A splendid year for England and Amla
It was a year when three landmarks that were generally considered unreachable a few years ago were achieved by two remarkable cricketers: Muttiah Muralitharan touched the 800-wicket mark on the way to a fairy-tale finish to his Test career, while Sachin Tendulkar conjured up two magic moments: early in the year he became the first double-centurion in men's ODIs, and he capped off 2010 with his 50th Test hundred. England were arguably the best team of the year, winning the World Twenty20 and retaining the Ashes after a 24-year wait, while Australia fell from their lofty perch. Admittedly there were plenty of unwanted off-the-field stories, but there were enough on-field highlights as well. Here's a look at some of the important stats from 2010:
Batsmen's year in Tests
For the second year in a row the batting average for the year - runs scored off the bat divided by total dismissals - was higher than 34. Since the beginning of 1980, the only other year the average exceeded 34 was 1989, when batsmen scored 36.70 runs per dismissal.
However, even though batsmen had a good time in 2010, the top bowlers did much better than they had the year before: in 2009 none of those who took 30 wickets or more did so at an average of less than 27; last year there were five bowlers who averaged less than 25 - Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Zaheer Khan, James Anderson and Mohammad Amir. On the flip side, though, in 2009 only one of nine bowlers in the 30-wicket club conceded more than 34 runs per wicket; in 2010 there were four, and two of them, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha, also bowled plenty of overs. Harbhajan bowled the most overs - 612 - while Ojha was one of only two other bowlers to exceed 500. Both averaged more than 40 - despite Harbhajan's fine display in the Durban Test - and their figures were largely instrumental in pushing the overall bowling averages for the year higher.
Top teams avoid ODIs
While the overall number of ODIs played was a fairly healthy 142, a break-up reveals that many of them involved the lesser teams. Of the 142 games only 107 involved one of the nine Test-playing sides, and 83 had two of the top nine teams playing each other. In contrast, there were only 126 ODIs in all in 2008, but 110 of them involved at least one of those nine teams.
Even among the nine teams, Bangladesh played more games than all teams except India - both those sides led the way with 27 matches apiece, while South Africa played 16 and England 17. India played more ODIs than any other side, but by their lofty standards even their ODI dosage was pretty moderate: only once since the beginning of 2000 have they played fewer than 27 matches in a calendar year. Clearly their success in Tests is causing the powers that be to change their itinerary - India even swapped ODIs for Tests this year. For South Africa too, this was an extremely light ODI year - it's the fewest matches they've played in a year since 2000. With the top teams playing relatively few games, it isn't really surprising that the overall ODI average and run-rate weren't very high.
|Year||ODIs||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
Nothing illustrates Australia's huge slide as a Test slide better than the fact that their batting average of 33.82 runs per wicket was bettered by five teams in 2010, including their neighbours New Zealand - something that has happened only three times in the last 20 years. Michael Hussey was the only Australian batsman to average more than 50, and even he only barely passed the mark, averaging 50.89 in 12 Tests. The biggest disappointments were obviously Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, both of whom averaged only slightly more than 36 and scored three hundreds in 44 innings.
On the other hand Sri Lanka and South Africa were splendid with the bat. The Sri Lankans played only six Tests in 2010, but a couple of their batsmen caused plenty of damage to opposition bowlers in those limited opportunities: Thilan Samaraweera had an average of 114.25 in eight innings, while Kumar Sangakkara missed the 100 average by just five runs, and instead finished with a Bradman-esque 99.28. Meanwhile, three of South Africa's batsmen - Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers - averaged more than 75, and among them scored 14 Test centuries in 56 innings.
In terms of aggregates, though, a couple of Indians led the way: Tendulkar's 1562 runs was the year's best, with Virender Sehwag following on 1422. Tendulkar finished with a fantastic average of 78.10, but the Indians also benefited from the fact that no team played more Tests than them in the year. England were the only side with as many Tests as India - both played 14. In 2009, India had played only six Tests.
England, India and South Africa also firmly established themselves as the top Test teams of 2010, with win-loss ratios of more than 2. The gap between their win-loss ratios and that of the fourth-best team was huge - Australia only managed 1.20, with six wins and five defeats. They'd lost five in 2008 as well, but before that you'd have to go back to 1985 for a year when they lost as many matches.
The team with the lowest batting average was Pakistan - they were the only side to score less than 25 runs per wicket. Strangely, though, despite all the controversies off the field, Pakistan had a couple of memorable results, winning a Test against Australia in England and drawing that series, and also reaching the semi-finals of the World Twenty20. However, as a Test team they were terribly inconsistent, beginning the year with an astonishing defeat in Sydney and then losing five more Tests. The stat of two centuries and 23 fifties shows how poor their batsmen were at making their starts count. (Click here for the list of highest run-getters in 2010.)
|Team||Tests||Won/ lost||Runs per wkt||100s/ 50s||2009 runs per wkt|
|Sri Lanka||6||1/ 1||53.25||7/ 17||44.51|
|South Africa||11||5/ 2||47.69||19/ 21||33.30|
|India||14||8/ 3||41.65||23/ 37||58.90|
|England||14||9/ 3||39.91||17/ 31||42.32|
|New Zealand||6||1/ 3||35.52||8/ 13||31.38|
|Australia||12||6/ 5||33.82||12/ 37||41.73|
|West Indies||6||0/ 2||31.27||3/ 15||31.12|
|Bangladesh||7||0/ 7||29.37||7/ 20||24.96|
|Pakistan||10||2/ 6||24.24||2/ 23||32.24|
England's top-class bowling unit
England also owed their excellent results in 2010 to the consistency of their bowlers - they were the only team to achieve a bowling average of less than 30 in the year. Three of the top six wicket-takers of the year belonged to England, and each of them - Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Steven Finn - averaged below 27 runs per wicket. That meant England, more than any other side, put pressure on the opposition batsmen with wicket-taking bowlers operating from both ends.
None of the other teams had three bowlers who were so incisive, though Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel did an outstanding job for South Africa, while the two Mohammads, Amir and Asif, were equally impressive for Pakistan. However, South Africa's third-highest wicket-taker was Paul Harris (23 wickets at 50.65), and Pakistan's was Umar Gul (21 at 43.85). Zaheer Khan, meanwhile, played lone ranger for India, with 47 wickets at 21.97. The second-highest for India was Harbhajan Singh (43 at 40.69).
Four teams conceded more than 40 runs per wicket, including Sri Lanka, who obviously missed the genius of Muttiah Muralitharan. West Indies' bowling woes continued - they've averaged more than 40 in each of the last eight years, but this is the first time in 53 years they've gone beyond 45.
(Click here for the leading wicket-takers in Tests in 2010.)
|Team||Tests||Wickets||Runs per wkt||5WI/ 10WM||2009 runs per wkt|
|South Africa||11||181||31.22||7/ 1||39.65|
|Sri Lanka||6||74||42.60||4/ 0||38.86|
|West Indies||6||60||46.56||3/ 0||44.53|
|New Zealand||6||81||47.60||2/ 0||40.93|
The ODI story in 2010
South Africa played only 16 ODIs in 2010, but they made them count, winning 12 and losing only four. It helped that eight of those games were against West Indies and Zimbabwe - South Africa won all those matches. They were also the only team to average more than six runs per over in the year. Sri Lanka, England and Australia were the other ODI teams with win-loss ratios of two or more.
At the other end of the scale were New Zealand and Pakistan, who had terrible years in ODIs. For both teams 2010 was their worst ODI year since the beginning of this century. New Zealand's lowest point was their 4-0 whitewash in Bangladesh, which was then followed by five more defeats in India. They ended up winning only six out of 21 matches. Pakistan's win-loss record for the year was even worse, though they redeemed it somewhat by playing out a close series against South Africa late in the year.
The lack of matches for the top teams also meant that the 1000-run mark was breached by only one batsman in 2010. In 2009 six batsmen reached that milestone, but the irrepressible Hashim Amla was the only member of the club last year, though Virat Kohli almost got there, falling only five runs short.
Among the bowlers Shakib Al Hasan headed the wicket-takers' list, which is the second time in five years that a bowler from Bangladesh has topped the chart for most wickets; in 2006 the honour went to Mashrafe Mortaza.
|Team||ODIs||Win/ loss||Runs per wkt - bat||Run rate||Runs per wkt - bowl||Econ rate|
|South Africa||16||12/ 4||46.08||6.01||30.06||5.52|
|Sri Lanka||22||15/ 6||37.37||5.23||27.72||4.96|
|West Indies||17||6/ 10||28.57||5.08||29.43||4.87|
|New Zealand||21||6/ 14||25.18||5.12||31.62||4.95|
- Tendulkar scored seven Test hundreds in 2010; only Mohammad Yousuf, with nine in 2006, has scored more. Tendulkar's previous best was five, in 1999.
- Tendulkar's Test tally of 1562 is his highest in a calendar year, going past his previous best of 1392 in 2002. It's the sixth time he has scored 1000 or more runs in a year.
- Jacques Kallis' six Test hundreds in the year - including his maiden double in Centurion - is a record for him too. His previous best was also five, in 2007 and 2004.
- Amla scored 10 international hundreds in 2010 - five each in Tests and ODIs. Only Tendulkar (12 in 1998) and Ponting (11 in 2003) have scored more international hundreds in all forms of the game in a calendar year.
- Ponting's Test average of 36.95 in 2010 is his lowest in a year since 1998, when he averaged 29.38.
- Despite the leading wicket-taker of the year being a spinner, the overall Test average for spinners in 2010 was 40.56, which is the worst since 2000. Other than Swann, the leading spin wicket-takers leaked plenty of runs per wicket.
- Morne Morkel had Chris Gayle's number in 2010, dismissing him six times in all international cricket. It was the most times a bowler dismissed a batsman in the year.
- Michael Hussey scored 196 runs off Swann in all international cricket, which was the most runs made by a batsman against a single bowler in the year. Hussey was dismissed by Swann twice, giving him an average of 98.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo