Saturday, November 04, 2006

Greatest One-Day Batsmen

Yesterday in the middle of my usual six-hours-a-day -- an exaggeration, but just barely so -- staring at cricinfo records, stats guru and old scorecards, I had a brainwave. I thought if I took the mean of batting average and the strikerate divided by two, that would give me an indication of true one-day batting greatness. Division by two is important as the top averages range between 35 and 50, but top strikerates range between 70 and 100.

The strength of this index which I lamely labeled productivity -- suggestions for a better name are most welcome -- is the fact that it is quite agnostic of the batting-order. The strikerates of the batsmen at the top of the order usually suffer a bit as they are supposed to be a little circumspect -- don't worry, Sehwag and Gilchrist do not read this blog -- and build a long innings. On the other hand, the batsmen lower down the order sacrifice their averages in search of quick runs. My index neutralises this.

After the required excelling, I discovered that the top three batsmen were Hussey, Pietersen and Dhoni with Clarke at number six. As great as they are, I fully respect the possibility that they would retain those positions when they retire, but frankly we have not seen enough of them. So I had to apply a filter of minimum 100 innings.

And now the table took a more expected look with the usual suspects popping up at the top -

A few interesting observations -
1) Nine out of top twenty-five batsmen are Australian. I am not disregarding Warne, McGrath and their brilliant out-cricket, but my hunch is this batting prowess contributed the most to their recent dominance of one-day cricket.

2) Four Indians made the cut - Tendulkar, Sehwag on the strength of his strikerate as his average is the lowest of top 25, Yuvraj and Ganguly respectively. Dravid comes at 39.

3) Graeme Smith and Flintoff barely missed the cut as they just fell short of 100 innings criterion.

4) With the current Champions trophy in mind, the most interesting revelation is the fact that three batsmen of the current West Indies team are in all-time top 11 - Sarwan, Lara and Gayle. For a long time, weak bowling and shabby out-cricket concealed this strength. Now that signs of improvements are becoming visible on both of those fronts, the batting strength with the help of home conditions could make them a strong contender in next year's world cup.

Update: A filter of minimum average of 35 has been applied and that takes Sehwag, Yuvraj and Jayasuriya out of the list. Lamb, Kirsten and Cronje take their places. Even though only two Indians are now left in the list, I feel better. As rightly pointed out in the comment section, Sehwag's average is unacceptably low.


Ankit Desai said...

Very interesting...

Happy-Go-Lucky said...

Interesting. But I think you should have kept a minimum limit for both averages and strike rates too. For e.g seeing someone like Sehwag with a average of 32 at # 13 is a bit of a joke. I feel you should have kept a min avg of 38. Also I would like to know how you came up with these names to begin with.

Dipanjan said...

Yeah, I thought about that. It's a good point. 38 may be too high though, maybe 35 is more reasonable. I wasn't sure of the cut-off, so dropped the idea.

The names I got from CricInfo lists. I took the union of best career average list and best career strikerate list.

Anonymous said...

wow!! A lot of effort sure went into that! I like the reasoning behind the method.

atish said...

nice observation... btw what do u do for a living :D

Dipanjan said...

@shub: Not really, cut-paste, excel, sorting, filtering is my life unfortunately.

@atish: I manage enterprise software development.

Tabula Rasa said...

nice idea -- might be more rigorous if you standardized both variables and then took the mean. this would do away with the arbitrary division-by-two.