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Jayawardene, Clarke & Hussey among those with lop-sided overseas records

Jayawardene, Clarke & Hussey among those with lop-sided overseas records

The not so good travellers. (From left) Mahela Jayawardene, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey © Getty Images

There is a popular perception that batsmen of the subcontinent – particularly Indians – are tigers only at home, while the ones belonging to the champion teams perform consistently around the world. Arunabha Sengupta looks at the numbers to find that in modern cricket the truth is drastically different.

Cricket is riddled with popular perceptions – and many of the fallacies that do rounds in the fan-world take the form of gospel across boundaries.

One very common trait is to rampantly bestow the sobriquet “flat-track bully” on batsmen from the subcontinent, primarily the Indians. There is an overwhelming tendency to look for collapses abroad, to act as confirmation bias for the “Tigers at Home” tag. The other side of this prevalent belief is that batsmen of champion teams score runs all over the world with impeccable consistency.

However, as so often happens, if we evade the pitfalls of popular belief and take an unbiased look at the figures, the results emerge as shockingly counter-intuitive.

Some of the Australian batsmen seem poor travellers as well

When we consider the modern batsmen – who have donned the national colours and plied their trade at home and abroad in this millennia – it is not surprising to find Mahela Jayawardene as the one whose performance undergoes the most pronounced dip when the action shifts overseas. This Sri Lankan stalwart has an impeccable average of 61.12 at home which plummets to 37.35 abroad, resulting in a difference of 39%.

However, when we look down the table of modern men with over 5000 runs (the second table at the end of the article), it is revealing that the next three positions are taken up by Australians. Michael Clarke, Michael Slater and Michael Hussey turn out to be poor travellers, each with more than 30% decline in their numbers when faced with the vagaries of foreign conditions. And after the trio with the same first name, Matthew Hayden is ninth on the list of nose-dives away from home.

At number seven, Marcus Trescocthick’s figures perhaps underline the well-known psychological afflictions he had to suffer while touring abroad.

The first Indian on the list is predictably Virender Sehwag, who comes in at number 13 with 20% decline of average. But the names that follow close behind him are seldom uttered in the same deprecating breath as far as fluctuation of fortunes in foreign shores is concerned. Kevin Pietersen is at number 16 with a 19% dip, Ricky Ponting one place below him, his august average also affected similarly. Brian Lara’s figures take a hit by 18%, Justin Langer’s by 15%.

The second Indian on the list is VVS Laxman with 18% drop. This is also surprising since we have always marked him as one of the better performers abroad.

Often what we remember emerges on top of plenty of submerged performances that are lost in the recesses of memory –and hence the tables given below may be quite unbelievable.

The two great Indian batsmen of the era, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, actually improve their figures abroad very slightly.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Proteans seem to enjoy batting away more than they do at home. Graeme Smith’s average climbs by 22% when Tests are played in foreign lands, Hashim Amla improves his figures by 32%, while AB de Villiers hikes it up by a mammoth 41%.

It seems that among the great Australians, only Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist relished batting on foreign soil.

If we extend the list to cover batsmen of all eras – keeping the 5000 run cut off – Dilip Vengsarkar tops the list with his incredible home average of 55.59 slipping to 32.73 abroad, marking a drop of a whopping 41%.

Finishing as close second with a 40% dip is the opening batsman of the champion team of that era, Desmond Haynes. Of the modern men, Jayawardene, Clarke, Hussey and Slater do enter among the all-time list of greatest declines away from home. A couple of revered names like Denis Compton and Doug Walters also surprisingly make their way into the top ten.

Batsmen worst affected by foreign tours (minimum qualification 5000 runs)

 

No Batsman T Runs Ave Runs at Home Ave at Home Runs Away Away Ave Dip abroad
1 DB Vengsarkar (India) 116 6868 42.13 3725 55.59 3143 32.73 41%
2 DL Haynes (WI) 116 7487 42.29 3868 56.05 3619 33.5 40%
3 DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 138 10806 49.56 6846 61.12 3960 37.35 39%
4 DCS Compton (Eng) 78 5807 50.06 3963 60.04 1844 36.88 39%
5 MJ Clarke (Aus) 89 6989 52.54 4156 64.93 2833 41.05 37%
6 Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 78 5062 44.79 2444 58.19 2618 36.87 37%
7 M Azharuddin (India) 99 6215 45.03 3412 55.93 2803 36.4 35%
8 MJ Slater (Aus) 74 5312 42.83 2842 52.62 2470 35.28 33%
9 MEK Hussey (Aus) 79 6235 51.52 3794 61.19 2441 41.37 32%
10 KD Walters (Aus) 74 5357 48.26 3065 57.83 2292 39.51 32%

 

Modern day batsmen with 5000 plus runs – in the order of their dipping averages abroad


No Batsman T Runs Ave Runs 
at
Home
Ave
at
Home
Runs Away Away Ave Dip abroad
1 DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 138 10806 49.56 6846 61.12 3960 37.35 39%
2 MJ Clarke (Aus) 89 6989 52.54 4156 64.93 2833 41.05 37%
3 MJ Slater (Aus) 74 5312 42.83 2842 52.62 2470 35.28 33%
4 MEK Hussey (Aus) 79 6235 51.52 3794 61.19 2441 41.37 32%
5 PA de Silva (SL) 93 6361 42.97 3290 52.22 3071 36.12 31%
6 Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 90 7530 52.29 3067 65.25 4463 46.01 29%
7 ME Trescothick (Eng) 76 5825 43.79 3472 51.05 2353 36.20 29%
8 IR Bell (Eng) 83 5699 46.71 3123 54.78 2576 39.63 28%
9 ML Hayden (Aus) 103 8625 50.73 5210 57.88 3415 42.68 26%
10 RR Sarwan (WI) 87 5842 40.01 3494 45.37 2348 34.02 25%
11 S Chanderpaul (WI) 146 10696 51.67 5496 58.46 5200 46.01 21%
12 MP Vaughan (Eng) 82 5719 41.44 3271 46.07 2448 36.53 21%
13 V Sehwag (India) 102 8559 50.05 4629 55.80 3930 44.65 20%
14 MV Boucher (SA) 147 5515 30.3 3001 33.70 2514 27.03 20%
15 TT Samaraweera (SL) 81 5462 48.76 3123 53.84 2339 43.31 20%
16 KP Pietersen (Eng) 92 7414 49.42 4149 54.59 3265 44.12 19%
17 RT Ponting (Aus) 168 13378 51.85 7578 56.97 5800 46.40 19%
18 BC Lara (WI) 131 11953 52.88 6217 58.65 5736 47.80 18%
19 KC Sangakkara (SL) 115 10045 55.8 5697 61.25 4348 49.97 18%
20 ST Jayasuriya (SL) 110 6973 40.07 4114 43.76 2859 35.73 18%
21 VVS Laxman (India) 134 8781 45.97 3767 51.60 5014 42.49 18%
22 Younis Khan (Pak) 79 6565 51.69 1898 59.32 4667 49.12 17%
23 JL Langer (Aus) 105 7696 45.27 4428 48.65 3268 41.36 15%
24 Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pak) 120 8830 49.6 3709 53.80 5121 46.98 13%
25 MA Atherton (Eng) 115 7728 37.69 4716 38.97 3012 35.85 8%
26 CL Hooper (WI) 102 5762 36.46 2555 38.13 3207 35.24 8%
27 TM Dilshan (SL) 85 5255 40.42 2688 42.00 2567 38.89 7%
28 AJ Stewart (Eng) 133 8463 39.54 4650 40.78 3813 38.13 6%
29 ME Waugh (Aus) 128 8029 41.81 4019 43.21 4010 40.5 6%
30 JH Kallis (SA) 159 13040 56.94 6798 58.60 6242 55.23 6%
31 N Hussain (Eng) 96 5764 37.18 2833 38.28 2931 36.18 5%
32 SC Ganguly (India) 113 7212 42.17 3180 42.97 4032 41.56 3%
33 GP Thorpe (Eng) 100 6744 44.66 3343 45.17 3401 44.16 2%
34 MS Atapattu (SL) 90 5502 39.02 2671 38.71 2831 39.31 -2%
35 SR Tendulkar (India) 194 15645 54.32 6940 53.79 8705 54.74 -2%
36 HH Gibbs (SA) 90 6167 41.95 3055 41.28 3112 42.63 -3%
37 R Dravid (India) 164 13288 52.31 5598 51.35 7690 53.03 -3%
38 AJ Strauss (Eng) 100 7037 40.91 4045 39.65 2992 42.74 -8%
39 AC Gilchrist (Aus) 96 5570 47.60 2936 45.87 2634 49.69 -8%
40 CH Gayle (WI) 95 6691 42.08 3011 39.61 3680 44.33 -12%
41 G Kirsten (SA) 101 7289 45.27 3384 42.30 3905 48.20 -14%
42 SR Waugh (Aus) 168 10927 51.06 5710 47.58 5217 55.50 -17%
43 AN Cook (Eng) 87 7117 49.42 3408 44.84 3709 54.54 -22%
44 GC Smith (SA) 106 8570 49.25 3572 44.09 4998 53.74 -22%
45 HM Amla (SA) 66 5389 50.83 2322 43.81 3067 57.86 -32%
46 SP Fleming (NZ) 111 7172 40.06 2947 33.87 4225 45.92 -36%
47 AB de Villiers (SA) 81 5961 49.26 2643 41.29 3318 58.21 -41%

Note:

While looking at the figures, please remember that the last column is an indication of home-versus-away performance. The ‘Dip Abroad’ column is not an indicator of how great or ordinary a batsman was. To get an indication, the figure has to be considered in conjunction with the home and away averages.

It will also be prudent to remember that any player has to appear in approximately half the Tests on home soil, so a poor home record is as undesirable as a dip of average abroad.

(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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