Ed Cowan
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Tasmania and Australia top-order batsman

A real test? Not in your backyard

Playing Test cricket overseas is the greatest examination of skill a cricketer must pass. Despite the increasing uniformity of the touring experience, playing abroad hasn't really got easier

Ed Cowan

June 7, 2012

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Matthew Hayden collected runs in typically muscular fashion on the opening day, Australia v India, 1st Test, MCG, December 26, 2007
Matthew Hayden found a way to score plenty of runs in India, but his average at home remained far greater than overseas © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ed Cowan | Matthew Hayden | Steve Waugh
Teams: Australia

For centuries, young men have travelled overseas as a means of expanding their horizons and experiencing foreign pleasures. From the Grand Tour of the 17th and 18th centuries, through to the modern-day gap year, it is an educational rite of passage that holds importance across cultures the world over. A modern-day cricketing equivalent exists too. Over the years thousands of eager players have left the comforts of home shores for an off season abroad. Every Test player is a first-time tourist at some stage in his career; there are many lessons to learn, much experience to be gained.

Cricket is a rare sport - no two wickets around the world are the same. Each ground, from village green to Test arena, has its own character and charms. There is no other sport that can lay claim to being played under such extreme variations of conditions. It is this variance that ensures experiencing the game in all its depth is a vital aspect of development for any cricketer.

I look upon my overseas club cricket experiences with great fondness. The soft "popping" wickets of Scotland taught me the valuable lesson of playing the ball late and straight. Sometimes the coin would stick vertically in the track upon tossing, and the average club trundler would become a fearsome prospect. The low, skiddy bounce of the mats of Holland provided the challenge of finding a way to score with no pace or bounce to work with. Both alien environments required a Darwinian approach to batting - adapt or perish. There was also the expectation that as the overseas pro you would win games for your team. Above all else, you could play how you wanted to play - becoming your own coach, and more importantly, your own man in the process.

For professional cricketers lucky enough (given the now-strict visa requirements) to now embark on such journeys these days, the gains of playing cricket through the calendar year can give them a significant edge over competitors back home. There is no time to down tools and lose the appetite for runs or wickets.

The path of county cricket has been a track well trodden in recent decades by overseas players attempting to make a name for themselves - Mike Hussey and Mark Waugh are two cases in point. In accumulating hours at the crease, they effectively had the batting volume of three Australian summers each year. For those who are long on Malcolm Gladwell's theory that 10,000 hours of practice are required to become an "expert", these two accelerated their learning through experience at three times the rate of their competitors.

What, then, of Test match cricket played away from familiar surrounds? I know from my own recent, albeit limited experience, I left Australia feeling like a fish who knew every corner of his bowl, only to soon be thrown into a vast ocean. Survival, which had previously been guaranteed, was now threatened by the widened environment.

It needs to be noted the term "home" series is a liberal interpretation. Most players might only play one Test a year in the comforts of their home ground - a ground they have intimate knowledge of. That is not to say they don't possess a deep understanding of other surfaces in their country, but it is nothing like the sense of ownership they feel towards "their" patch of turf.

Touring in a Test environment is the greatest test of skill a player has to face. The game itself does not change, but the parameters that it is played within are in some instances turned on their head; balls turning at right angles are as foreign for a Yorkshireman as having to fend off a throat-high bouncer is for someone who grew up on the red clay of Ahmedabad. If a spin bowler who turns the ball away from the bat produces a full, flat, leg-stump delivery in the Antipodes, it is usually punished with ease through midwicket for four. In Dominica, on Australia's recent tour, the same delivery was at times unplayable and treated with the respect given to an unexploded mine.

In some foreign conditions, players who have perfected a style of play at home over many successful years can be quickly forced to wonder where their next run is coming from. They face two choices: to push on unchanged and hope that strength of mind and luck carry them through; or to show the courage to deconstruct and rebuild their technique in a matter of days.

The best example of the latter was Matthew Hayden's sweeping masterclass in India in 2001. At the age of 30, he discovered a shot that went on to define him as a player. In doing so, he risked his career; the reward, in retrospect, was a place among the greats of the game.

Cricket is a rare sport - no two wickets around the world are the same. Each ground, from village green to Test arena, has its own character and charms. It is this variance that ensures experiencing the game in all its depth is a vital aspect of development for any cricketer

Touring in Test cricket, it seems, is harder than it looks. Of the top 20 run-scorers of the last 30 years, only four have had a better average away than they have had at home: Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Graeme Smith. Border and Smith experienced incredible success abroad - on average scoring ten more runs each time they took guard with a fresh stamp in their passports. They also both share the "fighter" tag: known to thrive as captains when their team's livelihood in a game was dependent on their own personal success - a situation that occurs more regularly when you are touring.

If searching for proof that no one technique can simply be rolled out across the globe, look no further than Hayden, who discovered a successful recipe for dominance in India, yet still also averaged an astonishing 15 runs more in Australia than he did overseas.

When does a fad become a trend? Of the current top 20 batsman (as determined by the ICC rankings), only four have superior records on the road. Of the other 14 (with two Pakistanis omitted, since they haven't played at home for three years), the average disparity between their home and away records is 14 runs. For a player who averages 50, this represents almost a 30% decline. There may well, of course, be a number of factors at work - the drain of living out of a hotel, away from family and other support networks; illness; or even a general anxiety of the unfamiliar. Like any experience, until they are your own, you have no idea what is entailed in the journey.

The paradox is this: it is the current international player who should be best placed to deal with the challenges of touring. He is much more worldly than his forebears, and the world, we are told, is becoming more and more homogenous. With the proliferation of youth World Cups, A tours and academies, the foreign should be familiar by the time players have graduated to Test cricket. However, it takes longer than you might think to acclimatise. Every ground has its own feel, and often it is not until you have tasted some success on it that you feel entirely comfortable. In this age of three-format cricket, and the resultant tightening of scheduling - in terms of time between and within tours - the luxury of playing multiple warm-up matches is now non-existent.

I know from my recent West Indian tour. It was not until the last Test that I felt I had come to terms with conditions. Within days I was back in Australia. It is easy to forget that it was not that long ago that ODIs were played between Test matches - elongating preparation time and allowing players to immerse themselves in a destination. Now, touring can be a slap-and-dash affair.

The other paradox is that much of the touring experience is now uniform: five-star hotels, business-class air travel and around-the-clock security. It is only the playing conditions that differ. Steve Waugh made it a point to get to grips with local culture wherever he went. It was his way of breaking down the barrier and manufacturing some normality in unfamiliar territory. His record on foreign shores (5217 runs at 55.5) seems to show the benefits of that effort. Modern-day preoccupations and paranoia would make it difficult for a modern-day Steve Waugh. Perhaps that is why cricketers are struggling to emulate his on-field on-the-road successes.

Ed Cowan is a top-order batsman with Tasmania and Australia, and the author of In the Firing Line

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Posted by popcorn on (June 10, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

Ed Cowan is an excellent cricket writer. A true Cricket thinker. Surprisingly, I can think of very few Cricketers who also write thoughtfully - Ian Chappell, Mark Nicholas and Aaakas Chpra. Please add to this list.

Posted by hyclass on (June 10, 2012, 2:22 GMT)

Any comparison that placed any batsman ahead of Bradman is an admission of failure to properly research.Bradman played for 20 years,split by 6 years of war. In his worst series in which the entire field was on the leg side and he was bombarded with short pitched bowling from a bowler considered one of the fastest of all time in Larwood,he averaged 56-higher than any player from either side.Bowlers bowled with back foot drag,placing them closer to the batsman than is allowed under the front foot rule.He played on uncovered wickets.There were no drinks breaks.No helmets.No sight screens in England.There were timeless Tests. No flying before the war.He suffered from sea sickness.Nearly died in 1934.Took a season off in 1935/36 to recuperate and won the SthAust squash open.Was a member of the Davis Cup tennis squad as a teenager.Shot below his age at golf when 75.There was no direct communication with his home country on tours for months at a time before the war.Bradman remains untouchable

Posted by hyclass on (June 10, 2012, 2:10 GMT)

This article was written only with the purpose of justifying Eds poor Test record. It had no intention of elucidating on the variegated conditions that are already well known to exist internationally,are the primary purpose of international tours and are the reason its called Test cricket.I cant imagine Hayden & Waugh spending countless hours excusing their own failure publicly.Perhaps thats why that team was so great. Their continued re-selection,even after being dropped,was a consequence of their peerless 1st class records-the kind of record that Ed does not possess.Regardless of all other factors,the Australian side is replete with coaches who review the opposition,the types of pitches and conditions and the methods by which they may be combatted, well in advance of any tour. The selection of players should be based soley on performance over time. Ed has 9 years of 1st class cricket and averages 40.His results are no better than the equally mediocre Marsh whose selection I opposed.

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (June 10, 2012, 2:08 GMT)

@KiwiRocker- I am surprised at the way you have drawn a conclusion on this debate. Sachin's average in ODIs 44.83 has come off 463 matches in a career that started in 1989. Whereas Kallis' average of 45.26 has come in 321 games starting in 1996. Look at the strike-rates as well.. Sachin - 86.2, Kallis - 72.9.... Well, can Kallis maintain that average if he goes on to play as many matches as Sachin is the question. The obvious and the correct answer is a NO. Not only in ODIs, but in Tests too in which Sachin has played 36 games more than Kallis.

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (June 10, 2012, 1:52 GMT)

@Meety - Also Sachin had to play almost all the world's best bowlers. For e.g. Ponting didn't have to bat against giants like Warne, McGrath, Lee, Gillespie.... Kallis didn't bat against Donald, Pollock, Ntini, Steyn. India doesn't have such GREAT bowlers to boast about that Sachin missed playing against.. Although there are spinners such as Kumble and Harbhajan who have excelled in patches. Anyway Sachin is a terrific player of spin and would have loved batting against Kumble and Harbhajan. So all in all, Sachin has faced all the world's deadliest bowlers during his time with an exception or two.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (June 9, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

@Lord Dravid, stop this prattle about Tendulkar facing pressure of a billion plus. By my estimate barely 350-400 million Indians (coupled with a few million Indian diaspora abroad) people follow Indian cricket/ SRT closely in Tests, forget ODIs (usual facts about women not following, half population not having radio/TV/Print to follow). SRT is a professional cricketer and should be impervious (and admirably has been) to "massed followers'" pressure once he is on the ground playing. India's population also did not cross a billion till 2001 by which time Sehwag,Laxman,RD etc. started supporting SRT -something which he did not have in 90s. So this MYTH about SRT playing with a billion's expectations right thru his career needs to be BUSTED.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (June 9, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

What a faboulous article by Ed! shows his writing class, eloquently put along with diligently researched stats.....I'm a fan of each and every article by you...more power to your pen & Bat!

Posted by Captain_Oblivious on (June 9, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

to those saying that bradman didn't have to face the same variety of opposition as tendulkar, you have a point. if bradman were able to play against india throughout his career, he would have averaged over 200 instead of the rather ordinary 99.94.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (June 9, 2012, 3:35 GMT)

I am amazed at the thought of a comparsion between J Kallis and Tendulya. Kallis has a superior average both in ODI as well as test matches as compared to Tendulya. Kallis also has a superior average of foruth innings so unsure why there is even a comparison. However, the main difference between Kallis and Tendulya is that Kallis has scored against everyone everywhere. Tendulya on other hand had a pathetic low 30's average against Pakistan when Pakistani bowling was at full strength and even now he is rather weak against them. J Kallis is the greatest cricketer who is in class of Sobers, Imran Khan and so on. Bradman was never tried and tested in moden day conditions and standard of bowling and fielding was different on those days so Bradman too is over hyped. No batsman ever compares to Sir Viv Richards but Kallis based on his numbers and victories for SA comes close. Tendulya has yet to win a test series or a tournament for India!..India's best overseas batsman was Dravid!

Posted by Meety on (June 9, 2012, 3:24 GMT)

@Rahane-fan - also "...a player get used to your opponents..." you do realise that Bradman's career spanned 20 yrs? The bowlers he first faced in England were not the same as who he played against in 1948. Like Sachin playing the WIndies, in his early days he would of played Ambrose & Walsh, there is nobody as good (no disrespect to Roach) currently playing. (BTW - Ambrose did not play in Sachin's first series v WI & only one rain affected series in WI). The other thing that people who mindlessly bleat on about Sachin is, how come Sachin does not average 80+? If the response is, it's harder for batsmen these days, why doesn't Sachin ave 55 & the next best batsmen not ave less than45? Except for the last year or two, we have lived in a batsmen dominated era, why can't Sachin ave 60+? Again I'll say I would have Sachin as one of the first batsmen I'd select in a world xi of players I have SEEN, but it is hard to emphatically prove he is the best of the generation, let alone of all time!

Posted by mikey76 on (June 9, 2012, 3:01 GMT)

@RandyOz. The county system is obviously pretty strong at the moment as represented by the national side. Guys that have been in the county system for a number of years like Swann and Bresnan to name two have made the transition to test match cricket pretty easily. If Hughes gets back in the Australian team it will please a lot of new ball bowlers....and slip cordons.

Posted by Bollo on (June 9, 2012, 2:42 GMT)

@Emancipator cont`d. re `Ashes and home specialist` Greg Chappell - he averaged 53 away from home. Sure he played the majority of tests in Aus, but averages of 41 in England, 49 in WI, 71 in NZ, and 75 in Asia, suggest he was equally good on the road. His 620 runs in the 5 Supertests of 1979 in the West Indies, against probably the best attack of all time - ranks as one of the great batting displays ever. Give the man his due.

Finally, re. Steve Waugh - is it surprising that a man who plays the middle 75% of his cricket in the 90s is going to perform best there? His excellent away record (ave.56) - including 42 in Pak, 50 in Saf and 69 in WI again should be lauded rather than demeaned.

Posted by Bollo on (June 9, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

@Emancipator007. You seem to draw interesting conclusions. Firstly, Sandeep`s away average (47) is `phenomenal`, wheras Ponting`s (46) over a far greater number of tests is `almost average`. Patel scored one very big ton in Aus (174 at Adelaide), but apart from that was kept pretty quiet - having to retire hurt (and bravely batting on) after being hit twice in the head/neck by Pascoe/Hogg. He was dismissed 3 times that series by Lillee, who took 21 wickets in the 3 tests at 22 (Pascoe 16 at 19). Hardly `belted` them as you suggest.

Again, re. Ponting (and his far from `average` away record) - sure he struggled badly in India, particularly early on, where he averaged about 10 in his first 8 tests. An average of 45 in his last 2 series there have hardly been `pathetic ` though - nor is an average of 42 in England `poor`.

Posted by Meety on (June 9, 2012, 1:43 GMT)

@featurewriter - no disputes from me, but I'd like to see you give examples (like someone else said).

Posted by Meety on (June 9, 2012, 1:42 GMT)

@miketurney - the biggest negative I'd say about Kallis's batting is that he was not often aggressive & didn't seem in tune with the match situation, something that Sachin is also accused of, however, with the sides Kallis has played in, it is far more of a negative. I would also say that Kallis's bowling feats are more a result of accumulation than greatness. He "only" has world class bowling stats against the weaker nations. I rate Kallis very highly, arguably the most prolific allrounder ever. I would rate Sobers, Khan, & K Miller more highly, & a young Botham too. That IMO is not bad company to be compared to! @CricFreak87 - regarding Sachin's 241 n.o @ SCG, I really admired Sachin for that knock. Whilst Oz's attack was weaker in that game, Sachin had been exploited to an extent thru out the series outside off stump. He scored those runs whilst eliminating the cover drive, if memory serves me correct, no 4s between point & mid on! That is mind power. I respect that!

Posted by Meety on (June 9, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

@Rahane-fan - "...Moreover Sachin has to bat against the mighty Australian bowling attack whereas Bradman won't have to!" - the annoying thing is it appears you didn't really read my points about Bradman v SRT. Sachin, a player I admire, "only" had to play against the "mighty" Ozzy sides LESS than 20% of his matches, not over 70%. He got to play against Oz on covered pitches, do you understand the difference between covered & uncovered pitches? Often there would be no significant difference, but given the propensity to rain in England, there would often be sticky wet wickets where run scoring was near impossible. It would be so bad, sometimes captains would "reverse" the batting line up in the hope the pitch would dry out. Sometimes captains declared on low scores (around say 7/100) to get a crack at the opposition before the pitch dried out. Bradman averaged over 55 during the bodyline series with no space age protection, what do you think SRT would of done?

Posted by Meety on (June 9, 2012, 1:27 GMT)

@CricFan24 - I don't disagree with the comment "...The fan though would have a finer appreciation of various contextual factors" My comment was PURELY in relation to more or less saying that there is no comparison between Kallis & Tendulkar. Kallis has over test 100s, there have been great knocks amongst those. I have personally stated that I would rate Sachin higher than Kallis, but only JUST. @Peterincanada - atm the moment a pitch starts to favour the bowlers, we see most batsmen in the world today cannot handle it. There are more collapses happening right now (last couple of years), then in a long time. That suggests to me, that if we went back to uncovered pitches, we'd have a situation where a 50 could get you the man of the match award. What does that say about Hammond, Ponsford & Bradman etc? @Rahane-fan - Kallis's ave in India was only a point amongst others, as for Sir Don, you miss the point I was making - over 70% of his matches were against the BEST opposition possible!!!!

Posted by Lord_Dravid on (June 9, 2012, 0:14 GMT)

@Emancipator007 and @Ravi Darira ...you both think dravid is an average player overseas?? 21 of this 36 centuries have been scored away..and no foreign players play cricket with the burden and pressure from over a billion people.. but despite this dravid goes down as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Dont belittle yourselves by even trying to criticise a master.

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (June 8, 2012, 23:12 GMT)

@Meety - And regarding the Bradman-Tendulkar comparison.. Bradman played so many games against the same opponent didn't he? That makes a player get used to your opponents and you are far more comfortable playing them. Whereas Sachin has to tackle different types of bowling attacks in all types of pitches right through the year.. Moreover Sachin has to bat against the mighty Australian bowling attack whereas Bradman won't have to!

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (June 8, 2012, 23:05 GMT)

@Meety - "Kallis has a better average than Sachin in India" That's a harsh comparison to make. Kallis has played just 9 Tests in India whereas Tendulkar has played 82, which is 9 times more. Yet Tendulkar has an average of 56.37 in India whereas Kallis is ahead just by a whisker with 58.46. And I say a whisker because Kallis has played just 9 games and that average can drop drastically if he gets out cheaply in his next match. Its the longevity that matters not the little margin by which he leads. So I would like you to take the 4th point out of the list while comparing them.

Posted by miketurney on (June 8, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

Kallis is definitely the greater player overall, as he contributes so much more than just batting. As a batsman in tests he averages more and is also able to contribute as a bowler. A cricketer is not just judged on ability as a batsman but the ability to contribute in other areas. I think there is a tendency for Tendulkar fanboys to think he has a divine right to be the best. Kallis is up there with Sobers as a top class all rounder. imagine if he had played the same amount of years as Tendulkar as a batsman and never bowled? could have made even more runs.. Dravid has always been better than Tendulkar when the chips are down

Posted by S.Jagernath on (June 8, 2012, 22:24 GMT)

@Emancipator...Rahul Dravid can't be all that bad,considering the fact that he was the first man to have a century at home & away against each test nation,21 of his 36 centuries have been scored away,the fact that he has played 94 of his 164 test matches away from home & mainly batting at #3 & even opening at times.Speaking of his ability against seam,he averages as much or more than Brian Lara in both Australia & England & more than Ponting in England as well.Honestly,when the West Indies tour England,South Africa or Australia or either of the 3 tour each other,you barely see any grass on the surface.Pitches tend to be very batsmen friendly,but when India or Pakistan tour S.A,England or Australia,pitches tend to be covered in grass & are hecticly fast.Well a fool would question Dravid's ability against seam & swing away from home,just look at his performances at Trent Bridge & the W.A.C.A.

Posted by Lord_Dravid on (June 8, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

sachin is the greatest batsmen and cricket icon of the modern era. Over 20 years in cricket is an achievement in its self..he also had many injuries, some career threatening which has kept him away from playing..and he plays with the burden and pressure from over a billion people whenever he plays which makes him far superior than other batsmen. Case rested.

Posted by CricFan24 on (June 8, 2012, 18:20 GMT)

@Meety. Am sure pretty everyone mildly interested in cricket are conversant with the stats. The fan though would have a finer appreciation of various contextual factors .For eg. when the runs were scored. Try comparing Kallis performances in the 1990s to Tendulkars,who was undoubtedly the player of the '90s. Mind you- am certainly not saying that Kallis isnt a fine batsman...simply that Tendulkar is better. The only reason Kallis record is anywhere near Tendulkars is because of career threatening injuries to Tendulkar for long periods of time....so,yeah,nevermind the stats- we all know them.

Posted by Peterincanada on (June 8, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

@Meety Well said regarding Bradman. Nothing that a modern player faces today compares with playing on uncovered pitches. They could literally be mine fields. Bradman also faced bodyline with none of the protection afforded modern day players. While his average in that series suffered it was still over 50. He also scored at a fantastic rate. People who try to rate anyone over Bradman are simply clueless.

Posted by   on (June 8, 2012, 15:25 GMT)

the point i tried to make (since people think SRT has dominated Aus and Kallis misses out against them) is that just because Srt has a better average than Kallis doesnt necessarily mean that he has performed better than them. they both have been very good(although I stick to my earlier stand). However there is a need to dig DEEPER when it comes to checking stats.

Posted by Meety on (June 8, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

@CricFan24 - for the record, I would pick Sachin over Kallis as a batsmen, however, "...Kallis as a batsman compared to Tendulkar- gimme a break." Some points to consider; 1) Both batsmen have played in over 150 Tests - Kallis's ave is superior to Sachin's by 2.5% or 56.8% to 55.4. 2) BOTH batsmen have dined out on Zim & Bang bowling, Tendulkar 96 to Kallis 124 (averages) - although Kallis has played those Nations far less. 3) Sachin's stats v Oz & Eng are superior to Kallis's, but is way more inferior against Pakistan. 4) Kallis actually has a better ave in India than Sachin. These are very SIMPLE comparisons that show that comparing these two outstanding batsmen, they have strengths & weaknesses, & at best Sachin only slightly comes in ahead of Kallis, certainly NOT by much of a margin, in fact my first point is a strong arguement to say Kallis is a better batsmen.

Posted by Meety on (June 8, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor - I have debated with you on this site a few years back on the Bradman thing. The facts are pretty indesputable that Bradman was so much greater than any other batsmen to have played Test cricket. Please check out the IT Figures blog on this website. There are numerous articles that categorically PROVE that no matter which way you looked at it, Bradman is so far ahead of the rest - the only debate available is who is 2nd! The arguement "50 different" grounds is lame. Bradman played over 70% of his cricket against the BEST opposition Oz could play against (ENGLAND). How many modern cricketers can boast that? Example - during almost the entire career of SRT, Oz has been the best opposition - he has played Oz less than 20% of his entire test career, (btw - stats wise he did very well). "...in an era of video analysis, neutral umpires, and now the stupid DRS..." Bradman played on uncovered pitches, with limited protection & had no video footage of opposition bowlers!

Posted by   on (June 8, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

I don't know why we continually have people bringing SRT into every discussion - he isn't the topic of this article, and neither is Kallis! Ed has provided us with a thought provoking view of what makes some batsmen successful overseas. He looks at a few individuals who have been MORE successful away than at home and explores some possible reasons for their success away from home. It's is not an article about individuals, it is about adaptability, determination, preparation, and cultural curiosity. No where does he advocate that he has mastered touring, nor does he claim to be secure in the side - why would anyone even suggest that he's not qualified to ponder on this subject? To be honest, if he was a master of foreign pitches he probably wouldn't be thinking so hard about the issue! Let's hope that he continues to provide us with such interesting insights!

Posted by rett on (June 8, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor "one of several reasons I don't think much of Bradman's batting average" What would the other reasons be, I wonder? It's too high? He played most of his cricket against the best team in the world? Oh tell me it's not because he was named Bradman and not Tendulkar!

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (June 8, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

"If a spin bowler who turns the ball away from the bat produces a full, flat, leg-stump delivery in the Antipodes, it is usually punished with ease through midwicket for four. In Dominica, on Australia's recent tour, the same delivery was at times unplayable and treated with the respect given to an unexploded mine. "...... One of the several reasons, I don't think much of Bradman's batting average! People like SRT, Kallis, etc have played in more than 50 different grounds across countries and players with widely differing skill sets in various conditions in an era of video analysis, neutral umpires, and now the stupid DRS!

Posted by CricFan24 on (June 8, 2012, 5:37 GMT)

@Bublu Bhuyan. If there was a "like" button in here, I would give your comment multiple likes. Easiest thing to do is to cherry-pick stats like Pranjal ambastha to "prove" a preconceived notion. Why Kallis couldnt score in apparently easier conditons is not taken into account. Both Mcgrath and Warne would pick Tendulkar over Kallis as a batsman any day of the week. Something wrong with them? Or perhaps the Kalllis nuts? Pretty clear. Kallis as an allrounder obviously Great. Kallis as a batsman compared to Tendulkar- gimme a break.

Posted by eyballfallenout on (June 8, 2012, 3:59 GMT)

I am neither indian or south african. this argument about Kallis v Tendulkar i love both players and if i had to choose only one for my team Kallis would take the spot without having to think too hard about it either.

Posted by   on (June 8, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

Kallis is not good enough to lace Tendulkar's boots.

Posted by Mary_786 on (June 8, 2012, 1:26 GMT)

As usual Cowan does the talk but doesn't back it up with runs, with an average in the 20s after 2 full series, surely this article is not warranted. Perhaps he should get his average overseas up to the par before writing this article.

Posted by Aubm on (June 8, 2012, 1:04 GMT)

@featurewriter OK then, what IS the other sport that has such extreme variations in conditions? I can't think of any.

Posted by Vkarthik on (June 7, 2012, 23:51 GMT)

Can't believe some jokers compare Kallis with Tendulkar. Kallis a batsman who grew up in bouncy conditions should have had much better average in Australia yet it is very poor. But subcontinent players don't really have any surfaces like that you see in Australia yet some of them average better than him there. This 4th innings is nonsenical parameter.

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 20:56 GMT)

A masterpiece.. really a brilliant article to read emphasizing on the real TEST of Test Cricketers..

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 14:42 GMT)

Against australia ( 3 and 4 innings avg) sachin- 35 kallis -50 Against Aus IN AUS(3and 4 inn) Sachin-27 Kallis-64 Against Aus (3 and 4 against BOTH Warne and McGrath , in all countries) Kallis-69 sachin-21 this proves that tendulkar has performed well againt Aus when he is under NO or Little pressure. I hope the die-hard Kallis fans (like me) use this in their arguments.

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

dont know how you can say cowen shouldnt be in test team he has provided something we havent had for a while someone to stay in, test cricket is about partnerships. if you want quick short rubbish go to watch 20/20. cowen isnt the problem in the order. we need a number 3 if michael clarke wants watson as a bowler watson needs to bat at 6 his technique is floored, his footwork isnt good two reason he pulls on the front foot to balls that he should pull on his backfoot and also driving instead of driving the ball on the back foot he plays on the front foot and gets out

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 7, 2012, 11:07 GMT)

I must admit I agree with the poms on Ed Cowan. Talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. With Phil Hughes carving it up in the (albeit weak) Coutny System, his days are very numbered.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (June 7, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

@CricFreak87:Fair points, only you forgetting one thing that SRT is the only player in history to return to SA,OZ,Eng,NZ again 20 years after his debut and still do well! His 73 and 80 M'bourne Sydney last series were absolute class efforts and his returns in Eng this time paled only to RD's supreme efforts. Don and others pre-WWar II only returned to Eng/OZ after such a long period. Did you get a chance to see '99 3-0 whitewash series in OZ and how SRT performed against McGrath singlehandedly? By padding, I mean overall away average (which results in deceptive home v away differential) and not necessarily in particular countries where SRT alone has 40 plu av. in all. A 29 avg. for RD in OZ (3 out of 4 tour failures), Ponting in India (slightly lesser avg. ) and for Kallis in Eng are serious dips with questions about all-round conditions/pitches adaptability rather than overall class of players.

Posted by featurewriter on (June 7, 2012, 9:13 GMT)

"There is no other sport that can lay claim to being played under such extreme variations of conditions." There are other sports that are played in such conditions. I like Ed's writing, but it's still early days yet. Much like his Test career. A more experienced writer would have phrased it differently: "There may be no other sport that can lay claim..." Adds credibility to the story and the writer. I look forward to seeing more of Ed in Test cricket - and reading more of his writing in print.

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

Very skillyfully written article

Posted by SirWilliam on (June 7, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

Another good article from this fine author, but ... I've never seen a fish bowl with corners!

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

@Emancipator007 Totally agree wih you about Rahul Dravid. His overseas batting is way over rated. All the talks about his techniques, he was bowled 8 times on the last australian tour. By any standard, or level that is un acceptable.

Posted by CricFreak87 on (June 7, 2012, 7:49 GMT)

@ Emancipator007 : How many tests and series have India won in windies and nz after Sachin's debut and what makes you think playing there is very easy?? Didn't 100* and 100 in capetown padd up Sachin's numbers and still the avg is just 40 in saf. A good series for Kallis in England might get his avg there right?? It is all a matter of 1 good series and all the avgs will be fine!! I like Sachin. But y always bring numbers to undermine a players talent. somebody like a kallis or a dravid?? If dravid makes 29, he can be involved in a partnership worth 100?? Doesn't his partnership runs accounting for 35% of India's total runs bring home this point??

Posted by CricFreak87 on (June 7, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

@ Emancipator007 : so are we going to ignore the fact that Pakistan is also a very good bowling unit and Sachin relally didn't have a grt success. He has an Ok series when he was 16. fine. Didn't the 194* padd up his average enough to cover that?? didn't his 241* in sydney padd up his average and cover up the fact that he had a bad series in aus in 2004?? Okay if you say Removing bichell and keeping mcgrath in makes aus a lot more dangerous , then how come Sachin does not have a decent enough record againt Mcgrath?? Does SAchin have a grt record againt Walsh and ambrose?? So he was not grt agianst Walsh, ambrose ,mcgrath, wasim,waqar?? and you are going to undermine all the goood players like Kallis,dravid,lara and punter. just to put across your point?? so Sachin is not great against saf and Pak . Kallis bad against Eng and yet Sachin is the most balanced. And y do we totally ignore players like waugh and border to make sachin the best in arguments?

Posted by kh1902 on (June 7, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

Too many cricket articles quote obscure stats to supposedly prove a point. Tendulkar's average in India might be higher than abroad, but his average abroad is higher than Dravid's - this makes Ed's point about the differential between abroad and home averages a bit misplaced.

Besides I wouldn't pay to see Dravid, Waugh or Border, regardless of where they are playing. The likes of Lara, Ponting or Tendulkar contribute more to the fabric of the game by capturing the imagination of the public.

Posted by kh1902 on (June 7, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

A well written article by Ed as usual. However I think it's too simplistic to look at the statistic of average away compared to average at home and make comments based on that. For example an Australian or South African batsman might average well in India but not be able to adapt in England. Looking at an aggregate average away from home won't capture this differential. Ed mentions Dravid but his performances in South Africa have been poor and in Australia mostly underwhelming. On what basis does that reflect his adaptability away from home? As usual stats don't tell the full story. I can understand why Ed wants to elevate the dour batsman like Border, Waugh and Dravid - their style is just like his!

Posted by Meety on (June 7, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Interesting thoughts. I think that in theory, modern cricketers should do better away from home than past greats(due to the Youth A-tours that abound), however the tight FTP, means that you only get 3 FC matches at BEST, before a Test series, which means in certain situations, you can be acclimatising still, well into a test series, as per Cowan's WIndies experience.

Posted by Praxis on (June 7, 2012, 6:48 GMT)

Fine article, Ed. Loved it.

Posted by straight_drive4 on (June 7, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

Another top notch article. Well done Ed, keep them coming.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (June 7, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Despite such a long career, Tendulkar has the most balanced away record with no sheer dips or extremely poor record in any 1 country showcasing his unparalleled talent and class. Though only after last successful tour to SA did he push his avg. past 40 there.SRT somehow never conquered Pak too with big scores (of course includes that first tour as a 16 year old with OK returns) unlike Sunny,Dravid,Sehwag. Kallis is pathetic in Eng, just above average in OZ. Lara was OK in OZ with those biggie 200s padding his avg. Sunny was just supreme in WI.Pak,OZ but his avg. dipped in '80s in Eng after a great '70s there. Ponting arguably the best player on pacy decks in this gen has very good records in SA ad OZ (though extreme pacer Shoaib rattled him in OZ as well as UAE/SL).

Posted by thetopofoff on (June 7, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

"There is no other sport that can lay claim to being played under such extreme variations of conditions."

I disagree Ed. What about golf?

Posted by srriaj317 on (June 7, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

To find a modern day cricketer who writes such analytical articles...baffling! Fantastic work, Eddie Cowan! You always keep us waiting longingly for your next piece.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (June 7, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

There is a mistake, even Gavaskar had a better away than home record of top 20 rungetters. Dravid's away average is deceptive; avg.29 and 41 against the best pace attacks SA and OZ in their countries and also poor record in SL. Padded his ave against fading WI although has very good record in Eng (but then so does weakest of the Indian Big 4 Ganguly). Doughty Waugh improved his away averages only in '90s and did not have to face brunt of WI pace demons in '80s tours and also did not fare well against Pak's varied attack including pace in Pak. Though his resilience can never be doubted. Indian Sandeep Patil had a phenomenal record abroad-twice his home average, albeit over a short career (very good in Eng,NZ,OZ-belted Lillie/Pascoe/Hogg). Raina seems to be getting more chances than him in Tests with 1/4th his talent to play pace. Ponting's away record is almost average with pathetic returns in India and poor in Eng. Ashes and home "specialist" Greg Chappell rarely toured.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (June 7, 2012, 5:46 GMT)

I believe that a batsman's persona is vital in dominating bowlers.If such a batsman already has a good record at home,his legend preceds him when he plays outside.Hayden is one such.He succeeded mostly because of his belligerent persona and to some extent because he was a reasonably good batsmen.I am not sure he would have had a career as long as he had if Ambrose,Walsh,Donald and Pollock had played more during Hayden's career span.Viv Richards was a great batsmen with a fearsome persona to match.He could just destroy anyone anywhere in the world as much with his looks.I agree that the benchmark of greatness is being successful everywhere.To some extent it has to do with hours of practice if one is not blessed much talent. Then there are the talented ones who will play well anywhere.Tendulkar scored his first two hundereds at Old Trafford and the WACA at Perth against top class fast bowling.He still has the enthusiasm after playing for 20 years, but time may have taken its toll.

Posted by cricketandmore on (June 7, 2012, 5:21 GMT)

excellent first hand account. perfect balance of prose and stats.. clarity in presenting one's own experience and observation of others' journeys. espeicially loved the dissection of hayden's overseas record into that in india and others. wish every budding test cricketer with stars in their eyes go read this post.

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Ed CowanClose
Ed Cowan Ed Cowan is a top order batsman with Tasmania and Australia, having played 5 seasons with NSW, where he was raised. He attributes his lack of shots on the cricket field to fatherly threats of having to pay for any windows broken in the backyard. Hobbies tend to come and go (vegetable patches are the latest craze), but his love of Australian indie rock music has endured.

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