The ODI batting giants: part 2
This is part two of the article on ODI Batting giants. The first part covered the standard measures. In this article I will be looking at certain special performance measures. Despite the requests by several readers, I have retained the same fifteen batsmen, in order to be consistent. However I am open to select a subset of these two articles, say 8-9 tables, and do the analysis for all ODI batsmen. This will depend on the readers' comments.
Though I could not satisfy all requests, a couple of tables were added to the few planned based on the the comments received. Since I already had seven tables planned I could not take in all requests. Also, where there were two suggestions on a single measure, say the Index, I have opted for the simpler one.
|Innings||ImpactInns||% ImpactInns||Inns-TopScored||% TopScores||Inns-Second TS||TS Points||TS Index||MOMs||MOM Frequency|
I am sure readers could justifiably comment that a 110 had no impact on the match while a 21 at No.7 had greater impact. I concede that. A context-driven innings ratings work, on the anvil, would bring out all such nuances. However here we are looking at players' careers at a macro level. Hence I have developed logical, easy-to-understand definitions to determine impact innings by the batsmen. The rules are given below. The idea is that it is easier for the top-order batsmen to score more runs, score a higher percentage of team runs but will score at lower rates, more often than not. The late-order batsmen are unlikely to accumulate runs and score higher percentage of team runs but are likely to score at a much faster rate. It is certain that some tweaks of the following numbers could be suggested. However these are based on common sense and are applied across all batsmen. My advice to readers is not to split hairs on these numbers and concentrate on the broad picture.
Definition of Impact innings
Runs scored 100 or more OR
Runs scored 50 or more and % of Team Runs 33% or more OR
Runs scored 50 or more and Relative Scoring Rate 125 or more.
Runs scored 75 or more OR
Runs scored 40 or more and % of Team Runs 25% or more OR
Runs scored 40 or more and Relative Scoring Rate 137.5 or more.
Runs scored 50 or more OR
Runs scored 25 or more and % of Team Runs 20% or more OR
Runs scored 25 or more and Relative Scoring Rate 150 or more.
Relative scoring rate = Individual SR / Team SR.
Richards leads the table with an impressive tally of 30.5% in the impact innings measure. That is just under one-in-three. He is way ahead of the next best, in this case, Miandad with 22.9% and Martin Crowe, with 22.7%. All three played their cricket before the 1990s. Dhoni and Tendulkar follow next. Jayasuriya's uncertain career moves are reflected in his 14.1% value. And I am sure most of these would have been in the second third of his career.
For the Innings Top score analysis I have adopted an intriguing method. For this I only consider the innings in which the batsman either top-scored or was the second-best score. Let us define these as PR, HS1 and HS2, where PR is the player runs and the other two represent the top two scores. It is easier to represent this in a formulaic fashion. If PR equal to HS1, then add PR/HS2 (will be above 1.00) to the TS points value, otherwise, add PR/HS1 (will be below 1.00). Finally divide this by the total number of innings played to arrive at the TS-Index. Higher TS-Index values indicate higher players performances at around the top of team scores.
First the % of innings the batsman top-scored. Richards (how often do we see him at the top in these performance based measures) with 32.3% of his innings being top scores. Martin Crowe follows close with 31.9% and then there is some daylight and Tendulkar at 28.5%. As expected, Dhoni, batting at the late order positions, has top scored only 15.8%. Richards is also in the top position of the TS-Index table, with a value 0.70. Tendulkar is next with 0.62 and Martin Crowe follows with 0.61. The way this index value is structured, it is not easy to even finish with 0.50.
Now comes the often subjective but important measure of MOM awards received. For sheer number of awards, Tendulkar, having played over 450 innings, leads with 60 awards. However the performance measure for this is the MOM-frequency which is Innings per MOM award. Who leads? Who leads? None other than Richards, with a very low figure of 5.39 inns per MOM. The next best is Tendulkar, requiring 7.5 innings per MOM and then, Martin Crowe, with a MOM every 7.83 innings. Incidentally Amla's TS-Index is 0.77 and he wins a MOM every 6.5 innings.
These are all performance-based analyses and it is amazing that Richards leads in each and every one of these.
|WC - F&SF, CT - F||Significant matches||Early matches|
This is a very important table to measure how the batsmen contributed in important tournaments. I have been quite tough in fixing the qualification criteria. I have only considered the 10 Word Cups and 6 Champions Trophy tournaments. There may be other 6/7-team tournaments. But only true World level tournaments make the cut.
I have looked at the performances in three categories. The first consists of the really important tournament-winning matches: World Cup Finals, Semi-Finals and Champions Trophy Finals. The second category consists of the significant later stage matches: Super-Six matches, Quarter-Finals and Champions Trophy Semi-Finals. The third category consists of all other matches in these tournaments.
In the first category, Tendulkar, Ponting, Gilchrist and Richards have exceeded 300 runs. This is reflected in their teams' successes. The average does not mean much. Hence only RpI is shown. More important than that is the total number of runs scored. Look at Gilchrist's strike rate in these matches, exceeding 115. Tendulkar has scored 331 runs, at a much lower strike rate.
Ponting leads in the significant matches category, with over 1300 runs. Kallis comes in next with exactly 1000 runs, outlining his importance to South Africa in these key matches. There is nothing for Richards since these matches were non-existent during the first 3/4 World Cups. Tendulkar is the run-away leader in the third category, with nearly 1600 runs, at an excellent strike rate. Lara follows next with just over 1000 runs and Miandad has also done well considering that he played only in World Cups.
It should be noted that all these three classifications are mutually exclusive. Tendulkar has scored a staggering 2700+ runs in these important world level tournaments. He missed the first four editions of the World Cup.
|Batsman||Inns||NOs||Runs||Balls||Avge||S/R||RpI||Index||BatPosAvge||Best BP||BBP Inns||BBP Runs||BBP RpI|
This is a revision of the ODI Batting Index. I have adopted Deepak's suggestion and got a revised Index value. His suggestion that the Index could be "Average x Strike Rate x Share of team runs" has a lot going for it. The top order batsmen who could lose on average because of decreased number of not-outs are likely to score a higher % of team runs. The compensation may not be complete but at least there would be a partial compensation. The "share of team runs" is also a dimension-less value. Richards scored 19.2% of his team runs, Tendulkar, 18% and Jayasuriya, 14.3%. The average seems to be around 16%. It should be understood that this analysis is valid only across the entire career since only then does the % of team runs have meaning.
What do we have here? This clearly shows how far ahead Viv Richards is. His revised Index value is 8.16 and is nearly 15% ahead of Tendulkar, the second-best. Dhoni is next, a very high average of 51 contributing to this position. Quite a number of batsmen are in the sub-5 level indicating how tough it is to get a high value in this revised index. Just out of interest, Amla (57.81/0.922/0.21) hits the ceiling with a stupendous Index value of 11.2. de Villiers has an imposing 7.8 and Kohli, an equally good 7.4.
The average batting position is self-explanatory. The only additional information needed is that both openers are assigned 1 as the batting position. Thus the batsmen who spent the better part of their careers opening the batting, such as Gilchrist, Jayasuriya and Tendulkar have Avge Batpos values below 2.0. The lower the value, the more often the batsman has opened. The best batting position numbers are based on runs scored. There could be other positions in which the batsmen could have averaged more. There is no surprise. Tendulkar, Jayasuriya, Mark Waugh and Gilchrist have excelled in the opening positions. Dhoni and Bevan in position number 6. And the others in the middle-order positions (3/4/5).
|Batsman||3/4 Inns||3/4 NOs||3/4 Runs||3/4 Balls||3/4 Avge||3/4 S/R||3/4 RpI||3/4 Index|
This is again based on a request from a few readers. They asked me to do a table for runs made in positions 3 and 4 also. This would round up the batting analysis since I have already covered opening, 5 and 6 positions. It is obvious that 3 and 4 are the key positions usually occupied by the best batsmen: Richards, Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara et al. I decided to combine the 3 & 4 into a single analysis.
Look at Richards. An average of 52 when he bats in these pivotal positions, at a strike rate of 89 leads to an Index value of 39. He is far ahead, to the tune of 30%, of the next best significant players, Ponting and Lara, clocking in at just above 30. Ponting, however, has scored millions of runs at these key positions. Dhoni's numbers are high, but too few innings have been played.
|Batsman||Runs||TeamRuns||% Runs||Balls||TeamBalls||% Balls||Ratio|
This is a straight-forward % of player numbers out of total team numbers. More important than the numbers are the ratios between the two numbers. This gives a clear idea of the % of out-performance for each player. Richards out-performed his team mates by 24%. Jayasuriya, by 14% and Gilchrist, by 11%. Kallis and Bevan are at the other end of the table. It should be noted that for want of complete data on when the batsman was dismissed, this analysis is based on the total team score. Hence please apply some caveats when using this.
|First Innings||Second Innings|
|Batsman||Inns||Runs||Balls||RpI||S/R||Inns||Runs||Balls||RpI||S/R||RpI % First-to-Second|
This analysis looks at the performances of batsmen while batting first or second. Nothing is gained by looking across batsmen. It is necessary to look within batsman. Richards, Mark Waugh, Jayasuriya, Ponting et al have performed better setting up the target than while chasing. Gilchrist, Martin Crowe, Bevan, Miandad et al have done better while chasing. I leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions. Richards has the biggest positive difference and Gilchrist, the highest negative difference.
|Home matches||Neutral locations||Away matches|
This is a location-based analysis. The matches are split into Home, Away and Neutral locations since many matches are played in neutral locations and many World Cups have two outside teams playing. It is interesting to note that most batsmen play more outside their home location. Tendulkar was the best performer at home, closely followed by Inzamam and Dhoni. Pietersen, albeit in very few innings, was masterful in neutral locations, followed by Tendulkar, in nearly 150 innings. Richards was the king in outside locations. Ponting was also quite good. Look at the magnificent strike rates of Gilchrist everywhere, Jayasuriya on neutral and away grounds and Richards in outside locations.
|Won matches||Lost matches|
|Batsman||Inns||Runs||Balls||RpI||S/R||Inns||Runs||Balls||RpI||S/R||RpI % Won-to-Lost|
Wins are achieved by teams. However this analysis completes the huge exercise. It is certain that the winning RpI values for all these batsmen would be much higher than the RpI in losing matches. The difference ranges from very little for Pietersen (3% difference) to very high for Lara (98% difference).
I have created 16 tables for these selected 15 batsmen. Many readers have suggested that other batsmen should have been considered. Ganguly has had quite a few votes. Hence I will select 8-9 tables out of these, based on readers' responses. I will then do the analysis across all batsmen, subject to a minimum number of innings or runs, and come out with an ordered set of tables. This will ensure that there is fair representation across all players and it would be a performance-centric article.
Any doubts in deciding on the best ODI batsman have been clearly dispelled. The leading position of Viv Richards in many of these tables indicates that he is, unarguably, the best ODI batsmen of all time. This is supported by the fact that there is considerable gap between Richards and the next batsman in many measures. All this was done when the rest of the world scored at around 70 and the target for most teams was 250. He also did not have any powerplays assisting him. Not just the "Master Blaster" but the "Master".
Any number of IPL matches, with coloured clothing, Bollywood stars, million-dollar players, imported cheerleaders and umpteen numbers of sixes cannot match those last 15 minutes at Eden Park, Auckland. Those dot balls were far more important than many a six hit. Who cares if Prior does not have an IPL contract? He can hold his head high. Panesar faces 5 balls, probably more important than many a wicket he has captured. Test Cricket lives, and how! And from next week onwards, the sublime to the big-brash-bash.
And my fervent prayers go to Jesse Ryder to get well soon. A great character with undeniable talent, with a special fascination for the Indian attack: all three of his hundreds were scored off the Indian bowlers.