Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth combined to catch Mitchell Starc

The numbers suggest that about seven chances are missed per Test

© Getty Images
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Feature

Tracking the misses

Lucky batsmen, unlucky bowlers and guilty fielders: the numbers behind dropped catches and missed stumpings

Charles Davis |

For all its bewildering array of data, cricket statistics still has a few blind spots. One of the most obvious is in the area of missed chances, where there have been few extensive studies. Gerald Brodribb in Next Man In mentioned that statistician RH Campbell estimated that 30% of catches were missed in Tests in the 1920s. I have seen a figure of more than 30 dropped catches by West Indies in Australia in 1968-69, a team plagued by poor fielding. But really basic questions like "Overall, what percentage of chances are dropped?" lack answers.

For a number of years I have collected all the missed chances I could find in ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball texts for Test matches. Since the site does not always use standard terms to describe missed chances, and different ball-by-ball commentators have their own ways of expressing themselves, I searched the text for 40 or more words and phrases that might indicate a miss, from "drop" and "dolly" to "shell", "grass" and "hash". The process generally flagged about 100 to 200 lines in the commentary for each Test, which I then searched manually to identify real chances. For some Tests, I also confirmed data by checking match reports and other ball-by-ball sources.

While the commentary goes back to 1999, the textual detail can be patchy in the early years. I logged missed chances from late 2000 onwards, but consider that data to be substantially complete only from 2003. I have compiled a list of over 4000 missed chances in Tests from this century; about a third of all Tests (635) are represented.

Gathering data for dropped catches is challenging since there are no standard definitions for what can be considered a realistic chance

Gathering data for dropped catches is challenging since there are no standard definitions for what can be considered a realistic chance © Associated Press

Unavoidably, there are caveats. Sometimes opinions may vary as to whether a chance should be considered a miss. I take a hard line: "half", "technical" and "academic" chances are included, and I try to include any chances where the fielder failed to touch the ball but should have done so, if they can be identified. Edges passing between the wicketkeeper and first slip are considered chances even if no one has touched the ball. Since 2005, I have divided chances into two categories, "normal" and "difficult", according to how they are described. About half fall into each category.

There will always be uncertainty about some dropped catches, as there is always the possibility that some others have been overlooked. However, as long as the collection method is as consistent and exhaustive as possible, I would argue that a great majority of misses have been identified and that the data can be collated into useful statistics.

So back to the original question: how many chances are dropped? The answer is about one-quarter; typically seven missed chances per Test. Here is a table showing missed chances by country.

Percentage of catches and stumpings missed from 2003 to 2015
Fielding team 2003-2009 2010-2015
New Zealand 23.6% 21.4%
South Africa 20.9% 21.6%
Australia 23.2% 21.8%
England 25.5% 24.8%
West Indies 30.5% 25.4%
Sri Lanka 25.3% 26.8%
India 24.6% 27.2%
Pakistan 30.8% 30.2%
Zimbabwe 27.1% 31.9%
Bangladesh 33.3% 33.1%

The difference between the top three countries in the last five years is not significant; however, there are more substantial differences down the list. Generally, Bangladesh have had the weakest catching record since they started in Test cricket, although there are recent signs of improvement. Other countries have had fluctuating fortunes. West Indies had a miss rate of over 30% from 2003 to 2009, but have tightened up their game in the last couple of years. India have seen a rate of 33% in 2013 fall to 23% in 2015, and Sri Lanka have also improved their catching significantly in just the last two years.

In some years, countries like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have seen their rates drop below 20%; the best single-year result was 16.9% by South Africa in 2013, when they were the No. 1-ranked team in Tests. In good years, the proportion of dropped catches rated as "difficult" generally increases; good teams still miss the hard ones but drop fewer easy ones. Typically, two-thirds of Australia's missed chances are rated as difficult, but the same applies to only one-third of Bangladesh's missed chances.

The lucky
As a batsman's innings progresses, the odds of him offering a chance increase. About 72% of batsmen reaching 50 do so without giving a chance, but the percentage for century-makers is 56% in the first 100 runs. Only 33% of double-centuries are chanceless in the first 200 runs. The highest absolutely chanceless innings is 374 by Mahela Jayawardene in Colombo; Lara's 400 in Antigua contained a couple of "academic" chances.

It's my life: Virender Sehwag gave a lot of chances while batting but wasn't taken up on many of his offers

It's my life: Virender Sehwag gave a lot of chances while batting but wasn't taken up on many of his offers © AFP

The most expensive missed chance since the start of 2000 is 297 runs for Inzamam-ul-Haq, who made 329 after being missed on 32 in Lahore in 2002. Historically there have been more expensive misses: Mark Taylor (334 not out) was dropped on 18 and 27 by Saeed Anwar, and there was a missed stumping on 40 for Len Hutton (364) in 1938. Perhaps even luckier was Kumar Sangakkara, who made 270 in Bulawayo after being dropped on 0. Sachin Tendulkar was dropped on 0 when he made his highest score, 248 not out in Dhaka. Mike Hussey gave a possible chance first ball at the Gabba in 2010, and went on to make 195. Graham Gooch was famously dropped by Kiran More when on 36 at Lord's in 1990. He went on to make 333.

The data turns up four batsmen who have been dropped five times in an innings: one was Andy Blignaut, whose 84 not out in Harare in 2005 included an extremely rare hat-trick of dropped catches; Zaheer Khan was the unhappy bowler. (There was also a hat-trick of missed chances at Old Trafford in 1972, when two batsmen survived against Geoff Arnold.) The others who have been missed five times are Hashim Amla (253 in Nagpur, 2010), Taufeeq Umar (135 in St Kitts, 2011) and Kane Williamson (242 not out in Wellington, 2014). Nothing in this century quite matches the seven or eight missed catches (reports vary) off George Bonnor when he made 87 in Sydney in 1883, or six misses off Bill Ponsford in his 266 at The Oval in 1934 (as recorded by veteran scorer Bill Ferguson). Wavell Hinds was dropped twice at the MCG in 2000, and still made a duck.

The batsman with most reprieves in the study period is Virender Sehwag, missed 68 times, just one ahead of Sangakkara. About 37% of the chances Sehwag offered were dropped, which is well above average and probably a testament to the power of his hitting.

Sachin Tendulkar is dropped by Rajin Saleh at silly mid-off in Dhaka, in the innings in which he made his highest Test score, 248

Sachin Tendulkar is dropped by Rajin Saleh at silly mid-off in Dhaka, in the innings in which he made his highest Test score, 248 © Getty Images

The unlucky
Broadly, spin bowlers suffer more from dropped catches and (of course) missed stumpings. Chances at short leg, along with caught and bowled, have the highest miss rates among fielding positions, and these positions happen to feature more strongly among spinners' wickets than pace bowlers'. Overall, 27% of chances off spin bowlers are missed, as against 23% of chances off pace bowlers.

In the study period, the bowlers with the most missed chances in Tests are Harbhajan Singh (99) and Danish Kaneria (93). Harbhajan has had 26 chances missed at short leg alone. Bear in mind that these bowlers' careers are not fully covered; the data for about 10% of Harbhajan's career is not available to analyse. Pace bowlers with the most misses, as of January 2016, are Jimmy Anderson (89) and Stuart Broad (85).

Spare a thought for James Tredwell, who has played only two Tests but suffered ten missed chances, including seven on debut, the most for any bowler since the start of 2000. Most were very difficult, with three of them missed by the bowler himself. Also worth mentioning is Zulfiqar Babar, who has had 30 chances missed in his Test career and only 28 catches (and stumpings) taken.

At the other end of the scale, Adil Rashid has had eight catches taken off his bowling with no misses (as of August 2016). Neil Wagner of New Zealand has had only seven misses out of 63 chances, a rate of 11%.

Two bowlers have had catches missed off their first ball in Test cricket: David Warner (Dean Brownlie dropped by James Pattinson, Brisbane, 2011) and RP Singh (Shoaib Malik dropped by Anil Kumble, Faisalabad, 2006).

There is an intriguing case from 1990. Against West Indies in Lahore, Wasim Akram took four wickets in five balls: W, W, 1, W, W. In a surviving scorebook, the single, by Ian Bishop, is marked as a dropped catch at mid-on. If so, Akram came within a hair's breadth of five wickets in five balls, since the batsmen crossed, and Bishop did not face again. (Wisden, it should be noted, says that the catch was out of reach.)

The guilty
When it comes to catching, some positions are much more challenging than others. That will come as no surprise, but putting some numbers to this is an interesting exercise. The table below shows the miss rate for different field positions.

Chances by position (December 2008 to January 2016)
Position Chances % Missed
Keeper (ct) 2188 15%
Stumping 254 36%
Slip 2062 29%
Gully 404 30%
Third man 36 17%
Point 371 29%
Cover 319 23%
Mid-off 253 20%
Bowler 378 47%
Mid-on 340 22%
Midwicket 455 23%
Short leg 518 38%
Square leg 286 19%
Fine leg 170 30%

The highest miss rates are seen for caught and bowled, and for catches at short leg. Bowlers lack the luxury of setting themselves up for catches, while short leg has the least time of any position to react to a ball hit well. Many of the chances there are described as half-chances or technical. Slips catches are twice as likely to be dropped as wicketkeepers' catches, a measure of the advantage of gloves.

However, it would be unwise to read too much into the table above. Slip fielders or short-leg fielders are not inferior to those at mid-off; they get much more difficult chances. In the period of the study, Alastair Cook missed more chances than any other non-wicketkeeper, some 62 misses, but since many of his misses came at short leg, his miss rate doesn't look so bad.

While comparing lapse rates of different fielders is risky, it is worth mentioning Graeme Smith, whose drop rate of only 14% is the best among long-serving players by a considerable margin. Between August 2012 and February 2013, Smith took 25 catches and recorded no missed chances. Other slip fielders with outstanding catching records include Andrew Strauss and Ross Taylor on 20%, Michael Clarke on 21%, and Ricky Ponting on 22%. Elsewhere in the field, Warner at one stage took 20 consecutive chances that came to him.

Caught and bowled chances are missed the most because the bowler has little time to react and is often out of position in his follow-through

Caught and bowled chances are missed the most because the bowler has little time to react and is often out of position in his follow-through © Getty Images

Of those who have recorded more drops than catches, Umar Gul leads the list, with 11 catches and 14 misses. In 2014, Mushfiqur Rahim missed ten consecutive chances that came his way. Oddly enough, he caught his next 13 chances. Kevin Pietersen came to Test cricket with a fine catching reputation, but he dropped the first seven chances that came to him. He then caught his next 16 chances. The most missed chances in a match for one team, in this data set, is 12 by India against England in Mumbai in 2006. The most missed chances in an innings is nine by Pakistan against England in Faisalabad in 2005, and also by Bangladesh against Pakistan in Dhaka in 2011. In Karachi in 2009, Mahela Jayawardene (240) was dropped on 17 and 43, Thilan Samaraweera (231) was dropped on 73 and 77, and Younis Khan (313) was dropped on 92. The combined cost of all the missed chances in the match was 1152 runs, or 684 runs based on "first" drops off each of the batsmen.

There is some evidence of "contagious" butterfingers in teams. In the second Test of the 1985 series in Colombo, India dropped seven catches against Sri Lanka on the first day, on which the only wicket to fall was thanks to a run-out. India also dropped six catches in the space of ten overs in Rawalpindi in 2004, five of them coming in the first hour of the fourth day. It is rare enough for six chances to be offered at all in the space of ten overs at all, let alone to see all of them missed.

Behind the stumps
Here is some data on the miss rates, including stumpings, of various wicketkeepers of the 21st century. Not all are listed, but those with particularly low or high drop rates are given.

Missed chances by keepers
  Chances %Miss
Mark Boucher 364 10%
BJ Watling 119 11%
Tatenda Taibu 57 11%
AB de Villiers 94 11%
Adam Gilchrist 357 12%
Kamran Akmal 203 20%
Sarfraz Ahmed 63 21%
Dinesh Karthik 50 22%
Adnan Akmal 77 22%
Mushfiqur Rahim 86 32%

The wicketkeeper with the most misses is MS Dhoni with 66 (18%). In his defence, Dhoni had to deal with a high percentage of spin bowling, which presents a much greater challenge for keepers. Miss rates for leading wicketkeepers off spinners average around 30%, for both catches and stumpings, but it is only 10% for catches off pace bowlers. It can certainly be argued that keeping to spinners is the true test of a keeper.

MS Dhoni has missed 18% of his chances, which is understandable considering the number of spinners he has to keep to

MS Dhoni has missed 18% of his chances, which is understandable considering the number of spinners he has to keep to © Getty Images

It is not uncommon for keepers to start with a bang but fade later in their careers. Boucher, Watling, Gilchrist and de Villiers all had miss rates in single digits earlier in their careers. Gilchrist's miss rate rose in the last couple of years before his retirement. Others with very low rates, who did not qualify for the table, include Peter Nevill and Chris Read, on 7%. Read, to my eye, was one of the best modern wicketkeepers, but he did not get very many opportunities since he was unable to score enough runs to hold his place.

A short history of dropped catches
In addition to the data for the 21st century I have gathered data from other periods of Test history, using scorebooks that recorded dropped catches. The best sources are scorebooks by Bill Ferguson in the 1910s and 1920s, and by Bill Frindall from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. I have also used a limited number of other sources, including scores by Irving Rosenwater and some by Pakistan TV scorers. I have extracted data from about 200 Test scores in all, dating from before 1999.

Again, there must be caveats. We cannot be sure that the judging of dropped catches was on the same terms throughout, and we cannot be sure of the effect of TV replays on these assessments. I would say, however, that in the case of Frindall we have a meticulous observer with a very consistent style over multiple decades.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Once again, it would be unwise to read too much into each little blip in the data, but in general there is a trend toward lower rates of missed chances. The trend would probably be steeper if the data was limited to Australia and England, as the recent data includes countries such as Bangladesh that have had little or no coverage in earlier decades.

I might add an opinion from decades of observation: I believe that the greatest area of improvement has been with weaker fielders. Today everyone, including those with limited skills, has to do extensive fielding drills and take that part of the game very seriously. This has been one effect of the one-day game. In past decades many took fielding seriously. Jack Hobbs, Don Bradman and Neil Harvey worked hard at it, and I doubt if any player today works as hard on fielding as Colin Bland did in the 1960s (Bland would spend hours picking up and throwing a ball at a single stump: his record of run-outs is superior to that of anyone today). However, there were also players who did much less work on their fielding skills. In the modern game there is nowhere to hide, and everyone must put in the training effort. As a result, overall standards have risen.

Charles Davis is a Melbourne-based statistician and author who has developed a large ball-by-ball database for Test matches. He blogs here

 

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LOGIN TO POST YOUR COMMENTS

  • POSTED BY SPDS49Cricket on | April 6, 2017, 20:30 GMT

    What about Brian Lara dropped on 18 by the keeper..... in the 501* innings, gotta be the most costly drop.

  • POSTED BY pacelikefire on | October 27, 2016, 15:42 GMT

    Hi Charles. Your reference to Len Hutton at Lords in 1953 refers. He'd dropped various chances in the first session of the second day, so when he opened he used, according to reports, a Harrow bat, lighter then the norm. This would have enabled him to follow through one handed when driving (hence the relevant photo). In any case, when playing defensively with a normal bat, against a lifting ball, he would take his right hand off the bat at the moment of impact to lessen any 'carry' to waiting fielders. I read about this as a small boy and found it useful later on when I played a lot of club cricket on dodgy wickets. I did bowl to him once when he played for some touring team in Hampshire after he'd retired - but the wicket was flat, so I never saw him demonstrate the technique. Best regards, great article.. .

  • POSTED BY Syed Raza Mohsin on | October 15, 2016, 7:06 GMT

    i cant even imagine what you went through...thank you from Pakistan. Down with Kamran Akmal ;)

  • POSTED BY WilliamKemspter on | October 15, 2016, 2:09 GMT

    Fabulous article. Statistics tempered by knowledgeable and nuanced qualifiers. Great job!

  • POSTED BY jamai on | October 14, 2016, 20:59 GMT

    Excellent article! I always wonder why cricket doesn't follow baseball's official "Error" tracking. The commentators can very easily mark each dropped catch or missed stumping as an official error. We could have such a rich data based on it. I do see it will be an extra work for commentators and there could be some subjective debates (was it really a chance?) but they can be overcome easily.

  • POSTED BY AnanthNatarajan on | October 14, 2016, 14:14 GMT

    Brilliant! For once, an article uses wisely! Text mining, a gold mine for more such analyses. How about: favorite scoring strokes, bowling metrics like line and length, even comfort level of a batsman vs bowler.

  • POSTED BY AbhishekJakhade on | October 14, 2016, 8:53 GMT

    A heartiest Thank you to Charles for this pain staking effort. What a wonderful article and a very interesting analysis. Some of the most interesting cricket articles are by CricInfo and this is truly the best. An interesting thought came to mind while reading the article. India had high drop rate in 2013. Incidently, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, both of whom were sort of specialist slip fielders for India retired in 2012. Would be interesting to see if the drop rates were indeed in Slips.

  • POSTED BY aussie_trad on | October 14, 2016, 8:48 GMT

    Fascinating article! Of course, as some of the comments indicate, such studies (among other things) open all of those could have/should have/would have cans of worms. Just one point: regarding the Wasim Akram 4 in 5 (which might have been 5 in 5) - there is no guarantee that he would have taken the last 2 wickets if the catch from Bishop had not been dropped (assuming for the moment that it was). If one element in such a chain of events is altered, there is no guarantee that everything thereafter would have ensued in the same way (for instance, in the time it would have taken for the new batsman to come in, Akram might have changed his mind about the delivery he actually did bowl to whoever was on strike for the next ball, etc). Someone mentions Keith Stackpole as someone who seemed to be dropped often. For those not old enough to have seen him play, he was similar in approach to Sehwag - really gave it the works, so the fielders at least had "something to hang on to", as they say.

  • POSTED BY Cricanalyst1 on | October 14, 2016, 8:17 GMT

    This is excellent. What an unusual thing to look at. Well done for the hard work. I still remember watching the wasim Akram over live when he got WW1WW. The 1 was a catch dropped by imran Khan . The catch was not difficult, it was lobbed in the air and imran failed to move on time. I remember our whole family getting upset on imran's laziness :-). I am also surprised that kamran akmal has not got a higher %age of drops. He certainly dropped many easy ones and cost Pakistan some matches and series just because of poor keeping.

  • POSTED BY CDavis on | October 14, 2016, 7:08 GMT

    There are many kind comments here. Thank you.

    One question raised that I should have addressed in the article is: what is the average cost of a dropped catch? The average is quite similar to the overall batting average, close to 33 runs.

    There are other good questions and suggestions. Maybe I will get a chance to write a followup article, and address these.

    Charles Davis

  • POSTED BY osadiq1 on | October 14, 2016, 5:18 GMT

    What a wonderful article and the efforts of your research are in abundance for all to see Charles! Now, in regards to the Wasim Akram paragraph in the article and the probablity of him taking 5 wickets in 5 balls and Wisden, it should be noted, says that the catch was out of reach, I have to disagree on both counts. Reason being, those were the last 4 wickets of the West Indian innings and the single was a courtesy of a dropped catch by Imran standing at mid on. Imran tried to grab the catch with one hand; his left hand to be precise but failed to grasp it and Akram missed the opportunity of his first hat trick but got the last W Indian wicket off the next ball to close the inning. Cheers!!

  • POSTED BY BhushanPheonix on | October 14, 2016, 3:49 GMT

    I must congratulate the author who has done a tremendous work in compiling this data. This kind of analysis is really superb. Kudos.. to cricinfo and the author for bringing this insight out....

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | October 14, 2016, 3:01 GMT

    Happy to see this work. I worked on this exact same question 1.5 years ago using a similar method. You can see the results here: http://www.cricrate.com/career.php?matchFormat=Test&disc=Fielding I also ran it for ODIs and Franchise T20s: http://www.cricrate.com/career.php?matchFormat=ODI&disc=Fielding http://www.cricrate.com/career.php?matchFormat=FT20&disc=Fielding

  • POSTED BY cricfan34525466 on | October 14, 2016, 0:03 GMT

    Fantastic article - thanks. I have a minor question about the bit that goes "As a batsman's innings progresses, the odds of him offering a chance increase." I think there's more to this than the article discusses. I think his odds of being dropped decline as he scores more. If you treat each 50 as an independent event, then if the odds of being dropped in the first 50 are 0.72, then you would expect, for a batsman to make two back-to-back fifties in the same innings, the odds to be 0.72*0.72=0.52. The fact that observed chanceless hundreds are more common than this (0.56) implies that those getting to a hundred are offering fewer chances per run than those getting to 50. The same argument applies for those lucky folks getting to 200 as well - chanceless double tons occur at 0.33; yet if we calculate this as scoring four 50s, then shouldn't it be 0.72^4=0.27 or so? So I think successful batsmen are actually offering fewer chances per run. Or have I misunderstood something?

  • POSTED BY crv08 on | October 13, 2016, 23:22 GMT

    EDWIND ON made a very good point in his post. What is not easily measured is the impact a dropped catch may have had on a series or longstanding record. A good case in point is the dropped catch by West Indies wicketkeeper Courtney Browne at Sabina Park, Kingston Jamaica in 1995 off Steve Waugh when he was on 42. Waugh went on to make 200 and shared a double century partnership with his twin brother Mark which took the series decider away from the Windies . Significantly, it was the West Indies first series loss since 1980, a period of 15 years when they stood unchallenged as World Champions.

  • POSTED BY McWheels on | October 13, 2016, 20:49 GMT

    What an excellent article! The volume of research alone is a major undertaking, much more to present it in such a humane way. As a club bowler, I know who to trust and who not to in the slips, and it makes a world of difference having the right man waiting to calmly lift one off his toes at 2nd than to have to find another way through some pretty serious players.

    It's good to recognise that drops happen, as do bad balls, poor shots, and even the odd decision from an umpire that might have been questionable. It is our fallibility, and those who can rise above it, that engages us most in this game. I would caution those seeking the next level of statistical analysis, or trying to prove a confirmation bias; despite the arrays of numbers, this is still a qualitative game.

  • POSTED BY TheDoctor394 on | October 13, 2016, 20:35 GMT

    In regards to lucky batsmen, someone who could be mentioned is Keith Stackpole. I read a book recently, by John Arlott, covering the 1972 Ashes series and, from memory, Arlott wrote that England dropped at least twelve catches in the series off Stackpole alone!

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | October 13, 2016, 19:21 GMT

    Spare a thought for Mike Smith who was one of the few (the only?) Gloucestershire players to play for England in the last 50 years. Picked at Headingley in 1997 after a big haul of wickets in the Championship, he had Matthew Elliott dropped by Graham Thorpe on 28. Australia would have been 50-4, and Steve Waugh was out next over. If England had won they would have been 2-1 up with two to play. Elliott got 199, Australia 500 and an innings win. Smith finished wicketless and never played for England again.

  • POSTED BY VisBal on | October 13, 2016, 18:31 GMT

    I have a recommendation for you to use when comparing drops between players. Most players have fielded at multiple positions during their careers. At each position, you can define a player's efficiency as

    Position efficiency = (drop ratio for all players at that position)/(drop ratio for the player at that position)

    This allows us to rate the various players at various fielding positions, and also to determine where some players over-perform and under-perform.

    We can also define a combine metric as Metric = sum(number of chances * position efficiency)/sum(chances)

    This provides a means to compare fielders' overall records. In line with your above analysis that shows a significant difference between keeping to faster bowlers and spin bowlers, we can actually split up the caught behind to WK (pace/seam) and WK (spin). This way, you will not have to apologise for apparent inconsistencies, as you have taken the differences into account.

  • POSTED BY kirands on | October 13, 2016, 17:31 GMT

    In recent memory, the most famous and expensive dropped catch was the one by Brad Haddin on Day One of the 2015 Ashes series in Cardiff when he dropped Joe Root when Root was on zero. Joe Root went to score 134 and eventually win the Test match for England. I am a little surprised that no mention is made of it here but that's fine.

  • POSTED BY raghu_15 on | October 13, 2016, 16:19 GMT

    Very interesting article.. Kudos to the author for all the research.. Thank you!

  • POSTED BY Str1pe on | October 13, 2016, 14:26 GMT

    Important drops: Nathan Astle dropped Warne on zero and he went on to get 99 before being dismissed off a Daniel Vettori no-ball that was not called. Aussie could have followed on in that drawn series if the catch had been taken. Later that season, Astle dropped Graham Thorpe on 4 at the time. He got a double hundred. And when I say "he," it might sound ambiguous, which it's not because both players involved got doubles, Astle's off about seven delivieries. More importantly, New Zealand lost the Test, drew the series and could easily have had their greatest summer ever if only they could catch.

    Nobody remembers though, because, hey, 222 from 18 deliveries creates mass amnesia.

  • POSTED BY princejain191 on | October 13, 2016, 14:25 GMT

    Engrossing read! Loved it.

  • POSTED BY Str1pe on | October 13, 2016, 14:21 GMT

    Good article.

    Can you show how many runs on average a missed chance costs?

    Also, I remember Nathan McCullum dropping some poor England batsman three times in the same ODI innings.

  • POSTED BY Harris652 on | October 13, 2016, 14:21 GMT

    Initially I was sceptical about the value of this article but, as I read on,each of my objections was demolished. It is an excellent piece of work in terms of the scope of the data covered but, more importantly, the intelligence with which is is analysed.

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | October 13, 2016, 13:47 GMT

    I remember that in the early 1980s the Lancashire paceman Paul Allott had a short and not very successful career in the England side, simply through being the constant victim of dropped catches.

  • POSTED BY EdwinD on | October 13, 2016, 13:41 GMT

    A useful addition to this piece would be to cite cases where a drop has proved most significant, not in terms of the further runs the batsman scored, but the effect of the game, and history. A notable example that I can think off would be Warne's drop off Pietersen in the Ashes 2005 Oval test, which would have opened up the England tail, and most likely have led to an Australian victory, with the Ashes shared.

    And of course in the ODI world, Gibb's drop off Waugh in the 1999 World Cup group stage - had the catch been taken, Australia most likely would have lost the game and been out of the World Cup, with NZ taking their place in the semi-final. South Africa may well have gone on to win the World Cup.....

  • POSTED BY TwoPlusTwo on | October 13, 2016, 13:16 GMT

    Excellent painstakingly collected data. Always wanted to see this stat as it can reveal so much about the team fielding. The data can also be used to analyze the impact on bowlers and batsmen stats. For the matches for which the data is available, you can treat each missed chance (dropped catch, missed stumping, and missed run-out for that matter) as dismissal for batsman and each drop catch and stumping as a wicket for bowler and calculate the bowling and batting stat for the players. A comparison with the actual stat for the same matches will reveal which batsman has gained most and which bowler has suffered most.

  • POSTED BY neeraj08 on | October 13, 2016, 11:46 GMT

    Thank you sir for this wonderful article. I really wanted to know the missed chances , the stats etc. I am really glad to read about this article. I will save this. I would also like to add in this something about Ishant Sharma. In the Wellington test in 2014 Ishant dropped McCullum when he was on 36 and later he scored 302 and saved the matchfor his team(although McCullum was also dropped on 9 by Kohli is this same innings). In the Auckland test in same series Ishant dropped a tough chance of McCullum on 46 later he scored 224. In the Sydney test 2011-12 Ishant dropped M.Clarke on 182 and he later scored notout 329. In 2011 Edgbaston test also Ishant dropped Cook I can't recognise the exact score but he later went on to score 294. I would also like to add that T.Perera dropped Rohit Sharma on 4 and later he notched 264 highest ever individual score.

  • POSTED BY USCricfan on | October 13, 2016, 11:45 GMT

    Good article -- using text mining to collect data is likely new for cricket analysts. Why so apologetic in explaining Dhoni's misses? Even the caption accompanying his has an "explanation" as to why he has missed so many. I realize that percentage wise his misses are certainly not the most. Dhoni missed 66 chances which is 18%, which means in terms of total number of chances he's up there with Boucher. Roughly one in five chances was missed by Dhoni; missed catch or stumping means the bowler has to work that much harder to get wickets. That makes me wonder now why he would criticize his bowlers whenever they were not able to contain the opposition!

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | October 13, 2016, 11:21 GMT

    I'm pretty sure (without data) that having a cordon of Boucher (wk), Smith (1st), Kallis (2nd), and De Villiers (3rd) helped South Africa's test ranking rise, and helped Steyn's record too.

  • POSTED BY TAMirza on | October 13, 2016, 11:06 GMT

    What a wonderful and painstaking piece of research and data. Hats off to you Sir! Absolutely right, Colin Bland set the benchmark followed by Jonty Rhodes and SA team in general. Nowadays, every international team has its moment of brilliance and slackness. One thing I notice, particularly these days, some spectacular catches and run outs are witnessed which maybe two decades ago would have not even figured as a near miss.

    I wonder if in the past, a hit destined to be a potential six is lobbed in by the fielder standing literally on the ropes, gets himself off balances, pops out of the boundary line momentarily to gain balance, launches himself back in and takes a catch.

    Once again, I salute you for this amazing work.

  • POSTED BY dejfrith on | October 13, 2016, 11:06 GMT

    Midst the mountains of blinding statistical data offered to us on a daily basis, this comes as a brilliant, revealing and useful ground-breaking study, truly fascinating. It would be good to bring in the stats of earlier times, though this wouldn't be easy, as Mr Davis makes clear. Think of the giant Aussie George Bonnor's luck in that 1883 Test match, as mentioned above. (Len Hutton's escape, incidentally, was actually a bit of a yahoo swish, with the bat swinging through 360 degrees, so even if Ben Barnett had removed the bails the batsman would almost certainly have been in. Hutton's 364, strictly speaking, was probably chanceless.) What will the hordes of international coaches make of this extraordinary study?

  • POSTED BY DentalRask on | October 13, 2016, 11:05 GMT

    Really enjoyed the article - thank you. I think chances given/earned per 100, or per over bowled, would be a great stat to keep on all players, along with difficult catch % taken. The database you've created opens up lots of other avenues of enquiry. 1. I think the real question we want to know is: do catches win matches. In other words, how important to results are misses? For example what is the average number of runs that a miss costs. What is the relationship between misses and results e.g. if misses increase by 10%, the chances of winning drop by 20%, that sort of thing. 2. The point about chances for batsmen making 50 v 100 is interesting but a bit obvious. What we really want to know is what is the chance per 50 scored. In other words, do batsmen who make 100 give more chances in their first 50 (as they're fresh in) or their second 50 (as they're tired).

  • POSTED BY kksidiki on | October 13, 2016, 10:58 GMT

    this post rightly has kamran akmal in one picture, how true.

  • POSTED BY WindyinSancreed on | October 13, 2016, 10:45 GMT

    Outstanding piece. Now the next step is surely to calculate the cost of a missed chance - especially that missed by a keeper. Yes, Bairstow averages 41 with the bat. But if he misses chances that a "proper" keeper with an average 10 runs lower would have taken is it really worth it>

  • POSTED BY sajjadparrey on | October 13, 2016, 10:20 GMT

    CHARLES DAVIS, You have written a master piece here. I had been waiting for such an article from a long time. It is always a very sad moment for a bowler (particularly for the fast bowlers) when he watches his hardwork being put down. Also considering the drop percentages of W.Indies, Pakistan and Bangladesh, It is reflected in their rankings (Tests or ODI's). Thank you.