Test captains compared-batting

The first of a series comparing Test captains by their basic skills rather than captaincy.

Data up to May 15, 2021. The ICC XI Test of 2005 is not included.

Most runs (2500 and above):

After all, Graeme Smith has played the most Tests as captain.

Kohli is in 4th position, the best for Indian players as well as current players. Root and SPD Smith are some distance behind, and Gavaskar still further behind.

Most centuries (6 and above):

Graeme Smith again. Kohli is in second place here and will probably overtake him. SPD Smith is next among current players. Gavaskar with 11 is next among Indian players.

Fifty-plus scores (18 and above):

Here is Graeme Smith yet again. Kohli is in 8th position here, which is the highest both for Indian players and current players. Root and Gavaskar are some distance behind.

Highest individual scores (225 and above):

Led by Lara with his world record 400*. Kohli with 254* is the first among Indian players and current players. Williamson (251) and Karunaratne (244) are next among current players. Kohli’s 243 is the second highest for Indian captains.

Highest batting average (Min 20 innings, 50.00):

Bradman’s 101.51 is far ahead of the next, who is SPD Smith with 70.36. Williamson (62.81) and Kohli (58.60) are the next among current captains. Tendulkar and Gavaskar are further down.

Highest strike rates (Min 1000 balls faced, 50.00):

Exact figures for balls faced are lacking for some who played before 2000. However, it should be clear that Kapil Dev would have the highest strike rate.

Shakib Al Hasan has the highest among current players, although he may not captain his side again. Even SPD Smith may come back.

Kohli can be said to have the highest strike rate among undisputed present captains.

Analyzing Test captaincies – 3

Now we look at the ranking of captains by simple criteria such as win-loss ratios and win percentage.

Win-loss ratios (raw):

All of those listed here have a win-loss ratio of infinity-since they never lost a Test. A few like Srikkanth and Majid Khan managed to draw all their Tests.

As this table is not very meaningful, we repeat this with a restriction of a minimum of 10 Tests:

These are limited to those with W/L ratios above 2.00

This list of 31 is headed by Warwick Armstrong with 8 wins, no losses and 2 draws. Others have lost at least one Test. The first few are generally considered to be among the best captains although they had relatively short careers. And not everyone would agree with Jardine’s tactics.

Current captains are Kohli (#16) and Williamson (#25). They should be around for a while.

Also note that these two are the only representatives of India and New Zealand respectively among the top 31 (who have W/L ratio above 2.00)

West Indies is headed by Richards and Lloyd (as you may expect). Pakistan is headed by Zaheer Abbas (whom you would not expect). Similarly SM Pollock is the top SA captain here (though there is also A Bacher with 4 wins in 4 Tests).

From the upper table, special mention should be made of DB Close (6 wins and 1 draw in 7 Tests).

We also look at

Percentage of wins (raw):

Somewhat meaningful, although those with short careers (A Bacher and Lord Hawke) have an advantage with 4 wins out of 4. The latter was a poor batsman but somehow managed to win 4 Tests and played in one other victory, thus seeing victory in all his 5 Tests.

Bacher did not do too well himself but had a good team and a demoralized Australian team to contend with.

As in the case of W/L ratios, we will get more useful results with a restriction of a minimum of 10 Tests:

This list of 28 is of those with a win percentage of a minimum of 50%.

This may fit in better with general perceptions, though Warwick Armstrong is still at the top with 80%. Here Steve Waugh is above Bradman unlike in the upper table. Others like Kohli and Williamson are ranked higher than in the upper table.

Kohli, Williamson, Paine, Root and du Plessis are the current captains although the last-named intends to step down. And SPD Smith may make a comeback.

It is interesting to see the most successful captains from their countries:

WW Armstrong (Aus)

WG Grace (Eng) ?!

V Kohli (Ind)

FMM Worrell (WI)

Waqar Younis (Pak) ?!

KS Williamson (NZ)

SM Pollock (SA)

Note that Waqar Younis has 10 wins, 7 losses and no draws. This is also a record, which we will see later.

CH Lloyd is not here as his win % is less than 50.

There are still more studies of captaincy coming up.

Batting records of Test captains-August 2020

There are unlikely to be any Test matches for a few months. So it is time to catch up with statistical details which are not readily available to to the average cricket follower.

We start with batting records for captains. These figures are correct on Aug 31 2020 and do not include the ICC XI v Aus Test of 2005.

Most Runs-2500 and above:

Also: the most centuries by a captain is 25 by GC Smith followed by 20 by V Kohli.

The most scores of 50+ are 61 by GC Smith followed by 53 by RT Ponting.

Among Indian players, Kohli is 6th with 5142. Others are Dhoni and Gavaskar above 3000, followed by Azharuddin and Ganguly above 2500.

Among current or recent players, there are Kohli, SPD Smith and Root.

Next we look at the

Highest scores by captains-225 and above:

Lara’s 400* is followed by several triple hundreds. From India, only Kohli appears with 3 double centuries. In recent years there are only Kohli, SPD Smith and Root. The 311 by RB Simpson was his maiden Test century. We also see that Bradman’s highest scores (starting with 334) were made when he was not captain.

Then we move to

Highest batting averages (Minimum 20 innings, 50.00):

Bradman leads here with a three-figure average, followed by SPD Smith and Sangakkara at a distance.

Kohli is in 4th place. From India we also have Tendulkar and Gavaskar.

Current players here are SPD Smith, Kohli, Williamson, Misbah-ul-Haq and Mathews (!)

To be continued with bowling, fielding and all-round performances.

More about batting averages

Here is the table showing the batting averages for all 1105 players who batted in at least 20 innings up to 25 Oct 2019:

Averages Oct 2019-Complete

The averages range from 99.94 (DG Bradman) to 2.00 (M Mbangwa).

The mean of these averages is 27.07, and those closest to it are KR Rutherford, JJ Lyons and PA Strang.

Looking at other measures of central tendency:

First quartile: 36.16 (Wasim Raja)

Median: 26.52 (PR Reiffel, RW Marsh)

Third quartile: 16.28 (RW Taylor, BL Cairns)


Test scores of 200+ by Indians and others

Information correct as on Oct 11, 2019.

First we look at those who have made 5 or more scores of 200 or more:

Scores of 200+ 5 times

We can see that Kohli is now equal with Hammond and M Jayawardene in making 7 scores of 200+. The previous record of 6 for India was shared by him, Sehwag and Tendulkar. Kohli is also the only current player above.

The only other player with more than one triple century is CH Gayle, whose 4 scores of 200+ include 2 triples.

A total of 374 scores of 200+ have been made in Tests. This includes one quadruple century, 29 triples and 344 doubles.

All those who have made 200+ for India are tabulated below:

200+ for India

We also look at scores of 200+ in ODIs:

There are only 8 such scores.

RG Sharma has made 3, with a top score of 264 which is the ODI record.

Others who have made 200+ scores in ODIs are Fakhar Zaman, CH Gayle, MJ Guptill, V Sehwag and SR Tendulkar.

And for T20Is:

The highest score is 172 by AJ Finch. There are 2 other scores above 150, by AJ Finch again and H Zazai.


Review of Aus-Eng Tests, 2019-1

We now start with the World Test Championship table at the end of this series:

WTC 16 Sep 2019

Australia and England are only above the West Indies. (The three teams below WI have not played any WTC matches yet).

The record of all Tests between these teams:

Aus-Eng results

Not all Tests between these teams have been counted as part of the Ashes; this can be seen in this review of the Ashes since 1970: https://abn397.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/the-ashes-since-1970/

Although the series was drawn 2-2 (the first drawn Ashes series since 1972) Australia retained the Ashes which they held since 2017-18.

Looking at individual performances:


Most runs (2000 or more):

2019 Ashes Runs

Apart from scoring the most runs, Bradman has the most centuries (19) and 50+ scores (31). The next highest scorer was Hobbs with 11 centuries, although third-placed Border has 29 50+ scores.

Among current players there are Smith and the recently retired Cook.

Highest innings (200 or more):

2019 Ashes Innings batted

This series only has the 211 by Smith.  The highest in recent years was Cook’s 244* in 2017-18 and Smith’s 239 in 2017-18. RE Foster’s 287 in 1903-04 remains the highest for England in Australia. Bradman’s 334 and then Hutton’s 364 were then the highest in all Tests.

Highest batting averages (Minimum 20 innings): 40 and above:

2019 Ashes Batting Avg

Bradman tops by a large margin as usual, followed by Sutcliffe. Smith is now in third place. Root is the only other current player, just making the cut of 40.00.

To be continued:


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 batted 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

Bradman 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.

Review of SA-Aus Test series, 2017-18 (I)

The 4-Test series was won by South Africa 3-1, after Australia had won the first Test. This series will be long remembered for the happenings in the 3rd Test at Cape Town. However it was of historical interest as well, as will be apparent from this table:

Results of Australia-South Africa Test series since 1966-67:

Aus-SA series history

While South Africa had won several series in Australia since their readmission in 1991-92, they had not won any series at home since the pre-exile ones in 1966-67 and their swan song in 1970-71 until now. In the mean time they had won in Australia in 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2016-17. SA’s best performances at home were draws in 1993-94 and 2011-12.

Here is a summary of all Tests between the two teams:

Overall results

The neutral series was held as part of the Triangular series in England in 1912, not long after the Titanic sank. The experiment was not repeated in Tests afterwards.

We can see that Australia enjoys a healthy 52-26 lead overall. Unlike in many other series, South Africa did not seem to have much of a home advantage in the past.

We now move to individual performances in batting.

Most runs (750 and above):


During this series AB de Villiers became the highest scorer for SA v Aus, overtaking Kallis. And he is only 64 runs behind Ponting’s overall record. Among current players, Amla and Warner have also made over 1000 runs, with others such as du Plessis catching up.

Highest innings (175 and above):

Highest innings

This includes the only unbeaten 299 in Tests. But bowlers have been dominant in the last few years, with only Amla’s and Clarke’s efforts in 2012-13 featuring here.

Highest averages (Minimum 20 innings and minimum 35.00)

Batting average

The upper range has RN Harvey far ahead of the next two, Graeme Pollock and Clarke. Then there is another long gap before Warner, de Villiers and the rest including current players du Plessis and Amla.

To be continued.


Alistair Cook’s record score.

As you can see from here, Alistair Cook’s 244* at Melbourne is not his highest Test score.

That is 294.


However, it set a number of records. He became the first Test player to make 244*, while Bradman is the only one to be dismissed on 244 (vs England, who else?) in 1934.

Cook’s 244* is also the highest score by anyone carrying his bat through a Test:


The previous record was 223* by GM Turner vs WI in 1971-72; this series had all 5 Tests drawn and is the only such series not involving India.

The previous record for England was 202* by L Hutton vs WI in 1950-this was not enough to prevent an innings defeat against Ramadhin, Valentine and Goddard.

And the previous record in Australia was 169* by MA Taylor vs SA at Adelaide in 1998.

There was also a near-miss in 1974 when DL Amiss made 262* against WI in a total of 432/9.


Unbeaten scores of 99,199 and 299

Test scores of 99 are more common than one may imagine. Misbah’s score of 99 in the ongoing Test at Kingston was the 89th such instance. The first such score was by Clem Hill against England in early 1902.

Scores of 99* are somewhat rarer. Here is the full list of such scores in chronological order:

99 NO

The first such score was recorded only in late 1979. Boycott carried his bat through this innings.

Boycott had a special affinity for 99, as he was the first to score 99 and a century in the same Test:  http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63121.html

That series-equalling win was also due to Tony Greig’s little-used off-spin which got him 13 wickets in the match.

RT Ponting (101 and 99) was the only other batsman to score a century and 99 in the same Test, which was against South Africa at Melbourne in 2008-09.

All the scores of 99* (except that of Tudor) ended when the team was bowled out. Tudor’s 99* remains the only one where the team was chasing a target. This Test, which immediately followed the 1999 World Cup, had a rather weird scorecard:


10 wickets fell on the first day and 21 on the second. At close England was 3 for 1 facing a target of 208. Alex Tudor, who normally batted at 8 or below, had come in as a nightwatchman at the fall of the first wicket. On the 3rd day it looked as if he would get a century but his fourth-wicket partner Graham Thorpe was in a hurry to finish things off, leaving Tudor stranded on his highest Test score of 99*. It was to be his only score above 50.

199s and 199*s are still rarer. Here is a complete list of the 11 instances:


The first 199 was scored in late 1984 by Mudassar Nazar, and the most recent by KL Rahul. Both the unbeaten 199s came when the teams were bowled out. Andy Flower scored 142 in addition to 199* in a follow-on as his side lost the Test. (That match ended on 9/11 in 2001).

Sangakkara was more fortunate as his team won.

And 299? Two such instances, the first one being unbeaten:


Martin Crowe’s 299 was the New Zealand record for over two decades until McCullum made 302.  Let us have a closer look at Bradman’s unbeaten 299:


This was the 4th Test of Australia’s 5-0 whitewash of South Africa, who had not yet fully graduated from whipping boys. Bradman was stranded on 299 when the No 11 HM Thurlow was run out for 0 on his debut. Thurlow also failed to take a wicket in two innings. Predictably his first Test was his last.