Don Brad­man’s bat­ting av­er­age 109.42, not 99.94

IIM-C’s new method­ol­ogy com­pares bats­men across eras

Business Standard - - ECONOMY - VI­NAY UMARJI

Aus­tralian crick­et­ing great Don Brad­man’s bat­ting av­er­age could be 109.42, in­stead of the famed 99.94, ac­cord­ing to a new study by the In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Cal­cutta (IIM-C).

While there have been cal­cu­la­tions by ICC and ESPN Cricinfo on who is the best bats­man across crick­et­ing eras, the study main­tains that com­par­ing bats­men like Gary Sobers, VivRichards, Sachin Ten­dulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid has proved to be a chal­lenge on ac­count of var­i­ous di­men­sions of bat­ting sta­tis­tics such as bat­ting av­er­age, bat­ting con­sis­tency and longevity of ca­reers. In ad­di­tion, there are also chal­lenges in com­par­ing the qual­ity of op­po­si­tion bowlers across eras and the qual­ity of runs scored against strong or weak op­po­nents in home or away matches.

On the con­trary, the re­search pa­per ti­tled ‘Mea­sur­ing bat­ting con­sis­tency and com­par­ing bat­ting greats in Test cricket: In­no­va­tive ap­pli­ca­tions of sta­tis­ti­cal tools’ by fac­ulty mem­bers Sa­hadeb Sarkar and Anirban Banerjee of IIM-C has de­vised its own method­ol­ogy to com­pare great bats­men in Test cricket across eras.

Based on the Weibull dis­tri­bu­tion model for a select group of bats­men, the study has come out with what it claims to be more ac­cu­rate sta­tis­tics. For in­stance, the study finds that while Brad­man is out­stand­ing for his bat­ting av­er­age and qual­ity of runs scored, Ten­dulkar is ex­cep­tional for his longevity and the op­po­si­tion di­ver­sity he faced.

“Tra­di­tional meth­ods of cal­cu­lat­ing a player’s bat­ting av­er­age re­quire as­sump­tions that may not of­ten be jus­ti­fied. Fur­ther­more, a mea­sure of bat­ting con­sis­tency of a player is gen­er­ally not pro­vided, for ex­am­ple, by ICC or ESP NC ric info. Our work suc­cess­fully ad­dresses both of th­ese is­sues us­ing the Weibull dis­tri­bu­tion model for a select group of Test bats­men. It pro­vides a re­li­able es­ti­mate of bat­ting con­sis­tency which is sta­tis­ti­cally more rig­or­ous than what is avail­able in the ex­ist­ing lit­er­a­ture. Bat­ting av­er­age val­ues pro­duced by our sta­tis­ti­cally more rig­or­ous method are dif­fer­ent from those pro­vided by the tra­di­tional method ,” says Sarkar, a pro­fes­sor of the op­er­a­tions man­age­ment group at II M-C. As a re­sult, Brad­man’s bat­ting av­er­age be­comes 109.42 in­stead of 99.94. Based on Ma­ha­lanobis dis­tance used for over­all rank­ing of a select group of bat­ting greats on the back of var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of the five cri­te­ria, the pa­per ranked Brad­man (Aus­tralia) at the top, fol­lowed by Sachin Ten­dulkar (In­dia), Len Hut­ton (Eng­land), KF Bar ring ton( Eng­land) and Jac­ques Kal­lis (South Africa).

“Our study analy­ses bats­men’s per­for­mance in terms of five cri­te­ria, namely bat­ting av­er­age, con­sis­tency or de­pend­abil­ity, longevity, qual­ity of runs scored and op­po­si­tion di­ver­sity,” Sarkar ex­plains.

The pa­per’s re­sults show this through Brad­man’s bat­ting av­er­age be­ing about five stan­dard de­vi­a­tions above the av­er­ages of 32 top play­ers while Ten­dulkar’s longevity is three stan­dard de­vi­a­tions above the av­er­age longevity of oth­ers.

In­stead of judg­ing a bats­man’s per­for­mance against in­di­vid­ual bowlers, the pa­per takes into con­sid­er­a­tion the strength of the op­po­si­tion team. Hence, runs scored by a bats­man against a stronger op­po­si­tion team, hav­ing a higher win­ning per­cent­age, are given more weight than those scored against weaker op­po­si­tion.

“We also con­sider if the runs were scored at home or away, and how well the op­po­si­tion fared in such sit­u­a­tions. This is done through our cri­te­rion called ‘in­dex for qual­ity runs scored’. For ex­am­ple, runs scored against an Aus­tralian side weigh more than those scored against a Bangladesh or a Zim­babwe team,” Sarkar adds.

The pa­per’s find­ings also re­veal that Ten­dulkar out­per­forms his con­tem­po­raries like Lara, Ponting, Dravid and Kal­lis in terms of ca­reer records against the tough­est op­po­nents, both home and away.

Also, though knighted for his con­tri­bu­tions to cricket and voted one of the five Crick­eters of the 20th cen­tury by a 100mem­ber panel of ex­perts in 2000, Richards ranks be­low av­er­age in all cat­e­gories, bar­ring home Test sec­ond in­nings.

The pa­per’s find­ings re­vealTen­dulkar out­per­forms his con­tem­po­raries in terms of ca­reer records again­st­the tough­est op­po­nents, both home and away

Don Brad­man

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