Who Is the Best All-Round Batsman in the World Right Now? July 2014

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

Who Is the Best All-Round Batsman in the World Right Now? July 2014

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    Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

    It’s that time again, where we try and deduce who the best batsman in the world right now is through the use of facts, figures and statistics.

    It isn’t an easy mission, as we analyse players’ performances across all three formats of the game of cricket, take their ICC ratings and form our conclusions based on them.

    There are pitfalls along the way, but hopefully by using raw data rather than subjective opinions, our findings can be relevant and at least somewhat useful.

    We last tried to work out the best batsman in the world in April, and since then a great deal has changed in world cricket.

    Some teams have played while others have remained idle; some players have impressed while others have not done so.

    Could we have another new name at No. 1, or will it be someone we’ve come across before?

    Let’s find out.

    All stats courtesy of ICC Player Rankings, correct as of 14 July 2014.

Methodology

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    Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

    The statistics we will be examining are the ICC Player Rankings, which is explained below by the world cricket governing body:

    The Reliance ICC Player Rankings are a sophisticated moving average. Players are rated on a scale of 0 to 1,000 points. If a player’s performance is improving on his past record, his points increase; if his performance is declining his points will go down.

    The value of each player’s performance within a match is calculated using an algorithm, a series of calculations (all pre-programmed) based on various circumstances in the match.

    All of the calculations are carried out using pre-programmed formulae, using the information published in a Test match scorecard. There is no human intervention in this calculation process, and no subjective assessment is made.

    The ICC Rankings take into account factors such as strike-rate, how many runs were scored in each match and who those runs were scored against.

    This means that a player’s ability with the bat in each form of the game can be boiled down to one number for Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20.

    For the purposes of our rankings, we will do something else with those final numbers to try and reflect the difficulty of the different forms of the game.

    Test cricket is generally regarded as the most difficult form of the game, so to try and reflect that, every player’s Test rating will be doubled to give it more weight against the others.

    Further to this, a player’s ODI rating will be multiplied by 1.5, reflecting the specific difficulties that come with playing the 50-over format.

    Finally, a player’s Twenty20 rating will not be adjusted at all, as this form of the game is perhaps not as mentally taxing for batsmen as the other two.

    With all that said, however, there are still limitations to this manipulation of the statistics, as no system will ever be completely perfect.

Limitations

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    Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press

    Those of you familiar with these type of articles know about their one fatal flaw—the lack of reward for batsmen who are clearly very good but do not play all three formats of the game.

    Perhaps the player to suffer most because of this is West Indian left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who continues to dominate Tests but does not play any other format.

    Ranked as the No. 5 batsman in the game’s longest—and most difficult—form, Chanderpaul can only reach No. 37 on our list due to his not having a one-day international or Twenty20 international ranking.

    It seems a great shame to have such an undoubted talent way down the list, as he is clearly a top player even at the age of 39.

    Alas, due to his last ODI appearance coming in 2011 and his last T20 game in 2010, it isn’t to be.

Previous Findings

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    A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    April was the last time we looked at the ICC rankings and tried to work out who the best batsman in the world was at that time, with some interesting results.

    There were very few surprises in our top three, as Kumar Sangakkara came in at No. 3 just behind South Africa’s AB de Villiers at No. 2.

    Standing tall was Virat Kohli of India at No. 1, rewarded for his consistency across all three formats of the game and being ranked in the top 10 in each form.

    He was our third different leader, with Sangakkara and De Villiers all having a turn at No. 1.

    Who will it be this time?

Notable Omissions

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    Before we get to the main bulk of our list, some players have unfortunately missed out on the top 20.

    We already touched on Chanderpaul, but he is not alone in being way down.

    Cheteshwar Pujara is ranked at No. 8 in Tests but could not reach higher than No. 36 as his limited-overs rankings are very poor.

    Steven Smith of Australia also suffers from a lack of exposure in limited-overs cricket with a No. 32 ranking, as does Younis Khan at No. 41.

    The biggest drop comes from Mahela Jayawardene, who was at No. 8 in April but has crashed down to No. 26 with his retirement imminent.

    Meanwhile, England captain Alastair Cook’s poor run continues as he takes his place at No. 28, just one spot above the exiled Kevin Pietersen at No. 29.

Players Ranked 20-11

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images
    NameTest Rating (x2)ODI Rating (x1.5)Twenty20 RatingAverage RatingOverall Rank
    Shane Watson11721014621935.6611
    Faf du Plessis 1272778.5714921.512
    Brendan Taylor1212925.5584907.16613
    Misbah-ul-Haq16481072.50906.83314
    Shakib Al Hasan 118891259789915
    Chris Gayle1210802.5644885.516
    Rohit Sharma 114492757888317
    JP Duminy 1034904.5698878.83318
    Michael Clarke16369900875.3319
    Marlon Samuels 1098778.5588821.520

    Those of you with long memories will note that there has barely been any change in players ranked between No. 20 and No. 11 from when we last did this, with some exception.

    New Zealander Kane Williamson moves upwards out of this section, while Marlon Samuels manages to sneak in at No. 20.

    This movement is something of a surprise, given that Samuels and West Indies have not played all that much recently, and when Samuels last played a Test he scored a pair.

    Some may question Samuels’ inclusion in this section of the list, but sometimes statistics throw up oddities such as these.

    Meanwhile, there are no other changes in this part, with Shane Watson still sitting pretty at No. 11 and pushing hard to break the top 10.

Players Ranked 10-4

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images
    NameTest Rating (x2)ODI Rating (x1.5)Twenty20 RatingAverage RatingOverall Rank
    David Warner1742844.56811089.1674
    Ross Taylor15901069.54971052.1675
    Kumar Sangakkara 17921234.501008.8336
    Brendon McCullum 1302922.57821002.1677
    Kane Williamson14561032459982.338
    Angelo Mathews1522928.5485978.59
    Mahendra Singh Dhoni 12141156.5507959.16610

    Into the next section we go, and there are few surprises once again as the majority of players keep their positions.

    Angelo Mathews and Mahendra Singh Dhoni swap places from last time, while above them comes the aforementioned Williamson after a superb run of form.

    Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and David Warner also stay strong, while a former No. 1 Kumar Sangakkara comes crashing down to No. 6.

    This is the first time the Sri Lankan will not be in our top three, a development that perhaps represents a change in international cricket as his retirement possibly approaches.

    In light of a good Test series in England, this is one of the biggest shocks of all in this list.

The Top 3

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    Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press
    NameTest Rating (x2)ODI Rating (x1.5)Twenty20 RatingAverage RatingOverall Rank
    AB de Villiers 18441327.54981223.1671
    Hashim Amla 174613026111219.6672
    Virat Kohli 1466130288912193

    We march onwards into the top three, and there is immediately a surprise as Virat Kohli drops down from the top spot to No. 3.

    With India in action in England, he will likely come again, but two low scores at Trent Bridge look to have hamstrung him this time around.

    Above him comes a returning name at No. 2 who vaults upwards from No. 4 last time—Hashim Amla.

    Amla has always been in the upper echelons of this list, but this is the first time that he has made the top three.

    A rich vein of recent form has been rewarded heavily.

    Above him comes fellow South African AB de Villiers, another player enjoying a strong period with the bat.

    The responsibilities of ODI captaincy did not seem to weigh too heavily on his shoulders recently against Sri Lanka, and he returns to the top for the first time since January of this year.

Conclusions

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    Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

    For their consistency in recent times, both De Villiers and Amla deserve to be near the top of this particular list.

    They are definitely among the best batsmen in the world across all three formats, while Kohli needs to pick up his form again if he is to return to No. 1.

    Below them, Kane Williamson’s delightful form in the Test series against West Indies has been rewarded.

    Sri Lankans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene continue to drop, showing perhaps that their powers are on the wane and that retirement may come sooner rather than later.

    Batsmen go through peaks and troughs and this list rewards those who are able to maintain consistency regardless of the form of cricket they are playing.