Test cricket April 10, 2010

A Test series for the gods - part 2

The results from a simulated five-Test series between an all-time England XI and an all-time World XI
59

Malcolm Marshall: 32 wickets in five Tests a an average of 17.18 © Getty Images
An intriguing title to an article radically different from my normal analytical efforts. I can assure the readers that they would not be disappointed.

During early 1990s we had developed a series of complex and unique Test and ODI simulation systems. We had simulated for Sportstar a ODI World Cup. We had also conducted an inter-school tournament between the top schools letting the children captain various teams. Also we had done some innovative pre-match simulation of the matches during the 1999 World Cup.

During 2002, I undertook a very different and unusual exercise with Times of London, in conjunction with Wisden On-line. This was to simulate a series of 5 Tests between an all-time England XI and all-time World XI. For various logical reasons we restricted ourselves to the post-war players. These matches were to be played at Lord's, Bridgetown, Cape Town, SCG and Calcutta. The two teams were selected by Christopher Martin-Jenkins with inputs from us. The actual simulation was done in Bangalore over a few days.

The results were published in London times, with comments by Steven Lynch, between 26 July 2002 and 3 August 2002.

Since most readers might not have seen these articles, I felt I ought to do an article on this unique exercise. In the first part I talked about the simulation methodology and the teams which were selected. In the second part I will cover the actual "Test" match scores and the original match reports as sent by us to London Times. I am sure the readers would find these worthwhile to peruse.

In the first part, I had laid the foundation of this unique Test series. In this follow-up article I have given the scorecards and match reports.

First Test: played at Lord's, London (ROW won by six wickets)

England Post-war XI: First  innings -
292 (Hutton 129*, May 89, Marshall 5/46)
R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings -
440 (V Richards 85, Lara 75, Tendulkar 59, Gichrist 95*, Statham 4/86, Underwood 4/84)
England Post-war XI: Second innings -
302 (Hutton 136, Cowdrey 63, Warne 5/84, Muralitharan 4/74)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings -
156/4 (Gavaskar 57*)
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes. This applies to all jpg files. It is suggested that readers download the files and peruse at leisure.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Second Test: played at Bridgetown, Barbados (England won by 43 runs)

England Post-war XI: First  innings
308 (May 92*, Botham 73, Marshall 4/67, Lillee 4/79)
R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
339 (V Richards 103, Lara 50, Trueman 3/70, Statham 4/60)
England Post-war XI: Second innings
299 (Botham 101*, Dexter 46, Marshall 6/81)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings
223 (B Richards 62, Sobers 53*, Trueman 3/46, Statham 4/57).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Third Test: played at Cape town, South Africa (ROW won by 55 runs)

R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
485 (Gavaskar 145, Lara 75, Sobers 89*, Gilchrist 66)
England Post-war XI: First  innings
150 (Hutton 48, Marshall 4/30, Warne 5/35)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings
150 for 3 decl (Gavaskar 57*)
England Post-war XI: Second innings\
430 (Hutton 113, Gooch 104, May 64, Muralitharan 5/118).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Fourth Test: played at SCG, Sydney (England won by 5 wickets)

R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
242 (B Richards 72, V Richards 74, Underwood 3/34, Laker 3/26)
England Post-war XI: First  innings
429 (Hutton 182, Dexter 82, May 69, Murali 5.91, Warne 4/91)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings
261 (B Richards 53, Lara 84, Botham 4/74)
England Post-war XI: Second innings
76 for 5 (Marshall 5/33).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes. Pl note that this scanning has been done off the original newspaper.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Fifth Test: played at Calcutta, India (ROW won by an innings and 52 runs)

England Post-war XI: First  innings
282 (Dexter 132, Marshall 3/56, Lillee 3/66, Sobers 3/64)
R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
616 for 4 decl (Tendulkar 200*, Lara 106, Sobers 102*)
England Post-war XI: Second innings
282 (Hutton 56, May 102, Marshall 3/71, Muralitharan 3/40).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

In addition to the five Test series, a one-off "Test" was played between the team selected by a lucky reader (P.J.Mickleburgh) and an eleven selected by Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

A statistical summary:

Runs scored:      Hutton scored 744 runs.
Batting average:  Hutton's average was a Bradman-like 93.0.
Wickets captured: Marshall captured 32 wickets.
Bowling average:  Marshall's bowling average was a miserly 17.18.
Hundreds:         Hutton scored 4 hundreds.
Four-wkt hauls:   Marshall had 5 four-wkt hauls.
Highest score:    Tendulkar's unbeaten 200 in the last Test.
Best bowling:     Marshall's 6 for 81 although his devastating
spell of 5 for 33 when England needed only 76 to win
probably the bowling performance of the series.
Summing up this has been a Hutton-Marshall dominated series.

To view all five scorecards/simulation reports, please click/right-click here and view/download the file. Viewing on the browser may be fine since this is only a MS Word file.

Download this document and read the simulation reports at leisure. You will get a clear insight into the rationale behind the game development and the way it is played. Do not miss the last bit of the fourth Test where England chases 76 to win and almost comes a cropper due to wrong strategy adopted by the simulation captain.

Many readers have expressed their surprise at the non-inclusion of Barrington. If the readers peruse the simulation reports carefully, they will notice this sentiment expressed in more than one place. I myself was quite surprised at the preference of Cowdrey, no more than competent, to Barrington, among the best of defensive batsmen.

The final image. To view the scanned Player selection report of CM-J properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

Truly this was a series for the Gods. If these teams were made into all-time XIs, Bradman, Barnes SF and Hammond might have replaced B Richards, Statham and Cowdrey. My hunch is that that team, immeasurably strengthened with the arrival of the great man himself, would probably win 4-1. Possibly not. Who knows, Barnes was well-nigh unplayable on many pitches and Hammond has a 14-run lead over Cowdrey.

Even in this series the presence of Barrington might (or might not) have tilted the scales. Readers must remember that if Barrington was playing, the role-playing captains might have attempted alternate strategies.

A few people have asked whether some simulation exercise can be done now. Unfortunately the programs were kept in cold storage in 2002. The database was also a manually created one since I was not able to link the simulation with my established and dynamic database in 2002, mainly because of time constraints. That exercise is a massive one, as also the one of fine tuning the simulation to fit in with today's 75+% result and 3.5+ rpo Test environment. I promise I will do it one day. At least let me see whether I can wake the Simulation suite of programs from their Rip van Winkle-like slumber.

Again let me re-assure the readers that this is not an attempt to plug any of our company products since I have nothing to sell, no products, no services, nothing !!! I have been driven by nostalgia and the need to share unique experiences with enlightened readers.

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

  • Singhe on June 1, 2010, 0:55 GMT

    Guess, I am a few late on reading this!!! Magnificent job on the simulation and selection: I could not imagine a more accurate result. One stat stood out for me: two players in the RTW from the tiny island of Barbados. I remember the 1970 RTW team had 3 players from tiny Guyana: Kanhai, Gibbs, and Lloyd. hmmmm,,,,,

  • Engle on April 20, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    Point : Quality is 1st, variety is 2nd.

    However, if theres a small difference between 2 players, lean towards the one that brings a new set of skills to the table. That's why we have LH, RH batsman or defenders/attackers. Imagine a batting lineup of RH blockers or LH smashers. Wouldn't work.

    Similarly for bowling. In fact, this diff is more pronounced for bowlers, since they are selected for the type of wkt being played upon (tho never batsman)

    So, in an AT XI when you only have XI at your disposal, cover the broad spectrum. e.g. for an AT WI XI, L.Gibbs should walk in over C.Walsh

  • Alex on April 20, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Ananth-Engle-Xolile: So which was the better team --- the all-specialist WI circa 1980-85 or the balanced Aus circa 2000-05? Aus had at least 2 batsmen who could bowl decently (the 2 Waughs, Symonds, Lehman, etc.), an all-time great all-rounder in Gilchrist, a well-balanced attack that had at least 3 great bowlers (McGrath, Warne, Lee/Gillespie). For WI, only Viv & Gomes could bowl a bit (IMO, Dujon almost cancels Gilly).

    I feel that, in the long run, a well-balanced team with a balanced attack will adapt & fare better in varied playing conditions. Evolution of life supports it, as does the current WI plight (unthinkable in Lloyd's glory days): after producing at least 10 all-time great fast bowlers over an 16-year period starting 1972 (Roberts) and ending 1988 (Bishop), they have not produced even one great fast bowler ... some blame could be cut out for its cricket board but not all.

  • Xolile on April 20, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    @ Engle

    The Aussies under Waugh/Ponting usually picked just four specialist bowlers. Of the regulars only McGrath was a genuine tail-ender. Lee, Warne and Gillespie all averaged between 17 and 21.

    They also relied on batting all-rounders to provide back-up bowling, e.g. Symonds, S Waugh and Lehman.

    And do not forget Gilchrist who is possibly one of the five finest all-rounders in the history of the game.

    As for variety: well there are bound to be exceptions, and few people would argue that the Lakers example is not exceptional. You shouldn’t read too much into outliers such as this.

    My research suggests that in Test cricket high quality fast bowlers are the most effective in every country and on just about every surface. The one exception is spin bowlers late in Test matches when they can target foot holes which are not available to pace bowlers. For that reason I would include one spinner in the side; preferably a top leggie such Warne, Kumble or O’Reilly.

  • Xolile on April 20, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    @ Engle

    The Aussies under Waugh/Ponting usually picked just four specialist bowlers. Of the regulars only McGrath was a genuine tail-ender. Lee, Warne and Gillespie all averaged between 17 and 21.

    They also relied on batting all-rounders to provide back-up bowling, e.g. Symonds, S Waugh and Lehman.

    And do not forget Gilchrist who is possibly one of the five finest all-rounders in the history of the game.

    As for variety: well there are bound to be exceptions, and few people would argue that the Lakers example is not exceptional. You shouldn’t read too much into outliers such as this.

    My research suggests that in Test cricket high quality fast bowlers are the most effective in every country and on just about every surface. The one exception is spin bowlers late in Test matches when they can target foot holes which are not available to pace bowlers. For that reason I would include one spinner in the side; preferably a top leggie such Warne, Kumble or O’Reilly.

  • Engle on April 20, 2010, 1:00 GMT

    @X

    Yet the 2 greatest teams of recent times, the 80's WIndies and the 90's+ Aussies barely had a decent all-rounder.

    On the topic of variety, remember these are imaginary AT teams selected to play in all conditions, eras, weather, wickets, opposition. Each cricketer selected must bring something special to the table. Imagine a fastie bowling in hot, humid conditions on a dead wicket to Hanif or on a spinning track similar to the one in Eng when Laker got his 19 wkts. Besides, each country has to showcase to the world the variety of talent it has produced.

  • Xolile on April 17, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    @ Abhi

    I am certainly not contradicting my earlier statement. The value of all-rounders is that they both increase the bowling capacity of a side (you need to be able to bowl 1500 quality balls per match) and the batting depth (defined as the sum of the team’s batting averages). Bowling variety is a completely different matter, and as I have argued earlier, generally misunderstood

  • Xolile on April 17, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    @ Alex

    If you have to revert to over-rates to justify the existence of spinners you know you are fighting a losing battle ;-)

    More seriously, I fully agree spinners come into their own towards the end of Tests when there are foot holes to target. But when you look at the stats it seems to be fast bowlers with good control who are the most destructive in the final innings, not spinners. Here are some 4th innings bowling averages for some of the all-time leading wicket takers: Murali 21.02; Warne 23.14; Kumble 22.39; McGrath 19.50; Walsh 19.08; Hadlee 15.63; Ambrose 16.14 ; Marshall 17.66.

    Bowling all-rounders struggle towards the end of matches due to fatigue: Botham 38.55 ; Imran 42.10 ; Fintoff 33.00; Cairns 50.57.

    As for the variation within the right-arm fast category I fully agree. That’s the point I was making. It’s all about subtle changes. And never are subtle changes more effective than when they are produced by the same bowler.

  • Alex on April 17, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    Xolile - re April 16, 2010 1:09 PM. The wicket and the playing conditions matter. On a spinning track, a good side featuring a quality spinner will probably defeat a champion side featuring only great pace attack ... e.g., (1) Australia's solitary win over the mighty WI in 1985 (Lloyd's last test), (2) Pak's 1-1 series vs WI in late 80's courtesy Qadir (granted that they had Imran & Akram as well), (3) Hirwani's 16 wkt debut vs WI in '88. In all 3 instances, WI had a good batting line-up & great pace bowlers. WI did look for spinners in 80's (e.g. Harper) but without any luck.

    Variety doesn't necessarily mean spinners & pace bowlers. Even a pure pace attack can have it: Roberts, Holding, Marshall, Croft, & Garner were quite different from each other & truly great. But I feel if 3 great pace bowlers can't be effective on a track, maybe the 4th won't either ... better to bring in a good spinner, if only to keep the over-rate in check. [[ I like these skirmishes where there is respect for the other person's views and the language used is refined. All of us increase our knowledge base at the same time not crossing the imaginary lines drawn. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on April 17, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    Xolile It just so happens that the WI (and Aus for that matter) produces more quality fast bowlers as opposed to spinners/seamers etc. This was especially true in the period you refer to. It is rare that you have a large number of all time great fast bowlers ,all in one team ,at practically the same time. Though ,of course, the “quality” is the thing this does not necessarily mean that a quartet of quicks is more effective than say 2 Warnes and 2 Muralis…or some other combination. And you seem to be contradicting your own earlier comment- wherein you advocate more allrounders. [[ I like these skirmishes where there is respect for the other person's views and the language used is refined. All of us increase our knowledge base at the same time not crossing the imaginary lines drawn. Ananth: ]]

  • Singhe on June 1, 2010, 0:55 GMT

    Guess, I am a few late on reading this!!! Magnificent job on the simulation and selection: I could not imagine a more accurate result. One stat stood out for me: two players in the RTW from the tiny island of Barbados. I remember the 1970 RTW team had 3 players from tiny Guyana: Kanhai, Gibbs, and Lloyd. hmmmm,,,,,

  • Engle on April 20, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    Point : Quality is 1st, variety is 2nd.

    However, if theres a small difference between 2 players, lean towards the one that brings a new set of skills to the table. That's why we have LH, RH batsman or defenders/attackers. Imagine a batting lineup of RH blockers or LH smashers. Wouldn't work.

    Similarly for bowling. In fact, this diff is more pronounced for bowlers, since they are selected for the type of wkt being played upon (tho never batsman)

    So, in an AT XI when you only have XI at your disposal, cover the broad spectrum. e.g. for an AT WI XI, L.Gibbs should walk in over C.Walsh

  • Alex on April 20, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Ananth-Engle-Xolile: So which was the better team --- the all-specialist WI circa 1980-85 or the balanced Aus circa 2000-05? Aus had at least 2 batsmen who could bowl decently (the 2 Waughs, Symonds, Lehman, etc.), an all-time great all-rounder in Gilchrist, a well-balanced attack that had at least 3 great bowlers (McGrath, Warne, Lee/Gillespie). For WI, only Viv & Gomes could bowl a bit (IMO, Dujon almost cancels Gilly).

    I feel that, in the long run, a well-balanced team with a balanced attack will adapt & fare better in varied playing conditions. Evolution of life supports it, as does the current WI plight (unthinkable in Lloyd's glory days): after producing at least 10 all-time great fast bowlers over an 16-year period starting 1972 (Roberts) and ending 1988 (Bishop), they have not produced even one great fast bowler ... some blame could be cut out for its cricket board but not all.

  • Xolile on April 20, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    @ Engle

    The Aussies under Waugh/Ponting usually picked just four specialist bowlers. Of the regulars only McGrath was a genuine tail-ender. Lee, Warne and Gillespie all averaged between 17 and 21.

    They also relied on batting all-rounders to provide back-up bowling, e.g. Symonds, S Waugh and Lehman.

    And do not forget Gilchrist who is possibly one of the five finest all-rounders in the history of the game.

    As for variety: well there are bound to be exceptions, and few people would argue that the Lakers example is not exceptional. You shouldn’t read too much into outliers such as this.

    My research suggests that in Test cricket high quality fast bowlers are the most effective in every country and on just about every surface. The one exception is spin bowlers late in Test matches when they can target foot holes which are not available to pace bowlers. For that reason I would include one spinner in the side; preferably a top leggie such Warne, Kumble or O’Reilly.

  • Xolile on April 20, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    @ Engle

    The Aussies under Waugh/Ponting usually picked just four specialist bowlers. Of the regulars only McGrath was a genuine tail-ender. Lee, Warne and Gillespie all averaged between 17 and 21.

    They also relied on batting all-rounders to provide back-up bowling, e.g. Symonds, S Waugh and Lehman.

    And do not forget Gilchrist who is possibly one of the five finest all-rounders in the history of the game.

    As for variety: well there are bound to be exceptions, and few people would argue that the Lakers example is not exceptional. You shouldn’t read too much into outliers such as this.

    My research suggests that in Test cricket high quality fast bowlers are the most effective in every country and on just about every surface. The one exception is spin bowlers late in Test matches when they can target foot holes which are not available to pace bowlers. For that reason I would include one spinner in the side; preferably a top leggie such Warne, Kumble or O’Reilly.

  • Engle on April 20, 2010, 1:00 GMT

    @X

    Yet the 2 greatest teams of recent times, the 80's WIndies and the 90's+ Aussies barely had a decent all-rounder.

    On the topic of variety, remember these are imaginary AT teams selected to play in all conditions, eras, weather, wickets, opposition. Each cricketer selected must bring something special to the table. Imagine a fastie bowling in hot, humid conditions on a dead wicket to Hanif or on a spinning track similar to the one in Eng when Laker got his 19 wkts. Besides, each country has to showcase to the world the variety of talent it has produced.

  • Xolile on April 17, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    @ Abhi

    I am certainly not contradicting my earlier statement. The value of all-rounders is that they both increase the bowling capacity of a side (you need to be able to bowl 1500 quality balls per match) and the batting depth (defined as the sum of the team’s batting averages). Bowling variety is a completely different matter, and as I have argued earlier, generally misunderstood

  • Xolile on April 17, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    @ Alex

    If you have to revert to over-rates to justify the existence of spinners you know you are fighting a losing battle ;-)

    More seriously, I fully agree spinners come into their own towards the end of Tests when there are foot holes to target. But when you look at the stats it seems to be fast bowlers with good control who are the most destructive in the final innings, not spinners. Here are some 4th innings bowling averages for some of the all-time leading wicket takers: Murali 21.02; Warne 23.14; Kumble 22.39; McGrath 19.50; Walsh 19.08; Hadlee 15.63; Ambrose 16.14 ; Marshall 17.66.

    Bowling all-rounders struggle towards the end of matches due to fatigue: Botham 38.55 ; Imran 42.10 ; Fintoff 33.00; Cairns 50.57.

    As for the variation within the right-arm fast category I fully agree. That’s the point I was making. It’s all about subtle changes. And never are subtle changes more effective than when they are produced by the same bowler.

  • Alex on April 17, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    Xolile - re April 16, 2010 1:09 PM. The wicket and the playing conditions matter. On a spinning track, a good side featuring a quality spinner will probably defeat a champion side featuring only great pace attack ... e.g., (1) Australia's solitary win over the mighty WI in 1985 (Lloyd's last test), (2) Pak's 1-1 series vs WI in late 80's courtesy Qadir (granted that they had Imran & Akram as well), (3) Hirwani's 16 wkt debut vs WI in '88. In all 3 instances, WI had a good batting line-up & great pace bowlers. WI did look for spinners in 80's (e.g. Harper) but without any luck.

    Variety doesn't necessarily mean spinners & pace bowlers. Even a pure pace attack can have it: Roberts, Holding, Marshall, Croft, & Garner were quite different from each other & truly great. But I feel if 3 great pace bowlers can't be effective on a track, maybe the 4th won't either ... better to bring in a good spinner, if only to keep the over-rate in check. [[ I like these skirmishes where there is respect for the other person's views and the language used is refined. All of us increase our knowledge base at the same time not crossing the imaginary lines drawn. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on April 17, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    Xolile It just so happens that the WI (and Aus for that matter) produces more quality fast bowlers as opposed to spinners/seamers etc. This was especially true in the period you refer to. It is rare that you have a large number of all time great fast bowlers ,all in one team ,at practically the same time. Though ,of course, the “quality” is the thing this does not necessarily mean that a quartet of quicks is more effective than say 2 Warnes and 2 Muralis…or some other combination. And you seem to be contradicting your own earlier comment- wherein you advocate more allrounders. [[ I like these skirmishes where there is respect for the other person's views and the language used is refined. All of us increase our knowledge base at the same time not crossing the imaginary lines drawn. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on April 16, 2010, 13:09 GMT

    @ Alex

    The most formidable bowling attack in the history of Test cricket relied entirely on right-arm fast bowlers: Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh, Patterson, Holding, Clarke, Bishop, Garner, Roberts and Croft.

    The second finest attack in modern times relied on four RF/RFM bowlers and two leg-spinners.

    It’s not variety that matters, but quality. Quality could be defined as the frequency of wicket taking deliveries. High-quality fast bowlers tend to send down the highest proportion of wicket taking deliveries throughout the course of a match. That’s why their strike rates are so much better than that of spinners, even in India.

    Besides, when it comes to variety it’s often the subtle changes that make the difference. You certainly don’t need express pace, swing, finger spin and leg spin as suggested by Bradman. Those traditional views are deeply flawed and out-of-date.

  • Xolile on April 16, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    @ Boll

    Leading Indian spinners average 36.19 in the 1st innings, 32.10 in the 2nd, 27.01 in the 3rd and 23.63 in the 4th. This trend reflects the nature of pitches on which they play and their skill to make the most of those conditions.

    On the other hand, when you look at guys that average more than 30 with the bat, less than 30 with the ball, and take at least three wickets per match, the trend is the exact opposite. They average 24.38 in the 1st, 28.78 in the 2nd, 23.56 in the 3rd and 35.27 in the 4th. In the last 40 years this exclusive club has allowed only six new members: Botham, Pollock, Cairns, Kapil, Flintoff, and, of course, Imran.

    This clearly suggests higher fatigue levels among “genuine all-rounders” towards the end of matches. The best examples are Pollock and Imran: they average 19.80 and 19.72 in the 1st innings but 27.94 and 42.10 in the 4th. Imagine what their career bowling stats would have been if they didn’t have to do all that batting...

  • Alex on April 16, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    X - re your April 15, 2010 4:24 PM comment: (1) the bowling attack of Murali-Lillee has a lot more variety, and (ii) a truly tight-spot outlier innings of Lara might be beyond the combined effort of Imran-Hadlee-Kallis. It is a mistake to look at only averages. I think 5 all-rounders is an overkill unless each of them is on the level of either Sobers or Imran and, further, adds a top-class variety ... to put the improbability in perspective, in 130+ years of cricket, perhaps only Kallis is on Sobers' level (with no added variety) & only Miller is on Imran's level (again with no added variety). So long as Gilly/Sanga keeps the wicket, 1 batting all-rounder & 1 bowling all-rounder is enough, provided 1-2 other bowlers can bat like Warne/Marshall, and 1-2 other batsmen can bowl like SRT; afterall, Gilly & Sanga are legitimate allrounders - they can keep and they can bat.

  • Abhi on April 16, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    Del, Genius comes in different forms. The WI batsmen for ages have traditionally been the “swashbucklers”. If you see clips of Roy Fredericks you would swear he was a Lara clone.So, it is natural for Sobers to have an affinity towards those with a similar style to his own and the type of batsmen he has been surrounded with. By contrast, the Indian batsmen (for eg)have morphed from cowering away lambs who bowlers around the world would relish bowling to ….to a batting card reading Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman,Dhoni etc…now enough to give any bowling attack the loosies.

  • Alex on April 16, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    Ananth - Everybody is subject to bias. More exposure tends to reduce it but not uniformly. Gautam's 137 was a great performance, and Amla was great in India.

    I never understood why Sobers was a bit cold towards SRT, esp. given that both Lara & SRT have natural ability as well as acquired craft in heaps. It is better to appreciate players for what they are. I also think that strong upright characters & performances of Kumble, Dravid, and Ganguly (& Laxman in the 2nd decade) helped SRT in prolonging his career (& vice versa) ... it is fitting that SRT considers Kumble to be the greatest Indian cricketer of his generation.

  • Alex on April 16, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    Del - I checked "Straight Drive". SMG's Aug 2003 outburst is actually in response to Barry's comments belittling Graeme Smith's great start to the 2003 series vs Eng (277, 85, 259 in the first 2 tests) that led some to compare it to Bradman's 1930 series. SMG praised Graeme Smith and took the opportunity to state that Barry Richards enjoyed belittling SRT also. Having batted himself "in" like this, he launched an attack on Barry that left his 124 & 90 vs WI in dust!

    Sir Gary may have his favorites (also, it is natural that quotes given to journalists may not always be well thought ... else how can he call SMG "one of the greatest" but not AB, who had similar credentials). His latest book has a chapter on Lara but no mention of SRT although he praised SRT (last month in Mumbai) as "great in the truest sense of greatness". I think he, like Warne, favors natural ability over acquired craft. [[ Alex Forget about the poor readers. Even great players are not able to identify true greatness and appreciate both aspects. This applies to almost all great players. It is the misguided notion that to talk highly of SRT you have to put down Lara and vice versa. Why cannot people appreciate the greatness of both. ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on April 16, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Also,to Alex's highly interesting point about Sobers' observations.He was a colossus of a cricketer,but like many- tho not all- geniuses,not the best balanced of judges.I remember him being interviewed on BBC Radio 5live,before 1989 Ashes,and he was asked if Border was a great player.In vehement, astonished tones,he uttered "Border? BORDER??..",continuing on with the theme that grafters cannot be GREAT players,and only attacking masters could,citing only Viv and Greenidge at time as befitting this status.This perplexed me somewhat!Subsequently, he said Lara was true great because(like Sobers in all fairness) he "...rarely uses his pad". This is all very well if you are incandescent geniuses like these men,but the Huttons, Gavaskars, Borders and Barringtons had to achieve true greatness in other ways,and were even more admirable for it.Not criticising Sobers for playing greatness, just underappreciation of what mere mortals have to undertake when not as blessed as him! lol [[ Del There was a time when saving a test was a very important batsman requirement. Now winning has taken over. Nothing wrong. However because of the change in mindset, only true test followers can appreciate the great defensive, often termed boring, innings of Amla, Gambhir et al. The mindset also has gotten into the minds of batsmen. Otherwise how can one explain the ridiculous shot played by Shakib-al-Hassan at 96 when what was needed was 30 minutes of bloody-mindedness, gardening, discussions with Rubel Hossein, a sudden urge for water in the hot weather and a biological need to divest oneself of the ingested water. The 100 became more important. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on April 16, 2010, 2:46 GMT

    Alex, thanks very much for putting me in the picture about Gavaskar's criticism of Barry Richards. While I agree with his main point that the latter was not tested beyond 4 games, the force of some of it astonished me. Although it is not a verbatim quote, I wonder what exactly might be regarded as a better excuse for not playing more tests than a total ban? Clearly, as we have seen in fact, he, like Boycott, is cutting loose in the commentary box and in print rather more than he was wont to do in the middle! lol (partly a joke- I know he was far more inclined than 'Sir Geoffrey' to do this, and both were wonderful openers). So, to which period was Richards referring to concerning Indian batsmen and pitch conditions? Was it all the way through, including now (bad judgement if so), during his own 1st class career (ditto, due to great spinners, tho little pace) or in between (mostly 1980's, so more credible)? My opinions refer to Indian pitches much more than batsmen btw...

  • Xolile on April 15, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    @ Engle

    If you replace Lara, Murali and Lillee with Imran, Hadlee and Kallis in CM-J’s RotW team, your team batting average increases by no less than 42 runs per innings. Your fielding improves slightly. Your bowling capacity increases by around 50 balls per match. Your weight adjusted bowling SR stays about the same. In short, you end up with a much stronger side by including five instead of two all-rounders.

  • Boll on April 15, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    @Xolile. As Rex mentioned earlier, the lack of runs scored by the lower order in these tests was a standout feature. At least on paper a 6-11 of Sobers, Gilchrist, Botham, Imran, Hadlee/Kapil, Warne(a decent bat and we`re short of a spinner!) would seem to add a far bit in terms of lower order runs. Not sure how it would work in practice, but interesting to run a simulation test along these lines. My gut feeling is that, even for these greats, who performed at/or close to the highest level in both disciplines, it`s all but impossible to do it in the same game. Just checking the stats for a century and a 5-for in the same match, (26 times I think), Botham doing it an incredible 5 times, and along with Imran being the only bloke to take a 10-for. I know this simulation took into account bowlers tiring throughout spells. I don`t think it took into account the effect of long innings/lots of overs on the other discipline. Stats would suggests it`s significant I think.

  • Engle on April 15, 2010, 1:11 GMT

    @Xolile on the ROW vs Eng 1970 Series.

    While it's true that some All-rounders performed admirably, while some specialists failed to impress, one cannot arrive at the conclusion that loading a team with AR is better than having specialists.

    In any one series, anything can happen, even anomalies. Who would've thought that R.Illingworth would have out-batted some specialist batsmen, or Intikhab would bowl better than Gibbs/Underwood or Luckhurst bat better than B.Richards/G.Pollock/R.Kanhai ?

    There may be a peculiar set of dynamics that come into play when one is playing with/against a ROW XI rather than country vs country.

    In any event, B.Richards went on to bat admirably in WSC cricket and G.Pollock against the W.Indian rebel tours even at an advanced age. [[ Engle You are correct on all-rounders vs specialists. Even in this series the most pleasing innings for me was the last innings of the fourth test when England needed 75 to win. Agreed there was some questionable strategy by the batting captain. However it was only the presence of Marshall and Lillee which enabled me to try for the impossible. It almost worked. Another 50 runs and ROW might have won. I could never have done that if I had Botham and Sobers opening. Remember the 1981 Headingley test. We only talk of Botham's 149. However at the end of Botham's heroics, Australia needed only 130 to win. It was the specialist great fast bowler, Willis who won the match taking 8 for 43. How many such instances do we have. de Villiers against Australia, Dean Headley against Australia, Caddick against Australia are a few examples. Only recent ones shown. Ananth: ]]

  • Engle on April 15, 2010, 0:42 GMT

    B.Richards was the senior partner to G.Greenidge in county cricket. In matches they played together, he outperformed G.Greenidge :

    Richards I 192 No 17 Runs 8576 HS 240 Av 49.01 17x100 54x50 Greenidge I 193 No 10 Runs 7188 HS 259 Av 39.28 16x100 36x50

    Greenidge scored 3 double hundreds to Richards 2.

    Understandably, this does not translate to international performances, but it does say one thing. Greenidge learned from B.Richards who averaged about 10 runs more, quite a difference.

  • Srikanth on April 14, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    "If these teams were made into all-time XIs, Bradman, Barnes SF and Hammond might have replaced B Richards, Statham and Cowdrey."

    No room for the master? Jack Hobbs???? Wasnt he considered the greatest before Bradman? (if you ignore WG and Trumper). Suthcliffe might have a case as well but Hutton makes a stronger argument. A top 3 of Hobbs, Hutton, Hammond...Yikes. [[ Srikanth You are correct. My oversight. Hobbs, Sutcliffe/Hutton, Hammond looks very good. Ananth: ]]

  • marees on April 14, 2010, 9:22 GMT

    do you(or the times) have any idea of licensing this as a strategy game?

    It would be a big hit. and nobody can argue against the results produced also. They can see for themselves the effects of various strategies, the law of averages etc. [[ Marees This was written in hardcore C-Windows. To license this for outside web-based use, it has to be written in a completely different platform/language. I neither have the resources nor energy to do that. Times probably forgot about the whole thing on 10 August 2002. Ananth: ]]

  • marees on April 14, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    OK, Ananth, my mistake. I didn't have the time to read the consolidated report document.

    Now, it seems that that Sydney was the last test (a dead rubber) after Rest had already won the series 3-1 at Kolkata. So can the average(ordinary) performance of the rest batsmen(a bunch of extra-ordinary batters) on a very special cricket ground(it is really good for batting if you dont get early wickets) be explained by the Dead-Rubber-Syndrome? [[ Marees First let me say that it was not a dead rubber in the conventional sense. From the beginning I insisted that we would do the simulation test-by-test and the public presentation of the tests would be Times' own decision. What I did not want was exactly what you are suggesting. In other words the captain should not slacken thinking the series was won or lost. One of the reasons there were different captains. It was only in the report compilations that I did not do this properly. I have since corrected this. Times took the correct decision to decide on the sequence to maintain the public interest. A reference to this can be seen in the first test scorecard. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on April 14, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but in June/July 1970 the Rest of the World actually did take on England and won 4-1.

    Looking at the performances of individual’s players in that series one player stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest: Garry Sobers.

    In five matches he scored 588 runs at 73.50 and took 21 wickets at 21.52.

    Second, third and fourth price also go to all-rounders: between them Eddie Barlow, Clive Lloyd and Mike Procter scored 1045 runs at 45.43 and took 41 wickets at 21.34.

    With bat and ball these four players completely dominated proceedings.

    The specialists (including Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock, Rohan Kanhai, Garth McKenzie and Lance Gibbs) failed to impress.

    If there ever was an argument to load an “All-time XI” with all-rounders, this is possibly the finest example in support.

  • marees on April 13, 2010, 19:26 GMT

    Ananth,

    If you compare and contrast the avg of the home team (Oz) against the visiting team, you will get what I am talking about. So the home team scores big and ends-up playing less no of innings also. The away teams play more inning but score less. So that seems to have skewed the average figures.

    A quick check at statsguru reveals the following as SCG average of word XI batters till 2002(mar) Tendular --- 98 Lara ------- 69 Sobers ----- 63 Gavaskar --- 58 Viv Richards --- 25 Barry Richards -- Not Played

    Considering the above, world XI should have crossed 300(if not 400) atleast once at the SCG? That too with neutral umps in play? [[ Marees I think you are is splitting hairs unnecessarily. In 2000 the strong India were all out for 150 and 261. You are looking at a single scorecard and saying ROW should have crossed 300 at least once. On what basis. Because they are a strong team. Then should they always cross 300 everywhere. No. Strategies come into play. And SCG in the randomised match might have changed its character day-by-day. That is the charm of the game. I have reproduced below the strategy of the first day, extracted from the document available for viewing. 1. After instructing ROW to bat, Arun adopted an aggressive strategy to justify his decision. He attacked both Gavaskar and Barry Richards. The scoring rate was quite brisk and ROW posted a century opening stand by lunch. 2. Even after lunch, Arun continued aggressive tactics. This paid off and once the openers were dismissed, the scoring rate fell off. 3. Viv Richards mixed caution with aggression and scored a good 70 plus. However, wickets continued to fall and no partnership got going. When Sobers and Gilchrist came in, Arun went on a wicket taking strategy for them and this paid off, with their dismissal for 0 and 3. 4. ROW were dismissed for 242, an hour before close. This was a triumph for Arun, who justified his decision to field with very aggressive tactics, never allowing the batsmen to settle down. This explains the low score of ROW. Why should this not be considered a success for the captain, instead of trying to make it a systemic failure. Incidentally the same captain almost made a mess on the last day. And why bring "neutral umpires" into a simulation exercise. I would never factor in biased umpiring into any simulation exercise. Ananth: ]]

  • marees on April 13, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    Ananth,

    I understand you had done this analysis more than a decade ago. But I(like lost other commenters on this blog) am still extremely puzzled by the low scores in SCG. I have been following cricket from the time of the Reliance world-cup and cant remember a single low score in SCG when the pitch favoured spinners and did not help the pace bowlers. Is this statistically probable? Can you educate us on this? [[ Marees To be honest I am puzzled by your question. I feel that something is missing. I have given below the scores of 5 tests prior to and including 2002. 1998: 287/421/113 1999: 322/220/184/188 2000: 150/552/261 2001: 272/452/352/174-4 2002: 554/154/452/54-0 Out of 16 completed innings, there are 9 innings below 300. How does this jell with your comment "cant remember a single low score in SCG". The average completed innings is 308. Even that is because of the high scores in 2001 & 2002. What was the score in the simulation. 242/429/261/74-5 Ignore the last innings. Bad strategy and a Marshall tornado. Don't these scores correlate quite well with the real life scores. The average score was 311. In fact I am amazed at the correlation myself because this is the first time I have compared real-life scores with the simulation scores for a single ground. Ananth: ]]

  • Love goel on April 13, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    Anantha, that was a big effort and thanks for it. While I understood the logic behind the simulation, the mathematics and the number of variables are just too large for me to go in details.

    In the third test match at cape-town, ROW had a chance to inflict follow-on on Eng-XI, but they choose not to. As far as I know, before 2001-calcutta most teams use to go for follow on whenever possible.I found it strange in this case. [[ Goel Do not forget that the simulation was done 14 months after the Calcutta test. Ananth: ]]

    Should we look at these matches from 2000 perspective when follow on were almost always enforced and 406 was the highest total chased, or from 2010 perspective where follow-on are often denied and chasing 400 have become common

    Also, the english team here seems to have never played against bangladesh.(Please correct me if I am wrong). In this case should we drop the bangladesh statistics while considering the ROW team?

  • Boll on April 13, 2010, 13:50 GMT

    I don`t have a PhD in Statistics, but these make interesting reading, and I believe support the point Ananth was making. Hutton - Aus in Eng 1938 (3 tests) ave 118, WI in Eng 1939 (3) ave 96, Eng in Aus 1950 (5) ave 88, Eng in WI 1953/4 (5) ave 96, Pak in Eng 1954 (2) ave 6, Eng in Aus 1954/5 (5) ave 24. Career average 57. That`s why it`s called an average. Just for old-times` sake I`ll throw in Steve Waugh`s 126.50 average in a 6-test series against England when he was averaging in the mid 30s.

  • Rohan on April 13, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    First up, the individual scores did not tally with what I had assumed would happen in my mental model. However, "Aditya Jha"'s comment with the series aggregates/averages has made the simulation seem more in accord with what one may normally assume.

  • Boll on April 13, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    @Alex. No worries, I didn`t take your comments on Pollock/Headley as negative ones (and was very interested to hear Sober`s thoughts on the subject). I do think that it is a bit tough on both those players,in terms of matches played and longevity, to speak of their test careers in the same context as Barry Richards` though - a few months and only 4 tests long. I suppose he stands as the unfortunate `captain non pareil` of the `If only we`d seen more of them World XI`. Just re.the batting order again, very hard to argue with Sachin, Viv, Lara (Ponting maybe a little unlucky), but I still feel a Larry Gomes/AB/Dravid style player would be great to have on a tough batting pitch. Who do you leave out though?? And finally @Apu, we need not look further afield than Sir Len Hutton himself to see examples of a batsman`s performance in a series being far better or worse than his overall performance - stats to follow.

  • Aditya Jha on April 13, 2010, 13:29 GMT

    The "probability" of any batsman scoring a "particular" score in any innings - in real life - is pretty low. You can have high probabilities in the "range" you expect him to score, and yet get totally surprised.

    @Apu - you may be surprised that of the 13 scores of 50-59 that Gavaskar has had in his career, 8 have come against England.

    This is a simulation - and the "statistical bias/error" that anyone talks about is nothing but the simulation of the randomization of scores in real life. It is a series that has produced 2 epic performances (Hutton and Marshall), many "more than competent" performances (May, Tendulkar, Sobers, Lara....), a few failures (Gooch, Dexter....) and a close finish. What more can you ask for!! [[ Aditya On the dot. People should not forget that these are common-sense based subject-driven simulation exercises. I do not use statistics as the be-all and end-all of everything. Such systems stand or fall on the extent of testing done. The statistical similarities need to occur only over many many number of matches, a huge population by statistical standards. And I could say we have done that. Taking few matches and questioning the results would defeat the very purpose and prevent enjoyment. The uncertainty of the game has also been captured. It should be possible for Solkar to dismiss Bradman just as (in real life) Solkar dismissed Boycott or Sandhu dismissed Greenidge. Ananth: ]]

  • Apu on April 13, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    Ananth, I am a regular reader of you blogs and a have PhD is statistics. Even I had problems understanding this innumerable random variables problem. I am really aggrieved by your comment about people who dont understand 1% of ur simulation should not write their views in this blog (Ananth at April12,2010 12:41 AM). You also mention you would not accept questions about bias etc. I am sure you know that bias is a statistical quantity. As an author you should not take these views personally. You software (no matter how many diligent hours you put into it) can exhibit bias/errors. As an experienced statistician even I am surprised about your random generator predicting Gavasakar scoring 57* in 2 innings. I understand the probability of such occurence would be very small. Hutton scoring around the world at an average of 93 would also lie somewhere far in the tails of your output distibution. I would request you to be more respectful to your blog contributors in the future. we r ur costumer [[ First of all you are not my customer. You are a reader of my blog, that is all. You have not acquired any goods or services from me. I am surprised that a Ph.D in Statistics cannot understand the negative connotations of the word "bias", as used by non-statistical people. I have given the definition of bias from Wikipedia below. ""Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. "" I will object if bias is used in a manner which implies that I have been partial or prejudiced. If you say you want to have the right to use that term in this blog, I am sorry, that is unacceptable. Personal comments will be taken personally, let me assure you. Hutton averaged 93 in 5 tests. That is as "unlikely" as the following averages, all real life, all 5+ test series. Stranger than the simulation result, would not you say. Richards 118.42 Lara 99.75 Sobers 137.33 Gavaskar 154.80 Weekes 111.78 Do you know that there are over 25 instances of batsman (other than Bradman) averaging 100+. I suggest you know your facts before making statements. I have not understood your comments about Gavaskar. Where did I say that. Finally respect is to be earned. I don't have to be respectful towards people who have not earned that. I have earned respect from analysts/journalists/commentatoprs/players/readers over the past 20 years. It does not mean that they would agree with what all I say. However they have all appreciated the work put in, the integrity behind the hard work and my patient explanations. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 13, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    Boll - it was not a negative comment on Pollock/Headley (or Barry Richards). Through no fault of their own, Pollock played for only 6-7 yrs & 23 tests while Headley played for 24 yrs but still only 23 tests. The list of such tragic cases includes Constantine, D'Oliveira, Roy Dias, Peter Kirsten, and others.

    Re your point on the middle order: SRT at No. 5 is about ideal (although my top 7 read: SMG, Viv, Ponting (c), Lara, SRT, Sobers, Gilly ... in that order). SRT gets viewed as an attacking batsman but is fantastic as a gritty defensive batsman with at least 2 centuries at SR < 45 vs top class bowling (vs Eng '90, vs SA '92) - once he makes up his mind not to give his wicket away, he is very difficult to dislodge (e.g. 49 vs Aus, 100* vs SL) ... he does not do that often though. Sobers was reputed to bat well with lower order. SRT-Sobers at 5-6 is a terrific combination. Difficult to include Kallis since Sobers is already there.

  • Aditya Jha on April 12, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    england scored a total of 2655 runs at an average of 27.66. ROW scored 2735 runs at an average of 37.47 per wicket.

    batsman (runs, ave): gavaskar (429, 61.29) barry richards (343, 38.11) viv richards (371, 41.22) lara (429, 47.67) tendulkar (460, 76.67) sobers (351, 70.2) gilchrist (239, 39.83)

    hutton (744, 93) gooch (252, 25.2) dexter (384, 38.4) may (508, 56.4) cowdery (230, 23.0) botham (354, 39.33) knott (50, 5.6) [[ Aditya Thanks a ton. Gives quite an insight. If I had known Tendulkar's excellent series numbers I would have given a fitting reply to a rather stupid (unpublished) comment. But then I was not going to publish the same anyway. You would round off a great job if you can do the bowling summary also. Ananth: ]]

  • Aditya Jha on April 12, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    I think it's important for people to realize the importance of randomization in a simulation like this. Just because career stats is the base, it doesn't mean that each player will end the series with their career averages(it doesn't happen in real life either). Their career stats got them into the team :)

  • Eddy on April 12, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    Dear Anantha, what fun and joy i had reading this piece. I found ' princeofportofspain's' Barbados V WI idea and your admission that you even played with a Barbados V Bombay match. This made me think if there was an analysis in finding the most fruitful cricket hotbed in the world. For instance lets take Barbados, a population of 280,000 yet it boasts Clarke, Garner, Greenidge,Griffith, Hall, Haynes, Marshall, Hunte, Nurse, King, Sobers, Walcott, Weekes, Worrell...etc The percentage of ABOVE AVERAGE Test cricketers from Barbados to population must put them close to the top. Even comparing a relatively small county like Buckinghamshire in england to Barbados gives us some idea. Bucks has easily double the population and land size of Barbados and can boast Jon Lewis.

    What do you think Anantha?

    regards as always Eddy. [[ Eddy Unfortunately I have to do a lot of work to re-invent the simulation system. Let me find the time and energy to do that. Then we can do Barbados vs Bombay or New South wales vs Surrey (of the 50s) etc. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on April 12, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Just a follow-up to my previous post. There must have been times when both captains were looking for something which even these great teams couldn`t provide. Dravid or Border in the middle-order sprang to mind...a stonewalling Jason Gillespie at No9...a KP style player for England? Any comments you could make there Ananth? I also noticed with interest the important spells of Dexter. Any time you felt the World XI could have used someone similar? I suppose one question raised when experts or we ourselves choose these teams is whether we`re simply choosing the best players in each position or the best-balanced team. This simulation seems a great opportunity to gain some insight into that. That an England team which, to me at least, seemed hopelessly outgunned on paper was able to run the World XI very close suggests that they had a far better balance. I wonder if CMJ had any comments to make about that after the fact? [[ Boll CMJ did his bit and went on to his cricketing duties with Times. We had an intense month and then moved on to other things like Wisden-100. Even on paper I do not think England was that far behind. They would have been closer with Barrington for Cowdrey. I expected 4-1. If the captains had the ability to selact players, first thing, we would have changed the teams from test to test. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on April 12, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    Just a few comments and questions re.selections. I think it`s a little unfair to compare the test careers of either George Headley or Graeme Pollock to Barry Richards. As someone mentioned recently, Headley`s career spanned more than twenty years (although to be fair he only played a handful of tests post war, and hardly scored a run) and Pollock held his average for 5 or 6 years before apartheid stepped in. Barry Richards played one series. Although they played comparably few tests, the 2 former players were at least able to perform at a very high level over quite a few years. Personally, I`d find it hard to include any of them in an all-time XI, but then again I didn`t see them bat, and better judges than I still rate them right up there, lack of test runs/longevity notwithstanding. Also, re.the (to my mind) rather unbalanced middle order of Viv, Lara, Sachin (followed by Sobers and Gilly) as Captain Ananth were you crying out for a Kallis, Border, Dravid, Steve Waugh at times? [[ Boll Kallis was not the same one in 2002 as now. I certainly missed Barrington. Barry Richards was a dicey selection. How he got preferred over Greenidge, I have still not understood. But let us not forget that these were personal selections and we have to bow to the selector, CM-J, a leading journalist. Ananth: ]]

  • Pranav on April 12, 2010, 11:51 GMT

    Publish it as a game engine, but i guess it wud be slow, not much idea about that... but if you have done this much analysis dont let it go just for publishing reports.. maybe EA sports will be interested..!!

  • Xolile on April 12, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    Ananth,

    I hope you did not interpret my questions as negative commentary on SRT. I often use him as an example because most readers are familiar with his career stats.

    If I could structure the same question slightly different: SRT currently has a Test career average of 55.56 and a strike rate of 54.35. He is dismissed on average once every 102.23 balls.

    What I am interested in is the maths of the model. How do these relationships change when SRT is instructed to bat quickly and the field is set to ultra attacking? Does his implicit average stay 55.56 but his strike rate increases. [[ X No, not at all. The fulcrum factor is the batting average. Let us keep SRT's numbers as 103 and .54. If the captain wants Tendulkar to stay longer, he can do so but at the expense of the strike rate. On the other hand if the captain wants SRT to attack, he would necessarily last fewer than 103 balls. "By how much" is a floating figure. I cannot give you exact figures since I myself am not sure. However these figures are applicable at normal strategy levels and normal bowlers (avge 30 or so). You could stretch to around 50% on either side, again I am doing an educated guess based on my memory. But no guarantees since the entire process is randomised. And the captain has to consider the (randomised) form with which SRT starts. If he starts in poor form, SRT's captain has to nurse him through the early stages of the innings with a defensive approach. And if the bowling captain has noticed the poor form he might attack more. All what happens in real life. Of course in ODIs it is different. There I have batsmen classified "Super batsman" who, when they are settled could be made to move into couple of levels more attacking without paying the "dismissal" price. e-g, Richards/SRT/Lara etc. You cannot do this as soon as these batsmen come in nor with other batsmen like Dravid. All these go out of the window at Headingley on an overcast day. You better protect your batsman. In fact we also tried contra-strategies. In other words attack with your batsman in places like Headingley. This might work spectacularly once but failed more often than not. What we aimed for, and succeeded, was for the batting average of Bradman, bowled to by a mix of bowlers, over 1000 innings, would be 100+-5. This we achieved. Within individual matches, the randomising routines and strategies take over. Bradman might fall for 10 to Solkar when he comes in great form. Or score a 250-ball 200 against West Indies circa 1990, starting in indifferent form Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 12, 2010, 5:33 GMT

    Ananth - The much maligned Barry Richards did OK in this series. On such players, I think the final word must go to Sobers. He refused to categorize even Pollock as a great batsman (although Pollock played 23 tests over 6-7 years averaging 63+) on the grounds that Pollock did not play enough amount of test cricket to be judged great. According to him, Pollock had tremendous potential and it was a tragedy that he didn't to get play much on test level. I rather suspect, he held the same view on George Headley but, if so, could never have voiced it publicly.

  • Abhi on April 12, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    Ananth, I’m not one of those who have put in any real stringent stuff (so far!)- but I can well understand those who do. The comments and assumptions about a players capabilities by most ppl will be based on a few innings here and there which in the eyes of some automatically qualify X as a “matchwinning” batsman (or some such nonsense) and Y as “not so”…The innumerable flops ( which should then label X as a “matchlosing” batsman) are conveniently consigned to the dustbin of the mind. Your simulation is obviously based on Entire career performances. Not a handful of innings out of hundreds…which is what most folks base their criteria on. Or perhaps some stylistic/parochial preferences. But one thing I MUST add…The comment about ppl not understanding 1% of your computer simulation- well, I am one of them. I am not a computer geek; don’t know jack about software and zilch about statistics. I can basically type and surf the net. There will be a large number of readers who are like me- basically your average cricket fans. And their comments will be based on what they have seen (although surprisingly in many cases they actually haven’t!), their personal biases (most common) and their judgement about the game. Honestly, I don’t know how many have actually seen any of the England XI in action……..So, the “amateur” nature of the comments is something we may just have to live with. Most of us just bang out a comment and post it. Very few like the srinis, alexs, xoliles etc put in so much thought and effort into a comment- and have the requisite computer/software/programming/statistical knowledge to actually constructively critique the mindbogglingly complex methodology used (and here we used to think that cricket was just about a guy hitting a ball) So- who’s this blog for then? The average Joe cricket fan like me or the computer/stats whizzes? [[ Abhi You might be a 1% person but your comments have never crossed the lakshman rekha and I respect you for it. This blog is for different types of people. From geeks to true-blue non-computer-literate supporters. However the guidelines do not change. This is not one of those blogs written in 10 minutes to which one can respond in 1 minute. You have to take a little more trouble to read and understand. I would have no problem if you said 1. Tendulkar's simulation performances do not match his real life performances. 2. Hutton has exceeded his real life averages. 3. 4-1 might have been a fairer result. 4. England has done better than expected. 5. Barry Richards does not deserve his selection. and so on. I would have major problems if a reader said 1. Your simulation favours Indians. 2. You have shown bias towards Tendulkar. 3. You have shown bias against Tendulkar. 4. You have shown bias towards the English team. 5. You have "created" the scorecards. and so on. Let me assure you that, as a reader, you are as much important to me as Alex or Xolile or Unni. I look forward to all your comments and treasure them. But I will never allow my integrity to be questioned by anyone, never ever. Ignorance of methodology cannot be touted as an excuse. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 12, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    Ananth - A discrepancy: from your .doc file, it appears that the 4th test was at Kolkatta (ROW winning & taking a 3-1 lead in the 5-test series) and the 5th test was at SCG with England winning the dead match. However, your article says that the 4th was at SCG and the 5th at Kolkatta.

  • Alex on April 12, 2010, 3:37 GMT

    Jones - your comment on SRT won't be considered minor on this blog. Far from it. Just check out the circumstances in SRT last 7 test 100's & last 7 ODI 100's (or just y'day's IPL vs Warney's RR). [[ Alex I had no problems with Jones' comments since these were his personal ones. Ananth: ]]

    Ananth - Magnificent stuff. Pl post the series stats: Hutton was outstanding (well deserved) but looks like he just edged out SRT on average (93 vs 89.2). Also, surprised to see no 5-for for Lillee who brought that stat back in vogue in 70's. [[ I lost the stats summary sheets. So I have to re-do these. Since I remembered Hutton and Marshall did only those. Can I request you or some other reader to do a stats summary. Ananth: ]]

    One qn: is it possible for players to change the strategy on the fly? SMG was in defensive mode for an entire century while Richards was in attack mode for an entire test ... I can see that captains can vary this strategy (e.g., sending Gilly ahead of Viv) but it is not clear whether the players can do so, depending on match situation. [[ The strategy can be changed for each ball. However the sequence is Bowling/Fielding strategy first and then Batting strategy. Logical and reflects real life. However to simulate a 5-day test took about 4-5 hours. So strategy changes had to be sparingly done. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on April 12, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    The simulation software, data creation and testing took over 10 man years. There are over 20000 lines of C-code which are testimony to the work put in. Every piece of data was hand-created and verified. All of us who were involved in this are proud of the quality of simulation, database and the extensive testing. Most of all I am proud of the integrity we put in. I will not have people who have understood less than 1% of the effort put in, bring the nonsensical Tendulkar-Lara issue, which has plagued this blog for over 2 years, into this exercise which was done a decade back. Such comments will not be published and I will also not bother about these readers' comments in future. If you cannot say anything worthwhile, do not. Keep the comment in your workspace. I apologize for the tone. However most of you will understand and accept my seeing red on this. I suggest that the serious readers download the scorecard/simulation report document and read the same thoroughly. You will get an idea of the simulation methodology.

  • Xolile on April 11, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    Ananth,

    I am still struggling to understand the basic methodology. Let’s take SRT as an example. He averages around 56 at a strike rate of around 55. His captain instructs him to attack flat out. By how many runs does his strike rate then increase? And what happens to his average? Does it decrease to reflect that he is taking more risks or does it stay the same?

    Also, let’s assume the fielding captain responds somewhat counter-intuitively by setting an attacking field. He is convinced that SRT is going to edge a rising delivery sooner or later. So he brings in 7 slips and 2 gullies. What happens to SRT’s average and his strike rate in this scenario? [[ X I am surprised, quite surprised I must add, at your example. How do you determine Tendulkar's average. Over 1 innings, over 2 innings or over 100 innings. You are giving me one instance of one innings and talking about average. I would like to think that not one captain would make Tendulkar take undue risks. Then if the other captain also sets completely attacking fields he may get out each time for fast cameos. If you are a on-field captain wouldn't you want Tendulkar score his hundred every 3.5 innings. That is what will be achieved with normal batting and normal fielding strategies, over a large number of innings, not 1 or 2 innings. I have tested Bradman with extreme strategies thousands of times. He would invariably average 150-200 balls at a strike rate of 0.5 to 0.6 as long as extreme strategies are avoided. You need extreme strategies when you have the opposing team trying to score 75 to win, as in the fourth test. Otherwise you do not ask Bradman or Tendulkar or Lara to go swing. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on April 11, 2010, 7:51 GMT

    Ananth,

    I am extremely interested in the fielding assumptions. Could you perhaps explain very briefly how you modelled the differences between a fielding side with six slips, two gullies and a short leg – compared to one with long on, deep mid wicket , deep square leg, fine leg, third man, point, sweeper, cover and long off. Also, could you please explain what statistical basis you have used to model these assumptions – or was it mainly intuitive and subjective?

    I always struggle to accept a dropped catch from someone who reacts in a split second and with perfect foot movement covers 3-4 meters, dives full stretch to his left, and gets his finger tips to a ball travelling at more than 100mph. Even if we had stats on catches compared to dropped catches it would be close to meaningless. You would have to study each ball and look at reaction times, reach, speed of movement, background, light quality, alignment, ball speed and trajectory. [[ X First thing you must understand that this is a 100%-numbers based strategy based simulation rather than the hand controlled visual one. In other words the specific fielding positions are only window dressing. The key data is what is the fielding strategy, ranging from an all-out carmody type of 9 close fielders to 7 at the boundaries. In turn, the batting captain might adopt an all-out attacking (say, going for 6 rpo) to all-out defensive (say 1 rpo). The combination of these could be a heady mix and about 40 odd combinations. The chances of getting out could have a wide range of 300%. Correspondingly the runs scored will have the contra range. I, as the ROW captain, adopted the first field setup in the last innings of fourth test. Ananth: ]]

  • Keith Fletcher on April 11, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    Where was Denis Compton ? Can only assume he was unfit with knee problems. Yes, Hutton was that good and he did face bowlers as good as the ROW team.

  • Ashwath on April 11, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Glad to see Tendulkar finally scores 50 at Lords. LOl. Great article though sir.

  • Jones on April 11, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Good work ananth although id like to see a ROW vs Aus/Wi or even Aus vs Wi altime game.But one minor statement im realy surprized to see Tendulkar scoring when it mattered (when series on balance)

  • Leena Ferdous Khan on April 11, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    I am surprised there wasn't a draw even due to some rain somewhere. [[ Leena The places selected did not have a high rain index. If I remember right there was a rain stoppage in the Capetown test which could very well have let England escape with a draw. Also in the Calcutta test. The rain stoppage was not long enough to have any impact on the game. Ananth: ]]

  • Voltaire on April 11, 2010, 0:54 GMT

    Ananth!

    Great work....I waited with anticipation and that speaks about the quality of your simulation. Macko has to be the bowler come hell or highwater....I would rate Macko much higher than Lillee on any day! One minor quibble though....Botham could never ever score a 100* that has Macko in attack....Kapil proved he can in Trinidad '83 and Imran in the 1980-81 series. Long live Macko!

  • Rangan on April 10, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    If you make this simulation into a game, I am sure it would be a sell-out. I would definitely love to play it.

  • Pranesh on April 10, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    Ananth, Thank you for the articles. After a week of exams at college, I had a lot of cricinfo stuff to catch up with. I chose to open your articles first. It's been a pleasure going through the articles, even though one can't skim through them and has to make the effort to understand what's going on.

  • Rex on April 10, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    1. ROW 5 100s and 2 90s Tendulkar-1 100 and 1 50

    Tend has more hundreds at SCG than Kolkata. Has scored hundreds on pitches where no one else on either did. He doesn't notch his hundreds like Ian Bell- where umpteen others have, does he?

    At the time of this simulation, things maybe different. But even then, it seems to give the impression that he's some home-town bully and mediocre away.

    2. Tendulkar dismissed 6 times- all to spinners. 4 Laker & 2 Underwood In his long career spinners account only 29% of his dismissals.

    3. Was Len Hutton so good? Had he ever faced the likes of the ROW bowlers?

    Without Hutton's humongous scores England would have lost 4-1 or worse. How did the simulation came out with 4 tons and 1 50 (and a 48) for him against 5 bowlers whose career average combined would be less than 150.

    4. In all innings from either side the tail has been swept away. Less than 50 runs amongst the last 4 wickets and only once did the last 5 score 100.

    I'll be back with more.

  • Harsha UB on April 10, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    I really like your articles Anantha, firstly they are neat don't come with masked messages. More importantly statistics have a lot of power in them, many people including people who understand them misuse it to the effect that it reflects end-all to all arguments but you take a measured view in saying that under these circumstances we get these numbers and they may be interpreted in a certain way; while somebody else with access to same numbers but other assumptions have the liberty to arrive at different conclusions. This aspect of presentation and in general the humbleness is most important for both scientists, analysts and people who make decisions.

    Way to go......I really like the analysis of best Test batsman for India and your retort to a reader in the first part of this article regarding inclusion of Gavaskar. Thank you for clearing my misconceptions on SG.

  • Abhi on April 10, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Ananth, I have only just skimmed through this whole humongous, massive undertaking. And obviously being the SRT fan that I am, I checked out his scores. Again just glanced through. The one thing that struck me as distinctly odd was his scores at the SCG , where as we know he has probably done better than any batsmen ever- including the Don. Just a quick ,first off coment---will take time to go through this!

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  • Abhi on April 10, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Ananth, I have only just skimmed through this whole humongous, massive undertaking. And obviously being the SRT fan that I am, I checked out his scores. Again just glanced through. The one thing that struck me as distinctly odd was his scores at the SCG , where as we know he has probably done better than any batsmen ever- including the Don. Just a quick ,first off coment---will take time to go through this!

  • Harsha UB on April 10, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    I really like your articles Anantha, firstly they are neat don't come with masked messages. More importantly statistics have a lot of power in them, many people including people who understand them misuse it to the effect that it reflects end-all to all arguments but you take a measured view in saying that under these circumstances we get these numbers and they may be interpreted in a certain way; while somebody else with access to same numbers but other assumptions have the liberty to arrive at different conclusions. This aspect of presentation and in general the humbleness is most important for both scientists, analysts and people who make decisions.

    Way to go......I really like the analysis of best Test batsman for India and your retort to a reader in the first part of this article regarding inclusion of Gavaskar. Thank you for clearing my misconceptions on SG.

  • Rex on April 10, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    1. ROW 5 100s and 2 90s Tendulkar-1 100 and 1 50

    Tend has more hundreds at SCG than Kolkata. Has scored hundreds on pitches where no one else on either did. He doesn't notch his hundreds like Ian Bell- where umpteen others have, does he?

    At the time of this simulation, things maybe different. But even then, it seems to give the impression that he's some home-town bully and mediocre away.

    2. Tendulkar dismissed 6 times- all to spinners. 4 Laker & 2 Underwood In his long career spinners account only 29% of his dismissals.

    3. Was Len Hutton so good? Had he ever faced the likes of the ROW bowlers?

    Without Hutton's humongous scores England would have lost 4-1 or worse. How did the simulation came out with 4 tons and 1 50 (and a 48) for him against 5 bowlers whose career average combined would be less than 150.

    4. In all innings from either side the tail has been swept away. Less than 50 runs amongst the last 4 wickets and only once did the last 5 score 100.

    I'll be back with more.

  • Pranesh on April 10, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    Ananth, Thank you for the articles. After a week of exams at college, I had a lot of cricinfo stuff to catch up with. I chose to open your articles first. It's been a pleasure going through the articles, even though one can't skim through them and has to make the effort to understand what's going on.

  • Rangan on April 10, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    If you make this simulation into a game, I am sure it would be a sell-out. I would definitely love to play it.

  • Voltaire on April 11, 2010, 0:54 GMT

    Ananth!

    Great work....I waited with anticipation and that speaks about the quality of your simulation. Macko has to be the bowler come hell or highwater....I would rate Macko much higher than Lillee on any day! One minor quibble though....Botham could never ever score a 100* that has Macko in attack....Kapil proved he can in Trinidad '83 and Imran in the 1980-81 series. Long live Macko!

  • Leena Ferdous Khan on April 11, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    I am surprised there wasn't a draw even due to some rain somewhere. [[ Leena The places selected did not have a high rain index. If I remember right there was a rain stoppage in the Capetown test which could very well have let England escape with a draw. Also in the Calcutta test. The rain stoppage was not long enough to have any impact on the game. Ananth: ]]

  • Jones on April 11, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Good work ananth although id like to see a ROW vs Aus/Wi or even Aus vs Wi altime game.But one minor statement im realy surprized to see Tendulkar scoring when it mattered (when series on balance)

  • Ashwath on April 11, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Glad to see Tendulkar finally scores 50 at Lords. LOl. Great article though sir.

  • Keith Fletcher on April 11, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    Where was Denis Compton ? Can only assume he was unfit with knee problems. Yes, Hutton was that good and he did face bowlers as good as the ROW team.