First, we can say with relative certainty that Mohammad Sami and Ajit Agarkar are quite possibly even bigger statistical anomalies than even Bradman.
The question is often asked if someone is 'mediocre', or if they are even 'Test class'. I decided to look at all the fast bowlers who have played since the turn of the century, and try to figure that out.
I took all fast bowlers who have taken thirty wickets in their careers, and plotted them on a normal distribution:
The black dots are the actual figures of bowlers (again, 30+ wickets, Bangladesh/Zim removed).
The average is approximately 31, and the standard deviation is 5. Basically, for you to be an 'average' bowler in this decade, you have to average around the 31 mark total.
2SD+: Exceptional Performance
1SD+: Great Performance
0.5SD+: Above Average Performance
-0.5-0.5SD: Average Performance
-0.5- SD: Below Average Performance
-1SD: Bad Performance
-2SD: Terrible Performance
-3SD: You can't win a Test
-5SD: Ajit Agarkar Standard
For reference, by the time you get to our 'WTF?' standard, you are in the 99.997th percentile of averages. Meaning, on average, if three thousand bowlers play Test cricket, you're #3000 in averages. I can't bring myself to categorize the great Ajit Agarkar Standard.
Note: If minimum of wickets were increased to 50, Ambrose, Cork, and a few others would not be on this list.
If we go by the 30+ criteria:
Above Average Performers
Below Average Performers
How do you win a Test?
Now, what about for a specific country? You may be wondering what the 'average' performance would be for a pace bowler playing in India? Using the methodology that you must have taken at least eight wickets, we can come up with an idea. Now, the standard deviation here is much higher (but the sample is much smaller), so I'm still going to use the 5 point marks to differentiate the bowlers. An average fast bowler should average around 36 in India (so the "average" fast bowler averages 31 overall and 36 in India).
But for India, we have bowlers who average 15points lower than the average pace bowler in India (e.g, average less than 21!) For that, we have to introduce a new 'Can I borrow your genes?' category.
Can I borrow your genes:
Unfortunately, we're not done yet. We have to introduce categories even below Ajit Agarkar, and failure this bad has no word for it in the English language.
- Sami (14 wickets with almost 1000 runs conceded...average of close to 70!)