A statistical tribute to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Test cricket

Now that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has retired from Test cricket, we look back at his career statistics and the numerous Indian wicketkeeping records he holds. Here we are taking statistics for fielding as a whole for all countries, so that we can see where he stands both in Indian and world cricket. His ODI figures are another matter, but that deserves a separate post when he retires from that format. First, the overall figures:


You can see that he is in 5th place overall. He is followed by Dravid (who was never a designated keeper in Tests) and Kirmani (who just fell short of 200 dismissals with 198). While on this topic, I wonder if one should follow the practice of the late Bill Frindall and some other statisticians who ignore the ICC v Aus Test of 2005-06 in their records. Fortunately Statsguru give you the means to ignore it if you want.

Next we look at fielding records in a match:


Here we see that the match record is 11 by Russell and de Villiers, followed by 10 by Bob Taylor and Gilchrist. Dhoni is one of many keepers to dismiss 9 in a match, and ironically he achieved this in his last Test at Melbourne. The previous record was 8 by himself (thrice) and Mongia (twice). Dhoni naturally shares the Indian record of 8 catches. For non-keepers, the record is 7 catches by several including Yajurvindra Singh.

Looking at innings figures:


Here we see that the record is 7 dismissals by four other keepers, while Dhoni and Kirmani are the only Indian keepers with 6 dismissals. Dhoni has 6 catches to Kirmani’s 5. (Several non-keepers including Yajurvindra Singh, K. Srikkanth and M. Azharuddin have taken 5 catches). This brings us to the topic of stumpings. Here is the table for stumpings:

Dhoni-career st

Here Dhoni and Kirmani are jointly third with 38, after Oldfield and Evans. It is interesting to see that Boucher’s stumpings amounted to only 23 out of 555. Gilchrist had a somewhat better ratio at 37 out of 416.

Now for stumpings in a match:


Neither Dhoni nor Kirmani feature here, but the world record is held by Kiran More with 6 (Hirwani’s match) followed by the little-known P. K. Sen with 5. He might be the only Indian Test player to be born in a place which is now in Bangladesh (Comilla). Also note V. Rajindernath who took 4 stumpings and no catches in his only Test. He did not get to bat either.

And finally, stumpings in an innings:


More again has the record with 5 in the same match dominated by Hirwani. Oldfield and Sen follow with 4, while Dhoni did not manage even 3.

Then we look at the ratio of dismissals per innings, which might have some logic such as batting averages and bowling averages. Here we consider only those who have fielded for 20 or more innings. Both keepers and non-keepers are considered:

Dis per innings

Here the list is headed by the lesser known C.O. Browne (WI) and S. J. Rhodes (Eng). Dhoni has the highest ratio for India with 1.771. No one else from India has exceeded 1.500.

Much has been said about Dhoni’s captaincy by other writers, so I am not getting into that. I will conclude with a summary of his batting career:

Dhoni-batting runs

With 4876 runs he stands 11th among Indian batsmen, far ahead of other wicketkeepers.

Comparing batting averages of Indians (minimum 20 innings batted) we get:

Dhoni-batting avg

Oddly, Kambli leads this list followed by his old classmate Tendulkar. Dhoni is quite far down, though again far ahead of other keepers. Also R. Ashwin has a better batting average than some better-known specialist batsmen.

We conclude with a study of his batting against different opponents, in different countries and in different continents besides home and away:

Dhoni-batting summary

Bangladesh and Pakistan have been his favourite opponents, while West Indies, England and South Africa have not seen his best. His lack of success against West Indies has been particularly puzzling as it generally was a weak team during his playing days.

Looking at venues, Bangladesh and Pakistan are again his favourites while he has done better in New Zealand than in India. Australia and West Indies (again?) have not been too favourable for him.

As you would expect, he has done best in Asia and worst in the Americas (i.e. West Indies) and Oceania.

To some up, he holds most of the wicketkeeping records for India. While not among India’s top batsmen, he was certainly a better batsman than any other Indian wicketkeeper.

MH 370: The Saga Continues

The disappearance of MH 370 on March 7/8 continues to be one of the biggest unsolved mysteries the aviation world (rather, the world) has seen. If you Google for “aviation mysteries” you will find a large number of articles from the mass media. The long-running stories include the disappearances of Amelia Earhart, the British “Star Dust” and the Bermuda Triangle’s so-called mysteries of Flight 19, “Star Ariel” and “Star Tiger”.

All of these have longish articles in Wikipedia if you need to refresh your memories. These articles have a number of links to pursue if you are really interested. The standard book debunking the Bermuda Triangle myth is the one by Lawrence Kusche: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Kusche

Some unsolved mysteries (notably the ones involving the Bermuda Triangle) remain unsolved but there are reasonable explanations for these disappearances. Some mysteries eventually get solved; there several instances such as the Star Dust where the aircraft’s wreckage was located after many years. Lesser known cases include some from India; an IAF AN-12 with 98 aboard disappeared between Chandigarh and Leh in 1968 and was untraced until 2003. Another IAF plane, a Dakota carrying troops to Srinagar in 1947, crashed in the Pir Panjal range and was not located until 1980.

It is not generally known that dozens (if not hundreds) of US transport planes disappeared over the Himalayas while flying between Assam and China during World War 2. At that time the area now known as Arunachal Pradesh was quite inaccessible and not much was done to locate crashes unless there were survivors. It is only in recent years that a determined and well-funded American researcher  has located many of these crash sites. See http://www.miarecoveries.org/

Back to MH 370. There are a number of books listed on Amazon (mainly on Kindle). Some are pure fantasy but some reasonably sensible ones worth reading are: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JTELTJE/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MB938XE/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

I have put together what one may call a “Dummies Guide to MH 370” which can be seen here-designed to be a PPT presentation for 20 minutes. The main points as they were known in end-November are summarized here:The Mystery of MH 370’s Disappearance

If you want to follow some up-to-date sensible discussions on the ongoing searches and related technical matters, the best resource appears to be the blog http://jeffwise.net/

As it often happens, the comments are usually more enlightening than the blogger’s original post. I would particularly recommend his post of Dec 1 and the links starting with “The Spoof: Part 1” which make up an intelligent guess as to the modus operandi of the conspirators. Mr Wise later says that his explanation should not be taken too seriously but it does fit all the facts. It may be worth looking into his blog every few days if you are really interested in MH 370.

Documentaries on Indian aviation accidents

If you are reading this, you would be aware of the long-running series “Air Crash Investigation” (also known as “Mayday”). Many episodes have made their way to Youtube. Indian aviation accidents have been given due coverage there. The 1996 mid-air collision is covered here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8576jHv_Zs Its content does seem to accurately reflect the causes of the crash.  It is often said that the poor knowledge of English of the Kazakh crew was the main reason for the crash, though this episode points out that the general unprofessional attitude of the crew was of more significance.

Then there is the Air-India sabotage of 1985. This had wide ramifications outside India as the sabotage was committed by people of Indian origin living in Canada-and most of the victims were also of the same category. ACI has covered it here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18uns1_mayday-s05e07-air-india-explosive-evidence-explosive-evidence_shortfilms This is again a typical ACI documentary which describes how the investigation proceeded but does not say much about the conspiracy. For that we have to go to a documentary by the well known Canadian director Stella Gunnarson.

This was released in 2008 and does contain a good deal of information about the conspiracy and the people behind it. It also features interviews with relatives of the victims. Sadly, many of the perpetrators were not punished though at least one died under mysterious circumstances.The film’s website is worth a look before you watch it: http://airindia182.com/ This documentary has been uploaded by several places on Youtube, such as this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlzY5gQExbY It does tell you everything you need to know about the crash and events surrounding it. There are several books about this disaster which I will cover later. Other Indian disasters have not rated a book on their own, except one on another long-forgotten sabotage incident in 1955 which led to several fatalities.

There is also a short National Geographic documentary on air traffic control in India: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vyb0Sr_dNFA Essentially this is a PR job to show how efficient Indian ATCs are, but it is worth watching-particularly as inadequacies in ATC regulations and facilities at Delhi were among the main contributory factors in the 1996 mid-air collision. If you study that accident in detail, you will wonder how there were not many more disasters in that area. Probably the Indian controllers were good at their job, but cockpit crews must have been pretty careful around Delhi. Have pity on the crew of the Saudia plane, as they did not do anything wrong.

Extension: List of all Indian aviation accidents involving the loss of 20 or more lives

Continuing from my last post, here is a comprehensive list of all accidents in India and to India-based aircraft which resulted in the loss of 20 or more lives. Both civil and military aircraft are covered. The list is here:  List of Indian aviation disasters with loss of 20 or more lives  I intend to move further down the scale so that all such accidents resulting in the loss of 5 or more lives (plus a few more with other features of interest) are covered. These will form part of a more comprehensive survey in a book which will come out some time in the future.

List of all Indian aviation accidents involving the loss of 30 or more lives

It took a while, but this is it: the final compilation of all India-related aviation disasters resulting in the loss of 30 or more lives. This information is not available anywhere else on the net or in any publication. Click on this : Aviation India List

Looking into the history of aviation disasters in India-2

Getting a full record of accidents of the IAF and its earlier avatar RIAF is not possible from official documents. The results of enquiries rarely make it to the press. However, newspaper reports have been compiled into this resource: http://www.warbirdsofindia.com/crashes.html . It stops at end-2008, but aviation-safety.net more or less lists everything after that. However, the Warbirds data has been updated up to 2013 and can now be seen at  http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Databases/Accidents.html . Apart from the IAF, there are a sizable number of aircraft operated by the Navy and smaller numbers by the Army, Coast Guard and the top-secret Aviation Research Centre. (But then, many top-secret organizations have articles about them in Wikipedia).

Regarding civilian crashes (Passenger and freight airline flights, general aviation, some government and paramilitary aircraft) we have the DGCA which investigates them and there is some record of the enquiries. They also cover accidents to foreign aircraft occurring in India from the 1960s onwards. Conversely, accidents to Indian aircraft outside India are generally investigated by the country where the crash occurred, though Indian authorities are involved.

To see accident summaries, click on http://www.dgca.in , then on Aircraft and then on Summaries. These are mainly in pdf form from 1960 to 2009. There must have been summaries from 1950 to 1959 as well. but they are not on the net.

More detailed accident reports from 2008 can be seen by clicking Reports rather than Summaries.

Coming back to the summaries, they give the very bare details and the inquiry reports may not have been released to the public. Perhaps RTI applications would help if one was really interested. Anyway, here are a few accidents which would be of interest:

19 Sep 1965, Expeditor VT-COO which was the plane carrying the Gujarat CM Balwantrai Mehta which was shot down in the course of the Pakistan war. (This has received a lot of coverage in the news media in the last few years)

23 Jun 1980, Pitts S-2A VT-EGN in which Sanjai Gandhi and another was killed.

26 Apr 1979, Indian Airlines Boeing 737 VT-ECR near Chennai. Fortunately no one was killed or badly injured, but it was clearly a terrorist bomb. There does not seem to have been any subsequent report as to who was responsible.

In closing: there is no single book or online resource which gives a listing and details of aviation accidents in India and involving Indian aircraft. Perhaps it is time someone wrote such a book. Watch this space.

Next, I will provide a list of all Indian or India-connected aviation disasters in which 30 or more persons were killed. This list does not appear anywhere else on the net or in any publication.

Looking into the history of aviation accidents in India-1

Today I will mention the resources available for anyone wanting to find out more about the history of civil aviation accidents in India. Perhaps the most convenient is the US-based http://www.planecrashinfo.com which attempts to cover every accident with the loss of 10 or more lives and many other significant accidents all over the world. It covers both civil and military aircraft. You can search for various regions or airlines. Remember that India has a large number of airlines which lasted for some years and then vanished or were taken over, right from the 1950s. Then there is the Netherlands-based site http://aviation-safety.net/index.php which has somewhat better coverage of less serious accidents all over the world, and includes a wiki where readers can add details and accidents which the compiler missed. This will get you some of the lesser-known accidents in India and elsewhere. There are a number of books by David Gero (see his listing in Amazon.com) which offer more details of selected accidents. These books are a bit costly by Indian standards. Basically he has 4 titles which have gone through several revisions “Aviation Disasters”-last revised 2006; “Military Aviation Disasters” (2010), “Flights of Terror” (ie hijacks and other terrorist incidents)-also 2010 and “Early Aviation Disasters” (accidents before 1950) (2011). All major accidents involving India (as well as Indian aircraft abroad) are covered in these books. What remains to be discussed are primary sources for accidents involving Indian civil aircraft. Here there are some documents in public domain.  For Indian military aircraft  you can forget even that (except for RAF and USAAF records) and your only source is the newspapers. One must admire the dedication of some researchers who seem to have gone through the newspaper morgues in Hyderabad right from the 1940s and have got a reasonable database together. Will conclude the discussion of the primary sources the next time we meet.