The Numbers Game - 2006 January 5, 2007

When Lee outbatted Tendulkar



Michael Hussey topped the left-hand run scorers table this year 965 runs at 80.41 © Getty Images

Six of the seven highest run-scorers in Tests in 2006 were right-handers, but the lefties still managed to edge ahead in the overall averages for the year. Thanks to the contributions of Michael Hussey - 965 runs at 80.41 - and Kumar Sangakkara - 1242 at 69 - and handy contributions by Ashwell Prince, Stephen Fleming and Alastair Cook, the top-order left-handers (Nos. 1 to 7) averaged more than 39, which was marginally more than their right-handed counterparts.

Among the top batsmen, the major disappointment of the year was Sachin Tendulkar. He managed just 267 runs from eight Tests at 24.27, and had to wait till his last match of the year to register his first fifty-plus score (63 in the first innings at Durban). To put his stats in perspective, Tendulkar averaged lesser than the likes of Brett Lee and Mohammad Rafique.

Top-order right and left-handers in 2006
Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Right-handers 26,518 37.93 62/ 124
Left-handers 13,742 39.26 31/ 64
The story is somewhat similar for the bowlers as well. The spinners hogged the limelight - Muttiah Muralitharan had a fabulous year with 90 victims, while Shane Warne broke the 700 barrier - but the fast bowlers still ended up conceding nearly three fewer runs per wicket. Makhaya Ntini led the pacers' pack with 58 wickets at 21.60, while the outstanding newcomer of the year was Sreesanth, with 35 wickets from seven Tests at a superb average of 24.40. Some of the successful spinners, on the other hand, conceded far more runs per wicket - Anil Kumble's 57 wickets came at an average of 33.50, while Danish Kaneria averaged 41.07 for his 40 wickets.

Spinners versus fast bowlers in 2006
Wickets Average 5WI/ 10 WM
Fast bowlers 951 33.60 29/ 4
Spinners 444 36.36 23/ 5

Mohammad Yousuf was dominant against all sorts of bowlers in 2006, but he was especially unstoppable against pace, which is an especially good sign considering Pakistan's first assignment of 2007 is a tour to South Africa. Yousuf fell to fast bowlers only six times in the entire year, and the only one to nail him more than once was Steve Harmison, whose two successes against Yousuf came at a cost of 75.50 runs per wicket. Against spin, though, Yousuf was relatively more fallible, being dismissed by them ten times, including thrice by Monty Panesar.

Best batsmen against pace (Qual: at least 350 balls faced)
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average
Mohammad Yousuf 1144 1780 6 190.67
Michael Hussey 539 1062 5 107.80
Ricky Ponting 869 1374 9 96.55
Younis Khan 749 1274 9 83.22
Kumar Sangakkara 689 1227 10 68.90
Rahul Dravid 666 1768 10 66.60



Jacques Kallis had a great year against spin with one dismissal for 339 runs. But he compensated against pace with 12 dismissals for 359 runs © Getty Images

If Yousuf was the king against pace, then Jacques Kallis was awesome against spin in 2006, averaging 221 against them. Shane Warne was the only spinner to dismiss him, but even he conceded 98 runs from the 181 balls he bowled to Kallis. Against pace, though, he was surprisingly suspect, averaging just 29.91 (12 dismissals for 359 runs). Australia's Stuart Clark clearly had his number, dismissing him four times at the cost of just 37 runs. Jason Gillespie is a surprise entry among the top five players against spin, thanks to his unbeaten 201 against Bangladesh at Chittagong.

Best batsmen against spin (Qual: at least 350 balls faced)
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average
Jacques Kallis 221 399 1 221.00
Ricky Ponting 380 652 2 190.00
Jason Gillespie 142 356 1 142.00
Rahu Dravid 342 592 3 114.00
Mahela Jayawardene 337 559 3 112.33
Alastair Cook 318 869 4 79.50

Just as Ricky Ponting handled pace and spin with equal aplomb through 2006, some of the bowlers in the two tables below were equally lethal against right and left-handers. Muralitharan, Asif and Clark comfortably fall in this category. On the other hand, Shaun Pollock's stats reveal that he enjoyed bowling in the channel to the right-handers far more: he averaged 24.12 against them (16 wickets for 386 runs) but against the lefties he leaked 339 runs and managed just three wickets - a dismal average of 113.

Best bowlers against left-handers (at least 300 deliveries)
Bowler Balls bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Runs per wicket
Stuart Clark 541 188 12 15.66
Muttiah Muralitharan 1352 521 24 21.70
Mohammad Asif 459 250 11 22.72
Lasith Malinga 522 307 13 23.61
Glenn McGrath 452 166 7 23.71
Matthew Hoggard 1093 547 23 23.78

Best bowlers against right-handers (at least 300 deliveries)
Bowler Balls bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Runs per wicket
Kyle Mills 370 176 12 14.66
Mohammad Asif 600 281 19 14.78
Muttiah Muralitharan 2197 982 66 14.87
Stuart Clark 1298 547 30 18.23
Makhaya Ntini 1208 688 37 18.59
Dilhara Fernando 409 285 11 18.63

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo