Trivia - batting January 23, 2009

A ranking system for Test openers

How do today's great opening batsmen like Hayden, Sehwag and Smith compare with those of the past like Hobbs, Gavaskar and Sutcliffe
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Mathew Hayden's retirement has drawn the curtains on the career of one of the greatest openers of all time. He, along with Sehwag and Greame Smith, re-defined the art of Test opening. Where do these wonderful opening batsmen stand vis-a-vis other greats like Hobbs, Gavaskar and Sutcliffe? I feel that this is the right time to do such a study.

The study of opening batsmen is a complicated task. Over the years the role of opening batsmen has changed. From defensive, stay-at-wicket-at-all-costs batsmen they have become match-winners who have been primarily responsible for the attacking attitudes which captains employ now. The study has to recognise this evolution and be fair to all types of opening batsmen.

The first task is to fix a minimum limit criteria. I have fixed this as 3000 runs, scored in the opening position (not complete career). This lets in most great openers. The only top-drawer opener left out is Hanif Mohammad (2638 runs). Unfortunately nothing can be done. I apologise to my Pakistani friends for this. I have also given at the end Hanif Mohammad's values. The other great opener left out, Victor Trumper, has scored only 1650 runs in the opening position. I wanted to avoid any longevity-based weighting and the only way is to keep a high entrance bar. The number of qualifying batsmen has also to be kept at a reasonable number, 35 in this case.

In order to cater to the different playing times, tactics, grounds et al, I have used the following 7 criteria. Each is explained in full later.

1. Home Batting Average.
2. Away batting Average.
3. Average Runs scored - weighted by the quality of bowling attack.
4. Scoring Rate.
5. Average opening partnerships participated in.
6. Quality of the top 3 pace bowlers faced.
7. Quality of batting support - Other opener and next 3 batsmen.

The principle I have followed is that the three direct measures, Home average, Away average and Average weighted runs, will carry a total weight of 50%. The other four secondary measures will have equal weight.

1. Home Batting Average (15 points).

This is the most basic of all measures. It is a straight forward computation of the home batting average. Since the minimum number of home runs scored by a batsman in the group of 35 is 1246 (by Michael Vaughan), any average figure will be valid.

The highest home average is that of Herbert Sutcliffe who has an outanding 64.60 average while playing as an opener in England. Mike Atherton of England is at the bottom with an average of 39.14.

2. Away batting Average (20 points).

This is the other basic measure. It is a straight forward computation of the away batting average. It carries a higher weighting than the home batting average for obvious reasons. Since the minimum number of away runs scored by a batsman in the group of 35 is 916 (by John Edrich), any average figure will be reasonably valid.

Away from home, the other great opener Hobbs averages 59.17. Mudassar Nazar travels very poorly with an average of 25.75.

3. Average Runs scored - weighted by the quality of bowling attack (15 points).

The first two were basic measures. However there is need to value the runs scored against better bowling attacks higher. Greame Smith should get much more credit for his knock of 154 against England as compared to his innings of 232 against Bangladesh even though both were match-winning innings and the second is 50% higher. This is done by weighting the runs scored by the bowling strength of the opposing team and averaging the same.

Hobbs' run tally comes down to 90% while Andrew Strauss' tally moves up to 109%.

4. Scoring Rate (12.5 points).

This is a new measure. The openers have changed the way the Tests are played now. First Hayden and then Greame Smith, Sehwag and Gayle et al have scored consistently at well above 3 runs per over and this has resulted in many more decisive games. This factor has to be recognized and has been.

We have accurate balls played information for the past 15 years and this can be used. For the early Tests I have assigned to the opening batsmen the team's strike rate for the innings. This might vary slightly from actual balls played information, which is, unfortunately, available nowhere. However this will even out over a career. It is also true that the olden day openers, barring a very few attacking players, played quite slowly and most of them would in reality be benefited by this methodology. For openers such as Jayasuriya, Greenidge, Haynes et al, wherever available, actual balls faced information is utilised.

The highest scoring rate for an opener has been achieved by Sehwag who has scored at an incredible 4.75 runs per over.

5. Average opening partnerships participated in (12.5 points).

This is a very good measure since it provides an indication of the effectiveness of the opener. Herbert Sutcliffe has averaged opening stands around 73 runs. The lowest figure is for Alec Stewart, around 36 runs.

6. Quality of the top 3 pace bowlers faced (12.5 points).

When the openers walk in at 0 for 0, they have a daunting task. If they reach lunch at xyz for 0, they would have done their job. Everything afterwards is a bonus. During these two hours or so, the opening batsmen are likely to face the three best pace bowlers of the other team. If these three happen to be Marshall, Holding and Garner as a few opening pairs faced during the 80s, as against the openers who faced Madan Lal, Amarnath and Solkar, they have to be given due credit.

The best three pace bowlers' averages are summed and averaged over the number of times the batsman opened.

Alec Stewart has faced the toughest pace bowlers with a low average of 27.75. A number of recent English opening batsmen have somewhat low figures since they have faced strong Australian attacks in frequent Ashes series. At the other end Hobbs, surprisingly, has had the easiest of opening stints at 37.09. Understandable since the non-English bowling between 1908 and 1930 was quite ordinary.

7. Quality of batting support - Other opener and next 3 batsmen (12.5 points).

Imagine Greenidge walking in with Haynes, with Richards, Kallicharan and Lloyd to follow. Or Langer walking in with Hayden with Ponting, Clarke and Hussey to follow. Contrast this with Gavaskar walking with the happy-go-lucky Srikkanth and P Sharma, Viswanath and BP Patil to follow. These are the extremes. This measure takes into account the supporting batsmen. The other opener gets highest weighting, followed by the no.3, no.4 and no.5 batsmen with progressive lower weightings. These proportionate averages are added and averaged. Higher credit is given for lower support averages.

It is clear that a strong bowler in a weak team has the benefit that he can take a greater share of wickets than a strong bowler in a strong team (Hadlee/Muralitharan against McGrath/Warne). Contrast this with batting where good support is always a boost to the batsmen.

As can be expected, Justin Langer has the best supporting batting with a figure of around 50. Don't forget that Langer had Mathew Hayden as the other opener. The one who had the least support is Chris Gayle with 33.63, despite the presence of Lara at no.4.

Table of top opening batsmen of all time

No Cty Batsman                 HmAvg  AwAvg AdjRpt ScRate OpPshp PaceBow BatSup

100.00 15.00 20.00 15.00 12.50 12.50 12.50 12.50

1.Eng Sutcliffe H 72.00 12.92 15.20 11.40 5.43 11.51 7.03 8.51 2.Ind Sehwag V 71.72 10.41 14.05 11.12 9.89 8.25 8.85 9.15 3.Aus Simpson R.B 70.71 10.51 15.60 11.36 5.56 10.71 8.05 8.93 4.Saf Smith G.C 69.46 9.13 15.31 10.13 7.69 10.03 7.60 9.57 5.Eng Hobbs J.B 68.70 10.46 15.78 10.08 5.98 10.05 6.45 9.91 6.Ind Gavaskar S.M 67.80 9.57 14.11 10.33 5.84 6.95 9.49 11.50 7.Eng Hutton L 67.69 11.60 14.54 10.56 5.01 8.52 7.34 10.11 8.Eng Amiss D.L 66.77 11.18 13.94 11.40 5.29 6.73 7.22 11.02 9.Aus Hayden M.L 66.26 11.58 11.38 10.33 7.51 8.91 8.53 8.01 10.Eng Boycott G 65.55 9.68 12.77 10.14 5.01 8.40 9.09 10.46 11.Eng Vaughan M.P 65.52 11.33 10.71 9.39 6.77 9.59 7.72 10.02 12.Win Greenidge C.G 65.15 9.84 11.34 9.18 6.78 9.30 9.31 9.40 13.Pak Saeed Anwar 64.61 9.27 12.72 9.44 6.97 5.80 9.14 11.28 14.Aus Langer J.L 64.42 10.15 11.98 9.97 7.24 9.27 8.50 7.32 15.Saf Gibbs H.H 64.40 9.22 12.92 9.66 6.54 8.61 8.82 8.63 16.Eng Trescothick M.E 64.22 10.21 9.63 9.40 6.81 9.52 8.48 10.18 17.Eng Stewart A.J 64.15 10.17 11.03 9.21 6.08 5.64 11.12 10.92 18.Win Haynes D.L 63.21 11.33 8.94 8.50 6.65 8.74 9.36 9.69 19.Aus Lawry W.M 63.21 11.27 10.56 9.67 5.38 9.15 7.92 9.24 20.Eng Gooch G.A 63.10 9.56 10.12 9.16 6.03 6.82 10.39 11.03 21.Win Fredericks R.C 63.06 9.22 10.68 9.18 6.24 9.69 8.58 9.47 22.Eng Edrich J.H 62.16 9.14 11.10 9.40 5.25 8.37 9.05 9.84 23.Slk Jayasuriya S.T 62.15 8.85 10.07 8.00 8.14 8.41 8.92 9.76 24.Eng Strauss A.J 61.92 8.15 11.97 9.19 6.11 7.97 9.03 9.52 25.Aus Slater M.J 61.77 10.53 9.41 8.43 6.66 8.55 9.02 9.18 26.Win Hunte C.C 61.64 10.70 10.32 9.42 5.78 8.12 7.18 10.12 27.Win Gayle C.H 61.60 7.66 11.28 8.36 7.17 7.00 8.54 11.59 28.Aus Taylor M.A 61.25 8.68 11.63 8.65 5.37 7.42 9.82 9.69 29.Slk Atapattu M.S 60.46 8.28 12.05 8.12 5.59 8.48 8.45 9.49 30.Aus Morris A.R 60.25 7.75 14.74 8.91 5.79 6.10 7.97 8.98 31.Saf Kirsten G 59.80 7.90 11.81 8.65 5.20 6.39 9.33 10.52 32.Eng Atherton M.A 59.27 8.28 9.63 8.35 4.86 6.40 10.98 10.76 33.Aus McDonald C.C 57.65 9.53 8.89 8.40 5.01 7.34 8.02 10.46 34.Nzl Wright J.G 57.11 8.40 9.00 7.48 5.08 6.03 8.98 12.14 35.Pak Mudassar Nazar 56.04 10.43 6.87 7.20 6.25 5.81 9.02 10.47

Herbert Sutcliffe's position at the top is a well-earned one. He leads in two of the key measures

	- Home average,
	- Average opening partnership and
	- Has a very good Away batting average of 57.00
He is only one of two batsmen, the other being Miandad, who has never fallen below 50 in their (reasonably long) career. He clocks in comfortably in the other measures. He however had good support (Hobbs/Hammond) at the other end. The bowling Sutcliffe faced was nothing great.

Sehwag's second position should not surprise any unbiased observer. His credentials are listed below.

	- 50+ averages both home and away,
	- Almost all his top scores have been against top class bowling,
	- He has an excellent strike rate of 4.75 rpo,
	- Has faced very good quality pace bowling almost always and
	- He has scored only around 200 runs in 5 Tests against Bangladesh/Zimbabwe.
In fact he would have been at the top if the Strike Rate measure was, say, 15.00 instead of 12.50. That would have been a worthy position for Sehwag. He has won many matches for India through his uncompromising attacking style.

Bobby Simpson is the surprise package. The main reason is that his overall batting average is only 46.82. However his opening average is 55.52, that too, 52.55 at home and 58.48 away. His opening partnerships, mostly with Lawry, averaged 68 and he faced good quality pace bowling almost always.

Then comes Graeme Smith, who is somewhat similar to Sehwag and Hayden. He has an away average of 57.43. He loses out slightly in view of the runs scored against weaker teams, and also the quality of pace attacks faced.

Then come three great openers of yesteryears. Hobbs, Gavaskar and Hutton. Each of them could have been at the top with no questions asked. All have very good averages. Gavaskar loses in the average opening partnership but gains on the pace bowling quality and a very average middle order.

Hayden has lost out a little because of the indifferent end to his career (His average dropped by 2.5 runs during the last 10 Tests). Otherwise he would have challenged for a place in the top 5.

Readers would note that the top 10 opening batsmen comprise of 3 attacking match-winning openers of today and 7 openers of the previous eras. It is clear that for any opener of today to break into the top-10 they have to be extraordinarily good, as these three have been. One does not necessarily have to score at around 4 rpo, in which case, they have to average well above 50, both home and away and do that consistently against the top sides, not just the minnows. Being part of a good opening pair and consistently putting up above average partnerships would help.

As I had indicated earlier, I have given below Hanif Mohammad's summary figures. What is very relevent is his away batting average, which, standing at 44.05, is 20% better than his Home average. Also the total lack of support batting.

Pak Hanif Mohammad   56.62   7.37  11.75   8.01   4.38   5.44   7.17  12.50

Finally a note to the readers. One factor I keep in my mind always is that each of the measures used in all my articles should be understood by all the readers, without exception. One of the reasons I try to stay away from complex statistical measures and methodologies.

Click here to view supporting information.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harsh Thakor on January 21, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Overall,Jack Hobbs was to me the best of all opening batsman.He mastered the wet pitches and even outscored the Don on those tracks.Above all he scored 12 centuries against Australia and featured in many of his team's famous victories.Hutton and Gavaskar are just below who fight for the second place in a photo-finish.Hutton's outstanding efforst on bad wickets may just give him the 2nd spot although Gavaskar faced the greatest pace bowling.At times these two batsman were over defensive and lacked match-winning instinct.Sadly,Barry Richards missed out in Test Cricket otherwise he may well have ben the best of them.No opener dominated bolwing to such a considerable extent and he proved his talent with brilliant knocks in World series Cricketin Australia in the late 1970's.Boycott although technically a master was too selfish a batsman.At his best Greenidge could have matched the very best with his form in the mid-1980's and so could Glenn Turner at his peak.

  • Rabin on February 27, 2009, 13:19 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    I agree with most of the criteria used, however there should be additional criterias utilised such as batting to pass a follow on total in excess of 350 runs, batting in a fourth innings to win a match or to draw a game to save a series or to win the series. Furthermore the use of safety equipment is a significant factor. Think of Roberts/Holding and others at their fiery best at some of those venues in the West Indies in the past and one will see that Gavaskar would be rated in the top 2.

    Presently there is a substantial amount of technology in use to study bowlers and batsmen to such a degree that a batsman can have the advantage to counter bowlers much more easily than in the past

  • Frank Matthews on February 17, 2009, 0:54 GMT

    I can't understand people belittling Sehwag's epic 319 in Chennai against South Africa as scored on a 'flat track'. It was a 'flat track' for all the batsmen, wasn't it? How come Sehwag score a triple century when no one else scored a double century? What about quality of the SA bowling? How often has an attack containing quality bowlers like Steyn and Ntini been 'hammered'? Irrespective of the condition of the pitch and or opposition bowling line up, any triple century is a testimony to the batsman's skill, temperament, stamina and determination. Don't forget that Sehwag scored his triple at faster than a run a ball. Plus it came when India were under some pressure because of South Africa's huge first innings total. In contrast, Hayden's then world record 380 came against lowly Zimbabwe, surely the weakest team in the world then and now. Give Sehwag his due, he plays with a positive attitude, looking to score off every ball if possible.

  • graeme on February 6, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    just further on qualification, I think a batsman has to play at least 3 tests in each of the 3 zones before he can qualify zone 1-sub-continent(Ind,Pak,SL,BGD), zone 2-southern hemisphere(Aus,NZ,SA) and Northern Hemisphere 3-(England,WI) that way you can see a batsman perform in a variety of conditions against different bowling attacks rather than just dominate one team as Sutcliffe did.

  • keyur on February 2, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    i request you to do a post on oneday finishers(which can be defined as batsman batting in positions 5-8 since they would normally have to bat after the first 25 overs) you can keep a criteria of say minimum 50 innings or 1500 runs in those positions. while hussey,bevan,klusener should be a shoo-in at the top, i think dravid, yuvraj, dhoni, clarke, symonds too should be close...

  • keyur on February 2, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    I appreciate the amount of hardwork you must have put in this article but this article has become a bit too complicated. i think the points about opening partnership or batting support are unnecessary. else every batsman opening with sehwag with dravid, sachin,laxman,ganguly to folllow should have succeeded.further opening partnership favors openers who were part of successful pairs and disfavors gavaskar,morris,etc. Finally about pace bowling, most people will agree that sehwags 300 in chennai against sa was not better than his 200 at galle although the pace bowling strength of sa was better than srilanka. i presume that the adjusted runs scored takes into account th scoring pattern of the match(high/low scoring) and the quality of opposition bowling attack-including spinners. hence i suggest that points should be calculated as follows: 20 strike rate 25 home avg. 30 away avg.(so total 55 points avg, 20 s/r) 25 adjusted run point as per opp bowling&pitch condition Total 100points

  • zakir on February 2, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    i want to Bangladesh ODi batsman ranking total.

  • gmnorm on January 31, 2009, 18:34 GMT

    Average opening partnership is an invalid criteria since it depends on the gent on the other end and not the person being evaluated. This is like giving extra marks to Damien Fleming because of McGrath at the other end

  • Aaron on January 31, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    I feel that the way you have included strike rate bumps modern players far up the list. Langer, Gayle, Hayden, Smith, Sehwag, Jayasuriya all have ratings over 7 for this point. No one else in your table has a rating over 7 from any other era. If every great opening batsmen from this era has a good strike rate rating it suggests that a high strike rate is not unusually brilliant nowadays.

    Also take a look at this example from your table: Michael Atherton: HAverage = 35 --> 8.28 points. Sutcliffe: HAverage = 64.6 --> 12.92 compared to Sutton Strike Rating ---> 5.01 Sehwag Strike Rating ---> 9.89

    Your ratings system equates a difference in average of 30 to a difference in strike rate of 30. I know it's objective, but I think that is a bit farcical. The strike rate is given way too much credence in your table. [[ Aaron Your point has its intrinsic merits. However you should see that those who have been benefited are the ones who have consistently scored at above 3 runs per over. There are many modern openers who have scored well below 3 rpo have lost out. So this is not necessarily a measure which will benefit all the modern openers. As far as the olden openers are concerned they might have lost out a little in this measure but would gain on couple of other measures on Average and Opening Partnerships. Also they have been credited with the team scoring rate. In other words it is mostly likely that they would have benefited since the opening scoring would have been at a lower rate. Finally I strongly feel that the attacking openers have enriched the game to a great extent and have to be acknowledged. When Pietersen declared setting India 382 to win at just under 4 rpo, it was only Sehwag's positive thinking which won the test for India. Another modern opener or ,ost olden day openers would have aimed for a draw and a score of 40 for no loss at close play. This attitude has changed the face of test cricket and we cannot fail to acknowledge the same. If I had completely ignored the scoring rate and the lists was headed by a set of staid openers, that also would have been a farce. I certainly acknowledge the validity of your point. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on January 31, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Ananth,

    When you did your 'Best ODI Batsman' analysis a couple of months ago, you used total career runs and career wins as factors in the player rankings.

    Why not use those measures here? [[ Kartik Some one else, I think Andy, has raised this question and I have answered that comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on January 21, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Overall,Jack Hobbs was to me the best of all opening batsman.He mastered the wet pitches and even outscored the Don on those tracks.Above all he scored 12 centuries against Australia and featured in many of his team's famous victories.Hutton and Gavaskar are just below who fight for the second place in a photo-finish.Hutton's outstanding efforst on bad wickets may just give him the 2nd spot although Gavaskar faced the greatest pace bowling.At times these two batsman were over defensive and lacked match-winning instinct.Sadly,Barry Richards missed out in Test Cricket otherwise he may well have ben the best of them.No opener dominated bolwing to such a considerable extent and he proved his talent with brilliant knocks in World series Cricketin Australia in the late 1970's.Boycott although technically a master was too selfish a batsman.At his best Greenidge could have matched the very best with his form in the mid-1980's and so could Glenn Turner at his peak.

  • Rabin on February 27, 2009, 13:19 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    I agree with most of the criteria used, however there should be additional criterias utilised such as batting to pass a follow on total in excess of 350 runs, batting in a fourth innings to win a match or to draw a game to save a series or to win the series. Furthermore the use of safety equipment is a significant factor. Think of Roberts/Holding and others at their fiery best at some of those venues in the West Indies in the past and one will see that Gavaskar would be rated in the top 2.

    Presently there is a substantial amount of technology in use to study bowlers and batsmen to such a degree that a batsman can have the advantage to counter bowlers much more easily than in the past

  • Frank Matthews on February 17, 2009, 0:54 GMT

    I can't understand people belittling Sehwag's epic 319 in Chennai against South Africa as scored on a 'flat track'. It was a 'flat track' for all the batsmen, wasn't it? How come Sehwag score a triple century when no one else scored a double century? What about quality of the SA bowling? How often has an attack containing quality bowlers like Steyn and Ntini been 'hammered'? Irrespective of the condition of the pitch and or opposition bowling line up, any triple century is a testimony to the batsman's skill, temperament, stamina and determination. Don't forget that Sehwag scored his triple at faster than a run a ball. Plus it came when India were under some pressure because of South Africa's huge first innings total. In contrast, Hayden's then world record 380 came against lowly Zimbabwe, surely the weakest team in the world then and now. Give Sehwag his due, he plays with a positive attitude, looking to score off every ball if possible.

  • graeme on February 6, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    just further on qualification, I think a batsman has to play at least 3 tests in each of the 3 zones before he can qualify zone 1-sub-continent(Ind,Pak,SL,BGD), zone 2-southern hemisphere(Aus,NZ,SA) and Northern Hemisphere 3-(England,WI) that way you can see a batsman perform in a variety of conditions against different bowling attacks rather than just dominate one team as Sutcliffe did.

  • keyur on February 2, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    i request you to do a post on oneday finishers(which can be defined as batsman batting in positions 5-8 since they would normally have to bat after the first 25 overs) you can keep a criteria of say minimum 50 innings or 1500 runs in those positions. while hussey,bevan,klusener should be a shoo-in at the top, i think dravid, yuvraj, dhoni, clarke, symonds too should be close...

  • keyur on February 2, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    I appreciate the amount of hardwork you must have put in this article but this article has become a bit too complicated. i think the points about opening partnership or batting support are unnecessary. else every batsman opening with sehwag with dravid, sachin,laxman,ganguly to folllow should have succeeded.further opening partnership favors openers who were part of successful pairs and disfavors gavaskar,morris,etc. Finally about pace bowling, most people will agree that sehwags 300 in chennai against sa was not better than his 200 at galle although the pace bowling strength of sa was better than srilanka. i presume that the adjusted runs scored takes into account th scoring pattern of the match(high/low scoring) and the quality of opposition bowling attack-including spinners. hence i suggest that points should be calculated as follows: 20 strike rate 25 home avg. 30 away avg.(so total 55 points avg, 20 s/r) 25 adjusted run point as per opp bowling&pitch condition Total 100points

  • zakir on February 2, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    i want to Bangladesh ODi batsman ranking total.

  • gmnorm on January 31, 2009, 18:34 GMT

    Average opening partnership is an invalid criteria since it depends on the gent on the other end and not the person being evaluated. This is like giving extra marks to Damien Fleming because of McGrath at the other end

  • Aaron on January 31, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    I feel that the way you have included strike rate bumps modern players far up the list. Langer, Gayle, Hayden, Smith, Sehwag, Jayasuriya all have ratings over 7 for this point. No one else in your table has a rating over 7 from any other era. If every great opening batsmen from this era has a good strike rate rating it suggests that a high strike rate is not unusually brilliant nowadays.

    Also take a look at this example from your table: Michael Atherton: HAverage = 35 --> 8.28 points. Sutcliffe: HAverage = 64.6 --> 12.92 compared to Sutton Strike Rating ---> 5.01 Sehwag Strike Rating ---> 9.89

    Your ratings system equates a difference in average of 30 to a difference in strike rate of 30. I know it's objective, but I think that is a bit farcical. The strike rate is given way too much credence in your table. [[ Aaron Your point has its intrinsic merits. However you should see that those who have been benefited are the ones who have consistently scored at above 3 runs per over. There are many modern openers who have scored well below 3 rpo have lost out. So this is not necessarily a measure which will benefit all the modern openers. As far as the olden openers are concerned they might have lost out a little in this measure but would gain on couple of other measures on Average and Opening Partnerships. Also they have been credited with the team scoring rate. In other words it is mostly likely that they would have benefited since the opening scoring would have been at a lower rate. Finally I strongly feel that the attacking openers have enriched the game to a great extent and have to be acknowledged. When Pietersen declared setting India 382 to win at just under 4 rpo, it was only Sehwag's positive thinking which won the test for India. Another modern opener or ,ost olden day openers would have aimed for a draw and a score of 40 for no loss at close play. This attitude has changed the face of test cricket and we cannot fail to acknowledge the same. If I had completely ignored the scoring rate and the lists was headed by a set of staid openers, that also would have been a farce. I certainly acknowledge the validity of your point. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on January 31, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Ananth,

    When you did your 'Best ODI Batsman' analysis a couple of months ago, you used total career runs and career wins as factors in the player rankings.

    Why not use those measures here? [[ Kartik Some one else, I think Andy, has raised this question and I have answered that comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Tarun on January 30, 2009, 15:27 GMT

    It is interesting. What if U do away with home average and then redistribute the whole points and then see how the batsmen fared? [[ That does not seem fair. Why should Wright's home average, on difficult pitches, be ignored. You will see that I have given differential weightings for home and away averages. Ananth: ]]

  • bala on January 30, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    Very interesting system of ratings ,all in all fair. nice to see sehwag up there among the all time best. But the high scoring rates of these cricketers might backfire once in a while.Their hectic scoring rate would give extra time for the opposition to comeback into the game if they have potent batting and you have an inept bowling attack. For example,when batting after a first innings of 500 by the opposition,sehwag's 50 of 50 balls could be insignificant compared to gavaskar's 50 of 200 balls(which could help salvage a draw). But I guess these factors could be just dismissed as negligible.

  • bala on January 30, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    Very interesting system of ratings ,all in all fair. nice to see sehwag up there among the all time best. But the high scoring rates of these cricketers might backfire once in a while.Their hectic scoring rate would give extra time for the opposition to comeback into the game if they have potent batting and you have an inept bowling attack. For example,when batting after a first innings of 500 by the opposition,sehwag's 50 of 50 balls could be insignificant compared to gavaskar's 50 of 200 balls(which could help salage a draw). But I guess these factors could be just dismissed as negligible.

  • Tushar on January 28, 2009, 13:28 GMT

    My apologies. I failed to notice the mood of your responce. Cheers [[ Tushar, no problems. No offence meant at all. The only time I see red is when someone doubts my integrity. Ananth: ]]

  • Tushar on January 28, 2009, 10:08 GMT

    Ananth,

    rather than responding to my comment, why are you commenting on my aliases??? its like a personal attack, and I did not quite like it. If you thought the observations were wrong, you had full freedom of saying so... rather than that you decided to take a shot at the credibility of the comments... poor shot mate. [[ Tushar, When you try and be funny, I should accept that. But when I try and respond in kind, you get offended. If you cannot take the humour, in future, please respond with your name. As far as the response is concerned I suggest you go back to your first comment and look at my response. That is the longest response I have come out with. In fact I have started working on an article around the varying nature of pitch/ground scores and have given you credit for bringing up the topic. Ananth: ]]

  • D.V.C. on January 28, 2009, 10:07 GMT

    [[ Michael The problem is that nothing can be done about it. For recent matches I can even determine the individual contributions of the respective partner to the opening stand. What do I do for many earlier matches. I think we have to accept that the faster scoring opening batsmen will increase the size of the opening partnerships, benefiting all. Ananth: ]]

    Well, you could look at the Fall of Wickets information (available for all tests) and assume no extras in the partnership. A similar approach may be used to determine a strike rate for the early players: Say I open the batting and am out for 40 with the score at 2-100. The Innings later concludes at 200 after precisely 50 overs. The team run-rate is 4 rpo. If we assume that 4 rpo was also the run rate up until the fall of my wicket then 2-100 has taken 25 overs. Once again we make an assumption, this time that I have faced precisely half the deliveries. So, I have made 40 in (0.5 x 25 x 6) = 75 balls, and my strike rate is 53.3. [[ Daniel, Long back I have attempted the method you suggested for getting the share of team score while the batsman was at the crease. It is a good theoretical exercise but is not fool proof. You run into programming problems. The other thing I learned is that I was able to implement this more successfully in the fixed over ODI innings than the Test matches. Anyhow the effort is stupendous and probably not worth it. Thanks for reminding me. Ananth: ]]

  • Ross on January 28, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    Ananth are you suggesting in your reply to Flat track bully, that Hamilton in New Zealand is a bowler friendly pitch? [[ I brought in Hamilton since I remembered the India - Nzl match during 2003. India: 99 & 154 Nzl: 93 & 160 for 6. Since then Hamilton has improved. Anyhow I hope you get my point which is that ftb's, from whichever country they come from, flourish on flat tracks and hop when they go to play at "..." you can fill in the ground. Ananth: ]]

  • Ash Zed on January 28, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    This is the first time I do not agree with your criteria. Having Gavasker below Shewag on any list of openers is an insult to the great Gavasker. The type of bowling Gavasker faced and scored CONSISTENTLY is nothing that you can find with Shewag. Gavasker has scored over 12 centuries against WI and for me and many million readers all around the globe, he is NUMBER ONE opening batsman of all time. PERIOD !! [[ Ash, Let us forget the table. Imagine an Indian team with the batting order below. Mouth watering prospect. Gavaskar Sehwag Dravid Tendulkar Vishwanath Laxman Dhoni and four bowlers. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on January 27, 2009, 17:01 GMT

    Ananth,

    Firstly, I guess I just fundamentally don’t believe that the quality of teammates should be a factor in determining the ranking of an opening bastman. However, even if I did, then I’m still not comfortable with how you’ve done this.

    On one hand, you’re penalising a player who has poor quality opening partners who prevent him from participating in big opening stands.

    But then on the other hand, you immediately give him extra weighting for poor quality partners, especially his opening partner.

    Which is it? Is having a poor quality partner good or bad?

    It all just feels a bit muddled and unnecessary to me.

  • Kalyan on January 27, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    Come on guys, this is unfair. ICC doesn't have the brains to understand such complex formulas. To them, decisions like Best Test Batsmen (ALL TIME) needs to be based on simple formulas.

  • Apples and Oranges on January 27, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    Each innings is different. I guess this was discussed in one of the earlier postings. Can you say that one century against England on Lords is exactly same as the other against same opponent at the same venue. And if you cannot say that then why use that as the only yardstick to measure greatness? [[ Tushar "Flat track bullies" eating "Apples and oranges". What next. Regards. Ananth: ]]

  • Andy on January 27, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    You have got an unenviable task. Even when you keep only 3 of the current openers in tge Top 10 you have complaints from supporters of prev gen openers. Within the three there are unfavourable comments on flat track bullies (every batsman who ever played is a flat track bully). Probably you could have incorporated the wins achieved or matches saved as a factor to silence some of these unfounded criticisms. [[ Good point. However I have realized that I must keep basic principles intact. Openers should lay the foundation, middle order batsmen should build the house and the bowlers should finish the work. We must learn to evaluate each function on its responsbilities. When I deviated from that principle on "Test all rounders" readers were not happy. Ananth: ]]

  • Michael on January 26, 2009, 21:00 GMT

    Ananth, I like the Analysis however, as with everyone else I am not sure about the opening partnership stat, however, it seems to me that it unfairly hurts batsmen like Sehwag and Smith who have batted with partners who score at a much slower rate. This means that when they score 40 the opening partnership is 60 instead of 80 which doesn't seem fair. [[ Michael The problem is that nothing can be done about it. For recent matches I can even determine the individual contributions of the respective partner to the opening stand. What do I do for many earlier matches. I think we have to accept that the faster scoring opening batsmen will increase the size of the opening partnerships, benefiting all. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on January 26, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Like many other people, I have a few doubts about some of the criteria you have used. These mainly concern the opening partnership & batting support measures. I’m not sure how these help to rank opening batsmen and in all likelihood they can hinder the process.

    At best, the measures equalize each other, in which case, what’s the point of including them? At worst, they penalize an opener for the poor quality of his opening partner as well as the good quality of a number 5 batsman, who in all likelihood he doesn’t get to bat with very often.

    Hobbs & Sutcliffe and Langer & Hayden were lucky they had each other and Gavaskar was unlucky that India couldn’t find another opener in 20 years. Luck shouldn’t play such a big part in this analysis.

    Poor Arthur Morris seems to be worst hit by this – stuck without a regular opening partner for most of his career and marked down again by having Bradman, Hassett & Harvey following him in the order. [[ You are correct as far as Morris is concerned. However what every one forgets is that the primary duty of an opening partnership is to last, say, 2 hours and put up some runs on board. When one opener does this more often than another opener, he has served his team's cause and, in the bargain, gets some credit here. Re Batting support I have made quite a few statements on this earlier. It is possible that these two may cancel each other. It is also possible that it may penalize one opener more than another.However, it is also possible for an opener like Trescothik to benefit from both measures. Finally why should anyone think Gavaskar has been treated badly. He is in the top 6. One can only question one person's place above him, Smith's. And he is ahead of some all-time greats such as Hutton and Greenidge. Ananth: ]]

  • FLAT TRACK BULLY on January 26, 2009, 13:41 GMT

    I am an opener from Australia, and am a flat track bully. So whenever I play on subcontinents, my average is good. So, thanks for not taking into consideration the quality of pitches, but just looking at home/away averages which has benifitted me immensely. And my south african friend has also benefitted from the same. [[ Tell me one way in which the quality of pitch can be measured objectively and accurately I will put that factor in and your flat track bullies will be put in place. And to boot, kindly look at the following figures, all first innings scores. Headingley 2007: Eng - 570 for 7 2008: Eng - 203 all out. Ahmedabad 2005: Ind - 398 all out 2008: Ind - 75 all out. Oval 2008: Saf - 184 all out 2007: Ind - 664 all out. Pray tell me which Headingley or Ahmedabad or Oval does one take, 2005/7/8. I agree the bowling may be different. However when pitches change so much within a year or months, what factor can one put in. No one in the world can say what sort of pitches are prepared, not the best analyst, not the best pitch specialist nor the curator. Barring Australia, where the pitches behave with uniform consistency, nothing can be said about the other countries. I think you are being unfair to two of the games great match-winners. And may I also ask, when these flat track bullies came to the sub-continents and made merry, what did the local flat track bullies do. They also followed suit. And when they all went to Hamilton, all of them hopped. Ananth: ]]

  • Rajeev (thru A) on January 26, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Comment recd from Rajeev: I don't have major problems with the top-10, barring relative placings. However the one person I feel who is out of place is Amiss. If he is replaced by, say, Greenidge, this would be a very good top 10 openers list. [[ I could respond by saying this only a table. However, as I have always done, I would like to respond with the positive reasons why Amiss is in this position. Amiss is like Simpson, in fact almost exactly like him. An overall average of around 46 consists of an opening average of 53.70 (Home:55.92 and Away:52.27). One of the very few to have 50+ average both home and away. He has been a total failure when he batted down the order (336 runs at 19.7). 2. Below average opening partnerships (only 43, despite the presence of Boycott). 3. Reasonable pace bowling faced. Don't forget the 203 against Roberts/Holding/Daniel/Holder in 1976. 4. Below average batting support. I do not see why he should not be in the top 10. In both Simpson's and Amiss' cases, ignore their very average non-opening performance. They are outstanding openers.

    Ananth: ]]

  • Rajesh on January 25, 2009, 4:07 GMT

    Ananth, Nice one, but I didn't quite agree with the opening partnerships bit - why should gavaskar be penalised for the poor performance of his opening partners? if anything, he should get extra points for doing well despite having a weak partner (as you have rightly rewarded elsewhere in the piece). would like to have your opinion on this.. [[ Rajesh Gavaskar gets credit for having weaker partners and other supporting batsmen. If so we should expect him to lose a little for the lower level of average opening partnerships. He gains on one and loses on the other. He surely cannot gain on both. Try looking at it from Hayden's end. He gains by having a higher average opening partnerships but loses because he has excellent batsmen supporting him. Just for the record, Gavaskar gets 6.95 & 11.50 while Hayden gets 8.91 & 8.01. Gavaskar's sum for these measures is higher than Hayden's. Finally let me bring out Trescothick's figures. 9.52 and 10.18 indicating that he has participated in above-average opening partnerships despite having no great supporting batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • MADHUSUDAN on January 24, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    doesn't matter how good smith ,sehwag have been in last half decade ,it is ridiculous to keep them over the likes of hobbs,morris , gavaskar . specially smith surely doersn't derveves a place in top 5 . to me hoobs ,morris , sutcliff ,gavaskar and the man whomade only 508runs at the highest level- barry richards are the top5 openers of all timer. greatness is never in numbers though a detailed analysis like u do always helps toknowmore correct picture , barry richards hit 325 runs in a day vs ayoung lillie ,experinced graham mckenzie when he had only 2 protactive gears (pad,gloaves).smith can't make runs vs quality bowlers. i would even rate micheal vaughan over him whois far more stylish to watch . overall an excellent analysis [[ No problems with the comments made. Suggest that you do a visual check of the entry before sending the comment. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • ananth on January 24, 2009, 4:31 GMT

    Finally Rex's comments, "I don't look at it as "the final word", but just as another article for interesting observations of this wonderful game. I also get to learn about the players I never got to watch, or have watched in my childhood but didn't observe as keenly as I do now." have hit the nail on the head. He has brought out the essence of such analysis very well. Do not go overboard on these. My placing Hutton below Hayden does not make him any lower. By all means make your comments but accept that these are only numbers. If a number of readers do not agree with some perticular aspect of the analysis, I accept that view and present a revied version, as I did with the the analysis on Test all-rounders.

  • Ananth on January 24, 2009, 4:30 GMT

    Common response: 1. When any such table is created, there will always be unacceptable (to some or many readers) positions. If I start looking at each aberration (hey Atapattu is higher than Morris, Amiss is higher than Hayden., I must correct these), I can never get anything completed. The key is to see that most of the placings are correct. Or have explanations. For e-g., The reason for Hayden below Amiss is his last 17 innings when he scored around 400 at an average of 25.00. 2. If 6996 analytical tables are prepared, I can assure the readers that, irrespective of who prepares these, there will be anamoly in EACH of these, without exception. 3. Comments have been raised on the last measure. The support batsman available is an important factor which cannot be ignored. I am not going to repeat this, but will only say that Hayden/Gibbs/Greenidge had the cushion of support at the other end which Gavaskar/Hanif/Hutton did not have.

  • ananth on January 24, 2009, 4:29 GMT

    Neil, your comments are way off line and must reflect your frustration at seeing the way Hayden's career ending like this. I have never started with the type of nonsensical objective you have outlined. I like Hayden more than Sehwag. However, that has not made me view Sehwag's achievements in lesser light. Someone has made a comment that Sehwag has faced average quality bowling. Wrong. All his big scores have been agianst top teams. 201 & 309 vs Pak, 195 vs Aus, 319 vs Saf, 201 vs Slk and 87 vs Eng. Given below are the two players' scores against Bng/Zim. Sehwag: 199 in 4 completed innings (49.75). Hayden: 669 in 6 completed inns (115.00).

  • ananth on January 24, 2009, 3:19 GMT

    Quite a number of comments have been received. It will be impossible to answer all individually. I will compile all points and respond in summary manner. Rest assured that each of your comments will be read in full.

  • Hamish on January 24, 2009, 3:02 GMT

    Cricket is a dual game, and I think this table - necessarily, given that it is statistics-based - ingores the mental side. Ultimately, consequential factors aside, a batsman's greatness should come down to a qualitative equation of technique over temperament. The skills of the body are only assets: it is through the fragile conduit of temperament that these assets are utilised. The assessed factors seem weighted quite conservatively, which I applaud given the uncertainty of the whole endeavour. The only suggestion I have is perhaps greater weighting consideration for the quality of the batsman's immediate support (fellow opener and no. 3, perhaps?) over the rest of the order? Some sort of gradient scale could work.

  • giri on January 24, 2009, 2:23 GMT

    great job... working on these stats to derive and bring in a list... excelent work..

  • graeme on January 24, 2009, 1:41 GMT

    the problem with the ranking of batsman of the modern era and and before, especially English and Australian players is that essentially they only had one real opposition, each other before 1950. Sutcliffe, for example never had to play one match on the sub-continent, that isnt his fault but hardly compares to the various conditions and bowling attacks that the modern batsman have to contend with, Sutcliffes away average is based almost entirely on his Australian performance

  • Nick on January 24, 2009, 1:27 GMT

    How can you quantify the quality of protective gear and pitches? Sehwag and Hayden can bat with no fear because they know the pitch will not do too much and they're covered in body-armour.

    I think you could look at the relative scores of these openers to others in the same era as a way to balance that out.

  • Surajit on January 24, 2009, 0:22 GMT

    Excellent analysis! Personally I think we need to go beyond stats in some cases and add few other factors like longevity of the opener for atleast 5-6 years, influence/effect of their scores in the match, etc. It may not be possible to get all the stats but we can add another criteria 'X-factor' and put 10 weightage to it. Simpson, Vaughn, Trescothick surely not in the same class as Gavaskar, Hobbs, Hutton. But, nevertheless, its a very good article.

  • EdgeyDave on January 23, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Ain interesting model but I think there are too many variables to make this comparison meaningful. Vikram's point of other playing factors should also be given some weighting i.e. openers playing in the era of uncovered pitches and benefits to modern cricketers with the advances in bat design and protection.

  • Neil on January 23, 2009, 23:25 GMT

    I'm sorry, but this is so flawed and so silly. To me it reads, "find an method of analysis that will make Hayden look less than he really was, well in particular, less than Virender Sehwag". In doing so, Anath, you are merely joining the club of many who have decided that now that Hayden has retired, it's an appropriate time to pull his record down. I love Virender Sehwag. The reason that I love him is for his sheer grace and his audacity, attacking in the same manner no matter what the situation. He is a fabulous player,but greater than Hayden? Not yet, although I hope he will prove to be with a few more years. Hayden quite simply revolutionised the openers role and he did it without half of Sehwag's natural ability. There are so many intangibles in test cricket that no analysis can measure. Back to the analysis. Amiss was a good player, but better than Hayden. Give me a break. He averaged 15 against Lillee's Australia. Gibbs better than Gooch? Atapattu better than Arthur Morris? Nah

  • Mark Kidger on January 23, 2009, 23:15 GMT

    A slightly sceptical comment. The ICC has its official ratings. These take into account factors such as the strength of the opposing attack, the importance of the runs scored and the difficulty of the pitch. With every single Test entered in the database there is a chance to compare players of different eras on something like an even footing (for example, a goodly part of Len Hutton's career was played on pitches on which 300 was usually a match-winning total, something that has to be considered in his average). If you take the highest ever rating as a basis, Hutton comes top of openers, just ahead of Jack Hobbs. Matthew Hayden is close behind, with Sunil Gavaskar, who played against some great attacks, a little further back. Virender Sehwag, who has played in a more batsman-friendly era against weaker attacks than Gavaskar, is much further back. Geoff Boycott is well outside the ICC's top 100 batsmen in Test history and Graeme Smith is well behind the likes of Sehwag, Amiss & Turner.

  • Cric_123 on January 23, 2009, 23:05 GMT

    Nice Analysis! However, I do feel 'time spent on crease' or 'number of balls faced' must be included as a factor..I say so since one of the opener's job is to make sure that the rest of the batting order is not exposed to the new ball.

  • Yajuvender chauhan on January 23, 2009, 22:54 GMT

    Ananth..great work! Sehwag deserves all the accolades, for me he has revolutionised Test cricket by scoring at such a rapid pace. Just a suggestion..is it possible to also include openers performance in the second innings coz it is always much harder batting the second time specially if your side is under heavy deficit...i know this measure will surely pull sehwag down a few places but i love him for what he is. Also why penalising an opener for the non contributory at the other end??

  • Michael on January 23, 2009, 22:50 GMT

    This weighting is suspect because there is no one who could tell me that Gavaskar or Gooch facing unlimited bouncers from opposing great fast bowlers are lesser than the names above them. Subjective measures do play an important part. Fast bowlers could bowl 6 bouncers and the helmetless opener could score 0 runs because he was busy ducking out of the way.

    The home and away measure is another measure that is open to debate due to the quality of pitches. An Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan opener playing at home plays on wickets that blunt opening fast bowlers. Even their away games against other subcontinental teams puts them at an advantage.

  • Nalin on January 23, 2009, 22:39 GMT

    Fairly good analysis. What about the effectiveness against good spin bowling & Average score in different kind of pitches ? When a team plays in India or Sri Lanka, the openers usually have to face spin bowling after 10 overs. So the quality of the top 3 pace bowlers does not make sense that much. Usually in subcontinent we can see spin pairs like, Murali & Mendis, Kumble & Harbajan, Saqlain & Mustaq, and even England & Australia used two spinners in some matches. For example, if you consider Haydens stats against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, the top three bowlers should be Vaas, Murali & Malinga ( you need to consider their home bowling average instead of career average). Then the above list will change dramatically. Eg. Gavaskar scored heavily against WI in WI and when the home bowling averages of the quartet were considered he might climb few places higher in the list.

  • Rex on January 23, 2009, 21:57 GMT

    I've always liked your analysis. I don't look at it as "the final word", but just as another article for interesting observations of this wonderful game. I also get to learn about the players I never got to watch, or have watched in my childhood but didn't observe as keenly as I do now. I have two points to talk about:

    1. I'm glad that you didn't include MoM into this analysis. I firmly believe it's an unnecessary inclusion in any analysis. There are many remarkable performances that go unrewarded- like Duminy's innings at Melbourne, Strauss' twin gems at Chennai to name a couple.

    2. Instead of producing a list encompassing all eras, can you make a list of best 10 openers of each era (2 decades is an era I feel). Who's the best from 1990s upto the present. Who was the best in the 70s-80s period etc. That would be a far more insightful, (maybe easier to compile as well). Some players records overlap in each era- so please take into account majority matches played.

  • Rex on January 23, 2009, 21:42 GMT

    @RC: Hayden flopped in the 2005 Ashes against supposedly the best bowling attack at that time. He didn't fare too well against the West Indian attack of Ambrose,Walsh etc. in his early years. If he had scored better in those series, his standings would have been high.

    Just to explain it better, Sewhag scored a triple hundred against SA recently(a flat track, agreed, but this analysis doesn't take into account such parameters, because they are subjective), but Hayden failed in all 6 innings in the latest series. How can his 380 against Zimbabwe be talked about in the same note as Sewhag's epic?

    Hayden started off the chase of 515 at Mohali much like Sewhag did at Chennai (against England), yet he flattered to deceive. Yet Sewhag set up an inspirational chase.

    I don't know much about Greenidge's case, but apply such unbiased, cold logic to it and you shall see the truth- Sewhag is a far better opener than Hayden. More than Hayden or Smith, he has revolutionised opening batting

  • Anand on January 23, 2009, 20:35 GMT

    Hi Ananth: I am a fan of your articles and analyses and loved this one too. However, am unable to understand some things and request you to clarify. If I understand right, you have given more points to batsmen whose opening partner and next 3 supporting batsmen arent so good (e.g., Gayle, Gavaskar). In that sense, I do accept that Sehwag gets lower points there. But is the difference between the lack of support which Gavaskar had and the presence of the fab 4 for Sehwag just 2 points? Also, I thought Gary Kirsten always had a deep batting line up to follow (Cronje, Cullinan, Klussener, Kallis, Boucher). Can you please explain more on that?

    A point to reply to RC if you permit: By changing weights anyone can change any analysis. You should be objecting if you disagree with the weights provided to different factors and justify your objections. Another point is that MoM awards in test matches have benn consistently given away only in the last 20 years or so. So cant account for that.

  • Ravi on January 23, 2009, 20:29 GMT

    A very good article Ananth. Will the availability of support at the other end can have a bearing on the size of the opening partnership? Can this be accounted for in any way?

  • Barnacle on January 23, 2009, 19:19 GMT

    I think your item 5 is wrong. It should be the average number of runs scored in an innings before the particular opener is out, not just the runs scored before the first wicket falls. You may be a great batsman but be handicapped by having someone not as good opening with you. But then, they are all good and could only play those who were in their own eras.

  • Andymc on January 23, 2009, 18:56 GMT

    Sorry, but I completely disagree with the 'support' rating, since playing in a better team doesn't make you a worse opener. I also dislike the scoring rate criteria - surely the point of the article is to compare openers from different eras, in which case scoring rate is a rather silly benchmark.

  • Innocent Abroad on January 23, 2009, 18:19 GMT

    Ananth, if you really think that a system that puts Dennis Amiss above Matthew Hayden and Geoffrey Boycott is sensible I suggest you ask any dozen club captains which of the three they'd like best in their side. I VERY much doubt a single one would go for Amiss.

  • Nikappa on January 23, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    Great work. Could you possibly provide numbers (with the breakdowns) for openers in Bradman's team i.e Woodfull , Brown and Ponsford.

  • Warwicks fan on January 23, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Very interesting. I'm sure Geoff Boycott will be absolutely delighted to see himself below Dennis Amiss! They opened together quite often of course.

  • Peter Parker on January 23, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    Just a thought, but should 50s/100s/200s/300s be factored in? After all, a good opener should not just provide a foundation, but go on and grind out the bowling. How about time spent in the middle? That may be one way of balancing the current players (who place greater emphasis on scoring faster) and the openers of yesterday (who placed greater emphasis on staying in for longer).

  • ananth on January 23, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    Response to Daniel's comment requesting Trumper's figures: Victor Trumper, although widely known as an attacking opener, has done much better at the non-opening position, as shown by the following figures. Opening: 1650 runs at average of 33.00 (3 x 100s) Other: 1513 runs at 48.08 (5 x 100s) Since his entire career was before WW1, I had to make a special adjustment of the batting averages and the support batsmen figures in addition to the basic adjustments already done. Trumper's final tally is 58.19 (7.79/9.39/7.25/7.15/6.58/7.53/12.50), which places him in the last quarter of the table. May not be fair. But then the conditions were so different that it would be futile to compare anything.

  • RC on January 23, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    I think this is a fruitless execrcise. By changing weightings a little bit, I can change the order of rankings. Besides, I think it is unfair to the likes of Greenidge and Hayden who did not have the chance of playing against the best team of their era simply because they were in the era. And I think one important measure should be how many MoM awards these openers got in matches on the basis of their batting which seems to be missing from your analysis.

  • LegGlance on January 23, 2009, 16:25 GMT

    Excellent analysis as always. I past posts, you have worked on a numerical quantity for batsmen and bowlers, that allows comparison across eras. Have you thought of iterating the process? Start off with a measure of batting excellence, use it to derive a measure of bowling excellence, that takes into account the quality of the wickets taken and then use this measure to recalculate the 'adjusted' batting numeric. It would be very interesting to see if this leads to an unexpected result.

  • Vikram Mehta on January 23, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    Nice analysis, Ananth. I wonder how these rankings might change if you add some quantitative measures of whether pitches were covered or not during a match; whether protective gear, especially helmet, was worn or not; and whether restrictions on bouncers and field placements were in effect or not.

    Vikram Mehta [[ Vikram I have mentioned many times on my inability to take into account factors which are subjective, outside of scorcards and cannot be substantiated by me. The readers should do their own subjective factor factoring and derive their own conclusions. Ananth: ]]

  • D.V.C. on January 23, 2009, 15:42 GMT

    So, out of curiosity what were Victor Trumper's figures? I'd also be interested in Charles Bannerman's. the early guys didn't get the opportunity to play as many matches, so perhaps the criteria should be lowered pre WWI/II? [[ Daniel I have just acknowledged your comment. Will have to do a little bit of work to get Victor Trumper's figures and will post that as my comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Biju on January 23, 2009, 15:35 GMT

    Nice to see sehwag at the top! For me he is the "Bradman of entertainment batting".

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  • Biju on January 23, 2009, 15:35 GMT

    Nice to see sehwag at the top! For me he is the "Bradman of entertainment batting".

  • D.V.C. on January 23, 2009, 15:42 GMT

    So, out of curiosity what were Victor Trumper's figures? I'd also be interested in Charles Bannerman's. the early guys didn't get the opportunity to play as many matches, so perhaps the criteria should be lowered pre WWI/II? [[ Daniel I have just acknowledged your comment. Will have to do a little bit of work to get Victor Trumper's figures and will post that as my comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram Mehta on January 23, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    Nice analysis, Ananth. I wonder how these rankings might change if you add some quantitative measures of whether pitches were covered or not during a match; whether protective gear, especially helmet, was worn or not; and whether restrictions on bouncers and field placements were in effect or not.

    Vikram Mehta [[ Vikram I have mentioned many times on my inability to take into account factors which are subjective, outside of scorcards and cannot be substantiated by me. The readers should do their own subjective factor factoring and derive their own conclusions. Ananth: ]]

  • LegGlance on January 23, 2009, 16:25 GMT

    Excellent analysis as always. I past posts, you have worked on a numerical quantity for batsmen and bowlers, that allows comparison across eras. Have you thought of iterating the process? Start off with a measure of batting excellence, use it to derive a measure of bowling excellence, that takes into account the quality of the wickets taken and then use this measure to recalculate the 'adjusted' batting numeric. It would be very interesting to see if this leads to an unexpected result.

  • RC on January 23, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    I think this is a fruitless execrcise. By changing weightings a little bit, I can change the order of rankings. Besides, I think it is unfair to the likes of Greenidge and Hayden who did not have the chance of playing against the best team of their era simply because they were in the era. And I think one important measure should be how many MoM awards these openers got in matches on the basis of their batting which seems to be missing from your analysis.

  • ananth on January 23, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    Response to Daniel's comment requesting Trumper's figures: Victor Trumper, although widely known as an attacking opener, has done much better at the non-opening position, as shown by the following figures. Opening: 1650 runs at average of 33.00 (3 x 100s) Other: 1513 runs at 48.08 (5 x 100s) Since his entire career was before WW1, I had to make a special adjustment of the batting averages and the support batsmen figures in addition to the basic adjustments already done. Trumper's final tally is 58.19 (7.79/9.39/7.25/7.15/6.58/7.53/12.50), which places him in the last quarter of the table. May not be fair. But then the conditions were so different that it would be futile to compare anything.

  • Peter Parker on January 23, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    Just a thought, but should 50s/100s/200s/300s be factored in? After all, a good opener should not just provide a foundation, but go on and grind out the bowling. How about time spent in the middle? That may be one way of balancing the current players (who place greater emphasis on scoring faster) and the openers of yesterday (who placed greater emphasis on staying in for longer).

  • Warwicks fan on January 23, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Very interesting. I'm sure Geoff Boycott will be absolutely delighted to see himself below Dennis Amiss! They opened together quite often of course.

  • Nikappa on January 23, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    Great work. Could you possibly provide numbers (with the breakdowns) for openers in Bradman's team i.e Woodfull , Brown and Ponsford.

  • Innocent Abroad on January 23, 2009, 18:19 GMT

    Ananth, if you really think that a system that puts Dennis Amiss above Matthew Hayden and Geoffrey Boycott is sensible I suggest you ask any dozen club captains which of the three they'd like best in their side. I VERY much doubt a single one would go for Amiss.