Does Indian batting lack in team effort while playing Australians at home?

Individual batting performances appear to matter more for India than Australia


The batting average for the top-scoring Indian batsman has always been greater than Australia’s top scoring batsman since the 1970s. Photo: Reuters
The batting average for the top-scoring Indian batsman has always been greater than Australia’s top scoring batsman since the 1970s. Photo: Reuters

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have jumped to top spot in International Cricket Council’s bowler rankings in Test matches after their six wicket hauls in the second India-Australia test.

On the other hand, India’s batsmen have disappointing with their performance in both tests so far, with wickets falling in heaps suddenly. Does Indian batting lack in team effort when we are playing Australia at home?

One useful way to look at it can be to track the share of runs scored by top-scoring batsman in a team’s total score. Mint has done these calculations for India’s overall test performances and tests against Australia in India. The ESPN Cricinfo database has been used to do this. For the present decade figures till 31 December 2016 have been taken into account.

Since the 1980s top-scoring batsman has had a larger contribution in team’s total score against Australia (playing in India) than India’s overall test record. The gap is highest in the present decade.

Between the two teams, it is India which is more dependent on star performers to put more runs on the board. Here too, the dependence gap is the highest since 1950s.

The top-scoring Indian batsmen for every decade from the 1950s onwards include Pankaj Roy, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Gundappa Viswanath, Ravi Shastri, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman and Murali Vijay in the current decade up to the end of last year. These are based on scores against Australia in India.

The top batsmen for Australia were R.N. Harvey and W.M. Lawry in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively. The top batsmen in subsequent decades were K.J. Hughes, Dean Jones, Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden and S.R. Watson.

The statistics also show that India’s team effort with the bat in the Pune and Bengaluru Tests is much worse than its average showing. The figure was 35% and 30% compared to an average of 17.25% for all home matches against Australia since January1, 2010.

To be sure, relative importance of top-scoring batsman for India does not mean whether the Indian batting star is necessarily a better performer compared to his Australian counterpart. This is so because, if a team were scoring lower runs given similar performance by a batsman, the batsman’s share would be much higher. However, India’s top-scoring batsmen seem to be unambiguously better than their Australian counterparts, in India-Australia test encounters in India. The batting average for the top-scoring Indian batsman has always been greater than Australia’s top scoring batsman since the 1970s.

Another evidence of this can be seen in the much longer test careers of Indian batsmen in comparison to Australia’s top-scoring batsmen in a given decade.

India loves its cricketing legends. All of us love to talk about V. V. S. Laxman’s historic 281 against the Australians in Eden Gardens. A more important question is whether Indian Test cricket can generate V. V. S. Laxmans on a more regular basis.

More From Livemint