The ability to convert fifties into hundreds is useful in Tests, even more than converting centuries into double centuries. The “conversion rate” has not received much attention in statistical studies in the past.

If your career includes a score between 50 and 99 but no century, your conversion rate is 0%

If you have no score between 50 and 99 but one or more centuries, your conversion rate is 100%

Most Test batsmen will fall between these extremes (unless they never crossed 50).

Take Virat Kohli. He has 27 Test innings between 50 and 99. Oddly enough he also has 27 centuries.

So he has crossed 50 a total of 27+27 = 54 times, and has gone past 100 on 27 occasions. This is a conversion rate of (27/54)*100 = 50%.

One more example: Sachin Tendulkar has 68 innings between 50 and 99, besides 51 centuries.

So he crossed 50 a total of 68 + 51 = 119 times. His conversion rate is (51/119)*100 is 42.86%

Similarly, we can find Don Bradman’s conversion rate to be (29/(29+13)*100 = 69.05%

Let us now look at studies of all Test players up to Sep 30, 2021.

There are 56 players who have a 100% conversion rate, who have no score between 50-99 plus one or more centuries. The first few are:

RS Bopara is the only one with 3 centuries without any score between 50 and 99.

The next 5 have made 2 centuries, including Wasti who made both his centuries in the same Test.

And then there are 50 others who crossed 50 only once but went on to make a century, ranging from A Lyth to Yasir Shah. KK Nair has a triple century, while D Lloyd and B Kuruppu have doubles. There are a surprisingly high number of players who scored a century on debut and failed to cross 50 afterwards.

For a short time, Fawad Alam had made 4 centuries without a fifty. The record is by GA Headley of long ago, who made 6 centuries before making a fifty.

After crossing the 56 who have a 100% conversion rate with the help of one century, we get:

(This has a cutoff of 55%)

Fawad Alam leads with 5/6 or 83.33%, followed by JF Reid (of the 1980s) and Azhar Mahmood with 75%.

Current players here are Fawad Alam, Najmul Hussain Shanto, Abid Ali and SC Williams (Zimbabwe).

From India there is only S Dhawan and VG Kambli.

If you take those who have scored 10 or more centuries, only Bradman (69.05%) and Headley (66.67) have crossed 55%. The next few are Walcott (51.72), Azharuddin (51.16) and MJ Clarke (50.91)

Here is a complete list of those who scored 10 or more centuries at a conversion rate of 45% or more:

The only current players in this elite group are Kohli and SPD Smith (and M Hafeez from the recent past).

India is represented by Azharuddin, Kohli, Shastri (!) and Umrigar.

(Note that Hayden’s century and other scores in the ICC XI v Aus Test in 2005 have not been counted).

Let us look more closely at current players with 10+ centuries and conversion rates 35+

V Kohli 50.00

SPD Smith 46.55

DA Warner 44.44

Mominul Haque 44.00

D Elgar 43.33

KS Williamson 42.11

CA Pujara 36.73

LD Chandimal 35.48

TWM Latham 35.48

Azhar Ali 35.29

R Taylor 35.19

Note the absence of JE Root (31.51), BA Stokes (29.41), AM Rahane (33.33) and F du Plessis (32.26)

Certainly this last list has some surprises which contradict common perceptions about the heavy scorers of today.

In Part 2, we will look at the other end of the scale-those with the lowest conversion rates.