of the match result, whereas it's not true of wickets.

For example, if we know that Gatting got 140, Gower got 50, and Gooch got 10, we can safely say in the innings that Gatting was the most important*.

But if we hear that Warne took 4 for 150 and Waugh, 6 for 50, then it's not necessarily the case that Waugh was more important, if Warne got out the four openers.

Does that work?

*Clearly there are 'better' runs against better bowlers, but not in terms of match performance.


Warne is likely to be eclipsed by Muttiah Muralitharan in any event. He's only 26 off 700 test wickets and has a better bowling average of 21.73. Admittedly Muralitharan's batting average is lower, but as a bowler he is every bit as good, if not better.
Ref: http://stats.cricinfo.com/guru


Muralitharan's bowling average is better than Warne's against every team, except Pakistan I think, as well.

Warne has a better record outside of his home country though - M.M in Sri Lanka has 406 wickets at 19.65, but overseas he only has 268 at 24.88. Warne in Australia has 387 at 26.27, whereas overseas he has 319 at 24.23.

Will Davies

Do we really pay that much attention to batting averages either though? Judging by that list of batting averages that you link to, Tendulkar and Lara are the 6th and 8th best batsmen in the world currently playing. But there is a very strong consensus that they are in fact the two best batsmen.

The one area where averages are quite neat is all-rounders: if your batting average is higher than your bowling average, you are a net contributor to the team; if it isn't, you're not.


That doesn't follow, as you only get one bat per innings but can bowl any number out. In fact many batsmen bowl, and have worse averages than their batting average.

james C

Batsmen try to score as many runs as possible in eeach innings. Bowlers do not try to minimise runs per wicket.


Murali may have better figures that Warne, but at the start of this series (when we were still confident), Sky showed the numbers that each had got against lesser test sides (Bangladesh, Zim, Sri Lanka?) and warne had a much greater number against the better sides.


That's not wholly true, I don't think. Murali's average is better against every side but Pakistan. He does have a huge number of wickets against Zim, but he has also a lot against England and South Africa, who are clearly not the very worst (usually).

You can compare them here


Will Davies

Mathew: I can't think of a better description of what bowlers do than try and minimise runs per wicket (or maximise wickets per run, if you prefer). The dilemma of how many slip fielders to use captures this basic trade-off.

young man

MM's bowling action is suspect and you could argue he is only tolerated as without him Sri Lanka would struggle as they have no other good bowlers.

MM's average is also inflated by two factors:

1. Playing an inordinate number of games against bangladesh, Zimbabwe.

2. Playing the vast majority of his games on the sub continent with spin friendly pitches.

His total number of wickets is also inflated by him being the only world class bowler Sri Lanka have had over the last 10 years.

For better or worse there will never be another Shane Warne ;-)

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