Sunday, August 3, 2014

The best of this Century...

Sachin Tendulkar has scored more runs than anyone in tests and in ODIs. Muralitharan has taken more wickets than anyone in tests and ODIs. Sir Donald Bradman has the highest ever average in test cricket.

Those records will go down in history as the top records in international cricket. It is also highly likely that those records will never be broken.

It is worthwhile, however, to see how all these records stack up in this century.

Do you know who is the highest run scorer in tests in this century? Who is the highest run scored in ODIs in this century? Who is the highest wicket taker?

Lets take a look.

These records are for all tests and ODIs played since 1st January 2000.

Leading Test Batsmen in this Century

Kumar Sangakkara sits firmly on top of this list. With everyone else among the top 10 leading run scorers in this century retired from test cricket, or nearing retirement, it will take some time before someone surpasses Sangakkara's run tally.

His compatriot, Mahela Jayawardene will play only two more tests, while Sehwag's test career seems well behind him. Chanderpaul is unlikely to overtake Sangakkara over the next year or two that he has left in him.

Even in terms of averages, Sangakkara is right up there with only Kallis slightly above him.

Sachin Tendulkar, the all time leading run scorer in test cricket, has the lowest average among the 10 leading test averages of this century.

What is interesting to note is that Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam Ul Haq, who were the two mainstays of Pakistan's middle order during the first decade of this century, have test averages that are among the top 5 of this century.

Leading ODI Batsmen in this Century

Just like Sachin Tendulkar leads the all time runs tally for tests and ODIs, Kumar Sangakkara is the leading run scorer in both tests and ODIs in this century.

In ODIs, King Sanga is well ahead of his peers with a 2,000 runs difference between him and the next best, which belongs to his team mate, Mahela Jayawardene.

Sangakkara is undoubtedly the best batsman to play the game in this century. He is well ahead of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, and Brian Lara.

In terms of averages, however, the Indian Captain and Vice Captain, have shown that they are in a league of their own in ODIs, with both averaging well above 50.

AB de Villiers is also right up there with them with an ODI average just very slightly below 50.

These three are undoubtedly the best ODI players in the game today, if not ever.

It is no surprise that all time greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis appear everywhere among the leading run scorers and among the leading averages in tests and ODIs, but it is interesting to note how their performances compare to their peers in this century.

Leading Test Bowlers in this Century

Muttiah Muralitharan, who is the all time leading wicket taker in test cricket, is also the leading wicket taker in this century, with a vast majority if his 800 test wickets coming in this century. He is well ahead of his peers 181 more test wickets than the next best tally.

His record in this century could well remain the record even by the end of the century, considering that only two bowlers have taken more wickets in their entire careers than Murali's 573 wickets in this century.

Even in terms of bowling averages, Muralitharan's record is impeccable, with only Glen McGrath slightly ahead of him.

It is interesting to note that Shoaib Akhtar is the only bowler with a strike rate of less than 40 in this century. Dale Steyn has a similar strike rate, but no one else comes even close to these two fast bowlers.

Leading ODI Bowlers in this Century

Brett Lee has just about done enough to displace Muralitharan from the top of the leading ODI wicket takers list in this century. What is interesting is that both Lee and Murali played the same number of ODI in this century, however Lee's impressive performance resulted in 23 more wickets than Murali.

Lee's strike rate is also quite impressive, and unmatched among his peers in this century.

In terms of ODI bowling averages, however, it is once again Glen McGrath who leads the table in this century. This just goes to show what an extraordinary bowler McGrath was in both tests and ODIs.

Shane Bond and Morne Morkel have similar ODI strike rates to Lee's in this century, with Bond's slightly better as well. But it is the mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis who has an even better strike rate than the three fast bowlers.

I find it extremely pleasing that it has been 9 years since Wasim Akram hung up his boots, yet no bowler has emerged in this century to displace him from the top 10 bowlers, in terms of best ODI averages, in this century!

With so many Sri Lankans among the leading batsmen and bowlers in this century, I am quite surprised that they have not won more games than they have this century. They have no doubt been one of the best teams having played in 5 ICC finals in this century, but with stalwarts like Sangakkara, Jayawardene, and Murali they should have done more than just that.

It will be interesting to see how these tables change as this century marches forward.

Kevin Pietersen has come and gone, but the likes of Alistair Cook, Michael Clarke, Hashim Amla, and AB De Villiers are still there and are threatening not only the records made in this century, but the records made in the history of cricket.

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