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Series Points – A New Way of Ranking Test Players – The 1940s

Series Points - A New Way of Ranking Test Players - The 1940s

This is the latest in a series of articles in which we’re looking at ranking players using Series Points, originally introduced in this article, a new ranking method for Test players which directly compares all players together (i.e. batsmen and bowlers as well as fielding ability), whilst also awarding more points to players who performed well against stronger opposition (the original article has a more detailed description of series points for teams and individuals, suffice it to say here that we divide up the team series points [TSPs, which are allocated when calculating the ICC Test Team Rankings] into individual series points [ISPs] based on each player’s performances with bat, ball and in the field).

I also covered in the first article the Test Player of the Decade for the 1930s, followed by an article covering the 1920s.

Test Player of The Decade – the ’40s

So, this time we’re going to look at the period which encompassed the conclusion of Bradman’s Test career, the 1940s. As you might guess, this period covers fewer Tests than the 1930s due to the war.

Player of the Series

Nowadays, a Player of the Series is awarded for Test series’, so for interest here is a list of the Test series’ played during the years 1945-49, with the Player of the Series identified for each multi-Test series (based on highest ISPs – I didn’t show this for single Test series as this amounts to a Man of the Match):-

Year Tourists Host Result Player(s) of the Series ISPs TSPs %age
1946 India England 0-2-1 AV Bedser (Eng) 87 352 24.7%
1946-47 England Australia 0-2-3 KR Miller (Aus) & DG Bradman (Aus) 112 868 13.1%
1947 South Africa England 0-2-3 WJ Edrich (Eng) 137 781 17.5%
1947-48 India Australia 0-1-4 DG Bradman (Aus) 128 723 17.7%
1947-48 England West Indies 0-2-2 W Ferguson (WI) 112 640 17.5%
1948 Australia England 4-1-0 RR Lindwall (Aus) 125 854 14.6%
1948-49 England South Africa 2-3-0 DCS Compton (Eng) 94 625 15.0%
1948-49 India West Indies 0-4-1 ED Weekes (WI) 89 691 12.9%
1949 New Zealand England 0-4-0 MP Donnelly (NZ) 62 396 15.7%
1949-50 South Africa Australia 0-1-4 RN Harvey (Aus) 118 783 15.1%

ISP: Individual Series Points
TSP: Team Series Points
%age: percentage of total team points contributed by the individual

(Players generally score more points if a series has more Tests, e.g. top-rated players in a 5-Test series will have substantially more points than top players in a 3-Test series)

We can see that the above list contains some great players whom we would expect to be prominent for the time period, with Keith Miller, Bradman, Bill Edrich, Denis Compton, Ray Lindwall and Everton Weekes all represented, and only Bradman was able to achieve multiple Player of the Series awards (one shared with Miller).

Edrich’s all-round ability is much to the fore in that wonderful summer of 1947, when he manhandled the visiting South African’s to the tune of over 500 runs and 16 wickets (Compton was second in the South Africa series with 128 ISPs, and no other player achieved higher than 60 ISPs). Although Bradman’s 715 runs against India (almost a third of his team’s runs) represented a higher percentage of his team’s points than Edrich’s performance, Alec Bedser’s percentage share against India is the highest of the period, with a haul of 24 wickets representing more than half of England’s total of 47. Martin Donnelly’s series ‘award’ is interesting, given the promise he displayed with Oxford University and the subsequent brevity of his Test career. Weekes’ great performance against India included his record five consecutive centuries.

Player of the Decade

Turning our attention to individual performance throughout the whole decade, here is a list of the top-ranked players in terms of total ISPs for all of the Tests played in the period 1945-49:-

Total ISPs Player Series Matches
423 DCS Compton (Eng) 7 28
376 KR Miller (Aus) 5 21
322 L Hutton (Eng) 7 28
320 DG Bradman (Aus) 3 15
316 WJ Edrich (Eng) 6 20
312 RR Lindwall (Aus) 5 19
311 AV Bedser (Eng) 7 23
304 AR Morris (Aus) 4 19
275 AL Hassett (Aus) 5 20
258 C Washbrook (Eng) 7 25
235 MH Mankad (Ind) 3 13
225 WA Johnston (Aus) 3 14
216 IWG Johnston (Aus) 5 18
202 CL McCool (Aus) 4 14
198 TG Evans (Eng) 8 27
193 SG Barnes (Aus) 4 12
182 L Armanath (Ind) 3 13
176 NBF Mann (SA) 3 15
171 DVP Wright (Eng) 7 17
170 RN Harvey (Aus) 3 9

Denis Compton, who was in his heyday, is well ahead in terms of total ISPs, with Keith Miller also significantly higher than the next group, including Don Bradman. However, Bradman played in only around half as many Tests as Len Hutton, who scored almost the same number of ISPs as Bradman, so again we need to look at the picture slightly differently.

This ranking is dominated at the very top by English and Australian players, and this is due partly to the fact that the ranking is based on cumulative points, as those countries played more Tests in the period (32 by England, 21 by Australia but only 13 by India and nine by West Indies).

Levelling the field

In order to take into account this inequality of opportunity as regards number of Test matches played, let’s look at each player’s points per five-Test series (PP5), i.e. the average number of points the player would have scored in a five-Test series, based on his average points per match multiplied by five (as we did previously when considering the ’20s and ’30s).

Below is the revised list based on points per five-Test series (PP5), with a minimum qualifying number of Tests applied which is different for each country based on their total number of Tests played during the period in question:-

PP5 Player Matches
106.7 DG Bradman (Aus) 15
101.4 W Ferguson (WI) 7
90.4 MH Mankad (Ind) 13
89.5 KR Miller (Aus) 21
85.6 DG Phadkar (Ind) 8
82.1 RR Lindwall (Aus) 19
81.3 SG Barnes (Aus) 12
80.4 WA Johnston (Aus) 14
80.0 AR Morris (Aus) 19
79.2 J Cowie (NZ) 6
79.0 WJ Edrich (Eng) 20
77.8 CL Walcott (WI) 9
77.5 MP Donnelly (NZ) 4
77.2 ED Weekes (WI) 9
75.5 DCS Compton (Eng) 28
72.1 CL McCool (Aus) 14
72.0 B Sutcliffe (NZ) 5
72.0 R Howorth (NZ) 5
70.0 JB Stollmeyer (WI) 6
68.8 AL Hassett (Aus) 20

Once again, Don Bradman shows himself to be top of the pile, although as with the ’30s he is not miles ahead of the second-placed player. Nonetheless, his consistently high quality play throughout his career is amazing. The second-placed player is a little surprising – Wilf Ferguson shone brightly but briefly, playing in only eight Tests in total, while scoring two fifties and taking 34 wickets. The first West Indian spinner to take five wickets in each innings of a Test (against England in the 1947-48 series), surprisingly little information is widely available about him – his main claim to fame seems to have been in providing SP Gupte with his nickname of ‘Fergie’.

One of the features of this rating system is how it rewards players whom we know should be ranked highly, but seldom are by traditional methods (see Learie Constantine in the 1930s article) – Vinoo Mankad is another good example of this. Mankad’s performances in the three Indian series of this period were incredibly consistent, with scores of 65, 87 and 85 ISPs being the highest Indian score in all three series, and his total ISPs represented almost 19% of India’s TSPs during this period, the highest percentage by any player. Keith Miller is another great all-rounder who is ranked highly – co-Player of the Series during the Ashes of 1946-47, he scored 384 runs and took 16 wickets to help lead Australia to a resounding 3-0 victory, also scoring highly in the 1948 Ashes series (91 ISPs) and against South Africa in 1949-50 (95 ISPs).

Dattu Phadkar headed the Test batting averages in Australia in 1947-48 with 52.33, and was the second highest Indian wicket taker with 14 against West Indies in 1948-49. Ray Lindwall turns out to be the major player of the 1948 Aussies, generally regarded as one of the finest Test teams of all time. His 27 wickets together with almost 200 runs with the bat lifted him above Arthur Morris, Bill Johnston and Bradman.

Sid Barnes fashioned three hundreds and five fifties in 17 innings in this period, including 234 against England at Sydney in 1946, his best series this decade, although in terms of ISPs he scored consistently enough to rank seventh overall. The 1948 tour was Bill Johnston’s first, but he acquitted himself very well, equaling Lindwall’s total of 27 wickets.

Arthur Morris scored three consecutive hundreds against England in 1946-47, but his best series was 1948 (113 ISPs, second only to Lindwall), when he composed big scores of 182 and 196 in consecutive Tests, ending up as Australia’s leading Test batsman. Jack Cowie, according to Wisden, suffered from not being Australian, although his best days were in the ’30s.

So close

As mentioned at the close of the previous article, it was necessary to have a qualifying number of games for the PP5 ranking, however at least one of the non-qualifiers deserves a special mention. Neil Harvey was just starting to make a name for himself in Tests, being Player of the Series against the South Africans in 1949-50, and his PP5 score of 94.4 would have placed him third ahead of Mankad.

Next time….

We’ll take a look at the beginnings of Test cricket, covering the 19th century from 1877 to 1899.

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