Batting November 20, 2010

Gooch holds his own with Bradman !!!

A look at purple patches for batsmen in Tests

Graham Gooch: one of the most prolific batting streaks © Getty Images

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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