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July 6, 2013

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Steyn, Anderson and Harbhajan versus the batsmen

Anantha Narayanan
Dale Steyn has dismissed Mohammad Hafeez eight times in seven Tests, cheaply at that  © Getty Images
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This is the article, the first of a series, using ball-by-ball data, which the readers have repeatedly asked for during the past three years. I wish I could have done it in the previous avatar of my blog, where there would have been 500 comments and wonderful exchanges between readers. Now, I expect 35 comments, although, I presume many read the articles but do not comment because of the hassle associated with that process. Anyhow, nothing can be done about that.

A word of sincere thanks to ESPNcricinfo for the wonderful and sustained effort in doing the ball-by-ball commentary over the past 12 years. They have set a standard of excellence unreached in the past and possibly never in the future. All of us, the cricket lovers, owe them a lot. And all these, without paying a single paisa/penny/cent. May their tribe flourish!

The major credit for getting this analysis work completed should vest with Milind Pandit. I do not want to emphasise the technical aspects. My extensive "C" knowledge lets me mine the data extensively, make the numbers dance and create analysis of different types across and in depth. But I lack the required knowledge for extracting extensive data from the web. Milind is a master in this area. He extracted the ball-by-ball commentary, parsed the same, validated and cleared errors and sent me a 50MB file. A single sentence, but about six weeks of intense effort. I, then, incorporated that huge data segment into my database in my own format and this is the first of, hopefully, many articles to come, based on the huge and exhaustive data base.

I wanted this article to be a co-authored one, with Milind, but the reluctant contributor that he is, he declined. But I will say that this entire analysis would have been still-born but for Milind. May his tribe flourish too! This analysis is named AMB3.

We have complete ball-by-ball data for Tests 1546 to 2089, barring 1553. This fact has to be kept in mind when viewing all AMB3 analyses. We do not have complete data for many modern greats. But we will make by with what we have. After all, there is no need to be rigid in this regard. Whatever insights we draw are like gold dust.

I am going to do the following types of analyses over the next three to four months. Readers can contribute their bit in suggesting whether anything else can be done.

1. The top three modern bowlers: with over 85% of ball-by-ball data available (15 bowlers: Dale Steyn/James Anderson/Harbhajan Singh are featured).
2. The top three previous generation bowlers: with over 40% of ball-by-ball data available (12-15 bowlers: Muttiah Muralitharan/Shane Warne/Glenn McGrath will be featured).
3. The top three modern batsmen: with over 80-85% of ball-by-ball data available.
4. The top three previous generation batsmen: with over 40-45% of ball-by-ball data available.
5. Special analyses, to be decided as we go on, based on reader inputs.

The first analysis will cover the bowlers for whom over 80% of data is available and, wherever possible, over 200 Test wickets have been captured. I have selected 15 bowlers. This article features three top bowlers who are currently active. The selection of three is simple. Two bowlers select themselves. Dale Steyn and James Anderson are almost automatic selections. Only the myopic can question the inclusion of these two. The third selection is a headache. Harbhajan Singh, Graeme Swann, Steve Harmison, Mathew Hoggard, Rangana Herath and Mitchell Johnson present themselves for selection.

Johnson has as many off days as on days and his average is quite high. Herath's success is primarily in Sri Lanka: nearly 70% of his wickets have been captured there. Harmison and Hoggard have retired long back. That leaves us with Swann and Harbhajan. Swann is the traditional offspinner, probably the best after Erapalli Prasanna. He has succeeded all over the world, taken more wickets outside England. However Harbhajan, for whom we have just over 90% of data available, has captured 413 wickets overall and 360 wickets during the covered period. So he gets the nod. That leaves us with Steyn, Anderson and Harbhajan as the featured bowlers. Please note that the complete data for all 15 bowlers is available for downloading.

I am not going to spend too much time on explaining the types of analyses which are possible. It is better that we move on to the tables. Let us see the eight tables for Steyn. Even when commenting on the tables I will offer minimal comments.

D W Steyn

1. Ordered by Wickets in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsRunsWicketsStrikeRateAvgeVsBowler
Mohammad Hafeez 35.1214 130 87 8 16.2 10.88
MJ Clarke 52.3419 376 253 7 53.7 36.14
MEK Hussey 51.5317 228 89 7 32.6 12.71
IJL Trott 50.0111 150 65 7 21.4 9.29
V Sehwag 49.3416 257 208 7 36.7 29.71
Harbhajan Singh 18.3610 59 34 7 8.4 4.86
BB McCullum 35.3915 224 129 6 37.3 21.50
Younis Khan 50.7413 293 149 5 58.6 29.80
SM Katich 45.0312 291 162 5 58.2 32.40
RT Ponting 51.8714 228 144 4 57.0 36.00
Total for 10 batsmen 22361320 63 35.5 20.95

An innings is counted when the bowler bowls at least a single ball to the batsman. Mohammad Hafeez is the only batsman whose wicket has been captured eight times, that too very economically. Both BpW (Balls-per-Wicket: Strike Rate) and Avge figures are way below the batsman career figures. There are many batsmen at seven wickets. The most noteworthy one is Jonathan Trott, who has been dismissed by Steyn, once every 22 balls. His average against Steyn is around 20% of his career figure. Out of this lot, no one has even exceeded 60 balls per wicket. The top ten batsmen in this regard have been dismissed at a very low strike rate of 35.5. No wonder that Steyn's career strike rate is 41.1.

2. Ordered by Balls bowled in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
MJ Clarke 52.3419 37625367.3% 9425.0%30 8.0%
AJ Strauss 40.9116 36028178.1% 5114.2%28 7.8%
AN Cook 49.1812 32925978.7% 5215.8%19 5.8%
IR Bell 45.5813 31024177.7% 4915.8%20 6.5%
SR Tendulkar 53.8711 31023977.1% 5016.1%21 6.8%
Younis Khan 50.7413 29322576.8% 5117.4%19 6.5%
SM Katich 45.0312 29121473.5% 5920.3%19 6.5%
V Sehwag 49.3416 25717266.9% 5119.8%3413.2%
S Chanderpaul 51.82 9 23118278.8% 4419.0% 7 3.0%
RT Ponting 51.8714 22816672.8% 4519.7%17 7.5%

Michael Clarke has faced the maximum number of balls and has scored off a third of the balls he faced. Most of the others have been quite circumspect, including Sachin Tendulkar who has faced 310 balls.

3. Ordered by Runs scored in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
MJ Clarke 52.3419 376 253 67.325367.3% 9425.0%30 8.0%
V Sehwag 49.3416 257 208 80.917266.9% 5119.8%3413.2%
AJ Strauss 40.9116 360 182 50.628178.1% 5114.2%28 7.8%
SM Katich 45.0312 291 162 55.721473.5% 5920.3%19 6.5%
KP Pietersen 49.0111 187 155 82.913572.2% 2412.8%3016.0%
Younis Khan 50.7413 293 149 50.922576.8% 5117.4%19 6.5%
PJ Hughes 33.0010 220 149 67.715470.0% 4319.5%2310.5%
SR Tendulkar 53.8711 310 149 48.123977.1% 5016.1%21 6.8%
AN Cook 49.1812 329 147 44.725978.7% 5215.8%19 5.8%
IR Bell 45.5813 310 144 46.524177.7% 4915.8%20 6.5%

Clarke is on top with a good scoring rate. However look at Virender Sehwag who has an excellent 80+ scoring rate. Kevin Pietersen is still better at 83.

4. Ordered by Bowling strike rate (High) in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
Azhar Ali 99.6 8 228 1228.0
PJ Hughes 60.010 220 1220.0
KC Sangakkara 97.1 8 203 1203.0
AJ Strauss 80.816 360 2180.0
W Jaffer 69.7 8 161 1161.0
PD Collingwood 79.7 5 153 0153.0
TT Samaraweera 88.2 6 150 0150.0
S Chanderpaul 100.5 9 231 2115.5
AN Cook 97.112 329 3109.7
SP Fleming 82.8 8 215 2107.5
Total for 10 batsmen 2250 13173.1

These are the batsmen who sold their wickets very dearly to Steyn. And they succeeded. For the division in this analysis 0 wkt is taken as 1. Who would have expected Azhar Ali and Phillip Hughes to top the table? Probably the most praiseworthy is Andrew Strauss who has a BpW figure of 180 over 360 balls. Paul Collingwood and Thilan Samaraweera were bloody-minded. They told Steyn, "You are the best bowler in the world. But you will not dismiss us". It took 173 balls for Steyn to get rid of each of these obdurate batsmen, nearly four times his career strike rate.

5. Ordered by Bowling Strike rate (Low - Top order batsmen) in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
Mohammad Ashraful 49.9 6 26 3 8.7
NJ Astle 69.2 6 33 3 11.0
N Deonarine 66.0 4 59 4 14.8
TM Dilshan 57.8 8 50 3 16.7
Mohammad Hafeez 60.314 130 8 16.2
AF Giles 37.9 5 53 3 17.7
GP Swann 25.4 8 78 4 19.5
IJL Trott 98.211 150 7 21.4
SB Styris 64.4 9 99 4 24.8
Tamim Iqbal 61.4 8 97 4 24.2
Total for 10 batsmen 775 43 18.0

Now for the low strike rates. Three wickets are necessary to be considered as minimum for this table. To get proper insights I have split this table into two. One for the proper batsmen, averages exceeding 20 and the other for late order batsmen. Mohammad Hafeez, Nathan Astle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Trott are the leading batsmen in this table. All have lost wickets more frequent than once every 25 balls. These batsmen were dismissed at around 40% of Steyn's career strike rate.

6. Ordered by Bowling Strike rate (Low - Late order batsmen) in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
IE O'Brien 16.7 3 10 3 3.3
CS Martin 5.9 6 18 4 4.5
RP Singh 14.5 3 21 3 7.0
Harbhajan Singh 23.810 59 7 8.4
DAJ Bracewell 22.8 5 36 4 9.0
NM Lyon 22.1 5 49 3 16.3
JE Taylor 23.5 6 56 3 18.7
PM Siddle 28.311 95 3 31.7
Total for 10 batsmen 344 30 11.5

Are we seeing it correctly? There is a late-order batsman who is above our dear Chris Martin. Iain O'Brien faced only ten balls and was dismissed three times. Martin was dismissed four times but he faced a whopping eight balls more. Look at how competently Peter Siddle has batted.

7. Ordered by Batting Scoring rate (High) in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareerScRtInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
CH Gayle 59.8 9 122 115 94.3 7662.3% 3125.4%1814.8%
MG Johnson 58.611 148 133 89.9 9966.9% 2919.6%2114.2%
KP Pietersen 62.811 187 155 82.913572.2% 2412.8%3016.0%
V Sehwag 82.216 257 208 80.917266.9% 5119.8%3413.2%
DL Vettori 58.110 127 94 74.0 8869.3% 2418.9%1511.8%
MJ Prior 63.0 9 135 101 74.8 8965.9% 3123.0%1511.1%
MJ Clarke 55.819 376 253 67.325367.3% 9425.0%30 8.0%
PJ Hughes 53.810 220 149 67.715470.0% 4319.5%2310.5%
Mohammad Hafeez 53.614 130 87 66.9 9774.6% 1914.6%1410.8%
KC Sangakkara 54.0 8 203 131 64.515073.9% 3316.3%2110.3%
Total for 10 batsmen 19051426 74.9

These are the batsmen who decided that even if it was Steyn bowling, he had to go for runs. Chris Gayle, Pietersen and Sehwag are predictably the top placed batsmen, with scoring rates exceeding 80. But they have a usurper in the middle. Somehow, Mitchell Johnson has taken a liking for Steyn's bowling, scoring at 90. Look at the boundary ball percentage of Pietersen, with 16% and Gayle/Johnson, at 14%. That means Pietersen hit a boundary for each over Steyn bowled to him. Steyn's propensity to attack is shown by the very high scoring rate of these ten batsmen.

8. Ordered by Batting Scoring rate (Low) in DW STEYN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCarScrRtInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
D Ganga 38.9 6 106 23 21.7 9185.8% 1413.2% 1 0.9%
KS Williamson 40.3 8 151 37 24.513086.1% 1811.9% 3 2.0%
Misbah-ul-Haq 40.710 207 58 28.018388.4% 16 7.7% 9 4.3%
TT Samaraweera 46.9 6 150 50 33.312784.7% 1812.0% 6 4.0%
MHW Papps 35.3 7 101 37 36.6 8685.1% 9 8.9% 6 5.9%
S Chanderpaul 42.9 9 231 90 39.018278.8% 4419.0% 7 3.0%
MJ Guptill 43.410 190 73 38.416084.2% 18 9.5%12 6.3%
Junaid Siddique 41.4 7 114 45 39.5 9179.8% 1714.9% 6 5.3%
MEK Hussey 50.117 228 89 39.018581.1% 3314.5%12 5.3%
W Jaffer 48.1 8 161 67 41.613282.0% 2113.0% 9 5.6%
Total for 10 batsmen 1639 569 34.7

These batsmen hung on for dear life. It did not matter to them that the dot-ball percentage was 85+ or that they hit a boundary every 25 balls but survival was a must. Shivnarine Chanderpaul has played maximum number of balls in this group. Michael Hussey follows closely.

J M Anderson

9. Ordered by Wickets in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsRunsWicketsStrikeRateAvgeVsBowler
SR Tendulkar 53.8723 350 208 9 38.9 23.11
JH Kallis 56.1022 419 177 7 59.9 25.29
KC Sangakkara 56.9910 241 147 6 40.2 24.50
MJ Clarke 52.3419 255 153 6 42.5 25.50
GC Smith 48.6327 701 411 6116.8 68.50
MV Boucher 30.3021 273 161 6 45.5 26.83
R Dravid 52.3118 432 197 5 86.4 39.40
V Sehwag 49.3414 109 120 5 21.8 24.00
AG Prince 41.6513 247 113 5 49.4 22.60
RT Ponting 51.8719 347 233 4 86.8 58.25
Total for 10 batsmen 33741920 59 57.2 32.54

Tendulkar leading the table is not a surprise seeing that eight Tests have been played during the past two years. Note the high quality of Anderson wickets: almost all are top-order batsmen. Anderson has taken nearly ten overs for each of these wickets.

10. Ordered by Balls bowled in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
GC Smith 48.6327 70150471.9%14220.3%57 8.1%
R Dravid 52.3118 43234980.8% 5011.6%33 7.6%
HM Amla 52.1215 42931072.3% 8419.6%37 8.6%
SR Watson 35.3415 42733879.2% 5512.9%34 8.0%
MEK Hussey 51.5317 42432376.2% 7517.7%26 6.1%
JH Kallis 56.1022 41933780.4% 6014.3%23 5.5%
G Gambhir 44.1916 39833183.2% 4310.8%24 6.0%
AB de Villiers 50.5116 39330377.1% 6616.8%26 6.6%
SR Tendulkar 53.8723 35026074.3% 5616.0%34 9.7%
RT Ponting 51.8719 34724570.6% 7020.2%33 9.5%

England and South Africa seem to have played quite often. The combination of Anderson-Graeme Smith is over 700 balls. This is way above the next highest. This collection is a top-ten list of batsmen over the past few years.

11. Ordered by Runs scored in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
GC Smith 48.6327 701 411 58.650471.9%14220.3%57 8.1%
HM Amla 52.1215 429 254 59.231072.3% 8419.6%37 8.6%
RT Ponting 51.8719 347 233 67.124570.6% 7020.2%33 9.5%
SR Watson 35.3415 427 217 50.833879.2% 5512.9%34 8.0%
MEK Hussey 51.5317 424 214 50.532376.2% 7517.7%26 6.1%
SR Tendulkar 53.8723 350 208 59.426074.3% 5616.0%34 9.7%
MS Dhoni 39.7119 347 201 57.925874.4% 5917.0%32 9.2%
R Dravid 52.3118 432 197 45.634980.8% 5011.6%33 7.6%
AB de Villiers 50.5116 393 193 49.130377.1% 6616.8%26 6.6%
RR Sarwan 40.0111 312 190 60.923374.7% 4815.4%3210.3%

This follows a similar sequence to the balls played table. Graeme Smith is the runaway leader, with 411 runs. Note how quickly Ricky Ponting has scored.

12. Ordered by Bowling strike rate (High) in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
RR Sarwan 81.111 312 1312.0
HM Amla 90.915 429 2214.5
TT Samaraweera 88.2 8 204 1204.0
AB de Villiers 82.016 393 2196.5
SM Katich 85.7 9 183 1183.0
AN Petersen 72.7 5 172 1172.0
S Chanderpaul 100.514 339 2169.5
G Kirsten 95.4 7 167 0167.0
CA Pujara 101.9 5 160 0160.0
MN Samuels 71.3 4 158 0158.0
Total for 10 batsmen 2517 10251.7

Ramnaresh Sarwan has lasted 312 balls and been dismissed once. Hashim Amla has been equally effective, lasting 429 balls for two dismissals. The high numbers for Amla, AB de Villiers, Alviro Petersen and Smith (117) makes me think that Anderson was not that successful against the South African top order. Gary Kirsten, Cheteshwar Pujara and Marlon Samuels have lasted 150 balls and did not lose their wicket to Anderson. Well over 40 overs were required for Anderson to capture each of these tough-to-dislodge batsmen.

13. Ordered by Bowling Strike rate (Low - Top order batsmen) in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
Shoaib Malik 67.0 3 33 3 11.0
AJ Redmond 56.1 6 60 4 15.0
HDRL Thirimanne 61.8 6 69 4 17.2
V Sehwag 58.014 109 5 21.8
SK Raina 49.7 4 70 3 23.3
DG Brownlie 63.5 7 102 4 25.5
JM How 43.710 140 4 35.0
SPD Smith 61.3 6 110 3 36.7
SR Tendulkar 89.623 350 9 38.9
Imran Farhat 64.5 8 152 4 38.0
Total for 10 batsmen 1195 43 27.8

The "batsmen" are included in this table. The really top batsmen in this collection are the two Indian stalwarts. Sehwag's discomfiture against the lateral movement is well known. Also, this reflects the past eight Tests. However Tendulkar's record against Anderson is surprising. His BpW is below 50, contrast this with his 100+ BpW against Steyn. 26 balls per wicket is a fairly low strike rate considering that these were all top-flight batsmen.

14. Ordered by Bowling SR (Low - Late order batsmen), ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
Umar Gul 18.0 5 48 3 16.0
Z Khan 18.6 7 49 3 16.3
PM Siddle 28.310 87 4 21.8
DW Steyn 25.4 7 78 3 26.0
LMP Simmons 37.1 6 83 3 27.7
Total for 10 batsmen 345 16 21.6

Nothing specific to say here.

15. Ordered by Batting Scoring rate (High) in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareerScRtInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
V Sehwag 82.214 109 120110.1 6156.0% 2623.9%2220.2%
BB McCullum 60.412 132 136103.0 7859.1% 3627.3%1914.4%
LRPL Taylor 57.713 225 187 83.115568.9% 4118.2%3214.2%
HH Gibbs 50.3 8 190 159 83.713772.1% 2513.2%3116.3%
BJ Haddin 57.412 206 151 73.314469.9% 4119.9%2210.7%
HD Rutherford 65.7 8 137 97 70.8 9871.5% 2216.1%1712.4%
RT Ponting 58.719 347 233 67.124570.6% 7020.2%33 9.5%
G Kirsten 43.4 7 167 111 66.512373.7% 2615.6%1810.8%
CH Gayle 59.811 160 101 63.111974.4% 2616.2%1610.0%
JM How 50.410 140 86 61.410776.4% 1913.6%1510.7%
Total for 10 batsmen 18131381 76.2

Sehwag and McCullum exceeded 100. Sehwag hit a boundary every 5 balls against Anderson but also lost his wicket every 20 balls. One scatter-brained batting strategy indeed. McCullum at least lost his wicket only 3 times. If anything, Anderson was more expensive than Steyn.

16. Ordered by Batting Scoring rate (Low) in JM ANDERSON-Batsman combination
BatsmanCarScrRtInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
D Ramdin 48.3 7 182 45 24.715685.7% 2212.1% 4 2.2%
MJ North 48.1 8 195 50 25.617388.7% 16 8.2% 7 3.6%
PG Fulton 42.4 9 295 88 29.825787.1% 26 8.8%12 4.1%
AN Petersen 50.9 5 172 52 30.214785.5% 17 9.9% 8 4.7%
Imran Farhat 48.3 8 152 49 32.213186.2% 12 7.9% 9 5.9%
Azhar Ali 39.110 241 81 33.620384.2% 2811.6%11 4.6%
Misbah-ul-Haq 40.7 4 107 36 33.6 8680.4% 1816.8% 3 2.8%
HAPW Jayawardene 50.1 7 102 37 36.3 8583.3% 1312.7% 4 3.9%
BP Nash 43.3 8 121 44 36.410082.6% 1613.2% 6 5.0%
MN Samuels 48.5 4 158 60 38.012881.0% 2213.9% 8 5.1%
Total for 10 batsmen 1725 542 31.4

These are the wicket-preservers by batting slowly. No real surprises. Even this scoring rate is not too bad, nearly 2 RpO.

Harbhajan Singh

Now let us see the tables for Harbhajan Singh. First a caveat. We have ball-by-ball data for just over 90% of balls bowled by Harbhajan. Unfortunately the first 11 Tests, in which he captured 53 wickets, including the fabulous 2001 series, are not included. So this is not a complete analysis. However I have plumped for Harbhajan for reasons already discussed.

17. Ordered by Wickets in HARBHAJAN SINGH-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsRunsWicketsStrikeRateAvgeVsBowler
ML Hayden 50.7415 356 226 7 50.9 32.29
JH Kallis 56.1018 676 382 6112.7 63.67
DW Steyn 13.97 8 75 35 6 12.5 5.83
HM Amla 52.1214 606 291 5121.2 58.20
RT Ponting 51.8716 340 227 5 68.0 45.40
SM Katich 45.0314 432 177 5 86.4 35.40
LRPL Taylor 42.22 6 209 100 5 41.8 20.00
WW Hinds 33.01 6 195 99 5 39.0 19.80
Kamran Akmal 30.7910 227 119 5 45.4 23.80
M Morkel 13.69 8 123 54 5 24.6 10.80
Total for 10 batsmen 32391710 54 60.0 31.67

Hayden has been dismissed by Harbhajan 7 times. Add to this the 2 dismissals during the 2001 series. Similarly Ponting was dismissed 5 times. This becomes 10 dismissals since he lost his wicket every time in 2001 to Harbhajan. However it is clear that Harbhajan has bought his wickets, at a price. There is very little difference Harbhajan's career strike rate and the strike rate against this collection.

18. Ordered by Balls bowled in HARBHAJAN SINGH-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
S Chanderpaul 51.8218 79063280.0%13817.5%20 2.5%
KC Sangakkara 56.9918 74257477.4%14419.4%27 3.6%
JH Kallis 56.1018 67641260.9%24235.8%22 3.3%
DPMD Jayawardene 49.5720 64939560.9%21733.4%38 5.9%
HM Amla 52.1214 60642369.8%15926.2%24 4.0%
Younis Khan 50.7410 54136868.0%13024.0%43 7.9%
MJ Clarke 52.3423 52737270.6%13525.6%20 3.8%
MEK Hussey 51.5314 48235673.9%10922.6%17 3.5%
SM Katich 45.0314 43233677.8% 7517.4%21 4.9%
AB de Villiers 50.5112 39426767.8%10927.7%18 4.6%

Did India and Sri Lanka play each other so many times in Tests also? Jayawardene and Sangakkara have together faced nearly 1400 balls of Harbhajan. Similarly Kallis and Amla have clocked over 1250 balls together.

19. Ordered by Runs scored in HARBHAJAN SINGH-Batsman combination
BatsmanBatAvgeInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
DPMD Jayawardene 49.5720 649 431 66.439560.9%21733.4%38 5.9%
JH Kallis 56.1018 676 382 56.541260.9%24235.8%22 3.3%
Younis Khan 50.7410 541 332 61.436868.0%13024.0%43 7.9%
HM Amla 52.1214 606 291 48.042369.8%15926.2%24 4.0%
KC Sangakkara 56.9918 742 287 38.757477.4%14419.4%27 3.6%
S Chanderpaul 51.8218 790 260 32.963280.0%13817.5%20 2.5%
MJ Clarke 52.3423 527 239 45.437270.6%13525.6%20 3.8%
RT Ponting 51.8716 340 227 66.820760.9%10831.8%25 7.4%
ML Hayden 50.7415 356 226 63.523866.9% 9125.6%28 7.9%
TM Dilshan 40.9913 308 221 71.818861.0% 9731.5%23 7.5%

Similar pattern like balls. The Sri Lankan duo and the South African duo have scored tons of runs. Jayawardene at a very good scoring rate. Look at Chanderpaul's scoring rate.

20. Ordered by Bowling SR (High), HARBHAJAN SINGH-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
S Chanderpaul 100.518 790 2395.0
AN Cook 97.1 8 291 1291.0
GW Flower 81.4 8 277 0277.0
Younis Khan 89.410 541 2270.5
MP Vaughan 76.1 6 264 0264.0
BB McCullum 55.1 8 252 1252.0
Misbah-ul-Haq 88.6 6 248 0248.0
KC Sangakkara 97.118 742 3247.3
AB de Villiers 82.012 394 2197.0
IR Bell 79.7 9 181 1181.0
Total for 10 batsmen 3980 12331.7

Harbhajan to Chanderpaul must be the slowest running movie ever made. Nothing happening ever. 790 balls, a mere 258 runs and a wicket every 395 balls. And look at Cook, a wicket every 290 balls. And Flower, and Younis, and Vaughan: all clocking over 250 balls per wicket. Harbhajan surely had a lot of patience. 55 overs per wkt: we are going past a typically long spell by a bowler in an innings.

21. Ordered by Bowling SR (Low - Top order batsmen), HARBHAJAN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
JP Duminy 70.0 3 13 3 4.3
SCJ Broad 33.9 4 39 3 13.0
AN Petersen 72.7 5 75 4 18.8
JDP Oram 59.9 5 75 3 25.0
ADR Campbell 62.8 6 86 3 28.7
SB Styris 64.4 6 133 4 33.2
RD Jacobs 48.1 5 102 3 34.0
MJ North 69.5 3 107 3 35.7
WW Hinds 68.2 6 195 5 39.0
A Flower 95.0 6 125 3 41.7
Total for 10 batsmen 950 34 27.9

Harbhajan had to start his bowling run and Duminy would inform his colleagues in the pavilion to hold the calls. A top class batsman averaging a mere 4 balls per wicket. Later there is a reference to Swann vs Prince. What is with South African batsman against quality off-spinners? And Alviro clocking at below 20 BpW. These leaden-footed batsmen were at least dismissed at around once every five overs.

22. Ordered by Bowling Strike rate (Low - Late order batsmen) in HARBHAJAN-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareer Balls/InnsInnsBallsWicketsStrike rate
Danish Kaneria 8.8 4 14 3 4.7
MS Kasprowicz 17.9 4 17 3 5.7
GD McGrath 11.4 5 18 3 6.0
A Sanford 19.3 4 24 4 6.0
DW Steyn 25.4 8 75 6 12.5
M Muralitharan 10.910 51 4 12.8
PL Harris 28.3 9 54 4 13.5
M Dillon 20.3 9 54 4 13.5
PT Collins 14.9 8 76 5 15.2
MJ Hoggard 22.7 8 56 3 18.7
Total for 10 batsmen 439 39 11.3

It must be said that Danish Kaneria has done better than Duminy. And Steyn the batsman had no answer for Harbhajan the bowler. And let me add that Steyn dismissed Harbhajan 7 times in 59 balls. Each could call the other his bunny.

23. Ordered by Batting Scoring rate (High) in HARBHAJAN SINGH-Batsman combination
BatsmanCareerScRtInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
AC Gilchrist 82.0 9 139 112 80.6 7755.4% 5136.7%11 7.9%
JL Langer 54.2 5 170 128 75.310762.9% 4627.1%1710.0%
TM Dilshan 65.513 308 221 71.818861.0% 9731.5%23 7.5%
MJ Prior 63.0 6 149 104 69.8 8154.4% 6040.3% 8 5.4%
HAPW Jayawardene 50.110 236 156 66.115063.6% 7230.5%14 5.9%
RT Ponting 58.716 340 227 66.820760.9%10831.8%25 7.4%
KP Pietersen 62.810 264 176 66.716462.1% 8231.1%18 6.8%
Inzamam-ul-Haq 54.0 4 109 72 66.1 6862.4% 3330.3% 8 7.3%
DPMD Jayawardene 51.520 649 431 66.439560.9%21733.4%38 5.9%
ML Hayden 60.115 356 226 63.523866.9% 9125.6%28 7.9%
Total for 10 batsmen 27201853 68.1

As expected Harbhajan was attacked by Gilchrist and Langer. Gilchrist gave his wicket away thrice while Langer was dismissed only once. Dilshan's attacking was over much higher number of balls. Harbhajan won 4 of these battles with Dilshan. Harbhajan was relatively more economical even against the free-scoring batsmen.

24. Ordered by Batting Scoring rate (Low) in HARBHAJAN SINGH-Batsman combination
BatsmanCarScrRtInnsBallsRunsScoring RateDot Balls% of total1/2/3 run balls% of totalBoundary balls% of total
Salman Butt 47.2 6 146 21 14.413290.4% 13 8.9% 1 0.7%
BJ Haddin 57.4 6 110 28 25.5 8980.9% 2018.2% 1 0.9%
MH Richardson 37.7 4 162 44 27.213080.2% 2917.9% 3 1.9%
MJ Guptill 43.4 4 114 33 28.9 9381.6% 1916.7% 2 1.8%
GW Flower 34.5 8 277 83 30.022480.9% 4616.6% 7 2.5%
TR Gripper 32.7 2 100 29 29.0 8282.0% 1515.0% 3 3.0%
AJ Hall 46.1 3 133 41 30.811183.5% 1914.3% 3 2.3%
AG Prince 43.711 229 69 30.118781.7% 3615.7% 6 2.6%
JEC Franklin 37.4 4 126 38 30.210885.7% 1310.3% 5 4.0%
MA Butcher 42.9 7 269 82 30.521881.0% 4416.4% 7 2.6%
Total for 10 batsmen 1666 468 28.1

Nothing important here. Most of these batsmen were uncomfortable facing top quality spin and took the safer way out. They were bottled up for less than 1.8 RpO.

These are is just samples of the type of insights which can be drawn. I have created an Excel sheet with 15 contemporary bowlers who have ball-by-ball data exceeding 80% and uploaded this. To download/view the document, a veritable treasure-trove of information, please CLICK HERE.

I have given below a few exceptional situations from the tables of 15 bowlers. Let me also suggest that the interested readers can peruse the Excel sheet and come out with such interesting sidelights.

- Take the Swann-Prince combination. This is something weird. Prince played 5 balls from Swann, had 2 dot balls and lost his wickets 3 times. And this happened after he had played 94, 28 and 44 balls in the three innings. That was some magic that Swann wove, probably more than what Warne did to Cullinan.
- The maximum number of balls bowled has been by Ajmal to Sangakkara. He bowled 906 balls, nearly two days of bowling.
- Harmison's single wicket of Chanderpaul cost 239 runs while Ntini's single dismissal of Lara cost 225 runs.
- Anderson-Tendulkar, Ntini-Trescothick and Ntini-Hayden combinations have ended in 9 dismissals. Let us not forget the 10 dismissals of Ponting by Harbhajan.
- Harmison bowled 464 balls to Chanderpaul and got 1 wicket. Harbhajan-Chanderpaul was 790 (2 wkts-395), Hoggard-Yousuf was 378, Johnson-de Villiers was 383, Ntini-Lara was 312, Anderson-Sarwan was 312 and Ajmal-Sangakkara was 906 (3 wkts-302).
- Anderson was hit 57 times for a boundary by Graeme Smith. Ntini was carted to the fence 53 times by Ponting and Trescothick. Lee was also despatched 50 times by Trescothick. But the most awesome performance was when Harmison bowled to Gayle. 48 boundaries were hit but at 15.8%, nearly one every over.

The 15 bowlers covered in this table are given below. The figures at the beginning indicate the quantum of ball-by-ball data available for this bowler.

BBB %   Bowler selected
100.0 - Steyn
100.0 - Anderson
 90.2 - Harbhajan Singh
100.0 - Swann
100.0 - Harmison
 99.4 - Hoggard
 88.0 - Ntini
 95.9 - Zaheer Khan
 91.7 - Lee
100.0 - Johnson
 90.5 - Martin
 95.1 - Herath
 96.9 - Danish Kaneria
100.0 - Saeed Ajmal
100.0 - FH Edwards

The last two players have been exempted from the 200-wicket limit since there is no West Indian bowler who has crossed 200 wickets recently and Ajmal is an intriguing bowler. Kaneria has captured 261 Test wickets and I am not going to sit in moral judgement on subsequent happenings, on and off the field. On field, as a Test player, he performed very well and that is enough for me.

Readers can, if they care, write on the types of analyses which could be done using these data. Please do not, however, ask for details of how RA Austin bowled to Raqibul Haasan or about MM Patel's performance against McIntosh. Let it be of interest to all the readers. I would intersperse these articles with the other articles so that I can handle these myself. These articles take a lot off me in view of the number of tables and writing.

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 JeffG on (July 15, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

@ Bonehead_maz

It was a great game, wasn't it? Fully lived up to the hype.

As the stats predicted, Shane Watson managed to avoid getting out to either Anderson or Swann and Stuart Broad was far better when bowling to the right handers...

As for the Aussies, number 11 - yes all 4 of the bowlers in this test were very good batsmen but i'm still not sure they are quite ready to take the title of best ever number 11 away from Wilfred Rhodes...

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (July 14, 2013, 23:40 GMT)

Thanks so much for those uploads Milind.

Cricket's an interesting game ! Touring along with the Ashes 2009, I got a feeling we were outperforming the old enemy in everything except winning.

Many years after I first captained, I learned to successfully explain it as "the 10% times". i.e The result will hinge on which team (or individual player) lifts or folds at and during those 10% of times. This 1st Ashes match, it was littered with 4 wickets for 4 type events. Stopping that required extra application from batsmen when a wicket fell (an appropriate 10% time lift). England's 2nd Innings arrested it (Trott was unfortunate) till the very tail. Australian batsmen produced a 3/3 mid order response..... end of game. Well played in the 10%ers England.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (July 14, 2013, 22:59 GMT)

My heart rate has just lowered to around "ability to type" levels :). Whoa, what an amazing game of cricket Nottingham was. There's a few numbers there for the statisticians too !!! :).

Jimmy Anderson showed us why he's featured here ! (He's got gut's too ! :) ). Siddle showed why when he gets a few more wickets he will be in lists like here. Swann although overall somewhat disappointing, (or was that JUST that rubbish pitch ?) took the wicket first ball after Clarke's, and another 2 overs later, to virtually seal the game. Good bowlers ! (they lift to kill - like Cobras ? lol) I didn't know Ian Bell could bat as well as he did. It was a near perfectly played innings - congrats to him. Whoever it is they put there, ( so long as not one of the batsmen lol) that Aust side is likely to have the best no 11 ever ?

Posted by sifter132 on (July 10, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

Great uploading Milind - I am now armed with heaps of information for the Ashes. Great job!

And I agree Ananth with the spirit of your reply, I think ultimately a batsmen vs bowler tool in statsguru should be the aim. The public should be able to find these stats too.
[[
One thing is certain. Both Milind and I see 100% eye-to-eye on this. One day we will make such analyses available in our own site. I have always felt that the proprietary nature of the data should not prevent the interested and enlightened followers from accessing their specific combination analyses.
Ananth
: ]]

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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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