Awards January 28, 2010

The player(s) of the decade - in numbers

A look at the best players of the decade, in purely numerical terms
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Jacques Kallis is on top of this list, pipping Ricky Ponting to second place © Getty Images
Recently Cricinfo came out with their Player of the Decade article. It was the compilation of 1-2-3 positions posted by over 38 reputed players/journalists. The final results were quite impressive and very fair. However it is true that the jury, while using the decade numbers available, still finally made their informed subjective selections. They would obviously have considered factors beyond numbers since for some players such as Tendulkar, Gilchrist, Ponting, Muralitharan etc, numbers tell only part of the story.

I have decided to do a pure numbers-based analysis of the decade from all relevant angles and come with my own list of the top players. This is not to find any holes in the Cricinfo list but to study along with it. Let me say that I have not been asked by Cricinfo to do this and this is on my own initiative.

A typical paragraph in the said article might have run.

"He scored ****** Test runs at a high average of **.**. More than half these runs were scored away. In ODIs his compilation was ****** runs at a middling average of **.** and an outstanding strike rate of ***.*. In addition he picked up a total of *** international wickets at averages way below the average for the decade. His fielding was brilliant and he took *** catches. His team had a better than **% winning record in both Tests and ODIs. He led his team through player change phases very effectively".

Or parts of this paragraph for different players. I have made all efforts to translate each of these "*****"s to measurable and rateable numbers.

Some guidelines.

1. Tests and ODIs will get equal weight (50%/50%). I do not think many would have complaints with this. T20 will not be considered since only around 100 matches have been played.

2. Batting and Bowling will get equal weight (35%/35%). This also should not bother anyone other than those who would oppose this in order to push up their favourite players. However I have always felt that the Bowlers get a raw deal and I will not be a party to that.

3. For key factors such as Runs scored and Wickets captured I will use the unadjusted figures since we are only considering the past 10 years and there have not been many variations during this period.

4. For batting and bowling performance measurements, I will only use the standard accepted measures such as Average, Strike rate, RpO et al. I will not use any derived measures. This makes sense.

5. Fielding, in the form of catches and stumpings, will carry some weight (5%/5%). Oh I know this will benefit the wicket-keepers. I am quite comfortable with that especially as that is the most difficult task on the field.

6. Wins will carry some weight (4%/3%). I know this will elicit complaints from supporters of players whose teams have not performed well. However winning is the most important part of any sport and we have to recognize that.

7. Some weight will be given to captaincy (3%/3%), only in the form of number of matches captained since the previous point would have taken into account the results. The captain clearly shoulders a major additional responsibility in addition to the batting, bowling and wicket-keeping tasks and this factor has to be recognized.

8. For ODIs some weight will be given to success in the major events such as World Cups and ICC Cups (3%). 2 World Cups and 5 ICC Cups were held during this period. After all these are Blue Ribbon events and merit special recognition.

9. Since I will not be taking in the match level performances, I will give some weight (3%/2%) for the number of Man of the Match awards secured. This may not be perfect but is a clear indicator to the contributions by the players towards achieving wins.

10. The period 2000-2009 will be implemented strictly irrespective of mid-series positions.

11. Other than the common-sense based points weight, this will be a completely objective analysis based on known irrefutable facts and no assumptions or derivations.

12. This is an analysis of what was achieved during the decade. Injuries, non-selections, boycotts, home country problems, opt-outs, ICC bans (ICL???), backstage manipulations et al have no relevance here. If I have to make allowance for Tendulkar's injury during early 2000s, I also have to make allowance for the enforced absence of the talented Pakistani players over the past few years. No, those doors are closed. It is what was achieved on the field during the decade which will count.

13. For the purposes of this analysis I have fixed the minimum criteria as either 5000 international (Test+ODI) runs or 200 international wickets. 82 players quailfy. Anyone who misses these numbers is unlikely to be even in the peripheral vision of any jury.

At no stage should the readers forget that the purpose is to find out the Player of the decade, based on all relevant factors, including batting, bowling, fielding, captaincy responsibilities, team performances, successes et al. These are Batting or Bowling analyses.

Let us view the table now. The Players of the decade table is presented bwloe.

No RtgPts  Player                Test     ODI  Cricinfo
Position
1. 57.22  Kallis J.H           31.42   25.80     2
2. 52.18  Ponting R.T          27.21   24.97     1
3. 48.45  Pollock S.M          22.24   26.21
4. 47.62  Muralitharan M       24.84   22.78     4
5. 46.25  Jayasuriya S.T       19.16   27.09
6. 44.69  Tendulkar S.R        19.93   24.75     6
7. 44.27  Gilchrist A.C        21.07   23.20     3
8. 42.83  Gayle C.H            18.23   24.60
9. 41.00  Flintoff A           19.54   21.46
10. 40.31  Lee B                17.53   22.78
11. 40.02  Sehwag V             18.91   21.11
12. 39.97  Vettori D.L          19.87   20.10
13. 39.94  Sangakkara K.C       20.91   19.03
14. 39.78  Jayawardene D.P.M.D  21.80   17.98
15. 39.18  Dravid R             21.73   17.44     9
16. 38.96  McGrath G.D          18.65   20.31     5
17. 37.72  Ganguly S.C          15.33   22.39
18. 37.70  Hayden M.L           21.83   15.87
19. 37.69  Vaas WPUJC           18.03   19.67
20. 37.15  Smith G.C            20.66   16.49
21. 36.58  Warne S.K            22.93   13.65     7
22. 34.72  Harbhajan Singh      16.86   17.87
23. 34.52  Ntini M              17.35   17.16
24. 33.59  Mohammad Yousuf      17.54   16.05
25. 33.45  Clarke M.J           13.42   20.03

Note: Lara and Chanderpaul are outside the top-25.

Jaques Kallis had huge numbers supporting him and there is no doubt he deserved his top position on this basis. It is also certain that his team's lack of success has not helped him a lot.

- 16490 runs / 399 wickets / 201 ct-st / 209 wins / 34 MOMs / 13 captaincies.

Ricky Ponting has his team successes supporting him and he deserves his second place. Not to forget his own personal contributions towards achieving these wins. He could very well have been on top.

- 18561 runs / 3 wickets / 239 ct-st / 301 wins / 2 WC + 2 ICC wins / 36 MOMs / 318 captaincies.

There is a surprise at the third position. Shaun Pollock shows that he is one of the under-rated all-rounders. The averages and rpo figures are amongst the best of this decade.

- 4731 runs / 535 wickets / 135 ct-st / 181 wins / 23 MOMs / 142 captaincies.

Muralitharan with his tally of 898 wickets is in fourth position. Jayasuriya is in a deserved fifth position with 12527 runs and 205 wickets. Gilchrist with 12373 runs and 759 ct/st dismissals follows. The summary of formulae used. Given below are numbers to get maximum wt values for Tests/ODIs.

Runs:     10000/10000
Wkts:     600/400
BatAvge:  60/60
BowAvge:  20/20
Ct/St:    400/400
Wins:     150/200
Capts:    150/200
MOMs:     16/30
ODI S/R:  1.25 for max
ODI Rpo:  3.0 for max.
To download the complete set of tables, please right-click here and save the file.

I am sure when the esteemed jury voted they took into consideration the non-numerical factors. That would have been the correct thing to do. As such, Ponting, with the type of team building he has done on the field could be comfortably placed at the top. The impact Muralitharan has on Sri Lankan cricket would have propelled him into the third position and the same with Gilchrist, even after retirement. Nothing needs to be said about the colossus, Tendulkar. His mid-table position is certainly justified.

Now it becomes a bit murky. The ignorance of Jayasuriya and Shaun Pollock by the jury is baffling. Until 6 months back Jayasuriya has been magical on the field. Shaun Pollock is as good an all-rounder as Kallis. Kallis might be ahead by a mile in batting but Pollock is in front by three-fourths of a mile in bowling. His accuracy in ODI cricket is legendary. Gayle's continued poor performances under Lara's captaincy might have counted against him. Also he did not have a great test decade. Flintoff was injured too often to be under serious consideration. Brett Lee was also a better ODI bowler than in Tests.

As far as Lara is concerned, he was forced into a hurried retirement by the non-Trinadian-clique at the end of the World Cup, when he had couple of years of top-level Test cricket ahead of him. He still had a pretty good Test decade but his ODI performances during the decade were quite indifferent and I am surprised that one juror even voted him at the top.

Overall I would say the jury did an excellent job. The numbers analysis supports them quite strongly. For once a committee approach has worked very well.

My 1-2-3 ??? Kallis, Ponting, Tendulkar/Muralitharan. Did I hear someone say, only 3. Tough luck, it is my selection. And if you add Gilchrist & McGrath, two of my favourite cricketers, we have the Cricinfo top-6.

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

  • jwt on February 7, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Abhi,

    I based my entire comment on the basis that Ananth tried to identify the best individual cricketer of the past decade. If his analysis tried to identify the best cricketer (within a team context) then I would 100% support your argument that a specific XI would beat another specific XI. All I'm saying (as an example) is this: Ponting and Kallis are VERY comparable in terms of their batting achievements over the past decade. However, with Kallis' added superb achievements with the ball....that, for me, makes Kallis a better cricketer over the last decade than Ponting & therefore I agree more with Ananth's analysis than the very subjective list produced earlier.

    However, based on good statistical measures.....trying to identify the best test-XI of all time would be extremely intriguing.

    jwt [[ JWT But still a very worthwhile exercise. Goes on to my third plate. I have an excellent Team Strength Index valuation which can be used for this. One day in summer... Ananth: ]]

  • Cyrus on February 7, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    Everyone's talking about Tendulkar and Ponting. What about Kallis?! He seems to be the dark horse and is quietly coming up the "inside rail" as it were.He keeps quietly grinding out runs ala Dravid in his own machinelike way- and is very fit, with very few time outs for injuries. Another 4/5 good years and you never know!

  • Zubair Butt on February 6, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Shahid Afridi ahead of Lara??? what kind of list is that?? now matter what went against Lara, captaincy or not, politics or not.. but he would be amonst the top 10 in any list across the history of world cricket.. him being outside 25 with someone like Afridi averaging 22 and 10 and respective cricket forms.. its laughable to say the least..

  • Vinish on February 4, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Excellent analysis and equally brilliant thoughts by readers. I felt privileged to read some of the comments.

    Regarding fantasy match, I developed a scorecard of two different 'kinds' of teams. Traditional XI (Dravids, Kirsten, Atherton and Kallis) v Moderns (Sehwag, Lara, Ponting, Gilly). The detailed and mouthwatering experience is available at: http://vinishgrg.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/cricket-traditionalists-vc-moderns/.

    Looking forward to your thoughts!

    Vinish

  • Abhi on February 4, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Ananth Thanks.It is only to be wished we had much more data like this.It would be infinitely more revealing than what we currently use.

  • Abhi on February 4, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    Ananth Then perhaps it is inaccurate to say the stats lie. More appropriate would be that the statistical parameters used aren’t wide enough. So ,when judging bowler quality we simply assume that things cancel or average out. In actual fact I don’t think they do. For eg an incorrect line call (pre hawkeye)at 3-3,15-15 in the first set is not the same as one on match point. Though theoretically both cancel out. The time in the context of a match is more critical.

    So, close LBWs, dropped catches,”beatens” etc.- if somehow incorporated would improve our perception of player quality. Which is exactly what we are trying to figure out with the stats currently available. Luckily we have seen Flintoff in the flesh-so we can judge his bowling quality even without looking at the stats. In my opinion he was a superb bowler ,and at his best as good as any modern day fast bowler. If he were born in an earlier era then on just pure stats he would have been given short thrift.

    P.S: as an aside: superb article out by Chris Cairns : “Afridi king of the sinners; Wasim king of swingers”- Fascinating insider peek into what goes on at the highest levels of the game, and shows how much we are normally blissfully ignorant about. [[ Abhi In continuation. I delved into my notes further. I have given below two first innings performances by two spinners in Test # 1574 (Ind-Eng 2001).

    Bowler     Balls  WktDel           
    Harbhajan  117    29         24%
    Dawson     258    26         10%.
    
    Charu Sharma, Tim Robinson and L Siva appreciated the above a lot since it translated into 5 for 51 and 4 for 134 analysis by the two bowlers. One thing is sure. That Harbhajan is not today's Harbhajan. Today he would struggle to reach 10%. Incidentally the lowest WTD % reached was Giles' 6% in the third test when he consistently bowled the outside legstump line to Tendulkar (you cannot blame them for that). It also worked since Tendulkar was out stumped at 90 (the first in his career). Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on February 3, 2010, 14:19 GMT

    The allrounders list is a great piece of work. When I look at these allrounders and think about how much they contibuted to their teams,and make my own list(which is purely subjective), the list is almost a perfect match!

    I thought Jayasuriya, P Reiffel and Ik Pathan were ranked much higher.May be, I need to go back and check Jayasuriya and Reiffel stats. But Irfan pathan better than Wasim Akram is a real travesty. May be it is because, Pathan had a period of great matches and then faded out very quickly leading to better than average stats but vastly less number of matches.

    Ananth, couple of points. I think you should let matches play out till the end; remove the draw from the equation. I dont think it is possible to include the effect of 'Innings declaration' in such a calculation. And hence many matches which can be won/lost will be drawn.

    Also there is no need for win to have 3 points instead of 2;In cricket we don't have Test tournaments but only bilateral series

  • Abhi on February 3, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    xolile Thanks again.all very fascinating.You mention the neutralisation effect for kallis,flintoff etc on the flat 2000s pitches. Apparently then Sober's too played on flat pitches! OR he simply wasn't that incisive a bowler. Which one do you think it was? So, for Kallis,Flintoff and co. wouldn't it be more realistic if we could apply some sort of "factor" to compensate for flat pitches? Some sort of “peer ratio” equaliser? Don’t know ,just musing. Just a thought about Flintoff- I feel he is one of those cases where the stats simply lie. I cannot ever recall such an unlucky bowler. Has any bowler ever beaten a batsman so often and not gotten a proportional share of wickets? I wonder. Perhaps in future they should make a column in the score card for “played and missed”,”beaten”,”rapped on pads-narrow LBW turned down “ etc etc. We may start to get a more sharper pixelated picture of actual goings on. [[ Abhi When I did some television analysis work with Wisden/Doordarshan during early-2000s, I introduced a measure called "Wicket taking deliveries" which are exactly you are referring to, and some more. We would discuss this aspect in detail in the post-play show. By session, to individual batsman, bowler comparisons et al. It was a fantastic measure to gauge how the bowlers bowled. The average % was about 15. 10% was low and 20+ was very good. I referred back to my notes. Flintoff, during the 2001 tour which was one of the three we covered, was consistently around the 20% mark. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on February 3, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    @ Xolile

    Fascinating stuff - thanks !

    One question - why did you use batting & bowling averages rather than balls per dismissal for batting (the batting equivalent of bowling SR) and runs per ball for bowling (the bowling equivalent of batting SR)?

    I'm not sure what, if any, difference it would make to the results, but to me it would be a "purer" way of running this.

    That said, I enjoyed seeing the list and the results do make a lot of sense. It was good to see Tony Greig so high up the list - I always thought he was under-rated as an allrounder (probably his persona and some of his more controversial comments have taken away a bit of the focus from his actual numbers, which are really very good.)

  • Abhi on February 3, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    Ananth don't know if i made myself clear. in a previous blog i had mentioned it would be nice to do an analysis to figure out the strength of a team a player was in over a period of time. It is in regard to this future analysis that i brought up this topic. not your previous analyses. [[ Abhi Will do so. I am also taking this opportunity to close all further mails on past, present and future batting of Tendulkar/Ponting/Lara. That is not the subject on hand and is going out of hand. I thought we had got out of that but it does not seem to have happened. Ananth: ]]

  • jwt on February 7, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Abhi,

    I based my entire comment on the basis that Ananth tried to identify the best individual cricketer of the past decade. If his analysis tried to identify the best cricketer (within a team context) then I would 100% support your argument that a specific XI would beat another specific XI. All I'm saying (as an example) is this: Ponting and Kallis are VERY comparable in terms of their batting achievements over the past decade. However, with Kallis' added superb achievements with the ball....that, for me, makes Kallis a better cricketer over the last decade than Ponting & therefore I agree more with Ananth's analysis than the very subjective list produced earlier.

    However, based on good statistical measures.....trying to identify the best test-XI of all time would be extremely intriguing.

    jwt [[ JWT But still a very worthwhile exercise. Goes on to my third plate. I have an excellent Team Strength Index valuation which can be used for this. One day in summer... Ananth: ]]

  • Cyrus on February 7, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    Everyone's talking about Tendulkar and Ponting. What about Kallis?! He seems to be the dark horse and is quietly coming up the "inside rail" as it were.He keeps quietly grinding out runs ala Dravid in his own machinelike way- and is very fit, with very few time outs for injuries. Another 4/5 good years and you never know!

  • Zubair Butt on February 6, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Shahid Afridi ahead of Lara??? what kind of list is that?? now matter what went against Lara, captaincy or not, politics or not.. but he would be amonst the top 10 in any list across the history of world cricket.. him being outside 25 with someone like Afridi averaging 22 and 10 and respective cricket forms.. its laughable to say the least..

  • Vinish on February 4, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Excellent analysis and equally brilliant thoughts by readers. I felt privileged to read some of the comments.

    Regarding fantasy match, I developed a scorecard of two different 'kinds' of teams. Traditional XI (Dravids, Kirsten, Atherton and Kallis) v Moderns (Sehwag, Lara, Ponting, Gilly). The detailed and mouthwatering experience is available at: http://vinishgrg.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/cricket-traditionalists-vc-moderns/.

    Looking forward to your thoughts!

    Vinish

  • Abhi on February 4, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Ananth Thanks.It is only to be wished we had much more data like this.It would be infinitely more revealing than what we currently use.

  • Abhi on February 4, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    Ananth Then perhaps it is inaccurate to say the stats lie. More appropriate would be that the statistical parameters used aren’t wide enough. So ,when judging bowler quality we simply assume that things cancel or average out. In actual fact I don’t think they do. For eg an incorrect line call (pre hawkeye)at 3-3,15-15 in the first set is not the same as one on match point. Though theoretically both cancel out. The time in the context of a match is more critical.

    So, close LBWs, dropped catches,”beatens” etc.- if somehow incorporated would improve our perception of player quality. Which is exactly what we are trying to figure out with the stats currently available. Luckily we have seen Flintoff in the flesh-so we can judge his bowling quality even without looking at the stats. In my opinion he was a superb bowler ,and at his best as good as any modern day fast bowler. If he were born in an earlier era then on just pure stats he would have been given short thrift.

    P.S: as an aside: superb article out by Chris Cairns : “Afridi king of the sinners; Wasim king of swingers”- Fascinating insider peek into what goes on at the highest levels of the game, and shows how much we are normally blissfully ignorant about. [[ Abhi In continuation. I delved into my notes further. I have given below two first innings performances by two spinners in Test # 1574 (Ind-Eng 2001).

    Bowler     Balls  WktDel           
    Harbhajan  117    29         24%
    Dawson     258    26         10%.
    
    Charu Sharma, Tim Robinson and L Siva appreciated the above a lot since it translated into 5 for 51 and 4 for 134 analysis by the two bowlers. One thing is sure. That Harbhajan is not today's Harbhajan. Today he would struggle to reach 10%. Incidentally the lowest WTD % reached was Giles' 6% in the third test when he consistently bowled the outside legstump line to Tendulkar (you cannot blame them for that). It also worked since Tendulkar was out stumped at 90 (the first in his career). Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on February 3, 2010, 14:19 GMT

    The allrounders list is a great piece of work. When I look at these allrounders and think about how much they contibuted to their teams,and make my own list(which is purely subjective), the list is almost a perfect match!

    I thought Jayasuriya, P Reiffel and Ik Pathan were ranked much higher.May be, I need to go back and check Jayasuriya and Reiffel stats. But Irfan pathan better than Wasim Akram is a real travesty. May be it is because, Pathan had a period of great matches and then faded out very quickly leading to better than average stats but vastly less number of matches.

    Ananth, couple of points. I think you should let matches play out till the end; remove the draw from the equation. I dont think it is possible to include the effect of 'Innings declaration' in such a calculation. And hence many matches which can be won/lost will be drawn.

    Also there is no need for win to have 3 points instead of 2;In cricket we don't have Test tournaments but only bilateral series

  • Abhi on February 3, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    xolile Thanks again.all very fascinating.You mention the neutralisation effect for kallis,flintoff etc on the flat 2000s pitches. Apparently then Sober's too played on flat pitches! OR he simply wasn't that incisive a bowler. Which one do you think it was? So, for Kallis,Flintoff and co. wouldn't it be more realistic if we could apply some sort of "factor" to compensate for flat pitches? Some sort of “peer ratio” equaliser? Don’t know ,just musing. Just a thought about Flintoff- I feel he is one of those cases where the stats simply lie. I cannot ever recall such an unlucky bowler. Has any bowler ever beaten a batsman so often and not gotten a proportional share of wickets? I wonder. Perhaps in future they should make a column in the score card for “played and missed”,”beaten”,”rapped on pads-narrow LBW turned down “ etc etc. We may start to get a more sharper pixelated picture of actual goings on. [[ Abhi When I did some television analysis work with Wisden/Doordarshan during early-2000s, I introduced a measure called "Wicket taking deliveries" which are exactly you are referring to, and some more. We would discuss this aspect in detail in the post-play show. By session, to individual batsman, bowler comparisons et al. It was a fantastic measure to gauge how the bowlers bowled. The average % was about 15. 10% was low and 20+ was very good. I referred back to my notes. Flintoff, during the 2001 tour which was one of the three we covered, was consistently around the 20% mark. Ananth: ]]

  • Jeff on February 3, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    @ Xolile

    Fascinating stuff - thanks !

    One question - why did you use batting & bowling averages rather than balls per dismissal for batting (the batting equivalent of bowling SR) and runs per ball for bowling (the bowling equivalent of batting SR)?

    I'm not sure what, if any, difference it would make to the results, but to me it would be a "purer" way of running this.

    That said, I enjoyed seeing the list and the results do make a lot of sense. It was good to see Tony Greig so high up the list - I always thought he was under-rated as an allrounder (probably his persona and some of his more controversial comments have taken away a bit of the focus from his actual numbers, which are really very good.)

  • Abhi on February 3, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    Ananth don't know if i made myself clear. in a previous blog i had mentioned it would be nice to do an analysis to figure out the strength of a team a player was in over a period of time. It is in regard to this future analysis that i brought up this topic. not your previous analyses. [[ Abhi Will do so. I am also taking this opportunity to close all further mails on past, present and future batting of Tendulkar/Ponting/Lara. That is not the subject on hand and is going out of hand. I thought we had got out of that but it does not seem to have happened. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on February 3, 2010, 7:37 GMT

    The beauty of the all-rounder debate is that the pitch issue is neutralized by the fact that each player has to bat and bowl on the same surface. You therefore cannot criticize Kallis, Flintoff and Vettori for batting on the flat pitches of 2000s, since they also had to bowl on those very same surfaces.

    It’s also interesting to note that Imran ends up at the top despite loosing narrowly in head-to-head matches against both Sobers and Kallis. This is because he wins far more matches against the lower players due to his superior bowling SR. For example, against Hooper, Sobers wins 36.1% of his matches and draws the rest. Imran on the other hand wins 83.1% of his matches, draws 16.6% and looses 0.3%. Obviously you would pick Imran in this example if winning is your objective.

    Strategically the best tactic would be to pick either Sobers or Kallis and prepare a bowling friendly pitch. That would boost their bowling strike rates and make the most of their batting skills.

  • Xolile on February 3, 2010, 7:22 GMT

    @Ananth, Dave, Love, Abhi I set up a fantasy league between 20 of the best modern era all-rounders, taking into consideration BatAve, BowlAve, BatSR, BowlSR and PitchConditions. In this fantasy league, each player played 1000 matches against each of the others, scoring 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw/tie and 0 for a loss. The results are indeed fascinating.

    1. Imran Khan (Pak) 2.49 (average points per match) 2. JH Kallis (ICC/SA) 2.27 3. SM Pollock (SA) 2.16 4. GS Sobers (WI) 2.09 5. Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1.86 6. AW Greig (Eng) 1.79 7. IT Botham (Eng) 1.74 8. CL Cairns (NZ) 1.65 9. ST Jayasuriya (SL) 1.63 10. N Kapil Dev (India) 1.39 11. PR Reiffel (Aus) 1.21 12. IK Pathan (India) 1.18 13. Wasim Akram (Pak) 1.15 14. A Flintoff (Eng/ICC) 1.14 15. DL Vettori (ICC/NZ) 0.99 16. MD Marshall (WI) 0.96 17. L Klusener (SA) 0.85 18. DJ Bravo (WI) 0.79 19. WPUJC Vaas (SL) 0.71 20. CL Hooper (WI) 0.59

  • Abhi on February 3, 2010, 4:51 GMT

    Ananth recent interchanges above (now getting a bit heated!) lead me to a request... whenever you decide to do the "player in weak/strong team" analysis would it be possible to put in some subsets of how the teams did at "home" and "away"?i.e the CTDs of the players home and away separately? as we know we have several lamb away and tigers at home type of teams. [[ Abhi In most analysis I have given higher credit to away performances. It is not always possible to show the components separately because of shortage of space. However for both Runs and Batting average I separate away values. I am not convinced that this will work for bowling. Quite a few bowlers would prefer to bowl away or at least on helpful pitches. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on February 3, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    Ananth - two requests. I have never seen a piece of analysis on variance in cricket. Such a piece could be useful as another metric to measure the consistency. The idea is as follows: Let x be the batting average. Let y_i be the batting average over a 3-test (or 5-innings) slice. The variance: [\sum_i (y_i-x)^2]/[#slices]. I use the 3-test or 5-innings slice to smooth out the variance.

    Likewise an anlysis on bad patch. Say, 8-innings slice with no score > 50 [or 5-test slice with average < 30] is the bad patch. Then, freq of bad-patches = #such slices/ total # slices. [[ Alex An year back I came out with an article (1 Aug 2008) titled "The highest peaks and lowest troughs for batsmen" which covered this specific request. Pl refer to that. I have given below a related table from that article.

    3. Table of Troughs, by % of Batting Average
    No  Cty Batsman          Stretch Ins No Runs Avge CarAvge  %  St End
     1. Aus Ponting R.T       61  70 10  1   74   8.22 58.35 14.09
     2. Slk Atapattu M.S       1  10 10  0   73   7.30 39.02 18.71
     3. Aus Healy I.A        171 180 10  0   59   5.90 27.40 21.54
     4. Eng Edrich W.J         1  10 10  0   87   8.70 40.00 21.75
     5. Eng Compton D.C.S     61  70 10  1  108  12.00 50.06 23.97
     6. Eng Flintoff A        11  20 10  0   86   8.60 32.42 26.53
     7. Ind Jaisimha M.L      61  70 10  1   75   8.33 30.69 27.16
     8. Aus Waugh S.R          1  10 10  1  125  13.89 51.06 27.20
     9. Zim Flower G.W        71  80 10  0   84   8.40 29.55 28.43
    10. Nzl Rutherford K.R     1  10 10  0   77   7.70 27.09 28.43
    
    Ananth: ]]

  • Prashant on February 3, 2010, 3:48 GMT

    Alex,Ananth Fair enough. I suppose the “Boy on the burning deck” type of innings tend to linger in the memory. The point I intended to make was that the Tendulkar of yore and the current one bear scant resemblance. As regards Lara, several other batsmen such as Steve Waugh and Inzamam Ul Haq signed off with a bang. So, I do not think what Lara did toward the end of his career was doubly difficult or anything such. It was simply a good time to be a batsman. It would be fair to say that if Richards played on the flat tracks that Lara did in his latter years he would have pulverized the bowling. Since Waugh, Inzamam etc were a similar age to Lara; it is quite probable that they too could have added to their run tallies. However, the flip side of the coin is also the average. It would be odd to see these batsmen end up with sub 50 averages. Moreover, since I feel Lara is the 2nd best batsman of the last 2 decades it is only “mot juste” to see a 50+ average next to his name. In my view a 13500 run tally at 40 something would be less preferable. Also, another factor which may in a way work in Pontings favour is that most pitches around the world continue to be generally flat. A phenomenon which was first clearly noticed in the 2000s. So, unless we get some express pace bowlers or juicy tracks or tracks which start detiorating dramatically as a Test goes on-Ponting can keep pulling and swinging away with impunity. The flat track part was one factor I missed out on. This will actually benefit Ponting more than Tendulkar. So, as you say, let’s just see. [[ It is amusing to read that whatever Lara did was on flat tracks. For that matter whatever Ponting might do. It should not be forgotten that flat tracks occur with the almost frequency for ALL batsmen. Anyhow let this rest. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 3, 2010, 2:35 GMT

    Ananth, Ah,didnt realise that. I took a look at the yr 2006 and saw lara's avg. as around 41 for the year. but what do u know!

  • Dave Bollen on February 3, 2010, 1:25 GMT

    Just wondering if anyone had a link for those fantasy cricket matches, England XI vs All Time XI 2003. Love to have a look. With the recent cricinfo series of Best XIs from major nations, perhaps a fantasy tournament could be set up. fascinating! [[ Dave I will look it up and trace the link since I have the original newspapers. Alternatively I will ;post the scorecards. I could even scan and post jpeg/pdf files. Your ideas are quite good re playing simulation matches. Ananth: ]]

  • Dave Bollen on February 3, 2010, 1:06 GMT

    If test strike rates have not been included in the statistics, why not? Surely the fact that ponting struck at about 16runs per 100 balls faster than Kallis deserves some consideration, or that Murali struck every 50 balls compared to Vettori`s 75? Using average as your only statistical component here advantages defensive players, as with your previous analysis. [[ Dave I already had too many measures, about 18 and did not want to add more. However when it comes to the Batting/Bowling analysis, strike rates are very crucial. For instance in the Bowler analysis on the anvil, being posted within 2/3 days, strike rates are incorporated. Ananth: ]]

  • Dave Bollen on February 3, 2010, 0:57 GMT

    Anantha, once again a fascinating analysis and interesting outcome. Just wanted some clarification on test strike rates (both batting and bowling) and whether they were included in the statistics. I was disappointed that you felt you were unable to use some of these stats in your previous analysis of best test/odi batsmen. I took your point that for many of the matches under consideration statistics weren`t available.

  • Gunjan on February 2, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    Ananth

    This is a great analysis. How difficult would it be to expand this analysis to, let us say past 40-50 years? Recently you had done an analysis for the greatest batsman across all formats. It would be great if we had a similar one for bowlers and then all combined for the greatest player 'statistically.' I know irrespective of what the result is, it would create a lot of controversy among the readers, but your criteria seem to be very fair, so most should still agree. [[ Gunjan The Bowler article is almost ready and will be published within a few days. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on February 2, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    Prashant - perhaps unintentionally you have belittled other Indians who played SA in 1992. Kapil & Amre also scored a superb century each. Amre really got a raw deal while Kapil, with his dare-devil approach, ended up with a career average of 31 while he possibly had the talent to finish with 40+.

    Ponting is not sort who plays only when the conditions suit him. However, it is true that he is an attacker with only 1 century at sub-45 SR & only 3 at sub-50 SR. That mind-set cost Viv very many runs in his final 6-7 years (so, it is doubly amazing how Lara did what he did). A healthy race is always more interesting though. So, I hope Ponting & SRT will light it up in the remainder of their careers. The way Ponting has batted in ODI's since July 2009 is breathtaking. [[ Alex/Prashant There were three Indian centurions, all great gutsy efforts when the rest of the batsmen, barring More once, were failing miserably. Kapil's effort of 129 is one of the all-time great innings, starting at 31 for 6 and a next highest score of 17. Tendulkar's was also a wonderful innings with the next support from Kapil with 25. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 2, 2010, 13:29 GMT

    Alex I feel Lara retired at the correct time- in bad taste though that may sound to the Lara faithful. He perhaps retired by default, but nonetheless at correct time. He had started to fade.And so extrapolating his stats to a “what if” scenario implying he would have maintained his avg. is a touch fanciful. As rgds. Lara's jaw-dropping 03-05- if you've been following previous blogs, you'd realise that just about everyone had a blast around then. Literally every single one of the top 20 or so batsmen, barring noone.(Tendulkar couldn’t even be considered top 20 in that span) As rgds Tendulkar ending with a 60 avg. I don't think its going to happen either.He may inch up towards it but the inertia of his 13000@55 will be difficult to overcome. [[ Abhi For once you have let down your guard. In the last 10 innings Lara played in Test cricket (all dismissed, as he was wont to do), he scored 585 runs at an average of 58.5. All matches were against India and Pakistan. Included in these 10 innings are 120, 122 and 216. Not exactly a fading player. How many batsmen can you think of who have scored two hundreds and a double hundred in their last ten innings. Also he averaged 6 more than his career avge. Finally West indies did not exactly have batsmen with 50+ averages fighting for places. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on February 2, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Ananth and Prashant: Since Jan 1 '00, SRT played 91 tests and scored 7393 & 23 centuries @ 54.36. For the best 8 yrs (discarding '03 & '04-'05): (70,6553,22,60.68). If he focusses on test cricket alone after WC '11 and stays healthy, he might continue for 4+ years like so, i.e., 30 tests 2700 runs, 10 centuries, ave. of 60. That gives him 16,000 runs, 194 tests, 55 centuries @56.4. I think, if they let him, he has a shot at 17,000 in @210 tests with 60 centuries @56 ave.

    For the sake of comparison, Lara played only 7 yrs since Jan 1 '00 with (66,6380,21,54.46) [inclusive of a jaw-dropping '03-'05 phase]. At that pace, he could have scored 14,700 & 43 centuries by now & retired. For batsmen like SRT, Lara, & Ponting, (15000, 48) is really the par. Ponting looks good enough for it although, given the circumstances (Ind & Aus), I think only SRT has a realistic shot at (17,000,60). [[ Alex My ball-park estimate of 56.7 seems to match with your number of 56.4 arrived a bit more objectively. Either way, 57 seems to be the upper limit. I would venture to say that Ponting might very well plateau at his current level of 55+. Ananth: ]]

  • Prashant on February 2, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    Alex, Ananth Theoretically anything may happen. Even if Ponting gets a few thousand runs more they will be at the cost of an ever declining average. From now on Ponting’s performances are going to be more Laraesque- a string of flops followed by some huge ones ,as witnessed recently vs. Pakistan-when conditions, both external and mentally suit him. However, unlike Lara the good part/streak will not be able to prop up his average any more. The consistency, which is the single most definitive hallmark of the true greats, will disappear. As I mentioned earlier the reason for my belief is that Tendulkar can adapt his game continually. He is more chameleon like than any modern day batsman. If you have seen Lara/Ponting’s first few hundreds and then their most recent ones, you would be hard pressed to find much difference. In contrast, if you have seen Tendulkar’s first hundreds and then his most recent ones the difference is glaring. Except for the Buddha like serenity the difference in stroke play and shot selection is considerable. Among his first hundreds would be the Perth,’92 one which everyone raves about. But my favourite is a ‘92 gem against a SA attack including Donald against which the rest of the Indian team was clueless. This innings has sadly faded from public memory. Compare that to his recent outings in Bangladesh and it seems like the old Tendulkar and recent Tendulkar are two different players. To exaggerate a bit, Tendulkar’s adaptability is a bit like Federer getting injured after 8 grand slams. Then on discovering that he cannot play the drive/topspin forehand anymore, shrugs it off and goes on to win his next 8 slams with a slice forehand. This is why I reckon that if Tendulkar stays even 80% fit he will outscore Ponting. I also figure Tendulkar’s average is actually going to increase. It would be ideal if he finishes with a 60+ average, if only to underline to a statistically obsessed generation, terribly blinded by numbers that after Bradman he is a cut above the rest. [[ Prashant Much as I would like Tendulkar to be the fifth batsman (>2000 runs) to cross 60.0, the chances are very slim. If Tendulkar plays 20 more dismissed innings (an year and half) he has to score 2350 more at an average of nearly 120 to cross 60.0. As we consider more innings the task becomes more managable. If he plays for 40 more dismissed innings (around 3+ years, probably the physical limit), he has to score 3600 more runs at an average of 90.0 to cross 60.0. This too, at the end of the career. My reading is, assuming 40 more innings, an average of 65+ during these innings, finishing with an overall average of 56.7+. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 2, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    xolile right thanks! so, at first glance it looks like the allrounders definitely pull their weight. what if u tinker around a bit. say by making TEAM1 :5 Kalliss',5 Pollys etc...perhaps things change? regret asking u to run the stats again! but im poor at stats and u seem to have some programmes already up and running.

  • Xolile on February 1, 2010, 18:12 GMT

    Love Goel,

    Fair point. Kallis v Tendulkar would be stalemate just as Kallis v Sobers would be stalemate.

    The most outrageous scenario would be a match featuring 22 Bradmans. Such a match would last about 19 days, with 7576 runs scored at an average of 189. Most of the Bradmans would probably end up in hospital.

    On the other end of the spectrum would be a match featuring 22 Chris Martins. That match would be finished after 67 overs. For once in his life Martin the bowler would benefit from taking the wicket of Martin the batsman. It would do wonders for his average.

  • Ramesh Kumar on February 1, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Though a bit digressing, Sachin comes most closer to Federer though Federer was not a teenage champion. Consistency, skills, grace(on and off field), aggressive only while playing, results etc. Though Federer gives a feeling that he walks in and plays that game without sweating it out in practice. Gamewise, lara is closer though Lara had more demons in his head than Fed/Sachin, I think. Kallis is the player of decade as he is closer to greats in batting and better than most on bowling, probably next best to Sobers. Flair, strokes,style will probably carry more weight in most of our heads and hence our preoccupation with Viv/Lara/Sachin/Ponting and not on Dravid/Kallis types(shades of Lendl?) One question-how do you compare wickets which are limited for an innings and the runs which don't have real limits in tests and some limits in ODIs?Do we need to view differently? [[ The obsessive equalling of weights I have worked in this analysis (test===odi, batting===bowling) would have ensured that the points are properly allocated even though the limits exist. The best bowlers tend to get a wicket every 30 balls which works to around a maximum of 2 wkts per match. The best rpi is around 50. These two are comparable in most calculations. (10000/500). I have also ensured that the best in each category gets quite close to the weight points. This has ensured quite an equitable allocation of points. In tests the above figures are 5 wkts and 100 runs. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on February 1, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    Prashant: SRT has all my well wishes for a strong 26 year career. The one factor in his favor is that ACB doesn't let players (esp. older players) to hang around with sub-par performances ... observe how quickly Hayden disappeared. Even AB retired at 39. If Ponting matches that, i.e., plays for 4 more years (since Aus is in transition, he has a good chance), he will likely score 3000-4000 more runs. I think 15,000 runs & 48 centuries are the par while 16,000 runs & 55 centuries are quite safe numbers. SRT may possibly have a very slight edge at the moment.

  • love goel on February 1, 2010, 13:55 GMT

    Xolie, if the opponent team had 10 Kallis, I will never send in a team of 6 Tendulkar+4 Mcgraths. There is simply no way you can get 20 Kallis wickets. It may be a much better strategy to send in 10 Tendulkar and just play out the match for a draw. Also, then the stategy for either team will depend upon who bats first. If Tendulkars bats first, they should play out without any declaration at all. Bat the Kallis team out of the match. If Tendulkars bats second,that means they can play out for a draw or go for win in the 4th innngs. There is no need to take 20 wickets;If Kallis team wants to win, they must declare.

    Effectively we have a stalemate here. Until the ODI's kick in. Then the game changes. I am pretty sure there will be some combination of Tendulkar+McGrath(may be 6+4 or 7+3) which will take out Kallis Team. And then, we a drawn Test Series and win in ODI series. I dont think you can ask for more than that. For me, 11 good allrounders are any day better combination than 11 specialists players. But only in Test matches; not one dayers.

  • Xolile on February 1, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    Abhi, Of course, the strongest team statistically is one comprising 5x Sydney Barnes and 5x Sir Donald Bradman. But even they would struggle to beat the Kallis team within 5 days.

  • Xolile on February 1, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    Abhi, Statistically the Tendulkar/Murali combo is the most competitive. But they will still loose by some distance.

    4x Muralis have the capacity to bowl about 1400 balls per match. That should yield around 13.65 Kallis wickets. That leaves the six Tendulkars with the task to take a further 6.35 Kallis wickets, which should require around 1069 balls. This is almost within their capacity, but they will not have enough time. It takes about 4.67 days to bowl 2,469 balls in Test cricket.

    On paper, the only teams that could challenge the Kallis team are 10 Imran Khans, 10 Keith Millers or 10 Aubrey Faulkners. Garry Sobers’ poor bowling strike rate effectively rules him out of such a competition.

  • Prashant on February 1, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    My two penny worth on the Tendulkar/Lara/Ponting debate. In a team sport, especially one such as cricket it is next to impossible to deduce an individuals contribution out of the whole teams. However, an individual sport such as Tennis is a “winner takes all” sport- so, if one player is even slightly better he will win most of the time .so, if the above cricketers were tennis players, assuming they are in their prime 5 year periods and fully fit, their head to heads as per my reckoning would go: Tendulkar – Lara : 8:2 to Tendulkar. Lara would win a couple when at his absolute best. But even then he would never take Tendulkar in straight sets. Tendulkar with his greater allround brilliance, consistency both mental and technical would win the greater majority. Tendulkar-Ponting: 9:1. Ponting at his best is a poor man’s Tendulkar when Tendukar is at his best. Lara-Ponting : 8:2 Lara. Those 8 wins would include some serious straight set pastings when Lara was at full flow. I am well aware that the above are all pure fantasy and incorrect comparisons. But then so is the laughable finance/cricket argument going on. It is ridiculous to compare the two. Lastly, I don’t think Ponting is ever going to catch up with Tendulkar. His last chance was that Tendukar retires around 2006 with a broken body. Tendulkar is the past master at the most difficult aspect for a sportsman- i.e revamping his game. He can cut out/add shots ,change his stance, backlift etc etc at will. Ponting simply cannot do it. He himself admitted in a recent interview that most shots are purely instinctive and he does not know if it can be done. Since 2007/08 Tendulkar has been pulling away- and he will continue to do so. Pontings half chance is gone. [[ Prashant I don't think there is a serious debate going on. Alex has only mentioned that we should not underestimate Ponting. However all said done, as a player, Tendulkar's bowling prowess cannot be discounted. But none of us know what is going to happen in future. Let us see. Only 3 great years for Ponting and 3 average years for Tendulkar (quite unlikely) would let them exchange places. Tendulkar has certainly pulled away as a batsman, as Federer has done and both are counting. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 1, 2010, 9:43 GMT

    Alex ive said several times-noones knocking ponting. he's and alltime great.its just one of those undefineable things. in my opinion (again just my opinion)Tendulkar and Lara just have that extra veneer of polish and genius. xolile thanks.what if you have 6 tendulkars and 4 murli/warnes then? do the figures change?

  • alex on February 1, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Ananth - nice of you to mention Edberg. Such an elegant player but probably lacked the tenacity of Wilander or Lendl to truly dominate his era ... more like Mark Waugh.

    Who approximates Federer in cricket? Maybe, the Don in his time and Viv in ODI in his time! I would put McGrath up there too. [[ Alex While they might have achieved less than other peers, for me Edberg and Mark Waugh epitomized elegance and charm. In case of Edberg the perfect 100% gentleman. That is one reason why I adore Federer. He has all these qualities AND wins. Last year Federer and Woods were right on top. Now see where Woods is. Oh! he might return and win a few more majors. But the black marks would not be lost. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on February 1, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    Abhi, Excellent question! I have an answer which may surprise you. Let’s ignore the wicketkeepers for sake of simplicity.

    On average it would take Kallis 1232 balls to take Tendulkar’s wicket 12 times and 146 balls to take McGrath’s wicket 8 times. So Kallis would bowl out the Tendulkar/McGrath team in 1378 balls. This is within Kallis’ capacity (he can bowl around 150 balls per match).

    McGrath can only bowl around 230 balls per match. The maximum capacity of 4 McGraths is therefore around 1000 balls. In 1000 balls, McGrath will take Kallis’ wicket 10.35 times. That leaves Tendulkar to take the remaining 9.65 Kallis wickets. This would take him 1625 balls. He has neither the time nor the capacity to do so.

    The Kallis team would therefore comfortably beat the Tendulkar/McGrath team. [[ I love these very special analytical bits of my friend, X. In a way my simulation program worked like this. I did a each-ball game in which a bowler with certain numerical characterisitics bowls to a batsman with certain numbers with whole lot of strategy elements built in. In fact I once did a simulation, quite a few years back, for the heck of it, of 11 Richards against 11 Kapil Dev (unfortunately both all-rounders). Richards XI won 7 of 10 matches. His batting was far superior and he was also good enough bowler to take Kapil's wkt quite a few times. Ananth: ]]

  • alex on February 1, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Abhi - I think it is a mistake to underrate Ponting. His shot making is compact and brilliant. He is consistent in both formats with a sense of occassion. In ODI's, his 140* and 164 were as good as they get ... his sparkling 30-odd in WC 1999 was reminiscent of Richards spanking 32 in WC 1983. Has anyone ever mastered the pull shot better than him?

    Given the fact that he is also one of the greatest fielders ever (I think he is better than even Jonty), he probably surpasses Lara & SRT. Better to give the master his due! [[ Alex Not to forget that Ponting is nearly two years younger than SRT. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 1, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    Or another possible TEAM 2 combo could be: 3 Tendulkars,3 Laras,2 Mcgraths/Donalds,2 Murli/Warnes,1 Healy etc [[ Abhi Amazing. I had only recd your first mail in the Inbox and was going to write "Let me change to 3 Tendulkars/3 Laras/2 McGraths/2 Muralis" when your second mail came in. I have done some pioneering Test/ODI simulation work and I could simulate such a match, once I find time. This was the program used to simulate 5 imaginary Tests between All-time England XIs and Rest of the World XIs for London Times, played at Lord's, MCG, Eden Gardens, SCG and Kingston (if I remember correctly). These were published with C M-J's comments during 2003. One day I should present these scores in this platform. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on February 1, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    Jwt I think i've got a handle on what the "anti" allrounder brigade are attempting to get at. Say if we have two imaginary teams: 1)TEAM 1: 10 Kallis's, 1 Gilly 2)TEAM 2: 6 T'lkars , 4 Mcgraths,1 Healy. I think the point the "anti allrounder" brigade is trying to make is that TEAM 2 would win most times. Debatable though.

  • alex on February 1, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    Cyrus,

    I only meant to say that Buffet approach might not give that much weightage to the rankings decided by a committee of "experts". Xolile (Jan 31 11:39AM) has said it better and more clearly.

    Even if the committee comprises a very large number of competent but biased individuals, the law of large numbers will make the rankings more reasonable, only if the biases were i.i.d.

    Ananth's rating system is a good platform. I personally would prefer to have one more table ranking the players based on the best 7-8 years in this decade. We could then conclude that whoever managed to get in the Top 20 of both the tables, really had an outstanding decade. Perhaps Ananth can look into that, time permitting. [[ Alex I can see the third plate in the horizon !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Meety on February 1, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Good article. I think the biggest "flaw" in the analysis is the low weighting of catches. The old saying is "catches win matches" and given most people would say Gilchrest was an all-rounder or words to that effect catches, stumpings and run-outs should be included, (I know there is no real reliable record of run-out assists or direct hits in the database). So I would suggest that maybe batting and bowling could drop to 30 each and fielding up 10. Good article. Cheers AG

  • Jwt on January 31, 2010, 20:08 GMT

    Some people feel agrieved that all-rounders feature so heavily...why???? Let me remind them: Ananth tried to identify the best "cricketer" of the past decade, not the best bowler, batsmen, fielder etc. So, think about it: if a cricketer has the immense talent of being brilliant in both batting and bowling (as Kallis is), then surely they deserve to be recognised for that...not penalised. If it takes immense skill to be good at one thing; then it takes even more skill to be great at two things at the same time. Therefore: give all-rounders (and Gilchrist) all the respect that they deserve.

  • Abhi on January 31, 2010, 13:05 GMT

    Alex BRAVO! FINALLY someone (anyone!)who is even willing to look behind the scenes to determine "why" the stats are as they are. Usually ppl just mouth off whatever suits them with a pat reply "stats dont lie".. Good to know there are some genuine cricket fans who are aware of events as they actually transpired. In my opinion both Tendulkar and Lara's stats would have been much better than they are (surprising though that may sound). In Tendulkar's case his injuries ,especially due to ODI overload,derailed him-that too at what should have been his peak. In Lara's case the petty politics in the Carib cricket board. So,as Cyrus and many others have sensibly mentioned-we need to take the stats with a pinch (bucket)of salt,not at face value. Which is why to me the likes of Ponting/Kallis will always be behind the Tendulkar/Lara combine. Between Tendulkar and Lara it is more a stylistic preference.You know who I think is “Simply the Best”..but one can well understand ppl pulling for Lara...and trust me,stats actually dont have much to do with it. Oh,and three cheers for Roger!! [[ Abhi At least now people will accept that Federer (16 and counting) is amongst the top-two, if not the top-one, amongst all tennis players. The way he played the third set was the stuff which separates the great champions from the rest. 2-5 down, he could easily have resigned himself to a 4-set win. But not Federer. He would also have remembered that he allowed Del Potro to come into the match 6 months back. But not this time. Just as the 153* and 98 separate the little masters from the rest. To have watched Lara/Tendulkar bat, Murali/McGrath bowl, Gilchrist perform and then be able to watch Federer, Borg and Edberg play. We are a privileged lot. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on January 31, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    Cyrus, To the independent analyst, financial forecasting is complicated by the irrationality of markets and quality of information. Sports forecasting is mainly complicated by quality of information. Experts can be useful in providing information or illuminating a particular point that requires judgment. Over time you learn to distinguish between well considered opinion and hot air. You could compare cricket players from the past and present to financial securities. Their values tend to rise and fall over time based on the coverage they receive and as the perceivable value of specific attributes change. So you may want to ask yourself whether you can trust the judgment of a panel of 38 journalists, of which around 75% are from Australia, England and India, whose votes were accumulated by way of a random points system. I strongly recommend you don’t. Do your own due diligence. Complete your own analyses. Draw your own conclusions. Trust your own judgment.

  • Abhi on January 31, 2010, 8:45 GMT

    Hey Alex, The "stock prices" reflect the "crowd" applying their "logic" to the stats available. Buffet represents the "expert" who can extract the "correct" information from the stats. This includes stuff you cant get only from the stats- for eg. his coke buy was actually quite expensive when going by traditional valuations. But hey- that’s why hes the expert. We got loads of finance experts in here it seems! Starting with xolile. That's the difference between the expert and the crowd- deriving the correct inference from the same stats which are available to all. This is all great fun! Everyones jumping onto each other on finance in a cricket forum!

  • Cyrus on January 31, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Ananth, Well put. I guess that covers it the entire argument perfectly. Alex Unfortunately this seems to have rapidly disintegrated into some sort of political wordplay. With people picking out individual sentences sans context and ignoring the spirit of the argument. I had stated: “The renowned experts like Buffet would essentially be rendered redundant if all it took were algorithms which run mechanically.”…How did you manage to interpret that to mean that Buffet does not deeply study fundamentals? The argument is that pure stats don’t quite cover it and never have. As Ananth has put very well in his comment- a basic statistical foundation is mandatory. So when comparing sportsmen we require certain basic cut offs- say runs/avg/hundreds/grand slams –what you will. It is at a certain point after that where the stats “stop working” as it were. For eg. In some football debates you have statistical arguments to the effect that Platini was better than Maradona. Stats used are commonly goals/game ratios in club and international cricket. But surely that is only a “base”? Thereafter there are innumerable factors which come in. And again as Ananth has so colorfully reminded us about various experts- the fact remains that experts or not, deep seated biases and prejudices are impossible to root out. Therein lies the need for diversification on geographical, regional, age etc grounds.

  • alex on January 31, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    Srini --- a possible correction. SRT, unlike Lara, did not play McGrath that much. Until 2003, he had 2 centuries, four 50's & a 45+ average (inclusive of bad umpiring decisions) vs McGrath in 7 tests. In ODI's, he took McGrath to laundry in 1996 WC, the entire 2001 series in India, in Kenya, and in 1998 Diana Memorial match. After 2003, he ran into McGrath when he was either injured or in poor form. People forget that the 1998 back injury was a big setback for SRT; he just never made a fuss about it. McGrath never bowled to SRT on a sustained basis before that.

    Lara faced McGrath a lot more, and scripted a number of outstanding performances (in tests and ODIs). No batsman (save Viv Richards) managed so many great innings vs Lillee or Marshall (granted that WI always had at least 1 great fast bowler with Marshall). Of course, they never bowled to Lara either! That said, it is really a tough call between Lillee, Marshall, and McGrath.

  • alex on January 31, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    Ananth & Cyrus: Cyrus' reference to Buffet works somewhat against his logic (though I agree that numbers cannot tell the whole story). Buffet, by his own admission, spends a lot of time reading annual reports of his companies & checking up on sales, inventory, and expenses (besides keeping a track of personnel integrity and a general sense of where the industry + its environment is headed). These are hard numbers (though he will *not* use formulae in Greek symbols on them).

    What Buffet disregards are the stock market prices, which actually are similar to the expert opinions out here. I think, his approach in such sports rating is: follow the game & players in detail (much better if you have played yourself), look at the long term performance + adaptability + integrity, *avoid* sentimental/psychological bias, accept short term poor performance, and disregard the expert opinions.

    Committees are appointed with the hope of them doing the above. Now, only if they did so!

  • love goel on January 31, 2010, 5:34 GMT

    I tried hard not to get involved in this finance-sport comparison. But I can't resist this anymore.

    As Cyrus said,in finance, experts can actually stoke their own bubbles. Secondly, in finance,not all experts decide at the same time; one may be influenced by the opinion and decision of others. I am pretty damm sure Cricinfo Jury didn't knew of each others decisions when they made their choices; they were truly independent of each other taking care of the biases each one may have.

    Also what I condsider the most important factor; the experts in Cricinfo Jury didn't had any personal benefit from making any particular choice. Not true of the finance world!( This is of paramount importance in any jury) [[ Goel Tose are valid points. The true independence and the absence of bias and personal gain was what made the jury. Hats off to them and Cricinfo. Not that they do this always. Ananth: ]]

  • Cyrus on January 31, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    Xolile Though certain vague parallels may be drawn between finance and sport-in this case you have misinterpreted them completely. Firstly, though both lend themselves somewhat to numbers the truly successful investment experts are the ones who can look beyond the numbers at innumerable subjective aspects. If only numbers would lead you to the best investment, librarians would make the best investors (a similar parallel may be drawn between best sportsman/librarians). The renowned experts like Buffet would essentially be rendered redundant if all it took were algorithms which run mechanically. Infact it may be argued that algoritmithic trading and opaque instruments are what actually snowballed the crunch. Also, as we have seen –no bubble lasts forever. This is one of the reasons longevity is so prized as regards sportsmen. It is what separates the flash in the pans and bubbles from the gold. Any elite cricketer who has been performing for around a decade and a half (more than two decades in some cases) simply cannot be termed as a “bubble”. Secondly, and much more importantly, finance experts can stoke a bubble by their own opinions. i.e. their projections on the “future” of a company/economy. Sporting experts when called to judge best sportsmen etc are not projecting into the future of a sportsman but judging what has already been witnessed. So, a financial bubble can and is stoked by the actions of numerous others besides the entity involved. Most critically, a "sporting bubble”, if such a thing exists, has to be sustained by the actions of the sportsman alone and cannot survive on the opinions of others. There are a few other flaws in your reasoning, which I need not delve into. However, I firmly maintain my stand. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, FIFA has always gone with the” committee “system- with a large, diversified array of players, journos, managers etc having their say. And I cannot for the life of me remember a time they got it even slightly wrong. In general, It is wholly incorrect to compare financial bubbles to sporting performances. [[ Cyrus/Xolile For once we have an argument not on specific players. I agree with Cyrus that it would be difficult to draw parallels between the sporting and financial analysis. Sporting analysis requires lot more "informed subjective" inferences. Numbers tell a strong story, but require to be used to derive final decisions. However, Cyrus, you must note that the sporting press, especially ex-players, are quite opinionated and rarely completely free from personal preferences. Gavaskar's anti-West in general and anti-English stance is the most widely kept secret. Boycott is similar. Ravi Shastri thinks he is God. That is where I prefer the non-nonsense conclusions of Ian Chappell and the somewhat neutral writings of Roebuck. Finally let me say this. Where Cricinfo succeeded was in selecting a 38-member jury across the globe and did not leave it to a 4/5 member panel of SMG/RS/IMC/...That is where the approach has succeeded. Let me also say that numbers play a very important part and if anyone ignores the numbers we will have opinionated, biased disasters. But numbers are not everything. I limit myself to numbers since that is the platform I have been given. If ever I have to a subjective assessment, I will use the objective conclusions as a platform. Ananth: ]]

  • srini on January 30, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    i forgot to add this, mcgrath did everything in the era of the batsman. i still hate the guy but due credit. btw anantha, although i am very inclined to agree that mcgrath might be the best test bowler, my heart prevents him getting ahead of marshall. the fact that marshall died at such a young age (even though he had a long fruitful career), puts him in a jimi hendrix/mozartian position.

  • srini on January 30, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    this really shows we cannot go purely by numbers in determining a player's worth. glenn mcgrath, imo, is the cricketer of the decade (and i hate that guy with all my heart). australia have lost exactly 3 series in his entire career. his value is best epitomized by the 2005 ashes. warne took 40 wickets spitting venom but an unfit mcgrath meant england won for the first time in 18 years. SRT's average drops 30 runs when mcgrath plays, lara's drops 20 runs. and it isnt like he is ordinary in odis. he is the highest wickettaker in WCs. although not in this decade, mcgrath came up with 2 devastating spells against WI and IND in must-win matches in the 99 WC. u can find flaws in any cricketer but mcgrath comes closest to being the flawless cricketer. there isn't a country where he's failed. there isn't batsman who's got the better of him. the only knock on him is that he is monotonous unlike akram or donald. unfortunately he'll never get the love he deserves because of shane warne.

  • saurabh on January 30, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    Quite Interestingly, Warne is at no.21 even though he was at no. 7 in Cricinfo list. Maybe he didn't play much ODI this decade has something to do with this. But surely his Test Performance alone is enough to boost the ranking.

  • Xolile on January 30, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    Cyrus, If your theory was right the credit crunch would never have happened. Experts tend to repeat the same sound bites over and over. Eventually they start believing their own half-baked drivel. That’s when big mistakes are made. In a small community such as cricket this happens all the time. You basically have 10-15 pundits who form opinions (Boycott, Chappell, Gavaskar, Benaud, etc). The rest just repeat what these guys say. In my experience gurus are often wrong. To have played Test cricket does not qualify you to be a good sports analyst. In fact, chances are pretty remote that you’ll excel in both disciplines.

  • alex on January 30, 2010, 14:05 GMT

    Ananth --- while on this topic, it might be nice to an article that ranks players on the extent they "carried" their teams. For a bowler: - # overs bowled / # overs bowled by their team (could do this for only the matches played by him or the matches played by his team) - same for # wickets - x/y where

    x: # "meaningful" innings (say, lasting, >60 overs) in which the bowler bowled > 22% overs; y: total # "meaningful" innings.

    Likewise for batsmen on two counts: # runs scored & # balls faced.

    Great to note that McGrath (& Lara) are quite close to Lee (& SRT) in test cricket despite playing only until WC 2007 ... to me that is a good sanity check.

    Lara (in tests) & McGrath as your personal #1 picks is interesting. I might place Lillee & Marshall ahead. No issue on Lara now but how wonderful would it be if SRT finishes real strong to a marathon 26 year test career (touch wood). [[ Alex I had to open a second plate for the new ideas since my current plate is full. All you guys make and shape the blog. Ananth: ]]

  • Cyrus on January 30, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Ananth To clarify: You had stated that "For once" a committee approach has worked very well etc. In my opinion "For once" a purely statistical approach has worked well. Usually a largish, well diversified committee consisting of experts(from different countries,ages etc) with a wide breadth and depth of knowledge and experience will get it right almost every single time. This is because they are capable of capturing and accounting for an infinite number of variables which are beyond the scope of statistics. Also, a well diversified group nullifies the effect of regional,personal,cultural and various other such biases.

  • Anwar-ul-Haque on January 30, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Great analysis! This list once again proved that Numbers DO matter...

    A request! I think we should try the same formula and find the lists of players of each decades from the past. Those lists would be very interesting too. Please consider this request.

  • Cyrus on January 30, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Ananth, As rgds. Your comment: “Overall I would say the jury did an excellent job. The numbers analysis supports them quite strongly. For once a committee approach has worked very well’…I would take the exactly opposite view. Usually, when you have a reasonably large number of “experts”- ex and current players, journalists, coaches, managers etc and with reasonable diversification – i.e. across nationalities, ages, clubs etc….So ensuring regional biases, individual favourites etc have been diversified away -the consensus opinion is generally the most accurate indicator of a player’s ability. This is because these views encompass innumerable factors which simply cannot be expressed statistically. As far as cricket is concerned these include – perception of strengths/weaknesses, allround abilities, the role of luck or otherwise in any given innings, sheer misfortune, strike rotation,etc etc etc ad infinitum…Let’s just say that the combined experience of viewing/experiencing etc cannot be encompassed by statistics. This committee approach(players, coaches,journos etc) has been followed for many years when FIFI selects their player of the year etc…and it is always accurate. Whereas, like recently when a “statistical” approach had been tried it never quite gave you the accurate picture. Except for a player who has completely outlandish stats like the Don, the statistics don’t usually work. So, in this case I would venture to say that it is actually the other way round – i.e. this is one of the few occasions where the statistics support the expert consensus. [[ Cyrus I am not sure what you are saying which differes from what I have said. I have said that the consensus approach has worked out well and is supported by numbers. You have also said the same thing. Let me also say that a few days back when Cricinfo did the team of the decade it was not as well-done as this one. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik (the original one) on January 30, 2010, 3:30 GMT

    South Africa has two of the top three, yet still never managed to become the dominant team.

    SA continue to be a whole less than the sum of its parts. -------------------------------

    Why did the non-Trinidadian clique out Lara? Given the shambolic state of West Indies cricket, that was possibly the worst thing to do. It would be the equivalent of Sinhalese cricketers ejecting Muralitharan, only to see a drop in win/loss ratio.

    [[ Kartik At the end of the World Cup, I remember Lara saying that the England tour would be his last one. Then a "respected" commentator/great player and another selector made statements that Lara could not take his place in the touring party as granted. This, from a country, which had no one performing with any degree of consistency. As if Lara suddenly would move down to the 8th best batsman in the islands. Lara promptly quit international cricket. Who lost. The cricketing world in general, Lara's millions of followers in particular and very severely, the West Indian cricket. Ananth: ]]

  • unni on January 30, 2010, 2:26 GMT

    Nice analysis, Ananth. I was amused by Abhi's comment on dead tests. Is it really possible for such an analysis? I mean define what is dead test and exclude those matches and publish averages for bolwers/batsmen. [[ Unni Quite a few skeletons will come out. However the analysis has to be done if not for anything but to respect Abhi's wonderful suggestion. Only innings which matter !!! Quite a mouth-watering idea. Added to my already over-flowing plate. Ananth: ]]

  • Jaya on January 29, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    @'Salim'.......and just how do you quantify or measure players performances in weak/strong sides. Is a five wicket haul taken by Murali any more difficult than one by Warne? In fact for Warne to take 5 wickets would surely be harder wouldn’t it? Did Murali have to share his wickets with McGrath, Gillespie, McGill etc? Yet i do see your point when it comes to batting. The responsibility to score big runs every time because the rest of the team were not always reliable is something Ponting and Tendulkar haven’t had to live with compared with Lara for example. How you measure this I do not know. Finding out the % of the teams runs scored be the player will show a little. Comparing Lara's average to the other 10 players in the team over his career will simply show he played for a poor team while he excelled. I think you are implying that Lara's efforts in the weak WI side from 2000 onwards have proved he COULD play under great pressure to deliver and did, whereas Ponting, Kallis, VIV even Tendulkar never had this problem (maybe different pressures but not playing in a weak team pressure).

  • Xolile on January 29, 2010, 17:47 GMT

    Ananth, Murali took 565 Test wickets and 335 ODI wickets in the 2000s. Or am I missing something? [[ X Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy. There was a minor problem in computing the fourth innings wickets. I have since corrected, changed the base to 600 wkts and republished the tables. As I expected there are only minor moves, the most significant one being that Murali moves above Jayasuriya and Tendulkar moves 4 positions up to no.6. One possibly welcome thing is that the specialists like Murali and Tendulkar have benefited at the expense of the all-rounders. Once again, many thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on January 29, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    Ananth, One small point: should wickets not be 600/400 - rather than 500/400? I suspect this small change will lift Murali above Pollock. Anyway, just a thought. [[ X Murali has taken the most wickets in both forms of the game. I have selected the factors in such a way that the highest wicket-taker almost gets the full value. Hence 500 and 400. However you have since pointed out that the wickets taken by Murali are 585. Let me check this out. Your correction seems to be right. As such I would re-work based on 600 and present the revised tables sometime tomorrow morning. I do not expect major moves though. I could have as well have had ODIs at 350 but that would have put ODI valuation slightly higher. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on January 29, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    WOW! I wish someone had told Viv and Tendulkar that future generations may actually consider “reducing” the value of their ODI runs! They would then have concentrated much more on Tests, thereby reducing much stress, pressure and career threatening injuries – and hence significantly boosting their Test stats.

    As per this reduced weightage for ODIs logic it may be argued that ANY “DEAD” Test match is much more “meaningless” than any live ODI. So , then we should eliminate ALL such Tests from future analyses. Trust me, if we remove dead Test rubbers- most ppl will be SHOCKED as they see their esteemed batsmen suddenly reduced to mere mortals as their run aggregates plummet along with their career avgs.-infact in the case of some highly regarded batsmen to well below the 50 run mark!!

    ALSO, sure perhaps the Captain’s role adds some value to a team. But how do you quantify that? We may then extend that logic to include in an analysis what value a player as a personality brings to the team and dressing room. So, how would you quantify the infinite value a Tendulkar brings to the dressing room? All these things are purely subjective and do not lend themselves to numbers.

  • Salim Mian on January 29, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    With the greatest respect to another great piece of work, let me throw this into the mix Ananth. C lloyd is considered a great captain, even more so than VIV. Both played for 'invincible' teams. It is thought Lloyd helped meld and glue the different cultures and attitudes of the Islands together. VIV took over the captancy and was more ruthless and unforgiving. YET both captains had at their disposal a selection of the greatest cricketers ever. Both have excellent test match figures as do Ponting, Kallis, Tendulkar, Waugh, Akram, McGrath, Warne, Dravid etc. All of these players mentioned have played in a so-call no1 ranked test team sometime in there careers. In fact India, Austrialia, SA even Pakistan have had at least two- three LEGEND (beyond world class) players playing in the same team at the same time.

    This is why Ponting, Warne, McGrath, Tendulkar, Dravid, Kallis, Pollock, Donald Wasim, Waqur, Inzi, ViV, Marshall etc personal performances are not as special (in my humble opinion) as Haddlee's Lara's Murli's or even Gavaskars.

    thank you and good night.

  • Shyam_Prasad on January 29, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    Come on, you think 20 days makes that much of a difference. In other words, you will take away Dowlin's hard-fought 95, Vettori's and Redmond's match-winning 70s in the fourth innings or that Inzamam classic of 138* when he steered Pakistan home by one wicket and so on. I would have had more respect for your comment if you had shown the consistency of thinking to say, "Yes, these recent performances also". But you want these to remain in the records. Ananth: I don't know what you are getting at. The recent performances by Indian players do not count anyway as they are in 2010-19 decade. In fact, SRT's double hundred made against Bangladesh in 2005 will get removed with my suggestion. I don't understand why you are so presumptuous in accusing me of a nationality bias. [[ Fine. I accept that you have no bias. Ananth: ]]

  • Muthu on January 29, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    I agree with ranking of most of the players. Closer look at sehwag's numbers tell a different story though. To me, Sehwag is an ordinary player in ODIs and exceptional player in tests. However, he has higher ODI score and lower test score. This needs to be looked into.

  • RSGarcia on January 29, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    I don't know if someone else has pointed this out, but it should be 'non-Trinidadian'. And yes, I'm a Trinidadian, who's still annoyed that they never once played our anthem in its proper entirety during the recently held 20/20 club championship. But getting to the stats, you have proved the point I made the instant I saw the Player of the Decade. Kallis was my number one. Ponting can be batsman of the decade, but not player.

  • Shyam_Prasad on January 29, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    To add to my earlier comment, I would remove Test match performances against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (post Heath Streak) from the statistics. [[ So according to you Tendulkar's, Dravid's and Gambhir's centuries and Zaheer Khan's 15 wickets should be erased from this analysis. Have you realized that Tendulkar's first-day 100 is probably better than his 240+. Ananth: ]] We are talking of the last decade Ananth, not the current one. I believe before the end of this decade Bangladesh would have improved vastly to be come a competitive team in all forms of the game. However, if you consider performances against them in your rating for the last decade you have to deal with the problem of balancing the quantity of matches each player has played against them to minimize bias. In a perfect world, where each team gets to play each other the same number of times it would not matter whether all teams are competitive or not but that was not the case in the last decade. [[ Come on, you think 20 days makes that much of a difference. In other words, you will take away Dowlin's hard-fought 95, Vettori's and Redmond's match-winning 70s in the fourth innings or that Inzamam classic of 138* when he steered Pakistan home by one wicket and so on. I would have had more respect for your comment if you had shown the consistency of thinking to say, "Yes, these recent performances also". But you want these to remain in the records. Ananth: ]]

  • Sushrut on January 29, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    your research shows that there is more to cricket than pure statistics!!! Jayasuriya cannot be in the top 10 list!!! neither can Shaun Pollock having retired 2 years ago!!! [[ Did not they play for the first 8 years. Why this negative feeling towards two great cricketers. Because they have come ahead of a few other fancied players. Incidentally what you say makes Pollock's achievements all the more creditable since he has had only 8 years to do what he has done. If what you say is to be taken in, Lara, Ganguly, Inzamam, McGrath, Kumble et al cannot be in this list since they have all retired. Ananth: ]]

  • Dhaval Malte on January 29, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    Excellent work. I feel allrounders deserved the extra points they got, after all everything you do as a PLAYER counts. And we are finding PLAYER of the decade any ways ! ;) [[ Ah Finally someone who has clearly understood that we are looking for Player of the decade, not Batsman, Bowler, Captain or what have we. Everything a player does on the field counts, none more than the other. Unfortunately we do not have enough information on run outs and fielding. Also readers will notice that 100s/5-wkt hauls are not considered separately. they are included in the total. Nobody should decry ODIs. That form of cricket was the only one where there was a World Cup until two years back. And winning the World Cup was, for many players and followers, the ultimate goal. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Shete on January 29, 2010, 10:57 GMT

    I feel we are going too much by figures. By my reckoning, there are 4 players who have actually changed the way game is played. They happen once in a century rather than once a decade. They are -- 1. Murali---565 wickete in 84 tests @ almost 7/test, strike rate and economy rates better than most fast bowlers. 2. Warne---Legbreak bowler with the accuracy of a medium pacer capturing @ 5.25 wickets/test while operating with McGrath, Gillespie, Fleming. Economy rate and Strike rates better than most fast bowlers. 3. Adam Gilchrist ---Could hold his place in the champion team as a batsman alone, but caps it with more than 400 victims in less than 100 tests. 4. Sehwag --- Changed the currency of test openership. Double and triple centuries by a test opener at less than a run a ball ? Hutton and Hobbs would faint. ( Maybe Bradman too ! ) [[ I am sure you should expect the numbers to be the SOLE criteria in this analysis since that is premise I started with. Ananth: ]]

  • sreecharan on January 29, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    [[ On the contrary the away runs get higher credit. Ananth: ]]

    but where ? in the list of the criterea you selected there is no mention about credit to playing in 'away' or 'home' conditions, please clarify !! As I know jayawardena averages about '40' in tests in 'away' conditions but nearly '70' at home, but for dravid it is opposite, so where are these factors considered ? I want to know if they are considered [[ I cannot do anything more than re-iterating that away performances carry higher weight in both runs scored and batting average. Ananth: ]]

  • Shyam_Prasad on January 29, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    To add to my earlier comment, I would remove Test match performances against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (post Heath Streak) from the statistics. [[ So according to you Tendulkar's, Dravid's and Gambhir's centuries and Zaheer Khan's 15 wickets should be erased from this analysis. Have you realized that Tendulkar's first-day 100 is probably better than his 240+. Ananth: ]]

  • ted on January 29, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    australia picks the best player to be captain.ponting is captain of the best side during the 90s. get over it ponting is the best batsmen austraia has produce in 20 years or maybe more.he is better then lara for sure and if not tendulkar

  • Shyam_Prasad on January 29, 2010, 10:07 GMT

    Good effort. As James suggested, I think Test performances should be given greater importance than ODIs. You could rectify this by counting only the non-bilateral ODIs for consideration. World Cup and Champions Trophy performances should be weighed separately/given greater weight than other tournaments. MoM is subjective and since most the time it is awarded to performances in a winning cause I feel you are double-counting on this aspect. You should either have MoMs or Wins, not both. Lastly, averages should be given greater weight than the volume of runs or wickets. This is essential to reduce the advantage gained by players who got to play more matches than others.

  • Greg on January 29, 2010, 10:03 GMT

    Great analysis but I agree with the comments on all rounders being marked higher. So couldn't you just split the data and produce a further two tables- one for bowling figures only and one for batting figures only. Not to replace your overall analysis but to complement it and show the highest ranking in each discipline only.

  • malkam on January 29, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    Excellent analysis once again Anant. As some people expressed my only concern is about a lot of bits and piece bowlers getting ahead of the true stalwarts of game especially based on the wickets they have earned with their part-time bowling in ODIs. Yes, these were important contributions but to weigh them at 35% might not be correct. I dont have any issue with Kallis/Flintoff etc as they are selected and treated as genuine all-rounders but for the others I think the weightage is too much. Even there, I have this complaint that you are not giving enough weightage to wicket keepers, yes there is a 5% for stumping which no other player can reach and probably a part of 5% for catching which nobody else would come close to but they lose out a 17.5% on bowling, which is not fair in my opinion.

    Also it would be great if we can have a similar list for last decade as well.

    May be the weightage for batting and bowling can be decided by having an upper limit

    regards, malkam

  • David on January 29, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    I agree with Cyrus on the best "player" point - that's basically what I was trying to say regarding captaincy. While we can debate the relative value of Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting as batsmen, there's no question that as captain Ponting is way ahead - and therefore a more valuable player (in my opinion also than Kallis for this very reason). And for those who say Ponting's an ordinary captain, or that anyone could have captained recent Australian teams successfully, that's being naive. Captains have a significant role to play in making good players into champions. Remember that Warne and McGrath were both ordinary in the beginning; the captaincy of Taylor and Waugh helped create the champions they became. Ponting has also had success in forming players - Lee was wasted by Waugh, but had his best years under Ponting. Then also Clarke, Johnson, Haddin, Watson, Hussey - all Ponting products. Look at the comparable waste of talent in Pakistan since Imran retired. Captaincy matters a lot! [[ And the captaincy has been given some credit, maybe not as much as some might want. Ananth: ]]

  • Prasad on January 29, 2010, 8:24 GMT

    I cant believe that Rahul Dravid comes after Sangakarra, Jayasuriya, Gayle, Flintoff....just another case of he not getting his due..!! Were there points for onfield behavior and selflessness...!!

  • Sreecharan on January 29, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    I see there is atleast one very important element missing in your analysis, i.e the percentage of runs scored/wickets taken in 'away' matches must get higher rating than runns scored in 'home' conditions. Thats why I thought how come jayawardena be better than dravid ? can someone think about it please ? lets calculate the numbers again by taking this factor and you will see many sri lankans come at lower levels in the list [[ On the contrary the away runs get higher credit. Ananth: ]]

  • Cyrus on January 29, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    1) Firstly I am loathe to give greater weightage to Tests. It is the hallmark of most great sportsmen that all battles are given equal value. Sure, Federer or Nadal would love to win Grand slams most of all, but would they really throw away a “meaningless” match against one another in say Doha? The truly elite sportsman would always put up his best performance, no matter what. McEnroe, used to give his all even in Davis cup dead rubbers. I remember one finishing in the middle of the night in France somewhere. A performance which greatly endeared him to the paying French public. During the match fixing crisis phase, there were some players who perhaps felt the same way you do. But there were calls that the match fixers should actually be tried for “Manslaughter”!! Why? Because it was quite common to see a few people who died of cardiac arrests during say India-Pak matches- and all the while the matches had apparently been rigged! Matches may be “meaningless” for a certain section of fans. But if they are similarly meaningless for an elite athlete, he shouldn’t be there. i.e he simply shouldn’t’ take part. But if he does take part- it is an insult to him, his opponent and the public if he treats the same in a shabby manner. 2) I agree with your point about the “pure” bowlers. But the fact is that we are trying to determine Best “Player”...so, anything that adds value to a team simply must be included. Sure, in “pure” bowling terms McGrath would be better than Jaya, but in terms of “total value added” …all factors require to be taken into account. 3) As rgds. Who is the “best” …we all have our favourites. - and I beg to differ with you gentlemen So let’s not even GO there!!

  • Amit on January 29, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Ananth, nice analysis yet again. I have to admit that this is one of the rare times my gut feel disagreed with your list. This can be partly explained away by equal emphasis on tests and ODI, allowing too many ODI 'allrounders' to sneak in the list. Another key missing criteria may be the performance against the best teams. A laxman would rate higher in my world than a jayasurya or gayle in the last decade. BTW, no problem with Kallis and Ponting at the top. However, Mcgrath impact is not reflected correctly and just like you I believe he is the best bowler ever. I also think sehwag will suffer a similar fate, where numbers would not justify his impact. -amit [[ Amit As I have referred to earlier, I have set aside any consideration other than a strict interpretation of numbers subject to the formula laid down. There will be heartburns. Ananth: ]]

  • Joe on January 29, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    Ananth, could you publish a similar analysis for the 1990s decade as well. Thanks. [[ Joe Could easily be done. For that matter for all the recent decades. Will do that sometime later. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanchez on January 29, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    I think the reason why the jury may have ignored Jayasuriya and Pollock is that while they were great in the 2000s, they were better in the 90s.

    I think it is interesting that when anyone is presented with a list like this, it has to 'feel right'. Even if you purely use numbers and nothing else, do you look at it and think 'yeah, that is about right' or do you think 'no way is that right'.

    I wonder, were players who were captains punished for poor results? [[ Sanchez (too spanish/mexican for a cricket supporter !!!) Let us look at positively. Wins and winning captains are rewarded than the other way around. Ananth: ]]

  • James on January 29, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Thanks for the reply Ananth. I see your position, I'm just pointing out what I don't like :). I just think if a guy is picked as a bowler for example, he should be judged more on his bowling. Was Glenn McGrath really worse than Vaas or Vettori or even Lee during this decade? I wouldn't say so. But I think the runs those 3 scored have elevated them when it's not their main role. Handy sure, but they're really a bonus and if I were doing the study, I would weight their batting contributions a LITTLE less.

    And the other thing I forgot to mention before is the cricinfo jury. I'm assuming they would generally have put a higher weight on Test performances. Rightly so in my opinion as there are too many meaningless ODI tournaments and Tests are the pinnacle of cricket for me. My opinion aside, that's why some of the jury would have been voting for Lara as player of the decade - Test performances > ODI performances. [[ James I read you 100%. Let me wait for a consensus re tests/odis, bowling/batting, runs/wickets etc before looking at any tweaking. You will understand that I have to make sure I am not awayed by my own preferences. I personally think McGrath is the best test fast bowler ever and Lara is the best test batsmen, barring one. Please see how these numbers have treated them. Let me (and you) take it on the chin and move forward. Ananth: ]]

  • Samir on January 29, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    Anant, good work, but for two criticisms: firstly, catching is a poor surrogate for fielding (unlike runs for batting and wickets for bowling). An average slip fielder will have far more catches than a brilliant cover fielder (Rhodes, a great fielder, had 34 catches in 52 tests). Secondly, wins should not count, despite the cliche that wins matter the most. We are looking at individual performances here, and chances are if 2 players from opposing sides make the same score, the one on the loosing side probably made it against better bowling and more trying circumstances and not the other way around. That apart, I like your analysis, excellent work [[ Samir By leaving out nothing of importance I have made sure that numbers are "all numbers". Results have their part tpo play so do catches. There is no way to measure fielding other than catches/stumpings. Until the day we have over 10 years of data relating to runs saved & run outs every comment on fielding is subjective. Certainly correct but subjective. Even in catches how can we distinguish between the Kapil-1983 catch or the Angelo Mathews catch and many routine catches taken at mid-on or deep-square-leg. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on January 29, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    A timely analysis ...job well done..

    The result is a fine example of how subjectivity and numerical analysis are not far off...

    I agree with your results of Top 10 more than Cricinfo's... especially the top 2.

    Ponting's captaincy is a big let down and that should pull him down...infact I would place him in 3rd after Gilly as Gilly's contribution in making Australia unbeatable is as good if not better than Warne & Mcgrath.. he is a once in a generation player and has redifined the role of a WK...

    You might b criticised for equating Test & ODI equally..but I guess equating them is quite fair.

    Lara's order is the biggest surprise in the list...but what could be argued on facts....nothing...

    2nd biggest surprise for me is Sanath and I always felt that he is overrated... his consistancy is very questionable in 2000's.. he is a better Afridi and thats all..

    Finally...I totally agree with ur personal top 6 as they r my top 6 too...:-)

  • Michael Aubrey on January 29, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    good analysis, but it seems to me that by combining the batting & bowling figures that you are overly favouring all-rounders over other players, and the list reflects that I think. While I agree Kallis probably deserves the top spot, Pollock & Freddie seem too high, and Razzaq somehow made the list. Also Gayle & Jaya Seem a bit higher than they should be, no doubt to the wickets they grab with their one-day bowling, which while an invaluable string to their bows probably skews this list in their favour a bit. I also find it hard to believe that Vaas had better bowling figures than McGrath for the decade, and it doesn't seem right that his batting should push him ahead. Of course, I am not 100% sure how you took into account the all-round figures, so feel free to correct me. [[ Michael Vaas almost gets into the all-rounder category. Please also remember that this is to determine the best player, taking into account everything including results. Ananth: ]]

  • David on January 28, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    What I mean by my previous comment is that in cricket, more so than in any other sport, the captain has a hugely significant influence on the outcome of a match - much more than any other individual player (just compare Ponting and Yousuf in the recent Aus-Pak series for one of the clearest examples ever!). So if we're talking about the players of the decade, then I think captaincy must receive a much greater weighting than you have given it. We all know of cricketers whose significance to the team had as much if not more to do with their captaincy than their other skills (Brearley, Fleming, Mark Taylor towards the end of his career). This, in my mind, is what makes Smith much more important than his batting/fielding stats might suggest. Am I exaggerating their importance too much by suggesting captaincy should equal 50% of the weighting of batting or bowling? [[ That will be too high. After all batting/bowling/fielding are the conrnet-stone and have been given 80%. The non-performance measures have been given 20%. One could think of this going up tp 25%. Ananth: ]]

  • David on January 28, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Nice analysis. The only point for debate really is the relative weighting of the measures you use. So, for example, I would make captaincy a bigger proportion than fielding, since fielders can only take catches if the captain has put them in the right position. If this mitigates against wicket keepers, then make stumpings their own category.

  • James on January 28, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    I like the attempt Ananth :) And it looks pretty good, with most of the big names up there. I just feel there are too many all-rounders in the top 10. Pollock and Kallis are certainly worthy. Jayasuriya, Gayle and Flintoff however would NOT be in my top 10 list and possibly not even my top 20. Even Daniel Vettori would probably be getting quite a boost from his batting. It just doesn't pass my smell test that these guys should be ahead of 'specialist' guys that can't bat/bowl like Hayden, McGrath or Ntini. Jayasuriya seems to have the most ODI value of the decade. He's a valuable player because of his bat and ball contributions sure, but to me he's not brilliant and more of a bits and pieces player - especially now. But because he has to bowl so much he's suddenly at the top of the tree - yet he wouldn't be picked as a specialist bowler. I think my solution would be to lessen the weight a bit of an all-rounders secondary skill eg. Vettori's batting, Kallis' bowling. [[ A wicket whether it is taken by McGrath or Vettori or Tendulkar has to have the same weight. Similarly a run whether it is scored by Ponting or Flintoff or Murali has to have the same weight. That is a fair and just way of dealing wil players. Ananth: ]]

  • Shridhar Jaju on January 28, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    I am impressed. Very impressed. You have done a very detailed study and given a very clear picture. I have always believed that numbers speak a story of their own, and this one was a truly fascinating story. Pollock in top 5 and Flintoff & Gayle in top 10 were truly surprising, though I must agree that Pollock deserves his high position.

  • saurabh somani on January 28, 2010, 20:05 GMT

    cannot pass any objective judgment on the ranking, because you haven't shown us the forumlae used! E.g. its fine to give batting a weightage of 35%, but how does a batsman get points? how does strike rate, average etc interact? how do you normalize bowling points to ensure they are on the same scale as batting points? would be very helpful if you could add these bits of information! purely intuitively, it seems that no one should be able to challenge kallis numbers-wise, and ur analysis says that, but i'm still eager to know exactly how you got there! [[ In summary. Numbers to get maximum for Tests/ODIs. Runs: 10000/10000 Wkts: 500/400 BatAvge: 60/60 BowAvge: 20/20 Ct/St: 400/400 Wins: 150/200 Capts: 150/200 MOMs: 16/30 ODI S/R:1.25 for max ODI Rpo: 3.0 for max. Other readers also to note and not ask for this again and again. Ananth: ]]

  • Gurinder on January 28, 2010, 18:36 GMT

    Surely Flintoff's numbers can't be better than Tendulkar's. Very surprising indeed. [[ They are certainly comparable. Flintoff: 8000/370 Tenfulkar: 15900/86. Ananth: ]]

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  • Gurinder on January 28, 2010, 18:36 GMT

    Surely Flintoff's numbers can't be better than Tendulkar's. Very surprising indeed. [[ They are certainly comparable. Flintoff: 8000/370 Tenfulkar: 15900/86. Ananth: ]]

  • saurabh somani on January 28, 2010, 20:05 GMT

    cannot pass any objective judgment on the ranking, because you haven't shown us the forumlae used! E.g. its fine to give batting a weightage of 35%, but how does a batsman get points? how does strike rate, average etc interact? how do you normalize bowling points to ensure they are on the same scale as batting points? would be very helpful if you could add these bits of information! purely intuitively, it seems that no one should be able to challenge kallis numbers-wise, and ur analysis says that, but i'm still eager to know exactly how you got there! [[ In summary. Numbers to get maximum for Tests/ODIs. Runs: 10000/10000 Wkts: 500/400 BatAvge: 60/60 BowAvge: 20/20 Ct/St: 400/400 Wins: 150/200 Capts: 150/200 MOMs: 16/30 ODI S/R:1.25 for max ODI Rpo: 3.0 for max. Other readers also to note and not ask for this again and again. Ananth: ]]

  • Shridhar Jaju on January 28, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    I am impressed. Very impressed. You have done a very detailed study and given a very clear picture. I have always believed that numbers speak a story of their own, and this one was a truly fascinating story. Pollock in top 5 and Flintoff & Gayle in top 10 were truly surprising, though I must agree that Pollock deserves his high position.

  • James on January 28, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    I like the attempt Ananth :) And it looks pretty good, with most of the big names up there. I just feel there are too many all-rounders in the top 10. Pollock and Kallis are certainly worthy. Jayasuriya, Gayle and Flintoff however would NOT be in my top 10 list and possibly not even my top 20. Even Daniel Vettori would probably be getting quite a boost from his batting. It just doesn't pass my smell test that these guys should be ahead of 'specialist' guys that can't bat/bowl like Hayden, McGrath or Ntini. Jayasuriya seems to have the most ODI value of the decade. He's a valuable player because of his bat and ball contributions sure, but to me he's not brilliant and more of a bits and pieces player - especially now. But because he has to bowl so much he's suddenly at the top of the tree - yet he wouldn't be picked as a specialist bowler. I think my solution would be to lessen the weight a bit of an all-rounders secondary skill eg. Vettori's batting, Kallis' bowling. [[ A wicket whether it is taken by McGrath or Vettori or Tendulkar has to have the same weight. Similarly a run whether it is scored by Ponting or Flintoff or Murali has to have the same weight. That is a fair and just way of dealing wil players. Ananth: ]]

  • David on January 28, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Nice analysis. The only point for debate really is the relative weighting of the measures you use. So, for example, I would make captaincy a bigger proportion than fielding, since fielders can only take catches if the captain has put them in the right position. If this mitigates against wicket keepers, then make stumpings their own category.

  • David on January 28, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    What I mean by my previous comment is that in cricket, more so than in any other sport, the captain has a hugely significant influence on the outcome of a match - much more than any other individual player (just compare Ponting and Yousuf in the recent Aus-Pak series for one of the clearest examples ever!). So if we're talking about the players of the decade, then I think captaincy must receive a much greater weighting than you have given it. We all know of cricketers whose significance to the team had as much if not more to do with their captaincy than their other skills (Brearley, Fleming, Mark Taylor towards the end of his career). This, in my mind, is what makes Smith much more important than his batting/fielding stats might suggest. Am I exaggerating their importance too much by suggesting captaincy should equal 50% of the weighting of batting or bowling? [[ That will be too high. After all batting/bowling/fielding are the conrnet-stone and have been given 80%. The non-performance measures have been given 20%. One could think of this going up tp 25%. Ananth: ]]

  • Michael Aubrey on January 29, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    good analysis, but it seems to me that by combining the batting & bowling figures that you are overly favouring all-rounders over other players, and the list reflects that I think. While I agree Kallis probably deserves the top spot, Pollock & Freddie seem too high, and Razzaq somehow made the list. Also Gayle & Jaya Seem a bit higher than they should be, no doubt to the wickets they grab with their one-day bowling, which while an invaluable string to their bows probably skews this list in their favour a bit. I also find it hard to believe that Vaas had better bowling figures than McGrath for the decade, and it doesn't seem right that his batting should push him ahead. Of course, I am not 100% sure how you took into account the all-round figures, so feel free to correct me. [[ Michael Vaas almost gets into the all-rounder category. Please also remember that this is to determine the best player, taking into account everything including results. Ananth: ]]

  • Sesha on January 29, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    A timely analysis ...job well done..

    The result is a fine example of how subjectivity and numerical analysis are not far off...

    I agree with your results of Top 10 more than Cricinfo's... especially the top 2.

    Ponting's captaincy is a big let down and that should pull him down...infact I would place him in 3rd after Gilly as Gilly's contribution in making Australia unbeatable is as good if not better than Warne & Mcgrath.. he is a once in a generation player and has redifined the role of a WK...

    You might b criticised for equating Test & ODI equally..but I guess equating them is quite fair.

    Lara's order is the biggest surprise in the list...but what could be argued on facts....nothing...

    2nd biggest surprise for me is Sanath and I always felt that he is overrated... his consistancy is very questionable in 2000's.. he is a better Afridi and thats all..

    Finally...I totally agree with ur personal top 6 as they r my top 6 too...:-)

  • Samir on January 29, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    Anant, good work, but for two criticisms: firstly, catching is a poor surrogate for fielding (unlike runs for batting and wickets for bowling). An average slip fielder will have far more catches than a brilliant cover fielder (Rhodes, a great fielder, had 34 catches in 52 tests). Secondly, wins should not count, despite the cliche that wins matter the most. We are looking at individual performances here, and chances are if 2 players from opposing sides make the same score, the one on the loosing side probably made it against better bowling and more trying circumstances and not the other way around. That apart, I like your analysis, excellent work [[ Samir By leaving out nothing of importance I have made sure that numbers are "all numbers". Results have their part tpo play so do catches. There is no way to measure fielding other than catches/stumpings. Until the day we have over 10 years of data relating to runs saved & run outs every comment on fielding is subjective. Certainly correct but subjective. Even in catches how can we distinguish between the Kapil-1983 catch or the Angelo Mathews catch and many routine catches taken at mid-on or deep-square-leg. Ananth: ]]

  • James on January 29, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Thanks for the reply Ananth. I see your position, I'm just pointing out what I don't like :). I just think if a guy is picked as a bowler for example, he should be judged more on his bowling. Was Glenn McGrath really worse than Vaas or Vettori or even Lee during this decade? I wouldn't say so. But I think the runs those 3 scored have elevated them when it's not their main role. Handy sure, but they're really a bonus and if I were doing the study, I would weight their batting contributions a LITTLE less.

    And the other thing I forgot to mention before is the cricinfo jury. I'm assuming they would generally have put a higher weight on Test performances. Rightly so in my opinion as there are too many meaningless ODI tournaments and Tests are the pinnacle of cricket for me. My opinion aside, that's why some of the jury would have been voting for Lara as player of the decade - Test performances > ODI performances. [[ James I read you 100%. Let me wait for a consensus re tests/odis, bowling/batting, runs/wickets etc before looking at any tweaking. You will understand that I have to make sure I am not awayed by my own preferences. I personally think McGrath is the best test fast bowler ever and Lara is the best test batsmen, barring one. Please see how these numbers have treated them. Let me (and you) take it on the chin and move forward. Ananth: ]]