In the first part of this analysis, we sought to extract the best streaks of eighty innings from batting careers to more justly compare them to the otherworldly statistics of Don Bradman. Another way of looking at the careers of top batsmen through the pane of Bradman's greatness is to try and gauge exactly how much of their careers were truly Bradmanesque. In this part of our analysis, we will look at how many separate streaks a batsman collected over a career.
If we can visualise a career as being made up of peaks of performance (that emulate Bradman) strung together with troughs of normal or mediocre batting, what proportion of a career can be said to be truly covered by the former?
How do we go about doing this? We have to set clear definitions for the streaks we are analysing: let us look at all separate streaks over which a batsman averaged over 99.93. Look at this as breaking a batsman's career into disjoint streaks of high average. Let us also set the minimum length of a streak to be five innings.
For instance, Ponting has had five such streaks, totalling 49 knocks, and the list of his streaks is:
Table 1: Ricky Ponting's Bradmanesque Streaks
Now, we can answer multiple questions: how many such streaks did a player have over his career? What proportion of his career was spent in the midst of these streaks? And finally, what was his average during these streaks?
Table 2 takes a simple look at this scenario by showing us who had the most innings while going through these streaks. Ponting tops this list with 49 innings included in his high streaks, spread over five periods, as broken above.
Bradman's career is one unbroken run of dominance over 80 innings, and his superlative nature is established by the fact that the next highest is about 40% less than him in terms of sheer numbers of innings.
The list is dominated by stalwarts of the 1990s and 2000s, signifying an all-round golden era of run-accumulating batsmanship, with longer careers and recurring periods of heavy run-scoring.
Table 2: The Bradmanesque Streaks of Batsmen Over Careers
The main point of comparison, as elucidated above, is the total percentage of the batsman's career contained in these phases. Table 3 does this, and we see how names featuring in Table 2, with long careers that contain numerous stints of high performance, suffer in terms of percentages: Tendulkar, Dravid, Chanderpaul, Kallis and Sangakkara are absent from the top 15, which instead features relatively short careers (of less than 200 innings) mostly covered by brilliance.
Among that cohort, Ponting shatters this trend, over a staggering 287 innings, testifying to his status as a batsman of high impact for a significant proportion of his career. His Australian predecessors as captain, Steve Waugh and Allan Border, are the other ones who have more than 200 innings. The Australian belligerence of that era is encapsulated in the peerless dominance of their three leaders.
Table 3: Percentage of Career Innings In Bradmanesque Streaks
Having seen the career coverage of high-performance runs, we now seek to look at the longest runs of form that had an average comparable to Bradman's? Table 4 shows the longest single streaks with a comparable average.
What Bradman is to all others, Sangakkara proves to be to those who are not the Don. Spanning most of 2006 and 2007, his awe-inspiring run, in which he also played ten knocks in matches as designated keeper (averaging 'just' 52), included the classic 192 at Hobart, an unbeaten 100 out of a total of 170 in Christchurch, and a first-innings 156 at Wellington, that contributed to a memorable win by 217 runs. It was only his average of 38 in England that tempered the impact of three double centuries and two other 150s at home in this period. If there is one run of form that comes close to being in the same frame as Bradman, it is this.
Table 4: Longest Single Bradmanesque Streaks
So, finally, after a maelstrom of number-crunching, those with a Sehwag-esque simple attitude towards cricket might ask: how much punch has a career packed?
In order to establish a rating that tells us of the 'amount of domination' over a player's career, we combine the average in the streaks and the proportion of his career in these streaks. This sort of index gives us an idea of the most forceful with the bat most frequently through their careers. Table 5, which I leave you with, ranks them by this Dominance Index, which takes into account:
a. The total number of innings in streaks.
b. The proportion of career in streaks.
c. How high the streak average is compared to the career average.
Table 5: Rating Batsmen by Dominance Index