The recent ascent of Sri Lankan Master batsman Kumar Sangakkara to the elite 10000 run club in Test Cricket has led us cricketing scribes to feel the need to try to 'split hairs' once more. As seen in the ultimate act of futility in Sport in trying to compare and rank undoubted legends rather than just accept their status and acknowledge it with silent awe.
A pursuit found more farcical with most being made across the history of the game without fully appreciating the difference of the playing conditions in the eras of the game and their effect on individuals. The credibility found in this comparison is the fact that it is an analysis of players playing in the same eras meaning you can judge them accurately through dissecting their figures. Of the 11, only Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar are not from the same era, but they still had careers that overlapped into the other era.
So lets start the arduous task of ranking the icons by dissecting their figures
1. Sachin Tendulkar – 194. 15645 @ 54.32. H/A - 88/106 - 6940/8905 - 53.79/54.74 – (-0.95)
2. Ricky Ponting – 168. 13378 @ 51.85. H/A - 92/76 - 7578/5800 – 56.97/46.4 – (10.57)
3. Rahul Dravid – 164. 13288 @ 52.31. H/A – 70/94 - 5598/7690 – 51.35/53.03 – (-1.68)
4. Jacques Kallis – 158. 12980 @ 56.92. H/A – 82/76 – 6738/6242 – 58.59/55.24 – (3.35)
5. Brian Lara – 131. 11953 @ 52.88. H/A – 65/66 – 6217/5736 – 58.65/47.80 – (10.85)
6. Allan Border - 156. 11174 @ 50.56. H/A – 86/70 – 5743/5431 – 45.94/56.57 – (-10.63)
7. Steve.Waugh – 168. 10927 @ 51.06. H/A – 89/79 – 5710/5217 – 47.58/55.50 – (-7.92)
8. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 146. 10696 @ 51.67. H/A – 71/75 – 5496/5200 – 58.46/46.01 – (12.45)
9. Mahela Jayawardene - 138. 10674 @ 49.56. H/A – 77/61 – 6846/3960 – 61.12/37.36 – (23.76)
10. Sunil Gavaskar – 125. 10122 @ 51.12. H/A – 65/60 – 5067/5055 – 50.16/52.11 – (-1.95)
11. Kumar Sangakkara – 115. 10018 @ 55.80. H/A – 65/50 – 5697/4321 – 61.25/49.97 – (11.28)
Read as, Matches, Runs, Avg, Home Matches/Away Matches, Home Runs/Away Runs, Home Avg/Away Avg, Home - Away Diff.
In truth these figures only serve to underline the evenness in the 11 players greatness with all the key measurements that define 'mastery' in batting being exemplified by all. A key figure is the completeness of all in their performances at home and away with only Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene struggling in this regard with a 23.76 run differential between his home and away record. An away average of only 37.36 is scant return for this great Sri Lankan batsmans sincere talent.
At this point I am forced to look further into their figures by looking at their century strike rate and performances in the 4th innings when conditions are at their toughest from a pitch point of view. Culminated by games being at crunch time with runs scored having the highest respect attached to them due to them being attached to the winning or saving of games.
Century Strike Rates
Sachin Tendulkar- A century every 6.27 innings
Jacques Kallis- A century every 6.13 innings
Ricky Ponting- A century every 7 innings
Rahul Dravid- A century every 7.94 innings
Sunil Gavaskar- A century every 6.29 innings
Brian Lara- A century every 6.82 innings
Steve Waugh- A century every 8.12 innings
Mahela Jayawardene- A century every 7.48 innings
Kumar Sangakkara- A century every 6.53 innings
Shiv Chanderpaul- A century every 9.22 innings
Allan Border- A century every 9.87 innings
As an aside to these figures, Sir Don Bradman's strike rate was a century every 2.75 innings....
Putting that outrageously miraculous figure aside, this analysis certainly highlights Kallis's pedigree with him outshining the rest. This made even more meritorious by the fact that we have always made comparisons using Kallis's status as an all rounder to understand his context in greatness in the game. While in the process we overlook his batting figures that are comparable to any one. Then it makes you think how much better his figures would have been if he did not have to bowl?
On that point just look at the difference in kumar Sangakkara's averages after he gave up his dual role of wicket keeping with him averaging 67.86 when playing solely as a batsman.
What would Kallis's figures with the bat be like if he did not have to bowl?
Away from Kallis, one needs to remark on the gluttony of Brian Lara and Kumar Sangakkara in the look at centuries with the two having 9 and 8 scores of over 200 respectively. So they not only score centuries at a very impressive strike rate, but score BIG when they do having a profound effect on the teams chances of winning
4th Innings Averages:
Kumar Sangakkara- 47.98
Sachin Tendulkar: 37.85
Jacques Kallis: 41.99
Ricky Ponting: 61.37
Rahul Dravid: 39.39
Sunil Gavaskar: 58.25
Brian Lara: 52.15
Steve Waugh: 42.68
Mahela Jayawardene: 43.39
Shiv Chanderpaul: 47.36
Allan Border: 34.40
These figures highlight the dexterity of batsmen to both set up wins and save matches with Ricky Ponting and Sunil Gavaskar standing out. Ponting the master of driving home his Team advantage through him going for the jugular for wins whereas Gavaskar commandeered many wins for India from the top of the innings through his technical perfection. As well as being India's saviour on more than one occasion.
My Choice- Sunil Gavaskar ( 2nd Jacques Kallis )
The dissection of the figures diminished some while highlighting others
Sunil Gavaskar was the stand out for I from a figures sense with him gaining greater acclaim due to the fact that he was the only opener of the group meaning he always faced the new ball. In an age in the early parts of his career where there were no helmuts available coupled with no limits on bouncers and games played on often dodgy pitches. As well as facing iconic bowlers like these Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Colin Croft, Ian Botham, Bob Willis,John Snow, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram.
His achievements were truly astounding
Giving him great credence is the fact that his career was characterised by the fearsome might and fury of the great West Indies fast bowlers destroying most if not all batsmen.
Gavaskar not only survived against them, but ruled over them with 13 centuries at an average of 65.45......
His sublime technique allowed this with all lauding how perfect he was from a defensive standpoint. Which is a lovely irony of Sunny with most viewing him as solely the archetypal stone walling traditional opening batsman, but it belied his offensive genius. A genius rarely seen for he always had India's interest first in his mind and that meant in a Team that was for most of his career batting weak he had to stand firm
Ill leave the last tribute on this icon to an Indian
Sunny signalled the real rise of Indian cricket in the arena of international cricket after a few false dawns earlier by some flashes of genius. He brought the Western method and consistency to the Indian brittle brilliance. And then as they the rest was history. ( SN )