An Extensive Cricket’s “Fab Four” Statistical comparison.

The Modern greats. Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, and Virat Kohli(Left to Right)

Over the last decade, the world of cricket has seen a lot of players emerging from the shadows and making their mark in international cricket. Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, and Virat Kohli started their test career around the same time in the early part of the 2010s and have managed to dazzle cricket fans across the globe as much as to be called the “Fab Four” of international cricket. In addition, to their stellar performances across all three formats, they have done so being the Captain of their respective sides which makes it far more challenging and admirable. Below, I will compare the “Fab Four” on different statistical parameters and pick one player from each format. Let's dive into it.

Test Cricket

When it comes to Test cricket in the last decade, Joe Root scored most runs albeit has also played the most Test innings. But I believe judging players only based on the total runs scored will be a very shallow approach in comparing these greats.

Runs Scored between 2011–21

Now we will look into performances against different oppositions:

Runs Scored between 2011–21 against different oppositions

From the bar graph above, it is evident that Joe Root and Kohli fancy scoring runs against Australia and each other. Also, Smith has the majority of his runs against top teams like India and England which demonstrates the caliber of this player. While Kane Williamson’s record against the top teams in Test isn’t bad but when compared to the rest, it’s below par.

Now we will look into runs scored in different Innings of a Test match:

Runs Scored between 2011–21 innings wise

From the above graph, one can discern that Steve Smith scored the most runs in the 1st Innings, Virat Kholi in the 2nd, Joe Root in the 3rd, and again Virat Kohli in the 4th innings. While 1st and 2nd Innings can be termed as the most important innings, we should also consider the fact that batting conditions in the 3rd and 4th innings are the most challenging since the pitch conditions deteriorate and the batter has to make subtle adjustments.

Scoring runs away from home is a testament to the skill, ability to change technique, little mental adjustments since a batsman has to play suppress his instincts, and have a different game plan. This is my view is one of the major criteria to judge a player’s performance. The below Violin chart shows the same, Runs Scored distribution at Home and Away.

From the graph above, it is evident that all four have slightly less average in away games which is acceptable, but Steve Smith stands out as he is the only player to have an average above 50 in both home and away games which is proof of skill he possesses.

Now we will look into runs scored by the Fab Four in the last decade in a time-series graph:

To conclude the analysis on Test cricket performances, few last graphs which embody Balls faced, average, conversion rate, milestone reaching ability(MRA), and Run scored in the past decade:

Runs Scored with Average and Ball faced included
Conversion rate and Milestone reaching ability(MRA)

In my view, Steve Smith has been the best batsman last decade, Averaging the highest and scoring runs at both home and away conditions. Also, Smith’s conversion rate is comparable to that of Virat’s but Smith better Milestone reaching ability(MRA) and Total milestones(100’s + 50's).

What do you think? All up for a cricketing discussion, leave a comment.

All the Data was scraped from ESPNcricinfo and the pertaining Jupyter notebook can be found on my Github profile.