ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2011: Misbah and Ajmal take top prizes

The players of 2011, as decided by the numbers. Also starring Shane Watson, Ian Bell and Mohammad Hafeez

Saeed Ajmal: outstanding in both forms of the game in 2011 © AFP

The Statsguru Awards are based purely on numbers from international matches in 2011. However, they go beyond the usual stats - runs scored, wickets taken, batting averages and such - and are based instead on detailed data analyses of performances. Which batsman played more consistently than any other over the entire year? Which batting pair was the most prolific through the year? Which bowler was at his best in the third and fourth innings of Tests? Read on to find out. (All ODI stats include performances against Test-playing sides only.)

Main awards

Batsman of the year
(cut-off: 700 runs each in Tests and ODIs)

Test average 69.54, ODI index 37.22, Total 106.76

The year 2011 was a fantastic one for Pakistan, and for their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq. In Tests he topped 50 eight times in 16 innings, and averaged 69.54; in ODIs he held Pakistan's middle order together, scoring eight more half-centuries in 22 innings, and achieving an average of 55.06. His overall strike rate was a relatively low 67.59, but more than once he turned it on when his team required him to, scoring 93 off 91 balls in New Zealand and a 91-ball 83 against Sri Lanka in Colombo. However, because of that strike rate, his ODI index (average multiplied by runs scored per ball) was only 37.22. His overall score is the sum of his Test average and his ODI index.

Kumar Sangakkara was the other batsman who had good numbers in both Tests (average 49.23 in 11 matches) and ODIs (average 48, strike rate 70.68). His overall score was 83.16. Alastair Cook would have been top of the pile but he scored only 600 ODI runs. In Tests he averaged 84.27, and in ODIs 46.15 at a 90-plus strike rate. However, he missed the World Cup, the premier one-day event of 2011, and thus fell short of the 700-run cut-off.

Bowler of the year
(cut-off: 30 wickets in Tests, 25 in ODIs)

Saeed Ajmal
Test average 23.86, ODI index 11.33, Total 35.19

Saeed Ajmal had an outstanding year in both forms of the game. In Tests he was the leading wicket-taker with 50 in eight, at an average of 23.86. In ODIs he was equally impressive with both his wicket-taking ability and his economy rate - 26 in 17 games at 19.53, conceding 3.48 runs per over. His ODI index (the product of average and runs conceded per ball) was an outstanding 11.33. Add his Test bowling average, and his total ODI score was 35.19. Graeme Swann, the winner of this prize last year, only managed an overall score of 47.75. Dale Steyn had a superb year too, but he fell short of the cut-offs, taking 28 wickets in Tests and 24 in ODIs.

Best Test batsman
(cut-off: 700 runs)

Ian Bell - average 118.75
Bell played only 11 Test innings in 2011, but he made them count, scoring five centuries and two fifties in those innings. He started the year with 115 in the New Year Test in Sydney, and finished with 235 in his last Test innings for 2011, at The Oval. The other batsmen who scored 700-plus runs at averages of 80 or more were Younis Khan (765 runs at 85) and Alastair Cook (927 runs at 84.27).

Most consistent Test batsman
(cut-off: 700 runs)

Misbah-ul-Haq - Consistency index 2.12
In 16 Test innings in 2011, Misbah had ten scores between 41 and 102, which is an excellent indication of his consistency through the year. His lack of huge scores or failures meant his standard deviation - which is a measure of the average distance from the mean - was a comparatively low 32.82. That, combined with his average of 69.54, gave him a consistency index (average divided by standard deviation) of 2.12, which was the best among all batsmen who scored 750-plus Test runs in 2011. Bell had a much higher average (118.75) but also a higher standard deviation, of 65.02, giving him a consistency index of 1.82.

Best Test bowler
(cut-off: 30 wickets)

Stuart Broad - 33 wickets at 22.30
In 34 Tests before the start of 2011, Stuart Broad's bowling stats were pretty ordinary: 99 wickets at 35.24. In 2011, though, he was anything but pedestrian, taking 33 wickets in seven Tests at a fantastic average of 22.30, the best among bowlers who took 30 wickets in the year. In terms of averages, he was marginally ahead of the leading wicket-taker of 2011, Ajmal, whose 50 wickets came at 23.86.

Best ODI batsman
(cut-off: 700 runs)

Shane Watson - ODI batting index 62.03
Watson towered over the rest in terms of ODI batting performances in 2011. He started the year with an unbeaten 161 against England in Melbourne, and later in the year thrashed an unbeaten 185 off 96 balls against Bangladesh. In all, he scored 1024 runs in 20 innings, with two centuries and seven fifties (against the Test-playing teams only). The second-best index belonged to MS Dhoni: an average of 59.25 and strike rate of 93.55 gave him an index of 55.43.

Best ODI bowler
(cut-off: 25 wickets)

Saeed Ajmal - ODI bowling index 11.33
Ajmal's 26 wickets came at an average of 19.53 and an economy rate of 3.48, giving him an index score of 11.33 (product of average and runs conceded per ball). The others who also did well were Mohammad Hafeez (index score of 13.75) and Mitchell Johnson, who was the leading ODI wicket-taker of the year with 38, at an average of 19.31 and an economy rate of 4.41.



Shane Watson had a rollicking time with the bat in ODIs © AFP

Test batting
(Cut-off: 700 runs, unless mentioned otherwise)

Batting pair of the year: openers
(Cut-off: ten innings)

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook
With fast bowlers doing so well in 2011, this wasn't a particularly good year for opening batsmen: among the five opening pairs who batted together at least ten times, only one had a partnership average of more than 40. Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss scored 469 runs in 11 innings at an average of 42.63. They had only one century stand, but it was a big one - 186 against India at Edgbaston. The lowest average among these five pairs belonged to Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar - 32.61 in 19 innings.

Batting pair of the year: others
(Cut-off: eight innings)

Taufeeq Umar and Azhar Ali
In eight innings Umar and Azhar put together 656 runs at an average of 82 per partnership, with three century partnerships and as many half-century stands. However, another pair needs to be mentioned: Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell added 693 runs in just four innings at an average of 173.25. Their partnerships were: 71, 110, 162 and 350.

Highest percentage of team runs
(Cut-off: five Tests)

Darren Bravo
In 2011, Darren Bravo scored 949 runs out of West Indies' total of 5090, a percentage of 18.64. Four others had percentages of between 18 and 18.5, which makes this easily the most closely contested category. The others were Ian Bell (18.46% of England's runs), Kumar Sangakkara (18.29%), Rahul Dravid (18.25%) and Shakib Al Hasan (18.11%).

Most runs in wins

Ian Bell
Bell ran away with this award, scoring 722 runs in the six Tests that England won, at an average of 103.14. The top three aggregates in runs were all from England, with Cook (670) and Pietersen (572) being the other two. With a 400-run cut-off, though, the best average in wins belonged to Younis Khan: he scored 445 runs at 111.25.

Best strike rate

Kevin Pietersen
Among those who scored 700 runs, the best strike rate belonged to Pietersen, who scored his 731 runs at a rate of 64.12 per 100 balls. Bell missed out by a whisker, achieving a rate of 64.01. None of the others in the 700-run club had a strike rate of more than 52.

Highest percentage of runs in boundaries

Sachin Tendulkar
Out of the 756 runs that Sachin Tendulkar scored in Tests, 53.70% were in fours and sixes - he struck 94 fours and five sixes, which means 406 runs came in boundaries. The others with a boundary percentage of more than 50 were Misbah-ul-Haq (53.07), Pietersen (52.53) and Bell (50.32).

Test bowling
(cut-off: 30 wickets)

Best strike rate

Fidel Edwards
His 32 Test wickets in 2011 came at a strike rate of 47.3 balls per wicket, which was marginally better than Stuart Broad's 49.1. Steyn had a strike rate of 38.2 balls per wicket, but he played only five Tests in 2011 and missed the 30-wicket cut-off.

Best spinner

Saeed Ajmal
Ajmal was the hands-down winner with an average of 23.86 for his 50 Test wickets. The bowler who came closest was Abdur Rehman, whose 36 wickets came at 26.27. The other spinner who deserves a mention is Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath - he took 41 wickets at 29.07.

Best third- and fourth-innings bowler
(cut-off: 15 wickets)

Vernon Philander
It's a time when spinners usually prosper, but in 2011, Vernon Philander had the best average in the third and fourth innings in Tests. He took five-fors in each of the three innings he bowled in, and averaged 8.93 runs per wicket. Darren Sammy averaged 20, Herath 20.81, and James Anderson 22.05.

ODI batting
(cut-off: 700 runs unless mentioned otherwise)

Best strike rate

Shane Watson
Watson was the only batsman to score 700-plus ODI runs at faster than a run a ball. His strike rate for the year was 109.05. The two others who came close to a strike rate of 100 were Suresh Raina (99.58) and MS Dhoni (93.55).

Lowest strike rate

Among those who scored 700-plus ODI runs, Misbah was the only one with a strike rate of less than 70 - he scored at 67.59 per 100 balls. Next in line was Sangakkara, with a strike rate of 70.68.

Batting pair of the year: openers
(cut-off: minimum ten innings)

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga
In 19 stands, Dilshan and Tharanga averaged 61.61 per completed stand at a run rate of 5.45 runs per over, giving them a partnership index (average multiplied by runs per ball) of 55.96. The only pair who ran them close were Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter, who averaged 50 at a rate of 6.12 per over in 15 stands. Their index was 51.

Batting pair of the year: others
(cut-off: minimum eight innings)

Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting
The Australian pair took the honours in this one, averaging 77.14 at a run rate of 6.98 runs per over in the eight innings in which they batted together. That gave them a partnership index of 89.74. Dhoni and Raina were a distant second, with an index of 54.99.

Highest percentage of runs in boundaries

Shane Watson
Watson was the easy winner in this category, scoring 62.30% of his runs in boundaries, thanks to his tally of 104 fours and 37 sixes. The next-best was Mohammad Hafeez, with a percentage of 53.04.

Lowest dot-ball percentage

Suresh Raina
Of the 1541 balls that Suresh Raina faced, only 713 were not scored off, a percentage of 42.62. It was the lowest among batsmen who scored at least 700 runs. The others with low dot-ball percentages were Dhoni (45.53), Virat Kohli (46.27) and Jonathan Trott (46.62). The batsmen with the highest dot-ball percentages were Hafeez (59.92) and Tharanga (59.24).

Highest percentage of team runs

Shane Watson
Watson scored 1024 runs out of Australia's 5238, a percentage of 19.55. The next two in the list were Sangakkara (18.90% of Sri Lanka's runs) and New Zealand's Martin Guptill (18.22%).

Most runs in wins

Virat Kohli
Kohli came out on top in terms of sheer number of runs (853 in wins), but Watson's 850 runs in victories came at a better average (70.83 to 56.86) and a better scoring rate (119.54 to 88.02).

Most runs in chases

Shane Watson
Watson and Kohli swapped positions this time. Watson was on top, with 725 runs at 72.50 and a strike rate of 120.63, followed by Kohli (708 runs at 54.46, and a strike rate of 86.13).

ODI bowling
(cut-off: min 120 overs)

Best economy rate

Mohammad Hafeez
Hafeez's stifling offspin made him the most difficult bowler to get away - he conceded a mere 3.43 runs per over. Ajmal was next with an economy rate of 3.48. None of the others gave away less than 4.3 runs per over.

Worst economy rate

Shafiul Islam
For the second successive year, Shafiul Islam of Bangladesh won this not-so-complimentary prize. The small consolation for him is that in 2011 his economy rate was 5.89; in 2010 it was 6.29. England's James Anderson was, quite surprisingly, the next worst, with an economy rate of 5.44.

Best dot-ball percentage

Saeed Ajmal
Ajmal led the way with a dot-ball percentage of 64.90, followed closely by Umar Gul (63.68). Nuwan Kulasekara, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Lasith Malinga were the others with dot-ball percentages of more than 60.

Lowest boundary percentage

Shafiul Islam: did a shade better than in 2010, as far as poor economy rates go © Getty Images

Mohammad Hafeez
Hafeez conceded only 31 fours and 13 sixes in 1374 deliveries, which means only 44 balls went for boundaries, a percentage of 3.20. Next on the list was Harbhajan Singh, with a percentage of 3.96. On the other hand, the percentage for Shafiul was 12.02, for Tim Bresnan 10.70, and for Anderson 10.55.


Most dominant: Tests

England were clearly the best Test team of 2011, winning six of their eight Tests and drawing the other two. That included their 4-0 whitewash of India. Next in line were Pakistan, who won six of their ten Tests and lost only one. Australia were next, with a win-loss ratio of 1.33.

Most dominant: ODIs

Pakistan had the best win-loss ratio in ODIs in 2011, winning 20 and losing 7, for a ratio of 2.85. Australia followed closely, winning 16 and losing 6 (2.67). India, who won the World Cup in 2011, were third with a win-loss ratio of 1.90.

Most disciplined: ODIs

India conceded the least runs in wides and no-balls in ODIs in 2011: their stat per match was 6.90. Bangladesh followed closely with 7, while South Africa were next at 7.08. At the other end of the scale were Australia - 9.96 runs conceded through wides and no-balls per match - and Pakistan (9.89).

All ODI stats include only performances against Test-playing sides only.

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2011 home

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