Saturday, August 13, 2005

The best of those four supermen

The 70's and 80's saw a wonderful quartet of all-rounders emerging from four countries: Ian Botham of England, Imran Khan of Pakistan, Richard Hadlee of New Zealand and Kapil Dev of India. Endless comparisons have been made to rate these four and and it won't surprise anyone if all 24 permutations possible are found to have been circulated in the intervening two decades. However many contemporary players of the time have shown a tendency to cast their votes in favour of 'Beefy' Botham as the best of the four. The biggest supporter of Botham's cause is his friend and rival Viv Richards.

The stats, however show a different picture. Recently Mr. John Stern of cricinfo has published a relevant set of stats in his regular olumn for cricinfo. An inspection of the stats reveals that not only was Imran Khan significantly better than Botham in terms of Test career bowling and batting averages, the Pakistani was also was an outstanding performer (more with the ball and slightly less with the bat) against the best Test team of their times - the West Indies. This is something that may set Botham behind Imran Khan in the greatness stakes, as Botham was a lesser player both with bat and ball against the Windies.

And we are not yet talking of the poles-apart contributions of the two all-rounders to their respective teams as captains - or a World cup win. The one thing that sets Botham apart from Imran and all other all-rounders of his time is his tally of centuries. He scored 14 in all. Here Imran pales in comparison; his meagre 6 centuries in 88 Tests betray his inability to convert big fifties into tons. Some stats are given below:

Batting comparison of the 4 all-rounders

Batsman Overall, v WI
Ian Botham 5200 runs @ 33.54, 792 runs @ 21.40
Kapil Dev 5248 runs @ 31.05, 1079 runs @ 30.82
Richard Hadlee 3124 runs @ 27.16, 389 runs @ 32.41
Imran Khan 3807 runs @ 37.69, 775 runs @ 27.67

Bowling comparison of the 4 all-rounders

Bowler Overall, v WI

Ian Botham 383 wkts @ 28.40, 61 wkts @ 35.18
Kapil Dev 434 wkts @ 29.64, 89 wkts @ 24.89
Richard Hadlee 431 wkts @ 22.29, 51 wkts @ 22.03
Imran Khan 362 wkts @ 22.81, 80 wkts @ 21.18

Test Career stats of Botham & Imran

Mat Runs HS BatAv 100 50 W BB BowlAv 5w Ct
Botham 102 5200 208 33.54 14 22 383 8/34 28.40 27 120
Imran 88 3807 136 37.69 6 18 362 /58 22.81 23 28

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