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September 21, 2009

Batting

How far ahead is the top one ...

Anantha Narayanan
Sachin Tendulkar on his way to a fifty, New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Napier, 4th day, March 29, 2009
 © AFP
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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.

To view the complete list, please click here.

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%.

To view the complete list, please click here

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.

To view the complete list, please click here

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 4.Gavaskar S.M Ind 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.

To view the complete list, please click here

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.

You can download the complete file by using the following link.

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

Or please click here.

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

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Posted by 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?

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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: ]]

Posted by 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: ]]

Posted by 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)

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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?

Posted by 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 !).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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