Recalculating batting averages

Vani Borooah, an economist at the University of Ulster, writes to call my attention to his analysis of batting averages:

Batsmen in cricket are invariably ranked according to their batting average. Such a ranking suffers from two defects. First, it does not take into account the consistency of scores across innings: a batsman might have a high career average but with low scores interspersed with high scores; another might have a lower average but with much less variation in his scores. Second, it pays no attention to the “value” of the player’s runs to the team: arguably, a century, when the total score is 600, has less value compared to a half-century in an innings total of, say, 200. The purpose of this paper is to suggest new ways of computing batting averages which, by addressing these deficiencies, complement the existing method and present a more complete picture of batsmen’s performance. Based on these “new” averages, the paper offers a “new” ranking of the top 50 batsmen in the history of Test Cricket.

For serious cricket enthusiasts only, I suggest. The rest of need only know the bottom line: there is no plausible method of ranking batsmen that does not put Sir Donald Bradman at number one.

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Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.