December 23, 2007

The Hussey Measure (and the measure of Hussey)

An attempt to put Michael Hussey's staggering Test performances in perspective

Omer Admani made a reasonable point in response to the previous post about Hussey. He said:

“His average seems to be stunning, but there seems to be a trend on offer in the past few years: Mohd Yousuf, Younis Khan, Ponting, Sangakkara, and others have probably have had similar averages in the past few years (around the period Hussey made his debut).”

Omer’s point is that a decline in bowling standards coupled with featherbed pitches have led to a general inflation of batting averages. The implication of this is that Hussey seems exceptional only because his career began after this trend had been established. Other major batsmen have lower averages because they began playing earlier, at a time when conditions were harder for batsmen.

So despite the fact that I can barely count, I decided to run a statistical experiment. I picked a bunch of batsmen with some claim to ‘greatness’ and since Hussey’s only played 18 Tests, I calculated their batting averages over the last 18 Tests that they had played. In nearly every case this meant the Tests they had played since 2005-2006, which coincides with Hussey’s debut season. I couldn’t find a way of telling Statsguru to do this, so I brought up the Innings by Innings list for each one of them, counted off the last 18 Tests, totted up the runs and divided by the innings they had played (minus the not-outs). These are the results (rounded off):

Michael Hussey: 86 Kumar Sangakkara: 90 Mohammad Yousuf: 82 Ricky Ponting: 77 Jacques Kallis: 67

Omer’s point that other players have racked up similar averages seems to be borne out, though his conclusion that this is an easier epoch for batsmen would need more systematic research that this back-of-the-envelope calculation. For starters you’d have to look at the averages of batsmen like Dravid, Tendulkar, Gilchrist, Hayden etc. over their best seasons. There’s a prima facie case that contemporary averages are higher than they used to be, but the records of many more batsmen, present and past, would need to be number-crunched to make the case for grade inflation.

It’s worth saying that Sangakkara, Yousuf, Ponting and Kallis are exceptional; many of Hussey’s heavyweight contemporaries have less than superlative averages over their last 18 Tests.

This is what some of Hussey’s team-mates managed:

Matthew Hayden: 51 Michael Clarke: 49 Adam Gilchrist: 33

And these are the equivalent figures for India’s champions:

Sourav Ganguly: 53 Rahul Dravid: 48 VVS Laxman: 47 Wasim Jaffer: 46 Sachin Tendulkar: 42

If Hussey and the Big Four (Sangakkara, Yousuf, Ponting, Kallis) keep their post 2005-06 averages going over the next two years, there’ll be reason to believe Hussey is a symptom of a wider trend. On the other hand if the numbers for the others dip and Hussey keeps his figures flying, it’ll be time to bend the knee and say “Bwana”.

Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 21, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    I don't get why people try and shut him down. He has made a Test century against every nation he's played against and averages 80 odd FFS yet people still try and criticise him.

  • testli5504537 on January 6, 2008, 11:20 GMT

    memo to arjun: if you wouldn't pay to see Sangakkara you obviously didn't see his innings in Hobart. He almost won the match single handedly for SL - It was brilliant!

  • testli5504537 on January 6, 2008, 11:15 GMT

    Mr Cricket just keeps coming through when needed. His century today certainly helped Australia get the win. It's easy to trot out statistics & over analyse but so far his impact on helping his team win has been excellent. And any team would be happy with 8 50's & 8 centuries in 33 innings! Let's wait until he retires to put his career into perspective!

  • testli5504537 on December 29, 2007, 12:30 GMT

    One reason for the change in averages has not been mentioned: helmets. Ask any 1970s batsman about the long-term effect of this technology and I'm sure you'll see it accounts fo several percentage points.

  • testli5504537 on December 28, 2007, 11:27 GMT

    I find it interesting that there has been a highly-anticipated Test running for three days now and there has been no new blog started by Mukul.

    I believe the American term is "Monday morning quarterback".

    I'm sure that once the result of this Test is decided we'll get a missive from Mukul saying that he always knew that result was inevitable.

    As an Aussie who thinks the Indians have incredible riches in the batting department, I have to say that the likes of Laxman have the means to chase down 499. I don't think it's likely, but I can't tell you how much I would like to see it become a close-run thing.

  • testli5504537 on December 28, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    hussey is the best one in australia

  • testli5504537 on December 27, 2007, 8:55 GMT

    Obviously Hussey is a very good player, but I would like to see him facing Akram, Waqar, Ambrose, Marshall, Donald and Pollock while they were in their prime. And...he is playing for the team with the best bowling attack over the last two years. So his average alone indicates very little of his ability. Cutting his teeth in Australian domestic cricket means he has faced Macgill, McGrath, Gillespie, Lee, Warne, Kasprovich, Bichel, Bracken. Much easier than many Test attacks around today.

  • testli5504537 on December 26, 2007, 12:53 GMT

    Hussey in 30 consecutive Innings has scored 1898 runs.

    Most Runs in Consecutive 30 innings. (indication of form of batsmen in 30 cons. innings)

    Test no Rank player Runs score for v.. I M Season venue 292 1 Bradman, DG 3006 127* Aus Ind 3 3 1947-48 Melbourne 1678 2 Ponting, RT 2436 257 Aus Ind 2 3 2003-04 Melbourne 1830 3 Mohammad Yousuf 2426 83 Pak SAf 1 3 2006-07 Cape Town 498 4 Sobers, GStA 2382 132 WI Aus 1 1 1960-61 Brisbane 870 5 Richards, IVA 2265 76 WI Aus 1 3 1979-80 Adelaide 1851 6 Sangakhara 2254 152 Sri Eng 3 1 2007-08 Kandy 439 7 Walcott, CL 2206 90 WI Eng 2 1 1957 Edgbaston 863 8 Gavaskar, SM 2184 21 Ind Pak 4 2 1979-80 Delhi (Feroz SK) 1183 9 Gooch, GA 2178 2 Eng NZ 1 1 1991-92 Christchurch 1703 10 Lara, BC 2122 120 WI Ban 2 2 2004 Kingston 423 11 Weekes, EdeC 2105 156 WI NZ 1 3 1955-56 Wellington 269 12 Hammond, WR 2091 120 Eng SAf 1 3 1938-39 Kingsmead 1697 13 Dravid, RS 2076 270 Ind Pak 2 3 2003-04 Rawalpindi (CS) 1680 14 Hayden, ML 2066 67 Aus Ind 2 4 2003-04 Sydney 1736 15 Kallis, JH 2059 136* SAf Eng 3 5 2004-05 Centurion Park 1562 16 Flower, A 2057 199* Zim SAf 3 1 2001-02 Harare 1153 17 Javed Miandad 2050 55 Pak NZ 3 3 1990-91 Faisalabad 1765 18 Sehwag, V 2029 44 Ind Zim 2 1 2005-06 Bulawayo (QSC) 312 19 Compton, DCS 2011 25 Eng SAf 3 4 1948-49 Ellis Park 613 20 Simpson, RB 1997 153 Aus SAf 1 2 1966-67 Cape Town 601 21 Barrington, KF 1983 32* Eng Aus 3 5 1965-66 Melbourne 1465 22 Tendulkar, SR 1980 217 Ind NZ 1 3 1999-00 Ahmedabad (GS) 1682 23 Gibbs, HH 1968 192 SAf WI 1 4 2003-04 Centurion Park 1450 24 de Silva, PA 1965 72 SL Pak 1 1 1998-99 Dhaka 1813 25 Younis Khan 1957 173 Pak Eng 2 3 2006 Headingley 859 26 Viswanath, GR 1942 96 Ind Aus 2 5 1979-80 Calcutta 180 27 Hobbs, JB 1936 142 Eng Aus 1 5 1928-29 Melbourne 741 28 Amiss, DL 1920 79 Eng Ind 2 3 1974 Edgbaston 172 29 Sutcliffe, H 1904 51 Eng SAf 1 5 1927-28 Kingsmead

    There are 29 batsmen who made more runs than hussey during their purple patch.

  • testli5504537 on December 26, 2007, 4:35 GMT

    oh well....look here...jus one failure in the first innings & Hussey's avg is down to 82 from 86!!!!

  • testli5504537 on December 26, 2007, 3:48 GMT

    "Mr Cricket" is another example of Australia's production line of talent.

    Sure, we have Tendulkar, arguably the best since Bradman, but they seem to lose a great player and an even better one steps up.

    Also-- while our bolwing is in decline, our fielding is also second rate. Basic errors.

    Here's what the Aussies are saying about us:

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