Trivia - batting September 6, 2008

The best two ODI batsmen - Richards and Tendulkar

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

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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