Batsman by bowler / pitch quality: The final grouping
I was about three-fourths into this article when the news about Rahul Dravid's retirement came through. After wiping a tear or two (ok, a lot more), I was tempted to replace this article with a tribute to Dravid. It took me only a minute to dismiss that idea. That is not the way the incomparable Dravid would have planned his innings and I was going to take time, look at all nuances, derive additional facts and figures and build the article, brick by brick. That is the fitting tribute we can give to one of the greats. All these cliches found their true meaning when applied to Dravid. In many other cases, these are but hyperbole.
I have finally arrived at the concluding article on this theme. I am going to classify runs scored by batsmen in the composite group comparing of the Bowling Quality and Pitch type, referred to in my last article. I believe that almost all problems present with the earlier Pitch Quality Index have been taken care of. I will do the classification with a brief introduction and will let the readers digest the same.
I have shown one major table and provided a number of tables for readers to unload and view. For a change let me keep one of my articles brief and to the point.
1. The major benefit is that I have avoided the wide variations which occurred when a single Test was considered and negated the impact of one's own bowlers had. Of course when I do the Innings Ratings analysis, I will re-visit the single Test theme and do what is required based on inputs given by Unni, Arjun, Ali, Gerry et al.
2. The problem of double counting has disappeared. When I look at a batsman's score I slot it into a group based on how easy or difficult run-scoring was, in the concerned location, during the specified period. The bowlers do not get into this at all.
3. A country might have started in one manner but completely changed its character over the years. Pakistan was one of the toughest countries to visit during the early years and over the past decade has completely changed. Compare England twenty and thirty years back. All these variations have been taken care of. Pakistan, during the 1946-1950 period had a PTI ratio value 1.23 while Pakistan's PTI ratio value during the period 2005-2012 is 0.74. England's figures for the two successive periods of 1980s and 1990s are 1.06 and 0.97 respectively.
4. There is no assumption that scoring at home is/was easy and scoring away is/was tough. This facet of the analysis is covered based on hard numbers. In New Zealand scoring was very difficult, often more so for the home team than the visiting teams. This is taken care of.
5. Within one country, there is a clear separation of home teams and visiting teams. So there is no adding of 80 (home) and 60 (visiting) in Australia during the 2000s to arrive at an unsatisfactory 70.
6. Within the same country group, batsmen runs are further classified based on the bowling quality. Example, Laxman's 167 in 2000 goes into the combined group 8 (Pitch-3 & BowQ-5) while Laxman's own 148, four years later goes into combined group of 7 (Pitch-3 & BowQ-4).
7. There is no grouping based on absolute values. Rather it is based on a true peer comparison basis and is only a dimension-less ratio. Changes over the various eras will be reflected correctly. This is peer comparison at its best. Same era and across countries.
8. One good point is that many teams starting in Test cricket have had a tough time, even while playing at home. The runs scored by the batsmen from these teams get recognition of the tougher conditions faced by them.
9. Readers can argue that I could have taken 15 time periods instead of 9. Possible. Readers can also argue that I could have taken the top-7 scores. Granted. However there is no end to these suggestions. These periods reflect distinct eras and have sufficient Tests played during each period to have a very sound basis.
10. Finally a quick perusal at the tables will indicate that the sharp differences which existed in the earlier analysis have now gone since the base has moved from a single Test to a period/country combination. There are some intriguing changes. It is now clear that the objections put forward by Unni, Ali and couple of other readers were quite valid. Some players, indeed, benefited by their bowlers' quality, very significantly. Look at the revised tables. The West Indian pitches during 1970-80 were good to bat on, at least for the home team. They were averaging 75.0 (all-teams 67.7) and 72.2 (all-teams 63.3) and batsmen like Richards scored a fair bit of runs at home. And they rarely faced a Group 5 bowling attack. Many thanks to all these readers.
First, the grouping methodology for the Pitch Type Index. The Pitch Type Index is the ratio between the Home/Visiting Top-7 Partnership average for the period/country and the Home/Visiting Top-7 Partnership average for the period/all-countries. A ratio of greater than 1.0 indicates tough situations and ratio below 1.00 indicates easier batting situations. I will not cover this in any greater detail. Details are available in the previous article, link provided here.
PTI-Home groupings: Total - 2022 innings (The 12 neutral Tests have no home teams) PTI value of 1.15 - 1.50 : PTI Group 5 238 (11.7%) PTI value of 1.04 - 1.15 : PTI Group 4 432 (21.2%) PTI value of 0.93 - 1.04 : PTI Group 3 745 (36.6%) PTI value of 0.88 - 0.93 : PTI Group 2 406 (20.0%) PTI value of 0.70 - 0.88 : PTI Group 1 201 ( 9.9%)
PTI-Away groupings: Total - 2034 innings PTI value of 1.09 - 1.50 : PTI Group 5 198 ( 9.7%) PTI value of 1.06 - 1.09 : PTI Group 4 441 (21.7%) PTI value of 0.94 - 1.06 : PTI Group 3 731 (35.9%) PTI value of 0.89 - 0.94 : PTI Group 2 456 (22.4%) PTI value of 0.70 - 0.89 : PTI Group 1 208 (10.2%)The working out of these groups has not been rocket science. I have done this based on my pet theory of normal distribution. Approximately 10% at either end, approximately 20% at either next-to-end group and 30% in the middle group. I know this adds to 90, but readers will get the drift. And this varies between Home and Visiting sets in order to get the required distribution.
The Bowling Quality Index runs from 5 (real tough bowling attack) to 1 (very weak bowling attack). The Pitch Type Index runs from 5 (very difficult to score period) to 1 (real batting feast period. The appropriate home/visiting numbers are used. Thus the composite group runs from 10 (runs are to be treasured like Platinum) to 2 (free buffet table, full of runs).
I have decided to present this in only two broad groups. The B group which comprises of the composite groups 2, 3, 4 and 5. Possible combinations of BQI & PTI are 3+2 4+1 2+2 or 3+1 or 1+2 or 1+1. These combinations clearly prove that either of the indices almost never exceed 3 and a 1 was a distinct possibility. These were really the conditions in which it was quite easy to score runs. Compare with the other group called A group which incorporated composite groups 10 to 6. At 6, it was either 5+1 or 4+2 or 3+3. If there was a 1 there was a 5 to compensate for that. Hence these runs were relatively tougher to score.
I have added below, the updated table which will have the A group having the composite groups 10-6 and the B group having the composite groups 5-2. This will ensure that the lowest composite group in the tougher A group is 6 (3+3 or 4+2 or 5+1). No one can now complain that the 6 does not represent relatively difficult conditions for the batsman to play on.
In summary, the alternate table incorporates a switch of composite group 5 from the tougher A to easier B group.
The A (10-6) and B (5-2) broad groups summary for top 40 batsmen
The other factor to look at is the % of runs scored in the A group. Lara, Border, Chanderpaul and a host of English batsmen led by Gooch belong to the list of batsmen who have over 60%.
I started this odyssey about 9 months back. I have had nearly ten articles on the same. The Readers' response has been fantastic. We have kept on improving and I am quite happy with what we have achieved finally. There will obviously be differing views. That is fine. But I am certain that the journey covering this complex area over the past 9 months has been truly worthwhile. I myself have learnt a lot. I am sure the same would apply to most readers. I think I can confidently say that we, as a team, have done justice to the batsmen who faced the twin formidable adversaries, bowlers and pitch conditions, very effectively. Now I will switch to analysing the bowlers.
To download/view the document containing the Innings values of BPI, PTI and BQI, please click/right-click here.
To download/view the revised table containing the A & B group values for all 263 batsmen please click/right-click here.
Arjum Hemnani's request: To download/view the revised table containing the 9 group values for all 263 batsmen please click/right-click here.
Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems