Batting September 11, 2009

Follow-up on comparing halves of players' careers

There were two very good suggestions to the piece I did last week, which were worth following up
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There were two very good suggestions to the above referenced article which were worth following up. One was by Arjun to have the datum of 80 innings (Bradman's career) and see what is/was the best streak in players' career. The other was Abhi/Kris's suggestion that I could look at the career in three parts, rather than two, since in most careers there is a slow start, a spurt and a slow finish. I have completed these two tables and presented these here.

The usual criteria apply. For the first table, the minimum is 80 innings and a batting average exceeding 25.00. For the second, I have retained the mid-point limits of 4000 runs and 45 Tests as the cut-off for batsmen.

Test Batsmen: Analyzing the three career splits

SNo.For Batsman         |<---Career---->|Start-third| Mid-third| End-third
|Mat  Runs  Avge|Runs   Avge|Runs  Avge|Runs   Avge
|               |           |          |
1.Aus Bradman D.G     | 52  6996 99.94|2229  96.91|2643 97.89|2124 106.20
2.Eng Sutcliffe H     | 54  4555 60.73|1805  78.48|1537 56.93|1213  48.52
3.Eng Barrington K.F  | 82  6806 58.67|2111  54.13|2379 62.61|2316  59.38
4.Win EdeC Weekes     | 48  4455 58.62|1602  66.75|1643 63.19|1210  46.54
5.Eng Hammond W.R     | 85  7249 58.46|2519  58.58|2396 61.44|2334  55.57
6.Win Sobers G.St.A   | 93  8032 57.78|2781  61.80|2783 60.50|2468  51.42
7.Eng Hobbs J.B       | 61  5410 56.95|1773  57.19|2019 63.09|1618  50.56
8.Eng Hutton L        | 79  6971 56.67|2193  56.23|2661 59.13|2117  54.28
9.Aus Ponting R.T     |136 11341 55.87|2535  40.89|4530 68.64|4276  57.01
10.Slk Sangakkara K.C  | 85  7308 55.36|1951  47.59|2258 48.04|3099  70.43
11.Pak Mohammad Yousuf | 82  7023 54.87|1712  40.76|2273 56.83|3038  66.04
12.Saf Kallis J.H      |131 10277 54.66|2678  43.19|4209 67.89|3390  52.97
13.Ind Tendulkar S.R   |159 12773 54.59|3617  50.24|5202 63.44|3954  49.42
14.Aus Chappell G.S    | 87  7110 53.86|2310  53.72|2394 53.20|2406  54.68
15.Slk Jayawardene D.P.|107  8750 53.35|2653  49.13|2469 46.58|3628  63.65
16.Win Lara B.C        |131 11953 52.89|3884  54.70|3504 44.92|4565  59.29
17.Pak Javed Miandad   |124  8832 52.57|3074  53.93|2817 52.17|2941  51.60
18.Ind Dravid R        |134 10823 52.54|3772  54.67|4001 61.55|3050  42.36
19.Zim Flower A        | 63  4794 51.55|1310  43.67|1488 46.50|1996  64.39
20.Ind Gavaskar S.M    |125 10122 51.12|3951  53.39|3362 54.23|2809  45.31

Average 45.91 44.28 46.84 45.10 (for all 101 batsmen)

The average of the averages figures indicates a clear move up of 5.7% from the first third to second third and a clear drop of 3.8% from the second to the third. Remember that these are on the grand average figure. Individual batsmen have clear move up and move down patterns.

Barrington, Hobbs, Hutton, Ponting (in a big way), Kallis (huge variations), Tendulkar, Dravid (again in a big way) are amongst the ones who have clearly identified low, up, low patterns.

Note the consistency across the complete career of Greg Chappell and Javed Miandad.

Sobers and Gavaskar are amongst those who have had great starts but fallen off drastically.

Bradman, Lara, Sangakkara, Mohammad Yousuf and Flower are those who have finished their careers very strongly.

To view the complete list, please click here.

Test Batsmen: By average sustained in 80+ innings

SNo.For Batsman                Start       Finish    Inns No Runs   Avge
Ins  Year     Ins  Year

1.Aus Bradman D.G 1 (1928) to 80 (1948) 80 10 6996 99.94 2.Saf Kallis J.H 82 (2001) to 161 (2006) 80 19 4661 76.41 3.Aus Ponting R.T 87 (2002) to 178 (2006) 92 14 5904 75.69 4.Win Sobers G.St.A 28 (1958) to 111 (1968) 84 13 5283 74.41 5.Ind Dravid R 66 (2000) to 149 (2005) 84 14 4809 68.70 6.Eng Barrington K.F 34 (1961) to 121 (1968) 88 12 5154 67.82 7.Pak Mohammad Yousuf 42 (2000) to 122 (2006) 81 7 5008 67.68 8.Ind Tendulkar S.R 69 (1996) to 148 (2002) 80 8 4782 66.42 9.Eng Hutton L 42 (1947) to 123 (1954) 82 11 4687 66.01 10.Aus Hayden M.L 23 (2001) to 102 (2004) 80 8 4744 65.89 11.Eng Hammond W.R 15 (1928) to 97 (1936) 83 12 4672 65.80 12.Aus Waugh S.R 82 (1993) to 176 (1999) 95 23 4699 65.26 13.Slk Sangakkara K.C 61 (2004) to 142 (2009) 82 6 4899 64.46 14.Aus Border A.R 88 (1982) to 168 (1988) 81 14 4295 64.10 15.Win Lara B.C 126 (2000) to 205 (2005) 80 2 4985 63.91 16.Eng Hobbs J.B 15 (1910) to 95 (1930) 81 5 4827 63.51 17.Pak Inzamam-ul-Haq 91 (1999) to 175 (2005) 85 9 4795 63.09 18.Win Chanderpaul S 123 (2004) to 202 (2009) 80 17 3947 62.65 19.Eng Sutcliffe H 1 (1924) to 80 (1934) 80 9 4425 62.32 20.Pak Javed Miandad 72 (1982) to 152 (1989) 81 6 4604 61.39

Leaving the colossus outside the discussions, there is a surprise in the second position. I have kept repeating myself many a time. In all the discussions centering around Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting, Kallis has been ignored completely. People point to his lack of wicket-taking ability, forgetting the outstanding batting skills. He and Ponting are the only two batsmen who have averaged over 75 in a consecutive 80+ innings stretch. These two are closely followed by Sobers whose stretch obviously includes the 365*.

Dravid's purple patch comes next, followed by the recent stretch of Yousuf and the mid-career brilliance of Tendulkar. Hutton (not including his 364) and Hayden (including his 380) complete the top-10.

It can be seen that the 80+ innings stretch averages of the last 15 batsmen in the table are within 6 runs.

To view the complete list, please click here.

Test Batsmen: By average sustained in exactly 80 innings

SNo.For Batsman                Start       Finish   Inns No Runs   Avge
Ins  Year     Ins  Year

1.Aus Bradman D.G 1 (1928) to 80 (1948) 80 10 6996 99.94 2.Saf Kallis J.H 82 (2001) to 161 (2006) 80 19 4661 76.41 3.Aus Ponting R.T 102 (2003) to 181 (2006) 80 13 5048 75.34 4.Win Sobers G.St.A 28 (1958) to 107 (1968) 80 12 4969 73.07 5.Ind Dravid R 96 (2002) to 175 (2006) 80 12 4652 68.41 6.Pak Mohammad Yousuf 42 (2000) to 121 (2006) 80 7 4884 66.90 7.Ind Tendulkar S.R 69 (1996) to 148 (2002) 80 8 4782 66.42 8.Aus Hayden M.L 23 (2001) to 102 (2004) 80 8 4744 65.89 9.Eng Hutton L 44 (1947) to 123 (1954) 80 10 4555 65.07 10.Eng Barrington K.F 27 (1961) to 106 (1966) 80 11 4462 64.67 11.Slk Sangakkara K.C 61 (2004) to 140 (2009) 80 6 4740 64.05 12.Eng Hammond W.R 15 (1928) to 94 (1936) 80 11 4416 64.00 13.Aus Border A.R 88 (1982) to 167 (1988) 80 14 4220 63.94 14.Aus Waugh S.R 77 (1993) to 156 (1998) 80 18 3963 63.92 15.Win Lara B.C 126 (2000) to 205 (2005) 80 2 4985 63.91 16.Eng Hobbs J.B 15 (1910) to 94 (1930) 80 5 4753 63.37 17.Win Chanderpaul S 123 (2004) to 202 (2009) 80 17 3947 62.65 18.Eng Sutcliffe H 1 (1924) to 80 (1934) 80 9 4425 62.32 19.Pak Inzamam-ul-Haq 100 (2000) to 179 (2006) 80 8 4470 62.08 20.Pak Javed Miandad 73 (1982) to 152 (1989) 80 5 4578 61.04

Arjun Hemnani wanted a table in which the stretch is exactly equal to 80 innings. I have created a different table and displayed the same here.

It can be seen that the exactly-80-innings average is slightly lower than that when more than 80 innings are considered since there is more flexibility in the extra innings. A below-average stretch can be more than made up with a very good sretch.

The tables look somewhat similar.

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

  • AJ on September 22, 2009, 20:50 GMT

    Since Sir Don is a given at the top of any batting lists, would it be better to compare the best 80 (or let us say all innings greater than 50) to compare a worthy challenger to the best batsman of all times title?

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 22, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Dear Shafiq, I can give your answer for not 80 innings but in different manner. Just like 80 innings with four opponents of Sir Bradman's case in which we have to include England too.

    If we count Yousuf batting average only against four opponent that are England, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and W. Indies. It is 86.81 in 50 innings with 17 centuries and 12 half centuries. His batting average against W. Indies is 101.16 with least batting average against Zimbabwe that is 68.44.

    If we include New Zealand too then his average changed to 83.33 with five opponents with 18 centuries and 15 half centuries in 59 innings.

    He scored in one year 1788 runs with nine hundred, world record with highest no. of centuries in one year. It was amazing and also I was very happy at that time how he scored nine hundred in one year.

    I think above is enough to prove himself world class batsman of 21st century.

  • Shafiq on September 21, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    Thanks, i am a onsistant reader of ur articles...it is always fantastic to find few pakistani names in record sheets. Now a question-- Can you please ind the best consecutive 80 inings table to compare with Bradman? I am sure Yusaf is still in the mid of a 'great' consecutive 80 innings.

  • Aditya Jha on September 20, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    Ananth, I agree with the "time span" being a factor when comparing the 80-innings stretch. I do hope that you'll do a detailed analysis of the "best 80 innings" by factoring in things like quality of opposition, match performance, peer average - as well as the time span factor. thanks.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 16, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Nice once again and good idea once more. It is impossible to compare any one with Bradman for 80 innings. He scored 42 fifty or plus scores in his career span from 1928-1948 in 52 test matches. Is any batsman scored 42 fifty or plus scores in his first 52 test matches.

    Yes, Gavaskar scored 5007 in his first 52 test matches as he had also managed 42 (42 are fifty plus and 20 are hundred or plus) fifty or plus innings at 27 different grounds in four continents in which seven grounds are related to home grounds with 50 or plus runs scored 4205.

    Gavaskar faced bowlers like Derek Underwood, Imran Khan, Micheal Holding, Ian Botham and Malcom Marshall, CM Old, Willis, Clark, Qasim, Lever, Hadlee and Sinkandar He lost his wickets 82 (12+11+11+8+8+6+5+5+4+4+4+4) times by these bowlers in his entire test career.

    If possible, kindly arrange any research that showing the strength of any batsman that how many leading wkt takers he had faced like in his case near to 20 bowler joined 200 clubs

  • Kris on September 15, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    Ananth, Further to my previous comment how about a “peer comparison” ratio for the best 80 inn. streak in order to judge the “intrinsic value”? [[ Kris Your comment is a very valid one. Problem is that the peer comparisons between, say test no 1135 and 1332, vary from player to player. In other words, Ponting will have a different peer value to Tendulkar for the same set of tests. I have to do a new methodology in which I build a database segment for every test combination and then remove the concerned players' own figures from that. No problems except that I am involved in two other major projects and have very limited time. Rest assured that I will do it when I can breath a bit more easily (both literally and figuratively considering that I am down with an infection !). Once again many thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Kris on September 15, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    Ananth, Besides using best “3 / 4 year period” or some such, another means of judging the true value of the best 80 inn. streak may be to include the “peer comparison” ratio during this particular streak. This would at least reduce certain advantages which may have benefited some batsmen such as conditions more suited to batting, weaker bowling, team composition etc.

  • Abhi on September 14, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    Well, my point is simply this: in ANY sport a streak is easier to maintain the shorter the period of time involved. So if you have say a 40 match “winning streak”- it is easier if the 40 matches are played over a short period of time when you are at your peak. It is much more difficult maintaining a similar streak (with the same numbers) over a much longer period of time against more varied opponents and conditions. The whole idea of all your analyses is comparing players (batsmen, bowler, allrounders) over either different or same eras. So, my point is that when any particular player had a major bulk of matches due to good fortune when he was at his peak in good conditions- then how can we compare to another who has not had the similar good fortune? Even though prima facie the numbers may look similar? So, as someone mentions, perhaps a “time” factor and not only a “number of matches” etc factor may be a better yardstick for comparisons.

  • Abhi on September 14, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    Ananth, Do you still disagree with the logic? What if McEnroe had the opportunity to play 10 grand slams in ’84 when he played as well as anyone ever has? He may well have won 8. So, if Ponting gets to play 20 Tests a year for 4 yrs at his peak, in good batting conditions, he naturally gets a much better opportunity to put on better numbers than another batsman who played 5 tests a year for 16 years in varied circumstances. Unless some sort of allowance is made for this the whole thing is completely tilted in favour of the most recent batsmen and any direct comparisons are most odious. [[ Abhi I still feel you are following a wrong premise. How can you compare a 2-week individual Grand slam with a 5-day team-based test. These are totally different types of sporting events. We can only come to an understanding and common ground if you stop comparing totally different sporting events. Make your point purely based on Cricket. Anyhow what has happened that you have such a problem. This is one of many such analysis I have done. You can accept one analysis, not another one and so on. There is no doubt that the modern batmen have played through great batting times. It is true that an average of 50+ is more likely nowadays than earlier. It is true that a 10000 run-aggregate is far more easily reachable than earlier. But it does not make the modern batsmen lesser players. They may be lesser than their figures indicate, that is all. So I suggest you take note of these facts and consider the results accordingly. I cannot be tweaking every analysis I do with all possible corrections. Ananth: ]]

  • Kris on September 13, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    Since the 2000s batsmen have a clear advantage as far as concentration of Test matches is concerned, there are perhaps two ways to neutralize this lopsidedness: 1) Use “Time” instead of no. of innings. Suppose, Ponting (or Kallis) have taken for eg.3yrs 8 mths to complete their best 80 inn. run…use this time period as a base for all batsmen instead of no. of innings which show an incredible degree of variance over time. Also, instead of aggregate runs, we simply have a minimum base runs and show only averages, since aggregate runs will again vary considerably depending on no. of Tests played. 2) Reduce the no. of innings to say 20/30.

    Otherwise, we will continue to see batsmen who have done well relatively recently dominate most such “best batsmen” lists.

  • AJ on September 22, 2009, 20:50 GMT

    Since Sir Don is a given at the top of any batting lists, would it be better to compare the best 80 (or let us say all innings greater than 50) to compare a worthy challenger to the best batsman of all times title?

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 22, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Dear Shafiq, I can give your answer for not 80 innings but in different manner. Just like 80 innings with four opponents of Sir Bradman's case in which we have to include England too.

    If we count Yousuf batting average only against four opponent that are England, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and W. Indies. It is 86.81 in 50 innings with 17 centuries and 12 half centuries. His batting average against W. Indies is 101.16 with least batting average against Zimbabwe that is 68.44.

    If we include New Zealand too then his average changed to 83.33 with five opponents with 18 centuries and 15 half centuries in 59 innings.

    He scored in one year 1788 runs with nine hundred, world record with highest no. of centuries in one year. It was amazing and also I was very happy at that time how he scored nine hundred in one year.

    I think above is enough to prove himself world class batsman of 21st century.

  • Shafiq on September 21, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    Thanks, i am a onsistant reader of ur articles...it is always fantastic to find few pakistani names in record sheets. Now a question-- Can you please ind the best consecutive 80 inings table to compare with Bradman? I am sure Yusaf is still in the mid of a 'great' consecutive 80 innings.

  • Aditya Jha on September 20, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    Ananth, I agree with the "time span" being a factor when comparing the 80-innings stretch. I do hope that you'll do a detailed analysis of the "best 80 innings" by factoring in things like quality of opposition, match performance, peer average - as well as the time span factor. thanks.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 16, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Nice once again and good idea once more. It is impossible to compare any one with Bradman for 80 innings. He scored 42 fifty or plus scores in his career span from 1928-1948 in 52 test matches. Is any batsman scored 42 fifty or plus scores in his first 52 test matches.

    Yes, Gavaskar scored 5007 in his first 52 test matches as he had also managed 42 (42 are fifty plus and 20 are hundred or plus) fifty or plus innings at 27 different grounds in four continents in which seven grounds are related to home grounds with 50 or plus runs scored 4205.

    Gavaskar faced bowlers like Derek Underwood, Imran Khan, Micheal Holding, Ian Botham and Malcom Marshall, CM Old, Willis, Clark, Qasim, Lever, Hadlee and Sinkandar He lost his wickets 82 (12+11+11+8+8+6+5+5+4+4+4+4) times by these bowlers in his entire test career.

    If possible, kindly arrange any research that showing the strength of any batsman that how many leading wkt takers he had faced like in his case near to 20 bowler joined 200 clubs

  • Kris on September 15, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    Ananth, Further to my previous comment how about a “peer comparison” ratio for the best 80 inn. streak in order to judge the “intrinsic value”? [[ Kris Your comment is a very valid one. Problem is that the peer comparisons between, say test no 1135 and 1332, vary from player to player. In other words, Ponting will have a different peer value to Tendulkar for the same set of tests. I have to do a new methodology in which I build a database segment for every test combination and then remove the concerned players' own figures from that. No problems except that I am involved in two other major projects and have very limited time. Rest assured that I will do it when I can breath a bit more easily (both literally and figuratively considering that I am down with an infection !). Once again many thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Kris on September 15, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    Ananth, Besides using best “3 / 4 year period” or some such, another means of judging the true value of the best 80 inn. streak may be to include the “peer comparison” ratio during this particular streak. This would at least reduce certain advantages which may have benefited some batsmen such as conditions more suited to batting, weaker bowling, team composition etc.

  • Abhi on September 14, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    Well, my point is simply this: in ANY sport a streak is easier to maintain the shorter the period of time involved. So if you have say a 40 match “winning streak”- it is easier if the 40 matches are played over a short period of time when you are at your peak. It is much more difficult maintaining a similar streak (with the same numbers) over a much longer period of time against more varied opponents and conditions. The whole idea of all your analyses is comparing players (batsmen, bowler, allrounders) over either different or same eras. So, my point is that when any particular player had a major bulk of matches due to good fortune when he was at his peak in good conditions- then how can we compare to another who has not had the similar good fortune? Even though prima facie the numbers may look similar? So, as someone mentions, perhaps a “time” factor and not only a “number of matches” etc factor may be a better yardstick for comparisons.

  • Abhi on September 14, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    Ananth, Do you still disagree with the logic? What if McEnroe had the opportunity to play 10 grand slams in ’84 when he played as well as anyone ever has? He may well have won 8. So, if Ponting gets to play 20 Tests a year for 4 yrs at his peak, in good batting conditions, he naturally gets a much better opportunity to put on better numbers than another batsman who played 5 tests a year for 16 years in varied circumstances. Unless some sort of allowance is made for this the whole thing is completely tilted in favour of the most recent batsmen and any direct comparisons are most odious. [[ Abhi I still feel you are following a wrong premise. How can you compare a 2-week individual Grand slam with a 5-day team-based test. These are totally different types of sporting events. We can only come to an understanding and common ground if you stop comparing totally different sporting events. Make your point purely based on Cricket. Anyhow what has happened that you have such a problem. This is one of many such analysis I have done. You can accept one analysis, not another one and so on. There is no doubt that the modern batmen have played through great batting times. It is true that an average of 50+ is more likely nowadays than earlier. It is true that a 10000 run-aggregate is far more easily reachable than earlier. But it does not make the modern batsmen lesser players. They may be lesser than their figures indicate, that is all. So I suggest you take note of these facts and consider the results accordingly. I cannot be tweaking every analysis I do with all possible corrections. Ananth: ]]

  • Kris on September 13, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    Since the 2000s batsmen have a clear advantage as far as concentration of Test matches is concerned, there are perhaps two ways to neutralize this lopsidedness: 1) Use “Time” instead of no. of innings. Suppose, Ponting (or Kallis) have taken for eg.3yrs 8 mths to complete their best 80 inn. run…use this time period as a base for all batsmen instead of no. of innings which show an incredible degree of variance over time. Also, instead of aggregate runs, we simply have a minimum base runs and show only averages, since aggregate runs will again vary considerably depending on no. of Tests played. 2) Reduce the no. of innings to say 20/30.

    Otherwise, we will continue to see batsmen who have done well relatively recently dominate most such “best batsmen” lists.

  • Abhi on September 13, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    1) Tennis and golf have maintained their traditions, but to a degree. The kind of revolution in tennis/golf equipment is way beyond that of cricket. Bats may be better, but they are still made of wood. (Lillee tried his aluminum bat, but we know what happened). Also, it is mainly Wimbledon, French which have maintained traditions. The Aus open was the step child of grand slams for a long time and a lot of top players didn’t even bother to play there in the 70/80s. The US open is one rock n roll party. There are plenty of innovations in tennis too. [[ Abhi Equipment changes are part of evolution and availability of better materials. However the game of Cricket is undergoing a sea-change. Australian Open had a problem only because of the year-end scheduling. Once it moved forward to Jan, over a period of time, it has regained is pre-eminence. US Open is one long party, but one of the most difficult to win. 5 years from now, we will still have the same 4 Opens with possibly Djoko/Potro challenging Nadal/Murray. Where would Cricket be 5 years from now, I have no idea. Anyhow, not a bad idea to get back to Cricket. Ananth: ]] There was no “tradition” in cricket of X number of tests per year to start with. Given the format of the game and the increasing number of countries playing , this is impossible to do. So, though some traditions may have been maintained cricket too has maintained some, though not all, of course.

    2) But, the main point: it is impossible to compare an 80 inn. streak over 20(or even 10yrs) to one achieved over 3 / 4 yrs. The odds of achieving success when several tests are crammed into a short period suitable for batting , at a particular batsmens peak, greatly benefit modern (2000s) batsmen- which is exactly what is backed up by the data. The issue is not Federer/Woods greatness here (which is beyond dispute)- PRECISELY because of the cap on grand slams which do not enable a player to put up freak numbers in a particular peak period beyond the fixed stipulated point.

  • Abhi on September 13, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Al, I agree. But a better example would be: Federer retires shortly with say 15 grand slams. Over the course of the next 2 years, with Nadal fully fit and in top form, they change the schedule to say 10 slams a year. Nadal wins 5 each in the next two years. He ends up with 16 grand slams. Therefore, in most direct statistical comparisons with grand slams as the dominating factor- he would end up as “better” than Federer! A version of this is what has take place in cricket-Very difficult to compare in these circumstances. [[ Abhi/Ali While I understand the idea behind the comparisons with Tennis, in practice these do not make sense. Since , when it comes to preserving tradition and history, Tennis and Golf are way ahead of sports like Cricket. 4 Grand Slams and 4 Majors have been there for the past 100 years. Not one new one has been added. One of the reasons why, the 14 Grand Slams or 19 Majors are Himalayan achievements and as and when these are reached or breached, the accolades come in , not from ordinary people like us, but from other great peers such as Sampras, Borg, McEnroe, Agass and, Nicklaus/Palmer/Watson (as and when Woods reaches 19). Also comparisons should be with number of titles won (say World Cup) , not runs scored. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 13, 2009, 3:54 GMT

    Arjun: I am not going to rush into the bowler streak work. However we could use Syd Barnes' career (27 tests/50 innspells/189 wkts) as the datum since that, if not as dominating as Bradman's was, was nearly so. I will do this at a later date.

  • Arjun on September 12, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    Exactly 80-innings table looks better since avg. and aggegate of Top players can be compared.(link of complete list is missing)

    What about the forgotten species 'Bowlers' ? can similar tables be created for bowlers with stretch of say, 25 tests or 50 innspells. [[ Arjun One thing no one can accuse me is that I forget the bowlers. I have almost always given them their due importance. Only thing is the number 80 (innings played by Bradman) had that x-factor. I don't have that number for bowlers. Let us look at some numbers. Ananth: ]]

  • Al on September 12, 2009, 13:35 GMT

    Perhaps another reason for the 2000s batting run glut could be not only ideal batting conditions but it also looks like a lot of tests were squeezed into a very short period coinciding with this period. The Don took 20 yrs to cover 80 inn. Sobers, Sutcliffe etc 10yrs. Mainly in the 2000s do you get such huge runs and avg. over 80 inns. in very very short spans as 3yrs (Ponting,Hayden) or 4/5 yrs (Dravid,Sanga,Lara,Chandrapaul etc)…again all concentrated from 2000-09.

    This is a particular problem with cricket. In tennis, for eg, you have 4 grand slams a year-period. So, longevity can be more or less accounted for across eras. But how do you compare a batsman who had 3 amazing yrs at his peak , in ideal batting conditions,in which he played 80 inns. to one who played the same amount of inns but over a much longer period of time??

    It is heavily skewed in favour of the modern batsmen. Which is one of the reasons why the “best batsmen” lists feature modern batsmen so heavily. It is akin to say Federer/Nadal being allowed to play 16 grand slams in a single year at their peaks. So if they then end up winning 15 slams over 2 years and we then directly compare these numbers to another player a few years back who won 15 but over 10yrs-we naturally end up with results in favour of the modern players. Luckily, we don’t have this problem in tennis.

    But we certainly do in cricket. So, till we can make an allowance for this we will never be able to accurately compare stats across even a few years (never mind entire eras)

  • Aditya Jha on September 12, 2009, 12:11 GMT

    Ananth - over the last few months, you and the readers have combined to produce, unarguably, the most nuanced statistical analysis of the cricketers. Thank you so much for it. I think that now, you should apply your other tools to the "80-innings block" - stuff like match performance etc. Of course, the "career data" will have to be adapted a bit since all careers are 80 innings long; but quality of opposition etc should be valid.

    whatever be the result of your analysis, it is clear that the answer to the question "after Don, who?" is not just a name; it's a name with a period - for example, Ponting between 2003-2006 - or whoever between whenever and whenever.

  • Ananth on September 12, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Arjun, I have since added a table incorporating a limit of exactly 80 innings.

  • Arjun on September 12, 2009, 6:53 GMT

    I think stretch of condecutive 80 innings and not 80+ innings would be lot better in comparing total aggregate of runs ( also avgs.). How can ponting's 94 inns be compared to 80 inns of lara. [[ Arjun I take your point. Probably I would do a different table, this time limiting to the best-80 innings stretch and post, say in a day or two. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on September 12, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Ananth, Thank you for these analyses. A small point, but your comment that Kallis “lacks wicket-taking ability” is a bit harsh. His job in the SA side, other than leading the batting line-up, is to bowl 130 balls per match into the wind with that old ball. He does this with a career strike rate of 65. If you comparer this to other second change pace bowlers he is in the top quartile. He has taken more wickets than any other second change pace bowler in the history of cricket – by some distance. [[ Deon For once you have missed out. I never commented on Kallis' lack of wicket-taking ability. Given below is the extract from the article. ""I have kept repeating myself many a time. In all the discussions centering around Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting, Kallis has been ignored completely. People point to his lack of wicket-taking ability, forgetting the outstanding batting skills. He and Ponting are the only two batsmen who have averaged over 75 in a consecutive 80+ innings stretch."" I have only commented with the other readers' obsession. Me, I think he is right there at the top as a player, batsman and all-rounder. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on September 12, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    1)@Dominic: This is something I could never understand. Batting is as much about staying “not out” as scoring runs. In some cases, such as match saving situations the ability to stay at the crease is MORE important than scoring fast runs. The fast scoring batsmen are given all the plaudits but ,especially in Test cricket, it is more often the attritional hard fought innings that are of greater value. Also, there is a strong line of thought, among a lot of cricketers and statisticians, that if a batsman had been given the opportunity to complete his “Not out” innings his average would have been HIGHER! The simple logic behind this is that a “not out” batsman is probably “in”.

    Also, this whole concept of “playing for oneself” is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, cricket is a team game, but when batting to a certain extent you have to play for oneself. It is ridiculous to state that top batsmen “play for themselves”…after a few matches any right minded selectors would show them the door. So, for greater number of“not outs” you should actually consider the fact that the batsman would in all probability have actually had a HIGHER avg. if allowed to complete his innings. The batsman who is out, is well out, and cannot add anymore runs. [[ Abhi Well put. One of the most significant and heart-stopping tests in recent memory was the Cardiff one. Did anybody bother about the runs scored or the rate of scoring. In sheer entertainment value, those last 2 hours were better than anything the ODIs/T20s could offer. Test matches are as often saved as won. Drawn matches, even if through Gambhir-like slow centuries are the charm of Test cricket. Ananth: ]]

    2) Again, there is no denying the 2000s syndrome. 5 of the top 10. And 9 of the top 20 (if u include inzys streak starting 1999) had their best streaks in the 2000s. The matter has gone beyond mere coincidence.

  • Alex on September 12, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    Ananth - is it possible to add a column of the # runs scored by both teams in the matches featuring those 80+ innings? Some batsmen tend to score heavily in tall scoring matches but not otherwise.

    The period 2001-06 stands out in this table. Was it due to tame batting conditions (pitch and/or bowling) or just good batsmen hitting their prime? The above additional column will help shed some light on it.

  • Dominic on September 12, 2009, 4:04 GMT

    Very thorough analysis. But I must point out on the last chart the reason why Kallis is second is because he has such a high number of not outs...twice as many as Bradman! Its worth noting though that the batsman with the highest number of not outs (Kallis, S.Waugh, Border, Dravid, Chanderpaul) are all seen as either fighters, batsman who only batted down at 5-6, or in some cases were seen as only playing for themselves (or some combination of the three). I leave that for readers to decide who is who.

    The funny thing is if you take out the averages and go purely by the number of runs scored per the hyperlink) you get a top 6 of Bradman, Graham Smith, Ponting, Sobers, Ken Barrington and Strauss...who would have thought that! [[ The only thing I would say is that you should not use the words "playing for themselves" freely. I am not sure many would agree that Kallis, S.Waugh, Border, Dravid, Chanderpaul were, at times, playing for themeselves. Ananth: ]]

  • Unni on September 12, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    The 80-innings analysis is a great idea. When the batsman at his best stride, compare them.... this omits every batsman's troughs (invariably everyone has such a period due to whatever reasons). Only problem (as with any such analysis) is due to the unfinished strides which will start unnecessary debates...e.g we don't know when Sangakkara's / Chanderpol's stride will be finished....

  • Kris on September 12, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    Thanks a ton Ananth. MOST fascinating analysis. Kept going thru the lists for quite a while! These breakups reveal more than general composite figures. A few observations that immediately stood out: 1) What does one say about Bradman now?!! I mean “what the heck” really! He averages around a 100 ALL through an almost 20yr period! And hardly a variation through 20yrs too. Simply the greatest freak in cricket history. 2) There is an interesting series of lists by S.Rajesh recently. The fact that 5 out of the top 10 best 80 inns stretches fall in the 2000s, backs up the “2000s” argument further. 3) The big 2 after the don (and with due apologies to Kallis) Lara and Tendulkar seem to have had “opposite” career graphs! 4) Greg Chappell had a remarkably steady career. The presence of some players still very active like Sangakarra, Jaya etc tend to increase the total avg. of the last leg. Once they retire I suspect the avg. will go lower. Indeed, as suspected the last legs of careers, in general, show a distinct decline as the batsman fades towards retirement. For all of Gavaskars fans who kept insisting for years that he “retired when on top”, the figures clearly belie this.

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  • Kris on September 12, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    Thanks a ton Ananth. MOST fascinating analysis. Kept going thru the lists for quite a while! These breakups reveal more than general composite figures. A few observations that immediately stood out: 1) What does one say about Bradman now?!! I mean “what the heck” really! He averages around a 100 ALL through an almost 20yr period! And hardly a variation through 20yrs too. Simply the greatest freak in cricket history. 2) There is an interesting series of lists by S.Rajesh recently. The fact that 5 out of the top 10 best 80 inns stretches fall in the 2000s, backs up the “2000s” argument further. 3) The big 2 after the don (and with due apologies to Kallis) Lara and Tendulkar seem to have had “opposite” career graphs! 4) Greg Chappell had a remarkably steady career. The presence of some players still very active like Sangakarra, Jaya etc tend to increase the total avg. of the last leg. Once they retire I suspect the avg. will go lower. Indeed, as suspected the last legs of careers, in general, show a distinct decline as the batsman fades towards retirement. For all of Gavaskars fans who kept insisting for years that he “retired when on top”, the figures clearly belie this.

  • Unni on September 12, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    The 80-innings analysis is a great idea. When the batsman at his best stride, compare them.... this omits every batsman's troughs (invariably everyone has such a period due to whatever reasons). Only problem (as with any such analysis) is due to the unfinished strides which will start unnecessary debates...e.g we don't know when Sangakkara's / Chanderpol's stride will be finished....

  • Dominic on September 12, 2009, 4:04 GMT

    Very thorough analysis. But I must point out on the last chart the reason why Kallis is second is because he has such a high number of not outs...twice as many as Bradman! Its worth noting though that the batsman with the highest number of not outs (Kallis, S.Waugh, Border, Dravid, Chanderpaul) are all seen as either fighters, batsman who only batted down at 5-6, or in some cases were seen as only playing for themselves (or some combination of the three). I leave that for readers to decide who is who.

    The funny thing is if you take out the averages and go purely by the number of runs scored per the hyperlink) you get a top 6 of Bradman, Graham Smith, Ponting, Sobers, Ken Barrington and Strauss...who would have thought that! [[ The only thing I would say is that you should not use the words "playing for themselves" freely. I am not sure many would agree that Kallis, S.Waugh, Border, Dravid, Chanderpaul were, at times, playing for themeselves. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on September 12, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    Ananth - is it possible to add a column of the # runs scored by both teams in the matches featuring those 80+ innings? Some batsmen tend to score heavily in tall scoring matches but not otherwise.

    The period 2001-06 stands out in this table. Was it due to tame batting conditions (pitch and/or bowling) or just good batsmen hitting their prime? The above additional column will help shed some light on it.

  • Abhi on September 12, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    1)@Dominic: This is something I could never understand. Batting is as much about staying “not out” as scoring runs. In some cases, such as match saving situations the ability to stay at the crease is MORE important than scoring fast runs. The fast scoring batsmen are given all the plaudits but ,especially in Test cricket, it is more often the attritional hard fought innings that are of greater value. Also, there is a strong line of thought, among a lot of cricketers and statisticians, that if a batsman had been given the opportunity to complete his “Not out” innings his average would have been HIGHER! The simple logic behind this is that a “not out” batsman is probably “in”.

    Also, this whole concept of “playing for oneself” is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, cricket is a team game, but when batting to a certain extent you have to play for oneself. It is ridiculous to state that top batsmen “play for themselves”…after a few matches any right minded selectors would show them the door. So, for greater number of“not outs” you should actually consider the fact that the batsman would in all probability have actually had a HIGHER avg. if allowed to complete his innings. The batsman who is out, is well out, and cannot add anymore runs. [[ Abhi Well put. One of the most significant and heart-stopping tests in recent memory was the Cardiff one. Did anybody bother about the runs scored or the rate of scoring. In sheer entertainment value, those last 2 hours were better than anything the ODIs/T20s could offer. Test matches are as often saved as won. Drawn matches, even if through Gambhir-like slow centuries are the charm of Test cricket. Ananth: ]]

    2) Again, there is no denying the 2000s syndrome. 5 of the top 10. And 9 of the top 20 (if u include inzys streak starting 1999) had their best streaks in the 2000s. The matter has gone beyond mere coincidence.

  • Xolile on September 12, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Ananth, Thank you for these analyses. A small point, but your comment that Kallis “lacks wicket-taking ability” is a bit harsh. His job in the SA side, other than leading the batting line-up, is to bowl 130 balls per match into the wind with that old ball. He does this with a career strike rate of 65. If you comparer this to other second change pace bowlers he is in the top quartile. He has taken more wickets than any other second change pace bowler in the history of cricket – by some distance. [[ Deon For once you have missed out. I never commented on Kallis' lack of wicket-taking ability. Given below is the extract from the article. ""I have kept repeating myself many a time. In all the discussions centering around Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting, Kallis has been ignored completely. People point to his lack of wicket-taking ability, forgetting the outstanding batting skills. He and Ponting are the only two batsmen who have averaged over 75 in a consecutive 80+ innings stretch."" I have only commented with the other readers' obsession. Me, I think he is right there at the top as a player, batsman and all-rounder. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on September 12, 2009, 6:53 GMT

    I think stretch of condecutive 80 innings and not 80+ innings would be lot better in comparing total aggregate of runs ( also avgs.). How can ponting's 94 inns be compared to 80 inns of lara. [[ Arjun I take your point. Probably I would do a different table, this time limiting to the best-80 innings stretch and post, say in a day or two. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 12, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Arjun, I have since added a table incorporating a limit of exactly 80 innings.

  • Aditya Jha on September 12, 2009, 12:11 GMT

    Ananth - over the last few months, you and the readers have combined to produce, unarguably, the most nuanced statistical analysis of the cricketers. Thank you so much for it. I think that now, you should apply your other tools to the "80-innings block" - stuff like match performance etc. Of course, the "career data" will have to be adapted a bit since all careers are 80 innings long; but quality of opposition etc should be valid.

    whatever be the result of your analysis, it is clear that the answer to the question "after Don, who?" is not just a name; it's a name with a period - for example, Ponting between 2003-2006 - or whoever between whenever and whenever.

  • Al on September 12, 2009, 13:35 GMT

    Perhaps another reason for the 2000s batting run glut could be not only ideal batting conditions but it also looks like a lot of tests were squeezed into a very short period coinciding with this period. The Don took 20 yrs to cover 80 inn. Sobers, Sutcliffe etc 10yrs. Mainly in the 2000s do you get such huge runs and avg. over 80 inns. in very very short spans as 3yrs (Ponting,Hayden) or 4/5 yrs (Dravid,Sanga,Lara,Chandrapaul etc)…again all concentrated from 2000-09.

    This is a particular problem with cricket. In tennis, for eg, you have 4 grand slams a year-period. So, longevity can be more or less accounted for across eras. But how do you compare a batsman who had 3 amazing yrs at his peak , in ideal batting conditions,in which he played 80 inns. to one who played the same amount of inns but over a much longer period of time??

    It is heavily skewed in favour of the modern batsmen. Which is one of the reasons why the “best batsmen” lists feature modern batsmen so heavily. It is akin to say Federer/Nadal being allowed to play 16 grand slams in a single year at their peaks. So if they then end up winning 15 slams over 2 years and we then directly compare these numbers to another player a few years back who won 15 but over 10yrs-we naturally end up with results in favour of the modern players. Luckily, we don’t have this problem in tennis.

    But we certainly do in cricket. So, till we can make an allowance for this we will never be able to accurately compare stats across even a few years (never mind entire eras)