Trivia November 18, 2009

Least number of absences over a long career

A look at players who have missed the least number of matches in all forms of the game
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A chance remark by Shankar Narayanan of New Delhi provided the spark for this article. He wanted me to look at the fact that Dravid was rarely injured and almost never missed a Test. I started thinking about and it struck me that I could not even tell when Dravid missed a Test, if ever he did. I knew that Kapil Dev missed a single Test, courtesy Gavaskar, and I started work. Thanks to Shankar for providing the spark.

I decided that I would do this analysis for both Tests and ODIs. And as I started the work, the idea of doing a combined Test+ODIs analysis also seemed feasible especially as I have already done done a lot of work regarding the forthcoming combined batting/bowling analyses.

First let us see why players miss matches.

1. They are injured. This is the most common reason.

2. They opt out. Dhoni did that during the tour of Sri Lanka and a host of English and Australian players have done so for subcontinent tours during the early days. Not now, though, with so much money being available here.

3. In rare cases for top players, they are dropped.

An extended absence from cricket through an outside happening like war is not a reason since both the team(s) and player(s) miss matches.

The cut-off is simple. For Tests it is 50 matches, for ODIs, 100 matches and for the combined analysis, these two numbers form the minimum requirement. The question of determining the number of matches played by the team presented a nice tough challenge since the career span for each player is unique.

1. Test matches: Ordered by the number of matches played

SNo.Player               Cty  Career   <-Mats->    % Missed
Span    Own Team       Mats

1.Waugh S.R Aus 1985-2004 168 189 88.9% 21 2.Tendulkar S.R Ind 1989-2009 159 173 91.9% 14 3.Border A.R Aus 1979-1994 156 157 99.4% 1 4.Warne S.K Aus 1992-2007 145 177 81.9% 32 5.Ponting R.T Aus 1995-2009 136 159 85.5% 23 6.Dravid R Ind 1996-2009 134 135 99.3% 1 7.Stewart A.J Eng 1990-2003 133 154 86.4% 21 8.Kumble A Ind 1990-2008 132 159 83.0% 27 9.Walsh C.A Win 1984-2001 132 142 93.0% 10 10.Lara B.C Win 1990-2006 131 158 82.9% 27

The most amazing players in this group are Border and Dravid who missed a single Test each in careers lasting 15 years. Dravid missed the Motera Test during 2005. The others missed quite a few Tests, none more so than Warne. Surprisingly Kumble also missed 27 Tests, as did Lara. Tendulkar missed 14 Tests, no doubt due to his injuries.

To view the complete list, please click here.

2. Test matches: Ordered by the % of team matches played

SNo.Player               Cty  Career   <-Mats->    % Missed
Span    Own Team       Mats

1.Gilchrist A.C Aus 1999-2008 96 96 100.0% 0 2.Reid J.R Nzl 1949-1965 58 58 100.0% 0 3.Greig A.W Eng 1972-1977 58 58 100.0% 0 4.de Villiers A.B Saf 2004-2009 52 52 100.0% 0 5.Border A.R Aus 1979-1994 156 157 99.4% 1 6.Dravid R Ind 1996-2009 134 135 99.3% 1 7.Kapil Dev N Ind 1978-1994 131 132 99.2% 1 8.Healy I.A Aus 1988-1999 119 120 99.2% 1 9.Dujon P.J.L Win 1981-1991 81 82 98.8% 1 10.Waugh M.E Aus 1991-2002 128 130 98.5% 2 11.Lawry W.M Aus 1961-1971 67 68 98.5% 1 12.Fredericks R.C Win 1968-1977 59 60 98.3% 1 ... 221.Martyn D.R Aus 1992-2006 67 167 40.1% 100 ... 224.Titmus F.J Eng 1955-1975 53 185 28.6% 132

What does one say of Gilchrist. 96 straight Tests and if he had not missed that catch off Laxman would have gone on past 100. This is some level of fitness. Reid and Greig played 58 straight Tests each. Greig broke this sequence since he was involved with Packer. Let us see how long is de Villiers' run. Kapil Dev missed one Test, not because he was injured, but Gavaskar's making him the scapegoat for playing a poor shot. Quite a few others have missed only one Test.

Incidentally Pietersen had a run of 54 consecutive Tests which was broken by his recent injury. Note also the very low % of matches of Martyn indicating his in-out playing career. He also had a long break between 1994 and 2000. What he achieved despite this treatment is amazing. Titmus had a six-year hiatus between 1968 and 1974.

To view the complete list, please click here.

3. ODI matches: Ordered by the number of matches played

SNo.Player               Cty  Career   <-Mats->    % Missed
Span    Own Team       Mats

1.Jayasuriya S.T Slk 1989-2009 440 494 89.1% 54 2.Tendulkar S.R Ind 1989-2009 436 562 77.6% 126 3.Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 1991-2007 378 450 84.0% 72 4.Wasim Akram Pak 1984-2003 356 478 74.5% 122 5.Dravid R Ind 1996-2009 339 447 75.8% 108 6.Azharuddin M Ind 1985-2000 334 379 88.1% 45 7.Muralitharan M Slk 1993-2009 333 445 74.8% 112 8.Ponting R.T Aus 1995-2009 330 404 81.7% 74 9.Waugh S.R Aus 1986-2002 325 357 91.0% 32 10.Vaas WPUJC Slk 1994-2008 324 399 81.2% 75

At the top it is not easy to even get to 90% which has been achieved only by Steve Waugh. Note the very high number of matches missed by Tendulkar which has pushed his playing % to below 80.

To view the complete list, please click here.

4. ODI matches: Ordered by the % of team matches played

SNo.Player               Cty  Career   <-Mats->    % Missed
Span    Own Team       Mats

1.Cronje W.J Saf 1992-2000 188 191 98.4% 3 2.Tikolo S.O Ken 1996-2009 126 128 98.4% 2 3.Flower A Zim 1992-2003 213 218 97.7% 5 4.Dhoni M.S Ind 2004-2009 151 155 97.4% 4 5.Khaled Mashud Bng 1995-2006 126 130 96.9% 4 6.Dujon P.J.L Win 1981-1991 169 177 95.5% 8 7.Sangakkara K.C Slk 2000-2009 256 270 94.8% 14 8.Boucher M.V Saf 1998-2009 285 303 94.1% 18 9.Border A.R Aus 1979-1994 273 290 94.1% 17 10.Odoyo T.M Ken 1996-2009 120 128 93.8% 8 ... 174.Hayden M.L Aus 1993-2008 161 392 41.1% 231 ... 178.Kambli V.G Ind 1991-2000 104 272 38.2% 168 179.Mushtaq Ahmed Pak 1989-2003 144 402 35.8% 258

The African players rule the roost here, picking up the top 3 places. Tikolo and Andy Flower come from the lesser nations. Dhoni's run of 150+ matches, missing only four, that too a voluntary decision, is commendable.

Note Hayden's extraordinarily low % of matches. After making his ODI debut in 1993, he had a 6-year break until 2000, after which he was devastating. Kambli was in and out. Mushtaq played a single disastrous match three years after his retirement.

To view the complete list, please click here.

5. Test+ODI matches: Ordered by the number of matches played

SNo.Player               Cty  Career   <-Mats->    %
Span    Own Team

1.Tendulkar S.R Ind 1989-2009 595 735 81.0% 2.Jayasuriya S.T Slk 1989-2009 550 636 86.5% 3.Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 1991-2007 498 586 85.0% 4.Waugh S.R Aus 1985-2004 493 546 90.3% 5.Dravid R Ind 1996-2009 473 582 81.3% 6.Ponting R.T Aus 1995-2009 466 563 82.8% 7.Muralitharan M Slk 1992-2009 462 597 77.4% 8.Wasim Akram Pak 1984-2003 460 609 75.5% 9.Vaas WPUJC Slk 1994-2009 435 532 81.8% 10.Azharuddin M Ind 1985-2000 433 489 88.5% 11.Lara B.C Win 1990-2007 429 532 80.6% 12.Border A.R Aus 1979-1994 429 447 96.0%

The only two players who have 90+% in this top-12 table are Steve Waugh and Border. It is a tribute to their fitness. Tendulkar just about gets past 80%. Note how high Azharuddin's playing %, a tribute to his fitness.

To view the complete list, please click here.

6. Test+ODI matches: Ordered by the % of team matches played

SNo.Player               Cty  Career   <-Mats->    %
Span    Own Team

1.Cronje W.J Saf 1992-2000 256 261 98.1% 2.Flower A Zim 1992-2003 276 283 97.5% 3.Dujon P.J.L Win 1981-1991 250 259 96.5% 4.Border A.R Aus 1979-1994 429 447 96.0% 5.Sangakkara K.C Slk 2000-2009 341 357 95.5% 6.Healy I.A Aus 1988-1999 287 301 95.3% 7.Kapil Dev N Ind 1978-1994 356 375 94.9% 8.Boucher M.V Saf 1997-2009 411 438 93.8% 9.Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 1997-2009 416 446 93.3% 10.Marsh G.R Aus 1985-1992 167 180 92.8% ... 106.Abdul Qadir Pak 1977-1993 171 323 52.9% 107.Sidhu N.S Ind 1983-1999 187 357 52.4% 108.Martyn D.R Aus 1992-2006 275 530 51.9% 109.Hayden M.L Aus 1993-2009 264 561 47.1% 110.Mushtaq Ahmed Pak 1989-2003 196 513 38.2%

Again here Cronje is on top, followed by Andy Flower. Australia has three players in the top-10. At the end of the table we have players, barring Hayden, already discussed, who have had chequered careers. Qadir, in Tests, had a poor start, playing 10 matches in 5 years. In case of Mushtaq, his unsuccessful comeback efforts in 2003 have extended his overall career by three years. Sidhu had a 5-year gap after his debut in 1983.

Kepler Wessels has been deliberately excluded since his two-country career spanning 12 years does not lend itself to this type of analysis.

To view the complete list, please click here.

Finally one can see that the batsmen dominate the top portions of the lists. As Goel mentioned, bowlers find it difficult to maintain their playing status because of multitude of reasons.

As Sesha requested I have completed the work on longest treaks and given below is the top-10 streaks. This was one tough job.

Border after missing the fourth test had a long streak, unlikely ever to be broken. Similarly Mark Waugh finished with over 100 consecutive tests once he came back. Gavaskar had a 100+ test run just before the end of his career. Gilchrist's run covered his entire career. Dravid's streak was at the start of his career.

To view the complete list, please click here.

Test streaks: Minimum 50 consecutive tests

Player              Team Mats CareerSpan  <--Streak--> Tests

Border A.R Aus 156 838-1256 849 to 1256 153 Waugh M.E Aus 128 1161-1620 1223 to 1620 107 Gavaskar S.M Ind 125 683-1073 753 to 1066 106 Gilchrist A.C Aus 96 1467-1863 1467 to 1863 96 Dravid R Ind 134 1328-1918 1328 to 1776 94 Viswanath G.R Ind 91 666- 948 684 to 948 87 Hayden M.L Aus 103 1252-1904 1493 to 1857 86 Sobers G.St.A Win 93 386- 738 404 to 697 85 Tendulkar S.R Ind 159 1127-1918 1127 to 1549 84 Boucher M.V Saf 126 1381-1916 1400 to 1710 75

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • female travel companion on June 18, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    Truly nice blog to pay attention to to my mind. I have a question, why haven't you you add it to social bookmarks? It might bring rather big traffic to this domain.

  • Kartik on December 6, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    Something just occurred to me along these lines.

    Tendulkar has played 162 Tests over 20 years.

    But he has NEVER been the oldest person in the XI. Even now, Dravid is older than him. In the one Test Dravid missed, Kumble and Ganguly are also older than Tendulkar.

    Imagine such a long period, and 162 Tests, without EVER being the oldest person.

    This is a record, of course, but the question is, by what distance? Who played the most consecutive Tests without being the oldest, after Tendular? Mark Waugh? Did McGrath ever play in a Test where he was the oldest Australian? [[ Kartik This is the one request which I cannot do since I do not have the dob info. But an intriguing idea, neverthless. Ananth: ]]

  • SHANKAR KRISHNAN on November 30, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    A quick search indicates there were two double- international players for India. Kotah Ramaswami - Davis Cup Tennis & Test Cricket AND M J Gopalan - Hockey & Cricket. Younis Ahmed briefly held the record for the maximum period elapsed between 2 tests- 18 years !1969 to 1987. Until John Traicos beat the record- 22 years - 1970 to 1992. Can it be confirmed please?

  • Sesha on November 27, 2009, 23:59 GMT

    Interesting to the see the concentration of Indians, Aussies in most of the top tables for tests. I could be statistically wrong...but somehow I get the feeling that these two teams have quite a stable line up in the last 10-12 years. Ananth in future when you have some time you can consider analysing number of testmatches a group of players in a team have played together...Min 2 to Max 11 :-) [[ Sesha Like Unnikrishnan, you are coming out with some unusual requests. That is a nice one. Quite tough though. You have to give me some time. Ananth: ]]

  • Pelham Barton on November 27, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    Quick correction to my posting on November 26: Close "only" missed 222 Tests, not 226. He played 22.

  • Jeff on November 27, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    @ Pelham Barton

    Very interesting post - I guess it would be very hard to find a player who has missed more than Close given the length of his career and the small number of matches he actually played.

    One possible candidate I thought of was Mark Ramprakash. There's a case to say that he should still be in the England team (witness the calls for him to be recalled for the final Ashes test) so if you also include all the matches that England have played since he last played test cricket then he has "missed" 167 matches - still nowhere near Close - but if he continues to play and do well in county cricket for another couple of years then he may get to over 200 missed matches.

  • Sesha on November 27, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Thanks a lot for your further analysis. Hats off. Great to see bloggers like you with such positive energy and willingness to share resources and knowledge...heartfelt Thanks....

    Good to note that Sachin is the first person have a continuous streak of 84 matches from debut later overtaken by Dravid and Gilly....

    As you mentioned...Border's record would be unbeatable... Hayden's streak is a testimonial of the strength of his comeback he came back like a Tsunami...Interesting not to see Kapil & Healy's name twice in the list of continuous streaks of 50 matches or more... I guess they should be only 2 guys who achieved it twice...Surprise Exclusions are S.R.Waugh & Ponting...Cant imagine they never played 50 continuous matches... [[ Sesha Very perceptive of you to make the comment on Kapil and Healy. My program only determined the longest streak for a player once. I ran combinations from the first test, determining the streaks and selecting the longest. Steve Waugh played 42 tests from his debut (1033) to 1160. Then he was dropped in favour of Mark. After that he has missed tests once a while. Ponting played 33 tests consecutively from 1516 to 1643. I get the feeling the current rotation policy of the Australian selectors has contributed a lot to this. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on November 27, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    This is to inform all readers in general and Seshasayee in particlular, that the Playing streak table, as requested by Sesha, has been posted in the main article.

  • keyur on November 26, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    firstly thanks for putting a fascinating list. Interesting to see the fitness of kapil,dravid,gilchrist. The fitness of c walsh is even more commendable given that bowlers are more prone to being dropped or injured. Also as a suggestion: why not arrange the players into batsman, bowler and all rounder before naming the mos fittest among them? E.g. kapil the fittest all rounder, walsh the fittest bowler and gilly the fittest w.k. This allows for comparison with others whose workload is similar.

  • Pelham Barton on November 26, 2009, 12:55 GMT

    In response to one of Kartik's comments on November 22, that Graham Gooch was the only player who could have played 200 Tests.

    It depends what you mean by "could have played 200 Tests". Brian Close made his Test debut in 1949 and played his last Test in 1976. England played 244 Tests during his career span, with no overlapping series as in 1929-30.

    Close actually missed 226 Tests - is this the record?

  • female travel companion on June 18, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    Truly nice blog to pay attention to to my mind. I have a question, why haven't you you add it to social bookmarks? It might bring rather big traffic to this domain.

  • Kartik on December 6, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    Something just occurred to me along these lines.

    Tendulkar has played 162 Tests over 20 years.

    But he has NEVER been the oldest person in the XI. Even now, Dravid is older than him. In the one Test Dravid missed, Kumble and Ganguly are also older than Tendulkar.

    Imagine such a long period, and 162 Tests, without EVER being the oldest person.

    This is a record, of course, but the question is, by what distance? Who played the most consecutive Tests without being the oldest, after Tendular? Mark Waugh? Did McGrath ever play in a Test where he was the oldest Australian? [[ Kartik This is the one request which I cannot do since I do not have the dob info. But an intriguing idea, neverthless. Ananth: ]]

  • SHANKAR KRISHNAN on November 30, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    A quick search indicates there were two double- international players for India. Kotah Ramaswami - Davis Cup Tennis & Test Cricket AND M J Gopalan - Hockey & Cricket. Younis Ahmed briefly held the record for the maximum period elapsed between 2 tests- 18 years !1969 to 1987. Until John Traicos beat the record- 22 years - 1970 to 1992. Can it be confirmed please?

  • Sesha on November 27, 2009, 23:59 GMT

    Interesting to the see the concentration of Indians, Aussies in most of the top tables for tests. I could be statistically wrong...but somehow I get the feeling that these two teams have quite a stable line up in the last 10-12 years. Ananth in future when you have some time you can consider analysing number of testmatches a group of players in a team have played together...Min 2 to Max 11 :-) [[ Sesha Like Unnikrishnan, you are coming out with some unusual requests. That is a nice one. Quite tough though. You have to give me some time. Ananth: ]]

  • Pelham Barton on November 27, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    Quick correction to my posting on November 26: Close "only" missed 222 Tests, not 226. He played 22.

  • Jeff on November 27, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    @ Pelham Barton

    Very interesting post - I guess it would be very hard to find a player who has missed more than Close given the length of his career and the small number of matches he actually played.

    One possible candidate I thought of was Mark Ramprakash. There's a case to say that he should still be in the England team (witness the calls for him to be recalled for the final Ashes test) so if you also include all the matches that England have played since he last played test cricket then he has "missed" 167 matches - still nowhere near Close - but if he continues to play and do well in county cricket for another couple of years then he may get to over 200 missed matches.

  • Sesha on November 27, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Thanks a lot for your further analysis. Hats off. Great to see bloggers like you with such positive energy and willingness to share resources and knowledge...heartfelt Thanks....

    Good to note that Sachin is the first person have a continuous streak of 84 matches from debut later overtaken by Dravid and Gilly....

    As you mentioned...Border's record would be unbeatable... Hayden's streak is a testimonial of the strength of his comeback he came back like a Tsunami...Interesting not to see Kapil & Healy's name twice in the list of continuous streaks of 50 matches or more... I guess they should be only 2 guys who achieved it twice...Surprise Exclusions are S.R.Waugh & Ponting...Cant imagine they never played 50 continuous matches... [[ Sesha Very perceptive of you to make the comment on Kapil and Healy. My program only determined the longest streak for a player once. I ran combinations from the first test, determining the streaks and selecting the longest. Steve Waugh played 42 tests from his debut (1033) to 1160. Then he was dropped in favour of Mark. After that he has missed tests once a while. Ponting played 33 tests consecutively from 1516 to 1643. I get the feeling the current rotation policy of the Australian selectors has contributed a lot to this. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on November 27, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    This is to inform all readers in general and Seshasayee in particlular, that the Playing streak table, as requested by Sesha, has been posted in the main article.

  • keyur on November 26, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    firstly thanks for putting a fascinating list. Interesting to see the fitness of kapil,dravid,gilchrist. The fitness of c walsh is even more commendable given that bowlers are more prone to being dropped or injured. Also as a suggestion: why not arrange the players into batsman, bowler and all rounder before naming the mos fittest among them? E.g. kapil the fittest all rounder, walsh the fittest bowler and gilly the fittest w.k. This allows for comparison with others whose workload is similar.

  • Pelham Barton on November 26, 2009, 12:55 GMT

    In response to one of Kartik's comments on November 22, that Graham Gooch was the only player who could have played 200 Tests.

    It depends what you mean by "could have played 200 Tests". Brian Close made his Test debut in 1949 and played his last Test in 1976. England played 244 Tests during his career span, with no overlapping series as in 1929-30.

    Close actually missed 226 Tests - is this the record?

  • Youvi on November 25, 2009, 1:09 GMT

    Ananth- Form and fitness are the primary reasons for career gaps and unbroken streaks. This is rightfully so and as mentioned elsewhere there are unique examples of players missing matches for other reasons. I have been also been wondering about sorting the info you presented country-wise. I hesitate to over-infer (as you cautioned elsewhere in this post). However, the individual countries and their selection policies do vary. I readily admit these variations cannot be measured so I tread very carefully here. However, certain selection boards may come across as more whimsical than others. A star player may be allowed to prolong his career in certain countries for a world record even though the same player may be a mere shadow of his own former self. I would think such a situation would be rarer in a country like Australia. Some selection boards may seen more "professional" than others. However, again, this is purely subjective. [[ Youvi My only advice was not to make this a ranking list. You are at liberty to download the full file, draw your own conclusions re the country based players and share (or not) with the rest. Ananth: ]]

  • Steve on November 24, 2009, 22:53 GMT

    Fascinating list, thank you. I find it remarkable that in over 130 years of Test cricket, only 4 players have played over 50 matches without missing a game. Before you did this analysis, did you expect a different result? [[ Steve You are not completely correct. Your statement should read "There are only 4 players who have played 50-tests plus careers in an uninterrupted sequence". There are many players who have played 50 tests consecutively. As requested by Sesha I will be doing an add-on on consecutive streaks. I knew about Gilchrist and Greig. However Reid and de Villiers were surprises. Of course, de Villiers could be dropped or injured over the next few matches. Ananth: ]]

  • Mike on November 24, 2009, 14:12 GMT

    How come Robin Singh doesn't feature in the list? I understand that he had a big gap between his debut and his ODI recall. [[ Mike Since Robin Singh has played in a single test, he comes nowhere near consideration. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on November 24, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    I agree that I need not have used the nick name...however I'm correct in referring to Sachin with that nick name...thats how juniors in the team refer to him.. for your reference Wikipedia, Timesofindia articles on Cricketer nick names...

    Any luck on Longest streaks in test cricket? [[ Sesha

    I am tied up so much with other work that even though I have done the preliminary work on the playing streak I am not able to complete the same. Will do when I am able to find some free time. Ananth: ]]

  • JII on November 24, 2009, 4:19 GMT

    Why has no one mentioned about Sir Viv? I remember having read somewhere that he has played World Cup football qualifiers for Antigua. [[ Jos You might just be right. The following is an extract from the Wikipedia entry on the great Richards. "He also played football for Antigua, appearing in qualifying matches for the 1974 World Cup." Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on November 24, 2009, 1:51 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    I have an idea to do an analysis on projection rather than the past. Ignoring Fitness and Form, based on age and matches played by team and self alone, can you come out with a projection of who could overtake Murali or Sachin/Ponting/Dravid. I guess this should be similar to 'How far ahead is the top' blog you did few weeks back.

    My bet: Bowlers: NONE in the next 30-40 years

    Batsmen: Possible Candidates: Graham Smith, Mike Clarke, KP, JP Duminy (too early..but still) [[ Sesha While your suggestion is valid and can be done, I would be the stupidest guy in the world to attempt that. If by any chance I come out and say that xyz would finish ahead of abc, god knows how many people would spring up and accuse me of everything including being a traitor. They would completely miss the idea behind the article. The idea, however, is intriguing. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on November 24, 2009, 1:45 GMT

    Kartik: As Ananth rightly pointed out I dont know why you assumed that both Paajji and Dravid are not playing beyond 2011.

    If Sachin stops playing Test Cricket now and currently there is nothing to choose between Ponting and Sachin in terms of Test average, it would take Ponting close to 17-18 test matches to reach/overtake Sachin. This means 14-15 more months. Also note Ponting's average is only around 45 in the last 23 tests and 36 in the last 42 ODIs (2 years). Fortunately nobody starts shouting that Ponting has lost his prime and he has to retire and give way to youngsters ..blah blah blah...:-) None the less the race will be quite tight..ODIs Impossible ever as the gap is too wide and # of ODIs is not going to increase in the future. Since India is playing only 4 more Tests till May 10, that could be one reason y Paaji is thinking of playing 20-20 for Middlesex..which I personally think is not the best thing to do.lets see what he decides.. [[ Sesha While I think the comments are valid why introduce a nickname almost unknown for Tendulkar. Paaji I have heard for Kapil but not for Tendulkar. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on November 23, 2009, 23:53 GMT

    Why are you assuming that the two greats, if they are fit, would not extend their career beyond 2011.

    Because it is extremely rare for an Indian cricketer to maintain top form after the age of 37 or so. They can't emulate the likes of S. Waugh, Hayden, Warne, etc.

    Other than Gavaskar, I can't think of any Indian cricketer that was an exception to the pattern of severe drop in form -> sudden retirement.

    Vengsarkar, Kapil, Kumble, etc. all fit the bill.

    Show me one Indian cricketer other than Gavaskar who was still productive after the age of 37.

    Dravid and Tendulkar will both be 38 by 2011. Laxman will be 36/37. [[ Kartik You have to give credit for Dravid's level of fitness and Tendulkar's appetite for competitive cricket to give both of them a more than even chance of extending their career beyond 2011. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on November 23, 2009, 14:13 GMT

    @ Sam

    Denis Compton is one dual international who is on the list (although strictly speaking, he only represented England in "unofficial" wartime football matches.)

    I seem to remember reading that he once missed out on an England tour (Windies in 47/48??) in order to try and get his place back in the Arsenal football team. [[ Jeff Unfortunately there is no double international in India (I wait to be corrected). The closest was C.Goswami of Bengal. He played Football for India around 50 times and played nearly as many matches for Bengal in Cricket. He probably was not good enough to be picked for India in Cricket. However when I see 39 one-test wonders for India, I am sure Goswami could not have done worse. He could bat and bowl. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on November 22, 2009, 7:19 GMT

    A couple more observations :

    1) Gooch is the only player who could have played over 200 Tests. He actually played in under 60% of the Tests during his career.

    2) Hadlee, being from a lesser team, only had 100 Tests available to him in 18 years, of which he played in 86. England or Australia would have played 50% more Tests over the same period - Hadlee could have done much more if he happened to be in a country that played more Tests.

    3) Botham and Imran both missed over one-third of their Tests. For all of Imran's longevity, he played only 4 Tests a year, and in some of these he didn't bowl. So his career output was pretty diluted.

  • Kartik on November 22, 2009, 7:08 GMT

    Given that India are only going to play 4 more Tests this season, and then there will be another 10-month gap, Dravid and Tendulkar will only be adding 4 more Tests to their records.

    And this means Tendulkar will not break Waugh's record of 168. [[ Kartik Why are you assuming that the two greats, if they are fit, would not extend their career beyond 2011. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik on November 22, 2009, 5:30 GMT

    The large number of ODIs Tendulkar has missed is why to incredible landmarks will elude him :

    20,000 ODI runs 100 international centuries

    Had he managed just, say, 40 more ODIs, he might have ended up with both. But now I predict he will end with 18,500 ODI runs, 13,500 Test runs, and 94 international centuries.

  • Kartik on November 22, 2009, 5:23 GMT

    Kapil's political dropping denied him of what would have been a truly unbeatable world record - that of 132 consecurive tests since debut.

    Even Border and Dravid missed a test, but Kapil would have stood alone as never having missed a test (to go along with his record of never having been run out in Tests).

  • Kartik on November 22, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    What does one say of Gilchrist. 96 straight Tests and if he had not missed that catch off Laxman would have gone on past 100.

    Can you elaborate? Gilchrist retired at a predetermined time, not because he was dropped. [[ Kartik I think I have framed the sentences quite carefully. I know Gilchrist retired on his own. However he is on record saying that something clicked when he dropped that Laxman catch and he decided to call it quits. I am only assuming that he he had held on to Laxman's catch, many things, including Gilchrist's retirement plans, might have changed. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghunath V.J on November 22, 2009, 4:57 GMT

    as Sesha has pointed out-Kapil's fitness-for a fast bowling all-rounder who also played one-dayers -is unparallelled.In sub-continental wickets he took a heavy workload and still never missed a test for fitness/injury. todays fast/medium fast bowlers miss as many as they play.Has any other fast bowler who had anything like his load been as fit-Alec Bedser between 46 and 53 perhaps,but he didnt have to play one -dayers and opted out of India tours.

  • Sam on November 22, 2009, 2:06 GMT

    Jeff Wilson is not unique either. There have a fair few NZ players to have played both cricket and rugby at international level. The best known (after Jeff Wilson) would be Brian McKechnie. He only ever played a dozen or so ODIs of course, which were spread over 6 years, but was of course the batsman on strike during the underarm incident, in his rugby career he also managed to be involved in controversy when he kicked a penalty the Welsh still insist was incorrectly awarded. I suspect Wilson is remarkable in that he played cricket, then gave it up to play rugby and then came back. I'd hazard a guess, though, that the majority of dual internationals of this sort would not have played a great many tests and so would not have been considered in this analysis.

  • Saurav Saharia on November 21, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    as ananth you are saying you seriously doubt anyone's going to beat sachin's run aggregate in either forms of the game, think about the coming up year or two where india plays negligible no. of tests compared to australia.

  • Jeff on November 20, 2009, 12:11 GMT

    Actually I should edit the remark I made about Warne in case someone gets the wrong idea.

    He didn't take an "illegal" substance, rather he tested postitive for a "prohibited" substance. He didn't break any laws, just some sporting rules...

    And another unusual reason for missing matches (although he didn't play enough to make Ananth's list) comes courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

    He played some ODIs for NZ in 92/93 and then had a 12 year gap before playing again.

    The reason? He was one of the best rugby players in the world and consequently spent his time playing for the All Blacks. [[ Jeff Wonderful contributions like these by you and others make all the hours I put in worthwhile. In his first avatar, New Zealand trailed 0-2 and Jeff Wilson contributed with the ball in one match and with the bat in the fourth match to help bring the Kiwis back to 2-2 and then they lost the decider by three runs, Wilson again doing his bit with the bat. Incidentally Warne made his ODI debut in the third match and was bowled by Wilson. I would conclude that he probably had great success with the All-Blacks. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • Pelham Barton on November 20, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    A separate point from my previous posting: I strongly believe that some adjustments are needed to a few England cricketers whose career spanned the 1929-30 season, when there were two separate England teams playing Tests concurrently in West Indies and New Zealand. For example, H Sutcliffe did not play on either tour, but should not be regarded as having missed 8 Test matches: he could only have played in at most 4. It would be more reasonable to count him as having played 54 out of a maximum possible 75 Tests for a percentage of 72.0% matches played and 21 missed. Similar adjustments are needed for WR Hammond, JB Hobbs, FE Woolley, EH Hendren, and W Rhodes. [[ Pelham (lovely name since my favourite author is Sir Pelham G Wodehouse) The purpose of these articles is to bring to light some of the enlightening facts which are brought up by readers like you. We are not trying to rank players. Some of Jeff's points are also new insights. Ananth: ]]

  • ted on November 20, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    commendable to the likes of wasim and walsh to be in the lists in the first place.personally surprised

  • Pelham Barton on November 20, 2009, 9:49 GMT

    An interesting analysis. As you say, one can not read too much into the meaning of the very simple measure used. This is clearly shown in the case of FJ Titmus. He played 2 Test matches in 1955, then had a gap of nearly 7 years before playing 47 out of 58 England matches (81.0%). After the boating injury which cost him four toes, he had another gap of nearly 7 years (which you mentioned) but was recalled to the England side at the age of 41 to play 4 more Tests. A more refined statistic would be to say that 88.7% of his career was made up of a period where he played in 81.0% of all possible matches, giving a combined measure of 0.887 times 81.0% equals 71.9%. Of course, one would need to consider all possible mid-career spans for all players and the calculations would be tedious, so I am not suggesting you do this. In the case of Titmus, if his two long career gaps had come after (say) his 17th and 35th Tests, he would not benefit as much from such an adjustment.

  • Jeff on November 20, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    @ Engle.

    Just a few cases of players missing games for reasons other than injury or form:

    Warne due to his ban for taking an illegal substance. Botham also missed matches for disciplinary reasons.

    Several Windies players of recent years for wrangles with the board. A similar thing for a number of players in the Packer era.

    2 really interesting cases in the list are Wlfred Rhodes & Frank Woolley. In 1930, England toured Windies & NZ - AT THE SAME TIME! Rhodes was on the Windies tour and Woolley on the NZ one - meaning that they both "missed" the matches that the other party played, even though it was physically impossible for them to be in 2 places at once!

    And didn't Bradman miss a test when he refused to give up his newspaper column? I think the board made up some injury excuse at the time to cover it up.

    And finally, Boycott was once dropped for scoring a double century too slowly !! I suppose that was performance-related but it's still "oddball" ! [[ Jeff Thanks for the nice collection of points. Ananth: ]]

  • Engle on November 19, 2009, 16:11 GMT

    Dravid and Border field mainly in the slips; does this have any bearing on their lack of injuries. I suppose those who have to run or chase high catches may be more susceptible to injuries. Just a thought, nothing more. Kapil's petty dropping may be one of those few reasons where a player was dropped for reasons other than injury or performance. I'd be curious to find other oddball (pardon the pun) reasons for dropping a star player.

  • alex on November 19, 2009, 10:31 GMT

    Ananth - nice article. Could you please add one more table for the #years played (with the cut-off of a player's span > 10 years)? Before WW-II, there were a lot fewer test matches but some players had really long career spans. Some stat on % of matches missed by them would be nice; of course, in those days, 1st class matches and day-jobs for amateurs were also important. [[ Alex You will note that with the low limit of 50 tests, almost everyone of note has found a place. Ananth: ]]

  • Devadatta on November 19, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    One esoteric reason why Tendulkar (and also JAdeja, Kumble & Robin Singh) missed a few ODIs is because they were playing the unofficial (but BCCI-approved) Commonwealth Games while Indian team was playing in Canada.

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 5:59 GMT

    A agree Ananth that Dravid should retire from ODIs solely for the way he has been treated..He is arguably the second best batsman India has ever produced...

    Good to see Wrist King Azhar in the ODI list... The days when he was the highest run scorer in ODI and most experienced ODI player seems to be too long ago ...:-) He was a terrific ODI player...

  • Rohington on November 19, 2009, 2:44 GMT

    abhi,sesha: Im probably a bigger tendulkar fan than the two of you!! ha! but as ananth says basically this thing is just another list: sort of casual information and should be treated as such.

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 2:28 GMT

    I stand corrected on the my statistic on continuous streak for Sachin. It is 84 and not 94 as I had mentioned. Further...Dravid's form, talent and above all fitness requires great mention....For a batsman like Dravid who relies more on running runs than hit and watch Sehwag style...his fitness is mind boggling... If at all Ponting breaks Sachin's record for most runs...which I unbiasedly doubt we can bank on Dravid to break the record(either Sachin's or Ponting's)...provided he does not decide to retire..That guy can just keep going... [[ Sesha I seriously doubt whether anyone will ever break Tendulkar's run aggregate record in either form of cricket. However I strongly feel that Dravid should announce his retirement from the ODI game because of the way he has been treated. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 1:51 GMT

    Another interesting fact that comes out is the poor fitness levels of current fast bolwers...

    Baring exception like Ntini no modernday fast bowler is escaping injury... Cricket Boards should really look into this problem as the true art of Test match fast bowling is endangered...

    Older era bowlers bowled faster, more overs and still remained fit... something has crept into the routine in the last decade or so which is actually not doing much help in keeping fast bowlers fit...may be it could be Cricketers playing sports like Football, Rugby and what not in their practice routine...I cant imagine Football or Hockey or Rugby players play any other game in their practice routine...

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 1:21 GMT

    Hi Ananth, Kodos on yet another meaningful analysis... using simple logic and no complex statistical jargons :-)..Very Striking to see that among the guys with least test match misses...Gilly, Healy, Dujon are keepers (with grt batting abilities also) and this is supposed to be one of the toughest task in cricket.Kapil is by far the fittest cricketer ever to have entered a cricket ground..All know that his record should have read 132 consecutive matches...but his fitness level is unbelievable for a bowler to keep bowling in subcontinent wickets and be the highest wicket taker, score 5000 test runs..he is a phenom... Me being ARGUABLY the greatest fan of Tendulkar.and if my memory is not wrong, he had a continuous streak of 94 matcs befor he got injurd for a series vs SL...His streak of 94 was then the second highest behind AB..Ananth can you just add one more table of longest streaks and if possible further divide the list for Bat,bowl,Keep,All Rounders... [[ Sesha Thanks first of all for understanding the simple idea behind the analysis and not reading too much into it. Determining the individual streak is a tough job. I will try and do it and post in a day or two. Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on November 18, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    This is a piece of statistics from which I find very hard to draw any conclusion,especially for bowlers. In a team , generally the top 6 batsmen are in the team whatever the conditions may be;not true for bowlers. Fast bowlers get dropped on spinning pitches, spinners get dropped on fast pitches. This has nothing to do with palyers fitness or skill level.Just the nature of the game. Bowlers must have a seperate list than batsmen.

    Secondly to consider even one match followed by long break as start of career is incorrect. This just penalises players who came in at a young age, go out and then come back after few years to have a great career. I can think of Saurav ganguly ODI career as an example of this. You must take a minimum of 5test or 15 ODI as start of career to draw any realistic conclusion [[ Goel Do not read more than what has been presented. The problem is if you try and derive some sort of conclusion. There is no need to come to a conclusion from every article. Some are presented just for information. There is no need to say that someone is penalized. No one has been penalized. Instead, use the tables to know that Kapil, Dravid and Border missed only one test. That Gilchrist had a non-stop career of 96 tests. That Hayden had a six-year break after his debut. That Cronje almost missed no match. That Mushtaq made a comeback 6 years after his retirement. And so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on November 18, 2009, 13:38 GMT

    Agreed, Let’s just say it is easier to compare players whose careers I am wholly familiar and intimate with. I can literally reel of numerous stats regarding these two. Much more difficult for me to do a say Border, Cronje, Tendulkar, Inzy comparison. Also if it is fitness levels, then both ODIs and Tests must be combined of course- so, the last list is most valid. Re. the point of more matches, it also depends on the “density” of matches. Dravid played 30 Test mtchs more in over 13 yrs, i.e. 3 Tests a yr more. Just right without causing too much overload, I would imagine.

  • Abhi on November 18, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    I think the approach is not wholly correct. Especially if considering fitness levels then the time factor is as (or perhaps more) important than the number of matches factor. As an eg it is more difficult to maintain fitness for say 20 yrs than 10 yrs. As an eg: If you consider 13 yrs 5 mths(Dravid’s career span so far) from Tendulkar’s debut (Till 15 Apr 2003) India played 108 Tests and Tendulkar played in 105 of those. So, he missed 3 (I am not sure for what reasons and when- haven’t checked). Dravid missed 1 in his career so far. Thereafter, with the added ODI overload on Tendulkar the injuries stacked up. It is doubtful whether Dravid can keep up the same performance till he too completes 20 yrs. In any case, it may be a blessing in disguise that he is in and out of the ODI team and so escapes a lot of additional wear and tear.

    Essentially, for a fit sportsman a lot of matches concentrated into a shorter period will mean lesser matches missed, than if the workload is sustained for longer time periods.

    In the same 13 yr 5 mth span Tendulkar has played a total of 169 inn (105mtch) as compared to Dravid 135 mtc (235 inn)…so not only was Dravid fortunate enough to have a greater concentration of matches in a shorter period at his peak and injury free, but also naturally he would naturally miss less matches- especially since there is a very little possibility of him being dropped for Tests. [[ Abhi Surely every article need not be responded with a defend-Tendulkar-at-all-costs comment. Where was the need to bring in a comparison like this when I have made on overall analysis of ALL PLAYERS who have played 50 tests or 100 ODIs or both, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE CAREER SPAN. Also if you talk about comparing the career span of two specific players what about the career spans of the other players. Aren't there hundreds of such comparisons. Finally if Dravid had the benefit of larger number of matches in as shorter time span, surely that increases the possibility of his getting injured. Ananth: ]]

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  • Abhi on November 18, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    I think the approach is not wholly correct. Especially if considering fitness levels then the time factor is as (or perhaps more) important than the number of matches factor. As an eg it is more difficult to maintain fitness for say 20 yrs than 10 yrs. As an eg: If you consider 13 yrs 5 mths(Dravid’s career span so far) from Tendulkar’s debut (Till 15 Apr 2003) India played 108 Tests and Tendulkar played in 105 of those. So, he missed 3 (I am not sure for what reasons and when- haven’t checked). Dravid missed 1 in his career so far. Thereafter, with the added ODI overload on Tendulkar the injuries stacked up. It is doubtful whether Dravid can keep up the same performance till he too completes 20 yrs. In any case, it may be a blessing in disguise that he is in and out of the ODI team and so escapes a lot of additional wear and tear.

    Essentially, for a fit sportsman a lot of matches concentrated into a shorter period will mean lesser matches missed, than if the workload is sustained for longer time periods.

    In the same 13 yr 5 mth span Tendulkar has played a total of 169 inn (105mtch) as compared to Dravid 135 mtc (235 inn)…so not only was Dravid fortunate enough to have a greater concentration of matches in a shorter period at his peak and injury free, but also naturally he would naturally miss less matches- especially since there is a very little possibility of him being dropped for Tests. [[ Abhi Surely every article need not be responded with a defend-Tendulkar-at-all-costs comment. Where was the need to bring in a comparison like this when I have made on overall analysis of ALL PLAYERS who have played 50 tests or 100 ODIs or both, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE CAREER SPAN. Also if you talk about comparing the career span of two specific players what about the career spans of the other players. Aren't there hundreds of such comparisons. Finally if Dravid had the benefit of larger number of matches in as shorter time span, surely that increases the possibility of his getting injured. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on November 18, 2009, 13:38 GMT

    Agreed, Let’s just say it is easier to compare players whose careers I am wholly familiar and intimate with. I can literally reel of numerous stats regarding these two. Much more difficult for me to do a say Border, Cronje, Tendulkar, Inzy comparison. Also if it is fitness levels, then both ODIs and Tests must be combined of course- so, the last list is most valid. Re. the point of more matches, it also depends on the “density” of matches. Dravid played 30 Test mtchs more in over 13 yrs, i.e. 3 Tests a yr more. Just right without causing too much overload, I would imagine.

  • love goel on November 18, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    This is a piece of statistics from which I find very hard to draw any conclusion,especially for bowlers. In a team , generally the top 6 batsmen are in the team whatever the conditions may be;not true for bowlers. Fast bowlers get dropped on spinning pitches, spinners get dropped on fast pitches. This has nothing to do with palyers fitness or skill level.Just the nature of the game. Bowlers must have a seperate list than batsmen.

    Secondly to consider even one match followed by long break as start of career is incorrect. This just penalises players who came in at a young age, go out and then come back after few years to have a great career. I can think of Saurav ganguly ODI career as an example of this. You must take a minimum of 5test or 15 ODI as start of career to draw any realistic conclusion [[ Goel Do not read more than what has been presented. The problem is if you try and derive some sort of conclusion. There is no need to come to a conclusion from every article. Some are presented just for information. There is no need to say that someone is penalized. No one has been penalized. Instead, use the tables to know that Kapil, Dravid and Border missed only one test. That Gilchrist had a non-stop career of 96 tests. That Hayden had a six-year break after his debut. That Cronje almost missed no match. That Mushtaq made a comeback 6 years after his retirement. And so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 1:21 GMT

    Hi Ananth, Kodos on yet another meaningful analysis... using simple logic and no complex statistical jargons :-)..Very Striking to see that among the guys with least test match misses...Gilly, Healy, Dujon are keepers (with grt batting abilities also) and this is supposed to be one of the toughest task in cricket.Kapil is by far the fittest cricketer ever to have entered a cricket ground..All know that his record should have read 132 consecutive matches...but his fitness level is unbelievable for a bowler to keep bowling in subcontinent wickets and be the highest wicket taker, score 5000 test runs..he is a phenom... Me being ARGUABLY the greatest fan of Tendulkar.and if my memory is not wrong, he had a continuous streak of 94 matcs befor he got injurd for a series vs SL...His streak of 94 was then the second highest behind AB..Ananth can you just add one more table of longest streaks and if possible further divide the list for Bat,bowl,Keep,All Rounders... [[ Sesha Thanks first of all for understanding the simple idea behind the analysis and not reading too much into it. Determining the individual streak is a tough job. I will try and do it and post in a day or two. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 1:51 GMT

    Another interesting fact that comes out is the poor fitness levels of current fast bolwers...

    Baring exception like Ntini no modernday fast bowler is escaping injury... Cricket Boards should really look into this problem as the true art of Test match fast bowling is endangered...

    Older era bowlers bowled faster, more overs and still remained fit... something has crept into the routine in the last decade or so which is actually not doing much help in keeping fast bowlers fit...may be it could be Cricketers playing sports like Football, Rugby and what not in their practice routine...I cant imagine Football or Hockey or Rugby players play any other game in their practice routine...

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 2:28 GMT

    I stand corrected on the my statistic on continuous streak for Sachin. It is 84 and not 94 as I had mentioned. Further...Dravid's form, talent and above all fitness requires great mention....For a batsman like Dravid who relies more on running runs than hit and watch Sehwag style...his fitness is mind boggling... If at all Ponting breaks Sachin's record for most runs...which I unbiasedly doubt we can bank on Dravid to break the record(either Sachin's or Ponting's)...provided he does not decide to retire..That guy can just keep going... [[ Sesha I seriously doubt whether anyone will ever break Tendulkar's run aggregate record in either form of cricket. However I strongly feel that Dravid should announce his retirement from the ODI game because of the way he has been treated. Ananth: ]]

  • Rohington on November 19, 2009, 2:44 GMT

    abhi,sesha: Im probably a bigger tendulkar fan than the two of you!! ha! but as ananth says basically this thing is just another list: sort of casual information and should be treated as such.

  • Sesha on November 19, 2009, 5:59 GMT

    A agree Ananth that Dravid should retire from ODIs solely for the way he has been treated..He is arguably the second best batsman India has ever produced...

    Good to see Wrist King Azhar in the ODI list... The days when he was the highest run scorer in ODI and most experienced ODI player seems to be too long ago ...:-) He was a terrific ODI player...

  • Devadatta on November 19, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    One esoteric reason why Tendulkar (and also JAdeja, Kumble & Robin Singh) missed a few ODIs is because they were playing the unofficial (but BCCI-approved) Commonwealth Games while Indian team was playing in Canada.

  • alex on November 19, 2009, 10:31 GMT

    Ananth - nice article. Could you please add one more table for the #years played (with the cut-off of a player's span > 10 years)? Before WW-II, there were a lot fewer test matches but some players had really long career spans. Some stat on % of matches missed by them would be nice; of course, in those days, 1st class matches and day-jobs for amateurs were also important. [[ Alex You will note that with the low limit of 50 tests, almost everyone of note has found a place. Ananth: ]]