Some Statistical Snippets from Don Bradmanís Career

 

(Dated Jan 2008)

 

50% of total

In the world of averages, Sir Donald Bradman remains unchallenged among batsmen. However, when it comes to ďmostsĒ in Test cricket, the sheer weight of runs from more frequent modern Tests has tended to swamp many of Bradmanís earlier records. He still hold a few records, though, like most double centuries (12). Bradman also scored over half of his sideís runs on five occasions, a tally equalled by Brian Lara, but still unsurpassed (completed team innings only). Lara did take one of Bradmanís long-standing records, that of most 150s in Tests, finishing his career with 19 to Bradmanís 18.

 

 

The 309

Bradmanís most legendary (and most discussed) innings is probably his 334 at Leeds in 1930, including 309 in one day. It is a something of a surprise to find that the innings was not quite as fast as expected, looking at the balls faced. In particular, the century before lunch on the first day, since emulated only once in Tests, took 146 balls, good scoring but far from extreme (almost all of Adam Gilchristís centuries are faster than this). Bradman benefited from a very fast over rate and an exceptional share of the strike in that session. Compare this to Virender Sehwagís 99* before lunch at St. Lucia in 2006, where the West Indies only managed to bowl 75 balls at Sehwag.

 

It is also a little surprising that Bradmanís fastest double century (in balls faced) was not at Leeds, but at the Oval in 1934. There he reached 200 off 240 balls, while in the earlier innings he required 260 balls. The 240 balls ranks third among Australians, behind Gilchrist (212) and Victor Trumper (233). It is possible that Bradman faced slightly fewer than 240 balls in his double-ton against the West Indies in 1930/31, but the exact number is unknown.

 

Bradmanís 150 in 150 minutes against the West Indies at the MCG ranks third all-time in minutes batted. Joe Darling reached 150 in 135 minuted in 1897/98, and Stand McCabeís fastest was 145 minutes in South Africa in 1935/36. Honourable mention should perhaps go to Leslie Ames, who scored 149 in 130 minutes against the West Indies in 1929/30.

 

Bradmanís fastest Test century was reached in 98 minutes against the hapless South African bowlers at Melbourne in 1931/32 (Bradman averaged 201.5 in that series). The number of balls faced is not known, but it was probably in the 100-110 range, similar to the Donís 102-minute century against the West Indies on the same ground the previous season (and which contained his fastest half-century, 45 minutes). His fastest 50, in balls faced, was 46 balls on the way to 169 in 1936/37, once again at the MCG.

 

 

150s in a row

Bradman converted seven centuries in a row into 150s between 1931 and 1937, if you ignore his unbeaten 103 at Sydney in 1932-33. Perhaps surprisingly, this has been exceeded, with Virender Sehwag making eight successful conversions in a row between 2003 and 2006. Gary Kirsten of South Africa also made seven in a row.

 

 

 

More runs than opponents

In their first ever Test against Australia, India copped a memorable drubbing from Bradman. At the Gabba in 1947/48, Bradman scored 185, while India was bowled out for 58 and 98, so losing to Bradman by an innings (in a manner of speaking). Len Hutton (in 1938) and Bobby Abel (in 1889) are the only other batsmen who, in a single innings, totally outscored their opponents (in a completed match).

 

 

200 in 2nd innings

It is curious that Bradman remained, for many years, the only Australian to make a Test double-century in the second innings of a match, a feat that he registered in consecutive Tests in 1936/37, firstly at Melbourne (270), then at Adelaide (212). This was finally emulated by Brad Hodge against South Africa in 2005/06. No fewer than 20 batsmen from other countries have done this.

 

 

Max difference between top and 2nd score (334)

Bradmanís 334 at Leeds outscored his best team mate (Kippax, 77) by 257 runs. This difference remains a record for a complete (all out) team innings.

 

 

Most runs in 2nd Test

Bradmanís failures in his first Test (18 and 1) and his last (0) are famous, but it is much less well-known that Bradman holds the Australian records for most runs in both his second Test and in his second-last Test. In his second Test he scored 191 runs (79 and 112 ) at the MCG in 1928, ahead ofRoss Edwardsí 183 at Nottingham in 1972, while his 206 runs at Leeds in 1948 (33 and 173*) in his second-last Test beats out Bill Ponsfordís 181 at the Oval in 1934. The most runs by any player in his second Test is 274 by Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan, and in a second-last Test, 296 by Eric Rowan of South Africa.

 

Neil Harvey, Bill Ponsford, and Stanley Jackson are the only other batsmen to score centuries in both their second Test and penultimate Test.

 

 

 

In his Test centuries, Don Bradman reached 150 more than twice as often as he fell short. This ratio represents a huge lead over any other player. The leaders (among those with 15 or more Test centuries) are

 

100s

Out 100-150

150+

Ratio

DG Bradman

29

7

18

2.571

WR Hammond

22

7

10

1.429

SR Waugh

32

10

14

1.400

 

 

A ďPrehistoricĒ one-day international?

Don Bradmanís career ended long before the first One-Day International. Yet Bradman did play in one-day internationals of a sort. Australian touring teams, on a number of occasions, played one-day games in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) while on the way to England: the earliest appears to be a one-day game against a Ceylonese representative team in Colombo in 1930, in which Don Bradman scored 20. Bradman also played in Colombo in 1948, on his last tour, and fell ill after playing in oppressive heat.

 

 

Workload

Todayís international cricketers are playing more than ever, and we are told that the workload seems to be getting too much for some players. But how does the amount of cricket played by todayís players compare to earlier eras?

 

Players like Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting have averaged around 100 days of cricket per year at their peak, although there are some signs that this may be decreasing. Mark Waugh averaged 114 days per year in the mid-1990s and Allan Border 108 days per year in the late-1980s. Don Bradman averaged about 60 days per year of first-class and Test cricket early in his career; in those days some years were much bigger than others. In the 1928/29 season, if you include minor cricket, Bradman played on 68 days, an amazing amount for a man holding down a full-time job. Remember also that interstate travel then was by steam train and international by ship. Todayís professionals will play about 40-60 days in an Australian season. Itís worth remembering also that a dayís playin Bradmanís time, especially in England, could mean 140 overs of cricket, whereas nowadays there are almost never more than 100 overs.

 

 

The Most Tenacious

An interesting but little-used statistic is ďballsbetween dismissalsĒ (BBD), the average number of balls a batsman can expect to face before getting out. Like so many other stats, Bradman is the all-time leader here, but his lead is surprisingly slim. Bradman has a BBD of 164 balls, only marginally ahead of Englandís Herbert Sutcliffe on 163. Mike Hussey has also started his career with a BBD over 150, and Sid Barnes (Aus), Bruce Mitchell (SAf) and George Headley (WI) also have BBDs over 150. The reason that Bradmanís lead here is so much smaller than his lead in batting average is that he scored so quickly, at 61 runs per 100 balls, especially high by the standards of his time. So while Sutcliffe was batting every bit as long as the Don, he was scoring far fewer runs in that time (37 runs per 100 balls).

 

 

Crowds

Complete crowd figures are now available for the Australian season of Tests and ODIs. With 813,000 watching the Tests, and 426,000 watching the ODIs, the total attendance of 1,239,000 is an all-time record, and only the second time the total has exceeded one million, the first being in 1982/83.

 

The Test figures surpassed the surge in interest of the mid-1970s, which peaked at 777,000 in six Tests in 1974/75. (This interest was demolished by Kerry Packer). However, this seasonís Tests total is not a record, falling short of the Bradmania-fuelled seasons of 1946/47 (847,000) and 1936/37 (949,000). In terms of intensity of public interest (in a much smaller population), that era will remain Australian cricketís highpoint, but the current season has surpassed them in terms of daily average crowds. Tests were longer back then, so the 1936/37 record was spread over 26 days, vs 22 for the current season. This seasonís daily average of 37,000 just edges out the 36,500 for 1936/37, and is a new all-time high.

 

 

 

Bradman remains the only Australian to score over 20 Test centuries without a score in the 90s; although Greg Chappell was never out in the 90s, he did make one score of 98 not out.

 

 

Run out credits

Bradman was known, especially in his younger days, as an athletic and canny cover fieldsman. In 1928/29, he became the only fieldsman to run out the equally canny Englishman Jack Hobbs. Hobbs returned the favour at a critical moment later in the series, and remained the only man to run Bradman out in a Test. Bradman went on to effect nine run outs in Tests, well short of Hobbsí record of (at least) 19, but few other non-keepers have exceeded Bradmanís haul without playing a huge number of Tests (Ricky Ponting, for example, has run out eleven batsmen in 114 Tests).

 

While he was run out only once, Bradman did see partners run out on six occasions, mostly in his youth. During his 299 not out at Adelaide in 1931/32, Alan Kippax was run out without facing a ball when Bradman was on 99, Bert Oldfield should have been run out when Bradman was on 199, and ĎPudí Thurlow was famously run out in his only Test innings, leaving Bradman on 299. Perhaps the Don drew some lessons from this; there were only two further run outs during the remainder of his career.

 

 

Most 4s (334 , ashes)

Bradman still holds the Australian record for most fours in a Test innings (46 at Leeds in 1930, although this was eclipsed by Matthew Haydenís 38 fours and 11 sixes in his record score). More surprisingly, Bradman once reached a century with only two boundaries, on the way to 144* at Nottingham in 1938. This equals the fewest by any Australian, alongside a Bill Woodfull century in 1931/32. The only batsman with fewer boundaries is Graham Thorpe of England, who reached a century with just one four in Pakistan in 2000.

 

 

Top score

Few Australian 400s

In Tests where Bradman played, prior to World War II, Australia only twice reached 400 without a significant contribution from Bradman. At Manchester in 1934, Australia scored 491 with Bradman making 30, and at Lordís in 1938, Australia scored 422 with Bradman out for 18.

 

 

Bradman strike hog

Itís funny how prejudices can colour our memories. Jack Fingleton, Test player and journalist, was often a critic of his contemporary Don Bradman. Among his complaints was a claim that Bradman was a strike hog. He wrote, in Batting from Memory, that ďit was not possible to have much of the strike while Bradman was there. He was such a fleet and superb runner between the wickets that he always managed to manipulate the strike.Ē The suggestion that a team mate plays selfishly is a serious allegation in the eyes of Australian cricketers.

 

Time for a reality check. Ball-by-ball Test records show that, during Fingletonís Test partnerships with Bradman (mostly in 1936-37) it was Fingleton who received over 58% of the strike to Bradmanís 42%. In their world-record sixth-wicket stand of 346 at Melbourne, Fingleton faced 412 of the 698 balls bowled (59%) to Bradmanís 286 balls. It was much the same story in their other partnerships.

 

The imbalance probably has more to do with Fingletonís very slow scoring (hence fewer strike-rotating singles) compared to Bradman, than with any conscious attempts to gather the strike by either player. It is possible that the Don sometimes attempted to manipulate the strike to restore some sort of balance, but if so, he was mostly unsuccessful.

 

Where records survive, Bradman averaged 51-52% of the strike with all partners. The slight excess above 50% can partly be put down to Bradmanís batting with tailenders, when he was within his rights to manipulate the strike. In his two great partnerships with Bill Ponsford in 1934 (388 at Leeds and 451 at the Oval) Bradman received 50.8% of the strike.

 

Barnes 233?

Sid Barnesí epic partnership with Bradman of 405 for the 5th wicket at Sydney in 1946 spanned 805 balls, which is the longest partnership by Australian batsmen by a margin of just one ball (ahead of the Bradman and Ponsford stand of 388 off 804 balls in 1934). When Bradman was finally out for 234, Barnes famously threw his wicket away next over when on the same score, saying later that he thought his innings would be remembered longer if his score was the same as Donís. Ironically, in a surviving scorebook of this Test, Barnesís scoring strokes add up to 233! But no worries. A close look at the bowling analyses of this score reveals a single to Barnes that was missed in the batting section. The 234 still stands.

 

Bradman dominated when in partnership. He was involved in 35 century partnerships during his Test career, and these partnerships averaged a remarkable 204 runs, 50 runs more than a typical century stand at the time. Every one of Bradmanís first ten Test century partnerships were worth more than 150 runs. Bradman dominated the scoring in nearly all of his century stands; despite only receiving about 49% of the strike (in century stands in Ashes Tests), he scored just over 60% of the runs off the bat. His scoring rate of 65 runs per 100 balls completely overshadowed his partners, who on average scored at 41 r/100 b. No one outscored Bradman in a major partnership until Trent Bridge in 1938, when Bill Brown scored 91 in a partnership of 172 with the Don.

 

 

Charles Davis