Sachin Tendulkar's Test career in numbers November 18, 2013

At home across the world

Sachin Tendulkar's Test stats reflect consistency over a staggeringly long period, with the highlight being his numbers outside the subcontinent
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Fifteen thousand nine hundred and twenty-one. That's the new benchmark for longevity, consistency and durability that all Test batsmen will be measured against, for that's the final tally of Test runs that Sachin Tendulkar has finished with, in a 24-year journey that has combined flair and natural talent with relentless hard work and single-minded focus. Without either attribute he wouldn't have been able to succeed as much, and as consistently, as he did over an incredibly long period of time.

Apart from the sheer length of his career, what stands out is his consistency, both over different phases of his career, and in different conditions against different opposition. Against no team did he average less than 42 - the lowest averages were against Pakistan (42.28) and South Africa (42.46).

Even more impressively, he averaged at least 40 in every country he played in, unlike some of the other top batsmen who've had problems in at least one country. (Brian Lara averaged less than 40 in New Zealand and India, Jacques Kallis in England and Sri Lanka, Ricky Ponting in India, Inzamam-ul-Haq in Australia and South Africa, and Rahul Dravid in South Africa and Sri Lanka.) Tendulkar's lowest average, quite surprisingly, was in Zimbabwe - 40 in seven innings; it was also the only country where he didn't score a Test century. (Click here for Tendulkar's career summary as a Test batsman.)

What also stood out was how well he did outside the subcontinent: he averaged more than 50 in Australia and England, 49.52 in New Zealand, and 46.44 in South Africa, countries where subcontinent batsmen have often struggled.

Tendulkar's consistency also shines through when his career is split into blocks of 50 Tests. The lowest he averaged in one of those four blocks was 46.91, between Tests 101 and 150, a period during which he was also beset by tennis-elbow problems. Apart from that spell, his least productive period was the last couple of years, when his average dropped to 27.52 from 15 Tests, with no hundreds in 24 innings. At the end of 2011, Tendulkar averaged 56, but because of that lean spell, he finished at 53.78 (which is still outstanding by any standards). (Click here for his cumulative career average in Tests.)

Tendulkar's Test career, in blocks of 50 Tests
  Period Runs Average 100s/ 50s
First 50 Tests Nov 1989-Mar 1997 3438 49.82 11/ 16
51-100 Tests Mar 1997-Sep 2002 4967 65.35 19/ 18
101-150 Tests Oct 2002-Aug 2008 3472 46.91 9/ 15
151-200 Tests Aug 2008-Nov 2013 4044 52.51 12/ 19
Career Nov 1989-Nov 2013 15,921 53.78 51/ 68

His best phase

In 1992, Tendulkar scored three hundreds, and all of them were masterpieces - 148 not out in Sydney, 114 in Perth, and 111 in Johannesburg. He was ready for bigger things, but he still finished with a calendar-year average of 41.90, because in the remaining eight innings that year he totalled 46 runs - his scores in those innings read 6,17,5,0,11,1,6,0 - clearly, he needed to become more consistent.

Being a quick learner, Tendulkar grasped that lesson fast, and over the next ten-year period he was the most prolific batsman in world cricket. That was also the time when most opposition teams had a couple of world-class fast bowlers in their ranks: the overall batting average in those ten years was 29.59; in the next 11-year period it went up to 32.67.

For Tendulkar, though, that period between 1993 and 2002 was when he was head and shoulders above all other batsmen in world cricket. He averaged 62.30 from 85 Tests; the next-best, Steve Waugh, averaged 55.07. His masterpieces during that period included 122 at Edgbaston in 1996, 169 in Cape Town the following year, 113 in Wellington in 1998, 136 against Pakistan in Chennai in 1999, 116 against Australia in Melbourne later that year, and 155 in Bloemfontein in 2001. That India ended up losing all six of those matches was a reflection of the rest of the batsmen, and the Indian bowling attack, that Tendulkar had to play with and carry along. Not all his hundreds were in defeats, though: he also scored nine in wins during that period, most famously conquering Shane Warne when scoring an unbeaten 155 in the second innings in Chennai in 1998.

Highest averages in Tests between Jan 1993 and Dec 2002 (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 85 7726 62.30 27/ 31
Steve Waugh 109 7765 55.07 25/ 33
Rahul Dravid 69 5614 53.46 14/ 28
Matthew Hayden 37 3079 53.08 12/ 10
Andy Flower 60 4630 52.02 12/ 25
Jacques Kallis 65 4455 50.62 11/ 25
Brian Lara 86 7328 50.53 18/ 34
Inzamam-ul-Haq 80 6056 50.46 17/ 31
Ricky Ponting 63 4246 48.80 14/ 17
Mohammad Yousuf 42 3099 48.42 10/ 16

Pace and bounce? No problem

What stood out, and differentiated him from other Indian batsmen during that period, was the way he performed outside the subcontinent. The period from his debut to the end of 2001 was one where he had to shoulder the bulk of the run-scoring burden on tours; the golden period for Dravid was to start from 2002. The difference between him and the other batsmen was especially glaring in Australia and South Africa, because Dravid and Sourav Ganguly did score runs in England and New Zealand. Between 1991 and 2001, Tendulkar scored six centuries in 17 Tests in Australia and South Africa; all the other Indian batsmen put together managed only eight. In fact, of the first 21 Tests Tendulkar played, only one was at home, while 16 were outside the subcontinent (including one in Zimbabwe). Tendulkar had little experience of these conditions, but he coped quite well.

The table below shows how badly the other Indian batsmen struggled in those conditions between 1991 and 2001. Mohammad Azharuddin scored only 472 runs in 21 innings despite getting two hundreds - 14 times in those 21 innings he was dismissed for 15 or fewer; Sanjay Manjrekar's highest in 16 innings on those tours was 46; Dilip Vengsarkar totalled 158 from 9 innings, while VVS Laxman scored 244 from 11, excluding that memorable 167 in Sydney. Amid such batting failures, Tendulkar was a shining exception: in four of those five series, he averaged more than 40. Overall in those 17 Tests, he scored 19% of the total runs that were scored by all the Indian batsmen.

Indian batsmen in Australia and South Africa, between 1991 and 2001
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 17 1282 44.20 6/ 3
Mohammad Azharuddin 12 472 22.47 2/ 1
Rahul Dravid 8 472 31.46 1/ 2
Sourav Ganguly 8 469 31.26 0/ 3
VVS Laxman 7 411 41.10 1/ 1
Kapil Dev 9 367 26.21 1/ 1
Ravi Shastri 6 359 35.90 1/ 0
Manoj Prabhakar 9 336 24.00 0/ 3
Sanjay Manjrekar 9 313 22.35 0/ 0
Pravin Amre 4 169 33.80 1/ 0
Dilip Vengsarkar 5 158 17.55 0/ 2

The table below lists his percentage contribution to the total bat runs (excluding extras) that the team scored. It's clear that from 2002 his burden was considerably reduced. During Tendulkar's revival between 2009 and 2011 the percentage contribution went up to 16.87%, but in the last two years (15 Tests) it dropped to 8.75%.

Tendulkar's contribution to the team
Period Tendulkar's runs Team runs Percentage
Till Dec 1992 1085 9122 11.89
Jan 1993 to Dec 2001 6334 32,048 19.76
Jan '93 to Dec '01, in Aus, SA, NZ, Eng, WI 1783 8368 21.31
Jan 2002 onwards 8502 59,863 14.20
Overall 15,921 101,033 15.76

The rock at No.4

Of the 329 innings Tendulkar played in his Test career, 275 were at the No. 4 position. For the first 22 innings of his Test career Tendulkar batted at No. 6 or 7, but the change happened after his unbeaten 148 against Australia in Sydney in 1992. In the second innings of the next Test, in Adelaide, Tendulkar moved up to No. 4 - above Vengsarkar and Azharuddin - as India looked to chase a stiff fourth-innings target of 372. He scored only 17 in that innings (Azharuddin scored a century as India lost by 38 runs), but the next game was in Perth, and Tendulkar's stunning 114 - in only his second innings at No.4 - settled matters. From the time he first batted at No. 4, only 29 times did he deviate from that position, mostly because of a nightwatchman coming in at No. 3 or 4.

At No. 4, he finished with 13,492 runs, 4574 more than the next-highest. Kallis and Greg Chappell have better averages, but it's unlikely any batsman will touch his aggregate at that position.

Highest run-getters at No.4 in Tests
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 275 13,492 54.40 44/ 58
Jacques Kallis 168 8918 61.93 34/ 36
Mahela Jayawardene 177 8656 52.46 28/ 30
Brian Lara 148 7535 51.25 24/ 31
Javed Miandad 140 6925 54.10 19/ 31
Mark Waugh 170 6662 42.43 16/ 39
Kevin Pietersen 130 6199 49.59 19/ 25
Gundappa Viswanath 124 5081 43.05 12/ 31
Inzamam-ul-Haq 98 4867 52.90 15/ 21
Martin Crowe 106 4841 49.39 16/ 16
Aravinda de Silva 113 4543 44.10 15/ 16
Greg Chappell 86 4316 59.12 15/ 19

The table below lists Tendulkar's stats at No. 4 sorted by the team scores at which he came in to bat. Like you'd expect of any batsman, he was more prolific when the top three batsmen had given the team a good start: when he came in with the score reading 100 or more for the loss of two wickets, Tendulkar averaged 70.49, and scored 21 centuries from 97 such innings.

When he came in to bat very early - before India had scored 20 - Tendulkar's average dropped to 40.53. However, some of his most memorable innings came in such situations: when he scored 122 at Edgbaston against England in 1996, he came in at 17 for 2, and scored 122 out of a team total of 219. (The second-highest score in the innings was 18.) His 136 against Pakistan in Chennai came from an entry score of 6 for 2, while the Boxing Day 116 started from 11 for 2.

But it's also true that he was dismissed cheaply fairly often when he came in early: of the 37 times he came in at No. 4 before the total had reached 20, 15 times he was dismissed for single-digit scores.

However, his average went up to almost 51 when he came with the score between 20 and 49. Two of his double-centuries - 248 not out against Bangladesh and 214 against Australia - came from these entry scores, as did the 155 in Bloemfontein (2001) and the 146 in Cape Town (2011).

Tendulkar at No. 4 by point-of-entry scores
Score Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Less than 20 37 1459 40.53 5/ 5
21 to 49 68 3364 50.97 9/ 15
50-75 42 1409 40.26 4/ 8
76-99 31 1409 50.32 5/ 8
100-149 50 2640 61.39 9/ 9
150 and above 47 3211 80.28 12/ 13

At his best against the best

One of the most impressive aspects of Tendulkar's career is his record against the best team of his generation. Towards the last few years of his career Australia were clearly not the best team around, but for nearly two decades they set the standard, and Tendulkar was pretty impressive against them in almost every series. In 39 Tests against them Tendulkar averaged 55, with 11 centuries in 74 innings. This, despite averaging only 34.21 in his last 15 innings against them. In Australia, he averaged 53.20 from 20 Tests, with six centuries. Only Jack Hobbs, who made 12 hundreds from 41 matches, has scored more centuries against Australia than Tendulkar.

Between 1990 and 2008, no batsman who played at least 20 innings against them averaged more than Tendulkar's 56.08. In 30 innings in Australia during this period, Tendulkar averaged 58.53. With a 12 innings cut-off, only Virender Sehwag (59.50) averaged more. In 35 innings that Lara played in Australia over the same period, he averaged 41.97.

Highest batting averages v Aus between 1990 and 2008 (Qual: 20 inngs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 55 2748 56.08 10/ 11
VVS Laxman 44 2204 55.10 6/ 10
Kevin Pietersen 20 963 53.50 2/ 6
Virender Sehwag 30 1483 51.13 3/ 7
Brian Lara 58 2856 51.00 9/ 11
Ijaz Ahmed 20 913 50.72 5/ 1
Richie Richardson 24 1084 49.27 4/ 4
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 29 1210 48.40 4/ 7
Michael Vaughan 20 959 47.95 4/ 1
Graham Thorpe 31 1235 45.74 3/ 8

The fourth-innings chink

The one aspect of his Test batting which was underwhelming was his performances in the fourth innings. He still holds the record for most runs in this aspect as well, but this one is unlikely to remain with him for too long: his aggregate of 1625 is only 50 more than the second-best, and 92 more than the best among active players (Graeme Smith's 1533). Tendulkar scored only 10.2% of his total runs in the fourth innings, compared to 17% for Smith.

Tendulkar's fourth-innings average of 36.93 is disappointing too: among the 21 other batsmen who've scored 1000-plus fourth-innings runs, 18 have a better average. One of them who doesn't, though, is Brian Lara: his 1440 runs in the last innings came at an average of 35.12. And then there's also the curious case of Steve Waugh, who scored only 613 fourth-innings runs at an average of 25.54.

More Tendulkar stats

  • His career span of 24 years and a day is the fifth-longest in Test history.

  • Tendulkar's first-class tally of 50,192 ranks 16th in the all-time list. Tendulkar is the third non-England player - after Gordon Greenidge and Viv Richards - to enter the 50,000-first-class-runs club.

  • Six times Tendulkar scored 1000 or more Test runs in a calendar year, the most by any batsman.

  • Tendulkar scored 1000 or more Test runs against seven different opposition teams. Dravid is the only other batsman to achieve this feat.

  • Tendulkar is the youngest among Indian batsman to score a Test century (and the third-youngest overall). Had he scored a century in his last Test innings, he would have been the oldest Indian Test centurion as well.

  • With Dravid, Tendulkar put together 6920 partnership runs, the most by any pair. The 20 century stands between them is also a record.

  • In his entire Test career, Tendulkar was involved in 86 century stands, with 26 different partners. Only Dravid has more century partnerships in Tests.

  • Tendulkar was dismissed in the nineties ten times in Tests, the most for any batsman.

  • Six players won more Man-of-the-Match awards than Tendulkar. His 14, though, is the best by an Indian; Dravid's next on 11.

    With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman.

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

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • ravi-1967 on November 22, 2013, 8:09 GMT

      Checked a few more things as far as his centuries are concerned

      20 out of his 51 centuries resulted in a Win for India, 20 in Draws and 11 in Losses. I am sure if he failed some of the draws would have been losses for the team.

      36 out of his 51 (ie 70.5 %) centuries came against the below countries

      Australia, England, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka which were strong during his time

      Numbers speak volume of the man.

    • Karthi_2K11 on November 21, 2013, 9:25 GMT

      It is easy to be picky about SRT's record, as he is the one most exposed, with a greater attack surface or footprint, as he has played more Test Cricket than any of the other players in any era. In fact, he has played 27 more Test matches than all of the other top five Test players combined, of all eras ! (Wilfred Rhodes (24), Brian Close (26), Frank Woolley (25), George Headley (24), & John Traicos (23)). To say that SRT only performed well when the others in the team did too, & not always, when the team was in dire straits, is to disregard the statistical facts. Overall, he contributed approximately 16 % of the team total in any total, according to S. Rajesh. That is nearly a sixth of any total. Considering that India usually went in with 6 batters (the 2 openers & the "Fabulous Four" (Dravid, SRT, Ganguly, & Laxman)), he justified his place in the team, by contributing his share. Even his 4th inning "chink in the armour" is better than the great Lara's record, according to S. Rajesh

    • CherryWood_Champion on November 21, 2013, 4:13 GMT

      Everyone .. why even debate ... Four of the greatest cricketers have put SRT ahead or on par with them. AND I AM PRETTY SURE YOU ALL AGREE WE ARE ALL MERE MORTALS BEFORE THEM

      Don Bradman: "I was struck by his technique and told my wife that he is playing much the same as I used to play, there is a similarity between the two... his compactness,technique,stroke production it all seemed to gel."

      ""If there's any accolade I can place on him it's that, although everybody has their opinion about who is the best, but Sachin Tendulkar has definitely had the best cricket career out of any cricketer that I have known." - Lara

      "I didn't see Don but to me, in all my years associated with the game, I haven't seen a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar" said Viv Richards "If there is a better batsman than Sachin then he hasn't arrived yet." - Viv Richards

      Australian spin legend Shane Warne: "Sachin Tendulkar is, in my time, the best player without a doubt -- daylight second, Brian Lara third"

    • dummy4fb on November 20, 2013, 9:30 GMT

      CHris Kay - In my humble opinion the giants of the past two decades or so were Tendulkar,Lara,Kallis,Ponting and Dravid. I would put Tendulkar and Lara a shade above the rest because they were the best in the 1990s when conditions were definitely tougher as were bowlers. And then Tendulkar again a shade above Lara because of his lack of weaknesses against any team in any conditions...This is NOT to denigrate any of the other greats in any way at all. They are all phenomenal cricketers. Just my two bits...

    • OttawaRocks on November 20, 2013, 9:00 GMT

      @ RobertEddings: I remember Jon Davison of Canada having a very fast century against the WIndies in WC 2003. The Windies bowling attack was pretty hilarious as well.

    • dummy4fb on November 20, 2013, 8:58 GMT

      Another critical point to note - in the 1990s ,for batsmen who batted right through the decade just 3 ( yes, THREE) avg. 50+. Thus revealing of the batting conditons and bowlers then. By contrast in the 2000s onwards several Dozen batsmen avg. 50+. Till 2000 and avg. of 50+ was a preserve of the "Great"... Now, it has almost come into the "very good" category.

    • dummy4fb on November 20, 2013, 8:50 GMT

      Chris Kay - But to "level the playing field"- i.e most ppl honestly wouldn't put Sangakarra in with the likes of Tendulkar, lara etc. My fave stat is the MINUS minnows one in the 1990s, where Tendulkar avg. 59. For eg. from 2003-07 Tendulkar avg.39 minus minnows with some 50 batsmen avg more than him. When adding minnows his avg. looked somewhat respectable.

    • dummy4fb on November 20, 2013, 8:01 GMT

      Here's an even better stat . From Jan 1990 to Jan 2003 ( THIRTEEN years) Tendulkar avg. 58.5. The other modern day greats - Dravid 53.5, Waugh- 51.2 , Kallis 51.6, Lara -49.5 , Inzamam - 49, Ponting - 48.8. As mentioned, It is Tendulkar's subsequent injuries and the never-before-seen run glut from 2003-07 that allowed others to catch up on 13 yrs of outperformance by the Maestro.

    • Ankitsuperking on November 20, 2013, 7:56 GMT

      Sachin's first five series were an away tour and that included Pak, NZ, England, Aus and SA..A player who was 16 even got hit, yet he continued and was very impressive in all these tours. For someone who has hardly played such kind of attack and in such alien condition,this was very special and even world realized this is a making of great batsman... Than he really dominated in 90's where he was very destructive yet consistent all across the world and we should not forget the quality of attack he faced and burden of expectation he carried...Just to add to all the stats given above: Sachin scored 52 international hundreds between 1996 and 2002.. Who else can match this consistency at the peak of the career against quality attacks..Than came second phase of Sachin's career where because of injury he was not the same batsman as far as flamboyance is concerned but runs were not the issue as he scored quite consistently and in next 10 years as well...

    • dummy4fb on November 20, 2013, 7:46 GMT

      Sangakaras keeping or not is merely a coincidence. i.e correlation not causation. The same may then be said about Gilly,Dhoni et al. Also, Sangakarra is pretty poor on non-subcontinental tracks. Lara too is not so hot in Aus, Eng ,NZ ..the point is that it is possible that in any particular "metric" of your choosing a particular batsman may be ahead of Tendulkar. But when you put it all together i.e "Combined"- any where, any conditions, any bowlers, any format - how on earth can anyone go beyond Tendulkar as first pick ?