Analysing the 'who' and 'when' of ODI spells
After a couple of rather heavy Test articles, I have reverted to ODIs, that too bowling, an area which tends to be neglected. Also a simpler post which would make for easier reading.
Let us compare two bowling innspells. (We again renew our acquaintance with the term "innspell" which indicates the complete bowling effort in a single innings by a bowler.)
G.A.Mcgrath 7.0-4-15-7 A.D.Mullally 8.0-1-18-4
McGrath's first innspell contained the "priceless" scalps of Jan-Berrie Burger, Morne Karg, Danie Keulder, Gavin Murgatroyd, Deon Kotze, Louis Burger and Bjorn Kotze, Namibian batsmen who would find it difficult to get into the Tamil Nadu, Victoria or Surrey state/county teams.
The batsmen who Mullally dismissed in the second innspell are Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn, all for low scores. There is no doubt which is, by far, the more outstanding innspell.
This article analyses ODI bowling innspells from the point of view of "who" was dismissed and more relevantly, "when" was he dismissed. Let me say at the outset that this article is not to determine the best ODI innspells ever, in which case I have to take into account the bowling accuracy, result, match status, match importance and quality of opposition (in a summary form).
We only look at the wickets captured by the bowlers. Who was dismissed credits the bowler with the appropriate batting measure of the batsmen dismissed. (Viv Richards is better than Ponting who incidentally is better than Herschelle Gibbs who in turn is better than Shiv Chanderpaul and so on.) The point is that, at any stage in the innings, it is important to capture Sachin Tendulkar's wicket. I am sure a reader will point to a dismissal of Tendulkar in the 50th over and argue that the wicket is not valuable. I accept that. However I am talking of most matches.
When was the batsman dismissed is the other equally (or probably more) important factor. It is important to dismiss Tendulkar; it is more important to dismiss him sooner than later. Any dismissal below the batting average is good. The lower the batsman score at the time of dismissal the better it would be for the bowling team.
The measures used are equally simple. For the first, who was dismissed, I give credit to the bowler to the extent of the runs per innings value, since that is the fairest of measures. I seriously thought of ODI Batting Index, already presented and discussed in an earlier article. But the big problem of lower strike-rates during the early years is a deterring factor and decade level adjustments make the work quite complex. Batting average tends to favour those with high number of not-outs. Hence runs per innings seem to be the appropriate measure.
The when situation is addressed in an equally simple manner. Credit is given only if the batsman is dismissed for below the batting average (yes, this time we use the more relevant batting average measure). The extent of credit is the difference between the batsman score and batting average. The higher this factor is, the lower the batsman has been dismissed for. The added advantage of using the batting average is that a higher credit can be given for a very low score (0-5) dismissal of a top batsman.
The other important decision is only to consider the wickets 1-8. Lower-order wickets will only distort the overall picture and place more importance on the number of wickets than the quality of wickets. Of course, there may be situations in close matches where lower-order wickets are crucial. Again, my analysis is a limited one covering only the quality of wickets taken.
Readers might ask, why 1-8 and not 1-7 or 1-9. Just to strengthen this point I did a quixotic analysis of the No. 8 batting position of qualifying ODI innings (in all 3907). The results are fascinating. The average batting average of the batsmen who batted at No. 8 is a fairly high 17.80 and the highest is Bevan (53.58). Also 547 (14%) of these no.8 innings have been played by batsmen with batting average exceeding 25.00. This is mainly because many fine allrounders such as Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener, Wasim Akram, Shahid Afridi, Chris Cairns et al have often batted at No. 8. Also one pinch-hitter at the top forces a top batsman into the position. Hence my decision to consider batting positions 1-8.
I have considered bowlers who have taken four wickets and above. I have lowered the cut-off to four wickets since there are quite a few cases of a bowler taking four top-order wickets. Even with this cut-off, there are 1075 instances. When required, batting averages are tweaked to take care of the low matches played (below 25).
An aside. We have already seen that Bevan (53.58) is the best batsmen to have batted at No. 8. Richards (yes, the great Viv with an average of 47.00) once batted at no.9. Klusener (41.10) once adorned the No. 10 position and the outstanding Salim Malik (32.89) once came in last. These are only aberrations. Richards was run-out and Saleem Malik remained not out.
After this fairly long introduction, let us look at the top 20 performances. This analysis covers matches upto the second ODI between India and England. Two four-wicket innspells were performed in this match, one each by Yuvraj Singh and Broad.
No Bowler Year MtNo For-Opp Top Dis TopPts DisPts TotPts InnsSpell
1.Waqar Younis 2001 1724 Pak-Eng 7 7 185.17 172.96 358.13 10.0-0-36-7 1. Trescothick M.E 0 [Rpi:35.53] (Avg:37.37 - +37.37) 2. Knight N.V 9 [Rpi:36.36] (Avg:40.40 - +31.40) 3. Stewart A.J 18 [Rpi:28.87] (Avg:31.60 - +13.60) 4. Vaughan M.P 2 [Rpi:23.88] (Avg:27.15 - +25.15) 5. Shah O.A 3 [Rpi:24.67] (Avg:27.75 - +24.75) 6. Collingwood P.D 0 [Rpi:27.29] (Avg:34.69 - +34.69) 8. Cork D.G 4 [Rpi: 8.57] (Avg:10.00 - + 6.00)
2.Vaas WPUJC 2001 1776 Slk-Zim 7 7 169.77 173.24 343.01 8.0-3-19-8 1. Ebrahim D.D 0 [Rpi:18.99] (Avg:20.61 - +20.61) 2. Flower G.W 1 [Rpi:30.83] (Avg:33.69 - +32.69) 3. Carlisle S.V 16 [Rpi:25.61] (Avg:27.68 - +11.68) 4. Flower A 0 [Rpi:32.63] (Avg:35.34 - +35.34) 5. Wishart C.B 6 [Rpi:20.96] (Avg:23.23 - +17.23) 7. Taibu T 0 [Rpi:22.24] (Avg:27.39 - +27.39) 8. Streak H.H 0 [Rpi:18.51] (Avg:28.30 - +28.30)
3.Aaqib Javed 1991 0685 Pak-Ind 7 6 196.25 144.32 340.57 10.0-1-37-7 1. Shastri R.J 15 [Rpi:24.28] (Avg:29.05 - +14.05) 2. Sidhu N.S 21 [Rpi:34.76] (Avg:37.09 - +16.09) 3. Manjrekar S.V 52 [Rpi:28.49] (Avg:33.23) 4. Azharuddin M 0 [Rpi:30.45] (Avg:36.92 - +36.92) 5. Tendulkar S.R 0 [Rpi:40.20] (Avg:44.34 - +44.34) 7. Kapil Dev N 8 [Rpi:19.11] (Avg:23.79 - +15.79) 8. Prabhakar M 7 [Rpi:18.96] (Avg:24.13 - +17.13)
4.Collins P.T 2005 2212 Win-Aus 5 4 172.51 140.48 312.99 10.0-1-43-5 1. Clarke M.J 21 [Rpi:32.88] (Avg:42.47 - +21.47) 2. Hayden M.L 3 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +40.81) 3. Ponting R.T 0 [Rpi:38.06] (Avg:43.24 - +43.24) 5. Lehmann D.S 4 [Rpi:30.48] (Avg:38.96 - +34.96) 6. Katich S.M 76 [Rpi:31.52] (Avg:35.78)
5.Bond S.E 2003 1986 Nzl-Aus 6 6 167.65 143.88 311.53 10.0-2-23-6 1. Gilchrist A.C 18 [Rpi:34.48] (Avg:35.89 - +17.89) 2. Hayden M.L 1 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +42.81) 3. Ponting R.T 6 [Rpi:38.06] (Avg:43.24 - +37.24) 4. Martyn D.R 31 [Rpi:29.37] (Avg:40.81 - + 9.81) 7. Hogg G.B 0 [Rpi:12.15] (Avg:20.26 - +20.26) 8. Harvey I.J 2 [Rpi:14.02] (Avg:17.88 - +15.88)
6.Waqar Younis 2001 1725 Pak-Aus 5 4 169.03 137.11 306.14 8.0-0-59-6 2. Waugh M.E 0 [Rpi:36.02] (Avg:39.35 - +39.35) 3. Hayden M.L 0 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +43.81) 4. Bevan M.G 5 [Rpi:35.27] (Avg:53.58 - +48.58) 5. Waugh S.R 56 [Rpi:26.28] (Avg:32.91) 7. Symonds A 35 [Rpi:31.89] (Avg:40.37 - + 5.37)
7.Zoysa D.N.T 2004 2158 Slk-Saf 5 5 158.49 145.61 304.10 8.0-0-26-5 1. Smith G.C 14 [Rpi:38.14] (Avg:40.89 - +26.89) 2. Gibbs H.H 7 [Rpi:33.63] (Avg:36.18 - +29.18) 3. Boje N 14 [Rpi:19.92] (Avg:26.68 - +12.68) 4. Kallis J.H 0 [Rpi:36.70] (Avg:45.28 - +45.28) 5. Rudolph J.A 4 [Rpi:30.10] (Avg:35.58 - +31.58)
8.Styris S.B 2002 1843 Nzl-Win 6 5 174.05 124.77 298.82 7.0-0-25-6 1. Gayle C.H 60 [Rpi:37.23] (Avg:40.06) 3. Lara B.C 0 [Rpi:36.00] (Avg:40.49 - +40.49) 4. Hooper C.L 24 [Rpi:27.97] (Avg:35.34 - +11.34) 5. Sarwan R.R 2 [Rpi:35.13] (Avg:44.18 - +42.18) 7. Hinds W.W 4 [Rpi:26.50] (Avg:28.93 - +24.93) 8. Hinds R.O 11 [Rpi:11.22] (Avg:16.83 - + 5.83)
9.Lee B 2005 2284 Aus-Icc 4 4 144.30 147.33 291.63 9.0-2-30-4 1. Gayle C.H 0 [Rpi:37.23] (Avg:40.06 - +40.06) 4. Kallis J.H 2 [Rpi:36.70] (Avg:45.28 - +43.28) 5. Lara B.C 0 [Rpi:36.00] (Avg:40.49 - +40.49) 7. Dravid R 16 [Rpi:34.37] (Avg:39.50 - +23.50)
10.Broad S.C.J 2008 2754 Eng-Saf 5 5 146.71 142.15 288.86 10.0-3-23-5 1. Smith G.C 9 [Rpi:38.14] (Avg:40.89 - +31.89) 2. Gibbs H.H 10 [Rpi:33.63] (Avg:36.18 - +26.18) 3. Kallis J.H 6 [Rpi:36.70] (Avg:45.28 - +39.28) 5. Duminy J.P 8 [Rpi:26.39] (Avg:35.57 - +27.57) 7. Botha J 1 [Rpi:11.85] (Avg:18.23 - +17.23)
11.Joshi S.B 1999 1504 Ind-Saf 5 5 145.59 140.64 286.23 10.0-6- 6-5 1. Dippenaar H.H 17 [Rpi:36.01] (Avg:42.23 - +25.23) 2. Gibbs H.H 18 [Rpi:33.63] (Avg:36.18 - +18.18) 5. Cronje W.J 2 [Rpi:31.80] (Avg:38.65 - +36.65) 7. Rhodes J.N 1 [Rpi:26.98] (Avg:35.12 - +34.12) 8. Pollock S.M 0 [Rpi:17.17] (Avg:26.46 - +26.46)
12.Harmison S.J 2005 2251 Eng-Aus 5 4 176.09 106.75 282.84 10.0-0-33-5 1. Gilchrist A.C 26 [Rpi:34.48] (Avg:35.89 - + 9.89) 2. Hayden M.L 31 [Rpi:39.57] (Avg:43.81 - +12.81) 3. Ponting R.T 0 [Rpi:38.06] (Avg:43.24 - +43.24) 4. Martyn D.R 0 [Rpi:29.37] (Avg:40.81 - +40.81) 6. Hussey M.E.K 84 [Rpi:34.61] (Avg:57.14)
13.Imran Khan 1985 0325 Pak-Ind 5 5 137.69 144.48 282.17 10.0-2-14-6 1. Shastri R.J 0 [Rpi:24.28] (Avg:29.05 - +29.05) 2. Srikkanth K 6 [Rpi:28.22] (Avg:29.02 - +23.02) 4. Vengsarkar D.B 1 [Rpi:29.23] (Avg:34.73 - +33.73) 5. Gavaskar S.M 2 [Rpi:30.31] (Avg:35.14 - +33.14) 6. Amarnath M 5 [Rpi:25.65] (Avg:30.54 - +25.54)
The tables are self-explanatory. For sheer brilliance, intensity and top-drawer quality, the best performance in this regard is Waqar Younis' 7 for 36 against England. Seven wickets taken, all seven top-order wickets, all seven batsmen dismissed below their respective averages. This is sheer magic.
Chaminda Vaas gets into second place with figures somewhat similar to Waqar Younis. Seven top-order wickets, all well below their batting average. Even though this was against Zimbabwe, readers should remember that this Zimbabwe team was not bad, with decent averages and having Heath Streak bat at no.8.
I would personally place Aaqib Javed's performance at par with Vaas. Seven top-order wickets and only Sanjay Manjrekar managing to go past his bowling average. The hat-trick to boot.
Pedro Collins is the highest placed five-wicket bowler in this table. Five top-order Australian wickets, all below their averages. Shane Bond's is somewhat similar. It is only the fact that two of Bond's scalps are of lesser batsmen (Brad Hogg and Ian Harvey) which has pushed him below Collins.
The best-placed Indian bowler is the unheralded Sunil Joshi. His collection of five top South African batsmen, all below their averages is truly outstanding. The best placed Australian bowler is Brett Lee whose collection of four (yes, only four) ICC XI scalps has pushed him into the Top 10. But then the batsmen are Chris Gayle, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara and Rahul Dravid.
Just for interest, let me go back to the two innspells at the top. McGrath's 7 for 15 is placed in 399th position while Mullally's 4 for 18 is placed in 33rd position. I am sure most people would agree with these placings. Let me add that the incomparable McGrath has seven innspells placed in this table ahead of this particular one (and eight below).
To view the complete list please click here.
Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems