Cricket is a batsman’s game. Third Man won’t even bother to look at who won Man of the Match at Adelaide, and not just because he’s already made up his own mind, which of course he has.
Over at Wisden Cricketer, Edward Craig, writes a few hundred words on Player Awards for the Test without once mentioning the Lancastrian whose first innings figures were 19 overs, 4 maidens, four for 51.
Anderson’s wickets included three of the top four in Australia’s batting line up – Watson , Ponting and Clarke.
As Anderson would know from his days playing for Burnley, in the Lancashire League, they take the cap round for a batsmen when he scores 50 and then again when he scores 100. You have to take 5 wickets as a bowler to have a cap taken round for you. And many clubs give batsmen special trophies for scores of 100, but ignore bowlers with Michelles and better.
So how do we put a batting valuation on Anderson’s performance?
We could say that 100 and a 5fer are equivalent which values a wicket at 20 runs. That’s what they do for the honours boards at most Test grounds.
But does a score of 100 at Adelaide really compare with a 5fer? And is a 5-fer which includes nine, ten, jack as good as a 4-fer that takes out an opener and numbers three and four?
Let’s try this: you might expect a ‘par’ first innings score of around 500 for 6 at Adelaide. England scored 620 for 5, so that ‘par’ calculation isn’t unreasonable. This means that 8 batsmen contribute on average 62.5 each. Anderson’s 4-fer would work out as the equivalent of 250.
On the other hand, we could take the Test averages of Anderson’s victims and add them up: 41, 54, 48 and 14 or 157 in total, except that we should take their averages for their first ‘digs’, which would be perhaps 25% higher, giving a equivalent of close to a double hundred.
Yet what do Watson, Ponting and Clarke average ‘first up’ at Adelaide? Higher still, surely.
In the end perhaps a qualitative evaluation is the only sensible one. Australia never recovered from the shock of those two fantastic late swinging deliveries, each of perfect pitch, that removed Ponting and Clarke. They set the psychological tone for what followed. Talk about targeting the Captain (and Vice-Captain!)
It was as if Jimmy had barged his way into the Australian dressing room and on the facing wall painted in blood: Your Defeat is Inevitable.
* How Good was Jimmy Anderson could be a question or a statement depending on the choice of punctuation. Third Man leaves it to the reader to make their own decision.