A GOD OF CONSISTENCY: Rohan Kanhai, arguably the most underrated and the most consistent batsman in Test cricket history, failed to accumulate 20 runs or more in only eight (8) of his 79 Tests. Remarkable consistency but was he as prolific as his counterparts?
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In evaluating consistency in Test cricket, the sky is the limit as to the parameters to use and how to evaluate them. Over the years, cricket analysts have relied objectively on statistical parameters – batting average and standard deviation – for their evaluations while the average fan looks subjectively at how often his favorite batsman scores meaningful runs, including hundreds and fifties.
Both positions are juxtaposed; however, I attempted to capture the tenets of the cricket analyst and the average cricket fan in a top-10 list of the most consistently productive batsmen in Test cricket.
The careers of all batsmen who have scored 5,000 plus runs in Test cricket were inspected and their production rates for runs scored, centuries and fifty plus scores on a per match and per inning basis were evaluated. Unfortunately, this restriction of 5,000 plus runs in a career left out several batting juggernauts who will all remain nameless in consideration for my health and safety.
The list of batsmen who have scored 5,000 plus runs in Test cricket dwindled to 87 after my restriction. At the bottom of the list in terms of runs with 5,062 runs was my namesake, Zaheer Abbas, and at the top was the god of cricket with 15,921 runs, Sachin Tendulkar. Of those 87 batsmen, where did they rank in terms of runs, centuries and fifty plus scores per match and per inning? How consistent were they in all six categories?
Surprisingly, this list shrunk to ten when I looked at players who averaged a century in 4 matches or less (100pM), a century in 7 innings or less (100pI), a score of 50 plus in less than 2 matches (50+pM), and a score of 50 plus in less than 3 innings (50+pI). Interestingly, these ten players all averaged above 79 runs per match (RpM) and 47 runs per innings (RpI) for their careers. Of note, the batting averages of the players were not used in this analysis due to the limitations of batting averages and it not being a ‘true average’.
So, after all this mumbo jumbo, who made the top-10, and how did they rank amongst themselves?
10. Hashim Amla
At number ten, South African Hashim Amla is the only active player to make the list. Amla has scored 7,358 runs in 92 matches at an average of 51.45 with 25 centuries and 29 half centuries. Among the top-10, Amla ranks high in his century production per match and per inning, at sixth and fifth respectively. Amla is possibly the last of a dying breed of automatons of the ilk of Steve Waugh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Rahul Dravid.