Stat. Profile #3 : Saeed Anwar
18 Dec 2004
By: Liam Camps
Statistical Focus on...
Country of Origin:
Left-handed; Moderate aggression
Slow left-arm orthodox; In case of emergency
There is little argument that Saeed Anwar is one of the finest openers Pakistan has produced, and he is too one of the most accomplished. Indeed Saeed Anwar is one of the best batsmen to play for his country at any number, ranking among the top 10 Pakistani Test runscorers.
With 4052 Test match runs to his name and 8823 in the shorter form, Anwar had a celebrated career until his retirement after the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. Even then the left-handed strokeplayer bowed out in style - 40 not out off 45 balls against Zimbabwe, but a total of 218 runs at an average of 54.50 over the tournament's course.
Anwar's last international hundred - 101 - was one of familiar stature, against archrivals India. Throughout his 247-One Day International career, Saeed Anwar more often than not managed to lift himself in contests against the Indians, averaging 43.52 in 48 innings, more than 4 runs higher than his career average. Of the 2002 runs he scored against India, 539 were spread over 4 hundred, including 194 - the highest One Day International score of all-time.
From the humble beginnings of 3 off 13 balls on his international debut (against the West Indies at Perth), Saeed Anwar was not an instant success. Proceeding to average an ordinary 20.44 over his first 11 ODI innings confirms this. It was then that Anwar found his stroke though, scoring a maiden international hundred Sri Lanka in the 1989/90 Benson and Hedges World Series. The knock of 126 lasted only 99 balls and contained 8 fours and 2 less sixes.
The following stretch of 13 innings featured a further 429 runs at 33 per innings and a second hundred, against New Zealand, meaning that Saeed Anwar received his first Test cap with experience of 25 ODIs with an average of 32.13. His Test debut in itself was a statistical horror though. The nightmare of any batsman, Anwar registered a pair of ducks and lasted a combined 8 balls against the West Indies pace attack. Pakistan lost the game by 7 wickets.
Scores of 16 and 7 in his second Test match did not boost his confidence any more, but there was a burst light just outside the tunnel. Saeed Anwar registered his first Test match hundred (169 off 248 balls) against New Zealand and that started a run of 7 Test matches during which he averaged 67.75 and scored some 813 Test runs. Coinciding with his Test match form, Anwar found solid form in the One Day Internationals he played over the 7-Test run, averaging 36.31 with another hundred and his first 3 half-centuries.
Yet of all his accomplishments over the years at international level, consistency was rarely one of them. Saeed Anwar's career statistics vary in such a manner to suggest him as a 'streaky' player. When he was in form, he was untouchable, but out of form he was a bit above ordinary.
Anwar achieved his second highest Test match score against England in 1996 (at the Kennington Oval) - 176 off 264 balls. Inclusive of that innings and since, Saeed Anwar has done the most to garnish his international statistics. Almost 70% of his Test runs (in 70.91% of his career Tests) and 65% of his ODI runs (in 61.13% of his career Tests) since.
Perhaps that 176 can be considered a turning point, but it is notable that he scored 5 consecutive 50s among his 7 Test innings to the event. In One Day Internationals Anwar averaged 35.45 before 176 and 41.58 since, for a career average of 39.21.
The measure of Saeed Anwar's inconsistency is easily found. After he average 63.72 in the year 1996, that stat fell to 17.00 in 1997, then back up to 54.53 in 1998. The year 1999 saw Anwar register his highest Test match score - 188 not out - against India. However, the left-hander registered ducks on either side of the score and scored a total of 485 runs in his other 14 innings that year, at a moderate average of 34.64. Destined to play just two more years of Test cricket, Saeed Anwar stayed consistent to ensure that his Test average at the end of his career was just 0.27 runs lower than at the start of the final two-year period.
It is notable how Anwar's ODI career fell away slightly at the end though. Having reached the dizzying heights of a 40+ average, Saeed Anwar slipped below the 40 mark in his 188th match and never again crossed it. Indeed, in those last 59 ODI matches his average was 37.21 with 3 centuries.
Over the course of a career Saeed Anwar established some notable favourite opponents, statistically at least. In One Day Internationals New Zealand felt the brunt of his bat for 4 hundreds and 7 fifties in 32 innings (45.00 averages). The record is just 23.55 against New Zealand's Oceania neighbours, Australia, though.
Additional Points of Interest:
On four occasions Saeed Anwar has scored hundreds in consecutive One Day Internationals. He first did it against Sri Lanka and the West Indies in the Pepsi Champions Trophy of 1993 and followed on to scored a third consecutive (111). Since he has bettered New Zealand/Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe/New Zealand and Sri Lanka/New Zealand. He has never scored consecutive hundreds in Test cricket.
When he gets off the mark, Saeed Anwar has a Test average 50.02 and an ODI record of 42.02.
Batting in the UAE, Saeed Anwar has scored 2178 of his 8823 ODI runs (24.69%). He averages 45.37 per innings there and averages 7.28 innings per century (7 in 51 innings), as opposed to his 37.54 batting average and 14.84 century average (13 in 193 innings) in all other parts of the world.
In Tests at home Anwar averages slightly less (45.36) than he does abroad (45.66). However in limited over internationals, Anwar averages more at home than abroad (41.75 to 39.21).
'White Lightning', Alan Donald has taken Saeed Anwar's wicket more than any other bowler in Test history. On 7 occasions the great pacer dismissed Anwar, but never hit the stumps. Indeed Saeed Anwar was only bowled 9 times in 87 dismissals in Test cricket. In ODIs, Chaminda Vaas had his number, bowling him 3 times (more than any other bowler) and dismissing him 11 times. Neither bowler has dismissed Anwar for a duck.