Ratings March 31, 2010

The top players of the last 40 years

This is the third article to round off the series I had undertaken to analyse the players who played ODIs and Tests
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Jacques Kallis: a class act in Tests and ODIs, with bat and ball © AFP
This is the third article to round off the series I had undertaken to analyse the players who played ODIs and Tests. The first looked at the top batsmen and the second looked at the top bowlers. This one looks at the top players over these forty years, combining batting, bowling and fielding. The base for this analysis are the two earlier analysis. So detailed explanations will not be given.

The key points are mentioned below.

1. Tests and ODIs carry equal weight of 50 points. I do not subscribe to the view that ODIs should carry lower weight. Over the years the best players have demonstrated equal commitment and performed at the top level in both formats. It would be unfair to treat these two formats differently. Let me confess that I would never accord any form of T20 this equal status.

2. Batting and Bowling carry equal weight, (viz) 45 points each, i-e, 22.5 each for Tests and ODIs. There is a very important adjustment made on these to take care of the specialist players. This is explained below.

3. Fielding carries a weight of 10 points, split equally between Tests and ODIs. 5 points will be given for 500 dismissals in both formats. I know this will benefit the wicket-keepers. Let me say that that is the main purpose, to reward the most difficult of cricketing tasks.

4. In summary, the following adjustments are built in the batting and bowling analysis. This has been given to preempt questions on these.
- Period based adjustment for batting average and strike rate (for ODIs).
- Period based adjustment for bowling average and runs per over.
- Weighted bowler quality for batting and batsmen quality for bowling.
- Quality of wickets captured for bowling.
- Peer comparisons for batting average and strike rate (for ODIs).
- Peer comparisons for bowling average and runs per over.
- Team strengths incorporated in batting and bowling valuations.

6. For the Batting and Bowling analyses, I had set 1000 runs and 100 wickets as the cut-off levels. However I have to do it differently here as otherwise, great specialist players such as Lara and McGrath will miss out. Hence I have kept the cut-off at 20 Tests and 40 ODI matches respectively. The cut-off for ODIs is kept at a slightly lower level of 40 to take care of the early years when a player could play for 5 years and play only 40 matches.

5. Finally the very significant and major adjustment I have done to benefit the specialist players. This is essential since the all-rounders start with a built-in advantage, securing points on both. In fact before this adjustment, 17 of the top-20 were all-rounders. The adjustment methodology is explained below.

- First the total of unadjusted batting and bowling points are determined.
- The proportion of batting points out of this total of batting+bowling points is determined. If this proportion is less than 0.33, the player is deemed to be a specialist batsman (who might or might not bowl) and his batting points are adjusted by upto 12.5%. The 12.5% will be applicable for pure batsmen such as Hayden, Gilchrist, Dravid et al.
- The proportion of bowling points out of this total of batting+bowling points is determined. If this proportion is less than 0.33, the player is a specialist bowler (who could hold a bat almost always) and his bowling points are adjusted by upto 12.5%. There is a slight difference to batting in that the bowlers always bat and will never have zero batting points. The highest adjustment of around 9% is for bowlers who are very average batsmen such as Alderman, McGrath et al.
- This adjustment is done separately for Test matches and ODIs to take care of varying player performances. Tendulkar is only a "batsman who bowls" in Tests, with 44 wickets, but is almost an all-rounder in ODIs, with 154 wickets. Similarly there are bowlers who have performed as a batsman more effectively in ODIs than Tests.

Since the Australia-New Zealand Test finished early on the fifth day I was able to include that Test and make these the end-of-season analysis. The impact of the Test is that Ponting slipped down a place while Johnson and Ross Taylor moved up.

Let us look at the tables. There is so much data that it is impossible to present everything. Since most of the data has been presented and discussed in the previous two articles, only the player analysis related tables are presented here. The first table shows the total points and Test/ODI split.

SNo TotPts Player name        Cty    Test    ODIs

1. 60.80 Kallis J.H Saf 31.06 29.74 2. 57.42 Pollock S.M Saf 27.16 30.26 3. 56.96 Tendulkar S.R Ind 26.57 30.39 4. 55.30 Wasim Akram Pak 23.97 31.33 5. 55.17 Imran Khan Pak 28.10 27.07 6. 54.38 Kapil Dev N Ind 25.24 29.14 7. 53.48 Hadlee R.J Nzl 27.14 26.34 8. 52.83 Waugh S.R Aus 26.92 25.91 9. 52.12 Jayasuriya S.T Slk 21.50 30.62 10. 51.83 Richards I.V.A Win 23.17 28.66 11. 51.75 Botham I.T Eng 27.47 24.28 12. 50.65 Muralitharan M Slk 25.58 25.07 13. 49.59 Warne S.K Aus 26.67 22.92 14. 49.52 Cairns C.L Nzl 23.05 26.47 15. 49.09 Flintoff A Eng 21.66 27.43 16. 49.03 Border A.R Aus 25.86 23.17 17. 47.16 Hooper C.L Win 20.99 26.17 18. 47.09 Waugh M.E Aus 21.97 25.12 19. 46.68 Vettori D.L Nzl 21.68 24.99 20. 46.52 Chappell G.S Aus 23.94 22.58 21. 46.15 Vaas WPUJC Slk 20.46 25.69 22. 45.35 Sehwag V Ind 20.49 24.86 23. 45.28 Gayle C.H Win 18.79 26.49 24. 45.27 Ponting R.T Aus 24.11 21.16 25. 44.97 Gilchrist A.C Aus 20.92 24.05 26. 44.27 Lara B.C Win 24.54 19.73 27. 44.10 Waqar Younis Pak 20.38 23.72 28. 43.82 Marshall M.D Win 24.10 19.72 29. 43.40 Ganguly S.C Ind 18.12 25.28 30. 43.15 Shahid Afridi Pak 14.74 28.40

Kallis sits at the top of this collection of outstanding players on merit. His status as an all-rounder par excellence is fully justified. A self-effacing performer, it is difficult to think of a single match in which he has not performed in one area or other. In international matches his tally of 21456 runs, 512 wickets and 255 catches is unlikely to be surpassed ever. As far as runs/wkts against average opposition teams, let me remind the readers of two things. One is that an adjustment has been made for the team quality. Sceond is that almost every top player, at one time or other would have got some relatively easy runs/wkts.

If there is a surprise at the second-placed player, it will only be an indication of the quiet manner in which the unheralded Shaun Pollock has performed in the international scene. And if there is a criticism of this high placing it will only be in the minds of the biased and partisan. In international matches his tally of 7300 runs, 814 wickets and 168 catches is an indication of his outstanding skills. His bowling average is either side of 24 in the two forms of the game. He Test batting average of 32.32 is higher than that of many an established Test batsman.

Tendulkar is next. What does one say of this great player, inarguably amongst the three greatest players of all time in anyone's book. How can a guy be so good in whatever he does. The best in many batting milestones, no mean bowler in ODIs and helped in Tests by the specialist player adjustment. That his still-increasing tally of international 31045 runs will remain forever the Everest to be scaled, like the 19-wickets capture of Laker, is undisputed. To boot, 188 wickets and 226 catches. Finally how can such a great player be so unaffected by success and adulation. A fairly dubious ball-tampering charge remains the single grey-mark in 21 years of playing at the top level.

Now come two Pakistani great players. First Wasim Akram, among the greatest left-handed bowlers of all time and a fearless attacking batsman. He overcame personal health problems with such a level of performance that he should be a role model for any aspiring sportsman. His international tally stands at 6615 runs, 916 wickets and 119 catches. Undoubtedly a candidate for the best ever left-handed all-rounder.

Then the charismatic Imran Khan. His batting only suffers in comparison to his bowling. His bowling performance against India in the series is among the best ever in the sub-continent. He missed over 15 Tests as a bowler, otherwise he would be placed higher. And let us not forget that his captaincy record is outside the scope of this analysis. His numbers stand at 7516 runs, 544 wickets and 63 catches.

The top-10 list is completed by Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee, Steve Waugh, Jayasuriya and Viv Richards. One could argue on the relative placements. However these ten are among the best players of all time.

Two each from South Africa, Pakistan, India and one each from Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and West Indies comprise the top-10.

Just outside the top-10 are Muralitharan and Warne. Many a specialist great player like Lara, McGrath, Dravid, Gilchrist, Kumble et al are outside the top-10, but in the top-30. This is understandable and should be accepted by all. After all we are talking about players, not batsmen or bowlers.

To view/download the complete table list, please click/right-click here and save the file.

Now for three more support tables. First the table showing the total points, split into batting, bowling and fielding.

SNo TotPts Player name        Cty    Bat     Bow    Fld

1. 60.80 Kallis J.H Saf 35.54 22.71 2.55 2. 57.42 Pollock S.M Saf 23.22 32.53 1.68 3. 56.96 Tendulkar S.R Ind 43.74 10.96 2.26 4. 55.30 Wasim Akram Pak 20.42 33.69 1.19 5. 55.17 Imran Khan Pak 25.33 29.21 0.63 6. 54.38 Kapil Dev N Ind 25.52 27.59 1.27 7. 53.48 Hadlee R.J Nzl 21.08 31.77 0.63 8. 52.83 Waugh S.R Aus 34.36 16.29 2.18 9. 52.12 Jayasuriya S.T Slk 31.08 19.21 1.83 10. 51.83 Richards I.V.A Win 38.07 11.66 2.10 11. 51.75 Botham I.T Eng 24.55 25.70 1.50 12. 50.65 Muralitharan M Slk 7.88 41.11 1.66 13. 49.59 Warne S.K Aus 13.48 34.21 1.90 14. 49.52 Cairns C.L Nzl 25.06 23.69 0.77 15. 49.09 Flintoff A Eng 24.21 23.94 0.94 16. 49.03 Border A.R Aus 35.34 11.01 2.68 17. 47.16 Hooper C.L Win 27.63 17.35 2.17 18. 47.09 Waugh M.E Aus 32.18 12.08 2.83 19. 46.68 Vettori D.L Nzl 20.90 24.61 1.17 20. 46.52 Chappell G.S Aus 33.52 11.57 1.43 21. 46.15 Vaas WPUJC Slk 17.24 28.12 0.78 22. 45.35 Sehwag V Ind 34.76 9.23 1.36 23. 45.28 Gayle C.H Win 28.97 14.66 1.66 24. 45.27 Ponting R.T Aus 41.82 0.28 3.17 25. 44.97 Gilchrist A.C Aus 36.07 0.00 8.90 26. 44.27 Lara B.C Win 41.43 0.00 2.84 27. 44.10 Waqar Younis Pak 10.20 33.41 0.49 28. 43.82 Marshall M.D Win 13.36 30.10 0.36 29. 43.40 Ganguly S.C Ind 31.53 10.18 1.69 30. 43.15 Shahid Afridi Pak 26.69 15.53 0.93

To view/download the complete table, please click/right-click here and save the file.

Now for the second support table. This shows the base numbers in terms of Test matches, runs, wickets, catches and averages.

SNo  Player name        Cty Mat  Runs   Avge Wkts   Avge Ct/S

1. Kallis J.H Saf 137 10843 (54.76) 261 (31.56) 156 2. Pollock S.M Saf 108 3781 (32.32) 421 (23.12) 72 3. Tendulkar S.R Ind 166 13447 (55.57) 44 (52.27) 104 4. Wasim Akram Pak 104 2898 (22.64) 414 (23.62) 43 5. Imran Khan Pak 88 3807 (37.69) 362 (22.81) 28 6. Kapil Dev N Ind 131 5248 (31.05) 434 (29.65) 64 7. Hadlee R.J Nzl 86 3124 (27.17) 431 (22.30) 39 8. Waugh S.R Aus 168 10927 (51.06) 92 (37.45) 112 9. Jayasuriya S.T Slk 110 6973 (40.07) 98 (34.35) 78 10. Richards I.V.A Win 121 8540 (50.24) 32 (61.38) 122 11. Botham I.T Eng 102 5200 (33.55) 383 (28.40) 120 12. Muralitharan M Slk 132 1256 (11.63) 792 (22.71) 72 13. Warne S.K Aus 145 3154 (17.33) 708 (25.42) 125 14. Cairns C.L Nzl 62 3320 (33.54) 218 (29.40) 14 15. Flintoff A Eng 79 3845 (31.78) 226 (32.79) 52

To view/download the complete table, please click/right-click here and save the file.

And the third support table. This shows the base numbers in terms of ODI matches, runs, wickets, catches, averages and strike rates.

SNo  Player name      Cty Mat  Runs   Avge- StRt Wkts   Avge-RpO Ct/S

1. Kallis J.H Saf 298 10613 (45.75- 72.4) 251 (32.01-4.8) 99 2. Pollock S.M Saf 303 3519 (26.46- 86.7) 393 (24.51-3.7) 96 3. Tendulkar S.R Ind 442 17598 (45.12- 86.3) 154 (44.30-5.1) 122 4. Wasim Akram Pak 356 3717 (16.52- 88.3) 502 (23.53-3.9) 76 5. Imran Khan Pak 175 3709 (33.41- 72.7) 182 (26.62-3.9) 35 6. Kapil Dev N Ind 225 3783 (23.79- 95.1) 253 (27.45-3.7) 63 7. Hadlee R.J Nzl 115 1751 (21.62- 75.5) 158 (21.56-3.3) 24 8. Waugh S.R Aus 325 7569 (32.91- 75.9) 195 (34.51-4.6) 106 9. Jayasuriya S.T Slk 443 13428 (32.43- 91.2) 322 (36.71-4.8) 105 10. Richards I.V.A Win 187 6721 (47.00- 90.2) 118 (35.83-4.5) 88 11. Botham I.T Eng 116 2113 (23.22- 79.1) 145 (28.54-4.0) 30 12. Muralitharan M Slk 327 660 ( 6.80- 76.7) 505 (22.74-3.9) 94 13. Warne S.K Aus 194 1018 (13.05- 72.0) 293 (25.73-4.3) 65 14. Cairns C.L Nzl 215 4950 (29.46- 84.3) 201 (32.81-4.8) 63 15. Flintoff A Eng 141 3394 (32.02- 88.8) 169 (24.38-4.4) 42

To view/download the complete table, please click/right-click here and save the file.

A few requests to the readers.

1. Pl check the complete table by viewing/downloading the link before rushing off with questions like "Where is Zaheer Khan" or "I don't see Javed Miandad".
2. Look at this as a list of great players. Apply the "Best amongst equals" philosophy. The best batsman/bowler need not be the best player and vice versa. Here all facets of the game are considered.
3. In your anxiety to push up your favourite player, do not pull down other players or countries. There are blogs and websites for that sort of diatribe. Not in this site or blog, though.
4. The usual request. Do not insult me, a fellow contributor, a fellow reader, any player or another country. Disagree with anything, but in a nice and cultured manner.
5. And finally, without clearly reading and understanding the article, please do not make statements like "Abc greater than Xyz. How can it be". It can be because of the numbers.

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

  • Murtaza on October 3, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    "Akram above Imran " Some people are surprised, but not me just look Akram`s bowling Evg. is 23.53 ahead of Imran´s 26.62 in lot of matches. Both Imran and Wasim are my heroes, I am happy that they are in top 10. some people just thinking about #1 and #2..... look at botham he one the best all rounder in the world but he is at #11. so please accepet the fact

  • mohanlal on May 1, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    sir, again a great insightful analysis.But 1 or 2 things surprises.Akram above Imran surprised.But what pleasantly concluded favourably most was the narrowness in both marks and ranks between Imran and Kapil.Had seen lot of opinions in several forums where Imran was highlighted as the clear leader among the 2.But I always thought if longevity, better bowling in one days,huge str: rate in both tests and one days , much better over all fielder etc etc taken into account, the gap would considerably decrease.Ditto !!! Your analysis have proved just that. Also Sachin towering over a lot of genuine allrounders speaks volumes about his numerous qualities that makes him such a phenomenon that he is.

  • mark adams on April 28, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    At last Hooper's contribution to West Indies and indeed world cricket has been acknowledged. There had to be a reason why people of every major cricketing country turned up to see him perform. A testimony to being "a fine cricketer" as E.De Weekes stated. Too much is made of, this and that great bowler or batsman or wicketkeeper. It makes perfect sense to consider the top player a less subjective option than a "who's the greatest" one dimensional cricketer. ."

  • William BISHOP on April 11, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    you people cant be serious about kallis being top of the list .kallis usually start to draw amatch from day one.For kallis to score a double century,he would have to bat three days and a half.if the master Sachin and other players like Lara,Sehwag,Hayden and Pointing batted not to get out like kallis and boycott,they would have all pass 20,000 runs in test.

  • marees on April 6, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    on second thoughts, I begin to appreciate the CSK strategy and how it leads to team balance. Imagine Kapil missed only 1 test due to Injury and in all those matches India had the luxury of an extra pure bowler or pure batsman as per the strategic/tactical requirements

    So can I say this list is about obtaining consistency in selection for all conditions. That way Hooper makes more sense than Lara or Ambrose.

  • marees on April 6, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    I am trying to make sense of this "Top Players" and "First among Equals" phrases and the list. Still doesn't make sense to me. Outlier seems to be more intuitive now.

    Only thing that is clear is Chennai Super Kings would fight to have such all-round players in their team - and a Bollinger conclusiely proves the Mistake of this strategy.

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 4, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    Boll,

    can only assume that these tables have also confirmed the ODI mediocrity of lightweights such as Joel Garner, Glenn McGrath, Brian Lara, Matt Hayden, Inzy and Javed -

    Yes, none of them are all-rounders. Why does their low ranking on this table surprise you? How many Test centuries have Garner or McGrath hit? How many ODI 4WMs have Inzi, Lara, or Miandad taken?

    I suspect you don't actually understand what this analysis really is.

    You are more interested in arguing, than anything else. You might be on the wrong cricinfo blog..

  • Xolile on April 4, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    @ Ananth

    If you come up with a MoM algorithm you could also go back an assess matches played before MoM was awarded (circa 1970). You could also award 2nd and 3rd place awards, and then compile something similar to an Olympic medals table.

    Take Ponting for example. He only got MoM 1 out of 21 attempts against SA and 1 out of 23 attempts against India. But he often was the main supporting act behind Warne and McGrath. So by looking at 2nd and 3rd we would see a more complete picture.

    As for making peace with Boll I agree. There certainly is no point in having a delayed argument with an English teacher sitting halfway around the world.

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Absolutely Your Honour - olive branch from Japan (via Australia) extended. [[ Boll I am the umpire rather than the judge !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    @kartik. I can only assume that these tables have also confirmed the ODI mediocrity of lightweights such as Joel Garner, Glenn McGrath, Brian Lara, Matt Hayden, Inzy and Javed - all rated below the current Australian captain in this analysis. Alternatively, check your dictionary.

  • Murtaza on October 3, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    "Akram above Imran " Some people are surprised, but not me just look Akram`s bowling Evg. is 23.53 ahead of Imran´s 26.62 in lot of matches. Both Imran and Wasim are my heroes, I am happy that they are in top 10. some people just thinking about #1 and #2..... look at botham he one the best all rounder in the world but he is at #11. so please accepet the fact

  • mohanlal on May 1, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    sir, again a great insightful analysis.But 1 or 2 things surprises.Akram above Imran surprised.But what pleasantly concluded favourably most was the narrowness in both marks and ranks between Imran and Kapil.Had seen lot of opinions in several forums where Imran was highlighted as the clear leader among the 2.But I always thought if longevity, better bowling in one days,huge str: rate in both tests and one days , much better over all fielder etc etc taken into account, the gap would considerably decrease.Ditto !!! Your analysis have proved just that. Also Sachin towering over a lot of genuine allrounders speaks volumes about his numerous qualities that makes him such a phenomenon that he is.

  • mark adams on April 28, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    At last Hooper's contribution to West Indies and indeed world cricket has been acknowledged. There had to be a reason why people of every major cricketing country turned up to see him perform. A testimony to being "a fine cricketer" as E.De Weekes stated. Too much is made of, this and that great bowler or batsman or wicketkeeper. It makes perfect sense to consider the top player a less subjective option than a "who's the greatest" one dimensional cricketer. ."

  • William BISHOP on April 11, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    you people cant be serious about kallis being top of the list .kallis usually start to draw amatch from day one.For kallis to score a double century,he would have to bat three days and a half.if the master Sachin and other players like Lara,Sehwag,Hayden and Pointing batted not to get out like kallis and boycott,they would have all pass 20,000 runs in test.

  • marees on April 6, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    on second thoughts, I begin to appreciate the CSK strategy and how it leads to team balance. Imagine Kapil missed only 1 test due to Injury and in all those matches India had the luxury of an extra pure bowler or pure batsman as per the strategic/tactical requirements

    So can I say this list is about obtaining consistency in selection for all conditions. That way Hooper makes more sense than Lara or Ambrose.

  • marees on April 6, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    I am trying to make sense of this "Top Players" and "First among Equals" phrases and the list. Still doesn't make sense to me. Outlier seems to be more intuitive now.

    Only thing that is clear is Chennai Super Kings would fight to have such all-round players in their team - and a Bollinger conclusiely proves the Mistake of this strategy.

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 4, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    Boll,

    can only assume that these tables have also confirmed the ODI mediocrity of lightweights such as Joel Garner, Glenn McGrath, Brian Lara, Matt Hayden, Inzy and Javed -

    Yes, none of them are all-rounders. Why does their low ranking on this table surprise you? How many Test centuries have Garner or McGrath hit? How many ODI 4WMs have Inzi, Lara, or Miandad taken?

    I suspect you don't actually understand what this analysis really is.

    You are more interested in arguing, than anything else. You might be on the wrong cricinfo blog..

  • Xolile on April 4, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    @ Ananth

    If you come up with a MoM algorithm you could also go back an assess matches played before MoM was awarded (circa 1970). You could also award 2nd and 3rd place awards, and then compile something similar to an Olympic medals table.

    Take Ponting for example. He only got MoM 1 out of 21 attempts against SA and 1 out of 23 attempts against India. But he often was the main supporting act behind Warne and McGrath. So by looking at 2nd and 3rd we would see a more complete picture.

    As for making peace with Boll I agree. There certainly is no point in having a delayed argument with an English teacher sitting halfway around the world.

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Absolutely Your Honour - olive branch from Japan (via Australia) extended. [[ Boll I am the umpire rather than the judge !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    @kartik. I can only assume that these tables have also confirmed the ODI mediocrity of lightweights such as Joel Garner, Glenn McGrath, Brian Lara, Matt Hayden, Inzy and Javed - all rated below the current Australian captain in this analysis. Alternatively, check your dictionary.

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    This leads me back to my original statement, that Kallis` standing in Australia (unfairly, but perhaps understandably) suffers because of his solid, but rarely matchwinning performances against the Aussies. How this reveals my ignorance of the role of the batting all-rounder I don`t know. re.your repeated accusations of national bias, I refer you (again) to my previous post re.VVS Laxman, Hadlee and Botham. Not quite sure why you`re asking me to refer to the first half of Steve Waugh`s career, but I`ve done so. Tests 1-84, Batting ave 51, Bowling Ave 35. Your point? [[ Boll / X Not a bad idea to offer the olive branch across thousands of kilometres (I am assuming you stay either side of the equator) and close this topic. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 12:06 GMT

    @Xolile, sure MoM awards are a judgement call, and I would agree with Anantha that batsman often seem to be favoured by judges. Are you claiming that Kallis has often been unfairly overlooked? Neither of the matches you quote seem to be examples of this. Durban 2002, Gibbs top scored in both innings (50 and a second innings hundred) and also ran out an ominously in-form Ponting. Perth 2008, De Villiers scored a 50, an unbeaten second innings century to lead the side home, and also took 4 catches. Surely at least comparable contributions to those of Kallis? Yes, they are qualitative judgements, but `statistically of little relevance`? Surely they give us an insight into a player`s contribution, just as averages and strike rates do? And no, to illustrate my point, MoM awards was exactly the stat I was looking for. Kallis has won 1 MoM award in 24 tests vs Aus (20 all told) and 2 in 47 ODIs (30 all told).

  • Xolile on April 3, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    @ Boll

    I sense you will not concede and neither would I. So this is my last comment.

    In Durban 2002 Kallis scored 77 runs, guided South Africa home with an unbeaten 61, and took the wickets of no less than 5 Australian top-order batsmen; MoM went to Gibbs who scored a total of 155 runs.

    In Perth 2008 Kallis scored two fifties and took 3 vital wickets; MoM went to De Villers, who scored a total of 169 runs.

    This is just a couple of examples. MoM awards are interesting, but statically of little relevance. By the way, you’ve picked the wrong stat here, mate. Kallis has received 20 MoM awards in his Test career. That is more than any other player in the history of the game.

    Overall you just don’t seem to understand the role of a batting all-rounder. Given your inability to appreciate anyone that is not donning a baggy green, I suggest you study the first half of Steve Waugh’s career. [[ X / Boll It is my personal grouse that the adjudicators do not give sufficient weightage for bowling, especially in ODIs/T20s. One day i will do a study of misdirected MoM awards. I will use my Ratings points and match with the actual MoM awards given. In T20 matches tight spells such as 4-0-15-1 are rarely recognized. Add a 20 to this and these performances together are way ahead of even a 75 in 50. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 3, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    Ananth,

    Maybe I missed it, but is there no credit being given for wins/wins%, unlike past analyses?

    In the past, you had both wins and wins% as metrics, arguably double-weighting the metric. But this time, is there no weight to that at all?

    Both zero-weighting and double-weighting are wrong, IMO. Single-weighting is best. [[ Kartik The captaincy is a ticklish issue. It is a team achievement and I felt that in an individual analysis it should not find a place. The decades analysis was different since I was trying to replicate the jury thought process. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 3, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    It is too bad that half the comments here are not very thoughtful.

    Virtually all the questions of 'why is XYZ so low?' can be answered by either a) He doesn't bowl, or b) He didn't do well in ODIs. Or both.

    Why is that so hard to grasp?

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 3, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    Boll,

    @Kartik, Ponting`s ODI mediocrity? nearly 13,000runs at 43 with a strike rate of over 80.

    Yes, ODI mediocrity (at least relative to the Top-25).

    Look at his score on the table. He is not a Top-20 ODI player. Part of this is because he doesn't bowl.

    Ponting is lower than Waqar, Vettori, Carl Hooper, etc.

  • Boll on April 3, 2010, 2:30 GMT

    @Xolili. Certainly MoM awards may occasionally be fickle, but they`re hardly obscure (easy enough to find them on this database) or meaningless. Along with averages, strike rates etc. they are another means of gauging a player`s quality. Kallis` tests stats against Aus are good, but have rarely been matchwinning. As I mentioned, Pollock never played in a winning team against Aus. I hardly see how pointing this out shows that `I have lost the ability to give credit to anyone that is not wering a Baggy Green` when I`ve already mentioned the great matchwinning performance of people such as VVS, Botham and Hadlee. I do find it interesting to note that the two `top players` of the last 40 years played 13 tests together against Australia and didn`t win one of them. [[ Boll I feel that performance against single nations, however great they may have been, need not be the criteria for determining whether the players are deserving of their high places. You know it clearly. 5 minutes work will bring out the low spots of players' careers, without exception, barring one batsman, in some place or other. I don't want to show examples, people will pounce on that single statement. In the 30 tests played since South African comeback the results stand 18(A)-5(d)-7(SA). This sort of domination makes you downgrade South African performances against Australia. I have always sensed a diffidence in SA when they take on Australia. Only over the past 15 months when they are 3-0-3 and SA have achieved a rare away win over Australia do I see the absence of this diffidence. Maybe now Kallis would perform with confidence against Australia. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on April 2, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    Xolile (and Boll etc) There’s another way of looking at it. Similar to your previous simulations of allrounders vs “specialists”. The question may then be phrased somewhat like this : “How good would a team of 11 Kallis’ be?”…. As compared to say 11 of the players out of the top 20, i.e the purer “specialists”. The “Kallis” team would probably be unbeatable. So while a “single” Kallis in a team may or may not make a dramatic impact- a whole bunch of the same high quality players would be untouchable.

  • Xolile on April 2, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    Boll – I certainly do not want to defend Kallis, particularly not his ODI stats. Looking back at the last 10-15 years I rate Flintoff, Pollock, Symonds and Jayasuriya ahead of him as ODI all-rounders; and Gayle, Watson, Klusener, Afridi and even Lehman at around the same level.

    Test cricket is another matter. I cannot really add anything to what I have already said. If you choose to focus on something as obscure and fickle as MoM awards then I am not going to convince you otherwise (as a case in point, look carefully at the Durban 2002 scorecard). If you do not appreciate the significance of averaging 40.56 with the bat and 36.37 with the ball, mainly in a losing cause (i.e. mainly against top order batsmen), against what is widely considered the strongest team in the history of the game, then I cannot help to conclude that you have been blinded by your team’s successes of the last 15 years and have lost the ability to give credit to anyone that is not wearing a baggy green.

  • Nimmie on April 2, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    truly a comprehensive analysis and a tribute to those cricketers who chose to develop all their skills.

  • John S on April 2, 2010, 1:14 GMT

    I think its fair to say Kallis is certainly one of the TOP cricketers, But I have to look at the other side, I ask, who, if not Murili would have got wickets for Sri Lanka, there are ten wickets in every match, Warne had to contend with McGrath and co at the other end, taking wickets he could have got without them, same goes for others, Therefore I conclude, performing at the highest level in amongst a team of great individuals is much more comendable, than say, Vettori, who is a giant amongst a bunch of 2nd rate no hopers.. Vettori is a great player and would find a place in any of todays teams, and maybe with the support of others may well perform even better. J.

  • AN on April 1, 2010, 23:48 GMT

    Khalid Mirza: While I dont agree with this analysis completely, it has value in providing a snapshot of high quality cricketers. The order can be debated but that can be done with any analysis. Taking into account dropped catches would be impossible as that is part of the game as was umpiring. Umpiring was sloppy all over the world those days with the exception of England. Maindad himself has admitted as much about Pakistani Umpires. The neutrality of umpires was one of competence/training and we are seeing that today to the extent that we could move to home umpiring with technological assistance and match refrees etc.

  • Boll on April 1, 2010, 23:38 GMT

    On the subject of player perception based on performance against our home team (understandable, but less excusable in this age of internet coverage and accessible stats)two instances spring to mind. Firstly, Ponting's very poor test stats in India (though not against India on the whole) and VVS Laxman vs Australia. His incredible stats against Aus (ave 55, 6 centuries, match winning/series defining innings, not to mention the manner in which he scores his runs)are in stark contrast to his figures against England/South Africa (1 century in nearly 30 tests and an average in the mid 30s). These figures go a long to explaining his standing in these countries. I think Kallis' performances against Aus go some way to explaining his very good but not quite great standing there. It must be said that the view that he is solid but not spectacular is not confined to Australia, but is remarkable when we consider his almost unparalled statistical performance (discussed many times on this site)

  • Boll on April 1, 2010, 22:19 GMT

    @Xolile. I am an Aussie, how`d you guess haha? but hope my comments re.Kallis haven`t come across as nationalistic bias. First of all, on our perceptions of great players,I was trying to make the point that often they are based on their performance against our own country (perhaps unfairly, but understandably) or against a benchmark team, such as the Windies of the 70s,80s or more recently Australia. While Kallis has by no means performed badly against Aus (as your table shows - v.interesting stuff btw) in Tests, his 1 Mom award in this time, and average ODI stats (bat33/ball 50) have caused him to be regarded in Aus as a very solid, but not matchwinning player. Compare this with Hadlee or Botham, who both rate lower on your scale above, who won 10 test MoM awards against Australia between them. Far more collective nightmares there. Perhaps the fact that Kallis` highs have not been as pronounced as players such as these has meant his `rating`, in Aus at least is somewhat lower.

  • Mohsin Khan on April 1, 2010, 21:21 GMT

    I was just wondering why isn't Danish Kaneria's name on the list??I believe his bowling statistics in Test cricket are way better than the likes of B Strang, Olonga and T Baisya etc [[ Mohsin Kaneria has played only 17 ODI matches. Hence does not qualify. Ananth: ]]

  • satheesh on April 1, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    great discussion regarding top/best the analysis given by ananta as satatician is true and acceptable but cricket as game with emotions and reactions one should give equal preference to an lagendry batsman ,terrific bowler and match winning all rounder , i suggest anantha make a separate analysis for all these and make ur dream team ........... [[ Satheesh The Dream team is an individual selection. I can only select my own dream team. Yours, well it has to be done by you. Ananth: ]] ..

  • mastafa azam on April 1, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    Where is Viv Richards or Garry Sobers? [[ Mastafa Richards is 10th. How do you miss seeing his name. Sobers played one ODI match. Ananth: ]]

  • Xolile on April 1, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    @ Boll

    I guess you’re Australian. There has never been a time when Australia has not been one of the top 3 sides in the world. Australia could therefore be seen as a barometer across the ages. Since the turn of the century, in 110 years of Test cricket, there have been only 13 men who have played at least 10 matches, taken at least 10 wickets, and averaged more with the bat than the ball against Australia

    They are: 1 Stanley Jackson (Eng) 35,78 (difference between batting and bowling average) 2 Eddie Barlow (SA) 23,30 3 Imran Khan (Pak) 12,51 4 Treveor Goddard (SA) 10.00 5 Wilfred Rhodes (Eng) 8,77 6 Wally Hammond (Eng) 7,08 7 Ted Dexter (Eng) 6,54 8 Jaques Kallis (SA) 4,21 9 Garry Sobers (WI) 3,46 10 Richard Hadlee (NZ) 3,16 11 Ian Botham (Eng) 1,70 12 Kapil Dev (India) 1,07 13 Freddie Flintoff (Eng) 0,35

    It is probably fair to say that all these great men gave Australia sleepless nights. [[ X That was a perceptive analysis. At least it puts Kallis' achievements in perspective. And the greatness of Imran in this measure. Ananth: ]]

  • Asad Akram on April 1, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    I hope you people haven't ignored JAVED MIANDAD. [[ NO Pl check the full list. Ananth: ]]

  • Khalid Mirza on April 1, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    Couple of things that you overlooked. The umpiring factor and fielding side drop catches. When Imran was playing he had to bowl 2 persons at one ball. One was the batsman at the striker end the 2nd one was the non-striker end Empire. There was no concept of neutral umpires when Imran was playing. Kapil Dev got wickets in India b/c of favorable umpiring, and at the same time Imran was denied plum lbw's many a times. In West Indies, Pakistan was denied the wins many times b/c of the umpiring. Please look at the video when Akram LBW’d to Dravid plum in front of wickets, everyone including Ravi Shastri was stunned, Akram had to bowl Dravid to get his wicket in the same over. Also Pakistan fielding causes the bowlers to suffer a lot, recently in NZ and AUS Pakistani fielders dropped over 50 catches, where will you adjust that?

  • T.R.Ramaswami on April 1, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    how does one adjust or account for the number of tests/ODIs played. For example although kapil Dev has taken more wickets than Hadlee he needed nearly 50 more Tests. In fact everyone knows that he was allowed to play only to break this record, which happens only in India. In any other country Kapil Dev would have been de-selected after his 70/80 Test after which he was a spent force.

  • Boll on April 1, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Just a query re.the points allocated for fielding(catches) Anantha. Are they based on raw figures (total number of catches) as your description seems to suggest, or average catches per match? If the former, why did you decide to use raw figures for this factor alone, and not give some weight to total runs/total wickets? Another thing, I mentioned in relation to another article of yours that I thought excluding Test match strike rates from the analysis created a slightly false picture of a batsman`s overall performance (being advantageous to players such as Dravid and Kallis, and slightly unfair to people such as Gilchrist and Sehwag). I understand that complete figures for the past 40 years are not available, and also that you have concerns about the importance of this statistic when analysing test match careers. I disagree a bit there andI would love to see some analysis, if only for the past 20 years, which places some value on this measure. Thanks as usual for a fascinating article [[ That is a valid point. Although my feeling is that there may not be much impact since the keepers with 400+ catches are also likely to have higher cpw. Let me anyway try that and see whether I can post an addendum. Ananth: ]]

  • shanky on April 1, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    very much surprised to see that MCgrath is under rated here.I mean, how many timeshave we seen him being scored of. independent of the type of pitch and conditions , he has been a tormentor and nemesis for all the top class batmen including lara kallis and sachin.His impact on the "batsman's game" has been immense.

  • abhinav avanisa on April 1, 2010, 13:09 GMT

    a player with more than 10000 runs in both tests and ODI's, with highest number of catches,highest no. of century patnerships in test with sachin known as THE WALL is missing.this list does not make any sense.what made u to exclude dravid??? [[ I would like to know whether you read anything before rushing off with such a comment. How many times have I tiold that people should see the full list before before sending off such comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on April 1, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    Kallis` ODI record against Aus is also instructive. 47 matches, about 1500 runs at 33 (1 century) and 31 wickets at almost 50. Man of the Match only twice. It`s not all hot air when Number_5 claims that he`s rarely given Australia sleepless nights in either form of the game.

  • Navin on April 1, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    It's pity only Viv Richards made it in first 10 from the early 80s era. Do I have to believe that Ganguly is a better player than Lloyd or Greenidge? And there is no place for Lilie, Thompson, Mcgrath, Holding, Garner or Gatting? Waqar Yunis has a place but Croft or Holder doesn't have. This table does not count on the players who made ODIs popular.

  • Boll on April 1, 2010, 12:01 GMT

    Significantly for Aussie fans, Kallis and Pollock have only been Man of the Match once each in their combined 37 tests against Aus. Particularly re.Kallis, who`s won 20 MoM awards (one every 7 tests or so!) the, by his very lofty standards, average record against Aus, has meant that he probably hasn`t received the recognition in aus that he gets, and fully deserves, from some other countries. Steve Waugh`s stats against South Africa make an interesting comparison. 16 tests, 10 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses.1150 runs at 50, 17 wickets at 15 and 3 MoM awards.

  • Alex on April 1, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    Ananth - Aditya Jha has a valid point. It might be better to change the title to "Top All-Round Contributors in the Last 40 Years" (you actually say so in the article but the title is different).

    For deciding the "Top Players", the game suggested in my earlier comment might be useful ... it is a game theory problem and the IPL bidders effectively played that game (bang for money in a team setting) at the auction, and, in hindsight, KKR picked the worst.

    On top players, "Warne's Century" is an interesting and subjective take: its highest placed all-round player is, I think, not Kallis but Waugh (unless the likes of SRT and Akram are termed "all-round"), who is placed 26th ... Kallis is not in Warne's top 20, I am pretty sure.

  • Boll on April 1, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    Pollock`s stats against Aus also very interesting, Xolile, although far less impressive than Kallis`. He never played in a winning test side against Australia, losing 10 of the 13 tests he payed against them, averaged 28 with the bat (HS 67) and took 40 wickets at about 37.

    @Kartik, Ponting`s ODI mediocrity? nearly 13,000runs at 43 with a strike rate of over 80. Sure, not quite as impressive as Viv or Sachin, but more than holds his own against any other one-day batsman.

  • Abhi on April 1, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    Alex,Xolile where's xolile when you need him?! He had done some good short stuff on imaginary teams with allrounders vs "experts"...The results showed the allrounders come out on top. Xolile, how about a simulation of the above top 11 allrounders vs an "expert" lot of your choosing?

    Actually, this list is pretty much along expected lines. The clear surprises being Tendulkar and Pollock .Tendulkar because he is never associated as an allrounder. Pollock ,because the general perception is that there are several other allrounders ahead of him. However, if you look at the Top 11 they could probably take on any team ,any time, any where, any format- at least in the modern era.

  • mahfuz on April 1, 2010, 10:17 GMT

    Undouhtly Shachin tendulkar can take a place in the table in first two, polok never bettar than chachin.

  • Projjal on April 1, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    Very objective analysis. I am definitely surprised at the inclusion of Pollock at no.2, but I feel Tendulkar did showcase how great a player he is ven without being an allrounder.

    Kallis I feel is one of the most underrated player in History. We are still nostalgic about Garry Sobers but we forget Kallis records with both bat & ball and to be able to all of these with the schedules cricketers are subjected to in these times settles the debate. At present, he is the most valuable player aross teams.

  • Xolile on April 1, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    @ Number_5

    To date Kallis has played 24 Tests against Australia. He was on the winning side 5 times and on the losing side 19 times.

    Australia’s top 8 run getters during these matches were: Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist, S Waugh, M Waugh, Langer, Hussey and Martyn. Bowling mainly in a losing cause against this fine collection of Australian batsmen, Kallis took 48 wickets at an average of 36.37.

    66% of the balls bowled by Aus during these matches were delivered by Warne, McGrath, Lee, Gillespie, McGill, Kasprowicz and Johnson. Batting mainly against this excellent group of seam and spin bowlers, Kallis scored 1,664 runs at and average of 40.58.

    Therefore, facing what could be described as the ultimate test in Test cricket, Kallis achieved what all all-rounders dream about: he averaged substantially more with the bat than with the ball over an extended period of time. He competed against what has often been described as the strongest team of all time and came out on top.

  • Salim on April 1, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    A table with Sir Carl higher than the Prince of Trinidad!!!! This must a first!!! nuff said! [[ Salim Very convenient to forget that Hooper has taken over 300 international wickets. You also know that Lara is my favourite cricketer. But that does not mean that he cannot be placed below Hooper in a table involving batting, bowling and fielding. Ananth: ]]

  • Aditya Jha on April 1, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    Dear Anantha - I beg to differ. It IS essentially an all-rounders' appraisal. Kallis, Pollock, Akram, Imran, Kapil and Hadlee in top 10. And Jayasuriya. Botham at 11. That leaves just Tendulkar and Richards (who both bowled more than part time in ODIs). After that, the genuine top class all rounders dry up and it becomes specialist batsmen vs specialist bowlers (with their adjustments) with the modern all rounders punctuating the list (Afridi etc). My hunch is that Kieth Miller and Richie Benaud will out point Bradman in this system.

  • dhruv jain on April 1, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    a good representation but a strange one when it comes to placing rahul dravid...more one day runs than lara ..probably the same number of wickets taken...a greater number of catches ..test records-almost the same number of runs as lara..higher average..and a world record for catches...still lower placed? [[ Dhruv I get the feeling some of these comments are made for the sake of making them. No verification of figures is undertaken. Lara has scored 550 more runs at a slightly lower average and has taken 28 fewer catches. 24.54 points against 23.84 pts. He has scored 300 fewer ODI runs at a better average and a mucjh better strike rate than Dravid. Granted 88 fewer catches. 19.73 points against 19.16 points. So he gets 1.3 points and six places on Dravid. Pray, what is wrong with this. There are other factors such as peer comparisons, quality of bowling, quality of opposition etc have been taken into account before deciding all these.

    Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 1, 2010, 7:54 GMT

    Ananth - I think a key question is this: if you and your mortal enemy were to choose competing teams with alternating picks [note: different squads for tests & ODI's are not allowed] and, by some luck, you get to choose the first pick, which player will you pick? I think a winning combination is: 5 specialist batsman, 1 WK (thankfully many of the good keepers since 60's are good->very good batsmen), 1 batting allrounder, and either 4 bowlers or 1 bowling all-rounder (batt. ave.> 25 with many 50's) and 3 bowlers. Use these broad metrics:

    Category Batting Bowling Fielding Captaincy Batsman Y N Y Y (only if chosen as captain) Bowler N Y Y Y (only if chosen as captain) Batt. All. Y Y N Y (only if chosen as captain) Bowl. All. Y Y N Y (only if chosen as captain)

    For batsmen and bowlers, fielding may carry small weight for real outliers. All must be team players. Now, whom to pick 1st?

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 1, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Another surprise : Carl Hooper better than Chris Gayle, who in turn is better than Brian Lara?

    I guess Lara, along with Botham, Marshall, and even Ponting, suffers from their ODI mediocrity being exposed to the light of day.

    A player can be great in Tests, and be considered 'Great' by the mainstream, without much scrutiny ever coming to their ODI records. Only stats geeks like us will ever catch this. Part of this is due to England still not playing many ODIs, which leads to English publications (Wisden, etc.) devaluing ODIs.

    The reverse is still not true for players who excel in ODIs but not Tests (Cairns, Ganguly, Vaas, Gayle, Jayasuriya). No one would consider this group to be as great as the aforementioned Botham/Ponting/Marshall/Lara group, despite comparable rankings in this table.

    Therefore, Test feats are still more prestigious, in the public eye.

  • rext on April 1, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    I'm not sure what this all means when home and away and quality of opposition is not taken in to account. For example Murali has taken 176 wickets in 25 tests against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh while Warne only played against them 3 times for 17 wickets. What an immense difference that makes!Nice try but too much relevant information excluded to be definitive.

  • Bharat on April 1, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    I mean for most parts it is GOOD. BUT WHERE IS SUNIL GAVASKAR No. 75!!!!!I am always for DADA, but i am not a partisan by any stretch..... Sure Dada and Sachin have got more wicket than Sunil Sir... But those were really partime...and more of Batsmen's deception than their bowling great...And they say the bowling were more hostile those days with GREEN PATCHES.Ponting so low, sure he has not got those many wickets but consider you just have to give it for him..... He has won a lot of matches and "POSSIBLY" a great ODI captain, of course you have Luxury of Lee and Miserly Mc Grath but it is no joke for any one to win 22 consecutive World Cup matches..... The captain must have got some STING IN HIM. I was disappointed not to see Ghambir....Top players it is very hard to measure, BUT A FABULOUS EFFORT NEVER THE LESS Mr. Anantha Narayanan, some comparisons were precise...

  • Rajesh on April 1, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    A very commendable effort and deep analysis. However, I don't think Pollock being 2nd in the list where you have impact all rounders like Kapil,Imaran, Flintoff or say modern day greats like Sachin, Lara or Ponting is justified. Probably player impact on the resuts should have considered.

  • Stats on April 1, 2010, 5:33 GMT

    Oooh I forgot to ask , why do keepers get shortchanged so much ? What do Gilly and Boucher have to do to be equal to Kallis or Botham ? A keepers job is far harder than an allrounder and waay more critical. Kallis can get carted around the park one over and then go down to fine leg and have a graze and think about it. A keeper can't do grazing, it usually costs wickets and runs. Batsmen get too much attention, the game of Cricket has many facets and all we do is stick a magnifying glass on one side.

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 1, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Now, if we want to create the best XI of the last 40 years (putting aside my earlier point about collections of 11 strong players not guaranteeing a strong team) :

    It is really quite simple :

    Just take the Top 10 players on this list, + the higher WK (Adam Gilchrist).

    So, the best XI of the last 40 years is :

    1. 60.80 Kallis J.H 2. 57.42 Pollock S.M 3. 56.96 Tendulkar S.R 4. 55.30 Wasim Akram 5. 55.17 Imran Khan 6. 54.38 Kapil Dev N 7. 53.48 Hadlee R.J 8. 52.83 Waugh S.R 9. 52.12 Jayasuriya S.T 10. 51.83 Richards I.V.A 25. 44.97 Gilchrist A.C

    Order these players in the traditional order, and the XI is :

    Tendulkar Jayasuriya Richards Kallis Waugh Gilchrist Imran Khan Kapil Pollock Hadlee Wasim Akram

    The lack of specialist Test openers or a specialist spinner is not a problem when there are 5 specialist fast bowlers, and batting depth all the way to the end.

  • Kartik (the original one) on April 1, 2010, 5:22 GMT

    Ananth,

    Thanks for doing this article, which I had been suggesting for over a year.

    As I predicted, Kallis would be at the top. Pollock is a surprise, however.

    Now, here is a key observation :

    The #1 and #2 players played for the same team at the same time, yet that team never quite overcame the top team of their era, nor did they ever get past the semis of any World Cup.

    The same goes for Imran and Wasim. Despite many notable successes, they never quite strung together enough of a streak to become the #1 Team of their time, in either form of the game.

    So yet again, we see the value of a Team Dynamic, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is a very unappreciated aspect of cricket, which people who are obsessed with all-time XIs and World XIs fail to see.

    A Reminder : The strongest set of XI players ever to play International matches took the field in 2005, and lost all 3 ODIs and 1 Test that they played in.

  • Rahul on April 1, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    An interesting analyses no doubt and I appreciate the attention to detail. I'm fine with Kallis being on top because being both a world class batsman and bowler is no mean feat. However Anantha I think you react too strongly to some of the comments like that of David. [[ Rahul I have gone out of the way and made sure the term "best" was not used in the article. Previously I might have used the term "best". This time I used the term "top" and very specifically mentioned "First amongst equals" and this is only a list of top players. That may be a reason for my reaction. Incidentally I am also quick to apologize. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on April 1, 2010, 4:26 GMT

    Ananth - Good article as usual but bound to be controversial. Two points: (i) captaincy is assigned zero weight (you have acknowledged it), and (ii) the weight assigned to fielding is not comprehensive (no weight to run-outs and runs saved). A great fielder saves many runs (runs saved=runs scored) and can turn a even certain boundaries into dismissals. Very difficult to attached weight to it though. Likewise for a great captain (I think Ganguly's defining contribution was how he, as a captain, brought team India out of rut, starting year 2000).

    Kapil considers Lloyd to be the most important player in the WI champion teams (SMG put only Sobers among the WI players above Lloyd). I think that is correct. If proper credit is assigned to fielding and captaincy, players such as Ponting, Lloyd, Imran, Rhodes, AB, and Mark Taylor (to name a few) should move up the rankings.

    This is not to criticise your article though. I think Kallis' #1 position is justified in most cases. [[ Alex When I included the captaincy in my decade article many said that does not indicate status of player. Run out information is now available. For the past few years, but before that ??? Runs saved information might never be available. I think the fielding information benefits the wicket-keepers , correctly. And the slip fielder, again a key position. Ananth: ]]

  • nalin on April 1, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    This is your list... many deserve the ranks given by you. If you ask from other great players to rank the cricketers you will get many different. lists. So it is difficult to rank them by giving points. Statistics does not show context only content. Dravid won more test matches than any Indian batsmen but how come Ganguly in the list. Ask almost all of the past & present cricketers from SL to select the best SL batsman..choice would be Aravinda..but how come Jayasuriya in the list. Take all the performances of Pollock bot bat & ball...can that be greater than the bowling of Mcgrath ?.. After Bradman.. Greg Chapple is Aus. best batsmen.. where is he ? One last thing.. If players like Hooper, Afridi, Gayle in the top 30...then I need to think twice about agreeing to this list.

  • David on April 1, 2010, 3:10 GMT

    Ananth, I wasn't trying to criticise your article. My point was only that we can say BOTH that Kallis is the best, and that Tendulkar is the best, as long as we understand what we mean by "best" (distinguishing between "top" and "best" is playing semantics ... it's effectively the same thing to call someone the "top" player or the "best" player).

    I thoroughly enjoy the statistical perspective you bring. What it does, I think, is to give equal prominence to consistently effective players ("plodders", to use a slight pejorative), who might otherwise be overlooked (although not by selectors, who understand the value to the team of, say, a plodding Langer over a dashing Slater). It's a way of measuring consistent excellence. But what most people remember about the entertainment experience of cricket is the flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately (or perhaps not!), there is no statistical measure of the "wow" factor.

    I agree that Kallis is the best, but I'd pay better money to watch Donald. [[ David No offence meant. As I have mentioned in my reply to Nahim "However these analyses make us appreciate the value of the specialist more and for that matter, the all-rounders. " I could add, the artisans against the artists. Ananth: ]]

  • David on April 1, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    I think there's some confusion about the list Anantha has given us, because not everyone is working from the same definition of "best". That is, Anantha is a statistician, so for him (I hope I'm not being presumptuous here!), "best" = "the statistically most significant contributor across all disciplines combined over a whole career". However, for many of us, international cricket is first and foremost not an exercise in statistics, but entertainment. In that case, "best" means something else. I suggest: "the greatest ability, demonstrated on multiple occasions, to single-handedly turn the course of a match". That's why statistically, Kallis is the best, but in terms of that mercurial quality of concentrated excellence, players like Tendulkar, Richards, Ponting, Lara, Gilchrist, Flintoff, Warne, Murali, McGrath, Donald, Akram, etc, would intuitively rank ahead of him. [[ David I have been very careful in wording of my title. It is "The top players..." and not "The best players...". The readers have their own perceptions. I am not responsible for that. You are the one who has brought the term "best" and harped on that. For me this is a list of great players. That is all. If every such list should only be decided on the "mercurial quality of concentrated excellence", it is not going to be possible. Ananth: ]]

  • Aditya Jha on April 1, 2010, 1:29 GMT

    Dear Anantha - I would suggest that you change the title of this post to "The top all-round players of the last 40 years". Else, there will be a lot of people complaining about things like Lara's position in the list etc. Great analysis. I am assuming that match performance adjustments have not been done for the batting table; so it can't be taken as a definite batsman ranking? [[ Aditya I am sorry, you are wrong. This is a list of great players who are evaluated on batting, bowling and fielding and not just all-rounders. Otherwise how would Tendulkar, Richards, Murali, Warne, Mark Waugh, Sehwag, Border, Ponting, Greg Chappell, Gilchrist, Lara, Marshall and Waqar Younis be in the top-30. Ananth: ]]

  • Number_5 on March 31, 2010, 23:50 GMT

    Great list, as a fellow cricket tragic its allways fasinating to read such lists and pour over every statistic and ponder the justificaiton of each players position. As for Kallis "it is difficult to think of a single match in which he has not performed in one area or other." As an Aussie i could count on one hand the number of times Kallis (and Pollock) have given us sleepless nights. That aside, have downloaded the full list and look fwd to going over every stat..Nice Work.

  • Raymond on March 31, 2010, 23:50 GMT

    Wonderful and accurate analysis. I would take the top 12 (Jaya,Kallis, Sir Viv(wk),Tendulkar, Waugh,Imran, Kapil,Pollock,Sir Richard(Capt)Akram,Murali, -12th: Sir Ian) and compete against a ferw test teams. Suggestion for calibrating and applying points for player's "personality" : include a demerit point scale for ICC on-field infractions. This will add some legitimacy to the term "best" player.

  • Hatim Ali on March 31, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    this is really funny....B.C Lara at #26....where is Glen Mcgrath and Curtly Ambrose..last 40years ha ha, very funny.. [[ Hatim Incidentally my favourite cricketer is Lara !!! Ananth: ]]

  • David on March 31, 2010, 23:04 GMT

    @Nahim, I guess a prime example of what you're saying from an Australian perspective is Shane Watson. Until he was able to excel in one discipline (in his case, batting), he was never a serious contributor to the team.

    On another point, I found the fielding scores interesting. If you remove the only wicketkeeper from the top 30, then the fielding rankings go to 1. Ponting, 2. Lara, 3. M Waugh, 4. Border, 5. Kallis. All these have spent a lot of time in the slips, pushing their numbers up, although interestingly, the 3 Australians at least almost never fielded at 1st slip, and were known as much for their work at gully/point/cover/midwicket as in the slips.

  • ImranRock on March 31, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    good analysis but i little a bit surprise with Pollock, and imran khan must be at second no in place of Pollock b/c he was captain of winning world cup team n best all rounder in the world .

  • Rumen on March 31, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    Kallis is a good cricketer but how is he number 1! He is a regular performer but he cant make any twist. He has no scor over 200 in test cricket. He has no super performance in any big match. He is good but not special. I think Hayden should be in the list. Hayden has some special performance like 380 in test, highest run scorer in 2007 wc and 1st t20 wc, 181 against nz. Sachin is 100 times better cricketer than kalis. But in your list kalis get better position.

  • Gohar Iqbal, (Asker, Norway) on March 31, 2010, 20:41 GMT

    Wasim Akram & Mohammad Yousaf The Great!!!

  • guest on March 31, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    The effort put forth for the analysis is exceptional. I would have involved one more column for the analysis which wld have been match winning performances which is very crucial since its a team game. Overall I would have to say the analysis was well done. [[ G I have taken only measures which are available through career figures. I did not want to go to the match level. That would have made this a different type of Ratings analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Jagadish on March 31, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    It's quite interesting that most of the bottom positions are taken up by wicket-keepers (More, Kirmani, Dinesh Karthik, Bari, Russell, etc.) Aside from Gilchrist, Sangakkara and Flower, the best placed wicket-keeper is Boucher (84). When someone like Healy is at ~ 130, it doesn't seem like the keepers are actually benefiting. [[ Jagadish One has to be an exceptional keeper-batsman to be in the top-50 or so. Ananth: ]]

  • Gunjan Indrayan on March 31, 2010, 18:13 GMT

    Also, this works more in favour of bowlers. This is because the whole team bats but the whole team does not bowl. So while bowlers can score runs and as a result move up in this analysis, batsmen do not get a chance to bowl. So Anantha, do you think more weightage should be given to batsmen who have never or rarely bowled? Maybe that would remove some surprising results here like why Hooper is statistically better than Lara and why Pathan is above on the list as compared to Gavaskar, Sanga and Hayden? But no matter what, cricket is about putting multiple abilities to work. Whether you dislike a 5 day game for its slowness or like it for its purity, whether you dislike 20/20 for its detrimental effect on the game or like it for its instant gratification, cricket has something for everyone. Truly a full sport which needs to be popularized and propagated more in the world, especially non-commonwealth countries.

  • Sandeep on March 31, 2010, 18:12 GMT

    First of all, I must say I'm a fan of you, Mr. Ananthanarayan! You think of so many things while analyzing numbers and answer each of the users' comments carefully. Your passion is commendable and an inspiration for engineers.

    A few observations:

    Contemporary allrounders groups: Hadlee (7), Imran (5), Kapil (6), Botham (11) Akram (4), Waugh (8), Jayasuriya (9), Cairns (14) Flintoff (15), Kallis (1), Vettori (19), Afridi(30)

    are seen together with relative rating. This brings us to an important question: Is captaincy considered a role? Vettori leads NZ test team and that adds to his work. Kapil, Akram, Imran, Waugh - all led their teams remarkably. Should we add points for that?

    One more thing is: do the positions of top-10 move out of it when you change the relative weightage towards batting, bowling and most importantly fielding? [[ Sandeep Captaincy by itself does not mean much. Many players might have capatained in a number of matches. Only if we take the results do we get a complete picture. Now we get the strong-team syndrome. How much credit do we give Lloyd/ponting as players. hence I avoided this aspect completely. I thinl equal weightage )batting/bowling, tests./odi) is the "Gayatri mantra" and has to be implemented rigorously. Ananth: ]]

  • Gunjan Indrayan on March 31, 2010, 18:11 GMT

    This analysis has intrigued me. There is no doubt that all-rounders are the best players of the game. Ahhh..how the game of cricket tests multiple aspects of a player. It is nice if you are good with either bat or bowl, but you better be athletic in the field too. And if you can manage all of them with equal dexterity, you are a true great of the game. But a counter argument to this can be that many batsmen could have been all rounders but then maybe they wouldn't have scored so many runs for their country. E.g. Sachin could have developed his bowling skills more, given he was almost a regular bowler for India in the 90s. That meant more wickets for him, but could he then have scored less runs? So maybe he chose not to bowl to concentrate on his batting. Because that was his passion. Similar might be true for Ponting and other batting greats. Now viceversa could be stated for bowlers. They could have developed batting skills, but their preference was to get wickets. Contd.. [[ Gunjan Why delve into "what if" questions when the real numbers are in front of us. Ananth: ]]

  • Nahim on March 31, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    A very commendable effort. However I think Anantha you will agree that this also illustrates the limits of statistical analysis.

    Why, for instance, did the results defy cricketing common sense until the 12.5% adjustment was introduced? My feeling is that it's because a leading batsman or bowler in the team is worth much more than just an ok batsman or bowler- and the difference is greater than would be indicated by the statistics. A great batsman/bowler often means the difference between winning and losing, whereas an okay batsman/bowler will tend to perform well only when the rest of the team's doing well. From the team's perspective, therefore, a great batsman/bowler can be preferred even to a very good all-rounder, when that all-rounder is only ok in one of the departments. This is why SA might choose Donald over Pollock, or why WI would definitely select Lara over Hooper. Of course this "extra" value of a great batsman/bowler is very hard to measure statistically. [[ Nahim I will be the first to admit that statistical analyses have their own limitations. In fact you would be hard pressed to point one instance where I have claimed otherwise. However these analyses make us appreciate the value of the specialist more and for that matter, the all-rounders more. Some people might question Jayasuriya above Richards,. They should not forget that Jayasuriya has claimed 420 international wickets. Just an example. Thanks for putting in your very valuable comments in a refined manner. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish on March 31, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    Quite logical analysis but I feel that players who do not bowl are undeservingly penalized. It is difficult to digest Hooper rated above Ponting and Afridi is there in the list but not Dravid.

  • Vinay on March 31, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Its interesting to see the positions of Dravid & Ganguly. Dravid is a better Test player than One day and Ganguly is an accomplished ODI player and a limited Test player (pure stats wise). However, the fact that Dada also rolled his arm over (successfully) in a few cases must have helped push his case up. At the same time, Dravid taking over the gloves in ODI would have also helped I guess

  • Anoop Mishra on March 31, 2010, 15:34 GMT

    Very good analysis and i totally agree with this kind of analysis. Kallis by far is the best criketer not in the past 40 years but eversince cricket was born. there is no doubts about this. Pollock was also a bit of surprise for me but again him being a useful alrounder justified. Quite impressed to see that Sachin tendulkar in all means is the best batsman laying rest to the Sachin,Lara,Ponting debate. What i like about this analysis is that it strong support the role of a cricketer. if you are a batsman u need to score runs (no matter what the siuation is). Now scoring runs only in finals or semifinals dosent make one a great batsman. Good job

  • Ranjan Lama on March 31, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    I assume every bit is true to the core, but still fell Imran Khan should have been in Wasim Akram's position.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Ranjan Lama on March 31, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    I assume every bit is true to the core, but still fell Imran Khan should have been in Wasim Akram's position.

  • Anoop Mishra on March 31, 2010, 15:34 GMT

    Very good analysis and i totally agree with this kind of analysis. Kallis by far is the best criketer not in the past 40 years but eversince cricket was born. there is no doubts about this. Pollock was also a bit of surprise for me but again him being a useful alrounder justified. Quite impressed to see that Sachin tendulkar in all means is the best batsman laying rest to the Sachin,Lara,Ponting debate. What i like about this analysis is that it strong support the role of a cricketer. if you are a batsman u need to score runs (no matter what the siuation is). Now scoring runs only in finals or semifinals dosent make one a great batsman. Good job

  • Vinay on March 31, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Its interesting to see the positions of Dravid & Ganguly. Dravid is a better Test player than One day and Ganguly is an accomplished ODI player and a limited Test player (pure stats wise). However, the fact that Dada also rolled his arm over (successfully) in a few cases must have helped push his case up. At the same time, Dravid taking over the gloves in ODI would have also helped I guess

  • Vinish on March 31, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    Quite logical analysis but I feel that players who do not bowl are undeservingly penalized. It is difficult to digest Hooper rated above Ponting and Afridi is there in the list but not Dravid.

  • Nahim on March 31, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    A very commendable effort. However I think Anantha you will agree that this also illustrates the limits of statistical analysis.

    Why, for instance, did the results defy cricketing common sense until the 12.5% adjustment was introduced? My feeling is that it's because a leading batsman or bowler in the team is worth much more than just an ok batsman or bowler- and the difference is greater than would be indicated by the statistics. A great batsman/bowler often means the difference between winning and losing, whereas an okay batsman/bowler will tend to perform well only when the rest of the team's doing well. From the team's perspective, therefore, a great batsman/bowler can be preferred even to a very good all-rounder, when that all-rounder is only ok in one of the departments. This is why SA might choose Donald over Pollock, or why WI would definitely select Lara over Hooper. Of course this "extra" value of a great batsman/bowler is very hard to measure statistically. [[ Nahim I will be the first to admit that statistical analyses have their own limitations. In fact you would be hard pressed to point one instance where I have claimed otherwise. However these analyses make us appreciate the value of the specialist more and for that matter, the all-rounders more. Some people might question Jayasuriya above Richards,. They should not forget that Jayasuriya has claimed 420 international wickets. Just an example. Thanks for putting in your very valuable comments in a refined manner. Ananth: ]]

  • Gunjan Indrayan on March 31, 2010, 18:11 GMT

    This analysis has intrigued me. There is no doubt that all-rounders are the best players of the game. Ahhh..how the game of cricket tests multiple aspects of a player. It is nice if you are good with either bat or bowl, but you better be athletic in the field too. And if you can manage all of them with equal dexterity, you are a true great of the game. But a counter argument to this can be that many batsmen could have been all rounders but then maybe they wouldn't have scored so many runs for their country. E.g. Sachin could have developed his bowling skills more, given he was almost a regular bowler for India in the 90s. That meant more wickets for him, but could he then have scored less runs? So maybe he chose not to bowl to concentrate on his batting. Because that was his passion. Similar might be true for Ponting and other batting greats. Now viceversa could be stated for bowlers. They could have developed batting skills, but their preference was to get wickets. Contd.. [[ Gunjan Why delve into "what if" questions when the real numbers are in front of us. Ananth: ]]

  • Sandeep on March 31, 2010, 18:12 GMT

    First of all, I must say I'm a fan of you, Mr. Ananthanarayan! You think of so many things while analyzing numbers and answer each of the users' comments carefully. Your passion is commendable and an inspiration for engineers.

    A few observations:

    Contemporary allrounders groups: Hadlee (7), Imran (5), Kapil (6), Botham (11) Akram (4), Waugh (8), Jayasuriya (9), Cairns (14) Flintoff (15), Kallis (1), Vettori (19), Afridi(30)

    are seen together with relative rating. This brings us to an important question: Is captaincy considered a role? Vettori leads NZ test team and that adds to his work. Kapil, Akram, Imran, Waugh - all led their teams remarkably. Should we add points for that?

    One more thing is: do the positions of top-10 move out of it when you change the relative weightage towards batting, bowling and most importantly fielding? [[ Sandeep Captaincy by itself does not mean much. Many players might have capatained in a number of matches. Only if we take the results do we get a complete picture. Now we get the strong-team syndrome. How much credit do we give Lloyd/ponting as players. hence I avoided this aspect completely. I thinl equal weightage )batting/bowling, tests./odi) is the "Gayatri mantra" and has to be implemented rigorously. Ananth: ]]

  • Gunjan Indrayan on March 31, 2010, 18:13 GMT

    Also, this works more in favour of bowlers. This is because the whole team bats but the whole team does not bowl. So while bowlers can score runs and as a result move up in this analysis, batsmen do not get a chance to bowl. So Anantha, do you think more weightage should be given to batsmen who have never or rarely bowled? Maybe that would remove some surprising results here like why Hooper is statistically better than Lara and why Pathan is above on the list as compared to Gavaskar, Sanga and Hayden? But no matter what, cricket is about putting multiple abilities to work. Whether you dislike a 5 day game for its slowness or like it for its purity, whether you dislike 20/20 for its detrimental effect on the game or like it for its instant gratification, cricket has something for everyone. Truly a full sport which needs to be popularized and propagated more in the world, especially non-commonwealth countries.

  • Jagadish on March 31, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    It's quite interesting that most of the bottom positions are taken up by wicket-keepers (More, Kirmani, Dinesh Karthik, Bari, Russell, etc.) Aside from Gilchrist, Sangakkara and Flower, the best placed wicket-keeper is Boucher (84). When someone like Healy is at ~ 130, it doesn't seem like the keepers are actually benefiting. [[ Jagadish One has to be an exceptional keeper-batsman to be in the top-50 or so. Ananth: ]]

  • guest on March 31, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    The effort put forth for the analysis is exceptional. I would have involved one more column for the analysis which wld have been match winning performances which is very crucial since its a team game. Overall I would have to say the analysis was well done. [[ G I have taken only measures which are available through career figures. I did not want to go to the match level. That would have made this a different type of Ratings analysis. Ananth: ]]