May 29, 2014

# The calculus of the batting average

The batting average is a misleading indicator. How about a scale that is more representative of batting performance?
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The batting average in cricket is the number of runs made by a player per dismissal. Not-outs inflate averages. To get a sense of the extent of this problem, compare the records of Brian Lara and Steve Waugh. The former had six not-outs in 232 Test innings. The latter had 46 in 260. Lara batted most frequently at No. 4, and had one not-out in 148 innings at that position. Waugh batted most frequently at No. 5, and had 22 not-outs in 142 innings there. This makes it basically meaningless to compare the batting averages of Waugh and Lara. Yet this is commonly done with Test batsmen.

Team success also affects the likelihood of not-outs. In wins, batsmen remain not out about 15% of the time. In defeats, this drops to about 9%. To some extent, this explains why Lara remained not out at a rate well below the average for a No. 4, while Waugh remained not out at a rate well above the average for No. 5. At the very least, this basic fact about the different rates for not-outs depending on batting position illustrates the limits of comparing an opener's batting average to that of a middle-order batsman. A look at batting in Test cricket by batting position shows that the problem is systematic.

The average also does not indicate how many runs a player is likely to score in a given innings. The median innings in Test cricket produces 13 runs. The median Test innings for Lara is 34, while for Waugh it is 26. As a descriptor of a batsman's record, the average is a limited measure.

I propose a different measure for a batsman's quality and consistency. This measure is in the form of a scale.

Consider the first 100 runs made by a batsman. The chart above shows the probability of a batsman (with at least 2000 career runs) reaching any score from 1 to 100. Two hundred and seventy-five batsmen have scored at least 2000 Test runs, from Dilip Sardesai with 2001 to Sachin Tendulkar with 15,921. These batsmen have played a combined 32,409 innings. They score a century nine times in 100 innings. They reach double figures 71 times out of 100. A batsman's batting score can be given simply by calculating the area under this curve.

Here is a simple example to illustrate the difference between the score and the batting average. In the 2003-04 season, Tendulkar made 659 runs at 54.91 in nine Tests and 15 innings. The distribution of scores over 15 innings was peculiar, though: 495 of the 659 runs came in three innings, each not out. Tendulkar's median score over those 15 innings was 8. In these 15 innings, Tendulkar reached 100 twice, 60 thrice, 37 six times, 8 eight times and 1 13 times. His score over those 15 innings is 28.

The score provides a more representative picture of Tendulkar's performance that season compared to his batting average. To get a sense of how low a score of 28 is, the batting average for the 275 batsmen who made at least 2000 Test runs is 41; their collective score is 34.

It is a matter of some surprise that this method of measurement has not been used yet in cricket. Even the basic idea of measuring runs per innings, instead of runs per dismissal, has gained little currency. The method described in this post could be extended by using a different upper limit, say 150 or 200, or even 400 (the current highest Test score). With an upper limit of 400 it would simply provide the runs per innings (total runs divided by total innings).

I think it is a bad idea to use an upper limit greater than 100 if the goal is to measure consistency of contributions. A single innings of 400 not out can only win or save one Test match, while eight innings of 50 might help your team compete in four or more Test matches. The series in which Lara made his 400 not out (series batting average 83.33), and the one in which he made his 375 (series batting average 99.75) illustrate this point. In the former, his score is 29, in the latter, it is 57. I would argue that the score captures Lara's performance in each series better than the batting average does.

In summary, I prefer the use of the score over the batting average, because the former accounts for events that occur frequently, while the latter is disproportionately affected by events that occur only rarely. As an illustration of the power of this measure, consider all the batsmen with a score of 41. There are 13 such players and they range from Wally Hammond (average 58.45) to Rohan Kanhai (average 47.53). Kanhai and Hammond were basically equally consistent in Test cricket.

Note: In the tables that follow, each score and average is rounded to the nearest integer.

Kartikeya Date writes at A Cricketing View and tweets here

• on May 30, 2014, 13:34 GMT

A number of the comments seem to focus on the first modification i made to the batting average - that of discarding the idea of the not out. The 2nd one is more important i think. This is the fact that a batting average is disproportionately affected by a handful of big scores. The reason for discarding averages is that once you set the individual anecdotes aside, in the aggregate, it is true that the likelihood of a not out depends on a player's position in the batting order, and on the strength of the team that the player plays in.

By counting every score of 100 or more as 100, the argument is that the first hundred runs matter, and do so sufficiently to provide a good picture of a batsman. The difference in the averages of players with the same "Score" is due to runs made after reaching a 100.

• steve48 on May 29, 2014, 10:05 GMT

Ultimately it is too difficult to compare batsmen by averages alone. This attempt at least gives top order batsmen a fairer comparison to number 5s, but still can't take into account the specific difficulties of facing the new ball. Against that, when a quality spinner such as Warne or Murali is around, it is the middle order who face him when they first come in, so they become disadvantaged! Averages as they are now are a rough guide to a player's worth, which is all they can ever be. The true value of a player is his impact on matches and series, and against the best bowlers and most difficult conditions. Same if you analysed bowlers; Mitch Johnson mostly blew away the lower order in the ashes, but you can't devalue this empirically because lower order runs were crucial to England's game plan, for example. How do you put a value on the impact of his hostility? Always a good talking point though, are averages!

• eggyroe on May 31, 2014, 10:46 GMT

After reading the numerous replies is this an attempt to get recently retired players into the top twelve of Test Match Batting Averages,something they have not attained through their own efforts in the middle.When consideration is given that 5 of the Top 12 had their careers interrupted by World Wars and 1 was banned from Test Match Cricket through no fault of his.If there is to be a change in the system will all Test Match batting averages from 1877 be deleted and we all start again under another system which will place batsmen in some sort of order which would have to factor in Batting Position,Opposition Bowlers,Pitch Conditions etc.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 10:05 GMT

Another factor is that most very big scores ( Triples and 250+) are scored by batsmen batting in positions 1-3. Or otherwise later order batsmen coming in early. This is because these scores require flat pitches . Once a huge score is on the board - the batsmen following then do not have the luxury of posting their own huge scores or get out trying to score quickly. So though the lower order batsmen may remain not out more than the batsmen in Positions 1-3, they lose out on the chance of posting huge scores in good batting conditions.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 9:37 GMT

@Hammond- Bradman would stand out any which way. One of a kind. We are in general dealing with the "rest".

• Hammond on May 31, 2014, 7:00 GMT

@CricFan24- it does actually, I think I read Bradmans career average dropped briefly down to 70 after bodyline, and then went back up to over 100 before dropping down to 99.94 over a 20 year career. But of course, Sachins average of consistently just over 50 still is superior.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:45 GMT

So - Tendulkar avg. 50+ for around 20 years. Kallis for 11 years. Lara for around 12, given 2 or 3 years sub 50 after 1992..

Effectively Tendulkar was a Great batsman for almost TWICE as long- and much of it in the tougher period before the mid 2000s.

Kind of puts things in perspective.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:45 GMT

To borrow from another blog- when you look at the amount of time spent in International cricket with an average of 50+ this is what you get: 1) Tendulkar- first averaged 50 in his 29 th match in Jan 1994. Thereafter except for a short while in the "49 point somethings" in 1996 he averaged in the 50s till retirement . 2) Kallis first hit an avg. of 50 in his 63rd match in Nov 2002.( At the time Tendulkar was rated 2nd best batsman of all time behind the Don by Wisden ) He too had a short dip into the "49 point somethings" thereafter. But for the most part Kallis maintained an avg. of 50+ till retirement. 3)Lara hit an avg. of 50 in just his 5th match thanks to his 277. Lara then had a couple of dips below 50 in the 1990s and 2000s.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:42 GMT

@harshthakor- This would make the batsman in a weaker team automatically appear better. And would hence then depend more on the other batsmen. Also ,this thing about a good batsman in a weak team resulting in poorer stats for the good batsman is a complete myth. SRT does better through the 1990s when India were generaly a pathetic team. Lara's best consecutive years statistically are from 2003-07 when Windies were at their worst. Chanderpaul does much better after Lara retired etc.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:39 GMT

contd.. So- the central problem is not really the calculation of the average. It is the use of average to the exclusion of almost all other factors. As someone mentioned- one of the ways to normalize this would be to use a peer adjusted ratio for the duration of a batsman's career. This would normalize to a large extent pitches, batting conditions, bowling attacks etc.

• on May 30, 2014, 13:34 GMT

A number of the comments seem to focus on the first modification i made to the batting average - that of discarding the idea of the not out. The 2nd one is more important i think. This is the fact that a batting average is disproportionately affected by a handful of big scores. The reason for discarding averages is that once you set the individual anecdotes aside, in the aggregate, it is true that the likelihood of a not out depends on a player's position in the batting order, and on the strength of the team that the player plays in.

By counting every score of 100 or more as 100, the argument is that the first hundred runs matter, and do so sufficiently to provide a good picture of a batsman. The difference in the averages of players with the same "Score" is due to runs made after reaching a 100.

• steve48 on May 29, 2014, 10:05 GMT

Ultimately it is too difficult to compare batsmen by averages alone. This attempt at least gives top order batsmen a fairer comparison to number 5s, but still can't take into account the specific difficulties of facing the new ball. Against that, when a quality spinner such as Warne or Murali is around, it is the middle order who face him when they first come in, so they become disadvantaged! Averages as they are now are a rough guide to a player's worth, which is all they can ever be. The true value of a player is his impact on matches and series, and against the best bowlers and most difficult conditions. Same if you analysed bowlers; Mitch Johnson mostly blew away the lower order in the ashes, but you can't devalue this empirically because lower order runs were crucial to England's game plan, for example. How do you put a value on the impact of his hostility? Always a good talking point though, are averages!

• eggyroe on May 31, 2014, 10:46 GMT

After reading the numerous replies is this an attempt to get recently retired players into the top twelve of Test Match Batting Averages,something they have not attained through their own efforts in the middle.When consideration is given that 5 of the Top 12 had their careers interrupted by World Wars and 1 was banned from Test Match Cricket through no fault of his.If there is to be a change in the system will all Test Match batting averages from 1877 be deleted and we all start again under another system which will place batsmen in some sort of order which would have to factor in Batting Position,Opposition Bowlers,Pitch Conditions etc.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 10:05 GMT

Another factor is that most very big scores ( Triples and 250+) are scored by batsmen batting in positions 1-3. Or otherwise later order batsmen coming in early. This is because these scores require flat pitches . Once a huge score is on the board - the batsmen following then do not have the luxury of posting their own huge scores or get out trying to score quickly. So though the lower order batsmen may remain not out more than the batsmen in Positions 1-3, they lose out on the chance of posting huge scores in good batting conditions.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 9:37 GMT

@Hammond- Bradman would stand out any which way. One of a kind. We are in general dealing with the "rest".

• Hammond on May 31, 2014, 7:00 GMT

@CricFan24- it does actually, I think I read Bradmans career average dropped briefly down to 70 after bodyline, and then went back up to over 100 before dropping down to 99.94 over a 20 year career. But of course, Sachins average of consistently just over 50 still is superior.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:45 GMT

So - Tendulkar avg. 50+ for around 20 years. Kallis for 11 years. Lara for around 12, given 2 or 3 years sub 50 after 1992..

Effectively Tendulkar was a Great batsman for almost TWICE as long- and much of it in the tougher period before the mid 2000s.

Kind of puts things in perspective.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:45 GMT

To borrow from another blog- when you look at the amount of time spent in International cricket with an average of 50+ this is what you get: 1) Tendulkar- first averaged 50 in his 29 th match in Jan 1994. Thereafter except for a short while in the "49 point somethings" in 1996 he averaged in the 50s till retirement . 2) Kallis first hit an avg. of 50 in his 63rd match in Nov 2002.( At the time Tendulkar was rated 2nd best batsman of all time behind the Don by Wisden ) He too had a short dip into the "49 point somethings" thereafter. But for the most part Kallis maintained an avg. of 50+ till retirement. 3)Lara hit an avg. of 50 in just his 5th match thanks to his 277. Lara then had a couple of dips below 50 in the 1990s and 2000s.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:42 GMT

@harshthakor- This would make the batsman in a weaker team automatically appear better. And would hence then depend more on the other batsmen. Also ,this thing about a good batsman in a weak team resulting in poorer stats for the good batsman is a complete myth. SRT does better through the 1990s when India were generaly a pathetic team. Lara's best consecutive years statistically are from 2003-07 when Windies were at their worst. Chanderpaul does much better after Lara retired etc.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:39 GMT

contd.. So- the central problem is not really the calculation of the average. It is the use of average to the exclusion of almost all other factors. As someone mentioned- one of the ways to normalize this would be to use a peer adjusted ratio for the duration of a batsman's career. This would normalize to a large extent pitches, batting conditions, bowling attacks etc.

• CricFan24 on May 31, 2014, 4:39 GMT

Kartikeya- I agree that big scores completely distort the "average". Infact SRTs 2003-07 injury ridden horror patch was only made to look half decent due to a few big scores and runs against Ban. Many people have pointed this out. However, the N.O issue is for the most part correct. We cannot "complete" an innings ( as RPI and other measures do )when a batsman is actually not out . As mentioned the moment a top batsman gets past around 25 a big score is the norm. The problem is that the average is used almost exclusively to measure "quality"- as the headline of your article insinuates. This again warps the entire issue. For eg.something as minor as a better timed retirement date would then change the "quality" of a batsman/career. If SRT retired after the 2011 WC with an average of 57 , instead of hanging around- would he have been considered a better "quality" batsman.

Contd...

• Captain_Crick on May 31, 2014, 4:25 GMT

Cricket is a team sport. Any batting innings that contributes in a major way to a team's victory is the one that matters. For example, even a crucial 30 scored in a second innings (lets say on a crumbling final day pitch) in a low scoring encounter makes it so valuable to the team. On the other hand, even a hundred in the manner it's scored can lose a game for your team. Yes, I agree that it's meaningless to compare the batting averages as it does not tell the whole story. Neither do 'the score' comparisons matter much in the same regard.

• harshthakor on May 31, 2014, 4:14 GMT

A very important criteria is the average percentage score out of the team's total score.In this respect Brian Lara is outstanding amongst modern batting greats.We also need to analyse the state of the game when the batsmen came to the crease,the quality of the bowling attack,strength of opposition,nature of the wicket and the impact of his score.Ananth narayana devised a system of match performances which sum up the performnaces overall.Infact in this respect Brian Lara and Viv Richards or even Jack Hobbs overshadow Sachin Tendulkar.

Another important debate is whether the criteria should be performance in peak period or overall consistency.Some greats have been better than their contempoaries at their best like Brian Lara but was outscored in terms of overall consistency by Tendulkar.

2 batsmen who got no justice by their batting average were Ian Chappell and Rohan Kanhai.Ian averaged 50.84 at one down where he scored 80% of his aggregate runs,while Kanhai averaged 53.

• SLSup on May 30, 2014, 15:50 GMT

Response to Facebook User on (May 30, 2014, 11:25 GMT): Even current players cant be compared fully let alone those with generational gaps. FACT is Don did something NO ONE in his era or any other era has; he did so on worse wickets with less body protection and when coaches didn't matter. They were on their own and it was all their brilliance. I must say this business of questioning Don and other great batsmen started with SRT and SOME Indian fans who refuse to accept anyone other than SRT can be great. Before that there was only awe at anyone averaging near 50! Just as all AUS & Bedi thinks Murali is a chucker when Bradman said Nope!

Kartikeya: True on team position and peer strength but there is much more that goes into aggragates. I don't like setting limits but can't argue against first 100 runs being important cos it helps others build their scores around it. However, Sanga's 400+ runs aggragate (50% to team runs) saved SL a defeat at the hands of BNG early this year!

• steve48 on May 30, 2014, 15:18 GMT

@mr. Date, the second comment about reducing the distorting effect of huge innings, i like the idea as a measure of consistency, and is a useful extra tool, but its flaw is that whereas for example Lara's 400 was meaningless in a dead rubber, KP's 186 against India was series changing, every run vital, and so should be rewarded. Perhaps comparing averages in live tests only would be a useful tool, and % of his team runs player scored in such matches? Especially in matches won or lost also? I guess the list of comparative averages could be endless, but if you took a player 's ranking across an arbitrary set of say 6 of the most relevant averages, a truish ranking for a player could be found! Still be a struggle to find meaningful average comparison for, say, West Indies batsmen of the 80s to their counterparts, though! Didn't Viv Richards average 26 against Barbados?!

• on May 30, 2014, 12:12 GMT

@ steve48 : It is impossible to compare two batsmen provided they have a huge difference it talent or consistency. Then there are different eras, different styles and different bowling attacks to play against. There is no definite way to deduce who is the best. Moving on to "averages" vs "score". Openers come to bat first, they get the best chance to go out and play their innings no matter what the target is generally they get the 1st opportunity to score big. Middle and lower middle order batsmen sometimes do not get that target remaining to chase down so even if they have the potential to play long innings they don't have the target. Hence the rule for not outs as the lower middle order batsmen don't get the opportunity to score more. Having said that the other diff is that middle order batsmen are saved from playing the new ball and openers have to face it. If an opener is not out under normal circumstances he would have seen off 2 new balls.

• on May 30, 2014, 11:25 GMT

@SLsup it is very difficult to compare players across generations. You said we never know how Tendulkar would have faced Jeff Thompson. Bradman played only in Australia and England. We never know how Bradman would have fared in dustbowls in the Subcontinent. How would he have fared if he would have to face the likes of Warne, Muralitharan and Kumble.

• on May 30, 2014, 8:51 GMT

@cricket-india " if they had to choose a batsman to play for their lives; and that, my friends, is the hallmark of a top quality batsman."

There is no format where someone has to bat for someone's life

All formats require a batsman to just score runs ..Some don't score in 1st inns & compensate for it in 2nd inns (like Laxman)..Some don't score & r on the verge of being dropped then the compensate for their entire season's failure by producing a big inn (like Lara & Sehwag). People forget how much these players inconsistency lead to pressure on other batters & team's failure. To indians these batsmen sound like super heros. But factually they r not. THE FACT IS IT IS SAME FOR TEAM WHETHER U SCORE 100 in 1st inn & 0 in 2nd or vice versa or 50 in each inn or 200 every 4th inns & zeros in b/w. IT IS THE RUNS PER INNS THAT MATTER...Yes avg boosted by unnecessarily big scores in draws (like lara 400) or NO is useless for team

• Mr_Truth on May 30, 2014, 8:48 GMT

@ BharatNT2IE. I did an analysis a few years ago, and it is standard for just about every player in the game that they reach their average score once in only three innings. It's easier to cross-check for players with averages at or around 50, because all you need to do is look at their profile and it will tell you how many 50s & 100s they have in how many innings played. Obviously, players lower in the order are less likely to meet this result, especially when not out. But it is consistent. It is one of the reasons that the selectors infuriate me - how can they possibly want someone like S Marsh in the team when there is only a 30% probability that he will score even 30 runs? Unfortunately, few people see it that way...

• Mr_Truth on May 30, 2014, 8:35 GMT

Although batting averages are misleading, they are still valid. Certainly if The Don batted at #11 he wouldn't have scored as many runs, but he'd still be hard to dislodge. Say that hypothetically he scored ten runs per innings before the last wicket fell - you would expect that in only one innings that wicket would be his. My old man was always interested to know which team would win if one was comprised of specialist batsmen and the other was made up of bowlers. A friend of mine bought a book earlier this year that allows you to use player stats to replay any team from any era against any other. Unfortunately I don't recall the name of the book but it was fun to test out various theories.

• BharatNT2IE on May 30, 2014, 8:15 GMT

It was a reasonably argument,think it might be slightly flawed. Over 2000 runs . a subcontinental batsman, who played a lot of tests in India Pakistan and SL, these batsmen will have more higher median because they have played on good flat subcontinental wickets. Mohammed Yousuf had a prolific year in 2006 and most of the innings he played in Pakistan and he is bound to have higher median scores.Kevin Pietersen, well how many conditions? how many situations (1,2,3 or 4 th innings)? he played memorable knocks IND,SL,NZ,AUS,PAK,SA,ENG,WI well basically all over the world :) and his score will obviously be low because of inconsistency, but who is more high impact KP. One other interesting thing i observed I observed KP, Sourav,Dravid,Sachin,Lara,Steve Waugh,VVS,Ponting..well basically all my heros, i checked the number of times have they crossed or equaled their average, guess what all of them had in the same range a mere 30% +-2. I expected that number to be at least 40+.

• SLSup on May 30, 2014, 7:21 GMT

If the question "Why should somebody who knows how to protect his wicket be punished?" is a valid one then it is equally valid to ask "Why should a batsman benefit with additional runs AND perhaps a 'notout' inning when an umpire thinks he is NOT out when he is clearly out?"

Hayden was actually a GREAT batsman. It is a pitty that he started SO LATE in life. Makes one wonder What If he debuted at 20 and played Tests for 20 years!

• SLSup on May 30, 2014, 7:13 GMT

I am just thinking out loud here : ) Quality ALWAYS counts over Quantity.

This post by Kartikeya is a little DYNAMO! It is short but SUPER CHARGED. The quantity (length) doesn't do justice to the Quality of the argument.

On longevity, SRT wins hands down I guess. But not sure if SRT can take on a Jeff Thompson as Don did when he was 70 (and that without pads)! Yes, Don played in AUS/ENG only - he was equally at home at both. But the more IMPORTANT question is not WHO Don faced but HOW other batsmen did comparatively. POORLY compared to Don. That's because DON was Great!

For the record. here's how Lara, Sanga, SRT stands minus their ZIM/BNG records and when their average performances divided by INCLUDING Not Outs as a completed inning:

Brian Lara = 127 games with 32 centuries @ 51.14 Kumar Sangakkara = 102 games with 26 centuries @ 48.34 Sachin Tendulkar = 184 games with 43 centuries @ 46.34

SRT wins on Quantity. GIVEN!

• Nadeem1976 on May 30, 2014, 5:54 GMT

Quality? what about Quantity , the services to batting , a 24 years long career, over 15000 runs. Why do not you calculate the age factor along with all those stats too. Number of matches played. 52 by don compare to 200 by SRT. Fitness level, playing over 300 innings and to 70 by Don. Playing against different countries 2 by Don and 10 by SRT. Playing against the greatest bowlers of all time ; likes of wasim, waqar, donald, marshal, pollock, ambrose, walsh, warne, mcgrath, murli and many by SRT. to i do not know what bowlers by Don. Instead of all the time looking at match winning innings , we should look into match saving innings, or match making innings. because Test cricket most of the time gets a Drawn match. lot of things matter. And also what your peer bowlers say about you. in last 20 years bowlers have only praised two batsmen SRT and Lara. so def they are best in last 20 years.

• remnant on May 29, 2014, 21:53 GMT

Peer percentile would be another benchmark to understand where batsmen across eras stand, when compared to where they stood with respect to their peers.

• lihtness on May 29, 2014, 20:18 GMT

A quick glance at the final chart gives you a clear picture. Except a rare odd cases, the average is a decent indicator of where a batsman fall in the list. People dont choose to watch a batsmen based on average. The captain knows it while making the team selection, viewer knows it while watching the game. Like any sport, cricket is instinctive. Stats are just a side show.

• SLSup on May 29, 2014, 19:11 GMT

Haha. Sanga sitting ABOVE AVERAGE (41 mark) is not going to sit well with SOME. That average list of players include Lara, too! There are many other aspects that can be considered to point why Sanga is such a great batsman compared to others (then add his career stats behind the stumps and it's phenomenal).

The NOT OUTs should be counted alongside OUTs when calculating straight averages. Per cricketing laws an inning IS when a batsman walks past the boundary line - thereafter he can be OUT (or NOT OUT) whether he plays a ball or not. Also, umpires sometimes give batters out when they are not out or don't give them out when they are! It makes NO SENSE to not include all innings per law when calculating averages based on all runs SCORED.

It is meaningless trying to determine performances with any means that are PREDICTIVE. It is futile. It takes only 1 ball to go from NOT OUT to OUT and all predictive methods break down when we DON'T know what that MEANS!

Still, I LOVE this post!

• cricket-india on May 29, 2014, 15:23 GMT

there's only one way to judge a batsman's quality, and that's by how much of a matchwinner he is. vvs may have scored only 281 but we all know it beats lara's 400, for example. jayasuriya's 340 in the match where SL scored 952 against india was on a dead pitch and a meaningless match, so if his avg is inflated due to that knock, good for him but meaningless otherwise. wisden had azhar mahmood's 108 against south africa in the top 10 batting performances of the 20th century because of how it impacted the match, even as many double and triple centuries didn't even make the top 100. miandad, lara,border, steve waugh...these are the names that come to anyone's mind (instad of the usual suspects like SRT or mahela or others who have tons of runs at inflated avgs) if they had to choose a batsman to play for their lives; and that, my friends, is the hallmark of a top quality batsman.

• on May 29, 2014, 11:31 GMT

in complicating the already complicated issue there is no one better than kartikeya date.one can use stats to whatever they want.please leave this topic aside and let us enjoy the game as it is

• xtrafalgarx on May 29, 2014, 11:09 GMT

I agree the with Waugh example. Waugh and Ponting are the highest capped Australian players, and a cursory look at their records would suggest they were of similar quality. They played the same amount of games, averages around the same. However Ponting has about 3000 more runs and 14 more hundreds, HUGE difference. Also Ponting batted no.3, so Ponting would have been of more value purely as a batsman, however Waugh was a tough and gritty cricketer and a good captain who gave spine to the Aussies so that also adds value to him as a player.

• xtrafalgarx on May 29, 2014, 11:04 GMT

Also it's WHEN you score runs. That's why Mark Waugh, who only averaged 41 is considered an Australian great, because most times wen Australia was in trouble he got runs, but missed out when the going was easier. The opposite is Ian Bell, who until very recently hardly ever performed at crunch times, which is why people are talking about him 'coming of age' in the past year yet he has nearly played 100 tests!

• eggyroe on May 29, 2014, 10:55 GMT

Of course not out's must be rewarded,it shows that the batsman was undefeated and the opposition were unable to remove him.What is the point in changing a system that has been in use for nearly 140 years in Test Match Cricket.The greatest batsman of all time without a shadow of doubt, Don Bradman played 80 Test Match innings and was only not out 10 times.Therefore if the not outs didn't count his average would have been a mere 87.45,still far ahead of anybody else who has had a Test Match Batting Average.The next question to be asked then if the Batting Average is to be replaced what about the Bowling Average,surely runs conceded against wickets taken is perfectly accurate,how would that system be replaced.It seems to me that the current system for both batting and bowling is working well and should not be tinkered with.@wapuser the batting average is calculated thus total runs scored divided by dismissals,but to achieve a Batting Average you have to be dismissed at some time.

• on May 29, 2014, 10:31 GMT

The "score" method however discounts the fact that, in certain conditions, against certain bowling attacks, batsmen thrived as opposed to a few others. In such cases, the batsmen got the better of the bowlers and hence remained 138 no or 276 no or even made a patient yet match winning 76 no.(just hypothetical figures). I'm not a big fan of averages however, as I believe Players like Dravid and Sehwag who average 30 and 25 in South Africa respectively, weren't bunnies of the short stuff, especially the former. A lot of factors go into considering the quality of batsmen. Eg. in South Africa, Dravid might have negotiated the bounce, movement and pace very well. But it takes just one tiny lapse of concentration for batsmen or that one unplayable delivery that might have gotten him out. How would you counter all of that? As NS Sidhu puts it, "Statistics are like mini skirts. They reveal a lot, but what they conceal is vital"

• on May 29, 2014, 7:27 GMT

Regarding Test champion ship. Every 3 years final. Each country plays each other a minium of 3 test each other home and away against all test status team. give point to matches won, drawn and lost. all other things we don in any world cup tournament. after every 3 years matches , thinker of the game, can think in these line. so need to concentrate effort in a period like the one day world cup or . this will show how a country play in 3 years over a period of time.

• on May 29, 2014, 6:08 GMT

Where does it take in account the quality of bowling attack. The pitch index, the batting credentials of the other members within the team and what not?

Just considering not out innings wont help. As someone rightly said what about all the number of runs a person could have scored had the innings not been declared or the match not termed closed due to the non-possibility of a result.

Basically a nice effort but lacks quite some insight

• May4sBeWithThem on May 29, 2014, 5:53 GMT

The basic premise of this article is that a batsman benefits because of the non-out status. I believe this is flawed. What about the runs that the batsman misses out on because of the not-out status? It's not his fault if the innings gets closed because of whatever reason - others dismissed, result attained, match abandoned, whatever.

• CricFan24 on May 29, 2014, 5:41 GMT

One must also keep in mind that Test cricket differs substantially from ODIs . In Test cricket time is rarely a constraint. A batsman may keep scoring , for all practical purposes. Further to my previous point once SRT goes past 25 , he averages 93 with 119 50+ scores out of 179 innings. This pattern will be similar for most top batsmen. Perhaps we may use the following method instead: 1)Look at the average number of runs added when a batsman is NO at a particular score. 2)So, for eg. if a batsman is NO on 30- How many runs does he average after that score. 3)If it is say 40, then add 40 to his total run tally. 4)Divide by the total number of innings.

• on May 29, 2014, 5:19 GMT

Interesting. What are "scores" of herbert sutcliffe, denis compton, the three Ws, and victor trumper - all of whom had fairly long innings - and g.pollock, headley, and dudley nourse jr who had short but flying careers?

• CricFan24 on May 29, 2014, 4:58 GMT

...cont... However, the batting average is the "best" flawed measure among those available. It does throw up anomalies such as Bradman otherwise it does not "create" an alternate reality. The batting average uses the actual data as is. Unlike say the RPI (or other concocted methods) which assume that even an "in" batsman is effectively out every NO innings without adding a run to his score.

• CricFan24 on May 29, 2014, 4:58 GMT

As it currently stands the batting average is the total runs scored divided by the number of completed innings. As is well known a good batsman when "in" will almost surely score well. In fact once a top batsman goes past as threshold of around 20-25 a near hundred score is on the cards. If you look at batting average as currently calculated Lara actually benefits the most. This is because he has the most completed innings. So- there is almost no doubt that he scored as much as he possibly could. Other batsmen, especially when in- missed out. Also, other than the 400 and 375 - Lara "averages" around 47 for the remainder of his 229 innings. One may argue then that the current method of calculating batting average benefits Lara most- contrary to the author's assertion. The batting average, like all measures, is a flawed measure. As such it can only be taken as one among various other measures- not the end all as it currently used.

Contd...

• on May 29, 2014, 4:35 GMT

Interesting idea! Just a question though - how is the score for a batsman across a career calculated? Is it the sum of the scores received for each innings (it appears that isn't the case)?

• Bubba2008 on May 29, 2014, 4:25 GMT

Why do not-outs make comparison of batting averages meaningless? This makes absolutely no sense to me, as the number of not-outs accumulated by a batsman are surely another method of measuring on how many occasions a batsman was able to outlast the opposition's bowling attack. Surely it would be less fair to count the end of every innings as a dismissal for the batsman, even if he was sitting pretty on 250* at the time. I think that would be entirely unfair to said batsman, who has worked hard for his runs and would then still end up with what is essentially a dismissal next to his name.

Of course team success contributes to the out or not-out status of the batsman, since the batsman are forced to play well if they want a victory for their team, meaning that at least two batsmen must remain not-out. It makes no sense at all to adjust the not-out count due to victories, since they are an essential part of success. I don't feel this article was well thought out.

• Bubba2008 on May 29, 2014, 4:25 GMT

Why do not-outs make comparison of batting averages meaningless? This makes absolutely no sense to me, as the number of not-outs accumulated by a batsman are surely another method of measuring on how many occasions a batsman was able to outlast the opposition's bowling attack. Surely it would be less fair to count the end of every innings as a dismissal for the batsman, even if he was sitting pretty on 250* at the time. I think that would be entirely unfair to said batsman, who has worked hard for his runs and would then still end up with what is essentially a dismissal next to his name.

Of course team success contributes to the out or not-out status of the batsman, since the batsman are forced to play well if they want a victory for their team, meaning that at least two batsmen must remain not-out. It makes no sense at all to adjust the not-out count due to victories, since they are an essential part of success. I don't feel this article was well thought out.

• on May 29, 2014, 4:35 GMT

Interesting idea! Just a question though - how is the score for a batsman across a career calculated? Is it the sum of the scores received for each innings (it appears that isn't the case)?

• CricFan24 on May 29, 2014, 4:58 GMT

As it currently stands the batting average is the total runs scored divided by the number of completed innings. As is well known a good batsman when "in" will almost surely score well. In fact once a top batsman goes past as threshold of around 20-25 a near hundred score is on the cards. If you look at batting average as currently calculated Lara actually benefits the most. This is because he has the most completed innings. So- there is almost no doubt that he scored as much as he possibly could. Other batsmen, especially when in- missed out. Also, other than the 400 and 375 - Lara "averages" around 47 for the remainder of his 229 innings. One may argue then that the current method of calculating batting average benefits Lara most- contrary to the author's assertion. The batting average, like all measures, is a flawed measure. As such it can only be taken as one among various other measures- not the end all as it currently used.

Contd...

• CricFan24 on May 29, 2014, 4:58 GMT

...cont... However, the batting average is the "best" flawed measure among those available. It does throw up anomalies such as Bradman otherwise it does not "create" an alternate reality. The batting average uses the actual data as is. Unlike say the RPI (or other concocted methods) which assume that even an "in" batsman is effectively out every NO innings without adding a run to his score.

• on May 29, 2014, 5:19 GMT

Interesting. What are "scores" of herbert sutcliffe, denis compton, the three Ws, and victor trumper - all of whom had fairly long innings - and g.pollock, headley, and dudley nourse jr who had short but flying careers?

• CricFan24 on May 29, 2014, 5:41 GMT

One must also keep in mind that Test cricket differs substantially from ODIs . In Test cricket time is rarely a constraint. A batsman may keep scoring , for all practical purposes. Further to my previous point once SRT goes past 25 , he averages 93 with 119 50+ scores out of 179 innings. This pattern will be similar for most top batsmen. Perhaps we may use the following method instead: 1)Look at the average number of runs added when a batsman is NO at a particular score. 2)So, for eg. if a batsman is NO on 30- How many runs does he average after that score. 3)If it is say 40, then add 40 to his total run tally. 4)Divide by the total number of innings.

• May4sBeWithThem on May 29, 2014, 5:53 GMT

The basic premise of this article is that a batsman benefits because of the non-out status. I believe this is flawed. What about the runs that the batsman misses out on because of the not-out status? It's not his fault if the innings gets closed because of whatever reason - others dismissed, result attained, match abandoned, whatever.

• on May 29, 2014, 6:08 GMT

Where does it take in account the quality of bowling attack. The pitch index, the batting credentials of the other members within the team and what not?

Just considering not out innings wont help. As someone rightly said what about all the number of runs a person could have scored had the innings not been declared or the match not termed closed due to the non-possibility of a result.

Basically a nice effort but lacks quite some insight

• on May 29, 2014, 7:27 GMT

Regarding Test champion ship. Every 3 years final. Each country plays each other a minium of 3 test each other home and away against all test status team. give point to matches won, drawn and lost. all other things we don in any world cup tournament. after every 3 years matches , thinker of the game, can think in these line. so need to concentrate effort in a period like the one day world cup or . this will show how a country play in 3 years over a period of time.

• on May 29, 2014, 10:31 GMT

The "score" method however discounts the fact that, in certain conditions, against certain bowling attacks, batsmen thrived as opposed to a few others. In such cases, the batsmen got the better of the bowlers and hence remained 138 no or 276 no or even made a patient yet match winning 76 no.(just hypothetical figures). I'm not a big fan of averages however, as I believe Players like Dravid and Sehwag who average 30 and 25 in South Africa respectively, weren't bunnies of the short stuff, especially the former. A lot of factors go into considering the quality of batsmen. Eg. in South Africa, Dravid might have negotiated the bounce, movement and pace very well. But it takes just one tiny lapse of concentration for batsmen or that one unplayable delivery that might have gotten him out. How would you counter all of that? As NS Sidhu puts it, "Statistics are like mini skirts. They reveal a lot, but what they conceal is vital"