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Career Impact – the Next 500

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar - massive impact over his Test career

Earlier this year I posted this feature, which outlined my initial investigations in terms of career impact on win probability. That feature covered the first 1,000 players to have been reviewed, in which we found that 40 players had so far achieved a career impact of 500% or more, and of those players six had gone on to top 1000%. The six were, in chronological order, Walter Hammond, Don Bradman, Len Hutton, Neil Harvey, Garry Sobers and Colin Cowdrey, four of whom felt the queen’s sword, as it were.

As the number of Test matches played has continued to rise, a cut-off of 500% would see many more players listed than we had in the previous article, therefore the limit has been increased to 700%. This time we are looking at the next 500 Test players, that is players 1000-1499 as numbered in CricketArchive, or if you prefer Len Maddocks to Chris Balderstone (which is probably the last time those two will be mentioned in this feature). Sadly the 700% career impact limit means we won’t be discussing the likes of Wes Hall, Eddie Barlow, John Snow, Roy Fredericks, Zaheer Abbas and Andy Roberts, however some of those who don’t qualify will get a mention at the end, when I’ll look at the impact on a per-Test basis.

Here is the first group, listed chronologically based on each player’s final Test.

CI% Player Tests per-Test
1064 KF Barrington (Eng) 82 12.98
794 ER Dexter (Eng) 62 12.80
737 TL Goddard (SA) 41 17.98
827 GD McKenzie (Aus) 60 13.78
810 WM Lawry (Aus) 67 12.09

Ken Barrington and Ted Dexter, in their very different ways, end up with almost exactly the same impact on a per-Test basis, Barrington becoming our seventh player to pass 1000%. My various analyses of Test cricket have thrown up the name Trevor Goddard before, the great all-rounder from that late 1960s South Africa team which we were sadly denied enjoyment of, and here we can see what a massive influence he was in the Test matches in which he played, with almost 18% impact per Test, a phenomenal value which is equal to the great Alan Davidson (though not quite up to the level of Garry Sobers).

CI% Player Tests per-Test
1005 RB Kanhai (WI) 79 12.72
763 LR Gibbs (WI) 79 9.66
787 IR Redpath (Aus) 66 11.93
722 JH Edrich (Eng) 77 9.38
1100 RB Simpson (Aus) 62 17.75

Rohan Kanhai also surpasses 1000% for his career, as does Bobby Simpson – I must admit to being somewhat surprised to see Simpson’s very high per-Test impact. Looking more closely at Simpson’s impact, his fielding and bowling takes him to this higher level. Simpson also had some very big impact matches, with twenty at more than 20%, no fewer than four of which were over 50%, which compares favourably for example with Davidson, who had two, albeit in fewer Tests.

CI% Player Tests per-Test
1002 AW Greig (Eng) 58 17.28
736 BE Congdon (NZ) 61 12.07
836 BS Chandrasekar (Ind) 58 14.42
848 BS Bedi (Ind) 67 12.65
748 Asif Iqbal (Pak) 58 12.90
806 IM Chappell (Aus) 75 10.75

Two great Indian spinners are featured in this group, Chandra and Bedi, though it’s interesting that Chandra outpoints Bedi quite a bit in impact per Test, which also bears further discussion. Considering that Bedi took more wickets at a lower average than Chandra, clearly Chandra took the more impactful wickets. Looking at their high-impact matches in more detail, Bedi achieved 12 matches with more than 20% impact, while Chandra achieved five more such games in eleven fewer Tests; though Bedi had two matches with over 50% of impact, Chandra managed a massive 73% impact when he spun out England at Calcutta in December 1972. Tony Greig exceeded 1000% and is the tenth to do so, as well posting the very high per-Test average of 17.28% .

CI% Player Tests per-Test
861 KD Walters (Aus) 74 11.64
959 APE Knott (Eng) 95 10.10
1203 G Boycott (Eng) 108 11.13
924 DL Underwood (Eng) 86 10.75
1155 CH Lloyd (WI) 110 10.50

Our first wicket keeper and one of the finest ever to pull on gloves in Allan Knott, who falls just short of the 1000% milestone. Geoff Boycott was examined in detail in this feature, and he and Clive Lloyd both had more than 1000% career impact, taking us to twelve so far.

CI% Player Tests per-Test
1239 GS Chappell (Aus) 87 14.24
997 RW Marsh (Aus) 96 10.39
1267 DK Lillee (Aus) 70 18.10
729 Sarfraz Nawaz (Pak) 55 13.26
1354 RGD Willis (Eng) 90 15.04

Three all-time Australian greats retired after the same Test and are featured in this next group – Rodney Marsh shows as being exceptionally close to Allan Knott in terms of aggregate and average impact. Chappell and Lillee both exceeded 1000%, Lillee with an exceptionally high average, as did Bob Willis, making fifteen. Only three players in Test history had by this time exceeded 1,000% in career impact while also enjoying a per-Test average of at least 18 – Bradman, Sobers and now Dennis Lillee.

CI% Player Tests per-Test
754 SMH Kirmani (Ind) 88 8.57
843 MA Holding (WI) 60 14.04
1846 SM Gavaskar (Ind) 125 14.77
1549 RJ Hadlee (NZ) 86 18.13
1276 CG Greenidge (WI) 108 11.82

Sunil Gavaskar had a massive impact over his career, his 1846% in career impact being the highest I’ve seen so far, overtaking Sobers on 1786). Richard Hadlee also had huge impact, and with a very high average, making four players now with 1000% at over 18 per Test. As Gordon Greenidge also achieved more than 1000% career impact, we now have 18.

CI% Player Tests per-Test
1380 IVA Richards (WI) 121 11.41
1518 Imran Khan (Pak) 88 17.25
906 DB Vengsarkar (Ind) 116 7.81
1220 DI Gower (Eng) 117 10.42
1287 GA Gooch (Eng) 118 10.91

Four of our final group passed the 1000% barrier, taking us now to 22 so far. Gooch shades Gower in aggregate in almost the same number of Tests, and therefore has a slightly higher average too. As all 500 players have been investigated and summarised, we can now list the highest scoring of the 1,500 performers which we’ve looked at so far in terms of career impact are as follows:-

CI% Player Tests per-Test
1846 SM Gavaskar (Ind) 125 14.77
1786 GS Sobers (WI) 93 19.21
1549 RJ Hadlee (NZ) 86 18.13
1518 Imran Khan (Pak) 88 17.25
1439 GA Gooch (Eng) 118 10.91
1399 WR Hammond (Eng) 85 16.46
1380 IVA Richards (WI) 121 11.41
1354 RGD Willis (Eng) 90 15.04
1328 MC Cowdrey (Eng) 114 11.65

The highest placed Australian player so far is Dennis Lillee with 1267% at 18.10; the highest placed South African is Trevor Goddard with 737 at 17.98. Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh had not yet begun playing Test cricket.

Let’s now look at those who, for various reasons, didn’t make the cut at 700% for their careers. Here are the highest ratings on a per-Test for players in this group who scored 500-700% in career impact.

per-Test Player Tests CI%
16.78 EJ Barlow (SA) 30 503
14.81 BL Cairns (NZ) 43 637
13.65 EAS Prasanna (Ind) 49 669
13.53 WW Hall (WI) 48 649
13.09 JA Snow (Eng) 49 641
13.08 KD Ghavri (Ind) 39 510
12.99 AME Roberts (WI) 47 611
12.78 PH Edmonds (Eng) 51 652
12.58 GM Turner (NZ) 41 516

Large contributors all in a relatively low number of Tests, particular Eddie Barlow and Lance Cairns. Roy Fredericks was the most unfortunate as regards the 700% cut-off, registering 699 at 11.84 per Test. Here are the highest per-Test ratings for all 500.

per-Test Player Tests CI%
18.13 RJ Hadlee (NZ) 86 1549
18.10 DK Lillee (Aus) 70 1267
17.98 TL Goddard (SA) 41 737
17.75 RB Simpson (Aus) 62 1100
17.28 AW Greig (Eng) 58 1002
17.25 Imran Khan (Pak) 88 1518
16.78 EJ Barlow (SA) 30 503

All-rounders all, including Simpson who surely qualifies as such, but with one exception. What this shows is how much more the great all-rounders contribute in terms of impact than those who specialise in one discipline. Except Dennis Lillee – Lillee is here shown to have possessed transcendent skill primarily in terms of impact bowling.

Finally, here are the highest ranking players on a per-Test basis so far, i.e. the first 1500 players.

per-Test Player
20.69 DG Bradman (Aus)
20.08 GA Faulkner (SA)
19.21 GS Sobers (WI)
18.10 DK Lillee (Aus)
18.04 AK Davidson (Aus)
18.01 RJ Hadlee (NZ)

While no Australians featured in the aggregate rankings above, three of the top five all-time on a per-Test basis turn out to have been great Aussies. While I did apply a number of Tests limit to the above list, it’s worth noting that Bert Vogler managed a whopping 20.97 per Test, though he only played in 15 matches in total.

The Four Great All-rounders

We now have career figures for two of the four great all-rounders of the 1980s, Hadlee and Imran, so next time I’m going to add in Botham and Kapil Dev and look at the four of them in detail, followed by the rankings of the next 500 players.


Interesting stuff again Dave – as an aside who, so far, has had the most impact of the one Test wonders?

Comment by Martin | 12:00am BST 6 April 2014

Great stuff – I will have to spend some time wallowing in these numbers, will post thoughts later

Comment by Howe_zat | 12:00am BST 6 April 2014

Hi Martin, as I type this I’m sitting in a hotel room in a wet Montgomery, Alabama watching cricket on ESPN. If you’d told me 15 years ago I’d be typing that at some stage, I’d have given you the breathalyser.

The three highest probably won’t come as a surprise – Redmond had the most impact of all at 38.1%, followed by Marriott (27.2%) and Ganteaume (27.1%). Marriott’s is lower than might be expected as England were in a strong position by the time he took a lot of his wickets, therefore the impact is not as high.

Comment by Dave Wilson | 12:00am BST 6 April 2014

Very engaging figures. Makes one think about so many facets of the players in question. Kanhai, for example, keeps coming up trumps wrt to the other windies bats in such comparisons, which is pleasing since he was so pleasing to the eye.

Expected stuff from Lillee, Imran and Hadlee. Gavaskar was pretty much expected as well. Didn’t think Boycott would get that high, but I suppose he came through on multiple occasions when everybody else was yawning.

Simpson’s fielding was always spoken of highly, and here it comes into play. I was wondering if you could let us know which players had the highest contribution through their fielding? Thanks for this. Looking forward to the 90s.

Comment by harsh.ag | 12:00am BST 6 April 2014

Of course.

For wicket-keepers, the leaders in total career impact for fielding so far are:-

704% Marsh
538% Knott
447% Evans
430% Bari
408% D Murray

Marsh quite a bit ahead, but as he and Knott were very close overall this highlights Knott’s superior batting. For non-WKs:-

249% Simpson
230% Richards
226% Botham
219% Gavaskar
215% G Chappell

On a per-Tests basis, WKs:-

7.41% Marsh
6.72% Grout
6.63% Langley
6.58% D Murray
6.52% Lindsay

As regards fielders, it’s a bit more difficult to pinpoint them currently, but as might be expected Solkar is top with 4.79%, followed by Simpson on 4.01%. Jackie Hampshire is actually on 4.72%, but played only eight Tests and I applied a cut-off at 10 Tests.

In terms of percentage of total impact just for fielding, for WKs:-

88.4% Langley
87.4% Duckworth
85.7% Tallon
84.3% Strudwick
74.6% Strudwick
72.5% D Murray

For fielders, Phil Sharpe is top with 76.9%.

Comment by chasingthedon | 12:00am BST 6 April 2014

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