Greatest All-Rounders (based on their career peaks) by Abdul Habib 21st September 2003 What is the best way to gauge a players greatness? Is it his career average? Is it the average of his top 10 performances? Personally i believe that a players career average can be misleading due to frequent dips and peaks in form due to medical or even personal reasons. I think the best way to judge a players greatness is to work out when he hit peak form and then look at his figures to see just how good he was when he was on fire. After all when we choose an all-time XI we are assuming each player is performing to the best of his abilities aren’t we? Each player should be judged whilst performing at their peak level over a sustained period of 6 years. Anything less than 6 years wouldnt be a long enough period to ascertain true greatness and anything longer than 6 years would be unfairly weighted in favour of those players who never suffered a serious injury during their career. I'm putting my theory to the test with a list of 6 all rounders, i will only be using players who have retired and only one from each country in the top 8. I've missed out SL and SA because the players suggested to me as their greatest all rounders havent retired as yet. The players featured will be... Australia - Keith Miller England - Ian Botham India - Kapil Dev New Zealand - Richard Hadlee Pakistan - Imran Khan West Indies - Gary Sobers ...I chose all rounders because i can check for their batting peaks as well as their bowling peaks and even a combined peak. This should test the theory better than just comparing bowlers or batsmen. Each six year peak begins on the 1st day of the first year specified and ends on the last day of the last year specified, I've taken great pains to check every six year period of each players career and pick out the best one's for each discipline and for the combined discipline. Let the games begin!!! Batting Lets begin with comparing each players 6 year peak as a batsman, to qualify as an all time great batsman the bar is set at an average of 45 runs. This isnt as high (50 runs) as some would set but remember these arent dedicated batsmen so a little discretion should be used. Below i will list each players batting average during their 6 year peak as a batsman, a dotted line will divide the players into all time great batsmen and the rest... 71.37 - Sobers (1958 - 1963) 52.90 - Imran (1986 - 1991) ------------------------------- 40.02 - Miller (1947 - 1952) 37.08 - Botham (1978 - 1983) 34.43 - Hadlee (1982 - 1987) 34.25 - Kapil (1982 - 1987) ...from the selection only two can be considered genuinely great batsmen and guaranteed a place on their batting skills alone. Imran has a very impressive 52.90, whilst Gary Sobers has an incredible 71.37. At the peak of every players skills as a batsman, only Imran Khan and Gary Sobers make the grade leaving the nearest contender (Miller) trailing by 12.88 runs to Imran and an incredible 31.35 runs (close to Kapil and Hadlee's peak batting average) to Sobers. Round 1 winners are Sobers and Imran! Bowling As test bowlers the most important aspect of their bowling would be their strike rate and then their average. The benchmark here will be set at a S/R below 55 combined with an average below 25. Once again the bowling figures below are from each players 6 year peak as a bowler and not their career figures. This time there will be two dotted lines, the players above the first one are all-time great bowlers (going by their figures) and the players above the second dotted line and below the first one will be great bowlers. Round 2..... Fight... 154 wkts at an avg of 14.85 with a S/R of 40.9 for Imran (1981 - 1986) 192 wkts at an avg of 18.31 with a S/R of 46.5 for Hadlee (1980 - 1985) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 267 wkts at an avg of 24.99 with a S/R of 53.5 for Botham (1978 - 1983) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ~90 wkts at an avg of 21.86 with a S/R of 59.3 for Miller (1947 - 1952) 239 wkts at an avg of 26.94 with a S/R of 53.6 for Kapil (1979 - 1984) ~89 wkts at an avg of 27.29 with a S/R of 72.2 for Sobers (1962 - 1967) ...Imran, Hadlee and Botham were all great bowlers at their peak but Hadlee and Imran were something else. During their respective 6 year peaks, Hadlee and Imran were all-time great bowlers and would probably make any team in the world as strike bowlers. Just look at that 40.9 S/R maintained by Imran for 6 years!!! Kapil and Miller were both unlucky to miss out because Kapil made the grade with his strike rate and Miller with his average but they didnt make the grade with their combined figures. Round 2 winners are Imran, Hadlee, and Botham. All Rounders The only player to reach the benchmark based on his 6 year peaks as both a batsman and a bowler was Imran Khan with a batting average of nearly 53 and a bowling average of 14.85 combined with a strike rate of 40.9, he really was an awesome player but does he win and is he the greatest all rounder ever? I think we should have one more round to decide because as impressive as those figures are his bowling peak was from 1981 to 1986 and his batting peak was from 1986 to 1991, so although at different stages in his career Imran was amazing at both disciplines. A truly great all rounder is one who is great at both disciplines at the same time, so lets have the deciding round and see who was the greatest all rounder of all time based on each players 6 year peak. Since we are looking at each players all round capabilities, i'll relent a little and lower the batting average and raise the S/R. The benchmark for the greatest all rounders will be a batting average of 40 and bowling figures with a S/R of below 60 combined with an average below 25! 46.21 Batt avg. 167 wkts at an avg of 16.89 with a S/R of 42.8 for Imran (1982 - 1987) 40.02 Batt avg. ~90 wkts at an avg of 21.86 with a S/R of 59.3 for Miller (1947 - 1952) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 34.43 Batt avg. 218 wkts at an avg of 18.76 with a S/R of 46.2 for Hadlee (1982 - 1987) 65.51 Batt avg. ~89 wkts at an avg of 27.29 with a S/R of 72.2 for Sobers (1962 - 1967) 37.08 Batt avg. 267 wkts at an avg of 24.99 with a S/R of 53.5 for Botham (1978 - 1983) 29.25 Batt avg. 239 wkts at an avg of 26.94 with a S/R of 53.6 for Kapil (1979 - 1984) ...Whilst there is no doubt in my mind that all the above were explosive match winners for their respective teams and each of them deserve to be be called great all rounders, there are only two (Imran and Miller) that met the benchmark set for the 'greatest' all rounders. Among the others some excelled in batting (Sobers) and others were incredible bowlers (Hadlee) but the greatest all rounder of them all is Imran Khan. In this last round he is head and shoulders above his nearest rival (Miller) for the all rounder slot in an all time test side, Imran has a batting average 6.19 runs above his nearest rival (second only to Sobers overall) and his bowling average is 4.97 runs below Miller combine that with a strike rate 16.5 balls (nearly 3 overs) less than the next best all rounder. Imran at his peak was the best all rounder that we have ever seen but looking at his peak bowling figures it makes me wonder just how close he is to being the best fast bowler of all time too!!! In addition to the above it's pertinent to mention Imran's playing record as captain. Imran captained Pakistan for 48 tests, that's more than half his career. In those 48 tests Imran averaged 52.34 with the bat and took 187 wickets at 20.26 with the ball. That's right Imran averaged 52 with the bat and 20 with the ball whilst holding together one of the most divisive teams in the history of all sport! Never before or after Imran has Pakistan ever been as united as it was under his leadership and it was his all-round performance which helped to give him the legitimacy he needed to do things his way.