Batting September 21, 2009

# How far ahead is the top one ...

How far ahead is the top player in any list is a key to answering the question of whether a high mark set by a player will be reached

How far ahead is the top player in any list is a key to answering the question of whether a high mark set by a player will be reached. I have taken a few Test batting measures and created a table of the Top-100, subject to qualifying criteria, and assigned each position a percentage relative to the top position. A perusal of these tables will give an idea of the degree of permanence of the top places.

Since I normally can only show 5/6 tables in any article to make the same readable, I will do the Test Batting now and follow with one on Test Bowling.

If an active player is at the top of an all-time list, he/she keeps on widening the gap on the second placed player, unless the top two or three are also active. This is true of the aggregate type of measures. On the other hand in performance related measures, it does not matter since it is possible for later players to catch up with the particular measure.

The tables are shown in a standardised format. The first five entries are shown to get an idea, not just of the top entry, but also the ones immediately following the top. Then the 50th entry, exactly at mid-point, is shown to get an idea of the % drop. Finally the 100th entry is shown to get a further idea of the table's distribution of the key measure.

1. Table of Batting averages (minimum 200 runs)

```SNo.Batsman                Cty Mat Inns  No   Runs   Avge     %

1.Bradman D.G            Aus  52   80  10   6996  99.94  100.0
2.Pollock R.G          ~ Saf  23   41   4   2256  60.97   61.0
3.Headley G.A            Win  22   40   4   2190  60.83   60.9
4.Sutcliffe H            Eng  54   84   9   4555  60.73   60.8
5.Barrington K.F         Eng  82  131  15   6806  58.67   58.7
...
50.Gilchrist A.C        ~ Aus  96  137  20   5570  47.61   47.6
...
100.Butcher B.F            Win  44   78   6   3104  43.11   43.1
```
This is the mother of all tables. The second placed player is nearly 40% off, making this, with almost exception, the most difficult performance measure to be breached. Over 10 Tests, yes, but over a career, positively no. Readers might recollect that Kallis is the one with the second highest 80-innings streak in history with an average of 76.41 which itself is 24% off Bradman's figure. Gilchrist at no.50 is at 47.6%, below the 50% mark. Butcher, at no.100 has a 43.6% value, indicating the bunching of players after the 50th position.

2. Table of Runs per Test (minimum 2000 runs)

```SNo.Batsman                Cty Mat    RpT     %

1.Bradman D.G            Aus  52  134.5  100.0
2.Headley G.A            Win  22   99.5   74.0
3.Pollock R.G          ~ Saf  23   98.1   72.9
4.EdeC Weekes            Win  48   92.8   69.0
5.Lara B.C             ~ Win 131   91.2   67.8
...
50.Fredericks R.C       ~ Win  59   73.5   54.6
...
100.Thorpe G.P           ~ Eng 100   67.4   50.1
```
As compared to Batting average, this table is a more even one. The difference between Bradman and the second player is only 26%. Also the 50th batsman is well above 50%. In fact, the 100th player, Thorpe, himself is above 50%.

3. Table of Career runs scored

```SNo.Batsman                Cty   Mat   Runs      %

1.Tendulkar S.R          Ind*  159  12773   100.0
2.Lara B.C             ~ Win   131  11953    93.6
3.Ponting R.T            Aus*  136  11341    88.8
4.Border A.R           ~ Aus   156  11174    87.5
5.Waugh S.R              Aus   168  10927    85.5
...
50.Richardson R.B         Win    86   5949    46.6
...
100.Mudassar Nazar         Pak    76   4114    32.2

An '*' next to the team indicates that the player is still active.
```
This table is the most intriguing of all. Tendulkar is ahead of the retired-Lara by over 6%, a comfortable margin. However the next player, Ponting is still active and he is about 11% behind. The key questions are whether Tendulkar would score enough runs to make the aggregate beyond Ponting's reach or Ponting would succeed in chipping away at the difference. BCCI's generally lukewarm scheduling of Tests is another factor. From now to retirement, Ponting would have to play around 16-18 Tests more than Tendulkar to overtake the master. No crystal-gazing is possible. Probably the odds are against it.

Richardson, like Gilchrist in Batting average table, is at 50th position with 46.6%. Then note how the % drops off basically because this is a longevity measure. Mudassar, in the 100th position, has an aggregate below a third of Tendulkar's.

4. Table of Centuries (minimum 10)

```SNo.Batsman                Cty     100s      %

1.Tendulkar S.R          Ind*     42    100.0
2.Ponting R.T            Aus*     38     90.5
3.Lara B.C             ~ Win      34     81.0
5.Waugh S.R              Aus      32     76.2
...
50.Sutcliffe H            Eng      16     38.1
...
100.Hussey M.E.K         ~ Win*     10     23.8
```
I normally do not do any analysis of centuries since I feel it is an over-rated measure. However it is one measure which many people talk about and I have done this table for those interested.

As compared to the Runs scored table, Ponting and Lara have interchanged places, indicating Ponting's penchant for reaching three figures. He is only 4 centuries behind Tendulkar. Ponting's century frequency is once in 3.6 Tests and Tendulkar's is 3.8 Tests. This slight difference, and the fact that there is a difference of below 10%, generates a gut-feeling within me that Ponting might at least equal whatever Tendulkar finishes with, in 100s, if not runs.

5. Table of Zeroes scored (Min 20)

```No.Batsman            Cty  Inns Zeroes    %    Freq

1.Walsh C.A          Win   185   43   100.0   4.30
2.McGrath G.D        Aus   138   35    81.4   3.94
3.Warne S.K          Aus   199   34    79.1   5.85
4.Muralitharan M     Slk*  159   33    76.7   4.82
5.Ambrose C.E.L      Win   145   26    60.5   5.58
6.Dillon M           Win    68   26    60.5   2.62
7.Martin C.S         Nzl*   72   25    58.1   2.88
8.Morrison D.K       Nzl    71   24    55.8   2.96
9.Chandrasekhar B.S  Ind*   80   23    53.5   3.48
10.Danish Kaneria     Pak    71   23    53.5   3.09
11.Waugh S.R          Aus   260   22    51.2  11.82
12.Atapattu M.S       Slk   156   22    51.2   7.09
13.Waqar Younis       Pak   120   21    48.8   5.71
14.Ntini M            Saf*  113   21    48.8   5.38
15.Harmison S.J       Eng*   86   21    48.8   4.10
16.Bedi B.S           Ind   101   20    46.5   5.05
17.Atherton M.A       Eng   212   20    46.5  10.60
```
This is a tribute to those wonderful breed of players who provide great entertainment to many. When Chris Martin starts to bat, his first run is looked forward to and applauded as enthusiastically as another batsman's 100th run. Barring three specialist batsmen, the other 14 are all wonderful bowlers, but mostly ineffective but entertaining batsmen.

Walsh leads with 43 ducks. McGrath follows him about 20% behind. Where is Martin. He is there in 7th position. Another 50 innings and he would cross Walsh.

I have done this table on the number of zeroes. The frequency is also shown. The table could as well have been on this figure, in which case Martin would have been, sorry to disappoint my favourite Kiwi readers, in second position, just behind Dillon.

A table of the highest individual scores reached does not belong to this analysis since that is a specific single innings event and does not warrant such a comparison. For 10 years, no one might reach 400 and in one week, two batsmen might go past it. However just for interest there is a 5% gap between the best and the next best score.

As requested by Richard Mackey I have added a table of Runs per innings also. This will be a fairer one for the middle order batsmen.

6. Table of Runs per Innings (minimum 2000 runs)

```SNo.Bataman                Cty Mat    RpI      %

1.Bradman D.G            Aus  52   87.4   100.0
2.Pollock R.G          ~ Saf  23   55.0    62.9
3.EdeC Weekes            Win  48   55.0    62.9
4.Headley G.A            Win  22   54.8    62.6
5.Sutcliffe H            Eng  54   54.2    62.0
...
50.Lloyd C.H            ~ Win 110   42.9    49.1
...
100.Graveney T.W           Eng  79   39.7    45.4
```
Who else but Bradman on top and a slight re-distribution of the second to fifth positions.