February 14, 2010

Special Steyn stats edition

More stats, because you asked for them, didn't you

The first bowler with four 10-wicket match hauls to be pictured wearing this particular model of sunglasses © AP

Here are the bonus Dale Steyn statistics promised in Friday’s Confectionery Stall, for the benefit of: (a) Dale Steyn fans; (b) stats fans; (c) anyone relieved to see devastating spells of fast swing bowling alive and well; and (d) Dale Steyn.

Some of the numbers might already be out of date once the second Test is underway, if Sehwag starts giving him a good Sehwagging, but here they are anyway:

• Steyn has the best average in Asia of any pace bowler in Test history to have taken 50 or more wickets there (19.66 after the first Test), and is behind only Richie Benaud when spinners are included. Here’s proof. Check it quickly, in case he takes 0 for 350 in Kolkata and plummets down the chart.

• Hang on, that stat wasn’t quite finished. He also has the third-best average (16.44) of any bowler who has taken 20 wickets or more in India.

• Since his recall in April 2006 after a raw debut series in 2004-05, he has been the world’s leading fast bowler by a vast margin. Of the 28 pacemen who have taken 40 or more wickets in that time, Steyn has, by a considerable margin, the highest wicket tally (187, ahead of Mitchell Johnson’s 143), best average (21.80; next is Mohammad Asif, at 24.58), most obliterative strike-rate (a positively 19th-century style 37.4; Asif is second with 51.0), most five-wicket innings (13, ahead of Ntini’s 7) and most 10-wicket matches (four, no one else has done it more than once). Outside of the pace fraternity, only Muralitharan comes close in any category (and is ahead in five-fors and 10-fors).

• However, it’s not all good – Steyn has the eighth-worst economy rate of those 28 bowlers, and his 3.50 runs-per-over is worse than Devon Malcolm’s career figure. If the ex-Essex exocet could learn to keep the runs down, he would be a useful performer. As it is, give me 2.3-per-over Jacob Oram any time. Oram is the superior batsman as well. When fit. And not retired.

And here’s a bonus non-Steyn stat for anyone who: (a) isn’t a Dale Steyn fan; (b) is still a stats fan; (c) is ambivalent about devastating spells of fast bowling but finds emotional refuge in once-great players who had apparently been on the slide enjoying a spectacular resurgence; and (d) isn’t Dale Steyn; but (e) is Jacques Kallis:

• Kallis has catapulted himself out of his first significant career slump (one century and an average of 33 in 19 Tests), by coaching-manualling four hundreds in six Tests, and a positively skittish strike-rate of 52. In sight of 200 in Nagpur, he also chose to continue his heroic quest to complete his stellar 10,000-run, 34-century, 55-averaging Test career with fewer double hundreds to his name than Jason Gillespie. Or Guy Whittall. Or Wasim Jaffer. Or various other less-than-luminous cricketing contemporaries. Including Mathew Sinclair and Jacques Rudolph.

• The Cape Town Classical Technician, with 261 Test scalps and best match figures of 9-92, is also third on the list of highest wicket-takers who have never taken 10 wickets in a match, behind Bob Willis (325) and Brett Lee (310). And therefore, on the list of all-time highest 10-wicket-match haulers, he lags behind, amongst others, Allan Border, Chris Pringle and Upul Chandana.


1: Nothing. 2: If you judge players entirely on double-centuries and 10-wicket hauls, you may not present yourself with an entirely accurate view of their skills. 3: Kallis is an inferior cricketer to both Guy Whittall and Chris Pringle.

• Here’s another quirky one for you: Muralitharan has hit more Test sixes than Graham Gooch, Keith Miller, Martin Crowe or Wally Hammond. (Which possibly explains why Murali was signed by an IPL franchise, but none of the others were. Least of all Hammond, who, admittedly, is past his best, but would have been worth a few dollars in his pomp.)

• And Waqar Younis has a higher winning percentage as a Test captain than any of Clive Lloyd, Mike Brearley or Mark Taylor.

• That’s all, it’s bedtime now.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer