June 17, 2012

Test batting: location summary, by innings and vs country

An analysis of players' Test careers by innings number, opposition and host country
196

Jacques Kallis has a better average in the second innings than in the first innings © Getty Images

This is a continuation of the two ODI articles and analyses how Test batsmen and bowlers performed at home or away, against different teams and in the first or second innings. Normally I do analysis-centric articles which take on and expound a theme. Once in a while I do different types of articles in which I go deep in one area of the game and provide data tables around it. This is one such article. This has been a tough exercise on presentation and I must thank Milind for his invaluable suggestions.

This information is certainly available through StatsGuru of Cricinfo. However, what will not be available are the composite multidimensional tables which are provided here. You would have to put in multiple queries and saving the tables in an accessible format is another problem.

In order to avoid the usual questions and comments which relate to specific players, let me explain how these series of articles would be structured. I would cover the top/selected 10-12 players in a graph to visually present the variations. Then I would present data tables, in the body of the articles, which would normally cover the top 30 players or so. However the most important of the tables are the ones which have been uploaded and are available for downloading for permanent storage and perusal. Normally these cover the complete set of players, say 150 or so, who meet the cut-off criteria. So, before coming out with comments that "Miandad or Graham Gooch or Amarnath is not mentioned", please download the tables and check. Superficial reading of the articles is not enough.

The vs Country grouping is simple. I have 10 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies & Zimbabwe. And the analysis is very extensive in that it is by country played against: at home, away and across career. These being Test matches, I have also analyzed the career averages by first and second innings.

1. The criteria is 3000 Test runs for the career analysis and 2000 runs for the other analyses. I know that Pollock and Headley will miss out. However I do not want to lower the target further since the vs Country numbers would be too low.
2. There is no problem with using the Batting Average since this is an analysis of Test matches. Not outs do not play that significant a part as happens in the ODI game.
3. There are problems with the single Australia-ICC Test match. It could be said that the ICC players played against Australia away. Fine. But what about Australia. Which country did they play against? And I am not certainly going to allocate part of the match runs/wickets only. So this match has been completely excluded from the analysis. So do not come out with a complaint if you see Muralitharan, in the next article, with 795 wickets and Hayden, in this analysis, short by over 100 runs.
4. There is no neutral location. Too few matches (probably a maximum of 20) have been played in the neutral locations for me to classify these. These are treated as "Away" for both, probably a very fair assignment.

There are some similarities between this and the previous article on Bradman. However that article had the individual innings as the basis while this analysis has, as basis, the runs scored in different locations, against other teams and different team innings. The objectives are quite different. There are different insights to be drawn. In these articles the unassailable fact is the superiority of Bradman, in figures. So all attempts have been made to highlight facts related to other batsmen. I request readers to try and maintain this. After all there are other Test batsmen than Bradman and Tendulkar.

First the graphs. I would only offer limited comments since I expect the readers to come out with their own comments. I might anyhow miss some obvious comment. Should not really matter. The ordering is different for different modes of presentation since we can get different insights. In general, the graphs are ordered by the concerned Batting Average values and the tables are ordered by the appropriate Runs scored values.

Batsmen analysis - Summary by location / innings

Summary of career performance
© Anantha Narayanan

This graph contains batsmen with the top 10 averages and Tendulkar and Lara. Kallis is the only modern batsman in the top-10. The visual presentations are quite clear and are also explained on the graphs. Bradman is Bradman. Let us stop there. Barrington's away batting average is significantly higher than his home figure. As is the case with Hammond. Walcott has been much better at home than away. Hutton is almost the same everywhere.

Understandably most batsmen have performed better in the first innings than the second innings. Only three batsmen, Bradman, Sutcliffe and Kallis have performed better in the second innings than the first. This should put Kallis in slightly different light.

Batsmen analysis - All matches - by opposing country

Summary of performance against each team
© Anantha Narayanan

This graph requires some explanation. These are ordered by the Batting Average values. The player's performance against the 10 team groups are plotted. Blue ovals indicate Batting Average values of over 50.0 and Red ovals indicate Batting Average values below 50.0. The number of innings and runs scored are displayed under each country. Both Tendulkar and Lara have a mixed bag of performances and have been sub-par against three teams each. Both have been just below par against New Zealand and South Africa.

Only Bradman and Hobbs have performed above par across all countries. Tendulkar has been below par against Pakistan and South Africa while Lara has not been so successful against India and New Zealand. Looking down the graph, West Indies has been the toughest team to bat against and India the easiest to bat against.

Batsmen analysis - Home matches - by opposing country

Summary of performance in home Tests
© Anantha Narayanan

Other than Bradman, Weekes and Walcott have been outstanding at home against all opposition. Look at how well Australian bowlers have performed against all countries, away.

Batsmen analysis - Away matches - by opposing country

Summary of performance in away Tests
© Anantha Narayanan

Barring West Indies, Barrington has been above par while visiting the other countries. Same as with Hammond. Hobbs has also done well while on road. Surprisingly England has been a good country to visit and not so surprisingly New Zealand the toughest.

Now for the tables. Most of these are self-explanatory.

Test batsmen summary: by location, innings and average bowling quality

   Career Home Away 1st Ins 2nd Ins Avge31.79Adj Avge
BatsmanTeamInnsNosRunsAvgeRunsAvgeRunsAvgeRunsAvgeRunsAvgeBowQty/ABQ 
 
TendulkarInd311321547055.45676556.38870554.751092462.07454644.1434.460.9251.15
Ponting R.TAus282291334652.75744659.10579646.37936458.53398242.8234.820.9148.16
Dravid RInd286321328852.31559851.36766753.62910559.12418341.8334.150.9348.71
Kallis J.HSaf257391237956.78673858.59555854.49790555.28447459.6535.340.9051.08
Lara B.CWin23261195352.89621758.65569548.26824963.95370438.1932.020.9952.52
Border A.RAus265441117450.56574345.94543156.57680348.25437154.6432.790.9749.02
Waugh S.RAus260461092751.06571047.58521755.50855860.70236932.4534.190.9347.48
JayawardeneSlk217131044051.18664663.90379737.97769960.62274135.6036.400.8744.69
ChanderpaulWin243391029050.44544459.17484643.27674656.22354442.1933.980.9447.19
GavaskarInd214161012251.12506750.17505552.11615950.90396351.4734.170.9347.56
SangakkaraSlk18312938254.87518659.61419649.95578156.13360152.9636.390.8747.93
Gooch G.AEng2156890042.58591746.23298336.83500242.39389842.8430.541.0444.33
J MiandadPak18921883252.57448161.38435145.80650456.56232843.9234.590.9248.31
InzamamPak20022883049.61360452.23522548.83563651.24319446.9734.290.9345.99
LaxmanInd22534878145.97376751.60501442.49531044.25347148.8933.540.9543.57
Hayden M.LAus18414862650.74502357.08341542.69515350.03347351.8434.340.9346.97
RichardsWin18212854050.24313649.78540450.50604550.80249548.9232.660.9748.89
Stewart A.JEng23521846539.56465240.81381338.13500339.71346239.3430.451.0441.29
Gower D.IEng20418823144.25445442.83377746.06531146.59292040.5632.220.9943.66
Sehwag VInd1676817850.80424858.19384744.73617064.95200830.4234.490.9246.82
Boycott GEng19323811447.73435648.40375846.98479545.67331951.0633.570.9545.20
Smith G.CSaf17412804349.65357244.65445955.74487250.23317148.7836.470.8743.27
SobersWin16021803257.78407566.80395750.73510959.41292355.1532.070.9957.27
Waugh M.EAus20917802941.82401943.22401040.51556844.90246136.1933.120.9640.14
AthertonEng2127772837.70471638.98301235.86445839.45327035.5430.121.0639.79
Langer J.LAus18212769645.27440649.51326841.37517650.75252037.0634.020.9342.31
Cowdrey M.CEng18815762444.07353743.13408744.91525047.30237438.2933.230.9642.17
GreenidgeWin18516755844.72320948.62434942.22463543.32292347.1532.680.9743.50
Mohd YousufPak15612753052.29296563.09456547.06504360.04248741.4535.150.9047.30
Taylor M.AAus18613752543.50399343.40353243.60438443.41314143.6234.360.9340.25
Lloyd C.HWin17514751546.68288146.47463446.81519149.91232440.7732.230.9946.04
Haynes D.LWin20225748742.30386856.06361933.51445738.76303048.8733.530.9540.10
Boon D.CAus19020742243.66454146.34288140.01449143.60293143.7534.200.9340.59
Kirsten GSaf17615728945.27338442.30390548.21462047.14266942.3733.860.9442.50
Hammond W.REng14016724958.46300450.07424566.33507064.18217948.4243.860.7242.37
Ganguly S.CInd18817721242.18318042.97403241.57476943.75244339.4034.050.9339.37
Fleming S.PNzl18910717240.07294733.87422545.92486146.30231131.2332.760.9738.88
ChappellAus15119711053.86451554.40259552.96479158.43231946.3832.290.9853.04
Bradman D.GAus8010699699.94432298.232674102.85469797.852299104.5035.950.8888.38
The Home/Away and First/Second innings columns are self-explanatory. The last three columns are interesting. I have first posted the Average Bowling Quality, which is the Career-to-date bowling average faced by the batsman weighted by the runs scored. To counter the single bowler anomalies, the reciprocal method is used. An excellent bowling attack off which a 100 is scored will get a higher weight than the same attack off which 10 runs are scored. Thus this is a true depiction of the quality of bowling faced by the batsmen through their career and how they handled the attacks.

This work is an off-shoot of a comment for the previous article. Basically I have adjusted the batsman average by a factor which is 31.79 / ABQ. What is 31.79. That is the single bowling average value across 135+ years and 2000+ Tests. Bradman's ABQ being a below-par 35.95, his average gets reduced from 99.94 to 88.38. Gooch, having faced an above-par bowling attack of 30.54, has his average increased from 42.58 to 44.32. This seems to be an excellent adjustment tool.

Test summary: All matches vs other teams

BatsmanTeamRunsAvgeInsAus Bng Eng Ind Nzl Pak Saf Slk Win Zim 
All matches    AvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeIns
 
TendulkarInd1547055.4531157.367137956.347  49.43642.32742.54560.53655.23076.514
Dravid RInd1326552.6428439.760701060.937  63.82853.72633.84048.63263.83897.913
Ponting R.TAus1324252.76280  65544.25854.45153.62666.82652.54346.42353.44496.74
Kallis J.HSaf1229656.6625538.14779.2742.746722864.12666.926  38.92573.6431707
Lara B.CWin1191253.1823052.15686.5262.15134.62941.41753.322493586.514  55.54
Border A.RAus1117450.56265    56.38252.23551.73259.53633.11054.31139.559  
Waugh S.RAus1092751.06260    58.27341.93138.53434.63049.92587.61149.8511453
JayawardeneSlk1044351.1921734.92366.41459.93767.52851.619324059.428  44186010
ChanderpaulWin1029050.44243503854.6852.45465.74042.92042.92650.6364212  28.89
GavaskarInd1012251.1221451.731  38.267  43.41656.541  66.71165.548  
SangakkaraSlk938254.8718342.7177314353657.12459.21479.62548.628  541989.36
Gooch G.AEng890042.5821533.379    55.63352.22442.71623.2662.7644.851  
J MiandadPak883252.5718947.340  51.13267.5398029    41.61629.82828.65
InzamamPak882950.1619834.12580.8854.63252.11766.219  32.323603153.52442.919
LaxmanInd878145.9722549.75439430.628  58.41743.12537.53147.42257.236408
RichardsWin854050.2418244.454  62.45050.74143104227        
Stewart A.JEng846539.5623530.765    40.61545.92652.32239.23941.21636.943699
Hayden M.LAus843850.23182  33.6545.735593536.61846.81043.73651.11351.5272503
Gower D.IEng823144.2520444.877    44.937502249.427  93332.838  
Boycott GEng811447.7319347.571    57.12238.22584.41037.312  45.953  
Sehwag VInd809550.9116543.94035.262722  44.41891.11450.22672.91852.21758.74
SobersWin803257.7816043.138  60.66183.53023.81889.513        
Smith G.CSaf803150.1917238.62782.6957.43434.923442044.720  351269.325812
Waugh M.EAus802941.82209    50.15133.22442.62042.422422924.61441.348901
AthertonEng772837.7021229.766    57.413681741.41943.83218831.750377
Langer J.LAus767445.68180  36250.23840.32662.923572042.72035.91437.933204
Cowdrey M.CEng762444.0718834.375    72.61159.62445.21539.327  51.536  
GreenidgeWin755844.7218540.452  50.44847.93955.11931.927        
Mohd YousufPak753052.2915629.621252662.52449.92753.415  29.81329261011468.410
Taylor M.AAus752543.50186    42.36142.21847.61679.22041.41943.61528.137  
Lloyd C.HWin751546.6817550.248  45.15158.64416.71437.918        
Haynes D.LWin748742.3020242.159  47.85934.13249.62037.12940.52201    
Boon D.CAus742243.66190    45.75770.82047.52723.92043.31132.91539.940  
Kirsten GSaf728945.2717634.434155248.735401950.12355.918  42.61634.52482.55
Hammond W.REng724958.4614051.958    79.3911311  62.542  35.520  
Ganguly S.CInd721242.1818835.14461.8657.819  46.91547.52033.83146.32432.11644.213
Fleming S.PNzl717240.0718925.22766.2635.13732.620  47.51641.22758.32346.91637.617
ChappellAus711053.86151    45.96573.6556.62263.227  6615631  
Bradman D.GAus699699.9480    89.8631796    2025  74.56 

I have resolved not to mention the dreaded B word once in this paragraph. Coming down to earth, the averages which stand out, after ensuring that sufficient innings are played are: Sutcliffe 46 @ 66.9 and Barrington 39 @ 64.0 against Australia. Richards 50 @ 62.4 and Lara 51 @ 62.1 against England. Zaheer Abbas 25 @ 87.0 and Sobers 30 @ 83.5 against India. Javed Miandad 29 @ 80.0 against New Zealand. Sangakkara 25 @ 79.6 and Taylor 20 @ 79.2 against Pakistan. Harvey 23 @ 89.2 against South Africa. Tendulkar 36 @ 60.5 against Sri Lanka. Kallis 43 @ 73.6 and Gavaskar 48 @ 65.5 against West Indies. I am certain I have missed out some gems.

Test summary: Home matches vs other teams

BatsmanTeamRunsAvgeInsAus Bng Eng Ind Nzl Pak Saf Slk Win Zim 
Home matches    AvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeIns
 
Ponting R.TAus744659.10147  34.5244.3288626511869.91658.22250945.4231303
TendulkarInd676556.3813562.729  60.617  49.31844.21436.21752.51761.7161137
Kallis J.HSaf673858.5913433.626127453.92691.71368.81347.213  41.11594.32158.73
JayawardeneSlk664663.9011235.31579.47891870.21866.71230.71510512  45.41155.74
Lara B.CWin621758.65111662386.527824352349.7660.8951.41769.87    
Gooch G.AEng591746.2313133.546    66.71758.11945.81023.2680.8447.629  
Border A.RAus574345.94145    47.33953.41952.81857.72029.2563.2433.940  
Waugh S.RAus571047.58140    47.54137.916421725.21349.511130839.13069.52
Dravid RInd559851.3612035.730  47.814  63.81442.91739.21876.91158.4101266
ChanderpaulWin544459.1711480.4171082402770.32946.8665.91163.11543.34  24.33
SangakkaraSlk518659.619530.511118739.21874.31452.8768.81065.812  681263.84
GavaskarInd506750.1710852.512  3639  43.2654.422  104561.124  
Hayden M.LAus502357.0896  30.5256.81771.81341.91132653.91854.4747.7192503
AthertonEng471638.9812429.838    64.11158.71331.21346.716  29.330753
Stewart A.JEng465240.811263033    52.99351763.91641.62358.8826.91560.55
Boon D.CAus454146.34108    42.92973.21558.31618.3931.2536.9946.325  
ChappellAus451554.4096    503773.6536.296022    58.823  
J MiandadPak448161.388669.912  70891.41882.615    51.91226.81628.65
Gower D.IEng445442.8311345.232    52.12057.81836.822  55122.420  
Langer J.LAus440649.5194  36248.42750.61387.9872.11054.91052.5425.817123
Boycott GEng435648.401005034    64.31246.11787.3518.84  4128  
Bradman D.GAus432298.2350    78.5331796    2025  74.56  
Sehwag VInd424858.197640.220  26.412  71.9990.76841178.1753.110741
JayasuriyaSlk411443.7710231.11475.6530.61494.81031.5842.6144515  27.91143.311
SobersWin407566.807538.918  73.42472.91736.181378        
Waugh M.EAus401943.2299    50.823221145.91245940.31463.844226 

I will let the readers come out with real gems from this table.

Test summary: Away matches vs other teams

BatsmanTeamRunsAvgeInsAus Bng Eng Ind Nzl Pak Saf Slk Win Zim 
Away matches    AvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeInsAvgeIns
 
TendulkarInd870554.7517653.238137954.330  49.51840.21346.42867.91947.714407
Dravid RInd766753.621644430701068.823  63.81478.6929.72233.12165.72879.27
Ponting R.TAus579646.37133  95.5344.13026.52559.7862.11046.82144.21461.121311
Lara B.CWin569548.2611943.333  48.82733636.91148.21346.7181017  55.54
Kallis J.HSaf555854.4912143.82131.5329.32058.515591390.513  35.31055.4225034
Border A.RAus543156.57120    65.14351.11650.21461.91638548.3753.119  
RichardsWin540450.5011547.639  64.33445.42419.2442.814        
InzamamPak522548.8312035.21489342.52254.91059.615  31.81580.91348.9164912
Waugh S.RAus521755.50120    74.23247.41535.31742.11750.21417.3368.521  
GavaskarInd505552.1110651.119  41.128  43.61058.919  37.2670.224  
LaxmanInd501442.4913444.12939434.519  40.2937.4940.41848.21347.82741.56
ChanderpaulWin484643.2712930.22141.2666.62754.61141.21430.61542.12141.38  316
Lloyd C.HWin463446.811084936  42.13075.52215.31133.89        
Mohd YouPak456547.0610531.918378354.31533.71755.214  26.11032.51278.4958.17
Younis KhanPak450050.0010031.812128547.41476.81265.38  40.41442.617401350.55
Smith G.CSaf445955.748643.71267572.21735.91257.21245.611  44.847313  
J MiandadPak435145.8010338.128  46.62449.92177.314    15.8433.812  
GreenidgeWin434942.221103132  56.13045.32556.21217.311        
Hammond W.REng424566.337261.935      3213  62.926  258  
Fleming S.PNzl422545.9210029.315116237.91935.711  50646.3201051041.98399
SangakkaraSlk419649.958865.2640.6730.61836.51066.8786.51535.816  3471402
Cowdrey M.CEng408744.911003648    103455.91633.2433.110  60.318  
Ganguly S.CInd403241.5710434.82061.8665.415  27.7849.3336.11636.817401230.67
Waugh M.EAus401040.51110    49.52843.51335.8840.61343.61591040.522901

Let us set aside Hammond's average of 321.0 against New Zealand and Mohd Yousuf's 378.0 against Bangladesh (albeit in 3 innings each). The stand-out averages are: Hammond 35 @ 61.9 and Tendulkar 38 @ 53.2 against Australia. Steve Waugh 32 @ 74.2 and Dravid 23 @ 68.8 against England. Lloyd 22 @ 75.5 and Sobers 13 @ 99.9 against India. Kallis 13 @ 90.5 and Sangakkara 15 @ 86.5 against Pakistan. Inzamam 13 @ 80.9 and Fleming 10 @ 104.7 against Sri Lanka. Finally Gavaskar 24 @ 70.2 and Steve Waugh 21 @ 68.5 against West Indies. Again this is probably not a final list.

But for me the most inexplicable and impossible-to-understand performance is Sobers' 10 innings in New Zealand at 15.1. His scores during 3 tours are 27, 25, 27, 1, 1, 11, 0, 20, 39 and 0. What really happened ???

To download/view the Excel sheet containing the following tables, please click/right-click here. The serious students of the game are going to have a link to this Excel file on their desktop and refer to it a few times a day.

Batsman location summary and innings summaries.
Batsmen run analysis vs Team - for all matches
Batsmen run analysis vs Team - for home matches
Batsmen run analysis vs Team - for away matches

No specific conclusions. I thought for long and decided against coming out with any selection of batsmen. It will be a red herring.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arjun on July 3, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Ananth,

    If we split career into 2 halves, Ian Botham's stats are like chalk and cheese. In 1st half he seems to be real challenger to Don Bradman as 'the greatest cricket ever'. After 25 tests, 139 wkts @ 18.52 plus 1336 runs @ 40.48 (probably best ever) After 50 tests, 229 wkts @ 22.89 plus 2625 runs @ 36.45 (probably greatest peak an allrounder has ever reached) He Scored his only double hundred(208) in his 51st test(his midpoint) Has any other cricketer scored 10 hundereds and 19 5-wkt hauls in his first 50 tests ? If he had retired at his mid-point(51 tests) he would have been greatest cricketer ever.

    His Mid-point stats 2833 runs @ 38.80 with 11 hundereds 231 wkts @ 23.06 with 19(5w) and 4(10w) [[ Your figures are slightly different from mine since you have gone on Tests as the base. 102 Tests played and your figures reflect the career figures at the end of 51st Test. I have gone independently on innings and innspells. But the result is almost the same. Quite difficult to find an all-rounder difference of 15.7 and a sub-25 bowling figure. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 2, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    "... the umpiring decisions go 1-9 against (Pakistan). If it had been India, there would have been a major explosion...Oh! I know about Sydney. But then India got their revenge. They cut short the legs of Bucknor the next day... (BCCI) have to act responsibly and gracefully and not like a big bully."

    I have mixed feelings on BCCI and Indian media. Yes, they are over the top and it is... not "gentlemanly". But they look after their own, in a way Pakistan do not.

    Maybe its just not a gentlemanly world out there.

    Re: WSC and IPL... discussions on human nature is beyond the scope of this blog, but basically, i think it boils down to the two being the same.

    WSC took players pay from peanuts to decent IPL has gone from high to very high.

    To the players, a gain is a gain and that's all. Don't think the finer points of the difference reach most people WHEN THEY ARE IN THE SITUATION themself

    Call it greed or a lack of proportion... it is what it is, and its not going to change.

  • Ranga on July 2, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Aside, I did read Grieg's speech. Well, to me, you can't compare IPL and WSC. Just one similarity - both made money out of cricket. While WSC wanted to take the contests to a next level and make money, while IPL, wanted to encash on a certain country's cricket craze. IPL was not formed to raise the standard of Indian cricket. If it did, it was incidental and not intentional. But I am not really for blaming the BCC(I)PL for decline in test cricket. A 2-test series vs SAF and Aus doesnt involve BCCI. Neither does the 3-test series between Eng and SAF. That WIndies declined is not because of IPL. If at all any counrty lost due to IPL, it is India and INdian cricket should be worried about IPL. Vijay, a very stylish opening batsman is happy clobbering club bowlers, Ashwin and BHajji lost their bite due to PP overs,Rahul Sharma is making a mockery of Kumble. But I am not a supporter of this 2 month long IPL. But avarice, not greed, is the word to describe BCCI [[ Ranga As I have mentioned in my response to Alex, there are many things which are off the mark in Greig's speech. But on IPL and DRS he is correct. The last Test between Slk and Pak was one reason for against 100 reasons against inclusion of DRS. Many people have kept quiet because it was Pakistan. However they had a very raw deal. First Misbah gets suspended. Then the umpiring decisions go 1-9 against them. If it had been India, there would have been a major explosion. Oh! I know about Sydney. But then India got their revenge. They cut short the legs of Bucknor the next day. What does Pakistan do. I would go to the extent of saying that if there would have been DRS there was a very good chance for Pakistan to probably get a draw. As I have already written, if India had put their weight behind DRS (okay only 98% correct) in 2010, by now there would have been a multi-million dollar sponsorship of DRS across the globe and ICC would not look silly. I know the scheduling of 2-Test series is the responsibility of Australia/South africa/England. Overall the running theme is greed (I have no problems using this word as against avarice which is nothing but acceptable, camouflaged greed). I have advocated in every form possible that IPL should be restricted to 25 days and there should be a window so that the teams would not lose their star players. Gayle, Pietersen, Malinga, the list will only expand. I do not agree that India has lost because of IPL. ALl of them, BCCI, Vijay, Badri, Jadeja and the biggies, are counting their cash tills till their fingers get sore. Do you think they care about missing out on being part of cricket history. I am not holding BCCI responsible for all that is worong with world cricket. But they have to act responsibly and gracefully and not like a big bully. Ananth: ]]

  • ad captandum on July 2, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    @boll (7.59pm)

    I agree. That said, I have also never really thought that Ponting deserved to be rated up there with Tendulkar and Lara. Ponting, Kallis, Dravid et al form a chasing pack.

  • Waspsting on July 1, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    I'd say its a given that Bradman was the best against everything out there, including extreme pace. 2000+ runs @84 is only low by his own standards - it puts to shade anyone else overall, doubly puts to shade anyone against extreme pace.

    -------

    Think its important to look at both -

    a) how comfortable a batsman looks and b) how frequently he got out against pace, spin etc.

    - when looking at things like "x plays fast/spin bowling well".

    The most comfortable looking player of fast bowling i've seen is Inzamamam-Ul-Haq - but his record in Aus and SA isn't anything special

    On the flip side, we have Steve Waugh - as uncomfortable looking against fast bowling as can be, but found a way to put runs on the board against SA, WI and Pak consistently.

  • Boll on July 1, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    @Ravi M - not only the Bedi interview, but a great collection 1-19.

  • Boll on July 1, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    @Ravi M. thanks for the link to the Bedi interview - wonderful stuff, as are the 18 others of that series, only one of which (Viv on not wearing a helmet) I think I`ve seen before.

    I do feel that Kallis has been undervalued (and for much of his career, rightly overshadowed as a batsman by Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar et al.) as a batsman and all-rounder. However, the recent (or is it just the forums that I read?) push for him as the greatest all-rounder, or indeed player, of all time, has swung the pendulum too far the other way for mine.

    Wonderful batting record home/away, what have you. Perhaps Barrington`s records and similar lack of recognition come closest.

    Not sure, but I`ve watched a lot of Kallis and have only thought on rare occasions that I was watching a truly great batsman.

  • Alex on July 1, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    @Ravi M & @Ananth:

    1. "Greatest ever vs spin" is quite subjective. I think that honor should go to someone from Ind or Pak. Outside of these two teams, Lara & Sobers must be two of the prime candidates.

    2. It doesn't look like Sobers, despite playing for 20 yrs, ever encountered a major change in actual cricket ... no major rule changes, no major format change (ODIs arrived just when he retired), no major playing condition changes (real fast bowlers arrived after he retired), etc. The social status of black cricketers did change a lot during this period and that is a very big thing but that is not the same as a change in the game itself. Of course, this is not meant to criticize Sobers, a genius who might well be the greatest ever cricketer bar Bradman.

  • Alex on July 1, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    @Ananth: By no means, I meant that you are a sycophant!! While I hate the Bollywoodization & poor quality cricket in IPL, it does provide X million dollars to a Badrinath ... it is not just about increasing the revenues of superstars from X million to X+Y. [[ Alex, no worries on that. I knew that you had only pointed out Mark Nicholas. No one who knows me can accuse me of sycophancy, once they know that I tend to disagee more often than agree. Ananth: ]] While on money, MSD made 26 million USD last year and 23 million USD of that income was due to advertisement. These advertisements are primarily run in India only. Now, MSD has got whitewashed in Eng & Oz where Kapil & SMG were shown the door for much less serious reasons. So, basically, BCCI/IPL is not duping ICC but it is duping people of India through its propaganda machinery just to ensure limelight to cricket so that its cash reserves improve ... Sharad Pawar is at the helm, after all.

  • Ravi M on July 1, 2012, 2:41 GMT

    Noticed some comments who the best was against extreme pace, medium pace, swing, spin etc.

    It's safe to say that Bradman was the best against every type except perhaps extreme pace. Other than Larwood & a couple of West Indians, I don't think Bradman faced many who bowled at 90 mph consistently.

    With Larwood: Debut series: 468 @ 67 Away: 705 @ 176 Bodyline: 396 @ 57

    v WI: 447 @ 75

    Overall: 2000+ runs @ 84.

    Significant drop from his usual 100. I guess bodyline & debut series were primary factors. All in all, considering most bowlers in his time were fast medium and spinners, I guess it's no big deal to choose Sobers as the best again sheer pace. 254 - 'Nuff said.

    Leaving Bradman aside, I'd easily place Sobers ahead of rest against spin**, swing and especially yorkers & bouncers. Strangely enough, he never really dominated medium pacers as much.

    ** Bedi on Sobers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXOOH9xufO0&list=UU3PkyEEVULkdUhGg8vX8M7Q&index=5&feature=plcp

  • Arjun on July 3, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Ananth,

    If we split career into 2 halves, Ian Botham's stats are like chalk and cheese. In 1st half he seems to be real challenger to Don Bradman as 'the greatest cricket ever'. After 25 tests, 139 wkts @ 18.52 plus 1336 runs @ 40.48 (probably best ever) After 50 tests, 229 wkts @ 22.89 plus 2625 runs @ 36.45 (probably greatest peak an allrounder has ever reached) He Scored his only double hundred(208) in his 51st test(his midpoint) Has any other cricketer scored 10 hundereds and 19 5-wkt hauls in his first 50 tests ? If he had retired at his mid-point(51 tests) he would have been greatest cricketer ever.

    His Mid-point stats 2833 runs @ 38.80 with 11 hundereds 231 wkts @ 23.06 with 19(5w) and 4(10w) [[ Your figures are slightly different from mine since you have gone on Tests as the base. 102 Tests played and your figures reflect the career figures at the end of 51st Test. I have gone independently on innings and innspells. But the result is almost the same. Quite difficult to find an all-rounder difference of 15.7 and a sub-25 bowling figure. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on July 2, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    "... the umpiring decisions go 1-9 against (Pakistan). If it had been India, there would have been a major explosion...Oh! I know about Sydney. But then India got their revenge. They cut short the legs of Bucknor the next day... (BCCI) have to act responsibly and gracefully and not like a big bully."

    I have mixed feelings on BCCI and Indian media. Yes, they are over the top and it is... not "gentlemanly". But they look after their own, in a way Pakistan do not.

    Maybe its just not a gentlemanly world out there.

    Re: WSC and IPL... discussions on human nature is beyond the scope of this blog, but basically, i think it boils down to the two being the same.

    WSC took players pay from peanuts to decent IPL has gone from high to very high.

    To the players, a gain is a gain and that's all. Don't think the finer points of the difference reach most people WHEN THEY ARE IN THE SITUATION themself

    Call it greed or a lack of proportion... it is what it is, and its not going to change.

  • Ranga on July 2, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Aside, I did read Grieg's speech. Well, to me, you can't compare IPL and WSC. Just one similarity - both made money out of cricket. While WSC wanted to take the contests to a next level and make money, while IPL, wanted to encash on a certain country's cricket craze. IPL was not formed to raise the standard of Indian cricket. If it did, it was incidental and not intentional. But I am not really for blaming the BCC(I)PL for decline in test cricket. A 2-test series vs SAF and Aus doesnt involve BCCI. Neither does the 3-test series between Eng and SAF. That WIndies declined is not because of IPL. If at all any counrty lost due to IPL, it is India and INdian cricket should be worried about IPL. Vijay, a very stylish opening batsman is happy clobbering club bowlers, Ashwin and BHajji lost their bite due to PP overs,Rahul Sharma is making a mockery of Kumble. But I am not a supporter of this 2 month long IPL. But avarice, not greed, is the word to describe BCCI [[ Ranga As I have mentioned in my response to Alex, there are many things which are off the mark in Greig's speech. But on IPL and DRS he is correct. The last Test between Slk and Pak was one reason for against 100 reasons against inclusion of DRS. Many people have kept quiet because it was Pakistan. However they had a very raw deal. First Misbah gets suspended. Then the umpiring decisions go 1-9 against them. If it had been India, there would have been a major explosion. Oh! I know about Sydney. But then India got their revenge. They cut short the legs of Bucknor the next day. What does Pakistan do. I would go to the extent of saying that if there would have been DRS there was a very good chance for Pakistan to probably get a draw. As I have already written, if India had put their weight behind DRS (okay only 98% correct) in 2010, by now there would have been a multi-million dollar sponsorship of DRS across the globe and ICC would not look silly. I know the scheduling of 2-Test series is the responsibility of Australia/South africa/England. Overall the running theme is greed (I have no problems using this word as against avarice which is nothing but acceptable, camouflaged greed). I have advocated in every form possible that IPL should be restricted to 25 days and there should be a window so that the teams would not lose their star players. Gayle, Pietersen, Malinga, the list will only expand. I do not agree that India has lost because of IPL. ALl of them, BCCI, Vijay, Badri, Jadeja and the biggies, are counting their cash tills till their fingers get sore. Do you think they care about missing out on being part of cricket history. I am not holding BCCI responsible for all that is worong with world cricket. But they have to act responsibly and gracefully and not like a big bully. Ananth: ]]

  • ad captandum on July 2, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    @boll (7.59pm)

    I agree. That said, I have also never really thought that Ponting deserved to be rated up there with Tendulkar and Lara. Ponting, Kallis, Dravid et al form a chasing pack.

  • Waspsting on July 1, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    I'd say its a given that Bradman was the best against everything out there, including extreme pace. 2000+ runs @84 is only low by his own standards - it puts to shade anyone else overall, doubly puts to shade anyone against extreme pace.

    -------

    Think its important to look at both -

    a) how comfortable a batsman looks and b) how frequently he got out against pace, spin etc.

    - when looking at things like "x plays fast/spin bowling well".

    The most comfortable looking player of fast bowling i've seen is Inzamamam-Ul-Haq - but his record in Aus and SA isn't anything special

    On the flip side, we have Steve Waugh - as uncomfortable looking against fast bowling as can be, but found a way to put runs on the board against SA, WI and Pak consistently.

  • Boll on July 1, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    @Ravi M - not only the Bedi interview, but a great collection 1-19.

  • Boll on July 1, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    @Ravi M. thanks for the link to the Bedi interview - wonderful stuff, as are the 18 others of that series, only one of which (Viv on not wearing a helmet) I think I`ve seen before.

    I do feel that Kallis has been undervalued (and for much of his career, rightly overshadowed as a batsman by Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar et al.) as a batsman and all-rounder. However, the recent (or is it just the forums that I read?) push for him as the greatest all-rounder, or indeed player, of all time, has swung the pendulum too far the other way for mine.

    Wonderful batting record home/away, what have you. Perhaps Barrington`s records and similar lack of recognition come closest.

    Not sure, but I`ve watched a lot of Kallis and have only thought on rare occasions that I was watching a truly great batsman.

  • Alex on July 1, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    @Ravi M & @Ananth:

    1. "Greatest ever vs spin" is quite subjective. I think that honor should go to someone from Ind or Pak. Outside of these two teams, Lara & Sobers must be two of the prime candidates.

    2. It doesn't look like Sobers, despite playing for 20 yrs, ever encountered a major change in actual cricket ... no major rule changes, no major format change (ODIs arrived just when he retired), no major playing condition changes (real fast bowlers arrived after he retired), etc. The social status of black cricketers did change a lot during this period and that is a very big thing but that is not the same as a change in the game itself. Of course, this is not meant to criticize Sobers, a genius who might well be the greatest ever cricketer bar Bradman.

  • Alex on July 1, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    @Ananth: By no means, I meant that you are a sycophant!! While I hate the Bollywoodization & poor quality cricket in IPL, it does provide X million dollars to a Badrinath ... it is not just about increasing the revenues of superstars from X million to X+Y. [[ Alex, no worries on that. I knew that you had only pointed out Mark Nicholas. No one who knows me can accuse me of sycophancy, once they know that I tend to disagee more often than agree. Ananth: ]] While on money, MSD made 26 million USD last year and 23 million USD of that income was due to advertisement. These advertisements are primarily run in India only. Now, MSD has got whitewashed in Eng & Oz where Kapil & SMG were shown the door for much less serious reasons. So, basically, BCCI/IPL is not duping ICC but it is duping people of India through its propaganda machinery just to ensure limelight to cricket so that its cash reserves improve ... Sharad Pawar is at the helm, after all.

  • Ravi M on July 1, 2012, 2:41 GMT

    Noticed some comments who the best was against extreme pace, medium pace, swing, spin etc.

    It's safe to say that Bradman was the best against every type except perhaps extreme pace. Other than Larwood & a couple of West Indians, I don't think Bradman faced many who bowled at 90 mph consistently.

    With Larwood: Debut series: 468 @ 67 Away: 705 @ 176 Bodyline: 396 @ 57

    v WI: 447 @ 75

    Overall: 2000+ runs @ 84.

    Significant drop from his usual 100. I guess bodyline & debut series were primary factors. All in all, considering most bowlers in his time were fast medium and spinners, I guess it's no big deal to choose Sobers as the best again sheer pace. 254 - 'Nuff said.

    Leaving Bradman aside, I'd easily place Sobers ahead of rest against spin**, swing and especially yorkers & bouncers. Strangely enough, he never really dominated medium pacers as much.

    ** Bedi on Sobers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXOOH9xufO0&list=UU3PkyEEVULkdUhGg8vX8M7Q&index=5&feature=plcp

  • milpand on June 30, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    The greatest upset in WC '83 final, essentially a fluke, reminded me of the excellent away performance by M Amarnath in WI prior to this tournament. Referring to XL, I find that he scored 16 @ 54.8 in WI, 18 @ 57.1 in Pak & 13 @ 55.7 in Aus. By the way the WC '83 final was the third such fluke within 3-4 months. Ind & WI played 6 ODIs in that period - 3 in WI (along with 5 tests), 2 in group stages of WC and the final - both sides winning three times. 

    The solitary away win - http://espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/64209.html - came on the back of run a ball 282 posted by India with SMG scoring 90 of 117. He departed at 2/152 to watch a pinch hitter's cameo at #4 by Kpil who scored 72 of 38. The same chap scored a fluke 175 in the WC albeit in slightly different circumstances.

    At Old Trafford, WI lost for the first time in Prudential WC - http://espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65067.html - where chasing 262, they were reduced to 4/96, 6/124 & 130/8 but reached a respectable 228/10 with Nine & Jack scoring the highest scores of 37 each. In another fluke, WI chasing 183 found themselves at 66/5, 76/6 and later 124/8 in the 43 run defeat at Lord's. 

    2 years later, 5 out of 5 wins in B&H World Championship!

  • Ramesh kumar on June 30, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    Ananth

    DRS is a wrong example to take on BCCI. Honest answers are not coming whether ICC will fund full DRS in all test matches as I see many countries don’t have money. Too many variations of DRS is getting deployed depending on budgets.

    Predictive path is a waste of energy and is not solving howlers.

    There is a uncomfortable feeling that this can be manipulated by telecast companies. ICC needs to put in a process for this issue. Ramesh If there are weak points work towards improving the same. The current Hotspot is very good. Bcci can involve themselves in the sponsoring/selection/improvement process instead of being part of the decision-making and pulling the rug in the last moment. Will Zimbabwe say tomorrow that they would not implement the 2 new balls rule since it negates the impact of their slower bowlers. The last slk-pak test should have settled the DRS issue once and for all. I only wish that India finishes a test/series 10-2 on umpiring decisions. And, Ramesh, it is my firm and absolutely certain view that if India had given itself, say, 2 years, to heal the 2008 wounds and then put their weight behind DRS, today DRS WOULD HAVE BEEN AT A FAR SPERIOR LEVEL of implementation. And, finally, Ramesh, predictive ball tracking isworking wonderfully well in Tennis. It is also quick and the replays are shown within 10 seconds.

    There seems to be some inconsistency on decisions depending on the original decision of on field umpires and it needs tweaking.

    The counter argument to all these issues is that nothing can be 100% accurate. But these are fundamental flaws and it is not about 100% or 90%.

    BCCI needs flogging on other issues, but not on DRS.

  • rameshkumar on June 30, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Ananth,

    Nice analysis and good set of supportive comments.

    I followed closely 1976 India series against WI and Richards scored heavily against Indian spinners. But what I remember was how Richards was very awkward against spinners and he was dropped many no of times esp by Kirmani. Viv used to admit that he could never pick up Chandra. Surprising to see high praise for Viv’s batting against spinners. It shows how one is influenced by what we see/follow.

    Lara handled Murali well. In fact Murali never bowled that well against left handers. But I think Lara with his high backlift will struggle in low, slow bounce spinning wickets. Gavaskar had excellent footwork against spinners and so did Kallicharan, Fletcher, Denness & Zaheer abbas.Again all these examples are influenced by what one sees/follows and in this case the matches involved India.

  • ad captandum on June 30, 2012, 6:14 GMT

    Not sure that Lara was the "best ever" against spinners. He was superb against them, but I am not sure that he has ever played on an absolute bunsen a la Gavaskar.

    Among the legendary ones (Richards, Sobers, Tendulkar, Lara) from the 60s onwards, this would be my ranking - completely subjective, of course of their abilities against different kinds of bowling:

    Pure Pace: Richards/Sobers, Tendulkar, Lara Pure Swing: Sobers/Tendulkar, Richards, Lara Medium Pace, Seam: Richards/Lara, Tendulkar/Sobers Sping: Lara/Sobers, Tendulkar, Richards

    Very, very subjective.

  • Alex on June 29, 2012, 1:18 GMT

    @Ananth: Greig's speech is characteristically charismatic & hypocritical. He admits that the financial reasons led him to WSC but complains about IPL & India even though the basic fact of life is this: the one with money gets into power and the one with power makes the rules. [[ I do not agree with you. He is honest about admitting that he moved to WSC for the money: Who did not, may I ask. He would have been hypocritical if he had mouthed platitudes wbout the official cricket. He has been quite critical about them. Let us not make the big mistake of comparing WSC and IPL. One moved players from a pitiable 10000 pounds to 50000 pounds. The other moved players from x million to x+y million. I know of the other lesser players who benefit. WSC was created and run by an outsider daring the establishment. IPL is an incestuous creation of BCCI. The stand of BCCI on DRS is the base cause of the whole thing. And IPL successfully poaching top players after committing that home country approval is needed. And IPL creating their own "unofficial" FTP window. They are cocking a snook at ICC and telling them that "We, not you" are running the world cricket. Greig may be abrasive and materialistic and many of his points might not be acceptable, but the key points of his lecture are still very valid. As far as sycophants are concerned we are a nation of sycophants. So why should we complain. Ananth: ]] As usual, Mark Nicholas etc. applaud him like sycophants: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/570263.html . E.g., "Tony Grieg somehow led World XI to victory in the supertest finale". Really? Score-cards of World XI in that series:

    1. http://www.espncricinfo.com/worldseries/engine/current/match/316195.html .

    2. http://www.espncricinfo.com/worldseries/engine/current/match/316194.html .

    3. http://www.espncricinfo.com/worldseries/engine/current/match/316196.html .

    In the first 2 tests, World XI was led by Asif Iqbal & thumped Oz & WI. In the 3rd, it was led by Greig and beat Oz (sans GS Chappell) thanks to a classic 101* by Barry Richards & 9 wkts by le Roux. So much for "somehow".

  • Alex on June 28, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    @Gerry & @Ananth:

    1. Lara is generally regarded the best ever vs spinners. I too think so. However, perhaps his superior averages vs spinners are on good tracks: did he ever bat on real turners vs great spinners? Even in the legendary 2001 SL series, I don't think the pitches were a horror ... it was simply Murali at his best vs mediocre WI batsmen. Lara was a master of big innings and had immense powers of concentration. So, if you gave him a good wicket, the odds were that he would do well regardless of the quality of the attack. On a bad wicket though, I am not so sure of his chances.

    2. Viv was superb vs spinners even on bad tracks. Consider '81 & '87 in Pak. The wickets were turners and Pak had great spin bowlers. Viv averaged 72 in 4 tests in '81 when, save Raja, the next best average was 32. He again nearly topped the averages with 35 in '87.

  • Alex on June 28, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    @Gerry: Yes, I think an exceptionally sound defense was Viv's major strength but that gets overlooked by many. That is so with SRT as well. Today, I think SRT has lost a good fraction of the attacking shots he used to execute successfully in the past. He has adjusted better than Viv & Ponting though. Lara, of course, didn't need to adjust since he still had enough shots left.

    If SRT sticks to just defending, where I think he is still extremely good, he might still last for 150+ deliveries every time he walks out ... the trouble is that he might be batting on only 30 or 40 after those 3 hours, and the bowlers will have an upper-hand during his entire stay at the crease. This is why, if at all, Sobers/Viv/Chappell/Lara/Ponting/SRT should be considered superior to Kallis/Dravid/Waugh despite having similar, or slightly lower, averages.

  • Boll on June 28, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    @Alex. Yes, I think you make an excellent point re.Viv`s defensive technique - absolutely textbook. Both Lillee and Viv in fact, for all their aggression and bravado, were classical cricketers - remember the consummate outswinger, the glorious on-drive. Neither of them ended up with averages which are particularly noteworthy - Lillee a touch under 24, Viv a touch over 50 - but I would like to think that they had a far greater psychological impact than that.

    I think my earlier reference to `arrogance` may have been a little off-centre. Perhaps pride is a better word. Certainly off the field neither man has ever given the impression of arrogance, and perhaps shyness would be closer to the mark. However, through their performances they typified and encapsulated the ethos of (arguably) the two great powers of the game.

  • Waspsting on June 28, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    Short ball had him hopping (and vulnerable to getting out). Pitched up moving ball had him in trouble getting the bat down in time. Never scored a 100 against Donald or Wasim/Waqar. The high back lift made life hard on him.

    Viv took a few blows to the head. One from Thomson left his jaw swollen "as if he had the mumps". One from Lillee left him seeing two Lillee's when he got up to take the next ball (and a comical situation with Lloyd on the balcony waving the 12 man to go attend to Viv, while Viv was waving him away from the middle!). But yes, Lara took many more.

    Viv's underrated against spin, i think because he was so good against pace that that just took the eye (sort of like how Azhar's off side play isn't celebrated because his leg side play took the eye). But Lara was in a class of his own against the slows.

    If you couldn't see the bowler but just the ball and Lara playing it, I doubt you could tell if Warne/Murali were bowling or Sehwag/M. Waugh - it was all the same to him

  • Waspsting on June 28, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    I agree with Boll's assessments of the psychological effects of the attacking, uncompromising batsmen, especially Viv.

    Viv was the most in this area. Others resisted all attempts by the bowlers to intimidate them, Viv actually intimidated the bowler!

    If he's to be believed (i take a what Viv says with a pinch of salt) he neutralized Hogg and Pascoe the way he did Malcolm through these little mental battles.

    Think the psych aspect is overplayed a bit, though to the detriment of slower players. Its a different and less glamorous effect guys like Dravid, Kallis have. If you support them, seeing them brings a sense of security to the dressing room and if your against them, maybe a disheartened "how do we get this guy out?" type deal.

    Re: Richards and Lara vs pace and spin - I always felt Lara was vulnerable to express pace. (cont)

    Just different ways to skin the cat.

  • Waspsting on June 28, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    tying in to Boll, Alex and Gerry's discussion,

    - I agree with Boll's theory about what happens to reflex/'eye' type players as they grow older. the exception i think is Lara - while not as comfortably in that category as say Sehwag - i'd aniticipated that the high back lift would have caught up with him as he got older.

    Got that one wrong.

    i mistrust ideas of "he could have, if he'd changed his game". That presupposes that a guy is capable of changing his game - that he's not too attached to his own style.

    E.G - Viv was probably as far gone in his attacking style as Boycott was in his defensive one. He couldn't have changed even if he wanted to - like Boycott. This might serve as a counter to the "if he'd wanted to" type understanding.

    At the opposite end is someone like Tendulkar, who has adjusted his game over the years to the tune of maximizing his run scoring ability - given wherever he felt his "ability" was at the time. Greater flexibility of mind shown there.

    (cont)

  • knowwho on June 28, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @ad captandum I really do think that VIV has a very good record against Aus. I would also think that england during his time had a very high quality bowling attack (willis,botham,hendricks...). May be his average against Pak was little bit on the low side (~41/42). Almost all Batsmen have a weakpoint and his was against newzealand.

  • ad captandum on June 28, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    While Richards was absolutely fantastic (up there with Sobers, Tendulkar and Lara, in my book), his overall record against teams with the best bowling/bowlers - Pak, Australia, NZ/Hadlee - was underwhelming, at least for someone of his calibre. (Yes, I know that he did do well in at least one series against both Pak and Australia.)

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 28, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    Alex, true about Lara. But Richards was a far superior batsman against top class pace, and while Lara would have the edge on spin (though Richards was very successful on spinning dirt tracks in Pakistan, when everyone else failed), playing pace is a skill of greater rarity. I have seen Lara hit on the helmet on many occasions. Doubt if Richards took so many knocks (wouldn't have lived on, being helmetless).

    Lara was fundamentally a big scoring batsman, Richards wasnt. Comparing them on averages towards the end of their careers may not be appropriate, since Richards, had he so wanted, could easily have buckled down to a less attacking mode, and accumulated runs.

    So I am inclined to agree with Boll that it was attitude, rather than lack of stoke making ability, which brought Richards down to 50.23 from 55 odd that he was at till almost mid 80s. In fact his averages at the end of 100 tests are quite good by any standards.

  • Ananth on June 28, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    Those of you who have not, would do well to listen to Tony Greig's MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture. It is a hard-hitting 41-minute tour-de-force. He has pulled no punches and been on the mark right through. However, I am not sure whether India, with its very thick and impermeable skin, would listen. One thing is certain. Greig would not comment during IPL. Probably he was ready to burn that bridge, since he is past 65 and does not care. Ananth

  • Alex on June 28, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    @Gerry & @Boll: Viv's eyesight was so good that from the crease, he could spot a man in the stands. This is the Don's verdict during the 1st season SCG test of WSC in '77-'78: both Richards (Viv & Barry) hit big hundreds for World XI and Greg Chappell countered with a hundred. Viv was already a superstar and his innings was sensational. But the Don felt that Barry's was better since "Viv will not able to bat like this after his reflexes slow down". This is exactly what happened within 6 years of that event. Sadly, Viv's defensive technique was incredibly good; SMG rated it better than Boycott's. Had he compromised his attacking style when the reflexes slowed down, his stats would not have suffered.

    Of all the post-WW2 batsmen, IMO, Lara had the best breadth when it came to attacking the bowlers with high % traditional shots: he didn't need an upper-cut over third man. After his reflexes slowed down, he still had so many shots that his avg improved without sacrificing the SR.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 28, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    Boll, you are right. An anecdote...

    In 1990, Viv Richards scored 22 in one over from Devon Malcolm, made 70 in all, perhaps the most important 70 runs in his life, destroyed Malcolm's grip on West Indies batsman, WI won that test, and the next, and the series 2-1. In the previous tests, Malcolm had harassed WI batsmen with his pace, and indeed clean bowled Richards.

    But, in these 22 runs, there were two top edges when attempting to hook. So his goals and methods did not change, but execution became more difficult with age.

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    However, as the stats probably show, it becomes increasingly more difficult to dominate. You lose a split second of speed, the eyes fade a touch...perhaps you lose a bit of the mongrel. For any player who reaches 35 (28 years playing cricket?) it`s extremely difficult to change the mentality, the tempo at which you operate well. For those who`ve always batted slightly within themselves (and less often risen to great heights) the dying of the light, which eventually claims us all, is probably a slower and more forgiving sunset.

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    Don`t think I`ve quite managed to explain myself there. Let me talk about Viv, who set his staff by his arrogance, dominance and fearlessness - with a cap on his head. That`s a tough act to sustain. It`s also a stance which is difficult to retreat from - I see Ponting`s stubborn refusal to put away the pull/hook which had asserted his dominance - in a similar light. Not to take anything away from players such as Kallis or Dravid, but they have generally been the accumulators, not the standard bearers.

    Viv`s disdainful step-down and dispatch over mid-on; or Ponting`s `blink-and-you-miss-it` pull shots that clattered into the pickets, were more than just runs. They were statements. `I`m going to hammer you. I`m better than you. I can do that to your effort ball.`

    That sort of batting resonates through a team, as any of us who`ve been padded up/next-man-in know. It`s a priceless asset and one of the reasons I would rate men such as them so highly.

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Getting back to my SR/average hypothesis. I think that every player has an in-built tempo at which they feel most comfortable. Let`s use their career SR as a starting point. I don`t think it`s unreasonable to say that Dravid (SR 42) or Kallis (45) feel/felt far more comfortable batting at that pace than many other players would. Nor do I think it`s unreasonable to suggest that it`s easier to bat at that rate than at 55 (SRT) or 60 (Bradman, Punter, Lara) or 70 (Viv) or 80 (Sehwag, Gilly).

    I also think it`s fair to assume that maintaining that `comfortable` rate over a career becomes increasingly more difficult as you age... the higher it is. The two men who have succeeded best of those I`ve mentioned are probably DGB and SRT - pretty much in the middle of the SR range. Men such as Viv and to some extent Ponting have struggled against the dying of the light but refused to bow to it - to the detriment of their average. SRT has relied less on ego, and been happy to accumulate more.

  • Nitin Gautam on June 27, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    Saying Murali was more motivated than warne is not an insult to the great man at all.

    I agree with you tht talent cant be quantified to judge a player all I wanted to say is Murali worked hard, very hard to reach where he. In a Hindi cricket magazine, Cricket samrat, once i read that after 95 controversy Murali was so devastated so that he decided to try n bowl leg spin before he realized ranatunga's unconditional support but was not ready to quit. That was the dedication n motivation I was talking about. on contrary, Warne never was as serious as him as its evident by his off field distractions not only tarnished his repute but also cost him the Aussie captaincy. It was just his talent or whatever u call it that kept him going.

  • Satyajit on June 27, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    I think Ananth and others are going overboard with the wickets to runs conversion. Going by the logic of counting 30 runs for 1 wicket, in test cricket Kumble has 18k runs, Warne has 21k and Murali 24k (and Bhajji already has 12k!). Doesn't sound very believable. Or would you suggest batsmen are a lesser breed than the bowlers? I think the very idea of comparing runs with wickets is wrong as these two are very different disciplines and are important in their own way.

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Again, a little off-topic, but @Waspsting I refer you to this article, entitled `Brett Lee Chucking Charge Lifted` - plenty of scrutiny...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/cricket/862558.stm

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    @Ananth - re.the Murali `tribute` - I was barely even out of the blocks, re.the smiling, gentlemanly assassin... but will keep my powder dry.

    @Waspsting, I think you`ve probably got it right re. the fairly modern (post 70s as you point out) propensity to artificially create a boundary of batting greatness.

    Having just looked through the cumulative averages histories for some notable players, one thing that struck me was how little the strike rates changes even when the average does, and the fairly significant decline from peak averages of those with higher SRs over the latter stages of their career - Ponting, Richards, Sehwag(?). Conversely how those with slightly lower SRs - SRT, and significantly lower SRs, Kallis, Dravid have been able to remain more consistent. Something which jumped out at me, and which might not stand up under scrutiny, but a few reasons why...(TBC)

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    @ad captandum. Just had a look at Viv`s cumulative average. From his 17th test, it remained over 50 until his 117th, before jumping back over in the next one and remaining there until his 121st and last. It steadily declined from about his 43rd (@63) onwards.

    Yes, it would be interesting whether 41 fewer runs (average below 50) would have made a difference. I think his legend may have dimmed a little, rightly or wrongly. As you suggest, while averaging over 50 does not assure greatness, averaging under 50 (apart from pioneers such as Grace, Trumper) perhaps excludes it. Compton, Border or IVA averaging under 50? - just wouldn`t seem right.

    As a point of interest, I did note that the last time SRT averaged under 50 was at the end of his 52nd test!!(16 runs short) Ohh, have I opened a can of worms there? Needless to say he has never looked like dipping under for his next 130-odd, and has managed to sustain a remarkably consistency throughout.

  • Waspsting on June 27, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    re: Murali and the umpires - i have no problem with them calling him because his action was definitely suspicious looking.

    Whether it was done for the right reasons is another story.

    calling certain balls and not calling others - there's something wrong with that. either he chucked everything or nothing. Did the umpires really spot some micro difference between balls that nobody else could see (even on slow mo)?

    sometimes the umpires definitely got it wrong, such as when they called Murali while he was bowling leg breaks

    The way one umpire from square leg made it a point to call Murali and then slowly gesture to his own elbow also makes me think things weren't done for the right reasons. like he was making a statement (no one thought the no ball had been called for the ball being over shoulder height!)

    the "witch-hunt" or at least selective targeting became clearer when Shoaib was targeted, but not a murmur was raised against Brett Lee

    umpires motives in the matter - questionable

  • ad captandum on June 27, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    nitin gautam. while it is your individual opinion, the reasoning behind the assertion that warne was more talented than murali can still be specious. what on earth does the fact that murali took more time to hit his stride got to do with talent? by that token, one could argue that sobers's coruscating talent took some time to emerge. ditto imran. and kallis. also, why should warne's first series not count? u can't pick and choose criteria to weigh in in favour of a player. if you do, you can also be expect to be called on it. another subjective criterion - but certainly no more than yours - for measuring talent would be to see how great talent stacks up against great talent. given that murali did better than warne against the indians, who are acknowldged to the best players of spin, it can be posited that murali was better than warne. i think you get the point. anyway, thanks for responding to my post. appreciate it.

  • Dinesh on June 27, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Ananth: I think even 30 would be bit high. 71 bowlers captured 8wickets and 60 batsman scored 250+ runs.There have been 81 instances of 250+ scores and 88 instances of 8 or more wickets per innings. [[ In fact the above numbers give me the impression that a number quite close to 30 would be perfect. I think something like 29 seems to be right. Ananth: ]] In that way i would say 25Runs per wicket would be a reasonable one.Even then Murali's runs tally just falls short of Sachin's in lot fewer number of matches.This just proves that how dominant he has been over an extended period of time despite humiliations by Many Aussies and our own Bishen"Big Mouth"BEDI and he never uttered a single word. Warne or Sachin are considered better than Murali or Lara is one because of the media hype around them and them playing in a better team over the years though lara Played in a better team than Sachin till 2000. All in all not much to choose between either of the batsman's or bowler's.

  • Waspsting on June 27, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    @ad captandum -

    I think the 50-as-an-attribute-of-greatness got locked into thinking from 1970 on.

    Upto '70, the only guys to average over 50 and lower than 55 were Dudley Nourse and Denis Compton.

    Everyone else averaging over 50 averaged over 55 too. Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Bradman, Headley, Hutton, Weekes, Walcott, Sobers, Barrington, Graeme Pollock.

    50 became the new 55 (sentimental value of 50 as a landmark aside)

    To Richards' credit, he didn't care much for such things. Wanted to go on one last tour of Aus (but not as captain) - he must've known that would risk his 50 average.

    What i deduce from this is that he was probably more concerned with his "never having lost a series as captain" record than he was about his 50 average.

    Guy had his priorities in right, i think.

    It wouldn't have affected my opinion AT ALL if his average slipped below 50, just as it doesn't bother me that Inzamamam's did.

    But yeah, some 'hypers' might have squealed a bit about it. [[ Inzamam, Harvey, Boycott, Kanhai, Hassett, Laxman, Saeed Anwar, Vishwanath, Greenidge, Clarke and de Villiers (these two as at now): Not a bad eleven of sub-50 average batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 27, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Very briefly re.Murali, (probably best left for another article). Whatever we think about his action or the whole shenanigans surrounding it, under immense personal and professional pressure he remained remarkably calm, and invariably played his cricket with great joy. His record of course speaks for itself. [[ This tribute from a true-blue Aussie would be cherished by Murali. Ananth: ]]

  • dinesh on June 27, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    "His collection of international wickets is at a minimum level comparable to the highest international run aggregate. Possibly exceeds." Almost true. AS we consider a 5wickets as equivalent of a batsman's century.Then murali 1334 wickets lead to 26680 international runs.Almost equal to Ricky Ponting's tally of runs. That is phenomenal achievement considering that he played 25ODI's and 32 Tests and had he played those number of matches he might have exceeded Tendulkar's tally of runs. He is statistically the Greatest Cricketer. [[ Dinesh, 20 runs per wicket is way, way too low. Look at innings as the unit. A bowler can capture 10 wickets at most. 2 bowlers have achieved this. In addition 15 bowlers have captured 9 wickets and 71 bowlers have captured 8 wickets. Now look at batting. One batsman has reached 400, 24 have reached 300 and a further 288 have reached 200. Of course I do not say 40 runs per wkt. But a good ball-park figure is 30 runs per wicket. On that basis Murali, with 40k equivalent runs, is way ahead of the batting tally. Ananth: ]] Just like any other Great batsman he had his Achilles heel's as well. India away and Australia away where his averages are like say ponting's average in India but he was phenomenal in England considered a fast bowlers Paradise. I know this is vague analysis but something i can play with.

  • Nitin Gautam on June 27, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    @ ad captandum There is no way to substantiate a statement like that on statistical grounds. Love the use of "certainly"! My sainted aunt!

    amusing

    When I or anyone write anything those becomes their individual viewpoints. When I write warne was more gifted, it is based on his record straight from the time he started playeing (pls dont bring in sydney'92 even Bradman was failure in his 1st test) however Murali became a magician much after he dtarted playing. for most of his starting career he was not as gud as he turned out to be (largely due to his mastery over doosra) & SL starting to play more tests). Murali was more motivated bcos he worked extremely hard to reach the pole position whereas warne was sucha a gifted player, it never mattered for him, if he is playing after 1 year ban (in Sl 2004), or his countless off field habits & distractions. lastly luvd you "My sainted aunt!" because of certainty(there is no way) u used to discredit the certainty I used for my views

  • ad captandum on June 27, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    Re: Viv.

    I think Viv ensured that his career average remained above 50 with his last or second last innings. Since a career average of 50 is considered to be an essential 'attribute' of a truly great batsman, I wonder what would have happened had he ended up with an average of less than 50. Would we his legend have dimmed a little? Or would it have been such that we would have questioned the meaning of the 50 mark itself?

  • ad captandum on June 27, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    "The umpires were correct as far as the laws in force then. However once the ICC made a ruling, it should have been accepted, just as DRS now." (Ananth) Were the umpires actually correct, or was there an element of a witchhunt in that fracas? I might be wrong, but why was the noball call not made by the square leg umpire, the person in the best position to notice a straightening of the arm? And there were many watching on TV (with the attendant advantages of slow motion and replays etc.), notably people like Bradman, who thought that the calls were ludicrous. [[ I am certain Hair exceeded his authority. My only point is that once ICC laid down the guidelines, people should keep quiet. Anyhow you know where I stand on this. All the way with the magician. Someone earlier has said that Murali should come next to Bradman and I see no reason why this should not happen. His collection of international wickets is at a minimum level comparable to the highest international run aggregate. Possibly exceeds. Ananth: ]]

  • ad captandum on June 27, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    "Certainly warne was more gifted but Murali was more motivated to do well"

    There is no way to substantiate a statement like that on statistical grounds. Love the use of "certainly"! My sainted aunt!

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 27, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    Alex, when Richards posted 19 and 43 in WSC II and III, I dont think he had lost the appetite for big scores as this was in 1978-79 in OZ followed by West Indies. I would neither rate the 100 average nor the lower averages quite so seriously since the Aussie attack was not at full strength with Jeff Thompson (who had regained his pace, as seen from the 6-50 against the full strength West Indies in the 1978 Barbados Test, and the famous battle with Richards which Richards lost in the end) being denied permission to join up with Packer.

    But in 1979-80, in the official test series, the Australian attack was at full strength. After this, Thompson started losing his pace, but until 1980, he was very sharp, and if anything, a bit crafty as well. Here Richards showed his appetite, and indeed against England in the 9 tests that followed.

    Richards did not play against World XI bowling, only Aus. Chappell played against very tough attacks. So no denying Chappell's calibre.

  • Som on June 26, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    Statistically, Murli come's just after Bradman in terms of his position in Test Cricket, and I totally appreciate that. But during the years that I was growing up and playing cricket at school level, most people around me without access to modern technologies of measurement would call Murli, Shoaib Akhtar, Malinga and a few other successful bowlers a chucker. I fought with this mindset for a long time but have now made peace with it and will now vehemently support Murli as the second greatest cricketer ever. As much as I appreciate Murli, I also find it offensive to attack the umpires who called him. This is a grey area and for Murli to be right, the umpires need not have been wrong.[[ The umpires were correct as far as the laws in force then. However once the ICC made a ruling, it should have been accepted, just as DRS now. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on June 26, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    @Gerry & @Nitin: After '82, Viv lost the ability to bat for 300+ deliveries. He still kept hitting 50's in 37% innings until 1989 but a 50+ average requires a big every once in a while to offset the 33% innings in which the batsman is bound to fail. Since Viv couldn't score big, his average dropped after 1982. The same thing has happened to Ponting since 2006.

    @Gerry: Your high stake game observation is correct. Viv took it to an extreme, IMO. Had he buckled down to score big in every match (or every other match) rather than simply terrorize the bowlers for an hour or so, he would have aged much better and might have finished with a 60+ average. Lara did not make that mistake.

  • Alex on June 26, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    @KnowWho & @Gerry: See WSC: http://www.espncricinfo.com/worldseries/content/story/323724.html . To summarize:

    1. 3 major series: '77-'78 in Oz, '78-'79 in Oz, and '78-'79 in WI. Barry played in the first series (5 tests) while GS & Viv played in all 3 (i.e., 15 tests).

    2. '77-'78: The first was Oz vs World and tall scoring with these averages: 100 (Viv), 97 (GS), 77 (Barry). The second was Oz vs WI, a murder for batsmen, and Viv's high noon: 72 (Viv), 42 (Ian Chappell), 26 (GS).

    3. '78-'79 in Oz: Again a murder for batsmen: 27 (GS), 19 (Viv). The best batsmen were Rowe (64) & Hookes (57).

    4. '78-'79 in WI: Bowler-friendly but not a murder for batsmen: 69 (Chappell), 50 (Lloyd), 43 (Viv), 44 (Rowe), 45 (Fredericks).

    @Gerry: So, Viv did quite OK in 2nd season 2nd series ... how does this work with your "novelty" theory? I will conclude this observation in the next post.

  • Nitin Gautam on June 26, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    I dont think Indian has general ill feeling for murali

    Bedi has the habit of ranting against players/team. I remember reading this in some magazine while felicitatin Buchanan as best coach,he asked him on stage (embarrassing sponsors & him), are u really as gud as made out to be or its aus team that made u great :)

    Murali in all away matches has awesome records in pace/swing countries with avg of 19.6, 19.4, 24 in Eng, Nzl & SF. however Aus was his waterloo but played only 5 tests there & 3 were in that fateful 95 series. elsewhere he was as gud as any. Murali was a late bloomer but once he crossed 300 wickets, he never seemed out of form always as threatening as ever spitting venom everywhere on every pitch. Warne had been out of form & players dominated him but never Murali of post 300 wickets era. Certainly warne was more gifted but Murali was more motivated to do well what Murali really lacked was flair,charisma & glamour that warne brought on field & cud never made uo for that

  • Nitin Gautam on June 26, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    On Ban/Zim

    I remember his issue came 1st when Aus toured SL after WC-03 with warne on 491 & murli on 485 wickets in race for being 2nd player to take 500 wickets & later being the 1st to break walsh's 519 & supporters from both countries brought this issue saying murli bought easy wickets & warne didnt, 2nd time it surfaced when murli took his 709th wicket & i remember reading ranatunga's columns in some Indian newspaper belittling warne for his record in India to counter Aussies theory of easy wickets for Murli.

    A test wicket/run is equally important in its totality [[ I understand (but do not appreciate) the Australian negative feeling against Murali. Lot of bad blood and provocative comments, some certainly by Ranatunga. But I can never appreciate the ill-feeling against Murali in India. I once had an argument with Bedi a few years back on a very negative article on Murali in the WCM magazine. Unfortunately that was also the editorial policy of WCM. Bedi's take was that he calls a bowler a javelin-thrower irrespective of where he came from, if he threw. But somewhere there it has to stop. People should shut up. Period. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on June 26, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    LB rules of the time in the manner Sutliffe's is.

    In his 1949 book, Bradman applauded Sutcliffe's wet wicket batting (in Bradman's 2nd test, i think) as the best exhibition of wet wicket batting he'd ever seen - better than Hobbs or Hammond.

    And then on the chapter on great players, didn't mention Sutcliffe at all! - limited the discussion of England's best batsmen to Hobbs, Hammond, Hutton and Compton

    ---

  • Waspsting on June 26, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    Today, I don't think anyone rates Hobbs, Hammond or Trumper greater than Bradman.

    re: Sutcliffe - I think he was unromantic, and coming up when the romantic mindset to assessment was highly fashionable.

    Even by my standards, i think he carried it a little too far.

    He'd go back and square himself up as the ball was released - perfectly placed to work the ball on the leg side and deal with the short ball, and shoulder arms to anything pitched outside the stumps.

    he did this in First class and test cricket. against pace and spin. Using pads as 1st line of defence to this extent... great success but leaves a bad taste.

    Hammond was no romantic as Shri's noted, but not even he'd go this far.

    Sutcliffe thought bodyline was fine and though if the LB rule was changed inswing and off break bowling would become unplayable and a century would become a rare feat.

    Hobbs, Hammond benefited from the same LB laws in operation, but i don't think their records are dependent on the rule (cont)

  • Nitin Gautam on June 26, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    @gerry

    In high stakes game of Test cricket, Richards and West Indies showed their true strength.

    That might be true but what happened to such proud legacy & true strength post 2000,actually post 1995.

    It was & is about players who uplift their game & not about the country as you said.

    However good/best player IVA Richards was, which i agree to the core he had very patchy last 4 years with avg of 42 in 36 mat while in last 2 year it went further downhill with avg of 36 in 19 matches.just cud nt understand where, as you just defined, his true strength went.

    Someone in last blog very aptly said, this blogspace has given company to SRT as the holy cow & members to that club are DGB, SRT, BCL & IVA & what a middle order it forms..I, for sure would like them to be my 3,4,5,6 in all weather, all format cricket team. [[ How can i sneak in Sobers, I wonder. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on June 26, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    Ravi - I'm glad your brought up Barrington. he's the hero of "anti-hype" assessments.

    Everything I've ever read from/about the 60s - a dozen books, many articles - about great post war English batsman focuses on Peter May, Cowdrey and Dexter. As often as not, Barrinton isn't mentioned at all - and when he is, its as an afterthought.

    Interpretation - those guys had "hype", the unattrative Ken didn't.

    50 years later, the pattern of assessment seems to have changed. Ken's in this England 11 chosen by cricinfo's "experts" - May and co. aren't.

    I think this might be the way it works - once the first batch of people who watched/played with a group of players have passed, the next generation tends to give more weight to stats, achievements than "glamor" type appeal.

    This is true even for Don Bradman. During his time, he was far from universally regarded as the greatest. Some said Hammond, more said Hobbs and even Aus "experts" tended to say Trumper (cont)

  • Nitin Gautam on June 26, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Dont understand this fascination with high-stakes games/big match temperament/scoring under pressure

    Shouldn't a batsman make enough runs to avoid any under pressure situation in 4th inning..does that make runs any easier, re. big match..what is a big match in test series, winning 1st test to take lead or winning 2nd to ensure the series win or winning to salvage pride or making it 3-0. A test is a test, there is no big match there. [[ Absolutely correct. One reason I never acknowledge the word "dead rubber". No Test is dead. Period. If anyone thought that the last Tests against England last year and Australia this year were "dead rubber", they are exhibiting their ignorance. In one match the teams were fighting for the no.1 position. In another it was the difference between 3-1 and 4-0. Ananth: ]] Re. Richards, if he was such a champion of Ur so called high-stakes games/big match temperament/scoring under pressure standards, why he didn't displayed them in last 4 years of his career..nothing against him but u don't have to deride anything that comes in the way to prove your point. funny thing is u used packer-1 to prove he was best against fast bowling n left packer-2 to rot saying that was unofficial so Richards was not motivated. & whats with India comment..everything can be argued which no one has to agree but that is not the motive here i guess

  • Boll on June 26, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    re.ICC rankings (if anyone is vaguely interested) - Peter May was top in 57/58, Doug Walters 69/70, Glenn Turner in 74, Kalli in 75, Gavaskar in 78/79, Lloyd in 83, Border in 84/85, Vengsarkar in 87, Javed in 88 and Richardson in 89/90.

    re.stats vs Zimb/Bang. I think it`s often a gripe raised by Australians, (who have played fewer tests against either team than anyone else. Conversely SL have played against them more than anyone else) - some justification in it, can also sound like (condescendingly) sour grapes though.

  • KnowWho on June 26, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    Hi Ananth, on the zim/ban subject one point to add is zim prior to 99/00 did have a good bowling lineup. Scoring in bangladesh could be tricky as india found out (sachin century -the one you had mentioned and the infamous sehwag rant abt bangla). As u said test run is a test run and test wicket is a wicket. no bias on that. [[ Karthik Bangladesh have blown hot and cold. One day they would make life miserable for world-class batsmen on their slow wickets with a plethora of spinners, as happened in 2010. Another day they would shower runs to the batsmen as happened couple of times against South Africa. My point is only that no run can be devalued nor a wicket. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 26, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    For some reason I decided to have a look at the ICC batting rankings throughout the years, specifically 31st Dec each year (I know, right in the middle of the southern hemisphere summer - but seemed the least controversial point). Lots of things wrong with these rankings (on a team and individual level) as we`ve discussed before, but the results were fairly interesting nevertheless.

    Since 1990, 5 players have finished a calendar year on top of the rankings 3 times (Gooch! - I am suitably chastened once again, Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting and Sangakkara), S.Waugh and Chanders twice, Richardson, Dravid, Hayden, Gambhir once apiece. In the 30-odd years prior to that only 2 players had achieved the feat - IVA Richards who was ranked No.1 a total of 6 times at year`s end between 1976 and 1988, and Sobers, an astonishing 12 times from 1959-1973. In the decade from 1959 until 1968 he was ranked No.1 on Dec 31st on all but one occasion (1965-Barrington). Some record!

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 26, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    "The teams had been 1-1 in the 5 test packer in WI, but in the 3 tests in Aus, WI won 2-0, and inflicted massive damage on Australia.

    I am trying to explain that in the high stakes game of Test cricket, Richards and West Indies showed their true strength."

    Sarosh, this is what I had written. In your long post, i am a bit lost on what you are arguing to contradict the above statement. Can you explain a bit more briefly?

  • Ananth on June 26, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    Since someone has seen fit to bring in the wickets captured by Murali against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, that too in a batting article, I have done some additional work and have given below summarized numbers. Having done this, let me say that I subscribe to the firm view that a Test run is a Test run and a Test wicket is a Test wicket. I may do million analysis rating innings/bowling spells but the bottom line is what I have already stated. Sum of batsmen runs scored against Bng/Zim (only gt 200): 38003 Career runs for above cases: 395440 % of runs scored against Bng/Zim: 9.6% No of players gt 1000 runs: 9 No of players gt 10% vs Bng/Zim: 34 No of players gt 15% vs Bng/Zim: 15 No of players gt 20% vs Bng/Zim: 3 (Atapattu/Dilshan/McMillan). The top two batsmen, Tendulkar and Dravid, have around 11%. In the top-11, we also have Sangakkara with 15% and Jayawardene with 12%. This summary shows that substantial runs have been scored against Bng/Zim. No effort should be made to de-value these runs in a general manner. One of Tendulkar's toughest centuries was against Bangladesh in 2010. The tables have been updated with this information.

  • Sarosh on June 26, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    The reaction to the recent white washes in Eng. and Aus show the changing mindset .Now the boys are actually expected to do well !! I recall the '99/2000 tour to Australia where the team manager went around telling the media and press that he fully expectded the team to lose 3-0 (which of course they did) !!

    That was the state of the game in India. Overseas esp.India were simply fodder.So,the fan had no choice but to applaud every act of individual defiance from the likes of Tendulkar - since they almost knew beforehand that the team was going to get royally whipped anyway.

    The times tho are 'a changing (hopefully!)

  • Sarosh on June 26, 2012, 10:46 GMT

    Till recently (in cricket history) or indeed general sporting terms India wasn't even really expected to win anything. The "stars" had to show up in every single match - or face potential elimination. No question of assuming that the rest of the team will carry them through to the end stages of a match or tournament.

    This "killer instinct" is now starting to form. Building up since say Ganguly. What use is it if for eg you are chasing 4/500 in the 4th just about every time ,get routinely pulverised by oppositon teams, dont have a chance of getting to the end stages of a tournament if the big guns dont show up etc.- to have any big match temparement?

    India was losing Test matches by innings and hundreds of runs . Would almost never get to big matches if the big boys didn’t turn up in the first place etc.

    So,contrary to your statement- It is infact all this is easily understood. If Richards was unable to keep up the intensity match after match, situation after situation- this effectively means he was RELYING on the rest of the team to do the job for him. Not sure how commendable that is

  • Sarosh on June 26, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    Gerry Incorrect argument. Also the bit about the "country like India where performance in high-stakes games / big match temperament /"...etc etc is actually again absurd if someone has even a modicum of understanding of how team sport works.

    For ages the very thought getting to the end stages of a match and so winning or end stages of a tournament was not even considered in India. India were continually whipped esp. away. The WC '83 can be considered the greatest upset and surprise result in cricket - basically a fluke.

    So,with this mentality where the opposition is far superior the very concept of high-stakes games etc. hardly arises.

    A Richards or Ponting can afford to "relax" physically and mentally because it is a given that their respective teams will take them to the end stages of a match or tournament.So, they can be lauded forever if they produce a bright performance in a big match- since non-performance in previous matches or crunch situations was "covered up" by teammates.

  • KnowWho on June 26, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @Gerry Thk it is totally unnecessary to bring india into the arugment. Every match is a big match in test cricket (except those against minnows).Test and ODI matches are different. In test match barring featherbeds present in few places scoring is a difficult job just becoz u need one ball to dismiss a batsmen. Probably chappel/Viv would have had the same pressure when they enter since both were No3 at that point in time. Dont u thk the stakes would be higher in international matches rather than un official match.

    @Alex. How many matches did Barry play in the Packer series. I am sure he wouldnt have played even half what chappel and Viv played.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 26, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Alex, it was with deep discomfort that I viewed myself approaching agreement with you on something, but now we are once again fine...

    I meant that MY guess is after the novelty of Packer wore off, Richards' performance dropped. In the 3 test series in OZ that followed upon the conclusion of Packer in 1979-80, Chappell did average 45, but compared to his 621 runs in 5 packer tests in West Indies, was a very big drop. By contrast, Richards rose from modest performance in the same 5 test Packer series to average 96.5 in this 3 test series.

    The teams had been 1-1 in the 5 test packer in WI, but in the 3 tests in Aus, WI won 2-0, and inflicted massive damage on Australia.

    I am trying to explain that in the high stakes game of Test cricket, Richards and West Indies showed their true strength.

    In a country like India where performance in high-stakes games / big match temperament / scoring under pressure are given low importance for specific reasons, this argument is tough to explain.

  • Alex on June 26, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    @Gerry:

    1. Chappell did not fail in 1979 & 1980, i.e., immediately after the Packer series. After the return, he averaged 45 vs WI, 79 in Eng, 76 in Pak, 53 in Eng, 36 vs NZ, 74 vs Ind, and 50 vs Pak. Then, the wheels came off vs WI in Oz: he averaged 14 in tests and, including ODIs, had 3 ducks in a row at one point. This series was the highest peak of the WI pace attack and of Holding, in particular. After this series, Chappell regained his scoring prowess and retired just prior to the next series vs WI :)

    2. Viv's success in the Packer series is a bit over-hyped, IMO, since people get carried away by the manner in which he scored his runs. Statistically, he was sensational in the first year and a major failure in the second. Taken across the 2 years, Barry Richards averaged 70, Chappell averaged 56, and Viv averaged 53.

  • ad captandum on June 26, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    "BCCI rode SRT to glory & he became a role model for Ind players 1990 onwards."

    I am not too sure about this. In fact, the number of tests played in the 90s shows that the BCCI really paid very little attention to letting India get the best out of Tendulkar at his peak. The world missed out a lot on Tendulkar at his very best, when he was, without an iota of doubt, the best batsman in the world. One statistic that highlights this is the number of tests played by Pietersen or Cook in their relatively short careers.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 26, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    One does not need to straighten the arm to get that extra snap in the wrists.

    Secondly, Viv did fail and GS Chappell did succeed in Packer 1979 (in West Indies, especially). As a young buy I was fascinated by Packer and would be mad at anyone who excluded it.

    But I now see the difference more clearly - In the official tests that followed, Viv Richards decimated the Aussies in Aus, and a fairly powerful attack at that, immediately after this quiet period in Packer, and simultaneously the Windies quicks stepped up a couple of gears. GS Chappell recorded a fairly modest average, Richards an astronomical average in 1979-80.

    It was known even then that the official tests would go into the record books. I have no doubt that while the players in the two sides were virtually the same, the stakes in the official tests were much higher.

    I would speculate that had the Packer tests enjoyed the same status as the official tests, Richards' average in 1979 packer would not have been so ordinary

  • Alex on June 25, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    @Waspsting & @Gerry: After a customary rebuke from Gerry, all feels right with the world! Consider the hypothetical case of Viv retiring in Dec '88, as he should have:

    1. At that point, his age was about same as Lara's in 2006 & their avg were also similar (52.9).

    2. The big difference is # runs: Viv had about 7,800, i.e., fully 4,000 less than Lara's net total. This is because Lara plyed more innings despite having the same career span.

    Sadly, Viv played for 2 more years in which, barring the final series, he failed totally. Still, why should his failure at age 37 & 38 affect his overall greatness?

    I believe Lara is the best individual batsman bar Bradman but not the best "team" batsman since his team-mates & his cricket board did not flourish around him the way they did with Viv, SRT, Sobers, etc: e.g., BCCI rode SRT to glory & he became a role model for Ind players 1990 onwards. WI cricket board & system should take the blame but some portion should go to Lara as well. [[ The West Indies board seems to specialize in getting their best batsman out of their teams. They made sure Lara announced his retirement in a huff during 2007 and now they have lost Gayle for many matches. Although the situation and circumstances are quite different. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on June 25, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    the doosra revision?

    The rules were changed to 15 d. as a figure at which chucking becomes visible to the naked eye.

    If Murali was chucking the doosra and not the off break (or to put it more accurately chucking it more, since everyone chucks under the old rule), and chucking is defined in terms of when the degree of straightening becomes noticeable - then why would anyone have difficulty reading the doosra?

    I rate Murali ahead of Warne on technical grounds. the ball turning in is harder to play then the one going away WHEN it is turning sharply (and with Murali, it was almost always going sharply), but have no problems with intelligent, non-hype based opinions that give Warne the edge (like the ones Ravi and Sarosh gave). Stats can give the edge either guy.

    I agree with Ananth though that the fallout from the chucking controversy counts against Murali in subjective assessments. Like a guy found not guilty of murder - innocent or not, some stench sticks - that's just how it is.

  • Waspsting on June 25, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Sarosh, Ravi M. - your points in Warne>Murali are all valid. My main point is that the matter isn't even nearly as clear cut as its made out to be.

    I disagree with excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwae routinely from analysis. There are weak teams and strong teams in every era - everyone but Eng and Aus have been in Zim & Bang's place. We don't discount Ind from Weekes record, Pak from Compton's or SL from Miandad's.

    Why the big deal about Zim and Bang and Murali?

    I dispute this "changing rules for Murali" think completely.

    The tests coming out of the Murali affair revealed that almost everyone chucks. A steel bar put through the bowling motion even jerks.

    Murali's arm is more bent than anyone else, that's all - but it doesn't matter if his arm is bent 178 degrees, as long as it doesn't straighten.

    According to those tests, it straightens as much/little as anybody elses, so how were the rules just changed for him?

    (continued)

  • Waspsting on June 25, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    Boycott gets criticized for scoring slowly against his teams interests (in a given match situation). Richards didn't get criticized for the times he got out playing aggreesively when his his team needed him to play steady.

    I see no difference in the two situations.

    Other factors favoring Viv's rep. When he scored, we noticed and applauded because it was great viewing. When he didn't, we didn't notice because we were applauding the fast bowlers performances or Greenidge/Lloyd/Haynes etc. feats. Unlike say, Lara, whose every failure was duly noted because WI would lose.

    @Alex - good points in favor of Viv. Note though that he scored as poorly in Packer's 2nd season as he did well in 1st season.

    (By contrast, Greg Chappell played splendidly throughout - and he was facing considerably more hostile bowling.)

    Looks like the rest of his career to me - 8 years averaging over 50, 8 years averaging below 40. Same with Chappell, actually 10 and 1.

  • Waspsting on June 25, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    "Viv is often considered to be primus inter pares is that he scored phenomenally quickly" - ad captandum

    I agree with this completely.

    Viv was THE "Master Batsman" (in terms of ability) in that he could attack good balls. These are low-percentage shots - and no one could go after them the way Viv did and manage a 50 average.

    You can see this in nets at any level of the game. There's a guy who can play shots that otheres can't (meaning much more consistently).

    In test cricket, I don't think this factor counts for much because there is NO COMPULSION to play the shot. We admire the ability to play such shots - but i don't think its any substitute for runs on the board.

    With Viv, he put enough as many runs on the board as anyone, plus had that extra shot making gear. That's a plus for him.

    Not a big one though. Viv let his aggressive instincts get the better of him fairly often - to his team's detriment.

    (continued)

  • Nitin Gautam on June 25, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    contd..

    better than 04-06 phase but certainly not to the potential

    here is the nitro boost thereafter

    from jan 09-Dec 10. 20 mat, 2100 runs, 75 avg 9 100s & this does not include his best of the lot 146 no as it was in 2011. with runs all over n actually quiet similar (although ponting's peak are tooo high to match) to ponting's stats post 2005 ashes debacle u mentioned. SRT made runs everywhere, with gud average in all 4 innings & lifted his game to a very high standards & revive his legacy in India which has started looking for life after tendulkar in 04-06 phase with terms like "endulkar" doing the rounds.

    Certainly Ponting had to face form slump & ashes loss to regain his Midas touch but SRT faced injuries that almost finished his career yet came out on top.

    sadly much like ponting (post 2007 till now), SRT went into form slump after (not as bad as ponting) that memorable 146 & 100th 100 hype degraded many things.but a stunning comeback from that dreadfull phase 04-06

  • Nitin Gautam on June 25, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    @Ravi Certainly. No one can deny ponting his due when it comes to mind boggling batsmanship he displayed during that phase. Closes anyone came to the ultimate batsman of all time (who else it can be but bradman) However as far as stunning comebacks, here is a serious challenger to that claim SRT during that frightfull, career threatening, injury prone phase 04-06 24 mathes 1626 runs 52 avg..infact 3 innings produced 643 runs & all were NO. hence giving avg a solid boost however 248* was ordinatry & 194 was not as gud infact it was a crawling effort form the master. over all that was the worst phase he was into here is the comeback during jan 07- dec 08, 22 mat, 1839 runs 51 avg. well on road to recovery & no easy runs, blemish in this phase his record against SA & SL..total 5 mat, 173 runs & 20 something avg..

    Contd...

  • Ravi M on June 25, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    [....]

    If Australia didn't lose the Ashes 2005 and Punter scored like that, I'd have just called him a very good batsman; but, the whole context is totally different in his case.

    To put things in perspective:

    Next best aggregate was almost 500 less than Ponting in that period! Only two other Australians managed to score over 700 in that period!

    As for bowling, only two bowlers even took more than 40 wickets in that 15-month period. In the same period, Shane Warne averaged 28+, McGrath averaged 26+, Lee 31+!

    Not a single one of them had a 10-wicket haul for the match!

    So much for a great side indeed! :P

    Lot of Australians, including myself, often overlooked the importance of Ponting because we had McWarne, Gilchrist & all the others. I personally consider McGrath the most important cricketer of post-90 Australia and Gilchrist the catalyst for domination. However, when all those "failed", Ponting still had an answer or two in that period following Ashes 2005. [[ If any of you remember my article on streaks couple of years back, I have referred to Ponting's streak. Here is an extract from that Nov 2010 article. "" Ricky Ponting, in a 52-test span between Test # 1595 (Saf vs Aus 15/03/2002) and Test # 1819 (Aus vs Eng 1/12/2006) accumulated 5853 runs at an average of 74.09 (90-11-5853-74.09-23 hundreds). His average improved from 45.09 to 59.97. "" Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi M on June 25, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    When it comes to individual batsmanship, there's no way I'm going to place Ponting ahead of Lara or SRT. But, if I could only choose 1 of 3 to bat FOR MY TEAM, I'd pick Ponting.

    Ponting's response with the bat to the Ashes 2005 loss was, IMO, the greatest comeback season ever!

    From the last day of 2005 Ashes series loss until regaining in 2006, Ponting came up with this:

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/7133.html?class=1;spanmax1=24+Dec+2006;spanmin1=01+OCt+2005;spanval1=span;template=results;type=batting

    Over 2000 runs in 15 Tests at an average of 84 with 10 centuries & 8 50s! Eight of those 100s came in a 16-inning stretch!

    It's one thing to have a purple patch as a batsman but it's whole lot another to have such one, AS CAPTAIN, when everyone's blamed you for arguably Australia's most significant series loss since 1981!

    [....]

  • Sarosh on June 25, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    Gerry_the_merry At least Alex uses predominantly one method. Your comments have one continuous thread - You will use any method and opportunity to run down Tendulkar !!

  • Sarosh on June 25, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    Waspsting, I am with Ravi.M too - in the Warne camp. As Ravi M mentions the “away” figures absolutely must be noted. In fact after his first series in SL, Warne took 34 wickets in 11 inns. In SL. Both vs. SL and Pak in SL (all subcontinental batsmen) at 18.7. So, if SL were “home” for Warne it’s a good bet his figures would be much better. Also, I don’t buy the SL bias part .One may say the rule book was changed for one man. His action was different – so the umpires calling him cannot be dismissed as purely bias. You simply have to take into account Murali’s “away” record, record vs. lefties etc ….As compared to Warne’s. In fact the bias extends the other way too. One may say the “subcontinental” types prefer Murali because he is from SL.

    Ravi M I wouldn’t buy too much into the Ponting streak too much. Too small a sample size. Similar to some hot series players have once in a while. Would they do as well for longer periods? For eg. Lara has great streaks against Mcgrath. So does Tendulkar from 26 th Jan 1999 to 18th Mar 2001 (Both “Away” and at “Home”) bookended by two Hundreds, and inc. 3 50s over 9 inn. where Mcgrath did get him thrice. Two of which were disputed LBWs (one of which “SBW” for a Duck). In ’98, a great year for Tendulkar he played just 5 Tests. What might have happened? Over a longer period between most great batsmen and bowlers things would even out. This adaptation goes both ways in batsmen vs. bowler battles. But it has to be over a period of time and matches. A streak here or there can go either way in such contests.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 25, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    Folks, at some point we have to move away from the habit of bringing One days into test comparison (Alex's favourite way of promoting Tendulkar or running down Gavaskar), or looking at first class averages (Waspsting mentions poor record of Viv against Barbados / Jamaica, but around 1980, when Dexter wrote his book "from Bradman to Boycott", Viv's Test and FC averages were 59 and 48, surely he did not fail against only Barbados and Jamaica).

    "He made it fashionable to hook off the front foot, flick wide balls off the front-foot." Not sure too many adopted this fashion...a bit tough, except against bowlers like Wlegedara.

    About comment on Viv's consistency by Waspsting, indeed he may have only done 45 ex-best year, but if you see his post 1980 record, his average was ordinary except 1986 when he briefly shone inspired by captaincy. I would read it this way - post 1980, the marginal utility of his runs was much lower than earlier, since WI was a super-strong team.

  • Aditya Nath Jha on June 24, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    you slice n dice any which you want and you get back to what you always knew - the don was the greatest, and after him, you have a set of 10 (maybe15) batsmen - from hobbes to sangakara. Each one of us hve their own pick of that top 10 (and each one of us have our own ordering of that top 10). The Don was a freak - no doubt about that; what's interesting is the shrikantk's point about batting - that it's impossible to average beyond a certain number over a sustained period because getting out is a "given". (i am simplifying - shrikantk) I told my son that the difference between a boundary and a "out" was 2 inches. The margin for error as a batsman is too small.

  • Alex on June 24, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    @Wapsting:

    1. 1976 can be used to argue for Viv's supremacy even more by claiming that he would have had a better record had he played tests 1977-79 (he played a series in '77 and was then out for the Packer series where he did quite well). After he came back, his approach had changed since WI was very strong and ODIs were a big thing. So, for good or for bad, he went after dominating 50's rather than big scores.

    2. Try removing the best series from a batsman's record. SMG's average drops from 51.1 to 48.4, Waugh's drops from 50 to 47, etc. (Viv's drops from 50 to 47.3). If you remove the 3 best innings, Lara's average drops from 52.9 to 48.4. Basically, everybody has a weakness and it is possible to focus on a factor for any player and show a dramatic drop in the player's stats after removing that factor. 1976 happens to be a very obvious factor in Viv's case. [[ Year, series, a few top innings, the best home series: one can take away these and no batsman can sustain that drop. If you take away Bradman's best series he drops to 95.58. If you take away his best average-based series, he drops to 93.78. and so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on June 24, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    @Ravi Ponting is certainly 3rd best batsman of this era..SRT & BCL claerly ahead. Ponting by virtue of his record, came close due to his superhuman bradmansque efforts of 03-06 else better not to say. SRT & BCL didnt played much 1st class local cricket in their respective countries & not to mention these players faced most mediocre bowlers (by their standards) & thts why we never see their records in 1st class against a bolwer of glen's quality..does that make them any lesser..not at all..facing quality bowlers in local matches gives practice..which these 2 players never had still performed everywhere against everyone..thts why class apart..even ViV had that luxury to practice but returned with ordianary fig...

  • Ravi M on June 24, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    While we are on the subject of batsmen from strong teams performing against the best bowlers in domestic cricket, Ponting's record against McGrath (NSW) is very very noteworthy.

    Ponting v McGrath:

    4 matches, 8 innings, 729 runs, FOUR 100s & 2 50s - got out just once to Glenn(thanks to robelinda in youtube, you may see frustrated McGrath after some sweet sound of the willow with crunching strokeplay). Tendulkar can't even fantasise about that kind of record when McGrath runs in! :P

    Guess what! It can't be complete with two things when it comes to Ponting. There was a twin-100 (v McGrath, S Clark & MacGill) and wait for it .... oh yeah and a 4th innings 100!

    125 & 69 58 & 134 (Hobart) 20 & 43 126 (runout) & 154

    2 of the 3 SCG matches were in October - as green as it gets.

    PS: Only 2 matches against Warne (Victoria), averaged only 57!

  • Ravi M on June 24, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    @Waspsting

    I'm aware of Viv's ordinary record against Barbados. Too few matches involved the WI test bowlers in the attack after mid 70s. Nonetheless, very ordinary record.

    If run-scoring was indeed the only criterion, why are we even talking about Chappell, Gavaskar, Viv etc. Barrington's greater Test batsman than every one of them? Sutcliffe's greater than Hammond, Hutton & Hobbs?

    As for Wisden selecting the cricketers of the century, they clearly outlined that they took impact on the game, crowd and legacy etc. into account to a considerable margin!

  • Ravi M on June 24, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    I consider Saqlain better than Murali and Warne in ODIs; so I'm just gonna ignore that.

    All stats leave out BD & Zim.

    As for Tests: Murali: 624 wkts @ 24.9 & SR of 58.6 Warne: 691 wkts @ 25.4 & SR of 57.6

    Outside home: Murali: 254 wkts @ 28.8 & SR of 62.6 Warne: 372 wkts @ 24.6 & SR of 54.9

    Fielding first (which means bowl on day 1 & not getting a chance in the 4th innings): Murali: 301 wkts @ 28.2 & SR of 63.5 Warne: 327 wkts @ 24.5 & SR of 55.4

    Now, add the captaincy element, useful batting, slip catching & above all that FLAMBOYANCE; who in their right mind would choose Murali over Warne?! [[ Not a bad idea to stop at this point. After all this is a batting related article. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on June 24, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    @wapsting

    Very gud & extremely impressive arguments. The fall of avg by about 10% by removing 1 stupendous year out of 15+ years of a career means something & that in plain cold word would be inconsistency (although it takes nothing from the great man & he remain the most intimidating batsman ever) Regarding ICC ratings, what one can say, SRT is ranked as 25 something player of all time, that is as inexplicable as anything. I really dont think Richards can lay claim to be the best batsman after Bradman bcos I am not sure if he is best in WI even. Lara, sobers contest for the top spot comprehensively & in my opinion Lara takes the pole position

  • Alex on June 24, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    @Wapsting & Ananth: I think Lara is greater than Viv but to understand why many consider Viv better than SMG, Chappell, etc., note that stats don't reveal everything and then note the following:

    1. Record vs strong attacks (see Ananth's earlier articles).

    2. 50+ scores in 38% innings ... the figure is 35% for SMG, Chappell, Lara, etc. After age 29, Viv's conversion rate into 100's dropped alarmingly and that is the only blot on his career.

    3. If we include ODIs (as we should while nominating the Wisden list) then the gap between Viv and the next best of his era is arguably greater than the gap between the top 2 of any era since his time. And before him, only Don, Sobers, & Hobbs approached/bettered yjat in international cricket. So, Viv merits a serious consideration for Wisden 5.

    4. Warne got in probably because a genuine bowler had to be recognized in Wisden 5. I think a better choice would have been Marshall/Lillee/Imran.

  • Waspsting on June 24, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    here are some stats for the greats of Viv's era.

    First figure is career average. Second figure is career average sans the figures of the calender year in which they scored the most runs. The third figure is percentage change between 1 and 2

    Gavaskar 51.12 50.67 0.88% G. Chappell 53.86 53.07 1.47% Border 50.56 49.39 2.31% Miandad 52.27 50.06 3.18% V. Richards 50.23 45.23 9.95%

    next table has three figures - # of calender years played, # of years average over 50 and # of years average under 40

    G. Chappell 14 10 1 Miandad 18 9 6 Border 17 7 5 Gavaskar 17 7 6 V. Richards 18 8 8

    Draw your own conclusions.

  • ad captandum on June 24, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Waspsting?

    One reason why Viv is often considered to be primus inter pares is that he scored phenomenally quickly. While I apologize for not having the exact number at hand, I distinctly remember reading that he scored at a SR of around 70 in tests (perhaps Ananth can help out here). So, ceteris paribus, and even 'normalizing' for facing relatively weak bowling, perhaps his speed of scoring underpins his legend.

  • ad captandum on June 24, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    One problem with the Wisden 5 is the weighting of the number of respondents/voters from each country by the number of tests the country had played. Obviously players who flourished in matches involving england and australia were going to be ranked high, perhaps quite a bit higher than they should have been.

  • Waspsting on June 24, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    @Ravi M - Viv's record against Barbados and Jamaica - the strongest fast bowling teams in West Indies at the time - is decidedly ordinary. I'll post the stats if your interested.

    ----------------- Points against Viv Richards (and as before, these are VERY fine distinctions in critiquing an undoubtedly great player)

    - consistency (take away one year from his career, and his average falls to 45. IOW, minus 1/15 of his career, his record falls from great to good) [[ That would apply to all players. Each player would have had a stupendous year (or two). Ananth: ]] - all things being equal (i.e. time period), the only significant difference between Viv and Gavaskar, Chappell etc. is those guys played WI while Viv didn't.

    Since WI far and away the best bowling unit, shouldn't it follow logically that Viv (if he's better than them at scoring runs - the MOST IMPORTANT thing for any batsman) scored more?

    He doesn't. They're all in the same ball park on averages, though Viv was undoubtedly playing weaker bowling overall.

    If he's better than those guys - why?

  • Waspsting on June 24, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    they talk about "changing the game". Reverse swing has changed the game as much as anything.

    Where is Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz on such lists? (Imran is 10th - behind Denis Compton. Sarfraz is nowhere - while guys like Tate, Freeman and Bruce Mitchell are all on the list)

    My point is - SUCH LISTS ARE UNRELIABLE due to this bias.

    If Viv Richards and Lillee had been Pakistanis and Indians, if Warne had been Sri Lankan, if Barry Richards had been New Zealander, I doubt very seriously they'd be ranked as they are.

    I would like to divorce press bias' and hype from discussions of greatness

    What do you guys think? ---------------------

    Shri - thanks for the compliment. Viv didn't revolutionize batting technique at all.

    he was a unique player who hit across the line and came forward to fast bowlers. Nobody imitated him because nobody could.

    He scored plenty of runs because he was a great player, but no more than Gavaskar, Chappell, Miandad or Border

  • Waspsting on June 24, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Why is Shane Warne rated ahead of Murali on Wisden's list by such a long margin? (Murali has a better average, strike rate and economy rate in 1st class, test, ODI and 20-20 cricket - count them 12 sets of stats across every level and every format of the game) [[ I am with you all the way. Why is Murali not rated ahead of Warne. I am sure the shadow of action and the related unpleasantness has something to with it. As also the fact that he comes from Sri Lanka. Ananth: ]] He's Austrlian. his first ball in Ashes cricket was a beauty. if Warne were from SL and Murali was from Aus, I reckon the subjective rating would be reversed - because one guy gets more media hype.

    Again, says very little about quality of two players relative to each other - just who got a louder shout.

    You think if an Englishman or Indian today (Indian media has only recently gained a strong voice) had Mohammed Yousuf's record breaking year you would ever hear the end of it?

    My conclusion - these subjective ratings carry a HEAVY ELEMENT of bias, based on where they're from, which section of the media latches onto them etc.

    This is divorced from the players actual ability, as shown on the field and in the record books (cont)

  • Waspsting on June 24, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    (this is going to be long)

    "...certain intangible contributions that results in their larger than life image."

    "...the highest ranked batsman since Bradman (based on Wisden voting) and the best fast bowler of all-time (based on the same"

    Shri, Boll - you've hit the nail on the head there as to why certain players are CONSIDERED greater than others. Now i'm going to question that whole system. tell me what you think

    Stuff like this seems to me to measure more which sections of the world media are powerful, rather than which cricketers.

    Why is it Barry Richards is included in a list of 25 Legends of cricket? Great player - maybe. Wonderful to look at - sure... but 25 Legends of Cricket? Really??? Why's Vijay Merchent nowhere to be found on such lists?

    British press > Indian press (at the relative times). that's all. The rankings say nothing about the relative merits of the players just how loud the voice of the guys who did see them were. [[ In the Wisden-5, I will accept with no reservations only three: Bradman, Hobbs and Sobers. I am sure there were equal or better players than Richards and Warne. Ananth: ]] (continued)

  • Dinesh on June 24, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Ananth, After going through the sheet i found something.Sangakkara who i feel is the one of the best in the business at this point.But i found something which might prove to be a blot on Sanga's resume. His performances in England and South Africa, the two countries ball swings the most,there he underperformed(used this word as Sanga has set some really high standards). Average of 30 in 18 innings in England and 35.75 in 16 in South Africa don't do justice to the Sanga we know.I think 16 and 18 are good enough numbers as they are spread over 3tours.Even in India he dint do well as 36.5 in 10 over 2tours doesn't sound well. That's 3 out of the 6major countries where he hasn't really performed well.

    Would really like to see him score a lot of runs in these 3countries(At the cost of my own Indian Team )because with due respect to Jayawardene i feel Samga is the Best Lankan batsman of all time given Jayawardene's records in all countries outside Asia with Sub 35 Average except West Indies [[ Lot of Sanga/Jaya's big scores and averages are against Zim/Bang. That waters down their average a little. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on June 24, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    @Ravi M: Thanks for the Roberts URL.

    1. Re your PS, Roberts talked about his opponents only.

    2. Viv is like SRT in that the peaks are not spectacular (in tests) but they were "good" vs everyone home/away, year in & year out. That can't be said about Lara/Ponting/Kallis/Dravid even though their peaks (and even some of the overall stats) are much better.

    @shrikanthk: The front-foot play of Viv was not a step ahead in tests (it was so for ODI's) since not many followed his footsteps --- to work, it needed Viv's eyesight & reflexes. Also, he was not the only one to hit leg side shots to outside-off deliveries: Barry Richards did that regularly. Lillee is a different case: express speed with a very new but textbook-style bowling action. He was the first great modern fast bowler and virtually every great bowler of the 1974-90 era learnt something from him. He & Roberts truly pioneered a new chapter in fast bowling. Nothing of that sort has happened in test batting since WW2.

  • Ravi M on June 24, 2012, 2:22 GMT

    One of the subjective responses to Viv Richards never having faced those great West Indian bowlers.

    A short interview with Andy Roberts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNArOkBTmPU [[ Excellent informative video. Ananth: ]] Holding, Marshall, Garner etc all shared the same views. Holding often mentioned that the fast bowling cartel bowled even faster in the nets against Richards because they wanted the "top dog" tag for themselves. And, Holding was honest to admit they still came out 2nd best.

    Very nice to hear some acknowledgements of Vishy and Ian Chappell.

    PS: Wonder what made Roberts to pick DK Lillee ahead of his team-mates! ;)

  • Ravi M on June 24, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    @knowhow,

    Not just in SL, Ponting didn't score a 100 in the entire year of 2004 - his first year with Test captaincy. Pretty strange year given that he scored nearly 2600 runs at 85+ in previous 2 years and 2800 at 75+ in the next 2 years! Especially 2003 - with 1500+ runs at 100+. [[ These figures show how a great career can somehow be made to look low in value because of the earlier stretch of 14 innings in India at 13. Ananth: ]] While we are on the calender year part, in the annals of cricket only 3 times a player has scored over 1000 runs for the calender year at an average of over 100. Bradman (1948) and Sobers (1958) were other instances.

  • Chetan asher on June 23, 2012, 18:10 GMT

    I think there is an error in the Average Bowling Quality computation. Else, how can you explain Richards facing a higher Average Bowling Quality than Miandad / Gavaskar / any other batsman of his era ? All other batsmen of Richards' Era played against Marshall, Garner, Holding, Roberts..... Richards never faced any of them. [[ Unfortunately blinkered vision. Richards might not have faced these greats, but he faced Lillee, Alderman, Thomson, Walker, Kapil Dev, Botham (in the early years, a devastating bowler), Willis, Hadlee, Wasim Akram, Qadir, Younis and others. If your logic is true, Australians did not face Lillee, Alderman, Thomson, Walker; English did not face Botham, Willis: Indians did not face Kapil: Pakistanis did not face Wasim, Waqar and Qadir. The truth is that the 1970s-80s was a great bowling era all-round. And there were no weak bowling attacks. Ananth: ]]

  • knowho on June 23, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    For me 136 of SRT at Che PAK CHennai my athometown was better than BCL 153 but it is not remembered as much becoz it did not win the match. Infact that was a marquee series probably that gave PAK the confidence to do well in the WC 1999. If they had played well they could have probably won becoz of a attacking attack they had at that time. BCL aggressive nature was also his downfall in many instances. Especially in SA when AD was playinion.g he performed not upto expectation atleast thought he would score a la 169 of SRT. Lara post 2003 was simply superb more consistent becoz he was injury free.

  • knowwho on June 23, 2012, 16:39 GMT

    there was also difference in the way they played certain bowlers. After his injuries post 98 SRT started to play bit slowly. I vividly remember 99/00 adelaide testmatch where he could have dominated Mcgrath on a featherbed wicket. Instead he choose to give him maidens after maiden, which in a way helped Macgrath to gain the mental edge over him, where as BCL would take him on. It did not mean that SRT was not a great but just the mental make up of the two guys at certain instances were diametrically opposite. Another case was in capetown(i thk2006/07) when dravid and SRT were batting had they been agreesive they could have won the match but they did not. Reason again miadens to SHuan pollock and Co. It wasnt so in case of BCL take the 99/00 series against AUS. BCl did not do well in the first test. Look at the way he played Mcgrathin 2nd test. Infact for me 213 was better than 153 he got in the next test.

  • Knowwho on June 23, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    @ravi Hi,

    Yea probably he would have scored in the first and third test of 2004 (think it was in bangalore and nagpur). Anyway did he a actually score well in SL a year. before( which was dominated by hayden,gilly and martyn) if i am right. Think the series that made RTP a real great was 6 test (home/away) against SA. He murdered a pretty good attack.

    @boll completely agree with you the comparison between SRT and Lara. However I think as never seen anyone who could bat as good as BCL when in mood. He was notch even above SRT when he was at his best. 202 in SA,213/153* in WI could capture anyones mind. One important differnce between the two is BCL cannot be controlled you would have actually get him out early when he is in mood he can place the ball anywhere in thepark. in SRT case he would just hit through the line (may be becoz being technically a sound batsmen than lara was).

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    @Waspsting, cont`d...(ignoring the unnecessary use of capitals) re. `DO YOU HAVE ANY BASIS FOR ANY OF THIS, OTHER THAN YOU SAY SO???` Yes, I would contend that an extended rivalry between the highest ranked batsman since Bradman (based on Wisden voting) and the best fast bowler of all-time (based on the same) is a reasonable foundation on which to make that claim.

    re."Y averaged 55, Z averaged 45", you come back with something like, "But I like Z more than Y, so he's better" - if you are able to provide an example of a comment of mine that remotely resembles this, please post it - similarly, your `amazingly flimsy arguments` jibe.

    Yes, I have opinions, and I think I can usually support them with evidence. If not, I`m always happy to rethink. Whatever... but it`s probably wise to remember that in a debating competition ad hominem attacks are likely to result in automatic disqualification... mate!

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    @Waspsting. Not quite sure what I`ve said to create such a disturbance in the force...nominative determinism perhaps?

    I don`t think I`m the only person on this site (as opposed to a debating forum) to express an opinion, and nor do I mind people disagreeing with me. In fact, despite your claim that my opinions are set in stone, there have been many occasions when my perceptions of particular players have changed based on the comments of fellow posters or the statistics Ananth has made available (please see my recent post on this thread re.Greenidge-Gooch).

    I also think I`m fairly up-front about my personal biases - based on my Australian heritage, players who`ve captured my imagination, childhood heroes, players I`ve watched more often, or players who`ve excelled against Australia - whatever. Again, these are things I`ve mentioned on numerous occasions on this very thread.

  • Ravi M on June 23, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    There's no doubt that Ponting was far better on fast tracks and against fast bowlers. Lot of people tend to forget that Ponting really hit his strides with consistency when he was moved to #3 permanently (during the Ashes 2001). 4th Test at Headingley was the beginning of such a golden run for the rest of the decade.

    It was unfortunate that in his absolute prime** (starting from Leeds 2001 to end of 2006 - 64 Tests, 6771 runs, avg of 72+), Ponting never played a full series in India. In fact, he played just 1 match - that deadrubber in Mumbai 2004. [[ Yes it seems that Ponting toured India on either side of his golden years. Ananth: ]] ** It kind of reminds me of Federer (in his absolute prime) not having played Nadal in hardcourt Grand Slam events. In fact, they NEVER played against one another after Wimbledon and before tour finals.

    If we can't realise the unfortunate records in both their cases at present, I don't think future generations would have the slightest clue.

  • Nitin Gautam on June 23, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    @Boll That`s being extremely picky when he does have the small matter of 300? wickets and 150? catches to put on the table as well. [[ I agree that the wickets and catches should not come in any batting discussions. Then we have to get in captaincy, wicket-keeping etc. Kallis has enough back-up numbers to stand comparison with the best in the world. Ananth: ]] where is the ques of putting his wickets & catches while analysing why he not considered equal to SRT & BCL

    I guess the ques that was raised was why Kallis's name is not taken in same breath as that of SRT, BCl or ponting as the modern champion BATSMEN to which knowho summed up very well.

    As the MVP of last 15 years or so Kallis would be the 1st one to be listed but not as the batsman alone & that was the ques. As a batsman he certainly lack so called "marquee" innings or series against the best of the attacks as very rightly pointed put by knwoho. I Dont think putting his wickets(300) & catches (150) in the mix reasons with his non inclusion in the elite list if SRT & BCL for its only his batting that si compared against these 2 incomparable modern day stalwarts

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    @Knowho (ooh, just noticed Waspsting`s comments...) I`m glad you mentioned Kallis` innings (series) against India, which was a big turning point for me with regards my thoughts on his batsmanship. It was obviously a huge series (even for Australian fans) and exceeded all expectations - particularly after the 1st test demolition, which many people (myself included) thought had set the scene for a one-sided 3-0 drubbing.

    The Indian riposte was as remarkable as it was unexpected - Zak at the forefront, Ishant and Sreesanth providing venemous support and Bhaji bowling with the zing of old. Without Kallis` monumental contributions India would clearly have won a famous victory 2-1. Kallis was simply magnificent, and finally put the `innings for the ages` flag(s) in the sand. Double ton was good, 3rd test, 1st innings excellent, and the 2nd innings ton was a series-saving, career-defining performance. In terms of skill, courage, and temperament it was as good as any innings I`ve ever seen.

  • shrikanthk on June 23, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    Richards was also a trailblazer just as Lillee was one.

    It's pointless to argue whether or not he is the best WI batsman ever. I'd personally rate Sobers ahead of him and Lara on par with him.

    But Richards was a pioneer in a way the others weren't. It's not the rate at which he scored his runs. It was the way he revolutionised batting technique in the 70s. Batting in the 70s was predominantly a backfoot game. Most people were backfoot players. This holds even for most great batsmen prior to 70s. Be it Hobbs, Bradman, Sobers, McCabe. Ever since Ranji wrote that famous maxim, "Play Back or Drive" had been practiced around the cricketing world.

    Richards changed this for better or worse. He was in some respects the first "modern" front-foot batsman who resembles today's players a lot more than the classical back-foot players b/w 20s-70s. He made it fashionable to hook off the front foot, flick wide balls off the front-foot. Strokes which you generally don't see among pre-70s batsmen.

  • shrikanthk on June 23, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    DO YOU HAVE ANY BASIS FOR ANY OF THIS, OTHER THAN YOU SAY SO???

    Wasp: Always been an admirer of your comments. However in Boll's defence it may be said that Lillee and Richards did make certain intangible contributions that results in their larger than life image.

    Lillee for one was the first great fast bowler of the 70s. He emerged in 1971 at a time when fast bowling was dying a bit around the world. England had Snow. Hall and Griffith had retired and Windies bowling was rather ordinary. India was showing the world it's possible to compete with only spinners. So Lillee was, in some respects, the first great modern fast bowler, inspiring others in his wake.

    Cricket changed in the early 70s. And it has remained a fast-bowling dominated game till date. Gone are the days of yore and spin. The days when test teams used to field 1 fast bowler, 1 medium pacer and 2 spinners (as in the 30s for instance).

    Lillee was in some respects the catalyst of this culture shift.

  • Sarosh on June 23, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    Ananth, I cannot believe I seem to be coming across so garbled. So let me explain . You state "You could say he is the only visiting batsman to have mastered Sri Lanka in their home territory and Murali at his best." I have pointed out that this is simply untrue. [[ Absolutely fine. I agree. I should add Fleming to that list of one. On balance Fleming deserves to be treated at par with Lara because of the two separate visits. But, Sarosh, while on the subject we cannot forget Inzamam who averages 81. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    @Knowho. Yeah, for mine, Lara and Tendulkar are 1/2 (flip a coin) over the last 20 years, Lara`s highs perhaps slightly higher(?), SRT`s consistency slightly better (?) whatever, 2 for the ages. Ponting a touch behind them. S.Waugh, Dravid, Kallis, Sehwag, Sanga a touch behind him, and numerous other luminaries (Inzy, Gilly, Chanderpaul, Mahela, VVS et al) bringing up a rather illustrious rear. Sure I`ve missed out someone...

    Of course there are others still in the middle of their careers (KP, de Villiers, Cook) who will probably end their careers ranked up there as well. [[ KP, that is a strange guy. I think he is not going to last the distance with the equation he has with the ECB and the pull of IPL and such. de Villiers and Cook, yes, both are candidates for 40+ centuries and 12000+ runs. Ananth: ]] I would agree with your perception of Kallis (perhaps mirroring the South African team`s performances) that he hasn`t quite imposed himself enough when it really mattered, or driven home the advantage in the way SRT, BCL or RTP have. That`s being extremely picky when he does have the small matter of 300? wickets and 150? catches to put on the table as well.

  • Ravi M on June 23, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    [[ Ravi M Much as I like your points, i have to take these off since I have to be consistent. Please post the same in the Bowler article. If you have not saved the material, Ican always return your mail. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on June 23, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Without the in-built reality check of stats, we might as well go the main board and raise up a stink as to why Sachin Tendulkar hasn't been mentioned in an article about W.G. Grace and Frederick Spofforth.

  • Waspsting on June 23, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    maybe we should define "overrated".

    If your thought to be better than you are, your overrated.

    It doesn't matter how good/bad you are, it matters how good you are RELATIVE TO HOW GOOD PEOPLE IN GENERAL THINK YOU ARE.

    I think Tendulkar is the best batsman i've seen. I also think he's overrated. I think Wasim Akram is a great bowler, and I think he's overrated.

    Now lets look at Lillee and Richards in that light, shall we?

    Why is Richards considered to be better than, say, Greg Chappell, Border, Miandad, Gavaskar?

    Why is Lillee considered to be better than say, Roberts, Holding, Garner?

    Answers along the lines of - glamour, charisma, appeal, the game comes alive when they're on etc. - is at best COMPLETELY subjective.

    That's fine too, but it renders all discussion POINTLESS.

    I like this board because as a Stats blog, it keeps our imaginations in check - and allows for discussion with that reality check firmly in place.

  • Ravi M on June 23, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Did somebody mention KING IVA & that flat track bully who opens for India in the same line?

    Out of 121 Tests IVA played, WI won 63 (52.1% wins & 3.32 W-L ratio). During IVA's career, he missed 18 Tests for WI. Guess what? The "mighty" West Indies won only 2 out of those 18 Tests (11.1% wins & 0.40 W-L ratio)! 1 of those 2 victories came against WSC-depleted Australia's 2nd XI! Funny co-incidence there. M Marshall took 9 wickets in 6 Tests (1.5 wkt/m) at an avg of 47.9 in Viv's absence during Viv's career. When Viv played, 367 wkts in 75 Tests (4.9 w/m) at 20.3!

    IVA's contribution was beyond mere numbers. His sense of occasion was superlative. There were very few players who belonged in that category. Gilchrist & Neil Harvey come to mind straight away.

  • Waspsting on June 23, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    it says, "a "stats blog". [[ I do not agree with you. This is not a Stats Blog where personal opinions are not valid or not accepted. Maybe when Rajesh posts a statistical piece, people do not post personal comments since they do not have the personal equation with him. Not here. This is a place where people can be personal as long as they obey the "three commandments". Ananth: ]] In the stats analysis conducted, Richards figures nowhere. [[ Why do you say this. Richards, surprisingly is the model of consistency, unlike many other so called consistent batsmen. Career: 50.24 Home: 49.78 Away: 50.50 First: 50.80 Second: 48.92 All against a much better bowling attack than today's batsmen (32.66). The 31.79/ABQ adjusted Batting average is 48.89. He is ahead of Ponting/Dravid. Against no country has had a sub-40 average. So where has he failed. Ananth: ]] Boll give us "he was the Ali of modern cricket, and left a legacy which goes far BEYOND RUNS AND AVERAGES. Richards vs Lillee was probably the great world-title bout of the last 40 years...the original and best (master blaster)"

    DO YOU HAVE ANY BASIS FOR ANY OF THIS, OTHER THAN YOU SAY SO??? [[ I think Boll has as much right to make this statement as you have to make, say, "No, the greater contest was between Gavaskar and Holding" or whatever. Ananth: ]] Let me make this crystal clear - I can't change your opinion, nor do i want to, however... ...this isn't the first time you've made airy-fairy arguments. X says, "Y averaged 55, Z averaged 45", you come back with something like, "But I like Z more than Y, so he's better" [[ Why cannot he say that. How many people in this blog have said "Tendulkar has averaged 55+, Lara 52, but I like Lara more, so he is better, in my opinion". Since when did numbers mean everything. Ananth: ]] For the record, as i said before, Viv Richards was a GREAT BATSMAN, that isn't the point. The point is, Boll, your arguments are so amazingly flimsy... you answer solid points with personal opinions... you would be laughed out of a debate hall if you argued like this in a competition. [[ Finally, WS, this is not a competition. It will never be. It is a place where a few cricket afficionados exchange views. Sarosh has as much right to say that "in his opinion, Fleming performed better in Sri Lanka than Lara". Boll has come out with numbers many a time. His defence of Ponting inj India was purely on numbers and was very valid. Ananth: ]]

  • Knowho on June 23, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    Contd... Or played only few innings. In australia he has played too little. May be in Eng/SA he has played more. When we set benchmark it is like comparing it with a career of an all time great. Bradman -21 years, Lara-16 Years (could have been more)sachin -22 and still playing. Now a days many more players are averaging in 50's or may be in mid 50's.Only way to judge them is abroad performance which shouldnt dip by say more than 30% in any of the country (say after 15-20 innings). This would give batsmen time to adapt and perform.

    Look at RTP his average gradually improved in india. This is what is expected from a great player(atleast in the last two tours of india). Kallis we should wait and see his performance in forthcoming ENG tour with the bat. If he performs then he is No 1. But if he doesnt it is due to lack of adjustability which is a hall mark of all time great.

  • KnowWHo on June 23, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    Contd....

    My take would be SRT and Lara for 90's. Lara,RTP,Dravid-00-07. 07-11 Sangakara,SRT. Kallis was a overall a better cricketer than all these players. However whenever it was a marquee series say esp in eng or in aus he never quite turned up(which would have tilted the balance of best batsmen towards him). Everytime such a marquee series comes it is usually graeme smith from SA who captures the limelight. look at his 154(thk it is edgbaston)/100in perth those are the sort of innings that captured attention. Say BCL 213/153 say a sachin 103/155/146. Unfortunately for kallis it was only against india (3rd innings that too) he made a brilliant century.Hmmm few people would rather say the indian bowling lacked killer instinct to finish it off. For sanga though he not performed well abroad as much has he should to be recognized as an alltime great. May be few more matches in SA/ENg/Aus/WI could tell us how good he is. At present he has either played very few matches.

  • Knowwho on June 23, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    Hi,

    I completely agree with @sarosh with regards to Tendulkar and Lara who were actually batsmen of 90's rather than 00's. It is just skill and supreme talent they had which enabed them to score runs (aplenty) even after 90's. When we have a look at the best batsmen it should be 4-5 years time period rather than a decade. Thats is the time when a particular player is at his peak.Who ever it may be ofcourse there could exceptions (like Bradman)who was supreme for twenty years.

    An all time great should be judged on how they coped with injuries,form and more specifically how they performed in alien conditions doesnt matter how much ever they scored at home(even if it is bowler friendly condition).

    In this regards only SRT and BCL are the two players who have been consistent across countries. Lara's record india and newzealand were not above 40 only because he did not play enough and moreover if he had played few more in SL his average would have most probably come down.

  • Sarosh on June 23, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Ananth, The point is that it was “Brian Lara” who scored those runs. Also, you seem to have got the stats wrong. Fleming had 2 series - in 1998 and 2003. He avg. 71 and 188 in the two. For a combined avg. of 105 (not 81). He also faced a Total of 1682 balls. 3 times they couldn’t get him out. Murali got him once in 5 matches. He got Lara twice in 3. So, that means Fleming was getting out mostly to other bowlers. (However, the average for the series for Fleming vs. Murali shows 10! and for Lara 126. How distorted is that? Perhaps that is why people using the wrong type of filter or wrong use of stats come to the wrong conclusions) Lara may have played the other bowlers better than Fleming. But Fleming can legitimately lay claim to have mastered Murali in his own backyard better than any batsman. The problem is that Fleming is not Lara. Also, the conventional batsman vs. bowler averages leads to such twisted results . Perhaps the combination of this is why this little bit of batting history seems to have slipped beneath the radar. [[ Srosh No point in continuing this. So I will give up. But to say that a batsman who scored 688 runs in 3 Tests, away, against a team spear-headed by Murali, did not master him but mastered the other bowlers just because he got out to him (after 100 or 200) is a peculiar argument. But I agree with you. Let it go. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Ha, yes getting a little impassioned there. Childhood heroes I suppose, although the only time I saw Richards bat live in a test match he was bowled by Alderman for a bloody duck - absolutely gutted and almost cried into my meat pie. [[ That would be 1981 Boxing day Test at MCG. But a great win for Australia. Those putting down Lillee should know he captured 10 for 130 in that Test. Ananth: ]] @Sarosh, I wasn`t aware of Fleming`s great record in SL, but was a great fan. One of those players who made it all look very easy, wonderful to watch, not quite sure why he didn`t score more runs.

  • Sarosh on June 23, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    Boll, Stephen Fleming's performances vs. Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka may be said to be better than Lara's. And he did it twice - a few years apart. So, it couldn't be said to be a hot streak. But as with Richards the flamboyant players always grab our attention. [[ Lara 3-6-0-688-114.7 Fleming 5-10-1-733-81.4 Fleming's can be said to be better only on one ground: that it was over two series. Otherwise tough to ignore a difference of 31 runs in avge. And why bring in the flamboyance as a red herring when Lara's performance in 2001 was the opposite type. Facing 1230 balls in 3 Tests against Murali and co is not exactly to be dismissed as flamboyance. Ananth: ]] This is also another reason I pick Warne over Murali. Murali had a definite relative weakness against left handers as compared to right handers. No such problem for Warne. If playing against quality left handed batsmen I would pick Warne. No one could really be said to have mastered Warne, esp. in at "Home". Also, Richards may have been the undisputed ODI King till Tendulkar came along. Now – Well, let’s just say that it is very much disputed.

    Harsh Thakor, Some of your comments don’t seem to have any connection with this analysis. For eg. Lara seems to have a distinctly poor away record vs. home record.

    Reiner, The "problem" with Kallis is that Tendulkar and Lara were already considered All-time greats by the late '90s. Kallis's average wasn’t quite touching 50 then. He and Ponting bloomed slightly later. Also, the fans remember that Tendulkar, Lara and Waugh among “modern” batsmen were the only players through the ‘90s to average 50+. Clearly a more difficult time for batsmen. And then as Boll mentions, we have the “Richards factor”. The flamboyant batsmen are always remembered. By their very nature the great flamboyant batsmen will produce stronger memories than the great stodgier batsmen. Tendulkar and Lara have a touch of genius in just about all their shots.

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    @Harsh. Nice to see the mention of Viv/GSC`s WSC records (usually me who has to bring that stuff up)1300-1500 runs at 56 against the best pace attacks ever. Interesting that you, and many others here, rate Gooch so highly. Perhaps his records vs India have something to do with that. Conversely, Gooch`s fairly poor returns against Aus mean that almost all Australians would rate Greenidge (and others) as a far better attacking opener - overall figures seem to indicate that there wasn`t much between them. re.lost causes - Lara vs SL still the best series performance for mine, Dravid of course, right up there. [[ Yes, and I think that was Lara's best series poerformance ever, including those great ones against Australia/England. You could say he is the only visiting batsman to have mastered Sri Lanka in their home territory and Murali at his best. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 23, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    @Waspsting...can of worms? - in the space of a day we have the highly over-rated Lillee and the `tad-over-rated` Richards...numbers 5 and 6 in Wisden`s Cricketers of the Century. Must be something in the water. A regular, fluent strokemaker?? - he was the Ali of modern cricket, and left a legacy which goes far beyond runs and averages. Richards vs Lillee was probably the great world-title bout of the last 40 years (honours pretty much even, despite Harsh Thakor`s rather exaggerated assessment that Richards(or anyone) treated Lillee like a club bowler). Over-hyped `Master Blaster`? - the original and best. Far more destructive than Sehwag against decent pace ( who averages mid-twenties vs SAf and England away - the best pace attacks of his era) and quite clearly the best ODI batsman of all-time. Viv was a colossal figure, for many people of my age (40s) the greatest batsman they have seen, and if anything remains under-rated and oft-forgotten by modern pundits. Ah, feel better.. [[ Such an impassioned defence. Comes from a Goulburn guy than from Gros Islet or Georgetown. Richards certainly faced better bowlers on an average than Sehwag (33.1 vs 34.5). And he scored fast at times when 40s/50s were acceptable. Anyhow in ODIs a true giant. The 189 is enough: an innings of multiple lifetimes. . Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 22, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    @Harsh, g`day. It`s always interesting to read your well-reasoned and strongly emotive comments here. As always, I agree with a lot of your points. re. Viv, it`s hard to explain to people who didn`t see him play what a monumental figure he was. http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/153387.html

  • Waspsting on June 22, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    In my opinion, Viv Richards is a tad overrated - though a great batsman. I'm talking about VERY fine distinctions here because anything on this topic is likely to open a can of worms.

    Take away his golden year 76, and his average falls to 45. (there's no reason to take it away - but this is an indication he wasn't too consistent - who else had a 15+ year career, the record of which is this dependent on a single year?)

    Even his "master blaster" rep is overhyped. For the most part, he batted like a regular, fluent strokeplayer (say like Lara or Ponting). Only in occasional bursts did he go full scale destroyer mode - against a particular bowler, at the start of an innings, or just on a whim. Sehwag is much more "destructive" though Viv's a better overall bat.

    These table i think, give a realistic picture of Viv. Great player, but not as great as he's often made out to be - if runs on the board count for more than hard hitting memories.

    @Sriram - i like the quandrant idea very much. [[ Sriram Complete the postings for at least the top 50 batsmen. You could send to me for posting here. Ananth: ]]

  • Reinier on June 22, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    I am astounded by the lack of respect that Kallis gets from the commentators on this site. You always here people referring to Tendulkar and Lara (and sometimes Ponting) but seldom does Kallis get mentioned alongside his contemporaries.

    The man is a rock, a legend and the above analysis shows it...yet, he still gets the least attention of all top-10 batsmen.

    He's 4th on all-time runs list. Highest average of "modern" batsmen. Better in the second innings than the first (i.e. wickets deterioting and the game is on the line).

    And let us not forget that he is a more-than-useful bowler and fielder.

    My question is: Why does so little respect get afforded to The Man? [[ I hope you only included in your criticism the readers only and not the author. I have a lot of time for Kallis and anyhow the gem you unearted for Kallis was from this article. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on June 22, 2012, 3:07 GMT

    Coming to pitches in terms of pace and bounce the Australian and West Indian tracks were the most lively.Facing the West Indian quartet on those wickets was the ultimate challenge and this is where one can asses the greatness of Alan Border and Graham Gooch.Border was also outstanding on a turning Lahore pitch in Pakistan,scoring 2 -150's.He also dominated the attacks on seaming Englsih tracks.Of the modern era to me Alan Border was the ultimate away player,followed closely by Rahul Dravid.Sunil Gavaskar also mastered the seaming English pitches in classical fashion in 1979 ,when scoring 221 at the Oval but to me the ultimate away batting performance in recent times was Rahul Dravid's batting in England in 2011,championing losing causes.

  • Harsh Thakor on June 22, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    I am very pleased with inclusion of Graham Gooch,the best attacking opening batsman of his time,and better than Geoff Boycott.Can't forget his domination of great West Indian attacks.Again sad that Viv Richards does not figure if you remember his domination in England and Australia.Another unlucky stalwart not to make it was Rohan Kanhai,the ultimate batting master in all conditions.In a crisis Steve Waugh,Alan Border,Javed Miandad and Rahul Dravid were the ultimate batsman as well as Kallis of the modern era.AS a match-winner Inzamam Ul Haq was the ultimate champion and I am happy with his presence in the charts.

  • Harsh Thakor on June 22, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    Great effort,Ananth.

    Sadly,Ananth Viv Richards,arguably the best batsman after Bradman figures nowhere.True he played for a champion team but he destroyed the likes of Lillee,Imran etc.like club bowlers in his peak.From 1976-81 tome he was the best after Bradman,and the ultimate match-winner.

    The charts do justice to great batsman like Sobers,Hammond,Lara,Barrington,Dravid,Kallis and Hobbs.Sadly Sober's performances for Rest of the World in 1970 and 1972 and Viv Richard's and Greg Chappell's Packers stats away could not be added.

    Statistically,Jacques Kallis is one of the all-time greats,arguably ahead of Sobers,to bat for your life.However stats can never tell the full story and I may place him a notch below Miandad and Dravid as he has not won as many games as he could have done.

    The table does crediblity to the claim of Brian Lara being the best test batsman of the modern era and to Hobbs being next after Bradman.

  • Boll on June 21, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    @Sriram - yes, my initial thought was that English pitches had been tough (even for Englishmen) especially after looking at the home/away differences for Hammond, Barrington, and even Hobbs, but actually plenty of players have done well there (far more than in Aus or India for example).

    In recent times, Dravid, S.Waugh, IVA Richards, Chanderpaul, Border, G.Smith and Ganguly have all averaged over 60 there. In fact Richards @64.39 is the lowest average of the lot, so it can`t have been all bad - perhaps a reflection of some less than excellent attacks than the pitch conditions though.

  • Sriram on June 21, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Putting this in a 2-by-2 graph, with axes (Home better - Away better, and 1st inn better - 2nd inn better) we get interesting results. Walcott, Weekes, Sobers and Lara (all the 4 WI's in the mix) are Home better, 1st inn better). Apart from them, only Tendulkar is in this quadrant. Hobbes, Hammond, Barrington, and marginally Hutton (4 of the 5 englishmen) are in the away better - 1st innings better quadrant. Sutcliffe and Kallis are on the home, 2nd innings better quadrant. Only Bradman can stand tall and say he is better away and on tricky 2nd innings tracks. Possible hypotheses (although will need analysis of all players not just top 12): a) West Indian pitches are good batting pitches that deteriorate fast in the 2nd innings. b) England has tougher pitches to play on than outside, even for its own champs c) Bradman is god. [[ Very interesting. Let me see the readers' responses. I am sure you must be aware of the work on BCG graphs which I did last year. Could this go into a BCG graph. Then we need quanitative values, not just better. But you would have seen that the second innings itself is a dicey proposition as far as Arjun and Rameshkumar are concerned. Ananth: ]]

  • Pankaj Joshi on June 21, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    @ Ananth,

    That was not the intent. Think of it as the standard - as much as Gavaskar getting a thousand runs every 19 innings till the early 80s.

    Sorry if I hurt you. I guess I don't know how to compliment. Rgds. [[ Pankaj You never hurt me at all. By now you should know that my replies are in lighter vein in these matters. Ananth: ]]

  • sudhir on June 21, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    Really great article...I would like to just do one article on 100's scored by some top players(of your choice)depending on the quality, situation,state of the match etc and come up with who score most important and useful 100's and who scored some less usefull ones.* This is just my wish. Dont know the exact difficulty level of this task and whether it can be done or not.so please take this as a suggestion only* [[ Why a hundred. My sometime-in-the-future analysis will look at every innings. Why exclude classics like Gavaskar's 97, Vishwanath's 93, Nourse's 93, Laxman's 96, Chappell's 98, Benaud's 97, May's 89 and so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on June 21, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    Anantha

    Trust me I would be the last to highlight one rare failure of any player as u might recall that. I was merely doubting the line of argument that he was sometime out of form, faced gud bowlers in tough condition n thts why his record is so bad ((spread over 4 tours - the 1 test in 1996, 3 in 1997/8, 3 in 2000/01 and only 1 (due to injury) in 2003/04) that he was averaging only 13. 1 fifty in 14 attempts) these things are parcel of long glorious career & everyone goes through it so why to mention hardships he faced. as u replied to Ravi, He just like few others in other countries, COULD NOT ADAPT. although as u mentioned he, being almost best on true pitches, completely demolished India at home, where to Indian bowlers credit, I would say they cud not adapt barring kumlbe in 2003. Needless to say he performed brilliantly later on being under pressure most of the times as bunny on Indian pitches [[ Boll's response was prompted by another one singling out Ponting. I think he gave a fair explanation. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on June 21, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    re: performances in Aus, I'm partial to Hutton's in 50/51. While England were losing 1-4, he averaged 88 - double the best australian and close to triple the next England batsman.

    Few not outs in there, but they were well earned ones - carrying the bat through, surviving comfortably on a wet wicket while all around him were falling, being left stranded as he was hitting out, and remaining not out as the winning runs were scored [[ WS Hutton's overall away figures against Australia are an impeccable 28 innings at 50.0. That is more important than one series. Somewhere there the discussion has veered from country to series. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on June 21, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    @Boll

    he faced some excellent spin-bowling in tough conditions. Thirdly, he was at times woefully out of form.

    While I agree Ponting, naturally, is a better player on bouncy fast true pitches but giving this reason for his failures in India is beyond comprehension. does it mean a batsman should always play on his strengths & if found "not performing", blame lies on tough condition, gud bowling, woefully out of form.

    He just could not adapt in India in his formative years with Indian bowling being better than what they have been post 2004. After long time he was able to adapt to dry, spin favoring conditions & he somehow played better if not true to his abilities. not to mention ponting was world's bat during 04-06 & thus tells how he mastered an otherwise alien territory (India).

    For such a wonderful batsman, I find it surprising he took such a long time to perform well whereas players like hayden, flower always feasted in India [[ Nitin I have already replied referring to the following batsmen, some amongst many such 30+- averages. Chanderpaul averages 30.2 against Australia, Kallis averages 29.3 against England, Sobers and Lloyd average 15 against New Zealand, Dravid averages 29.7 against South Africa, Mark Waugh 9 against Sri lanka and Saleem Malik averages 19 against India. Batsmen might have their weak spots. Everyone has and no one is exempt. Why highlight one failure. As Boll has said, Ponting has more than made up with his stupendous performances against India at home. Hayden averaged 33 against Bangladesh and 36 against New Zealand. Andy Flower averaged 33 against England and 38 against Sri Lanka. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 21, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    @shrikanthk. I think you`re being a little tough on Indian sides of the 2000s to rate them only `slightly ahead` of the 1970s teams, and definitely not at home. Sure, India won 2 big away series (both in 1971) but they didn`t win anywhere else (including NZ). Really, the 1977/78 series in Aus - Aus with perhaps 6 debutants, a couple of other blokes who`d played 1 or 2 tests, a captain who was 41 and hadn`t played tests cricket for 10 years...yes Australia`s wins were tight, but I think a decent team would have won that easily. As for their home record, apart from being well beaten by Aus in late 69, lost to a few others, beat some 2nd string teams...simply no comparison for mine either home or away. Stats: All (India) 1970s: Played:64 Won: 17 Lost: 19 Drew:28 2000s: Played:103, W 40 L 27 D 36 Home 1970s: P 34 W 11 L 7 D 16 2000s: P 47 W 21 L8 D 16 [[ Let us quickly get back to batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on June 21, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    [[ Talha, Som, Gerry, Boll I am not publishing your comments since those do not deal with the theme of the article which is batsmen against other countries. As and when the bowling article is published you can come out with your comments. I opened the door and am now closing the same. My apologies. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on June 21, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    After the cutoff's have been applied when selecting the list, I think, it should not matter whether someone scored 3/4 times the total number of runs. Here I am referring to the W's with respect to SRT. The thing to look out for is - Did someone play a full length career of 12+ years and play in more than 85% of tests that his country played during his tenure. If so, that person could not had done any better in terms of participation and if 'adjusted average' is the criteria for ranking players, then he should get his due. One should not be swayed by looking at data, but should form the evaluating criteria before delving into it (which means the cutoff's should be end-all, and if required complex enough). Ananth and others, why do you think the W's and Greg C are not talked about as much as SRT, Lara, Viv? [[ The Ws probably are too far back and overshadowed by Sobers. I also think Weekes was above the other two, as far as batting is concerned. Greg Chappell is probably because there is a huge negative perception of him in India. Of course die-hard followers of Aussie cricket like Boll never fail to talk of Greg Chappell. However this article gives him his due space. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 21, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    @chaitnaya. Of course, Ponting`s poor returns against India away are in stark contrast to his performances against them at home. (I remember seeing an article on cricinfo fairly recently which looked at the greatest discrepancies for players against a team home/away and he figured very prominently - perhaps only Mahela vs England was even more stark)

    vs India in Aus Ponting averages 86 (only once in 4 series has he averaged under 100) with 7 centuries (3 doubles) and 7 fifties. Again, why? Maybe the difficulties most visiting spinners have had in Aus, better form, more familiar conditions...I don`t know. Can all of that account for a difference of 60 runs per innings home and away? Maybe an ounce or two of good/bad luck either way has had as much to do with it as anything...An overall average of 54 vs India looks pretty par for the course for a batsman of his class. Perhaps 70 at home, 40 away would be a `fairer` reflection of his abilities though.

  • Boll on June 21, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    @chaitnaya. re. Ponting`s record in India, a `genuine question` with a gleeful undertone perhaps? Here is my take on it. Firstly, Ponting is undoubtedly a better batsman on fast, true, bouncy tracks (in his prime I think clearly the best player of fast bowling of his generation) than on slower, lower or even seaming pitches.

    Secondly, he faced some excellent spin-bowling in tough conditions. Thirdly, he was at times woefully out of form. In 2000/01 he looked as if he could literally not score a run. Somehow he managed to cobble together 17 in 5 innings (11 of those in his final effort).

    His returns were so bad in his first 14 innings (spread over 4 tours - the 1 test in 1996, 3 in 1997/8, 3 in 2000/01 and only 1 (due to injury) in 2003/04) that he was averaging only 13. 1 fifty in 14 attempts.

    Since then he has been pretty good - 11 innings at 45 (1 century and 4 fifties) in his last 2 tours, but due to the woeful first 14 innings, only good enough to bring the average up to 26.

  • Boll on June 21, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    @Ravi Sharma cont`d. Not only is the word `hid` (to describe Lillee`s actions re.touring India) `completely unnecessary` as Ananth suggests, it is blatantly untrue. I have heard this derogatory type of comment in various forums about Lillee, G.Chappell and others. I have also corrected the impression numerous times on this site, but it seems to be an entrenched belief among certain sections of the cricketing community.

    The facts are that during Lillee`s career (1971-84) Australia only toured India once, (with a 2nd/3rd string team in 1979) at which time, Lillee, Chappell et.al were contracted to World Series Cricket. This hardly constitutes `hiding` in any way that I understand the term.

    A far more reasonable question to ask would be why Australia only toured twice between 1969 and 1996, when they had toured 4 times from 1956-1969 and have toured 6 times in the last 15 years. [[ Conmpletely agree with you. The tendency to put down greats is quite prevalent now. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 21, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    @RaviSharma - I`m not sure that Warne would agree that pitches in India were conducive to his style of bowling, and his figures there certainly don`t suggest that. I would argue that the low(er) bounce and slow(er) spin took away two of his biggest weapons. To be fair, his record against the Indians in Australia was also poor. I think the combination of pitches, injuries/poor form when touring, and bowling to some of the greatest players of spin were all partly to blame.

    re.your suspicion that Lillee is `highly over-rated`. Few, if any, who played with or against him would agree with your assessment. See the comments of Ian Chappell (captain), Jeff Thomson (new-ball partner), Hadlee, IVA Richards, or indeed the ESPN Jury who voted him into the All-time World XI. And more than 5 wickets per test - highly over-rated? You must be joking...

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 21, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    Shrikanthk, the bowling was indeed good from India, but we lost that series because of Gavaskar's failure. Vishwanath did well, and other batsmen were inexperienced, and we needed solid starts desperately.

    In fact, he was a complete disaster in the 1972-73 England visit, 1976-77 visit and 1984-85 visit (his rash cut shot against teh spin and Kapil Dev's awful attempt at two consecutive sixes cost us the test when 60 more minutes of defence would have drawn the match). Normally for a high class Indian batsman, these attacks should have been easy pickings, but Gavaskar's overall calibre and his failure in these three series are a total mystery. We paid heavily in 1976-77 and in 1984-85 and lost both series, so it isn't as if his failures came when others made up for it.

  • shrikanthk on June 21, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Talking of performances in Australia, one of the highly underrated performances in that country was from Jack Hobbs in 1911-12.

    660 runs at an average of 82 and a strike rate of 56+. By the way, all those tests were also timeless! Goes to show one doesn't always have to grind in a timeless test.

    The Aus attack was good, not great. But definitely not worse than the 1928-29 attack. HV Hordern, Cotter, Whitty. Pretty decent.

  • shrikanthk on June 21, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    The 1920-39 decade had an average scoring rate of 2.70. Why should you complain about a guy who has scored 905 runs at, I have no idea, possibly 2.3.

    For the record, Hammond's Strike rate in that series was 35.89. No ambiguity there. Straight out of Cricinfo's records.

    That's roughly equivalent to Boycott's career Strike rate!!? Btw, I am not complaining! Why should I complain about the rate at which some batsman scored his runs 85 years ago.

    My point is - there's no reason to regard Hammond's performance on that tour as easily the finest by an overseas batsman on Australian shores. Statistically maybe.

    But there have been arguably better, more riveting performances against better attacks. Eg: Boycott in '70-71,Sachin in '91-92 and again in '99-00, Alastair Cook in '10-11 (weak attack yes, but stronger than the '28-29 Aus attack), Jack Hobbs in 1911-12 and again in 1920-21, Michael Vaughan in '02-03.

  • Prashant Agarwal on June 21, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    I used an alternate method to provide benefit to those players who played more away innings than home innings. I used your ABQ to adjust the averages on top of that and then I got the following list of players as top 10:

    Bradman D.G Sobers G EdeC Weekes Walcott C.L Chappell G.S Barrington K Lara B.C Tendulkar S. Younis Khan Kallis J.H

    There are couple of interesting differences as compared to your top 10. Weekes and Walcott exchange places, Barrington and Lara exchange places, Younis comes in at 9 due to his large number of away innings.

  • Pankaj Joshi on June 21, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    @Arjun... principle of a second innings analysis is very relevant, but not the logic of 20 wickets. God. We would drop many gems just for that ... randomly SMG's 221, the 404 and other brilliant chases, lots of good rearguard operations by MDAmarnath, SVManjrekar and others. Good part of VVS and RSD's relevance in past decade could be lost. The omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent SRT may not mind the logic though, he's likely to have a bit more than average presence. Maybe a selection based on overs and/or runs (40% of match) or even the time the second innings started. This is tricky indeed Arjun. Other things - no sense in parroting again that Ananth has taken a good idea and executed it brilliantly. It would make sense to comment only if he makes a meal out of something. Rgds [[ So you think readers should keep the bouquets to themselves and hurl the brickbats at me !!! No problems.. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on June 21, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    Shrikanthk, Dont forget that the full strength England team smashed India 3-1 in 5 tests (it was 3-0 in 4 tests) in India in 1976-77. Or that Aus close series the following year was also against packer-drained side

    Gerry: I know the Aus series was against Simpson's weakened side. We may have lost it. But if you examine the scorecards, India won their tests more comfortably, while the Aussie wins were a lot tighter. No excuse for the series loss though.

    By the way, thanks for bringing up the 1976-77 England series. It had slipped my notice. Very interesting. Was checking up all the scores. Our bowling did pretty well even then. With Bedi, Pras, Chandra collectively averaging around 25. What surprised me was the almost complete failure of batting in home conditions! A very embarrassing home loss.

    Strong English attack though. Underwood's performance in that series should probably rank as the most impressive performance by an overseas spinner in India EVER? Ananth?

  • Prashant Agarwal on June 21, 2012, 1:45 GMT

    Since there are more players who have higher home average than away average, I think weightage should be given to those players who have made more away runs than home runs.

    One way to do this would be to use different average bowling they faced in home and away innings.

  • shrikanthk on June 20, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    So I am not sure whether he scored much below England's rate of 2.3 which works to nearly .40.

    Well. The point is that if someone stays at the crease long enough to make 905 runs over 5 tests, you'd expect that person to do much, much better than the team's overall run rate. That wasn't the case with Hammond. The more time you spend at the crease the easier it gets to score. A truism proved in every other test match.

    That's what makes Hammond's SR of 35-40 in that series so unfathomable. Especially given the kind of attack he was up against. [[ I think you are being critical with no basis whatsoever. A batsman scores 905 with 4 hundreds and helps his team win an important away Ashes series 4-1 and is he also required to score these runs at a s/r of 60. The 1920-39 decade had an average scoring rate of 2.70. Why should you complain about a guy who has scored 905 runs at, I have no idea, possibly 2.3. Let me also say that I have virtually run a single-handed campaign on Hammond's ultra-cheap runs against New Zealand a few years later. His 336 was against a set of bowlers whose career aggregate of wickets was 36 and whose BQI was 55+. However I would give Hammond his due four years earlier. Ananth: ]]

  • chaitnaya on June 20, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Can anyone explain to me why does Ponting average 26 in India?.Even after all these visits? Where pitches are supposedly ...... Genuine question. Not a dig. [[ Probably the same reason why, playimg away, Chanderpaul averages 30.2 against Australia, Kallis averages 29.3 against England, Sobers and Lloyd average 15 against New Zealand, Dravid averages 29.7 against South Africa and Mark Waugh 9 against Sri lanka and Saleem malik averages 19 against India. Difficult to explain. They probably could not adjust. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on June 20, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    Shri - I think your a tad harsh on Wally Hammond.

    Those were timeless tests in Aus - and taking your sweet time over runs is probably the best way of scoring them, as your wearing down the wicket as you go. Strategically, I'd prefer a slow grinding 200 in a timeless test to a blitzed 200 for this reason. [[ I will never ignore a series performance which is the second best out of 600 or so series. Also I just now found out that England scored at 2.3 runs per over. They scored 3760 runs. Out of this Hammond scored 905, less than 25%. So I am not sure whether he scored much below England's rate of 2.3 which works to nearly .40. Ananth: ]] No great entertainment, though, that's for sure.

    re: Barrington, i think his problems were more with the pitched up, moving ball than genuine pace. Though uncomfortable against extreme pace, he held his own against Wes Hall and Griffith - and has good records in Aus, WI, and SA as well as the subcontinent.

    He was a bit like S. Waugh - very reluctant to get forward - and when the ball moved about a bit (as it tends to in Eng), he didn't cover the movement too well.

    Will check rest of the article and comments later

  • Arjun on June 20, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    Ananth,

    In Tests in which all the 20 3rd inn and 4th inn wickets fell, what is the career record of all the top batsmen. Can you post a small table ? I am sure out of 2000+ test, in about 800-1000 tests all 20 2nd inns wkts would have fallen. I think this will separate all the easy 2nd inns runs in dull draws/easy wkts. eg. In Test # 1438, both dravid and ganguly hit 100s in 4th inns ag NZ; this table won't inculde such efforts, instead it will inculde all the crucial 2nd inn runs. [[ Arjun I will do this later in the appropriate article. It is also not simple like first/second innings averages. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on June 20, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    @ ShrikanthK: Very valuable insights indeed albeit, a bit perceptive, but I'm fine with that(this is perceptive too!!!!!). Even 02-09 team didnt win "series" abroad. The dearth of bowling in India is something that has been exposed in our past couple of tours to Eng and Oz. We didnt as much lose due to our inept batting alone. It was also partly to do with our bowling. We saw how Kiwis broke Aussies' back @ Gabba. We saw how England was vulnerable on multiple occasions in the 2011 series. How many times we let loose, with Nos 8-11 scoring 100+ runs!! And one look at this list given by Ananth reveals how easy it was to score against India (historically) - Of the 139 batsmen who played v India, 88 batsmen scored @40+ averages, and mean for these 139 bastmen is 49! I'm not sure how the 27 team Ranji trophy would improve Indian cricket standards, but without bowling, we would only manage to be barely competitive (which I doubt) and never a strong team.

  • Amit on June 20, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    every conceivable cricketing aspect. We cannot merely stop at 2nd innings figures - and give batsmen extra or less points irrespective of the individual pitch state. As mentioned Caddick's figures yo-yo considerably in the 4th innings. We may end up giving a batsman undue credit on what may be a batting beauty - If we use an average of 17 for Caddick across all his 4th innings.

    So,if we chose the fine grain route we cannot stop at a particular filter of your chosing.We must then go all the way.

    Till then we have to accept that the coarse BQI as currently used, especially such an all encompassing figure as "Career BQI" for batsmen with long careers is at best a ball park indicator - with unknown error ranges.

  • Amit on June 20, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    Arjun,Gerry_the_merry, I went through Caddick's figures. There is also considerable variation in yearly ,seasonal etc figures. Also, in the 4th inn. there are several with either 1 or 0 wickets.And then a few innings where there are clumps of wickets.Giving a batsman credit irrespective of the particular match is incorrect. Also,if the same bowler's figures change during a match - this should ideally be incorporated in the PQI , not BQI. Something which was mentioned by a few people during the PQI analyses. Very round about ,chicken and egg situation.

    I also went through Kallis's figures. His 3rd innings is what makes the difference. Surprisingly he has a considerably large number of N.Os in the 3rd innings. Most batsmen usually have their N.Os in the 4th innings. I suppose that is while attempting for the most part to play out draws.

    It must be realised that the BQI is a coarse grained figure. If we try to increase the fineness then we must incorporate every conceivable ..contd...

  • Elvis on June 20, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    Thanks for a great piece Ananth. This is regarding the 1st innings and 2nd innings debate going on. What has been possibly overlooked is the critical fatigue factor which influences the both the performance and the decisions to be made. Big first innings are many a time declared with about an hours play left on the second day to precisely take advantage of this. A team is physically and mentally down after nearly two days on the field. Ananth/Rajesh - could you please statistically analyze this. Also the decision whether to enforce the follow on takes into account the pitch, the time spent on the field (for a pace oriented attack), the time remaining and the possible difficulty of chasing in the fourth innings. No wonder cricket (and chess) is one of the most complex games you will find with infinite variations possible. [[ Too many imponerables, Elvis. Bowling, fielding, rest days, keeper vs other fielder, weather etc. Each match has its own special situations. Ananth: ]]

  • Elvis on June 20, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    However, gradually towards the end of 70s, first with Gavaskar and then others on the field they grudgingly accepted that Indians could stand up to them and also play. The last decade has changed many perceptions. Ganguly - with Australia in 2001 and at Lords 2002 - no need of elaboration. Then Gavaskar (again), Siddhu and Ravi Shastri on the mike and TV have shown that Indians can give as good as they get. Final the IPL has hammered home the point - much as they mock and hate India's financial and cricket ascendency deep inside, both the white and black players have to sing fulsome praises of India and Indians today!!

  • Elvis on June 20, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Up till some time in the 90s the white man condescended to tour India (and the sub continent) only reluctantly because of the general perception of a poor country, the food, the hot sun, the roads and traffic (both intra city and inter city as not always did they travel by planes) and poorly kept venues and hotels - though they got to stay in 5-star hotels most of the time or the best possible hotels in smaller venues. The beds were too small for the 6'3" players and unrelatedly there was no nightlife and discos to talk of. This was after all a country they had ruled over until a few decades ago.

    Contd...

  • Arjun on June 20, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    Ananth,

    I am aware of that drop of 13% in Rpw and 9% in Bpw. However that is for all matches/pitches. Further, if we consider only bottom 2 categories of pitches that drop will be even higher, say 30-35% and 15-20%. What i want to say is that in 50-60% of Tests, pitches dosen't deteriorate that much. We will take Alistar cook's example. His 2nd Inns record is pretty decent. 60 inns, 2466 runs @47.42. This record inculdes following 100s on very good batting tracks. T # 1911, 139* at barbados T # 1785, 104* at nagpur T # 1981, 235* at brisbane If we remove these from his stats, his record in 2nd inn will be 1989 runs @38.25, only acceptable.

    In our minds we see a crucial '78' in 2nd inns as good as 100. But we never devalue '5/84' by a opposition bowler as '4/117' in the same inns. [[ Ultimately, Arjun, no one pass a generalized statement on ANYTHING. Scoring in New Zealand, second innings scores, sub-continental flat tracks, Sri Lankan slow hell of pitches, Kingston - the fast bowler's paradise, Headingley - the seamer's backyard, the Mumbai mud roads passing off as pitches: take anything. Context is important and most important. And my definition of context includes everything: the pitches, the bowlers, the batsmen, the match situation, the innings status, the support present or absent, the location and what have you. Then only can we understand and define the value of specific innings. For each of the Cook innings you have shown above I can point out the parts of context evaluation which will lower the value of the same. By the by, the 235 was on a very good batting track. But there is a different sort of value attached to the innings: the fact that England were behind by 221 runs. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on June 20, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    @ Shrikanthk: I agree with you on 1979 win over Pak - To me, out of all these we had just 2 very good years - 1971 and 1976, where we beat WIN & Eng and competed well. The rest, as you have recounted, have been disastrous losses and competitive losses. I agree that I should have told "India was a competitive team" based on that one win that you have mentioned.

    But I dont think 1971, 72, 74,75 can be termed as "Late 70's and early 80's"

  • shrikanthk on June 20, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    I would still rate Ganguly/Dravid/Dhoni's sides from 2002-2009 marginally ahead of the 70s sides. But not by much. And definitely not ahead of the 70s sides in home conditions.

    ODI cricket is a different matter. But as I've so often said in the past, that's a different game.

  • shrikanthk on June 20, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    But I am not sure if it would have evoked the same feeling as India of today (or a year back) for any country to tour India or regret missing it.

    You get that feeling because India's ODI performances invariably color people's perception of India - the Test team.

    Let's just focus on Test cricket. The present Indian side is nowhere near as good as any of the 70s sides. In the 70s, we had three world-class bowlers. Bedi, Pras and Chandra. Everyone agrees on that. Three bowlers averaging 28, 30 and 29 respectively. That's brilliant by Indian standards.

    The best bowler of the 2000s - Harbhajan Singh averages 32+, despite having a far better batting side at his disposal to exert scoreboard pressure on the opposition. The depth of spin bowling in terms of reserves is nowhere near as good as it used to be in the 70s (when we boasted giants like Shivalkar, Goel, VV Kumar, Doshi who hardly played a test). All of them averaging in the late teens/early 20s in First class cricket.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 20, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    "The only real disasters in the whole period being the loss to Pak in Pak in '78-79 (when the spinners met their Waterloo) and the disaster in England in '74."

    Shrikanthk, Dont forget that the full strength England team smashed India 3-1 in 5 tests (it was 3-0 in 4 tests) in India in 1976-77. Or that Aus close series the following year was also against packer-drained side.

  • shrikanthk on June 20, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    @ Shrikanthk: During late 70's and 80's, India was indeed weak, never mind the super stars in the lineup.

    Until the 2000s, the 1970s was widely regarded as the Golden Age of Indian cricket. Easily our best cricketing decade (excepting the 2000s).

    India defeated Eng in Eng in 1971, WI in WI the same year, Eng in India in 1972, lost two very tight series against WI and Aus in 1974-75 and 1977. Chased a record score against WI in 1976. Defeated a Packer weakened WI side in 1979. Competed well in England in 1979. Defeated Pak in India in 1979.

    The only real disasters in the whole period being the loss to Pak in Pak in '78-79 (when the spinners met their Waterloo) and the disaster in England in '74.

    Teams like England used to send weak sides (or tour less frequently) because the players didn't particularly relish the hot weather, the Indian curry or the Indian hotels.

    Not because the Indian team was weak.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 20, 2012, 3:13 GMT

    "Sometime tomorrow I will do a summary analysis of first vs second innings."

    Awesome, awesome. Very badly needed. I have been saying this for over an year - exactly the opposite of Arjun's position. I thought of this only after your May 2011 Bowlers across batsman group across ages. For the first time I realized that as long as the batsman generates his average in the same general conditions (pitch) as the bowler's BQI, it does not matter if the bowling is fast or slow, Ist inn or IInd inn, spnning track or bouncy track etc, home or away (assuming home away BQI is calculated separately). [[ Gerry Only the summary which I have already done and posted. Ananth: ]] Arjun, you can indeed observe big differences in Ist to IInd inn - e.g. take Andy Caddick - his Ist inn avg is 80% more than IInd inn avg. That absolutely has to reflect in the quality of each run scored.

  • Arjun on June 19, 2012, 14:32 GMT

    Ananth,

    I think "performance in 2nd inn. is better" is a myth. Instead, efforts in the 1st innings of the Tests are much more significant since these performances decide the fate of the match. (if i have to put number then 1st innings efforts should value 1.20 as against 0.90/0.80 for 2nd inns) Only point in favour of 2nd inn. is that pitch is more difficult to bat on. Then by same logic we should devalue efforts of bowlers in 3rd/4th inns of test. but we never do. Moreover if we scrutinize in detail we will see that pitches get difficult/worse in only 40-50 % of the matches. (if we calssify pitches into 5 categories; batting paradise, good for batting, sporting, good for bowling and bowlers paradise, only last two types of pitches deteriorate). And it is no coincidence that almost all the top players who have better record in 1st innings have had more impact in the result of the matches. For every 1 great 2nd innings performces there are 3/4 great 1st inns efforts.(just a guess) [[ Arjun I also do not make general statements like that. However it is an accepted fact that the second innings pitches are tougher to bat on. Also chasing medium to high targets is not easy. Anyhow my Innings Rating takes into account all the relevant factors. Sometime tomorrow I will do a summary analysis of first vs second innings. Let us ee whether we can get anything out of that. Given below is the table. 3. Match analysis 3 (Runs/Wkt for First/Second inns) Period 1RpW 1BpW 2RpW 2BpW 1877-1914 24.8 54.6 23.4 52.2 1920-1939 34.2 75.0 30.3 68.9 1946-1959 31.4 77.4 27.6 72.7 1960-1969 33.2 79.0 30.7 74.8 1970-1979 33.5 73.4 31.3 71.6 1980-1989 34.4 71.0 29.1 62.9 1990-1999 32.7 68.0 29.6 63.0 2000-2009 36.5 67.3 30.3 58.1 2010-2012 35.7 66.0 31.0 58.8 1877-2012 33.5 70.2 29.4 64.1 There is a 13% drop in RpW and 9% drop in BpW from the first to second innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on June 19, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    @ Shrikanthk: During late 70's and 80's, India was indeed weak, never mind the super stars in the lineup. Yes we had Sunny, Dilip, Vishy, Sandeep Patil (off and on) and the famed spin quartet. Big names no doubt! But I am not sure if it would have evoked the same feeling as India of today (or a year back) for any country to tour India or regret missing it. India might have been a competitive side, but from the perspective of those who didnt tour, they missed the tour as much as some of our greats missed the WIndies tour of 2011. I was talking from that perspective. No head to head comparison anyways.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 19, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Ranga, RaviSharma, Lillee did take 3 wickets in 3 tests in 1980 against Pak in Pak, so that blot on an otherwise brilliant record does remain. Hadlee, McGrath and the West Indies quicks have no such black marks. But on the whole, I would say, let us give the benefit of doubt to Lillee - his other deeds are just too spectacular, including centenary test.

    Ranga, we dont stop scoring runs against easy attacks - we just wait for Ananth's innings rating analysis - that will clear many many things up, I am utterly utterly confident.

    And Ananth, i have resisted for a month, but no longer - time for a quick reminder on Bowlers across Batsman Groups across Ages...whenever you get around to it. The best stuff is worth waiting for, always. [[ Gerry, you have to wait. I have to complete the groups of articles. Cannot leave them hanging. And take care of myself also. Ananth: ]]

  • Nishant on June 19, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Just a specific mention of one point in criteria

    "2. There is no problem with using the Batting Average since this is an analysis of Test matches. Not outs do not play that significant a part as happens in the ODI game"

    Why is it so? Batting average is always calculate with same fomula. i.e. {Total Runs}/{Total number of outs}. [[ In ODIs I had used RpI (Runs/Innings). Ananth: ]]

  • KnowWho on June 19, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    DIsappointed at not seeing a conclusion similar to analysis done for batsmen in one-dayers.However the article seems interesting. Adj.averages could be taken as a benchmark and think those who have 50 or above AWAY ADJ AVERAGE should be considered gems. No 3 position is reserved for the greatman. For openers tough the bench mark could be reduced to say 48. [[ No chance, Kartik. Good that I resisted the temptation. I might hav received double the number of comments. But most would be on the team. Now we are getting meaningful comments. See Boll's and Ranga's comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on June 19, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    Out of the 120 batsmen listed, only 20 of them have managed to average 40+ "away" in all tough conditions (Aus, Win, Eng & SAF) -and JUST 8 batsmen averaged 40+ across all countries played.

    Tendulkar Ind Hobbs J.B Eng Barrington K Eng Kanhai R.B Win Bradman D.G Aus Chappell G.S Aus Hendren E.H Eng

    That makes an interesting list!Particularly for someone who has grown in the 80's and 90's, to see Rohan Kanhai in this list is wonderful to see. An era-wise normalization might throw better players with better averages, but looks like these were the 8 folks who were able to play across all conditions and continents.

    Of this list, Sachin seems to have had the complete opportunity to play against all countries and prove himself, which he eventually did. He is the only modern player of the lot, without a general blip (unfortunately though, 40 is 27% below is career average,although it is an acceptable average otherwise) [[ Kanhai ahead of 5 other greats. Amazing. And Chappell. Boll will be chuffed. Thanks Ranga for this. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on June 19, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    I only think India of 1970's as the West Indies of today

    I don't know a cricket team comprising of Sunil Gavaskar, GR Viswanath, Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar, Engineer can be regarded as the "West Indies of today".

    India was one of the top teams in the world between 1971-74. Yes, we were severely handicapped by the absence of a class seam bowler. But nonetheless an extremely competitive side, especially at home.

  • Ranga on June 19, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    @ Boll: A very interesting observation: "I still find myself thinking `Gooch, Stewart, Atherton, Kirsten... really??...hardly remember them scoring a run against the Aussies." - Overall they did face good bowling under difficult batting conditions, but they have also feasted on lesser bowling teams in flat wickets. The immediate reaction would be to think, "Batsman X faced sub-30 bowling attack and made 8xxx runs @ 4x.xx", but in reality those runs would have come against lesser teams. But having said that, as an opener in those times, he did make meaningful runs against tougher teams too (an average of 30+ those days could be 40+ of today - Imagine apart from Sir Viv, none from the all-beating Windies averaged over 50). Some criticism on Kallis, Sachin, Ponting et al is that they feasted on average bowling attacks. So what do we do? stop scoring runs? Wont that mean, "not able to score EVEN against that attack"? . . . Outside the topic too early!! [[ Valuable insights can be drawn in this analysis if we move horiziontally for a single batsmen and also the column movement down for a country. Then only would one realize how difficult it was to score against Australia, New Zealand etc. And the Away table is a trasure-house. As far as scoring well against the weak countries, neither would I overplay the numbers nor downplay the countries. Runs were there to be scored and the batsmen did exactly that. Ananth: ]]

  • Ranga on June 19, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    @RaviSharma: Good bowlers have always done well in India, no matter how easy it wa/is to bat in India. McGrath showed it in 2001/2 and again in 2004/5. So did Steyn (in every possible match in India, including the thamasha IPL). Shane Warne, to me was an aberration. Even Shane Warne did manage to take a few wickets in 2004/5 series, where Aussies won. In 2010, little known NZL bowlers scared India! Yes, pitches in India do demoralize bowlers at large, but someone like Lillee, in his era, where fast bowlers often faced fitness issues, wouldnt have minded giving India a miss (were X(YZ) scared of Ravi Rampaul & Bishoo in 2011 that (t)he(y)decided to miss WIndies tour??). I only think India of 1970's as the West Indies of today. [[ More importantly the question was whether the tours missed were from a so called "fear of doing not well" or, in those days, a tough tour from the non-playing point of view or, why not a desire to be with the family giving the less important tour a miss. Ananth: ]]

  • RaviSharma on June 19, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    Excellent and I bet time consuming analysis....I would like you to take into consideration the fact that away and home might actually have lesser of a meaning when you talk of Shane Warne bowling in India - the pitches are conducive to his style of bowling as so for a batsman to score on Shane Warne in India, makes the batsman special...similarly to score on a pace bowler in Australia etc... You get the point.

    Also, please rank the bowlers...I have a sneaky suspicion that Dennis Lillie is highly over-rated. He hid from matches in India while Holding, Marshall, Walsh etc. played there. [[ "Hid" is a completely unnecessary word. The WSC took care of couple of tours and I am not sure whether Lillee would have been scared of the 1970s Indian batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Jarryd on June 19, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    Quick question: How, in the opening figure, are Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton's career averages greater than BOTH their away and home averages? [[ Sutcliffe Career: 60.73, Home: 64.60 Away: 56.31 Hobbs Career: 56.95, Home: 52.30 Away: 59.91 There was a mistake pointed out by Boll and has since been corrected. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on June 19, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    Boll: The Home tables have been corrected. Nitin/Boll: Tendulkar's away performance against Australia has been mentioned. Ananth

  • shrikanthk on June 19, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Hammond`s record there remains unsurpassed however, particularly his incredible 1928/9 summer.

    It's no secret that I am not a huge Hammond fan.

    1928/29 - Yes. He scored heavily. But took his own sweet time (strike rates in the 30s) against an ageing Aus attack where Grimmett was the only world-class threat. Gregory was over the hill by then. I know the tests were timeless. But I still struggle to understand how someone can be THAT slow against THAT attack on perfect Australian pitches.

    Sachin faced far better Aus attacks and scored his runs in a far more attractive fashion.

  • Nakihunter on June 18, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    Sobers's low scores in New Zealand imply that he was not a great player on sticky wickets were the ball stopped and had tennis ball bounce. The ball also seams a lot more in NZ. On the other hand Sobers was unstopable on flat true wickets irrespective of bounce - be it Australia, India or WI.

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    @Ananth - sorry to be picky, but also Ponting`s home average (minus ICC XI game) should be 59.09 I think, not the 53.57 listed in the first table. [[ Boll You will see that both in the Home worksheet of downloadable table and the Home table the average is correctly shown as 59.1. I will look into the first table and the summary worksheet and correct in the morning (now it is 11.30 PM). Since the average is correctly shown correctly as 59.1 it must be a silly transcription mistake. So much copying and pasting to do the tables. Contd... No, another silly error. How can the following work. I must be slipping. Age catching up. psum[i]->vss.home_batruns/(psum[i]->vss.home_inns-psum[i]->vss.away_nos) Should have been home_nos and not away_nos. Will correct and post in the morning. Only this column of data. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    @Nitin Gautam. Yes, I would agree that Sachin`s performances in Aus deserve a special mention. Hammond`s record there remains unsurpassed however, particularly his incredible 1928/9 summer. [[ Yes, i agree that the 53 is a special 53: away against Australia and deserves a mention especially as very few people have even achieved 50 agsinst Australia, away. Ananth: ]] re.Sachin in England - plenty of people have performed just as well, and some better - Dravid, Border, Steve Waugh, Viv, Chanderpaul for example...not to mention 2674 runs @ 103.

  • Darren Lucas on June 18, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    The Adjusted Batting Average makes interesting reading, looking at the 50+ group: Bradman, Sobers, Walcott, Weekes, Chappell, Lara, Barrington, Tendulkar, Kallis and Sutcliffe. Chappell was a nice surprise in this group, I always loved watching his elegant batting, (but when he was bad he was very bad - Chappell0, underarm et al). He certainly had to face a fair number of difficult attacks in many conditions. A really interesting method indeed, ty again for a feast of fun facts and figures :) [[ By getting Bradman down by 12%to 88, the whole spectrum of averages now seems more acceptable. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    Just for the record, and since you asked , Ananth. Here are my submissions for best performances `Home matches versus other teams`

    vs Australia: Chanderpaul, 17 innings @ 80.4 vs England: Mahela, 18 @ 89 vs India: Ponting, 26 @ 86 vs NZ: Javed Miandad, 15 @ 82.6 vs Pakistan: Ponting, 16 @ 69.9 vs South Africa: Ponting, 22 @ 58.2 vs Sri Lanka: Dravid, 11 @ 76.9 vs Windies: Kallis, 21 @ 94.3 [[ 11 innings means 6/7 Tests and is too short a number. That is the reason why I have put more faith in the number of innings. Ananth: ]] As far as overseas performances go, Allan Border has a stunning record. He played in probably the most difficult period for batting since the very early days of test-match cricket. The only other people from his era to average over 50 were G.Chappell, Gavaskar, and Sir Viv. He averaged almost 57 away, and almost 55 in the 2nd innings. Hard as nails, and still doesn`t get nearly enough credit for his achievements. His legacy still resonates in the Australian team 35 years on.

    7th in adjusted averages of the 40 players in the table suggests he was one of the true greats.

  • Som on June 18, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    Ananth - Great article. One of the things it brings out is how good Greg Chappell was.

    One thing though would be interesting to look at. I believe dividing by the 'average bowling quality', is a linear relationship, and I suspect with the ABQ getting better, the batting becomes harder in a non-linear way. One way to look at this is to see averages of batsmen whose career ABQ fell within certain ABQ bands (say between 30-31) and apply those averages (of batting average) to understand the function. [[ The ABQ is really a narrow band between 30 and 38. if you ignore the few English batsmen who are outliers at 40+. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    Just an interesting little exercise in objectivity for everyone - have a look at the `All Matches vs Other Teams` table. Focus on performances against your nation. Notice a positive correlation between those figures and the way you would rank those players? I certainly do.

    It`s a completely natural thing. We must remember that until very recently (advent of the internet/pay TV etc.)it was impossible to watch much live cricket. Often you couldn`t even watch your team in away matches.

    I still find myself thinking `Gooch, Stewart, Atherton, Kirsten... really??...hardly remember them scoring a run against the Aussies.` Even Kallis, can picture a couple of boring fifties, apart from that ...not much.`

    Best to look at the bigger picture I suppose. It remains a difficult habit to get out of, however.

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Hi Ananth/all, just wondering about the adjusted average (and ABQ). Firstly, it seems a little strange that only 3 of the 40 odd batsmen listed in the table, according to the ABQ, faced better than average bowling attacks - Gooch, Atherton, and Stewart from memory. You`ve probably gone into more detail before about how you arrived at the figure 31.79 - is it simply the sum of the bowling average of every bowler divided by the number of bowlers? or are there more adjustments which take into account number of balls bowled/ wickets taken et al.? [[ 31.79 is the all-time bowling average across 2000+ tests and over 50000 wkts. In reality it does not matter what number we use. All averages are multiplied by this number. We could use 30 or 31.79 or 34. Ananth: ]] Based on those figures, disregarding the aforementioned `B`, Sobers` adjusted average of 57 plus (almost 10% better than Lara or Tendulkar) gives real credibility to those old-timers who still claim that he is the best batsman they have ever seen.

    Similarly, Greg Chappell, who I often feel is given rather short shrift on this site, sits proudly in 3rd position. I hate to carp on his WSC exploits, but they would have consolidated this position.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 18, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Viv did have a poor return against NZ. But this was concentrated in 1986-87, when Windies were running thin on their bowling, with Holding retiring midway through the series, West Indies nearly picking up the wooden spoon in Perth Challenge one day tournament, Marshall mysteriously beginning to slow down, and Richards' own form coming off after a very sharp spurt after assuming captaincy in 1985. In the one day series he did become the first (and I believe till now the only) man to take 5 wickets and make a century in a one day match, but overall, the brilliance of Hadlee and Martin Crowe proved too much for the West Indies in their attempt to win the test series. The team was also riddled with tension, and it took an year for the West Indies and Richards himself to re-discover form, and England and Australia suffered heavily when West Indies visited.

  • shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Not surprised at all at the better "away" performance of Barrington and Hammond in comparison with their "home" averages.

    Barrington was a very fine player of slow bowling. But not quite as brilliant against genuine pace. Which explains his underperformance in England - a country which challenged batsmen the most in the 50s/60s. On the other hand, he scored very heavily (albeit slowly) against the Asian countries in the subcontinent.

    Hammond again was a grinder of quality of bowling attacks rather than a dominator. This is evident in his strike rates against Australia. He could handle Grimmett and O'Reilly pretty well on those flat and hard Australian decks. But struggled more often against the Aus bowlers in England's softer wickets.

  • Raghav Bihani on June 17, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    @ Anantha: There are some copy paste errors in the 2nd and 3rd tables.

    2nd Table (All); Sobers has an average against WI, which is actually Hammond's figures copied from from the above line. Same for Walcott we have the stats copied from Kallis. In fact walcott line has copied Kallis stats against SL and ZIM as well. Weeks has figures from Barrington.

    3rd Table (Home): Bradman stats against WI are carried over to Walcott, Weekes and Sobers. The 3 WI batsman also have same numbers against SAF where the runs are actually Bradman's.

    I hope it is just a typo and not some bug which affects other tables. Yet to finish reading the article. [[ I use Tableizer to create tables. There is so much oc cutting & pasting that mistakes creep in. Will correct before morning. As far your last para, the best way to check that is to download the tables and check there. Please do it so that I myself will know for sure. Contd... your mention of table rather than graph confused me. The mistakes are really in the graphs. The graph is prepared from an extracted file and copying mistakes. I will correct and send to Cricinfo since they have to copy this themselves. Contd...... Not a big problem. Quite silly. For some players, especially olden ones, the record ended shorter and the previous data stayed on. Have corrected the same. Will be posted tomorrow morning. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on June 17, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    also in home matches against other teams table surprised to see boon's record vs pak 9@18.3..always though boon to be a tough nut to crack in whtever matches i could recall of him though i hv nt seen him much..& at par with sobers u mentioned, IVA Richards with 4@19.2 vs NZL is surprising if not as shocking as sobers

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

    Anantha

    A gem of an analysis..something we cant even think of accomplishing.

    just 2 things to ask.

    in last table..BCL's 18@101 against SL is really out of the world considering SL's bowling prowess owing largely to extremely gud spin bowling & not at all bad pace (vaas etc)was not given a mention at the end of the table..i guess it is just like tht n no hidden meaning to it still im asking. [[ I had set myself a minimum of 20 innings but the average should compensatefor the number 18. Will add. Not really, Nitin. It is only 7 innings at 101. Ananth: ]] 2ndly in same table SRT's 38@53.2 against Aus (1 dismal series 2003 although last match proved his genius) & 30@54.3 aginst Eng (after 2 dismal series..2007 & 2011) in away matches didnt get specific mention. scoring in these countries is always difficult n maintaining gud avg (50+) in longer period is very challenging as evident from records or other gud players such as kallis, ponting, inzi, lax, lara [[ In general I have selected only above 60. 53 is even below SRT's career average. Ananth: ]] finally If u can ans, please put some light on B word tht u mentioned as i could not understand the pun if u intended [[ B is Bradman ???!!! Ananth: ]]

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

    Anantha

    A gem of an analysis..something we cant even think of accomplishing.

    just 2 things to ask.

    in last table..BCL's 18@101 against SL is really out of the world considering SL's bowling prowess owing largely to extremely gud spin bowling & not at all bad pace (vaas etc)was not given a mention at the end of the table..i guess it is just like tht n no hidden meaning to it still im asking. [[ I had set myself a minimum of 20 innings but the average should compensatefor the number 18. Will add. Not really, Nitin. It is only 7 innings at 101. Ananth: ]] 2ndly in same table SRT's 38@53.2 against Aus (1 dismal series 2003 although last match proved his genius) & 30@54.3 aginst Eng (after 2 dismal series..2007 & 2011) in away matches didnt get specific mention. scoring in these countries is always difficult n maintaining gud avg (50+) in longer period is very challenging as evident from records or other gud players such as kallis, ponting, inzi, lax, lara [[ In general I have selected only above 60. 53 is even below SRT's career average. Ananth: ]] finally If u can ans, please put some light on B word tht u mentioned as i could not understand the pun if u intended [[ B is Bradman ???!!! Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on June 17, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    also in home matches against other teams table surprised to see boon's record vs pak 9@18.3..always though boon to be a tough nut to crack in whtever matches i could recall of him though i hv nt seen him much..& at par with sobers u mentioned, IVA Richards with 4@19.2 vs NZL is surprising if not as shocking as sobers

  • Raghav Bihani on June 17, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    @ Anantha: There are some copy paste errors in the 2nd and 3rd tables.

    2nd Table (All); Sobers has an average against WI, which is actually Hammond's figures copied from from the above line. Same for Walcott we have the stats copied from Kallis. In fact walcott line has copied Kallis stats against SL and ZIM as well. Weeks has figures from Barrington.

    3rd Table (Home): Bradman stats against WI are carried over to Walcott, Weekes and Sobers. The 3 WI batsman also have same numbers against SAF where the runs are actually Bradman's.

    I hope it is just a typo and not some bug which affects other tables. Yet to finish reading the article. [[ I use Tableizer to create tables. There is so much oc cutting & pasting that mistakes creep in. Will correct before morning. As far your last para, the best way to check that is to download the tables and check there. Please do it so that I myself will know for sure. Contd... your mention of table rather than graph confused me. The mistakes are really in the graphs. The graph is prepared from an extracted file and copying mistakes. I will correct and send to Cricinfo since they have to copy this themselves. Contd...... Not a big problem. Quite silly. For some players, especially olden ones, the record ended shorter and the previous data stayed on. Have corrected the same. Will be posted tomorrow morning. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on June 18, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Not surprised at all at the better "away" performance of Barrington and Hammond in comparison with their "home" averages.

    Barrington was a very fine player of slow bowling. But not quite as brilliant against genuine pace. Which explains his underperformance in England - a country which challenged batsmen the most in the 50s/60s. On the other hand, he scored very heavily (albeit slowly) against the Asian countries in the subcontinent.

    Hammond again was a grinder of quality of bowling attacks rather than a dominator. This is evident in his strike rates against Australia. He could handle Grimmett and O'Reilly pretty well on those flat and hard Australian decks. But struggled more often against the Aus bowlers in England's softer wickets.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on June 18, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Viv did have a poor return against NZ. But this was concentrated in 1986-87, when Windies were running thin on their bowling, with Holding retiring midway through the series, West Indies nearly picking up the wooden spoon in Perth Challenge one day tournament, Marshall mysteriously beginning to slow down, and Richards' own form coming off after a very sharp spurt after assuming captaincy in 1985. In the one day series he did become the first (and I believe till now the only) man to take 5 wickets and make a century in a one day match, but overall, the brilliance of Hadlee and Martin Crowe proved too much for the West Indies in their attempt to win the test series. The team was also riddled with tension, and it took an year for the West Indies and Richards himself to re-discover form, and England and Australia suffered heavily when West Indies visited.

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Hi Ananth/all, just wondering about the adjusted average (and ABQ). Firstly, it seems a little strange that only 3 of the 40 odd batsmen listed in the table, according to the ABQ, faced better than average bowling attacks - Gooch, Atherton, and Stewart from memory. You`ve probably gone into more detail before about how you arrived at the figure 31.79 - is it simply the sum of the bowling average of every bowler divided by the number of bowlers? or are there more adjustments which take into account number of balls bowled/ wickets taken et al.? [[ 31.79 is the all-time bowling average across 2000+ tests and over 50000 wkts. In reality it does not matter what number we use. All averages are multiplied by this number. We could use 30 or 31.79 or 34. Ananth: ]] Based on those figures, disregarding the aforementioned `B`, Sobers` adjusted average of 57 plus (almost 10% better than Lara or Tendulkar) gives real credibility to those old-timers who still claim that he is the best batsman they have ever seen.

    Similarly, Greg Chappell, who I often feel is given rather short shrift on this site, sits proudly in 3rd position. I hate to carp on his WSC exploits, but they would have consolidated this position.

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    Just an interesting little exercise in objectivity for everyone - have a look at the `All Matches vs Other Teams` table. Focus on performances against your nation. Notice a positive correlation between those figures and the way you would rank those players? I certainly do.

    It`s a completely natural thing. We must remember that until very recently (advent of the internet/pay TV etc.)it was impossible to watch much live cricket. Often you couldn`t even watch your team in away matches.

    I still find myself thinking `Gooch, Stewart, Atherton, Kirsten... really??...hardly remember them scoring a run against the Aussies.` Even Kallis, can picture a couple of boring fifties, apart from that ...not much.`

    Best to look at the bigger picture I suppose. It remains a difficult habit to get out of, however.

  • Som on June 18, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    Ananth - Great article. One of the things it brings out is how good Greg Chappell was.

    One thing though would be interesting to look at. I believe dividing by the 'average bowling quality', is a linear relationship, and I suspect with the ABQ getting better, the batting becomes harder in a non-linear way. One way to look at this is to see averages of batsmen whose career ABQ fell within certain ABQ bands (say between 30-31) and apply those averages (of batting average) to understand the function. [[ The ABQ is really a narrow band between 30 and 38. if you ignore the few English batsmen who are outliers at 40+. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on June 18, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    Just for the record, and since you asked , Ananth. Here are my submissions for best performances `Home matches versus other teams`

    vs Australia: Chanderpaul, 17 innings @ 80.4 vs England: Mahela, 18 @ 89 vs India: Ponting, 26 @ 86 vs NZ: Javed Miandad, 15 @ 82.6 vs Pakistan: Ponting, 16 @ 69.9 vs South Africa: Ponting, 22 @ 58.2 vs Sri Lanka: Dravid, 11 @ 76.9 vs Windies: Kallis, 21 @ 94.3 [[ 11 innings means 6/7 Tests and is too short a number. That is the reason why I have put more faith in the number of innings. Ananth: ]] As far as overseas performances go, Allan Border has a stunning record. He played in probably the most difficult period for batting since the very early days of test-match cricket. The only other people from his era to average over 50 were G.Chappell, Gavaskar, and Sir Viv. He averaged almost 57 away, and almost 55 in the 2nd innings. Hard as nails, and still doesn`t get nearly enough credit for his achievements. His legacy still resonates in the Australian team 35 years on.

    7th in adjusted averages of the 40 players in the table suggests he was one of the true greats.

  • Darren Lucas on June 18, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    The Adjusted Batting Average makes interesting reading, looking at the 50+ group: Bradman, Sobers, Walcott, Weekes, Chappell, Lara, Barrington, Tendulkar, Kallis and Sutcliffe. Chappell was a nice surprise in this group, I always loved watching his elegant batting, (but when he was bad he was very bad - Chappell0, underarm et al). He certainly had to face a fair number of difficult attacks in many conditions. A really interesting method indeed, ty again for a feast of fun facts and figures :) [[ By getting Bradman down by 12%to 88, the whole spectrum of averages now seems more acceptable. Ananth: ]]