August 4, 2011

Test-series performances: the top batsmen

A stats analysis of the best Test-series batting performances
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Viv Richards: 829 runs in the series in England in 1976
Viv Richards: 829 runs in the series in England in 1976 © Getty Images

I have embarked on a major project. This has been triggered by a few comments on performance of all-rounders in series. I have extended the scope of the same and will cover, over three articles, the performance of batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders in series. I am aware that Cricinfo statistics section gives you an insight into the runs scored and wickets captured in Test series. However those are raw numbers and also do not show the results by series types. Even Statsguru might not provide that. What I intend to do is to weight the individual player performances in series with various relevant parameters. It is necessary to recognize where players performed (home or away), what type of bowling attack runs were scored off (great to poor), what level of support was received, what were the quality of wickets captured, was there a critical series situation et al. That would let us judge performances at their true worth.

First the series batting analysis. The runs scored are weighted by the following factors.

1. Where the series was played: Home, away or neutral locations. Instead of penalizing home performances I have left the home runs at no additional weight and weighted runs scored at neutral locations at 5% and away at 10%. One could raise endless queries on the subjectivity or not of these weights. However there is no better solution on offer. As far as sub-continental flat tracks are concerned, the visitors might get the extra weight, playing away, but will lose out on the Pitch type. And vice versa.

2. Series situation: I leave the other Tests as they are. An additional weight of 5% is given for the deciders only. As far as I am concerned there is no dead rubber Test. Over the past 10 years every Test is important, because of Test Rankings. If it rains cats and dogs at Edgbaston, the fourth Test, technically, is a dead rubber. However the no.1 rank is at stake as also the pride of players. India would very much prefer a 1-2 result and England would go all out for a 3-0 result. So the idea of dead rubber will remain only in the minds of some cricket followers, not in this analysis.

3. Bowling quality faced: This is the weighted c-t-d bowling quality measure determined for each innings. The range is from 19 to 60. The weight ranges from 85% (for 60) to 115% (for 15). I have got the weight for this measure go below 100 so that runs scored against sub-standard attacks are weighted less and against strong attacks are weighted more.

4. Pitch type: This is determined by the Runs per Wicket value for the match. This value ranges from 10 to 100 and the weight ranges from 120% (for 10) to 80 (100). Here also I have got the weight for this measure to go below 100 so that runs scored on flat batting tracks are weighted less and on bowling paradises weighted more.

5. Support provided / % of score: This is to recognize that a 100 scored out of 200 with scant support is valued more than a 100 made out of 500 with ample support. There is no negative weighting and the maximum weight is 10%.

The overall effort is that the runs scored in each innings are weighted by the five factors leading to an overall weighting ranging from a theoretical low of around 75% to a theoretical high of 175%. However these are theoretical values and in practice, the range is from 90% to 130%. Stray innings might be weighted down or more. The results are, to say the least, stunning. The true value of batsmen performances in series unfolds before us.

The other decision I have taken is that the performances in a series is not going to be influenced by the number of Tests played. Whether a player was dropped or injured is outside the purview of this analysis. A 6-Test series is what it says, whether 4 or 5 Tests were played by a player. The other point is that a series has to have a minimum of 3 Tests to be included in this analysis. Also, the three Triangular tournaments, the 1912 one and the two Asian Championships are not included.

The tables are shown for 6, 5, 4 and 3-Test series. These are ordered on the base information, which is the runs scored. The weighting factor and weighted runs are also show. Later in the article similar tables are shown, this time ordered on the weighted runs. I have stayed away from superfluous information, at least for this analysis, of batting averages, highest score, hundreds and fifties. When someone scores 500 runs in a 3-Test series, it really does not matter whether the average was 120 or 150. It only depends on how often the batsman remained unbeaten. At the end I have also shown the top 5 and bottom 5, in terms of weighting, of the runs scored table (over 500 runs).

First the 6-Test series table. Those who have exceeded 600 runs in the series have been shown.

SNo Year Home  Away Batsman               # Runs  Wt  WtRuns

296 1989 ENG vs Aus Taylor M.A (Aus) 6 839 1.09 910.4 357 1995 ENG vs Win Lara B.C (Win) 6 765 1.14 875.6 244 1982 PAK vs Ind Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 6 761 0.95 723.0 264 1985 ENG vs Aus Gower D.I (Eng) 6 732 1.04 759.3 214 1978 IND vs Win Gavaskar S.M (Ind) 6 732 0.97 711.8 194 1975 AUS vs Win Chappell G.S (Aus) 6 702 1.04 731.5 331 1993 ENG vs Aus Gooch G.A (Eng) 6 673 1.04 700.9 170 1970 AUS vs Eng Boycott G (Eng) 6 657 1.07 703.0 244 1982 PAK vs Ind Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 6 650 1.02 664.5 170 1970 AUS vs Eng Edrich J.H (Eng) 6 648 1.05 683.0 170 1970 AUS vs Eng Stackpole K.R (Aus) 6 627 1.05 660.5 190 1974 AUS vs Eng Chappell G.S (Aus) 6 608 1.06 645.9


Both Taylor and Lara scored mountains of runs in away series against England. This is reflected in the good weighting of their performances. Mudassar Nazar's compilation was done at home. The next three players also compiled their 700+ runs at home. However, out of these three, Gower and Chappell did this against much better bowling sides. There seems to be a difficulty in achieving peak level achievements in the six match series as evidenced by the fact that only 12 batsman have averaged over 100 runs per Test.

Now the 5-Test series table. Those who have exceeded 750 runs in the series have been shown.
SNo Year Home  Away Batsman               # Runs  Wt  WtRuns

51 1930 ENG vs Aus Bradman D.G (Aus) 5 974 1.15 1122.9 47 1928 AUS vs Eng Hammond W.R (Eng) 5 905 1.07 964.4 93 1952 AUS vs Saf Harvey R.N (Aus) 5 834 0.93 778.3 197 1976 ENG vs Win Richards I.V.A (Win) 5 829 1.16 958.5 103 1955 WIN vs Aus Walcott C.L (Win) 5 827 1.09 900.7 114 1958 WIN vs Pak Sobers G.St.A (Win) 5 824 1.03 850.8 67 1936 AUS vs Eng Bradman D.G (Aus) 5 810 1.13 916.7 55 1931 AUS vs Saf Bradman D.G (Aus) 5 806 1.03 830.1 340 1994 WIN vs Eng Lara B.C (Win) 5 798 0.97 773.3 80 1948 IND vs Win EdeC Weekes (Win) 5 779 1.02 797.5 171 1971 WIN vs Ind Gavaskar S.M (Ind) 5 774 1.07 827.3 609 2010 AUS vs Eng Cook A.N (Eng) 5 766 1.11 849.0 62 1934 ENG vs Aus Bradman D.G (Aus) 5 758 1.18 892.6 76 1947 ENG vs Saf Compton D.C.S (Eng) 5 753 0.91 684.6


This table clearly indicates that the 5-Test series are the best in terms of quality. It can be noted that there are 14 batsmen who have averaged over 150 runs per Test. Bradman's and Hammond's performances are legendary. Bradman achieved this stupendous feat of nearly a thousand runs in 5 Tests as a mere 21-year lad, with 4 Tests behind him. Hammond achieved a similar feat in Bradman's debut series two years earlier. Harvey crossed 800 runs against South Africa. Richards had a wonderful series during 1976. Bradman crossed 750 runs four times in his career. Also note the distinguished company Cook has batted himself in.

Next the 4-Test series table. Those who have exceeded 600 runs in the series have been shown.

SNo Year Home  Away Batsman               # Runs  Wt  WtRuns

496 2003 SAF vs Win Kallis J.H (Saf) 4 712 0.97 694.0 495 2003 AUS vs Ind Ponting R.T (Aus) 4 706 0.99 702.4 50 1930 WIN vs Eng Headley G.A (Win) 4 703 1.00 700.9 50 1930 WIN vs Eng Hendren E.H (Eng) 4 693 1.04 717.4 545 2006 ENG vs Pak Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 4 631 1.16 730.2 295 1989 WIN vs Ind Richardson R.B (Win) 4 619 1.08 665.9 495 2003 AUS vs Ind Dravid R (Ind) 4 619 1.15 712.2 470 2002 ENG vs Ind Vaughan M.P (Eng) 4 615 1.02 629.8 470 2002 ENG vs Ind Dravid R (Ind) 4 602 1.12 676.6


Most of the 4-Test top performances are modern probably because not many 4-Test series were played during the earlier years. Kallis leads the field with his performances against West Indies. The one exception has been during 1930 when Headley and Hendren scored either side of 700 runs in the same series. Dravid has crossed 600 runs twice in his career.

Let us now see the 3-Test series table. Those who have exceeded 500 runs in the series have been shown.

SNo Year Home  Away Batsman               # Runs  Wt  WtRuns

305 1990 ENG vs Ind Gooch G.A (Eng) 3 752 0.96 721.1 455 2001 SLK vs Win Lara B.C (Win) 3 688 1.17 808.4 547 2006 PAK vs Win Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 3 665 1.03 684.0 212 1978 PAK vs Ind Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 3 583 1.01 589.6 163 1969 NZL vs Win Nurse S.M (Win) 3 558 1.13 630.0 346 1994 PAK vs Aus Saleem Malik (Pak) 3 557 1.05 583.8 535 2006 PAK vs Ind Younis Khan (Pak) 3 553 0.98 544.1 440 2001 IND vs Aus Hayden M.L (Aus) 3 549 1.14 625.5 519 2005 IND vs Pak Sehwag V (Ind) 3 544 1.00 543.7 559 2007 IND vs Pak Ganguly S.C (Ind) 3 534 0.95 505.8 348 1994 IND vs Win Adams J.C (Win) 3 520 1.19 619.8 534 2005 AUS vs Saf Ponting R.T (Aus) 3 515 1.08 554.2 310 1991 NZL vs Slk Jones A.H (Nzl) 3 513 0.94 481.7 401 1998 PAK vs Aus Taylor M.A (Aus) 3 513 1.04 533.1 519 2005 IND vs Pak Younis Khan (Pak) 3 508 1.18 601.1 306 1990 PAK vs Nzl Shoaib Mohammad (Pak) 3 507 0.92 465.1 198 1976 PAK vs Nzl Javed Miandad (Pak) 3 504 0.94 476.0 440 2001 IND vs Aus Laxman V.V.S (Ind) 3 503 1.10 552.3


When one scores 456 runs in a single Test, it is not too difficult to sit on top of the 3-Test performances. That is what Gooch did against India during 1990. However the real striking performance is the single-handed master class by Lara, away in Sri Lanka during 2001. As the youngsters would say, no one else did jack.

I have given below the top-5 batsmen in each of the series types, this time based on the weighted runs scored.

SNo Year Home  Away Batsman               # Runs  Wt  WtRuns

296 1989 ENG vs Aus Taylor M.A (Aus) 6 839 1.09 910.4 357 1995 ENG vs Win Lara B.C (Win) 6 765 1.14 875.6 264 1985 ENG vs Aus Gower D.I (Eng) 6 732 1.04 759.3 194 1975 AUS vs Win Chappell G.S (Aus) 6 702 1.04 731.5 244 1982 PAK vs Ind Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 6 761 0.95 723.0 ... 51 1930 ENG vs Aus Bradman D.G (Aus) 5 974 1.15 1122.9 47 1928 AUS vs Eng Hammond W.R (Eng) 5 905 1.07 964.4 197 1976 ENG vs Win Richards I.V.A (Win) 5 829 1.16 958.5 67 1936 AUS vs Eng Bradman D.G (Aus) 5 810 1.13 916.7 103 1955 WIN vs Aus Walcott C.L (Win) 5 827 1.09 900.7 ... 545 2006 ENG vs Pak Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 4 631 1.16 730.2 50 1930 WIN vs Eng Hendren E.H (Eng) 4 693 1.04 717.4 495 2003 AUS vs Ind Dravid R (Ind) 4 619 1.15 712.2 495 2003 AUS vs Ind Ponting R.T (Aus) 4 706 0.99 702.4 50 1930 WIN vs Eng Headley G.A (Win) 4 703 1.00 700.9 ... 455 2001 SLK vs Win Lara B.C (Win) 3 688 1.17 808.4 305 1990 ENG vs Ind Gooch G.A (Eng) 3 752 0.96 721.1 547 2006 PAK vs Win Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 3 665 1.03 684.0 163 1969 NZL vs Win Nurse S.M (Win) 3 558 1.13 630.0 440 2001 IND vs Aus Hayden M.L (Aus) 3 549 1.14 625.5


The top two performances in the 6-Test series have retained their places in the weighted runs order. Lara has narrowed the gap a little bit. Mudassar Nazar has moved down the order. There is very little movement in the 5-Test order also. Harvey has moved down. Mohammad Yousuf, playing away against England whose bowling was good, has gained significantly in the 4-Test table and has moved to the top. Kallis has moved way down. As expected, Lara has displaced Gooch because his performance was away, against a very good attack and he received scant support.


Finally the top-5, across all series types, whose weight value is the highest and lowest. This is a very interesting mini-table which brings out the value of this type of weighting.

SNo Year Home  Away Batsman               # Runs  Wt  WtRuns

33 1910 SAF vs Eng Hobbs J.B (Eng) 5 539 1.28 688.4 85 1950 AUS vs Eng Hutton L (Eng) 5 533 1.28 683.9 232 1981 ENG vs Aus Border A.R (Aus) 6 533 1.26 673.1 217 1979 ENG vs Ind Gavaskar S.M (Ind) 4 542 1.25 676.7 475 2002 AUS vs Eng Vaughan M.P (Eng) 5 633 1.22 770.1 ... ... 93 1952 AUS vs Saf Harvey R.N (Aus) 5 834 0.93 778.3 244 1982 PAK vs Ind Javed Miandad (Pak) 6 594 0.93 552.1 306 1990 PAK vs Nzl Shoaib Mohammad (Pak) 3 507 0.92 465.1 76 1947 ENG vs Saf Edrich W.J (Eng) 5 552 0.91 501.8 76 1947 ENG vs Saf Compton D.C.S (Eng) 5 753 0.91 684.6


Let us look at this table. Why did Hobbs gain so much. An away series, very good South African bowling line-up, low scoring throughout the series increasing the value of Hobbs' scores and Hobbs's high accumulation in only 4 Tests. Similarly Hutton faced a top-class bowling attack away and scored a fair proportion of runs. Border scored the runs, again away, off a top class bowling attack and with no great support.


At the other end, the parameters are tilted the other way. Average-to-poor bowling attacks, fairly high RpW values for the matches and matches played at home. Just to give an idea of what I am talking about, let me sum up the series # 76, the last one in the table. England scored 3050+ runs at a loss of 64 wickets, leading to a high RpW of 48. Also, Compton, despite his massive aggregate of 753 runs did not even score 25% of the total runs !!! Still the maximum down-weighting is less than 10%.

Finally let me give my own selection of the top performances in a series.

1. Bradman's 974 in 5 Tests against England. As already explained, a 21-year old batsmen achieves this during his first tour of England. If nothing else this should silence and convince any critics of the greatness of Bradman.

2. Lara's 688 in 3 Tests against Sri Lanka: Irrespective of what else Lara did, and there is plenty, this is the best single series performance by any batsmen during the past 30 years. The lone warrior, away against the magician and Lara came through. The 3 losses add to the poignancy of the performances.

3. Richards' 829 in 5 Tests against England: This was arguably the most dominating series by a single player over the past 50 years and is bettered only by Bradman's 974.

4. Hammond's 905 in 5 Tests against Australia: I have often put down Hammond's 336 against New Zealand. But this was Hammond at his majestic best. However the series record lasted a mere 18 months.

5. Hobbs' 539 in 4 Tests against South Africa: As I went through the scorecards I realized the impact and value of Hobbs' performance. This was not an ordinary South African side. They had excellent bowlers. Hutton's 1950 series ranks very close.

I have fixed 3 Tests as the minimum criteria for defining a proper Test series. However readers would be interested to know that there are five batsmen who have crossed 500 runs in 2 Test-series. They are Jayasuriya (571 vs Ind), Hammond (563 vs Nzl), Andy Flower (540 vs Ind), Jayawardene (510 vs Saf) and Hayden (501 vs Zim). Andy Flower's is probably the most note-worthy since it was achieved against India, away.

Just to complete the Series batting analysis, I have given below the table of batsmen who have crossed 500 runs in a series most number of times.

7 times: Bradman
7 times: Lara
6 times: Sobers
6 times: Gavaskar
4 times: Hobbs, Hammond, Barrington, Border, Ponting.

To answer the burning question as to why Tendulkar is absent in these analyses and in the complete table, readers may be surprised (or not) to know that Tendulkar has never crossed 500 in a series in Tests. His highest is 493 vs Australia, away, during 2007. In mitigation, let me state that Tendulkar has played in only three 5-Test series, the last one 9 years back.

To download the complete list of players who have crossed 500 runs in a Test series, please right-click here and save the file.

Now for the other end of the performance spectrum. With some difficulty I have unearthed the following total non-performances. With due apologies to Amarnath, CB Fry, Ranatunga and Athey, very good batsmen, they had their great days, but these were their low points. I might very well have missed a few other gems. Readers should note that I have only looked at batsmen with averages higher than 25. Let me remind readers that Amarnath and Ranatunga are two of modern cricket's greatest fighters ever.

SNo Year Batsman       For    Vs   Inns Runs Score sequence

250 1983 Amarnath M (Ind vs Win) 6 1 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0 (8 months back Amarnath had scored 598 in 5 away Tests against a strong West Indian attack !!!) 25 1902 Fry C.B (Eng vs Aus) 4 5 0, 0, 1, 4 315 1991 Ranatunga A (Slk vs Pak) 4 6 0, 0, 0, 6 230 1981 Athey C.W.J (Eng) 4 7 2, 1, 3, 1 The following were 2-Test series. So not real failures. 366 1996 Twose R.G (Nzl) 4 6 2, 0, 2, 2 380 1997 de Silva P.A (Slk) 4 9 3, 0, 1, 5 473 2002 Taufeeq Umar (Pak) 4 6 0, 0, 5, 1 476 2002 Arnold R.P (Slk) 4 6 0, 0, 2, 4


Since the article has already become long, I will keep the bowling and all-round analyses to later posts. This will also enable the readers to exchange information in an informed manner.

Finally a comment on what happened at Nottingham.

On Sunday we saw two sets of faces of Indian Cricket. The first, two tough-as-nails and successful captains who, however, would play fair and keep the spirit of the game alive, in the persona of Dhoni and Ganguly. India might have lost but Cricket, in the form of Dhoni, won. Dhoni's gesture, probably egged on by the wiser and older heads in the team, would not be forgotten in a hurry and he is going to stay in the hearts of all cricket followers everywhere.

The other set, those faces of Shastri and Gavaskar.

I have realized that it would be great to have a Reader's selections section. So here we go.

1. Viswanath's 568 runs (593.6 adjruns) vs Win at home in 1974. (Salem Shanker).
2. Amarnath's 598 runs (718.6 adjruns) vs Win away in 1983, (Gerry/Arjun).
3. Manjrekar's 569 runs (640.3 adjruns) vs Pak away in 1989 (Arjun/Nitin).
4. Vaughan's 633 runs (770.1 adjruns) vs Aus away in 2002 (Arjun).
5. Sobers'722 runs (840.2 adjruns) vs Eng away in 1966. (Shrikanth).
6. Bradman 810 runs (916.7 adjruns) vs Eng home in 1936 (Shrikanth).
7. Adams' 520 runs (3T-619.8 adjruns) vs Ind away in 1994 (Ruchir).
8. Lara's 546 runs (632.6 adjruns) vs Aus home in 1999 (Ruchir).
9. Gavaskar's 774 runs (827.3 adj) vs Win away in 1971 (Abhishek/Raghu).
10.Taylor's 839 (910.4 adjruns) vs Eng away in 1989 (Tom/Pallab).
11.Faulkner's 732 runs (855.8 adjruns) vs Aus away in 1910. (Arjun/Alex).
12.Strauss'656 runs (upto 760.2) vs Saf away in 2004. (Arjun).
13.Sutcliffe's 734 runs (841.5 adjruns) vs Aus away in 1924 (Alex/Ruchir).
14.Trumper's 661 runs (upto 702.4) vs Saf home in 1910 (Manasvi).
15.Walters' 699 runs (upto 714.8) vs Win home in 1968 (Manasvi).
16.Boycott's 657 runs (703.0 adjruns) vs Aus away in 1970 (Arjun).
17.Gilchrist's 473 runs in 3 Tests vs Saf away in 2002 (Alex).
18.Hobbs' 662 (adjruns 769.9) vs Aus, Away in 1912 (Shri).
19.Sobers' 824 (adjruns 850.8) vs Pak, Home in 1958 (Harsh).
20.Walcott's 827 (900.7 adjruns) vs Aus, home in 1955. (Harsh).
21.Hutton's 533 runs (683.9-28% adj) vs Aus, away 1950 (Waspsting).
22.Lindsay's 606 runs (605.2 adj) vs Aus 1966 (Gerry/Shane).
23. Dravid's 422 runs, and counting, vs Eng during 2011 (Ananth).

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

  • Ram on August 31, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    Interesting and impartial analysis. This piece of statistics probably shows why many people have questioned Tendulkar's credentials as a potential single handed match winner in test matches. His records speak for themselves but you do not find those special match winning innings played by Laxman, Sehwag or Dravid. Now you know that Sachin could not maintain a peak form for more than a couple of tests at any point of time. Otherwise, he would have scored in excess of 500 or 600 several times during his long and illustrous career. One way to measure consistancy would be to measure the standard devitation of runs scored in each innings.

    If we compare Tendulkar's test match performance with tennis players, his performances are like reaching the quarter finals or semis in almost every tournament, but he would fail to reach or win the finals. Some one like Lara would win grand slams, but would fail to cross the third round frequently.

  • Entertainment on August 30, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    As a neutral fan, I classify batsmen into two categories---one who plays valuable innings from team's perspective but bore the hell out of people like kallis or Dravid (dnt get me wrong, they are very valuable for their respective team). I remember Gavaskar once said that he played for his team not spectators. But it is spectator who keep the game alive,

    Another kind of batsmen is the one who plays innings which is important for team as well as thrills the crowd like lara. I know ur stats are based on quantitative analysis. But if we consider the qualitative term ENTERTAINMENT which is important to keep the game alive. Then Lara clearly scores above everyone.

  • DIPTENDU on August 25, 2011, 1:00 GMT

    I think if the margin is reduced to 350+ then the notable change would be visible in the statistics. Sachin is having the highest number of entry in this type of category with 350+ series. As he played much more 3-test series, he is consistent in his own way. Check out his innings/100, and 100/ series value, in compared to any batsman between 1989-2011 era. Not before that because in that time more 5/4-test series were to be held. [[ Lowering the bar to 350 just so that Tendulkar can come in is not the way this blog works. You can find your answer in the number of batsmen who have exceeded 500 runs in 3/4 Tests, Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on August 21, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    This is a readers' contribution from me. I would put in Dravid's marvellous contribution in this otherwise-disastrous series into the Readers' list for the Test Series Batting performances. I will leave his final tally blank.

  • West Indian Follower on August 18, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    I know Ananth said not to continue the argument over whether Tendulkar pulling out was personal or not, I think that whoever made the decision, it was done to ensure that SRT scored his 100th hundred against England, valiantly battling it out for number one, as opposed to the inconsequential Windies. Saw how that arrogance worked out. Also, great ana;ysis Ananth, really interesting. I also think that this further demonstrates how incredible and dominating Don Bradman was. Not that I needed to say that, but he really blows my mind. Greatest Sportsman Ever.

  • Vinish Garg on August 17, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    For Shrikanthk's It is a personal matter. If I wish to take a fortnight off from work to rejuvenate myself, I'm perfectly entitled to do so, as long as the employer is fine with it. :

    If some other player B (of lesser stature but with equally gruelling past season)... had asked for rest from WI tour, and what if BCCI had denied that rest to B…are we fine if BCCI (with or public support) uses its judgmenet to allow/deny *optional* rest because your logic of *entitlement to rest* applies to all?

    Where do we leave the employer’s consent as valid or uncalled for? For example, going by the same logic, can the army man who is serving on the border *opt* for rest, anytime? Same for doctor (where patients are always expected to form a queue)?

    It is not a personal matter. If it is, any doctor/armyman/teacher is entitled for same privileges.

  • shrikanthk on August 17, 2011, 5:06 GMT

    Merchant's avg of 98 in Ranji is not really representative. That only accounts for 47 of his 234 FC innings and 3600 of his more than 13000 runs

    Well done, Ruchir. You took the words from my mouth (my keyboard rather).

    Corner of a Foreign Field is a fine book. Though a little too patriotic for my taste. Didn't like the way Guha attempts to play down poor Lord Harris for no real concrete reason.

  • shrikanthk on August 17, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    However the West Indies tour is not a personal matter. It is representing the country. I was only loud-thinking why SRT would not have skipped the IPL and played the West indies tour. You cannot question the rationale behind that. Again this is not personal

    It is a personal matter. If I wish to take a fortnight off from work to rejuvenate myself, I'm perfectly entitled to do so, as long as the employer is fine with it. The more important you are to an organization, the more willing will the employer be to acquiesce to your wishes. The players are self-willed, free individuals, not serfs employed by a feudal lord!

    Ofcourse, fans (and the BCCI) are apt to be disappointed if the "vacation" does not result in improved performance afterwards. But that's the nature of sport. That's why sport is so very different from a white-collar job, as performances in sport are not entirely controlled by the individual playing it but by several other imponderables. [[ I am going to respond in one sentence so that you do not continue this dialog. NO, IT IS NOT A PERSONAL MATTER. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on August 17, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    I've just seen RANGArajan's excellent comment on what is the equivalent of the Lions tours that England have done since about 1989. This is a superb method for seeing who has 'got it' in unfamiliar surroundings, and who has not. Without it (tho central contracts the most important improvement of all), the England team would still be the overhyped underperforming laughing stock it was in the late 80's, despite having an opener like Gooch, and a middle order of Gower, Gatting, Lamb and Botham (Broad then showed himself to be the other opener capable of doing well against top bowlers, at least more than the other flops that preceded him).People like Atherton,Thorpe, Hussain and Gough showed they had the 'right stuff' and took much on board, whereas the likes of Tony Middleton and John Stephenson were not really up to it. Ramparakash did superbly, but had too uptight a temperament for Test cricket. Hick (who did not play on these tours)by contrast was too diffident in temperament.

  • delmeister on August 17, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    ...eligible for them. I will say more a bit later, but Ananth- is AllRounder article out next month, or in Oct do you know? GREATLY looking forward to that, even more than these 2 before it which is saying something! Lastly, I remember someone saying a while back they would like to see videos of great players often discussed on here. Here is one on a superb YouTube channel (Irequested this vid actually) :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pca5VFpxuYc Hope this comes in useful. Lastly, don't worry about Sachin's form- I am quite sure he has been significantly affected by the 100th ton issue, something which has affected other bona fide legends in the past (eg Hobbs took wks to get his FC one, then messaged his wife "At last!".)

  • Ram on August 31, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    Interesting and impartial analysis. This piece of statistics probably shows why many people have questioned Tendulkar's credentials as a potential single handed match winner in test matches. His records speak for themselves but you do not find those special match winning innings played by Laxman, Sehwag or Dravid. Now you know that Sachin could not maintain a peak form for more than a couple of tests at any point of time. Otherwise, he would have scored in excess of 500 or 600 several times during his long and illustrous career. One way to measure consistancy would be to measure the standard devitation of runs scored in each innings.

    If we compare Tendulkar's test match performance with tennis players, his performances are like reaching the quarter finals or semis in almost every tournament, but he would fail to reach or win the finals. Some one like Lara would win grand slams, but would fail to cross the third round frequently.

  • Entertainment on August 30, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    As a neutral fan, I classify batsmen into two categories---one who plays valuable innings from team's perspective but bore the hell out of people like kallis or Dravid (dnt get me wrong, they are very valuable for their respective team). I remember Gavaskar once said that he played for his team not spectators. But it is spectator who keep the game alive,

    Another kind of batsmen is the one who plays innings which is important for team as well as thrills the crowd like lara. I know ur stats are based on quantitative analysis. But if we consider the qualitative term ENTERTAINMENT which is important to keep the game alive. Then Lara clearly scores above everyone.

  • DIPTENDU on August 25, 2011, 1:00 GMT

    I think if the margin is reduced to 350+ then the notable change would be visible in the statistics. Sachin is having the highest number of entry in this type of category with 350+ series. As he played much more 3-test series, he is consistent in his own way. Check out his innings/100, and 100/ series value, in compared to any batsman between 1989-2011 era. Not before that because in that time more 5/4-test series were to be held. [[ Lowering the bar to 350 just so that Tendulkar can come in is not the way this blog works. You can find your answer in the number of batsmen who have exceeded 500 runs in 3/4 Tests, Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on August 21, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    This is a readers' contribution from me. I would put in Dravid's marvellous contribution in this otherwise-disastrous series into the Readers' list for the Test Series Batting performances. I will leave his final tally blank.

  • West Indian Follower on August 18, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    I know Ananth said not to continue the argument over whether Tendulkar pulling out was personal or not, I think that whoever made the decision, it was done to ensure that SRT scored his 100th hundred against England, valiantly battling it out for number one, as opposed to the inconsequential Windies. Saw how that arrogance worked out. Also, great ana;ysis Ananth, really interesting. I also think that this further demonstrates how incredible and dominating Don Bradman was. Not that I needed to say that, but he really blows my mind. Greatest Sportsman Ever.

  • Vinish Garg on August 17, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    For Shrikanthk's It is a personal matter. If I wish to take a fortnight off from work to rejuvenate myself, I'm perfectly entitled to do so, as long as the employer is fine with it. :

    If some other player B (of lesser stature but with equally gruelling past season)... had asked for rest from WI tour, and what if BCCI had denied that rest to B…are we fine if BCCI (with or public support) uses its judgmenet to allow/deny *optional* rest because your logic of *entitlement to rest* applies to all?

    Where do we leave the employer’s consent as valid or uncalled for? For example, going by the same logic, can the army man who is serving on the border *opt* for rest, anytime? Same for doctor (where patients are always expected to form a queue)?

    It is not a personal matter. If it is, any doctor/armyman/teacher is entitled for same privileges.

  • shrikanthk on August 17, 2011, 5:06 GMT

    Merchant's avg of 98 in Ranji is not really representative. That only accounts for 47 of his 234 FC innings and 3600 of his more than 13000 runs

    Well done, Ruchir. You took the words from my mouth (my keyboard rather).

    Corner of a Foreign Field is a fine book. Though a little too patriotic for my taste. Didn't like the way Guha attempts to play down poor Lord Harris for no real concrete reason.

  • shrikanthk on August 17, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    However the West Indies tour is not a personal matter. It is representing the country. I was only loud-thinking why SRT would not have skipped the IPL and played the West indies tour. You cannot question the rationale behind that. Again this is not personal

    It is a personal matter. If I wish to take a fortnight off from work to rejuvenate myself, I'm perfectly entitled to do so, as long as the employer is fine with it. The more important you are to an organization, the more willing will the employer be to acquiesce to your wishes. The players are self-willed, free individuals, not serfs employed by a feudal lord!

    Ofcourse, fans (and the BCCI) are apt to be disappointed if the "vacation" does not result in improved performance afterwards. But that's the nature of sport. That's why sport is so very different from a white-collar job, as performances in sport are not entirely controlled by the individual playing it but by several other imponderables. [[ I am going to respond in one sentence so that you do not continue this dialog. NO, IT IS NOT A PERSONAL MATTER. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on August 17, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    I've just seen RANGArajan's excellent comment on what is the equivalent of the Lions tours that England have done since about 1989. This is a superb method for seeing who has 'got it' in unfamiliar surroundings, and who has not. Without it (tho central contracts the most important improvement of all), the England team would still be the overhyped underperforming laughing stock it was in the late 80's, despite having an opener like Gooch, and a middle order of Gower, Gatting, Lamb and Botham (Broad then showed himself to be the other opener capable of doing well against top bowlers, at least more than the other flops that preceded him).People like Atherton,Thorpe, Hussain and Gough showed they had the 'right stuff' and took much on board, whereas the likes of Tony Middleton and John Stephenson were not really up to it. Ramparakash did superbly, but had too uptight a temperament for Test cricket. Hick (who did not play on these tours)by contrast was too diffident in temperament.

  • delmeister on August 17, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    ...eligible for them. I will say more a bit later, but Ananth- is AllRounder article out next month, or in Oct do you know? GREATLY looking forward to that, even more than these 2 before it which is saying something! Lastly, I remember someone saying a while back they would like to see videos of great players often discussed on here. Here is one on a superb YouTube channel (Irequested this vid actually) :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pca5VFpxuYc Hope this comes in useful. Lastly, don't worry about Sachin's form- I am quite sure he has been significantly affected by the 100th ton issue, something which has affected other bona fide legends in the past (eg Hobbs took wks to get his FC one, then messaged his wife "At last!".)

  • delmeister on August 17, 2011, 1:45 GMT

    Alex- I'm sorry to see you don't get to watch cricket any more, and given my usual scandolous neglect of input to this blog (mainly due to not having home internet as this is only city in England with only 1,extremely sustandard ISP so better to use free 24hr service at my old uni half hr walk away),so is about time I made myself useful! Not sure if you can get this site, but here goes :- http://www.criconline.tv/. Best highlights site Ican find, hope this helps? Few words on current series- I feel the Indian board have overworked their country's heroes horribly for many yrs (tho other boards are replicating this),so this is the upshot. I am English (with completely Indian parentage), but I am sorry- our pace attack is not at all in same league as Windies juggernauts, but very impressive nevertheless, particularly as a selfless unit, 'bowling in partnerships'.Before series started I rated neither side no1-I gave that title to SA, particularly when I heard Tahir was eligible for TBC

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 16, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    Whoa! Pallab, Alex et al...you are coming at Tendulkar like sabre toothed tigers...I must rescue him. We, the Indian fans and media, are responsible for the current sorry plight. We raised Tendulkar into World XIs (without checking his group 5 averages), we clapped for every meaningless one-day century (the best centuries were 141, 143, 134, 117*, but not the dozens in silly triangular tournaments), we counted until 99 (whereas we should have been happy about his 51 test centuries), we looked the other way when he stood down as captain after the beating in Australia, we explained his aging (suddenly) and being unable to face the world's best bowling attack today, we made foolish comparisons with Bradman, we put pressure on him to score his 100th century in Lords in the 2000th test, we scorned our past greats ("Gavaskar was not the best opener even in his own time"), we downplayed Laxman / Dravid to raise Tendulkar. Tendulkar is too guileless and artless to manage all this himself.

  • Ruchir on August 16, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    I must confess to being more optimistic about test cricket than others here. lets face it, even before T20/IPL, test cricket was not the most popular form of the game. ODIs were much more popular probably except in England. But that does not mean that test cricket was going to die. It will change with times which is ineveitable. I am sure there were people predicting the demise of tests when ODIs became popular in 80s/90s.

    Test cricket has survived more than a century. I am sure it can survive the IPL with its liquor barons and filmstars

  • Ruchir on August 16, 2011, 15:11 GMT

    @Pallab/Shrikanth Merchant's avg of 98 in Ranji is not really representative. That only accounts for 47 of his 234 FC innings and 3600 of his more than 13000 runs The rest of his FC career(England tours and the Bombay quadrangulars) will most likely put his FC record much closer to his test avg. It is quite believable that the bowling quality was much higher in the annual Bombay quadrangulars than in the Ranji matches

    Completely unrelated, but those who have read Ramchandra Guha's wonderful "Corner of a foreign field" will remember how he talks about being inspired to write the book after reading a history of the city of Bombay which mentioned Vijay Merchant only as a successful textile tycoon

  • Boll on August 16, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    @RANGArajan. Absolutely. I can`t imagine better learning experiences for young cricketers than to tour and play in these foreign conditions. Not only a great way to improve cricket across the world, but presumably to improve relations between cricketing countries/players.

  • RANGArajan on August 16, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    @BOLL: I think to revive Test cricket, revive FC cricket. May be we should have tours of Duleep Trophy teams to Aus, Eng & SAF. Best of each zones selected and they go on tours. When CLT20 is a possibility, why not this? During English season, send them to England. Let them be a part of the leagues (with BCCI’s power, this is very much possible). During Aus season, send them to Aus. When there is so much money to be made, why not make money properly? Agreed, comedy movies like IPL do thrill, but serious movies do thrill too!! If excessive cricket is of the 4-day / 3-day variety, players make history. If excessive cricket is of the 20 over format, cricket becomes history. [[ One of the best comments received recently. You cannot blame Raina. He has not faced top class bowling, other than in international matches. If he had been part of a Central Zone team which underwent a tough tour of Australia or England, he would have learnt a lot. In addition to IPL, the blame rests on the pathetic state of Indian FC. Even in the top division, the quality is at best, average. And when do these T20/IPL/ODI guys play there. Ananth: ]]

  • RANGArajan on August 16, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    Test cricket is being made less interesting, particularly when it India "underperforms". However, I must admit that though we claim Indians are superiorly talented, I somehow get the feeling that we are not. We are average to above average at the most. When we win in India, we do not win comprehensively. Forget the dustbowl wins in 1993-94 against declining England and not yet ready SL. We scraped through most series even at home. Lost to Pak in 99, drew SL in 97, 2001 Aus series was more so lopsided till 281 happened,so was 2010 v Auz. We expect too much from Ind players to win. Yes, we are not bad and we can win the odd match. But then we weren’t world beaters EVEN at home. We also take no pride in winning and hence, get satisfied analyzing averages while the rest of the world has taken cricket to a new high. I repeat, we are not BAD but definitely not deities as depicted by media. Let us accept it & appreciate genuinely good cricket and not be drawn into partisan supporting.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 16, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Ananth, this is a bit subjective, but watching us make 189 based on Sandhu (#9) making 71, after watching 451 run stand (Miandad 280, Mudassar 231) coming to an end followed by a declaration at 581/3 takes some beating. In this series, 24/75 is the score after three tests, two of which were competitive for some time. In Pakistan, from the very first ball, the series was unbelievably one-sided. After 4 tests, we were 3-0, and (I wont press you to reveal more) if we take a measurement after 4 tests, i am sure that beating will come close. I agree on Australia 3-0, where we got slaughtered, but in Pak, each test was like the Sydney test. We did not hope for more than 5 wickets per test as a team (this Pak team thrashed full strength OZ 3-0 in 3 tests). We talk of media pressure on Tendulkar. There was serious crowd pressure then too - cricketers' houses were stoned if they lost, especially to Pakistan. When we lost to WI, the Indian bus was stoned right outside the stadium. [[ Going only by the result, which is the most sensible thing to do, the current series matches the 1959 one. The fourth Test might change that. I do not agree that we were that hopelessly outplayed during 1982-83. The Indian scores 379 (draw), 169 & 197 (loss), 372 & 286 (loss), 189 & 273 (loss), 235/3 (draw), 393/8 & 224/2 is not comparable to the current run of 6 sub-300 scores. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 8:58 GMT

    In fact, I have been advocating a Ganguly/Kumble jugalbandi to force a coup on BCCI and come to power somehow. Ganguly Nikita Khrushchev-like can issue diktats to produce sporting pitches/get more practice matches on tough tours and Kumble Jack Welsh- like can run BCCI like a smoothly-oiled machine with good of all nations at heart (especially supporting WI and Pak during their down phases).

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    “SRT has never been one for taking bold positions about the state of the game. Thats the reason he has remained "non-controversial". @Ruchir/Ananth:You can add Dravid’s name to that list; no raising of voice and so you remain a gentleman all thru your career (Kumble is more balanced and stood upto Mallya). That’s where Ganguly is different and SMG in ‘80s India fighting for players’ cause. Remember what Ganguly said during Nagpur Test retirement? That whatever he did-persona changes on field and fighting/combative off field,issues/players that he fought was all for the cause of Indian cricket. I am seeing many Ganguly baiters on forums retrospectively acknowledging the toughness that he showcased against Waugh’s no. 1 team and Hussain’s teams (India never lost to them) after India's loss in England.

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    “SRT failure in Eng is Karma in full flow: he let go of 4 tests deeming WI unworthy and now fate is taking 4 tests from him.” @Alex:You and I are like bloodhounds,seeing undercurrents/tics and understand SRT’s psyche like psychoanalysts!I mentioned on other forums virtually the same thing about SRT rating the value of media coverage and adulation for his 100th 100 in traditional England rather than in a sprinkling of islands playing cricket with barely any popular media! To think that he was desperate for a tour to WI as a 15 year old in ’89 and now missing 7 priceless Tests in WI over 2 tours to score 100s and runs. About karma’s bite:News of The World with its shady practices (bribing police officers to collect info,setting up prospects, hacking phones)had to close down after 150 plus years of operations;this after damning a 18-year old M. Amir.I can bet they set him up with trumped up charges and lots of evidence about NOTW’s dubious dealings now surfing in mainstream publications.

  • Boll on August 16, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    @shrikanthk. I agree that a strong Indian team is of great importance to test cricket. I`m not sure we need (yet) another form of the game though.

    England and Australia (attendances of over 750,000 for the recent Ashes series) remain easily the strongest in terms of attendances. South Africa, seem to struggle for some reason, even when they`re as strong as they are now. India, presumably for political reasons, continues to hold tests at grounds where there are pitifully small crowds. If matches were held at better venues (Eden Gardens) for example, it would be a fantastic advertisement for the game in India and the cricketing world as a whole. I would think that day/night tests are also a way forward.

  • Boll on August 16, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    cont`d. although from the `99/`00 debacle, India did unearth the brilliance of VVS. He must have been perilously close to being dropped though - averaged in the mid-20s after 17 tests with no centuries, had scored only about 50 runs in 5 innings that series prior to his 2nd innings masterpiece at the SCG. I also imagine his 167 out of 261 is very close to the highest percentage of runs scored by a player in an innings (64%) - Bannerman I believe is still the highest (165 out of 245 @67.3%) - both scores maiden centuries, or am I getting confused here? [[ Bannerman was at 67.3. Slater with 66.8% came within a stroke of demolishing that. Ananth: ]]

    No such batting revelations from India this series unfortunately, although Praveen`s guts (and skill) with bat and ball have been very impressive.

  • Nitin Gautam on August 16, 2011, 7:38 GMT

    I seriously wonder how people are bashing senior players for skipping WI tour. 1st of all they all want an infusion of fresh blood in the team on cost of ageing legends & still they want them to play in all the matches (how & when will youngsters get the chance then), WI tour turned out to be tougher than expected (its more because of fresh blood-Mukund,Vijay,kohli,Badri etc could not do justice to their talent& had all so called ageing players played the WI tour might be little easier than what we call it now). & plz what does SRT selling his Ferrari has anything to do with cricket. i believe Eng bowling was far superior & venomous in English condition & tht was the reason for batting failure. Dravid was his usual self ever reliabe, SRT played fluently everytime & was undone by some smart thinking by very gud bowlers in favorable conditions. dont call him GOD as he is also human & mistakes are bound to happen. needless to say, no youngster still matches to RD, SRT, LAX. [[ Nitin I agree with you that SRT selling his Ferrari is his personal life and no one has any right to comemnt on that. You will notice that I scrupulously stay from comments on personal decisions. However the West Indies tour is not a personal matter. It is representing the country. I was only loud-thinking why SRT would not have skipped the IPL and played the West indies tour. You cannot question the rationale behind that. Again this is not personal. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 16, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    @Gerry. I would imagine India`s `99/`00 series in Aus would have been their worst performance post 1970 prior to this one; 3-0 (lost by 285runs, lost by 180 runs, lost by an innings and 141 runs)and averaged only 20.65 runs per wicket, while every Indian`s favourite Australian averaged 125 batting at No.6. [[ If I keep on giving the series result indixes for each of these series, half my article will be pre-published. Wait for the complete article. You guys are forgetting a series like England 1959. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 16, 2011, 5:49 GMT

    I agree that little can be read into first class averages of international players. Don, Hobbs etc. played it very seriously. Richards, Gavaskar etc. had FC averages much lower than tests (as per Ted Dexter's 1979 book), suggesting that they did not have the hunger to keep scoring like Hobbs. Hick scored since he could not get runs (even one) against Ambrose for several tests. Today FC is also varied - English county is hardly serious any more, with few international players (who are very busy, unlike 80s, where Greenidge / Richards opening for Hampshire, Imran, Le-Roux opening for Sussex was common) available. Australia plays it very seriously. India does not have even its test players for tests, forget FC. So no point discussing FC, other than to compare Pujara and Mukund from a prospective selection point of view. For international players, looking at FC is like taking Nobel Prize candidates and evaluating them on the basis of their school marks.

  • shrikanthk on August 16, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    Imagine SRT(facing EXTREME positive pressure from media from 1995 onwards with lucrative endorsement deal with WorldTel’s Masceranhas signifying his influence ) and Ganguly (negative pressure all thru career) playing for NZ/Zim then? SRT might have ended with a 70 plus average then!

    I object to this line of reasoning. It's a bit like observing a portion of a linear curve and assuming a linear relationship for the rest of the data.

    I believe there is a ceiling to one's batting average largely a function of the batsman's skill and temperament. The actual average in say Test cricket may be lower than the ceiling because of extraneous factors like an inability to handle pressure. Whereas, in FC cricket, the average is generally close to the ceiling. But it's unlikely that the ceiling will be broken just because you reduce the extraneous pressures somehow.

  • shrikanthk on August 16, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    And I see that you have quite cavalierly halved Merchant’s average if he had played in English FC

    I didn't halve it! Merchant's overall First class average is 71 by the way. Not 98.

    Moreover, I mentioned that his Test average of 46 is probably misleading since it is a small sample. All I said was that if he were to play a fairly large sample of tests and FC games in similar conditions, the average wouldn't be too different. This is not an idle claim. It is based on history. Examine the FC records of any number of "professional" English cricketers, who would naturally take every game (be it FC or Second class seriously). The FC average is seldom separated by the test avg by over 10 runs. With bowlers, you're more likely to find discrepancies, since in the old days test pitches used to be a lot truer than FC pitches.

    Regarding Gower's FC avg: Let's discuss what he did and not what he MIGHT have done.

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    attacking cricket). In fact, Gooch of fitness fanaticism and nets drill fame considered Gower “unEnglish” –like in approach and technique and quickly ousted him during his regime (nothing to do with Tiget Moth plane incident in1991 Ashes!).Doubtless, Gower did not care about FC averages and with his talent (which @Anath,Alex,Gerry would testify to having seen him play) could have had a 60 plus FC average. About throwing wicket: You know how easy (if you are not fixing a match) it is for a batsman to get out subtly! A lazy waft outside off-stump, hitting the ball in the air suddenly after playing strokes all along the ground in entire innings. And Hick/Ramprakash failures due to facing pressure from media? Imagine SRT(facing EXTREME positive pressure from media from 1995 onwards with lucrative endorsement deal with WorldTel’s Masceranhas signifying his influence ) and Ganguly (negative pressure all thru career) playing for NZ/Zim then? SRT might have ended with a 70 plus average then!

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    to have changed fast in mere 2 decades; but sill the fastest pitch first up. Nagpur’s greentop has handed India 3 defeats against SA and Aus. Chennai always produces results. Kolkata’s is a mix of Melbourne and Sydney. Only Delhi’s Kotla is flat. In fact, with zonal Ranji matches being done away with, teams are actually playing all over the country in diff. conditions. @SHRI: By “standardized” ODIs I meant level playing field, standard format and playing rules (not like only 70-80 overs possible in FC in northern India and Pakistan during winter while long-daylight English summers allowing 90-110 overs in FC giving unfair advantages to batsmen here to score big). About Gower: Possibly the worst eg. you could have taken. He is one of my prime egs of Motivation/Mindset while playing FC. If you have followed Eng Cricket, you would know that Gower for all his talent used to be pilloried in the press for his lazy, casual strokes often (as against Sehwag being roasted only for his overt

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    International careers. Am sure you won’t do that. Non-Indian fans/commenters have often wondered how SMG,Jimmy,GRV played pace so well despite facing trundlers in nets and FC all their lives. It was only after 1988 that Indian players faced 80 mph + bowlers (TA Sekhar,Raju Kulkarni were rare 2 offs in mid-80s) in Vaidya, Ankola,Srinath,Razdan,Wassan. Since you never look towards home on certain cricketing issues: let me point out the different conditions of Indian Test/other domestic centers. ODIs played in Guwahati have always produced English conditions swing (see the early fall of wickets in almost all ODIs and even a fading Mohanty picked up a 9-for here in FC). The only ODI played in high-altitude Srinagar in ’83 against WI produced swing (Imran for political reasons refused to play here with Pak team later). Wankhede has always been the most sporting track in the country (when not doctored like 2004 OZ Test):pace/seam on 2 days and progressive spin later. Mohali’s character seems

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    tracks in so-called spin-friendly Sydney, Port of Spain and maybe Oval.No wonder in past 40 years of English FC, they have still not produced adept players of spin barring a Hussain/Thorpe/Gower and few others. Even a strong line-up of Gooch/Smith/Gatting/Hick/Atherton/Stewart could not tackle an average spin attack in 1993(Kumble was just establishing himself then). Let’s not even talk about how they fared against Warne in 4 series in England or Murali/Mustaq/Saqlain. In fact, aging Mushy and Saq were still taking wickets by the dozens in blustery May/June till recently. And I see that you have quite cavalierly halved Merchant’s average if he had played in English FC. On the same token, I want to see you add 10 points to Gavaskar,Mohinder,Vengsarkar’s,GRV Test averages cos they played only 70 mph (if even that!) trundlers all their formative years in Indian cricket!And then BRIDGED the gap splendidly and raise their game to play pace/fast-medium b/w 80-95 mph all thru their

  • Pallab on August 16, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    “..not about the number of countries someone plays in. about the variety of conditions encountered. In England, you encounter a wider range of batting conditions than you would while playing on 20 grounds spread across 4 different countries in Asia.” @SHRI: Come on. Over-simplification ,overt romanticizing and factually incorrect in some parts. If we go by what you say, the dynamics of ICC’s FTP will have to change! A Ponting can play on a supposed “turner” in England and prove the best against spin. Raina/Yuvi need not play on distinctively different fast tracks of SA/Aus and just tour England and boast of being competent players of pace! Not even the driest conditions or end summer in England can produce the vicious spin tracks of Kanpur,Ahmedabad and Colombo. The searching examination that players get against spin on these tracks is a LOT different than playing spin on “truer” (ball turning with even bounce as against the scooters and ankle level turn in rank turners in India) spin

  • Alex on August 16, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    @Ananth: I am fully with you on what IPL's 800K paycheck does for Badrinath/Vijay and how much it should mean to Dhoni-SRT. However, we are talking of SRT who amazingly sold his Ferrari gift for cash. Since when he fell on such hard days that he had to pawn his gifts? Next what - auction of his WC gold medal or taking it straight to the nearest jeweller to melt it for ready cash?

    I think he let go of the WI tour to "time" his 100th hundred in Eng, deeming WI unworthy of this milestone. So, his failure in Eng is Karma in full flow: he let go of 4 tests deeming WI unworthy and now fate is taking 4 tests from him. Shastri Bot will, no doubt, observe "I just get the feeling ... this failure is exactly what the doctor ordered!"

  • shrikanthk on August 16, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    The only solution I can think of is to come up with a new format which can be just as popular as T20 and yet manages to capture the flavour of test cricket in a single day's play....

    Ideas anyone?

    I posed this question. Since there haven't been any responses, lemme suggest something -

    How about a one-day game, with 6 batsmen (including 1 WK), 5 bowlers. None of the batsmen can bowl. None of the bowlers can bat. So, a team gets all out if it loses 5 wickets. Draw is an option.

    50 overs a side. Max of 15 overs per bowler. Use Red-ball if possible.

    This format will force bowlers to attack more. It will also force batsmen to weigh risk and return more closely before attacking. And no game will be dead until the last ball is bowled. In effect, we are capturing the flavour of Test cricket in a single day.

    It should be more popular than the ODI format, which sucks if the team chasing loses early wickets. In this format, interest is maintained till the end. [[ Aren't there enough formats. Why bring in a new format. A few months back I did an article on CastrolCricket titled Än adrenaline shot for the ODI game". I have uploaded this document and provided the link below. What you are suggesting can be done with tweaking the ODI game in a real sense. http://www.thirdslip.com/misc/YA_ODI.doc Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 16, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    @Ananth: Like srikanthk & Ruchir, I too think that no way a cricketer with a shelf life of 10-12 years will let go of IPL if it pays him 1+ million USD for 2 months. I like the "eye-ball" phrase: T20 indeed goes from eyeballs to wallets unlike tests which go eyeballs to brain/mind.

    From SRT's first interview (see its YouTube link in my comments) it is clear that he doesn't put one form of cricket above other. That said, he should have played in WI and gotten match-ready rather than "acclimatizing" in Eng, whatever that meant.

    Would Mukesh Ambani have approved of SRT skipping IPL? Maybe ... since SRT's captaincy and slow opening cost MI the finals. But Ambani would *certainly* have approved SRT's selling of his Ferrari for cash: effectively, SRT recd cash to drive a Ferrari for free for 10 yrs ... this is "baniyagiri" it is best. We may want SRT to sit next to the Don only in the cricket echelons but who needs the Don when you can sit next to Ambani? [[ Cricket survives because of BCCI/Ambani/Mallya/Airtel/Hero et al. However Test cricket lives because of hopeless romantics like a few of us. I disagree slightly on the million dollars. The 800k dollars is like gold/platinum for someone like Badrinath. Otherwise he would be earning something, but not much. But to players whose annual earlnings already touch the 20 million mark, this one million dollars should not mean much but, in reality, would mean a lot. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 15, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    [[ Damn the eyeballs. If there was one Indian player who could have done what I suugested, it was SRT. He has the stature and is the holiest of holy cows. Even Mukhesh Ambani would not have minded. The message would have passed that he considers Test cricket very important, Ananth: ]]

    I have my doubts that SRT considers test cricket more important that other forms of cricket(and I don't hold that against him). Remember this is the guy who said that winning the ODI Triangular series in AUS was the greatest achievement of his career (obviously before the world cup) ahead of series wins in Eng and Pak

    He obviously enjoys all forms of the game and I don't think i would criticize him for not treating test cricket as more important just because I and others on this forum believe so

    SRT has never been one for taking bold(or any) positions about the state/direction of the game. Thats the reason he has remained "non-controversial".

  • Alex on August 15, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    @Ananth: Thanks for the Guha article but SMG-RJS have no power over MCA elections. Since politicins have run MCA for years, Vengsarkar was bound to get defeated. One feels bad for Tatyarao but he is a Mumbai icon and they will give him a role in MCA.

    A few observations. Before the series started, Eng said they didn't bother much about SRT but wanted to focus on MSD. I think they did a great job of that on many levels. Fletcher had a poor coaching record to begin with. Chappell says 4 years is max for a captain and MSD donned a haggard look a year back itself. Indian bowlers are bad - the 2 main bowlers broke down but even they were not great: Zaheer's career ave is 33 while Bhajji averages 50 in Eng. The pitches had no demons. So, the only way to safety was that our batsmen score heavy ... in that case, we would have entered the 4th test 1-0 down. I think Ind batsmen are not out of form but they are simply low on preparation & readiness: that can be improved methodically.

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    Ananth: Ofcourse it's bad. But it isn't the end of the world. Remember the 1938 Oval test? That test involved an Australian team boasting names like Bradman, O'Reilly, McCabe, Fingleton and Fleetwood-Smith. The result of that test match, till date, remains the worst ever innings defeat EVER suffered by ANY SIDE in the history of test cricket. Now, Bradman was the captain of that unfortunate side. Did anyone called for his head after that test! I suspect no one did. [[ You seem to be misunderstanding the comments. I am not the most die-hard supporter of India and am not grieving that much. What I am saying is that this is more of a batting failure than bowling failure because of the experience and expectations. There is a reluctance to do that. Ananth: ]]

    This is not for the first time that a decent side has suffered unexpected setbacks. It has happened throughout test history.

    England trounced India 3-0 in 1974. But later that year, suffered humiliating losses in the hands of Lillee/Thommo.

    England, led by Illingworth, defeated Aus in '70-71 in Australia. But a few months later, suffered a home series loss against Wadekar's Indians!

    Australia, after 16 straight wins, lost 1-2 to India in 2001 - a side without Srinath/Kumble!!

    It's all in the game!

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 15, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    Ananth, 24.2-75.8 sounds just about right - i.e. 3x - which ties in with a thought i had in one of my recent nightmares that India should be allowed to play three innings and England only one to salvage a contest out of this. I would wager that the worst ever suffered by India (post 1970) is Pakistan 1982-83. This series comes, on the basis of gut feel, perilously close. Would love to see your results on the series analysis to confirm whether Pak 82-83 was indeed worst in Indian history (post 1970). Sound a bit like Leopold Von Sacher Masoch, even to myself. [[ You must be kidding. 6 Tests, 3 comfortable wins and 3 draws makes this 66-34 for Pakistan. Don't make me reveal more. I opened the door so must give you a glimpse. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 12:33 GMT

    Why should Tendulkar not have skipped IPL and gone on the WI tour. For that matter, the other top Indian players also

    Ananth: We are a bunch of romantics on this thread. Maybe we have right on our side.

    But we don't live in an ideal world. There is no way any Indian player will back out of the IPL (which attracts FAR more eyeballs than the series that is going on currently in the Old Blighty). Even a relatively sedate IPL season after a strenuous World Cup attracts a larger TV audience than any test series. [[ Damn the eyeballs. If there was one Indian player who could have done what I suugested, it was SRT. He has the stature and is the holiest of holy cows. Even Mukhesh Ambani would not have minded. The message would have passed that he considers Test cricket very important, Ananth: ]]

    I genuinely fear for Test cricket's health if India's decline in the format is not arrested. It has ramifications that go far beyond India.

    The only solution I can think of is to come up with a new format which can be just as popular as T20 and yet manages to capture the flavour of test cricket in a single day's play....

    Ideas anyone?

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    Ananth, Gerry: These days, we are, as a rule, prone to overreaction. 0-3, 0-4 sounds bad. But similar "calamities" have befallen teams in the past. [[ Everything said and done and rankings be damned, 0-3 is a drubbing. Not just 0-3. By my result analysis, will be the basis for a futture series-leval article, India lost the matches 32.1-67.9, 27.2-72.8 and 13.2-86.8. That makes the average series-to-date as 24.2-75.8. If that is not a drubbing, what is. Ananth: ]]

    Take for instance the English side of 1948 which lost 0-4 to Australia. The contemporary press labeled them as one of the weaker English sides of all time. But that's because the pressmen in those days had independent judgments and they weren't swayed by stuff like "ICC rankings" which mislead us.

    But today, if you look at that English side, it seems anything but weak. Legends from that side include Hutton, Bedser, Compton, Godfrey Evans and Laker! Not to mention some fine players like Edrich, Hollies and Washbrook.

    Now, I'd say that English side definitely sounds stronger than the current Indian side! Yet, the team lost 4-0.

    The point is similar calamities have happened to better sides in the past. Let us not be too harsh on this very limited Indian side. Lastly, don't take "rankings" too seriously. Rely on common sense instead

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 11:22 GMT

    I saw Shrikanthk say that he would back Tendulkar to score against any great fast bowling combination in history

    I was judging Tendulkar based on his performances over the past 20 years (ever since I first saw him play Pak in an ODI as a 5 year old!)

    I cannot judge a 38 year old legend approaching retirement based on his performances in an isolated series against a top notch pace attack with just the right mix of youth and experience! [[ That I agree. The quartet of Holding, Roberts, Garner, Marshall would have troubled Bradman for sure. And the other batsmen are mere greats. They would have their work cut out against this relentless attack. Sure they would have found their way out, with a lot of difficulty. To think that there is a possibility of England playing Tremlett instead of Bopara. That would be a 4-pronged pace attack, maybe not the level of the West Indian quartet, but nearly so. Ananth: ]]

    It's a bit like judging Wally Hammond based on his performances against Lindwall and Miller in '46-47! An ageing 43 year old pitted against two great fast bowlers approaching their peak.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 15, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    Having said that, i believe that the big three should step down. Or be tapped on the shoulder. There is no case for imagining that they would be at their best when England come visiting in 4Q2012. If the big three retire only at the end of the Australian tour (that is one more cross a sceptic like me has had to bear - hearing that Tendulkar has an average of 60 against the champion OZ team, whereas we know how many of them were group 5, and this applies to Dravid also), as Ravi Shastri said in a recent dinner event, then we must be collectively be prepared to have our noses rubbed in the ground next winter by England. We really need to move fast to give international exposure to Rohit Sharma, Pujara and Virat Kohli, the three young players who would beat Boycott's mum into his World XI on the basis of being better players of the short pitched ball than her.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 15, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    Ananth, agree on all counts. We are a holy land. Our batsmen are holy cows. G & S are media holy cows. In such a bovine environment, one should however not overlook some facts. If Laxman had not got run out freakishly in Cape Town, with Tendulkar playing a genuinely high class innings (146), that match was in the bag. We would have won 2-1. Against much the same SA, England very nearly lost 3-1 (ultimately was 1-1, because of the heroic performances of Bell and Colly). We are not as bad a team as 3-0 here suggests. I feel we got off to a bad start, due to poor attitude / preparation / selection (Raina, Yuvraj) and in tests 2 and 3 have deteriorated and now totally lost it, a bit like Ali v/s Frazier III in round 14.

    But if we blame G & S, BCCI too much, we are ignoring 1) what were Dhoni & Fletcher doing watching Zaheer Khan and others (each and every single player except Ishant) get fat 2) Is Dhoni really a test captain (he did this "listless captaincy" bit in cape town also). [[ We certainly are not 0-3, going on 0-4, material. If we had planned better (not to be attrributed to ill-luck) and our batsmen had got our head down the way Cook did and Piertersen in the initial part of that 200, I feel we would have been 1-2 with a lot at stake at Oval. And BCCI and the CoS mouth the same words that it is a passing cloud. After this series and a ODI series which we might win 3-2 or lose 2-3 (I am not sure how many matches), the same set of players would come and play in the Champions' League. In the night at 8 PM, in coloured clothing and with the pom-poms whirling, and the bowlers bowling with one hand tied behind their back, the Rainas and Vijays would come into their element. What motivation would there be for Dhoni/Tendulkar. Oh I am sure he would get one or more 100s in one of the next 6 matches, that is not the point. How hollow that whole circus is going to be. I have no doubt that 20000 guys would troop into the ground, that will never be a problem. Ananth: ]]

  • Srini on August 15, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    @Alex Oh its nothing, someone said Lara didn't care about ODIs after 99 but he held up fine upto 05. That was my point. I understand SRT didnt open till his 74-75th ODI and Lara stopped opening in the late 90s so I guess it evened out in the end. I also think Ponting is an underrated ODI batsman. Just before he lost form he matched SRT step for step and he still isn't that off. Plus for the best part of his career Oz openers were MEW, ACG & Hayden and he has 30 100s so I kinda feel he should get more hype for his ODI record.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 15, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    This English attack is just Bresnan, Broad and Anderson, not Marshall, Garner and Holding (see today's article by Rajesh). I saw Shrikanthk say that he would back Tendulkar to score against any great fast bowling combination in history. Firstly Tendulkar's group 5 stats were decidedly unflattering ("batsmen across bowling groups across ages"). Secondly, a very good bowling attack, the English attack, is here, and now, and we are witnessing an inform Tendulkar being made to look ordinary (the early handsome strokes do not fool anyone), especially when the heat is on. Am disappointed with Laxman. He has looked comfortable but kept making unforced errors. Dravid has excelled but has been unable to tackle it all by himself. Sehwag (Waca???). The plain fact is that our batsmen are facing a genuinely great pace attack after a long time and the average inflation process has been interrupted. But fans need not worry. We are playing WI and then Aus (will be flat tracks; BCCI is a force yet). [[ The irony is that this English pace attack, on paper & computer, has just gone nelow 30 in the first innings of last Test, Broad and Anderson above 30 and Swann below 30. Bresnan's adjusted figure also comes below 30. This does not compare with the frightening West Indian attack. Then everything comes to lack of preparation. Probably there is a modicum of truth in what Nasser Hussain told. Why should Tendulkar not have skipped IPL and gone on the WI tour. For that matter, the other top Indian players also. Did you read Ramachandra Guha's scathing article on the two Indian media holy cows. In Criciinfo. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 15, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    @Srini: Not sure what you are trying to say by pointing out Lara's 239 innings vs SRT's 235 to reach the 9000 run mark. Their stats at this milestone:

    Lara: 246 matches, 239 inn, 9031 runs, ave=42.39, 18 100's, 57 50's, SR=79.26, physical age span= 21 through 36. SRT: 242 matches, 235 inn, 9046 runs, ave=42.45, 25 100's, 46 50's, SR=86.56, physical age span= 16 through 27.

    By age 21, SRT had already played 56 matches and scored 1500 runs at ave=32 ... often arriving at number 5/6/7. While his early start has enabled SRT to score more runs, it has come at this inevitable cost of average. I was floored to see Pietersen state in press, 2 days back, that Indian batsmen are nothing special and are dominated by the England bowlers. OK ... we will see. Meanwhile, at least we Indian fans should support the true worth of our batsmen. [[ IN THIS SERIES, the Indian batsmen, almost all of them, have been sub-par and the English bowlers have owned them. Why should you worry when Pietersen says this. This is exactly what quite a few Indian commentators/writers, barring the well-known 2/3, are saying. I do not know the exact words used by Gavaskar before the series on the English fast bowlers. It was indeed very uncomplimentary. He even went on to say, to the effect, that one bowler ran back rather than bowl to Indian bastmen. And that if England prepared pacier and swinging wickets, India would come out roses. Gavaskar's well-known animosoty towards the Western players/media certainly invites riposte, when they could say that. Let us take it on the chin. We may treat the Indian batsmen as holy cows. There is no need to expect foreign players/media to do so. They would respect Tendulkar, as shown by the fan reaction when he walked in and out at Birmingham. But they would be delighted that all the vaunted Indian batsmen, inluding Tendulkar, have failed, barring 3/4 individual innings. This series is more a batting failure than a bowling failure for the simple reason the top-6, on an average have carried 35-45000 runs between them while the top 3 bowlers have carried 250 wickets + Harbhajan. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    Believe me, Gavaskar was SERIOUSLY considered “unoutable” in domestic cricket (many accounts about that). So also Zaheer Abbas. You don’t expect these players to score meaningless not out 100s/200s to boost their FC averages above their Tests and showcase their overall greatness

    Are you suggesting he used to throw away his wicket while playing for Mumbai? Not sure if he did. Anyway, by the same token, even Bradman often threw away his wicket in FC cricket (by his own admission) - especially on the 1948 tour. The fact of the matter is that batting is tough business. It takes one ball to get someone out. It doesn't matter who you're facing. Be it Dennis Lillee or a Kanga League bowler. It takes one mistake to get you out. That's what makes cricket performances somewhat impervious to opposition quality.

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    stupendous performances in “standardized” international ODIs which add luster to the Tests greatness of SRT,Ponting,Lara, Kallis, Richards, Sangakarra

    You are a fan of "standardization" aren't you? I don't know how achievements in ODIs can add to the lustre of a Test record. ODIs are a different game altogether. Where the one thing that matters most is the ability to handle scoreboard pressure. Other factors don't count as much given the deep fields. It attracts different skill sets altogether both for batsmen and bowlers. Someone like Chris Harris can make a career as a bowler in ODIs (who won't make it to most Ranji sides as a bowler!)

    I am not being critical of ODIs. All I am saying is that it is a different game (not just a different form of the same game).

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    The failure of Ramps and Hick in test cricket was more of a mental thing, partly induced by the enormous pressures of playing for England with a very intrusive press with sky high expectations. I'm sure both of them would've been distinguished test cricketers with very good records had they played for say NZ or Zimbabwe!

    My point is that everything boils down to conditions! You cannot compare the FC record of someone who has played all his 4 day cricket in Ranji with his test record (involving matches across several continents). Eg: Merchant played most of his FC cricket in India. But the tests were played largely abroad. So, it isn't a fair comparison. Had he played all his FC cricket in England, I'm sure his FC avg would be similar to his Test average (which is admittedly unreliable given the small sample).

    Again, when you take up cases like WV Raman, Jaffer and Sharma, the comparison between Test and FC is not valid since the conditions are not the same.

  • shrikanthk on August 15, 2011, 4:18 GMT

    It is about the INDSIPUTABLE fact that Don was a “2 country conditions specialist”

    The issue is not about the number of countries someone plays in. It's about the variety of conditions encountered. Anyone familiar with English cricket will tell you that in playing from early April (temp around 10deg) to late August (temp around 30deg) across an admittedly small country, you encounter a wider range of batting conditions than you would while playing on 20 grounds spread across 4 different countries in Asia.

    No wonder so very few players in the history of English cricket have averaged more than 50 in FC circuit. Even a legend like David Gower could manage a FC avg of only 40. Hobbs averaged 50 as opposed to 56 in tests. A talented youngster like Eoine Morgan averages 39 in FC cricket (I'm sure he'd average close to 50 in Ranji).

    So if Ramps and Hick have averaged 50+ over 20 years of FC cricket, it's a phenomenal achievement (albeit in an era of covered wickets). TO BE CONTD....

  • Pallab on August 15, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    matches) after limited chances at international level ( I considered his ODI skills highly). If not for 3 day Ranji and compulsions of declaring/match situations, he could have pushed his FC average beyond 67.!Another eg. of Motivation (or not). VVS was scoring big 200s in domestic cricket on his stated mission to regain his place back in Tests in ‘99/00 and even earlier. Do you still see him with the same motivation while playing sundry FC again just to boost his averages way above 47 Test average? M. Amarnath had a fantastic FC average in late’70s before his another comeback in Tests against Pak in 1982. He never showed the same commitment (dedication cannot be questioned as he was proud to represent DelhI) to FC after that. By the way, WV Raman’s FC average is twice his Test Average! Look at the skew in Wasim Jaffer’s comparison too (has a good enough Test playing sample).

  • Pallab on August 15, 2011, 0:54 GMT

    greatness as he was never a decisive ODI batsman). Scoring humungous FC runs at Bradmenesque averages will never command that aura (from analysts and fans) because of subjective factors like motivation, MINDSET, temperament, consistent monetary benefits (which only county cricket and S.Shield /Pura Cup have allowed). Believe me, Gavaskar was SERIOUSLY considered “unoutable” in domestic cricket (many accounts about that). So also Zaheer Abbas. You don’t expect these players to score meaningless not out 100s/200s to boost their FC averages above their Tests and showcase their overall greatness. You think a Ponting, Lara, Sehwag or VVS cannot stay for hours in FC matches (quick scorers unlike Dravid who can do the same) and stay N.O.? In fact, the myth of FC greatness conflating to overall “greatworthiness” has been busted with the records of Hick,Ramprakash,A.Sharma, Malhotra etc. An Ajay Sharma was highly motivated to be a domestic cricket legend (his family came to see him at many

  • Pallab on August 15, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    himself with a 100 on 5th trip. @Ananth: I had worked out almost the same returns.I would have tipped Don to just about cross 10,000 runs though @SHRI:Also you back to your familiar FC theory “First class averages so very similar to their overall test average”. I see you are always selective and never EVER bring up Merchant’s 98 average in Ranji cricket (his Test sample is too small to ever know about his greatness in Tests as CLEAR racial politics of Imperial Cricket Conference as against the ICC as we know it after 1965 put paid to his hopes of playing beyond 10 Tests).You know full well that FC never had/has the common /standard format,playing condtions,structure across countries for lauding FC averages of Don, Merchant et all (unlike stupendous performances in “standardized” international ODIs which add luster to the Tests greatness of SRT,Ponting,Lara, Kallis, Richards, Sangakarra over Mahela cos of Sanga’s better away performances. I still have doubts about Dravid’s ODI TBC.

  • Pallab on August 15, 2011, 0:48 GMT

    “So, they start wondering, would he have sustained an average of 99 over say 80 tests? I feel such reservations are not necessary at all.” @SHRI:The reservations are not about that phenomenal average over 52 Tests. It is about the INDSIPUTABLE fact that Don was a “2 country conditions specialist” (as was Lillee in a decidedly more jet-friendly era as against Don/others of his era constrained by travel)and so “simulated” questions as to how he would have fared (well is not in question but as well as maintaining that Average still)in different conditions in SA, India ,WI justifiably crop up(just like simulations showing how he could have quite EASILY reached 10,000 Test runs cos of lost years). One clear eg: (there could be many) Ponting arguably the greatest player of pace in the noughties and an absolute titan on pacy SA and Aus pitches still could not come to grips with playing in India against high-pressure, quality spin (as against just 1 Murali in SL) and just about redeemed TBC

  • Pallab on August 15, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    @Ananth: 2 of Gooch’s series can be looked at including 1 sub-500 runs effort.673 runs when others failed against Aus in England 1993. But the value of his 480 runs against WI pace attack (Ambrose, Marshall, Patterson,Walsh) in 1991 Eng series cannot be denied. Also his 154 at Leeds helped them win a ‘live’ 1st Test against WI. Robin Smith also scored a brave 418 runs in same series in only 4 Tests (Smith scored 109 in 5th Test which helped in winning match and drawing series). Can we have the Weighted Runs of Gooch’s 480 runs against WI in 1991 and Gavaskar’s 505 against WI in 1983? One of the uncanniest similarities of cricket’s many in this last Oval Test? Retirements of Viv,Marshall and Dujon in this Test. A LIKE for LIKE in caliber, style, cricket role and aura with Greg C.,Lillee and Rod Marsh’s simultaneous retirement in 1984 against Pakistan! [[ Pl see my response to a recent comment. Will do a final review and insertion of Readers'selections. Ananth: ]]

  • Srini on August 14, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Lara's ODI career took a dive but he took just 4 more inns (239) than SRT (235) to score 9K runs (circa 2005). Now this was in a period where he started coming in at no 5 6 7 8 etc since 04-05. Later on his career took a sort of nosedive and took 39 inns to score 1K runs (278 inns 10000 runs) whilst SRT took just 20 inns to go from 9K to 10K. i havent really taken a deep look but if u look at multiples of 1K runs SRT and BCL aren't that far apart from runs 3-4K to 9K.

  • Boll on August 14, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    @Ananth, I don`t imagine many of the people here have seen this footage. In Australia this a well-known song written by a great folk/rock singer, Paul Kelly. The footage for any cricket fan is priceless. I know, with good reason, you are loathe to post links. I hope you can make an exception here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeG8hqQw1U8 [[ Fntastic. Many thanks for providing the link. Reminded me of a Willie Nelson classic. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 14, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    @Ananth. you and skhrikanthk have both mentioned the discrepancy between bradman`s pre/post-war stats. The stats from the wonderful book `The Don` - Roland Perry, have his pre-war stats at 5093 runs at 97.94, not the 89 you mention? Either way, I doubt if, but for the intervention of the war, Bradman would have played as many tests as he did (my rather flippant post at 11.53am notwithstanding). I think by `38 he was fed up with the ACB, particularly in light of their refusal to allow his wife to join him in England (at Bradman`s own expense) at the end of that lengthy tour, and various other times when players were treated as schoolboys by management. [[ Roland is correct, Boll. I just picked up the RpI figure by mistake. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 14, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    Ananth: The match reports reveal more about the importance of those hundreds.

    Trent Bridge : McCabe's breathtaking 232 may have pleased everybody's senses, but it didn't save Australia from the follow-on. Runs were somewhat irrelevant in that test. Bradman's 2nd innings 144 (one of his finest defensive innings) on a wearing wicket was probably more crucial in saving Australia from defeat on the fourth day.

    Lord's : Australia would've most probably lost but for that 2nd innings century by Bradman.

    Leeds : Arguably his greatest innings! He scored a 100 when nobody else could see the ball in the darkness, without appealing against the light. O'Reilly couldn't have won Aus the game without Bradman's runs.

    When Bradman couldn't bat in the final test, we all know what the upshot was. One of Australia's biggest defeats ever.

    A terribly weak Australian side saved from a 3-0 or 4-0 disgrace thanks to some very timely performances by the captain. [[ All valid points. 3 tough centuriies in four Tests against Farnes, Verity, Bowes and Wright certainly deserves further consideration. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 14, 2011, 11:53 GMT

    @Ananth-san. Yep, sounds about right to me. Can we go 10000 at 99.98? [[ That is not matched by your previous comments. However 8999 @ 99.99 (98 inns 8 nos) seems a better guess. This time let us make him miss the aggregate and average. 5093 @ 89.35 would have needed another 3900 runs requiring around 28 Tests (7 series) at around 140 per Test. This is probably par for the period upto 1946 when he might have retired. Of course, India might have toured Australia during 1942, in which case 100+ looks a distinct possibility. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 14, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    Okay. A lot has been said about Bradman's feats in '30 and later in '36-37.

    Another really strong series performance from him came in '38 against England in England. He scored less than 500 runs actually! But batted in only three tests.

    I've been researching on this series by reading Neville Cardus' match reports (highly recommended). One of the weakest Australian bowling sides by most accounts. The series result was finally 1-1 and thus Australia retained the Ashes for the next 8 years!

    Bradman scored three hundreds (two of them unbeaten) in the three test matches he batted in. A close look at the scorecards and the match reports seem to suggest that Australia might have lost 4-0 had it not been for those Bradman's hundreds!

    A very underrated series performance by the master. [[ First Test was saved more by McCabe (271 runs) than Bradman (195). Bradman's was a very good supporting role. Second Test, but for Brown's carry-the-bat effort of 206 in the first inns, Australia would have lost by an innings. Bradman's last innings 102* was invaluable. However I would again put Bradman's in the support role. Third Test was won primarily by O'Reilly's 10 wickes. Bradnman's 103 was again probably the second best effort. Let us forget the last Test in which Bradman's contribution was 14 balls. So I would say Bradman's contribution was there in three matches, all supporting. There is no doubt that he was the best Australian player, again along with O'Reilly, 22 wickets. Probably does not walk in automatically. I will look at the pending performances on Monday and do a final posting since the series-bowler article will be published on Tuesday/Wednesday depending on when the edits come in from Sriram at Toronto. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 14, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    @shrikanthk and ananth. Australia actually played no test cricket from Aug `38 in England until the one-off test against NZ in March `46 (without Bradman) - about seven and a half years. Bradman, (who hadn`t batted in the famous Oval test of `38 due to injury) didn`t play a test until November `46, (scoring 187 in his only innings) at which point he hadn`t batted in test cricket for close to eight and a half years.

    Based on his own comments, it`s extremely doubtful he would have played on that long without the intervention of the war - due to serious illness, family/business commitments. I believe he stated that post-war he was particularly determined, fitness permitting, to play one-more series in war-ravaged England before he retired.

    Not sure about him improving his average significantly after the war - at the end of the `38 series it stood at 97.94, although I would agree that the standard of bowling he faced post-war was probably weaker. [[ Still, 9000 @ 95 seems a fairly good guess. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 14, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    The idea is to see what if there had been no war

    I get the drift. It is fun to indulge in these exercises. The reason I added some qualifiers is to correct this impression that a lot of fans have that but for the War, Bradman would've ended with 12K test runs. That wouldn't have happened most probably, since Bradman had different plans. [[ My estimate is 9000 Test runs at 95. Ananth: ]]

    The reason people feel like doing such stuff is because they probably feel 52 is not a large enough sample. So, they start wondering, would he have sustained an average of 99 over say 80 tests?

    I feel such reservations are not necessary at all. All you have to do is look at the man's First class record. 234 games. 338 innings! That's surely a large enough sample. And the man averaged 95.14!! To my mind, that figure of 95 is FAR more astonishing and mind-blowing than the figure of 99.94!

    This guy was just a freak. I cannot imagine a figure of less than 80 for him in any era. And he would've been lethal in ODIs what with the deep fields! [[ Here we go. Very valid points. However think of what the modern young follower, not like you-steeped in history, understands by FC game, especially in India. Zaheer Khan does not go through FC for rehabilitation but through IPL. The relevance of FC in India is almost zero. Abhinav Mukund, with a 300 behind him, struggles in Test cricket since the FC bowlers are also ordinary. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 14, 2011, 2:56 GMT

    This is an exercise which any of you guys can do. You jut have to extralpolate the number of series for the 6-year period

    Not sure if we should be doing this. Bradman himself has stated in several places that he would've retired in 1940 had it not been for the War. Still, we fans keep talking about him "losing 6 years".

    He was most prolific in the late 30s. But after that, his health suffered. In '40-41, he had a horrid FC season (averaging LT 10 in 4 games) if I'm not mistaken. He was even invalided out of the army. Apparently, in '41 there were times when he couldn't even shave himself!

    That's why this whole idea of Bradman "losing" years to the War doesn't make sense. If anything, his average benefited from the War. After 6 years, the English attack was far weaker than it would've been in the early 40s. The War claimed two of their best bowlers in '38 - Hedley Verity and Ken Farnes. Two bowlers who gained more respect from Bradman than anyone else! [[ Shri There is no need to analyze every aspect of the game to the nth level. The idea is to see what if there had been no war. Maybe 2/3 series and an extrapolated figure between 90 and 105 and a conclusion. Whether Bradman would have retired, whether he was in poor form or he was injured or Verity/Farnes might have run amok do not come in the discussion. I am certain that if Bradman improved his average by nearly 20%, after 1945, he would at least have maintained or improved his pre-war average, irrespective of any prevailing conditions. This is exactlly similar to the Laver conundrum. He turned professional durng 1963. Only the uninformed and small-minded will question this decision since he had to earn a living. During the 5/6 years, it is reasonable to surmise that he might, on an average, have won 2 titles each and he might have ended at 21+ titles. This is a tool to re-emphasize the man's greatness. That is all. Whether he would have turned pro in 1965 after winning 5 more titles or he would have won 15 more titles or he might have been injured, are the points which should not come into the discussion. Ananth: ]]

  • Mahendran on August 13, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    @Ananth: The players who have scored 500+ in a series more frequently are all big innings players. SRT fans need not be disheartened. He has other things to show in his CV. One has to possess tremendous physical and mental stamina to play a big innings. SRT is not built that way. If he had played such big innings regularly, he would have faded out earlier. Logically that explains his longevity. If at all he scores a triple or 500+ in a series we should be in for a surprise. Until then dear SRT fans - just chill.

  • Mahendran on August 13, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    Ananth: That was a nice account of your 'hands-on' cricket experience. Your narration had that free-flow interspersed with subtle humour a la Kalki if you know who I am talking about. The way you mention 'Tennis ball game' brings a bad connotation to it. But to tell you the truth it is not that easy to play cricket with a tennis ball. I was all at sea when I was once invited to play a game with tennis ball ('pottal cricket' as they used to call it). My respect toward McEnroes, Beckers, Edbergs etc went a notch higher that day. [[ Any favourite authors list of mine will include Kalki and Wodehouse. In fact half of my Kindle is filled with Ponniyin Selvan (both Tamil and English) and quite a few Jeeves stories. The great advantage with tennis ball is that it would not hurt you. Cricket balls can be painful, to say the least. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish Garg on August 13, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    Ananth, just a random thought. Can you do a post/analysis of how many (count and percentage) of readers' comments are related to your blog post, and how many are la-SRT and off-track even otherwise.

    I am curious to know these stats for last 5-7 or 10 posts by you.

    You use your judgment to reflect readers names for corresponding figures.

    PS: This is a suggestion for a blog topic so I assume that you will not include this comment by me, as off-track :)

    Cheers Vinish [[ Not a bad idea. However all comments are there for public view. So instead of loading me with this work, one of the readers with a few hours at his disposal could as well do this !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 13, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    @Ananth: OK. "Ananth has hit the cover off the ball ... he has the license to go for it and that went like a tracer bullet". [[ Let me change to "" Ananth has been furiously typing on the keyboard and the responses got into the blogs faster than a tracer bullet."" I know, quite average stuff but more apt. With a career high score of 18 not out (7x2s and 4x1s) in a Tennis ball game, your comments might be ill-suited. But I must add that I batted at no.11 (this was because I could not bat at no.12) and we won the match by 1 wicket. The other captain concentrated on the other and more established batsman and paid the price. By the time he woke up I had already reached the grandson of all hundreds, viz., 10. Then a few controlled (and not-so-controlled) edges decided the game. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 13, 2011, 2:16 GMT

    @Gerry: If your day job is to commentate on air year in year out, you are bound to develop cliches like a habit. Ravi Shastri is a classic of course and Shastribot, who fires off a quote from the Shastri repertoire, has a cult following now ( http://topsy.com/twitter/shastribot). Now, will Ananth publish this comment? ... Shastribot's answer: "it's anybody's game now" followed by "just what the doctor ordered" followed by "cricket really needed this". [[ I would have been happier if you had somehow managed to get in the "tracer bullet" into the comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 12, 2011, 17:37 GMT

    I am sorry, Gautham, if you are going to bring in Lara's revolt for money (what do you think is/was paid to the West Indian cricketers, a few bags of peanuts) then you must also bring in the unfortunate ball-tampering in South Africa.

    @Ananth i would never degrade a player of stature of someone like Lara, i hold him in the highest regard, just wanted to compare the blemishes that may legends have brought on themselves & how rarest of rare have kept themselves away from such things. what happened in SA was folly of Mike Denesse & not sachin's. WICB pays peanuts to its players agreed but does that qualify for a player to go rebel, for me its completely uncalled for, on same ground would you or anyone justify a youngster like Mohd Amir who tried to earn more money by fixing just bcos his board was not paying him enough.certainly not. no board can give as money as BCCI gives but that's not a players fault since he didnt do anything silly.. [[ Two problems, Nitin. Lara and Mohd Aamer should not be included in the same sentence. One of them sold his soul and everything else valuable for some money. The next is that whatever is said, the South African incident happened and why paper over that minute crack. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 12, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    I shudder whenever any Indian batsman plays a good shot. We are 486 behind. I dont know whose bug Ganguly has caught (Gavaskar or Shastri), but immediately he gets going "you bowl it to him there and he can put it away all day long"...how much more disgusting can Indian commentators get? We havent scored 300 even in one innings, and yet we go on praising our underperforming batsmen. [[ Ganguly is so good otherwise that we can excuse this repetition as long as he does not say it again during the first two hours tomorrow. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 12, 2011, 14:30 GMT

    @RANGArajan: I checked Cricinfo database for innings in which SRT has scored 25+ runs and got the following answer: 163 inn, 34 not out, 13560 runs, ave=97.55, SR=56.20. He is getting bashed for a comprehensive failure in this series which, I think, is largely his own doing. However, no need to put him in Dravid's category.

    Dravid's record with the same filter reads: 156 inn, 23 not out, 11544 runs, ave=86.79, SR=44.51. The difference in the strike rates is 12 and not 2.

    As for Dravid, he was largely a forgotten figure for a majority of Indian fans and media. Even on this blog, no one talked much about him. Now, suddenly his value is being realized.

  • Nitin Gautam on August 12, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    hate to continue with "who is greatest debate" but cant stop myself..as far as cricketing talent is concerned SRT is comparable to anyone in the history (read:- talent, technique, composure, commitment)& more often than not SRT is behind few greats/legends like BCL, ponting, SMG & needless to say the DON on few parameters on few statistical analysis(& same such analysis put him above all on few more parameters-had to recall a siddhuism on this-stats are like bikini-they reveal more than they hide or vice versa. but unlike Lara who led a rebellion over money, DON-jack fingelton openly criticized him for manupulating Aus cricket, Ponting-needless to say anything, SMG-who can forget melbourne, SRT has maintained astonishing conduct on & off the field. people want to bcum like him, no one has ever brought such intangible dignity than him to the game & that is why he is the most complete player & ambassador to the game. distinct sportsman with umpteen, indepth talent & genuine human being [[ I am sorry, Gautham, if you are going to bring in Lara's revolt for money (what do you think is/was paid to the West Indian cricketers, a few bags of peanuts) then you must also bring in the unfortunate ball-tampering in South Africa. Having said that I think there have been very few players who have maintained their dignity and impeccable behaviour, on and off the field, like Tendulkar. Ananth: ]]

  • RANGArajan on August 12, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    @Ajinkya - I have calculated the strike rates for only those innings in which he has faced 100+ balls and not totally. I just wanted to see how batsmen capitalize on starts which is important to score big runs in Tests. The more frequently someone stays on for 100+ balls and scores runs at a decent strike rate, the more consistent he could be. Of course there are other factors also. I have not seen them. Sachin has also had lot of sub inngs where he has scored fast. So that balances out his overall st rate to be 54. However if we calculate all his innings where he has faced more than 100 balls (long innings)it comes to just 39. Dravid scores at 37.

    I wanted to see how frequently these 4 play a long innings (I missed Kallis as pointed out by Ananth) . . . It was then i realized that Rahul D was the most frequent long innings player and most often than not, he scored BIG runs once he settles (Of course, there are a lot 100 ball 10 runs innings from him . . which makes 37 look bigger) [[ We can never underestimate the importance of facing balls by Test batsmen. As and when Engkland innings ends, looks like only with a declaration, what is needed from Indian batsmen is not 60-ball 40s but 150-ball 50s.And a few of them. It would be difficult but that is Test cricket. It is unfortunate that I have very little data on balls faced for the first 115 years or so. However my idea of extrapolation based on Team balls faced is a good enough idea in the circumstances and is better than nothing. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 12, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    @RANGArajan-SRT's Test strike rate is not just 2 more than Dravid's mate....SRT scores at a SR of 54 in Tests. [[ Ajinkya, I have verified info on balls faced for 12675 runs. This he has done at 54.8. The balance, if taken at the team strike rates, comes to 50.3, leading to an overall strike rate of 54.1, which matches your number. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on August 12, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    Seems that there are lot of talks about Bradman and deservedly so.

    It'd no be a bad idea to actually predict his final "could-have-been" Test tally based on number of tours and his performances before and after the war.

    One thing to take into account is his ability to score big 100s early in his career as opposed to his consistency with "small" 100s later on.

    Between the period just before his 1st Ashes tour & the beginning of the South African tour of Australia, Bradman scored 21 centuries. A whopping 13 double-centuries out of those 21!!!! In the remaining 8, there was a 191 and 185 not out. Ten of those 100s came IN England, with 3 in Tests and 3 on tour games in addition to 191 & 185*.

    His last great season in terms of big 100s run was his first summer after moving to South Australia. He made "only" 117 in his debut match; Then the next 7 100s read like this: 233, 357, 369, 212, 192, 270 (T), 212 (T)! He finished the summer with a 169 (T) & 123! [[ This is an exercise which any of you guys can do. You jut have to extralpolate the number of series for the 6-year period and extrapolate an average of Bradman as at end-1938, 90 or so for these years. This will mean that Bradman's overall average will drop slightly. It will take about an hour at most. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 11, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    @Ananth and @Gerry: Thanks for the clarifications. I don't get to watch cricket anymore and it was probably an over-reaction. From the body language on YouTube and ESPN Star clips, it appears that the spark is entirely missing ... unusual for a Dhoni team. Maybe they just need a full break for 2-3 months. So, something is wrong deep down and it is not a case of people suddenly going out of form. And looks like England is firing on nearly all cylinders.

  • RANGArajan on August 11, 2011, 12:30 GMT

    While people compare SRT / BCL, two other modern legends, Ponting and Dravid have often been not given their due. Ponting at least had featured in regular comparisons with SR Tbut not Dravid. IMHO, Dravid is a legend in his own right and for 16 years, he has stuck to his game and delivered with consistency. He has played 100+ balls at most amazing frequency, and still scores at 40 runs off those 100 balls (which is a decent st rate for tests). Sachin is just 2 runs faster.

    BCL has scored at 59% which means most often than not, he has made it count after having stuck in. So has Ponting. In no way SRT is lesser tyan them, but I do feel Dravid has rightly claimed his place in the legends list though I find very few people even taking his name.

  • RANGArajan on August 11, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    For all the SRT v/s BCL comparison, I did my own analysis of 4 modern legends, SRT, Lara, Pointing and Dravid. It gave me startling figures. I wanted to check how often they get big scores (Min 100 balls faced)

    This is the break up: PLAYER TOTALINS-100+BallsFaced-FREQUENCY-BALLS-RUNS-StRt Lara 232-74-32%-13653-8023-59 Ponting 259-30%-13894-7327-53 Sachin 294-104-35%-28093-11034-39% Dravid 270-123-46%-23571-8753-37%

    Of the lot, the best balance is with Sachin but Dravid is not far from Sachin in SCORING off long innings. They are the two most EFFICIENT batsmen. Lara and Ponting are least consistent but most EFFECTIVE. Sachin is great no doubt, but Dravid is no lesser. He has also stuck to his strength and delivered (he is just 2 runs slower than Sachin when it comes to big runs in long innings). That he scores slow is a cruel allegation. When he stays, he makes it count. That is why he joins SMG in series honours. He plays a long innings every 2 innings - imp for tests. [[ Ranga I have already committed that I would do a most comprehensive magnum opus on the top modern batsmen. The time of this has to be decided. Maybe towards end of the year. Many of your working results would be incorporated. You have left out the one batsman who has out-averaged these four great batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 11, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    Tendulkar's failure in this series have nothing to do with his preparation. In good bowling conditions at Lords, he started very well. It is purely pressure of the match situations (unlike South Africa, this England team maintains the intensity), pressure of the 100th ton, and excellent quality of the bowling of England. [[ I tend to agree with Gerry. Tendulkar has not showed the lack of preparedness that Zaheer Khan was showing. His 56 at Trent Bridge can compare in quality with any other batting performance in the series, from either side. Look at the over Anderson bowled to SRT just before his dismissal. The English bowlers seem determined that he should, obviously he is going to, score his 100th 100 couple of months later. Yesterday we lost in the last hour and half as much as we had lost earlier in the morning. Let us assume that India had battted slowly and scored only 150 and England were 10 for no loss. Today India would have had serious hopes of using the new ball and make inroads. Not today with 25 overs already gone and Strauss having played himself back to form. In another words, 224 & 84 for no loss is much worse for India than 150 and 10 for no loss. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 10, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    @Ananth: Do you have the stats on the best domination, across a series, of the Top 7 batsmen of Team 1 by Top 7 of Team 2? This series might merit a consideration there.

    This is too painful to follow on Cricinfo ... England at home is probably the best attack right now and SRT prepared for it by playing IPL and skipping the WI test tour, bringing his son to the net practices, skipping the last FC match to launch a CD album of his father, etc., etc. Which world is he living in?

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 10, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    Ananth, on Lindsay, would like to add that no other WK's batting in any series comes close (hopefully Dhoni's will). [[ This is persistnce. However I will add Lindsay's magnum opus, on its merits. Ananth: ]]

  • Shane on August 10, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Just only recently saw this blog. Have to support Gerry's nomination for Denis Lindsay in 66/67. Do agree that Mackenzie was the only big name for Aust attack but despite that the South African top order which contained Pollock and Barlow consistently struggled. It was Lindsay who pulled them out of trouble more often than not. When Lindsay passed away I read quote from Keith Stackpole (who played in series) in which he said that Australia may have won the series if it wasn't for Lindsay [[ I will look at it again. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 10, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Pallab, while i would have agreed with your comment on Tendulkar succeeding against high quality pace attacks while Dravid failed, my respect for Dravid has gone up hugely in the last month. The scorecards in his two century innings against England make for stunning viewing, and these efforts must rank among the bravest innings played by Indian batsmen. Given that he is in the twilight of his career, and has had a long run of poor form, this was awesome. Finally, though the English attack may not score in terms of BQI, there was no mistaking the menace in the conditions or in the crackling intensity of the bowling of Broad and Anderson on the first evening of the second test, and some of the deliveries were practically unplayable. This was an awesome display of will power form Dravid and I hope he does not fade away a la Mike Hussey in 2010-11 Ashes. Hence while i would have agreed some time back, now i would place Dravid on the same pedestal. Adversity has brought out the best in him.

  • shrikanthk on August 10, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    how many batsman have you seen injured while cutting? how many while hooking?

    Wasp: I think Boll's point was that if head-high bouncers pitch on leg, then the batsman will probably find it safer to duck and move over to the off side instead of "backing away" and taking the bouncer head on. Actually, "backing away" is a misnomer in this case, since moving to leg actually less evasive than ducking and moving to off.

    I wonder whether batsmen experimented standing way outside leg stump to counter bodyline, forcing the bowler to change his line. Maybe they did. Which probably accounts for the high % of bowled dismissals by Larwood.

  • Alex on August 10, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    @Pallab: SRT's first interview with Tom Alter is a classic with expressions like "means", "thriday", and "batttt" from a bygone era. When Alter talks about being afraid of Marshall, 15-year old SRT's expression is "are you kidding me?"

    The '98 back injury was a major set-back from which he never fully recovered. Still, '01 vs Oz was good ... very good 50's in Mumbai and a super century under pressure in Chennai. Third test is a must win. If he only hits the 100th now and relieves us all!

  • Pallab on August 10, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    @Alex:While “SRT carrying India on his shoulders in the 90's is a myth since India” might seem so, almost all the HIGH Quality innings by Indian batsmen in 90s even after emergence of Dravid/Ganguly were played by SRT. SRT played Pak,Aus,SA (3 series)the best in 1999-00.In fact, Dravid could not cope with the high quality attacks and failed in all 3 series. SRT also did well in the "Laxman/Bhajji" 2001 Aus series and was LONE ranger in Mumbai defeat (304 runs plus crucial 3 wickets in 2nd innings Kolkata Test where he failed with bat). I also blame BCCI for badly managing India’s Tests schedules since SRT’s debut. Could not arrange tours when Pak called off 2 tours in 1991 and 1995. SRT just played 35 Tests in 7 years before Dravid’s debut. Look at Strauss, Cook making debuts in 2004 and 2006 and well past 65 Tests now in 5 plus years. England almost always plays 11-12 Tests per calendar year with tour schedules every winter unlike India’s ad-hoc schedules till 2000s.

  • Pallab on August 10, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Sachin+Tendulkar+interview+with+Tom+Alter&aq=f

    SRT’s confidence to face the pacers mentioned (Marshall, Ambrose at 15! -interview conducted in Jan 1989) was remarkable and mentioned why too-ball comes on to the BAT. (@Alex, watch SRT having Mumbai’s famous cutting chai in public! –now can only have that in fine cutlery at the Taj) Incidentally, on paper, the Indian batting on ’92 OZ tour looked very good. Arrogant Manjrekar’s freefall had not yet begun (said on DD pre-tour: As the lead batsman, I am expected to do well), a fading Colonel, Kapil, Azhar, Shashtri. But the best bastman after SRT on that tour was Prabhakar (despite Shastri's 200 at Sydney- always giving his best against tough teams of that era.

  • Pallab on August 10, 2011, 4:22 GMT

    “Fans love Azhar but he was out of his depth on quick wickets in SA, WI, and Oz ... the much maligned Ravi Shastri was more convincing under these conditions.” @Alex:Uncanny, you pulled almost the same words about Azhar out of my ..Captain Vengsarkar bristled publicly that particular Indian batsmen were running away from the crease to the pavilion on the ’89 WI tour. Everybody knew whom he meant as Sidhu, Shastri, Manjrekar gutsed it out at the crease without necessarily scoring lots of runs. Azhar though had the capacity to produce occasional exhilarating, hit-out-get-to-the pavilion type knocks against pace( wit, record against '90s SA pace). GUESS who might have done well on DEBUT on those Aussie-like bouncy pitches which the Caribbean boasted of then instead of Azhar? One baby-faced SRT who evinced keen INTEREST to be selected for that WI tour in an interview with Tom Alter!(legend has it in Mumbai circles that he was distraught and cried when he was not picked).

  • Alex on August 10, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    @Ananth: Pl pardon the digression but you praised Dhoni on Bell. Today, I had a chance to go through the Bell incident on YouTube and am now surprised to read Flower's double standards speech (http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-india-2011/content/story/525741.html). [[ It does not really matter what Bell was doing. I am not going to split hairs on whether Bell took three steps towards taking a run or four steps. What matters was what Dhoni did, that is all. He did the ccorrect thing. If Strauss or the Nzl captain or someone else did not do the correct thing, it is their problem. Ananth: ]]

    Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Nz_rgnfHs&feature=related . Bell actually started running the 4th run (1:18 in the clip) and was surprised that Morgan was not running (1:20 in the clip). He then just got sloppy and did not return back to the crease ... Morgan pointedly grounded his bat again at 1:25. Doesn't look like Bell assumed either it was a 4 or that the tea had been signalled. He knew the consequences but was sloppy.

    On double standards, whoa ... Eng did the same to NZ last year. Genuinely weird things did happen to SRT: LBW McGrath in '99 and the '99 run out vs Pak ... on both occasions, he was legally out, not recalled, and no riot resulted. Something else later caused the Kolkata riot. [[ Please don't think 1999 and 2011 are the same. Today such an incdent would be magnified x times and played in media again and again with all and sundry using the word "cheating"freely. The Indian spectators and the media have changed completely over the past 10 years. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 9, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    @Boll: In the 90's, SRT was a part of a batting line-up that was extremely strong in Ind-SL but brittle elsewhere. You mention the batting strength in the '92 series. Well, when that series ended, Bill O'Reilly and Ian Chappell both remarked that Sachin Tendulkar had exposed all other Indian batsmen to be second rate.

    Indian batting can be considered strong only starting 2000 when Dravid-Ganguly got established and Laxman began to surface. Fans love Azhar but he was out of his depth on quick wickets in SA, WI, and Oz ... the much maligned Ravi Shastri was more convincing under these conditions.

    So, SRT carrying India on his shoulders in the 90's is a myth since India played 60% of its matches in Ind-SL that decade. However, no one else was of consistent international standard elsewhere.

  • Waspsting on August 9, 2011, 16:52 GMT

    @Boll - how many batsman have you seen injured while cutting? how many while hooking?

    "I endevaroured to counter body-line by unorthodox methods which involved stepping away to cut the ball to the off, and in my view exposed me to a graver risk of injury than the orthodox type of batting... McCabe and Richardson both tried to counter it by orthodox methods. Both were capable, game players and excellent hookers, yet each of them only once exceed 50 in an innings in the four matches". - Don Bradman

    The problem with backing away is that you leave the stumps unprotected, and if the ball is full, your likely to be bowled (1/2 of Larwood's wickets were in the series). Backing away to cut is a premeditated stroke, or in other words, when you start backing away, YOU DON'T KNOW WHETHER THE BALL IS SHORT OR NOT. if its not, your taking a huge risk. This is why Bradman was criticized.

    I don't agree with the criticism, but Don's point about being in "graver risk of injury" makes no sense.

  • Ruchir on August 9, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    @Boll, I agree that a full house at the SCG would be a great place to get the 100th ton. I was at the SCG when he scored a century on his last tour and the one thing that stands out in my meory is the genuine affection(note not appreciation or respect, but affection) that the crowd had for Sachin. Infact it was a feature of the entire tour that he got standing ovations everywhere. I am sure it will be the same this time if he goes

  • Raghav Bihani on August 9, 2011, 14:23 GMT

    @Boll: On the tendulkar issue of batting lineups.

    He has got excellent batsman for company since the arrival of dravid and ganguly joining Azhar. But I feel that before that lineup including Azhar, Manjrekar, Kambli, Amre, Shastri, Siddhu, Prabhakar, Raman, Jadeja, More, Mongia, Lamba etc. Though they always formed a decent lineup none other than Azhar was truly world class. Outside India they tended to be towards average.

    Your calculations on 2nd innings are very good. I would love to see some more analysis on this specially the top 10 batsman or so. Ananth??? [[ Can be part of an all-inclusive analysis. Right time during the next 6 months, with four greats playing in the last 10-15% of their careers. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 9, 2011, 14:03 GMT

    Couple of serious performaces.....

    I think M Yousuf's 2006 Eng tour was a bit similar to Lara's SLK 2001 series. He scored 631 runs @ 90.0 against mostly good attack, Harmison, hoggard, panesar etc.

    Against much better attack J Kallis scored 625 runs @ 69.0 during 2004-05 (albeit at home ag. ENG). Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff, Giles, Simon Jones(where is he?). That series was one of the competitive series of past decade. [[ Will check out both. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    Just getting back to the summer of `91/`92 - (Tendulkar lighting up an Australian summer), I think that`s why series, particularly 4/5 test ones are so memorable. They have a symmetry to them, quite apart from the team situation in many cases. There`s a chance to shine consistently, and a chance to come back from disappointment - especially in individual terms. And in Tendulkar`s case, as a teenager amidst a team debacle, time to show the world his brilliance.

    Bugger Lords, I hope he signs off with a century in the New Year in Sydney. The cheers would echo all the way to Mumbai. [[ Thus spake the Aussie who has bought a ticket for the New Year Test at Sydney, hoping to enjoy the 40+ degrees temperature and hoping to be away from the snow-white Japan. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 13:27 GMT

    @Waspsting, I think you`ve missed the boat there. When bowling bodyline to a packed leg-side field, a right-arm bowler coming over the wicket is naturally going to attack the leg-stump/left shoulder of a right-handed batsmen. It`s not a matter of bouncers tending to go in a particular direction, simply where well-directed bodyline bouncers will go.

    The easier way to avoid being hit is to come inside the line and play them to leg, where (oh!) all the fielders are stationed. The more physically dangerous method is to... oh wait, that`s what The Don was saying.

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    @Gerry. First of all, thanks for helping me not break Pallab`s record for most consecutive posts. It`s tough to stop when you think you`re on a roll though.

    I`ve just had a look through Sachin`s first few series (didn`t realise he`d debuted in the same match as Waqar!) and came to the 91/92 series in Oz where he first truly announced himself. Here`s the batting line-up for the 1st test of that series ( Shastri, Shrikkanth, Manjrekar, Vengsarkar, Azha, Tendulkar, Kapil, Prabhakar, More...). Hardly a weak line-up, (although badly beaten by a Aus side which was really starting to find its stride) with an unadjusted ave. of about 40, and yet we often hear about the woeful line-up Tendulkar was thrust into...

  • Waspsting on August 9, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    That he was more likely to get out, and thus have his average suffer as a result didn't seem to come into the equation for him.

    @Shri - note that Bradman's 103 in Melbourne 32/33 was made out of a total of 191, and Australia in the 1st innings, where Bradman made 0, only mustered 220 odd. Pitch might have turned, but it doesn't sound like it had nothing for the quicks either.

    In the 4 matches Bradman played, next best Australian was Woodfull, who averaged 14 runs less. None of the english players topped Bradman either in those matches - Hammond averaged 10 runs less.

    Incidentally, Bradman's reaction to criticism of his methods was one of his sillier moments. While correctly stating that the vacant offside was ripe for scoring chances, he went on to add that his method of backing away put him AT GREATER risk of being struck because bouncers tend to come in after pitching. This last part is UTTER NONSENSE - I'm amazed Bradman, usually a sound mind, would make such a ridiculous claim.

  • Waspsting on August 9, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    agree with Ananth completely regarding "selfish" play. what does that mean, anyway? How is a guy scoring as many runs as he can be HURTING his team? Sometimes, the situation demands a certain style of play, and if a guy plays his own way anyway, that might be considered "selfish", but I'm not certain about that, either. [[ In fact I have an idea for a future article. Analyze the top 24 innings from point of view of whether any of these innings cost the team and the batsman can be genuinely termed "playing for himself", a better term than selfish. I doubt whether we would even get one. Ananth: ]]

    Boycott copped flack for "selfishness" sometimes for batting slowly when quick runs were needed, but Viv Richards didn't when saving the day was the order but he got out playing risky shots. In Boycott's case they say, "oh, he doesn't want to get out, he doesn't care about the teams need" but Richards gets off with a, "oh, that's just Viv, and the way he plays".

    Doesn't add up to me. each is doing what he was comfortable doing, and that can sometimes override the needs of the situation. This is true for anyone.

    IMO, Lara was one of the most unselfish players around. if the match were dead, he'd just look to entertain the crowd with attacking strokeplay (cont)

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 9, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    Ananth, I bet that to drive objectivity into the "part of weak line-up / strong line-up" batting debate, similar to BQI, it is not impossible to calculate Batting average index. Perhaps it is material for a quick next article by you. One previous such article related to how batsmen had fared in relation to their peers in each innings, and converted this into an index over a career. But if there were a way to ascertain the impact of a batting quality index on an individual batsman's batting performance, it would be great. [[ Unfortunately the plate seems to be always full. But all good ideas get looked into sometime or other. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    @shrikkanthk, I agree with your comments about SRs, especially when kept in contemporary context - (as to a slightly lesser extent averages should be).

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    @Raghav Bihani re `Regarding performance of batsmen depending upon the batting line up; I tend to agree that playing in a weaker team harms you much more than benefit. It is not as clear as bowling where a weaker line up allows you to capture more of the 20 wkt on offer. A strong bowling unit shares the spoils.` - I think I agree with you on both fronts here - Lara, Hadlee and Murali cases in point.

    re.`Tendulkar: started in a weak line up and team. Second phase had Ganguly, dravid and laxman but still weak openers and wicketkeeper. Third phase is the strongest batting lineup ever with addition of Gambhir Sehwag and Dhoni.` I`m not sure the team, particularly the batting was as weak as you claim, and for the greatest batting line-ups of all-time I refer to Ananth`s recent article. Oz ranked 1,3,5, the recent Indian team a creditable 6th! Must learn how to italicise!! [[ I would not like readers to italicise since my responses are italicised. Better way is to underline certain portions. For that start your phrase with "lt u gt" (obviously without the spaces and end the phrase with "lt / < gt", again without intervening spaces. lt and gt are the signs. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    @Manasvi. I disagree somewhat with your statement - `Most people put Lara in a "weak" team and SRT in a "strong team"`. I think fans of both have tended to overstate the weakness of their teams (particularly throughout the 90s), and hence the `lone-hands` both of these men were forced to play. Often comments such as these have been used to bolster arguments about the pressure these men played under, particularly when compared to Ricky Ponting or Rahul Dravid.

    I think a distinction should probably be made between a strong batting line-up (which SRT has almost always played in) and a strong team (which Lara played in for at least the first half of his career, even as the batting line-up began to fade significantly). [[ The last point is very well made. One does not automatically lead to the other. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    Now, just to focus on 2nd innings figures. One would expect the % of 2nd innings to be effected by batting position/ team strength/batting style. While Lara tops the list in terms of % of 2nd innings played, it`s not by as much as I would have thought. His percentage of not outs is far more of an outlier.

    Here are the figures for % of 2nd inns vs total innings played/ total runs/ runs per innings (ranked by this last measure).

    Bradman: 38%/2299runs/76.6 RPI Kallis: 41%/4357/43.1 IVA: 34%/2495/40.9 Lara: 44%/3704/36.3 Tendulkar: 40%/4203/35.6 Dravid: 42%/3977/34.9 Ponting: 41%/3636/34.0 Sehwag: 42%/1777/28.2

    So Lara, SRT, Dravid, Ponting are all very close based on this - Lara simply got out more often (for whatever reason). 29 not outs in 101 inns notwithstanding, Kallis` record is still exceptional.

    Apologies for errors here, all done manually. While looking through these I was very surprised to see Viv Richards stats for number of innings home/away - 67/115. 37% at home!

  • Vinish Garg on August 9, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Ctnd (for Shrikanthk's response)...

    And sticking to the non-statistics aspects, we all know how he *welcomes* responsibility. RD keeps wickets (he does not like it), opens batting (he doesn’t like it) but SRT expressed unhappiness when he was really required to bat in middle overs in ODIs (even though he scored an excellent one-day hundred at number 4 in 2002 tour of England). He always sticks to number 4 in tests irrespective of whether Laxman/Ganguly (experience) will follow him in batting order or whether Yuvraj/Raina (inexperience) will. When RD resigned from captaincy after 2007 tour of England, SRT declined to captian though there were not too many other options, and he knew that. So, selectors fell on Kumble. There is no initiative for the sake of team.

    I never doubted him to be the best, but I stick to my point that the hype/attention that SRT gets (today or 8 years back) is misplaced when compared to what other greats get. [[ What you say is eminently true. However anything we say, in India, is similar to relieving oneself against oncoming gale. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish on August 9, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    For Shrikanthk’s “There's a reason for that. Firstly, Tendulkar has been more consistent (with fewer series failures) and also lasted longer than each of those names you mentioned.” One, The Ratio of Hype/Attention was misplaced earlier also in early 2000s (I remember it during the 2002 tour of England, or during his birthdays in early 2000s) when he had not lasted *that* longer. Two, The Completeness is fine, that is why we call him the BEST. The Technique is also agreed, again that is why we call him the BEST.

    But when I revisit my points (No 300, comparable 200s and not a single 500 run series), I stick to my point.

  • Boll on August 9, 2011, 5:11 GMT

    Sorry to take us back to the 1st/2nd inns discussion, but it got me interested. I realise Ananth did in in-depth analysis of 1/2/3/4th innings stats across the ages not long ago, these are simply for 1st/2nd team innings.

    First of all, the averages (for some modern and past greats) - ranked on highest 2nd team innings averages.

    Bradman: 97.85/104.5 Kallis: 55.80/60.51 IVA Richards: 50.79/48.92 Tendulkar: 63.51/44.24 Ponting: 59.34/43.33 Dravid: 58.89/43.22 Lara: 63.94/38.18 Sehwag: 68.80/30.63

    I suppose the standouts are Kallis` 2nd inn stats, Viv/Bradman`s consistency, the remarkable similarity between Ponting and Dravid, and the discrepancy between Sehwag`s 1st/2nd team innings figures.

  • shrikanthk on August 9, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    The high back lift, the exaggerated across movement leaving the leg stump visible, the cover drives with the front foot nowhere near the line of the ball... all unusual

    Fair enough. Nevertheless, he still is more orthodox with a more complete array of traditional strokes than say people like Steve Waugh or Ponting. I think Ian Chappell once said that Lara's style is a hybrid of Roy Fredericks and Gary Sobers.

    Waugh for instance, didn't really have much of a front-foot game. Ponting relies on this rather ugly front-foot lunge regardless of the length of the delivery. I haven't seen Ponting play a proper Viswanath/M Waugh style square-cut yet. He invariably ends up playing a square drive in front of the wicket.

    Atleast, when compared with these guys, Lara is more orthodox and more pleasing to the senses.

  • shrikanthk on August 9, 2011, 2:32 GMT

    I think you misinterpreted Ananth’s comment. He proffered that poser more as an assignment just to continue the quite interesting thread about great Test batsmen also having very good S/R

    Pallab: Wish I could. Doing it for Bradman was easy since it was only for 69 innings. Most of the other greats have played in far more innings, which makes it more tedious.

    Anyway, I am not a huge fan of computing SRs with the intent of comparing batsmen. That would be pointless, mainly because the game has changed so much. The only fair comparison is to compare SRs of contemporaries. That's what makes Bradman and McCabe so special. These guys scored at strike rates of 55-60 (maybe even higher for McCabe) when the norm was 2-2.5 runs an over. Today, an SR of 55 isn't really special. A lot of people score around that mark.

    Ideally, I'd rather look at team run-rates that can be used to shed light on how the tempo of test cricket has changed over decades.

  • shrikanthk on August 9, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    another possible contender is Bradman's bodyline series. He missed the test played on the best batting wicket of the series, but still outscored all his teamates and boasted the highest average

    Interesting. However, the Melbourne wicket on which he scored an unbeaten 103 was also a flat spinner's wicket. England made a blunder by going into the test match with a four-pronged pace attack (a rarity in those days). That was the only test which Australia won thanks to Bill O'Reilly's spin.

    What's striking is Bradman's approach to batting in that series. That was one series in which his strike rates were almost Sehwag-like. He probably realised that he better make as many runs while at the crease since he may not last too long in terms of balls faced.

    However, many of his critics believed his somewhat panic-stricken do-or-die approach of moving away to the leg side to hit to the empty off-side didn't do wonders to the confidence and morale of the side.

  • Alex on August 8, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    @Ananth: Sending this comment since I didn't want my last comment on this thread to be interpreted as a slur on Lara. IMO, is an all-time top 5 batsman and possibly the best bar Bradman ... this statement may be subjective and impossible to prove but it is my personal opinion.

    His only weakness, as far as I am concerned, was the inability to bat in the first two gears for a long time ... e.g., a 150-ball 40 in the 4th to avoid a defeat. Everybody has a technical/temparamental flaw and this was his. Later in his career, he probably thought "I can't bat for my team-mates. So, I will simply bat the best I can to score as many runs as possible (as opposed to occupying the crease)". If so, it was a clear and simple approach that worked wonders for him and for fans. [[ I am not sure how often this situation came up. More often than not it was probably a 400-ball 150 which was needed. Again talking right off the top of the head. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on August 8, 2011, 18:07 GMT

    @Ananth: excellent article. eagerly waiting the next editions.

    Regarding performance of batsmen depending upon the batting line up; I tend to agree that playing in a weaker team harms you much more than benefit. It is not as clear as bowling where a weaker line up allows you to capture more of the 20 wkt on offer. A strong bowling unit shares the spoils. [[ Welcome back, Raghav. The upper limit on wickets as against runs is a most significant mertic. Remember the Slk-Saf Test I have mentioned in the previous comment of Alex. Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene were going for triple hundreds and Jayawardene for his 400. All with a very strong chance to win. That would be the equivalent of a bowler capturing 8 wickets and another capturing 10 wiclkets in an innings. Ananth: ]]

    Batsmen get a full first innings always even in the strongest of lineups except for no.6 &7 sometimes. Also the second innings is under lesser pressure when you need to score 250 odd runs for setting a 400 run target. I request you to do a analysis using a few batmen with long careers.

    Tendulkar: started in a weak line up and team. Second phase had Ganguly, dravid and laxman but still weak openers and wicketkeeper. Third phase is the strongest batting lineups ever with addition of Gambhir Sehwag and Dhoni.

    Ponting: Started in decent lineup. 2nd phase was strongest followed by now which is avg.

    Any off the cuff figures you can give

  • Manasvi on August 8, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    What is a weak team and what is a strong team? Most people put Lara in a "weak" team and SRT in a "strong team". The fact is that the West Indies bowling was much better than the Indian bowling until 2000. During the 90s, the great Ambrose and Walsh played, and there was Bishop as well. Dillon was a good support bowler. In comparision, we were good at home, but Kumble's record and even Srinath's was quite bad abroad. Our batting was not better than West Indies by much until Ganguly and Dravid came in. Our batting started to become strong in the early 2000s. In the 90s, we had Tendulkar, West Indies had Lara. There were good back up players such as Richie Richardson and Shiv Chanderpaul. We had Azhar, Dravid and Ganguly. I don't think there's too much of a difference between the two. Everyone remembers the sight of SRT scoring on gamely, while everyone else collapsed. Remember that tour of Australia? [[ Excellent point and very well made. A stong response made re the vague statements regarding a weak team. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 8, 2011, 14:49 GMT

    @Ananth: I think if a strong batsman plays for a slightly weaker batting team a bit selfishly, he will score a bit more runs. Of course, nobody sane will really want a weak team ... losing is not fun and having substandard team-mates is a major killer. I term selfishness as a lack of willingness to bat (*and prepare off-the-ground*) in a manner that is not suited to one's major strengths just so that the team's cause is served.

    Was Lara selfish? Since 2003, I think he certainly batted more for himself than for his team. I don't it against him since it is very difficult to imagine anyone batting better in tests than Lara of the 2003-06 vintage. [[ Very subjective and not-so-nice statement, impossible to prove. That way every batsman, be it Bradman, Tendulkar, Dravid or Ponting et al, is selfish. I can prove that every innings is selfish or not selfish depending on what I try to prove. One example. The 400 is termed by many people as selfish, trying to regain the record. Only the uninformed say that. Why ? The only way West Indies would have beaten England was by putting up a massive total. They did that. The only way West Indies could have won was by making England follow on. They did that. The only way West indies could have beaten England was by winning by an innings. They just missed that. Only due to Lara's failure as a fielder. He dropped an easy catch off Vaughan at 26 (final score 140). Please note that England were still in arrears when the match finished. I repeat, only the biased and uninformed term this knock as selfish. They have not taken the trouble to see the scorecard nor read the report. South Africa scores 160. Why does Jayawardene go to a lead of 600 to declare. With an excellent bowling attack, would not 400 be enough. Was he selfish. No. Only the uninformed say so. Beating a world record is a great achievement for the player and country. He would have been selfish ONLY if he let the innings go to the fourth evening and South Afca saved the Test. He declared on the third evening. Even then South Africa were 311 for 4, with a chance to save the match. I have responded extensively to suggest avoidance of such words. Very easy to use these. Proof is difficult. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on August 8, 2011, 13:40 GMT

    , when confronted by Cardus he mentioned how he'd got out playing attacking shots, but whenever he came in the field was spread and it was easy for him to just place the ball for 1s and 2s and score big without taking much risk. Ananth, another possible contender is Bradman's bodyline series. He missed the test played on the best batting wicket of the series, but still outscored all his teamates and boasted the highest average. I think he more than doubled the runs of the next best aussie in the 4 matches he played, and averaged the same as the the best english players, both of whom had cashed in in the first test.

    re: Lara's runs per test - partially agree with Shri that that's mainly because he got to bat two complete innings more often than most. But keep in mind, all those 4th innings he had to bat probably pulled down his overall average - like many players, his 4th innings stats are far lower than the rest.

  • Waspsting on August 8, 2011, 13:33 GMT

    re: Shastri and Gavaskar's commentary... Shastri has never been a particularly knowledgeable speaker. "what India needs is a wicket," he'll say like he's spotting something no one else had thought of. My favorite is "you can be rest assured..." that he often says.

    re: Lara's technique. I wouldn't call it "orthodox" at all. The high back lift, the exaggerated across movement leaving the leg stump visible, the cover drives with the front foot nowhere near the line of the ball... all unusual. don't really care though, whatever works for each player works for them I say.

    @Alex - Lindwall took 27 wickets in England 48, tying Ted MacDonald's then record for a visiting pace bowler in England.

    @Shrikanthk - its good to see you too! I agree with your points regarding Bradman in 36/37. Before the series, he had decided to take it all less seriously and said he didn't intend to "score anymore 200s in tests" (Cardus). changed his mind apparently, largely because of defensive fields (cont.)

  • Waspsting on August 8, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    @Ananth - note that in Laver's time, 3/4 slams a year were played on grass, giving him many more opportunities to win on grass than Federer or Sampras. From the time of his first grass court final, he won 9 titles in 24 grass court slams (thats including the amateur era, when the best players were barred from competing) Sampras is 7 in 10, Federer is 6 in 9 to date, since their first grass court slam final.

    I wonder where Greg Chappell's performance in the 79 Packer Supertests in West Indies would rank statistically? 5 tests, 9 innings, 620 runs, average 68.89, 3 100s and 2 50s. Bowlers faced include Roberts, Holding, Croft, Daniel and Garner.

  • Alex on August 8, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    @Gerry: Actually, that will not be the case for Lara since his record in the 2nd innings is not very good. He played a 2nd innings (i.e., 3rd/4th of a test) 107 times. Stats: 107 inn, 3664 runs, ave=37.5, 9 100's, 16 50's. In contrast, look at Ponting's: 121 inn, 3640 runs, ave=46.5, 6 100's, 21 50's. Averages for Viv and SRT are, respectively, 49 and 43.5 ... so, if anything, these guys lost out by not playing the 2nd innings as much as Lara did. [[ I have a sneaking suspicion this might bite you. Then it means that by playing in many second innings, as a result of his team being quite weak, Lara actually lost out. His first innings average should be around 64. If he had been in a stronger team, he would have played fewer second innings (it is agreed that the batsmen in stronger teams do not get to play many second innings) and his overall average might be between 55 and 60. Something wrong with your numbers. To get an average of 37.5 out of 3664, 97 innings only will be needed. That means 10 not outs. Lara's career itself has 6 not outs. I have not checked with my figures. While at it, for Ponting to get an average of 46.5 out of 3640, he would have to play only 78 innings. That would leave him with 42 not outs, which seems quite incorrect. And finally if Ponting has many second innings not outs, why. He was in a stronger team. They won many matches by 2/3/4/5 wickets and Ponting was there at the end. The second innings runs seem to be okay but the averages have to be checked. I have given below the correct figures. Lara: First-8249/63.95. Second-3704/38.19. Ponting: First-8723/59.34. Second-3636/43.29. SRT: First-10607/63.51. Second-4203/44.24. Reinforces my point made below. I think it is a fallacy that a batsman benefits by being in a weaker team. What he gains by sccoring more runs because of weaker comrades he loses by the lack of quality support. I know quite a few of you would jump on me with figures. I can prove what I say in a few ways and you can prove the contra view in a few other ways. The statement I have made is a general statement. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 8, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    Pallab, cant see how you term Gavaskar's 394 (<40 average) runs against England in 1976 as not a failure. It was a gruesome failure, the 2nd of three such failures against Eng in India in full length series 1972-73, 1976-77, 1984-85 (in the middle he did get 600+ in India). In the 1976-77 and 84-85, his batting completely let us down when we desperately needed it. In 1976-77 he made a century when the series was already lost. It is the one great black spot in his career. In each case, the English bowling was mediocre, but that is not the point - Gavaskar scored roughly the same against all attacks, except WI-1979, where he probably got lifted temporarily by the euphoria of captaincy. The point is that we paid a terrible price, losing 3-1 and 2-1 and needed the runs very badly, and they did not come.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 8, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    1) Wonder why Gavaskar's 447 in 3 tests v/s Pakistan should not be considered. Avg 90, next best 49 by Vishwanath, with 50% of the runs in the drawn first test, unlike Gavaskar who got 75% of the runs in test 2, 3, which he nearly saved for us. He also topped the bowling averages, if one includes bowlers who bowled at least 2 overs (am going over the top a bit here, i admit). But overall, an extremely courageous performance, against a good attack, though it may not be reflected in BQI (Imran had taken 12 wickets against a top OZ team - Sydney, and 25 in 5 v/s WI, and played Packer; Sarfraz was a handful, and Qasim). [[ Will look into this later in the evening. Ananth: ]]

    2) Lara's runs IMO deserve greater merit than that of batsmen in a strong lineup. Because if Ananth were to compute separate BQI based on team 1st inn / team 2nd inn, most 2nd inn would have better BQI. For instance, Warne's 1st inn avg is 30% higher than 2nd inn. Caddick 80% higher etc. Similar for most bowlers except Garner. So RPT hides this. Runs against BQI better.

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    “Abbascheema:Plz write a blog on top ten emerging batsmen in test cricket with a maximum of 3 year experience. Very nice idea. Will set a date for this, say 31.12.2011 and do it.” @Ananth: Since, as you have mentioned this is best place to contact you for suggestions: Pointers: Umar Akmal (have a lot of time for him; playing EVERY Test away from home since debut and in a badly administered cricket set-up. Imagine a ECB/CA/BCCI managing such a precious talent and his returns after that),Gambhir, deVilliers,JP Duminy (bad freefall though),Tamim Iqbal,Cook,Trott,Bell, Amla,Ross Taylor,M.Guptill. M.Clarke could also come in since Gambhir also made his debut in 2004 as Clarke and also a remodeled Watson purely as a batsman. Darren Bravo,Barath,Khwaja,Kane Williamson will form the next lot.

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    “You should embark on a cricket book which touches upon the freaky side of numbers (like Freakonomics was about economy).” @Ananth,just saw this post by SAN.Could not resist. My title for your Book:“Kookaburristics” a portmanteau of Kookaburra and Statistics.Could also be construed to mean that one can cook/dice up statistics to give any flavor:freaky,logical,biased, convoluted.Just like the Kookaburra ball which does a lot depending on the skill sets of the bowler. Regular posters Alex,ShrikanthK,Gerry,BOLL,Ruchir, Arijit,Abhi,Vinish,Ajinkya,Arjun,AD can come up with some titles.Forgot to mention in last blog,that your lyrical ditty on Subhash Gupte was one of the best I have read about his magical and classical leg spin. With time, Gupte’s magic with the ball soon to become as mystical (mythical?) as one Dhyan Chand’s wizardry with the hockey stick. Warne,Murali,Saqlain (three spinners with guile and craft )are lucky to have showcased their wares in a visual-media saturated era.

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    @Alex: Could not get this in cos of characters limit last post.Bowlers faced by SMG as opener:Holding, Roberts,Hadlee,Willis,Botham,Imran,Sarfraz,Thomson,Clarke,Hogg, Marshall(debut).I agree about SMG @Down Under. He was desperate for a 100 against Lillee in Aus. One reason, I suspect he blew up after scoring 70 with ease in Melbourne and threatened that INFAMOUS walk-out. Though, as I have mentioned in cricinfo forums, Lillee’s invectives provoked him BADLY as also Javed Miandad on next tour (bat-waving and kicking incident). Alex:For me, Big B great movies era ended with Sharaabi in 1984. But WAIT! Last Bollywood movie I saw was Mithun’s Dance Dance in 1987! (forced to go see it by elder cousin along with siblings..hehe). Though with Bollywood aficionado bro watching movies with Speaker on LOUD in living room in old flat where comp also was kept: I remember plenty of dialogues of movies after 2000. @Ananth: Dev Anand’s JPKHH is……????Full name [[ Jab Pyar Kisise ....., not necessarily a great film, but one I saw, while in college in Copimbatore, twice in a day and 4 times in a week. Dev Anand was at his best as also Asha Parekh. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    “And what about the s/r of Sobers, Hobbs, Hutton, Hammond, Walcott, Gavaskar et al. Can you do for each one of these.” @ShrikanthK: I think you misinterpreted Ananth’s comment. He proffered that poser more as an assignment just to continue the quite interesting thread about great Test batsmen also having very good S/R. So if you are at it, please pull up Viv’s and Sobers S/Rs.[[ Thanks. I just wanted to emphasize that the readers might want to know about the s/rs of Sobers vs Lara, Hobbs vs Gavaskar, Walcott vs Gilchrist and Sehwag vs Compton. I only wanted to mention that Bradman is no doubt the greatest, but batting does not end with him. On my part I have done a strike rate calculation for EVERY BATSMEN who took a bat, but based on the Team s/r. Something better than nothing. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 8, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    @Ananth and @Ruchir: I should add my two bits on the talent issue. A blessed soul has uploaded SRT's 146 vs SA on YouTube. Three shots to Tsotsobe need special mention. This was a left-hander bowling over the wicket to a right-hander with 3 slips, gully, cover, extra cover, mid-off, short mid-on, mid-wicket, & square-leg.

    Tsotsobe bowled 3 identical deliveries just short of the length across the batsman. One got despatched to mid-wicket boundary, the next one got upper-cut to 3rd man boundary, and yet another was driven off the backfoot to extra-cover boundary. All this with no fuss and full economy of body movement & bat movement. There is no one else who can do that and, sadly, the scoreboards cannot capture that vital bit of information. To the scoreboard, a nicked boundary of a clueless Agarkar has the same value as any of these 3 gems.

  • Alex on August 8, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    @Ananth: Pl note the innings/test ratios for the following batsmen:

    Gooch (1.82), Boycott (1.79), Lara (1.77), RD (1.74), Chappell (1.74), Sehwag (1.72), Hutton (1.72), SMG (1.71), Greenidge (1.71), Ponting (1.7), AB (1.7), Kallis (1.69), Inzy (1.66), Mahela (1.65), Sanga (1.65), SRT (1.64), Miandad (1.52), Viv (1.5).

    So, I am also not a big fan of RpT ... RpI is a bit better but average is decidedly more meaningful. As for Lara, he had more access to 2nd innings than many openers, regardless of whether they played for a strong team (Greenidge, Hutton) or a weak team (SMG). So, on RpT, he has a very unfair advantage over the likes of Viv/Miandad/SRT. Sure, he remained not out very few times but no one asked him to get out ... so, why give him a benefit there, as you advocate?

  • shrikanthk on August 8, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    If the stronger sides won by an innings many tims these single innings would be normally quite large and allow these batsmen to post decent scores

    Even if the innings score is as low as 250, the batsman has an opportunity to make a very sizable score. What you're suggesting is that a batsman's performance (say batting average) is a function of the batting average of his side as a whole. I don't buy that. How often have we seen dominant batting performances by batsmen for losing sides. Hutton in '50-51, Vaughan in '02-03, Headley throughout his career, Hayden in '01, the list goes on.

    Even if I grant that playing for a strong side does help your 1st innings performance, it does not quite compensate for an extra innings in the match. [[ No, Shri, this seems to be an argument for the sake of arguing. The top-20 in the RpT table are Bradman, Weekes, Lara, Hobbs, Sehwag, Hutton, Nourse, Nurse, Sangakkara, Sobers, Walcott, Hammond, Sutcliffe, Gambhir, Barlow, Younis, Hayden, Yousuf, Barrington and Tendulkar.Out of this lot, only Lara, Sangakkara, Nourse, Younis and Yousuf can be said to have played for weaker, less-successful sides. The other 15 have played for strong and successful sides. So this one-innings disadvantage theory does not hold good. And Ponting, Chappell, Smith and Kallis are in the next 5, all above 81. Let us leave this at this point. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 8, 2011, 3:13 GMT

    Why the last para, souring your comment. And what about the s/r of Sobers, Hobbs, Hutton, Hammond, Walcott, Gavaskar et al. Can you do for each one of these.

    All I said was that it is possible to have a fairly accurate idea of Bradman's rate of scoring with considerable degree of conviction. Not a guesstimate by any means. 69 out of 80 is more than 86% of his innings.

    I never said I can do the same for all the other greats. Nevertheless, the SRs are available for roughly half of Hobbs' and Hammond's innings, which give you a reasonable idea of their rate of scoring. For instance, the SRs are available for nearly all of Hammond's Ashes tests, but not for his tests against minnows. The figures do suggest that he was largely a grinder of attacks (atleast when it came to the Ashes tests).

  • Alex on August 8, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    @Pallab: You opened a long-heeled wound: I am still shuddering as the long repressed memories of "Shaan" have come to life. Amitabh stopped giving good performances/films in 1978 itself ... still, "Shaan" was not as bad as "Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag" which must be the worst video file I ever saw (and that sample set includes the atrocious "Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara").

    BTW, coincidence or not, SMG's magical phase of 1977-79 coincided with the Packer period. So, he really wanted to prove himself against Lillee-Hadlee down under but failed in all 6 tests in 1980. Still, in those 3 years, he faced Botham-Willis-Underwood-Imran-Clarke-Thommo and amply demonstrated that an Indian can be considered the world's best: he was 100% dedicated to his batting. I think that was SMG's original contribution and is his legacy.

  • shrikanthk on August 8, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    Lara's Runs per Test, which stands at 91.24 is second only to Bradman's 134+ for playesrs exceeding 5000 Test runs.

    I don't know why we are even bothering to look at the "No of runs per test". Obviously, the figure is very high for Lara since he played for a weak batting side and hence invariably had two innings per test! It will be much lower for someone like Richards who was part of a near-invincible side which inflicted several innings defeats and as a result, fewer tests with two innings! [[ Not a very convincing argument. If the stronger sides won by an innings many tims these single innings would be normally quite large and allow these batsmen to post decent scores. Richards scopring 7 and West Indies wiinning by an innings might have happened, but not often. As frequently as a double failure by Lara. Lara loses because of his low number of not outs in one mertic. Let him gain something in some other metric. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 8, 2011, 2:52 GMT

    Unfortunately the s/r info is not available or only as a guesstimate for the pre-1990 period. So we really do not have an idea how fast Bradman scored. Oh! I know someone or other would say, he scored at 58.5, with no degree of conviction.

    The "No of balls faced" for Bradman's innings are available for about 69 of his 80 innings. I took the trouble of calculating the Strike rate based on these 69 innings a few months back. It works out to be in the high fifties.

    I don't see why you should suspect this figure. Unless you actually doubt the veracity of Cricinfo scorecards and believe that someone at cricinfo is making up these figures! I don't think that's the case. [[ Why the last para, souring your comment. And what about the s/r of Sobers, Hobbs, Hutton, Hammon, Walcott, Gavaskar et al. Can you do for each one of these. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 1:29 GMT

    @Ananth:An anecdotal bit and in relevance with your series aggregates’ blog.Keep my elderly parents occupied with old Bollywood blockbusters in the US; past 2 days they watched Golmaal and Shaan again -produced in 1979 and ‘80.Gavaskar was mentioned often in the 2 movies! I suddenly realized from childhood memories about his continuous stupendous run from WI tour in 1976 up till his failure in twin ANZAC tours in 1981.Here’s what I dug up and shows why SMG was such a cult icon in a TOTAL non-media, socialistic India.(4/5/6 Tests series-3 series against Packer-affected teams). India in WI 1976: 466 runs (4 Tests) Eng in India 1976-77: 394 runs (5 Tests) India in Aus 1977-78: 450 runs (5 Tests) India in Pak 1978: 447 runs (3 Tests!) WI in India 1978-79: 732 runs (6 Tests) India in Eng 1979: 542 runs (4 Tests) Aus in India 1979: 425 runs (6 Tests) Pak in India 1979-80: 504 runs (6 Tests). Only sub-300 runs in 3 Test vs NZ in India,1976(269 runs).So no failure in 9 consecutive series! [[ What a great batsman. Unfortunately the wonderful memories of what he did on the field are not matched by the spectacle he is creating today. Much like some of the great actors of yester-years, say Dev Anand. I want to remember him by Hum Dono, Guide, Kala Pani, JPKHH and not what he is doing today. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    “Lara's Runs per Test, which stands at 91.24 is second only to Bradman's 134+ for playesrs exceeding 5000 Test runs. That blolsters the overall compilation view.” @Ananth: What I had suspected about Sehwag as he also like Lara and Bradman is a high-innings scorer (multiple 150s and 200s). So just checked: Sehwag’s Runs per Test stands at 88.5 to go with stupendous SR! Just for the record: Sangakkara -86.88 , Sobers -86.36, SRT-82.73, Gavaskar-80.97,Ponting-81.33. Kallis-82.39, Dravid-81.13. To put Sehwag in perspective against ABSOLUTE fast-scoring Test batsmen: Viv Richards – only 70.57 runs per Test!(No wonder they say statistics can be misleading). Hayden a respectable 83.73 cos of SR of 60 in Tests. Gilchrist not in the picture with 58.02 Runs per Test (had a great early Test career phase of 5 years before quality spin of India and swing of Eng pacers reduced his Test average considerably). [[ Unfortunately the s/r info is not available or only as a guesstimate for the pre-1990 period. So we really do not have an idea how fast Bradman scored. Oh! I know someone or other would say, he scored at 58.5, with no degree of conviction. What about other batsmen, say like Sobers. However nearly 8000 runs, at 88 runs, and on an average batting 110 balls per Test, is the stuff which puts even the other greats like Lara/SRT/Ponting in the shade. No wonder the Indian fans expect him to walk in tomorrow and score a 100 in 150 balls. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 8, 2011, 1:11 GMT

    Ananth: K.Pietersen’s 473 runs in DEBUT series in 2005 Ashes in one of the most tightly fought, high-quality Test series against superb attack deserves honorable mention. Never seen a non-sub continental player collar Warne so badly. McGrath was handled adeptly as well. For context: Possibly saved the series for England and paved way for 1st Ashes win in 18 years with his 158 to draw Oval Test. Sehwag’s 544 runs against Pak in 2005 in tightly fought series. Total domination by Viru in series with 3 stunning innings of 173,81,201 in 3 Tests. Mohali and Bangalore are not really flat tracks in India. Younis Khan’s 575 runs in same series against potent, lethal combo in Indian conditions- Harbhajan/Kumble along with in-form Balaji/I. Pathan. [[ Pl see my resonse to Shri/Alex. By itself the 473 may not get in. However the impact factor has to come in. Ananth: ]]

    Ananth:Like any besotted fan(instead of an unbiased, balanced analyst),you too kept track of the shenanigans surrounding Lara’s retirement in 2007..hehe(that mini-essay like post about Lara after @Manasvi‘s Aug5th comment seems STRAIGHT from the heart) [[ Every word of what I have mentioned is (verifiably) true. The events of those two days are imprinted in my mind. We lost two years of a genius by the stupidity of a cliche. And Lara never did anything similar to what Gayle has done today, barring leading the players in strike once. He was available willingly. But all water under the bridge and the water has already reached the sea and been evaporated. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 7, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    I also have to disagree with the logic that because so and so player did not do well against/in such and such team or country, he cannot be considered great. One needs to look at the overall picture

    Dravid averages less than 40 in SA Gavaskar averages less than 40 in Eng Warne's avg in India, the less said the better Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee never played in India

    And I did not even have to look at anything to come up with the 4 above. I am sure there are dozens of other examples. None of this means that they are not great players

  • Ruchir on August 7, 2011, 19:23 GMT

    Have to add my 2 cents to the SRT/Lara argument

    To say that SRT has limited skills, is bogus. He is an amazingly skillful batsman who also has great discipline and motivation. He changed his game to tighten his defence, reduce risk and put the percentages in his favor. That does not make him less skillful, it has only made him more consistent, prolonged his career and put his team in a better position

    The amazing thing about Lara is not that he scored 12000 runs but he did it without changing his attractive, stroke-filled game. He played with same natural flair from his first run to the last. Usually such dashing strokeplay is associated with players who have good to very good records(Hooper, M Waugh, Cullinan) not great ones like Lara

    SRT and Lara may have chosen different paths but both are all time greats. To say that you can get there without either skill or consistency is ignorant [[ An excellent balanced comment. Hence am publishing it. Reinforces my plea, made about 37 times already, that one need not put down one great player to appreciate another equally great player. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 7, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    @shrikanthk: The greatest performance issue is best settled for different types of series: 6-test, 5-test, ..., 1-off test.

    Lara's '99 performance has recd a lot of praise since it changed the result to 2-2 from an almost certain 0-4 whitewash. I think VVS' was more telling though ... it changed to result to 2-1 from an almost certain 0-3 whitewash. [[ Yes, 59, 281, 65 and 66 are probably worth twice these numbers. I have already talked about doing a different analysis on series contributions, something based on impact. Yes, Laxman's would stand there amongst the best. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 7, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    Looks like it was scrapped..... The accolades for Hutton are amazing

    Yeah. Anyway, in Australia in '50-51, we had 8 ball overs. So, the new ball rule would've been altogether different.

    Regarding Hutton : The point to note is that England still lost 4-1!

    Hutton didn't make a difference when he potentially could have, especially in the first two tests. This wasn't entirely his fault though, as Freddie Brown didn't let him open in the 1st test. It reminds me of Vaughan's efforts against Aus in '02-03 (brilliant but in vain)

    To my mind, the vote for the greatest series performance must go to the batsman who has singlehandedly influenced the result of a series.

    Aus might have won without Bradman in '30 WI might've won without Richards in '76. But there is no way Aus would've won the rubber against England in '36-37 without DGB!! That's what makes DGB in '36-37 the greatest series performance in my book. [[ It is probably correct although it must be conceded that there might be other series, may be 3-4-tests where one batsman's performance was as mind-blowing as Bradman's coming from behind effort. To determine that I would have to re-do this, after sometime, incororating the stronger BowQty (Home/Away & RecentForm) and consider the series as a whole. Probably quite a different type of analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 7, 2011, 16:06 GMT

    Completely off topic... But Waspsting : Nice to have you back here! One of my favourite posters :)

    Was just wondering..Was the 55 over new-ball rule in place in that 50-51 series??? Or had they scrapped it by then? [[ Looks like it was scrapped. In the Wikipedia entry on 1948 tour the 55-over option is specifically mentioned but not in the 1950-51 entry. The accolades for Hutton are amazing. I am happy at that. I think this analysis must be correct since it has upped this performance by 28%. I must be doing something correct. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on August 7, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    Re: Lara and Tendulkar and "talent".

    I look at "talent" as the ability to successfully attack good balls. However, batting is a game of percentages. you can watch Viv Richards hit three good length balls for 4, while Gavaskar blocks the same three balls - can you conclude Viv is the better batsman?

    No. because he might get out to the next one he tries to attack, while Gavaskar blocks that one too and goes on to make a big score.

    Lara played more attackingly than Sachin in test cricket, hence he looks more "talented", but that's a function of Sachin's CHOICE of how to play. Sachin has shown his ability to attack good balls in ODI and 20-20, and i doubt there's much difference between the natural "talent" of each of these great batsmen.

    Tendulkar not hitting length balls for 4, IMO, does not reflect a lack of ability but rather, a deliberate choice. By contrast Steve Waugh couldn't hit good balls for four.

  • Waspsting on August 7, 2011, 14:41 GMT

    ... only Nadal is better still, hence the discrepancy in the records. What if Roddick is better than McEnroe on grass, only federer is better still, hence the discrepancy in records? Impossible to tell. One example i can speak of having watched all the players concerned is Ivanesivic, Becker and Edberg. I think Goran was the best of the three on grass, but because of Sampras, his record can't match the other two. I speculate that if Sampras had been around during Edberg/Becker's time, they wouldn't have the grass court titles that they do - and that's what qualifies them as "great". Similarly, if Sampras hadn't been around, Goran would have won many more grass court titles, and he'd be spoken of much more highly than he is. I rate Sampras the best i've seen on grass and Federer on hardcourts, Nadal on clay. Crazily off-topic as this is, i'd love to hear your opinions on this [[ I would replace Sampras with Laver since he won most of his titles on grass. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on August 7, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    Hi Ananth, haven't read all the comments (yet), so apologies if i'm repeating a point thats been raised already.

    Hutton in Australia 50/51. he averaged 88 while england were losing 4-1. the next best average for england was in the 30s and the highest australian average - Keith Miller - was less than half of Hutton. That might be the greatest performance EVER, though Bradman in 30 is hard to top. [[ You will see that Hutton's performance has the second highest increase ever, second to Hobbs. In fact I have mentioned this performance in my brief selection reference to Hobbs. This deserves to get in immediately. Ananth: ]]

    re: tennis greats - Laver played little on hard courts, so don't see why you'd think he'd top federer there. [[ In fact I wanted to say that Laver would have won at Wimbledon and Federer at US. Got mixed up. Ananth: ]]

    IMO, comparing tennis players across generations is next to impossible, even more so than cricket. If Federer hadn't been around, Roddick would have won 3-4 wimbledons, and people would compare him to Becker, Mcenroe etc. If Nadal hadn't been around, Federer would have won 5-6 french titles and people would have compared him to Borg. But because of ONE PLAYER, no one makes those comparisons. Its impossible to say who was better than who - what if Federer is better than Borg on clay

  • Pratik TC on August 7, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    Not very relevant I know, but on the '05-'06 tours , Ponting scored like 850 runs home and away in 6 games vs a very competent SA attack.Were it scaled as one big series wouldn't it rank right up with Viv, Taylor and Wally? [[ I have already commented on this performance. There was a gap of more than 2 months. So this cannot really be considered a single series. Ananth: ]]

    Also in modern tours arguably the greatest batting series after Lara's tour de force,IMO were Vaughan '02-'03 and Pietersen '06-'07 versus Australia.

    P.S Never saw Laver play and I too adore Federer,but I reckon Borg would beat 'em all ;) [[ That is debatable. Laver and Federerer had much better all-court games. I agree that Borg will come out on top at Roland Garros butt the other two will be the winners in Wimbledon and US/Aus. Now the real contest will be one between Federerer and Laver. Laver was more like Federerer, a stroke maker, quite unlike Nadal. So I would certainly fancy Federer at Wimbledon but Laver at US. So we split the the contest 1-1-1. Solomon at work indeed !!! Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 7, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    Has anyone mentioned Jack Hobbs in 1911-12 yet? He scored 662 runs in 9 innings including 3 hundreds. England won the series 4-1.

    This was the series in which he clearly announced that he's the best batsman in the world - ahead of Victor Trumper who failed miserably against Barnes and co.

    It was a decent Australian attack that included Cotter (one of the fastest bowlers of his era), Dr.HV.Hordern (one of Australia's finest leg spinners). Even the likes of Whitty, Kellaway and Armstrong have decent bowling records in tests.

    Most importantly, Hobbs scored all those runs in a very attractive fashion often setting up victories for his team. [[ Playing away, his tally of 662 runs moves upto 769.9. Australian bowling was always below 34. Twice only in single figures. Let me get this in. Ananth: ]]

  • Manicam on August 7, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Other than the subjectivity of your parameters (I must question the lethality of some of the bowlers like Lara against Lanka, Bradman against an England attack of nobodies, etc), this is a might good analysis. I would request you to do something for bowling (would be harder for coming up with parameters) but would be interesting to see Murali vs Warne analysis with everybody else in history.

  • Harsh Thakor on August 7, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    I will also never forget Weekes in 1950 agrregating 779 runs against India and Walcott aggregating 827 runs against Australia in 1955.Gary Sobers also aggregated 824 runs against in 1957-58. [[ Weekes'779 was against some average Indian bowling. Even away it did not gain much and finished with 797.5 adj runs. Walcott's 827, even at home, crosses 900 and I think becomes a shh-in for inclusion. Sobers, again at home, moved his 824 upto 850.8 adj runs. I wthink I will include Walcott and Sobers. Ananth: ]]

    Brian Lara's performances in his best series show that at his best he could change the complexion of a game or series more than Tendulkar like the 1999 Frank Worrell trpohy.Since the War the best performance in a single series came from Sir Viv Richards in 1976 aggregating 829 runs in 4 tests ,reminding one of Bradman more than anybody.

    The figures ultimately prove that Tendulkar's trumpcard was his consistency and at their best Lara or Viv Richards were more talented.

  • Harsh Thakor on August 7, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    The most memorable batsman in terms of run agrregates in test series in my lifetime were Zaheer Abbas,Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara.Against slow docile Indian bowling Zaheer performed like an emperor aggregating 583 runs in 3tests in 1978-79 and 652 runs in 6 tests in 1982-83.On slow pitches Zaheer was the ultimate batsman.Gavaskar was phenomenal away in West Indies aggregating 774 runs while at home he amassed 732 runs in 1978-79.Lara had great agregates of 798 and 765 agaisnt England in 1994 and 1995 but his best to me was his 546 run sin the 1999 Frank Worrell trophy that turned the series,reminding one of George Headley.His aggregate runs in his best series display that at his best Lara was better than Tendulkar but at his best lacked his rival's consistency.

    To me the greatest domination historically has been by Don Bradman,Viv Richards and Walter Hammond in their top series.Viv Richard's 1976 829 run aggregate was the best domination of the modern era. [[ Other than Zaheer in the 3-test series, which I will look into now, most of the other series performances have ben included. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 7, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    Please let us return to the topic of this thread, everyone. Arguing about Tendulkar is going to get us nowhere. Instead, it is only producing side arguments with people calling him a "slow, limited" batsman and questioning his place in the game's elite batsmen. I mean, come on, the guy is one of the greatest ever, even if he does not feature in the highest scorers in a series list! Big deal! Let us move on now. [[ Very good idea. Am ging to block further comments on this line of argument, starting from your own next comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Sudarshan P.N. on August 7, 2011, 7:00 GMT

    Hi Ananth Great analysis as usual...fear that we seem to be taking quality output from you for granted...shortly you may end up like Dravid...not being paid your dues.

    Have only one comment, didnt Attapattu also have a nightmare run that would have qualified on the other list [[ Atapattu had a nightmare start to his career: 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0. However this horror story was spread over 3 series. However to give him due credit he finished with a respectable average of 39+. At the end of 9 Tests his average was in single figures. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 7, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    SRT *may be the best* but I reiterate, the RATIO of attention/applause that SRT gets TO what other players get, is highly misplaced

    There's a reason for that. Firstly, Tendulkar has been more consistent (with fewer series failures) and also lasted longer than each of those names you mentioned.

    Secondly, any cricket watcher with a rudimentary grasp of cricket technique will aver that Tendulkar is the most complete player among all of those batsmen. I will back Tendulkar to score runs against any attack of the past - be it Richardson and Lockwood in the 1890s, the SA googly bowlers of the 1907, Gregory and McDonald of the 20s, Larwood and Voce of the 30s, Grimmett and O'Reilly, Trueman and Statham, Lillee and Thomson, Marshall and Ambrose...you name it.

    I don't think I will feel similarly confident about Lara, Kallis, Dravid or Ponting!

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 7, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    I am not much of a Tendulkar fan, and usually only read the other readers' comments. But one aspect this article in particular brings out is the spikes which have seen lower averaging batsmen cross 500-600 several times. There are some other characteristics of these spikes - the big runs have come against good teams, more often than not. Even batsmen who do not so prominently feature on this list, but nevertheless good batsmen, have such a track record at times. Take Greenidge for instance - his 4 double centuries - each was a thriller, each better than the best Tendulkar has scored. By Contrast, Tendulkar's first 40 centuries included 4 doubles, including 248* against Bangladesh, 217 against NZ and 201 against Zimbabwe. 241* against Aus was creditable, but against a Warne/McGrath-less attack in a strong Indian line-up which posted 705/5. So a bit of a fair weather batsmen, compared to several less celebrated greats. But nevertheless one of the great batsmen.

  • rh on August 7, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Richards' performance in 1976 was even more dominant in that he scored the 829 runs in only 4 of the 5 tests. (He was absent for the 2nd test match with a virus.

  • Alex on August 7, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    @Ananth: Somehow, people are again viewing these tables to determine if X was good enough. This article just presents results on a particular metric. Let's look at the parallel for the bowlers ... there are dozens of instances of a bowler taking more than 35 wkts in a series (or more than 9 wkts/test) and yet:

    1. Lindwall never took more than 26 wkts in a series.

    2. Akram never took more than 25 in a series ... Waqar did but no one considers Waqar to be Akram's superior (a case of RD vs SRT as far as these tables are concerned).

    3. Marshall, possibly the greatest of them all, never took more than 35 wkts in a series, despite playing plenty of 5-test & 6-test marathons.

    Yet, we count these 3 among the greatest ever bowlers (as we should ... even for a particular series --- by looking at their SR, RPO, and average). [[ You are pre-empting my next article. This can wait. I will anyhow publish the comment. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 7, 2011, 3:46 GMT

    Lara has a poor record in Australia, South Africa, England and India. Both his 400 and 375 were meaningless knocks scored on the flattest of tracks at home

    Meaningless? By the same token, would you regard Don's 334 and 304 at Headingley in '30 and '34 as meaningless? Both triple centuries were on flat tracks and both games ended in a draw.

    And what about Hutton's 364? A very slow triple century in a timeless test against one of the weakest Australian attacks of all time.

    I hate to argue like this. But it's quite annoying when people talk disparagingly of triple centuries on "flat tracks". Triple centuries will necessarily be scored on flat tracks! I wonder whether there was ever a triple century scored on a track that wasn't fairly flat! [[ If what was required to score a 300 was only a flat track then there would have been 240 triple centureis by now and not 24. 100 batsmen would have scored 300s, not the 20 who have done so now. What is required is concentration over 12+ hours, ability to score quickly, a reasonably benign pitch and bowling attack and the team support and some luck. If one of these things does not work, there is no chance for anyone to score a 300. It is equivalent to capturing 9 wickets in an innings, done 18 times by 16 bowlers. If we accept a 9-wicket haul as a once-in-lifetime performance, why the reluctance to accept a 300 score. Maybe because it has eluded many famous batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Marley on August 6, 2011, 19:40 GMT

    I agree that Tendulkar has achieved much more than many in test cricket. But if he really wants his name to be mentioned among the elites of the upper echelon in batting, I think the onus is on him to make sure that he has the credentials to show whenever the time comes to present indisputable proof. But when you come up with an analysis that is as exhaustive as this one, where he had more exposure than anyone else to have his name mentioned, and after two decades plus trying, he still lacks some of those very important credentials that automatically include him among the best, I agree with Ipsy that there should be no excuse. The mere fact that Dravid and Laxman two of his junior contemporaries can make the lists more than one time speaks volumes against the high grade that was being given to SRT before these factual revelations. As a result, I too think that he's good but still not quite ready for membership in that special club of Bradmanesque elites. Do you think he belongs Ananth? [[ I am certain Tendulkar already belongs to the pantheon of great batsmen. This statement is based on his achievements and not on the so called adulation of the billions. Ananth: ]]

  • manish deshpande on August 6, 2011, 18:17 GMT

    Brilliant analysis. I have been an avid cricket fan over the last many years. Statistics are important, but they do not always speak the entire truth. I think 2 batsmen that dominated series irrespective of the strength of the bowling side were Bradman and Richards. They instiiled fear in the bowler's minds and dominated the bowlers both phsycologically and with their batting prowess.

  • shrikanthk on August 6, 2011, 18:07 GMT

    @shrikanthk, alternatively you could remark that SRT has had 43 series in which to appear on this thread and has failed to pass 500 runs on any occasion. In 4 of the 11 series Bradman played he had already passed the 500 run mark by the 3rd test.

    Boll: Nobody is comparing him with Bradman! Why bring Bradman vs Sachin into every discussion?

    Okay. So, Sachin is not on this thread. But Alistair Cook is. So what? What are we supposed to infer from that? All of a sudden, you've people questioning his talent, calling him a "limited batsman", a "slow" batsman! Huh!

  • Vinish Garg on August 6, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    I hate to involve myself on anything that is *offtrack* for the blog topic but consistent Tendulkarization of cricket overpowered me.

    As many would agree, SRT is the most complete batsman in last 30 years. However, the RATIO of what credit/hype SRT gets and what attention/credit/applause/hype other players (Kallis, Lara, Ponting, Dravid, Sangakaara) have got is highly misplaced. Particularly considering that:

    - SRT has played EIGHT 4-test series without ever crossing 500 runs while Dravid scored 600 runs TWICE - Not a single 300; this certainly makes me think about his temperament for a long innings - The number of 200s are so comparable to many other batsmen that it again does not distinguish him as much as we (and media/experts) make out to be

    SRT *may be the best* but I reiterate, the RATIO of attention/applause that SRT gets TO what other players get, is highly misplaced. [[ Very well put. The essence of what the problem is about. And done without in any way putting down Tendulkar at all. My problem extends to other sports beyond Cricket. When I see Anand asked about Bharat Ratna for SRT, I see red since Anand himself is a very strong candidate for that. And no one would ask SRT about Bharat Ratna for Anand. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 6, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    @Boll: Alternatively, one could look at series in which SRT has *averaged* more than 80 or 90 (as opposed to scoring 500+ or 600+ runs) ... there are plenty of those, including 4-test serieses. Had he not gotten run out in the last innings, he could have scored 600+ runs in 4 tests vs Aussies in Australia, 2008.

    In fact, looking at these tables one could argue that it is SRT who has underachieved!!

  • Shriram on August 6, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    Excellent analysis as usual. This might be splitting hairs but one thing I would like to clarify is whether the parameter "Series situation" takes into account the individual match situation as well. A match-turning innings can change a scoreline of 100/5 to 500 all out and give the impression that batting conditions were easy, but the players coming together at 100/5 should be given proportionately more credit for their performances. However, this might not happen too often so I don't think it would impact the overall list too much. [[ As I have already mentioned, that would be Innings Rating work which this is not. Ananth: ]]

    Keep up the great work. Look forward to the test match simulator that you were referring to in one of your earlier posts, sometime soon!

    regards, -Shriram

  • Raj Balakrishnan on August 6, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    @ Ananth, India have beaten South Africa twice: 96-97 -> 2-1 (3 test series) and 2004-05 -> 1-0 (2 test series). [[ I knew about the early results. However India have not beaten Safrica during the past 5 years during which the ICC Ratings work. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 6, 2011, 16:42 GMT

    @shrikanthk, alternatively you could remark that SRT has had 43 series in which to appear on this thread and has failed to pass 500 runs on any occasion. In 4 of the 11 series Bradman played he had already passed the 500 run mark by the 3rd test.

  • Alex on August 6, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    @SWARZI: The facts on Lara's ODI batting position are as follows.

    1. Over Feb '92 - Feb '94, except for a few matches, he opened with Haynes. After that, he batted at #3. Haynes retired in Apr '94.

    2. Simmons had been an opener till Feb '92 and occupied #3 spot, Feb '92 - Feb '94. Then, he started opening with the likes of Campbell and Williams.

    3. Mar '94 - July '94 was Lara's glorious summer in tests & FC. What prevented him from demanding the opener's role which had been his own for the past 2 yrs? He was the favorite of Richardson, the captain, and would have gotten it.

    4. Batting at #3, Lara often arrived at crease within the first 10 overs. He had a terrific record till 1999 but posted ordinary stats since then ... I feel he just did not consider ODI's very important after the great '99 series vs Aus.

    BTW, SRT became an opener age 21. Since then, his middle order record: 45 matches, 1350 runs, ave=39, 4 100's, 8 50's.

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    Anyway, I think we have diverted from the topic of this post. Let's argue about Tendulkar and Lara when Ananth does his modern batting greats analysis. Let's limit ourselves to the topic at hand for the present. Cheers!

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    @IPSY- "....to reflect his slow 'non-risk' batting style." Really? Tendulkar is a slow batsman? He may have cut down on risk taking in the recent past, but he is still a batsman who likes to dominate. Agreed, he isn't as destructive as a Richards, but he is by no means a boring blocker. And at his late 1990s best, Tendulkar was as domineering a batsman as you could find. Look, I agree Tendulkar is not a perfect batsman, but he is as near to perfection as you can go. Saying he is a slow, limited batsman of limited talent is simply taking it too far. He is not just a batting great, but a batting genius. Period.

  • Raj Balakrishnan on August 6, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    Lara has a poor record in Australia, South Africa, England and India. Both his 400 and 375 were meaningless knocks scored on the flattest of tracks at home.

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 15:37 GMT

    @Boll- Tendulkar certainly isn't streets ahead of Lara or some other past greats. However, comparisons between different generations tend to be flawed by default. Suffice to say that Tendulkar is probably the greatest of his time, and in the top 3 or 4 guys of all time. Bradman, Sobers, Tendulkar, Lara and Richards are possibly the top 5 of all time, in no particular order, other than the fact that the Don is clearly at the top.

  • Alex on August 6, 2011, 14:19 GMT

    @Ananth: Gilchrist's 473 in 3 tests vs SA (away series '04-'05) deserves a mention in the reader's comments at least since it featured a great innings in each test (204*, 138*, 91). Also, his SR for the series was 98! [[ I can see lot of merit in this suggestion. So this gets in as the first sub-500 performance. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 6, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    I just can't fathom some of the remarks on Tendulkar in this thread!!

    My view is that your piece has some what 'exposed' Tendulkar

    ??!? IPSY: Let's face it. You probably need to blame the BCCI partly for Tendulkar not featuring on this thread! India has played so very few 5-test series over the past 20 years. No wonder Tendulkar has not scored 500+ in a series yet. I cannot possibly imagine Sachin scoring less than 500 in say the '98-99 series against Aus at home had it been a 5-test series!

    it should be much bigger to reflect his slow 'non-risk' batting style

    Slow? Non Risk? We've been watching different Sachins over the past 20 years. This guy is one of the finest all round strokeplayers of the past 150 years. For most of his career, his strike rate has hovered around 55-60 which is comparable to DGB's career Strike rate! [[ I think I have to bite the bullet and summarize Tendulkar's career. This will put paid to all unnecessary comments. 5-Test series: 3 (1991/1997/2002 4-Test series: 8 3-test series: 32 2-test series: 18 1-test series: 7 So it is true that Tendulkar has played very few 5-Test series. The last one was 9 years back. Even 4-Test series are only 8. Most of his series have been 3 and less. This is clearly a BCCI-strategy to get in as many series and as many ODI matches. However it is also surprising that the 5-Test series have not been successes. Don't ask me this for other batsmen. this was a one-off effort. If done, it has to be a special effort. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 6, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    @Ajinkya, re.`Ranking great batsmen based on their averages is about the worst method one can come up with.` Surely some hyperbole there. Imperfect as it is, batting average (particularly amongst contemporaries) is the fairest statistical measure we have to compare test batsmen.

    I wasn`t attempting to denigrate Sachin, and certainly wouldn`t rank him the 15th best batsman purely based on his average. However, as opposed to what many fans would have us believe, he hasn`t been streets ahead of his contemporaries or past greats... Bradman is the only man to have done this, he left the greats of his time, and all others, in his wake.

  • IPSY on August 6, 2011, 12:03 GMT

    Ananth, I was invited to read this article and I did. I think it is the best piece of analysis I've seen for those fans who like to compare their cricket heroes. I look forward for the bowling part. I conclude that most responders are mainly interested in the figures of the two most modern batsman-superstars - Lara and Tendulkar. My view is that your piece has some what 'exposed' Tendulkar. The mere fact that he has played so many more matches and series than all the others and is still unable to feature in at least one of the scenarios is inexcusable. However, no one should bash him for that. He knows that he is not endowed with the temperament and skill of a Bradman or Richards or Lara to constantly destroy bowlers, so he bats within his limitations and gets the job done. For his fans who think that his average of few runs more than Richards and Lara is a positive should know it is also a serious negative, in that it should be much bigger to reflect his slow 'non-risk' batting style.

  • Arjun on August 6, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    S Chanderpaul (WI vs India-2002) 562 runs (ag, Srinath, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Nehra)

    Between 1st and 5th test he was almost impossible to dismiss. Infact he wasn't dismissed for more than 1000 consecutive balls and 1500+ minutes. Unique in Test History. [[ I am not sure about this, Arjun. Half these runs came in two 2-innings Tests having RpW of 47 and 57 respectively. And 800 of the balls faced in these two Tests. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    @SWARZI- Batting in the middle order also carries its own advantages in the form of easy singles being available in the middle overs, not having to face the new ball and also having more chances to remain not out. No matter what argument one puts forth, there are always ways to get around that. The truth is that Viv Richards and Tendulkar are the two greatest ODI batsmen ever, and no one except maybe Ponting comes close to matching them.

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Also, in the end, greatness comes down to what I can only call 'feel'. When I watch Tendulkar, Lara or Dravid play, I know in my heart, without anyone telling me, that these are great batsmen. The same cannot be said for Samaraweera, Trott or Cook, no matter how many runs they pile up. Tendulkar may well be 15th when ranked by averages, but he is higher up actually because it does not feel right to have him at 15!!

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    @Boll- Ranking great batsmen based on their averages is about the worst method one can come up with. It is just far too simplistic. Jayawardene, Trott and Samaraweera all average higher than Gavaskar and Richards, and there is no way they are better batsmen than those two legends. Stats always need to be taken with a pinch of salt, because there are many other non-quantifiable factors to be taken into account. [[ Ajinkya, Boll was not trying to rank batsmen based on average. He merely stated that Tendulkar is 15th in the list of averages. Many other factors will be taken into account when such an analysis is re-done.There is no doubt that this will be a very important metric, though. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 6, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    @Ajinkya. I`m not sure that people argue that Lara is `miles ahead of SRT as a Test batsman`, although many argue that he was just as good or even slightly better.

    I feel the fault lies more with Sachin fans who refuse to accept comparisons with contemporaries or greats from other eras as legitimate.

    Based on averages, Sachin lies 15th on the all-time averages table, 4 behind Kallis, 1 ahead of Sanga. Surely this leaves room for debate?

  • SWARZI on August 6, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    Ananth, your statement: '.there is no comparison between Lara and Tendulkar in ODIs. There is huge daylight', while so on the surface is not quite true. Your article is not about ODIs but let me still remind you that Tendulkar played 80 ODIs as a middle order batsman and was unable to score a single 100 there! At that time Lara was opening the innings for WI and had already scored four 100s. It would appear that Tendulkar who is much smarter than most cricketers, noted that if he were to compete with Lara in ODIs also, he too had to open (as there is where you have 300 balls to score a 100). So he successfully requested to go up the order to open. But at the same time in 1994 the dashing WI opener Phil Simmons came on the scene and Lara (usual team bickerings) was punished to middle - Haynes opened with Simmons. The disadvantage of batting in the middle in ODIs is that you usually have to sacrifice your wicket for quick runs. But he still made many 100s there - SRT made none! Lesson? [[ Not bad. Suddenly I am being taken to task for being pro-SRT. Lara had outstanding gems during the first half of his ODI career, viz., 139, 153, 169, 111, 117 et al. In teh second half he had probably one such innings. He himself probably lost interest and concentrated on tests. SRT, on the other hand, seems to have maintained his appetite for ODI matches. My comment was taking teh complete career, not parts. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 6, 2011, 6:00 GMT

    @Ajinkya. Top 5 modern batsmen would make for a very interesting analysis, although, Ananth has covered all-time best batsmen in tests/ODIs in previous articles.

    ODI rankings seem fairly straightforward for mine; Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara, Kallis, Dravid. Although based on the very rough average x SR method Kallis pips Lara - Sachin is well ahead, Dravid well behind.

    1.Tendulkar 38.98 2. Ponting 34.40 3.Kallis 33.07 4.Lara 32.19 5.Dravid 28.06

    Test ranking seems far less clear cut I think.

  • Boll on August 6, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    This is obviously pushing the boundaries of what defines a `series`, but in recent years the Aus vs South Africa 2x3 tests home /away have taken on the shape of a 6-test series, Dec-Jan in Aus, Feb-Mar in SAf. If we accept this is a `series`, Ponting`s 515 vs SAf in Aus 2005/6 plus his 348 in 3 tests in SAf a month or so later looks even better. 863 runs in 6 tests (5 centuries). [[ This is only a marketing/promoting idea. The two series are quite different. Of the three occasions this has happened, twice there has been gap of about 6-8 weeks. But your point is well-made and Ponting deserves a mention, at least as a footnote. Ananth: ]]

  • Abbascheema on August 6, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    Plz write a blog on top ten emerging batsmen in test cricket with a maximum of 3 year experience. [[ Very nice idea. Will set a date for this, say 31.12.2011 and do it. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Also waiting for an analysis of the 5 greatest batsmen of modern times (with apologies to Steve Waugh and Inzamam)- Tendulkar, Lara, Dravid, Ponting and Kallis. These 5 are the only men to have the stupendous distinction of having scored over 10000 runs in both Tests and ODIs. All of them also have over 30 Test centuries....these are elite batsmen. [[ This probably has better value and validity. Why restrict to only two. All these 5 are within the 90-100 range. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    Could you do a similar analysis on the best bowling performances over a series? [[ Please re-read the first paragraph of the article. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 4:42 GMT

    Hanif Mohammed's 628 runs vs the Windies in 1957-58, away. A fairly good Windies attack, comprising Gilchrist, Valentine and Sobers. [[ Becomes 676.9 and has a better chance than Rowe's. Hanif was also fighting a battle away with scant support. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    Rowe's 616 against England in1973-74...although at home, these came against a very good attack of Willis, Old and Underwood. Those runs also included a superb 302. [[ Good effort, but does not walk in immediately. Moves only to 632.4 runs. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    As regarding the myth of Lara being miles ahead of SRT as a Test batsman...the only places away from home where Lara averages above 50 are Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. SRT, on the other hand averages over 50 in England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and, of course, at home in India. He also averages 46 in South Africa, 49 in New Zealand and 47 in the Windies. He does not average below 40 in any country either. [[ No problems with comments like this on either side of the divide. There are lines drawn and those are not to be crossed. Ananth: ]]

  • Sreekanth on August 6, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    "I didn’t run up like a twat and pitch it halfway down so no, I don’t suppose I was a strike bowler."

    Shrikanth - I had never heard that one before but its a great line to start the day with ! Thanks for uncorking a little gem.

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Whether Lara was an orthodox batsman or not is a moot point....he never played unorthodox shots, but played all the usual shots in a very unorthodox manner. Contrast this to SRT, who is a pretty textbook batsman, until he plays an uppercut or a paddle sweep!

  • Ajinkya on August 6, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    Did not want to add fuel to the Lara-SRT debate, but couldn't resist! @Manasvi "Tendulkar is a good batsman but he achieved far beyond his limited talent" ... really? SRT has limited talent? I have observed that people often attribute his success to a tremendous work ethic, but seem to ignore the already massive talent he was born with. Just because he wasn't as flashy as Lara does not mean he wasn't as talented!

  • RIZWAN on August 6, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Ananth , its my turn to to say you are wrong.There is one person who has been consistently brilliant for 50 years.He has been Bradmensque in output as well as as well as Larasque in achieving stellar performances.The man is OUR hero , KamalHassan.He leaves everyone in the shade.Imagine 50 years of sustained excellence. Now , let us see if anyone can top that !

  • shrikanthk on August 6, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    Lara was a genius,but one who played according to his own whims.Tendulkar is a highly driven individual who made the best of his talent.This summarizes the difference in the two

    Manasvi: This is a bit of a cliche actually. Lara's "under-achievement", if you can call it that, is not because of his whims. The man had a huge backlift and played his strokes with such flourish. This aspect of his technique often got him into trouble with the really quick bowlers against whom it can be a problem to get the bat down in time! That explains some of his struggles against top-class quick bowlers (Eg: SA in '98-99, Aus in '96-97, Aus in '00-01)

    Also, to say that Tendulkar's success can be attributed to his "drive" is to suggest that other batsmen in this world don't try as hard!! Trust me, nobody wants to get out. Every other guy works just as hard on his batting be it Sachin or Harbhajan! Sachin's extraordinary durability and success plainly suggest that he is a damn good player. Period.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 6, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    Ananth, Hutton's 677 runs against WI in 1953-54. Where does that stack up? I thought it was an exceptional performance. [[ Away series, 677 moving up to 789.2 probably deserves a serious look. West Inidan pace bowling was nothing great but Ramadhin and Valentine made it a good one. That is the only thing that makes me think twice. Hutton against average pace bowlers. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 6, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    1902 Fry C.B (Eng vs Aus) 4 5 0, 0, 1, 4

    Interesting. Worth noting that Fry's good friend and Sussex teammate Ranjitsinhji also had an equally horrid time with the bat in that 1902 series. (though he did reach double figures once I think). The bad run practically finished Ranji's test career. However, Fry did play a lot for England in later years. [[ For this mini-analysis I set the bar very high (or more appropriately, for this, very low). I only looked for run aggregates below 10. Even 10 was out. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 6, 2011, 2:32 GMT

    @Manasvi: "Tendulkar is a good batsman but he achieved far beyond his limited talent" ... this comment merits a separate article appraising Lara and SRT on which, no doubt, Ananth will get more than 501 comments.

    You must factor in SRT's injuries and then view tests & ODI's together to start understanding his true worth & ability. Lara's ODI stats in his final 10 yrs: 178 matches, 5369 runs, ave=36, 8 hundreds. Contrast that with SRT's: 173 matches, 7308 runs, ave=47.5, 17 hundreds. If SRT is far behind Lara on some metrics then it is vice versa on some other equally valid metrics. [[ To handle that level of work and barrage of comments, I probably have to be paid combat pay !!! Then only would I attempt it. In fact there is no comparison between SRT and Lara on ODIs. There is huge daylight. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 6, 2011, 2:04 GMT

    @shrikanthk: You must have seen SRT's first interview for sure then ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNAzXh-58Eo .

    @Ananth: Do consider Kallis: 498 in 3 tests at ave=166 vs Ind, 2010-11. Also, the following were top-notch efforts vs the WI attack at its peak.

    1. R Smith: 416 in 4 at ave=82 vs WI, 1991. Gooch also played well and hit the famous 154* in this series.

    2. K Wessels: 505 in 5 at ave=56 vs WI, 1985. He was the lone warrior in that series in which even AB got sorted out. [[ Alex, for me include anything below 500 runs, the only word applicable is exceptional and you would have to justify strongly. 505 at 56 is an average performance. Re Wessels, at home, granted against a very good attack. When there are away aggregates of 600+. Ananth: ]]

  • Manasvi on August 5, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    There are too many what-ifs in Lara's glittering career. I feel that Lara left of his accord rather than being ousted by WICB. After all, in his last 6 tests, he'd struck 3 centuries including a double! I think his poor showing in ODIs and the failure of his captaincy in WC motivated him to leave. He should have retired from ODIs and played on in Tests. He should have never taken on the captaincy.If he'd done both these things, his average would have been over 60. Lara was an underachiever and yet he finished with an average of 53. Tendulkar is a good batsman but he achieved far beyond his limited talent, which is why his average (until recently) is 57.Dravid is another overachiever which is why his average is nearly the same as Lara. Lara was a genius,but one who played according to his own whims.Tendulkar is a highly driven individual who made the best of his talent.This summarizes the difference in the two. @Ananth:Trumper scored his runs in the same series as Faulkner.Quicker too [[ Manasvi I have already recorded in these columns the gist of what happened in 2007. After an average (but not a disastrous - see Pak/Ind) WC, in which his leading batsman failed him other than the last inconsequential match, Lara announced his retirement from ODIs but said he would be available to tour England. The WICB, in its infinite stupidity, promptly came back with the announcement that Lara was not certain to be selceted for England. As if they had batsmen with 10000/50 adornments jostling for selection. Any proud man would not take this insult. He promptly announced his retirement. And this is not Shahid Afridi who has retired probably three times. So theoretically Lara might have left on his own. However WICB pushed him out and have been paying for it until today. When Lara said he would retire from test cricket at the end of the England tour, the WICB chorus should have been that WI cricket needed Lara to play Test cricket for two more years and not the stupid statement which was issued, probably deliberately. So we lost Lara. The way he was playing he would have played for two years the wonderful way in which Tendulkar has played over the past two years. Ananth: ]]

  • arijit dasgupta on August 5, 2011, 19:38 GMT

    Shrikanthk and Alex, You're right in your comments about the relative orthodoxy/unorthodoxy of the techniques of Lara, Tendulkar, Sobers, etc. It was my mistake, I used the wrong word. Actually I wasn't referring to technique at all but to mental approach. The point is that the likes of Gavaskar, Steve Waugh, Tendulkar, Kallis, Border, etc --- even Miandad (who was an inveterate improviser) --- appear more solid, whatever their technique, and seem to have a greater likelihood of batting for a long time than the likes of Lara or Richards (who was a byword for stillness of head). I think it's grim determination, calculated risk-taking or avoidance, percentage play, etc. Whatever the reason, Lara seems an odd man out in the 10,000-plus category (and will continue to be so till, as Pallab and Ananth have said, Sehwag joins him). That's all that I meant.

  • Alex on August 5, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    @Ashish: ICC's rating system gives too much % to past record and win/loss stats. It routinely rated Viv Richards as the #1 batsman in tests in mid and late 1980's whereas, performance wise, he should not have made even the top 5 after 1983. Also, SRT's injury period ('04 through '06) caused a dip in his ICC ratings & consistency. That said, Lara's inconsistency is truly a myth. Some relevant numbers:

    Lara SRT Kallis Ponting Waugh % of 50+ runs: 35.4 37.8 38.2 36.7 31.5 % of 100+: 14.7 17.3 16.2 15.05 12.3 % of 34+ (or 84+ balls): 50 52 52 48 44

    However, note that Lara's big lead at the end of 131 tests is due to a larger # innings ... SRT, Ponting, and Kallis averaged more at that point. SRT devotees can cut/slice/dice it anyway they want but he is far from the leading pack on runs under these valid constraints: 1 over, 1 session, 1 day, 1 innings, 1 test, 1 series.

  • shrikanthk on August 5, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    Also looking at India's 1st test in 1932 and ashes footage,it amazes me on how small the runups were...maybe thats why they could get through 120 overs/day

    Imhotep : What's wrong with small run-ups? Alec Bedser could bowl about 120 km/hr speeds with just a few paces and the wicket keeper standing up. Sreesanth bowls at about the same speed with the keeper standing back and an extravagantly long run-up consuming 5 minutes per over. Who's more effective?

    Once a sceptic like yourself apparently questioned the striking ability of Alec Bedser. He replied with this line :

    I didn’t run up like a twat and pitch it halfway down so no, I don’t suppose I was a strike bowler

    :)

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    Shrikanthk, Ruchir: Bradman's style of talking uncluttered, uncomplicated cricket (unlike the overt intellectual “batsmen mindset” fulminations of Greg Chappell or the technical verbiage of batting nuances by Gavaskar/Barry Richards/Boycott – possible cos they were openers - on air) should remind readers/fans of Sehwag’s UNCANNILY similar talking style in his native language (not English). No wonder Ian Chappell saw the similarities in their approach to batting and labeled Viru as the most dominant batsman after Don. Ananth:Thanks for the 131 Tests runs breakup of the titans. I had also pointed out in your previous blogs that had Lara not been ousted by WICB in 2007, he would have racked up atleast 2-3000 more Test runs and make it that much more difficult for SRT/Ponting to catch up with him and make SRT play almost till 40!

  • shrikanthk on August 5, 2011, 17:51 GMT

    The Don's YouTube clip has fascinated me for 3 years now

    Alex, Ruchir : Yes. The best part of the interview is his remarkably confident body language. He knows he's in front of a camera (a big deal in 1930 - the earliest days of talking picture). And yet, absolutely no nerves. Continues with his routine of wearing the sweater and the blazer as the interviewer (possibly twice his age) looks on!

    Another notable thing is his ability to put records into perspective even at that tender age. He says Hobbs' FC records will stand for all time and will probably never be beaten (he has been proved right!!!), mainly because cricketers from other parts of the world don't play as much FC cricket as the English. So very true. But not the sort of thing you'd expect a 21 yr old to grasp.

    No wonder Ian Chappell saw the similarities in their approach to batting and labeled Viru as the most dominant batsman after Don

    Yep. Sehwag has a similarly uncluttered brain, which helps him a lot!

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 17:00 GMT

    Shrikanthk, Ruchir: Bradman's style of talking uncluttered, uncomplicated cricket (unlike the overt intellectual “batsmen mindset” fulminations of Greg Chappell or the technical verbiage of batting nuances by Gavaskar/Barry Richards/Boycott – possible cos they were openers - on air) should remind readers/fans of Sehwag’s UNCANNILY similar talking style in his native language (not English). No wonder Ian Chappell saw the similarities in their approach to batting and labeled Viru as the most dominant batsman after Don. Ananth:Thanks for the 131 Tests runs breakup of the titans. I had also pointed out in your previous blogs that had Lara not been ousted by WICB in 2007, he would have racked up atleast 2-3000 more Test runs and make it that much more difficult for SRT/Ponting to catch up with him and make SRT play almost till 40!

  • Ashish Mehta on August 5, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    Thanks....Actually I meant "Valuable Analysis" above there for your great job.... And I found an article in the reliance ICC site blog - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 Tests are to Bradman as ODIs are to…………

    There I found Lara's name having 784 average rating. Then I decide to create an excel sheet for BCL & SRT and to put all their ratings achieved one by one by checking it date-wise on the ICC website for all the matches played by them.. [[ Thanks, Ashish Ananth: ]]

  • Abhijit on August 5, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    I wonder, Every good/great batsman is on this list.....but Sachin is not.....is this a sign of weakness? will you comment about any other batsman who is not in the list and still labeled as great? Since I started watching test cricket, I always hoped that sachin would play such astonishing series against a decent attack...I am still hoping..:( [[ It is a surprise that Tendulkar has not reached 500 in a Test series while many a lesser batsmen have done. However that is not the requirement for a great batsman. Ananth: ]]

  • Ashish Mehta on August 5, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    Valuable Analysis... For Consistency & Form. In the world cricket ICC provides rating to every batsman after their performances in matches based on opposition, conditions, etc,. So lets look on it: 1. BC Lara slipped below 700 rating barrier just for 1 match (692) after crossing 700 mark for the first time in his 16th match. (It means in the span of his last 115 matches just once) 2. SR Tendulkar slipped below 700 rating barrier for 21 matches (lowest 641) after crossing 700 mark for the first time in his 29th match. In total of 131 matches BCL was below 700 mark for 16 matches i.e. 12% of his entire career. In total of 179 matches SRT was below 700 mark for 49 matches i.e. 27% of his entire career. Lets see the average rating of their entire career. In total of 131 matches BCL has the Average Rating of 784 - third all time best after Bradman 855 & Hobbs 799 and all time best in the group of 100 tests played. And In total of 179 matches SRT has Average Rating of 733. Thanks!! [[ Thanks a lot for many valuable insights. What is the source. Is it available in the free domain in the ICC site. Ananth: ]]

  • Manasvi on August 5, 2011, 15:33 GMT

    It's a pity that none of the three W's made it into the top lists. Most of the talk here has been about Lara but who can forget the black Bradman - the greatest player on sticky wickets along with Jack Hobbs. Doesn't Sutcliffe's performance against Oz in 1924/25 deserve a mention? He scored 734 runs in 5 Tests and it was against an attack comprising of Gregory, Mailey and even Grimmett. The next highest was Hobbs' 573 runs. Hobbs makes his appearance time and again. His performance against SA was top nothc but another great performance was in the 1911/12 Ashes when the next hgihest run scorer was Wilfred Rhodes with 463 runs. Much has been written rightly of the immortal Faulkner, but what of the man who helped in crushing the SA team 4-1? Victor Trumper scored 661 runs at the mind boggling strike rate of 87.78! Beat that Sehwag. And this against an attack which was just as good as the Oz attack (against which Faulkner scored) - the famous spin attack. (contd) [[ Sutcliffe has already been suggested and I am looking at it. Trumper deserves serious consideration considering the period in which these runs were scored. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 5, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    Shrikanth: What a gem of a video! Uncomplicated, uncluttered and clean. Just like his batting!!

    I really loved the part where he shows all the possible strokes around the ground. That's the entire art of batsmanship distilled to 2 minutes

    Wonder if there is a similar interview with Sunny on his debut tour. I am sure he did a far better job that the current "chip on the shoulder" routine

  • Alex on August 5, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    @shrikanthk: The Don's YouTube clip has fascinated me for 3 years now. The interviewer is a bit patronizing but this 22-year old is in his own zone: proper, correct, informative, lucid, and businesslike.

    @Ananth: Y'day, I suggested GA Faulkner's 732 and Sutcliffe's 734 but it seems the comment did not reach you. Arjun has since suggested Faulkner. Do look up the following.

    1. Sutcliffe: 734 in 5 at ave=82 vs Aus 1924. Aussies drubbed Eng 4-1 (similar to the Faulkner series) with only Hobbs & Sutcliffe resisting. [[ Yes, this seems exceptional. Ananth: ]]

    2. Herbie Taylor: 582 in 5 at ave=65 vs Eng 1923 in a bowler dominated series. [[ Have to look further into the series. Ananth: ]]

    3. Viv Richards: 386 in 3 at ave=97 vs Aus 1980. Aussies had an excellent attack but WI beat them 2-0 ... the second highest scorer for WI was Kalli at 202 in 3 at ave=50. [[ Tough to look at this. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 5, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    G Boycott (Eng in Aus, 1970-71) 657 runs @ 93.8

    D Walters(Aus vs WI, 1968) 699(4 tests), 1968

    B Suttclife (NZ in India, 1955-56) 611 runs @ 87.2) [[ Boycott: 657 becomes 703.0, away series. Walters 699 becomes 714.8, home series.. Sutcliffe 611 becomes 626.2, away series. All need a further look. Will do. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 5, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    Ananth, perhaps you can sort the reader's list by adj runs / test, so that readers have to fight for pride of place...

    Here goes...Len Hutton, 677 runs, 5 tests, 1953-54 v/s WI (in WI). Brought England back from 0-2 to 2-2 singlehandedly, and was captain. WI attack was decent - Ramadhin, Valentine, Sobers, plus some handy backups like Worrell, etc.

  • shrikanthk on August 5, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Coming back to the big Bradman series in 1930 -

    It's too amazing for words really. The man scored all those 974 runs at a strike rate of 60+ that was unheard of in those days. Nobody barring MaCartney had scored runs at that pace in the 20s.

    Here was a country lad from an Australian hill station, with little education visiting England for the first time. No prior experience of English conditions. And yet, completely at home right from the first tour game.

    Here's an interview with that young 21 year old country bumpkin back in 1930!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmUw9dDa1ys

    I never cease to be amazed by this video. This kid is an Australian villager who has never been to college, visiting a foreign country for the first time. Yet, so very articulate and organized in his thought process. Mind you, this was an era of no mass media. So, he wouldn't have grown up listening to interviews. Yet, the guy is so very perfect in expressing his thoughts. Not a single cliche in that interview. [[ My interest is aroused. Let me wath the video later. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 5, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    Viv Richards 556 runs against some world class Indian spinners in 1975-76, and frequently rescuing West Indies from tight spots or in somewhat low scoring situations. 4 tests. [[ Tight series, i agree. West Indies at home. However Indian bowling was far ahead of Windies nowling (32 vs 38). 556 becomes 592.4. One easy and two difficult centuries. This deserves a further look. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 5, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    @shrikanth, I agree that Lara is more orthodox than S Waugh especially in front foot play. But I do not agree that Ponting is an unorthodox batsman in any way except the front foot lunge early on in his innings

    Ruchir: I don't know whether there can be a consensus on what constitutes "orthodoxy".

    What I meant was that Lara is a more correct player than either Steve Waugh or Ponting. Waugh had weaknesses against the short pitched ball, far more acute than Lara's. Ponting's forward lunge is decidedly an unscientific, instinctive action, not grounded in first principles.

  • RANDOLF PERKINS on August 5, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    Ananth, in your response to Nitin Gautum, I got the impression that you were suggesting that Tendulkar was more consistent than Lara while Lara was playing test cricket - this is one area where you are dead wrong! Do you know that up to the time when Lara played his last test innings, Tendulkar had played more test matches and more test innings than him; yet, Lara had scored over 1000 runs more than Tendulkar? And if scoring 100s is the best indicator of consistency as it appears is the opinion of most experts, do you know also that though Tendulkar had played 21 innings before Lara played a test match, within the sixteen year period that they both played around the world, both scored the same number of 100s - being 34 each? Tendulkar had scored one century before Lara played a test match; and at the time of Lara's last match, Tendulkar had 35 and Lara 34. At that time also, Tendulkar had an average of just about 1 run over Lara which was due mainly to Lara's attacking style of play. [[ Permit me to have a laugh. Normally I m accused of a pro-Lara anti-SRT bias. Here for a nice change you are hinting at the other way. Thanks. Everyone, their left neighbour's dog and their right neighbour's cat know that Lara was way ahead of not just Tendulkar but all other batsmen who had played 131 Tests. Here is the table. Lara: 11953 Ponting: 10956 Dravid: 10509 SRT: 10434 Kallis: 10277. The four others, Steve Waugh, Border, Chanderpaul and Stewart had not even crossed 10000 runs. Don't I know that. My comment was only that in terms of consistency Tendulkar was ahead. Basically it means that Lara had higher scores than SRT (and others) but was also susceptible for low score dismissals. Look at it as 110 & 0 vs 50 & 50.. That is all. Lara's Runs per Test, which stands at 91.24 is second only to Bradman's 134+ for playesrs exceeding 5000 Test runs. That blolsters the overall compilation view.

    Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 5, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    Talking about unorthodox batsmen in the top run getters list, I think the top honor has to go to Chanderpaul, the Crab who is currently 10th on the list

    @shrikanth, I agree that Lara is more orthodox than S Waugh especially in front foot play. But I do not agree that Ponting is an unorthodox batsman in any way except the front foot lunge early on in his innings

  • Ravi M on August 5, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    As usual, enjoyed this comprehensive work! Cheers

    I was wondering whether you have stats available to calculate the weighting for this performance:

    Greg Chappell (wsc Aus) v WSC West Indies (1978/79 away) 620 runs in a 5-Test series @ 68.9 with 3 100s. Bowling attack for the series: Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft & Wayne Daniel.

    2nd best aggregate from EITHER side was 363 runs by Fredericks. Series included 8 100s; & Greg C scored 3 of them!!!! [[ Ravi, WSC is always going to be a problem. i can only allow you to laud it in your column. I do not have thye database, nor the scorecards nor the mechanism to take in unofficial Tests. One day if ICC makes WSC Tests official, that will be the day I have to do something. Ananth: ]]

    In Australia the year before, 77/78, King Richards scored 502 runs in 5 innings (3 Tests) for "World XI" against WSC Australia. But, Australia's attack only had Lillee, Pascoe, Max Walker & Gilmour. Greg Chappell again scored heavily: 487 runs at 97.4 against the attack with: Imran Khan, Mike Procter, Garner, Andy Roberts, Derek Underwood & Wayne Daniel!!!!

    PS: It's unfortunate that people think Ponting's Australia's 2nd best after Bradman! Greg Chappell is "ARGUABLY" the 2nd best bat after Bradman in history! (though my choice: Sobers)!

  • Siddharth on August 5, 2011, 10:17 GMT

    ... 2. You could also give more weightage for runs scored in the 4th innings. This might partly be when normalised when considered as a % of the team's score, but to do it in the 4th innings would still deserve more credit This would probably give a higher value to lara's 153* in Kensington Oval 3.Runs scored by a batsman can also be weighted by the average runs scored per wicket lost till then in the innings For eg,few would disagree that Dravid's 148 was more valuable than Sachin's 193 in the Headingly test of 2002. India had lost the first wicket with score at 15. The runs scored by dravid till the loss of 2nd wicket was definitely more crucial than the same runs sachin might have scored when he came in at 185/2. This would be captured if each run scored by a batsman is weighted by the avg runs scored/wicket lost by the team till then. This would also give more weightage to runs scored with the tail, as the average is likely to be low at the end of the innings [[ You must remember that this NOT AN INNINGS RATING exercise. In that acse all factors you have mentioned, viz., Target in front, Chasing sitiation, Position when batsman comes in, batting with tail, result et al would come in. This is only a series batting analysis and I have taken the top level parameters. Ananth: ]]

  • Siddharth on August 5, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Great Analysis!

    A few suggestions/opinion from me: 1.Would request you to reconsider Lara's effort against Aus in 1999. In the last 20-30 years, I think this must have been the single effort by a batsman that has had the most bearing on the result of the series.In terms of context, they had just been whitewashed 5-0 for the first time ever in SA. Ppl were baying for Lara's head. And WI lost the first match of the series by more than 300 runs, falling for their lowest ever score of 51. In the 2nd test, they crumbled to 37-4. From there,to take them to a 2-1 lead,as a result of those 2 back to back gems in Trinidad and Barabodas,was something phenomenal. This came against Mcgrath, Gillespie, Warne and Mcgill. And Warne was actually dropped in the 4th test, probably for the only time in his career [[ This has already been included. Ananth: ]]

    I know u have normalised the performances wrt to the % of team's runs scored match by match, but to put things in perspective, the next highest run scorer for WI was Cambell(197 runs@28.14)

  • sunil on August 5, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    No one can match lara and tendulkar at their best.But I dont think that lara at his best was better than tendulkar at his best.To me no one matches tendulkar at his best.for ananth is lara and mark waught.But I wud take tendulkar and Lax any day over them

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 5, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    Ananth, Lindsay prospered when others did badly, and that could not have happened without some good bite in the Aussie attack. I feel it lacked big names, but created serious problems for Austrlia. Lindsay made very tough back-to-the-wall runs, and there were no easy pickings.

    Alex, I cant believe that you suddenly take Gavaskar so seriously. Obviously he would not have said (like Boycott) "One name immediately comes to mind - myself". Nor would Benaud have countered "On the other hand...did you consider yourself / Where is your timing gone, Sunny / Does that mean you are losing your touch."

    It is not only the biased Sobers, but also Simpson, Hutton and others who are different times during the 70s, called Gavaskar the best. That does not make it a universal truth everyone must accept, but I should highlight this just to restore some balance after your customary Sunny bashing ("before 1990, no one called anyone from India the best; BCCI was not a force etc.").

  • SAN on August 5, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    Ananth,

    An excellent analysis. You have a real flair for numbers and cricket. You should embark on a cricket book which touches upon the freaky side of numbers (like Freakonomics was about economy). Every time I see Gavaskar's name in the above article, my respect for SMG the batsman just grows. He has his faults though (lot of them). As for Lara and Richards, I'm sure anyone would hate bowling to such dominant performers if they're in their zone. But a good bowler would fancy getting them early on, given that Richards' average isn't as high as you'd expect, or that Lara's consistency was a huge letdown especially for an ardent fan like me. I remember being meted out a lot of disappointments by Lara, even as I argued with my friends that he was the real deal. A flashy drive, a sight-for-the-Gods pull, and then gone. Dominance factor is what pulls Sachin down, in the sense that some consider him more of an accumulator than an impact player. But his real impact was outside the field.

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    Also underscores S. Waugh’s theory of acclimatizing, feeling the culture of touring nations in order to perform. Aus has toured India 8 times since 2001 for ODIs and Tests inclduing Champions Trophy in 2006! Pakistani players who generally did well in Eng like Zaheer, Miandad,Imran, 2 Ws also handled the acculturation part well cos of county cricket experience.

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    “…the weather has more of an impact on Asian teams when they tour colder climes..Just as the Brits complain about dodgy curries, the heat and rank turners, Asian teams do not like the bland food, rain and cold. the swinging deliveries in old blighty” Rizwan: Quite superb insights about so-called obvious other factors. In fact, Gavaskar failed in 2 consecutive English tours in 80s (no wonder the approbation by Anglo media was lacking apart from connoisseurs and old-timers who remember his magnum opus 221 at Oval in 1979 and 100 at Manchester in 1974). Guess who had the best record in England of recent Indian big 4 of Indian batting before this series. The weakest of the 4 -Ganguly never failed in England (unlike Dravid in 2007) and scored 915 runs @65.

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    “Compare the other high aggregate scorers: Gavaskar, Border, Steve Waugh, Kallis, SRT, Ponting, Dravid --- all largely orthodox batsmen. Only Sobers was like him. Lara is like the maverick student who tops exams without swotting or taking tutorials.” @Arijit Dasgupta: You can also mention the one other absolute unorthodox colossus (in case you have forgotten) soon to enter the high aggregate scorers’ list: Sehwag and a CONVERTED opener at that! My only fear is about Viru’s motivation levels as he had mentioned that he might retire after 100 or so Tests. To think that Viru has missed 8 tests against WI, 6 against Eng, 2 against Aus, 3 against Pak (19 Tests due to “selectorial mood” and fitness issues) during this period despite which he has racked up nearly 8000 runs at that RATE. [[ I think Arijit correctly restricted himself to the top 20 or so. If you go down you may unearth more mavericks. Within a year Sehwag would break into this elite group. Ananth: ]]

  • Smudge on August 5, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Aranath, A couple of "attaboys". First your efforts to reply to most posters is very commenable. Your subjective views are as considered as your statistical analysis. Secondly I'm amazed that you have managed to publish these statistics which do not heavily feature SRT without for more ruckus being caused. Is this entirely due to the force of your analysis, or have you just not allopwed the lynching threats to be posted? Finally, re Tennis Elbow- rest, Volterol gel and patience [[ Rest. Ha!! with nearly 100 comments in 24 hours. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 5, 2011, 7:00 GMT

    A Strauss (in SAF, 2004-05) 656 runs @72.8, 3 100s

    G Faulkner (in AUS, 1910-11) 732 runs @ 73.2 [[ Both deserve a further look. Will do this later in thye day. Happy that the bar has been raised. Ananth: ]] [[ Great selections, Arjun. The 656 is weighted at 760.2 and the 732 moves up to 855.8 (Wow! Until I brought Faulkner into the ambit of top-allrounders a few months back many of today's followers had not even heard of him. And what a batsman he must have been). Ananth: ]]

  • Sriraj on August 5, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Another wonderful work to look at! I find this one of the very few sections of Cricinfo I can really enjoy thanks to the numbers. Though the stats don't tell the whole story of a player, this is the only place where one is able to find unbiased test followers with great knowledge!

  • Alex on August 5, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    @Pallab:

    1. During the 1985 series in Australia, SMG himself said that Jimmy is the best Indian batsman of fast bowling (right after the SCG test) and Benaud agreed with him ... I vividly remember watching it on TV.

    2. Why Jimmy did not get to play much in 70's has a lot to do with selectors. BTW, he played Roberts-Holding extremely well in the '76 away series, including a courageous fifty in the Kingston blood-bath. SMG-Vishy were a bit better than him vs spinners and in conditions that aided swing. Also, like Vengsarkar, Jimmy lacked the staying power of SMG and the sheer artistry of Vishy.

    3. IMO, all things considered, SMG is one of the 2 or 3 most important batsmen ever produced by India. However, no need to pound that in all the time ... best to keep the analysis objective.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 5, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    "Jimmy was the best Indian player of fast bowling in the 70s and 80s"...really? Largely based on 598 runs against 4 WI man pace attack in 1982-83 in ONE series. Every Indian batsman except Sunny feasted on the WI bowling which was truly only a 2 man (Marshall+Roberts) attack, as Holding and Garner were continuously under par (else India could not have made 3 400+ totals in 5 tests), due to overexposure in Australia. Also Garner was dropped for the final test. But Amarnath's Barbados innings were truly courageous.

    But if such a high value is placed on one series, why rate Tendulkar so high for consistency? Got to do one or the other.

    Also, Amarnath kept on falling on his stumps or getting hit on the head or losing his Sola Topee.

    Vishy and Sunny were and are the best from India against fast bowling (and when facing pressure), followed by Kapil Dev, then Tendulkar and Amarnath. But that is only my humble opinion.

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    Ananth:I feel that SMG’s 774 runs in debut series (played only 4 of the 5!) can be included in Reader’s list. One cannot fault a debutant if bowling attack of an overall strong team was weak (which WI was in 1971). Hypothetically, it’s like penalizing Eoin Morgan if he scored 600 plus runs in a debut series against India ( a stronger team ranked no. 1 in Tests but with an OK bowling attack). Plus SMG’s monumental feat was away. In fact, if you notice, the WI team was almost like India with 3 batting greats like Sobers, Lloyd, Kanhai and 1 great spinner Gibbs and an effective, experienced seamer Holder who went on to play 40 Tests. [[ Pallab, one thing I am surprised with. These are tables of runs made in a test series. Gavaskar's 774 is there. There is also a small table ordered by the adjusted runs. Independently I have got my selection. I have also allowed readers to come in with their recommendations and justify the selection. Why do you talk about penalizing a player and so on. Anyhow Gavaskar's 774 is already in. Ananth: ]]

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    “Shastri …have been ruthless in the Bell incident. If only he had shown half the ruthlessness while he was batting/bowling.” @Ruchir: Shastri (RS) with all his extremely limited abilities was extremely ruthless (cussedness is the word) against top teams away as an opener. His average against Aus is 75 plus. 100s away in WI,Eng,Pak,OZ. Believe me, Shastri was ruthless while captaining Mumbai to a Ranji Trophy triumph and followed exactly what he “said about Bell incident”. If not for RS Dungarpur and his suspicious, zealous supporting of Azhar (I have lots of dope on that), Shastri was India’s lost captain of the 90s. Hirwani while being captained in only 1 Test by RS (RS’s only 1!) has mentioned that Shastri was his best captain and a hard-nosed one. The problem is why has smug, holier-than-thou Shastri (more so than deserving SMG) become the face of Indian cricket on all issues in the last decade.(team selection, IPL, etc.)

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    @Ruchir: Most other points enunciated by Alex are spot on. To add, Marshall and Holding were known for their 2some disintegration (thru cricket skills unlike mental disintegration) of rated players. Jimmy’s superb, courageous batting in previous WI series had made him a marked man. So there was no form loss; just superb, hostile, tactical bowling to negate Jimmy. I remember even in non-media saturated environment of those times, Jimmy’s score line was a major talking point. I would not also discount the revenge factor (which Ananth also pointed out) and Jimmy’s key role in World Cup’83 win for WI pacers’ hostility.

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 4:48 GMT

    “Jimmy was the best Indian batsman of fast bowling in 70's and 80's” @Alex: When a fellow younger fan asks about matches/players he may have been too young to discern about; please don’t misinform or pass blanket statements like that or mask your known rantings against Gavaskar. You and everybody who followed cricket in the 80s in India knows that Imran rated Jimmy the best player of pace bowling ONLY for his annus mirabilis performances in twin 1982-83 series in Pakistan and WI. Jimmy hardly played Tests in the 70s (25 only!) for that rating – so clearly misinforming. In fact, G. Vishwanath was rated just a tad higher than SMG in the 70s against pace. SMG was consistently the best Indian player of fast bowling right thru 70s and 80s unlike Jimmy who had to remodel his approach and game towards fast bowling after getting hit numerous times while hooking in the 70s. You forget that SMG was an opener in that hostile era of pacers.

  • Pallab on August 5, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Ananth: Enjoyed this piece more because of the flavors and nuances captured of run gluts in series. “As already explained, a 21-year old batsmen achieves this during his first tour of England” Ananth: Even for Taylor, his first Tour of England. So his 839 in 1989 should be a shoo-in. [[ Tom had already talked about this. Taylor gets in. Ananth: ]] Gavaskar’s 505 (weighted runs would surely be higher give WI attack, what is it??) runs in 1983 vs. WI in India (inclusive of 3 stunning knocks- a 200plus Vs. WI 80s vintage almost a 300 in today’s times).For me, [[ Gavaskar's memorable 774 has already been included. Ananth: ]]

    K.Pietersen’s 473 runs in debut series in 2005 Ashes in one of the most tightly fought, high-quality Test series against superb attack deserves honorable mention. Never seen a non-sub continental player collar Warne so badly. KP almost came close to scoring 500 runs (490) in subsequent Ashes 5-0 washout. In fact,KP suffers from “nervous 450s syndrome” scoring 466 runs against WI in 2007 (all in first 3 years since debut).Happy to see Vaughan's name in list. His stroke play was coruscating.

  • Alex on August 5, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    @shrikanthk: Absolutely correct on Lara. He was quite orthodox. The high back-lift and the trigger movement were a bit unusual for a top class batsman (those quirks are usually the domain of Agarkars and Bhajjis) but that's all. His traditional shots & defenses were so strong that he did not have to *invent* anything there. Of course, he hit shots/gaps most others could not but that was thanks to exceptionally fast hands and a God's gift for picking the line.

    The unorthodox batsman is SRT. He is technically Lara's superior but has a much limited repertoire of traditional shots. So, he resorts to inventions. A vivid example is him over-rotating so much while playing a leg glance/drive to Warne & Murali that the shot actually got played as a straight drive ... that was not a one-off occurrence but a deliberate strategy invented to overcome his limitation.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 5, 2011, 3:51 GMT

    I thought Dennis Lindsay 600+ runs against Simpson's Australians was absolutely top-class, as he took 1) 24 catches in that series, and 2) came 4 down or 5 down always 3) each of his centuries was critical. He was the biggest reason for the series win. Would strongly push for this. [[ I will reserve judgement on this performance since Australian bowling, with McKenzie the only force, was quite ordinary. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 5, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    Compare the other high aggregate scorers: Gavaskar, Border, Steve Waugh, Kallis, SRT, Ponting, Dravid --- all largely orthodox batsmen. Only Sobers was like him. Lara is like the maverick student who tops exams without swotting or taking tutorials.

    Actully, Sobers was, by most accounts, a very orthodox batsman with an exceptionally sound defence. Lara is fairly orthodox as well. Atleast, more orthodox than someone like Steve Waugh or Ponting!

  • Raghu on August 5, 2011, 3:24 GMT

    Although the 1971 India-WI series was 5 tests, Gavaskar played only 4 tests. In this context, his 774 was very very valuable, considering it was his debut series. Your analysis has not given the kind of ranking this feat really deserves [[ There is no ranking ar anything like that given. My personal selection is mine. That no one can question. Gavaskar's 774 is right there in the 5-test table in the later part. The runs have been adjusted to 827.3. Pl read the article carefully. If you want this series included in the Reader's list, no problem, will do it. That is the purpose of the Reader's selection. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on August 5, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    The closest Tendulkar has come to dominating a series is against Australia last year-403 runs at 134.33 in 2 Tests. Don't think it should be included though.

  • shrikanthk on August 5, 2011, 3:00 GMT

    After 1920, there were very few timeless tests

    Actually, all test matches in Australia till WWII were timeless throughout the 20s and 30s.

    So, yes. Tony has a point. Though, it doesn't apply much to Bradman who scored at a fair clip (SR of around 60).

    Having said that, we also had 4-day test matches in the 30s (especially in England).

    Bradman in '38 would've ended up with a much higher series aggregate if the tests were of 5-day duration. He scored two unbeaten second innings centuries at Lord's and Trentbridge. Both those innings, I dare say, might have been much bigger efforts, had the games lasted an extra day.

    So, the impact of four-day tests on series aggregates pretty much cancels out the "timeless test" factor.

  • Alex on August 5, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    @Ananth: Cricinfo does not have stats on RpW across a series (by team 1 or team 2 or combined). If you have computed those then could you please post tables of it ... then it would be easy to identify true outliers by comparing a batsman's average etc. to the RpW etc. in that series.

    Malik's 557 in 3 vs first-rate Aussies of '95 was sensational (albeit on home soil). You have included it and I'd like to mention the following.

    1. Lloyd: 636 in 5 tests vs Ind, 1974 ... if Vishy's performance in this series got in then Lloyd's must.

    2. Walters: 699 in 5 tests vs WI, 1969. WI had a weak attack but Walters actually played only 4 tests in this series.

    3. S Waugh: 429 in 4 at ave=107 vs WI, 1995. [[ My hands are aching after 90 minutes of continuous typing. So will promise to look into these. Ananth: ]]

  • rizwan on August 5, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    India has been a huge disappointment in the on-going series against the Poms and may lose 4-0.But, if the matches were played on the dust bowls in India, the score line would be the same but in favour of India. So, the English fans should not get cocky and declare themselves as # 1. [[ No, Rizwan, you are wrong. First England has a lot of quality batsmen. So a high scoring draw might be one of the results in India. Do not begrudge them their place at the top. The same ICC Rankings system, flawed though it is, ranked India as no.1 and everyone accepted it. The same syatem ranks England no.1 and it should be accepted, certainly by Indians. In the last 4 years, the only overseas series won by India have been against Nzl, Win and Bng. They have not beaten Aus in Aus, Slk in Slk and Saf in Saf. For that matter they have not beaten Saf at all. I think the ICC Ranking system is faulty. It does not recognize opposition quality and the away nature of the contest. If England are not no.1 then India also does not deserve the no.1 position. Ananth: ]]

    Not many realise that the weather has more of an impact on Asian teams when they tour colder climes than the opposition bowlers or the state of the pitch. Perhaps this is why Gavaskar was more successful against the Windies pace attack rather than in England.

    Just as much as the Brits complain about dodgy curries, the heat and rank turners, Asian teams do not like the bland food, rain and cold weather and yes, the swinging deliveries in old blighty

  • rizwan on August 5, 2011, 0:47 GMT

    Ananth, You Sir are the Don Bradman of Cricket Statistics. [[ No, Rizwan. Call me the Dravid of .... That is enough. I feel my strength has been to deliver something reasonably good consistently. that is all. Ananth: ]]

    Its no surprise that the usual suspects, Bradman, Lara Viv Richards, Gavaskar and Dravid are up there on the totem pole.

    As a Sri Lankan ,I am disappointed that not a single Islander is on the list , justifiably so because none of the three modern greats like Mahela, Sangakkara or Arvinda have shown the sustained level of excellence of their contemporaries Dravid, Kallis and Lara. Speaking of Dravid, what more has Dravid got to do to get the love and adulation from the Indian fans? [[ Don't forget that Sri Lanka, even today, mostly gets 3-test series and often 2-test series. Even then Jayawardene (and now Jayasuriya, after Anand's correction) have been given honourable mention. Ananth: ]]

    I would like to make the case for Graeme Pollock’s 500+runs in Australia. Also if you consider the World Series Greg Chappell will be a shoo in for his excellent performance against some of the best fast bowlers ever.

    Re. Laver, he is to date, the only player to win the grand slam twice. But Federer (like Tendulkar) is such a nice guy off the court and therefore is rated higher. [[ And for his 16 GS titles and 21 SFs in a trot and 29 QFs in a trot (and counting) and ... Ananth: ]]

  • bbpp on August 4, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    Excellent analysis as usual! Sometime ago I think you did an article which showed that after Bradman (no question on that) the next best TEST batsman was Lara. Does that still stand? Clearly his ability to dominate shows in 7 series of 500+, a high number of big double centuries with a triple and quadruple and no game is quite over once he is batting. 6 not-outs shows his indifference to averages and if he had 20 plus not-outs like most of his peers and more tests against the Zimbabwe's and Bang.then his avg might be close to 60. [[ It is difficult to say whether that still hollds. But it does not matter. It might very well be that there are two Deputy-PMs !!! Ananth: ]]

  • arijit dasgupta on August 4, 2011, 20:23 GMT

    Smudge, thanks for your comment that "Lara at his best was better then Tendulkar at his -- but Tendulkar was near his best much more of the time". It's a belief I have held for the past 15 years but never had the courage to express except before a handful of close friends for fear of being lynched (because of the first part of the proposition). When I first saw Lara, I thought he would be the Kanhai/Vishy/ Mark Waugh/McCabe/Worrell type, ones who give pleasure but don't set records. Yet he not only scored the 375 and the 400, but also held the highest aggregate (11,953) for some time. Compare the other high aggregate scorers: Gavaskar, Border, Steve Waugh, Kallis, SRT, Ponting, Dravid --- all largely orthodox batsmen. Only Sobers was like him. Lara is like the maverick student who tops exams without swotting or taking tutorials. [[ What I am happy about in this article is the fact that unlike the usual series of comments there is an acceptance of the fact. No one is calling me names or worse Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 4, 2011, 19:40 GMT

    @Ananth: At the other end of the spectrum, note: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/284051.html .

    1. No one can challenge Amarnath's 1 in 6 which went out this solar system to talk to voyager. But Pankaj Roy's was an honest baby step: 54 runs in 7 innings vs Eng in 1952. A healthy average of 7.8 has comprehensively masked fully 5 ducks, including 4 on a trot, from this opener!!

    2. Like MEWaugh, SRT was a candidate for the raspberry but, sadly, he scored 8 runs in 2nd innings vs WI @Bridgetown in 2002. Else, he would have had 4 ducks on trot, liberally scored at 3 different grounds. He put together an equally impressive streak of combined 26 runs in 6 innings in '04 vs Pak & Aus ... and SMG maintains Sachin has never had a bad patch!

  • Anand on August 4, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    Ananth: Great article again. Just one correction. IN the list of batsmen scoring 500+ in a two test series, I think Jayasurya (571 vs India in 1997) should also be included. [[ Yes, I stand corrected. The 2-test series was moved manually by me and I seem to have missed this. Will correct in the article soon. In fact, Anand, there is no mistake in the accompanying downloadable file. This is there at the end of the 3-test table. Ananth: ]]

  • arijit dasgupta on August 4, 2011, 18:35 GMT

    Comparing consistency is one important criterion for evaluating excellence but not the only one. Another could be to compare how brilliant people were at their peak. An average performer will never reach sublime crests but a genius can hit troughs because of many factors including temperamental reasons. In case of surgeons and airline pilots we must seek consistency, for their mistakes can kill people. But sport is a little like art, isn't it? No one asks what the average quality of Herman Melville's novels was, Moby Dick alone is enough to make him great (this is not to insinuate that his other works were mediocre). [[ Well said. There is a malayalam director Sathyan Anthikkad, who, in his career, has never failed to give a good film. Every film of his is good but very few approach greatness. But we can see a new/old film of his with the confidence that it would be good. There are other directors who may produce a brilliant movie one day and something very ordinary another day. You want one, you will get the other. There is no Bradman-like figure who would produce 20 great films in 20 years. Thye nearest equivalent is Satyajit Ray. But we need both types of players and directors. Ananth: ]]

  • OpulentEmpire on August 4, 2011, 18:25 GMT

    (ctd.) The difference in the two RpW figures, however, has nothing to do with pitch quality by assumption, but instead is due entirely to the bowling lineups. However, a major innings in the first match will be credited with having a more difficult pitch IN ADDITION TO a more difficult bowling line upe than an identical innings in the second match.

    To me, pitch conditions are only relevant in batting so long as a bowling team knows how to use the conditions. A batsman can be playing on the stickiets of wickets, but if the bowlers only serve up long hops, it won't matter. And on the flattest of wickets, a Malcolm Marshall can take 14 for 100 odd. I would prefer not having a measure of pitch quality (which is very difficult to measure) and instead plave greater emphasis on bowling quality. Besides, the additional measure of support also accounts somewhat for the ease of scoring runs. If I have misunderstood your approach, my apologies.

    Looking forward to the remaining articles! [[ A tricky query. Let me answer in whatever manner possible. Please also look at the response given to Mark. 1. Bowling Quality is what the team faces. As of now it is based on Career-to-date information and will be improved with Home/Away and Recent form information. 2. This does not change because Marshall had a bad day or Shastri had a great day. They start and end with 20.95 and 40.96 respectively. 3. If Marshall's expectation is 5 for 75 on a normal wicket he may do 8 for 20 on a helpful wicket but no worse than 2 for 120 on a flat-track. Shastri would do much worse. 4. Irrespective of what the bowlers do I will not change the Bowling quality. That is the only way a great innings against Marshall, which might very well be the reason for the 2 for 120, will be recognized. 5. RpW is a post-match computation and hence is an actual one. It is used to determine Pitch type (a better term than Pitch quality). How easy or difficult was scoring. A 100 scored on a RpW-60 pitch has to be valued considerably lower than a 100 scored in a RpW-20 pitch. In the two examples I have given in response to Mark, contrast Dhoni's 90 and Laxman's 96. So there is no double counting. One is pre-match determination of quality. the other is a post-match determination of what happened. In fact as I am writing this I get the feeling that the range I have got for Pitch type (RpW based) which stands at 0.90 to 1.10 is not enough. It should be at least 0.80 to 1.20. Let me hear the views and maybe even redo the analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • OpulentEmpire on August 4, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    Hey Ananth

    Intriguing results, as always, though, I personally am looking forward to the corresponding information for bowlers with more enthusiasm. I have a question about your methodology. It appears to me that your weighting for Pitch Quality and Bowling Attack are correlated, and, therefore, that you are essentially "double counting" when it comes to the adversity facing a given innings. The problem, to me, comes from using Runs per Wicket (RpW) for the Match to measure pitch quality. Suppose that hypothetically two completely identical pitches were prepared at a ground for consecutive series. The first series was played against Richrards WI team of 1985. The second was played against NZL in 1930 (Or Bangla in the past decade, or any other team when they were synonymous with a poor quality bowling attack). The RpW for the match on the ground in the first series will be much lower than the corresponding RpW for the match on the ground on the second series. (to be ctd)

  • Ruchir on August 4, 2011, 17:43 GMT

    The 36/37 series Shrikanth mentions also had an unusual captaincy move by Bradman in the 3rd test which became the turning point for the series He almost reversed the batting order in the 2nd innings (OReilly opened and Bradman scored a double hundred from 6/7) [[ You might remember that that classic 270 was adjudged to be the best ever Test innings in the work jointly done by me and Wisden 10 years back. Ananth: ]]

    Having uncovered pitches provided a lot more uncertainty and twists and made batting much more difficult. People who say Bradman did not face quality bowling probably do not realize this

  • Boll on August 4, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    @imhotep... oh why bother. [[ Never have three words conveyed more feelings !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 4, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    @Ruchir: Jimmy was the best Indian batsman of fast bowling in 70's and 80's. This is what happened. Just before the WI series, Ind had a brief home series vs a depleted Pak attack. Amarnath played 2 innings in tests and failed in both, hit a match winning 60* in ODI, and then missed the 3rd test due to illness. He was not out of form: in fact, scored 94 in 3 innings in ODIs vs WI. But definitely buckled under the weight of expectations.

    His failure in tests was a more dramatic case of what happened with Greg Chappell in '81. It was no loss of form: WI just had a great strategy that took him out within first 10 balls ... its execution had started with Holding's ball that bowled Amarnath in WC '83 final itself (watch Holding's run-up to that delivery).

    Amarnath came back with bang within 10 months and did well everywhere for the next 3 yrs before running into WI again in Oct 1987. They packed (56 runs in 3 tests @ave=11) this gutsy 38-year old into retirement for good.

  • Boll on August 4, 2011, 17:29 GMT

    @Ananth. I may have been slightly critical about the choice of `feature photo` in some of your previous articles. No arguments at all about the `Master Blaster` gracing this one though. In the 30 plus years I`ve been watching test cricket (having not even witnessed his astonishing performance in England in 1976) I still regard Vivian Richards as the most devastating batsman I`ve seen. [[ I myself is blissfully ignorant. The photo is probably selected by Madhusudan or Rajesh of Cricinfo. Ananth: ]]

    His test average, at just over 50, in an era when 40 was the sign of an exceptional batsman, doesn`t do justice to how good he was. For a decade he was the benchmark for all batsman, and not without good reason honoured as one of Wisden`s 5 cricketers of the century.

    Quite apart from his test exploits, his 520 runs in 3 supertests for WSC World XI deserve mention here (as do G.Chappell`s 620 vs WI `78/79). Brilliant as Sachin has been as an ODI player, for mine IVA remains the greatest ODI batsman of all time by some margin. As for dominance in a series, there`s been Bradman and the rest.

  • Mark on August 4, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    I enjoyed reading this and, as a loose, unscientific analysis, it's got plausible results. However, one way to tweak it for accuracy is to discount the weights by relative series batting averages. So lots of runs scored in a series in which most batsmen didn't score many runs contributes more weight vs lots of runs scored in a series that, to use the term from another comment, a run glut. [[ This is certainly not loose and unscientific. Every analysis does not have to come out with the statistical jargon or derivations. Common sense and cricketing knowledge are ample substitutes for all but the statistically-driven folk. No problems. What you are suggesting is done based on a per-test basis rather than per-series basis. The later method would hide variations and get into the usual averaging problems. Let me give two actual examples, two tests from the same series. Saf-Ind 2010 Centurion: RpW is 46.7. So this is a run-friendly pitch. So a 100 will be adjusted to 98 or so. Durban: RpW is 18.5. A very bowler-friendly pitch. So a 100 will be adjusted to about 107 or so. Laxman's 96 will be valued at above 100. Instead of this if I do a series level averaging these two extremes will morph into a RpW value of 30 or so and hide the extremes. Pl also see the response given to OpulentEmpire. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 4, 2011, 16:59 GMT

    Ananth, in response to what swami has suggested, i will reiterate a comment i had offered in "batsmen across ages across bowler groups". You can directly compute the home and away averages CTD for each bowler. You can also compute the team 1st innings and team 2nd innings CTD for each bowler. By cross multiplying you will get a much more accurate innigs wise BQI and wont need to weight home / away batting runs. Once this is accomplished (i make it seem very easy, though it may be challenging, but let us hope not too challenging for you). [[ With my own proprietary database, my own programs, and as long as I can churn out a C program in 30 minutes, there is no analysis which I would say is impossible. This is not a self-patting statement but plain fact. My only problem is the availability of time and a suddenly acquired Tennis elbow, an ironical malaise for someone who has only played two sports in his life, Bridge and Chess. In addition to Home/Away figures the other relavant figure would be the performance in the previous 10 matches (overall since 10 home matches might take 5 years). We will get there, sometime in the near future. Ananth: ]]

  • Sreekanth on August 4, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    What about Sir Garry's 722 runs against England in 1966? Am fairly certain that it would get ranked as the greatest allround performance but wanted to know if he would make the batting list as well. [[ 722 moving up to 840.2 is something. This also goes in. Ananth: ]]

    About the infantile rantings of the commentary team that we are subjected to, Gavaskar always had this jingoistic streak bubbling under him. But now his comments are frankly nauseating.

  • shrikanthk on August 4, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    BTW Sachin and Bell average 136 and 158 resp. against Ban.,so imagine if they played long enuf against them and they were the only side available!!

    Well, if it were that simple, why are their First class averages so very similar to their overall test average?

    You might want reminding that nobody barring Bradman (95.14) has averaged over 72 in the 200 year old history of first-class cricket. Not even in England where FC cricket has always been a professional set up and thus serious business.

    There is no way one can explain this most remarkable anomaly in the history of ball games. It simply beggars belief. No wonder there is so much scepticism about the Don's acheivements. It is human nature to be jealous of perfection in a fellow human being.

  • swami on August 4, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    [[(Home/away weights are subjective). However there is no better solution on offer.]]

    One possibly better solution for determining weights is to examine the difference between home and away averages for top order batsmen over the relevant time period. For example, if you take a sample of 30-50 players from top six teams over past 10 years, and work out the mean drop in their away batting average compared to their home batting average (only against top 6 teams, for example), then you would get a good idea of how much to weight the home vs. away factor for that decade. Would also be interesting to compute this ratio decade-by-decade and see whether there are significant changes. [[ I had already referred to this in my response to Alex. Probably a different analysis is needed. Ananth: ]]

    BTW, a different measure of series dominance is to look at what % of the total series runs (by both teams) were scored by the player (possibly weighted by opportunity). Another simple but powerful measure is the ratio of player's series average to overall series Rpw. [[ Again a good idea. I have used the match RpW to do some weighting. A sereies level computation has a lot of relevance. Ananth: ]]

    Thanks for some great statistical work!

  • Tom on August 4, 2011, 16:16 GMT

    As you say at the start, these stats are based on volume of runs and don't take into account series averages (which would only be determined in this case by not outs) - I realise that this is a feature and not a bug. However I do have a couple of comments on which I'd be interested to hear your opinions.

    Firstly, do you find that the lists are dispropotionately populated by top-three players, since they will have longer to bat compared to their middle-order team-mates and therefore more opportunity to acquire runs? [[ Tom, what you say is very true. And it is true in cricket everywhere. In the Aggregate runs table, most of the batsmen are those who bat in 1-4 positions. Border/SWaugh/Gilchrist/Chanderpaul have managed to get into the top-20 of list. Ananth: ]]

    Do you think part of the bias towards earlier players (Hammond and Bradman in particular) is because some of these Tests were timeless and therefore innings were not declared? [[ After 1920, there were very few timeless tests. Ananth: ]]

    In line with my earlier Waugh/Taylor comparison, I wonder whether there are batsmen to whom the bowlers had no answer, but who didn't get time at the crease to amass enough runs to qualify. Ian Bell's recent series against Sri Lanka, for (an easy) example. [[ Bell still amassed 330 runs. A similar example is that of Adams against India in 1994 which has been mentioned by Ruchir. Adams amassed 540 runs at some ridiculous average. Important distinction is that Adams batted one place higher. Makes a big difference. Ananth: ]]

  • Regi Baptiste on August 4, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    Ananth, you continue to be a very fair analyst who is willing to give justice where it is due. I am not in anyway surprised that Tendulkar's name is no where among the elites in any of the 'NINE (9)' tables that you've presented to us in this excellent article. You see, to produce professional work at this level needs the brain of a genius and hard work which many of our so called cricketing experts surely are not and can't do. Hence, they do it the easy way - sit down and look at figures at face value, recognise just the quantifiable elements of them, then make unintellectual analyses and statements on empty bubbles, because we give them the authority to do so. For example, how could any intelligent minds sit down and select an 'All Time 11' in 'Test Cricket', in which Bradman was picked as the best batsman and leave out Brian Lara who is the only batsman who has challenged Bradman's exploits so far? It is clear that scientific procedure was unfortunately absent from that exercise [[ The funny thing is that every time I leave out Tendulkar from some analysis I am also intensely aware of his wonderful qualities. I can appreciate Lara and Tendulkar at the same time. However what I loathe is the modern tendency to belittle past greats to push up modern greats. I absolutely adore Federer. However I would not tolerate one negative word about Laver. If he did not have to turn pro for 6 years, he might very well have finished with 20+ Grand Slam titles. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 4, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    Anantha, I realize that whatever weights/biases you pick, it will not cover all cases but it seems to me that you don't have enough weightage for Bowling quality/Support from other batsmen. This seems to prop up performances with high run aggregrates in high run scoring series v/s moderate run aggegates in low scoring series

    For example Ricky Ponting's 700 odd in 4 matches against Ind. In the same series, Dravid scored more than 600, 3 other batsmen scored more than 400 and 3 more scored more than 300. The Indian bowling was ordinary except for Kumble(of cours Agarkar had 1 brilliant session). The Aus bowling was also ordianry and the pitches were quite batsman friendly

    Comapre it to Steve Waugh's 429 in WI. Only 1 other batsman scored more than 300 in the series. No other batsman on either side averaged more than 50. WI had Ambrose/Walsh

    I guess you could argue that in terms of sheer runs, the first one is better but not if you consider the other factors [[ I understand what you say. However this is a first attempt. To implement what you have suggested I would have to change my methodology completely. Now I am considering one test at a time. There I would have all the tests in a single series on my plate, consider the whole series at a composite fashion and evaluate the true value of 600 in a run-glut and 400 in a run-starved series. This has been done to some extent. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on August 4, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    Nice post!

    In my opinion, the greatest series performance by a batsman has to be Don Bradman in 1936-37.

    Firstly, he was the captain. Moreover, captaining for the first time!! Also allegedly faced an internal rebellion against him early on in the series.

    He lost the first two tests as captain on wet wickets. Didn't score too many runs either.

    Then, he single-handedly turned the tide with two double centuries and one century in the next three tests, thus enabling the greatest fightback by any side in test history!

    It wasn't a great time for him on the personal front either, with his newborn baby dying during the series.

    All this was achieved against a very good English side which included three very fine bowlers - Voce, Allen and Verity. Arguably the best attack he faced in his career. [[ You have presented a strong case. 810 runs adjusted to 916.7 and coming from behind is the stuff impossible dreams are made of. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 4, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    Amarnath's WI has to beat the Pak one hands down. By the time Amarnath scored his centuries in Pakistan, we were already finished, and beaten black and blue.

    In West Indies however, he was exceptional from the very beginning. [[ Has already been included. Ananth: ]]

  • Imhotep on August 4, 2011, 15:11 GMT

    Trying to guage the Bradman series in England 1930, the two main bowlers he faced seem to be Larwood and Tate, both decent bowlers but not classy enough to be compared to any of the 80's sides(Pak, WI, NZ).In my view Larwood was the Nanty Hayward of his day, quick but not good enough against the best,He averaged 34.5 in 16 tests before the bodyline series and Tate averaged 30 against Australia..My guess is that the overall bowling standards must have been really poor in the 20's 30's and mid 40's for batsmen like Bradman, Sutcliffe, Hammond making merry. To me Bradman seems like the biggest flat track bully ever, not exactly the greatest quality we would want in the greatest batsman ever.Also looking at India's 1st test in 1932 and ashes footage,it amazes me on how small the runups were...maybe thats why they could get through 120 overs/day.BTW Sachin and Bell average 136 and 158 resp. against Ban.,so imagine if they played long enuf against them and they were the only side available!! [[ This is the bane of today's followers. In your anxiety to pull down the past greats, you have equated the 1930s/40s attacks which boasted of Grimmett, O'Reilly, Verity, Tate, Larwood, Fltwd-Smith, Allen, Bedser, Voce, Johnston, Lindwall, Miller et al to the Bangladeshi attacks. I would appreciate no more mails of this type please. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 4, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    Actually I have always been puzzled by Amrnath's horror series at home against WI considering he was the best batsman against WI and PAK just a year earlier.

    I was too young to follow cricket around that time but was this pure rotten luck or was there an injury or something else?

    Maybe Anantha or someone else who followed cricket during that time has an idea [[ It was probably just bad luck and poor form. Or the extra zip in the West Indian bowling after what happened at Lord's a few months earlier. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 4, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    Jimmy Adams in India 94/95 520 runs in 3 matches.

    I think you should include lara's performance against AUS atleast in the reader's list. The fact that he had 2 great performances should not be held against him :) [[ I will keep both in the shortlist. Let me wait for a day. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 4, 2011, 14:32 GMT

    @Ananth: Nice article!

    1. I think home/away weights unduly reward a batsman scoring heaps of runs away on flat tracks & vice versa. Perhaps better to look at only the bowling strength for the series - you had a recent article on how to compute the bowling strength. It needs a revision though if the current Ind attack rates 34 on it: Harbhajan averages an atrocious 50 in England and that should be accounted for while computing the rating. [[ That has to be done independently. In this analysis the figures are only notional. As far as flat tracks are concerned do visiting batsmen just walk into India/Pakistan and start belting runs. Not really. Anyhow if they are really flat tracks, the RpW will take care of that. You must look at the other side. The away benefit is to reward the batsmen who go to countries like England, Sa, Australia, Nzl and score runs. I am 100% certain that the performance of batsmen, say on subcont-flat tracks, will show a minimum of 10% variance between home and visiting batsmen of comparable averages. That is not a bad idea for analysis. Ananth: ]]

    2. Worrell's 539 in 4 tests vs Eng (1950) must have been special. [[ England bowling was quite ordinary. Ananth: ]]

    3. It would be nice to have a list of the best 2-batsmen show-downs: E.g., in a 1954 5-test series, Walcott hit 697 and Hutton countered with 677. [[ Let me see. I have already mentioned one: Hendren & Headley. Ananth: ]]

    India's drubbing in Eng is a much needed wake-up call for the frogs in wells. Before 1990, no one really thought of any Indian player as the world's best. Special players emerged in the 16 year window since then ... Gambhir is the last of this lot and he is already 29.

  • Shyam on August 4, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    Back to the Don - Don Bradman played in 11 x 5 test series in his career. He played 52 of the 55 tests available to him.

    To pass 750 4 times and 500 7 times in 11 attempts is phenomenal, especially when you consider 8 of those series were against the other great team of his era (England), with all due respect to S.Af, W.Ind and India, who werent at their best in the 30s and 40s.

    And this includes the Bodyline series :).

    Im not saying he's the best ever but those are unbelieveable numbers. [[ Why would you shy away from saying he was and is the greatest. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 4, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    ponting's 515 (at home-3 test series) ag. strong SAF side in 2005-06

    Gooch's 480 (at home) ag. WI, 1991.

    Glenn Turner(NZ) ag WI-away, 1972. [[ Arjun Raise the bar. These are not epochal series, just very good ones. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 4, 2011, 13:47 GMT

    i hope i am not overloading this blog space with not good enough info to match its standard but how about kallis's runs in 2010 series against India. he scored almost 500 runs in 3 tests at extremely healthy avg.(he had 2 N.O. innings which also means Indian bowlers could not overpower him)..& his 2 centuries in last test were under severe physical pain which managed to save the 1st ever series for SA against India [[ Nitin Same reply that I am going to give Arjun. Raise the bar. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghu on August 4, 2011, 13:39 GMT

    yes, Sachin has never dominated a series [especially AWAY] like Lara or Dravid [until 2006]. but 1 thing which Sachin does perfectly is score atleast 1 century in every series , which takes care of 100's list & career avg.

  • Tom on August 4, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    [[In my selections, yes, I have a weakness for the olden days because of the complete uncertainties which existed. But tell me, other than the two Windies'greats'performances, which performance has really stirred up things. Cook's, no, Australian bowling was very poor. Ananth:]]

    My initial thought was of Steve Waugh's performance in the 1989 Ashes (especially in the context of the series, setting the tone for the rise of Australia over the next ten years), but when examining further I realised that he was only the fourth-highest run-scorer in the series! It goes to show the value of sticking to facts and not gut feel/memory.

    Taylor's performance in the same series, though, was very impressive and I'd be interested to know where it falls in the overall list. I imagine it lost a lot of points because of the good performances of other Australian batsmen, giving it a low %? [[ Taylor's 839 became 910.4, a healthy 9% increase. Jones'566 became 621.0 (10%). Waugh's 506 becomes 569.4 (13%). I woul;d find it difficult to push Steve's performance past Taylor's. Pl vote for Taylor !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 4, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    Hi Ananth

    how about the mercurial, top of the world performance, 569runs/7 innings, from still young Sanjay manjrekar against Pakistan in their own backyard against one of the best ever attack (Imran, wasim, waqar, abdul kadir)& eternally intangible effect/pressure of an Indo-Pak series. That was a saving grace for India at crucial times with Sunny retired & vengsarkar in his twilight.. [[ Arjun beat you to it by an hour or so. Will include. Ananth: ]]

  • Ruchir on August 4, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    Off the top pf my head, this is one great batting performance in recent years

    Lara against Aus in 98-99 4 matches 546 runs at 91. The bowling attack was Mcgrath, Gillespie, Warne(except the last test) and Macgill [[ 546 runs in 4 Test moving up to 632.6. A definite candidate. I did not select it only because I thought, as a personal effort, thye Slk one was ahead. Ananth: ]]

    Shastri is an embarassment. He said he would have been ruthless in the Bell incident. If only he had shown half the ruthlessness while he was batting/bowling...

  • Arjun on August 4, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    can't choose from Amarnath's efforts. In one series he was up against fearsome quatret and no limit bouncers, in another reverse swing plus two umpires. [[ Then I would choose the West indian effort especially seeing what happened after 6 months. Ananth: ]]

    non-indian performences....

    Of all the 2-test series performances i rate Jayawarene's 510 ag SAF very highly, much higher than Flower's 540 ag. INDIA. [[ It is already there. Ananth: ]]

    M Vaughan ag. AUS, away 2002-03. [[ That is a monster. After failing in the first test, Vaghan accumulated 633 and this has been pushed up to 770.1. Will get this in. Ananth: ]]

  • RANGArajan on August 4, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    Thanks for the response, Ananth. I also guess the modern lot has forgotten the art of playing test matches (or long innings) and that is probably the reason why post 2005 (or the year when T20 was introduced), we have very few entries post 2005(except Cook: Ashes 10-11).

    There is a pattern in all the names which featured (and some that didn't) - Ability to play long innings. This is lacking in the current IPL & CL generation. Across all countries - more so in India because we not only kill our own gold geese, but alspo others' (Malinga, Gayle, Bollinger).

    It is some indicator that Dravid is the only Indian (of the IPL generation) with 2 entries apart from SMG (both on expected lines).I have seen some gems from Lara. He used to be patient and take his time to settle and gives the bowler his due (once he scores 50, heavens stop him). These days no one is ready to do it as they are pretty obsessed with Strike rates.

    For Hayden to cut loose, even Aussies needed a Langer.

  • Abhishek Mukherjee on August 4, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    Awesome one, as usual. Just a question: Gavaskar's 774 comes under the five-test section, which means that you have considered the number of tests played in that series. Shouldn't the number of tests played by the player be a more accurate parameter instead? [[ I have mentioned right at the beginning that the Series was the main factor here. It is not "what runs were scored in 5/4/3 tests" but what runs were scored in a specifuied series. Ananth: ]] PS: Loved the way you ended your article. I wish I could express my feelings with such an economy of words. [[ Of course you can, if your heart is behind it. Ananth: ]]

  • Gaur on August 4, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    Tremendous analysis, as usual, Ananth!

    Amazing series numbers from the Don, Gavaskar and Lara! Lara's 688 series was additionally an absolute visual joy! As was Laxman's 2001 series vs Australia.

    From an Indian perspective, it again shows the massive Test cricket contributions of Gavaskar and Dravid. As for Tendulkar, I reckon he might have made this list if India had any 4, 5 or 6 Test series in 1998 or 2010... 2 of his best years. (In fact, I'm sure he has never played a 6 Test series. And only 1 or 2 5-Test series. A pity.) [[ Over the past 10 years there were many opportunities for a 5-test and 5-odi schedule. Many a time that would become 3/4-test and 7-odi. However pl see the number of people who have exceeded 500 runs in 4 tests (24), 3 tests (18) and 2 tests (4). Ananth: ]]

  • Vivek Unnikrishnan on August 4, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    Sir, A thought provoking analysis this surely was...very well done.And continuing upon the impending black hole facing Indian cricket after the Big Three retire..we have already seen how thread bare the bowling has become after Jumbo left the scene(Bhajji over the last 2 yrs has been plain pathetic and i think he knows it too). With a cricket administration like ours, I predict very bad days ahead.So enjoy the greatness while it lasts...all those especially in India who detract Tendulkar for scoring when it least matters(the most bizzare claim i have heard), Dravid for always having been too slow and VVS for his running between the wickets...wake up people..the reality that is going to sink in after they call its quits is very bleak...Hoping India come out all guns blazing for tests 3 and 4..A gut feeling tells me MSD might just pull out another bunny from his India cap yet...Cheers [[ Everyone is hoping the bunny is Sehwag. Will he start blazing from the first ball or will he be a damp squib. Ananth: ]]

  • Smudge on August 4, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    Interesting piece of analysis. The lack of SRT is surprising, but it does support my subjective view that Lara at his best was better then Tendulkar at his- but Tendulkar was near his best much more of the time.You have no doubt quantified that as well some time in the past! [[ Will probably do that in the future at the time when the said gentlemen looks up at the sky for the last time on a cricket field. But you have captured the fundamentals well. Ananth: ]]

    I don't know whether Bradman is a blessing or a nightmare for a cricket statastician, he is so atypical that he must skew every analysis. I'm also curious about the relationship between your multipliers 4 and 5. Did they generally opose each other (i.e. easy wickets leading to bigger totals thus smaller %s of total scored)? [[ Your point is valid. Unfortunately I did not keep track of the individual index values for a totalling and summarizing. That will make the program too complex. However it is probably true although there must be situations when one batsman has stood tall and he is rewarded. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on August 4, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    Few contenders for 'Readers's selection section'

    M Amarnath's 2 brave away series against WI and Pak, 1982-83. [[ Which do I choose. At this stage, I will allow only one. You choose and I will include. Fair deal. Ananth: ]]

    S Manjrekar's away series ag. Pak(very good bow. attack) in 1989. [[ 4 Tests, 569 runs moving up by 13% to 640.3. Very tempting. Well I dug my own grave by opening up the Readers'list. So have to face the music. Will include. Ananth: ]]

    S Tendulkar's 1999-2000 Aus series. (although runs aggregate is much less) [[ When I am not going to include Amarnath's other series and the senior Manjrekar's 1961 series, this has to take a back seat. Also let me get some non-Indian batsmen in. Ananth: ]]

  • basab ray on August 4, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    ananth. I feel you rate gavaskar higher than sachin. I also do that.

  • RANGArajan on August 4, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    Ananth, This is an excellent article and I like the logic behind weightage. While many supporters would crave for "Runs in winning cause", I appreciate the fact that absolute wins have not been used to rate the performances. Yes, it has been factored indirectly in all those factors mentioned (like exclusion of dead rubber, etc). Test matches are WON by bowlers and SET UP by batsmen (it is debatable, but unlike ODIs, you MUST take 20 wickets to win a test match).

    And regarding bygone eras featuring more, of late, apart from ashes we do not see 5 test series at all. There is nothing more thrilling than a test match where someone gets hit on all parts of the body, scores 137 from 439 balls and saves his team a test and a series - this is not a winning cause but the conditions and difficulties would be factored in the other weights that you have assigned. [[ Ranga Take the two Tests we have lost recently. First the second Test. Ironically, we were ahead at the end of the second day at Trent Bridge. But one day of the Australian-200x type of mayhem on the third day completely turned the tables and we were hopelessly lost at the beginning of the third day. That we lost on the fourth day is a different story. On the other hand, in the first Test, even though we were nearly 200 runs behind in the first innings, we were in with a great chance to save the match on the fifth day because the weather consumed quite a few hours.. But we lost. What we did not see was the type of innings you are talking about. Atherton/Gambhir/Gillespie/Amla(almost) were the examples of what we needed. What are we going to do in 3 years. Ananth: ]]

    Would love to have 5-6 3 day warm up matches 5 test 3 ODI 2 T20 matches series again!!!

  • Ajinkya on August 4, 2011, 11:08 GMT

    I feel that the reason Tendulkar hasn't had a few immense series is that he is a player who has played several great innings over his lifetime, but they are spread out over 21 years. His gems tend to come one at a time, not in a flood like Lara's great innings.

  • Raj Balakrishnan on August 4, 2011, 10:54 GMT

    Excellent article Ananth. Just one point though, IMHO Gavaskar's 732 against WI deserves to be ranked higher than Gower's similar socre against Australia. WI were the dominant side in the 70s and 80s, whereas Australia were a poor side in 1985. [[ Gavaskar's was at home against a Packer-hit average West indian side sans Holding, Garner, Roberts, Croft. Gower's was also at home against a good Australian side having Lawson, McDermott and Thomson. Ananth: ]]

  • Salem Shankar on August 4, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Ananth-It is a very fair evaluation. But I am disappointed at noninclusion of G.R.Vishwanath's sterling performance against WI Roberts & co in five match series in 1974-75-His aggregate was more than 550 runs including match winning century at Calcutta and memorable 97 not out at Madras to level the series 2-2 before India succumbing in the last Bombay test where he made 95--Remmber in three tests we played without Gavaskar , Vishy waging a lone battle I wish you resubmit the analysis with this deserving addition. [[ Okay, you have convinced me. Not to include this series but start my very popular Readers' selections section. The first entry there will be Viswanath's magnificant effiort: 568 runs 1.05 wt 593.6 adj runs. Thanks, Shanker Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 4, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    It is a great article indeed. would also love to see the similar kind of analysis (dominating batsmen & bowlers)in the ODI cricket tournament & bilateral series (though in my opinion 3 match bilateral series should not be included), would be interesting to look Greg chappel heroics in 1984 or mark waugh in traingular series in australia or never to forget sachin in WCs [[ ODI Series never have the charisma and character of the Test series, probably because there were too many meaningless bi-lateral series and many series were too long. Re World Cups, I have done extensive work on this a few months before. Ananth: ]]

  • Salman Ali Rai on August 4, 2011, 9:55 GMT

    While determining the quality of bowling attacks, how have you differentiated between a better attack and a weaker one? Does the better bowling attack includes bowlers with more number of wickets or the bowlers suited to that particular type of pitch? For instance tha Pakistani team that toured UK last summer had bowlers which were more suited to the conditions but were highly inexperienced and the current Indian bowling attack which is high on experience but probably not so much talented in exploiting the conditions well. So according to you, which of these attacks would be a strong attack and which one is weak? [[ What I have used is the tried-and-tested index based on the bowlers who bowled in the innings and based on their career-to-date numbers. Last season's Pak attack was around 35 (fair one). The current Indian attack is around 34 (Harbhajan's on-field showing completely belying his excellent numbers). Ananth: ]]

  • Pawan Mathur on August 4, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    if you lower the bar to include two test match series too, then Andy flower's two performances surely deserve to make the cut 1) 2000 vs India, 540 runs @270.00 avg 2) 2001-02 vs South Africa 422@211 avg. [[ I already have included the 4 series in which the batsmen exceeded 500 runs. I could easily incorporate these four in the main table itself. But that is not necessary. Ananth: ]]

    And as regard the last comment, it is surprising that Shastri and Gavaskar have been so critical but on contrary, they dare not criticise the ill effects of IPL even indirectly. Even a layman can understand where Sehwag's, Gambhir's and Zak's injury started. and finally, i do not have problems with tendulkar's exclusion, but i predict that atleast 70 per cent of the comments will be focusing on him rather than the article. [[ I fear for Indian cricket. The commercial takeover of the game, the Srinivasan-raj, the omni-present conflict of interest situations, the virtual retro-colonizing of the game, and finally the media circus.. However the most important fact is the impending retirement of cricketers who would be most difficult to replace on grounds of cricketing skills but impossible on grounds of commitment, fitness, putting team/game before self and their ability to give importance to Test cricket and end with impeccable career. Have Tendulkar/Dravid/Laxman once sent a dismissed batsman off or engaged in an on-field duel or shown dissent even when decisions have gone against them. I may break down when I see the last ball bowled to the last of these three. Not only I, but all should fear for Indian cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • Harshad on August 4, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    Nice Article,Shows Bradman's dominance as a batsman even at 21, Also shows Tendulkar's consistency over 21 years and the reason why He is the constant in the comparison for best batsman while others change. Lara when he plays well is sure to get a few and in style. Gavaskar's 6 series dominance is crazy good, It would be interesting to know the number of matches he saved. All in all nice to know the list. Thank You

  • Binu Thomas on August 4, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    While I don't want to turn this article into another 'twisted-by-sachin-fans-or-haters-article', I just want to make a point: The fact that he doesn't have any Everest-like series lends more credibility to his average. If he can pull off a couple of series like Lara did, that average is going to touch 60, which will be a differentiator between him and his close contemporaries and will place him right behind Bradman undoubtedly. [[ Binu, the contra-side is that if Tendulkar had the typical up-and-down career, he might be languishing in the Vengsarkar-Vishwanath average levels of 45. So it works both ways. If I were a captain, I would always have a mix of the 100-0 guys and 50-50 guys. Both are essential and invaluable. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 4, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    @Hamid...and first comment too. Priceless.

  • Salman Ali Rai on August 4, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    A well composed analysis Ananth though I would have loved to see you include the factor of "danger while batting" as well. Cricket off late has been played with the batsmen fully padded up wearing helmets, chest guards, pads, cups, arm guards. Plus the wickets have gone far more batting friendly all over the world in comparison to may be 20-30 years ago. At that time the under cooked pitches together with the non availability of helmets and chest guards provided a more tougher challenge for the batsmen as compared to what we see today. So in my opinion you should have given more credit to batsmen who were around before 1980's as they were at risk of getting seriously injured while batting. Anyways your effort is highly appreciated :) [[ I think the idea should be that discerning readers should apply this factor in their own subjective manner while considering performances. One reason why I place Gavaskar quite high. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 4, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    @Ananth. First of all, thanks for giving us the heads up about when this article was appearing. Secondly, and it pains me to mention this about one of my favourite batsmen of all-time, but surely Mark Waugh`s double pair in consecutive tests against SL in the early 90`s deserves a mention in the `other end of the performance spectrum` section. Apparently his team-mates started referring to him as `Audi`. [[ Let me see although it would pierce a dagger into my heart since Mark is one of my all-time favourite batsmen also. Ananth: ]]

  • Mustafa Pasha on August 4, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Great article Anantha,

    You do seem to favor performances from ze olden days over more recent ones. Other than the fact that pitches are flatter and the bowling is weaker, do you think the absence of 5 test match series (excluding the Ashes) plays a part in this? [[ In my selections, yes, I have a weakness for the olden days because of the complete uncertainties which existed. But tell me, other than the two Windies'greats'performances, which performance has really stirred up things. Cook's, no, Australian bowling was very poor. Ananth: ]]

    Also it would be interesting if you could divide the performances by era. I would be interested in seeing your top 5 from the last 25 years or so.

    You hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph. Im from Pakistan and I have new found respect for Dhoni after his recall of Ian Bell regardless of what people say about Bell's stupidity and the laws of the game.

    And what the hell is wrong with Ravi Shastri these days? He looks burnt out and seems really angry for some reason. All that bitterness seems to rub off on Gavaskar too. Its funny though to see how uncomfortable Harsha Bhogle gets when the ranting begins! [[ The one thing I hate most is Shastri's thinking-that-he-is-god pronounciations. It was nauseating to see how many times he said "Bell would be in the pavilion having his coffee"or Ï would have sent him for an early tea"etc. Yes, your point on Harsh is well-made. Often he looks palpably uncomfoertable. Ananth: ]]

  • Tom on August 4, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    Actually it is the other way around. Batsmen who score runs in bulk but don't have higher averages aren't as consistent. It shows that when they get on a run, they make it count. They also have more poor series obviously. Otherwise they'd all have an average like Bradman and not in the low 50s. [[ Yes, Tom. Please see my response to the previous comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 4, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    Sachin has never made more than 500 in a series with best of 493 against aussies in 2007-08 away series. That reflects his sheer consistency with which he has played in his glorious career of 178 test matches that despite of not having abnormally wonderful few series, he still has extremely respectable average at home & away matches. Nothing to take from Lara (please read:- for me he is equally great if not better)his 2 series in England (with 2 scores of 375 & 400 in 1 inning) & 1 in SL, he has been a bit more inconsistent. [[ Yes, that is true. Consistency is Tendulkar's forte. Three innings by Lara together come to 1050 runs. So he has out-perfored his average in these three innings by a small matter of 300 runs each. That has to be made up in the form of many very low innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Ayush Kumar on August 4, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    Actually Tendulkar's absence is not surprising at all. While he has played innumerable gems, I don't actually remember him taking a series by the scruff of the neck and dominating it throughout. Dravid's presence (twice) is testament to his consistency. Wonderful list, and great food for thought! [[ I appreciate your comment since you have made it very nicely without in any way pulling down the great master. Many thanks. While on Indian batsmen, look at the way Gavaskar has managed to dominate series (6 times exceeding 500 runs) during a period of great fast bowling and poor Indian support. I loved Gavaskar as a batsman, but as a Captain, writer and broadcaster, he has slipped down a lot. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 4, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    Bravo...Ananth, why is Zed at 1.01 weightage and Javed Miandad 0.93 for the same series against India? Also Dravid getting a higher weightage for his 2003 OZ performances (in which the entire series was a run glut) than Laxman for OZ 2001 (which was not a run glut), when the latter faced exceptionally high standard bowling is a bit puzzling. The position at which one comes in to bat is not a factor in your analysis.Is the home / away such a strong influence? [[ Will answer later after perusing data. Main reason was that Javed's 280 was scored in a test in which the Indian bowling was quite low (nearing 50) while Zaheer's two centuries, especially 215, were scored in matches where India had a much better bowling attack. Re RD/VVS, 10% differential for home/away is quite substantial. Even then Laxman gets 1.10 and Dravid 1.15 which means Laxman has made up 5% of the differential already. Ananth: ]]

    Lastly, where would Amarnath (1982-83) and Allan Border (1983-84) feature on the weighted runs for their West Indies away series batting? Would they not come in the top 10 if 5 test totals are sorted by weighted runs instead of 750 nominal runs as cut -off? [[ Amarnath's 598 has moved up to 718.6 but is still not enough to breach the top-10 of the 5-test table since there are 10 800+ runs performances. However there is every chance of Border's 6-test performance miving into the top-10 in view of the paucity of great performances in these. I wanted the base tables to be based on raw runs scored. Anyhow the tables are available for downloading, exporting into Excel and arriving at your own conclusions which can then be forwarded. Ananth: ]]

  • Hamid on August 4, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    No Tendulkar in the list. Surprising!!! [[ If you are a regular reader in this blog, it would not have surprised you since this blog sticks to facts and not hyperboles. Where credit is due, it is given, irrespective of the country of the player. Ananth: ]]

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  • Hamid on August 4, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    No Tendulkar in the list. Surprising!!! [[ If you are a regular reader in this blog, it would not have surprised you since this blog sticks to facts and not hyperboles. Where credit is due, it is given, irrespective of the country of the player. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on August 4, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    Bravo...Ananth, why is Zed at 1.01 weightage and Javed Miandad 0.93 for the same series against India? Also Dravid getting a higher weightage for his 2003 OZ performances (in which the entire series was a run glut) than Laxman for OZ 2001 (which was not a run glut), when the latter faced exceptionally high standard bowling is a bit puzzling. The position at which one comes in to bat is not a factor in your analysis.Is the home / away such a strong influence? [[ Will answer later after perusing data. Main reason was that Javed's 280 was scored in a test in which the Indian bowling was quite low (nearing 50) while Zaheer's two centuries, especially 215, were scored in matches where India had a much better bowling attack. Re RD/VVS, 10% differential for home/away is quite substantial. Even then Laxman gets 1.10 and Dravid 1.15 which means Laxman has made up 5% of the differential already. Ananth: ]]

    Lastly, where would Amarnath (1982-83) and Allan Border (1983-84) feature on the weighted runs for their West Indies away series batting? Would they not come in the top 10 if 5 test totals are sorted by weighted runs instead of 750 nominal runs as cut -off? [[ Amarnath's 598 has moved up to 718.6 but is still not enough to breach the top-10 of the 5-test table since there are 10 800+ runs performances. However there is every chance of Border's 6-test performance miving into the top-10 in view of the paucity of great performances in these. I wanted the base tables to be based on raw runs scored. Anyhow the tables are available for downloading, exporting into Excel and arriving at your own conclusions which can then be forwarded. Ananth: ]]

  • Ayush Kumar on August 4, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    Actually Tendulkar's absence is not surprising at all. While he has played innumerable gems, I don't actually remember him taking a series by the scruff of the neck and dominating it throughout. Dravid's presence (twice) is testament to his consistency. Wonderful list, and great food for thought! [[ I appreciate your comment since you have made it very nicely without in any way pulling down the great master. Many thanks. While on Indian batsmen, look at the way Gavaskar has managed to dominate series (6 times exceeding 500 runs) during a period of great fast bowling and poor Indian support. I loved Gavaskar as a batsman, but as a Captain, writer and broadcaster, he has slipped down a lot. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on August 4, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    Sachin has never made more than 500 in a series with best of 493 against aussies in 2007-08 away series. That reflects his sheer consistency with which he has played in his glorious career of 178 test matches that despite of not having abnormally wonderful few series, he still has extremely respectable average at home & away matches. Nothing to take from Lara (please read:- for me he is equally great if not better)his 2 series in England (with 2 scores of 375 & 400 in 1 inning) & 1 in SL, he has been a bit more inconsistent. [[ Yes, that is true. Consistency is Tendulkar's forte. Three innings by Lara together come to 1050 runs. So he has out-perfored his average in these three innings by a small matter of 300 runs each. That has to be made up in the form of many very low innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Tom on August 4, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    Actually it is the other way around. Batsmen who score runs in bulk but don't have higher averages aren't as consistent. It shows that when they get on a run, they make it count. They also have more poor series obviously. Otherwise they'd all have an average like Bradman and not in the low 50s. [[ Yes, Tom. Please see my response to the previous comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Mustafa Pasha on August 4, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Great article Anantha,

    You do seem to favor performances from ze olden days over more recent ones. Other than the fact that pitches are flatter and the bowling is weaker, do you think the absence of 5 test match series (excluding the Ashes) plays a part in this? [[ In my selections, yes, I have a weakness for the olden days because of the complete uncertainties which existed. But tell me, other than the two Windies'greats'performances, which performance has really stirred up things. Cook's, no, Australian bowling was very poor. Ananth: ]]

    Also it would be interesting if you could divide the performances by era. I would be interested in seeing your top 5 from the last 25 years or so.

    You hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph. Im from Pakistan and I have new found respect for Dhoni after his recall of Ian Bell regardless of what people say about Bell's stupidity and the laws of the game.

    And what the hell is wrong with Ravi Shastri these days? He looks burnt out and seems really angry for some reason. All that bitterness seems to rub off on Gavaskar too. Its funny though to see how uncomfortable Harsha Bhogle gets when the ranting begins! [[ The one thing I hate most is Shastri's thinking-that-he-is-god pronounciations. It was nauseating to see how many times he said "Bell would be in the pavilion having his coffee"or Ï would have sent him for an early tea"etc. Yes, your point on Harsh is well-made. Often he looks palpably uncomfoertable. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 4, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    @Ananth. First of all, thanks for giving us the heads up about when this article was appearing. Secondly, and it pains me to mention this about one of my favourite batsmen of all-time, but surely Mark Waugh`s double pair in consecutive tests against SL in the early 90`s deserves a mention in the `other end of the performance spectrum` section. Apparently his team-mates started referring to him as `Audi`. [[ Let me see although it would pierce a dagger into my heart since Mark is one of my all-time favourite batsmen also. Ananth: ]]

  • Salman Ali Rai on August 4, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    A well composed analysis Ananth though I would have loved to see you include the factor of "danger while batting" as well. Cricket off late has been played with the batsmen fully padded up wearing helmets, chest guards, pads, cups, arm guards. Plus the wickets have gone far more batting friendly all over the world in comparison to may be 20-30 years ago. At that time the under cooked pitches together with the non availability of helmets and chest guards provided a more tougher challenge for the batsmen as compared to what we see today. So in my opinion you should have given more credit to batsmen who were around before 1980's as they were at risk of getting seriously injured while batting. Anyways your effort is highly appreciated :) [[ I think the idea should be that discerning readers should apply this factor in their own subjective manner while considering performances. One reason why I place Gavaskar quite high. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on August 4, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    @Hamid...and first comment too. Priceless.

  • Binu Thomas on August 4, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    While I don't want to turn this article into another 'twisted-by-sachin-fans-or-haters-article', I just want to make a point: The fact that he doesn't have any Everest-like series lends more credibility to his average. If he can pull off a couple of series like Lara did, that average is going to touch 60, which will be a differentiator between him and his close contemporaries and will place him right behind Bradman undoubtedly. [[ Binu, the contra-side is that if Tendulkar had the typical up-and-down career, he might be languishing in the Vengsarkar-Vishwanath average levels of 45. So it works both ways. If I were a captain, I would always have a mix of the 100-0 guys and 50-50 guys. Both are essential and invaluable. Ananth: ]]