October 14, 2016

The Ashwin phenomenon

Key numbers from Ashwin's outstanding run over the last 15 months, including the margins by which he has outdone his peers, and his stats against top-order batsmen

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In the Tests that he has played, Ashwin has averaged 24.29, while all the other bowlers who have played in those Tests have collectively averaged 34.16. That means Ashwin has been 1.41 times as good as those other bowlers, in terms of average. Among all spinners with at least 200 wickets, only Muttiah Muralitharan and Clarrie Grimmett have had better ratios. Among all bowlers with 200-plus wickets, Ashwin is in 13th place; those above him include Dale Steyn, Glenn McGrath, Imran Khan, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Allan Donald.

Best ratio of averages - spinners (Min 200 wkts)

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In Asia, Ashwin has been even more effective, with an average of 20.07, compared to 33.70 by all other bowlers. Ashwin's ratio of 1.68 is third among all bowlers who have at least 100 wickets in Asia - only Imran and Muralitharan have done better. Among India's leading bowlers, Kapil Dev has a ratio of 1.27, Javagal Srinath 1.26, Harbhajan Singh 1.18, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar 1.15, and Bishan Bedi 1.12.

Best ratio of averages in Asia (Min 100 wkts in Asia)
Bowler Bowler ave Others' ave Ratio
  Imran Khan  20.28  35.51  1.75
  Muttiah Muralitharan  21.69  36.80  1.70
  Ravichandran Ashwin  20.07  33.70  1.68
  Shoaib Akhtar  24.25  37.70  1.55
  Waqar Younis  20.64  29.97  1.45
  Anil Kumble  27.00  37.60  1.39

Ashwin has made it a habit to dismiss the top opposition batsmen, and he often gets them out early. On the tour to Sri Lanka last year, he dismissed Kumar Sangakkara, who started the series with a career average of 58.04, for 5, 40, 32 and 18. In the home series against South Africa, he nailed Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers twice each, and in those four innings the two batsmen collectively scored 96. Similarly, Kane Williamson fell four times to Ashwin for an aggregate of 135.

All of these batsmen started the series with 50-plus career averages, but generally fell to Ashwin fairly early in their innings. That has been a feature of Ashwin's performances, especially in Asia. He has dismissed batsmen in the top five (Nos. 1-5) in the opposition line-up 88 times in Tests in Asia; the average difference between the batsman's average coming into that Test, and the score at which he was dismissed by Ashwin, has been 15.97. (A simple example of this would be a batsman averaging 50 being dismissed for 34, which is 16 runs below his average.)

This is the highest difference among all spinners who have taken at least 50 top-five wickets in Asia. The corresponding wicket value for Kumble is 0.34, for Harbhajan -2, and for Muralitharan -2.61, which illustrates how effective Ashwin has been at getting good batsmen out early.

Highest wicket-value of dismissals - spinners (Min 50 dismissals in Asia)

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

His overall average against the top five batsmen is 30.51, the best among all spinners who have taken at least 50 top-five wickets in the last ten years. Among all bowlers, Ashwin is fifth, next only to Steyn (average 26.20), Vernon Philander (27), Ryan Harris (28.21) and James Anderson (29.75).

Best averages against top five batsmen - spinners (Min 50 wkts)
Spinner Wickets Average
 R Ashwin  110  30.51
 Graeme Swann  130  33.75
 Rangana Herath  143  35.17
 Pragyan Ojha  64  35.3
 Saeed Ajmal  87  35.64

Ashwin is one of only three players to score 500-plus runs and take 100 or more wickets over a 15-Test period - Imran Khan and Shane Warne are the others. Imran scored 628 runs and took 102 wickets between December 1980 and January 1983, while Warne scored 517 runs and took 100 wickets between November 2001 and March 2004. Ashwin has scored 503 runs and taken 101 wickets in his last 15 Tests.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In the 21 Test wins that Ashwin has been a part of, he has taken 151 wickets out of a team total of 419, which means he has taken 36% of the team's wickets. Among all bowlers who have taken at least 100 wickets in wins, only four have taken a higher percentage of their team's wickets.

Highest percentage of team wickets in wins

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Ashwin has become only the third player to win four successive Man-of-the-Series awards - he did so against Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand. Only Marshall and Imran have ever done this before. Marshall won four in a row between 1984 and 1986, while Imran won four awards between 1986 and 1988, with three of his four series being away ones - in India, England and the West Indies. Incidentally, both Marshall and Imran won the series awards in the Pakistan-West Indies series in 1986 - it was the last of Marshall's sequence of four, and the first of four in a row for Imran.

Ashwin has already won four in a row, and with home series against England and Australia to follow, he could well become the first to win five or even six in a row if he continues his irresistible form.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter. Shiva Jayaraman is a senior sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com. @shiva_cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Stallion on October 19, 2016, 4:47 GMT

    People seem to think Ashwin is a bully at home and tame when playing in unfavorable conditions. Lets compare him to other great spinners R Ashwin's stats are as follows: http://imgur.com/a/5cLEH First off, the sample size is just too small - the 1 test in South Africa, only 2 tests in England. The major glaring hole in terms of averages is in Australia, where he has taken 21 wickets at an average of 54. Let's see Murali and Harbhajan. Murali away record: http://imgur.com/a/I8ohr 13 wickets at 75 in Aus Harbhajan away record: http://imgur.com/a/Es43G 9 wickets at 73 in Aus +1 to Ash Murali and Warne - they got absolutely pumped in massively favorable conditions in India (ave's well north of 40). +2 to Ash Warne and Murali dominate in England. Murali took 48 wickets in 6 tests at 19 a piece, while Warne took 129 wickets in 22. We need to have Ashwin tour there one more time before we jump to any kind of conclusion. Its unfair to compare without knowing the facts.

  • Andrew on October 17, 2016, 10:27 GMT

    I see he has a brilliant home record ... but how is his away record away from Asia ... He has payed 13 of his 39 tests outside of Asia and has an average of 42.73 for his 41 wickets ... He scored 2 hundreds and 2 5fors against the West Indies in 4 tests all coming this year ... He still has to bowl in Africa, where he only played one game ... In Australia he has very average figures 54.71 with the ball in 6 matches ... So what will change in the coming years away from home?

  • Muhammad Ali on October 17, 2016, 4:00 GMT

    @RAJESH_INDIA_1990: "What a legend this Ashwin is..It's more enjoyable to watch high class spin bowling than fast bowling..": Bro, you can only enjoy spin as your country has not produced even one genuine fast bowler.

  • Muhammad Ali on October 17, 2016, 2:40 GMT

    Thanks Rajesh for wonderful comparison. Imran Khan features in most of the lists which goes on to prove that he indeed was the best all rounder of the 80s. Also, traditionally in Asian Sub-Continent, spinners dominate, but for Pakistan, the likes of Imran, Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib Akhtar feature in the list shows the domination of Pakistani pace bowlers in Asia, for which we are the best.

  • jaganr4926971 on October 17, 2016, 0:52 GMT

    @rajesh - There is some discussion/action on how to revive interest in test cricket. I have some suggestion, hope you find it interesting.

    My take on things are its the high scoring draw test matches that puts off people. Instead of playing at their own pace, we should encourage some strategic changes which will lead to high scoring or tactical play. How?

    We have say 90*4+100 overs for a test match = 460. Lets split this into 4 one for each innings. 1st innings for each team will be max 130 overs. 2nd innings for each team is 100 overs max. For every over that you use more than 130 overs in the first innings 2 overs will be docked from your second innings, if that will add some more spice.

    I see lot of benefits with this. But running out of character limit here, so stopping with this.

    If you find the suggestion interesting please take it fwd based on your analysis and articles, which I hope will reach dave richardson and the ICC :)

  • nathan on October 16, 2016, 22:42 GMT

    Wow - see a lot of people comparing him to Murli and Warne. These stats are a terrible portrayal of a player playing in spin friendly conditions/to many games at home. Please have a look at stats guru's statistics for Ashwin outside of India, Asia and the West Indies (spin friendly conditions all of them)...

    He averages nearly 60 with the ball outside of the conditions mentioned above. Both Murli and Warne averaged no where near as bad as this in Asia or India...

    You cannot compare a guy who plays most of his games in India, to greats who traveled the world playing in all conditions and succeeding. Yes, their stats weren't as great in some countries. But warne and murli never averaged nearly 60 in India... Like Ashwin does in England, South African, New Zealand and Australian conditions. To be a great you have to perform everywhere. He's missing from 3 of the better teams in the world... Aus, SA and Eng


    Stat guru is a magic way of checking for the true story people, use it

  • Vasava on October 16, 2016, 19:05 GMT

    @cheesevantonder then how will you call warne and murli as world class bowlers because their average in INDIA is pathetic to say the least

  • Tey on October 16, 2016, 15:54 GMT

    He should be. He is the only modern off spinner who is allowed to chuck (according to new standards.) He is no different than Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez (backed by orphans) but Ashwin has a strong cricket board behind him. Another world beater Murli in the making. Teymoor Dallas Texas

  • Cheese on October 16, 2016, 10:13 GMT

    Good bowler but not a great or world-class. To have that throne you need to be a match winner all round the the world. Not just at home on spoon-fed pre prescribed pitches.

  • talha on October 16, 2016, 8:59 GMT

    And we should remember that for most of those 10 years Imran was also the captain. A series win in India, in Eng and almost in WI (1988). Must remember there were no neutral umpires in those series. Imran was also the first man who spoke for neutral umpires and also practised it. Plus winners in 3 six nations ODI tournaments. 1986 and 1990 Australasia cups and 1989 Nehru Cup in India (where he was the man of series and MOM in final against mighty WI). And the final glory of 1992 WC. A Genuine Great of the Game!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.