December 20, 2010

Test innings: a different peer-view

An analysis of how batsmen have fared when compared to their peers in Tests.

Don Bradman:far ahead of his compatriots © Getty Images

Recently Unnikrishnan had suggested a way of measuring individual Test innings in a different manner. His suggestion was that the innings should be evaluated against the average score of the other batsmen who batted in that particular innings. He also wanted the individual innings values summed across all innings for each batsmen and averaged across their career, similar to the way the Batting Averages are calculated. For instance, to compute Don Bradman's career Innings Index value, the Innings Index values for all his 80 innings would be added and divided by 80. These are excellent suggestions in view of the following plus factors.

- This is an out-and-out peer comparison, that too within the same team.
- The comparison is within the same innings: Hence the conditions would be almost identical.
- The bowling quality faced would be almost identical, barring innings-level variations.
- This effectively takes take care of the oft-repeated complaints by readers regarding batsmen playing in weak or strong teams.

In some ways this is similar to the simpler % of Team score measure. However the one major difference is that in the % TS measure the number of batsmen who batted is not taken into account. "For no loss" and "for 7 wkts" will produce the same % TS, as explained in the examples. However the Innings Index takes care of this very well and is a true peer comparison. Team score, as given below, is sans extras.

Team-Score Batsman-Score  % TS   Inns Index

100 for 0 50 50 1.0 100 for 5 50 50 6.0 200 for 3 100 50 4.0 200 for 9 100 50 10.0 300 for 2 150 50 3.0 300 for 10 150 50 10.0

100 for 10 60 60 15.0 100 for 1 25 25 0.33 200 for 7 120 60 12.0 200 for 1 40 20 0.5 300 for 10 200 66.7 20.0

The formula for determining the Inns Index is quite simple and outlined below.

Runs scored by batsman
Innings Index  = -------------------------------
Average score of other batsmen

where Total runs made by other batsmen Average score of other batsmen = -------------------------------- No of other batsman who batted

I had to do limiting of the Innings Index values for innings in which fewer than 5 wickets fell as otherwise the following silly situation emerges. Aamir Sohail's 46 out of 61/2 will get 15.33 ??? Such cases have been limited to a reasonable number below 5 since these do not really reflect batsman contributions in demanding situations.

I have shown two tables. The first is a table of the top innings based on the Innings Index value. The second is a table of batsmen ordered by the average Innings Index value over the career.

Now for the first table. Readers will note a clear correlation between this and the % Team Score. However this is a far more robust and well-thought out measure which stands any test. Let me repeat, for the sake of readers itching to put in their tuppenny-worth on the innings they think should be placed high. This is not a list of the best innings. It is a table of innings whose Innings Index values, as described in this article are high. That is all. Do not draw unnecessary inferences from either of the tables.

Now for the first table. I have listed here the top-25 innings ordered by the Inns Index.

Table of Innings ordered by Innings Index
(Batsman score > 199 or Inns Index > 5.0)

MtId Year Batsman Bat Team (Ext) Batsman Oth Inns Pos Score Score Avge Index

1156 1990 Gurusinha A.P 3 82/10 ( 8) 52* 2.2 23.64 0001 1877 Bannerman C 1 245/10 ( 8) 165* 7.2 22.92 1439 1999 Slater M.J 1 184/10 ( 4) 123 5.7 21.58 1481 2000 Laxman V.V.S 1 261/10 (21) 167 8.1 20.59 0732 1974 Amiss D.L 1 432/ 9 (41) 262* 12.9 20.31 0779 1976 Greenidge C.G 1 211/10 (11) 134 6.6 20.30 0542 1963 Reid J.R 4 159/10 ( 9) 100 5.0 20.00 1171 1991 Gooch G.A 1 252/10 (21) 154* 7.7 20.00 1306 1995 Moin Khan 7 212/10 (34) 117* 6.1 19.18 0401 1955 Sutcliffe B 3 125/10 (12) 74 3.9 18.97 0303 1948 Hutton L 1 52/10 ( 6) 30 1.6 18.75 1283 1995 Inzamam-ul-Haq 5 165/10 (19) 95 5.1 18.63 0164 1926 Macartney C.G 3 194/ 5 (17) 133* 7.3 18.14 0652 1969 Nurse S.M 3 417/10 (14) 258 14.5 17.79 1913 2009 Duminy J.P 6 138/10 (23) 73* 4.2 17.38 1884 2008 Sehwag V 1 329/10 (12) 201* 11.6 17.33 0665 1969 Burgess M.G 6 200/10 (12) 119* 6.9 17.25 1716 2004 Jayasuriya S.T 1 438/10 (37) 253 14.8 17.09 0130 1913 Taylor H.W 1 182/10 ( 9) 109 6.4 17.03 0079 1904 Tyldesley J.T 3 103/10 ( 8) 62 3.7 16.91 0846 1979 Yallop G.N 4 198/10 ( 5) 121 7.2 16.81 1206 1992 Kapil Dev N 7 215/10 ( 8) 129 7.8 16.54 0330 1951 Hutton L 1 272/10 (21) 156* 9.5 16.42 1820 2006 Sangakkara K.C 3 170/10 ( 9) 100* 6.1 16.39 0059 1899 Sinclair J.H 4 177/10 ( 6) 106 6.5 16.31 1747 2005 Sarwan R.R 3 194/10 (21) 107* 6.6 16.21 1444 1999 Saeed Anwar 1 316/10 (12) 188* 11.6 16.21 1749 2005 Lara B.C 4 296/10 (10) 176 11.0 16.00 0841 1979 Gomes H.A 3 151/10 ( 3) 91 5.7 15.96 0587 1965 Saeed Ahmed 3 307/ 8 (38) 172 10.8 15.96

A real surprise at the top. Asanka Gurusinha, a competent performer for Sri Lanka (with an average of 38.9), with his innings of 52 out of 84 all out (8 extras). This leads to an Inns Index value of 23.64. Then come three classics spread across 123 years. Charles Bannerman's 165 has a value of 22.9, Slater's 123 has a value of 21.5 and Laxman's career-defining 167 leads to an Inns Index value of 20.5. Then comes one of the greatest match-saving innings of all time by Amiss of 262, with an Inns Index value of 20.3.

There is a case for keeping a minimum team score as 100 to ensure that the index may have more validity. However I feel that in cases like Gurusinha's or Hutton's innings, the important factor is that the team was all out, in other words, 11 batsmen batted. Hence I have decided to retain these values.

Note the presence of some modern classics such as Sehwag's 201, Inzamam's 95, Jayasuriya's 253 and Sangakkara's 100. These are wonderful innings and fully deserve to be in this special list.

To view/down-load the complete Innings Index table of innings of 200 runs or more or an Inns Index value greater than 5.0, please click/right-click here.

Now for the batsmen table. To do this table I have added the Inns Index values for all the innings played by the batsman and divided the sum by the number of innings played. This leads to an average Inns Index value. An innings is what it says. When a batsman takes strike and whether he finishes at 400* or 0*, it is an innings. I am sure readers would come out with their own suggestions on excluding certain types of not outs, such as single digit ones. Let me wait for such suggestions and I am prepared to do the tweak and show the alternate table. As of now it is one straight forward calculation. As usual the batsmen who have scored over 2000 runs are shown. There is only one batsman of significance in the below-2000 group, Eddie Paynter who had scored 1540 runs at 59.23.

Batsman              Cty Inns   Runs   Bat   Avge  Inns Index
Total   Avge  IIdx   <1.0 >5.0

Bradman D.G Aus 80 6996 99.94 3.348 22 19 Headley G.A Win 40 2190 60.83 3.226 17 11 Lara B.C Win 232 11953 52.89 2.701 99 42 Taylor H.W Saf 76 2936 40.78 2.560 38 10 Nourse A.D Saf 62 2960 53.82 2.551 28 9 Hutton L Eng 138 6971 56.67 2.504 55 16 Hobbs J.B Eng 102 5410 56.95 2.463 43 14 Turner G.M Nzl 73 2991 44.64 2.438 36 9 Flower A Zim 112 4794 51.55 2.387 58 17 EdeC Weekes Win 81 4455 58.62 2.360 34 12 Hazare V.S Ind 52 2192 47.65 2.283 24 5 Sutcliffe B Nzl 76 2727 40.10 2.255 29 8 Hanif Mohammad Pak 97 3915 43.99 2.254 49 16 Pollock R.G Saf 41 2256 60.97 2.246 22 5 Taylor R.L Nzl 51 2077 41.54 2.240 30 7 Habibul Bashar Bng 99 3026 30.88 2.216 47 11 Sangakkara K.C Slk 156 8244 57.25 2.190 74 21 Gavaskar S.M Ind 214 10122 51.12 2.185 106 27 Mitchell B Saf 80 3471 48.89 2.178 31 9 Walcott C.L Win 74 3798 56.69 2.160 42 11 Hammond W.R Eng 140 7249 58.46 2.158 73 15 Gooch G.A Eng 215 8900 42.58 2.156 103 25 Sutcliffe H Eng 84 4555 60.73 2.147 34 9 Saeed Anwar Pak 91 4052 45.53 2.135 37 10 Mohammad Yousuf Pak 156 7530 52.29 2.130 63 17 Sehwag V Ind 146 7613 54.38 2.117 63 17 Chanderpaul S Win 219 9063 48.99 2.116 106 24 Cowper R.M Aus 46 2061 46.84 2.104 23 3 Saeed Ahmed Pak 78 2991 40.42 2.093 34 6 May P.B.H Eng 106 4537 46.77 2.080 41 11 Tendulkar S.R Ind 286 14513 56.91 2.075 131 29

Bradman leads the table with an average Inns Index value of 3.348. What does this mean. Across his career he has scored 3.3 times the average of his compatriots, taken innings by innings. And in Bradman's case, because of the strength of Australia, the proportion of late order batting performances which are compared with Bradman would be fewer. That says something. Imagine, each time he performed at the level of his fellow players, he has to make up by notching up an innings with an Inns Index value of nearly 6 !!! He has performed below his compatriots only just over 25%, while the other batsmen have done between 40 and 50%. Similarly he has batted at a level above 5 times the average of his fellow batsmen just below 25%, while the rest of the batsmen do this between 10 and 15%. These are unbelievable numbers to read, digest and marvel.

The "Black Bradman" is second with the only other 3+ value. The fact that he is quite close to Bradman speaks volumes. Lara is third with a score of 2.701. There is no doubt that he would have benefited from playing in a weaker teams. However it is still necessary to outscore them consistently. A surprise next. Herb Taylor of South Africa is next with 2.560 and the classical batsman, Nourse next with 2.551.

Look at the next six batsmen. Hutton, Hobbs, Glenn Turner, Andy Flower, Everton Weekes and Vijay Hazare. This is an eclectic mix of batsmen playing for stronger and weaker batting line-ups. So playing for a stronger batting line-up does not necessarily prevent a player from getting a reasonable high average value. Hutton, Hobbs and Weekes played in strong batting line-ups. I get the feeling that this might be true where there were 3 top batsmen in the side, not 5 was the case with the Australian team of the 2000s and recent Indian teams. Andy Flower virtually carried his team for most of his career as did Glenn turner. Hazare played in a reasonably strong batting line-up. Not a surprise that Gavaskar and Hanif Mohammad are the leading batsmen of their respective countries.

I would conclude that the top batsmen in this analysis would have an average Inns Index value of over 2.00.

To view/down-load the complete Player table of all batsmen who have scored 2000 runs and above, please click/right-click here.

Many thanks to Unnikrishnan for the suggestion. This will become part of my ratings work replacing the % of Team Score measure.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 31, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    Ananth: Sorry for commenting on this dead thread, but couldn't resist.

    Wasp: Those were some pretty perceptive comments on Hammond. Also, when you discuss English cricket with people who ought to know better, Hammond is often remembered as a flamboyant strokemaker whereas Hobbs is regarded as a somewhat stodgy opener, inhibited in his strokeplay.

    I examined the strike rates of these two batsmen to see if this mental image of the two has any foundation. It has none! Hammond's career strike rate (in the games where it was recorded) is most definitely below that of Hobbs! On the other hand, pre-War Hobbs appears to have been a very attractive strokemaker with a strike rate almost comparable to that of a Bradman or a Lara. Even after the war, he appear to have played an aggressive brand of cricket in '20-21. He was perhaps a little sedate from the mid 20s onwards. But still he scored hundreds at an SR over 40 which is not bad for an opener approaching 50.

  • testli5504537 on January 29, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    re - Steyn and Mcgrath.

    Mcgrath is the Boycott of bowling. dull but effective. Bowling wide of off-stump over after over after over. Steyn is dynamic - fast, rushing the batsman, sharp bouncer, wonderful movement (old or new ball).

    McGrath was the smartest bowler I've seen. He had accuracy, and worked players out.

    Ambrose was just as accurate, but not as smart - he'd bowl the same to every batsman, while McGrath knew who to bowl closer to, who bowl wider to, when to throw one up a little further up. He also knew that a bouncer or yorker, even at his pace, was still effective if everything else is dead tight. Ambrose, with more bounce, more nip of the pitch and more seam movement - didn't grasp these nuances.

    Wasim could have used more outswingers, yorkers and gone around the wicket more to be more effective. Waqar could have used the outswinger more and aimed to hit the stumps with it. They didn't.

    Mcgrath did everything he possibly could with what he did.

  • testli5504537 on January 29, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    @shrikanthk - I agree with you about Hammond being overrated, and would like to point out his poor record against fast bowling.

    - The only team that had any at the time was West Indies (Martindale, Francis and Constantine) - and they were neither express fast, pinpoint accurate or masters of movement. Hammond's record against them was very ordinary

    - Failed badly against Lindwall and Miller in '46. He was 44 at the time, but was scoring heavily in FC cricket. I think the failure came because of the fast bowling, not his age

    - Well known dislike of bouncers. Nobody likes them much, but some handle it with grace anyway (e.g. Hutton). "not liking bouncers" is basically the same as weakness against fast bowling.

    Hammond could butcher medium pacers, played wonderfully on bad pitches, and could grind out runs against quality non-fast men... but I think he had a SERIOUS weakness against fast bowling. Would have had a hard time in the 70's and 80's (like Amiss, maybe?)

  • testli5504537 on January 11, 2011, 10:46 GMT

    Ananth - I regret the digression and never wish to have the last word. However, it is fun to debate with Abhi on anything to do with SRT, especially after a cracker of a series in SA. Would love such pitches in India!

  • testli5504537 on January 11, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    Abhi - SRT does not have a single innings (in tests) that can be rated as "great" vs McGrath. Vs McGrath, SRT had trouble converting starts into big 100's ... he crossed 40 fully 8 times in 9 tests but had only 2 100's. Vs Steyn, he tends to perish early or score big ... he averages 50+ vs Steyn in 9 tests with 4 classic 100's.

    To be fair, the 1999 series featured one of the best ever bowling attacks from Aussies and SRT did win MoS award in it (which should have gone to McGrath, IMO). I think SA had a terrific attack in this series --- stats of Morkel and Harris don't do justice to them. [[ I suggest you guys move on.. to the next article. Lot of water has flown under the bridge. Certainly no last word is needed !!! Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Alex, It is difficult for me to find a reason for your feelings.

    Actually looking at Steyn recently I would rate him as absolutely the best fast bowler I've seen in the last 20 odd years (Mcgrath being just one among the pack)

    Actually with both Tendulkar and Mcgrath going well Tendulkar has handled him just fine ('99 Aus series and '01 home series)- both of which included around 5 "wrong" decisions(or borderline decisions ,whichever camp you may be in)including a freak dismissal at Mumbai.

    At his best Tendulkar didn't seem to have a real issue with Mcgrath. But Steyn seems to be a different ball game altogther...Even with Tendulkar playing almost at the top of his game ,Steyn more or less has his measure.

    "Averages" of Tendulkar vis a vis Mcgrath are distorted due to several reasons- But a "Tendulkar at his best" vs "Mcgrath at his best" would go to Tendulkar most times....Not so with Steyn.

  • testli5504537 on January 7, 2011, 9:45 GMT

    @Abhi - why do I get the feeling that the real reason why you put Steyn above McGrath is that SRT has played some truly great knocks (and averaged better) vs Steyn as opposed to vs McGrath ... much like what BCL did vs McGrath?

    At any rate, this series underlined my assessment that Kallis is probably the greatest player (or the greatest failure-safe stat investment) to play the game of cricket. He lacks Sobers' natural flair and grace but has put up similar numbers across the board. I would still opt for Sobers but won't feel bad/worried at all if my sworn enemy lands him and I get Kallis instead.

  • testli5504537 on January 4, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    As rgds. ODIs that , ofcourse, is where RPOs are King. Mcgrath and co. were more effective because batsmen simply did not have the luxury of "seeing them off". They HAD to take risks and go for some shots- instead of simply defending or leaving balls a fraction outside off.

    So,In ODIS economy rate should be given a greater weightage. But, i feel, that in Tests strike rate deserves greater weightage. Something Ananth is already applying to his ratings.

  • testli5504537 on January 4, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    Alex, Very valid points: 1) Steyn is perhaps having his best years.And we surely have to wait another 4/5 years before we can place him in the all time pantheon. However, I doubt that Mcgrath ever had a 200 wicket spell where he had a strike rate of 39.

    2) RPO is surely important. However, the best batsmen would probably figure that if they see Mcgrath off (which given his relatively much poorer strike rate they would have a higher probability of doing)...they could then score off the other bowlers. Unless, ofcourse, you had 5 Mcgraths in a team! Then things would get tricky.

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    @shrikanthk & Abhi: In tests, low RPO tends to improve the SR of your bowling partner. So, it is an important team-centric metric. It is quite amazing that Holding had an RPO=2.8 at pace exceeding 140kmh (and even 90mph+) for most of his career.

    1. Steyn is more in the Lillee & Marshall mould. Much less in common with McGrath who was in the Ambrose mould.

    2. Just like Marshall, Steyn is not as effective in ODIs --- Lillee was quite good in ODIs.

    Also, we are probably comparing the stats of Steyn over his best years to those of these legends over their entire careers. No doubt he is an all-time great, but best to give him 4 more years before debating his place in all-time Top 10 etc. I personally like him a lot. URL of my Imran citation on Lillee & Holding: .

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