Who’s the best all rounder in World Cup Cricket history?

September 14, 2010

(This article was first published on Enterprise Software Doesn't Have to Suck, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

We love cricket all rounders (players who can both bat and bowl). These players are great assets for their teams and captains love 'em. So, who are the best all rounders in World Cup Cricket history?

Kapil, Steve Waugh and Jayasuriya have all performed really well but Imran Khan takes the lead based with high wickets/game. He has one of the highest wickets/game (1.8 wickets/game) and a great batting average (28 runs/game) - only 3 runs short of Jayasuriya and Steve Waugh's runs/game.

Imran was a great competitor and a fearless leader.

Bubble size indicates the all rounder index --> (Total runs scored in World Cup games/Max. total runs scored by all rounders in World Cup games) + (Total wickets  in World Cup games/Max. total wickets by all rounders in World Cup games). The all rounder index is a simple calculation and has some limitations:
  • It favors players who've played more games
  • It doesn't take into account bowling economy and batting scoring rate
Here's the R code for the plot.

      The data for this analysis is in following form.

        Update (Sep 16, 2010) >> Bernard recently commented  that Lance Klusener seems like the best all rounder from the above plot. Lance was of course a great player and we all loved watching him bowl fast deliveries and also hit bowlers all around the park as an aggressive batsman.

        Table 1 has the all rounder data based on which I picked Imran Khan as the best. Here's a quick comparison between Klusener and Imran.

        1) Lance Klusener was really a bowler who could bat, whereas Imran was a thorough all rounder. Table 2 clearly demonstrates it.
        - Although Imran played ~ twice the number of matches compared to Klusener, Imran faced 3.6 times more balls than Lance while batting
        - Klusener's contribution to his team's victory was more from his bowling than his batting i.e. his side depended on him more for his bowling than his batting (see the contrast in Imran's and Klusener's "% wins when scored 50+" column in Table 2. Imran's high scores resulted in his side's victory 80% of times, whereas Klusener's high scores resulted in his team's victory only 33% of times)

        2) Imran Khan took 1.5 times more wickets than Lance and scored 2 times as many runs (back in the days with no fielding restrictions), and captained his side to World Cup championship.

        In my mind, Imran is the best all rounder although I would have loved my childhood hero, Kapil Dev, to be #1 but the data suggests otherwise.

        Table 1: World Cup Cricket all rounder data

        CountryPlayerRuns/GameWickets/GameTotal Runs ScoredTotal.Wickets
        1AustraliaTM Moody21.930.9332914
        2AustraliaSR Waugh31.791.0492227
        3IndiaN Kapil Dev29.091.1266928
        4IndiaM Amarnath21.171.3325416
        5IndiaYuvraj Singh28.9213765
        6New ZealandCZ Harris21.551.1943131
        7New ZealandSB Styris47.940.8176713
        8PakistanImran Khan27.751.7966634
        9PakistanAbdul Razzaq20.691.0826914
        10South AfricaL Klusener37.78234022
        11Sri LankaST Jayasuriya31.920.83114925
        12ZimbabweKM Curran26.090.92879

        Table 2: Comparison between Lance Klusener and Imran Khan's performance in World Cup Cricket

        PlayerODI playedTotal Runs ScoredTotal Balls FacedCenturiesFiftiesRuns/
        % wins when
        scored 50+
        Imran Khan2866610141427.7580
        L Klusener123402830337.7833

        PlayerODI playedTotal WicketsTotal Overs Bowled% wins when
        took 3+ wickets
        Imran Khan2834168.9603.881.790.95
        L Klusener122287.51004.6420.55

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