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Reality of 99.4 Average?


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What's the meme response? No you! Anyways, sports improve. So does life in general. But all players that remain competitive over a 10 or 20 year career have shown an ability to adapt to improving standards. So its unfair to raise doubts after they retire. And then compare the standard they retired at with the standards thereafter and of which they had no opportunity to benefit. if you reversed the order and put a modern player in the environment of the past without the benefits of modern professionalism would they have been the same player? Not really i'd say. Any sort of discussion about comparing sportsmen across generations implies some kind of equalisation otherwise there wouldn't be any need for a discussion. What's your best ever side? The one that played last week obvs.
I think the premise is just that it’s harder to be such a massive statistical outlier these days. I’ve got no opinion on what he’d average, just that it would be harder for him to average what he did now, if that makes any sense.

the big bambino

International Captain
I think the premise is just that it’s harder to be such a massive statistical outlier these days. I’ve got no opinion on what he’d average, just that it would be harder for him to average what he did now, if that makes any sense.
That’s all fair. I think Charles Davis reckoned about 84, like ten years ago. No idea how he arrived at that but I kind of defer to his opinion. I suppose he could have been a better player but not as dominant which isn’t a contradiction imo.


Audio File
While there's no traction to be had in the idea that batting was easier when Bradman played - you just have to look at the overall averages, or the records of other top players to disprove it - I think there might be truth behind the idea that the records of international batsmen are closer now than they were. There's a lot more top level cricket being played, a lot more analysis, a lot less hidden tactics and rogue strategies.

I haven't done the stats, and will be happily corrected if I'm wrong, but I suspect that if you looked at the spread of batting averages in the 21st century compared to the inter-war era the records today would be a lot more consistent. Which makes an anomaly like Bradman less likely to appear.

And yes, I recognise that I'm not really talking about Bradman or what he achieved at all at this point so much as just mulling over the maths.


International Debutant
I can't, it was 13 years ago on my university laptop. It wasn't finished and I've long lost that hard drive and save files :(

Same with the one about the NZ teacher in Zimbabwe who ends up playing a test for the black caps after a food poisoning incident wipes out most of the squad.


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I don't understand why, when he was so far ahead of his peers, some of whom are regarded as ATG players themselves.
Well for starters in England alone there are a few hundred thousand people playing cricket on a monthly basis (decreasing trend btw, thanks ECB). Not sure what the numbers back then were tbf.

They’re all thoroughly mediocre ofc with the exception of a few imports but it’s logical imo that with more greats around the world squeezing every last bit of talent out of themselves the gap between a freak like Bradman and the next best would be more difficult to maintain.

Ofc this assumes Bradman was more or less at his own peak back then as well. Maybe he’d widen the gap if he could analyse bowlers in slow motion and have the facilities and training methods available today.


Hall of Fame Member
People undersell the 100 average when they start talking about cross-era comparisons imo. It's not as if he Voges'd it with a lol sample size. He was scoring 100s every <3 innings, scored 12 double centuries in 52 matches (1 every 4.33, so the about as often as many great batsmen get centuries), the record for triples has only been tied, no one else has scored 300 in a day and he had many ATG innings like the 254, the daddy hundred chasing 400+ on the last day at Headingley, the one that set them up to win 3-2 from 0-2 up and so on. He was a freak and dwarfed Hammond and Nourse. Those 2 were sporting prodigies as well as cold professionals like Smith, ABdV or whoever. I think the 45-60 region has gotten more densely populated for sure but still no one has averaged even 75.


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Warning: Long post incoming.

I think Bradman suffers to an extent because he's just such a ****ing outlier that it's almost beyond reasonable comprehension that someone could be so good. Look at how freakish some of these blokes are who we've been lucky to see. It's hard to imagine someone can be nigh on twice as good as them.

You see a gun like Kohli who's absolutely top shelf - his batting average is closer to Jason Gillespie's than Steve Smith's is to Bradman's, and Smith is rightly looked at as some sort of half-cyborg run making machine freak show. When a player comes along and averages around 60 for a decent stretch of time they're understandably looked on as a God, and everyone says they can't sustain it. And for the most part they're right. Bradman's worst series average was 56. His next worse was his first series - he averaged more than Smith's current God-like career average. FMD in 34 the **** had a poisoned appendix which nigh killed him at the end of the tour and averaged 94.

There's so many metrics and he's just that far ahead on all of them that the stats must seem all skewed somehow in his favour. But they aren't. He was just that good.

I think it's perfectly understandable to look for rationales as to why something so outrageous as the disparity between Bradman and every other ATG can't actually be right, but it is. A hundred every third test innings - insane. An average of virtually 100 - if you sent it off to a publisher they'd send it back and tell you to get real. 974 runs in a debut away series - ridiculous.

I don't doubt that for the most part the pitches he played on in Australia in particular were pretty flat. But he scored heavily in England too, and played a disproportionate amount of tests against the hardest opposition of his era.

No one will ever get close enough to him to warrant even being meaningfully compared. FMD there isn't even a player around who's got close enough for anyone to say "I think this bloke's average is close to Bradman's given the era."

And it ****s me to an extent, because I've been very very lucky to see some ****ing incredible players going back to the mid-70s, but no matter how many more I see, I'll never be able to say I've seen the best batsman ever. Robbed.


Hall of Fame Member
Selfish bastard entertaining people through the great depression, many of whom would die in WWII. Should have been born fifty years ago so that Ponting would have been relegated to number 4 or opening, just like in our hypothetical ATXIs.


Hall of Fame Member
In all seriousness, it blows me away to think that for his career he was better than two Michael Clarkes. Or more to the point that he was as good as Clarke was in that insane run of form he had in 2012 except for his whole 20 year career. It's unbelievable.


Hall of Fame Member
Yeah, people just think of him as vastly better than the rest without fully realising he was >3 the average batsman and there is a much wider gap between him and Hobbs/Smith than between Hobbs and the 100th best batsman, based on raw stats or whatever adjusted metric you use. It's like trying to visualize how fast a supersonic aircraft is. It literally boggles the mind because such speeds aren't meant to be possible. He was literally as good as Nourse + Woodfull, not just based on the average but on the superhuman things he could do to achieve that average. Insanity. It just hasn't been replicated ever.


International Coach
Well for starters in England alone there are a few hundred thousand people playing cricket on a monthly basis (decreasing trend btw, thanks ECB). Not sure what the numbers back then were tbf.
Competitions now are a lot more structured, and at the higher end probably of higher quality, but I wouldn't be surprised if the actual numbers then weren't all that different, and potentially even higher. The England's population was 37 million then to 56 now and a lot younger, and there was less competition from other sports and entertainment.


International Regular
Why do people keep saying Bradman was the only outlier? From all indications Grace was just as much of an outlier and he bowled too. The fact that they both came in early in the game before it really became a professional sport might mean something or it might not, but the possibility is of course there.