Bowling average is one of a number of statistics used to compare bowlers in the sport of cricket. It is the ratio of runs conceded per wickets taken, meaning that the lower the bowling average is, the better the bowler is performing. Bowling average is commonly used alongside the economy rate and the strike rate to judge the overall performance of a bowler.
When a bowler has taken only a small number of wickets, their bowling average can be artificially low, and an increase in wickets taken can result in large changes in their bowling average. Due to this, qualification caveats are generally applied to determine career records for 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.
A cricketer's bowling average is calculated by dividing the numbers of runs they have conceded by the number of wickets they have taken. 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, or penalty runs. The bowler receives credit for any wickets taken during their bowling that are either bowled, caught, hit wicket, leg before wicket or stumped.
A number of flaws have been identified for the statistic, most notable among these the fact that a bowler who has taken no wickets can not have a bowling average, as dividing by zero does not give a result. The effect of this is that the bowling average can not 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. In his paper proposing an alternative method of judging batsmen and bowlers, Paul van Staden gives an example of this:
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.
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, while ESPNcricinfo requires 2,000 deliveries. Similar restrictions are set for one-day cricket.
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, a period when pitches were uncovered and some were so badly looked after that they had rocks on them. 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. The bowlers competing in the Howa Bowl, a competition played in South African during the apartheid-era, restricted to non-white players, during which time, according to Vincent Barnes: "Most of the wickets we played on were underprepared. For me, as a bowler, it was great."
|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)|
Qualification: 10 wickets, career completed.
Due to the varying restrictions placed on the records by different statisticians, the record for the lowest career bowling average can be different from publication to publication. 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. 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.
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. By CricketArchive's more relaxed requirement of 400 deliveries, John Snow leads the way, with an average of 16.57. 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. The variations continue in women's international cricket; ESPNcricinfo list Betty Wilson as having the best Test average with 11.80, while CricketArchive accept Mary Spear's average of 5.78. In women's One Day International cricket, Caroline Barrs tops the CricketArchive list with an average of 9.52, but by ESPNcricinfo's stricter guidelines, the record is instead held by Gill Smith's 12.53.
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, both of whom claimed the majority of their wickets in the South African Howa Bowl tournament during the apartheid era.
Johannes Albertus Morkel (born 10 June 1981), better known as Albie Morkel, is a former South African cricketer. He is an all-rounder who bowls right-arm medium fast and bats left-handed. He was ear marked as the new Lance Klusener from an early age and is famous for his six hitting abilities. Albie has a brother, Morné Morkel, who also plays international cricket for South Africa while his father Albert played provincial cricket in South Africa. He has a particularly impressive first class record, with a batting average of 44.0 and a bowling average of 29.0. In January 2019, he retired from all forms of cricket.All-rounder
An all-rounder is a cricketer who regularly performs well at both batting and bowling. Although all bowlers must bat and quite a few batsmen do bowl occasionally, most players are skilled in only one of the two disciplines and are considered specialists. Some wicket-keepers have the skills of a specialist batsman and have been referred to as all-rounders, but the term wicketkeeper-batsman is more commonly applied to them, even if they are substitute wicketkeepers who also bowl.Anne-Marie McDonald
Anne-Marie Frances Garth (née McDonald; born 26 April 1963) is a former Irish international cricketer who played for the Irish national team between 1988 and 1989. A right-handed medium-pace bowler, she played in twelve One Day International (ODI) matches, including at the 1988 World Cup.
A graduate of Dominican College Sion Hill, in County Dublin, McDonald made her international debut at the 1988 World Cup in Australia. She went on to play in all nine of her team's matches, but managed only two wickets overall, the least of any specialist Irish bowler. Her tournament bowling average of 115.50 was only surpassed by Chantal Grevers of the Netherlands, who had an average of 121.50. McDonald had greater success in her three other ODI appearances, all of which came at the 1989 European Championship in Denmark. She took 2/32 in the first match against Denmark, which she followed with a career-best 2/18 against the Netherlands. McDonald was 26 at the time of her last match, and finished her ODI career with a bowling average of 54.83.McDonald married Jonathan Garth, a member of the Irish men's side. Their daughter, Kim Garth, has also represented Ireland in cricket.Cathryn Fitzpatrick
Cathryn Lorraine Fitzpatrick (born 4 March 1968 in Melbourne) is a former Australian cricketer. She was recognised as the world's fastest women pace bowler, bowling at up to 125 km/h. She announced her retirement from international and state cricket in March 2007, intending to concentrate on coaching. in 2019, Fitzpatrick was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.Fitzpatrick played domestic cricket for Victorian Spirit, appearing in 103 domestic matches. She made her international debut for Australia in 1991. She played in 13 Test matches, scoring 152 runs at a batting average of 16.88, including one half-century. She took 60 Test wickets at a bowling average of 19.11. Only one Australian woman has taken more Test wickets. She also played in 109 Women's One-day Internationals, scoring 651 runs at 16.69 and taking 180 wickets at 16.79, the most wickets for any woman in ODIs until passed by Jhulan Goswami in May 2017. She also played in two international Twenty20 matches.
Fitzpatrick was a member of the Australian team that won the Women's Cricket World Cup in 1997 and 2005. She won the Australian International Woman Cricketer of the Year award (presented at the Allan Border Medal night) in 2004.
Fitzpatrick is the oldest woman cricketer to take a five wicket haul in Women's ODI history (at the age of 37 years and 358 days).Chandu Sarwate
Chandrasekhar Trimbak Sarwate (pronunciation ; 22 July 1920 – 23 December 2003) was an Indian cricketer and fingerprint expert. He was an all-rounder who played nine Test matches for India between 1946 and 1951 without much success — his Test batting average was only 13.00, and his Test bowling average was 124.66. He bowled slow leg breaks.Gillian Smith
Gillian Anne Smith (born 22 November 1965 in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire) is an English cricketer and former member of the England women's cricket team. She has the lowest Bowling average in Women's One Day International cricket.Ian Howell
Ian Lester Howell (born 20 May 1958 in Port Elizabeth, Cape Province, South Africa) is a South African cricket umpire. As a player, he played first-class cricket for Border and Eastern Province in South Africa. A left-hand batsman and a left-arm medium bowler he played 119 first-class games scoring 3767 runs with 5 hundreds and 13 fifties and a batting average of 26.90. His top score was 115 not out. He took 243 first-class wickets with 5 five-wicket hauls with a best of 6/38 and a bowling average of 35.74.James Faulkner (cricketer)
James Peter Faulkner (born 29 April 1990) is an Australian cricketer who plays for Tasmania. An all-rounder, left-arm medium pacer and right-hand batsman, Faulkner is particularly known for his aggressive batting in the middle order, and for his "at the death" bowling. He is often referred to as the "Finisher".
He was a prominent member of the victorious Australian squad that won the 2015 Cricket World Cup and was Man of the Match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup final.
He has a particularly impressive first class record with a batting average of 32.0 and a bowling average of 24.0. He also has a very good ODI record with a batting average of 34.0 and a bowling average of 30.0.Karen Rolton
Karen Louise Rolton (born 21 November 1974 in Adelaide) is an Australian former cricketer. A left-handed batswoman and occasional left-arm medium-paced bowler, she has scored the most runs for Australia in women's Test cricket.Rolton plays domestic cricket for South Australian Scorpions. She made her international debut for Australia in 1995. She has played in 14 Test matches, scoring 1,002 runs at a batting average of 55.66, including two centuries and five half-centuries. She made her top score of 209 not out against England at Headingley in 2001, setting a world record. With the ball, she has taken 14 Test wickets with a bowling average of 23.35. She has also scored 4,814 runs at 48.14 and taken 85 wickets at 20.81 in her 141 Women's One Day Internationals, holding the record for the number of appearances until England's Charlotte Edwards won her 142nd cap in 2010. She has also played in 15 Twenty20 Internationals matches. She was vice-captain of the Australian team from 1997, and took over from Belinda Clark as captain in February 2006.New Zealand coach Steve Jenkin once joked that the best tactic against Rolton was to avoid dismissing the Australia's women team's openers so she could not bat.Rolton is the first female cricketer to score a century in a Knockout stage of a Women's World Cup match.She has twice won the Australian International Woman Cricketer of the Year award (presented at the Allan Border Medal night) in consecutive years, in 2002 and 2003 and then in 2005 and 2006. She scored 107 in the final of the Women's Cricket World Cup in 2005, and was named as player of the match. She was the International Cricket Council's inaugural Female Player of the Year in 2006. She also holds the record for the highest individual score on debut by any female cricketer in Women's Twenty20 cricket (96).During the winter, Rolton plays hockey.
Rolton announced her retirement from international cricket in January 2010, after a 14-year career.Rolton was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in early 2018, and in March 2018, the South Australian Cricket Association unveiled a new community sporting pavilion in Adelaide, with the main ground named the Karen Rolton Oval.Lance Klusener
Lance Klusener (born 4 September 1971) is a former South African all-rounder cricketer. He is known for his aggressive batting and his fast-medium swing bowling.
He is nicknamed "Zulu" because of his fluency in the Zulu language. Since his retirement he has occasionally commentated on cricket in both Zulu and Xhosa, as the two languages are mutually intelligible.
His ODI batting average of 41.0 and ODI bowling average of 29.0 places him among the ranks of South Africa's most accomplished one-day players. He also has a particularly impressive first class record, with a batting average of 43.0 and a bowling average of 30.0.Malcolm Marshall
Malcolm Denzil Marshall (18 April 1958 – 4 November 1999) was a West Indian cricketer. Primarily a fast bowler, Marshall is regarded as one of the finest and fastest pacemen ever to have played Test cricket. His Test bowling average of 20.94 is the best of anyone who has taken 200 or more wickets. He achieved his bowling success despite being, by the standards of other fast bowlers, a short man – he stood at 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m), while most of the great quicks have been well above 6 feet (1.8 m) and many great West Indian fast bowlers, such as Joel Garner, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, were 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) or above. He generated fearsome pace from his bowling action, with a dangerous bouncer. Marshall was also a very dangerous lower middle-order batsman with ten Test fifties and seven first-class centuries.Oliver White
Oliver Claude White (11 March 1880 – 12 January 1956) was an English cricketer. White was a right-handed batsman who bowled right-arm slow. He was born in Iver, Buckinghamshire and educated at Merchant Taylors' School, where he played for the school cricket team.White made his debut for Buckinghamshire in the 1906 Minor Counties Championship against Wiltshire. He made 2 further appearances for the county, both coming in 1906 against Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Following World War I, White made his first-class debut for Northamptonshire against Essex in the 1920 County Championship. He made 4 further first-class appearances for Northamptonshire, all coming in 1920, with his final appearance coming against Essex. In his 5 first-class matches, he scored 57 runs at an average of 9.50, with a high score of 15*. With the ball, he took 10 wickets at a bowling average of 27.90, with best figures of 3/49.White died in Earlswood, Surrey on 12 January 1956.Paul Weekes
Paul Nicholas Weekes (born 8 July 1969) is an English former cricketer. He is a left-handed batsman and a right-arm offspin bowler.
Born in Hackney, Weekes made his first-class debut for Middlesex in 1990. He is the only English cricketer to have scored more than 150 runs in both innings of a first-class game. He has twice made over 1,000 runs in 1996 and 2004. He helped Middlesex finish the 2005 National League as runners-up to Essex.
He retired from first-class cricket following Middlesex's relegation at the end of the 2006 county season, having stated his desire to play regular first team cricket earlier in the season. He finished his career with a first-class batting average of 34.88 and a first-class bowling average of 41.97, with 304 wickets to his name.
He plays club cricket for Hornsey Cricket Club and has been a key part of the Hackney Community College Cricket Academy coaching team since 2002. Weekesl also coaches twice a week at Westminster School and at Belmont Mill Hill Preparatory School in the summer term.Rawl Lewis
Rawl Nicholas Lewis (born September 5, 1974) is a West Indian cricketer. Statistically, he is one of the most ineffective Test bowlers of recent times.
Lewis is a right-handed batsman and a leg spin bowler. Having bowled during three Tests, in which he bowled 97.3 overs, he conceded 388 runs and captured just a single wicket, giving him a Test bowling average of 388.00, the worst bowling average in Test cricket.
He captained the Windward Islands and played for Barrow Cricket Club in England, before being recalled to the West Indies squad for the tour of New Zealand in 2006.Lewis was recalled to the West Indies team in 2008 for the 2nd Test match against South Africa. He picked up 3 wickets in the match, thus greatly improving his average although it was not enough to force a win, his side losing by seven wickets in Cape Town.He is currently Interim Operations Team Manager of West Indian cricket team for 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in India. During this tournament, he was publicly recognised by team captain, Darren Sammy, for his efforts to outfit the team after receiving little support from the WICB.Roger Harper
Roger Andrew Harper (b. 17 March 1963, Georgetown, Demerara, Guyana) is a former West Indies cricketer turned coach, who played both Test and ODI cricket for the West Indies. His international career lasted 13 years, from 1983 to 1996, and he was later described as a "fabulous" fielder.His Test bowling average of 28.06 is superior to that of Lance Gibbs, giving him the leading average among all West Indian spinners with at least 25 Test wickets. One of his most notable performances was against South Africa in the Quarter Finals of the 1996 Cricket World Cup when he took 4/47 to allow the West Indies to seize control of the match.
Harper was an all-rounder who batted right-handed and bowled off breaks with his right arm; as a player, he recorded 535 runs and 46 wickets in his 25 Tests, and he played 200 first class matches. After his playing career, he became coach, taking over the West Indies team between 2000 and 2003, and then as team manager of the West Indies youth team in 2005. However, he was approached by the Cricket Kenya in late December 2005 with an offer of taking over the Kenyan national team after interim coach Mudassar Nazar, and the appointment was made official in January 2006. Harper said it "was great to be back" coaching players "at a relatively high level."Rubel Hossain
Mohammad Rubel Hossain (Bengali: মোহাম্মদ রুবেল হোসেন; born 1 January 1990) is a Bangladeshi cricketer. He has the poorest bowling average amongst Test players who have bowled at least 2,500 deliveries. He made his Test, ODI and T20I debuts in 2009.South African cricket team in England in 1901
The South Africa national cricket team toured England between 16 May and 20 August 1901. They played 15 first-class cricket matches, and 10 other matches during their visit. Although a number of matches played by South Africa during the 1880s and 1890s were retrospectively granted Test cricket status, as the 1901 touring side did not play a representative England side, they did not compete in any Test matches. The South Africans were captained by Murray Bisset. The tour went ahead despite the ongoing Boer War, which suspended first-class cricket in South Africa between 1899 and 1902.During the tour, Maitland Hathorn was the most successful batsman for the South Africans, scoring 827 runs at a batting average of 35.95. George Rowe was the tourists' leading wicket taker, with 70 wickets, but Jimmy Sinclair had the superior bowling average, claiming his 61 wickets at 19.85.Tapash Baisya
Tapash Baisya (Bengali: তাপস বৈশ্য) (born 25 December 1982, in Sylhet) is a former Bangladeshi cricketer.
Tapash Baisya took 36 Test wickets, although they came at a bowling average of nearly 60. Nevertheless, he has taken the third-most wickets of any Bangladeshi fast bowler, behind Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain. He took four wickets in a Test innings only once: four for 72 against West Indies on their 2002–03 tour of Bangladesh. With the bat he scored two Test fifties.
He played first-class cricket for Sylhet Division from 2000–01 to 2012–13. His highest score was 112 off 173 balls, batting at number eight against Chittagong Division in 2006–07. His best bowling figures were 6 for 37 against Dhaka Division in 2012–13. Right now he is currently playing professional cricket for a team in the United States of America in New Jersey. He is also a cricket coach who teaches many young kids in bat and ball.Tip Snooke
Sibley John "Tip" Snooke (1 February 1881 – 14 August 1966) played Test cricket for South Africa as an all-rounder, captaining the side to victory 3–2 against England in a five-Test series in South Africa in 1909–10. He played in 26 Test matches, playing the first 23 between 1906 and 1912, and he was recalled aged 41 for three further Test matches against England in South Africa in 1922–23.
Snooke was born in St Mark's, Tembuland. He scored 1,008 Test runs at a batting average of 22.39, including one century against Australia at Adelaide in 1910–11, and took 35 Test wickets at a bowling average of 20.05, with best figures of 8/70 in an innings and 12/127 for a match, both against England at Johannesburg in 1905–06. Four years later against England at Cape Town, he dismissed two batsmen – Wilfred Rhodes and David Denton – in the very first over of a Test match, a feat that was not repeated until nearly ninety years later.
He played 124 first-class cricket matches for Border, Western Province and Transvaal, scoring 4,821 runs at an average of 25.91 and taking 120 wickets at an average of 25.14.
He died at Port Elizabeth, aged 85. His brother, Stanley Snooke, also played Test cricket for South Africa.