Was Viv Richards a better test match or one day international batsman?

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by Harsh Thakor, Oct 12, 2013.

In which form was Viv better?

  1. test

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  2. one day

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  3. equally good in both forms

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  1. Harsh Thakor

    Harsh Thakor Cricistani

    May 5, 2011
    Viv Richards established supremacy over great batting contemporaries like no batting giant after Bradman.At one stage he towered above the likes of Gavaskar or the Chappell brothers.His domination from 1976-81 in test cricket was 2nd best onbly to Bradman.

    However I think Viv made marginally a better impact in one day Internationals than test matches.Viv had the penchant to dominate the bowling from the word go which is so needed in big one day run chases.Viv's flamboyance and imagination was more suited to the limited overs game where he brilliantly combined destructive briliance with improvisation.Often the best bowlers were reduced to mere sheep.Viv was the master of a shot outside the offstump which he just stroked away for a 6.The 1979 world cup final was a tsetimony to thos when he scored a match-winning 138.

    Later his 153 n.o at Melbourne in the 1979-80 triangular series was a classic where he made Lillee and Thomson look like cattle fodder.He repeated this when scoring 189 n.o at Old Trafford.Viv resembled an Emperor marching in with a sword.One could not describe the audacity of Viv's batting which made the impact of a bomber destroying an airbase..He would pierce the most impregnable fields and punish the best of deliveries.Viv's domination in 3 succesive world cups,icluding topping the averagse twice proved he was the the one day batting champion.In 1979-80 he averaged over 85 in the triangular series while in 1981-82 inspite of an eye operation averaged over 57 runs.The best opposition was made to look like mere pawns scattered on a chessboard.

    In test matches the likes of Sunil Gavaskar or Greg Chappell could atleast be statistically on par with Viv but in the limited overs version Viv was on another planet.Above all Viv would champion the cause in big finals.It is ironic that it was Viv's very exit after scoring 33 that cost West Indies a 3rd successive world cup title.Viv's batting was even more decisive than the components of the lethal 4 -pronged pace attack.

    Viv's best one day International innings marginally better his best test innings.He was also a better match-winner in the shorter version.Overall I feel he made a bigger contribution to West Indies in O.D.I's.Thus I rate Viv Richards overall a better batsman in one day Internationals than in test matches.

    If I vote for the best ever West Indian batsmen then Viv Will win my vote combining tests and O.D.I.s.On the basis of mere test cricket Sobers or Lara would just nose ahead.

    Readers below I have posted a statistical analysis by S.Rajesh of cricinfo on Viv Richards batting in both forms of the game.

    Viv Richards in Tests
    Matches Innings Runs Average 100s 50s
    Overall 121 182 8540 50.23 24 45
    1974-1980 40 63 3629 60.48 11 16
    1981-1988 62 89 3933 47.38 12 19
    1989- 1991 19 30 978 36.22 1 10
    Viv Richards in World Series Cricket
    Matches Innings Runs Average 100 50
    14 25 1281 58.23 4 4
    Richards' best years were between 1976 and 1988. In 92 Tests during this period he scored 22 hundreds and was the only batsman to average more than 55 (among those who scored more than 4000). That was an era when several all-time greats were around - Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad are all listed in the table below - but Richards' average was marginally higher than theirs (though he obviously didn't have to face his own bowlers, who were easily the most fearsome attack during that period). He averaged more than 50 in 13 out of the 23 series he played during this period.

    Performance of top batsmen in Tests between 1976 and 1988 (Qual: 4000 runs)
    Batsman Matches Innings Runs Average 100 50
    Viv Richards 92 135 7091 55.39 22 34
    Greg Chappell 50 87 4233 54.97 13 18
    Javed Miandad 95 146 7033 54.94 19 35
    Allan Border 100 175 7670 52.17 23 35
    Sunil Gavaskar 108 180 8655 51.51 29 36
    Gordon Greenidge 83 139 6025 48.58 14 30
    The table below summarises Richards' career series averages. Of the 29 series he played, 14 times he averaged more than 50, and less than 30 on just seven occasions, most of them coming either during the early years or at the end.

    Viv Richards' series averages
    Total no. of series Ave > 70 Ave between 50-70 Ave between 40-50 Ave between 30-40 Ave < 30
    29 5 9 3 5 7
    Of the 24 Test hundreds he scored, 12 were in wins. Between 1974 and 1991, which is when Richards played his 121 Tests, only Greenidge scored more centuries in wins. Richards also averaged nearly 54 with six centuries in away wins. Unlike some batsmen who struggle to score in the last innings of Tests, his stats were remarkably consistent over the four innings of a match: his average in the first innings of matches was 53, while his average in the fourth innings was nearly 48, which represents one of the lowest variations among top batsmen. (Click here for his career summary.)

    Richards saved his best for England, against whom he scored 2869 runs at an average of over 62 with eight centuries. Among those who've scored at least 2000 runs against England, only Don Bradman has a higher average. Richards also leads the list of batsmen with the mosthundreds against India - he added seven more to the century he scored in his second Test. His most destructive knock against them, though, was arguably in Kingston in 1983, when he scored a rapid 61 off 36 balls to lead West Indies to an unlikely win; his fifty came off just 32 balls in that innings.

    Richards batted at various positions during his career but was at his best at the pivotal No. 3 spot. Of all the batsmen who've played a minimum of 50 innings in that position, only Bradman and Wally Hammond have a higher average.

    Best Test batsmen at No. 3 (Qual: 50 innings)
    Batsman Matches Innings Runs Average 100s 50s
    Don Bradman 40 56 5078 103.63 20 10
    Walter Hammond 37 52 3440 74.78 14 4
    Viv Richards 45 59 3508 61.54 12 14
    Brian Lara 45 66 3749 60.46 9 13
    Kumar Sangakkara 84 131 7355 60.28 22 31
    In the 1985-86 home series against England, which West Indies won 5-0, Richards smashed the fastest Test century, off just 56 balls, in Antigua, which remains the quickest in terms of balls faced. He stands fourth on the all-time list of batsmen with the most sixes in Tests.

    Viv Richards in One -Day Internationals

    Richards' style of batting suited one-day cricket perfectly. He set himself apart from the rest of the top batsmen of his era with his exceptionally quick scoring in a period where the average rate was much lower. The table below compares the strike rates of top batsmen between 1975 and 1991. Richards was by far the most dominant of the lot, and among players to have scored more than 2000 runs in ODIs, he still remains the only batsman to average more than 40 and possess a strike rate of over 90.

    Comparison of strike rates of top batsmen between 1975 and 1991 (Qual: 4000 runs)
    Batsman Matches Runs Average Strike rate % better than average SR for period (65.92)
    Viv Richards 187 6721 47.00 90.20 36.83
    Dean Jones 120 4690 48.85 75.07 13.88
    Allan Border 228 5766 31.68 70.26 6.58
    Javed Miandad 180 5795 41.69 68.16 3.39
    Gordon Greenidge 128 5134 45.03 64.92 -1.51
    Richards played 187 ODIs in all, but only 33 of those were in the West Indies. On the other hand, he played more than twice that number in Australia, where he scored 2769 runs in 73 matches. He was by far the finest overseas batsman in Australia between 1975 and 1991.

    ODI Performance of overseas batsmen in Australia (1975-1991)
    Player Matches Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s 50s
    Viv Richards 73 67 2769 44.66 84.54 3 24
    Desmond Haynes 76 75 2459 35.63 60.32 4 17
    Gordon Greenidge 43 43 1731 43.27 64.51 3 12
    John Wright 57 57 1541 27.51 53.78 0 12
    Javed Miandad 45 44 1390 33.90 59.40 0 10
    David Gower 42 41 1248 32.84 84.32 4 3
    Throughout his ODI career, Richards was the man for the big occasion. He scored a brilliant unbeaten 138 in the 1979 World Cup final, and played several crucial knocks on major occasions. His overall ODI record and performance in World Cups and finals is summarised below. He averages the highest among batsmen who have scored over 1000 runs in World Cup matches.

    Viv Richards' ODI record
    Matches Innings Runs Average 100 50
    Overall 187 167 6721 47.00 11 45
    World Cup 23 21 1013 63.31 3 5
    Australian tri-series 65 60 2563 46.60 3 22
    Tournament finals 18 17 836 55.73 1 9
    In the 1984 series against England, Richards made an extraordinary unbeaten 189 out of a total of 272, which is still the highest percentage contribution to a completed team innings. He shared a last-wicket stand of 106 with Michael Holding, which is a record for the 10th wicket. In fact, West Indies did not lose a single ODI when Richards scored a century.

    Below I am reposting an analysis of Anantha Narayana from cricinfo cordon on 15 one day batting giants.

    The year 2012 witnessed retirement of the two giants of ODI format. Two pillars of the game, neither of whom could ever be denied a place among the top four of the ODI game. They scored tons of runs and scored these in a magnificent manner, scored these when their team needed them and pulverised top-quality attacks. Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting played like kings and retired in style. Towards the end of the year another player retired from Test cricket, in the opinion of many, when he was still at the top. Unfortunately this also meant an exclusion from a farewell ODI series. However, this cannot deny the stellar contributions Michael Hussey made towards his team's successes. The retirement of these three giants has prompted me to do a very exhaustive analysis of the ODI batting giants. This is a two-part article due to the number of areas covered. At the end of this article I have outlined the second article so that reader requests can be incorporated wherever possible.

    How many batsmen do I include in this analysis and how do I decide on the specific batsmen? A very difficult task indeed. I have used a combination of numbers, the team achievements, their contributions to the ODI format in general and their team in particular. I have tried to ensure as wide a representation across countries and as broad-based representation across the years as possible. Over the past 40 odd years, 10 World Cups and 6 Champions Trophy tournaments have been held. Australia has won 6, West Indies 3, India 2.5, Sri Lanka 1.5 and Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand, one each. The selection of players reflects, to some extent, this level of success of their teams.

    Taking all above into consideration, I have selected following 15 batsmen, listed in chronological order. There may be minor disagreements among readers but there is no denying that these 15 represent the very cream of ODI batting. They have contributed over 130,000 runs, just short of 10% of the total runs scored in ODI matches. Most of these batsmen select themselves.

    Richards 1975 1991
    Miandad 1975 1996
    M Crowe 1982 1995
    M Waugh 1988 2002
    Tendulkar 1989 2012
    Jayasuriya 1989 2011
    Lara 1990 2007
    Inzamam 1991 2007
    A Flower 1992 2003
    Bevan 1994 2004
    Ponting 1995 2012
    Kallis 1996 2012 Active
    Gilchrist 1996 2008
    Pietersen 2004 2013 Active
    Dhoni 2004 2013 Active
    I included Hussey in the beginning but towards the end felt that Mark Waugh could not be ignored. Since both are among my favourite batsmen, it was a wrench to exclude either of them. Martin Crowe played in tough times and just about edged out Fleming. Jayasuriya transformed the game itself. Miandad and Inzamam selected themselves. So did Richards and Lara. The Tendulkar lily need not be gilded. Dhoni's finishing exploits are legendary giving him the edge ahead of Ganguly. Pietersen and Andy Flower are, by far, their respective country's best batsmen.

    My sincere apologies to Lloyd, Gayle, Haynes, Dean Jones, Hussey, Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Yousuf, de Silva, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Ganguly, Azharuddin, Sehwag, Graeme Smith, Gibbs, Fleming et al, and their supporters. Any of them would have graced this list with distinction. Shakib Al Hasan will certainly qualify into an allrounder's list but has not done enough in batting.

    In view of the number of tables and the huge amount of information, I have decided to do this mammoth analysis in two parts. The first part is based on available data and I would venture to say that most of this data could be extracted using statsguru. However, here it is available in a single place in easily understandable tables for the crème de la crème of ODI batsmen. The second part will be slightly different where I have done a lot of extraction and grouping for those tables. Many of the ideas in the second part are unique and will not be available anywhere. Readers would also have the opportunity to suggest any new tables which could be developed. I would be glad to create these if I can.

    Here is one important factor about the presentation of these tables. I have decided not to order the tables on any data field. It will invite unnecessary discussions. These are all great players and this exercise is not to determine who the best is. Hence all tables will be presented in strictly chronological order. The highlighting would be done in the commentary after the tables.

    Batsman Inngs NOs Runs Balls Avge S/R RpI Index
    Richards 167 24 6721 7581 47.00 88.7 40.2 35.7
    Miandad 218 41 7381 10979 41.70 67.2 33.9 22.8
    M Crowe 141 19 4704 6464 38.56 72.8 33.4 24.3
    M Waugh 236 20 8500 11063 39.35 76.8 36.0 27.7
    Tendulkar 452 41 18426 21371 44.83 86.2 40.8 35.1
    Jayasuriya 433 18 13430 14736 32.36 91.1 31.0 28.3
    Lara 289 32 10406 13056 40.49 79.7 36.0 28.7
    Inzamam 350 53 11739 15827 39.53 74.2 33.5 24.9
    Flower 208 16 6785 9144 35.34 74.2 32.6 24.2
    Bevan 196 67 6914 9299 53.60 74.4 35.3 26.2
    Ponting 365 39 13703 17067 42.03 80.3 37.5 30.1
    Kallis 307 53 11499 15756 45.27 73.0 37.5 27.3
    Gilchrist 279 11 9619 9923 35.89 96.9 34.5 33.4
    Pietersen 121 16 4369 5035 41.61 86.8 36.1 31.3
    Dhoni 196 56 7259 8228 51.85 88.2 37.0 32.7
    These are numbers which any cricket aficionado would reel off if woken up at 3am. The key columns here are RpI and the Index. The Batting average in ODIs is far more skewed than in Test matches because of the limited number of overs, non-completion of innings and high percentage of not-outs. The number of not-outs varies between 67 for the middle-order stalwart like Bevan to 18 for an attacking opener like Jayasuriya. Hence RpI (Runs per Innings) is a very important measure and reflects the relative positioning of batsmen far more accurately. Hence almost all these tables will have both Average and RpI.

    Now for the Index. This has been a favourite combination measure of mine over the past 15 years. Realizing the importance of Average/RpI and the Strike Rate, I had multiplied the two measures, thus giving them equal importance. It allows players to compensate shortcomings in one measure with higher level performances in the other. Earlier I used this Index based on Batting average but now I always use RpI in all Index calculations.

    The batting averages which stand out are Richards' 47.00, Bevan's 53.60 and Dhoni's 51.85. Jayasuriya's 90+ strike rate and the near-90 strike rate of Richards at 88.7 and Dhoni at 88.2 stand out. The 35+ Index values of Richards and Tendulkar sets them apart. Readers can note how Jayasuriya's low RpI value is partly compensated by the high strike rate. Similarly Kallis' average strike rate is offset by a good RpI value. The Index represents a clear value to the team: non-contextual of course.

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