Melbourne, Dec.20 : The current system of ranking the world's greatest cricket batsmen doesn't reflect players' real value to their teams, say researchers. They say there are better statistical methods for deciding who is a top player, but they all agree that Australian great Donald Bradman is still the best.
Currently, batsmen tend to be ranked according to the average number of runs per innings they achieved in the course of their career.
But according to Professor John Mangan, an economist from the University of Queensland, the system doesn't take into account player consistency, or how important their contributions were in individual games.
"Professional cricket, despite being the subject of numerous books and articles, has not received the same degree of statistical scrutiny as related sports such as baseball," he writes in an article submitted to the Journal of Sports Economics.
To address these shortfalls, Mangan and fellow economist Professor Vani Borooah, from the UK's University of Ulster suggested two other ways of working out the ranking of batsmen.
According to ABC Science online, first Mangan and Borooah used a method known as the "inequality analysis" to combine the batsmen's career average with their scoring consistency.
The researchers found this process shuffled the order of the top 50 test batsmen substantially.
For example, Douglas Jardine, England's captain during the controversial 1932-33 "Bodyline" tour of Australia, moved up 33 places to rank 14th. Former West Indian captain Brian Lara, on the other hand, dropped 20 places.
Next, for each batsman Mangan and Borooah calculated what percentage of the team total they contributed in each innings.
"Arguably, a century when the total score is 600, has less value compared to a half-century in an innings total of, say, 200," they write.
This tweak created quite a different top 50.
For example Eddie Paynter, an English batsman from the 1920s-40s, occupied 5th place on the list according to his average, but dropped to 42nd on the basis of his contribution to the team.
Mangan says he'd like to see these approaches used more widely in cricketing circles.
"There's so much data on cricket," he says. "Given technology it's very easy to get hold of these statistics."
"In any celestial judgement of batsmen ... many more criteria will be used to arrive at St. Peter's ranking," write Mangan and Borooah.
"But, till then, this paper offers a modest proposal for refining rankings based on batting averages. In so doing, one awe-inspiring fact stands out: whatever, the criterion used for ranking batsmen, Sir Donald Bradman is always numero uno." (ANI)
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