ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

The best Test batsmen at home

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is among the best batsmen in the world in home Tests, which was demonstrated once again against familiar opposition, Australia

S Rajesh

April 13, 2012

Comments: 78 | Text size: A | A

Shivnarine Chanderpaul hits a six, India v West Indies, 1st Test, New Delhi, 1st day
Shivnarine Chanderpaul averages more than 63 against five teams in home Tests © Associated Press

After the second day of the Barbados Test between West Indies and Australia, Shane Watson almost seemed at his wits' end as he tried to search for ways to curb Shivnarine Chanderpaul after he had defied Australia's bowlers for almost six-and-a-half hours in scoring an unbeaten 103. "The way he plays, getting back and across and being able to use his hands to get the ball into the gaps, and he does it for such a long period of time, it's hard to actually find a way for him to play a false shot because of the way he's set up for these conditions here," Watson said. Australia did find a way through Chanderpaul's defenses in the second innings when Ryan Harris produced a gem which took the outside edge of his bat, but by then he had already become the highest run-getter in Tests in Barbados, and had scored five centuries in seven home Tests against Australia.

Chanderpaul's overall career stats are pretty impressive, but at home those numbers take another dimension altogether. Of the nine teams he has played against, he averages more than 63 against five of them. The Indians have suffered more than most teams, also because they've played against him in home conditions so often - 17 Tests have fetched him 1547 runs, which is almost 30% of the total Test runs he has scored at home.

The only team that has kept his runs under control in the West Indies over a significant number of matches is England: in 18 home Tests against them, Chanderpaul has managed only two hundreds, and an average of 40. In fact, England is the one team against whom Chanderpaul has a much better away average - 64.66, in 13 Tests.

Despite that blip against England, Chanderpaul's overall home average is more than 58, which puts him in the top ten among batsmen who've scored at least 4000 runs at home. The table below lists the batsmen with the highest home averages (with the cut-off mentioned earlier), and also lists the difference between their home and away averages. Chanderpaul's is 16.27, which is one of the higher differences - in fact, the only batsman with a higher difference is Mahela Jayawardene, whose away average of 37.94 is nowhere near his mean in home Tests.

On the other hand, there are three batsmen for whom the difference is less than five. Two of them are contemporary names, and among the greatest batsmen ever - for Jacques Kallis, the home average of 58.59 is quite an achievement given that pitches in his home country often offer a fair amount of assistance to the bowlers. Sachin Tendulkar's averages in Australia and England are the stand-out ones among his overseas numbers. The third among those three is Don Bradman, who only played in Australia and England, and clearly preferred playing in England.

Highest averages in home Tests (Qual: 4000 runs)
Batsman Home Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s Away ave Difference*
Don Bradman 33 4322 98.22 18/ 10 102.84 -4.62
Garry Sobers 44 4075 66.80 14/ 12 50.73 16.07
Mahela Jayawardene 72 6646 63.90 22/ 30 37.94 25.96
Javed Miandad 60 4481 61.38 14/ 17 45.80 15.58
Kumar Sangakkara 60 5186 59.60 16/ 19 49.95 9.65
Ricky Ponting 89 7546 58.95 23/ 38 46.87 12.08
Brian Lara 65 6217 58.65 17/ 26 47.80 10.85
Jacques Kallis 82 6738 58.59 22/ 32 54.76 3.83
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 67 5213 58.57 17/ 26 42.30 16.27
Virender Sehwag 44 4248 58.19 12/ 19 44.65 13.54
Matthew Hayden 56 5210 57.88 21/ 16 42.68 15.20
Sachin Tendulkar 82 6765 56.37 22/ 29 54.74 1.63
* Home average minus away average

Coming back to Chanderpaul, his home-away stats against Australia presents an interesting contrast: at home against them, he is completely on top of his game. His last nine Test innings against them at home reads thus: 104, 118, 11, 107*, 77*, 79*, 50, 103* and 12 - 661 runs for five dismissals, at an average of 132.20. No wonder Watson seemed so frustrated when he spoke about Chanderpaul. But he also mentioned "in these conditions", because on Australian pitches, Chanderpaul has hardly been as prolific. His overall average in 11 Tests in Australia is only 30.20, and his last ten Test innings there read thus: 2, 7, 39, 10, 25, 4, 2, 2, 62, 27 - 180 runs at 18.00.

The difference of 51.20 between Chanderpaul's home and away averages against Australia is a significant one, but the table below shows that there are quite a few instances of even higher differences between home and away averages for batsmen against a particular team. On top of the list is Zaheer Abbas, with his record against India: at home against them he was unstoppable, scoring six centuries - all of them 150-plus scores - in 13 innings; in India, though, Zaheer's record was quite disappointing, with only score of more than 50 in 12 innings. The difference between his home and away averages was a staggering 130.10.

In fact, India is a recurring name in the opposition column in the table below - five of the top 12 differences in averages have been against India. That indicates a couple of things: how effective the Indian bowlers are in home conditions, and how poorly they adjust overseas. There are also a couple of Sri Lankans there, and Jayawardene is one of three batsmen whose name appears twice in the list below. Given that his overall overseas average is so much below his home stats, that isn't a surprise. He recently had another fantastic home series against them, but his overseas numbers against them and South Africa are quite ordinary.

Peter May and Virender Sehwag are the others with twin appearances in the table below. May had superb numbers at home against West Indies and South Africa, but didn't much enjoy touring those countries - in South Africa, he averaged only 15.30 in five Tests. Sehwag started his international career with some stunning knocks in South Africa, Australia and England, but over the last few years, his away stats have taken a beating, which is reflected in his home average being more than 13 runs higher than his away average.

Highest home-away difference in average for a batsman v an opposition (Qual: 5 Tests*)
Batsman Opposition Home-Tests, average Away-Tests, average Difference
Zaheer Abbas India 11, 158.55 8, 28.45 130.10
Thilan Samaraweera India 7, 130.40 6, 24.12 106.28
Mahela Jayawardene South Africa 7, 105.27 8, 27.87 77.40
Mudassar Nazar India 10, 97.54 8, 29.83 67.71
Harbajan Singh New Zealand 7, 81.00 6, 13.50 67.50
Peter May West Indies 5, 97.80 8, 35.50 62.30
Ricky Ponting India 15, 86.04 14, 26.48 59.56
Virender Sehwag South Africa 7, 84.00 8, 25.47 58.53
Tom Graveney West Indies 9, 91.45 10, 35.07 56.39
Mahela Jayawardene England 11, 89.00 10, 34.11 54.89
Peter May South Africa 7, 68.45 5, 15.30 53.15
Doug Walters India 5, 94.00 5, 40.86 53.14
Virender Sehwag New Zealand 5, 71.87 5, 20.00 51.87
Mohammad Azharuddin England 6, 93.29 9, 41.67 51.62
Adam Parore Zimbabwe 5, 79.25 6, 28.00 51.25
Shivnarine Chanderpaul Australia 7, 81.40 11, 30.20 51.20
* Five Tests each at home and away

Some stats contributed by Travis Basevi.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Comments: 78 
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Posted by Billy on (April 16, 2012, 21:14 GMT)

@csowmi7, what I'm saying is that it is easier coming in at no.4 than it is at no.3. That is a fact, no need to argue. Now to address your points, Kallis did ok in Australia, averaged 46. He did poorly in England, which does count against him. And your assertion about Strauss and Lara is absurd and shows you haven't read my post properly. For simplicity's sake, Strauss averages 40, Lara averages 50. Batting position matters but does not account for 10 runs difference. And Lara played in and captained a weak team, had entertainment value, etc (all positive adjustments). If you read my earlier post, this is about comparing the true greats, who all have excellent records. A true comparison is to compare Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar and Kallis all of whom average over 50. That's when the true game begins.

Posted by Billy on (April 16, 2012, 20:57 GMT)

@puroniks, no I'm from Australia. To address your points, yes, there are plenty of adjustments to be made. South Africa have better openers but don't forget, Sehwag and Dravid have given India solid platforms to build in the past, so Tendulkar still has an advantage coming in at four (Kallis batted half his career at 3 and is now at 4). The longevity factor including all the ODIs Tendulkar has played is the biggest positive adjustment that counts heavily to his greatness. 23 years is a long time and significantly longer than the current next best, Ponting at 16 years. Having said that, I still feel that Kallis as an all-rounder deserves credit. It is extremely hard to bowl 10 to 15 overs per innings at over 130km/h for 14 years and then bat in the top order. The only living example of this is Shane Watson and he struggles to maintain his concentration to convert fifties to hundreds, something Kallis also struggled with.

Posted by sowmi on (April 16, 2012, 18:03 GMT)

@billycc your arguments are pointless and have no meaning. What you're saying is that because tendulkar batted at number 4 he has a better record in England and Australia than Kallis who batted at number 3. Kallis simply lacked the technique and desire to score in these two countries. The batting position has nothing to do with it. Going by your logic Andrew Strauss is a better batsman than Lara because he opened the batting and had to face the new ball unlike Lara who came 2 down. Agreed that Kallis is the greatest all rounder in the modern era but talking from pure batsman-ship Tendulkar is ahead.

Posted by nikhil on (April 16, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

Mr. Billy, Ok so u mean greatest as in greatest" all round cricketer"? But kallis bats at 4 right after amla for the last 4-5 years?. U cant say no. 4 is an easier position to bat for sachin then no. 3 for kallis. Admitedly, sa has has better, consistenty had better openers than india and so sachin has had to come in a lot earlier than say, if india had better openers. (thats an adjustment to make also, perhaps?) and what about ODIS? Sachin has had to face the best of the opposition new ball bowlers consistently throughout, and he has scored at a very fast, pace always setting the tone, something kallis cant really boast of. So in purely terms of batting, sachin wins hands down unquestionably. But surely kallis contributes with the ball too, but just one point, i wouldnt say kallis is really a threateing matchwinning bowler really, in tests or odis so ur saying kallis the best of his time (all round ) just because he bowls as well? BTW, I like Ur thinking:) are u from SA?:)

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 16, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

@Swingit I like ur coments but not totally the way u describe Indian spinner (that include Kumble and Harbhajhan who has taken more than 600 and 400 wkts respectively) as garbage no one can buy.If Gayle has so much passionate about the game he will Currently in west indian cricket board not showing his talent in Cash riched Cricket Circus.Lara failure in limited sereis in india too means, if Sachin havent been perofrmed any specific country every one would went after him.Still both of them are great on equal ranks

Posted by Billy on (April 16, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

@puroniks, I don't know how to put it any more simply, it's an easy concept to understand. Yes, Sachin is the best batsman of his generation but greatness is about so many different factors and adjustments have to be made if you truly want to compare apples with apples. You can't ignore these other factors. I'll refer to an earlier post you made: Sachin's record outshines Kallis' in England and Australia. That is a positive adjustment for Tendulkar. But Kallis batted at three, which is ultimately a much harder position. You would expect a no.3 batsman to have a worse record than a no.4 batsman, and so Kallis gets a positive adjustment for that. And let's not even mention the bowling, that would be game set and match.

Posted by nikhil on (April 16, 2012, 1:15 GMT)

Mr BillyCC I dont really get what u are saying and am sure the others dont get it either i aint sure if u urself exactly know what u want to say ... sachin is the best but not the greatest? then who is the greatest? what is the difference between best and greatest Plz enlighten us ... ur agrument is very weak and ambivalent:) Plz publish thanks.

Posted by Billy on (April 15, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

@all, there seems to be a lot of irrelevant discussion concerning the topic. The best Test batsmen at home are listed in the table comparing averages and it's pretty clear that Bradman, Sobers, Jayawardene and Miandad stand well above all the others. On the other topic, there seems to be a misunderstanding between the term "best" and "greatest". These terms are different especially when ranking amongst players with similar records. Best is about a judgment of technique, talent, eye-catching and overall quantity and quality. Greatness is a judgment of everything mentioned above, but adjusting for the oranges or apples eg. captaincy (Ponting), batting position (Ponting, Kallis), longevity (Tendulkar), all-rounder capability (Kallis, Sobers), how often you changed the status of a game (Richards). The best batsman of this generation is Tendulkar and this is confirmed by commentators who confuse the terms. However, it is very clear that he is not necessarily the greatest of this generation.

Posted by Walter on (April 15, 2012, 16:38 GMT)

@zxaar Apparently you have trouble comprehending the point. The point was that Kallis is much more than just a batsman. No matter how many wickets or catches he takes he will always be compared to the greatest batsmen of our era which is why i brought up my previous point. Why would you want to compare appels with oranges? You might not be a Kallis fan but you cant simply ignore his bowling and fielding just because it suits you.

Posted by nikhil on (April 15, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

Richie benaus has said sachin is the best since bradman.. viv richards has said sachin is 99.5 percent perfect. hadlee has said sachin is the best ever. sobers had said he is the best in the world. does kallis or ponting ever get such compliments?! No.Donald, akram , pollock , warne, lee have all said he is the best they have bowled to. aand yeah for anyone saying ricky has played mor match winning inns coz he has most no. of wins is ABSOLUTE TRIPE.GIBBERSIH. he has that many wins coz of the 8-9 others in the team, wrne mcgrth lee gilly haydos waugh langer.team effort. if sachin had that team then obvi even he would have that many wins. that is the most ridiculous stat ever. in the mid 90s India was a one man show and sachin bailed India to a draw from a loss so many times. ina test u need matchwinning bowlers which India has never had. by randy oz'S LOGIC DAMIEN MARTYN IS BETTER THAN LARA COS MARTYN HAD MORE 'WINS !!SRT's all round bat. record is UNMATCHED.PLZ POST!!PLZ!

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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