The highest impact T20 players ever

By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar

Conventional statistics are inadequate in every respect to identify the truest performers on the cricket field. Still, in Test cricket, and even ODIs to some extent, conventional cricket statistics have some meaning (though far fewer than most think) but in T20 cricket, they make no sense whatsoever. Which is why no one knows who the best batsmen, bowlers and players in T20 cricket because there are quite simply no measures to even give an indication. 

The splintered T20 domestic circuit also plays a part in this confusion. No one knows where to look either to identify the best players. There is no one place where all domestic leagues are accounted for and its stats neatly arranged for each player.

Impact Index not only does all of that but also processes all the numbers to find the highest impact players in this format. All numbers updated till the beginning of IPL 2012.

1. Shahid Afridi (International T20 IMPACT 4.57)

IPL’s covert ban on Pakistani players is as much a loss for the IPL and the general standards of cricket in this format as it is for those players, given the number of high impact T20 players that come from Pakistan (hence, to give a Pakistani team place in CLT20 is a very smart decision). Both the International and Domestic lists here, in fact, are topped by Pakistanis. Here it is Shahid Afridi, most known for his scintillating hitting throughout the world, but he has actually had a great time as a bowler in this format. In fact, in T20 Internationals, his bowling has had a higher impact than his batting – he is actually the 3rd-highest impact bowler in its history. He is also a big match player and even has one tournament-defining performance to his credit (which prominently helped win the T20 World Cup for Pakistan in 2009). His low failure rates (a failure on the Impact Index system is when an IMPACT of even 1 is not registered in a match) as a bowler (27%) and as a player (17%) also provide the keys to these remarkably high impact numbers.

2. Kevin Pietersen (4.15)

The highest impact batsman in T20 internationals is also the only (largely) single skill player on this list. Pietersen is, in fact, the Viv Richards of T20 International cricket, given what he has achieved as a batsman in this format – a fact lost on most people, given that he scored his first T20 hundred only recently in the IPL. It is only on Impact Index that it is revealed that he is highest impact batsman in the world when it comes to strike rate and building partnerships and the 2nd highest when it comes to scoring runs (in proportion to runs scored in all the matches he has played in, pressure of falling wickets that he has absorbed and chasing targets down. He has the lowest failure rate as a batsman (a mere 16%), astonishing in this format particularly. He has also been a big match player with a tournament-defining performance for England in the T20 World Cup in 2010.

3. Irfan Pathan (3.75)

India’s highest impact T20 International player may never play for India again if he does not re-discover his bowling mojo. He is the 6th highest impact bowler of all time in this format, with a particular penchant for breaking partnerships. His prodigious batting talent has not found full expression in T20 Internationals on consistency as his batting does not cross an IMPACT of 1 which is the mark of a genuine all-rounder, but it is pretty close - he has always been good at absorbing pressure while batting. He has also been a big match player with a tournament-defining performance for India in inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

4. Kamran Akmal (3.70)

He is the highest impact wicketkeeper-batsman in T20 internationals (and the highest impact wicketkeeper). Only Sangakkara has a lower failure rate than him amongst wicketkeeper-batsmen. Akmal has been a big match player with a tournament-defining performance for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup in 2009.

5. Yuvraj Singh (3.34)

The second highest impact all-rounder in T20I history after Afridi. The second-highest impact batsman for India (after Gambhir). High impact in all batting parameters, especially strike rate. More than a handy bowler – much more than the “pie-chucker” he was accused of being by the 2nd-highest impact player on this list. He has also been a big match player with a tournament-defining performance for India in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

And below, we present the five highest impact players in (the relatively short) history of T20 domestic cricket across the world. Given the varying standards in different parts of the world in different leagues, while it would not be appropriate to consider them to necessarily be the highest impact T20 players in the world, it would help to remember that the prominent T20 players do emerge from these leagues itself, at the end of the day. All numbers updated till the beginning of IPL 2012.

1. Shoaib Malik (Domestic T20 IMPACT 5.15)

It is fitting that Shoaib Malik and his team will feature in the next edition of Champions League, as Pakistan has been provided a place in it now. Shoaib Malik is the 3rd-highest impact batsman in all of T20 domestic cricket – besides being a serious bowler as well, and one of the most successful captains in this format. He has been a big match player with 4 tournament-defining performances (the highest in T20 history) for Sialkot Stallions – ABN AMRO Twenty-20 Cup 2006, Royal Bank of Scotland Twenty-20 Cup 2009, 2010 and Faysal Bank T-20 Cup 2011. Given that he has a relatively considerable 47 matches in this format, his Impact numbers are awe-inspiring – his tournament-defining performances make him break out of the Impact Index scales too.

2. Ganesh Gaikwad (4.91)

24-year-old Ganesh Gaikwad has to be one of the unluckiest cricketers in India. He is, by a mile, the highest impact T20 Indian player in the domestic circuit but he is yet to get a proper IPL call-up. Pune Warriors had him in their squad last year but he never really got a run. He is the 3rd-highest impact bowler in all of T20 domestic cricket – with economy and the ability to pick wickets showing up as strengths on his Impact charts, and a low failure rate (20%) as a bowler. As a batsman, his high failure rate (56%) still does not affect his overall high batting impact – given his ability on all batting parameters. He has been a big match player too with a tournament-defining performance for Maharashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2010 – which is where he has made his mark. Many other young players who have got IPL chances came from this circuit too, so undoubtedly Gaikwad remains the most significantly overlooked talent from here.

3. Shane Watson (4.63)

The highest impact player in IPL history has been astonishing for his consistency across formats and tournaments/series. His low failure rate as a batsman in this format (33%) and a well-tested ability to choke runs as a bowler make him the 8th-highest impact batsman and the 13th-highest impact bowler in T20 domestic history. He has been a big match player too, with a tournament-defining performance for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2008.

4. Suresh Raina (4.61)

He is the highest impact batsman in T20 domestic history. Outstanding in all batting parameters, his low batting failure rate (34%) further seals his legend in this format. Though he has bowled in less than half the matches he has played, his impact as a bowler is almost worthy of an all-rounder’s (very close to a Bowling IMPACT of 1) and he even has a slight captaincy impact. Most significantly, he has been an emphatic big match player with 3 tournament-defining performances for Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2010 and 2011 and Champions League 2010.

5. Sunil Narine (4.59)

A good example of a smart IPL buy (which is sadly not such a common occurrence) – he was the highest impact bowler in T20 history even before the IPL began this year (which is when these numbers are updated to) – KKR displayed very good sense to get him. His ability to choke runs and squeeze wickets out of the pressure that builds is his most special characteristic. He has a very low failure rate as a bowler (20%) and in his young career has even been a big match player with a tournament-defining performance for Trinidad and Tobago in 2012.

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