Who's That Mysterious Australian Bowler?

Here we go again; Australia, arguably the toughest opponent we have faced in the cricketing arena. Only one win from twenty Test matches, and only twenty wins from sixty eight ODIs. What's the cause for this debacle? Woeful batting? Bouncy Australian pitches? Fierce fast bowling that we can't handle? A little bit of everything, we might think.

So everything combined, their bowlers should be having a ball every time they face us. McDermott, McGrath, Warne, Lee, Tait and others would surely be licking their lips when they hear the name Sri Lanka. It is their big chance to shine up their bowling records. Or is it? Well, surprisingly, statistics say a different story.

How exactly have the Aussie bowlers fared against Sri Lanka in ODIs over the past few decades? Interestingly enough, the bulk of them have dismal records when compared with their overall career records. Yeah, the greats, and the most feared ones too.

So starting from the early nineties, what did Craig McDermott has to offer us?

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 138 1243.3 101 5018 203 24.71 4.03 36.7
v SL 15 137.4 12 580 17 34.11 4.21 48.5

Then McGrath. Surely he had the better of us, didn't he? Well, apparently not.

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 250 2161.4 279 8391 381 22.02 3.88 34.0
v SL 25 218.1 20 902 36 25.05 4.13 36.3

What about other fast bowlers from the nineties?

Paul Reiffel

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 92 788.4 85 3096 106 29.20 3.92 44.6
v SL 8 67 6 294 8 36.75 4.38 50.2

Damien Fleming

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 88 769.5 62 3402 134 25.38 4.41 34.4
v SL 8 63.1 3 320 9 35.55 5.06 42.1

Then the Aussie spin wizard. Shane Warne.

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 194 1773.4 110 7541 293 25.73 4.25 36.3
v SL 18 166.0 9 746 29 25.72 4.49 34.3

When playing against the Aussies, Sri Lankans are supposed to be humbled by pace, not by spin. But as it turns out, things have gone the other way around with Warne being the only bowler to have a better average against SL (only a marginal one) when compared with his career average. Still, Sri Lankans have been able to score at a reasonable speed against him.

The rumor in Sri lanka is that Brett Lee is so fast and so dangerous as a bowler, that if you can hit him for a six, you definitely have a place in the team, no matter how you perform against others. Kapugedera and Mubarak (remember World T20 2009?) are prime examples. So for this fact to be true and justifiable, Lee should possess a very good record against Sri Lankans. But that is not the case.

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 186 1579.4 120 7456 324 23.01 4.71 29.2
v SL 19 162.3 10 803 21 38.23 4.94 46.4

As you can see, Lee's bowling record is totally ordinary against Sri Lanka. And things become worse if we look at his performances in his home conditions. Against Sri Lanka in Australia, he averages 42.69 at a strike rate of 52.8! Surprising isn't it?

And what about the new speed machine of Australia, Shaun Tait? Sorry to say, it is a complete disaster.

  Mat Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Overall 25 205.3 7 1060 46 23.04 5.15 26.8
v SL 2 16 0 110 2 55.0 6.87 48.0

One might argue that two matches aren't enough to measure a bowler's performance. But then again, two matches are more than enough for such a highly rated player to prove his worth, isn't it?

So while dominating (or not allowing to dominate, at least) almost all the Aussie bowlers, Sri Lanka have somehow managed to emerge as the second best on almost all occasions. Strange.

Did it have something to do with the mighty Australian batting prowess? Well, if you recall matches Sri Lanka played against Australia, most of them weren't high scoring ones. Of course there were occasional matches like the WC final in 2007 and the VB series second final in 2006, but the others had scores in the range of 150-250. So we have had their batting under control most of the time.

But still lost.

So it comes again to bowling. Was there a brilliant but not vibrant (enough to get the attention of me) Aussie bowler who tore apart our batting line up each time we met? OK, Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson have good records against us, but they've played only a handful of matches and hence cannot account for the damage done until 2003. So why did we lose? Who was that mysterious bowler who tormented us? Or is there a completely different theory or reason for our losses? I simply don't know.

Note:
This analysis is completely based on ODI records only. All facts and figures related to Tests are woeful, embarassing, humiliating, undigestable, and are thoroughly reflected in match results.

Comments

Radcliffe's picture
Member since:
4 September 2010
Last activity:
6 years 37 weeks

Nice Analysis Maestro! Well done! Then what went wrong for us??? In which department? We've got to dig in further. Here's our bowlers stats on Australian Soil after the year 2000 irrespective of the opposition.

Bowling

Vaas

322 320 2629.1 279 11014 400 27.53 4.18 39.4 9
27 27 240.3 17 1159 25 46.36 4.81 57.7 1

Murali

337 329 3028.1 195 11885 515 23.07 3.92 35.2 14 10
26 26 250.2 7 1190 40 29.75 4.75 37.5 1 0

Lasith

72 69 582.2 36 2896 106 27.32 4.97 32.9 5 1
8 8 70.4 5 368 12 30.66 5.2 35.3 1 0

Dilhara

139 133 1013.2 48 5270 176 29.94 5.2 34.5 3 1
12 11 97 2 544 16 34 5.6 36.3 1 0

Kulasekara
79 78 600.5 57 2719 94 28.92 4.52 38.3 2 0
11 11 81.1 5 389 10 38.9 4.79 48.7 0 0

Batting

Dilshan
188 165 29 4860 160 35.73 5563 87.36
19 18 4 447 82* 31.92 499 89.57

Dilshan has not done bad in maintaining that average while batting as a middle order batsman prior to his effective batting approach

Mahela
326 307 32 9003 128 32.73 11674 77.12 12 55 24 767 54
27 26 2 900 86 37.5 1114 80.78 0 10 1 75 2

V. Good record....

Sanath
444 432 18 13428 189 32.43 14719 91.22 28 68 34 1500 270
24 23 0 783 122 34.04 787 99.49 3 2 4 78 22

Good Record....

Marvan

268 259 32 8529 132* 37.57 12594 67.72 11 59 13 734 15
18 18 1 564 101 33.17 816 69.11 1 3 1 39 0

Not impressive.....

Kumar

276 259 28 8510 138* 36.83 11302 75.29 10 58 9 847 37
31 30 1 1191 128 41.06 1538 77.43 1 9 0 109 5

It's evident that almost every batsman has done better than their overall records except for Marvan so we can say after millenium Sri Lankan Batsmen have done alright but the problem has been that none of them fired at the same time. For instance in 02-03 series Sanath hardly had any support and in tours 05-06 & 07-08 Sanga hardly got any support as well. To beat Australia in Australia its essential for at least two batsmen to fire at the same time....

On the other hand bowlers have been pretty ordinary in Australia. Though majority would blame our batsmen the truth is bowlers have been the worst. Just look at Vaasys pathetic record in Australia after the new millenium in averaging over 46 runs while striking at most once in a match.None of the bowlers could produce stats at least equivalent to their overall stats.Murali has a good record considering the fact most of the time he played on wickets that hardly supported spinners.Kulasekara has been disappointing as well for averaging 10 runs more than his overall average. Reasons for those performances by Vaas & Kule can be due to the fact that they lack few extra yards of pace and bounce. To succeed in Australia you need to have those tools and seamers hardly benefit from australian wickets. Only quick bowlers who have a minimum deviation to their career averages are Dilhara & Lasith. Both have extra pace and can hit the deck pretty hard. So I kinda agree with Aravindas decision in not taking Vaasy to Australia and including Dilhara & Prasad though Thushara should have been picked instead of Prasad.

(Last edited by Radcliffe on October 18, 2010 - 20:13)
Hilal's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
3 hours 15 min

Great post! It probably highlights how important the Aussie bowling unit is as a whole. Generally if the opening bowlers give the Aussies a breakthrough, the first change bowler and the rest who follow maintain the pressure and wickets are claimed by the whole bowling unit, not by one bowler or two as is the case with Sri Lanka (Murali and Vaas took the bulk of the wickets for us for years).

SunJ's picture
Member since:
25 January 2010
Last activity:
5 years 14 weeks

Awesome post and in depth analysis,very interesting,and ya Radcliffe's analysis justifies Aravindas decision to omit Vaas,anyway i remember he didnt bowl well on the last tour there too,he lacks the pace off the wicket to be effective on Oz tracks,faster,hit the deck bowlers are much more useful on those tracks than swing bowlers like Vaasy

Tharindu Chat's picture
Member since:
14 March 2010
Last activity:
7 years 27 weeks

Well I believe it's just because of our self-belief. We lack that badly every time we play against Aussies.

SunJ's picture
Member since:
25 January 2010
Last activity:
5 years 14 weeks

I kinda agree with Tharindu on what he says,often when we play Australia we come up against a mental stumbling block,we just wilt under the intensity with which they come at us and we always end up playing much lower than our potential

maestro_of_cricket's picture
Member since:
2 October 2010
Last activity:
4 years 16 weeks

Thanks everyone. Well, I believe each of your arguments clearly have something to do with Sri Lanka's below par performances. Actually it is a combination of all those things.
Especially that mental block case is a proven truth. SL journalists at times referred it in Sinhala as "Australianu Bheethikawa" :)

(Last edited by maestro_of_cricket on October 22, 2010 - 11:53)
maestro_of_cricket's picture
Member since:
2 October 2010
Last activity:
4 years 16 weeks

And another addition to the collection after the recent series.
Mitchell Johnson
Career : Mt-85, Wkts-129, Avg-26.51, SR-32
vs SL : Mt-7, Wkts-6, Avg-39.5, SR-54

Hilal's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
3 hours 15 min

Yeah, Mitchell was ineffective against us. They banked a lot on his pace to blow us away and it didn't happen.

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