Saturday, January 5, 2008

How Good Is Mike Hussey?

In his first 32 innings as a Test cricketer, Australian batsman Michael Hussey has notched up a batting average of 79.00. Of all the Test cricketers who have played at least the same number of innings, only Sir Donald Bradman had a higher average, and Hussey’s average is around 20 runs better than the No. 3 player, South Africa’s Graeme Pollock. So does this mean, the Don aside, Hussey is a 33 per cent better batsman than anyone else?

Well, maybe. But if we take the view that Hussey’s first 32 innings represent the peak of his Test career, then his record is not as unusual as it may first seem. Below are the best 32-inning stretches of other star Australian batsmen of recent times.




Adam Gilchrist





Matthew Hayden





Michael Hussey





Ricky Ponting





Steve Waugh





These numbers support the view that Hussey’s excellent record may be because we have only seen the peak of his career to date. All of these batsmen were of a similar age to Hussey when they hit their peak form – Ponting being the youngest at 27-29 years of age, and Hussey and Hayden being the oldest at 30-32 years of age. In any case, the batsmen listed above are not bad company to be in. If Hussey can continue to live up to their standards, he is well on the way to being considered one of the greatest batsmen in the history of Test cricket.


Anonymous said...

Nice perspective.
There's no denying he is an excellent player, but his average has also been boosted by Australia's dominance. Most of his not-outs have come in declarations and successful run chases after Hayden, Ponting and Langer/Jaques had ground down the opposition bowlers. He's opened the innings 7 times in Tests and his average as an opener is 57.83 (which, of course, is still very good). He has only played 5 matches overseas, with two of those in Bangladesh (where he scored his highest innings to date, 185), and his away average is around 70 (again still very good). The point being that a batting average, whilst a useful tool, doesn't tell you the whole story.

Shane Bond, who will probably not play again for New Zealand has, the best strike rate and 3rd best average in ODI's and the 4th best strike rate in Tests and an average better than players such as Shane Warne, Wasim Akram and Courtney Walsh, and very similar to Alan Donald and Glenn McGrath's.

But no-one serious cricket writer will ever mention him as ranking amongst them, chiefly because he only played 17 tests. Only time will tell whether Hussey will earn a place amongst the greats.

Anonymous said...

The case in ODI's is even more extreme where he has been not out in 40.6% of his innings to date.

A runs/innings calculation gives him an 'average' of around 33, whilst the same calculation done to Kevin Pietersen (the 3rd in the ODI list), who has very regularly had to come into the match with England losing early wickets cheaply, brings his 'average' down to around 39. Of course, this calculation is not a fair reflection of a batsman's skill and is probably more misleading than the real average calculation. Once again, the point I am making is that an average is just a crude calculation and cannot possible tell the whole story about 'how good a batsman is'.

Incidentally, the man with the 2nd highest ODI average is the man who Hussey replaced in the Australian ODI set-up, Michael Bevan (not out around 35% of the time in his 196 innings).