Tahir is not the answer

2012-11-21 10:51
Imran Tahir is not the answer for the Proteas. I’ve never met the guy so I’m not judging his vibe, but luckily in cricket stats dont lie.
Paul Harris received some pretty heavy criticism through his entire test career, and so when I was sitting thinking that Imran is not the answer, I thought I’d just check the stats on Cricinfo to see if my gut feeling was at least accurate before I make a fool of myself. Here’s what I found.

I’m not using this example to prove that Paul Harris is the right guy cos I don’t think he is either, but the whole thing that made Imran an attractive acquisition for the Proteas was that he could take wickets. Its not an abnormal concept in cricket to be willing to sacrifice a couple extra runs… but then the wickets need to be taken.

Here’s what I get out of it all:

Compare Imran & PH economy rates. That run difference per over is quite substantial if you calculate it over 100 overs for example. Paul Harris would leak 265 runs v Imran Tahir’s 325 (60 more runs in just 100 overs?). I’d be inclined to accept the extra 60 runs if Imran was taking a crap load of wickets. That was the initial intention anyway…

He concedes 3 more runs than PH for every wicket he takes.

Imran has played 10 tests, with 26 wickets in the bag. At the same rate after 40 tests, he’ll have  104 wickets. Paul Harris notched up 103 wickets in 37 tests. It not as if he hasn’t bowled much either. On average he’s bowled 101 balls per innings, against 139 for PH. I’m assuming he’s bowled less because he leaks more runs, for very little extra reward.
The only real stat in Imran Tahir’s favour when compared to Paul Harris is strike-rate. He takes a wicket every 74 balls, whereas PH every 85. Remember that Imran only bowls on average 101 balls per innings, so this stat doesn’t look good in itself.

Stats Aside

I’m all for the concept of Imran Tahir – A passionate oke who loves his cricket and goes mental when he takes a wicket; the whole idea works beautifully! What doesn’t work quite as beautifully however, is his stats… and with the strength of the Proteas attack, I feel he has gone under the radar.  That won’t happen forever, and if he is to be a worthy inclusion in the Proteas test XI he needs to be taking more wickets. Period. Improving his batting would also help the cause.

Just out of interest for your own comparison.

Proteas should be striving for these kind of numbers, rather than settle for what Imran has produced to date.
Some would ask – who to replace him? I dont know cos I haven’t checked the stats of our domestic game, but we cant hold onto a spinner just for the sake of it, we need to be open to experimentation until we find the right man for the job. I feel we’ve experimented with Imran long enough, and he needs to come good if he plays against the Aussies – or for me he’s done.


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