Batting June 1, 2010

Significant Test innings, and their architects

A look at the significant innings played by batsmen in Tests, based on a certain set of criteria

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has a significant innings percentage of 46.7%, which places him fourth in the all-time list © Getty Images
It is nice to be back after a valuable and recharging break. It is also wonderful to renew acquaintance with the valued readers. The break was necessary but I could not wait for the self-imposed sabbatical to be over.

In this article I have gone back to the reader's suggestions, specifically Xolile. He had suggested a few months back that I should look at separating the significant Test innings based on runs scored and balls faced, wherever such information is available, and rating batsmen using this information. I have taken that suggestion and completed the analysis after significantly improving the basis.

He had suggested that I take 80 runs and 160 balls as the basis. I have instead worked on a dynamic fixing of the cut-off points based on the specific match conditions. The idea is that I should achieve the following inclusions and exclusions through this analysis.

The analysis should be done so that the following innings (just a few examples) are included.

- Gillespie's 9 (off 51) out of Aus total of 93 a.o (30 overs) at Mumbai
- Guptill's 30 (off 122) out of Nzl total of 157 a.o (59.1 overs) at Wellington
- Srinath's 76 (off 159) out of Ind total of 416 a.o (128.3 overs) at Hamilton
- Hutton's 30 (balls n/a) out of Eng total of 52 a.o. (42.1 overs) at Oval
- A.H.Kardar's 69 (balls n.a) out of Pak total of 199 a.o (91.3 overs) at Karachi
and so on.

and the following innings (just a few examples) are not included.

- Collingwood's 60 out of Eng total of 569 for 6 at Chester
- Clarke's 83 out of Aus total of 674 for 6 at Cardiff
- Ranatunga's 86 out of Slk total of 952 for 6 at Colombo
- Walcott's 88* out of Win total of 790 for 3 at Kingston
- Rae's 63* and Stollymeyer's 76* out of Win total of 142 for 0 at Trinidad
and so on.

I have taken one decision, slightly reluctantly. Any 100 would be considered to be significant. Although I do not consider a 100 by itself to be anything special, I think this is a correct decision since out of the 68,879 innings played to date only 3370 hundreds have been scored and this constitutes around 5%. It is not a bad premise to start with, banking one in twenty innings.

As far as the often quoted instances of batsmen scoring 100s in dead match situations, the following example will show the pitfalls.

Take a match where two days have been washed out. The match scores are

Team 1: 300 for 5. Team 2: 300 for 6. Team 1: 300 for 7 (Xyz 100+).

If the first two days are lost due to rain, the third innings century is a totally irrelevant one scored on the last day. On the other hand if the last two days have been washed out, the third innings century is a very relevant one made in a live match situation on the third day. If the rain had occurred on other days, the value of the 100 would oscillate significantly. Hence pre-conceived notions of the significance or non-significance of innings should not be used to come to conclusions. Also incorporating rain factor, when it happened, on what day the runs were scored all are virtually impossible in any analysis because of the absence of dependable data.

Since 80 and 160 are arbitrary, I have worked on a dynamic determination of the cut-off for each match, separate for either team. This makes sense since I should include an innings of 9 and exclude a 88* innings. There cannot be common cut-off criteria.

The cut-off methodology is explained below. Based on the cut-off points 2 to 5, 12,529 innings below 100 have got selected.

An innings is considered to be significant if it satisfies any one of the following five conditions.

1. The runs scored is greater than or equal to 100 (already talked of).

2. The balls faced is greater than or equal to 200.

3. The runs scored is greater than or equal to the cut-off figure for the team, as explained below.
- For batsmen 1-7, 1.333 times the Runs per wkt value for the team for the two innings together.
- For batsmen 8-11, 1.167 times the Runs per wkt value for the team for the two innings together.

4. The balls faced is equal to or higher than the cut-off figure for the team, as explained below.
- For batsmen 1-7, 1.667 times the Balls per wkt value for the team for the two innings together.
- For batsmen 8-11, 1.333 times the Balls per wkt value for the team for the two innings together.

5. To take care of very low innings totals, see Hutton example above, the runs scored is greater than or equal to one third of the team total. The team should have lost 5 wickets or more. Otherwise Stollymeyer-type innings would get through.

Seems complicated but all conditions are logical once the above 5 conditions are understood properly, and the fact that an innings has to adhere to at least one of these in order to be seen as significant in this analysis. Of course, a cursory glance would be woefully inadequate. These cut-off numbers have also been determined after a lot of trial work during the past few days. A higher cut-off will mean missing out of some significant innings while a lower cut-off will mean inclusion of ordinary innings. Overall this method is slightly unfair to older batsmen since they have only the "Runs scored" criteria available to them. However nothing can be done about that.

I got a massive list of 15,899 innings, which is about 23% and this figure looks good. Then I posted these into the player database and got the player table. This table is sequenced on the % of significant innings since the number of innings played varies considerably. The cut-off for batsman selection is 3000 runs and above. 159 batsmen qualify.

The top 20 entries are listed below.

Table of batsman by % of significant innings

SNo Batsman For Mats Runs Inns SI % SI

1.Bradman D.G Aus 52 6996 80 43 53.8 2.EdeC Weekes Win 48 4455 81 39 48.1 3.Hobbs J.B Eng 61 5410 102 49 48.0 4.Chanderpaul S Win 123 8669 210 98 46.7 5.Barrington K.F Eng 82 6806 131 61 46.6 6.Sutcliffe H Eng 54 4555 84 39 46.4 7.Lara B.C Win 131 11953 232 106 45.7 8.Dravid R Ind 139 11395 240 108 45.0 9.Hutton L Eng 79 6971 138 62 44.9 10.Flower A Zim 63 4794 112 50 44.6 11.May P.B.H Eng 66 4537 106 47 44.3 12.Viswanath G.R Ind 91 6080 155 68 43.9 13.Hammond W.R Eng 85 7249 140 61 43.6 14.Compton D.C.S Eng 78 5807 131 57 43.5 15.Umrigar P.R Ind 59 3631 94 40 42.6 16.Mitchell B Saf 42 3471 80 34 42.5 17.Sarwan R.R Win 83 5759 146 62 42.5 18.Manjrekar V.L Ind 55 3208 92 39 42.4 19.Javed Miandad Pak 124 8832 189 80 42.3 20.Gavaskar S.M Ind 125 10122 214 89 41.6

How often do we a table headed by Bradman. More than 1 out of 2 innings played by Bradman are significant. He is the only player to have exceeded 50%. Then come two giants, Weekes and Hobbs, who have figures around 48%, the one mitigating factor is that they are within 10% of Bradman.

Now the biggest surprise. The unheralded and unsung Chanderpaul clocks in at 46.7% ahead of his more illustrious contemporaries. It shows the solidity and quality Chanderpaul brought to position No. 6. He could very well improve in the years to come. Barrington and Sutcliffe come in next, both great defensive batsmen. Hutton chips in in the 10th position.

Now we have two modern greats, Lara and Dravid. Lara's playing in a weaker team has helped a bit in this regard, but there can be few detractors to the claims of his greatness. Same applies to Dravid. What he has achieved for India has not been acknowledged, especially on the Test front. It is very pleasing to see some of the Indian greats of the past eras, viz., Viswanath, Umrigar, Manjrekar and Gavaskar appear in the top-20. They played in tough times and this has been recognised. Rounding this table in the 9th position is Andy Flower, one of the greatest modern batsmen ever, slightly benefiting from playing for a weaker team.

To view/down-load the complete table, please click/right-click here.

I have also given below the top 10 batsmen in terms of number of significant innings.

Table of batsman by number of significant innings

SNo Batsman For Mats Runs Inns SI % SI

1.Dravid R Ind 139 11395 240 108 45.0 2.Lara B.C Win 131 11953 232 106 45.7 3.Border A.R Aus 156 11174 265 103 38.9 4.Tendulkar S.R Ind 166 13447 271 103 38.0 5.Chanderpaul S Win 123 8669 210 98 46.7 6.Kallis J.H Saf 137 10843 231 94 40.7 7.Waugh S.R Aus 168 10927 260 92 35.4 8.Stewart A.J Eng 133 8465 235 90 38.3 9.Gavaskar S.M Ind 125 10122 214 89 41.6 10.Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 120 8830 200 82 41.0

This is a quantity table. Dravid is on top with 108 performances and is followed by Lara with 106. Both are placed in the top-10 of the main table. Then comes the great fighter, Border and the incomparable Tendulkar with 103 significant innings. These four are the only batsmen to exceed 100 significant innings. Chanderpaul and Kallis should soon breach this number.

To view/down-load the complete table, please click/right-click here.

I have also made available the complete list of significant performances for all the 159 qualifying batsmen.

To view/down-load the table for the first 999 tests, please click/right-click here.

To view/down-load the table for tests 1000-1957, please click/right-click here.

Finally the grand-daddy of all tables. Let me warn you these tables are huge, 500kb each. These are the lists of all significant innings, all 15899 of them, covering all 1957 tests played.

To view/down-load the complete table for tests 1-999, please click/right-click here.

To view/down-load the complete table for tests 1000-1957, please click/right-click here.

Finally a usual note. This is a unique attempt to apply a common set of criteria across 1957 Tests spread over 133 years. There are bound to be anomalies. Readers are better off suggesting improvements rather than pointing out such stray instances.

A few readers have asked for spme summarized figures based on criteria. I have given these, and more below. I have not done the %. I leave it for the readers.

Total: 15908
100s: 3372
200 balls but < 100 runs:  312
Out of other 12224 innings,
Both rpw & bpw criteria: 2517  Rpw criteria: 9270    Bpw criteria: 410
50-99: 6944     Lt 50: 5592
BPos 1-7: 13932   BPos 8-11: 1976
Ist inns: 8791      2nd inns: 7117
Wins: 4587     Draws: 4713     Losses: 6608

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

  • fanedlive on June 22, 2010, 2:28 GMT

    Great article , one of the wonderful article with crunching statistics i have ever seen in ages. But one thing i saw missing was , what happened to the modern i mean batsman got less than 3000 runs.. i mean who comes in 6th or 7th position and gets 40n.a[50 balls] or 50 n.a[80 balls] in every matches which has a total of 200.. He ll be having more 40's and 50's and would have made an impact but as he din get a 100 , din face more deliveries , din get more than 3000. what happened to them.?

  • fanedlive on June 17, 2010, 1:01 GMT


    I did some number crunching recently to look at the value of a person to the team. I wonder whether you would be willing to take a look at it and discuss it any further? If you are willing, do let me know your email address. You can probably get mine from this email, but just in case - it is rv dot subbu at gmail dot com.

  • fanedlive on June 16, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    Ananth, The basic point I was trying to make was that there should be an absolute run cut off as well in determining SI s- not just a % of total team score. A minimum of around at least 30 runs an inn. An inn. below this score will in the vast majority of cases not actually be SI s. As an eg. an inn. of say 10 runs out of 50 should not be considered an SI. You may have batsmen in very poor teams squirting a couple of 4s through slips and so getting around 10 odd runs….so a minimum run cut out should be considerered. If a batsman has managed to remained N.O when scoring less than 30 during the team collapse, then this inn. should be deducted from his total inn. when calculating % SI. [[ Abhi While I understand the need to take care of short innings, there is no way I will accept the argument that Hutton's 30 (out of 52), Tancred's 26 (out of 47) or Flintoff's 24 (out of 51) are not significant innings. They are acts of defiance worthy to be honoured, much more than many a 100. This is taken care of my fixing 20 as the lower limit. That way Trumper's 18 (out of 36) does not get included. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on June 14, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    In response to Mani's arguments i think if a non hundred or a inning of less than 200 balls is counted as significant only after fall of 5 wickets then low scoring not out inning should counted for si% only in those team innings in which 5 or more wickets falls.and if in team inning 4 or less wicket falls then low scoring not out innings of batsman should not be counted for si%.Reason is that in a team inning in which 5 or more wicket falls if a batsman remain a low scoring not out it should be consider that he fails to leave 'significant' impression in team inning, and if 4 or less wicket falls it should be consider batsman not got full chance to show his significanse. [[ Dixit You have not understood the process. A 37 or 112 ball innings can very well become a SI. It is only for the last category of innings exceeding one third of the innings size (and these innings have not qualified in any of the earlier processes) that the 5 wicket limit is put in. This is only to avoid 50 out of 100 for no loss or 1 wkt to be included. Even this, with my changed innings-basis calculation, I am not sure. Earlier because of the odd situation of 400 and 100 by the same team resulting in some unfair treatment of the smaller innings I put in this. Now I may not need this at all. Might very well remove it. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on June 14, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    On further thought, then again- if you disregard inn. as SIs in team scores of less than 60 but count them in the “total inn.” this is not fair to the batsman. so, perhaps my first comment stands!getting murkier by the minute... [[ Abhi By mistake I lost your first comment. Let us leave it at this. I think let common sense be the judge in these situations. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on June 14, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Thanks for your response. Still I think I haven't put my thoughts clearer. For the purpose of calculating SI, consider all the innings. In case if a not-out innings is SI, this has to be included in the total innings played by the batsman while computing % of SI.

    I can only relate not-out innings to students appearing in exam and denied opportunity to complete for whatever reason. If he has performed enough to declare him pass, he has to be considered as appeared for the exam and passed. If his performance is not enough, he should not be considered as failed in an attempt - rather not to have appeared for the exam. By this way, sutcliffe's 11 will be included as SI and will be part of total innings played by him whereas Walcott's 88 will not be included in the total innings played by him for computing % of SI.

    I didn't know whether I have conveyed my thoughts clearly but I wouldn't trouble you more in this topic again. [[ Mani maybe I am not the one who has not conveyed the info properly. Whatever happens an innings is first considered to be whether an SI or not. Sutcliffe's innings wiill fall into the special category. Out of the non-SI innings I will exclude the single digit not out inns. Incidentally I have completed this portion. Does not make a significant change. However it is a correct one. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on June 14, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    Ananth, Would Chanders last 2 inn. vs Steyn and co.rank as SIs as per this metric? If so, then it would be a classic case of "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man...." [[ Abhi The first innings would be in, on merit, on both counts. He and Deonaraine played very well amongst mediocre buffoons. Not the second innings where he was out-performed by quite a few other batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • fanedlive on June 13, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Sorry to drag this topic further. I thought it is easier to leave out the non-significant not out innings. As you will be doing your SI analysis on the basis of each innings (as against each match), you can also have an attribute (Significant or Not) for each innings played by each batsman in your database (if possible). You can just exclude the number if an innings is both non-significant and not-out. I am not sure whether it is possible to incorporate such changes in your database at this time... anyway I've put just what I have in my mind. [[ Mani In the morning when I got up and was lying in bed unwilling to put my feet on the cool floor I started thinking about your suggestion. It seemed to carry lot of sense. I realized that we need not be slaves to convention and that doors are meant to be opened and not remain closed. The idea is intrinsically correct. A batsman has had no opportunity to build his innings at all. There is every right to say that the innings should be excluded. However since I also have the one third of very short innings as a factor, that should not be disturbed. In the 26, the New Zealand low-point, Sutcliffe scored 11 and that innings has to come in. Hence I have decided that single digit not out innings would be excluded from the number of innings played. Thanks for an excellent suggestion. ]]

  • fanedlive on June 13, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    Alex,DD,Mani,Ariz Khan,Sarosh etc- All top notch comments, with loads of fresh insights.

  • fanedlive on June 13, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    continued from previous post...

    Lara B.C - 232 - 3 - 229 - 106 - 46.29% May P.B.H - 106 - 4 - 102 - 47 - 46.08% Hammond W.R - 140 - 4 - 136 - 61 - 44.85% Viswanath G.R - 155 - 3 - 152 - 68 - 44.74% Mitchell B - 80 - 4 - 76 - 34 - 44.74% Javed Miandad - 189 - 9 - 180 - 80 - 44.44% Umrigar P.R - 94 - 4 - 90 - 40 - 44.44% Manjrekar V.L - 92 - 3 - 89 - 39 - 43.82% Sarwan R.R - 146 - 2 - 144 - 62 - 43.06% Gavaskar S.M - 214 - 7 - 207 - 89 - 43%

    Since I haven't seen the players of previous eras, I couldn't comment on their relative placement. However, of the modern players, the order of Chanderpaul, Dravid, Flower and then Lara surprises me.

    Even though it is difficult (Not Impossible) to find out, I hope, as usual, you will find a way to work that out. Eagerly awaiting your follow-up article. [[ Mani I will repeat this comment in the follow-up article also just in case people miss reading it here. I am not going to open the door since I dio not know what I will find there. Where do I draw the line. At 9* or 19* . And what about the earlier innings. What about 300 for 5 declared and a batsman remaining not out on 15. Let us not open that door. A batsman takes stance, it is considered as an innings, as done everywhere. However I am doing a qualitative measurement of the SI in my foillow-up. In that I will only use the number of SIs as the basis and not extend it to all inns. It will be a question of a. how often a batsman plays an SI, with the n umber of inns played as the basis. and b. when he has played an SI, by how much does he exceeds the cut-off value, with the number of SIs played as the base. It is coming out very well. Ananth: ]]

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