Extreme Performance in Test Cricket:
Batting v Bowling
One
difficulty in judging the most remarkable cricketing performances lies in the
different basis of batting and bowling figures. The challenge is to put batting
and bowling on the same scale, without using arbitrary conversion formulas or
weighting factors. It can be done.
The
difficulty begins with properly ranking bowling performances; we must take into
account both wickets taken and runs conceded. Take an example: while standard
lists would list a bowler taking 11 for 150 above a bowler taking 10 for 30,
most would agree that the latter is the more remarkable return. There is a way
to quantify this statistically, based on the observation that bowling returns
follow a ‘normal distribution’ or Bell Curve. For each specific number of
wickets, there is a separate Bell Curve, and the remarkable thing is that each
of the curves has much in common; at five wickets or above, they all peak at
110135 runs and have similar spreads or standard deviations of around 3540.
The difference is in the height of the curves, reflecting increasing rarity as
the number of wickets climbs.
Using these
observations, different bowling performances can be matched according to how
rare they are. For example, the analysis of all Tests since 1966 shows that the
following match returns are similar in terms of rarity: 7 for 35, 8 for 50, 9
for 65, 10 for 80, 11 for 100, 12 for 125, and 13 for 150+. These are equivalent,
in terms of rarity, to a batsman scoring about 225 runs in a match. [Note that taking
14 or more wickets, regardless of runs conceded, is always rarer than the
above, and will always have a rarity value higher than 225, as will a bowler
taking 13 wickets for less than 150 runs.]
By expanding
this analysis, to cover all performances, any bowling performance can be
matched with its batting equivalent, based on rarity value. The calculation can
be reduced to a statistical formula based on normal distributions. We can now
create a ranked table of extreme performances, putting batting and bowling on
the same scale. Batting performances are untouched, a simple total of runs
scored.
If we start
by looking at pure batting or bowling performances over a whole match, the list
is:
The Most Extreme Batting and Bowling Performances:
Test Cricket since 1966
Score 

456 
1.
GA Gooch 
333
& 123 
Eng v Ind,
Lord's 1990 

426 
2.
MA Taylor 
334*
& 92 
Aus v Pak, Peshawar (Niaz)
1998/99 

424 
3.
KC Sangakkara 
319
& 105 
SL
v Ban, Chittagong 2013/14 

414 
4.
CA Walsh 
13/55
(7/37 & 6/18) 
WI
v NZ, Wellington 1994/95 

400 
5.
BC Lara 
400* 
WI
v Eng, Antigua (St John's) 2004 

394 
6.
ND Hirwani 
16/136
(8/61 & 8/75) 
Ind v WI, Chennai (Chepauk)
1987/88 

393 
7.
RAL Massie 
16/137
(8/84 & 8/53) 
Aus v Eng,
Lord's 1972 

381 
8.
GD McGrath 
10/27
(6/17 & 4/10) 
Aus v WI, Brisbane ('Gabba')
2000/01 

380 
9.
GS Chappell 
247*
& 133 
Aus v NZ, Wellington 1973/74 

380 
10.
ML Hayden 
380 
Aus v Zim,
Perth (WACA) 2003/04 

378 
11.
DL Underwood 
13/71
(5/20 & 8/51) 
Eng v Pak, Lord's 1974 

375 
12.
BC Lara 
375 
WI
v Eng, Antigua (St John's) 1994 

374 
13.
DPMD Jayawardene 
374 
SL
v SAf, Colombo2 (SSC) 2006 

370 
14.
RJ Hadlee 
15/123
(9/52 & 6/71) 
NZ
v Aus, Brisbane ('Gabba')
1985/86 

362 
15. GC Smith 
277 & 85 
SAf v Eng, Birmingham (Edgbaston) 2003 






Batting performances
outnumber bowling in such lists because recognised batsmen outnumber bowlers. In
an extended list, the ratios of batting to bowling remains relatively steady
all the way down, even if looking at the Top One Thousand or more.
It must be
stressed that these are pure statistical assessments, with a minimum of
adjustment factors or arbitrary weightings. If you are looking for “The
Greatest”, there are many other factors to consider: too many, perhaps, for
now, but it might be feasible to build on these rankings by bringing in some of
these factors.
One
advantage of putting batting and bowling on the same scale is that allround
performance can now be included, simply by adding up the totals. The allround
list looks like this
Combined Score 

481 
1.
GA Gooch 
333
& 123, 1/26 
Eng v Ind,
Lord's 1990 
441 
2.
TM Dilshan 
162
& 143, 4/10 
SL
v Ban, Chittagong 2008/09 
432 
3.
IT Botham 
114,
6/58 & 7/48 
Eng v Ind,
Mumbai (Wankhede) 1979/80 
426 
4.
MA Taylor 
334*
& 92 
Aus v Pak, Peshawar (Niaz)
1998/99 
424 
5.
RJ Hadlee 
54,
9/52 & 6/71 
NZ
v Aus, Brisbane ('Gabba')
1985/86 
424 
6.
KC Sangakkara 
319
& 105 
SL
v Ban, Chittagong 2013/14 
414 
7.
CA Walsh 
7/37
& 6/18 
WI
v NZ, Wellington 1994/95 
404 
8.
ST Jayasuriya 
340,
3/45 
SL
v Ind, Colombo4 (RPS) 1997 
401 
9.
Mushtaq Mohammad 
201,
2/15 & 5/49 
Pak
v NZ, Dunedin 1972/73 
400 
10.
BC Lara 
400* 
WI
v Eng, Antigua (St John's) 2004 
395 
11.
ND Hirwani 
1,
8/61 & 8/75 
Ind v WI, Chennai (Chepauk)
1987/88 
393 
12.
RAL Massie 
0,
8/84 & 8/53 
Aus v Eng,
Lord's 1972 
390 
13.
DL Underwood 
12*,
5/20 & 8/51 
Eng v Pak, Lord's 1974 
388 
14.
M Muralitharan 
30,
7/155 & 9/65 
SL
v Eng, The Oval 1998 
382 
15.
GS Chappell 
247*
& 133, 0/27 
Aus v NZ, Wellington 1973/74 
381 
16.
GD McGrath 
0,
6/17 & 4/10 
Aus v WI, Brisbane ('Gabba')
2000/01 
380 
17.
Imran Khan 
39,
8/58 & 6/58 
Pak
v SL, Lahore (Gaddafi) 1981/82 
380 
18.
ML Hayden 
380 
Aus v Zim,
Perth (WACA) 2003/04 
377 
19.
GStA Sobers 
174,
5/41 & 3/39 
WI
v Eng, Leeds (Headingley)
1966 
375 
20.
BC Lara 
375 
WI
v Eng, Antigua (St John's) 1994 
For those
interested in earlier performances, the highest rating of all goes to Jim
Laker’s 19 for 90 at Old Trafford in 1956, equivalent to a score in the region
of 550. This, of course, is far beyond any recorded batting figure, but perhaps
this is fair enough, since Laker’s return also stands as an alltime record for
firstclass cricket, and no one else has taken more than 17 wickets in a
firstclass (11 a side) match.
Charles
Davis
September
2015