Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is the greatest innings this century so far?

Ashwell Prince and AB de VIlliers both played excellent innings at Headingley. As did the four Sri Lankans who all scored centuries in their one-sided match with India at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo. But how do those innings compare with the all-time great innings? Using the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings, it is possible to compare these innings and see how they fit into the top innings played since 2000.

Each innings that a batsman plays is rated using certain criteria. The fundamental starting point is the number of runs scored, but this is then adjusted depending on a number of other factors, such as the strength of the opposition bowling attack, the level of run-scoring in the match and the result of the match.

As a result of these adjustments, none of these innings actually feature all that prominently in the top ten recent innings. This is partly due to the fact that they were all scored in relatively high totals by their teams against medium-strength bowling attacks. In fact de Villiers's innings of 174 - after all the complex adjustments - rates as precisely - 174!

So - if these are not great innings, which are?

Two of the top ten rated innings of all time since Test cricket started way back in 1877 have been played this decade according to the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings. Astonishingly - they were both played by the same man - Virender Sehwag of India.

His innings of 309 at Multan in March 2004 comes out top in this decade. Coming as it did against a Pakistan attack including Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq, it took India to victory by an innings and 52 runs. Not to be outdone, his innings of 319 at Chennai earlier this year is only just behind. On that occasion, the opposing South African attack was exactly the same as the one who bundled out England twice relatively easily at Leeds this past week.

So - as good an innings as de Villiers played, it only rates as the 155th 'best' innings since 2000. Here are the top ten rated innings in Test cricket since 2000 - what is it about batting in March?

1V.SehwagIND309vPAKMultan28 Mar 2004
2V.SehwagIND319vSAChennai26 Mar 2008
3D.P.M.D. JayawardenaSL374vSAColombo27 Jul 2006
4Younis KhanPAK267vINDBangalore24 Mar 2005
5V.V.S.LaxmanIND281vAUSKolkata11 Mar 2001
6K.C.SangakkaraSL232vSAColombo11 Aug 2004
7B.C.LaraWI400*vENGSt John's10 Apr 2004
8S.T.JayasuriyaSL253vPAKFaisalabad20 Oct 2004
9Inzamam-ul-HaqPAK329vNZLahore01 May 2002
10M.L.HaydenAUS380vZIMPerth09 Oct 2003