Please welcome Bay 13’s newest contributor, Nick.
Two things you need to know about him.
One, he loves cricket stats.
Two, he is only 13 years old.
What comes to mind when I say “number 11 batsman?”
For most of you, it’s someone who is wracked with nerves before the start of their innings, panics at the sight of fast bowlers, is completely bamboozled by ordinary spinners, and generally spends longer walking to the crease than staying there.
I’m that sort of player.
I think of Ashton Agar’s 98 innings and 163 partnership with the legendary Phil Hughes at Trent Bridge in 2013.
Who, however, is the greatest #11 batsman of all time?
To work this out, I’m setting a benchmark of 30 Test innings batted.
Batting averages of all #11s to have batted at least 30 innings
Far and away, Nathan Lyon leads this. Trent Boult is the only one who even comes close. As such, the result will be restricted to only those with an average of 10 or more.
- WA Johnston
- JB Statham
- AA Donald
- RGD Willis
- I Sharma
- M Muralitharan
- AN Connolly
- JM Anderson
Another thing of importance for a number 11 is to be able to stay at the crease for a long time.
We worked out the average number of balls faced (a stat that, sadly, Cricinfo doesn’t keep for us). This did, however, lead to us having to disqualify Connolly, Statham, and Johnston, as their stats aren’t wholly complete.
So, the results for this:
- Willis: 18.35
- Anderson: 13.06
- Muralitharan: 8.16
- Lyon: 18.81
- Donald: 17.72
- Boult: 15.97
- Sharma: 12.97
We’re eliminating everyone below 15 for this, leaving us with Willis, Lyon, Donald, and Boult.
Next to consider is the tenth-wicket partnership.
A number 11 is very good if they can enable their partner some precious time at the crease.
So, the number of 50-run tenth wicket partnerships:
- Lyon: 3
- Willis: 4
- Donald: 4
- Boult: 5
Alas, our Aussie boy Nathan Lyon is eliminated. Now would be a good time to recap. Earning three points for being the best out of our final three, two points for second, and one for third, we get:
- TA Boult: 7
- RGD Willis: 6
- AA Donald: 6
We do, however, now need to come up with a final, decisive analysis. We will consider their performance compared to their fellow number 11’s and teammates in their careers.
We will work out the difference between (Note: 10 innings required for both categories):
- Them and the highest averaging #11 during their career.
- Them and the lowest averaging teammate during their career.
This leads to…
- Boult: -12.36 to other #11s, +13.61 to other New Zealanders, +1.25
- Willis: -18.09 to other #11s, +0.66 to other Englishmen, -17.43
- Donald: -3.73 to other #11s, +4.12 to other South Africans, +0.39
All hail Trent Boult, the greatest #11 of all time…
Boult’s career is far from finished, and that might lead to his stats slipping below Donald’s. And, if Nathan Lyon is involved in a 50 partnership with Josh Hazlewood, I’d have to include him in the analysis.
Be warned, Boult. There’s no safety at the top.