Rather outdated, when the game has 4 Test playing Nations from Asia with India being viewed as the power broker in the current age. So with this in mind, standing in the game should be measured by performances in Asia too. Then in the case of some parts of Asia, great respect with those performances. Especially in measuring some merits of the game, where Asian players and Teams revel in.
So with this in mind, can we bring the game into the 21st century and with it some Asian flavour into judgements?
Even an 'Indian Rule', as a deciding factor to judge who is the better spinner between Muttiah Muralidaran and Shane Warne?
Well think of this, spin is one area of the game that is indelibly linked with India. Either through their gluttony of riches in genius spin bowlers or the fact that their batsmen are such masters in playing against it.
From the time the immortal Kumar Ranjitsinhji graced England Test Team in 1896 with his charismatic batting genius. The Indians have had a feared reputation in the minds of all spinners. Mention names such as Dilip Sardesai, Mohammad Azharuddin, Navjot Singh Sidhu or some of the current names to see a sweat lather any spinners brow
Thus can we deem one as being the best, through their performances against the spin loving Indian batsmen?
Some might see this as a long string to bow, but then cricket is full of similar.
Just think, a few bad performances on Australian pitches by Asian batsmen has almost certainly seen the label 'flat track bully' attached to the players name
First lets look at the key points between the two, and then apply the 'Indian Rule'
Dissecting The Figures
Shane Warne 145 Tests, 273 innings, 708 wickets, average 25.41, economy rate 2.65, strike rate 57.4
Muttiah Muralidaran: 133 Tests, 230 innings, 800 wickets, average 22.72, economy rate 2.47, strike rate 55.0
When first looking at the figures, you can't help but ordain Murali as the best spinner on all levels. For on every key performances statistics he out performs Warne.
Then by a large manner also.
The main criticism given against Murali's figures are some of the perceived soft wickets he got.
Namely 176 wickets against minnow such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Though countering this, is the fact that Warne never had to bowl against the mighty Australians. A Team and batting line up that was seen as one of the best in the games history.
It could be considered a strike against Murali, that he struggled so mightily against the Aussies. Especially in Australia where in 5 Tests, he averaged over 75.41. Though in looking at this, one can't help but concede that his performances might have been adversely effected by the regrettable events that happened to him in Australia
Then also, the 195 wickets Warne got against England. A team that for a large part of Warne's career bordered close to the depths of the minnows.
The Support Factor
This is in reference to how little or how much support that either had in the bowling unit with them.
In Murali's case, he just had Chaminda Vass, whereas Shane Warne had an all time great in Glenn McGrath. Then very fine bowlers like Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, both who on figures are comparable to the big hearted Vaas.
So there are two ways to look at this.
In the case of Warne, you could cite that with all those other great bowlers in the line up that they got some of the wickets that would have been his. Though on the flip side of this is the pressure that those great bowlers brought on batting line ups. Which made Warne more effective against them, for he often came on with batsmen under extreme pressure. So they had no option to try see him off and had to attack him and as a result gifted him a few easy wickets. For if they did defend against Warne, they were faced with the other greats at the other end.
Murali had a different perspective. For with only Vaas in support, the onus was on him to always be the main man and with this you can't under estimate the pressure on him to perform. So you can't ignore the fact that Murali achieved many wickets by the fact that he was the key bowler for Sri Lanka. You have to give him respect for this. I say this for with only one other threatening bowler in the line up, Teams developed tactics against Sri Lanka to be extra cautious against Murali. In the knowledge that they could milk the rest of the bowlers.
Thus the large percentage of Murali's wickets were gained through greater duress than Warne's because of the difference in mindsets of batsmen against them. That was facilitated by the support in the respective bowling line ups
The Chucking Factor
In my mind the ongoing chucking debate reminds me of a controversial decision that goes against someone in a game being viewed as to why they lose. Then the subsequent whining about it after, but the only truth is the fact that in the paper tomorrow. It reads that the player was out and the Team lost.
It is the same with Murali, so many people still trying to diminish his achievements by saying he chucks. Though the truth is that his action has been cleared and that's the only thing that matters.
So complain all they like, its irrelevant for in the record books Murali has been deemed legal.
Controversy hasn't been evaded by Shane Warne either. In regards to a drug conviction for diuretics, a product known as a masking agent for steroids. He was banned for a year, but palmed it off as something his mum gave to him.......
Which has all the credibility of the old chestnut of the 'dog ate my homework' as an excuse for not doing it.
Thus maybe the peanut gallery that shouts down Murali's achievements. For they view him as a 'chucker' should be consistent and question Warne's credibility because of his association with drugs.
Applying The 'Indian Rule' To Separate Murali and Warne
To be the best, you have to be a factor against the best.
Hence my using of the masters of playing spin, the Indians to separate Warne and Murali
Firstly lets give a bit of credence to the Indian batsmen. These are the amount of times they have been dismissed by spinners and by both Murali and Warne
Gautam Gambhir: 70 innings (19 times dismissed by a spinner) dismissed by Murali 4 and never by Warne
Virender Sehwag: 150 innings ( 31 times dismissed by a spinner) dismissed 3 times both by Murali and Warne
Rahul Dravid: 269 innings ( 65 times dismissed by a spinner) dismissed by Warne 8 times and 6 times by Murali
Sachin Tendulkar: 294 innings ( 76 times dismissed by a spinner) dismissed by Murali 8 times and 3 times by Warne
VVV Laxman: 208 innings ( 51 times dismissed by a spinner) dismissed by Warne 5 times and 2 times by Murali
You can see that on average that the Indian batsmen have only succumbed to spinners 25% throughout their careers. This shows their acumen against spinners by the fact that when the play at home they are often facing spin batteries.
Looking at both Warne and Murali, these are their figures against India
Murali: 22 Tests, 32 innings, 105 wickets, average 32.61 economy rate 2.92, strike rate 66.8, 7 5 wicket haul and 2 10 wickets in a match
In India: 11 Tests, 14 innings, 40 wickets, average 45.45, economy rate 3.16, strike rate 86.2
Warne: 14 Tests, 25 innings, wickets 43, average 47.18, economy rate 3.10, strike rate 91.2, 1 5 wicket haul
In India: 9 Tests, 16 innings, 34 wickets, average 43.11, economy rate 3.19 , strike rate 81.0
Both players struggled mightily in India. Though on the figures for the most part, it can be seen that Warne was pretty much a non event against the Indians. Only getting a 5 wicket haul once in 25 opportunities. Murali though neutralised to a large extent in India, in Sri Lanka, he was devastating at times against them. The fact that he has 7 5 wicket hauls and 2 matches with 10 wickets against them shows his pedigree.
Also unlike Warne, Murali has also achieved a player of the series award against India for his efforts in the victorious 2001 series. Where he dominated getting 23 wickets and averaging 19.3.
Both exceptional performers and icons of the game, but people will debate which of the two is better till the end of time.
There is no way to separate them over skill, for both are sincere genius's in their craft.
Though cricket has always judged credentials of players and Teams in places that are renowned for being havens for which their is queries over the respective entities.
So with this in mind, it is a good way to separate the two on how they have performed against the Indian batsmen.
Who are renowned masters of playing against spin
So, who do you think is the best out of Murali and Warne????????????