So, let’s just have a quick recap on what we discussed in the previous article. So, in my view, the two indicators of greatness in a cricketer are that player’s potential to win a match and their consistency. This is a fairly broad view to take, but one that is necessary to understand the comparative skills of two players. We then went onto look at how, although Muttiah Muralitharan’s “pop” statistics, that is, the ones that are usually displayed on television screens, seemed markedly better than those of Shane Warne, they are actually a lot closer than you would think after excluding matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. As such, we had delve further and began to look at the oppositions against which they did not perform at their best. For Warne, it was the West Indies and India. For Murali, it was India and Australia. We’ve done Warne and the West Indies and so we’ll get cracking onto the others.
During the 1990s and 2000s, the great game of Test cricket was characterised by flat pitches and batting dominance. Thus, it seems remarkable that this era yielded two of the greatest spinners of all-time in the form of Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. As they continued to amass record after record, taking a combined total of over 1500 Test wickets, the inevitable question arose: who is the greater player?
When England last played Pakistan away from home in 2012, Andrew Strauss was the English captain and Kevin Pietersen was an integral member of a Test side that was ranked number one in the world. Such has been the turbulence of English cricket that Strauss is now the Director of Cricket for England who has effectively blacklisted Pietersen from ever playing Test cricket again. Even more remarkable, given the tumult of English cricket over the past three years, is that the English Test side is now one of the most exciting teams in Test cricket and that this Test series against Pakistan will be a genuine contest.