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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

Who is closest to Bradman, Lohmann and Garner?

Which batsman, after the Don, has the best average over a 52-Test sequence? Are there bowlers with averages and economy rates comparable to those of George Lohmann and Joel Garner?

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

November 9, 2011

Comments: 212 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting receives a standing ovation after hitting the winning runs for Australia, South Africa in Australia, 2005-06
Ricky Ponting's twin centuries in his 100th Test, against South Africa at the SCG, were part of his fabulous run between 2002 and 2006 © Getty Images
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The gold standard in Test batting averages is Don Bradman's 99.94, achieved during a 52-match career. In bowling averages, it belongs to George Lohmann, who took wickets at 10.75 apiece in 18 Tests. In one-day internationals, Joel Garner's economy rate of 3.09 over 98 matches is far lower than those of the rest. These figures remain unsurpassed by anyone over the length of an entire career. A reader, however, wanted to know whether a batsman had enjoyed a sequence of 52 Tests as purple as Bradman's. We decided to find out, and also dig up bowlers who matched Lohmann and Garner during equivalent sequences of 18 Tests and 98 ODIs.

Bradman batted 80 innings in 52 Tests, scored 6996 runs at an average of 99.94, with 29 hundreds and 13 half-centuries. No one has come within 25 runs of that average or within 1000 runs of that aggregate in 52 consecutive Tests. Ricky Ponting was closest, relatively speaking, during his glory years between 2002 and 2006. During that time, Ponting scored 5813 runs at an average of 74.52, with 23 hundreds and 29 half-centuries. He averaged more than 50 against every team except Sri Lanka, against whom he made only 487 runs in eight innings at an average of 33. Ponting had several other hot streaks of 52 Tests, most beginning just before or after the one just cited, but we've included only his best in the table below.

Before Ponting, the player who had the most productive 52-Test streak was Garry Sobers. He played those matches for West Indies over 11 years, between 1957 and 1968, scoring 5468 runs in 88 innings at an average of 72.90. Before that period began, Sobers had averaged only 29.55, with no centuries, in 13 Tests from debut in 1954 to 1957. During those 52 Tests, however, Sobers also took 141 wickets at an average 33.59, giving him claim to the title of cricket's greatest allrounder.

Jacques Kallis also had an impressive all-round record during a sequence of 52 Tests between 2001 and 2006. He scored 5127 runs at an average of 71.20 - the fourth best after Bradman, Ponting and Sobers - and also took 106 wickets at 36 apiece.

Best batting average over a span of 52 Tests
Player Start Date End Date Mat Inns NO Runs Ave 100 50
DG Bradman (Aus) Nov 30, 1928 Aug 18, 1948 52 80 10 6996 99.94 29 13
RT Ponting (Aus) Mar 8, 2002 Nov 27, 2006 52 92 14 5813 74.52 23 20
GS Sobers (WI) Aug 22, 1957 Apr 3, 1968 52 88 13 5468 72.90 19 20
JH Kallis (ICC/SA) Apr 19, 2001 May 1, 2006 52 91 19 5127 71.20 17 25
R Dravid (India) Nov 18, 2000 Sep 16, 2005 52 86 13 4883 66.89 14 21
KF Barrington (Eng) Nov 11, 1961 Aug 28, 1967 52 84 12 4783 66.43 16 22
Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) Nov 15, 2000 Oct 12, 2007 52 87 8 5247 66.41 20 18
SR Tendulkar (India) Apr 4, 1997 Nov 3, 2002 52 86 8 5177 66.37 20 17
KC Sangakkara (SL) Aug 11, 2004 Nov 27, 2010 52 89 8 5352 66.07 19 18
WR Hammond (Eng) Nov 30, 1928 Jan 7, 1937 52 87 12 4827 64.36 16 13
L Hutton (Eng) Jan 31, 1947 Jun 15, 1954 52 92 13 5072 64.20 14 27
SR Waugh (Aus) Jun 3, 1993 Oct 5, 1998 52 83 18 4134 63.60 11 23
Javed Miandad (Pak) Jan 3, 1983 Dec 6, 1989 52 73 5 4240 62.35 14 16
Inzamam-ul-Haq (ICC/Pak) Mar 12, 1999 Jan 17, 2006 52 86 9 4796 62.28 18 20
ML Hayden (Aus) Feb 27, 2001 Mar 13, 2005 52 92 10 5077 61.91 19 17
IVA Richards (WI) Jan 31, 1976 Jun 18, 1984 52 74 2 4456 61.88 15 20
H Sutcliffe (Eng) Jun 14, 1924 Aug 22, 1934 52 81 9 4453 61.84 16 22
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) Mar 24, 2004 Nov 20, 2009 52 88 6 5026 61.29 17 15
BC Lara (ICC/WI) Apr 6, 2001 Nov 23, 2006 52 93 2 5576 61.27 19 17
JB Hobbs (Eng) Jun 14, 1909 Jun 17, 1930 52 85 5 4897 61.21 15 24

Lohmann played only 18 Tests between his debut in 1886 and 1896, and took 112 wickets at an average of 10.75. He still possesses the best strike rate (34.1) and is the quickest to 100 wickets (16 Tests). There was someone, however, who had an 18-match patch that was better than Lohmann's.

Johnny Briggs, who bowled left-arm orthodox for England between 1884 and 1899, finished his career with 118 wickets in 33 Tests at an average of 17.75. In 18 consecutive Tests, though, Briggs took 72 wickets at an average of 9.79.

In the table below, Muttiah Muralitharan is the only bowler whose entire 18-match sequence occurred in the 21st century. Murali averaged 17.42 during that period, between 2003 and 2005, and took 128 wickets, a tally that is second only to Sydney Barnes' 139. Barnes took 18 five-fors and six ten-wicket match hauls during his 18-Test stretch.

Best bowling average over a span of 18 Tests (qualification: 2000 balls)
Player Start Date End Date Mat Balls Runs Wkts Ave 5 10
J Briggs (Eng) Jan 1, 1885 Mar 28, 1892 18 2248 705 72 9.79 7 3
GA Lohmann (Eng) Jul 5, 1886 Jun 24, 1896 18 3830 1205 112 10.75 9 5
Imran Khan (Pak) Oct 14, 1982 Nov 25, 1986 18 3663 1378 98 14.06 7 2
JC Laker (Eng) Aug 13, 1955 Jul 8, 1958 18 5288 1402 97 14.45 6 2
SF Barnes (Eng) Jul 1, 1909 Feb 18, 1914 18 5211 2058 139 14.80 18 6
GAR Lock (Eng) Jul 12, 1956 Mar 18, 1959 18 4485 1197 80 14.96 7 3
W Barnes (Eng) Jan 19, 1883 Aug 12, 1890 18 2034 704 46 15.30 3 0
JH Wardle (Eng) Jun 10, 1954 Feb 20, 1957 18 4156 1212 77 15.74 5 1
MD Marshall (WI) Apr 26, 1985 Jul 5, 1988 18 4164 1779 110 16.17 6 2
SM Pollock (SA) Aug 6, 1998 Mar 6, 2000 18 4262 1488 92 16.17 6 0
AV Bedser (Eng) Aug 12, 1950 Jun 16, 1953 18 5265 1590 98 16.22 9 3
RJ Hadlee (NZ) Feb 3, 1984 Mar 17, 1986 18 4710 1868 113 16.53 10 3
GD McGrath (Aus) Nov 26, 1999 Aug 4, 2001 18 4146 1525 92 16.57 5 2
CEL Ambrose (WI) Jun 6, 1991 Mar 30, 1994 18 4929 1710 102 16.76 8 2
DL Underwood (Eng) Jun 20, 1968 Mar 1, 1971 18 5024 1444 86 16.79 7 3
Waqar Younis (Pak) Oct 18, 1990 Dec 6, 1993 18 3851 1968 117 16.82 14 3
R Peel (Eng) Feb 20, 1885 Aug 12, 1896 18 4306 1473 87 16.93 4 1
J Garner (WI) Mar 3, 1978 Mar 18, 1981 18 4149 1431 84 17.03 1 0
AK Davidson (Aus) Feb 7, 1958 Jan 18, 1961 18 5488 1789 104 17.20 8 2
M Muralitharan (ICC/SL) May 3, 2003 Dec 6, 2005 18 5692 2230 128 17.42 11 3

Garner played 98 one-day internationals between 1977 and 1987 and took 146 wickets at an average of 18.84. His most outstanding stat, however, was his economy - 3.09 per over. The next best economy rate belongs to Australian fast bowler Max Walker, but he played only 17 ODIs.

None of the other great bowlers, who played more matches than Garner did, have as miserly a 98-match sequence. Richard Hadlee came closest, finishing a 115-match career with an economy rate of 3.30, and conceding only 3.20 per over in 98 ODIs between March 1975 and January 1988.

Zimbabwe spinner Ray Price is perhaps the most surprising name in the table below. He has played 98 consecutive ODIs with an economy rate of 3.90. Price has, in fact, the best economy rate among present one-day bowlers, and is a fraction more miserly than Murali was too.

Best economy rate over a span of 98 ODIs (qualification: 1000 balls)
Player Start Date End Date Mat Balls Runs Wkts Ave Econ 5 4
J Garner (WI) Mar 16, 1977 Mar 28, 1987 98 5330 2752 146 18.84 3.09 3 2
RJ Hadlee (NZ) Mar 8, 1975 Jan 17, 1988 98 5216 2786 136 20.48 3.20 4 1
M Muralitharan (SL) Dec 15, 1999 Feb 20, 2004 98 5301 2888 172 16.79 3.26 5 6
MA Holding (WI) Jun 16, 1979 Jan 30, 1987 98 5245 2903 136 21.34 3.32 1 4
MD Marshall (WI) May 28, 1980 Jan 14, 1989 98 5237 2905 127 22.87 3.32 0 4
CEL Ambrose (WI) Feb 26, 1991 Jan 3, 1997 98 5214 2938 120 24.48 3.38 2 1
EJ Chatfield (NZ) Jan 10, 1981 Mar 16, 1988 98 5159 2965 123 24.10 3.44 0 3
GD McGrath (Aus/ICC) Jun 9, 2001 Jan 21, 2007 98 4926 2880 146 19.72 3.50 3 3
SM Pollock (Afr/ICC/SA) Jan 25, 2004 Jan 27, 2008 98 4944 2915 104 28.02 3.53 1 2
Imran Khan (Pak) Aug 31, 1974 Oct 16, 1987 98 4050 2399 106 22.63 3.55 1 2
N Kapil Dev (India) Mar 27, 1988 Apr 2, 1994 98 4872 2928 107 27.36 3.60 0 2
Wasim Akram (Pak) Dec 13, 1992 Jan 20, 1997 98 5171 3151 151 20.86 3.65 3 8
CA Walsh (WI) Feb 13, 1993 Sep 12, 1999 98 5089 3131 110 28.46 3.69 0 2
GR Larsen (NZ) Mar 1, 1990 Dec 6, 1997 98 5242 3243 94 34.50 3.71 0 1
CJ McDermott (Aus) Oct 13, 1987 Feb 23, 1996 98 5245 3371 156 21.60 3.85 1 3
DL Vettori (ICC/NZ) Jul 4, 2004 Feb 6, 2009 98 5044 3259 122 26.71 3.87 2 4
PAJ DeFreitas (Eng) Jan 5, 1987 Feb 22, 1996 98 5472 3558 111 32.05 3.90 0 1
WPUJC Vaas (SL) Jan 14, 2001 Oct 9, 2004 98 4844 3152 138 22.84 3.90 2 4
RW Price (Zim) Sep 14, 2002 Oct 22, 2011 98 5134 3345 97 34.48 3.90 0 1
RA Harper (WI) Feb 4, 1984 Apr 3, 1996 98 4770 3122 90 34.68 3.92 0 3

Travis Basevi is a cricket statistician and UK Senior Programmer for ESPNcricinfo and other ESPN sports websites. George Binoy is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by BillyCC on (November 12, 2011, 20:43 GMT)

There is a lot of rubbish being trotted out on this forum by people who clearly haven't done their research and are just looking for some excuses mainly as to why Tendulkar is better than Bradman. Luckily, the statistics don't show that, and the commentaries from the majority of expert cricketers, sports historians and journalists all put Bradman as number one. By majority, I mean that if you ask 10000 of those experts who is the greatest batsman of all time, it would not be inconceivable to see 9994 of them vote for Bradman and a vote here and there for Sobers, Tendulkar, Hobbs, Hutton, Richards etc. Similarly with the "greatest cricketer" tag, that one goes to Sobers hands down.

Posted by BillyCC on (November 12, 2011, 20:31 GMT)

@Xolile, whilst I agree that it could be a matter of faith for a lot of people, it is also clearly a matter of science that can prove the greatness of Bradman. There was a post from Spider1972 that Bradman was sick for much of the Bodyline season. Haven't investigated thoroughly on this, but if that was the case, then an average of 40 in that season is actually great. The 80% of deliveries that he faced from medium to slow bowlers is an evolution thing, there were no genuinely fast bowlers at the time with the speeds of Thomson, Steyn, Lee, the West Indians etc. And when Larwood came on the scene during Bodyline, it was not the pace but the tactics that would have undone most batsman including Bradman. Having a bowler aim the ball from around the wicket at your head or just below the head with leg-side fieldsmen would worry all batsman. Had the tactics been allowed today, batsmen averages would come down even with the invention of helmets.

Posted by Krutik_P on (November 12, 2011, 11:15 GMT)

Bradman played in an era when quality of bowling wasn't even average. Although, he never batted with helmet. I would like to see how the other batsmen in Bradman era fared and what was the bowling strike of the bowlers in Bradman era. Tendulkar is a great batsman because he has played for 2 and a half decades in different conditions, against different bowlers. Don't forget Bradman played only tests, while everyone else in the list played ODIs too! Bradman for the most of his life played against England. He'd grown immune to the English conditions and their bowlers. Scoring against the same team consistently is easier. Cricket in those days was way way newer. Nowadays, technology has advanced which makes the bowlers powerful. Bradman was the greatest but the bowling attack those days, weren't the greatest. People often forget that.

Posted by Scube on (November 11, 2011, 15:30 GMT)

@Sankara: Even Osamas & Gaddafis will claim themselves to be True Blue Muslims, but I'm not sure if majority of muslims would agree to it! I don't see any problem with the article per se as an interesting number crunching exercise that shows the Don's greatness in good light! But, it's meaningless to suggest that if he had played in the modern era, his average would have been even higher playing against the likes of BD & Zimbabwe! Well, the Windies, SAs and the Indians of the 30s and 40s are equally bad as any of the current minnows if not worse! So, the only worthy opponents to the Aussies then were the English alone! But, this should not take away anything from Don's achievements or greatness simply because he was head, shoulders & hips above anyone from his era playing in similar conditions! The comparison of the God of lesser mortals with the Don didn't start when Sachin scored 50 centuries or 10K runs but by the Don himself when he had hardly scored a few thousand runs!

Posted by yaa_right on (November 11, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

If don bradman is the greatest test batsman (judging mostly by his avg.) then muttiah muralidaran is the greatest test bowler (judging by no. of wickets per test match and also highest no. of wickets), period.

Posted by   on (November 11, 2011, 12:41 GMT)

id like to see bradman playing an in swinging yorker from shoaib akhtar at his peak or malinga now. im pretty sure the fastest bowlers in his time were in todays miduem pacer range. put tendulkar or inzimam or sangakara in those times and i doubt any of the bowlers at that time would be able to get them out. no use comparing people from different generations

Posted by ZA77 on (November 11, 2011, 9:57 GMT)

Don test average of 99.94 and a first class average of 95. Apply bowling average of 10.7 in test and 13.3 of Lohmann to all well known bowlers and then they are half of him all. Brett Lee average near to 31 and him near to single figure suggest what. Where you are seeing these bowlers in the same light. Warne bowling average is near to 26. Are you ready to accept he is only 40% of Lohmann. Exact less than half only. McGrath also exact half of him and Lillee near to 24, only 45% of him. It means two Lillee equal to one Lohmann. Loahmann is statistically the best so we should decide it that he is the best as his average is just near to single figure JUST like Bradman near to triple figure. For me Warne is one of the best test bowler, not because only of average. Can we say Marshall is half of Loahmann becasue his average is almost double of him. What other guys suggest.

Posted by ZA77 on (November 11, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

Don peers not come close to him in average. His almost all peers belongs to Australia and England and they were only playing Ashes series. Australia bowling was one the best in history so in timeless matches almost arranged by Australia, it became impossible to play two greatest leg break bowlers (Miley, Grimmet, O Reilly)at a time if they were bowling more than 200 overs per match. Also in England conditions helped Leg break bowlers. So 150 or more overs were enough to send England back to Pavilion twice. Only Don Bradman team batsman could have same advantage but unable to prove. See Headley maintained batting average of 71.2 against England as compare to Bradman 89.78 but Headley had not have timeless matches on home ground advantage. Also he came from other country to adopt conditions against England. When two or three teams are there, disadvantage goes to whom who came from entire other. Fact was that he was better with elegancy and ability to play on wet wicket.

Posted by   on (November 11, 2011, 7:52 GMT)

I personally think Don Bradman was Great Player of his time...Now cricket has changed too much n now its far more complicated than it was before...He mainly scored against one opposition n in similar conditions but still other players of his time also enjoyed these advantages but still he stood high among em...It was classical cricket which is now over...There is no point of comparing Bradman's statistics with modern cricketers who perform in totally differnt environment.

Posted by ZA77 on (November 11, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

Why people compare Bradman with Tendulkar. I am unable to understand and than make their own judgement that Don is the best. Tenduklar played on 57 different grounds with 57 bowlers took 100 or more wickets in test cricket. Bradman only six in which five from same country with ten grounds totally. He played in two countries only it means cricket without globalization. Had he played toe crushers, in swing, out swing, leg cutter, in cutter, zooter of Shane Warne, Doosra of Murli, flipper of Kumble, no no so why he is no. 1. Just of statistic acheivement. For me, Tenduklar is way ahead of him with proving himself against the giants of bowling. Main thing is attack and Tendulkar played best attacks of the world like when he played AUS. Lee, Gillispie, Warne and McGrath was there. One swing, two seam and one wrist spinner. There is no chance of survival if your technique is slightly wrong. That is why his average is 60.6 against AUS with 11 centuries and 13 half centuries runs socred 3151.

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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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