April 16, 1998
The slam-bang brigade
Prem Panicker & Anant Gaundalkar
Who are India's best one-day players?
The question assumes relevance given the inordinate number of limited overs internationals looming on the country's cricketing horizon.
More so since the itinerary includes several prestigious clashes -- the Independence Cup in the land of the world champions Sri Lanka, the five-game showdown in Toronto against traditional rivals Pakistan, the mini-World Cup involving all nine Test nations in Bangladesh... right through to the big one, the World Cup, 1999, in England.
There are no definite statements being made here. There is no attempt to rank the Indian players in order of merit, to advocate the case of one over the other.
What follows, rather, is a compilation of relevant data. Which incorporates peripheral stats that do not normally form part of a player's statistics -- the strike rate being the chief among them.
Here, it needs noting that while the overall strikerate takes into account all innings played by the player concerned, the highest and lowest strike rates are computed only on the basis of innings in excess of 50 runs.
The reason is to strike a balance, to ensure that the stats do not get skewed by the kind of innings a player could play coming in, say, with two overs left to go, where he throws his bat blindly at everything and strikes at around 200%. True, such innings have value in the context of the particular game. However, they do not give a true picture of a batsman's overall striking ability. And hence the emphasis on long innings when it comes to computing the highest, and lowest, strike rates.
Even at a cursory glance, the table that follows presents points that could lead to endless debate.
For instance, judged entirely on the basis of strike rate, would Robin Singh rate as our most consistent one day batsman?
Judged in terms of aggregate, average and strike rates, how does one justify a Navjot Singh Sidhu being included over a Rahul Dravid?
If Sachin Tendulkar is India's most consistent one day player -- as his 50s and 100s, and his aggregate, appear to indicate, then how come the likes of Saurav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin has the better average? And leading from that, which type of batsman gets the palm -- the guy who produces more big innings than any other, or the guy who consistently scores in the mid-forties?
In the interests of helping the fan understand and analyse team selection, we plan, shortly, to expand this table to incorporate details of leading domestic performers. True, it would be ridiculous to compare the averages and strike rates of international players, facing international bowling sides, with those of domestic players belting the daylights out of club class bowling -- but at the least, we hope, the expanded table will give insights into the 'best of the rest', a clue to India's bench strength.
Meanwhile, we present the first half of the table -- India's top eight one day players, with statistics from January 1, 1996 upto April 13, 1998, till the start of the recent Pepsi Cup tri-series in India.
Sachin Tendulkar :
Saurav Ganguly :
Navjot Singh Sidhu :
Mohammad Azharuddin :
Ajay Jadeja :
Rahul Dravid :
Robin Singh :
Vinod Kambli :