Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: pakistan


The Pakistani Fountain of Youth in Numbers: a Chart on Catching Talent Young

Recently Jarod Kimber was gushing over the new Pakistan quick Junaid Khan. In doing so, he said that in addition to flair and skill, it is the youth of new Pakistan bowlers that makes them so appealing. Of course, I’m paraphrasing. Jarrod never says anything so dull.

This got me thinking about how early Pakistan cricketers start in International cricket. Anecdotally, it seemed Pakistan had the most young debutants. This led me to StatsGuru. Which led to this chart (click the chart for an awesome large version)– the bars represent % of total debutants who were under 22, and there’s one bar per decade, per team:

Debuts Under Age 22 (as % of Total Debuts)

Debuts Under Age 22 (as % of Total Debuts) by Decade in ODI cricket

(View Enlarged)

I started by just getting the per team numbers for all 40 years of ODI cricket. This was great, and demonstrated the same trend (younger debuts in the sub-continent, older in England/Aus), but I wanted to see how these numbers changed over time. So I pulled the numbers separately for each decade of One Day cricket.

A few points that stand out for me:

  • Pakistan and Sri Lanka have consistently favored youth. The remarkable thing is that their numbers remain high regardless of the fortunes of their team.
  • English players have historically taken time to prove themselves worthy of an international cap, until the last decade. Perhaps this is a reason for their recent success?
  • West Indies has oscillated dramatically between starting older and starting young.
  • Do teams turn to youth when they are struggling? This is obviously the case with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe– I didn’t include their data here– but how about other teams? What I was trying to get at by splitting the data in to four decades.
  • In countries like England, there is actually something going on at the other end of the spectrum. Andrew Strauss was effectively forced out of the side at age 34. A combination of the under-22 and over-34 problem is why the total centuries by the entire current English Test side is less than Tendulkar+Dravid*.
  • Finally, it doesn’t help to compare 1970’s statistics to other decades. It was the first decade of ODI cricket, and most “debuts” were actually established players. It does make sense, however, to compare 1970’s numbers between teams. Even in that early decade, Pakistan is substantially ahead of the rest.
Starting players late means they have shorter shelf-lives. Not only that, it makes for poorer branding. The reason adjectives like exciting get thrown around a lot more for Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen is because at 19 they’re blowing top-notch opposition out of the water.

I also pulled overall (40 year) numbers for Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but I don’t consider them interesting. They have such a poor record that they have no choice but to turn to the teenagers. If you’re interested, Bangladesh is 66% under 22 debuts, and Zimbabwe is 51%.

* And talent, of course.


Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Salman Butt watches the money roll in

Salman Butt:

“Kids watch you and want to become you (Afridi) or Imran or Wasim, so don’t leave them with examples that are not there to follow.”


(via Sana Kazmi, who sat through an excruciating series of Salman Butt interviews to pull out the gems. She did it so you don’t have to. Be grateful.)

Miandad as a Microcosm of Pakistan

Javed Miandad encompasses almost everything that makes Pakistan the most entertaining team of them all. Rob Bagchi and Rob Smyth recall one of the great innings of all time, where Miandad scored 200 not out of a total of 311:

Wickets continued to fall at the other end: 155 for five, 224 for six, 227 for seven. Then Javed added 43 for the eighth wicket with Robin Hobbs – who was out first ball. It was an astonishing partnership, with Javed facing every delivery for eight consecutive overs. His plan was simple: wait for the field to come up for the fifth delivery, hit over the top for a boundary, and then gleefully steal a single from the last ball. It was a delicious game of cat and mouse, except the mouse was terrorising the cat.

This innings on its own is a microcosm for Pakistani cricket. Including how the innings ended.

The Fate of a Pakistan Captain

Returning to my obsession, here is the list of all Pakistan ODI captains since Imran (criteria: captained > 5 ODIs) with their fate. Forgive some oversimplification of facts in favor of brevity:

  1. Javed Miandad (’92-’93): Taken to the 1996 world cup to do nothing of note but break a world record, retired at the end of the WC and came out swinging against the administration.
  2. Saleem Malik (’92-’95): Banned for fixing
  3. Rameez Raja (’92-’97): Largely untarnished legacy
  4. Wasim Akram (’93-’00): Dumped in 2003, subsequently retired.
  5. Waqar Younis (’93-’03): Sacked after 2003 World Cup, subsequently retired. Only two years older than current captain, Misbah-ul-Haq.
  6. Moin Khan (’95-’01): Akmal’ed
  7. Saeed Anwar (’95-’00): Takes a break for his family, returns and then retires.
  8. Aamer Sohail (’96-’98): Match-fixing whistle-blower, suffers the consequences, retired in 2001.
  9. Rashid Latif (’98-’03): Serial whistle-blower, blew the whistle one time too many.
  10. Inzamam-ul-Haq (’02-’07): Post-2007 World Cup, quit the one day game. Left out of test side. Joined ICL.
  11. Mohammad Yusuf (’03-’10): Issues with the PCB, an ICL stint and finally a life ban.
  12. Younis Khan (’05-’09): Sudden resignation in 2006, reinstated later, resignation again. Banned by PCB in 2010.
  13. Shoaib Malik (’07-’09): Banned in 2010
  14. Shahid Afridi (’09-’11): Dropped unceremoniously from captaincy, followed by retirement until Butt’s resignation.
  15. Misbah-ul-Haq (’11-present): No controversies other than batting-speed. So far.
Previously on

The Pakistan Captaincy: Part XV

Misbah-ul-Haq is now officially the 15th captain of the Pakistan ODI team since Imran Khan. I know, because I’ve been keeping track. It’s an obsession with me.

Finally, a Test Match

Good morning. At long last, we have a test match.

Personally, I’m interested to see how Bishoo, Rampaul and Simmons fair in the longer game. That will tell us a lot about the future of West Indies cricket.

How the Girls Got to Mohali

At the end of the guard changing ceremony at t...

(via Wikipedia)

I’m a little late to link to this, but here’s the remarkable story of how three girls from Pakistan got to the semi-finals in  Mohali. I was following this on Twitter as it unfolded, and then suddenly the twitter account (@sanakazmi) went silent. The day after the game, she reported that they had made it to the game:

[W]e started a #getthegirlstomohali hashtag on twitter asking for ticket/visa information, and secretly hoping for ridiculous favours. We had 5 days to get visas, find match tickets and get on a plane or a train or a taxi to Mohali. How hard could it be?

Pretty much all the information I got on how to make this cricket pilgrimage happen – from the link to the right visa form to where in Islamabad I could find a printer at 5AM – came from twitter.


The History of One Day Cricket: Part I

The One Day International has changed dramatically in its 40 years of existence. Here is part one of my analysis of the game:

Highest Score per team, per year

We’ve come a long way since the ’70s. It used to be a 60-over innings and teams barely got a couple of hundred runs. In 1977, no team made more than 250 in their allotted 60 overs. Every year since 2004, the top eight teams have had a 300+ score every year. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Take a look at how Jayasuriya and company changed the game in 1996. It’s an outlier, so different from the years around it and wouldn’t be surpassed until the batting powerplay was instituted in 2006.

Highest Score of World Cup 2011: 375 by India against Bangladesh

High Scores in One Day History

High Scores in One Day History (click for larger version)

Runs per over per team, per year

We’ve gone from a par average of 4 to a par average of 5.5. In 1994, every team had a yearly run rate of 5 and under. By 2010, every team was over 5. In fact, South Africa finished 2010 at 6 runs per over for the year.

Top 8 Teams Run Rate at World Cup 2011: 5.38

Run Rate by Year in One Day History

Run Rate by Year in One Day History (click for larger version)

Runs per wicket per team, per year

Now here’s something that hasn’t changed much as the game has changed. Even though teams are scoring at a (much) faster pace, the runs per wicket has been largely steady. Barring some outliers (West Indies in the early days, Australia in the last 10 years), the average has barely increased from the upper 20’s to the low 30’s.

In both this chart and the runs per over, Sri Lanka’s progress between say 1983 and 1996 has been the most dramatic. On this chart, Sri Lanka goes from about 18 in 1984 to 38 in 1997. Of note: Australia crossed 50 runs per wicket in 2001.

Also, look how the mighty have fallen. West Indies dominates every chart here for the first decade and then drops off the map. Finally, the era of Aussie dominance ended in 2008- the orange dot on all three charts falls from the top that year.

World Cup 2011: Matches Among Top 8 Teams:
Side Batting First: 29.58 Runs per Wicket
Side Batting Second: 31.61 Runs per Wicket
Overall: 30.49

Average per wicket per year in One Day History

Average per wicket per year in One Day History (click for larger version)

In the next installment, I will present three charts on how the balance of power in one day internationals has changed over 40 years.


  • Only the top eight teams (no Zimbabwe, no Bangladesh) have been considered.
  • The runs per over are for the entire year, with each dot representing a different team.
  • The runs per wicket are for the entire year, with each dot representing a different team.
  • The highest score is the highest score for a particular team in that year.
  • The color code for each country is consistent across all charts.
  • Statistics until the end of 2010 are reflected in the charts.

India Wins

India wins

The old warhorse

Two questions:

  1. When was the last time India went 37 overs without giving away a single extra?
  2. When was the last time India played only 5 bowlers in an innings?

Also, what a symmetrical bowling card:


India v. Pakistan Bowling Card

India v. Pakistan Bowling Card