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June 17, 2012

Test batting: location summary, by innings and vs country

Anantha Narayanan

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.

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

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Posted by Arjun on (July 3, 2012, 14:32 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: ]]

Posted by Waspsting on (July 2, 2012, 12:37 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.

Posted by Ranga on (July 2, 2012, 7:00 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: ]]

Posted by ad captandum on (July 2, 2012, 6:28 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.

Posted by Waspsting on (July 1, 2012, 12:15 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.

Posted by Boll on (July 1, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

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

Posted by Boll on (July 1, 2012, 8:59 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.

Posted by Alex on (July 1, 2012, 5:08 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.

Posted by Alex on (July 1, 2012, 4:55 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.

Posted by Ravi M on (July 1, 2012, 3:41 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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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