Arvind Iyengar

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The best ODI batsmen of all time

I was engaged in a couple of conversations this week on who
are the best ODI batsmen of all time.

 

Everyone talks about Sachin Tendulkar (but then again it's
hard to have any cricket conversation about all-time anything without
mentioning Tendulkar). My Aussie friend was convinced Ricky Ponting would crack
the top three, while Brian Lara also got some votes. I decided to use some
numbers to settle the debate.

 

There are a few basic stats that we can look at for determining
the best - the Castrol batting
momentum
is a measure of overall performance in an innings that combines runs scored and
strike rate. Applying the same criteria over the course of a career (average
and strike rate) gives us an adjusted batting momentum. In addition, I have
thrown in few other factors:

 

-  Strike rates have been adjusted for the era in
which a batsman played in. For instance, 
Viv Richards' strike-rate of 90.2 in the 1980s stood out a lot more in
that time and has been appropriately increased based on the average strike rate
of batsmen in the 80s compared to that of the 2000s.

 

-  A "volume of runs" bonus for longevity/sheer
magnitude of achievement has been added, i.e. the more runs one has scored in a
career, the higher this bonus.

 

Finally, only batsmen with over 6000 runs have been
considered.

 

Here's what the final table looks like with the final
adjusted batting score indicated in the final column:

Rank

Player

Runs

Ave

SR

Adj
SR

Total

1

IVA
Richards (WI)

6721

47.00

90.20

101.02

70.0

2

MS
Dhoni (India)

6497

51.15

88.52

88.52

69.3

3

SR
Tendulkar (India)

18111

45.16

86.32

89.34

68.4

4

MG
Bevan (Aus)

6912

53.58

74.16

79.35

67.8

5

RT
Ponting (Aus)

13686

42.63

80.60

82.21

59.7

6

JH
Kallis (SA)

11372

45.48

72.88

74.34

58.3

7

MJ
Clarke (Aus)

6622

45.35

78.10

78.10

57.2

8

DM
Jones (Aus)

6068

44.61

72.56

79.09

56.5

9

ML
Hayden (Aus)

6133

43.8

78.96

78.96

55.5

10

BC
Lara (WI)

10405

40.48

79.51

82.69

55.4

 

 

The top four are a notch above the rest and there's not a
lot to tell them apart. Richards is on top with an average of 47 and strike
rate of 90 in an era when such numbers were unheard of. MSD is ranked ahead of Sachin
at number 2 - the Indian skipper has a better average and strike rate, and
Sachin's "volume of runs" bonus did not get him ahead. (FYI - this bonus was a
simple number from 1-10 with Sachin getting a 10 as the highest run getters in
ODIs, and everyone else getting a pro-rated bonus based on their career
aggregate).

 

Michael Bevan is the highest rated Aussie because of his
average, which is the highest on this list. Ponting and Kallis come in at 5 and
6. The surprises are Michael Clarke and Dean Jones in the top 10 and both have
very similar numbers. Clarke seldom gets credit for his achievements and it's
only a matter of time till we start thinking of him as one of the all-time
greats. Dean Jones, who averaged over 44 for the bat will probably be more (in)famous
for his commentary, but he's arguably the most underrated batsman of all time.
Brian Lara rounds out the top 10.  

 

Honourable mentions go to Sehwag, Gilchrist, Saeed Anwar,
Mohammad Yousuf and Sourav Ganguly who just missed out on making the cut.

 

Overall, it's a pretty stellar group of batsmen in this list
and Viv Richards is top of the charts.

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