Test cricket now needs a 5th bowler on a regular basis. It’s a necessity not an option, and he can be a regular bowler who comes in to bowl 3rd change.
Teams need to pick a bowling all-rounder on regular basis. And if they have part-time bowler, than he should be able to bowl at least >10 overs/Inns to have some effect.
In last few years the average No. of overs per 1st innings is rising .
Here is a list of last 2years –
*In 2011 – 79 Test matches were played, and on Avg. 104 overs /1st Innings were bowled.
*In 2012, 84 Test matches were played, and on Avg 108 overs /1st Inns were bowled.
*So far this year, only 4 Test matches are played, and the Avg is @ 86 overs/1st Inns. And out of 61 wickets (@31.88) 17 (27.86) were picked by those came into bowl beyond 2nd change. The average is at healthy 35.35
History shows that, bowlers who came into bowl beyond second change(min 10Inns) end up picking one or more wicket.
Some basic stats on this theory –
1459 players bowled ( > fifth position)
1043 players ( > fifth position) picked wickets in their career.
964 players bowled > 100 balls in career.
38.19 is the Average runs/wickets for all of these bowlers who picked one or more wickets. Their eco rate is 2.63 R /O and their strike rate (balls/wkts) is at a high 87.03 balls/wkt.
So how much does this bowler need to bowl in an Inn to pick a wicket?.
The answer is : > 10 over per innings (90%) .
I reckon shorter spells for strike bowlers would keep them fresh and they can be effective as a strike bowler, and not workhorse.
Saeed Ajmal is a very good example. He usually comes into bowl pretty early,(between 15-25th over) and by this period Pakistan have already used up 4bowlers in short spells.
In his short Test career of 47 Inns, he has been most effective when bowling 5th(3rd change) averaging 20.89 (career avg 28.03) with strike rate 43.71 (career 62.80).
Of course, I consider him to be Pakistan’s strike bowler irrespective when he comes to bowl.
Now let us look at India’s bowling performance in last 3 Test series (below table).
Opening pair is been putting substantial partnerships featuring 3 big hundred partnerships & 2 fifties (18inns).
Against England, spinners opened the bowling for India, but to less success.
Here is a look at how Batting Partnerships against India’s bowling.
Let us see how fast bowlers have done during this period.
Here is a look at fast bowlers stats.
Here is a look at spin stats..
And now let us look fifth bowler’s performance (including part-timers, and those bowled beyond second change), and let us see how they stand against other bowlers.Here is a stat gfx of comparison between Indian bowlers v/s Other teams
From above stats it seems very obvious that Indian selectors need to look at a bowling all-rounder(s), who can at least bowl > 10 accurate overs per inning. This will allow their strike bowlers some breathing space, because as of now the load on Indian bowling is very high….Since Jan 2011, in 21 Tests, on Avg they are bowling 113 overs/1st Inn!.