Explaining Cricket Stats: Part Four

This is the penultimate entry in our tour through the labyrinth of cricket statistics: parts One, Two, and Three should be read in advance. So, slide four, please.

Cricket Screen Shot

By this time, you should know that Australia, who are batting, have scored 110 runs and have lost two wickets. It’s the end of the Second Powerplay. Now, let us look at the ODI (one-day international) career of Australian captain, Michael Clarke, whose stats are on the screen. He has batted 178 times (innings) and has amassed 6153 runs. If you divide the number of runs he’s scored by the number of times he’s lost his wicket (a fancy way of getting out), you arrive at his average, 44.59, which reveals him to be world-class in the one-day format of the game. In effect, each time he arrives at bat he scores nearly 45 runs.  In baseball parlance, he’s batting .351.

Unlike five-day cricket (or Test cricket, as it’s called when nations play one another) one-day games restrict the number of balls that any batsman can face, simply because the game is fixed at 300 legal deliveries per side. As you might imagine, how quickly you score runs is important. Michael Clarke’s strike rate is a respectable 78 runs per 100 balls. (Remember, in cricket you don’t have to run each time you hit the ball.) In the course of his one-day career, he has scored between 50 and 99 runs in an innings 47 times, and has scored over 100 runs (a century) on five occasions, with a best score of 130. All in all, you’re seeing a very, very classy player.

Just how classy is he? Well, as we write these words, Michael Clarke has just scored a humungous 329 not out against the Indians in the Second Test Match at Sydney. Unlike in the ODI game featured above, also against the Indians, Michael Clarke didn’t have to worry about strike rate or facing a limited number of balls. He could just bat and bat and bat—grinding the Indian team into dust (along with Ricky Ponting, who scored 134, and Michael Hussey, who scored 150 without being dismissed). Clarke’s is the 14th highest innings score in a Test match ever, and he could have continued: he was only 71 more runs from the highest total. But he decided his team had scored enough runs to beat the Indians without even having to bat again, so as the captain he decided to “declare.” It was more important to give his team as much time to take the remaining ten Indian wickets to win the game than to reach such a milestone. As we say, a very, very classy player.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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4 Responses to Explaining Cricket Stats: Part Four

  1. Ron Kaplan says:

    Re; the average, I am totally hopeless at math. So does that mean Clarke lost 2743 wickets? Seems mighty careless of him. I don’t think I’d trust him with my wicket if he’s lost that many. So the average is runs per wicket lost, not innings? Or is that another stat?

    • Russ says:

      Ron, Clarke had (to that point in his career) been dismissed 138 times (6153 runs/44.59 average). That means he was also “not out” when the team innings ended 41 times (left on base, you might say).

      If we were to actually create a cricket average like a baseball average: the probability of scoring 1 run (getting to 1st base) without being dismissed, then Clarke’s average would be 1 – 1/ (cricket average) or 0.978

      Obviously, once you get rid of strike-outs and compulsory running and give the batsman a flat plank, it becomes a lot easier to get a hit in cricket than baseball.

      [Aside, the “worst” test batsman is generally considered to be Chris Martin – average 2.38. In baseball terms that is still 0.579!]

    • Hello Ron,

      As Russ indicates in the below response, it is very hard directly to analogize cricket and baseball batting statistics. We said that Clarke is batting .351 to give readers an idea of Clarke’s relative skill and worth—which is, at the moment, that he is at the very top of his game.

  2. Ron Kaplan says:

    And as to the declaring: isn’t there the chance that India could have come up big and taken the match, or were their players that inferior? There’s a difference between running up the score and being agressive in the pursuit of victory.

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