Batting average (cricket)

In cricket, a player's batting average is the total number of runs they have scored divided by the number of times they have been out, usually given to two decimal places. Since the number of runs a player scores and how often they get out are primarily measures of their own playing ability, and largely independent of their teammates, batting average is a good metric for an individual player's skill as a batter (although the practice of drawing comparisons between players on this basis is not without criticism[1]). The number is also simple to interpret intuitively. If all the batter's innings were completed (i.e. they were out every innings), this is the average number of runs they score per innings. If they did not complete all their innings (i.e. some innings they finished not out), this number is an estimate of the unknown average number of runs they score per innings.

Each player normally has several batting averages, with a different figure calculated for each type of match they play (First Class, one-day, Test Matches, List A, T20, etc.), and a player's batting averages may be calculated for individual seasons or series, or at particular grounds, or against particular opponents, or across their whole career.

Batting average has been used to gauge cricket players' relative skills since the 18th century.

ValuesEdit

 
International cricket career batting averages (as of 14 September 2019). Note Bradman's Test average of 99.94.

Most players have career batting averages in the range of 20 to 40. This is also the desirable range for wicket-keepers, though some fall short and make up for it with keeping skill. Until a substantial increase in scores in the 21st century due to improved bats and smaller grounds among other factors, players who sustained an average above 50 through a career were considered exceptional, and before the development of the heavy roller in the 1870s (which allowed for a flatter, safer cricket pitch) an average of 25 was considered very good.[2]

  • All-rounders who are more prominent bowlers than batsmen typically average something between 20 and 30.
  • 15 and under is typical for specialist bowlers.
  • A small number of players have averaged less than 5 for a complete career, though a player with such an average is a liability unless an exceptional bowler as Alf Valentine, B. S. Chandrasekhar or Glenn McGrath were.

Career records for batting average are usually subject to a minimum qualification of 20 innings played or completed, in order to exclude batsmen who have not played enough games for their skill to be reliably assessed. Under this qualification, the highest Test batting average belongs to Australia's Sir Donald Bradman, with 99.94. Given that a career batting average over 50 is exceptional, and that only five other players have averages over 60, this is an outstanding statistic. The fact that Bradman's average is so far above that of any other cricketer has led several statisticians to argue that, statistically at least, he was the greatest athlete in any sport.[3]

Disregarding this 20 innings qualification, the highest career test batting average is 112, by Andy Ganteaume, a Trinidadian Keeper-batsman, who was dismissed for 112 in his only test innings.[4]

Batting averages in One Day International (ODI) and T20 International (T20I) cricket tend to be lower than in Test cricket because of the need to score runs more quickly. Consequently, batters tend to play riskier strokes and less emphasis is placed on building an innings in order to amass a high individual score. It should also be remembered, especially in relation to the ODI and T20I histograms above, that there were no ODI or T20I matches when Bradman played.

InterpretationEdit

If a batter has been dismissed in every single innings, then this statistic gives exactly the average number of runs they score per innings.

However, for a batter with innings which finished not out, the true mean or average number of runs they score per innings is unknown as it is not known how many runs they would have scored if they could have completed all their not out innings. This statistic is an estimate of the average number of runs they score per innings. If their scores have a geometric distribution, then this statistic is the maximum likelihood estimate of their true unknown average.[5]

Batting averages can be strongly affected by the number of not outs. For example, Phil Tufnell, who was noted for his poor batting,[6] has an apparently respectable ODI average of 15 (from 20 games), despite a highest score of only 5 not out, as he scored an overall total of 15 runs from 10 innings, but was out only once.[7]

A batter who has not been dismissed in any of the innings over which their average is being calculated does not have a batting average, as dividing by zero does not give a result.

Leading male batting averagesEdit

Test matchesEdit

Highest male career batting averages in Test matches as follows:

Rank Batter Tests Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave Test Career dates
1   Don Bradman 52 80 10 6,996 334 99.94 1928–48
2   Marnus Labuschagne 14 23 0 1,459 215 63.43 2018–present
3   Steve Smith 73 131 16 7,227 239 62.84 2010–present
4   Adam Voges 20 31 7 1,485 269* 61.87 2015–16
5   Graeme Pollock 23 41 4 2,256 274 60.97 1963–70
6   George Headley 22 40 4 2,190 270* 60.83 1930–54
7   Herbert Sutcliffe 54 84 9 4,555 194 60.73 1924–35
8   Eddie Paynter 20 31 5 1,540 243 59.23 1931–39
9   Ken Barrington 82 131 15 6,806 256 58.67 1955–68
10   Everton Weekes 48 81 5 4,455 207 58.61 1948–58

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 20 innings completed. * denotes not out. Last updated: 8 January 2020.

First ClassEdit

Highest career batting averages in First-class cricket as follows:

Rank Batter Matches Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave First Class Career dates
1   Don Bradman 234 338 43 28,067 452* 95.14 1927–49
2   Vijay Merchant 150 234 46 13,470 359* 71.64 1929–51
3   George Headley 103 164 22 9,921 344* 69.86 1927–54
4   Ajay Sharma 129 166 16 10,120 259* 67.46 1984–2001
5   Bill Ponsford 162 235 23 13,819 437 65.18 1920–34
6   Bill Woodfull 174 245 39 13,388 284 64.99 1921–34
7   Pathum Nissanka 27 50 6 2,817 217 64.02 2016–present
8   Shantanu Sugwekar 85 122 18 6,563 299* 63.10 1987–2002
9   K. C. Ibrahim 60 89 12 4,716 250 61.24 1938–50
10   Hanuma Vihari 76 120 15 6,282 302* 59.82 2010–present

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 50 innings batted, note this table has no requirement for minimum number of runs scored. * denotes not out. Last updated: 30 November 2019.

One Day InternationalsEdit

Highest career batting averages in One Day International cricket as follows:

Rank Batter ODIs Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave ODI Career dates
1   Ryan ten Doeschate 33 32 9 1,541 119 67.00 2006–11
2   Virat Kohli 248 239 39 11,867 183 59.33 2008–present
3   Babar Azam 74 72 10 3,359 125* 54.17 2015–present
4   Imam-ul-Haq 37 37 5 1,723 151 53.84 2017–present
5   Michael Bevan 232 196 67 6,912 108* 53.58 1994–2004
6   AB de Villiers 228 218 39 9,577 176 53.50 2005–18
7   Shai Hope 76 71 10 3,166 170 51.90 2016–present
8   Jonathan Trott 68 65 10 2,819 137 51.25 2009–13
9   Joe Root 146 137 21 5,922 133* 51.05 2013–present
10   MS Dhoni 350 297 84 10,773 183* 50.57 2004–present

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 20 innings completed. * denotes not out. Last updated: 22 February 2020.

T20 InternationalsEdit

Rank Batter T20Is Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave T20I Career dates
1   Virat Kohli 82 76 21 2,794 94* 50.80 2010–present
2   Babar Azam 38 38 9 1,471 97* 50.72 2016–present
3   Manish Pandey 38 32 17 707 79* 47.13 2015–present
4   Lokesh Rahul 42 38 6 1,461 111* 45.65 2015–present
5   Ryan ten Doeschate 22 22 10 533 59 44.41 2008–19
6   Jean-Paul Duminy 81 75 25 1,934 96* 38.68 2007–19
7   Aaron Finch 59 59 9 1,920 172 38.40 2011–present
8   Mike Hussey 38 30 11 721 60* 37.94 2005–12
9   Kevin Pietersen 37 36 5 1,176 79 37.93 2005–13
10   MS Dhoni 98 85 42 1,617 56 37.60 2006–present

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 20 innings completed. * denotes not out. Last updated: 22 February 2020.

AlternativesEdit

Alternative measures of batting effectiveness have been developed, including:

Strike rateEdit

Strike rate measures a different concept to batting average – how quickly the batsman scores (i.e. average number of runs from 100 balls) – so it does not supplant the role of batting average. It is used particularly in limited overs matches, where the speed at which a batter scores is more important than it is in first-class cricket.

Player rankingsEdit

A system of player rankings was developed to produce a better indication of players' current standings than is provided by comparing their averages.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Date, Kartikeya (29 May 2014). "The calculus of the batting average". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  2. ^ Rae, Simon (1998). W.G. Grace: A Life. London: Faber and Faber. p. 26. ISBN 0571178553.
  3. ^ "Sir Donald Bradman". Players and Officials. Cricinfo.com. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  4. ^ "Andy Ganteaume | West Indies Cricket | Cricket Players and Officials | ESPNcricinfo". statsguru. Cricinfo.com. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  5. ^ Das, S. (2011). "On Generalized Geometric Distributions: Application to Modeling Scores in Cricket and Improved Estimation of Batting Average in Light of Notout Innings". Social Science Research Network. SSRN 2117199.
  6. ^ "The Jack of all rabbits".
  7. ^ "Phil Tufnell". Cricinfo.