In cricket, a player's batting average is the total number of runs they have scored divided by the number of times they have been out, usually given to two decimal places. Since the number of runs a player scores and how often they get out are primarily measures of their own playing ability, and largely independent of their teammates, batting average is a good metric for an individual player's skill as a batter (although the practice of drawing comparisons between players on this basis is not without criticism[1]). The number is also simple to interpret intuitively. If all the batter's innings were completed (i.e. they were out every innings), this is the average number of runs they score per innings. If they did not complete all their innings (i.e. some innings they finished not out), this number is an estimate of the unknown average number of runs they score per innings.

Each player normally has several batting averages, with a different figure calculated for each type of match they play (first-class, one-day, Test matches, List A, T20, etc.), and a player's batting averages may be calculated for individual seasons or series, or at particular grounds, or against particular opponents, or across their whole career.

Batting average has been used to gauge cricket players' relative skills since the 18th century.

Values

International cricket career batting averages (as of 14 September 2019). Note Bradman's Test average of 99.94.
International cricket career batting averages (as of 14 September 2019). Note Bradman's Test average of 99.94.

Most players have career batting averages in the range of 20 to 40. This is also the desirable range for wicket-keepers, though some fall short and make up for it with keeping skill. Until a substantial increase in scores in the 21st century due to improved bats and smaller grounds among other factors, players who sustained an average above 50 through a career were considered exceptional, and before the development of the heavy roller in the 1870s (which allowed for a flatter, safer cricket pitch) an average of 25 was considered very good.[2]

Career records for batting average are usually subject to a minimum qualification of 20 innings played or completed, in order to exclude batsmen who have not played enough games for their skill to be reliably assessed. Under this qualification, the highest Test batting average belongs to Australia's Sir Donald Bradman, with 99.94. Given that a career batting average over 50 is exceptional, and that only 4 other players have averages over 60, this is an outstanding statistic. The fact that Bradman's average is so far above that of any other cricketer has led several statisticians to argue that, statistically at least, he was the greatest athlete in any sport.[3]

Disregarding this 20 innings qualification, the highest career test batting average is 112, by Andy Ganteaume, a Trinidadian Keeper-batsman, who was dismissed for 112 in his only test innings.[4] Amongst active players, Kurtis Patterson has the highest average, having scored 144 runs for the loss of one wicket in his two test innings, giving him a batting average of 144. He then fell out of the Australian squad due to a loss of form and injury.

Batting averages in One Day International (ODI) and T20 International (T20I) cricket tend to be lower than in Test cricket because of the need to score runs more quickly. Consequently, batters tend to play riskier strokes and less emphasis is placed on building an innings in order to amass a high individual score. It should also be remembered, especially in relation to the ODI and T20I histograms above, that there were no ODI or T20I matches when Bradman played.

Interpretation

If a batter has been dismissed in every single innings, then this statistic gives exactly the average number of runs they score per innings.

However, for a batter with one or more innings which finished not out, the true mean or average number of runs they score per innings is unknown as it is not known how many runs they would have scored if they could have completed all their not out innings. In this case, this statistic is an estimate of the average number of runs they score per innings. If their scores have a geometric distribution, then this statistic is the maximum likelihood estimate of their true unknown average.[5]

Batting averages can be strongly affected by the number of not outs. For example, Phil Tufnell, who was noted for his poor batting,[6] has an apparently respectable ODI average of 15 (from 20 games), despite a highest score of only 5 not out, as he scored an overall total of 15 runs from 10 innings, but was out only once.[7]

A batter who has not been dismissed in any of the innings over which their average is being calculated does not have a batting average, as division by zero does not give a result.[8]

Leading male batting averages

Test matches

Sir Donald Bradman

See also: Highest career batting averages in Tests

A batting average of above 50 is considered by many as a benchmark to distinguish between a good and a great batsman.[9] Highest male career batting averages in Test matches as follows:

Rank Batter Tests Innings No Runs High Score Average Test career dates
1 Australia Don Bradman 52 80 10 6996 334 99.94 1928–48
2 Australia Adam Voges 20 31 7 1485 269* 61.87 2015–16
3 South Africa RG Pollock 23 41 4 2256 274 60.97 1963–70
4 Cricket West Indies George Headley 22 40 4 2190 270* 60.83 1930–54
5 England Herbert Sutcliffe 54 84 9 4555 194 60.73 1924–35
6 Australia Steve Smith 87 154 18 8161 239 60.00 2010–present
7 England Eddie Paynter 20 31 5 1540 243 59.23 1931–39
8 England Ken Barrington 82 131 15 6806 256 58.67 1955–68
9 Cricket West Indies Everton Weekes 48 81 5 4455 207 58.61 1948–58
10 England Wally Hammond 85 140 16 7249 336* 58.45 1927–47

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 20 innings completed. * denotes not out. Last updated: 11 July 2022.

First-class

See also: Highest career batting averages in first-class cricket

Highest career batting averages in first-class cricket as follows:

Rank Batter Matches Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave First Class career dates
1 Australia Don Bradman 234 338 43 28,067 452* 95.14 1927–49
2 India Vijay Merchant 150 234 46 13,470 359* 71.64 1929–51
3 Cricket West Indies George Headley 103 164 22 9,921 344* 69.86 1927–54
4 India Ajay Sharma 129 166 16 10,120 259* 67.46 1984–2001
5 Australia Bill Ponsford 162 235 23 13,819 437 65.18 1920–34
6 Australia Bill Woodfull 174 245 39 13,388 284 64.99 1921–34
7 Sri Lanka Pathum Nissanka 37 65 8 3,674 217 64.45 2016–present
8 India Shantanu Sugwekar 85 122 18 6,563 299* 63.10 1987–2002
9 India K. C. Ibrahim 60 89 12 4,716 250 61.24 1938–50
10 India Vinod Kambli 129 181 14 9,965 262 59.67 1985-2007

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 50 innings completed, note this table has no requirement for minimum number of runs scored. * denotes not out. Last updated: 7 September 2021.

One Day Internationals

See also: Highest career batting averages in ODIs

Highest career batting averages in One Day International cricket as follows:

Rank Batter ODIs Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave ODI career dates
1 South Africa Rassie van der Dussen 35 29 10 1,365 129 71.84 2019–present
2 Netherlands Ryan ten Doeschate 33 32 9 1,541 119 67.00 2006–11
3 Pakistan Babar Azam 89 87 12 4,442 158 59.23 2015–present
4 India Virat Kohli 262 253 39 12,344 183 57.68 2008–present
5 Pakistan Imam-ul-Haq 52 52 6 2,520 151 54.78 2017–present
6 Australia Michael Bevan 232 196 67 6,912 108* 53.58 1994–2004
7 South Africa AB de Villiers 228 218 39 9,577 176 53.50 2005–18
8 England Jonathan Trott 68 65 10 2,819 137 51.25 2009–13
9 India MS Dhoni 350 297 84 10,773 183* 50.57 2004–19
10 England Joe Root 155 145 23 6,120 133* 50.16 2013–present

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 20 innings completed. * denotes not out. Last updated: 18 July 2022.

T20 Internationals

See also: Highest career batting averages in T20Is

Rank Batsmen T20Is Innings N.O. Runs Highest Ave T20I career dates
1 India Virat Kohli 104 96 27 3,584 122* 51.94 2010–present
2 Pakistan Muhammad Rizwan 56 45 12 1,662 104* 50.36 2015–present
3 Romania Ramesh Satheesan 23 21 4 775 92* 45.58 2016–present
4 Pakistan Babar Azam 74 69 10 2,686 122 45.52 2016–present
5 India Manish Pandey 39 33 17 709 79* 44.31 2015–2020
6 Canada Navneet Singh Dhaliwal 23 22 5 748 68* 44.00 2019–present
7 England Dawid Malan 36 35 5 1,239 103* 41.30 2017–2021
8 Netherlands Ryan ten Doeschate 24 23 10 553 59 41.00 2008–2021
9 India KL Rahul 56 52 7 1,831 110* 40.68 2015–2021
10 South Africa Rassie van der Dussen 37 33 8 1,009 94* 40.36 2018–present

Source: Cricinfo. Table shows players with at least 20 innings completed. * denotes not out. Last updated: 14 June 2022.

Leading female batting averages

Test matches

See also: List of women's Test cricket records § Individual records (batting)

One Day Internationals

See also: List of women's One Day International cricket records § Highest career average

T20 Internationals

See also: List of women's Twenty20 International records § Highest career average

Alternatives

Alternative measures of batting effectiveness have been developed, including:

Strike rate

Main article: Strike rate

Strike rate measures a different concept to batting average – how quickly the batsman scores (i.e. average number of runs from 100 balls) – so it does not supplant the role of batting average. It is used particularly in limited overs matches, where the speed at which a batter scores is more important than it is in first-class cricket. Strike rate may also be used to compare a player's ability to score runs against differing types of bowling (i.e. spin, fast bowling).

Player rankings

Main article: ICC Player Rankings

A system of player rankings was developed to produce a better indication of players' current standings than is provided by comparing their averages.

See also

References

  1. ^ Date, Kartikeya (29 May 2014). "The calculus of the batting average". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  2. ^ Rae, Simon (1998). W.G. Grace: A Life. London: Faber and Faber. p. 26. ISBN 0571178553.
  3. ^ "Sir Donald Bradman". Players and Officials. Cricinfo.com. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  4. ^ "Andy Ganteaume | West Indies Cricket | Cricket Players and Officials | ESPNcricinfo". statsguru. Cricinfo.com. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  5. ^ Das, S. (2011). "On Generalized Geometric Distributions: Application to Modeling Scores in Cricket and Improved Estimation of Batting Average in Light of Notout Innings". Social Science Research Network. SSRN 2117199.
  6. ^ "The Jack of all rabbits". 23 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Phil Tufnell". Cricinfo.
  8. ^ "Why did Stuart Law only play one Test for Australia?". Wisden. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2022. However, only 54 of those runs came in Australian Test whites, with Law making an unbeaten half-century in his only Test innings, meaning he finished his career without a Test average.
  9. ^ "A genuine matchwinner".