Jos & Jimmy … Are They All That?

It’s time for a BOGOF on TFT. Today we have two articles in one. The first, by Media Penguin, considers a fan favourite with limited red ball experience. The second, by Jack Mendel, considers a player with more red ball experience than than the whole England T20 team put together. Over to you fellas …

Jos Buttler

T20 artiste Jos Butter has pencilled in a £200,000 engagement in Bangladesh this winter when everyone else remotely connected with English cricket will have their minds elsewhere.

There is still a chance he could be picked for Australia but he has not furthered his cause by failing to make (at the time of writing) even a half century in the championship. He has played the last few games for Lancashire, rather bizarrely in place of club skipper Steven Croft.

The tongues clacking in the Red Rose suite in the match against table-toppers Essex reckoned the selectors have leaned on Lancs to give Buttler some game time. It would explain why he keeps getting picked – there appears to be no other reason.

I witnessed Buttler narrowly fail to get a fifty a couple of weeks back and then fall for 13 in the first innings last week. I emailed the BBC radio commentary team predicting his demise within half an hour – he obliged with a slash after about 14 minutes.

Look the guy has talent – for scoops, ramps and sideflips but the mentality required for concentrated innings building appears to have been left out of his cricketing make-up. I don’t even think a few sessions on the inner chimp with Hameed would make any difference.

If Buttler had his sights set on a seat to Australia he would have knuckled down to some county cricket at the start of the season instead of shovelling IPL cash into his back pocket.

In fact the ECB should have insisted on it but seem to be allowing the ‘stars’ some leeway when it comes to piling up the rupees.

Buttler won a couple of games in the T20 – not that it helped Lancs miserable effort this season.  Players like Buttler probably won’t even need to be associated with a county team down the line – which would be no bad thing is you ask me.


Jimmy Anderson

James Anderson’s home-away imbalance doesn’t prevent him from being a great, but it might stop him from being the greatest.

His achievement will no doubt generate a plethora of think pieces saying he’s either unquestionably the best ever or moaning at how overrated he is. The reality, however, is that he’s somewhere in the middle of great and overrated.

His dominance at home makes him, probably, the best quick there’s been in English conditions. But his stats abroad means his overall career requires a caveat.

Taking 500 wickets is no mean feat. It puts him in an elite club synonymous with being ‘great’. The question is whether he deserves to be at the top, even if he does eventually take more test wickets than any other seamer in history?

The simple answer is no. Currently the Burnley quick is perched at sixth in the all time ‘most wickets’ rankings, and third in terms of seam bowlers – only Glenn McGrath (563) and Courtney Walsh (519) have claimed more test scalps. But passing those two doesn’t mean that he’s better than them.

Indeed, it doesn’t even mean he’s better than people he went past a long time ago – such as Wasim AkramWaqar Younis and Dennis Lillee.

Anderson is extremely good in England. He’s taken 19 of 23 five-wicket-halls at home, and taken 66% of his wickets at home (329 out of 501).

But away from home he simply isn’t world class. Anderson has just 34% of his wickets – 171 out of 501 on foreign soil. Even his averages are miles apart: 24 at home, and 33 away.

In this respect, he’s not as good as his closest rivals, or those he’s gone past in the ‘Most Wickets’ list. McGrath’s home-away record is far superior to Anderson’s with 51% of scalps at home and 49% away (with a significantly better average too).

Meanwhile, Courtney Walsh actually took more wickets away from home (290/519) than in the Caribbean. The likes of Kapil Dev, Sir Richard Hadlee, Shaun Pollock and others also had more even home-away records than Anderson.

The statistics prove that all these bowlers were more adaptable. They excelled on different pitches and overcame conditions that didn’t necessarily help their bowling.

Maybe Anderson is a better swing bowler than some of these greats. But in other respects he’s clearly not on the same level.

Anderson is most certainly an English great. He’s probably the greatest English bowler in English conditions ever. Indeed he’s probably one of the best swing bowlers ever.

But regardless of where he ends up on the ‘most wickets’ list, he’ll never be the greatest seam bowler of all time.



  • When they were saying who would you drop to get Johnny Bairstow into the one day side I seemed to be a lone voice advocating dropping Buttler. Keeping ability similar. Who would you rather coming in at 220-4 with 12 overs to go? I’d say either of them. Who would you want coming in at 76-4? Only one answer to that….

    • I dislike white ball cricket but tbf, the white ball game is about smashing runs and buttler has more potential to play a devastating innings. Bairstow as seen is more of a ‘bat long’ white ball player who can accelerate once in

    • True, Clarky, though I wouldn’t rate Walsh as the best in most of the WI teams he played in (because most of them were with Ambrose or Marshall, who would be among the top 5 fast bowlers I’ve seen).

  • When it comes to the greatest quick in English conditions, what about Terry Alderman? He only played 12 tests in England but he took 83 wickets at an average of only 19.33. What a career he could have had if he’d been English.

  • What is it with English people, constantly looking to denegrate their sporting heroes. How do you compare a swing bowler to a seam bowler, other than to say controlling swing is a greater art than controlling seam. Anderson is clearly our no1 bowler and should be encouraged to go and prove himself as a great.
    To start with, any bowler, spin, seam, swing, whatever, pre70’s when there were uncovered wickets, cannot be bought into this equation, though batsmen certainly can.
    Then you have the vexed question of who that bowler is bowling with. McGrath, a true great, had a massive advantage in bowling with Warne.
    Hadlee, another great, had virtually no one to help him get the wickets, so was always going to return decent figures, by virtue of the fact that there was little else on the seam front, very similar to Kapil Dev for India.
    Walsh, a big wicket taker, was in my book not a patch on the great Ambrose, whom he clearly fed off as you couldn’t score runs at his end. Would you put up Walsh in the same league as Holding, Marshall or Roberts, despite the wickets. I know , having seen them all, which I’d rate higher.
    Then there’s Alderman, who had 1 great series here and 1 good one. He swung the ball vicoiusly but at no great pace, Anderson pushes 90mph with his swing.
    The one I rate who has not been mentioned is Wasim Akram, who swung and seamed the ball, new or old, faster than anyone I have ever seen. As an all round bowler I would rate him higher than Anderson.
    Anderson has had many bowlers as partners, none really intimidating enough for him to feed off. Indeed, through much of his career he has played second fiddle to others as he developed his craft. Let’s celebrate a bowler who has by sheer graft made the most of his natural talents. It will be a long time before someone as good comes along. As the saying goes, ‘don’t knock it, rock it.’

    • That’s a brilliant statistic, Neil. I don’t personally have an issue with Jimmy’s record abroad. I’ve seen him bowl with great skill, accuracy and tenacity on some very flat wickets in places like the UAE. He struggles a little with the Kookaburra ball at times but he’s far more than a one trick pony.

      I know fielding isn’t a fast bowlers primary job, but Jimmy is by far the best fielder of any of the ‘great’ fast bowlers mentioned thus far. That’s got to be worth a few runs every inns, right?! We could take those runs off his bowling average ;-)

  • Completely off topic, but I wonder, James, if you or any of your readers can help resolve my confusion. Steven Smith says (in Cricinfo today) that there are “too many Australian batting collapses”. I didn’t think there was such a thing as “too many Australian batting collapses”. Any thoughts?

    • This is why I say they are there for the taking. There is no one of any proven consistency apart from Smith and Warner, the rest blow hot and cold and are more likely to implode than we are. The idea that we need a 500 + first innings to put them under pressure is a nonsense.
      In terms of test cricket I don’t think they’re anything special. I know they’ll raise their game at home against us, but I think we have enough to meet that on both bowling and batting fronts.

      • The Aussie order is no more or less flaky than the English order. Difference is our bowlers are better hitters.

        Two poor teams so hopefully it’ll be a competitive series. I however, expect it to be 5 one sided games either way.. one day team a will turn up, the other will collapse.. then the reverse will happen.. that’s sadly not competitive.. that’s just poor teams

        • “Difference is out bowlers are better hitters.”

          Injuries may have a huge effect on the outcome of this series. We’re not sure who their bowlers are going to be but Pattinson averages 27 with the bat, Starc 24 and Cummins 18 (but only played 5 tests) so they’re pretty useful. More importantly, their job is to take wickets and, in Australian conditions, I think they have a better attack. But will any of them be fit?

    • I’m completely confused. After his early failures against England I always assumed that agent Smith was some kind of Trojan horse. Perhaps not!

  • Wickets per test match – a good indicator of quality:
    Dennis Lillee 5.07
    Glenn McGrath 4.54
    Waqar Younis 4.29
    Wasim Akram 3.98
    Courtney Walsh 3.93
    James Anderson 3.92
    And let’s not forget Fred Trueman 4.58

    • Lets go through these:
      Dennis Lillie had a certain Jeff Thompson to feed off.
      Glen McGrath had Warne.
      Waquar and Wasim had each other.
      Walsh had Ambrose.
      Truman had Statham.
      All the above were world class bowlers, so helped each other.
      Until Broad came along Jimmy had no one regular and didn’t always get the new ball.
      Another thing, all the above bar Wasim are primarily seam bowlers, not swing bowlers.
      Another reason not to be bamboozled by statistics. (Lies and damn lies comes to mind)

      • Given there are only 20 wickets available per test match, wouldn’t having a top quality “competitor” bowling alongside you mean that it would reduce your average number of wickets per match?

  • No one on earth thinks Courtney Walsh (brilliant bowler as he was) is one of the 5 best bowlers the West Indies have ever produced*. Not even Courtney Walsh. So that, straight away, kills the idea that being top (in terms of wickets taken) means you are the best.

    From an England perspective I’d take Sid Barnes, Fred Trueman, Ian Botham, Jim Laker and Frank Tyson if (a) I had a time machine and (b) I was playing Mars. Or Kim Hughes’ Australia.

    Anderson’s a bloody good bowler, mind. And has improved over time. Which, like Lillee, is a sign of greatness. Anderson certainly wouldn’t look out of place in an England all-time XI.

    * Marshall, Ambrose, Holding, Gibbs, Garner (in case you were asking)


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