Sir Donald Bradman - a fresh analytical look
1. Best ever batting performance in a test
During 2001, Wisden came out with a list of the 100 best Test innings of all time. Don Bradman's 270 played in Melbourne in 1937 was adjudged the best ever test innings. This was closely followed by Brian Lara's match-winning 153* and Graham Gooch's 154*.
Playing on a gluepot, Bradman declared at 200 for 9 and Gubby Allen countered by declaring at 76 for 9. The wicket was still very difficult and Bradman sent his tailenders in. Soon they were 97 for 5. Then Bradman and Jack Fingleton added 346 for the sixth wicket, . Bradman continued on and was ninth out at 270. England fought gamely but lost by a big margin. A tactical battle was won by Bradman, the captain and he led from the front. A potted summary of the match is given below.
Test # 257. Australia vs England. Played on 1,2,4,5,6,7 January 1937 at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia won by 365 runs. Australia: 200 for 9 wkt(s) England: 76 for 9 wkt(s) Australia: 564 all out (Bradman 270, Fingleton 136) England: 323 all out2. The best 10-innings stretch
Bradman's best 10-innings stretch was during 1937-46, when he scored 1236 runs at an average of 154.50
The scores were 212, 169, 51, 144*, 18, 102*, 103, 16, 187 and 234.
Also relevant here is "Alex"'s comment, reproduced below.
Also, regarding the 'best 10-innings stretch'. Bradman scored 1370 runs in 10 innings during 1930 and 1931: 131, 254, 1, 334, 14, 232, 4, 25, 223, 152. There were no not-outs during this period however, so his average was 'only' 137.0.
3. The worst 10-innings stretch
Bradman's worst 10-innings stretch started during the second Bodyline test during 1932-33 and continued until 1934 when he scored 426 runs (in 11 innings) at an average of 38.72. He finished this streak with his monumental 304 at Headingley during 1934.
The scores were 8, 66, 76, 24, 48, 71, 29, 25, 36, 13 and 30.
4. Highest average reached (after 10 innings)
Bradman reached his highest career average of 112.29 after the Adelaide Test against South Africa, in which he scored 299*.
5. Lowest average reached (after 10 innings)
Bradman reached his lowest career average, after passing the initial period of 10 Tests, of 89.56 after the Old Trafford Test against England during 1934. Not surprisingly this was the end of his worst streak, referred to elsewhere in this article.
6. When the average of 100.00 was reached
Surprisingly Bradman did not have a great start to his career. He reached an average of 100.00 (agreed very few have ever touched this milestone) only after 15 innings.
7. Quality of opposition bowling
Surprisingly the bowling Bradman faced in his career was slightly below the all-time average, 29.62 against 29.50. However it must be noted that he faced this level of bowling almost all the time. The all-time average arrived consists of 40s and 20s scattered across the 1800-odd Test matches.
8. Runs scored in each batting position
Batting Position 3 4 5 6 7 Runs scored 5078 485 427 681 325 Batting Average 103.63 53.89 142.33 97.29 162.50The No. 7 total is bolstered by that amazing innings of 270 referred to earlier in this article.
9. Analysis by batting position
Bradman's Batting Position Average is 3.65, indicating that he batted at No. 3 most of the time. For the record he batted at No. 3 a total of 56 times (70%).
10. Analysis of 100s
This is the one measure where he has yielded to a contemporary batsman. The average of the 29 hundreds Bradman has scored in Test cricket is a very high 185.97. Till a few weeks back, he was the No.1 batsman in this regard. Sehwag overtook this figure with his 319 in Chennai. However, Bradman's 100s frequency of 1.8 Tests per hundred is way ahead of any one else.
11. Home/Away runs scored
Not so surprisingly, considering his success in England, Bradman's away performance is superior to his Australian performances. He has scored 2674 runs away at an average of 102.85 while in Australia, he has scored 4322 runs at an average of 98.22.
12. How far ahead of the next
Just to show how far ahead Bradman is of the other batsmen, a relative scale table is shown below.
Measure Bradman % Next Best % Difference
Batting Avge 99.96 100.0 68.38 68.47 31.53 (Hussey) Runs per test 134.53 100.0 99.54 74.00 26.00 (Headley) Tests per 100 1.79 100.0 2.20 81.00 19.00 (Headley) Inns per 100 2.76 100.0 4.00 69.00 31.00 (Headley)
13. Man of the Match awards
Hey what is this, no Man of the Match awards were given when Bradman played. True. So I have gone through the scorecards and using the Innings Rating points, determined which player could have got the MOM award, if these were given. Bradman would have got no less than 16 MOM awards in the 52 Tests he played, a frequency of 3.25 tests per award. Compare this with the current leaders. The best is a frequency of 6.00.
Kallis 123 20 6.15 Muralitharan 123 19 6.47 Wasim Akram 104 17 6.12 Shane Warne 145 17 8.52 Ambrose 84 14 6.0014. Movement of averages
Finally a footnote. I am not sure whether I would jump with joy if someone, as reported recently, conclusively proved that Bradman scored those elusive four runs, by mistake credited to Jack Ryder, during 1929. The figure of 99.94 is etched into the memory of people and sounds far better than 100.00. It also confirms a nice human element to one perceived to be a super-human.
Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems