Allrounders September 27, 2008

The world's best all-rounder

A bowler who can bat a bit (Abid Ali) or a batsmen who can turn his arm a bit (Sehwag) or a bowler who chances his way to a hundred (Agarkar), have at various times have been dubbed as all-rounders
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Possibly the best responses in the first 12 hours itself.

Based on these responses I have decided that my follow-up post will be to do a far more rigorous and in-depth analysis of only the very best 10 or so all-rounders, excluding the also-rans like Vettori/Vaas/Hooper/Shastri et al. Then I can be very strict and demanding in my parameters since I will be looking at the best. There is no need to worry about very low batting or bowling averages of these pretenders, upsetting the balance of algorithms.
Many thanks.

Who is a Test all-rounder? There prevails a peculiar idea of all-rounders. A bowler who can bat a bit (Abid Ali) or a batsmen who can turn his arm a bit (Sehwag) or a bowler who chances his way to a hundred (Agarkar), at various times have been dubbed as all-rounders.

That is a very low-level expectation of an all-rounder. Let us raise the bar substantially. An all-rounder should be capable of winning matches consistently with his batting or bowling. Since this is a subjective statement, let us lay down some rules to be used as the basis for our analysis.

He should have scored a minimum of 2000 Test runs at an average of 20.00 or above. The limit of 20.00 is necessary to exclude long-career bowlers such as Warne and Kumble getting into the All-rounders list. Much as I admire their batting skills I am not ready to accept them as all-rounders.

He should have taken a minimum of 100 Test wickets. There is no need to have a limit of average since the all-rounder with the worst bowling record among this lot, Carl Hooper, with a bowling average of 49.43 is still considered as a genuine all-rounder. If I incorporate a cut-off limit of 40.00 for bowling average, Ravi Shastri and Hooper go out.

The rationale behind these two cut-off numbers is that, on an average, it takes 25-30 Tests to score 2000 runs and take 100 wickets. So we are looking at players who have played these many Tests at the minimum. 21 players qualify under these criteria. Wally Hammond misses out based on this citeria. Jayasuriya just misses out by two wickets. Steve Waugh also misses out by a few wickets.

There is a piquant situation what with Vettori, Vaas and Akram vaulting over the bar meant for all-rounders. Well, we cannot question the numbers. Vettori has a higher batting average than Craig Spearman while Vaas and Akram have acceptable 23+ and 22+ batting averages.

How do we analyse all-rounder performances? Once we set the minimum criteria and select the players it becomes easy to classify them. This time I have anticipated readers' comments and got the analysis done under the following three classifications. Finally I have a composite Index determination process based on these three classifications.

1. Performance based
2. Longevity based
3. Individual match performances.

1. Career Performance based:

The simplest and a very effective method of evaluating player performances is by measuring their averages. The batting average has to be as high as possible

and the bowling average has to be as low as possible. So we subtract the bowling average from the batting average and arrive at, what we call, an All-rounder

Index 1. The higher this index is, the more effective the all-rounder is. Let us now see the complete table, on this criteria.

No  Player         LBt LBw Ctry BatAvg Bow  BowAvg  ARIdx1

1. Kallis J.H Saf 55.46 RFM 31.23 24.23 2. Sobers G.St.A ~ ~ Win 57.78 LM 34.04 23.75 3. Imran Khan Pak 37.69 RF 22.81 14.88 4. Miller K.R Aus 36.97 RF 22.98 14.00 5. Pollock S.M Saf 32.32 RFM 23.12 9.20 6. Goddard T.L ~ ~ Saf 34.47 LFM 26.23 8.24 7. Greig A.W Eng 40.44 RFM 32.21 8.23 8. Botham I.T Eng 33.55 RFM 28.40 5.15 9. Hadlee R.J ~ Nzl 27.17 RFM 22.30 4.87 10. Cairns C.L Nzl 33.54 RFM 29.40 4.13 11. Rhodes W ~ Eng 30.19 LSP 26.97 3.23 12. Kapil Dev N Ind 31.05 RFM 29.65 1.41 13. Bailey T.E Eng 29.74 RFM 29.21 0.53 14. Flintoff A Eng 32.35 RFM 32.21 0.14 15. Mankad M.H ~ Ind 31.48 LSP 32.32 -0.84 16. Wasim Akram ~ ~ Pak 22.64 LFM 23.62 -0.98 17. Benaud R Aus 24.46 RLB 27.03 -2.58 18. Shastri R.J ~ Ind 35.79 LSP 40.96 -5.17 19. Vaas WPUJC ~ ~ Slk 23.97 LFM 29.31 -5.35 20. Vettori D.L ~ ~ Nzl 26.65 LSP 34.44 -7.79 21. Hooper C.L Win 36.47 ROB 49.43 -12.96 Note: ~ indicates Left handed batsman/bowler.

No real surprises here. Kallis is one of the most under-rated players ever. He comes in, does his job in a quite manner and walks away. However he has an

outstanding batting average of 55+ (dropped recently because of his disastrous series in England) and a very acceptable bowling average of 31+. Thus the

difference is 24+. Gary Sobers is the supreme all-rounder and his index value is around 23. Imran is in third position, by virtue of his Batting Average of

37.69 (8 more than Srikkanth!) and a very low Bowling Average of 22.81 (7 fewer than Brett Lee!). Imran is followed by the mercurial Miller and the

under-rated Shaun Pollock.

At the other end of the table, the spinning all-rounders occupy the low positions, led by Hooper who has a difference of nearly -13.

As an alternative, we could divide the Batting Average by the Batting Average and arrive at, what we call, an All-rounder Index. The higher this index is,

the more effective the all-rounder is. This table is almost similar to the first table and is not shown.

2. Longevity based:

As a second alternative, we normalise all performances to a common base, say, Runs. Using a commonly accepted norm of a wicket as equivalent to 20 runs, we

derive a table of Total Runs scored + Runs derived. Then we rank these players.

No  Player         LBt LBw Ctry   Runs  Bow  Wkts ARIdx2

1. Kallis J.H Saf 9761 RFM 240 14561 2. Kapil Dev N Ind 5248 RFM 434 13928 3. Botham I.T Eng 5200 RFM 383 12860 4. Sobers G.St.A ~ ~ Win 8032 LM 235 12732 5. Pollock S.M Saf 3781 RFM 421 12201 6. Hadlee R.J ~ Nzl 3124 RFM 431 11744 7. Wasim Akram ~ ~ Pak 2898 LFM 414 11178 8. Imran Khan Pak 3807 RF 362 11047 9. Vaas WPUJC ~ ~ Slk 2996 LFM 348 9956 10. Hooper C.L Win 5762 ROB 114 8042 11. Vettori D.L ~ ~ Nzl 2745 LSP 257 7885 12. Cairns C.L Nzl 3320 RFM 218 7680 13. Flintoff A Eng 3494 RFM 206 7614 14. Benaud R Aus 2201 RLB 248 7161 15. Shastri R.J ~ Ind 3830 LSP 151 6850 16. Greig A.W Eng 3599 RFM 141 6419 17. Miller K.R Aus 2958 RF 170 6358 18. Mankad M.H ~ Ind 2109 LSP 162 5349 19. Goddard T.L ~ ~ Saf 2516 LFM 123 4976 20. Bailey T.E Eng 2290 RFM 132 4930 21. Rhodes W ~ Eng 2325 LSP 127 4865 Note: ~ indicates Left handed batsman/bowler.

This is a tribute to the longevity of the all-rounders. Kallis is again in the top position, follwed by Kapil Dev, Botham, Steve Waugh, Sobers and Pollock.

The olden day all-rounders who have not played in too many matches are at the lower end of the table.

3. Individual match performances:

Here we take a simple yardstick. Since we are analysing individual match all-round performances we have to look at a measure which brings out the all-round

ability of the player. We need both runs and wickets. One cannot compensate the other. I have defined an 'A' level all-round performance as one in which a

player scores a minimum of 100 runs and captures 5 wickets and a 'B' level all-round performance as one in which the player scores 75-99 runs and captures 4

wickets. I understand that match conditions, pitch conditions, quality of opposition, match result et al are relevant factors. However that will complicate

the issue and we are only looking at all-round performances here. So I will limit myself to the runs scored and wickets captured.

No  Player        Ctry   A-Perf   B-Perf
Tests    Tests

1. Sobers G.St.A Win 7 8 2. Botham I.T Eng 7 4 3. Greig A.W Eng 4 4 4. Cairns C.L Nzl 2 9 5. Kallis J.H Saf 2 6 6. Miller K.R Aus 2 5 7. Mankad M.H Ind 2 4 8. Imran Khan Pak 2 3 9. Hooper C.L Win 2 2 10. Flintoff A Eng 1 5 11. Pollock S.M Saf 1 4 12. Kapil Dev N Ind 1 3 13. Goddard T.L Saf 1 2 14. Benaud R Aus 1 2 15. Vettori D.L Nzl 1 2 16. Wasim Akram Pak 1 1 17. Vaas WPUJC Slk 1 1 18. Hadlee R.J Nzl 0 7 19. Shastri R.J Ind 0 4 20. Rhodes W Eng 0 1 21. Bailey T.E Eng 0 0 Note: A-Perf: 100 or more runs and 5 or more wkts in same test. B-Perf: 75-99 runs and 4 wkts in same test.

Sobers stands supreme with 15 stand-out performances. Botham is equally good. Greig shows that he is a much under-rated all-rounder as does Chris Cairns.

Kallis seems to have a more even distribution of run scoring and wicket capturing.

4. Final All Rounder Rating Index:

Finally, as we normally do always, a composite calculation involving the five key factors with suitable weightings. The formula is explained below.

				  Weightage    Computation methodology

Batting average 30.00 The maximum for an average of 60.00 and above Runs scored 15.00 The maximum for a Runs scored value of 10000 and above Bowling average 30.00 The maximum for an average of 15.00 and below Wickets taken 15.00 The maximum for a Wickets taken value of 500 and above. Test perfs 10.00 One point per 'A' performance + 0.4 point for 'B' performance.

Total 100.00

It can be seen that the two longevity measures carry only 30% of the total and the other 70% are allotted to performance nased measures. The final table is

given below.

No  Player        LBt LBw Ctry  Runs BatAvg  Wkts BowAvg   ARIdx

1. Sobers G.St.A ~ ~ Win 8032 57.78 235 34.04 69.15 2. Kallis J.H Saf 9761 55.46 240 31.23 67.74 3. Botham I.T Eng 5200 33.55 383 28.40 61.27 4. Imran Khan Pak 3807 37.69 362 22.81 60.81 5. Pollock S.M Saf 3781 32.32 421 23.12 58.95 6. Hadlee R.J ~ Nzl 3124 27.17 431 22.30 56.71 7. Miller K.R Aus 2958 36.97 170 22.98 54.05 8. Kapil Dev N Ind 5248 31.05 434 29.65 53.98 9. Wasim Akram ~ ~ Pak 2898 22.64 414 23.62 50.88 10. Cairns C.L Nzl 3320 33.54 218 29.40 49.49 11. Greig A.W Eng 3599 40.44 141 32.21 48.24 12. Goddard T.L ~ ~ Saf 2516 34.47 123 26.23 45.27 13. Vaas WPUJC ~ ~ Slk 2996 23.97 348 29.31 44.01 14. Flintoff A Eng 3494 32.35 206 32.21 43.39 15. Benaud R Aus 2201 24.46 248 27.03 42.74 16. Rhodes W ~ Eng 2325 30.19 127 26.97 40.83 17. Mankad M.H ~ Ind 2109 31.48 162 32.32 40.04 18. Bailey T.E Eng 2290 29.74 132 29.21 38.06 19. Vettori D.L ~ ~ Nzl 2745 26.65 257 34.44 37.52 20. Shastri R.J ~ Ind 3830 35.79 151 40.96 33.81 21. Hooper C.L Win 5762 36.47 114 49.43 28.67 Note: ~ indicates Left handed batsman and bowler.

Let us come to a conclusion.

The top 5 all-rounders of all time are Sobers, Kallis, Botham, Imran Khan and Pollock. Hadlee and Kapil Dev run these 5 close. No surprises except that

Kallis is so close to Sobers at the top.

Sobers stands supreme at the top, helped by 8032 runs at an average of 57.78, 235 wickets at an average of 34.04 and 15 outstanding performances in

Tests. Kallis would have to perform at this high level for couple of more years to overtake Sobers.

Kallis has come first in two of these measures. He has been a vastly under-rated all-rounder. However one cannot question his credentials - 9761 runs

at an average of 55.46 and 240 wickets at an average of 31.23. Independently these figures would be considered great as a batsman and acceptable as a bowler.

Botham is deservedly in the third position helped by his match-winning performances. Imran Khan's reasonably high batting average and very low

bowling average have propelled him to the fourth position. Pollock is another all-rounder not normally given his due. He has got a batting average

higher than Greame Hick and a bowling average 2.5 below Shoaib Akhtar.

At the other end, the three spinning all-rounders are there. All have barely acceptable batting and bowling averages. Vettori's high bowling average lets him

down.

The Australians coined a new definition of an all-rounder, viz., the wicketkeeper. I wanted to do an analysis of the wicketkeepers. However I have decided

to do a separate piece on that for two reasons. The first is that this article has become quite long, but more importantly, the players who have the toughest

job in cricket deserve their own special article. Hence that will be covered in a later article.

PS: Anticipating readers' requests and in order to have a more complete coverage I have lowered the bar to 1500 runs, 20.00 Batting Avge and 75 wickets and

presented a concluding report. Initially I thought of lowering the bar only for pre-1970 players but decided to enlarge the scope. So we now have Steve

Waugh, Walter Hammond, Mushtaq, Faulkner, Jayasuriya et al in the Top-20. 17 new all-rounders have come in. I re-iterate that my suggested cut-off is still

the earlier one and this table has been presented only for information.

No  Player         LBt LBw Ctry  Runs BatAvg Bow Wkts BowAvg ARIdx

1. Sobers G.St.A ~ ~ Win 8032 57.78 LM 235 34.04 69.15 2. Kallis J.H Saf 9761 55.46 RFM 240 31.23 67.74 3. Botham I.T Eng 5200 33.55 RFM 383 28.40 61.27 4. Imran Khan Pak 3807 37.69 RF 362 22.81 60.81 5. Pollock S.M Saf 3781 32.32 RFM 421 23.12 58.95 6. Hadlee R.J ~ Nzl 3124 27.17 RFM 431 22.30 56.71 7. Miller K.R Aus 2958 36.97 RF 170 22.98 54.05 8. Kapil Dev N Ind 5248 31.05 RFM 434 29.65 53.98 9. Waugh S.R Aus 10927 51.06 RFM 92 37.45 53.83 10. Wasim Akram ~ ~ Pak 2898 22.64 LFM 414 23.62 50.88 11. Hammond W.R Eng 7249 58.46 RFM 83 37.81 50.18 12. Cairns C.L Nzl 3320 33.54 RFM 218 29.40 49.49 13. Greig A.W Eng 3599 40.44 RFM 141 32.21 48.24 14. Mushtaq Mohammad Pak 3643 39.17 RLB 79 29.23 46.59 15. Faulkner G.A Saf 1754 40.79 RLB 82 26.59 46.30 16. Goddard T.L ~ ~ Saf 2516 34.47 LFM 123 26.23 45.27 17. Jayasuriya S.T ~ ~ Slk 6973 40.07 LSP 98 34.35 44.09 18. Vaas WPUJC ~ ~ Slk 2996 23.97 LFM 348 29.31 44.01 19. Flintoff A Eng 3494 32.35 RFM 206 32.21 43.39 20. Benaud R Aus 2201 24.46 RLB 248 27.03 42.74 21. Lindwall R.R Aus 1502 21.15 RF 228 23.03 42.45 22. Noble M.A Aus 1997 30.26 ROB 121 25.00 41.76 23. Rhodes W ~ Eng 2325 30.19 LSP 127 26.97 40.83 24. Armstrong W.W Aus 2863 38.69 RLB 87 33.60 40.25 25. Mankad M.H ~ Ind 2109 31.48 LSP 162 32.32 40.04 26. Reid J.R Nzl 3428 33.28 RFM 85 33.35 38.58 27. Streak H.H Zim 1990 22.36 RFM 216 28.12 38.32 28. Bailey T.E Eng 2290 29.74 RFM 132 29.21 38.06 29. Vettori D.L ~ ~ Nzl 2745 26.65 LSP 257 34.44 37.52 30. McMillan B.M Saf 1968 39.36 RFM 75 33.83 37.26 31. Woolley F.E ~ ~ Eng 3283 36.08 LSP 83 33.92 36.54 32. Shastri R.J ~ Ind 3830 35.79 LSP 151 40.96 33.81 33. Illingworth R Eng 1836 23.24 ROB 122 31.20 31.83 34. Prabhakar M Ind 1600 32.65 RFM 96 37.30 30.51 35. Abdul Razzaq Pak 1946 28.62 RFM 100 36.93 30.50 36. Klusener L ~ Saf 1906 32.86 RFM 80 37.91 28.78 37. Hooper C.L Win 5762 36.47 ROB 114 49.43 28.67 38. Emburey J.E Eng 1713 22.54 ROB 147 38.41 25.24

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harsh Thakor on July 1, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    I don't mean any discredit to Kallis,the best allrounder today undoubtedly,perhaps statistically the best allrounder of all and the best allrounder batsman after Sobers.However he has not been as great a match-winner as Sobers,Imran or Botham.Sobers dominated great bolwing to a far greater extent,on more difficult pitches.He was perhaps second only to Bradman as a batsman.It is significant that Ian Botham(Remember the 1980 Jubillee test 13 wickets and a century and the 1981 Ashes) has performed the greatset ever performance in a single test match and single test series.Had Ian Botham mantained his form of his early career he could well have given Sobers a run for his money.Imran Khan, I rate superior to Botham as he performed more consistently and his captaincy took Pakistan to the top .He also outperformed Botham in both the series staged on English soil in 1982 and 1987.He also performed brilliantly in West Indies.His performancse in 1982-83 and 1987-88 are unforgettable.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 1, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    There can be no doubt of one fact that Gary Sobers was the greatest allrounder of all time.True his bowling figures were not great but he bowled with other great bowlers.Noone has changed the complexion of a game to such an extent with bat and ball.(Remember his performance in England in 1966 and at Kingston against England in 1968-69).Even if Kallis matches Gary statistically I don't think morally he ranks in the same class.Imran Khan to me is Sobers's closest challenger followed by Ian Botham,who at his peak was the best match-winner.Kapil Dev had the best natural ability, Richard Hadlee was the best bowler and Imran Khan,was the greatest skipper of the allrounders. Gary Sobers was an immortal to the game-the equivalent of a prophet sent to play the game.It would have been fascinating to have had Mike Proctor playing test Cricket.

  • patrick cozier on January 31, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    when using the averages factoring approach, one needs to consider that there is a natural differential between the averages of fast bowlers and those of slow bowlers, a differentail of about 4-5. This therefore needs to be adjusted for in comparisons. For bowlers like Sobers who did both extensively you could use a 50/50 miix, while for Rhodes you need to make full adjustment

  • kasi on December 26, 2008, 5:00 GMT

    yes fantastic analysis and i want to share my congratulation for the efforts made on this

  • Sancheeban on December 6, 2008, 23:16 GMT

    Nice one! J.Kallis should be rated as No.1 in all-rounder list. He is the one who opened the bowling with S.Pollock in few matches. Not so many No.3 batsmen opened the bowling for their country. But, if u rated all-rounder list for an ODI, Kallis will be in No.1 spot!!!

  • Kunal Sen on November 2, 2008, 17:48 GMT

    @ Ananth

    Brilliant, stunning article- I think the factors used by you are very fair- though opinions on weightages could vary

    Just wanted to understand your reason for taking 20 runs as a proxy value for runs earned for every wicket taken. Don't know if this is accurate. I feel this is too low and arbitrary and consequently, favors the batting allrounders (ones whose primary skills lay in batting than bowling)- hence Sobers and Kallis at top perhaps What's the empirical Average Runs per Wicket (all time batting average in the game of cricket) throughout history? Is it 20? If not, why should it not be used instead of 20?

    My top 3- Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff, Kapil Dev

  • cozico on November 2, 2008, 16:51 GMT

    This ia a good piece. I myself divide batting by bowling using the same premise. There are however two refinements that I would respectfully suggest, 1. slow bowlers tend to have an average of about 4.00 -5.00 higher than corresponding fast bowlers, therefore one has to adjust slow bowlers averages to establish an equivalency with their fast counterparts. In the case of Sobers one should assume 1/2 fast and 1/2 slow and adjust bowling average by between 2.00-2.5 points. 2. In measuring longevity we should look more at duration of career rather than amount of matches. Reason being that it is biased in favour of recent players because they play more often. It is important in any such measurement to remove as much subjectivity as possible and try to utilise objective criteria as much as possible. Good work.

  • bvtesh on November 1, 2008, 22:38 GMT

    two comments: All stats need to be broken down 2 ways: 1. pre-helmet vs. current, and 2. New test playing nations in mix. During Sobers' time, there were no new entrants (Pakistan was technically a regular test playing nation split away from India). Helmets have increased batting averages by at least 15 (Mukul Kesavan once an analysis of this) - once factored, Sobers is streets ahead of everyone else. Next about Imran Khan - sheer career averages do not tell the whole story - I would split his career into pre-1981 vs post-1981. In the latter, consisting of over 70 tests, he averaged over 55 with the bat and under 22 with the ball. Sobers and Khan are the greatest and inspirational leaders. Others were either dominant either in bowling or batting but rarely both (Botham pre-1981 was tracking better than all - it then dropped dramatically)

  • Christoph on October 30, 2008, 4:17 GMT

    In cricket the numbers don't lie. Kallis batted at 3 or 4 against statistically some of the best bowlers ever. He then took an old ball after Donald, Pollock and Ntini invariably took 20 overs of shine off, and in many cases did not even bowl due to the strength of the SA bowling attack. An analysis of his wickets will find that they are predominantly top and middle order batsmen. The ball was never tossed to him to finish off the easy tail wickets. There is also a decidedly different psyche involved in carrying the innings from 4, than coming in at 6 or 7 with the best bowlers off and the ball old. Talk is cheap in the world of cricket, but runs and wickets buy the whiskey. If Kallis gets 10,000 and 300 history might judge him as the best cricketer (and not just the best all-rounder) of all time.

  • Tayyab on October 25, 2008, 11:08 GMT

    While commenting about A and B performances, you are more inclined towards a batting performance. I think you should set 50 runs and 6 wickets or 75 runs and 5 wickets for class A and 50 runs and 5 wickets or 75 runs and 4 wickets for class B performance. Scoring 50 or 75 runs does the trick for an all rounder.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 1, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    I don't mean any discredit to Kallis,the best allrounder today undoubtedly,perhaps statistically the best allrounder of all and the best allrounder batsman after Sobers.However he has not been as great a match-winner as Sobers,Imran or Botham.Sobers dominated great bolwing to a far greater extent,on more difficult pitches.He was perhaps second only to Bradman as a batsman.It is significant that Ian Botham(Remember the 1980 Jubillee test 13 wickets and a century and the 1981 Ashes) has performed the greatset ever performance in a single test match and single test series.Had Ian Botham mantained his form of his early career he could well have given Sobers a run for his money.Imran Khan, I rate superior to Botham as he performed more consistently and his captaincy took Pakistan to the top .He also outperformed Botham in both the series staged on English soil in 1982 and 1987.He also performed brilliantly in West Indies.His performancse in 1982-83 and 1987-88 are unforgettable.

  • Harsh Thakor on July 1, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    There can be no doubt of one fact that Gary Sobers was the greatest allrounder of all time.True his bowling figures were not great but he bowled with other great bowlers.Noone has changed the complexion of a game to such an extent with bat and ball.(Remember his performance in England in 1966 and at Kingston against England in 1968-69).Even if Kallis matches Gary statistically I don't think morally he ranks in the same class.Imran Khan to me is Sobers's closest challenger followed by Ian Botham,who at his peak was the best match-winner.Kapil Dev had the best natural ability, Richard Hadlee was the best bowler and Imran Khan,was the greatest skipper of the allrounders. Gary Sobers was an immortal to the game-the equivalent of a prophet sent to play the game.It would have been fascinating to have had Mike Proctor playing test Cricket.

  • patrick cozier on January 31, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    when using the averages factoring approach, one needs to consider that there is a natural differential between the averages of fast bowlers and those of slow bowlers, a differentail of about 4-5. This therefore needs to be adjusted for in comparisons. For bowlers like Sobers who did both extensively you could use a 50/50 miix, while for Rhodes you need to make full adjustment

  • kasi on December 26, 2008, 5:00 GMT

    yes fantastic analysis and i want to share my congratulation for the efforts made on this

  • Sancheeban on December 6, 2008, 23:16 GMT

    Nice one! J.Kallis should be rated as No.1 in all-rounder list. He is the one who opened the bowling with S.Pollock in few matches. Not so many No.3 batsmen opened the bowling for their country. But, if u rated all-rounder list for an ODI, Kallis will be in No.1 spot!!!

  • Kunal Sen on November 2, 2008, 17:48 GMT

    @ Ananth

    Brilliant, stunning article- I think the factors used by you are very fair- though opinions on weightages could vary

    Just wanted to understand your reason for taking 20 runs as a proxy value for runs earned for every wicket taken. Don't know if this is accurate. I feel this is too low and arbitrary and consequently, favors the batting allrounders (ones whose primary skills lay in batting than bowling)- hence Sobers and Kallis at top perhaps What's the empirical Average Runs per Wicket (all time batting average in the game of cricket) throughout history? Is it 20? If not, why should it not be used instead of 20?

    My top 3- Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff, Kapil Dev

  • cozico on November 2, 2008, 16:51 GMT

    This ia a good piece. I myself divide batting by bowling using the same premise. There are however two refinements that I would respectfully suggest, 1. slow bowlers tend to have an average of about 4.00 -5.00 higher than corresponding fast bowlers, therefore one has to adjust slow bowlers averages to establish an equivalency with their fast counterparts. In the case of Sobers one should assume 1/2 fast and 1/2 slow and adjust bowling average by between 2.00-2.5 points. 2. In measuring longevity we should look more at duration of career rather than amount of matches. Reason being that it is biased in favour of recent players because they play more often. It is important in any such measurement to remove as much subjectivity as possible and try to utilise objective criteria as much as possible. Good work.

  • bvtesh on November 1, 2008, 22:38 GMT

    two comments: All stats need to be broken down 2 ways: 1. pre-helmet vs. current, and 2. New test playing nations in mix. During Sobers' time, there were no new entrants (Pakistan was technically a regular test playing nation split away from India). Helmets have increased batting averages by at least 15 (Mukul Kesavan once an analysis of this) - once factored, Sobers is streets ahead of everyone else. Next about Imran Khan - sheer career averages do not tell the whole story - I would split his career into pre-1981 vs post-1981. In the latter, consisting of over 70 tests, he averaged over 55 with the bat and under 22 with the ball. Sobers and Khan are the greatest and inspirational leaders. Others were either dominant either in bowling or batting but rarely both (Botham pre-1981 was tracking better than all - it then dropped dramatically)

  • Christoph on October 30, 2008, 4:17 GMT

    In cricket the numbers don't lie. Kallis batted at 3 or 4 against statistically some of the best bowlers ever. He then took an old ball after Donald, Pollock and Ntini invariably took 20 overs of shine off, and in many cases did not even bowl due to the strength of the SA bowling attack. An analysis of his wickets will find that they are predominantly top and middle order batsmen. The ball was never tossed to him to finish off the easy tail wickets. There is also a decidedly different psyche involved in carrying the innings from 4, than coming in at 6 or 7 with the best bowlers off and the ball old. Talk is cheap in the world of cricket, but runs and wickets buy the whiskey. If Kallis gets 10,000 and 300 history might judge him as the best cricketer (and not just the best all-rounder) of all time.

  • Tayyab on October 25, 2008, 11:08 GMT

    While commenting about A and B performances, you are more inclined towards a batting performance. I think you should set 50 runs and 6 wickets or 75 runs and 5 wickets for class A and 50 runs and 5 wickets or 75 runs and 4 wickets for class B performance. Scoring 50 or 75 runs does the trick for an all rounder.

  • Pankaj Joshi on October 21, 2008, 10:21 GMT

    Some ideas to reduce subjectivity - apart from usual suspects of averages, S/Rs. How many runs our men scored out of total and out of the time they were at crease? In bowling, what was difference in their runs per wicket/over conceded against the innings average? Would it help if each wicket was weighted - opening batsmen dismissed gives 11/10 points and removing jack gives 1 point? These would be possible with Cricinfo's engine and, when used as derivative measures, would help even out equations. The records against the top team of the time has already been underlined by many good 'uns here. Sobers would still be top but my guess is Imran and Kapil would be next. Both have good records against top-order batsmen and both liked to score centuries out of team totals of 350 rather than 550. WC wins as captains not to be sneezed at. Kallis is great but has a few rabbit-killer traits. Botham would be taken out just by the WI factor. Look forward to response. This is a wonderful board.

  • Mahesh Srinivasan on October 20, 2008, 18:42 GMT

    Ananth, excellent analysis. I agree with the fact that Sobers is the best all-rounder. I may have missed a few things here, but did you take into account the fielding statistics too. I hear Sobers was an excellent fielder.

    Have you ever thought about doing a regression analysis or a correlation between certain pairs of players? Greenidge ahd Haynes, Boon and Marsh, etc. How effective would it be for a team to have players that contribute when they are to-gether at the crease.

    --Mahesh

  • shekhar on October 17, 2008, 21:54 GMT

    A good analysis and I would like to see the factors like catches, matches captained etc.which has its bearings on the field. Still Sobers HAS to be THE BEST

  • DWELLS on October 16, 2008, 19:56 GMT

    The statistics are very interesting but I feel the quality of the opposition should be the crux of a great all rounder. Bothams record is very flawed, he had the advantage of playing against virtual second elevens for his first 100 test wickets(the major players were involved with Packer).His record against the great West Indian team of the 80s was mediocre he hardly managed more than a couple of consolation fifties and never managed once to be in a winning team.In my opinion Imrans courage and abilty against this great team puts him well above "Beefy". Sir Gary was peerless and anyone not privileged to have see the most sublime cricketer ever to grace the field perform live is disadvantaged.Sir Gary performed miracles against the best oppositions at the time-Australia and England. Performances against current minnows West Indies and Bangladish grossly flatter Jacques Kallis`s record. Sir Gary and Imran lead the field supremely in my book with Kallis and Botham distant 3rd and 4th`s

  • Fehzan on October 11, 2008, 10:10 GMT

    To me,this analysis should be acknowledged bases on the effort mostly.not so much the results.A very important factor such as fielding was not included,thus is a disadvantage to the few all rounders who possessed good fielding skills. Secondly,as AJAX said,THE span of the cricketer's career,being 30% is in NO way Insignificant.If you consider that insignificant,you have not realised that many all - rounders who have had really long careers don't possess stats that match up to the players who used to play long ago.Thus,the analysis is inaccurate.Full marks for the effort though,however,to produce a perfect analysis that gives you the best result,will require many factors,and all factors must be considered significant. For a factor such as leadership,or the CONSISTENCY OF performance / the opposition and the quality of the oppostion at that particular time played against.Its hectic work,after all,its not just any ordinary game we're analysing - its cricket :).Cheers to all cricket lovers

  • Syed Naumanuddin Hassan on October 4, 2008, 20:46 GMT

    One man who made his team stand tall against the mighty West Indies is the great Imran Khan. With limited talent; the sheer hard work, determination and leadership qualities made Imran Khan an icon. No other cricketer had the charisma or impact that Imran Khan possessed. A dynamic and inevitable personality earned him the glory that many desire. His leadership inspired likes of Wasims and Waqars to become a destructive force. Surely, Imran Khan is the greatest all rounder of all time. Gary Sobers had an invincible team but Imran Khan had to built one! Imran Khan is not only the best all rounder but also the best captain of all time!

  • Ajith Fernando on October 4, 2008, 14:29 GMT

    Why not consider fielding also which is critical for any good player! Think number of ctaches taken also should be looked at.

  • Kuntal Chatterjee on October 4, 2008, 14:16 GMT

    Imran,Kapil,Hadlee,Botham all were great. Greatest allrounders of all times. Imran out of the quartet was arquably the best. But one of the fact must have to be noted. Imran,Hadlee,Botham all used to select the tours(series) according to their availability,convenience and physical fitness. As for instance, it's a fact that Hadlee & Botham were always reluctant to tour the indian sub-continent which are considered as the graveyard for the pace bowling. But never had Kapil selected the tours according to his convenience and fitness. All throughout his 17 years career he toiled like a war-horse taking the complete responsibility of a weak bowling line-up upon his shoulders. Never had Kapil kept himself out of the indian test team due to injury or fitness or any other personal matter. Kapil always remains a genuine ambassador of the glorious game of CRICKET.

  • Raghu Chadalavada on October 4, 2008, 13:33 GMT

    When Allrounders are considered I think fielding and catching also should be part of it. Botham once again is shoulders above in this category. Except for Sir Sobers there is no player in history closer to him as an allrounder. Except for his last two years Botham was always a fear factor for opponents when he was playing. I dont agree on the fact that he was successful against australia alone. he did it against NZ at christchurch with eight wickets three catches and century. He did it against Pak at Lords with 8 wickets, 2 catches and a century. What about the magnificient performance in bombay against India with 13 wickets and one of the greatest centuries we have seen. Against the might west indies remember his 8 wickets in 1st innings and scored 81 when england lost their top order for less than 100. Also his allround skills can be considered when he did bowl offspin against sri lanka when the pitch was not for seamer he took 6 of the seven wickets to fall. 1977 to 86 - he was king

  • Frank on October 4, 2008, 8:33 GMT

    Gary Sobers will always be rated the supreme allrounder because he was a Test class performer in batting, fielding (any position), fast bowling, left arm finger spin bowling and left arm wrist spin bowling. We don't know if he would have been a Test class wicketkeeper too but considering his performances in other areas, I wouldn't be surprised that he would have excelled if he kept wickets!! Guys like Kallis may overtake him in terms of number of runs/wickets/catches etc.,(more so that more Tests are played now than in Sobers' time) but Sobers was the true 'allrounder', in his case, a 5-in-1 player, which was a case of the West Indies playing with '15' players when he was in the team (10 + Gary worth 5 players)!

  • Anonymous on October 4, 2008, 1:58 GMT

    If we make the criterion for an allrounder- very rigorous- as someone who could have played- both as a batsman or as a bowler- we dont have many players. Sobers, and possibly Cairns, Botham, and Mankad- and if we include the present lot- Flintoff, Gilchrist, Dhoni and Sangakarra. I dont know much about the ancients, but the ones I have seen play- Kallis wouldnt make it into the SA team as a bowler. Kapil's batting never took off, and Imran too wouldnt have played a single test as a batsman. However, most of those in the list could have played either as a bowler or as a batsman, and the other skill was merely an icing in the cake. There are of course exceptions like Shastri who could not have played either as a specialist batsman or as a specialist bowler. As an objective measure, the difference of two averages is good enough- with of course a lower limit for number of tests played. [[ Ananth: I have to disagree with you on Imran. He would have played in a fair number of of the 1970s to 1990s Pakistani sides as a batsman. Not many no.7s during any era had batting average of 37.69. ]]

  • Prashanth Krishnan on October 3, 2008, 18:48 GMT

    In your longevity analysis (2nd one), why should you take up runs as the criteria? Are you saying all-rounders must only be batsmen who bowl a bit? Kapil Dev has about double the number of Kallis' wickets while Kallis has less than double the number of Kapil's runs. So how can they be compared? This argument must segregate the batsmen who bowl a bit and the bowlers who bat a bit category. The players of either category cannot be compared. An all-rounder does not mean someone who excels in both batting and bowling- even Kallis or Sobers aren't the best when it comes to bowling, although they are one of the best in batting. Similarly, Kapil, Pollock, Botham, Hadlee etc. are some of the best bowlers, who were good in batting, but not the best. Kindly classify the players-then the calculation also becomes easier- you need not nominate some runs for each wicket. It'll be just like comparing bowlers and batsmen separately. As for cricketers who did both- a separate category will do fine.

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 13:47 GMT

    Successes can be just as dubious as failures. Some would say that Kallis made big scores against minnows, or that too many of Botham's wickets are tail-enders.

    Coming back to the 'MVP' angle, consider the difference between Underwood and Willis. Underwood took 6 10WMs, while Willis took none. But who was the better bowler? Qadir took 5 10WMs while Garner took none. Yet, the gap in average/stk rate is huge.

    That is why this A-perf/B-perf factor is incomplete if F-perfs are not weighted.

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 13:42 GMT

    Ananth,

    A success is just as likely to be subjective as a failure. Ambrose and Morrison's examples are good ones (some of these are not-outs, mind you), but scoring a century in a dull run-fest may not be a 'success' either. A 5WI but for 200 runs against a minnow may not be a 'success' either.

    Just take the values straight. If every 100 or 5WI is a success, than every duck is a failure.

    I repeat that in matches where these all-rounders scored 0-25 runs and took 1 or less wickets, their team usually LOST. When they fail, the team fails too. These all-rounders were the 'shock troops' of their teams, and when they fail, the team usually loses. Junior players' morale goes down, etc.

    Maybe a simpler measure is better, like just taking the number of MoM awards, rather than this A/B-perf approach. Or, just take performances in wins/draws/losses (i.e. did the player contribute to wins?). [[ Ananth: Kartik, the last thing I want to do is to open the MOM can of worms especially as this thing came into vogue only from around 1980 onwards. ]]

  • Jeff on October 3, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Thanks once more for the provoking of thought. I have a couple of points to make (apologies if someone else has already raised these and you've answered them, but I don't have the time or will to plough through all 150 replies...)

    1. In your match performance section, why did you only include matches where players had both scored runs AND taken wickets? Is this really the best way to judge all-round performance? Why does it have to be done in the same match?

    For example, in a 4 match series, a player could score a ton in 2 matches and take 10 wickets in 2 other matches and thus win the series for his team through his all-round brilliance, but according to your criteria, he might not even register.

    2. Longevity - once again it rears it's ugly head and penalises the old-timers. I really hate using volume of runs/wkts. Why not use years instead? For example, judge longevity in terms of no. of different years that a player scored a ton or took a 5-for? Just a thought

    [[ Ananth: Jeff My assumption was (and is) that a performance can be considered as a true and effective all-round performance only if it is completed within a match since then only could it lead to a good result, a win or a save from a defeat. A series becomes a "micro career". I hope that the follow-up article goes some extent to answer your second question. ]]

  • Sorcerer on October 3, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    Ananth....scoring meagre runs in a match and taking just a single wicket would in "large" majority of matches be what they really are - failures. There is no sure-shot way of setting the parameters but at least they can be modulated for improvement. Imran's Tests in which he played as a specialist batsmen are mainly the ones when he could not bowl due to shin fractures, and the last handful when he was nearly 40 and thus bowling might had subsided and Pak still benefitted from his commanding batting and magnificent leadership. He more than made up for his lack of bowling input by holding his own in those matches as a specialist batsman who could be depended upon. [[ Ananth: Usman, not for a moment did I suggest that Imran would not have held his own in these matches. My comments were only to say that it is very difficult to define a failure. The interpretations will vary. Suddenly we have to treat an all-rounder as a batsman in one match, as a bowler in another match or as a captain in another match. Take Imran's last match vs Sri Lanka. He scored 22 and 0 while Pakistan had a narrow win because of their bowlers and Imran's inspiring captaincy. How do I handle this match. It was a success for Imran and a fitting end to his illustrious career, surely not a failure on the bowling and batting front. The problems have already been stated. It would be wrong to a half-baked job. Maybe if this had come out a week earlier I would have put in the effort to do a thorough analysis. Not now, not at 11.55 when the follow-up article is going to be published at 12.00. Maybe another time. ]]

  • Ananth on October 3, 2008, 8:42 GMT

    [[ Since the follow-up article has not yet been posted, I will send a reply to Kartik's (and David's) comments on negative valuation of "failures". 1.What is a "failure". It is easy to define success. Whatever happens, runs and wickets are success. He might have scored slowly, but runs are runs. He might not have taken key wickets. But wickets are wickets. But what is a failure. 1 wicket ?, what happens if that happens to be Tendulkar's. 12 runs ? These are the priceless and invaluable runs scored by Ambrose at Bridgetown during 1999 in partnership with Lara. What about the 0 scored by Morrison. Is it a failure. 2.It is impossible to define failure without knowing everything about the match situation. That is a different analysis and is too complex one to become a third part of one of the 12 parameters in the all-rounders analysis, 3.A failure to be defined as an all-round failure or either batting or bowling ???. 4.What does one do when someone like Imran Khan plays in at least 7 (or more) matches as a batsman. Has he failed as an all-round player. The bottom line will be my inability first, to define a failure and then to defend my own algorithms defining failures. People will be right to comment negatively on anything reflecting a batsman's performance in a negative manner, without due diligence. I will do a separate study of Garner and Qadir. ]]

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 6:04 GMT

    Ananth,

    The example where to 100+0 player gets 1.5, while the 50+50 gets 2 points, need not be. Your analysis itself give 0.4 weight to B-perf, so two B-perfs still don't equal an A-perfs. Similarly, an F-perf can be assigned a certain weightage, which need not be equal to an A-perf.

    While match-winning and match-saving performances should be rewarded, shouldn't a match-losing performance be penalized?

    The 12 all-rounders were, almost always, the most valuable players in their team. In the matches where they fail comprehensively, by scoring 0-24 runs, and getting just 0 or 1 wickets, their teams might have plummeted to defeat.

    In your reply to David Barry, player A has delivered more match-winning performances, but has also delivered more match-losing performances (failing to bat out the 4th innings on the final day, failing to bowl out the opposition, etc.)

    I think the Garner vs. Qadir bowler example tells all. We have to find a way to weight consistency. [[ Ananth: Separate reply poted. ]]

  • David Barry on October 3, 2008, 2:44 GMT

    Ananth, re: your latest reply to Kartik, you seem to be saying that it's not fair to penalise inconsistency, which I agree with. But in your original analysis, you reward inconsistency. Given two players with the same averages, the one with the more A-performances is more inconsistent - to end up with the same averages, that player must have had more bad matches. [[ Ananth: David, let us ignore the example which was an over-simplified one. In this case I have rewarded not inconsistency but potentially match-winning/match-saving performances of the all-rounders. Again if two all-rounders have identical figures in all respects and A has 10 P1/P2 performances and B has 5 P1/P2 performances, A will gain. This is not a reward for inconsistency but a recognition that he has delivered more match-winning/saving performances than B. It may very well be worked out that I am rewarding a 100&0 more than 50&50. Possibly true. As some people might say, inconsistency is also another term for alternate brilliant and mediocre performances. Sehwag/Gilchrist/Gayle against Dravid/Hayden/Chanderpaul. There is certainly some merit in Kartik's suggestion but too late since I have already sent the follow-up post. Maybe I will insert a small note later after publication. ]]

  • Dan Jakob on October 2, 2008, 22:27 GMT

    I think an all-rounder these days needs to be someone who can play both tests and one-day games, so on that basis Sobers would be excluded and Kallis as the only player who has the treble of 1,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches in both forms of the game is the winner! The fact that he is the only player to have 5,000 runs and 200 wickets in both forms of the game and the only player to have 200 wickets and 100 catches in both forms of the game also make him the winner. Shaun Pollock comes second as the only player to have 300 wickets and 3,000 runs in both forms, although if the wicket-keeping double is allowed, Boucher and Gilchrist are in with a shout. Boucher may catch up with Gilchrist in getting a quadruple double, but Gilchrist wins on runs scored. [[ Ananth: That is a different analysis. What we are looking here is only Tests and here Sobers reigns supreme. If you add Tests & ODIs, it is possible that Jayasuriya would be up there competing for the top position. ]]

  • Kartik on October 2, 2008, 22:25 GMT

    Ananth,

    One more suggestion if I may.

    You correctly give credit for A and B performance tests. Similarly, you should dock players for F-performance tests.

    If an all-rounder scores less than 25 runs AND takes two or less wickets in a test, there should be a negative weighting for that. The 'AND' is important, as it would describe an 'all-round failure' by the (usually) most pivotal player to either bat or bowl well, which is disastrous for a team.

    To protect from wash-out tests inflating the # of F-performances, something simple like excluding tests where less than 3 days were played, can be done.

    Botham had a lot more A/B tests than Kapil. He also probably had more F tests. I think this 'let-down' factor is important, and should carry weight.

    Joel Garner had only seven 5WIs and no 10WMs. Abdul Qadir had many 10WMs. Both were part of strong bowling attacks that competed for wickets. But who was the more valuable bowler, with the better average and stk rate? [[ Ananth: Kartik, I am not comfortable with your suggestion. Let me simplify it to the nth level. Suppose I give 2 points for a 100 and 1 point for a 50. Someone who scores a 100 & 0 will get 2 points. The guy who scores 2x50s will get the same 2 points. Fair enough. What you are saying is that the one who scores a 100 & 0 should get 2-0.5 (0.5 being the negative point), say 1.5 points while the one who scores 2x50s will remain the same. I am not convinced about. While there is a case for saying that one is more consistent than the other, there is no case for penalizing one over the other. ]]

  • Sorcerer on October 2, 2008, 8:57 GMT

    Thanks Marcus for the suggestion. Standardised set of bowling stats would indeed be a relevant addition to the ongoing statistical work, as that would fill the gap created by the fact that a couple of elite all-rounders being talked about bumped up their stats courtesy of much-better performances against the minnows of the era. Incorporation of that into the all-rounder grid would be desirable to strip out the opposition-strength differential aspect.

  • Marcus on October 2, 2008, 6:55 GMT

    I'd really be interested to see a standardised set of bowling statistics for every bowler, to see how they compare against each other- something similar to the Batting list that was done a couple of months ago. Hey Ananth, do you take requests? :) [[ Ananth: Of course, Marcus. Where would I be without enlightened readers and their requests. I was looking at doing something similar since I find Bowling a more fascinating subject to analyze than Batting. ]]

  • Kartik on October 1, 2008, 18:14 GMT

    I agree with Sorcerer. Of the 12 or so genuine all-rounders that will make Ananth's next analysis, Sobers is the best batsman by far. He is also the worst bowler.

    92 balls/wicket was poor in that era (where fast-bowlers like Hall and Truman had similar strike rates as their modern counterparts). So that argument doesn't hold. Don't people like to say that those days were better for bowlers than today?

    Again, of the 12 greatest all-rounders, he is the best batsman and the weakest bowler.

    Hadlee might be the other extreme, possibly the best bowler, and the weakest batsman (averaging 27).

    The true 'median' would be someone like Botham.

  • Suhaib Jalis Ahmed on October 1, 2008, 13:15 GMT

    I think we all need to applaud not only Ananth, but also the people who have posted comments for making so many valid points, without getting nasty. THis is a very welcome departure from what we see on other blogs.

    Congrats Everyone !!!!

    [[ Ananth: Suhaib is correct. There has been no acrimony and that has led to a much more pleasant exchange of views. I hope that the same bonhomie exists when I post my follow-up article on Friday. ]]

  • Sorcerer on October 1, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    I've observed a few Sobers' fans here who do not really back up their judgement call by substantiating it with performance stats and arbitrarily naming Sobers to be the best. It's not really impressive as it should be performance-based and unless you are contributing with regular runs and significant number of wickets at a decent rate, how can you be termed an all-time greatest all-rounder? The mystique and aura of his batting is matched for example by the poetry of Imran's trailblazing bowling and Hadlee's seam magic.

    But one significant downside to Sobers' records picked up by many is the lack of accentuated balance courtesy his mediocre bowling returns and the sheer incorrectness of even trying to label him as a match-winning bowler. He was a support act at the most as borne out by his stats.

  • Sorcerer on October 1, 2008, 4:18 GMT

    Regarding the alleged inflation of averages of batsmen batting at Number 6 position, I doubt if the argument is tenable given that a player of Laxman's class averages 46, Ganguly 39, Rhodes 41, Ranatunga 39, Inzamam 37, Hooper 39, Yuvraj 36, Logie 33, Flintoff 32 etc. etc. On another count, I stand corrected as the WR for the highest batting average at Number 6 of all-time is now the domain of Chanderpaul with 63, closely followed by Imran Khan with 62. Imran, an all-time great bowler and skipper and Test standard batsman (averaging equal to Athers and Lamb, and combined mainstay of Pak batting with Miandad for over 10 years) is truly an exceptional phenomenon.

  • Sorcerer on October 1, 2008, 2:57 GMT

    If Gibbs had a bad S/R - of 88, it is still a full over better than that of Sobers, coupled with an average 5 runs better. Anyhow, his WR at that time was courtesy of his longevity not mighty effectiveness. I have listed before a steady stream of bowlers who played in the same era and have S/R significantly better than that of Sobers' 93. This is simply not a void in his record but rather a crater - that he required upwards of 15 overs on average to dismiss a batsman. On the point of his extraordinary Series playing for Rest of the World XI, it is hard to imagine any such Seriers played in great intensity and pride anyway. He performed excellently but Imran also matched that domination. In the 6-Test Series V India in '82 on flat pancake of pitches, he decimated the famed Indian batting lineup taking 40 wickets @ 13 and batting with an average upwards of 60. Then again, in England in the '82 Series, he returned with 22 wickets @ 19 and batting average of 53. That is total domination.

  • Kartik on October 1, 2008, 0:23 GMT

    Here are the career balls bowled by WI bowlers of 1955-74, with a strike rate under 60 :

    Hall : 10400 Griffith : 5600

    This group averages about 90 balls per wicket :

    Gibbs : 27000 Sobers : 21500 Ramadhin : 14000 Valentine : 13000 Holder : 9000 (the best at 83 balls/wkt) Worrell : 7100

    This shows how weak the WI bowling was for 20 years. Only a small fraction of balls bowled were by bowlers who could manage 60 balls/wkt. 75% of the time, an 'easy' bowler was operating, and WI would rarely manage to take 20 opposition wickets before the match ended.

    If it took, on average, 80 balls/wkt in a match, it took 1600 balls to take 20 wickets, or 266 overs!

    Lloyd's 1976 decision is understandable. Needless to say, there is immense value to having 4 bowlers that can do under 55 balls/wicket, vs. just one or two.

    Perhaps Sobers' all-rounder aura was inflated due to having no competition other than the 41-test Goddard? (Benaud/Davidson had low batting avgs).

  • Marcus on October 1, 2008, 0:02 GMT

    Kartik

    I should point out that Lance Gibbs is widely regarded as one of the greatest off-spin bowlers in history, despite his high strike rate. This just backs up what I was saying earlier- that strike rates from that era were a lot higher than what they probably would be now. Gibbs and Sobers aren't the only examples- Bishen Bedi struck once every 80 balls, Graeme McKenzie every 71, yet both are regarded as among the respectively spin and pace bowlers ever produced by the countries. [[ Ananth: I think Marcus has a very valid point. Influenced as we are by the below-52 strike rates of a number of pace bowlers of this generation, we forget the fact that in the 60s=70s, bowlers might have taken longer to get their wickets, but they were quite accurate and maintained decent averages. Maybe there might have been more drawn matches. Today there are lot of more finishes, possibly also due to the more attacking batting, in turn leading to more frequent fall of wickets. Anyhow do not forget that the Strike Rate is integrated into the Bowling Average. ]]

  • Kartik on September 30, 2008, 18:27 GMT

    One more point on Sobers' bowling :

    His career overlapped with Gibbs, for almost 20 years. Gibbs also had a poor stike rate of 90 balls/wicket. However, he ended up being the world record holder of Test wickets, and held that record for over 5 years. Thus, with Sobers having a strike rate similar to the world record holder, Sobers too was considered a specialist bowler.

    This goes to show how weak WI bowling was before Roberts/Holding. If the two highest wicket takers both only took wickets at 90 balls/wicket, WI must not have won many tests. They rarely must have bowled out their opposition twice.

    Lloyd's reasoning in going for all-pace seems all the more logical. Lloyd, for 10 years (1966-76), was part of a team that just couldn't take 20 wickets, and refused to acknowledge that Sobers/Gibbs was actually a very weak pair to have as the third and fourth bowlers. [[ Ananth: For quite a few years the only world class bowler other than Sobers and Gibbs was Hall. The other pace bowlers were not as consistent as Hall. Take the example of Griffith who captured only 94 wkts in 28 tests at 28.5 or Gilchrist who did not maintain the early promise. ]]

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on September 30, 2008, 16:13 GMT

    I am giving you an idea for your next analysis.

    In one of the previous article you made an in-depth anaylsis on Brademen. There you mentioned his best 10-innings stretch and worst 10-innings stretch. Can you come up the best 10-innings stretch (top 10 or 20)for all players since the start of Test cricket. Similar analysis for bowlers and do the same for ODI.

    [[ Ananth: Ash, you seem to have missed my earlier article posted two months back titled "The highest peaks and lowest troughs for batsmen" covering exactly what you have asked for. ]]

  • Kartik on September 29, 2008, 19:45 GMT

    Ananth,

    The thing about Hadlee is that his batting after 1980 was much better than before 1980, so his career average stayed low.

    The same goes for Imran, who, amazingly, from 1982-92 had a Test batting average that matched that of Viv Richards during the same period!

    The key point is the #7 issue. A real all-rounder has to be able to consistently bat at #7. Since it is widely accepted that the tail starts with #8, that by definition means an all-rounder has to be able to bat consistently at #7 or better.

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on September 29, 2008, 19:44 GMT

    Your analyses are too interesting and I just could not resist diving more deeply in to this very fascinating figures.

    When you talk about a true and genuine all-rounder, you think about those players who have consistent ability to score runs and take wickets. When you come up with a list of top 30 or 40 all time great all-rounder in the history of 132 years of test cricket, I think it is extremely unfair to include players like Steve Waugh, Hooper, Hammond or Jayasuriya (all mainly stock bowlers), Wasim Akram, R Lindwall, J Emburey (all useful lower order batsmen) in the list of all time greats.

    I would therefore suggest in addition to the qualification you have considered, also set another criteria, i.e. minimum 40 runs AND 2 wickets per test. This will exclude those who have got in to the list by virtue of mainly thru batting or bowling and it will be more justice to those who are genuine all-rounders. [[ Ananth: Pl ignore the last table. If you read the description of this you will understand that this was only to show the few people who had been left out. Pl only refer to the 21-player table which is the main one. ]]

  • Engle on September 29, 2008, 18:17 GMT

    A tad harsh to perceive Sobers based on his 365* and 6-sixes performances. He was the pre-eminent Allrounder of his era with hardly anyone to challenge.

    At the age of 34 in the ROW XI vs England 5 match series (considered Tests at the time), he led the batting AND bowling aggregates for BOTH sides, a feat never achieved in the 20th century. He put a slew of A/R in that series in the shade (Barlow, Procter, Intikhab, Mushtaq, D'Oliveira, Grieg, Illingworth)

    He also had 3 series of 200 runs + 20 wkts and in his last match bowled 55 overs, gimpy knee and all.

    His bowling numbers dont do him justice in the same manner as that of Qadir or the batting numbers of Trumper, May and Majid.

    Moving on to the selection criteria, would like to see Miller and Faulkner included as these 2 could be picked based on either batting or bowling. Bad enough that the Doc, WG, cannot make the cut on Tests, but has an exemplary FC record.

  • bradluen on September 29, 2008, 17:45 GMT

    1. Note that for an all-rounder, one run of bowling average is more valuable than one run of batting average. Why? Because a player bats at most twice in a game, while a genuine bowler takes, on average, more than two wickets per Test. (Even Sobers did!) Dividing batting average by bowling average is arbitrary but kind of accidentally alleviates this, though not enough for my liking.

    2. Some of the talking past each other in the comments is happening because two different things are being compared: "value" and what we might call "all-roundedness". There's no way Flintoff has a value anywhere near Sobers's. But you could make an argument that Flintoff is more "all-rounded" than Sobers, because Andy is a genuine lead bowler, while Gary was a support act. This is mostly definitions and criteria, but it's an important distinction to understand.

  • Nish on September 29, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    Ananth,

    Interesting writeup as usual. For your "Individual match performances" table, you've considered 100 runs and 5 wickets in the same match. But how about spreading it out a little? Will it be a lot of work for you to create a new table where you take all matches where a cricketer has scored 100 runs or more + all matches where he's taken 5 wickets or more (not necessarily in the same match).

    You could also take a ratio of the total count arrived at thus with their total number of games. This will give an index indicating the number (%) of matches where the allrounder has made a nontrivial contribution with bat or ball. If it's too much work, please ignore this post.

  • --AJAX-- on September 29, 2008, 10:57 GMT

    One thing that hasn't changed is the definition of an allrounder, no matter how hard the aussies try including wicketkeepers in their efforts to force everyone to recognize Gilchrist as the second best cricketer since the Don. An allrounder is someone who can both bat and bowl. Thats it. Simple. You can now put in your filters for a world class allrounder, but in doing so you must respect those who performed both tasks at the highest standard for the era they played in. That is to respect the fact that they played at the highest level and to respect that the game has changed, but their roles as world class all rounders has not. So the best objective approach is not to measure a select few based on discriminate cutoffs but comparative analysis for every era when the game underwent significant changes. Otherwise please say, "The best Among My Favorite Allrounders."

  • -AJAX- on September 29, 2008, 10:56 GMT

    You can't create a blog about the best allrounders in history when you only consider those from recent memory. A 200 wicket limit suitably allows this. You were horrified to note Hadlee didn't make the cut for certain batting averages, well you should have this horror for cutting out everyone else when you create these constraints. And your solution of making an exception for Hadlee is worse! You should be able to come up with a model that fits for every cricketer and measures that can be applied indiscriminantly. It should not be to one players detriment that he played before you had a chance to appreciate him. The game has changed, the spirit and approach have changed, if you don't want to consider this, say that. Say "My best allrounders since 1960". Problem solved. Otherwise apply corrections to give everyone an equal footing.(cont.)

  • AJAX on September 29, 2008, 10:55 GMT

    After all the pleasant exchanges its time to get real here. Skimming through the comments I get the impression that, like your analysis, people are more attracted to "round figures" rather than those that are adjusted for practical reasons. This I believe is because most associate cricket with the evolution of the game since the 90s and pretend to understand everything that occurred prior to this. Establishing cut-offs might allow you to suitably limit the scope of your analysis but it should be noted that this is at the cost of accuracy. Your alter ego makes suggestions of "200 wickets" and batting averages based on ONE player, Hadlee, and it seems to be the magical solution. Well, magic is all that it really is, and much like some of your hunches in the past there is absolutely nothing scientific about it. We have geniuses commenting on how bad bowling SRs of 90 are, well guess what all the teams in the past sucked because run rates and results (W/L) were much lower.(cont)

  • ali on September 29, 2008, 9:53 GMT

    well, having read all that some very good "cricket brains" had to say, i believe that some times it is necessary to "rank" players to be satisfied (according to one's own choice) but if we look in a bigger perspective all the players mentioned/discussed in this artical were great great players. Lets celebrate what they did for this great game & hope that we keep getting such quality players. Welldone Mr.Ananth, Keep it up!

  • Mish on September 29, 2008, 9:47 GMT

    Sorcerer, I think using average as the sole judge of batting ability is flawed, because those who bat lower in the order are more likely to have their averages boosted. Consequently I think that combining batting average and bowling average is flawed, because there is no equivalent criteria for bowlers like the not out scenario - I'm sure the issue of not outs has been covered in another blog and is another subject. I tried some analysis of this a while back and took about 6 batting criteria (total runs, average, runs/inns, 100s, inns/100, 50+ inns) and bowling criteria (wkts, ave, strike rate, 5w, inns/5w) - can't recall all the criteria. It was simplistic as I just ranked them all against each criteria and you couldn't split Botham and Imran at the top - Sobers fell away because of some of his bowling stats. In my head, I can't split the two either. Botham capable of changing the course of a game in an hour with bat or ball, Imran a better bowler and more consistent overall.

  • srini on September 29, 2008, 8:41 GMT

    about imran khan, i think he was definitely the best among the quartet in the 80s. in comparison with sobers, i think sobers was a superior batsman and fielder while imran was a superior bowler. the only knock against imran, that i have, is that he was virtually anonymous for almost 10 years since his debut and was dropped a couple of times for poor performance. that never happened to the other three but i guess he more than made up for it with his captaincy and later career. so in that respect sobers comes up trumps. but i can truly understand if someone picks imran over sobers in his/her all time test XI.

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    Alright Marcus. Opinions vary and I respect your opinion. My personal perception of Sobers' aura is that it has gotten accentuated because of the six-sixes in an over feat and 365* (world record until Lara's 375). A sublime cricketer nevertheless, but in terms of sheer utility and performance, I believe the three All-time MVPs are Bradman, Imran and Gilchrist. [[ Ananth: What I liked most about these exchanges was the ability of both (or more) of you to exchange views without being nasty or getting personal. All the concerned people have extensive cricket and analytical knowledge and with that background have earned each others' respect. That is the type of interaction which adds value to the blog. Many thanks. ]]

  • Marcus on September 29, 2008, 7:00 GMT

    Sorcerer, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I will just say that I consider Imran to be the second-greatest allrounder of all time, and I don't think there's any shame in anyone finishing second! [[ Ananth: What I liked most about these exchanges was the ability of both (or more) of you to exchange views without being nasty or getting personal. All the concerned people have extensive cricket and analytical knowledge and with that background have earned each others' respect. That is the type of interaction which adds value to the blog. Many thanks. ]]

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 6:51 GMT

    David Barry - I cannot see such major changes in the WI bowling line-ups as suggested to you by someone in response to kind of pitches and the perceived utility of Sobers thus. It is indeed a specious reasoning attempt at best, which cannot be validated, for example..... When specifically was it that Sobers was the lone pace bowler in Windies team when they chose to play spinners on a spinner's track? In fact, Hall, Gilchrist and Atkinson ...all played in the '58 Tests in India in '58 - if ever a place for spinner's paradise in that era! Then in the '67 Series, Hall and Griffiths were still playing in the Tests in India...whoever suggested that WI used to drop pacers on spinning tracks is floating fanciful fiction. The suggestion that Sobers perceived versatility as a bowler was leveraged to accommodate the team is actually nothing but utter dross. As I said before and Kartik opined too, excellent bowlers are not dabblers - they stick to one bowling style.

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 6:38 GMT

    Mish - how can you say that Imran benefitted because of not-outs? If opposition cannot dismiss a batsman, then how can you hold it against the batsman in question? Anyone who followed Imran's career closely will vouchsafe that he kept together the Pak lower and middle order during '82 - '92 when his batting blossomed. In fact, so weak was our batting lower-order that Imran on occasions got out during forced improvisations to retain the strikes. If anything, he suffered due to playing with such weak batting partners in that the gameplan had to be constantly adapted and singles sacrificed during the latter stages of the innings. 136* V India, 93* V SL, 72* in Aus - in some of his most crucial innings he remained unconquered. It's only fair to cite not-out factor when it's a top-order player for example, in ODIs, who refuses to up the tempo in the latter stages of the innings in order to increase his average - a la Zaheer - a practice of Pak's prolific batsman most denounced by Imran.

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 6:29 GMT

    Marcus..if you closely analyse Sobers' bowling records, it will be clear that he bowled significantly as first change and second-change too. Now, naturally if you require roughly 15 overs to get a wicket on average, then you cannot sustain your position as a strike bowler and hence are bound to be sidelined as a support phenomenon. Talking about ridding players' stats of performances against the weak teams for a more focused evaluation, that would really not affect Imran's records much as they are very balanced indeed - ranging from the good (batting V WI) to magnificent (overall V England and India, bowling V WI) against different oppositions. In fact his bowling returns are the most balanced amongst all modern fast bowlers alongwith those of McGrath and Marshall. Trueman (51), Hall (54), Pollock (56), Davidson (59), Snow (59), Old (61), Stratham (63), Chandra (66), Arnold (67), Greig (69) etc. - all played in that era have strike rates significantly better than that of Sobers (93).

  • Kartik on September 29, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    In fact, the batting average cutoff for all-rounders should be 27.00. 25.00 just happens to be a round number. The 27.00 cutoff is because Richard Hadlee should be considered the absolute minimum for batting talent to be considered an all-rounder. Hadlee himself said he did not consider himself to be a genuine all-rounder. So 27.00 should be the cutoff (thus excluding Vettori).

    Regarding Sobers - the nostalgia factor is huge. People say that he would make the WI team as a bowler alone, but a strike rate of 92 balls/wicket makes that doubtful. Today, a player with such a poor strike rate would not considered a specialist bowler. So what if he could bowl both pace and spin. I am sure Imran and Hadlee could bowl spin and still get a wicket every 92 balls. I am sure Warne could bowl medium pace and get a wicket every 92 balls.

    Sorry, but 92 balls per wicket is just not that good. Mark Waugh, Sehwag, and Tendulkar have better strike rates than that. [[ Ananth: Kartik, this is the second time your thoughts have mirrored my work. I started work on my follow-up piece and when I had my cut-off at 2500/25.00/100/40.00, had 13 all-rounders including Vettori. Then I changed to 27.50 and was horrified to see Hadlee going off. So I said I will have 30.00 and have Hadlee in as an analyst's privilege entry. This is same as having the cut-off at 27.00. ]]

  • David Barry on September 29, 2008, 5:22 GMT

    Sobers when opening the bowling or first change: 154 wickets at 32.7. His strike rate (which in general I wouldn't use in rating bowlers - I only look at averages) in these innings was 89.8.

    I have heard it suggested (I don't know if it's true) that Sobers' bowling average was high because he was often used against the nature of the pitch - on a quick surface, the selectors would pick frontline pacemen and Sobers would be used as a spinner; on a spinners' wicket, the selectors would pick spinners and Sobers would open the bowling.

  • srini on September 29, 2008, 4:56 GMT

    marcus: that is the point isnt it? you are supposed to raise your level against better opposition. kallis hasnt really failed at that but hasnt succeeded either. in these times of flat pitches, shorter boundaries, diluted quality etc averaging 50+ has sort of become the norm. if u look at my earlier post, i have mentioned that ananth should take into account the top 20-25 allrounders in this list,kallis included, and compare their records against the best sides of their era. that will not be pointless. ultimately scoring a 100 against bermuda is valued less than a 100 against australia.

  • Marcus on September 29, 2008, 4:24 GMT

    Srini, if you want to remove Kallis' performances against the West Indies, then you should also do the same for Ponting, Tendulkar, Pietersen and every one else who's played them. In fact, you should also do the same for every allrounder in this list- subtract their performances against the wekaer teams in the side. But that'd be pretty pointless, as the players can only play the opposition put in front of them.

    Sorcerer- my point was that strike rates across the board were a lot higher back then. My impression is that Sobers was generally required to fill the fourth-fifth bowler role rather than leading the attack, so naturally his strike rate wouldn't be as good as Snow's, who was the attack leader. That doesn't mean he couldn't bowl- I remember Dennis Lillee saying that he could bowl fearsome bouncers for the World XI- but just that he wasn't required to fill the same role as Imran, Kapil etc. But IMO his versatility as a class support seamer/spinner makes him the greatest.

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 3:47 GMT

    Imran holds the world record for the highest batting average of all Test batsmen in history batting at pivotal Number 6 position - 62. An excellent striker of the ball who had the reserves and the resilience to adapt his game to levels of dour resistance, Imran was a complete batsman in his own right post '82 when he took up captaincy of the team. Such flexibility and adaptability given the circumstances was missing in the belligerent batting game-plan of Botham. Hadlee and Kapil. Also, Kapil raised his game against the very best just like Imran did V WI of that era. There is an aura of nostalgia attached to Sobers but having a look at the multiple facets and most importantly the degree of impact on team's fortunes, there has never been an all-rounder who has had a greater infuence on his team than Imran Khan. And for a player who was known to be most selfless and disdain for personal milestones as borne out by his strategies and approach, his career stats are still magnificent.

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 1:17 GMT

    Botham's first couple of years in Test cricket - his astonishing performances are due to the fact that the main core of international players was busy playing in Packer Series rather! Kallis' overall averages are so impressive largley due to his stints against rank minnows like WI, Zim and Bangladesh, and not many of his fans will refute that there is a clear tinge of selfishness and average-making consciousness which shines through his batting approach. No wonder not many regard him as a truly great all-rounder. That is the last thing Imran could be accused of for eg. here is a skipper who declared team innings when himself on 93* (V SL)! Moreover, imagine the workload and burden on Imran, who was in addition, also the de facto coach and team statesman-cum-selector and on-the-field mentor of almost the whole bunch of budding youngsters who played with him. By the way, perhaps an "All-rounder factor can be used in Classification 1 which is derived by dividing batt. avge by bowling avg.

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2008, 1:05 GMT

    Mark has commented on the batting of Imran and disagrees that he would make it to the team as a batsman only. Well, along with Miandad, Imran formed the nucleus of Pak batting from '82 - '92, averaging identical 52 to Miandad's! In that era only a handful of batsmen over the world averaged 50+. Imran's career batting average is identical to that of a couple of excellent English batsmen of the last decade - Athers and Lamb - 38. That was considered quite decent in the era that he played the game and indeed he played some Series purely as a specialist batsman whilst recuperating from shin fractures. That he has saved Test matches V WI of that era and Aus in Aus in mid-80s batting stolidly for long durations when nearly everyone else around him had capitulated speaks volumes of Imran's batting credentials. Most startling of his facets is the fact that he refused to play against minnows and at home in the final few years of his career citing lack of intensity and challenge as the reason.

  • Mish on September 28, 2008, 23:52 GMT

    More thoughts - is there any way of looking at this incorporating the icc rankings? The original sponsor used to show allrounder rankings over a career but this is no longer available. The rankings took into account match totals of wickets and runs and rated opposition so would be a good way of assessing the greatest allround performance, as well as the best over a career.

    Is there also an argument for factoring in the consistency in both suits? For example, if two players have a hypothetical rating of 100, and one player's batting:bowling ratio of this rating is 75:25 and the other's is 50:50, is the second player the truer allrounder?

    Can't wait to see your follow-up. Please, please, please assess wicket keepers separately, and please don't include any leadership or captaincy aspect - it's a whole different kettle of fish.

  • Mark on September 28, 2008, 23:39 GMT

    I am also very surprised to see Steve Waugh in the top 10, as he was really no more than a change bowler for most of his career. I don't recall him playing as a strike bowler. However, at #9, I'd let him pass.

    I suspect that Kallis's figures are greatly inflated by 12 wickets @ 13.2 v Bangladesh (batting average 139) and 21 wickets v Zimbabwe @14.7. In all, almost 1000 runs @159 and 33 wickets @14.2 v Bangladesh & Zimbabwe. In 18 Tests v Australia he never did better than a 3-for, nor in 11 Tests v India, or 14 Tests v New Zealand. These aren't the figures of a great all-rounder. In contrast, Botham managed an 8-for against perhaps the best West Indies side of all and Imran Khan had 23, 5-fors, all against strong sides, with a career littered with 7-fors and 8-fors against the best teams.

    Anyway, it is a nice analysis, even if I wonder how Jacques Kallis makes it... to me it demonstrates that no filter is infallible! :-) [[ Ananth: The last table is only an alternate one and as I have indicated thereon, the main table is the one with 21 players in the body of the article. Steve Waugh does not qualify in that. ]]

  • Mish on September 28, 2008, 23:27 GMT

    I think combining averages can mislead this as I'm not sure batting and bowling averages are comparable. There are misleading factors in batting averages with not outs (Imran's average is boosted by the fact that c20% of his innings were n.o., Botham scored more runs per innings.)

    I've been interested in this for a while and looked at a whole host of factors. One that I found telling was scoring 100s and taking 5-fors - great batsmen make 100s consistently and likewise great bowlers take 5-fors. If you set a limit of 3 of each, then the list falls to 18 people (Pollock misses out), if you raise the bar to 5 100s and 5 5-fors, then you're left with 9; Kapil, Kallis, Botham, Sobers, Imran, Cairns, Greig, Miller and Mankad (Botham's the only player to manage 10 of each).

    This is not just a Botham propaganda post, but you have to take into account these contributions - particularly his matchwinning ones(8 100s and 15 5-fors). On a negative side his later years hurt his overall figures.

  • Mark on September 28, 2008, 23:10 GMT

    Anath, thanks for the nice comments. Looking at your revised table we find all the usual suspects (Sobers, Botham, Imran, Miller, Kapil, ...) in the top 10. That gives a lot of confidence that your yardstick is fundamentally correct. Obviously, if it had come out that, say, Shane Warne were #1 and John Emburey #2 we would know that there method is flawed. So, you definitely pass a sanity check (in the statistical sense).

    Sobers as #1 is not something that too many people will reasonably argue with. Be batted brilliantly and could bowl with the new ball, seam up with the old ball, or support Lance Gibbs as a spinner. I'd agree to Kapil being below Imram: Imram was very special, Kapil was deified, but Indian fans tend to overrate their cricketers. Seeing Jacques Kallis at #2 surprises me a lot as he is not a destructive bowler (unlike Botham or Sobers his best results have come against weak sides - 2, 5-fors v Bangladesh, 2 against the Windies, only one against a strong side).

  • MB on September 28, 2008, 19:09 GMT

    why should wicket keeping comes into definition of ALLROUNDER? it's harsh to say but it's true that we dont see any real allrounder from australia in last 30 or 40 years so they had to invent their own definition of allrounder including wicketkeeper, bkz they have produced a few like gilchrist and healy. Adam gilchrist was a greast wicketkeeper batsman but wasn't an allrounder and it's even a joke to rate him GREAT in allrounders list. He should be listed on top in whicketkeeper batsmen though. Anyway i want to say that statistics are important but is not the only criteria to rate who's the best or in top 3 or 5. There are many other factors too that's why a few player in the list dont deserve the position they have according to these statistics. But if we talk about other factors, it becomes more complicated to rate them. I think Imran and Sober are most undesputed in top 5. Another weighting should be included, that's whickets per match, wht would you say ananth?

  • chris on September 28, 2008, 18:27 GMT

    (formatting improved) Happy to see Sobers on top - Kallis very good player indeed, but Sobers way out. Consider batting records:

    Debut Sobers 17yrs 8mths Kallis 20yrs 2mths

    1st got to test av of 50 Sobers 21yrs 8mths Kallis 27yrs 1mth

    1st got to test av 60 Sobers 22yrs 5mths Kallis .... (now 32yrs)

    Age when av dropped below 60 Sobers 35yrs 7mths Kallis ....

    Kallis excellent, but Sobers was stellar!!

  • srini on September 28, 2008, 16:48 GMT

    unbelievable!!! kallis is a very good allrounder but y'all make him to be sobers's foetus for crying out loud. if u remove the minnows (windies inc) his batting average is 47 and bowling average is 35. not very special numbers in this day and age. he is a damn good allrounder no doubt, a south african legend but do u really believe he is as special as kapil, imran or hadlee???? kapil, hadlee n imran were supreme performers against windies of their time. the only thing kallis has in common with them is his record against windies, which is exemplary.

  • Engle on September 28, 2008, 14:50 GMT

    When comparing Sobers bowling with Kallis, please note that during Sobers time, few bowlers scaled the 200+ wicket mark.

    During Kallis time, bowlers are scaling twice that amount with 400+ wickets, a dilution no doubt.

  • Archmage on September 28, 2008, 13:48 GMT

    Ananth The players you describe are classifiable as "batting allrounders", "bowling allrounders" and for want of a better term "genuine allrounders" for the equally skilled batters/bowlers. I am puzzled that this last group don't dominate the rankings more - Miller, Cairns, etc. I think the problem lies in the lack of value assigned to the bowling component. An assumption that creeps in fairly early in your article is "Using a commonly accepted norm of a wicket as equivalent to 20 runs". How many times do we see teams dismissed for 200? The modern average is more in the order of 350-500. The muted applause the feckless bowler receives on taking that all too rare 5 for in an innings compared to the rapturous cheering a batsman receives on reaching 100 is not the same. Cricket is a batsman's game after all. For this analysis we should go beyond this discrimination – more weighting on wickets taken is needed. At best two 5 fors can be awarded per innings irrespective of the quality of the bowling yet we may see anything up to 5 or 7 centuries in an innings. The validity of rating 'A' level all-round performances of 100 runs and 5 wickets needs a rethink. Its much easier I am thinking to score a 100 than to take 5 wickets (what if your captain doesn’t throw you the ball?) [[ Ananth: All valid points. I have already made sufficient responses to the comments to probably convince you and other similar thinkers that I am seized of the need to consider the bowling allocation in a more favourable manner than batting allocation.. ]]

  • Srikanth on September 28, 2008, 13:22 GMT

    For all those who say that Kallis took far fewer wickets per match when compared to sobers - well he has a better strike rate than Sobers. The difference was that he bowled a lot fewer overs per match than Sobers. Kallis' SA side had much better bowlers than Sobers' WI side and hence Kallis didnt have to be an opening bowler. If Kallis had been playing for..say NZ...he might have been an opening bowler/first change and bowled a lot more overs per match and consequently taken a lot more wickets per match.

    [[ Ananth: Good point. Kallis has been getting the raw end of the deal even though he has proved to be nearly as good a batsman as Sobers and a better bowler than Sobers. If South Africa had three pace bowlers to bowl ahead of him, so did Sobers. Both are fourth bowlers. ]]

    PS: Cant wait for the additional analysis with wicketkeepers including the player who contributed the most with his allround (in the truest sense of the term) abilities - A.C. Gilchrist. He may not have been a Don Tallon or an Ian Healy with the gloves but his keeping was more than competent and he has taken a few screamers and his batting....has changed many a match.

  • Suhaib J Ahmed on September 28, 2008, 13:11 GMT

    This is indeed a very interesting analysis. I would have to say that somehow I feel that Sobers, Imran and Botham had a much more profound impact on the game than Kallis. But then stats are stats, you cannot argue with them. I think Kallis is one of the modern-day greats though.

    I feel your second-last list is the best simply because the last one has Steve Waugh at number 9. I am a big fan of Waugh, but labelling him an all-rounder is slightly pushing it. I would also like to know what the list would be like if we do not take into account individual match performances.

    Finally, I was wondering how you can go about formulating a list for most "Well-rounded All-rounders".

  • alexblok on September 28, 2008, 12:31 GMT

    Where's Alan Davidson (Aus, 1953-63). Come on! Ananth, I love you, but pure quantity without quality is just ... well, lots of not much. [[ Ananth: Davidson scored 1328 runs and has fallen short of the runs requirement by huge margin. Once we set up the bar, we cannot change the same at will. Incidentally davidson was one of my favourite all-rounders. ]]

  • rai on September 28, 2008, 12:20 GMT

    Hai Ananth This one come back again, but again without any conclusion. Difficult to reach on any conclusion and make happy every one with your analysis which was based on different classifications but great analysis. I am surpised with Kalis issue. Seems people don't like his playing style even though his records are better than Sobers but he is not considered even in top 5 by most, very strange but for me he correctly at no. 2. Other one was placing Botham ahead of Imran, based on average where later is better than Botham in batting as well bowling. If I remember correctly Imran's batting average icreased dramatically during latter stage of his carreer where he was playing only as a pure batsman due to any injury and was not bowling at all. This help his batting & average increased while his bowling average didn't changed. I feel Botham was better allrounder than Imran and he has won more matches with bat than Imran. Kapil and Headly should be higher but record doesn't support them.

  • cricketfan on September 28, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    I think this is a very good but not fair observation. Any batting/bowling/fielding analysis should be done for two categories. 1) Pre ODI era 2) ODI era This is because consider the amount of cricket people used to play before ODI's. After the ODI's started, cricketers not only had to play more cricket, but deal with huge expectations, high pressure levels, top class fitness and more importantly consistency.

  • Aaron on September 28, 2008, 12:01 GMT

    This is a personal opinion but I think that the statistics need to be revised to be weighted further to wards having a better bowling average. A good batting all-rounder can consistently be the 5th bowler over his career. These players tend not to be relied upon win the match with the ball. An all-rounder who is good at bowling is relied upon to win matches with both bat and ball.

    I think this is the reason that Kallis is not really ever mentioned as a legendary all-rounder. Players in the mould of khan/botham/miller/dev were not consistently the best batsmen in their sides but are all known for their match winning efforts in their weaker displine. [[ Ananth: A very valid point well made. ]]

  • Farhan166 on September 28, 2008, 11:34 GMT

    I think Botham is overrated. He performed great against the teams which were depleted because of the absence of top players who were playing for Kerry Packer. Moreover he would bowl better only if the conditions suit him unlike Imran who was effective even on dead wickets. Botham record against the top team of the time West Indies was also quite poor.

  • Michael Brown on September 28, 2008, 11:05 GMT

    All this talk about Kallis being a bad choice because he is not good enough as a bowler ignores the fact that he was the best bowler in the recent SA vs England series, although he doesn't bowl much anymore he still manages to take wickets remarkably often imediately after he comes on to bowl. Also the fact he has taken more wickets than sobers means he is clearly not a bad bowler.

  • cricluvr on September 28, 2008, 11:00 GMT

    what happened to jayasuriya. this list is ridiculous. hes one of the best all-rounders of all time. got 12,000 runs as well as 300 odd wickets. he has a good record in tests too. certainly, this list is biased. [[ Ananth: 12000 runsand 300 wickets in ODIs. This is a Test analysis. ]]

  • Mark Checkley on September 28, 2008, 10:53 GMT

    There are lots of bowlers who bat, and lots of batsmen who bowl. These are batting allrounders and bowling allrounders, and Australia is peerless at producing them; indeed I have often commented that one of the main parameters in their success has been how well their bowlers can bat. All that said, the PURE allrounder (at any level from tesm Match to village green) is the player who would achieve selection based upon EITHER one of his skill-sets if the other were missing. Such are few and far between. Sobers - certainly. One of the finest batsmen the world has ever seen, and one of the finest bowlers of his generation. Botham, I think so. Rhodes, yes. But would Imran Khan and Sir Richard Hadlee have been selected as batsmen if they did not bowl? I think not. But there are people in this list - mostly bowling allroundrs - who scored their runs because they happened to be in the team on account of their bowling. These are not PURE allrounders, and do not belong in this comparison.

  • Tarun Yadav on September 28, 2008, 10:18 GMT

    You've missed out one important yardstick - especially for those that played in the late 70's and 80's ... that is, performance against West Indies (Who were the greatest side of all time).

    Ian Botham, when up against the best, was practically non-existent. Has BOTH a worse bowling and batting average against the WIndies than this career one. Others like Hadlee and Imran improve their game against the WIndies. Botham (with England) vs WIndies has lost something like 10+ test matches, to only 1 win (and that 1 win came in the 90's). Hadlee and Kapil have enjoyed series wins against the WIndies in their prime, whilst also putting in good performances. Imran did v.well to get 1-1 draw AWAY in the WIndies in 85-86. Botham... nada!

    Sobers and Kallis aside, you'd have to rank them as either: 1= Hadlee, Imran 3 Kapil 4 Botham.

  • srini on September 28, 2008, 10:08 GMT

    contd... forgot to mention kallis's bowling analysis, he has taken 160 wkts @ 35.17. so if u redo the analysis kallis would definitely come lower down the list.

  • Tayyab on September 28, 2008, 10:05 GMT

    Kallis is not a genuine allrounder IMHO. He is specialist batsmen who bowls part time. He is picked for his batting only and has played many matches without bowling. can he hold his place in the team on his bolwing alone? An allrounder is who can win matches with both bat and bowl,and is good enough to hold is position in the team on either his batting or bowling for eg Botham, khan, Flintoff, sobers, and dev. Everyone else speclaise in one discipline and are bits and pieces in the other eg kallis, pathan, sehwag. In short there are allrounders and then there are those who can do a liitle bit of the the other

  • srini on September 28, 2008, 10:03 GMT

    jacques kallis has got great numbers. he is a very very useful player to have in a team. most of us would agree that he is a batting allrounder and more of a support bowler. if u consider kallis's batting against the better sides (not inc ban, zim and windies yes windies). its 92 tests 6732 runs @ 47.4 19 100s. which is not very good to be considered an all time great. i agree if i was south african, i would definitely select kallis because he gives us so many options. but what i would like to disagree is that he is underrated. hell no he isnt. he is a very very good player but not good enough to be considered in the pantheon of greats like sobers, imran, kapil or botham.

    so ananth, my suggestion to ur next analysis would be to consider these allrounders and only these cos they have pretty much separated themselves from the rest of the pack against the best sides of their era. it should be pretty ez to do considering u have only around 20-25 players (kallis included) contd....

  • srini on September 28, 2008, 9:46 GMT

    regarding lower bowling strike rates, i have seen quite a few scorecards from the 60s and 70s and i tend to notice that scoring runs had been very slow. batsmen tended to wait for the loose ball rather than go after the bowling like they do these days. moreover most test matches in australia were 8 ball overs till the late 70s and there were many 6 day test matches. so these factors, enabled teams to plan and play a very stratergic sort of game. even the records page on cricinfo reveals that most of the best strike rates were either pre 30s or post 70s.

  • chris on September 28, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    Happy to see Sobers on top - Kallis very good player indeed, but Sobers way out. Consider batting records: Sobers Kallis Debut 17yrs 8mths 20yrs 2mths 1st got 50av 21yrs 8mths 27yrs 1mth 1st got 60av 22yrs 5mths .... (now 32yrs) Back below 60av 35yrs 7mths .... Sobers was stellar!!

  • Ric Finlay on September 28, 2008, 9:10 GMT

    Your first table is similar to a commonly-used method of dividing the Batting average by the Bowling average, instead of subtracting as you have done. The top 20 doing it this way is exactly the same, except that Botham and Hadlee swap places. What would happen to your second table if you used 31.78 (the overall Test batting average 1877 to 2008) as the the number of runs that each wicket was worth, instead of 20? [[ Ananth: Ric, I get a different number to 31.78. However the point is 31.78 seems too high, considering the 700+ wickets by the pair at the top and the 11000+ runs at the top by Lara and soon-at-the-top Tendulkar. Somewhere there it seems to be easier to take wickets than scoring runs, a paradox indeed. But the high number of wickets seems to be only at the top. The 25th bowler is Brett Lee with 289 wickets. The 25th batsman is Mark T 26 runs per wkt. I personally think 25 rpw is probably the right figure.aylor with 7525 runs. This leads to around ]]

  • Jarrod Potter on September 28, 2008, 8:20 GMT

    Good article, I don't think anyone can argue with Sobers placing atop the table.

    Out of curiosity, for people not qualifying as an allrounder by your standard (2000 runs @ 20+, 100 wickets or even the lessened standard at the end of the article), who has the greatest amount of A+B Grade Performances, and what stands as the best non-allrounder, all-round performance?

  • tim on September 28, 2008, 8:19 GMT

    what about fielding, botham and sobers were brilliant fielders, many of the others were solid as you;d expect from great athletes but not outstanding in the field. Also I believe Kallis is harshly delat to but does freuently bowl when conditions suit and is conspiculously absent when there is no swing, some mention of average wickets per test would perhaps limit some of these performers kalis takes less than 2.5 per test hardly a front line bowler likewise (and I think his only "weakness") sobers also took relatively few wickets per test with a high strike rate, around 90 from memory not a true strike bolwer? Imran was a top captian and perhaps that's worth something but how do you explain brearly's handling of botham, genius, botham's performances under brearly were unbelievable.

  • Prashant on September 28, 2008, 7:35 GMT

    I just feel the "longevity" factor should infact be given MORE weightage.

    Surely, the sportsman who can maintain a certain standard for a longer period of time or more matches is superior to one who has a similar performance over a shorter period.

  • srini on September 28, 2008, 7:25 GMT

    y do ppl want to "americanize" cricket? i mean putting everything through statistics. all american sports have efficiency numbers, per for basketball, mendoza for baseball, passer rating in american football. numbers do matter but without a deep analysis they mean nothing. botham was spectacular from 77 to 84 but then his bowling avg started to grow as his waistline. he was poor to pathetic against windies the best side of the 80s. we definitely need to consider that. wud ppl consider sachin or lara a great batsman if they averaged 20 against australia and maintained their present numbers? that sort of analysis is very important.

  • Kiran on September 28, 2008, 6:38 GMT

    I dont quite agree with this table, I do agree that sobers is the best, but it only displays statistics, so what they are good, but what about on the field, as captains, vice captains, leaders, whatever? The other thing, is that, in 40 years time who will we remember, Sobers, Botham, Khan, Hadlee, even flintoff, but no Kallis nor Chris Cairns.

  • Kashef on September 28, 2008, 6:32 GMT

    Thought provoking stuff! Make sense. My conclusion(thoughts)are as follows; Let's analyse the 4!Sobers: Phenomenal batting and bowling averages.Was he a batting or bowling allrounder? Definitely a better batsman.Botham: Destructive batsman & excellent bowler. In my book, I'd consider him a batting allrounder as many a times he has opened successfully for England. Who can forget his ashes & the 86 series down under.Imran:Menancing bowler & destructive batsman who could change gears when required. Could bat for sessions to save a match & could twist a game within overs. Top figures in all conditions; docile or fast tracks. At 36,ran thru the Windies (1988)& almost took the throne. Icing on the cake was his successful captaincy. As good in batting & bowling.Kallis: A genuine batsman but would he make it to any side as a bowler only.Dont think so! 1 more point I don't think Akram deserves a place coz he has hardly won a match as a batsman. Close call: 1.Imran 2.Sobers 3.Botham.

  • ranjit on September 28, 2008, 6:03 GMT

    its really unfortunate that mike procter cudnt play too many test matches due to apartheid.had he played more matches,he would have been regarded as one of the greatest all rounders ever.

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 5:56 GMT

    Again on Classification 1 system, hypothetically considering Player A with a batting average of 55 and bowling average of 40, would rank higher as compared to Player B with a batting average of 25 and bowling average 15, whereas it is obvious that the latter is a far more effective all-rounder. That is as a result of the absolute average number advantage that batsmen enjoy over bowlers in an unmodified average-based calculation setting.

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 5:47 GMT

    Ananth, just as a follow-up to the last post re Classification 1 of your work, the calculation parameters unwittingly favor batting-allrounders over bowling all-rounders given the absolute number domain of an elite batsman (54-60 average) is quite high as opposed to that of an elite bowler (20-24 average). Thus, at the moment, batting-allrounders like Sobers and Kallis get undue advantage over bowling all-rounders like Imran and Miller in Classification 1. Moreover, I believe the value of an elite bowling-allrounder is worth much more than of an elite batting-allrounder, as the former is worth his weight in gold in the words of Richie Benaud. So, the tilt in the calculation parameters, if any, should rather be on the side of bowling-allrounders as they provide higher utility to their teams. [[ Ananth: Again a valid point well made. Because we are adding the Batting and Bowling numbers there is a need to equalize them to the extent possible. Will look at it in my follow-up analysis. ]]

  • madhusudan on September 28, 2008, 5:44 GMT

    ya i agree with all of u that sobers is not that good bowler , but numbers don't reflect the greatness of sobey . having watched the 254 live is the biggest honour of life till date. this is what sobers was capable of. kallis despite having similar/better stats can never ever dream of knocks like that . to conclude i would like to say sobers made test cricket look like sunday afternoon on villgae green and no other cricketer has till date come close to abilities fo sobers . other thing is thta sobers will make it to most lists of top 5 batsman of all time , any other bowling/batting all rounder in the list ll find ll very hard to make into the top5 in his better field

  • Bhavin Choksi on September 28, 2008, 5:43 GMT

    I think Sobers is deservedly at the top. If you count his World XI performances that were at one time considered Tests, he would rate even higher.

    However, rating Botham ahead of Imran Khan is ludicrous. Imran has a better bowling and batting average, and he performed at a much higher level than Botham against the best team of his generation - the West Indies.

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 5:23 GMT

    Sobers' mediocre bowling: Marcus says in defence that he was not the leading bowler of the team and thus he could not get that many wickets. Well, not being the leading bowler in the team does NOT impact the two most clear yardsticks of your potency as a bowler - your Career Average and Strike Rate - it's simply a reflection of how good a bowler you are. If you need more than 15 overs to get a wicket and average a considerable 34 for every wicket, it is not the fault of other bowlers in the team. John Snow's 59 or Harris' 73 are in a different league to that of Sobers' (93). Regarding the non-relevance of Imran's astonishing captaincy credentials in the debate, it is quite clear that even accepting the reason that since many on the list never captained their teams, the fact that it is potentially as a skipper that you can create the biggest impact on the game and the results marks Imran out as the outstanding perfomer amongst the lot.

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 5:15 GMT

    Ananth, the more I study your analysis, the more detailed it looks! But I have a point for further improvement....Sobers with a batting and bowling averages of 58 and 34. Imran with 38 and 23. Now having a look at the list of all-time greats, it is remarkably stark that a huge concentration of all-time great batsmen average between 54-60 wheras for the bowlers of the last 60-odd years, averages are between 20-23. Also the "Test-standard" batting average would be 45-50, whereas for a bowler it would be 24-30. Given these provable and clear parameters, it is obvious that Imran Khan's career returns in the two disciplines are marginally better than those of Sobers, and thus Ananth, you need to revise your criteria for the very first Classification which you have termed "Career Performance based" - as the parameters and criterion for calculating the quotient can thus be improved in my opinion, judging the matter from the perspective of career stats summation results of the best cricketers. [[ Ananth: Very valid point and will be kept in my mind for my follow-up post. Thanks. ]]

  • Ashwath Sekhar on September 28, 2008, 5:07 GMT

    Great article sir looking forward to reading your work on wicketkeepers soon. It amazes me though that although your blog is named "It figures" and is a statistical blog people still comment that numbers are merely numbers. Cheers

  • Marcus on September 28, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    I don't think captaincy as a measure can be included, simply because not all of the players here were captains, therefore I don't see how you could compare the captaincy skills of some players with those of others who never had the chance. [[ Ananth: You are correct in mentioning that captaincy is not a true indicator of a player's all-round skills and I will not be considering it in my follow-up analysis. However inspiring a leader Imran Khan was. his value as an all-rounder should not be influenced by these leadership qualities just as Botham should not be measured by his lack of success as a captain. ]]

    Regarding Sobers' bowling- I think it should be mentioned that unlike Imran, Botham, Hadlee etc. he wasn't the main strike bowler in his team. Throughout the '60's and early '70's the West Indians had some excellent pace bowlers such as Hall and Griffiths, and Lance Gibbs as the spinner. Sobers generally bowled in support to the main strike bowlers, therefore he didn't take as many wickets. As to his strike rate, it may not look pretty, but neither does Lance Gibbs' (87) when compared to Paul Harris' (73) or John Snow's (59) when compared to James Franklin's (47) yet few would doubt that Gibbs and Snow were both better than Harris and Franklin. Had he played today, I think Sobers' strike rate would more accurately reflect his bowling ability.

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 5:03 GMT

    Ananth, I have a suggestion. By attaching "weights" as a means of giving due prominence and importance to quality of opposition to the career averages - both batting and bowling against various countries based on the known or accepted international team rankings / tiers of the era, would add a lot of value to the vast numerical work you have already done. That, in my estimation, would rightly lift both Imran and Kapil and drop the positions of Botham and Kallis who have traditionally perfomed "generally" disproportionately more against low-quality oppositions whilst succumbing a number of times against the very best. [[ Ananth: I don't think it would be right to give weight based on international rankings since I am not sure how accurate or objective these are. Anyhow I have all information as to how they all performed on filed and I would prefer to use these based on my own observations and readers' comments. ]]

  • sushant singh on September 28, 2008, 5:03 GMT

    u r right .sobers is the greatest followed by imran ,botham & others. but plz look at kallis records in one dayers also. overall a good analyis

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 4:41 GMT

    Head-to-head counts. Imran easily overshadowed all the other three of his contemporary great rivals. Botham was shown up mercilessly both times he came up against Imran in England - actually Imran was the main performer and the MoS in both of those Series in addition to being the skipper of a highly volatile unit. The somewhat-misplaced aura of Sobers is stuck with a tattoo of nostalgia bordering on the unreasonable since his bowling returns are so mediocre, there is hardly a semblance of true balance in his all-round record. Both Imran and Sobers are in the pantheon of all-time greats unquestionably in bowling and batting disciplines. But Imran became a top batting force (not his core forte) in the second decade of his career - averaging 52 in the 48 Tests he skippered Pak. Sobers was never for an extended period of time a bowler (not his core forte) of such high repute. Someone with a S/R of 93 balls can never be considered to be more than half-decent a bowler in that right ever. [[ Ananth: It is true that Sobers was the fourth/fifth bowler and Imran/Kapil/Hadlee were almost the first/second bowlers. I have to find a way to build this in an objective manner. Your points have been very well made. Many thanks. ]]

  • Kartik on September 28, 2008, 4:34 GMT

    Ananth,

    I say the criteria have to be tighter when you get to your top-10 allrounders list.

    The batting average limit should be 25.00, not 20.00. The allrounder should be a good enough batsman to bat at #7 consistently, and thus an average of 25.00 is needed.

    Career wickets should be above 200. 100 is too low. Since we have importance to career accumulation in the 'Best ODI Batsman' set of articles, a higher standard of career wickets is needed. [[ Ananth: Kartik, It is amazing. I had noted down my notes on the mobile and I see 25.00/2500/200/40.00, exactly mirroring your thoughts. So I feel I am on the right path.Thanks]]

  • Kartik on September 28, 2008, 4:27 GMT

    This list further confirms that South Africa has always been less than the sum of its parts.

    Despite having TWO of the top 5 all-rounders ever, it never became the best Test team. Quite often, it was not even #2.

    Furthermore, it is not like it was weak outside of Kallis and Pollock. Donald, Klusener, Boucher, Cronje, Kirsten, McMillan, Gibbs, Cullinan, etc. Not bad.

    But it STILL was always a team hovering between #2 and #4 in Tests.

    No team has ever had two of the top 5 allrounders (that too for about 12 years). Yet, SA was bested by the team that had no all-rounders, Australia. [[ Ananth: South Africa have been the eternal under-achievers and this is being told in a "oh! how much more could they have achieved" vein. Even see the recent England series. They certainly should have done more. Possibly Smith wasn't fit. Problem is that without Smith they have no leader. Kallis and Prince are not inspiring leaders. ]]

  • Amy Jones on September 28, 2008, 4:07 GMT

    Criteria Captain/Leader One leader who either won/draw against all major teams away Test during its ERA. Only 2 names Imran and Sobers. Many times Imran declared with 10 runs short of his own century, not skewing up his average, average of 22 in dead pitch like Pakistan. I would could Imran and Sobers Keith Miller top 3 and rest daylight. Leadership MVP-Impact on the team Condition Game Experts Opinion Averages Its is more difficult to be Bowling All-round then Batting Allrounder, history proves that.

  • Amrith Saagar on September 28, 2008, 3:06 GMT

    From many year i have been hearing an allrounder is some one who has a batting average above 30.00 & bowling average below 30.00, which actually makes sense. And also for ever 100 wickets they have taken should also have scored more than 1000 runs which falls nicely with the 30.00 average in both the cases.Check out kapil's stats... it falls nicely in all the 4 aspects.Same is the case with botham, Shaun pollock & Imran khan.

  • Ken Santlal - Boston MA on September 28, 2008, 2:02 GMT

    The flaw in your analysis is that your definition of 'all-rounder' is limited to batting and bowling. What about wicket-keeping (someone mentioned Gilchrist), number of catches, and most important, captaincy. How many of these all-rounders were successful captains? Imran Khan stands out as the most successsful captain of all the all-rounders and one of the best captains in the history of the game. Add the captaincy factor and Imran would be in the top 5 'all-rounders'. [[ Ananth: I have reproduced a para from the article below. ""The Australians coined a new definition of an all-rounder, viz., the wicket-keeper. I wanted to do an analysis of the wicket keepers. However I have decided to do a separate piece on that for two reasons. The first is that this article has become quite long, but more importantly, the players who have the toughest job in cricket deserve their own special article. Hence that will be covered in a later article."" This is self-explanatory. Re catches, will look into this.

    ]]

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 1:56 GMT

    I wonder how can you label Sobers a "champion with both bat and ball"? No doubt an all-time great batsman but a cahmpion with the ball? 235 wickets in 93 Tests @ 34, with a S/R of 93 balls, and only one ten-fer in a match - hardly the returns of a Test standard bowler let alone those of a champion. The fact that he tried a lot of bowling varieties does not mean much since the returns are so mediocre and anyway execellent bowlers stick to one style and excel in it - they do not dabble with six or seven bowling styles with poor results.

  • FAIZ TAQVI on September 28, 2008, 1:51 GMT

    I think kapil dev is second best because his runs came in difficult situations and even his wickets came under much difficult situations. He has bowled mostly in subcontinent where conditions doesn't favour bowling. He bowled under pressure without much support from the other end and has bowled without much support from fielding. Contries like West Indies, South Africa and Pakistan have relatively better bowlers operating in tendem. India has been a relatively weaker field side too compared to South africa and West Indies.

  • bug one on September 28, 2008, 1:06 GMT

    Good one Ananth, but Jaques Kallis? Come on. This is my best team ever, which contains no fewer than 8 allrounders. I know you hate to see these but I'm making a point of the value of allrounders. Miller Bradman Richards Sobers Gilchrist Botham Dev Khan Hadlee Akram Warne Notice how there's no Kallis - Kallis is one of those quiet achievers who puts everyone to sleep - always plays well at home but never wins the big matches. I'd like to include Tendulkar and McGrath, Lara and Ambrose in this list, but frankly no room exists. Talking of all rounders, has anyone noticed that Shane Watson looks like Prince charming from the Shrek movies? Another digression. Does everyone else cringe when nationalism rears its ugly head on these posts. Like the guy that always screams that Sanath Jayasuriya is the best player ever? Nationalism is hilarious until someone gets decapitated.

  • sam.. on September 28, 2008, 0:53 GMT

    how is botham included in the top three all rounders when it is clearly showing that imran khan had better record then him in both batting and bowling..i think it is just to include one from english side to make them happy... [[ Ananth: This is the most ridiculous comment ever received. Why would I want to please the English. If you think Imran is great, which he is, why cannot others think Botham or Kapil or Hadlee are also great. Surely Imran does not need such support. As a true cricket fan, please lLearn to appreciate greatness from whichever country it comes from. ]]

  • Michael Oehme on September 28, 2008, 0:25 GMT

    Why is it that statisticians of cricket only consider "An All Rounder", to be one that is good at batting and bowling? Why is wicket keeping not included? Every team is made up of a number of bowlers and batsmen. Unfortunately, for specialised wicket keepers, there is only one spot for them in each team. Hence, why don't wicket keepers feature in these lists of Outstanding All Rounders. What did the MOST OUTSTANDING ALL ROUNDER, Adam Gilchrist, have to do, to be recognised by statisticians the cricketing world over as the most outstanding All Rounder the cricketing community has ever seen? Adam won numerous Tests off his own bat and his record as a keeper speaks for itself. He was feared by bowlers the world over because he could rip most bowling attacks apart. He was an exciting player to watch and people the world over paid good money to watch him play. He was the ultimate entertainer. Wake up statisticians, Adam Gilchrist was "The Greatest All Rounder". [[ Ananth: I have reproduced a para from the article below. ""The Australians coined a new definition of an all-rounder, viz., the wicket-keeper. I wanted to do an analysis of the wicket keepers. However I have decided to do a separate piece on that for two reasons. The first is that this article has become quite long, but more importantly, the players who have the toughest job in cricket deserve their own special article. Hence that will be covered in a later article."" This is self-explanatory. ]]

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 0:15 GMT

    An all-time great all-rounder, in my opinion, should be an all-time great in one discipline and of Test standard at least in the other. Only Imran, Sobers and Kallis would pass that test. Actually case of Sobers even is marginal as he was definitely not Test standard as a bowler - 34 bowling average and a wicket on average every 16th over. Imran had yet another dimension - an all-time great skipper to add to his credentials creating a unique 3-in-1 phenomenon which Benaud also referred to when the great man retired. Imran and Sobers, followed by daylight. Kallis has played in an era diluted by minnows like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Botham prosperred when B teams were operating.

  • Sorcerer on September 28, 2008, 0:10 GMT

    Quite a few major flaws in the simplistic yardsticks being used. Perfect example of Garbage-in, garbage out. Yardtick B actually rewards an all-rounder for being "inconsistent"! That is why Botham outscores Imran due to "individual match performances" which highlight in essence that his game was inconsistent as the impact of averages is suppressed. And not incorporating on the negative side matches where the players hardly performed? And how about quality of opposition? How about ignoring matches V minnows? Botham was a rank failure against the best team of his era - against whom Imran was an outstanding success. Botham played intially in the wake of the Packer era when B teams were in the circuit. Actually if you track their records, Botham's takes a downward route and Imran's takes an upward one right from the first time the two came up against each other in the '82 Series in England.

  • Ehtasham on September 27, 2008, 22:46 GMT

    First of all, i feel its unfair to compare players of differen era. Regarding the article, no doubt Kallis is a great allrounder as his stats show, but probably is under rated because he does not have enough match winning performance to his credit. He has been an anchor batsman & a support bowler through out his career. On the other hand, likes of Sobers, Imran & Botham have won enough matches for their respective teams to be remembered as a one of the top allrounders of all time. In my opinion, it had to be Sobers or Imran.

  • Felix eastman on September 27, 2008, 22:43 GMT

    I think Sobers is way above the rest of the players as an allrounder. The figures alone do not show how brilliant he was. He was a superb Batsman,against both pace and spin. He made a hundred runs at sabina Park Jamaica against England in 1968 on a pitch that had cracks so big that you could place your hand into them. No other batsman made runs. At the end of the match, England was 68 for 8. He was a very good bowler especially with the new ball, he also bowled left arm othordox and unothordox spin. He was a brilliand fielder in any position,especially at leg slip. SOBERS WILL ALWAYS BE IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF. He was and still is the only complete cricketer.

  • Kartik on September 27, 2008, 22:39 GMT

    Another observation :

    None of the top all-rounders were from the two greatest teams : WI of 1976-95, and Australia of 1995-2007. Both of these teams spanned periods of 150+ tests, yet no real all-rounder got a career within it, with Carl Hooper at a lowly #21 being the only one.

    Teams that even had TWO allrounders from this list were merely good teams (SA with Kallis/Pollock or Pak with Imran/Wasim) or even average (India with Kapil/Shastri or NZ with Cairns/Vettori).

    That seems odd. Perhaps the best teams are based on specialists, so that roles are more clearly defined, and the workload doesn't pile up too much on one person.

  • Kartik on September 27, 2008, 22:32 GMT

    I think two other parameters should be used :

    1) Bowling strike rate : This has an importance beyond just bowling average, as a good strike rate helps you win matches. Also, unlike with ODIs, Test bowling strike rates have not worsened from the 80s. 2) Catches taken. This is also part of being an all-rounder.

    I think these two should be taken into account.

  • Kartik on September 27, 2008, 22:28 GMT

    I am sad to see my favorite cricketer of all, Kapil Dev, so low. I guess the final 5 years of his career dragged him down.

    Similarly, Kallis being close to Sobers is to be expected, despite the protests. Kallis is the only other cricketer with a batting average 25 runs higher than his bowling average. Furthermore, Kallis has a bowling strike rate of 67 vs. 92 for Sobers, so Kallis is closer to being a 'specialist' bowler than Sobers was.

  • ryanbrew on September 27, 2008, 21:37 GMT

    Great Article, I really appreciate the work you have put in.

    I find it amazing to see how many people question Kallis' right to be in the list. I think this proves your statement that he is one of the most underated cricketers in the world.

    When you look at the stats, Kallis' bowling average is better than Sobers, his batting is a little lower, but that is mainly due to one disastrous tour (Eng 08). I find it interesting that people always talk about Kallis and weaker opposition in the same breath. how quickly they forget that all these others metnioned also faced those weaker oppositions.

    What makes Kallis great is that when he doesnt contribute with bat, he does it with the ball. In his recent tour of England he battled with the bat, but did very well with the ball. Kallis is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever grace the cricket field!

    Thanks for a great article.

  • Longmemory on September 27, 2008, 21:20 GMT

    Very solid empirical analysis. A couple of subjective points that may add something. I agree that captaincy / leadership simply has to figure in this if one takes the word "all-rounder" seriously. Kallis drops out of the top list for me on this count, and Botham suffers badly too on this count. Sobers and Imran are clearly nos 1 and 2 if one factors this in. Kapil, Greig and Benaud will see a little upward mobility if captaincy is in the picture. At any rate, after Sobers and Imran, it really does not matter much who is 3rd and onwards to me. Finally, the fact that Kallis rates so high is proof not that he is under-rated but rather proves those old saws about there being lies, damned lies, and statistics; and about stats being like bikinis - what they reveal is less interesting than what they hide.

  • Engle on September 27, 2008, 20:26 GMT

    I have this theory that the Batting Avg has a wider latitude than the Bowling Avg. What this means is that it is easier for a Batsman to improve his Batting Avg by lets say 5, than for a Bowler to reduce his Bowling Avg by the same amount. What this means is that when you work thru the numbers by considering both averages, you will find that the Batting All-Rounders invariably come ahead of the Bowling All-Rounders.

    See, the only genuine Batsmen in the top 20 of the list are Sobers and Kallis and lo and behold, they're 1 and 2. [[ Ananth: A very perceptive point about which I am aware of but could not, as yet, come out with a satisfactory solution. The Batting average ranges from 20 to 60 while the bowling average (if you ignore the 40+ of Shastri/Hooper) ranges from 22 to 40. Will look into it. ]]

  • carlton davis on September 27, 2008, 20:14 GMT

    I believe if we include qualitative factors such as entertainment value my best would be:Sobers, Imran, Miller and Botham. I see kallis as an accumulator and if I am not mistaken below par batting averages against the best bowling attacks

  • jackson on September 27, 2008, 19:50 GMT

    the battle is on for who is the second best allrounder in history.the top dog is of course is sobers.you see numbers don;t tell the whole story.i think imran khan is the second best.his numbers are excellent but look at his actual performances eight man of the series in a row,won matches on his own with either bat or ball,helped save tests with bat,his captaincy of a no good team(country),throw in that good looks and you have the whole package.he even hand picked some players who would have never seen international cricket.remember when the whole country came to a standstill ane the whole team actually refused to tour us in the west indies in 1988.i think it took zia ul haqq to bring him out of retirement.ooh sorry he was robbeb of that series too.so this man is great both on and off the field.

  • Ram on September 27, 2008, 19:30 GMT

    Hi Ananth, great analysis as always. Two points:

    1. I think this analysis should give some type of weighting to an all rounder's performances in relation to other people in the era. For example, I think Kallis's bowling average of 31 stands up amazingly well given the difficulty in taking wickets nowadays with the flat wickets and batsman protection. Whilst Sir Garry's batting looks good given an average of 57 seems higher than those of relative performers at that time.

    2. I reckon the quartet of all rounders in the 80's may have been helped by the better bowling conditions as well as lack of batsman protection.

    So I reckon if we weight performances in light of the prevailing winds during the era in which the players played then I reckon we may find some surprising result such as Tony Grieg's performances.

    Also is it possible to get a breakdown of the all rounders performances against the great teams during their era e.g. Kallis v Aus of Sobers v Eng, Kapil v WI etc. [[ Ananth: Possibly would be covered in my follow-up post about which I have put in a new piece in the article. ]]

  • Brian Bachan on September 27, 2008, 19:26 GMT

    Or mb Sobers shouldn't be considered as the greatest allrounder but as the "greatest complete cricketer "

  • Brian Bachan on September 27, 2008, 19:24 GMT

    As a West Indian I am biased towards Sobers. In looking at an allround performance he was above average and good in each of these categories -batting, fielding, catching,opening the bowling,bowling swing, bowling slow, captaining. The question is should an allrounder be judged on just one or two of these or all of these.

  • Mark on September 27, 2008, 19:13 GMT

    It's a difficult one to tackle. Ian Botham is a case in point: one poster calls him "over-rated" (I wonder if he would say the same of some other players with inflated reputations, but poor results). Ian Botham's figure suffer from a slow death in cricket. After 1985, when he blitzed the Australians with 31 wickets and 260 runs, he was rarely effective at either discipline. Result, his bowling average which, at one point, was in the low 20s and comparable with the best bowlers of all time, increased progressively to almost 30. Similarly, his batting, never consistent, became more unreliable. At his best though he was perhaps the greatest match winner. Kapil Dev's figures suffer for carrying a weak attack for years on flat Indian pitches, although his batting average undoubtedly benefitted.

    As his figures show, Sobers was a destructive batsman, but how often did he run through a side with the ball as Botham or Imram Khan did? How often has Kallis done it? It's a difficult topic. [[ Ananth: Problems very well appreciated. Probably accounts for the 180 degrees variation in comments. Probably my follow-up post might go some way towards addressing this. I have talked about it in the article. Note the contrasting statements by various people. Sobers is the greatest. correct. Kallis is great. correct. Sobers better batsman than bowler. correct. Kallis' numbers are as good or better than Sobers'. correct. Botham is nothing. wrong. Botham was great. correct. Kapil was the best. debatable. Imran was the greatest. possibly true since he is one of the few "top in both disciplines" player. Anyway many thanks. ]]

  • teak on September 27, 2008, 19:04 GMT

    oops... sorry i ment inverse proportionally... not to sure how youd do that but their wickets should be worth that...

  • teak on September 27, 2008, 18:52 GMT

    nice artical... id like to add maybe, that in point 2. longevity, maybe dividing by the bowlers average and not using an average of 20 for the runs derived... it seems that the bowlers have an unfai advantage otherwise... thanks teak

  • Cellinis on September 27, 2008, 18:52 GMT

    Nice to see you back! A nice analysis as always, however I do wonder about the bowling side. Would it not be better to use the bowling & batting ratings you calculate in your other articles? That should take care of potential problems of too many tail-end wickets. It might be equally interesting to see the match impact (comparing the bowling/batting averages of the teams they played with). For instance a Kapil Dev was basically the entire seam bowling lineup of India, while Kallis comes in 4th or 5th change. I reckon that this is quite important when judging the greatest a/r in the history, even though it may not make much of a difference to overall ratings. (I too think that Sobers was the best; and Bothom & Kallis not far behind, but it will probably alter the middle table a tad). [[ Ananth: Pl see the response to Chris Miller. I get the feeling that what is really required is to take the top 10 or so and do a far more complicated analysis. I will wait for all the comments and then plunge into it. Your point on Kapil vs Kallis in bowling importance is an excellent subjective comment. How I can convert to an objective measure ???, well that is my problem. I will somehow find a way to do. Many thanks. ]]

  • MB on September 27, 2008, 18:39 GMT

    Hi all, it was a good effort by Mr.ananth. I think kallis doesn't deserve to be 2nd the alrounders list bkz he's a batting alrounder rather than a evenly match winner with the ball and bat. He's a match winning batsman and a handy bowler in test matches who has played well over 100 tests to take just 5 more wickets than sobers. Imran,Botham or pollock are likely to be at no. 2 bkz they are evenly effective in both dept. I totally disagree with ppl who think that kapil is best after sobers. He has been one of the best in 80s but can't be called the BEST with the batting ave. ave of 31 against imran khan's 37.69 and bowling ave. over 29 against imran's under 23 no matter how many he played against windies bkz imran has way better record than kapil in both test and ODIs and against all teams and every condition. good job though ananth

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on September 27, 2008, 18:38 GMT

    Very good analysis!!! However, in my opinion you have given far too much credit to longevity factor. If a player has played more matches, he is expected to take more wickets. I would suggest take into consideration strike rate and wickets/match factor into the consideration. Reason being these factors reflect the ability to take wickets per match.

    Alternatively, you can classify all-rounder in to three main categories:

    Batting all-rounder (like Kallis, Sobers, Steve Waugh, Hammonds... more points thru batting))

    Bowling all-rounder (Hadlee, Wasim, Warne, Vass, Kumble... more points thru bowling)

    Genuine all-rounder (Botham, Imram Hadlee, Kapil, Miller........where points are earned equaly thru bating and bowling)

    Another important factor is leadership qualities where the likes of Botham & Kapil miserably failed.

    To me, the best all-ronder are Sobers, Imran & Botham.

    Take strike rate into consideration and redo the analysis, it would be interesting results I guess. [[ Ananth: I have given 15% to the longevity in Batting and Runs and I get the feeling that TOGETHER the 30% seems a bit too high and as AZAX has pointed out is nearly a third, being unfair to the olden day all-rounders. It is only Kallis who does not belong to your top 5. Let me look at it. ]]

  • Ramesh on September 27, 2008, 18:31 GMT

    I think kapil is the second best because his 5000+ runs and 400+ wickets still alive.He taken his most of his wickets in difficult situations and don't forgot his performance in '83 world cup, the century against zimbabwe.

  • Sagar on September 27, 2008, 17:54 GMT

    Great analysis, Ananth!

    However, any such effort will not satisfy everyone. Since this type of ranking is an emotional issue, people will always find some fault or the other. My question is: the weightage you gave to averages (30%) vs totals (15%) seems arbitrary. What made you decide the average should weigh twice the totals?

    Thanks! [[ Ananth: I had earlier given 50% each to Batting and Bowling (and a third of each of these numbers to the longevity measures). Subsequently I added the Individual Test performances, gave the same 10% and reduced this proportionately from the others. There is no great logic other than this. If I try trial and error and decide on a weighting, I could end up selecting a combination where the right people are on top. That does not seem to be correct. On the other hand the reader comments help a lot. ]]

  • Atish on September 27, 2008, 17:49 GMT

    Cricket being such a subjective game,it is notoriously hard to get a fair sense of the comparative greatness of an allrounder from numbers alone.Thank you Ananth for making a great attempt. To accomplish this,one has to ask - 1.How many runs and wickets were earned ? 2.Who were they earned against?(quality of opposition) 3.What was the team context of the performance?(quality of the team in which the player played) 4.How dominating were the performances?(strike rates in batting and bowling) 5.How consistent were the perfomances ? (batting and bowling averages) 6.Over how much time did the performances last? (longevity-this could be the time difference between the first and last A or B level performance.Alternately,multiply total number of runs and wickets with a weighted factor which is larger for players before say,1970?) 7.What were the match contexts of the performances?(match-winning/saving? Though losses shouldn't count against the player).

  • ranjit on September 27, 2008, 17:36 GMT

    i wud also love 2 know who u think is the best all rounder in odis and the best batsman in tests.similarly the best bowler in both odis and tests....

  • ranjit on September 27, 2008, 17:34 GMT

    nice work.although i dont agree with ur findings,i appreciate the effort u have put into this.from my experience of watching and reading and hearing about cricket,i feel sobers is the greatest all rounder ever.imran shud @ 2nd place,closely followed by kapil,botham,hadlee,miller,pollock,kallis and flintoff-not in any order....

  • Jesse James on September 27, 2008, 17:22 GMT

    not lets be serious,the only reason botham is so high on the list is because he is overated,he has all ways been overated something the english tend to do well overate their players,sobers is the best,followed by kallis the worlds most underated player and probably one of the most underated players ever in the game,imran khan so be in third based on his mumbers not botham's match wining performances cause it is easy to identify who was better,pollock should be fourth because like kallis he is another greatly underated player,he is south africa's version to mcgrath and was a far better player than mcgrath,botham could be a possible fifth

  • MSyed on September 27, 2008, 17:11 GMT

    Excellent Analysis. It would have been perfect if you included fielding in the analysis.

  • Pritam on September 27, 2008, 17:06 GMT

    Hi Ananth, What a wonderful analysis. It's been great to know about cricket's dying species (Kallis and freddie are last flagbearers; will watson fit the bill, we need to see). Anyways, I believe Vinoo Mankad has been most under-rated indian cricketer. Your column has done justice to him as he featured nearly all of allrouder lists and to put it in a proper persepective we just have to analyze his performances considering the poor indian track record of that era. Just Imagine the world will go gaga if mashrafe mortaza or ashraful come up with that record....for india was bangladesh of 50's. Keep Rocking

  • legspin on September 27, 2008, 15:51 GMT

    I agree with the list to the extent that Sobers is numero uno.For me the second best is Kapil Devils ..he by far has the best record against the best cricket side of all time i.e WI be it be batting as well as bowling.He is the best batsman when you just compare allrounders(minus Sobers) becuase of the manner in which he attacked the greatest WI fast bowlers and scored against them..

  • Chris Miller on September 27, 2008, 14:57 GMT

    When you do the version of this for wicket keepers please put more emphasis on keeping than batting as it is a keepers primary job and this modern fad started by Gilchrist is taking away some of the greatest sights in cricket of a great keeper taking some superb catches as teams especially England are picking only at best mediocre keepers to play because of their batting instead of the top keeper in the country just look how Chris Read was treated in the 2006 ashes for an at best mediocre batsman as well as a poor keeper in Geraint Jones. [[ Ananth: Chris, I was going to put more emphasis on keeping than batting echoinng your views. Hwoever batting has become a very important aspect of the wk position. I think we have gone past the days of the "best keeper at all costs" stage. I agree with you that Chris Read was treating abominally. The irony was that Chris, on his day, was as good as a batsman as Jones/Mustard/Ambrose/Prior. That makes the decision all the more galling. ]]

  • Chris Miller on September 27, 2008, 14:51 GMT

    I have to say this is a very good analysis of all rounders but i have to say that the strike rate perhaps should have been included and so what if botham was a flat track bully he won more matches for england than almost any other player and if you look at the stats he is second only to sobers in the world all time list but even if strike rate was included I believe the greatest all rounder to be Sir Gary Sobers as he could to everything a decent bowler of both spin types a great bowler of pace and one of the greatest batsmen of all time all of this contrives to make him the greatest all rounder and to all those who say kallis is not a great allrounder look at how useful he has been to his country hardly more than one bad series bar his first and a very useful bowler to his team. [[ Ananth: To some extent the strike rate would have separated the true all-rounders from the 60-40 and 70-30 type of all-rounders. My problem was that I already had a small group and it would have become smaller. Probably I should take the bull by the horn and analyze ONLY the true 10 all-rounders. Maybe at a later date. Thanks for the suggestion. ]]

  • Kalyan on September 27, 2008, 14:32 GMT

    Very good effort, well done. But a good allrounder should be able to hold his place in the team by virtue of either of his skills taken alone. By this yardstick, does Kallis qualify? Or Kapil? Pollock? Akram?

    Sobers certainly is the greatest, and should be deservedly followed by Botham. Among the current crop, only Flintoff comes to mind. What do you say?

  • Sir Francis on September 27, 2008, 14:00 GMT

    Once again the myth of Ian Botham rears it's head. The greatest flat track bully of all time. I used Cricinfo's very useful stats engine to compare him with his contemporaries (Imran, Kapil & Hadlee) vs the West Indies team of their era. He was a distant, mediocre 4th. Interestingly, Kapil was the best (and he played 25 tests against the Windies) [[ Ananth: You are being unfair to a great match-winner. However you are entitled to have your views and I don't consider flat-track-bully that derogatory a term. After all most batsmen, when they see a flat track, want to bully the poor bowlers. ]]

  • SanjayN on September 27, 2008, 13:58 GMT

    When analyzing all-rounders, the ability to perform with the bat and ball in the SAME match must be given a precedence. If you look closely at Imran's career, you will find that he was primarily a fast bowler who, during all of the 70s, batted very low in the batting order. It was when he suffered a stress fracture (shins?) that rendered him incapable of bowling at all, we saw him bat as high as #4. This proved his immense talent at both skills but he was unable to execute them both at the same time for the majority of his career. It's a similar story with Hadlee altho to a lesser degree as he was never as talented with the bat as Imran. Regards Kallis, he has always been suspected of holding back in both disciplines, I'm sure he's delighted at seeing himself so high in the list. Botham and Kapil were the two, post-war, all-rounders in the true sense of the word: opening bowlers who batted high enough to affect the outcome of the match with either bat or ball. Sobers, tho, is the King.

  • Sarvesh Kumar Singh on September 27, 2008, 13:37 GMT

    By seeing sobers at the top,My mind went back to Ian Chappell's comments about Sobers' innings of 254 against aus for Rest of World in 1971 at melbourne. He compared difference between sobers & the next all rounder as the gap between Bradman & next guy in batting averages. That speaks volume for it self.That's a hell of alot.I want your feed back on this ananth..Cheers good job done. [[ Ananth: Sarvesh, If Ian had watched Botham at Bombay in 1980 or Headingley in 1981 or Imran at Faisalabad in 1983 or Davidson at Brisbane in 1961, he would have made similar statements about these great all-rounders. ]]

  • Subhashish Bhattachaya on September 27, 2008, 13:23 GMT

    This does not factor the fielding aspect. Sobers, Botham, Kapil Dev were great fielders too.

  • Volney Golding on September 27, 2008, 13:20 GMT

    My idea of a real all-rounder is none other than Gary Sobers he is also my cricketer par excellence I've seen him play in England in the 60's. What a joy it was to see him play the game.

  • vignesh on September 27, 2008, 13:12 GMT

    when you consider one day cricket the the best allrounder of all times goes to none other than sanath jayasuriya. with more than 300 wickets and more than 12000 runs he is simply the best of all times

  • cb fry on September 27, 2008, 12:56 GMT

    why not take leadership into account too? imran averaged 50 (when that average actually meant something) with the bat and 20 with the ball as captain of pakistan. and he did that impossible task in cricket - he united the pakistan cricket and made them world beaters.

  • fazal mahmood on September 27, 2008, 12:47 GMT

    I don't think this list is very good. Botham is ahead of Imran even though Imran had a higher batting average and a lower bowling average and was injured in his prime. dont. make. sense. [[ Ananth: I agree with you that Imran is way ahead on batting and Bowling averages. However you will see that I have taken individual match performances as a criteria and it is in this that Botham with 7+4 performances scores over Imran who has 3+2. Anyhow why complain about a placement which places two of the graetest all-rounders the worls has known in positions 3 & 4 and less than a point apart. ]]

  • Hariharan Sriram on September 27, 2008, 12:27 GMT

    It Figures has come out with a list which is likely to be much less controversial than the earlier ones i guess. Anyways, a nice job.

    @kooldude

    While Kallis has taken 100 odd catches I do not think he can claim one up on Sobers on that one. Do not forget that Sobers is regarded as an excellent catcher hinself.

    With regards to the longevity v performance I do not see why there are any issues with the way Ananth has handled it. Also do not forget that in the earlier decades the players used to turn up for county cricket much more regularly and its not as though they had nothing else apart from Test Cricket.

    Ananth, would love to see you go lot more in depth with regard to match performances. For instance Sachin in the 2001 Kolkatta Test and one more Test in Pakistan in 2004 (don't remember which one) took very few wickets but that pretty much turned the match around.

  • Kersi Meher-Homji on September 27, 2008, 12:27 GMT

    Thought-provoking, yes. But has Ananth read my recently released book Cricket's Great All-rounders released in Australia this August? It has everything you wanted to know about all-rounders; at Test and ODi levels. Not forgotten are the wicket-keeper batting all-rounders. It is a historical book starting from Giffen of Australia in 1891 to Flintoff of England in 2008. Of course there are Sobers, Miller, Mankad, Kapil, Benaud, Botham, Hadlee, Imran and 40 others; their stas, anecdotes and assessments. Foreword is by the Aussie all-rounder Alan Davidson. A hard cover book it has 312 glossy pages and over 80 pics, most of them in colour. Published by New Holland in Australia, UK, New Zealand and South Africa. [[ Ananth: Kersi, No I have not read your book which should be an outstanding one. Yours is a comprehensive book with anecdotes, stories, pictures et al while mine is a single numbers-based article. I would also like to know from you on the methodology. Thanks. ]]

  • AJAX on September 27, 2008, 12:17 GMT

    In other words you are saying that one true measure of who is a better allrounder is how long he has played and not how well he has played in that time. This is wrong on so many levels its not even funny. "It must be remembered that that carries only 30% weighting." Only 30%? One third of the determining criteria is quite significant you know! You do know that by providing this 30% factor you have robbed players from bygone eras of ever standing a chance in equal comparison to modern day players, and only the truly exceptional can compete with (and in Sober's case actually outdo) mediocre allrounders of today? Take Miller, he has lost 10.2 pts in batting and outrageously 2.1 pts in bowling, even though he though he took 70 fewer wickets in 68 fewer tests!!! Is it his fault he played in the 40s and 50s? If you must use longevity CORRECT it for the players from bygone eras. How can you consider a factor like longevity in its current form when it discriminates as badly as that? [[ Ananth: I appreciate the time you have put in to give your views. You do not make loose statements. However pl remember that your views are, to me, as valuable as Kooldude's. We have our perceptions of great players. If I do an analysis of Test Batsmen and Bradman is first (goes without saying) ahead of next one, say L/T/R, by 20%. Is it too much, too little or just about right. Different people will have different views and I have to respect and learn from all. I agree that "only 30%" is probably incorrect. That is nearly a third. ]]

  • Rod on September 27, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    In a weak team it is easier to have standout performances. Kallis has played in a strong team for his whole career. Note the absence of Aussies at the top end. Wickets and runs are shared out more evenly.

  • Aravind on September 27, 2008, 12:03 GMT

    I think the quality of opposition should also be considered while interpreting the sheer numbers. Botham did extremely badly against the best team of his era (the WI) To me Sobers (in the past) and Imran (in the modern times!) were the best!

  • Leigh on September 27, 2008, 11:56 GMT

    Nice analysis. The only thing i would like to see is bowling strike rate included in some way. This might give a better view of a bowlers inpact in games.

    I always felt for alot of his career Sobers was used as a holding bowler, whilst others on the list were used as strike bowlers, and thus more importane to there team. Sobers strike rate of 91 holds this view i believe.

  • kooldude on September 27, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    Excellent article with in-depth analysis and statistics. I more or less agree with the top 5 but in my opinion Kallis needs to be number 1 cause his performances have been mercurial for such a consistent period of time, whereas Sobers wasnt as consistent as the batting and bowling averages indicate. He came up with a stunning performance every now and then but not on a consistent basis as Kallis. Also we need to take into account Kallis contribution as a fielder and the 100+ catches he has taken. Also lets not forget Kallis's ODI performances which are just as impressive as his test figures. Imran Khan deserves his no 3 spot. Pollock was another extraordinary performer with his deadly accuracy and powerful striking and again his ODI performances were just amazing to see him bowling to the likes of Gilchrist, Lara, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Jayasuriya, etc and i think your mistaken wen u said Kallis and Pollock are under-rated.They were feared and respected cricketers always.Simply World Class [[ Ananth: Amazing to read your views. Cannot fault your line of thinking. Please read Ajax's views. He finds fault with me for keeping Sobers and Kallis so close together. The gap should be wider, according to him. I respect both your views since both of you have a clear understanding of cricket. 180 degrees diversity of views. I personally feels that Kallis is under-rated but cannot disagree with Sobers at the top, even by a wider margin. ]]

  • arslan on September 27, 2008, 11:11 GMT

    i think this is a very comprehensive article for the analysis of all-rounders...it points out why kallis is under-rated even though his stats are so good...its because of the few A- and B- grade performances...botham is remembered so much more bcz of his many match-winning performances...

  • Anantha Raman on September 27, 2008, 10:52 GMT

    What a great analysis? I am really interested in such kind os statistical data and analysis.Congrats Ananth Narayanan. Keep it up!

  • AJAX on September 27, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    In exactly 40 additional tests, Kallis has scored only 1729 additional runs (or 43.225 per test -NOT innings- not very high for someone who bats at number 3) and taken only 5 additional wickets. He has also bowled 5610 balls fewer, thats 935 fewer overs. So it would not be inaccurate to say Sober's had a greater role both as a batsman and bowler and shouldered a significantly greater responsibility as a bowler. But rather than reward Sobers for this, you instead reward Kallis for longevity. In other words the fact that Kallis has played more matches rewards him more than the fact that over the course of his career he has played less of a role than Sobers did. The individual match performances does not solve this. To those who have seen both there can be no doubt that Kallis lies a distant second, not the 1.41 index points apart you have arrived that, and I suspect that has to do with what I have noted above as well as Sober's flair with bat, ball and his brilliant fielding. [[ Ananth: Even if I have Sobers at the top, followed by Kallis I will be found fault with based on the difference. If my analysis had showed Sobers 10 points ahead of Kallis, "Why not 20 !!!". There has been enough discussion on Longeviity vs Performance. You cannot ignore one over the other. If you question the weightings, do so. However there is no way one can ignore the longevity factor. It must be remembered that that carries only 30% weighting. ]]

  • umar khan on September 27, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    I think one very important parameter could be selection purely on the basis of batting or bowling ability, example Kallis might not find a position in a quality bowling attack .... In my opinion only Botham/Imran/Sobers might qualify in a team on the basis of any single trait, batting or bowling.

  • Amit Kumar on September 27, 2008, 10:33 GMT

    Just wanted to point out that your composite score table as well as your comments show Keith Miller standing below Kapil Dev despite higher overall ARIdx score (54.05 against 53.98). Is this an error or have I missed something ? Kindly clarify. [[ Ananth: Will look into this. Minor sorting problem. Has been corrected. Thanks for pointing this. ]]

  • RM on September 27, 2008, 10:32 GMT

    [i]I understand that match conditions, pitch conditions, quality of opposition, match result et al are relevant factors. However that will complicate the issue and we are only looking at all-round performances here.[/i]

    I guess then you should at least have got your title right by calling it something like "the world's best all-rounder in geeky digits" or something!

    Any sensible person should be able to comprehend that the difference between Sobers and the next best allrounder (Imran Khan or Miller or Botham or Monty Noble or Faulkner or whoever it might be) is almost as much as the difference between Bradman and the second best batsman (Headley or Hammond or Hobbs or Sutcliffe or Hutton or Pollock or Sobers or Barrington or Tendulkar or whoever it might be)!!

    No disrespect to your efforts, but it's become bit of a joke now!! Why don't you just stick with one generation at a time when you aren't ready to take up the challenge of complexity??

  • Prem Anand on September 27, 2008, 10:22 GMT

    Your analysis is not right. These are mere numbers. From a Puritan's view, if you look at match situataions and where it was played, Kapil tops the list barring Sobers. Sobers is unquestionably good in all departments of the game. Now by virtue of playing more tests within a short time and getting chance to bowl often , if he takes two wickets per match he crosses 200 by playing 100 + matches.

    But Kapil, tell me, he has bowled in all unfriendly conditions and supremely fit for 15+ years bowling and batting equally ( Botham certainly matches here, not Kallis who is a Batsman allrounder). Kapil's 400+ wickets and 4000 + runs(5000) an allrounder's quadruple is still unmatched.

  • Marcus on September 27, 2008, 9:36 GMT

    Very interesting as always. I think the 20.00+ minimum batting average is a good measure, but I think a better measure for the bowlers is for them to have bowled at least 20 overs a Test. I feel that this separates genuine allrounders from occasional bowlers who might bowl on average a mere handful of overs an innings (eg. Steve Waugh). But 20 per Test, or 10 per innings, strikes me as a good significant bowling work-load to qualify such players as allrounders.

    I feel that Keith Miller's ranking of 8/9 is a little low- your description of him as "mercurial" suggests an inconsistent performer, but he batted mainly at no. 5 with an average of over 40 in that position. This is much better than Ian Botham's 29 at no. 6, and I believe that he scored 50 more consistently than Imran Khan too. I'd certainly have him in the top 5 allrounders. Still, 9 out of 38 isn't so bad!

  • madhusudan on September 27, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    good anaylis but cricketers/sportsmen are not judged on numbers in my veiw . to me sobers is easily the best all rounder ever followed by imran khan ( i have taken his captaincy into consideration ). tough call between botham and keith miller5 for 3rd spot but i would give this to keith as both are equaally good batsman and keith is a better bowler . 4th spot should be of ian botham . many might not agree to this my freddie should be at no. 5 in my veiw , he ia far better bowler than his average in early 30's in test shows , that ll surely come down . to conclude this ..ask anyone who ir more dangerous sobers/kallis or freddie/kallis . If you prepare one list of all rounders vs quality teams , i m sure kallis won't be in top 5

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  • madhusudan on September 27, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    good anaylis but cricketers/sportsmen are not judged on numbers in my veiw . to me sobers is easily the best all rounder ever followed by imran khan ( i have taken his captaincy into consideration ). tough call between botham and keith miller5 for 3rd spot but i would give this to keith as both are equaally good batsman and keith is a better bowler . 4th spot should be of ian botham . many might not agree to this my freddie should be at no. 5 in my veiw , he ia far better bowler than his average in early 30's in test shows , that ll surely come down . to conclude this ..ask anyone who ir more dangerous sobers/kallis or freddie/kallis . If you prepare one list of all rounders vs quality teams , i m sure kallis won't be in top 5

  • Marcus on September 27, 2008, 9:36 GMT

    Very interesting as always. I think the 20.00+ minimum batting average is a good measure, but I think a better measure for the bowlers is for them to have bowled at least 20 overs a Test. I feel that this separates genuine allrounders from occasional bowlers who might bowl on average a mere handful of overs an innings (eg. Steve Waugh). But 20 per Test, or 10 per innings, strikes me as a good significant bowling work-load to qualify such players as allrounders.

    I feel that Keith Miller's ranking of 8/9 is a little low- your description of him as "mercurial" suggests an inconsistent performer, but he batted mainly at no. 5 with an average of over 40 in that position. This is much better than Ian Botham's 29 at no. 6, and I believe that he scored 50 more consistently than Imran Khan too. I'd certainly have him in the top 5 allrounders. Still, 9 out of 38 isn't so bad!

  • Prem Anand on September 27, 2008, 10:22 GMT

    Your analysis is not right. These are mere numbers. From a Puritan's view, if you look at match situataions and where it was played, Kapil tops the list barring Sobers. Sobers is unquestionably good in all departments of the game. Now by virtue of playing more tests within a short time and getting chance to bowl often , if he takes two wickets per match he crosses 200 by playing 100 + matches.

    But Kapil, tell me, he has bowled in all unfriendly conditions and supremely fit for 15+ years bowling and batting equally ( Botham certainly matches here, not Kallis who is a Batsman allrounder). Kapil's 400+ wickets and 4000 + runs(5000) an allrounder's quadruple is still unmatched.

  • RM on September 27, 2008, 10:32 GMT

    [i]I understand that match conditions, pitch conditions, quality of opposition, match result et al are relevant factors. However that will complicate the issue and we are only looking at all-round performances here.[/i]

    I guess then you should at least have got your title right by calling it something like "the world's best all-rounder in geeky digits" or something!

    Any sensible person should be able to comprehend that the difference between Sobers and the next best allrounder (Imran Khan or Miller or Botham or Monty Noble or Faulkner or whoever it might be) is almost as much as the difference between Bradman and the second best batsman (Headley or Hammond or Hobbs or Sutcliffe or Hutton or Pollock or Sobers or Barrington or Tendulkar or whoever it might be)!!

    No disrespect to your efforts, but it's become bit of a joke now!! Why don't you just stick with one generation at a time when you aren't ready to take up the challenge of complexity??

  • Amit Kumar on September 27, 2008, 10:33 GMT

    Just wanted to point out that your composite score table as well as your comments show Keith Miller standing below Kapil Dev despite higher overall ARIdx score (54.05 against 53.98). Is this an error or have I missed something ? Kindly clarify. [[ Ananth: Will look into this. Minor sorting problem. Has been corrected. Thanks for pointing this. ]]

  • umar khan on September 27, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    I think one very important parameter could be selection purely on the basis of batting or bowling ability, example Kallis might not find a position in a quality bowling attack .... In my opinion only Botham/Imran/Sobers might qualify in a team on the basis of any single trait, batting or bowling.

  • AJAX on September 27, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    In exactly 40 additional tests, Kallis has scored only 1729 additional runs (or 43.225 per test -NOT innings- not very high for someone who bats at number 3) and taken only 5 additional wickets. He has also bowled 5610 balls fewer, thats 935 fewer overs. So it would not be inaccurate to say Sober's had a greater role both as a batsman and bowler and shouldered a significantly greater responsibility as a bowler. But rather than reward Sobers for this, you instead reward Kallis for longevity. In other words the fact that Kallis has played more matches rewards him more than the fact that over the course of his career he has played less of a role than Sobers did. The individual match performances does not solve this. To those who have seen both there can be no doubt that Kallis lies a distant second, not the 1.41 index points apart you have arrived that, and I suspect that has to do with what I have noted above as well as Sober's flair with bat, ball and his brilliant fielding. [[ Ananth: Even if I have Sobers at the top, followed by Kallis I will be found fault with based on the difference. If my analysis had showed Sobers 10 points ahead of Kallis, "Why not 20 !!!". There has been enough discussion on Longeviity vs Performance. You cannot ignore one over the other. If you question the weightings, do so. However there is no way one can ignore the longevity factor. It must be remembered that that carries only 30% weighting. ]]

  • Anantha Raman on September 27, 2008, 10:52 GMT

    What a great analysis? I am really interested in such kind os statistical data and analysis.Congrats Ananth Narayanan. Keep it up!

  • arslan on September 27, 2008, 11:11 GMT

    i think this is a very comprehensive article for the analysis of all-rounders...it points out why kallis is under-rated even though his stats are so good...its because of the few A- and B- grade performances...botham is remembered so much more bcz of his many match-winning performances...

  • kooldude on September 27, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    Excellent article with in-depth analysis and statistics. I more or less agree with the top 5 but in my opinion Kallis needs to be number 1 cause his performances have been mercurial for such a consistent period of time, whereas Sobers wasnt as consistent as the batting and bowling averages indicate. He came up with a stunning performance every now and then but not on a consistent basis as Kallis. Also we need to take into account Kallis contribution as a fielder and the 100+ catches he has taken. Also lets not forget Kallis's ODI performances which are just as impressive as his test figures. Imran Khan deserves his no 3 spot. Pollock was another extraordinary performer with his deadly accuracy and powerful striking and again his ODI performances were just amazing to see him bowling to the likes of Gilchrist, Lara, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Jayasuriya, etc and i think your mistaken wen u said Kallis and Pollock are under-rated.They were feared and respected cricketers always.Simply World Class [[ Ananth: Amazing to read your views. Cannot fault your line of thinking. Please read Ajax's views. He finds fault with me for keeping Sobers and Kallis so close together. The gap should be wider, according to him. I respect both your views since both of you have a clear understanding of cricket. 180 degrees diversity of views. I personally feels that Kallis is under-rated but cannot disagree with Sobers at the top, even by a wider margin. ]]