England, India, Murali Vijay
Murali Vijay struggled so far in English conditions. Getty Images)

Steady. Reliant. Calm. Gentle. Patient. Monk. These adjectives have often been used for India’s heavily experienced opener Murali Vijay, who made his Test debut a decade ago.  Well, if you are a decade old in the Test circuit, expectations from you are bound to be exceedingly high. So, has India benefitted from all that experience which Vijay has under belt? Under Virat Kohli, the first couple of Tests in England concurrently have provided an answer to that.

In a similar sense, a lot of pundits across the globe rate Vijay among the steadiest openers in Test cricket have even rated him higher than someone as dependable as Gautam Gambhir? But do numbers back those claims? Certainly not.

The career in a nutshell:

It is a shame to say that someone who has played 59 Tests for India, doesn’t even average 40 in Test cricket. For a country like India which is blessed in resources from the batting front, such figures paint a rather sorry portrait.

An average of 39.72 is highly underwhelming for Vijay, who has batted in exactly 100 innings. To further dissect his stats, Vijay averages just 32.86 away from home with three tons to his name.

So much so, these numbers include an exceptionally productively tour of Australia in 2014/15, where he averaged more than 60 across four Tests. However, compared to his other numbers, that tour does seem like an absolute outlier.

Poor Conversion:

From the conversion front as well, Vijay’s overall career stats don’t look too rosy either. Across 100 innings, Vijay has 27 scores in excess of 50, meaning  3.70 innings per fifty-plus score. That stat seems a bit murky when his overseas numbers are taken into account. In 51 away innings, that ratio goes up to 4.25.

Murali Vijay, England, India
Murali Vijay seems to have lost touch. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Speaking of the elegant opener’s conversion outside Asia, makes up for another pale show. Having played in Australia, England, New Zealand, Windies and South Africa, at some places on multiple tours, Vijay’s numbers do not inspire a lot of confidence.

In 44 innings he has batted outside Asia, Vijay can boast of nine scores in excess of 50. That takes the innings to fifty-plus score ratio to 4.89, an alarming stat for an opener who is confident of a spot. Upon removing that tour of Australia, that ratio for Vijay goes up to nine.

Fair to say, a lot more is expected from an elegant opener like Murali Vijay while performing overseas.

Dismal show since 2016:

If we consider Vijay’s performance since 1st January 2016, his numbers have taken an even bigger hit. In this time span, India has toured the Windies, South Africa and currently England. The opener has been all at sea in these tours and has looked far from being his calm self, as he was in Australia a few years ago.

Murali Vijay, India, England
Murali Vijay facing the heat. Image Courtesy: Getty Images

In 10 innings outside Asia since January 2016, Vijay averages a disgraceful 13.50, with the best score of 46 in South Africa. For the same criteria, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a number eight candidate averages 25.25.

The more worrying aspect for tours since 2016 has been that Vijay has looked far impatient.

In England this time around, a place where he averaged 40 on his previous visit, Vijay struggled against the moving ball. And in South Africa as well, the opener was far impatient and chased deliveries outside the off stump, leading to his downfall.

Murali Vijay, India, England
In 2014, Murali Vijay represented India in England. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Our Verdict:

With his age on the wrong side (30), another couple of failures could easily make a strong case for his exclusion. His reflexes are slowly fading away. And to have any chances of securing a spot, Vijay will have to improve his numbers as soon as possible.

Krishna Chopra

A cricket buff who lives the game fully. A die hard supporter of the Indian cricket Team. Sachin Tendulkar remains my inspiration.