Test cricket April 17, 2009

Ananth answers readers' queries - 1

A number of readers had raised queries requesting me to answer those

A number of readers had raised queries requesting me to answer those. I have taken a few of these and attempted to provide an answer. Once in two months or so I will do a similar article.

1. Test teams with maximum number of 10+ / 15+ / 20+ Batting averages:

There was a query from WPHE about Test teams where all eleven players have had a career-to-date average in double figures.

I did a simple analysis and as I expected there are many teams, over 600, with this level of all cumulative batting averages exceeding 10. For instance most recent Indian, Australian and South African teams have even the no.11 batsman with a 10+ average.

However, this query intrigued me quite a bit especially as the late order batsmen have improved drastically of late. I did some more work on this very interesting query and the results are posted below.

First I raised the bar to 15.00 thinking that it would reduce the list to a manageable one. Good reduction, but not enough. 59 teams qualified. That is a lot. So I took the plunge and set the bar at 20.00, fully expecting a list with no entries. I was surprised to see 3 teams with all players having a career-to-date average exceeding 20.00. The teams are given below.

All batsmen exceeding career-to-date average of 20.00

0023 1886 Eng vs Aus 11 0528 1962 Ind vs Win 11 1177 1991 Ind vs Aus 11

Let us look at the three teams. Most of the analysis would centre around the last three players since the other 8 are normally expected to have averages exceeding 20.00.

The first is a very early English team. Tylecote, the keeper, had an average of 20.29. Briggs, although a bowler, had an average of 22.50. Lohmann made his debut in the previous Test and had a score and average of 32.00. To readers who complain that only one innings had been played, take it easy, this is only a quixotic analysis.

The third team, also India, has peculiar similarities to the first English team. Kiran More, the wicketkeeper batting at no.8, was a good batsman. Raju had a career-to-date average of 21.00 in 5 innings. Srinath, who made his debut in this Test, scored 21 in the first innings, hence having a career-to-date average of 21.00. Needless to say that both these bowlers finished with career averages way below 20.00. However the rules have been satisfied.

The second team, the Indian team of 1962, is the only team to have all genuine averages exceeding 20.00 since all the eleven batsmen also finished with averages exceeding 20.00. This team had Borde (3061 at 35.59) at no.8, Durrani (1202 at 25.04) at no.9, Nadkarni (1414 at 25.71) at no.10 and Kunderan (981 at 32.70) at no.11. All these four also had career-to-date average exceeding 20.00. To boot, all these four have career Test centuries to their credit. This is the only team in Test history to have such a collection of good averages. The fact that they lost to a strong West Indian team is incidental.

The underlined sentence made me think that there is something unique. If the last four in the batting order have a Test century to their credit, does this team have 11 centurions (career, not career-to-date). Alas, the Indian propensity for weak top order batsmen spoiled that. Vijay Mehra has a highest Test score of 62 and Rusi surti has a heart-breaking highest Test score of 99. So there are only 9 centurions in this team.

2. Test teams with maximum number of centurions:

The threads seem to go on. What, then about other teams with 9 or 10 Test centurions.

One more program written and the results are set out below. I set the bar at 9 centurions. Well the table hit the ceiling, with 267 entries. So I raised the limit to 10 centurions and the table is presented below.

List of teams with 10 centurions

1397 1998 Saf vs Aus 10 (Adam Bacher - 96) 1444 1999 Pak vs Ind 10 (Shoaib Akhtar - 47) 1485 2000 Pak vs Slk 10 (Waqar Younis - 45) 1547 2001 Pak vs Eng 10 (Waqar Younis - 45) 1717 2004 Nzl vs Bng 10 (Wiseman - 36) 1775 2005 Ind vs Slk 10 (Harbhajan - 66) 1776 2005 Ind vs Slk 10 Do 1778 2005 Ind vs Slk 10 Do 1781 2006 Ind vs Pak 10 Do

Of great interest is the one batsman who has not scored a century than the other 10. That information is given in brackets along with the highest score reached by the batsman.

It is of interest that the only case of a genuine top-order batsman spoiling the "Perfect 11" is Adam Bacher. The others are bowlers. It is also of interest that in many of these matches, bowlers such as Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq, Vettori, Kumble et al have scored their 100s, before or after the concerned match.

The most interesting set is the one containing the last 4 matches. The way Harbhajan Singh bats nowadays, it is only a matter of time before he reaches 100, in which case, all these four teams would reach the "Perfect 11".

3. Test teams with career-to-date double centurions:

Chandran had raised a query on Test teams with 6 batsmen who had scored double centuries. I had analysed this and presented two teams, one Pakistani and another Australian, which had seven double centurions. However, Keyur has correctly pointed that two of the double centuries in both matches had been scored after the concerned match. As such the India - South Africa match referred to by Chandran becomes the first match in which 6 batsmen have had double centuries to their credit. Great little idea and my thanks to Chandran, Agni and of course Keyur.

4. Test teams with all 11 players having captured wicket(s):

The idea of looking at teams which had all players with at least one test wicket to their names came to me as a logical extension to the batsman queries which I have been doing. In reality it is the batsmen who determine this list.

Teams with all 11 players capturing wicket(s)

0384 1954 Win vs Eng 11 (McWatt-1, Weekes-1) 0386 1954 Win vs Eng 11 (McWatt-1, Weekes-1, Holt-1) 0404 1955 Win vs Aus 11 (McWatt-1, Weekes-1, Holt-1) 0571 1964 Eng vs Saf 11 (Parks-1, MJK Smith-1) 0572 1964 Eng vs Saf 11 (Parks-1, MJK Smith-1) 0573 1965 Eng vs Saf 11 (Parks-1, MJK Smith-1) 0575 1965 Eng vs Saf 11 (Parks-1, MJK Smith-1) 0871 1980 Ind vs Pak 11 (Kirmani-1, Viswanath-1, Gavaskar-1) 0961 1983 Ind vs Pak 11 (Kirmani-1, Gavaskar-1) 0962 1983 Ind vs Pak 11 (Kirmani-1, Yashpal-1, Gavaskar-1)

Normally the wicket-keeper is likely to be the culprit when it comes to taking wicket(s) so his name is listed first. Only the single wicket takers are listed.

5. Bowler/Fielder combination:

For this there is a ready-made table in Cricinfo's records section. For the record, Lillee/Marsh combination leads with 95 dismissals. My take is also that it may be very difficult for any Bowler/Fielder combination to reach 100 dismissals. Ntini/Boucher need 16 more dismissals which might require around 17/18 matches. Quite unlikely to happen. Muralitharan/Jayawardene, which is the highest Bowler/Fielder combination, accounts for 71 dismissals. 29 more (?!), possibly not since it might require 25 more Tests.

I get the feeling that the career-to-date figures are going to play a significant part in any future analysis. i will strengthen the Batting career-to-date figures and introduce one for Bowling also since I have not completed the Bowling career-to-date figures in a structured manner, resorting to ad-hoc computations when needed.

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