2010 Review

Stats analysis

A splendid year for England and Amla

England won two big events in 2010, while Hashim Amla was the only batsman to top 1000 runs in both Tests and ODIs

S Rajesh

January 4, 2011

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Hashim Amla begins the third day in aggressive fashion, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 3rd day, December 18, 2010
Hashim Amla scored 10 international centuries in 2010, which has only been bettered by two batsmen in any year © AFP
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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 Test batting averages in a year since 2000
Year Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
2009 41 44,710 35.71 97/ 217
2010 43 44,798 34.51 98/ 214
2003 44 45,791 33.99 99/ 194
2004 51 53,325 33.22 119/ 231
2007 31 31,121 32.93 65/ 142

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.

Top ODI batting averages in a year since 2000
Year ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
2005 107 45,689 29.34 78.67 50/ 239
2009 150 62,197 29.06 79.91 68/ 325
2001 120 48,125 28.34 72.46 50/ 262
2010 142 59,168 28.33 77.95 65/ 303
2007 191 76,466 28.23 77.43 75/ 428

Australia's downfall
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-wise Test batting stats 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-wise Test bowling stats in 2010
Team Tests Wickets Runs per wkt 5WI/ 10WM 2009 runs per wkt
England 14 250 27.48 13/ 2 36.41
South Africa 11 181 31.22 7/ 1 39.65
Australia 12 195 33.47 11/ 1 32.31
Pakistan 10 159 35.47 8/ 0 38.80
India 14 214 38.52 3/ 1 38.45
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
Bangladesh 7 84 54.91 5/ 0 31.51

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-wise ODI stats in 2010
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
England 17 12/ 5 35.48 5.42 29.05 5.03
Australia 25 16/ 8 37.22 5.35 24.77 5.00
India 27 17/ 10 37.32 5.50 32.81 5.36
West Indies 17 6/ 10 28.57 5.08 29.43 4.87
Bangladesh 27 9/ 18 28.48 4.79 36.71 5.32
New Zealand 21 6/ 14 25.18 5.12 31.62 4.95
Pakistan 18 5/ 13 25.69 5.14 38.18 5.35

More stats

  • 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

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Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 19:43 GMT)

Rajesh, I'm sure you'd agree that numbers need to be put into perspective. How can England be the best team in the world after playing Bangladesh, Pakistan and Australia? They played one match against a very good team and lost by an innings!! Even Australia and Pakistan beat them in a match each

Posted by TheBigFatFlapjack on (January 5, 2011, 11:28 GMT)


3. Sri Lanka's team test bowling average is obviously because of muralitharan's retirment and malinga's continued absence from the test team. they finished 2009, however, with a significantly better bowling average of 38

4, Again, sri lanka (sorry, I'm sri lankan and i'm feeling particularly patriotic today) are underestimated as an ODI side too. their ODI batting average in 2010 is one of the best and if not for a weakened middle order after the retirement of arnold and atapattu and the decline of jayawardena we'd be able to challenge India for the best batting of 2010.

5, and lastly, our ODI bowling (again underestimated to a even greater extent) showed all the critics that they were wrong. we finished 2010 as the side with the best odi bowling average, even if we only played most of our matches at home. on an interesting note, it goes to show what a force we'd be if only we had malinga playing consistently. if only...

Posted by TheBigFatFlapjack on (January 5, 2011, 11:28 GMT)


3. Sri Lanka's team test bowling average is obviously because of muralitharan's retirment and malinga's continued absence from the test team. they finished 2009, however, with a significantly better bowling average of 38

4, Again, sri lanka (sorry, I'm sri lankan and i'm feeling particularly patriotic today) are underestimated as an ODI side too. their ODI batting average in 2010 is one of the best and if not for a weakened middle order after the retirement of arnold and atapattu and the decline of jayawardena we'd be able to challenge India for the best batting of 2010.

5, and lastly, our ODI bowling (again underestimated to a even greater extent) showed all the critics that they were wrong. we finished 2010 as the side with the best odi bowling average, even if we only played most of our matches at home. on an interesting note, it goes to show what a force we'd be if only we had malinga playing consistently. if only...

Posted by TheBigFatFlapjack on (January 5, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

first of all let me thank you for this very detailed and informative article S Rajesh. you're one of the writers whom i keep a look out for on cricinfo.

i read thru the whole article and here are a few points that came to mind:

1, as you pointed out even tho a decent number of ODIs were played they were played with/among 'minnows'. this surely is a positive sign for cricket but the flip side being ODIs have fallen out of favour among top cricketing nations. ODI's are the 'poor man's test cricket'. this is alarming for ODI fans like me as its very likely this trend would continue in 2011 and beyond, with the only saviour being the CWC.

2, there is always a hullaballo whenever Sri Lanka's strength as a team team is mentioned. yes, its true sri lanka are significantly weaker abroad and their bowling especially fast bowling lacks tooth, but their batting has always covered up the cracks in their armour. They finished 2010 as the best batting test side on paper and even in 2009 were no2

Posted by mahendrannill on (January 4, 2011, 23:01 GMT)

2010 had been a gr8 yr for England in tests... I personally feel they havent played against India. Also Pak missed didnt host any tests in their country... so no reason why they r not in the top list... ODIs, as usual SA rocking right before a WC..... lets c whether they ll win this time... othwse SL may take away the cup, they look amazing in recent past...

Posted by Felinfoel on (January 4, 2011, 21:48 GMT)

The annual stats always makes for interesting reading. Amazingly they make Oz sound a worse team than in reality they are. Terrible shame that of course;). Meanwhile, India and SA are deservedly at the top of the Test table, feasting on a hearty list of achievers, India with the bat and of course Zaheer, SA with ball and of course Amla. And dear England a few seats down as the teenager playing adult of the cricketing test dinner table, hoping that next year he'll be allowed to move onto the Champagne rather than stick to the old Lager Shandy. And a long way down, Pakistan, now the cricket equivalent of a Western Economy. Boom followed by bust, hoping that another boom boom is just around the corner.

Posted by Champ2000 on (January 4, 2011, 21:17 GMT)

Agree with most of it. England is not best team just because they retained ashes. This is low of AUS. Also they played against 8 against pak and Bang..SA nad india can win those every day of the week.

I will stick to waht ranking says. SA best ODI team and IND best test team and AUs biggest downfall. Eng most improoved team.

Posted by cricPassion2009 on (January 4, 2011, 18:24 GMT)

General comments: Stats reveal the truth as is:

1. Sachin's performance in 2010 has been incredible for a 36-37 year old. The Little Master is poised to pound some more memorable innings in 2011. 2. Ponting's numbers in 2010 indicate that he is due for a big year - could be 2011. Ponting's most difficult competition appears to be with Kallis. 3. Spin is on the decline.

Posted by mars2009 on (January 4, 2011, 18:18 GMT)

Bangalis are not great athletes , they are not good in any sports. How many medals they won in 39 years?? I guess only one in recent asian games. Check out Bangladesh stats in stats guru right from the beginning of their international cricket. Stats speaks for itself.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 17:28 GMT)

Very 2010 for india..........................

Posted by Trickstar on (January 4, 2011, 17:16 GMT)

@A.Ak So what if England played those 2 teams, they also played SA and Australia, there's practically no difference between those 2 and NZ, WI and no team in a year plays the top teams more than once, even though next year England play Indian and Sri Lanka.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 16:46 GMT)

I pity the likes of Harbhajan and Ojha,having have to bowl in pitches flatter than Highways, automatically their averages are pushed up..for not much of their fault.

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 4, 2011, 15:12 GMT)

stats can be manipulated anyway possible. i often fall for relying on stats in sports but they are often meaningless

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 15:07 GMT)

@Rob Steen: Well SA is feeling the heat of ZAK even though he clocked under 80mph (on an avg.)...If he was express pace the SA batsmen would have fallen like a pack of cards :) and look at what express pace did...even Harbhajan hit Steyn for a SIX !!!

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

Nice stats. I found the Hussey vs. Swann stat especially interesting. He really is an underpraised batsman and I don't know why he isn't batting at no. 3 or 4 for Australia.

An analysis on the number of players retiring vs. the form/ranking of the team will be interesting!

@Rob Steen: Medium-fast perhaps? :)

Posted by stormy16 on (January 4, 2011, 12:09 GMT)

One thing that jumps out is that the top 4 teams (SA, Aus, Ind & Eng) played almost twice as more test as the others and Pak managed 10 tests despite not being able to play at home. I am not sure if its just this year or if this is the case all the time which would explain why some of the weaker teams are weak - not enough exposure to improve and maintain form. I reckon there must be some consistancy to make anything really meaningfull - for example if Aus keep playing like they have this series then Eng are in for a treat over the next couple of years and the same could be said if SA kept playing Bang. To be meaningful there should be a consistent home and away sereies and the measure is every two years. I know the ICC had a 5 year plan but not sure if that is still in place and if the above is the result then something is wrong with the plan.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 12:06 GMT)

new zealand need to learn to play on the subcontinent, all 9 of their losses were there. This is a worrying stat leading into world cup time

Posted by CricketPissek on (January 4, 2011, 11:14 GMT)

@Nadeem1976 - am pretty sure Australia had a longer losing streak than bangladesh or Pakistan this year :-D

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 11:02 GMT)

Classing Zaheer as 'fast-medium' is pushing it a bit. In the Cape Town Test he has averaged under 80mph, which puts him in the Paul Collingwood category. Mind you, it's about time we restored the concept of a medium-pace strike bowler. Pace isn't everything, after all.

Posted by A.Ak on (January 4, 2011, 11:01 GMT)

Its ridiculous to say England is the best because they retained ashes after 24 years. In this year they played 4 tests against Bangladesh and 4 against Pakistan, statistically they played against the worst teams. Certainly Amla and Sachin are the best batsman of the year.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

@ Nadeem1976 @............Bangladesh is the worst team ?.!!! ?...who says..?...according to ODI Stat.... Pakistan & New zealand r the worst team....& ..now they r fighting.......to prove ...who r the worst team......(already pakistan is ... near....to become the worst team...by ...loosing t20..... )

Posted by Joji_ on (January 4, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

@Nadeem1976: Don't be so sarcastic. Who would you bet on if PAK/BAN would play a ODI, or may be PAK/WI, or PAK/NZ. Being a Pakistani fan, it has not doubt been a tough year for us but hope is what we are clinging on to. You will see this same team doing well in the World cup. Its not a hunch, its our history, rather unfortunate but true.

Posted by evenflow_1990 on (January 4, 2011, 8:00 GMT)

sri lanka's doing quite well across the board. this is good to see!

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

Bangladesh are now a reasonably strong team in ODIs; esp they are very competitive in their home condition. Although the first part of this year was quite shaky for them, they get their act together in the home series against New Zealand (won 4-0) and Zimbabwe (won 3-1).

Posted by sonofchennai on (January 4, 2011, 7:25 GMT)

Zaheer's stats are impressive with an avg under 22 and strike rate under 40 only betterred marginally by Steyn..Sure, Zak has become one fo the top fast medium bowlers

Posted by Rydham on (January 4, 2011, 4:53 GMT)

Where is the stats for wicket keepers ? Catches ?

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (January 4, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

Here you go. The worst team of the year goes to Pakistan. Thanks that finaly 2010 is over. I do hope that Pakistan play well in 2011. If not better then please better than Bangladesh. Pakistan performance this year is worse than Bangladesh. Oh no. I want ICC to setup test series between pakistan and bangladesh to verify which team is worst in cricket. If india/SA can play for top spot then pak/bangla deinately play for last spot. We need series. We need series.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2011, 4:19 GMT)

nice stastistics Rajesh....... rare ones

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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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