The numbers behind team performances
In a recent post, the Test performance of all teams across the ages was analysed. Australia have proved to be the most consistent team with an outstanding win-loss record throughout. In this piece however, I decided to take a more detailed look at the batting, bowling and fielding records of all teams over the years which will help better to analyse the performance of teams. This analysis does not take various periods into consideration but instead the records across all years which is a fair indicator of team strength and performance. The period wise analysis provides a more detailed performance evaluation and will be taken up in a later post.
The first table lists the number of batsmen in each team possessing an average greater than 40. I have considered a minimum qualification of 3000 runs. England have played the most Tests and also have the most batsmen averaging over 40 followed closely by Australia. West Indies have fallen been ordinary over the last decade, but had dominated world cricket earlier for almost three decades. The fact that they have 19 batsmen averaging over 40 clearly indicates the quality of batting they possessed in those years. India's batting has been at its best since the mid 1990s with five batsmen in the period averaging greater than 40. South Africa also have an impressive number of batsmen averaging over 40 since their return to international cricket. Andy Flower has an excellent Test record and is the only batsman from Zimbabwe to make the list.
|Team||No of batsmen||Best batsman (terms of average)||Highest average|
|West Indies||19||Everton Weekes||58.61|
|South Africa||9||Jacques Kallis||54.94|
|Sri Lanka||7||Kumar Sangakkara||56.85|
|New Zealand||2||Martin Crowe||45.36|
Dominant teams over the years have produced outstanding bowling attacks. West Indies in their heyday comfortably won in all conditions due to the presence of top class fast bowlers and the combination of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne enabled Australia to rule world cricket in the late 1990s and 2000s. Australia, over the years have produced the finest bowlers consistently and their presence at the top of the table vindicates this. Alan Davidson had a fantastic average of 20.53 and among fast bowlers; McGrath and Dennis Lillee come closest. Among England bowlers, Sydney Barnes averaged a scarcely believable 16.43 picking up 189 wickets in just 27 Tests. But among bowlers who made their debut after 1990, only Darren Gough and Andy Caddick make the list.
West Indies through the 1970s to 1990s had a superb array of fast bowlers, each of them averaging below 30. Malcolm Marshall was the finest of them all, with a haul of 376 wickets at under 21. Pakistan's fast bowling reserves have never been affected over the years and they have continued to churn out quality pace bowlers. Imran Khan was one of the world's best bowlers in the early 1980s while Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis spearheaded the attack through the 1990s. India have had just four bowlers in the list, with Kapil Dev being the only fast bowler. Traditionally batting friendly tracks have undoubtedly been the reason behind the high averages of Indian bowlers. Allan Donald and Richard Hadlee have been the best bowlers for their respective teams. Muttiah Muralitharan holds virtually every record in the bowling department and it is no surprise he figures in the list as Sri Lanka's best ever.
|Team||No of bowlers||Best bowler (terms of average)||Best average|
|West Indies||10||Malcolm Marshall||20.94|
|South Africa||5||Allan Donald||22.25|
|India||4||Bishan Singh Bedi||28.71|
|New Zealand||2||Richard Hadlee||22.29|
|Sri Lanka||2||Muttiah Muralitharan||22.67|
The table below looks at the number of batsmen in each team who have more than ten Test centuries. England have 28 batsmen who have over 10 hundreds, but the highest number of centuries is just 22, scored by Geoff Boycott. Australia are next with 24, but have three batsmen over 30 centuries, with Ricky Ponting leading the way with 39. West Indies are next with Brian Lara on top with 34 centuries including 9 scores over 200. India and Pakistan have 12 players with over 10 centuries and Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ul-Haq top the hundreds tally.
|Team||No of batsmen||Batsman with most 100s||No of 100s|
|England||28||Geoff Boycott, Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey||22|
|West Indies||16||Brian Lara||34|
|South Africa||8||Jacques Kallis||35|
|Sri Lanka||8||Mahela Jayawardene||28|
|New Zealand||3||Martin Crowe||17|
Shane Warne, with 37 five wicket hauls leads the list of 15 Australian bowlers with over ten five fors. Australia are followed by England, Pakistan and India. West Indies have three bowlers on top with 22 five fors which is further indication of how powerful their bowling attack was. Richard Hadlee is by far the finest New Zealand bowler with 36 five wicket hauls while Muttiah Muralitharan with 67 five fors is light years ahead of the next best by a Sri Lankan which is Chaminda Vaas with 12.
|Team||No of bowlers||Bowler with most five fors||Most five fors|
|West Indies||7||Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh||22|
|South Africa||5||Allan Donald||20|
|New Zealand||4||Richard Hadlee||36|
|Sri Lanka||2||Muttiah Muralitharan||67|
The next two tables are related to wicket-keeping and fielding dismissals. England have the most keepers with 100 plus dismissals and the list is led by Alan Knott. Australia have had three of the finest keepers over the last three decades and Adam Gilchrist tops the list with 416 dismissals. Bert Oldfield of Australia, with 52 stumpings still holds the record for the most stumpings. Mark Boucher surpassed Gilchrist and is the world record holder with over 500 dismissals.
|Team||No of wicket keepers||Keeper with most dismissals||No of dismissals|
|West Indies||5||Jeff Dujon||270|
|New Zealand||3||Adam Parore||201|
|South Africa||3||Mark Boucher||502|
|Sri Lanka||2||Kumar Sangakkara||144|
Australia have had a tradition of producing high class fielders, especially in the slip cordon. Bob Simpson, Greg Chappell, Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh have over a 100 catches with Mark Waugh leading the list. Ian Botham and Colin Cowdrey lead the list for England with 120 catches. Rahul Dravid overtook Mark Waugh's tally and is closing in on 200 catches. Stephen Fleming and Mahela Jayawardene top the table for their respective teams.
|Team||No of fielders||Fielder with most catches||Most catches|
|England||5||Ian Botham, Colin Cowdrey||120|
|West Indies||4||Brian Lara||164|
|South Africa||2||Jacques Kallis||155|
|New Zealand||1||Stephen Fleming||171|
|Sri Lanka||1||Mahela Jaywardene||161|
* The highest number of catches by a Pakistani is 94 by Javed Miandad
Another factor that determines a team's dominance is the innings per hundred. Australia lead the way in this regard too with a century every 17 innings and have a fairly excellent away record too with a century every 18.45 innings. Sri Lanka, surprisingly are second with a century every 18 innings but this is mainly due to their extraordinary home record. They have a century every 14.5 innings in home Tests and an even more incredible hundred every nine innings against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
West Indies, between 1960 and 1990, had an outstanding record of a century every 17 innings, but have fallen away since then. India's away performance has consistently improved over the years and they have scored a century every 16.2 innings since 2000 which is far better than their overall away record which stands at 20.7 innings per century. Bangladesh's predicament is Tests can be clearly seen from the fact that the batsman score a hundred only every 66 innings, which is far too high to be able to compete.
|Team||Innings||100s||Inns per 100||HS||Batsman|
|Sri Lanka||3359||184||18.25||374||Mahela Jayawardene|
|West Indies||8200||432||18.98||400*||Brian Lara|
|South Africa||6319||289||21.86||277||Graeme Smith|
|New Zealand||6569||218||30.13||299||Martin Crowe|
Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo