Tillakaratne Dilshan's stats analysis October 10, 2013

More valuable than the numbers suggest

Shiva Jayaraman
Tillakaratne's Test career stats do not do complete justice to his value as a batsman for Sri Lanka

Tillakaratne Dilshan's worth as a Test batsman is not apparent in his overall Test record. He scored 5492 runs from 145 innings at an average of 40.98, not figures that rank among the great batsmen of the modern era. But few have adapted their game to the requirements of their team as he has: of the 11 batsmen in Tests to have scored 2000 or more runs at No. 6, he is the only one to have also scored 2000-plus runs opening the batting. This, despite a batting technique that wasn't best suited for opening in Tests.

Dilshan is the sixth-highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka in Tests. He hit 16 hundreds in his career, which is the joint fourth-highest among Sri Lanka batsmen. He is the only player in Test history to score 300-plus runs and take four wickets in a single Test match. His best year in Test cricket in terms of numbers was 2009 - that year, he became only the third Sri Lanka batsman after Aravinda de Silva and Mahela Jayawardene to score five or more hundreds in a calendar year.

Dilshan averaged 42.54 as an opener in Tests, second-highest among Sri Lanka openers with a minimum of 1500 runs. Arguably, the most striking feature of Dilshan's batting in Tests was the pace at which he scored runs. On quite a few occasions, and not unlike Virender Sehwag - whom Dilshan was often compared with since he started opening for Sri Lanka - he got his team off to brisk starts. Dilshan is even ahead of his compatriot Sanath Jayasuriya - known for his free-scoring ways - in terms of strike rate while opening in Tests, though he opened in fewer innings.

Top 5 Test openers in terms of strike rate (min 2000 runs)
Batsman Mat Inns Runs HS Ave SR 100 50
Virender Sehwag 99 170 8207 319 50.04 83.1 22 30
Tillakaratne Dilshan 29 53 2170 193 42.54 71.4 8 10
Sanath Jayasuriya 90 152 5932 340 41.48 65.8 13 25
K Srikkanth 43 72 2062 123 29.88 62.9 2 12
Tamim Iqbal 29 54 2010 151 37.22 60.6 4 12

Dilshan's frenetic pace of scoring runs was more suited to limited-overs cricket, though, and it gave bowlers enough chances to dismiss him early in his innings. Among Sri Lanka openers with at least 50 Test innings, Dilshan was the most likely to be dismissed within a range of 0-19 runs.

Sri Lanka openers' dismissals in the score range of 0-19
Batsman Inns NO Out between 0 - 19 runs %age Inns out between 0 - 19 runs
Dilshan Tillakaratne 53 2 26 51%
Marvan Atapattu 136 13 62 50%
Roshan Mahanama 72 1 35 49%
Sanath Jayasuriya 152 9 67 47%
Tharanga Paranavitana 59 5 25 46%

Apart from Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lankan batsmen have generally struggled outside the subcontinent, and that held true for Dilshan as well. Though he played a few memorable innings overseas - 147 against Australia in the first innings in Hobart and a quickfire 78 against South Africa in Cape Town - his overall record was quite ordinary. Among Sri Lanka batsmen who have scored a minimum of 1000 runs outside Asia, (excluding Zimbabwe) Dilshan ranks sixth in terms of batting average.

Sri Lanka batsmen with minimum 1000 runs outside Asia (excl Zimbabwe)
Batsman Mat Inns Runs HS Ave 100 50
Kumar Sangakkara 33 64 2723 211 45.38 7 15
Aravinda de Silva 25 46 1818 267 39.52 4 7
Arjuna Ranatunga 19 35 1215 90 37.96 0 10
Thilan Samaraweera 19 36 1149 125 35.90 3 6
Marvan Atapattu 21 42 1356 185 35.68 4 6
Tillakaratne Dilshan 22 42 1300 193 32.50 2 7

Dilshan averaged 34.52 from 47 innings playing outside Asia, a sharp decrease of almost ten runs when compared to his average of 44.14 when playing in the subcontinent. That he could not express himself freely in unfamiliar conditions is evident from the drop in his strike rate: batting on these pitches, Dilshan scored almost 15 runs per 100 balls fewer than what he scored in the subcontinent.

Tillakaratne Dilshan, Test batting stats
  Mat Inns Runs HS Ave SR 100 50
Overall 87 145 5492 193 40.98 65.54 16 23
Subcontinent 60 98 3973 168 44.14 70.33 13 16
Outside subcontinent 27 47 1519 193 34.52 55.64 3 7

The one country outside the subcontinent where Dilshan earned his bragging rights was England. He averaged 49.77 from nine innings in England - the highest among Sri Lanka batsmen with a minimum of 400 runs in the UK. This included an innings of 193 at Lord's as captain, his highest Test score. He is one of the only six captains from the subcontinent to hit a century at Lord's and only the second Sri Lankan captain to do so after Mahela Jayawardene.

Sri Lanka batsmen with minimum 400 Test runs in England
Batsman Mat Inns Runs HS Ave 100 50
Tillakaratne Dilshan 5 9 448 193 49.77 1 3
Sanath Jayasuriya 6 11 421 213 42.10 1 1
Aravinda de Silva 7 12 455 152 37.91 1 1
Mahela Jayawardene 10 19 614 119 34.11 2 2
Kumar Sangakkara 9 18 520 119 30.58 1 2

Like most batsmen from the subcontinent, Dilshan was more comfortable facing up to spinners than to fast bowlers. Against spinners he averaged 54.95 as opposed to 39.22 against fast bowlers in Tests since 2002. His attacking style of play against spinners gave them enough chances too, largely the reason why most of the leading wicket-takers against Dilshan in Tests are all spinners; but he managed to take these bowlers for runs too. Only Shane Warne and to some extent Danish Kaneria had some success bowling against Dilshan.

Leading spinners (wicket takers) against Tillakaratne Dilshan, since 2002
Bowler Inns Runs Dismissals Ave SR
Shane Warne 9 89 5 17.80 72.3
Harbhajan Singh 13 221 4 55.25 71.7
Saeed Ajmal 12 180 4 45.00 72.5
Danish Kaneria 4 78 3 26.00 59.5
Enamul Haque Jr 6 160 3 53.33 65.0
Anil Kumble 8 153 3 51.00 69.8

His stint as Sri Lanka captain mirrors his Test career - significant contributions hidden under otherwise seemingly ordinary numbers. Dilshan captained Sri Lanka in 11 Tests and the only match he won as captain was probably their most important win overseas, against South Africa at Durban, one of only four to have come outside Asia and Zimbabwe.

Shiva Jayaraman is sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    @rk007, this comes from Statsguru - His average is 32.06 outside subcontinet that's why he does not feature in the list though he has 1988 runs. Must admit, he stats are extremely poor outside the comfort of the subcontinent. Nevertheless is a great player.

    1998-2013 33 63 1 1988 141 32.06 4219

  • PV on October 12, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    Mahela hasn't scored 1000 runs outside sri lanka? is that true?

  • Prashan on October 11, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    Dilshan'a best test innings outside Asia was his 193 at Lords in 2011. No doubt he was brilliant in ODIs and T20s. He could have done better in tests but as the numbers show, he got out for less than 19 too many times.

  • sam on October 11, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Personally for me he underachieved a little bit as a batsman. He was a better bat than Samaraweera only didn't have Samaraweera's patience and sometimes grit. But then when the biggest batting talent SL ever had averages 42 in test cricket (and compare it to Sangakkara who averages 56-57 and is at best the third best batting talent behind Aravinda and Jayawardene) he is not alone in underachieving.

  • Lalindra on October 10, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    He might not be as classy as Sanga or have a brilliant cricket brain like Mahela but the enthusiasm he shows one's he get's on the field is tremendous and he's a real competitor.It's unfortunate that he won't be able to take part in the World Test Championship if Sri Lanka get's selected, And he will be leaving behind a big void in the team specially in that opening slot and that cover point area. It's not like when Arjuna or Vaas was retiring, we all knew time was up for those players but for some one like Dilshan you get the feeling he had some more to offer to the Cricketing fraternity as a player...!

  • No featured comments at the moment.