Both great allrounders,contemporaries and great competitors.Yet when a comparison is made betweenthe two,even ex players and cricket experts unanimously select Imran as the better of the two by a fair distance.This is mostly because of the difference both in bat avg: and bowl avg: of the two.Kapil was placed only at 3 or 4 among the 4 allrounders of 80s.Imran was usually placed at first place.But I as some body who watched Kapil play during the last 7 years of his career always thought that Kapil had some thing extra special more than his averages reveal.that 175 vs ZIM alone is ample proof of that.Also i could gather some valid informations characterising Kapil's career from a well known Pakistan cricket site.So i thought of going deep into the 2 players careers to get a more clear picture.
Kapil dev - 16 years - 131 tests,225 one dayers
Imran Khan -21 years - 88 tests,175 one dayers
Longevity wise Imran's records are not enough.after all he has only played 88 tests in a span of long 21 years.that is only 4.25 tests per year.it is no difficult to assume that Imran played only when he thought of himself fully physically and mentally fit.i would say he played safely here for some reason or other .on the other hand take Kapil , 131 tests in 16 years.quite remarkably he played all but 1 tests India played in his career time.even that 1 test miss was not due to fitness problem. that means Kapil was ready to play unless some thing hugely bothered him. and this longevity ratio is not a small percentage either. it is almost 150%.similarly in one days too,Kapil's 225 against Imran's 175.and we are comparing two players from the same era.if they were from entirely different eras we can attribute this shortage of matches to the difference in amount of matches played in different eras.In this regard we can see that the playing days/ year for Imran was less by a fair distance when compared to Kapil.This allowed him to be almost match fit when ever he footed on the ground to play.but Kapil just ignored this factor and made himself available at every minute necessity for India.And no need to say this factor had a sizable impact on the over all career statistics of the two,especially averages.
Now i shall categorise their careers and try to find who is better in each category.
1. test bowl :
Kapil :avg:29.64, econ:2.78 str:rate : 63.9 - index value:5265.31(product of all 3 assuming all have equal weightage)
Imran: avg:22.81, econ:2.54 str:rate : 53.7 - index value:3111.24.31(product of all 3 assuming all have equal weightage)
so w.r.t this data Kapil was only 59%(3111.24/5265.31) as effective as Imran as test bowler.now take the longevity factor.it does not need extra brilliance to conclude that had Imran played 131 test matches like Kapil did, his all the 3 numbers would have dropped by some margin in itself.Another thing is Kapil was one of the few bowlers(whether it be pace or spin) in the entire cricket history to be destined to play as a lone strike bowler in a bowling wise weak team in unfamiliar conditions.During his period India had only below average bowlers be it pace or spin.being the lone wicket taker in the company of avg: bowlers is a huge disadvantage.for instance take Warne and Mcgrath as example .I had watched on a number of occasions batsmen overcoming the threat of Mcgrath and getting into their groove only to find them bamboozled by Warne.just imagine the situation had Warne been not there. Mcgrath and other bowlers would have been asked to take the wkts and in such case it is quite natural that with less efficient bowlers to support him Mcgrath's figures would never have been the same as it turned out to be.And this little support at other end too definitely had an impact on Kapil's figures.On the other hand Imran had the support of Sarfraz and Quadir who were almost as good bowlers as Kapil was.So taking these 2 vital factors of longevity and 'support at other end' also into account,we can safely say that Kapil was atleast 75% as good a bowler as Imran.
2. test bat:
Kapil :avg:31.05 str:rate :80.91(some inns are excluded because of non availability of str: rates)
index value = 2512.26
Imran :avg:37.69 str:rate :47.52(some inns are excluded because of non availability of str: rates)
index value = 1791.02
str:rate may be only secondary in tests.but we just can't ignore Kapil's huge str: rate and Imran's very low str: rate. to put this in context even Viv had a str: rate of 69.28 only and for Ian botham it was only 61.and Kapil maintained this huge str: rate in tougher conditions of (WI,AUS,SAF,ENG,NZL combined too).to me Kapil's avg: * str: rate index value of 31.05 * 80.91 seems unbelievable. i calcuated this value for all the players in those period including specialist batsmen.Of these Greg chappel's and Clive lloyd's couldn't be found because of lack of str rate .Kapil came out as 2nd best behind Viv richards.for Viv it was 50.23*69.28=3479.Kapil's value is 72.2% as that of Viv.that means Kapil was 72.2% an impact player as Viv.Is it a small matter especially when considering that Kapil played in the 80s when run scoring was really difficult.Now take Imran.he played only 126 inns compared to Kapil's 184.(only 68.48 % as that of Kapil).even in such few no: Of inns he has 25 not outs(19.8 %) and very low str: rate.(credit should be given for not being dismissed though).Kapil's runs/inns is 28.52.for Imran it is 30.21.here too not much difference which shows how Imran's average is boosted hugely by no: of not outs.
Now let us go deeper.assume that 35 is a decent test score especially for middle order ,allrounders like Kapil and Imran.
no: of inns :58(31.52% of total inns played)
runs : 3737
avg: 64.43(excluding not outs)
str: rate :88.39(not exact as str: rate for 5 inns are not available).
no: of inns :36(28.57% of total inns played)
runs : 2482
avg: 68.95(excluding not outs)
str: rate :50.85(not exact as str: rate for a few inns are not available).
from the above data it is clear that once they crosses 35, there is only a difference of 4.52
in their avg: scores.but Kapil makes up for that with a difference of 2.95 in the percentage of such inns played(ie 58 out of 184).but the striking point is the impact he makes in these inns.i mean his str: rate pops up to 88.39(a difference of +7.52) against Imrans 50.85(a difference of +3.33)
and now let us consider 75 and above as huge scores for these allrounderss.
no: of inns :15(8.15 % of total inns played)
runs : 1578
avg: 105.2(excluding not outs)
str: rate :96.45(not exact as str: rate for a 1 inn is not available).
no: of inns :9(7.14 % of total inns played)
runs : 996
vg: 110.67(excluding not outs)
str: rate :54.75
from above data it is crystal clear about the impact Kapil makes when he plays huge inns.
his str: rate leaps from 80.91 to 96.45(a difference of 15.54) where as for Imran it is
only 7.23,and even then it is still mediocre at 54.75
If we go thoroughly thru the above 15 inns we can clearly see that a lot of these where
high pressure come from behind inns which played huge impact in the result of the match.
on the other hand only 1 or 2 of Imran's inns were of that impact(that too not dominant, only very defensive type inns).and 4 of these inns were against Ind and SL with very ordinary bowling line ups. Another characteristics of Imran's batting was his tendency to remain not out when every thing was in Pakistan's favour.But with Kapil we can see him often hitting out against all odds in the company of tailenders and even getting out last after doing considerable damage.
Taking all these factors longevity,impact, not out factor to some extend etc i would rate Kapil as a far better test bat than Imran.So at this stage Kapil is slightly ahead for me.
3. one day bowl
Kapil - avg: 27.45 econ: 3.71 str: rate : 44.2 index value:4501.31
Imran - avg: 26.61 econ: 3.89 str: rate : 40.9 index value:4233.68
from the above Kapil was 94.05%(4233.68/4501.31) a one day bowler that Imran was.but now longevity factor need to be brought in because Kapil played 225 matches against Imran's 175.also Kapil's index value after 179 matches stood at 4018.38 which indicates how important longevity factor is when we are comparing 2 players.So taking this into account i would say both were on a par with each other in this regard.
4. one day bat
Kapil : 23.79 (avg: ) * 95.07(str: rate) = 2261.72
Imran : 33.41 (avg: ) * 72.65(str: rate) = 2427.24
now longevity factor is to be taken into account.as in bowling this is important in batting too because at the end of 125 matches Kapil stood at 28.45*105.64.it feels really strange to feel that Kapil's both avg: and str: rate dropped quite alarmingly in the next 100 matches.but since Kapil played 50 more matches than Imran, both of them can be supposed to be on same level w.r.t 1 day batting.
5. Fielding : no competition here.Both in catching and ground fielding Kapil way ahead.
6.captaincy : here too no competition.both briliant captains but Imran stands on another level.
So Kapil stands slightly ahead for me.i am sure it may raise quite a few eye brows. but one thing is sure either way it can't be that much a difference as a lot of people think.