1. ## A Batsman's 'Prime'

I've been sitting here thinking about a way to measure how good a batsman was during the peak of their career.

A perfect example is IVA Richards- his test batting average of 50.23 (despite being an excellent figure in itself) does not reflect how brilliant he was with willow in hand. Off the top of my head, Viv played 121 test matches.

At his destructive peak, Viv's average would have been much higher than what it steadily declined towards during his recessive final years. This 'prime' statistic is one that I am personally quite keen to use, but there is always a catch- if a batsmen were to score an unbeaten double century in his first match, his next few matches would have a disproportionate average.

I am curious as to how many matches must have been played in order for the statistic to become valid... at first thought, I chose 20 (since most batsmen, Pollock for example, must have played 20 matches before their figures are considered). The highest Viv hit at any stage after 20 matches was 64.14, after his 21st match. After playing at least half of his 121 games (proudly got that beaut correct), the highest Viv's numbers hit was 56.26 in his 65th match.

Basically, for people who couldn't be assed reading that, how many matches does a player how to have played before I can consider his 'prime' batting average?

2. If we reach any sort of consensus on it then it'll be very easy for me to post up a list of every batsman's best (in terms of average) X innings. Could do it with standardised averages just as easily as well.

3. Are you talking about sample size issues, or how to work out long the elusive devil that is "form" tends to last for a particular batsman?

If the former, then I don't think it can really be done. The sample size is either much too small or too close to the career average to be any real use. And in either case, your common or garden batting average has a lot of bigger problems than sample size to worry about if we're measuring something so abstract an idea as this.

If you're talking about the latter, then we may be onto something, but at the very least it needs to be a measure of time, not matches, and include performances from all cricket.

4. I'm not sure how statistically valid it would be, but if nothing else it'd at least be interesting to see how the greats' best runs of form over 20-25-30, etc tests stack up against each other.

If memory serves Hussey was up over 80 after 20 tests. Be surpised if too many this side of Bradman can top that, even cherry-picking.

If nothing else it'd show how freakish Sir Donald's consistent genius was.

5. Ponting had a pretty crazy and really quite lengthy run didn't he?

6. I think you should take in account the era that the player played in. These days players play too many matches hence you some of the players who debut 4-5 years ago have already played 50 + test matches.

7. Lets take a classic case of now. Ponting v Samaraweera, Ponting may end with a lower test average after a stuttering end to his career but nobody in their right mind would pick Samaraweera over Ponting. His end figures won't do full justice to how good he actually was despite them being very impressive now anyway.

8. IIRC Ponting averaged 74 in a 50+ match run from in his peak 2002-06 years... absolutely ridiculous
These peaks are important to judge the quality of certain batsmen like Viv and Ponting, because their overall stats dont convey their brilliance and dont set them apart from other batsmen with similar records but who are obviously inferior.
Sachin's first peak in the 90s when his career average almost touched 60 even after going through a decade of great fast bowling is another incredible achievement.

Basically, imo, a player's should only be used to distinguish him from the 'lesser' batsmen with similar records, but the troughs of his career should never, ever be ignored, because bad form hurts the team just as much as a batsman's prime form helps the team. This is just one of the reasons why i rate someone like Sachin very highly now... he's had two extended runs of magnificent 'peak form'.

9. Ricky Ponting ( 1999-2006 ) : 8114 @ 65.43 from 87 tests
Jacques Kallis ( 1999-2005 ) : 6433 @ 64.97 from 73 tests
Sachin Tendulkar ( 1997-2002 ) : 5705 @ 63.38 from 59 tests
Brian Lara ( 2001-2005 ) : 5134 @ 61.85 from 47 tests
Rahul Dravid ( 2000-2006 ) : 6400 @ 61.53 from 72 tests

10. RT Ponting Mar 8, 2002 - Nov 27, 2000:
52 Matches 92 Innings 5813 runs Average: 74.52, 23 Hundreds, 20 Fifties

Holy **** is the only way to describe it. Best run for any batsman since bradman

11. Originally Posted by kingkallis
Ricky Ponting ( 1999-2006 ) : 8114 @ 65.43 from 87 tests
Jacques Kallis ( 1999-2005 ) : 6433 @ 64.97 from 73 tests
Sachin Tendulkar ( 1997-2002 ) : 5705 @ 63.38 from 59 tests
Brian Lara ( 2001-2005 ) : 5134 @ 61.85 from 47 tests
Rahul Dravid ( 2000-2006 ) : 6400 @ 61.53 from 72 tests
Ian Bell 25th Dec 09 - 25th Dec 11 - 1876 @ 89.33 from 19 tests

We may have found a flaw or is bell better than many give him credit for?

12. George Headley: 2190 at 60.83 from 22 Tests.
Alastair Cook: 2016 at 61.09 from his last 22 Tests.

Here there be monsters.

13. Minimum runs - 5000

14. What about Hussey's first 3 years?

15. Working out a player's prime form shouldn't be used to judge the ability of a player, but it could still be interesting to see how their primes went.

All that having a higher prime means is that a player also had lower troughs. If a player ages badly statistically, it shouldn't be discluded from his stats imo - him aging badly affects his team negatively. This is why Tendulkar is rated as highly as he is - his longevity is amazing.

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