Allrounders October 3, 2008

The best Test all-rounders: a follow-up

The previous post on allrounders received a high number of quality responses
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The main article received a high number of quality responses. A number of useful suggestions were provided and the exchanges were conducted without the acrimony that had been the feature of earlier exchanges. I thank the readers for this trend and hope that this will be continued in future.

The final table has been slightly modified based on tweaks in the Performance parameter as suggested by Hamish and Kartik. Details at the end.

I had mentioned that I would do an in-depth article on selected all-rounders incorporating more measures, as suggested by readers. Some of the relevant points mentioned by readers are summarised below.

  1. Take care of an all-rounder being the first/second bowler (e-g., Imran/Hadlee) vs fourth/fifth bowler (e-g., Sobers/Kallis).
  2. Take care of quality of wickets captured.
  3. Take care of quality of bowling faced by the all-rounder in batting.
  4. Equalise Batting and Bowling to a greater extent.
  5. Take into account Bowling strike rates.
  6. Reduce the weight for longevity measures.
  7. Take into account Fielding data.
  8. Take into account Captaincy data.

I have considered all these requests and incorporated whatever is possible and quantifiable. The response to these points are given below in the same order.

  1. This has been taken care of in a round-about manner. I have determined the % of Balls bowled by the bowler to the Balls bowled by the team. This will clearly give an idea of the bowling importance of the bowler. In addition the % of wickets captured by the bowler to that captured by the team is also deternined to do a more informed determination of the bowler status.
  2. Has been done by assigning the dismissed batsman's batting average to each wicket captured by the player. Capturing the wicket of Tendulkar will add 54.23 to the kitty while dismissing Zaheer Khan will add only 11.77 to the sum. Fair enough.
  3. Has been done by assigning an opposite team's actual weighted bowling strength, based on balls bowled and bowling average, to each run scored by the player. Take three centuries scored by Kallis. The 115 against Zimbabwe will be weighted with a value of 46.47, the 105 against Pakistan will be weighted with a value of 35.40 and the 139 against Bangladesh will be weighted with 59.98. Cannot do more.
  4. Has been done in different ways.
  5. Has been done. The longevity weightings have been halved.
  6. Not done since the Bowling Strike rate is a constituent part of the Bowling Average. I am aware that separating the Bowling Accuracy and Bowling Strike Rate and doing a differential weighting of the two measures will change the dynamics of the calculations. However I see no reason for doing the same separately since the Bowling Average is a universally accepted figure encompassing both. If Sobers has higher bowling strike rate, he makes up for it partly with his accuracy and this is already reflected in his relatively high Bowling Average. Doing the Strike Rate in addition will penalize players doubly.
  7. Not done since an all-rounder analysis should take only Batting and Bowling. Fielding does not become part of a player's all-round abilities. If a fielder fields at first slip, he would get a number of catches. If he fields at long-on, he will get very few catches.
  8. Not done because a player's captaincy ability does not add to his all-round abilities. It is an opportunity given to him which he does very well (as Imran did) or poorly (as Botham did). However what about Hadlee who never captained New Zealand. It was not because he did not have captaincy skills, rather it was because NZ board did not want to overload him. He cannot be penalised for this. Similar situation exists with Kallis/Miller et al.
The criteria for selecting the elite group of all-rounders is the following.
  • 2500+ runs.
  • 25.00+ Batting average.
  • 100+ wickets.
  • Bowling average less than 40.
13 players qualify. Out of these, Vettori is excluded since, surprisingly, his bowling average is higher than his batting average and that is not the sign of a world class all-rounder. Hadlee also has a sub-30 batting average but he makes up with an outstanding bowling average. The following 12 all-rounders qualify.
No Player          Runs   Avge    Wkts   Avge

1.Sobers G.St.A 8032 57.78 235 34.04 2.Kallis J.H 9761 55.46 240 31.23 3.Imran Khan 3807 37.69 362 22.81 4.Miller K.R 2958 36.97 170 22.98 5.Botham I.T 5200 33.55 383 28.40 6.Pollock S.M 3781 32.32 421 23.12 7.Hadlee R.J 3124 27.17 431 22.30 8.Kapil Dev N 5248 31.05 434 29.65 9.Cairns C.L 3320 33.54 218 29.40 10.Flintoff A 3494 32.35 206 32.21 11.Goddard T.L 2516 34.47 123 26.23 12.Greig A.W 3599 40.44 141 32.21

All these players have the figures to qualify as all-rounders. They could all bat at no.7 and above and would feature in all their teams as one of the top 5 bowlers.

However since this list is primarily a post-WW2 list, a separate analysis is done for all the all-rounders who have played their games before 1948. This list is shown at the end.

The following parameters have been used with the weightings allotted.

1. BAT - Runs Scored (7.5 points):

The weighting has been reduced by 50% to 7.5 points. One point per 1500 runs and limited to 7.5 points.

2. BAT - Batting Average (10 points):

The range is from Sobers (57.78) to Hadlee (27.17). The point allocation ranges from 0.0 for Batting Average of 25.00 to 10.00 for Batting Average of 60.00.

3. BAT - Bowling Quality faced (10 points):

The range is from Botham (34.38), a surprise indeed, to Miller (43.63), indicating the average quality of bowlers during 40s-50s. Botham's number puts paid to the wrong presumption that he was a flat-track-bully and did not do well against good quality bowling.

The point allocation ranges from 0.0 for Bowling quality value of 50.00 to 10.00 for Bowling quality value of 30.0.

4. BAT - % of Team Runs scored (5 points):

The range is from Sobers (15.78%) to Pollock (7.68%), both understandable. The point allocation ranges from 0.0 for TRS % of 0.00 to 5.00 for TRS % of 16.0.

5. BOW - Wickets captured (7.5 points):

The weighting has been reduced by 50% to 7.5 points. One point per 60 wickets and limited to 7.5 points.

6. BOW - Bowling Average (10 points):

The range is from Hadlee (22.30) to, not surprisingly, Sobers (34.04). To a great extent Sobers has made up his poor strike rate with his accuracy. The point allocation ranges from 0.0 for Bowling Average of 40.00 to 10.00 for Bowling Average of 20.00.

7. BOW - Wickets Quality (5 points):

I have always felt that Flintoff consistently captiured top order wickets. This is more than borne by these numbers. The range is from Flintoff (34.85) to Cairns (29.29). Incidentally 84 of Flintoff's 206 wickets (over 40%) are of batsmen with Batting Averages exceeding 40.0.

The point allocation is from 0.0 for Wkt quality of 25.0 to 5.0 for Wkt quality of 35.0.

8. BOW - % of Team Balls (5 points):

As stated already this is a clear indication of the player's importance to the bowling attack. Kallis is clearly the lowest with a % of Team Balls bowled value of 15.22, less than a sixth, indicating that he was, at best, South Africa's fifth bowler. On the other hand, Imran Khan bowled 27.27% of his team balls making him to be the top bowler.

The range is from 0.0 for Team Balls % of 10.0 to 5.0 for Team Balls % of 30.0.

9. BOW - % of Team Wickets (5 points):

This is another indicator of the all-rounder's place in the bowling attack. The previous one indicates the effort put in. This indicates the results. Kallis is clearly the lowest with a % of Team wickets captured value of 16.59, again less than a sixth, indicating that he was, at best, South Africa's fifth bowler. On the other hand, Imran Khan has captured 37.07% of his team wickets making him to be the top bowler. It should be noted that the team wickets are accumulated only in matches where the all-rounder bowled. This is to take care of the 7 matches in which Imran played as a pure batsmen.

The range is from 0.0 for Team wickets % of 10.0 to 5.0 for Team wickets % of 40.0.

10. ARF - All Round performances in Tests (10 points):

This is a great measure of the individual match performances. I have changed the criteria to 100+ runs & 4+ wickets for P1 performances and 75+ runs & 3+ wickets for P2 performances. These are AND conditions and not OR conditions. Since completing the previous article I have realised that this is a true measure of the all-rounder's contributions in individual Test matches since he contributes heavily to the team performance by excelling in both batting and bowling.

0.5 points are alloted for each P1 performance and 0.25 points for each P2 performance.

Sobers is the undisputed leader in this category. His performances are listed below. This table will outline his greatness. In 93 Tests he has excelled with P1 level all-round performances in 11. He has done P1/P2 level performances in 24 Tests (more than 25%).

Sobers G.St.A
P1 1960 0490 Eng Win (3+1) 4 wkts & 145 runs (145+  0)
P1 1960 0491 Eng Win (3+2) 5 wkts & 141 runs ( 92+ 49)
P1 1962 0526 Ind Win (4+1) 5 wkts & 153 runs (153+  0)
P1 1962 0529 Win Ind (0+5) 5 wkts & 154 runs (104+ 50)
P1 1966 0608 Win Eng (5+3) 8 wkts & 174 runs (174+  0)
P1 1966 0610 Ind Win (3+2) 5 wkts & 103 runs ( 50+ 53)
P1 1968 0629 Eng Win (1+3) 4 wkts & 113 runs (  0+113)
P1 1968 0636 Win Eng (3+3) 6 wkts & 247 runs (152+ 95)
P1 1969 0646 Aus Win (2+3) 5 wkts & 126 runs ( 13+113)
P1 1971 0685 Win Ind (2+2) 4 wkts & 187 runs (178+  9)
P1 1972 0695 Win Nzl (4+0) 4 wkts & 177 runs ( 35+142)

P2 1958 0448 Win Pak (1+2) 3 wkts & 132 runs ( 52+ 80) P2 1961 0506 Win Aus (5+0) 5 wkts & 85 runs ( 64+ 21) P2 1963 0546 Win Eng (0+3) 3 wkts & 154 runs (102+ 52) P2 1965 0584 Win Aus (3+0) 3 wkts & 93 runs ( 69+ 24) P2 1965 0588 Win Aus (2+2) 4 wkts & 87 runs ( 45+ 42) P2 1966 0605 Win Eng (0+3) 3 wkts & 161 runs (161+ 0) P2 1966 0607 Win Eng (4+1) 5 wkts & 97 runs ( 3+ 94) P2 1966 0609 Win Eng (3+0) 3 wkts & 81 runs ( 81+ 0) P2 1968 0643 Win Aus (4+0) 4 wkts & 86 runs ( 19+ 67) P2 1969 0654 Win Eng (2+1) 3 wkts & 79 runs ( 29+ 50) P2 1971 0684 Win Ind (3+0) 3 wkts & 112 runs ( 4+108) P2 1971 0686 Ind Win (1+2) 3 wkts & 132 runs (132+ 0) P2 1973 0726 Win Eng (3+0) 3 wkts & 95 runs ( 21+ 74)

To view all players' performances click here.

11. ARF - Average Runs scored / Wickets captured per Test (5 points):

This rounds off the individual Test all-round performances. I total the Runs and 25 times the Wickets and divide the sum by the number of Tests played. This is a clear parameter of consistency and all-round delivery. This is slightly biased in favour of the bowling since an average of 100 runs per Test has been achieved only by one batsman while 4 wickets per Test by 48 bowlers.

The range is from Hadlee (161.6) to Greig (122.8).

The point allocation is from 0.0 for ARF value of 100 to 5.0 for ARF value of 160.0 and above.

Based on these calculations the top all-rounder list is given below.

No Player           Bat     Bow     A/R    Total

1.Sobers G.St.A 26.47 14.64 12.74 53.86 2.Botham I.T 17.32 20.91 9.12 47.34 3.Imran Khan 15.11 25.90 5.72 46.73 4.Hadlee R.J 12.54 26.85 7.22 46.61 5.Kallis J.H 25.28 13.97 7.27 46.52 6.Pollock S.M 13.57 24.39 4.62 42.58 7.Cairns C.L 15.52 16.36 7.84 39.73 8.Kapil Dev N 13.80 21.12 4.10 39.01 9.Miller K.R 12.07 19.28 6.00 37.35 10.Goddard T.L 14.65 17.30 4.68 36.64 11.Flintoff A 14.52 16.86 4.89 36.27 12.Greig A.W 18.69 12.40 5.09 36.17

As expected Sobers is comfortably on top, this time with a cushion of nearly 14%. He is the undisputed leader in Batting and All-round performances and has acceptable Bowling values. What has really tilted the table in his favour is his consistent delivery of all-round performances. No one else has matched him.

Botham comes next and is just ahead of Imran Khan. He has acceptable fogures in all three areas and this has helped him move to the second place.

Then three greats occupy the next three positions and these are closely bunched. This trio is led by Imran Khan and followed by Hadlee and Kallis. They are separated by fractions of a point and should really considered as a group. Imran Khan and Hadlee excel in Bowling and have reasonable Batting figures. Kallis has an excellent batting figure and just about reaches the Bowling mark.

My suggestion to the readers is not to split hairs among these three. A slight change in parameters will move them up or down. I would say that let us take Imran as the first among these three equals. For that matter I would suggest that we take Botham as the first among the four equals since the four all-rounders are within a single % point of each other.

Then come Pollock, Cairns and Kapil Dev. Those who query Cairns' higher position than Kapil must understand that Cairns has better Batting and Bowling average figures than Kapil Dev. If people refer to Kapil's taking wickets on the Indian soil, one can point out Cairns' scoring runs on those difficult New Zealand pitches. Cairns is again an under-rated all-rounder.

Sobers is the best batsmen, followed by Kallis. Hadlee is the best bowler, closely follwed by Imran Khan. Sobers is the comfortable leader in the Test match performance area, followed by Botham.

To view the parameter values and the calculated Index values for these 12 all-rounders click here.

A look at the pre-World War all-rounders:

Using Hammond's last Test during 1948 as a cut-off, I have selected all-rounders of the pre-WW2 era, lowering the cut-off to 1000 runs and 50 wickets. The calculations have also been slightly adjusted to provide for the lower cut-off levels, lower batting averages and lower bowling averages. The table is given below.

No Player         Runs   Avge  Wkts   Avge  Index

1. Faulkner G.A 1754 40.79 82 26.59 38.99 2. Tate M.W 1198 25.49 155 26.16 34.31 3. Gregory J.M 1146 36.97 85 31.15 32.47 4. Hammond W.R 7249 58.46 83 37.81 30.15 5. Noble M.A 1997 30.26 121 25.00 29.30 6. Armstrong W.W 2863 38.69 87 33.60 26.16 7. Rhodes W 2325 30.19 127 26.97 26.02 8. Kelleway C 1422 37.42 52 32.37 23.68 9. Woolley F.E 3283 36.08 83 33.92 22.71

Faulkner, the great South African all-rounder is the leader. He is the one all-rounder who would have clearly walked into the all-time all-rounder table. Incidentally Faulkner gets an unadjusted valuation of around 34.5 points. The two Australian all-rounders, Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud are missing from the two tables. They were two genuine all-rounders who would have graced any era.

Final tweak on performance parameter:

This is a slightly revised final Table based on two very valid suggestions made by Hamish and Kartik re performances.

Hamish has suggested that since there is a clear skew, in favour of the batsmen, in fixing the P1 and P2 criteria as 100r/4w and 75r/3w, it should be changed to either P1=100r/5w... or P1=75r/4w. This is a valid suggestion, based on sound statistical analysis and the P1-P2 limits have been changed to 80runs/4wkts and 60runs/3wkts respectively. The point allocation has been changed to 0.5 and 0.3 to reflect the narrowing of gap between P1 and P2.

Kartik has made a valid suggetion to penalize the very poor performances. This makes sense since virtual non-contribution has to be recognized as we do the above-average contributions. I have taken a cut-off of 40 runs (equivalent to 1w/20r) as the point below which a test is deemed to be a failure for an all-rounder. Suitable adjustment has been made for treating tests like the one Imran played as a batsman. Equivalent runs are taken to compensate for wickets. The penalty has been fixed at 0.15, which is half the P2 value and is quite fair.

The revised table is given below.

No Player           Bat     Bow    A/R    Total

01.Sobers G.St.A 26.47 14.64 13.74 54.86 02.Botham I.T 17.32 20.91 11.07 49.29 03.Imran Khan 15.11 25.90 7.37 48.38 04.Hadlee R.J 12.54 26.85 8.72 48.11 05.Kallis J.H 25.28 13.97 7.17 46.42 06.Pollock S.M 13.57 24.39 6.37 44.33 07.Kapil Dev N 13.80 21.12 5.35 40.26 08.Cairns C.L 15.52 16.36 8.19 40.08 09.Miller K.R 12.07 19.28 6.55 37.90 10.Goddard T.L 14.65 17.30 5.18 37.14 11.Flintoff A 14.52 16.86 5.34 36.72 12.Greig A.W 18.69 12.40 5.24 36.32

As I had mentioned earlier there are no major differences. The gap between Sobers and others has come down slightly. The only significant move is that Kapil Dev and Cairns have exchanged places. The other minor change is that there is now a larger gap between Hadlee and Kallis so much so that I would consider the second best as the trio Botham, Imran and Hadlee with Botham as the first amongst equals.

This can be taken as the final table.

To view the complete table with all values, please click here.

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 January 28, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    Sorry Ananth,I again praise your efforts and basic accuracy where Sobers remains as the king and Imran is not overrated.However I feel morally Keith Miller was the most complete allrounder after Sobers.If you analyse his era and oppostion and his brilliant performances Miller was morally higher than Botham ,Imran and Kallis.Botham benefited from the absence of great players in opisng sides in the Packer era while Imran or Kalis hardly championed the cause silmuntaneously with ball and bat.Kallis is the best batting allrounder after Sobers ,but lacks the match-winning flair of Botham,Imran or Miller.I wish Keith Miller could be re-analysed as well as Kapil Dev,who received little asssiatnce from docile Indian wickets and hardly had any bowling support.Kapil,remember,unlike Botham was outstanding against the West Indies.

  • Harsh Thakor on January 28, 2011, 11:08 GMT

    Ananth,with Kalli's recent brilliant performances is he morally closer to Gary Sobers as an all-rounder?Several fans rate him ahead but they ignore Gary's phenomenal all-round peformnaces in test matches and series.However one has to consider that Kallis has hardly had the opportunity in recent yaers to prove his bowling with so many bolwers dominating the South African attack.In a crisis Kallis has atleast proved Sobers equal,even if he lacks Sober's match-winning flair.Kallis is less talented but posesses the temperament and consistency of the all-time greatest-Sobers.

  • Harsh Thakor on November 7, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    Godd work ,Ananth but it statistically overrates Richard Hadlee.The closeness between Botham and Imran is well reflected in the work as well as the overall superiority of Sobers who won matches consistently with bat and ball unlike Kallis.Imran was the greatest all-rounder from 1981-1987 but never championed the winning cause equally with bat and ball,unlike Sobers or Botham at his peak from 1977-1982.Infact when he was a great batsman from 1988-1992 he hardly exceleed with the ball .Botham's career suffered after 1982 and had he mantained that conistency he could well have become the equivalent of at Tendulkar to allrounders.

    Kapil Dev is much better than statistically depicted if you remember the games he turned with bith ball and bat and that he bowled brilliantly on docile sub-continent tracks.Perhaps a seperate list should be made of great batting allrounders and great fast -bolwing allrounders ,which may be fairer.

  • Harsh Thakor on November 7, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    Sorry,Ananth,but i really wished to come back yo you after changing my mind after the latest E.S.P.N selections.The most important factor is the criteria at choosing the greatset all-rounder.

    In stats even if Kallis is the best he has never changed the complexion of a match both with ball and bat, as much as Gary Sobers. In that light Ian Botham was a champion between 1977-1982 being the best match-winner after Sobers.Imran Khan again in Stats maybe the best of the great 4 from 1981-1987 in his era but was never a great batsman and greatfast bowler in the same period and unlike Ian Botham he could not win a match with both ball and bat although he was the best match-winner at his peak with the ball.

    Stats does injustice to Kapil Dev,who was morally very cloe to Botham and Imran,as he bowled on placid tracks.

    Overall ,I admire this analysis as it confirms Gary Sobers as the king being the best match-winner consistently with bat and ball.

  • TRUEOMMENT on October 25, 2008, 9:05 GMT

    who says kallis is not supposed to be an allrounder?he is and will be the best allrounder in cricket's history.the day is not far when he will be as good as sachin(though he is,but the so called 'sachin fan' people dont agree).he will leave a not achieveable mark of the only cricketer to score over 13000 runs aswell as bagging 350 wickets in both forms of the game(or even more)i am not saying because i am a fan but as always for losers 'truth is always bitter' however i dont mean to criticize sachin or lara..they are legends but wait..only time will tell...for me and you you all he's gonna be 'THE BEST ALLROUNDER BASTMEN'IN HISTORY

  • Nadeem M on October 25, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    Continued ...

    Jubilee test: Eng vs India, Bombay, 1979-80

    In another analysis, BB Mama (Indian statistician) took the ratio of batting and bowling averages. Again, an interesting comparison. There was another analysis that took many parameters, and divided the players into three categories: batsmen who bowled well (Sobers), bowlers who could bat (Hadlee), and true all-rounders.

    But your analysis certainly takes the cake! Thanks very much for your efforts.

  • Nadeem M on October 25, 2008, 7:59 GMT

    Excellent analysis. Very fascinating. I just went through it ... not sure if you're still scanning for comments, but here are some, nonetheless.

    I grew up in Pakistan, and was a regular reader (and contributor!!!) of the Cricketer (Pakistan) monthly. Gul Hameed Bhatti had once compiled a list of all rounders, using 1,000 runs + 50 wkts as criteria, and allocated one point per run, 20 points per wicket and 15 points per catch. Take the total points in the career, divide it by the tests played, and you get "performance points" per test. Sobers topped that list by miles, followed by Botham.

    Another point: at the risk of committing a sin by questioning Imran's performance: how many tests did he win by his batting alone? None. He saved many, but didn't win any. During his best all-round performance (vs India at Faisalabad in 82-83: 117 + 11 wickets), he was the 4th centurian for Pakistan. Compare that with Botham's Jubilee test: 114 and 13 wickets. 2nd highest score: 49.

  • luke on October 17, 2008, 18:22 GMT

    i can certainly appreciate the time and effort put into this as i have done similar exercises myself (usually to prive my theories - which, btw, i always manage to do with a tweak here and criteria adjustment there:)). However, different people faced different bowlers so unless each bowler is assigned rating (who decides comparative ratings over different eras...and how??) and then batsmen are evaluated accordingly and equally so with bowling - who are they bowling to?

    btw, if you do remove the tests against zim and BD then how do other allrounders figures change and those who did not have a chance to bowl against them who were there zims and BDs (didn't NZ take years to win a test - even if they were 'fairly' competitive they must have been whipping boys...how about the others??)

    in general...a good attempt and an interesting 1/2 hour read. cheers.

  • John Clark on October 17, 2008, 7:16 GMT

    Just remove all of the 'tests' against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. These matches de-value test cricket.

    Kallis' figures than become: Bat. Av. 51.8, Bowl. Av. 34.0.

    In addition, you are comparing players not yet retired (and hence before their end-career decline) with players whose careers are fully over, including their end-career decline, which for most players is significant. You need to project Kallis' final career totals, including an end-career decline, before comparing to retired players. [[ Ananth: John, you have made two points. One is well-made and the other not a valid suggestion. This is the not-so-good one. Let me give an example from way back. Hammond's 336 was made against a New Zealand attack, so poor that it would make the current Ban/Zim attacks seem lethal. Let me give below the career (???) figures of the six NZL bowlers. Freeman:1@ 169.00 Newman: 2@127.00 Dunning: 5@98.60 Babcock: 16@38.12 Page: 5@46.20. Weir: 7@29.86 What do here. In reality Hammond's 336 was worth, at most, a century. The point is that weak and very weak teams have been there always and we have to accept these teams and go on.

    ]]

  • shafiq on October 17, 2008, 4:33 GMT

    The truth is we pakistanis cann't see Imran other than NO1 coz he is the king of the hearts. Anyways have you considered captaincy? Good work anyways!

  • Harsh Thakor on January 28, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    Sorry Ananth,I again praise your efforts and basic accuracy where Sobers remains as the king and Imran is not overrated.However I feel morally Keith Miller was the most complete allrounder after Sobers.If you analyse his era and oppostion and his brilliant performances Miller was morally higher than Botham ,Imran and Kallis.Botham benefited from the absence of great players in opisng sides in the Packer era while Imran or Kalis hardly championed the cause silmuntaneously with ball and bat.Kallis is the best batting allrounder after Sobers ,but lacks the match-winning flair of Botham,Imran or Miller.I wish Keith Miller could be re-analysed as well as Kapil Dev,who received little asssiatnce from docile Indian wickets and hardly had any bowling support.Kapil,remember,unlike Botham was outstanding against the West Indies.

  • Harsh Thakor on January 28, 2011, 11:08 GMT

    Ananth,with Kalli's recent brilliant performances is he morally closer to Gary Sobers as an all-rounder?Several fans rate him ahead but they ignore Gary's phenomenal all-round peformnaces in test matches and series.However one has to consider that Kallis has hardly had the opportunity in recent yaers to prove his bowling with so many bolwers dominating the South African attack.In a crisis Kallis has atleast proved Sobers equal,even if he lacks Sober's match-winning flair.Kallis is less talented but posesses the temperament and consistency of the all-time greatest-Sobers.

  • Harsh Thakor on November 7, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    Godd work ,Ananth but it statistically overrates Richard Hadlee.The closeness between Botham and Imran is well reflected in the work as well as the overall superiority of Sobers who won matches consistently with bat and ball unlike Kallis.Imran was the greatest all-rounder from 1981-1987 but never championed the winning cause equally with bat and ball,unlike Sobers or Botham at his peak from 1977-1982.Infact when he was a great batsman from 1988-1992 he hardly exceleed with the ball .Botham's career suffered after 1982 and had he mantained that conistency he could well have become the equivalent of at Tendulkar to allrounders.

    Kapil Dev is much better than statistically depicted if you remember the games he turned with bith ball and bat and that he bowled brilliantly on docile sub-continent tracks.Perhaps a seperate list should be made of great batting allrounders and great fast -bolwing allrounders ,which may be fairer.

  • Harsh Thakor on November 7, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    Sorry,Ananth,but i really wished to come back yo you after changing my mind after the latest E.S.P.N selections.The most important factor is the criteria at choosing the greatset all-rounder.

    In stats even if Kallis is the best he has never changed the complexion of a match both with ball and bat, as much as Gary Sobers. In that light Ian Botham was a champion between 1977-1982 being the best match-winner after Sobers.Imran Khan again in Stats maybe the best of the great 4 from 1981-1987 in his era but was never a great batsman and greatfast bowler in the same period and unlike Ian Botham he could not win a match with both ball and bat although he was the best match-winner at his peak with the ball.

    Stats does injustice to Kapil Dev,who was morally very cloe to Botham and Imran,as he bowled on placid tracks.

    Overall ,I admire this analysis as it confirms Gary Sobers as the king being the best match-winner consistently with bat and ball.

  • TRUEOMMENT on October 25, 2008, 9:05 GMT

    who says kallis is not supposed to be an allrounder?he is and will be the best allrounder in cricket's history.the day is not far when he will be as good as sachin(though he is,but the so called 'sachin fan' people dont agree).he will leave a not achieveable mark of the only cricketer to score over 13000 runs aswell as bagging 350 wickets in both forms of the game(or even more)i am not saying because i am a fan but as always for losers 'truth is always bitter' however i dont mean to criticize sachin or lara..they are legends but wait..only time will tell...for me and you you all he's gonna be 'THE BEST ALLROUNDER BASTMEN'IN HISTORY

  • Nadeem M on October 25, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    Continued ...

    Jubilee test: Eng vs India, Bombay, 1979-80

    In another analysis, BB Mama (Indian statistician) took the ratio of batting and bowling averages. Again, an interesting comparison. There was another analysis that took many parameters, and divided the players into three categories: batsmen who bowled well (Sobers), bowlers who could bat (Hadlee), and true all-rounders.

    But your analysis certainly takes the cake! Thanks very much for your efforts.

  • Nadeem M on October 25, 2008, 7:59 GMT

    Excellent analysis. Very fascinating. I just went through it ... not sure if you're still scanning for comments, but here are some, nonetheless.

    I grew up in Pakistan, and was a regular reader (and contributor!!!) of the Cricketer (Pakistan) monthly. Gul Hameed Bhatti had once compiled a list of all rounders, using 1,000 runs + 50 wkts as criteria, and allocated one point per run, 20 points per wicket and 15 points per catch. Take the total points in the career, divide it by the tests played, and you get "performance points" per test. Sobers topped that list by miles, followed by Botham.

    Another point: at the risk of committing a sin by questioning Imran's performance: how many tests did he win by his batting alone? None. He saved many, but didn't win any. During his best all-round performance (vs India at Faisalabad in 82-83: 117 + 11 wickets), he was the 4th centurian for Pakistan. Compare that with Botham's Jubilee test: 114 and 13 wickets. 2nd highest score: 49.

  • luke on October 17, 2008, 18:22 GMT

    i can certainly appreciate the time and effort put into this as i have done similar exercises myself (usually to prive my theories - which, btw, i always manage to do with a tweak here and criteria adjustment there:)). However, different people faced different bowlers so unless each bowler is assigned rating (who decides comparative ratings over different eras...and how??) and then batsmen are evaluated accordingly and equally so with bowling - who are they bowling to?

    btw, if you do remove the tests against zim and BD then how do other allrounders figures change and those who did not have a chance to bowl against them who were there zims and BDs (didn't NZ take years to win a test - even if they were 'fairly' competitive they must have been whipping boys...how about the others??)

    in general...a good attempt and an interesting 1/2 hour read. cheers.

  • John Clark on October 17, 2008, 7:16 GMT

    Just remove all of the 'tests' against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. These matches de-value test cricket.

    Kallis' figures than become: Bat. Av. 51.8, Bowl. Av. 34.0.

    In addition, you are comparing players not yet retired (and hence before their end-career decline) with players whose careers are fully over, including their end-career decline, which for most players is significant. You need to project Kallis' final career totals, including an end-career decline, before comparing to retired players. [[ Ananth: John, you have made two points. One is well-made and the other not a valid suggestion. This is the not-so-good one. Let me give an example from way back. Hammond's 336 was made against a New Zealand attack, so poor that it would make the current Ban/Zim attacks seem lethal. Let me give below the career (???) figures of the six NZL bowlers. Freeman:1@ 169.00 Newman: 2@127.00 Dunning: 5@98.60 Babcock: 16@38.12 Page: 5@46.20. Weir: 7@29.86 What do here. In reality Hammond's 336 was worth, at most, a century. The point is that weak and very weak teams have been there always and we have to accept these teams and go on.

    ]]

  • shafiq on October 17, 2008, 4:33 GMT

    The truth is we pakistanis cann't see Imran other than NO1 coz he is the king of the hearts. Anyways have you considered captaincy? Good work anyways!

  • Chris Miloler on October 16, 2008, 17:21 GMT

    even better than the i hope you will redo the wicketkeeping one as well with more emphasis on just the main job of keeping but all in all a brilliant peice of work and its definatly right that sobers is top and im glad to see botham close behind but the second table is definatly better

  • Kartik on October 12, 2008, 22:47 GMT

    Hmm... Kapil is a better bowler than Botham. Not many would have suggested that. Actually, Kapil is the 4th best bowler on the whole list, with only Hadlee, Imran, and Pollock being higher.

    One other concern. Botham's batting score is quite high - substantially higher than Imran, despite Imran's higher career average. I think the problem lies in the 'bowler quality faced' metric.

    Botham played many tests against the Windies, but he scored poorly in those. His big scores were against weak attacks like India. A few notable tons against Lillee and Thomson are the only examples of good batting against strong attacks.

    Thus, the 'bowling faced' metric is not taking into account whether the batsman *scored runs* against those opponents. Botham faced the WI attack a lot, but did not score against them. Kapil scored only 8 Test centuries, but almost all were against strong attacks.

    I think this is an imperfection in the formula. It may not adjust the ranking.

    [[ Ananth: Karthik, you seem to have missed the point. Each run scored has been weighted by the opposing team's bowling strength as shown by the following extract from the article. So, if Botham did poorly against West Indies, it would be reflected in the calculations. "" Has been done by assigning an opposite team's actual weighted bowling strength, based on balls bowled and bowling average, to each run scored by the player. Take three centuries scored by Kallis. The 115 against Zimbabwe will be weighted with a value of 46.47, the 105 against Pakistan will be weighted with a value of 35.40 and the 139 against Bangladesh will be weighted with 59.98. Cannot do more. "" ]]

  • Kartik on October 7, 2008, 17:04 GMT

    Thanks, Ananth, for incorporating the new parameters. As with the ODI team strength and ODI batsmen, the third time was a charm, with the third version appearing subjectively 'right' to the widest range of 'neutral' observers.

    Kapil was unfortunately the weak wheel in the 80s quartet, exposed by the fact that two others surpassed him since his retirement, but the other 3 have not been surpassed. Kapil was, however, the best ODI player, and also the most injury-resistant member of the quarter.

  • Mish on October 7, 2008, 8:33 GMT

    Peter, excellence in the individual disciplines are measured in the batting and bowling scores, and 5 points of the ARF takes into account average runs and wickets per match over a career. Therefore only 10 points out of a total of 80 are for allround performances in a single test.

  • Peter Parker on October 6, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    Incorporating Mish's points and my earlier suggestion - how about considering 100 runs OR 5 w performances in matches. And maybe in matches where the player scores 100 runs AND 5 wickets, he gets extra credit. I just feel that the current method devalues exceptional individual performances in a single discipline. In an extreme hypothetical example, a player can score 100, 0, 100, 0, 100, 0 and take 0, 5, 0, 5, 0, 5 wickets in successive matches. The player is obviously an excellent allrounder, performing with either bat or ball in every match - but he would get a zero in your ARF ratings. [[ Ananth: Peter, Your example is very illuminating but extreme. I think your method will not show a true all-round performance but the number of 100s and 5w hauls. I have defined the ARF as all-round performance in a single match and that has been tweaked by Hamish's and Kartik's suggestions. I take your point that the all-round performances need not be in a single match but, say, a single series. Thank you for the good suggestion. However somewhere here I have to write Q.E.D. ]]

  • Mish on October 5, 2008, 23:14 GMT

    Just to add, despite my nitpicking, a much appreciated analysis and I've greatly enjoyed reading it and the debate it's stimulated. [[ Ananth: Hamish, Your points are very well made. I am going to modify to more or less what you have suggested (and incorporating Kartik's suggestion) and come with an alternate table by today evening. ]]

  • Mish on October 5, 2008, 23:03 GMT

    My last post on this point - probably time to move on!

    Given that the act of scoring 100 runs as a batsman or taking 5 wickets as a bowler are fairly equivalent achievements given the similar levels of occurence in test history, surely this combination is a fairer reflection of contribution with both bat and ball and a good benchmark of a P1 performance.

    To increase overall P1/P2 occurrences, surely the answer is to lower both criteria rather than just the bowling criteria. If you'd decided to lower batting and make it 75runs/5w for P1 and 50/4 for P2, this would have skewed the scores significantly.

    Given that the two allrounders with the most P1/P2 performances are Sobers with 24 and Kallis with 17, and these two are by far the strongest batsmen and are weaker bowlers, it suggests this measure is skewed. My suggestion is 100/5 for P1 and 65/3 for P2. Awarding 0.6 and 0.3 for each rewards top performances. Sobers still out front, but to me a fairer reflection of AR performances.

  • Mish on October 5, 2008, 14:04 GMT

    Sorry to continue with this, but if it is more difficult to achieve the batting mark than the bowling mark, doesn't that favour the batting allrounder, because less is demanded of his bowling?

    According to statsguru, there have been 4649 occurrences of a player scoring 100 runs in a test and 6488 occurrences of a player taking 4 wickets. There have been 4499 occurrences of players taking 5 wickets or more.

    Would it not be more equitable to make a P1 performance 100 runs and 5 wickets? As a P2 performance, 4 wickets (achieved 6,488 x)and 80 runs (6,898 x), or 3 wickets and 65 runs? [[ Ananth: Your numbers are correct. I only meant 100 runs average per test as against 4 wickets average per test. My first analysis was with 100 runs and 5 wickets for P1 and 75 runs and 4 wickets for P2. I wanted to increase the P1/P2 occurences since these were performance oriented. Hence reduced the criteria. I agree that I could as well have taken 100/5 and 75/4. ]]

  • Prashant on October 5, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    Cannot agree with reducing "longevity" weightings. Would have thought it was self evident that if say: X scores averages more runs and takes more wickets over a greater time period or more matches... then he is definitely superior to Y who does the same for a fewer matches or lesser amount of time. [[ Ananth: You have taken X doing better for a longer period than Y. Then obviously X is superior to Y and that will be the case here also. On the other hand take the following example. X: 100 tests 8000 runs 45.00 average. Y: 50 tests 5000 runs 55.00 average. How do we compare the above two. If we go only by runs, X will be far ahead of Y and vice versa if we take average. So we have to give weight to the two measures. The consensus was that while longevity should be given importance, performance should be given more weight. ]]

  • Mish on October 4, 2008, 21:52 GMT

    Re the performance scores, I wanted to know why 100 runs and 4 wickets for a P1 and 75 runs and 3 wickets for a P2. P1 seems to me to be slightly favouring batsmen, but wondered if there was any reason those had been chosen? [[ Ananth: On the contrary, as mentioned in the article, this favours the bowlers. Only one batsman, Bradman, has averaged 100 runs per test match while 48 bowlers have averaged 4 wickets per test. So it is far more difficult to achieve the 100 than 4. ]]

  • Cellinis on October 4, 2008, 20:42 GMT

    Yet another excellent analysis, can't find any critic to make! Sure, in Indian hearts (BCCI excluded) Kapil will forever retain a special place, however his numbers did take a downward turn towards the end of the career. @Keith - I'm not so sure mate, holding up one end consistently is pretty important, it builds up pressure and the bowler at the other end benefits.

    That just gave me an interesting idea... which bowlers caused most wickets from the other end? Though I reckon that this might be beyond a statistical analysis! [[ Ananth: I remember you had raised this point in a comment made on Ric's or David's post. Ball by ball data is needed for the type of analysis you have asked for. Serious ball-by-ball data is available only for the recent 500 matches. I had co-ordinated for Wisden compilation of ball-by-ball data for about 250 tests before that. However those are all proprietary data which the owners are unlikely to part with. Also the data would be in one of 5 different formats. We can only speculate using the bowling analysis. That idea itself is fascinating. In other words, when a bowler bowls successfully look at the other bowlers who bowled. As I have mentioned in my response to Abhijeet, needs an off-keyboard off-paper contemplation. One thing is ceertain. You guys have the ability to come out with the most exotic of suggestions. Thanks a lot. ]]

  • Vekram on October 4, 2008, 19:23 GMT

    Awesome analysis. I hate to be nitpicky, but while adding the dismissed batsman's average, it wouldn't be fair to add the career average will it? It should be the batting average at that point of time in the batsman's career right? This might well be impossible to incorporate but I feel it's a pertinent point. For example, dismissing Dravid on 270 in Rawalpindi (was it?) should have fetched the bowler 58.5 which was his batting average then, while bowlers who dismissed him during the recent SL series should receive only 54.2 something. The difference is more marked in the case of Rocky Ponting. Pre 2000 he had an average of 45 odd, while now he has an average of 58.5. And all rounders like Pollock and Kallis must have gotten his wicket on either side of the millenium I'm sure (did they?) Keep up the awesome work! And I completely realise that statistics are not to pass judgement on players but just a way for us sports mad guys to derive happiness from their achievements. :) [[ Ananth: I could have done since I now have the cumulative batting average. However I felt it was not necessary since somone like Dravid, once he has played, say, 50 test innings just oscillates 10% either way and the final result would not have been altered significantly. Recent form, on the other hand, would be totally different but that is a can of worms I did not want to open. ]]

  • Engle on October 4, 2008, 19:06 GMT

    Nothing's fair in love and war. Botham, I feel, got the best shakes while Kapil, the worst.

    For India to produce a decent pacer who went on to become the world's leading wkt-taker at the time was considered almost unimaginable.

    His 400+ wkts was about 3 times greater than the next best Indian pacer up to that point(Ghavri).

    This would be akin to England producing a leggie who goes on to become the leading Test wkt-taker.

    Then he went and hit 5000+ runs.

    400+ wkts AND 5000+ runs is very commendable indeed and not likely to be beaten anytime soon.

  • Abhijeet Dongre on October 4, 2008, 17:49 GMT

    Great Analysis once again Ananth. I missed the first analysis on this. I have a favor to ask. I have always wondered how important is it to have a good all-rounder in the team. Between Dravid, Muralitharan and Flintoff, who would be the best. Is it better to have a great specialist batsman/bowler or to go with a good all-rounder. Do you think putting guys like Muralitharan and Dravid in this list with the same parameters can answer this question.

    Regards, Abhijeet [[ Ananth: Have to do quite a bit of off-keyboard, off-paper thinking before I can do justice to what you have mentioned. Fascinating ides, though. ]]

  • Keith on October 4, 2008, 16:41 GMT

    "Finally you must agree that Sobers' strike rate is about 37% more than Kallis while Kallis' RPO is about 27% more than Sobers. Finally Sobers' Bow Avge is about 9% higher than Kallis. So Sobers pays for his high Strike Rate to that extent. It is not as if Sobers has gained by not splitting"

    Agreed was just expressing that in my opinion SR is a lot more valuable in Tests than RPO (more equal though in ODI's)as for the greatest ever All Rounder thats just personal choice - what youve done though is good reading and dont think you can really argue to much with both your lists they both show the greatest all rounders to ever grace the game some i had never heard of and some that i never considered all rounders but then been nice to read up bout the Golden Oldies

  • Sorcerer on October 4, 2008, 14:46 GMT

    Botham did not play a lot of his Tests against mighty strong opposition. 31 out of 102 Tests against the the two best. It was WI (from beginning) and Pak (from '82 onwards) which were the two leading teams in Test arena along with England.

    Botham played in all 102 Test matches. Of those, he played 14 against Pak - now if you remove the debut 3-Test Series against severely depleted Pak (playing without their 5 major players who were featuring in Packer Series), in 11 Test matches overall, Botham scored only 435 runs @ 26, and claimed merely 27 wickets @ 39. Against WI, he featured in 20 Tests, scoring 792 runs @ 21 and taking 61 wickets @ 35. These returns against the two stronger teams of his era are not impressive at all. Against Aus, yed indeed he has quite a decent record, but in all fairness Aus team of that era was nowhere as potent to the modern Aus phenomenon and not at par with the WI or Pak team of post '82. It was only Pak which gave WI the world champs as good as it got.

  • Adrian Halim on October 4, 2008, 13:52 GMT

    I believe that Kapil should have been given more appreciation with the fact that he never had a worthy partner, which arguably caused his bowling average worse than Imran, Botham and Hadlee. Imran had Safraz Nawaz, Botham had Bob Wilis, and Hadlee had Ewan Chatfield. Pace bowler always hunt in pairs and all great paceman (Marshall, Lillee, McGrath, Lindwall, Garner, Holding, Roberts, Larwood, Ambrose, Wasim, etc) had worthy partner(s) in crime. Kapil was lone ranger. He virtually carried the whole Indian pace attack during his career, and he prevailed. Therefore, this factor must be considered in assessing his greatness.

  • Keith on October 4, 2008, 13:47 GMT

    Sorry ananth have to disagree with your latest comments

    "If Bowler Strike Rate is taken into account, then we should include Bowler RPO also in which Sobers is the best with a RPO figure of 2.2. The Average is a composite of both measures. Pl don't forget that Sobers is already being penalized heavily for his bowling average of 34+."

    RPO is fairly irrelavant in tests as if a bowler bowls to wide of the stumps he will have a very good economy rate but wont take wickets compared to someone who attacks the stumps and edges fly everywhere may have a high economy rate but will take wickets take Brett Lee and Dale steyn as examples so Strike Rate is very important.

    However the rest of your article was indeed a very good read and finally someone can show Kallis for the player he really is - if you look at his stats and Man of the Match performances in both ODI's and Tests there really should be no argument to how great a player he is! [[ Ananth: I did some trial calculations separating the RPO and Strike Rate. Obviously equal weightings is ridiculous since these are Test matches and it is important to take wickets. However when I did a 1/3 for RPO and 2/3 for Strike Rate weightings the results were, somewhat comparable to the single Bowling Average based calculation. This may also be because of the range and point allocation. So I decided to retail the Bowling Average based calculation. Finally you must agree that Sobers' strike rate is about 37% more than Kallis while Kallis' RPO is about 27% more than Sobers. Finally Sobers' Bow Avge is about 9% higher than Kallis. So Sobers pays for his high Strike Rate to that extent. It is not as if Sobers has gained by not splitting. One can generate set of numbers where one player will benefiit or lose over the other. But the purpose is to be fair across the board. ]]

  • Mish on October 4, 2008, 13:22 GMT

    How did you arrive at the parameters for the P1 and P2 performance scores? [[ Ananth: Each P1 performance gets 0.5 point and each P2 performance 0.25 point. ]]

  • Raghu Chadalavada on October 4, 2008, 12:55 GMT

    Ian Botham is the undisputed king of allrounders. Also fielding and catching should be considered. Bothams presence itself helped England to win especially against aussies because he is one gorilla who is confident of whatever he does in the field. Amazing player except for his last two years in cricket.

  • Engle on October 4, 2008, 12:39 GMT

    On the issue of an A/R being selected on either discipline, I believe there's just a handful (Sobers, Botham, Imran, Faulkner, Miller and possibly Greig).

    Would Ananth agree with this list ?

    I doubt whether Hadlee/Kapil/Pollock would be selected as pure batsmen, or Kallis/Goddard as pure bowlers; although in total they may pip the names above.

    [[ Ananth: Well summarized. Although Greig might not make it as a bowler. Even thiough Sobers is an average bowler, as per the figures, his versatility (not shown by figures) makes him an ideal and invaluable fourth/fifth bowler. People who question Sobers' credentials as a bowler, can they honestly say that today, he would not make to ALL the Test teams, including Australia/India, as a bowler. Also Hadlee moves way up the list since he is such an outstanding a bowler that he makes up most of the batting shortfalls. ]]

  • James Ali on October 4, 2008, 11:54 GMT

    There is a vital error here! By not giving due importance to the bowlers strike rates you are not getting accurate figures. For example Botham's strike rate is 56, 9 compared to Imran's 53, 7, While Hadlee's is even better at 50, 8. Sobers although an all time great has a terrible strike rate of 91, 9. This is very important to take into account! Who would you rather have bowling? Sobers who takes a wicked every 15 overs, or Hadlee who takes one round very 8 overs he bowls? Comments and thoughts appreciated. [[ Ananth: If Bowler Strike Rate is taken into account, then we should include Bowler RPO also in which Sobers is the best with a RPO figure of 2.2. The Average is a composite of both measures. Pl don't forget that Sobers is already being penalized heavily for his bowling average of 34+. ]]

  • HN on October 4, 2008, 11:29 GMT

    Ananth, lovely analysis, thanks for your effeorts. The last comment by Marcus re Vettori caught my eye though. You seem to be suggesting that you excluded Vettori because you were getting into problems with the analysis.. Is that because the bottom end of the bowling metrics became too far away because of Vettori? if so, it probably raises another question. Why keep points for batting average linear between 25 and 60? Obvious answer is this is close to the range of allrounders you have, but I think narrow ranges skew the data by exaggerating and magnifying small differnces.. What would be the results had vettori been kept in the sample? [[ Ananth: No major change except that Vettori was way off down and I felt that he was not ready to be in the group with the worst batting and worst bowling averages. That is all. ]]

  • imhotep on October 4, 2008, 10:04 GMT

    Hi Ash,

    What I meant was that Imran had the least average as a bowler against WI during their heydays. Hope this clears the air..

    I personally believe that Imran is the best of the quartet followed by Kapil, Botham and Hadlee. I do not believe that Kallis and Pollock make great / very good allrounders.. Kallis never took a 5for against Aus and averages less than 2 wickets per test and Pollock averages less than 30 against Aus....feats that dont do a lot to their reputation...

    Hence I would rate Flintoff the bestalrounder of his generation way above Kallis just for his ability to influence a game against the very best either with bat or ball

  • Kutch on October 4, 2008, 10:04 GMT

    I keep going over the methodology but cannot fathom how Kapil Dev can be 2 points above Miller

  • Marcus on October 4, 2008, 6:59 GMT

    I was just reading this again, and the following caught my eye:

    "Vettori is excluded since... his bowling average is higher than his batting average and that is not the sign of a great all-rounder."

    He has, however, been averaging over 40 for the last couple of years and averaging around 31 in the same time frame, and I expect the gap to close considerably if he can maintain this form with both bat and ball (and he seems to get better with age). But I think that he's second only to Kallis among all-rounders today, and is arguably more valuable to New Zealand than even Flintoff is to England. [[ Ananth: Marcus, It was with extreme reluctance that I had to exclude Vettori. I have a lot of respect for his all-round abilities and one should not forget that he has to bowl a lot on those spinner-unfriendly New Zealand wickets. I will confess that I did 80% of the work keeping Vettori in. However I was getting into problems because of his low bowling values. Hence I decided to exclude him. You are right in affirming his status as an all-rounder. His batting average is likely to improve in the years to come. The problem is his bowling average. If he can get it down to 30 (very difficult since he has to do that over 200+ wickets), he will surely move into this group. ]]

  • Archmage on October 4, 2008, 1:54 GMT

    Ananth

    well done on your revised list. By giving my weight the bowling parameters and taking into account the relative opposition strengths (I can't even imagine the effort that would have involved) you have produced a set of rankings that most people will consider definitive.

    Nice to see Faulkner given a little bit of the limelight- reading his and Miller's bios you get a sense from their wartime service that here were two truly courageous individuals.

  • Naresh on October 4, 2008, 1:39 GMT

    "7. BOW - Wickets Quality (5 points):

    I have always felt that Flintoff consistently captiured top order wickets. This is more than borne by these numbers. The range is from Flintoff (34.85) to Cairns (29.29). Incidentally 84 of Flintoff's 206 wickets (over 40%) are of batsmen with Batting Averages exceeding 40.0. "

    Excellent point. When I saw the title of this article, the first name that came to my mind from curretn players was Flintoff. What a difference this guy makes to his team. This is the kind of metric that makes difference in real terms. You only have to watch Flintoff's over to Ponting from 2005 ashes series (search on youtube) to understand. Similarly, the guy's batting is so destructuve, it can take the game away from the best of attacks. Opposition teams must fear him.

  • Amit Basu on October 3, 2008, 22:04 GMT

    Why is fielding not considered in the various formulae? Sobers, Miller, Botham and Flintoff in particular were / are outstanding fielders, particularly when close to the wicket. Fielding should surely be factored in as (i) it is another way in which they affected the games they played in; and (ii) it must to some extent have compromised their effectiveness as bowlers.

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on October 3, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    Hi,

    Yes, good point to have a look at captins in a separate analysis. I would suggest having a look at post WW2 captains together with their own performances. For example, minimum qualification may be at least 10 matches as captains, give one point to every run they scored while captaining the team, 5 points for every catch they took, 20 points for every wicket they captured, 100 points for every test won as captains, 250 points for every series they won as captains, make aggregate of all points divided by the number of test they stood as captains, arrange the result in descending order to rank captains of modern time.

    This approach will also ensure extremely good captains like Mike Brearlay to stay in contention among top captains. However, you can adjust the points according to the weightage you feel more appropriate.

    I bet this would be an interesting analysis and you have all the wonderful skill to do that with superlative ease.

  • srini on October 3, 2008, 20:01 GMT

    ananth, while i see that botham has faced tough opposition, i disagree that he has performed well against that opposition, as sorcerer mentioned, he was absolutely poor against the best bowling attacks of his era, windies and pak. i dont understand how he comes up trumps over someone like kapil or hadlee who raised their level against the best opposition (in this case windies).

  • srini on October 3, 2008, 19:40 GMT

    very very good analysis ananth. suprise suprise, sir garry comes out top. it is certainly true that garry sobers is the greatest CRICKETER of all times. a true champion in all ways. i have my own doubts if he'll make an all time XI purely on the basis of his bowling but with 109 catches during a period where the windies bowling was relatively weak and on top of it bowling 20-30 overs a test, its a testament to the greatness of the man. i guess few ppl will disagree with me on this and even those who do will grudgingly acknowledge it once they see through the details.

  • Mohsin Khan on October 3, 2008, 19:36 GMT

    Is someone who has performed the best over their career the best all rounder?

    Would you take into account the fact that Sobers played against only 2 professional teams? His average is beefed up by his exploits against Pakistan and India who were nothing before the 80s. Against New Zealands and Australia he suffers heavily.

    I think the best way to rate an all time great is to rate him at his peak.

    I would rate peak as a 20 match period in which the player performed the best as an all rounder. This will give a better result of potential.

  • Peter Parker on October 3, 2008, 18:41 GMT

    A comment on the ARF calculations: You have only considered batting AND bowling performances in a single match. That seems flawed to me - surely a player who scores a century in one match and then takes 5 wickets in the next is still an excellent allrounder. And in fact, may have won his team two matches. I think you should get rid of the ARF altogether and use the more simple and common measures of 1. number of 100s/50s and 2. number of 5wi/10wm. That will factor in ALL exceptional performances by the player and not just for the matches in which he batted AND bowled well. [[ Ananth: One good alternative. Not necessarily a better one. ]]

  • Engle on October 3, 2008, 17:08 GMT

    A wealth of information to peruse. Kudos to Anantha for his efforts.

    Noticeable that in the top 12, not a single pure spinner; Sobers and Greig partly engaged the art. Yet, on the Pre-WW2 list, Faulkner, leads by a considerable margin, much to his credit.

    Being a spinning A/R is a more difficult proposition, since it is a more specialized art and must be done spot-on or get spanked.

    I wonder what the list would look like if captaincy were to be considered. Captaincy has a greater bearing on a Test than any of batting, bowling or fielding. If it was given to some and not to others only reflects the faith of the selectors in the ability of those who could deliver.

    Would Imran come ahead of Sobers ?

    I dare say he might.

    [[ Ananth: Why consider captaincy along with all-rounders. It could be looked at in isolation or with batting, bowling and widket-keeping. Anyhow, most of us would agree that Imran was one of the greatest post-war captains. ]]

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on October 3, 2008, 17:02 GMT

    imhotep, what made you think that Imran had the least bowling average during the period from 1976 to 1992? I checked and my findings are exactly opposite. Perhaps, you are not ready to accept the fact that Imran is placed higher in the table as compared to kapil?

    Ananth, would you pls comment?

    [[ Ananth: That is obviously a mis-statement since Imran's career, barring 4 tests was between 1976 and 1992 and his bowling average during this period was a truly outstanding 22.81. I don't think he meant 1976 to 1992. Anyhow it is upto imhotep (???) to offer an explanation. ]]

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on October 3, 2008, 16:53 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Certainly good efforts. Now your analyses have more realistic approach. I am surprised to see Sobers at the top with such a considerable margin. Indeed, statistics show those fine and hidden ares that is not possible to track thru naked eye.

    Unlike your previous analysis for top batsman where the whole criteria was set to show your favorite batsman at the top (at least this is how I felt...and pls don't get offended, we have the right to voice our opinion), this one is very fair and genuine.

    Keep up the good work and do similar exercise for ODI.

    God bless you all !!!

    [[ Ananth: Ash, my favourite batsmen are Brian Lara and Mark Waugh. They were not even in the Top 10. Some one even said that I wanted to push Dravid and Ganguly up. They are certainly not my favourite ODI batsmen. ]]

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 16:33 GMT

    In his first 5 years, Botham took the world by storm, scoring 3300 runs and taking 250 wickets.

    In his last 6 years of Test cricket, he only made 400 runs and took 17 wickets.

    Had he retired in 1986 (already as the world record wicket taker), he would have retained a 'what might have been' aura and grown into a much bigger legend. People would be assuming that 'had he not retired at 30, he would have scored 8000 runs and taken 500 wickets'.

    Botham really fell off after age 30, for a combination of reasons.

    Kartik, you are opening up a lot of interesting possibilities. Analysis of players' careers by, say, quartiles. Remember Vengsarkar's or Atapattu's first quarter and compare the same against their, say, third quartile showing. Mind blowing difference.

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 16:22 GMT

    Another statsguru tidbit that I did not realize until today, but found out looking up the stats on some of these all-rounders.

    Botham and Kapil, despite being considered rivals, and overlapping for 14 years in international cricket, only ever faced each other in a brief 3-year period from 1979-82. In the 10 years from 1982-92, they never faced in a Test again.

    Botham missed 3 series' (1984-85, 96, 90). The 1988-89 series was cancelled for some stupid reason. Botham retired right before the 1992-93 series (which would have worsened his stats greatly if he played in it).

    So they only met during a 3-year period.

    [[ Ananth: I get the feeling that some one is going to ask me to do some head-to-head analysis between these "Doughty Dozen" !!! ]]

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 15:37 GMT

    Botham did face the best bowling. He played many tests against the West Indies exactly when the WI bowling attack was the strongest ever. He also faced Lillee and Thomson a lot. A high portion of Botham's tests were concentrated among opponents with strong bowling.

  • imhotep on October 3, 2008, 15:08 GMT

    Continuing on Point 2, Kallis' performance against Australia as a bowler is as bad as Botham's against WI. Just to stretch the point Kapil's 9/83 is the BB against WI during this period. [[ Ananth: I can assure you that Kapil's 9 for 83 carries with it the batting averages of all the West Indian he dismissed at Ahmedabad. including Richards, Greenidge and Lloyd, excluding Haynes. ]]

  • subramanian on October 3, 2008, 14:43 GMT

    A century against Pakistan gets lower weightage than ones against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe? Am I getting it wrong or is there a mistake? [[ Ananth: You are missing something. These are weighted bowling averages.The weaker teams get higher bowling averages. In reality only the Bangladeshi team gets a figure higher than 50. ]]

  • imhotep on October 3, 2008, 14:30 GMT

    Hi Ananth

    Great Job. Mostly agree with the analysis. However, coming back to Kapil Dev and the argument that he has been hard-done by in this analysis, lemme present a few points to consider

    1. Runs scored against the best team of their era : There should be no doubt that West Indies were the best team of the era by a long margin. In the period from 1976 to 1995, only 11 players have scored more than 3 centuries against the famed bowling lineup and on this count Kapil scores above batsmen such as Miandad and Gower. Imran and Hadlee just about sneaked a century and Botham rearely did even come close. Kallis' record against Australia with either bat or ball leaves a lot to be desired.

    2. Bowling against the best batting Lineup: In the same period, Kapil has taken the most wickets against WI at an average of 24.89 which is 11% higher than his career average. This shows that he elevated his game when it mattered against the best. Imran has the least average in this period

  • Marcus on October 3, 2008, 14:29 GMT

    Well again I can't help but feel that maybe Miller's a little low, but that's probably a consequence of his attitude to the game in general. If there's one cricketer in history that I wish I could have watched, it would have been Miller.

    Another good list, but Kallis' lowish bowling ranking does surprise me somewhat, especially as I remember you saying that he was a better bowler than Sobers. Of course his low wicket-contribution must count against him, but I do think that he really is under-rated as a bowler, and is a good deal better than the "specialists" of so many other countries.

    I'm also glad to see Faulkener get a mention, if only because I can't get enough of the name "Aubrey!"

    But thanks anyway for a thourough follow-up to a very interesting topic.

  • Sorcerer on October 3, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Quite extensive work, Ananth...thanks for the time and input.

    But I'm not sure how Botham as a batsman is so high given his averages against the two best bowling sides in the world at that time - WI (21) and Pak (32). Taking into consideration, his main stints V Pak were against the severely depleted teams of the Packer era (of all nations bar India which had none featuring in the Packer extravaganza), and his other major performances benefiting from the Packer exodus of major players of his first few years in the game, "quality of opposition" is indeed a missing factor in the parameters - both in bowling and in batting. Similarly in bowling averages V WI (36) and V Pak (32), it leaves a lot to be desired. And inecitably the A/R - the third parameter of the three yardsticks is rewarding Botham for inconsistency rather. Again the absence of quality-assessment of opposition has ensured Kallis turns up as nearly as good a performing batsman as Sobers!

  • husain sattar on October 3, 2008, 14:04 GMT

    The thing which people have to realise is also the strength of teams. weaker teams have caused newer allrounders to have better figures than they should, and if you do the maths, for example, kallis takes about one wicket and innings, which i dont consider bowling at all. the pitches then were also alot less batter friendly so it was harder to score runs, unlike today when everyone scores hundreds and doubles especially against bangladesh and in places with flat pitches. I think these should also be taken into account somehow. thanks [[ Ananth: Your comments are not clear especially I have weighted EACH wicket with the Batting Average of the dismissed batsman. ]]

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

    WHAT??? ONLY 14%??? WHY NOT 40%??? Just kidding :-) Well done, the effort has not gone unappreciated. While I'm still not sold on uncorrected values for longevity since in my opinion it is tilted in favor of players of later generations simply because they have greater opportunity, I can concede that you have reduced its effect considerably. I have no complaints with your final list and it is my opinion that is probably among the more accurate I have seen. Thank you also for considering two different eras. This provides a more complete/comprehensive picture to your original question. [[ Ananth: I also have my sense of humour and can appreciate your effort. I did some adjusting for the pre-WW2 table. As you could see the effect was around 12%. My only grouse is you are nameless and faceless. ]]

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 13:30 GMT

    Anyone who grew up watching India's 1980s cricket will be saddened to see Kapil so low at #8. Of course, he was #5 at the time his retirement. The three who surpassed him all came/qualified later.

    Kapil was, unfortunately, the weak wheel in the 1980s quartet (although the strongest in ODIs). This is mostly due to his bowling average really falling away in the second half of his career.

    Separately, I am not sure the longevity weighting should be halved. I am not just saying this because it would benefit Kapil, but an all-rounder's workload is very heavy, and longevity should score points.

    Lastly, I can't give up on the fact that if A and B performances are given credit, then F-performances should be docked.

    "since he contributes heavily to the team performance by excelling in both batting and bowling. "

    Yes, and when he fails at both, his team LOSES. Check the statsguru data. 0-25 runs + 1 or less wickets = a LOSS for the team.

    [[ Ananth: These are numbers-based. No analysis can ever justify what Kapil did in taking India out of a deep abyss and garner victories outside India. I personally feel that the obsession with beating Hadlee's record lengthened his career by about 17 tests. He reached 400 wickets in the 114th test. Afterwards in 17 tests he captured 34 wickets and scored 520 runs. This is a ridiculous output for a great player. It must be mentioned that his averages did not suffer much during this period. I will add a note on possible 'F' adjustments later. My feeling is that there will not be any change to the top position, other than a possible reducing of gap. However the next four could move around. But does not matter. Another one might become the "First amongst equals" other than Botham. ]]

  • RM on October 3, 2008, 13:18 GMT

    All I can say is thanks for mentioning Faulkner. I'm looking forward to seeing more South African names from good ol' days if you decide to do one for wicketkeeping allrounders!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • RM on October 3, 2008, 13:18 GMT

    All I can say is thanks for mentioning Faulkner. I'm looking forward to seeing more South African names from good ol' days if you decide to do one for wicketkeeping allrounders!!

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 13:30 GMT

    Anyone who grew up watching India's 1980s cricket will be saddened to see Kapil so low at #8. Of course, he was #5 at the time his retirement. The three who surpassed him all came/qualified later.

    Kapil was, unfortunately, the weak wheel in the 1980s quartet (although the strongest in ODIs). This is mostly due to his bowling average really falling away in the second half of his career.

    Separately, I am not sure the longevity weighting should be halved. I am not just saying this because it would benefit Kapil, but an all-rounder's workload is very heavy, and longevity should score points.

    Lastly, I can't give up on the fact that if A and B performances are given credit, then F-performances should be docked.

    "since he contributes heavily to the team performance by excelling in both batting and bowling. "

    Yes, and when he fails at both, his team LOSES. Check the statsguru data. 0-25 runs + 1 or less wickets = a LOSS for the team.

    [[ Ananth: These are numbers-based. No analysis can ever justify what Kapil did in taking India out of a deep abyss and garner victories outside India. I personally feel that the obsession with beating Hadlee's record lengthened his career by about 17 tests. He reached 400 wickets in the 114th test. Afterwards in 17 tests he captured 34 wickets and scored 520 runs. This is a ridiculous output for a great player. It must be mentioned that his averages did not suffer much during this period. I will add a note on possible 'F' adjustments later. My feeling is that there will not be any change to the top position, other than a possible reducing of gap. However the next four could move around. But does not matter. Another one might become the "First amongst equals" other than Botham. ]]

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

    WHAT??? ONLY 14%??? WHY NOT 40%??? Just kidding :-) Well done, the effort has not gone unappreciated. While I'm still not sold on uncorrected values for longevity since in my opinion it is tilted in favor of players of later generations simply because they have greater opportunity, I can concede that you have reduced its effect considerably. I have no complaints with your final list and it is my opinion that is probably among the more accurate I have seen. Thank you also for considering two different eras. This provides a more complete/comprehensive picture to your original question. [[ Ananth: I also have my sense of humour and can appreciate your effort. I did some adjusting for the pre-WW2 table. As you could see the effect was around 12%. My only grouse is you are nameless and faceless. ]]

  • husain sattar on October 3, 2008, 14:04 GMT

    The thing which people have to realise is also the strength of teams. weaker teams have caused newer allrounders to have better figures than they should, and if you do the maths, for example, kallis takes about one wicket and innings, which i dont consider bowling at all. the pitches then were also alot less batter friendly so it was harder to score runs, unlike today when everyone scores hundreds and doubles especially against bangladesh and in places with flat pitches. I think these should also be taken into account somehow. thanks [[ Ananth: Your comments are not clear especially I have weighted EACH wicket with the Batting Average of the dismissed batsman. ]]

  • Sorcerer on October 3, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Quite extensive work, Ananth...thanks for the time and input.

    But I'm not sure how Botham as a batsman is so high given his averages against the two best bowling sides in the world at that time - WI (21) and Pak (32). Taking into consideration, his main stints V Pak were against the severely depleted teams of the Packer era (of all nations bar India which had none featuring in the Packer extravaganza), and his other major performances benefiting from the Packer exodus of major players of his first few years in the game, "quality of opposition" is indeed a missing factor in the parameters - both in bowling and in batting. Similarly in bowling averages V WI (36) and V Pak (32), it leaves a lot to be desired. And inecitably the A/R - the third parameter of the three yardsticks is rewarding Botham for inconsistency rather. Again the absence of quality-assessment of opposition has ensured Kallis turns up as nearly as good a performing batsman as Sobers!

  • Marcus on October 3, 2008, 14:29 GMT

    Well again I can't help but feel that maybe Miller's a little low, but that's probably a consequence of his attitude to the game in general. If there's one cricketer in history that I wish I could have watched, it would have been Miller.

    Another good list, but Kallis' lowish bowling ranking does surprise me somewhat, especially as I remember you saying that he was a better bowler than Sobers. Of course his low wicket-contribution must count against him, but I do think that he really is under-rated as a bowler, and is a good deal better than the "specialists" of so many other countries.

    I'm also glad to see Faulkener get a mention, if only because I can't get enough of the name "Aubrey!"

    But thanks anyway for a thourough follow-up to a very interesting topic.

  • imhotep on October 3, 2008, 14:30 GMT

    Hi Ananth

    Great Job. Mostly agree with the analysis. However, coming back to Kapil Dev and the argument that he has been hard-done by in this analysis, lemme present a few points to consider

    1. Runs scored against the best team of their era : There should be no doubt that West Indies were the best team of the era by a long margin. In the period from 1976 to 1995, only 11 players have scored more than 3 centuries against the famed bowling lineup and on this count Kapil scores above batsmen such as Miandad and Gower. Imran and Hadlee just about sneaked a century and Botham rearely did even come close. Kallis' record against Australia with either bat or ball leaves a lot to be desired.

    2. Bowling against the best batting Lineup: In the same period, Kapil has taken the most wickets against WI at an average of 24.89 which is 11% higher than his career average. This shows that he elevated his game when it mattered against the best. Imran has the least average in this period

  • subramanian on October 3, 2008, 14:43 GMT

    A century against Pakistan gets lower weightage than ones against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe? Am I getting it wrong or is there a mistake? [[ Ananth: You are missing something. These are weighted bowling averages.The weaker teams get higher bowling averages. In reality only the Bangladeshi team gets a figure higher than 50. ]]

  • imhotep on October 3, 2008, 15:08 GMT

    Continuing on Point 2, Kallis' performance against Australia as a bowler is as bad as Botham's against WI. Just to stretch the point Kapil's 9/83 is the BB against WI during this period. [[ Ananth: I can assure you that Kapil's 9 for 83 carries with it the batting averages of all the West Indian he dismissed at Ahmedabad. including Richards, Greenidge and Lloyd, excluding Haynes. ]]

  • Kartik on October 3, 2008, 15:37 GMT

    Botham did face the best bowling. He played many tests against the West Indies exactly when the WI bowling attack was the strongest ever. He also faced Lillee and Thomson a lot. A high portion of Botham's tests were concentrated among opponents with strong bowling.