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Talking averages

Ravi Abhyankar

India 249-6, opposition 224-7

The following analysis has no emotions at all. It could have been done by some one, who does not understand cricket. It does not consider any factors except the averages up to and including the third one-day with the West Indies on November 12, 2002. (Source of data: Cricinfo.)

This table below calculates how many balls on average a player will play to score the runs he does. So, on average, you can expect Ganguly to take 59 balls to score his 44 runs; Tendulkar will play eight balls less to score the same.

Table 1: One-day batting statistics:

 No. Of matchesA (average)B (strike rate)C (a/bx100): balls
V Sehwag4636.71104.0236
S Ganguly20943.6374.4559
M Kaif2656.8185.4966
S Tendulkar30044.2286.5651
R Dravid18538.8269.1256
Yuvraj Singh4829.0589.5732
Total (Top 6 batsmen) 814249 runs 300 balls (50 ov)
VVS Laxman 4426.7966.3940
D Mongia 2731.9175.0942
J Srinath20711.1383.9213
AB Agarkar 10518.2390.1120
A Kumble 23510.5864.9716
Z Khan4912.3076.9216
A Nehra 239.0064.2814
57355 runs 73 balls (12 overs)

Conclusions and recommendations:

The top six batsmen will score 249 runs in the allotted 50 overs. (The 300 balls is mathematics, I did not conceive the number!). In other words, if all six play to their average, they will need 50 overs without any other batsman to follow.

Kaif On top you have the luxury of five bowlers who could contribute 55 runs in 12 overs, if things go wrong with the top 6.

Recommendation: Send Kaif at no.3. It is an obvious choice not because of the average, but also the strike rate. I am surprised; this is not attempted in the on-going series. The top 6 batsmen have played 814 matches together. That is a big enough number for averages to be reliable.

Table 2: One-day bowling statistics

 No. Of matchesStrike rate Wickets per 60 ballsEconomyRuns per 60 balls
V Sehwag4655.41.085.1351.3
S Ganguly20942.11.434.9949.9
M Kaif26
S Tendulkar30056.51.064.9749.7
R Dravid185
Yuvraj Singh4846.31.304.6846.8
Total 814
VVS Laxman 44
D Mongia 2728.62.107.1171.1
J Srinath20738.61.554.4944.9
AB Agarkar 10534.01.765.1651.6
A Kumble 23542.01.434.2542.5
Z Khan4933.11.814.8148.1
A Nehra 2346.91.284.6746.7
Total (5 bowlers) 573 7-8 224 runs

Conclusions and recommendations:

The top five bowlers together are not capable of taking 10 wickets. In fact, India does not have 5 bowlers (no matter whom you select) who can take 10 wickets, statistically speaking. The expected opposition score is 224-7 (or 224-8, the average per innings is 7.5!). (Not a cause for worry. The combination of Mcgrath, Warne, Gillespie, Lee and Symonds can take 8.8 wickets per innings and not 10. The expected opposition score with these five bowlers is 222 runs, only 2 less than India).

Ajit Agarkar Recommendation: Do not think of Agarkar for one-dayers. After playing 105 matches, he has given 52 runs per innings, while Yuvraj, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Sehwag have given less. Neither selectors nor the captain look at the statistics. This shortcoming is not compensated in any way by his batting averages.

Statistically recommended team: The team for the World Cup in the batting order:

1) Sehwag, 2) Ganguly, 3) Kaif, 4) Tendulkar, 5) Dravid, 6) Yuvraj, 7) Harbhajan, 8)Srinath, 9) Khan, 10) Kumble (and not Kumble before Khan, look at their batting figures), 11) Nehra.

Laxman or Mongia can replace one of the bowlers (Nehra?) for additional security, if the top 6 batsmen do not perform to their averages. This matters little, because Tendulkar, Sehwag, Ganguly and Yuvraj, who will bowl the quota of the ‘fifth bowler’, will give only 2-4 runs in addition!

Follow-up: The method can be used to go into details, such as the averages versus individual teams, averages at home and away. If I had more time, I would have loved to do it myself!


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