In the analytical article, written by cricket statistician Anantha Narayanan, the statistics of the players who have scored over 1,500 runs and taken 50-plus wickets, or scored over 1,000 runs and taken 75 or more wickets are considered as data
According to statistical device and data, Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib al Hasan is a greater all-rounder than the legends of the game like Sir Garfield Sobers, Imran Khan, Sir Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Sir Richard Hadlee and Jacques Kallis.
ESPNcricinfo in a special feature story claimed the fact with the aid of numbers.
In the analytical article, written by cricket statistician Anantha Narayanan, the statistics of the players who have scored over 1,500 runs and taken 50-plus wickets, or scored over 1,000 runs and taken 75 or more wickets are considered as data.
After considering factors like Weighted Bowling Average (WBA - 1,200/bowling average) and Weighted Batting Average (WBA), he considered a total of 51 qualified players.
To rank these all-rounders, he has considered the performance and also recognized the all-round impact of the players.
To recognize the impactful performances, Anantha has worked out the following formula:
All-rounder Index =
Batting Index (25 points) +
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Bowling Index (25 points) +
All-round Contribution per Test Index (20 points) +
All-round Impact Index (20 points) +
All-round High Impact Index (10 points) +
According to the article, the objective was to have the Bowling Index and Batting Index within 10% of each other.
The average Batting Index value for the 51 qualifying players is 13.85.
The average Bowling Index is 16.0.
The total batting component average is 24.4 and the bowling component average is 28.2. (The batting component includes the Batting Index, the Runs per Test (RpT) part of the CpT Index, and 50% of the Impact Indices. The bowling component includes the Bowling Index, the WpT part of the CpT Index, and 50% of the Impact Indices).
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The article showed an elaborated graph where the batting and bowling totals are graphically highlighted to let the reader get a clear idea as to whether the player is batting-centric (Sobers, Kallis, Bob Simpson) or bowling-centric (Imran, R Ashwin, Hadlee) or balanced (Shakib, Tony Greig, Ben Stokes).
And surprisingly, Shakib is at the top.
In both disciplines, in almost equal measure.
Despite the fact that he has played only 57 Tests, his run tally and wickets tally are excellent.
A very good WBA of 37.1, a competitive bowling average of 31.2 and an outstanding CpT value of 161 form a strong foundation.
However, another impressive data about Shakib is the very high AR Impact % (over 40% of Tests) and a superlative 15.8% of High-Impact performances - that means that he scored over 100 runs and took four wickets once every six Tests.
The article also shows Sobers has excellent batting numbers, acceptable bowling numbers, and very good impact numbers.
His WBA of 57.5 is the highest among these 51 players and his bowling average is a passable - 34.0.
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His AR Impact percent is 36.6 and he has produced a High-Impact performance once every six Tests.
Sobers is a truly great all-rounder and fully deserves his high placing.
Aubrey Faulkner of South Africa, who played mainly before the First World War, comes in third place.
Let us examine his credentials closely.
A WBA of 38.7, bowling average of 26.6, and a substantial CpT of 151 are, overall, better than Shakib's numbers.
It is only in the Impact figures that Faulkner lags marginally.
The net impact is a well-deserved third place.
Anantha then discussed about the individual player graphs in the article with relevant statistics.
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Here, the career-best performance is based on a normalization of wickets taken to runs scored, with each wicket being equated to 25 runs.
And in this category, Shakib's excellent career progression is also depicted in the graph.
And about the impact performances, in the past 15 Tests, Shakib has delivered impact performances in 10 Tests.
His ban for not reporting bookie approaches derailed his career somewhat, but he still ought to have at least five fruitful years ahead of him.
He can thus consolidate further his position as the greatest ever all-rounder.
The article shows, Sobers is in second spot.
Sobers' first career segment was poor on the bowling front.
He averaged just above one wicket per Test.
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But the 365 ensured that his batting numbers were good.
The second segment was quite different.
An average of over four wickets and nearly 100 runs per Test is the hallmark of a great all-rounder.
He dropped a little on both fronts in the third segment, although his career-best performance (247 runs and six wickets) came in this phase.
In more than a third of the Tests Sobers played, he made an impact as an all-rounder, and over 10% were high-impact performances.
In summary, a truly great batsman and a good bowler, metamorphosing into a very good all-rounder, said Anantha in the article.
Faulkner, third in this list, was a leg-spinning all-rounder who had a magnificent career on both batting and bowling fronts.
All his Tests bar one were played before the First World War.
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He fought for the Allies in the war and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
In the first career segment, Faulkner was primarily a bowling all-rounder, averaging over four wickets per Test.
In the second, his batting took off and he averaged well over 100 runs per Test while still taking four wickets per Test.
This segment is among the best of all all-rounders in history.
His batting fell off as he came towards the end of his career.
He made an impact in nearly a third of his Tests - almost all in the golden middle segment.
He is one of three all-rounders who have delivered career-best performances of 400-plus runs: in 1910, he took 8 for 160 and scored 201 against England.
In the conclusion part of the article, Anantha stated, “I will say with conviction that the parameters for this analysis have worked very well. The top three all-rounders - Shakib, Sobers and Faulkner - stand over 10% clear of Keith Miller. They surely deserve their places. And let us not hesitate to give Shakib the respect he deserves, especially considering he plays for a relatively weak team.”