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

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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

        Country Player Runs/Game Wickets/Game Total Runs Scored Total.Wickets
        1 Australia TM Moody 21.93 0.93 329 14
        2 Australia SR Waugh 31.79 1.04 922 27
        3 India N Kapil Dev 29.09 1.12 669 28
        4 India M Amarnath 21.17 1.33 254 16
        5 India Yuvraj Singh 28.92 1 376 5
        6 New Zealand CZ Harris 21.55 1.19 431 31
        7 New Zealand SB Styris 47.94 0.81 767 13
        8 Pakistan Imran Khan 27.75 1.79 666 34
        9 Pakistan Abdul Razzaq 20.69 1.08 269 14
        10 South Africa L Klusener 37.78 2 340 22
        11 Sri Lanka ST Jayasuriya 31.92 0.83 1149 25
        12 Zimbabwe KM Curran 26.09 0.9 287 9

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

        Player ODI played Total Runs Scored Total Balls Faced Centuries Fifties Runs/
        % wins when
        scored 50+
        Imran Khan 28 666 1014 1 4 27.75 80
        L Klusener 12 340 283 0 3 37.78 33

        Player ODI played Total Wickets Total Overs Bowled % wins when
        took 3+ wickets
        Economy Wickets/
        Imran Khan 28 34 168.9 60 3.88 1.79 0.95
        L Klusener 12 22 87.5 100 4.64 2 0.55

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