Wednesday, May 09, 2007

McGrath v (Tendulkar, Lara)

Glenn McGrath recently claimed to have enjoyed an edge over Sachin Tendulkar, more so than he did against Brian Lara. It is hard to disagree with him, because Lara did better against McGrath, all things considered, than Tendulkar did. Lara also played more against McGrath than Tendulkar did, mainly on account of the fact that West Indies played Australia in longer Test series, and while McGrath missed two series against India - 1998 in India and 2003-04 in Australia, he never missed a series against the West Indies.

Tendulkar has played 21 Tests against Australia, made 1859 runs at 53.11. In matches where McGrath has been present, Tendulkar has made 662 runs in 18 innings (9 Test matches) at 36.77. This includes the one off Test in Delhi in 1996 (Tendulkar made 10, 0), the 1999-2000 series in Australia (Tendulkar made 278 runs at 46.33 in 3 Test matches), the 2000-01 series in India (Tendulkar made 304 runs at 50.66 in 3 Tests) and the 2004-05 series in India (Tendulkar played in only 2 Tests - the last 2, making 2, 8 at Nagpur in his comeback match and 5, 55 in Mumbai - in all 70 runs at 17.5 in the series).

On the other hand, Lara has played 30 Tests against Australia and 25 of those have been against McGrath. He made 308 runs in 1994-95 (in West Indies) at 44.00, 296 runs at 32.88 in 1996-97 (in Australia), 546 runs at 91 in 1998-99 (in West Indies), 321 runs at 32.10 in 2000-01 (in Australia), 533 runs at 66.62 in 2002-03 (in West Indies) and 345 runs at 57.50 in 2005-06. That 2005-06 series also consisted of 1 great innings - 226 at Adelaide and 5 failures (which produced 119 runs). Lara's efforts in the 2002-03 series in the West Indies have to be viewed in the context of that series - it was a high scoring series if there ever was one - the wickets were the flattest in living memory (almost reminiscent of an India - Pakistan series) - 5 Australians averaged over 55 in that series and produced 10 centuries in 4 Test matches, the West Indies produced 7 centuries in 4 Test matches. 34 50+ scores were recorded in the series. It was also Lara's most consistent series against McGrath - 5 50+ scores in 8 innings.

These figures ought to get you thinking. The 2000-01 and 1996-97 series in Australia saw Lara play 19 innings for the West Indies in which he produced two tremendous innings - his 182 at Adelaide in 2000-01 and his 132 at Perth in 1996-97. Those two innings apart, Lara produced 1 fifty in the other 17 innings. Tendulkar has played 18 innings in all against McGrath. Lara's 4 centuries in Australia have been made at Sydney (277), Perth (132) and Adelaide (182, 226). Tendulkars 4 centuries in Australia have been made at Sydney (148, 241*), Melbourne (116) and Perth (114). Lara's 4 centuries in Australia have come in 18 Test matches, while Tendulkar's have come in 12 Test matches.

Indeed if you look at Lara and Tendulkar playing against McGrath, and measure a 50+ score as a success and anything else as a failure, then Tendulkar has had 7 50+ scores in 18 innings. In 48 innings against McGrath, Lara has passed 50 16 times.

The numbers reveal that Tendulkar and Lara emulate their overall tendencies when playing against McGrath. Lara is the less consistent of the two, but more capable of mammoth scores (213, 226, 182, 153). Tendulkar is more consistent, but is less capable of churning out huge scores (241, 126, 116). Lara v McGrath is defined by two innings played by Lara in 1998-99 - 213 at Sabina Park, followed by 153 at Kensington Oval. Tendulkar v McGrath as a contest is defined by the bold LBW decision McGrath won against Tendulkar in the second innings at Adelaide in 1999 (when Tendulkar ducked into a short ball which did climb at all). Tendulkar's innings are always methodical, Lara's are a work of genius. Therefore, when Tendulkar rattled of a clinical 126 on Day 3 in the decider at Chennai, it was expected that he would deliver that day and he did - without any frills.

What is apparent in Tendulkar v McGrath and Lara v McGrath contests, is that no other bowler in any Australian side that Tendulkar faced could trouble Tendulkar (with the occasional exception of Jason Gillespie). Where as Lara was prone to giving his wicket away against any Australian bowler. This is especially true in Australia, where Lara made 4 50+ scores in 25 innings in Tests where McGrath also featured. For Tendulkar, the corresponding figure is 3 out of 6. Tendulkar was more likely to play a particular bowler rather than play the ball. Tendulkar's strategy against McGrath was often to wait out a good spell, where as Lara was less likely to let a good spell go by - and this is reflected by their respective consistency levels, especially in Australia.

Tendulkar v McGrath was also a direct clash in the One Day game, because Tendulkar opened the batting and McGrath opened the bowling. This was not the case against Lara. In the One Day game, McGrath did have the better of Tendulkar. This is possibly the one thing that influences McGrath's comparison of Lara and Tendulkar.

Given Tendulkar and Lara's overall records, McGrath probably did have an edge of both players. However, the numbers do not reflect that Lara did better against Australia when McGrath played than Tendulkar did. He produced bigger innings, but was less consistent. Lara also never played in a winning series against McGrath, which Tendulkar did.

It is a glimpse into how a cricketer makes his judgements about his peers. It is a mistake to write off a comment by Glenn McGrath as a lighthearted one - or one designed to play off Tendulkar against Lara. It does however show that McGrath rates the genuis of Lara higher than he rates the method of Tendulkar - he felt more helpless against Lara more often than he did against Tendulkar. He felt he controlled Tendulkar (as Tendulkar felt he controlled him) and never let him get away. Where as against Lara it was a far more trigger happy contest - Lara either went early, or killed the bowling. There were no stalemates in Lara v McGrath contests. Tendulkar v McGrath was invariably a stalemate - with neither willing to bite the bullet.

These have been two of the great contests in modern day cricket.



    This is excatly what i had in my mind.

    Lara played with only heart and to entertain people.

  2. foolishness....why does every cricket critic bypass the fact that brian lara has been dubiously given out 26 times in his carrer...a record....just the fact that the aussies never found it neccesary to cheat tendulkar is proof who is the better batsman

  3. once where ian healy stumped him without the ball in his hand, besides brian lara dominated mcgrath after lara's last innings againt australia was 226 and his last innings 216 dont talk foolishness

  4. read this article....this was the first innings of the second test of 20005 in case you think i do not have facts of the dubious descicions againt lara...... and even the great wasim akram said lara was better because he could single handedly win a game for his team....213 vs austalia 1998 153 vs australia 1998 277 vs australia even though it was a draw changed the series and we won it in 1992

  5. Tendulkar only scored 662 runs in 18 innings with batting average 36.77 in which MrGrath was opponent bowler means he was unable to play at master level. Tendulkar never scored any double hundred in front of McGrath. Also unable to score double hundred when bowlers were Shane Warne or Murli.

  6. Disagree wid the article....Sachin handled mcgrath better..
    Morever lara did well vs him only in the last stages of their career wen he was less effective.///
    sachin got some rough decisions against mcgrath. Sachin did very well against him wen he played him in australia, unlike lara...And those were the tough conditions. India was humiliated 3-0 in dat series. Morever , in 2004,sachin was hurried back to play vs aus ,while he still had injury problems..
    thats why his record vs mcgrath is little skewed...Otherwise he played 2 full series vs mcgrath n fared very well....
    Even in ODIs, it was sachin who used to take mcgrath apart not lara.
    Sachin had to face the mcgrath rite up at the front unlike lara.

    Please check dis link...
    Mcgrath speaks himself about sachin in 2002...and he clearly mentions sachin as the best...lara is after steve actually...
    Mcgrath was at his best before that...And no doubt who impressed him most

  8. Off course there is a no question about sachin. Sachin is best everybody knows there is no comparison between sachin and lara. he person with most centuries most runs is better than lara. Here are some more facts which prove sachin better than lara

  9. Lara and Tendulkar both average 45 when opening (or batting 1,2,3) in ODI's versus all teams minus minnows (Bangladesh, Kenya and Zimbabwe).

    Versus the same teams, batting in position 3, Lara averages 45, Tendulkar averages only 10.;batting_positionmin1=3;batting_positionval1=batting_position;class=2;filter=advanced;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=3;opposition=4;opposition=5;opposition=7;opposition=8;orderby=default;template=results;type=allround

    Batting in position 4, Tendulkar averages 35.

    Batting in position 5, Tendulkar averages 29. Same as Lara.

    Batting number 6 to 11, Lara averages 61.

    Batting number 6 to 11, Tendulkar averages 29.

    Lara adapts to ODI conditions and batting orders/roles much better than Tendulkar.

    Batting outside Asia in positions 1,2,3...;batting_positionmin1=1;batting_positionval1=batting_position;class=2;continent=1;continent=3;continent=4;continent=5;filter=advanced;host=1;host=2;host=3;host=5;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=3;opposition=5;opposition=6;opposition=7;opposition=8;orderby=start;template=results;type=allround;view=match

    Lara averages 44. (remove games played at home and his average doesn't change)

    Batting outside Asia, in positions 1,2 and 3...;batting_positionmin2=1;batting_positionval2=batting_position;class=2;continent=1;continent=3;continent=4;continent=5;filter=advanced;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=3;opposition=4;opposition=5;opposition=7;opposition=8;orderby=default;template=results;type=allround

    Tendulkar averages 39.

  10. Lara, against the best bowlers of the era, has scored 10200 runs at an average of 51.56. (Add Warne and it goes up to 52)

    Tendulkar, against the best bowlers of the era, has scored 8800 runs with an average of 47.5 (Add Warne goes up to 49). He also seemed to keep dodging the best bowlers. Tendulkar didn't face Amby or Bishop or Walsh in their prime. He did not face Wasim or Waqar at their prime. He consistently ducked McGrath. He was average against Donald or Pollock with a 30-ish average; didn't face Gough; failure against Bond. Tendulkar accumulated 5000 runs at an average of 100 against mediocre bowlers in the likes of NM Hauritz (Aus); RC Irani (Eng); S Randiv (SL); JJ Krejza (Aus); Mashrafe Mortaza (Ban); AD Mullally (Eng) ; BA Murphy (Zim) ; MM Patel (Eng); KR Pushpakumara (SL) ; GR Robertson (Aus) ; IDK Salisbury (Eng) ; Shahadat Hossain (Ban) ;r BT Watambwa (Zim); GP Wickramasinghe (SL) ; PJ Wiseman (NZ)

    In Tests, Sachin averages a modest 36 against Australia when McGrath plays. It is very noticeable that most of his Test runs/stellar performances against Australia have invariably come only when McGrath and Warne were absent, basically against second rate (good, but not great) fast bowlers (Kasper, Damien Fleming, Paul Riefel etc). Whenever McGrath is absent from the Australian attack, Sachin's average almost doubles (averages nearly 70 against Australia when McGrath is absent!!!).

    Even McGrath's bunny - Lara - does better than Sachin against McGrath. Not to mention many double centuries.

    Sachin averages 32 against South Africa whenever Allan Donald has played. Also, India-Pak never played a series for nearly 10 years (between 1989 to 99 for political reasons) during which Akram was at his absolute peak. But Akram bowled very very well in 1999 when they played each other. In any case, Tendulkar averages only 32 against Pakistan whenever Wasim Akram has played.

    Once again, he revelled against the respective teams (South Africa and Pakistan) when these bowlers were absent.

    Against the 3 greatest fast bowlers of his era, whom he faced in more than one Test series, McGrath, Donald and Akram, Sachin has scored 1719 Test runs at a modest average of 34.3 (compared to his career average of 56). Against Akram, McGrath and Donald, Lara amassed 3116 runs at an average of 41 at a better strike rate than Tendulkar.

    Of all the Test series Sachin has played against these great fast bowlers (McGrath,Donald,Akram), more than 7 series including home and away, only once did he average more than 50 in a series, that too just barely, when he averaged 50.66 against McGrath in a 3 test series (2000-2001) at home in India. Only once was he India's best batsman in all the Test series against these bowlers.

    The only truly great fast bowler Sachin has had some success against is Curtly Ambrose. But Sachin never faced Ambrose (or the West Indian attack) at their peak. He played only one Test series against Ambrose, that too in 1997 (4 of the 5 Tests ended in draws), when Ambrose was 35 years old.

    Tendulkar's poor stats against great fast bowlers continues in ODIs. In spite of all the batsmen-favoured rules and pitches, Sachin's stats against these bowlers in ODIs is weak: a measly average of 31 (2222 runs @ 31.64) in ODIs after playing 70+ ODIs against McGrath/Donald/Akram. Only 2 of Sachin's ODI hundreds came against these bowlers (both against McGrath in the sub-continent). In 26 ODI innings against Donald, Sachin managed to cross fifty just 3 times.

    Not just his average, even his strike-rate suffers against these bowlers (especially against Donald).

    Once again Lara beats him hands down (2969 runs at an average of 44.81 against McGrath/Donald/Akram).