The esteemed Indian cricket writer and fellow Liverpool fan Dileep Premachandran brought an interesting statistic to our attention on Twitter yesterday.
In illustrating Australia’s batting deficiencies, he highlighted that in an era dominated by batsmen only the discarded Simon Katich has a batting average of over 50 in Tests played since 1 January 2006.
The top ten (minimum qualification ten innings), which is dominated by batsmen from the sub-continent makes interesting reading (see full list here) and in reverse order from 10-3 comprises Misbah-ul-Haq, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahela Jayawardene, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jacques Kallis, Thilan Samaraweera, Jonathan Trott and Mohammad Yousuf.
But it is the identity of the top two that is perhaps the most interesting.
On reflection it is not a huge surprise to see Kumar Sangakkara with a stellar average of 68 at the top of the pile such is the brilliance and consistency of his batting. Moreover, the fact that he had the added challenge of captaining Sri Lanka for most of the period makes his record all the more impressive. Bowlers shouldn’t rest too easy either as if Sangakkara’s return from his most recent series is anything to go by (a defiant 516 runs at 86 against a dominant Pakistan) he is getting better and better.
Nestling just behind Sangakkara in second place is Younis Khan. Yes, the same Younis Khan that was treated so shamefully by the Pakistan Cricket Board’s former idiot-in-chief Ijaz Butt. Younis averages 65 in the period despite being betrayed when captain by a clique led by Shoaib Malik, ostracised by Butt and left out of the side. The fact that he averages over 80 since his return shows up Butt for the utter fool he is – if any further proof was required on that count.
Misbah’s calm captaincy and even calmer presence at the crease is one big reason why England should be wary of their upcoming series with Pakistan. The criminally underrated Younis is another.
England’s post-Ashes celebrations in 2005 were brought crashing down to earth in Pakistan a few weeks later and the newly crowned number one Test side could suffer a similar fate in the UAE against the same opponents in the next couple of months unless they are at the top of their game.
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