February 4, 2012

Tests during 2011: an alternate look

An analytical look at individual and team performances in Test cricket played in 2011
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This review of the year should have come out a few weeks earlier. However I was caught up in completing the series of articles on Bowling and Pitch quality and hence this slight delay. Anyhow the year is still fresh in our memory and here we go. I also do not want to hear the words Bowling/Pitch quality for a month or so.

England: went through 2011 without a single defeat
England: went through 2011 without a single defeat © AFP

1. A look at performance of teams during 2011

TeamTestsHomeNeutralAwayHomeNeutralAwayHomeNeutralAwayPerformance
  WinsWinsWinsDrawsDrawsDrawsLossesLossesLosses%
England850120000081.2
Pakistan1001502100180.5
Australia920200220156.7
New Zealand500210010153.0
South Africa520010020045.0
India1220110300541.7
West Indies1010120220240.0
Sri Lanka1100122211237.3
Zimbabwe310000020018.0
Bangladesh50001003019.0


This is the traditional 2-1-0 method of evaluating team performance. I have analyzed the matches from home-neutral-away points of view. I have used the 2-1-0 values for the neutral matches and weighed the home matches down by 10% and the away matches upwards by 10%. For another website ratings work I do an additional measure of the team rating points (my famous 100 point split between the two teams). However for this I am going limit myself to the traditional 2-1-0 valuation only.

If one forgets the January disaster for England in the desert, they fully deserve the top position. Their overall record of 6-2-0 is outstanding and the best by any team. Pakistan has only a slightly inferior record of 6-3-1 indicating a welcome resurgence, continuing on to 2012. Just for information, the UAE matches are treated as neutral. Australia left the Ashes trauma of 2010 behind and compiled a 4-2-3 record. New Zealand and South Africa played the minimum of five Tests and compiled identical 2-1-2 records. Then comes India, somewhat fortuitously placed at no.6. They had a 3-4-5 record. They are indeed still lower down if one takes the defeat margins. And let us not forget that the next 3 Tests in 2012 have been thumping losses.

2. An alternate look at performance of teams during 2011

TeamOwn RpWOth RpWDifferenceOwn WpTOth WpTDifference
 
England59.228.530.718.510.97.6
Pakistan41.626.415.219.612.47.2
South Africa3026.53.518.216.41.8
Australia29.428.31.116.417.3-0.9
Zimbabwe33.834.6-0.81718.3-1.3
India30.935.6-4.717.017.00.0
West Indies27.733-5.315.818.4-2.6
New Zealand25.832.2-6.415.219.6-4.4
Sri Lanka29.740.8-1112.617.3-4.6
Bangladesh27.148.6-21.51218.4-6.4


I can hear that strident caller saying "Cut the crap. This is what my ten-year old son/nephew/sister/cousin/.. does in 15 minutes flat on a Sunday afternoon. Where is this "alternate look"? Ah! that is coming now. Why were the teams successful? Good bowling and batting and fielding is fine. But what are the numbers? In this table I look at two sets of numbers to throw light on the success of certain teams and failures of the others.

First the RpW (Runs per wicket) values. I have compiled the "own RpW" and "other RpW" values and got the difference. This difference will indicate the success or lack of of the teams. England's own figure is 59.2 (amazing number - indicating an average innings of nearly 600) and 28.5. The "other RpW" is less than half of the "own RpW". The difference is a mind-boggling 30.7. Pakistan has a very respectable 41.6 and a tight 26.7, giving them a difference of 15.2. No wonder these two teams are so far up on the top. Then after a lot of daylight comes South Africa with a difference of 3.5. Australia is the only other team with a positive difference, viz., 1.1. Those who are surprised to see Zimbabwe placed above India, please be reminded that, leaving the Napier disaster aside, they have made a determined return to Test cricket. Their scores since their return are 370, 291, 412, 141, 313 and 331. Very creditable indeed. Compare this with India's sequence in England, viz., 286, 261, 288, 158, 224, 244, 300 and 283. No wonder Zimbabwe, have a difference of 0.8 are placed above India, with a difference of -4.7. One could also say India were lucky enough to play six Tests against West Indies.

The other comparison I have made is between "own WpM (wickets per match)" and "other WpM". After all a team has to take 20 wickets to win. Once again England and Pakistan are way up with a differential of 7.6 (18.5 vs 10.9) and 7.2 (19.6 vs 12.4) wickets respectively. South Africa has 1.8. India has a flat 0.0. Surprisingly Australia have a negative value of 0.9. This is no doubt due to their heavy defeat against England, narrow win over Sri Lanka, the 47 and the loss of 20 wickets in Hobart and Melbourne. Sri Lanka have done poorly in both measures. However let us not forget that they won a Test and two ODIs in South Africa.

3. The top team performances

2003 2011 Eng 87.45 vs Ind 12.55 England won by an innings and 242 runs
2022 2011 Pak 85.66 vs Bng 14.34 Pakistan won by an innings and 184 runs
1989 2011 Eng 82.55 vs Aus 17.45 England won by an innings and 83 runs
2023 2011 Saf 82.49 vs Slk 17.51 South Africa won by an innings and 81 runs
2001 2011 Eng 82.18 vs Ind 17.82 England won by 319 runs
2017 2011 Ind 80.46 vs Win 19.54 India won by an innings and 15 runs
1994 2011 Eng 80.43 vs Slk 19.57 England won by an innings and 14 runs
2004 2011 Eng 80.25 vs Ind 19.75 England won by an innings and 8 runs

These are the eight imposing wins during 2011. The criteria for selection is match rating points of 80 and above for the winning team. This is secured by any innings win or huge run-margin wins. Only one such win qualifies. This methodology has been explained in my September 2010 article. India has been at the receiving end quite often during 2011. The heaviest win was recorded by England over India (innings and 242 runs). Two other wins by England also fall in this category. Thus India has lost three matches heavily. India's home win over West Indies was achieved comfortably. In terms of winners, this was, without any question, England's year. 5 of these 8 wins have been achieved by them.

It may be of interest to note that India has started 2012 disastrously. All three of their losses have been worse than 80-20. New Zealand's thumping of Zimbabwe comes out with a 89.2-10.8 rating.

4. The year of the debutant bowler

2016 2011 Philander V.D        Saf Aus  7.0  3  15 5 151.2 Debut
2018 2011 Cummins P.J          Aus Saf 29.0  5  79 6 140.3 Debut
2020 2011 Pattinson J.L        Aus Nzl 11.0  5  27 5 131.4 Debut
2015 2011 Ashwin R             Ind Win 21.3  5  47 6 129.4 Debut
2005 2011 Lyon N.M             Aus Slk 15.0  3  34 5 117.7 Debut
2026 2011 de Lange M           Saf Slk 23.2  3  81 7 116.3 Debut
2010 2011 Elias Sunny          Bng Win 23.0  0  94 6 112.4 Debut
2013 2011 Bracewell D.A.J      Nzl Zim 25.0  2  85 5  99.2 Debut


The selectors only had to select a bowler and he would deliver a five-wicket performance. I have not checked this out but can confidently say that at no time in history would eight bowlers, on debut, have captured five wickets or more within a calendar year. And all these happened during the last four months. The stand-out performance was Philander's match-winning effort, discussed later.

5. The debut centurions

1999 2011 Debut Edwards K.A          Win Ind 110  139.6 Debut
2007 2011 Debut Marsh S.E            Aus Slk 141   94.2 Debut


Two centuries were scored on debut during 2011, Edwards did this during their home series against India. He did reasonably well when West Indies came over to India. Marsh scored a wonderful century against Sri Lanka and then dropped like a brick against India.

6. The top batting performances

2003 2011 Cook A.N             Eng Ind 294  193.0
2004 2011 Dravid R             Ind Eng 146* 186.9
2016 2011 Amla H.M             Saf Aus 112  185.0
1997 2011 Dravid R             Ind Win 112  183.0
2016 2011 Clarke M.J           Aus Saf 151  177.3
...
2021 2011 Warner D.A           Aus Nzl 123* 162.9


These are the top 5 rated batting performances. Dravid essayed two of these, both away. The Oval masterpiece of 146 was the innings people would talk of for years to come. To see him losing his stumps almost every innings over the past month has been painful, to say the least. However for me the two stand-out performances have been by two Australians, both in losing causes. Clarks's 151 was a masterpiece and deserved a win. However their own meltdown prevented that. Warner showed everyone that he is not just an attacking batsman. His unbeaten century would have become Lara/Inzamam/Greenidge-esque if only they had scored seven more runs. This innings was almost similar to Tendulkar's epic of 136 except that Warner remained unconquered.

In deference to the wishes of my Sri Lankan readers, I must make a mention of Sangakkara's three top quality innings: 211 against Pakistan, 119 against England and 108 against South Africa. All against top class bowling attacks and away. The first two were match-saving efforts and the third won a rare away match.

7. The top bowling performances

1988 2011 Harbhajan Singh      Ind Saf 38.0  1 120 7 180.4
1988 2011 Steyn D.W            Saf Ind 31.0 11  75 5 164.0
2021 2011 Bracewell D.A.J      Nzl Aus 16.4  4  40 6 154.0
2016 2011 Philander V.D        Saf Aus  7.0  3  15 5 151.2
2004 2011 Swann G.P            Eng Ind 38.0  6 106 6 148.1


These were the top rated bowling performances. For me the stand-out performance was that of Philander on his debut. The match was dead and gone with Australia taking a near-200 run lead. Philander, on his debut, bowled the perfect spell, bowling 42 deliveries on the spot. He could probably have taken all 10 wickets, the perfect way he bowled. His spell paved the way for a tough but reasonable task which was achieved quite comfortably. However without Philander, there would have been no Amla/Smith. Only slightly below is Bracewell's match-winning spell at Hobart. He gave the Australians a taste of the medicine they themselves were going to administer the Indian batsmen a few weeks later.

8. A few important measures compared

Measure20112000-10All-Tests
 
Runs per wicket32.534.331.9
Runs per over3.153.222.82
Wickets per match32.630.930.7
Result %69.275.365.2
Home wins %33.34538.6
Away wins %35.930.426.6
Overs per match336329348
Balls per wicket61.863.967.9
% Inns >= 5005.410.26.7
% Inns <= 1002.83.43.8
Opening Ptshp Avge30.939.636.9
% OP >= 1006.19.29.2
% OP <= 10 36.128.228.7
2-5 Ptshp Avge157.8160.5149.6


Now for a look at various measures for 2011, the preceding decade and the 135 year period.

The Runs per wicket values showed a distinct downward trend from the previous decade of over 5%. It is slightly above the all-Tests figure. There were many below-par performances by fancied teams which accounted for this. The Runs per over figure was only marginally lower. The wickets were taken in about 2 balls fewer keeping with the trend of lowering Runs per wicket.

The Wickets per match numbers showed a distinct increase of about 5% from the 2000-10 decade. However the surprising fact is that this did not show a corresponding increase in Result %. On the contrary there was a drop of 6% from the 2000s. Difficult to explain this.

The Home win % showed a huge drop of 25% from the 2000s decade figure. The away wins showed an increase of about 15%. Maybe the sample size of 39 Tests for 2011 is not big enough. It is possible that the slight drop in home performance of Australia and South Africa contributed to this. It is possible that teams, sand India during 2011, also travel better.

Overs per match was only marginally higher at 336 overs. This comprised of 12 draws at an average of 367 overs (quite a few rain-affected draws) and 17 results at an average of 322 overs. Let us convert this at about 14 overs per hour (especially since dawdling India played over 35% of the Tests), this comes to 23 hours. Add to this an hour of wickets falling and innings changes, we come to around 24 hours. This is around 4 days of play. Remember this is on an average. Let me add that the 2012 has started with only 290 overs per match for the 7 conclusive Tests. That is well below 4 days play. Only one Test, the Adelaide one, reached the fifth day: That too, courtesy, Mr. M.J.Clarke.

There is a sharp drop in 500+ innings, just above 50%, the respective figures standing at 5.4 and 10.2% respectively. For that matter the year 2011 was below the all-Tests average. Quite surprisingly, the sub-100 innings also showed a drop from 2000-10 and all-Tests values. Quite inexplicable.

The Opening partnerships failed miserably during 2011. The average runs scored dropped from nearly 40 to just over 30. It was way below the all-Tests figure. Maybe the Indian openers and Strauss and Hughes contributed to this. Similarly there was a significant drop in the 100+ opening partnerships (once in 16 innings as against once in 11 innings) and the sub-10 partnerships showed a sharp increase. Maybe the new crop of exciting pace bowlers contributed to this. Pattinson, Cummins, Philander, Bracewell, Yadav, Broad et al are going to continue in this vein. Ably supported by the resurgence of Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Andersen, et al. Of course Steyn, Morkel, Zaheer are always there. The other significant reason could be the continuing Twenty-20 approach of the openers.

However the middle-order partnerships for the second, third, fourth and fifth wickets have held firm. This value of 158 is quite close to the 2000-10 value of 160.

9. My own abiding memories of 2011


These are strictly my personal selections.

The match of the year was New Zealand's sevn-run win over Australia. Warner batted as he would never have been expected to. Bracewell bowled as Hadlee did 26 years back. Until the last ball bowled by Bracewell to Lyon, the result was in doubt. As Djokovic told a few weeks later at Melbourne, there should have been two winners. Both teams fought hard to the last ball. A close contender was Australia's redeeming series-equalling win over South Africa at Wanderer's.

The innings of the year was Warner's unbeaten 123, referred to quite a few times already. Warner would go through bad patches in his career. He should only rewind the clock back to 13 December 2011 and Hobart, when he almost climbed Everest through the North face. Amazing thing is that Warner's 180 at Perth might very well be the innings of 2012 and it is going to take some beating.

The bowling performance of the year was Philander's 5 for 15 against Australia. The match was dead and gone, but for Philander. I have never seen 42 balls delivered on a coin. That was McGrath-like.

The most forgettable performance of the year was Sehwag's golden pair at Birmingham. He lasted a round 190 overs less than the 7 English batsmen. That symbolized the Indian English debacle as Dravid's loss of his stumps symbolized six months later.

The bravest performance of 2011 was by Zimbabwe on their comeback. They fought hard and four of their six innings exceeded 300. And this was against Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

The non-stories of the year were Tendulkar's ton of tons, the various retirement stories circulated, the complete irrelevance of Champions' League (even though, as a contest, it was far superior to IPL) and the millions of words written on India's free fall (all destined to have no effect).

The Indian Test debacles have been chronicled ad nauseam. However the meltdown of the year was Sri Lanka's 24-over capitulation on the last day at Cardiff.

MS Dhoni comes in two situations next. The sporting gesture of the year was Dhoni's recall of Bell. The cop-out of the year was Dhoni's refusal to go for the win at Roseau, against West Indies.

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

  • Harsh Thakor on March 26, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    What was great about the year was the bowling performances which bettered the performances of previous years.For many years the stats were loaded in favour of the batsman.

    The best event to me was the 2nd test between S.Africa and Australia which the Aussies clinched by 2 wickets in the end .The match was a gruelling battle from start to finish with the tide turning either way till the end.It was a model game for test cricket,proving the unmatched greatness of the 5 day game.The 1st test of that series also had one of test cricket's all-time great turnabouts with S.Africa making an all-time great win from the doldrums.The 3rd test between India and West Indies at Mumbai was also unforgettable when a certain draw was turned into a dramatic finish on the last day as well as the 2nd test between Australia and the Kiwis which the Kiwis scraped by 7 runs.

    The standard of test cricket has fallen in quality but we still witness the greatest of battles resurrecting the spirit of test cricket

  • Jamie on March 4, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    anantha, bypassing the debates about sachin I want to congratulate you on putting together a piece that I feel sums up test match cricket in 2011 nicely. I feel that the current Pakistan side deserves almost as much credit as england. No longer do they seem a fragile unit in the test arena and this has been reflected in their record. They have found a good balance to the side but more importantly have taken, in my eyes, a more determined approach and for this Misbah deserves a lot of praise. I am also of the opinion, as with quite a few in this comment section, that sangakkara’s brilliance this year is deserving of more than an honorary mention although it is understandable why the other innings have been put above his. personally i think that the cricket this year has been of such a high standard because of the rebalancing of bat and ball and hopefully with the emergence of the new bowling stars such as pattinson and philander this will continue. [[ I think these are personal selections. As such don't be too worried by omissions and commissions. I think the two ul-Haqs were/are unflappable and brought a sense of calm into the arena. One thing I feel is that Misbah should lead in the Tests and ODIs. However, in T20s, I feel he is out of place. But oiugh to find an alternate. Afridi should suffice in the short term. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 15, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    @Ananth: Thanks for your replies to Nitin. I think you are spot on. IPL 2012 & WI tour 2012 is the worst career decision SRT ever made. It has probably finished him. The candle grows brightest before the end. Is the end still in future or was 2010 that brightest phase?

  • Alex on February 15, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    @Gerry: Your posts basically point out the flaws in the "tough group" analysis methodology. Any analysis that puts Azhar over SRT or Greenidge as a batsman should be tossed in the trash can.

  • Nitin Gautam on February 14, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    @Ananth "yourt words" The other was that he was not fighting for himself only, but for the teams. But whatever happened was resolved quickly. He never deserted West indian cricket, as Gayle has done now.

    its not hidden to understand that BCL is more favorite for you but i dont mean to degrade anyone. it was just an example.regarding BCL he deserted WI cricket for a gud 1 year unlike SRT who for all his peerless incomparable position in indian cricket for a long long time, never asked to be paid more than the rests. regarding 10% payment its more due to ad money which is reflection of financial condition n tht i believe shoudl not be brought here... Gayle is worst than BCL & thts for me..probably he took cue from BCL to extract more considering his postiong as best WI player in contemporary WI cricket. thts a bloat which will stay forever [[ Nitin, you have every right to push up SRT, but try and do it without going out of the way and pulling down some other player. After Lara made his debut he was dropped for 10 Tests. So his career really started with Test no 1188, his second Test. Given below are the career comparisons. Pl remember you opened the doors. SRT: 188 tests, India: 1127-2031 (205) BCL: 130 tests, Windies: 1188-1818 (146). So SRT has missed 17 Tests and Lara 16. Oh I know you will bring in injuries etc. But those apply to all players, some more than the others. And where is this complete season. I know he asked not to be selected for the first Test against Saf in March 2005. But ortherwise. Ok, he stayed out. So, what. That seems to be the prerogative of senior players, anyhow. Let me paint an alternate scenario which did not happen. At the end of the exhausting WC 2011, which India won, SRT opts out of either the complete IPL or part of it (okay BCCI could have paid Nita Ambani, woefully short of funds, the 2 million or so dollars). Then travels to West Indies and plays the three Tests there. Scores this elusive 100th-100 there. He goes to England, free of that huge albatross on his back, scores 400 runs and India loses 1-2. Comes to Australia with a clear plan, scores 500 runs and India again loses 1-2. Just an alternate scenario: that is all. India could still have lost 0-4 and 0-4. The final moral: no one is perfect. This I say, while acknowledging everything you have said about SRT. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on February 14, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    Have to agree here SRT has been the most scrutinized player since he he started playing as a wonder kid. ppl tend to forget ponting's 2 years & almost 30 innings break for a mere 50, BCL's inconsistency, his fight wid WICB for more money, 5-0 drubbings against SA, 4-0 vs eng at home pitches & few others, not to mention his records in lost matches (somthing SRT is always accused of that he does not win matches but so never BCL did),Akram's lack of mantle & him being accused of politics, warne (words wont suffice)& many many players. modern cricket owes a lot to SRT what he broght to cricket, the last of the breed of gentlemen(wid RD & KS). I guess once he retires for good (i know he shud have announced it) ppl will realise what it is to be a SRT. longevity, runs, 100s accolades from players (bradman, donald mcgraw, warne, BCL, akram, barry richards & many more such greats)has to be counted for players like him are actually once in a lifetime affair. [[ The only point I would take issue with you is on BCL's asking for more money with WICB. Two things. He was paid probably 10% of what his contemporaries in, say, India were getting paid. The other was that he was not fighting for himself only, but for the teams. But whatever happened was resolved quickly. He never deserted West indian cricket, as Gayle has done now. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on February 14, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Ananth Great Analysis as always. Impartial & crisp to the core.

    1at things 1st:- defining memory of tests in 2011 was duel between steyn & SRT. 2 Masters at the zenith of their prowess. none can beat that. @Gerry if tough group % is all about cricket why do have other teams, why 2 have BD, WI, NZL(outside their home,have to agree here hobart was once in a 20 years performance)& also India in eng, aus(in winters). certainly everything has its flipside, stats too.do u really consider chanders better than SRT, ponting, sobers etc cos he has better avg against tough group. not to forget SRT (as on 2007 had a peer avg of almost 1.6 & last batsman to reach 2.0 till 2002 & thts no small thing to achieve. @Alex most definitive agree on chanders not as good as SRT just cos of the brilliance of the sight when SRT bats. Im not ardent fan of SRT but just for the sake of belittling a great of the game, dont think any cricket lover would agree.. @Ananths waiting for SRT special analysis [[ Will do at the right time. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 13, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    Ananth, Determined Alex, who has fought for Tendulkar against all odds, with a ferocity even Tendulkar has not shown, has got me thinking. The doubt still nags away at me. What if Richards has been boosted by his teams powerful bowling attack, whereas Tendulkar etc. have been pulled down by weak attacks in their own teams.

    I have a simple suggestion to remedy this. I believe at present you are using T7 B3. To keep things simple, I will take a hypothetical example of an India / Australia match in which Warner scores 180 and Kohli 75, and the RSI is 60. Also assume that the BQI faced by Aus is 36, while that faced by India is 30.

    I propose the following. Warner's innings must be placed in a modified RSI wherein 1) all Indian partnerships are scaled up by 36/30. Australian partnerships are left unchanged 2) Then T7B3 is taken. Kohli's RSI must be computed by first taking all Australian partnerships scaled down by 30/36, then doing T7B3. This will eliminate the relative BQI impact.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 12, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    Alex - Is Haynes a better batsman than Sobers? Firstly, my point was not to use these averages to start deciding who the best batsman of all was. My purpose was to establish that in MY way of thinking, a decent "tough group" average is a MUST. It is your call whether you call 29 decent. I dont. It is poor.

    But the comparisons you are making about Sobers and Ponting are very serious. I was surprised there was no discussion on that in the previous article. Perhaps it was because people wanted to compute composite averages and "tough group" was forgotten quickly. I have not got time to check this in recent weeks. In Tendulkar's case, the findings entirely agreed with my assessment of him as a fair weather player (no use pointing out 136, 169 etc, they are too few for 185 tests, that is why averages matter), but Sobers and Ponting stood out. I certainly intend to dig into this.

    If Sobers did only 32, and Ponting 28, people should ask the questions. You are dead right.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 12, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Ananth, please dont consider this off-track. We must look at tests + ODIs together right? I did a quick "tough group" analysis myself. Opposition only Aus, SA and England, in their respective home territories. No neutral matches (e.g. India v/s Sri Lanka in England etc.). Minimum 1000 runs. Excluding home batsmen (e.g. Eng, Aus, SA) from the comparison.

    Averages are Richards 61, Chander (surprise, surprise) 47, Lloyd 44, Azharuddin 43, Attapattu and Dravid 41, Sangakkarra and Lara 38, Ganguly, Jayawardene and Miandad 34, Carl Hooper, Yousuf Youhana, Tendulkar, Haynes and Inzamam 32, Greenidge 31.

    Highest Aggregate Richards 2700 runs in 55 matches. Tendulkar 1900 runs in 62 matches.

    Alex, we better ignore ODIs...

    We know who has scored in finals etc.. (the "how").

  • Harsh Thakor on March 26, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    What was great about the year was the bowling performances which bettered the performances of previous years.For many years the stats were loaded in favour of the batsman.

    The best event to me was the 2nd test between S.Africa and Australia which the Aussies clinched by 2 wickets in the end .The match was a gruelling battle from start to finish with the tide turning either way till the end.It was a model game for test cricket,proving the unmatched greatness of the 5 day game.The 1st test of that series also had one of test cricket's all-time great turnabouts with S.Africa making an all-time great win from the doldrums.The 3rd test between India and West Indies at Mumbai was also unforgettable when a certain draw was turned into a dramatic finish on the last day as well as the 2nd test between Australia and the Kiwis which the Kiwis scraped by 7 runs.

    The standard of test cricket has fallen in quality but we still witness the greatest of battles resurrecting the spirit of test cricket

  • Jamie on March 4, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    anantha, bypassing the debates about sachin I want to congratulate you on putting together a piece that I feel sums up test match cricket in 2011 nicely. I feel that the current Pakistan side deserves almost as much credit as england. No longer do they seem a fragile unit in the test arena and this has been reflected in their record. They have found a good balance to the side but more importantly have taken, in my eyes, a more determined approach and for this Misbah deserves a lot of praise. I am also of the opinion, as with quite a few in this comment section, that sangakkara’s brilliance this year is deserving of more than an honorary mention although it is understandable why the other innings have been put above his. personally i think that the cricket this year has been of such a high standard because of the rebalancing of bat and ball and hopefully with the emergence of the new bowling stars such as pattinson and philander this will continue. [[ I think these are personal selections. As such don't be too worried by omissions and commissions. I think the two ul-Haqs were/are unflappable and brought a sense of calm into the arena. One thing I feel is that Misbah should lead in the Tests and ODIs. However, in T20s, I feel he is out of place. But oiugh to find an alternate. Afridi should suffice in the short term. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 15, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    @Ananth: Thanks for your replies to Nitin. I think you are spot on. IPL 2012 & WI tour 2012 is the worst career decision SRT ever made. It has probably finished him. The candle grows brightest before the end. Is the end still in future or was 2010 that brightest phase?

  • Alex on February 15, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    @Gerry: Your posts basically point out the flaws in the "tough group" analysis methodology. Any analysis that puts Azhar over SRT or Greenidge as a batsman should be tossed in the trash can.

  • Nitin Gautam on February 14, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    @Ananth "yourt words" The other was that he was not fighting for himself only, but for the teams. But whatever happened was resolved quickly. He never deserted West indian cricket, as Gayle has done now.

    its not hidden to understand that BCL is more favorite for you but i dont mean to degrade anyone. it was just an example.regarding BCL he deserted WI cricket for a gud 1 year unlike SRT who for all his peerless incomparable position in indian cricket for a long long time, never asked to be paid more than the rests. regarding 10% payment its more due to ad money which is reflection of financial condition n tht i believe shoudl not be brought here... Gayle is worst than BCL & thts for me..probably he took cue from BCL to extract more considering his postiong as best WI player in contemporary WI cricket. thts a bloat which will stay forever [[ Nitin, you have every right to push up SRT, but try and do it without going out of the way and pulling down some other player. After Lara made his debut he was dropped for 10 Tests. So his career really started with Test no 1188, his second Test. Given below are the career comparisons. Pl remember you opened the doors. SRT: 188 tests, India: 1127-2031 (205) BCL: 130 tests, Windies: 1188-1818 (146). So SRT has missed 17 Tests and Lara 16. Oh I know you will bring in injuries etc. But those apply to all players, some more than the others. And where is this complete season. I know he asked not to be selected for the first Test against Saf in March 2005. But ortherwise. Ok, he stayed out. So, what. That seems to be the prerogative of senior players, anyhow. Let me paint an alternate scenario which did not happen. At the end of the exhausting WC 2011, which India won, SRT opts out of either the complete IPL or part of it (okay BCCI could have paid Nita Ambani, woefully short of funds, the 2 million or so dollars). Then travels to West Indies and plays the three Tests there. Scores this elusive 100th-100 there. He goes to England, free of that huge albatross on his back, scores 400 runs and India loses 1-2. Comes to Australia with a clear plan, scores 500 runs and India again loses 1-2. Just an alternate scenario: that is all. India could still have lost 0-4 and 0-4. The final moral: no one is perfect. This I say, while acknowledging everything you have said about SRT. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on February 14, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    Have to agree here SRT has been the most scrutinized player since he he started playing as a wonder kid. ppl tend to forget ponting's 2 years & almost 30 innings break for a mere 50, BCL's inconsistency, his fight wid WICB for more money, 5-0 drubbings against SA, 4-0 vs eng at home pitches & few others, not to mention his records in lost matches (somthing SRT is always accused of that he does not win matches but so never BCL did),Akram's lack of mantle & him being accused of politics, warne (words wont suffice)& many many players. modern cricket owes a lot to SRT what he broght to cricket, the last of the breed of gentlemen(wid RD & KS). I guess once he retires for good (i know he shud have announced it) ppl will realise what it is to be a SRT. longevity, runs, 100s accolades from players (bradman, donald mcgraw, warne, BCL, akram, barry richards & many more such greats)has to be counted for players like him are actually once in a lifetime affair. [[ The only point I would take issue with you is on BCL's asking for more money with WICB. Two things. He was paid probably 10% of what his contemporaries in, say, India were getting paid. The other was that he was not fighting for himself only, but for the teams. But whatever happened was resolved quickly. He never deserted West indian cricket, as Gayle has done now. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on February 14, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Ananth Great Analysis as always. Impartial & crisp to the core.

    1at things 1st:- defining memory of tests in 2011 was duel between steyn & SRT. 2 Masters at the zenith of their prowess. none can beat that. @Gerry if tough group % is all about cricket why do have other teams, why 2 have BD, WI, NZL(outside their home,have to agree here hobart was once in a 20 years performance)& also India in eng, aus(in winters). certainly everything has its flipside, stats too.do u really consider chanders better than SRT, ponting, sobers etc cos he has better avg against tough group. not to forget SRT (as on 2007 had a peer avg of almost 1.6 & last batsman to reach 2.0 till 2002 & thts no small thing to achieve. @Alex most definitive agree on chanders not as good as SRT just cos of the brilliance of the sight when SRT bats. Im not ardent fan of SRT but just for the sake of belittling a great of the game, dont think any cricket lover would agree.. @Ananths waiting for SRT special analysis [[ Will do at the right time. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 13, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    Ananth, Determined Alex, who has fought for Tendulkar against all odds, with a ferocity even Tendulkar has not shown, has got me thinking. The doubt still nags away at me. What if Richards has been boosted by his teams powerful bowling attack, whereas Tendulkar etc. have been pulled down by weak attacks in their own teams.

    I have a simple suggestion to remedy this. I believe at present you are using T7 B3. To keep things simple, I will take a hypothetical example of an India / Australia match in which Warner scores 180 and Kohli 75, and the RSI is 60. Also assume that the BQI faced by Aus is 36, while that faced by India is 30.

    I propose the following. Warner's innings must be placed in a modified RSI wherein 1) all Indian partnerships are scaled up by 36/30. Australian partnerships are left unchanged 2) Then T7B3 is taken. Kohli's RSI must be computed by first taking all Australian partnerships scaled down by 30/36, then doing T7B3. This will eliminate the relative BQI impact.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 12, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    Alex - Is Haynes a better batsman than Sobers? Firstly, my point was not to use these averages to start deciding who the best batsman of all was. My purpose was to establish that in MY way of thinking, a decent "tough group" average is a MUST. It is your call whether you call 29 decent. I dont. It is poor.

    But the comparisons you are making about Sobers and Ponting are very serious. I was surprised there was no discussion on that in the previous article. Perhaps it was because people wanted to compute composite averages and "tough group" was forgotten quickly. I have not got time to check this in recent weeks. In Tendulkar's case, the findings entirely agreed with my assessment of him as a fair weather player (no use pointing out 136, 169 etc, they are too few for 185 tests, that is why averages matter), but Sobers and Ponting stood out. I certainly intend to dig into this.

    If Sobers did only 32, and Ponting 28, people should ask the questions. You are dead right.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 12, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Ananth, please dont consider this off-track. We must look at tests + ODIs together right? I did a quick "tough group" analysis myself. Opposition only Aus, SA and England, in their respective home territories. No neutral matches (e.g. India v/s Sri Lanka in England etc.). Minimum 1000 runs. Excluding home batsmen (e.g. Eng, Aus, SA) from the comparison.

    Averages are Richards 61, Chander (surprise, surprise) 47, Lloyd 44, Azharuddin 43, Attapattu and Dravid 41, Sangakkarra and Lara 38, Ganguly, Jayawardene and Miandad 34, Carl Hooper, Yousuf Youhana, Tendulkar, Haynes and Inzamam 32, Greenidge 31.

    Highest Aggregate Richards 2700 runs in 55 matches. Tendulkar 1900 runs in 62 matches.

    Alex, we better ignore ODIs...

    We know who has scored in finals etc.. (the "how").

  • milpand on February 12, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    Series is finely balanced. On day three of final test, neither side has taken control. The premium bowler does everything possible but somehow fails to claim his most prized scalp of the day. The survivor who does not score against him somehow manages to do enough to keep the honours even at the end of first innings.

    The author who gave this for free (https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=c44cd1dd55949ef8&id=C44CD1DD55949EF8%21142), eloquently writes about that passage of play.

    I admire Steyn, Tendulkar and Panicker and that session is my own abiding memory of 2011.

    My abiding memory of 2010 is a duel between two lower ranked players (http://wp.me/sRgJz-183) which has nothing to do with cricket but is full of stats.

    I like sports. I like stats. I like duels. I like Tendulkar. But I am not obsessed with Tendulkar or his stats.

    Stats are tools to enhance the range of experiences between jubilations and humiliations while following a team/player. Tools! No more.

  • milpand on February 12, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    (Arithmetic) Mean is commonly used to measure central tendency of data items. So are Median and Mode. We also need measures for spread such as Range and Standard deviation to encapsulate a set of numbers. A quirk in computing 'Average' due to not outs is well known and becomes measure for central tendency. High Score can function as measure for spread since lowest score by a batsman is likely to be zero.

    'Describing a large set of observations with a single indicator risks distorting the original data or losing important detail - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descriptive_statistics'

    Is 60.66 better, worse or similar to 58.00? http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/averages/batting_bowling_by_team.html?id=6112;team=1;type=series Broad played 4 inns, 1 NO, 182 runs, HS 74* during Pataudi Trophy. Cook scored 294 once and a total of 54 in remaining 5 inns. Even with this extra information can we authoritatively call one set of numbers better than the other?

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 11, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Interesting point raised by Alex..."Walsh averages better than Roberts"...but Alex, not necessarily "tough group" average.

    Ananth, am desperate to find out...when are we getting "Bowlers across batsman group across ages" It will be the mother of all articles. I bet Ambrose and Holding will top among modern bowlers, and by a big margin. [[ Will do soon. However it is more complicated than the Batting analysis. In Batting the batsmen scored runs against the bowling attacks. Period. Here the bowlers bowl against the top batsmen but may or may not capture their wickets. They may bowl well against the top batsmen but capture low order wickets or vice versa. I am still looking at how best to do the same. Ananth: ]]

  • IshaqMalik on February 11, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    Pak and Eng didn’t play any tests in 2011, the picture doesn’t seem relevant to the article. [[ Good point. However that is not within my purview. Cricinfo selects the photograph. Logically they should have selected a summer Test. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 11, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    @Gerry: Absolutely, ave in this "top" group is all that matters. Chander is indeed a better batsman than not only SRT but Sobers & Ponting as well. Gower, Boycott, & Haynes were also better than Sobers. The 4 greatest batsmen of all time are Bradman, Viv, Mark Waugh, and Lloyd.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 10, 2012, 4:05 GMT

    And Ananth, this takes the cake, and is exactly as I expected...According to Alex, "Chander and SRT might average the same vs the top group but Chander simply is not as good as SRT". Alex, did you really check the numbers? It is 35 and 29.

  • Alex on February 9, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    @IG: I had said "arguably". BTW, much like with Two Chucks, the sense of humor of Robelinda is a shocking and twisted affair. The so-called humor is always a one-way street with them. Try sending them a constructive criticism and see how fast they block you from commenting any further on their blog. Ananth not only publishes such comments but replies in detail as well.

  • Alex on February 9, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    @Gerry: I don't go too much by stats while judging a player. To me, "how" one bats is more important. So, I cannot quote stats to justify the opinion. Basically, Chander and SRT might average the same vs the top group but Chander simply is not as good as SRT. Walsh averages better than Roberts and took twice as many wickets but Roberts was better, IMO.

    Also, one must look at tests+ODI's while judging post 70's players. His peaks are not that spectacular and that explains his low average in Group 1 (he doesn't have mammoth 200's vs top attacks to bump up that average). But the *consistency* with which he churned out *good* performances across these formats is phenomenal. No 38 year old ever had a better WC than SRT in 2011. I certainly include him in my all-time XI which reads: Hutton, Viv, Don (c), SRT, Lara, Sobers, Gilly, Imran, Marshall, O'Reilly/Warne/Murali/Barnes, McGrath. 12th: Ponting.

  • IG on February 9, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    et tu Alexe? Even you're indulging in Tendul-trolling? Don't you think you've neutralized your argument by first saying that 10dulkar is the best bar the Don, and then stating that there are 8-10 others who are (+/-) 3% of him. Which means the +3% ARE better than him, right? For the sanctity of this blog I shall neither initiate nor reply to any comment about, as our friend Robelinda on youtube calls "Flopdulkar" :).

    Thanks IG

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 9, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Ananth, I am not saying that my arrival changed the tone of the blog about tendulkar. There is no change. The only change is that I provide a contrasting view, whereas earlier it was all one way. The rest are still the same. Let us see what Alex's response to my query is...will put your culture of neutral analysis to test...! [[ There were contrasting views before you came in. Let us say that some of the very strident SRT-supporters have gone off to other blogs. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 9, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    Alex, "SRT is the greatest ever batsman bar the Don". What exactly is the basis for this? In the previous article, we saw Tendulkar in tough group at 28, Kallis, Lara, Gavaskar etc .at 38, Richards at 43, and so many others in between.

    If you chose a World XI, would you include Tendulkar? It is assumed by me that the opposition would in such a case, easily qualify for the tough group (would be another world XI). So no point giving the composite average argument.

    If yes, why? If not, will you still call him one of the greatest? I am not a fan of fanning arguments about Tendulkar, but when you make a provocative comment, I cant resist trying to drop an analytical anchor. If you answer, please keep focus on tough group averages. [[ Gerry, Alex is one of the moderates in this Group. He is not as rabid a supporter of SRT as you think he is. He has just made a statement. And has a right to make that statement. And world team selections are almost always opinionated. No one just picks out the players with 11 top (appropriate) averages. There is ONLY ONE guaranteed selection. That is Bradman. I could select 10 others and you could select 10 others and together we could have 21 players. This blog strives to be as neutral as it can be. At the same time I would also allow opinions as long as norms are maintained. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on February 8, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    There...! IG comes out swinging. Boll, you have no idea to what extent this has gone. If you remember I confidently predicted Sehwag would fail in Australia (he had just scored 219 in a one day match). In cricket conversations in the work place etc., it is routine to see scorn poured on past Indian greats like Gavaskar (and that too in comparison with Sehwag). I nearly fell off my chair when a noted cricinfo writer asked "Will Sehwag perish in Perth playing his shots or will he play a blinder a la Fredericks". I mean, even Bradman could not have played that innings. There is a miniature industry in pushing for Tendulkar to get India's highest civilian award, with not even a line for our world chess champion Anand. On this blog, someone chose Sehwag for a World XI, except for Waca. In fact, I would say that before I entered, this whole blogspace was a race between different readers on who could extoll Tendulkar's virtues the best. Sorry for breaking up your party, guys... [[ Your arrival changed the tone or my strict wielding of the sticks ??? Anyhow thanks for the support. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 8, 2012, 4:19 GMT

    @Ananth: It was a well earned tribute to you. Even Cricinfo tends to indulge in propaganda. E.g., the customary trite churned by Siddharth Monga in Prem Panicker's article quoted in milpand's earlier comment. People like Monga & Bhogale, and to some extent Panicker also, depend on cricket for livelihood. So, like any salesman, they make people believe that their product (Ind cricket & cricketers) is the best in the world. [[ Yes their prose seems contrived often. I also feel that in every Test there are bound to be purple patches in which a bowler bowls a series of top quality deliveries at a batsman and the batsman negotiates. In the third Test at Dubai, I saw 3/4 overs of Ajmal/Rahman combination. It was a miracle how Pietersen and Strauss survived. But the writing is almost always when a top class bowler bowls to a top batsman. Ananth: ]]

    @IG: SRT is arguably the greatest ever batsman bar the Don. Sadly, Ind media makes it seem he is 100% better than the next best, which is not true. IMO, there is a bunch of 8-10 batsmen who are within, say, plus/minus 3% of him.

    Ananth had promised an article on SRT when he is about to retire. I hope he does that soon. Meanwhile, perhaps Ananth can now do a similar article on his own favorite, the inimitable Lara? No stats person, or any Indian, has written such an informative piece on BCL. [[ Yes I should do. Both Lara and Tendulkar deserve their specific dedicated posts without any comparisons. Ananth: ]]

  • IG on February 7, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    @Kiran Azure - hmm...you sound like one of those students who wants the exams to be boycotted/retaken just because you failed :p Maybe instead of pouring vitriol on poor Anantha here, you should really ask your beloved cricketers (Tendulkar et al), if they really are even half as good as you want everyone else to believe. If you want the whole world to praise them ("How dare you not include my beloved player in XYZ list? How dare you call XYZ (non-Indian) better than ABC (Indian)?"), then you should be ready to accept it like a man, when people criticize them, and very appropriately too. Or maybe you just need to grow up a lot and appreciate Anantha's hard, unbiased work (he must be the only unbiased Indian going around at the moment!). Its this very attitude from a multitude of Indian fanboys that endears them, their cricketers and their board lesser and lesser to people elsewhere and to their own countrymen who are not so rabidly biased. To earn respect -try to learn respect..Peace! [[ IG, Keiron has been a less strident objecter. I take his point and tried explaining what I do. As I had suggested these articles should be used to do some soul-searcing and introspecting. Where did we (do we) go wrong. What can be done to correct it. What can we learn from the opposition. At the end of the Cape Town fiasco, Clarke showed real anger and the steel few people thought he possessed. The anger and feeling must come from within, not from the fickle fans. Absolutely the worst comment I heard on the Australia-India tour that the pitches suited the Australian bowlers. I have never heard bs like this. Two of the pitches unfolded were the flattest in recent memory. However flat in Australian but not the sub-continental manner. The batsmen have to respect the bowlers, give them their couple of hours and slowly gain ascendancy. This is the traditional Test match method. And that has been forgotten. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 7, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    @Ananth: The only sane solution that I can think of is to structure the cricket calendar such that a team plays in 3-4 representative countries away in any given 2 year period. It would also be nice if ICC enforces a level ground for the pitches. E.g., in a 5-test series, tailor 1 track for fast bowlers, 1 for spinners, and the other 3 competitive. This will make the testing ground for tests/ODI's a bit similar to the 4-surface grand slam format of tennis. [[ When I think of ICC's postponing the Test World Chamionship by four years because the broadcaster did not accept the change in schedule, I think anything told to ICC is like "blowing conch at a deaf man" (a Tamil proverb: unfortunately something is lost in translation. Ananth: ]]

    @Boll: I assure you that the hype generated around India was more unbearable to guys like me (& I suspect Ananth and some others on this blog) than you. Unlike you, we were bombarded with this nonsensical hype & advertisement day in and day out on TV channels and in print. On TV, just about only Ganguly & Kumble give a perceptive unbiased viewpoint whereas in print I daresay Ananth's blog and Akash Chopra's articles were the only two bright spots in this period. [[ Aakash is one of the players/writers I respect a lot and thank you for bracketing me with him. The problem is that there were cracks and these were just glossed over. I would repeat that both India and England deserve their no.1 spot. However their inherent weaknesses (playing away against pace/spin) would not allow them long reign at the top. And everyone connected with Indian/English cricket should appreciate it. The jury is still out on England. The Sri Lanka tour is a water-shed. If they do not win over Sri Lanka they are going to have tough days ahead as India would have. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 7, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    @Ananth: SRT did get dropped in the past: he was not chosen for the entire '07 ODI series in BD and final two ODI's in SL in early '09. However, that was hushed in the media. As said earlier, Indian media is a big culprit. Rather than convey unbiased information, it acts like an outright propaganda machinery ... however, the Brits and Pak are from the same mold as well. Milpand's citation of Prem Panicker's article falls in the same category. That said, Ind and SRT will probably do well in the tri-series.

  • Boll on February 7, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    @Kieron. I agree that there were many people `deriding India for not being as great as the Aus or WI teams and were only waiting for it to fall`. I think that was because they obviously weren`t, their excellent record had mainly been built at home, and that many Indians were claiming they were, and being fairly brazen about it. The English press and fans (including a writer on this site) proved themselves no better, when they claimed that the current England team was one of the best 5 teams of all time.

    Of course, we should try to separate published articles from fan-responses. However, when 80% of traffic is Indo-centric, perhaps you can appreciate that for the rest of us, (particularly Aussies who`d won 3 WCs in a row, and been No.1 in tests for close to 15 years) the whole TEAM INDIA caper was a bit much, and the schadenfreude of 4-0/4-0 not entirely unenjoyable. [[ Let me first say that ICC's Team Ranking system is the one in place, flawed though it is, and the methodology is reasonably clear. Both India and England deserved their no.1 position. However, to maintain that position for a length of time, say 5 years, the teams have to WIN consistently away. Note that it is essential to win and not just draw. India proved unequal to the task and England have similarly proved unequal to the task. From the Predictor I see that England will move off the no.1 spot if South Africa win 3-0 at New Zealand. A very tough ask but could happen. That is the price paid for the 3-0 whitewash. These no.1 positions are certainly not like Carlos Moya's or Wozniacki's in Tennis. However they are certainly not like Federer's or Nadal's or Djokovic's. They are shaky because of the inability to win consistently away, a regular achievement for the 1980s West Indians and 199x-200x Australians. I also do not see a change in the near future because of the ostrich-like attitude. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on February 7, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Not quite sure what to make of comments such as `many columnists in Cricinfo and elsewhere, have pounced at an opportunity to put down India.` or `Why was there no article celebrating India's success as the No.1 Test team during their reign.`

    Firstly, let`s not forget that in the, badly flawed ICC ratings system, it was South Africa who initially replaced Australia at the top in mid-2009. There was barely a whisper on this site about that.

    Suddenly, when India took over the crown, (ironically at the time Australia were defeating South Africa at home), the rankings became the best thing since sliced bread. I can assure you, that for the 18 months India were ranked first, it was difficult to press a button on this site without being reminded of the fact - often loudly and aggressively.

    Apparently we were witnessing the beginning of Team India`s domination of World Cricket, and people were very happy to point it out to Pakistanis, Australians...um everyone really.

  • Hamzath on February 7, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    Hi,

    Good article. You could have added something on DRS. Some series had DRS and some didn't, in my opinion it did play a huge role. SA-AUS series, without DRS I don't think the innnings would have ended in a two digit score. Similarly in Eng series, Dravid was removed at least thrice (incorrectly) with DRS.

    Regards, Hamzath [[ Too much has been written on DRS, to no avail. I concede all points on the drawbacks of DRS. I accept the validity of some of BCCI objections. I appreciate Taufel's sensible observations against DRS. However, I am with Michael Clarke whole-heartedly. Either all should play with DRS or no one should. And it is the Indian team which is sitting pretty. They play ALL matches without DRS. Australia play with DRS in one series and then have to do without DRS in the next one and then go back to DRS. Same with other countries. Absolutely ridiculous. Either ICC should have the courage and guts to say "DRS is mandatory w.e.f 1 April 2012.". DRS would evolve, get fine-tuned and in two years' time we may have a 99% effective system. Or bow to the weight of financial power of BCCI and should say "Yes sir, yes sir: DRS would be scrapped.". No team should be allowed to dictate terms even if they own the world cricket franchise. Federer does not like Player review system, he is indifferent to it, he uses it poorly and almost has the worst record amongst leading players. But he has never said that he wants it scrapped or would play without it. The ball tracking there had similar problems. Mind you, ball travels faster on the Tennis court. But over the years the problems have been ironed out and now everyone accepts the same. No one thinks it is 100% (only Death is 100% !!!) but accept the 1% it fails for the sake of the other 99%. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on February 7, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    @ Ananth: Sadly, some of your predictions about India would be proved wrong very shortly: "They might very well remain amongst the top-2 ODI/T20 teams"!! India's loss in the test was not just because of their inability to handle pace and bounce, but their inability "to handle pressure" and inability to "score runs". In the test, 4 dot balls were followed by a wild swing caught at slips. In ODIs / T20s, pressure is no less, compared to tests. Indian superstars, pampered they are, can't stand an extra fraction mm of pressure. The current ODI series would prove that beyond doubt. India may win an odd match against SL, but I still feel it would be SL v Aus (just like it was Pak v Aus in 99-00).

    The sad reality of IPL is that Indian stars are paid well, but it is the overseas stars who have won matches for their clubs. I am yet to find one Top - draw player fitting his bill (but for Gayle). Beyond 2008, IPL-II onwards started the accelerated decline in Indian cricket and respectability. [[ I still think that India would be a force in ODIs, say, one of the top-three countries and very strong contender for a semi-final place in the 2015 WC because they have a young side good in the field. Only if this unnecessary obsession with spinners, around the world, is removed. Just one quality spinner, could as well be Ojha, is needed, along with the part-timers. And the ability to call a drop a drop. Why does a guy who faced 19 balls in a week of cricket need rest. Just a hypothetical situation. Sacrilege it may be, but, say Tendulkar has a string of four failures. Would Dhoni drop the master or "rest" him. Or for that matter, Gambhir. Ananth: ]]

  • HR Gopala Krishna on February 7, 2012, 4:14 GMT

    Dear Ananth Thanks for the great article. It must have taken more time to answer the emails than compiling the article itself. As a statistician, i really enjoyed the piece. HR Gopala Krishna. Cricket Statistician, Bangalore [[ Dear HRG, Coming from a respected fellow professional, your words are greatly appreciated. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on February 6, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    Ananth, If you are not on Twitter already, would like to see a link to all your articles (ItFigures, Castrol Cricker, ThirdSlip etc) in one place similar to Ed Smith (edsmithwriter), Mukul Kesavan (mukulkesavan) and Vir Sanghvi (virsanghvi). [[ I don't do anything for Thirdslip now because I just don't have any time. And, if this had been the 1900s, I have no moral right to live upto this age !!! I have to provide Ratings content for CastrolCricket and IDEA and do the articles for CricInfo and CastrolCricket. For the first time I am forced to use Google Calendar since I normally have about 20 deliverables per month. Let me check on Twitter. I have an almost defunct account with Facebook, but am not on Twitter. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on February 6, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    When Tendulkar faced Steyn on Day 3 of the Capetown test, a lot of writers rose to the occasion. Prem Panicker wrote:

    Compelling though all of it was — or would have been on any other day — somehow, none of it seems to matter. Yesterday was about just one thing: a battle for the ages, between an aging but brilliant master and a young man at the peak of his powers. Somehow, I hope to get a recording of this day — and when I do, I’ll edit out all the rest, and play those 48 deliveries on endless loop. That is cricket — the rest is just window dressing.

    http://prempanicker.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/the-two-faces-of-mastery/ [[ Thanks, Mil, for the link. After some time I have had the pleasure of renewing acquaintance with my dear friend, Prem, who I knew from his Rediff days. He possessed a great gift for wielding the pen, in this case, the keyboard. Unfortunately I missed almost the entire Wanderer's Test since I was travelling. It is surprising how Television has taken over in that one tends to remember only the matches one watches. Else this innings would have landed on my pallette. However nowadays Test cricket produces many wonderful matches. If you miss one, you get another soon. Look at 2011. West Indies win over Pakistan at Guyana. Indian win over West Indies at Kingston. New Zealand - Zimbabwe at Bulawayo. South Africa - Australia match at Wanderers The Mumbai draw between India and West Indies. Australia - New Zealand at Hobart. The MCG opener. There might be one or two more, including the Wanderer's draw. Ananth: ]]

  • Muhammad Noman on February 6, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    I have read your article for the first time. Believe me i had to read it four to five times before i could understand anything. Well written. I understand there is no Pakistani performance in top as they played against weaker sides in 2011. Hope there are some in 2012 (considering current whitewash over England). But there is a long way to go. Just a question. Can a bowlers performance be upgraded by number of catches dropped off him..?

  • Yasir Hasan on February 6, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    hi, Big fan of your statistical analysis based articles. I would like to mention the 5 wicket haul of Junaid Khan. It was a normal five wicket haul no doubt but considering the dead pitch he was playing on and the strong opposition comprising of players like Sangakara, Jayawardena, Dilshan it was a great achievement by the young fella..... [[ Don't forget that 4 of the 5 wickets were those of 7-11 batsmen. Neverthless, a good performance considering it was only in his second Test. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 6, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    @Ranga: Fair enough ... I used a hyperbole on white-washes. However, till 00's, quite often Ind toured Eng/Oz/SA/WI with the goal of not losing ... if it won, that was a bonus. To win tests, bowlers are more important than batsmen. So, given its pathetic attack, Ind's expectations & approach were both realistic & executable.

    Today, the trouble starts with unrealistic goals & expectations. The fast/med-fast attack is terrible but gets lionized in media. Zak is just a decent bowler with ave=32 but is billed a superstar. No one ever lionized Madan Lal! Ishant, with ave=90+, is termed "unlucky"!! Spinners (incl. Kumble) were always mediocre on those tracks. So, let's not even discuss them. Myths were spun around batting unit. I always said that Sehwag needs to do well in Oz-Eng-SA to labeled as Viv's successor. If Gambhir sets realistic targets (e.g., ave 40 in a series), he might perform better. As for SRT, forget 100th 100 ... just score *some* runs, else retire.

  • Fahad Javed on February 6, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    It is quite amazing that no Pakistani featured in the top bowling or batting records yet the team has such good numbers. Very unPakistani of the Pakistani team:)

  • Kieron Azure on February 6, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    Let us not forget that praising the Indian team does not amount to praising the BCCI or the IPL just like how praising the Pakistan team cannot amount to praising the PCB.

    Anyway, England are on their way to making your dare come true.

    "If England has a 1-7 (or 0-8 or 1-8) result sequence against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, I will write similarly on them also, in a 2012 review."

    I'll be back at the end of the year for that.

    Regarding rank turners- India have good spinners and enormous experience in batsmen who can deal spin. Although we have had mishaps like Mumbai 06, we can produce Mumbai 04 or Chennai 08 (against Swann and Monty) as well. I'd love to see another Lax or Sachin masterclass against spin.

    More than that, we as Indians must be proud of our spinning pitches and should play to our home strengths. We didn't stop preparing spinning pitches even against the might of Pak 1999 or Warne or Murali. So why stop now?

    Thank you again for replying. Keep writing articles!

  • Kieron Azure on February 6, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    Thank you for your lengthy replies to what have been two severely critical comments, Ananth! I don't believe India's bowlers have done a good job. Their figures are bloated from the two series against WI. India's batsmen did a decent job in England when they scored consistently scores of 250+ but their bowlers couldn't even bowl out England twice. I share your anguish at the squandering of Indian cricket's human resources by the BCCI in their lust for money and power but I cannot agree that the Indian team was feted after becoming World Champions and No.1 in Tests. For as long as it was the best Test team, the writers were constantly deriding India for not being as great as the Aus or WI teams and were only waiting for it to fall. However, when England completed the 4-0 whitewash, many were crowning them Test dominators for the decade, WC 2015 winners etc (I can show proof)- the same writers in Cricinfo who derided India. It was just distasteful. (Continued...) [[ I, for that matter no one else, anticipated the England desert disaster. We have to wait and see their performance against Sri Lanka before passing any final judgement. I will only repeat below an extract from my Sept 2011 article. "" Where does Indian Test cricket go from here. Many better writers, players and administrators than me have already spoken. I am not going to repeat those words. These comments all have validity. I will conclude with one summary. This result cannot be wished away with comments such as “one bad series”, "one cannot win everything", “a blip”, “we will bounce back”, “let England come to India” or “form is temporary, class is permanent” etc. This is a clean-up at the highest level and unless otherwise BCCI realizes this, India will find it difficult to recover in the years to come. They might very well remain amongst the top-2 ODI/T20 teams, but would slip down the Test ladder quickly. The players must share the blame, but only a small share. The proud men they are, they must be hurting like hell. However BCCI should feel the hurt intensely. While recognizing the zone at which the marvellous English team played, let me assign the blame component, strictly within Indian cricket, and in sync with the tone of the article, as 80-20 for BCCI-Players. This one allocation tells the story. The wild-sweep term "BCCI" includes, amongst others, the President, Secretary/IPL-GC member/IPL-owner, selectors, training methods, fitness evaluation criteria, IPL, paid propagandists, PR men, schedulers, rest of the gravy-train occupants et al. As far as England are concerned, they may lack the couple of big names and heavy hitters to sustain an occupancy at the top for a decade or so as the 1980 West Indians and 1990/2000 Australians did. However they have the quality, bench-strength and the ability to travel well to be a serious contender for the top position always, during the next 5 years. They may even lose the top position without playing another match. But that should not matter. They would bounce back. Their serious problem might be when they defend the 3-1 away win in Australia and 4-0 home win over India. "" Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun Kumar on February 6, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    The first table says that India won 2 tests in 2011. However, I recall three victories - all against the WI. One away and the two at time before the scores level draw at Mumbai. [[ No, Arjun, there is no mistake. If you see the table carefully it says 2 home wins and 1 away win (the first three columns). Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on February 6, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    @ Alex: One small correction - White washes abroad are not "once again a norm" . . . White washes abroad were never seen before this . . . The last was in 1999 and before that it was way back in the 50's . . . . So India was always losing abroad, but somehow, they used to recoup and at least draw some matches. . . Eng 2011, was not an aberration, It was a wake up call. Aus 2011 is a confirmation. We still look into history books and keep deifying people. Sehwag still keeps playing like a gully cricketer abroad. Gambhir keeps slips busy. The 100th 100 makes Lyon a Prasanna and Clarke an Underwood. I dont deny that they were greats. I dont say they shouldnt be playing now. But the successors should have been groomed long back. Today, we still ask, "Who will replace 182 tests?" . . Fair enough. But 182 tests started with "0" tests. A full stop is just the beginning of another sentence.

  • Ranga on February 6, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    "The reasons are BCCI, Srinivasan, Srikkanth, IPL, the media, Ranji Trophy scene, the easy money, lack of basic skills et al ...."

    You should add our needless obsession with 100th 100 as one more point. We are today seeing India just a shade above Zim and that too only by beating a lower ranked WIN, is not because of 2011, but because of 2007-08. We did not do a proper succession planning. The fault is not with 38+ playing now. It is coz when they were playing, we never thought about the day when they would be past their dates of expiry. When Australia hosted England in 1994, Ricky Ponting was in their "A" Team. So were Symonds, et al. So even though legends left them, Australia did struggle but they also had their moments. When we talk about succession planning, we are not talking about retirements. It is to groom people under them. And with the amount of clout BCCI had, we could have done that. And we would only be earning more money if we win! [[ To read what happened on Saturday morning on Sahara / BCC I / IPL Auction is like watching a particularly badly-made C-Grade movie. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on February 6, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    @Ananth: I beg to differ on your view that Ind bowlers did their job but batsmen didn't: the reason they have a zero WpT differential is the 6 tests vs the woeful WI. They took 8 more wkts than WI bowlers in 3 tests in WI, and 19 more in 3 in Ind ... in all, 27 more in 6 tests. Ind won 3 of those and drew 3. The year-opening and year-ending tests (SA & Oz) were close and had almost zero WpT differential. So, basically, in mere 4 tests in England, which actually favored seam bowlers, Ind bowlers squandered what they gained in 8 other tests. The WpT gap again became Englandasque in the final 3 tests in OZ.

    Ind bowlers simply need sub-cont tracks or puppies to be lethal. The fast/medium-fast bowling has always been mediocre. Mostly, the batting unit used to bail them out outside the subcontinent. Now that the batting unit has lost it since Jan 2011, the white-washes abroad are once again a norm. [[ I have succeeded. I wanted to wake up my esteemed readers from their slumber. Ananth: ]]

  • Waqas Ahmed on February 5, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    A very nicely crafted Article Annath, exceptional work on the stats plus great choice of words.

    Can you please tell me if you blog occasionally or regularly and where can I check your other works, as I truly like the way you have presented the facts in this one

    Hats off [[ I do some simpler one-topic articles for CastrolCricket also. Ananth: ]]

  • Geeth W on February 5, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    thanks annath for updating.....ya its true that warners inning was a great one but it was in a home test so i think clarks inning is more better one than warner.dilshans 190 against top quality fast bowling in england deserved more rating...this rating system is so hard to understand...even icc test ranking is also hard to understand.any way ananth yet again thanks for update :) [[ Geeth 10 years of work cannot be compressed in 10 sentences. The type of question you have asked has been asked on behalf of, at a guess, over a thousand innings and has been answered almost always. I do not want to open the door now. Suffice to say that no less than 15 parameters have been used. Ananth: ]]

  • S.M Arsalan Arif Khan on February 5, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    I can barely remember an individual Pakistani name in the top performers of 2011, yet Pakistan sits proudly on number two, having a marginal difference from the number one side. Saeed Ajmal may be making all the headlines but if you read between them, the stats given above prove that collective team effort matters so much more than thriving on or burdening one certain individual as Pakistan so often did (On Inzamam and some bowlers through time). You can see that with NZ too, as more people have begin to stand up letting the pressure of Daniel Vettori.

    It's a good sign for cricket. Sadly though, when I checked some of the most fascinating test side's (at the moment) FTP I could barely find any tests for them ahead.

  • Kieron Azure on February 5, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Ananth, my comment was as moderate as it could be.

    I have enjoyed many of your blogs and this article alone will not erase all the good memories. But just as I praised your good articles I shall criticize the bad ones too.

    Anyway, you have not answered some of the points I raised.

    1. Why was there no year-end review in 2008 or '09 or 2010? 2. Why was there no article celebrating India's success as the No.1 Test team during their reign(2 years was it?) in your blog or Cricinfo? 3. Is not this article ill-timed? Many year-end articles come up by late December. It feels like you were waiting for the Aus-Ind series to conclude. (Not accusing you)

    You say there have been no articles analysing RpW etc but after almost every Test series there is an article discussing this in Cricinfo.

    Probably this comment is not only directed towards you. I am not angry over India- you win some and you lose some. That's fine. But how come writers don't praise when India win and just find lame excuses? [[ Kieron One reason why I published your comment and provided a reasonably lengthy answer. 1. I had actually done a similar review of 2010. Unfortunately Gabriel Rogers' "2010 at the back of an envelope" was published and I abandoned it. Afterwards the WC preparatory articles took over. 2. I am sure you will accept that many writers eulogized India's WC win and rise to no.1. Why do you assume that it was not done. Also India's no.1 position was an ICC ranking. In fact I do such rankings for Castrol and Idea and India has been right there at the top frequently. 3. Why would you consider the article only from the point of view of India's poor showing. Why would you not look at other teams. Maybe try and find out why they did better. Why would you not derive something from the fact that India's WpT differential was 0.0 while their RpW differential was -4.7. Possibly the bowlers did their job. 4. Why would not you look at the set of facts presented at the end and get something out. When you saw how muuch the opening partnerships fell off during 2011, maybe you could have asked me how India fared. Was there a clue. Or compared India's own RpW with the 2011 RpW and got something out. Or learn that India's WpM was better than the average. 5. The timing of the article was only because I wanted to complete the trio of Bowling/Pitch quality articles. Not for the end of the Australian tour. Anyhow these three matches are not included. The point I am making is that these are articles which should make knowledgeable readers like you think. After my England-India tour article, a person quite close to me said "We will show them when they come to India". I realized that he had completely missed the point. Obviously England are being shown the other side of the coin now. However we must try and find what went wrong, find ways of redressing the same and then go to Australia and defeat them. Gambhir is wrong. If we prepare rank turners and England, armed with Swann and Panesar, visit us, what are the chances of our losing the series. I loved Indian cricket when I and the players were near-paupers. I am sorry to say I am very disillusioned with Indian cricket now. The reasons are BCCI, Srinivasan, Srikkanth, IPL, the media, Ranji Trophy scene, the easy money, lack of basic skills et al I also feel that the reasons I still like the Indian team, T/D/L are slowly going away into the sunset. There are times when my analysis reflects this disillusionment. My general apologies for that. Ananth: ]]

  • Sreen Boralessa on February 5, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    thanks for updating...:)

  • Sreen Boralessa on February 5, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    hey ananth nice to hear that ur a fan of srilankan team.but actually i couldn't understand the logic and ratings behind the performance analysis.how that dilshan and sanga miss out from the list both of them scored against top quality teams and under the difficuilt conditions and thier performance affect to the final result so how it lacking ratings.(to save and even win)

  • Ashok Sridharan on February 5, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Dear Sir,

    I think one of the most memorable moments of 2011 was Zimbabwe's triumphant return to test cricket. It isn't too often that a self-exiled team that had once slipped, seemingly inexorably, makes a return. To return with a victory (never mind the opposition) is a boy's own story- cricket's "Return of the Native" moment.

  • Geeth W on February 5, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    nice artical ananth but i feel that you miss 3 gems that produced by sangakkara. 1.Match wining 100 against south africa in south africa 2.Match saving 200 against Pakistan (against top quality spin of ajmal...he batted all most 2 days) 3.Match saving 100 against England(against top quality fast bowling)in england

    all of these innings came in away matches.i cannot understand how match saving and match wining efforts missed by you.(2 of dravid innings were great but those tests were lost). [[ Geeth First let me tell you that no table in the article was my own personal one other than the collection at the other end. For the Top batting performances I had selected the top-5 purely from the Hallmark Innings Ratings points. This is done taking into account many factors. Sangakkara's 200 got 158 and just missed the bus as did the 119. The 108 was lower down. Warner's innings was my own selection. You cannot fault me for that. Let me accep[t that Sangakkara played three very good innings, as did Dravid (again you cannot blame him for his compatriots' failures). I have updated the article with this conclusion. Ananth: ]]

  • Sreen Bralessa on February 5, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    first of all i want to apologize from you.sangakkaras innings in 3rd test in england is absulately a Gem to save a test he batted almost 2 days and even better inning he played to save a test against pakistan so i think all of dravids effort were useless because they lost those tests.but sanga save 2 tests and show a wining way in 3rd test so he deserved a place. [[ Sreen It was very nice of you to offer your apologies. Not needed at all. Only thing is to understand this blog. Since you seem to be a new visitor let me say that my words when I did an analysis of the WC 2011 were "My heart was beating for Sri Lanka". I got a lot of flak from many Indians. But Sri Lanka is my favourite team. Re Sangakkara's innings, pl see my response to another comment received just after your comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on February 5, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    It is unfortunate that I have to keep on reminding readers of the inviolable rules of this blogspace, that too, only my articles. You have every right to complain or criticize. If you think a valuable performance has been left out, please raise hell, by all means. But in only one manner. Push your case without accusing me of bias. You could be appalled, flabbergasted, amazed but you cannot accuse me of bias against one country or a player. I will always respect your views and publish your mail, even acknowledging your selection and adding to it (as happened for Shakib). I may have my reasons. Possibly I have not even watched your selection. So its impact on me might be minimal. The purpose of this blog is to bring to the notice of all readers such gems. You will only lose out if you are rude or crude.

  • Kieron Azure on February 4, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    I have nothing against the author in general but am strongly against the timing of this article. You have been writing articles here for a long time and I have enjoyed many of them. I don't ever remember you writing a year-end review of Tests during any of the previous years.

    There were some fantastic Tests in 2010 too. Yet why didn't you give us a compilation of that?

    I know this comment probably sounds like a rant but I can't help but think you, like many columnists in Cricinfo and elsewhere, have pounced at an opportunity to put down India.

    While that notion may sound silly, the timing, the abnormally short article and the manner of selections (for best of the year) smacks of some gripe against this Indian team.

    The article itself is below average, by your standards, offering nothing new.

    If I'm not wrong, there are other articles in Cricinfo that discuss in detail some of the happenings you have just mentioned. For example, the debutant bowlers' success. Disappointed [[ I was waiting for this. First I never read other analytical articles in Cricinfo or anywhere else. So I do not know what has come out. Second I have done this purely from numbers point of view. I do not think there is an article which talks about RpW differential, WpM differential, Comparisons of many key factors such as RpW, RpO, BpW, Opening Ptshps, Overs per match, Win % for the year with pervious decade and across all Tests. Third I do a light article once in 3/4 articles and this is it. There are fewer comments and I have an easier week or so. Finally you should not be upset with the person who points out to India's dismal Test performance. You should be upset at the people responsible for this disaster. Don't shoot the messenger. And let me ask you, how many articles have been written on India's dismal performances down under. About 361, at last count. Why complain about mine. Mine at least is numbers based. Kindly point out ONE subjective statement., other than my own selections. If England has a 1-7 (or 0-8 or 1-8) result sequence against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, I will write similarly on them also, in a 2012 review. Ananth: ]]

  • Bornfree2012 on February 4, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Appaling! How could you miss Shakib Al Hasan's six-for and 144 in the same match and this was against Pakistan a mighty good team at the moment! That should have been in the top performance of the year. Probably you are hearing Shakib's name for the first time : [[ I can only laugh at the comment on my lack of knoweldge on Shalib. Leaving that aside, I did not have an all-round performance category. If I had one, Shakib's would have been up there on top. Don't think beyond that. It should be noted that this performance was against the same attack which is now tying England in knots. Ananth: ]]

  • S.M Arsalan Arif Khan on February 4, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    With the series ended, Pakistan, having played lesser matches than Australia and India (with all due respect) who sit at 111 points, will gain 107 points (if drawn, highly unlikely) - 111 if they white wash England (highly likely) - And 105 (I just do not see that). So let me remind you again, cricket talks. People will gossip about pitches, to oppositions, to the this and the that, but the truth is: Pakistanis being the usual trend setters have proved one thing, and mind you this helps the Indians and Sri- Lanka's too, respectively. It is no more "Flat track bullies." The colonial mindset can now shut up about "techniques" and start admitting about the term: "Home track champions." After all, isn't everyone a lion in their own domain? Go Green. [[ Pakistan is winning because they have the most balanced attack in the world. Their spinners would be effective anywhere. I think England would have better results in Sri Lanka and India since England's spinners would match Sri Lankan and Indian spinners quite comfortably. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on February 4, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    My nomination for "The cop-out of the Year" goes to Ashwin for defending the penultimate ball of the Mumbai test just to ensure that India cannot lose by 2 wickets in 2 balls.

    I do not know if it was his personal choice or dressing room instructions but it did not feel like cricket to me. If it was the latter, then Dhoni is responsible for drawing 2 tests India would have won 8 times out 10, maybe drawn drawn 1 and lost 1. The fact that both tests were against WI, who are in one of their worst phases in cricket history, makes it all the more sorry. May be I would swallow the argument if AUS/SAF/PAK were at the other end, not the current WI team. [[ Funny thing, Raghav, is that Ashwin was castigated more for not running the second run off the last ball quicker when the penultimate ball was the culprit. Even the commentators were praising him for making sure that India could at least draw the test when the win was there for the taking. Ananth: ]]

  • Alistair on February 4, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    I think Tendulkar being dismissed for 94 at the Wankhede when looking good for the 100th hundred in his hometown deserves a 'oh crap'! test moment of the year. It was my graduation day that day and I needed a perfect graduation present!

  • ghumkumar on February 4, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    2011's best innings was that of Michael Clark's 150 ish against South Africa - without a doubt. South Africa's bowling attack was miles ahead of New Zealand. I'd have to say that was one of the best innings ever. [[ A great innings. You would see that I have referred to this in the list of memorable innings of 2011. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on February 4, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    Ananth:

    Where does the "tied" draw between India and West indies feature according to you if were to add it to you final "my list"? My apologies if I missed it in the article. I do agree that NZ's win against AUS was awesome (makes India's performance look even more pathetic). [[ One reason why I selected the narrow NZL win is because Warner came everr so close to Lara's classic and other wonderful innings by Inzamam, Mark Waugh et al. Many people would select the "tied draw" and would be perfectly justified. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on February 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    Awesome Ananth. The only other piece that would be interesting is, how long have the tests in 2011 been (duration), as compared to the previous decade and all time. I have a feeling that the appetite to play 5 days of gruelling or dull draws are steadily getting over, due to deficiencies in batting techniques. Thanks ! [[ Som That information is there in the article. The average number of overs per match is the indicator. Ananth: ]]

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Som on February 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    Awesome Ananth. The only other piece that would be interesting is, how long have the tests in 2011 been (duration), as compared to the previous decade and all time. I have a feeling that the appetite to play 5 days of gruelling or dull draws are steadily getting over, due to deficiencies in batting techniques. Thanks ! [[ Som That information is there in the article. The average number of overs per match is the indicator. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on February 4, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    Ananth:

    Where does the "tied" draw between India and West indies feature according to you if were to add it to you final "my list"? My apologies if I missed it in the article. I do agree that NZ's win against AUS was awesome (makes India's performance look even more pathetic). [[ One reason why I selected the narrow NZL win is because Warner came everr so close to Lara's classic and other wonderful innings by Inzamam, Mark Waugh et al. Many people would select the "tied draw" and would be perfectly justified. Ananth: ]]

  • ghumkumar on February 4, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    2011's best innings was that of Michael Clark's 150 ish against South Africa - without a doubt. South Africa's bowling attack was miles ahead of New Zealand. I'd have to say that was one of the best innings ever. [[ A great innings. You would see that I have referred to this in the list of memorable innings of 2011. Ananth: ]]

  • Alistair on February 4, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    I think Tendulkar being dismissed for 94 at the Wankhede when looking good for the 100th hundred in his hometown deserves a 'oh crap'! test moment of the year. It was my graduation day that day and I needed a perfect graduation present!

  • Raghav Bihani on February 4, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    My nomination for "The cop-out of the Year" goes to Ashwin for defending the penultimate ball of the Mumbai test just to ensure that India cannot lose by 2 wickets in 2 balls.

    I do not know if it was his personal choice or dressing room instructions but it did not feel like cricket to me. If it was the latter, then Dhoni is responsible for drawing 2 tests India would have won 8 times out 10, maybe drawn drawn 1 and lost 1. The fact that both tests were against WI, who are in one of their worst phases in cricket history, makes it all the more sorry. May be I would swallow the argument if AUS/SAF/PAK were at the other end, not the current WI team. [[ Funny thing, Raghav, is that Ashwin was castigated more for not running the second run off the last ball quicker when the penultimate ball was the culprit. Even the commentators were praising him for making sure that India could at least draw the test when the win was there for the taking. Ananth: ]]

  • S.M Arsalan Arif Khan on February 4, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    With the series ended, Pakistan, having played lesser matches than Australia and India (with all due respect) who sit at 111 points, will gain 107 points (if drawn, highly unlikely) - 111 if they white wash England (highly likely) - And 105 (I just do not see that). So let me remind you again, cricket talks. People will gossip about pitches, to oppositions, to the this and the that, but the truth is: Pakistanis being the usual trend setters have proved one thing, and mind you this helps the Indians and Sri- Lanka's too, respectively. It is no more "Flat track bullies." The colonial mindset can now shut up about "techniques" and start admitting about the term: "Home track champions." After all, isn't everyone a lion in their own domain? Go Green. [[ Pakistan is winning because they have the most balanced attack in the world. Their spinners would be effective anywhere. I think England would have better results in Sri Lanka and India since England's spinners would match Sri Lankan and Indian spinners quite comfortably. Ananth: ]]

  • Bornfree2012 on February 4, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Appaling! How could you miss Shakib Al Hasan's six-for and 144 in the same match and this was against Pakistan a mighty good team at the moment! That should have been in the top performance of the year. Probably you are hearing Shakib's name for the first time : [[ I can only laugh at the comment on my lack of knoweldge on Shalib. Leaving that aside, I did not have an all-round performance category. If I had one, Shakib's would have been up there on top. Don't think beyond that. It should be noted that this performance was against the same attack which is now tying England in knots. Ananth: ]]

  • Kieron Azure on February 4, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    I have nothing against the author in general but am strongly against the timing of this article. You have been writing articles here for a long time and I have enjoyed many of them. I don't ever remember you writing a year-end review of Tests during any of the previous years.

    There were some fantastic Tests in 2010 too. Yet why didn't you give us a compilation of that?

    I know this comment probably sounds like a rant but I can't help but think you, like many columnists in Cricinfo and elsewhere, have pounced at an opportunity to put down India.

    While that notion may sound silly, the timing, the abnormally short article and the manner of selections (for best of the year) smacks of some gripe against this Indian team.

    The article itself is below average, by your standards, offering nothing new.

    If I'm not wrong, there are other articles in Cricinfo that discuss in detail some of the happenings you have just mentioned. For example, the debutant bowlers' success. Disappointed [[ I was waiting for this. First I never read other analytical articles in Cricinfo or anywhere else. So I do not know what has come out. Second I have done this purely from numbers point of view. I do not think there is an article which talks about RpW differential, WpM differential, Comparisons of many key factors such as RpW, RpO, BpW, Opening Ptshps, Overs per match, Win % for the year with pervious decade and across all Tests. Third I do a light article once in 3/4 articles and this is it. There are fewer comments and I have an easier week or so. Finally you should not be upset with the person who points out to India's dismal Test performance. You should be upset at the people responsible for this disaster. Don't shoot the messenger. And let me ask you, how many articles have been written on India's dismal performances down under. About 361, at last count. Why complain about mine. Mine at least is numbers based. Kindly point out ONE subjective statement., other than my own selections. If England has a 1-7 (or 0-8 or 1-8) result sequence against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, I will write similarly on them also, in a 2012 review. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on February 5, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    It is unfortunate that I have to keep on reminding readers of the inviolable rules of this blogspace, that too, only my articles. You have every right to complain or criticize. If you think a valuable performance has been left out, please raise hell, by all means. But in only one manner. Push your case without accusing me of bias. You could be appalled, flabbergasted, amazed but you cannot accuse me of bias against one country or a player. I will always respect your views and publish your mail, even acknowledging your selection and adding to it (as happened for Shakib). I may have my reasons. Possibly I have not even watched your selection. So its impact on me might be minimal. The purpose of this blog is to bring to the notice of all readers such gems. You will only lose out if you are rude or crude.

  • Sreen Bralessa on February 5, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    first of all i want to apologize from you.sangakkaras innings in 3rd test in england is absulately a Gem to save a test he batted almost 2 days and even better inning he played to save a test against pakistan so i think all of dravids effort were useless because they lost those tests.but sanga save 2 tests and show a wining way in 3rd test so he deserved a place. [[ Sreen It was very nice of you to offer your apologies. Not needed at all. Only thing is to understand this blog. Since you seem to be a new visitor let me say that my words when I did an analysis of the WC 2011 were "My heart was beating for Sri Lanka". I got a lot of flak from many Indians. But Sri Lanka is my favourite team. Re Sangakkara's innings, pl see my response to another comment received just after your comment. Ananth: ]]