S Rajesh
Numbers Game Numbers GameRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

The Friday Column

Murali-less Sri Lanka, and dominant partnerships

Perhaps numbers never do reveal the full story, but they tell a large part of it

S Rajesh

August 20, 2004

Text size: A | A

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

The art of winning without Murali
For long now, Muttiah Muralitharan has been the dominant factor in Sri Lankan cricket. When he's around, and twirling those big-spinning offies, the team is usually doing fine. For long, though, Sri Lanka have struggled in his absence. Are they finally learning to cope with life without Murali?

It would seem so. In their last three Tests - all without Murali in the line-up - they have lost just once, against Australia, drawn once, and, incredibly, even achieved a victory. Their emphatic 313-run defeat of South Africa in Colombo was only the second time - since Murali made his debut on August 28, 1992 - that Sri Lanka won a Test without him. Their only other win in 16 such Tests was against much lesser opponents, when they thrashed Bangladesh by 288 runs at the SSC Stadium in Colombo.

The table below shows just how much of a difference Murali has made to Sri Lanka's fortunes in Tests. With him, they win 35% of matches; without him, it slips to 12.5%. With him in the side, opposition batsmen score less than 31 runs per wicket, with only 72 hundreds in 91 games. In Murali's absence, the runs-per-wicket figure goes up to more than 38, with 24 centuries in 16 matches - that's 1.5 per Test.

Won Lost Drawn win %
SL with Murali 32 30 29 35.16
SL without Murali 2 6 8 12.50

Tests Runs per wicket 100s per Test
Opp. when Murali is playing 91 30.91 0.79
Opp. when Murali isn't playing 16 38.06 1.50

Partners on a roll
The latest Ask Steven had a query about instances in Tests where one partnership had scored the bulk of the runs in an innings. The winners there were Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, but in Thursday's one-day match between India A and Pakistan A at Nairobi, Misbah-ul-Haq and Bazid Khan put together 190 for the third wicket - only to watch the rest of the batsmen throw it away with utter abandon. Pakistan A were ultimately bowled out for 234, which meant that Misbah and Bazid had scored 81.2% of the team's runs.

The stats for List A games (one-dayers which are not internationals) aren't available, but a look at ODI figures reveals just how high that figure is. In all one-dayers where teams have been all out, the highest contribution by a single pair has been Marcus Trescothick and Owais Shah's 170-run stand for the fourth wicket against Pakistan at Lord's in 2001. England, chasing 243, reached 196 for 3, before being bundled out for 240.

Close behind that effort was the one by Gary Kirsten and Andrew Hall, who put together 150 for the first wicket against Sri Lanka in Colombo before the team crumbled to 212. Sri Lanka themselves were at the receiving end in 1989-90, when Hashan Tillakaratne and Aravinda de Silva added 150 out of 213, as Pakistan sneaked through by six runs. The table below lists the six such most skewed instances.

Pair Against Partnership/ Total % contribution
Trescothick & Shah Pakistan 170/ 240 70.83
G Kirsten & Hall Sri Lanka 150/ 212 70.75
Tillakaratne & Aravinda Pakistan 150/ 213 70.42
Prabhakar & Azharuddin Sri Lanka 136/ 196 69.39
Jadeja & Robin Australia 141/ 205 68.78
Mahanama & Aravinda India 137/ 201 68.16

England on a roll
Rating the current England team against those of the past has become a favourite past-time with British scribes. And they have good reason too: after all, when was the last time, before Michael Vaughan and his merry men went along on their winning ways, that England won six Tests in a row?

To find the previous instance, you'd have to go back 46 years, when, as on this occasion, New Zealand and West Indies were at the receiving end of England's domination. Then, Peter May's England side won the last two matches of the six-Test home series against West Indies, and then went on to win the first four Tests at home against New Zealand the following year, before New Zealand managed to draw the final match.

If Vaughan's team pull off their seventh win in a row, at The Oval, they will achieve a feat which England haven't managed since 1928-29, when they beat West Indies 3-0 at home, and then beat Australia in the first four Tests overseas. Percy Chapman was the captain through all those wins. Interestingly, he didn't play the last Test, and Australia immediately pulled one back, winning at Melbourne by five wickets.

S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.

RSS Feeds: S Rajesh

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
S RajeshClose
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.

    An all-round ODI giant

Numbers Game: Few players can boast the sort of numbers that Jacques Kallis achieved in ODIs

    Is being bowled out by Moeen embarrassing?

Polite Enquiries: Is Rahane India's Misbah? Should Rohit be dropped? Jarrod Kimber and George Dobell discuss

    'We were determined to prove we were not an average team'

Former South Africa wicketkeeper Dave Richardson remembers his favourite moment from the Lord's win in 1994

    'A test of Kohli's mental strength'

Bowl at Boycs: Geoffrey Boycott on Kohli's recent form, and Cook's captaincy

How does one 'lead by example'?

Alex Bowden: A captain needs to do enough as an individual to retain respect and control, but exceptional performances may not result in even greater influence

News | Features Last 7 days

The woeful world of Pankaj Singh

Pankaj Singh greeted his most expensive analysis in Test history with the words 'That is cricket'. It was admirable acceptance from an impressive man of a record he did not deserve

Bhuvneshwar on course for super series

Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th

Ugly runs but still they swoon

Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing

Boycott floored by an Indian trundler

When Eknath Solkar got under the skin of Geoff Boycott, leading to a three-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket

Worst keepers, and honours at Lord's

Also, most keeping dismissals on debut, seven-for at HQ, and youngest ODI centurions

News | Features Last 7 days
Sponsored Links

Why not you? Read and learn how!