Saturday 28 July 2012

Scoring 100's

One of the criticisms that is sometimes leveled at some batsmen in test cricket is that they can't convert a start. They do the hard part of the innings, get to 25 and then get out, without going on to score a hundred.

On the suggestion of Jamie Lloyd, from The Heavy Roller, I decided to have a look at the conversion rates for current batsmen.

I defined a start as 25 runs, and so I looked at how many times a batsman got out between 25 and 99 and how many times they got past 100. I did not count not outs between 25 and 99. I only looked at innings in the top 7 and at batsmen who had passed 25 more than 10 times. I also only looked at innings in the last 10 years, as the conditions have changed quite a lot between the 90's and now, so it was better to restrict it to this time frame. I also ignored any batsmen who hadn't played an innings in the past 4 years.

Here's the top of the list:

NameDismissals 25 - 99100sConversion rate
JH Kallis583437.0%
AG Prince221133.3%
RR Sarwan321531.9%
Mohammad Yousuf331531.3%
KC Sangakkara592630.6%
MJ Clarke441930.2%
RT Ponting723130.1%
AN Cook512028.2%
R Dravid672628.0%
DPMD Jayawardene582227.5%
HM Amla401527.3%
S Chanderpaul542027.0%
IR Bell441626.7%
SR Tendulkar612226.5%
Younis Khan431525.9%
GC Smith722525.8%
KP Pietersen602025.0%
IJL Trott21725.0%
JDP Oram15525.0%
Shahid Afridi9325.0%

We see a list of some of the best modern batsmen there, headed by the incomparable Jacques Kallis. There is also a distinct lack of current New Zealand batsmen there, with only Jacob Oram (who retired from tests 3 years ago) in the list.

At the other end of the table are a lot of wicket-keepers and bowling all-rounders.

Here it is sorted from worst rate.

NameDismissals 25 - 99100sConversion rate
MV Boucher5023.8%
Mushfiqur Rahim2214.3%
DS Smith2114.5%
T Taibu2014.8%
AD Mathews1815.3%
SCJ Broad1815.3%
Shahriar Nafees1815.3%
SR Watson3425.6%
DJG Sammy1516.3%
Junaid Siddique1416.7%
MG Johnson1317.1%
Umar Akmal1317.1%
KD Karthik1217.7%
NT Paranavitana2328.0%
Harbhajan Singh2228.3%
Faisal Iqbal1118.3%
DJ Bravo3238.6%
Shoaib Malik2128.7%
D Ramdin2128.7%
Shakib Al Hasan2128.7%
BJ Haddin27310.0%
Imran Farhat27310.0%
AB Barath9110.0%
Salman Butt25310.7%
Yasir Hameed16211.1%
MS Dhoni36512.2%
BB McCullum42612.5%
MJ Guptill14212.5%

It makes me wonder why there are so many keepers there. Perhaps the temperament that makes someone a good keeper is not suited to getting big scores, alternatively it could be that keepers are more likely to get off to a start, as they tend to have a good eye, and are also more likely to be batting with the tail, hence are more likely to hit out. Alternatively it could be that keepers are more likely to get tired, as they have a lot of work to do in the field. For more, see Does keeping influence batting.

If we ignore the wicket-keepers and bowlers, there are a few players who are in there form Pakistan and also one each from New Zealand, Sri Lanka Bangladesh. The Pakistani batsmen have not played many home matches in this time, and I wondered if there was any significant difference for players at home and away.

Once I isolated out home and away performances there was a clear difference. I home matches players converted 21.1% of starts to hundreds, while away players only converted 17.6%

The next step was to look at who was the best at converting starts to hundreds away from home, as it is obviously a more difficult skill.

NameDismissals 25 - 99100sConversion rate
JA Rudolph9535.7%
JH Kallis241335.1%
AJ Strauss231132.4%
AN Cook211032.3%
TT Samaraweera14630.0%
SR Tendulkar361428.0%
R Dravid391527.8%
MJ Clarke21827.6%
GC Smith371427.5%
AG Prince11426.7%
TM Dilshan17626.1%
RT Ponting331125.0%

The name at the top is surprising. Jacques Rudolph has scored 5 of his 6 hundreds away from South Africa. He's only converted 1 of his 14 starts at home. Once we remove the penalty for playing a lot of matches in England on difficult pitches, Strauss and Cook move up the list. Likewise once we take Sangakkara out of Sri Lanka his numbers don't look nearly as good.

At the bottom of the list, there are still a number of 'keepers and bowlers, but a couple of different batsmen appear.

NameDismissals 25 - 99100sConversion rate
MV Boucher2700.0%
MS Dhoni2014.8%
SR Watson1815.3%
D Ramdin1516.3%
Imran Farhat1516.3%
LRPL Taylor1217.7%
Mohammad Ashraful1118.3%
Kamran Akmal1929.5%

Farhat, Taylor and Ashraful are all terrible at converting starts when they are away from home. Ashraful might not get to play much more test cricket, but the other two need to address this urgently.

The final question is which teams are best at converting starts.

These numbers are quite interesting.

South Africa 23.7%24.0%23.4%0.7%
Australia 23.5%25.5%21.5%4.0%
England 21.8%24.7%18.4%6.4%
Sri Lanka 21.2%21.6%20.7%0.9%
India 19.7%20.9%18.9%2.0%
West Indies 18.6%22.9%14.9%8.0%
Pakistan 17.0%24.6%13.9%10.7%
New Zealand 14.5%14.2%14.7%-0.5%
Zimbabwe 6.8%7.7%5.0%2.7%
Bangladesh 6.0%5.8%6.2%-0.3%

Only New Zealand and Bangladesh do better away from home. It is not a massive surprise in the case of New Zealand as the New Zealand pitches tend to be bowler friendly, and a good ball that misbehaves off the pitch can unseat even the most set batsman. It's part of the reason why batsmen from round the world tend to have significantly lower averages playing against the Blackcaps in NZ than playing them at home. Bangladesh is a little more difficult to understand, but the number at home and away are both particularly poor for Bangladesh, so it might not really tell us anything.

The difference between the better sides over this period (South Africa, Australia, England) and the worst ones (Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) is fairly clear in this statistic, and so perhaps the ability to convert really is an important factor when assessing the quality or otherwise of a batsman.


  1. What are Sobers figures compared to Kallis? Surely this must confirm Kallis as the best ever? Not even Tendulkar is close on these stats?

  2. Here are some all time numbers: - top 10 plus some other interesting ones. These are not limited to the last 10 years, so Kallis, Ponting and Tendulkar have different numbers. Kallis has obviously gotten better at converting, while Tendulkar and Ponting have slipped back.

    Player Conversion rate
    Don Bradman 54.7%
    John F Reid 46.2%
    George Headley 45.5%
    Clyde Walcott 38.5%
    Bill Ponsford 36.8%
    Ijaz Ahmed 36.4%
    Graeme Pollock 33.3%
    Jacques Kallis 32.8%
    Chris Broad 31.6%
    Sunil Gavaskar 31.5%
    Sachin Tendulkar 30.9%
    Les Ames 30.8% (keeper)
    Ricky Ponting 29.2%
    Garfield Sobers 29.2%
    Adam Gilchrist 27.0% (keeper)
    BC Lara 26.6%
    Vivian Richards 24.2%
    Rahul Dravid 24.0%
    Andy Flower 22.6% (mostly as keeper)
    Brendon McCullum 12.2% (mostly as keeper)
    Andrew Flintoff 9.8%
    Stephen Fleming 9.5%
    Mark Boucher 6.5% (keeper)