Test cricket September 4, 2009

Comparing the two halves of players' careers

This piece compares players with themselves, looking at how the numbers from the first half of their careers matches up with the second half
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In the past few posts, we have compared Test batsmen (and bowlers) with their peers; with batsmen batting at specific batting positions; with one's own team members. Now we will be looking inward. Let us compare a Test batsman/bowler with himself. I will look at the two halves of the player careers and do a comparison between these two (mostly dissimilar) periods.

The usual criteria apply. This is just to ensure that the career is sufficiently long. I have taken 4000 runs and 45 Tests as the cut-off for batsmen and 150 wickets and 45 Tests as cut-off for bowlers. These two sets of twin conditions ensure that bowlers such as Barnes do not get into the picture. Most of the top keepers get in.

Only the batting average and bowling average are used for comparison. These two are the most trusted of all measures and will provide a very good platform for a clear understanding of a Test players' career.

Test Batsmen: Analysing the two career halves

SNo Cty Batsman         |<----Career---->|<--1st Half->|<-2nd Half>| % Chg
|Tests Runs  Avge|Mt Runs  Avge|Runs   Avge|
|                |             |           |
1.Pak Younis Khan     |  63  5260 50.10|32-2033 39.10|3227  60.89| 55.7%
2.Zim Flower A        |  63  4794 51.55|32-2013 41.94|2781  61.80| 47.4%
3.Aus Redpath I.R     |  66  4737 43.46|33-1813 35.55|2924  50.41| 41.8%
4.Nzl Wright J.G      |  82  5334 37.83|41-2123 31.22|3211  43.99| 40.9%
5.Aus Chappell I.M    |  75  5345 42.42|38-2219 35.22|3126  49.62| 40.9%
...
53.Eng Hobbs J.B       |  61  5410 56.95|31-2733 56.94|2677  56.96|  0.0%
...
97.Aus Hayden M.L      | 103  8626 50.74|52-4714 58.92|3912  43.47|-26.2%
98.Eng Smith R.A       |  62  4236 43.67|31-2255 51.25|1981  37.38|-27.1%
99.Win Kallicharran A.I|  66  4399 44.43|33-2582 52.69|1817  36.34|-31.0%
100.Aus Gilchrist A.C   |  96  5570 47.61|48-3073 59.10|2497  38.42|-35.0%
101.Aus Harvey R.N      |  79  6149 48.42|40-3830 61.77|2319  35.68|-42.2%
Younis Khan has achieved the highest jump from the first half to second half, an astounding 55.7%. His average has improved from 39.10 to 60.89. Note that in his last 31 Tests he has scored at higher than 100 runs per Test.

Andy Flower has improved from 41.94 to 61.80, an increase of 47.4%, that too playing in a weak team. Ian Redpath, John Wright and Ian Chappell have also finished their careers very strongly.

For consistency one need not look beyond Jack Hobbs. He has only a second decimal difference in his second half average to the first half. Steve Waugh and Andrew Strauss are close to achieving this perfection.

Gilchrist's huge fall, from 59.10 to 38.42 is understandable considering that he had an explosive start and fell off drastically towards the end. What is surprising is the fall of Neil Harvey, who dropped his average from 60+ to 35. This is quite inexplicable. He scored 15 of his 21 hundreds in the first half of his career. Gilchrist, on the other hand, scored 9 of his 17 hundreds in the first half of his career. However he was dismissed for many single digit scores, quite a few 0s included, during the second half.

Note how Hayden, R Smith and Kallicharan have also fallen off.

To view the complete list, please click here.

Test Bowlers: Analysing the two career halves

No Cty Batsman          |<----Career---->|<-1st Half-->|<2nd Half>| % Chg
|Tests Wkts  Avge|Mt Wkts  Avge|Wkts  Avge|
|                |             |          |
1.Eng Laker J.C        |   46  193 21.25|23-  78 29.95| 115 15.35| 48.8%
2.Eng Bedser A.V       |   51  236 24.90|26- 100 33.87| 136 18.30| 46.0%
3.Pak Iqbal Qasim      |   50  171 28.11|25-  65 35.78| 106 23.41| 34.6%
4.Nzl Hadlee R.J       |   86  431 22.30|43- 192 26.17| 239 19.19| 26.7%
5.Nzl Morrison D.K     |   48  160 34.68|24-  73 39.53|  87 30.61| 22.6%
6.Slk Muralitharan M   |  129  783 22.22|65- 337 25.48| 446 19.76| 22.5%
...
38.Aus McKenzie G.D     |   60  246 29.79|30- 126 29.81| 120 29.77|  0.1%
...
66.Win Gibbs L.R        |   79  309 29.09|40- 176 24.56| 133 35.09|-42.9%
67.Pak Mushtaq Ahmed    |   52  185 32.97|26- 105 27.51|  80 40.14|-45.9%
68.Win Hall W.W         |   48  192 26.39|24- 119 22.15|  73 33.29|-50.3%
69.Eng Botham I.T       |  102  383 28.40|51- 231 23.46| 152 35.91|-53.1%
70.Eng Lock G.A.R       |   49  174 25.58|25- 104 20.13|  70 33.67|-67.2%
Laker moved from an average spinner to Lohmannish figures in the second half, no doubt aided by the 19 for 90 at Manchester. That is nearly 50% improvement. Similar with Alec Bedser, who had totally different career halves. What about Richard Hadllee, with sub-20 average in the second half of his career. Again Muralitharan's last 64 Tests have had sub-20 average and an average of 7, yes, you read it correctly, 7 wickets per Test.

McKenzie was like Hobbs, averaging almost the same figure in his two halves. Saqlain Mushtaq and McDermott are in the middle group.

Look at the last five, especially Ian Botham. He was a shadow of himself, increasing his average by over 50%. Lock's figures are still more astounding. An average of 20.13 moving to 33.67 and below 3 wickets per Test. Possibly he played the supporting role to Laker quite often as happened at Manchester in 1956.

To view the complete list, please click here.

This blog is going nowhere with readers following a single agenda, whatever be the subject matter of the article. I have had complaints from serious readers that the purpose of the articles is lost. Hence a firm reminder that only relevant comments will be published. Henceforth I will not and readers should not forget that the purpose of the blog is to come out with new analytical efforts. I myself have been guilty of side-tracking into irrelevant and/or non-cricketing issues. Remind me, gently or otherwise, to remove the offending comment or response.

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

  • Bhaskar on September 21, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    Ponting's Career into 2 halves:-

    Dec 1995 - Jul 2003 M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 68 107 13 4797 206 51.03 17 17 6

    Aug 2003 - Till now M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 68 122 13 6548 257 60.07 21 31 5

  • Bhaskar on September 21, 2009, 13:28 GMT

    Sachin's Career split into 2 halves:-

    Nov 1989 - Feb 2001 M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 79 125 13 6416 217 57.28 24 24 7

    Mar 2001 - Till Now M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 80 136 14 6357 248* 52.10 18 29 7

    This is amazing consistency.....

  • a133936 on September 6, 2009, 15:43 GMT

    Split Sachin's career three ways:

    Period T I NO Runs HS Ave 100s 50s 0s 1989-1996 46 70 7 3106 179 49.30 10 15 4 1997-2002 59 99 9 5705 217 63.38 21 20 6 2003-2009 54 92 11 3962 248* 48.91 11 18 4

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 6, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Dear Ananth, Nice article once again!

    Brian Lara's career has three segments 1. In first 31 test matches in 52 innings, he scored 3048 runs with the help of 7 centuries and 16 half centuries with batting average 60.96.

    2. Then in 49 test matches he scored 3485 runs with help of 8 centuries and 17 half centuries with batting average 40.05.

    So in first 80 test matches he scored 6533 runs with the help of 15 centuries and 33 half centuries with batting average 47.68.

    3. In his last 51 test matches in 91 innings, he scored 5420 runs with the help of 19 centuries and 15 half centuries with batting average 60.89.

    Totally he scored 11953 runs with help of 34 centuries and 48 half centuries with batting average 52.88. He is excellent up to .24 of his test matches and then his career is below to his standard from .24 to .61 and then from .61 to onward excellent again.

    It means that his career has two peaks and one decline and his .37 career is not up to his standard.

  • Arjun on September 5, 2009, 13:50 GMT

    Dilip Vengsarkar has had longest sequence of 28 test innings during which he averaged over 100. From his 132nd inn upto 159th inn. he scored 1819 runs at an average of 101.05 (28 inn. 10 notouts). This is best after Bradman. Considering he averaged only 42.0 over his entire career that is a remarkable achievement.

  • Mradul on September 5, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    Great Work Done! Really good analysis. One more idea coming to my mind was the batting average of some of our great Subcontinent batsmen outside the Subcontinent. I did a small analysis and found some interesting facts. Overall Average for M. Jayawardhene is around 53 which drops to 38 outside the subcontinent(28% drop) and similarly for Younis Khan it drops to around 40 (abt 21% drop). Similarly Mohd Yusuf's avg shoots upto 64 and Rahul Dravid avg goes around 57. We can do some similar analysis for players from Aus, Eng, SA and WI with their performances inside Subcontinent.

  • Venkat on September 5, 2009, 13:09 GMT

    Anath: As a follow-up to my earlier query, I decided to try out statsguru for the first time on 3 players with results thus: Imran Khan - First 44 Tests 1651 runs @ 27.98 vs. next 44 Tests 2156 runs @ 51.33; in Bowling 195 wkts @ 24.74 vs 167 @ 20.55 (he became a part-time bowler from the mid-80s onwards)

    Jimmy Adams: First 27 Tests 1963 runs @ 61.34 vs. IInd half 1049 runs @ 25.58

    Lawrence Rowe: First 14 Tests: 1285 runs @ 67.63 vs last 16 762 runs @ 27.21.

    Cheers, Venkat

  • Peter McCallum on September 5, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    I know it was a little out of the qualification but Vettori has quite the split in his batting career. 1st half P 47 I 68 NO 10 Runs 1000 HS 90 Ave 17.24 2nd half P 47 I 73 NO 13 Runs 2492 HS 140 Av 41.53 [[ Peter This analysis was inspired by, I think, Deon's comments on Vettori. Unfortunately he falls far short of the qualification criteria. Maybe I will find a way to include batsmen like Vettori in my follow-up. Ananth: ]]

  • Venkat on September 5, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Ananth, this is a good analysis and I was surprised to see one notable exception in both batting and bowling - Imran Khan's statistics through about 1982 and after in both batting and bowling - I believe he averaged over 50 post-82, almost twice his pre-82 average and likewise his bowling average may be around 20 post-82 - would appreciate if you can analyze and give us your thoughts. Also, so long as this is not a disscetion into equal halves, Gary Sobers and Rohan Kanhai pre-1957 vs. post 1957. Thanks. [[ Venkat Imtran falls short in the runs criteria. However pl see my response to Peter on Vettori. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on September 5, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    Instead of 52 tests consecutive strech, strech of 80 innings will be lot better. Only one batsman has scored more than 5000 runs in consectuive 80 innings other than Don bradman. Ricky ponting has scored 5052 runs in 80 innings from his 102nd test inning upto 181st. This is best after Bradman.

    Kallis has best average of 76.41 in 80-innings strech. he has scored 4661 runs from his 82nd upto 161st innings. This is best after bradman. [[ Arjun If you have already created a table, as against putting in one-off queries, pl send me the table, in .txt format, for publication a la Jeff. Else I will do the work myself after couple of days. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • Bhaskar on September 21, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    Ponting's Career into 2 halves:-

    Dec 1995 - Jul 2003 M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 68 107 13 4797 206 51.03 17 17 6

    Aug 2003 - Till now M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 68 122 13 6548 257 60.07 21 31 5

  • Bhaskar on September 21, 2009, 13:28 GMT

    Sachin's Career split into 2 halves:-

    Nov 1989 - Feb 2001 M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 79 125 13 6416 217 57.28 24 24 7

    Mar 2001 - Till Now M I NO R HS Avg 100 50 0 80 136 14 6357 248* 52.10 18 29 7

    This is amazing consistency.....

  • a133936 on September 6, 2009, 15:43 GMT

    Split Sachin's career three ways:

    Period T I NO Runs HS Ave 100s 50s 0s 1989-1996 46 70 7 3106 179 49.30 10 15 4 1997-2002 59 99 9 5705 217 63.38 21 20 6 2003-2009 54 92 11 3962 248* 48.91 11 18 4

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 6, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Dear Ananth, Nice article once again!

    Brian Lara's career has three segments 1. In first 31 test matches in 52 innings, he scored 3048 runs with the help of 7 centuries and 16 half centuries with batting average 60.96.

    2. Then in 49 test matches he scored 3485 runs with help of 8 centuries and 17 half centuries with batting average 40.05.

    So in first 80 test matches he scored 6533 runs with the help of 15 centuries and 33 half centuries with batting average 47.68.

    3. In his last 51 test matches in 91 innings, he scored 5420 runs with the help of 19 centuries and 15 half centuries with batting average 60.89.

    Totally he scored 11953 runs with help of 34 centuries and 48 half centuries with batting average 52.88. He is excellent up to .24 of his test matches and then his career is below to his standard from .24 to .61 and then from .61 to onward excellent again.

    It means that his career has two peaks and one decline and his .37 career is not up to his standard.

  • Arjun on September 5, 2009, 13:50 GMT

    Dilip Vengsarkar has had longest sequence of 28 test innings during which he averaged over 100. From his 132nd inn upto 159th inn. he scored 1819 runs at an average of 101.05 (28 inn. 10 notouts). This is best after Bradman. Considering he averaged only 42.0 over his entire career that is a remarkable achievement.

  • Mradul on September 5, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    Great Work Done! Really good analysis. One more idea coming to my mind was the batting average of some of our great Subcontinent batsmen outside the Subcontinent. I did a small analysis and found some interesting facts. Overall Average for M. Jayawardhene is around 53 which drops to 38 outside the subcontinent(28% drop) and similarly for Younis Khan it drops to around 40 (abt 21% drop). Similarly Mohd Yusuf's avg shoots upto 64 and Rahul Dravid avg goes around 57. We can do some similar analysis for players from Aus, Eng, SA and WI with their performances inside Subcontinent.

  • Venkat on September 5, 2009, 13:09 GMT

    Anath: As a follow-up to my earlier query, I decided to try out statsguru for the first time on 3 players with results thus: Imran Khan - First 44 Tests 1651 runs @ 27.98 vs. next 44 Tests 2156 runs @ 51.33; in Bowling 195 wkts @ 24.74 vs 167 @ 20.55 (he became a part-time bowler from the mid-80s onwards)

    Jimmy Adams: First 27 Tests 1963 runs @ 61.34 vs. IInd half 1049 runs @ 25.58

    Lawrence Rowe: First 14 Tests: 1285 runs @ 67.63 vs last 16 762 runs @ 27.21.

    Cheers, Venkat

  • Peter McCallum on September 5, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    I know it was a little out of the qualification but Vettori has quite the split in his batting career. 1st half P 47 I 68 NO 10 Runs 1000 HS 90 Ave 17.24 2nd half P 47 I 73 NO 13 Runs 2492 HS 140 Av 41.53 [[ Peter This analysis was inspired by, I think, Deon's comments on Vettori. Unfortunately he falls far short of the qualification criteria. Maybe I will find a way to include batsmen like Vettori in my follow-up. Ananth: ]]

  • Venkat on September 5, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Ananth, this is a good analysis and I was surprised to see one notable exception in both batting and bowling - Imran Khan's statistics through about 1982 and after in both batting and bowling - I believe he averaged over 50 post-82, almost twice his pre-82 average and likewise his bowling average may be around 20 post-82 - would appreciate if you can analyze and give us your thoughts. Also, so long as this is not a disscetion into equal halves, Gary Sobers and Rohan Kanhai pre-1957 vs. post 1957. Thanks. [[ Venkat Imtran falls short in the runs criteria. However pl see my response to Peter on Vettori. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on September 5, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    Instead of 52 tests consecutive strech, strech of 80 innings will be lot better. Only one batsman has scored more than 5000 runs in consectuive 80 innings other than Don bradman. Ricky ponting has scored 5052 runs in 80 innings from his 102nd test inning upto 181st. This is best after Bradman.

    Kallis has best average of 76.41 in 80-innings strech. he has scored 4661 runs from his 82nd upto 161st innings. This is best after bradman. [[ Arjun If you have already created a table, as against putting in one-off queries, pl send me the table, in .txt format, for publication a la Jeff. Else I will do the work myself after couple of days. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • Aaron on September 5, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    They used to show a graph on TV years ago that had bars showing every innings a batman played with his average superimposed over the top in the form of a line. The average was adjusted after each innings so you could see very quickly how a career had progressed - for instance the classic situation where the average started off low, then rose throughout the career and tailed off near the end.

    I mention this because a graph of this nature imparts the sort of information we're discussing here in a very efficient manner - the nature of a player's career quickly becomes apparent, and there is no need to decide where to split a career in half.

    Perhaps to be more accurate the graph could show the average for the last 10 or 20 matches - in the same way we show the runs-per-over for the last 5 overs as a gauge of the batting side's momentum. [[ Aaron The problem with graphic images is that it is perfect when the commentators, or anyone else, for that matter, want to show one player's career on the screen. What do we do when we want to compare over 100 players and find out the extremes. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on September 5, 2009, 9:00 GMT

    Ananth, Donald Bradman’s test career comprised of 80 innings. I recommend that we used this as the definition of “standard test career”. Players with more than 80 innings could be said to have had long careers, and those with fewer than 80 innings could be said to have had short careers. We can then look at “careers within careers” for players that played 80 or more innings. This would simply involve calculating the 80-innings rolling career average for each player – and then looking at the maximum, the minimum and the difference between the two as a %. For me it would be extremely insightful to see who ends up in second place behind Sir Donald. [[ Deon 52 tests/80 innings seems to be the perfect cut-off point. I use 5000 test runs only to exclude some tail-enders. A combined checking of 5000 runs/52 tests will probably will have around 100 players. Your idea and Arjun's combined together will mean I look for the best 52-test stretch in any player's career. Will do. For the follow-up article. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on September 5, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Instead of splitting careers in two-third or likewise parts, it would be more interesting to create a table of 'Best half'. 'Best Half' is a sequence of consecutive half tests played by batsmen/bowler at any stage of his career. eg. A batsman played 76 tests, he averaged best form his 10th to 47th test; that would be his best half. [[ Arjun If you have not already done so, can you please have a look at the streaks article I had referred to earlier. It is titled "The highest peaks and lowest troughs in player careers" and it was published almost exactly an year back. There I have done a similar type of analysis. The idea can always be re-visited with more inputs. Ananth: ]]

  • Kris on September 5, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    Considering that most batsmen take a while before hitting top gear, then they are at their peaks for some time and then tend to fade away towards retirement a ratio of 30:40:30(or 20:60:20) may be appropriate. Not many will fare too well in the beginning and last 30(20)%. The in between 40(60)% will probably be the best years for most players.

  • Ashik Uzzaman on September 5, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    It was specially interesting to see the data of batsmen in the 10000 clubs!Thanks Ananth.

  • Russ on September 5, 2009, 0:56 GMT

    Ananth, luck needs no explanation. If Laker's '56 results were in the first half of his career, not the second, his numbers would be more than reversed (15.28 vs 31.99). The fact that he has significant variation over his career tells you no more and no less, than at one point in his career, he was blessed with a near perfect summer (weather having no small part to play in that result). Similar things could be said about just about every other difference mentioned above. The reason's might be to do with mid-career bulges, or changes in bowling attacks, or something else, but if so, those things should be tested empirically and properly. Examining the randomness of a player's career and proclaiming some insight into it is akin to reading chicken entrails.

    What the analysis shows is that (assuming the two halves of a career should be equal) the standard deviation of a player's average over more than 20 tests is around 25%. Even an established average is a poor predictor.

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 17:03 GMT

    Excellent article on peaks and troughs. But I feel that 10-15 matches at superb figures (avg of 100+) are achieved by average players also. However maintaining even 60+ over 50 matches is done by the class acts.

    However on another note, when i went through the article I saw Ponting had a lean patch during innings 61-70. This made me go back to his numbers and revise my demarkation as below.

    M Inn NO Runs Avg 100s 45 71 8 2552 40.5 7 (First 45) 61 106 17 6496 72.99 25 (Middle) 30 52 1 2297 45.03 6 (Last 30)

    This is again the big problem. Stats analysis should be objective and I being subjective made a mistake. The average below 40 for the first 30 matches got me.

    This analysis (Instead of streaks/troughs this will be Golden Periods) should be for a very limited set of players (50 bat + 50 Bowl). Perhaps you can do the necessary calculation using your database (We always claim a metre given a cm). [[ Raghav This article was the equivalent of, say, the serve in Tennis. We will trade strokes and come to a conclusion. Both your and Abhi's work seems to me to indicate that the split should not be down the middle but rather a third and two-third. I will wait for other comments and, maybe, do a quick follow-up on these lines. Thanks to you and Abhi. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on September 4, 2009, 16:11 GMT

    Well, here’s Hayden’s approx career graph: Debut -01/09/01: 31 matches @38.79 Thence -31/12/05: 57 matches @59.94 Thence-retirement: 25 matches @ 40.25

    Typical mid career bulge if you ask me. This 50:50 split is misleading. My point is that with most late 90s to 2000s batsmen you will probably find a mid 2000s bulge. But with most other batsmen of other eras you will probably get a bulge somewhere midcareer when aged between 28-34.

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 15:45 GMT

    Abhi,

    As Ananth has said this is not that complicated. And different players have different cycles. While Ananth has an excellent database and methods at his disposal, using simple cumulative and reverse cumulative averages one can do the exercise.

    The problem is that here I am using my judgement for the watershed moments rather than a formula. Statistical analysis should be fully objective, which I cannot do with cricinfo ony.

    Following is my demarkation for Ponting. M Inn NO Runs Avg 100s 30 47 4 1661 38.62 4 (First 30) 76 130 21 7387 67.77 28 (Middle) 30 52 1 2297 45.03 6 (Last 30)

    Notice that each period should be sufficiently large that it cannot be called a purple/lean patch. Thus one should avoid batches of 10-15 matches only where a player may have Bradmanesque figures. I think somewhere above 25 matches should be a cutoff to make a time period in a career. [[ Raghav I like the idea. However please have a look at the streaks article I had referred to earlier. It is titled "The highest peaks and lowest troughs in player careers" and it was published almost exactly an year back. there I have done a similar type of analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on September 4, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    Ananth, Raghav Bihani

    No need for such a complicated procedure. I’ve posted a comment on the previous blog towards the end. This covers most of the confusion, i.e. in the case of most batsmen the 2000s figures will be better than the 1990s. However, in the case of S.Waugh his 90s avg is 53.06 (89 matches), 18 100s. His 2000s avg. is 53.30(44 matches), 11 100s. But then his last year, 2003, yielded 996@76.61!! So taking his “last” 116 matches to mean that they yielded a consistent 58.09 does not really denote the correct picture. His best patch will be somewhere in between. So, as with most pre 2000s batsmen it will actually be a bunch of matches mid career, when at their peaks. Only in the case of the 90/2000s batsmen will you find figures improving in the 2000s irrespective of period of career. [[ Abhi There is no confusion nor a complicated procedure being suggested. You seem to be generalizing. Different batsmen have different career half formations. Otherwise how do you explain the two totally contrasting half patterns of Hayden and Younis Khan. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on September 4, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    Ananth, To me the stand-out point of this analysis is Bedser, Laker and Harvey. The Australian targeted the debutant Laker in 1948 and he succumbed spectacularly under pressure (a bit like Warne against India in 1992). Bedser was only at the beginning of his career and was grossly over-bowled in both the 1946 and 1948 series. On the flipside, Harvey was the beneficiary of possibly the most severe bowling drought in test cricket history. There just wasn’t a decent bowler to be found outside Australia during those five lean years after WWII. And the batsmen, particularly the Australians, feasted. Arthur Morris would also be on your list if you relaxed the cut-off point to 3500 runs. Of course Bradman also benefited from this, as he averaged well over 100 after WWII despite all experts being in agreement that at this point he was way past his best. [[ Deon (or Xolile - I presume that is a pseudonym), I am sure you have understood that the only factors considered are those within a player himself. I am surprised to see Hayden dropping 26%. Was it visible. Ananth: ]]

  • Russ on September 4, 2009, 12:30 GMT

    Ananth, the implication here is that there is some sort of reason for the variation seen, and there may be: some players might decline through fitness or age, without a corresponding learning period in their youth. But this analysis doesn't test this theory. All it does is show the variation in players' results. The changing nature of luck, in other words.

    The surprising aspect of the analysis is not that some players do better, some worse, but that the variation is so large, for some. [[ Russ I only make an observation on the variation. I could as well put in the bland tables and let the readers comment. There may be some explanation or not. Deon has put in a cogent explanation for Laker and Harvey. That is a new insight. Laker, Botham are two extreme examples and that is some food for thought. For that matter why should Harden drop off so drastically. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 11:48 GMT

    Just delved deeper in the tables. Botham is a real mystery.

    Bowling fell away by 53% and batting also by 25% ( first half batting better by 40%). This I found in the full tables. Based on first half he is a true genius, may be the best allrounder.

    But then he became rather ordinary. A player would not be in the team if the last 50 Tests came at the start of one's career. [[ Raghav I was in England between 1977 and 1979. People were talking of another Bradman and I sincerely felt that it was not an exaggeration. At the end of 25 tests (in 1980), he had scored 1336 runs at 40.48 and taken 142 wickets (nearly 6 wpt) at 18.49. These are difficult-to-believe figures. Then he fell off. Maybe because of the captaincy fiasco. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Good Analysis. But somewhere, the numbers hide the story.

    "For consistency one need not look beyond Jack Hobbs. He has only a second decimal difference in his second half average to the first half. Steve Waugh and Andrew Strauss are close to achieving this perfection."

    Steve Waugh (split into roughly one third and two thirds) M Inn Runs Avg 52 80 2503 36.27( First 52 tests) 116 180 8424 58.09 ( Last 116 tests)

    A dramatic improvement of 60% over the approximate the last 2/3 of his career. He also scored 28 of his 32 hundreds in the later segment. This not a purple patch analysis as both parts are significantly large (equal to careers of many cricketers) However, split into 2 equal halves he is the epitome of consistency.

    Can we have a analysis which divides player careers from watershed moments rather than 50-50. I know one will have to look at each player individually, but some interesting results may show up. [[ Raghav One thing I am certain of. Give you guys a centimetre and you will claim a metre. That is a valid point and let me add to the list of things to be done. Tough job since I have to find a way to build an algorithm to automatically determine such wide variations within a single career. Can you look at the article I did a few months back on streaks, both at the high end and low end. Ananth: ]]

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  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Good Analysis. But somewhere, the numbers hide the story.

    "For consistency one need not look beyond Jack Hobbs. He has only a second decimal difference in his second half average to the first half. Steve Waugh and Andrew Strauss are close to achieving this perfection."

    Steve Waugh (split into roughly one third and two thirds) M Inn Runs Avg 52 80 2503 36.27( First 52 tests) 116 180 8424 58.09 ( Last 116 tests)

    A dramatic improvement of 60% over the approximate the last 2/3 of his career. He also scored 28 of his 32 hundreds in the later segment. This not a purple patch analysis as both parts are significantly large (equal to careers of many cricketers) However, split into 2 equal halves he is the epitome of consistency.

    Can we have a analysis which divides player careers from watershed moments rather than 50-50. I know one will have to look at each player individually, but some interesting results may show up. [[ Raghav One thing I am certain of. Give you guys a centimetre and you will claim a metre. That is a valid point and let me add to the list of things to be done. Tough job since I have to find a way to build an algorithm to automatically determine such wide variations within a single career. Can you look at the article I did a few months back on streaks, both at the high end and low end. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 11:48 GMT

    Just delved deeper in the tables. Botham is a real mystery.

    Bowling fell away by 53% and batting also by 25% ( first half batting better by 40%). This I found in the full tables. Based on first half he is a true genius, may be the best allrounder.

    But then he became rather ordinary. A player would not be in the team if the last 50 Tests came at the start of one's career. [[ Raghav I was in England between 1977 and 1979. People were talking of another Bradman and I sincerely felt that it was not an exaggeration. At the end of 25 tests (in 1980), he had scored 1336 runs at 40.48 and taken 142 wickets (nearly 6 wpt) at 18.49. These are difficult-to-believe figures. Then he fell off. Maybe because of the captaincy fiasco. Ananth: ]]

  • Russ on September 4, 2009, 12:30 GMT

    Ananth, the implication here is that there is some sort of reason for the variation seen, and there may be: some players might decline through fitness or age, without a corresponding learning period in their youth. But this analysis doesn't test this theory. All it does is show the variation in players' results. The changing nature of luck, in other words.

    The surprising aspect of the analysis is not that some players do better, some worse, but that the variation is so large, for some. [[ Russ I only make an observation on the variation. I could as well put in the bland tables and let the readers comment. There may be some explanation or not. Deon has put in a cogent explanation for Laker and Harvey. That is a new insight. Laker, Botham are two extreme examples and that is some food for thought. For that matter why should Harden drop off so drastically. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on September 4, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    Ananth, To me the stand-out point of this analysis is Bedser, Laker and Harvey. The Australian targeted the debutant Laker in 1948 and he succumbed spectacularly under pressure (a bit like Warne against India in 1992). Bedser was only at the beginning of his career and was grossly over-bowled in both the 1946 and 1948 series. On the flipside, Harvey was the beneficiary of possibly the most severe bowling drought in test cricket history. There just wasn’t a decent bowler to be found outside Australia during those five lean years after WWII. And the batsmen, particularly the Australians, feasted. Arthur Morris would also be on your list if you relaxed the cut-off point to 3500 runs. Of course Bradman also benefited from this, as he averaged well over 100 after WWII despite all experts being in agreement that at this point he was way past his best. [[ Deon (or Xolile - I presume that is a pseudonym), I am sure you have understood that the only factors considered are those within a player himself. I am surprised to see Hayden dropping 26%. Was it visible. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on September 4, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    Ananth, Raghav Bihani

    No need for such a complicated procedure. I’ve posted a comment on the previous blog towards the end. This covers most of the confusion, i.e. in the case of most batsmen the 2000s figures will be better than the 1990s. However, in the case of S.Waugh his 90s avg is 53.06 (89 matches), 18 100s. His 2000s avg. is 53.30(44 matches), 11 100s. But then his last year, 2003, yielded 996@76.61!! So taking his “last” 116 matches to mean that they yielded a consistent 58.09 does not really denote the correct picture. His best patch will be somewhere in between. So, as with most pre 2000s batsmen it will actually be a bunch of matches mid career, when at their peaks. Only in the case of the 90/2000s batsmen will you find figures improving in the 2000s irrespective of period of career. [[ Abhi There is no confusion nor a complicated procedure being suggested. You seem to be generalizing. Different batsmen have different career half formations. Otherwise how do you explain the two totally contrasting half patterns of Hayden and Younis Khan. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 15:45 GMT

    Abhi,

    As Ananth has said this is not that complicated. And different players have different cycles. While Ananth has an excellent database and methods at his disposal, using simple cumulative and reverse cumulative averages one can do the exercise.

    The problem is that here I am using my judgement for the watershed moments rather than a formula. Statistical analysis should be fully objective, which I cannot do with cricinfo ony.

    Following is my demarkation for Ponting. M Inn NO Runs Avg 100s 30 47 4 1661 38.62 4 (First 30) 76 130 21 7387 67.77 28 (Middle) 30 52 1 2297 45.03 6 (Last 30)

    Notice that each period should be sufficiently large that it cannot be called a purple/lean patch. Thus one should avoid batches of 10-15 matches only where a player may have Bradmanesque figures. I think somewhere above 25 matches should be a cutoff to make a time period in a career. [[ Raghav I like the idea. However please have a look at the streaks article I had referred to earlier. It is titled "The highest peaks and lowest troughs in player careers" and it was published almost exactly an year back. there I have done a similar type of analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on September 4, 2009, 16:11 GMT

    Well, here’s Hayden’s approx career graph: Debut -01/09/01: 31 matches @38.79 Thence -31/12/05: 57 matches @59.94 Thence-retirement: 25 matches @ 40.25

    Typical mid career bulge if you ask me. This 50:50 split is misleading. My point is that with most late 90s to 2000s batsmen you will probably find a mid 2000s bulge. But with most other batsmen of other eras you will probably get a bulge somewhere midcareer when aged between 28-34.

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2009, 17:03 GMT

    Excellent article on peaks and troughs. But I feel that 10-15 matches at superb figures (avg of 100+) are achieved by average players also. However maintaining even 60+ over 50 matches is done by the class acts.

    However on another note, when i went through the article I saw Ponting had a lean patch during innings 61-70. This made me go back to his numbers and revise my demarkation as below.

    M Inn NO Runs Avg 100s 45 71 8 2552 40.5 7 (First 45) 61 106 17 6496 72.99 25 (Middle) 30 52 1 2297 45.03 6 (Last 30)

    This is again the big problem. Stats analysis should be objective and I being subjective made a mistake. The average below 40 for the first 30 matches got me.

    This analysis (Instead of streaks/troughs this will be Golden Periods) should be for a very limited set of players (50 bat + 50 Bowl). Perhaps you can do the necessary calculation using your database (We always claim a metre given a cm). [[ Raghav This article was the equivalent of, say, the serve in Tennis. We will trade strokes and come to a conclusion. Both your and Abhi's work seems to me to indicate that the split should not be down the middle but rather a third and two-third. I will wait for other comments and, maybe, do a quick follow-up on these lines. Thanks to you and Abhi. Ananth: ]]

  • Russ on September 5, 2009, 0:56 GMT

    Ananth, luck needs no explanation. If Laker's '56 results were in the first half of his career, not the second, his numbers would be more than reversed (15.28 vs 31.99). The fact that he has significant variation over his career tells you no more and no less, than at one point in his career, he was blessed with a near perfect summer (weather having no small part to play in that result). Similar things could be said about just about every other difference mentioned above. The reason's might be to do with mid-career bulges, or changes in bowling attacks, or something else, but if so, those things should be tested empirically and properly. Examining the randomness of a player's career and proclaiming some insight into it is akin to reading chicken entrails.

    What the analysis shows is that (assuming the two halves of a career should be equal) the standard deviation of a player's average over more than 20 tests is around 25%. Even an established average is a poor predictor.

  • Ashik Uzzaman on September 5, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    It was specially interesting to see the data of batsmen in the 10000 clubs!Thanks Ananth.