June 1, 2012

A statistical analysis dissecting the extraordinary Test batting career of Don Bradman
267

He scored heavily: Others also did.
He started well: Not at all, he was not a great starter.
His hundreds were big: So what, many other also had big 100s.
He had a great defence: Quite a few other batsmen probably had better defence.
His temperament was great: Maybe, but Hobbs and Gavaskar et al also had excellent temperament.
He scored fast: Yes, possibly, but quite a few others scored faster.

So where did he get his near-100 average, around 65% higher than the next best. I will try to answer this question in objective terms.

First the criteria for selection of the list of batsmen. I do not want to lower the level to 2000 Test runs. This is a career of around 25 Tests and is too short for a study like this. I know that I will lose Pollock and Headley when I go above this point, but they played too few Tests to be of any real help in this analysis. At the end of 20 Tests, Hussey averaged 80 and Trott, 65. So this is too low a level. After a lot of deliberation I have fixed 4000 Test runs, approximately a Test career of 50 Tests, as the cut-off. This gives me 112 batsmen, a very decent selection.

First let me look at areas in which Bradman was decidedly human and failed more than many other batsmen. I will demonstrate this through a special graph as well as a table. The graph is more a player positioning chart than a routine graph. There are 3 related charts in each graph. In general the batsmen shown in relative positions are Bradman, top three and bottom two batsmen. The mean is also shown. There is no need to anything other than the normal Arithmetic Mean.

Graph of zeroes and single-digit dismissals

Bradman had seven zeroes out of 80 innings, which works to 8.8%. He was worse than most batsmen in the selected group. Out of 112 batsmen, he was 97th. A very average performer indeed. The best time to get Bradman was before he scored: and this happened once in 11 innings.

Why zero? A 1 or 3 or 8 is also a failure. So I expand the definition of a real failure to a single digit dismissal. Very few will argue with this. There may be rare instances of single digit dismissals which are good innings but let us ignore those. Bradman had 14 such instances, more than once in six attempts. His average was a very poor 2.2. So low that he is ranked LAST in the list of 112 batsmen. Yes, last, I repeat. This average does not make much of a difference in the overall context. However that means the string of Bradman's low scores was really low. Ah! we have located another Achilles heel. Get that shorty before he reached 10. You probably have won the match.

But the numbers do not tell the complete story. The batsmen in our selected set have played between 80 and 311 innings. So what we need is a % of the total innings played. This is the correct method of measuring success or failure. Bradman has failed in 17.5% of his career innings. But now we begin to see some daylight. Bradman is slowly moving up. There are others better than him, but he is placed in the 6th position. Pretty good. This also gives us a clue to what we are looking for. The specific averages seem comparable but the frequency of failures or successes may provide the clue. Anyhow lot more work needs to be done. The related table is given below.

Zeros  Sub-10
BatsmanCtyInnsNum%AvgeNum%

Hobbs J.BEng10243.9%3.21312.7%
Sutcliffe HEng8422.4%4.41214.3%
Hammond W.REng14042.9%3.72417.1%
Hutton LEng13853.6%3.62417.4%
Kanhai R.BWin13775.1%3.42417.5%
Dexter E.REng10265.9%2.71918.6%
Sangakkara K.CSlk18373.8%3.53519.1%
Sobers G.St.AWin160127.5%3.23119.4%
Graveney T.WEng12386.5%2.82419.5%
Hayden M.LAus184147.6%3.13619.6%
Barrington K.FEng13153.8%3.62619.8%
Lloyd C.HWin17542.3%4.43520.0%
Katich S.MAus9944.0%3.02020.2%
Wright J.GNzl14874.7%3.23020.3%
Compton D.C.SEng131107.6%2.62720.6%
Smith G.CSaf174105.7%3.43620.7%
Kallis J.HSaf257145.4%3.65421.0%
Gower D.IEng20473.4%4.64321.1%

I am going to move forward a little to my next group of graph/table. Without in any way conferring any additional credit for crossing these landmarks, I will use 100 and 150 merely as convenient cut-off points.

Graph of 100-plus and 150-plus scores

Let us first look at the 100-plus scores. The additional cut-off is that there should have been ten such scores. The average of these scores for Bradman is an impressive 186.0. Quite impressive indeed, until you look at the others following close behind. Zaheer Abbas is quite close behind with an average of nearly 180. And then Sehwag and Lara follow closely and are within 10-12 runs of Bradman's average. So Bradman is leading here, but nowhere with a dominating lead.

Now we will take the innings in which the batsmen crossed 150. This time the cut-off is 5 such scores. The average of these scores for Bradman is an impressive 225.8. Very impressive, until we see that Chris Gayle (why isn't he in whites, walking in with Barath/Powell ?), who averages even higher. He clocks in at 231.8. Then Jayasuriya is closely behind at 225.0. So Bradman is not even the leader in this sub-analysis.

Now let us look at this from another angle. Let us look at the frequency of such occurrences. Again, there is clear daylight. Bradman has crossed the 100 mark on 36.8% of the occasions, nearly double that of the next batsman. He has scored 150+ in an astonishing 22.5% of the batting forays. Next placed is Weekes, with 8.6%. Now we are beginning to get a handle on what made Bradman click. His frequency of crossing high landmarks was well over double of the others. Once he reached there, he and the others performed at par.

100s  150s
BatsmanCtyInnsAvgeNum%AvgeNum%

Zaheer AbbasPak124179.8129.7%207.886.5%
Sehwag VInd167176.32213.2%209.5148.4%
Fleming S.PNzl189176.194.8%220.852.6%
Lara B.CWin232173.23414.7%214.0198.2%
Jayasuriya S.TSlk188168.3147.4%225.063.2%
Hammond W.REng140167.52215.7%222.7107.1%
Gayle C.HWin159166.8138.2%231.863.8%
Simpson R.BAus111164.6109.0%203.265.4%
Sangakkara K.CSlk183163.32815.3%204.5147.7%
Atapattu M.SSlk156161.51610.3%206.585.1%
Jayawardene D.PSlk217159.43114.3%210.4146.5%
Gibbs H.HSaf154159.0149.1%192.974.5%
Dexter E.REng102157.398.8%180.654.9%
Hutton LEng138156.11913.8%197.1107.2%
Younis KhanPak133155.52015.0%214.175.3%
Gooch G.AEng215152.1209.3%194.683.7%
de Villiers A.BSaf125151.51310.4%195.064.8%
Sobers G.St.AWin160150.72616.2%189.8116.9%

For the third set of table/graph, which is going to be the defining one, I am going to work on 50 as a cut-off point. In fact I am going to take 50 runs as a point at which the batsman can be said to have done well. 50 is anyhow the minimum average we expect in top batsmen. And since we are doing a comparison exercise, the figure of 50 will remain the same for all batsmen, Bradman to Healy.

And let me say this. If anyone comes out with a comment that there have been great 40s and awful 60s, the comment will not see the light of the day.

Graph of sub-50 and 50-plus scores

First let us take the sub-50 scores. Bradman averages 18.4, which is well below a few other batsmen, 32 to be exact. So even in this relatively acceptable failure category, Bradman is ordinary, as ordinary as many other batsmen.

Now we come to the crunch point. What about the 50-plus scores.

I think we have got it. Bradman's average for 50-plus innings is a huge 149.9, He is nearly 30% ahead of the next best. Translate this bland number. Every time he reached 50, 42 times in all, while he raised his bat, he was mentally taking guard to add 100 runs to his score, on an average. If this single statement does not prove Bradman's exalted status as a batsman, nothing else will.

But lo and behold, he has also done this a remarkable 52.5% of the times he batted in. This is 10% more than the next best batsmen.

This is the only analysis point wherein Bradman has averaged well above the next best and has had a frequency much higher than the next best. In all other criteria, either his average is comparable or the frequency is comparable. Not in this. And let me do a back-of-stamp calculation. When I multiply these two differential values for selected batsmen, I get 50-60% which is almost the same as his overall superiority.

Sub-50  50 +
BatsmanCtyInnsAvgeNum%AvgeNum%

Hammond W.REng14020.99467.1%114.94632.9%
Lara B.CWin23217.715064.7%113.48235.3%
Sehwag VInd16718.211367.7%113.35432.3%
Atapattu M.SSlk15614.412378.8%113.13321.2%
Zaheer AbbasPak12416.09274.2%112.23225.8%
Sangakkara K.CSlk18318.811763.9%108.86636.1%
Clarke M.JAus13817.19770.3%108.24129.7%
Jayawardene D.PSlk21718.614566.8%107.67233.2%
Younis KhanPak13317.78866.2%107.64533.8%
Crowe M.DNzl13118.09673.3%106.23526.7%
Sobers G.St.AWin16020.210465.0%105.85635.0%
Pietersen K.PEng14519.410069.0%105.84531.0%
de Silva P.ASlk15916.611773.6%105.34226.4%
EdeC WeekesWin8118.64758.0%105.33442.0%
Hayden M.LAus18419.412567.9%105.25932.1%
Tendulkar S.RInd31117.519562.7%103.911637.3%
Gibbs H.HSaf15417.911474.0%103.24026.0%
Smith G.CSaf17419.411867.8%102.85632.2%
Slater M.JAus13118.09673.3%102.43526.7%

Finally a table/graph looking at this from a different angle. This looks at the average number of balls he faced per innings and his average runs per innings, leading to the average scoring rate.

Graph of runs per innings, balls per innings and scoring rate

Bradman averages 149 balls per innings. This is 12% ahead of the next best one. His career strike rate is 58.3, which, if not the best, is in the top-15 out of the 112 selected batsmen. The way-out BpI value coupled with the quite high Strike rate leads to the impressive value of 87.5 runs per innings.

BatsmanCtyRuns/InnsBalls/InnsSt Rate

EdeC WeekesWin55.0115.347.7
Sutcliffe HEng54.2134.140.4
Hobbs J.BEng53.0110.148.2
Barrington K.FEng52.0123.242.2
Hammond W.REng51.8115.844.7
Lara B.CWin51.585.160.5
Sangakkara K.CSlk51.394.754.2
Hutton LEng50.5127.139.7
Sobers G.St.AWin50.2103.048.7
Tendulkar S.RInd49.791.954.1
Sehwag VInd49.059.782.0
Kallis J.HSaf48.2105.645.6
Younis KhanPak48.190.353.3
Jayawardene D.PSlk48.192.951.8
Ponting R.TAus47.380.558.8
Chappell G.SAus47.192.251.1
Richards I.V.AWin46.972.564.8

Now for a final collection of related figures. I am sure readers might want to know about the quality of bowling faced by Bradman. First let me say this. Only a cricketing ignoramus would say that the bowling faced by Bradman was not good. Amongst the bowlers Bradman faced were Larwood, Verity, Bowes, Voce, Robins, Alec Bedser, Griffith, Constantine, Laker and Mankad: most of these bowlers had bowling averages below 30.0. Only the South African bowlers were average. Overall the average quality of bowling (AQB) faced by Bradman works out to 35.9. This is based on the CTD bowling figures and the reciprocal method of working. The range of AQB is 28.5 to 46.6 and the mean is 34.4. So one could say that Bradman faced, on the whole, slightly below-par bowling. Just to give a reference point, the AQB values for Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Graeme Smith are above 36.0.

Let me do a final summary.

1. When Bradman failed, he failed in a big way. He failed often, more than the others. Until he reached 50, he was quite human.
2. When he posted big scores, he was very good but only comparable to the other equally good players in these aspects of the game.
3. It is at the level of 50 that he completely overshadowed others. He reached this level over 50% of the time and posted an average of nearly 150 when he crossed 50. These two factors together account for the 60% increase he had in the key measures.
4. From a different angle, he posted a way-above figure on the Balls per innings and boasted of a very high career strike rate. These two factors together also account for the 60% increase he had in the key measures.

To download/view the Special table containing the information requested for by Arjun (Averege of innings factors based on innings highest score at 1.00) and Gerry (Average Bowling Quality faced for scores of 50 and above), please click/right-click here. This also contains an additional data field which is Batting Average * 30.0 / Career ABQ.

It is certain that Bradman possessed non-quantifiable skills which enabled him to reach the pinnacle, leaving everyone far behind. Enough has been written about that. Here I have only tried to look at the mundane figures. Somewhere earlier in the article I had mentioned shorty in a flippant manner. Short Bradman might have been in stature, but he stands tall, very tall indeed. And hopefully now we know why Bradman clicked.

### Easier analysed than done !!!

Since my tennis elbow is troubling me a lot I will be responding to many remarks with pre-formed boiler-plate responses generated through a key macro program. However let me assure the readers that I always read the responses in full.

Without bringing in anything else into the picture, it is necessary to briefly recapitulate the wonderful performance of Anand, winning his fifth World Chess title, fourth in succession and the toughest to date. Gelfand proved to be a tough nut to crack and Anand, to his credit, has said so right from he beginning. He is adding a few very significant bold lines to his biography and strengthens his claim to being called India's best sportsman ever. The only appropriate words needed during this epic occasion are expressions of recognition, approbation and appreciation.

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

• Bulstem on August 28, 2012, 0:32 GMT

I believe these 3 Test Cricket Performances will probably never be eclipsed:

The Don's Batting Average (99.94) Murali's Wickets (800) Boucher's Dismissals (555)

So WHY don't I include Sachin's 51 Hundreds? Or his 15k+ Test Runs? Jacques Kallis, that is why...

He's not written up or idolised like so many others (did somebody mention 'holy cows'?) and yet his average is still the highest for players with 10 000 or more runs. Next 56+ average when going down the list is Sangakkara... and they are both currently in the top 4 of the ICC Test Batsmen rankings.

How long will they keep producing the goods? Kallis scored some of his finest Hundreds and his 2 double hundreds in the last few years... Sangakkara has been top of the ICC rankings for some time... they are (near enough) 37 and 35 years old now and they are ageing quite well... so nobody knows.

Surely Sachin's supporters will be quick to try and prove how wrong I am ;-)

Reality Check: we won't know until they all retire!

• Vaibhav Sharma on August 22, 2012, 20:01 GMT

Hey Itz a wonderful article. I agree that Bradman was totaaly class apart in his consistency, strike rate, RpI with difficult pitches, less( or no) protective gears and that is the reason he is regarded as the best batsman ever. One thing which I did not like was that one need not pull down someone other ( here SRT) to reinforce the greatness of other person....I am sorry to say that I observed this in not only readers' comments but also in your comments and articles.

Lets accept that fact that Don was the greatest but then that does not mean that people should undermine the achievements of others. Even I find it odd to compare SRT with GOD but it is not his fault that he has earned so much money or played long enough to have those stats.

This was the only negative thing I could make out from your article. In fact mentioning Anand's case in the end of the article also seemed deliberate to me.

• Meety on July 2, 2012, 3:57 GMT

@Ravi - with respect to Wes Hall, he was in an era that utilised the back foot no-ball rule which meant his release point was a lot closer to the batsmen than todays speedsters. So I have no doubt he would of been a fearsome sight, imagine what would of happenned if Patrick Patterson was operating under the old no-ball rules!!!!!!!!

• Bheem on June 21, 2012, 8:59 GMT

(cont)The majority will go to extreeme lengths at time to counter the annoying and uncomfortable facts that can be easily pointed out on this topic. This is called Cognitive Dissonance. Once you have been constantly hammered about Bradman thru your formative yrs we grow up believing 99.94 to be the ultimate truth similar to religious beliefs and superstitions. Even though later in life we figure out that these make no logical sense we find it impossible to abandon those beliefs and we even go to the extent of defending them. This is the reflex reaction of the mind to try and reduce the dissonance and help restore the original belief. This is what happens on most discussions involving Bradman especially when Video evidences are presented. People go to all sorts of extreemes to discredit the evidence. Deep down everybody knows that there is a day and night difference between the cricket played back then to what it is now. Which is why we should never mix stats of modern era with old era [[ Let Bheem have the last word. No more comments/responses on this particlular theme will be published. Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 21, 2012, 8:51 GMT

@David, Moviemaker plays at 30FPS so the frames are 0.03 secs apart. Sorry there was a typo in the second speed that I mentioned at rel it should be 03.98.So the avg release point falls between 03.96 and 03.97 lets take it to be 03.96 and we get a timing of 0.45 secs which gives us a speed of 141 kmph. Agree about the bat meeting the ball ahead of the crease and confirms my point about the actual distance travelled being shorter than 17.68mtrs and negates any other errors. Also the speed gun calculates speed at release. This is why if you use Movie maker and rely on the timer you get very close to the displayed speed. Works on other videos too @Ananth this is why I said that once we scratch the surface and start to scrutinize things there are plenty of holes in the Bradman legend. Its just that since vast majority don't prefer to let facts get in the way of what is a very good story it becomes very difficult for those who like to state opinions based on tangible evidence(contd..)

• shrikanthk on June 19, 2012, 2:28 GMT

And this was supposed to be an article which discussed why Bradman averaged 60% more than the next best guy in his era. Something which cannot be explained in my opinion by anybody. [[ And let us close the line of reasoning there. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 19, 2012, 0:31 GMT

@Bheem, I looked at the Steyn/SRT clip and your calculations, and I believe them to be wrong in several ways.

1. A difference of 0.02 seconds between your two start time options is meaningless, since the youtube clip is 25fps = 0.04 sec/frame. Your software is giving you figures that can't possibly exist.

2. I encoded the file in 3 different ways; using Movie Maker I got a best time for each version of 0.48 sec = 132.6km/h.

3. When you look at the side-on shot at the end of the clip, you see that Steyn's arm reaches maximum height in line with the crease, but SRT's bat meets the ball at least 1 metre in front of the crease. This reduces the distance to about 16.5m. Even if we take your minimum time (0.44 sec), that works out at 135 km/h, although my calculations (using 0.48 sec) suggest 124 km/h. Either way, the result is consistently LOWER than the broadcast speed.

Ananth, 0.44 sec is the MINIMUM time; I would expect the true speed to fall WITHIN the range, not 5% outside.

• Ravi on June 18, 2012, 21:27 GMT

Srikanthk, you misunderstood. I meant Alan Davidson also said Wes Hall was a scary one to face. Good pace and delivery from a height must have made him very hard to play.

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 17:12 GMT

Some priceless footage of Bob Massie demolishing England in his debut test in 1972!

This guy is basically a swing bowler who appears to operate in the low 120s range (about the same pace as Bowes or maybe marginally faster). I agree he didn't have a great career. But this video just goes to show how effective medium pacers can be in England given the right conditions.

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 17:06 GMT

Ravi : The highlights of the Tied test is available online. Wes Hall is sharp no doubt.

Davidson on the other hand was not really an outright quick bowler. He was a fast medium bowler who bowled with great accuracy and control of swing.

Some footage of Davidson from the 1958-59 series -

• Bulstem on August 28, 2012, 0:32 GMT

I believe these 3 Test Cricket Performances will probably never be eclipsed:

The Don's Batting Average (99.94) Murali's Wickets (800) Boucher's Dismissals (555)

So WHY don't I include Sachin's 51 Hundreds? Or his 15k+ Test Runs? Jacques Kallis, that is why...

He's not written up or idolised like so many others (did somebody mention 'holy cows'?) and yet his average is still the highest for players with 10 000 or more runs. Next 56+ average when going down the list is Sangakkara... and they are both currently in the top 4 of the ICC Test Batsmen rankings.

How long will they keep producing the goods? Kallis scored some of his finest Hundreds and his 2 double hundreds in the last few years... Sangakkara has been top of the ICC rankings for some time... they are (near enough) 37 and 35 years old now and they are ageing quite well... so nobody knows.

Surely Sachin's supporters will be quick to try and prove how wrong I am ;-)

Reality Check: we won't know until they all retire!

• Vaibhav Sharma on August 22, 2012, 20:01 GMT

Hey Itz a wonderful article. I agree that Bradman was totaaly class apart in his consistency, strike rate, RpI with difficult pitches, less( or no) protective gears and that is the reason he is regarded as the best batsman ever. One thing which I did not like was that one need not pull down someone other ( here SRT) to reinforce the greatness of other person....I am sorry to say that I observed this in not only readers' comments but also in your comments and articles.

Lets accept that fact that Don was the greatest but then that does not mean that people should undermine the achievements of others. Even I find it odd to compare SRT with GOD but it is not his fault that he has earned so much money or played long enough to have those stats.

This was the only negative thing I could make out from your article. In fact mentioning Anand's case in the end of the article also seemed deliberate to me.

• Meety on July 2, 2012, 3:57 GMT

@Ravi - with respect to Wes Hall, he was in an era that utilised the back foot no-ball rule which meant his release point was a lot closer to the batsmen than todays speedsters. So I have no doubt he would of been a fearsome sight, imagine what would of happenned if Patrick Patterson was operating under the old no-ball rules!!!!!!!!

• Bheem on June 21, 2012, 8:59 GMT

(cont)The majority will go to extreeme lengths at time to counter the annoying and uncomfortable facts that can be easily pointed out on this topic. This is called Cognitive Dissonance. Once you have been constantly hammered about Bradman thru your formative yrs we grow up believing 99.94 to be the ultimate truth similar to religious beliefs and superstitions. Even though later in life we figure out that these make no logical sense we find it impossible to abandon those beliefs and we even go to the extent of defending them. This is the reflex reaction of the mind to try and reduce the dissonance and help restore the original belief. This is what happens on most discussions involving Bradman especially when Video evidences are presented. People go to all sorts of extreemes to discredit the evidence. Deep down everybody knows that there is a day and night difference between the cricket played back then to what it is now. Which is why we should never mix stats of modern era with old era [[ Let Bheem have the last word. No more comments/responses on this particlular theme will be published. Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 21, 2012, 8:51 GMT

@David, Moviemaker plays at 30FPS so the frames are 0.03 secs apart. Sorry there was a typo in the second speed that I mentioned at rel it should be 03.98.So the avg release point falls between 03.96 and 03.97 lets take it to be 03.96 and we get a timing of 0.45 secs which gives us a speed of 141 kmph. Agree about the bat meeting the ball ahead of the crease and confirms my point about the actual distance travelled being shorter than 17.68mtrs and negates any other errors. Also the speed gun calculates speed at release. This is why if you use Movie maker and rely on the timer you get very close to the displayed speed. Works on other videos too @Ananth this is why I said that once we scratch the surface and start to scrutinize things there are plenty of holes in the Bradman legend. Its just that since vast majority don't prefer to let facts get in the way of what is a very good story it becomes very difficult for those who like to state opinions based on tangible evidence(contd..)

• shrikanthk on June 19, 2012, 2:28 GMT

And this was supposed to be an article which discussed why Bradman averaged 60% more than the next best guy in his era. Something which cannot be explained in my opinion by anybody. [[ And let us close the line of reasoning there. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 19, 2012, 0:31 GMT

@Bheem, I looked at the Steyn/SRT clip and your calculations, and I believe them to be wrong in several ways.

1. A difference of 0.02 seconds between your two start time options is meaningless, since the youtube clip is 25fps = 0.04 sec/frame. Your software is giving you figures that can't possibly exist.

2. I encoded the file in 3 different ways; using Movie Maker I got a best time for each version of 0.48 sec = 132.6km/h.

3. When you look at the side-on shot at the end of the clip, you see that Steyn's arm reaches maximum height in line with the crease, but SRT's bat meets the ball at least 1 metre in front of the crease. This reduces the distance to about 16.5m. Even if we take your minimum time (0.44 sec), that works out at 135 km/h, although my calculations (using 0.48 sec) suggest 124 km/h. Either way, the result is consistently LOWER than the broadcast speed.

Ananth, 0.44 sec is the MINIMUM time; I would expect the true speed to fall WITHIN the range, not 5% outside.

• Ravi on June 18, 2012, 21:27 GMT

Srikanthk, you misunderstood. I meant Alan Davidson also said Wes Hall was a scary one to face. Good pace and delivery from a height must have made him very hard to play.

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 17:12 GMT

Some priceless footage of Bob Massie demolishing England in his debut test in 1972!

This guy is basically a swing bowler who appears to operate in the low 120s range (about the same pace as Bowes or maybe marginally faster). I agree he didn't have a great career. But this video just goes to show how effective medium pacers can be in England given the right conditions.

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 17:06 GMT

Ravi : The highlights of the Tied test is available online. Wes Hall is sharp no doubt.

Davidson on the other hand was not really an outright quick bowler. He was a fast medium bowler who bowled with great accuracy and control of swing.

Some footage of Davidson from the 1958-59 series -

• Bheem on June 18, 2012, 14:08 GMT

Ananth, I know who CMJ is and whatever he wrote about Bowes is atbest a second hand account. You are free to take whatever is written on Wisden at face value but I prefer to trust my own eyes. I will tell you why if you insist but thats a whole another different topic in itself. And yes I have a bias and it is to the truth.

@shrikanth : Got any bowlers from the last 30-35 yrs who avged 16 in FC cricket ?

And I was not the one that brought up Bowes ... it was done in the article itself where Bowes was listed alongside Bedser, Voce, Verity,Larwood etc as being one of the bowlers who avged below 30 and hence considered quality bowlers. So if you are now convinced that Bowes doesnt belong at the top of the bowling ranks ( certainly not in the manner as how Marshall, Amby, Donald etc belong in the Modern day list of top bowlers) we can move ahead and pick the next best guy in that list : Alec Bedser. [[ I think it is high time we close this line of discussion. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 18, 2012, 13:08 GMT

Shrikanthk, I'm certainly no expert, but I think the broadcasters either use a radar speed gun, or they use Hawkeye, which builds up a 3D image from multiple cameras. Neither method, therefore, needs to make adjustments to their measurements: the radar, because it only tracks a small part of the trajectory anyway; Hawkeye, because it creates its own 3D image (which is the effect of adding 3m to the trajectory in my calculations).

The original high speed cameras used, for example, in the "Fastest bowler in the world" competitions of the late 70s, filmed from side-on, and tracked the ball for a short distance after it was released from the hand. Again, no need to account for height or bounce in this method.

Interestingly, NO ONE tries to measure bowling speed using film footage down the length of the pitch. It's either radar from down the pitch, or film footage from other angles, especially side on.

• Ravi on June 18, 2012, 8:30 GMT

David/Ananth: Speaking of fast bowlers and their speeds, my dad tells me of WES HALL whom he had seen in action in Nagpur in 1967 and always says that he was a frightening proposition. And ditto from from Alan Davidson. On this forum Wes Hall and Griffith hardly get a mention. Do we know more about them from their records (192 wickets for Hall @26 and under 3RPO is pretty good I think), videos, player accounts etc? [[ Ultimately, Ravi, it is not the speed which is of relevance. Today's batsmen face today's (fast) bowlers, completely equipped and protected by guards of different kinds and by cricket laws. Yesterday's (and day-before-yesterday's) batsmen faced those "day's" bowlers not equipped with equipment of any kind and not protected by laws. This is something today's generation conveniently forgets. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 2:53 GMT

Another case -

Derek Shackleton of Hampshire and England. FC average of 18.6! Right arm medium pace bowler. Slower than Bowes by most accounts. This guy retired in 1969!

There you go. Bowes, with an average of 17, is by no means this exceptional case from the 30s. Even as late as the 60s/early 70s, bowlers slower than Bowes enjoyed similar level of success in English conditions - conditions that are unique in the cricketing world. [[ Somewhere there can we let the nicely buried Bowes stay buried. His ghost is haunting me in the nights. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 2:46 GMT

Slight correction - Tom Cartwright averaged 19 in FC cricket. Not 21.

In our own era, a medium pacer like Glen Chapple of Lancashire (a giant of the county scene over the past 20 years) averages 26 with the ball. This is the era of totally covered wickets, improved tail-end batting, heavy bats, Kolpak players and overseas professionals with test experience. Yet someone like Chapple averages 26!!

Just goes to show that FC cricket in England is a totally different cup of tea. Batting is fundamentally difficult in that country given the highly variable conditions. Within a single season, batting in May is a LOT more difficult than batting in August!

No wonder they celebrate milestones like "1000 runs in May"! If you examine the career averages of bowlers in the month of May only, you may find some bowlers averaging 10-15 throughout their careers!

That's English cricket for you.

• shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 2:38 GMT

Bheem: First of all, Bowes played in 15 test matches, most of them in familiar conditions. Some of them against a hopeless Sub-FC standard team like India. 22 isn't a sacred figure.

You simply don't read anything at all into a bowling average over 15 test matches! It's cricket illiteracy to read too much into it.

Regarding English FC averages: Prior to 1970, the bowling averages were very, very low in general. There are reasons for that. There weren't as many overseas professionals playing in county cricket, which meant an admittedly lower standard. Also the pitches were uncovered (unlike the test matches where they used to be protected to a greater extent). Even in the 50s, you had a medium pacer like Bob Appleyard who averaged 15 in FC cricket. In the 60s (which is close enough to our own era), we had Tom Cartwright - another medium pacer who averaged 21 in FC cricket.

Bowes, at any rate, was faster than these guys. Average of 17 not all that surprising.

• Bheem on June 17, 2012, 21:52 GMT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdZNF9hzoMU results i got : start = between 00:03.95 and 00:03.97 end = 00:04.41 . Time diff = 0.46sec = 3.6*17.68/0.46 = 138.36kph or = 3.6*17.68/0.44 = 144.6. Fairly close to the actual speed displayed of 141.3 I also clocked the ball that Bowes balled to DGB ( @ 2:14) in the video I posted earlier. Release = 2:14.46 or 2:14.49 and @ 2:14.99 the ball is clearly visible between DGB's bat and his legs and the bat is still horizontal and is atleast 2 frames away from meeting the ball. This works out to a avg speed of about 123 and that would be on the very high end because we are pretending that bat has met the ball at 02:14.99. Adding just one frame will bring down the speed to 117. So from all evidence it is clear that Bowes is bowling nowhere near the speeds expected of fast bowler avging 22. reg release : will get some sqr on footage @Ananth: I simply dont trust written accounts from that era. They are notoriously embellished to say the least. [[ Bheem I am sorry to say that your bias is showing. First Christopher Martin-Jenkins is today's crieket writer. He is younger than Ian Chappell and Tony Greig. Second the Wisden Obituary team is a world-wide respected team and this eulogy was written by the-then team of 1987. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 17, 2012, 17:50 GMT

I suspect my results were under target because the method assumes the trajectory of the ball is a horizontal line (18.9m; 17.68m, etc). In actual fact, you must add up to 3m to the trajectory to account for the height of the bowling arm and the degree of bounce

Terrific analysis, David! I wonder if the timers used by the broadcasters factors all this in.

• David on June 17, 2012, 12:47 GMT

(... cont'd)

For those two Steyn deliveries (the 2nd and 3rd I analysed), I give my results (a range) followed by the actual speed as measured by the broadcaster:

* 127-133km/h; 143.7km/h * 138-145km/h; 148.5km/h

Conclusions: 1. It's possible, with home video analysis, to compare RELATIVE speeds (which delivery is faster, which is slower), but not ACTUAL speeds - but only if the video quality is good (anything post 1990). 2. I suspect my results were under target because the method assumes the trajectory of the ball is a horizontal line (18.9m; 17.68m, etc). In actual fact, you must add up to 3m to the trajectory to account for the height of the bowling arm and the degree of bounce. 3. Bowes was tall; that is agreed by all. That would tend to skew our analysis results even further up than for other bowlers, esp. since contemporary accounts note the significant bounce he extracted. 4. Saying Bowes was Kumble-paced on the basis of home video equipment is not credible. [[ The second Steyn delivery analysis is very illuminating since you have come to within 10% of the actual speed. Finally, on Bowes C M_J says "" Bill Bowes, tall, raw-boned (???) and bespectacled, was a bowler with a great sbility with the new ball, having control of swing either way, although not as fast as some of hic contemporaries. He could make the ball kick and would bowl a few bouncers to test the batsman's nerve and technique. Sometime he bowled leg-theory to a packed leg-field. "" Given below is the Wisden obituary. "" Wisden obituary William Eric "Bill" Bowes, who died in hospital on September 5, 1987, aged 79, was one of the great bowlers of his day. He is often, for convenience, loosely classed as fast, but Robertson-Glasgow, writing in the early days of the war, described him, correctly, as the most difficult fast-medium bowler in England. It was, no doubt, partly because he never tried to acquire the extra yard or two of pace which would have put him indisputably in the ranks of the fast that he was such a fine bowler. And like most of the great, he came off the pitch faster than the batsman expected. "" I think that is enough. One thing is certain. There is bound to a lot of churning in a grave in Otley, Yorkshire with the amount of discussion and analysis on Bowes. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 17, 2012, 12:35 GMT

Analysis:

Holding was just as difficult as Bowes to analyse: the film was jumpy (repeated frames and skipped frames) and the ball was not always visible due to compression lossiness in the film. In the 1st dismissal I had to guess when it hit the pad, and this, combined with the film jumpiness contributed to such an extreme range of possible results (122-159km/h = 37km/h range). The 2nd was easier for visibility, but not for film jumpiness.

The Steyn bowled dismissal was the easiest of all 5 - good visibility and no jumping, so the final result SHOULD be accurate to +/- 6km/h, BUT PROBABLY ISN'T! (Read on ...)

The 2nd & 3rd Steyn deliveries I analysed had the same high visibility and film smoothness, but with minor uncertainty re how close to the crease the batsman was struck (bowled is less open to interpretation). So the results should be reasonable.

HOWEVER, the footage displays the ACTUAL SPEED of these deliveries: in reality, my results were significantly LOWER. (Cont'd)

• David on June 17, 2012, 12:25 GMT

Ananth, you're right; applying the method to modern bowlers is very illuminating. I looked at a total of 5 deliveries from 3 clips (all from youtube) - 3 deliveries for Steyn, 2 for Holding.

Holding (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IQ-UGwZdKM): * 1st wicket on clip: LBW on the crease = 17.68m; 10-13 frames = 122-159km/h * 3rd wicket on clip: bowled = 18.9m; 12-13 frames = 131-142km/h

Steyn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ88qhwnMZ0): * 1st wicket on clip: bowled = 18.9m; 12 frames = 142km/h (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZqgAMl3CPw&feature=related): * 1st delivery on clip: hits glove on crease = 17.68m; 12-12.5 frames = 127-133km/h * 3rd delivery on clip: hits bat on crease = 17.68m; 11-11.5 frames = 138-145km/h

Analysis in next entry ...

• David on June 17, 2012, 11:26 GMT

(... cont'd) Finally, after having analysed the footage, it is my view that the quality and nature of the film doesn't allow you to be so confident about the accuracy of your timings. When I looked frame by frame, it was clear that some frames were repeated while others were skipped. Is that error due to the way Pinnacle translated the footage (eg, did Pinnacle reduce a 30fps clip to 25fps?); or were there errors in converting the original film to flv for the web (again, because of different frame rates between original and copy); or was the original film itself "jumpy", having been filmed on equipment that wasn't nearly as precise as modern equipment? I can't answer any of those questions with any confidence, which leaves me with the conclusion that compounding the various error margins gives me a possible speed variability of 20 km/h. Even with modern footage of Steyn, I expect to get the same variability using domestic standard video editing software.

• David on June 17, 2012, 11:18 GMT

Bheem, I take your point about 18.9m - although this only makes a difference of 2 km/h either way, and is taken into account in the variability of ball-release position.

Speaking of which, I believe you're wrong to claim that the ball must be released ahead of the popping crease: I have looked at side-on footage of fast bowlers (Steyn, also the "World's fastest bowler competition of 1979"), and the arm always reaches maximum vertical extension (the point I took my calculations from) either on or behind the popping crease. With a slower bowler like Bowes, without seeing perfectly side-on footage, it's impossible to tell whether the arm reached this point in front of, at, or behind the crease. Add to this the back foot no ball rule: with a slower bowler, does he have a shorter delivery stride and therefore release the ball significantly behind the popping crease, or is Bowes so tall that his stride is unusually long? Without good side-on footage it's impossible to tell. (Cont'd)

• shrikanthk on June 17, 2012, 5:27 GMT

More footage from the 3rd test of 1948

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/1948-test-cricket-england-v-australia-1/query/1948+Test

Features Alec Bedser at 00:28 (by most accounts, slower than Bowes). Also features Lindwall and Miller in the latter part of the video.

• Bheem on June 16, 2012, 22:19 GMT

David, You have the length of pitch wrong it should be 18.9m(poppcrease-stumps). Also I rely on the time counter and not frames . I dunno about pinnacle but win movie maker has one. Also I would just use the time diff between release (01:34.83) and the time the bat comes down and goes ahead of the pads(anywhere between 01:35.43 and 01:35.53). But lets assume the earliest frame which works out to 0.6s which gives us a speed of 3.6*17.68/0.6 = 106kmph. Lets further round it up to 110kmph. Keep in mind that the release point is actually ahead of the popping crease given the body dynamics involved in bowling. So this negates any errors working against the speed calc(which itself is in favor of Bowes). This figure is consistent with reaction times and follow-thru's of slower bowlers from my personal experience.

But thanks for taking the trouble to scrutinize the video. [[ Can you apply your variation to a modern bowler likeSteyn. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 16, 2012, 14:41 GMT

Interesting clips from the 3rd test of the '32-33 Ashes series. It covers that period of play when a riot threatened to break out at Adeleide.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-third-test/query/Bodyline

It also features what was arguably Bradman's most embarrassing dismissal of his career (fending Larwood to short leg).

A few more clips from the 5th test of the 1936-37 series.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/australia-wins-fifth-test-retains-ashes-aka-5th-1/query/1936+Test

This was the game wherein Bradman, McCabe and Badcock all got hundreds on a flat MCG deck. The video also features Ken Farnes - a rather unusual action I thought.

• shrikanthk on June 16, 2012, 14:22 GMT

Some footage from England Vs Victoria tour game from 1932

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/england-win-first-test-1932/query/1932+Test

(Please ignore the title. It is NOT from the test match).

Disclaimer: I am not making any argument here. Just wanted to share a rare clip.

In this clip, you see Victoria's lower order batsmen facing Gubby Allen and Bill Voce. O'Brein is the only middle-order bat who averaged less than 40 in FC (doesn't look too comfortable against short ball). The rest of the batsmen are mostly tailenders/WK having a swipe.

Interesting :)

Voce looks sharp enough. But still not as quick as Allen, leave alone Larwood.

• shrikanthk on June 16, 2012, 13:58 GMT

David: Good effort there. But I am not sure why we are doing this... Neither you nor I insist that Bowes was a fast bowler. That doesn't mean he's a bad bowler. And to be honest he did nothing wrong in that video that was shared. He bowled some good length balls which were pretty much on target. DGB did well to whip one of them to the mid-wicket boundary (First ball of the day by the way).

Woodfull exposed his leg stump at the fag end of the 1st day possibly with light fading (from what I can gather, around 125 overs were bowled that day). Oldfield is the nightwatchman (with a FC average of 23). As expected of him, he played an ungainly shot to get out caught behind.

What else. We saw Verity bowl a well flighted ball which induced a leading edge from a well-set Ponsford. We saw Grimmett bowl a few tidy deliveries. Not much spin on the 1st day.

There's nothing there for these cricketers to be embarrassed about. Cricket really hasn't changed as much as some people think.

• David on June 16, 2012, 8:21 GMT

Re Steyn and Holding ... on second thoughts (having done a couple more calculations), doing a 25fps video analysis on them will be even more useless than with Bowes. The absolutely MOST accurate I think I could get with them would be to say "somewhere between about 138 and 165 km/h". That is the range covered by 10.5 frames to 12.5 frames (ie, 11-12 frames plus or minus 0.5 frame).

That's like saying McGrath and Akhtar bowled at pretty much the same pace. [[ David Just try it. Should be interesting. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 16, 2012, 7:47 GMT

Ananth, I'll try some Steyn and Holding in the next couple of days. The simple principle of normal video footage is, though, that at 25 frames per second, estimating 19.2 metres (21 yards) from crease to stumps (the Bowes delivery I examined was where he dismissed the batsman bowled), if you count 13 frames between ball release and bails dislodged, you have a speed of 19.2m/0.52sec = 133 km/h. If you count 16 frames, the speed is 19.2m/0.64sec = 108 km/h. The difference per frame is not linear (14 frames = 123 km/h; 15 frames = 115 km/h), so that the faster the bowler, the less accurate the estimate of bowling speed. Add to this the blur of the ball (where exactly is it in space?), and the task becomes nigh impossible. The only way to measure speed with any degree of accuracy is either with an ultra high speed camera (increasing the fps) or a speed gun.

(The helpful point with Pinnacle is that it numbers the frames, so it's easy to count them, but it's still only 25 fps)

• David on June 16, 2012, 7:03 GMT

(... cont'd) Every frame extra you count or overlook alters the final bowling speed reading by 7.5 km/h. If you add this to the margin of error for the position of ball release, the final margin of error in your calculations will be plus or minus 15 km/h (I made an error in my previous post ... I meant a frame count error range of 3 - ie, plus or minus 1.5), or by my calculations, anywhere from 108 to 128 km/h. You can't possibly make any "objective" comments based on such rubbery figures as this.

Which leaves the only ways to judge Bowes' bowling being (in decreasing order of significance): averages (F/C & Test), contemporary accounts, other aspects of the video footage (eg, height of bowling arm at release, strength of shoulder rotation, reaction of batsmen).

The reason no one engaged with your "hard evidence" is that a small amount of investigation proves that the evidence is much "softer" than you realise. [[ David The dazed guy in the south-east corner of the field is myself, uttelrly flummoxed. Imagine getting the speed to a fine acceptable level using Pinnacle. I am not an expert on video-editing. So I cannot comment on that. Can you do for me and the other readers, the same analysis on two clips of Steyn and Holding. Let us see what you land with. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 16, 2012, 6:54 GMT

@shrikanthk, re Bradman not being a typical anglo saxon Aussie, I guess he must have the dubious privilege then of being the most misunderstood person ever in his home country! He would have been the only person in Australia who didn't think it was a joke ...

@Bheem, re your claim to be the only one using hard evidence, I also looked at the footage you linked to of Bowes. I copied it into my Pinnacle video software and analysed it frame by frame and came to the conclusion that that is a hopeless method for even getting close to an accurate estimate of his pace. Slowed down it is clear that the footage is not smooth: some frames are repeated, others are skipped. Therefore it's only possible to count the number of frames from bowler's hand to batsman's stumps to an error of about plus or minus 3. Also, there's the error margin in locating where Bowes released the ball: there could be a variation of over a metre. (Cont'd...)

• shrikanthk on June 16, 2012, 2:24 GMT

So when you hear an Australian interviewed, especially if the questioner is trying to elicit some self-praise from his subject, you must EXPECT that they will try to make a joke

Well, for one thing Bradman is not engaging in self-praise over here, whichever way you look at his comment. What I'm saying is that he is making a remark on the passage of time and changing circumstances which render averaging 99 in the 1990s a lot harder than averaging the same in the 30s. I wouldn't call this "progress" as Bheem would. It's just that the game has slowed down with a greater emphasis on containment and "fast bowling" unlike the old days where you had a greater variety of bowling styles and much quicker overrates.

Both DGB and I may still be wrong. Who knows, he may still have found a way to average roughly the same. But this discussion is pointless anyway.

With regard to DGB and Aus culture - He was a rather serious person. Not your typical Anglo Saxon Aussie.

• Bheem on June 15, 2012, 23:24 GMT

//However what you cannot expect is to change the set views of many readers and followers without sound arguments. And if my agenda was what you are referring to, 11 of your comments (yes, I counted) would not have seen the light of the day.//

you forget the 2 msgs that you didn't post and your call to "Lets end this amicably". Thats why I wrote that post.

• milpand on June 15, 2012, 23:12 GMT

The unconverted 73 scores & transformed 80 scores tell the same story - 38.6 simply includes the effect of very low numbers. Also I had chosen a transformation that made sense. That PDF gave me the confidence to post the results on my blog.

At the end of my post, I deliberately listed GM, Avg, RpI and Median. Any one measure that captures the centrality of a data set will have limitations, so it is better to list them together.

The example of house prices was included in the post to show that using GM is valuable even when a set of numbers can neither be multiplied nor are they exponential in nature.

With the knowledge that GM is used to dampen the effect of high values & the fact that 42.5% inns are below GM=38.6, I state that - "adding a unit value to all the data points, calculating GM and subtracting the unit from the result is an acceptable compromise". [[ As I have explained in the previous post, the range being 0 to 400, adding 1 makes a minimal impact and seems acceptable. It is possible taht the 38.35 represents the extraordinarily high rate of very very low scores of Bradman. The Arithmetic mean could not care about the zeros because of the preponderance of high scores. Maybe it is time we ask ourselves the question why Sutcliffe and to a lesser extent Hobbs are within 25% of Bradman. Ananth: ]] I agree with those who take the view that calculating GM for batting scores is totally unnecessary and thx for indulging me.

• milpand on June 15, 2012, 22:58 GMT

Commenting on an earlier post, I tried to explain the utility of quartiles for batting scores where stdev can't be used because the distribution is not normal. I noticed that (a) logarithmic data transform is used for skewed data and (b) GM is based on AM of logs of the numbers. I decided to calculate GM failed because GEOMEAN() returns #NUM!. A few days later, I remembered that GM is calculated for negative financial returns by adding a 1, calculating GM and then subtracting 1 from the result.

The GM for Bradman's 73 non-zero scores is 53.5 but 38.6 with above transformation discouraged me. This post rekindled my interest. I quote from a link to the handout mentioned in my blog - http://bit.ly/OTQV5o - '.. look at both the converted (transformed) and unconverted (original) means and make sure that they are telling the same basic story ..... The only thing you should not do it to try out every transformation, looking for one that gives you a significant result.' [[ I am comfortable with adding 1 since the extent of change is minimal. Anyhow log 1 is zero so when we add the logarithms, the zero value is put in place. Obviously if the readings are 0.1, 0.2. 0.25, 0.07, 0.3, 0, 0.4, 0.35 we should not add 1. It will change the values dramatically. Here the range is 0 to 400. Ananth: ]]

• milpand on June 15, 2012, 21:50 GMT

DB HS JH 1/8 259.61 142.96 146.32 2/8 210.90 117.20 112.59 3/8 171.12 97.08 93.62 4/8 137.06 82.18 79.10 5/8 108.90 69.28 65.82 6/8 85.62 58.07 54.86 7/8 63.62 48.00 44.10 8/8 38.59 33.62 31.70

The table above lists the GM for top 12.5% inns, top 25% inns, .. top 50% inns, .. 100% inns for Bradman, Sutcliffe & Hobbs. Exclude the 7 ducks, 1, 1 & 2 for Don, shown in 7th row, and he still has a healthy lead. The sharp drop towards the end reflects the fact mentioned early in this article: 'Bradman had seven zeroes out of 80 innings, which works to 8.8%. He was worse than most batsmen in the selected group. Out of 112 batsmen, he was 97th.' [[ Yes, Milind. What I had expressed in the article you hve brought out in a different form. I am presuming 4/8 reflects the 50% mark which are the top 40 innings, all above 50. That difference is significant. And the drop between 7/8 and 8/7 is eye-popping, understandable since these comprise of 7 zeros and a 1. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 15, 2012, 18:00 GMT

Bheem : I was re-reading all my comments on this thread. Try hard as I might, I don't really observe any sameness across them. Each comment was in response to a specific point raised by another person. Maybe I ought to turn less narcissistic and read them again. In which case I might discern some sameness ;)

Human beings are never deficient in self-love. And I'm no exception.

• Arjun on June 15, 2012, 13:51 GMT

Ananth,

I had calculated only for Bradman, it is '48.82' as against '38.59' of milind. I like milind's method, but not sure about........ "We have established that adding a unit value to all the data points, calculating GM and subtracting the unit from the result is an acceptable compromise". [[ The 48.82 has a elevance only when measured against the figures of Hobbs and Sutcliffe. I myself thought Milind's number for Bradman was too close to Sutcliffe who has scores quite below those of Bradman. Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 15, 2012, 13:22 GMT

Ananth, thx for the kind words but I will think very hard before posting on your blog because it appears that you prefer the sort of "sameness" that the likes of shrikanthk come up with. As long as the sameness is aligning with the overall agenda of Bradman worshiping you will have no issues. I am incapable of such a discussion. If you are interested in a fact based critical discussion let me know. Else good luck and thanks for posting my views. [[ I am not surprised at your comment. You made a single point and pushed the same right through the exchanges. However your point was contested by many including myself in a pleasant and patient manner. However what you cannot expect is to change the set views of many readers and followers without sound arguments. And if my agenda was what you are referring to, 11 of your comments (yes, I counted) would not have seen the light of the day. This itself indicates the sort of space I have given you. As far as inviting you again, sorrty, that is not the way this blogspace works. That is required only if you perceive this blogspace as a closed room with a liveried Sardarji at the gate checking invitations. This blogspace is like an open ground. Anyone can come in, as you recently came in and anyone can walk out as you want to, now. You can come in again anytime. After all you have been on the ground for 15 days. There are many readers who have been here for well-nigh four years. Thank you. You are always welcome. Next time you could come in with a more open point of view. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on June 15, 2012, 11:30 GMT

Ananth, I had mailed you an alternative that was combination of HM and AM specially where values are less than 1.00. Can you post it along with Milpand's so that readers can have a look at other alternatives and comment. Given below is Arjun's suggestion. "" Re: A way around the Gm/HM conundrum I think solution for this type of problem lies in combining both HM and AM. Let me give an example. HM of 3, 2, 4, 44 is '3.62'. Suppose 5th value is 0 then by combining HM and AM answer is '2.89'. How let me explain.... HM of 4 units is 3.62. 4*3.62 = 14.48. 5th value is 0. So add 0 to 14.48 and divide it by 5; answer is 2.89. Combination of AM and HM can be done whenever value less than 1.00. So if 5th value is 0.56 then 14.48 + 0.56 = 15.04/5 = '3.01'. "" [[ Readers can come in with their comments. For the numbers 3, 2, 4, 44, 0 GM as per Milind's method works to 4.85 (Milind can confirm this). I get the feeling that this number reflects the way-out situation caused by 44. Ananth: ]].

• milpand on June 15, 2012, 10:45 GMT

I have included a poll in the post on Geometric Mean and I feel that such polls should be included in this blogspace to seek the opinion from silent users who read the articles as well as the discussion but do not express their views through comments. So like a London Bus, a second poll follows the first one.

This is a link to the poll 'Should Ananth include Polls in his articles?' where readers can comment and give their own answer. [[ Thank you, Milind. I will check with Rajesh to see how I can include a poll to this blogspace. Ananth: ]]

• Ananth on June 15, 2012, 3:15 GMT

Milind, a regular reader of and an invisible behind-the-scenes contributor to this blogspace has created an excellent article on Geometric Mean and applied the concept to Cricket, especially Bradman's scores. Great insights and I recommend a perusal of the same. There is also another piece suggesting an alternate to the never-ending final set in tennis. The link is given below. http://pandimi.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/gm/ Ananth

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 14, 2012, 12:30 GMT

Ramesh, Cant see how Viv can be called a "cow", holy or not... Who can, anyhow, be called "cow"

• David on June 14, 2012, 7:32 GMT

@Shrikanthk, further to my interpretation of Bradman's joke: one thing you have to understand with Anglo-saxon Australian men in particular is that our first instinct when speaking in public is to try to be funny, especially when we're forced to talk about our own achievements. This is culturally ingrained in us, and is the opposite cultural value from what you will find in India (Australians will say of Indians that they take themselves too seriously. This is cultural ignorance, but it says something about our cultural differences)

A foreign student friend of mine said the hardest thing about university here was that he found it hard to take the lecturers seriously, because they always wanted to make jokes.

Even our politicians try (too often!) to be funny, which gets them into trouble more often than not.

So when you hear an Australian interviewed, especially if the questioner is trying to elicit some self-praise from his subject, you must EXPECT that they will try to make a joke.

• David on June 14, 2012, 6:42 GMT

Sorry shrikanthk, I'll have to disagree with you now. All Australians who've ever heard this story immediately understand Bradman to be saying that because he's 80 he no longer has quite the reflexes he had as a 30 year old, and so would get out a little bit more often. In other words, he's saying that there is no difference between bowling quality in the 1980s compared to the 1930s; the only difference is his own age and therefore relative skill level.

If you asked a million Australians, they would give the same interpretation. [[ Yours is a more acceptable interpretation. Ananth: ]]

• Ranga on June 14, 2012, 6:24 GMT

@ Shrini & Ananth: The exact interview (of course, not verbatim but more or less), was when England was losing badly in the Ashes with a pedestrian bowling attack (guess it was 1998 Ashes), when one of the many questions asked to Sir Don was, "what do you think of the current English attack? How much do you think you would score off them?" to that Sir Don replied "Around 42.0?" . . . The surprised reporter asks, "But you averaged 99+ right?" . . to that he responded, "Yes, but now I am 80+ . . so 42.00 isnt bad for that, right?" . . . The entire interview was not about "Don's batting" but England's poor bowling resources.

• shrikanthk on June 14, 2012, 5:10 GMT

If you seriously thought Srini and I took this story literally and started wondering "How can anyone average around 80 when he himself is around 80. No, not likely", you have a vely low opinion of our intellectual levels

My gripe was that a lot of people take this remark "seriously" as a joke.

It isn't a joke. DGB is actually being serious, but not in the way it seems on the surface. "I am 80 now" is supposed to imply that a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Hence he doesn't expect to average 99 if, as a 30 year old, he is transported from 1938 to 1988.

• Ramesh Kumar on June 14, 2012, 5:02 GMT

Boll,

My reference to "Four holy cows" was a positive reference to the four greats. With their achievements, you get some strong reaction when something is told against them and we have had not just SRT but four holy cows. I think we Indians will create more holy cows, Indian or foreign, as we just like to have strong opinions on everything. For many SRT fans, there are innumerable SRT baiters. For most of us, Bradman as a batsmen and as a administrator can't be two entities to be evaluated. You will get Bradman worshippers and you will get Bradman baiters. The points need not be cricket specific. We don't believe in moderation. Poor Ananth is trying to reason wih us with his figures. But we will have our own intrepretations and more importantly we want everybody to accept it. Without us, there won't be fun in this discussion.

• shrikanthk on June 14, 2012, 2:21 GMT

Nice story/anecdote. That is self-confidence for you I've heard this anecdote and its many variants umpteen times. I don't know why so many people take it literally. [[ Shri I will turn this back at you. Why do you tak everything so seriously. Surely there is space in life for some levity and fun. If you seriously thought Srini and I took this story literally and started wondering "How can anyone average around 80 when he himself is around 80. No, not likely", you have a vely low opinion of our intellectual levels. It is a fun story and should stay that way. Ananth: ]] What Bradman means is "I'm 80 now. Which means I played my cricket some 50 years ago. Cricketing circumstances and conditions have changed over these 50 years to the extent that averaging 100 is harder".

Ofcourse this doesn't mean that there has been a fundamental advance in bowling. But one thing is for sure - the game has turned a bit more defensive. And the overrates have declined very substantially. Hence DGB would be the first person to admit that he couldn't average 99. Maybe 70-80 will still be doable.

But as I've said before, this hypothetical figure is irrelevant. What matters to us is the gulf between his average and that of the 2nd best batsman in his era.

You don't judge a Beethoven by his ability to compose rock'n'roll.

• srini on June 13, 2012, 17:36 GMT

This adds nothing to the discussion but my favourite Bradman anecdote is his discussion with Tom Moody. Bradman tells Moody he couldn't possibly average 99 now (now is somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s). Moody replies "But Don you are the best ever. These bowlers... they are nothing in front of you. How can you put down urself?" (or words to that effect) and the Don replies, "But Tom, you realize I am almost 80 now!" Thank you Good night!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [[ Nice story/anecdote. That is self-confidence for you. Ananth: ]]

• Som on June 12, 2012, 16:47 GMT

@Ananth - Fair enough. The average RPI for batsmen whose 100's were in a winning cause is 148. (cutoff, 1000 runs). So very loosely speaking, DGB indeed scored a few more(38 runs) than required on an average, and SRT falls short by a couple. But Lara scored on an average 162 RPI in defeats where he scored a century. Very interestingly, in wins, BCL scored 157 !! Contradicts the theory that more runs means wins ! [[ The Sri Lankan tour was a perfect example of this. 688 runs in 3 Tests at 114.66 and Sri Lanka winning the series 3-0. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 12, 2012, 15:03 GMT

I know I`ve posted it before Ananth (I promise, no porn this time - although Paris Hilton may be lurking in the background somewhere!?), but this is probably the time for it - some wonderful footage of the great man, and a great Aussie song to boot.

(Maurice Tate with the pipe - great shot!)

• Boll on June 12, 2012, 14:56 GMT

So, in conclusion, what Bradman was able to do was render subjectivity meaningless. What his statistics say is that it`s useless to compare him with anyone, as we like to compare SRT, Lara, Ponting, Viv, Hutton et al. Or indeed Mark Waugh, Gower, Zaheer. Amongst these players it`s understandable to have our favourites, or to argue the finer points of away/home averages, aesthetics, important innings, longevity...what you will.

And we`re talking about true greats of the game here; record-holders, inspirations, classicists.

It`s best to leave Bradman out of such discussions - what else is there to say about a man who, for all intents and purposes, scored twice as much as the next best bloke every time he went out to bat?

• Boll on June 12, 2012, 14:37 GMT

cont`d. I don`t want to give the impression that Bradman is a divisive figure within Australian cricketing circles, but he is certainly no `holy cow`. A variety of opinions are aired quite freely about his contribution to the game in his home country.

However one thing that all seem to agree on, even his most virulent critics, is that he had an unsurpassed cricket brain, and was the most brutally ruthless destroyer of bowlers who ever drew breath. O`Reilly and Keith Miller in particular, two undisputably world-class bowlers, and very proud men, neither of whom were friendly with The Don (to put it politely), were under no illusions. If you wanted to make a point to Don it was best not to try and do it on the cricket field - the `little bastard` would always have the last, and usually very long, laugh.

I`m reminded again of Miller`s words to a young Richie Benaud, who lamented that he`d never had the chance to bowl at DGB `Everyone get`s a break in their life lad - that was yours.`[[ Even though I have heard this often, every time I cannot but admire Miller's wry sense of humour. This and the Messerschmitt/Rear-end quote. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 12, 2012, 14:16 GMT

@Ramesh Kumar. Not sure about `holy cows`, but I think if was picking a World XI touring party of 15 players (3 openers, 4 middle-order batsmen, 2 all rounders, 2 `keepers, 4 bowlers) - to play a 5-test series on selected grounds across the world, I`d go for those four blokes you mention as my middle-order.

I think what surprises me here, and perhaps the other (anyone?) Aussies who frequent the site, is that people usually attempt to criticise Bradman at his strongest point - his batting. Often non-Australians are unaware of the great diversity of views re.Bradman within the Australian cricketing community - former teammates, players who served under his administrations, and the general public. Many who played under him have been vitriolic in their criticism of certain aspects of his career (Fingleton, Richardson, O`Reilly come to mind) - future leaders such as Ian Chappell have never forgiven him for his apparent lack of support for WSC, or the rights of players in general.

• Boll on June 12, 2012, 13:29 GMT

@Som. I must admit I was a bit sceptical of those numbers, but you`re pretty much on the money...although these figures probably give a clearer picture.

Bradman: 23 centuries in wins (22 matches), ave.225, RPI. 185 Tendulkar: 20 centuries in wins (20 matches), ave.224, RPI 147

Bradman: 2 centuries in losses (2 matches), ave 122, RPI. 122 Tendulkar: 11 centuries in losses (11 matches), ave. 163, RPI. 133

Bradman: 4 centuries in draws (4 matches), ave 442, RPI. 221 Tendulkar: 20 centuries in draws (20 matches), ave.235, RPI. 153

• Boll on June 12, 2012, 12:45 GMT

@Sarosh, no worries, and thanks for your response and kind words. I`m glad that I come across as civilised (on occasions) - unfortunately I probably find myself shooting from the hip a bit too often, but try to stick by my `think/write/think again/delete any ad hominem carry on/and then post` policy as much as possible.

I`d agree with skrikanthk though, that I`m not sure the word `stamina` really explains Bradman`s exceptional record. I think Sriraj G.S. gets close re.mental `stamina` although I prefer to think of it as mental strength and focus. I can`t think of another sport where an individual/lone lapse in concentration makes such a difference, and Bradman just didn`t seem to make them.

I doubt very much whether people engaged Bradman in `mental disintegration`, much as the Aus teams of recent years (who apparently coined the term) left Tendulkar pretty much alone. They were/are hard enough to get out anyway, without giving them extra incentive to concentrate or focus.

• Som on June 12, 2012, 11:12 GMT

@Sarosh, Ananth - Stamina poses an interesting question. Did Bradman pile up huge scores which did not matter in terms of results and is SRT efficient enough to know when to stop. The data shows otherwise. The percentage of Bradman's centuries which resulted in a win are: 79% and his average in those was 224. Corresponding figures for SRT are: 39% and his average in those are 224 !!! (what a co-incidence). The averages in centuries which resulted in losses are: DGB - 122, SRT - 163. This points to the fact that when scoring big, its better to score higher than atleast 163(definitely not a number derived from the entire history of cricketing database). SRT cannot tell, that he does not know what it takes to win a test (224), just that he cannot get there as often (39% vis-a-vis 79%) due to stamina or otherwise. Having said that I remain a huge fan and admirer of SRT, DGB, IVAR, BCL, SMG, JM, AB, GC, JK, RP, MH, SW, SC, RD and others. [[ Som One suggestion. When you do an analysis of hundreds, never do the average. After all the batsman has crossed a 100 or 150 or 200. What does it matter whether he is 243* or 243. Your numbers will have greater relevance or meaning if you just use innings and determine RpI. Sachin's average hundred value is 145.8. Bradman's is 186.0. So the 224 strikes a discordant note. Ananth: ]]

• Sriraj G.S. on June 12, 2012, 8:55 GMT

I agree that Bradman's ability can be attributed to stamina - but not of the physical kind. He had the mental stamina to virtually take fresh guard for each ball he faced. And the fact that his average balloons after crossing 50 could probably mean the confidence imparted extra mental energy to carry on. This is similar to what Chanderpaul and Trott attempt to do physically (knocking in a bail at regular intervals to mark fresh guards) and both are proven run-makers. Unfortunately in today's T20 age, how many people have the ability (or incentive) to do this?

I however refute the point about Bradman having physical stamina. In 1934, he suffered from appendicitis and peritonitis and recovered after what was a tough operation in those times. He did play on after that and encountered fibrositis which severely harmed him (permanently lost feeling in 2 fingers of his right hand). He was also rejected from service during WW2 on account of his poor eyesight. [Wikipedia] A miracle IMHO!

• David on June 12, 2012, 7:58 GMT

Perhaps one way out of the impasse over how much "better" Bradman was than anyone else is to admit that quantifying someone's technique, or even their state of mind, is nigh impossible. What IS possible to quantify, however, is the contribution each player has made to their team. That is surely the final, most important measure.

As a fun exercise, how about we institute a theoretical IPL-style auction for test cricketers through the ages. Keep it in USD so we all understand what we're talking about (us non-Indians try very hard, but just can't get our heads around crores and lakhs, I'm sorry to say!). In other words, how much would Bradman be worth to a test cricketing franchise versus the other greats?

I'm tempted to suggest we set the yardstick at Jadeja for \$2M :) That should fetch actual test players a decent wage! But to be more realistic, how about setting Compton and Hussey (ave. 50) at \$1M. What would you pay for Bradman, SRT, Hobbs, Headley, etc?

• Ramesh Kumar on June 12, 2012, 7:29 GMT

The greatness of Bradman lies not only with 99.94 but also the fact that he could maintain it over a long career. Essentially it covers different periods, bowlers, conditions, ageing, injury etc and a war. Ananth has explained what exactly was probably happening with Bradman's scores. The specific reasons behind them will remain in the realms of speculation. Thank god for that..for us cricket romantics, we need unexplained image of Bradman in this age of constant analysis.

Ananth....SRT & Bradman are not the only holy cows in this space. Lara and Richards in the last two years match SRT in this blog. Great foursome aren't they??

• shrikanthk on June 12, 2012, 6:48 GMT

I've watched cricket for close to 20 years now, ever since I joined school. In my experience, batsmen get out largely because of technical errors, not fatigue. This is just as true for batsmen batting on 150 as it is for batsmen batting on 25.

So if someone is scoring 50s more often than others and consistently converting them into really big hundreds, it means he is doing something right technically. In terms of getting into right positions and playing the appropriate stroke to each delivery. As simple as that.

• Nitin Gautam on June 12, 2012, 6:16 GMT

Bradman's 99.94 suggests he is head, shoulder, arms, tail or anything above the next best batsman & keeping this avg. is next to impossible. BUT again that is batsmanship in terms of prolific scoring thats all. @Siriraj, Im not comparing 999 with 99.94, im merely saying DGB is not the only one who has achieved unachievable. thats not comparison frnd that is truth & by saying this no one is nullifying DGB I gave records of 3 diff players which are as impossible to surpass as DGB's however only SRT was picked out to counter, just could not understand who is comparing DGB with whom. Whatever be the scrutiny, SRT has held its own fort to be among the best in history along with BCL. Praising him or saying anything doesn’t mean degrading DGB simply because no one can undermine DGB however hard anyone tries. However, blame it to my limited understanding, this blog has turned him into another holy cow who cant be touched at all. & all songs should be in his praise. [[ I am indeed sorry that you think like that. It is only when there was a deliberate attempt to bring down Bradman's performance that I (and others) countered. And anyhow the holiest of cows is not Bradman. Everyone knows that. Still you should agree that I have published over 50 comments not accepting Bradman's so called "holy cow" status. Your statement is indeed unfair. But then that is your choice. and right. Ananth: ]]

• Nitin Gautam on June 12, 2012, 5:31 GMT

From his debut, no one in authority (I am excluding the media, commentatots, general public et al) has ever told him what to do or even thought of not selecting him Agreed. but that is result of his relentless performance so why should it be brought against him that he performed to the hilt for 23 years. he didnt asked opp. to not include their best bowlers. 2ndly Dravid was excluded from ODIs cos others better than him started coming (for ODIs). A ques here, among SRT ganguly dravid lax, who would u include in ur ODI team for last 5 years. ditto for laxman. No need to give their eg to falsify SRT. after WC2007, team had to be changed n it was changed for good.Dravid fault was not to declare retirement as SRT is also not doing now. & moreover why praising anyone else becomes a direct comparison to bradman as if anyone is blind enough to say bradman was as human as any player. HE WAS & IS & WILL BE PERFECT EPITOME OF BATSMANSHIP EVER.

• Sarosh on June 12, 2012, 5:26 GMT

@Ananth, 1)If “character assassination” is too strong a term. Perhaps questioning the character instead of the content would be a more appropriate way of putting it. And may elicit less mirth too. [[ Sarosh, The mirth continues to be present. "A very convoluted way of bringing down Bradman's average" does not indeed fall under any such category. And calling myself a fool is indeed a right I always have. Ananth: ]] 2)The comparison Between Bradman and Tendulkar has been made for a few years now. I had a feeling that perhaps you may be aware of that. Quite a few of those comparisons in fact by numerous pundits. In fact the article I quoted from in my first comment was by Greg Chappell. He too directly compared Bradman and Tendulkar as being the two best. But anyway… 3)So, if Nadal wins the next 2 French he may be said to be TWICE as good as Borg. Federer should then perhaps be FOUR times as good as Mcenroe.

@Boll, To further my point a bit about the big innings factor in average- If we take a more “direct” comparison between Bradman and Tendulkar by their performances versus the 2 best beams of their eras – Eng and Aus resp. The comparisons are reasonably valid – similar number of innings, over 20 years, War break for Bradman, Injury tours vs. Aus for Tendulkar etc. Vs Eng DGB 63 inn, 7 N.O, 5028 @ 89.8, 19 100s, 12 50s, 6 0s, SR 58.1 Inn. Capped at 100. Bradman – 53.3 50+ scores 49 % of the time. 100s 30%. Vs Aus SRT 67 inn, 7 N.Os, 3428 @ 57.3, 11 100s, 15 50 s, 4 0s, SR 59.6 Inn. Capped at 100. SRT -42.2 50+ scores 39 % of the time. 100s 16%. Lara’s figures vs. Aus are similar.

Bradman better on all counts except SR.

• Sarosh on June 12, 2012, 4:56 GMT

• Youvi on June 11, 2012, 19:47 GMT

Anantha- In spite of DGB's records and eyewitness accounts of his batting prowess, he was never anointed "God". You must feel like Sisyphus when the mere mortal DGB is head and shoulders above "God" and must be cut down to size ! One thing though must be marveled at, the relentless refusal on the part of some to see the writing on the wall and the innovative ways in which DGB is diminished. Of course to no avail as it is what it is when it comes to DGB's exceptional batting. Other than the early timeless Tests, all others are time- limited so the other side must be bowled out twice to achieve a victory within the limit of 5 (or 4) days. It is not as if a batsman could keep batting forever and ram the runs down. In a time-limit Test match, slow batting for a big score could be bad for the team. Boycott was famously dropped in 1967 after scoring 246 n o. DGB scored big more often than others and scored at decent clip. Any which way one cuts it, DGB's record is set in stone. [[ Although correctly Heather McKay's record has been brought into contention, I feel Ladies' Squash is somewhat off the mainstream. The only comparison to Bradman's status is, after yesterday, Nadal's performances in French Open. A 52-1 record (over 98%) in a highly competiitve sport is something unbelievable. Borg is 49-2. And if I, the unabashed Federer fan that I am, do not recognize the total dominance that Nadal has exercised at Roland Garros and try and put down his achievements, I would be a fool. Ananth: ]]

• Vikram on June 11, 2012, 18:23 GMT

@Ananth: WHat I was trying to say was that DGB combined the penchant of big hundreds of VS (or BCL or other such players) with the regularity of scoring centuries of SRT (or RPT or other such players). He brings two facets of two great players and is a better specimen as a result. You can similarly look at strike rate and number of avg balls per innings. The point is that no other player has been able to combine two very significant traits, he has done that. That is his greatness. And that makes his great.

• Vikram on June 11, 2012, 15:32 GMT

A friend of mine said that debate is when two people are trying to convince others of a point of view. A discussion is where two people are trying to come to a point of view. The last few posts seem like a debate with no end in sight. There is a romance about the 99.94 figure, but even if he had an average of 90, he would have been great. And if all the advances in bowling etc meant that he would have averaged 70 today, he would still be mythical. If DGB's batting led to team not having enough time to win a match, then I would question the average. That is not the case, I am happy that he batted that long. The viewers atleast got something to appreciate, else the match would have been over in 3 days. A lot of Indians looked at Sehwag's stats of around 90% centuries being above 150+. His only problem is that he has a low frequency. DGB had a higher frequency. SRT scores centuries frequently but not big ones. DGB scores big ones. So he is a SRT+VS. That's possible, as he showed. [[ Sehwag's s/r is an ODI-like 82.0. Bradman's is just short of 60, reached by modern masters like Ponting, Lara, Hayden, Pietersen and is exceeded significantly by Richards. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 11, 2012, 14:44 GMT

So, I`m not sure it was Bradman`s propensity (immense as it was) to score big, which really sets him apart. Instead it was his ability to score big so often, and so quickly. He averaged a century more than twice as often as all but 2 men on this list (Sutcliffe and Weekes) and a century as often as all but a few have scored fifties.

That`s not just stamina, or merely scoring runs at the flag end of a meaningless game. It`s simply consistently performing at a level which no-one has ever come close to matching.

Yes, he scored 150 plus plenty, and often went on with it - it just so happened that he was able to do it about 1 in every 4 times he batted. No-one else has managed even 1 in 11. Why? I imagine for the most obvious reason - he was just damned good.

• Boll on June 11, 2012, 14:10 GMT

@Sarosh. Sure, stamina, or at least the ability to maintain concentration over long periods seems to set Bradman apart from most, and he certainly went on to make more double centuries then anyone before or since. (Bradman`s 12 in 80 innings compares rather well with the combined Tendlukar/Ponting`s 12 in almost 600 innings), but I think you`re missing some important figures re.his average.

When Bradman passed 50, which he did 53% of the time, he averaged 149. When Tendulkar has passed 100, he has still only averaged 146.

Furthermore, Bradman passed 100...36% of the time. Tendulkar has passed 50% `only` 37% of the time.

i.e. If you were a betting man, you would still back Bradman at 50 not out to score more than Tendulkar at 100 not out - and Bradman was about 3 times as likely to reach 50 as Tendulkar has been to reach a century. [[ Excellent insight. Ananth: ]] As for Bradman scoring more than was necessary to win a game, 10 of his 12 double centuries resulted in Australian wins, 2 were rain affected draws.

• Sarosh on June 11, 2012, 11:00 GMT

I have another theory about Bradman’s “Average” – One of the most used stats in cricket. This came about as the result of a Greg Chappell article after Tendulkars 100th 100 (I believe the most unique achievement and unbreakable record in cricket after Bradman’s average. Inspite of the desperate attempts of some sections including commentators in here to denigrate the achievement. “If” any good batsman were allowed play for 23 yrs etc etc he to would blah blah…… “If” you are allowed to keep walking up from Everest base camp you will “obviously” reach the summit……)

In any case Chappell (in general not a big fan of Tendulkar’s) reckons that the only difference was the penchant for big scores by Bradman “ This may go some way to explain why Sachin has not come close to emulating Bradman's remarkable career average. There is no doubt that physically there was not that much between the two but for some reason Bradman was that much more driven to make the big scores. Sometimes, more than were necessary to win the game. “ So, If we assume a Hundred is proof enough of having mastered a bowling attack and if we “cap” all innings at 100 (and assume the batsman is out at 100 for convenience sake- ignoring N.Os). Then we get the foll. Averages : Bradman -56.3 SRT –43 (Other top batsmen will also probably be around this mark too, though I haven’t checked) The diff. against various countries also becomes eye-opening. The reason for the monstrous difference between Bradman and the rest then becomes not just the frequency of Hundreds , but the penchant to ram home the Hundreds home …on and on. This is also the single critical difference between Test cricket and almost all other sports. Test cricket has essentially no score “upper limit” – only a vague time limit. So , the eg. Of the squash player as someone gave as above is incorrect. If we assume say a set of Tennis is equivalent to a Test innings- all comparisons fall apart. A Nadal can only win 6-0. But if there is no scoring limit and only a vague “time” limit Nadal can go on and on hammering the daylights out of his opponent 10-0, 12-0 etc on and on. A Sampras may only manage a say 8-0. That then is essentially difference between Bradman and the rest – STAMINA. Chappel may have instinctively had a valid point. [[ A very convoluted way of bringing down Bradman's average. I have only one statement to make. I do not believe that there is a single Sachin innings where this concept of scoring just enough to win has been applied. India is the country which places a lot of value on landmarks and scores. A 329 will never happen here. Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 10, 2012, 18:20 GMT

Bheem All good things must come to a stop at some time or other. Granted that you have put forward your comments in a civilized manner (and the respondents equally so), I think there is a sameness to your past few comments and this one. Many readers have pointed out the various relevent factors relating to batsmen/bowlers over the past number of years. However you have a single agenda despite and beyond any of these facts and my worry is that at one time readers, including you, will find it difficult maintain composure. So let us close this amicably. Pl feel free to comment on any other thread. You are a valuable and knowledgeable reader. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 10, 2012, 15:51 GMT

My guess is that The Don would have figured them out. His strike rate would have definitely come down

Good point. When I said that 30s was an easier time for batting than the 80s, I was not denigrating the bowlers of the 30s. I was commenting on the "conditions" which made scoring runs a harder proposition in the 80s.

The pitches especially in the Carribbean and also the subcontinent were often a bit dodgy, unlike the true Anglo-Australian surfaces of the 30s.

Also overrates declined very substantially, which would've left DGB with less overs to score his runs. Having said that, let's not forget that DGB played in a good number of 4-day tests in his career.

There is no ground for doubting DGB's ability to score runs against 80s attacks. But the runs would've come a little less rapidly. Hence the sub-99 average which I surmised.

• shrikanthk on June 10, 2012, 15:46 GMT

David - Some good points about Bowes' distinctive follow-through where he backs away from the pitch at a sharp angle. Also you may notice how he skips a bit in his run-up before drawing himself to full height at the time of the delivery. It's a very unusual run-up.

And the one thing that gets ignored generally is "pace off the pitch". Some bowlers are very, very quick through the air. But somehow lose their bite after pitching. A lot of medium-pace bowlers of that era - Eg - Tate, Bowes and Bedser were reputedly pretty brisk off-the-pitch. i.e they lost less pace after pitching than several other bowlers.

At any rate, I wouldn't rank Bowes ahead of Larwood as a test bowler based on what I've read and heard, though the averages suggest so. 22 sounds great. But I think the sample size of 15 tests has a lot to do with it. However that shouldn't detract from the fact that he was a very fine bowler. No bowler with 1600 FC wickets can be anything but fine.

• Aditya Nath Jha on June 10, 2012, 13:01 GMT

@Bheem - the question "how much would have The Don scored/averaged against the best pace attack of 'modern times'?" remains, at the end, hypothetical. We can all make our educated guesses, based on assumptions and prejudices. If you imagine The Don playing for 20 years between '77 - '97 and facing the WI attack, the Australian attack, the SA attack and the Pakistan attack - here are a few pointers. Barry Richards averaged 79+ in 5 Packer tests, Viv averaged 56 in 14 tests (6 over his career), Greg Chappell averaged 57 in 14 tests (3 over his career). Most other batsmen scored significantly below their career averages. So, the best batsmen of their generation actually scored higher than their career averages against the best fast bowlers. Lara, Ponting and Tendulkar have sustained periods of exceeding their career average against the fast bowlers of their generation. My guess is that The Don would have figured them out. His strike rate would have definitely come down.

• David on June 10, 2012, 12:05 GMT

@shrikanthk, agree with your comments on Bowes' deceptive pace. The other give away is the incredibly sharp angle away from the pitch that his follow through takes him. This indicates that he is putting an enormous amount of effort into the shoulder rotation of his bowling arm, generating strength and pace through the ball from his shoulder rather than his lower torso, which makes him look like a slow bowler, but enables him to bowl unexpectedly briskly (although not with genuine pace), and to release the ball from his maximum height to gain sharp bounce. Combine that with the contemporary reports of his accuracy and his ability to swing the ball both ways, and his test average doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

• Sriraj G.S. on June 10, 2012, 10:34 GMT

@shrikanthk: I was not suggesting Bowes was 50mph! I didn't even try speculating about his speed because I have no idea. The "50mph dart-chuckers" I am referring to are club cricketers whom I've faced. Don't get too worried in the assumption that everyone is after Bowes's tail!!! :P

@Nitin Gautam: Sorry, I didn't check back on my grammar before posting that comment. The "you" in the last paragraph was actually referring to any general person and not specifically you. An honest mistake of mine. But I still hold my view that Boucher's 999 catches cannot be compared with Bradman's average because they are of different types.

We can still imagine a future cricketer who can score 30k+ runs or take 1k catches but the probability of seeing someone average 90+ after 250-odd FC games is too low to comprehend! That is why his record warrants extra discussion even after so many years!

• Nitin Gautam on June 10, 2012, 8:49 GMT

• shrikanthk on June 10, 2012, 3:27 GMT

Like I said before, with the poor outfields in club cricket, facing a 50mph dart-chucker is extremely tough because of the extra power and more accurate timing needed to hit the ball to the fence

Sriraj: Agree on this. But at the same time, let's acknowledge that Bowes is no 50mph dart-chucker. His body language and absence of a follow-through may suggest otherwise. But in reality, he is a medium-fast bowler like PK or Sammy, with an extra asset being the height. If he were slower than that, the wicket keeper wouldn't be standing back! Common sense.

Notice how he draws himself up to full height just before delivering. That's where he gets the momentum from. Not from his run-up.

You don't find such bowlers these days. Because they don't experiment and work out the optimal run-up for themselves. Coaches don't encourage personal experimentation. Even 80mph fast bowlers like Onions and Sreesanth have these really, really long run-ups that make them "look" fast.

• Sriraj G.S. on June 9, 2012, 23:25 GMT

@Bheem: It seems like the message you have been trying to get across is that modern pace bowlers were quicker than those from the 30's. Given the advances in physiological and nutritional knowledge, it is understandable. However, the point several others here have been trying to make is that extra pace does NOT necessarily mean extra potency!

Like I said before, with the poor outfields in club cricket, facing a 50mph dart-chucker is extremely tough because of the extra power and more accurate timing needed to hit the ball to the fence.

In int'l cricket, there is an option for 95mph bowlers to injure a batsman. But still historically, slower bowlers who chose to attack the stumps were more successful. Eg: Yadav who was hailed by many after Oz tour but consistently bowled short and got smashed. High RPO and average. Contrast: PK or Zaheer who are slower but keep nagging away. Lower RPO and average. Ofcourse, Ambrose & Co also had skills, but who's to say Bowes also didn't?

• west indies follower on June 9, 2012, 21:40 GMT

Hi Ananth, even though you may have covered this before, I was wondering why you do not consider 100 to be an important milestone.

Cheers [[ I do not place a great value in scoring a hundred. In my book it is nothing more than the run(s) scored when one has reached 9x runs. In this article I have used the 100 as a cut-off point to establish some comparison points. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 9, 2012, 18:31 GMT

So were the 30s an easier time for batsmen. All historians of the game agree on that point. Pitches were generally very good. Fast bowlers weren't thriving in abundance. There was no dearth of high-quality wrist spinners. Yet, all said and done, everyone agrees that the 30s were an easier time to bat than say the 80s or the early 1900s.

I don't think DGB would've averaged 99 in the 80s. But that's an irrelevant hypothesis anyway. It doesn't make him any less a cricketer. The fact is that the guy averaged about 60% more than practically all other First-class cricketers over the past 200 years in both Test and First-class cricket!

He is simply a freak. No parallel exists in the history of any other sport I am aware of.

That's the only thing that matters at the end of the day. Not Bowes' lazy run-up or Grimmett's round arm action!

• shrikanthk on June 9, 2012, 18:24 GMT

@shrikanthk : you keep talking about 1-2 deliveries

I am not the one talking about 1-2 deliveries here. You're the one who chose to highlight them.

And I know for a fact that Bowes or for that matter Voce were not the same pace as the 2Ws or Donald! I've known that for ages! Nowhere in my comments do I suggest otherwise.

And neither of them rank among the fastest bowlers faced by Bradman. I can name atleast half-a-dozen bowlers who were much quicker than Bowes/Voce though not necessarily better bowlers - Larwood, Farnes, Allen, McCormick, Constantine.

This is a decent list of quick bowlers though not as impressive as the 70s/80s fast bowling roster. Fast bowling simply wasn't all that fashionable in the 30s. Leg spin was far more in vogue.

That's how things are in cricket. Each era has its own strengths. Eg: Googly bowling in the 30s, orthodox finger-spin in the 50s, hit-the-deck fast bowling in the 80s, unorthodox off-spin in 2000s!

• Youvi on June 9, 2012, 17:38 GMT

Based on Ananth's analysis, early in his innings Bradman was not significantly different and had a fair number of low scores and 0s. However once he batted beyond that early phase, his records far exceed those of the other batsmen. From Boll's summary of quickest to 1000, Bradman was relatively slower. However once he crossed 1000, he was the fastest to 2000 thru 6000 and beyond. Hmmm, reminds me of a dialogue from a popular 70's Hindi film wherein the hero is referred to as a "lambi race ka ghoda hain." Roughly translated as a "a racehorse for long races (as opposed to sprints), once which picks up speed leaves the rest of the field behind" !

• Bheem on June 9, 2012, 14:42 GMT

http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/455228.html

For those talking about Bodyline read that article. The relevant bit is in the last para ... here it is for convenience : " The survivors of the original Bodyline series marvelled that there was no public riot, for it had come close to that in Adelaide in 1933, when two of Australia's batsmen were felled. Yet now, in a period of 20 years, West Indies fast men sent 40 opposing batsmen to hospital. "

Anyone who wants to discuss the Bradman topic is welcome to email me ( beer dot kingfisher at gmail dot com ) as it is a bit too tedious to converse via this blog.

@shrikanthk : you keep talking about 1-2 deliveries ... are you suggesting that these bowlers bowled like AD,W's when the camera was off? Remember concentrate on the Pace aspect ONLY. So again if you think bowlers of that pace can be compared to the modern day greats then it appears that we have a diametrically opposite understanding of fast bowling. Cheers.

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 13:06 GMT

@shrikanthk. Good point, although as we all know the argument really has nothing to with Bowes` figures per se. or indeed the standard of bowling in the 1930s. It all comes back to the inability of some people to accept Bradman`s extraordinary feats, or that on a pretty level playing field, he averaged so much more than their batting hero.

• shrikanthk on June 9, 2012, 12:45 GMT

Just checked that Bowes played in only 15 test matches. So that average of 22 really doesn't mean much, given the sample size. And also given the fact that he played most of those 15 tests in England as opposed to Australia.

Ofcourse that doesn't make him a lesser bowler. But it highlights the pointlessness of this whole debate that was kickstarted by his "unreal" average and the way that "average" was used to make unflattering remarks on 30s cricket in general!

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 9:41 GMT

Oh, and while I`m at it, here are the Top 5 for the last 20 years;

1000 runs: Kambli (14), G.Smith (17), J.Adams (18), Strauss/M.Hussey (19)

2000 runs: M.Hussey(33),Lara(35),G.Smith(39),Slater/Dravid/Sehwag/Trott(40)

3000runs:Lara(52),Sehwag(55),Hayden(61),Gilchrist/G.Smith/Peitersen/Hussey(63)

4000 runs:Lara(76), Hayden(77), Sehwag(79), Pietersen(83), Dravid(84)

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 9:09 GMT

A couple of extra comments re.the innings/1000 runs table I posted earlier.

Lara - equal quickest to 10,000 runs, with Sachin, leapt away to be 9 innings quicker than Ponting to 11,000, and 10 innings quicker than Sachin. When he (was?) retired less than 50 runs short of 12,000 runs, he had played 15 innings(!) less than either Sachin or Ponting took to reach the mark. If not quite at the peak of his tremendous powers when he finished, probably still the best in the world. Doesn`t seem as if the WI board have improved much since, unfortunately.

Sanga, perhaps surprisingly quickest to 8000/9000 test runs, needs about 600 runs in 11 innings to be the fastest man to 10,000 test runs - would be an astonishing feat.

Finally, back on topic, Bradman was (as every man and his dog knows) 4 runs short of the 7000 mark after 80 innings. If we can give him an easy boundary in his `next` innings - he finishes a neat 50 innings clear of the next man to reach that milestone. Clear? - crystal!

• shrikanthk on June 9, 2012, 9:08 GMT

And regarding your persistence that slow bowlers like Bowes are easy to dominate

Sriraj: Don't get carried away by someone else's remarks and label Bowes as a "slow" bowler.

His lumbering run-up and stunted follow-through is rather deceptive. Players who faced him vouch that he came off the pitch quicker than expected.

I'd accurately classify him as a "medium-fast" seamer rather than a slow-medium bowler.

Bowes had a long career both on and off the pitch and remained a stellar figure at Yorkshire cricket circles coaching/influencing future Yorkshire bowlers like Fred Trueman.

The man is an institution of English cricket. His autobiographical book "Express Deliveries" is something I am looking forward to read.

He had the air of a professor, was an amateur magician and a thorough cricketing professional who dedicated his life to cricket.

The guy was also a gifted storyteller. I listened to him in the BBC Bodyline documentary shot in the 70s. Very skillful conversationalist.

• Ramesh Kumar on June 9, 2012, 8:45 GMT

Ananth,

Thanks for a very good analysis. We have understood about Bradman vs others in terms of “What”. It is more difficult to understand “how”. Is it focus? Then we have seen some really focussed players. Is it picking up length and line early? How did he manage to play swinging deliveries in England with his style of play? Has the LBW rule helped him? These are beyond numbers but any insights from experts here would help to understand the mystery of Bradman. [[ For that you should read the good books especially Fingleton's classic. Ananth: ]] Bheem..While DGB’s superiority in numbers may get tempered by some of the views, his numbers still tower over others. Cricket experts who have seen Bradman and then the later year players ( till 1980s) had continued to put Bradman as a clear no 1. As Shrikanthk keeps pointing out, FC averages are not that different from tests for greats and it proves that scoring consistently high is very difficult irrespective of opposition

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 8:09 GMT

It might also be worth pointing out re.some recent conversations, that 2 of the greats of the modern era - Pollock and McGrath, with a combined 1000 test wickets or so at an average of about 22 - regularly operated in the high 120s/low 130s range. In the old terminology, they may have occasionally touched fast-medium pace, but were more usually medium to medium-fast. Didn`t seem to affect their average much though, nor indeed their ability to regularly contain/trouble and dismiss some of the best.

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 7:53 GMT

@Ananth - yes, I get the feeling that most Goulburnians are either not aware of it (me until about 5 years ago, when I ran into a Bond fanatic), or would be happy for Queanbeyan to claim him as their own!?

Re. the woeful pace attacks of times past, I`ve found some great clips of Larwood (easy enough to find on youtube if you`re interested) - obviously an out and out fast bowler in anyone`s language. Also some far better quality clips of Lindwall/Miller, the great Aus opening pair of the post-war years. Wonderful stuff - 3 classical fast-bowlers, with distinctive styles. All of them bowled on many occasions to Bradman. Miller, in particular, was no great personal friend of The Don, nor indeed Bill O`Reilly - 2 of the greatest cricketers of all-time, and especially in O`Reilly`s case, one of the most fiercely competitive. However, neither of them were under any misapprehensions about the greatest batsmen they had played against or seen - by the length of the straight.

• Sriraj G.S. on June 9, 2012, 7:35 GMT

@Nitin Gautam: I find it totally surprising that Bradman's prolific scoring record is being compared to Tendulkar's longevity-based records!!! Yes, it is true that we might not see another batsman with 100 int'l centuries and 30k+ int'l runs. But how many countries do you think would have given a player the chance to debut at 16 and play for 22+ years? [[ Look at how Ponting is being handled by Aussies. No more than one tour at a time. Ananth: ]] The likes of Ponting, Cook, AB de Villiers etc have scored heavily in junior competitions with the former smashing many records. But they weren't given the privilege of debuting at 16 and won't be allowed to continue playing at their terms or keep their batting position permanently or pick and choose tours at will.

This is NOT to undermine Tendulkar who is an amazingly consistent batsman - just to remind that longevity records are not in the same basket as scoring records! It is fine to be a Tendulkar fan but that doesn't mean you have to nullify someone else's achievements! [[ Excellent comments. Ananth: ]]

• Sriraj G.S. on June 9, 2012, 7:26 GMT

@Bheem: I don't present any evidence but after reading all the comments above, my gut feel is that Bradman might have averaged 120 in today's era. I can't see how a clip showing 1 'slow' bowler can totally negate other factors like covered wickets, video analysis of bowlers, coaching support, better protection, smaller boundaries, heavier bats and full injury support.

The human (or rather Bradman's) eye is not such that he can thrash a 120k bowler and become totally impotent against a 150k Ambrose. Let's not forget Bradman had to fight a life-threatening ailment in the middle of his career which could have been treated easily today.

And regarding your persistence that slow bowlers like Bowes are easy to dominate, my experience in club cricket has been that I would happily face a 70mph youngster rather than a 50 year old bowling 50mph darts straight at the stumps ball after ball! The latter almost feels impossible to handle!

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 7:23 GMT

Here are some of the figures for the best starts to test careers in terms of innings/multiples of 1000 runs. 1st/2nd/best in last 20 years.

1000 runs: H.Sutcliffe, E.Weekes (12), Kambli (14) 2000 runs: Bradman (22), Headley (32), M.Hussey (33) 3000 runs: Bradman (33), Weekes (51), Lara (52) 4000 runs: Bradman (48), H.Sutcliffe (68), Lara (76) 5000 runs: Bradman (56), Hobbs (91), Hayden (95) 6000 runs: Bradman (68), Sobers (111), Sangakkara (116)

...and just the top 3 from now on.

7000 runs: Hammond (131), Sehwag (134), Tendulkar (136) 8000 runs: Sangakkara (152), Tendulkar (154), Sobers (157) 9000 runs: Sangakkara (172), Dravid (176), Lara/Ponting (177) 10,000 runs: Lara/Tendulkar (195), Ponting (196) - (incredible symmetry there for those 3 great contemporaries at the big milestone) 11,000 runs: Lara (213), Ponting (222), Tendulkar (223) 12,000 runs: Tendulkar/Ponting (247), Kallis (249) 13,000 runs: Tendulkar (266), Ponting (275), Dravid (277) 14,000/15,000: Tendulkar (279)/(300) [[ Very nice summary. Thanks a lot. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 7:01 GMT

Just in response to a much earlier comment re.batsmen with very quick starts to their career - based on innings per 1000 runs (easily accessed in the all records section of cricinfo stats) - surprisingly Bradman was not the quickest to 1000. Herbert Sutcliffe and Everton Weekes were both quicker (12 innings). Bradman took 13, although his was quickest in terms of matches played (7 vs 9 for the other two). Quickest in the last 20 years was Vinod Kambli - 14 innings. Not a bad start - unfortunately all over too quickly and oft-forgotten. He was a wonderful player at his best. [[ His 13th innings was the 334 pushing him to 99.67 average. And then there was none...to keep up with him. Ananth: ]] Ah, it`s a lazy Saturday afternoon. I might just get some figures together for you.

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 6:37 GMT

@Ananth - just going back through some of the comments, must have missed your reply re.Heather McKay/Queanbeyan. Indeed, it is in NSW, not part of the ACT as someone pointed out. I grew up just down the road on a small farm outside Goulburn. As I`ve mentioned before, Bill O`Reilly spent his high-school years in/near the town, and George Lazenby was definitely a Goulburn boy - not from Queanbeyan!! How dare you try and steal him from us. [[ Goulburn isclearly is in NSW. Queanbeyan is so close to the ACT that it is easy to assign it to ACT. However seems to be clearly outside the ACT line. Keep Lazenby to yourself. No great actor. My feeling is a poor man's Bond. So many Emmanuelle films. Looks like he was born in Goulburn as Wiki says. Surprisingly he is also listed under Quaenbeyan. Youmay ciorrect the Wiki entry. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 9, 2012, 5:45 GMT

@Bheem - players from the 30s had no idea about facing hostile bowling? (ever seen a clip of Larwood in full-flight?) Greats such as Bradman, Hammond, Hutton, McCabe would be made a mockery of by retired and aged modern bowlers?

Seriously, insulting and baseless statements such as these do little to convince people of your opinions.

• Meety on June 9, 2012, 3:32 GMT

@ Bheem - "...There is no evidence available from Bradman's career to make a conclusion that he could handle the sort of fast bowling in the sort of gruelling conditions that exist today." I would say Bodyline would be great evidence to suggest he could of survived the WIndies pace battery of the 80s with an average superior to everyone else, there is even some anecdotal evidence that Bradman at about 70 yrs of age faced Thommo in the nets near full pace & played him truely! From a SUBJECTIVE point of view, I think The Don would of slaughtered todays bowling, & with better access to sports medicine, would NOT have had the health issues, & possibly would of averaged even more than 99.94, & played well into his late 40s. He'd be picked up for about \$5 million a season in the IPL!!!!

• shrikanthk on June 9, 2012, 2:55 GMT

some hard evidence

I am not sure what to say if a couple of random 1-minute clips from the british pathe website qualifies as hard evidence!

Ofcourse it is convenient if you want to reach the conclusion first and then look for evidence to support it, instead of doing it the other way around. It's the missionary way of doing things.

I've no more appetite for an e-mail discussion. Thank you.

• Bheem on June 8, 2012, 23:58 GMT

Maybe that's too nuanced a point for your liking.

Nuanced ? There is another word but I will refrain. Because the question here is whether Bradman would score as prolifically today as he did in his time (and not the otherway). There is no evidence available from Bradman's career to make a conclusion that he could handle the sort of fast bowling in the sort of gruelling conditions that exist today. Thats the unfortunate truth. [[ Just a single question. How would today's batsmen have fared if asked to face the fast bowlers bowling at their throats with only the single protection piece: the box. No, you do not have the answer to this question just as I do not have the answer to yours. But the numbers stand, albeit with some tweaks. Ananth: ]] As for your suggestion that modern bowlers might not have succeeded in the 30s .. well even long retired & washed up Amby, Walsh,Waz ,McGrath etc would make mockery of the 30s teams given how they would hang on the back foot and no clue about reverse swing never mind facing hostile bowling.

You can continue to believe otherwise but Iam comfortable with my views and can back them with some hard evidence if you care to continue via email. Otherwise cheers and thanks for the discussion.

• Rob on June 8, 2012, 20:01 GMT

• shrikanthk on June 8, 2012, 13:05 GMT

I am not sure if this is the best place to exchange email addresses.

But since you admit that things are now vastly different and that bowlers like Bowes cant hope to succeed in test cricket

You're raising a somewhat irrelevant point. Yes. Bowes may not average 22 in Tests today (he may not have averaged 22 even in the 30s had he played 60 tests instead of 25). Having said that, there is no guarantee that Donald or Ambrose would've averaged 21 in the 30s, with a 20 over/hr norm on flat wickets with the old LBW law in place.

Maybe that's too nuanced a point for your liking.

Yes. Things are vastly different now. But whether it is for better or for worse is a totally subjective question.

What's evident to any casual observer is that a 65% difference in batting performance between the best and the 2nd best simply cannot be accounted for by any argument that you or I can make. It defies explanation and is without a parallel in the history of ball games.

• Bheem on June 8, 2012, 12:10 GMT

You seem to place a lot of premium on pace. By your logic, if Bowes averaged 22, then Gubby Allen should've averaged 16. But that's not the case....

Correct. Just like how we don't rate Sami better than McGrath. But in order to be successful like McGrath you need a certain amount of pace (and few other qualities) which I don't see in most bowlers from that Era.

The problem with a lot of modern viewers is the total inability to understand how the game was played prior to WWII. The overrates were vastly superior. Bowlers bowled much longer spells.

I know all about that and some. You are preaching to the wrong choir. Email me at beer dot kingfisher at gmail.com and we can chat

But since you admit that things are now vastly different and that bowlers like Bowes cant hope to succeed in test cricket how would you rate Bowes on a modern scale alongside Amby, Donald and Co ? To me Bowes is not even in the same country code (let alone zip code) as Amby,Donald&Co

• shrikanthk on June 7, 2012, 18:40 GMT

If you go back to the 20s, you had someone like Maurice Tate - about the same pace as Bowes or a tad slower, widely acknowledged as the leading bowler in the world.

He had contemporaries like Gregory and McDonald, who were genuine fast bowlers. Yet, those bowlers fared much worse in terms of runs-per-wicket. Not just in Test cricket mind you. But also in county cricket!

Goes to show how difficult it was to be a fast bowler in the 20s/30s. The pitches especially in tests were notoriously flat. The LBW law made leg-before dismissals a rarity.

No wonder, workhorses like Tate, Bowes among others did so well in that era.

You're right in saying that the likes of Tate/Bowes may not be found today. But that's because the conditions have changed.

Overrates are much lower. Pitches a tad quicker. Batsmen take more chances against accurate fast-medium bowling with their big bats.

That doesn't mean batsmen or bowlers in the 30s had it easy. It's just that the challenges were different!

• shrikanthk on June 7, 2012, 18:22 GMT

And anybody who has played this game at club level atleast will tell you that getting a 1000 wickets is not easy business. Regardless of the quality of FC opposition you're up against.

This whole notion of judging players by the odd clip is so pointless and rather mean.

I can make Sobers look like a terribly ordinary medium pacer by pointing out the odd clip here and there. What purpose does it serve. The people who faced him know how good a swing bowler he was.

The problem with a lot of modern viewers is the total inability to understand how the game was played prior to WWII. The overrates were vastly superior. Bowlers bowled much longer spells. Often they bowled within themselves on perfect pitches, handicapped by the LBW law. So you won't find every "fast" bowler charging in like Shoaib Akhtar each delivery.

The game has slowed down in the modern era, for better or worse. Thus giving a fillip to the "fast" bowlers.

• shrikanthk on June 7, 2012, 18:12 GMT

The point was to merely highlight the Pace aspect of Voce/Bowes bowling which shrikanth was suggesting was high early in Voce's career.

Did I suggest that? I thought I suggested that Voce was always a medium-fast operator. Never a fast bowler. Please don't put words in my mouth. My point was that he was a better bowler in the 30s. By 1946, he was almost finished. A man nearing forties who was rather ineffective most of the time.

You seem to place a lot of premium on pace. By your logic, if Bowes averaged 22, then Gubby Allen should've averaged 16. But that's not the case. Everyone whose opinion was worth hearing in the 30s ranked faster bowlers like Allen and Farnes behind Bowes!

And at no point do I rate Bowes or Voce or even Larwood on par with Donald or Ambrose! Nor does anybody in this room. Nevertheless each of them was a seasoned professional with over a 1000 FC wickets each. Not everyone who turned his arm over got a 1000 wickets in the 30s!

• Bheem on June 7, 2012, 16:18 GMT

I am removing the Youtube link. One delivery (or 3 or 5 deliveries) do not make a career. We cannot generalize, pointing out one instance

The point was to merely highlight the Pace aspect of Voce/Bowes bowling which shrikanth was suggesting was high early in Voce's career. This is certainly not true.

What I know from follwing cricket over many many yrs is that bowlers of that sort of pace - especially Bowes - cannot simply hope to have jaw dropping bowling avgs today. Don't take my word on this you can lookup all the pace bowlers from the last 30 yrs and you will not find one single guy like that. This is conventional wisdom. So for me to accept the likes of Bowes to be even remotely close to the likes of Donald, Ambrose I will have to drastically change my views about fast bowling which I cannot as it needs too big a leap of faith.

• Boll on June 7, 2012, 14:50 GMT

@Gerry. By all reports Michael Slater did a good impression of a cat on a hot tin roof while playing patience, let alone at the crease against pace like that. Still, 45 off 54 balls, was not a bad return...

• Som on June 7, 2012, 11:26 GMT

@Vikram, what something constitutes is never a question worth pondering, because what is measurable is only the projection on some loosely standardized object and that is as far as reality or the 'definition' of truth can take us. So even if your assumptions were true, it would be hard to apply that kind of a thought process in all walks of life with consistency. The degrees of accentuation of skills into deliverance and the role of critical bottlenecks and the suitability and adequacy of performance settings for a comprehensive judgement of all aspects of one's skillset is nigh impossible. A good length of career is the best one can do to ascertain, who all can be compared.

But I do hear what you are saying.

• Meety on June 7, 2012, 4:31 GMT

@Ravi M - just to support (on limited evidence), your arguement about Bradman the "Destroyer", he did get a 3 over 100 in a club match, probably comparable to Sydney 2nd or 3rd Grade level, regardless that was a feat! @Bheem - I don't get how you can say that low bowling averages in the 30s were a result of "batting standards" not being high. Whilst some of the footage you highlight may suggest an innocuous bowler, the reality is, that a fair few pitches in that era were extremely bowler friendly NOT batsmen friendly. A low bowler average would suggest to me bowling FRIENDLY conditions, which would mean that good batting stats in those conditions are meritorious. At the moment in world cricket, all it SEEMS to take is a slightly favourable bowling conditions & batsmen fall like 9-pins (read Newlands).

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 7, 2012, 4:15 GMT

A bit off track, but I thought Slater did a good imitation of a cat on a hot tin roof. In this case no one can accuse me of stealing a couple of fast balls. It is out there in its full glory. Thrilling stuff. [[ Too long a video. Ananth: ]]

• Vikram on June 7, 2012, 1:25 GMT

@Boll @David: I might not have communicated it well enough but that is exactly what I meant. A lot of people struggle with the concept of 99.96 vs. any other average (as did I). You either belittle 99.96 or you say he was 1.75 times better. Statistically true. As I said, I have 3 brackets of top quality batsmen at the moment 1. Group A - Bradman - 1.08 - 1.1 times group B 2. Group B - BCL, SRT, RP, IVAR, Chappel, Weekes (all within +/-2% of others) 3. Group C - RD, Kallis, VVS, Miandad, SMG, Waugh brothers, Zaheer, (all within +/-2% of others) - 0.95-0.98 times Group B And this is purely my ranking based on objective and subjective factors for test batsmanship. BTW, there are a few more names in Group B and C, this is just as illustration. And this is not based on stats, but I assumption of overall test batting quality. @ David: While I understand your point of DGB being better than say a BCL/SRT in most aspects by 1% , I believe that all combined it means a 8-10% gap overall. [[ I understand you. According to you no top batsman can be better than 20% or worse than 20% of another. You have mapped these batsmen in your own +-10% range. The point all of us must remember that the 10% as used by Vikram is not the same as 10% as used by Ananth. Ananth: ]]

• milpand on June 6, 2012, 22:47 GMT

Dekhiye paate hain ushhaaq buto’n se kya faiz   Ek Brahman ne kaha hai ki ye saal achha hai

(I am) Curious to find out how intense lovers will benefit from idol-worship (Well) A learned (idol-worshipping) man has prophesied a wonderful year ahead

Hum ko maloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin Dil ke khush rakhne ko, Ghalib ye khayaal achha hai

I know all about Paradise (and what fate awaits) but  Ghalib says if it makes me happy Why not look forward to a wonderful time ahead.

Dil ke khush rakhne ko, Ghalib ye khayaal achha hai is quoted often to mean 'clinging to a false belief in order to feel better'.

- Deep stuff from Ghalib and a shallow translation by Milind. [[ Maybe no one can do justice to Ghalib's immortal Urdu enunciation. You have made an excellent attempt. I know the problem. With my very good knowledge of Tamil and English, I could see how flat and artificial my translation of the Bharati poem came out. Shri had a good dig at me on that. Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 6, 2012, 18:02 GMT

@ Ananth Many thanks for the kind words and posting my comments on this topic which strangely becomes sensitive when Bradmans record gets questioned.

Its a shame that CI isnt intereseted in starting a forum. Email me if you are interested in discussing alternatives.

I will look at your revised table sometime later.

• SAncho on June 6, 2012, 16:45 GMT

Still trying to belittle his record is rather futile- and is just to make you feel better (that Tendulkar is as good as Bradman...which is what I feel most of the belittlers are trying to prove). Reminds me of a couplet by Mirza Ghalib -"hamko maloom ha jannat ki haqiqat lekin, dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib ye achcha hai" [[ Translated as ??? I know individual word meanings but cannot grasp the Urdu nuances. Ananth: ]]

• Sancho on June 6, 2012, 16:42 GMT

Ananth - can't say i fully agree to your statement of DGB not being destroyer extraordinary. This is a man who has scored a triple century in a day. And, if i am not mistaken, once scored a century in FC cricket in 22 balls (not fully sure of this...but it's something like that). Bradman, i believe almost never lofted the ball and hence perhaps did not get the reputation of being a big hitter. But he scored as fast as most people. And while he is certainly slower than Sehwag or Gilchrist, he scored 50 runs more than they did every time each of them walked out. To me, that is more destructive to the opposing team.

Frankly, to all those trying to find reasons to explain DGB's performance by running down the 30's -it's not worth it. More or less from Jack hobbs, the average of 50 has been a benchmark and only 3 other cricketers have crossed it....cont'd [[ I certainly asked for it. I should have remembered the 300+ in one day. Anyhow he was a smooth accumulator of runs at a very good pace. And he did this way above anyone had ever done. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 6, 2012, 13:18 GMT

@Vikram (and others), I think it is a mistake to assume that because Bradman's average was 1.75 x Tendulkar's, that he was therefore 1.75 x better at everything: saw the ball 1.75 x earlier, hit the ball 1.75 x harder, ran between the wickets 1.75 x faster, etc. In the language of modern-day professional sport, success is about executing the 1 percenters. The line between success and failure (scoring or getting out) is so fine, that to preserve your wicket doesn't mean doing something 1.75 x better, but doing it 1.01 x better. Bradman's genius was to be 1% better every delivery, beginning with his concentration, which meant he got out less and therefore averaged much more.

How many times have we seen batsmen have a lapse in concentration in their 80s when the 100 was theirs for the taking? With Bradman, that rarely happened (he was NEVER out in the 90s).

That was the only difference with him. But in the end, that made ALL the difference!

• Boll on June 6, 2012, 13:15 GMT

@Vikram - I understand what you`re saying, but I think you may be confusing test batsmen with batsmen as a whole. Sure, by test stats, Bradman has an average about 80% better than SRT/BL/RP. Tendulkar may have an average about 20% better than Laxman. Does this mean that Bradman is almost twice as good as other greats? - almost certainly not. However, at the very pointy end of batsmanship (ie.performance in the test arena), `only` being 2% (or in Bradman`s case - perhaps 10%) better can have a massive effect on your statistics.

Sure, Bradman may in reality only have been 10% better at batting than the next man - how this is reflected in the statistics equates to a massive difference though. Just a thought...

• Vikram on June 6, 2012, 11:33 GMT

@Ananth: By virute of any stats, DGB will be about 1.75x SRT/BCL/RP. All I am saying is that for me individually, I believe that DGB was more like a 1.1x of SRT/BCL/RP as a batsman. There is no rationale for this belief and as a result, maybe I am saying it in a wrong forum because we are here to use stats to derive insights. Therefore, it is impossible for me to defend myself, but I still hold that belief. That's all that I meant. As an example, if you compare VVS and SRT stats, SRT is about 1.1 VVS. My personal belief is that SRT is about 1.02 VVS as a batsman. Again, no rationale, just a mix of objective and subjective factors. [[ Fair enough, Vikram. Once one's persoanl beliefs come in, there can be no arguing with that. However thanks to you I have stumbled upon a nice normalizing option. Ananth: ]]

• Nitin Gautam on June 6, 2012, 7:08 GMT

Off topic but what happened in Barbados Yday proves that Indian cricket future will be in safe hands. Pujara played a great captain's knock N Rohit provided ample support. Im sure Rohit-pujara-kohli would be next sachin-dravid-laxman.

Should be an eye opener for many who believe IPL is the only platform to break into team India. [[ I have always believed that Pujara is the best amongst the young batsmen and should immediately walk into the no.3 spot. Kohli has delivered to some extent. I still have my reservations on Rohit Sharma. Too much adulation and too much expectation. He has to be given an extended run to know one way or other. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 3:44 GMT

Most part of early days (may be well into 1930's to may be 40's) we dont have exact details of how the batsman got out, who got them out, when the wickets fell etc . . . in fact many scorecards have only "?"s

I'm a little shocked to see how half-truths and myths are being asserted in these comments.

We have ALL the details on how batsmen got out throughout Test history. Please check the scorecards before making such comments.

We've seen another comment where it was categorically stated "Bowes is about as fast as Kumble" on the evidence of 1-2 deliveries (where the WK is standing back!)

I just don't know what to say.

• Ranga on June 6, 2012, 3:20 GMT

One important factor we should note in the scorecards of yesteryears is that the scores werent recorded meticulously as it was done later. Most part of early days (may be well into 1930's to may be 40's) we dont have exact details of how the batsman got out, who got them out, when the wickets fell etc . . . in fact many scorecards have only "?"s. The recording of runs scored were more important than the other factors. So we may correctly say x scored 55 runs, but we may not know how much y conceded. Sometimes they dont tally. So when we calculate the ave bowling quality faced by Don, we have to weigh in these factors as well. And if the average of all those bowlers were 30+, then we should have quite a lot of batsmen with 60+ averages, which is not the case. So it goes back to the basic question asked by Ananth: If bowling was so bad, then why didnt everyone score 80+? A good average for test batsmen then was around 30 . . . Don scored thrice as much!!! [[ Ranga One thing I can vouch for is the quality of data in my database which has been primarily sourced from Cricinfo but has been continually improved. I agree that the fall of wickets and who was out when is quite hazy. The following table, extracted from my Test Summary analysis, will confirm that the 1930s were good for batting, but no more than the recent 40 years and worse than the 2000s.. Match analysis 2 (Runs/Wkt, Runs/Over) Period RpO RpW BpW 1877-1899 2.49 22.2 53.5 1900-1914 2.91 26.0 53.7 WW1-WW2 2.70 32.7 72.7 40s-50s 2.37 29.9 75.7 1960s 2.50 32.2 77.4 1970s 2.70 32.7 72.7 1980s 2.87 32.5 68.1 1990s 2.87 31.6 66.1 2000-2010 3.22 34.3 63.9 2011-2012 3.15 32.5 61.8 All Tests 2.82 31.9 67.9 Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 2:53 GMT

Yes I know yrs down the line people might laugh at todays standards but thats the nature of progress!!

I was not referring to progress! I was referring to the passage of time which rids of any sentimental attachment to the names we are familiar with and enable us to look at them irreverently.

The reason why the long-hops of the 30s strike you as odd, while the long-hops of 2012 are somehow "respectable" is because you have a stake in the 2012 bowlers (people you grew up watching) whereas the 30s bowlers are simply random names.

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 2:40 GMT

The 30s was not a great era for fast bowling in particular. Something even the historians at the time agreed on. Fast bowling was not as fashionable in the 30s as it was in the 1890s for instance.

Yet, there were a good number of quick bowlers around the world - Larwood, Farnes and Allen in England. McCormick, Laurie Nash and Harry Alexander.

As one would expect, the Australians have worse FC averages as they bowled on firmer pitches. Englishmen have more flattering records given the conditions in which they plied their trade.

And many of these quick guys (Nash, Alexander for instance) had modest careers in comparison with steady medium-fast bowlers like Bowes.

Even in eras closer to ours, a Jeff Thomson averaged more per wicket than a fast medium bowler like Max Walker (whose footage may not impress you on first sight). Here's a clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jHPC2gHckg [[ This is a ODI bowling clip. The shots are typical ODI shots. However having said that one cannot argue with Walker's Test figures: 138 wickets at 27.48 (and 2.25) in 34 Tests. Better average than Thomson, Gough, Botham, Hogg, McDermott et al. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 2:21 GMT

Bheem : The fact that you draw conclusions based on 1946 footage suggests you haven't read up on Voce.

Voce was bowling after an 8 year break from Test cricket in that series. He was nearing 40 if I am not mistaken. This isn't the Voce who was one of the better bowlers in the world back in the early 30s.

Doug Wright, the fastish leggie, who is also highlighted in the video is another veteran playing first-class cricket after 6 years of War.

Everybody, even the contemporary press, acknowledged the weakness of English bowling in 1946. This is not a secret that you have unearthed.

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 2:12 GMT

There's a reason I quoted those Cardus and Glasgow quotes on Bowes.

Notice how they remark on Bowes' languid run and leisurly approach - things which we first notice in video clippings.

What does that tell you. These features of his bowling stood out even back then. It's not as though only the modern viewer is put off by these things.

Yet the guy was successful! Period.

Check out clips of Gubby Allen if you want. He had this rather vigorous long run (more earnest than Bowes) and was definitely 2-3 notches quicker than Bowes. Yet, nobody rated him in the same parish as Bowes. Cricket is not a WYSIWYG game. What you see is not what you get. That's why true cricket fans look beyond footages and gain insights from figures.

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 2:06 GMT

Some comments on Bowes by contemporary writers - Cardus and Glasgow

The duration of Bowes career, and his lack of long and frequent absences through injury, was doubtless a result of his economical action, described light-heartedly by Neville Cardus as a somnambulistic gait bowled as though sleep was still drowsily soothing his limbs. In similar vein, albeit rather more fully, "Crusoe" Robertson-Glasgow echoed the point when he wrote Bill's run up when bowling is a leisurely business. I sometimes wonder whether he is going to get there at all. His whole approach to the supreme task in cricket suggests, quite falsely, indolence, negligence, almost reluctance. But he is just keeping it all in for the right moment. If you watch closely you will see the full use of great height, strong shoulder and pliant wrist. His direction is unusually accurate; he varies his pace to suit the pitch; he can swing even a worn ball very late from leg, and often with an awkward kick

• shrikanthk on June 6, 2012, 1:57 GMT

Today you simply wont get anywhere near a Test team with that sort of bowling never mind hope to end up with a sub 25 bowling avg

What I don't like is the certainty in the tone of such comments that are based on an off-the-cuff examination of 1-2 loosener deliveries from an old newsreel. You don't find it necessary to examine the literature, examine the evidence and take a more nuanced view.

There were lots of bowlers in the 30s who averaged 35+ in tests. Including fine FC spinners like Fleetwood Smith and Doug Wright. It's not as if anybody and everybody ended up with a test average of 22. You also had part-timers with averages of 50, 60, 70 - just like today. So if someone averages 22, he obviously had some matter in him.

We are not talking about some arbitrary amateur cricketer here. These are professional cricketers, many of them with 300-400 first-class matches to their credit. I would think a little harder than you before dismissing them based on a couple of clips.

• Bheem on June 6, 2012, 0:39 GMT

@shrikanthk

I have not only seen old footage but analyzed it painstakingly. If you look at it in a very unbiased manner it is very obvious to anyone with a open mind that the standards back then were very modest. While pace is not the be all and end all of fast-bowling it is however a vital ingredient. It is simply impossible to avg below 25 today with that sort of pace unless you are a freak like Murali. What this means is that the batting standards were not that high to even cope with such modest bowling. Either that or the pitches were demons which we know for certain was not the case. But since we have been bombarded with the Bradman legend for decades with highly embellished accounts it will take quite some doing to undo the brainwashing and look at the matter very impartially in a cold and calculated manner based on credible evidence. Yes I know yrs down the line people might laugh at todays standards but thats the nature of progress!! Time doesnt wait or care for anybody [[ I can understand the difficulty in accepting a near-100% differential. However if you see my response to Vikram, the differential is reduced to 55%. The other point many have made is that if the bowling was that bad, why do we not have couple of the 1930s batsmen with averages 70/80. Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 6, 2012, 0:32 GMT

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/australia-aka-the-first-test/query/Voce

[i] I agree that Tests are different. However on helpful pitches the nippy medium-pacer, who can swing the ball both ways, is always going to be a handful. Anyhow Voce, Larwood, Farnes, Griffith were certainly faster bowlers[/i]

@Ananth that link above has got some good footage of Voce and is self explanatory. Also pitches in that era were considered to be very batting friendly including the LBW law which overtly favoured batsmen. So for such bowlers to be able to get away with sub-25 bowling avgs the batting standards must have been pretty low overall.

Suggestion : It will be really wonderfully if you can get Cricinfo to start a forum. It will be much easier to post for us and for you to moderate. We can then argue to our hearts content. :grin: [[ Bheem I like your approach. Even though you are presenting a contra-view you are not denigrating anyone nor doing a transparent push-up effort. That is the way one can get acceptance and respect and that is the cornerstone of this blogspace. Pl see my response to Vikram Kumar. That seems to be a genuine method of normalizing. I tried telling Cricinfo that this blog should be changed and have two articles and one topic of discussion each month. Also that the method of handling comments should be changed to reflect a forum atmosphere. Twice, as a matter of fact. But to no avail. Even now, after contributing well over 80% of the 150+ articles published here over its four-year history, I share the introductory space with analysts/writers whose last article was published 2/3 years back. Ananth: ]]

• Som on June 5, 2012, 20:08 GMT

The comparison between old times and current times based on setting seems so futile and naive. Human comprehension is ever increasing, so there is no point in saying that Bolt is a better runner than Owens and similarly any other skill. The question is, given the constraints of a particular era, which sometimes is physical, and many a times mental - did someone maximize in the best possible way compared to others in that era. If that answer is yes, than a champion in any era is a champion. And what Bradman has achieved compared to his peers is mindboggling. One should realize that just because most good batsmen in the current era are stuck in the 50-58 average range, it does not mean that that is the limit of human faculties at the current moment (or feel that we have reached the human limit). If so, someone has to look at Gayle's performance in the past 2 years in 20-20 games compared the rest of the field. He has shown that one can get far ahead from the pack. Cont...

• Youvi on June 5, 2012, 18:56 GMT

It is not as if DB played at the time of unrecorded history ! The numbers are there and one thing is certain is that DB's record was significantly above any other batsman. Through the decades a lot has been written by people who actually saw him play and his numbers match the effusive praise from these accounts as well. As if there was a collective conspiracy to raise DB to an exalted status ! I find it strange that your elegant analysis of DB's numbers remains unchallenged but the naysayers prefer to go on untested assumptions on poorer bowling standards, footwork issues, seemingly easy batting times, etc. Your analysis, Anantha, has provided a new insight into DB's batting record. Very well done and objective. It has contributed to a greater understanding of the unique cricketing phenomenon called Don Bradman. Thanks

• Vikram on June 5, 2012, 18:34 GMT

I guess the reason why it's difficult to accept Don's supremacy is that in most popular sports there has been no real equivalent. In most cases, the old records have been bettered and the proverbial four-minute mile has spurred on future generations. Even for an Einstein, there has been a Newton who did some incredible stuff. Not so here. So it is easy to look at this particular record and question it's validity (pitches, limited opposition, bowler quality). Personal belief: he was good, better than everyone else, but maybe by 8-10%. No reason for this number, just a gut feel. And please note, that 10% is a huge amount, given that we rank IVA, BCL, SRT, RP, GS all within +/-2% of each other, with another bunch of batsmen again 2-5% below this group. If nothing else, he should be given credit for pushing himself beyond anyone else around, just creating his own level. It is easy to settle for bettering the competition, but he didn't need a pace setter and that is a huge credit to him. [[ While I agree that the figure of nearly 100% (on the lower average) is probably quite high, I cannot but feel that your reducing the difference to 10-20 is way out. 10% is the difference between the averages of Smith and Tendulkar and 20% is the difference between Smith and Sutcliffe. That seems to be wrong. If we use a factor based on the ABQ, say multiply batting average by "ABQ/30", bringing the averages across the board to the same base, the following are the numbers. Bradman 83.40 Sobers 54.05 Weekes 51.65 Chappell 50.05 Lara 49.56 Barrington 48.98 Tendulkar 48.27 This looks more like it. The differential is reduced substantially. I will update the special table (Arjun/Giri) with this figure. THE TABLE HAS SINCE BEEN UPDATED. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 5, 2012, 18:19 GMT

It means nothing. But the reason I posted that video was to draw attention to the gulf between standards and how stats from those days are notoriously misleading

I've seen a lot more footage of 30s/40s than this, including an hour long documentary narrated by O'Reilly.

Larwood, a fast bowler by any era's standards, had a worse FC average than Bowes. Lindwall, arguably the fastest of Bradman's career, averaged slightly worse than either Larwood or Bowes in FC cricket. You don't judge a bowler by his pace or the odd long hop that gets highlighted in an old newsreel clip. Get rid of the cobwebs and examine several "poor bowling" highlights from more recent test matches. A lot of it will embarrass you fifty years later when you watch them with no biases.

Another bowler who got highlighted in that newsreel was Grimmett. A round-arm bowler who was one of the finest leggies of his era. The inventor of the flipper. Just because his action is unorthodox doesn't mean he ain't any good

• Ravi M on June 5, 2012, 16:03 GMT

Anyway, all said and done, everything comes back to this amazing analysis by Ananth. Bradman's ability to convert the decent start into big 100 and frequency with which he scored those were indeed "what made him click"! We all had a hunch; but now it's been quantified.

They say numbers don't always tell the full story; but in-depth analysis such as this almost does it. Unlike most greats, (e.g. Warne vs Ind), no matter how one looks at Bradman's records; it's just so complete. Most often overlooked ones are his FC 100s against O'Reilly before the war & his 100s against Miller, Lindwall, Johnston after the war. Rarely failed.

FC matches were pretty intense those days. Attendance total of 50-70,000 was quite usual in Australia - especially involving Bradman. These days, we don't even get 3-4,000 in total for finals; let alone random matches.

• Bheem on June 5, 2012, 12:46 GMT

@shrikanthk reg Bowes vs PK : PK has played in a grand total of 45 FC matches compared to Bowes 372. PKs avg will most certainly drop as he plays more wait and watch. There is no comparison to be made w.r.t pace either. You can play that video frame by frame in movie maker and you will find that he is comparable in speed to a Anil Kumble not PK or Pollock. Even otherwise the follow-thru is a tell tale indicator. Back in those days such bowlers were classified as medium pace bowlers. It means nothing. But the reason I posted that video was to draw attention to the gulf between standards and how stats from those days are notoriously misleading. Today you simply wont get anywhere near a Test team with that sort of bowling never mind hope to end up with a sub 25 bowling avg. Such avg's are limited to bowlers like Allan Donald,Ambrose,Marshall,Wasim types. So when stats from 30s era are taken at face value and compared as is with todays era it leads to erroneous conclusions. [[ I agree I am referring to the ODIs. World Cup was won by India, almost solely through the efforts of the two military (no, not even military, let us say, slow) medium pacers: Amarnath and Madan Lal. Razzak has captured 269 wickets, Harris has captured 202 and Kluesener 192. I agree that Tests are different. However on helpful pitches the nippy medium-pacer, who can swing the ball both ways, is always going to be a handful. Anyhow Voce, Larwood, Farnes, Griffith were certainly faster bowlers. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 5, 2012, 12:24 GMT

@Darren Lucas, your spreadsheet work is an interesting concept, although the results are kind of unremarkable, given the mark of 100 you set yourself. We already know that every time Bradman went out to bat he averaged almost 100, so you'd only need to remove a couple of innings to push his average above that.

What I would be more interested in would be for you to run the same calculations, but set the bar at 125 or 150, or even 200. That's when I suspect the differential between Bradman and the rest would start to get really pronounced (although, perhaps as you approach 200 the gap will close up again? Just a guess). [[ As has been shown in the article there seems to be a levelling as the big scores are considered. Ananth: ]]

• Ranga on June 5, 2012, 11:18 GMT

With quite a few comments about a few chinks in the Don's armoury, none of us alive have seen him live (or even good footage). But one thing is sure. It doesnt matter if Don didnt have good footwork- nor does it matter that he couldnt face shortpitched bowling - nor does it matter that he couldnt face quality spinners...the fact of the matter is, he scored despite all these (if people could call) drawbacks. I dont understand technical excellence - Who had a better technique - Manjrekar or Sehwag? And who would anyone pick in their test teams?? My only take is without technique of any nature, one cant score that many runs the way he did. If someone ends 16/20 seasons with 80+ average - I just dont find any reason to point any chinks in that person's armoury! Leave alone footwork, i dont mind if that guy doesnt have a foot at all - if he could score like how the great Don did! [[ Ah! that last sentence. A gem. Ananth: ]]

• Ranga on June 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT

Just a look back at the Don's overall FC Career - The only sub-50 average was in his 1st year (1927). Out of the 20 years he played FC cricket, he played 5+ macthes on 18 occasions. (The other time he didnt play 5+ matches were during WWII and retirement year). Rest of the 18 seasons, he topped 60,ALWAYS, avged 60-80 on 3 occasions, avged 80-90 on 4 occasions, 90-100 for 2 occasions and crossed 100 on 8 occasions(every other year of his career, he crossed 90/inns)! The WWII was the only season (1940-45) where he played a handful of matches (4)and didnt score a double. Now that is consistency ACROSS different conditions! He didnt apparently play for any Eng county, so the only occasion he got to play FC in Eng was when Aus toured. Those days when FC and Tests were played with equal intensity, these are quite some numbers!Forget Ave, his RPI value was an astonishing 83! (cotd...) [[ I am amazed at the number of facts unearhed by the readers. And rightly the FC scene in the 1930-40s is being given its due importance. Today's followers know no FC. They move from T20s through IPL to ODIs and if they are interested they go to Tests and back to IPL. Ananth: ]]

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 8:06 GMT

@Shrikanth & Ravi M

I have never seen bradman play or any of the names I mentioned barring SRT & Lara. seeing few footage I can not make out the technicalities of the batting since most of the clips available on youtube are there to glorify few aspects of the game/player. just an eg you can see Rajaaq, Afridi smashing Mcgraw in ODIs so I wont draw conclusion based on that. I wrote what sometimes I have read somewhere. what you people said can be obviously true & I never deny Bradman's genius. & Certainly never got my hand on MCC coaching manual.. :) re. hutton bowling & DGB smashing him wont do justice to the context here, I know his SR is 58+ which is way ahead of his time & better than SRT, ponting etc. I was just saying he was best at what is single most important attribute of a batsman i.e. making runs. similarly who finds whom as most pleasing to watch is what best batsman is & that is always a personal choice. For me SRT & Lara..No offence @Anantha RIP IPL :)

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 7:50 GMT

No Anantha I dont agree. by no stretch of imagination & no matter how wide i try, I cant foresee Arjun (just an eg. as u said) can play 100 tests with 300 ODIs & 300 T20 internationals altogether. Getting selected for 300 T20 would make his or anyone else's technique so shallow that he wont ever be successful in tests & wont be selected. had SRT been young n played 300 T20, im equally sure he would not have made to 100 tests & 300 T20 simultaneously. so no ques of arjun making playing for so long making so many runs. & imagination has to be based on some facts, how can I or you see him making to national team next year. It is Simply not possible for anyone else now.The bar is at unachievable heights.

Just like I cant see anyone overtaking 800 test wickets or 1300+ international wickets for Murli & 1000 WK dismissals for Boucher.

Just like you, me or anyone can see anyone having 100 avg after 50 tests.. cant argue with all these numbers & certainly i cant envisage what you can [[ That was a deliberate and provocative outrageous comparison to make a point. I myself think many of these marks are never going to be bettered. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi M on June 5, 2012, 7:19 GMT

Overall look at scorecards won't tell the whole story. But, almost every significant innings of Bradman had its fair share of elegance, destruction and compactness as necessary. It was a perfect blend. Yes, the video footage is limited; but enough to suggest what was documented in books were true.

As for the part about not being able to believe several 1000s walking for days to see Bradman, it's very well documented in almost all of Bradman biographies - there are about 30 books at least which are very very well written. Roland Perry's "the Don" the definitive biography is probably the best read for anecdotes. There's Wisden's golden 100th birthday edition. There are several books called simply Bradman or The Don. If you're serious, I can give the proper names and authors.

• Ravi M on June 5, 2012, 7:13 GMT

Bradman takes Hutton for 30 runs in 3 overs. 24 of those came in 7 balls Bradman faced in 2nd and 3rd over. On that pitch with massive rough patches, Hutton's been neutralised. He was a part-timer; yes, but that day, if he continued to bowl the way he did to Morris, Australians might have lost by 200 runs. Bradman wasn't required to continue the assault on a tricky wicket. So, now we don't consider him capable of destructive batting; maybe we would've called Bradman a destroyer if he got out for run-a-ball 50 more often (like he did throughout the BODYLINE) - better yet, with a shot similar to what IVA played in the 1983 final! LOL

Yes, IVA is far more destructive batsman; but my point is DON was always about winning, which meant scoring heavily and consistently; & when situation demanded, score at run-a-ball and maybe even please the crowd once in a while with elegant strokeplay. Bradman was never an ugly stroke maker, he was always good to watch. It just wasn't his greatest trait! [[ Ravi You put me in my place. Great. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi M on June 5, 2012, 7:12 GMT

@ Nitin

I'm not sure why Bradman's technique was any inferior to Hobbs or any. I'm not sure why his batting was any less poetry. Or, his flamboyance/destructive batting is any less inferior. Yes, there might have been superior batsmen in certain aspect. Does that mean, having it all makes you master of none by default? It reminds me of Jimmy Connors' line: "In an era of specialists, you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you're Roger Federer. Bradman was capable of everything; that's why he wasn't tagged as one. For instance, 173* Leeds (technique), 254 Lord's (poetry), 244 Oval (belligerent). They are just primary examples. Bradman simply did what was most required at the time.

Let me expand on that, 1948 Leeds, out of nowhere Hutton was asked to bowl and he started with a maiden and produced 2 edges off Arthur Morris' bat, including a drop catch. Bradman who just came to the crease decided to take matters into his own hand.

• shrikanthk on June 5, 2012, 6:22 GMT

Another thing to be borne in mind is -

Back in the 30s, a lot of fast bowlers doubled up as both strike bowlers and stock bowlers given the strength of batting they were up against and the placid, over-prepared Test wickets (Not referring to FC wickets over here, mind you).

So you have someone like Bowes who was a medium fast bowler by nature. But quite often he used to bowl medium pace as well with the wicketkeeper standing up. Same thing holds for Bedser and Tate.

Even a genuinely quick bowler like Farnes used to occasionally bowl medium pace with WK standing up if he was required to bowl a really long spell. That's what you see in the 1938 1st test footage when McCabe hit 232.

That's how it was back in the day. Not like today where overrates have declined significantly the world over with bowlers having really long run-ups regardless of their pace.

Eg: Someone like Sreesanth has this long long run-up. But in terms of pace, I doubt if he is more than a notch quicker than Bowes

• Darren Lucas on June 5, 2012, 6:18 GMT

Minimum score which when reached batsman averages 100 or more, a few picks: Bradman 5 Lara 41 Tendulkar 44 Sobers 47 [[ This is in some ways similar to the comment on median scores. Bradman's was 56 and almost all other top players, 30-33. Ananth: ]] Now comparing modern greats First Class only stats versus Bradmans Test stats but its a little harder to get hold of the innings lists for all FC (isn't statsguru fantastic, tho!) but anyhow, Tendulkar averages 65.1 in 104 games, similar average to other greats of the past and present, but not even close to Bradmans Test stats, besides he also averaged 93.65 just in FC alone. Lets not pretend test bowling attacks of the past were inferior to FC bowling attacks of the present, and lets not put greats of the past down just because DGB was so far ahead of them - clearly he would have been far ahead in any era.

Ty again for very thought provoking post.

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 6:01 GMT

@Anantha

Did not understood the need for citing IPL example here. 1st that is 90% business 10% cricket. 2nd maintaining that price tag in an open market can be challenging for anyone just for an eg KP was bought for whopping 1.55 mn/season in 2009 bu he didnt play/didnt performed, & his price tag went down by more than 75% when he was auctioned for 600K. IPL financials are completely diff thing & based on those riches, i guess, pressure can not be estimated. certainly saurabh tiwariu would not want his price to go down so he would be under pressure to perform to keep earning that much money since there are not more than 1% chance for him to be in national team in next 5 years [[ No, Nitin, you are the one splitting hairs. My point was only to bring out the way the word "pressure" is totally misused nowadays. That was the most outrageous example I could recollect, that is all. Let us not discuss this further. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 5, 2012, 5:55 GMT

As mentioned & agreed by many he was not technically best (hobbs, Sutcliff, gavaskar), neither was poetry in motion (Lara, zaheer, gower) nor overall package of brilliance personified (SRT)

Not technically the best? Who decides what is the best technique in cricket? The one in the MCC coaching manual?

Bradman was a very sound backfoot player who stuck to Ranji's maxim - Play back or Drive.

By all accounts he was probably a better player of slow bowling with excellent footwork than those Englishmen you mention (especially Hammond/Sutcliffe) who were often tied down by people like Grimmett and O'Reilly.

I'd hate to regard Hobbs or Hammond as Bradman's equals in any respect.

To me, you have DGB. Then daylight. And then a host of other players. If I am forced to handpick any two other players for the podium, I will go with Sobers and Tendulkar!

With due apologies to Grace and Ranji - whose influence on batsmanship is unquantifiable.

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 5, 2012, 5:47 GMT

Bheem. Was Bowes as good as Marshall? He generated 22/17 in tests/FC. Whether he ran fast or slow, left arm or right, overarm or underarm, is immaterial. What matters is did he do arbitrage, or was his 22 generated in the same conditions as Bradman's 99.94? As long as the batting average is generated in the same conditions as the BQI, the batting average / BQI is merited. However, if Bowes generates a great average on sticky pitches when Bradman is not batting, and very poor average when Bradman played, then Bowes average is not so much merited. When Ananth does his Bowlers Across Batsman Groups Across Ages, we will find out who stands where.

• shrikanthk on June 5, 2012, 5:43 GMT

Voce was much faster.

Voce was faster yes. But again not really a "fast bowler" like Larwood or Farnes or even McCormick.

Just because he wasn't fast doesn't mean he wasn't a good bowler. Pace isn't everything. Voce had a wicked bouncer which made him quite a threat.

By the way Bheem : In our own era, Praveen Kumar (PK as we lovingly call him) is roughly the same pace as Bowes without the height which made Bowes a threat. Yet PK averages 23 in First class cricket on Indian wickets!!!!!!!!

There you go. You scoff at Bowes averaging 17 on often dodgy county wickets. But in our own era we have the likes of PK, Vinay Kumar, Trent Copeland who have excellent first-class averages on placid batting wickets. And these guys are not demonstrably quicker or better than Bowes!!

Yet do you scoff at them?

Tall bowlers with high arm action, whatever the pace, are always a threat in any form of cricket. Bowes belonged to that category. And I'd never discount him.

• Darren Lucas on June 5, 2012, 5:40 GMT

I've just been playing around for some hours now with the spreadsheets, (lots of fun ty!) One aspect looking at his average once certain scores were reached, as suggested by another commenter e.g. once he gets to 20, his average score was 118, and so wondering what score he reached where he averaged 100 or more, and that score is 5!!! Once he got to 5 his average was 101.27! Will try and have a look at some other top players to see what score they get to where they average 100 following it, but first up this was pretty amazing.

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 5:35 GMT

@Gerry Tendulkar is promoted to MP and Bharat Ratna proposed despite miserably failing during this 8-0. Promoting to MP & BR quest (nominated MPs in RS in India are 12 in no.& does not hold much meaning as such Lata, dara sing, hema malini & many more have been nominated) was culmination of 23 years of cricket & not reward for failing in 8 test matches as you pointed out. failure in 8 matches can not & I believe should not undo the efforts of another 180 tests & 450+ODIs for team getting stoned & Dhone not being sacked is just a matter of changing times not reduction in pressure. in 2003 after dismal performance in WC, homes of few Indian playesr were stoned but not in 2007..time changed not pressure. as for SRT he also had his share or criticism in his career.

• shrikanthk on June 5, 2012, 5:27 GMT

Bheem : Also what I said about Bowes also applies to Alec Bedser to a great extent.

The guy was not a fast bowler by any standards. But the figures are excellent because of the conditions which favoured medium pace bowling back in the 30s especially in England.

Bedser was a great bowler in England. But a toiler with a somewhat high average outside England, especially in Australia on sun baked pitches.

So the averages of people like Bedser and Bowes reflects the conditions in which they played their cricket. And not the quality of the batsmen they faced.

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 5:24 GMT

As for his ardent fans, this is the blog where I have read more readers sending comments criticizing him than praising him so its not like his failures never made headlines but his achievements are just too many. Some one said here that there wont be another Bradman bcos he achieved 99.94. Will there be another SRT with 188+ tests, 483+ ODIs, 34k+ runs, 100 100s, 23+ years of untiring cricket or for that matter another murli with 133 tests 800 wickets or another Boucher with close to 1000 helps he provided to bowlers. Please lets not dwell on easy runs or easy wickets thing for SRT or murli. Everyone has their share of easy pies. As much as I respect Bradman for what he achieved is certainly unachievable in coming future by anyone but than such feat of unachievable achievements has been accom0plished by others too. So lets not make him too extraordinary as a cricketer. [[ Nitin What we are saying is only that by a wide, wide and wide stretch of imagination we can visualize another batsman, let me say Arjun Tendulkar (so that acceptance is easy), playing 100 Tests, 300 ODIs and 300 T20s starting next year and scoring 105 centuries, overtaking SRT. But bu no stretch of imagination can anyone, I certainly cannot, visualize a batsman playing 50 Tests and averaging 100 or 200 ODIs and averaging 75 (approximately equivalent). That is all the message. Ananth: ]]

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 5:19 GMT

“SRT's 100s made headlines; never his failures” I completely deny that. SRT has been the most scrutinized player ever. Everyone has his opinion on how sachin played.Leave Indian media where many columnist, panel discussion participants (print & electronic both), former players (many of whom do not come even 100 mile close to him in terms of batting read chandrakant pandit, nayan mongia, Kambli etc) who have blasted him in various talk shows, even Rhodes, akram, crow, etc have been asked by their sponsors to give opinions on SRT’s failures even if they have not watched the match & they did based on media reports. During 2003-2006 phases Manjerakar termed him as Big elephant in dressing room, media coined the term “Endulkar” & probably only player of such stature to be booed in his home town (Mumbai).Ganguly with all his repeated failure, off the field controversies remained a revered figure in Eden gardens & Kolkata.

• shrikanthk on June 5, 2012, 5:06 GMT

And look at his FC stats ... an avg of 16.76 !!! Even Malcolm Marshall does not have such FC stats. Sorry can't buy the Bradman legend which is based on beating up such modest bowlers

Anybody familiar with English FC scene of the 30s would know that a FC average of 17-18 was not exceptional in those days. Wickets were often quite dodgy in the county circuit and as a result, there invariably existed a huge gulf between Test and FC averages for top bowlers.

A classic example is Larwood. A FC average of 18. But a test average of 28.

Re Bill Bowes : Even during his own career, Bowes was regarded as a "military medium" bowler with great accuracy and an ability to extract good bounce given his height. He was never categorized as a "fast bowler"!!!

In our own generation, we have seen the likes of Pollock average in low 20s even late in their careers when they were reduced to Bill Bowes' pace.

Also Bowes was quite ordinary in Aus as one would expect on hard, true surfaces! [[ Voce was much faster. Ananth: ]]

• Nitin Gautam on June 5, 2012, 5:03 GMT

@Ravi M Really several 1000 ppl walked for days & slept under trees to watch Don bat. I agree during 1930 n great depression time, he was the only person Australians lukd to seek inspiration & he provided with aplomb but what u said seems quiet farfetched emotional thing to me. Not that I am denying it but never read/heard any historical evidence to it. Not comparing pressures faced by players in different times, but 52 80 6996 99.94 means he was the greatest accumulator or run machine that ever played cricket but best batsman is certainly debatable & completely personal choice. As mentioned & agreed by many he was not technically best (hobbs, Sutcliff, gavaskar), neither was poetry in motion (Lara, zaheer, gower) nor overall package of brilliance personified (SRT). & finally Must say, probably you are the greatest fan of the ultimate run machine & I agree he is truly DON of cricket [[ And you could add: nor was he destroyer extraordinary (Richards/Sehwag/Gilchrist) Ananth: ]]

• Neeraj Raina on June 5, 2012, 4:31 GMT

Don Bradman was never dismissed in the nineties in first class cricket. That means that he was never nervous of the milestone or may be at that time these milestones (50's or 100's ) didn't matter much more than the victory. Recent greats have fallen in nervous nineties more often than not due to high expectations or something. [[ Not the expectations but their own shortcomings. Why blame the crowd/media when a player gets dismissed at 95. Ananth: ]]

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 5, 2012, 3:19 GMT

I love this: "As for the "pressure" part, there's no argument that "pressure" for performing is highest for SRT than any other cricketer in the past 30 years or maybe even past 60."

You may want to read a bit of history. After winning the World Cup in '83, and losing to the mighty West Indies 3-0 in 6 tests (by no means disgraceful when England lost 10-0 couple of years later), Kapil Dev was not only sacked, but after the Calcutta test, the Indian team bus was stoned. After 8-0 Dhoni is still not sacked. This 8-0 came under the highest pressure I can remember an Indian team facing for ages. Tendulkar is promoted to MP and Bharat Ratna proposed despite miserably failing during this 8-0.

• Bheem on June 5, 2012, 2:09 GMT

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/fourth-test-match/query/Bill+Bowes

In response to your suggestion to saket about bowlers from 30s with low avgs ... the above link is a footage of Bill Bowes bowling @2:10 . This is the guy who had the best avg of all bowlers that bowled to Bradman. If anyone thinks this sort of military medium bowling deserves a bowling avg of 22 then there is something wrong in either my understanding of fast bowling or those who agree otherwise.

And look at his FC stats ... an avg of 16.76 !!! Even Malcolm Marshall does not have such FC stats. Sorry can't buy the Bradman legend which is based on beating up such modest bowlers.

• Som on June 4, 2012, 22:03 GMT

Hey Ananth - Great analysis. Wonder how good is Murli as the greatest bowler vis-a-vis Bradman as the greatest batsman - percentage wise (through some credible mix of comparable parameters). Is Murli better than the second best batsman who played the game? [[ Off hand, I would say Yes, but do not want to stir a hornet's nest. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 18:28 GMT

And finally, imagine the reaction of a person who spent weeks travelling to the ground and being disappointed and now compare that to just a flight ticket and day off from work. Consider the security at the stadiums in 1930s and compare that to modern days. Once again, imagine the reaction of truly disappointed person in 1930 depression with not much means or desire to live for; and now compare that to the disappointments these days. Lost a cricket match. BooHoo! Move on, go home, switch on EPL or Rome Masters 1000 or NBA playoffs or F1 or whatever! The list is endless and the more you think the more ridiculous it seems now to say there's more "pressure" on SRT than there was for Bradman. [[ I can see how animated and upset you are by looking at all your comments. People with very little or no knowledge pulling down great players. Talking about pressure on players who are financially secure for 10 generations, most of whom would be compensated in a way-out manner irrespective of performance, people who are treated as kings and gods and beyond comparison. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 18:18 GMT

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 18:02 GMT

I honestly believe that the "wet wicket" story is a myth. It's almost as if English media decided to call any wicket Bradman failed as wet and when he scored, it was all dry. Here are some things to consider. 1930 Oval Test, Jardine was supposed to have spotted Bradman's "struggling" against rising deliveries on a rain-affected pitch. And his 200-odd scored is not included in this so-called wet wicket performance. 1936/37 3rd Ashes Test, England was 2-nil up in the series, wickets were falling at rapid rate on a heavily rain-affected wicket. All of a sudden, that monumental 270 from Bradman's no longer a wet wicket innings.

The list goes on. Expanding one's knowledge beyond cricket when it comes to the relationship between England and Australia, it all makes sense. Just like several SRT fans, English needed to come up with a lame excuse and many seemed to have bought it!

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 17:35 GMT

Overall ABQ for Sobers is very similar to Lara/Richards/Chappell as you pointed out. What stood out for me was his ability to be better against better bowlers. Moving on from those 5000+ runs at 74.2, there was also that 588 runs (in a England v Rest of the world series) at 73.5 in England with Snow and Underwood playing each of the 5 Tests. Taking 6 for 21 and blasting 183 very next day and all those cool stuff. For good statistical measure, Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock combined scored only 508 runs despite both playing all 5 Tests. Merely 3 months after scoring 1025 runs in 4 Tests against Australia (avg 70+). Gives an indication of how much Sobers raised his game when there was a challenge and contest.

Many believed Sobers was somewhat "switched off" against weak opposition - citing his records against NZ, particularly in NZ. He only toured twice. Once as a teenager before scoring his maiden ton and once after a long tour of Australia in '69. Too small a sample size for me

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 17:07 GMT

Thanks for emphasising that point about English bowling in Bradman's time again. To add to that, another FACT was that most of the English bowlers (except Larwood** of course) had better records in home Tests; and records were far better without Bradman. Verity was near unplayable in England. Bill Bowes was superb everywhere. Voce and Tate had good and bad days. And, Bradman scored more in England.

**Thanks to Bradman in 1930 and never having played after bodyline - it's a pity that Larwood was 28 when he played his last Test in 1933. Over 1400 first-class wickets at 17.5 may not sound "outstanding" by county standards in the 1930s. But, add the fact that he was a genuine fast bowler, there weren't any with such records. And a strike rate of 40.6!

And then there was Alec Bedser. No point looking at his average and frequency of 7-fers (which were excellent anyway). Simply take a look at his victims. Arthur Morris 18 times, Harvey 12 (in 13), Bradman 6 (10), Hazare & Mitchell 6 (7).

• David on June 4, 2012, 12:54 GMT

Regarding the "Arjun factor" table, this seems to me to be a calculation that favours good batsmen in relatively weaker teams. As a case in point, the first member of Australia's great team of the late 90s-early 00s is none other than Katich (not the first name you'd predict!), who comes in at number 35. In other words, all of these class batsmen: Ponting, Hayden, Hussey, S Waugh, Gilchrist, come in well after players like Simpson, Wright, Gower, Fleming, Lawry. The table is hardly a measure of batting quality in the same way as the main article tables concerning Bradman's feats after reaching 50.

• Arjun on June 4, 2012, 12:45 GMT

Ananth,

lost for words, the batsman who on aggregate/average basis is 60-65 % better than next best is only 5 % better in 'THE MATCH CONTEXT'

Any specific reason for 6 English batsmen in top-7 ? good to see S Fleming getting his due.

Maybe time for Full fledged analysis on Bowler/Batsmen/Allrounders in Match Context. [[ Arjun, Much more than a pinch of salt is needed. This is not really context. For that I have to incorporate many more factors. In the second England-WI test last week, Strauss in the second innings gets 1.0 for top-scoring the ordinary chase of 111. In the NZL-SAF Test at Wellington, Bracewell, for his brave match-saving effort of 20, gets 0.198 and van Wyk gets 0.385. Godd measure but does not reflect context at all. Ananth: ]]

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 4, 2012, 12:06 GMT

Ananth, thanks. Sutcliffe, Hobbs, Hutton, Lawry and M Amarnath seem to be the ultimate masochists. Mudassar Nazar, Weekes and Ganguly the greatest opportunists/ average-managers. Also Gatting, who seems to have had a nose for big scores as long as the bowling was not 4 quicks.

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 4, 2012, 11:46 GMT

Ananth, thanks. Sutcliffe, Hobbs, Hutton, Lawry and M Amarnath seem to be the ultimate masochists. Mudassar Nazar, Weekes and Ganguly the greatest opportunists/ average-managers. Also Gatting, who seems to have had a nose for big scores as long as the bowling was not 4 quicks [[ The great thing is that the spread is 6.3% to -1.5%. Ananth: ]].

• Darren Lucas on June 4, 2012, 11:36 GMT

Great article, very interesting, great work and thank you.

As an answer to any/all those saying Bradman doesn't compare to modern batsmen, or that he faced easier bowling, or that he was used to the opposition etc etc, why is there no other batsman, e.g. your Tendulkar, Sobers, Lara etc who average 90+ in First Class Cricket? (tongue in cheek:)If he was only good enough to fill his boots against old, substandard bowling (tongue out) why doesn't Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar (insert batsman of choice) or any other batsman average anywhere near his First Class average where the bowling is certainly generally of a lower quality than Test cricket? The fact that he still maintained a FC average above 90 over nearly 200 games besides Test cricket surely puts the lie to anyone claiming the batsmen are so much better these days. Why has no one come even close before, during or after Bradman? Clearly against lesser FC-only bowling still no one comes close to Bradman's test figures. [[ You are a man Shrikanth would appreciate. He never tires of propagating the importance of FC averages, especially the tough ones. Your point is very well made. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on June 4, 2012, 9:51 GMT

Ananth,

Thanks for the table.

As expected Bradman's lead over 2nd best decreases. However 21 % lead is still astonishing. Sobers is down at (0.188), is there any calculating mistake ? I expect him in the range of 0.25-0.30 [[ Silly school-boyish mistake. All values were computed based on a wrong denominator. I have since re-calculated and uploaded the tables. Bradman is now 0.595, only 5% ahead of Sutcliffe. SRT is 0.481, Lara 0.499, Sobers 0.467 and Gavaskar 0.506. My apologies. Probably the hand pain was responsible. Not really, my own mistake and I did not do my normal belt and braces checking. This time I posted Sobers' career sheet and computed independently as 0.467. The link is there in the main article itself. Ananth: ]]

• vj on June 4, 2012, 7:51 GMT

viv's s/r is abt 69-70. this was published by cricinfo a few yrs ago. I also checked with avaiable data( abt 80% of his career) and it is around that. [[ I have data for 6701 runs, to score which Richards faced 9592 balls, a strike rate of 69.9. Unfortunately the balls for the balance 1839 runs are computed based on the team strike rate which, for these matches, was 51.1. The final value thus is 64.8. This method may be slightly unfair to specific players, but is overall fair. Ananth: ]]

• Umar on June 4, 2012, 7:06 GMT

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 6:43 GMT

**As for Sobers

He's easily the 2nd greatest batsman (just batsman) in my opinion.

As we all know, Sobers started Test cricket poorly. The real thing kick-started when he scored his maiden test ton. So, I picked that 16-YEAR period between Sobers' first and last Test 100s. More aptly from Jan 1 of the year of his 1st 100 to Dec 31 of the year he scored his last 100. 75 Tests, 130 innings, 7260 runs at 64.8 with 26 100s & 26 50s. Not that special, most greats in prime (16 years?) would've averaged around 60. Best part is when you include 4 best pace bowlers & spinners of his time: Trueman, Davidson, Snow, Fazal, Gupte, Laker, Bedi, Underwood 47 Tests, 81 innings, 5120 runs at 74.2 with 19 100s! Now, do the same for Tendulkar and Lara with McGrath, Akram, Donald, Warne, Murali, Kumble! Both did extremely well against Murali and Warne I admit. Anyway, 74.2 against the best of his time! I think Bradman - Sobers = Sobers - 3rd best (doesn't matter Tendlya, Lara, IVA, Pollock, AB, SMG etc) [[ Borne out by the fact that the ABQ of the attack Sobers faced was 32.07, almost the same as Lara/Chappell/Richards and about 2 better than the group of SRT/Dravid/Ponting. Ananth: ]]

• Raj Balakrishnan on June 4, 2012, 6:43 GMT

Excellent analysis in a easy to follow format. The secret of Sir Don Bradman's success was his powers of concentration. There is a lesson in there for all of us, if we can concentrate and do our work well, we too can achieve success.

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 6:32 GMT

As for some lame people "predicting" an average of 50 in modern era for Bradman, ask yourself this, what would have Hammond averaged then? 30? Hobbs 28? I mean we're basically halving their averages? [[ If this theory is extrapolated to the 50s, what would Sobers have averaged: 30. Or Barrington: 30. Ananth: ]] There are two kinds of people who refuse to acknowledge Bradman's genius (or something even greater). Type I: They need to make sure Bradman's achievements are belittled so Tendulkar becomes the automatic greatest (also shows ignorance to Sobers** and many others). Type II: He's just so far ahead that it's too hard for them to comprehend. In a way, I respect the type II for their limitations rather than Type I. As for his "poor" average of 90 against England, leaving out body line, it's 95 and it's under 100 only because of his poor start (by his standards) to Test cricket. England was easily a better team than Australia minus Bradman. During Bradman's career, only one Australian scored over 2000 runs (Stan McCabe). Even that was under 3000 as opposed to 6996. [[ What galls me is the attempt to portray the English bowling as weak.: 10 bowlers under 30.0 average. The where do we place the Indian bowling attack during mid-200os: all bowlers above 30.0. Ananth: ]]

• Ravi M on June 4, 2012, 6:20 GMT

Nice read, Ananth. I was hoping that one day you'd touch on this subject. Here are some "interesting" numbers I've been posting on other online forums. After WWII, out of Bradman's 25 first-class 100s, only two were double (in fact, both in Tests). On contrary, around 1930, he once scored 13 double-tons (+191, 185*) out of 21 tons. 10 of those 21 tons came in England & 6 of those 13 doubles (3 in Tests) came in 1 tour (also 191, 185*). Before health issues kicked in AGAIN in 1937/38, his 100s read: 233, 357, 369, 212, 192, 270 (THE COMEBACK Test), 212 (Test), 169 (Test) - that famous comeback from 2 Tests down as CAPTAIN! In matches other than Tests IN England, he scored 7163 runs at 94.25 for Australia. As we all know, 2674 more runs in Tests at 102.84. It's unusual for a batsman in the 1930s and before to average more in Test than FC. But then, Bradman wasn't a "usual" person; was he. I officially request for copyright of the terms, "BradGOD" or "BatsGOD"! [[ Granted, although I must admit I have zero power to grant such a right !!! Ananth: ]]

• Nitin Gautam on June 4, 2012, 5:55 GMT

" If Stephen Hawking had full use of his faculties he would have been a greater scientist than Einstien."

That is a telling statement. I dont really know if this could be true. no disregard to anyone but "IF" statements are more towards imagination. lets stick to what we have as a fact. [[ Just a statement hypothesizing. He possessed the intellect. Whether he would have achieved Einstien's exalted status, is a moot point. Ananth: ]] someone can very easily say using the same hyperbole "IF" bradman was born in US, India, Germany or any non cricket playing country, there wouldnt be any 99.94 or 95.14. Lets leave it at that.

Regarding SRT's 100th 100 & media obsession i completely agree with what you said. I guess not even 10 million would be worried about him getting that milestone (certainly I was not). Media made this event as if it is the single most priority that India & all Indians want to be accomplished.

• Micko on June 4, 2012, 5:47 GMT

Good analysis Ananth, but Queanbeyan is not a suburb of Canberra! We are a town in our own right across the border from Canberra, and Canberrans tend to look down upon us as inferior citizens, which makes me proud that by and large we have had far more sporting heroes than Canberra! [[ My apologies. I made the mistake extrapolating the nearness to the capital. Amazing the sports culture in a small town of 35000 residents, that too across about 20 disciplines. Hats off to you, you Queanbeyaners. Ananth: ]]

• Ananth on June 4, 2012, 5:20 GMT

This is in response to the request of Gerry. He wanted me to post the Average Bowling Quality faced by batsmen only for their 50+ innings. This will let him decide whether batsmen got out to good bowling attacks and feasted on weaker ones. The results indicate that there is very little variation, as given below. I have posted only Bradman and few others. The complete table has been uploaded. Bradman 35.95 35.99 -0.12% Hobbs 39.18 38.76 1.08% Lara 32.02 32.25 -0.74% Gavaskar 34.17 34.54 -1.08% Tendulkar 34.46 34.66 -0.57% Hussey 35.41 35.31 0.27% The file is available for download. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/39210851/DGB_SplTable.txt Ananth

• Ananth on June 4, 2012, 5:19 GMT

This is in response to the request of Arjun. He wanted me to post an average of factors at innings level keeping the innings highest score at 1.00. This will compress the differential and compress the differences in measures also. A 400/107 will have a diffential of 293 runs while in this measure the differential will be 0.73 (between 1.00 and 0.27). On the other hand a 100/20 will have an actual run differential of only 80 but a factor differential of 0.80. This is what is expected. I have posted the top 5 batsmen as well as couple of others below. Bradman 0.363 Hobbs 0.299 Sutcliffe 0.288 Hutton 0.290 Barrington 0.290 Hammond 0.286 Lara 0.280 Gavaskar 0.280 ... Tendulkar 0.248 Dravid 0.185 Ponting 0.163 Still there is a very significant 21% differential. The file is available for download. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/39210851/DGB_SplTable.txt Ananth

• Nitin Gautam on June 4, 2012, 5:10 GMT

Very nice analysis & "once again" hats off for compiling it.

Bradman for me is the most prolific & efficient run making machine that cricket ever saw or it will ever see. He not only triumph the rigorous travelling woes around the globe but also handled appalling bowling strategies extremely well & in the process left his contemporaries miles behind but that is all.

Comparing him even with other cricketers is futile let alone the greats of other sports.

Certainly Shrikanth seems to be greatest fan of him by quoting the relative probability of finding Einstein is more than that of Bradman. well for me its too far fetched a statement & is 2nd only to calling his achievements as the best ever in human endevours [[ In a way Boll is correct. The probability of emergence of another Einstien is greater than the probability of a Test batsman crossing 50 Tests at an average of 100.0. If Stephen Hawking had full use of his faculties he would have been a greater scientist than Einstien. Ananth: ]] @Boll citing the pressure felt by a Chinese cricketers(due to big population)in comparison to pressure felt by SRT in India was really funny. Im sure u were not serious. [[ It is the same hyperbole used by the Indian media. Once one misguided journalist said that more than a billion people were waiting with bated breath for Tendulkar's 100th hundred. I would be surprised if this figure would be more than 10 million (1% of the population). Half the population would be wondering where the next meal would come from. We are a family with lots of interest and involvement in cricket. Of the 10 of our extended family, I would be stretched to say whether even one of us had great interest in the event. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 4, 2012, 4:43 GMT

Last time when Anil Kumble was asked “what gets batsmen out?” Kumble’s answer was spontaneous - “pressure”. It’s not only about good bowler or good ball. It’s also about the pressure. And there is no doubt that modern day professional cricketers play in much pressure cooker situation

Can we keep the discussion a little more simple. If batsmen get out mainly because of "pressure", why hasn't ANYBODY in cricket history averaged over 60 in FC cricket besides 1 man (and a handful of others with briefer careers).

I believe batsmen get out most of the time because of technical errors. Playing forward when they ought to play back. And playing back when they ought to play forward. As simple as that.

To me 99.94 is not the most astonishing figure in cricket. The most remarkable figure in this sport is 95.14, DGB's FC average over 234 games!

That's a far more startling, other-worldy figure than the test average of 99.94.

• EdSF on June 4, 2012, 4:12 GMT

me again. Half my family is from Yorkshire, so forgive the Sutcliffe comparisons...

If you analyze (i.e. ignoring all the possible game ended etc type of issues), Sutcliffe scored 50+ 39 times out of 81, Bradman 42 times out of 78 (48% vs 53%), surprisingly close? That really does say the thing that made Bradman different was how he "went on" vs the next best player.

The question this then raises is whether the bowlers tried hard after Bradman had gotten in. It is fairly well documented that when Tiger Woods was in his prime other players did not try as hard. Is there a way to think about how well bowlers bowled after Bradman had gotten in? That feels very hard to me, but it might be quite a real effect. [[ Do you mean that the bowlers just stopped trying. Probably not with the great collection of English bowlers led by Verity. Ananth: ]]

• Meety on June 4, 2012, 1:55 GMT

@Boll - "...the rather tiresome fallacy that Tendulkar has been under more pressure than any other batsman..." What that arguement fails to capture, is the fact that the 1930s was the era of the great depression which in a round about way, was only rectified once a World War was declared! (Frying pan into the fire!) The difference between a whole island in the Carribean cheering/riding on "their" man in the WI (read Shillingford) can be of a similar type of pressure as well (ultimately his whole country!). Oz was so hard up for release during the Depression that we basically worshipped a horse (read Phar Lap). So Bradman sticking it to the Old Mother country was/is comparable very much with whatever "pressures" Sachin faces, (in no way devaluing Sachin's situation), although well short of the pressures so brilliantly described by Keith Miller! (read a german fighter plane & a part of the anatomy!). [[ And the rewards for handling the "pressure": the order of magnitude is probably 100 to 1. Ananth: ]]

• Meety on June 4, 2012, 1:01 GMT

Great analysis Ananth. Just a comment on the old arguement against Bradman - that he "only ever played against England". The fact is, England was the pinnacle of cricket in The Don's day, the County game flourished & players from around the world went to try their luck in England. The England sides of the day represented the best opposition possible for an Ozzy player. How many cricketers today can say that 70+% of their Test cricket was played against the best opposition around? There is a lot to be said (positively) about playing in more Test nations, (some negatives like Zim & Bang), however I think the notion he "only" played against England is very weak. [[ When it suits, people would talk about single opposition, emphasizing on the ability to familiarize onesef. People would conveniently forget the thousands of easy runs available against weaker opponents. The bottom line is that at no time in history of Test cricket was batting very very easy: maybe for an year or two but not throughout a batsman's career. Bottomline is, a Test run is a Test run. If one gives weight to 10000+ runs as valuable have the sagacity to do the same for 7000 runs scored at different times. Ananth: ]]

• Love Goel on June 3, 2012, 23:36 GMT

To me, bradman average is number to be dreamt of, a number not achievable in modern age, but a number to be used to motivate oneself to become a better batsmen.

And why look at other sports to find stats like bradman. Surely there are similat stats in cricket itself. Like Australia's series of victories in World cup. Or india sequence of chasing 17 odi in a row. Surely other statistics can be found it looked in detail

• David on June 3, 2012, 23:33 GMT

@shrikanthk, once again, I think you're not comparing like with like (and I also agree with Ananth that comparisons across sports are nigh impossible!). That is, if Usain Bolt won every single race he ran internationally across his entire career by 0.01 sec, I think that WOULD make him bradmanesque. Why? Because as the article makes clear, Bradman's statistical superiority came down to one factor only: his ability to concentrate. Others were more naturally gifted, could hit the ball further or had a better technique. Bradman's ability was simply to concentrate 1% better for every single ball he played, and that added up, over a career, to a 50% better average.

Finally, see my comments earlier about Heather McKay to counter your claim that Bradman was a "freak in the history of any civilised endeavour" (and her example could be multiplied not only in other sports, but in many other civilised endeavours: music, science, literature, military generalship, etc).

• Deep on June 3, 2012, 22:07 GMT

The difference between Bradman and Tendulkar is focus. Tendulkar did not score his first 200 until 2001. He just could not bat the 6 hours it takes to get to 200. Bradman had a 334 batting for 9+ hours at the age of 21. Bradman versus Lara: Lara was too attacking and could not rein in that instinct. Hit in the air, out. Bradman hit < 10 sixes in his entire career. Bradman versus Ponting: Ponting was just not that good when the ball swung a lot or spun a lot. He scored heavily when difficulty of conditions was 8/10 or less.

• bks123 on June 3, 2012, 21:54 GMT

...continued from previous post…One of the following could be the reason 1. Bowlers in early days were not good enough. 2. Batsmen in early days were much better than today’s. 3. Modern bowlers are much better compared to modern day batsmen. 4. It’s difficult to score runs today as the game has become very professional and bowlers know most of the weaknesses of batsmen. To me, it is the 4th one. It’s true that a batsman also knows everything about a bowler to nullify this point. But it just needs 1 ball for a batsman to get out, which makes technology and professional fielding in test cricket slightly in favor of bowlers in modern days. That’s why modern day batsmen found it so difficult to face a quality bowler like McGrath. If we look at the modern day great batsmen Sachin, Lara, Kallis, Dravid, Yusuf, Sangakkara, nobody was able to handle him well.

• bks123 on June 3, 2012, 21:50 GMT

• Adam on June 3, 2012, 20:37 GMT

Very interesting article, and nice to see the author replying to so many comments. One thing I noticed, it seems as though you don't take not outs into account when calculating the averages of batsmen when they pass e.g 100. Would it not be better to calculate the average of the additional runs scored past 100 (so for example a batsman scoring 100 100* 150 would average 25 additional runs per century)? [[ Does it REALLY matter that the 400 was not out or out. It is 400, that is all what should count. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 3, 2012, 18:42 GMT

Also this whole idea of comparing purely physical sports like 100m sprint with something as complex as cricket is not apposite.

One may always find a superman in future who accomplishes great things in athletics. But unlike athletics, cricket is a game where you battle not just yourself, but the opponents, the weather, and your fate. Imponderables galore in cricket.

So an accomplishment like Bradman's is too hard to digest. Because it essentially represents a triumph against nature and not simply a triumph over other opponents.

Such a triumph cannot be produced by skill alone (as is the case in other sports). It requires a certain type of mindset and character that is strong enough to conquer the quirks of fate which cricket throws up. A karmic mentality that can handle failure with equanimity and rise from it triumphantly.

The society of today with its obsession with celebrity and instant success does not help hone that kind of mentality. [[ In a way, life has to be tough also, to achieve what you have described. Ananth: ]]

• EdSF on June 3, 2012, 18:29 GMT

Awesome analysis.

Couple of thoughts. It's always interesting to compare Bradman to other sports (Pele and Babe Ruth come to mind). The key issue with cricket is that you are in control of how long you bat for, by not geting out (and being #3 in the order helps). Imagine how Babe Ruth might have done if after every home run you got to go straight back to bat?

My tweak on this is that Bradman was amazingly skillful, but the thing that made him so very different was the combination of being able to concentrate for long periods (helped by scoring fast, which reduced the time required to score all those runs) combined with a very unusual lack of "milestone-itis." He ignored the scoreboard and kept batting. He was only out 6 times out of 29 hundreds between 100 and 150, and only once below 110 (and that right at the end of an innings, on what looks to have been a tough wicket). Compare Hammond (7 out of 22) and Sutcliffe (10 out of 16) [[ Good point(s). Make(s) sense. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 3, 2012, 17:37 GMT

The skills may be better today, but how many players today would be happy with the equivalent pay of 1930s cricketers?

I don't like this automatic assumption that "skills are better today". Skills may be better today in comparison with 1870s yes. But 1930s? We can't say unequivocally.

The game of cricket was more or less fully evolved by the 1920s. The only post-modern inventions that we have seen over the past 20-30 years is reverse swing and the doosra (the latter a dubious invention).

Even back in the early 1900s, cricket, atleast in England, was largely professional played by seasoned players who practically spent the whole English summer on cricket fields touring the country. Skills have to develop given such an intensive first-class game.

• shrikanthk on June 3, 2012, 17:28 GMT

I don't know his race statistics, but he wouldn't have to win every race by 0.5 seconds to do so; he would just have to win 50% more races than the next best

I don't quite agree. Usain Bolt may win every race he runs by 0.01 seconds. That doesn't make him Bradmanesque.

Winning/Losing a race is a discrete measure. Whereas batting average is a continuous measure. You have to compare the batting average with another continuous measure (which in this case is the 100m timing).

I am not saying Bolt will have to win every race by 0.5 seconds. (sorry if I gave that impression) What I am saying is that Bolt will have to be 0.5 or atleast 0.25 seconds faster than the next best runner on an average throughout his career. That's not the case.

This guy Bradman is a freak not just in the history of all ball games, but in the history of any civilized endeavour.

If at all anybody deserves to be regarded as a secular God of sorts, it is this man.

• NALINWIJ on June 3, 2012, 15:34 GMT

Bradman batted at 3 and way the pitches behaved was vulnerable as anyone to the unplayable ball early but then he was unstoppable. Attapattu started disastrously with one run in six innings but scored his 5th double century in his 80th innings when his record was that 40times over 20, 20 times over 50, 10 times over 100 and 5 times over 200 with average of about 40. At that moment he had a 50% chance of reaching the next milestone. His average remained but his statistics were not as symmetrical after that.

• Sameer on June 3, 2012, 15:27 GMT

@Ananth great article but i wonder if it would have made a difference if the opposition could analyse the don's batting through video footage ( i mean the frequecy of his 50s could have probably been lesser), or if he had to face the defensive tactics employed by the captains nowadays ( his strike rate would have been lower too) [[ If the captains find it that easy to employ defensive tactics how do you explain the strike rates of Sehwag(82.0),, Gilchrist(82.0), Kapil(78.3), Dilshan(65.9), Prior(65.3), Jayasuritya(65.0), Pietersen(62.8), Flintoff(62.1), Lara(60.5) and Smith(60.4) et al. Ananth: ]]

• Waspsting on June 3, 2012, 13:49 GMT

Thanks, Ananth

• Scozbo on June 3, 2012, 13:37 GMT

I would like to know which batsman had the highest median score? You would need to remove some low not out scores, but I think that would be worth looking at too. [[ I did the medialn score of Bradman only and not for others. Bradman's median score is 56. Just a few other computations done at various times. SRT 34, Lara 33, Dravid 33, Border 31, Ponting 30 and Martin 0 (98 innings !!!) Ananth: ]]

• Scozbo on June 3, 2012, 13:23 GMT

The comparison of players between eras usually involves looking whether batsman of the "olden days" would play as well in modern conditions. Look at it another way - would modern players cope with 70 year old match circumstances? What with uncovered pitches, lack of helmets and lack of video evidence to refer to to improve technique. That is even before a two month boat voyage to get to the other side of the world to play. The skills may be better today, but how many players today would be happy with the equivalent pay of 1930s cricketers? [[ Not 70 years. Even as recently as 30 years back. a batsmen like Gavaskar faced the four West indian quicks with a skull cap, no arm guard and no chest guard. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 3, 2012, 11:46 GMT

@shrikanthk, I'm not sure that you have the correct comparison between cricket and athletics, because you could say that by your comparison, Bradman should have been able to see the ball 50% earlier and hit the ball 50% further and run between the wickets 50% faster than the next person, all of which are clearly not true.

If you break batting simply into a series of successes, draws or failures (success = runs; draw = dot ball; failure = wicket), Bradman's consistency with respect to these three marks was 50% better than the next. In the 100m, the runners are racing each other, not the clock, therefore a Bradmanesque athlete would be one whose total win-placing-loss performance would be 50% better than the next. Is Bolt in this class? I don't know his race statistics, but he wouldn't have to win every race by 0.5 seconds to do so; he would just have to win 50% more races than the next best, and to sustain that over his career. Certainly difficult ... but also possible. [[ Very difficult to compare these. Even comparing Tennis and Cricket is tough. Probably we should avoid comparisons. At times I myself bring in Federer, Anand and now Bolt in my enthusiasm. Should not be taken too seriously. We seem to have problems comparing cricketers across ages, leave alone cricketers, tennis players, chess players and bolts. Ananth: ]]

• Anshu N Jain on June 3, 2012, 11:33 GMT

Ananth,

It is amazing that Bradman went from averaging 52 in his 2nd test to 99+ in his 7th (in 5 tests only!), and almost never looked back thereafter (he touched his highest - 112.3 in his 18th test, and his lowewst - 89.6 in his 26th - this 8 test period includes the famous Bodyline).

Surely there have been/are others who have had "Bradmanesque" starts to their careers since after the Don, but have failed to sustain, leave alone exceed those numbers (Hussey comes to mind, as do Azhar and Ganguly). Am not so sure there were any players who did reach a cumulative average of 90+ in their first 4-10 tests. I'd wager that once Bradman did this (for the first time ever in cricket's history), he was rightly exalted, and this spurred him on to greater feats! [[ Hussey had an average of 84.8 at the end of the 21st Test. His yun aggregate was 2120 over 100 runs/Test. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 3, 2012, 7:01 GMT

@David - busted! I was thinking of Heather McKay as I wrote that comment (and Walter Lindrum amongst others), a girl who grew up about 50km down the road from my hometown. [[ So you were born within 50 kms from Queanbeyan, the birthplace of Heather McKay, George Lazenby, Brad Haddin, Mark Webber et al. Not a bad collection of sports personalities from a small Canberra suburb. Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 3, 2012, 4:22 GMT

Until Usain came like a Bolt from the blue, the 100 metres limit was thought of to be between 9.65 to 9.70. He has now lowered it to 9.58 and would probably end below 9.50, unthinkable 5 years back. Cricket has no Usain Bolt.

You're talking about the World Record here, which is not really analogous to the batting average. Athletics has no Bradman. If it has, then that person should be a good half a second faster than all the other runners in each 100m race he runs.

For the past 70-80 years, athletes typically take 10-11 secs to run 100m on an average. That hasn't changed. The WC will keep improving. Yes. But what matters is the average speed of runners in a typical heat. Not the best timing in a single race.

• shrikanthk on June 3, 2012, 4:14 GMT

We say wickets were uncovered, there were no helmets, no protective gear, unlimited bouncers but the bowlers ave-36

I don't know what bowlers you are referring to. The overall average in international cricket could be 36 driven by part-timers (who would be forced to bowl more in timeless tests) and also the weaker nations (India-SA).

But the best bowlers of the era had very good test averages on excellent batting surfaces. Pitches were uncovered yes. But generally flat and good for batting if it didn't rain. Tate - 26, Larwood - 28, Bowes - 22, Verity - 24, O'Reilly - 22, Grimmett - 24, Farnes - 27. These are excellent figures given the pitches they bowled on.

"No protective gear" - Well batsmen were used to it and hence not disadvantaged by it. Let's not forget that there was not much protective gear until the 80s came along.

• milpand on June 2, 2012, 23:17 GMT

Last summer, England & India played in a D/L tie. India would have won that match according to VJD. In a different game, a team losing on VJD could win according to D/L. These two models should be compared for such close matches. A team could be 150/1 or 86/7 batting first at the end of 20th over. The match may continue without interruption. Just show what the Par score would be according to both methods if the innings was suspended and other side had to chase the total in identical overs. During the chase, keep showing the par scores next to the actual score at the end of every over to let the viewer know what the result could have been at that stage.  ESPNcricinfo can get access to both softwares and publish these results.

Different people are passionate about different issues. I care about this one. I have made the same points in an earlier post so I will stop now.  [[ Milind My sphere of influence is restricted to forwarding your mail(s) to Sambit and Rajesh, with my recommendations. Beyond that it is their call. I had suggested an easier method of accessing a scorecard through using the match id which is known everywhere. For instance 1443 is the test in which Kumble captured all ten wickets. There is no single route to access this match by entering 1443 in a dialog box. You have to go through their round-about route. But nothing came out of that. Ananth: ]]

• milpand on June 2, 2012, 22:28 GMT

The article mentions that "VJD system is being used in Indian domestic matches for calculating targets in rain affected matches" but it could be only about ODIs. There was a rain shortened DD vs KKR match but both sides played 12 overs each which won't help in finding out which method was used in IPL.

I don't know much about VJD system either. I read a paper by the author several years ago. Both D/L and VJD have significantly evolved since. But I know that VJD does not rely on a single beautiful equation. It is truly an alternative system, not nominally.

The article further states: "there was a significant improvement in decision making in matches where DRS was being used .. an overall improvement of 4.49% to 98.26%"  Surely the high proportion of correct decisions include umpires declaring a batsman out when the bails are dislodged. Similarly, D/L & VJD may deliver identical results in 99% games. The focus should be on getting fairer result in the remaining 1% matches.

• bks123 on June 2, 2012, 22:27 GMT

We say wickets were uncovered, there were no helmets, no protective gear, unlimited bouncers but the bowlers ave-36. Were the bowlers in old days so ordinary or were those batsmen exceptional? With the number of grt bowlers, looks like the best period for bowlers in international cricket is from 1980-2000. The protective gears are available from late 80s and most of the world class bowlers who average below 25 existed in this period. Does this mean that the batsmen during this period (after 1980) have become worthless even after being well equipped with the protective gears, covered pitches, limited bouncers? I think this is only bcz now there exists something called professional cricket. And fielding is an integral part of that. Look at the footage of old days. you can easily see that the batsman hits and it reaches to boundary and the fielder jogs to return the ball. It's definitely way more difficult to score now than before. But if someone averages ~100 has to be exceptional.

• Lucy on June 2, 2012, 18:32 GMT

Having read many books on Bradman's amazing performances, the one word which occurs more than any is "chanceless". He didnt try to invent new shots or hit the ball out of the ground. He simply hit the ball where the fielders werent. [[ And more often than others. Ananth: ]]

• milpand on June 2, 2012, 17:24 GMT

London, June 1 (IANS) The International Cricket Council (ICC) cricket committee Friday decided to retain its controversial Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) Method, used for calculating targets in rain affected matches, and made minor modifications in some of the areas of the game.

http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/icc-retain-dl-method-drs-143733549.html

Apologies for going off-track but this is a topic that does not get enough attention. There is no fair rain rule for a T20 match and D/L method has its limitations when applied to recent Intl ODI matches. VJD is an alternative that needs field testing. ICC won't do that. ESPNcricinfo could use its reach and report the VJD par scores to create an awareness for alternatives. [[ Milind The problem is that the D/L seems to be quite effective when it comes to ODIs and ICC does not seem to want to have two alternative systems. I do not know which rule is in operation in IPL. If it is not VJD, it is a shame. The least VJD deserves is recognition and trial within India. Then SLPL and BBL at least might follow suit. I do not know enough about VJD. Ananth: ]]

• Douglas Newsam on June 2, 2012, 16:52 GMT

Another factor to consider when assessing Bradman versus some of those batsmen from the more recent years is that the wickets are now protected before and during the match. Bradman and his contemporaries often had to contend with wet pitches on which bowlers could wreak havoc. I think the analysis is excellent and demonstrates that Bradman was clearly a cut above other great batsmen of any era. Perhaps if he had played in the sub-continent he may have a slightly lower average but not to the extent that it would significantly diminish the differential between him and the others. [[ This is a point cricket followers conveniently forget.If one sees a few 1930s/1940s videos/photogs this would be obvious. And the protection enjoyed, both physical and through the laws. Ananth: ]]

• unni on June 2, 2012, 16:19 GMT

Very beautiful analysis, Ananth. The graphs are to the point. The right numbers are identified and projected. I think he was a statistician's delight. Unfortunately I never had chance to watch him batting. But, just reading about his numbers bring some joy.

I was going through the excel sheet and was stuck with mainly the top 25 modern batsmen. I concentrated on some of these 'skill-defining' numbers such as average (all falling in 50-55 range), 'failure rate' (<10 runs inn. percentage in the range of 20-25). Sub 50 percentage(62-69), 100-inn.percent(10-15) etc... If we take standard deviations of these guys for the above parameters, I think the number would be very low.

Was it the case with the pre-WW2 batsmen? The excel sheet doesn't have 25 of them, I guess. I'm just hypothesizing that we are converging to human limitations w.r.t these numbers. Just like 100m timing is converging to 9.50s (really??. Lightning has no limitations!). Any comments? [[ Until Usain came like a Bolt from the blue, the 100 metres limit was thought of to be between 9.65 to 9.70. He has now lowered it to 9.58 and would probably end below 9.50, unthinkable 5 years back. Cricket has no Usain Bolt. Ananth: ]]

• Gerry_the_Merry on June 2, 2012, 15:32 GMT

I think a small link can help. You have mentioned somewhere that bradman's career average bqi was 35.9. Can we supplement the average 50 plus score where bradman's leads with the matching bqi? In other words what is the bqi against which his 50 plus innings were played? If that number is very high for bradman's it would suggest that he cashed in for maximum effect when the going was easy. If not then he lead on 50 plus scores would be thoroughly merited. [[ Gerry, Nothing like this is available. Whether it is Wasp's stings or Arjun's arrows or Gerry's voll;eys, I have to do a special run for each. I will see what can be done. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 2, 2012, 13:26 GMT

Regarding the suggestions that Bradman was further ahead of second place than the number one in any other sport, I think the women's squash legend, Heather McKay, would challenge that. She was undefeated in international squash from 1962 to 1981, and was only defeated twice before that; in 15 consecutive British Open Championships (1963 to 1977), she dropped a TOTAL of 2 games; in the 1968 final she didn't drop a single point.

I don't know how you statistically quantify a squash career so that meaningful comparisons with other sports can be made. It's probably best just to marvel at two of the genuine wonders of the sporting world. [[ I think readers would do well to see the Wikipedia entry on Heather McKay. She is all what David says, and more. And, David, just as Anna Craven-Smith improved steadily moving from 3 points to 8 to 15 and looked like taking a set off Heather, she probably retired and McKay promptly won the next Open with a tripl-bagel. Ananth: ]]

• David on June 2, 2012, 13:16 GMT

@piyush, Ananth was lost for words, so let me humbly presume to express what he must have been thinking.

What you are effectively saying is that it is impossible to appreciate a sportsperson you have never seen.

Well, I'll let you in on a secret: human beings have this little thing called imagination. Imagination can be set off by any number of stimuli, and when it comes to cricket, one of the great stimuli is the numbers: we've seen Tendulkar bat, and we know his numbers, so when we see Bradman's numbers, our imaginations go haywire!

Open your mind, and picture a batsman who is Tendulkar x 1.75!

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 12:43 GMT

@Arjun. Apologies for jumping on your response again - and I think you make very valid points about some similarities between Chanderpaul and Bradman ; hitting along the ground, respecting your wicket etc. However, a difference of 50% in strike rates is huge, particularly when you consider the relative contemporary scoring rates. Bradman was a No.3, Chanders a No.5, Bradman consistently tore attacks apart, didn`t merely survive and accumulate. Imagine a man who scored almost twice as many runs as Tendulkar per innings, and scored them 10% faster. He crucified and humiliated the best attacks of the day - to compare him to Chanderpaul, an admirable but limited batsman, is to miss the point entirely. [[ Boll., I also brought C'Paul in. We only did that to show that he alone has the Zen attitude. The point is that we seem to have clutched at the straws of C'Paul's recent batting style. His career BpI is a measly 99.5. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 12:25 GMT

@Harsh Thakor. I`m not sure about your assertion that Lara surpassed Bradman in compiling mammoth scores. No-one has scored more than Bradman`s 2 triple centuries at test level (not to mention his 299*), and his 12 double-centuries in 80 innings is light-years ahead of the next best - Lara`s 9 doubles in 232 innings. Tendulkar has 6 in 311.

As for Lara`s breathtakingly fast scoring rate - 61 per 100 balls (admittedly excellent), Bradman`s SR was 59. [[ Yes, I will say that Bradman probably had a much higher appetite for big scores. I think Harsh probably feels Lara, in the current period, excelled in this regard. Ananth: ]] re.the rather tiresome fallacy that Tendulkar has been under more pressure than any other batsman (often attributed to India`s huge population - imagine how those Chinese cricketers must feel!?), try captaining the team in early Ashes contests and batting at No.3.

Furthermore, with regards centuries (until, well...this year really), based on 1st class centuries of course - Bradman scored 117 of them, in 234 games.

• Arjun on June 2, 2012, 12:19 GMT

Ananth,

Another Interesting Fact from Statsguru. S barnes, Blythe retired before bradman, J Laker, Wardle, Bedser debuted after.(all these bowlers have good averages)

Of all the notable bowlers whose career coincided with bradman only 2 avg. under 26-27. H Verity(24.37) and WE Bowes(22.33). Verity got bradman 8 times and Bowes 5 times(in 6 tests) [[ No, Arjun, not completely correct. Bedser played in the last 10 Tests Bradman played and had already captured 66 wickets by August 1948. Laker made his debut in 1948. Larwood 28.36, Allen 29.37, Voce 27.89, Tate 26.16, Robins 27.47, Griffith 28.25, Bedser 24.90. Vincent, Constantine and Mankad are just above 30. Why this desperate urge to pull down the bowling faced by Bradman. And since when 25 became the separation point for good bowlers. There are only 41 bowlers in the 135 year period to average below 25. And there only 96 bowlers who average below 30. Kumble and Kapil average 29.65. Ananth: ]]

• Ananth on June 2, 2012, 12:09 GMT

This is in response to the request of Waspsting asking me to do an analysis raising the failure line from 10 to 20. Tougher criteria and as expected Bradman moves up from 5th in the sub-10 analysis to 3rd in this. The top 6 (below 30%) are given below. The frequency is what matters. Sutcliffe 84 16 19.0% Hobbs 102 25 24.5% Bradman 80 22 27.5% Hammond 140 40 28.6% Weekes 81 24 29.6% Kanhai 137 41 29.9% (Harsh !!!) and then Dravid (34.6%), Ponting (34.8%), Gavaskar (37.9%), Tendulkar (37.9%), Lara (40.9%).

• shrikanthk on June 2, 2012, 12:03 GMT

but you`d imagine that a young man who could average 140 on his first overseas tour and average about 80 there 20 years later..would have done OK.

Very true. Arguably the most remarkable phenomenon of the 20th century. We'll sooner see an Einstein than a Bradman! I really mean it.

It's quite possible you'll find another person with just as much natural talent. But Cricket (by that I mean the traditional red-ball game) is not about talent alone. It's about character. About humility. About work ethic. Cricket mirrors life more than any other sport. That's why it humbles even the highly gifted.

The reason I don't expect another Bradman is because the society that moulded Bradman no longer exists. The Puritanism, the strong Christian belief in work ethic, the self-denying upbringing which moulded him are absent today. Today's Godless secular societies with their tolerance of conceit and indolence cannot mould another DGB. Chris Gayles yes. But not another Don. [[ Strong words but true. In a way I second Arjun. Chanderpaul, with his complete self-denial, the ability to see nothing else but the ball and almost monk-like batting style comes close. Chanderpaul and Gayle: 180 degrees apart. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on June 2, 2012, 11:43 GMT

Ananth,

havn't seen Bradman bat but i think Chanderpaul comes closest. Not in terms of style, teqnique, elegance but his way of thinking of not giving his wicket cheaply, not hitting ball in the air, taking less risks and scoring lots of runs. His record in last 4-5 years specially after Lara retired is complarable to bradman in terms of balls per dismissal. Only if and this is big 'IF' he had scored at the rate of bradman his avg. would have been similar. Chanderpauls record since 2007 M-41 Runs-3554 Av-67.05 SR 42.04 Balls per dismissal = 160 So if he had scored @ 58-60 runs per 100 balls he would have avgeraged about 90-100. Maybe chanderpaul of last 4-5 years is quite similar to the way Bradman Batted. [[ As I have pointed out in my article and in a reponse to you, it is the combination. If nothing else, a batsman clocking in 130 balls per innings at 50 (not really way-out figures) would average 65. Ananth: ]]

• Pawan Mathur on June 2, 2012, 10:47 GMT

Looking at Bradmman;s innigs by innings list, it can be seeen that the highest no of innings in between his two fifties is 5. (and that too includes score of 29, 25, 36, 13 and 30. Also Don's most consecutive single figure innings is 2 (two 0s). Could you please incorporate these two dimensions into your analysis and tell where Bradman stands on these critria. I tried to look for this aspect into one of your earlier analysis on consistency in test batsmen but could not locate this aspect [[ Pawan, I already have two requests pending. Let me see. Ananth: ]]

• Sham on June 2, 2012, 10:46 GMT

Very thorough analysis Ananth. There is one unquantifiable - something that Bradman himself noted. While watching the modern game, Bradman shared his disgust at field placing where there often was one slip and a ring of fielders protecting the boundary.

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 10:41 GMT

@Arjun. Very fair point, although as Ananth notes, surely it is the quality of bowling/pitches you play on, rather than the quantity. Nevertheless, Tendulkar has proved himself against pretty much everyone, pretty much everywhere, in all sorts of conditions, in all forms of the game, for a hell of a long time. The era in which he has played, his consistent brilliance, his preciousness, and his longevity, have all contributed to run-scoring feats which may never be matched.

Bradman did not have those opportunities, but you`d imagine that a young man who could average 140 on his first overseas tour (indeed first time outside his own country) and average about 80 there 20 years later (while averaging 100 at a SR of close to 60 in between) would have done OK. For all of Lara`s records and genius, Richard`s majesty, and Tendulkar`s brilliance, they were never more than first amongst equals - Bradman blew comparisons completely out of the water, probably for all-time.

• Elvis on June 2, 2012, 10:12 GMT

Bradman is unique in that he is head, shoulders and waist above everyone else. Sometime in the mid 80's there was a %(of)Bradman rating for Batsmen and similarly a %SidneyBarnes for Bowlers. It appeared in the magazine Sportstar. The rating was quite simple as those were pre-computer and pre-excel days. However in the 2000s Muttiah Muralitharan has left everyone far behind especially in the 5 wickets per innings and 10 Wkts per match figures. As Ananth's previous columns have shown Murali compares favourably with Barnes but over a much larger timespan and number of tests. Walter Lindrum in Billairds (an Australian contemporary of Bradman), Rudy Hartono, Sergei Bubka, Roger Moses, Jahangir Khan, Gary Kasparov and recently Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps have achieved such domination in their respective sports. In some cases a close second and a worthy challenger can be thought of - Jansher Khan, Karpov, Anand, Mark Spitz etc. for each of them. Truly Bradman is alone at the top. [[ How far ahead is the First is a very nice analysis. Ananth: ]]

• piyush on June 2, 2012, 9:51 GMT

As you have taken this opportunity to congratulate Anand on his successful title defence against Gelfand, let me also join you in acknowledging how great a Champion India has given to the world.

Nice article. As fans we can be less objective, but your analysis reduces everything to numbers. Unfortunately I find this futile sometimes since the whole reason we follow sports is not for numbers but for the joy of it. We tend to associate emotionally with teams or individuals. The purpose of numbers and statistics is just to make our rational self feel happy about our unconscious attachment. Sometimes the numbers might not conform to out believes.

For an individual, to become a fan or to hate a player or team, it might not require more than 5-6 test matches. I have known Bradman only through numbers which are indeed amazing. But those numbers are no replacement to the joy when I see Tendulkar succeeding or disappointment when Sehwag fails. A four hit by Azhar is better than 4 6's by XYZ [[ I am lost for words. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 9:25 GMT

By the way, what`s this about Paris Hilton selling viagra to The Don while he was in the buff? Enough with the rumour-mongering Ananth, how dare you impugn Paris` good name. [[ I was forced to go through the junk mail one by one looking for my dear friends' good mails and I saw "Nude Paris Hilton opens for occupancy". I almost fell off my chair. A porn-peddler with a sense of humour. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on June 2, 2012, 8:58 GMT

Ananth,

We all know that bradman avgs.99.94 and was about 65 % better than 2nd best avg. 60-61 by pollock, headly.

However If we limit the Highest score in the team innings to 1.00 and then compute score of the other innings played(in proportion to Highest score). What will be the difference between bradman and the 2nd best batsman ?

Eg. In test no. 263, McCabe made 232 in 1st innings, so his ratio is 1.00, in same innings bradman made 51 so his ratio will be (0.219). In same match 2nd inn, Bradman made 144(1.00), W brown 133(0.923), McCabe 39(0.270). This way aveg. of all the ratios of each concerned batsman is calculated in the match context. I am sure Bradman won't have a lead of 60-65% over next best batsman. There even might be a surprise or two (J hobbs ?). Since this analysis is about Bradman i would love to see his performance in the match context. [[ Will do this and post a summary similar to Waspsing's request. Will take a few days, though. Ananth: ]]

• Harsh Thakor on June 2, 2012, 8:49 GMT

For compiling mammoth scores ,that too at a breathtaking scoring rate, Brian Lara even surpassed Bradman.Viv Richards destroyed pace bowling more ferociously.However Bradman's record speaks for itself and his closest challenger is Sachin Tendulkar.Tendulkar faced much more pressure than the Don and it is debatable whether Bradman would have scored 100 international centuries. [[ The 100 international centuries, Harsh, should be given a decent resting place. If ANY TOP BATSMAN (50+ average in Tests and 40+ average in ODIs) played 188 Tests and 463 ODIs he WOULD surpass this number. No one has achieved this so far and no one will. How can we talk about a batsman who played 52 international matches in 20 years with someone who has played 651 international matches in 23 years. Hats off to SRT for his wonderful staying power, play at the highest level for 23 years, all-round excellence and so on. Comparisons on longevity-based achievements are futile. Ananth: ]]

• Harsh Thakor on June 2, 2012, 8:42 GMT

Great Work Ananth I can't express how much I could share my views. In terms of pure natural ability arguably Rohan Kanhai surpassed Bradman with an insatiable repertoire of strokes,some purely his own invention.Denis Compton,too had more inventive genius.C.R.James stated that he entered regions of batting surpassing the Don.On wet tracks Sir George Headley was a better batsman and so was Sir Jack Hobbs.Technically,Len Hutton and arguably even Sunil Gavaskar was better.Viv Richards was more brutal in his assault on pace bowling.

Bradman was simply a batting machine as though he was programmed.In the 1970'-1980's he was likely to average around 75 with the standard of bowling ,wickets etc.

His greatest challengers to me are Tendulkar,Hobbs,Viv Richards and Lara.On slow wickets my choice would have been Zaheer Abbas .At his best my personal choice would have been Rohan Kanhai. [[ I feel Kanhai delivered about five-sixth of what he promised. 6227 at 47+: he was capable of 7000 at 52+ Ananth: ]]

• shrikanthk on June 2, 2012, 8:25 GMT

Don Bradman faced about 60 bowlers during his career. Just to give an idea, Tendulkar has faced about 300-310 different bowlers in his long career.

I don't know where this line of argument is supposed to lead us. So yes. He played in more familiar conditions. Having said that his opponents - the poor bowlers also bowled in familiar conditions. They had ample time to get used to him, bowl on familiar surfaces... You think familiarity is supposed to help only batsmen?

If consistency in cricket is all about familiarity, then how come hardly anybody in cricket history averages over 60 in First class cricket? If we take 20K runs as the cutoff, the highest FC average is that of DGB (95.14). The second highest is that of Sachin Tendulkar (around 59). Even if you consider Sachin's non-Test FC career, I guess the average is somewhere in the low sixties. Now let's not argue that Tendulkar's Ranji opponents on Indian wickets are a tougher proposition than DGB's Sheffield Shield opponents [[ Less than 100 FC games, less than 10000 runs, but amazingly an average very close to his Test one. So I get the feeling that we should anoint Tendulkar as a 55-60 guy. In which case, DGB should be anointed as 90-95 guy since he scored 22000 FC runs at 95. Ananth: ]]

• Arjun on June 2, 2012, 6:25 GMT

Ananth,

Don Bradman faced about 60 bowlers during his career. Just to give an idea, Tendulkar has faced about 300-310 different bowlers in his long career.

Bradman had batted on 10 different grounds/pitches; Tendulkar on 58. Not comparing Tendulkar with bradman, but any thoughts on Batting on familiar pitches/conditions and ag. same set of bowlers mostly ? [[ Arjun, this is a topic the doors of which are better left closed. The natural follow-up to this set of numbers would be the obvious quality vs quamtity. With no basis whatsoever I would say that half the 300+ bowlers Tendulkar would have faced would be above-40 level bowlers and would have been buffet lunch for a batsman of Tendulkar's class. The best index for measuring this is the Average Bowling Quality which I have referred to. There is no denying that Bradman faced bowlers, on average, around 36.0: around 3-5% below par. But better than the bowlers faced by Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Smith. Tendulkar is 34.5, around par. Much as I adore Federer, I would not say that he has had a harder time facing, say 300 opponents (just a guess) and on 8 different surfaces as compared to Laver, facing 60 opponents on 3 surfaces. Ananth: ]]

• Srinivasa Reddy on June 2, 2012, 5:53 GMT

Bradman remains so revered because, even in an era of wonderful players (Hammond, Hutton, Headley, Hobbs), he was further ahead of the next best than any batsman has ever been, or probably any other major sportsman.

• mads83 on June 2, 2012, 5:33 GMT

Wonderful analysis Ananth. I wonder if you could have also mentioned that he was never dismissed in the nineties. That certainly does set him apart from most cricketers considering he also got 29 tons. [[ Thank you. Only thing is I do not consider 100 as an important milestone. Also pl see that I have uploaded Bradman's career Excel sheet which could be downloaded by all. The next score to 102 is 89. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 5:30 GMT

@Saket, Bradman played against possibly the most physically intimidating, run-inhibiting bowling/fielding strategy the game has seen, often on pitches or in light conditions which would be deemed completely unsafe for play these days, with a bat about 60% the weight of current models, and with protective gear (helmetless of course) which modern middle-aged park-cricketers would refuse to walk out to bat in.

Furthermore, if you suggest that Bradman would only average about 50 if he played today, would Hammond/Hutton/Hobbs (The 2 openers in the ESPN all-time XI no less) also average half their average - somewhere in the high 20s? The fact remains that those men averaged what all the greats from all eras average (50-60) - all except Bradman of course.

In Hammond`s own words, `If I were choosing a side out of all the cricketers who have ever lived, I would put Bradman`s name down first. None of us had the measure of him and that`s the plain fact.`

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 5:15 GMT

@Abhijeet cont`d...you also seem to have a rather strange idea of what `luck` entails, if that is your explanation for Bradman not having a noticeable form slump over his career (although no centuries for 11 test innings in 1933/34 - spanning Bodyline and serious illness could be construed as such). Similarly, most people would regard losing 8 plus years (NOT the oft quoted 5) when aged 30-38(prime years for a batsman), as more unlucky than not.

It`s difficult to know when Bradman would have retired if not for the war, but there`s no doubt that he wouldn`t have been playing in 1948 at the age of 40 otherwise.

Finally, although Hammond had one golden summer in Aus in 1928/29, and many other very good ones, his figures were never really comparable to Bradman`s. He averaged 51 vs Aus, and surprisingly a fairly mediocre 37 against them in England where Bradman averaged an incredible 103, across 19 tests and 19 years.

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 4:44 GMT

@Abhijeet. Yes, perhaps playing predominantly against one team (37 of 52 tests vs. England), or in only 2 countries could be seen as an advantage - although spread over a period of 20 years it`s hardly as if you`re facing the same bowlers/conditions day in/day out. Comparisons with Sehwag`s 9 tests vs Pakistan in the space of about 2 years are hardly reasonable.

Similarly, to compare the South African/West Indian teams of the 1930s/40s with the current Bangladeshi/Zimbabwe teams is drawing a very long bow indeed. The South Africans had already been playing test cricket for about 50 years, and were good enough to beat England in a series in SAf in 1930/31, and again in England in 1935. The Windies also had series wins against England in 1934/5 and 1947/8 - both were very decent test teams. Sure India were a bit weaker, particularly away from home, but with bowlers such as Mankad, Armanath and Phadkar were certainly not toothless. cont`d...

• sudeep on June 2, 2012, 4:37 GMT

Great analysis made by ananth!! I just could not understand how could you manage to get such an fantastic analysis. but failed to analyse properly the first graph. Nice to read again your blog. [[ If you understand one graph, you would understand all. Think of each sub-graph (there are 3 in each) as a vertical line on which the batsmen are placed as per their values. Ananth: ]]

• Boll on June 2, 2012, 4:23 GMT

And we thought that statistical analyses of Bradman could tell us nothing we didn`t know already - some wonderful new insights here.

@Chaitanya - it`s certainly not only cricket where the greats of yesteryear are held in such high regard. Baseball, probably the closest comparison to cricket, still regards Babe Ruth as its greatest ever exponent almost 100 years after his major league debut. Even in `against the clock` sports such as athletics, few would dispute the greatness of a Jesse Owens, whose times were surpassed long ago.

Bradman remains so revered because, even in an era of wonderful players (Hammond, Hutton, Headley, Hobbs), he was further ahead of the next best than any batsman has ever been, or probably any other major sportsman.

• Saket on June 2, 2012, 4:19 GMT

Great analysis Ananth!! However, I cannot help feeling that Bradman was extremely lucky to end up with an average of 99.94-- he only played in England and Australia his whole career. Secondly, he never had to face consistently hostile bowling (Bouncers, bowlers of the quality of Marshall, Holding, etc.). We all know what happened to his average when Larwood bowled at him in the Bodyline series. [[ Yes, it dropped to 56 !!! which is a failure by his own standards but success by everyone else's standards. Ananth: ]] I have no doubt that were he to face better fast bowlers AND play outside England and Australia, his average would have been somewhere in the 50s or 60s-- just like the present greats of today. He is of course an all-time great, but nowhere as godlike as he has been made out to be.... [[ Can you tell me what you know about the bowlers of 1930s. Kindly take the list of 10 bowlers I have mentioned and look up their bowling averages. You will be surprised. Ananth: ]]

• vbp on June 2, 2012, 4:17 GMT

God is exempt from everything. The feat of Sir Don analysed any which way will only prove him greater.

• shrikanthk on June 2, 2012, 3:52 GMT

DGB being a poor starter ain't a surprise.

He had this rotary backlift which made him quite susceptible to getting clean bowled - a common form of dismissal early in one's innings. But once he got set, he kicked on. His technique precluded dismissals behind the wicket to a great extent, as the back and across trigger and rotary backlift ruled out outside edges.

He averages 89 against England, however which is totally not surprising as some batsman can average that much against any particular team for example, Sehwag averages 91 against Pakistan

Can Sehwag average 91 against Pakistan over 52 tests? Let Tendulkar play 52 tests on the trot against B'desh over a period of 20 years. I doubt if he will exceed an average of 65. Batting is a fundamentally difficult task. It doesn't matter who you are facing - be it a Ranji attack or the WI attack of the 80s. Anybody who has played competitive cricket knows this.

• Ananth on June 2, 2012, 3:24 GMT

I must apologize even though it is totally a Cricinfo screw-up. By a wrong setting they have managed to set the status for all comments during the past 8 days as "junk". Consequently these did not get directed to me also. It was only when I received no mails in response to the Bradman article that I suspected something. I went and found 30+ mails sitting in "Junk". Hopefully it should be set right today. You may be excited to know that over the past week or so your mails shared the same status as all "viagra-sellers", "paris hilton in the buff" and "**** or **** or ****" type of mails !!! Ananth

• Arvind on June 2, 2012, 2:34 GMT

I am surprised to see that no comments have been posted. Anyhow hoping that mine will be the first one to do so. All of us have our subjective conclusions on Bradman and it is clear that the number analysis you have done substantiate that. However the idea of keeping 50 as a fulcrum is a new twist. All said and done, truly the greatest batsman ever. [[ Sorry, Arvind, to shatter the momentary glee you had. Unfortunately Cricinfo messed up and the comments of the past 8 days had all gone into junk and never reached me. I have located all and published these. Thanks anyway. Ananth: ]]

• Mumbai cha porga on June 2, 2012, 1:47 GMT

Amazing work. Amazing analysis. Words of praise for Bradman converted into graphical beauty. Surprising though, Tendulkar doesn't figure in any except in the scoring rate table and compares well with the Don. Perhaps he would top the table for number of matches played, centuries scored and self-centred cricketers;)

• west indies follower on June 1, 2012, 22:56 GMT

Cheers Ananth, thought provoking, but I don't agree with your conclusion, specifically this line.

When Bradman failed, he failed in a big way. He failed often, more than the others. Until he reached 50, he was quite human.

Ultimately, he scored less than fifty in only 28 innings, out of 80. Suggesting that until he reached fifty he wass human is misleading, considering that he was clearly a consistent batsman, considering that his longest stretch without a fifty was only 5 innings. The next longest is 2 innings. Hs failures were dispersed amongst high scores, suggesting that his inevitable failures were just that, not that he had a specific problem before 50.

Also, could you possibly do stats on Bradman's second innings performance, and failures in losing matches to determine whether we can say that he failed 'in a big way'

I hope I have not come across as ignorant or rude, but that is my opinion [[ Good point(s). Ananth: ]]

• Pappu on June 1, 2012, 19:05 GMT

very good analysis......you have so much work..unearthed the history

• sukrat nath on June 1, 2012, 18:46 GMT

Well.. all i can say is ..have been rendered speechless.. the depth of analysis..and the spread of it.. figures do speak for themselves.. i truly believe them now.!! [[ Thank you, especially from the over-worked and aching tendons. Ananth: ]]

• Raghav Bihani on June 1, 2012, 18:45 GMT

Wonderful article and great reading. I was waiting eagerly for your article.

The analysis of Bradman is excellent. His fallibility below 50 was something I did not know about till recently. Also the myth that he scored heavily is shattered. The only thing is that he had scored heavily very often. He made his 50s count.

On the balls per innings you have mixed up your numbers somehow. Sutcliffe performed only 10% below Bradman. Even Hutton and Barrington are only about 15-20% below Bradman. The gap of 35% in balls per innings is miscalculated from some other figures. [[ No. not really. I have got the 60% by considering the figures for the same batsmen. The batsmen who are close to Bradman in BPI are way behind in scoring rate and vice versa, Ananth: ]] The point to keep in mind is that where the gap in balls is less, the gap in strike rate is huge. Also the batsmen who have a high strike rate have a very low balls per innings. Bradman combines the two very well indeed. My point number 4 in the end analysis would this rather than balls per innings.

• milpand on June 1, 2012, 18:30 GMT

It means that as the innings progressed Don started 'seeing it like a football'.

The final table/graph indicates that at the time of his retirement Kapil Dev had the best scoring rate with worst staying power for a 4k+ batsman. [[ Quick cameos were probably the order of the day. Not often did Kapil do the 50-in-100 routine. Ananth: ]]

• remnant on June 1, 2012, 17:37 GMT

One point regarding the bowling that Bradman faced is that, the pitches used to remain uncovered those days and the astronaut type padding was unavailable unlike today, that gives lesser batsmen the courage to go out and massacre the best bowlers. Moreoever the test by bodyline, should indeed be considered the ultimate test that Bradman passed with flying colors. His average in that Test series is like 56 with a century, while facing the Bodyline tactics, with the protective paraphernalia. Bradman scores in percentile across ages. [[ Good point(s). Ananth: ]]

• Bheem on June 1, 2012, 17:07 GMT

Anant, In my very humble opinion stats of Batsmen from the older eras should NEVER ever be put alongside those of modern day (last 30 yrs or so ) batsmen. Simply because the quality of bowling and fielding was very very modest back then if we are to go by the video footage ( and not the highly embellished written accounts or stats ).

• Chaitanya on June 1, 2012, 17:04 GMT

Why is it that it is only in Cricket that a great player from pre war years is *still* held in such high regard.Many footballers have a goal per game ratio before the 60s. How good were the attacks Bradman faced? How good was the quality of Cricket? Would he average the same in this era? Or was he giant among lilliputs? He is one of the greatest batsman ever.But not the greatest for me.

• Abhijeet on June 1, 2012, 16:00 GMT

I think the major advantage Bradman had got is that he played majority of his cricket against England (one team), I would rate SA, WI and India of 30's and 40's as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh of recent......So practically, his average against England that is something surprises everyone.

He averages 89 against England, however which is totally not surprising as some batsman can average that much against any particular team for example, Sehwag averages 91 against Pakistan.....

No doubts he is great batsman and no doubts no one could match his numbers but I think he is just got bit lucky that he never went in to bad form or slump that every batsman experience once or twice in his career.....may be, those years he missed due to World war II, saved his 'Average'...

Now take an example of Wally Hammond, he had similar numbers but he faced loss of form in the middle of 30’s and his average went southwards…

• Waspsting on June 1, 2012, 15:32 GMT

one further set of stats/graphs, showing scores for innings of 20 runs at least might be interesting (thinking of 20 as point at which batsman is "set". Maybe 30? 25?) [[ Not too difficult. Can at least do a table. Ananth: ]] Bradman's own reason for his success, as recounted by Neville Cardus was -

"Concentration. Every ball's the first ball, whether I'm on 0 or 200. And I never visualize the possibility of anyone every getting me out".

• Ravi on June 1, 2012, 14:22 GMT

Hi Ananth, A very good article as always. The 50+ finding is phenomenal. The achievement was great, of course and so was un-earthing it. I bet most readers would jump to saying he scored big hundreds (but that did not stand him out from Z Abbas and Viru). Your article has brought out WHAT he has achieved. As for WHY he was able to do that, I read a article 2 years back (can't recall the writer) on Bio-mechanics of short-heighted batsmen which suggested advantages of shorter arm-span and lower centre of gravity. Thirdly- temperament and socio-political factors. He was largely self-coached, had demonstrated weakness with short pitched stuff in 1930 exploited in Bolyline 1933. But he worked on that and overcame it. Then the war that robbed him of 5 good years only to return in 1946 to score big again. A soul not amazed at this is a sad soul. [[ Bradman, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Lara, Jayawardene and even Ponting, probably on the shorter side. Ananth: ]]

• Hitesh on June 1, 2012, 12:22 GMT

Interesting to read.I am a quick reader but it took me around an hour to read this. So , assuming you would have spent a hell lot of time on this. Good job:)

• Vish Desai on June 1, 2012, 9:57 GMT

As is usual with any analysis of Bradman, the questions that remain at the end are always to the effect of "But WHY was he so good at getting to 50 in the first place? What made him NOT get out in the 30s and 40s in the first place? And how did he manage to get a 100 more after he got to 50?"

Of course, the corollaries to these questions... i.e., why do not Sachin/Lara/Ponting/[pick favourite batsman] do that? More to the point, why CANNOT they do that?

I wonder if we'll ever get down to answering these WHYs and HOWs...

• Paroksh Gupta on June 1, 2012, 9:40 GMT

Interesting analysis. However, I think the reason for reaching a rather counter-intuitive conclusion ("He failed often, more than the others.") is down to a slightly flawed reasoning.

From the commentary below the first graph, I presume that the definition of 'failure' here is a sub-10 score (which is the right way to look at it). Now, it is correct that Bradman scored a higher % of zeroes. It is also correct that when he failed (ie. scored less than 10) he failed quite miserably. But to be able to ascertain the (in)validity of the arrived conclusion, one really needs to look at the third statistic presented in the first graph. Bradman's % of sub-10 scores is comparable to the top 3, and certainly far above average. And that is really all that's required to conclude that he did NOT fail more often than others. Maybe few, but definitely incorrect to conclude he failed more often than 'others'.

• anonymouse on June 1, 2012, 9:19 GMT

• Vyasa on June 1, 2012, 9:10 GMT

Super analysis, Ananth. I would say this has numerically proved what Sir Don had to say about his own insatiable appetite (Taken from Cricinfo's profile)

"Bradman himself was of the opinion that there were other batsmen, contemporaries of his, who had the talent to be just as prolific as he was but lacked the concentration. Stan McCabe, who needed a particular challenge to bring the best of him, was no doubt one of them. "I wish I could bat like that", Bradman's assessment of McCabe's 232 in the Trent Bridge Test of 1938, must stand with W.G.'s "Give me Arthur" [Shrewsbury], when asked to name the best batsman he had played with, as the grandest tribute ever paid by one great cricketer to another."

Vyasa.

• No featured comments at the moment.

• Vyasa on June 1, 2012, 9:10 GMT

Super analysis, Ananth. I would say this has numerically proved what Sir Don had to say about his own insatiable appetite (Taken from Cricinfo's profile)

"Bradman himself was of the opinion that there were other batsmen, contemporaries of his, who had the talent to be just as prolific as he was but lacked the concentration. Stan McCabe, who needed a particular challenge to bring the best of him, was no doubt one of them. "I wish I could bat like that", Bradman's assessment of McCabe's 232 in the Trent Bridge Test of 1938, must stand with W.G.'s "Give me Arthur" [Shrewsbury], when asked to name the best batsman he had played with, as the grandest tribute ever paid by one great cricketer to another."

Vyasa.

• anonymouse on June 1, 2012, 9:19 GMT

• Paroksh Gupta on June 1, 2012, 9:40 GMT

Interesting analysis. However, I think the reason for reaching a rather counter-intuitive conclusion ("He failed often, more than the others.") is down to a slightly flawed reasoning.

From the commentary below the first graph, I presume that the definition of 'failure' here is a sub-10 score (which is the right way to look at it). Now, it is correct that Bradman scored a higher % of zeroes. It is also correct that when he failed (ie. scored less than 10) he failed quite miserably. But to be able to ascertain the (in)validity of the arrived conclusion, one really needs to look at the third statistic presented in the first graph. Bradman's % of sub-10 scores is comparable to the top 3, and certainly far above average. And that is really all that's required to conclude that he did NOT fail more often than others. Maybe few, but definitely incorrect to conclude he failed more often than 'others'.

• Vish Desai on June 1, 2012, 9:57 GMT

As is usual with any analysis of Bradman, the questions that remain at the end are always to the effect of "But WHY was he so good at getting to 50 in the first place? What made him NOT get out in the 30s and 40s in the first place? And how did he manage to get a 100 more after he got to 50?"

Of course, the corollaries to these questions... i.e., why do not Sachin/Lara/Ponting/[pick favourite batsman] do that? More to the point, why CANNOT they do that?

I wonder if we'll ever get down to answering these WHYs and HOWs...

• Hitesh on June 1, 2012, 12:22 GMT

Interesting to read.I am a quick reader but it took me around an hour to read this. So , assuming you would have spent a hell lot of time on this. Good job:)

• Ravi on June 1, 2012, 14:22 GMT

Hi Ananth, A very good article as always. The 50+ finding is phenomenal. The achievement was great, of course and so was un-earthing it. I bet most readers would jump to saying he scored big hundreds (but that did not stand him out from Z Abbas and Viru). Your article has brought out WHAT he has achieved. As for WHY he was able to do that, I read a article 2 years back (can't recall the writer) on Bio-mechanics of short-heighted batsmen which suggested advantages of shorter arm-span and lower centre of gravity. Thirdly- temperament and socio-political factors. He was largely self-coached, had demonstrated weakness with short pitched stuff in 1930 exploited in Bolyline 1933. But he worked on that and overcame it. Then the war that robbed him of 5 good years only to return in 1946 to score big again. A soul not amazed at this is a sad soul. [[ Bradman, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Lara, Jayawardene and even Ponting, probably on the shorter side. Ananth: ]]

• Waspsting on June 1, 2012, 15:32 GMT

one further set of stats/graphs, showing scores for innings of 20 runs at least might be interesting (thinking of 20 as point at which batsman is "set". Maybe 30? 25?) [[ Not too difficult. Can at least do a table. Ananth: ]] Bradman's own reason for his success, as recounted by Neville Cardus was -

"Concentration. Every ball's the first ball, whether I'm on 0 or 200. And I never visualize the possibility of anyone every getting me out".

• Abhijeet on June 1, 2012, 16:00 GMT

I think the major advantage Bradman had got is that he played majority of his cricket against England (one team), I would rate SA, WI and India of 30's and 40's as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh of recent......So practically, his average against England that is something surprises everyone.

He averages 89 against England, however which is totally not surprising as some batsman can average that much against any particular team for example, Sehwag averages 91 against Pakistan.....

No doubts he is great batsman and no doubts no one could match his numbers but I think he is just got bit lucky that he never went in to bad form or slump that every batsman experience once or twice in his career.....may be, those years he missed due to World war II, saved his 'Average'...

Now take an example of Wally Hammond, he had similar numbers but he faced loss of form in the middle of 30’s and his average went southwards…

• Chaitanya on June 1, 2012, 17:04 GMT

Why is it that it is only in Cricket that a great player from pre war years is *still* held in such high regard.Many footballers have a goal per game ratio before the 60s. How good were the attacks Bradman faced? How good was the quality of Cricket? Would he average the same in this era? Or was he giant among lilliputs? He is one of the greatest batsman ever.But not the greatest for me.

• Bheem on June 1, 2012, 17:07 GMT

Anant, In my very humble opinion stats of Batsmen from the older eras should NEVER ever be put alongside those of modern day (last 30 yrs or so ) batsmen. Simply because the quality of bowling and fielding was very very modest back then if we are to go by the video footage ( and not the highly embellished written accounts or stats ).