2011 Review

Stats review

Year of the bowler and the debutant

A review in numbers of a year that produced several memorable stats

S Rajesh

January 5, 2012

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

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.


Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal sliced through the lower order, Bangladesh v Pakistan, 1st Test, Chittagong, 4th day, December 12, 2011
Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman were among the most successful bowlers of 2011 © AFP
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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.

Test batting stats in each year since 2004
Year Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
2011 39 39,073 30.76 72/ 200
2010 43 44,798 34.51 98/ 214
2009 41 44,710 35.71 97/ 217
2008 47 47,517 32.01 96/ 221
2007 31 31,121 32.93 65/ 142
2006 46 46,875 32.41 95/ 208
2005 49 48,607 31.27 100/ 201
2004 51 53,325 33.22 119/ 231

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.)

Bowling averages of fast bowlers and spinners in Tests over the last five years
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.

Performances of each team in Tests in 2011
Team Tests W/ L Bat ave Bowl ave Ave diff
England 8 6/ 0 59.16 28.45 30.71
Pakistan 10 6/ 1 41.59 26.51 15.08
South Africa 5 2/ 2 30.00 26.52 3.48
Australia 9 4/ 3 29.38 28.25 1.13
Zimbabwe 3 1/ 2 33.78 34.56 -0.78
India 12 3/ 5 30.90 35.59 -4.69
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
Bangladesh 5 0/ 4 27.37 48.56 -21.19

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.)

Most wickets taken by debutant bowlers in a year in Tests
Year Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
2011 114 27.14 51.8 8/ 0
1948 83 28.02 68.0 4/ 1
1992 83 33.56 74.1 1/ 0
2003 81 37.97 67.8 5/ 0
2001 79 33.50 67.8 3/ 0
1965 77 24.46 63.2 1/ 0
1996 73 28.16 51.2 3/ 1

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.

ODI batting stats in each year since 2007
Year ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
2011 146 60,022 28.20 78.90 63/ 337
2010 142 59,168 28.33 77.95 65/ 303
2009 150 62,197 29.06 79.91 68/ 325
2008 126 48,074 27.14 76.75 51/ 259
2007 191 76,466 28.23 77.43 75/ 428

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.)

Percentage of spin overs in ODIs each year since 2007
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.

Percentage of spin in the first 15 overs in ODIs each year since 2007
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.

Teams in ODIs in 2011
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

More numbers

  • 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

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Posted by   on (January 8, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

i think the odi player of year goes to hafiz bcz of his intelligent n elegant perfomance for his 1075 and 32 wickets in this year as why the bowler of the year would been gose to saeed ajmal because of his brilliont bowling as 50 wickets in test and in odi 34 and more iwan 2 tell that this year for england and pakistan was brilliont as among there perfomance and i request that give player of the yar to muhammad hafiz because of his 1000+ runs and 32 wi9ckets in one day and in test 647 runs and 15 wickets and in twenty he took 10 wickets and score 163 followe by watson and jayawardene

Posted by big_al_81 on (January 8, 2012, 0:13 GMT)

@ Hamzaad. I don't know where you've got your info from but you need to find a new source. England have led the way in Tests in the last 2 years with their mastery of the swinging ball across their entire attack and in conditions all around the world. They do convetnional swing and they do reverse swing. The Aussies are having a small renaissance at the moment because we showed them how it was done last year ;-) Take any one of our top 6 bowlers and they'll have a better record than any current Pakistani seamer. Should be a good series though and I have a soft spot for Pakistan so it's nice to see them doing better after the scandals and losing two superb bowlers that way.

Posted by rivernile on (January 6, 2012, 21:47 GMT)

England was simply superb in 2011. I am a bit baffled as to why they are (were) not as strong in the ODI outfit. I think the team to watch for is Pakistan. One of the best balling lineup and I really think that Misbah should be named 'Captain of the Year'. I wish the smaller teams, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would play more. BD played quite well against Pakistan in the last test, but will not get another opportunity to play test for quite some time. By then, the momentum would have been lost.

Posted by Dannymania on (January 6, 2012, 19:26 GMT)

well.good stats.Pakistan have done extremely well in 2011,no doubt about that.They had tours against weaker opponents excluding only one tour which was against srilankans,but still,Winning is winning.Pakistan have been playing well and this England Pakistan series comes at just the right time to decide once and for all.India are a good team at home and dreadful in away scenarios.Australia are again developing into a monsterous team.The Southafricans most probably have the best test playing team right now.Srilankans are still suffering from Post-Murali syndrome.I thought newzealand did quite well too,they beat australia in a test match and that too without their best bowler in Vittori.Bangladesh don't have any ability to play test cricket.Westindians are comitting a huge crime by not playing 'Available' players like Gayle,Dwayne Bravo.I dont know where Sarwan went,or where chanderpaul is right now.Anyways,india have to improve.WI too.Srilankans have a disease as i mentioned.

Posted by Hamzaad on (January 6, 2012, 14:47 GMT)

@Akash Moothedath

I doubt England is unplayable. They are very good on their home grounds but In Subcontinent or in Dubai they will face toughest of the conditions. They have a good batting and World class spinner but Pakistan;s spin attack is much better and Pakistan's main strength will be the reverse swing. Gull, Wahab and even the new comers know how to bowl the reverse swing. Englans's bowlers are short of length type bowlers who mainly depend on conditions. Only weakness Pakistan has is the strength in batting. I hope they bat like they did in 2011. Good Luck Pakistan!

Posted by harshthakor on (January 6, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

A great year for test Cricket.Almost every game had a result.Also encouraging that the bowlers performed considerably well and most of the wickets were seamer friendly.After years we have had bowlers faring so well .England performed as one of the most competitive teams of all time but it was sad to see India going down by a 4-0 margin.

The best game of the year was that between South Africa and Australia in the 2nd test match of the last 2 test series in S.Africa where the pendulum constantly changed either way.It reminded one of an enthralling Hollywood thriller where one could hardly predict the end with twists and turns continuously taking place.The pitch prepared was ideal for test Cricket.Close behind was the 3rd test of the last Indo-West Indies series and the 2nd test between the Aussies and the Kiwis in the last series.

Bar England,there is no outstanding test team with nothing between S.Africa ,Australia and India ,with Sri Lanka and Pakistan marginally below.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2012, 7:36 GMT)

Pakistan won ODI series against WI in WI too, apart from NZ and SL.

Posted by DrAtharAbbas on (January 6, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

The most unpredictable team Pakistan is everywhere on or near the top of the list, ODI's/Test, Bowlers, etc, England are nowhere in ODI's Australia nowhere in the tests. LET US THROW THE ICC RANKINGS OUT OF THE WINDOWS AND SEE SIMPLY WHO HAS BEEN WINNING CONSTANTLY.

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (January 6, 2012, 4:14 GMT)

The very first MAIN reason behind all this is the pitch of the match as one day cricket is mostly played in batting pitches of subcontinent (World Cup and All) while Test cricket is played on bowling pitches of England, Africa & Australia (prepared more helpful than usual) so nothing has changed as far as the skill is concerned. If a flat pitch bully will play on fast pitch the result will be demolition of his batting and this is happening every where.......

Posted by JG2704 on (January 5, 2012, 22:21 GMT)

Seriously. That makes good reading for England fans and it is good that we have made improvements from 2010. Obviously we have potentially much more difficult tasks ahead of us in 2012. First up (and this could be the toughest) we play the (acc to form table) 2nd best side in Pakistan in unfamiliar conditions and then SL in tougher conditions and we also play number 2/3 side SA and SA are always a tough side home and away. They have an outstanding bowling attack and WC batsmen in Amla , Kallis , De Viliers etc. Still I suppose it's good to play the toughest opposition when we're on our best test form. I just have to hope that we can disprove the snipers re inability to play SC.

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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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