October 22, 2010

# Measuring batting averages effectively

A stats analysis to determine effective batting averages in the 2000s by measuring bowling quality faced
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The quality of a batsman is usually measured against the bowling and conditions in which he performed. Very few matches in the 2000s have provided the opportunity to witness high quality knocks. The bowling standard has drastically fallen away in the second half of the decade and the pitches have been lifeless. In contrast, the 1990s still had fantastic fast bowlers in each team and run scoring was not the easiest. Zimbabwe's problems and Bangladesh's entry have meant there are ample opportunities for most batsmen to boost their averages.

The average has always been an excellent measure of consistency and quality, but has a flip side because it does not quite consider the difference between a half century made on a minefield (read Sunil Gavaskar's 96) and a century made on a featherbed (most matches at the SSC). A batting average of 50 which was earlier considered elite has now become commonplace this decade due to poor bowling attacks and placid tracks. The 2000s remains the decade with the highest batting average after the 1940s, which was a decade with very few matches. In this piece, I try to come up with a method to measure the true average of batsmen by considering the bowling strength of the opposition and the conditions encountered in the match.

The parameters used for the analysis are quite basic. 1. The bowling average for each opponent (in matches involving the player) is taken into consideration for home and away games. 2. The match average for all the matches is used to measure the difficulty level encountered. In matches involving Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, I do not consider the batting average of the minnows as the figure can skew the numbers badly. In these cases, the measure is purely the batting average of the other team.

The base value to measure the quality of an innings is calculated as the geometric mean (square root of the product) of the batting average (30.61) and bowling average (32.31) since Jan 1 1940. The quality index value obtained is 31.44. For each batsman, the similar values are calculated and measured with respect to the base value to obtain the accurate or effective average. For example if the batting and bowling average are 30 and 32 respectively , then the geometric mean is 30.98 and the quality factor is obtained by dividing the base value by the mean which yields 1.0147.

The table below lists the top run-getters in the 2000s (minimum qualification of 6000 runs). The table provides the details of runs aggregated home and away against each opponent (neutral venues also considered for Pakistan). Read the values as runs (innings played).

Ricky Ponting has had a wonderful decade as can be seen from his position at the top of the tree. After his horror run in India in 2000-01, he was unstoppable for the next six years, but has shown signs of decline over the last two years. Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid have been the rocks of the middle order for their respective teams. Dravid though has been slightly on the wane over the last three years which has seen his average drop from almost 59 to around 54. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have contributed immensely to Sri Lanka's rise as a competitive Test team, especially at home. Sachin Tendulkar's recent resurgence has stunned everybody and the early years of the 2000s when his injuries led to some poor performances have now been forgotten completely.

VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag have eased much of the burden on Tendulkar in this decade with some exceptional performances. Shivanrine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara were the best batsmen for the West Indies in an otherwise forgettable decade. Lara retired on a high scoring 21 centuries in the 2000s. Mohammad Yousuf had a brilliant first half of the decade including a record breaking 2006 when he went past Viv Richards' aggregate runs in a calendar year.

** The tables are in two parts for sake of clarity ***Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden played one Test against ICC W XI scoring 54 and 188 runs in two innings respectively. The calculations for these are done separately and included.

 Batsman Aus(h) Aus(a/n) Eng(h) Eng(a/n) Ind(h) Ind(a/n) NZ(h) NZ(a/n) Pak(h) Pak(a/n) Ricky Ponting - - 993(16) 1082(25) 1115(16) 530(18) 496(11) 362(8) 781(12) 440(8) Jacques Kallis* 700(17) 708(17) 1118(19) 292(13) 327(8) 760(15) 826(13) 354(6) 408(5) 521(8) Rahul Dravid* 737(24) 972(24) 574(14) 915(15) - - 313(4) 766(14) 524(11) 550(9) Mahela Jayawardene 185(6) 274(4) 1070(14) 502(12) 863(14) 628(10) 434(7) 194(7) 430(15) 630(15) Sachin Tendulkar 1173(22) 925(17) 546(13) 629(12) - - 71(4) 444(9) 394(8) 268(7) Matthew Hayden - - 909(17) 552(18) 861(13) 1027(22) 461(11) 197(7) 128(6) 246(4) Kumar Sangakkara 112(6) 391(6) 671(14) 336(12) 892(14) 365(10) 317(7) 334(7) 619(10) 695(9) Graeme Smith* 260(11) 493(14) 696(17) 1083(17) 227(6) 431(12) 220(8) 290(6) 347(9) 358(8) Virender Sehwag* 763(20) 833(14) 290(12) 237(6) - - 177(4) 180(9) 544(6) 732(8) VVS Laxman 1082(22) 1034(17) 180(9) 404(11) - - 279(4) 322(9) 375(10) 262(9) Shivnarine Chanderpaul 699(12) 260(12) 400(12) 1061(20) 863(15) 260(5) 103(3) 276(8) 464(9) 306(9) Mohammad Yousuf - 367(12) 684(9) 815(15) 741(10) 366(11) 29(1) 718(14) - - Brian Lara* 533(4) 707(18) 500(7) 503(17) 413(15) - 149(3) 90(5) 331(4) 448(5) Chris Gayle 186(6) 449(10) 474(13) 721(21) 481(16) 160(5) 280(3) 540(8) 115(5) 324(9)

 Batsman SA(h) SA(a/n) SL(h) SL(a/n) WI(h) WI(a/n) Bang(h) Bang(a/n) Zim(h) Zim(a/n) Ricky Ponting 915(17) 867(17) 207(5) 198(6) 707(19) 846(11) 69(2) 191(3) 259(3) - Jacques Kallis - - 257(7) 318(10 929(11) 942(22) 254(4) 63(3) 112(2) 388(3) Rahul Dravid 453(12) 504(16) 542(7) 662(21) 148(5) 1260(22) - 560(10) 504(6) 475(7) Mahela Jayawardene 1158(12) 314(10) - - 335(8) 294(7) 556(7) 304(7) 167(4) 137(2) Sachin Tendulkar 414(11) 392(10) 386(9) 485(11) 306(5) 331(8) - 820(9) 616(6) 199(4) Matthew Hayden 862(18) 540(11) 381(7) 283(6) 681(14) 379(8) 61(2) 107(3) 501(3) - Kumar Sangakkara 790(12) 392(10) - - 452(8) 238(7) 592(7) 284(7) 255(4) 281(2) Graeme Smith - - 88(3) 179(4) 717(12) 876(13) 408(4) 335(5) 162(2) - Virender Sehwag 924(11) 238(9) 547(7) 692(11) 286(5) 357(7) - 176(6) 74(1) 102(3) VVS Laxman 333(9) 330(9) 370(9) 494(11) 271(4) 731(15) - 117(4) 31(2) 249(6) Shivnarine Chanderpaul 820(15) 533(11) 130(4) 154(4) - - 108(2) 39(3) 73(3) 186(6) Mohamamad Yousuf 96(3) 255(8) 285(12) 338(11) 665(5) 549(9) 227(4) 276(2) - 222(3) Brian Lara 793(15) 531(8) 299(3) 688(6) - - 173(2) - - 222(4) Chris Gayle 814(20) 545(10) 164(7) 54(6) - - 221(3) 126(3) 46(3) 307(7)

The fact that Ponting played in a top class team meant that victories were assured more often than not and also meant he faced weaker attacks for much of the 2000s. He struggled in the subcontinent, but was very successful at home and in South Africa. The Pakistani attacks were far less potent away in the 2000s after the retirement of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. All this pointed to Ponting facing comparatively weaker attacks in fairly easy conditions which is quite clearly a blot on an otherwise superb decade. Kallis has faced fairly consistent attacks throughout. His run glut against the minnows does pull his average down. Rahul Dravid's best performances usually came when the chips were down and he has been very prolific in almost all away conditions. A considerable proportion of his runs though, have been made against the weakened West Indies and the minnows. Jayawardene and Sangakkara have scored tons of tuns against Bangladesh home and away boosting their averages. They have hardly played and succeeded in Australia and South Africa though Sangakkara's 192 at Hobart was one of the best innings of the decade. Sri Lanka's awesome home record and ordinary away record is very evident from the less impressive showing of these two batsmen in away matches. Matthew Hayden resurrected his career on the 2000-01 tour of India and proceeded to amass 30 centuries at a rate only next to Bradman. He, like Ponting, played in a top team and faced ordinary attacks throughout. His away performance was definitely under par when compared to his home batting.

Tendulkar's prolific recent run has seen him score at a Bradmanesque average and he recently registered his sixth double century. His records in the 2000s against Australia has been excellent but the lack of quality in the attack in recent years does pull down his performance a little. He has also aggregated plenty against the minnows home and away in the past decade. Sehwag and Laxman also average more than 50 in the 2000s. Sehwag has two triple hundreds and four double tons. The Chennai and Lahore efforts though came on very flat tracks and the innings against Sri Lanka in Mumbai was against a highly weakened attack. Laxman usually has reserved his best against the top teams and hardly ever makes massive scores against the lesser opponents which have ensured that his contributions are always valued highly.

Brian Lara played in a team accustomed to losing in the 2000s. Right from the remarkable 2001 tour of Sri Lanka where he scored 688 runs in 3 Tests only to lose 3-0, he has made runs home and away against all opponents. His average against Australia is 47 in matches involving McGrath. His otherwise ordinary showing against England is boosted by the unbeaten 400 in Antigua. His consistency was exceptional in the last 3-4 years as he scored hundreds against Pakistan and South Africa home and away. Chanderpaul's case is similar as he has been part of a very weak outfit for much of this decade and has done brilliantly in losing causes.

 Batsman Aus(h) Aus(a/n) Eng(h) Eng(a/n) Ind(h) Ind(a/n) NZ(h) NZ(a/n) Pak(h) Pak(a/n) Ricky Ponting - - 0.7602 0.8975 0.7362 0.9803 0.7495 0.6821 0.8298 1.2303 Jacques Kallis 1.0493 0.9353 0.9367 0.9295 0.9824 0.8805 0.9599 0.7748 0.9757 0.8589 Rahul Dravid* 0.9357 0.8458 0.9295 0.8048 - - 0.5993 0.9980 0.7167 0.6545 Mahela Jayawardene 1.0799 1.0310 0.9034 0.9935 0.7756 0.8823 0.7634 1.1236 1.0553 0.8867 Sachin Tendulkar 0.9183 0.8893 0.8808 0.8072 - - 0.7478 0.8450 0.8148 0.6840 Matthew Hayden - - 0.7555 0.9176 0.7055 0.9833 0.7476 0.7841 0.7949 1.1382 Kumar Sangakkara 1.0799 1.0465 0.9034 0.99135 0.7756 0.8823 0.7645 1.1236 1.0657 0.7290 Graeme Smith* 1.0679 0.9171 0.9308 0.8195 1.1856 0.8141 0.9921 0.7748 0.9756 0.8589 Virender Sehwag* 0.9356 0.8076 0.9390 0.7216 - - 0.5994 0.9980 0.7741 0.6545 VVS Laxman 0.9584 0.8530 0.8513 0.7994 - - 0.5994 0.9980 0.7899 0.6545 Shivnarine Chanderpaul 0.9517 1.1543 0.9722 1.0476 0.9237 1.0987 0.9347 1.0011 1.0465 1.0459 Mohammad Yousuf - 1.1473 0.8558 0.9556 0.6944 0.7859 0.7107 0.9887 - - Brian Lara* 1.0891 1.2303 1.0850 1.2345 0.9250 1.0804 1.1582 1.0622 0.9080 Chris Gayle 0.8670 0.9263 0.8804 1.0749 0.9250 1.1637 1.0804 1.0527 1.1037 0.9351

 Batsman SA(h) SA(a/n) SL(h) SL(a/n) WI(h) WI(a/n) Bang(h) Bang(a/n) Zim(h) Zim(a/n) Ricky Ponting 0.8006 0.9059 0.5873 0.9594 0.8462 0.7027 0.3539 0.5627 0.4184 - Jacques Kallis - - 0.9848 1.1188 0.6881 0.8749 0.4910 0.5941 0.3962 0.3210 Rahul Dravid 1.0164 1.1325 0.6701 0.9353 0.8365 0.9240 - 0.6127 0.4725 0.8009 Mahela Jayawardene 0.8508 1.4016 - - 0.8985 0.9608 0.4264 0.7099 0.5016 0.3336 Sachin Tendulkar 0.9096 1.1583 0.7320 0.7995 0.9168 0.9678 - 0.6139 0.4663 1.1030 Matthew Hayden 0.8052 0.8969 0.7573 0.9623 0.8646 0.6560 0.3533 0.5627 0.4184 - Kumar Sangakkara 0.8508 1.4016 - - 0.8985 0.9608 0.4273 0.7099 0.5016 0.3336 Graeme Smith - - 1.0559 1.0277 0.6880 0.6903 0.4772 0.6267 0.3970 Virender Sehwag 0.8245 1.1322 0.6957 0.8791 0.8366 0.8608 - 0.6407 0.9945 0.6754 VVS Laxman 0.9350 1.0955 0.7290 0.8358 0.8366 0.9271 - 0.6930 0.3630 0.8692 Shivnarine Chanderpaul 0.9740 1.0715 0.9560 1.6700 - - 0.4079 0.7548 1.3315 0.8383 Mohammad Yousuf 0.8219 1.2829 1.0985 1.0370 0.7561 1.0519 0.5406 0.5872 - 0.8901 Brian Lara 1.0368 0.8171 0.8839 1.0385 - - 0.4079 - - 1.1129 Chris Gayle 1.0411 0.9132 0.9259 1.0385 - - 0.4079 0.7548 1.3315 0.8383

** The quality value for Ponting and Hayden in the ICC World XI match is 1.2964.

The table below lists the effective averages of the top batsmen in the 2000s. Brian Lara is on top in terms of quality of innings played and Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden are at the bottom. This is not a method that questions the quality of a player, but merely an alternative to measure the average effectively.

 Batsman Actual runs Actual average Effective runs Effective average Quality deviation Brian Lara 6380 54.06 6572.1 55.69 1.0301 Shivnarine Chanderpaul 6735 53.03 6805.0 53.58 1.0103 Rahul Dravid 8904 53.63 8733.0 52.6 0.9807 Mohammad Yousuf 6633 56.21 5950.5 51.29 0.9124 Jacques Kallis 9277 59.08 8022.3 51.09 0.8647 Kumar Sangakkara 8016 56.85 6800.9 48.23 0.9112 Mahela Jayawardene 8475 55.39 7324.3 47.87 0.8642 Sachin Tendulkar 8399 57.13 6933.4 47.16 0.8295 Ricky Ponting 10158 57.38 8207.3 46.36 0.8079 VVS Laxman 6864 52.00 5920.4 44.85 0.8625 Virender Sehwag 7152 53.37 5838.1 43.56 0.8161 Matthew Hayden 8364 52.93 6803.6 43.06 0.7537 Graeme Smith 7170 50.49 5818.2 40.97 0.8114 Chris Gayle 6007 40.31 5758.6 38.64 0.9585

A similar approach yields an average of 85.23 for Bradman (three weak teams played considered minnows) and 51.45 for Gavaskar. The approach can be further modified to calculate period wise averages to understand the batting quality better. Gavaskar for example averages almost 83 with 10 centuries against the West Indies prior to 1980 when the bowling attack was not at its best, but only 41 after 1980 with just three hundreds in dull draws, in between falling seven times to Malcolm Marshall before crossing 20.

A more detailed approach analysing period wise performance and in matches involving particular bowlers will be taken up later.

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

• Waspsting on November 6, 2010, 18:35 GMT

@Gerry the Merry

Regarding Gavaskar's figures against West Indies - its one of the most mis-represented stats in cricket. Some say - "he scored 13 centuries against those great teams - shows his class" others say - "when they had their best bowling attacks, he didn't do to well - overrated".

Heres the truth about it. Most of his 13 100s weren't against the "fearsome foursome" attacks (only 3 were i think - and those were on flattish tracks). HOWEVER, scoring all those hundreds even against weaker attacks was A WONDERFUL feat. why didn't everyone do it, if it was so easy? It did show his class, just not as much as if he'd done it all against the pace attacks (which i doubt anyone could have) Second, averaging 41 against West Indies pace attacks is also a credible performance, especially for an opener. How many others managed it? 41 isn't 50 - but obviously, a career total of 50 will be divided into bigger scores against weaker attacks and smaller against strong attacks. 41 is solid

• KalluMaMa on November 3, 2010, 8:52 GMT

Nice analysis. I think you should check the effective averages of these batsmen when the series was alive(i.e no dead rubbers included). The results would be interesting to say the least! :)

• Alex on November 3, 2010, 6:58 GMT

@Gerry, this is an excellent comment. However, SMG was in super form entering the '82 series in WI and '83 series in India but simply got dismantled by the WI. The average of 41 in 11 tests (& 20 innings) is courtesy 4 outstanding scores: 147*, 124, 90, and 236*. SMG managed just 148 in the other 16 innings at ave=9.25!

SMG's slump over '80-'85 is more due to the quality of attacks during this period: (i) Hadlee & Lillee down under in '80-'81, (ii) Willis & Botham in Eng '82. His lowest point was vs a sub-par Eng in '84. After that, he did well primarily because the attacks faced by him since then (except Pak '86) were not that great. SMG's legacy is the matchless technique, penchant for big scores (vs anyone ... once he got in), and the professionalism he instilled in Indian cricket. However, his selection in the second XI of Cricinfo is flattering at best!

• Gerry the merry on October 31, 2010, 4:17 GMT

On Gavaskar's failure against WI, it is made to seem as if he failed against WI with a 41 average when their attack was at its most potent. However, one must place the average in the context of his career. In his first 50 matches, ending in 1979 at the Oval, he averaged 57, with 20 centuries. In the next 75 matches, he averaged 43, with 14 centuries. This contrast is hardly brought about because of WI since his average against them in this period is not significantly below his overall stats for this period, and WI were hardly the life threatening force they have been in the period 1977 to 1981 when India did not play them at all. The plain fact is that Gavaskar went through a prolonged 5 year slump from 1980 to 1985, and was roused out of this slump in 1-2 series against Pak in Pak and WI in India. After 1985 he gave captaincy up and his stats started improving. Generally, since his career is associated with WI, any failure is also attributed in a shallow manner to WI. Hardly so.

• Satyajit on October 30, 2010, 4:50 GMT

Sorry to say but the analysis looks flawed. The team strength for the period gets too much importance. Ponting who was supposed to have one of the best decades is not not only below Lara but 7 points behind Chanderpaul! VVS and Sehwag who do so well in the decade languish pretty low as their contribution was more consistent towards second half when India was considered stronger.Hayden and Smith cut a very sorry figure as well. This analysis says that if you perform well as unit to see your country doing well then your numbers will be pulled down :-) I don't know where would Viv Richards stand in the eightees as he played for the best team. Can we get Viv's number for eightees and same figures for Sachin and Lara in ninetees going by your analysis?

• Alex on October 28, 2010, 15:57 GMT

@Boll: I simply responded to Mark James in the manner he wrote that comment. India has won >40% tests vs Eng/SA/Aus over 2008-10, and SRT/VVS/Sehwag/Gambhir have struck gold over this period. These guys are *really* batting as well as their numbers indicate.

It is true that Aussies' backyard record is way better than India's backyard record over this decade (in fact, over most decades). They were quite clearly the better team and actually should have gone at least 1-1 even in the last series vs Ind (Ojha was clearly out --- lbw b Johnson --- in the 2nd innings). Much to his credit, Ponting handled the press this time around as a great leader should.

• Boll on October 27, 2010, 11:28 GMT

@Alex, it was hardly a case of SAf, Eng and Aus having their butts kicked in India throughout the decade. By my reckoning India played 26 home tests against these 3 teams in the 2000s for 10 wins, 7 losses and 9 draws - a good but hardly dominant home performance.

Against Eng/SAf/Ind in the 2000s at home, Australia in comparison played 28 tests for 19 wins, 5 losses and 4 draws.

For all the talk about India being the hardest place to win in, here are the overall home figures for the 2000s.

Australia played 59 tests, won 45, lost 5, drew 9 India played 47 tests, won 21, lost 8, drew 18

Australia played 21 series, won 18, lost 1, drew 2 India played 17 series, won 11, lost 2, drew 4

• Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 23:29 GMT

I'd be curious to see how Viv Richards figures come out under this formula - given the strenght of his teams.

Couple of points - I wouldn't call the West Indies side Bradman faced as "minnows", at least not as bowlers. Hammond had a poor record against them - they had decent pace bowlers. South Africa and India, he simply massacared by contrast.

Article makes very interesting reading, though I don't entirely follow what you've done with the stats. Some of it, I confess, doesn't "feel" quite right - as though players are punished if they have good batting partners and come from a good bowling side. Not all runs are worth the same, as you mention to start with, but (for example), I think Ponting's 5 centuries in 6 tests against South Africa a PHENOMENAL feat, better than Dravid's run on the subcontinent pitches (which were flat at the time).

And how to measure performances in difficult conditions if multiple players perform? - e.g Hobbs and Sutcliff on wet wicket?

food for thought

• Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 23:15 GMT

Very interesting. Just some intuitive thoughts on the matter.

Every batsman is bound to play about half his matches in home country, which biases averages. A Kiwi like Martin Crowe playing on all those green wickets will have a hard time averaging 50, while Mohammed Yousuf, playing on all those flat tracks, will have a much easier time. Can't blame the batsmen. naturally, they base their skills on the conditions they encounter most often. Sehwag can be a killer on subcontinent, but while no pushover in England, Australia, South Africa etc. - he's not consistent enough to be great. It seems to me that Ponting and Hayden are being "punished" in these stats for playing in strong teams. I wouldn't call Australian conditions "easy", its just "different". Lara and Chanderpaul are being "boosted" for the opposite reason (keep in mind, West Indies pitches have been very flat in 2000s, its just that their batsmen have been poor). (continued)

• Karthik on October 25, 2010, 10:55 GMT

Interesting to see adjusted averages of the great batsmen. I would see the averages of all who have 50+ average over their career (full or to-date) to see where each of them stand. For the sake of purists, I would like to see a considerable difference in adjusted averages for people like Sachin/ Lara and Samaraweera, et al!

• Waspsting on November 6, 2010, 18:35 GMT

@Gerry the Merry

Regarding Gavaskar's figures against West Indies - its one of the most mis-represented stats in cricket. Some say - "he scored 13 centuries against those great teams - shows his class" others say - "when they had their best bowling attacks, he didn't do to well - overrated".

Heres the truth about it. Most of his 13 100s weren't against the "fearsome foursome" attacks (only 3 were i think - and those were on flattish tracks). HOWEVER, scoring all those hundreds even against weaker attacks was A WONDERFUL feat. why didn't everyone do it, if it was so easy? It did show his class, just not as much as if he'd done it all against the pace attacks (which i doubt anyone could have) Second, averaging 41 against West Indies pace attacks is also a credible performance, especially for an opener. How many others managed it? 41 isn't 50 - but obviously, a career total of 50 will be divided into bigger scores against weaker attacks and smaller against strong attacks. 41 is solid

• KalluMaMa on November 3, 2010, 8:52 GMT

Nice analysis. I think you should check the effective averages of these batsmen when the series was alive(i.e no dead rubbers included). The results would be interesting to say the least! :)

• Alex on November 3, 2010, 6:58 GMT

@Gerry, this is an excellent comment. However, SMG was in super form entering the '82 series in WI and '83 series in India but simply got dismantled by the WI. The average of 41 in 11 tests (& 20 innings) is courtesy 4 outstanding scores: 147*, 124, 90, and 236*. SMG managed just 148 in the other 16 innings at ave=9.25!

SMG's slump over '80-'85 is more due to the quality of attacks during this period: (i) Hadlee & Lillee down under in '80-'81, (ii) Willis & Botham in Eng '82. His lowest point was vs a sub-par Eng in '84. After that, he did well primarily because the attacks faced by him since then (except Pak '86) were not that great. SMG's legacy is the matchless technique, penchant for big scores (vs anyone ... once he got in), and the professionalism he instilled in Indian cricket. However, his selection in the second XI of Cricinfo is flattering at best!

• Gerry the merry on October 31, 2010, 4:17 GMT

On Gavaskar's failure against WI, it is made to seem as if he failed against WI with a 41 average when their attack was at its most potent. However, one must place the average in the context of his career. In his first 50 matches, ending in 1979 at the Oval, he averaged 57, with 20 centuries. In the next 75 matches, he averaged 43, with 14 centuries. This contrast is hardly brought about because of WI since his average against them in this period is not significantly below his overall stats for this period, and WI were hardly the life threatening force they have been in the period 1977 to 1981 when India did not play them at all. The plain fact is that Gavaskar went through a prolonged 5 year slump from 1980 to 1985, and was roused out of this slump in 1-2 series against Pak in Pak and WI in India. After 1985 he gave captaincy up and his stats started improving. Generally, since his career is associated with WI, any failure is also attributed in a shallow manner to WI. Hardly so.

• Satyajit on October 30, 2010, 4:50 GMT

Sorry to say but the analysis looks flawed. The team strength for the period gets too much importance. Ponting who was supposed to have one of the best decades is not not only below Lara but 7 points behind Chanderpaul! VVS and Sehwag who do so well in the decade languish pretty low as their contribution was more consistent towards second half when India was considered stronger.Hayden and Smith cut a very sorry figure as well. This analysis says that if you perform well as unit to see your country doing well then your numbers will be pulled down :-) I don't know where would Viv Richards stand in the eightees as he played for the best team. Can we get Viv's number for eightees and same figures for Sachin and Lara in ninetees going by your analysis?

• Alex on October 28, 2010, 15:57 GMT

@Boll: I simply responded to Mark James in the manner he wrote that comment. India has won >40% tests vs Eng/SA/Aus over 2008-10, and SRT/VVS/Sehwag/Gambhir have struck gold over this period. These guys are *really* batting as well as their numbers indicate.

It is true that Aussies' backyard record is way better than India's backyard record over this decade (in fact, over most decades). They were quite clearly the better team and actually should have gone at least 1-1 even in the last series vs Ind (Ojha was clearly out --- lbw b Johnson --- in the 2nd innings). Much to his credit, Ponting handled the press this time around as a great leader should.

• Boll on October 27, 2010, 11:28 GMT

@Alex, it was hardly a case of SAf, Eng and Aus having their butts kicked in India throughout the decade. By my reckoning India played 26 home tests against these 3 teams in the 2000s for 10 wins, 7 losses and 9 draws - a good but hardly dominant home performance.

Against Eng/SAf/Ind in the 2000s at home, Australia in comparison played 28 tests for 19 wins, 5 losses and 4 draws.

For all the talk about India being the hardest place to win in, here are the overall home figures for the 2000s.

Australia played 59 tests, won 45, lost 5, drew 9 India played 47 tests, won 21, lost 8, drew 18

Australia played 21 series, won 18, lost 1, drew 2 India played 17 series, won 11, lost 2, drew 4

• Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 23:29 GMT

I'd be curious to see how Viv Richards figures come out under this formula - given the strenght of his teams.

Couple of points - I wouldn't call the West Indies side Bradman faced as "minnows", at least not as bowlers. Hammond had a poor record against them - they had decent pace bowlers. South Africa and India, he simply massacared by contrast.

Article makes very interesting reading, though I don't entirely follow what you've done with the stats. Some of it, I confess, doesn't "feel" quite right - as though players are punished if they have good batting partners and come from a good bowling side. Not all runs are worth the same, as you mention to start with, but (for example), I think Ponting's 5 centuries in 6 tests against South Africa a PHENOMENAL feat, better than Dravid's run on the subcontinent pitches (which were flat at the time).

And how to measure performances in difficult conditions if multiple players perform? - e.g Hobbs and Sutcliff on wet wicket?

food for thought

• Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 23:15 GMT

Very interesting. Just some intuitive thoughts on the matter.

Every batsman is bound to play about half his matches in home country, which biases averages. A Kiwi like Martin Crowe playing on all those green wickets will have a hard time averaging 50, while Mohammed Yousuf, playing on all those flat tracks, will have a much easier time. Can't blame the batsmen. naturally, they base their skills on the conditions they encounter most often. Sehwag can be a killer on subcontinent, but while no pushover in England, Australia, South Africa etc. - he's not consistent enough to be great. It seems to me that Ponting and Hayden are being "punished" in these stats for playing in strong teams. I wouldn't call Australian conditions "easy", its just "different". Lara and Chanderpaul are being "boosted" for the opposite reason (keep in mind, West Indies pitches have been very flat in 2000s, its just that their batsmen have been poor). (continued)

• Karthik on October 25, 2010, 10:55 GMT

Interesting to see adjusted averages of the great batsmen. I would see the averages of all who have 50+ average over their career (full or to-date) to see where each of them stand. For the sake of purists, I would like to see a considerable difference in adjusted averages for people like Sachin/ Lara and Samaraweera, et al!

• Eoin on October 25, 2010, 10:15 GMT

Hmm... this is really just an attempt to quantify Context. To do so, some judgment calls have been made, but for my money, it's not on to disregard Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, for example. Why not adjust for the recent terrible Windies teams? Or Pakistan teams hamstrung by internal politics? Or Packer-depleted Aussies, pick'n'mix English sides from the 90s, NZ teams which just didn't turn up, dead rubbers, freak pitches, dodgy umpires, and so on? Are you suggesting that Inzamam's 138* against Bangladesh is an irrelevance?

There are plenty of "hard" numbers to use, without judgement calls. As a statistician, the job is to identify a sensible methodology with minimal subjective elemnents. Why not include bowling averages in the batsman's figures somehow? Nobody can dispute that a century against the WI quartet should be highly prized, and their career bowling averages and strike rates are equally undeniable. That would be a career long-exercise though, for each & every innings!

• Kenneth on October 25, 2010, 4:35 GMT

I think Sehwag's strike rate should count for something too. His ability to turn matches into winnable situations makes his runs more valuable.

• Abhijatri Das on October 25, 2010, 3:09 GMT

Can you explain, how are you calculating those averages? To obtain the base value and the quality factor you are using the simple averages, which has been termed as "ineffective" by yourself. In that case your method is using the the simple average method in away and that contradicts your concept that you tried to apply. As a student of statistics I am afraid to say, the robustness of your method is too poor, making things unnecessarily complicated. This contradiction is the reason why mahela is in the top of the list.

• Ash Dass on October 25, 2010, 1:41 GMT

Why can't we keep things simple ? There will never be a perfect yardstick for measuring averages effectively.The one thing that can not be disputed is that all the above mentioned batsmen are class acts and it has been a joy to watch them wield their willow

• Arun P on October 24, 2010, 12:16 GMT

It is interesting to note that the only batsman who has crossed 1000 runs against an opponent both in home and away test matches is none other than VVS Laxman(1082 in 22 home test matches and 1034 in 17 tests in australia against australia).With slight modifications in the parameters used,this might put him at the top of the list.

• CRICKETARIAN on October 24, 2010, 10:43 GMT

Just for a while,forget about the figures which are easily noticeable,what remains out of the figure is getting those runs under pressure.Laxman's epic 281,sachin's classy 241 in sydney,ponting's brilliant run vs india recently,though in a losing cause,lara's colossal scores in sri lanka in early 2000 were all undder pressure situation worth more than hayden's 380 vs zimbabwe.imagine the weight of expectation on shoulders of sachin ,a billion of those.and longetivity might divert u away from focus,bowlers know your weaknesses.and then to go and score shows your calibre. Is there such a mechanism to measure that pressure?I wonder!

• Chandan Athani on October 24, 2010, 10:24 GMT

Interesting. But a very simple method of finding the true value of a batsman would be to calculate the "standard deviation" from the average. It would indicate a batsman's consistency. A high standard deviation would suggest that the batsman is scoring heavily (against presumably weak attacks) and failing against the stronger attacks. A low standard deviation would show that the batsman scores against all kinds of attacks/pitches, etc.

• BK on October 24, 2010, 10:07 GMT

Lara was a fantastic player to watch! But having watched him being roughed up badly by Donald, Zahid, Akhtar and the 2Ws -- especially with short deliveries that he took his eyes off and popped up to short-leg or slips -- I take his figures from '03-'06 with a grain of salt...since these came during a change of guard among bowling attacks when the older maestros were gone & the new leaders (Steyn, Johnson, Lee, Andersen, Zaheer, Morkel) were either not around or still newbies.

But yes, Lara's standing in the batting pantheon will remain pretty safe given his home series vs. Aus in the late '90s (which included THAT 153*) and the 2001 series in SL.

• rachit on October 24, 2010, 10:04 GMT

@mark james - ridiculous is what i'll call ur statement ... cheap indian runs ... haha lolzz ... no wonder ponting, the player of the decade(what a joke) is below almost everyone in the list ... guess that proves that scoring runs in india was the toughest thing to do in the last decade ... hayden falls even lower and ditto with greame smith ...

• Sanket on October 24, 2010, 9:21 GMT

I give a damn about average and other statistics. In my book, Lara is no. 1 sheer for the entertainment value. Sports is all about entertainment.

• mohak on October 24, 2010, 8:44 GMT

Great analysis. the flaw is that batsman playing in australia are bound to suffer and batsman in W.I (nothing agains Brial Lara though) are bound to be benefitted. i believe something like this can be done. The idea came to my mind when i saw that Dravid's avg does not deviate much compared to sachin or laxman even when they were playing the same opponent at same conditions. so i belive to calculate the new avg it wud be better to divide the new avg (i.e the avg you obtained) by the arthimetic mean of the quality deviation of batsmen in his team.

For eg if ricky ponting was thrashing the weak bowling so was hayden and gilchrist. So if the quality deviation of hayden and gilchrist is lower than ponting, ponting should be benefitted.

• Abhi on October 24, 2010, 8:27 GMT

@Jason At around end 2006, my sentiments were similar to yours- Just reverse the names Lara and Tendulkar. By end 2002 Tendulkar was widely acknowledged as the Best batsman of the generation (http://www.cricinfo.com/southafrica/content/story/122437.html ). This was based on mostly a decade of dominance over his peers since ’93 - surpassed only by unsurpassable Bradman.

Then as Tendulkar stumbled mainly due to a string of serious injuries- all his contemporaries embarked on the most prolific batting period in the history of cricket. By 2006 (in a span of 3 /4 years), apparently just about everyone was “actually” better than Tendulkar. We had to put up with so-called “analyses” and “debates” stating that Tendulkar was not even the best batsman in his own team. Needless, to say this was through the careless (or ignorant) use of “overall” stats..So, in 3 /4 yrs of run feasting just about everyone was now “better” than someone who had outperformed all his peers for a decade.

So, in my view , Tendulkar in the last 2 /3 years has merely reaffirmed his status as the Premier batsman of the generation. And given his technical adaptability/dexterity he can continue to adjust/tweak things to work around slowing reflexes..So, if the body holds up- The Sky (literally) is the limit.

• Prince of Persia on October 24, 2010, 5:37 GMT

You guys make same basic stats mistake every time and if someone reminds you of that either you don't post their comments are give angry replies (not you particularly). Well you cant do half subjective half objective analysis till you find the results you are looking for or till it looks somewhat reasonable. It is like drawing a target after throwing the darts. So Sehwag's three great innings don't matter but similar innings or much inferior innings from other batsman do! Reason only known to the author. I am not saying that there is a bias but there is this problem of determining a criteria which is fair.

• Sarosh on October 24, 2010, 2:52 GMT

Since I don't see my original comment posted, I can only assume something in it didn't suit your sensitivities. So, I shall condense my argument: The analysis is misleading since it claims to depicts effective averages in the "2000"s. Correctly speaking this should apply only to batsmen who have actually played right through the 2000s and not for some fraction of it.

As we know it is relatively easier to maintain standards over shorter periods of time. When Lara retired in Nov.2006- Ponting avg. 66 from Jan 2000. Dravid 64. Their stats have since taken a pounding. This would have surely happened to Lara as well- he avg.41 in his last year. So- as of Lara's retirement Ponting,Dravid etc would have actually had a much higher "effective" average.

• Venkatesh on October 24, 2010, 2:28 GMT

Analysis paralysis - some flaws - because one plays on a top-ranking team does not mean his batting has to be discounted when playing other teams - the top ranking may come due to the batting rather than because of the bowling strength. Also the main reason batting averages are better in recent decades is the advent of helmets - subtract 10-15 runs off every batsman when you compare with the 70s or earlier. Also, thanks to T20 there have been batting fiascos by every team even in this decade for the simple reason technique has gone for a six - a pacy wicket can still send Indian batsmen running for cover as they still lack the technique to handle the short-ball, and several other teams have been out at ridiculously low scores. This is the reason that despite inflated batting averages, bowlers (except Indian and select other bowlers) such as Pollock, McGrath, Steyn, Murali, Warne averaged in the low 20s. I am unsure where this analysis leads to in evaluating batsmen.

• rachit on October 23, 2010, 22:49 GMT

I know you will not publish my comment cos it argues against ur analysis ... but somehow, this is very very subjective .. not rating sehwag's 300s and 293 very highly are blasphemous according to me ... 309 was against akhtar and sawi in pakistan ... 319 was against steyn and morkel chasing 500+ target ... 293 was in a day against murali chasing 400+ ... of these knocks are not great .. nothing is great in cricket ... these are right among the top of my best test innings .. but u moght disagree .. for that matter, sachin recent run of form is against the weakest overall bowling standard in the world for the last 20 years ... same applies to dravid .. 270 in pak against the same attack sehwag hit 309 .. 232 in sus against a weak aussie attack... 217 in eng in 2002 against 2nd test harmison etc ... the question is .. where do u draw a line ...

• Kishna Hari on October 23, 2010, 17:42 GMT

Completely agree with Ravi Sharma's comments. You seem to only count pace as the true test but all said and done by this parameter, for example, you can almost discount one of the greatest innings ever played (Gavaskar 96 against Pak, his last innings) as that was played on a slow square turner. An innings like that would not figure into your calculations. More importantly, how does one explain so much variability in effective averages between Sachin and Dravid when they played against the same opposition, with same players in a particular decade. Yes, there will be some difference but if both are averaging 50 and above this can not be explained.

• Chi Square on October 23, 2010, 17:30 GMT

Why are you using geometric mean? That is the basic reason your analysis is flawed as the geometric mean is more appropriate for describing proportional growth, both exponential growth (constant proportional growth) and varying growth; and cricket is by no means an exponential growth matrix especially when only batting is concerned. So even if you did everything right your analysis would have still been wrong. What you should consider is perhaps the use of harmonic means!

• Anonymous on October 23, 2010, 17:03 GMT

dude,if everyone started to play like gili or viru............we might have seen low scoring test matches because every team needs on aggressive player and others to back them up if every one is temted to go over the top........i am too scred to imagine

• Prahlad on October 23, 2010, 15:13 GMT

Good analysis. A similar analysis of the 90s would be very interesting, especially to compare the careers of some of the older players. Also, a similar analysis of bowling would give a good measure of how the quality of bowling has dropped away in the last 5-10 years.

• Girish on October 23, 2010, 14:17 GMT

Great analysis. The list shows match winners and who better than Lara or Dravid. Surprised to see Yousuf and Jayawardene higher than Ponting. As with most analysis, Tendulkar is always within the top 10 but never at the top.

• srinin on October 23, 2010, 13:04 GMT

Good analysis. It wd be nice if you can follow up this with a rating for each of this batsmen for their entire career. I hope to see Sachin climbing up a couple of notches since some of his best performances came aginst far better bowling attacks (McGrath, Warne, Ambrose, Walsh, Akram, Younis etc) in the 90s. Thanks in advance!

• Alex on October 23, 2010, 12:27 GMT

Abhi - Madhusudan's admirable attempt to account for the bowling attack quality is flawed in that:

1. The bowler's average is taken over his career (rather than the 1-year period around the match of interest).

2. % runs scored by the batsman for his team are considered too: this heavily favors a good batsman in a terrible line-up ... notice the high scores posted by Lara, Chander, and SMG.

Those thinking SRT failed against McGrath in tests should note that SRT played only 7 tests vs McGrath when healthy (1996-2001) and averaged 48 with 2 100's, 4 50's, 2 freak dismissals, and 3 terrible decisions. Notice how well he has done vs Steyn.

• Alex on October 23, 2010, 12:13 GMT

@Mark James - right on cheap Indian runs. Can you please explain why Aussies, SA, and Eng got their butts kicked in India all through the decade?

• Ali Shah on October 23, 2010, 11:11 GMT

As usual a very nice analysis. A simple one yet effective. Although by factoring in SRs you can probably make it more complex and maybe more representative but an interesting analysis nonetheless.

Rahul Dravid comes in at number 3. I think this confirms my hunch as to how good a batsman he really is and has been able to perform consistently well even against top quality bowling attacks. As a test batsman he wasn't too bad even in the 90s I think.

However the real surprise for me is Mohd Yousuf and Tendulkar. MoYo at number 4???? Except for his Bradmanesque England tour I can't recall anything extraordinary from him.

That Tendulkar is so low on the effective averages was a bit of a surprise. I think it might be because of the relatively bad patch of his from 2004 till 2007. Since 2008 he has been phenomenal.

Keep up the good work.

• Abhi on October 23, 2010, 7:32 GMT

Wow, Effectively Lara and Chanderpaul were the best batsmen of the 2000s. Now, If only they had a couple of good bowlers too , West Indies would have been unbeatable.

• karthik on October 23, 2010, 7:13 GMT

I think the calculation is littlebit unfair on sachin against mcgrath because sachin played only one series against Australia in australia including Mcgarth in Which he got some rough (3 out of 6 were wrong) decisions but still got the Man of the series awards.But Lara has played against Mcgarth more often.

• Anonymous on October 23, 2010, 7:08 GMT

The stats actually seem to penalize team with stronger batting line up! If a team has better batting line up,the obviously will fare better. Sachin 192 against Eng was in more difficult conditions than any of Lara's double centuries this decade. Overcast in Headingley. And Sachin averaging 36 in matches with McGrath is farce. 2 of the 6 times he got him,it was umpire's wicket. Infact Gillespie troubled him more. but so did injuries during that phase. Ponting's average dropping by 10 to Dravid's 1 is ridiculous too. Against SA,ponting performed way better. Against Oz,dravid had 1 gr8 and one good series. Ponting had one horror series and one average one. All other teams,it was more or less same. obviusly,if ur team gets bowled out for 405 and u make more than 200,the attack seems gr8.(lara's 200 in adelaide) and ur team scores 600 and u make 192,it counts for less even though its more difficult to bat in overcast conditons(sachin 192,dravid's 148) Will be better to compare all that.

• Mark James on October 23, 2010, 6:29 GMT

Spot on good to see that the Indians cheap runs are showing up.

• Ravi Sharma on October 23, 2010, 6:14 GMT

A very detailed but very flawed ananlysis...The tone of this article suggests that you only consider PACE bowling as quality bowling and so the days when spin took over, according to you, the quality of bowling degraded. Are you blind to what just took place in India? What you defined as flat wickets, caused 10 to 15 wickets to fall on the 4th and 5th day. Pace bowling is just another kind of bowling - If it were THE bowling, then pace bowlers would have the most wickets not spin. Who are the leading wicket takers? Three spinners. So, your averages should include how well Sachin and all batsmen did against spin bowlers in spin-bowling-friendly conditions, and on which day of the test match. And how well batsmen did against pace bowlers in pace friendly conditions. You will be surprised where guys like Sangakara falls. True - Ponting and Hayden were much over-rated - never played against quality bowling!And for a QUALITY analysis based on statistics, ALL data MUST be included.

• Marmaduke on October 23, 2010, 5:52 GMT

Someone has to play against weaker teams otherwise Laxmanisque approach will mean weaker teams will become stronger teams and ruin your analysis. Hence the circular logic of the system: Sehwag and company score runs against weaker team which helps them defeat them hence they are considered lower teams so 'other' teams can look better in comparison so whoever scores well against 'other' teams gets more points.

Infact, it can be argued that supposedly weaker teams generate more pressure on stras then those teams against failure is an option. Yes, wining against a minnow may not be considered all that great but wait till one looses a test against them.

• BalDev Singh on October 23, 2010, 5:44 GMT

You wrote "he Chennai and Lahore efforts though came on very flat tracks and the innings against Sri Lanka in Mumbai was against a highly weakened attack'.

It is not Lahore but Multan where Sehwag scored his first triple century. Chennai effort was against Murali a bowler who took 800 wickets in test and SA has best fast bowling pair in Morkel and Steyn.

• criccrazy on October 23, 2010, 5:19 GMT

This is meant to be a basic analysis approach to evaluating an innings. Understanding context/impact is an entirely different matter altogether and will be taken up later. Also, what is considered here is the match average and not the batsman's average. So in the event of the match average and the bowling average being higher, the conditions are easier and tougher if the parameters are lower. So there is no discrepancy there. Weaker teams do tend to get discredited often because of the lack of positive results. This is more of an effort to show how some stronger teams tend to feast on easy attacks..not to devalue anyone in particular..

• Abhi on October 23, 2010, 5:08 GMT

Interesting analysis.

Two questions: 1) Is the runs/wicket value for both teams in the match or only the team of the batsman in question? 2) Why did you pick the date of Jan 1 1940 as the cut-off to calculate the base value?

• Martin Hook on October 23, 2010, 4:56 GMT

There seems to be a basic disconnect in your analysis. You are not controlling for confounder's or co-variables, hence there is statistical bias towards players who played in lesser teams. The analysis is also skewed by your subjective criteria where some conditions are considered better for batting than others. It is difficult to face McGrath in Perth but it is not easy to face Murli in Colombo in 40C heat and humidity either.

• Alex on October 23, 2010, 4:26 GMT

To continue my observation in the last post, this method gives more points to Lara' 196 vs SA when compared to VVS' 281 ... does not make sense even if we disregard the circumstances of the VVS VVVS.

Also, haven't the WI been as bad as BD since '06? Why are the performances against them included? BD actually has a decent attack, esp. at BD --- SRT's away 105* vs BD was far more valuable than Dravid's '08 Chennai century vs SA.

• criccrazy on October 23, 2010, 4:25 GMT

though this exercise seems to me more favourable to batsmen from weaker teams, what it also clearly does is show that the average of many batsmen esp sri lankan is overrated..an average of 50 for samaraweera does not put him in the same breadth as Gavaskar..people on the 1980s faced high quality WI pacemen and managed 42 which is quite incredible. But a more detailed analysis must be done involving periods and grounds to determine quality of a player.

• Jason on October 23, 2010, 1:49 GMT

Very interesting, and it confirms what I often bang on about myself, poor Brian Lara often gets a raw deal with fans. With every run Tendulkar makes, Lara is forgotten a little bit more, and he certainly doesn't deserve to be. And great to see little Shiv up there too, SO underrated.

This is a great study, and I've tried to do 'back of the napkin' type adjustments like this myself. Would be great to see a 80s or 90s comparison done with the 2000s to see how flat the pitches and attacks really have been. I suspect not quite as much as people think. And of course it would be amazing to equate some of the REALLY old players using this method like Trumper, Grace and Hammond.

Great work!

• Ravisco on October 23, 2010, 0:31 GMT

It would be interesting to see what methodology you used to rate the bowlers these batsmen faced against. Furthermore, a methodology which takes ICC team rankings into account at the time when these batsmen faced against the respective bowling attacks. Batsmen don't just have to contend with the good bowling but also the fielding which play a key part in dismissals and containment of runs. Hence I think ICC rankings at *that* point of when runs are scored against a team is also a good measure of a batsman's quality.

E.g. Lara toured Australia in 2006 and Tendulkar in 2008, both instances when Australia were ranked #1.

• Dan de V on October 22, 2010, 23:57 GMT

Surprised to see Lara and Chanderpaul at the top. Don't get me wrong. I am a West Indian and like to see the boys do well but to have both of them up there suggests this analysis benefits those who play on weak teams and stand out from their team mates hence why Tendulkar and Ponting are way down the list because they had excellent batsmen around them.

• Anonymous on October 22, 2010, 23:44 GMT

I'm glad statistics back up my thoughts generally on the batsmen who have performed best in the last decade.

• Software Star on October 22, 2010, 23:32 GMT

nice analysis... it takes a lot of effort to go into detail like this.. I really appreciate ur efforts (u seem to be in the Mr. Ananth Narayanan mould)

the good thng is, if u every get into arguments with Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Bhogle or others (who haven't played cricket at the highest level) who just compose lavish descriptions in about 15 minutes, u have all the statistics to back you up.. whereas those folks are just giving their poetic opinions

the last part regarding Gavaaskar is a good eye opener.. coz i have heard so many people (about 10-30 years older then me) saying that Vishwanath was the man for India when it came to big games against difficult bowling.

• sunrays on October 22, 2010, 21:09 GMT

Remarkable effort and quite interesting results...of course, not many would be happy with what the analysis has to show...great work. Enjoyed it a lot.

• Arnab Gupta on October 22, 2010, 21:07 GMT

Interesting to consider that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid have played identical opposition in the 2000s, but where Tendulkar's and Sehwag's averages drop by about 10 points each, Dravid's average barely drops at all.

Would you consider that a flaw in your method of analysis, or in the way you assign "strength" to bowling attacks?

In your mind, and in your personal opinion, who is the better bat? S. Tendulkar, R. Ponting, or B. Lara?

• Saurav Saharia on October 22, 2010, 20:53 GMT

apologies mr. ramakrishnan... didn't notice the name of the publisher.. got used to commenting on anantha's analysis..

• Saurav Saharia on October 22, 2010, 20:51 GMT

hi ananth,

truly meaningful analysis... would u provide a similar analyis for the 1990's when the bowling quality was arguably better than the 2000's...

• vipin garg on October 22, 2010, 20:04 GMT

good analysis ananth...... I m not much surprised to see Brain Charles Lara at the top as i always considered him the best among his generation player simply based on important innings he played when no one else even could stay at the cresae to give him a bit od support..... sri lanka 2001 is the best example..... And as i noted, sachin's avg dips to 36in matches involving GD McGrath and is also much lower than his already lesser avg aginst RSa..... Can u tell me Sach's n lara's effective avg in 90s........ but Mahela above Ricky, found a bit shocking considering mahela's poor away record but how is this batting n bowling avg calculated.... is this total no. of runs scored by all the batsman divded by total innings played by them all??..... if it is so, i think bowling avg of current aussie team wud b just too high........ as their strike bowlers haven't taken too many wickets but likes of clarke n kattich might have given huge runs over the course of their career....

• Rambo on October 22, 2010, 19:29 GMT

I think this is a nice piece and should concur with what most suspects. However, I think there are several issues with your analysis: 1. "quality of bowling" can be relative. S. Rajesh had a similar analysis and I felt that his was more accurate in its reflection of "quality of bowling" I wish I could find that S. Rajesh article again. The point here is that, while Brian Lara may be considered to have done well against top teams, his best came on flat pitches at home. He's scored lots of runs in Adelaide and Antigua. Both are just flat decks with nothing for the bowlers. While the teams he faced may have been competitive, the combination of bowlers and pitch did not offer him the stiffest resistance. 2. "quality of pitch" can also be relative. For example, you have discounted several Sehwag masterpieces by your analysis. But one thing that it missed is, Sehwag innings in those matches were the only thing that separated a thrilling win and a boring draw. This has to count for something.

• Aman on October 22, 2010, 19:12 GMT

The deviation needs to be broken down more to be a qualitative comparison. Top 5 Teams Home, Top 5 Teams Away, All Other Home, All Other Away. That could easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Also factoring in average individual ground scores might help as runs scored at Adelaide might not be as valuable as those at the Gabba or WACA. At the moment, there is too much averaging which leads to insignificant differences in deviation especially in the middle section of that list.

• Tanmay Shukla on October 22, 2010, 18:59 GMT

I do not expect you to believe me, but while writing the previous pos I still hadn't seen your final results. Regardless of whether or not you do, point (3) explains very well why West Indian cricketers dominate the rankings and the Australians are lower down.

It also just occurred to me that apart from de-meaning the data, you should also exclude the batsman's scores themselves from your calculations. Otherwise you'll end up attenuating your estimates: run for run, the importance you'll give to scoring, say, 50 runs higher that average will be greater when you've scored 50 runs in total, than say 150 runs in total (because the remaining 100 runs you've scored will also increase the average number or runs scored in the match, thus devaluing your "lead" over other batsmen.

• Tanmay Shukla on October 22, 2010, 18:52 GMT

I'm sorry to write that, as with most cricket statisticians, there is very little rigour or consideration of confounding effects in your analysis. (1) Instead of leaving out Zimbabwe, B'desh, you should see how they performed in the test compared to their average performance over all tests. This should in fact be extended to all teams. Why throw away information? De-mean it. (2) Half-fixing a problem is often worse than leaving it alone (think Bush). While you account for variation across tests, you ignore variation within. Did the pitch deteriorate over time? Which day of the test was the innings played on? These matter as much as overall Test difficulty, if not more. (3) If you do not de-mean the data, a batsman with great teammates is naturally disadvantaged in your analysis. Think Lara, as an example. Since he's almost always played in a fragile batting order, the total runs scored would always be a little lower than if he'd been on a strong team. This would inflate his stats.

• Mustafa on October 22, 2010, 18:24 GMT

What a shame what Pakistan have done in the last 5 years, and what a shame that in the best years of their careers, Yousuf and Younis never played.

• AN on October 22, 2010, 18:22 GMT

On flatter wickets and/or weaker bowling, should not better strike rates become a factor as well? After all, scoring slowly but heavily in better conditions should count for less. Should not there be a positive adjustment for players like Sehwag and Gilchrist, who compared to their colleagues score significantly faster on the same pitch and bowlers? I dont know how one can do this, maybe a 55 average @ 60 should be the same as 60 @ 50. This would make things a little complicated but it can be done. Anyway, thanks for a nice effort....

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• AN on October 22, 2010, 18:22 GMT

On flatter wickets and/or weaker bowling, should not better strike rates become a factor as well? After all, scoring slowly but heavily in better conditions should count for less. Should not there be a positive adjustment for players like Sehwag and Gilchrist, who compared to their colleagues score significantly faster on the same pitch and bowlers? I dont know how one can do this, maybe a 55 average @ 60 should be the same as 60 @ 50. This would make things a little complicated but it can be done. Anyway, thanks for a nice effort....

• Mustafa on October 22, 2010, 18:24 GMT

What a shame what Pakistan have done in the last 5 years, and what a shame that in the best years of their careers, Yousuf and Younis never played.

• Tanmay Shukla on October 22, 2010, 18:52 GMT

I'm sorry to write that, as with most cricket statisticians, there is very little rigour or consideration of confounding effects in your analysis. (1) Instead of leaving out Zimbabwe, B'desh, you should see how they performed in the test compared to their average performance over all tests. This should in fact be extended to all teams. Why throw away information? De-mean it. (2) Half-fixing a problem is often worse than leaving it alone (think Bush). While you account for variation across tests, you ignore variation within. Did the pitch deteriorate over time? Which day of the test was the innings played on? These matter as much as overall Test difficulty, if not more. (3) If you do not de-mean the data, a batsman with great teammates is naturally disadvantaged in your analysis. Think Lara, as an example. Since he's almost always played in a fragile batting order, the total runs scored would always be a little lower than if he'd been on a strong team. This would inflate his stats.

• Tanmay Shukla on October 22, 2010, 18:59 GMT

I do not expect you to believe me, but while writing the previous pos I still hadn't seen your final results. Regardless of whether or not you do, point (3) explains very well why West Indian cricketers dominate the rankings and the Australians are lower down.

It also just occurred to me that apart from de-meaning the data, you should also exclude the batsman's scores themselves from your calculations. Otherwise you'll end up attenuating your estimates: run for run, the importance you'll give to scoring, say, 50 runs higher that average will be greater when you've scored 50 runs in total, than say 150 runs in total (because the remaining 100 runs you've scored will also increase the average number or runs scored in the match, thus devaluing your "lead" over other batsmen.

• Aman on October 22, 2010, 19:12 GMT

The deviation needs to be broken down more to be a qualitative comparison. Top 5 Teams Home, Top 5 Teams Away, All Other Home, All Other Away. That could easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Also factoring in average individual ground scores might help as runs scored at Adelaide might not be as valuable as those at the Gabba or WACA. At the moment, there is too much averaging which leads to insignificant differences in deviation especially in the middle section of that list.

• Rambo on October 22, 2010, 19:29 GMT

I think this is a nice piece and should concur with what most suspects. However, I think there are several issues with your analysis: 1. "quality of bowling" can be relative. S. Rajesh had a similar analysis and I felt that his was more accurate in its reflection of "quality of bowling" I wish I could find that S. Rajesh article again. The point here is that, while Brian Lara may be considered to have done well against top teams, his best came on flat pitches at home. He's scored lots of runs in Adelaide and Antigua. Both are just flat decks with nothing for the bowlers. While the teams he faced may have been competitive, the combination of bowlers and pitch did not offer him the stiffest resistance. 2. "quality of pitch" can also be relative. For example, you have discounted several Sehwag masterpieces by your analysis. But one thing that it missed is, Sehwag innings in those matches were the only thing that separated a thrilling win and a boring draw. This has to count for something.

• vipin garg on October 22, 2010, 20:04 GMT

good analysis ananth...... I m not much surprised to see Brain Charles Lara at the top as i always considered him the best among his generation player simply based on important innings he played when no one else even could stay at the cresae to give him a bit od support..... sri lanka 2001 is the best example..... And as i noted, sachin's avg dips to 36in matches involving GD McGrath and is also much lower than his already lesser avg aginst RSa..... Can u tell me Sach's n lara's effective avg in 90s........ but Mahela above Ricky, found a bit shocking considering mahela's poor away record but how is this batting n bowling avg calculated.... is this total no. of runs scored by all the batsman divded by total innings played by them all??..... if it is so, i think bowling avg of current aussie team wud b just too high........ as their strike bowlers haven't taken too many wickets but likes of clarke n kattich might have given huge runs over the course of their career....

• Saurav Saharia on October 22, 2010, 20:51 GMT

hi ananth,

truly meaningful analysis... would u provide a similar analyis for the 1990's when the bowling quality was arguably better than the 2000's...

• Saurav Saharia on October 22, 2010, 20:53 GMT

apologies mr. ramakrishnan... didn't notice the name of the publisher.. got used to commenting on anantha's analysis..

• Arnab Gupta on October 22, 2010, 21:07 GMT

Interesting to consider that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid have played identical opposition in the 2000s, but where Tendulkar's and Sehwag's averages drop by about 10 points each, Dravid's average barely drops at all.

Would you consider that a flaw in your method of analysis, or in the way you assign "strength" to bowling attacks?

In your mind, and in your personal opinion, who is the better bat? S. Tendulkar, R. Ponting, or B. Lara?