My friend Amogh told me about the Hirsch Index, which is a measure of productivity and impact of a scholar through a measure of his citations, and suggested that it could be used as a model for a measure for batting. If a scholar has a total of n publications, then his h-index such that he has produced h publications that have been cited at least h times. We decided to use this basic idea to develop such a score for Test batsmen.
A Test Batsman's H score is such that he has produced h innings of at least h runs. Suppose a batsman has played 10 Test innings and his scores in these innings are 8, 0, 72, 14, 45, 148, 30*, 3, 90 and 1. This sequence includes exactly 7 scores of at least 7, giving the batsman a H score of 7.
The longer a player plays (i.e., the more innings he plays), the higher his H score is likely to be. The H value has the property that it can never reduce. For example, if the batsmen in the above paragraph follows this sequence of scores with 6 consecutive innings between 0 and 3, his H score would still be 7 after those six consecutive failures. This aspect of the H index also illustrates the requirement that it be normalized. We normalize the H score by innings. If you see the chart below, Sir Donald Bradman has a H value of 44 in 80 innings, while Sachin Tendulkar has an H value of 76 in 302 innings.
While the H score grows as a batsman plays more innings, the H/Innings score typically declines. This is because of at least a couple of reasons. First, longer careers are more likely to have phases where a player is not in form. Secondly, and more pertinently, in order for Tendulkar to improve hi H score, he will need to score at least 76, while in order for Bradman to have improved his H score, his 81st innings (had he played it) would have had to be 45 for him to have a chance to improve his score. In Tendulkar's case, a single score of 77 would not guarantee an improvement in his H score. In order to improve hi H score, he would have to score at least 77 enough number of times to replace all the scores of 76 that make up his current H score.
As the final H-statistic, we propose to use H*H/Innings. This is a measure of consistency and quality without either privileging or penalizing a player for length of career (Contemporary players play Tests far more frequently than earlier generations). In order the illustrate how this might work, see the following charts which compare the H*H/Innings scores for Jacques Kallis (H = 66), Ricky Ponting (H = 67) and Rahul Dravid (H = 68).
This chart shows how the H*H/Innings score develops over a player's career. The chart below shows the development of each player's H score over consecutive 80 innings splits (in homage to Sir Donald Bradman, who ended his first and only 80 innings in Test Cricket with a H score of 44, unmatched by any player over the first 80 innings of his career). Ricky Ponting's best 80 innings split has a H score of 45. What this type of statistic shows is the trajectory of a player's career. Ponting's has had one extremely strong phase, while Kallis and Dravid have had steadier careers.
We propose that the H statistic ably replaces both the batting average as well as century and half-century counts in Test Cricket. Currently, Sachin Tendulkar's career would have to be summarized by saying that he has made 51 centuries and 65 half centuries, with an average of 55.44 in over 300 innings in Test Cricket. It would be far more complete to simply say that Tendulkar has a H score of 76 in over 300 Test innings.
The H score is also a much more reliable measure of the quality of a batsman in our view because it takes into consideration the frequency with which the first runs are scored in an innings, as opposed to batting average, which is often inflated by undefeated innings and big centuries in which the later runs are often made in easy batting conditions and on flat wickets.
|Top 50 Test batsmen of all time according to the H*H/Innings|
Here are some salient facts about the H2/Inns score:
The only player to have a H*H/Inns score over 24 at some point in his career is Sir Donald Bradman. As the chart shows, he also ended his career with a score over 24.
Only two players have had a H*H/Inns score over 23 at some point in their careers - Bradman, Sir Jack Hobbs in 1930, and Ken Barrington in 1965.
Only six players have broken 22 - Bradman, Hobbs, Barrington, Sunil Gavaskar (1979), Herbert Sutcliffe (1932) and Everton Weekes (1955).
Only seven have broken 21 - Michael Hussey (2008) joins the six mentioned above. In his first 45 innings in Test Cricket, Hussey reached at least 37, 37 times!
Only 11 players have had a H*H/Inns over 20 at some point in their careers - Bradman, Hobbs, Barrington, Gavaskar, Sutcliffe, Weekes, Tendulkar (2002), Lara (1997), Sir Len Hutton (1954) and Mohammad Yousuf (2007).
For comparison, our last chart shows the top 50 Test batsmen of all time as they stood on December 31, 2000. As in the adjoining chart, the players marked in yellow were active Test players at that date.
Please comment, critique and share this idea. Please also feel free to leave a comment and suggest a groups of players that you would like to see compared using this method.