Thursday, January 16, 2014

kallis? kallis? who the bleep is kallis?

As predicted, the accuracy and relevance of my statistical data-mining in the last cricket-related post have been rapidly overtaken by events, the specific event in question being the slightly unexpected retirement (or, if you insist, "retiral") of Jacques Kallis from Test cricket following the Boxing Day Test against India in Durban, a match in which he fittingly scored a century.

A lot of the tributes written after his retirement describe Kallis as being one of the most under-rated of great cricketers, and I think this is probably true, for a number of reasons. Firstly it's often forgotten that he was a great all-rounder, not just a batsman - he did bowl a lot less in the later stages of his career, but he still ended up fifth on the all-time wicket-taking list for South Africa with 292. Secondly, there was a perception that despite his awesome power he was a bit one-paced (and, by implication, selfish) as a batsman, too concerned with protecting his wicket and his average to be able to let himself go when the match situation demanded it. There's probably some truth in this, but it is also true that Kallis owns the fastest Test 50 ever scored, and is second on the all-time six-hitting list with 97, three behind Adam Gilchrist.

Anyway, the batting average progression table now looks like this:

Jacques Kallis201355.37
Garfield Sobers197457.78
Ken Barrington196858.67
Don Bradman194899.94

Break it down by country, keep the 3000-run minimum restriction, add one that says averages of over 40 only, and you get this:


Andrew Strauss201240.91
Michael Vaughan200841.44
Marcus Trescothick200643.79
Graham Thorpe200544.86
Geoff Boycott198247.72
Ted Dexter196847.89
Ken Barrington196858.67
Herbert Sutcliffe193560.73


Mike Hussey201351.52
Ricky Ponting201251.85
Greg Chappell198453.86
Don Bradman194899.94

South Africa

Jacques Kallis201355.37


Sachin Tendulkar201353.78


Mohammad Yousuf201052.29
Javed Miandad199352.57

Sri Lanka

Sanath Jayasuriya200740.07
Hashan Tillakaratne200442.87
Aravinda de Silva200242.97

New Zealand

Stephen Fleming200840.06
Mark Richardson200444.77
Martin Crowe199545.36

West Indies

Ramnaresh Sarwan201140.01
Brian Lara200651.88
Gary Sobers197457.78
Everton Weekes195858.61


Andy Flower200251.54

Bangladesh don't get a box as they have no-one meeting the entry criteria. Again, recall that for each entry in the list, no-one who has come later has finished with a higher average. There's an interesting contrast between the English and Australian lists, one that reflects the pitiful nature of England's performances (i.e. a desperate lack of runs) in the recently-concluded Ashes series. Note that no-one since Ken Barrington, 46 years ago, has finished a Test career for England with a career average of over 50, and that no-one since Geoff Boycott 32 years ago has finished with an average of over 45. Contrast that with the Australian list - the recent retirement of a couple of big cheeses has obliterated some detail from the list (note that Kallis and Tendulkar's retirements collapse their respective lists to a single entry), but a bit of research reveals that since 1982 there have been six batsmen finishing with a career average of over 50 (Chappell, Ponting, Hussey, Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden and Allan Border) and a further five finishing with an average of over 45 (Gilchrist, Dean Jones, Damien Martyn, Justin Langer and Simon Katich).

Again, this could all change - Kevin Pietersen, Alistair Cook, Jonathan Trott (doubts about his England future notwithstanding) and Ian Bell all currently average between 46 and 48, though their numbers have all headed south a bit during the recent Ashes debacle.

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