George Headley-the greatest West Indian test match batsman of all-time?

Harsh Thakor

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George Headley

No great batsman bore the brunt of a weak batting side in the manner of George Headley,including Brian Lara.Above all he had an outstanding average of 95 runs in test matches won and was a better batsman than even Bradman on wet tracks.Headley 's batting won his country their 1st ever test series in 1935 and enabled them to draw a rubber against a powerful English team in 1928-29.Morally,Headley had the highest ever average percentage score out of a team's total score.

With West Indies depending so heavily on Headley to put up runs on the board, he had a huge role to play in three of the five Tests that the team won during his career. In the first Test that West Indies won, against England in Guyana in 1930, Headley scored 114 and 112; the next time they won, against Australia in Sydney in 1931, Headley contributed 105 and 30. (Bradman made 43 and 0 in the same game.) Headley's highest score came in a win, too, when he scored an unbeaten 270 in Kingston, in a match England lost by an innings and 161 runs. Overall, Headley's average in wins was 95.75, and had it not been for his final game, when he made 16 and 1 in a game against England, his winning average would have been 124.83.

Best averages in Test wins (Qual: 750 runs) Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Don Bradman 30 4813 130.08 23/ 4
George Headley 5 766 95.75 4/ 1
Graeme Pollock 9 1178 84.14 4/ 6
Clyde Walcott 12 1113 79.50 3/ 4
Mike Denness 8 783 78.30 4/ 1
Inzamam-ul-Haq 49 4690 78.16 17/ 20

Headley outscored Bradman in that Sydney Test mentioned above, but in the four other Tests in which the two played against each other, the Don was a clear winner. That was in the 1930-31 series in Australia, which the hosts won 4-1. While both batsmen scored two hundreds, Bradman made the bigger knocks - 223 and 152, to Headley's 102 not out and 105, and finished with a series average that was twice that of Headley. Considering the strength of the rest of his team-mates, though, Headley deserves even more credit for racking up the kind of numbers he did.

The No. 3 position was Headley's favourite; it was a slot he occupied in 75% of his Test innings, but he scored 94% of his career runs in those innings. All of his 10 centuries came from that slot - which means, quite remarkably, one in every 3.2 innings in that position was a hundred - as did four out of five fifties.

Among batsmen who've scored at least 2000 runs from that slot, only Bradman, Ken Barrington and Wally Hammond have higher averages than Headley's 71.17. They're also the only ones to average more than 70 in that position, with the average of the next batsman in that list, Viv Richards, dropping to 61.54.

Best No.3 batsmen in Tests (Qual: 2000 runs) Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s

Don Bradman 56 5078 103.63 20/ 10
Ken Barrington 40 2626 77.23 13/ 7
Wally Hammond 52 3440 74.78 14/ 4
George Headley 32 2064 71.17 10/ 4
Viv Richards 59 3508 61.54 12/ 14
Brian Lara 66 3749 60.46 9/ 13
Ricky Ponting 177 9421 59.62 32/ 38
Kumar Sangakkara 127 6916 58.11 20/ 30
Rahul Dravid 179 8970 55.71 23/ 45
Hashim Amla 62 2977 53.16 9/ 16

.Match Performances:

The following factors are considered.

Base for calculation will be Runs scored. Other factors are explained below. Each of these is a multiplicative parameter, ranging either side of 1.00. For certain parameters such as result, home/away, runs added with late order et al, there would not be a below 1.00 value.

1. Pitch type.
2. Quality of bowling - weighted by actual balls bowled by each bowler.
3. Position at batsman entry (5 for 1, 100 for 2, 24 for 3, 325 for 4 et al).
4. Runs added with late order batsmen (no. 8 onwards).
5. Innings type (1/2/3/4, Score faced, Target et al).
6. Match result, taking into consideration relative team strengths.
7. Match location (Home/Away).
8. Match importance (Series status).





The points for each innings are computed, summed and divided by the number of matches played to arrive at the Match Performance Ratings value. The highest Match Performance Ratings value is 40.03 achieved by Bradman. George Headley is the next best in this category with 28.48 points followed by Lara with 27.31 points. Gary Sobesr has 25.48 while Wekes has 25.65 Thus the limit of 50 we set has worked out well.

Revised match peformance ratings in 2nd analysis of 2009 by Ananth Narayana

1.George Headley 24.07

2.Brian Lara 22.63

3.Viv Richards 21.83

4..EvertonWeekes-21.16

5.Gary Sobers 20.67


In average in matches won,average in matches lost match-performance rating and adjusted batting average George Headley is ahead of Lara ,Sobers and Viv Richards.Had he played as many tests as Sobers,Lara or Viv there is every possibility he would have emulated them.Inspite of playing for the weakest of teams he still contributed so much in victories ,which is remarkable.
 
I highly doubt it. He was the first coloured player of note and paved the way for coloured players. So he's definitely a great of the game. But if you delve into his numbers you could see that he mainly feasted on the English. Also since WI were minnows back then Eng and Aus did not play their full strength attacks a lot of the time. So he may have been called the black Bradman, given the way he stood out for both WI and historically speaking, but to say he's the all time best bat from WI is quite a stretch imo.
 
Infact Bradman was called the 'white Headley.'George would have feasted on the flat pancakes of today.Infact the world war deprived him of a proper full career.Imagine what Headley would have scored if he played for Clive Lloyd's or Frank Worrel's West Indian teams.He may well have overshadowed Tendulkar or Lara.No modern great may have equalled Headley on wet pitches or championed the cause for such a weak team.
 
The guy averaged in the 30s against Aus. Hardly Bradmanesque that. :don
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">“He was the greatest West Indian batsman of his time.”<br><br>Remembering the ICC Hall of Famer George Headley on his birth anniversary &#55357;&#56573;️</p>— ICC (@ICC) <a href="https://twitter.com/ICC/status/1531281779948105729?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 30, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
I highly doubt it. He was the first coloured player of note and paved the way for coloured players. So he's definitely a great of the game. But if you delve into his numbers you could see that he mainly feasted on the English. Also since WI were minnows back then Eng and Aus did not play their full strength attacks a lot of the time. So he may have been called the black Bradman, given the way he stood out for both WI and historically speaking, but to say he's the all time best bat from WI is quite a stretch imo.

He got 150 runs for once out right at the end of his career against Trueman, Statham and Lock, having missed six years of his career due to WW2.

He also plated against Voce, Bower and Verity.

Also two centuries batting against Clarrie Grimmett.
 
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