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Stat update: How the supposed big four in Test cricket are faring

Joe Root made a double century at Seddon Park, Kane Williamson followed it up with a century of his own in the second innings. Earlier in November, Virat Kohli hit a sensational hundred against Bangladesh in the pink ball Test. Steven Smith is among the top two run-scorers in 2019 in Tests despite playing a whole lot of less Test matches than the others.

The era of the big four has peaked with the decade coming to an end and it’s only apt we check up on how each of them have fared and where they stand – a review of sorts of the big four.

The overall Test career numbers of the big four make for interesting viewing. Joe Root has the most runs among the four big batsmen and is in fact the third highest run-scorer in Tests since 2008 despite making his Test debut only in 2012 – Hashim Amla and Alastair Cook coming above him in the list. A closer look, though, reveals that Root has played a lot more innings than the others in the big four, thereby enabling him to score more runs. In terms of averages, Root comes well behind the others with each of Smith, Kohli and Williamson averaging over 50 in Test cricket.

Interestingly, a feature of Joe Root’s Test career is an inability to convert his half-centuries into bigger knocks, in sharp contrast to that of Kohli who has an impressive conversion rate in Test cricket. Root has the most number of half-centuries among the big four with a stunning 45 of them – Williamson comes a distant second with 31. But Root is behind in terms of century count with only 17 centuries for him in Test cricket.

Root’s 50 to 100 conversion rate is a rather poor 27.41%. The others have percentages well above him –  55.1% (Kohli), 49.05% (Smith) and 40.38% (Williamson).

To identify the best in recent times, we cut down numbers to after 2015, and we see Root falls well behind in the race and Smith goes well above the rest.

Kohli and Williamson averages in the 60s while Root is still stuck in the 40s. Smith, on the other hand, has gone up to the 70s with his conversion rate also peaking to above 50%. Kohli also maintains his conversion rate, while Williamson falls behind 50%. Root, on the other hand, has only 12 tons in 50 scores of fifty or more, a pathetic conversion rate of 24%.

While Kohli, Smith and Williamson are clearly stamping down their position in the big four, Root is slipping down with Cheteshwar Pujara staking claims to enter the big four. His numbers are much better than Root in recent times, as is his conversion rate.



Rohit Sankar is a freelance cricket journalist stuck in a love-hate live-in relationship with the game. To rile him up, mention the 1999 World Cup semi-final. Rohit has been writing about cricket for well over 10 years now, and has written for a variety of news and sports outlets over this time.


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