Sachin Tendulkar: stats analysis

Master of the game

Sachin Tendulkar has such staggering numbers in both Tests and ODIs that it's conceivable some of those records may never be broken

S Rajesh

June 7, 2010

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Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 46th Test century, India v South Africa, 1st Test, Nagpur, 4th day, February 9, 2010
Tendulkar: outstanding numbers, whichever way you look at them © Associated Press
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A criticism that is sometimes levelled at talented cricketers is that their numbers didn't do justice to their ability. That certainly can't be said for Sachin Tendulkar, who has achieved truly staggering stats over a glittering career that is 20 years old and still going strong. That he was a precocious talent was known even before he played his first international game; even so, not many could have imagined that he would score more than 30,000 international runs and would be closing in on 100 international hundreds by 2010.

Perhaps the most impressive of several praiseworthy features about his career has been his sheer consistency. Since 1990, Tendulkar has played more than three Tests in a year 19 times, and in 17 of those years his annual average has been more than 40, and 12 times over 55. Of the 36 series of three or more Tests that he has played in, 20 times his average has exceeded 50, and only six times has it dropped below 30.

The first three years of Tendulkar's career weren't all that productive, but he'd already played enough innings to make the cricket world sit up and taken notice: his first Test century, an unbeaten 119 against England, saved India from defeat, while his 114 in Perth had all the experts gushing over his sheer class. During those early years his problem was a lack of consistency - his highest score in five innings immediately after his first Test hundred was 21.

Soon, however, that problem was conquered, and the result was stunning: he averaged almost 60 from 1993 to 1996, and more than 63 in the six years after that. The form dipped for a while as various injuries hampered him, but since 2007 Tendulkar has been outstanding once again, with 12 centuries in his last 32 Tests.

Tendulkar's Test career
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 1992 20 1085 37.41 4/ 4
Jan 1993 to Dec 1996 26 2021 59.44 6/ 11
Jan 1997 to Dec 2002 59 5705 63.38 21/ 20
Jan 2003 to Dec 2006 29 1779 44.47 4/ 7
Jan 2007 onwards 32 2857 58.30 12/ 12
Career 166 13,447 55.56 47/ 54

During that six-year period from January 1997 to December 2002, Tendulkar was unquestionably the best batsman in the world, handling pace in Australia and South Africa as effectively as he did spin in Sri Lanka. And then, of course, there was the epic 136 against Pakistan in Chennai which, unfortunately for him, wasn't enough to take India to victory against Pakistan.

In only 59 Tests he managed 21 centuries - an average of one every 2.81 matches. His average during this phase was well ahead of the second-placed Andy Flower, who led a string of batsmen who averaged in the md-50s.

Best Test batsmen between Jan 1997 and Dec 2002
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 59 5705 63.38 21/ 20
Andy Flower 41 3464 56.78 9/ 18
Matthew Hayden 35 3054 56.55 12/ 10
Rahul Dravid 62 5178 55.08 14/ 25
Aravinda de Silva 38 3134 54.98 12/ 9
Inzamam-ul-Haq 49 3740 51.94 12/ 15
Jacques Kallis 63 4447 51.70 11/ 25
Ricky Ponting 57 3916 50.85 14/ 14

Unfortunately for Tendulkar, his best period coincided with one where India had a poor bowling attack, especially overseas, and a batting line-up that tended to crumble quite often on tours. In 69 Tests between the beginning of 1993 and the end of 2001, India won 23, but only three of those came abroad. During this period, Tendulkar contributed almost 20% of all runs scored off the bat by India, and more than 21% when they played in Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand or the West Indies. From 2002 onwards, there were many more batsmen contributing - Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman weighed in consistently both home and away, which significantly reduced the dependence on Tendulkar: he has contributed only 14.30% of the team runs since 2002. With the bowling attack getting stronger as well, Tendulkar has been a part of 15 away Test wins during this period, and 32 wins in all in these eight-and-a-half years.

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 6028 42,140 14.30
Overall 13,477 83,310 16.18

A standout feature of Tendulkar's career has been his tendency to save his best for the greatest team of his generation. Few batsmen have consistently got the better of Australia over the last two decades, but Tendulkar is clearly one of them. His two stunning hundreds on his first tour to Australia announced him as a special talent, while his Boxing Day century in 1999 showed the gulf between him and the rest of the Indian batsmen. Later in his career some of the others - Laxman and Sehwag, especially - also showed their liking for the Australian attack, but Tendulkar is the one player who has sustained his performances against Australia for 20 years.

Highest Test averages against Australia since 1990
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 29 2748 56.08 10/ 11
VVS Laxman 24 2204 55.10 6/ 10
Virender Sehwag 15 1483 51.13 3/ 7
Brian Lara 31 2856 51.00 9/ 11
Kevin Pietersen 12 1116 50.72 2/ 7
Richie Richardson 14 1084 49.27 4/ 4
Graham Thorpe 16 1235 45.74 3/ 8
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 17 1303 44.93 4/ 8

Tendulkar's Test average in Australia is marginally higher than his average against them at home, while six of his ten hundreds against them have come in Australia.

Best Test averages by overseas batsmen in Australia since 1990 (Qual: 750 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Virender Sehwag 7 833 59.50 2/ 3
Sachin Tendulkar 16 1522 58.53 6/ 5
VVS Laxman 11 1081 54.05 4/ 3
Rahul Dravid 12 972 48.60 1/ 5
Jacques Kallis 12 915 45.75 2/ 5
Brian Lara 19 1469 41.97 4/ 4

Out of the 271 innings he has played in Tests, 220 have been at the No. 4 slot, where he has amassed more than 11,000 runs at an average exceeding 57. With a cut-off of 2500 runs at that position, only five batsmen have a higher average. And 41 of his 47 hundreds have been scored at this slot, with four coming at No. 5 and two at No. 6.

Best No. 4s in Test history (Qual: 2500 runs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Everton Weekes 57 3372 63.62 11/ 17
Jacques Kallis 130 6943 61.99 25/ 31
Mahela Jayawardene 133 7287 59.72 24/ 24
Mohammad Yousuf 60 3373 59.17 11/ 13
Greg Chappell 86 4316 59.12 15/ 19
Sachin Tendulkar 220 11,239 57.34 41/ 45
Javed Miandad 140 6925 54.10 19/ 31
Denis Compton 86 4234 53.59 13/ 20
Inzamam-ul-Haq 98 4867 52.90 15/ 21
Brian Lara 148 7535 51.25 24/ 31

One of the criticisms levelled against Tendulkar has been his relative lack of runs in second innings: he averages only 42.76 in all second innings, and 36.72 in the fourth innings. However, that also means he has been exceptional in the first innings, thus setting up games for India. He averages 62.88 in all first innings for the team, and 71.72 in the first innings of a match. His overall first-innings average is among the highest: among the batsmen with 4000 such runs, only six have a higher average.

The ODI master
Tendulkar has set some pretty awesome records in Tests, but some of his ODI stats are arguably more staggering. His career aggregate is currently more than 4000 ahead of his nearest competitor, and it'll certainly go up even further by the time he retires. As an opener, he has scored almost 15,000 runs at an average touching 49, which is the highest for openers who've scored at least 2500.

Like in Tests, Tendulkar has also raised his game against the Australians in one-day internationals, scoring more than 3000 runs against them - the only one to do so - at an average of more than 46.

Best ODI batsmen against Australia since 1990 (Qual: 750 runs)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Aravinda de Silva 24 997 49.85 83.43 2/ 6
Hansie Cronje 39 1364 47.03 73.05 2/ 9
Sachin Tendulkar 67 3005 46.23 85.12 9/ 14
Lance Klusener 26 794 44.11 87.34 0/ 5
Kumar Sangakkara 28 1134 43.61 74.80 1/ 8
Jonty Rhodes 55 1610 40.25 77.92 0/ 10
Brian Lara 51 1858 39.53 76.58 3/ 15

Tendulkar has already stated that he will play the 2011 World Cup, and if his past record at the tournament is anything to go by, opposition bowlers will have plenty to worry about. He has already played five World Cups so far, averaging almost 58 in 36 matches. With the format guaranteeing each team at least six matches, Tendulkar has an excellent chance to become the first batsman to score 2000 World Cup runs.

Best performers in World Cups (Qual: 1000 runs)
Batsman Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Viv Richards 23 1013 63.31 85.05 3/ 5
Sachin Tendulkar 36 1796 57.93 88.21 4/ 13
Herschelle Gibbs 25 1067 56.15 87.38 2/ 8
Sourav Ganguly 21 1006 55.88 77.50 4/ 3
Mark Waugh 22 1004 52.84 83.73 4/ 4
Ricky Ponting 39 1537 48.03 81.06 4/ 6
Javed Miandad 33 1083 43.32 68.02 1/ 8
Brian Lara 34 1225 42.24 86.26 2/ 7

And here's further proof of Tendulkar's ability to rise to the big occasion: he averages more than 55 in tournament finals, with six hundreds in 39 games. There was a period, between 1999 and 2004, when his big-match form deserted him, but he hit back strongly in the CB Series finals against Australia in 2008, scoring an unbeaten 117 and 91, and he followed that with 138 in the final of the Compaq Cup in Colombo last year.

Best performers in ODI tournament finals (Qual: 750 runs)
Batsman Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Gary Kirsten 20 1019 67.93 74.16 3/ 7
Viv Richards 18 836 55.73 84.78 1/ 9
Sachin Tendulkar 39 1833 55.54 87.41 6/ 10
Matthew Hayden 17 760 50.66 73.14 1/ 6
Dean Jones 30 1064 48.36 73.12 1/ 8
Aravinda de Silva 24 930 44.28 88.06 2/ 6
Sanath Jayasuriya 39 1613 42.44 98.35 2/ 13
Marvan Atapattu 26 969 40.37 70.01 2/ 6

Some of the important records that stand in Tendulkar's name:
Tests

One-day internationals

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by zxaar on (June 10, 2010, 22:55 GMT)

@ fadooo "Its not fair to compare batsman from across eras, especially since the introduction of helmets. " -------------------- You correct about comparing across the era but wrong in suggesting that in modern era batting is easy. Along with helmets we now have computers too where batsman's single twitch is analyzed and a single flaw is exploited. We have no way of knowing how bradman would have stood against such scrutiny. Plus bowlers in last 20 years have been much ahead of what you had in bradman's time. Shoab, lee warne murali akram, mcgrath, donald all these are too good. We have no way of knowing how much bradman would have survived against all these. Anyway comparing across eras is not good. Bradman was no uno of his time. Sachin is num uno of his time.

Posted by rtmohanlal on (June 10, 2010, 22:25 GMT)

I have to say I would support Fadooo here...I cannot support at all meaning less critics like pradeepplasantha and syedarbabahmed as their words convey only blind frustration.But at the same time just because Sachin is the most complete batsman IMO of the post helmet era, there is a big IF as to whether he is the all time best or atleast 2nd behind Bradman.This is because pre helmet era posed all together different challenges.Not only one needed super cricket skills, but super courage too.That's why with due respect to his greatness, i doubt whether Sachin could have been as succesful with cent percent surety.And that's exactly why I rate a proven master like Viv Richards & 99.96 avg: Bradman slightly above Sachin even though Sachin comes as the best even in expert IT analyst like Ananth Narayan's analysis.As we all know we cannot statistically measure this courage factor.So proven people like Viv Richards definitely have an edge here.

Posted by Alex10 on (June 10, 2010, 15:08 GMT)

@SyedArbabAhmed ... perhaps you can define (i) match winning innings & (ii) winning tournaments. FYI, SRT helped Ind win ICC WC in 2002. Tournaments other than the World Cup matter. Check his record in those: for tournament finals, note down, just for starters, 138 vs SL in 2009 and 117* & 91 vs Aus in 2008 (all 3 are away innings). His 2009-10 ODI perfs that qualify as matchwinning for me: 163*, 46, 138, 96*, 200* ... look-up cricinfo for a fuller info on those! Finally, Anwar, Jaya etc. winning more trophies that SRT ... are you serious?

Posted by HP_75 on (June 10, 2010, 8:22 GMT)

@shams, mate you're now clutching at non-existent straws by referring to away records! (1) Pls read my prior post on Away - Home performances...Tendulkar's Away performances easily trump Lara, Ponting, Inzamam. (2) Outside the subcontinent too Tendulkar's Test record is superior to Lara. Lara in Aus is av 42 with 4 100s, 4 50s; Sachin is av 59 with 6 100s, 5 50s. Lara in Eng is av 49 with 4 100s, 6 50s; Sachin is av 62 with 4 100s, 6 50s. Lara in NZ is av 37 with 1 100s, 3 50s; Sachin is av 50 with 2 100s, 5 50s. Lara in Ind is av 33 with 0 100s, 2 50s; Sachin in WI is av 48 with 1 100s, 5 50s. Lara in SA is av 47 with 2 100s, 5 50s; Sachin is av 40 with 3 100s, 3 50s. Further, while I too was mesmerized by Lara's 2001 run in SL, that came against the pre-doosra Murali! Aside from that series, Lara was hardly a major contributor in overseas series. And his 375 and 400* (both at home) were WRs, but both came on dodo-dead pitches (boring draws) & only served to inflate his numbers.

Posted by ramanzdaredevils on (June 10, 2010, 5:58 GMT)

@pradeepplasantha, etc., U guys remind me a story.. There was once an International Frog exhibition. All the coutries' Frogs were put in glass cases covered with a lid.. but the Indian ones weren't.. when the Judge was amused.. the presenter said.. dont worry they are Indian.. even if a Frog tries to climb and jump out the others will hold its legs and PULL it to ground.. Had Sachin been born in Australia/England/NZ.. Sachin would have been in the same group as Sir Don, if not better.. Please don't even talk about Ponting in the same class as Sachin.. Hes been a person with personality disorder.. Imbiciles like you can only harp about the world cups and other trophies that Sachin couldn't WIN for India.. What u guys doing is comparing 11 Vs 1.. Ponting WON 3 world cups.. but work out the statistics and his contributions to the team... Australia won those cups not JUST because of Ponting.. but because of other players.. McGrath, Warne, Hydos, Gilchrist.. Y do u choose to ignore this?

Posted by Rohan1 on (June 10, 2010, 2:22 GMT)

@shams,HP_75-Outside the subcontinent and away from home against the major Test playing countries: Aus,SA,NZ,Eng. SRT : 92 inn. 4501@52.95, 15 100s BCL : 91 inn. ,3984 @44.26 ,11 100s….Oops, this is getting embarassing now.you know shams, this is actually an understandable problem of yours. Lara at his flashy best was awesome and possibly tendulkars equal. But overall, all aspects, all the time ,different conditions, locations, bowlers etc…Tendulkar is in a different league. As close to a combination of Gavaskar and Richards you will ever hope to find.

Posted by Rohan1 on (June 10, 2010, 2:02 GMT)

HP_75.dont bother about shams. like i said ,he will studiously pick and chose whatever data suits him after sufficient filtering..and discard whatever doesnt. Tenduklar was rated the 2nd best batsman of all time behind Bradman using an Icc model which also factors in several things. OF course ,you are right in that there are so many factors which go into a model, many of which are subjective and depends on the person creating the model. BUT still the icc model which shows Tendulkar as 2nd best of ALL time (with lara barely figuring in the top 10) is ignored for some other set of stats....this is the entire mode of operation of these ppl. like others have said- the basic point is that overral Tendulkar is MILES ahead of the pack...so the only hope is to filter away and get some combinations wherein others may have similar or better stats...you can apply the same approach to ALi,Pele,Federer etc....but of course it reveals more about the individuals mindset than anything else.

Posted by Rohan1 on (June 10, 2010, 1:57 GMT)

lara avg. well below 50 in Aus, NZ, SA, Eng.The ONLY place lara has done better than tendulkar is SA, and that too post Donald. Anyone who has watched cricket will be aware of how pathetic lara was against donald at his peak..again, tendulkars avg suffers there coz of his first 91 tour, whereas lara only improves post donald in the 2000s.and of course u conveniently forget murali in 01 was hardly post murali.also check murali vs any good lefties. In other places "outside the subcontinent" lara avg. vs Aus:41.97, Eng:48.76, NZ: 36.9…You know…you are only further suceeding in letting me know how poor lara really was. Lara indeed seems to be a home town bully who pumped up his stats in the juicy mid 2000 period….hmmm…you know the more you keep dissecting stats the more you will find 3 stats in favor of tendulkar for 1 stat in favor of lara, that's in Tests. In ODIs -forget it. Overall -forget it…

Posted by Rohan1 on (June 10, 2010, 1:53 GMT)

@shams.as per the icc tendulkar was the 2nd best batsman of all time behind bradman. these rankings used a similar model to what u refer to....lara was barely in the picture..im sure you are aware of this fact.

Posted by Shams on (June 10, 2010, 1:34 GMT)

@HP_75 "any cricket connoisseur worth his salt would acknowledge that in the 1990s, Lara, Tendulkar and Steve Waugh were far more impactful than Gooch, Richardson and Miandad...and yet ICC ratings (according to you) put Gooch and richardson on top!"

Did you miss the point where I said that since player's ratings start from 0, players making debut in late 80s and 90s would be at a slight disadvantage in the 90s averages compared to others who debuted earlier?

However when you take entire career averages, it evens out for all players. As expected Bradman is far ahead of everyone else in that despite having played fewer matches than some of the others.

The Batsmen-Bowlers averages is the next best thing we have to actual player v player stats. It is strange that against Donald, Wasim, Waqar, etc Lara is still ahead in terms of average despite being conceived to be pathetic against pace!!! (btw, I did not post those stats here)

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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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