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September 6, 2008

Trivia - batting

The best two ODI batsmen - Richards and Tendulkar

Anantha Narayanan
Viv Richards, England v West Indies, July 1, 1991
 © Getty Images
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The large number of comments received and the very valid points mentioned in these have made me come out with a follow-up to my article on the best ODI batsman. In the article itself I had mentioned the following points as worthy of consideration for possible tweaks. I see no additions to these now.

1. Avoidance of double weighting for "Wins".
2. Possible cap on runs scored weightage.
3. Adjust for the paucity of matches played during the early 10 years.
4. Giving weight to key tournament wins such as World Cup and Champion's Trophy.
5. The subjective nature of MOMs, already mentioned by me in the main post did not go well with readers.
6. Quite a few readers have, while accepting Tendulkar's position at no.1, have questioned the wide gap between Tendulkar and Richards. It worries some readers that this gap will keep on widening.

Let me deal with these one by one. The last point is automatically taken care of by the tweaks.

1. Wins weightage and avoiding double weightage:

Ultimately winning has to carry some weightage in any analysis. Why do we respect and admire the 1980s West Indian teams. Not just because they had great players but because they won more than a fair share of the matches played. The recent Australian team might not be as admired as the earlier West Indian teams. However they are certainly respected, by peer players and viewers alike. I have looked at this carefully and have decided not to do any changes. The Win% does not seem to have any problems. The actual Wins had some comments but that carries only 5% weightage.

2. Possible cap on runs scored weightage and adjusting for the paucity of matches played during the early 10 years.

I have combined these two points. First I considered putting a cap on the runs scored weightage. The problem is that whatever figure I choose as the cap, it will only affect the very few players above that cap. For instance if I fix the cap at 10.0 points, only the 7 batsmen who have scored above 10,000 runs will be affected. That seems too arbitrary and discriminatory to me. The purpose would only be to put down a few players which is wrong.

The better alternative would be to leave the runs scored weightage as it is and adjust the early players' runs scored points upwards by an acceptable factor. This also means that we would increase certain players' rating points, for a valid reason, and not penalise a few.

After a few trials and errors, I have come out with the following formula which, I feel, would be acceptable to most readers and critics. This is a linear and simple formula.

No. of years played by the batsman: YEARS

Total number of matches played during these years: MATCHES

YEARS x 75 Multiplying Factor = ---------- MATCHES

Runs scored Index points = Runs scored Index points x Multiplying Factor.

Note: 75 is the average number of matches played per year during the period 1971-2008. Taking the average over all the 38 years will be less beneficial to the earlier era batsmen than taking the average, say, over the recent 10 years, working to 140. I am ready to accept this since the last 10 years have seen the ridiculuous peak of 191 matches during 2007 and so on. We have to allow for the natural growth patterns being maintained.
Example of Richards' adjustment
-------------------------------
Career span: 16 years (1975 to 1991)
Matches during career: 657 (22:first to 678:last)
Adjusting Factor: (16 x 75) / 657 = 1.8264
Richards' Runs scored index value = 6721/1000 = 6.721
Adjusted Runs scored index value = 6.721 x 1.8264 = 12.28
This looks eminently fair and equitable. What this tweak says is that if there had been more matches played during Richards' career of 16 years, he would have played in 341 matches and scored 12,280 runs. The only assumption is that the batsmen would have maintained their average. This is a very fair assumption.

I have taken all the matches played as the basis instead of the matches played by the batsman's country since this is a better method over a long period of time. Also the matches skipped do not play any point.

There is no doubt that the readers will come out with simple and complex alternatives to this segment. No denying that these may also be better. However I have gone on a simple, easy-to-understand-and-implement algorithm. The objective of redressing the balance between today's batsmen and earlier batsmen has been achieved.

Care is taken that if the Multiplying Factor is < 1.0, the adjustment does not take place. In other words no current player is penalised.

3. Giving weight to World Cup and Champion's Trophy wins & avoiding the subjective weighting for MOMs:

Readers will note that the MOM issue was raised by me in the original article itself. I myself am concerned with the subjective nature of MOMs and the fact that for many years batsmen got the preference while assigning MOMs. I cannot also deny the validity of statements asking for weight to be given for World Cup successes. These are once-in-four-years grand events and doing well in these is very essential for all top batsmen. I have also considered the 5 ICC/Champion's Trophys, this being second only to the 9 World Cups. No other tournament has been considered. With one stroke I have taken care of these two points.

What I have done is to completely remove the MOM weightings. Indtead the 5 points are allocated for Major Cup wins in the following manner.

World Cup wins: 1.0 point.
World Cup finalists: 0.5 point.
ICC/Champions' Trophy wins: 0.5 point.

Both Sri Lanka and India which shared the 2002 ICC Trophy get 0.5 point each. Again there may be arguments. However let me say this. One can argue till the cows come home, go out and then come home again, there is no single perfect answer. With 5 points available for allocation, this seems to be very fair. The top point scorers are given below.

Ponting: 4.0 points (3 WC wins + 1 WC finalist + 1 ICT win).
Gilchrist: 3.50 points (3 WC wins + 1 ICT win).
Richards: 2.50 points (2 WC wins + 1 WC finalist)
...
Tendulkar: 1.00 points (1 WC finalist + 1 ICT win)
It can be seen that Richards and Tendulkar, each with a WC finalist tag, are not too far apart. Also Tendulkar could add to his silverware.

Let us now look at the revised table.

ODI : The best batsmen ever - upto match no 2759 (31 Aug 2008)

No Cty Batsman Total Runs Avge R/I S/R BwQty Wins Win% % TS WC/Icc

100.0 20.0 15.0 5.0 25.0 15.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0

1.Win Richards I.V.A 77.37 12.28 11.75 4.02 24.60 12.20 2.64 3.53 3.85 2.50 2.Ind Tendulkar S.R 75.96 16.36 11.08 4.02 21.16 12.13 4.12 2.47 3.61 1.00 3.Aus Ponting R.T 73.09 11.11 10.81 3.81 19.63 12.63 4.32 3.59 3.19 4.00 4.Aus Gilchrist A.C 71.73 9.62 8.97 3.45 23.59 12.12 4.04 3.52 2.93 3.50 5.Slk Jayasuriya S.T 70.61 12.80 8.18 3.13 22.52 12.01 4.44 2.64 2.89 2.00 6.Aus Bevan M.G 67.96 6.91 13.40 3.53 18.31 13.88 3.10 3.34 3.00 2.50 7.Win Haynes D.L 66.93 12.38 10.34 3.65 16.74 12.16 3.18 3.34 3.63 1.50 8.Pak Inzamam-ul-Haq 66.74 11.74 9.88 3.35 18.31 11.81 4.28 2.83 3.04 1.50 9.Pak Javed Miandad 65.21 11.04 10.43 3.39 17.98 13.04 2.38 2.55 3.40 1.00 10.Aus Symonds A 65.20 5.01 10.09 3.19 22.41 12.58 2.98 3.86 2.58 2.50 11.Win Lara B.C 65.19 10.40 10.12 3.60 19.64 12.38 2.78 2.33 3.43 0.50 12.Saf Kallis J.H 65.15 9.61 11.17 3.64 17.33 12.98 3.50 3.15 3.26 0.50 13.Win Greenidge C.G 64.65 9.45 11.26 4.04 17.70 10.49 1.80 3.52 3.88 2.50 14.Aus Waugh M.E 64.49 8.50 9.84 3.60 19.39 12.29 3.04 3.11 3.22 1.50 15.Aus Hayden M.L 64.08 6.13 10.95 3.96 19.36 12.26 2.38 3.70 3.34 2.00 16.Ind Dravid R 64.00 10.59 9.87 3.44 17.36 13.25 3.14 2.36 3.00 1.00 17.Ind Ganguly S.C 63.84 11.36 10.26 3.79 18.14 10.64 2.98 2.40 3.27 1.00 18.Slk de Silva P.A 63.47 9.28 8.73 3.14 20.61 12.52 2.56 2.08 3.06 1.50 19.Aus Waugh S.R 63.24 7.57 8.23 2.63 19.26 13.75 3.92 3.02 2.38 2.50 20.Pak Saeed Anwar 62.98 8.82 9.80 3.62 20.20 10.95 2.82 2.85 3.42 0.50 21.Win Lloyd C.H 62.88 5.74 9.77 2.83 22.05 12.17 1.32 3.79 2.71 2.50 22.Aus Chappell G.S 62.82 10.70 10.05 3.24 21.60 10.27 0.70 2.36 3.39 0.50 23.Aus Jones D.M 62.26 6.99 11.15 3.77 18.86 11.99 1.96 2.99 3.55 1.00 24.Pak Mohammad Yousuf 61.81 9.24 10.80 3.64 18.19 10.81 3.12 2.90 3.12 0.00 25.Saf Rhodes J.N 61.75 5.93 8.78 2.70 20.11 15.00 3.10 3.16 2.46 0.50 26.Aus Hussey M.E.K 61.61 2.39 13.91 3.47 20.54 12.26 1.30 3.57 2.68 1.50 27.Ind Sehwag V 61.36 5.81 8.11 3.12 23.82 12.41 1.90 2.49 2.70 1.00 28.Saf Gibbs H.H 61.31 7.59 9.12 3.39 20.24 11.95 2.88 3.12 3.03 0.00 29.Pak Zaheer Abbas 61.23 6.53 11.91 4.29 22.42 8.82 0.60 2.42 4.25 0.00 30.Ind Azharuddin M 61.21 9.38 9.23 3.04 18.97 12.09 3.20 2.40 2.90 0.00

Richards has gained on two indices, the run scored index and Cup wins index. These are sufficient to move him just ahead of Tendulkar. Tendulkar could catch up with Richards by scoring additional runs while maintaining his average and run-rate figures. He could also win the World Cup and/or Champions' Trophy.

Ponting, Gilchrist and Jayasuriya exchange places. Bevan, Haynes, Miandad and Symonds move up. Lara, Kallis and Ganguly move out of the Top 10.

What is important is that in the earlier top-10 group there was only one player from an earlier era, Richards. Now we have three players, all great ones worthy of this placing. These are Richards, Haynes and Javed Miandad.

To view the complete list, click here

A final note to the readers.

Richards was the uncrowned king of his era between 1975 and 1990. Tendulkar similarly was the greatest batsman of his era, between 1990 and now. These are the two greatest batsmen of all time. The top placement of either of these batsmen does not demean the other. To recognise Richards' greatness it is not necessary to put Tendulkar down. Similarly Tendulkar need not be deified by villifying Richards. You would honour your own favourite batsmen if you recognise the greatness of the other great batsmen. Neither of them needs nor deserves blind hero worship. Simply accept that they are the two greatest ODI batsmen ever.

Did Richards cause the loss of 1983 WC for West Indies. Did Tendulkar cause the loss of the 2003 WC for India. No way. It was the collective inability of the respective losing teams to rise to the occasion which lost them the matches. To be fair, it was the totally committed way India played in 1983 and Australia played in 2003 which made them deserved winners. Any other interpretation takes credit away from the winning teams' performances.

A similar situation exists with the 1992 and 1996 World Cups. Imran Khan, Inzamam, Miandad, Wasim Akram, Aaqib and Mushtaq all contributed to a great Pakistani win. Four years later, Aravinda D'Silva, Gurusinha and Ranatunga fashioned a wonderful victory. I suggest you savour these great moments instead of arguing about odd failures.

Let me also mention that I would not have gone ahead with these tweaks if I had not been convinced of the validity of such changes. It is difficult for me to acknowledge specific readers since there were many who sent in invaluable comments. My thanks to all these discerning readers.

There will be no follow-up to this follow-up article. Comments will be published only if they respect the writers, other readers and more importantly players, all of them great ones. And, please, positively none of these "XYZ IS THE GREATEST." type of messages.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Keywords: Trivia

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Posted by Srisam on (October 16, 2008, 20:39 GMT)

In my opinion, I think that Richards is by far the best one day player of all time. Considering the fact that he did not have any apparent weakness in his batting; many all time great bowlers wondered how to get him out, and many suggested that let him loose, don’t over attack, and wait for him to make a mistake etc because he was so dominant equally on spin and pace.

Where as in Tendulkar, his inability handle quality quick bowling especially shot pitch stuff was very obvious weakness. One can contain Tendulkar by bowling a quick bouncer but no one would dare take a chance by bowling a bouncer to intimidate Richards for the bowler would see the ball sailing out of the grounds. The way he handled fearsome pace of Thomson and Len Pasco in Australia would vouch for this argument

Posted by eric on (October 16, 2008, 19:31 GMT)

tendulkar and richards are no doubt the best but ponting is coming..l do not agree with guys like chris gayle being left out of the picture.those are the real one day player..would you coose a team with s.waugh leaving out gayle..but cheers the least stands out..my best bowler of all time is wasim akram..respect to pollock,mcgrath but guys watch out for Lee...

Posted by ARK. on (October 13, 2008, 2:22 GMT)

[[ Ananth: In your anxiety to show off and get your comments published you have missed reading the follow-up article to this in which, I have done re-calculation of the parameters, based on reader inputs. This has put Richards comfortably ahead of Tendulkar. Kindly take the trouble of reading the follow-up article IN FULL and you will see that all comments such as yours have been incorporated. I suggest that next time you do not rush to mail in a half-baked manner. I will repeat, not that I need to, Tendulkar is not one of my favourite batsmen. ]]

Haha well done Anantha .... 'Neutral' ppl like you should do more such 'unbiased' analysis. Very nicely you deleted several points that I had made in my posts and have put up only those that don't enlist the valid points that I made - points that show how much superior King Vivian was to Tendulkar - considering the absence of protective gear; of batsmen-protecting, bowler-crippling and scoring enhancing rules; of covered slower pitches; of superfast men hounding batsmen; factors that Richards had to negotiate and Tendulkar did not. You also left out the luminaries among fast bowlers that I named from the 70s and 80s; not to mention the two GREATEST innings ever played in ODI history - the 153* against Lillee-Thommo-Hogg and the 189* vs Willis-Botham-Foster. Keep it up Anantha .... we need Sachin fans and 'patriots' like yourself. Continue with your analysis. Good luck.

Posted by FISHBITE on (October 12, 2008, 6:02 GMT)

I am sorry to reflect and the sooner you realise the better. The Indian prodigy Sachin Tendulkar is a spent force now. Also long as he was going we had a good time and were lucky to be in this world to have actually seen him in action but if he cannot bounce back from the form he going thru lately and actually wallop the Aussies then I am sure he will not feel upto it to motivate himself to go on in this game anymore. I sincerely believe he is stretching his career for the sole benefit of owning and sealing his current many records. But, unfortunately,if he cannot produce now or in 2009, he will watch himself, while still playing the game, his nemesis Ponting break and cross most, if not all, of his record. The attitude, concentration and strong will power that Ponting has got aided by his current form, does not auger well for Tendulkar and his collection of records. Alas,this supernova is fading away. Let's cherish this giant's memories and welcome another cricketing giant

Posted by ARK on (October 9, 2008, 0:41 GMT)

To sum up, the King was simply the greatest ODI batsman ever, across all eras and all teams, and by many miles. He was besides that, the most devastating, the most entertaining, the most feared, the most innovative and the most majestic willow-wielder that ever played the game. He was the King if ever there was one.

Posted by ARK on (October 9, 2008, 0:37 GMT)

Finally its high time we stopped talking of the 'Desert Storm' innings - that was on the flattest track ever against an attack consisting of club-level bowlers like Kasperowicz, Fleming, Moody and Reiffel and an injured Warne. Also his 98 against Pak in WC'03 was on a super-flat track and that was evident from that the Pakistanis always knew that 273 was going to be a low total on that pitch. As for the attack it had a 37-yr old Akram, a 34-yr old Waqar to back up Shoaib, indeed they were both in their primes just because Tendulkar played well in that match.

Also his 150+ knocks have been against the worst attacks in the best batting conditions - eg. his 186* against a pathetic NZ attack on a superflat track. Opening in great batting conditions against C-grade attacks is the line reason that T'kar seems to stand up statistically, the only measure in which he can stand up to Sir Viv, who was otherwise a far, far superior batsman to him.

Posted by Ajay on (September 18, 2008, 1:12 GMT)

Can you please do this type of analysis for tests. That will be very interesting.

Posted by Vimalan on (September 13, 2008, 1:55 GMT)

@Ananth

The above reply of yours to Santosh contradicts your earlier reply to Micheal Brown. This is what you have written.

"I get the feeling that readers would have liked the World Cup weighting to be a more precise one based on the batsman's performance during the WC and not 1.0/0.5/0.0 as has been done. That would have required a lot more time and I was not sure whether I had the time to do that. The other point I myself have realized is that by any chance the best performer during the WC misses the Final owing to an injury, he would have no credit in the current methodology since only the 11 players who played in the Final get credit. Anyhow the point is well taken."

What Santosh has written is, it is not fair to give points to ICC tournament wins while rating a batsman. You also have accepted the same. But your above statement really contradict your earlier statement. Please clarify what is your stand on giving points to the ICC championship wins. [[ You have not understood what I have written. Because Santosh commented on Tendulkar losing a point or two for winning WCs and his statement on this rating being unfair, I brought out Richards also losing out by not winning 1983 WC. I have not contradicted myself at all. To Michael I have written that the WC points could have been more accurately determined instead of being given as 0.0 or 1.0. ]]

Posted by Santosh on (September 12, 2008, 13:45 GMT)

It is unfortunate to see that sachin lost more than 1.5 point just because india couldnt make to and/or win WC finals. Similarly 1 more point he lost due to india's winning percentage. This way I feel SRT is unlucky to be 2nd OR it might be unfair rating scheme. [[ A West Indian supporter might say that Richards was unlucky not to get the 0.5 point extra for winning the 1983 WC, that he did not have Champions' Trophy in his time etc. Just because Tendulkar is not on top does it become an unfair Rating scheme. ]]

Posted by mayank on (September 11, 2008, 14:59 GMT)

how come shahi afridi is better odi batsman than jaywardane, sangarkara , yuvraj,astle, hooper, cairns,izaz ahmed etc

and points on matches/tournaments should be ommited coz cricket is a team game...and no player performs in all the matches he won..so why should he be awarded points on those matches... i think more wheightage should be given on MOMs... centuries and half centuries should also be awarded some points..

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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