Numbers Game

Did Sachin deserve to be part of a stronger Indian team in the 90s? A Statistical View

In the past, Sachin, rather Sachin’s fans have been subject to lot of criticism pertaining to the little master’s supposed inability to win matches despite scoring huge runs.

This notion has also partly led to the belief that The Master plays for his own personal records, rather than for the team.

Now I might be a bit naïve but isn’t it a bit harsh to make one single person solely responsible for the performance of a 11 member team ?

Don’t answer.

The question is meant to be rhetorical.

I find it appalling, how conveniently, the team’s performance, a fact of considerable importance, is ignored when doing such analysis.

Ponting, for example, largely played in an era when Australia were undisputed Champions of the game.

It was much likely that if Australia scored a high score due to great performance by Ponting, the score would be defended by Australia’s credible bowling. Sachin on the other hand, may not have shared the same company.

In this post, I’d attempt to do an unbiased analysis on how a player’s performance, in general has impacted his team’s performance, or the team’s chances of winning.

I shall be comparing Sachin’s performances with that of other batting greats that played around the same period as him.

Some new fancy terms:

Team Performance is the winning percentage of the team during the span in which the players played, thus an indicator of team strength.

Team performance when player scores a century is just the percentage of Centuries in a winning cause.

The generic team Performance is then compared to team performance when the player scores a century, and the increase so caused is calculated.
This increase serves as a much appropriate method in determining the player’s impact on his team’s performance, than just the team performance when player scores a century ( a.k.a Percentage of Centuries in a winning cause ).

Player Team Performance (TP) TP when player scores a 100 Increase in TP
Sachin Tendulkar (Ind) 51.11% 67.35% 31.78%
Ricky Ponting (Aus) 69.51% 82.76% 19.07%
Jacques kallis (SA) 63.73% 76.47% 20%
Brian Lara (WI) 46.67% 84.21% 80.45%
Sanath Jayasuriya (SL) 52.45% 85.71% 63.43%

As expected ( and widely reported ), Sachin does have the lowest percentage of Centuries for a winning cause. But when the increase is calculated, he is the third most efficient batsmen, only behind Lara and Jayasurya,that by a huge margin though.

But this method, though much more unswayed, is contingent on a player’s Batting style. Sachin, for example scored centuries more frequently than any other player on the list, having scored 49 centuries in 452 innings, Kallis on the other end has only scored 17 centuries in his 311 innings.

So, how do we compare the players in a more fair manner?

Answer: Statistics 101. Quantiles.

Let me define a greater than average performance as better 15% of the batsman’s innings.
Now, based on this Quantile score as a cutoff ( instead of the erstwhile century ) , the same procedure of comparing Team performance is undertaken.

Player Team Performance (TP) Cut off Score TP when player plays well Increase in TP
Sachin Tendulkar (Ind) 51.11% 89 65.22% 27.61%
Ricky Ponting (Aus) 69.51% 69 84.48% 21.55%
Jacques kallis (SA) 63.73% 79 69.57% 9.16%
Brian Lara (WI) 46.67% 72 72.09% 54.49%
Sanath Jayasuriya (SL) 52.45% 65 73.85% 40.8%

Though the rankings still remain same, a more consistent comparison can be made among the batsmen.

Based on the evidence presented, I feel its safe to say, without any fear of contradiction, that Sachin would be placed much higher on Cricket pundits’ lists of All Time ODI Greats, had he instead played from a more stronger ODI team during his career.


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