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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

The best and worst in the fourth innings

Last action heroes

This week The List looks at players who have under- and over-achieved in the fourth innings of a Test

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

November 22, 2005

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Some statistics, like Bradman's average and the number of centuries Gavaskar made, are known to pretty much every cricket buff. But The List will bring you facts and figures that aren't so obvious, adding fuel to those fiery debates about the most valuable middle-order bat, and the most useless tailender. If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions.



Steve Waugh did some repair to his forgettable fourth innings record by playing a match-saving innings at Sydney © Getty Images
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England stumbled in their second step towards cricket-world domination as they fell short in a relatively low run-chase in the first Test against Pakistan at Multan. After racking up a formidable 418 in the first innings, England coughed, spluttered and eventually ran out of gas on 175 in the second, 23 runs shy of victory. Marcus Trescothick had battled for a gritty 193 in the first innings but could manage just 5 before getting bowled in the second. This week The List looks at players who have under- and over-achieved in the fourth innings of a Test.

A mathematical quirk and the man's sheer genius puts Sir Donald Bradman atop the list of highest last-innings averages as well as the list of highest differences between the career average and the fourth-innings average. His fourth-innings average of 73.40 is well below the immortal 99.94 but still is miles ahead of the rest. Geoffrey Boycott and Sunil Gavaskar, arguably cricket's most 'correct' batsmen rank just below Bradman with averages of 58.76 and 58.25.

Best Batting Average in 4th innings (qualification: 15 innings)
Player Span Inns Runs 100 50 Ave Career
DG Bradman (Aust) 1928-1948 15 734 3 4 73.40 99.94
G Boycott (Eng) 1964-1982 34 1234 3 7 58.76 47.72
SM Gavaskar (India) 1971-1987 33 1398 4 8 58.25 51.12
JB Hobbs (Eng) 1908-1930 23 979 2 6 57.58 56.94
Javed Miandad (Pak) 1976-1993 22 816 2 5 54.39 52.57
H Sutcliffe (Eng) 1924-1935 15 644 3 1 53.66 60.73
KR Stackpole (Aust) 1966-1974 19 749 1 6 53.50 37.42
RT Ponting (Aust) 1995-2005 26 798 2 3 53.20 56.46
CG Greenidge (WI) 1974-1991 38 1383 3 6 53.19 44.72
JH Kallis (ICC/SAf) 1995-2005 25 695 1 5 49.64 57.07
GS Chappell (Aust) 1970-1984 25 688 1 4 49.14 53.86
R Dravid (ICC/India) 1996-2005 30 983 1 7 49.14 57.62
ER Dexter (Eng) 1958-1968 16 535 0 6 48.63 47.89
IVA Richards (WI) 1974-1991 24 911 2 6 47.94 50.23
A Ranatunga (SL) 1982-2000 20 667 0 4 47.64 35.69
GS Sobers (WI) 1954-1974 19 607 2 2 46.69 57.78
AI Kallicharran (WI) 1972-1981 18 698 1 4 46.53 44.43
WR Hammond (Eng) 1927-1947 20 697 1 3 46.46 58.45
PA de Silva (SL) 1984-2002 21 741 1 4 46.31 42.97
AR Morris (Aust) 1946-1955 16 636 2 1 45.42 46.48

A common bone of contention in the debate about Sachin Tendulkar being cricket's best batsmen is his shortage of substantial scores in the final innings of a Test. He averages just 34.88 in the last innings with only two fifties and two centuries of his total tally of 34 hundreds and 41 fifties. Another surprising underachiever in the last essay of a Test match is Steve Waugh who averages just 25.54. In fact, in matches that Australia lost, that stat drops to an abysmal 15.45. He did sign off in style by making an invaluable 80 in his last Test, defying a rampant Anil Kumble and saving the series against India at Sydney. Keith Stackpole, the Australian opener, had a modest career average of 37.42 but when it came to the chase, he weighed in with 53.50. He went past 50 seven times in 19 fourth-innings opportunities.

Worst Batting Average in 4th inns - by difference (qualification: 15 innings)
Player Span Inns Runs 100 50 Ave Career Diff
DG Bradman (Aust) 1928-1948 15 734 3 4 73.40 99.94 -26.54
SR Waugh (Aust) 1985-2004 31 613 0 2 25.54 51.06 -25.51
MS Atapattu (SL) 1990-2005 29 329 0 1 14.95 38.72 -23.77
DCS Compton (Eng) 1937-1957 22 455 0 1 26.76 50.06 -23.29
SR Tendulkar (India) 1989-2005 35 872 2 2 34.88 57.25 -22.37
Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 1969-1985 15 293 0 1 22.53 44.79 -22.25
KD Walters (Aust) 1965-1981 16 319 0 2 26.58 48.26 -21.67
KF Barrington (Eng) 1955-1968 22 595 1 2 37.18 58.67 -21.48
NS Sidhu (India) 1983-1999 16 353 0 2 22.06 42.13 -20.06
GP Howarth (NZ) 1975-1985 18 257 0 1 14.27 32.44 -18.17
CC McDonald (Aust) 1952-1961 22 381 0 1 21.16 39.32 -18.16
ME Trescothick (Eng) 2000-2005 30 647 1 2 28.13 46.18 -18.05
DJ Cullinan (SAf) 1993-2001 19 347 1 0 26.69 44.21 -17.52
DL Amiss (Eng) 1966-1977 18 348 0 2 29.00 46.30 -17.30
JC Adams (WI) 1992-2001 17 316 0 1 24.30 41.26 -16.95
AR Border (Aust) 1978-1994 35 860 2 2 34.39 50.56 -16.16
VVS Laxman (India) 1996-2005 17 417 0 3 27.80 43.71 -15.91
BC Lara (ICC/WI) 1990-2005 42 1380 2 7 37.29 53.20 -15.91
Saleem Malik (Pak) 1982-1999 21 448 1 0 28.00 43.69 -15.69
Majid Khan (Pak) 1964-1983 15 334 0 1 23.85 38.92 -15.06

Keeping with the wear and tear a pitch takes going into the fourth and fifth day, you would expect a spinner to top fourth-innings bowling averages. And Bishan Singh Bedi obliges with a marvellous strike rate of 47.2 and a miserly average of 14.46. Surprisingly Chaminda Vaas has a marginally better average and a much better strike rate than Sri Lanka's wrecker-in-chief, Muttiah Muralitharan.

Best Bowling Average in 4th innings (qualification: 1000 balls)
Player Span Mat Wkts 4 5 Ave Career
BS Bedi (India) 1966-1979 26 60 4 5 14.46 28.71
RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1973-1990 24 32 3 2 15.62 22.29
CV Grimmett (Aust) 1925-1936 8 22 0 3 15.77 24.21
TL Goddard (SAf) 1955-1970 17 27 1 2 15.92 26.22
JC Laker (Eng) 1948-1959 19 26 0 1 15.96 21.24
CEL Ambrose (WI) 1988-2000 30 58 2 3 16.13 20.99
H Trumble (Aust) 1890-1904 16 40 3 2 16.67 21.78
AR Caddick (Eng) 1993-2003 16 40 1 4 17.55 29.91
MD Marshall (WI) 1978-1991 21 41 3 2 17.65 20.94
MA Holding (WI) 1975-1987 15 33 2 2 17.93 23.68
WPUJC Vaas (SL) 1994-2005 24 43 3 2 18.34 28.94
VA Holder (WI) 1969-1979 16 20 1 1 18.35 33.27
JV Saunders (Aust) 1902-1908 9 32 3 3 18.46 22.73
L Klusener (SAf) 1996-2004 16 22 1 1 18.59 37.91
GD McGrath (Aust) 1993-2005 50 97 5 5 18.67 21.14
MA Noble (Aust) 1898-1909 21 24 0 3 18.75 25.00
M Muralitharan (ICC/SL) 1992-2005 24 65 3 5 19.00 22.23
CA Walsh (WI) 1984-2001 40 66 2 1 19.07 24.44
MHN Walker (Aust) 1972-1977 17 33 2 1 19.12 27.47
JB Statham (Eng) 1951-1965 24 28 0 1 19.96 24.84

Imran Khan has a surprisingly bad final-innings average when compared to his overall 22.41. Ian Botham also took just 31 wickets in 37 last-innings efforts. Perhaps what's most striking, is that several spinners - Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Stuart MacGill, Intikhab Alam and Paul Adams, to name a few - have better career averages than final-innings averages.

Worst Bowling Averages in 4th inns - by difference (qualification: 1000 balls)
Player Span Mat Wkts 4 5 Ave Career Diff
CL Cairns (NZ) 1989-2004 19 14 1 0 50.57 29.40 21.16
Imran Khan (Pak) 1971-1992 24 21 1 0 42.09 22.81 19.28
MW Tate (Eng) 1924-1935 10 10 0 0 42.10 26.16 15.93
AV Bedser (Eng) 1946-1955 13 16 0 1 39.75 24.89 14.85
RB Simpson (Aust) 1957-1978 21 9 0 1 54.00 42.26 11.73
AL Valentine (WI) 1950-1962 16 19 1 1 41.10 30.32 10.78
IT Botham (Eng) 1977-1992 37 31 1 1 38.54 28.40 10.14
PR Adams (SAf) 1995-2004 19 22 1 0 42.00 32.87 9.12
R Benaud (Aust) 1952-1964 19 20 0 2 32.54 27.03 5.51
ARC Fraser (Eng) 1989-1998 19 22 0 1 32.22 27.32 4.90
Intikhab Alam (Pak) 1959-1977 24 10 0 0 40.60 35.95 4.64
JA Snow (Eng) 1965-1976 19 21 1 1 31.09 26.66 4.42
S Venkataraghavan (India) 1965-1983 18 11 0 0 40.09 36.11 3.97
R Illingworth (Eng) 1958-1973 27 21 1 0 35.09 31.20 3.89
WA Johnston (Aust) 1947-1955 15 27 3 0 27.77 23.91 3.86
GD McKenzie (Aust) 1961-1971 22 27 1 0 33.44 29.78 3.65
PAJ DeFreitas (Eng) 1986-1995 15 15 2 0 36.53 33.57 2.96
SCG MacGill (Aust) 1998-2005 15 29 1 2 30.03 27.47 2.56
SM Pollock (SAf) 1995-2005 36 49 2 1 24.44 22.09 2.35
C Blythe (Eng) 1901-1910 9 17 0 1 20.94 18.62 2.31

Trivia

  • Virender Sehwag's batting style has a certain resemblance to Sachin Tendulkar and his second innings performances seem have exaggerated similarities as well. Sehwag averages 55.32 overall but in the fourth innings he averages just 28.20.

  • Bruce Mitchell had quite an impressive overall average of 48.88. However, in the final innings that figure rose to a towering 89.85.
    * Sehwag and Mitchell are not in the tables because they do not qualify our criterion of 15 innings. Both of them have played only 12 fourth innings.

  • Vijay Manjrekar made more than 20 in each of the 11 times he batted in the final innings. In his last such outing, he batted as low as No. 8 and made 39, leading India to a two-wicket win against Australia.

    If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions.

  • George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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    George BinoyClose
    George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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