Trivia - batting February 26, 2009

Okay, Bradman is at No.1... but who is last?

A lot of analysis has been done on the best batsmen in Test cricket
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A lot of analysis has been done on the best batsmen in Test cricket. Whatever be the methodology used, all analysis lead to the incomparable Don Bradman at the top. The arguments start when some one is anointed the second best, any one of 5 batsmen could fill this place.

Let us leave that topic aside. I have always felt that the other end of batting table presents a fascinating possibility. Who is the worst batsman who ever carried a bat and walked in. Is it Chris Martin, is it one of the Indian spinners, is it a West Indian fast bowler or an unexpected batsman out side this lot? Without further ado, let us delve in.

First a few criteria to be fixed.

The first is that the batsman (okay, I know I am stretching the point) has to have played 25 Test innings, which, for a tail-ender, represents nearly 20 Tests. The next is that the career batting average should be below 10.00. These twin criteria have enabled 70 tail-end batsmen to be selected.

Let me also mention that I would not do just a simple table based on, say, Batting Average. That is something which anyone could get using the excellent Cricinfo Statsguru. I will do a composite but not complex analysis of these 70 batsmen.

I have considered three measures for analysis. These are explained below.

1. Batting Average. This is the simplest and most acceptable of all batting measures. Readers can easily identify with this measure and it reflects the batting ability very realistically, notwithstanding the "not outs" conundrum. In this particular analysis even the "not outs" do not matter since most of these batsmen remain not out on quite a few occasions. This measure will carry a weight of 20 points.

2. Dismissed Zeroes. The emphasis here is on both the words. An innings which ends at 0 means that, barring a few exceptional circumstances, very little has been contributed and another batsman, almost always a better one, has been left in the limbo. I have determined the number of dismissed zeros and determined a frequency of innings in which this has occured. The lower this figure is, the worse the batsman is. This measure will carry a weight of 15 points.

3. Average partnership runs added. This is a useful measure since it tests another facet of the tail-end batsman's skills, which is the support he provides to the senior batsmen. Basically I have computed the number of runs added while the tail end batsman was at the crease, mostly at no.10 or no.11, and determined the measure of average partnership runs per innings. This measure will carry a weight of 15 points.

I have considered (and ignored) the batsman's highest score since that does not convey any additional information. I have also not considered the "Balls played" information since that is available only for about a third of Tests. And extrapolating based on team scoring rate will not work since these batsmen are likely to take a lot more balls to score the runs.

Let us take a look at tables, first the support table.

Cty Batsman             Ins  No   Runs Avge  HS Dis  Runs  Avge
0s  Added  Bpa

Zim Mbangwa M 25 8 34 2.00 8 9 171 11.0 Nzl Martin C.S 65 30 76 2.17 12 25 663 10.9 Win King R.D 27 8 66 3.47 12 7 275 10.2 Bng Manjural Islam(Sr) 33 11 81 3.68 21 10 351 10.6 Ind Chandrasekhar B.S 80 39 167 4.07 22 23 760 10.9 Ind Maninder Singh 38 12 99 3.81 15 11 396 10.8 Ind Doshi D.R 38 10 129 4.61 20 14 384 10.9 Aus Reid B.A 34 14 93 4.65 13 6 262 10.8 Ind Nehra A 25 11 77 5.50 19 10 221 10.6 Win Valentine A.L 51 21 141 4.70 14 12 502 10.9

Now the final table.
Cty Batsman            Batting Avge  Dis 0s Freq    Avge Ptship   Total
(20)          (15)           (15)       (50)
Zim Mbangwa M           4.00 (2.00)   2.08 ( 2.78)   5.13 ( 6.84)  11.21
Nzl Martin C.S          4.34 (2.17)   1.95 ( 2.60)   7.65 (10.20)  13.94
Win King R.D            6.95 (3.47)   2.89 ( 3.86)   7.64 (10.19)  17.48
Bng Manjural Islam(Sr)  7.36 (3.68)   2.48 ( 3.30)   7.98 (10.64)  17.82
Ind Chandrasekhar B.S   8.15 (4.07)   2.61 ( 3.48)   7.12 ( 9.50)  17.88
Ind Maninder Singh      7.62 (3.81)   2.59 ( 3.45)   7.82 (10.42)  18.02
Ind Doshi D.R           9.21 (4.61)   2.04 ( 2.71)   7.58 (10.11)  18.83
Aus Reid B.A            9.30 (4.65)   4.25 ( 5.67)   5.78 ( 7.71)  19.33
Ind Nehra A            11.00 (5.50)   1.88 ( 2.50)   6.63 ( 8.84)  19.50
Win Valentine A.L       9.40 (4.70)   3.19 ( 4.25)   7.38 ( 9.84)  19.97
As foreseen, a dark horse has emerged. Who would have thought of a batsman who could come ahead of Chris Martin. (Mpumelelo) Pommy Mbangwa's batting is for the Gods to view. 25 innings, 8 not outs and 34 runs gives him an unbelievable average of 2.00. He has been dismissed at 0 for nearly 40% of his crease visits. He has a highest score of 8, the only one in this elite group not to have crossed 9 runs. He has always batted at no.11. His average partnership is an unbelievably low 6.8. What more do you want. I would have paid money to see Pommy bat. Note his batting sequence: 0, 2, 0, 4, 0*, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2*, 3, 2, 0, 1*, 2, 0*, 0*, 1*, 3, 0, 0, 1*, 8, 0*, 5. One fascinating string of scores.

I can see the New Zealand readers having mixed feelings. They would dearly love to have Chris Martin head this table because they love his batting. I can only suggest that if you increase the number of innings to 30, Chris Martin will be at the top. Let us see Martin's exploits. 65 innings, 30 not outs, 76 runs giving Martin a slightly higher average of 2.17 as compared to Pommy. He has crossed single figures once in his career, an unbeaten 12 against Bangladesh when he outscored O'Brien. He has 25 dismissed zeroes, the most frequent amonst all these batsmen. But his partnership average is a healthy 10+. Only twice has Martin batted at no.10 when Shane Bond and Cummings could not bat. Let me add, I would also pay money to see Chris Martin bat.

Reon King is next. Not as great a fast bowler as some of the other greats such as Walsh or Ambrose, but equally inept a batsman.

Then comes Manjual Islam, followed by three Indian spinners. Reid of Australia separates these three from Ashish Nehra, another rabbit of a batsman. Alf Valentine is last in this table.

Fidel Edwards, who is 11th in the table is the only other batsman wiith a sub-5.00 batting average. However he has recently batted very well, saving West Indies twice at Antigua and Napier.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arnold D'Souza on February 9, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    An important factor, if you're considering the average partnership runs added, is how good the batsmen (esp. mid-to-lower order ones) in the team are. Pommie, playing for Zimbabwe, wasn't helped by the fact that the other batsmen around him were also pretty inept. Chris Martin wouldn't have scored many runs, but at least he had better batsmen around him to score them!

  • Fergus Pickering on March 18, 2009, 18:17 GMT

    If you want to now the best batsman ever COMPARED WITH his fellow batsmen, then the answer is W.G. Grace in the 1870s, whennhe was at his best, when he scored 66% of all the centuries scored. Just think of it - 2 out of 3 of the centuries scored were scored by him. And his average was pretty well DOUBLE anybody else's. No tests in hose days, it's true, but they knew how to play.

  • Prasad Shah on March 17, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    Hi Ananth - thanks for accepting and publishing my comment about Bradman. I do not disrespect him (because I don't know anything about his record) but I am still waiting for your analysis that he indeed is best Test batsmen of all time.

  • anon_N on March 7, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    I'm wondering what's the worst average ever in any recordable form of cricket ( not couinting age cricket). My average for this season might have been a world record if it can count...its significantly under 1/2

  • Kartik on March 6, 2009, 21:19 GMT

    I see that you have mentioned that balls played is not known for the earlier tests. However, almost all of the batsmen on this list are modern except Valentine and maybe Chandra, so they should have balls played available, no?

  • Kartik on March 6, 2009, 21:07 GMT

    Thus, following from my earlier comment, instead of 'Average Partnership runs added', it would be better to take 'average balls faced'. That distinguishes between a tailender that is actually surviving balls, rather than one who is shielding on the non-striker's end, while Viv Richards is hitting sixes.

    More balls faced by a tailender automatically means the better batsman partner is getting more chances to score before the innings ends.

    This distinguished between a No. 11 in a century partnership who scores 40 vs. one who scores just 5 runs from 15 balls faced.

  • Kartik on March 6, 2009, 21:04 GMT

    Glenn McGrath would have been on this list until 1998, after which time he made a couple of scores about 30, permanently moving off it.

    I am not sure about Partnership runs added. You have to weight that value in relation to how many runs the tailender actually scores in the partnership.

    Take an ODI example. If Richards scores 90% of the runs in partnership with Holding for the 10th wicket, why does Holding automatically rise up the ranks as a result? It is Richards shielding him from the strike. Holding's main job is to not get run-out. He will face very few balls.

    That is very different from Zaheer Khan partnering with Tendulkar against Bangladesh. Zaheer himself scored half the runs in that partnership.

  • Girish on March 2, 2009, 7:43 GMT

    analysis should be for worst 'pure batsmen' (not bowlers or allrounders) with minimum 25 test innings,

    who do you think is the worst batsman?

  • Rohit on February 27, 2009, 16:58 GMT

    Some people have put wall around any objective analysis of Bradman's record and compare it to current greats. Pure speculation about how Ponting/SRT/Lara would've played without protective gear is meaningless and shouting down others is not going to help. Ananth does very good job by looking only at stats, rest everything is hype, speculation and myth.

  • R Sivasubramaniam on February 27, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    Thank you Ananth for your explanation.

    For those who criticise Bradman. Would any of the present day 'greats' (with the exception of Viv Richardes dared to have faced Larwood, Voce or Constantine with 'body armour' and helmets. Bradman probably had a guard and maybe a towel as thigh guard and yet scored a century in the Nodyline series! Leave the Don alone - he is in a class by himself - let lesser mortals fight ot out frrom the 2nd place onwards! Siva from Singapore

  • Arnold D'Souza on February 9, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    An important factor, if you're considering the average partnership runs added, is how good the batsmen (esp. mid-to-lower order ones) in the team are. Pommie, playing for Zimbabwe, wasn't helped by the fact that the other batsmen around him were also pretty inept. Chris Martin wouldn't have scored many runs, but at least he had better batsmen around him to score them!

  • Fergus Pickering on March 18, 2009, 18:17 GMT

    If you want to now the best batsman ever COMPARED WITH his fellow batsmen, then the answer is W.G. Grace in the 1870s, whennhe was at his best, when he scored 66% of all the centuries scored. Just think of it - 2 out of 3 of the centuries scored were scored by him. And his average was pretty well DOUBLE anybody else's. No tests in hose days, it's true, but they knew how to play.

  • Prasad Shah on March 17, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    Hi Ananth - thanks for accepting and publishing my comment about Bradman. I do not disrespect him (because I don't know anything about his record) but I am still waiting for your analysis that he indeed is best Test batsmen of all time.

  • anon_N on March 7, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    I'm wondering what's the worst average ever in any recordable form of cricket ( not couinting age cricket). My average for this season might have been a world record if it can count...its significantly under 1/2

  • Kartik on March 6, 2009, 21:19 GMT

    I see that you have mentioned that balls played is not known for the earlier tests. However, almost all of the batsmen on this list are modern except Valentine and maybe Chandra, so they should have balls played available, no?

  • Kartik on March 6, 2009, 21:07 GMT

    Thus, following from my earlier comment, instead of 'Average Partnership runs added', it would be better to take 'average balls faced'. That distinguishes between a tailender that is actually surviving balls, rather than one who is shielding on the non-striker's end, while Viv Richards is hitting sixes.

    More balls faced by a tailender automatically means the better batsman partner is getting more chances to score before the innings ends.

    This distinguished between a No. 11 in a century partnership who scores 40 vs. one who scores just 5 runs from 15 balls faced.

  • Kartik on March 6, 2009, 21:04 GMT

    Glenn McGrath would have been on this list until 1998, after which time he made a couple of scores about 30, permanently moving off it.

    I am not sure about Partnership runs added. You have to weight that value in relation to how many runs the tailender actually scores in the partnership.

    Take an ODI example. If Richards scores 90% of the runs in partnership with Holding for the 10th wicket, why does Holding automatically rise up the ranks as a result? It is Richards shielding him from the strike. Holding's main job is to not get run-out. He will face very few balls.

    That is very different from Zaheer Khan partnering with Tendulkar against Bangladesh. Zaheer himself scored half the runs in that partnership.

  • Girish on March 2, 2009, 7:43 GMT

    analysis should be for worst 'pure batsmen' (not bowlers or allrounders) with minimum 25 test innings,

    who do you think is the worst batsman?

  • Rohit on February 27, 2009, 16:58 GMT

    Some people have put wall around any objective analysis of Bradman's record and compare it to current greats. Pure speculation about how Ponting/SRT/Lara would've played without protective gear is meaningless and shouting down others is not going to help. Ananth does very good job by looking only at stats, rest everything is hype, speculation and myth.

  • R Sivasubramaniam on February 27, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    Thank you Ananth for your explanation.

    For those who criticise Bradman. Would any of the present day 'greats' (with the exception of Viv Richardes dared to have faced Larwood, Voce or Constantine with 'body armour' and helmets. Bradman probably had a guard and maybe a towel as thigh guard and yet scored a century in the Nodyline series! Leave the Don alone - he is in a class by himself - let lesser mortals fight ot out frrom the 2nd place onwards! Siva from Singapore

  • Gordelpus on February 27, 2009, 15:29 GMT

    Good stuff - but I have a couple of points.

    A weighting of 15 for the partnership element seems a little high - for the real rabbits, the length of the partnership is more likely to reflect the ability of their partners to farm the strike, rather than telling us anything about the ability of no.11 to stand his ground.

    And I'm with Siva from Singapore in not understanding your method of scoring. Please can you explain how multiplying one of the factors by 2, and the others by 0.75, squares with your weighting of these factors by 20, 15 and 15? Thanks. [[ Could as well have been 10 for partnership. Continuing with the points related explanation. 1. Average ranges from 2.00 to 10.00. Hence multiplying this measure by 2 gives the required range of 4 to 20 with 4 being the "top" in this analysis. 2. The Zeros frequency runs from 2.60 to 17.00. Multiplying by 0.75 fits this into the required range of 1.7 to around 13, with 1.7 being the "top". 3. Similarly the average partnership value runs from 6.84 to 18.64. Multiplying this by 0.75 gives a range of around 5 to 14, perfect, with 5 being the "top".. Ananth: ]]

  • Engle on February 27, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    I recall an article some time ago where they dubbed a batsman the " Binary Batsman " for his string of scores like 1,0,0,1,0,1,1 ...

    Who would be the best " Binary Batsman " for the longest such scores ?

  • Kamlesh on February 27, 2009, 13:41 GMT

    longevity should have taken into consideration. Also ratio of lower batsmen's contribution would have been good for this analysis. I think Chris Martin is true number-11 batsman.

  • Marcus on February 27, 2009, 13:17 GMT

    With respect to Mbangwa's partners, Zimbabwe's generally had a pretty tough lower order, with players like Streak and Strang to bat with, so that probably doesn't make a huge amount of difference.

    About the Bradman thing- well, he did face a lot of good bowlers whose careers were cut short by the war or the times. Larwood, Voce, Farnes, Allen, Constantine, Martindale, Verity- all of whom averaged under 30, when very few bowlers today can boast that kind of record. I don't think there's any real doubt about him being the best.

  • navesh on February 27, 2009, 13:15 GMT

    I find it surprising to not see Glenn McGraths' name there. I'm sure in his first 50 odd tests he was worse than Martin. I remember him averaging under 2 for quite a while.

  • Rauf on February 27, 2009, 12:51 GMT

    I am not arguing for or against Bradman being the best so please post this as sort of a precursor to your future article about Bradman.

    If we lived in a vacuum where nothing changed then a best player from 100 years ago will still be best today however; that is not true.

    Players should be compared with other players within their own time. e.g. Richard Webster broke 1 mile world record in 1865 with 4:36.5. Roger Bannister broke 4 minute mile barrier in 1954 and current world record holder is Hicham El Guerrouj with 3:43.13. So who is best out of these three? Hicham as he is the most current and fastest but others were "best in their own time compared to other athletes of their time". That is the point to remember when comparing players/athletes from different times.

    Other thing is that would Hicham be best if he was alive in 1865 with conditions/technology that existed in that day?

  • karthik on February 27, 2009, 12:51 GMT

    I feel this way of analysis gives much difference to scoring a zero and one. Someone who has the knack of scoring that one run quite consistently might miss out on this list!! Dont say he is good enough batsman to score a '1' :) Again in partnerships part of it must also depend upon the partner. For eg. in Zimbabwe there might not be much difference between Mbangwa and his partner, but Martin might have had a better batsman to accompany him(comparatively) which would have helped him.

  • N Kumar on February 27, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    hi...i have an interesting scenario...what if it is the last ball of the innings scores are tied...let say 150...9 wickets are down for the team chasing....they run 2...but one is runout...what does the scoreboard read?....so and so win by 0 wickets?.. please HELP!!!! [[ Kumar, I wait to be corrected obn this. When the first run is completed, the match is over and the team wins by one wicket. The second run (and the run-out) do not count. This is akin to the scores being level, a batsman stroking the ball to the ropes and runs. If the batsmen complete the run before the ball crosses the fence, the striker will be credited with only one and not a four. Ananth: ]]

  • karthik on February 27, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    I feel this way of analysis gives much difference to scoring a zero and one. Someone who has the knack of scoring that one run quite consistently might miss out on this list!! Dont say he is good enough batsman to score a '1' :) Again in partnership part it must also depend upon the partner. For eg. in Zimbabwe there might not be much difference between Mbangwa and his partner, but Martin might have had a better batsman to accompany him(comparatively) which would have helped him.

  • N J Patel on February 27, 2009, 11:34 GMT

    Ananth, when you present evidence regarding "Bradman being the best" please compare with George Headley, preferably excluding his futile post Second War appearances.

  • girish on February 27, 2009, 10:18 GMT

    hi you should have gone for only those who were selected for their batting ability. If you look for worst bowler in the history, probably Bradman stands first!

  • R Sivasubramaniam on February 27, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    Dear Anath Could you please explain how you coverted the various data e,g. How does Mbwonga 4.00 batting average work out to 2 on a scale of 20 ditto for the other two data that you used on the second table. Thank you Siva from Singapore [[ If you see the table you will understand. The Batting average gets multiplied by 2. The other two values get muliplied by 0.75. The key factor to understand is that the lower the values the worse the batsman. the weighting values are for the best amongst this lot. Ananth: ]]

  • Dunga on February 27, 2009, 8:05 GMT

    Hello again,

    A thought just struck me. I wonder if you would be able to find out, who played the most matches without playing well, yet still being selected? for instance, lets say taking less then two wickets in a match and scoring less then 20 in both innings is a failure, who has played the mots consecutive matches 'failing', and also who has the most of these failed matches? Though, I'm sure the latter would be biased to the players with many tests, Walsh, Tendulkar, Waugh.

  • Stewart Walker on February 27, 2009, 7:51 GMT

    Obviously none of you ever saw Jim Higgs bat. He was an Aussie legspinner from the late 70s and early 80s, and the worst Test batsman I've ever seen. [[ Stewart, Higgs is in 30th place. His average is only 5.55. However he also has a reasonable Zero frequency and a good partnership number. Ananth: ]]

  • Tim on February 27, 2009, 6:15 GMT

    Ananth,

    The only problem with this analysis is that 'runs per partnership' isn't suitable when comparing a Zimbabwe team to a New Zealand team. It's almost certain that if Martin is batting, there will be a higher calibre batsman at the crease with him.

    This would explain why Martin scores so highly in this aspect, relative to Pommy.

    Still though, based on the first two characteristics, Martin appears to have lost the losers award anyway. Very nice work.

  • Rupesh Gandhi on February 27, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    HI Ananth, Can you actually prepare a list of the worst offenders their tool of trade, i.e. the worst batsman (who is considered as a specialist batsman), and same for bowlers. More interesting if you can do this over a decade break-down, a similar analysis which you had done few weeks earlier (pre and post World War II etc). I understand that the batsman’s and bowler’s life-span may cross a decade, but if he features prominently in those list, he would have proven a point. It may also be possible, in this way, to see some batsman raise their game, or bowlers losing theirs in latter part of their respective carrers. It will also be good to know, if similar analysis can be done for ODI players?

  • Theena on February 27, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    You should email this article to Murali. He'd be ecstatic.

  • Arpit Garg on February 27, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    Nice to see Nehra up there in the list. I always thought Venkatesh Parsad was the undisputed king for India.

  • Marcus on February 27, 2009, 4:19 GMT

    Is there anything more fun than watching a truly terrible tailender swinging the willow? I remember watching Steve Harmison bat against the West Indies, and you could hear the "Whoosh" in the stump-mic! It's especially funny when they're particularly unsophisticated- Brad Williams has to be the leader there, although I expect both his and Harmy's averages are pretty respectable.

  • David on February 27, 2009, 3:57 GMT

    It was nice of Mike Thorn (from NZ) to remind us Australians of Bruce Reid's magnificent over, so I'll throw in my favourite Danny Morrison moment - when he played a beautiful, textbook forward defensive stroke, only for the ball to hit him on the badge on his helmet. Such a masterful misjudgment of the length! [[ David Let us not forget that amongst these batsmen, Morrison, with an average of 8..42 and possessor of the greatest zero in Test cricket, is a king. Ananth: ]]

  • Omar Ahmed on February 27, 2009, 3:56 GMT

    Although in modern day cricket the batting standards of tailenders have improved(?!) but I always believed that Pakistani bowlers have not kept up with the rest of the pack.But I am pleased that only three Pakistani players are in the is rather distinguished list!Aaqib Javaid and Sikander Bakht are history while Kaneria is too improving.

  • Jubair on February 27, 2009, 3:42 GMT

    I was just wondering where is Alan Mullaly placed cos whenever he came to bat, the English fans used to cheer him.I thnk he had 3 consecutive ducks. And lots of ducks. [[ Jubair, Mullaly is very well placed at no.12. Pl see the attached list. Ananth: ]]

  • matthew on February 27, 2009, 3:37 GMT

    I feel a little ashamed that none of the Great English tailenders of the 1990's hit the top 10. There were greats such as Peter Such, Phillip Tuffnell, Alan Mullally, Devon Malcolm and Angus Fraser. How did they miss out? Chris Martin may well be hopeless with the bat; but at least he didnt make a bet with his coach regarding the scoring of a test 50. Which Mullally did. Surely the belief of being able to bat has got to count as well. You cant call Martin the second worst batsman in the world if he himself doesnt regard himself to know which end of the bat he should use. [[ Mathew, Mullaly is 12th. Tuffnell, Panesar, Malcolm and Hendrick grace the 16-19 positions. So pl do not despair. The English tail, while having eluded the top 10, are still there.

    Ananth: ]]

  • Aaron on February 27, 2009, 2:56 GMT

    Great stuff, Ananth. Who'd have thought stats and humour could mix so well? Shame to see Martin's not quite the worst, but the man has a few more ducks in him yet, so all is not lost.

  • Peter on February 27, 2009, 2:33 GMT

    As a Black Caps supporter, I'm surprised and disappointed that Chris Martin doesn't take the title. However the Zimbabwean has two advantages that may make him seem worse than he is. Firstly, as mentioned earlier he has weaker players to build partnerships with than NZ's generally strong lower order. Secondly, NZ plays a disporoportionate amount of matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, boosting Martin's average, whereas Mbangwa obviously never faces Zimbabwe. I would love to see them both in a head to head, maybe Cricinfo could sponsor it.

  • Vinish Garg on February 27, 2009, 2:31 GMT

    Interesting one, however similar analysis for batsmen who have batted only from position 1 to 7 would have been even more intersting!

  • Manny on February 27, 2009, 1:37 GMT

    I think the article would be more fair if it deals with specialist batsmen. I know a lot of them would have been dropped hence may be you would want to find out some minnow bashers and hence create a list based on their averages against top attacks.

    Another good idea, if possible would be to study batsmen's achievements on good hard tracks. Good attempt!!! Congrats and good luck

  • Ananth on February 27, 2009, 1:36 GMT

    In view of the number of comments I have not been able to respond individually. Hence I have sent a composite reply. 1. I think Voyager's comments have been well received and have a few takers. I will certainly look at that analysis. I must confess the idea never came to me. 2. Mike Whitney's avaerage was 6.18. However he played only 19 Test innings. 3. This type of analysis cannot have the same criteria as the "Best" analysis. It has to necessarily have its own set of criteria. 4. Readers should remember that at no stage have these "batsmen" looked down upon. They have their own charm and I for one always have fun watching Murali bat. 5. I would pay a reasonable sum to see Martin bat for 10 balls to score 0 in the first innings and then score 25 in the second innings beating his own record. 6. The title was a "tongue in cheek" one. Do not put too much emphasis on that.

  • P. Sriram on February 27, 2009, 1:34 GMT

    You will notice from Mbangwa's scores that in his last 4 innings, he actually averaged an astronomical 7, which is 350% of his career average. Perhaps he was just getting his eye in when his career ended cruelly (thanks to Mugabe)

  • John K on February 27, 2009, 0:30 GMT

    I saw Pommy Mbangwa in the commentary box during IPL 2008. Never knew his legendary status. Did he ever hit a 4 or a 6?

    Also, I am a little surprised not to see Mike Whitney on this list. I still remember a comment made by Tony Greig when Whitney hit a four, "His batting average is rocketing up with the addition of those runs!"

  • Nithya on February 27, 2009, 0:15 GMT

    For once, lets take the Tendulkar buzzword out of this. We Indians dont have any other player to look forward to ?

    Let us also revere other batsmen. For eg., A Rahul Dravid, Mike Hussey or Lara or Ponting

  • Mike Thorn on February 26, 2009, 23:39 GMT

    As a New Zealander I am obviously upset that Chris Martin has missed out on the title. He is still playing though, so one can still hope.

    The mention of Bruce Reid bought back memories of the most inept batting I have ever seen - when Reid played and missed at every ball of a maiden over (he was out off the last ball) in the 50th over of a ODI when Australia only needed one run to tie, and two to win. Wonderful stuff.

    There really is something wonderful about watching a player with no talent, co-ordination or technique bat isn't there. Long may the tail-ender be an integral part of cricket.

  • Dunga on February 26, 2009, 23:00 GMT

    How about a list to find the best number eleven batsman? i.e, taking into account the amount of runs scored, average, balls faced, to find the batsman that you would most like coming out at number eleven? And ten and nine, I suppose.

  • Udit on February 26, 2009, 22:59 GMT

    Yes I agree with Voyager, it would make sense to find out worst among 'specialist' batsman and that too with some minimum number of runs i.e. tables based on specialist scoring 1000 or more test runs, 2000 or more test runs and 5000 or more test runs. Udit

  • DK on February 26, 2009, 22:45 GMT

    How about a list of worst 'specialist' batsman. Would be interesting to see worst of those who were picked for their batting abilities (something like 10-15 innings, and batting at position 7 and above could be a qualification). Just an idea.

  • Jim Garner on February 26, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    I agree with Voyager's comment: who is the worst specialist batsman? I nominate Jack Ikin of England and Lancashire, who played umpteen tests, never scored a ton and averaged some God-awful figure -- about 16 IIRC.

  • Aneesh on February 26, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    Hi Ananth, As always, thanks for the thought-provoking analysis!

    I agree that supporting other batsmen should be a factor in the analysis. But if you took 2 copies of Mbangwa, and put one in the Australian team and one in the Zimbabwe team, the Australian one would likely have higher partnership average, even though both have the exact same batting ability. The other Australian batsmen would probably farm the strike better, and also score more runs, boosting the partnership runs without Mbangwa doing anything.

    I'm not sure how to account for this though. Maybe controlling for % of partnership balls faced by the "batsman" we're rating? But I guess that ball-by-ball data is not available for all but the most recent matches. As an aside, roughly when did ball-by-ball records become commonplace at Cricinfo?

  • Muhammad Haris on February 26, 2009, 22:29 GMT

    I loved the analysis you did on this.. But all the players in the list are bowlers and not the batsmen.. It would be interesting if you filter out players that bat below number 8 or 9.. This way we'll only have batsmen or wicket keepers in the list..

    Good job. Thanks.

  • Andrew on February 26, 2009, 22:21 GMT

    Following up on Rex, I wondered how McGrath would have gone had he not ruined his stats with THAT game (not just the 61, but the partnership). Still wouldn't be close (avg drops to low 6's).

    Which leads to another thought - the most statistically improbable innings ever. Was it Blair's 64 (a worse batsman than McGrath), Gillespie's 201, Tudor's 99* or another?

  • Raman on February 26, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    This is an interesting analysis. These batsmen however never claimed that they can bat.

    I am more interested in knowing which batsman is the worst among those who claim that they are specialist batsman. I know most of the specialists would be dropped and never taken after probably first 6 or 7 tests. I would like to know who was the worst batsman among specialist batsmen who played more than 25 tests. In essence who was the most tolerated and persisted upon and never delivered. Is there anyone like that.

    Raman

  • Mark Kidger on February 26, 2009, 22:05 GMT

    I think that this is a fascinating article. Pommie Mbangwa is surely Chris Martin's only true rival in the modern game. Going back a lot longer there are many annecdotes about players who carried their bat only as decoration however, in pre-war years, far few Tests were played and some worthy candidates to be the worst ever may have missed out for this reason. If you relax your criterion slightly, is there anyone out there to challenge the dominance of Mbangwa and Martin, who, in modern times are far ahead of any rival?

  • Ravi on February 26, 2009, 21:12 GMT

    Ananth, How about considering whether the above batsmen (sic), were actually involved in a winning last wicket partnership ? using that as a binary variable to actually code their "winningness". After all, if somebody has to be first (Bradman) there has to be a last(Mbangwa). I remember, Maninder Singh single-handedly caused a tied test.If he had scored a single, he wouldn't have been such a miserable failure (failure- yes, miserable - no). Your opinion in this regard ?

    -Thanks Ravi Cleveland, Ohio

  • Shameendra on February 26, 2009, 21:12 GMT

    Good article. How about doing the same to figure out the worst bowlers among the batsmen who have bowled as well. (Seeing Sangakara recently bowl against Pakistan prompted me this idea).

  • Nadeem Moghal on February 26, 2009, 20:56 GMT

    Good article. But I think it should have been about "batsmen," and not about the poor souls who are forced to be at the receiving end at the pitch! Clearly, these bowlers are picked for their prowess with the ball, and if they contribute anything with a bat, it's a bonus.

    What about the specialist batsmen who repeatedly fail to perform? Consider Mike Brearley - isn't he the only player to be picked exclusively as a captain (Leeds, 1981)?

    For this list, we should disregard the batting average, since a high unbeaten score can skew it higher. We could use median score per inning. Another yardstick: number (or ratio) of scores under 20 - clearly, if a batsman does not reach 20, he has failed.

    Another factor: % of runs scored by the batsman while he's at at the crease, or the inning total. (Low = bad)

    Strength of opposition may be a good factor, but is impossible to be quantified with a scientific (or mathematical!) wrapper.

    This should have some interesting revelations :)

  • saintlymark on February 26, 2009, 20:28 GMT

    two things.

    On Bradman, no contest. Never mind the quality he played against, the most important thing to bear in mind with Bradman is his record as composed to his contemporaries. He is way above anyone of his generation and way above anyone in any other generation.

    Secondly, exactly how much would you pay to watch a Martin or an Mbangwa bat? And what would be more dissapointing? One of them being out first ball or one of them hanging around for a brave 20 and ruining there reputation?

  • Dilip on February 26, 2009, 20:27 GMT

    Nice study... Looking for the study on Best bowlers to strike the top order batsmen and the bowlers who have most of theier tally by mopping up the tail enders... and the truly great ones who revelled in both.

  • Gopi on February 26, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    Just wanted to bring in an aspect that should be considered while drawing comparisons between Bradman and some of the modern day batsmen. We need to understand that those days the batsmen had minimal protective gear and the rules were more bowler-friendly than these days. Today's batsmen play a variety of shots with absolutely no fear of being hit by the ball cos they have almost every single part of their body covered up with padding. Some of the shots the current batsmen play would be unthinkable during Bradman's days.

  • Abhishek Dwivedi on February 26, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    This is rather harsh on bowlers. You should figure out this list with those who played cricket as batsmen or all-rounder. We never talk about Bradman's bowling, so why bring bowlers in to this list??

  • aditya on February 26, 2009, 19:53 GMT

    excellant article. i wonder where glenn mcgrath lies... although if u ask him he will say he was second only to bradman LOL

  • Abdul on February 26, 2009, 19:53 GMT

    I was about to point out the same idea as by Voyager. Yes, when we talk about worst batsman then it should be a specialist batsman not a bowler. Imagine when enlisting worst bowlers, would you consider a batsman who once in a while turned his arm over in his career and ended up with a bowling average of 1 wicket per 200 or more runs??? So to me, you have to do ur research again to justify the essence of ur article. Thanks

  • faisalafsar on February 26, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    Well, It was very interesting but i would really like to see an article of yours on the worst openers(opening partnerships)...

  • Sri on February 26, 2009, 18:57 GMT

    Although you won't publish: When you attempt to determine the best test batsmen, please try and take into consideration (among other things) the caliber of bowlers, the merits of the oppostion as a fielding unit and the number of different contries a batsman played in (like if a batsman played and scored in many countries, he should rank higher in that measure than the one who has played and scored in not many different countries). The third measure I suggested will not only show how a batsman fared in different surfaces, but also against different types of bowling. Hope you do that. Then I would like to see how Sir Don will fare. I expect he will still be real high...but will some one give him stiff competion for the No.1 spot???

  • Yajuvender on February 26, 2009, 18:52 GMT

    The first thing that i thought this article is related to is the poor "Batsmen"...but when I read the article it was for poor bowlers who were expected to Bat....Voyager has already raised that point as he must have thought the same thing ....you cant compare bradman with chris martin can you??? in that sense the headline of this article is meaningless...

  • J. Iqbal on February 26, 2009, 18:39 GMT

    Good work. I'm happy at least we have two players in the list. Thanks to Aaqib and Danish. Even though Danish still has a chance to take himself out of this shame.

  • Anonymous on February 26, 2009, 18:16 GMT

    The more interesting question to me is who is the worst non-tailender batsman ever? The Chandras are interesting but they played mainly because they were bowlers. What about batsmen who played for their batting skills? Who is the worst among those?

  • Jayant on February 26, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    Hi Ananth. This is not for publication here. I had an idea, didn't know your email address, and thought, "Why not." Have you considered a piece about batsmen who have suffered most because of bad umpiring decisions? I was motivated by the three questionable LBW decisions Tendulkar got in Sri Lanka. The popular perception is that Tendulkar gets more than his fair share of bad decisions and I tend to believe it. But maybe this is just misperception and myth. Additionally using a batsman's batting average as a basis you could then answer questions like: How many runs would batsman X have scored if the umpires hadn't made a mistake. Of course the 'batting average' figure would have to exclude the wrong decisions. Anyhow, think about it. Maybe it will be impossible because no database records wrong decisions. But I believe the question is important regardless of whether it can be answered.

  • Vikram on February 26, 2009, 18:00 GMT

    Ananth, I fail to understand why we should have different criteria for coming up with the best batsman and the worst batsman. Surely the yardstick has to be the same as the thing that is being measured is the same. Would be interesting to see who is at the bottom of the table you posted in your analysis of the best test batsmen.

    - Vikram

  • Jeff on February 26, 2009, 17:49 GMT

    Good one Ananth.

    Can't argue with Pommie or Martin as the worst of the worst.

    If you'd made the cut off a bit lower than Bert Ironmonger might have been in with a shout.

    I remember watching the Bodyline tv show as a kid where they described Ironmonger as "The Ferret" - he always goes in after the rabbits!

    Only 21 inns but an average of just 2.62 and according to Statsguru, he never lasted more than 15 mins at the crease. He let himself down slightly by scoring 12 in one inns (including 2 boundaries !!) That inns accounted for 29% of his career runs (and he outscored Bradman in that inns !!!!)

    I like Voyagers idea - maybe you could use your "average batting position" calculation to work out the worst batsman by position?

  • Sriram on February 26, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    I guess Chandra wasn't as hapless as we all remember, especially considering all the armor being employed now weren't available back in the day. The bowlers weren't any less vicious (cf. Chatfield). For this reason one would have expected the list to be topped by tailenders whose careers had ended by 1980-2 in the pre-helmet/padding era. They weren't so bad, considering......where is Wasim Bari? I thought he would have figured prominently but he isn't even in the complete list!

  • Colin Watson on February 26, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Interesting stats - just like to add my on POV.

    If you took take away Martin's record against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and Mbangwa's record against New Zealand (he never played against Bangladesh) then their averages against the remaining six Test sides are:

    Martin 1.71 Mbangwa 2.23

    if you factored this into your formula would Martin snatch the title in extra-time?

  • keyur on February 26, 2009, 17:32 GMT

    very funny topic...just an observation: Chandra, reid and possibly martin all have taken more wickets than scored runs!

  • Longmemory on February 26, 2009, 17:27 GMT

    I've long wanted someone to do a similar piece on the worst "all-rounder" of all time. A composite measure that looks at the # of runs they made, wickets they took, catches caught deflated by the number of tests they played should give a simple measure. As in this piece, I would like for it to be simple rather than complicated and one could set the minimum number of tests to qualify at about 20. My wager is that Ajit Agarkar would finish in the top 5 or so of the worst all-rounders list. In fact it was his repeated ineptness that got me thinking about this list a few years ago. If you do go for this suggestion, I would recommend leaving out wicket-keepers - I've thought of them as specialists rather than the new fashion of calling them all-rounders.

  • Voyager on February 26, 2009, 17:15 GMT

    These poor guys are bowlers. It would be interesting to find out the worst among 'specialist' batsmen. Let say who have batted at number 6 or higher! [[ Excellent idea. Will keep this in mind for a future article. Ananth: ]]

  • Rex on February 26, 2009, 17:10 GMT

    Wonderful concept. But I felt the article left me wanting for more. I thought I would get to know about a lot of legendary No.11 batsmen over the years and tale of their great exploits. But, I'll take what is given and not expect. A fine article, and considering the fact that I never saw Mbangwa bat, that has given me some new information. I am happy that Walsh and Mcgrath- the very image of a No.11 in my mind are close together, but their ranking in the 30s hurts a bit. Thank you! [[ Rex, I have done quite a lot of heavy multi-measure articles and felt the need to a short but interesting article, based on numbers. What you want should be attempted by a pure writer such as Suresh, Sambit or Andrew. Ananth: ]]

  • Sriram on February 26, 2009, 17:05 GMT

    I guess Chandra wasn't as hapless as we all remember, especially considering all the armor being employed now weren't available back in the day. The bowlers weren't any less vicious (cf. Chatfield). For this reason one would have expected the list to be topped by tailenders whose careers had ended by 1980-2 in the pre-helmet/padding era. They weren't so bad, considering......where is Wasim Bari? I thought he would have figured prominently but he isn't even in the complete list! [[ Sriram, I think you are being unfair to Wasim Bari who has a Test average of 15.88 and has 6 test fifties to his credit. One thing is sure. Both Mbangwa and Martin had all the protection they needed. Ananth: ]]

  • RGB on February 26, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    The average partnership will depend on the other batsman and the percentage of deliveries faced by each batsman in the partnership. That should be taken into account as well.

    Mbangwa has a higher balls/innings average.

    [[ Possibly true. However this information is not available for most tail-end batsmen, so I could not use it. Ananth: ]]

  • Prasad Shah on February 26, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    Ananth, Bradman being best is far from the truth. It is a myth propagated by Western media. Look at your own detailed analysis of all time best Test bowlers - not a single one of them ever bowled a ball to Bradman. Where in fact, five of them - Ian Bishop, McGrath, Donald, Pollock have bowled to Tendulkar (not counting Waqar and Akram). Add to that poor fielding and no third umpires (so benefit of doubt always went to the batsmen). You put together all these factors - lack of best bowlers, poor fielding and umpiring, how can you say that Bradman is the best? Thanks. [[ I thought of not publishing this comment since it has no relevance to the article. Then I decided that this has been prompted by my first para and since I opened the gate I have to let the comment in. I disagree completely with Prasad. There is no western myth to say that Bradman was the best batsman who ever played. One day I will do a complete analysis of Test batsmen to dispel this myth about myth. This topic, while responding to this specific article, is closed. No comments on this track will be published. Please reserve your comments for the subject matter at hand. Ananth: ]]

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  • Prasad Shah on February 26, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    Ananth, Bradman being best is far from the truth. It is a myth propagated by Western media. Look at your own detailed analysis of all time best Test bowlers - not a single one of them ever bowled a ball to Bradman. Where in fact, five of them - Ian Bishop, McGrath, Donald, Pollock have bowled to Tendulkar (not counting Waqar and Akram). Add to that poor fielding and no third umpires (so benefit of doubt always went to the batsmen). You put together all these factors - lack of best bowlers, poor fielding and umpiring, how can you say that Bradman is the best? Thanks. [[ I thought of not publishing this comment since it has no relevance to the article. Then I decided that this has been prompted by my first para and since I opened the gate I have to let the comment in. I disagree completely with Prasad. There is no western myth to say that Bradman was the best batsman who ever played. One day I will do a complete analysis of Test batsmen to dispel this myth about myth. This topic, while responding to this specific article, is closed. No comments on this track will be published. Please reserve your comments for the subject matter at hand. Ananth: ]]

  • RGB on February 26, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    The average partnership will depend on the other batsman and the percentage of deliveries faced by each batsman in the partnership. That should be taken into account as well.

    Mbangwa has a higher balls/innings average.

    [[ Possibly true. However this information is not available for most tail-end batsmen, so I could not use it. Ananth: ]]

  • Sriram on February 26, 2009, 17:05 GMT

    I guess Chandra wasn't as hapless as we all remember, especially considering all the armor being employed now weren't available back in the day. The bowlers weren't any less vicious (cf. Chatfield). For this reason one would have expected the list to be topped by tailenders whose careers had ended by 1980-2 in the pre-helmet/padding era. They weren't so bad, considering......where is Wasim Bari? I thought he would have figured prominently but he isn't even in the complete list! [[ Sriram, I think you are being unfair to Wasim Bari who has a Test average of 15.88 and has 6 test fifties to his credit. One thing is sure. Both Mbangwa and Martin had all the protection they needed. Ananth: ]]

  • Rex on February 26, 2009, 17:10 GMT

    Wonderful concept. But I felt the article left me wanting for more. I thought I would get to know about a lot of legendary No.11 batsmen over the years and tale of their great exploits. But, I'll take what is given and not expect. A fine article, and considering the fact that I never saw Mbangwa bat, that has given me some new information. I am happy that Walsh and Mcgrath- the very image of a No.11 in my mind are close together, but their ranking in the 30s hurts a bit. Thank you! [[ Rex, I have done quite a lot of heavy multi-measure articles and felt the need to a short but interesting article, based on numbers. What you want should be attempted by a pure writer such as Suresh, Sambit or Andrew. Ananth: ]]

  • Voyager on February 26, 2009, 17:15 GMT

    These poor guys are bowlers. It would be interesting to find out the worst among 'specialist' batsmen. Let say who have batted at number 6 or higher! [[ Excellent idea. Will keep this in mind for a future article. Ananth: ]]

  • Longmemory on February 26, 2009, 17:27 GMT

    I've long wanted someone to do a similar piece on the worst "all-rounder" of all time. A composite measure that looks at the # of runs they made, wickets they took, catches caught deflated by the number of tests they played should give a simple measure. As in this piece, I would like for it to be simple rather than complicated and one could set the minimum number of tests to qualify at about 20. My wager is that Ajit Agarkar would finish in the top 5 or so of the worst all-rounders list. In fact it was his repeated ineptness that got me thinking about this list a few years ago. If you do go for this suggestion, I would recommend leaving out wicket-keepers - I've thought of them as specialists rather than the new fashion of calling them all-rounders.

  • keyur on February 26, 2009, 17:32 GMT

    very funny topic...just an observation: Chandra, reid and possibly martin all have taken more wickets than scored runs!

  • Colin Watson on February 26, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Interesting stats - just like to add my on POV.

    If you took take away Martin's record against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and Mbangwa's record against New Zealand (he never played against Bangladesh) then their averages against the remaining six Test sides are:

    Martin 1.71 Mbangwa 2.23

    if you factored this into your formula would Martin snatch the title in extra-time?

  • Sriram on February 26, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    I guess Chandra wasn't as hapless as we all remember, especially considering all the armor being employed now weren't available back in the day. The bowlers weren't any less vicious (cf. Chatfield). For this reason one would have expected the list to be topped by tailenders whose careers had ended by 1980-2 in the pre-helmet/padding era. They weren't so bad, considering......where is Wasim Bari? I thought he would have figured prominently but he isn't even in the complete list!

  • Jeff on February 26, 2009, 17:49 GMT

    Good one Ananth.

    Can't argue with Pommie or Martin as the worst of the worst.

    If you'd made the cut off a bit lower than Bert Ironmonger might have been in with a shout.

    I remember watching the Bodyline tv show as a kid where they described Ironmonger as "The Ferret" - he always goes in after the rabbits!

    Only 21 inns but an average of just 2.62 and according to Statsguru, he never lasted more than 15 mins at the crease. He let himself down slightly by scoring 12 in one inns (including 2 boundaries !!) That inns accounted for 29% of his career runs (and he outscored Bradman in that inns !!!!)

    I like Voyagers idea - maybe you could use your "average batting position" calculation to work out the worst batsman by position?