The next instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media. 

This week we compare two of the greatest all-rounders to have played the game.


Ian Botham vs Richard Hadlee

 A comparison of all-rounders in Test cricket



Ian Botham

Richard Hadlee

Maximum or

Highest (100%)

Number of Tests 102 86 Jacques Kallis (166)
Runs Scored 5,200 3,124 Jacques Kallis (13,289)
Batting Average 33.54 27.16 Garry Sobers (57.78)
Wickets Taken 383 431 Kapil Dev (434)
Bowling Average 28.40 22.29 Richard Hadlee (22.29)
Overall Impact 91 97 Imran Khan
Batting Impact 71 41 Garry Sobers
Runs Tally Impact 66 43 Garry Sobers
Pressure Impact 89 36 Tony Greig
Bowling Impact 67 100 Richard Hadlee
Top-Middle Order Wicket Impact 76 100 Richard Hadlee
Economy Impact 21 50 Shaun Pollock
Impact in Wins (min. 20 Tests) 82 100 Richard Hadlee
Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests) 59 63 R Ashwin
Impact Away (min. 15 Tests) 68 79 Richie Benaud
Impact in Aus/SA (min. 10 Tests) 42 57 Alan Davidson
Impact in Eng/NZ (min. 10 Tests) 73 74 Wasim Akram
Impact in Subcontinent (min. 15 Tests) 40 45 R Ashwin
Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests) 13% 13% Shaun Pollock (10%)
Number of Series-Defining performances 6 (once every 17 Tests) 7 (once every 12 Tests) Wasim Akram and Jacques Kallis (8)
Number of high impact performances 34 (once every 3 Tests) 30 (once every 3 Tests) Jacques Kallis (56)
Most dominant period in career February 1978 – August 1982 July 1983 – March 1987 n/a
Number of years as highest impact player 4 (1978, 1979, 1981, 1985) 2 (1980, 1984) Ian Botham – 4

(1978, 1979, 1981, 1985)

Highest impact player in a match 15 14 Jacques Kallis

(40 in 166 Tests)

Highest impact player in a series 11 (in 23 Test series) 10 (in 28 Test series) Jacques Kallis

(17 in 59 Test series)

1) All parameters from ‘Overall Impact’ till ‘Impact in Eng/NZ’ are expressed on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the maximum for any player in Test history in that parameter. A player’s impact in a particular parameter is then expressed as a percentage of it.
Example: Imran Khan has the highest Overall Impact among all-rounders in Test cricket history. So he denotes 100 for that parameter. Ian Botham’s and Richard Hadlee’s Overall Impact are then expressed as a percentage of Imran’s Economy Impact .
2) From ‘Batting Average’ till ‘ Economy Impact ’, a minimum of 50 matches is considered as qualification. For all other parameters, the qualification is mentioned alongside.
3) Only all-rounders have been considered for this comparison.



Both, Richard Hadlee (seventh) and Ian Botham (tenth), are amongst the ten highest impact players in Test cricket history (min. 50 Tests). Among all-rounders, only Imran Khan, Richie Benaud and Garry Sobers (the highest impact batting all-rounder) have had a higher impact than Hadlee and Botham.

Overall, Hadlee had a 6% higher impact than Botham. Botham, albeit a bowling all-rounder, was the higher impact batsman of the two. Hadlee’s Bowling Impact is the highest among all-rounders in Test cricket history.

Hadlee was a prolific wicket-taker and was more restrictive too. Botham, being the better batsman, scored tough runs (under pressure) lower down the order.

While Botham had the likes of Derek Underwood, Graham Gooch, Geoffrey Boycott and Bob Willis amongst others for support – and in turn shared impact with them – Hadlee was the only world-class player for New Zealand for most of his career (though he had decent support from Glenn Turner and Lance Cairns during the initial part of his career, and from Martin Crowe later, he was far ahead of them when it came to dictating the result of a match).

It is interesting to compare their respective career graphs. Hadlee changed New Zealand’s Test cricket history and transformed them into a serious Test power in the 1980s. He ended his career at the peak of his powers and was the third-highest impact player in the world (min. 20 Tests) from 1986-1990, behind Imran Khan and Malcolm Marshall.

Botham, on the other hand, had a phenomenal start to his Test career. In 1982 – five years after his debut – he was the second-highest impact player in the history of Test cricket (min 40 tests) after Alan Davidson. His career tapered off towards the end.



Not only are Botham and Hadlee the highest impact players of their respective countries, they are also the biggest series-winners. Hadlee was the lone ranger for New Zealand throughout the 1970s and led their transformation while Botham, despite the initial heroics, had other greats for support. As such, Hadlee was more crucial to New Zealand than Botham was to England and this gave him a higher impact.


Nikhil Narain

Illustrations: Vasim Maner