How Good Would He Have Been in One Day Internationals
If one measures the standard deviations that a sportsman is above the mean for their sport, there is an argument that Sir Donald Bradman is the greatest of all time. He certainly ranks as the greatest cricketer of them all.
Legend has it that Sir Donald developed his phenomenal eye by throwing a golf ball at a water tank and hitting the rebounds with a wicket.
Bradman’s batting average was so high (99.94) that even the greatest batsman of this century, Sachin Tendulkar, can only manage an average slightly higher than half of this.
Unfortunately for the modern cricket fan, we can only speculate as to how good Bradman would have been at One Day International cricket. Thanks to the availability of cricket statistics sites, it is possible, if certain assumptions are made, to arrive at an estimation of the statistics that players from early eras would have had in the contemporary game.
Reports of Bradman’s play indicate that he excelled not only in his ability to occupy the crease, but also to score runs quickly. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Sir Donald scored at a strike rate of around 60 runs per 100 balls. This figure is 1.43 times the strike rate of the average test cricket player.
We know that the average strike rate for a One Day International batsman is 75 runs per 100 balls. Therefore, if we assume that Bradman would have adapted to the pace of the One Day International game and excelled in it to the same degree that he did tests, his strike rate might have been 1.43 times 75, or 107.25.
This compares to Virender Sehwag’s strike rate of 104 and Shahid Afridi’s of 114, suggesting that Bradman would have had a love for the big shots and would not have been afraid of taking on any attack.
We also know that the average One Day International innings scores around 23 runs, the average test innings around 29. This gives a ratio of close to 0.8:1. If we multiply Bradman’s test batting average, 99.94, by 0.8, we get a figure close to 80. Scoring at 107.25 would mean that if a team opened with Bradman, his innings would last until the 25th over on average.
This compares to Hashim Amla’s average of 57 and Jonathan Trott’s of 56. If an average of 80 sounds ridiculously high, it should be borne in mind that Michael Hussey had an average higher than this after 54 matches, so who knows what would have been possible?