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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.

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