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Number of centuries scored away from home may not be a mark of a batsman’s skill

This comment was made as a response to this Quora answer. That post gave a list of top Indian batsmen ranked on the basis of number of ODI centuries scored outside Asia. It gave a seemingly-sarcastic emphasis on the ones ranking at the bottom (M. S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina).

For lower middle order batsmen like Dhoni and Raina, reaching a century is a very difficult task, and hence there is no merit at all in comparing and rating top order batsmen and lower order batsmen on the same parameter, that being number of centuries. You can obviously statistically put the facts, but actually rating them with a tone of sarcasm, based on those centuries doesn’t have any merit and reflects only a bias.

For example, all of Dhoni’s nine centuries, despite being centuries in Asia (which you seem to devalue), will certainly seem either contextual or extemely valuable, when you read this:

148 vs Pak in 2005: batted at no. 3 (top order => contextual)
183* vs SL in 2005: batted at no. 3 (top order => contextual)
139* vs Africa XI in 2007: batted at no. 7, but came in at 72 for 5 (won the match for Asia from a pathetic position => valuable)
109* vs HK in 2008: batted at no. 4 (top order, weak opposition => contextual)
124 vs Aus in 2009: batted at no. 5, came in at 97 for 3 and had ample time (both contextual and valuable)
107 vs SL in 2009: batted at no. 5, came in at 81 for 3 and had ample time (both contextual and valuable)
101* vs BD in 2010: batted at no. 5, came in at 51 for 3 and had ample time, weak opposition (both contextual and valuable)
113* vs Pak in 2012: batted at no. 7, came in at 29 for 5 and nearly saved India (extremely valuable)
139* vs Aus in 2013: batted at no. 6, came in at 76 for 4 and nearly saved India (extremely valuable)

It’s nonsensical to compare batsmen based on centuries without bothering how often they even get the opportunity to reach a century. In all the centuries which I described as “valuable”, add this line: “If the ball was coming so low and pitches were flat, what were the other top-order batsmen doing, getting out early?”

If you want, compare them based on half centuries; that makes it more fair for top order and lower middle order batsmen to be compared in the same breath.

Here you go:
Indian batsmen ranked by number of fifties in ODIs outside Asia

Observation: M S Dhoni has 18 fifties out of 70 innings, one half century every 3.89 innings, which is remarkable for his batting position. Sachin has a fifty every 3.56 innings, Dravid 3.38, Ganguly 3.45, Kohli 2.58.

And hey, I filtered out weak oppositions also for you! 🙂

Indian batsmen ranked by number of fifties in ODIs against Australia/England/New Zealand/Pakistan/South Africa/Sri Lanka/West Indies, in matches played outside Asia.

Here, M S Dhoni has 16 fifties out of 66 innings (4.13), Sachin has a figure of 3.95, Dravid 3.25, Ganguly 3.88. Again, look at the batting order.

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