Bring out the Pom-poms

Highest Impact ODI Players – England

Continuing in our series of pieces on each country’s ODI history, we go to England. From 1971 to 2012 (before the start of the South Africa - England ODI Series), England played 582 matches and won 284 with a win loss ratio of 1.04. Their highest score is 391, lowest 86. They have finished as runners-up three times in World Cup – 1979, 1987 and 1992 and were also runners-up in Champions Trophy in 2004.

We present three lists – of players, batsmen and bowlers. The minimum qualification to be on these lists is to have played 75 matches (50 in case of bowlers). A match is considered in this system only when there is a result, and if the player has bowled or batted, as the case may be.

Here are the highest impact ODI players in England’s history.

Andrew Flintoff is so far ahead of the rest of England’s ODI players that it is almost unreal. Until it registers that he is the second highest impact ODI player in history (after Viv Richards). And the main reason for that is his tally of 7 Series/Tournament-defining performances, awe-inspiring for someone who played just 141 games – the best ratio of SDs and matches in ODI history. No one from England even comes close. Out of Flintoff’s 7 SDs, 2 of them came solely as a bowler whereas the remaining 5 came from his all-round performances. Interestingly, none of his SDs has come solely because of his batting performances.

Interestingly, England’s finest Test all-rounder comes after Flintoff here - Ian Botham. Much like Flintoff, Botham was also more of a bowling all-rounder (Bowling IMPACT considerably higher than his Batting IMPACT) although when it came to series-defining performances for his team, Botham had only 2 such performances compared to Flintoff’s 7. However, in terms of consistency Ian Botham had a far superior record; in fact, his failure rate of 18% is the second-lowest (after his famed peer Richard Hadlee) in the history of ODI cricket.

It might surprise many to see Paul Collingwood with the second-biggest SD tally – he was a serious big match player. His relatively high failure-rate (as a near all-rounder) keeps him down at number 5 on the IMPACT charts for England.

Otherwise, Phil DeFreitas, Stuart Broad, Darren Gough, Graham Gooch, Marcus Trescothick and Allan Lamb are all mainly single-skill players (on the evidence of their IMPACT ODI sheets) – it is very rare to have so many non-all-rounders on an all-time list. In fact out of the 20 players on this list there are 13 specialist batsmen, 2 all-rounders, 4 specialist bowlers and 1 wicket-keeper which maybe again goes on to show that England as a team were highly dependent on single-skill players and as a result lacked the adjustability factor (which is so important in the limited format) due to their lack of quality all-rounders in the team, ironic considering two of their highest impact ODI players had been champion all-rounders in their playing days.

It is also interesting to note that there are only 5 players from the current playing generation to feature on this all-time list, namely- Stuart Broad, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen.

For those trying to understand where England has fallen short over the years in ODI cricket, the SD (series/tournament-defining performances) column has the best clue. Amongst the major Test playing nations (barring New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh), England has the lowest percentage of SD performances – just 40 SDs amongst their highest impact 20 players here, for example (Australia has 102). This inability to produce the big performances when they count the most has been England’s biggest problem right through their ODI history.

Allan Lamb emerges as the highest impact English batsman in the ODI format despite having just 1 SD to his credit. Lamb is phenomenal in almost each and every batting parameter and also has the second-lowest (alongwith Ian Bell) failure rate by an English batsman in its ODI history.

Marcus Trescothick, one of the most stable and charismatic openers England has ever produced in the 50 overs format comes in at the 2nd position and has 3 SDs to his credit—the highest by any English batsman. His ability to produce high impact knocks on big occasions can also be understood from the fact that he actually has the joint-highest (with Viv Richards and Adam Gilchrist) Big Match Bonus (high impact innings in big matches) amongst batsmen in ODI history. Pity he didn’t travel well, otherwise it is quite possible that England’s recent ODI history could have been a bit different.
Kevin Pietersen is the third-highest impact English batsman of all-time and leads two batting parameters for England, namely- Pressure IMPACT and Partnership Building IMPACT which coupled with his 2 SDs as a batsman shows his true value as a champion. Pietersen was also one of England’s highest impact batsmen in the last ODI series he played for England against Pakistan and his absence from the current England team will be debilitating.

Graham Gooch - the fourth-highest impact batsman for England was known for his prolific run scoring abilities in the international arena and so it is not a surprise to see him have the highest Runs Tally IMPACT (proportion of total runs scored) for an English batsman. In fact, Gooch has the sixth-highest Runs Tally IMPACT for any batsman in the history of ODI cricket and also interestingly has the fifth-lowest failure rate (exceptionally high consistency) for a batsman in the history of ODI cricket.

It is interesting to note that all the high-impact English batsmen on this list are single-skilled players and the only all-rounder (as a wicket-keeper) to feature on this list is Alec Stewart. Stewart’s contribution as a batsman for England can be understood from the fact that he is the third-highest impact wicket-keeper batsman (only in terms of Batting IMPACT) in the world after Adam Gilchrist and Kumar Sangakkara (he is ahead of Dhoni).

Remarkably, there are only two batsmen from the present playing generation who feature on this list and out of them, one (Kevin Pietersen) may have already bid his adieu to the international arena.

It is very interesting to note that there are 3 South African-born cricketers amongst the 5 highest impact batsmen for England.

NOTE: If the cut-off is lowered to 50 matches (from 75), Michael Atherton (1.84) becomes the seventh-highest impact batsman for England in their history of ODI cricket. Interesting, as he is remembered more as a Test batsman although he has a batting SD and his Runs Tally IMPACT (the proportion of runs scored) is the third-highest for an English batsman in the ODI format.

The stories that unfold on various batting parameters are revealing.

When it comes to Runs Tally IMPACT (proportion of match runs made through career), the highest impact batsmen are Graham Gooch, Allan Lamb and Nick Knight.

The highest Strike Rate IMPACT batsmen (highest strike rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Allan Lamb.

The best Pressure IMPACT batsmen (those who absorbed the most pressure that came about due to fall of wickets) are Kevin Pietersen, Neil Fairbrother and Paul Collingwood.

The batsmen with the highest Partnership Building IMPACT (who built the most partnerships in the middle) are Kevin Pietersen, Graham Gooch and Allan Lamb.

The best Chasing IMPACT batsmen (who registered the highest impact while chasing a target) are Graham Gooch, Michael Vaughan and Graham Thorpe.

The batsmen with the lowest failure rates (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Graham Gooch, Allan Lamb and Ian Bell.

The Highest Impact Batting Performances in England’s ODI history

1. EJG Morgan – 107 not out off 101 v Pakistan, Southampton, 2010 – Batting IMPACT 9.76

Going into the 5th ODI with the series tied at 2-2, England got off to a shaky start and were soon stuttering at 59-3 when Paul Collingwood was forced to retire and was replaced in the middle by Eoin Morgan. Morgan’s recovery act alongwith Ian Bell and later with Collingwood took England to a sense of respectability before he switched gears magnificently in the death overs by smacking 48 runs off the final 4 overs to get England to a competitive total of 256 runs which proved to be a match-winning one.

2. PD Collingwood – 120 not out off 133 v Australia, Melbourne, 2007 – Batting IMPACT 9.10

Chasing 253 in this CB Series final encounter, England were subjected to hostile spells from Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken upfront and were struggling at 15-3 after the first 6 overs when Paul Collingwood stepped in and along with Ian Bell launched a recovery act of the highest quality. He showed all the qualities of a great ODI batsman and eventually chased down the intimidating target with 4 wickets and 3 balls to spare to give England their first CB Series victory in Australia.

3. ME Trescothick – 108 not out off 145 v Pakistan, London, 2003 – Batting IMPACT 7.14

After being comfortably placed at 129-2 chasing a target of 230 runs in this third and final ODI of the Natwest series against Pakistan, the English line-up suffered a somewhat quintessential collapse and within no time found themselves reduced to 154-6. However, Marcus Trescothick showed no signs of surrendering and shunned his own aggressive playing style to give stability to the England reply. He also found an able ally in the form of Chris Read to build a 77-runs partnership for the 7th wicket and together managed to stave off the Pakistanis and Shoaib Akhtar in particular to get his team home with 9 balls to spare.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. When it comes to just match context, Allan Lamb’s 108 not out off 106 balls v New Zealand (Sydney, 1983) registers as the highest impact batting performance in the history of English ODI cricket. David Gower’s knock of 158 off 118 balls v New Zealand (Brisbane, 1983)  and Eoin Morgan’s above mentioned knock of 107 not out off 101 balls v Pakistan (Southampton, 2010) are the second and the third highest impact batting performances in a match context, respectively.

NOTE: The cut-off criteria for this particular list is 50 matches (unlike the others which were of 75 matches) primarily because England have had only 7 bowlers in their entire ODI cricket history to have bowled in more than 75 matches. They are also the only team amongst all the Test-playing nations (barring Bangladesh) to have failed to meet the particular criteria. It is indicative of yet another great weakness in English ODI cricket – their bowling.

England’s lack of a quality spinner has hurt them in the past and is visible from the fact that only one spinner is there on the list of the highest impact bowlers.

Interestingly though, it is Graeme Swann who emerges as England’s highest impact bowler in their ODI history. Swann’s brilliance can be understood from his high impact numbers on almost each and every bowling parameter. His significant ability of picking up wickets in his first over is also well brought out from the fact that he has the highest Partnership Breaking IMPACT for any English bowler and the joint-highest in the world.

Stuart Broad’s emergence as the strike bowler for England in the ODI format has seen quite a lot of England successes of late. In his 84 innings as a bowler, he has the third-highest Top/Middle-order Wickets IMPACT (proportion of wickets in the top/middle order) after Shane Bond and Brett Lee. He is also the highest impact ODI bowler in the world amongst the current generation if the cut-off is kept at 75 matches (at 50, it is Swann).

Bob Willis makes this list because of his remarkable Economy IMPACT- the best for any English bowler in the ODI format and the 4th-best in the world. He was not as prolific a wicket taker in the ODI format as compared to his Test standards and also didn’t have any SD but is still placed high on the list because of his exceptional economy.

Andrew Flintoff
and Ian Botham also are the only two all-rounders to feature on this list of highest impact English bowlers.

With Broad and Swann being the highest impact bowlers amongst the current playing generation and James Anderson and Tim Bresnan also featuring amongst the top 10 impact bowlers for England in their ODI history, it is clear that bowling is definitely the strength of the current English team, unlike their batting and also goes on to explain England’s rise as an ODI unit of late.

These are the highest impact players in all bowling parameters. 

When it comes to Top/Middle-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (wickets taken from nos. 1-7 in most cases), the highest impact bowlers are Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Darren Gough.

Lower-order Wickets Tally
IMPACT (batsmen nos. 8-11) – highest impact bowlers are Craig White, Darren Gough and Phil DeFreitas.

The highest Economy IMPACT bowlers (lowest economy rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Bob Willis, Graeme Swann and Phil DeFreitas.

The highest impact Partnership-breaking bowlers are Graeme Swann, JE Emburey and Andrew Flintoff.

The bowlers with the highest Pressure Building IMPACT (taking quick wickets to put opposition under pressure) are James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Steve Harmison.

The bowlers with the lowest failure rate (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Andrew Caddick, Bob Willis and Graeme Swann.

The Highest Impact Bowling Performances in England’s ODI history

1. A Flintoff – 4 for 32 in 10 overs v Pakistan, London, 2003 – Bowling IMPACT 6.05

Pakistan, after being put into bat first by England, were subjected to an incisive spell of fast bowling from Andrew Flintoff who accounted for Yasir Hameed, Imran Nazir and Shoaib Malik in his first spell to pick up 3 for 13 in his 8 overs and left them tottering at 117-5. However, the rest of the English bowling attack combined gave away 197 runs from their 40 overs and took only 3 wickets to let the Pakistanis get away to a competitive total of 229 runs in the end.

2. GG Arnold – 4 for 27 in 11 overs v Australia, Birmingham, 1972 – Bowling IMPACT 4.89

Geoff Arnold’s ability to seam and swing the ball under favourable conditions came to the fore in this series-deciding encounter against the Aussies where he accounted for Ross Edwards, Rod Marsh, Ashley Mallet and Dennis Lillee in his quota of 11 overs to restrict Australia to a paltry total of 179 runs in their stipulated 55 overs. In reply, the English suffered a collapse of their own but managed to put it past their opponents with two wickets to spare.

3. GP Swann – 3 for 26 in 9 overs v Pakistan, Southampton, 2010 – Bowling IMPACT 4.81

After Eoin Morgan had earlier played a match-winning knock of 107 runs (see the highest impact batting performances) to give England a competitive total of 258 runs to defend, it was time for Graeme Swann to seal the deal with the ball for the Englishmen. With Pakistan struggling at 80-3 in their chase, Swann struck with his 5th ball of the match to take out Fawad Alam before accounting for Mohammad Yousuf and Shahid Afridi off successive balls in his 5th over to leave Pakistan reeling at 104-6. Although Swann failed to pick up any more wickets in the rest of his overs, he, by that time had made sure the Pakistanis were well and truly out of the chase.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. The highest impact bowling performance within a match context in England’s ODI history is Stuart Broad’s 5-23 v South Africa (Nottingham, 2008). Ronnie Irani’s 5-26 v India (London, 2002) and Mike Hendrick’s 5-31 v Australia (London, 1980) are the next highest impact bowling performances in a match context.

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