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As Sachin Tendulkar approaches 40, history and stats are stacked against him. But don’t count him out yet!

As Sachin Tendulkar approaches 40, history and stats are stacked against him

Sachin Tendulkar… write him off at your own risk © Getty Images

As Sachin Tendulkar approaches his 40th birthday, voices clamouring for his retirement grow louder. Arunabha Sengupta crunches numbers to find that although most age-related statistics extracted from history of the game are discouraging, one can still hope to master to come good.

 

As Sachin Tendulkar marches ahead towards his 40th birthday and voices demanding his retirement row louder, we find history staunchly against him.

 

Very few batsmen have played beyond 40 with success, and the handful who managed to beat the fetters of age mostly belonged to the leisurely days long gone by.

 

Jack Hobbs did play almost half his career after the dreaded calendar milestone, and managed to increase upon his already staggering average. He played all his cricket between 1908 and 1930 before retiring from Tests at the age of 48.

 

Patsy Hendren also significantly improved his run-making post his 40th birthday, but he also hailed from the 1920s and 1930s.

 

The most recent batsmen who have had relatively long career tails after 40 have been Geoff Boycott and Graham Gooch. And while Boycott performed decently enough and Gooch did not quite disgrace himself, their figures after forty took quite a beating when compared to their respective days of glory. The same holds true for Bobby Simpson who was rushed back to take charge of the Australian team during the Kerry Packer days.

 

In this context, the last batsman to have matched or bettered his figures after turning 40 was Tom Graveney, and he played his last Test in 1969.

 

Clive Lloyd and Ray Illingworth did improve their showing, but Lloyd played only five matches after his 40th birthday and Illingworth cannot be really classified as a batsman.

 

Batsmen with most runs after 40

Before 40

After 40

Period

M

Runs

Ave

100

50

Period

M

Runs

Ave

100

50

JB Hobbs (Eng)

1908-1921

34

2970

56.03

7

17

1924-1930

27

2440

58.09

8

11

EH Hendren (Eng)

1920-1929

27

1624

45.11

4

9

1929-1935

24

1901

50.02

3

12

TW Graveney (Eng)

1951-1967

60

3639

44.37

8

14

1967-1969

19

1243

44.39

3

6

G Boycott (Eng)

1964-1980

94

7115

49.40

19

38

1981-1982

14

999

38.42

3

4

EAB Rowan (SA)

1935-1949

16

1046

38.74

1

6

1949-1951

10

919

51.05

2

6

HW Taylor (SA)

1912-1928

29

2093

41.03

5

12

1929-1932

13

843

40.14

2

5

GA Gooch (Eng)

1975-1993

105

8102

43.79

19

43

1993-1995

13

798

33.25

1

3

RB Simpson (Aus)

1957-1968

52

4131

48.60

8

24

1977-1978

10

738

38.84

2

3

AW Nourse (SA)

1902-1914

32

1512

28.52

0

11

1921-1924

13

722

32.81

1

4

FE Woolley (Eng)

1909-1926

52

2562

35.09

4

19

1929-1934

12

721

40.05

1

4

WW Armstrong (Aus)

1902-1912

40

2247

35.66

3

7

1920-1921

10

616

56.00

3

1

WG Grace (Eng)

1880-1888

9

503

38.69

2

0

1888-1899

13

595

28.33

0

5

FR Brown (Eng)

1931-1950

10

254

21.16

0

2

1950-1953

12

480

28.23

0

3

R Illingworth (Eng)

1958-1971

50

1434

22.76

2

3

1972-1973

11

402

25.12

0

2

B Sutcliffe (NZ)

1947-1959

34

2335

40.96

4

12

1965-1965

8

392

35.63

1

3

WR Hammond (Eng)

1927-1939

77

6883

61.45

22

22

1946-1947

8

366

30.50

0

2

W Rhodes (Eng)

1899-1914

47

1965

32.21

2

10

1920-1930

11

360

22.50

0

1

CH Lloyd (WI)

1966-1984

105

7159

46.48

18

37

1984-1985

5

356

50.85

1

2

W Bardsley (Aus)

1909-1921

33

2150

42.15

5

14

1924-1926

8

319

31.90

1

0

P Holmes (Eng)

1926-1926

1

38

19

0

0

1927-1932

6

319

29.00

0

4

CG Macartney (Aus)

1907-1926

32

1830

38.93

5

9

1926-1926

3

301

75.25

2

0

AD Nourse (SA)

1935-1950

29

2659

56.57

8

14

1951-1951

5

301

37.62

1

0

 

On the bowling front there have been some quadragenarian successes, but there is no one with 100 or more wickets in that phase. Clarrie Grimmett leads the list with 96 followed by countryman Bert Ironmonger with 74. And, of course, Sydney Barnes knocked over 49 batsmen in just four matches. All these were again in the distant past, when cricket was relaxed and demands on the body limited. The last man to capture more than 20 wickets past 40 was Eddie Hemmings with 27 scalps at a rather expensive 35.14.

 

40-plus bowlers with more than 20 wickets

 

Bowler

Period

M

Wkts

Ave

Strike Rate

CV Grimmett (Aus)

1931-1936

16

96

21.11

68.4

H Ironmonger (Aus)

1928-1933

14

74

17.97

63.4

SF Barnes (Eng)

1913-1914

4

49

10.93

27.6

AP Freeman (Eng)

1928-1929

6

44

19.29

44.7

LR Gibbs (WI)

1974-1976

13

44

29.90

94.0

FR Brown (Eng)

1950-1953

12

29

26.34

66.4

EE Hemmings (Eng)

1989-1991

8

27

35.14

77.9

W Rhodes (Eng)

1920-1930

11

22

36.81

109.0

GWA Chubb (SA)

1951-1951

5

21

27.47

67.8

 

 

So, history is stacked against Sachin Tendulkar as he moves towards his fourth decade, and the cricket calendar gets more and more demanding. But then, he is known for achievements beyond the ken and imagination of ordinary mortals. No one had scored or contemplated 15,000 Test runs or 51 Test hundreds before he climbed those summits and planted his proud flag. One hundred international centuries were not even glimpsed in wildest dreams. So, all the above statistics taken together is nowhere near enough reason to write him off.

 

In fact, there is one peculiar fact that he can take heart from. If we compute age wise averages of all batsmen taken together, the highest figure is found to be achieved by 39 year olds. While it may sound implausible, we must remember that to be still batting for the country after 39, one has to be a Jack Hobbs or a Don Bradman or a Sachin Tendulkar.

 

The table below lists the age-wise runs, averages, centuries and fifties of all the Test cricketers taken together. As we can see, the highest average is achieved by 39-year-olds.

 

Age

Inn

Runs

Ave

100

50

14

1

27

27.00

0

0

15

2

18

9.00

0

0

16

38

492

16.40

0

3

17

128

2238

21.31

4

9

18

404

6545

19.36

6

30

19

757

14184

21.72

19

63

20

1426

30053

24.67

44

143

21

2418

54301

26.34

90

243

22

3162

67238

24.72

100

306

23

3844

92942

27.82

154

438

24

5130

129315

28.93

244

590

25

5396

141893

30.37

253

636

26

5687

145223

29.20

247

685

27

6222

163459

30.07

294

760

28

5935

160614

30.94

323

735

29

5747

154834

30.92

300

703

30

5130

141422

31.85

276

631

31

4412

127249

32.94

269

551

32

3945

110156

31.91

207

514

33

3292

94934

32.88

189

445

34

2769

76289

31.68

155

366

35

2017

58125

32.93

128

259

36

1323

37330

32.94

74

176

37

1071

31685

34.32

71

154

38

738

21032

32.60

36

103

39

488

15351

36.03

35

70

40

308

8053

29.28

13

36

41

214

5852

31.12

11

31

42

157

3981

28.03

6

15

43

65

1947

33.00

3

8

44

37

660

20.00

0

3

45

51

1302

28.93

2

4

46

25

576

28.80

1

3

47

18

392

24.50

0

3

48

8

85

12.14

0

0

49

8

21

3.50

0

0

50

18

318

21.20

0

1

51

-

-

-

-

-

52

7

51

25.50

0

0

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

 

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