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Comparing Batsmen Across Different Eras: The Ends of the Distribution Justifying the Means


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  • H. Shelton Brown, III

    (University of Texas School of Public Health, 313 East 12th Street, Austin, TX 78701, U.S.A.)


The debate over the quality of modern batsmanship in cricket parallels the debate over the disappearance of the 0.400 hitter in baseball. This paper shows that the best batting averages in cricket, which are in the right tail of the distribution of all batting averages, have declined. This does not imply poorer batting skills. The batting average actually measures batting skill in relation to bowling and fielding skills, the latter of which, it is argued, have improved over time. Therefore, by mistakenly interpreting the batting average as an absolute measure of batsmanship, cricket experts and fans under-appreciate the skill of modern batsmen. The paper attempts to make a meaningful comparison of modern batsmen to non-modern batsmen through use of the Z transformation. Both decadal standard deviations and coefficients of variation reveal wider variations in batting averages in previous decades, especially the 1940’s.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance in its journal Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP).

Volume (Year): 39 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 443-454

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Handle: RePEc:eap:articl:v39:y:2009:i:3:p:443-454

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Keywords: Cricket; history; distribution;

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