End of Year Leaders – Context Matters

Test Cricket is done for another year and we now know the leading run scorer and wicket-taker for 2019.

Australia dominate the leader boards with both Marnus Labuschagne and Pat Cummins being no.1 in both the batting and bowing departments, respectively. 

Marnus Labuschagne has played some exceptional cricket this past year in the Test format, he is the only Test batsman of 2019 to score over 1000 runs in the calendar year, of 1104 runs at an average of 65. Only Steve Smith (74), Mayank Agarwal (69), and Rohit Sharma (93) average more.

Labuschagne also scored the most fifties and centuries compared to every one else in the world, with 7 fifties and 3 centuries. He showed absolutely fantastic form, technique and determination to stay at the crease and score runs, and fully deserves his place as leading run scorer of the year.

Players like Joe Root and Rory Burns being in the top five leading run scorers of the year however is honestly a joke. Root scored 851 runs and Burns, 824 in the 12 Tests England played.

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, who played 8 Tests in 2019, ranks number 9 on the leading run-scorers list with 713 runs, but what struck me was that his average for the year of 48, is significantly higher than that of Root who averages 37 and Buns, who averages 36.

Bear in mind that Quinton de Kock also comes in to bat lower down the order at 6 or 7, whereas Root and Burns are in the top 4.

If Quinton had had 8 extra innings to bat, like his current opponents had, he would have had a significantly higher chance to score more and could even have finished higher up on the list.

The difference in number of Tests between “The Big Three” and the rest of the world needs to be addressed.

Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, after their win in the first Test against England in the ongoing Test series, pointed out this very thing, saying newly appointed Test nations, Ireland and Afghanistan struggle to get Test fixtures.

He was quoted as saying:

“There’s a lot of smaller nations not playing a lot of Test Cricket, they’re actually playing less”.

It’s not even just newly appointed nations not playing enough Test Cricket. Pakistan, a fully fledged Test nation played a total of six Tests this year, compared to Australia, India and England’s 12.

This is where the leading Test bowler for 2019 comes into the spotlight. Pat Cummins is the leading wicket-taker for 2019 with 59 wickets at an average of 20, after 12 Tests. New Zealand’s Neil Wagner is third on the list with an outstanding 43 wickets at an average of 18 having played literally half the number of Tests as Cummins.

Imagine if New Zealand had had the same opportunities to play Test Cricket as Australia did. Wagner would easily be the leading wicket-taker for 2019.

All this means is that when it comes to leading run scorer or leading wicket-taker for a calendar year, context matters.

Kagiso Rabada for instance was the leading wicket-taker for Tests in 2018, with 52 wickets at 20, after 10 matches. England and India both played 12 Tests in 2018 but KG’s dominance was such that he was the front runner.

I say again, context matters.



Posted in The Popping Crease.