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May 19, 2011

Batsman against bowler groups: across ages

Anantha Narayanan
Michael Vaughan: nearly 40% of his runs against top-level bowling attacks  © Getty Images
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(Revised on 22/05/11)

This article is a logical conclusion to the previous three articles. In these articles I looked at two teams which dominated the periods 1976-1995 and 1989-2008. I also looked at the batsmen who faced up these two outstanding sets of bowlers effectively. There was a discussion amongst the readers on the batsmen who faced up to strong bowling attacks, across years, effectively. It was also agreed that a composite single number indicating the weighted average bowling quality faced by a batsman across the career hides many truths.

Then Arjun Hemnani came out with a suggestion that I classify all bowling attacks into four groups and develop batting tables based on these groups. It seemed to be an excellent idea and I have created this article based on this idea. This is a quasi-rating work based on the most important of parameters, viz., the Bowling quality. I may do a similar exercise based on the Pitch conditions. Again some really tough work but at the end worthwhile.

I have summarized all relevant facts related to this analysis. First let me emphasize that this is not a Test innings Ratings analysis. There are many other relevant factors which would have to be considered in such an analysis. I have not done so in this analysis which is centred on Bowler quality. I would appreciate if the readers do not keep on repeating again and again that other relevant factors such as Pitch type, Innings status at entry, Result, Series status, Bowler recent form, Innings target et al, have not been included. That would be counter-productive.

1. As I have done in the Team strength calculations, I have considered only Tests played after 1900. It is impossible to fit in the Tests before 1900 because of uncovered pitches and many sub-20 averages. However we lose only 64 Tests.

2. The Bowling quality index (BQI) is based on Career-to-date values. This is the most dependable and accurate of the bowling measures. There is no situation where the Career-to-date figure is not the appropriate one. A bowler like Lee with a great start and tapering off towards the end or Muralitharan who had a poor start and wonderful finish will be taken care of equally well.

3. The BQI is based on the actual bowlers who bowled in the particular innings. This is very important. There is a Sri Lankan innings in which Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis bowled 14 overs each. That is all. This would have been a terrifying situation for the batsmen. Contrast this with an innings in which Akram and Younis bowled 50% of the overs.

4. The BQI is determined using the modified reciprocal method suggested by Arjun Hemnani which irons out the imbalance created by weak fifth bowlers. The career strike rate and career rpo are computed separately to arrive at the final BQI.

5. The BQI is determined for each innings. However in order to reduce wild variations, I will apply the BQI of the first innings to the second innings also in case the number of balls bowled in the second innings is less than 60. This is commonsense. This is explained through an example. Readers should know that this would not have much of an impact since no batsman is likely to score even 25 within the 10 overs.

Test # 1962: Win 231, Saf 346 (Win BQI 41.68), Win 161, Saf 49/3 in 8.4 overs (Win BQI 50.67).
In the above Test, the Saf second innings will be evaluated at 41.68 since fewer than 10 overs were bowled.

6. The BQI is reduced by 5% for Home games and increased by 5% for away games. Reader should remember that the lower the BQI, the more potent the attack is. There have been suggestions on increasing this quantum and on making this dependent on the specific country. I feel 5% either way is ample and the later requires some tricky work since I am not sure how to make it work. So that is for a later day. In general this concept is fine and works well in most cases.

It is possible that the visiting team has the right bowlers and can exploit the "away" bowling conditions. However there is no denying that, in most cases, the home bowlers would have the advantage of familiarity with and knowledge of local conditions.

The following italicised points are to be ignored in the current version.

7. The BQI is based on the Bowling average. However in order to recognize the importance of Strike rates in Test cricket is a special adjustment based on Strike rate. These concepts are explained in the examples.

8. The BQI is further modified by the Period related factor. The concerned table is given below. If the period average is lower than the all-time average of 31.76, it is a bowler-friendly age and the bowler/team averages are adjusted upwards. On the other hand, if the period average is higher than the all-time average of 31.76, it is a batsmen-friendly age and the bowler/team averages are adjusted downwards. I have adjusted the factor at a bowler level than spin/pace level since the later would have required a completely different way of working, at a player level. Even checking of results would have become very cumbersome and difficult. I also do not think that there is that much of a change.

Bowling average adjustment:  AMF - Average multiplying factor
Period       BowAvg     AMF
1877-1899     22.20    1.431
1900-1914     25.69    1.236
WW1-WW2       32.56    0.976
40s-50s       29.96    1.060
1960s         32.11    0.989
1970s         31.94    0.995
1980s         32.07    0.990
1990s         31.51    1.008
2000-2004     33.56    0.946
2005-2011     34.94    0.909
All Tests     31.76    1.000

Finally the bowling attacks are classified into 5 groups, as described below. The fifth group was necessary to separate the REALLY weak bowling attacks.

With the idea of short innings being tagged with the first innings, there have been 6837 qualifying innings until the West Indies - Pakistan Test which finished recently. The first cut-off has been fixed at 30 to have around 20% of the total innings into the top group. There may be a subjective element in this part of the exercise but that cannot be avoided. The basis on which we have decided that 30 will be the first cut-off point is not subjective. In fact Arjun's assertion that 20% means in a loose manner that at any time there are 2 really good bowling attacks makes eminent sense. The other cut-offs follow logically. The group cut-off details are given below.

Group  B Q I        # of Inns   % (out of 6837)

5 19.03-29.99: 1353 19.8% Very good bowling attack. (Prev: 19.2%) 4 30.00-34.99: 1703 24.9% Good bowling attack. (Prev: 23.9%) 3 35.00-39.99: 1753 25.6% Average bowling attack. (Prev: 21.3%) 2 40.00-44.99: 1095 16.0% Passable bowling attack. (Prev: 23.4%) 1 45.00+: 933 13.6% Very poor bowling attack. (Prev: 12.2%)

Note: In group 5 only three innings were below 20.00. Test 327: Australia (18.94). Lindwall (19.19), Johnston (18.24) and Miller (22.00) bowled 19 overs. Test 347: England (19.31). Lindwall (21.08), Johnston (19.25) and Miller (21.49) bowled 39 overs. Test 104: England (19.66). Barnes (20.14) and Blythe (19.20) bowled 47 of the 54 overs.

A note on the revised groupings. The S/R adjustments and the Period adjustments have been removed. The less-than-50-ctd-wickets situation has been ironed out. Established bowlers are assigned a better strike rate/rpos in line with their career averages. Only bowlers who did not even get 50 wickets in their careers are treated a bit roughly. All this has has resulted in some softening of the Bowling group allocations. The first two groups together have 2% of additional innings associated with them. However 4% more innings have come into the third group. This means that a total of over 70% of the innings now find place in the acceptable groups and below 30% in the two weaker groups. This contrasts with the 64-36% in the previous version. This has resulted in a better distribution of batsman performances.

In fact Arjun questioned the necessity to have the last group. He felt that the last two could be combined into one. However I strongly feel it is essential for the reason cited below. Let us look at the following two bowling attacks.

Test 1833, Bangladesh, Mortaza/Rafique/Shakib/Rasel/Sharif, BQI value is 41.45.
Test 226, Nzl (Hammond's 336), 4 "bowlers" had a ctd total of 26 wkts and a career total of 36 wkts, BQI value is 53.21.

There is no way I am going to put these into the same group. One is a good Test level attack and the other is barely at the level of a First Class side. So the last group is necessary.

The average BQI for this huge sample is 36.56 (37.13) and the median is at 35.93 (37.13). This indicates a fairly balanced distribution of values. The Standard Deviation is 7.30 (7.67). I have explained the whole concept of determining the BQI with the following examples.

First is MatchId 1267 between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, played at Kandy during 1994. In the first innings Wasim Akram (ctd 22.9) bowled 14.2 overs and Waqar Younis (ctd 19.3) bowled 14 overs and dismissed Sri Lanka for 71. The weighted BQI starts life at 20.81. This is multiplied by 1.05 (this being away Test for Pakistan). The final BQI value is 21.85 which puts this attack as a very potent one. Any runs scored in this particular innings, say A de Silva's 7 will get into the highest classification.

The second is MatchId 1844 between Pakistan and South Africa, played during 2007. These were Steyn's early years. As everyone knows he had a fairly average start to his career. Steyn bowled 12 overs, Ntini 8 overs, Kallis 7 overs, Harris 20 overs and Nel 16 overs. The base BQI is 30.77. The separation of strike rate and rpo in the reciprocal BQI calculation has benefited this attack because of Steyn's strike rate. This is multiplied by 1.05 (this being away Test for South Africa). The final BQI value is 32.31 which puts this attack as a fair one. Any runs scored in this particular innings, say Mohammed Yousuf's 25 will get into the second classification.

I have got into details here so as to give the readers a clear idea of the calculations.

There is so much data available that even the organization of the article is getting into trouble. I can only present in the article a certain amount of data. The serious reader should download the complete files and read the same. I have given below what I would be presenting within the article.

1. Top 20 batsmen for group 5, the top one. Ordered by batting average.
2. Top 20 batsmen for group 4, the second best one. Ordered by batting average.
3. Top 10 batsmen for groups 3-2-1. Ordered by batting average.
4. Top 10 batsmen for groups 5-1, the top one. Ordered by runs scored.
5. For selected batsman, their group-wise distribution of runs scored.
For all the above, complete files are available for downloading/viewing.

Let us look at the tables. First the Group tables based on Batting average. The batsman should have scored a minimum of 500 runs to be included. Otherwise we will have funny numbers.

Batsman              Cty Inns N Runs Grp  Avge

Hunte C.C Win 6 1 586 5 117.20 Bradman D.G Aus 15 0 1159 5 77.27 Sobers G.St.A Win 22 2 1328 5 66.40 Hutton L Eng 21 5 949 5 59.31 Wessels K.C Saf 14 1 763 5 58.69 Graveney T.W Eng 18 2 922 5 57.62 Hobbs J.B Eng 16 1 837 5 55.80 Lawry W.M Aus 14 3 613 5 55.73 Shoaib Mohammad Pak 11 1 539 5 53.90 Richards I.V.A Win 44 0 2338 5 53.14 Sangakkara K.C Slk 23 2 1045 5 49.76 Ponting R.T Aus 39 2 1794 5 48.49 Edrich J.H Eng 21 1 968 5 48.40 Martyn D.R Aus 24 2 1061 5 48.23 Lloyd C.H Win 39 2 1748 5 47.24 O'Neill N.C Aus 15 3 560 5 46.67 Cook A.N Eng 24 2 1017 5 46.23 Gomes H.A Win 21 3 830 5 46.11 Sehwag V Ind 33 2 1428 5 46.06 Amarnath M Ind 18 0 829 5 46.06

Hunte, by virtue of his huge unbeaten double century, has moved to the top with 117.20, but only 586 runs. Bradman's is the more significant performance since he has a 77+ average with over 1100 runs. Sobers, again buoyed by the 365*, has 1300+ runs at 66. Wessels is a surprise entrant as also Graveney. There is a complete churning of players with the result that Lara and Tendulkar have moved out of the top-20. The recent bowling attacks have lost their edge because of the removal of both s/r and period adjustments. Only Sangakkara, Ponting and Sehwag remain.
Bradman D.G          Aus  15  2 1275  4  98.08
Walcott C.L          Win  15  1 1067  4  76.21
Chappell G.S         Aus  49 10 2723  4  69.82
Sutcliffe H          Eng   9  0  617  4  68.56
McCabe S.J           Aus  16  1  986  4  65.73
Richards I.V.A       Win  54  9 2917  4  64.82
Wasim Raja           Pak  23  7 1019  4  63.69
Younis Khan          Pak  40  3 2352  4  63.57
Mohsin Khan          Pak  13  1  761  4  63.42
Hobbs J.B            Eng  15  2  758  4  58.31
Tendulkar S.R        Ind  85 10 4345  4  57.93
Crowe M.D            Nzl  34  5 1671  4  57.62
Smith G.C            Saf  53  4 2754  4  56.20
Walters K.D          Aus  46  6 2243  4  56.08
Border A.R           Aus  86 15 3935  4  55.42
Taylor R.L           Nzl  13  1  659  4  54.92
Richardson M.H       Nzl  18  0  977  4  54.28
Javed Miandad        Pak  44  4 2164  4  54.10
Kallicharran A.I     Win  26  4 1176  4  53.45
Gilchrist A.C        Aus  38  6 1701  4  53.16
Here we see 20 batsmen exceeding average of 50. Bradman has a near-career average of 98+ with a decent amount of runs. Walcott and Chappell come in next with 70+ and 70- averages. Sutcliffe and, nice to say McCabe, are next. Probably the most significant is Richards who has scored over 2900 runs at nearly 65. Quite a few modern batsmen have plenty of runs at 55+ averages. Mark Richardson is a surprise at the top, way above his career average of 44.77. He has done well against Pakistan and India.
Bradman D.G          Aus  17  3 1479  3 105.64
Sutcliffe H          Eng  22  5 1498  3  88.12
Zaheer Abbas         Pak  19  2 1495  3  87.94
EdeC Weekes          Win  15  1 1071  3  76.50
Amiss D.L            Eng  25  2 1744  3  75.83
Flower A             Zim  33  7 1940  3  74.62
Lara B.C             Win  52  2 3674  3  73.48
Compton D.C.S        Eng  14  3  808  3  73.45
Barrington K.F       Eng  34  4 2131  3  71.03
Walcott C.L          Win  14  1  912  3  70.15

Kallis J.H Saf 30 8 2333 2 106.05 Mohammad Yousuf Pak 16 1 1506 2 100.40 Headley G.A Win 12 3 890 2 98.89 Pietersen K.P Eng 11 2 851 2 94.56 Worrell F.M.M Win 14 2 1133 2 94.42 Woodfull W.M Aus 6 0 545 2 90.83 Prince A.G Saf 10 4 515 2 85.83 Shastri R.J Ind 15 4 932 2 84.73 Kirsten G Saf 16 3 1067 2 82.08 Vengsarkar D.B Ind 23 6 1389 2 81.71

Adams J.C Win 8 4 658 1 164.50 Bell I.R Eng 6 1 531 1 106.20 Mohammad Yousuf Pak 11 4 703 1 100.43 Dravid R Ind 14 4 987 1 98.70 Sehwag V Ind 9 2 672 1 96.00 Waugh S.R Aus 20 6 1268 1 90.57 Bradman D.G Aus 17 2 1342 1 89.47 de Villiers A.B Saf 12 4 713 1 89.12 Kallis J.H Saf 21 7 1228 1 87.71 Prince A.G Saf 12 5 614 1 87.71

Quite a few 100+ averages at the lower bowling quality levels. Kallis has a 100+ average against group 4, as so does Yousuf. Do not forget that group 3 is still a fair bowling attack.
Batsman              Cty Inns N Runs Grp  Avge

Stewart A.J Eng 97 8 3311 5 37.20 Lara B.C Win 76 1 3270 5 43.60 Atherton M.A Eng 98 1 2581 5 26.61 Gooch G.A Eng 73 1 2573 5 35.74 Tendulkar S.R Ind 63 2 2396 5 39.28 Richards I.V.A Win 44 0 2338 5 53.14 Dravid R Ind 65 3 2288 5 36.90 Border A.R Aus 70 10 2191 5 36.52 Chanderpaul S Win 67 9 2135 5 36.81 Hussain N Eng 66 6 2048 5 34.13

Tendulkar S.R Ind 85 10 4345 4 57.93 Border A.R Aus 86 15 3935 4 55.42 Dravid R Ind 75 10 3410 4 52.46 Kallis J.H Saf 85 10 3302 4 44.03 Waugh S.R Aus 76 10 3291 4 49.86 Lara B.C Win 70 1 3286 4 47.62 Richards I.V.A Win 54 9 2917 4 64.82 Atherton M.A Eng 66 2 2875 4 44.92 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 59 5 2791 4 51.69 Smith G.C Saf 53 4 2754 4 56.20

Ponting R.T Aus 97 13 5146 3 61.26 Kallis J.H Saf 79 9 3941 3 56.30 Lara B.C Win 52 2 3674 3 73.48 Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 55 1 3579 3 66.28 Tendulkar S.R Ind 69 7 3505 3 56.53 Hayden M.L Aus 67 5 3474 3 56.03 Dravid R Ind 64 6 3307 3 57.02 Gower D.I Eng 61 4 3063 3 53.74 Border A.R Aus 62 11 2993 3 58.69 Gavaskar S.M Ind 60 5 2940 3 53.45

Tendulkar S.R Ind 49 7 2982 2 71.00 Kallis J.H Saf 30 8 2333 2 106.05 Javed Miandad Pak 39 4 2242 2 64.06 Ponting R.T Aus 46 9 2181 2 58.95 Dravid R Ind 41 6 2071 2 59.17 Edrich J.H Eng 43 5 1894 2 49.84 Hammond W.R Eng 35 5 1890 2 63.00 Barrington K.F Eng 32 6 1860 2 71.54 Sangakkara K.C Slk 31 2 1820 2 62.76 Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 37 5 1813 2 56.66

Hammond W.R Eng 66 8 4133 1 71.26 Hutton L Eng 68 7 3599 1 59.00 Compton D.C.S Eng 47 5 2456 1 58.48 Harvey R.N Aus 35 2 2180 1 66.06 Sutcliffe H Eng 35 4 1897 1 61.19 Gavaskar S.M Ind 30 2 1882 1 67.21 Cowdrey M.C Eng 39 4 1761 1 50.31 Graveney T.W Eng 32 4 1704 1 60.86 Javed Miandad Pak 30 6 1660 1 69.17 Barrington K.F Eng 29 3 1624 1 62.46

The above tables are ordered on runs scored against the bowling groups. Stewart and Tendulkar lead the top two groups with 3311 and 4345 runs. Lara also has over 3000 runs against each of the top groups. Almost the same with Tendulkar indicating that, on balance, they faced better quality of bowling. The modern batsmen, led by Tendulkar top the middle group table. Tendulkar and quite a few current batsmen top the weaker group 2. Finally look at Hammond. Nearly 60% of his runs have come against the weakest of attacks, albeit, at no great an average. It must be accepted that when batsmen play 100+ tests, they are likely to figure in both groups 5 and 1 prominently. Hammond, Hutton and Compton are the surprises since they had career runs of 7000 and just above or below.

Now for the group-wise runs and % of career runs for selected 20 odd batsmen. The complete file is available for downloading.

Batsman              Cty Inns N  Runs    %  Grp  Avge

Hobbs J.B Eng 16 1 837 15.5 5 55.80 Hobbs J.B Eng 15 2 758 14.0 4 58.31 Hobbs J.B Eng 29 2 1642 30.4 3 60.81 Hobbs J.B Eng 20 1 854 15.8 2 44.95 Hobbs J.B Eng 22 1 1319 24.4 1 62.81

Sutcliffe H Eng 6 0 110 2.4 5 18.33 Sutcliffe H Eng 9 0 617 13.5 4 68.56 Sutcliffe H Eng 22 5 1498 32.9 3 88.12 Sutcliffe H Eng 12 0 433 9.5 2 36.08 Sutcliffe H Eng 35 4 1897 41.6 1 61.19

Hammond W.R Eng 4 0 124 1.7 5 31.00 Hammond W.R Eng 11 1 397 5.5 4 39.70 Hammond W.R Eng 24 2 705 9.7 3 32.05 Hammond W.R Eng 35 5 1890 26.1 2 63.00 Hammond W.R Eng 66 8 4133 57.0 1 71.26

Bradman D.G Aus 15 0 1159 16.6 5 77.27 Bradman D.G Aus 15 2 1275 18.2 4 98.08 Bradman D.G Aus 17 3 1479 21.1 3 105.64 Bradman D.G Aus 16 3 1741 24.9 2 133.92 Bradman D.G Aus 17 2 1342 19.2 1 89.47

Hutton L Eng 21 5 949 13.6 5 59.31 Hutton L Eng 21 0 884 12.7 4 42.10 Hutton L Eng 12 1 530 7.6 3 48.18 Hutton L Eng 16 2 1009 14.5 2 72.07 Hutton L Eng 68 7 3599 51.6 1 59.00

Sobers G.St.A Win 22 2 1328 16.5 5 66.40 Sobers G.St.A Win 47 4 2169 27.0 4 50.44 Sobers G.St.A Win 43 6 2060 25.6 3 55.68 Sobers G.St.A Win 26 4 1626 20.2 2 73.91 Sobers G.St.A Win 22 5 849 10.6 1 49.94

Lloyd C.H Win 39 2 1748 23.3 5 47.24 Lloyd C.H Win 40 3 1688 22.5 4 45.62 Lloyd C.H Win 54 5 2068 27.5 3 42.20 Lloyd C.H Win 35 4 1712 22.8 2 55.23 Lloyd C.H Win 7 0 299 4.0 1 42.71

Chappell G.S Aus 42 2 1490 21.0 5 37.25 Chappell G.S Aus 49 10 2723 38.3 4 69.82 Chappell G.S Aus 30 3 1465 20.6 3 54.26 Chappell G.S Aus 20 2 918 12.9 2 51.00 Chappell G.S Aus 10 2 514 7.2 1 64.25

Gavaskar S.M Ind 47 2 1604 15.8 5 35.64 Gavaskar S.M Ind 42 1 2122 21.0 4 51.76 Gavaskar S.M Ind 60 5 2940 29.0 3 53.45 Gavaskar S.M Ind 35 6 1574 15.6 2 54.28 Gavaskar S.M Ind 30 2 1882 18.6 1 67.21

Richards I.V.A Win 44 0 2338 27.4 5 53.14 Richards I.V.A Win 54 9 2917 34.2 4 64.82 Richards I.V.A Win 48 1 1795 21.0 3 38.19 Richards I.V.A Win 32 2 1439 16.9 2 47.97 Richards I.V.A Win 4 0 51 0.6 1 12.75

Gooch G.A Eng 73 1 2573 28.9 5 35.74 Gooch G.A Eng 53 2 2409 27.1 4 47.24 Gooch G.A Eng 52 1 2010 22.6 3 39.41 Gooch G.A Eng 26 2 1269 14.3 2 52.88 Gooch G.A Eng 11 0 639 7.2 1 58.09

Javed Miandad Pak 39 0 1434 16.2 5 36.77 Javed Miandad Pak 44 4 2164 24.5 4 54.10 Javed Miandad Pak 37 7 1332 15.1 3 44.40 Javed Miandad Pak 39 4 2242 25.4 2 64.06 Javed Miandad Pak 30 6 1660 18.8 1 69.17

Border A.R Aus 70 10 2191 19.6 5 36.52 Border A.R Aus 86 15 3935 35.2 4 55.42 Border A.R Aus 62 11 2993 26.8 3 58.69 Border A.R Aus 30 6 1038 9.3 2 43.25 Border A.R Aus 17 2 1017 9.1 1 67.80

Waugh S.R Aus 43 5 1643 15.0 5 43.24 Waugh S.R Aus 76 10 3291 30.1 4 49.86 Waugh S.R Aus 82 17 2920 26.7 3 44.92 Waugh S.R Aus 39 8 1805 16.5 2 58.23 Waugh S.R Aus 20 6 1268 11.6 1 90.57

Atherton M.A Eng 98 1 2581 33.4 5 26.61 Atherton M.A Eng 66 2 2875 37.2 4 44.92 Atherton M.A Eng 34 2 1534 19.8 3 47.94 Atherton M.A Eng 9 1 371 4.8 2 46.38 Atherton M.A Eng 5 1 367 4.7 1 91.75

Tendulkar S.R Ind 63 2 2396 16.3 5 39.28 Tendulkar S.R Ind 85 10 4345 29.6 4 57.93 Tendulkar S.R Ind 69 7 3505 23.9 3 56.53 Tendulkar S.R Ind 49 7 2982 20.3 2 71.00 Tendulkar S.R Ind 24 6 1464 10.0 1 81.33

Stewart A.J Eng 97 8 3311 39.1 5 37.20 Stewart A.J Eng 69 6 2240 26.5 4 35.56 Stewart A.J Eng 35 3 1628 19.2 3 50.88 Stewart A.J Eng 25 3 845 10.0 2 38.41 Stewart A.J Eng 9 1 441 5.2 1 55.12

Lara B.C Win 76 1 3270 27.4 5 43.60 Lara B.C Win 70 1 3286 27.5 4 47.62 Lara B.C Win 52 2 3674 30.7 3 73.48 Lara B.C Win 22 2 979 8.2 2 48.95 Lara B.C Win 12 0 744 6.2 1 62.00

Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 40 1 1347 15.3 5 34.54 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 59 5 2791 31.6 4 51.69 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 52 7 2409 27.3 3 53.53 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 30 5 1474 16.7 2 58.96 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 19 4 809 9.2 1 53.93

Fleming S.P Nzl 50 2 1459 20.3 5 30.40 Fleming S.P Nzl 47 5 2093 29.2 4 49.83 Fleming S.P Nzl 55 2 1906 26.6 3 35.96 Fleming S.P Nzl 25 1 1147 16.0 2 47.79 Fleming S.P Nzl 12 0 567 7.9 1 47.25

Ponting R.T Aus 39 2 1794 14.5 5 48.49 Ponting R.T Aus 65 3 2751 22.3 4 44.37 Ponting R.T Aus 97 13 5146 41.6 3 61.26 Ponting R.T Aus 46 9 2181 17.6 2 58.95 Ponting R.T Aus 12 1 487 3.9 1 44.27

Kallis J.H Saf 31 4 1143 9.6 5 42.33 Kallis J.H Saf 85 10 3302 27.6 4 44.03 Kallis J.H Saf 79 9 3941 33.0 3 56.30 Kallis J.H Saf 30 8 2333 19.5 2 106.05 Kallis J.H Saf 21 7 1228 10.3 1 87.71

Dravid R Ind 65 3 2288 19.0 5 36.90 Dravid R Ind 75 10 3410 28.3 4 52.46 Dravid R Ind 64 6 3307 27.4 3 57.02 Dravid R Ind 41 6 2071 17.2 2 59.17 Dravid R Ind 14 4 987 8.2 1 98.70

Laxman V.V.S Ind 52 4 1876 23.7 5 39.08 Laxman V.V.S Ind 61 7 2480 31.4 4 45.93 Laxman V.V.S Ind 46 12 1709 21.6 3 50.26 Laxman V.V.S Ind 29 8 1591 20.1 2 75.76 Laxman V.V.S Ind 10 0 247 3.1 1 24.70

Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 29 1 1124 11.8 5 40.14 Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 44 4 1639 17.2 4 40.97 Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 55 1 3579 37.6 3 66.28 Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 37 5 1813 19.0 2 56.66 Jayawardene D.P.M.D Slk 25 2 1375 14.4 1 59.78

Sehwag V Ind 33 2 1428 18.6 5 46.06 Sehwag V Ind 46 0 2239 29.1 4 48.67 Sehwag V Ind 33 0 1760 22.9 3 53.33 Sehwag V Ind 29 2 1595 20.7 2 59.07 Sehwag V Ind 9 2 672 8.7 1 96.00

Sangakkara K.C Slk 23 2 1045 12.7 5 49.76 Sangakkara K.C Slk 36 4 1655 20.1 4 51.72 Sangakkara K.C Slk 43 0 2178 26.4 3 50.65 Sangakkara K.C Slk 31 2 1820 22.1 2 62.76 Sangakkara K.C Slk 23 4 1546 18.8 1 81.37

Hobbs, Sutcliffe and Hammond have made very few runs against top group, mainly indicating that there were very few top group bowling attacks during these 50 years. Lloyd, Chappell, Laxman and Fleming all have around 20-25% against the top bowling group. However the real numbers are for Stewart with 39%, Atherton with 33.4%, Richards with 27.4%, Gooch with 28.9% and Lara with 27.4%.

Looking at the other end of the tables, Hammond has scored 57% of career runs against the weakest of attacks. Hutton stands at 51% and Sutcliffe at 41%. Ponting, Laxman, Lloyd and Stewart have only 3-5% against these weak attacks. But the amazing number is for Richards, who in his cricketing life has almost faced no group 5 bowling attack (0.6%). That says something about the sign of the period 1970s-90s.

Group table - by Batting average: please click/right-click here.
Group table - by Runs scored: please click/right-click here.
Batsman table - by Group (for all 2000+ batsmen): please click/right-click here.
Batsman table - all Group 5 performances (for all 5000+ batsmen): please click/right-click here.
BQI table - ordered by BQI (for all 6827 innings): please click/right-click here.

Er-Sr calculations: please click/right-click here.
Weighted bowling quality table - ordered by WtBowQty value (gt 4000 runs): please click/right-click here.

I would like to inform the readers that we are away on holiday between June 2 and 25 and I will be taking the month of June off. I will be back in July. I am confident that most of the comments on this article, and I expect plenty, to be in before June 1.

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

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Keywords: Stats

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Posted by AD on (July 2, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

Gerry_the_Merry: As regards perid adjustments we may agree to disagree. In my view the only correct method of judging a sportsman is relative to his peers. As far as batting goes this factors in not just one or two variables like pitch conditions or bowling quality ,but various others. For example, the trend of judging LBWs or umpiring standards in a particular period vs. another period. There are numerous variables which cannot be normalized across eras.

As regards Ponting, he certainly has an impressive body of accomplishment and would classify as an All Time Great. However, the feeling that he is just that rung below some other Legends lingers.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (July 1, 2011, 11:21 GMT)

Ananth, Great that you are back. Life becomes normal again. The last item is CTD averages. Somewhere you have mentioned that you are adjusting for early career distortions. How are you doing this please? How about an Brett Lee / Ishant Sharma type of bowler - good start, then mediocre averages for some time, before improvement? Obviously you have to keep out unnecessary complications, but am just curious as to your method adopted. [[ Gerry Will do so in a couple of days after clearing up the 97 (!) things on the plate. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Alex on (June 30, 2011, 3:45 GMT)

@Boll: Absolutely on Ponting. In fact, my all-time world XI reads:

Tests: 9 fixed players ... Hobbs, Viv (as opener ... he was the best ever vs fast bowlers anyway), Don, SRT, Lara, Sobers, Gilly/Sanga, Imran(c), Marshall.

- PLUS any two of Warne/Murali/Barnes/O'Reilly on spinning wicket. - PLUS McGrath and Ambrose/Lillee on fast tracks. - PLUS Ponting as the 12th man in all cases.

ODI's: SRT, Lara, Viv, Ponting, Dhoni (c), Hussey, Bevan, Imran, Murali, McGrath, Garner.

- PLUS Jonty as the 12th.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (June 17, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

In support of my previous point about developing separate team 1st and team 2nd inn bowling average BQI, here are some approx stats for % by which the 1st inn average is higher than the bowler's second inn average - McGrath 0% (21,21 in 1st and 2nd Inn); Ambrose 10% (22 in 2nd inn, 20 in 1st inn); Lillee ~10%; Holding ~11%; Murali 20%; Warne ~28%; Caddick 80% (Caddick's 2nd inn 20, 1st inn 37). So there...!

Ananth, i seriously think you should do a piece on this prior to releasing your grand finale, so that readers are not shocked. it would give a better understanding of how bowlers are actually generating their bowling avg. [[ Just got back home and finally back to my own laptop and computer. On road was not able to chack mail regularly and made the mistake of not taking either the laptop (on holiday !!!, no way) and my Motorola (should have taken this, I was worried about nonsense calls following me right throughout Europe). Will take a few days to go through and plan what is needed to be done. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Boll on (June 16, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

@AD re.Ponting cont`d. His prominent place in Ananth`s batting table vs top-class bowling attacks (well ahead of Tendulkar, Lara and contrary to your implication that he performed only against weaker attacks) confirms his place as one of the great batsmen.

And of course we should remember that he remains the only player to have won 3 World Cups, 2 as captain (a record he shares with Lloyd). He also captained Aus to 2 Champions Trophies, and has won more tests as captain or player than anyone else in history.

He was overwhelmingly voted the cricketer of the decade 2000-2009 by ESPN - Ponting scored more runs and centuries in both forms of the game than any other batsman during that time. He has also been the best all-round fielder of his generation.

Just that rung below? Below whom exactly?

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (June 16, 2011, 10:02 GMT)

Pallab, I dont disagree with Boll that the English attack is the best today. You seem to have a pretty disparaging view about Anderson and Swann, who are pretty dangerous bowlers, with success (at least in recent years) in English as well as Australian conditions. Tremlett, Finn and Broad are a handful because of their height, and Onions, Shahzad et all are handy backups.

There are two immediate comparisons - 1) how the same Australian batting line up did against India - pretty OK, if you think, compared to their performance at home against the Englishmen and 2) how they will do against SAF in a few months - I bet they do better than lose thrice by an innings. Regarding Tostobe / Parnell / Morkel / Harriss, i dont remember any of them threating any attack on their own. Basically it is Steyn plus a few average bowlers (Morkel has a dismal average).

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (June 16, 2011, 3:39 GMT)

...Contd...This is also why I have been insisting that separate BQI for home/away and for 1/2 Innings and 3/4 innings are generated using home / away bowling averages and 1/2 and 3/4 innings averages. This is because only then will the CONDITIONS IN WHICH THE BQI IS GENERATED MATCH WITH THE CONDITIONS IN WHICH THE BATTING AVERAGE HAS BEEN GENERATED.

You will find that many bowlers have a lower 3/4 innings average than 1/2. Similarly superior home average to away. Ananth has all this already worked out in different previous articles. My suggestion is that this is the grand opportunity to put it all together, because never before has anyone so beautifully placed batting average in the context of tightly defined bowling average groups.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (June 16, 2011, 3:30 GMT)

AD, on period adjustments, I completely, totally and utterly disagree. There must be no period adjustment. Here is the logic. Imagine that for a moment, we are not facing sample size limitations, and we are defining a tight band of BQI 20-to-25. In this band, REGARDLESS of whether the pitches were sunny, rainy, muddy, sticky; regardless of whether the bowling was fast or spin; regardless of helmets / no helmets; regardless of whether the period is 1950-75 or 1985 to 2010, a batting average of (say) 50 is equally merited. All the above factors would have got built in to the bowling average.

The implicit underlying assumption is that the BQI has been generated in roughly SIMILAR conditions as the batting average, making them a fair face-off.

If from two different periods, the bowling was terrifying / mediocre, then the difference will be seen in the proportion of innings / runs between BQI groups (more Group 5 innings in the high bowling quality period and vice versa).

Posted by Alex on (June 15, 2011, 13:29 GMT)

@AD: Actually, Ponting's domination spanned a full decade ... which is the norm for just about every post-WW1 batsman who could be said to a stake a claim to an All-Time Top 20 status. Very few have had two dominant years separated by 15+ years.

1. Ponting averaged 50 in year 1997 and averaged 48 in year 2008.

2. In tests, his best years were 1999-2008 (a full decade). It's just that his Bradmanesque streak of 61 tests (ave=74, 24 centuries) spanned only 5 years (2002-06) unlike Don's which spanned 20 years (actually 13, after taking WW2 into account).

3. Ponting has continued to play quite well in ODI's since '08.

After the dust settles down, I think history will view Ponting as one of the 3 best batsmen of the 1990-2010 era, possibly just behind Lara-SRT. And only Greg Chappell rivals him for the title of the best Oz batsman since Don. In addition, Ponting might very well be the greatest fielder of all-time.

Posted by west indian follower on (June 15, 2011, 11:33 GMT)

Ananth, I am not sure whether this is a fair comment, but, I have always wondered why India would play someone like Yujrav Singh over Badrinath, even though Badrinath's average is about 20 runs higher. However, after the fourth ODI against the Windies, it became clear. Seeing Badrinath visibly unsettled by Andre Russell bowling 82 mile an hour bouncers really drove the point home. Ironically, Ashwin, who averages 35 looked very settled for the runs that he scored. This must bring in a new dimension to the selection process in India; someone like Rohit Sharma, even though having the same first class average as Badrinath, looks a lot better player. Maybe this is a case when the selectors cannot go on stats alone. Also, why has Rahane not been selected, I mean averaging 67 and not getting the call up must be pretty frustrating... [[ Badrinath has always had a raw deal. this despite his coming from the same state as Srikkanth. There must be some personal likes/dislikes. Badrinath is a true world class Test player. However Yuvraj, and now Kohli get in. Ananth: ]]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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