Bowling average

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Of bowlers who have bowled at least 600 balls in Test cricket, George Lohmann has the lowest career bowling average, 10.75. George Lohmann 1895b.jpg
Of bowlers who have bowled at least 600 balls in Test cricket, George Lohmann has the lowest career bowling average, 10.75.

In cricket, a player's bowling average is the number of runs they have conceded per wicket taken. The lower the bowling average is, the better the bowler is performing. It is one of a number of statistics used to compare bowlers, commonly used alongside the economy rate and the strike rate to judge the overall performance of a bowler.

Cricket Team sport played with bats and balls

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player. Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground. When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match's statistical information.

Run (cricket) run scored in cricket

In cricket, a run is the unit of scoring. The team with the most runs wins in many versions of the game, and always draws at worst, except for some results decided by the Duckworth–Lewis method. One run is scored when a batsman has hit the ball with the bat, or with a gloved hand holding the bat, and directed it away from the fielders so that both the striker and the non-striker are able to run the length of the pitch, crossing each other and arriving safely at the other end of the pitch, before the fielders can retrieve the ball and hit the wicket.

Bowling (cricket) cricket delivery

Bowling, in cricket, is the action of propelling the ball toward the wicket defended by a batter. A player skilled at bowling is called a bowler; a bowler who is also a competent batter is known as an all-rounder. Bowling the ball is distinguished from throwing the ball by a strictly specified biomechanical definition, which restricts the angle of extension of the elbow. A single act of bowling the ball towards the batsman is called a ball or a delivery. Bowlers bowl deliveries in sets of six, called an over. Once a bowler has bowled an over, a teammate will bowl an over from the other end of the pitch. The Laws of Cricket govern how a ball must be bowled. If a ball is bowled illegally, an umpire will rule it a no-ball. If a ball is bowled too wide of the striker for the batsman to be able to play at it with a proper cricket shot, the bowler's end umpire will rule it a wide.


When a bowler has taken only a small number of wickets, their bowling average can be artificially high or low, and unstable, with further wickets taken or runs conceded resulting in large changes to their bowling average. Due to this, qualification restrictions are generally applied when determining which players have the best bowling averages. After applying these criteria, George Lohmann holds the record for the lowest average in Test cricket, having claimed 112 wickets at an average of 10.75 runs per wicket.

George Lohmann English cricket player

George Alfred Lohmann was an English cricketer, regarded as one of the greatest bowlers of all time. Statistically, he holds the lowest lifetime Test bowling average among bowlers with more than fifteen wickets and he has the second highest peak rating for a bowler in the ICC ratings. He also holds the record for the lowest strike rate in all Test history.

Test cricket The longest form of cricket

Test cricket is the form of the sport of cricket with the longest match duration, and is considered the game's highest standard. Test matches are played between national representative teams that have been granted ‘Test status’, as determined and conferred by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The term Test stems from the fact that the long, gruelling matches are mentally and physically testing. Two teams of 11 players each play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days. It is generally considered the most complete examination of a team's endurance and ability.


A cricketer's bowling average is calculated by dividing the numbers of runs they have conceded by the number of wickets they have taken. [2] The number of runs conceded by a bowler is determined as the total number of runs that the opposing side have scored while the bowler was bowling, excluding any byes, leg byes, [3] or penalty runs. [4] The bowler receives credit for any wickets taken during their bowling that are either bowled, caught, hit wicket, leg before wicket or stumped. [5]

In cricket, a bye is a type of extra run scored by the batting team when the ball has not been hit by the batsman and the ball has not hit the batsman's body.

In the sport of cricket, a leg bye is a run scored by the batting team if the batsman has not hit the ball with their bat, but the ball has hit the batsman's body or protective gear. It is covered by Law 23 of the Laws of Cricket.

In cricket, a penalty run is a type of Extra run awarded for various breaches of the Laws, generally related to unfair play or player conduct. Many of these penalties have been added since 2000. Penalties are awarded under Law 41 for Unfair Play and, since 2017 under Law 42 for Players' Conduct

A number of flaws have been identified for the statistic, most notable among these the fact that a bowler who has taken no wickets cannot have a bowling average, as dividing by zero does not give a result. The effect of this is that the bowling average cannot distinguish between a bowler who has taken no wickets and conceded one run, and a bowler who has taken no wickets and conceded one hundred runs. The bowling average also does not tend to give a true reflection of the bowler's ability when the number of wickets they have taken is small, especially in comparison to the number of runs they have conceded. [6] In his paper proposing an alternative method of judging batsmen and bowlers, Paul van Staden gives an example of this:

Division by zero The result yielded by a real number when divided by zero

In mathematics, division by zero is division where the divisor (denominator) is zero. Such a division can be formally expressed as a/0 where a is the dividend (numerator). In ordinary arithmetic, the expression has no meaning, as there is no number which, when multiplied by 0, gives a, and so division by zero is undefined. Since any number multiplied by zero is zero, the expression 0/0 is also undefined; when it is the form of a limit, it is an indeterminate form. Historically, one of the earliest recorded references to the mathematical impossibility of assigning a value to a/0 is contained in George Berkeley's criticism of infinitesimal calculus in 1734 in The Analyst.

Suppose a bowler has bowled a total of 80 balls, conceded 60 runs and has taken only 2 wickets so that.. [their average is] 30. If the bowler takes a wicket with the next ball bowled (no runs obviously conceded), then [their average is] 20. [6]

Due to this, when establishing records for bowling averages, qualification criteria are generally set. For Test cricket, the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack sets this as 75 wickets, [7] while ESPNcricinfo requires 2,000 deliveries. [8] Similar restrictions are set for one-day cricket. [9] [10]

<i>Wisden Cricketers Almanack</i> British cricket almanac

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack is a cricket reference book published annually in the United Kingdom. The description "bible of cricket" was first used in the 1930s by Alec Waugh in a review for the London Mercury. In October 2013, an all-time Test World XI was announced to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

ESPNcricinfo sports news website

ESPNcricinfo is a sports news website exclusively for the game of cricket. The site features news, articles, live coverage of cricket matches, and StatsGuru, a database of historical matches and players from the 18th century to the present. As of March 2018, Sambit Bal was the editor. The site, originally conceived in a pre-World Wide Web form in 1993 by Dr Simon King, was acquired in 2002 by the Wisden Group—publishers of several notable cricket magazines and the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. As part of an eventual breakup of the Wisden Group, it was sold to ESPN, jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation, in 2007.

Delivery (cricket) single action of bowling a cricket ball

A delivery or ball in cricket is a single action of bowling a cricket ball toward the batsman.


A number of factors other than purely the ability level of the bowler have an effect on a player's bowling average. Most significant among these are the different eras in which cricket has been played. The bowling average tables in Test and first-class cricket are headed by players who competed in the nineteenth century, [11] a period when pitches were uncovered and some were so badly looked after that they had rocks on them. The bowlers competing in the Howa Bowl, a competition played in South African during the apartheid-era, restricted to non-white players, [12] during which time, according to Vincent Barnes: "Most of the wickets we played on were underprepared. For me, as a bowler, it was great." [13] Other factors which provided an advantage to bowlers in that era was the lack of significant safety equipment; batting gloves and helmets were not worn, and batsmen had to be warier. Other variations are caused by frequent matches against stronger or weaker opposition, changes in the laws of cricket and the length of matches. [14]


Completed Test career bowling averages
Charles Marriott (ENG)
Frederick Martin (ENG)
George Lohmann (ENG)
Laurie Nash (AUS)
John Ferris (AUS/ENG)
Tom Horan (AUS)
Harry Dean (ENG)
Albert Trott (AUS/ENG)
Mike Procter (SA)
Jack Iverson (AUS)
Tom Kendall (AUS)
Alec Hurwood (AUS)
Billy Barnes (ENG)
John Trim (WI)
Billy Bates (ENG)

Source: Cricinfo
Qualification: 10 wickets, career completed.
A. N. Hornby is one of three players to have a bowling average of zero in Test cricket. AN Hornby c1895.jpg
A. N. Hornby is one of three players to have a bowling average of zero in Test cricket.

Due to the varying qualifying restrictions placed on the records by different statisticians, the record for the lowest career bowling average can be different from publication to publication.

Test cricket

In Test cricket, George Lohmann is listed as having the superior average by each of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack , ESPNcricinfo and CricketArchive. Though all three use different restrictions, Lohmann's average of 10.75 is considered the best. [1] [7] [8] If no qualification criteria were applied at all, three players—Wilf Barber, A. N. Hornby and Bruce Murray—would tie for the best average, all having claimed just one wicket in Test matches, without conceding any runs, thus averaging zero. [15]

ESPNcricinfo list Betty Wilson as having the best Women's Test cricket average with 11.80, [16] while CricketArchive accept Mary Spear's average of 5.78. [17]

One Day Internationals

In One Day Internationals, the varying criteria set by ESPNcricinfo and CricketArchive result in different players being listed as holding the record. ESPNcricinfo has the stricter restriction, requiring 1,000 deliveries: by this measure, Joel Garner is the record-holder, having claimed his wickets at an average of 18.84. [9] By CricketArchive's more relaxed requirement of 400 deliveries, John Snow leads the way, with an average of 16.57. [18]

In women's One Day International cricket, Caroline Barrs tops the CricketArchive list with an average of 9.52, [19] but by ESPNcricinfo's stricter guidelines, the record is instead held by Gill Smith's 12.53. [20]

T20 Internationals

The record is again split for the two websites for Twenty20 International cricket; in this situation ESPNcricinfo has the lower boundary, requiring just 30 balls to have been bowled. George O'Brien's average of 8.20 holds the record using those criteria, but the stricter 200 deliveries required by CricketArchive results in Andre Botha being listed as the superior, averaging 8.76. [10] [21]

First Class cricket

Domestically, the records for first-class cricket are dominated by players from the nineteenth century, who make up sixteen of the top twenty by ESPNcricinfo's criteria of 5,000 deliveries. William Lillywhite, who was active from 1825 to 1853 has the lowest average, claiming his 1,576 wickets at an average of just 1.54. The leading players from the twentieth century are Stephen Draai and Vincent Barnes with averages of just under twelve, [11] both of whom claimed the majority of their wickets in the South African Howa Bowl tournament during the apartheid era. [22] [23]

See also

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