Monday, October 03, 2011

Michael Hussey and the Myth of Padding Averages

Disclaimer: This post will be entirely stats-based so anyone who finds them repulsive is better off not reading it.

Just how good is Michael Hussey? He isn't the most talked about batsman in world cricket and after a Bradmanesque start to his test career his test average has settled at a more human 53.26. Having played all his international cricket in an era which has seen an increase in averages and scoring rates, it is a very good but not a great number. What is amazing, though, is that this is still the tenth highest average among batsmen who have played 60 or more tests. Three of the batsmen above him  - Kallis, Sangakkara, Tendulkar - have played a lot of their cricket in the same era, so they have benefited just as much as Mr. Cricket. Infact, even with a very generous cut-off of 60 innings in the last 6 years, Hussey has the sixth best average. The 3 batsmen mentioned earlier are ahead of him, a testament to their calibre and their status in the pantheon of batting greats.

But this isn't what makes Hussey so good. It is his ability to seamlessly go from one format to another taking hardly any time to change his approach to batting based on the format that sets him apart from any cricketer of this generation. Among batsmen who have played atleast 160 ODIs, Hussey has the second best average and the eleventh best strike rate. The argument used against most batsmen who bat in the lower middle order is that they pad their averages by virtue of remaining not out. It is one of the most cliched excuses given against batsmen who time and again show the skill and composure to score quickly at the end of an innings and yet remain unbeaten. Historically, as well as since Hussey's debut, batsmen in the top 4 have averaged more than those batting from 5 to 7.


Batting Position
All-time
Innings
Average
Strike Rate
Not Outs
Openers
12666
32.3
70.17
4.74%
3-4
12413
33.85
71.69
10.36%
5-7
16526
26.61
75.13
19.56%
Batting Position
Since Hussey's Debut
Innings
Average
Strike Rate
Not Outs
Openers
4366
32.23
78.19
4.54%
3-4
4267
34.34
75.11
10.05%
5-7
5731
28.57
79.15
18.32%
Batting Position
Hussey's Numbers
Innings
Average
Strike Rate
Not Outs
Openers
2
36
69.23
50%
3-4
20
62
85.71
25%
5-7
113
48.51
88.91
30.97%

As one can see, the batting averages of batsmen in the top 4 have remained more or less same. However, there has been a considerable increase in their strike rates. It's not something unknown to us, most of the changes in playing conditions in ODI cricket have been to the benefit of batsmen. The fact that batsmen in the lower middle order pad their averages due to greater frequency of remaining unbeaten is also offset by the fact that they can't score as big as batsmen before them and at times have to sacrifice their wicket in trying to score quickly.

Finally, the shortest format of the game and once again Hussey is right up there in the list of batsmen. He has the third best average and fourth best strike rate among batsmen who have played 15 or more innings in T20 Internationals. What is amazing about this is he usually bats in the middle order for Australia (he has batted at 4 or below in 19 of his 20 T20 innings) while he usually opens the innings for Chennai Super Kings, for whom he averages 43.27 at a strike rate of 122.

I don't know how much longer Hussey is going to be around. Any talk of his place in the list of batting greats would be premature and should happen once he has retired. Until then, we can just marvel at his performance across all formats, and how on earth did 9 IPL teams allow Chennai to buy him for just $425,000.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:23 AM

    Good article. I'm not sure that people think he's padding his average now though, it would only be fans from the opposition showing some churlishness now. I think it's his concentration and confidence that allows him to move across formats. He's also an accelerator par excellence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. His adaptability is amazing. No other batsmen? Sanga?

    ReplyDelete
  3. A reply to you!

    http://blog.kridaya.com/2011/10/03/the-problem-with-michael-husseys-statistics/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11:46 PM

    Fantastic article. Hussey is an incredible batsman in Tests, ODIs and T20.

    He is one of the greats of the game.

    ReplyDelete