Trivia - batting May 9, 2008

So near yet so far

When Virender Sehwag strode out on the fourth day of the recent Test against South Africa in Chennai, he already had 309 runs to his name

When Virender Sehwag strode out on the fourth day of the recent Test against South Africa in Chennai, he already had 309 runs to his name. There would have been a great many fans wondering how far he could go: could he top Brian Lara’s 400?

Statistics, however, indicate the fans were very likely to be disappointed [as they were]. The truth is that while 309 and 400 sound like reasonably similar scores, they are not. In fact, it is harder for a batsman to add another 100 runs if he has already made 300, than it is at almost any other score.

There have now been 22 Test triple-centuries, enough for some statistics. Only one of those triples has gone on to produce the magic 400, while 17 others have been dismissed before reaching that mark. Only one out of 18: that is only a 5.6% conversion rate. (The other four innings finished not out between 300 and 399; it is better not to include them in this calculation.) It is interesting to compare this to the conversion rates at other scores:

Conversion rates in 100-run increments
Score range No. of dismissals No. of successes Conversion rate
0-99* 33,822 2942 8%
100-199 2334 279 10.7%
200-299 192 22 10.3%
300-399 17 1 5.6%

*0-99 data involves only recognised batsmen (#1-6 in batting order). “Number of successes” refers to the number of innings that have passed through the specified range without dismissal, e.g., for 0-99 it refers to the number of centuries.

While interesting, this data is not very robust for the 300-399 range. If the next batsman to make a triple-century happens to go on to 400, the conversion rate will almost double [to a rate similar to the 300-400 conversion rate in first-class cricket of 11%]. However, the difficulty batsmen encounter above 300 can also be seen when we look more closely, at 20-run increments.

Conversion rates in 20-run increments
Score range No. of dismissals No. of successes Conversion rate
100-119 1105 1791 62%
120-139 581 1087 65%
140-159 329 667 67%
160-179 209 414 66%
180-199 110 279 72%
200-219 96 142 60%
220-239 50 84 63%
240-259 22 55 71%
260-279 19 30 61%
280-299 5 22 81%
300-319 7 14 67%
320-339 5 7 58%

Note the similarity of the pattern at the 200-run mark and the 300-run mark. As batsmen approach 200, their conversion rate rises, only to fall suddenly after reaching the milestone; the same thing happens at 300. A dismissal between 280 and 299 is a rare thing.

It is also striking that a batsman’s ability to add runs once he has reached 300 [67% and 58% for 300-319 and 320-339] is, in effect, no better than for those who have just reached 100 [62% and 65%].

Further perspective can be gained by looking at the one batsman who did make it to 400, Brian Lara at St John’s in 2004. In that innings, Lara played with caution and great focus after reaching 300, taking 178 balls to go from 300 to 400 [56 runs per 100 balls]. This is probably the slowest progression from 300 to 400 in first-class cricket: in doing this under very benign conditions when quick runs were called for, Lara also sacrificed any chance his team had of winning the match.

Few triple-centurions take this approach. The surprisingly high rate of failures after reaching 300, when scoring should be easiest, is probably a combination of mental exhaustion and the need for quick runs in those circumstances. The typical scoring-rate for triple-centurions in their first 300 runs is about 63 runs per 100 balls, but for runs beyond 300 [apart from Lara], the rate is over 80 runs per 100 balls, in time-limited Tests.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on May 28, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    Hey Charles,

    That was a good one.But statistics can be tricky at times.Considering the fact that 300+ scores have been achieved only 18 times it's a bit odd to calculate percentages from that since all the others,that is 0-100,100+,200+ all have been achieved much much more. But still its an interesting way to look at things.The batsmen get really drained after batting to score 300+ and usually then the team gets to strong position and they go for quick runs/declare.That is a reason 400 has been achieved only once.And the test matches moves at a faster pace than olden times,so unless you score really fast you wont get to 300.Something Sehwag has done successfully.And always team comes first then only the player himself.

  • testli5504537 on May 21, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    In an effort to bring this back on topic...

    ... I'm more surprised that the difficulty doesn't increase "significantly" between going from 100 - 200 than from 200 - 300 - I would have thought the opposite due to:

    1. keeping up the concentration (though this may be countered by bowlers getting tired)

    2. Achieving personal milestones and thus losing desire - for example, a player may have more desire to score early runs in order to secure his place in the team - once he feels "safe", his (possibly subconscious) desire to keep going falls. Then as he continues he looks to achieve milestones - a century, his highest test score, a double, his highest FC score etc etc. After each is achieved then his desire to carry on is diminished.

    3. Time issues - pressure from captains to "get on or get out"

    So for me, the real insight here is that it's basically no more difficult to get from 200 to 300 than from 100 to 200.

  • testli5504537 on May 17, 2008, 0:07 GMT

    With regards to the comments suggesting that Lara was only average batsmen probably need to view footage of the times he single-handedly won games for West Indies against teams like Australia.

    I agree with you in thinking that moving from 300 to 400 is difficult. Like when batsmen reach scores of 100 or 200, it seems like the batsmen are somewhat relieved leading to a lack of concentration and in turn their dismissal. I would also like to add that by the time bastmen are on scores like 300, one would expect the field to be very defensive and this coupled with mental and physical exhaustion would no doubt make it very difficult to score runs quickly. I suppose this is different for batsmen like Sehwag who I suppose naturally hits more sixes.

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2008, 12:16 GMT

    Just to note a few more differences between Hayden and Lara:

    - Lara was captain, so it was up to him whether or not he went for the record. Hayden wasn't.

    - Hayden was batting on the second evening, so even if Waugh had allowed him to aim for 400 at his own pace he could have declared with more than three days left to bowl the opposition out twice. By the time Lara was in sight of the record it was already the third afternoon.

    - The relative strengths of the team's own bowling attack (Lee, Gillespie, Bichel, MacGill vs Edwards, Collins, Best and Collymore) and the opposition's batting (Ebrahim, Gripper, Vermeulen, Carlisle, Wishart, Evans: combined Test batting average 128.38; Trescothick, Vaughan, Butcher, Hussain, Thorpe, Flintoff: 235.18). So on both these counts Lara should have given his bowlers more time to take 20 wickets.

    Repeat: however flat the pitch, it's as good as impossible to lose a Test after scoring 650. So declare then.

    [Reply: PLEASE NOTE. No more comments will be published on Lara or Hayden.]

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2008, 9:59 GMT

    I don't agree with the "selfish" aspect of Lara's 400. There is a lot of difference losing 4-0 and 3-0 or 3-1. 4-0 (white wash or black wash, whatever you may call it) is a humiliating prospect which most doesn't want to experience. During those times, WI had this spectacular brilliance of collapsing like nine pins for nothing. To put it in perspective, remember the series in Sri Lanka when Lara made more than half his side's score in the entire series and still lost 3-0? In that series against England, WI collapsed and lost in a match they had every chance of winning. If I am Lara, I would gladly give something to my country men to cherish about for years to come than declare the match relying on a bunch of no-performers..Period.

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    Silliest so called "achievement" in cricket.

    Lara is one of the most overrated batsmen of the generation. Great against spin and medium pace only.Positively subpar against extreme pace..seen him playing Donald or Akram? Embarrasing!

    What a load of nonsense is this that a batsman can carry on batting as long as he damn well pleases( since he is captain) to create some ridiculous record which his tiny band of fans will then celebrate?!! Even in the "Marathon" you have a "fixed" distance which athletes attempt to cover in ever reducing times. Do you have an event wherein a runner decides to keep on running,regardless of time,as long as the weather and terrain suits him?.....and then goes about trumpeting his "great" record?

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    @Terry. Since the topic obviously wasnt tendulkar/lara but some of you people insisted on bringing it up. I would unequivocally vote for tendulkar........

    [Comment edited. Please, this is not a Lara vs Tendulkar forum. NO more comment not directly related to the post, please.]

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2008, 5:15 GMT

    was english attack tired when they landed in the ground or brian Charles lara made them tired and they looked like "hurt" and "wounded" by lara's feat.dont forget the man has had many master pieces against the best of the worlds attack that cricket has known for last five four decades with likes of wasim,waqar,mcgrath,brett lee,shoaib akhtar,shane warne,murli,kumble,. you dont score over ten thousand test runs over night.its all about putting your name on top when you get the opportunity to do so.hats off to prince of trinidad ....

  • testli5504537 on May 15, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    Lets get one thing perfectly clear... Matthew Hayden got out at 380 because he WAS chasing the magical 400... Steve Waugh told Hayden that he wouldn't declare until he either got to 400 or he got out. Hayden simply got out trying to get the last 20 off one over from a lackluster bowler. Those that suggest he was playing for the team when he got out are just kidding themselves.

    [Reply: a remarkable perspective, I must say! A batsman, with a unique achievement within easy reach, is caught in the deep trying to hit 20 runs off an over when quick runs were called for. This is indeed a new definition of batting selfishly.]

  • testli5504537 on May 14, 2008, 10:24 GMT

    This response is to Chris (May 10, 2:19 PM):

    The suggestion that Test scores of 300+ are anything but extremely exceptional is bizarre. Let's go through your list:

    1. This is not necessarily true. Exceptions: Hanif's rearguard in '58, Bradman's 304 in '34, Rowe's 302 stymied by England salvaging an excellent draw. 2. Only sometimes. 3. Probably. 4. Not true. If the criterion is "live" matches (with result bearing relevance on series result to either team), then 16 innings were scored in matches where teams "aimed to win". 5. It's not logical to analyze the list by looking at the greats that are NOT there. The "all-timers" that ARE there (one of top 3 batsmen their country has produced) number at least 7 out of 19, and almost all could be considered "great". 6. Probably. 7. Usually. 8. This seems redundant. 9. Not true. 8/22 innings were in wins, so the innings had meaning.

    While some may be better than others, triples are amazing feats, no matter what the conditions.

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