Batting June 27, 2009

Test Batsmen Analysis: a follow-up

After looking at all comments to my previous article on best Test batsmen, I have come up with a revised set of tables which are a great improvement and should satisfy most readers
139

The follow-up to a major article is always fraught with pitfalls. One has to make sure that the changes are not just cosmetic, nor be influenced by a point only because it is made by the majority, nor knee-jerk reactions and finally must significantly improve the original submission. Each change has to be carefully considered and implemented. Hence, I have taken the time required to peruse all comments (over 700 in all), sift amongst these, pick up the meaningful and valid ones and come out with a revised set of tables which are a great improvement and should satisfy most readers. Let me summarise the changes below.

These changes are given in order of importance and the impact on the original submission.

1. The Match Performance points are divided by the number of innings played rather than the matches played. This will impact the calculations significantly and benefit players such as Richards who have played the second innings infrequently.

2. The Scoring rate measure has been dropped. This is again a significant change since it gets all the batsmen on an equal keel and is fair to all.

3. Instead a new measure, the Consistency index has been added. This information is available across years and for all the batsmen. Details of the calculations for this measure have been given elsewhere.

4. The weight for %-Team Score has been reduced from 10 to 5. This is fair to players who have played in relatively stronger teams. To those who have questioned this measure, for flimsy reasons, let me say that the highest value in this measure is that of Bradman, batsman extraordinary, in very strong Australian teams.

5. In Match Performance calculations, the Bowling quality measure is now Career-to-date instead of final career figures. This is also quite significant since the early Test figures for many bowlers is quite different to their career-end figures. The other benefit is that the Ratings figures calculated do not vary during subsequent calculations.

6. The Bowling quality is determined by a combination of Bowling Average and Strike Rate. This is based on Arjun Hemnani's excellent suggestion. This is fair to bowlers such as Waqar Younis, Marshall, Donald et al who are great strike bowlers but concede runs.

7. The Pitch Index calculations have undergone a very significant change. Now I am determining the Pitch index, not from the team scores and wickets, but using only the scores of the top 7 (or applicable) batsmen of each innings. This ensures that both the teams make their contributions to the index value. Also that the late order wickets do not distort the picture. I have also used the RpI rather than RpW. Makes lot more sense.

8. I had taken into account the relative team strengths in the Result parameter. Now I have extended this to the Home/Away parameter also. It means that instead of giving the benefit to the Away team automatically, now I take into account the relative team strengths. In other words, if Australia or India tour Bangladesh they will not automatically get the Away bonus. For Bangladesh touring, say, Sri Lanka, the Away bonus will be suitably increased.

9. "The Runs added with late order batsmen" measure's weight has been reduced from 1.00-1.30 to 1.00-1.20. This has been done to ensure the correct weight for the more important measures such as Pitch type, Bowler's quality et al.

10. Finally I have introduced a new measure called R-Factor. More on this later.

Consistency Index:

The Consistency index has been calculated as follows.

The career of each batsman was split into 5-Test slices. His 5-Test performance (Runs per innings used rather than Batting average so that the impact of not outs is negated) was measured against the Career RpI figures and the number of below-average performance slices (below 75%) used to determine the more significant part of the Consistency Index. 5-Test slices have been used since these represent a reasonable number to determine consistency. There is sufficient slack within 5 Tests to recover from bad form.

The other part of the Consistency index is based on the % of single digit dismissals. Together these two determine the Consistency record of the batsman.

The most consistent batsman is Alistair Cook of England, who has had no below-average slice and only 17.9% of single-figure dismissals. He gets an Index value of 4.28. Ross Taylor of New Zealand is also very consistent as, surprisingly, is Afridi. Amongst top batsmen, Hobbs and Sutcliffe are right at the top.

At the other end are Karthik, with 1.79 points, Wishart with 1.88 points, Richie Benaud with 2.05 points et al.

Separate tables for different eras:

I have also separated the tables into two independent ones. The first is for batsmen who started their career before 31 December 1959 and the other for batsmen who started their career after 1 January 1960. These dates have been decided after a lot of deliberations, summarized below.

I had earlier decided on 1 January 1940 as the cut-off date. Unfortunately very few Tests had been played upto that point (274 out of 1920) and there are not enough batsmen. Even 1 January 1960 cut-off does not give us enough Tests. However 483 Tests out of 1920 is a far better share.

The other key factor is that the 1950s (and some might say, the 1960s) really belonged to the old fashioned method of playing Test cricket and a Hutton or Barrington or Hanif Mohommad or Vijay Hazare would very easily fit in with the first era. Anyhow whatever date I take for cut-off there would be objections and this is a good enough point. It is also 50 years back.

I have also followed the separation very strictly, with debut match as the only criterion, knowing fully well that some players might have made their debut in 1958-59 but played most of their matches after 1960. Jarman who made his debut in Test no 483 (started on 19 December 1959) is placed in the first era while Durrani who made his debut in Test no 484 (started on 1 January 1960) is placed in the second era, and so on. I have to work on certain guidelines and have to be true to those. The number of players in the first era is a healthy 1124. The second era contains 1435 players.

I have also implemented another one of Arjun's suggections. That is to give a simple ratio between 2.0 and 0.0 against each batsman, based on a suitable mean, so that their position can be determined instantly and comparisons become easier. For this a value of 35.0 has been used as the notional mean (it does not matter what this figure is). Readers will instantly note the value of this single figure when they peruse the tables.

Let us now look at the revised tables.

The best Test batsmen: 1960-2009

No. Cty Batsman        Ratio  Total    Match  Bat   Runs Cons %-TS   R-Factor
Pts      Perf  Avge   Pts  Idx  Pts

1. Win Lara B.C 1.44 50.26 (22.63 10.43 11.93 3.37 1.90) 2. Ind Tendulkar S.R 1.41 49.24 (20.44 10.69 12.85 3.70 1.55) 3. Aus Ponting R.T 1.38 48.24 (21.54 10.85 10.88 3.54 1.44) 4. Ind Dravid R 1.31 45.98 (19.93 10.11 10.92 3.50 1.51) 5. Ind Gavaskar S.M 1.31 45.83 (20.52 10.02 10.12 3.49 1.67) 6. Saf Kallis J.H 1.30 45.65 (19.92 10.56 10.23 3.43 1.51) 7. Win Richards I.V.A 1.28 44.97 (21.81 9.90 8.65 3.11 1.50) 8. Aus Border A.R 1.28 44.83 (18.38 10.07 11.16 3.79 1.44) 9. Aus Waugh S.R 1.27 44.52 (18.35 10.12 10.90 3.86 1.28) 10. Slk Sangakkara K.C 1.26 43.98 (22.20 10.33 6.73 3.12 1.61)

11. Slk Jayawardene D.P 1.25 43.81 (20.59 10.00 8.15 3.49 1.58) 12. Pak Javed Miandad 1.25 43.62 (19.53 10.42 8.83 3.24 1.61) 13. Aus Hayden M.L 1.24 43.49 (20.77 9.83 8.54 2.93 1.42) 14. Pak Mohammad Yousuf 1.24 43.35 (21.36 10.60 6.81 2.98 1.60) 15. Pak Inzamam-ul-Haq 1.23 43.05 (19.39 9.71 8.91 3.56 1.47) 16. Aus Chappell G.S 1.23 42.91 (20.21 10.54 7.01 3.57 1.58) 17. Saf Pollock R.G 1.18 41.37 (22.20 11.88 2.22 3.42 1.66) 18. Win Chanderpaul S 1.18 41.21 (18.59 9.55 8.56 3.04 1.48) 19. Eng Gooch G.A 1.17 41.02 (18.85 8.45 8.75 3.41 1.56) 20. Saf Smith G.C 1.17 40.78 (20.14 9.46 6.39 3.31 1.49)

Lara continues to stay in no.1 position but his lead over Tendulkar has been considerably reduced (only around 2%). Ponting is at third position at a similar distance from Tendulkar. In fourth and fifth place are Dravid and Gavaskar. Then we get Kallis, who can ever deny the contributions he has made without fuss. Now comes Richards, probably correctly placed in the Top-10. He could have been in the Top-5 with no complaints. Then we have the two great Australian batsmen, Border and Steve Waugh. The incomparable Sangakkara completes the top-10.

Jayawardene follows next and then the fighter-extraodinary, Javed Miandad. I am happy that three top-class Pakistani batsmen, Miandad, Mohd Yousuf and Inzamam occupy 3 of the next 4 places, Hayden occupying the 12th place. Greg Chappell, Greame Pollock and Chanderpaul are correctly placed in the Top-20 which is completed by Graham Gooch and Greame Smith.

Lara's ratio is 1.44, Sangakkara's 1.26 and Greame Smith's 1.17. It can be seen that the top-10 batsmen have a spread of only 12.5% and the spread between 11 and 20 is only 7%. The only way to treat these tables is to look at these players as "First 1/2/5/10/20 ... amongst equals".

To view the complete list, please click here

Given below is the support table. The data is self-explanatory. For the two Consistency index related columns, explanations have been given below.

The best Test batsmen ever: 1960-2009 - Support data

SNo. Cty Batsman        Inns Rating  Runs  Bat  ( Adj) Consistency  %-TS
Pts         Avge          1     2

1. Win Lara B.C 232 50.26 11953 52.15 (0.99) 26.9% 26.7% 19.0% 2. Ind Tendulkar S.R 261 49.24 12773 53.46 (0.98) 25.0% 23.8% 15.5% 3. Aus Ponting R.T 221 48.24 10956 54.26 (0.97) 26.9% 20.8% 14.4% 4. Ind Dravid R 233 45.98 10823 50.54 (0.96) 29.6% 21.9% 15.1% 5. Ind Gavaskar S.M 214 45.83 10122 50.10 (0.98) 20.0% 25.7% 16.7% 6. Saf Kallis J.H 221 45.65 10277 52.79 (0.97) 30.8% 20.4% 15.1% 7. Win Richards I.V.A 182 44.97 8540 49.52 (0.99) 29.2% 25.3% 15.0% 8. Aus Border A.R 265 44.83 11174 50.33 (1.00) 25.8% 24.2% 14.4% 9. Aus Waugh S.R 260 44.52 10927 50.58 (0.99) 21.9% 24.6% 12.8% 10. Slk Sangakkara K.C 132 43.98 6764 51.65 (0.94) 37.5% 18.9% 16.1%

11. Slk Jayawardene D.P 167 43.81 8254 50.02 (0.94) 20.0% 22.8% 15.8% 12. Pak Javed Miandad 189 43.62 8832 52.08 (0.99) 32.0% 20.1% 16.1% 13. Aus Hayden M.L 184 43.49 8626 49.17 (0.97) 42.9% 19.6% 14.2% 14. Pak Mohammad Yousuf 134 43.35 6770 53.00 (0.96) 37.5% 22.4% 16.0% 15. Pak Inzamam-ul-Haq 200 43.05 8830 48.56 (0.98) 16.7% 23.5% 14.7% 16. Aus Chappell G.S 151 42.91 7110 52.70 (0.98) 17.6% 22.5% 15.8% 17. Saf Pollock R.G 41 41.37 2256 59.38 (0.97) 20.0% 24.4% 16.6% 18. Win Chanderpaul S 206 41.21 8576 47.76 (0.97) 33.3% 25.2% 14.8% 19. Eng Gooch G.A 215 41.02 8900 42.27 (0.99) 25.0% 24.2% 15.6% 20. Saf Smith G.C 135 40.78 6343 47.28 (0.94) 26.7% 22.2% 14.9%

No of below-average 5-Test slices Consistency 1 % = --------------------------------- Total number of 5-Test slices

No of single digit dismissals Consistency 2 % = ----------------------------- Total number of innings

To view the complete list, please click here

The best Test batsmen: 1877-1959

SNo. Cty Batsman        Ratio Total     Match  Bat   Runs Cons %-TS  R-Factor
Pts       Perf  Avge   Pts  Idx  Pts

1. Aus Bradman D.G 1.97 69.08 (36.62 19.35 6.91 3.70 2.50) 2. Eng Hobbs J.B 1.36 47.57 (23.93 12.34 5.49 3.99 1.82) 3. Win Sobers G.St.A 1.29 45.03 (20.67 11.48 8.03 3.28 1.58) 4. Eng Hutton L 1.27 44.37 (20.72 11.35 6.93 3.55 1.83) 5. Eng Barrington K.F 1.26 44.27 (20.97 11.71 6.81 3.08 1.70) 6. Win Headley G.A 1.25 43.86 (24.07 12.00 2.18 3.45 2.16) 7. Eng Sutcliffe H 1.25 43.62 (21.88 11.61 4.52 3.88 1.72) 8. Eng Hammond W.R 1.24 43.49 (19.78 11.27 7.31 3.43 1.70) 9. Win EdeC Weekes 1.22 42.69 (21.16 12.21 4.44 3.11 1.77) 10. Win Walcott C.L 1.16 40.67 (20.29 11.75 3.73 3.30 1.61)

11. Aus Harvey R.N 1.16 40.50 (19.22 9.92 6.18 3.56 1.62) 12. Win Kanhai R.B 1.13 39.44 (18.86 9.37 6.23 3.55 1.43) 13. Eng May P.B.H 1.12 39.14 (19.65 9.63 4.48 3.75 1.63) 14. Eng Cowdrey M.C 1.12 39.05 (18.00 8.75 7.65 3.22 1.43) 15. Eng Compton D.C.S 1.10 38.64 (17.88 10.06 5.70 3.43 1.57) 16. Saf Nourse A.D 1.08 37.94 (19.28 10.61 2.92 3.30 1.82) 17. Eng Dexter E.R 1.07 37.32 (18.15 9.45 4.51 3.75 1.46) 18. Aus Simpson R.B 1.06 37.12 (18.25 9.21 4.87 3.28 1.52) 19. Win Worrell F.M.M 1.06 37.10 (18.10 10.14 3.86 3.50 1.49) 20. Aus Morris A.R 1.03 36.10 (18.45 9.68 3.53 2.99 1.45)

Bradman is on top with a Rating value of 69.08 (and ratio of 1.97). He is followed, at a distance, by Hobbs and Sobers. Hutton and Barrington complete the top-5. The next 5 positions are monopolized by the West Indians, Headley, Weekes and Walcott and two great English batsmen, Sutcliffe and Hammond.

If we take Bradman's numbers away, the spread between 2 and 10 is a managable 14%.

I would appreciate if readers digest the tables before making the usual "xyz is better than abc" or "how can pqr be so low (or high)" or "". I will again repeat that intangible and non-measurable factors have no place in this analysis. This analysis has the heart of a cricket lover but the mind of a cricket analyst are behind it.

To view the complete list, please click here

Given below is the support table. The data is self-explanatory.

The best Test batsmen ever: 1877-1959 - Support data

SNo. Cty Batsman        Inns Rating  Runs  Bat  ( Adj) Consistency  %-TS
Pts         Avge          1     2

1. Aus Bradman D.G 80 69.08 6996 96.75 (0.97) 20.0% 17.5% 25.0% 2. Eng Hobbs J.B 102 47.57 5410 61.68 (1.08) 16.7% 12.7% 18.2% 3. Win Sobers G.St.A 160 45.03 8032 57.40 (0.99) 31.6% 19.4% 15.8% 4. Eng Hutton L 138 44.37 6971 56.73 (1.00) 25.0% 17.4% 18.3% 5. Eng Barrington K.F 131 44.27 6806 58.55 (1.00) 37.5% 19.8% 17.0% 6. Win Headley G.A 40 43.86 2190 60.02 (0.99) 25.0% 20.0% 21.6% 7. Eng Sutcliffe H 84 43.62 4555 58.04 (0.96) 18.2% 14.3% 17.2% 8. Eng Hammond W.R 140 43.49 7249 56.35 (0.96) 29.4% 17.1% 17.0% 9. Win EdeC Weekes 81 42.69 4455 61.06 (1.04) 30.0% 24.7% 17.7% 10. Win Walcott C.L 74 40.67 3798 58.75 (1.04) 33.3% 17.6% 16.1%

11. Aus Harvey R.N 137 40.50 6149 49.61 (1.02) 18.8% 21.9% 16.2% 12. Win Kanhai R.B 137 39.44 6227 46.84 (0.99) 25.0% 17.5% 14.3% 13. Eng May P.B.H 106 39.14 4537 48.14 (1.03) 7.7% 25.5% 16.3% 14. Eng Cowdrey M.C 188 39.05 7624 43.74 (0.99) 26.1% 25.0% 14.3% 15. Eng Compton D.C.S 131 38.64 5807 50.30 (1.00) 25.0% 20.6% 15.7% 16. Saf Nourse A.D 62 37.94 2960 53.07 (0.99) 28.6% 21.0% 18.2% 17. Eng Dexter E.R 102 37.32 4502 47.23 (0.99) 16.7% 18.6% 14.6% 18. Aus Simpson R.B 111 37.12 4869 46.04 (0.98) 25.0% 24.3% 15.2% 19. Win Worrell F.M.M 87 37.10 3860 50.71 (1.02) 10.0% 29.9% 14.9% 20. Aus Morris A.R 79 36.10 3533 48.42 (1.04) 33.3% 25.3% 14.5%

No of below-average 5-Test slices Consistency 1 % = --------------------------------- Total number of 5-Test slices

No of single digit dismissals Consistency 2 % = ----------------------------- Total number of innings

To view the complete list, please click here

The significant changes to the tables are summarized below. Most of these should make the tables more acceptable to many readers.

1. All batsmen are treated across years uniformly with the same set of parameters.
2. Consistency amongst batsmen has been recognized well. Note the high consistency figures of Tendulkar, Border, Steve Waugh et al.
3. Performances of lower ranked teams have been recognized more.
4. The quality of bowling faced has a much sharper definition. I may very well do a separate article on this fascinating aspect.
5. The gap between Lara and Tendulkar has narrowed to 2%.
6. Richards has moved up significantly.
7. Steve Waugh and Alan Border have moved up.
8. The three top Pakistani batsmen are reasonably well placed.
9. There are no major changes in the first era other than the revised set of batsmen included in this set.

R-Factor:

The points for all the measures add up to 90. The balance of 10 points has been reserved for R-Factor, expanding to Reader-Factor. The readers have complained that many points have not been taken into account. These points range from ridiculous, silly, absurd, obscure to relevant, sensible, valid and crystal-clear. Of course no analysis can take care of all such factors, especially as these are mostly intangible and non-measurable. Hence I have invented the R-Factor. It is your tool to be used the way you want. Convert the tables to Excel sheets, plug in your own R-Factor values and do what you want. Frame your results, circulate amongst yourselves and in general, have a ball. My only request to all is, whatever you do, do not send anything you have done on this to me.

You may, of course, ignore it completely.

Some of the factors I have been informed as not having considered are outlined below.

- Playing in a good team.
- Playing in a poor team.
- Expectations of a billion people.
- Coming from an island of population of 7500.
- Lack of support.
- Short pitched bowling.
- Lack of helmets, thigh guards, chest support etc.
- Injuries.
- Selectors' foibles.
- Terrorizing bowlers.
- Too much cricket.
- Too little cricket.
et al.

Only comments which add value to the article and derived conclusions will be published. Comments which are repetitive, say the same things ad nauseum, which are with the theme of "abc is the best, not pqr" type, which say, in different forms, "if you take away this measure, xyz will be on top", "abc is better than pqr because his average against ... is higher" type of comments, "there is no change from the earlier table" after a cursory 2-minute perusal etc will not be published. I gave a lot of leeway last time in publishing of comments. This time I will weed out such comments from the beginning. They are coming in the way of serious readers from appreciating the article and the user responses.

I want to emphasize once again, whether your comment is published or not is in your hands. Another important point. Anonymous comments will not be published.

My sincere thanks to Arjun Hemnani's whose quality ideas were the foundation for a number of these changes. My thanks to others like Jack (Jagdeep Singh), Ashik, Shankar et al.

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

  • Yash Rungta on November 30, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Hey Ananth,

    Is there any chance you could post a follow up to this article? Its been 3.5 years and chances are that Sachin has overtaken Lara(despite his recent slump), Dravid has taken over Ponting(now that both have retired, it should remain the same forever) etc. [[ I am not really in a physical situation to do any article which will invite hundreds of comments. The current one is stretching me a lot. After the follow-up article to this, scheduled for 15 Dec, I will take off till Feb 1. And then we will see. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on January 28, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Sorry Ananth,i I appreciate this great work but wish you could re-make the analysis considering the recent superlative efforts of Tendulkar,who looks to break every record in the book.Even Jacques Kallis's position must have significantly changed,even nosing ahead of Brian Lara and Ponting.Please re-analyse the latest performances.I just cant see anybody ,bar Bradman ahead of Sachin.

    The disadavantage for Viv Richards is that he played for avery strong team unlike Lara and played far fewer test matches than Sachin Tendulkar.Adding his packers stats he would have nosed out Kallis earlier rating and the same with Gary Sobers if you add his performances for Rest of the World.After Bradman morally to me Jack Hobbs deserves the secondplace with his briliant-match-wiining performances and consistency on wet pitches,scoring 12 hundreds agaisnt Australia.Viv,still noses out Sachin as he could change the complexion of a match like no other batsman.

  • Harsh Thakor on December 11, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Considering his brilliance on bad wickets,his brilliant average percentage score of team's total score and the fact that he played for one of the weakest taems,and yet won games I wish George Headley could be re-evaluated.Infact a table could be built on the average best performance in a crisis.Another chart could be made of the individual averages agaisnt the best pace and spin bowlers.eg.Viv Richards v.Lillee and Imran,Tendulkar V.Akram,Ambrose and Donald,Lara v Mcgrath and Akram etc.Imagine Viv Richards batting on the docile tracks of today against inferior bolwing and Lara playing for the best ever West Indian teams.A comparison could be made of how these graet batsman changed the complexion of test matches and test series and calendar years at their best.Viv played fast bolwing better than anyone from 1976-1981.

  • Harsh Thakor on December 11, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Overall,I feel any statistical analysis can never be conclusive and figures can be adjusted for convenience of argument.It is interesting that in the selection of the all-time Cricket 11 's by cricinfo's panel of experts Viv Richards,Len Hutton,Dennis Lillee,Malcolm Marshall and Wasim Akram etc.are chosen in preference to of Brian Lara , Sunil Gavaskar,Richard Hadlee ,Imran Khan and Glen Mcgrath,who were rated better by the stats analysis.

    One of the most difficult points to evaluate is the performance in lost causes,in a crisis as well as match-winning centuries.Viv Richards maybe the best match-winner and most destructive batsman but never proved himself as effectively in a crisis like Lara ,or facing the pressure as Sachin.Gavaskar has the best statistics amongst openers agaisnt the best bolwing but yet Hutton was better player on the bad wickets.However even if adding Packers stats Viv would be lower than Lara,Sachin and Ponting.

  • Harsh Thakor on December 11, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Ananth,I hope you can update this work,considering Tendulkar's recent performances.Even if Tendulkar tops I would rate Brian Lara ,a better test match batsman.Lara ,to me has been superior in a crisis,bearing the brunt of one of the weakest batting sides ever .Lara has the flair of accumulating mammoth scores at a breathtaking scoring rate and has a superior strike rate than Sachin.Lara has score 9 200+ scores including a triple and a quadruple,as against Sachin's 6 double's.Lara has also scored 3 of his great doubles against Australia and also has one agaisnt South Africa.Lara also has abetter 4th innings average.Lara's 150+scores have been more frequent than Sachin who has never equaled Lara's match-winning 153 not out in arun chase against Australia on a broken track at Barbados in 1999.Overall Lara's destructive ability could change the complexion of a game more than Tendulkar.Ananth,i wish you could compare the value of Lara and Sachin's 50's and 100's.

  • DK on March 1, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    Can you please update these tables on say a yearly basis for current players. I would imagine Tendulkar might have overtaken Lara now and Ponting dropped further below.

  • Yash Rungta on December 23, 2009, 3:51 GMT

    Hey, any chance of an update on the tables? Tendulkar must be closing in on Lara, Dravid must be closing on Ponting(he has had an average Ashes and a pretty poor West Indies series by his standards) whereas the gap between Tendulkar and Ponting must have widened. Sehwag, Gambhir must be moving up(both should be in top 20 by now) whereas Laxman would have stayed where he is. Dhoni has now qualified by completing 2000 runs, so it would be great to see where he stands. All and all, a good update for Indian fans.

  • Manikandan on August 5, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    I would better have VVS in the 20th position than Smith as VVS played always in pressure conditions coming at no.6 r may b at 7 too.Smith opens the batting and has no pressure.with Kallis to follow him he can appraoch in a relaxed way but in case of VVS he comes in and after him only the tail enders .So VVS can fill the 20th slot.

  • sumanth on July 29, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    Great work Ananth. When can we expect ODI Batting analysis? Can't able to wait for that.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on July 26, 2009, 18:22 GMT

    Dear Ananth, accept my apologies. When I saw you were not happy with comments, I decided to stop it as so many cases I saw at blogs that people are sending their comments even after 45-60 days and blogs owners are accepting these comments. That's why I decided to send it.

    I always rate Tendulkar and Dravid better than Inzamam and Yousuf. Reason is that after assessment, I realize that both are better. I think cricket should be free from biases. I think that Murli and Warne both are great bowlers just like Tendulkar and Lara in batting.

    It is very difficult to decide Ponting is better or Dravid as Dravid can play spin and fast bowling both at a time but Ponting records are very impressive with 38 tons. But I think, he is unable to qualify at both points. He has some problem with spinners. Many thanks to you for accepting my so many comments.

  • Yash Rungta on November 30, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Hey Ananth,

    Is there any chance you could post a follow up to this article? Its been 3.5 years and chances are that Sachin has overtaken Lara(despite his recent slump), Dravid has taken over Ponting(now that both have retired, it should remain the same forever) etc. [[ I am not really in a physical situation to do any article which will invite hundreds of comments. The current one is stretching me a lot. After the follow-up article to this, scheduled for 15 Dec, I will take off till Feb 1. And then we will see. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on January 28, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Sorry Ananth,i I appreciate this great work but wish you could re-make the analysis considering the recent superlative efforts of Tendulkar,who looks to break every record in the book.Even Jacques Kallis's position must have significantly changed,even nosing ahead of Brian Lara and Ponting.Please re-analyse the latest performances.I just cant see anybody ,bar Bradman ahead of Sachin.

    The disadavantage for Viv Richards is that he played for avery strong team unlike Lara and played far fewer test matches than Sachin Tendulkar.Adding his packers stats he would have nosed out Kallis earlier rating and the same with Gary Sobers if you add his performances for Rest of the World.After Bradman morally to me Jack Hobbs deserves the secondplace with his briliant-match-wiining performances and consistency on wet pitches,scoring 12 hundreds agaisnt Australia.Viv,still noses out Sachin as he could change the complexion of a match like no other batsman.

  • Harsh Thakor on December 11, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Considering his brilliance on bad wickets,his brilliant average percentage score of team's total score and the fact that he played for one of the weakest taems,and yet won games I wish George Headley could be re-evaluated.Infact a table could be built on the average best performance in a crisis.Another chart could be made of the individual averages agaisnt the best pace and spin bowlers.eg.Viv Richards v.Lillee and Imran,Tendulkar V.Akram,Ambrose and Donald,Lara v Mcgrath and Akram etc.Imagine Viv Richards batting on the docile tracks of today against inferior bolwing and Lara playing for the best ever West Indian teams.A comparison could be made of how these graet batsman changed the complexion of test matches and test series and calendar years at their best.Viv played fast bolwing better than anyone from 1976-1981.

  • Harsh Thakor on December 11, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Overall,I feel any statistical analysis can never be conclusive and figures can be adjusted for convenience of argument.It is interesting that in the selection of the all-time Cricket 11 's by cricinfo's panel of experts Viv Richards,Len Hutton,Dennis Lillee,Malcolm Marshall and Wasim Akram etc.are chosen in preference to of Brian Lara , Sunil Gavaskar,Richard Hadlee ,Imran Khan and Glen Mcgrath,who were rated better by the stats analysis.

    One of the most difficult points to evaluate is the performance in lost causes,in a crisis as well as match-winning centuries.Viv Richards maybe the best match-winner and most destructive batsman but never proved himself as effectively in a crisis like Lara ,or facing the pressure as Sachin.Gavaskar has the best statistics amongst openers agaisnt the best bolwing but yet Hutton was better player on the bad wickets.However even if adding Packers stats Viv would be lower than Lara,Sachin and Ponting.

  • Harsh Thakor on December 11, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Ananth,I hope you can update this work,considering Tendulkar's recent performances.Even if Tendulkar tops I would rate Brian Lara ,a better test match batsman.Lara ,to me has been superior in a crisis,bearing the brunt of one of the weakest batting sides ever .Lara has the flair of accumulating mammoth scores at a breathtaking scoring rate and has a superior strike rate than Sachin.Lara has score 9 200+ scores including a triple and a quadruple,as against Sachin's 6 double's.Lara has also scored 3 of his great doubles against Australia and also has one agaisnt South Africa.Lara also has abetter 4th innings average.Lara's 150+scores have been more frequent than Sachin who has never equaled Lara's match-winning 153 not out in arun chase against Australia on a broken track at Barbados in 1999.Overall Lara's destructive ability could change the complexion of a game more than Tendulkar.Ananth,i wish you could compare the value of Lara and Sachin's 50's and 100's.

  • DK on March 1, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    Can you please update these tables on say a yearly basis for current players. I would imagine Tendulkar might have overtaken Lara now and Ponting dropped further below.

  • Yash Rungta on December 23, 2009, 3:51 GMT

    Hey, any chance of an update on the tables? Tendulkar must be closing in on Lara, Dravid must be closing on Ponting(he has had an average Ashes and a pretty poor West Indies series by his standards) whereas the gap between Tendulkar and Ponting must have widened. Sehwag, Gambhir must be moving up(both should be in top 20 by now) whereas Laxman would have stayed where he is. Dhoni has now qualified by completing 2000 runs, so it would be great to see where he stands. All and all, a good update for Indian fans.

  • Manikandan on August 5, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    I would better have VVS in the 20th position than Smith as VVS played always in pressure conditions coming at no.6 r may b at 7 too.Smith opens the batting and has no pressure.with Kallis to follow him he can appraoch in a relaxed way but in case of VVS he comes in and after him only the tail enders .So VVS can fill the 20th slot.

  • sumanth on July 29, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    Great work Ananth. When can we expect ODI Batting analysis? Can't able to wait for that.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on July 26, 2009, 18:22 GMT

    Dear Ananth, accept my apologies. When I saw you were not happy with comments, I decided to stop it as so many cases I saw at blogs that people are sending their comments even after 45-60 days and blogs owners are accepting these comments. That's why I decided to send it.

    I always rate Tendulkar and Dravid better than Inzamam and Yousuf. Reason is that after assessment, I realize that both are better. I think cricket should be free from biases. I think that Murli and Warne both are great bowlers just like Tendulkar and Lara in batting.

    It is very difficult to decide Ponting is better or Dravid as Dravid can play spin and fast bowling both at a time but Ponting records are very impressive with 38 tons. But I think, he is unable to qualify at both points. He has some problem with spinners. Many thanks to you for accepting my so many comments.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 26, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    To me Graeme Pollock deserves a higher rating, and ranks amongst the top 10 batsman of his era.He has the highest test average after Sir Don Bradman and most of his centuries have been match-winning efforts.Although Brian Lara has been more destructive Sachin Tendulkar has been more consistenta nd has virtually faced the same pressure.Above all he reached many landmarks at the youngest ever age and it was Don Bradman who stated that no batsman batted more like him.Brian at his best has been better particularly when his taem has been i a crisis but has had greater patchesof inconsistency.To me if Lara wins the contest it can't be without a photo finish and in the ratings the difference has to be closer. To me the batsman who deserves the appraisal you have given is Sir Jack Hobbs,a master against great bowling on wet pitches.However to me overall,the most complete batsman after the Don was Sir Garfied Sobers-who simply had it all.He was a match-winner and a champion in a crisis.

  • Saf on July 26, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    This is not directly connected to the Test statistical analysis. But how accurate is it to attempt to judge the quality of a batsman only Test performances in an era which was equally enchanted by ODIs. India’s infatuation with ODIs led to Tendulkar and others giving almost equal importance to them as Tests (nevermind all the lip service that was paid to test cricket being the ultimate). Also, they definitely contributed to overload, wear and tear injuries etc that crippled the beginning of the 2nd half of his career. My point is that since the early 80s (little after the WC started) to very recently ODIs have been staple diet for Indian batsmen. So ODIs and Tests have been almost joined at the hip and it is difficult to judge a batsman purely on Tests because of the negative impact of ODI overload. The same logic may now be applied to both ODIs and T20s, but as of now T20s still do not monopolize the calendar (and I hope it stays so…BCCI/Modi and co. willing) [[ Saf Sometime in the near (or far) future I would do a combined Test/ODI analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • SANDY on July 24, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    HOW WAS THE PITCH INDEX CALCULATED?THE SUBCONTINENTAL PITCHES ARE EASY TO BAT ON FIRST THREE DAYS...A LITTLE TOUGH IN THE FOURT DAY AND EXTREMELY DIFFICULT ON FIFTH DAY..WHEREAS THE PITCHES OUTSIDE THE SUBCONTINENT ARE EAIER TO BAT AS DAYS GO ON...... [[ Sandy Do not generalize. The Pitch index is calculated based on what happened in the match. Kindly read the article for explanation. Pl avoid capital letters. Ananth: ]]

  • Al on July 24, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    Phew ashish, Let me explain. I sent in several rejoinders as well. 1) The database you use (probably cricinfo) only gives the number of runs (hence avg etc) which a batsman got in matches involving the said players. It is not a head to head. So, if a batsman scored pots of runs against other bowlers they all count. 2) Most of the bowlers you mention in ODIs are strike bowlers. So they bowl much more with the new ball to the openers (Tendulkar). Lara played the bulk of his career at 4/6.also your Lara avg. seems to be wrong. Also Tendulkar had hardly any NO compared to Lara as it is very rare for openers in ODIs to be NO. 3) If you use say Warne, Murali, and Saqlain in the same way…Tendulkar comes out on top. 4) In tests -Again, as has been mentioned several times, if you take upto 2003 (when almost ALL the bowlers you mention had either retired or on the wane) Tendulkar either comes out on top or it is even. 5) From 2003 to retirement Lara played 24 matches against those bowlers with most of his gains (avg 60+) coming in this period (as compared to Tendulkar avg 28, due to endless injuries) 6) If you add say Kumble (for Lara) and Ambrose (for tendulkar) to the bowlers, again tendulkar comes out better 7) Till the last SL series Tendulkar actually had a better record against Murali and co. 8) Lara played many more inns against McGrath (some 3 times more to tend 18) but for the first 18 it is practically same. Then Lara improved his record against McGrath considerably. So, just this one bowler will skew the issue.

    Etc etc etc I could literally add a dozen such points. Kunal is right in therefore calling your selectively stats “contextless”…because it is very easy to pick and chose whichever stats you want. Also, you have to know exactly what info you are actually getting from the programmes/databases. I hope I have made my point clear. Without appropriate context you will have many many players who may look good on such databases. [[ Can we close this discussion please. Positively no more comments will be published. Ashish, please refrain from responding. Else this will go on till Tendulkar retires. Ananth: ]]

  • Ashish Mehta on July 24, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    Ananth, apologies for my post. kindly delete it. i didn't intended to hurt people like kunal. And its not my own theory. It should be one of the criteria for best that the best batsman should have performed well against the best bowlers & best teams not always against the weak opponents. please send my personal aplogy to him, if you don't post this one. These are my very first blog post ever. thank u. [[ Ashish There is nothing wrong in your post. That is the reason why it was accepted. It is indeed gracious of you to make an apology.Do not be put off and do not be worried about the strong response. You are always at liberty to make your response as long as the basic guidelines are followed. You will have no idea about the types of responses I have got, quite a number of which were rude and nasty. Let me also say I did not publish couple of such way-out-of-the-line remarks in response to your comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Kunal on July 23, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    Ananth, eddy 1) eddy: rgd your fascinating observation about tendulkar, ponting and lara at lords; I have a theory. A while back in an interview steve waugh said of tendulkar“if you take out the don he’s next up I reckon”. In the same interview when asked if tendulkar had a weakness he said something I clearly remember: “if he has a weakness it is that he sees the ball too early”! TOO EARLY!! I feel this is what is happening to the very top batters such as ponting and lara too. after pontings 2nd inn dismissal the commentators went through the same in slow motion. the shine and the angle of the seam clearly indicated an outswinger, but the ball after hitting the “slope” came back IN! too late to adjust at 90mph of course. So although the likes of tendulkar and lara also play the ball late, once when you are “into the stroke” there is an “abort point” beyond which it is physiologically impossible to change your stroke. 2) Ananth:pls could you shed some light on whether in the match performance you have used a single figure for opposition bowling, or whether a “head to head” i.e. is the actual number of balls bowled to a batsman by a particular bowler are taken into account. 3) Posters such as “ashish mehta” who post such random, contextless stats to support their own theories should be marked as spam.

  • Ashish Mehta on July 22, 2009, 10:17 GMT

    This is my analysis that even scoring thousands of runs ST far below than BCL in ODI also. Look at the stats when playing against again any one (or even both when opponent is one)good bolwers that are: GM (AUS), AD (SAF), SP (SAF), WA (PAK), WY (PAK)

    Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 0 ST -100 3 3086 139 31.81 3888 79.37 6 15 4 BL -96 11 3576 153 42.07 4621 77.38 9 19 6

    And when their stats are compared on top order (1-3) there lies the bat avg diff of 20 runs per inn.

    ST - 77 1 2644 139 34.78 3260 81.10 6 12 2 BL - 52 7 2437 153 54.15 3006 81.07 8 13 3

    ST has scored 13% of his career's 50 plus score against these bowlers where as BL has scored 25%.

    Look at the avg of 54, isn't it great. This clearly shows the genious of Lara on ST even in ODI also and who deserves to be best batsman in both format of the game.

    A batsman scoring @ 31 in 100 mathces agains best bowlers of that time can't be in the even top 5.!!

    Healthy Comparison. [[ Gentlemen CAN WE PLEASE CLOSE THE COMMENTS ON THIS. I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO READ THESE COMMENTS. PLEASE WAIT FOR A BATTING RELATED POSTING. Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on July 22, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    If we change it to runs per innings instead of average then

    Tendulkar home / away = 48.76 / 49.07 (more balanced) Lara home / away = 56 / 47.4 (highest one at home in all four) Ponting home / away = 51.86 / 45.77 Dravid home / away = 42.65 / 49.46 (highest one at away in all four)

    Lara scored nine times 150 or plus innings at home and 10 times 150 or plus at away. I think main thing is that what is the performance of batsmen at home / away like his performances at home 400 not out, 375, 213, 153 not out and at away 277, 226, 221+130, 182 and 179 are remarkable innings of him. He scored 5 double centuries at away and at home 4 double centuries. If we change the criteria to home / away. He is equally balanced as he scored 17 centuries each at home and at away too. For me top two batsmen are Lara and Tendulkar and then Ponting, Dravid and Inzamam. Tendulkar is technically more correct and Lara is more stylish.

    [[ Gentlemen CAN WE PLEASE CLOSE THE COMMENTS ON THIS. I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO READ THESE COMMENTS. PLEASE WAIT FOR A BATTING RELATED POSTING. Ananth: ]]

  • Ashish Mehta on July 22, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    I wish to make one point for those who wants Dravid or tendulkar to be At No. 1. and in favor of Sir BC Lara. When playing against any one (or even both if same opponent) of the following bowlers the stats of the three: GM (AUS), SW (AUS), AD (SAF), SP (SAF), WA (PAK), WQ (PAK), M.M (SL).

    Inn NO Run HS AVG BF SR 100 50 0 ST - 91 4 3706 177 42.59 6918 53.57 13 14 6 RD - 78 4 2609 180 35.25 7194 36.26 2 16 2 BL - 108 3 5253 277 50.02 9210 57.03 14 22 6

    This clearly shows that performance of RD & ST against good bowling attack. Their is big deviation in their career bat avg against this one. Where as its not the same case with BL.

    & if we remove Spinners i.e. SW and MM ST scores @ 35, RD scores @ 33 but Lara still scores @ 43. So this shows that how well BL has played against good opponents rather than ZIM BD or NZ in tests.

    And the poor strike rate of RD which is around 35 shows that how much he has been dominated by class bowling attack. Thank u.

  • Curly G on July 22, 2009, 8:32 GMT

    In any statistical analysis there is usually some measure of significant difference.

    Would say 2%, 5% or what % could be considered insignificant. [[ Tough to give any % figure. After all this is not pure statistics. It is only an application of numerical methods. In fact pure statistical measures are not used at all. Ananth: ]]

  • Salim on July 21, 2009, 15:09 GMT

    @ Rohington... Sachin has everthing EXCEPT the ability to score huge tons like BCL. BCL 9 double tons (non against the weaker teams). Sachin, Ponting and Dravid have only 4,4 and 5 respectively. Please do not get me wrong BCL was NOT without fault, at times he struggled with footwork and fast bowling aimed at his body (even the great Don had trouble there(bodyline))BUT when he was in the zone he was able and capable of feats beyond the other three mentioned. The facts are in the history book, denial of these facts will show ignorance.

    thank you.

  • love goel on July 21, 2009, 13:45 GMT

    see the home and away average for the 4 batsmen. Lara:Home/Away 59/47, tendulkar 55/54, dravid 47/57,ponting 60/50. No change for Tendulkar , corrobrating the fact he is equally good in each and every condition. Lara and Ponting each lose 10 runs; Dravid on the other hand gains 10 runs. He is unique in this regard, and this factor for me propels him to a much higher level than what his overall stats suggest.

    ps: my top batsmen are Lara,Dravid,tendulkar followed by ponting

  • M.Narayanan on July 21, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    @Salim (and now zeeshan) Massive cop out on your part. Love goel provided a pretty good assessment of batsmen. His basic point obviously was that no one batsman is “perfect”. You blatantly challenged his comment. Saf then provided some solid facts confirming love goels remarkably accurate intuitively arrived judgements. You then make a comment completely ignoring these facts and make some vague generalized statement that Lara had it all. To say some such is pretty much off target. If any batsman, at least in recent times, even approaches such a chimerical concept as “batting perfection” it is Tendulkar …certainly not Lara. Remarkably most modern batsmen favour Tendulkar as top gun. However, the bowlers are mostly mixed. This has more to do with biomechanics than anything else. For eg. Murli has always struggled against all top lefties. One fact you will find which overwhelmingly decides who “favours” whom- and that is Geopolitics. 99% of the anti tendulkar and pro lara comments will come from one particular country which has historically been antagonistic to India. Conversely, a good load of the pro tendulkar comments would come from India. But, most of the purely neutral observers would probably go thus: Lara more artistic and deadly on his day. Tendulkar the overall more complete, consistent, generally better batsman sans any weaknesses.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed on July 21, 2009, 12:06 GMT

    Dear Salim, All are good in one or two aspects but when discussion comes to all aspects, Prince is the complete one.

    Lara is only complete man in history of cricket who defined half centuries, centuries, double hundreds, triple hundreds, quadruples and quintuple in first class and also only one who defined half centuries, centuries, double hundreds, triple hundreds and quadruple in test.

    For master piece inning situation plus stylish batting is necessary, without absence of any aspect, it is not master piece inning.

    Highest no. of records, big knocks, smashing 1559 4s in test, tendency to score highest individual innings, tackling pressure of main strikers, centuries in all corner of world,

    13 centuries against two strongest opponents (Australia and Africa), quality to play spinners and fast bowlers both, stylish batting and aggressive and defensive both qualities and also ability to create master piece innings.

    I think no one can match his status in batting with h

  • Rohington on July 21, 2009, 5:41 GMT

    Salim Among modern batsmen if there is any one of whom it could be said he had it all - it is Sachin Tendulkar.

  • Salim on July 20, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    @ Saf.....by no means was i critising 'love goels' post. I was simply stating my opinion. He had put four batsmen in four separate boxs in regards to their strengths(in his opinion). I thought and continue to think that Lara ticked more of those boxes than any other the others. i.e. cant see Ponting hammering a Warne or Murali or Tendulkar batting scoring 250+ or Dravid hitting a century before lunch or 20+ runs in an over. All might be good at one or two feats, Lara had it all.

    Thank you Salim Mian

  • eddy on July 20, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    Consider these names....Alma, Oram, Agarkar, Horne, Bopara, Prior, Russell, Athey. All test cricketers, some better than others, some with long careers and other's just starting out. What do they have in common? Lets wait a while for that answer.

    I'm now thinking about three more test players. One retired, the other two close to retiring. They share nearly 36000 test runs between them with amazing 114 test match tons. Not 1 has been made at the home of cricket LORDS. Ponting has played 3 mathes at headquaters as did Lara. Tendulkar a match more. 19 innings between them at Lords with Ponting high scoring with 42, Tendulkar with 37 and Lara 54. The three of them average 18, 21 and 21 respectively at Lords. With Ponting not returning to England for fours years and Lara retired and god knows when India are returning it appears that the three modern great players have missed out on making the honours board at Lords. You guessed it, the players first mentioned all managed a ton a Lords. There names will forever up there for all to see, but no Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting!

    regards Eddy

  • Engle on July 20, 2009, 5:39 GMT

    Comment from CI Alltime Aus XI on G.Chappell : " In 1979 he hit SuperTest centuries in Trinidad and Guyana and 431 runs in four internationals at 61.57 against one of the greatest fast bowling attacks ever assembled in Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Wayne Daniel"

    Certain achievements stick in peoples minds, this being one of them. Very commendable indeed and I doubt whether Ponting, Kallis could beat this.

  • Al on July 19, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    @sorcerer Actually your argument has been going on right through from the first blog. Not only the 80s relative to now. But also the 90s. There seems to have been a freak period of some 3 / 4 yrs from 2003-07 where about a dozen batsmen had the best consecutive years of their careers, and arguably the most fertile period in batting ever. Batting was a breeze. In the 90s only the truly great batsmen avg.50+. Now it seems even a merely good batsman can do so.

  • Sorcerer on July 19, 2009, 8:55 GMT

    Flatness of the pitches, carper outfields, immense telling pressure on bowlers because of plethora of cricket (it affects batsmen too but naturally far less), fall in quality of bowlers, presence of rank minnows like zimbabwe, Bangladesh on Test arena, most powerful cricket bat technology, bouncer rules, lbw rules - all these to me indicate that to simply compare a batsman of the 80s with a batsman of this era cannot be objective and HEAVY allowances need to be made to adjust their batting averages accordingly. Viv and Gavaskar's averages of 50 and 52 would have bene easily in 60s had they bene playing in the last 10 years or so rather, given the way the game has chagnged for the batsmen's benefit.

  • Mish on July 17, 2009, 16:17 GMT

    Ananth, Would a better way to calculate consistency be to use a moving average of a batsman's previous 5 to 10 innings and comparing that with their career RpI. My concern is splitting into 5 test slices is a little arbitary; few players finish on a multiple of 5 tests and starting a new slice at test 6 doesnn't accurately reflect the form between test 3 and 7, say.

    Given that the majority of test series are 3 tests, I suggest a 6 innings moving average. This means once a player has played 6 innings, they then have an 'RpI form average' which continues throughout their career. A consistency index can be calculated from the proportion of their career this figure stays within a defined range (the percentage of time it stays above 80% of their career RpI?).

    I calculated this for a few examples - again Cook comes out well - 72% of his form average stays above 80% of his career RpI of 42.4) Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting have figures of 59%, 65% and 64%, which is unsurprising.

  • Saf on July 17, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    @salim with regards to your apparent criticism to "love goel"s comment that Tendulkar can figure out and master unknown conditions better than anyone (you wrote-"Are you suggesting that Sachin's record in the first test in a series is better than the other's?") There is an article out right now on cricinfo itself "First-Test stars and flops"...which proves "love goel" to be absolutely and completely correct in his assessment.

  • Bejaan on July 16, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Ananth Before you dismiss me as yet another Tendulkar fanatic. I would just like to emphasize a point. I have no issues at all with your analysis. You simply cannot be expected to incorporate a myriad factors. And you have (rightly so) taken the start and end point of careers as references. Incorporating any more subjective points (there are already enough, such as weightages) such as injuries, incorrect decisions, dropped catches etc would lead up endless alleys. You have obviously assumed that all subjective factors (injuries, incorrect decisions, what have you) cancel out at the end. Obviously, there is no other way of doing such an analysis. So, if say if on the table the no.50 rank batsman can be justifiably said to be not as good as the no.1, all subjective factors notwithstanding. My point is only (and unfortunately) that in the case of legendary batsmen such as Tendulkar and Lara, these subjective factors are not actually cancelled out. Millions of fans know their careers down to the minutest detail/innings! And they are well aware of why exactly one scored or the other didn’t. What their strengths and weaknesses etc are. This is why inspite of knowing so…it is confounding to see fans actually using such an analysis as basis for some preconceived notion. [[ Bejaan I certainly take your point. I am sure you might know how many times I have mentioned that the two are the greatest of the modern generation and are first amongst equals. One year from now, with more inputs, I might do one more analysis which might reverse their roles. Why split hairs over a decimal point. Without doing any more work, I can say with certainty that if we combine Tests and ODIs, the sequence will be Tendulkar on top and either Richards or Lara some distance away depending on how the numbers fall. That does not make the two West Indian greats any less. The fact that Federer won his 15th Grand Slam, does it lessen the greatness of Sampras or Laver at all. One day when Woods crosses Nicklaus, would it diminish the greatness of the Golden Bear. I wish people appreciate and savour the greatness of such greats without nit-picking. Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on July 15, 2009, 8:35 GMT

    Nice once again.

    My top ten for current players although some players are now former players.

    1. Brian Lara as he is impressive in all aspects 2. Tendulkar technically more correct than Lara 3. Ponting 38 centuries in test with 11,000 runs, we cannot neglect this fact

    4. Dravid, capable to play spin and fast both qualities at a time, Ponting unable to play against Off-Spinner in Asia. 5. Inzamam capable to play spin and fast both type of bowling at a time.

    6. Kallis at no. 6, outstanding records and also unable to score double hundreds. 7. Hayden at no. 7 with 30 centuries in test and also very few innings of big knocks (150runs or plus).

    8. Yusuf, unable to play Murli that is why Inzamam is far better than him. 9. Sangakara, scored 3142 runs with the help of 18 centuries. It means 3142/ 18 = 175 runs per century.

    10. Jayawardene at no. 10, very nice batsman and one of the best in Asia among his contemporaries. Unable to produce same quality to other regions.

  • Mark B. on July 14, 2009, 12:01 GMT

    Thanks Anand for the opp. to put my teams out there! Just a small correction on my all time best 11's List. Team 3 was unbalanced with no Lefty in the top 7 so..., G .Chappell to 4 & G.Pollock up to 3. & I'll bring in A.Flower (K.Sangakara)to team 4 to W/K & bat in the top 7 as the Lefty , ousting J.Blackham. I'd be interested if you think the balance of these teams could be improved on ,either rearranged or with other players?

  • Al on July 14, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    Here’s an idea to reduce the benefit of superior team/bowling impact on a batsman’s individual “match performance” score: The basic idea is the deduce the total amount of “Work” put in by the entire TEAM and then figure out the individual batsman’s contribution to the “Win”. For eg, if the bowlers have put in 70% of the “work” and taken say 20 wickets in quick time with few runs, the batsmen’s workload is reduced due to the bowler efforts. He gets undue credit for this. The factors required for a team win are: By OWN bowlers: Wkts taken, overs required, runs conceded. By batsmen: Runs scored, overs taken, wkts conceded. By OPP bowlers and batsmen: Same as above. So we may obtain a “Constant” (K) using the above factors: Say K1= OWN Bowlers (Wkts taken/overs reqd x runs conceded) x OWN Batsmen (Runs scored/ wkts taken x overs reqd). Similarly K2 for OPP team. So K = K1/K2 The higher this number the better the OWN TEAM effort relative to the OPP TEAM. We then divide the individual batsman’s match performance score by K (as decided strike rate is ignored but team strike rate is indirectly incorporated in “K”), thereby getting his relative contribution to the TEAM win. Such a method would be able to filter pure batting skill and contribution better than simply according points to only batsmen for wins etc. for which his relative contribution to team efforts may in actual fact have been less than another batsman struggling endlessly to save and defend his team against an endless mountain of runs. The above is obviously a very unpolished eg. of what I mean, but I hope it serves the purpose. A similar method would also apply to the Test BOWLER analysis.

  • Rajesh on July 13, 2009, 11:17 GMT

    Ananth, What about a “penalty” system for both batsmen and bowlers. Your system is based purely on awarding points for things done but no deduction for anything. As an eg. Sports such as boxing have point deductions for certain cases. So, if a batsman is hit, given a favourable decision,wrong decision dropped etc all don’t show up …these all should count towards a final analysis of batting ability. The hypothesis is that these balance out for batsmen. But this may not be the case…As with say Miandad not being given LBW at home. i.e. geopolitics plays a large role. Even with the advent of “neutral” umpires, there seem to exist certain umpires with a noticeable bias. The idea behind this is to judge purely the batsman’s skill. This can only be done if all extraneous elements including fortuitous ones and team,(both own team and other team contributions and efforts) are brought to a level playing field. Similarly for upcoming bowler analysis. i.e. only positive points are given. No balls, wides etc should be penalized. These not only give away free runs, but also release pressure. Also a lack of these, which may indicate strict control, would increase pressure also benefitting other bowlers, who would reap the rewards! Perhaps not the bowler who himself created the pressure.A little unfair. Also, I don’t know how practical this is but: a “difficulty” rating for the type of bowler. Clearly express pace bowling is the toughest. The true pacers can only really bowl spells of 5/6 overs and expend max. energy. In these short bursts they have to do the damage : intimidatory and hopefully provide breakthroughs. (Marshalls, Donalds, Akhtars etc) The medium/fast guys have the luxury of bowling not only longer spells but more overs (Mcgraths, Pollys, Kapil Devs etc) Also, with spinners leg spinners probably have the toughest time with control. So , both a penalty system to incorporate weaknesses and a “handicap” system for type would result in a more accurate judgement of pure cricketing abilities…by reducing the effects of team,luck,geopolitics,weaknesses etc etc. [[ Rajesh Your ideas are okay. However pl note that information such as Wides/NoBalls by bowler have been available only for the past 10 years. Some of the points you have mentioned are subjective. One thing I have always worked on. I work purely on the scorecards and I should be able to justify any work I have done. Even on this basis there is so much heartburn, if I start working on negative points, the floodgates will be opened. Also please realize that the multiplicative indices for many of the Match performance calculations range from, say 0.70/ 0.75/ 0.80 to 1.20/1.25/1.30 etc. The below-1.00 indices can be taken as negative weights. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on July 8, 2009, 18:17 GMT

    Ananth,I again congragulate your great work but I disagree with you on not considering the Packer Supertests and classing it with I.P.L. World Series Cricket infact was more competitive than conventional test match cricket when you consider the strength of the bowling and batting.Imagine facing the likes of Lillee,Imran Roberts, Holding and bolwing to Viv and Barry Richards,the Chappell brothers or Barry Richards.Imagine Viv Richards averaged 100 for the World team and 86.2 overall in the first year .In 1978 Greg Chappell amassed 619 runs at 69 apiece against top class West Indian bowling.Even the 1972 Rest of the World V.Australia games should be considered,which would elevate Greg Chapell and Gary Sobers.(Remembr his 254 not out)Even Barry Richards was outstanding in Packer Cricket. Ananth,you could make another divison of ranks.One of the greatest match-winners and the other of the best batsman in a crisis.To me ultimately no statistical calculation can do absolute justice. [[ Harsh Whatever you say, these are unofficial matches and cannot be included in any official records. Let us leave this at that. Ananth: ]]

  • Jahan Zada Buneri on July 8, 2009, 9:51 GMT

    Once more nice article, I think you can publish a book on your work or if already then please let me know about it. I totally agree than since 1960 Lara is the best. I think the real cricket is started after 1970.

    I think you are soon arranging another research for bowlers then we can easily realize from the list that how many bowlers from 1970 to onward qualify in the list. From it, Garner, Holding, Marshall, Robert, Lillee, Hadlee, Imran and so many others can easily qualify in top 100.

  • Ganesh S on July 7, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    Ananth I am a great fan of the mathematical rigour that you bring to your analysis. However in this article, I see a bias towards players who played post 2000. As I see 13 of the 20 top players played in the current decade while none of the top 20 played in the 1960's ( Clive Lloyd at 21 is the first to be in the 60's,and with Boycott the only 2 till 40). Is there a hidden bias in one of the factors or is it due to purely cricketing reasons like pitches, bowling attacks and scoring rates ? Personally speaking while I may add R-Factors, overall there is very little argument that the Top 20 deserve to be there. Do see if there is mathematical factor envolved ?

    Ganesh

    PS : While Federer and Sampras are definitely legends, I feel that Rod Lavers unique record of 2 Grand Slams puts him at the top above all others [[ That is just the way the numbers have come out. All efforts have been taken to remove any clear variations between current and previous generations. Pl note that the annual Grand Slam, while a very unique achievement, is overrated. Three main reasons. 1. The level of competition was nowhere near what is now. I have watched Tennis from the 1960s. The no.17 player in the world wouldhave been an average player. 2. Three of the GSs were on one court, Grass. 3. The 1962 GS was in a depleted field since many top players had turned professional. 1969 was in the open era and the competition was good Federer's 3 GS wins in a year (performed twice), for the above reasons, is as good as the Laver 1962 GS.. Federer's greatness is not just because of the no of GSs, it is the overall achievement in terms of Finals, SF appearances, Win-loss records, Master's wins et al. However Laver was and is right there in the top-3. One day, Cricinfo permitting, I will do an analysis of the Tennis game. Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on July 6, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    First of all , all 4 batsmen I picked have excelled in the situations I mentioned. For if they didnt , they would not be such a great batsmen. I tried to subjectivley differentiate between the players , as statistically the difference is so minimal. For Sachin, what I meant was he is a more complete batsmen than others, and has probably the least number of weaknesses. (like Dravid sometimes can't attack, or Ponting gets bogged down by good spin) He can play equally good in almost all conditions. And yes Lara could bat and bat and bat, that is how you get mammoth scores, that is how you get 375 and 400. But what I meant was even he could not defend like Dravid, or even Chanderpaul for that matter. And for saving whitewashes/test matches you always dont need 300's even a 150 is mostly good enough. And though others dont have enough 200's compared to Lara,they have enough 100's scored as matchwinning innnings. If you were to take 200's as measure , Marvan attapatu will be very good.

  • Salim on July 6, 2009, 14:25 GMT

    @love Goel.... You mentioned 4 excellent batsmen for four very different situations. I could make a very strong argument that Lara has/had played and excelled in all of the scenarios like all of the other's couldnt. Lara could bat and bat and bat (his 400* saved a whitewash + 9 double tons), we all no he could attack (record for most runs in an over and 100 before lunch).His big hundred scoring is second only to Bradman. And your case for Tendulkar judging and reading a beginning of a test series better than most is also debatable. How do you measure/quantify that? Are you suggesting that Sachin's record in the first test in a series is better than the other's?

  • Yash Rungta on July 6, 2009, 13:21 GMT

    I'm really interested by your Match Performance calculations(actually given in the original blog).

    Can you let us know the top 10/50/100 test innings as per your calculations? It'd make an interesting comparison with the Wisden 100(although it was about 7 years back and many good innings have been played after that).

    I'm interested in comparing Lara's 153, 213, 277, 375, 400 with Laxman's 281, Sehwags 309, 319 etc. etc.

    It would also be great if we could search for an innings(somehow like how we use the statsguru) and get a rating for it. That would be fun! :) Although I'm not sure if it is possible. Thanks Ananth for this wonderful Blog!

  • Channa on July 5, 2009, 7:06 GMT

    Point to ponder: If you take out Gambhir because of a very short career:

    How come the Indian batsmen come up so poorly in the “match performance” ratings?

    In the entire HISTORY of Indian batting not a SINGLE batsman comes within 10% or so of the top rung! And Indian batting has always been traditionally regarded as a strength as opposed to bowling (or fielding for that matter). What gives? [[ Channa Could be many reasons including lack of success away (before 2000), batting pitches in India, sharing of batting credit amongst many good batsmen et al. Ananth: ]]

  • Suv on July 4, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    Ananth, Agreed fully. Of course I have a very strong Tendulkar bias. With the exception of a few seasons here and there I have watched him tower over all batsmen since my childhood for almost 2 decades. You as a statistician should know that it has been proven scientifically that human beings simply cannot function purely rationally! However much we may attempt to be neutral the bias will always show up either consciously or subconsciously (including yours). So I guess my reaction to Jeff and Alex comments was actually a classic case of GIGO. I.e. they jumbled all manner of test and first class scores and figures. This garbage went to my brain/computer and so you can guess what came out!

  • Chetan on July 4, 2009, 3:54 GMT

    1) I feel this “outlier” thing is quite exaggerated and not necessarily an indicator of some freak ability but more a cashing in on freak circumstances. Except for Lara the other top 5 or more don’t have triples. But several other batsmen lower down do. Continuous, sustained and uninterrupted brilliance in varied circumstances is much more difficult to achieve then cashing in when the goings good.

    2) I feel Ananth is right in that after Bradman it has got to be Tendulkar/Lara. A slight tweaking of several parameters and weightages here and there will change the picture, but these two stand alone. I feel in the “R” factor Tendulkar should be given some leeway for several career threatening injuries compared to a relatively injury free career for Lara. So, effectively this allowed Lara the luxury of playing with the same style right up to the end. Tendulkar has had to modify his batting around his injuries- Not an easy thing to do at all for a mature sportsman. Also, for the people scoffing at the “billion people” pressure…this may be “intangible” but it is very, very “real”. A simple eg. Would be Murray vs. Roddick at Wimbledon. In “normal” circumstances the result may well have been different. And this is just ONE match we are talking about! A double fault may not mean too much in tennis, but a single edge can be the difference between life and death in batting. FINALLY, in addition to the “R” factor…the “C” factor. i.e. (sheer CLASS!). Richards may be awarded say 5 points for this as against 8 for Tendulkar and Lara. The only thing in batting that can match up to Lara piercing the covers with a flourish, a delicate late cut, or a lofted on drive is a Tendulkar back foot straight drive, a flick from off stump to midwicket or a checked on drive. With all batsmen the scoreboard will mechanically record a “4” but not the gasps of the audience. In this respect Tendulkar and Lara stand apart and alone. [[ Chetan Many thanks for your well-made points. Take the Murray-Roddick match. The expectations might have been great but the truly great players soak up that and produce their best bacause_of/despite such support. Murray is still not there yet. One day, once the monkey, of a GS title, that too possibly Wimbledon, is off his shoulders, he would be there. Federer has been there many times and he can do that with grace and poise. And let me say, the way Tendulkar has soaked up all the pressures/expectations/loads_on_shoulder/fear_of_failure/demi_god_status et al and handled himself gracefully and with poise is nothing short of miraculous. They are two of a kind. Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on July 3, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    phew, so much debate! I have always felt that beyond a certain level , statistics can't tell the whole story. They are good to the point where they generate a so called 'class' of batsmen but are not that useful to rank batsmen on decimal points. Anyway for the top 4 batsmen , I have always felt each one of them was best then others in their own way. If you needed somebody to win matches from hopeless situation or to score mammoth scores you pick Lara. If you wanted somebody to defend and defend till the bowlers drop dead , you would pick Dravid. If you have a good opening stand,and want to attack , you will send Ponting in. And if it is beginning of a test series, and you don't know how the pitches are going to be, whether they are going to spin or be pacy, whether you will need to attack or defend , you will certainly send in Tendulkar. Even these great batsmen can't replace each other completely on every benchmark [[ Goel I could not have put it better. I will accept your selection of names as long as it is limited to the modern players. Otherwise there could be changes. I myself know that numbers would only tell part of the story. The key to understanding such analysis is not to let that upset your basic personal, possibly subjective heart-driven preferences. If one does not like the conclusions, why bother so much. You know who is the best as far you are concerned. Can anyone else change that. Irrespective of what happens on Sunday or afterwards, in my mind Federer is the greatest Tennis player. If Amritraj says it is Laver, I might contest that once or twice but would not go on for 2 months because IN MY OWN MIND, I am certain. Thanks once again. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 3, 2009, 13:06 GMT

    Suv - Ananth has already explained my point to you. As regards my comment (to Jeff) of the net sum of SRT's ODI+T20+Test scores being close to Hutton's net first class total, I only meant that a healthy dedicated superstar will get equal opportunity to play in any era, as long as the game remains equally popular and lucrative; just the details may vary. SRT has had unfortunate injuries and Hutton, too, had to deal with a shortned arm and WW2. Great players overcome such odds over time. So, in this method, perhaps one should consider longevity in terms of the no. of years played as well.

    To me, this method produced sensible results modulo some surprises (such as Barrington ahead of Kanhai, and Gavaskar ahead of Richards & Chappell). Look forward to the ODI list!

  • Suv on July 3, 2009, 7:58 GMT

    @ Alex In my opinion your line of reasoning is wrong. Jeff compares Hutton’s first class record with Tendulkars, and you compare some string of Tendulkar’s test scores with Lara’s first class score. Both Hutton’s and Laras may have been epic feats but First class/club cricket is a wholly different ball game from international cricket. If you have any doubt whatsoever, pls check Graeme Hick’s first class and international careers records. [[ Suv Amazing that when you want to desperately prove something your own sense of correctness disappears. I have repeated below Alex's statements. "" SRT did not have gargantuan innings like 375 and 400*. On song, Lara churned out real outlier performances. However, SRT's sequence of 241*, 60*, 194* in 3 consecutive innings (all away) in the year 2004 is eye popping too. "" Are 375 and 400 First Class scores. And he was referring to Lara's first class record only to emphasize that Tendulkar scored 495 runs in three undefeated innings, a world record, which challenged the 501 in terms of runs scored in an undefeated manner. Even when someone pushes Tendulkar to the pinnacle, a contrived grievance need not be found. Ananth: ]]

  • Neil on July 3, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    Phew Ananth, didnt mean to rile you up!! :) Of course ,you are right. But to a good extent i am too..because we are comparing batsmen "relatively"...in effect relative to each other on your list. Not to some absolute standard. [[ Neil No problems at all. I am sure you are aware how the ICC Ratings or the erstwhile Deloittes Ratings worked. These rated players on a continual basis. In other words you could look at Tendulkar's rating as at 1 January 2003. he might very well have been the best. He might have dropped on 1 Jan 2004 but subsequently gone back to the top. I have not done that. Every analysis I do is with my Database as on date of analysis (one of the reasons I could not very well do your request for the 1.1.2003 analysis, one day I might very well be able to do that). So these are different methodologies. Let me assure you, Federer is way ahead of other Tennis players as far as I am concerned. However I consider Lara and Tendulkar (or Tendulkar and Lara) as the two greatest batsmen who ever played, after Bradman and I do not think that the single point which separates them is that significant. I suggest that you also take that view. Ananth: ]]

  • Neil on July 3, 2009, 6:06 GMT

    Ananth, Then let me see if I can put this concisely without a load of stats: 1)Lets assume that for entire first 12 yrs of their careers Sampras leads Agassi with a head to head of say 10:6 (16 matches) 2)Then at the ripe old age of 32, Sampras starts fading (for whatever reasons). They then play 16 matches again, but now in a time period of ONLY 4yrs. And this time the head to head reverses to 6:10. 3)So, you have a final head to head of 16:16.Does that make them equally good players?

    When having the usual “who’s the greatest” debates someone could simply point out this stat as some sort of conclusive proof that Agassi was as good a player as Sampras. Would this be true? As per your analysis it would. [[ Neil Load of ********. One is a team game. Partnerships, opposing bowling quality, pitch conditions, team results, support received (or lack of), four innings, every run a partnership effort, nothing without a batsman at the other end, rule changes, covered/uncovered pitches, helmets, home/away et al. The other is an individual game. What matters finally is how many Grand Slams the player has won (and to a lesser extent, has he won on all surfaces). Not what was the player strength, what racket he used, who he defeated, how many years he took, did he win in 3 sets or 5 sets, how many aces he served et al. The only time one or two other factors would come into play is if the two players have equal number of Grand Slams. As of now, probably for another two days, Federer will be bracketed with Sampras. However Federer would be considered ahead of Sampras, even now, because he has won on all surfaces, that is all. Hopefully on Monday there will be no questions. How can you compare the totally different situations. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on July 3, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    Kartik - Richards faded away in tests after 1982 but over a good 7 year span of 1976-1982, he was considered the world's best test batsman by a wide margin. He kept doing well till 1988.

    I believe the major insecurity of SRT fans about Lara is due to the following facts: (i) SRT did not perform as well against McGrath and Murali, especially after year 2001, and (ii) SRT did not have gargantuan innings like 375 and 400*. On song, Lara churned out real outlier performances. However, SRT's sequence of 241*, 60*, 194* in 3 consecutive innings (all away) in the year 2004 is eye popping too, and actually challenges Lara's first class record of 501*. Ananth - pls enlighten us on whether it is the most number of runs ever scored by a batsman in tests without getting out. This query is not exactly related to the topic but might bring out interesting facts. Thanks. [[ Yes, Tendulkar holds the record although I am not able to do the program work immediately and will confirm this later. Steven Lynch on 25/11/2008 has confirmed this in a query on ODI sequences (incidentally held by Md Yousuf with 405). Ananth: ]]

  • Suv on July 3, 2009, 5:45 GMT

    This leads to my other main point viz. “match performance” is only truly accurate when comparing OWN team batsmen at approximately comparative stages of their careers: And a great surprise here should be to the Dravid/sehwag fans who have always touted their apparent matchwinning abilities over Tendulkar.

    So, Gavaskar and Tendulkar come out as the best “match performers” among Indian batsmen (with the exception of Gambhir (surely just for his recent year or so)…. Although, of course in Gavaskar’s case again the dynamics change since he belonged to a previous era/team.

    Another point is that in the modern Indian team Tendulkar, Dravid, Gambhir, Sehwag all fair well on the match performance front…so it is difficult for one to shine over the other “relatively”.

  • Suv on July 3, 2009, 5:28 GMT

    @ramesh kumar, jeff Ramesh kumars point just goes to show further how much of an impact own team bowling makes to “match performance”. Couple this with an avg. batting lineup (so a great batsman will shine relatively) and you have a double whammy. The guys with good “match performances” have all had better bowling lineups relatively speaking. with 21+: Lara, Ponting, Richards, Sangakarra, Hussey, Pietersen, Gambhir (modern Indian team- whereas all the other Indian batsmen fare lower. Probably because there careers overlapped with a period when Indian batting was considered strong and the bowling always relatively poor to world standards. So, apparently Gambhir is a clearly better “match performer” than Tendulkar/Gavaskar/Dravid etc). The diff in match performance between Lara and Tendulkar is equivalent to the diff between Tendulkar and Flower/Richardson(2)/Trescothick/Straus/Damien Martin etc. which effectively means that Lara is that much better a “match performer” over Tendulkar than Tendulkar is over these other worthies. One doesn’t quite know whether to laugh or simply swallow this with a pinch of salt.

    So, if as Jeff suggests, the greater weight we give to “match performance” we are going to go more and more off reality with the current methodology. As it is on this factor Tendulkar comes at 22(?!). Border and Waugh not in the top 50. Enough to have people scratching their heads for a long time.

    Ramesh kumars point is valid because it partly negates the own team bowling effect. However only in the pitch quality regards. As regards match wins, match winning innings and other criteria however- obviously it is the bowlers that set it up. [[ Suv You can be rest assured that the Career figures, for me, are a very important part of any analysis and I will never attempt to rate players excluding this. I understand that the Match performance analysis favours the players in weaker teams, but this can easily be more than compensated by the team success and better career figures. Re Ramesh's point, pl see my reply. It is already being incorporated in the Bowler analysis. Thank you for making your point in an acceptable manner. Makes my task easier. Ananth: ]]

  • Ramesh Kumar on July 3, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    Thanks Ananth for responding on the point related to bowling strenghth equation into analysis. The 2nd list is good and reflects the truth as much as any good statistics can reflect. Post 2011 world cup could be the next time for this analysis as I feel many players like Sachin, Ponting, Kallis, Dravid would retire

    One suggestion though on your post related to your proposed bowlers' analysis. Can u open a new thread so that we can talk about that as this one is for batsmen analysis?

    On Sachin/Lara fans' fight...there is a vast majority out there including me who will enjoy both of them equally though one(including me) may have a bit of bias on one over the other. We don't need statistics to prove our affection for players like Sachin, Lara, Richards etc. [[ Ramesh I am coming out with an ODI article within a few days and am going to open up a thread there for the readers to post some suggestions on the Bowler Analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on July 3, 2009, 4:40 GMT

    Ananth,

    Someday, this all has to culminate into the mother of all analyses :

    The Most Valuable Player (Tests and ODIs separately).

    In Tests, the top 2 might be Bradman and Sobers. But who is #3? Is Lara more valuable, or Botham? Gilchrist or Imran? Warne or Tendulkar?

    The same goes for ODIs.

    Since you have all the separate components done in various analyses (all-rounders, batsmen, captaincy, etc.), that would be a fine dissertation to cap your efforts over these articles.

  • Kartik on July 3, 2009, 4:08 GMT

    Ananth,

    The final list of rejected factors is quite funny. Some of those factors even cancel each other out.

    If the 'expectations of a billion people' are a burden, then note that an Indian cricketer makes obscenely more money than a New Zealand or West Indies cricketer of similar statistical accomplishment.

    Who has earned more :

    Dravid or Chanderpaul? Kapil or Hadlee? Ganguly or Fleming? Harbhajan or Vettori? Dhoni or Ramdin?

    Don't anyone go saying that this 'billion people' factor is a liability. [[ These were deliberately made to contradict one another just to prove that expectations of a billion (the entire Indian population ???) people is as difficult to handle as handling the expectations of 70000 Antiguans. Similarly it would have been as easy or difficult to play in the 1989 West Indian team as in the 1989 Sri Lankan team. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on July 3, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    I dare say that Dravid's slump of the last 3 years has cost him a rank of #2 or even possibly #1.

    Remember that he scored his first 9000 runs at an average of 59. Had the analysis been run then, he might just be at the top.

    I also think Tendulkar will slip to #3 by the time he retires. Ponting is doing better than Tendulkar at present. [[ Kartik I contest your last point on Tendulkar. If Tendulkar rations the ODI appearances (although the current situation in West Indies indicates how important he is to the ODI side) and concentrates on Tests, I can clearly see a rest of the career at an average of 60+, in say 20 tests, restoring him to the 56+ career average mark which, coupled with the -2000+ runs he would score would comfortably put him past Lara in my table. Not that getting to no.1 position in my table is anything important, I just made the point. I can also see Ponting struggling in an Australian team which is going to huff and puff a bit in the months to come. I feel the Match performances of Dravid would have put him down a little bit. He might very well have gone to the top-3. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on July 3, 2009, 3:56 GMT

    The list looks subjectively correct. For all of those complaining about Richards being too low, remember the quiet little secret about Richards : He was not quite as extraordinary in Tests as in ODIs.

    In Tests, Richards' career average was lower than his 4 main contemporaries : Chappell, Gavaskar, Border, and Miandad. Richards lagged all of them.

    Richards had a very high strike rate, but that measure is not included, and cannot be, as early data is not available. A high strike rate is not as valuable in Tests as ODIs, as many Test situations do call for Dravid/Chanderpaul style stonewalling on the 5th day.

    India had the #2 and #4 in their team at the same time, which is something no other team has managed. Yet, India won fewer matches than they should have, over the Tendulkar/Dravid era. Weak bowling and poor fielding are the culprits of that outcome.

  • Ananth on July 2, 2009, 16:48 GMT

    I have received quite a few comments with a single theme. The scenario runs like this. Provide some statistic (I don't doubt the correctness of the same) or other and conclude that Tendulkar is/was better than Lara. the most prevalent theme is the poor year Tendulkar had in 2003. How I can include that year!!!. Somehow exclude that year by cutting off on 1.1.2003 (and restarting on 1.1.2004 ???) or leaving out it altogether and bingo, we have our desired result. I am sorry I am not falling for it. Surely Tendulkar does not need such a ruse to prove that he is amongst the greatest of all time. I have told time and again that all players go through bad patches, injuries, even get dropped and if we exclude one player surely we have to do that for all. I have given below the extracts from my article on Test Tables. Bradman D.G 1933 396 @ 56.57 (by his standards) Hobbs J.B 1930 301 @ 33.44 Richards I.V.A 1977 257 @ 28.56 Richards I.V.A 1990 141 @ 28.20 Tendulkar S.R 2003 153 @ 17.00 Tendulkar S.R 2006 267 @ 24.27 Lara B.C 1996 226 @ 25.11 Lara B.C 2000 497 @ 29.24 Surely everyone goes through such periods. That is the beauty of the game, to be appreciated and the recovery savoured, not a contrived demand for excluding or ignoring a bad patch. It speaks of Tendulkar's greatness that he has come out of that period with wonderful vigour. Enjoy his twilight period in a positive manner. I suggest his supporters are being unfair to him by demanding such shortcuts. He does not need this. Kindly do not send such comments. These will not be published.

  • Ananth on July 2, 2009, 12:41 GMT

    Harsh (Alex), I owe Harsh an apology. He had raised a few points and since I was in a hurry to release the comments for publishing, I overlooked those. 1.Packer series cannot be taken for consideration. ICC, ineffective and unimpressive they might be, are still the arbiters of official tests and they have not included the same. I myself feel that Packer matches cannot be included. Suddenly a few players cannot be landed with additional runs and wickets. It is completely against the spirit of the game. Tomorrow some one might say, let us include IPL results into official T20 records and ICC might say in view of the BCCI financial clout and so on. 2. The Batting tables are comparable since the same methodology has been used. I would however advocate that no conclusions be drawn since the playing eras are totally different. 3. In Bowling Analysis I am seriously thinking of using different methodologies and basis for different eras in view of the vast divergence in key values. Then comparison will be totally meaningless.

  • Alex on July 2, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    Harsh Thakor - I plugged in the Packer series numbers for Viv Richards and Greg Chappell. If my calculations are correct, the result is as follows: (i) Viv pips Dravid to become #4 with a score of 47.1, and (ii) Greg Chappell pips Sangakkara to become #10 with a score of 44.1. Greg Chappell probably still suffers at #10 behind Border but he had a shorter career and might not have been as gritty as Border, who withstood a great deal throughout the 1980's.

    With this correction, if and when Ananth does the combined Test+ODI analysis, Viv Richards might just pip Tendulkar as the No. 1 in the post 1960 era with others following at some distance if MoM awards are given extra points.

    All of the above seem reasonable conclusions, I think.

  • Ramesh Kumar on July 2, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    Ananth,

    On the Bowlers, I suggest that you take post 1980 debut as seperate block. After this year, one day cricket has dramatically increased and it put a lot of strain on the bowlers and also to some extent some of the bowlers have bcome defensive. They were forced to learn new skills.So istead of 1976 we can go with 1980.

    You did not respond to my earlier observation on the use of taking own team's batting/bowling strenghths for calculating Match performance. Esp for Batsmen in test matches, I feel that their own bowling strength makes their innings a match winning innings and not just in isolation. But on bowling charts, I am not sure whether we should use the same logic [[ Ramesh I apologize if I missed responding although yourpoint made a lot of sense and I took note of it. Although it is too late for the Batsmen analysis, I have introduced the "Own team strength" as a factor in Bowling analysis. This goes towards partly equalizing the performances of bowlers such as Warne/Holding/Marshall/Roberts against Murali/Hadlee et al. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • James on July 2, 2009, 4:53 GMT

    I think your suggestion for eras to base the bowling study on seem reasonable Ananth. There might be some issues in the pre WW2 group, since there is a big difference between averages in the 20's and 30's and those in the late 1880s. But to slice that group in 2 would make the sample size smaller. The only relevant factor I thought of was pitches being uncovered, but I think different countries had different policies on that over time. From memory, England was the last nation to cover their pitches in the late 70s.

    And for longevity, I agree with you it is important to retain your performance over time and it should be rewarded in this analysis. I don't like when posters project/guess what could have happened if player X had played 50 years later. That is to say, we should only analyse what has actually happened, as you have done quite well. Anything else is conjecture and hot air.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 2, 2009, 4:42 GMT

    In the older era,I think Gary Sobers should have been ranked higher as he dominated the greatest bowling,and was a champion in a crisis,on bad wickets. Walter Hammond deserves to be rated higher as he dominated bowling in the manner of Viv Richards,averaging over 58 and scoring over 7000 runs. Greg Chappell,I feel should be rated far closer to Gavaskar and Dravid as he batted like a champion against the West Indian fast bowlers and other strong attacks. Ananth,I wish you could make a list taking the World Series Cricket performances into account which would do true justice to Viv Richards and Greg Chappell.In that era the 2 players batted like champions. I also wanted to verify with you Ananth that when you seperated the 2 lists did you mean it was wrong to compare the performances of batsman in one era to that of the other?For eg Comparing David Gower to Rohan Kanhai or Hobbs to Tendulkar?Would it be correct to combine the 2 lists and rate the players?

  • Harsh Thakor on July 1, 2009, 17:28 GMT

    Your list could have made a correction on Walter Hammond who should be ranked amongst the top 8 batsman of all time,scoring almost 8000 runs at an average of 58+ and dominating bowling like Viv Richards.Greg Chappell should have come far closer to Gavaskar considering he was so prolific against the West Indies at home and away.Len Huttton,considering his mastery on bad wickets should have been rated on par with Gavaskar and I still consider Viv Richards ahead of Ricky Ponting,Gavaskar and Dravid.No batsman has dominated fast bolwing in the history of the game or changed the complexion of a game to the extent of Viv. Kanhai had more batting prowess than any batsman ever and could master the worst pitches and greatest bowlers. To me it is still Sobers who is the greatest challenger to Sachin and Lara for the second placeGary Sobers should have been rated above Jacques Kalis as he played better bowling,on more difficult pitches and dominated bowling to a considerably greater extent.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 1, 2009, 17:13 GMT

    A great effort by you Anantha and accept my congragulations.Correctly Viv Richards has been elevated from 20 to 7 and if his Packer career figures were added would have perhaps made the top 5.Correctly Tendulkar has been elevated very close to Lara and much closer than the 5 point deficit of the last list.It was a hair-breadth tussle throughout their career and perhaps Lara won the contest in a photo finish because he was championedthe cause of one of the weakest teams and a master in a crisis ,with a penchant for making mammoth scores.Javed Miandad has also been elevated ahead of Inzamam Ul Haq and thus rated the best ever Pakistani basman of all time,which is a significant correction from the last list.However to me wrongly George Headley has been relegated below his last rating and Rohan Kanhai has been rated below Geoff Boycott and Clive Lloyd which is to me incorrect.Rating Gary Sobers below Dravid and Gavaskar is wrong as Sobers could dominate bowling to a far greater extent.

  • Alex on July 1, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    Jeff --- you can only compare players from the same era (15-20 year period). I also believe you and J Holmes are extrapolating (with Hutton, Hammond, Pollock, and Barry Richards), and that has its pitfalls. Warren Buffet says that he invests only in companies with a long-standing track record as there are some things that only time can test. Also, who decides if a batsman is great? According to Sobers, even Tony Greig cannot possibly decide that as Greig himself was not a great player. Sobers also refused to accept Pollock as a great batsman on the grounds that Pollock did not play enough test cricket.

    As for the comparison between Hutton and SRT, add SRT's ODI and T20 runs, and both are on the same ground. A more valid objection is how come Barrington is rated so close to Hutton?

    Anantha has devised a nice method. I probably would give equal weightage to the R-factor and runs scored to account for match situation, quality of bowling etc.

  • Shiraz on July 1, 2009, 11:14 GMT

    Ananth, Neil has me in some serious suspense. Would Tendulkar come out on top as of 2003? I always maintained that injuries did him in more than bowlers,or the competiton. [[ Suppose I closed everything as at 1.1.1993 and it came out that Tendulkar was ahead of Lara, what does it prove. He still has to be evaluated on his complete career, I agree part of it is yet to come. Then someone else could give me a date and ask me to close at that date to prove that Ponting was the best or another date to prove that Richards was the best. Where does it end. Why is so much fuss made on the lean period of Tendulkar, through injury or loss of form when everyone goes through the same. Why cannot the Indian supporters ask me to stop on 15.12.2007 when Dravid had his highest ever average of 58.76 and he probably was the best batsmen at that time. I strongly suggest that everyone stops this thread of reasoning. Ananth: ]]

  • Kalverts on July 1, 2009, 10:55 GMT

    @Jonathan. I agree. Performance over time is a clearer indicator of class. A tennis player who manages 2 slams for 8 yrs is better than one who does so for 4 yrs, since he has taken on a greater and more varied competition over a longer time(Note I’m not even talking about the total no. of slams/runs here). However, as you mention if the NUMBER of tests(slams in my eg) per year ITSELF increase then things change even further.

    What has happened in recent years is that the no. of test themselves(equiv. to slams)per year has increased. So, if a player at his peak wins 10 out of say 20 slams in a SINGLE year(equivalent to the increased no. of tests played nowadays)..and then simply retires he then comes on par in the “Longevity” factor with one who wins 2 out of 4 slams for FIVE years. Clearly, the time element , the most crucial element of longevity is removed if taking into account only total slams/runs.

    VERY good point and I’m sure not fully understood or appreciated by most ppl.

  • J Holmes on July 1, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    [quote]And god only knows where Graeme Pollock would have been if he played a full career[/quote]

    Best batsman post 1960 ? B.A.Richards by a country mile

  • Jeff on July 1, 2009, 8:24 GMT

    CONT.

    If Hutton had been able to play 150 tests during the ~20 years he was playing, he would have scored 13,000 runs - I am 100% certain of that.

    Now, there's a seperate argument to be had about the relative value of a run in Hutton's time vs nowadays (pitch quality, bowling quality, equipment etc etc) and that's a valid (but totally different) argument.

    But to say that Tendulkar (or Lara or whoever) is a better batsman than Hutton (or Hobbs or whoever) because they had more opportunity to play is something that I can't agree with.

    Let's turn it around and look at 1st class batting (not just tests.)

    Tendulkar has scored 21,662 runs in 261 matches (@ 58.70)

    Hutton scored 40,140 in 513 (@55.51)

    Hutton played for 21 years, Tendulkar has played for 21 years to date.

    Do you think that Hutton is a greater 1st class player than Tendulkar simply because he was lucky enough to play in era and country where so many 1st class matches were played? [[ Jeff I think this longevity argument has gone on long enough. You have made your point and it has been responded to many times. Let us close this. Next someone will say that if Bradman had played in 156 tests he would have scored over 20000 runs. Over 134 years many factors have changed including the number of tests played. It might also happen that over the next 10 years fewer and fewer tests are played. Averages might sky-rocket or take a dive. Scoring rates might increase or not and we might have 4-day tests of 90 overs each. We, including the players, spectators, enthusiasts, writers and analysts must move on understanding the changes and accepting these. Ananth: ]]

  • greyblazer on July 1, 2009, 8:11 GMT

    A very good analysis. Factors like the following really impressed me

    "I had taken into account the relative team strengths in the Result parameter. Now I have extended this to the Home/Away parameter also. It means that instead of giving the benefit to the Away team automatically, now I take into account the relative team strengths. In other words, if Australia or India tour Bangladesh they will not automatically get the Away bonus. For Bangladesh touring, say, Sri Lanka, the Away bonus will be suitably increased"

    It shows that an in depth analysis was done. So I can only say well done and keep it up sir!

  • Jeff on July 1, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    @Suv

    As I said in a previous message, I don't think Ananth "Match Performance" rating is perfect, however the premise of it is exactly that which I personally believe should be used to objectively judge the quality of a player.

    @Suv & James.

    I obviously didn't make myself clear enough on the matter of longevity.

    My hypothesis is that batsmen (certainly those that we would describe as "great") don't decline in ability over time.

    If you average ~50 after 50 tests, I am totally convinced that you will also average ~50 aftr 100 tests and even 150 tests.

    The only thing preventing you from doing that is lack of opportunity, be it thru injury or lack of available test matches.

    Or to put it another way "form is temporary but class is permanent".

    The ONLY reason that Tendulkar has scored twice as many runs as Len Hutton did is because he has been lucky enough to have the opportunity to play twice as many matches.

    TBC

  • Yash Rungta on July 1, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    This follow-up in my opinion has scaled limits and just shown how stats can be used to show the real ranking of a batsmen. People might say that Richards was even better than Tendulkar and Lara(I don't disagree that) but no stats can show that he batted without a helmet to quality fast bowlers like lillee, thomson, got hit on the head spilling blood on the pitch and then whacked a six over mid-wicket the very next ball.

    Got 1 suggestion if possible. The match perforamce should somehow adjusted to take into account the quality of fielding of the opposition and not just bowling. But maybe that is adjusted when you allot bonus for win against a quality opposition?

    As for career achievements, you might allot about 5 points(from 45 or 50 whatever it is now) to milestones like 100s, 150s, 200s, 300s. Players with a good conversion ratio (which should include players like Sehwag convert 100s into 150s,200s,300s very well) should be awarded and players like Slater(9 90s) should be penalised.

  • Alex on July 1, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    I suggest 1945-1973 and 1974-2009. The reason being that the fast bowling era really started in 1974 with Thommo pairing with Lillee after Lillee's return from injury, and Andy Roberts hitting his prime (so much for Gavaskar facing the "fearsome" WI attack in 1970-71). Hadlee, Imran, Holding began to surface in the year 1974.

    If you plan to include the quality of batting faced by these bowlers, I suggest that you do not focus solely on the career performances of these batsmen but consider their performances over a 2-year span centered around a particular match ... bowling to Viv Richards in 1988 was much easier than in 1979.

    On a related point, I wonder if it is possible to scientifically classify a pitch on a difficulty scale, as is done in mountain climbing by assigning climbing grades to a terrain. Environment factors would also figure in.

  • Neil on July 1, 2009, 6:17 GMT

    Ananth, 1) I feel Tendulkar would gain in match performance, avg, consistency, team runs...i.e. all of your parameters except for total runs, if we take a retirement of 01/01/2003. The general overall stats bear me out…so I was wondering if these individual parameters would reflect the same. So, It would give a good idea whether the subsequent drop off in performance is offset only by the longevity (runs scored) parameter. Again, what I would like to test as mentioned initially is whether this format awards a shorter, more “peak” career or a longer steadier one.

    2) Also, since being injury free for the last couple of years or so Tendulkar seems to have found his “mojo” again. So running this analysis on your computer again after 2/3 years will almost certainly result in different rankings. If he stays fit, the runs are sure to flow again, as surely as day follows night. [[ Neil My simple suggestion to you, then, is to wait. Ananth: ]]

  • Neil on July 1, 2009, 4:20 GMT

    Ananth, I’m afraid it is beyond my limited math/statistical abilities to calculate Tendulkars points as of 01/01/2003. Especially the match performance points. Could you pls provide the same, if it is not asking for too much? You mention more “valuable” comments and yet one can see comments such as Lara is the best because of things such as high “backlift” and “whatever the system”…Obviously these are not very intelligent comments because of a certain lack of understanding of both batting and the system you use itself?

    If, as you replied, this is not a “best batsman” rating and only a sort of generalized overall career performance from debut to retirement then shouldn’t Tendulkar, Ponting and co. be kept out of it? [[ One comment might have got through. However in general the comments have been to the point. Nothing will be gained by having an artificial cut-off of 1993 just to prove a point. In that case Tendulkar's career runs at that stage was 8700. He would lose the 4 points for runs scored and might gain that on the Match Performance front, even that only might. What do you want to prove. My suggestion is, if you want to prove something, use the R-Factor. Regards ]]

  • Ananth on July 1, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    I am extremely happy that the comments are less, valuable, to the point and meaningful. I thank all the readers for that. A common request to all the readers. I am working on the Bowler Analysis now. I have realized that nothing is gained by preparing a single table, it is like comparing Bach, Berry, Beatles and Aerosmith. So there have to be multiple tables. I had split the Batting into 2 tables. I realize that even that is not enough. Hence I intend splitting the Bowling analysis into the following three eras. I would appreciate comments from readers on this split. 1. Pre-WW 2 (274 tests & 730 players) 2. 1945-1975 (498 tests & 720 players) 3. 1976-2009 (1150 tests & 1120 players). The other point I have to make is that the longevity measure carries only 15 points and nothing is gained by splitting hairs on that. That measure represents 20% of the total and the other 80% are performance based. Everyone has to agree that credit has to be given for sustaining top level performance over many years, over different types of pitches, against different types of bowling and varying levels of support. I feel this factor has been given its due and anything more or less would be incorrect.

  • James on July 1, 2009, 2:34 GMT

    @Jeff, I have mixed feelings on the longevity thing. One thing I'd like, but would be hard to measure: There should be a way of rewarding longevity if you there was strong competition for your spot, usually because you played for a strong nation. For example, (with due respect to Lara and Chanderpaul), it is much easier to gain and hold a spot in the West Indies side these days, so Chanderpaul's longevity could be (in a cynic's mind) due to the fact that there just wasn't anyone else to pick.

    And there is also a difference between the longevity involved in Hammond's 20 years and Border's 150 Tests. Who's to say whether it's harder to keep playing at a high level over real years, or through playing many matches? It's easier to statistically back up the one with the more data (Border) otherwise we are guessing what Hammond could have done in a modern schedule, just like we would have to guess how Headley or G.Pollock would have gone playing more tests. [[ James/Jeff Please remember that my measure of longevity is not a blind conversion of runs. The runs are weighted by relevant factors. Ananth: ]]

  • Jonathan on July 1, 2009, 0:09 GMT

    Hello Ananth, thanks for that.

    I know the subject of longevity has been touched upon, but a very simple fact has been missed here: runs scored is not a measure of time. Sehwag has scored more runs than Jack Hobbs, but who would you say had more longevity? The clue's in the name.

    It's blindingly, screechingly obvious that this distorts the table in favour of more recent players. Players who didn't have a world war to contend with. Players whose fixture list contained just two opponents, spaced six months apart. Greatness, or more correctly, 'greatness', is thus conferred by the ICC Future Tours programme and the avarice of national boards.

    The solution is obvious: if longevity is to be considered at all, it must be considered in terms of time, not in terms of Tests played or runs made. [[ Jonathan I have prepared separate tables so that you don't compare players of different eras. If required I could prepare three tables, as I might very well do for Bowlers. Why compare Sehwag and Hobbs. IN THEIR OWN ERAS, they have been outstanding players. Ananth: ]]

  • Nikhil on June 30, 2009, 21:42 GMT

    Hi Anath, Nice try at this analysis. Why don't you just use the standard deviation to measure constistancy? [[ Std Deviation will penalize a batsman heavily for scoring a 200. I am not interested in that. The Consistency I am referring to is the avoidance of poor performances. Ananth: ]]

  • Suv on June 30, 2009, 14:40 GMT

    @Jeff 1) I had addressed a comment to “Clark, alex” etc. above .Pls go thru the same. The “match performance” rating is fully accurate only when comparing team members at similar periods. Otherwise it rewards even equally good batsmen in a disproportionate manner and brings in own team performances to a greater extent thereby diluting direct “pure batting” comparisons.

    2) As rgds. an innings cut off; there is an interesting comment by “Neil” above. If he is right then longevity factors infact require more emphasis, not less.

    3) It is amazing that anyone in any sport, especially cricket/batting can make a claim that longevity is not critical to greatness. It goes without saying that a batsman who can maintain a high standard over long periods of time has had to master different bowlers, pitches, conditions and other such numerous challenges, which are impossible to do so without a greater mastery over the art than another batsman who has done so for a shorter time.

  • Jeff on June 30, 2009, 14:08 GMT

    CONT.

    The 10 players I looked at are: Kallis, Ponting, Tendulkar, Dravid, Gavaskar, Border, Waugh, Lara, Inzy & Chanderpaul.

    All great batsmen who, by the time they'd played 140 inns, had pretty much established their credentials and after that, carried on in largely the same vein (Lara improved most after 140 inns (+11%), Dravid has declined most (-7%))

    If we see such little change in these players, why should we believe Hammond wouldn't have done the same?

    Obviously, I don't mean to imply 140 is the cutoff number for innings, I was merely using it to illustrate the Hammond example.

    My point is, I guess, that longevity is actually an over-rated quality, and in fact, EVERY "great" batsman would continue to perform at the same level given the opportunity.

    What the cut-off number of inns is to establish "greatness" would require a detailed look at cumulative averages to see if we saw a common "plateau". Maybe something to look at in a future blog?

  • Jeff on June 30, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    Ananth,

    Obviously you need a dataset of a certain size in order to make some conclusions (in the extreme case, no one would ever say that Andy Ganteaume (career average 100+) is the best batsman ever) but what is the volume of data needed for us to be able to rank greatness?

    I already made the point earlier that Hammond played test cricket for 20 years and maintained an average 58. That he was only able to play 140 innings (and Border was able to play 265) is not Hammond's fault.

    If Hammond was able to sustain that level of performance over 140 innings, then we should be pretty confident he could do it if he had played double the number of innings in the same time span.

    I looked at the 10 players who played more than 200 inns & averaged over 49. I compared their average after 140 inns and their final average.

    5 improved their average after 140 inns and 5 saw a drop in average, but no one's average changed by more than ~10%.

    CONT.

  • Ramesh Kumar on June 30, 2009, 13:43 GMT

    Thanks Ananth for the clarification on " consistency". Some of the comments here have overstated the importance of " Match performance" from the figures. Test matches are won by bowlers(mostly) and we have innumerable instances of great batsmenship wasted. Who can forget some of Gavaskar's knocks-his last innings of 96 against pakistan, century in both innings in lost cause against PAK, mammoth 221 in run chase which ended a few runs short etc.

    One idea though.we looked at opponents bowlers strenghths. What about own team's bowling strenghths as a factor for measuring "match performance"--lower the bowling strength, higher the match performance as it must have come more from Batsmen.

  • Sanjay on June 30, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    Great stuff Ananth. The possibilities of fine-tuning these stats are endless. During the ICC 20/20 there was talk of giving all fielders an 'effectiveness rating', runs saved, misfields etc. I know that we'll never be able to get raw data on fielders like Rhodes, Harper, Bland, but it'd be an interesting excercise to add notional fielding stats of the teams played to batting ratings. For example, the WI teams would rate highly as would the SA teams, compared to India. This'd imply that it'd be more difficult to score runs against Gibbs, AB and Duminy fielding at point, gully and short extra cover, rather than Ganguly, Tendulkar and Laxman. Notional it may be, but there's a point to be made here in that teams today are far more athletic on the field than of yesteryears and that would result in more runs being saved on the field. If you've ever seen Bedi or Prasanna escorting a ball for three yards before it continues its journey to the fence, you'll understand exactly what I mean!

  • Pelham Juriansz on June 30, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    Bradman was undoubtedly the best by far. I admire Greg Chappell too as an upright elegant player and his brother Ian as well. another that comes to mind is Bobby Simpson. As openers, Gavaskar and Boycott were difficult to dislodge.

  • Suv on June 30, 2009, 10:46 GMT

    @john Clark, Alex etc The problem with the “match performance” rating as defined here is in its “use”. I.e the attempt/goal here is to compare batsmen in DIFFERENT teams and eras to each other. If you see the parameters used to compile “match performance”, they OVERWHELMINGLY depend on what other members of a team (including bowlers, fielders etc) did OR did not do. So,in a direct comparison batting comparison to other batsmen in other teams it loses much of its validity.

    So, if for eg. The top 5 batsmen all played in the SAME team at their peaks ONLY then would “match performance” ratings give us a meaningful insight. BUT in this case they tell us more as to how well a batsman did relative to others in his own team rather than to a batsman in another team. If you have two EQUALLY good batsmen, the one in the poor/avg batting lineup and good bowling lineup will inevitably come out on top with these parameters. This undoubtedly true point has been hammered home by several observers in previous comments. So, if comparing different batsmen in different eras and different teams this parameter in fact should be DOWNplayed. Upping it as you seem to suggest bring in MORE of other players contributions (or lack of) INCLUDING bowlers!!! It is only meaningful when directly comparing team members at similar stages of their careers.

  • sambillimoria on June 30, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    Ananth,

    On balance of things it looks an OK list to me. However I do have a point to make , if Gavaskar makes less " Ananth ' ponts on all time list than Jack Hobbs, as Gavaskar has scored twice the runs and both were openers. Granted that Hobbs has a superior batting average, but Gavaskar played many more games and it is far more difficult to average more than 50 with that kind of longevity. There should be some extra points given to players progressively as they reach bench marks of say 100 innings, 75 tests, 100 tests, 200 innings, 125 tests and now even 150 tests as it becomes increasingly difficult to keep in top phycial and mental state with such metronomic consistency .

    Many may feel some inadequacies because Don played only 52 tests. It would be interesting to see everyone reduced to "Don' factor of their first 52 tests and see how they compare. He would still be just as outstanding.

    Sam Billimoria

  • Jeff on June 30, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    CONT.

    As well as some surprising names missing from the top 20 - Tendulkar at 22 (heresy !!!;-)Border & Steve Waugh don't even make the top 50.

    This, to me, feels like a really good ranking of batsmen, not clouded by the fact that one player (eg Border) was lucky enough to play in an era where he could amass 150+ tests but another (eg. Hammond) could play for the same number of years but play half the amount of matches due to the relative scarcity of tests and the little matter of a world war.

    So, thank you for providing what I believe is the best measure of true batting greatness i've yet seen.

    I'm sure that it's not yet perfect, and the match performance criteria could be tweaked a bit, but it's a darn sight better than most things i've seen. [[ Jeff/John, For us to accept that, the Match performance has to be looked into in great depth from every angle and all problems ironed out. Not a problem. However people must accept that match performance must be the sole criteria. I myself will not at all be comfortable if we completely ignore the single longevity factor. At the end of the day, Tendulkar's performing at this level for 20 years (or in this case 13000 runs) has to be recognized. Many people over-reacted just because Lara was placed above Tendulkar. But in this case 10 cricketers who cannot stand comparison with Tendulkar in their career achievements might be above him and that is something I myself am not going to appreciate. The only way out would be to do this for an elite group of batsmen who have scored, say, 5000 runs+. Then we will have to exclude Sutcliffe, Graveney, May, Umrigar, Morris, Andy Flower, Weekes, Worrell, Walcott, May, Dexter, Manjrekar V et al. Not a palatable prposition. Ananth: ]]

  • Ramesh Kumar on June 30, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Excellent analysis. One basic confusion I have on " Consistency".If somebody has 40+ career average and their 5 test slices are at the same range, I suppose they will deem to be more consistent. How do you seperate 40+ consistent performer from 50+ consistent performer? Is it only by total runs scored? [[ Ramesh As it stands Stephen Fleming (2 out of 22 below-average performance slices) will stand better than Martin Crowe (4 out of 15). This is the definition of consistency. Of course Martin will score considerably more for his higher average in the alternate measure. In other words each batsmen, for this parameter, is judged by the standard he himself has set. If you look at Alastair Cook's figures you will understand that he is the epitome of this measure of consistency. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on June 30, 2009, 9:41 GMT

    Ananth,

    Thanks once more for the effort you put in to providing us with interesting and thought-provoking analyses.

    As I read through the comments, I found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with John Clark.

    I think that your "match-performance" rating is the one that truly captures batting greatness. The rest of it seems to reward players for consistency and the fact that they play a lot of matches. I'm not sure either of these factors add much towards determing who is the best batsman. Knowing who is the most consistent is a great thing in itself, but doesn't necessarily equate to greatness. You already know my opinion on using volume of runs to determine greatness from my comments on your previous articles.

    I've taken your list and ranked it purely on match performance and it produces a fascinating list.

    Bradman is of course top, followed by Headley, Hobbs & Lara.

    There are some surprising names in the top 20 (Sangakkara (no. 5), Gambhir, Pietersen etc.

    TBC

  • Jason Harcourt on June 30, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    A great piece of work this, taking into account so many factors that make a player "great". No analysis is perfect in this regard - for example I think Pollock is way too low on account of his Test career being ended before he could reach his peak (and he had already averaged 60-odd by this time), and I would put Richards ahead of Lara and Tendulkar as it is widely acknowledged that batting has become "easier" in recent years.

    However, this is probably as good as it gets in terms of defining the batsmen who have shaped Test Cricket.

  • John Clark on June 30, 2009, 7:32 GMT

    I agree that 'consistency' cannot be a part of a 'match performance' rating - but it unclear to me if a consistent batsman is better or worse than an inconsistent one, all else being equal (i.e. same averages etc). A balanced team needs both consistent (good foundation) players and inconsistent (matchwinners) - its not clear why one group is rewarded in the career ratings and the other is not.

    I also agree that it is harder to maintain performance over more matches, but I think that this is mostly a statistical question: assuming an innings is a random variable with X distribution, then how many innings are required before the variance of the average innings falls to an acceptable level? Who is the better bat: the 10000 run or 2000 run guy? We don't know - all we can say is that there is a greater level of uncertainty in assessing the performance of the 2000 run guy - but that uncertainty is in both directions. This is a really interesting topic - I have wondered about it a lot! [[ While I would not go as far to say this in Tennis-like comparisons, when Federer gets his 15th grand slam title, he will be the greatest, without argument, I think the single factor, Runs scored , which is the only longevity based factor, is essential. All other factors, barring none, are performance based. Once Consistency is considered it is essential to recognize that Fleming with 2 out of 22 slices with below-75% of his career RpI is more consistent than Martin Crowe, with 4 out 15 such occurences although Martin has an average about 5 plus. Many captains would feel that 50+50 is better than 100+0 although there would be enough feeling the other way also. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on June 30, 2009, 7:02 GMT

    Thanks a bunch for a wonderful stat compilation. I could not understand how longevity (in terms of the number of years and not just tests) is accounted for in your analysis. SRT has played for 20 years while Lara played for 17 years while Chappel played for 13 years. This factor should merit a consideration. [[ Through Runs Scored parameter. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on June 30, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    These statistical inferences rate Gavaskar and Border ahead of Greg Chappel ... enough said!! However, it much so better to come across workmanlike arguments like this than just opinions.

  • Love Goel on June 30, 2009, 2:29 GMT

    More than telling us the best batsmen, this list really points out some of the batsmen and how they have failed the expectation for eg Sarwan , Gayle and Carl Hooper , all great talented batsmen who never pulled their weight languishing behind batsmen you will never expect. Also I was amazed to see Gautam Gambhir so high while AB de villers so low. And god only knows where Graeme Pollock would have been if he played a full career.And Ananth a request, can you post where Dhoni would be if he had 2000 runs as of now(He is 1900+ right now) [[ Gambhir's numbers are that good, at least now. Dhoni M.S 0.79 27.62 (14.25 7.09 1.97 3.33 0.99) Ananth: ]]

  • John Clark on June 29, 2009, 23:57 GMT

    Thanks for the earlier reply and clarification of the method. My follow-up question is simply: why bother with anything except the 'match performance' rating? This rating seems to capture all of the most important factors. The 'career' rating seems to either not allow for some of these factors or just count them again. What does the 'career' rating add which the 'match performance' rating not already have? Another way of asking the same question: is a batsman's career performance simply the sum of all his innings? I think so - this is a case where the whole IS simply the sum of the parts. That is, the fact that a batsman scores 10000 runs is simply a result of playing a lot of great innings - you don't need to reward him twice in the ratings ('match' and 'career'). Just add up his innings (with all the adjustments) - AND this does not suffer from the flaws in the 'career' rating illustrated in my earlier example.

    Apologies if you have answered this elsewhere already. Regards! [[ John You have a valid point. The Consistency ratings part of the Career ratings is not and cannot be present in the Match performance ratings. Similarly the %-TS over a period of time. Also the Batting average is what one has achieved over a number of tests. Your comments have a lot of validity insofar as Runs scored are concerned. But then how can you distinguish between two batsmen, one who scores 2000 runs at a performance level of x points per innings and another who scores 10000 runs at an identical performance level of x. The later has maintained the same performance level over 5 times the number of tests/years. Ananth: ]]

  • Engle on June 29, 2009, 21:08 GMT

    Very commendable analysis indeed.

    Just to throw another few factors.

    1. Stats Factor. Whether a batsman plays for his stats or whether he plays for his team. Truly greats are above pursuing numbers and no less an authority than Imran Khan loathed number seeking batsmen.

    2. Fear factor. Demoralizing the opposition. Attacking their best bowlers. Displaying Batting Leadership.

    3. Peer factor. What do your cricketing peers (batsmen, bowlers, expert analysts) think about you.

    Some of these may be unquantifiable and subjective, but thought I'd get them off my chest anyways.

  • Mohanlal on June 29, 2009, 18:59 GMT

    sir, really nice to see the gap closed considerably between SRT & BCL.Nice to see Viv moved up a lot too.But yet 3 instinctive ifs and buts stand tall amid these conclusions. 1. Not even a single 100 for BCL(the best as per this analysis)against 62.5% of the 8 great bowlers he has faced(WA,WY,AD,SP,AK,MM,GM,SW are these bowlers).Yet he is the best. [[ MOhan This is completely untrue. Lara has scored 277/213/153* against Australia. Ananth: ]]

    2.Viv with out helmet took on and dominated the most fearsome fast bowlers of his time.It would be interesting to think what the other great batsmen would have achieved with out using helmet.For me Viv is greater than even Sachin who is my 2nd best. 3.Splitting into 2 eras has taken away a little justice from the end result 'best batsman in test cricket history' Having said all these things it has been a really marvellous effort from your part with providing insight into a lot of batting factors and strength and weaknesses of greats w.r.t these factors.Keenly expecting your list of all time great batsmen(test & 1 day combined).

  • Vijay Sharma on June 29, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    Ananth, I was wondering if you could do a piece on the top 25/50/100 individual innings ever, similarly bowling efforts.Wisden had come out with a top 100 centuries and bowling performances list a few years back, but I felt the analysis were too subjective.Of course what got me interested was the fact that none of Sachin's centuries were in there and the authors defended it saying none of Sachin's match-winning 100s were that great.But having said that they included Kapil's 129 against SA in a losing cause in the top 50 (probably) at the same time ignoring Sachin's 136 against Pak.Surely, these 2 innings weren't so far apart?I thought if you could do a statistical analysis of best innings ever it would be really great.Of course I am just using Sachin's example to make a point and I don't think a Sachin innings' existence in the top 100 would be enough reason to accept or reject a list.Just thought a statistical perspective could be great to compare with Wisden's list. [[ Vijay Let me come clean. I was the author of that Wisden-100 list. One minor correction. It was the Top-100 innings not Top-100 centuries. Vishwanath's 97 was placed in the 53rd position ahead of many a century. The methodology has changed completely since I did the first list 8 years back. Tendulkar has since played some great innings, notably the 241 against Australia. I will do a revised Ananth-Cricinfo-100 list but after some time. Ananth: ]]

  • kunal Dalal on June 29, 2009, 13:21 GMT

    Hey Anant, this is an amazing compilation os stats - i think its very well thought out - while lot of people are giving suggestion - i know its impossible to take in to account each and every one of them - i think this model is close to perfect - well done

  • venkatakshay on June 29, 2009, 12:59 GMT

    While I understand your reasons for choosing the cut off dates, i feel it would have been better if you had chosen the cut off dates from when the pitches were uncovered/covered as that would have been a significant factor.

  • Chris on June 29, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    Forgive me, but I'm sure Ken Barrington played the better part of his career after 1960? [[ Pl see related paragraph in the article. Ananth: ]]

  • Salim on June 29, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    Hi Ananth....it appears that you were able to be broad-mind, humble and open to suggestions to complete your amazing analysis. You didnt take it personally or agressively, you accepted that some of the readers views and sugestions were valied. This was UNLIKE the Tendulkar's fans initial reaction to your work. However it appears that the protests have now disapeared and your work has been accepted.

    Regards as always Salim Mian [[ Salim I don't think it is true that the table has been accepted. However most of the readers' valid suggestions have been accepted and incorporated. So there is less to complain about. Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on June 29, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    Dear Ananth another great efforts by you. I think statistic alone cannot tell the whole story. I believe that Lara is no. 1 due to following reasons

    1. 12-15 records in test and also some records in first class too. 2. Elegant batting. 3. Ability to turn matches from worst situation. 4. Batting with high back lift 5. Ability of playing according to situation (aggressive and also defensive too) 6. Handle the pressure of main strikers. Never tried to avoid them. 7. Scored in every corner of the world as he scored centuries against all test playing nations in all type of conditions. 8. Quality to dominate spinners and fast bowlers both 9. Ability to create master peace innings like 213, 153, 400 not out, 375 and others

    10. Highest tendency to score highest individual innings. 11. Ability to score highest no. of big knocks that is 19 (150 or plus scores). I believe that no one can match his status with him in batting in test because of above points.

  • Mike on June 29, 2009, 3:17 GMT

    One thing nobody mentioned yet Anath - I love the R-factor idea! Not just to allow room for intangibles (although that's nice), it also gives a kind of "confidence interval" to the scores. For two batsmen only 0.1 apart, as you pointed out, the relative rankings need be taken with a pinch of salt - but for a tight umpire's decision, had rain not ended a promising innings, or a coin toss condemned one to bat last on a deteriorating pitch, it could have been the other way round.

    Allocating 10 points to R-factor is like saying the scores are accurate to ±5 pts. My own impression was that this is unduly sceptical of the accuracy of the ratings (at least for the modern players), perhaps ±2 or 3 is arguable. I wonder whether more objective uncertainty figures could be calculated, perhaps individually - players with longer and less variable careers can presumably be measured with less uncertainty? Excessive uncertainty would also be a fairer exclusion criterion than insufficient longevity. [[ Mike I have thrown the R-Factor into the ring more because of my own exasperation at the inability/unwillingness of readers to understand the idea behind the analysis and splitting hairs on fractions of decimals. In no way is it reflective of the accuracy. 10 points was mentioned only because the others added to 90. It could have been 5 or 15. My own take on the accuracy/validity would be ±2.5 pts only because of the assumptions made. For any calculation/programming errors I would only keep the error at ±0.1 pts Thanks Ananth: ]] Mike

  • Mike on June 29, 2009, 2:29 GMT

    Very neat piece, Anath. I too was interested in batsmen who "stay on too long". Is it better to judge a batsman by how good he was in his prime, or by his whole career? I'm in two minds - I think because intuitively there are different kinds of "best". The most interesting are (1) "which batsman had the highest-achieving career" and (2) "which batsman would be best in a match situation" (alternatively: "who would you least like to see on the opposing teamsheet"!). You have an outstanding analysis of (1) "Best Career" so on reflection, it shouldn't be cut off at its peak score. (2) "Best Match-player" probably should be, but needs a substantially different breakdown anyway (primarily based on match performance and consistency, and arguably when calculated at any timepoint, the impact of the player's older results should be damped down).

    Am I right to think your analysis is "time-neutral" in that a lacklustre start to a career is judged the same way as an equivalent decline at the end? [[ Mike The career figures will be "time neutral" since peaks and troughs tend to get neutralized. The Consistency unit is only a 5-test slice so evens out over the career. On the other hand the Match Performance figures are so pin-pointed to the 1/2 days of the innings that a 100-point performance (right at the top) may be followed by a 1-point performance. Very few people have understood the significance of the Match Performance since it takes into account the many variable factors and is reflective of the contribution to the team cause. There is no averaging out which happens in the Career calculations. Ananth: ]]

  • Aubm on June 29, 2009, 1:11 GMT

    Ananth,

    Good changes to your initial list, and looking at that top 20 there is no doubt about the class of the players in there. The validity of the list for me comes with the position of Gooch. In this day & age, an average of 42 would be considered distinctly average. However, Gooch scored a considerable quantity of runs against the 80s attack of the WI, arguably the best attack ever seen, and I'm sure his average would have been higher if he was born 20 years later. Great list. [[ Aubrey (!!!), Despite a miserable start of a pair, one innings against West Indies in 1991 (154* out of 252 against Marshall, Walsh, Ambrose, Patterson) is enough to put the unheralded Gooch in the top-draw. This should be in anybody's list of 5 best innings. Ananth: ]]

  • mitch on June 29, 2009, 1:05 GMT

    Great Work again Ananth.........once again you have adjusted your Formular and showed AGAIN why LARA is and will always be number 1 . Excellent work keep it up

  • Faraz Khan on June 28, 2009, 19:16 GMT

    Statsguru Tests Records type batting analysis View career summary Match result won match

    Inzamam-ul-Haq Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave unfiltered 120 200 22 8830 329 49.6 filtered 49 76 16 4690 329 78.16

    SR Tendulkar Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave unfiltered 159 261 27 12773 248* 54.58 filtered 51 82 14 4432 248* 65.17

    RT Ponting Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave unfiltered 131 221 26 10960 257 56.2 filtered 89 146 22 7683 257 61.95

    BC Lara Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave unfiltered 131 232 6 11953 400* 52.88 filtered 32 52 4 2929 213 61.02

    Does it help publishing improved best batsmen list? Look at the batsmen effort in winning cause, for which they all play(ed) cricket.

  • Nicolo on June 28, 2009, 18:38 GMT

    Good work! BTW, I have a suggestion of considering the following factor: runs scored by batsmen in drawn matches. Hope it slightly changes the chart :)

  • Vijay Sharma on June 28, 2009, 16:33 GMT

    Ananth, I wrote to you once on my perspective that you were answering almost every comment, when you needn't.This time too I'll give you a perspective and you decide whether it makes sense to publish it, accept it, or reject it. In your last para you indicated that comments that are suitable as per some pre-defined standards only will be posted.I get the feeling you are reacting to the innumerable useless and ad hominem kinda comments that you get.While we can't control others' behavior we can definitely expect them to behave in a civilized manner.At the same time even if they don't we should just ignore them, have faith in others to see thru the hatred and uselessness of some comments.I personally feel we should not tailor opinions (of course abusive comments can be deleted straight away).Just a thought friend..the last para is standing on a fine line between arrogance and genuine frustration.Its finally your call.On the topic itself I was hoping Sachin would come out on top :) [[ Vijay You can take it whichever way you like. It is possibly a mix of both, more frustration than arrogance. However my request has had the desired effect. I have not been inundated with 100 comments on the first day. I would answer individual comments if the numbers are low, as is happening now. If I get 50 comments tomorrow I cannot do that. Ananth: ]]

  • arijit on June 28, 2009, 16:33 GMT

    I get your point about not wanting to complicate the longevity calculation. Just to clarify one issue: I wasn't concerned with Headley alone, my point was that all players of the past, when fewer Tests were played, are at a disadvantage compared with modern players. Just to take one example: Sobers played 20 years, same as Tendulkar. Neither was ever dropped for poor performance. But Sobers has 8000 runs to Tendulkar's 12,500, though the West Indian has a higher average. He just got less opportunity to play. So, longevity should not be counted in Tests and runs but only in years. But this is just a theoretical point, I do accept your practical argument. regards

  • Prasad Sovani on June 28, 2009, 15:02 GMT

    Great work Ananth! I wanted to know about the 5-tests slices for consistency. Are they, 1-5, 6-10,11-15 etc or are they 1-5, 2-6,3-7,etc. If someone played 100 tests, how many slices of 5 tests would your system have? 20 as per first or 96 as per the second? To me, the second looks better. Could it be? (second system also adjusts correctly for those who played # of tests that were not divisible by 5) Warm wishes -Prasad Sovani [[ The slices are 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 etc. Otherwise there will be overlaps and the calculations will not be correct. I had earlier done an analysis on this. There I had taken the slices the second way since I was interested in any part of a batsman's career, and did not mind overlaps. Ananth: ]]

  • Rex on June 28, 2009, 13:44 GMT

    I'm really happy with the amount of effort that has gone into this article and into getting us involved as well.

    My gripe is this:

    Why haven't you considered country specific data? Is it difficult to incorporate it into a mathematical analysis? (Some players performing poorly in certain conditions/countries but exceptionally in some other nations).

    Will Tendulkar be called a great player if he had not performed well in Australia?

    I don't care if Lara is above Tendulkar or Ponting is below Lara etc. Differences in rankings always there. And like you said, we should look at them as first 1/10/20 among equals. But what do they tell about the players?

    I've enjoyed most of your analysis but this one doesn't tell us what we don't know already.

    A condition-based analysis would've revealed a lot more- like how average Tendulkar has been in SA, Pak (Ave 40), how poor Lara and Ponting have been in Ind etc.

    An analysis must be useful for future generations. Is this? [[ In future I intend doing a Player-Country matrix analysis as an independent article. Ananth: ]]

  • Vic Nicholas on June 28, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    Statistics only tell part of the story...that much we can agree upon. I have no problem with the top ten - all brilliant batsmen in all conditions. How do we explain to people 100 years from now the sheer excitement of watching Adam Gilchrist, or Sehwag tearing a team apart and scoring at a swash-buckling pace? Is it even possible? The stats will certainly never back up what we have been lucky enough to have seen. Excellent analusis I must say. Well done! [[ Vic Similarly what do we know now about your illustrious namesake, Trumper. the abiding image I have is the famous photograph of Trumper stepping out drive and the book on Trumper by Lionel Brown. The numbers tell only one side of the story. I would never expect the numbers to tell the more pleasing side. I am too much of a cricket romanticist to claim that. Ananth: ]]

  • Love goel on June 28, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Hi Ananth , I wasnt trying to figure out the best opening batsmen but just trying to verify the view that the best batsmen always bat at no 3/4 , followed by openers followed by no 5/6 [[ Goel If you refer back, I had done an article on the Batting positions. Maybe if I add that information to the current tables you would get a good idea of the batting positions of the top batsmen. Let me see whether I can add that to the current tables. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • arijit on June 28, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    Ananth, can there be a different criterion for longevity than career aggregate runs? Seems unfair on people like George Headley who played Tests for nearly two decades but lost out because (a) fewer Tests were played those days and (b) the second world war (even Bradman loses out). Maybe you can ignore total runs and calculate longevity this way: A X B/C when A = No. of years between debut and last Test; B = number of Tests played by the player and C = number of Tests played by his country in that period (you can include in B the Tests the player missed because of injury, so that C minus B only gives the number of Tests he missed because he was dropped for poor form). I don't know if this is a good idea but I hope the logic is clear. Also, wish you could include the Packer Tests (Chappell, Richards were at their peak then and would deservedly gain. On the other hand, the Gavaskars, Bothams boosted their record against some easy bowling). Thanks and regards [[ Arjit At the end of the day George Headley, despite playing in 22 tests and scoring less than 20% of the maximum runs, has finished 6th, ahead of a host of others who have scored more runs. No point in complicating a simple process thinking that it would be fair to, say Headley, in the bargain throwing many other calculations haywire. Ananth: ]]

  • Sarar on June 28, 2009, 7:48 GMT

    You can never get it right, however much analysis. Statistics can never compensate for IVA Richards striding out without any helmet and protection to take on Thompson/Lillee in their pomp, on absolutely green pitches and then scoring 323 runs in 4 innings, when the rest of the team was falling apart. Nor Sobers at 34 years age, scoring 254 in the most beautiful style possible. Or Ted Dexter in gloomy conditions taking on Hall/Griffith on a green seaming wicket and despatching them all over Lords. Good try though.

  • Outlaw Josey Wales on June 28, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    Another disgruntled Kiwi :). I respect the incredible amount of time this must have taken but if by any measure Crowe ranks behind Fleming there are some issues with your analysis. Mad respect though, overall it looks about right. [[ Damian Let us see the figures for Fleming and Martin. 44. Nzl Fleming S.P 1.06 36.94 45. Nzl Crowe M.D 1.06 36.93 Do you really want to say that Martin is ranked behind Stephen when they seem to be separated in the third decimal point. Ananth: ]]

  • James on June 28, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    Sorry for a second one, but I remember what I was going to say! For the pre-1960 era, did you consider dropping the 2000 runs scored criteria? It seems a steepish target given the lack of cricket played back then. Last time I asked you about Aubrey Faulkner who only made 1700-odd runs as an example, and a lower run threshold might allow you to add some of the legendary players who didn't play enough matches to hit 2000 eg. WG Grace, CB Fry, MA Noble, TW Hayward, J Ryder, AC MacLaren, FS Jackson, A Shrewsbury etc. [[ James I had pegged 1500 runs as the cut-off point when I had 1 Jan 1940 as the separation date. However I restored it to 2000 runs for the sake of uniformity when I changed the date to 1 Jan 1960. Could easily do the change if you (and others) feel strongly about it. Ananth: ]]

  • James on June 28, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    This is becoming quite excellent Ananth (and I was already pleased with the last one). I like the consistency rating and the dropping of scoring rate. People don't realise: quick innings can win you a Test, but they can also lose you a Test by leaving more overs for the rest of your teammates to survive.

    I like Neil's idea of measuring a batsman's peak score ie. his ideal retirement date, but I can see why it would not feel right to do.

    It all makes for very interesting discussion anyway, well done sir.

  • Mark Baldwin on June 28, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    I also have an All Time 11 Worlds Best XI's, inspired by G.Armstrongs, The 100 Greatest Cricketers. With a Team Balance Criterion, of, 1.Of top 7 Bats. at least 1 L/Handed Bat. 2.Of top 7 Bats. at least 1 M/F Bowl. A/R or P/T 3.Of top 7 Bats. at least 1 Spin Bowl. A/R or P/T 4.Of 4 Main Bowlers, at least 1 Spinner. 5.Of all Bowlers at least 1 Left Handed My No. 1 Team is, W.G.Grace(p/t), J.Hobbs, D.Bradman, G.Headley, G.Sobers(a/r), I.Khan(a/r), A.Gilchrist, M.Marshall, S.Warne, S.Barnes, C.Ambrose No.2 Team S.Gavasker, L.Hutton, W.Hammond(p/t), S.Tendulkar(p/t), B.Lara, K.Miller(a/r), L.Ames, R.Hadlee, W.Akram, W.O'Reilly, D.Lillee No.3 Team H.Sutcliffe, V.Sehwag(p/t), V.Richards(p/t), G.Chappell(p/t), R.Ponting, I.Botham(a/r), A.Knott, A.Davidson, F.Spofforth, M.Muralidaran, G.McGrath No.4 Team A.Shrewsbury, V.Trumper, G.Pollock, C.Walcott(p/t) S.Waugh(p/t), W.Rhodes(a/r), J.Blackham, R.Lindwall, J.Laker, G.Lohman, F.Trueman A Tough Task! Who's in Next? 5,6,7,8

  • love goel on June 28, 2009, 3:07 GMT

    Ananth, can you please divide the list by the position of the batsmen,ie what wicket down they played? Somehow it seems wrong to me too compare 3 down player to opener and like that [[ Goel This is an analysis of the top batsmen of the world, not the best opening batsmen. I had earlier come out with an analysis of the opening batsmen. Pl go down the blog and you will find it. Ananth: ]]

  • Mark Baldwin on June 28, 2009, 2:43 GMT

    Overall a very fine analysis .Fine effort, obviously a near impossible task,to examine so many factors. At first glance I think, how could A.Border be ranked above G.Chappell or G.Pollock. To me there seem to be 2 main deficiencies.May I, 1. Scoring rate, Match winning Innings. A.Gilchrist, V.Sehwag, C.McCarteney, F.Woolley, V.Trumper, the no. of games that were, undoubtedly altered, at the least, to an exciting rather than dull game. 2. Pre WW1 batsman have to be factored in. Was J.Hobbs THE No.1 batsman of the period? Maybe Yes, but others must factor in higher than ,R. Simpson, E.Dexter!! Such as V.Trumper, A.Shrewsbury, C.Hill, A.McClaren, W.Murdoch, Ranji,Rhodes, even W.Armstrong compares strongly to R.Simpson in the team rolls they played,{esp. taking into consid. pitch conds.} Overall I like the look of your Top 20.listings, for sure! I like the look of Best Era Teams .I have 6. Interested? [[ Mark In a mammoth effort such as this there is no way to get everything correct. As you have done, what must be appreciated is the effort and sincerity behind the effort. Then it is easier to accept that variations will occur. Border vs Chappell situation is similar to Ponting vs Steve Waugh or some other situation. Only thing to remember that Border played during an average Australian era. Pl send your team. Anything different should be circulated. Ananth: ]]

  • John Clark on June 28, 2009, 0:51 GMT

    Quick question on the adjustment for playing in low scoring or high scoring matches. Consider two batsmen playing for the same team in the same games. Both score exactly 100 in half their innings and exactly zero in the other half. However, the first batsman scores his 100s in the 'low scoring' innings (e.g. the team scores 200 total) and zeros in the 'high scoring' innings (e.g. the team scores 600). The second batsman scores his 100s in the high scoring innings and his zeros in the low scoring innings. The two batsmen will have exactly the same aggregate runs and exactly the same averages in exactly the same games. Does your ratings system give exactly the same rating to these two batsmen? Should it? Of course, the same question can be applied to the quality of the opposition. It other words, are these adjustments made on an innings-by-innings basis or on an average-over-a-career basis? Thanks. [[ John The career Ratings will be the same for both batsmen. However the Match performance Ratings will give a much higher rating value for the 100 out of 200 as against 100 out of 600 innings. I have given below two Match Performance Rating values to clarify this situation. I will take two identical innings of Lara for consideration. The first is the all-time classic. The match-winning 153 (out of 311 for 9) against Australia at Bridgetown. That carries a Match Performance value of 131 points. Another innings of 152 (out of 417) of Lara against an average English attack at Nottingham carries a Match Performance value of less than half, 63 points. Ananth: ]]

  • eddy on June 27, 2009, 23:18 GMT

    well done ananth, your adjustments have placed the great sir viv somewhere where he should have been and reconfirmed the top 3 places. great work.

    eddy

  • Sam on June 27, 2009, 23:08 GMT

    of your 1960-2009 batsmen, 12 of the 20 have played in the last 5 years. Therefore 60% have played in let's say 20% of the period. Forgetting conditions etc, has there been an uplift in quality of batsmen in the last 10 years, or a derth in bowling? Are we in the midst of another golden age of batting? Or is this simply down to other factors?

  • Ashwath on June 27, 2009, 18:19 GMT

    Interesting to see that Ganguly and Vishwanath are separated by so little in statistical measures.

  • arijit on June 27, 2009, 17:52 GMT

    Masterful as Tendulkar, beautiful as Lara --- that's what your analysis is. Can't wait for the analysis of greatest bowlers. Will you have separate lists for the fast men and the spinners? Will 'explosive' bowlers who repeatedly turned out deadly match-winning spells (Ambrose, Imran, Marshall, Vinoo Mankad) gain points over those steadier at taking 3-4 wickets per innings (Akram, Bedi)? Under 'match performance'? Some may see a reflection here of the Lara-Tendulkar debate.

  • Marcus on June 27, 2009, 14:12 GMT

    Ian's observation is interesting, although I'd have expected Bert Sutcliffe and maybe a couple of others (eg. Crowe, Turner) to be ranked pretty highly.

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of the consistency of different nations, because despite not having any major batting stars (and only one bowling one), New Zealand has been on the whole pretty competitive for the last couple of decades, whereas some nations seem to peak with a number of excellent performers, then freefall pretty quickly (such as the Windies). [[ Marcus, Martin Crowe is at no.45. Seems low. But his ratio is 1.06 indicating that he in the top quarter. Also look at the 10 batsmen behind him. Atherton, Lawry, Laxman, Strauss, Martyn, Gilchrist, Slater, DeSilva, Viswanath and Ganguly. Not a bad group indeed. Sutcliffe is also in no.45. The ones who follow him are Mushtaq Mohd, P Richardson, Washbrook, Wooley and V Manjrekar. Probably not as good a group as Martin's, but quite a competent group. The problem is the abundance of world class batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on June 27, 2009, 12:47 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Many many thanks. This is a much improved analysis, a lot of important factors taken into consideration and given appropraite weightage. I think readers will connect with this more than your previous analysis. A combind Top 10 list is Bradman, Lara, Tendulkar, Ponting, Hobbs, Dravid, Gavaskar, Kallis, Sobers, Richards. It is a tribute to their longevity and greatness and contribution to the game for many many years.

    Your points dosen't seems to add upto 90.0 ? Match Perf. 50.0 Career runs 15.0 Batting ave. 20.0 Cons 5.0 Team Run% 5.0

    Arjun. [[ Arjun Match performance is only 45. That is a theoretical high. As you can see, even Bradman gets only 36.62 pts which is around 80% of the maximum. Ananth: ]]

  • Josh henry on June 27, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    This is a great piece of work. I don't yet fully understand the methodology but the outcomes seems reasonable. I appreciate also the acknolodgement of all those other factors not considered for the analysis

  • Joshua on June 27, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    I believe that once a top 20 bowlers list and batsmens list are put together then an extra stat to reflect performance and amount of time against the opposite should be applied and give some waiting - while I do not always think this would nessecarily change the order - I do believe that Border, Gooch, Miandad spending most of his career against a majority of bowlers in the top 20 would be lifted up as opposed to those such as Matt Hayden,Ponting,Tendulkar whos opposition may not have been as good, while I agree this isnt their fault they do get ana dvantage of this from other stats and i feel it would add balance [[ Joshua A number of good ideas have come up recently to do some "out of the box" analysis. Will look at your suggestion seriously. Ananth: ]]

  • Ian on June 27, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    Thank you for a great analysis. Being a strong NZ supporter, this article shows how average our best batsmen have been over the years. With Fleming being our best batsmen since 1960 in 44th place, the worst of all test playing countries expect Bangladesh with even Zimbawae above us with Andy Flower. (Must admit, I do agree) In the before 1960 analysis, Bert Sutcliffe in 45th place, is the lowest of the best batsmen from all Test Playing nations, at the time. This shows New Zealands place as a Test Nation which never really had any big stars. Thank You for this analysis and hopefully, in the next few year, a batsmen like Ross Taylor (When he finally gets 2000 runs) can achieve where a long list of New Zealands have Failed

    As always. GO NEW ZEALAND. [[ Ian Forget about the numbers. New Zealand is a great team. Ananth: ]]

  • Neil on June 27, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    Ananth, The foll. would reveal useful insights about the how your system generates points: 1) Pls could you tell us what SRT and Vivs points would be if they retired on 01/01/2003 and 01/01/1989 resp? 2) Does playing longer albeit with a reduced performance level improve a players rating? 3)Or does the longevity factor produce diminishing returns as compared to a shorter but more “peak” sort of career? 4)So, does this further imply that a player would have been better served as per your system if he had retired before his powers started waning or if he continues at a lower level? Since the performance of most players (with a few exceptions) decline towards the latter stages. 5)So, say if the Don had continued for another 30 matches and his avg. then fallen off, would the longevity factor “compensate” for this reduced performance? 6) Or, whether say a Gavaskar, who retired when still “on top” will come out better on your points?

    I.e. how critical do you feel the date on which a player decides to retire is to your point system? Do the longevity factors (runs etc) compensate for the natural decline over time in other factors (match performance, avg etc)? [[ Neil My analysis does not confer the title "The best batsman" on anyone and it does not matter a tinker's damn what I say regarding the player's status in world cricket. I am not going to do any "what if" analysis since these serve no purpose. I do not have "retire" Tendulkar so that he comes above Lara or any other similar change. Let me say that the longevity factor, just one, the runs scored, is to recognize the fact that the player has served for so long with distinction. If he drops off in performance it is possible that the additional runs scored might compensate or not. On the other hand there are many batsmen who maintain their form. As Federer, the magician, told during an interview "I do not know where I stand in the list of Tennis greats now, but please judge me at the end of my career". This, coming from someone who is thought to be the greatest by 90% of his peers and previous greats. There is a lesson in there for everyone. That applies very well here. In fact there are sufficient details in the tables for you to do your own extrapolation. Ananth: ]]

  • Ashik Uzzaman on June 27, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Ananth, I believe this is a significant improvement! Thanks for your hard work.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Ashik Uzzaman on June 27, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Ananth, I believe this is a significant improvement! Thanks for your hard work.

  • Neil on June 27, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    Ananth, The foll. would reveal useful insights about the how your system generates points: 1) Pls could you tell us what SRT and Vivs points would be if they retired on 01/01/2003 and 01/01/1989 resp? 2) Does playing longer albeit with a reduced performance level improve a players rating? 3)Or does the longevity factor produce diminishing returns as compared to a shorter but more “peak” sort of career? 4)So, does this further imply that a player would have been better served as per your system if he had retired before his powers started waning or if he continues at a lower level? Since the performance of most players (with a few exceptions) decline towards the latter stages. 5)So, say if the Don had continued for another 30 matches and his avg. then fallen off, would the longevity factor “compensate” for this reduced performance? 6) Or, whether say a Gavaskar, who retired when still “on top” will come out better on your points?

    I.e. how critical do you feel the date on which a player decides to retire is to your point system? Do the longevity factors (runs etc) compensate for the natural decline over time in other factors (match performance, avg etc)? [[ Neil My analysis does not confer the title "The best batsman" on anyone and it does not matter a tinker's damn what I say regarding the player's status in world cricket. I am not going to do any "what if" analysis since these serve no purpose. I do not have "retire" Tendulkar so that he comes above Lara or any other similar change. Let me say that the longevity factor, just one, the runs scored, is to recognize the fact that the player has served for so long with distinction. If he drops off in performance it is possible that the additional runs scored might compensate or not. On the other hand there are many batsmen who maintain their form. As Federer, the magician, told during an interview "I do not know where I stand in the list of Tennis greats now, but please judge me at the end of my career". This, coming from someone who is thought to be the greatest by 90% of his peers and previous greats. There is a lesson in there for everyone. That applies very well here. In fact there are sufficient details in the tables for you to do your own extrapolation. Ananth: ]]

  • Ian on June 27, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    Thank you for a great analysis. Being a strong NZ supporter, this article shows how average our best batsmen have been over the years. With Fleming being our best batsmen since 1960 in 44th place, the worst of all test playing countries expect Bangladesh with even Zimbawae above us with Andy Flower. (Must admit, I do agree) In the before 1960 analysis, Bert Sutcliffe in 45th place, is the lowest of the best batsmen from all Test Playing nations, at the time. This shows New Zealands place as a Test Nation which never really had any big stars. Thank You for this analysis and hopefully, in the next few year, a batsmen like Ross Taylor (When he finally gets 2000 runs) can achieve where a long list of New Zealands have Failed

    As always. GO NEW ZEALAND. [[ Ian Forget about the numbers. New Zealand is a great team. Ananth: ]]

  • Joshua on June 27, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    I believe that once a top 20 bowlers list and batsmens list are put together then an extra stat to reflect performance and amount of time against the opposite should be applied and give some waiting - while I do not always think this would nessecarily change the order - I do believe that Border, Gooch, Miandad spending most of his career against a majority of bowlers in the top 20 would be lifted up as opposed to those such as Matt Hayden,Ponting,Tendulkar whos opposition may not have been as good, while I agree this isnt their fault they do get ana dvantage of this from other stats and i feel it would add balance [[ Joshua A number of good ideas have come up recently to do some "out of the box" analysis. Will look at your suggestion seriously. Ananth: ]]

  • Josh henry on June 27, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    This is a great piece of work. I don't yet fully understand the methodology but the outcomes seems reasonable. I appreciate also the acknolodgement of all those other factors not considered for the analysis

  • Arjun on June 27, 2009, 12:47 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Many many thanks. This is a much improved analysis, a lot of important factors taken into consideration and given appropraite weightage. I think readers will connect with this more than your previous analysis. A combind Top 10 list is Bradman, Lara, Tendulkar, Ponting, Hobbs, Dravid, Gavaskar, Kallis, Sobers, Richards. It is a tribute to their longevity and greatness and contribution to the game for many many years.

    Your points dosen't seems to add upto 90.0 ? Match Perf. 50.0 Career runs 15.0 Batting ave. 20.0 Cons 5.0 Team Run% 5.0

    Arjun. [[ Arjun Match performance is only 45. That is a theoretical high. As you can see, even Bradman gets only 36.62 pts which is around 80% of the maximum. Ananth: ]]

  • Marcus on June 27, 2009, 14:12 GMT

    Ian's observation is interesting, although I'd have expected Bert Sutcliffe and maybe a couple of others (eg. Crowe, Turner) to be ranked pretty highly.

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of the consistency of different nations, because despite not having any major batting stars (and only one bowling one), New Zealand has been on the whole pretty competitive for the last couple of decades, whereas some nations seem to peak with a number of excellent performers, then freefall pretty quickly (such as the Windies). [[ Marcus, Martin Crowe is at no.45. Seems low. But his ratio is 1.06 indicating that he in the top quarter. Also look at the 10 batsmen behind him. Atherton, Lawry, Laxman, Strauss, Martyn, Gilchrist, Slater, DeSilva, Viswanath and Ganguly. Not a bad group indeed. Sutcliffe is also in no.45. The ones who follow him are Mushtaq Mohd, P Richardson, Washbrook, Wooley and V Manjrekar. Probably not as good a group as Martin's, but quite a competent group. The problem is the abundance of world class batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • arijit on June 27, 2009, 17:52 GMT

    Masterful as Tendulkar, beautiful as Lara --- that's what your analysis is. Can't wait for the analysis of greatest bowlers. Will you have separate lists for the fast men and the spinners? Will 'explosive' bowlers who repeatedly turned out deadly match-winning spells (Ambrose, Imran, Marshall, Vinoo Mankad) gain points over those steadier at taking 3-4 wickets per innings (Akram, Bedi)? Under 'match performance'? Some may see a reflection here of the Lara-Tendulkar debate.

  • Ashwath on June 27, 2009, 18:19 GMT

    Interesting to see that Ganguly and Vishwanath are separated by so little in statistical measures.

  • Sam on June 27, 2009, 23:08 GMT

    of your 1960-2009 batsmen, 12 of the 20 have played in the last 5 years. Therefore 60% have played in let's say 20% of the period. Forgetting conditions etc, has there been an uplift in quality of batsmen in the last 10 years, or a derth in bowling? Are we in the midst of another golden age of batting? Or is this simply down to other factors?