With the cricket World Cup around the corner, I decided to take a peek at some of the ODI stats of some of the main teams. The objective was to see if, through this, I could make some an on-paper assessment of each teams’ chances of winning the World Cup. My particular interest was, of course, India’s batting.
With the help of Cricinfo, my favourite source for stats and analysis, I set about this task.
I started with the batting. Please note that these stats are current upto Friday 2 Feb 2007.
First, I had a look at the maximum number of career runs scored in ODIs. Leading the pack is Sachin Tendulkar with 14728 runs (at the time of writing this article). The top 25 run-getters includes Inzamam ul-Huq at second place (11591 runs), Sanath Jayasuriya (11442), Saurav Ganguly (10302), Brian Lara (10136), Rahul Dravid (9973), Ricky Ponting (9670), Mohammed Azharuddin (9378) Aravida De Silva (9284) and Saeed Anwar (at #10 with 8823 runs).
If we prune the top-25 all-time ODI-run-getters list to only include players playing currently, we get a list that includes (in sorted order of highest number of runs): Sachin Tendulkar (14728), Inzamam-ul-Haq (11591), Sanath Jayasuriya (11442), Saurav Ganguly (10302), Brian Lara (10136), Rahul Dravid (9973), Ricky Ponting (9670), Adam Gilchrist (8531), Marvan Atapattu (8448), Jacques Kallis (8327), Mohammad Yousuf (7608), Stephen Fleming (7484).
In other words, only 12 of the top-25 all-time highest-run-getters are still currently playing — the rest of the list includes one-day legends like Mohammed Azharuddin, Saeed Anwar, Mark Waugh, IVA Richards, et al.
Of these 12 top-run-getters who are still playing, three are from India, two are from Pakistan, two are from Australia, two are from Sri Lanka, one is from West Indies, one is from New Zealand and one is from South Africa. Clearly, Indian batsmen have done well in these stakes.
Let us assume that Rahul Dravid will get to the 10,000 run mark (he has 27 runs to get to that mark with a potential maximum of 4 games against Sri Lanka prior to the World Cup). Let us also assume that Ricky Ponting will get to the 10,000 mark (he has a potential maximum of 8 games to play prior to the World Cup with 330 runs to get).
So, if we further prune the top-25 currently-playing highest-ODI-run-getters list to include only those who have made over 10,000 career-runs in ODI games prior to the World Cup, we have seven players in this list. Of these, 3 are from India!
Indeed, if we assume that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly will score an additional 500 runs in the remaining 4 games that India have before the World Cup, then, in these three magnificent players, India would account for a total of approximately 36,000 runs — that is a lot of experience, and a lot of runs too!
Yes, India does play a lot of ODIs. So, just looking at aggregates is probably somewhat unwise, although I would argue that total number of runs does count for experience.
So, let us look at number of runs and averages together. Only 14 of the top-50 ODI run getters of all time have an average of over 40 runs per match. Only 7 of these are still playing (8 if we include Inzamam, who is, at an average of 39.96, very close to 40.0). Of these 8, three are from India. This is, of course, assuming that Rahul Dravid’s average does not drop below 40 prior to the World Cup. Of course, there are players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni (from India) and Mike Hussey (from Australia) who have an above 40 batting average. However, here we are looking at a combination of experience (as measured by the number of career runs) and consistency (as measured by a greater that 40.0 career average measured over a prolonged period of time).
So, if we look at a mix of experience (in the top-50-all-time-run-getters-list) and consistency (an above 40.0 batting average), we have eight players in the world of cricket that make the grade. In order (of maximum career runs scored), they are Sachin Tendulkar (Runs: 14728, Average: 44.22), Inzamam Ul-Huq (11591, 39.96), Saurav Ganguly (10302, 40.88), Brian Lara (10136, 40.54), Rahul Dravid (9973, 40.05), Ricky Ponting (9670, 42.22), Jacques Kallis (8327, 43.59) and Mohammed Yousuf (7608, 41.34). Three of these eight players are from India!
What is all of this saying? Nothing much really apart from the fact that the Indian top order batting has a heck of a lot of experience and capability. All other things being equal, if the Modern Trinity of Indian cricket click together, India have a great chance of doing well. All they need is the right mental make up — to back up their experience — and the application to pile on the runs.
But of course, there is a small matter of bowling and fielding! We will leave that for another day and an another analysis!