A closer look at centuries in fourth innings of Tests

Note: All data correct as of April 15, 2018. The Test involving the ICC XI in 2005 is excluded.

We first look at the best averages in the fourth innings:

4th innings averages

Boycott, Gavaskar and Hobbs top this table though there is very little difference between their averages.

We now look at those who scored the most centuries in the fourth  innings (3 and above):

Century in fourth innings

Younis Khan leads with 5 centuries, followed by Ponting, Gavaskar, GC Smith and Sarwan with 4. Bradman is also here with 3. Among current players, there is only Williamson with 3.

Now let see who disliked the fourth innings. These players made the most centuries (20 and above) without ever making one in the fourth innings:

SR Waugh (23), Mohammad Yousuf (24), SPD Smith and V Sehwag (23 each), IR Bell and MC Cowdrey (22 each), DC Boon (21) and G Kirsten (21). Of these only Smith may get a chance to change these figures.

Conversely, there are those who love batting in the fourth innings. Apart from Younis Khan and his companions at the top of the table, there are those who scored all their centuries in the fourth innings:

There are several who scored their only century in the 4th innings. The only current player is Shan Masood. And there is only one who scored his only 2 centuries in the 4th innings: W Watson (Eng) of the 1950s. Honourable mention to JB Stollmeyer (2 out his 4 centuries came in the fourth innings).

So we conclude that the 4th innings is indeed the most difficult innings to score in. Bowlers may have a different opinion.

 

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Test batting averages across innings

There is often a significant difference in how batsmen perform in different innings. This is apparent when we look at those with the highest averages in Tests (for those who have batted in at least 20 innings).

Data is correct up to April 3, 2018. The ICC XI v Aus Test of 2005 is not counted.

First we look at the averages for Tests as a whole, for a minimum of 20 innings vatted across innings;

Highest batting averages in Tests (50 and above):

Overall averages for all innings

You do not need to be reminded about the man with 99.94. The next two are also well known in recent years. Some, like Kambli, are lucky to scrape through. Other contemporary players listed above include Kohli, Root, Younis Khan, de Villiers, Pujara and Williamson.

Most of those who are generally regarded as great batsmen are here-even though some like H Sutcliffe, GE Tyldesley and CA Davis never made a double century.

Now we look at the different innings. The 20-innings cutoff is applied in each case.

Highest batting averages in first innings of Tests (55 and above):

1st innings averages

Brdman and Steve Smith are still in the top 3, but then there is considerable variation. Hassett and Azhar Ali averaged less than 50 in all innings but did much better in the first innings. Voges, Graeme Pollock and Headley did not play enough Tests. Barrington and Weekes seemed to have particularly relished batting in the first innings.

Contemporary players here include Steve Smith, Azhar Ali, Pujara, Ross Taylor, du Plessis, Root and a few others.

Moving on to the second innings.

Highest batting averages in second innings of Tests (55 and above):

2nd innings averages

Bradman is still at the top, followed relatively closely by Kohli. Other contemporary players include Steve Smith, Williamson, Root, de Villiers, Younis Khan and AN Cook. Tendulkar just scrapes through the 55-mark, some distance behind Gavaskar who did not do too well in the first innings.

Now to the third innings.

Highest batting averages in third innings of Tests (50 and above):

3rd innings averages

Bradman now drops out of the table altogether, with May and Kallis taking the two top spots. Here the differences between the top players are comparatively smaller. Contemporary players here are headed by Amla and Azhar Ali.

Finally the fourth innings, where survival skills are particularly important:

Highest batting averages in fourth innings of Tests (40 and above):

4th innings averages

As we can see, it is as difficult to average 40 here as it is to average 50 overall. Boycott, Gavaskar and Hobbs are bunched together at the top. And some like Bradman did not need to do much in the fourth innings as they and their teams generally scored enough in the first and second innings. Some, such as Ranatunga, Misbah and Hutton did not even score centuries in the fourth innings and probably benefited by a number of not-out innings.

Contemporary players here include Younis Khan, AD Mathews, Misbah-ul-Haq, Warner, Ross Taylor and Mohammad Hafeez.

Comparison of centuries made in different innings will be taken up next.

 

 

 

 

A small consolation for Steve Smith

During the third SA-Aus Test at Cape Town, SPD Smith perhaps became the first Test captain to be sacked in the middle of a match and told to hand over charge. However, he may draw small consolation from setting a minor fielding record.

These records are as of April 1, 2018. The ICC World XI v Aus Test is not counted.

Most catches in an innings by a captain (5 and above):

Captains-innings fielding

While wicketkeeper captains Latif and Dhoni have taken 6 catches in an innings, Smith equalled the non-keepers record for captains with 5 catches, along with VY Richardson, SP Fleming, GC Smith and DJG Sammy. There are a few non-captain fielders such as Yajurvindra Singh and AM Rahane who have also taken 5 catches in an innings.

We also look at match fielding performances by captains (6 dismissals and above):

Captains-match fielding

While keeper Dhoni has the record of 9 dismissals (in his last Test), SP Fleming has the record of 7 for non-keeper captains. Smith has taken 6 catches in this Test and in one earlier match. In this case Rahane has the record for 8 catches by a non-keeper, though he was not captaining in that Test.

Finally, we look at overall fielding performances by captains (70 dismissals and above):

Captains-overall fielding

While Dhoni has the highest number of dismissals, he is followed by several non-keepers led by GC Smith and SP Fleming who have over a hundred catches. Steve Smith is fairly high up here, sandwiched between MA Taylor and Lara.

 

 

When Test captains are sacked

The ill-starred Test at Cape Town might well be the first one in which a captain was dismissed in the middle of a match and a replacement named immediately. Statisticians will record Smith as captain¬† since he was “appointed captain” for the match even if he did not end the match as captain. There have been numerous cases when a captain was absent from part of the match due to injury or illness and someone else acted as captain for the remainder-perhaps as much as 4 days out of 5.

One such Test was this one in 2009: http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/13604/scorecard/401071/west-indies-vs-bangladesh-1st-test-bangladesh-tour-of-west-indies-2009

The appointed captain Mashrafe Mortaza missed over half the match due to injury, and Shakib al Hasan substituted for him. Admittedly this was a third XI of the West Indies, but this was still a landmark for Bangladesh as it was only their second Test win (and the first away from home). Shakib was the appointed captain for the second Test, which led to Bangladesh gaining their third Test victory as well as their first series win abroad.

Mortaza never captained Bangladesh in a Test again, and thus the tables show him with one Test as captain and a 100% success rate. Similar examples include Shastri and Rahane, though Rahane may again captain India soon if Kohli is absent for the proposed Test against Afghanistan. And one cannot help wondering if India’s Test performance in the late 80s and early 90s would have been better if Shastri had been the regular captain rather than his contemporaries Vengsarkar, Srikkanth and Azharuddin.

There have been captains sacked in the middle of a series (Gatting in 1988 for off-field activities, and Denness in 1975 for generally poor results capped by an alleged wrong decision after winning the toss at Birmingham). He was replaced by Greig who seemed to have done a better job in ensuring three draws in the next three Tests against Lillee and Thomson in their prime. Later, when Greig was firmly in place as captain he lost his position in early 1977 following the advent of World Series Cricket.

The 1988 home series against the West Indies saw England with four captains in five Tests (Gatting, Emburey, Emburey, Chris Cowdrey and Gooch). So did India in the 1958-59 home series against the West Indies although that story is more complicated.

Review of Australia-England Tests-1

You might wonder why the title does not refer to Ashes Tests. That is because all Tests between the teams have not had the Ashes at stake, such as the 3-Test series in 1979-80 and a few one-off Tests in the 1970s and 80s.

The results of all these Tests are summarized here:

Results table

Australia leads by a healthy 144-108 margin, besides 95-57 at home. At home, England have a slender 51-49 lead which may vanish with one bad series.

Looking at the individual performances, starting with batting:

Most runs (2000 and above):

Runs-above 2000

Only Cook and Smith among current players, with Clarke and Pietersen from the recent past. Bradman’s total is still the record, with no one else crossing 3700.

Highest innings (200 and over):

Innings-200

From the recent series we have Cook (244*) and Smith (239). Smith also has 215 from 2015. Cook’s 244* was significant as the highest score in any Test by an opener carrying his bat through the innings. The previous record in all Tests was 223* by GM Turner for NZ v WI in 1972. In matches between Aus and Eng, the previous record was 206* by WA Brown in 1938, which is listed above. The record for England was 156* by Hutton in 1951.

Highest batting averages (Minimum 20 innings, 45.00):

Bat Ave-above 45

Bradman again heads this list. Among current players Smith is the highest, though in 9th position overall. Warner is also there. There is no one else from the recent past, as Cook’s 40.20 is below the cutoff of 45.

Now for bowling:

Most wickets (75 and above):

wkts-75

Warne leads here, while the current players are Anderson (104) and Broad (95). From the recent past there is MG Johnson (87).

Best innings bowling (including all 8wi and above):

Innings-8wi

Laker has the top two spots. No example from the current series, although Broad’s 8-15 is in 4th place overall.

Best match bowling (including all instances of 12wm and above):

12wm

Headed by Laker and followed by Massie’s freak debut. Nothing from current or recent players, except Warne’s 12-246 in 2005.

Best bowling averages (minimum 2000 balls, below 25.00):

Bowl avg-25

Dominated by the 19th-century players. Of those who played in 2000 or later, the best is by RJ Harris (20.63) and McGrath (20.92). Next are Warne and MacGill towards the bottom.

We see that the top two in this table are Lohmann and Ferris from long ago. For economy rate, the best are Attewell (1.31) and Ironmonger (1.74) who do not appear above because of their higher average. For strike rate, it is Ferris (42.2) and Lohmann (42.2).

To be continued.

 

Test fielding performances of 2017

Hope you have read the earlier posts on Test batting and bowling performances of 2017. Now we move to fielding.

Most dismissals-15 and above:

Dismissals-15

de Kock with 50 dismissals is far ahead of the next two, Bairstow and Saha who each played 11 Tests and dismissed 37. The most stumpings were 9 by Dickwella, while SPD Smith had the most catches (21) by a non-keeper. Rahane was close behind him with 20.

Most innings dismissals-4 and above:

Innings dis-4

The top position is shared by Kayes and de Kock, while several non-keepers took 4 catches. None of the keepers here took more than one stumping.

Most match dismissals-6 and above:

Match dis-6

de Villiers leads with 8 while several others made 7 dismissals. The most stumpings were 3 by Wade, while no fielder took 6 catches.

Best dismissal rate (minimum 20 innings and 0.500):

Dis rate-0.5

As in the first table, de Kock is far ahead of the runners-up Bairstow and Saha. Smith and Rahane have the best rate among non-keepers.

Test batting performances of 2017

Here we look at individual batting performances for the calendar year 2017.

Most runs (750 and above):

Most runs-750

SPD Smith and five others crossed 1000. Smith had the most centuries (6) followed by Elgar and Kohli with 5.

Smith also had 9 scores of 50-plus, which was attained by several others. But it is his Ashes counterpart Root who has 10 such scores. KL Rahul (who scored less than 750 runs and does not appear above) had 9 scores of 50+ with a top score of 90. You can also see Dickwella who failed to convert any of his 6 fifties.

Also Elgar has the most 4s (43) and Warner and Mushfiqur the most 6s (7) in the above table. A closer look shows that de Grandhomme (15) actually had the most 6s though he scored only 293 runs.

Highest individual innings (150 and above):

Innings score -150

The highest score was 244* by AN Cook practically at the end of the year, while he and Kohli also made 243. Cook’s 244* is the first Test score at that number (though Bradman was once dismissed on 244). This 244* is also the highest score by anyone carrying his bat through an innings, surpassing GM Turner’s 223* in 1972.

Kohli has three double centuries while Elgar joined the somewhat exclusive 199 club.

Highest batting averages (Minimum 20 innings, all instances):

Batting average-all

Although Pujara and Kohli scored over 1000 runs they batted in less than 20 innings, so they do not appear here. So we have SPD Smith heading this table with Elgar a distant second.

Highest strike rates (Minimum 1000 balls faced, 50.00 and above):

Batting SR-50

Here we have Kohli closely followed by Dickwella, with Smith considerably behind.

Two centuries in a match:

2 centuries in match

Only one instance. They were Hope’s maiden centuries, and enabled the West Indies to win a Test in England for the first time since 2000.

Next we will take up bowling.