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
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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.

http://www.thirdslip.com/misc/perrpi.txt

I will do the Bowler tables next week.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

• Arti on June 30, 2012, 8:34 GMT

Thanks Tim! The key to good footwork is the dcesiion-making process – committing to go forward or back depending on the length of the ball without being indecisive. Improving footwork therefore could be more a case of working on the dcesiion-making process and judgment of length than anything else. Cheers, Sanga +3Was this answer helpful?

• Xolile on October 22, 2009, 14:10 GMT

Abhi, Thank you for the encouragement. Most of the commentators on this site seems to share the same passion. The suggestions are usually of the highest quality.

Also, to get back to your earlier point. I think your/Ananth's peer comparisons are excellent. But there is one limitation in that if the quality of the peers is poor than the comparison ratio will be high. If you compare Ponting to Kallis and Tendulkar, his peer ratio is just over 1; but if you compare him to McGrath and Martin, his peer ratio is probably close to 20. In my opinion Bradman batted in easy times. His average of 100 is worth around 65 in today's currency. Similarly Hammond's average of 58 is worth around 40 in today's terms. But as I said, that is just my theory.

• Xolile on October 22, 2009, 13:54 GMT

Ananth, I have sent you a spreadsheet showing the Test record holders per number of consecutive dismissals from 0 to 234. The output is based on a database that includes batsmen that meet the following criteria: Runs >= 3000 Runs >= 2000; Ave >35 Runs >= 1000; Ave >40 Highest score >= 200 It is therefore almost certain that no-one of relevance was missed out.

It took my poor laptop more than 2 hours to crunch through the numbers. It then turned out there was a small error in the algorithm; so I had to run the program again.

The final list of record holders per number of dismissals is as follows: 0 Tendulkar 1 Sangakkara 2 Hammond 3-8 Sangakkara 9-70 Bradman 71-127 Ponting 128 Kallis 129-177 Ponting 178-234 Tendulkar

If you look at the top 10 at each data point it is amazing to see how the quality players always rise to the top. There are some interesting anomalies, e.g. Vengsarkar and Flower, whom both enjoyed remarkable purple patches during their careers.

• Abhi on October 22, 2009, 5:53 GMT

Xolile, wow!where do guys like you and unni get all your ideas from?! [[ Abhi U, X and others will continue to get good ideas as long as gracious people like you genuinely appreciate the suggestions made. Thanks to all of you Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on October 20, 2009, 10:20 GMT

(continued)

Also note that these records are calculated at any point in a player's career, and not only from the start of their careers. Therefore players with slow career starts (e.g. Imran Khan) are not penalized for the remainder of their careers. They get another chance to prove their ability when they had more time to mature and develop.

These records are arguably more insightful than the “Fastest to multiples of 1000” series that are currently provided on the Cricinfo website. It would be great if you could run an article on this. [[ Deon Will look into it. Interesting idea. Once the complete work is done new insights will emerge. Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on October 20, 2009, 10:19 GMT

Ananth,

I have a suggestion for a new series of Test batting records.

Runs scored per number of dismissals (sequence taken from all possible starting points during batsman’s career):

Ds Record Holder Runs Ave 0 Tendulkar 497 497.00* 1 Sangakkara 671 671.00 2 Hammond 768 384.00 3 Sangakkara 941 313.67 5 Sangakkara 1,185 237.00 10 Bradman 1,611 161.10 25 Bradman 3,014 120.56 50 Bradman 5,416 108.32 100 Ponting 7,099 70.99 150 Ponting 9,341 62.27 200 Tendulkar 11,504 57.52

It is interesting that Tendulkar holds the records at both ends of the spectrum. These Test records are completely factual and not subjective in any way.

Note that these Test records are calculated based on the number of dismissals and not the number of innings. Otherwise innings of for example 3*, 33* and 53* will effectively penalize a player.

(Continued)

• Abhi on October 11, 2009, 8:02 GMT

Xolile Your point seems to be that you cannot compare across eras. To an extent you are correct –we cannot. So, basically that leaves us with two options: 1) We simply say that we cannot compare across eras- and leave it at that. End of story. 2) We say that we can compare to an extent- in this case the ONLY valid measure is “peer comparison”- most pertinently “max peer comparison”. This is because we can estimate how good X was at his best relative to the rest of the field. A general peer comparison across a career may suffer for several reasons, one being simply because a player carried on well past his guarantee date- so dragging down his stats. Why I mention the 00s several times is because the peer avg. is above 40!! (Top class batsmen like Vishwanath and Aravinda ended their careers with an avg around 40!)- In the 00s basically everyone avgs. 40! If you look at the stats from around 2003-08 for the top 25/30 batsmen they are beyond belief. So, all good batsmen were obviously making merry. So, then the only valid measure again is peer ratio. Bradman at his best was 3 times better than the avg. guy. No one since has come close.

• Jaykumar Bhandari on October 9, 2009, 13:44 GMT

The stats are great. I am a big fan of it. In the Table of Table of Zeroes scored (Min 20), Indian Player Chandrasekhar B.S is marked as an active player. I guess its Danish Kaneria who should be an active player.

• Xolile on October 1, 2009, 6:35 GMT

Abhi, If you had to pick a 4x100m relay team to represent Earth in a proverbial contest against Mars, would you pick Jesse Owens? I wouldn’t. I would want to win by the biggest margin possible or loose by the smallest margin possible. Therefore I’d ask Bolt, Gay, Powell and Greene to start packing and meet me at the spaceship. Those touched by nostalgia may prefer the likes of Carl Lewis, Jim Hines, Jesse Owens and Harold Abrahams. But on paper, the human race’s safest bet would be the first four.

In cricket it is more difficult to find an absolute measure of a player’s ability, as cricket is a contest between bat and ball. When one of these performs well it is never quite clear whether it is due to the excellence of the dominator or the incompetence of the dominated. You keep referring to the easy batting conditions of the 00s. Maybe you should give more credit to the batsmen? What must they do to convince you that they are as good as Bradman?

• Youvi on September 30, 2009, 23:55 GMT

I think Xolile's logic is a little flawed. By the same logic, the chances of an Albert Einstein emerging must be 100-fold greater in the present era ! Just as there are physicists and then there is Einstein so also there are batsmen and then there is Bradman. Of course, superior physicists and cricketers continue to emerge but until a physicist comes along and his/her intellectual contribution exceeds that of Einstein (or Isaac Newton's for that matter), these gentlemen will stand taller. So also in cricketing (batting) terms, Bradman's record speak for itself. Of course there is always hope that this will be surpassed as also hope that someone will describe a unified field theory which is still up in the air (no cricketing pun intended !).

• Arti on June 30, 2012, 8:34 GMT

Thanks Tim! The key to good footwork is the dcesiion-making process – committing to go forward or back depending on the length of the ball without being indecisive. Improving footwork therefore could be more a case of working on the dcesiion-making process and judgment of length than anything else. Cheers, Sanga +3Was this answer helpful?

• Xolile on October 22, 2009, 14:10 GMT

Abhi, Thank you for the encouragement. Most of the commentators on this site seems to share the same passion. The suggestions are usually of the highest quality.

Also, to get back to your earlier point. I think your/Ananth's peer comparisons are excellent. But there is one limitation in that if the quality of the peers is poor than the comparison ratio will be high. If you compare Ponting to Kallis and Tendulkar, his peer ratio is just over 1; but if you compare him to McGrath and Martin, his peer ratio is probably close to 20. In my opinion Bradman batted in easy times. His average of 100 is worth around 65 in today's currency. Similarly Hammond's average of 58 is worth around 40 in today's terms. But as I said, that is just my theory.

• Xolile on October 22, 2009, 13:54 GMT

Ananth, I have sent you a spreadsheet showing the Test record holders per number of consecutive dismissals from 0 to 234. The output is based on a database that includes batsmen that meet the following criteria: Runs >= 3000 Runs >= 2000; Ave >35 Runs >= 1000; Ave >40 Highest score >= 200 It is therefore almost certain that no-one of relevance was missed out.

It took my poor laptop more than 2 hours to crunch through the numbers. It then turned out there was a small error in the algorithm; so I had to run the program again.

The final list of record holders per number of dismissals is as follows: 0 Tendulkar 1 Sangakkara 2 Hammond 3-8 Sangakkara 9-70 Bradman 71-127 Ponting 128 Kallis 129-177 Ponting 178-234 Tendulkar

If you look at the top 10 at each data point it is amazing to see how the quality players always rise to the top. There are some interesting anomalies, e.g. Vengsarkar and Flower, whom both enjoyed remarkable purple patches during their careers.

• Abhi on October 22, 2009, 5:53 GMT

Xolile, wow!where do guys like you and unni get all your ideas from?! [[ Abhi U, X and others will continue to get good ideas as long as gracious people like you genuinely appreciate the suggestions made. Thanks to all of you Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on October 20, 2009, 10:20 GMT

(continued)

Also note that these records are calculated at any point in a player's career, and not only from the start of their careers. Therefore players with slow career starts (e.g. Imran Khan) are not penalized for the remainder of their careers. They get another chance to prove their ability when they had more time to mature and develop.

These records are arguably more insightful than the “Fastest to multiples of 1000” series that are currently provided on the Cricinfo website. It would be great if you could run an article on this. [[ Deon Will look into it. Interesting idea. Once the complete work is done new insights will emerge. Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on October 20, 2009, 10:19 GMT

Ananth,

I have a suggestion for a new series of Test batting records.

Runs scored per number of dismissals (sequence taken from all possible starting points during batsman’s career):

Ds Record Holder Runs Ave 0 Tendulkar 497 497.00* 1 Sangakkara 671 671.00 2 Hammond 768 384.00 3 Sangakkara 941 313.67 5 Sangakkara 1,185 237.00 10 Bradman 1,611 161.10 25 Bradman 3,014 120.56 50 Bradman 5,416 108.32 100 Ponting 7,099 70.99 150 Ponting 9,341 62.27 200 Tendulkar 11,504 57.52

It is interesting that Tendulkar holds the records at both ends of the spectrum. These Test records are completely factual and not subjective in any way.

Note that these Test records are calculated based on the number of dismissals and not the number of innings. Otherwise innings of for example 3*, 33* and 53* will effectively penalize a player.

(Continued)

• Abhi on October 11, 2009, 8:02 GMT

Xolile Your point seems to be that you cannot compare across eras. To an extent you are correct –we cannot. So, basically that leaves us with two options: 1) We simply say that we cannot compare across eras- and leave it at that. End of story. 2) We say that we can compare to an extent- in this case the ONLY valid measure is “peer comparison”- most pertinently “max peer comparison”. This is because we can estimate how good X was at his best relative to the rest of the field. A general peer comparison across a career may suffer for several reasons, one being simply because a player carried on well past his guarantee date- so dragging down his stats. Why I mention the 00s several times is because the peer avg. is above 40!! (Top class batsmen like Vishwanath and Aravinda ended their careers with an avg around 40!)- In the 00s basically everyone avgs. 40! If you look at the stats from around 2003-08 for the top 25/30 batsmen they are beyond belief. So, all good batsmen were obviously making merry. So, then the only valid measure again is peer ratio. Bradman at his best was 3 times better than the avg. guy. No one since has come close.

• Jaykumar Bhandari on October 9, 2009, 13:44 GMT

The stats are great. I am a big fan of it. In the Table of Table of Zeroes scored (Min 20), Indian Player Chandrasekhar B.S is marked as an active player. I guess its Danish Kaneria who should be an active player.

• Xolile on October 1, 2009, 6:35 GMT

Abhi, If you had to pick a 4x100m relay team to represent Earth in a proverbial contest against Mars, would you pick Jesse Owens? I wouldn’t. I would want to win by the biggest margin possible or loose by the smallest margin possible. Therefore I’d ask Bolt, Gay, Powell and Greene to start packing and meet me at the spaceship. Those touched by nostalgia may prefer the likes of Carl Lewis, Jim Hines, Jesse Owens and Harold Abrahams. But on paper, the human race’s safest bet would be the first four.

In cricket it is more difficult to find an absolute measure of a player’s ability, as cricket is a contest between bat and ball. When one of these performs well it is never quite clear whether it is due to the excellence of the dominator or the incompetence of the dominated. You keep referring to the easy batting conditions of the 00s. Maybe you should give more credit to the batsmen? What must they do to convince you that they are as good as Bradman?

• Youvi on September 30, 2009, 23:55 GMT

I think Xolile's logic is a little flawed. By the same logic, the chances of an Albert Einstein emerging must be 100-fold greater in the present era ! Just as there are physicists and then there is Einstein so also there are batsmen and then there is Bradman. Of course, superior physicists and cricketers continue to emerge but until a physicist comes along and his/her intellectual contribution exceeds that of Einstein (or Isaac Newton's for that matter), these gentlemen will stand taller. So also in cricketing (batting) terms, Bradman's record speak for itself. Of course there is always hope that this will be surpassed as also hope that someone will describe a unified field theory which is still up in the air (no cricketing pun intended !).

• Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 30, 2009, 20:00 GMT

Bradman is the best among his contemporaries. Just compare him with Headley. His batting average is 99.94 and Headley only 60.83.

Normally perception level is he is only 60% of him. Yes, from statistic point of view, it is true.

If we compare both players against England then Sir Bradman average is 89.78 and his 71.23. Sir Bradman had so many timeless matches against England but he faced none. Suppose if he also got timeless matches then he could improve his batting average against them to how much, we do not know the exact. Bradman played 26 timeless matches in his entire test career.

When he faced Australia, his average drastically changed because of bowlers like Grimmett and Iron Monger, 37.33 only against them.

He played only one test match beside both teams. Bradman average was 140.57 excluding England, which were at very initial level. So I think he is 85 - 90% or may be more of him in actual.

• Abhi on September 30, 2009, 14:18 GMT

xolile Actually, an even better factor would be the “career split” into 3 parts, which shows a constantly high avg around a 100 for Bradman. All other batsmen have a relative roller coaster ride, with most fading away. I considered this coz given the larger no. of matches played by modern players the best 80 inn streak would naturally be in a shorter duration…but if the career splits show that when in the 2000s most of the batsmen scored huge for a few years.

• Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 30, 2009, 13:43 GMT

No doubt, Sir Bradman is the best batsman of his era.

Gabby Allen was the leading wicket taker of his era in fast bowling although Larwood was the fastest .

So many people believe that those days was not too much cricket.

If see the example of Hammond, he played 85 test matches in 20 years from 1927 -1947.

In case of Sobers he played 93 test matches in same years from 1954-1974.

In case of Gooch he played 118 test matches in 20 years even then the ratio is not 1.4 as compare to Hammond. 118 / 85 = 1.38

Allen came in 1930 and ended his career in 1948 with only 25 test matches and Larwood came in 1926 and ended his career in 1933 whereas his first class career ended in 1938. It means he was unable to prolong his career.

Verity (best bowler Bradman faced in test matches) came in 1931 and ended his career with 144 wickets in 1939. It means his level of commitment was more than both of them. Verity also faced the problem of striking rate in Aus, New Zealand and Africa.

• Abhi on September 30, 2009, 13:27 GMT

Xolile As usual, your logic is impeccable and it is very difficult to debate with you! Your basic point seems to be that it is very difficult if not impossible to compare across eras…agreed- simply cannot argue with that point. My main point is that any sportsman, in any sport, can only compete with the competition at hand. It is definitely pure theory and conjecture as to how he would have done against some other player from some other era. But, if he has towered over his peers much more relatively to any other player that is ALL he can do! And for what these “Greatest of all time” debates are concerned, that is the ONLY criteria we can apply- flawed though they may be. Also, I fully agree with your points about batting. But if you see the “Best 80 inn.” guys after Bradman, most have their best spells in a much shorter time duration. Also, most are in the 2000s , a span which was particularly conducive to batting.

And re. my colourful eg : )), the point was that actual standards are forever rising. I mean the 100 th best sprinter now would well wallop Jesse Owens. How does that reflect on Jesse Owens? All you can do is beat the then competition. That’s all.

• Ramesh Kumar on September 30, 2009, 10:04 GMT

Ananth,

I have a different view on the point of Match winning innings. More than the centuries, this is getting overhyped. Rarely a single person wins the matches. The bowlers need to take 20 wickets and you need partnerships. The often quoted Lara's 153 could have easily be on a losing cause, if one can watch the video. The WI bowlers turned around the match and in the last moment, there were close moments and dropped catches. If WI had lost, how can you reduce the value of Lara's innings? Coversely, Walsh, Ambrose and co helped Lara to win many matches. How can we reduce the value of Ponting's recent innings just because Aussies are losing more matches now? What has he done differently as a batsman now compared to Warne/Mcgrath period whenever he scores high scores?Aussies lost the famous Kolkatta match in the last session losing 9 wickets. If that had not happened, should we reduce the value of Laxman/Dravid innings?Criteria is important, but we may be applying it wrongly. Ramesh

• Ramesh Kumar on September 30, 2009, 9:44 GMT

Ananth, A bit late to catch up on your blogs as I was preoccupied with work. As usual excellent analysis and additional analysis throws up a lot of insight. Just on the latest point of discussion on centuries--the arguments many times go to extremes. Ananth's original point is valid-no great difference between 99 and 102 and hype only seperates the two. But there is a big difference between 60 and 120. To classify centuries as only a personal milestone is only trivialising the point. In the test matches, assuming 4 out of the top 6 batsmen score 50s(rarely happens) and the team total is around 300 or so, the team is likley to concede a big lead in most of the modern wickets. Also there is a talk about no. of balls faced etc citing Border/Waugh etc. It is not of relevance in tests. Also, they should have batted higher and taken bigger responsibilities in the construction of innings.

Ramesh Kumar

• Xolile on September 30, 2009, 9:26 GMT

(Cont'd) Therefore, could it not be that in Bradman’s day there was just one exceptional Test player (i.e. Bradman), whereas today we have ten or more? The peer ratios will therefore obviously be lower now, because the competition is so much stronger. 2) Agreed 3) For batsmen maturity, endurance and experience are just as important as reflexes, power and speed. The first group of attributes usually increases as a player grows older, whereas the latter diminishes. As a result there is often not a great deal of difference between the ability of the same batsman when he was 22 and when he was 38. Obviously the sweet spot is between the ages of 28 and 34 when players tend to average around 5% more. In this respect batting is definitely not comparable to tennis where reflexes and agility are far more important. A better comparison would be golf.

As for your colorful example of horse racing, I thought we were discussing the best batsman of all time, not the most dominant?

• Xolile on September 30, 2009, 9:19 GMT

@Abhi, In answer to the three points you have raised above: 1) When Bradman was born in 1908 the Australian population was around 4 million. It currently stands at around 21 million. Moreover, when Bradman started his career in the late 1920s the Great Depression just started. Most people were struggling to feed their families. They could not afford to allocate time and money to develop their cricketing ability. Nowadays every Aussie kid who shows some promise is packed off to a cricket academy to be nurtured. Based on these facts I would estimate that the chances of an exceptional talent to emerge from Australia today must be around 10 times greater than it was back in Bradman’s era. And if you look at the development of the game globally over the last 80 years you could multiply those odds by at least 10. So the chances of an exceptional Test talent to emerge somewhere in the world today could be as much as 100 times higher than it was in Bradman’s day. (Continued)

• Abhi on September 30, 2009, 8:41 GMT

100% agree. ODIs are more of a batsmen’s game, i.e batsmen more often than not dictate the outcome. But Tests are very much the bowlers’ domain. For some reason the batsmen hog all the glamour and limelight (with the exception of a few charismatic bowlers) - even though it is the bowlers who actually win matches!

• Abhi on September 30, 2009, 4:34 GMT

I am a bit pro hundred too. Not just because of the “irrational” cause for celebration among us regular fans …but because of the psychological boost it gives to the batsman, team, crowd etc. But would it be possible to check the actual stats re. the matter? Say for eg. For a Batsman scoring in the range of 90-99, or in the range of 100-110- then what were the match results in these cases? In the course of a match these extra few runs by a single batsman should too much difference. [[ Abhi My next post is somewhat tangential but related in a way. I have looked at runs scored in winning causes. However one day I will do a separate 100s post. I have got a number of new ideas from many, including yourself and hopefully will do justice to that. One thing I have always wondered is the lack of hype and frenzy when a bowler captures 5 wickets, which is, statistically and in value terms, more than a 100. Ananth: ]]

• ted on September 29, 2009, 10:59 GMT

irealise my point of view is agrey area and should be left to ones own perspective.but being aussie i would say a steve waugh or even some of mark waughs innings are memorable.you could add border langer.but would bradman rate well here . i have read abit about him and believe he would.i also know he scored a century nearly ever time too so it might be hard to decipher.just a point of view

• Confused on September 29, 2009, 0:58 GMT

Ananth, What you are saying, that hundreds don't count and average is more important, is mind boggling ! That's like saying fish only need water and not oxygen ! Let me point out that to have a good average you need to have hundreds. Sure you can get a good average by consistently scoring 50s but at some point you will fail and it will be harder to get the average up by just scoring 50s. Look at the Waugh twins for example, why did Steve have a higher average than Mark ? It was mainly due to more hundreds scored and bigger hundreds at that. Bradman attained his 99.94 average by having a magnificent 50 - 100 conversion rate and a lot of big scores. So really I can't see your point anyway you look at it. [[ You have chosen your name correctly. What I only said is that there is no great difference between a 99 and 100 other than a single run. To get a good average, to do well for your teams, to win matches for your team, to be considered a very good batsman et al, you have to score runs, not necessarily hundreds. If a batsman scores 5 x 90s, he will have an average of 90 and, let us say, wins all five matches for his team. Another batsman might score 3 x 100s and 2 x 0s and have an average of 60, and, let us say, wins 3 matches and loses 2 matches. So should one conclude that the later batsman is the better one since he scored 3 hundreds. I understand the personal milestones, media obsession, fans' frenzy with 100s et al. However no one can ever be convinced that 100s are necessary for the team to do well. There only runs matter. 99 or 101 might very well do the same job. Ananth: ]]

• Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on September 28, 2009, 20:01 GMT

Dear Ananth, once again great efforts. Xolile and Abhi both are excellent.

I have the following criteria for the best test batsman

Records wise impressive Batting Technique Elegant Consistency Ability to play spinners and fast bowlers.

Ability to tackle tense situation Ability to play in defensive and aggressive mode

Tackling the pressure of main strikers. Home versus away Batting average different continents wise.

Ability to prolong his career for at least 10 years Centuries or impressive innings in every corner of the world. It means proving all conditions against different type of bowling

Ability to prove him better than others in front of two or three strongest bowling attacks including their home grounds too.

Ability to prove him against best quality bowlers of his era.

Ability to create big knocks including best attacks too.

Transformation of big knocks into double tons. For me 150 is enough for big inning.

Transformation of big knocks into masterpiece

• Abhi on September 28, 2009, 13:44 GMT

@xolile Absolutely agree with you. Which is why I clearly mentioned a few things: 1) Peak PEER comparison. 2) Greatest PRE Odi player 3) The truest measure of “longevity” i.e performance over TIME. Re. the above 1) Clearly whatever the conditions if his “Peak peer ratio” is approx 3.2 and the next guy is way lower this tells us something. 2)In the modern era Tests and ODIs are joined at the hip. There is not a single great player in the last few decades who has forsaken ODIs only for Tests, so they simply cannot be segregated. The ODI impact on Tests has been multifold including the high cost of wear and tear and injury to players 3)The Don avg about a 100 for 20 yrs!! To use a very exaggerated eg. If you play 2 tests a year for 20 yrs and another plays 20 tests a year for 2 yrs at his prime , who do you think will have the better stats? So, basically all the comparison factors are mostly relative. Never mind human beings , if you take ABSOLUTE performance standards even HORSES have far far better times now than a few years back. This is due to many factors including training, diet etc. So, in horse racing too you ONLY judge “great” horses as per their “peak peer ratios”…i.e how well they did relative to their peers. NOT some absolute standards which are constantly on the rise. Even a relative donkey of a modern day horse would beat your yesteryear thoroughbred hollow. Doesn’t mean anything.

@Ted The “problem” with your approach is it is generally very difficult to judge “when it counts”. For eg if during the qualifying stages of a tournament if X doesn’t perform and the team is ousted, wouldn’t this be not performing “ when it counted”? But if X helps the team through to say the Finals( which they wouldn’t have without his contributions) and then flops in the Final, would you say he did not perform “ when it counted”?… Similar logic to first and second innings in Tests etc. Very difficult to say that a particular match “doesn’t count” , except for clear dead rubbers. So, it is a totally grey area, and it depends completely on perspective.

• Jeff on September 28, 2009, 11:38 GMT

@Alex.

It's a myth that not outs improve batting averages - in fact, for a large number of players, they can actually reduce the overall average (vs being able to carry on until getting out.) The reason for this is that players are more vulnerable early in their inns and at any given score, they are actually likely to score more further runs that their average.

For example, Brian Lara scored 153 not out in that famous win against the Aussies in 1999. He reached or exceeded 153 17 other times and his average score in those inns was 221. We would therefore, statistically, have expected him to score a further 68 runs - ie more than his career average of 53 - and therefore that not out actually reduced his average.

I've studied the not out impact in detail and if you use this method for Waugh, his not outs HAVE helped his average, but not by much. If he'd been allowed to complete all his inns, he would have had an ave of 50.85 (vs 51.06)

• ted on September 28, 2009, 7:02 GMT

excellent analysis.confirms that ponting in my eyes is century or bust player.not that is a bad thing if you make the 100s when they count.which is my argument with alot of stats[and i love stats] is the best players make runs when it counts [[ Ted I am doing an interesting new analysis on this theme. Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on September 27, 2009, 9:04 GMT

@Abhi Did you know that Bangladesh has played 8 matches away against England, South Africa and Australia. In those 8 matches the Enlish top order (1-5) averaged 153, the South Africans 98 and the Australians 93. These figures are Bradmanesque. It shows when good batsmen face poor bowling in favourable conditions they put them away and score many runs. It is very hard for us to assess how good the bowling of the Bradman era was. We know the fastest bowler was Larwood, and he was only 5 foot 8 inches. That is the same as Tino Best. Even Darren Gough is taller (5 foot 11). We are talking about days when the 100m gold medal at the Olympics was won with a time of 10.5 seconds. Now you need 9.58 seconds. Why didn't Bradman wear a helmet? Probably because he didn't need one. So be careful when you compare the heroes of today with those of the 1930s. Sport has come a very, very long way in the last 80 years.

• alex on September 25, 2009, 11:48 GMT

Jeff - On the flip side, Waugh's 5/6 position gave him a whopping 46 not outs and a much better looking avarage. I believe average is a better indicator than # centuries; illustrated the best in Border, arguably the best player of the modern WI attack but managed mostly 50's against them.

All things being equal, as per the logic in my previous test-related comment, if all top 6 batsmen bat for approx. 100 deliveries in an innings, their side won't lose and might win. So, a batsman should get 1 point for facing 100 deliveries ... he did his expected part. Like 50's and 100's this should be noted down as well.

• Jeff on September 25, 2009, 7:58 GMT

@Alex - I absoultely agree with 100% on the ODI front and in fact, it's similar (although to a lesser extent in tests)

Take Steve Waugh for example - he batted at number 5/6 for the most part of his career that lasted 168 tests. Yet, despite averaging over 50, he "only" scored 32 tons. He was left not out between a score of 50 and 99 on 12 occasions, including a 94 and a 99 not out.

We can make an estimate of how many of those not out inns he would turn into tons by looking at his conversion rate.

Eg. he had 2 inns where he was not out in the 50s. His conversion rate of inns 50+ into tons is 32/70 = 46% (excluding other not out inns). He also had 5 inns not out in the 60s (conversion rate = 52%, 3 not outs in the 70s (60% rate) and 2 in the 90s (80% rate). I'm being a bit conservative here but we could reasonably expect him therefore to have converted 6 of these inns into further tons, giving him 38 in all.

Players higher in the order wouldn't suffer this fate as often

• Ashwath on September 25, 2009, 6:41 GMT

Hello sir great article as always. From a purely personal view i hope tendulkars records are not broken by ponting for if they are not they will probably stand for a long time. But I wonder if you could provide some statistical analysis regarding outstanding performances of batsmen on bowler friendly wickets with relation to averages and vice versa for bowlers on feather beds. [[ Ashwath Seemingly innocuous comments lead to great ideas. I realize that I could do a weighted valuation of the batsman innings based on the match run characteristics. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

• Abhi on September 25, 2009, 5:26 GMT

Alex, Excellent comment- and a lot of thought and work has been put into it. It is a very complicated issue, but your views are a good start.

• alex on September 25, 2009, 5:01 GMT

Ananth - Pls add the following columns for an equivalent ODI analysis: (i) # 80's scored, (ii) #40's scored, and (iii) destructiveness score: #balls X # runs X (own SR/ team's SR)/100.

In ODI's, a batsman batting for >70% of the team's allotted quota just about becomes the batsman to bat around since he faces >35% deliveries of the 50 overs, i.e. >110 balls. He will probably have a SR of >75 (depending on pitch etc.) => a score of >80. He could be called the "lead" batsman (unless he be SMG of 1975 vintage). Same rationale for using 40 as the filter to call someone a "supporting" batsman. In ODI's, the century measure gives an unfair advantage to openers as compared to the middle order batsmen. An 85 from a #4 batsman could be as big a rock as a 110 from an opener. [[ Alex Your comments make a lot of sense in a ODI overall analysis scenario. However in this ranking and % figures table I am not sure how much sense these can make. Ananth: ]]

• Suv on September 24, 2009, 13:35 GMT

Sam, Ananth, and the rest of you “rational” folk: Ill try one last comment on the issue then I’m gone. You say that we cannot have a “rational” argument on the issue. But that is EXACTLY what I have been saying from the FIRST! A large part of sport is simply NOT “rational”- “aesthetics’, “momentum” , “pressure” , “ celebration” , “ passion” , “joy” etc etc…none of these things can be put into pretty little formulas and calibrated. In all those “rational “examples you give (and you will be able to find any number to “prove” your point) the batsmen who got out in say the 90s would have loved to get a hundred. So, when it is a very universally strong desire among all batsmen…then to actually getting a hundred has to be considered an achievement – because it is what all batsmen aspire to (all other things being equal – eg.the overall game doesn’t suffer because of a batsman fixated on his hundred). Try explaining your “rational” viewpoints to a 60,000 stadium crowd and a millions strong TV crowd who eagerly anticipate a hundred and groan if their man just misses the mark….or for that matter who go through all sorts of roller coaster emotions based on vague ,impossible to calibrate notions like “aesthetics”.

W hat is really and ACTUALLY “irrational” is your strong desire to bend and fit the entire gamut of sport and sporting emotion into a “rational” framework! [[ Suv Let us close this. There are enough viewers, commentators, experts, writers, advertisers, pretty presenters et al who go ballistic on media. Let me remain unaffected by these and do my analysis without being unduly influenced. I may be in the very small minority. But certainly have the right to do what I feel is correct when interpreting numbers. Every time people talk about Tendulkar's great century at Sharjah against Australia, they only talk about the tens of thousands of watchers and millions of viewers. I analyze the cricketing aspects of that innings dispassionately and maybe come to a similar conclusion on the great innings that it was. Ananth: ]]

• alex on September 24, 2009, 12:38 GMT

Ananth - to continue Abhi's point re the diminishing returns. I had thought about this a lot and my solution requires the use of technology to rate the pitch and atmospheric conditions on a scale of difficulty (as is done in rock climbing). If the difficulty level says a match can be over in just about 5 days (15 sessions), the winning side probably has to bat approx. 8 sessions in 2 (or 1 - rare occurance) innings. Assuming the 6 specialist batsmen score 70% runs (& bat 70% of the sessions) and assuming 33% of them fail, you need 2 batsmen batting for at least 2.8 sessions ... in which time, they probably face 240 balls each and should score 90-150 runs, depending on their strike rate. If the winner bats only once, this calcn requires 2 batsmen batting for 5.6 sessions => 180-300 runs each. Sadly, # balls faced is not given due recognition but, as per this, a century does emerge as a must for the winner in majority of fairly balanced decisive matches. [[ Alex That is a very interesting line of thought. I don't disagree that a century (or more correctly couple of centuries) is the bare minimum for a win. My only grouse was the extra hype accorded for scoring the 100th run. Anyway you and Abhi have provided me with a lot of new ideas to develop an article on 100s (or around that number). Ananth: ]]

• Sam on September 24, 2009, 11:25 GMT

Apologies for continuing this digression, but I think people here are confusing too separate issues. One is the personal milestone of the century and the other is the team contribution of the partnership. I can't see any reason to deny the prestige and the personal value behind a century for a batsman, but is 3 players score centuries in a total of 350 better than 5 players scoring 90s in a total of 450? Cricket is remarkable in that it is a team sport that consists of individual battles - each ball is almost bowler alone vs batsman alone - and that leads us to losing sight of the overall team aspect. Partnerships are always going to add more to the team because by definition they involve a period where the batting team is on top. Generally a great team innings is built around good partnerships rather than good individual innings. That's the distinction as I see it anyway. [[ Sam A personal milestone is such an important event in this part of the world, for that matter it is moving in that direction elsewhere also, it is impossible to get a rational argument going in this regard. I will remind readers of a few ODI matches. The first was the 2002 Natwest Final. England had two centurions, Tresco and Hussain. They lost to India who did not have a centurion. Then at Motera during 2005, Gambhir and Dravid scored centuries. Sri Lanka won with no one reaching 100. During CT 2006, Gayle and Bravo scored 100s. England won with no centurion. There is another recent instance where Ireland, with 2 100s lost to Kenya with no centurion. All these in the past 7 years. I might even have missed a few. I did not go beyond that. Ananth: ]]

• Al on September 24, 2009, 9:17 GMT

It is surprising to hear disparaging comments about hundreds on a cricket blog! Cricket wouldn’t be cricket as we know it without hundreds. Whatever the skeptics may say: a hundred is a hundred is a hundred is a hundred. It is scarcely credible that cricket fans can deny the romance, excitement, celebration surrounding a great hundred…with or without the help of the media. Since ALL batsmen inevitably aspire to a hundred- at any level, in any format- it makes it even more desirable because it is one of the few universally applicable tools of batting excellence. Cricket would be poorer, with less romance, if you didn’t have your hundreds to celebrate. Would Ananth have been so excited if Lara hit a cover drive to move from 95 to 99 and the match got over without Lara crossing hundred? Doubt it. At a certain stage, it is a case of a batsman “deserving” a hundred. Whether it is the “match saving” hundreds, “match winning” hundreds, heroic hundreds in a lost cause; whatever – the romance attached to a hundred may be unwarranted in humdrum practical terms-but it cannot be denied. [[ Al Now that you have raised the point I will state unequivocally, with no reservations whatsoever, that I would rather that Lara remained not out on 99 and West Indies won than that Lara reached 103 and West Indies drew/lost. You can replace Lara's name with my other favourite cricketers such as Tendulkar/Mark Waugh/McCabe and the team names with india/Australia and my statement still stands. Is that enough. Ananth: ]]

• Xolile on September 24, 2009, 7:40 GMT

@ Suv The correlation between number of runs and number of centuries for top-performing test batsmen is very high (close to 1). It is therefore no surprise to see Ponting and Tendulkar close to the top of both these list.

The correlation between batting average and 100s per innings is also very high. And similarly we see Bradman comfortably at the top of both these lists.

If you score the runs the 100s will come. The trick as a batsman is to balance risk and return for every single ball. Then the consistency and the career achievements will take care of themselves. 100s are only important for batsmen early in their careers when they need to cement their place in the side. [[ Deon After the batsmen go past the 25th houndred or so, it is the media which gets into a frenzy since there is bound to be a landmark or two which would be breached with every fresh 100. Ananth: ]]

• Sam on September 24, 2009, 4:32 GMT

@suv I don't deny the personal significance of a century to a batsman, but I think we're losing the fact that cricket is a team sport. Partnerships are far more important to a team than centuries. It would be interesting to see how big the average total where a century is scored vs a century partnership. My gut feeling is that when big partnerships are being scored, the total is going to be higher than when a player is scoring big.

• sumit on September 24, 2009, 4:28 GMT

Hi All, To revert to the post which points out at Averages being the only yardstick to measure the greatness of a batsman. I second Ananth's opinion that It is undeniably the foremost criteria to rate a batsman. The hundreds and the double hundreds scored do matter however, It's the consistency over a period of time that makes these great batsmen truly great. Sir Bradman alongwith the staggering average has 29 hundreds to his name that too in a career of just over 50 tests. Also we have a look at the RPI and RPT, he is far far ahead of the other batsmen in the list. The fact that he played less number of matches than a Tendulkar or a Waugh also contributes. Had he played over a 100 tests, At the rate at which he scored, the number of 100s scored would have been a distant dream for any batsman of any era. Centuries are valuable to fill the stats column but dont forget that a match winning 50(Ganguly at Jo'burg)is sometimes more valuable than a losing 200(Ponting at the Adelaide Oval).

• Youvi on September 24, 2009, 1:54 GMT

Ananth- I agree with your opinion on a century being an overrated measure. Talking of zeroes and centuries, for a last wicket partnership Chandra as number 11 batsman ably supported GR Vishwanath's brilliant 97 n.o. non-century against WI in 1974-75 with Andy Roberts bowling at his best. India won and tied the series at 2-2 though the decider was eventually lost. When asked to name his best inning it is not one of his many centuries that Gavaskar recalls but his 57 against England at Manchester in 1971 with John Price bowling at his fastest ! Also, India's Bedi makes it to the list with 20 zeroes and I recall the same India-WI series of 74-75 when Bedi used to show up to bat for formality's sake ! I recall a newspaper cartoon from that time in which captain Pataudi tries to convince Bedi to go out and bat when his turn came ! However, once Bedi became the captain it looked like he started taking batting seriously. As captain he once scored 50 n.o. with three sixes, against NZ.

• Vijay Mohite on September 23, 2009, 16:34 GMT

• Suv on September 23, 2009, 13:55 GMT

@Xolile, All true to a point. The fact that the greatest of batsmen will immediately celebrate on getting that hundred indicates that for all their talk about ignoring the score board they are acutely aware of the same. If they still pretend that they are not , rest assured the roar and noise of the crowd will remind them of the same.Also the nervous nineties is a phenomenon noted not only in schoolboy cricketers but included the very greatest of batsmen. @Sam, engle etc, The fact that you mention how often the approaching hundred affects even top batsmen is a clear indicator of what it means to them. Also, in test cricket it is very rare that a few extra balls taken to get to the hundred are of such paramount importance. Surely , you have noticed- the batsman reaction, the crowd reaction on a hundred, even the opposition will often applaud a century (ever seen them applaud a 90 something?), declarations are delayed or planned around a team batsman approaching a century……etc etc etc. To a certain extent is almost like climbing Mt.Everest. There is always a difference between actually climbing the summit and getting close...however close that may be. Perhaps my eg. Is an exaggeration, but for any cricketer or fan to argue that centuries aren’t huge huge things in cricket with the use of “mathematical/statistical” arguments is almost deluding oneself. There are several things such as “pressure”, “momentum”, “winning the mental battle” what have you which you cannot explain with black and white stats. [[ Suv You are again going back to a mistaken argument. I have never ever [argued that centuries aren’t huge huge things in cricket with the use of “mathematical/statistical” arguments]. I have only expressed my personal view. Do not confuse these two things. Still I realized the importance of the measure and included this table and am talking about doing a complete article on this topic. Ananth: ]]

• Abhi on September 23, 2009, 13:29 GMT

Suv, Alex… I feel you guys are both right. Let’s face it- in cricket a hundred has always had an almost mystical and magical element attached to it. It is indeed the single most coveted “feather” for a batsman. It sort of completes and adds the finishing touch to a grand performance. The climax, encore …what you will. No denying it. Sort of cherry on the top. There is no real logic behind it in pure rational terms, of course. As Ananth says, what is the difference between a 90s score and a 100? Rationally none…but in actuality we all know there is. Great hundreds are somehow always more remembered by fans than great 60/70/80/90s. A top class batsman can squeeze out a hundred in even the most trying situations, but it is very rare to score in the double/triple range unless conditions favour the batsman, especially in terms of pitch quality. I have always felt the pitch quality is of UTMOST importance. Even the very best bowlers are often rendered impotent by dead pitches. So pitch quality should far outweigh bowling quality. But, as Alex says there have undoubtedly been matchwinning big scores in the double and triple range. However, I feel that there is a “cut off” point beyond which the Theory of diminishing returns will apply as far as contribution of the innings to the overall match is concerned. Difficult to pin point this cutoff point, but I suspect that it would be somewhere a bit after a hundred. [[ Abhi Thanks. Lot of food for thought. Ananth: ]]

• Sam on September 23, 2009, 12:43 GMT

I have to agree with Ananth on the centuries. Centuries are personal milestones. Good for the batsman, not for the team. A batsman who goes from 99-100 will probably feel more relaxed and contribute some more runs on top, but if wickets are falling at the other end, the bowling side probably won't mind to much. Whereas if you have both openers scoring 95 and a 200 run opening partnership, then you can start wearing down a side.

• Venkat on September 23, 2009, 11:22 GMT

In the centuries table, is it worthwhile to credit a double hundred scored as 2 centuries, a triple hundred as 3 and so on?

• Engle on September 23, 2009, 10:27 GMT

There is the flip side to scoring a century. Many a batsman will plod around in the 90's, holding up the scoring rate and the teams winning chances, while trying to move from 2-digits to 3-digits. An example of this is Atherton declaring after losing patience with Hick attempting his 100 against Aus.

A batsman who scores 75, 85 in a match (total 160) has done better than the batsman who scores 110, 20 (total 130) and should be afforded due credit.

Alan Lamb scored 6 centuries vs W.Indies in 22 matches, yet averaged 34.41 against them.

Alan Border scored half of that, 3 centuries vs W.Indies in 26 matches, yet averaged 39.46 against them.

• Xolile on September 23, 2009, 8:53 GMT

@ Suv All good batsmen, at school, social, club, 1st class and internation level, have three things in common. 1. They play every ball on merit. 2. They immediately forget about false strokes. 3. They concentrate on the ball, not the scoreboard. So I agree with Ananth, 100s are overrated.

• Suv on September 23, 2009, 5:11 GMT

Alex, Actually let me rephrase that : ). Considering the much greater number of hundreds and the huge number of draws played out, this may not figure. However, if we take “individual” players hundreds, doubles etc…then you will probably get what I mean. This will be true for even batsmen with a penchant for big scores like Lara,Sehwag etc….in most cases the hundreds to mid hundred fifties are much more potent than the rambling doubles and triples….which almost inevitably are on batting pitches which lead to draws unless some dramatic batting collapse ocurrs or some exceptional bowling performance.

• Suv on September 23, 2009, 5:05 GMT

Alex, I instinctively don’t agree. I feel that the percentage of doubles/triples which result in wins will be a lot lower than hundreds which do so. I repeat…percentage. So although the numbers of hundreds are a lot more, the percentage of them resulting in wins will be greater. I’m sure this can be checked out statistically. And as the individual scores get higher and higher, corresponding to a deader and deader pitch….the percentage of wins will get lower and lower. Of course, there are always exceptions…but then they just go to prove the rule.

• Abhi on September 23, 2009, 4:55 GMT

Rahim, If you go through previous blogs you will find a recurrent theme: Tendulkars performance during his “injury period” and “injury free” period. I suggest you check the stats from debut-2003 (relatively “injury free”), 2003-07 (continuous injuries…with one foot almost in retirement) and then again from 2008 onwards(again relatively “serious”injury free). This, of course, if you wish to scratch the surface and get an appreciation of events as they really transpired. The results of Tendulkars performance vis a vis all other batsmen will surprise you.

• Suv on September 23, 2009, 4:08 GMT

Just struck me that the 50s to 100s conversion or maybe more accurately the 90s-100 conversion may tell us something. Since clearly a hundred is probably the single most coveted “feather in the cap” for a batsman right from school level to international ODI/Test level, then the following may apply: 1)Since a batsman will never throw away his wicket in the 90s except in the most extreme circumstances, the percentage of 90s to 100s may tell us something about how a batsman can handle pressure. Since if he is in the 90s he is clearly in and batting well, so unless he gets an absolute Jaffa it is quite probable that he has gotten himself out. 2)A 50s to 100s conversion also tells us how well a batsman can consolidate his innings and drive home an initial advantage. 3)Also batsmen, who get out most in the 90s against a particular TEAM, will tell us most about the particular team as well. i.e. how well a team can pounce on a batsman’s nervousness and apply pressure. [[ Suv Good points. these can all be considered in the 100s article I have just now though of and referred to in my response to your previous comment. Ananth: ]]

• alex on September 23, 2009, 4:01 GMT

Ananth - I think your point re the centuries is quite valid; same holds for the triple-double in basketball. Histogram reveals more info. Short of that, could you please add 3 columns: (i) avg # runs scored in those centuries, (ii) # of 80's scored, and (iii) # of 120's scored? Thanks.

Suv - there are many examples of double centuries and triple centuries winning matches: Lara's 213 vs Aus, Sehwag's 201 vs SL, Richards' 291 vs Eng, Gooch's 333 vs Ind. [[ Alex. Edited a little for reasons you will understand. One day I will do justice to the 100s question by doing a complete article in which I can include the columns you have mentioned. Ananth: ]]

• Suv on September 23, 2009, 3:17 GMT

See, how do I “explain” this? Didn’t mean to cause offense...but only a part of sport can be described in “mathematical” terms …but there is a whole major part which cannot. Any batsman who says he wouldn’t like to get a hundred is lying. Any opposition who says they don’t mind a batsman scoring a hundred against them is also lying. Sport is very very “mental” as well as physical. For eg. a bowler hits a batsman on the helmet or crushes his toes OR in another scenario the batsman judges a perfect leave or plays a perfect defense…in both the cases the mathematics/statistics will show a “dot” ball. But they are vastly different things. Similarly a batsman may get “beaten” and edge a 4 through a slips OR cream an express pace bowler screaming in straight past him for 4…statistically 4 in both cases….but would anyone treat them similarly? As you would say, on the scoreboard it doesn’t make a diff…but in the actual game it does. A hundred is a huge psychological mountain for a batsman, own team, opposition team, as ALSO the audience. it can galvanise a home crowd even more or subdue an away crowd…to attempt to dismiss it lightly is absurd. There are so many more examples I could give…but what’s the point? A lot of things in sport are subjective and do not lend themselves to statistics/mathematics…either you get it or you don’t. [[ Suv No problems at all. I will never "not do" justice to any analytical work because of my personal views. One day I will do a complete piece on 100s. Ananth: ]]

• Engle on September 22, 2009, 15:05 GMT

What would be interesting is to see a table of greatest differences in batting averages in a Test Series. ( 3-5 matches). For each team or both teams.

Alan Border did exceptionally well against the 4-pronged pace attack in the WIndies and Brian Lara perhaps even better in S.Lanka of yesteryears.

I suspect Bradman would lead the list, but curious as to who the other contenders would be.

• Suv on September 22, 2009, 14:39 GMT

Sometimes I wonder how much people who do the “statistical” work in cricket or pass their expert comments have actually played the game. I find it incredible that anyone can say that centuries are overrated in cricket…pls don’t tell that to any batsman ever in the “nervous nineties”. Right from school cricket onwards a hundred is a hundred. It is a clear indicator of good degree of domination and control over the opposition... And as with most sport, at the elite level a lot of the battle is in the MIND. A century plays an immense psychological role in cricket…the batsman knows he has a hundred, his team knows it and most important the other team knows that an opposition batsman has got a hundred. The opposition will always try their utmost to avoid a batsman getting a hundred. There is a huge huge difference between say a 70/80 and a hundred plus. Actually I would say that the doubles and triples are overrated…because most of them hardly ever result in actual “match wins” and are mostly indicators of dead pitches. [[ Suv I have never ever played the game. However that does not mean I cannot make my comments. I still feel strongly that the 100 is an overrated measure. Many a ninety or eighty would probably mean much more than many a hundred. A person who is out at 99 has missed a personal landmark, that is all. His team would benefit as much from a 99 as from a 100. Anyhow, my analysis is for all the people who think highly of the century. I respect their views just as I expect others to respect my views. Also I suggest do not confuse personal views, as clearly indicated by me, with expert views. Ananth: ]]

• rahim on September 22, 2009, 13:49 GMT

i wonder how these tables would have looked at the time Tendulkar reached his 232 inning and/or his 11953 run (Lara's retirement inning and run total) as Lara reached both in quicker time, in terms of matches played, innings played, minutes at crease and balls faced. [[ Rahim Not very different. Lara might have reached his landmarks quickly but certainly had a lower average. Ananth: ]]

• alex on September 22, 2009, 9:59 GMT

In his own way, Martin statistically beats his nearest rival by as much margin as Bradman beat his. No wonder, Martin Crowe has declared him to be the worst batsman ever. Relevant URL: http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/392444.html.

Mbangwa actually goes one better than Martin but Martin has "proved" himself over a much longer career.

• Vijay on September 22, 2009, 8:51 GMT

I am actually loving this argument about who is the absolute greatest: Walsh, Chandra, or Martin. Ananth, I know you don't write humor articles but can you try providing us some other statistical insights into these greats of the game (I am aware you did a worst batsman piece a few months ago but what I am requesting for is for you to figure out stats that would actually reflect their ineptness like for example how many times he touched the ball (difficult for previous generations though))

• Aditya Jha on September 22, 2009, 8:23 GMT

I know this is taking the discussion on a tangent - so kindly don't publish this. But, your reference to his 22 was an unkind cut. Imagine doubting Bradman's genius by referring to his last innings duck. :) [[ Aditya We have to live with Chandra's 22 as much as we have to live with Bradman's 0. If their scores had been interchanged, Chandra would not have had this blip and I would have had quite a few headaches trying to provide a 3+2 space for Batting average !!! Ananth: ]]

• Aditya Jha on September 22, 2009, 6:32 GMT

While Chris Martin does deserve his glory, I would like to remind people that if he has seen further it's only by sitting on the shoulders of giants like Chandra. People seem to have forgotten Chandra's greatness as a non-batsman. If only he played in the era of Akram, Waquar, Donald, Ambrose, Warne - he would have set records that even Chris would have struggled to beat. [[ Aditya The sense of humour that the Kiwis have has resulted in their expression of pride in acknowledging Martin's "greatness". You are the first Indian to present a competitor. Unfortunately his defiant 22 against Snow, Brown and company somewhat spoils his credentials. Ananth: ]]

• SANJAR ALAM on September 22, 2009, 4:55 GMT

Very interesting statistics. Leaving apart Don. whose career was reasonably long and best. But more you play particularly in latter part of career players average starts dropping. I will interested to see, there should be a table & analysis of players those who played more than 100 tests. That will show how consistent that player was through out his career.

• Richard on September 22, 2009, 2:54 GMT

Just a comment on our hero, Chris Martin. As well as his 25 ducks, he has also remained not out on zero a further 21 times, demonstrating the panic that sets in for his batting partner. This means well over half (46/72) of his test innings have failed to trouble the scorer, whereas the corresponding figure for Courtney Walsh is less than a third (58/185). We truly have a world beater representing us! [[ Richard I can honestly say that as far as I am concerned personally, the first run of Chris Martin has given me as much pleasure as Lara's cover drive to move from 149 to 153. However it seems obvious that recently Martin has resolved not to lose his wicket and let the other guy go for his big strokes and get out. In four innings in Sri Lanka, he has remained not out on 0 on 3 occasions out of 4, the other innings producing a princely 2 not out. He has also faced 25 balls. It seems Chris is losing his grip !!! Ananth: ]]

• Rishabh Srivastava on September 21, 2009, 22:19 GMT

Thanks Ananth, this was truely an enlightening post. I fully agree that ponting will surpass Tendulkar in Test but probably the highest run getter record will be with Sachin.

• Aditya Kulkarni on September 21, 2009, 16:42 GMT

I want the complete list of table of runs per innings. runs per test is not a correct measure , as innings played might be more or less , runs per innings is always a better measure [[ Aditya The link to download has been provided. Alternately you can use the following link. http://www.thirdslip.com/misc/perrpi.txt Ananth: ]]

• Alien from Andromeda on September 21, 2009, 14:42 GMT

You need to look at 100s per inning, that is very important.

• Rex on September 21, 2009, 13:41 GMT

I've always enjoyed your posts. I haven't been able to comment on all of them- since I usually don't have much to add. In this case, I have a request:

How about making a chronological list of top averages? Or atleast making some observations from the averages list about the high number of batsmen with 50+ and 40+ ave in this decade? Also, the fact that not many batsmen of this decade have a 60+ ave after 50 Tests.

A chronological assessment of the averages list can give us all the above, and deduce more nuggets of info too.

Anyway, thats that.

The Ponting and Tendulkar century, runs convergence observation was useful- especially the extra 16-18 Tests required by Punter.

Thank you!

• Richard Mackey on September 21, 2009, 11:14 GMT

Ananth,

If you were to do a table of runs per innings, as opposed to runs per test, would the results look much different? I'm thinking that runs per test is biased against middle-order batsmen who were in strong teams, so often would only play one innings in the game (Steve Waugh, as an example). [[ Richard Runs per Inns is only a variation of the Batting average. Runs per Test has some differences. Having said that we could as well do a table on RpI. I will do that table and add on to the post. Richard I have since posted the RpI table. Ananth: ]]

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• Richard Mackey on September 21, 2009, 11:14 GMT

Ananth,

If you were to do a table of runs per innings, as opposed to runs per test, would the results look much different? I'm thinking that runs per test is biased against middle-order batsmen who were in strong teams, so often would only play one innings in the game (Steve Waugh, as an example). [[ Richard Runs per Inns is only a variation of the Batting average. Runs per Test has some differences. Having said that we could as well do a table on RpI. I will do that table and add on to the post. Richard I have since posted the RpI table. Ananth: ]]

• Rex on September 21, 2009, 13:41 GMT

I've always enjoyed your posts. I haven't been able to comment on all of them- since I usually don't have much to add. In this case, I have a request:

How about making a chronological list of top averages? Or atleast making some observations from the averages list about the high number of batsmen with 50+ and 40+ ave in this decade? Also, the fact that not many batsmen of this decade have a 60+ ave after 50 Tests.

A chronological assessment of the averages list can give us all the above, and deduce more nuggets of info too.

Anyway, thats that.

The Ponting and Tendulkar century, runs convergence observation was useful- especially the extra 16-18 Tests required by Punter.

Thank you!

• Alien from Andromeda on September 21, 2009, 14:42 GMT

You need to look at 100s per inning, that is very important.

• Aditya Kulkarni on September 21, 2009, 16:42 GMT

I want the complete list of table of runs per innings. runs per test is not a correct measure , as innings played might be more or less , runs per innings is always a better measure [[ Aditya The link to download has been provided. Alternately you can use the following link. http://www.thirdslip.com/misc/perrpi.txt Ananth: ]]

• Rishabh Srivastava on September 21, 2009, 22:19 GMT

Thanks Ananth, this was truely an enlightening post. I fully agree that ponting will surpass Tendulkar in Test but probably the highest run getter record will be with Sachin.

• Richard on September 22, 2009, 2:54 GMT

Just a comment on our hero, Chris Martin. As well as his 25 ducks, he has also remained not out on zero a further 21 times, demonstrating the panic that sets in for his batting partner. This means well over half (46/72) of his test innings have failed to trouble the scorer, whereas the corresponding figure for Courtney Walsh is less than a third (58/185). We truly have a world beater representing us! [[ Richard I can honestly say that as far as I am concerned personally, the first run of Chris Martin has given me as much pleasure as Lara's cover drive to move from 149 to 153. However it seems obvious that recently Martin has resolved not to lose his wicket and let the other guy go for his big strokes and get out. In four innings in Sri Lanka, he has remained not out on 0 on 3 occasions out of 4, the other innings producing a princely 2 not out. He has also faced 25 balls. It seems Chris is losing his grip !!! Ananth: ]]

• SANJAR ALAM on September 22, 2009, 4:55 GMT

Very interesting statistics. Leaving apart Don. whose career was reasonably long and best. But more you play particularly in latter part of career players average starts dropping. I will interested to see, there should be a table & analysis of players those who played more than 100 tests. That will show how consistent that player was through out his career.

• Aditya Jha on September 22, 2009, 6:32 GMT

While Chris Martin does deserve his glory, I would like to remind people that if he has seen further it's only by sitting on the shoulders of giants like Chandra. People seem to have forgotten Chandra's greatness as a non-batsman. If only he played in the era of Akram, Waquar, Donald, Ambrose, Warne - he would have set records that even Chris would have struggled to beat. [[ Aditya The sense of humour that the Kiwis have has resulted in their expression of pride in acknowledging Martin's "greatness". You are the first Indian to present a competitor. Unfortunately his defiant 22 against Snow, Brown and company somewhat spoils his credentials. Ananth: ]]

• Aditya Jha on September 22, 2009, 8:23 GMT

I know this is taking the discussion on a tangent - so kindly don't publish this. But, your reference to his 22 was an unkind cut. Imagine doubting Bradman's genius by referring to his last innings duck. :) [[ Aditya We have to live with Chandra's 22 as much as we have to live with Bradman's 0. If their scores had been interchanged, Chandra would not have had this blip and I would have had quite a few headaches trying to provide a 3+2 space for Batting average !!! Ananth: ]]

• Vijay on September 22, 2009, 8:51 GMT

I am actually loving this argument about who is the absolute greatest: Walsh, Chandra, or Martin. Ananth, I know you don't write humor articles but can you try providing us some other statistical insights into these greats of the game (I am aware you did a worst batsman piece a few months ago but what I am requesting for is for you to figure out stats that would actually reflect their ineptness like for example how many times he touched the ball (difficult for previous generations though))