When Dravid is better than Tendulkar and Sehwag

Quite possibly our favourite cricketer at the minute

We went overboard with the Tour de France references last month, so we’ll avoid making one here, even though we want to.

Just as you can win the Vuelta a Espana without winning a single stage, so you can be considered the best batsman without being the best in every set of circumstances.

Sachin Tendulkar has a pretty solid claim to being the best batsman in the world because he’s scored plenty of runs in every country in every format of the game. That doesn’t mean he’s the best Indian batsman in seaming conditions though.

You’d have to go with Rahul Dravid, wouldn’t you? His cuts and deflections might not be so eye-catching as a booming six over cow corner, but each one demands exceptional skill, timing and judgement.

Virender Sehwag goes the opposite way – he is a worse batsman in seaming conditions. That isn’t to say that he becomes a bad batsman and it isn’t to say that he can’t score hundreds. It’s just to say he’s less likely to be successful. His method isn’t fundamentally flawed, it’s just not so well-suited to English conditions – it’s a question of degrees, not extremes.

Batting averages

Most of you know that we’ve little time for batting averages as evidence. They give a decent overview of a player, but the idea that Johnny Batstab is better than Micky Flingblade because he averages 1.3 more than him is a load of bollocks.

Averages reward certain players more than others. If you’re the kind of batsman who scores quickly and heavily on flat pitches but struggles against pace and swing, you’ll probably have a higher average than a guy who is best at getting runs in low scoring games.

Rahul Dravid’s career average of 53 is built on a reasonably eye-catching average of 50.75 in home conditions, but it is garnished by an average of 68.80 in England. There, he has scored six hundreds in 13 matches in what are frequently trying batting conditions – particularly for tourists.

In cycling terms, Dravid can hold his own in the time trials as well as the mountain stages.

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21 Appeals

  1. He should be the Man of the series.. Against a very good attack on lively pitches, he has been exceptional.
    Unfortunate way to get out though in his last knock in England

    • I was saying Kumar was India’s only real choice for their Man of the Series. I completely forgot Dravid had been the only batsman scoring runs for them. They probably deserve to share it.

  2. Mishra is batting like Johnny Hoogerland rides a bike – covered in cuts and bruises. Brave chap.

  3. Mishra looks like a man bound and determined to give himself another chance to bowl.

    Top man. India, mocked and derided from pillar to post, are starting to sort of maybe find their testicles a little bit.

    • King Cricket

      August 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      We’ve criticised at times, but some of the comments about India that we’ve read from writers we regard quite highly have been nothing short of gratuitous.

      It’s almost like people have forgotten what it’s like when their side is on the receiving end of a drubbing in a Test series.

    • King (in true England style I should call you “Kingy”) you’ve actually been quite fair overall. Which is nice. I have waited two decades plus to engage in a spot of England triumphalism and true to form, now that it’s here it sickens me a bit.

      There’s been some occasional good stuff from India in this series, and you can see the way to a real side, and a real *new* side, without the galacticos, in some of what we’ve seen. Kumar has been great. Mishra (who is just out) has shown bottle. Zaheer will be back, and Sehwag is comparatively young and he surely will bounce back. And Ishant has had no luck at all, though I would suggest if he wants catches to be held off his bowling that he put in a more even effort in the field himself and hold up his end of the bargain.

      Even Sreesanth has battled well at times.

      This match is going to be a great fight to the end.

  4. “Averages reward certain players more than others. If you’re the kind of batsman who scores quickly and heavily on flat pitches but struggles against pace and swing, you’ll probably have a higher average than a guy who is best at getting runs in low scoring games.”

    The problem with this outlook is that it assumes high and low scoring matches come with equal frequency. They don’t.

    The vast majority of India’s matches in particular come when scoring is easy. If Sehwag is the best at that – and it is his responsibility to score in his own era and on his own pitches – is he not a more useful player to his team?

    Now, I think Dravid’s a better batsman, and he’s been awesome in this series. But that’s only from the view of what he’s like to watch and how much respect you have for his batsmanship, rather than how much he services India overall.

    • King Cricket

      August 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      That’s our point, really. We’re not saying Dravid’s better than Sehwag because he can do X. We’re saying a batsman’s value waxes and wanes according to circumstance. Sometimes, Dravid is more useful.

      Flat pitches and seaming pitches don’t come around as often as each other. We’ve written previously about this. Arguably, the main quality you want from a Test batsman these days is the ability to cash in as much as possible when the going’s good.

      http://www.kingcricket.co.uk/what-use-is-a-flat-track-bully/2010/12/04/

  5. This series was pretty much decided when Zaheer limped off the field. Such a shame – I was really looking forward to some competitive test cricket after what seemed ages.

    That Rahul turned out to be the best Indian bat this series proves there’s some kind of karmic justice. Tendulkar’s a top guy, and I admire him a lot. But when you are approaching the end of your playing days, you cannot get away with crap choices. He chose to play sixty days of T20 cricket and sacrifice the WI tour – this has come back to bite him in the rear. If he had gotten the 100th 100 in WI, he might have been a different batsman this series, who knows?

    I have to disagree with your assessment of Sehwag though. He’s not as bad against the moving ball as people think he is. The rest (Dhoni, Raina et al) are shit. This is true.

    • King Cricket

      August 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      No. We knew we hadn’t emphasised that enough. We’re most definitely NOT saying that Sehwag is bad against the moving ball. We’re saying that because of his technique and the way he plays, the difference in conditions has more impact on him than it does on Dravid.

      Sehwag is worse against the moving ball. ‘Worse’ doesn’t mean ‘bad’ because he is exceptional ordinarily.

    • Are you saying Sehwag would make a better golfer than batsman?

  6. Can I be the first to nominate the entire England team for this year’s Lord Megachief of Gold

  7. VArun Aaron is the replacement for Ishant for the one-dayers. And he says “….it’s a lot of fun to hit people on the head.”

    I like this kid already.

    • That was probably the most promising part of the interview. I mean, a desire to bowl fast by itself can probably be easily pounded out of one by a mixture of coaching and Indian conditions, but a desire to hit people on the head is hopefully more resilient. Really, India needs more people who like hitting other people hard on the head.

    • King Cricket

      August 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

      On some Indian pitches, a more realistic aim would be to hit people hard on the shins.

  8. Ah yes, the ODIs. Roll on March.

    • You talk like some other form of cricket just happened. You must’ve been dreaming, surely.

  9. Can Dravid be Lord Megachief of Gold? May be for the month? This may be your last opportunity to give it to him, you really should use it well.

  10. Not sure if Dravid is better than Tendy on seaming pitches. tendulkar had a pretty awesome average against England before this series if am not wrong. Tendulkar is just going through a patch of poor form which started at the end of the IPL.

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