A year for Clarke, and for left-arm spin
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||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|
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.
|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.
|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||LAS wkts||Average (1)||Overall wkts||Average (2)||% wkts||1/ 2|
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.
|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|
- 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