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November 20, 2010

Batting

Gooch holds his own with Bradman !!!

Anantha Narayanan
Graham Gooch: one of the most prolific batting streaks  © Getty Images
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The idea for this article came when I was discussing Lara's 400 with a friend, arguing that that was not even his fifth best innings. He countered by saying that since this was the maximum runs scored in a test it should be considered great. I had to correct him saying that there were two other batsmen who have scored more runs than Lara in a test. He was quite surprised since he could not think of someone scoring more than 400. He was only thinking of one innings. Then I explained to him about Gooch and Mark Taylor.

It made me think that there may be many cricket followers who might be in the dark about this and the maximum runs scored in one or more tests. I was also sure we would be in for some major surprises if we looked deeply into it. I myself did not have the answers ready. Would Lara's 688 be the maximum in three consecutive tests (no, it is not) or would Bradman's 974 runs during the 1930 5-test series be the maximum scored in a 5-test sequence (no, it is not) or would Tendulkar's recent streak of 1323 in 10 tests (before the Hyderabad Test) would be amongst the top 10-match sequences (no, it is not) and so on.

A very fascinating set of questions. I decided I would do a complete article on this. I am glad that I did it since it has thrown up quite a few great insights into Test batting. So much so I would do a similar article on Test bowling also.

Indeed this turned out to be a tough task since I also wanted to utilize this opportunity to build a Player-performance Database. This is essential since I needed to get the best 1-10 test performances for each player and then get the all-time best performances. I also wanted to provide the information on the top players' 1-10 tests best performances so that the readers could do their own comparisons. And I was sure that there would be queries on the best performances by specific players after the article was published. I wanted to be able to provide the information quickly. In fact I have also provided the huge table of all players' for downloading.

First let me emphasize that this is only a run aggregate. I myself will clarify that this aggregating of runs in specific sequences of 1-10 tests is irrespective of opposing team, home or away, match conditions, period lapsed between matches, not outs et al. That is not the purpose of this article. Readers should appreciate this and not come in with a comment such as "opposition bowling quality is not considered". But that is wishful thinking !!! Also readers who worry bout batting average should understand that when someone scores over 1500 runs in 10 tests, it does not matter about averages. It is going to be quite high.

Let us now look at the tables.

Maximum runs scored in a single test

Batsman         Runs  StartTest

Gooch G.A 456 (1148-1990) 333+123

Taylor M.A 426 (1426-1998) 334+92

Lara B.C 400 (1696-2004) 400

This table refers to the discussion which led into this analysis and a start of dominance by an extremely under-rated player, Graham Gooch. His triple and single centuries in the 1990 Lord's test add upto 456 runs and leads this table. This is followed by Mark Taylor's 426 against Pakistan. He followed a 334 (declared since he wanted to be at par with Bradman, not wanting to go past it !!!) with 92. Then follows Lara's single innings score of 400.

The cricketing story behind the Test is that Gooch declared late on the fourth day, leaving India with just over 8 hours to get runs. When asked why he did not declare earlier, he replied that he wanted to be able to attack right through the Indian innings. On slightly helpful tracks, Gooch's reason is the one which makes more sense rather than the often repeated "we must give the batting team a chance" maxim.

There is also a personal story behind the Gooch Test. I was in England at that time on my company work and was scheduled to leave London for Bombay, via Kuwait on 1 August. I wanted to see the last day of the Lord's Test on 31 July, hoping for a great fight back. Unfortunately India, starting at 57 for 2, collapsed in less than 3 hours. I decided to save 100 pounds in expenses, advanced my flight to 31 July and returned a day earlier.

Some readers might ask, so what. The horrifying truth was that the flight which left on August 1, landed at Kuwait, not knowing that Iraq had invaded and then could not take off again. In fact the plane was torched. The passengers had a harrowing time for 30 days and finally had to travel overland through Jordan to return to India. There, but for the grace of God and the ineptness of the Indian batting, I, a confirmed grass-eater, would have been in occupied-Kuwait. Lucky it was not the Harbhajan-led tail of today which might have batted on till evening.

Maximum runs scored in 2 consecutive tests

Gooch G.A        640 (1147-1990)
154+30, 333+123
184, 456

Bradman D.G 625 (0236-1934) 304, 244+77 304, 321

Smith G.C 621 (1651-2003) 277+85, 259 362, 259

Since Gooch preceded his Lord's test with another great one, he leads in the 2-test table with 640 runs. How can you keep Bradman out. He is next with 625 runs. Then there is a surprise with Graeme Smith with 621 runs, mainly with two huge double centuries.

Maximum runs scored in 3 consecutive tests

Hammond W.R      779 (0177-1928)
251, 200+32, 119+177
251, 232, 296

Gooch G.A 763 (1147-1990) 154+30, 333+123, 116+7 184, 456, 123

Sobers G.St.A 731 (0448-1958) 52+80, 365, 125+109 132, 365, 234

The 3-test sequence is headed by Hammond, with two double hundreds and two centuries in 3 tests, aggregating to 779 runs. Gooch is just behind, with 763 runs since he had an excellent test after the humongous Lord's one. For once Bradman is kept out. Sobers, book-ending his 365 with two good tests has aggregated 731 runs.

Maximum runs scored in 4 consecutive tests

Gooch G.A        936 (1147-1990)
154+30, 333+123, 116+7, 85+88
184, 456, 123, 173

Sangakkara K.C 915 (1838-2007) 200, 222, 57+192, 92+152 200, 222, 249, 244

Bradman D.G 888 (0180-1929) 123+37, 8+131, 254+1, 334 160, 139, 255, 334

Gooch continues to lead the tables. In 4 consecutive tests he scored 936 runs. Now there is a modern presence. Sangakkara's golden run during 2007 comes in second with 915 runs, supported by two double and two big centuries. He is ahead of Bradman whose quartet of tests aggregated 888 runs.

Maximum runs scored in 5 consecutive tests

Gooch G.A       1058 (1146-1990)
85+37, 154+30, 333+123, 116+7, 85+88
122, 184, 456, 123, 173

Bradman D.G 1028 (0236-1934) 304, 244+77, 38+0, 0+82, 13+270 304, 321, 38, 82, 283

Sobers G.St.A 1009 (0450-1958) 365, 125+109, 14+27, 25+142, 4+198 365, 234, 41, 167, 202

We are now back to the trusted trio of Gooch, Bradman and Sobers. Note that these three have exceeded 1000 runs in 5 tests. These are the only three to do so.

Maximum runs scored in 6 consecutive tests

Bradman D.G     1266 (0236-1934)
304, 244+77, 38+0, 0+82, 13+270, 26+212
304, 321, 38, 82, 283, 238

Gooch G.A 1147 (1148-1990) 333+123, 116+7, 85+88, 20+58, 59+54, 87+117 456, 123, 173, 78, 113, 204

Sobers G.St.A 1141 (0448-1958) 52+80, 365, 125+109, 14+27, 25+142, 4+198 132, 365, 234, 41, 167, 202

The same three batsmen lead the table for the 6-test aggregates. However the sequence is different, with Bradman displacing Gooch. Sobers stays in third place. 11 batsmen have crossed 1000 runs in 6 tests.

Maximum runs scored in 7 consecutive tests

Bradman D.G     1435 (0236-1934)
304, 244+77, 38+0, 0+82, 13+270, 26+212, 169
304, 321, 38, 82, 283, 238, 169

Gooch G.A 1331 (1147-1990) 154+30, 333+123, 116+7, 85+88, 20+58, 59+54, 87+117 184, 456, 123, 173, 78, 113, 204

Mohammad Yousuf 1296 (1809-2006) 202+48, 38+15, 192+8, 128, 192, 56+191, 102+124 250, 53, 200, 128, 192, 247, 226

Now for the 7-test aggregate table. Bradman has aggregated 1435 runs, over 200 runs per test. Gooch has aggregated 1331 runs. Now the current generation comes in, represented by the top class Pakistani batsman, Mohammad Yousuf who had a wonderful year during 2006. He aggregated 1296 runs in 7 tests. What Pakistan would do to have Yousuf playing half as well now. 20 batsmen have exceeded 1000 runs in 7 tests.

Maximum runs scored in 8 consecutive tests

Bradman D.G     1630 (0236-1934)
304, 244+77, 38+0, 0+82, 13+270, 26+212, 169, 51+144
304, 321, 38, 82, 283, 238, 169, 195

Gooch G.A 1453 (1146-1990) 85+37, 154+30, 333+123, 116+7, 85+88, 20+58, 59+54, 87+117 122, 184, 456, 123, 173, 78, 113, 204

Richards I.V.A 1385 (0773-1976) 142, 130+20, 177+23, 64, 232+63, 4+135, 66+38, 291 142, 150, 200, 64, 295, 139, 104, 291

These two giants, Bradman and Gooch have monopolized the top two positions in the 8-test tables. Bradman still maintains his 200+ runs per test and is way ahead of Gooch. Then comes the incomparable Richards who had one of the greatest of batsman-years during 1976. With a finale of the wonderful Oval innings of 291, he had aggregated 1385 runs. No fewer than 44 batsmen have exceeded 1000 runs in eight tests, Bradman being the only 1500+ run gatherer.

Maximum runs scored in 9 consecutive tests

Bradman D.G     1750 (0236-1934)
304, 244+77, 38+0, 0+82, 13+270, 26+212, 169, 51+144, 18+102
304, 321, 38, 82, 283, 238, 169, 195, 120

Gooch G.A 1550 (1147-1990) 154+30, 333+123, 116+7, 85+88, 20+58, 59+54, 87+117, 13+18, 34+154 184, 456, 123, 173, 78, 113, 204, 31, 188

Richards I.V.A 1533 (0770-1976) 50+98, 142, 130+20, 177+23, 64, 232+63, 4+135, 66+38, 291 148, 142, 150, 200, 64, 295, 139, 104, 291

Same three batsmen occupy the top three places in the 9-test table. Bradman's total of 1750 means that the average runs per test falls below 200. Gooch totals 1550 runs and Richards 1533. Gooch's sequence ends with the all-time classic of 154 against West Indies which must rank amongst the five best ever Test innings in anyone's reckoning. 75 batsmen have crossed 1000 runs in 9 Tests and 5 of these have crossed 1500 runs.

Maximum runs scored in 10 consecutive tests

Bradman D.G     1869 (0236-1934)
304, 244+77, 38+0, 0+82, 13+270, 26+212, 169, 51+144, 18+102, 103+16
304, 321, 38, 82, 283, 238, 169, 195, 120, 119

Gooch G.A 1672 (1146-1990) 85+37, 154+30, 333+123, 116+7, 85+88, 20+58, 59+54, 87+117, 13+18, 34+154 122, 184, 456, 123, 173, 78, 113, 204, 31, 188

Richards I.V.A 1664 (0768-1976) 30+101, 50+98, 142, 130+20, 177+23, 64, 132+63, 4+135, 66+38, 291 131, 148, 142, 150, 200, 64, 195, 139, 104, 291

Finally the 10-test table. Again the same three batsmen. Bradman has aggregated 1869 runs in a 10-test sequence. The irony is that there is a zero embedded in this sequence. Gooch and Richards only suffer when compared to Bradman. 114 batsmen have crossed 1000 runs in 9 Tests and 8 of these have crossed 1500 runs.

The surprise in these 10x3 efforts is the complete absence of a single Indian batsman. I am wary of giving a possible reason. Only thing I can think of is the overall strong batting lineup of India, not allowing one batsman to dominate for a series of Tests. That might very well have been the case for Australia a few years back. Incidentally Gambhir has a 10-test aggregate of 1640 runs and is just behind Richards.

Readers would have noted that Gooch is the only batsman to have featured in the top-3 positions in all these 10 tables. Bradman is missing in the 1-test and 3-tests tables. I agree that one swallow does not make a summer and these 10 tests are not representative of the batsman's career. However we have to recognize Gooch's 10 golden tests.

I am sure readers would like to see the best 1-10 test sequence aggregates of their favourite batsmen. Instead of cluttering up the main article I have uploaded the file and readers can view/download the complete player file.

This has been added as a postscript. This is the 10-innings sequence, rather than the 10-test sequence, as asked for by some readers. The table is presented with no comments.

Lara B.C             1   400 (1696-2004)
Hayden M.L           1   380 (1661-2003)
Jayawardene D.P.M.D  1   374 (1810-2006) (Lara's 375 is in between)

Hammond W.R 2 563 (0225-1933) Bradman D.G 2 548 (0236-1934) Sobers G.St.A 2 490 (0450-1958)

Hammond W.R 3 638 (0224-1933) Bradman D.G 3 625 (0236-1934) Smith G.C 3 621 (1651-2003)

Hammond W.R 4 739 (0224-1933) Bradman D.G 4 720 (0194-1930) Sobers G.St.A 4 679 (0448-1958)

Bradman D.G 5 835 (0195-1930) Hammond W.R 5 779 (0177-1928) Sangakkara K.C 5 763 (1838-2007)

Gooch G.A 5 756 (1147-1990) Zaheer Abbas 5 747 (0936-1982) Sobers G.St.A 5 731 (0448-1958)

Bradman D.G 6 966 (0194-1930) Sangakkara K.C 6 915 (1838-2007) Zaheer Abbas 6 838 (0935-1982)

Bradman D.G 7 984 (0196-1930) Sangakkara K.C 7 921 (1837-2007) Gooch G.A 7 878 (1146-1990)

Bradman D.G 8 1087 (0195-1930) Mohammad Yousuf 8 993 (1813-2006) Sangakkara K.C 8 962 (1838-2007)

Bradman D.G 9 1239 (0195-1930) Sangakkara K.C 9 1085 (1822-2006) Mohammad Yousuf 9 1025 (1813-2006)

Bradman D.G 10 1370 (0194-1930) Sangakkara K.C 10 1185 (1820-2006) Sobers G.St.A 10 1115 (0450-1958)

R.V.Subbu has asked one of the most intriguing and exciting questions on this blog. He wanted to know who has the best 52-test streak, second to Bradman. Thanking him for a wonderful question I set to work, the process already having been set, and the results are given below. The funny thing is that the first time I did this I did not set the Bradman exclusion filter and got the following information.

Bradman D.G. 52 6996 99.94

Laughing at my own idiocy, I set the filter and got the results.

Ricky Ponting, in a 52-test span between Test # 1595 (Saf vs Aus 15/03/2002) and Test # 1819 (Aus vs Eng 1/12/2006) accumulated 5853 runs at an average of 74.09 (90-11-5853-74.09-23 hundreds). His average improved from 45.09 to 59.97..

This is a logical extension of the current article and I must thank R.V.Subbu again for setting the spark.

The second is, surprise, Lara, who, starting with Test # 1542 and ending at one test before the end of his career, aggregated 5573 runs in 52 tests. Supports my contention that he retired couple of years too soon, or was forced to retire.

The third is, surprise again, Sobers, who scored 5468 runs in 52 tests starting Test # 443 (just before his record-breaking 365).

To view/down-load the complete 1-10 tests table, please click/right-click here.

To view/down-load the complete player table, please click/right-click here. The batsmen who have scored 2000 runs or more are included.

To view/down-load the 52-Test sequence table, please click/right-click here.

To view/down-load the 80-innings sequence table, please click/right-click here. Readers should note that Logie does not figure in this table since he played in 52 tests but had only 78 innings.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Posted by Andrew P on (April 8, 2011, 11:56 GMT)

And so? What became of the last two comments? [[ After 5 months !!! Ananth: ]]

Posted by Amey on (December 20, 2010, 16:33 GMT)

Ananth,

Agree it would be tough, but in a way it would be effectively shutting up quite a number of people. While yes, DGB is miles ahead of the rest, and SRT features not so high in this list, I have a very strong feeling that SRT will show a DGB-esque dominance in the ODI section.

If that is too tough, may be a simpler thing can be done. In the 80 innings list, for each player, addition of another column which shows the ODI runs scored in that period of 80 innings (after all, they are international runs scored, whatever the format.) [[ No problems. Will try hard because of the unique nature of the idea. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Amey on (December 20, 2010, 7:18 GMT)

Just feel sorry I missed this article earlier! Actually after Gambhir's streak, tried to find this same thing on statsguru, but was left unsatisfied...

BTW, another analysis may be interesting. Here you have taken just Test matches. How about 80 innings at a stretch (across Tests and ODIs). That would make more sense for modern batsmen, given that they play more ODIs than Tests (could also backfire a bit, as there is a much better chance to score more in Tests than 50 overs). I am inclined to believe Gambhir and SRT will rise up the ranks here if this is done. [[ As requests go, this is one of the toughest. I have done Tests/Odis together but only by extracting from one and integrating with the other. This would require both Databases online at the same time and some nifty programming. But will find a way to do it. Thanks Ananth: ]]

Posted by shrikanthk on (December 14, 2010, 6:01 GMT)

delmeister: I've that CLR James book right beside me!

I don't regard "taking away uncovered pitches" as a very fundamental change. There have been several such cosmetic changes which cancel out each other....Eg : Timeless tests, lighter bats, no protective gear, the old LBW rule, back-foot no-ball rule, new-ball renewal rules among other things. Which is why I believe the game has more or less remained the same since the 1860s.

I agree with James btw. You can't build a monument on those stats! Yes, Bradman may have failed all too often on "stickies". But in a lot of those cases he got out so early (ducks in several instances) that it is difficult to claim that he "struggled" on rain-affected pitches.

To me, it's more than enough that he dominated attacks on normal Aus and English pitches. Few batsmen can accomplish that since conditions in England are so very different from the conditions in Australia. Anyone who can do great in both countries should fare well elsewhere.

Posted by delmeister on (December 14, 2010, 1:52 GMT)

..at the age of 45, his test average is well clear of Pollock and Sutcliffe, at over 66. Mind you, people say that like Bradman, he never failed in a Test series. When the 2 faced each other in 1930/31, he averaged 37 in the 5 tests, which POSSIBLY could be called a failure, if only slight. He did make 2 centuries. No great player ever shouldered a greater burden. During that tour, he went from having a slight weakness on leg stump, exploited by Grimmett (tho it was mainly 'Dainty' Ironmonger who kept dismissing him), to finishing the tour as "undoubtedly" the greatest master of onside play Grimmett and the rest had ever seen. West Indies truly have had some remarkable players!

Posted by delmeister on (December 14, 2010, 1:43 GMT)

..that Bradman and Headley had played on rain affected wickets. Headley averaged over 39- Bradman 16! As James rightly said, "You needn't on those figures buils a monument, but you cannot ignore them" (I will provide more stats on those innings when I dig out the book at Xmas at my parents' house). Headley, along with Hobbs, Hutton, probably Hammond, and the less fluent Sutcliffe and Arthur Shrewsbury, were the alltime giants on stickies. That a player like Bradman had such distaste for them shows how difficult they were, a challenge totally unknown to modern players for a long time now. Incidentally, while praising Headley, the most technically complete of the great WI batsmen (albeit rarely a front foot driver), I am delighted that one of the correspondents has pointed out that many of his big innings were against reserve England touring XIs.But he was still an alltime great, imo better than Hammond, esp against genuine pace.If he had not made ill-advised comeback after WW2 TBC

Posted by delmeister on (December 14, 2010, 1:30 GMT)

..raised the bar with running between wickets (Steve Waugh was one who ran very well with him in ODIs), but before him, Miandad and Asif Iqbal reached very high standards indeed in that. Ahzar was certainly the first Indian player I saw take ODI batting totally seriously- ironic as he came in after 83 victory! Must have inspired him greatly. Of course, he also broke the Indian hoodoo of debutant Test centurions never making another one...Also one of their outstanding fielders I believe. Shrikanth, some good points there, but taking away uncovered wickets was also a major development. Apart from anything else, the rightly worshipped Bradman was a very ordinary player indeed on 'sticky' wickets where unlike normal turners, where his judgement was superb, the ball would frequently jump or squat off a length. He freely admitted to never trying to master them as he felt "You wouldn't ask Walter Lindrum to play billiards on a bumpy table". CLR James composed a list of innings TBC

Posted by delmeister on (December 14, 2010, 1:19 GMT)

Alex, I do agree with those comments, esp about Ahzar's weakness against pace, although there was a brief period when he did a little better in about 89/90 when he went back and across instead of forward. But was still inconsistent. 2 later brilliant hundreds against South Africa both owed much tobeing partnered by SRT- it is often forgetten when everybody points out how formidable the Indian batting has been for yrs just how long Sachin played, under pressure and at a young age, in a rather brittle line-up before Dravid and Ganguly's debut success in England. Vishy, however, played an innings (was it Madras?) of 97* that Gavaskar has always rated one of the greatest he ever saw. My point in praising Ahzar was mainly to emphasise the difference between an INGENIOUS player (Azhar, Javed, Zaheer, Pietersen, Jones) and a blue-chip bona fide all round GENIUS batsman,like Lara and Barry Richards(themselves totally different players). Many seem to confuse the 2 repeatedly.Jones certainly TBC

Posted by shrikanthk on (December 11, 2010, 11:27 GMT)

Also, I strongly believe that comparing eras is not as hard as it is made out to be.

We often hear the refrain that "the game has changed". I don't think it has changed in a very fundamental way.

The last most radical change in the game of cricket was the legalisation of overarm bowling in 1864. Most changes since then have been very cosmetic changes.

I wouldn't mind using numbers to compare anybody who has played this game since 1864.

Very often, I find that critics are willing to go as far back as Hobbs while picking All-time Elevens. But they desist from seriously considering cricketers from the pre-1914 era. Just because they don't have newsreel clippings to reveal those cricketers. I find this reluctance quite stupid. I'm sure if you were to go back to the English first-class scene of 1890 on a time-machine, you'll find that it is not all that radically different from the English FC scene of 2010.

Posted by shrikanthk on (December 11, 2010, 10:48 GMT)

Wonderful Blog.

Ananth - You did a great job of constructing the "bowling quality" index to drive home the magnitude of Bradman's achievements. But honestly, I think the man's figures are so great that he doesn't really need such sophisticated numbers to back him against ignoramuses.

I have a very simple question for Bradman's detractors - how do you account for his astonishing first-class record?? I believe the average of 95.14 in FC cricket to be a far greater figure than his 99.94 in Tests! An average of 99 in 52 test matches may have been a fortuitous achievement aided by "special circumstances". But a similar average over 20 years of FC cricket and over 300 FC innings cannot possibly be a fluke!

By the way, Ananth - I'd love to get your views on some of my cricket blogposts! Here are the links:

http://skuvce.blogspot.com/2010/11/on-risk-return-and-batsmanship-in.html

http://skuvce.blogspot.com/2010/11/ranji-most-underrated-cricketer-of-all.html

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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