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This article is a completely different graphical look at the Test all-rounders and is a continuation of the similar articles related to ODI.
Just to recap, Bruce Henderson of BCG (Boston Consulting Group) had created these charts during 1968 to study the Growth-Share aspects of products/business units. This is an excellent way to study two related variables together. These are plotted on a graph which is split into four equal (or unequal) size quadrants. The placement of a particular player, gives excellent insight into the player's position in the galaxy of all-rounders. However please do not forget that this is clearly a two-dimensional graph between two related variables. Also these are all career figures.
I elected to do an analysis of all-rounders, to start with, for Tests since that offers the clearest two-dimensional look. The all-rounder, based on a traditional definition, is clearly a two-dimensional player, Batting and Bowling. We can derive a lot of insight into the position of all-rounders and their relative strengths by doing the BCG charts.
As usual the real test starts in the selection criteria. Unlike the ODI bowlers and batsmen where a straightforward runs/wkts cut-off was used. Here the situation is too complex for a simple cut-off. We have multiple tasks in front of us. We have to have a reasonable number of players, not too many nor too few. The all-rounder standard should not be diluted. After a lot of trial and error efforts, I have decided on the following criteria.
1. All players who have scored 2000 runs or more and captured 100 wkts or more will be automatically included. This gets 23 players in.
2. Out of the remaining, players who have scored 1500 runs or more and captured 75 wkts or more will be included if their Batting average is better than their Bowling average. The later condition ensures that very average all-rounders like Emburey, Prabhakar, Streak et al are excluded. This gets 9 players in. Some of the players who get in are Faulkner, Armstrong, Mushtaq Mohd et al.
3. Now to take away the bowlers who can bat, players who have scored below 25 runs per test will be removed. This means two players, Warne (21.9 rpt) and Kumble (19.0 rpt) go out. Very fair since these two are not really all-rounders.
4. Also to take away the occasional bowlers who are primarily batsmen, all players who captured below one wicket per test will go out. This is fair since this is an analysis of all-rounders. So Hammond (0.98 wpt), Jayasuriya (0.87 wpt) and Steve Waugh (0.55 wpt) go out. I have been quite hard-nosed about this definition and have not been influenced by the very loose definition of all-rounders. Even though Steve Waugh has been called an all-rounder, there is no way he can be classified as one in view of the fact that he has captured one wicket in two tests.
That leaves 27 all-rounders for analysis.
Now we go to the analysis. This time I will do two different BCG analyses. The first will be based on two qualitative measures, the Bowling average and Batting average. The second will be based on two quantitative measures, Wickets per test and Runs per test. The advantage with this method is that it is not longevity based and gives equal chances to players whether they scored 11126 runs or 1968 runs or captured 431 wickets or 75 wickets.
I have not made any adjustment for the period or home country. My very loose conclusion is that such adjustments are not needed in an all-rounder analysis. If a player played during a batting-centric period, he would have the opportunity to have better batting figures which should compensate for the expected lower bowling figures. If a player played during a bowling-centric period, he would have the opportunity to have poorer batting figures which should be compensated by the expected better bowling figures. Similarly if he played on batting-friendly pitches, his better batting figures should compensate for the lesser bowling figures and vice versa on bowler-friendly pitches.
The above represents a typical BCG chart. The players in the top-right quadrant, the red one, are the "Top all-rounders". They are to the right of the Batting average line and above the Bowling average line. The ones in the bottom right quadrant, the green one, are the "Batting centric all-rounders". They bat very well but can at best function as fourth/fifth bowler for the team. Similarly, the top left quadrant, the blue one, contains the "Bowling centric all-rounders". They are normally the leading bowlers for their teams but bat at 7/8. The bottom left quadrant, the black one, represents the "Average all-rounders". They play the supporting roles in both batting and bowling.
Now let us view the graphs. I experimented a lot with the sloping dividing lines, as suggested by Sriraman, but could not work out a clear formula. The basis for a proper slope could not be worked out. Hence I have stuck to the dividing lines parallel to the axes. However I have made two significant changes, as suggested by Murali. The lines are drawn now at the centre but the scaling on either side of the lines is different. This makes for very good viewing despite the lopsided data. Sobers and Kallis cause this lopsidedness on the batting front with their extraordinarily high batting averages. On the other side, Shastri and Hooper cause this lopsidedness with their 40+ bowling averages. The numbers are shown along with the player names. I have also shaded the quadrants with the appropriate colour.
First the qualitative one, based on averages. I have also made my comments on the positioning of players without drawing any conclusions.
Imran Khan and Miller are the leading all-rounders in this analysis. Aubrey Faulkner's presence would please the followers of Test cricket across the ages. The under-rated Trevor Goddard of South Africa is a surprise, but well-deserved, presence in this top quadrant. Botham is comfortably in this top group.
The batting centric group of all-rounders is led by the incomparable Sobers and Kallis, both with 55+ batting averages. There is another clutch of four all-rounders led by Greig, Brian McMillan (a surprise entrant - he just about makes it) and two greats of the 1910-20s, Armstrong and Woolley. Cairns just about misses the top quadrant. Two very average all-rounders, with awful bowling averages, Hooper and Shastri just about make it to this quadrant.
The bowling centric is a well-populated quadrant. This group is led by Pollock and has two greats of yonder, Noble and Rhodes. then we have Hadlee, Benaud and Wasim Akram.
The last group has Flintoff, Mankad and Vettori as clear residents. Vaas also belongs here. Bailey and Kapil Dev are on the borderline.
No Player Runs Avge Wkts Avge ARIdx1
1.Kallis J.H 11126 55.08 266 31.59 1.744 2.Sobers G.St.A 8032 57.78 235 34.04 1.698 3.Imran Khan 3807 37.69 362 22.81 1.652 4.Miller K.R 2958 36.97 170 22.98 1.609 5.Faulkner G.A 1754 40.79 82 26.59 1.534 6.Pollock S.M 3781 32.32 421 23.12 1.398 7.Mushtaq Mohammad 3643 39.17 79 29.23 1.340 8.Goddard T.L 2516 34.47 123 26.23 1.314 9.Greig A.W 3599 40.44 141 32.21 1.256 10.Hadlee R.J 3124 27.17 431 22.30 1.218 11.Noble M.A 1997 30.26 121 25.00 1.210 12.Botham I.T 5200 33.55 383 28.40 1.181 13.McMillan B.M 1968 39.36 75 33.83 1.164 14.Armstrong W.W 2863 38.69 87 33.60 1.152 15.Cairns C.L 3320 33.54 218 29.40 1.141 16.Rhodes W 2325 30.19 127 26.97 1.120 17.Woolley F.E 3283 36.08 83 33.92 1.064 18.Kapil Dev N 5248 31.05 434 29.65 1.047 19.Bailey T.E 2290 29.74 132 29.21 1.018 20.Mankad M.H 2109 31.48 162 32.32 0.974 21.Flintoff A 3845 31.78 226 32.79 0.969 22.Wasim Akram 2898 22.64 414 23.62 0.959 23.Vettori D.L 3962 30.71 325 33.87 0.907 24.Benaud R 2201 24.46 248 27.03 0.905 25.Shastri R.J 3830 35.79 151 40.96 0.874 26.Vaas WPUJC 3087 24.31 355 29.58 0.822 27.Hooper C.L 5762 36.47 114 49.43 0.738
I have presented the table above. The only additional field is the ARIdx1 value which is the Batting average / Bowling average. This is a far better measure than Batting average - Bowling average. An example will explain this. 50 and 30 would give an index value of 1.67 and a difference of 20. 40 and 20 would give an index value of 2.00 and the same difference of 20. It is clear that 40 and 20 is much better than 50 and 30. The difference of 10 in bowling is far more important.
Now let us view the second graph, which is quantitative one, based on per test values. I have again made my comments on the positioning of players without drawing any conclusions.
Faulkner is comfortably placed in the top group. Botham and Miller are in this top group. Cairns is a surprise resident of this quadrant and this is a reminder to the New Zealanders that there were two top quality all-rounders there.
The batting centric group of all-rounders is led by Sobers and Kallis. Their wickets per test value is quite low, either side of 2.0, to let them move to the top quadrant.
The bowling centric is again a well-populated quadrant. This group is led by Hadlee and Imran Khan. Mankad moves up into this quadrant.
The last group is led by Bailey and Rhodes.
No Player Runs RpT Wkts WpT ARIdx2
1.Sobers G.St.A 8032 86.4 235 2.53 136.9 2.Hadlee R.J 3124 36.3 431 5.01 136.6 3.Faulkner G.A 1754 70.2 82 3.28 135.8 4.Botham I.T 5200 51.0 383 3.75 126.1 5.Imran Khan 3807 43.3 362 4.11 125.5 6.Cairns C.L 3320 53.5 218 3.52 123.9 7.Mankad M.H 2109 47.9 162 3.68 121.6 8.Goddard T.L 2516 61.4 123 3.00 121.4 9.Kallis J.H 11126 79.5 266 1.90 117.5 10.Miller K.R 2958 53.8 170 3.09 115.6 11.Benaud R 2201 34.9 248 3.94 113.7 12.Pollock S.M 3781 35.0 421 3.90 113.0 13.Greig A.W 3599 62.1 141 2.43 110.7 14.Wasim Akram 2898 27.9 414 3.98 107.5 15.Kapil Dev N 5248 40.1 434 3.31 106.3 16.Flintoff A 3845 48.7 226 2.86 105.9 17.Noble M.A 1997 47.5 121 2.88 105.2 18.Vettori D.L 3962 39.6 325 3.25 104.6 19.Armstrong W.W 2863 57.3 87 1.74 92.1 20.Vaas WPUJC 3087 27.8 355 3.20 91.8 21.Mushtaq Mohammad 3643 63.9 79 1.39 91.6 22.McMillan B.M 1968 51.8 75 1.97 91.3 23.Shastri R.J 3830 47.9 151 1.89 85.6 24.Rhodes W 2325 40.1 127 2.19 83.9 25.Bailey T.E 2290 37.5 132 2.16 80.8 26.Hooper C.L 5762 56.5 114 1.12 78.8 27.Woolley F.E 3283 51.3 83 1.30 77.2
The second table is presented here. The ARIdx2 value is simply RpT + WpT x 20. The 20 has been derived based on these all-rounder figures rather than the all-tests figures.
We can take a batting average of over-40 and a bowling average of below-20 to be a Bradmanesque all-rounder. No one exists like this. Even if we change to 40-plus and below-22 we have no one. Looking at the two charts, we can conclude that Miller, Faulkner and Imran Khan are right there in the leading group. It is of interest that Faulkner played for a weak team and Miller for a strong team. Pollock and Botham also belong there. The summary figures for the four top all-rounders are presented below. It will be difficult to question the credentials of any of the five. Only Botham is slightly out of place in this group. Even then his bowling average is better than the best Indian bowler ever, Bedi at 28.71.
Player Runs@Avge Wkts@Avge Idx1 RpT WpT Idx2
Faulkner G.A firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 1.534 70.2 3.28 135.8 Miller K.R firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 1.609 53.8 3.09 115.6 Imran Khan firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 1.652 43.3 4.11 125.5 Pollock S.M firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 1.398 35.0 3.90 113.0 Botham I.T firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 1.181 51.0 3.75 126.1
Kapil Dev (31.05 and 29.65) does not belong to this group. Also if his bowling figures are adjusted because of bowling in the sub-continent, then his batting figures will get adjusted the other way. Similarly Hadlee (27.17 and 22.30) has too low a batting average. The bowling averages of Sobers and Kallis are quite high (31.59 and 34.04).
Finally let me conclude with a request to send in constructive comments which add value to the article. Bouquets or brickbats, it does not matter. If this article makes a young cricket follower look up GA Faulkner and Keith Miller in the records and marvel at their achievements, I would have achieved something.
My next article is a fascinating one analyzing Test Series. The Test Series, with their myiad variations as compared to the single tests provides scope for some interesting insights.
An important announcement to the readers. I have created an open mailid to which the comments and suggestions, not meant for publication, can be submitted. The mail id is firstname.lastname@example.org. Since the readers would have to use a mail route I give the readers my assurance that the mail id is safe and will never be used by me for anything other than communicating with the reader specifically. This will not be part of any group mail nor will mails be cc'd.
Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systemsFeeds: Anantha Narayanan
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Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.