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Why it is unfair to target Sachin Tendulkar: An analysis of over 38 batsmen in Test history

Is it fair to target Tendulkar: Analysis of over 38 batsmen in Test history?

A nation debate raged after Sachin Tendulkar (above) got bowled three successive times in the recently-concluded Test series against New Zealand. The dismissals were attributed to his advancing age as it brought memories of Rahul Dravid (picture below) repeatedly getting out in similar fashion and making his exit from the international stage © PTI

Three times on the trot the ball has crashed into Sachin Tendulkar’s stumps and we are reminded of the similar dismissals of Rahul Dravid not too long ago. Arunabha Sengupta does a statistical study if batsmen are more prone to getting bowled as they age.


Sachin Tendulkar’s stumps being struck by the cherry once too often – three times out of three in the New Zealand series – makes one wonder if one is hearing the death rattle of a noble career.

After all, fresh in our immediate memory are the 11 times Rahul Dravid was bowled after turning 38. Although not many will remember the exact figure, the repeated sound of the ball finding a fissure in the wall and its way to strike timber still makes us wince. And that heart stopping clatter is being echoed innings after innings for Sachin Tendulkar.

Is it a sign of ageing reflexes? Do batsmen tend to get bowled more as they age?

Let us take a look at what the figures tell us.

If we take all cricketers into consideration from the very beginning of Test cricket, we find that bowled constitutes 21.49% of the total dismissals. If we consider all the innings played by those under the age of 38, this figure is 21.37%. For men over 38, this jumps to 25.65%.

Statistically, this deviation is significant – we can say that the proportion of bowled dismissals becomes considerably more after the age of 38 with 99.98% confidence.

All Batsmen


Under 38


Over 38




Other dismissals 61081 1879 62960
Bowled 13054 482 13536
Total 74135 2361 76496
Percentage bowled 17.61 20.42 17.70
p-value 0.9997

If we consider only the top order batsmen, leaving out tailenders who are prone to get bowled anyway – by taking only the ones who batted at numbers 1 to 7 – the results are similar. The percentage leaps from 16.43 for the under-38 to 19.29 for over-38, which, again, is statistically significant. We can say so with 99.92% confidence.


Batting at 1-7


Under 38


Over 38




Other dismissals 44140 1393 45533
Bowled 8675 333 9008
Total 52815 1726 54541
Percentage bowled 16.43 19.29 16.52
pvalue 0.9992
Is it fair to target Tendulkar: Analysis of over 38 batsmen in Test history?

© Getty Images

However, the curious fact is that the batsmen at batting orders 1-7 have an overall average of 35.91, which shoots up to 37.80 for the 38-plus group. The reason is obviously that to bat at this level when over 38, one has to be very, very good – a Jack Hobbs, a Don Bradman or a Rahul Dravid.

However, is getting bowled linked to the way a batsman performs after 38?

If we look at a sample of individual batsmen across time who have played past 38, we find that not everyone gets bowled more often. In fact, for Hobbs, Geoff Boycott and Clive Lloyd, the percentage decreases drastically. And if we consider that Bradman was bowled 44% of the times he was dismissed post-38, we do find it has little to do with quality or performance.

  Overall Dismissals


Before 38


After 38


Percentage Bowled
















Before 38


After 38


J Hobbs 95 24 43 14 52 10 25.26 32.56 19.23
P Hendren 74 26 28 10 46 16 35.14 35.71 34.78
D Bradman 70 23 52 15 18 8 32.86 28.85 44.44
T Graveney 110 26 74 16 36 10 23.64 21.62 27.78
C Cowdrey 173 31 162 28 14 3 18.13 17.28 21.43
G Boycott 170 30 111 22 59 8 17.65 19.82 13.56
C Lloyd 161 27 134 24 27 3 16.77 17.91 11.11
V Richards 170 36 154 34 16 2 21.18 22.08 12.50
G Gooch 209 36 154 27 55 9 17.22 17.53 16.36
S Waugh 224 39 216 38 8 1 17.41 17.59 12.50
R Dravid 254 55 230 44 24 11 21.65 19.13 45.83
S Tendulkar 282 51 258 46 24 5 18.09 17.83 20.83

(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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