September 29, 2010

The numbers behind team performances

A look at the batting and bowling numbers behind team performances over the years
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Glenn McGrath: a huge factor behind Australia's success
Glenn McGrath: a huge factor behind Australia's success © Getty Images

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.

Number of batsmen averaging over 40 (min qualification 3000 runs)
Team No of batsmen Best batsman (terms of average) Highest average
England 26 Herbert Sutcliffe 60.73
Australia 25 Don Bradman 99.94
West Indies 19 Everton Weekes 58.61
India 12 Sachin Tendulkar 56.02
South Africa 9 Jacques Kallis 54.94
Pakistan 8 Javed Miandad 52.57
Sri Lanka 7 Kumar Sangakkara 56.85
New Zealand 2 Martin Crowe 45.36
Zimbabwe 1 Andy Flower 51.54

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.

Number of bowlers averaging less than 30 (min qualification 150 wickets)
Team No of bowlers Best bowler (terms of average) Best average
Australia 17 Alan Davidson 20.53
England 14 Sydney Barnes 16.43
West Indies 10 Malcolm Marshall 20.94
Pakistan 6 Imran Khan 22.81
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
Zimbabwe 1 Heath Streak 28.14

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.

Number of batsmen with over 10 centuries in Tests
Team No of batsmen Batsman with most 100s No of 100s
England 28 Geoff Boycott, Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey 22
Australia 24 Ricky Ponting 39
West Indies 16 Brian Lara 34
India 12 Sachin Tendulkar 48
Pakistan 12 Inzamam-ul-Haq 25
South Africa 8 Jacques Kallis 35
Sri Lanka 8 Mahela Jayawardene 28
New Zealand 3 Martin Crowe 17
Zimbabwe 1 Andy Flower 12

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.

Number of bowlers with over 10 five fors in Tests
Team No of bowlers Bowler with most five fors Most five fors
Australia 15 Shane Warne 37
England 10 Ian Botham 27
Pakistan 9 Wasim Akram 25
India 8 Anil Kumble 35
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.

Number of wicket keepers with more than 100 dismissals
Team No of wicket keepers Keeper with most dismissals No of dismissals
England 7 Alan Knott 269
Australia 6 Adam Gilchrist 416
West Indies 5 Jeff Dujon 270
Pakistan 5 Wasim Bari 228
India 4 Syed Kirmani 198
New Zealand 3 Adam Parore 201
South Africa 3 Mark Boucher 502
Sri Lanka 2 Kumar Sangakkara 144
Zimbabwe 1 Andy Flower 151

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.

Number of fielders with over 100 catches
Team No of fielders Fielder with most catches Most catches
Australia 10 Mark Waugh 181
England 5 Ian Botham, Colin Cowdrey 120
India 5 Rahul Dravid 195
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.

Innings/hundred for teams
Team Innings 100s Inns per 100 HS Batsman
Australia 12605 734 17.17 380 Matthew Hayden
Sri Lanka 3359 184 18.25 374 Mahela Jayawardene
West Indies 8200 432 18.98 400* Brian Lara
India 7565 396 19.10 319 Virender Sehwag
Pakistan 6045 312 19.37 337 Hanif Mohammad
England 15652 766 20.43 364 Len Hutton
South Africa 6319 289 21.86 277 Graeme Smith
New Zealand 6569 218 30.13 299 Martin Crowe
Zimbabwe 1601 42 38.11 266 Dave Houghton
Bangladesh 1449 22 65.86 158* Mohammed Ashraful

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rachit on October 2, 2010, 20:49 GMT

    my sincere apologies to Mr madhusudhan .... I inherently assumed that It figures means ananth ... wud be more careful from now on :-)

    both the article were excellent ones ...

    btw ... u dint comment on the player vs player part ?

  • Ananth on October 2, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    Rachit I had done the Test Results analysis and Madhusudhan gave the excellent support that needed with his numbers-based analysis. He has done a very thorough job and the two articles need to be studied together. Let us give him the credit. No problems as long as you enjoyed both articles.

  • Simrat on October 2, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    @ Rachit This analysis has been done by Mr. Ramakrishnan, but seeing Mr.Anantha's contributions to this blog, anybody can be excused for this blunder.

  • Ziauddin Ahmed M on October 1, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    @tinker I cannot agree more.

  • Rachit Agarwal on October 1, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    Hi anantha ...

    good analysis as always ... while australia coming on top in most lists signifies their dominance, the same cannot be said about england ... they are on top in many lists only because they have played more matches than most nations ...

    also, on an unrelated note, can you do an analysis of player vs player .. i was browsing thru stats guru and found something amazing .. sachin averages 56 against aus, but in matches that involved mcgrath, it drops to 36.xx .. huge drop this ... similar to his performance against SA, where it drops to 32 (with Donald) against 40+ without them ... while this is by no means bringing him down (the same holds true for ponting, his performance picked up once the ambrose, donalds and walsh of the world retired), such an analysis could perhaps help in judging bowlers vs batsman ... if mcgrath against india without sachin does equally good against india with sachin ... then there may be a case of him being a better player .. or vice versa

  • tinker on October 1, 2010, 3:10 GMT

    Every statistical analysis of test cricket history will end the same way...

    Australia number 1 with daylight second.

    No other team has had as many era's of dominance as the Aussies.

  • TJ on September 30, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    I really like these kind of analysis, it really gives a deeper insight into a team and individual's performances. I however tend to share the opinion of Arjun, cause yes England have been around so long and unlike WI and AUS who have had about five greats playing at the same time for a long period ENG I dont know can boast such a dominace. And Raza I dont know that Imran could be selected over Sir G. Sobers and it would be difficult to pick Sangakarra over Gilchrist. My x1 would include: Sunil Gavaskar Sir Jack Hobbs Don Bradman Viv Richards Brian Lara Sachin Tendulker Garry Sobers Adam Gilchrist Michael Holding Muttiah Muralitharan Malcolm Marshall Dennis Lillee Imran Khan (12th man)

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    Interesting, informative article. Thanks!

  • Mohammad Asad on September 30, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    Not comparable...... Good work / good analysis though ..........

  • Raza1005 on September 30, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    nice.. this would surely help pick all time world xi to name Sangakarra as keeper and Imran Khan as allrounder...

  • rachit on October 2, 2010, 20:49 GMT

    my sincere apologies to Mr madhusudhan .... I inherently assumed that It figures means ananth ... wud be more careful from now on :-)

    both the article were excellent ones ...

    btw ... u dint comment on the player vs player part ?

  • Ananth on October 2, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    Rachit I had done the Test Results analysis and Madhusudhan gave the excellent support that needed with his numbers-based analysis. He has done a very thorough job and the two articles need to be studied together. Let us give him the credit. No problems as long as you enjoyed both articles.

  • Simrat on October 2, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    @ Rachit This analysis has been done by Mr. Ramakrishnan, but seeing Mr.Anantha's contributions to this blog, anybody can be excused for this blunder.

  • Ziauddin Ahmed M on October 1, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    @tinker I cannot agree more.

  • Rachit Agarwal on October 1, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    Hi anantha ...

    good analysis as always ... while australia coming on top in most lists signifies their dominance, the same cannot be said about england ... they are on top in many lists only because they have played more matches than most nations ...

    also, on an unrelated note, can you do an analysis of player vs player .. i was browsing thru stats guru and found something amazing .. sachin averages 56 against aus, but in matches that involved mcgrath, it drops to 36.xx .. huge drop this ... similar to his performance against SA, where it drops to 32 (with Donald) against 40+ without them ... while this is by no means bringing him down (the same holds true for ponting, his performance picked up once the ambrose, donalds and walsh of the world retired), such an analysis could perhaps help in judging bowlers vs batsman ... if mcgrath against india without sachin does equally good against india with sachin ... then there may be a case of him being a better player .. or vice versa

  • tinker on October 1, 2010, 3:10 GMT

    Every statistical analysis of test cricket history will end the same way...

    Australia number 1 with daylight second.

    No other team has had as many era's of dominance as the Aussies.

  • TJ on September 30, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    I really like these kind of analysis, it really gives a deeper insight into a team and individual's performances. I however tend to share the opinion of Arjun, cause yes England have been around so long and unlike WI and AUS who have had about five greats playing at the same time for a long period ENG I dont know can boast such a dominace. And Raza I dont know that Imran could be selected over Sir G. Sobers and it would be difficult to pick Sangakarra over Gilchrist. My x1 would include: Sunil Gavaskar Sir Jack Hobbs Don Bradman Viv Richards Brian Lara Sachin Tendulker Garry Sobers Adam Gilchrist Michael Holding Muttiah Muralitharan Malcolm Marshall Dennis Lillee Imran Khan (12th man)

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    Interesting, informative article. Thanks!

  • Mohammad Asad on September 30, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    Not comparable...... Good work / good analysis though ..........

  • Raza1005 on September 30, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    nice.. this would surely help pick all time world xi to name Sangakarra as keeper and Imran Khan as allrounder...

  • jay on September 30, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    I agree with 'thisisfun'. These are not comparable, but surely very good analysis.

  • waspsting on September 30, 2010, 3:03 GMT

    I believe Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond share the record for most centuries for England with Geoff Boycott.

  • Sanchez on September 29, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    I like these articles because sometimes things just pop out at you. Like New Zealand's woeful batting. Only 2 batsman averaged over 40? For a team that has been around so long, that is surprising.

  • thisisfun on September 29, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    If you normalize these numbers by number of tests played by each country, you will get more sensible figures like the table with Innings/hundred for teams. Otherwise, these numbers are not really comparable.

  • criccrazy on September 29, 2010, 18:22 GMT

    Ya I think your right Arjun. But in a way, the numbers when considered with the context, as in case of Australia and West Indies is a valid indicator. Also if you look at SA and SL, they have been forces to reckon with the last decade or so which is seen in the numbers. Pakistan's attacking bowling is also reflected. The point is right though that when two or three of them get together, the team becomes a champion one..

  • Ali on September 29, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    Who's on first?

    Number of fielders with over 100 catches? Where's Pakistan? Stupid me, what is fielding?

  • Arjun Nagarajan on September 29, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    I do not agree to the fact that these numbers reflect a teams performance/domination. England have been playing for 120 years, and has produced 26 batsmen averaging over 40. What matters is that how many of them played together. The team will be a force if it has 5 batsmen averaging above 40 playing together and not a lone batsman averagin 40 in a decade. These numbers just show that a certain country has produced a certain number of good batsmen over the years. But the flaw is that they need not have played a single match between them.

    The reason why Australian team has dominated is not because they have produced 17 bowlers who averaged less than 30, but because 2/3 bowlers who averaged less than 30 played together in the matches they dominated.

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  • Arjun Nagarajan on September 29, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    I do not agree to the fact that these numbers reflect a teams performance/domination. England have been playing for 120 years, and has produced 26 batsmen averaging over 40. What matters is that how many of them played together. The team will be a force if it has 5 batsmen averaging above 40 playing together and not a lone batsman averagin 40 in a decade. These numbers just show that a certain country has produced a certain number of good batsmen over the years. But the flaw is that they need not have played a single match between them.

    The reason why Australian team has dominated is not because they have produced 17 bowlers who averaged less than 30, but because 2/3 bowlers who averaged less than 30 played together in the matches they dominated.

  • Ali on September 29, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    Who's on first?

    Number of fielders with over 100 catches? Where's Pakistan? Stupid me, what is fielding?

  • criccrazy on September 29, 2010, 18:22 GMT

    Ya I think your right Arjun. But in a way, the numbers when considered with the context, as in case of Australia and West Indies is a valid indicator. Also if you look at SA and SL, they have been forces to reckon with the last decade or so which is seen in the numbers. Pakistan's attacking bowling is also reflected. The point is right though that when two or three of them get together, the team becomes a champion one..

  • thisisfun on September 29, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    If you normalize these numbers by number of tests played by each country, you will get more sensible figures like the table with Innings/hundred for teams. Otherwise, these numbers are not really comparable.

  • Sanchez on September 29, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    I like these articles because sometimes things just pop out at you. Like New Zealand's woeful batting. Only 2 batsman averaged over 40? For a team that has been around so long, that is surprising.

  • waspsting on September 30, 2010, 3:03 GMT

    I believe Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond share the record for most centuries for England with Geoff Boycott.

  • jay on September 30, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    I agree with 'thisisfun'. These are not comparable, but surely very good analysis.

  • Raza1005 on September 30, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    nice.. this would surely help pick all time world xi to name Sangakarra as keeper and Imran Khan as allrounder...

  • Mohammad Asad on September 30, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    Not comparable...... Good work / good analysis though ..........

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    Interesting, informative article. Thanks!