Trivia - batting April 6, 2009

Teams with four or more batsmen having 50+ averages

Recently I received a trigger mail that the first four Indian batsmen during the recently concluded Napier Test had a batting average above 50

Recently I received a trigger mail that the first four Indian batsmen during the recently concluded Napier Test had a batting average above 50. Initially I thought that this would be a very common occurrence. However a preliminary perusal indicated that this was indeed a rare occurrence. So I did a detailed study and the results are presented below.

First a few points on the qualifying criteria.

Initially I thought of using the career batting average. However I discarded that in favour of using a career-to-date batting average because of the following reasons.

- This is the more accurate and correct option and a very interesting one to incorporate.

- Using the career average will move blocks of Tests in and out of the table as a batsman's career average moves either side of 50. For instance, if Gambhir's average moves back to below 50 quite a few Tests will go out of the table. That is not correct.
- Using the batting average is a simple task and can be done by any reader using Cricinfo's Statsguru. However the career-to-date batting average requires the special database I have.
- It allows me to include many a good batsmen such as Inzamam, Gilchrist, Walters, Worrell (in the last innings) et al who have had a fair proportion of their careers at above 50 and finished with a career batting average below 50.

I have only incorporated the following caveats.

During the first 10 Tests of the batsman, if the average exceeds 50, this will be considered only if his career batting average is above 50. This is to take care of the Azharuddin/Phil Hughes/Walters situation. Also if a batsman finished his career with fewer than 1000 runs, a batting average of above 50 will be ignored. This is to take care of batsmen such as Taslim Arif or CF Walters who scored fewer than 1000 runs but finished with averages exceeding 50.

Now let us look at the table.

Tests in which teams had four or more batsmen with 50 plus batting averages

1768 2005 Icc 6 Smith(55.50), Sehwag(55.81), Dravid(58.30),
Lara(54.09), Kallis(56.88), Inzamam-ul-Haq(50.80)

1661 2003 Aus 5 Hayden(52.01), Ponting(51.12), Waugh(51.07), Lehmann(50.79), Gilchrist(58.80)

0194 1930 Eng 4 Hobbs(59.62),Sutcliffe(63.60),Hammond(65.27),Hendren(50.33) 0273 1939 Eng 4 Hutton(63.35),Paynter(63.79),Hammond(61.56),Compton(50.06) 1326 1996 Win 4 Campbell(53.06),Lara(60.06),Adams(68.33),Chanderpaul(50.01) 1340 1996 Win 4 Campbell(50.17),Lara(59.69),Chanderpaul(57.62),Adams(63.83) 1343 1996 Win 4 Campbell(54.65),Lara(58.38),Chanderpaul(54.07),Adams(60.74) 1346 1996 Win 4 Campbell(50.68),Chanderpaul(55.29),Lara(56.41),Adams(61.31) 1595 2002 Aus 4 Hayden(50.59),Waugh(50.27),Martyn(53.38),Gilchrist(60.38) 1663 2003 Aus 4 Hayden(56.77),Ponting(50.97),Waugh(51.20),Gilchrist(61.06) 1671 2003 Aus 4 Hayden(57.69),Ponting(52.73),Waugh(51.25),Gilchrist(60.25) 1673 2003 Aus 4 Hayden(57.34),Ponting(54.61),Waugh(51.17),Gilchrist(58.53) 1678 2003 Aus 4 Hayden(56.80),Ponting(54.07),Gilchrist(58.24),Waugh(51.13) 1680 2004 Aus 4 Hayden(58.56),Ponting(56.36),Waugh(50.98),Gilchrist(57.44) 1685 2004 Aus 4 Hayden(58.08),Ponting(55.64),Lehmann(50.38),Gilchrist(54.71) 1688 2004 Aus 4 Hayden(58.92),Gilchrist(52.88),Lehmann(51.96),Ponting(54.95) 1691 2004 Aus 4 Hayden(58.26),Ponting(54.69),Lehmann(50.67),Gilchrist(54.38) 1706 2004 Aus 4 Hayden(56.60),Ponting(54.72),Lehmann(52.79),Gilchrist(53.91) 1739 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(54.55),Ponting(55.47),Martyn(50.16),Gilchrist(52.68) 1744 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(54.05),Ponting(55.40),Martyn(51.43),Gilchrist(54.90) 1756 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(53.09),Ponting(56.09),Martyn(50.63),Gilchrist(55.28) 1758 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(52.92),Ponting(55.98),Martyn(50.81),Gilchrist(54.73) 1760 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(52.24),Ponting(55.57),Martyn(50.15),Gilchrist(54.67) 1773 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(53.60),Ponting(56.43),Hussey(55.29),Gilchrist(51.89) 1777 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(53.81),Ponting(56.15),Hussey(55.29),Gilchrist(50.91) 1779 2005 Aus 4 Hayden(53.63),Ponting(56.56),Hussey(55.29),Gilchrist(50.33) 1789 2006 Aus 4 Hayden(54.18),Ponting(57.69),Hussey(55.29),Gilchrist(50.18) 1917 2009 Ind 4 Gambhir(50.74),Sehwag(50.82),Dravid(52.39),Tendulkar(54.73)

There is only one instance of six batsmen exceeding 50. This happened in the one-off disaster between Australia and ICC. They are Smith, Sehwag, Dravid, Lara, Kallis and Inzamam. Even though Inzamam finished his career with a batting average of 49.61, his career-to-date batting average before this Test was 50.47. Now we see the benefit of using the career-to-date figures. I don't need to remind readers that the six 50+ batsmen could not save ICC from a humiliating defeat.

Similarly there is also only one instance of five batsmen exceeding 50. This was in Test # 1661 between Australia and Zimbabwe (remember the 380) in which Hayden, Ponting, Steve Waugh, Lehmann and Gilchrist exceeded 50. Lehmann and Gilchrist, at that point in their careers, although Gilchrist closed at 47.61 and Lehmann finished with 44.95. I have confirmed that Lehmann had played in more than 10 Tests for this average.

Then there are quite a number of Australian teams, in all, who have had four players exceeding 50. The core of this group has been Hayden, Ponting and Gilchrist and one from S Waugh, Lehmann or Hussey have completed the four. These teams played a total of 19 Tests during the 2000s.

Surprisingly there are West Indian teams of 1996 which qualify with Lara, Chanderpaul, Sherwin Campbell (with his outstanding start) and Adams (again with his outstanding start) completing the foursome. The fact is that Chanderpaul dropped off but recovered and has over 8500 runs at 50+. However Campbell and Adams really fell off. This team played 4 Tests.

There are two distinct English teams of the 1930s. One has Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond and Hendren. The other one has Hutton, Paynter, Hammond and Compton. Only Hendren amongst this collection of greats has a career batting average of below 50.

The Napier Test comes in finally. It is a peculiar situation at Napier. Gambhir started with an average of 50.74, so the Indian team had Gambhir, Sehwag. Dravid and Tendulkar completing the quartet in the first innings. However Gambhir's average dropped to 49.85 at the end of the first innings. So, strictly speaking, the second innings does not qualify and there were only three 50+ players. Of course Gambhir has gone to 52.03 with his epic 137 and the Basin reserve Test has this quartet starting the innings.

A couple of footnotes

Coming to the original question, thanks to Ashwin Mahesh for that, of the first 4 batsmen having 50+ averages. The Napier Test is a conundrum. The first innings was perfect, with Gambhir on 50.74. Unfortunately the night-watchman came in and Tendulkar batted at no.5. So this does not qualify. In the second innings, there was no problem with the sequence except that Gambhir fell below 50.

However this has been redressed at Basin Reserve where the first four have 50+ averages. It is amazing that, based on these criteria, the Basin reserve will be the first such occasion in Test history. The nearest has been the English team of the 30s. However Hendren batted at no.5 almost always in those matches.

If we take the career averages instead of career-to-date averages, the ICC team is still on top with 5 players in their eleven, Inzamam missing out since his career average falls just below 50. S.Rajesh (Stats-Editor, Cricinfo) has pointed out that Inzamam's average went down below only because of that ICC Test, exclude that, and he averages 50.16. Unfortunately that aberration is still an "official" test. So nothing can be done.

No other team has had 5 such batsmen and a few teams, such as Australia, India and England have four 50+ batsmen. Because of Gambhir's current 50+ average quite a few recent Indian teams make it. However the fallacy of this method will be shown if Gambhir falls below 50. All these Indian teams will go off.

Chandran had raised an interesting query on the Indian team having 6 batsmen whose highest Test score exceeded 200. Wondered whether it is a record. Since this is a related query and an interesting one at that, I have answered the same in the body of this article.

Unfortunately India is one of many teams with 6 batsmen whose highest score is 200+. It so happens that there are two teams which have 7 batsmen whose highest score exceeds 200. The first is a Pakistani team which played 4 tests during 1985. That team had Mudassar, Mohsin, Qasim Omar, Javed, Zaheer, Saleem Malik and Wasim Akram (yes, you read it correctly) whose career HS was 200+.

During 2000-01, 7 Australian teams had Hayden/Slater/Langer/Ponting/S.Waugh/Gilchrist and Gillespie (!?) whose career HS was 200+.

Although I must say that the HS at the time the tests were played were not necessarily 200+ since these HS's might have been achieved subsequently.

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