Dennis Lillee or Malcolm Marshall

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by Harsh Thakor, Sep 29, 2012.

Was Dennis Lillee or Malcolm Marshall the best paceman of all?

  1. Dennis Lillee

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  2. Malcolm Marshall

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  3. Glen Mcgrath

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  4. Wasim Akram

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  5. Imran Khan

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  6. Richard Hadlee

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  7. Curtly Ambrose

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Multiple votes are allowed.

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  1. Harsh Thakor

    Harsh Thakor Cricistani

    May 5, 2011
    There are few better sights in sport than witnessing the art of fast bowling displayed at it's best.One is reminded of the action of a thoroughbred racehorse or the grace of an antelope running.There could be few more menacing sights to behold in the game of Cricket than witnessing Denniss Lillee or Malcolm Marshall running in to bowl.They resembled Javelin thrower.The agression they displayed reminded one of the greek Gods exuding fire.lIn full flight they resembled a soldier hurling a grenade ,rather than a Cricketer..Few Cricketers posessed such determination and tenacity.Wasim Akram had greater versatility and talent,Ray Lindwall was technically better,Richard Hadlee and Glen Mcgrath posessed superior control and accuracy or Michael Holding was more aesthetic but no paceman were as complete as Lillee and Marshall .They posessed every ingredient of a perfect fast bowler.
    It has been tendency amongst Asian fans to deride Dennis Lillee and eulogize Malcolm Marshall.Certain facts I illustrate will contradict this .It is surprising you hear from so many quarters that Lillee never proved himself on the sub -continent and even rate Ambrose and Akram ahead.I have no problems with Marshall being placed at the top or Hadlee in the statistical light but I will always defend Lille at least being in the top 2.

    1.Dennis Lillee

    The maestro made his debut agaisnt England in 1969-70.

    In 1972 playing for Australia against the Rest of the World he gave one of the most ferocious exhibitions of fast bowling capturing 8 wickets for 29 runs.He simply resembled a Greek God breathing fire on a fast Perth track and his spell reesmbled a machine gun rattling bullets.The opponents almost looked as though they were heading towards a funeral.In 57 deliveries he captured 8-29,his last 6 wickets ina spell of 31 balls for no runs.It was like witnessing a bomber destroying an airbase.In 1972 in an Ashes series I England Lillee dispalyed his great talents.In the 5th test match at the Oval he proved his true mettle capturing 10wickets in the tset match,with 5 wickets apiece in each innings.He captured a then record 31 wickets for an Ashes series ,,brilliantly adapting to the English seaming conditions.Few fast bowlesr ahd ever combined such ferocius pace with control and accuracy.

    In 1973 he suffered a major back Injury in the WEST Indies and it loked as though his career would come to an end.Displaying the graetset of grit and determination Lillee re-emerged on the Cricket scene like a ressurected man.It was the equivalent of Muhammad Ali coming back to Cricket.Lille endured a difficult and frustrating 6 weks with his back in a plaster cast from his buttocks to the chest.Then,supported by Dr.Frank Pyke he went through a strength –building and fitness programme/He went about discovering the mechanics of pace bolwing.

    In the 1974-75 Ashes he combined with Jef Thomson to fomr the most lethal fast bolwing partnership in the history of the game.The duo tormented the heart of the English batting likea tiger tourmenting it’s prey.They unleashed a barrage of short balls and intimidated the English batsman who looked as though they were walking towards the gallows to be hanged.
    In the 1975 Prudential Word Cup his blistering 5 -34 won the game for Australia agaisnt Pakistan ina crucial league game ,when the opponents seemed to be coasting home.However in the final Clive Lloyd tore the master apart which was a major factor in West Indies conquering Australia in the final.

    In the 1975 Ashes in England he was at his best capturing 21 wickets and again displaying his mastery of the English conditions.He continued this form in 1975-76 agaisnt he West Indies where his bowling played a major role in winning Australia the unofficial test World Championship title.He captured 27 wickets in 5 tests.His pace and swing troubled the likes of the great West Indian batsman.In 1976-77 he was again brilliant against Pakistan capturing 21 wickets .

    In the 1977 Centenary test agaisnt Engalnd he gave one of the most inspiring displays of fast bolwing ever witnessed in Cricket.This was Lille at is brilliant best displaying every weapon in his armoury.In the first innings he unleashed a thunderbolt skitlling England and capturing 6-26.Every kind of delivery was bowled too perfection.Lillee disiplayed the hostility and agression of a military commander leading a batallion and launchinga shattering asault on the enemy. In the second Innings his combat with Derek Randall,who fell for 174,almost taking England home to a famous victory,was one of sport’s greatset spectacles.

    In Kerry Packer World Series Cricket Lillee performed like a true Champion capturing 79 wickets in 15 supertests.He now proved why he was simply in a league of his own bowling against the greatest batsman in the World.Often he would trouble the likes of Viv and Barry Richards,Zaheer Abbas Etc.He displayed mastery with the outswinger,leg-cutter,bouncer and yorker.On the most docile pitches he could make a considerable impact with subtle changes in pace.His spell of 7-23 against the West Indies in 1978 was one of the best ever witnessed in the International Era.He ripped through a strong batting line up like a tiger tearing flesh.His duals with Viv Richards was one of sports most memorable battles,like 2 gladiators confronting each other.

    On returning from Packer Cricket he lost none of his old guile,although his earlier pace was considerably reduced with a reduced run-up..Infact he was technically an improved bolwer with greater versatality ,skill and intelligence.He captured a match-winning 23 wckets in a 3 test series in 1979-80 against Mike Brealey’s English team,including 11 wickets at Melbourne.In that test he proved his mastery on adocile track,bowling seam up and displaying great intelligence and versatality.His leg cutters,bouncers,outswingers and slower deliversies were brillinatly combined an he brought back memories of the 1976 Centenary test.
    In 1980-81 he bolwled with his usual consistency agaisnt India ,capturing 21 wickets.In he 1981 Ashes tour of England although he had lost his earlier pace, his intelligence and control enabled him to capture 39 wickets.With Terry Alderman he formed a great seam bolwing partnership.In his last test sries in England he bid farewll in appropriate style capturing 7-89 at the Oval with 10 wickets overall in the test match.His subtle swing and changes in pace enabled England o collapse from 246-3 to 314 All out.In that series he made graet Englsih batsman lik Graham Gooch,Geoff Boycott and David Gower look all at Sea.It was sad though that as a result of the herculean efforts of Ian Botham Australia lost he series 3-1,I Lillee’s last Ashes tour of England.

    In the 1981-82 season he had a controvesial start against Paksiatan when he was involved with a controversial incident against Javed Miandad.He kicked Javed Miandad after being involved in ascrap.It was one of the worst incidents witnessed on a cricket field.In that same game he captured 5-18 and ripped the heart out of the Pakistan batting line up like a sword piercing flesh.capturing 5-18 .Pakistan crashed to 62 all out.In he 2nd tset at Brisbane on a flat surface Lillee again dispalyed his great ability capturing 9 wickets overall.His swing and control won the match and wrapped up the series for Australia.In the subsequent series against West Indies ,his brilliant bolwing spell of 7-83 in the 1st tset of a 3 match series will never be forgotten in Cricket history.Australia had been skittled out for 198 on the first day by the World Champions .However towards the end of the day a ferocious effort by Lillee,who captured 3 wickets reduced the calypsos to 10-4.There could have been few more capturing sights in Cricket than watching his agression that dayas though the spirits had posessed him.The Australian camp was totally rejuvenated.It was like witnessing soldiers ressurected from a grave. Viv Richards was brilliantly bowled of the last bowl of the day of an inside edge and the spirit of The Australian Crowd was lifted like the complexion of the coarse of a war had turned from defeat into The nation’s favour.After.His 10 wickets in the match won the game for his country.In that match he surpassed Lance Giibb’s record of 309 test wickets..He received the ovation of a Muhammad Ali.He brilliantly exploited the uneven bounce of the surface and his leg-cutters were unplayable.In that 1981 calendar year he captured a record 85 test match wickets .
    Sadly he had an unsuccesful 1982-83 Ashes but was his old self agaisnt Pakisatn in 1983-84 capturing 20 wickets.He retired in fitting style at Sydney with Geg Chappell and Rodney Marsh.The farewll the 3 stalwatrs received was one of the most unforgettable receieved in Sport.

    Lilee had every delivery in his armoury from a short ball,to a leg-cutter to an outswinger.Had his World Series Wickets been added he would have captuted 458 wickets.In that era he bolwed agaisnt the greatset batting line ups.To me these figures must be taken into account when he is compared with theother great fast bowlers.Lillee also bolwed against great batting line ups of the West Indies,England an Pakisatn.He took over 5 wickets per innings 28 times,morally..One fact that goes against Lillee in the ratings is that he never bolwed on the docile Indian or Pakistani tracks,nor in the Carribean.However was he not outstanding on dead tracks?For so many yaers despite of playing in an era of great bolwers like Imran Khan,Richard Hadlee,Andy Roberts or Michael Holding he always stood at the top.Perhaps only from 1981-82 he was marginaly eclipsed by Michael Holding and Imran Khan.Lillee taught the Cricket World that a fast bowler can be more lethal at a reduced pace with greater skill and control.

    It is sad however that his career was blemished with hostile behaviour.One cannot justify his kicking of Javed Miandad at Perth in 1981-82 his scrap with Mike Brearley in 1979-80 at Perth Etc.He often abused the opostion.However agression is necessary in Sport and Lillee was symbolic of that quality.His judegement of great players is also controversial as he eliminates Sunil Gavaskar from his all-time great list.However he gives a rightful place to Viv Richards,Gary Sobers and suprisngly rates David Gower as the 3rd best btasman to whom he has ever bowled.*(above he likes of Barry Richards or Graeme Pollock)He rates Andy Roberst as he best fast bolwr he saw followed by John Snow.His betting in the 1981 in favour of England at 500-1 odds in he Leeds test after England were 133-7,needing 92 run so avert an innings defeat also was also controversial.However to me that was just for fun and surely he did not deliberately cause his team’s defeat.Overall to me he was a very affable character with agraet sense of humour.

    Bowling record

    Bowling averages
    Tests 70 132 18467 8493 355 7/83 11/123 23.92 2.75 52.0 23 23 7
    ODIs 63 63 3593 2145 103 5/34 5/34 20.82 3.58 34.8 5 1 0

    Supertests: 18 Tests, 91 wkts @ 25.08, BB 8-29, 8 Fivefor, 1 Tenfor
    Official: 70 Tests, 355 wkts @ 23.92, BB 7-83, 23 Fivefor, 7 Tenfor
    Combined: 88 Tests, 446 wkts @ 24.16, BB 8-29, 31 Fivefor, 8 Tenfor

    Would have held World record for 14 years more if Combined figures were taken.

    2.Malcolm Marshall

    Standing at only 5 ft 10 he was short unlike the other great bowers of the famous quartet-Holding ,Roberts and Garner.However he demonstrated the power and hostility of a boxer and when delivering a ball resembled a God gushing fire.He possessed a characteristic whippy action running in very fast,coming off the wicket faster than the batsman expected, and skidding the ball.He had a remarkable banana swing, an unplayable skidding bouncer and a shooter that doubled it’s speed after impact on the ground.He also produced dis concerting bounce which was ultra -acurate.Sir Dennis Lillee taught him to bowl the inswinger.Marshall alos developed a lethal leg-cutter in addition to a deadly outswinger.He used the width of the bowling crease with the prowess of a sculptor.

    He made his debut in 1978-79 in India but was overshadowed by Sylvester Clarke. His first true impact was made in 1982-83 at home against India in West Indies when he captured 22wickets troubling the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar.He would rattle the best Indian batsman and in the Prudential World cup that followed was the fastest of all bowlers. He was the best WEst Indian bowler with 14 wickets and dispalyed his mastery of pace .In India in 1983-84 he displayed his great ability on docile tracks -playing an instrumental role in WEst Indies triumphing 3-0.He bamboozled a strong Indian batting line up wiht Gavaskar,Sandeep Patil Mohinder Amarnath ,Kapil Dev Etc.His short lifting ball was unplayable and I can’t forget his opening match-winning spells in each inings of the 1st test in Kanpur when he looked like a bomber destroying an airbase.The batsman were helplessly left groping outside the offstump.He bolwed brilliantly in the 2nd Innings in the 5th test at Calcutta and alos bolwed a great spell in the final test at Madras. His best bowling was dismissing the great Sunil Gavaskar,forcing him to edge a catch outside the offstump.He captured a record haul of 33 wickets at 18.53 apiece and shared the man of the series award with fine batting performnces.He went on to bowl succesfuly in ahome series against Australai in 1984, on atour of England and then on the tour of Australai in 1884-85.Now he changed his style from sheer pace tp developing ability to swing the ball and develop a slower delivery.In England he battled with a broken hand and took his then best of 7-53 proving his supreme skill.On the tour of Australia he captured 28 wickets including a brilliant 10 wicket haul at Adeliade on a dead pitch where he extracted bounce.He continued his good form in series against New Zealand in 1985 and England in 1986capturing virtualy 5 wickets per test
    In 1986 Marshall truly established himself in the forefront by capturing 16 wickets i 3 test aginst Pakistan on fdocile tracks.He mastered swing and cut.He missed the World Cup and series of India but in a home series versus Pakistan in 1988 bowled brilliantly in 2 tesst,with a haul of 16 wickets..Combining pace control and swing he was the thorn in the flesh of a strong Pakistan batting line up.A thrilling series was drawn 1-1.His bowling in Trinidad in the 2nd test displayed great firepower after West Indies were dismissed cheaply in the first innings.
    In England in 1988 Marshall showed why he was now in the Dennis Lillee class capturing a record haul for a wEst Indian bolwer on an England test tour with 35 wickets at 12.88.It was perhaps a performance that eclipsed the Wes Halls’ Andy Roberts and the Michael Holdings.He looked like a bowling machine and the oppostion looked like a demoralised enemy batallion, after facing a crushing defeat.He mastered the seam and hhis ferocious pace was phenomenally consistent.At Old Trafford he captured 7-22.English fans saw his mastery of bowing bio-mechnics and hsi mastery of seam.His stamina was relentless.
    In 1988-89 he was not so succesful in Australia but gave one of pace bowling great displays on a spinners Sydney in the 4th test.Showing subtle skill he captured 10 wickets on a pitch where Lillee may have struggled.
    He again bolwed well on an Indian tour of West Indies but after 1989 went into decline .He was hardly at his best in the 1991 home Frank Worell trophy series against Australia and was sadly dropped on the 1991 England tour.It was virtually like seeing agreat Emperor like Julius Caesar undeservingly de-throned.
    Marshall retired after capturing 376 wickets at 20.94 in 81 test at a phenomenal strike rate og 46.7.His average and strike rate are better than Dennis Lillee or Richard Hadlee orCurtly Ambrose , Glen Mcgrath or Wasim Akram.He captured 5 wickets 22 times.
    He mastered reverse swing.He was an amazingly intelligent bowler. Graham Gooch and Allan Border rate him the best bowler they faced. Sir Don Bradman rated him amongst he 3 fastest bowlesr he had ever seen .Marshall found a place in the E.SPN all-time 11 and also was given 7th ranking amongst the greatest cricketers of all time.(placed above Lillee,Viv Richarsd and even Sachin Tendulkar) in Geoff Armstrong’s rankings in '100 graetset Cricketers.'He had an amazing strike rate of 46.7 ,ahead of Lillee or Hadlee.We must take note that Lillee and Hadlee hardly excelled in the sub-continent on placid tracks .Marshall was abetter bowler at tail-enders than Dennis Lillee.In full flow he resembled a sword fighter totally outmanoeuvering his opponent. The batsmen were intimidated to such an extent that they would be driven outside the line of the stumps and forfeit their wicket.
    He was also a more than competent batsman who one time looked in the Botham class. He made useful 50’s. and was once famous for batting left -handed when injured.Had he concentrated more on batting he may well have been a great al-rounder.Had he played in today’s era that probability would have been far grater considering the weakness I the current West Indian teams of the recent era.

    Marshall rated Dennis Llilee the best fast bowler he saw, Viv Richards the greatest batsman,Gary Sobers the greatest cricketer and Allan Border,the best batsmen to at for your life.He admire Geoff Boycott and Sunil Gavaskar’s technical prowess.
    Sadly he died of cologne cancer in 1999.It was an irreparable loss to the Cricket World who hardly got an opportunity to get back something from the great Legend. He had the honour of playing for arguably the best test side ever in the mid-1980’s under Lloyd .Marshall rated Viv Richards the greatest batsmen ,Gary Sobers the greatest Cricketer, Dennis Lillee the best bowler and Allan Border the best batsman to bat for your life.He also revered his captain, Clive Lloyd.

    Wes Hall beautifully describes Marshal,"THere is more to being a great fast bolwer than the ability to bowl fast.It takes fitness,stamina,common sense,commitment and agression and Marshall had it all"He is a legend and we may never see a more menacing sight in Cricket than watch this dimunitive figure run in and cause a tremor in the hearts of the the best of batsman.
    Bowling averages
    Tests 81 151 17584 7876 376 7/22 11/89 20.94 2.68 46.7 19 22 4
    ODIs 136 134 7175 4233 157 4/18 4/18 26.96 3.53 45.7 6 0 0
    To me it is a photo-finish between Lillee and Marshall.In terms of pure natural ability and innovative prowess ,Marshall was ahead but I feel Lillee was the greater trier.Marshall was not as versatile as Lillee in the classical sense but posessed some deliveries which were his very own like the skidding bouncer.He also used the crease more intelligently than Lillee.Lillee had greater mastery over the leg-cutter and outswinger and may have been a yard faster at his best with a better action but Marshall had his own lethal variations of swing and more disguised changes of pace.In terms of pure statistics Marshall is the better of the 2 ,having a better strike rate and average,but morally Lillee is better as he has superior match performances in both analysis's of Anantha Narayana in 2009 and abetter overall rating.Match performances asses the nature of opposition,pitches and contribution to team's performance.Marshall had a better career performance analysis which includes strike rate,superiority over team peers and peers of all teams,pecentage of taem's total wickets etcHad his World Series Wickets and Rest of the world games been added Lillee would have captured 458 wickets..Adding Lillee's wickets in Packer Cricket and for Rest of the World Lille may have even edged Marshall in career performance analysis where Marshall is ahead.Marshall was outstanding in an era of the greatest West Indian fast bowlers while Lillee was a champion in the most competitive era of fast bolwing ever overshadowing Imran,Holding,Roberts,Hadlee etc..Marshall proved himself on sub-continent tracks,unlike Lillee.To me these figures must be taken into account when he is compared with the other great fast bowlers.
    It is fascinating that in Richard Sydenham's book of 100 cricketers greatest 11's of all time Lille has 53 votes against Marshall's 34 .Pakistan's Mudassar Nazar, Mushtaq and Hanif Mohammad, Asif Iqbal,Majid Khan and Zaheer Abbas ,England's Dickie Bird and Geoff Boycott ,Indian's Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, New Zealanders Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe ,West Indians Lawrence Rowe,Andy Roberts and Colin Croft ,Australianse Richie Benaud ,Doug Walters and the Chappell brothers and South Africans Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock rate Lillee the greatest -ever paceman.Few selectors rate Richard Hadlee ahead of Marshall like Kapil Dev or Zaheer Abbas.In many teams where Marshall and Lillee have been selected the selectors call Lillee the greatest.Exceptions who have not made a comparison are Lance Gibbs,Clive Lloyd ,Derek Underwood and Richie Richardson.Graham Gooch and Allan Border rate Marshall the best bowler they faced,while Wasim Akram selects Marshall in his taem ahead of Lillee with Mcgrath. Sir Don Bradman rated him amongst he 3 fastest bowlers he had ever seen .In Geoff Armstrong’s rankings in '100 greatest Cricketers.'Marshall was placed in 7th place ahead of Lillee in 12 th place and one place ahead of Tendulkar.Even Christoper Martin Jenkins places Marshall in 11th place in his 100 best cricketers ,7 places above Lillee.He had an amazing strike rate of 46.7 ,ahead of Lillee or Hadlee.
    Readers should make their own choices and it is virtually a photo-finish which may not clinch the issue but my personal choice by a margin of hair's breadth would go to Lillee as he was the more complete fast bowler in the classical sense and at his best a more fierce competitor and match-winner.Lillee proved himself more against champion teams like West Indies in official and unofficial cricket.
    Sometimes I wonder whether it is ever fair to compare the two giants and it comes back to how unfair it is to compare cricketers of different eras.What is more intriguing is it unanimous that both should make the all-time world 11.

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