Left-handers dominate list of top-run getters from visiting teams on tour of India; Cook in seventh spot

Left-handers all (from left): Clive Lloyd, Matthew Hayden, Alvin Kallicharran, Garry Sobers, Andy Flower and Alastair Cook © Getty Images

With his 190 in the first innings at Eden Gardens, Alastair Cook has moved up to the seventh position in the list of top run-getters from team tour India.Arunabha Sengupta analyses to find that this underlines how over the years left-handers have played Indian bowlers better in the country.

Before he found the rather curious way to get out before Tea on the third day at Eden Gardens, Alastair Cook managed to move up to the seventh position among the most successful overseas batsmen in India.
During the course of the mammoth190, his 3rd hundred on the trot in this series, Cook went past some august performers on Indian soil – Ken Barrington, Allan Border, Jacques Kallis, Rohan Kanhai, Tony Greig, Younis Khan, Everton Weekes, Andy Flower and Hashim Amla.
The England captain now has 851 runs from 7 seven Tests, and is just 11 shy off Mike Gatting’s total of 862. Given his current nick, one can confidently wager that he will overtake Gatting soon enough. And that eventuality will create a strange looking leader board, with all the top six batsmen being southpaws.
It just underlines how Indian bowlers over the years have struggled against left-handed batsmen. The top five are all left-handers, as are seven of the top ten.
Most successful visiting batsmen in India 

Batsman Tests Runs Ave 100s 50s
CH Lloyd (WI)* 14 1359 75.50 4 5
ML Hayden (Aus)* 11 1027 51.35 2 5
AI Kallicharran (WI)* 11 992 58.35 2 6
GS Sobers (WI)* 8 899 99.88 3 5
B Sutcliffe (NZ)* 9 885 68.07 3 3
MW Gatting (Eng) 13 862 50.70 2 3
AN Cook (Eng)* 7 851 77.36 4 3
HM Amla (SA) 6 823 102.87 4 2
A Flower (Zim)* 5 820 117.14 3 4
ED Weekes (WI) 5 779 111.28 4 2

(* denotes left-handers)

Of course, Everton Weekes scored four hundreds in one series and may have amassed a lot more had he toured with the 1958-59 team. Hashim Amla has a long career in front of him, and will definitely pile on the plight on the Indians many more times. And Clive Lloyd did benefit from three long tours across two decades – something seldom enjoyed by some great right-handers.
However, even if we look at the highest averages, we find a definite left-handed dominance. Again Cook makes it at number seven. The list is a nightmare for the Indian bowlers – especially spinners. Headed by Jimmy Adams – who famously blunted Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju, Rajesh Chauhan and Ashish Kapoor by thrusting out his pad in 1994-95 – it is a roll-call of batsmen who have tormented Indians Test after Test.
Again we find as many as six left-handers in the top ten.
Best averages in India by overseas batsmen

Batsman Tests Runs Ave 100s 50s
JC Adams (WI)* 3 520 173.33 2 2
A Flower (Zim)* 5 820 117.14 3 4
ED Weekes (WI) 5 779 111.28 4 2
HM Amla (SA) 6 823 102.87 4 2
GS Sobers (WI)* 8 899 99.88 3 5
KF Barrington (Eng) 6 674 96.28 3 2
AN Cook (Eng)* 7 851 77.36 4 3
Younis Khan (Pak) 6 768 76.80 3 2
CH Lloyd (WI)* 14 1359 75.50 4 5
B Sutcliffe (NZ)* 9 885 68.07 3 3

Minimum qualification 500 runs
* denotes left-handers

The left-handed domination becomes even more apparent if we look at the way the top order batsmen have scored runs in India over the decades. We see that in a majority of the decades, the southpaws have been ahead, and in the 1990s, with Jimmy Adams and Andy Flower, the dominance has been incredibly skewed.
It is only in the first decade of this century that right-handers have batted as well, buoyed by the likes of Hashim Amla and Younis Khan. 
Some very pertinent inferences can be drawn from the data.
In the 1970s, the legendary spin quartet tied the opposition batsmen into knots. In the 1990s, the new spin formula was launched and India rollicked into their first major winning spree in Test cricket. In both these decades we see that while right handed top order batsmen have struggled to come to terms with spinners on Indian wickets (averaging 29.60 in 1970s and a meagre 25.95 in the 1990s), the left-handers have balanced the equation in a big way (37.45 in the 1970s and a tottering 47.71 in the 1990s).

Decade Right-handers of top order (Batting position 1-7)   Left-handers of top order (Batting position 1-7) Left: Right Ratio
Inn Runs Ave   Inn Runs Ave
1930s 29 977 40.7   6 157 26.16 0.64
1940s 37 2074 57.61   12 531 48.27 0.84
1950s 206 6494 33.82   91 3264 40.29 1.19
1960s 331 11083 37.69   104 3568 38.78 1.03
1970s 325 8941 29.60   106 3521 37.45 1.27
1980s 361 11745 36.36   91 3891 45.77 1.26
1990s 272 6774 25.95   78 3292 47.71

Cook’s phenomenal run in the current series just underlines the ineffectiveness of the Indian bowling against the southpaws.
The future foreign teams can perhaps load their top order with quality left-handers when faced with the impending threat of Indian spinners on long arduous tours.
At the same time, the Indian think tank could do well to concentrate on this one area that has plagued them for years.
(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)