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Thread: Modern-day batsmen and flat pitches

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    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Modern-day batsmen and flat pitches

    I originally typed this post about Sehwag, but after spending five minutes trying to decide which of the Sehwag threads to post it in, I decided to start a new one as it has wider implications on every supposed flat-track-bully of this decade who averages 50 odd. While the specific examples will all relate to Sehwag, you can essentially apply them to Hayden, Yousuf, Jayawardene, Samaraweera (to an extent anyway) or anyone else who is degraded for doing nothing more than adapting their game to succeed in the conditions they are regularly presented with.

    I've always been a denier of Sehwag's status as a great batsman. While I acknowledged his ability to score big runs on pitches that don't offer sideways movement for the quicks, I felt he fell short of greatness due to the complete lack of any innings of note on a seamer. In a way my opinion on that still hasn't changed - unlike most who push the case for Sehwag, I'm not going to pretend that he actually has played such an innings by inventing a greentop or citing irrelevant ODI games - my opinion on what Sehwag has done hasn't actually changed. What has changed is my opinion on its context: I'm proposing that given the extreme rarity of such a pitch in international cricket today, the ability to score runs on a greentop is actually largely irrelevant to how effective a batsman is going to be in today's landscape. Pitches around the world are flat in a majority of cases - and when they aren't it's usually because they deteriorate and get uneven later on. Tracks that offer sideways movement for genuine seamers are a rarity outside of South Africa.

    The first hurdle people have to get over is the insistence on rating players from one era based on how they'd go in another. Comparison between players of different eras is very possible, but the only fair and just way to do so is to simply look at comparative success relative to one's peers. If player X was more successful than player Y (relative to their contemporaries of course), regardless of how people think they would have gone if they swapped timeframes, then player X should be regarded as the superior player. Most people seem to rate all players by how they perceive they'd have gone in a specific timeframe - a timeframe that coincidentally aligns with when they started watching cricket seriously. We all have our hangups about what 'real' cricket is, but there's no reason 21st century cricket on flat pitches with short boundaries and big bats, or pre-WWI cricket on uncovered wickets, should be any less relevant from a player-rating perspective than what most of us perceive as the 'true' cricket of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Judging Sehwag based on how successful he would have been if he played in the 80s is about as fair as judging Sangakkara based on how successful he would have been as a leg spinner or how successful Lara would have been as a 1920s wicket keeper on uncovered wickets. Sehwag's job isn't to bat in such a way that makes people think he'd be a success in theoretical circumstances; it's develop his game to be as effective as he can for his country, and he's far more effective averaging 60 on subcontinental wickets and failing once every five years when India tour South Africa than he would be if he could score 150 on a seamer and then no runs again for four years. His hypothetical success in another decade is completely irrelevant, not to mention unfair given it's quite logical to suggest he'd have a significantly different game if he encountered different conditions regularly. What he should be judged on is what he did relative to contemporaries, and this certainly puts him in the great batsman class.

    The second point people bring up does have a bit more merit. Some of us can accept the world of flat pitches but still go at pains to point out that it still means more runs are being scored, and hence everyone's averages are inflated. This is true, but not really quite to the extent people want to believe. I'm going to standardise the averages of Sehwag and Steve Waugh based on the the bowling averages of their opposition during their careers.

    Code:
    SEHWAG
    
    Opposition	Runs	Avg	Team	Stdsd	Stdsd
    				Bowl	Runs	Avg
    				Avg
    
    Australia  	1483	51.13	29.47	1512	52.13
    Bangladesh 	23	11.50	49.72	14	6.95
    England 	527	31.00	34.25	462	27.19
    New Zealand 	357	27.46	33.98	316	24.28
    Pakistan 	1276	91.14	35.06	1093	78.09
    South Africa 	872	51.29	32.18	814	47.88
    Sri Lanka 	891	74.25	30.49	878	73.15
    West Indies 	643	53.58	41.49	466	38.80
    Zimbabwe 	176	58.66	43.67	121	40.36
    
    Overall		6248	52.50		5675	47.69
    Code:
    STEVE WAUGH
    
    Opposition	Runs	Avg	Team	Stdsd	Stdsd
    				Bowl	Runs	Avg
    				Avg
    
    Bangladesh 	256	-  	56.53	136	-
    England 	3200	58.18	35.46	2711	49.29
    India 		1090	41.92	34.01	963	37.03
    New Zealand 	1117	38.51	35.43	947	32.66
    Pakistan 	934	34.59	29.04	966	35.78
    South Africa 	1147	49.86	27.92	1234	53.66
    Sri Lanka 	701	87.62	33.72	624	78.06
    West Indies 	2192	49.81	29.90	2202	50.05
    Zimbabwe 	290	145.00	38.96	224	111.80
    					
    Overall		10927	51.06		10007	46.76
    Now it's only one example I know, but you could take any player for any decade you liked and compare them to Sehwag and you'd get similar results. As this shows, even after taking the difficulty (or lackthereof) of run-scoring against each team during each player's career into account, Sehwag's record is still very much comparable to Steve Waugh's (besides the longevity of it, obviously, but Sehwag's still playing).

    To summarise, I've basically come around to face the reality of the fact that scoring runs on flat pitches with clinical efficiency and regularity is what being successful in this decade of batting is all about, and thus batsmen who manage it to such a ridiculously high standard should be shown the respect they deserve as the stars of their era. I'm not saying that we shouldn't look at other factors, of course (pressure situations, good bowling etc), but the flat pitches argument really needs to be taken into better context, particularly when said matches actually have a result.
    Last edited by Prince EWS; 09-12-2009 at 12:23 AM.
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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    A few of us have been saying it for a few years.

    sarcasm aside, a very good job of enumerating the argument Pews.
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    International Coach Zinzan's Avatar
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    Nice work Pew's. What's the formula used for working out the standardised average?

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    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinzan12 View Post
    Nice work Pew's. What's the formula used for working out the standardised average?
    Well I have more complicated ways of doing it but I just used the quickish method for this thread.

    Take Sehwag v England for example. During Sehwag's career (Nov 2001 to now IIRC), England's bowlers collectively averaged 34.25 but the global average since the start of Test cricket is actually 30.04, so Sehwag's runs against England were multiplied by (30.04/34.25) which is roughly 0.88. If I was going to do it properly I'd have used home and away averages and narrowed down everything to a year either side of the start of each match he played, but that takes a long time and it wasn't necessary for this particular example.


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    International Coach Shri's Avatar
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    Saeed Anwar vs. Virender Sehwag

    Said something similar some days back.

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    Hall of Fame Member Furball's Avatar
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    Think it's a bit unfair when you name players individually at the start of the post to only include 1 Australian.

    This decade they've been the single biggest collection of home flat track bullies going.

    edit: Also, subcontinental batsmen get a raw deal when we think of flat track bullies. The reason subcontinental batsmen find batting easier in the subcontinent is because they're used to the pitches and conditions. If batting in the subcontinent was as easy as it's made out to be, then you'd get far more non subcontinental batsmen making stacks of runs at ridiculous averages than we see currently.

    It's Australia, not the subcontinent, which has been the home of the flattest pitches this decade.
    Last edited by Furball; 09-12-2009 at 09:04 AM.

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    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GingerFurball View Post
    Think it's a bit unfair when you name players individually at the start of the post to only include 1 Australian.
    They tend tend to be accused of it individually though. Don't really see it as "unfair" anyway since I then went on to defend the supposed flat-track-bullies collectively for the next five paragraphs. If there's one post where FTB shouldn't really be taken as an insult, it's that one.
    Last edited by Prince EWS; 09-12-2009 at 09:05 AM.

  8. #8
    Hall of Fame Member Furball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince EWS View Post
    They tend tend to be accused of it individually though. Don't really see it as "unfair" anyway since I then went on to defend the supposed flat-track-bullies collectively for the next five paragraphs. If there's one post where FTB shouldn't really be taken as an insult, it's that one.
    Yeah, it was worded badly, wasn't an attack on you, more the lazy notion that because the best subcontinental batsmen score heavily at home, that the subcontinent is a batsman's paradise.

  9. #9
    Hall of Fame Member aussie's Avatar
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    Comparing runs modern day batsmen on flat pitches is only negligible, if you are comparing batsmen A & B & C of the same era who play under such circumstances i.e this 2000s era & maybe the 1930s who may have inflated 50+ averages. Who in 1 every 30 innings may face a bowler friendly deck/quality pace attack.

    But if you want to compare across eras to batsmen D & E & F who had to play 10-15 out 30 games on bowler friendly decks againts a world class attack & succeded (i.e in the 90s or 70s) - & possibly averaged less than 50+ (rather in the 40s) like batsman A,B, C.

    Then it is not negligible at all. Theirfore the performances of batsmen A, B, C in most cases cant be as good as batsmen D, E & F.

  10. #10
    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie View Post
    But if you want to compare across eras to batsmen D & E & F who had to play 10-15 out 30 games on bowler friendly decks againts a world class attack & succeded (i.e in the 90s or 70s) - & possibly averaged less than 50+ (rather in the 40s) like batsman A,B, C.

    Then it is not negligible at all. Theirfore the performances of batsmen A, B, C in most cases cant be as good as batsmen D, E & F.
    Yeah, you missed the point. I addressed that in the second part of my post.

    The second point people bring up does have a bit more merit. Some of us can accept the world of flat pitches but still go at pains to point out that it still means more runs are being scored, and hence everyone's averages are inflated. This is true, but not really quite to the extent people want to believe. I'm going to standardise the averages of Sehwag and Steve Waugh based on the the bowling averages of their opposition during their careers.

    Code:
    SEHWAG
    
    Opposition	Runs	Avg	Team	Stdsd	Stdsd
    				Bowl	Runs	Avg
    				Avg
    
    Australia  	1483	51.13	29.47	1512	52.13
    Bangladesh 	23	11.50	49.72	14	6.95
    England 	527	31.00	34.25	462	27.19
    New Zealand 	357	27.46	33.98	316	24.28
    Pakistan 	1276	91.14	35.06	1093	78.09
    South Africa 	872	51.29	32.18	814	47.88
    Sri Lanka 	891	74.25	30.49	878	73.15
    West Indies 	643	53.58	41.49	466	38.80
    Zimbabwe 	176	58.66	43.67	121	40.36
    
    Overall		6248	52.50		5675	47.69
    Code:
    STEVE WAUGH
    
    Opposition	Runs	Avg	Team	Stdsd	Stdsd
    				Bowl	Runs	Avg
    				Avg
    
    Bangladesh 	256	-  	56.53	136	-
    England 	3200	58.18	35.46	2711	49.29
    India 		1090	41.92	34.01	963	37.03
    New Zealand 	1117	38.51	35.43	947	32.66
    Pakistan 	934	34.59	29.04	966	35.78
    South Africa 	1147	49.86	27.92	1234	53.66
    Sri Lanka 	701	87.62	33.72	624	78.06
    West Indies 	2192	49.81	29.90	2202	50.05
    Zimbabwe 	290	145.00	38.96	224	111.80
    					
    Overall		10927	51.06		10007	46.76
    Now it's only one example I know, but you could take any player for any decade you liked and compare them to Sehwag and you'd get similar results. As this shows, even after taking the difficulty (or lackthereof) of run-scoring against each team during each player's career into account, Sehwag's record is still very much comparable to Steve Waugh's (besides the longevity of it, obviously, but Sehwag's still playing).
    Sehwag, relative to his own contemporaries, was/is as successful as Waugh was relative to his. "That's a fact" as you would say. I essentially figured out how far above the mean Sehwag was, given the era he's played in and the opposition he's faced, and compared it to how far above the mean (which is a different mean this time, based on the era Waugh played in and the opposition he faced) Waugh was, so I was no longer comparing apples with oranges - I was comparing relative success in relation to the difficulty of run-scoring at the times in question.
    Last edited by Prince EWS; 09-12-2009 at 10:21 AM.

  11. #11
    Hall of Fame Member aussie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince EWS View Post
    Code:
    SEHWAG
    
    Opposition	Runs	Avg	Team	Stdsd	Stdsd
    				Bowl	Runs	Avg
    				Avg
    
    Australia  	1483	51.13	29.47	1512	52.13
    Bangladesh 	23	11.50	49.72	14	6.95
    England 	527	31.00	34.25	462	27.19
    New Zealand 	357	27.46	33.98	316	24.28
    Pakistan 	1276	91.14	35.06	1093	78.09
    South Africa 	872	51.29	32.18	814	47.88
    Sri Lanka 	891	74.25	30.49	878	73.15
    West Indies 	643	53.58	41.49	466	38.80
    Zimbabwe 	176	58.66	43.67	121	40.36
    
    Overall		6248	52.50		5675	47.69
    .
    I see what you are trying to do. The forumla you used gets everything correct except vs runs vs AUS & SA. No way could he average 52 vs AUS, when the only time he faced a quality AUS attack in 04, he was troubled (will not deliberate on this further since i have already gone to death here). Plus the fact he never faced McGrath in AUS.

    Plus he averaged 14 in SA in 05/06 & struggled in the 07/08 series on the bowler friendly decks outside of that 317.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prince EWS View Post
    Code:
    STEVE WAUGH
    
    Opposition	Runs	Avg	Team	Stdsd	Stdsd
    				Bowl	Runs	Avg
    				Avg
    
    Bangladesh 	256	-  	56.53	136	-
    England 	3200	58.18	35.46	2711	49.29
    India 		1090	41.92	34.01	963	37.03
    New Zealand 	1117	38.51	35.43	947	32.66
    Pakistan 	934	34.59	29.04	966	35.78
    South Africa 	1147	49.86	27.92	1234	53.66
    Sri Lanka 	701	87.62	33.72	624	78.06
    West Indies 	2192	49.81	29.90	2202	50.05
    Zimbabwe 	290	145.00	38.96	224	111.80
    					
    Overall		10927	51.06		10007	46.76
    .
    Waugh at his peak from WI 92/93 to Ashes 2001 averaged 47, plus if you limit to to just runs in the 90s its almost 60 on par with Tendy/Lara almost. But unlike Sehwag he hardly faced a poor pace attack in this period. So i dont think you draw a comparison here tbf.
    Last edited by aussie; 09-12-2009 at 01:29 PM.

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    I think you will find that Sehwag did play McGrath in Australia. He got an 80 odd if I am not mistaken.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    EWS on fire. Love the threads he's made this week. Always good to see something like this because so so so so often we have to read "batting is so bloody easy these days my nan could score a century on that pitch against that lot snooze bore off stfu". Nice
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Flem274*'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie View Post
    I see what you are trying to do. The forumla you used gets everything correct except vs runs vs AUS & SA. No way could he average 52 vs AUS, when the only time he faced a quality AUS attack in 04, he was troubled (will not deliberate on this further since i have already gone to death here). Plus the fact he never faced McGrath in AUS.

    Plus he averaged 14 in SA in 05/06 & struggled in the 07/08 series on the bowler friendly decks outside of that 317.



    Waugh at his peak from WI 92/93 to Ashes 2001 47, plus if you limit to to just runs in the 90s its almost 60 on par with Tendy/Lara almost. But unlike Sehwag he hardly faced a poor pace attack in this period. So i dont think you draw a comparison here tbf.
    Actualy PEWS shows he did/would.

    When you lose your biased agenda of how you think cricket should work and start accepting how it does work then maybe you'll find you have less to be argumentative about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athlai View Post
    Well yeah Tendy is probably better than Bradman, but Bradman was 70 years ago, if he grew up in the modern era he'd still easily be the best. Though he wasn't, can understand the argument for Tendy even though I don't agree.
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    Hall of Fame Member aussie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avada Kedavra View Post
    I think you will find that Sehwag did play McGrath in Australia. He got an 80 odd if I am not mistaken.
    Oh yes he did. But you cant gauge a player in a one -off test, only over a series. Since a player cant start with big hundred then fail for remainder of a series. His only full series vs a quality AUS attack in 04, he was owned technically. (Will not go into any further since i have already gone to death here).

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