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January 17, 2012

Batsman analysis by bowler-pitch quality - part one

Anantha Narayanan
Kim Hughes has scored 88% of his career runs in tough batting conditions  © Getty Images
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Finally the time has come for me to complete the analysis of batsmen by two important factors, Bowler quality and Pitch quality. This exercise was started about 7 months back and has moved on wonderfully well with meaningful insights from many readers. In my earlier two articles I had covered the BQI and RSI ("Runs scored index": revised name for Pitch quality) methodologies. As has happened quite frequently lately, the article, with over 10 tables and 4 graphs, has become very long and I necessarily have to split it into two articles.

The tables are current up to and including match # 2029. This was totally unexpected and was made possible since the Perth non-contest finished within 45% of the allotted time. One could say India lost by an innings, 37 runs and 250 overs.

BQI is a pre-match estimate of the bowling quality expected, based on the career-to-date home/away averages, he location of the Test and the recent form of players. There is a provision to handle the early Tests of top bowlers. The final grouping is given below.


15.0 - 27.0: Group 5 - 998 (13.7%) Amongst the best of all time 27.0 - 32.0: Group 4 - 1675 (22.6%) A very good attack 32.0 - 38.0: Group 3 - 2111 (28.5%) Good attack 38.0 - 45.0: Group 2 - 1596 (21.5%) Below average 45.0 - 60.0: Group 1 - 953 (13.7%) A poor attack

RSI is a post-match determination of the ease of scoring in the Test. This is done by considering the top-10 scores and determining the Runs per innings. The final grouping is given below. This has been slightly modified from the previous article. The lower limit was raised and the upper limit was lowered since otherwise there were too few matches in these end categories.


Below 45.0: Group 5 - 224 (11.0%) A nightmare for the batsmen 45.0 - 55.0: Group 4 - 330 (16.3%) Quite difficult to bat on 55.0 - 67.5: Group 3 - 516 (25.4%) Good pitch - favouring bowlers 67.5 - 80.0: Group 2 - 499 (24.1%) Good pitch - favouring batsmen 80.0 - 90.0: Group 1 - 269 (13.3%) A high-scoring pitch. Above 90.0 : Group 0 - 200 ( 9.9%) Where the bowlers are cannon-fodder.

To determine the impact of the bowling quality and the pitch quality, my first idea was to add the two values and determine groups based on that. Both measures are indicative of runs. However that was a non-starter since the range of RSI values was much wider and it was not a normal distribution unlike the BQI values which were normally distributed. BQI is a traditional average (Runs per wicket) while RSI consists of the average of the top-10 values. Adding these two resulted in a lopsided distribution and proper grouping was impossible.

Hence I finalized on adding the two group values. Here there were no such problems. The ranges were similar and there was no lopsided distribution. This method takes care of close matches between well-matched teams as also lop-sided matches such as between Australia and Zimbabwe or currently Australia and India. The extreme groups are exactly what they are portrayed as: impossible to bat on or impossible to bowl on. Let us briefly look at the numbers derived by adding the same.


10 / 9 : At least one 5. Nothing below 4. A batsman's nightmare. 8 / 7 : At least one 4. Nothing below 2. A bowler dominated pitch. 6 / 5 : 1 or 0 means a 5 comes in. 3 is a key number either way.
Fair to batsmen and bowlers. 4 / 3 : Max BQI is 4 and max RSI is 3. Possibly formed with 1s/2s.
Strongly batsman-dominant pitch. 2 / 1 : Either 2 & 0 or 1 & 1 or 1 and 0. A bowler's graveyard.
The final BPI groups are outlined below.

10 - 156 9 - 404 Group total: 560 ( 7.6%) PLATINUM group. Scoring runs is extremely tough. 8 - 702 7 - 1115 Group total: 1817 (24.8%) GOLD group. Scoring runs is very difficult. 6 - 1416 5 - 1345 Group total: 2761 (37.6%) SILVER group. Possible to score runs, but lot of application called for. 4 - 1090 3 - 707 Group total: 1797 (24.5%) BRONZE group. Scoring runs is very easy. 2 - 315 1 - 86 Group total: 401 ( 5.5%) TIN group. Free runs served on the buffet table.

It should be understood that this analysis has some inherent features, outlined below.

1. This analysis takes into account Bowling and Pitch qualities, which form one cornerstone of an Innings Ratings analysis. As such the match-specific factors such as match status, innings status, position at entry, result, support received, management of late-order batsmen et al are not considered.

2. It will favour batsmen coming from bowler-dominated countries like New Zealand, England.

3. The sub-continent batsmen will lose some of their sheen.

4. High individual scores will almost always be associated with high RSI values. Hence these scores are likely to be valued less. It is possible that this could be compensated partly by the bowling quality. For instance Laxman's classic of 281 has a RSI of 0 but a BQI of 4. Similar numbers for Sehwag's 319. Jayasuriya's 340 has 0 and 1. Clarke's 329 has 0 and 2. On the other hand, Hammond's 336 has 3 and 1. And so on. Warner's 180 gets a 4 and 2 (the Indian attack quite average).

5. The purpose of the analysis is to look a new dimension of batting (i-e) from the Bowling and Pitch points of view. There is no intention to put down certain players. Please do not come out with such comments. These will not be recognized.

Incidentally I consider these three groups, viz., Platinum, Gold and Silver as the tough and challenging conditions. These comprise of 6 BPI groups and represent 61.3% of the total runs. There might be fluctuations within these groups. However runs scored in these conditions should be accorded the tough-runs category. Later in this article I will do an analysis based on the runs scored in these three challenging conditions.

Now for a different summary. This table summarizes the group runs for the subset of 266 batsmen selected for this analysis. The cut-off is 2000 Test runs. This sample size is very significant and represents about 60% of the total runs scored.


PLATINUM group: 45228 runs ( 3.9%) GOLD group: 220331 runs (19.2%) SILVER group: 438904 runs (38.2%) Tough groups: 704463 runs (61.3%) BRONZE group: 350118 runs (30.5%) TIN group: 93731 runs ( 8.6%) Easier groups: 443849 runs (38.7%) Total: 1148312 runs (100.0%)

Player Group wise distribution table

BatsmanCtyCareerPlatinum(10-9)Gold(8-7)Silver(6-5)ToughGrpsBronze(4-3)Tin(2-1)EasyGrps
  RunsRuns%Runs%Runs%Runs%Runs%Runs%Runs%
                 
TendulkarInd15432 408 2.6175011.3488031.6703845.6654242.4185212.0839454.4
DravidInd13262 322 2.4179713.5413331.2625247.1572043.11290 9.7701052.9
PontingAus12915 254 2.0 989 7.7550942.7675252.3475336.8141010.9616347.7
KallisSaf12260 99 0.8217917.8460237.5688056.1339427.7198616.2538043.9
LaraWin11953 563 4.7282923.7398533.3737761.7422435.3 352 2.9457638.3
BorderAus11174 470 4.2228620.5462441.4738066.0324229.0 552 4.9379434.0
Waugh S.RAus10927 373 3.4167715.3460542.1665560.9347231.8 800 7.3427239.1
GavaskarInd10122 395 3.9203120.1399439.5642063.4277927.5 923 9.1370236.6
JayawardeneSlk10089 213 2.1130112.9352634.9504050.0378037.5126912.6504950.0
ChanderpaulWin 9709 478 4.9195920.2366337.7610062.8273628.2 873 9.0360937.2
SangakkaraSlk 9347 36 0.4125513.4372939.9502053.7301432.2131314.0432746.3
GoochEng 8900 676 7.6279531.4307734.6654873.6181120.3 541 6.1235226.4
J MiandadPak 8832 270 3.1228225.8286032.4541261.3253828.7 88210.0342038.7
InzamamPak 8830 169 1.9132215.0358440.6507557.5358040.5 175 2.0375542.5
LaxmanInd 8728 384 4.4107012.3254129.1399545.8353340.5120013.7473354.2
HaydenAus 8626 253 2.9 803 9.3328138.0433750.3297734.5131215.2428949.7
RichardsWin 8540 425 5.0214525.1446052.2703082.3137116.1 139 1.6151017.7
StewartEng 8465 729 8.6257330.4326438.6656677.6161119.0 288 3.4189922.4
GowerEng 8231 313 3.8220826.8336440.9588571.5221126.9 135 1.6234628.5
BoycottEng 8114 272 3.4151518.7403249.7581971.7211726.1 178 2.2229528.3
SehwagInd 8098 148 1.8 761 9.4181022.4271933.6382447.2155519.2537966.4
SobersWin 8032 114 1.4111513.9399549.7522465.0235829.4 450 5.6280835.0
Waugh M.EAus 8029 220 2.7172021.4347843.3541867.5235629.3 255 3.2261132.5
Smith G.CSaf 7761 0 0.0 96612.4270234.8366847.3320441.3 88911.5409352.7
AthertonEng 7728 527 6.8271035.1309840.1633582.0114614.8 247 3.2139318.0
                 
HammondEng 7249 31 0.4 322 4.4159522.0194826.9312243.1217930.1530173.1
FlemingNzl 7172 328 4.6113815.9362350.5508971.0198627.7 97 1.4208329.0
BradmanAus 6996 0 0.0 71610.2220731.5292341.8299842.9107515.4407358.2
HuttonEng 6971 533 7.6 86212.4194827.9334348.0193427.7169424.3362852.0
MayEng 4537 54412.0180639.8129328.5364380.3 60513.3 289 6.4 89419.7
Flower AZim 4794 354 7.4 78116.3150331.4263855.0161633.7 54011.3215645.0
H BasharBng 3026 207 6.8 58019.2113937.6192663.6110036.4 0 0.0110036.4

The table is self-explanatory. The table consists of the top-25 batsman, by aggregate of runs and five special selections. Bradman and Hammond represent the pre-WW2 era, Hutton and May, the 1950s-60s and Fleming, New Zealand. There is a case for Martin Crowe's inclusion but 1700 runs was too much to ignore. Andy Flower and Habibul Basher represent Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.The complete Excel sheet containing the group-wise breakdown for the qualifying 266 batsmen can be downloaded and perused.

Graph of career runs ordered by runs scored against tough and easy groups © Anantha Narayanan

This graph splits the batsman career runs by the tougher groups (10-5) and easier groups (4-1). Since the overall average for the tough groups runs is around 60%, it is fair to assume that a tough group runs % of above 50 should be acceptable. The Indian quartet of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag are all below 50%. As does Graeme Smith. However it can be seen that both the pre-WW2 stalwarts, Bradman and Hammond are also below 50%. In fact Hammond's 26.9% is the lowest, by a wide margin, amongst all established players. Let us spare a moment for Peter May whose tough-runs % is in excess of 80, amongst the highest in this group.

Graph of percentage of career runs scored against tough groups © Anantha Narayanan

In this graph, I have shown the batsmen, at the top and bottom of the ladder of tough-groups run %. The very much under-rated Australian batsman, Kim Hughes, leads the table having scored an amazing 88% of his runs in these tough conditions. Spare a moment to recognize this achievement. Ian Botham, again under-rated as a batsmen, has also scored 88% of his runs in tough conditions. Warne might have got his measure, but Cullinan was no bunny, coming in third with 82.8%. Richards is a surprise placement at fourth ad Atherton in the fifth position. The top 20 positions has no current player. The nearest we get to a modern player is Graham Thorpe (and Nasser Hussain). The best India batsman is Viswanath, with 77.7%. For these graphs I have considered only batsmen who have scored 4000 or more runs.

At the other end, we have the Indian stalwarts, Laxman, Tendulkar and Sehwag. Bradman and Sutcliffe are also in the bottom 10. Hammond props up the table with 26.9%.

Platinum Group (Groups 9 and 10) tables

BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
Harvey R.N Aus 6149 91314.8
May P.B.H Eng 4537 54412.0
Lamb A.J Eng 4656 47110.1
Smith R.A Eng 4236 399 9.4
Hughes K.J Aus 4415 397 9.0
Stewart A.J Eng 8465 729 8.6
Richardson R.B Win 5949 472 7.9
Knott A.P.E Eng 4389 339 7.7
Botham I.T Eng 5200 402 7.7
Hooper C.L Win 5762 443 7.7
BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
Harvey R.N Aus 6149 91314.8
Stewart A.J Eng 8465 729 8.6
Gooch G.A Eng 8900 676 7.6
Lara B.C Win11953 563 4.7
May P.B.H Eng 4537 54412.0
Hutton L Eng 6971 533 7.6
Atherton M.A Eng 7728 527 6.8
Cowdrey M.C Eng 7624 519 6.8
Thorpe G.P Eng 6744 510 7.6
Chanderpaul S Win 9709 478 4.9

The presence of Harvey and May in the top two positions in the % of career runs indicates that run scoring during the 1950s-60s was tough and these runs should mean more. The list then moves to the 80s-90s. Almost all the later players are from this period. I am almost certain that no one from this list of top-10 would get into any list of top-10 batsmen. But the lowest placed batsman on this has scored more than 7% of his runs in the toughest of conditions. Hats off to them.

The second table contains the Platinum group batsmen ordered on the runs scored. Harvey is again on top. What a great batsman he was? Then the English stalwarts, Stewart and Gooch, who spent half their careers facing the West Indian quicks. Lara represents the modern era. Not many runs, and less than 5%, but more than anyone else of this period. May, Hutton and Cowdrey of the 50s-60s come in. Surprising inclusions are Thorpe and Chanderpaul.

Gold Group (Groups 7 and 8) tables

BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
May P.B.H Eng 4537180639.8
Atherton M.A Eng 7728271035.1
Botham I.T Eng 5200175033.7
Hughes K.J Aus 4415145633.0
Gooch G.A Eng 8900279531.4
Thorpe G.P Eng 6744208730.9
Stewart A.J Eng 8465257330.4
Hussain N Eng 5764174630.3
Graveney T.W Eng 4882147330.2
Redpath I.R Aus 4737142830.1
BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
Lara B.C Win11953282923.7
Gooch G.A Eng 8900279531.4
Atherton M.A Eng 7728271035.1
Stewart A.J Eng 8465257330.4
Border A.R Aus11174228620.5
Javed Miandad Pak 8832228225.8
Gower D.I Eng 8231220826.8
Kallis J.H Saf12260217917.8
Haynes D.L Win 7487217829.1
Richards I.V.A Win 8540214525.1

The Gold Group tables, representing the batsmen who have performed very well against very tough conditions also follows a similar path. This table is almost totally dominated by the English batsmen from 1950-2000. This clearly indicates that the conditions in England were such and the English batsmen also travelled reasonably well. It is of interest to note that May has scored over 50% of his runs in the toughest of conditions. And Gooch, nearly 40%. Atherton deserves a separate mention,. And what about Botham as a batsman, a third of his runs on these conditions. Spare a thought for the much maligned Kim Hughes, one of only two Australians.

In the table ordered on runs scored, Lara leads by a few runs from Gooch and Atherton. This confirms that Lara scored many of his runs in tough situations. Javed Miandad's presence in the later table is a welcome introduction of an Asian batsman and speaks of his class.

Silver Group (Groups 6 and 5) tables

BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
Cullinan D.J Saf 4554299965.9
Kallicharran A.I Win 4399248856.6
Viswanath G.R Ind 6080320352.7
Richards I.V.A Win 8540446052.2
Lloyd C.H Win 7515383851.1
Fleming S.P Nzl 7172362350.5
Greenidge C.G Win 7558379250.2
Boycott G Eng 8114403249.7
Sobers G.St.A Win 8032399549.7
Boucher M.V Saf 5407258347.8

This is the middle group and should and does see a lot of runs scored. Cullinan might have been a Warne-bunny but he sure scored over 65% of his runs in this middle not-so-easy conditions. Viswanath is the leading Indian here having scored over 50% of his runs. Some famous batsmen, viz., Richards, Lloyd, Sobers, Greenidge have scored around 50%. Boucher is a surprising addition here. He seems to have scored quite a bit of his tally in this group. It is possible that he has scored more at home than away.

I have not got a separate table ordered on runs. Suffice to say that the most runs have been scored by Ponting, with 5509 runs, Tendulkar, with 4880 runs and Border, with 4624 runs.

Bronze Group (Groups 4 and 3) tables

BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
Younis Khan Pak 6205371759.9
Zaheer Abbas Pak 5062252749.9
Mohammad Yousuf Pak 7530369849.1
Sehwag V Ind 8088382447.3
Dilshan T.M Slk 4662216446.4
Sutcliffe H Eng 4555199243.7
Dravid R Ind13206572043.3
Hammond W.R Eng 7249312243.1
Bradman D.G Aus 6996299842.9
Hussey M.E.K Aus 5435232342.7

The Bronze table represents the runs scored in conditions which are strongly in favour of the batsmen. Now you can see the entry of almost all top batsmen, including Bradman and Hammond coming in. Younis Khan is the only batsman to get well over the 50% mark of his career runs. Zaheer Abbas and Mohd Yousuf are around 50%. Then Sehwag, with 47.3%. It is of interest to note that the table is headed by modern batsmen and batsmen of the pre-WW2 vintage. There is not one batsman from the 1950s to 1980s.

Again I have not got a separate table ordered on runs. Suffice to say that the most runs have been scored by Tendulkar, with 6542 runs, Dravid, with 5720 runs and Ponting, with 4753 runs. These are the top three run-getters in Tests.

Tin Group (Groups 2 and 1) tables

BatsmanTeamCareer RunsRuns%
     
Hammond W.R Eng 7249217930.1
Hutton L Eng 6971169424.3
Compton D.C.S Eng 5807133923.1
Cook A.N Eng 5868115119.6
EdeC Weekes Win 4455 87019.5
Sehwag V Ind 8088155519.2
Gayle C.H Win 6373117218.4
Samaraweera T.T Slk 5022 91618.2
de Villiers A.B Saf 5239 90917.4
Kallis J.H Saf12260198616.2

These are the easiest of runs. The pitches are flattest of flat and the bowling extremely benign. This is a surprising mix of the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s and 200s period batsmen. However more than half are from the current lot of batsmen.

Again no separate table ordered on runs. Suffice to say that the most runs have been scored by Hammond, with 2179 runs, Kallis, with 1986 runs and Tendulkar, with 1852 runs. Incidentally Lara, amongst modern batsman has a very low tally of these easy runs, with 352. Inzamam- ul-haq has only 175 runs and Richards, only 139 runs.

Some preliminary conclusions can be drawn. The conditions for batsmen were favourable to the batsmen during the pre-WW2 period. Then during the next 50 years or so, the conditions became more favourable for bowlers. This was also partly due to the rather low scoring rates of 1950s-60s. Then over the past 15 years, the conditions have become more favourable to the batsmen. Partly also because of the faster scoring and the consequent benefits. And the English batsmen of the post-WW2 period have had the toughest of conditions to make runs.

This is a fascinating set of tables. The significant positions are filled by lesser batsmen. This is a natural outcome when players score well over 10000 runs. There are significant questions to be answered. Lara is the only top scorer to have found a place in a Platinum or Gold table. And the nearest to him is Chanderpaul. Why? Also the volume of runs and the averages are used freely when talking about batsmen. This analysis shows the importance of looking at the match conditions in which these runs were scored. Forgotten batsmen like Hughes and Cullinan stand out. The value of runs scored by Richards, Atherton, Viswanath, Gooch et al stands enhanced. Readers' comments on these important points will be most welcome. Again, let me remind everyone. Please make objective comments and avoid accusations. This analysis is about 266 batsmen and not one or two.

To download/view the document containing the Player tables for selected 261 batsmen tables please click/right-click here.

In the next part of the article I will cover the following.

1. The Batsman tables based on the run-weighted BPI values.
2. Graphs for above, both top-30 batsmen and high and low values.
3. Career details of runs and relevant BPI group for 5 selected players, total, home and away.
4. A selection of top innings played in the Platinum and Gold groups.

Incidentally I have written another article, not an analytical one, for another site. I thought it would be good for the interested readers to peruse the same. I have uploaded the MSWord file and provided the link below. Please click/right-click here.

RELATED LINKS

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

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Keywords: Stats,

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Bedouin Chief on (March 1, 2012, 16:11 GMT)

Yeh, 82% of Atherton's runs were very tough to watch. Sehwag and Tendulkar a lot easier going.

Posted by Arjun Nagal on (March 1, 2012, 4:27 GMT)

Ananth,

A basic issue in any statistical analysis is the treatment of outliers. When you are trying to establish the greatest, you are identifying outliers. This analysis does NOTHING to address that issue. Run a regression to establish the relationship between all these parameters and run scored and plot the batsmen against that line. You don’t even need to run a regression to know that a lot of those ‘tin’ and ‘bronze’ players will be above the line and Bradman (the most outlying of outliers, but here- ‘bronze’??!!) will be off the chart. [[ You guys take the cake. Where in tarnation did I say that this analysis anoints someone as the greatest. It is the readers who come to such conclusions. The batsmen runs were classified into different situations, that is all. You do not understand that but come back to show off your statiscal prowess. Let me say this. I am a Cricket analyst, not a statisician. I can understand and do a Sd work or interpret a Coefficient of variation value. that is all. I leave it you guys to do complex statistical analysis which will be understood by 10% of the blog readers. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Arvind on (February 29, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

Nice analysis anantha. Just proves what my dad has been saying all along. The greatest ever batsman is Viv and India's greatest ever is G.R.Visvanath.

Posted by Alex on (January 27, 2012, 5:19 GMT)

@Shrikanthk: Fully agree with your observations on Ramprakash & Hughes. I had earlier observed this in the context of Viv & Ponting (opposite reason) & Lara (same reason) ... I too am yet to analyze Ananth's methodology in detail but this seems to be its drawback.

@Ananth: In which category does the last Perth test fall? I guess it will get rated Gold whereas it probably was a Silver/Bronze. If so, inept batting by Indians, coupled with inept bowling by Indian bowlers, have put the Aussie runs in a flattering light. I followed Viv very carefully and well know this to be true in his case on many occasions ... it was also true for Lara in his glorious 2003-06 phase.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (January 27, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

Ananth, no doubt Kohli cannot carry on like this and hope to progress. But the rest of the team is playing in an atrociously meek manner, and inviting scorn. Hopefully Kohli will settle down but continue as a fiery competitor.

Posted by nastle on (January 26, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

Interesting idea. Hard to see what conclusions can be drawn though. Is a batsman who scores more runs against tough opposition a great batsman? or is he a capable batsman who just happened to face tough opposition more?

What about giving % runs/% innings in each category? we would see who dined out on the easy days, and who failed to make the most of such opportunities.

Who has the best average against top bowling? [[ Part 2 is coming out later today. It contains number of innings and averages. Ananth: ]]

Posted by shrikanthk on (January 26, 2012, 17:16 GMT)

The Tough vs Easy split becomes increasingly revealing each time I reread the results.

Gambhir and Sehwag - roughly 30% tough runs. Puts their records in some perspective.

Headley again - a very low tough run %. The man played a lot against second string English attacks. It shows.

Also it supports my view that Boycott and not Gavaskar was the preeminent opening batsman of the 60s-80s era.

Some remarks - - I see that in general batsmen who belong to a period of poor batting standards are being designated as high tough run % scorers. Eg - Kim Hughes who featured in an iffy batting lineup where most had poor FC records. Or Ramprakash who featured in some of the weakast English teams of the past 100 years and hence ends up with a tough run % of 93%!

Rampa didn't score "tough" runs. He and the English batsmen of his era made run getting seem "tough". Similarly, Hammond's runs seem "easy" because he batted in an era of truly great batsmen who made run-getting "easy"!

Posted by shrikanthk on (January 26, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

Regarding tough vs easy runs %. One of the things I generally consider to validate some of these theories is to compare a batsman's first-class average with his test average. Why?

Let's take Kim Hughes for instance. Yes, 88% of his runs were "tough". I agree with that assessment. But we must not use that to condone his rather average test career. Suppose we have a hypothesis that Hughes would've done much better in test cricket in the 2000s or the 1930s, then ideally his average should've been much, much higher in "easier batting conditions" of first-class cricket. But that's not the case. Hughes was average not just in tests but also in the first-class circuit, averaging 37 in both!

We have two alternative inferences from this - - Most of Hughes' first-class runs were "tough" as well, which explains his record in both tests and FC. OR - Hughes wouldn't have done better in the 2000s or 1930s because he didn't necessarily do better when "easy" conditions were available in FC circuit! [[ Shri, nice to have you back with us. Don't associate runs against tough groups with batting quality. Your namesake had a wonderful average, for a specialist batsman, of 29 in Tests and 35 in FC. But it is true that he faced tough conditions. Anyhow Part 2 is due late today. The groups have been re-designated and the number of innin gs and batting averages have been made available at the group levels. Ananth: ]]

Posted by shrikanthk on (January 26, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

There's also a lot of discussion on the Aus-Ind series!

Guys - Obviously we are all disappointed by the lack of contest. But let's ask ourselves a historical question. India played its first test in 1932. Today it's 2012. During these 80 years, was there ever a stage when we were a "very, very good" test side home and away?

My answer - No. Yes, we "seemed" very good between '71 and '74. But that bubble burst in '74. Again, we were ranked very high between '08 and '10. But I never rated this team too highly. It was a ranking abetted by a large number of congenial subcontinent contests in an era of Aus decline. To my mind, the only stage when we had a side approaching "very, very good" was between 2001 and 2004, when we had two wonderful spinners in Kumble and Harbhajan and a batting lineup comprising of several remarkable batsmen in their late 20s/early 30s.

So in the larger historical context, these Indian losses are consistent with the larger story of Indian mediocrity since 1932.

Posted by shrikanthk on (January 26, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

Good to post here again. Ananth - sorry for not assisting you last month. Was caught up with some emergencies!

Haven't studied these posts in detail yet. But the learnings confirm some of my hypotheses -

The toughest time for test and FC batsmen post WWI was during the 50s. It was a period when counties started preparing greentops/dustbowls to assist bowlers. So an Ashes series during those years entailed facing bowlers of the calibre of Trueman, Statham, Loader, Laker, Lock, Lindwall, Miller, Davidson and Johnston on very responsive wickets.

No wonder a lot of bowling averages of that period are simply surreal. Laker, Trueman, Statham, Tyson, Wardle - all averaging in the low 20s. I bet they weren't as good as those figures suggest.

Hence I do have a lot of time for batsmen like Harvey and May - clearly the best of that era. No wonder after all these years, there are some Aus and Eng fans who still regard Harvey and May as the best post war Aus and Eng batsmen respectively!!!

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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