June 9, 2009

In search of the balanced allrounder

A detailed stats analyis to classify players as batting allrounders and bowling allrounders
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The beauty of cricket lies in the variety of different roles players can assume when they play the game. I contend there exists a continuum, with specialist bowlers at one end, specialist batsmen at the other, and a range of different types of allrounder in between. The terms "bowling allrounder" and "batting allrounder" are often used in reference to particular players, and it follows that in between these two categories, there must be a group of players whose allround capabilities are perfectly balanced; that is, they bat equally well as they bowl.

If my continuum does exist, then it should be possible to quantify each player's position along this line, and to determine who the "perfectly balanced" allrounders have been in the game's history.

Concerning myself with just Test cricket, I started with two extremes: the "purest" batsman was surely Brian Lara, who scored 11,953 runs in 131 Tests, but failed to take a wicket, the only scorer of 10,000 runs to do so. At the other end of the scale, we have South Africa's Mfuneko Ngam, who was only trusted with the bat once in his three Tests, scoring 0 not out, but was good enough as a bowler to take 11 wickets.

Of the 2551 Test players at the time of writing, 1085 failed either to score a run or take a wicket, and these may be regarded as our specialist players (either batsmen or bowlers), leaving 1467 players who can theoretically be regarded to some degree as allrounders. Readers may not be convinced of the allround credentials of Rahul Dravid, who has one wicket to go along with his 10,823 runs, and so we need to weed out these genuine batting specialists who by some freakish circumstance, have ended up with a small number of wickets.

Similarly, at the other end, we cannot seriously regard the likes of England's Bill Bowes (68 wickets) as a bowling allrounder, even though he scored 28 runs in 15 Tests, so from that end, we also need to establish a point beyond which a player can be regarded as a bowling specialist only, even though he may have scored the odd run here and there.

It will probably be obvious by now that the simplest (and perhaps most effective) way of establishing our continuum is to divide the number of runs a player has scored by the wickets he has taken. Using our two extremes, Dravid comes out with an allround index of 10823, while Bowes' is 0.41. The index for true allrounders, of course, lies within a much a narrower range, and with absolutely no theoretical basis for my conclusion, other than matching the results with my observations of players over many years, it seems that the figure of 14 is the point of equilibrium, where a player's batting is perfectly balanced with his bowling.

In fact no-one with 20 Tests under their belt has an index of exactly 14, but some come near. Of the megastars in the game's history, Ian Botham (13.58) comes the closest, while Jack Gregory (13.48), Ray Illingworth (15.05) and Chris Cairns (15.23) also seem to be extraordinarily balanced in their contributions with both bat and ball, the latter two obviously having a slight bias in favour of their batting. The closest with a 20-Test minimum is the little remembered nineteeth-century allrounder from England, William Barnes (14.22). The following table lists those whose indices lie in between 13 and 15:

Index	player	        M	runs	wkts
13.02	Mankad, MH	44	2109	162
13.12	Boje, 	N	43	1312	100
13.39	Hirst, GH	24	790	59
13.48	Gregory, JM	24	1146	85
13.58	Botham, IT	102	5200	383
14.22	Barnes, W	21	725	51
14.37	Nasim-ul-Ghani	29	747	52
14.41	Ratnayeke, JR	22	807	56
14.68	Madan Lal, S	39	1042	71

How far can we deviate from this balanced centre before we can no longer call the player an allrounder? At the bowling end, the figure appears to be around 7. Wasim Akram comes in on exactly that figure, while Dominic Cork (6.60) and Ray Lindwall (6.59) just had too much fire-power with the ball compared to their output as batsmen to be considered genuine allrounders. Alan Davidson (7.14) and Richard Hadlee (7.46) are rightly included, as is the rapidly-improving Mitchell Johnson (7.38).

Index	player	         M	runs	wkts
6.53	Wickramasinghe	40	555	85
6.59	Lindwall, RR	61	1502	228
6.60	Cork, DG	37	864	131
6.67	DeFreitas, PAJ	44	934	140
6.80	Schwarz, RO	20	374	55
6.91	Briggs, J	33	815	118
7.00	Wasim Akram	104	2898	414
7.00	Edmonds, PH	51	875	125
7.14	Cairns, BL	43	928	130
7.14	Davidson, AK	44	1328	186
7.25	Hadlee, RJ	86	3124	431
7.38	Johnson, MG	21	694	94
7.46	Hadlee, DR	26	530	71

At the other end, we probably need to wander much further from our centre to capture all those who we might consider batting allrounders. Extending the index from 14 to 100 allows the inclusion of Jeremy Coney (98.81), but excludes Doug Walters (109.33), which might be considered fair enough. Wally Hammond (87.34), Scott Styris (86.37) and Chris Gayle (77.49) are also included.

Index	player	         M	runs	wkts
71.15	Jayasuriya, ST	110	6973	98
74.94	Hathurusingha 	26	1274	17
75.47	Shoaib Malik	23	1132	15
76.33	McCabe, SJ	39	2748	36
77.49	Gayle, CH	82	5502	71
79.30	Styris, SB	29	1586	20
82.00	Ryder, J	20	1394	17
86.37	Cronje, WJ	68	3714	43
87.34	Hammond, WR	85	7249	83
92.20	Astle, NJ	81	4702	51
98.81	Coney, JV	52	2668	27
102.17	Wyatt, RES	40	1839	18
103.74	Umrigar, PR	59	3631	35
109.33	Walters, KD	74	5357	49
109.60	Hazare, VS	30	2192	20

Finally, there happen to be exactly 50 players whose indices fall in between 10 and 20 - these are the players who I consider to be closest to being perfectly balanced in their allround contributions.

Index	player	        M	runs	wkts
10.52	Imran Khan	88	3807	362
10.59	Mohd Rafique	33	1059	100
10.67	Tapash Baisya	21	384	36
10.95	Boyce, KD	21	657	60
10.99	Vettori, DL	92	3220	293
11.05	Pathan, IK	29	1105	100
11.60	Knight, BR	29	812	70
11.63	Harper, RA	25	535	46
11.63	MacGibbon, AR	26	814	70
11.65	Emburey, JE	64	1713	147
11.88	Lewis, CC	32	1105	93
11.94	Intikhab Alam	47	1493	125
11.99	Strang, PA	24	839	70
12.02	Giffen, G	31	1238	103
12.09	Kapil Dev, N	131	5248	434
12.15	O'Keeffe, KJ	24	644	53
12.58	Dharmasena 	31	868	69
13.02	Mankad, MH	44	2109	162
13.12	Boje, 	N	43	1312	100
13.39	Hirst, GH	24	790	59
13.48	Gregory, JM	24	1146	85
13.58	Botham, IT	102	5200	383
14.22	Barnes, W	21	725	51
14.37	Nasim-ul-Ghani	29	747	52
14.41	Ratnayeke, JR	22	807	56
14.68	Madan Lal, S	39	1042	71
15.05	Illingworth, R	61	1836	122
15.06	Holford, DAJ	24	768	51
15.23	Cairns, CL	62	3320	218
16.00	Patel, DN	37	1200	75
16.03	Durani, SA	29	1202	75
16.07	Nadkarni, RG	41	1414	88
16.31	Brown, FR	22	734	45
16.50	Noble, MA	42	1997	121
16.67	Prabhakar, M	39	1600	96
16.72	Flintoff, A	75	3645	218
16.89	Hall, AJ	21	760	45
16.97	Sinclair, JH	25	1069	63
17.32	Julien, BD	24	866	50
17.35	Bailey, TE	61	2290	132
17.40	Miller, KR	55	2958	170
17.66	Binny, RMH	27	830	47
17.83	White, C	30	1052	59
18.31	Rhodes, W	58	2325	127
18.98	Ulyett, G	25	949	50
19.46	Abdul Razzaq	46	1946	100
19.51	Amarnath, L	24	878	45
19.58	Hopkins, AJY	20	509	26
19.62	Atkinson, DStE	22	922	47
19.82	Phadkar, DG	31	1229	62

So there we have it: a classification of players into five groups, Bowlers (Indices 0 to 7), Bowling Allrounders (7 to 10), Balanced Allrounders (10 to 20), Batting Allrounders (20 to 100) and Batsmen (above 100). These boundaries are purely subjective, and will no doubt promote some comment - but don't forget, this is NOT an analysis of who the BEST allrounders are!

Click here for the full list.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kartik on July 17, 2009, 23:23 GMT

    It is too bad that some people don't understand the table, and still think this is a list of the 'best' all-rounders vs. balanced.

    Reading comprehension is not taught in Indian schools.

    The only dispute I have is the arbitrarily chosen number of 14 as the equilibrium. Based on what? Is that the median number that has exactly 50% of the 1467 players on either side? It is not. If that were the case, the equilibrium point should be something closer to 19.

    The bias of 14 vs. 19 shows that cricket considers bowling to be a larger factor in all-rounder credentials than batting. This makes sense, as a batsman may never have to bowl under pressure (Lara, Dravid, Gavasker), but every bowler has to bat as a tailender, and will invariably be faced with situations where their contribution, however small, makes the difference between victory and defeat.

    In other words, a batsman need not ever bowl if he does not want to, but bowlers will have to bat in a crunch situation.

  • kalyan on July 14, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    hiiii ric.. you given a very good analysis. i know how tuff it is to analyse. very nice.. but i think, flintof can be very close to botham as a perfect balanced all rounder. Isn't it ric ?

  • Andy Cooke on July 8, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    Yet further (and testing everyone's patience, no doubt ...), the point on quality versus balance has been made above - the EP is simply a measure of blance between bat and ball in one player. So it could be a "super all rounder" - superior in both fields, "true all rounder" - worth his place in both fields, "threshold all rounder" - can bat at number 7 and bowl as 5th bowler, and "bits and pieces player" - substandard in both disciplines.

    I'd suggest in the Post WWI era, that the threshold lines would be:

    Threshold: Bat Ave 27.5, Bowl Ave 39.2, Bowl S/R 91 True allrounder: Bat Ave 37.7, Bowl Ave 32.5, Bowl S/R 70 (From Statsguru for #7 batsman and #5 bowler at "threshold"; #1-6 batsman and #1-4 bowler at "true", minimum 30 balls per innings bowled)

  • Andy Cooke on July 8, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    Well, I've had a poke around Statsguru to get decent figures for the above. I looked at 3 "Eras" - "Pre WWI" (uncovered pitched), 1920-1960 (as per Anath's look at pre 1960/Post 1960) and 1960-present. Plus, of course, overall. I found that the 1920-1960 and 1960-present eras were very similar, so looking just at "Pre WWI" and "Post WWI":

    Top 6 batsmen, average: Pre WWI - 27.78 Post WWI - 37.71 Overall - 36.98

    Bowlers 1-4, minimum 30 balls bowled (filter out part-timers and unused bowlers to get dedicated bowlers): Pre WWI - 2.23 W/Inn Post WWI - 1.92 W/Inn Overall - 1.94 W/Inn

    Balanced allrounder therefore: Pre WWI: 27.78/2.23 = EP 12.46 Post WWI: 37.71/1.92 = EP 19.64 Overall: 36.98/1.94 = EP 19.06

    The Pre WWI stats are strongly outweighed by post WWI stats, of course, but the change in scores from those eras I felt was worth noting.

    Ric's Comment: Thanks for this, Andy - your thoughful contribution is most welcome.

  • Andy Cooke on July 7, 2009, 21:25 GMT

    Excellent and thought-provoking analysis. I'd agree that the best way to find the EP would be to divide the average score of a top-order batsman (someone who's inarguably there for his batting - around 38?) with the average number of wickets per innings of a bowler (so 4-5 bowlers per side would be 10/4.5 = 2.22) (Or somewhere close to that, anyway - these are back-of-the-envelope figures).

    Therefore, the EP would be 38/2.22 = just over 17.

    Of course, run-outs and wickets taken by dedicated batsmen (like KP, Bell, Ponting) would reduce the number of wickets per bowler below 2.22 and increase the EP. Interestingly, the lauded Keith Miller at 17.40 looks fairly close to that. Better estimates would be given if you've got the stats for top-order batsmen averages and number of wickets per dedicated bowler. I'd imagine they'd vary over the eras as well.

  • Monkey on June 27, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    14 definitely seems a bit on the low side.

    If this is an equilibrium point, you'd be saying that a 5'ver and a score of 70 would be equal contributions? Surely even a 4 wicket haul is worth more than a measly 56?

    All that said, the only real complaint is that bowler's roles tend to be more varied that pure wicket taking. A bowler who's main prerogative is applying pressure through drying up runs may not take the wickets but is of equal value to a team. (This tends to overstate the allround abilities of certain players such as Boje - definitely a bowling alrounder - and Symcox - definitely *not* more of a batsman than a bowler...)

    I'd go with a higher equilibrium point, but also change the equilibrium calculation to be (Bat avg/(wickets per match))

  • Mark H on June 26, 2009, 6:28 GMT

    Non-mathematically, my gut feeling looking at the list is that the number is more around 16, as against 14. The ongoing comments/arguments re Kallis are strange - he would play for South Africa as a batsman alone (if he couldn't bowl) in any era, but would be unlikely to make any South African side on bowling alone (if he batted at #11). Ric, well thought out and presented leading to an enthralling discussion.

  • trumpers_ghost on June 26, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    Great article, like your ideas. Done some statistical analysis to help with determining the "balance point". It is easy for us to determine a relatively equal worth in terms of brilliance. ie a batting average of ~50 is roughly eqivilent of a bowling avg of ~ 23. However such a player has never existed, so I've invented one (a few actually). I've combined the results of 2 players that roughly fit those averages together, using players that have played a lot of tests, for the same team in the same era. I've then used only the first # of tests played by each player (this figure is in brackets) and then divided player A's wickets into player B's runs and have come up with the following ratios: 1. Ricky Ponting-McGrath (100) =18.3 2. Sir Isaac Malcolm Alexander Marshall (80)=19.6 3. Imran Khan Miandad (80) = 16.4 4. Greg Lillee-Chappell (70) = 16.8

    This is still fairly raw analysis, however going by this, I think somewhere between 16.5 and 18.5. cheers

  • abhijit on June 24, 2009, 18:15 GMT

    One thought on your index and the way the groups panned out. Perhaps taking logs of your index will provide more symmetric and satisfying cutpoints for the groups.

  • Ahmed Rasheed on June 24, 2009, 15:13 GMT

    Ric, Great Job. Tho i would like to say that most of the people wud be interested in who the "best" "Balanced" allrounder is.. If u cud find the time to expand the analysis further to take into account perhaps the averages, bowling strike rats, etc. That would leave out a few shall i say mediocre players who are balanced but Not Great and make this anyalysis more useful for us people who are always looking for the answer of "Who is the Best n Balanced (in short Greatest) ALlrounder" Great job though.. Cheers.

  • Kartik on July 17, 2009, 23:23 GMT

    It is too bad that some people don't understand the table, and still think this is a list of the 'best' all-rounders vs. balanced.

    Reading comprehension is not taught in Indian schools.

    The only dispute I have is the arbitrarily chosen number of 14 as the equilibrium. Based on what? Is that the median number that has exactly 50% of the 1467 players on either side? It is not. If that were the case, the equilibrium point should be something closer to 19.

    The bias of 14 vs. 19 shows that cricket considers bowling to be a larger factor in all-rounder credentials than batting. This makes sense, as a batsman may never have to bowl under pressure (Lara, Dravid, Gavasker), but every bowler has to bat as a tailender, and will invariably be faced with situations where their contribution, however small, makes the difference between victory and defeat.

    In other words, a batsman need not ever bowl if he does not want to, but bowlers will have to bat in a crunch situation.

  • kalyan on July 14, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    hiiii ric.. you given a very good analysis. i know how tuff it is to analyse. very nice.. but i think, flintof can be very close to botham as a perfect balanced all rounder. Isn't it ric ?

  • Andy Cooke on July 8, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    Yet further (and testing everyone's patience, no doubt ...), the point on quality versus balance has been made above - the EP is simply a measure of blance between bat and ball in one player. So it could be a "super all rounder" - superior in both fields, "true all rounder" - worth his place in both fields, "threshold all rounder" - can bat at number 7 and bowl as 5th bowler, and "bits and pieces player" - substandard in both disciplines.

    I'd suggest in the Post WWI era, that the threshold lines would be:

    Threshold: Bat Ave 27.5, Bowl Ave 39.2, Bowl S/R 91 True allrounder: Bat Ave 37.7, Bowl Ave 32.5, Bowl S/R 70 (From Statsguru for #7 batsman and #5 bowler at "threshold"; #1-6 batsman and #1-4 bowler at "true", minimum 30 balls per innings bowled)

  • Andy Cooke on July 8, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    Well, I've had a poke around Statsguru to get decent figures for the above. I looked at 3 "Eras" - "Pre WWI" (uncovered pitched), 1920-1960 (as per Anath's look at pre 1960/Post 1960) and 1960-present. Plus, of course, overall. I found that the 1920-1960 and 1960-present eras were very similar, so looking just at "Pre WWI" and "Post WWI":

    Top 6 batsmen, average: Pre WWI - 27.78 Post WWI - 37.71 Overall - 36.98

    Bowlers 1-4, minimum 30 balls bowled (filter out part-timers and unused bowlers to get dedicated bowlers): Pre WWI - 2.23 W/Inn Post WWI - 1.92 W/Inn Overall - 1.94 W/Inn

    Balanced allrounder therefore: Pre WWI: 27.78/2.23 = EP 12.46 Post WWI: 37.71/1.92 = EP 19.64 Overall: 36.98/1.94 = EP 19.06

    The Pre WWI stats are strongly outweighed by post WWI stats, of course, but the change in scores from those eras I felt was worth noting.

    Ric's Comment: Thanks for this, Andy - your thoughful contribution is most welcome.

  • Andy Cooke on July 7, 2009, 21:25 GMT

    Excellent and thought-provoking analysis. I'd agree that the best way to find the EP would be to divide the average score of a top-order batsman (someone who's inarguably there for his batting - around 38?) with the average number of wickets per innings of a bowler (so 4-5 bowlers per side would be 10/4.5 = 2.22) (Or somewhere close to that, anyway - these are back-of-the-envelope figures).

    Therefore, the EP would be 38/2.22 = just over 17.

    Of course, run-outs and wickets taken by dedicated batsmen (like KP, Bell, Ponting) would reduce the number of wickets per bowler below 2.22 and increase the EP. Interestingly, the lauded Keith Miller at 17.40 looks fairly close to that. Better estimates would be given if you've got the stats for top-order batsmen averages and number of wickets per dedicated bowler. I'd imagine they'd vary over the eras as well.

  • Monkey on June 27, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    14 definitely seems a bit on the low side.

    If this is an equilibrium point, you'd be saying that a 5'ver and a score of 70 would be equal contributions? Surely even a 4 wicket haul is worth more than a measly 56?

    All that said, the only real complaint is that bowler's roles tend to be more varied that pure wicket taking. A bowler who's main prerogative is applying pressure through drying up runs may not take the wickets but is of equal value to a team. (This tends to overstate the allround abilities of certain players such as Boje - definitely a bowling alrounder - and Symcox - definitely *not* more of a batsman than a bowler...)

    I'd go with a higher equilibrium point, but also change the equilibrium calculation to be (Bat avg/(wickets per match))

  • Mark H on June 26, 2009, 6:28 GMT

    Non-mathematically, my gut feeling looking at the list is that the number is more around 16, as against 14. The ongoing comments/arguments re Kallis are strange - he would play for South Africa as a batsman alone (if he couldn't bowl) in any era, but would be unlikely to make any South African side on bowling alone (if he batted at #11). Ric, well thought out and presented leading to an enthralling discussion.

  • trumpers_ghost on June 26, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    Great article, like your ideas. Done some statistical analysis to help with determining the "balance point". It is easy for us to determine a relatively equal worth in terms of brilliance. ie a batting average of ~50 is roughly eqivilent of a bowling avg of ~ 23. However such a player has never existed, so I've invented one (a few actually). I've combined the results of 2 players that roughly fit those averages together, using players that have played a lot of tests, for the same team in the same era. I've then used only the first # of tests played by each player (this figure is in brackets) and then divided player A's wickets into player B's runs and have come up with the following ratios: 1. Ricky Ponting-McGrath (100) =18.3 2. Sir Isaac Malcolm Alexander Marshall (80)=19.6 3. Imran Khan Miandad (80) = 16.4 4. Greg Lillee-Chappell (70) = 16.8

    This is still fairly raw analysis, however going by this, I think somewhere between 16.5 and 18.5. cheers

  • abhijit on June 24, 2009, 18:15 GMT

    One thought on your index and the way the groups panned out. Perhaps taking logs of your index will provide more symmetric and satisfying cutpoints for the groups.

  • Ahmed Rasheed on June 24, 2009, 15:13 GMT

    Ric, Great Job. Tho i would like to say that most of the people wud be interested in who the "best" "Balanced" allrounder is.. If u cud find the time to expand the analysis further to take into account perhaps the averages, bowling strike rats, etc. That would leave out a few shall i say mediocre players who are balanced but Not Great and make this anyalysis more useful for us people who are always looking for the answer of "Who is the Best n Balanced (in short Greatest) ALlrounder" Great job though.. Cheers.

  • poopsie on June 24, 2009, 12:48 GMT

    I think you will find the index figure for a perfectly balanced all rounder is actually 17.40

    Ric's comment: Why?

  • ARun on June 24, 2009, 1:43 GMT

    Nice analysis. But i would think that equilibrium varies from era to era. So, for e.g, 15 may be fine in 1980s, 20 in '90s, 25 now, something else in 1950s,60s,etc. So a Botham may come close in 80s, a Klusener, McMillan or Razzaq in 90s, a Bravo or Oram nowadays but not Flintoff or Kallis..a Vinoo Mankad in '50s will also come close as batting was tough then and equilibrium would be much lower than this decade's.

    I think its too difficult to find a single par covering 130 years of test cricket. Btw, i would like u to come up with a list for ODIs and possibly one where stats of both are combined.

  • Fahad on June 23, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    Good and thought provoking article, partcicularly the concept of buffer zone between types of allroudners. Though what I understand is that taking the ratio of bowling and batting average may well be the method to simply find the balance of the allrounder. Cheers

  • Naveed Khursheed on June 23, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    Superb article, I think one way of calculating the Equilibrium Point (EP) would be by assuming that if the same person were to score maximum test runs and take maximum test wickets he/she would be the Most Balanced All-Rounder, this way we divide the maximum runs ever scored by a test cricketer (Sachin Tendulkar - 12773 runs) by the maximum number of wicket ever taken by a test player (Muttiah Muralitharan - 770 wkts), this way the EP comes out to be 12773/770 = 16.59 ~ 17. I think that is the EP for the most balanced all-rounder.

  • Raghav Bihani on June 20, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    The 30 runs by 2 wkts giving a fig, of 15 sounds good but is flawed. In tests tailenders get to bat and bring down the batting avgs. However, in tests only bowlers and allrounders bowl and bowling figures are not worsened. Imagine if dravid/lara were forced to bowl in every test like martin/mcgrath have to bat when 9 wkts fall.

    Same logic for runs of dravid/lara/ponting divided by kumble/warne/murali. The batting trio never got to feast on each other's bowling whereas the bowling trio always benefited on poor batting of each other.

    Thus logics of 14-15 as mean are flawed, can be corrected.

    For the first one divide the runs avg. of pure batsmen by 2 wkts. As the top six avg. 38 the mean is 19. For the 2nd where we divide runs of top batsmen by wkts of top bowlers, remove wkts of 9,10 and 11 from bowlers tally. This would bump up the figure of 16-17 by roughly 25% to 21.

    Thus I would keep the mean at 20 and range at 15-25.

    PS: Who never took a wkt or made a run is perfectly balanced

  • Jeff on June 19, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    Continued...

    ... for example, would Botham, Imran or Kapil Dev have been picked for their countries purely for their bowling, even if they were rabbits as batsmen? The answer is empahatically yes (at least for most of their careers.)

    However, if they couldn't bowl, would they have held a regular test place as a batsman? I seriously doubt that (you could agrue that Imran did at the end of his career, but I think he was probably picked as much for hsi experience & captaincy as his batting.)

    Looking at the Ric's complete list, Craig White comes closest to 18. I think that White couldn't have held a place as either a batsman OR a bowler and only played because he could do both quite well - and therefore he was "balanced".

    Of the superstar all-rounders, Keith Miller is closest.

    As Jason pointed out earlier, he batted 5 and opened the bowling and from what i've read on him (too young to have seen him) he could have held a place in the Aussie team for his batting and bowling.

  • Jeff on June 19, 2009, 8:10 GMT

    After reading Andrew Searle's comments, I was inspired to take a look at some figures myself.

    As Andrew says, if you take every player who played test cricket and divided the runs scored by the wkts takem, you end up with an index of about 31.

    However, this doesn't allow for the fact that all 11 players in a team score runs, but usually only around half get the chance to take wickets.

    I therefore decided to look at only the top 100 highest run scorers and the top 100 wicket takers. The index for these players comes out at almost exactly 18.

    If you increase the list to the top 200, top 300 etc, the index will gradually increase towards overall average of 31, reflecting the fact that more players scored runs than took wkts.

    I therefore now think that a balanced all-rounder should have an index of 18.

    Ric's list shows that most of those players who we think of as all-rounders are more bowlers than batsman...and this makes some logical sense...

    TBC

  • Orville D'Silva on June 18, 2009, 22:00 GMT

    An interesting way to go about analysing the most balanced all rounders. However, I think there are couple of issues you need to consider: - The number of runs scored on average has increased over the past few decades. Thus does this mean that the ratio should be greater than 14 for say the past decade? - There is a greater emphasis on the bowling alrounder's batting these days (look at Irfan Pathan, etc.) and so while these may qualify to be an "allrounder" under your analysis, this instead shows the change in priorities for some teams nowadays.

    Nevertheless, a good piece of analysis - I look forward to a similar piece on ODI and perhaps even T20 players!

  • Arvind on June 18, 2009, 19:44 GMT

    Hi Ric I did some analysis on the analysis of Test alrounders. You may find it interesting as it is essentially based on your ideas. I am very curious to know your opinion on the analysis. Also if you find it appropriate, you may link it to cricinfo - ItFigures.

    http://rightarmoverfast.blogspot.com/

    right arm over Arvind

  • Mark on June 17, 2009, 21:27 GMT

    A fascinating, original and brilliant analysis. Forget an opinion or two. Was Botham balanced or not? Was Imran Khan better than Botham or Kapil? Who was more balanced? It doesn't really matter.

    Ian Botham was leading wicket-taker, yes, but only at a stage of his career when in terminal decline when arguably a more reliable batsman than bowler! If you look at the traditional definition of an all-rounder as "someone who is worth his place in the side for both batting and bowling", Imran Khan and Intikab Alam were both more feared by batsmen than by bowlers, although both could do damage with the ball. Richard Hadlee was a very great bowler, but his batting figures were far inferior even though helped no end by some cheap runs against weak opposition. Andrew Flintoff has been playing at a pivotal #6 and taking the new ball. And Jacques Kallis' greatest wicket-taking feats have been againsr Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, although he is a useful change bowler against better opposition.

  • Andrew Searle on June 17, 2009, 13:43 GMT

    What is a 'balanced' allrounder? Someone who bats at 5-6 in the order and bowls No. 3? Maybe he avearges 30 with the bat and 30 with the ball?

    I would say that from the 1920 tests that were played, 1761561 runs were scored and only 56601 wickets were taken ... that average is 31.12 ... Now shouldn't the 'balanced' all-rounder have an average 31.12 runs per wicket taken ...

    But then once the records are filtered by 1000 runs and 100 wickets 53 records are found ... Imran Khan is in the middle of the list with a 10.52 average ... This taken into account would make the most balanced allrounder 10:1 ...

    There are only 6 allrounders in this group with more than 20:1 and 12 less than 5:1 ...

    So in my opinion the ratio is closer to 10:1 for those who have 1000:100.

  • Andy on June 17, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    Read some of the cynical comments here and firstly I don't think they read before posting their diatribe and secondly I'm not sure how much they know about cricket. I've followed every series played for about 30 years and I find this a wonderful analysis. It's not about finding the perfect all rounder or the best all rounder of all time, it's about showing a persons contributions in both disciplines. If you watched any of the players over the years then I think the findings are pretty accurate to the types of players they are. Sobers and Kallis have almost identical stats. Sobers has a high test score of 365 n.o but he would never ever have got a 8 for or 9 for. His score is about the correct place. Imran Khan for example was easily capable of taking 8 or 9 wickets in an innings but he would never have got a triple hundred.

    Great analysis and one of the best things I've read on here.

    Ric's comment: Thank you for your positive comments, Andy.

  • Jeff on June 15, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    The index curve for Rhodes is incredible - after 10 tests it was 2.4 and then gradually increased to a max of 20.2 after 52 tests and then dropped a little bit to end at 18.3.

    I've looked at the "Big 4" all-rounders of the 80s and it's fascinating stuff.

    Botham had an index of 9.0 after 10 tests - it gradually increased but was still under 10 after 44 tests, it then steadily climbed to 13.6 by the end.

    Imran's index stayed pretty much between 7 & 9 for most of his career until rising in the last 15 or so matches.

    Hadlee was remarkably consistent - index between 7.0 and 8.4 for the last 64 tests of his career.

    Kapil Dev too was very consistent, particularly in the latter part of his career - in his last 51 tests over 8 years, his index amazingly remained between 11.6 and 12.2.

    Maybe Kapil Dev was the most consistently balanced all-rounder ever?

  • Jeff on June 15, 2009, 9:44 GMT

    Had a thought re: my comment around a player moving more towards a bowling all-rounder as his career develops - maybe Flintoff fits the bill?

    After 10 matches, his index was 36 as he only took 7 wkts in his 1st 10 tests.

    His index then hovered between 20 and 25 until his 46th test and then dropped below 20 and has never returned.

    It was 18.0 after 50 tests, 17.5 after 60, 17.0 after 70 and currently stands at 16.7 after 75 matches.

    Ric's comment: Thanks, Jeff, the Flintoff example is fascinating. You've taken this idea on to another step - tracking the indices as they change over time for individuals. Wilf Rhodes might be interesting - low to high, then back to low again?

  • Jeff on June 15, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    Fantastic analysis Ric - I found it late but i'm glad I did.

    I love the simplicity of it and the results pass the important "kitchen logic" test - they feel about right.

    The comments about changes over time is interesting - Wilfred Rhodes is probably the best example of this - started as a number 11 and ended up as an opener - and ends up nicely in the middle over his whole career.

    I think this is the extreme example of a common trait (particularly seamers) - for example, both Imran and Botham moved gradually towards the batting end of the spectrum as their careers progressed.

    It's probably to do with the strains of bowling on the ageing body - there aren't many top class seamers aged 35+ (McGrath, Walsh etc excepted)but if you can bat a bit, you can keep your place in the team (and be used as a change bowler.)

    It's difficult to think of a player who moved the other way (ie started as mainly a batter and became more of a bowler as his career progressed)

  • Jason on June 15, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    Well one way to argue is that the most prolific batsman of all-time (Sachin) has 12773 runs, while the most prolific bowler (Murali) has 770 wickets. Divide wickets into runs and you get 16.588 which I like a bit better than 14. If you use Warne/Lara to leave out current players you get 16.883. You could even do it throughout history looking at the run scoring and wicket taking leaders at various points in history to get an idea of how the ratio might have changed over time. Anyway that almost 17 figure gets closer towards Keith Miller, my personal pick for the purest all-rounder. Batted at 5 and opened the bowling, so obviously good at both unlike some others who batted at 7.

    David Barry's figure of 14.8 is reasonable too, so I think you are pretty close to the mark Ric.

    Ric's comment: I like your approach here, Jason. Selecting the extremes (the highest wicket taker and run scorer) could lead to some distortion, but doing it repetitively over the ages might smooth it out - well done!

  • keyur on June 13, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    on the basis of the data i have provided, i believe that 20 is the balance value. so all players with a ratio of between 10 to 30 are equally good (or bad!) with both bat and ball and are balanced all-rounders.

  • keyur on June 13, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    i don't agree with your arbitrary selection of 14 as "balance" point. Here are a few reasons why: 1) the best test batsmen have scored roughly 80- 90 runs per test on an average (ponting, sachin, lara,..) with only one man scoring more than 100 runs per test(6996 from 52 tests). the best bowlers have taken 4-5 wickets per test on an average with only one bowler taking 7 per test (189 from 27 tests) compare 80-90 runs and 4-5 wickets and the ratio seems to be 20. (2) 5 wicket hauls and 100s are equally important so balance = 100/5 = 20. ditto 10-wkt match hauls and 200. (3) max run in inn by bat=400(lara), max wkt in match=19(laker) ratio nearly=20. (3) a balanced all-rounder for a captain is someone who can play at no. 7, scores 60-80 runs per test and gets 3-4 wickets. ratio is yet again 20. (4) lastly, i respect botham and mankad, but the others in the near to 14 list are bowling all-rounders(boje, madanlal) not balanced ones. so the balance has to be near 20 not 14.

  • Engle on June 11, 2009, 13:57 GMT

    1. Best All-Rounder = Total Batting + Total Bowling points (where points = ability)

    2. Most Balanced All-Rounder = Least difference between Batting and Bowling points

    3. Combination of above 2 (ability + balance). Best Balanced All-Rounder = Both Batting and Bowling points at high level mark with marginal difference.

    Points were allocated on merit by LG, and how they came up with them is another debate.

    However, what it did show what that Ravi Shastri had the least difference, followed by Tony Greig (both of their batting slightly edged their bowling)

    The one all-rounder who had high batting points AND high bowling points (although the difference was marginally greater than Shastri/Greig) was indisputably Ian Botham. He was marginally more a bowler than batsman.

    Kudos to Ric, any analysis will come under intense scrutiny and none are perfect. It is the scrutiny more than the result that is gratifying.

    Ric's Comment: Thanks, Engle, it seems a valid way of determining balance, although it brings in another variable in "points", and as you say, how they are derived is deserving of scrutiny. Shastri's bowling average of 40 would suggest that is his weaker suite, lined up against his creditable batting average of 36. Its interesting that the balance index for his first-class career is almost identical to his Test one, whereas for Greig, its 19, which would make him balanced. Greig's Test batting average is around 30% higher than his first-class one, and this confirms my feeling that for Tests, his classification as a batting allrounder is deserved. Its all interesting stuff!

  • Mart on June 11, 2009, 12:59 GMT

    Well for one thing you managed to get a lot of commentary and thinking going about this subject. That on its own makes this an excellent blog...well done. The next step will be to incorporate some of the ideas above and see if you can come up with an improved model. Dont stop now....

    Ric's comment: Yes, I don't know what it is about what I write that gets people reacting! But that's the idea - to get people thinking about stats beyond the mundane ones you see on the back pages of the newspaper. Thanks for your comment - much appreciated.

  • Arjun on June 11, 2009, 11:10 GMT

    Hi Ric,

    Suppose player A plays 30 tests and scores 1400 runs and takes 100 wickets. Player B plays 30 tests and scores 2100 hundred runs and takes 100 wickets. According to you, Player A is balanced allrounder, while Player B is batting allrounder, all this after Player B's contibution is more to his Team. I think all the player who contribute above 50 runs and 2 wickets per test are balanced allroundrs.

    Arjun.

    Ric's Comment: You are correct in your assessment of Players A and B. However, I don't agree with your last statement. Someone who scores 150 runs per Test and takes 2 wickets per Test is contributing more with the bat than with the ball, and would surely be a batting allrounder?

  • giri on June 11, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    in ref to my earlier post:sorry abt that. the "best" in the last line shouldve been "balanced". i do think there is a co-relation between the "best" and the most "balanced". i mean, if u are a good allrounder, u must be balanced (with the exception of kallis). flintoff, botham, kapil dev, imran khan and to a certain extent, hadlee, bear testimony to this but the converse need not be true: if u r balanced u need not be "good". as gph said, a follow-up blog on the relation between "best" and "balanced" will be interesting.

    Ric's comment: I think what you say is true about the good allrounders being more or less balanced. Kallis is certainly an exception - he scores twice as many runs per wicket taken as his quality allround peers. It could be argued on the basis of this that my analysis proves that Kallis is an exceptional cricketer, dare I say it, Bradmanesque in his output.

  • Ian on June 10, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    Well Done. I believe the perfectly balanced allrounder, for this example, would be the runs scored by the highest run getting, Tendulkar at 12773, combined with the highest wicket taker, Muralitharan at 770. This gives an index of 16.6 which is just above your reconmendation of 14. However, i would love to see a combination of this post with previous posts about the best test batsmen and best test bowler.

  • Ritwik on June 10, 2009, 16:59 GMT

    Of course, what i wrote previously would perhaps give you a higher than correct figure, because the best batsmen typically last longer in the game than the best bowlers - you could reduce it a little to account for that. And, runs/wkts is to begin with, a measure that seems complete only when complemented by the balance in the bowling avg/batting avg.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on June 10, 2009, 16:55 GMT

    Dear Ric Finlay, I totally agree with that the balanced one is Sir Ian Botham, a man with 14 centuries including one double hundred too and also 22 half centuries. It means 50 or plus scores are 36. In bowling 5wkts 27 times and 4 wkts 17 times with 10 wkts per match 4 times with 120 catches as well. Amazing player as an all-rounder. He played 12 matches as a captain also. I think he is better than Kapil Dev as a bowler and also as a batsman. From other angle Kapil Dev is the only one with more than 4000 runs and also more than 400 wickets in test. After Botham, next one is Imran Khan with six hundreds and also 18 half centuries, although he is better bowler than him. Also Imran is better captain also than him too. Richard Hadlee is better bowler than all of them but his batting caliber is lowest in all fours. Kallis and Sobers are batting all-rounders. They are only good bowlers.

  • Engle on June 10, 2009, 16:48 GMT

    While I agree that the intent is to identify the most 'balanced' AR. However, my thinking is that it should be batting quality in relation to bowling quality (rather than batting quantity in relation to bowling quantity). In late 2006, Deloitte did a ranking of AR based on accumulated merit points for batting and bowling. Tony Greig had the least difference between batting and bowling points. So, put another way, who do you think is the more balanced AR ? Botham (Ric) or T.Greig (Deloitte)?

    With the proviso, that I dont recall the Deloitte details.

    Ric's comment: I would like to see how Deloittes determined the batting and bowling points. My recollection is that Greig always brought more batting to his game than bowling, whereas Botham was a much more even player.

  • Ritwik on June 10, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    Hi Ric, interesting analysis though the figure of 14 is definitely too low. To come up with an accurate figure, using only your simplistic runs vs wickets comparison, you can try this - take the list of the top 100 wicket takers and top 100 run makers. Find out the figure for each (batsmen, bowler)pair. Take the geometric average. Then, convert it to the logarithm. On this logarithmic scale, you will not have the issue of such bands as 10-20and 20 - 100, and simple, more intuitive and more appealing ranges. You can always convert it back to the normal scale if you wish to simplify it for the blog!

  • Paul on June 10, 2009, 14:35 GMT

    Does it not make more sense to run this on a per innings basis, since on the batting side someone like Boje would average less innings per test match than someone like Kallis.

    Ric's comment: I am not sure how this would enhance the concept of balance...

  • Mart on June 10, 2009, 14:28 GMT

    Ingenious! but your method is flawed. A better approach as mentioned in another comment above is to evaluate bowling and batting seperately, determine the rank of the individual for each and then use that to decide how "balanced" or otherwise the player is. The fact that a person has a certain ratio of wickets to runs cannot be a determinant of this balance bacause the number of wickets a player can take is effectively capped (only 10 per innings) while the number of runs you can make, is not constrained in the same way. As a result a player who is both a better bowler and batter than another will come out as more of a batting alrounder even if in effect he is much more "balanced" ie more evenly skilled at both. You calculation (and therefore definition) of balance is unfortunately meaningless as it does not capture this. Use the all time list of batting and bowling performance seperately to determine relative strengths and you will find a more realistic and valuable outcome.

    Ric's Comment: In a sense, I had already taken care of the theoretically unlimited number of runs a batsman can score by having a much larger range for the batting allrounder (20 to 100) compared to the bowling allrounder (7 to 10). Your idea of using rank may work very well, but you are then faced with the task and complication of determining rankings. I wanted to keep it simple.

  • Tom on June 10, 2009, 12:10 GMT

    Interesting indeed, and I was glad David Barry was able to put some figures to my initial thoughts on the relative contributions of batsmen and bowlers to a side. I suppose a true measure of balance would be their contribution to the side they actually played in. Kallis, for example, comes out as a batting all-rounder as Donald/Pollock were the strike bowlers, whereas Botham was often a strike bowler in his own right.

    Have to say I'm not really sure if the concept of "balance" actually has any merit without actually including some measure of quality too, but I guess that wasn't the point.

  • Ananth on June 10, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    Ric Having received about 100 comments similar to Kunal's I emphathize with you. Your article is an excellent example of a simple methodology which can be used to explain a very important concept, balance. It is similar to the ODI Batting Index which I had come out with earlier (Runs per Inns x Strike Rate). The high numbers do not interest me that much since there are batsmen who have lucked their way into a wicket or two. If and when Dravid takes a second wicket his index will halve to 5000+, does not matter a whit. However the low-10 are a wonderful group. You might remember the "Worst Batsmen" article. These 10, viz., Martin, Chandrasekhar, Reid, Valentine, Maninder Singh, Doshi, McGrath, Danish Kaneria , Alderman and Gupte could walk in there straight. Unfortunately Mbangwa who led that table there does not qualify here. Just for interest his index value will be 1.0625 and he comes in between Valentine and Maninder, pushing Subash Gupte out. Once again, a lovely piece. Ananth

  • Noman Yousuf Dandor on June 10, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    Nice article Ric, a new way to look at the 'balanced all-rounder'. Though I believe going back to dividing the bowling average with batting average (or vice versa) or subtracting the two would still be a better way to find the balanced allrounder. Plus you can slot in bowlers' strike rate somewhere to make it more interesting. Cheers! NYD

  • Sri on June 10, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    Very interesting article. I was especially keen to identify where the four great allrounders (when I was growing up) figure based on your analysis. Kapil Dev (13.09), Imran (10.52), Botham (13.58) Hadlee (7.46) and as it turns out, Botham seems to come out tops even here as the perfectly balanced allrounder. Would I rate Boje (13.12) or Madan Lal (14.68) as more balanced than the other three? Doubtful

  • Sri on June 10, 2009, 9:51 GMT

    Very interesting article. I was especially keen to identify where the four great allrounders (when I was growing up) figure based on your analysis. Kapil Dev (13.09), Imran (10.52), Botham (13.58) Hadlee (7.46) and as it turns out, Botham seems to come out tops even here as the perfectly balanced allrounder. Would I rate Boje (13.12) or Madan Lal (14.68) as more balanced than the other three? Doubtful

    Ric's comment: Boje and Madan Lal, within their limited overall contributions, WERE more balanced than the other three. Don't confuse balance with ability.

  • Anthony on June 10, 2009, 9:49 GMT

    Your preposition that Kallis is a batting allrounder is based on the flawed assumption that 14 is the right number for balance. Kallis is the only all rounder whose batting average is consistently well above his bowling average. That comes about because he is both a superb batsman and a superb bowler. He is one of the few players who rates for inclusion in a test team based on just his batting and just his bowling. To my mind, that is the definition of a truly balanced allrounder (to say nothing of his slip catching).

    Ric's comment: Anthony, Kallis has scord 39 runs for every wicket he took. Apart from Carl Hooper,no one with at least 100 wickets has scored that many runs per wicket taken. He is clearly at one end of the spectrum - he is almost as unbalanced as it is possible to be with so many wickets. Don't forget, I am comparing his contribution as a batsmen with his contribution as a bowler - not his total contribution overall!

  • gph on June 10, 2009, 9:39 GMT

    ric, a question/idea for you.

    why are we concerned with balance? i ask because it seems logically possible to have a thoroughly ordinary test cricketer with the perfect allrounder balance. for eg, he has taken 20 wickets and scored 280 runs in 10 tests (by the measure of 14, of course). what should we care if a player like this is a perfectly balanced allrounder? not much; as both you and i say.

    i think the more interesting question - which stems from the research you've done for this article - is to what extent balance and ability align.

    i reckon you bash out a follow-up piece to this one that explores this relationship. i'd be very interested to see what results you find.

    Ric's comment: I was motivated initially by the challenge of quantifying what we loosely called, for example, a "batting allrounder", and discovered that the simple division I did provided a solution. The idea of "balance" came as a result of this. I absolutely accept this is an academic exercise that selectors will never use; there is no way in the world that a player will be selected because he is "balanced" as we are considering here. Kallis is a super cricketer, but some seem upset that he does not rate as a balanced allrounder. It doesn't matter, he will always be first selected anyway. In answer to your final question, I contend there will be no relationship between balance and ability - the continuum I supplied in the full list is liberally and randomly dotted with the megastars of the game's history, with no obvious grouping of these players.

  • giri on June 10, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    i think ur choice of 14 is too objective.as u say this is not a post on the best allrounders, but acc. to ur analysis botham is the most "balanced" and he is also universally acknowledged to be one of the best allrounders in test cricket. in ur reply to craig u say "The 14 I chose is not based "nothing at all". Its based on observing the players around that figure, and those further away from it, and using that to make a judgement." does that mean u have already decided botham is the best and chose 14 accordingly?

    Ric's comment: Who was "best" doesn't come into it, Giri. It was my subjective judgement based on observing those I thought had contributed relatively equally with bat and ball. Others, like David Barry, have subsequently contributed more rigorous evidence for the figure being around what I suspected.

  • Oliver Webber on June 10, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    I agree with Engle - I think averages have to come into any meaningful discussion of all-rounders. Otherwise, someone who takes 100 wickets at 45, and scores 1400 runs at 18, is an ideal alrounder - perfectly balanced in the sense that they would make a useful no 9 and an emergency bowler to turn to when everyone else fails! Early in his career, Botham averaged nearly 40 with the bat and just over 20 with the ball - which he couldn't keep up of course. But if you set benchmark averages for batting (say, over 50 these days) and bowling (say, under 25?) for "outstanding", all-rounders' averages could be compared with these, and you could compare batting and bowling "scores". The calibration of the scales would be the interesting and debatable part, of course! Is a batting average of 40 "better" than a bowling average of 28, eg? That's where the fun starts!

    Ric's comment: I'm not sure that averages need to come into the analysis that I was attempting. All I would say about the guy who scored 1400 runs and took 100 wickets is that he was a perfectly balanced allrounder, with his batting output roughly equivialent to the bowling output. I'm certainly not saying he is an "ideal allrounder". Your question at the end of your comment is an interesting one, and deserves closer examination. Thanks for your contribution!

  • Shankar on June 10, 2009, 8:35 GMT

    I would like to second Engle's thought. Its just not quantification that is required. From the looks of it, Freddie, Kapil, Ian Botham, Kallis, looks more balanced but not reflected on the stats. Also it should be remembered, by and large cricket has become a batsman's game over a period of time. So, certain qualified data has to be considered as well, don't you think?

  • WPHE on June 10, 2009, 8:28 GMT

    As pointed out by David Barry, the runs are shared between eleven players, but the wickets are only shared between about five bowlers in an innings, giving an average of two wickets per innings. Dividing the overall average by two gives a balance of about 15 - rough, but pretty close to the 14 mark subjectively arrived at.

  • Gizza on June 10, 2009, 8:08 GMT

    The comments above whinging that their favourite all-rounder isn't on the list should be realise this is NOT a list of the best all-rounders.

    The problem with using averages and strike rates is that again quality comes into the equation whereas this article is only analysing balance. It is technically possible that a Bangladeshi or Dutchman is the most balanced cricketer in the world. It has nothing to do with how good he is.

    David Barry's formula seems to be the most mathematically logical and accurate. A figure of 14.8 sounds close to the median (the average is useless, since as we know 30.01 is just too high).

    Great stuff Ric! Keep it up, your stats analyses are more interesting than the other cricinfo writers.

  • gph on June 10, 2009, 7:58 GMT

    nice piece. though the exclusion of sobers and kallis tells me that whether or not allrounders are balanced is unimportant. interesting, but unimportant. these two are the best allrounders to have played the game, with botham coming in a close third.

    i understand you're not making any claims about the best; this is simply my observation based on yours. if i can't have kallis or sobers in my team because they are not balanced allrounders, then i wouldn't care very much for the measure of balance.

    Ric's comment: Thanks for your perceptive comment. Sobers and Kallis aren't excluded, they just aren't balanced. No judgement is made here on their effectiveness as cricketers - that's already been done! But I agree none of this is important. I am sure Samaraweera would agree!

  • Raju on June 10, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    No no i could not tolerate a all rounder list without jacques kallis...

    Ric's comment: Everyone is on the list, Raju, even Kallis. Check out the full list at the end of the blog.

  • Greg Preston on June 10, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    The determination of an all-rounder can be over complicated. The true measure of a player is the batting and bowling averages. In the long run these sort out the great from the bad. We accept that a batsman wants a high average and a bowler a low average. So by dividing the batting average by the bowling average one gets a measure of greatness. So Sobers (batting average 57.78 and bowling average 34.03) has an ibdex of 1.70 and Imran Khan (37.69 and 22.81) has an index of 1.65. I find this to be a good measure as it can be applied to a specific series, period of time or career.

    For wicket keepers I apply a slightly different ratio. Here I look at the ratio of dismissals per match Gilchrist averaged 47.60 with the bat and effected 416 dismissals in 96 matches for a ratio of 4.33. By multiplying the dismissal ration by the batting average one gets an index of 206.27. This is way ahead of Mark Boucher, average 29.85 and dismissal ratio of 3.77 for an index of 112.53. A good measure?

    Ric's Comment: That's fine, Greg, but it's not what I am trying to measure.

  • Engle on June 10, 2009, 4:45 GMT

    Try as I may, I'm finding it difficult to give these stats credibility. Quality has to come into the equation somehow (averages, strike rate) rather than just quantity. Some years ago Cricinfo had an article with extensive stats on Test All-rounders. All-rounders were given points for batting and bowling (more points = better). The 2 AR that had the least difference between their batting and bowling points were Tony Greig and Ravi Shastri. Which made a lot of sense to me as these two seem the most ' balanced '.

  • David Barry on June 10, 2009, 3:44 GMT

    The overall average is 30.01, as noted above. The overall average for top-six batsmen is 36.98. In an average team score of 10*30.01 = 300, you effectively have 300/37 = 8.1 specialist batsmen equivalents.

    If there are typically four bowlers in a side who take wickets, then the contribution of a balanced bowler to the wicket tally is about half that of the balanced batsman to the run tally.

    eg, 30 * 4 / 8.1 = 14.8.

    You'd need to do a bit of work to nail down the figure of 4 bowlers per innings, since part-timers take some wickets as well.

  • ian on June 10, 2009, 3:42 GMT

    I didn't notice Aubrey Faulkner or Alan Davidson on the list - where are they placed?

    Ric's comment: All players who took at leats one wicket are in the full list at the end of the blog - check it out! Davidson comes in as a bowling allrounder (just) with 7.14. Faulkner is a batting allrounder, 21.39, very nearly a "balanced" allrounder.

  • REDNECK on June 10, 2009, 0:57 GMT

    fasinating reading ric! no W G Grace? with out knowing his stats i dont know if he played enough tests to qualify but i swear ive heard english commentators through the years claim he was the best all rounder to play the game?

    Ric's Comment: WG only took 9 Test wickets to go with his 1098 runs, for an index of 122. At that stage of his career (ie, late) he was more of a batsman. His first-class record, however is 19.3, so yes, very balanced!

  • Raman Sharma on June 9, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    A very interesting way of putting the stats. But somehow the "definition" of balanced seems to not fulfill what was, or i guess was your initial motive, regarding the effectiveness of the all-rounder in both batting as well as bowling. For example the case of Jacques Kallis you are very right that he has scored more runs than wickets but you do have to keep in mind that he comes in at no. 3 while batting while generally he does not open the bowling, at the same time he has taken five wicket hauls and is a lethal bowler when the ball is swinging. An analysis on the ratio of batting avg to the bowling avg would be an interesting one, especially in the ODI's.

  • Matt on June 9, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    I agree with Sushil. Botham and Kapil Dev at one time held world records for wickets taken, but neither could ever get close to being the best batsmen in the world...

    Ric's example of Keith Miller is similar. His bowling figures (170 wkts @ 23) make him arguably one of the top 20 or 30 bowlers ever to play the game. You can hardly say that about his batting (average 37).

    The true "balanced" allrounder probably leans towards mediocrity in both elements (or worse - consider the case of Gavin Hamilton!) Abdur Razzaq, or possibly Azhar Mahmood seem to exemplify this, so I'd say a runs to wickets tally of 20-25 is the hallmark of the "balanced" allrounder.

    An alternative view would be to look at averages - what's the "average average" for batsmen and bowlers over test history, and which allrounders come closest to both?

    Ric's Comment: I am not sure about your comment re-mediocrity. I think you could take any small interval of 1 or 2 in my list, and find significant performers in that small range. But in the absence of of any formal theory to base my conclusion on, I am not going to disagree with your assessment of the balanced point being between 20 and 25.

  • fahad on June 9, 2009, 20:46 GMT

    Balanced allrounders should be both specialist batsman and bowler. I would think that for most teams you can't be a specialist batsmen unless you have a batting average of atleast 35 and a bowler unless you have an average of under 30. A truly great balanced allrounder would have a batting average of over 45 and bowling of under 25(by the way is there anyone like that ?). The only issue is I dont know what the equivalence would be moving away towards the extremes. I mean is a differance of 5 in bowling average from say 22 to 27 the same as from 48 to 53 for batting. Also I don't know what the cutoff points would be(30 and 35 is just my opinion from my experience as a cricket watcher). It should be interesting if we could know what the the average for specialist batsmen is across all teams and same for bowlers.

  • fahad on June 9, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    Very interesting. I have always tried to judge an allrounder in the usual way i.e. the differance between bowling and batting averages. But I guess that would be more a reflection of the greatness rather than balance ?

    Ric's Comment: Your last statement is correct!

  • Kunal on June 9, 2009, 20:08 GMT

    This is a disgusting analysis. You just divided two numbers that can't even be compared. By yourself you came up with 14. Why not divide the total runs ever scored by the total wickets ever taken. But this idea of dividing is dumb, stupid, and narrow minded.

    At least use something more substantive. Average? Strike rate? The analysis on these posts is usually extensive. What you did could be done by a third grader. Maybe the old adage is true; those who can't do, teach. Maybe you shouldn't have quit your teaching job.

    Ric's Comment: Resorting to personal abuse does you little credit.

  • Umar on June 9, 2009, 18:40 GMT

    Nice Work!! i wonder is it possible to have a list of "Significant All Rounders" in terms of their contribution,,, not merely their high scores, wickets tallies... as at times even 5 wickets haul may not be significant!!!! i would love if i could have some insight even a little bit on this issue .

  • Warwicks fan on June 9, 2009, 17:51 GMT

    Very interesting article. To find the point of balance, how about adding up the total runs scored and wickets taken in Tests and divide one by the other? At least it' s some kind of objective figure.

    Ric's Comment: If you do that, it comes in at 30.01. It doesn't seem to fit!

  • Shailesh on June 9, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    I don't How you can prepare all rounders list without including JACQUES KALLIS.

    I think equilibrium point is incorrect.

    Ric's Comment: I haven't excluded Kallis - he comes in at 39 (see linked list at the end). His run-scoring output far exceeds his wicket-taking output.

  • Arvind on June 9, 2009, 17:12 GMT

    Hi Annanth Beautiful analysis. Based on essentially your ideas and analysis here I propose a test to decide a player as bowler/batsman/allrounder. The analysis defines the slope of runs vs matches for top 20% batsmen and wickets vs matches for top 20% bowlers from your list. One can get such slope for a player as his career span increased and compared it with the bowling slope or batting slope to decide on what kind of player one is.

    http://rightarmoverfast.blogspot.com/ Arvind PS: It would be really nice if you can include some figures in your analysis. I think those who are interested would know how to read figures and figures are certainly more informative to us (visual animal) as compared to bare numbers. Many thanks for the analysis and providing the data.

    Ric's Comment: It's Ric here, Arvind!

  • Gershon Seymour on June 9, 2009, 17:08 GMT

    Ric, I think the calculation is too simplistic to give a fair result. Pure quantity of wickets or runs alone can not attest to their relative values in a match or over a career so a comparison of the two does not identify a balanced allrounder. You need instead to bring averages into the equation. Say for example that a good bowling average is under 30 (under 20 is excellent) and for batting 40-50 is good and over 50 excellent. Rate the averages on a scale and then compare them (e.g. bowl 30 = bat 40, etc.). This needs fleshing out, but it can't be that for instance Ray Illingworth is a balanced allrounder (in your analysis he is slightly more of a batsman!) with a bowling average of 31.2 (good minus)and a batting average of just 23.24 (poor). Imran Khan miay be closer to the balance - bowling 22.8, batting 37.6 You could also weed out any player whose batting average is lower than their bowling average, and instead of a 20 test minimum, 50 wickets and 1000 runs. Great concept though!

  • Brian on June 9, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    Since there are test rankings that allocate points based on performance, a perfectly balanced allrounder would have their batting points equal their bowling points or, since these may not be on the same scale, their batting ranking equal to their bowling ranking. End-of career figures may not be a good guide since a fast-bowling all-rounder's bowling ranking or points may drop off towards the end of their career earlier than their batting. So some allrounders may be perfectly balanced at some point in their career but not at the start or end. If an allrounder is balanced if their batting ranking place is within 2 (or 5 or whatever you choose to make it work sensibly) of their bowling ranking place, who started the most matches as a balanced allrounder ? And while someone is working this out they can tell us about the range of Ric's index figures for players who fit this new objective definition of balanced......

    Ric's Comment: Your point about the changes in relative output over a player's career is well made. I guess it is a given that the way I have done it smooths out those variations over a career.

  • Venkatesh on June 9, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    Good analysis with focus on balance - would be interested in knowing Imran Khan's career ratio post-1982 when he averaged over 50 (about 2,500 runs) with the bat and under 20 (over 200 wickets I guess) with the ball - a perfect all-rounder though with a ratio of 12 - which leads me to think through the analysis - not outs are not recognized in the batting analysis - Imran Khan's performance over that decade should be considered non-paraliel and rank higher than that of any other all-rounder - perhaps Botham from debut through 1981 or Sobers from 1960 to 1968 may compare. So I do wonder what a perfect balance is.

  • jono on June 9, 2009, 16:49 GMT

    Very interesting analysis. Clearly some of us are struggling with the concept of balance versus quality. To assess balance and quality I like the idea of looking at bowling ranking v's batting ranking. Then you could assess balance and quality of players at different times in their career. A player who is no.1 in the batting ranking and 6th in bowling might be a be a less balanced but better allrounder than the guy who was 10th and 11th respectively in a particular year. The batting allrounder might by this measure go through a phase of being a bowling allrounder over a period. It would be interesting to see the shift of balance in the light of circumstances like the arrival of a new captain, changes in quality of the teams bowling or batting makeup etc.

    Ric's Comment: Excellent thoughts. Jono.

  • koushik on June 9, 2009, 15:54 GMT

    no sobers, kallis or pollock.. u do have irfan pathan,boje,styris prabhakar etc. who can neither bat like these 3 nor bowl like them... Something is totally wrong with your idea.

    Ric's comment: You have totally missed the point. Read the blog again, especially the last sentence!

  • Craig on June 9, 2009, 15:26 GMT

    come on ... any list of all rounders that doesn't include Sir Garfield Sobers ... can't be any good! as you said the 14 is based on nothing at all!

    Ric's Comment: As I have said before, his output as a batsman far exceded his output as a bowler. On the linked list, you can see he is at 34. The 14 I chose is not based "nothing at all". Its based on observing the players around that figure, and those further away from it, and using that to make a judgement.

  • Sushil on June 9, 2009, 14:38 GMT

    Good point. It's hard to get to a "desired" equilibrium. So lets instead go to a demonstrated equilibrium. Which is the total number of runs scored in test divided by total wickets taken. This is the demonstrated or performance equilibrium.

    The allrounder who gets closest to the number is most in synch with this equilibrium. Thoughts?

    Ric's Comment: In that case, it would be 30.01, which doesn't seem to fit, for me. I am sure the point of equilibrium is only around half this.

  • Sushil on June 9, 2009, 14:02 GMT

    Nice analysis although I think your equilibrium point is incorrect. I believe, maybe, you were trying to fit the equilibrium with the names (Botham etc). In reality, Botham was the worlds leading wicket taker at one point, which means to be a "balanced" allrounder he would also have to have been the worlds leading run scorer. Same for Kapil Dev.

    Look at some of the other names in the 10-20 range. Flintoff et al still would be considered bowling all rounders.

    IMHO, the balance is somewhere between 20 and 30. Shastri, Oram and the like. Now, the point is that they may be equally bad with bat and ball - but its still a balance.

    Ric's comment: You make good points, and it may be my figure of 14 is too low. However, when I look at Keith Miller (17.40) and compare him with Tony Greig (25.52), I still think the point of balance is closer to 15 than it is to 25. I also have more of a regard for Flintoff's batting than you may do. We need someone to come up with a logical reason why the point of equilibrium should be 14 or 15 or 25 or whatever, using some total statistics. The batting average of those who have played at least 20 Tests is 33.25, so its not that!

  • Pubudu on June 9, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    Am I correct in saying that the runs and the wickets columns are mixed up? Other than that its quite an interesting way to specify (classify?) all rounders.

    Ric's comment: I think the column headings need tabbing to the right. They are, respectively, Tests, runs and wickets.

  • BrainDead on June 9, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Nice analysis. Slight error in the last list. You have Imran Khan listed twice.

    Ric's comment: Thanks for that, there is some unintended repetition at the end of that list.

  • Ritesh Bhagwat on June 9, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    Awesome article Ric... Hats off to you

    Ric's Comment: Thanks, Ritesh!

  • Jinda Maharaj on June 9, 2009, 11:51 GMT

    No Garry Sobers?

    Ric's Comment: Yes, he's there, around 34. Clearly a batting allrounder...

  • Neil Treeby on June 9, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    There's one glaring omission from all of your lists: Garfield Sobers. Presumably he's in the 100+ category, but his bowling was more than useful!

    Ric's comment: See previous comment - the list of all those who played 20 Tests is in a link at the end.

  • hrmdtb on June 9, 2009, 11:42 GMT

    Nice work! A truly interesting way to classify players

  • AJ on June 9, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    I cannot understand the absence of Jacques Kallis, who is undoubtably the premier allrounder in the world today, if not of all time.

    Ric's Comment: His index is around 39 - scored way too many runs for the wickets he took to be a balanced all-rounder. Clearly a batting allrounder.

  • Matthew Cocks on June 9, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    No Jacques Kallis anywhere on your lists......it must be flawed, because he must be rates as one of the top two all rounders who ever played the game.....

    Ric's comment: Did you read my last sentence, Matthew? This is NOT about who the great allrounders are - it's about how "balanced" they are between their batting and bowling contributions. Kallis, who rates 39 on this list, clearly has an imbalance of runs over wickets.

  • MA3LK on June 9, 2009, 10:36 GMT

    I think you got the runs and wickets lines mixed up on the tables. Other than that its a good read.

  • Bruce Walton on June 9, 2009, 10:24 GMT

    Thanks for a really interesting post. It's quite thought provoking to categorise players in this way - for example Gary Sobers comes out clearly in the batting all rounder category (index of 34.18).

    It's left me wondering - how could a similar analysis be undertaken for an all round contribution which includes keeping wicket? Is there any way a similar index could be constructed to show the spectrum from specialist wicketkeepers who made little contribution with the bat (an extinct species these days, but commonplace in earlier eras of test cricket), through wicketkeepers who bat, genuine wicketkeeping all rounders, and batsmen who can keep wicket? It's not easy, but there is some data available, such as number of innings behind the stumps, and dismissal and byes conceded while doing so.

    Ric's Comment: Good thought, Bruce - I'll give it some thought!

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  • Bruce Walton on June 9, 2009, 10:24 GMT

    Thanks for a really interesting post. It's quite thought provoking to categorise players in this way - for example Gary Sobers comes out clearly in the batting all rounder category (index of 34.18).

    It's left me wondering - how could a similar analysis be undertaken for an all round contribution which includes keeping wicket? Is there any way a similar index could be constructed to show the spectrum from specialist wicketkeepers who made little contribution with the bat (an extinct species these days, but commonplace in earlier eras of test cricket), through wicketkeepers who bat, genuine wicketkeeping all rounders, and batsmen who can keep wicket? It's not easy, but there is some data available, such as number of innings behind the stumps, and dismissal and byes conceded while doing so.

    Ric's Comment: Good thought, Bruce - I'll give it some thought!

  • MA3LK on June 9, 2009, 10:36 GMT

    I think you got the runs and wickets lines mixed up on the tables. Other than that its a good read.

  • Matthew Cocks on June 9, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    No Jacques Kallis anywhere on your lists......it must be flawed, because he must be rates as one of the top two all rounders who ever played the game.....

    Ric's comment: Did you read my last sentence, Matthew? This is NOT about who the great allrounders are - it's about how "balanced" they are between their batting and bowling contributions. Kallis, who rates 39 on this list, clearly has an imbalance of runs over wickets.

  • AJ on June 9, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    I cannot understand the absence of Jacques Kallis, who is undoubtably the premier allrounder in the world today, if not of all time.

    Ric's Comment: His index is around 39 - scored way too many runs for the wickets he took to be a balanced all-rounder. Clearly a batting allrounder.

  • hrmdtb on June 9, 2009, 11:42 GMT

    Nice work! A truly interesting way to classify players

  • Neil Treeby on June 9, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    There's one glaring omission from all of your lists: Garfield Sobers. Presumably he's in the 100+ category, but his bowling was more than useful!

    Ric's comment: See previous comment - the list of all those who played 20 Tests is in a link at the end.

  • Jinda Maharaj on June 9, 2009, 11:51 GMT

    No Garry Sobers?

    Ric's Comment: Yes, he's there, around 34. Clearly a batting allrounder...

  • Ritesh Bhagwat on June 9, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    Awesome article Ric... Hats off to you

    Ric's Comment: Thanks, Ritesh!

  • BrainDead on June 9, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Nice analysis. Slight error in the last list. You have Imran Khan listed twice.

    Ric's comment: Thanks for that, there is some unintended repetition at the end of that list.

  • Pubudu on June 9, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    Am I correct in saying that the runs and the wickets columns are mixed up? Other than that its quite an interesting way to specify (classify?) all rounders.

    Ric's comment: I think the column headings need tabbing to the right. They are, respectively, Tests, runs and wickets.