Seeing Through the Hyperbole

Australia won the 3rd Test in Perth by innings, in less than two and a half days.  India lost their second Test in a row by an innings and lost their seventh consecutive Test playing abroad.  India has one Test to save some face and their captain has been suspended.  Australian cricket fans are very happy.  India cricket fans are quite the opposite.

Has India any chance in Adelaide?  I think that if India can dig deep and show some spirit, they have some chance.  Australia are dominating but there are plenty of chinks in the armour, especially in the batting.  In Sydney, a failing middle order prospered on a very flat wicket, as the opposition wilted under the physical and psychological heat.  In Perth, they were back to their recent tricks but were saved by the openers.  The openers, while having a super Test in Perth, are still proving themselves.  And numbers three and seven should not be in the team.

It goes without saying that the Australian bowlers are playing very well.  I’m not sure what India can do to overcome the stranglehold the Australian bowlers have over them.  However, the Indian bowlers, at their best, are not far behind the Aussies, and for much of the series have had just as much success.  I know it sounds like a stretch but if you take away the 1/836 spread over just three partnerships, at all other times they have troubled and frequently removed the Australian batsmen.

In Perth, aside from that one huge opening partnership and a couple of “nearly significant” fifth wicket partnerships for India, there was a constant clatter of wickets for the entire three innings.  Aside from Warner and Cowan, the Australian batting was every bit as vulnerable as India’s.  Once again, Siddle easily outscored most of the batsmen.  As soon as India made a couple of break throughs, they started bowling better.   That is why I suggest that Haddin, although he should keep his mouth shut, was right.

If you take away the opening partnerships, the first innings scores were 157 (India) and 155 (Australia).  Or if you want to use a more equitable handicapping system, take away the best partnership in each innings, we have 93 (India) and 155.  I’m not suggesting that India were at any point in this match but I am suggesting that if India had believed they were, and had applied themselves more, they could have been.  The improvement in the bowling was palpable once Warner and Cowan were removed.  In fact, it was probably more a case of once Marsh came in – India believed they had a good chance of success.

While on the subject of looking through some misconceptions, I will say something for Dravid – “The Wall”.  It is amusing that Dravid has been bowled five times out of six (and also once off a no ball), by four different bowlers and people are saying that cracks are appearing in the wall.  I agree it is not a good look to be bowled so frequently, and for any top order batsman to be bowled with that frequency, is a great concern.  However, on the whole, Dravid has been bowled just as much as any other batsman.  It is interesting how these names come, and stick.  I would guess that the “The Wall” was bestowed upon Dravid at a point in his career when he was very solid (and slow), consistent and was very difficult to dislodge.  And that has been plenty of times.  However, it does not mean that he is not often bowled.

I have done some research and comparison and have to advise that Dravid has been dismissed by being bowled 20.8% of the time.  Comparing to some of his peers – Tendulkar, Ponting and Kallis – that stat is 17.45%, 13.06% and 20.93%. respectively   Tendulkar and Ponting are, in fact, bowled significantly less than Dravid.   Interestingly, a look at the “Great Unbowlable”, Bill Woodfull, shows that he was bowled in 32% of his dismissals.  So, not quite unbowlable and it shows that such nicknames can be misleading.

Batsman

Bowled %

LBW %

Total %

Dravid

20.80

13.60

34.40

Tendulkar

17.45

20.73

38.18

Ponting

13.06

18.78

31.84

Kallis

20.93

15.35

36.28

Woodfull

32.00

4.00

36.00

 But to have a better assessment, I feel we must look at lbw.  For starters, it is in essence the same thing.  It is true that there is nothing more satisfying for a bowler than to hear the “death rattle”, or even better, to see a stump or two go flying, but lbw is morally bowled.  And in cases like Ponting, it is rather hard for the bowler to hit is wicket when is legs are always in front of it.  To be fair to Dravid, when lbw is taken into consideration, he comes out in front of all in the sample, except for Ponting.  Well done, Ricky.  But we must also keep in mind that a batsman (such as Ricky) may have a perceived weakness outside of off stump, which means that is where the bowlers will bowl (i.e. not at the stumps).

Enough on being bowled.  Dravid in his career has been no less bowlable than any other top player and at present is a lot more bowlable than he should be.  He is in trouble.  But not as much as VVS Laxman, Sehwag (the new captain) and MS Dhoni (the suspended captain).

We have to wait over a week now to see if India can drag themselves off the mat in Adelaide next Tuesday.

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