June 30, 2000

Average century score in test cricket

Arshad H. Zaidi

Scoring a century has always been a great achievement in Test cricket. Apart from superlative batting capabilities, a great deal of concentration, dedication, patience and ability to stay at the wicket are also needed to record a three digit score in Test matches. It has been observed that many batsmen loose patience and throw their wicket after completing their hundred. If you look at the record book and score sheets you will find many incidents of batsmen dismissing just after completing their hundred. A very few have shown the ability to play long innings.

The ever great Don Bradman had the unmatchable and amazing ability to play long innings. His 29 centuries include 12 double hundred and another six scores of plus 150. In short, 18 out of his 29 century innings were in excess of 150 runs. His records show that he never settled for just a three figure innings but always went on to play big and long innings.

However, this sort of ability is not very common even in the best of batsmen. For example, Geoff Boycott has always been regarded as a batsman of highest class with the ability to stay at wickets against every type of bowling. He scored 22 centuries in Test cricket but could register only three knocks of over 150.

I made a study of those batsmen who have scored 12 or more Test centuries. The idea is to find their average century score. For example, Bradman scored 29 centuries. Sum up all the scores of his 29 centuries and divide by 29 to get his average century score. This will give an idea about his average length of each century innings, hence reflecting his ability to stay at the wicket and play big innings.

54 batsmen have scored 12 or more centuries. The break-up is: 16 from England, 13 from Australia, 11 from West Indies, 6 from India, 5 from Pakistan, 2 from New Zealand and one from Sri Lanka. No one has scored 12 or more hundreds for South Africa and Zimbabwe.

As expected DG Bradman heads the list, as his average century score is 185.97. Many would be surprised to know that Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan is at number two position with average century score of 179.83. Zaheer scored over 150 on eight occasions out of his 12 century innings. Brian Lara of West Indies is at number three spot with an average century score of 173.69. Other batsmen with average century score of 150 or more include Hammond, Hutton, Miandad, Gooch, Sobers and Weekes.

Among the current batsmen, Lara is at the top with an average century score of 173.69. This includes 7 innings of more than 150 runs including world record 375 against England. Steve Waugh of Australia is number two with average century score of 144.09. Waugh has so far scored 22 centuries, on 12 occasions he scored over 150 or more runs - a record for any current player - whereas his twin brother Mark Waugh crossed 150 mark only once in his 17 test centuries. What a contrasting difference between the two brothers! Little Indian wonder boy Tendulkar is at number three with average century score of 142.91.

Quite a few batsmen find very hard to play big innings. Allan Lamb of England is one such example. He scored 14 test centuries in his career but never able to cross 150 run mark. Mark Waugh is yet another such player who crossed 150 mark on just one occasion. Some big names like IM Chappell, AJ Stewart, RB Richardson, M Azharuddin, H Sutcliffe were never able to register a double hundred in their illustrated test career. The personal best of all these is somewhere between 190 and 200 runs. Few others like MA Atherton, DL Haynes, MC Cowdrey, JG Wright and AI Kallicharran registered their career best between 180 and 190.