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    October 13, 2005

    Kumble's baffling omission

    The lineup of spinners potentially participating in the Super Test which starts tomorrow reads (in alphabetical order of second name) Stuart MacGill, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori and Shane Warne. It is a glittering lineup. But it is by no means the best available spinning talent. I cannot understand how Kumble, Harbhajan and Kaneria were left out. If we use performances in the same period used for the ICC awards, i.e. between August 1 2004 and July 31 2005, then this is what we get.

    Danish Kaneria had 60 wickets in ten tests and his breakup was 15 wickets @ 37 v Australia, 19 wickets @ 32 v India, 15 wickets @ 24 v Sri Lanka and 11 wickets @ 34 v West Indies.

    Anil Kumble had 64 wickets in 11 tests and his breakup was 27 wickets @ 25 v Australia, 10 wickets @ 14 v Bangladesh, 17 wickets @ 38 v Pakistan and 10 wickets @ 34 v South Africa.

    Harbhajan Singh had 48 wickets in 9 tests and his breakup was 21 wickets @ 24 v Australia, 4 wickets @ 41 v Bangladesh (hiak! hiak!), 10 wickets @ 33 v Pakistan and 13 wickets @ 24 v South Africa.

    The incumbents' statistics were:

    Muttiah Muralitharan had 22 wickets in 3 tests and his breakup was 5 wickets @ 33 v South Africa and 17 wickets @ 10 v West Indies.

    Daniel Vettori had 38 wickets in 7 tests and his breakup was 18 wickets @ 41 v Australia and 20 wickets @ 11 against Bangladesh.

    The World side is playing against Australia. Even on the basis of their overall past records against Australia, it is tough to justify the selections. Admittedly it is tough to drop Murali, in spite of his not having played much in the last year. On the basis of performances against Australia in the last year, Kumble and Harbhajan definitely deserved a spot, perhaps Kumble more so than Harbhajan considering his performances during India's tour of Australia in 2003/04. Kaneria has improved by leaps and bounds and his performance in Australia was wonderful, but he lacked bowling support.

    Purely based on the numbers, it does seem to me that one of those selections is wrong. I love that chap's bowling, and my wife is a huge fan of his looks, but I would certainly not have picked the bespectacled one.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 3:02 PM |
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    5 sledge(s):

    Perhaps fairer is the last series each played in Australia? (Murali excluded, obviously.)
    Kumble: 3 Tests, 24 wickets, average 29.58
    Vettori: 2 Tests, 10 wickets, average 34.10
    Kaneria: 3 Tests, 15 wickets, average 37.33
    Harbhajan: 1 Test, 1 wicket, average 169

    Vettori is, I feel, rather hard done by when it comes to stats. The other spinners mentioned have home pitches that are at least receptive to spin. Vettori's average is 7 runs worse at home!

    There's no doubt Kumble was unfortunate, but it's hardly 'baffling,' especially considering the lack of any other New Zealanders in the team and Vettori's batting and fielding. Of course, on the subject of Kiwis, Shane Bond would have been ideal for the World XI. Such are the perils of picking a squad in advance.

    By Anonymous Geoff (13-Oct-2005, 8:44:00 PM)  

    Good one Geoff. Shane Bond - great to watch! They weren't to know when they picked the sides by IMHO, he'd be a better pick than Harmisson. I know he did alright in the Ashes, but when the going gets tough, he goes missing.

    By Blogger Stu (14-Oct-2005, 4:20:00 AM)  

    Geoff, it does seem to me that you also feel Vettori's selection was tokenism: "specially considering the lack of any other New Zealanders in the team".

    While Vettori is a far superior batsman and fielder to the rest, he is an inferior bowler, in my opinion, than Kumble and Kaneria. Harbhajan has dipped alarmingly over the last year. So I won't bother making a case for him.

    By Blogger Jagadish (14-Oct-2005, 5:49:00 PM)  

    Yes, I feel that it was - at least partly - tokenism. But I also don't think that's surprising.

    Stu: that's not entirely fair. He did, after all, take the final wicket at Edgbaston, as well as befuddling Michael Clarke with the slower ball. He can go dramatically off the boil, though.

    By Anonymous Geoff (14-Oct-2005, 8:01:00 PM)  

    It's quite obvious Vettori was chosen as the token Kiwi representative. Kumble is streets ahead of him. Mark Boucher is the other dud selection, even though he is a decent keeper. How he was preferred to Sangakkara is a mystery.
    - NK

    By Blogger Gameboys (16-Oct-2005, 9:58:00 AM)  

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