Year of the bowler and the debutant
It was the year of the World Cup, and while the tournament, and India's victory, received plenty of mileage, in many ways 2011 was memorable because of the kind of cricket that was witnessed in the longest version of the game. Test cricket became attractive again, with bowlers having plenty of say in proceedings. England underlined their status as the best team in the format, and while India took the coveted prize in ODIs, Pakistan and Australia had great runs too in ODIs. Here's a stats round-up of 2011, with a look at the key stats and some offbeat numbers in the year.
Bowlers, take a bow
After being tossed around the park over the previous couple of years, the bowlers made a strong comeback in 2011. The batting average in the year (average of batsmen, excluding runs in extras) was 30.76, the lowest since 2002, when it had been 30.50. The number of centuries dropped to 72 in 39 Tests - an average of 1.85 per match. In the earlier two years the ratio had been 2.28 (2010) and 2.36 (2009).
In 2010, the averages of the bowlers who took 30 or more Test wickets varied widely - from Dale Steyn's 21.41 to Pragyan Ojha's 43.60. In 2011, the spread in averages wasn't so vast: five bowlers averaged less than 26, and two more than 35; and the poorest of the lot was Ishant Sharma's 36.69. England and Pakistan dominate the top averages for 2011, with five of the six slots occupied by them. That also immediately explains how those two teams achieved the success they did in Test cricket over the year.
For batsmen, though, success was much harder to come by. In 2010, six batsmen scored more than 1000 Test runs, and five of them averaged more than 60. (The other, Alastair Cook, averaged 58.50.) In 2011, only two batsmen topped 1000 Test runs, and neither averaged more than 60 - Rahul Dravid topped the charts with 1145 runs at 57.25, while Kumar Sangakkara scored 1034 runs but averaged less than 50 (49.23). There were a couple in the 900s, though, with huge averages: Ian Bell scored 950 runs at 118.75, while Cook's 927 came at 84.27.
The overall Test bowling average in 2011 was 32.31, which was a significant improvement over the previous two years. Both fast bowlers and spinners contributed to the improved bowling figures, but in relative terms, spinners had a more significant improvement on their 2010 numbers: their average dropped from 40.52 to 34.40, a difference of 15%. For the fast bowlers, the improvement was about 10%.
Saeed Ajmal was clearly the leading spinner of 2011, with 50 wickets at 23.86, and he received excellent support from Abdur Rehman, whose 36 wickets came at 26.27. There were others too: Rangana Herath, who spun Sri Lanka to their first win in South Africa, took 41 at a sub-30 average, while R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha made good use of home conditions against West Indies. (Click here to check out the leading spinners of 2011.)
In terms of wickets Ishant was the leading fast bowler of 2011, but he conceded nearly 37 runs per wicket. Far better stats belonged to James Anderson (35 wickets at 24.85), Umar Gul (34 at 25.67), Stuart Broad (33 at 22.30) and Steyn (28 at 19.57). (Click here for the full list of fast bowlers in 2011.)
|Year||Pace - wkts||Average||5WI/ 10WM||Spin - wkts||Average||5WI/ 10WM|
|2011||798||31.12||31/ 2||435||34.40||18/ 1|
|2010||776||34.14||37/ 4||476||40.52||19/ 1|
|2009||771||37.22||25/ 0||438||38.47||17/ 0|
|2008||958||32.59||28/ 3||475||35.57||24/ 5|
|2007||629||33.23||18/ 2||281||37.54||12/ 2|
England's winning spree
After notching up a 9-3 win-loss record in 2010, England did even better in 2011, winning six out of eight Tests, and not losing any. They blanked India 4-0, and also achieved wins against Australia and Sri Lanka. Pakistan were the only other team who dominated the Tests they played, winning six out of ten, though three of those wins were against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Not surprisingly, those are the two sides with huge positive differences between their batting and bowling averages. South Africa and Australia are the only other teams with higher batting averages than their bowling ones.
|Team||Tests||W/ L||Bat ave||Bowl ave||Ave diff|
|South Africa||5||2/ 2||30.00||26.52||3.48|
|West Indies||10||2/ 4||27.66||33.00||-5.34|
|New Zealand||5||2/ 2||25.84||32.22||-6.38|
|Sri Lanka||11||1/ 4||29.74||40.77||-11.03|
Debutants on a roll
It's been mentioned before, but this has been one of the major stories of 2011, and so is worth repeating - debutants, especially bowlers, were on a roll like in no other year. Bowlers playing their first Test accounted for 114 wickets in 2011 - by far the most they've ever taken in a year - at an average of 27.14. Their tally of wickets in 2011 was about 25% better than the previous record for a year.
None of them took a ten-for on debut, but there were eight five-fors, which is three more than the previous record, in 2003. It started with Praveen Kumar's six-wicket haul in Kingston in June, and then continued all the way till the Boxing Day Test in Durban, when Marchant de Lange took 8 for 126 against Sri Lanka. R Ashwin took the most wickets on debut, nine, while three bowlers - Vernon Philander, Aizaz Cheema and de Lange - took eight each. (Click here for the list of debutant bowlers in 2011.)
|Year||Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
For debutant batsmen, though, 2011 was passable, but not extraordinary like it was for the bowlers. There were two centuries and six fifties by debutants in Tests in 2011, which is nothing as prolific as the centuries figure in 2001 (six) or 2009 (five). Shaun Marsh and Kirk Edwards were the two who scored hundreds, while Dinesh Chandimal made two fifties in his debut in Durban, but the overall average in their debut Tests for those who batted in the top seven was 30.84. It's a decent average, but 2009 was much better (average 41.29), as was 2010 (36.70). (Click here for the year-wise stats for debutant batsmen.)
ODIs - big picture unchanged, but spin takes centre stage
This being a World Cup year, there was obviously plenty of focus on ODIs, but the overall numbers in the 50-over game didn't change much at all this year, unlike the Test stats. The table below shows that over the last five years the average and the run rates each year have stayed within a very narrow band.
|Year||ODIs||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
The difference was more in the way the teams played the game, with spinners coming into play far more than earlier. That's also because the World Cup was played on typically slow pitches in the subcontinent, where lack of pace on the ball was the best weapon for bowlers, but even so the overall numbers for 2011, and for the year before that, show that captains rely on slow bowling in ODIs much more than they used to. (Click here for a Numbers Game piece on the topic.)
|Year||Total overs||Wkts||Ave/ ER||Spin-overs||Wkts||Ave/ ER||spin overs %|
|2011||12644.0||1956||31.90/ 4.93||5295.4||749||32.76/ 4.63||41.88|
|2010||12611.2||1911||32.13/ 4.86||5183.5||661||36.11/ 4.60||41.10|
|2009||12921||1939||33.40/ 5.01||4609.2||630||34.14/ 4.66||35.67|
|2008||10400||1605||31.23/ 4.82||3665.4||524||32.35/ 4.62||35.24|
|2007||16326.5||2462||32.61/ 4.91||5225.1||708||35.58/ 4.82||32.00|
The contrast is even greater when the analysis is restricted to the first 15 overs. The percentage of overs bowled by spin in this part of the innings in 2011 went up to 21; in 2007 the corresponding percentage had been 4.36. In 2011, spinners bowled 54 overs right at the start of an innings (the first or second overs); in 2007 it had happened just once.
|Year||Total overs||Wkts||Ave/ ER||Spin overs||Wkts||Ave/ ER||Spin overs %|
|2011||4246.4||565||35.02/ 4.65||908.2||121||32.09/ 4.27||21.39|
|2010||3720.5||522||34.11/ 4.78||595.0||85||30.18/ 4.31||15.99|
|2009||4121.5||558||35.35/ 4.78||371.5||52||31.28/ 4.37||9.02|
|2008||3462.1||469||34.97/ 4.73||256.0||38||31.84/ 4.72||7.39|
|2007||4804.5||697||31.71/ 4.60||209.2||24||41.91/ 4.80||4.36|
The best ODI teams
Pakistan had the best win-loss record in ODIs in 2011. They bounced back superbly this year after all the controversies of 2010, winning 24 games and losing only seven. Eleven of those wins were against the lesser sides, but they also did well against stiffer opposition, reaching the World Cup semi-final and winning series in New Zealand and against Sri Lanka.
Australia's ODI performance was stronger than their Test stats in 2011: they won three matches for every one they lost. India won the tournament that mattered the most, but a poor series in England spoilt their overall win-loss ratio.
|Team||Matches||W/ L||Ratio||Bat ave/ RR||Bowl ave/ ER|
|Pakistan||32||24/ 7||3.42||31.56/ 4.86||24.22/ 4.50|
|Australia||25||18/ 6||3.00||37.73/ 5.47||28.13/ 4.91|
|India||34||21/ 10||2.10||35.85/ 5.51||29.56/ 5.17|
|South Africa||15||9/ 6||1.50||31.05/ 5.23||21.24/ 4.56|
|New Zealand||17||9/ 7||1.28||38.05/ 5.45||27.07/ 4.98|
|Sri Lanka||28||14/ 12||1.16||31.42/ 5.03||27.25/ 4.83|
|England||30||11/ 16||0.68||30.33/ 5.41||35.99/ 5.52|
|West Indies||28||10/ 17||0.58||28.65/ 4.83||30.88/ 4.97|
|Zimbabwe||17||6/ 11||0.54||28.72/ 4.77||38.66/ 5.02|
|Bangladesh||20||6/ 14||0.42||24.25/ 4.39||32.09/ 5.05|
- Mohammad Hafeez won ten Man-of-the-Match awards in international matches in 2011 - six in ODIs, three in T20s and one in Tests. Only once has a player won more in a calendar year: Sachin Tendulkar won 13 in 1998 - 12 in ODIs and one in a Test. Aravinda de Silva also won ten in 1997.
- Hafeez scored 1075 ODI runs and took 32 wickets in 2011 - it's only the fourth instance of a player scoring 1000-plus runs and taking 30-plus wickets in a calendar year. Only Sanath Jayasuriya and Jacques Kallis (twice) have achieved it.
- Shane Watson struck 42 sixes in ODIs in 2011, which is the second-highest in a calendar year, next only to Shahid Afridi's 48 in 2002. However, while Afridi needed 36 innings for his 48 (1.33 per match), Watson struck 42 in only 22 (1.91 per match).
- Five of the six batsmen who scored more than 1000 ODI runs in the calendar year did so at an average of more than 45.
- Darren Bravo scored 179 runs off R Ashwin in all international matches in 2011, which is the highest for the year by a batsman against a bowler. Ashwin dismissed him twice, giving Bravo a batting average of 89.50.
- Devon Smith fell six times to the offspin of Hafeez in international matches in 2011, which was the most times a bowler dismissed a batsman. Hafeez bowled only 33 deliveries for those dismissals, and conceded 13 runs, giving him a bowling average of 2.16 against Smith. A couple of other examples of complete dominance of a new-ball bowler against an opener: Ravi Rampaul v Murali Vijay (27 runs in 75 balls, five dismissals; average 5.40) and Chris Martin v Phil Hughes (11 runs, 41 balls, four dismissals; average 2.75).
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter