In light of 19 year-old Ashes debutant Ashton Agar’s outstanding performance with the bat in last week’s opening Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, we have done some research into Agars previous batting performances. Our findings reveal the true magnitude of his achievement.
Given that Agar had not shone with the bat at Henley CC before getting his Ashes call up (in three league matches for Henley, he batted just once and made four), we looked back at Agar’s previous international batting performances at U19 ODI level, to see if there were any early signs of his inner batsman.
To highlight just how unexpected his debut Test 98 was last week, we have compared his like-for-like international career batting stats with those of batting specialist Ian Bell, who was overall Top Scorer in last weeks opening Ashes Test (134 runs off 224 balls, over 2 innings).
The following infographic shows that Bell had scored 537 Runs and had an average of 26.85 for England in twenty U19 ODI innings, before he was was selected to first represent his country in Test cricket against the West Indies, in 2004.
Agar on the other hand only played in ten U19 ODIs for Australia and batted eight innings. His career runs and batting average in U19 ODIs for Australia was 40 and 6.67 respectively. His high score in U19 ODIs was 14 and his strike rate was an unimpressive 48.78.
Nothing in Agar’s previous international batting performances would have suggested he had the 98 runs in him.
The next infographic shows both Agar and Bell’s first ever innings in Test Match Cricket with the bat.
An interesting feature in both players’ performances is the standard deviation in U19 ODIs and their Test Match debuts.
Bell made 70 runs off 130 balls on Test debut against the West Indies in 2004, giving him a respectable strike rate of 53.85 (slightly below his strike rate in U19 ODIs). Agar’s 98 of 101 balls gave him a strike rate on Test debut of 97.03, more than double his strike rate in U19 ODIs.
In a normal distribution 70% of the distribution’s value is within 1 standard deviation of the mean. Against his record in U19 ODIs, Agar’s Test debut batting performance (98 runs) is 20 standard deviations above his U19 batting average which is off the scale! By comparison, Bell’s first innings in his debut Test (70 runs) was still exceptional, but much less so, at 1.76 standard deviations above Bell’s U19 batting average.
After the 1st Test in this year’s Investec Ashes series, Agar is 2nd highest run scorer behind Bell with 112 runs and has a current Test batting average of 56. Bell currently has a run total of 134 and a current batting average for the series of 67 (as depicted in the final infographic below).
Agar’s previous international data set offers no rhyme or reason as to where he found those 98 runs. What happened on the 11th July at Trent Bridge can statistically only be referred to as Agar’s Anomaly!
Hats Off to you Sir!
All the data visualisation in this article was generated using new Cricket Stats app My Cricket Average. My Cricket Average is an iPhone app which enables all cricketers to record, analyse and predict their cricket statistics. As this article illustrates, the app has also been purpose built for cricket enthusiasts to record and analyse the performances of other players (family members, team mates, professionals).
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N.B. Total strike rate for Bell’s U19 ODIs was compiled with incomplete number of balls data (not all available) so we ignored the innings we did not have results for.