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Why Sachin Tendulkar could have made an error of judgment

Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar has credited the advent of Twenty20s for the increased percentage of results in Tests © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar has credited the advent of Twenty20 matches to the increase in the percentage of decided Tests. Abhishek Mukherjee delves deeper into the statement and finds out why the maestro could be wrong.

In a recent interview Sachin Tendulkar has mentioned the following: “If you see all across the world, most of the Test matches, they have results. Very few Test matches are drawn games nowadays and that is due to introduction of T20 as well. It is complementing each other.”

Having played the most number of matches across formats (and having scored the most runs and hundreds), Tendulkar’s words have to be taken seriously. If he has noticed that there has been a significant change in attitude of cricketers since the advent of T20s, he must have had a reason.

 

The question lies elsewhere: Has there really been an increase in the percentage of decided Tests, as the legend has mentioned?

Let us delve deeper into this. Let us consider data from 1990 to check out the number of draws:

It is evident that there has actually been a rise in the percentage of draws since 2006. It reached a high in 2009 before taking a downward trend. The sudden dip in 2014 is probably due to the fact that only 10 Tests have been played over the two-and-a-half months of cricket.

To take a larger sample, let us take five-year spans. It is clearly evident that 2000 — 2004 was the era when there have been the least percentage of draws, and if anything, the percentage has increased since then. In the period from 2005 to 2014 the share has been 26.7 — significantly more than the 22% of the previous five years.

Phase

Matches

Draws

% Draws

1990 — 1994

147

57

38.8%

1995 — 1999

200

67

33.5%

2000 — 2004

250

55

22.0%

As is evident, the phase with the minimum percentage of draws has been between 2000 and 2004. One may argue that this has coincided with two significant incidents:

-          The emergence of Australia as a dominant force

-          Bangladesh’s admission to Test cricket

All three have resulted in more results, and the second condition is valid even today. Zimbabwe’s decline had started after the 2003 World Cup, so it should not have contributed significantly. How have the teams performed in matches not involving Australia?

Let us also compare 2008 as the benchmark year to discriminate between the two phases. Australia’s performance went on a decline after the retirement of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, and Adam Gilchrist in the space of a year. It also marked the rise of Twenty20 cricket after India’s victory in the inaugural World Twenty20 and the emergence of the Indian Premier League (IPL), revolutionising the Twenty20 format.

Phase

Matches

Draws

% Draws

2000-2008

423

99

23.4%

2000-2008 (Australia matches)

102

15

14.7%

2000-2008 (other matches)

321

84

26.2%

2008-2014

219

61

27.9%

Indeed, even if we take the Australia matches away from the 2000-2008 phase it still had less draws than the post-IPL phase, which shows that Twenty20 has not led to any difference in the percentage of decided matches. If anything, it had reduced the number of decided matches (which perhaps has to do more with the fact that Twenty20 has led to bowlers not trying to get sides bowled out).

Phase

Runs

Wickets

Balls

Bowling SR

Batting SR

2000-2008

6,81,014

19,961

12,73,959

63.8

53.5

2000-2008 (Australia matches)

1,14,955

3,295

2,03,114

61.6

56.6

2000-2008 (other matches)

5,66,059

16,666

10,70,845

64.3

52.9

2008-2014

2,38,260

6,872

4,41,874

64.3

53.9

The above table demonstrates how that has been the case. Though the batsmen had tried to score faster, wickets have fallen at the same rate they used to. This only means that the innings are getting bigger, but they last the same period of time. Unless that happens, there is no reason to believe that the attitude towards cricket has taken a positive turn.

It perhaps shows that even the greatest can be wrong.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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