So I decided to go ahead and try and create my baseball style averages for cricket, reverse engineering Henry Chadwick‘s conversion of the key cricketing statistic to baseball, to try and get a sense of a batsman’s worth from something beyond their average. The average is an incredibly useful tool in cricket, but I guess there are a few others which are starting to gain some currency. Strike rate, particularly in the short form of the game, is key, but conversion rate (the number of times a half century becomes a century) is perhaps underweighted when the worth of a batsmen is considered.
It forms part of the following numbers, anyway, though more by inference than a direct comparison. I think the most useful way of conceptualising this is that the first number reflects the rate at which a batsman scores over fifty (regardless of whether they went on to a century), the second the frequency with which they score a century. The closer the numbers, the better their conversion rate.The final number is their batting average.
Like baseball, it’s rendered as a decimal figure, with 1.000 being perfect, that a batsmen scores fifty or better every time they bat. What’s interesting about the numbers is how well they tally with baseball, that the best bastmen of our time have a score of consequence roughly one in every three times they head out to bat. I’ve taken a random smattering of the great batsmen of our time, plus a few noteworthy New Zealanders. Obviously Ryder’s numbers are skewed at the moment, but they back up the extremely favourable impression we have of him. Anyway, here they are…
Don Bradman – .525 / .363 / 99.94
Jesse Ryder – .429 / .143 / 64.00
Ricky Ponting – .375 / .167 / 56.2
Jacques Kallis – .371 / .140 / 54.7
Sachin Tendulkar – .362 / .163 / 54.5
Shivnarine Chanderpaul – .361 / .104 / 50.01
Mark Richardson – .354 / .062 / 44.5
Rahul Dravid – .350 / .114 / 52.4
Kevin Pietersen – .339 / .176 / 51.09
Graeme Smith – .318 / .133 / 50.33
Steve Waugh – .315 / .123 / 51.06
Stephen Fleming – .291 / .048 / 40.0
Martin Crowe – .267 / .130 / 45.36
Nathan Astle – .255 / .080 / 37.0
Chris Martin – .000 / .000 / 2.2
Some interesting numbers come out of it I reckon. Bradman’s obviously a God, but he scored centuries at a rate better than all bar a handful of batsmen in history have scored 50s. Mark Richardson was brilliant at getting in, then getting out before the big score (and Fleming even worse at both). Dravid has a lower conversion rate than you’d expect, and Pietersen’s is fantastic, as was Crowe’s. Mostly, the best batsmen are at the top, and the New Zealanders at the bottom, but I think you can see the value in a Ponting, scoring a score of consequence over a third of the time he heads to the crease, vs an Astle, who, much as I love him, was barely working out a quarter of the time.
So nothing earth shattering, but a different way of approaching the topic I guess. Chris Martin really wants to work on his numbers though.