January 21, 2011

Test batting analysis: by innings (Match and Team)

A detailed stats analysis of top batsmen across team and match innings in Tests
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Don Bradman: highest percentage of team runs across three match innings
Don Bradman: highest percentage of team runs across three match innings © Getty Images

This analysis is based on a request by Alex who wanted me to do an analysis of the Test performances by innings. It is a straight-forward analysis based on raw numbers. Please take this as a break up of the Career performances into lower levels with no adjustment whatsoever. The innings status at entry, match conditions, match location, quality of bowling, quality of opposition team et al are relevant factors but have not been incorporated. Once I open one door, the draught will open all the other doors and I do not want to do that. There are a number of tables shown. These tables are provided with minimal comments. The top-20/10/5 entries are shown in the main article and the complete tables are made available for viewing/downloading.

First the Team innings tables. For the Team innings, the cut-off is 3000 career runs. In addition to the batting average and runs scored tables, I have one on the comparison ratio to the career batting average. This table will indicate how close or away from their career averages have the batsmen performed in different innings and will give an insight into whether the batsman has excelled in setting up or finish the matches. Both are important but we need this insight to get a proper handle on batsmen appreciation.

1.1. Team First innings (Match inns 1/2) analysis: Table ordered by Batting average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Bradman D.G 50 2 4697 97.85 EdeC Weekes 48 0 3429 71.44 Sehwag V 87 1 5917 68.80 Barrington K.F 82 5 5069 65.83 Hutton L 79 4 4905 65.40 Hammond W.R 85 6 5070 64.18 Tendulkar S.R 174 9 10557 63.98 Lara B.C 130 1 8249 63.95 Hobbs J.B 60 1 3750 63.56 Jayawardene D.P.M.D 115 2 7127 63.07 Worrell F.M.M 51 5 2843 61.80 Waugh S.R 166 25 8558 60.70 Samaraweera T.T 61 7 3251 60.20 Sangakkara K.C 93 4 5345 60.06 Mohammad Yousuf 89 5 5043 60.04 Sobers G.St.A 93 7 5109 59.41 Ponting R.T 152 5 8723 59.34 Walcott C.L 44 1 2547 59.23 Sutcliffe H 53 2 3014 59.10 Dravid R 150 8 8329 58.65

This is an important classification since it removes the distinction between first/second and third/fourth innings. Bradman just about misses the 100 mark. Note Sehwag's near-70 average. Also how the two modern greats, Tendulkar and Lara are separated only in the second decimal point. Jayawardene is the other modern batsman to appear in the top-10.

1.2. Team First innings analysis: Table ordered by Runs scored

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Tendulkar S.R 174 9 10557 63.98 Ponting R.T 152 5 8723 59.34 Waugh S.R 166 25 8558 60.70 Dravid R 150 8 8329 58.65 Lara B.C 130 1 8249 63.95 Kallis J.H 145 9 7590 55.81 Jayawardene D.P.M.D 115 2 7127 63.07 Border A.R 154 13 6803 48.25 Javed Miandad 123 8 6504 56.56 Gavaskar S.M 124 3 6159 50.90

Not surprising to see Tendulkar with 10000+ runs atop the table which is dominated by batsmen of recent vintage.

1.3. Team First innings analysis: Table ordered by Ratio to Career average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge   Ratio

Sehwag V 87 1 5917 68.80 128.8% McDonald C.C 47 0 2380 50.64 128.8% Zaheer Abbas 77 6 3977 56.01 125.0% Worrell F.M.M 51 5 2843 61.80 124.9% Atapattu M.S 88 5 4044 48.72 124.9% Hassett A.L 43 1 2435 57.98 124.5% Bell I.R 62 6 3043 54.34 123.1% EdeC Weekes 48 0 3429 71.44 121.9% Lara B.C 130 1 8249 63.95 120.9% Waugh S.R 166 25 8558 60.70 118.9% Adams J.C 53 9 2152 48.91 118.6% ... Amla H.M 51 1 2351 47.02 100.1% Boon D.C 107 4 4491 43.60 99.9% ... Redpath I.R 66 1 2503 38.51 88.6% Mitchell B 42 0 1817 43.26 88.5% Butcher B.F 44 2 1428 34.00 78.9%

It may not be a surprise to see that Sehwag tops the table in first innings performances, scoring at nearly 30% above his career average. Lara clocks in at over 20%. Butcher has had a very average first innings. Amla and Boon are either side of 100%.

2.1. Team Second innings (Match inns 3/4) analysis: Table ordered by Batting average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Bradman D.G 30 8 2299 104.50 Kallis J.H 101 29 4357 60.51 Sobers G.St.A 67 14 2923 55.15 Border A.R 111 31 4371 54.64 Sangakkara K.C 63 8 2899 52.71 Hayden M.L 81 14 3473 51.84 Laxman V.V.S 78 18 3104 51.73 Gavaskar S.M 90 13 3963 51.47 Boycott G 85 20 3319 51.06 Redpath I.R 54 10 2234 50.77 Compton D.C.S 53 12 2020 49.27 Richards I.V.A 61 10 2495 48.92 Haynes D.L 86 24 3030 48.87 Younis Khan 53 8 2195 48.78 Hammond W.R 55 10 2179 48.42 Cook A.N 50 6 2108 47.91 Thorpe G.P 79 23 2659 47.48 Greenidge C.G 77 15 2923 47.15 Inzamam-ul-Haq 82 14 3194 46.97 Crowe M.D 56 11 2098 46.62

Bradman is back on top with a 100+ average. Kallis is the only other batsman with a 60+ average. Sangakkara, Hayden and Laxman are the other modern batsmen in the top-10.

2.2. Team Second innings analysis: Table ordered by Runs scored

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Border A.R 111 31 4371 54.64 Kallis J.H 101 29 4357 60.51 Tendulkar S.R 116 23 4135 44.46 Gavaskar S.M 90 13 3963 51.47 Gooch G.A 97 6 3898 42.84 Dravid R 109 21 3734 42.43 Lara B.C 102 5 3704 38.19 Ponting R.T 107 23 3636 43.29 Hayden M.L 81 14 3473 51.84 Stewart A.J 103 15 3462 39.34

The second innings averages of Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting are significantly lower than the rest of the top modern batsmen.

2.3. Team Second innings analysis: Table ordered by Ratio to Career average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge   Ratio

Butcher B.F 34 4 1676 55.87 129.6% Manjrekar V.L 37 8 1341 46.24 118.2% Redpath I.R 54 10 2234 50.77 116.8% Mitchell B 38 9 1654 57.03 116.7% Haynes D.L 86 24 3030 48.87 115.5% Amarnath M 45 7 1865 49.08 115.5% May P.B.H 40 6 1795 52.79 112.9% Saleem Malik 57 16 1960 47.80 109.4% Laxman V.V.S 78 18 3104 51.73 109.3% Flower A 49 14 1972 56.34 109.3% ... Boon D.C 83 16 2931 43.75 100.2% Amla H.M 39 6 1546 46.85 99.8% ... Zaheer Abbas 47 5 1085 25.83 57.7% Sehwag V 63 5 1777 30.64 57.3% Hassett A.L 26 2 638 26.58 57.1%

We all know about Laxman's second innings exploits. We would expect him to perform above his career average. But who would have thought that Butcher would have a 30% higher performance level in the second innings or that Haynes would have a 15% higher level batting in the second innings. As expected Sehwag almost props up the table, having performed at 57% of his career levels. Zaheer Abbas performed at similar low levels. As mentioned already, Boon and Amla are almost at their career levels in both innings.

For the Match innings 1-2-3, the cut-off is 1000 runs and for the Match innings 4, the cut-off is 500 runs. I have also replaced the average comparison table with one on % of Team score.

3.1. Match First innings analysis: Table ordered by Batting average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Bradman D.G 22 1 2387 113.67 Ponsford W.H 15 1 1148 82.00 Hassett A.L 22 1 1655 78.81 EdeC Weekes 27 0 2068 76.59 Samaraweera T.T 32 3 2126 73.31 Lara B.C 58 1 4000 70.18 Barrington K.F 42 3 2735 70.13 Tendulkar S.R 83 6 5397 70.09 Javed Miandad 60 6 3730 69.07 Leyland M 19 0 1256 66.11 Hutton L 35 1 2232 65.65 Kanhai R.B 44 0 2869 65.20 Walters K.D 37 2 2271 64.89 Walcott C.L 24 0 1541 64.21 Sehwag V 38 1 2330 62.97 Hammond W.R 46 3 2691 62.58 Jones D.M 31 1 1871 62.37 Ponting R.T 84 4 4986 62.33 Waugh S.R 94 16 4855 62.24 Worrell F.M.M 24 3 1302 62.00

Bradman's 110+ average is expected. What is significant is that the two modern greats, Lara and Tendulkar, average over 70. Possibly more relevant is the unfancied Samaraweera's 70+ average.

3.2. Match First innings analysis: Table ordered by Runs scored

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Tendulkar S.R 83 6 5397 70.09 Ponting R.T 84 4 4986 62.33 Waugh S.R 94 16 4855 62.24 Border A.R 87 9 4056 52.00 Lara B.C 58 1 4000 70.18 Dravid R 69 3 3921 59.41 Kallis J.H 70 4 3805 57.65 Javed Miandad 60 6 3730 69.07 Gooch G.A 69 0 3184 46.14 Langer J.L 55 2 3181 60.02

Almost totally filled by modern batsmen, indicating the high number of tests played by them.

3.3. Match First innings analysis: Table ordered by % of Team runs

Batsman             Inns No  Runs TeamRuns %Share

Bradman D.G 22 1 2387 9438 25.3% Lara B.C 58 1 4000 18111 22.1% EdeC Weekes 27 0 2068 9997 20.7% Hassett A.L 22 1 1655 8407 19.7% Ponsford W.H 15 1 1148 6117 18.8%

Bradman's 25+% is in line with his overall career % share while Lara has had a higher share than his career average figure of 20%.


4.1. Match Second innings analysis: Table ordered by Batting average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Bradman D.G 28 1 2310 85.56 Sehwag V 49 0 3587 73.20 Jayawardene D.P.M.D 60 1 4124 69.90 Mohammad Yousuf 47 4 2983 69.37 Sangakkara K.C 46 3 2940 68.37 Hobbs J.B 37 0 2503 67.65 Hammond W.R 39 3 2379 66.08 Chappell G.S 38 2 2378 66.06 Hutton L 44 3 2673 65.20 Bell I.R 26 4 1428 64.91 EdeC Weekes 21 0 1361 64.81 Prince A.G 31 5 1642 63.15 Hussey M.E.K 22 1 1322 62.95 Worrell F.M.M 27 2 1541 61.64 Barrington K.F 40 2 2334 61.42 Sobers G.St.A 37 1 2211 61.42 Gavaskar S.M 63 3 3613 60.22 Gilchrist A.C 47 5 2501 59.55 Lara B.C 72 0 4249 59.01 Waugh S.R 72 9 3703 58.78

Bradman drops well below 100. Note how Bradman is followed with 70+- averages by four modern stalwarts, Sehwag, Jayawardene, Yousuf and Sangakkara.

4.2. Match Second innings analysis: Table ordered by Runs scored

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Tendulkar S.R 91 3 5160 58.64 Dravid R 81 5 4408 58.00 Lara B.C 72 0 4249 59.01 Jayawardene D.P.M.D 60 1 4124 69.90 Kallis J.H 75 5 3785 54.07 Ponting R.T 68 1 3737 55.78 Waugh S.R 72 9 3703 58.78 Gavaskar S.M 63 3 3613 60.22 Sehwag V 49 0 3587 73.20 Richards I.V.A 73 1 3514 48.81

Richards just about gets in the run aggregate table.

4.3. Match Second innings analysis: Table ordered by % of Team runs

Batsman             Inns No  Runs TeamRuns %Share

Bradman D.G 28 1 2310 10513 22.0% Hutton L 44 3 2673 12850 20.8% Hobbs J.B 37 0 2503 12585 19.9% Turner G.M 29 1 1588 8345 19.0% Hammond W.R 39 3 2379 12831 18.5%

5.1. Match Third innings analysis: Table ordered by Batting average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Bradman D.G 15 3 1565 130.42 Kallis J.H 59 15 3128 71.09 May P.B.H 21 3 1225 68.06 Compton D.C.S 31 7 1565 65.21 Border A.R 76 21 3511 63.84 Martyn D.R 25 6 1203 63.32 Walcott C.L 21 4 1067 62.76 Butcher B.F 24 2 1352 61.45 Flower A 38 10 1704 60.86 Saleem Malik 36 11 1512 60.48 Armstrong W.W 27 4 1391 60.48 Amla H.M 22 4 1044 58.00 Sobers G.St.A 48 8 2316 57.90 Laxman V.V.S 47 9 2197 57.82 Sangakkara K.C 42 4 2187 57.55 Amiss D.L 20 2 1002 55.67 Nourse A.D 23 3 1105 55.25 Thorpe G.P 45 11 1870 55.00 Amarnath M 33 5 1525 54.46 Gambhir G 19 0 1033 54.37

Bradman, aided by 3 not out innings, averages a huge 130+, nearly double that of the next batsman in the table. These are the difficult innings and note how Kallis weighs in with an outstanding 70+ average. Martyn. Andy Flower, Amla and Laxman all have 57+ averages.

5.2. Match Third innings analysis: Table ordered by Runs scored

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Border A.R 76 21 3511 63.84 Kallis J.H 59 15 3128 71.09 Gooch G.A 68 2 2777 42.08 Tendulkar S.R 66 8 2764 47.66 Gavaskar S.M 57 4 2565 48.40 Dravid R 59 4 2334 42.44 Inzamam-ul-Haq 51 6 2327 51.71 Stewart A.J 64 9 2326 42.29 Sobers G.St.A 48 8 2316 57.90 Gower D.I 62 9 2287 43.15

Border and Kallis lead, indicating their propensity to score in these difficult innings.

5.3. Match Third innings analysis: Table ordered by % of Team runs

Batsman             Inns No  Runs TeamRuns %Share

Bradman D.G 15 3 1565 5170 30.3% May P.B.H 21 3 1225 5537 22.1% Kallis J.H 59 15 3128 15731 19.9% Nourse A.D 23 3 1105 5570 19.8% Sangakkara K.C 42 4 2187 11142 19.6%

Bradman has scored a phenomenal 30+%. We should not forget that many of the third innings would have been declared. Note Kallis's near 20% share.


6.1. Match Fourth innings analysis: Table ordered by Batting average

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Mitchell B 12 5 629 89.86 Stollmeyer J.B 10 4 518 86.33 Bradman D.G 15 5 734 73.40 Hussey M.E.K 12 4 505 63.12 Hunte C.C 13 4 549 61.00 Boycott G 34 13 1234 58.76 Gavaskar S.M 33 9 1398 58.25 Hobbs J.B 23 6 979 57.59 Younis Khan 20 6 806 57.57 Javed Miandad 22 7 816 54.40 Ponting R.T 39 14 1358 54.32 Sutcliffe H 15 3 644 53.67 Stackpole K.R 19 5 749 53.50 Greenidge C.G 38 12 1383 53.19 Smith G.C 31 6 1322 52.88 Hayden M.L 39 13 1288 49.54 Chappell G.S 25 11 688 49.14 Jayawardene D.P.M.D 27 9 879 48.83 Dexter E.R 16 5 535 48.64 Taylor R.L 11 0 532 48.36

Finally we have an average table in which Bradman has been relegated to third place. He averages a mere mortal level 73+. Mitchell of South Africa and Stollmeyer of West Indies lead the table with 80+ averages. Note Mike Hussey's high average.

6.2. Match Fourth innings analysis: Table ordered by Runs scored

Batsman             Inns No  Runs   Avge

Lara B.C 46 5 1440 35.12 Dravid R 50 17 1400 42.42 Gavaskar S.M 33 9 1398 58.25 Greenidge C.G 38 12 1383 53.19 Atherton M.A 39 6 1375 41.67 Tendulkar S.R 50 15 1371 39.17 Chanderpaul S 41 10 1364 44.00 Ponting R.T 39 14 1358 54.32 Smith G.C 31 6 1322 52.88 Hayden M.L 39 13 1288 49.54

Lara leads the modern list of batsmen. It must be remembered that West Indies, being considerably weak, probably played more fourth innings than the other teams. There were very few times when West Indies had the luxury of innings wins or 9-10 wicket wins.

6.3. Match Fourth innings analysis: Table ordered by % of Team runs

Batsman             Inns No  Runs TeamRuns %Share

Stollmeyer J.B 10 4 518 1419 36.5% Mitchell B 12 5 629 2312 27.2% Greenidge C.G 38 12 1383 5369 25.8% Bradman D.G 15 5 734 2901 25.3% Hunte C.C 13 4 549 2215 24.8%

Stollymeyer scored 36% of the runs. However the cut-off here is 500 runs.

As I have already explained, I have deliberately kept my comments to a minimal level since the article already has 18 tables. Readers can send in their own comments.

To view/down-load the complete Innings performance tables, please click on links given below. Each of these files has three tables.

Team First innings table: please click/right-click here.
Team Second innings table: please click/right-click here.

Match First innings table: please click/right-click here.
Match Second innings table: please click/right-click here.
Match Third innings table: please click/right-click here.
Match Fourth innings table: please click/right-click here.

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

  • Tarun Rajan Mavely on May 25, 2011, 20:17 GMT

    Gr8 post Ananth... a huge fan of ur blog... I have a point to add though. As you rightly pointed out Lara has very few not outs and when u compare 6 NO's of his to 32 odd for Sachin, it significantly skews the analysis.

    I think one way to improve the analysis wud be add some virtual runs to a not out innings(this can be some sort of average)of the player, with will prevent this sort of "Bloating of career Averages" by "not out accumulation". [[ Tarun, somewhere there we have to bite the bullet. There are quite a few methods for doing this. The Extended BA which was my very first article in this blogspace three years back. Or treat only single-digit dismissals as outs or take a mid number between RpI and Batting average. But all of these have the basic problem of derived figures. Batting average is a very important basic measure and is accepted by all. People might be downplaying the importance of this measure since it does not provide them their expected results but no one can say that this not relevant. Ananth: ]]

  • Ramesh Kumar on February 7, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Alex,

    I agree with the insights but that is post facto. If we look at Gambhir or AB across 4 ininngs and clssify them as one type and if these types change over the next years, then we may have a faulty conclusion now. These may change because they approach the every innings the same way. VVS may be a 4th innings champion but he will be trying the same way in other innings as well. I don't see any pattern in his game to conclude otherwise. If we can't see the pattern as it evolves, then concluding somebody's skill or greatness due to variations across innings may be wrong.Ambrose being a demon or tame--we could not associate innings wise skill as it evolved or it could be predicted for later matches. I think Ananth has presented a very interesting set of data. My view is that we need a study on innings pattern in tests before we can conclude on players leave alone assigning special attributes. That be be for someother easy(?) day for Ananth to take it up.

    Ramesh Kumar

  • bks123 on February 6, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    Really appreciate your efforts...Sometime I feel that after sometime people will forget the heroics of sachin and lara in the 90's and early 2000. Only their records and data analysis by others will remain. What is heart breaking is that people will soon forget the banners of 90's "Sachin is India, India is sachin". He gets out and you shut your TV set. Or on the street you ask your friend "Is sachin still there?" I don't know whether this has happened with any other cricketer in the history of cricket. Must have happened with Lara in WI. But data definitely won't show that. You score a century in the 1st innings in a 220 overall score. Then opposition scores 500 and you flop in the 4th innings under huge pressure to save the match and your 4th innings ave sinks...thats the case with Lara throughout his career and for sachin in 90's. No other cricketer in the world has felt the pressure and responsibility that Lara and Sachin (90's) had in their career. Hats off to them.

  • Alex on February 6, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    Ramesh Kumar: Ideally, every batsman should try equally hard and should be equally good in all 4 innings. However, that is clearly not the case. E.g., Ambrose was a demon in the 4th (or whenever he got hit) but a relatively tame bowler in the 3rd. Innings-wise performance breakdown is a coarse filter and can be fine tuned by adding additional measures.

    However, as it is, this article has given meaningful insights: e.g., among the Top 4, Ponting was the best in successful chases, Lara was the best at setting up matches, SRT was the most well-rounded across all types of innings, etc.

  • shrikanthk on February 6, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Wasp: Back in the old days (say 30 years ago), there weren't strong enough feedback mechanisms to incentivise superior umpiring performance. What I suggest is - please use UDRS by all means to evaluate umpires, but not to overrule/review decisions. Each umpire can have an ELO rating of sorts which will be negatively correlated with the number of wrong decisions. The elite umpires will be compensated handsomely and in accordance with their "ELO rating".

    Every rational person responds to the right incentives. And I'm sure umpires are no exception whatever their nationality or sporting biases.

    Right now, the institution of umpiring has been turned into a thankless and anachronistic job due to UDRS! There is practically no incentive whatsoever for anybody to pursue umpiring in the right earnest. Why would anyone want to stand in the sun for 8 hours especially when your performance hardly matters!

  • Yash Rungta on February 6, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    @Bull: I request you to see the 2008 Sydney Test again.. At least 9-10 if not 11 decisions were against India. About 3 of them were I think grassed catches claimed by Aussies and 1 was given out by the Umpire Ponting raising his finger..

    I understand that Clarke bowled well in the 2nd last over and India's tailenders batted very poorly.. but had the umpiring been correct, India would've won that match or at least drawn it..

    In the recent Ind-SA series, about 2 decisions in the 2nd and 3rd match went against SA but if you see the ODIs, about 3-4 decisions went against India(barring Botha's middle of the bat shot given as lbw..well not quite middle..) You won't notice those if you see the wicket's package because most of them were lbws not given..

    I respect Bucknor as a person.. its just that he made a lot of mistakes.. At the end of the career, he just feared people giving out lbw just because when you give a batsmen out wrongly, it attracts a lot of criticism but not otherwise..

  • Waspsting on February 5, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    of the media's reaction.

    The Indian media amuses me (thats just me, I understand what Ananth means by "nauseating"). For example, after the 1st South Africa test, I don't think Charu Sharma went 3 sentences without mentioning the phrase "World's number one side".

    But as far as I can see, the alternative to being nauseating is to let down your teams chances.

    If the Pakistani media had drunk in Inzamam-Ul-Haq the way the Indians did Tendulkar, or the world did Lara... I doubt very SERIOUSLY if he would have been given out on marginal decisions half as often as he was.

    Cricket is dog-eat -dog. Inflammatory or not, this is how it is, and has a LONG HISTORY of being.

    England and Australia would "complain" about bouncers or umpiring, and their players showed "aggression" or "Frustration". Pakistan and India would "whine" about the same things, and be fined their match fee.

    If the media has to be disgustingly biased in order to redress some of this stuff, I say so be it.

  • Waspsting on February 5, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    should have been out LBW to Wasim 6-7 times every time he took first strike, wasn't and went on to pile on the runs.

    I don't want to see a game I love decided by things like this. If glorious uncertainty was the appeal, I'd follow roulette instead.

    Back to the media. If the media kicks up a fuss, it pressures umpires to be careful, because the consequences of messing up are lifted. And it works.

    Bangladesh has had more decisions go against them then i would have thought possible. their media does nothing. Australia and India are on the other side - their media is terrible.

    Wasim and Waqar had more LBW appeals wrongly turned down than anybody, and Inzamam was given out LBW more often than anyone of comparable class (Saqlain Mushtaq even worse). Why? Because there wasn't pressure NOT to be careful - Pakistan (and world) media didn't make a fuss.

    They wouldn't DARE give Lara or Tendulkar out when in doubt because (continued)

  • Waspsting on February 5, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    Must respectfully disagree with Shrikanthk and Ananth. I want to see the RIGHT decisions made - thats all - I could care less about the umpire as a romantic figure. [[ WS, You are confusing me with some one else. I positively WANT UDRS to be introduced. Ananth: ]]

    WG Grace, after being given out, once told the umpire - "you see the crowd? they've come to watch me bat, not to watch thee umpire". Amusing as that is - would anyone disagree?

    Ananth might remember the "dark ages" - when every country's umpires bar (possibly) England would cheat like there was no tomorrow for their team.

    I've seen Javed Miandad given out caught behind in Australia when the ball missed the bat by about a foot, and only the gulley fielder made a funny noise for an appeal. I've seen Inzamam given out LBW from right arm over the wicket bowler to an off cutter and you could see the 3 stumps to HIS RIGHT (and that was a neutral umpire, if memory serves me correctly). I've seen Pakistan bowl England out when every ball of the last session should have been a no-ball. Player of the series Michael Slater (cont)

  • Ramesh Kumar on February 5, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    Ananth,

    Back on the main topic--I have been following cricket from early 70s. If I see the match as it evolves, I am not able to see any pattern or logic of batsmen's propensity to score more in one of the four innings. I see all batsmen try to score in every innings and they score or fail randomly. The method of dismissal is also random and I am not able to conclude on batsmen's skill based on state of match or pitch conditions. I am limiting my observation to some of the all time greats. So I am not able to match cricketing sense to the possible inferences from your data. One possible option is to look at emerging players and their figures and observe the progression over the next two years and see whether they really fall into any pattern. [[ Ramesh Much as I want to continue the Test match related work, my time for the next few weeks is going to be on ODIs and WC. I will probably do the piece on Team Strengths, that is all. Ananth: ]]

  • Tarun Rajan Mavely on May 25, 2011, 20:17 GMT

    Gr8 post Ananth... a huge fan of ur blog... I have a point to add though. As you rightly pointed out Lara has very few not outs and when u compare 6 NO's of his to 32 odd for Sachin, it significantly skews the analysis.

    I think one way to improve the analysis wud be add some virtual runs to a not out innings(this can be some sort of average)of the player, with will prevent this sort of "Bloating of career Averages" by "not out accumulation". [[ Tarun, somewhere there we have to bite the bullet. There are quite a few methods for doing this. The Extended BA which was my very first article in this blogspace three years back. Or treat only single-digit dismissals as outs or take a mid number between RpI and Batting average. But all of these have the basic problem of derived figures. Batting average is a very important basic measure and is accepted by all. People might be downplaying the importance of this measure since it does not provide them their expected results but no one can say that this not relevant. Ananth: ]]

  • Ramesh Kumar on February 7, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Alex,

    I agree with the insights but that is post facto. If we look at Gambhir or AB across 4 ininngs and clssify them as one type and if these types change over the next years, then we may have a faulty conclusion now. These may change because they approach the every innings the same way. VVS may be a 4th innings champion but he will be trying the same way in other innings as well. I don't see any pattern in his game to conclude otherwise. If we can't see the pattern as it evolves, then concluding somebody's skill or greatness due to variations across innings may be wrong.Ambrose being a demon or tame--we could not associate innings wise skill as it evolved or it could be predicted for later matches. I think Ananth has presented a very interesting set of data. My view is that we need a study on innings pattern in tests before we can conclude on players leave alone assigning special attributes. That be be for someother easy(?) day for Ananth to take it up.

    Ramesh Kumar

  • bks123 on February 6, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    Really appreciate your efforts...Sometime I feel that after sometime people will forget the heroics of sachin and lara in the 90's and early 2000. Only their records and data analysis by others will remain. What is heart breaking is that people will soon forget the banners of 90's "Sachin is India, India is sachin". He gets out and you shut your TV set. Or on the street you ask your friend "Is sachin still there?" I don't know whether this has happened with any other cricketer in the history of cricket. Must have happened with Lara in WI. But data definitely won't show that. You score a century in the 1st innings in a 220 overall score. Then opposition scores 500 and you flop in the 4th innings under huge pressure to save the match and your 4th innings ave sinks...thats the case with Lara throughout his career and for sachin in 90's. No other cricketer in the world has felt the pressure and responsibility that Lara and Sachin (90's) had in their career. Hats off to them.

  • Alex on February 6, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    Ramesh Kumar: Ideally, every batsman should try equally hard and should be equally good in all 4 innings. However, that is clearly not the case. E.g., Ambrose was a demon in the 4th (or whenever he got hit) but a relatively tame bowler in the 3rd. Innings-wise performance breakdown is a coarse filter and can be fine tuned by adding additional measures.

    However, as it is, this article has given meaningful insights: e.g., among the Top 4, Ponting was the best in successful chases, Lara was the best at setting up matches, SRT was the most well-rounded across all types of innings, etc.

  • shrikanthk on February 6, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Wasp: Back in the old days (say 30 years ago), there weren't strong enough feedback mechanisms to incentivise superior umpiring performance. What I suggest is - please use UDRS by all means to evaluate umpires, but not to overrule/review decisions. Each umpire can have an ELO rating of sorts which will be negatively correlated with the number of wrong decisions. The elite umpires will be compensated handsomely and in accordance with their "ELO rating".

    Every rational person responds to the right incentives. And I'm sure umpires are no exception whatever their nationality or sporting biases.

    Right now, the institution of umpiring has been turned into a thankless and anachronistic job due to UDRS! There is practically no incentive whatsoever for anybody to pursue umpiring in the right earnest. Why would anyone want to stand in the sun for 8 hours especially when your performance hardly matters!

  • Yash Rungta on February 6, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    @Bull: I request you to see the 2008 Sydney Test again.. At least 9-10 if not 11 decisions were against India. About 3 of them were I think grassed catches claimed by Aussies and 1 was given out by the Umpire Ponting raising his finger..

    I understand that Clarke bowled well in the 2nd last over and India's tailenders batted very poorly.. but had the umpiring been correct, India would've won that match or at least drawn it..

    In the recent Ind-SA series, about 2 decisions in the 2nd and 3rd match went against SA but if you see the ODIs, about 3-4 decisions went against India(barring Botha's middle of the bat shot given as lbw..well not quite middle..) You won't notice those if you see the wicket's package because most of them were lbws not given..

    I respect Bucknor as a person.. its just that he made a lot of mistakes.. At the end of the career, he just feared people giving out lbw just because when you give a batsmen out wrongly, it attracts a lot of criticism but not otherwise..

  • Waspsting on February 5, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    of the media's reaction.

    The Indian media amuses me (thats just me, I understand what Ananth means by "nauseating"). For example, after the 1st South Africa test, I don't think Charu Sharma went 3 sentences without mentioning the phrase "World's number one side".

    But as far as I can see, the alternative to being nauseating is to let down your teams chances.

    If the Pakistani media had drunk in Inzamam-Ul-Haq the way the Indians did Tendulkar, or the world did Lara... I doubt very SERIOUSLY if he would have been given out on marginal decisions half as often as he was.

    Cricket is dog-eat -dog. Inflammatory or not, this is how it is, and has a LONG HISTORY of being.

    England and Australia would "complain" about bouncers or umpiring, and their players showed "aggression" or "Frustration". Pakistan and India would "whine" about the same things, and be fined their match fee.

    If the media has to be disgustingly biased in order to redress some of this stuff, I say so be it.

  • Waspsting on February 5, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    should have been out LBW to Wasim 6-7 times every time he took first strike, wasn't and went on to pile on the runs.

    I don't want to see a game I love decided by things like this. If glorious uncertainty was the appeal, I'd follow roulette instead.

    Back to the media. If the media kicks up a fuss, it pressures umpires to be careful, because the consequences of messing up are lifted. And it works.

    Bangladesh has had more decisions go against them then i would have thought possible. their media does nothing. Australia and India are on the other side - their media is terrible.

    Wasim and Waqar had more LBW appeals wrongly turned down than anybody, and Inzamam was given out LBW more often than anyone of comparable class (Saqlain Mushtaq even worse). Why? Because there wasn't pressure NOT to be careful - Pakistan (and world) media didn't make a fuss.

    They wouldn't DARE give Lara or Tendulkar out when in doubt because (continued)

  • Waspsting on February 5, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    Must respectfully disagree with Shrikanthk and Ananth. I want to see the RIGHT decisions made - thats all - I could care less about the umpire as a romantic figure. [[ WS, You are confusing me with some one else. I positively WANT UDRS to be introduced. Ananth: ]]

    WG Grace, after being given out, once told the umpire - "you see the crowd? they've come to watch me bat, not to watch thee umpire". Amusing as that is - would anyone disagree?

    Ananth might remember the "dark ages" - when every country's umpires bar (possibly) England would cheat like there was no tomorrow for their team.

    I've seen Javed Miandad given out caught behind in Australia when the ball missed the bat by about a foot, and only the gulley fielder made a funny noise for an appeal. I've seen Inzamam given out LBW from right arm over the wicket bowler to an off cutter and you could see the 3 stumps to HIS RIGHT (and that was a neutral umpire, if memory serves me correctly). I've seen Pakistan bowl England out when every ball of the last session should have been a no-ball. Player of the series Michael Slater (cont)

  • Ramesh Kumar on February 5, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    Ananth,

    Back on the main topic--I have been following cricket from early 70s. If I see the match as it evolves, I am not able to see any pattern or logic of batsmen's propensity to score more in one of the four innings. I see all batsmen try to score in every innings and they score or fail randomly. The method of dismissal is also random and I am not able to conclude on batsmen's skill based on state of match or pitch conditions. I am limiting my observation to some of the all time greats. So I am not able to match cricketing sense to the possible inferences from your data. One possible option is to look at emerging players and their figures and observe the progression over the next two years and see whether they really fall into any pattern. [[ Ramesh Much as I want to continue the Test match related work, my time for the next few weeks is going to be on ODIs and WC. I will probably do the piece on Team Strengths, that is all. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on February 5, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    Ananth: It's not a question of being old fashioned or nostalgic. It's about weighing costs against benefits.

    Firstly, technology slows down the game considerably. Secondly, it diminishes the role of an umpire to almost insignificant proportions. I believe umpiring to be a serious vocation demanding top performance under pressure. One mustn't reduce the role to a sinecure one of just standing beneath the sun for 8 hrs. An umpire ought to be as much a sportsman as a batsman or a bowler! Imagine a world where each top umpire has a fan following! That can happen only if you take technology out of the equation altogether.

    I have always been opposed to change for the sake of change. I'm strongly in favour of helmets and covered pitches for instance. Because in those cases, the positives of the enforced change clearly outweigh the negatives. But in the case of technology, the negatives loom large.

  • shrikanthk on February 5, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    Here's my take on the debate

    "Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties". The outcomes in this game are influenced by luck to a far greater extent than most ball games. That's why it is often said that playing cricket is a character-building exercise. It teaches you to accept stoically the quirks of fate and go on with the game.

    A great batsman like Tendulkar may get out first ball and then may have to endure watching from the dressing room lesser players like a Raina or a Yuvraj score a hundred while getting beaten twice every over!! That's what makes cricket such a fascinating and fundamentally unfair and amoral game! One must accept it as it is!

    UDRS is NOT going to make the game of cricket any less uncertain or less amoral! What it does best is slow down the game!

    The most important thing ofcourse is to have truly neutral umpires. Leave the rest to God and hope that luck evens out as it invariably will. I would get rid of 3rd umpires altogether, even for run-out decisions. [[ Heartening (!!!) to see a heart of my age beating in a youngster. You are one incorrigible oldie !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 5, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    Obviously even other Elite umpires such as Shepherd , Koertzen, Taufel etc all have their share of errors- but you never sensed any bias. Unfortunately one cannot quite say the same about Bucknor- at least as far as I am concerned.

    In actual fact, the Sydney fiasco was the "last straw". If you recall, there was the other umpire who too made some errors. But not much of a ruckus was made about him. Bucknor, gentleman though he may be, has somehow not felt right for a long time. And ,as we know, the Indian players too do not have many pleasant memories of him even off the field for a long while. But diplomacy requires them to be somewhat tight lipped,unlike the media.

  • Abhi on February 5, 2011, 3:10 GMT

    Unfortunately, I too felt a certain unease when Bucknor was umpiring India matches. I am not quite sure why it is so... Perhaps due to more than a few shockers against Tendulkar, His mocking Dravid (when Dravid was Indian captain),His inexplicable refusal to refer to the third umpire for some stumpings etc etc...

    And it has absolutely nothing to do with the Indian media. It is just a gut feeling I've had as regards Bucknor for quite a while. [[ I myself felt that Bucknor was past his sell-by date. It was the manner of dismissal which was wrong. I also feel that the umpires are in need of help in these high-pressure times. Maybe the best way to implement UDRS is for the players to be left out and let the three umpires use it. If required the third umpires role should be increased to warn possible problems on his own. I have more problems with "given out when a batsman was not" as against "given not out when he was". Although a clear dismissal like a nick to the keeper should be detected instantly and taken action on. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on February 5, 2011, 1:45 GMT

    @Yash Rungta. 11 incorrect decisions against India in that 1 match? You must be joking. Sure, some very important one`s went Australia`s way, as they did for India in Perth. The constant claims of Bucknor/Australia cheating, years after the event, are pathetic. What a lot of Indian fans forgot is that India lost that match primarily because of an inexplicable collapse against a part-time off spinner. [[ That is a valid point. Indain late order failed against Clarke. These batsmen let down Kumble and India and the blame goes to Bucknor. Let me also say that today's Indian late-order batsmen seem to have steel and would not let it happen. Ananth: ]] More to the point, when numerous shocking decisions go India`s way, as in the recent 2nd test against South Africa, the silence is absolutely deafening. To their credit, the South Africans made little of it, and accepted that they lost the match fair and square. Indian fans, and the appalling media, could learn something from that. Grow up and get over it. [[ That also is true. And the Indian media, especially the visual one, plays its part. The real problem is that success in sports in India is equated to success in Cricket. Hence the frenzy. We ignore achievements in other sports. When I mention Vishvanathan Anand, I am told that Chess is not sport. As if one could win three World titles across 10 years by reading a few books and walking on to the table. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 4, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    True.But equally true is that the elite sportsmen have a "feel" for their sport,ball trajectory,angles etc etc that the technicians cannot possibly have. So,as with any field(say flight or ship handling or any number of tech fields) the correct way to go about it is a two way feedback for those actually involved to get the design right. Not ,simply thrusting it on them with a " What do you know? We are Masters degree holders in this stuff".

    So, the correct way to do it is to have panel sit down with the elite sportsmen AND the technicians to sort out the issue. If a Tendulkar or Federer say they have reservations about the system- what harm does it do to have some meetings and thrash out the issue? [[ Yes I will agree with what all you say. What is required is for the top players to come out with a statement outlining their objections, BCCI/ICC to listen to them, steps put in place to allay these concerns and AGREE ON, SAY, 1 JUNE AS RE-LAUNCH OF UDRS. Ponting has his reservations so does Vettori. But they still accept it and look for the 2-3% improvements. India will get into WCs blind so far as UDRS is concerned. Also why stop UDRS in away tours also. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 4, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    Ananth - I am about the same age as SRT and was worried when he dropped out after 10th standard. I myself stopped earning degrees at age 30 and still think he is a lot wiser than me. Having said that, he always has had little to say that is intellectually arresting (unlike Don/Ponting/Waugh/Dravid/Kumble) and his reservation on UDRS is inexplicable. Still, it is the BCCI's decision and not his.

    SRT basically has overcome a lack of "conventional intellect" through an extraordinarily great value system and through 100% 24X7 dedication to his work where he happened to inherit a talent from up above. [[ It might be BCCI's decision. However it is strongly influenced by the negative sentiments expressed by the two key players. And the opposition is not specific. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on February 4, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    re: Bucknor - he made mistakes, like all umpires do, but my impression was that a disproportionate number of them tended to go against India and Pakistan.

    re: Indian media - yes they overdo it, but I'm not sure that the effects of NOT doing so would be good for Indian cricket. Pakistan media are understated - they don't say much about umpiring (Slater was probably out LBW 6 or 7 times at the start of every innings in a series in which he made a ton of runs). Making a fuss about this type of stuff, makes an issue of it, and helps change it. The closest Pakistan came to doing something was Bob Woolmer saying that he wanted the Pakistanis to learn how to appeal as effectively as their opponents! (A polite way of saying all the umpiring went against Pakistan) - and i think he was fined for that comment! Indian media is more pro-active - obnoxious even, but if the alternative is THAT... then well, I can't find it in myself to condemn it. Thats reality. [[ I can only conclude that you have not had the singular pleasure of moving through the Indian News Tv channels recently. Only one word. Nauseating. The headline is "Lara/Ganguly not bought" in 27 channels in 3' high letters. Great insult to two of the greatest players produced by their respectivel countries. As if they are Jersey cows???. And "Umpire cheats/robs India" when a 50-50 lbw decision has gone awry. Do you know how many people have gone off watching Tv news channels. The number is growing by the millions. Even channels which started off differently, like Sardesai's CNN-IBN and NewsX have joined the eyeball-seekers-by-hook-or-crook band. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 4, 2011, 11:49 GMT

    In 2007: Federer fears he is fighting a losing battle and fully expects the system to remain at Wimbledon and it will be used at next month's US Open and again in Australia next year.

    Federer said: "What can I say? If I'm going to go against it, people will always say he doesn't agree whatsoever, I don't know how they developed this machine, if they took all possibilities into account, like the way the ball travels, the way it bounces, 3D, the whole thing.

    "I told the umpire I was happy Nadal was going to challenge because I knew the ball was out. Then to see that it was in on a 30-All point, which was such a huge point, I was shocked, of course, that it was inside."

    etc, etc,etc

    If the Greatest Modern day Tennis player AND the Greatest Modern day batsmen have reservations about Hawk eye...perhaps it is better for the technicians involved to address them directly with detailed enquiries and feedback- instead of us arm chair critics, goggling at the TV with a beer in hand and shouting "Cmon Sachin" or “C’mon Roger”. [[ The only difference is that whatever Federer says is a post-match comment. He knows that the system is there to stay. He is expressing his frustration. On the other hand Tendulkar's words are like gospel or veda in India. He knows that his words would have an influence on the way BCCI will move and consequently ICC. I have already said that the Hawkeye is not perfect. But to say that either we need a 100% system or not at all is wrong, especially by the players with REAL influence.That is an ostrich-like stance. Unfortunately the question comes around to the spineless state of ICC. I think Dhoni and Tendulkar would do the world of cricket a lot of good accepting the system and working to improve it by using their strong influence. I also suggest please do not bring in the armchair critic phrase into this. I may have 0.001% (even that doubtful) knowledge of playing cricket as compared to the two great cricketers but can assure you that I (or for that matter you or Alex) would have far more knowledge of technology or analysis than the two greats. It is possible that all or some of us have Master's degrees in Engineering and please do not undersell ourselves. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on February 4, 2011, 8:36 GMT

    I realise that further discussion of UDRS is taking things off topic, but a few good points have been raised here.

    I would agree with Ananth that Hawkeye trajectories often seem a bit dodgy, however the decisions that really used to grate were when balls pitched outside leg, or there was an inside edge. The new technology deals with these well.

    re. the guarantee of 100% accuracy, as demanded by Dhoni and Tendulkar, it`s always seemed a completely spurious argument to me. Surely the important thing is if decisions are more accurate, more often, which they obviously are. ICC should have implememted it across the board long before now.

    Looking forward to a great World Cup,well at least an exciting final week or so!

    cheers all

  • Yash Rungta on February 4, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    Whenever people say that a particular team lost/win because of umpiring decisions, I just don't pay attention.

    But with Bucknor, in both 2004 and 2008 Sydney Tests, it was horrible. Specially in 2008. Bucknor started a trend of giving batsmen 'not out' simply because if you give a batsmen out wrongly, it creates a huge roar but if you give a batsmen not out wrongly, it doesn't get talked in the circles as much...

    There were I think 12 decisions wrongly given in the Sydney Test 2008 and only 1 was in favour of India... Most of them by Bucknor..

    Talking about UDRS, I quite like it. However, I've seen many occassions where I don't trust Hawk-eye.. For eg., it was I think C'wood's wicket against Mitchell Johnson in the recent Ashes. The ball seemed be going outside the off stump with ease. Umpire gave 'not out'. Aussies referred and somehow hawk-eye managed to show that the ball was hitting the off stump.. But on most occasions, especially dismissals not involving LBW, it's been good.

  • Ramesh Kumar on February 3, 2011, 5:15 GMT

    Excellent analysis and incisive comments. Forced to join in to comment due to the latest postings. 1. Umpire Bucknor-His exit was done with little grace by ICC. They should have done better. But it is fair to say that his skills were diminishing. 2. UDRS-Indians mesed up the use of UDRS in Srilankan series-education would help. In my view, however the LBW issues, esp the trajectory & bounce are flawed and as a fan, I would not want UDRS to decide on LBWs. I agree with the position that either we implement UDRS everywhere or withdraw it for everybody and that should be ICC decsion and not individual boards. 3. 1 billion people is not interested in Cricket and most of them have bigger issues. SRT carrying the burden of 1B people is more of a figurative speech. But Cricket following is huge.Indians have strong opinions on everything and media anchors are terrible. Given that SRT's mental balance is extraordinary 4. Commentators-Terrible in India, but others are average as well Ramesh [[ Ramesh 1. The Hawkeye trajectories are dicey. However at least these show the pitching clearly. The real use of technology should be in detecting the bat touching the ball for lbw and caught decisions. Hotspot is almost always correct. 2. Federer does not like player reviews. In fact he also uses it poorly. But never once has he said that it should not be used. Why should Dhoni or Tendulkar have any say in this. The use of UDRS in the recent Australia-England matches was quite effective. And we certainly could have used UDRS in South Africa. The results might be the same. However a few more decisions could have been correct. 3. Balanced reporting has gone for a toss. However still print media (barring some sensationalist papers) and the web media are normally fine. Looks like the World Cup should mostly be seen, not heard !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 2, 2011, 17:05 GMT

    Ananth - thanks for a strong comment on the India media. Always mediocre, barring some shining examples, it has now degenerated into sensationalist tabloid stuff. To me, even Manjarekar is biased. Very few (e.g., Akash Chopra) have something good to say sans any frills. [[ Manjrekar is better than most, that is all. I have lot of time for Akash. Ananth: ]]

    It is sickening to hear the media claims of SRT shouldering expectations of 1 billion Indians when we all know that the majority of Indians face too many real-life problems for bare minimum living to spare any such thought for any cricketer. Why does the media seek quotes from Viswanathan Anand on Bharat Ratna for SRT when it is really Anand who should be promoted for that award? [[ And what could Anand have said, other than a generic "yes he deserves". Ultimately in all this media hype what has kept Tendulkar afloat is his innate great behaviour and simplicity, of course added to his wonderful skills. So much analysis, including mine: I accept, on Cricket. One analysis, just on the average number of farmer suicides per day, covered by Mr.Pawar's "home" ministry, would swamp all these into irrelevance. I am not questioning the cricketers, but the media, especially the visual one. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on February 2, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    @Yash Rungta, cheap and unnecessary slur on a very good umpire and one of cricket`s gentlemen. I watched 3 days of that test live, you read about it in some of the inflammatory Indian press did you? [[ Boll I did not want to respond to Yash's comments since that would have launched a flurry of protests. However i have the right to respond to your comments. First I think Bucknor was villified and crucified. He was a gentleman and did not deserve that type of exit. It was bullying at its worst. No other board could have achieved that. They all share the little bit of the clout factor left. I agree that there were crucial decisions against India at Sydney and if one takes only that test only it might very well be that more decisions were against India. However I can say with certainty that, over the series, the decisions evened out as almost always happens. Of course if a batsman gets a (wrong) but favourable decision at 10 and goes on to score 150 or if another batsman gets the same (wrong) but favourable decision at 140 and goes on to score 150, the impact is quite different. However that is the fall of the dice. The problem is the Indian media and BCCI. The Indian media is awful. During the recent Indian tour of SA, at one point, the main headline in almost all the TV channels was "Umpire cheats India". However if the decision goes against the other team, there is deafening silence.Same thing applies to most commentators. Only Sanjay Manjrekar is free of this bias.I shudder to think what is going to hapopen at the World Cup. At Sydney there was no UDRS. But why does not BCCI make all efforts to implement UDRS now. Unfortunately the two players who matter most, Dhoni and Tendulkar do not want UDRS, possibly because of India's bad experience at handling UDRS in 2008 at Sri Lanka. Why does the ICC not make it compulsory from, say, 1 June. Why should the players influence this decision. They should not have any say in this matter. Conveniently Dhoni wants 100% guarantee. The only thing that is 100% guaranteed in life is death. Nothing else. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on February 2, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Wasp: There really is no objective measure of Aggressive intent besides the Strike rate.

    In Tendulkar's case, his strike rates on his first 3 overseas tours (Pak, Nzl and Eng) are comparable to his strike rates over the past year.

    We often tend to romanticise the youth of great batsmen at the expense of their twilight years. Take for instance Bradman. Yes, he may not have been a very quick scorer in 1948. But he was just as defensive even in his first series against England in '28-29. Something which is seldom mentioned.

    Also, I think opposing teams adopt more defensive tactics against established great batsmen as opposed to young promising rookies. Eg: Bedser and Co in '48 were more conservative against Bradman than Larwood and Co in 1930.

    Same is true with Tendulkar. Moreover, I believe captains in general have become more conservative in their field placings over the past 20 years. (This is purely a personal observation)

  • Yash Rungta on February 2, 2011, 3:03 GMT

    "Who else could score 300 runs in a match without being dismissed against the best team in the world and while in bad form?" - Waspsting

    Hey, you could also add 'and that too without playing one of his heavily scoring shots, the cover drive'..this was in Sydney 2004 that Sachin scored 241 not out in the 1st inningsand about 60* in the 2nd innings.. Sadly, Bucknor earned the Aussies a draw.

  • Alex on February 2, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    Wapsting & srikanthk: If Sachin needs to be more passive to score a big 100 every other test, I will personally supply Tulasi tea to him.

    IMO, S Waugh is a Top 5 batsman in tests over 1985-2010. Many agree (incl. Dravid, SRT, Donald, & McGrath). We all tend to keep a short memory but Kallis of the last 10-12 yrs in tests is version 1.1 of S Waugh over '93-'04: 128 tests, 8800 runs, ave=56.4, 28 100's. Gooch & Lloyd really got better with age: not attractive but solid & crucial. Also, VVS is only 18 months younger than SRT but is still a sight for Gods.

  • Waspsting on February 2, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    @Alex - we're going to disagree on this - and thats fine. your argument is solid, i trust your stats. Neither of us are right or wrong - just different perceptions, I guess.

    To my eyes, the missing piece is AGGRESIVE intent. Tendulkar of old looked to dominate as a rule (and sometimes just went with the flow - even Richards, Sehwag did that time to time). Now he looks to me just to play (and sometimes he dominates - even Kallis and Dravid do that from time to time)

    This guys used to hope down the track to Shane Warne and hit him over the top for 4s and 6s. Now he looks for singles against Ashley Giles from the crease.

    By contrast, I saw no difference in Brian Lara's batting at all at the end. He was just what he had been always. But something about Tendulkar... just looks more passive now. If we had full stats for ball faced throughout his career, I guess we could clear it up statistically.

    Cheers! [[ WS, that info is available. He faced 27123 balls for 14692 runs. This splits as 22879 balls for 12557 runs (actual data) and 4244 balls for 2135 runs (extrapolated). Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on February 1, 2011, 18:05 GMT

    Alex: I did add the qualifier "of comparable class" in the previous comment. I agree it is a tad subjective. But that explains the non-mention of Lloyd, Waugh and Gooch in that comment.

    Also, I was considering batsmen after they turned 37. Could have mentioned Lara, but he retired at that age.

    By "free" and "attractive", I am essentially referring to the comfort exuded at the crease both in defence and strokeplay. Personally, I can still only think of two batsmen who have approached Tendulkar in this regard at the age of 38 - Bradman and Gavaskar. And maybe Sobers (since I have little idea of how well he batted at that age). Feel free to add.

  • agni on February 1, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    Ananth , I keep coming back to your articles just to enjoy the quality of comments, the strict moderation (just like in the blog of the famous journalist Prem Panicker) and your liberal replies either to put down a errant commenter or while responding to an outstanding comment have not only improved the comment quality but also add value to the whole article and immensely increase the reader enjoyment(in my case any way!!!) A BIG THANK YOU and keep coming up with your analyses.. Agni [[ Thanks for the kind words. The readers maketh the column. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 1, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Ananth and Gerry: I think Gerry's Jan 31 8:41AM post might have a point if we include the playing conditions in defining a strong/weak team. But it has pitfalls: Consider Test #1 and #3 of the recent Ind vs SA series. Should we conclude that SA in Test #1 was a stronger team than SA in Test #3? I like to think that SA was at the same strength in both tests. It is just that India batted better in the 3rd test.

    I think one should use these metrics: a. Adj_average = 0.5*(career average + average over the previous 3 tests). b. Likewise for Adj_wkts/match and Adj_balls-faced/innings.

    Now, if the team has more than one bowler taking enough wkts/match at bowling ave less than, say, 32, its attack should not be considered weak. If it has more than 4 batsmen consuming enough balls/innings with average greater than, say, 40, its batting should not be considered weak. Any further classification might possibly be like splitting hair.

  • Alex on February 1, 2011, 0:23 GMT

    Ananth & srikanthk: I don't know what shrikanthk means by "attractive" and "free" but quite a few batsmen have done well in late 30's: Lara, Gooch, Lloyd, Sobers, S Waugh, etc. Over '03-'06, Lara (age 34-37) was simply sensational in test cricket.

    I have requested Ananth for an article on batsmen past age 34 (or 35). He has enough on his plate but perhaps later when he has time on his hands?

  • shrikanthk on January 31, 2011, 19:18 GMT

    since there is not much difference between Teldulkar's stats and those of Brian Lara, Ponting and Kallis, that by induction, all 4 of them are very close to Bradman and hence head and shoulders above all other post war batsmen.

    This just goes to show how contemporary-centric we are! You forgot Sobers! A batsman with superior claims to being the greatest of post War batsmen than perhaps anybody else! Can't think of anybody who is closer to Bradman than Sobers!

    We are all guilty of underrating Sobers the batsman at the expense of Sobers the Allrounder.

    None of the four players you mentioned have dominated other batsmen of the current era the way Sobers did in the sixties. He was head and shoulders above everybody he played with or against! Barrington came close statistically, but not in any other respect. Yes, Pollock was around. But he didn't play in enough tests for us to be sure.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 31, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    Alex, - my hypothesis was that there are strong teams and there are weak teams. The weak teams will 1) have a higher contribution of runs scored AGAINST in the match 1/2 innings, relative to match 3/4 innings and 2) batsmen would have scored at a higher average against these teams, and by taking the intersection of the two rankings, it can be unambigously established as to who these teams are, on a statistical average basis. Your depiction agrees approached this from a slightly different angle, but is in rough agreement. In parallel, i noted that the same principle applies in bowling - Hadlee, took 8% of his wickets in the 4th innings, though at an absurd average of 15, but McGrath took 18% of his wickets in the 4th innings. Equally devastating fast bowlers, but McGrath played for a significantly stronger team, relative to Hadlee. I have not checked this out for other players, bastmen and bowlers, but i am quite confident that this trend must be consistent.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 31, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    1) i am not trying to run Tendulkar down, but for those of us who have watched cricket for a bit longer (mid-70s), it is a bit tough to accept that since there is not much difference between Teldulkar's stats and those of Brian Lara, Ponting and Kallis, that by induction, all 4 of them are very close to Bradman and hence head and shoulders above all other post war batsmen. It tempts you to look at fast bowling resources, and lo and behold, it is not 1990-2010 but 1970-1990, which was the golden age. So the current crop is very very good, but no clear case to say that the earlier vintage was deficient. 2) I don't subscribe to splitting averages into win/loss/draw tests. Tendulkar had a great series in SA now, without winning any match. Doesn't diminish his contribution one bit. But for is cape town 146, we would have lost 3) Srikant has omitted 1975-76, where Richards scored 3 centuries 4) WI losing against spin at times is due to their not having a spinner than mere batting defects

  • Alex on January 31, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    Waspsting: Pl look up SRT's SR in each of his 280 test innings. Even in Aus '92, his 148* (SCG) had SR=60 while the 116 (Perth) had SR=64 ... it was great batting but, from a SR standpoint, Viv/Lara/Sehwag at their destructive best were far superior.

    IMO, the myth of SRT's aggression in tests is because:

    1. He was only 18 in '92 and only 25 in '98. So, people naturally expected him to be more destructive than he actually was. His '98 back injury was a big set-back ... it cost him 2 money shots for good: (1) front foot pull and (2) lofted cover drive (either off front or off back).

    2. For Indians, used to their batsmen being dictated terms by fast bowlers, SRT was a revealation and got assigned a few positive attributes which he actually didn't display.

    3. Until '96, SRT primarily hit full flowing drives: very few punches & checked drives (albeit they debuted vs Eng '93) unlike now. These shots look harmless and mask an aggressive streak which is still present in abundance.

  • shrikanthk on January 30, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    Hobbs was quite old by then

    Yes. But he still did play one of his best innings on a bad wicket at the MCG. Recently read a 1928 piece by Clem Hill (Trumper's left handed contemporary) who claimed then that Hobbs is still the best batsman in the world on slower turners, but not quite as good on fast wickets.

    But yes, I do wonder how well those batsmen would've fared under the new LBW rule.

    Btw, I think Sachin today is playing as attractive a brand of cricket as any batsman ever did at his age. I can personally think of only two batsmen of comparable class who batted as freely as Sachin in their late 30s - Bradman and to a lesser extent Gavaskar (who played quite aggressively during his last few years). Richards, Hammond, Headley all struggled in their twilight years. Hobbs was a rather defensive bat post WWI. So was Hutton post WWII. Don't know enough about Sobers' batting post 1972 to make a remark. Chappell was quite attractive till the end, but a little younger than Sachin.

  • Alex on January 30, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    Gerry: Abhi has already responded to you but here is the innings-wise breakdown of SRT vs a Bradmanesque Murali (i.e., after 1995):

    SRT overall [14 tests]: (41,50,46,8) ... ave=43 SRT in losses [3]: (6,18,36,-) ... ave=25 SRT in wins [5]: (44,53,22,-) ... ave=37 SRT in draws [6]: (46,81,infinite,8) ... ave=65

    Like you, Sangakkara --- before the start of '09 Ind vs SL --- claimed that SRT had not mastered Murali & added that only Lara did so. Big mistake ... SRT quietly averaged 65 vs Murali over the next 4 tests (& then Murali retired) while Sehwag gave Murali the worst caning he ever recd. Sehwag's stats vs Murali:

    9 tests, 1031 runs, ave=74, 4 100's (incl. 2 defining double hundreds).

    Warne vs SRT ('98), Warne vs Lara ('99), and Murali vs Lara ('01 & '03) are now folk-tale materials on the domination of the world's best spinner. But for the real celebrity blood-bath, one should look up Sehwag vs Murali ('09). This one, IMO, is the works.

  • Waspsting on January 29, 2011, 15:42 GMT

    "Various innings-wise breakdown tables show just how universally consistent he has been (with a much superior SR than Kallis') ... this is where he really scores over others, IMO (besides the visual aspects of his clinic)"

    Completely agree.

    Tendulkar's record does not dwarf his contemporaries the way Bradman or even Sobers' did. What sets him apart, IMO, is consistency, longetivity and lack of weaknesses.

    Fast, slow, incoming, outgoing, offstump, legstump, short, back of a lenght, pitched up, green wickets, turning wickets, fast wickets, slow wickets... he's as likely as anyone to score runs against any type of bowling on any type of pitch.

    Lara, Ponting, Kallis, Dravid etc. all have one or two weaknesses at least (they also have astonishing strenghts, in some cases, greater than SRT).

    Who else could score 300 runs in a match without being dismissed against the best team in the world and while in bad form?

    After SRT, I rate Sangakkara as the most "complete" bat of the era.

  • Waspsting on January 29, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    entertainer, in test matches, he used to be.

    The point about his technical correctness I think gets to the heart of why Bradman likened SRT to himself. Bradman was one of the fastest scorers ever, but was as watchful as a stonewaller to the good balls.

    Neville Cardus used to say that a bowler would be perfectly justified, after seeing the first five balls of an over go to the boundary and the sixth blocked with the straightest of bats, "For Gods sake, Don, give a fellow a chance and have a hit at her". Tendulkar before his first captaincy stint was something similar.

    @Shrikanthk - your right, the English were always grim and dour. Sutcliffe would pad away anything he could and Hammond saved his blistering strokeplay for non-Ashes matches. Hobbs was quite old by then.

    One of the greatest ever England teams was 58 side - May, Cowdrey, Graveney, Evans, Statham, Trueman, Tyson, Lock, Laker... played one of the dullest games of all (and got hammered in Australia for it)

  • Waspsting on January 29, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    Hi Alex, I hear what you're saying, but have to disagree with you about Tendulkar's batting in earlier days. He was technically correct and compact its true, and that perhaps 'hid' the killing nature of his play. Lara, Richards and Sehwag (and Ponting, somewhat), by contrast looked like killers because they didn't have such a text book technique.

    Nonetheless, he could be pure dynamite, even in test cricket. I saw his first tour of Australia - the intent in his batting was murderous. Pace, bounce, bowlers reputation - nothing mattered. Later in 96? 98? when Australia came down, he set about taking the stuffing out of Warne. Down the wicket, over long on, over long off, inside-out over cover, blasts over mid-wicket... glorious, death-or-glory stuff.

    Nowdays, he plays Ashley Giles and Paul Harris from the crease, and just looks to see of any particularly penetrative paceman.

    He's as good a batsman as ever, but not the (continued)

    Nowdays, he plays Ashley Giles and

  • Alex on January 29, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    srikanthk - on reputation, Eng '28 looks great (esp., with Hammond in the form of his life) but it had a 46-year old Hobbs, a 40-year old Hendren, and a 41-year old Mead. A few Eng line-ups from the 1909-14 period might give it a run for the money (young Hobbs, Rhodes, young Mead, Gunn, Woolley, Fry, etc.).

    It is a pity the WI line-up of 1957 didn't get to play too many tests together ... WI again played test cricket in 1960 only. But what a line-up: 3 Ws, Kanhai, Sobers, Alexander!! The 60's was a great unit too: Hunte, Worrell, Butcher, Kanhai, Sobers! Likewise for Pak of 1975-85. However, the more we discuss this the more it is apparent that Ind (Sept 2008 --- now) is pretty special.

  • shrikanthk on January 29, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    Wasp: Thanks for pointing out the 28 English lineup. It's interesting how we often overlook some truly great lineups of the pre-WWII period in our preoccupation with the past 40 years of cricket history.

    The 28 English squad is perhaps the only lineup which could boast of 5 batsmen who eventually ended up with more than 100 First class centuries - Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Mead, Hammond, 'Patsy' Hendren. On top of that, they had some fine bowling allrounders like Tate and Larwood down the order at 8 and 9. Plus a couple of fine aggressive amateur batsmen to back up the professional giants - Jardine and Chapman.

    What puts me off is that despite such obvious strength, they never quite dominated a not-so-special Aussie attack and instead amassed large totals at snail's pace (Hammond included). [[ Thge comments of a few of you make my day and makes up for my low times, especially the loss of Federer. It is easy to appreciate Sehwag. Everything is in media form in front of you. To appreciate the 1928-29 English team is something else. I am just waiting to get my brace of WC articles out of the way to do a comnprehensive Team strength analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on January 29, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    Waspsting: I wonder if you ever watched SRT at length in tests !? SRT in ODI's and SRT in tests were almost always two different beasts. In tests, he was never a flashy out-and-out dominator like Viv/Lara/Sehwag/Ponting ... more like a Greg Chappell. In tests, he was always technically compact and gracefully efficient with ability to score runs when you didn't even notice he was making runs.

    1. He had a few 70's and 100's with SR>80 back then and even now produces such performances with similar regularity. Suggest you watch his recent 214 & 53* vs Aus or the 85 in Murali's last test.

    2. Even now, his SR mostly ranges from 48 to 60 ... pretty good in test cricket.

    3. Various innings-wise breakdown tables show just how universally consistent he has been (with a much superior SR than Kallis') ... this is where he really scores over others, IMO (besides the visual aspects of his clinic).

    I totally agree with you on Viv, Dujon, and Greenidge though. [[ Pl see response to Shrikanth. The other relevant thing is that the appreciation of Tendulkar is not blind but based on additional nuances to his career. That is wonderful. Makes one appreciate the great man further. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on January 28, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    the same is definitely true of Tendulkar now. Tendulkar gets the runs, and thats the big thing, but his batting as a spectacle has gone from evoking comparisons with Lara to being likened to Dravid and Kallis! (that would be like a guy starting his career like Viv Richards and ending like Geoff Boycott, almost).

    re: Viv Richards and WI teams of 80s against spin - I feel Richards' abilities against the turning ball is underrated because his abilities against pace took the eye (sort of like not noticing Azharuddin's off side play because his leg side play was so very good). He did well in India, against all those fine spinners, against Underwood and Qudair, and had a fine record in 4th innings, too) The team itself overall struggled against spin, its true. Richards and Dujon were the standouts, Greenidge not bad. The rest just didn't read flight very well, and if the pitch was turning, always looked shakey.

    As always - a great discussion coming out of provoking statistics.

  • Waspsting on January 28, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Addressing a whole bunch of stuff that has come up (many to Shrikathkh, Alex)

    re: Lara in 4th innings - he has some fine performances, of course, but he wasn't consistent enough. i think its because of the high back lift - when the pace and bounce aren't as dependable, it must be hard to adjust if the ball comes through at an unexpected hight of pace.

    re: great batting line ups - this Indian one is right up there with the ones mentioned. Should also England 28-30 (Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond leading the way, with decent support following). I suppose the Three Ws teams must've been tough - they followed Rae and Stollmeyer (interestingly, one WI's line up had Worrell, Weekes, Walcott, Sobers and Kanhai altogether. sadly, 3 were past their best, and 2 hadn't come into theirs. What a line-up that reads!)

    re: Bradman vs Tendulkar at the same age - no comparison. Bradman has it everytime. Look at his 1st class record during the periods, too. He probably wasn't as good to watch, but (contin)

  • shrikanthk on January 28, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    Alex: Your comments on FC vs Test conundrum basically supports my view. The fact is that it is near impossible for a great Test class batsman to have a FC record that is more than 15-20 runs better than his Test record. The only exceptions to this rule one can recall are Merchant (FC avg - 71), Woodfull and Ponsford (FC averages around 65). Which is why I don't like the argument which runs like this - "X has a fine test average thanks to his minnow bashing skills". Scoring runs is tough business in any form of first-class cricket. Remember, it only takes one ball for a batsman to get out (be it a FC game against Tripura or a Test match at MCG)

    Regarding WI record against spin: The 74-75 series was closely fought with a 3-2 finish. WI batsmen fared poorly in two test matches in Chennai and Kolkata against the spin trinity. It was by no means a total dominance. In the 84 series...well, the trinity had retired by then and the spinners they were up against weren't exactly top draw anyway.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 28, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    Regarding some earlier comments 1) about this Indian batting line up being the best ever, let us not forget that in 3 tests in South Africa, only Gambhir, Tendulkar and Laxman from amongst the main batsmen succeeded. Dravid has not been firing for some time now. 2) About WI of 1980 not being good against spin, it is true that WI lost in 1984 and 1988 in Sydney, but it cannot be ruled out that WI relaxed a bit as the series was already won on both occasions and secondly, against India (with its phalanx of spinners) WI won in 1974-75 and 1975-76; further In Pakistan in 1980, 1986 and 1991, they either won or drew the series despite all these being heavily spin friendly and lousy wickets, and 3) regarding Richards' vulnerability against spin, check out his stats in all these series - he scored 4 centuries in 9 tests against India, and top scored in most of the test matches against Pakistan. We aren't even talking about India 1982-83, 83-84 or 87-88. Failures stand out as they were rare.

  • Abhi on January 28, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    Gerry ….. In general I’m sick and tired of the folk (increasingly in the diminishing minority) who try their damndest to run down Tendulkar. And I have started to ignore most of the comments on the same- but I’ve taken the bait this time! Here’s the averages for some top batsmen from Jan 1995 till Jan 2000 in matches “involvling” Murali-. (Hence including Murali’s “Bradmenesque streak”) SRT : 65.6 Lara: 30 Kallis : 21.3 Ponting: 58.3 Dravid:40.6 VVS: 18

    From 2000 onwards : SRT : 35.8 Lara: 123.4 Kallis : 42.4 Ponting: 42.2 Dravid: 49.4 VVS:45 So, Tendulkar (whose average almost halves) and Ponting to a lesser extent are the only batsmen whose averages fell during the 2000s in matches “involving” Muralitharan from 1995. So- basically, anyone who has even remotely followed Tendulkar’s career will know the reasons for this steep drop in performance in a stretch of the 2000s. If Murali had suddenly become a demonic bowler from 2000 onwards it would have shown up on all batsmen. But Just about everyone(except Tendulkar) actually handles him better in the 2000s. Also, I suggest you take a quick look at Muralis record vs good Lefties in general- Fleming, Flower, Lara, Gambhir…Should be an eye opener.

  • Alex on January 28, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Ananth & Gerry_the_Merry: I did a bit more since Lara's numbers in losses of weak WI could gotten draws for, say, SA. We get this:

    1. Lara over '90-'95 ... strong WI: overall [31 tests]: (80,71,45,31) ... ave=61 wins [13]: (51,61,54,90) ... ave=57 losses [7]: (72,24,51,30) ... ave=42 draws [11]: (154,103,12,16) ... ave=81

    2. Lara over '96-'06 ... weak WI: overall [100]: (67,55,39,36) ... ave=50 wins [19]: (87,64,29,87) ... ave=64 losses [56]: (59,46,33,30) ... ave=42 draws [25]: (79,65,73,27) ... ave=67

    The filter "(lost toss & batted first) OR (won toss & fielded first)" indicates batting in bowler-friendly circumstances: at least in 1st innings. Here:

    SRT: (61,66,46,27) ... ave=55 Lara: (26,38,41,43) ... ave=38 Ponting: (56,27,52,17) ... ave=40 Kallis: (48,59,69,37) ... ave=53

    So: A. Well-roundedness: 1. SRT 2. Kallis B. Setting up: 1. Lara 2. SRT C. Finishing the chase: 1. Ponting 2. Lara.

  • Alex on January 27, 2011, 15:38 GMT

    Gerry_the_Merry and Ananth: To continue, breakdown in overall/won/lost categories is interesting.

    1. Kallis flogged Zim-BD the most.

    2. Very high 4th inn ave of Ponting & Lara might be due ability to finish a successful chase.

    3. High 1st innings averages of Ponting & Lara in losses are surprising (of course, WI were weak ... so, some of Lara's loss stats could otherwise be in draws). In other innings of losses, Lara & SRT fare the best.

    4. In draws: SRT: (84,57,58,62) Lara: (97,80,61,21) Ponting: (78,50,39,65) Kallis: (57,90,127,64)

    So, Lara was the best at setting up with SRT just a bit behind. Ponting was the best in successful chases with Lara just a bit behind. Kallis is overwhelmingly best in all 3rd innings except in losses where SRT is the best. Kallis fares the worst across 2nd & 4th. Ponting fares the worst in 3rd.

    Why is SRT so special then? Among these 12 combinations, he averages < 41 only in 4th inn of losses. Talk about well roundedness!

  • Alex on January 27, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    Gerry_the_Merry: I agree with Ananth on BD and Zim but still here is what you asked. More in the next post.

    1. SRT vs BD [7 tests]: (182,204,23,-) 2. SRT vs Zim [9]: (142,74,69,42) 3. SRT overall [175]: () 4. SRT in won matches [61]: (76,72,42,72) 5. SRT in lost matches [46]: (41,45,43,22) 6. Ponting vs BD [4]: (-,36,-, infinite) 7. Ponting vs Zim [3]: (37,100,-,-) ... 3 tests 8. Ponting overall [152]: (62,56,39,55) 9. Ponting in won matches [99]: (60,67,41,93) 10. Ponting in lost matches [28]: (60,18,34,19) ... 11. Kallis vs BD [6]: (130,90,-,7) 12. Kallis vs Zim [6]: (infinite,120,-,infinite) 13. Kallis overall [145]: (58,54,71,44) 14. Kallis in won matches [69]: (80,58,74,50) 15. Kallis in lost matches [39]: (34,26,40,34) 16. Lara vs BD [2]: (-,86.5,-,-) 17. Lara vs Zim [2]: (191,91,1,1) 18. Lara overall [131]: (70,59,40,35) 19. Lara in won matches [32]: (67,63,40,81) 20. Lara in lost matches [63]: (60,43,34,30)

  • Alex on January 27, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    Gerry_the_Merry: I think your observation that the batsmen in strong teams are less likely to bat in the second innings is true to some extent ... in the sense that they may bat but in less challenging conditions (to consolidate a heavy lead or to chase a small target).

    However, this may happen even between two strong teams on a flat track. Hence, I have suggested a filter where we look at matches where a relatively close match was played (even though it could eventually have resulted in only a draw).

    BTW, of all current metrics, Ananth's work on best bowlers and best batsmen probably comes the closest to the ILO ratings (albeit in a cumulative sense).

  • Alex on January 27, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    srikanthk: Until 1985, the WI batsmen were very good vs spinners ... starting from the days of Sobers (or even the 3 W's). Among Lloyd's champion teams ('75-'84), Lloyd, Viv, Greenidge, Kallicharan, Gomes, and Dujon were excellent vs spinners. Batsmen in Lloyd's teams did very well vs the Indian spin quartet in India and in WI. It is only since '84 that they really went downhill on playing spinners, barring the incandescent Lara.

    On FC & tests, the trend is the following:

    1. A great test level player will have an excellent but almost comparable statistical record ... even the Don is not an exception to this rule (ave=99.94 vs ave=95).

    2. A mediocre test level player may have a statistical record in FC that is comparable or slightly superior to the FC stats record of test level greats ... e.g. Hick.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 27, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    Ananth, certainly. It would be the mother of all analysis. if you ever undertake it, perhaps the recent blog on adjusted averages, by computing an index of a batsman's contribution relative to that of his team mates in the batting line - up (not as % of team's total) could be a starting point. Ideally, it would be completed when Tendulkar has spent some time in retirement, so that the twin effects of "glorification of past players" and the "media hype around current players" are both neutralised. Also, on another note, the comments on there being a high proportion of opening batsmen topping the 4th innings sweepstakes being attributed to their not needing to face spin seem a bit misplaced. One only has to look at some of the more famous 4th innings Gavaskar has played, 102 in Port of Spain, 90 in the Tied test, 96 against Pakistan...perhaps some openers were good players of spin as well, and not only pace.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 26, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    Sorry Ananth, But i stick to my point. Strong teams when playing weak teams are less likely to need to bat in the second innings. Hence the first innings averages are likely to flatter relative to second innings. The subjectivity comes in only in describing certain teams as strong or weak, not in the estimate that weak teams need not be batted against twice in a test. TO test this hypothesis, why not do a simple analysis - for the top 5 batsmen - Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara, Kallis, Dravid, who have been the 11,000+ runs batsmen - compute the % of runs scored against Bangladesh / Zimbabwe / Pre-1995 Sri Lanka, by 1st / 2nd innings and 3rd / 4th innings? I am sure the weightages will be significantly different. Further, I rate Sri Lanka of the period upto 1995 in the same league regarding bowling as these other "weak" teams. Thinking beyond this, your ultimate achievement would be if you generated ILO ratings for all teams, like in Chess, to finish off subjectivity forever. [[ These are resource-hungry tasks which I am not sure whether I can undertake. I have a blueprint for something like what you have mentioned. When, how and whether I can undertake the same is the 64k$ question. Ananth: ]]

  • Yash Rungta on January 26, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    One thing which no one can dispute is that this Indian Batting line-up has the most number of Test runs under its belt. The top 7 have about 50000 runs, with Sachin and Dravid having more than 25000 themselves. So if you were to keep some weight for longetivity(say 10 points out of 100) of individual batsmen and then weigh the batting lineup, then this batting line-up has to be among the top 5 if not the top 3..

  • shrikanthk on January 26, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    I think what matters is not discarding Zim/BD but discarding meaningless matches on flat pitches (like the ones between SA and Pak)

    The debate on runfests against weak teams and/or on flat pitches makes me wonder.

    If it's that simple for top-class batsmen to improve averages in easier conditions, how come so very few batsmen in history average 60+ in First class cricket???

    Take any number of great batsmen who have played this game over the past 100 years. Very few average significantly higher in FC games than in Tests! Same is true for bowlers. Check the averages of Warne, Akram, McGrath and co. Their FC averages are so very similar to their Test avg.

    Hence I am sometimes inclined to believe that the "Average" (be it batting or bowling) is a measure of intrinsic ability that is not particularly sensitive to opposition quality.

    Did a post on this recently : http://skuvce.blogspot.com/2011/01/cricket-and-arts-what-is-art.html

  • shrikanthk on January 26, 2011, 3:41 GMT

    WI line-up also played in ODI's, which was a fast developing form at that time whereas Dravid & VVS have not played in ODI's and T20's while SRT has been selective on ODI's

    Alex: This is a debatable point. I'm not sure if playing in multiple forms of the game hinders or helps your Test performance. It can be argued either ways. I think it could well be a lot harder for a Dravid or a Laxman to be in good touch all the time thanks to the infrequent cricket and the long gaps between Test seasons.

  • Deepak on January 25, 2011, 20:48 GMT

    I think indian batting should be In top 5 see 4 players with 50 + ave. add to that laxman his valu cant be count in no of runs or ave. sachin and rahul are alrady legends and sehwagh and laxman r future legends for sure even gambhir have chance to become legend but its to erly to sey that but 4 legends r playing together with very talented gambhir and dhoni mindblowing lineup.

  • shrikanthk on January 25, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    You obviously have followed cricket as it unfolded in 70's and 80's

    In fact, I'm just 26 and started following cricket only from '92! Though I know a fair bit about 70s/80s thanks to books and the internet (and some video footage I own)

    A main factor is the span: 5 tests or 10 tests or 20 tests, etc

    I believe subjective judgments do matter. There is no such thing as an optimal span! You mentioned the English lineups of mid 50s previously. They did great in 54-55 and 56 but failed in 58-59 when the Aussies won 4-0!

    Another problem is in the varying difficulty in scoring runs in different eras which will impact analyses such as these. New ball rules have changed over the years. So did the LBW law in the mid 30s. How does one factor these in?

    Here's a piece by Don Bradman (through Simpson) on how and why scoring rates have changed so much across different eras. Very illuminating!

    http://www.tssonnet.com/tss2848/stories/20051126000103300.htm

  • shrikanthk on January 25, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Alex: My remark regarding Sachin @37 vs Don @40 was primarily a mildly provocative observation and not a sacrosanct judgment! It is important to have such debates once in a while instead of turning past cricketers into saints (though they might well deserve canonisation as in Bradman's case)

    Alex: I know WI 79 attack wasn't "bad", but definitely lacking in variety and potency in Indian conditions. I'd say it was about as good as the present Aussie pace attack. No better, no worse.

    Re WI batting in the early-mid 80s: My problem is with their ability to tackle good spinners on helpful pitches. I've read about the 84 Sydney test when they were bowled out by a couple of not-so-special Aussie spinners. Also reminded of their struggles against Hirwani in India later in the decade. That's also the reason why I'm a little sceptical about Richards on occasion. Would he have been as big a success in an era of wrist/finger spinners. Imagine Richards against Grimmett,O'Reilly and Verity!

  • Alex on January 25, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    Ananth and Gerry_the_Merry: I think what matters is not discarding Zim/BD but discarding meaningless matches on flat pitches (like the ones between SA and Pak). So, is it possible to add a filter that does the following?

    1. Compute a batsman's average in matches where his team, in 4th innings, _had to_ either bat out 80+ overs or chase 100+ runs (this indicates possibility of a result).

    2. Compute the average in matches where his team's 3rd innings started after less than 300 overs were bowled in the match (this indicates possibility of a result).

    BTW, sans Zim and BD, SRT's record reads 161 tests, 12954 runs, ave=54, 43 100's. This ave is still marginally better than that of Greg Chappell who averages the highest among the 70's-80's legends. The Guru, one of my favorites, did get to play 4 tests vs Zim/BD, by the way; that was in 80's when they went by the names "India" and "Sri Lanka".

  • Boll on January 25, 2011, 13:34 GMT

    Here we go... great as he is, Sachin is no Bradman, not by a stretch. He averages about what the greats (Hobbs, Hammond, Hutton, Lara, Richards, Headley, Sobers, Pollock, G.Chappell et al.)) have always averaged. Having only seen Chappell and Richards, and even Richards not in his true pomp (1976) Sachin is the best I have seen. But even of those great players, perhaps only Hobbs, Sobers and Viv have been the undisputed greatest of their time. Tendulkar has outlasted his peers(Lara, Ponting) but at their height, there was not much between them.

    Bradman, for 20 years, was so far ahead of 2 of this bunch of greats that comparisons became meaningless. It was fair to say that you preferred watching someone else, but Bradman simply scored twice as many runs. It`s not classical music, it`s not literature, in the end it does become a game of numbers in many ways. And on that level, Bradman has been almost twice as good as Sobers or Tendulkar or any other batsman. It`s cool. It`s Oz Day. ;)

  • Boll on January 25, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    ...cont`d. Wonderful players both, but with respect to diehard Dravid fans, and VVS (my favourite player to watch since Mark Waugh retired) they`re not in the running for World XI 1sts, or 2nds.

    In keeping with the theme of Ananth`s post, I have been concentrating on the batting of course. Definitely a batting line-up as good as any I`ve seen, but with a comparatively weak attack - not sure they`d make the top 5 teams in the last 30 years. Zaheer is fanatstic, as bowler and attack leader (behind Steyn, 2nd best in the world at the moment for mine) and Harbajhan - like many Aussies I`m often surprised by the grief he gets from Indian fans. I must adnit I`ve never particularly liked the bloke but he`s a wonderful bowler, a real fighter, and plays his cricket like an Aussie (apart from the team-mate slapping caper haha). OK, having attempted to establish my non-anti Indian credentials I`ll get to my long promised point...

  • Boll on January 25, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    OK, I have been trying to bite my tongue, but you Indian fans are incorrigible and it is Australia Day tomorrow, so...

    I`ll preface my final comments by saying this. Since I started watching cricket back in 1977/78 (b.1972) I haven`t seen a better test batting line-up than the current Indian top 7 (or 8, if we include Bhaji, which I think we should). Some have been as good, some better in certain conditions, but all things considered this is as good as any. Furthermore, they`re the only team in that time to have had 2 batsmen who would not look out of place in an all-time World XI - Sachin for me a shoo-in in all-time test (or naturally ODI) XI, and Sehwag (or Hutton, Hobbs, Trumper, Gavaskar) - well you could leave him out, but few could have real complaints if he was included. And that`s without mentioning Dravid - a colossus, or the sublime VVS (Who doesn`t want to be able to bat like this bloke?) ...to be continued

  • Boll on January 25, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    @Jay, I had to laugh(in a good way) at your request for `ANALYSIS`, not just `DATA` and Ananth`s reply that 18 tables of data should be enough to keep even the most ravenous of us happy. I felt like asking for some more analysis myself, but I suppose when we`re supplied with enough data to support a doctoral thesis or two,it`s fair that we could be expected to do some analysis on our own!

    cheers all

  • Alex on January 25, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    srikanthk: You obviously have followed cricket as it unfolded in 70's and 80's, and hence might appreciate this point. India's test batting line-up of Sept 2008 through now definitely beats the WI test line-up of 1980 through 1984. However, the WI line-up also played in ODI's, which was a fast developing form at that time whereas Dravid & VVS have not played in ODI's and T20's while SRT has been selective on ODI's and has not played in T20's.

    1. Indeed, Viv Richards' ordinary test record since 1982 can be explained to be a combined result of ODI's and captaincy (which he was quite uncomfortable with).

    2. Famous recent examples of batsmen doing well in tests by assigning a lower priority to ODI's (or not playing ODI's at all) include Lara ('03-'06) and SRT ('08-'10).

  • Alex on January 25, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    shrikanthk:

    1. A main factor is the span: 5 tests or 10 tests or 20 tests, etc. India circa 2003-04 (vs Aus & vs Pak) was also considered formidable ... Aussies lauded it to be one of the best ever. It had Sehwag, Chopra, Dravid, SRT, Ganguly, & VVS.

    2. I am a great admirer and a stern critic of SMG. The '79 WI attack was not that bad ... it had Clarke and a young Marshall. Marshall started making waves in '80 itself; so, just how bad could he be in '79? Clarke was a genuine terror: Imran rates him the most difficult of all with a new ball (but not with the old) ... even with helmets on, batsmen feared for life while facing him.

    3. SRT aged 37 yrs has a bit inferior stat record when measured against Bradman aged [37yrs, 40yrs]: a. SRT since Sept '08: 27 tests, 2815 runs, ave=72, 12 100's; b. SRT since Jan '10: 15 tests, 1722 runs, ave= 82, 8 100's; c. Don since WW2: 15 tests, 1903 runs, ave= 106, 8 100's.

    I think b & c are a bit revealing. Let's leave the Don alone.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on January 25, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    Cant resist poking some fun. Tendulkar averages immondestly against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka without Murali (and even with Murali, there is a big difference between pre-1995 and post 1995, when Murali's Bradmanesque streak began). Relative to this his average in other matches is significantly lower. While he still is one of the all-time greats, combined with his high averages in the first / second innings, one can imagine that 4th innings opportunities come against top class teams. The 1st adn 2nd innings contain a higher proportion of matches against weak teams. this would not have bothered me except that if one removes the "weak teams" through statsguru, the averages of some of the modern batsmen plummet ingloriously, and batsmen of an earlier vintage (Gavaskar, Greg Chappell, Richards) dont look all that pedestrian. Any thoughts?? [[ How do you define a weak team. Bangladesh ran circles around the Indian batsmen on the first day of the recent test until Tendulkar scored a great 105. That would probably be more valuable than his 241. There have been times India have struggled against zimbabwe. For that matter India themselves have performed very well against Australia when they were the underdogs. And so on. My suggestion is that a test run is a test run. Let us leave all other factors to innings-level analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 25, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Looks like, on the whole, these tests were relatively easy to bat in ... perhaps due to pitches and/or bowling attacks

    Alex: Let's not get overly cynical about those numbers. Runs still need to be scored no matter how weak the attack. It's interesting nobody gets cynical about the tons of runs Gavaskar scored against Packer-weakened West Indian attack of 79 or the even weaker WI attack of 71. The passage of years makes several batsmen of yesteryear grow in our esteem.

    I'm sure we will regard the present Indian lineup very favourably a decade or two from now. [[ Not at all. My personal feel is that this current lineup may be in the top-5 individual test lineups since many earlier lineups might be replicated. However I feel there is an excellent chance for this lineup to be in the top-5 taking into account unique lineups. Dhoni makes up for Pujara (nothing against Pujara. However he cannot be rated above 20, at best). Once I get ny brace of World Cup related articles out of the way I will do this Team Strength analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 25, 2011, 3:35 GMT

    Once you let the numbers decide the subjective feelings should take a backseat.

    Ananth: Well, I've always believed cricket to be an art form and not a science. Hence, an element of subjectivity is bound to creep in. Bradman in 1948 did slightly disappoint a lot of people who had seen him bat before the War. "He's not the player he was" was a remark heard often in several quarters.

    Even going by numbers alone, Sachin has averaged over 80 since Jan 2010. Comparable to Bradman's record in his last year of international cricket. Also, the attack he just faced in South Africa is most definitely superior to the English attack of 48 (Bedser and a very young and raw Laker notwithstanding). Surely, it is not a sacrilege to say that Sachin today might well be a "shade better" than Bradman in 1948. Or at the very least, there shouldn't be much to choose between them.

    Disclaimer: I'm a much bigger Bradman fan than a Sachin fan and yield to nobody in my admiration of the boy from Bowral. [[ Don't mistake me. My point is only that once we decide on aq numbers-nased analysis that should be the criteria. However I take your point. It is also true that Bradman underperformed by around 30% in his last series while Tendulkar is now over-performing at 30%. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 24, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    I'd go with the following line-ups :

    - Border/Taylor's side of the early-to-mid 90s. (Taylor, Slater, Boon, Border, Waughs, Healy). That was a much better batting line-up that the ones under S.Waugh and Ponting. Less attacking perhaps, but definitely superior defences to the ones on display in the late 90/early 00's.

    - India (2006-2010): A truly magnificent batting line-up. A very close call between this line-up and the 48 Aussies. I prefer the Indians for two reasons: I think Dhoni is probably a much better bat than Tallon. Also, Sachin at 37 is perhaps a shade better than Bradman at 40. [[ Once you let the numbers decide the subjective feelings should take a backseat. Or vice versa. Despite two 0s and a 7, Bradman scored 508 in his last series at 72+. That was a failure only by his own standards but a great success by the other standards. He carried an average either side of 100 and that has to be accepted. Ananth: ]]

    - 1948 Aussies : An ageing 40ish Bradman notwithstanding, this was a terrific line-up. Though I'm not sure how good Loxton was at No 6. Tallon is another question mark with the bat.

    There are a few others like the 1953/56 Englishmen and 1969 South Africans. But it's hard to beat the three chosen above. [[ Anyhow let us wait for the analysis to be completed. It will put all (okay most) speculations to rest. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 24, 2011, 18:05 GMT

    They may not be in the top-20. But they are in the complete list.

    I couldn't find anybody (non-opener) from the 50s even in the complete list. Barring Graveney and Harvey. (Note: I regard Barrington and Cowdrey as 60s figures). [[ Harvey missed the cut-off. He has scored 1800+ runs in the Team second innings. Ananth: ]]

    Alex: I think you're underrating the present Indian line-up. Top 20 is an understatement. It should be a very strong contender for the top 5.

    Armstrong's side: Well, those guys were up against a pretty hopeless English bowling side in 21. So it is difficult to judge them really.

    Aussies (circa mid-30s) : Well, in 36-37 and in 38, the Aussies very terribly inconsistent, nearly always looking upto Bradman to bail them out. They also failed in 32-33. The 30 and 34 lineups were pretty good, but made to look better than they were thanks to that genius cricketer.

    The West Indians of the 80s weren't all that great in the subcontinent. Nor were the Aussie teams of the late 90s and 00s.

    TBC

  • Yash Rungta on January 24, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    I don't know mathematically but if you see the way the look on paper, its ominous. Also, Gambhir and Sehwag both got consecutive 11 matches with a fifty in at least one innings and Tendulkar got to 10 matches with the same streak. Most of these 50s were also centuries and some double centuries.. Probably the batting weakens statistically because of the no.6 which is new.. Pujara doesn't have stats along with him.. Maybe even a Yusuf Pathan may be a very good all-rounder for India in Tests at no.7(with Dhoni going at no.6) but even that isn't supported by stats..

    This is why Dhoni is yet to be defeated in a series in which he has captained!!

  • Alex on January 24, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    Ananth - it might be a good idea to do an analysis on the best batting line-ups (Top 6 or Top 7) over a period of say 2 yrs or 20+ tests. I did it for India (Sept 2008 --- now ... roughly 28 test matches) and found these results on innings-wise averages:

    1. Gambhir: (77,40,77,51) ... 2232 runs @ave=62, 8 100's 2. Sehwag: (50,83,38,30) ... 2537 runs @ave=55, 7 100's 3. Dravid: (63,58,26,18) ... 1817 runs @ave=45, 6 100's 4. SRT: (58,85,58,104) ... 2815 runs @ave=73, 12 100's 5. VVS: (44,45,92,276!!!) ... 1903 runs @ave=64, 4 100's 6. MSD: (45,55,49,2) ... 1507 runs @ave=49, 3 100's.

    Looks like, on the whole, these tests were relatively easy to bat in ... perhaps due to pitches and/or bowling attacks ... or were these tests really that easy compared to most others?

    MSD is the MVP of this team. Also, VVS is underutilized at #5 ... his astounding stats in 3rd and 4th make up for the poor show in 3rd & 4th by Sehwag & Dravid.

  • Alex on January 24, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    1. Ananth: I am a bit worried about the blog integrity ... one of my comments got re-posted as a comment by one "Shantaram". What has happened? [[ Alex, you have become quite famous. So much so that someone has copied your comment verbatim and posted the same. Anyhow this sort of thing cannot be prevented. I am also immersed in so many tasks that the similarity of comments escaped me. Normally I might have caught it. Shrug it off with a smile !!! Ananth: ]]

    2. Yash Rungta: Performance-wise (i.e., disregarding on-paper reputations), I doubt if this Indian line-up (circa 2009-10) is even among the all-time top 5 though it should make all-time top 20 ... see Eng circa (early 10's, mid 20's, mid 50's), Armstrong's '21, Aussies circa (mid 30's, '48, '75, mid 90's, early 00's), WI circa (mid 60's, late 70's, early 80's), and a few Pak teams. One of its strength is that, given any innings, at least two of its batsmen have done extremely well in it (i.e, ave=50+). [[ Will do a post on that. Ananth: ]]

    3. Abhi: In his best test phase (2003-06), Lara's innings-wise ave break-up is an astonishing (103,67,33,37) whereas over ('90-'02), it was (57,57,44,33) ... is this due to poor quality of WI bowlers over '02-'06? Still, despite a few other-worldly performances in 3rd & 4th, his big strength was clearly in setting up the matches.

  • shrikanthk on January 24, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    Ananth: I also wish you'd do a piece on 4th innings run chases. This was a fine post. But the main flaw, I thought, was in the 4th innings table, which was heavily biased towards openers. The table doesn't tell much as openers are very likely to average higher in the 4th innings not necessarily because they are good players of spin on wearing pitches.

    By the way, today marks the anniversary of one of the greatest 4th innings runchases of all time! Australia successfully chasing 336 on a Durban pitch turning square against a rampaging Tayfield thanks to Neil Harvey's 151, after being bowled out for 75 in the 1st innings. It must have been a wonderful match.

    Harvey averages 41 in the 4th innings. Which I think is great for a non-opener who must have scored most of those runs against the likes of Laker, Lock, Tayfield, Gupte, Ramadhin, Valentine. There's hardly anybody else from the 50s on that 4th innings list (besides Hutton and Morris who were luckily openers). [[ They may not be in the top-20. But they are in the complete list. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanchez on January 24, 2011, 1:20 GMT

    Interesting data. What i love about these type of articles are the obscure or forgotten names that pop up, or the data that shows how truly good some batsmen were. Haynes and Lara batted almost the same amount of times in the 4th innings, yet Haynes (an opener) was not out a staggering 20 times, and Lara only 5. I am not sure why Lara had so little not outs in the 4th innings. With a weaker team, the opposition would have more time to bowl them out, whereas most of Haynes would probably be knocking off 20 runs to win by ten wickets. [[ In general Lara seems to have fewer not out % than his contemporaries. Might be the way he played. Ananth: ]]

  • Deepak on January 23, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    i have one request to u mr. anath can u do analysis of batting and bowling ave. of whole team in all 4 inn for all countries for example in india batting ave. in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings like that for all countries. it will be very Informative. And if u can do like in one country batting and bowling ave. for all 4 innings for host team and visiting team that will be great [[ I will see, Deepak. Might take some time with the World Cup starting. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish on January 23, 2011, 16:36 GMT

    @ Kannan

    I felt sad at your comments on Dravid's one-day role or contributions. Many a times, he had scored 40, or 50 or 60 so that Tendulkars, Gangulys and others could attack from other end. unfortunately, few people could understand Dravid's role in right sense. Often he would score 44* or 67* so that a YUVRAJ could score a blistering 90 and win MoM award.

    Regarding his role in match-winning for more than 50 runs scored, please check at: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/28114.html?class=2;filter=advanced;orderby=start;result=1;runsmin1=50;runsval1=runs;template=results;type=batting;view=match.

    Dravid is by far the most under-rated for his contribution to indi'a one-day victories.

  • Yash Rungta on January 23, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Nice article though its crazy to see people(comments) judging quality of batsmen only by their 4th Match Innings averages. Scoring in all the innings is important. You need a player like Sehwag to set the match for you and you also need players like Laxman to see you through in the 2nd Team innings(i.e. 3rd or 4th match innings)

    This is why I consider the Indian batting as the best in the world right now and maybe even in all Test Cricket History. Apart from the class, they also have variety. Sehwag and Gambhir are the best opening pairs in the world. Sehwag scores in 1st innings heavily and relies on hand eye co-ordination and balance. Gambhir has done very well in 2nd innings. Dravid is an absolute technician. Tendulkar is an all-round genius. Laxman is a 2nd innings scorer, under pressure and is an absolute delight to watch. Dhoni is one of the best wicket-keeper batsman and Pujara is quite good as well which he'll prove in time to come. So at the end, its net average that counts!! [[ I don't want to enter into any arguments. I suggest you look at the 1948 Australian, 1980s Win and Australian lineups a few years back before saying that the current line up might be the best ever. I would put this in a top-5 lineups ever. Ananth: ]]

  • kannan on January 23, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    Dear ananth. fantastic work this. very informative. i was wondering if you could try and dig up some facts on Rahul Dravid. personally, i feel , that he is the most over rated ODI batsman India ever produced ( albeit our test best). Could you do an analysis of how Dravid has done in high chases India have been involved in ( in XS of 250+). I would think that he wont have more than 2-3 fifties in winning causes and hardly one hundred. cheers. kannan [[ I would never go out of the way and do an analysis to put down a great player. If it comes out as fact as part of an overall analysis, fine. Ananth: ]]

  • Arasu G on January 22, 2011, 21:20 GMT

    Here is a couple of reasons- why many Indian batsmen, Laxman aside, has lesser Day 4 and Day 5 average compared to the Day 1 - Day 3 of Test matches.

    1. Played most of their matches at home. The differences between Innings 1 + 2 and Innings 3 + 4 in India are relatively high compared to Say Australia or England; it’s because of the nature of the pitches where, here in India, we either have quickly deteriorate-able pitches or high scoring draws.

    I think it would be really interesting to include Home- Away and other such variables for further analysis.

    2. Umpires - ? Yes, this could be a lil’ controversial but, as a typical Indian fan I think that before neutral umpiring, umpires favored home teams at crucial junctures (Day 4 & Day 5) and give away bad decisions and conspire against our great team – LoL, but seriously, how many of you forgot the Sachin’s SBW against McGrath? [[ In general, umpires were poor and biased everywhere, including India. the only possible exception could be in England. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 22, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Ananth: The Indian trinity was the sole exception. Underwood and Gibbs more often than not played second fiddle to formidable fast bowlers. The idea of having a predominantly spin-based attack died in the fifties.

    On a typical day in a 30s Test match, one would expect 60% of the overs to be bowled by spinners/slow-medium bowlers (the English attack during the 32-33 series being a glorious exception). Post 1960 till date, this trend has been practically reversed. Typically nearly 70% of overs on any given day are bowled by fast men!

  • Deepak on January 22, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    Anath i think it dosent tell full story at all, bcoz look in subcontinant it is day 1, 2 and 3 good for battin and on day 4 and 5 ball spins thats why its dificult to score. unlike in SA day 1 most dificult to bat then day 2,3 are mix and day 4,5 are flat pitches thats why SA have very good record In 4 innings remember with sa bowling line up they took only 3 indian wickets in 3rd test and same indian bowling all out sa for 130 odd in 2nd inning of 2nd test. so i think it is need to look at conditions also. ANY WAY U ALLRADY SAID ITS ONLY DATA AND IM GIVING MY PONT OF VIWE

  • Vish on January 22, 2011, 16:11 GMT

    Another wonderful analysis.

    Just wondering, among the golden boys (SRT, Sehwag, Lara, Kallis, Sobers, Bradman et al) if comparison of their performance across all the innings in the same match would have any value.

    Are they too tired or injured or just not focussed after scoring heavily in the 1st or the 2nd inning?

  • burnie on January 22, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    dont read to much into stats. they dont show the pitch or weather conditions, the quality of the bowling or fielding. true that most of the names on your stats are recognised as great players, but it is more then that that makes them great

  • shrikanthk on January 22, 2011, 14:50 GMT

    The Revival of Wrist Spin (1992-2005): During this era, spin bowling came back into fashion thanks to individuals like Warne, Murali and Kumble. Also, as the era progressed, it became increasingly easier to bat against the new ball given the gradual decline in fast bowling resources across the world. I'd expect 1st innings averages to show an upward trend during these years and the 4th innings averages to be significantly lower than what they were during the 70s/80s.

    The Second Golden Age of Batting (2005 till date): This period has been marked by a marked decline in the quality of strike bowlers both among fast men and slow bowlers. I'm sure both the 1st innings and 4th innings averages have shown an upward trend during these years. Batting in the 1st innings has never been this easy since the 20s/30s. Batting in the 4th innings is probably easier than even the 20s/30s given the paucity of good spinners. [[ In general I agree with your comments. I might differ in your definition of 60-90 as spin-dead era. The Indian bowling trinity, Underwood and Gibbs might take exception. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 22, 2011, 14:44 GMT

    The Fifties : Bowlers resume dominance The 50s marked the return of the bowler as a major force in cricket be it pace or spin. The new-ball rules changed in the late 40s (they could be renewed after 55 overs!). Also, the LBW rule changed thus encouraging both off spinners and googly bowlers on the 4th and 5th days. In this era, I'd expect the difference between 1st innings and 4th innings averages to diminish from the peaks reached during the 20s/30s.

    The Golden Age of Fast bowling (1960-1992): Spin slowly but surely vanished as a potent wicket-taking weapon as this era progressed. Fast bowling became the fashion across the world. I'd expect 1st innings averages to be similar to what was observed during the 50s. But as we move into the 70s/80s, 4th innings averages should have ideally improved given the paucity of good spin bowlers.

  • shrikanthk on January 22, 2011, 14:35 GMT

    I'd like to use these stats to examine how the challenges faced by batsmen have changed over different eras.

    We can broadly classify Test cricket history into the following eras -

    The Jurassic period (1877-1914) : I'm guilty of clubbing several mini-eras into this 40 yr timeframe. I think pitches were most unreliable during this period compared to all other eras. I'd expect the batting averages to be fairly low across all four innings for batsmen from this era.

    The Age of the Plumb pitch (1920-1938): This period was marked by the dominance of some of the greatest batsmen the world had seen. Pitches were notoriously flat in most matches unless rain intervened. There was very little encouragement for the fast bowlers, given the old LBW rule. No wonder leg spinners flourished in this era. I'd expect the difference between 1st and 4th innings averages to be the highest for batsmen of this era. Eg : Bradman (113 in 1st inn vs 73 in 4th inn)

    To be continued

  • tassadaq latif on January 22, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    whatever type of analysis you do. one thing is for sure that you are not going to keep Bradman out if any list...... He is sure to get into any kind of batting list. [[ I am not sure whether you mention as "I would get Bradman into any list" or any analysis would have to include Bradman. There are probably two lists in which he would not figure. Analysis of tail-enders and analysis of left handed batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on January 22, 2011, 9:36 GMT

    Srikanth,Shantaram etc. I don't quite buy the bit about " Lara's overall record in the 4th does not capture is true threat"...Both Lara and Tendulkar have some 50 4th innings...Throwing up as examples 2 or 3 innings hardly qualifies as any form of consistent “true” threat.

    I think it is a combination of what Srikanth and Ananth state -(Bowling attacks + part of a weak team)... If you are continually faced with a humongous target to chase or to protect (play out a draw)...particularly on the typical 5th day pitches of the '90s...the equation changes drastically.

    In the 90s with Tendulkar arguably at his best - He too averaged 73 (Kallis like!) in the 3rd innings. But his '90s 4th inn avg shrinks to 31.

    So if you combine: 1)Crumbling 5th day 90s pitches (unlike the later all of 5 day batting beauties) 2)Workload on single (or very few players) 3)Responsiblity on them to save/chase just about every time. 4)Better bowling attacks Etc ,etc Then that adequately explains the poor 4th innings showings. (However a quick check reveals that post Tendulkar’s injury phase from 2007 he averages 59 in 4th inn and just 39 in 3rd inn! – Go Figure!) I guess good Ol’ Laxman and his batting heroics are always there to save India the 3rd innings blus

  • Arjun on January 22, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    Ananth,

    Post a simple table by making simple adjustments.. Multiply 1st inn. runs by (0.95) 2nd inn. runs by (0.98) 3rd inn. by (1.02) 4th inn. by (1.05)

    Post table with career runs and new modified averages; it will be fun to compare. [[ Arjun I am not comfortable with that. This lowers the value of the first and second innings which are the defining match-setting up efforts. Ananth: ]]

  • Shantaram on January 22, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    Ananth: Lara's overall record in the 4th does not capture is true threat. Besides the 153*, he has a masterclass in 91 vs SA (Test No. 1542) that threatened to impossibly win the test. Another gem was 122 vs Aus (Test No. 1639) that had WI coasting to a famous win before Bichel turned it around for Aussies. 60 vs Aus (Test No. 1645) in the world record chase is another example. 1. The records show that Lara was quite poor on consistency in the 3rd and 4th but the perception is that he was super in such situations. I think Lara's brightest was so bright that it has remained as the lasting memory (quite rightly so in some ways). 2. Another myth is Steve Waugh's invincibility and M Waugh's frailty. Yet, we see here that M Waugh averaged 41 in 4th while S Waugh averaged only 25!!! 3. Notice how uniformly Viv Richards has performed across the 4 innings. This, coupled with exceptional % of 50+ scores (38.7%), underlines his greatness statistically. [[ Richards's case is very interesting since with his seemingly casual (but not in reality) approach you would expect him to show lot of variations. Ananth: ]]

  • sagar on January 22, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    nice..... [[ Only shorter word reflecting this sentiment would be "Ok". Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 21, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Another insight:

    In the top 20 list (by Averages) in the first innings of a Match: There are only three opening batsmen (Ponsford, Hutton and Sehwag).

    Whereas, in the top 20 list (by Averages) in the 4th innings : There are as many as 11 opening batsmen!! (Mitchell, Stollmeyer, Gavaskar, Boycott, Hunte, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hayden, Stackpole, Greenidge, Graeme Smith)

    The reason is simple. The hardest time for an opening bat is the first day of a Test match. The easiest time is invariably the fourth innings. This is mainly because opening batsmen have the luxury of facing the new-ball bowlers on a worn pitch early on instead of facing spinners at the start. No wonder they are more likely to get starts than middle order batsmen! [[ Thanks, Shrikanth. This is what I expected when I decided to post the article with minimal comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Michael on January 21, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    Really interesting analysis, the Sri Lankan disappearance between the first and Second innings was unsurprising, however the fact Sangakkara kept up his performances makes me rate him much higher that I used to.

  • Syed on January 21, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    Yes, Brian Lara, more often than not, did not perform upto the expectations in the fourth innings of a match. If we discount the "not-out" advantage from the above list and then calculate the batting average, it brings up a different average count.

    I am not here to belittle the effort of those players who were unbeaten in their fourth innings, however I would like to say that Brian Lara did not have the luxury of having a decent support partner on the other end eventually putting all the burden on his shoulders to carry on the team till the end. Nevertheless, he single-handedly won on few occasions, but was unable to produce it every time, as it was expected from him.

  • shrikanthk on January 21, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    I think these figures are quite handy to examine how the nature of bowling attacks in certain eras can influence the distribution of runs across the four innings!

    Take for instance the top 20 batsmen in terms of Averages in the 1st innings of a Match :

    There is nobody besides Javed Miandad from the 1974-1987 era on this list! The 70s and 80s represent the "golden age" of fast bowling. No wonder very few batsmen averaged high on the first day of the test match against strong new-ball attacks.

    In contrast, let's consider the top 20 batsmen (by Avgs) in the fourth innings:

    There are as many as 5 batsmen from the 70s-80s on this list!! This is a commentary on how weak spin attacks were across the world during this period!

    Whereas, only 1 player from the 30s-40s-50s features in the top 20 list for the fourth innings (Bradman). Those three decades represent the "golden age" of spin bowling. No wonder batsmen found it very hard to dominate attacks in the last innings of the test match! [[ Yes, your points are very valid. If we discount Bradman (what a word to use !!!) as "he would have averaged 80+ whatever we slice and dice", then there was no one in the 20s. I think the Bowling version of this article will be very interesting. Ananth: ]]

  • Rajesh on January 21, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    Is it fair to give more importance to 3rd/4th innings performance as compared to 1st/2nd innings? After all, test match wins are more often set up by the performance in the 1st/2nd innings. Also teams that perform poorly in the 1st innings may head for defeat or face a struggle to save the test if the other team does well in their 1st innings. Although batting in the later innings may be more difficult due to the pitch conditions, I feel it is the batting in the 1st/2nd innings that have a more decisive say in the result of the test.

    Also, the 3rd innings figures for some batsmen may be lower for some batsmen as they chase quick runs to set up a challeing total for declaration. [[ All innings have equal importance. Nowhere have I mentioned that one innings is more important than the others. One and two are match setting up innings and three and four are match finishing innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on January 21, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Ananth: Lara's overall record in the 4th does not capture is true threat. Besides the 153*, he has a masterclass in 91 vs SA (Test No. 1542) that threatened to impossibly win the test. Another gem was 122 vs Aus (Test No. 1639) that had WI coasting to a famous win before Bichel turned it around for Aussies. 60 vs Aus (Test No. 1645) in the world record chase is another example.

    1. The records show that Lara was quite poor on consistency in the 3rd and 4th but the perception is that he was super in such situations. I think Lara's brightest was so bright that it has remained as the lasting memory (quite rightly so in some ways).

    2. Another myth is Steve Waugh's invincibility and M Waugh's frailty. Yet, we see here that M Waugh averaged 41 in 4th while S Waugh averaged only 25!!!

    3. Notice how uniformly Viv Richards has performed across the 4 innings. This, coupled with exceptional % of 50+ scores (38.7%), underlines his greatness statistically.

  • Alex on January 21, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    Romanticstud - whoever thinks Kallis selfish needs to get his head examined. IMO, he is probably the greatest bang for buck player ever (save Bradman, Sobers, and Imran) in terms of what he delivered for his team on the field.

    However, as a batsman, he has a much better record than Lara, Ponting, & SRT only in the 3rd innings, where he reins as a colossus. Also, Ponting averages 54 in the 4th ... much higher than Kallis' 43 in the 4th. Among this holy trinity, Lara has the worst record across the 3rd and the 4th (contrary to popular perception). [[ Yes, that is true. It is also true that barring the 153*, which was the defining fourth innings of all time, Lara has not done much towards the end of the match. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on January 21, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    Ananth, All very interesting as usual. However,my pet peeve: "Peer ratios" of averages for various innings would perhaps be more revealing. [[ 4 or 2 innings and peer comparisons would make the analysis quite unwieldy. I feel we can draw quite a lot of inferences from the current analysis itself. Ananth: ]]

  • jay on January 21, 2011, 9:20 GMT

    Ananth, Very interesting data! I would say DATA rather than ANALYSIS. Seems you are afraid of criticism now! You have left it to audience to analyse, to compare, to comment! Anyways, Great Job! I salute your Hard Work... [[ The day I am afraid of criticism is the day I will hang up my mouse and keyboard. It is simple. Valid criticism, I resoect and respond to. Meaningless criticism, I trash. Surely after providing 18 tables of data, you can accept that the comments, beyond the minimal ones I have offered, can be provided by the readers !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Romanticstud on January 21, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    Poeple say that Jacques Kallis is selfish ... but ... how then is it that when he is called to come to the party in a second innings of a match where he has scored over 4000 runs for the team ... either to win the game for the team or to save the game ... I hardly call that selfish ... added to that the fact that he has scored over 3000 runs in test innings where he has been not out ... Isn't the game of cricket a game where you do not want to go out? And where you want your team to win. Where are the likes of Ponting, Tendulkar and Lara when it comes to the teams second innings? [[ I have always proclainmd Kallis's class and these tables only substantiate this. However, pl remember that it is very essential to set up the match with first innings perrmances. As I have mentioned in my article both are important. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on January 21, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Ananth - thanks very much for this analysis. Pl post a similar analysis for bowlers as well.

    Barring the real surprise in the 4th (the Don relegated to the bronze medal), the 3rd is interesting: Sobers was supposedly the king of the 3rd (and a master of batting with the tail) but your tables show several unexepcted names ahead of him --- May, Mallick, Armstrong, Butcher, and Martyn. Also, the 50+ averages of Hayden, and Ponting (& Hussey) in the 4th indicate how tough it was to bowl Aussies out in the 4th to win a test match in the 00's.

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  • Alex on January 21, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Ananth - thanks very much for this analysis. Pl post a similar analysis for bowlers as well.

    Barring the real surprise in the 4th (the Don relegated to the bronze medal), the 3rd is interesting: Sobers was supposedly the king of the 3rd (and a master of batting with the tail) but your tables show several unexepcted names ahead of him --- May, Mallick, Armstrong, Butcher, and Martyn. Also, the 50+ averages of Hayden, and Ponting (& Hussey) in the 4th indicate how tough it was to bowl Aussies out in the 4th to win a test match in the 00's.

  • Romanticstud on January 21, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    Poeple say that Jacques Kallis is selfish ... but ... how then is it that when he is called to come to the party in a second innings of a match where he has scored over 4000 runs for the team ... either to win the game for the team or to save the game ... I hardly call that selfish ... added to that the fact that he has scored over 3000 runs in test innings where he has been not out ... Isn't the game of cricket a game where you do not want to go out? And where you want your team to win. Where are the likes of Ponting, Tendulkar and Lara when it comes to the teams second innings? [[ I have always proclainmd Kallis's class and these tables only substantiate this. However, pl remember that it is very essential to set up the match with first innings perrmances. As I have mentioned in my article both are important. Ananth: ]]

  • jay on January 21, 2011, 9:20 GMT

    Ananth, Very interesting data! I would say DATA rather than ANALYSIS. Seems you are afraid of criticism now! You have left it to audience to analyse, to compare, to comment! Anyways, Great Job! I salute your Hard Work... [[ The day I am afraid of criticism is the day I will hang up my mouse and keyboard. It is simple. Valid criticism, I resoect and respond to. Meaningless criticism, I trash. Surely after providing 18 tables of data, you can accept that the comments, beyond the minimal ones I have offered, can be provided by the readers !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on January 21, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    Ananth, All very interesting as usual. However,my pet peeve: "Peer ratios" of averages for various innings would perhaps be more revealing. [[ 4 or 2 innings and peer comparisons would make the analysis quite unwieldy. I feel we can draw quite a lot of inferences from the current analysis itself. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on January 21, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    Romanticstud - whoever thinks Kallis selfish needs to get his head examined. IMO, he is probably the greatest bang for buck player ever (save Bradman, Sobers, and Imran) in terms of what he delivered for his team on the field.

    However, as a batsman, he has a much better record than Lara, Ponting, & SRT only in the 3rd innings, where he reins as a colossus. Also, Ponting averages 54 in the 4th ... much higher than Kallis' 43 in the 4th. Among this holy trinity, Lara has the worst record across the 3rd and the 4th (contrary to popular perception). [[ Yes, that is true. It is also true that barring the 153*, which was the defining fourth innings of all time, Lara has not done much towards the end of the match. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on January 21, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Ananth: Lara's overall record in the 4th does not capture is true threat. Besides the 153*, he has a masterclass in 91 vs SA (Test No. 1542) that threatened to impossibly win the test. Another gem was 122 vs Aus (Test No. 1639) that had WI coasting to a famous win before Bichel turned it around for Aussies. 60 vs Aus (Test No. 1645) in the world record chase is another example.

    1. The records show that Lara was quite poor on consistency in the 3rd and 4th but the perception is that he was super in such situations. I think Lara's brightest was so bright that it has remained as the lasting memory (quite rightly so in some ways).

    2. Another myth is Steve Waugh's invincibility and M Waugh's frailty. Yet, we see here that M Waugh averaged 41 in 4th while S Waugh averaged only 25!!!

    3. Notice how uniformly Viv Richards has performed across the 4 innings. This, coupled with exceptional % of 50+ scores (38.7%), underlines his greatness statistically.

  • Rajesh on January 21, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    Is it fair to give more importance to 3rd/4th innings performance as compared to 1st/2nd innings? After all, test match wins are more often set up by the performance in the 1st/2nd innings. Also teams that perform poorly in the 1st innings may head for defeat or face a struggle to save the test if the other team does well in their 1st innings. Although batting in the later innings may be more difficult due to the pitch conditions, I feel it is the batting in the 1st/2nd innings that have a more decisive say in the result of the test.

    Also, the 3rd innings figures for some batsmen may be lower for some batsmen as they chase quick runs to set up a challeing total for declaration. [[ All innings have equal importance. Nowhere have I mentioned that one innings is more important than the others. One and two are match setting up innings and three and four are match finishing innings. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on January 21, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    I think these figures are quite handy to examine how the nature of bowling attacks in certain eras can influence the distribution of runs across the four innings!

    Take for instance the top 20 batsmen in terms of Averages in the 1st innings of a Match :

    There is nobody besides Javed Miandad from the 1974-1987 era on this list! The 70s and 80s represent the "golden age" of fast bowling. No wonder very few batsmen averaged high on the first day of the test match against strong new-ball attacks.

    In contrast, let's consider the top 20 batsmen (by Avgs) in the fourth innings:

    There are as many as 5 batsmen from the 70s-80s on this list!! This is a commentary on how weak spin attacks were across the world during this period!

    Whereas, only 1 player from the 30s-40s-50s features in the top 20 list for the fourth innings (Bradman). Those three decades represent the "golden age" of spin bowling. No wonder batsmen found it very hard to dominate attacks in the last innings of the test match! [[ Yes, your points are very valid. If we discount Bradman (what a word to use !!!) as "he would have averaged 80+ whatever we slice and dice", then there was no one in the 20s. I think the Bowling version of this article will be very interesting. Ananth: ]]

  • Syed on January 21, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    Yes, Brian Lara, more often than not, did not perform upto the expectations in the fourth innings of a match. If we discount the "not-out" advantage from the above list and then calculate the batting average, it brings up a different average count.

    I am not here to belittle the effort of those players who were unbeaten in their fourth innings, however I would like to say that Brian Lara did not have the luxury of having a decent support partner on the other end eventually putting all the burden on his shoulders to carry on the team till the end. Nevertheless, he single-handedly won on few occasions, but was unable to produce it every time, as it was expected from him.

  • Michael on January 21, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    Really interesting analysis, the Sri Lankan disappearance between the first and Second innings was unsurprising, however the fact Sangakkara kept up his performances makes me rate him much higher that I used to.