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Unread 09-07-2007, 09:30 PM   #1
The Very Best Batsmen Under Pressure
Dhondy
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Dhondy Dhondy is offline 09-07-2007, 09:30 PM
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The West Indies tour of Australia in the southern summer of 2005 was the first time in a generation that the visitors had been relegated to playing a three-match series. Twenty years ago, during the glory years of the Lloyd led Caribbean marauders, such a fate would have been unimaginable. It reflected the shifting balance of power in world cricket. Just under a year ago, Ricky Ponting had taken over the stewardship of the side from Steve Waugh, but not much else had changed, it seemed, with the inexorable Australians.

They had cakewalked the first two Tests a zillion-nothing, and here, in the heat of the third and final Test, a few minutes into the opening day, it seemed to the worldwide audience, rubbing the sleep off their eyes over a midnight cuppa, that the match was over even before it had properly begun.

Brett Lee, steaming in from the Cathedral end at the picturesque Adelaide Oval under slightly overcast skies, had despatched Wavell Hinds without so much as an apology. Three runs later, Dwayne Smith fell in similar fashion, edging a thunderbolt of an outswinger to Hayden at gully. In walked Brian Lara, dogged by poor form and bad umpiring decisions all series.

Sarwan fell, hooking the insatiable Lee to Symonds, his Achilles heel cruelly exposed, and West Indies had barely passed 50. Lara battled on, doggedly moving to 27 off 67 balls at lunch.

The dam burst after lunch. Lara launched into the spinners, ravaging them for 88 off a mere 107 deliveries. McGrath and Lee were treated with scant respect, and with stumps dawning, the genius went to his 200 by pulling the latter twice in front of square.

It was a magnificent display of defiance in the face of almost insurmountable odds, against a bowling attack of the highest class on their own turf. They would later christen Adelaide Oval as Lara’s lair. He averaged 94 there.

The next highest contribution to Lara’s 226 had been from Dwyane Bravo, with 34.

It was the last Test match that this prince among batsmen would play in Australia.

That wasn’t the only time Lara had turned the tables on the world champions from a seemingly hopeless situation. Nearly seven years ago, on a balmy day in Sabina Park, Kingston, coming in at 5 for 2, Lara had pulled, driven and cut the Australians to distraction with an ethereal 213. West Indies had been 56 for 4 in that match. They ended up on 431, and eventually won.

Innings like these make you wonder- how do the true greats of the game deliver in situations that call for blood and guts? How do they stare defeat and dishonour in the face and not blink while the rest are falling around them?

I decided to find out. Or rather Bheem did.

I asked him to reveal the batsmen who had the highest averages, coming in at worse than 20/1, 40/2, 60/3, or 80/4. Here’s his list.

Table 1. The Best Batsmen at <20/1 (minimum 1000 runs)

Batsman
Innings
Runs
Average
100s
50s
Bradman
23
1726
86.30
6
2
Barrington
20
1390
81.76
7
3
Headley
17
1024
68.27
4
3
Hammond
16
1042
65.13
4
1
Graveney
20
1076
63.29
2
3
Ponting
42
2343
61.67
8
10
Kanhai
40
2307
59.15
9
3
Sangakkara
44
2383
58.12
5
13
IVA Richards
25
1388
57.83
4
7
N Hussain
26
1229
55.86
4
6
IM Chappell
40
2033
54.95
7
8
Dexter
23
1193
54.23
2
9
Dravid
73
3523
53.38
7
18
Younis Khan
27
1373
52.81
6
2
AH Jones
29
1394
49.79
3
7
Lara
30
1423
49.07
2
8


Reads like a who’s who of cricket, doesn’t it? Bradman…Barrington…Headley…Hammond. (Bradman’s average drops by fully 14 points- he could hardly handle pressure, could he? ;-)

Ricky Ponting emerges as the batsman from the modern era who handles the pressure of batting at number three best, but you have to feel for poor Rahul Dravid down the table- he’s done it fully 73 times- more than anybody else in that list. While it underlines the value of Dravid to this Indian team, it also highlights the fact that on the relatively rare occasions that the Australian opening stand fails, Ricky Ponting stands like an unshakeable rock between the opposition and the middle order bats below him.

Let’s move on to the glamorous number four batsmen then.

Table 2. The Best Batsmen at < 40/2 (minimum 1000 runs)

Batsman
Innings
Runs
Average
100s
50s
Weekes
20
1205
63.42
5
5
Border
28
1579
63.16
6
6
Kallis
29
1351
54.04
5
5
Jayawardane
30
1387
53.35
4
4
Lara
67
3548
52.96
12
12
GS Chappell
30
1311
50.42
4
7
Tendulkar
62
2900
48.33
9
13
Inzamam
31
1453
46.87
6
6
MD Crowe
46
1958
46.62
8
6
N Hussain
25
1091
45.46
5
4

Again, an all time great shows the way- you don’t become one without being resolute. Look at the runner up though. When I published my decade-leaders, there was some dissent about how Border had got in ahead of the likes of Viv. That average of 63.2, coming in at the fall of two wickets for next to nothing, tells you why. A heart forged from steel, if ever there was one.

Kallis’ position at 3 is not unexpected. South Africa have him to thank for pulling them out of numerous tight spots. Jayawardane crops up rather unexpectedly at number four, but the rest of the table is ordinated entirely as expected.

A special mention for Nasser Hussain, the doughty ex-captain of England, who popped up on the last list as well. That’s over 50 innings he has played when his team was in crisis, and his average of around 50, fully 13 runs above his career mean, speaks volumes of the man’s determination and courage.

Much to the chagrin of Inzamam’s fans, he is roundly pipped by the rather unfairly maligned Tendulkar, who has had to deal with such situations twice as often as the Pakistani legend. Who handles pressure better? The stats tell their own story, and they rarely lie. By the same token, Brian Lara outshines his legend-in-arms, having played even more innings in strife, with a superior average to boot.

Let’s look at the number fives.

Table 3. The Best Batsmen at <60/3 (minimum 1000 runs)

Batsman
Innings
Runs
Average
100s
50s
S Waugh
37
1775
52.21
7
6
CL Hooper
25
1145
52.05
2
5
A Flower
36
1596
51.48
4
7
GP Thorpe
24
1028
51.40
5
4


Out of hundreds of batsmen that have steadied the rudder of their ship at three-down, only four emerge with distinction. Steve Waugh, Flower and Thorpe were all known for their nuggetyness, respected the world over for their love of battle, but the presence of Carl Hooper in that list is a real eye opener, this a man who was the epitome of wilting when the heat was on, despite his enormous, almost unbounded talent. How revealing can statistics be! What heady myths they shatter in such stark, unembellished figures!

Look how Waugh and Flower are united in the pantheon of greats- two men from teams at the opposite ends of the table. Would you commit the cardinal sin of over-analysing their merits, and disenfranchising one at the expense of the other on some contrived grounds because of the relative strength or weakness of the sides they featured in?

I hope not. Do take the table at its face value.

Let’s examine the four-downs.

Table 4. The Best Batsmen at <80/4 (minimum 500 runs)

Batsman
Innings
Runs
Average
100s
50s
Ponting
10
808
80.80
4
2
Chanderpaul
10
506
56.22
1
4
Greig
22
1074
51.14
4
4
JV Coney
16
571
47.58
1
3
Ranatunga
20
847
47.06
1
7
Botham
21
876
41.71
2
4
Border
18
556
37.07
1
4
McMillan
15
543
36.20
1
3


A pattern emerges. A list populated by street fighters- Chanderpaul, Greig, Coney, Ranatunga, Botham, Border, McMillan, raging against the dying of the light. Ponting, though, outshines them all at the head of the table, in the days when he batted down the order, with an average that towers over the rest, an astonishing four tons and two half centuries scored in ten innings.

Those are the figures. They show that the weakness or strength of your team is no bar to men appearing on such lists. It is fallacious to contend that if you play for a strong team such as Australia, you experience less pressure than say, if you turned out for India. Isn’t it instructive that three Australian captains- Bradman, Waugh and Ponting, appear at the head of those tables, and another, Border, is second only to the great Everton Weekes in the remaining one? These are men who shaped an entire side in their own image, inspired a generation, delivered their wards from self doubt through their own fearlessness when it came to the crunch. Let nobody doubt that those men made Australia the team they are today, and not the converse.

Neither did Nasser Hussain appear in two of those tables due to a statistical aberration. Remember the side he lifted from mediocrity with his sheer cussedness?

I apologize for not being able to choose between these men. I truly cannot separate the all-timers, the Bradman from the Weekes or Waugh. There is no doubt in my mind however that Ricky Ponting can stake his claim to the sobriquet of the greatest batsman of the modern era when it comes to performing under pressure. To head one list is tough, but to appear ahead of his contemporaries on two of them, one by a proverbial country mile, is a phenomenal achievement, one that doesn’t deserve to be belittled by fence sitting.

Thank you all for reading, and Bheem, as ever, for your sorcery with numbers.

©2007 - Indian Cricket Fans
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Last edited by Dhondy : 09-08-2007 at 12:09 AM. Reason: Minor modifications
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dial_100 (09-10-2007), Gambit (09-11-2007), Hiten. (02-10-2008), King (09-11-2007), Ram (09-10-2007), thevortex (03-10-2010), varun (09-08-2007)

Unread 09-07-2007, 11:37 PM   #2
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Really good one. Ponting really does stand out in the last list. Hussain also comes across as a surprise and the 73 innings of Dravid really goes to show the torrid time he has been given by his team's openers.

Would be fun to see a similar list for 5 and 6 down as well, to see where some of the best counterattacking wicketkeepers and allrounders stand. There are many instances replete with games being turned on their heads by the likes of Gilchrist, Kapil, and Botham.
Sachin Tendulkar is the number 1 batsman of his generation.

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"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure" - The first few sentences of "The Outsider" by Camus

Unread 09-07-2007, 11:46 PM   #3
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Thanks guys that was a real eye opener. I'm not a statistics buff and go with what I see but the statistics when presented this way rather than just throw some silly averages that vary in 1 or 2 points makes a lot of sense to me.

Something I want to bring to fore is the number of times Lara has played an innings of character. Although Rahul Dravid has done it 73 times Lara has in fact done it 97 times. 30 at no.3 and 67 at no.4

I think an article on the best ever opener (on similar lines i.e who carried the bat longer often and has the best average when the chips were down) and the best all rounder ever is in the order. I hope you guys can present that too. Thanks for enlightening us folks Dhondy and Bheem.

Unread 09-07-2007, 11:50 PM   #4
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Great read, will post my comments later. Completely agree with your conclusion on Punter.

Unread 09-07-2007, 11:54 PM   #5
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Unread 09-08-2007, 12:09 AM   #6
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Finally a good list with Dravid there.

Unread 09-08-2007, 02:29 AM   #7
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jeee Bheem.. how you doing all these?

Unread 09-08-2007, 03:52 AM   #8
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Excellent set of stats , presented in a VERY easy manner. I have never come across such diverse stat analysis before.

If i may add, since this entire article is about batsman handling pressure , I would be really interested in knowing the 1st innings- 2nd innings break up of the averages under same pre-conditions ( 20-1 , 40-2, 60-3). That will give us an idea of how well these batsman performed under even more higher levels of pressure, batting either setting up 4th innings target , or chasing a 4th innings target.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Inzamam might actually pip Sachin in the 2nd innings average, while Lara increases his lead even more.

And as pointed out in the article , Dravid deserves special mention for having delivered under pressure so often. Among the modern day batsman , he is as good as they come.

Last edited by Ram : 09-08-2007 at 03:55 AM.
"Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' & all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself & others. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, & all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you."

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Unread 09-08-2007, 04:02 AM   #9
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That we can do such a variety of stat analysis , from the best bowlers , to th best batsman , to who delivered when is just tribute to the great game of cricket. Its not merely a game between bat and ball , where only the skill of the player matters. It is so much a mind sport that many times , raw stats can give us the not-so-right picture about who belongs where. In this case , an analysis of best no.3s in world cricket merely on the basis of their cumulative career averages might have thrown an entirely different looking list.

But , it is pointed analysis like these that really help us put things in perspective , differentiating the men from the boys. I really appreciate Doc's inquisitiveness in coming up with such ideas and ofcourse , BB's massive help in providing these stats to him.
"Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' & all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself & others. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, & all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you."

--C. Hitchens

Unread 09-08-2007, 06:11 AM   #10
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request to the moderators. These sorts of stats are awesome and very hard to come by. However keeping them in the cricket discussion threads means they will get lost pretty soon. Couldn't there be a forum for just stats related articles? It would be easy to remember like the articles.

Unread 09-08-2007, 06:19 AM   #11
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chanakya, there is a stats articles link from the home page :

http://indiancricketfans.com/index.php?sid=11
Sachin Tendulkar is the number 1 batsman of his generation.

" In our society, a man who does not cry at his mother's funeral is liable to be condemned to death"
- Albert Camus in the foreward to "The Outsider"

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure" - The first few sentences of "The Outsider" by Camus

Unread 09-08-2007, 02:57 PM   #12
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Unread 09-08-2007, 04:48 PM   #13
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Nobel Prize>>> Bheem & Dhondy

Unread 09-09-2007, 03:01 AM   #14
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brilliant stats there mate... very informative

Unread 09-09-2007, 05:16 PM   #15
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Great stats. Ponting has surpassed my expectation, but then again he's playing for the best team, is under less pressure since he knows there are way too many matchwinners in his team imo.

BB is it possible to break down lara and srt's stats a bit more, home and away, pre and post 02, even with against great bowlers >25-30?
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Unread 09-09-2007, 05:19 PM   #16
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Unread 09-09-2007, 05:27 PM   #17
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Thanks
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Unread 09-10-2007, 06:52 AM   #18
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i think these stats are a bit absurd. especially in the matter of contemporary batsmen who have made it to the list. for instance, for every inning that ponting has flourished when his side is in torrid circumstances, there has been a michael hussey or an adam gilchrist to support him. whereas, lara except for a rare occassion or two has also had the services of a morton, hooper, chanderpaul or jacobs.

it seems absurd to try and rate test batsmen. i feel in a test match, batsmen or batting line ups deserve a more collective rating and jugement as rarely ever can the maverick sole batsman impact a match so signficantly that he alone is able to surge his team to victory.

its better to examine the more successful partenerships rather than individual batsmen. for instance, azhar, has often played second findle to a tendulkar or gaguly to tendulkar or dravid. yet if azhar or ganguly are dismissed cheap, they lose out the glorry of such numbers.

and finally, what about the countless innings when batsmen have played merculian innings when the side is at 200-6 but still a good 200 odd away from avoiding a follow on?

Unread 09-10-2007, 01:11 PM   #19
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Unread 09-10-2007, 01:43 PM   #20
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How did you like the stats that I sent you BB??

Can you complete it from 2002 till now for those 3 batsmen and also include Ponting under such criteria?

Last edited by Chandan : 09-11-2007 at 05:17 AM.

Unread 09-10-2007, 04:41 PM   #21
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Unread 09-10-2007, 07:51 PM   #22
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Unread 09-10-2007, 08:46 PM   #23
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I dont think the list tells us the whole story, but it does tell us a partial story on batting under pressure.

I dont think a batsman like Lara who has been playing for an eternally losing team like WI faces any pressure walking into bat, 90% of the time. This may sound ridiculous at first, but if you think about it, pressure goes up, only when the stakes go up, the expectations of the fans go up. No one expects WI to win anything. So where is the pressure ? For that matter, WI never puts itself in a situation to salvage a draw or a win in most tests. To me Tendulkar of the 90s & Lara post Amby-Walsh, knew before they walked in, that the match is a goner, esp, in foreign conditions. They just went on to play their normal cricket. However when the stakes and/or expectations were high, both of them have failed more often than not.

Last edited by Bumper : 09-10-2007 at 08:51 PM.

Unread 09-10-2007, 08:52 PM   #24
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Unread 09-10-2007, 09:01 PM   #25
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Bumper is right. Pressure is when you have your entire batting lineup upto 7 averaging more than 45 and have bowlers like McGrath, Warne, and Gillespie to bowl out the opposition. It's when you perform in those circumstances that your mettle shines through.
Sachin Tendulkar is the number 1 batsman of his generation.

" In our society, a man who does not cry at his mother's funeral is liable to be condemned to death"
- Albert Camus in the foreward to "The Outsider"

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure" - The first few sentences of "The Outsider" by Camus

Unread 09-10-2007, 09:02 PM   #26
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Unread 09-11-2007, 12:04 AM   #27
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Quote Originally Posted by shwetabh View Post
Bumper is right. Pressure is when you have your entire batting lineup upto 7 averaging more than 45 and have bowlers like McGrath, Warne, and Gillespie to bowl out the opposition. It's when you perform in those circumstances that your mettle shines through.
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Unread 09-11-2007, 12:06 AM   #28
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Quote Originally Posted by Bheembhai View Post
BCL & SRT comming at 4 with Team score < 40

Code:
 
 
Away
 
Batsman                   Runs  I No  Avg
SR Tendulkar              1979 39 1 52.08
BC Lara                   1903 42 0 45.31
 
Home :
 
BC Lara                   1645 25 0 65.80
SR Tendulkar               921 23 1 41.86
SRT is Better Away while BCL is very good at home.
Thought so. Not Lara's fault though when you have pitches like highways at home. Thanks a lot for the stats
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Unread 09-11-2007, 01:16 AM   #29
Bumper
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Quote Originally Posted by shwetabh View Post
Bumper is right. Pressure is when you have your entire batting lineup upto 7 averaging more than 45 and have bowlers like McGrath, Warne, and Gillespie to bowl out the opposition. It's when you perform in those circumstances that your mettle shines through.
Thats an oversimplistic conclusion though. Sarcastic as you may sound, there is MORE pressure on the Aussies to win just about everything (as expectations are high), than WI/BD!

Pressure is when u have something at stake. Is Ashraful under pressure to deliver against the Aussies when his team is 34/3 ? Will the morning newspapers write an obituary of him, if he fails ? Or is a Dravid or a Tendulkar under pressure when their team is 34/3 vs Pakistan, with the series on the line ? Pressure is high when the stakes are high, when expectations are high.

With nothing to lose, we have seen many batsmen react a whole lot differently. Didnt you bring up Yuvraj singh the other day as a test batsman who only plays well in lost causes ? Didnt u dismiss Yuvraj's 100 in Karachi the other day, as one that came in a lost cause ?

Last edited by Bumper : 09-11-2007 at 01:36 AM.

Unread 09-11-2007, 04:38 AM   #30
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With nothing to lose, we have seen many batsmen react a whole lot differently. Didnt you bring up Yuvraj singh the other day as a test batsman who only plays well in lost causes ? Didnt u dismiss Yuvraj's 100 in Karachi the other day, as one that came in a lost cause ?
And in the same post I mentioned that there is a difference between a losing cause and a lost cause.
Sachin Tendulkar is the number 1 batsman of his generation.

" In our society, a man who does not cry at his mother's funeral is liable to be condemned to death"
- Albert Camus in the foreward to "The Outsider"

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure" - The first few sentences of "The Outsider" by Camus

Unread 09-11-2007, 06:51 AM   #31
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Quote Originally Posted by shwetabh View Post
And in the same post I mentioned that there is a difference between a losing cause and a lost cause.
Not sure why or how the difference matters. Runs made in losing or lost causes are both same to me. In reality playing for weak teams, almost always ensures that the losing cause will end up being a lost cause. I dont see any intense pressure making runs in the so called "losing causes", when there is virtually nothing at stake.

Unread 09-11-2007, 04:19 PM   #32
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Runs made in losing or lost causes are both same to me
Fair enough, that's your opinion. For me a century scored while chasing 600 runs on the last two days is no where near a century scored while chasing a 300 run target even though the end result turns out to be a loss in both cases.
Sachin Tendulkar is the number 1 batsman of his generation.

" In our society, a man who does not cry at his mother's funeral is liable to be condemned to death"
- Albert Camus in the foreward to "The Outsider"

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure" - The first few sentences of "The Outsider" by Camus

Unread 09-12-2007, 10:06 PM   #33
Predator_05
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What are Gilchrist's figures at <150/5 ?
The subcontinent is home to THREE of the most famous teams in world cricket. These teams are, India, India 'A' and the Indian u19s.

Unread 09-12-2007, 10:28 PM   #34
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Unread 09-13-2007, 07:37 AM   #35
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Quote Originally Posted by Bheembhai View Post
Gilly batting at 7 ... comming in when score < 150

Code:
Batsman        Runs    Inngs  NotOut    Avrg    SR     100s    50s     Ducks       
AC Gilchrist   488    14    2    17.33    82.29    0    0    1
Shocking!!

I thought he was very good under pressure!!

Remember the match against Pak in Australia in '99 when Aussies had chased 369 runs in the 4th inning?? Gilly was the main man then along with Langer.

Unread 09-13-2007, 11:00 AM   #36
Gambit
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Quote Originally Posted by Bheembhai View Post
Gilly batting at 7 ... comming in when score < 150

Code:
Batsman        Runs    Inngs  NotOut    Avrg    SR     100s    50s     Ducks       
AC Gilchrist   488    14    2    17.33    82.29    0    0    1
I don't think that is correct. Gilly scored a 100 at Mumbai against India in the first test in 2001. He came in when Australia were 99/5.
Old Tamil Proverb - When there is no Peacock Turkey will be hailed as most beautiful.

Unread 09-13-2007, 12:33 PM   #37
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^ His first hundred was also from around 110/5. There seems to be a mistake in the above stats.
Sachin Tendulkar is the number 1 batsman of his generation.

" In our society, a man who does not cry at his mother's funeral is liable to be condemned to death"
- Albert Camus in the foreward to "The Outsider"

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure" - The first few sentences of "The Outsider" by Camus

Unread 09-13-2007, 03:13 PM   #38
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Unread 09-13-2007, 06:43 PM   #39
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Unread 09-13-2007, 07:26 PM   #40
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