How do you rate a batsman in cricket?
ICC’s algorithm for ranking and rating players might help to a certain level.
Still, what do you think could be the qualities that will term a batsman, great?
Consistency and Longevity might be those words you are looking for.
Some may say “the talent.” Few would argue the perfection of playing a classic shot will calibrate a batsman.
But I would say, a talent without execution cannot stand in cricket. Especially in a country like India, where the talented players are abundant, the execution and the consistency in contributing to the team’s victory are going to be the key.
Having said that, how do you value a batsman whether he is consistent enough or not?
There arrives – Batting Average!
That leads to our primary question of this blog –> What is considered a good batting average in cricket?
To be general, this table might answer the question for few.
But, sometimes in cricket, there is always more to it; Numbers might lie.
How can a batting average of a batsman batting at the top of the batting order be compared with someone who bats low?
Having said that, I would like to go a little deep to understand better.
Let me try and get into that format by format.
What is considered a Good Batting Average?
In Test cricket
Test cricket, as the name rightly suits, is a test of batsmen’s ability.
The temperament to bat long and the ability to adapt in different batting conditions are the signs of a great Test batsman.
Saurav Ganguly, the former Indian Captain, and Batsman, in his autobiography “A Century is not Enough,” portrayed one of his conversations with one of India’s greatest Test batsman – Sunil Gavaskar.
When asked about his marathon innings of six to seven hours in Test cricket, Gavaskar credited his visualization process for his long innings in Test Cricket. He wanted the Batsman to be in their zone that convinced the mind to play session after session.
Long story short, according to Gavaskar, the mind was the key. The mind and it’s intent to stay longer will keep a batsman prepared for a big hundred, every time he walks in to bat.
With that, I also don’t see the batting positions in Test cricket influencing a batsman’s role unless they bat too deep.
Otherwise, except the Openers, the other proper batsmen in the team get their own time to prove their mettle in a Test match.
A new pair of balls, along with the fresh bunch of bowlers, could make the Opener’s job in Test innings, a little tougher than the middle order.
On that note, here is the list of good batting average for a batsman in Test Cricket based on his batting position:
- For Openers = 45 – 50
- For No. 3 – No.5 = 50 – 55
- For No. 6 & 7 = 40-45
But few deny the physics of Test batting average. Don Bradman, for instance, had an average of 99.94 in Tests.
For more insanity, you can read this compilation of 5 Insane Test Cricket records of Don Bradman here!
And, among the current generation players, Steve Smith averages around 74.25, while batting at No.4 in Tests – the best at that position.
Now, coming back, here is the list of batsmen, who tops the chart for Test batting average at each position (minimum of 30 Inns)
Contrary to the fact above, with the format getting shorter, batsmen’s average comes down to the position at which they bat in ODIs.
In ODIs, it is the batting position, that will define the role of a batsman in the team. It is always essential to put the right players in the right spot to bring out the best of them.
Rohit Sharma’s career tells you the same story.
He was that talented kid when he made the debut for Team India. Everybody was talking about Rohit’s classic pulls and cover drives from his first-class career.
Guess what, he could only average under 25 in his first 3 years.
Only in his 4th year in international cricket, i.e., in 2010, he scored his maiden ODI century. He looked good for a short stint in 2011 and was back to his old self the next year by averaging only 12.92 in 13 innings he played in 2012. And then what happened is history!
Long story short, MS Dhoni asked Rohit Sharma to open the bat in ODIs, and now Rohit is arguably the best ODI Opener of the current times with 3 double-century scores.
Since 2013, Rohit Sharma’s batting average per year has not gone down below 50. In the last 2 years, Rohit Sharma has been averaging more than 70 in ODIs.
You can check on his mountainous growth in the last 6 years, here –> Rohit Sharma’s year by year ODI stats.
So what do you think is the good, or say, more than decent, batting average for a batsman in ODI cricket?
I came with these numbers by averaging the runs scored by the top 10 run-scorers at each position.
The Openers, along with the No. 3 batsman, will have the advantage of playing in power-play overs with the new ball coming nicely to bat. But still, I see their chances of staying not-out till the end are too low, which can directly affect their average.
I say – 40-45 would be the ideal number for them. 45-50 is better, and anything above 50 is excellent!
For No. 3,
Talking about the position where the best batsmen of the team bats, it should be ideally 50+, or at least around 50.
For No. 4,
No. 4 is a complicated position to bat. The Indian team knows it really well. They are yet to fix things here.
It is also tougher to rate a perfect average for players batting at No. 4.
The primary reason being, the role of the batsmen who bat at No.4 has changed drastically in the last 15 years.
Previously, it used to be an anchor role, but nowadays, it is more of someone who walks in at the overs of 35 to 40 and will have to accelerate the team’s scoring rate.
Ross Taylor and AB de Villiers of the current generation have been the perfect example of this, as both have an average of more than 50 at this position.
So we come up with the number as this,
- For players who played before 2005, it used to be 35-40 and
- For someone of this generation, it is 45-50.
For No. 5
When you bat at No. 5 in ODI, you hardly get a chance to build an innings and there will always be the pressure to accelerating the run-scoring rate.
So we keep the numbers to 35-40
MS Dhoni of India and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka are the two players who have been sensational in this position for a very long time. They both average at more than 50, even after batting at No.5 for more than 75 Innings.
For No. 6
The number, which MS Dhoni has made his own.
He is the only batsman to play more than 100 innings at No. 6 in ODI, and he averages above 45. His average around 46.33 in 126 Innings at this position.
You can read MSD’s Batting Stats by Batting Position here
Michael Bevan is the only batsman to have a better average than Dhoni – 56.72 in 87 innings.
Otherwise, the players in this position usually score at an average of 35-40.
For No. 7,
This is usually a position of an all-rounder, who gets to bat in almost 45-50th over the match.
The average for top players at this position has been at 25-30.
When it comes to T20 format, you can find most of the players, averaging between 30-40.
So we say 35-40, a good T20 batting average.
And anything above 40 is excellent.
Virat has once again been excellent with an average so close to 50 in T20 Internationals.
Statistically, I feel, Virat is the best batsman in T20 Cricket. Here’s the proof!
He is only behind Babar Azam of Pakistan in T20 Internationals, which has an average of 53 in 29 Innings.
Wrapping things up!
Considering the above facts about the average in cricket, we can say now, the batting average for a batsman, depends on
- the format
- the position at which the batsman bats
- the era of the batsman
Above all, the batting average is not something the batsmen will play for. It is purely a by-product of the performance and the consistency of the batsmen.
That is why I feel, it is one of the perfect merits to calibrate a player.
Few players start really well in their career to gain an advantage of high batting average, but as the time goes by, the batting average will catch up.
Only very few batsmen can carry on their batting average, with their excellence and temperament.
Here are few reference articles to continue reading on the Batting Average!
- Players with Batting Average more than 50 in both Test and ODI
- Virat Kohli’s Batting Average in ODI – Year by Year
- Ranking the Greatest Ever Non-Asian batsman in Asia
- Top 6 Batsmen with the Highest Batting Average against Australia
Thanks for Reading!