Batting average (cricket)

Summary

In cricket, a players' batting average is the total number of runs they have scored divided by the number of times they have been out, usually given to two decimal places. Since the number of runs a player scores and how often they get out are primarily measures of their own playing ability, and largely independent of their teammates, batting average is a good metric for an individual player's skill as a batter (although the practice of drawing comparisons between players on this basis is not without criticism[1]). The number is also simple to interpret intuitively. If all the batter's innings were completed (i.e. they were out every innings), this is the average number of runs they score per innings. If they did not complete all their innings (i.e. some innings they finished not out), this number is an estimate of the unknown average number of runs they score per innings.

Each player normally has several batting averages, with a different figure calculated for each type of match they play (first-class, one-day, Test matches, List A, T20, etc.), and a player's batting averages may be calculated for individual seasons or series, or at particular grounds, or against particular opponents, or across their whole career.

Batting average has been used to gauge cricket players' relative skills since the 18th century.

Values edit

 
International cricket career batting averages (as of 14 September 2019). Note Bradman's Test average of 99.94.

Most players have career batting averages in the range of 20 to 40. This is also the desirable range for wicket-keepers, though some fall short and make up for it with keeping skill. Until a substantial increase in scores in the 21st century due to improved bats and smaller grounds among other factors, players who sustained an average above 50 through a career were considered exceptional, and before the development of the heavy roller in the 1870s (which allowed for a flatter, safer cricket pitch) an average of 25 was considered very good.[2]

  • All-rounders who are more prominent bowlers than batsmen typically average something between 20 and 30.
  • 15 and under is typical for specialist bowlers.
  • A small number of players have averaged less than 5 for a complete career, though a player with such an average is a liability unless an exceptional bowler such as Alf Valentine, B. S. Chandrasekhar or Glenn McGrath were.

Career records for batting average are usually subject to a minimum qualification of 20 innings played or completed, in order to exclude batsmen who have not played enough games for their skill to be reliably assessed. Under this qualification, the highest Test batting average belongs to Australia's Sir Donald Bradman, with 99.94. Given that a career batting average over 50 is exceptional, and that only 4 other players have averages over 60, this is an outstanding statistic. The fact that Bradman's average is so far above that of any other cricketer has led several statisticians to argue that, statistically at least, he was the greatest athlete in any sport.[3]

Disregarding this 20 innings qualification, the highest career Test batting average is 144 by Kurtis Patterson, who scored 144 runs and was dismissed once in his two Test innings. He then fell out of the Australian squad due to a loss of form and injury.

Batting averages in One Day International (ODI) and T20 International (T20I) cricket tend to be lower than in Test cricket because of the need to score runs more quickly. Consequently, batters tend to play riskier strokes and less emphasis is placed on building an innings in order to amass a high individual score. It should also be remembered, especially in relation to the ODI and T20I histograms above, that there were no ODI or T20I matches when Bradman played.

Interpretation edit

If a batter has been dismissed in every single innings, then this statistic gives exactly the average number of runs they score per innings.

However, for a batter with one or more innings which finished not out, the true mean or average number of runs they score per innings is unknown as it is not known how many runs they would have scored if they could have completed all their not out innings. In this case, this statistic is an estimate of the average number of runs they score per innings. If their scores have a geometric distribution, then this statistic is the maximum likelihood estimate of their true unknown average.[4]

Batting averages can be strongly affected by the number of not outs. For example, Phil Tufnell, who was noted for his poor batting,[5] has an apparently respectable ODI average of 15 (from 20 games), despite a highest score of only 5 not out, as he scored an overall total of 15 runs from 10 innings, but was out only once.[6]

A batter who has not been dismissed in any of the innings over which their average is being calculated does not have a batting average, as division by zero does not give a result.[7]

Leading male batting averages edit

Test matches edit

 
Sir Donald Bradman

A batting average of above 50 is considered by many as a benchmark to distinguish between a good and a great batsman.[8] Highest male career batting averages in Test matches as follows:

Rank Batter Tests Innings Not
out
Runs High
Score
Average Test career
dates
1   Don Bradman 52 80 10 6,996 334 99.94 1928–48
2   Harry Brook 12 20 1 1,181 186 62.15 2022-2023
3   Adam Voges 20 31 7 1,485 269* 61.87 2015–16
4   Graeme Pollock 23 41 4 2,256 274 60.97 1963–70
5   George Headley 22 40 4 2,190 270* 60.83 1930–54
6   Herbert Sutcliffe 54 84 9 4,555 194 60.73 1924–35
7   Eddie Paynter 20 31 5 1,540 243 59.23 1931–39
8   Ken Barrington 82 131 15 6,806 256 58.67 1955–68
9   Everton Weekes 48 81 5 4,455 207 58.61 1948–58
10   Wally Hammond 85 140 16 7,249 336* 58.45 1927–47
Qualification for inclusion: 20 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 8 January 2024.

First-class edit

Highest career batting averages in first-class cricket as follows:

Rank Batter Matches Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave First Class career dates
1   Don Bradman 234 338 43 28,067 452* 95.14 1927–49
2   Vijay Merchant 150 234 46 13,470 359* 71.64 1929–51
3   George Headley 103 164 22 9,921 344* 69.86 1927–54
4   Sarfaraz Khan 48 71 11 4,112 301* 68.53 2014–24
5   Ajay Sharma 129 166 16 10,120 259* 67.46 1984–2001
6   Bill Ponsford 162 235 23 13,819 437 65.18 1920–34
7   Bill Woodfull 174 245 39 13,388 284 64.99 1921–34
8   Shantanu Sugwekar 85 122 18 6,563 299* 63.10 1987–2002
9   KC Ibrahim 60 89 12 4,716 250 61.24 1938–50
10   Kamindu Mendis 44 67 5 3,797 200* 61.24 2018–24
Qualification for inclusion: 50 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 21 March 2024.

One Day Internationals edit

Highest career batting averages in One Day International cricket as follows:

Rank Batter ODIs Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave ODI career dates
1   Ryan ten Doeschate 33 32 9 1,541 119 67.00 2006–11
2   Shubhman Gill 44 44 7 2,271 208 61.37 2019–23
3   Virat Kohli 292 280 44 13,848 183 58.67 2008–23
4   Babar Azam 117 114 13 5,729 158 56.72 2015–23
5   Dawid Malan 30 30 4 1,450 140 55.76 2019–23
6   Michael Bevan 232 196 67 6,912 108* 53.58 1994–2004
7   AB de Villiers 228 218 39 9,577 176 53.50 2005–18
8   Daryl Mitchell 39 35 5 1,577 134 52.56 2021–23
9   Rassie van der Dussen 62 56 11 2,360 134 52.44 2019–23
10   Jonathan Trott 68 65 10 2,819 137 51.25 2009–13
Qualification for inclusion: 20 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 21 March 2024

T20 Internationals edit

Rank Batsmen T20Is Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave T20I career dates
1   Sami Sohail 31 27 13 832 94* 59.42 2019–23
2   Virat Kohli 117 109 31 4,037 122* 51.75 2010–24
3   Sohail Ahmed 27 27 10 857 80* 50.41 2022–24
4   Muhammad Rizwan 90 78 17 2,981 104* 48.86 2015–24
5   Suryakumar Yadav 60 57 10 2,141 117 45.55 2021–23
6   Muhammad Tanveer 46 42 13 1314 88* 45.31 2019–24
7   Manish Pandey 39 33 17 709 79* 44.31 2015–20
8   Kendel Kadowaki-Fleming 24 24 2 971 114 44.13 2022–24
9   Leslie Dunbar 23 22 6 678 117 42.37 2019–23
10   Babar Azam 109 103 14 3,698 122 41.55 2016–24
Qualification for inclusion: 20 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 21 March 2024.

Leading female batting averages edit

Test matches edit

Rank Batter Tests Innings Not out Runs High Score Average Test career dates
1   Denise Annetts 10 13 3 819 193 81.90 1987-1992
2   Lorraine Hill 7 10 2 499 118* 62.37 1975-1977
3   Ellyse Perry 13 22 7 928 213* 61.86 2008-2023
4   Enid Bakewell 12 22 4 1,078 124 59.88 1968-1979
5   Belinda Haggett 10 15 2 762 144 58.61 1987-1992
6   Betty Wilson 11 16 1 862 127 57.46 1948-1958
7   Karen Rolton 14 22 4 1,002 209* 55.66 1995-2009
8   Debbie Hockley 19 29 4 1,301 126* 52.04 1979-1996
9   Sandhya Agarwal 13 23 1 1,110 190 50.45 1984-1995
10   Hemlata Kala 7 10 0 503 110 50.30 1999-2006
Qualification for inclusion: 10 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 21 March 2024.

One Day Internationals edit

Rank Batter ODIs Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave. ODI Career Dates
1   Rachael Heyhoe Flint 23 20 9 643 114 58.45 1973-1982
2   Lindsay Reeler 23 23 5 1,034 143* 57.44 1984-1988
3   Meg Lanning 103 102 16 4,602 152* 53.51 2011-2023
4   Bronwyn Calver 34 21 11 534 81* 53.40 1991-1998
5   Ellyse Perry 141 114 39 3,852 112* 51.36 2007-2024
6   Beth Mooney 68 61 18 2,192 133 50.97 2016-2024
7   Mithali Raj 232 211 57 7,805 125* 50.68 1999-2022
8   Karen Rolton 141 132 32 4,814 154* 48.14 1995-2009
9   Wendy Watson 23 22 6 768 107* 48.00 1987-1993
10   Belinda Clark 118 114 12 4,844 229* 47.49 1991-2005
Qualification for inclusion: 20 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 8 January 2024.

T20 Internationals edit

Rank Batter T20Is Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave. T20I Career Dates
1   Christina Gough 38 36 12 1,030 101* 42.91 2019-2023
2   Tahlia McGrath 39 30 9 900 91* 42.85 2021-2024
3   Beth Mooney 95 89 22 2,764 117* 41.25 2016-2024
4   Mithali Raj 89 84 21 2,364 97* 37.52 2006-2019
5   Sterre Kalis 30 30 4 973 126* 37.42 2018-2023
6   Meg Lanning 132 121 28 3,405 133* 36.61 2010-2023
7   Ni Putu Ayu Nanda Sakarini 32 28 8 731 95* 36.55 2018-2024
8   Kathryn Bryce 40 38 10 1020 73* 36.42 2018-2023
9   Kavisha Egodage 74 70 22 1728 92* 36.00 2018-2024
10   Fatuma Kibasu 45 44 9 1,245 127* 35.57 2019-2023
Qualification for inclusion: 20 innings. Names in bold text are current players whose figures are likely to change. * denotes not out. Source: ESPNcricinfo. Last updated: 21 March 2024.

Alternatives edit

Alternative measures of batting effectiveness have been developed, including:

Strike rate edit

Strike rate measures a different concept to batting average – how quickly the batsman scores (i.e. average number of runs from 100 balls) – so it does not supplant the role of batting average. It is used particularly in limited overs matches, where the speed at which a batter scores is more important than it is in first-class cricket. Strike rate may also be used to compare a player's ability to score runs against differing types of bowling (i.e. spin, fast bowling).

Player rankings edit

A system of player rankings was developed to produce a better indication of players' current standings than is provided by comparing their averages.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Date, Kartikeya (29 May 2014). "The calculus of the batting average". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  2. ^ Rae, Simon (1998). W.G. Grace: A Life. London: Faber and Faber. p. 26. ISBN 0571178553.
  3. ^ "Sir Donald Bradman". Players and Officials. Cricinfo.com. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  4. ^ Das, Shubhabratha (2011). "On Generalized Geometric Distributions: Application to Modeling Scores in Cricket and Improved Estimation of Batting Average in Light of Notout Innings". Social Science Research Network. SSRN 2117199.
  5. ^ Lister, Simon (28 July 2007). "The Jack of all rabbits". ESPNcricinfo. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007.
  6. ^ "Phil Tufnell". Cricinfo.
  7. ^ "Why did Stuart Law only play one Test for Australia?". Wisden. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2022. However, only 54 of those runs came in Australian Test whites, with Law making an unbeaten half-century in his only Test innings, meaning he finished his career without a Test average.
  8. ^ Varghese, Mathew (12 October 2007). "A genuine matchwinner – A statistical look at Inzamam-ul-Haq's Test career". ESPNcricinfo.