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

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

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