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What is the best way to judge ATGs with imbalanced careers?

subshakerz

International Regular
One of the points that comes up in discussion is whether it is justified to pick a cricketer based on a peak or not. The question is, when you are selecting such a cricketer for an ATG side, what sort of cricketer are you expecting will perform in the side.

This question is especially pertinent for cricketers who were spectacular in one phase and poor in another. When you pick a Waqar or a Botham, is it fair to pick them expecting them to perform like their early career all-star phase? Is greatness based on overall numbers? Or how long and poor their decline periods are? One of the things that I think is important for the true elites is to not be in any prolonged phase when you are a liability for your team.

If someone like Steve Smith suddenly became a useless bat for the next three years and was kicked out of the team, wouldnt that hurt his overall standing despite reaching the highest batting peak since Bradman?

I don't have a formula, but I tend to think that along with great numbers, ideally your peak should cover more than half of your career and your decline can't be too precipitous like Kohli or stretched out like Ponting, otherwise it will dampen your legacy.

If you think of Viv, after his early career super peak, he still had a long stretch when he was a quality bat and a lean but not disastrous last 20 tests. Botham followed a similar suit but his career end, he was so bad he didn't deserve to be in the side, which I think tarnished his legacy.

Any thoughts?
 

Coronis

International Regular
I think obviously peaks should be used to differentiate between players whose overall careers end up with similar records, and compared to others here I probably judge declines a bit harder, moreso when they do tend to be more drawn out tbf. I do really prefer consistency as much as is possible. I try to base it on both tests and time passed relative to a player’s overall career.

The best example is probably Viv himself, CW recently voted him as #5 all time amongst batsmen and he makes a lot of users ATG XI. For me I probably have him more in the lower part of the 10 or perhaps not even inside it. No doubt he had one of the greatest peaks of all time, but literally the whole second half of his career (~60 tests) he was only averaging 45, which is, of course still very good but when comparing to other players listed at the top of these discussions they’ve done much better with their declines.

(also contributing to me rating him lower is probably that i wasnt born til after his career and didn’t witness him live at all, i know how much his destructive power and fast scoring contributes to people’s rating of him so highly)
 

SteveNZ

International Captain
It's a good question, and one that obviously varies wildly on here. One way, certainly, is not to blindly click onto a cricinfo profile page, look at the average, and judge solely on that.

Keen to hear what people think
 

TheJediBrah

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
It's a good question, and one that obviously varies wildly on here. One way, certainly, is not to blindly click onto a cricinfo profile page, look at the average, and judge solely on that.

Keen to hear what people think
Ironically, this would be a more accurate judgement than plenty I've seen on here where people go through ridiculous adjustments to achieve the result they want
 

tooextracool

International Coach
I don't have a formula, but I tend to think that along with great numbers, ideally your peak should cover more than half of your career and your decline can't be too precipitous like Kohli or stretched out like Ponting, otherwise it will dampen your legacy.
Interesting question. Would you have judged Ponting's career any differently had he chosen to retire at the end of the Ashes series in 2006/07? At that point, he would have played 100+ tests and averaged in the high 50s.

In my opinion, we (as armchair experts) don't assign enough weight to longevity. Being an ATG is about so much more than being able to bowl an outswinger from hell or having an un-readable doosra. It's more than having a great eye or averaging 55 when almost every team has a batsman averaging 50+. It's about what happens when bowlers discover a method to tie you up and what happens when you can no longer bowl 90 mph. Can you still adapt and be amongst the best in the world? Waqar is an excellent example, peak-Waqar (1990-94) is undoubtedly the greatest ever fast bowler I've seen. But when the pace went away he simply didn't have the nous or the skill to take wickets consistently around the world.
 

MartinB

School Boy/Girl Cricketer
A related issue is the uneven spread of test matches over a players career.
  • In my view, most people/players judge a player they see play, by how long (years) they play at a certain level.
  • While cricket averages are based on how may tests they play at a certain level.
When there is an uneven spread of tests over a players career, the players opinion
will differ from the averages (70/80's players are an example of this).

If where judging Ponting decline, would you look at the number of years it lasted or would you
calculate the number of tests it lasted. Being lazy I would look at the years.

Silly Imaginary Example

Imaging a batsmen who
  • averages 57 for 15 years
  • averages 40 for 3 years
  • plays half his tests in the final 3 years so his final batting average is 48.5

How should this player be judged ???
  • players will rate him as one of the greatest of all time
  • 20 years later young cricket followers will say he is not an ATG (average only 48.5)

Examples of Unbalanced career

There where
  • More tests played per year in the 1950's than the 1940's
  • More tests played per year in the 1980's than the 1970's

A good person to look at Richard Hadlee

  • played 4 tests a year in the 1970's and had a bowling average of ~ 30
  • played 5.5 tests a year in the 1980's and had a bowling average of ~ 20

I you calculate his average by Years rather than by Test matches, Hadlee's is in the range 23.5 ~ 24.
Imran has a similar issue and the reverse happens for Viv Richards.

In summary it is entirely predictable that players will rate
  • The 1970 stars (Lillee, Viv Richards, Gavaskar, Botham, Chappel) higher than there averages suggest they should be
  • Hadlee and Imran much lower.

The same might apply to the stars of the 40's.
 

subshakerz

International Regular
Interesting question. Would you have judged Ponting's career any differently had he chosen to retire at the end of the Ashes series in 2006/07? At that point, he would have played 100+ tests and averaged in the high 50s.

In my opinion, we (as armchair experts) don't assign enough weight to longevity. Being an ATG is about so much more than being able to bowl an outswinger from hell or having an un-readable doosra. It's more than having a great eye or averaging 55 when almost every team has a batsman averaging 50+. It's about what happens when bowlers discover a method to tie you up and what happens when you can no longer bowl 90 mph. Can you still adapt and be amongst the best in the world? Waqar is an excellent example, peak-Waqar (1990-94) is undoubtedly the greatest ever fast bowler I've seen. But when the pace went away he simply didn't have the nous or the skill to take wickets consistently around the world.

To answer your question, yes, if Ponting had retired at that time, he would be rated higher, because he was averaging nearly 60 over a 100 tests and was the best bat of the 2000s. But then he had a rather long decline of around 50 tests in which he was inconsistent averaging barely 40 I believe which dented his reputation slightly.

At the end of the day, you are rated based on the entirety on your career, not what you would have hypothetically done. You cant be downgraded if you retire on a high.

I agree longevity is important. Regarding Waqar, his peak only lasted 27 tests or so out of 87 in his entire career. Had it been twice as long, he definitely would be rated higher.
 
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subshakerz

International Regular
The reason I believe Tendulkar had arguably the greatest and most balanced career of any batsmen since Bradman is because of the longevity factor. It becomes clear when you analyze his career.

From 1989 to 1992 he had a 'boy wonder' phase in which he averaged 37 over his first 20 tests and scored hundreds as a teenager in Eng, SA and Australia.

From 1993 to end 2002, he had a ten year peak, in which he averaged over 60 in 85 tests, scoring runs all across the world in a high quality bowling era and was rated world no.1.

From 2003 to end 2006, he had a dip due to injuries, but still managed a respectable 44 average in 29 tests.

From 2007 to beginning 2011, he had his second peak, playing 43 tests and averaging 63, and amazingly achieved the no.1 status again. Only Lara I know has had such a sustained second peak.

From mid 2011 to the end of his career was his actual decline, playing 23 tests and averaging 32.

So from his career, it is clear Tendulkar was in a peak phase for 128 tests, and aside from that was still pretty respectable except for the relatively small decline at the end. In other words, he was in peak mode 65 percent of the time, good mode around 25 percent, and poor only 10 percent. That is an excellent spread.

Add to that his terrific record against and across opposition over 20 years and it is easy to see why he should rated so highly.
 

subshakerz

International Regular
The best example is probably Viv himself, CW recently voted him as #5 all time amongst batsmen and he makes a lot of users ATG XI. For me I probably have him more in the lower part of the 10 or perhaps not even inside it. No doubt he had one of the greatest peaks of all time, but literally the whole second half of his career (~60 tests) he was only averaging 45, which is, of course still very good but when comparing to other players listed at the top of these discussions they’ve done much better with their declines.
Viv is an interesting case. He had three career phases. His peak phase when he was averaging 60 plus, mid phase until around 88 when he was averaging 47 and decline in his last 19 tests averaging 36. Interestingly, both Marshall and Viv decline 89 onwards.

Now, his mid phase is still good enough for me to let him pass as few were averaging 47 in the 80s anyways, and he gets more of his credit due to being unanimously the best in peer rating of his era.
 

Flem274*

123/5
Longevity matters if two players are in the same talent bracket. Tendulkar basically pips almost everyone through this.

No amount of longevity would put say Hasan Ali over Shoaib though. Only smoking ****s will do that.
 

subshakerz

International Regular
Longevity matters if two players are in the same talent bracket. Tendulkar basically pips almost everyone through this.

No amount of longevity would put say Hasan Ali over Shoaib though. Only smoking ****s will do that.
Yes. The whole idea is how to measure this for ATGs.
 

subshakerz

International Regular
Let us take Steve Smith. He has played 85 tests.

He took 17 tests before hitting his peak. His peak lasted over 50 tests and he averaged over 75, amazing.

Since his peak ended, he has played 17 tests and averages 39. He is only 32. So I can imagine him playing for another 3-4 years or so.

Posters put him in the top 5 batsmen ever but I can imagine if he muddles along as he is doing now and his decline period ends up as long as his peak I do think he will end up losing a few places before he retires.
 

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