ODIs July 2, 2010

Significant ODI innings: a look at the innings and the batsmen

A look at the most significant innings in ODIs and the batsmen.

Viv Richards' 189 against England is the top ODI innings © Getty Images

The articles on significant innings in Tests received very good response from the readers with excellent suggestions for improvement which enabled me to come out with a follow-up article incorporating a number of suggestions. That has emboldened me to do the same for ODIs. Many of the lessons learnt from the earlier exercises have been applied in this effort.

The numbers have totally different implications in the two formats. The data availability, especially the scoring rates, is 100% in ODIs as compared to Tests. Balls faced has different implications in Tests and ODIs. Almost always cameos mean nothing in Tests, not so in ODIs. Hence the two processes are as different as chalk and cheese.

As I have already explained in the Test articles, the following measures have not been considered. All these have value in a Ratings exercise. Not in this effort. And if I consider one I have to consider all.

- Ground/Pitch conditions. - Result. - Quality of bowing attack. - Team strength of opposition. - Innings position at entry. - Home/Away. - Importance of match et al.

The only figures used are the runs scored and balls faced by the concerned batsman and the runs scored and balls faced by his team. No other data is used. It makes the exercise simpler and easier to understand.

The most important requirement of a batsman is to score runs. The next important requirement is that he scores these runs as quickly as possible. Nothing more. I have followed this important guideline in determining the significance of innings. "Significance" is a subjective word and this methodology converts this into an objective measurable process.

After a lot of experimentation, I have determined that I should adopt a different methodology for ODIs. Partly I have used my favourite weighting concept. I have weighted the innings on five measures, assigned these values based on a pre-determined formulae and summed these five values. That represents the significant innings index and the rest is routine. The measures are explained below.

1. Absolute runs scored: It took 26 years for the 175 to be overhauled by 189, the 189 to be equalized, the 189 to be overtaken by 194, the 194 to be equalized and (this time, quite quickly) the first 200 to be scored. Hence I have kept 200 as the pinnacle. Let me cross the 200+ bridge as and when it is crossed by a batsman. The little master's 200 gets 2 points and the other innings get proportionate values.

2. % of Team score: It is very important to differentiate innings such as the 189 which was scored out of 272 and the 175 out of 262 from the 200 which was out of 401 and a 101 out of 363. Hence this percentage is calculated and 2 points allocated for a % of team score value of 84.2% which is the highest % of team share achieved by McCullum (80 out of 95).

3. Score comparison with 'runs per batsman': This is somewhat similar to the Test significant innings work. This is necessary to distinguish between an innings of 150 out of 300 for 2 and an innings of 150 out of 300 all out. The first two values for these two innings will be identical. The Runs per batsman (the number of batsmen who took strike - as against the wickets) value is calculated and the ratio between the batsman runs and this value arrived at. The maximum value of 2 points are allotted for a ratio of 7.64. Richards' 189* has the highest ratio and gets allotted a point value of 2.00.

4. Absolute scoring rate: This is an important measure and gets recognized. Out of all qualifying innings, Chris Lewis' 20 in 6 has the highest scoring rate, viz., 333.3. This is taken as the base for fixing the 2.0 point mark. The other innings get proportionate allocations based on their innings strike rates. The highest innings included, Shahid Afridi's 55 off 18 balls, has a strike rate of 305.6. This innings gets a value for this index of 1.83 points.

5. Strike rate comparison with 'team strike rate': This is somewhat similar to the Test significant innings work. This is necessary to distinguish between an innings of 50 off 50 balls out of 150 in 50 overs and an innings of 50 off 50 balls out of 300 in 50 overs. The fourth measure value for these two innings will be identical. The Strike rate value for the team is calculated and the ratio between the batsman strike rate and this value arrived at. The maximum value of 2 points are allotted for a ratio of 4.67. Afridi's 29 off 10 (2.90) out of a Pakistani total of 142 off 37.5 (0.62) has the highest ratio of 4.67 and gets allotted a point value of 2.00. The others get allotted proportionate values.

Thus it can be seen that runs scored has a weight of 60% and strike rate 40%. It seems fair to me since ultimately runs matter more. However there is no overlap and each measure has a clear significance and separation.

A few other criteria to define the significant innings.

1. All not out scores of below 20 are excluded from consideration. Such scores happen often in ODIs and these should not distort the picture.

2. A SI total value of 2.50 has been considered to be the minimum required for being a significant innings. This represents 25% of the maximum and has worked out quite well.

3. The batsmen listed are those who have scored 3000 ODI runs and above. Readers should remember two facts. One is that all innings are considered and included in the analysis. It is only for display of the tables that the cut-off of 3000 runs is taken. There is nothing arbitrary about this. I also considered use of number of innings, say 100, for cut-off. However this leads to the inclusion of quite few bowlers. 3000 runs gives us 109 batsmen, a good population size. 2000 runs will increase this to 157 but will also bring in quite a few non-batsmen.

Now let us look at the tables.

First the list of top batsmen ordered by the % of SIs played out of the selected innings.

List of top batsmen ordered by the % of SIs played out of the selected innings
No. Batsman Country Innings Runs Sel Inns SI Inns %SI Avg SIIdx Avg SI-RPI
1 Vivian Richards WI 167 6721 163 64 39.26 3.434 75.0
2 Sachin Tendulkar Ind 431 17598 424 155 36.56 3.413 84.2
3 Michael Hussey Aus 120 4208 114 41 35.96 3.005 63.7
4 Chris Gayle WI 215 7885 214 72 33.64 3.365 76.8
5 MS Dhoni Ind 147 5593 139 46 33.09 3.111 73.7
6 Kevin Pietersen Eng 93 3332 93 30 32.26 3.283 74.5
7 Marcus Trescothick Eng 122 4335 121 39 32.23 3.374 80.4
8 Brian Lara WI 289 10405 285 91 31.93 3.330 75.7
9 Gordon Greenidge WI 127 5134 126 40 31.75 3.170 81.7
10 Saeed Anwar Pak 244 8824 243 75 30.86 3.264 76.1
11 AB de Villiers SA 97 3616 95 29 30.53 3.203 77.8
12 Andy Flower Zim 208 6786 204 62 30.39 3.058 69.8
13 Jacques Kallis SA 289 10838 280 85 30.36 3.119 79.4
14 Dean Jones Aus 161 6068 157 47 29.94 3.232 76.5
15 Virender Sehwag Ind 217 7112 215 64 29.77 3.298 71.7
16 Allan Lamb Eng 118 4010 116 34 29.31 3.188 69.0
17 Martin Crowe NZ 141 4704 137 40 29.20 3.312 72.2
18 Graeme Smith SA 152 5732 152 44 28.95 3.211 76.2
19 Nick Knight Eng 100 3637 98 28 28.57 3.300 81.1
20 Adam Gilchrist Aus 279 9619 277 79 28.52 3.315 74.1

There should be no surprises in the top-3. Richards and Tendulkar are the two "First among equals". Nearly 40% of the innings Richards has played are significant indicating the impact he has had on the game. There is some daylight and then there is Tendulkar. The fact that more than a third of the 400+ innings he has played are significant is a stupendous achievement. His influence on the modern game and the Indian team's ODI performances is legendary. Now comes Hussey, whose place in the modern game as a finisher is substantiated by this high ranking. I do not understand why he should bat behind White in the current Australian team. He also comes in quite often in situations where he has no option but to take undue risks (as at Oval a few days back).

Next the list of top batsmen ordered by the number of SIs played.

List of top batsmen ordered by the num of SIs played
No. Batsman Country Innings Runs Sel Inns SI Inns %SI Avg SIIdx Avg SI-RPI
1 Sachin Tendulkar Ind 431 17598 424 155 36.56 3.413 84.2
2 Sanath Jayasuriya SL 432 13428 428 113 26.40 3.410 75.5
3 Ricky Ponting Aus 341 13057 331 92 27.79 3.135 82.2
4 Brian Lara WI 289 10405 285 91 31.93 3.330 75.7
5 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 350 11739 347 89 25.65 3.098 71.6
6 Jacques Kallis SA 289 10838 280 85 30.36 3.119 79.4
7 Aravinda de Silva SL 296 9284 292 81 27.74 3.235 72.5
8 Rahul Dravid Ind 313 10765 303 81 26.73 3.031 74.1
9 Adam Gilchrist Aus 279 9619 277 79 28.52 3.315 74.1
10 Saeed Anwar Pak 244 8824 243 75 30.86 3.264 76.1
11 Saurav Ganguly Ind 300 11363 297 75 25.25 3.333 89.2
12 Chris Gayle WI 215 7885 214 72 33.64 3.365 76.8
13 Mohammad Yousuf Pak 267 9624 265 72 27.17 3.199 76.9
14 Shahid Afridi Pak 278 6222 269 70 26.02 3.237 54.1
15 Mahela Jayawardene SL 302 8863 291 70 24.05 3.066 70.4
16 Mohammmed Azharuddin Ind 308 9378 297 68 22.90 3.174 70.9
17 Shivnarine Chanderpaul WI 245 8648 237 67 28.27 3.216 73.6
18 Vivian Richards WI 167 6721 163 64 39.26 3.434 75.0
19 Virender Sehwag Ind 217 7112 215 64 29.77 3.298 71.7
20 Herschelle Gibbs SA 240 8094 238 64 26.89 3.328 82.7

This is the one time a longevity table has some meaning. Tendulkar has played over 150 significant innings. To do this day in and day out for over 21 years is the stuff only the all-time-greats can dream of. Note the 27% gap between Tendulkar and Jayasuriya, although both have played the same number of ODI games. Three wonderful ODI batsmen, Ponting, Lara and Inzamam follow next. The top-5 are all awe-inspiring ODI batsmen.

The last one is the list of top batsmen ordered by the average value of SI index.

List of top batsmen ordered by the average SI Index value
No. Batsman Country Innings Runs Sel Inns SI Inns %SI Avg SIIdx Avg SI-RPI
1 David Gower Eng 111 3170 109 20 18.35 3.505 80.8
2 Vivian Richards WI 167 6721 163 64 39.26 3.434 75.0
3 Sachin Tendulkar Ind 431 17598 424 155 36.56 3.413 84.2
4 Sanath Jayasuriya SL 432 13428 428 113 26.40 3.410 75.5
5 Marcus Trescothick Eng 122 4335 121 39 32.23 3.374 80.4
6 Graham Gooch Eng 122 4290 121 25 20.66 3.372 82.6
7 Chris Gayle WI 215 7885 214 72 33.64 3.365 76.8
8 Steve Tikolo Ken 121 3304 120 31 25.83 3.342 68.5
9 Nathan Astle NZ 217 7090 217 54 24.88 3.325 85.2
10 Saurav Ganguly Ind 300 11363 297 75 25.25 3.333 89.2
11 Brian Lara WI 289 10405 285 91 31.93 3.330 75.7
12 Herschelle Gibbs SA 240 8094 238 64 26.89 3.328 82.7
13 Adam Gilchrist Aus 279 9619 277 79 28.52 3.315 74.1
14 Desmond Haynes WI 237 8648 236 60 25.42 3.312 84.1
15 Martin Crowe NZ 141 4704 127 40 29.20 3.312 72.2
16 Shoaib Malik Pak 172 5188 162 35 21.60 3.311 79.5
17 Geoff Marsh Aus 115 4357 115 26 22.61 3.308 90.1
18 Nick Knight Eng 100 3637 98 28 28.57 3.300 81.1
19 Virender Sehwag Ind 217 7112 215 64 29.77 3.298 71.7
20 Kevin Pietersen Eng 93 3332 93 30 32.26 3.283 74.5

There is a surprise at the top. I would have expected Richards and Tendulkar to be on top. However they have been leap-frogged by the stylist, David Gower. That indicates that when he performed, Gower went way past the line. Richards follows next close behind and is followed by Tendulkar. Very well-deserved positions indeed for these greats. Jayasuriya and Trescothick take the next two places. In this table Hussey is quite low with only around 3 points.

Readers will note that I have also given the average runs per innings for the SIs. Tendulkar's average RpI is very high at 84.2. Richards' RpI value is 80.0. Note the very high RpI value of Ganguly, 89.2. In fact Ganguly is second only to Geoff Marsh who has averaged 90.1 runs. Astle is in third place with 85.2 and Tendulkar is fourth. Hussey is way down with a value of 63.7 runs indicating the inability to play longer innings in late-order.

Finally the top four SI values and the related scorecards.

If some one does not know about Richards' all-time classic innings, he probably follows only T20 games or is not interested in Cricket. Over the past few years I have done quite a few ODI Innings rating lists, including the Wisden-100. The one constant factor in all these lists is the presence of Richards' 189* in the top place. Not once has this innings come second. It is my firm conviction that if 100 unbiased, objective and informed followers are asked the question of what was the best ever ODI innings, 90 would point to Richards' 189.

The points secured by Richards are 1.89, 1.65, 2.00, 0.67 and 0.58 totaling to 6.79 points.

The only reason why Kapil Dev's 175* is in second place is the presence of Richards' 189. Otherwise the same 90 would point to Kapil's classic as the best ever. To say that this innings was one of the major reasons for India winning the World Cup may not be hyperbole.

The points secured by Kapil Dev are 1.75, 1.56, 1.72, 0.76 and 0.74 totaling to 6.53 points.

Third is Coventry's monumental 194, albeit on the losing side. The points secured by Coventry are 1.94, 1.48, 1.62, 0.75 and 0.52 totaling to 6.31 points.

In fourth place is a surprise innings. Not even a hundred and not even in a winning cause. However its place is well-deserved mainly because of the way-out scoring rate. How Sri Lanka lost after this Jayasuriya classic is a mystery. The points secured by Jayasuriya are 0.76, 1.05, 1.27, 1.63 and 1.34 totaling to 6.05 points.

I have given the summary figures below. I have not done the %. I leave it for the readers.

TotInns:52235 TotSelInns: 46329 Tot SIs: 7952 100+runs: 1072 50+runs: 5054 <50runs:1826 BPos 1-7: 6967 BPos 8-11: 985 1Inns: 4284 2Inns: 3668 Wins: 4361 Losses: 3416 Ties/NRs: 175

I have also made available the complete list of significant performances for all the 109 qualifying batsmen. Let me warn that this is a huge file (660k). This is a formatted text file and could easily be imported into an Excel sheet.

To view/down-load the list of SIs , please click/right-click here.

To view/down-load the complete Player tables, all three in a single file, please click/right-click here.

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

  • testli5504537 on July 16, 2010, 2:27 GMT

    Sarosh: This might be tangential to the thread but, IMO, SRT has more than recovered the lost ground and deserves to be recognized with greater distinction than he merited back in 2002. A true test of a champion is how he recovers from misfortunes/failures. His % of SI innings since Dec '06 exceeds 50 in both tests and ODI's. This phase also featured, IMO, his best ever ODI performances. As he cuts down on ODI's and focuses more on test cricket, he might produce his best ever test performances in the next 2-3 years. I certainly wish him the best for it!

  • testli5504537 on July 16, 2010, 1:58 GMT


    1. Pl consider publishing an updated all-time Top 100 list when you have time and resources available; let us know how we may help in this process. SIIdx can be used to restrict the sample set to choose from (e.g., consider only inn having SIIdx value > 1.5).

    2. One question that summarizes many sentences on quality of bowling, series/match situation, tail-enders, # runs scored, match result: was Lara's 153* better than his 213? (I award the biscuit to 213 although 153* was more dramatic, thanks in parts to the ineptitude of other WI batsmen & in parts to it being a 4th inn rather than a 2nd inn).

    3. It'd be nice to have 4 Top 40 lists (rather than a Top 100): 1st innings, 2nd innings, 3rd innings, and 4th. Characteristics of a good 1st inn differ from those of a good 4th inn, etc. So, comparisons make more sense this way, IMO. Likewise, in ODI's, two separate Top 50 (or Top 100) lists: one for 1st inn and another for chasing inn.

  • testli5504537 on July 15, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    Alex: Where did that come from? There is no question of attacking Lara. I offered a counterpoint to some comments Ananth earlier made on Lara’s retirement. It would take complete ignorance to claim that Lara was not capable of producing more magic innings. The thing is that the frequency of such innings was reducing even by Laraesque standards. Like Richards before him it is doubtful whether Lara would have changed his style. So the cavalier West Indian batting approach coupled with Lara’s innate genius would undoubtedly have produced some more gems. The question boils down to : Would even the hardened Lara fans have preferred that he stay on for another 3 years and produce some 2 or 3 magical innings a year, while averaging 40? Would it be worth the price? That is the only question really. Some persons would answer in the affirmative, and some not. As regards SRT I still feel that it remains to be seen whether the next few years were worth the damage to his reputation. We will know only when assessing his entire career after he decides to hang up his boots. The tirades he had to endure from not only the experts,statisticians and media but also the fans , including being booed off his homeground in 2006- would have been unthinkable a few years before. Fellow players too revised their opinions about him . In 2003 Mcgrath stated SRT was tops. In 2007 apparently Lara was slightly more dangerous. Whether SRT can recapture the lost ground not only in numbers but reputation is also open to debate. NB: In the Multan Test 818 runs were scored for the loss of a total of 17 wickets for Pakistan. For the West Indies 591 runs( 10 wickets). The Multan pitch for some years now is not a reliable indicator of a batsman’s form, Lara’s masterclass notwithstanding. Especially when considering the 1st innings although there hardly seems to be minimal detioration even on the 5th day.

  • testli5504537 on July 15, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    Ananth, Thanks. Your list undoubtedly took care of the epic innings by bringing them on board.I was wondering about those that didn't make it. Not just Tendulkar's inn.s in losses but also several others such as Lara's inn. in losses inc. the SL/Murali ones. Later lists would include his mid 2000s inn. vs. SA and so on. It just seems patently unfair to a batsman to have an inn. considered not so great due to the competence, or lack of, of his teammates. [[ Abhi The first one was a 6 month on-off effort with inputs from Steven Lynch and many at wisden-online. But it was the first time such an exercise was done and while not necessarily "swiss-cheese" certainly could be improved upon. One day i will re-do that, sponsored or not, incorporating all the inputs provided. 1. Catches info not available. 2. Form in lieu of CTD seems fair. 3. Tail-end quality is again correct. After all vaas is quite different to McGrath. 4. The only thing I say is that 20 for 2 is not the same as 100 for 2, irrespective of the pitch type. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on July 15, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    Ananth - I am not foolish enough to pick up a concrete cricketing argument with you. I only point out that, defending a gettably small target on the 5th day, Waugh had to (i) overly rely on McGrath who bowled 30+ overs, I think, on the last day, and (ii) give bowling to demoralized Warne-McGill (without trying M Waugh etc.). So, while I think 153* is possibly an all-time #2 or #3 innings (I prefer VVS' 281 at #2), the attack wasn't quite as great as it appears.

    On 155*, Reiffel got injured early in the 2nd inn. Ind had 257 off 108 overs in 1st inn, conceded 71 run lead, and were 115/2 off 43 when SRT arrived with the attack (Warne-Kaspro) looking pretty formidable - although, in hindsight, we know better. The 155* off 191 fully turned the match in India's favour. Unfortunately, Cricinfo does not have details on who bowled the overs after the 43rd over and, thereby, give a better perspective.

  • testli5504537 on July 15, 2010, 1:10 GMT

    Sarosh - I don't know why you are targeting Lara. Just look up his score-boards from '06 & '07; better still, watch their videos. The Multan double (and even the first century) was so exquisite that even Pak players (and Indians, incl. Dravid) openly praised Lara to be in a class of his own. With someone like Lara (& Sehwag), it is best to accept a string of low scores, knowing that a few exceptional performances are just round the corner.

  • testli5504537 on July 15, 2010, 0:55 GMT

    Ananth - I feel Aussie attack in SRT's 155* was almost as good as that in Lara's 153*. Reiffel was an almost great (who unfortunately had an injury-plagued career). Warne & Kaspro entered the series in good form; the constant beating they recd from Ind starting this test put Warne out of form for a year (which incl. Lara's magic series) and almost ruined Kaspro's career. In 153*, Waugh had to rely on only McGrath to strike. [[ Alex 54 overs by Robertson, Blewett, Steve Waugh and Mark Waugh ??? Ananth: ]] SIIdx is a useful filter - batting is primarily about not getting out and putting runs on the board. As Chappell pointed out in awarding the 175, a 175 would probably be that much better if SRT/Lara score it because of the additional class that will go in the batting process. So, I think fans should add additional points (or a fraction) to SIIdx to satisfy themselves. As it is, SIIdx did assign 3.5 to SRT's 122 (vs Eng in '96) which was a class apart batting exhibition (but not mentioned very often).

  • testli5504537 on July 14, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    Ananth, The next time you attempt a “best inn. “ list I wonder if you could give consideration to the foll: 1) “Catches dropped are taken as catches held”…since clearly this has got absolutely nothing to do with “batting quality” . 2) Also, when deciding on “pitch quality” musnt the quality of OWN team batsmen be taken into account? If you have a bunch of goofs who can’t bat get out cheaply how in the world does this reflect on the pitch? They would in all probability get out cheaply on a road as well. 3) Instead of CTD figures for bowlers (in my opinion a very misleading stat)...since as we know all players have ups and downs in “form”. So, a “form” figure would be better……say in the previous 5 matches/6 months etc…CTD is much too vague. During say a 10/15 yr career a bowler may bowl very well in a particular narrow time frame and pathetically in another. A “form” figure will be better. 4) Also, when taking into account batting with “tail” etc…the actual “quality” of the tail is vital. We cannot simply assume that all “tails” are identical. 5) Again as rgds “score when batsmen came in”…if you have a couple of incompetents opening the batting – even on a good batting track they may mess up. Etc etc [[ Abhi I did the Wisden-100 list in the early part of my "analysis" career. Since then, during the past 10 years, I have done hundreds of analysis, fine-tuned everything to the nth degree, received fantastic comments from the blog readers and in general I have myself learnt a lot more on Cricket analysis. If I re-do, say a XYZ-100, I will probably do a far more different and more effective job. Just to take one comparison, while I will still give Lara the additional credit for staying throiugh till the end, I would probably give Sachin more credit for taking the innings to 254 for 6, only 14 runs short. And I would give credit for scoring quickly. But in general the Wisden-100 was a very good list. Think of Bradman's 270, Lara's 153*, Gooch's 154, Laxman's 281, Botham's 149, Hill's 188. these are well-deserving of their place in the top-10. Once again, many thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on July 14, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    If someone would kindly explain to me how Mcgrath,Gillespie,Warne can be considered better than Wasim,Waqar bowling superbly and reversing the ball on a wearing pitch and Saqlain with a still mystery doosra – I would be most happy. As it is, It is entirely and completely beyond my comprehension. Can you in your wildest dreams imagine Ambrose surving some 7 overs vs. Wasim and Saqy in such a situation? [[ Abhi First thank you for keeping track of the articles. I thought I had lost one of my best reader/critics. Your comments are extremely valuable and let them come in. I owe an apology to Sarosh (and you). I have been asked most of the questions on the other Sachin Chennal classic (155) that i made the mistake of referring to that attack. That attack incidentally was Kaspro, Reiffel, Robertson, Warne (off colur) and Blewett. You will agree that that attack is no patch on either the Pakistan attack (Sachin's 136) or Australian attack at Bridgeiown (Lara's 153). As far as the tail-ender lasting, both attacks were very good and the Indian tail failed while the Windian tail succeeded. it was unfoirtunate that, in a way, Sachin paid for the incompetency of the Indian tail which had a far more easier task than the Windian tail. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on July 14, 2010, 12:01 GMT

    Ananth - superb innings played by certain players gets more ink than otherwise. Even before the 241, Sobers' 132 & 168 ('61) were lauded that time as the most dazzling batting display seen Aus whereas Kanhai's super batting had recd a bronze in press ink. Sobers' 241 recd universal adulation but Kanhai's 118 did not - and this despite Sobers' view that Kanhai was the best batsman of 60's. Here, Benaud was asked why he thought SRT best since Don (he added "not by much over Lara & there plenty of others around the same mark"). He couldn't explain beyond the poise and cited the 148*. In recalling "great" innings, many people (incl. experts) tend to recall "great" batsman, take pains to recall his exceptional innings and justify it as "great". Hardly fair! This article was a refreshingly different approach that reminded me of gems such as Taylor's 144 and Slater's 123. The sight of Taylor walking out for a toss was an assurance that one team will put on a tactically super show!

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