January 4, 2013

A year for Clarke, and for left-arm spin

A look at the major numbers from 2012

Among the major statistical achievements of 2012 were Michael Clarke's record-breaking spree with the bat, the resurgence of left-arm spin, and South Africa's confident march to the top of the Test rankings by winning series in England and Australia. Here are the highlights of the year, in numbers:

The overall numbers
Thirty-two out of 42 Tests in 2012 produced decisive results, which, in percentage terms, was higher than in 2011 (76.19 to 69.23). And while 2011 had been an outstanding year for bowlers, batsmen made some sort of a comeback in 2012, though the overall runs per wicket for the year remained lower than the corresponding number for each year between 2006 and 2010. In 2011, the hundreds per Test figure dropped to 1.85, the first time since 2002 that it dipped below 2, but in 2012 it went back up to 2.12.

There were plenty of one-sided results too: out of the 32 outright wins in 2012, 14 were either by an innings, or by ten wickets, or by more than 200 runs; the corresponding stat in 2011 was 11 out of 27. The batting stat that improved dramatically in Tests in 2012 was the conversion rate of fifties into hundreds: there were 89 hundreds and 177 fifties (ratio 1.98) in 2012, compared to 72 centuries and 200 fifties the previous year (ratio 2.78). In fact this was the first year since 2004 that the ratio fell below 2.

In ODIs, the number that stood out more than any other was the total matches played: only 90 internationals were played in 2012, 56 fewer than the previous year (a drop of 38%). The last time fewer than 100 ODIs were played in a year was way back in 1995, when 60 matches were played. The next year 127 matches were played, which wasn't surprising given that it was a World Cup year, and since then the annual tally has always remained above 100. (Click here for the full year-wise list since 1990.) India hosted only one ODI, against Pakistan on December 30. Since they began hosting ODIs, in 1981, only once before have they hosted one ODI in an entire year - in 2004.

On the other hand, there were 82 Twenty20 internationals played in 2012, almost four times the 2011 stat. Given that the World Twenty20 was held this year, there were obviously going to be more Twenty20 internationals than last year, but the previous highest in any year was 68, in 2010.

Year-wise Test stats since 2005
Year Tests Results/ draws Result % Average Run rate 100s/ 50s
2012 42 32/ 10 76.19 34.00 3.12 89/ 177
2011 39 27/ 12 69.23 32.47 3.14 72/ 200
2010 43 32/ 11 74.42 36.48 3.34 98/ 214
2009 41 26/ 15 63.41 37.84 3.37 97/ 217
2008 47 36/ 11 76.60 34.12 3.23 96/ 221
2007 31 22/ 9 70.97 35.28 3.35 65/ 142
2006 46 34/ 12 73.91 34.60 3.34 95/ 208
2005 49 37/ 12 75.51 33.53 3.38 100/ 201
Year-wise ODI stats since 2005
Year Matches Average Run-rate 100s/ 50s
2012 90 31.09 5.05 43/ 205
2011 146 29.97 5.04 63/ 337
2010 142 30.11 4.98 65/ 303
2009 150 30.92 5.12 68/ 325
2008 126 29.00 4.93 51/ 259
2007 191 30.39 5.04 75/ 428
2006 160 28.97 4.82 60/ 331
2005 107 31.38 5.10 50/ 239

The top teams
South Africa took over as the top-ranked Test team, a position they thoroughly deserved, given that they won overseas series in Australia and England, and were the only side to remain unbeaten through the year in Tests. The last time they didn't lose a single Test in a year was in 1999, when they won six and drew four. Australia were very good too, but they lost the series that really mattered, at home against South Africa. That Perth defeat was their only loss, which means they still had an excellent win-loss ratio of 7. England, the previous No.1 side, had a tough year, though they salvaged something significant from 2012 at the end with a series win in India. They finished with a 5-7 win-loss record, with comprehensive series defeats against Pakistan and South Africa. West Indies, meanwhile, won four Tests in 2012, as many as they had won in the four previous years from 2008 to 2011. The last time they won more than four Tests in a year was in 1988. (Click here for West Indies' year-wise Test results since 1985.)

In ODIs, though, England were unquestionably the form team with 12 wins and two defeats - a win-loss ratio of 6 when no other team managed more than 2. England had three series in which they blanked the opposition - Pakistan, West Indies and Australia - without losing a single game. Their only losses were to South Africa in a 2-2 drawn series at home. It's easily England's best ODI win-loss ratio in a year, and an almost nine-fild improvement over their previous year's ratio of 0.68 (11 wins, 16 defeats). New Zealand's ratio of 0.40, on the other hand, was their worst since 1994 (0.33, 6 wins, 18 defeats).

Clarke and other batting stars
In terms of individual performers, the stand-out player of 2012 was easily Michael Clarke, whose Test numbers were easily among the greatest that any player has achieved in a calendar year. His 1595 Test runs is the fourth-highest in a calendar year, and among batsmen with at least 1000 Test runs in a year, only Garry Sobers and Don Bradman - two of the greatest names in the game - have higher averages. Among captains, only Graeme Smith scored more in a calendar year (he scored 1656 in 2008), while among captains who scored 1000, only the Don had a higher average. And then, of course, there were the four double-centuries he scored, a feat which even the Don didn't manage. His 1407 Test runs in Australia is easily a record for a year in home Tests - the next-best is Mohammad Yousuf's 1126 runs in 2006.

Obviously, he racked up some huge partnerships along the way as well: with Michael Hussey he put together three 200-plus stands, including an unbeaten one of 334 against India in Sydney. Together, the pair racked up 1249 runs in 14 innings at an average of 104.08. Among non-opening pairs, only Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan have added more partnership runs in a calendar year.

Highest batting averages by a captain in a year (Qual: 1000 runs)
Batsman Year Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Don Bradman 1948 8 1025 113.88 5/ 2
Michael Clarke 2012 11 1595 106.33 5/ 3
Ricky Ponting 2006 10 1333 88.86 7/ 4
Graham Gooch 1990 9 1264 79.00 4/ 5
Brian Lara 2003 10 1344 74.66 5/ 5
Graeme Smith 2008 15 1656 72.00 6/ 6

In ODIs, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan were the top run-getters, but a few others displayed even greater consistency. Virat Kohli scored 1026 runs at 68.40 and a strike rate of almost 94; only five times have more ODI centuries been scored in a calendar year.

For South Africa there were the ever-reliable Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, who had smashing ODI stats again. In nine innings, Amla went past 40 eight times, and beyond 50 six times. He averaged 84.75 at a strike rate of more than 90. De Villiers scored two unbeaten hundreds and a 96, and, quite incredibly, had an average and strike rate of more than 100.

Batsmen who scored 500-plus ODI runs at 50-plus averages in 2012
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
AB de Villiers 13 645 107.50 108.58 2/ 3
Hashim Amla 10 678 84.75 90.76 2/ 4
Virat Kohli 17 1026 68.40 93.78 5/ 3
MS Dhoni 16 524 65.50 87.62 1/ 3
Ian Bell 11 549 54.90 82.68 1/ 4

The year of left-arm spin
For the third year in a row, a spinner topped the charts for most Test wickets in 2012, with Rangana Herath taking 60. (Saeed Ajmal had been the highest wicket-taker in 2011, and Graeme Swann in 2010.) The difference this time, though, was in the type of spinner who took centrestage: though Swann finished second-highest in the wickets chart with 59, this was clearly the year of left-arm spin. Apart from Herath, there were three other left-arm spinners who took 25 or more wickets - Pragyan Ojha, Monty Panesar and Abdur Rehman - and all of them did so at averages of less than 27. Not surprisingly, the overall Test stats for left-arm spin was much better in 2012 than it's been for several years.

The haul of 192 wickets is the third-highest for left-arm spinners in a calendar year - they had 210 in 2004 and 197 in 2008. But even more impressive than the wickets was their average in 2012: left-arm spinners averaged 29.14, with 17 five-fors and three ten-fors. That's as many ten-fors in one year as they had in the previous 7 (between 2005 and 2011), and more five-fors than the last two years put together. And the last time they took 100-plus wickets at a better average was in 1977, during the days of Bishan Singh Bedi and Derek Underwood.

Also, left-arm spinners took 15.18% of the total wickets that bowlers took in Tests in 2012. The last time they managed over 15% was in 1987, and before that in 1976; in the last 40 years this has only happened thrice.

Year of the left-arm spinner
Year LAS wkts Average (1) Overall wkts Average (2) % wkts 1/ 2
2012 192 29.14 1265 34.02 15.18 1.17
2011 167 29.42 1233 32.31 13.54 1.10
2010 159 43.07 1252 36.60 12.70 0.85
2009 172 37.81 1214 37.70 14.17 1.00
2008 197 37.50 1445 33.68 13.63 0.90
2007 102 37.50 920 34.83 11.09 0.93
2006 112 43.75 1400 34.53 8.00 0.79
2005 106 44.94 1508 33.40 7.03 0.74
2004 210 36.07 1555 35.31 13.50 0.98
2003 167 36.20 1305 36.12 12.80 1.00
Click here to view the graph for left-arm spinners' Test stats from 2005 to 2012.

The stats for left-arm spin also look very good in 2012 when compared to other types of bowlers: right-arm spinners averaged 36.17 with 12 five-fors; right-arm fast bowlers averaged 34.27, and left-arm fast bowlers 34.42. The overall average for all bowlers was 34.02.

How each type of bowling performed in Tests in 2012
Bowling type Wickets Average Strike rate Econ rate 5WI/ 10WM
Right-arm pace 653 34.27 66.1 3.10 24/ 3
Left-arm pace 97 34.42 61.9 3.33 4/ 0
Right-arm spin 323 36.17 71.5 3.03 12/ 4
Left-arm spin 192 29.14 67.1 2.60 17/ 3

More stats

  • Virat Kohli won eight Man-of-the-Match awards in international matches in 2012, the most by any player this year. Of his eight awards, five were in ODIs, two in Twenty20 internationals and one in Tests.

  • Saeed Ajmal dismissed Kevin Pietersen six times in 98 deliveries in all international cricket in 2012, conceding 78 runs - it's the most times a bowler dismissed a batsman in the year. Three of those dismissals were in Tests, two in ODIs and one in a Twenty20 international.

  • Alastair Cook scored 221 runs off R Ashwin in international matches in 2012, the most runs scored by a batsman against a bowler. He was dismissed four times by Ashwin, which gave him an average of 55.25. Kumar Sangakkara came in next, scoring 199 off Ajmal (two dismissals), while Hashim Amla scored 187 off James Anderson without being dismissed even once. Michael Clarke scored more than 150 off two bowlers: 166 off Ashwin (no dismissals) and 154 off 164 balls from Morne Morkel (one dismissal). Amla also scored 153 off Swann (one dismissal).

  • Clarke averaged at least 80 against each of the four types of bowling he faced in Tests in 2012: he averaged 84 against left-arm spin (one dismissal), 95.80 against right-arm spin (five dismissals), 106.37 against right-arm pace/ medium-pace (eight dismissals) and 171 against left-arm pace/ medium-pace (one dismissal).

Click here for Anantha Narayanan's stats review of 2012.

Graphics created by Sajan Nair, head of scoring, ESPNcricinfo

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on January 8, 2013, 1:31 GMT

    @ Happy_AusBang & Great_Nate. In 2012 tests, Amla scored 4 tons - 311* and 121 vs Eng, & 104 and 196 vs Aus - and 2 50s. Total 1130 runs, batting ave - 70.62. He certainly did not out perform Clarke's 5 tons, 1674 runs, ave 98.47, but these are still great test stats, Great-Nate!

    In ODIs Amla scored 2 tons 150, 112, (& 2 "almost" tons, 97*, 92,) scoring 678 at ave 84.75. Clarke scored 1 ton and 656 runs at ave 46.85.

    Clarke is the no.1 ranked test player with 887 rating points, & Amla no.3 with 878 points. Amla is ODI no.1 with 901 points, and Clake no.7 with 718 points. 9 points separate them at the test level, but Amla is well ahead by 183 points in ODIs. ICC ratings show Amla is currently the leading batsman across formats, with Clarke in 2nd place.

    As usual, RandyOz is dead wrong, re: Clarke and Eng's bowlers, who across formats rank better than Aus bowlers! Not unexpectedly, Saffers dominate the test & ODI rankings - not even including the Saffers who play for England :)

  • James on January 7, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    @deckchairand6pack ODI have the best parts of test cricket and T20, It has tactics and big hitting. The problem with it is they keep trying to change the rules to make it suit T20 fans, which ruins it for everyone (one ball from each end).

    I personally don't understand T20, a game where a dot ball is worth as much as a wicket and where the outcome of most games can be worked out 5 to 10 overs into the 2nd innings

  • Muzammil on January 5, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    @Great_Nate, wait, you kidding right? One other century? Forgot that he scored two hundreds in Austrailia, two in England?

  • Great on January 5, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    Take out Amla's 311 not out against England and his stats for the year weren't really great in test cricket. He only scored 4 half centuries and 1 hundred. He is a great batsman, but I can't say he is the best in the world at the moment. That result doesn't really compare to clarke with two half centuries, one century, three doubles and a triple.

  • Khair ul on January 5, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    Hashim Amla is undeniably the best at the moment. He has scored runs all over, not just in South Africa. Let us see how Clarke fares in India and England.

  • Mark on January 4, 2013, 22:45 GMT

    @Afreen Akthar - Clarke didn't play any tests in the sub-continent last year, but did play ODI's vs Afghanistan and Pakistan in UAE.

    Not sure about South Africa and can't be bothered looking it up.

  • Dummy4 on January 4, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    Has Clarke been in subcontinent this year or has south Africa, I mean 2012? But they rightly are the best player and team currently!

  • Randolph on January 4, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Well clearly Clarke is the best batsman on the planet right now, not that we needed reminding. The English would also do well to be reminded on the thumping that their bowlers have taken this year.

  • Tim on January 4, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    I'm sure it has been said before, but I just don't see the point of ODI's. You have a powerplay in the beginning and end, and then a load of dross in between when the batsment sedately take singles and the crowd falls asleep. T20 has all the best bits of ODI with the boring parts removed. It has a serious identity crisis. IMHO of course. Hats off to Michael Clarke, talk about a run machine. This Aussie team is ordinary and he has pulled them up by their bootlaces on several occasions. Inspired captaincy when we declared against WI with a first innings deficit, tremendous player and leader. Last but not least, all hail the Proteas, it's been a long time coming. I've been waiting since readmission to know we're number one but we've never quite been good enough. The 20 year odd wait makes it all the sweeter and is richly deserved!

  • Dummy4 on January 4, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    @warrenwhite: The term used is "decisive result" and not decisive victory. Read carefully before pointing mistakes. Yours sincerely, a Copy Editor

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