Bradman Is the Best, Followed by Tendulkar, Claims IIM-C Study

Was Sachin Tendulkar as good as Don Bradman? A study by IIM-C answers your question.

2 min read
File photo of Don Bradman (L) and Sachin Tendulkar.

There has always been an issue when cricketing greats have been compared across eras. Was Sachin Tendulkar as good as Don Bradman? Is the number of centuries and the batting average the only way to compare a batsman’s performance?

The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C) have come up with a more accurate method to compare players across generations, according to Business Standard.

The research paper titled ‘Measuring batting consistency and comparing batting greats in Test cricket: Innovative applications of statistical tools’ worked on by IIM-C’s faculty members Sahadeb Sarkar and Anirban Banerjee delves into much more than just the runs scored in each innings.

Our study analyses batsmen’s performance in terms of five criteria, namely batting average, consistency or dependability, longevity, quality of runs scored and opposition diversity.
Sahadeb Sarkar, to the Business Standard

The research, which is based on the Weibull distribution model, has compared a group of batsmen through their technique. According to the study, Bradman (Australia) is at the top, followed by Sachin Tendulkar (India), Len Hutton (England), KF Barrington (England) and Jacques Kallis (South Africa).

The study found that Bradman is a better batsman when it comes to the quality of runs scored, while Tendulkar was consistent against varying oppositions.

Traditional methods of calculating a player’s batting average require assumptions that may not often be justified. Furthermore, a measure of batting consistency of a player is generally not provided, for example, by ICC or ESPN Cricinfo. Our work successfully addresses both of these issues using the Weibull distribution model for a select group of Test batsmen. It provides a reliable estimate of batting consistency which is statistically more rigorous than what is available in the existing literature. Batting average values produced by our statistically more rigorous method are different from those provided by the traditional method.

Through the study, Bradman’s average was said to be 109.42 instead of 99.94.

Sarkar explained how they came to the conclusion that Tendulkar is better than Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Kallis, when it came to facing tough teams. The professor of the operations management group said that the runs scored against teams which had a higher winning percentage were given more weight.

We also consider if the runs were scored at home or away, and how well the opposition fared in such situations. This is done through our criterion called ‘index for quality runs scored’. For example, runs scored against an Australian side weigh more than those scored against a Bangladesh or a Zimbabwe team.

However, the great Sir Vivian Richards has been ranked below average in most of the categories.

Close inspection indicates that quality runs scored by Richards, as measured by the overall composite performance index value of 0.89, appear to be below average. Further, compared to other star players in our study, Richards’ batting average appears to be high only against England in both home and away matches, and against New Zealand and India only in home matches.
Research Notes

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