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ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

The Numbers Game

The Waugh that raged during crises

S Rajesh examines Steve Waugh's appetite for the big hundred and the value that he brought to the Australian team

S Rajesh

November 28, 2003

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Perhaps numbers do never reveal the full story, but they tell a large part of it fairly well. Every Friday, The Numbers Game will take a look at statistics from the present and the past, busting myths and revealing hidden truths.

Waugh to the rescue
Sachin Tendulkar steals a march over him in terms of technical perfection and allround strokeplay, Brian Lara's genius is far more exhilarating to watch, but ask anyone to name a batsman most likely to bail his team out of trouble, and chances are the name will be Steve Waugh. As the table below shows, Waugh saved his best for times when his side was in trouble: of his 32 centuries, nine came in back-to-the-wall situations when Australia had lost early wickets. Significantly, Australia went on to win five out of those eight matches. (Two of those nine hundreds came in the same match, against England at Manchester in 1997.)

Nine instances when Waugh played saviour
Versus
Venue
Score
Entered at
Team innings
Winner
West Indies Jamaica 1994-95
200
73 for 3
1st
Australia
England Manchester, 1997
108
42 for 3
1st
Australia
England Manchester, 1997
116
39 for 3
2nd
Australia
Pakistan Rawalpindi, 1998-99
157
28 for 3
1st
Australia
West Indies Jamaica, 1998-99
100
46 for 3
1st
West Indies
West Indies Barbados, 1998-99
199
36 for 3
1st
West Indies
India Adelaide, 1999-00
150
45 for 3
1st
Australia
New Zealand Wellington, 1999-00
151*
51 for 4
1st
Australia
England Sydney, 2002-03
102
56 for 3
1st
England

Eight out of these nine were first-innings efforts, though. For all of Waugh's ability to turn it on at the crunch, his second-innings stats are surprisingly ordinary - just two hundreds and an average of less than 31.

Innings Runs Ave 100s 50s
Waugh in the 1st innings 162 8469 61.81 30 38
Waugh in the 2nd innings 91 2191 30.85 2 10

* * * * * *

Better than the Don
And here's one stat where Waugh outperforms even Don Bradman: in the 32 innings in which Waugh has scored a hundred, he averages more than 255, which is the highest among batsmen with at least 20 centuries. Bradman is in fourth place while Sachin Tendulkar just makes it to the top eight. Waugh's staggering average is, admittedly, a result of a disproportionately high number of not-outs: 15 out of his 32 centuries have been unbeaten ones. Disregard those, and his average comes down to a more earthy 135.

100s
Runs in 100s
Not-outs
Ave
Runs/innings
Waugh
32
4342
15
255.41
135.69
Hammond
22
3685
7
245.67
167.50
Miandad
23
3584
8
238.93
155.83
Bradman
29
5393
6
234.48
185.97
Sobers
26
3918
9
230.47
150.69
Border
27
3580
11
223.75
132.59
Boycott
22
2830
7
188.67
128.64
Tendulkar
31
4513
7
188.04
145.58

* * * * * *

The dead-rubber master
Waugh's incredible record as captain has much to do with the fact that he was handed a champion side by Mark Taylor, but Waugh has undoubtedly taken the team to an even higher level. He has instilled in them the hard-nosed and ruthless approach that characterises his own game. Nowhere is this new steel more apparent than in Australia's tendency to show no mercy even when their opponent has been well and truly beaten. During Taylor's days, Australia recorded some historic wins, but would tend to slip up once the main task at hand - winning the series - was completed. As the table below shows, under Waugh the Australians have significantly improved their record in dead rubbers: despite recent defeats against England and West Indies, their win-loss record in dead Tests is an impressive 11-3.

Overall as captain
Tests
Won
Lost
Win-loss ratio
Taylor
50
26

13

2:1
Waugh
53
40
8
5:1
In dead rubbers
Tests
Won
Lost
Win-loss ratio
Taylor
6
1
4
0.25:1
Waugh
14
11
3
3.67:1

* * * * * *

The motivator
A captain is recognised not only by the ability to lift his own game, but also by the ability to inspire his team-mates to excel. Since Waugh had a team which was largely unchanged from the players whom Taylor led, it becomes possible to compare how the players performed under those two captains. Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting have done considerably better under Waugh, but it's interesting to note that Mark Waugh was at his best when playing under Taylor.

Among the bowlers, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have played plenty of matches under both captains, and their performances have remained more or less constant. With players as accomplished as them, though, chances are that they would have performed just as well even in a team without a captain.

How players performed under ...
Taylor
Waugh
Tests
Runs
Ave
Tests
Runs
Ave
Hayden
6
241
24.10
37
3654
67.67
Langer
11
747
41.50
50
3695
48.62
Ponting
22
1209
36.64
47
3587
59.78
Slater
30
2358
44.49
27
1676
38.98
M Waugh
50
3663
45.79
40
2025
36.16
Tests
Wkts
Ave
Tests
Wkts
Ave
McGrath
40
190
22.38
48
217
20.07
Warne
42
199
25.56
38
175
26.58
Gillespie
10
39
21.13
34
133
24.77
Fleming
10
37
27.22
10
38
24.61

* * * * * *

The final target
With an average of 51.25 from 164 Tests and only four more matches to play at most, Waugh has virtually ensured that he ends his career with a 50-plus average. If he plays four more innings in the four Tests, Waugh will end up with an average of 50.28 even if he doesn't add a run to his current tally; if he bats six times, he needs to add just 40, while in eight the corresponding figure is 140. Given India's feeble bowling attack, a realistic challenge is Allan Border's record of 11174 Test runs: Waugh needs 514 more to become Test cricket's highest run-getter. Now that would be a fitting finale to a glittering career.

S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.

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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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