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After Impact Index’s report on India’s highest batsmen and bowlers, this last one is on highest impact players.

No, not all-rounders, players.

Since at Impact Index, we are able to measure the impact of a bowler and batsman on the same scale, and naturally all-rounders too then, this is an exercise to see who were the highest impact players in Indian Test history.

We examine India’s genuine all-rounders post that and then players who people assume to be all-rounders but really weren’t.

NOTE: We have taken 50 Tests as the minimum – a number roughly based on the correlation between series-defining performances in all of Test history and number of matches played by those players. Some of the high impact players who have played less than that, we mention separately.

HIGHEST IMPACT PLAYERS

Number Player Matches Career Impact SDs Batting Impact Bowling Impact Failure Rate (in %)
1 Anil Kumble 132 4.65 9 0.54 4.13 18
2 Kapil Dev 131 3.87 5 1.3 2.71 14
3 Harbhajan Singh 103 3.67 6 0.6 2.97 17
4 BS Bedi 67 3.09 1 0.23 2.85 22
5 Rahul Dravid 163 3.08 8 2.87 0 37
6 MS Dhoni 90 2.95 3 1.54 0 6
7 Sachin Tendulkar 200 2.87 6 2.63 0.16 37
8 BS Chandrasekhar 58 2.86 2 0.07 2.79 32
9 Zaheer Khan 92 2.69 2 0.27 2.42 21
10 Javagal Srinath 67 2.52 0 0.38 2.13 25

Minimum Test matches: 50
All Impact numbers between 0 and 5.
Impact numbers of only Tests with 2 completed innings included.
SDs- Series-defining performances .

Bowlers always have a higher impact than batsmen in Test cricket. That is the nature of the beast – the cliché about bowlers winning matches is truest in Test cricket. So, it is not surprising to see more bowlers than batsmen on the top ten list.

But in no other Impact list for any other country do we get as many as six specialists bowlers in the highest impact ten players. And India is supposed to be the land of batsmen!

Anil Kumble as overwhelmingly the highest impact Indian bowler, followed by Harbhajan Singh gets further accentuated, given that they are half-batsmen too (a Batting Impact of 1 means a player is doing the job of 1 batsman).

anilkumble
Anil Kumble: India’s biggest series-winner in Test cricket.

Kapil Dev is easily India’s highest impact all-rounder, his consistency of 14% making him India’s most reliable player, after MS Dhoni (for whom wicketkeeping gives a natural advantage). If he had paid a little more attention to his batting (as say, Imran Khan did later in his career) he would have been among the highest impact five all-rounders in Test history, which he is far from being.

MS_Dhoni
MS Dhoni: India’s most consistent player in Test cricket.

In the absence of a top-class batting all-rounder, India’s highest impact batsman comes in as the fifth highest impact Indian player. With Australia, he comes in first. With England, second. Pakistan, third. Sri Lanka, second. South Africa, third (batting all-rounder). West Indies, second (batting all-rounder). New Zealand, fourth (batting all-rounder).

This seems to suggest that India rely on bowlers more than any other country to win Tests for them.

But India has not been very lucky with all-rounders.

ALL-ROUNDERS IN INDIAN TEST HISTORY

Number Player Matches Career Impact SDs Batting Impact Bowling Impact Failure Rate (in %)
1 R Ashwin 34 6.13 4 1.24 4.73 6
2 Ravindra Jadeja 16 3.93 1 0.99 3.33 13
3 Kapil Dev 131 3.87 5 1.3 2.71 14
4 Amit Mishra 20 3.72 2 1.15 2.16 10
5 Salim Durani 29 3.7 2 1.63 1.48 24
6 Vinoo Mankad 44 3.36 1 0.99 2.49 16
7 Irfan Pathan 29 3.03 0 0.95 1.89 17
8 MS Dhoni* 90 2.95 3 1.54 0 6
9 Farokh Engineer* 46 2.75 1 1.97 0 20
10 Manoj Prabhakar 39 2.69 1 0.95 1.65 29
11 Dattu Phadkar 31 2.41 0 1.08 1.32 45
12 Ravi Shastri 80 2.25 0 1.11 1.2 29
13 Rusi Surti 26 2.2 0 1.46 0.98 31
14 Wriddhiman Saha* 15 2.19 0 1.46 0 8
15 S Abid Ali 29 2.03 0 0.93 1 31
16 Syed Kirmani* 88 1.75 0 0.9 0.01 27
17 Dinesh Karthik* 23 1.53 0 0.93 0 39

Minimum Test matches: 10
All Impact numbers between 0 and 5. Only under exceptional circumstances will a player’s Impact exceed 5.
Impact numbers of only Tests with 2 completed innings included.
* denotes wicketkeepers.

SDs- Series-defining performances .

The two outstanding ones are, of course Kapil Dev and Vinoo Mankad. Both emphatically bowling all-rounders, even though Mankad produced some astonishing performances with the bat too, as an opening batsman, no less.

Kapil_Dev
Kapil Dev: India’s highest impact pace bowling all-rounder in Test cricket.

The highest impact performance in Indian Test history is by Mankad; it wasn’t the only big impact performance by him.

It is interesting to see R Ashwin top the all-rounders impact chart, and it is not just because of his 4 SDs. That he is there twice on a list of ten highest impact all-round performances in Indian Test history (below) should make people see him as a potential genuine all-rounder more than the four hundreds they keep quoting as evidence of that. He should be consciously given that space to develop.

R_Ashwin
R Ashwin: Features twice on a list of ten highest impact all-round performances in Indian Test history.

While it can be said that Amit Mishra’s high impact is a freak case, those two series-defining performances (SDs) are interesting. Though the first is somewhat circumstantial, the other is actually a fine all-round performance against Sri Lanka in 2015.

Salim Durani was more famous for his propensity to provide a six whenever it was asked for by the crowd, but as often happens with the really good all-rounders of that nature, his more substantial sustainable contribution came with the ball.

Salim_Durani
Salim Durani: India’s highest impact player in the 1960s (min. of 20 Tests).

Ditto Ravindra Jadeja, though he is yet to display his batting prowess as consistently in Tests as he has in limited-overs cricket.

Irfan Pathan is one of the biggest losses in Indian cricket. Potentially, he was a great bowler who lost his place in the side because he lost his swing. It is a great pity that he hadn’t developed his batting enough to stay in the team long enough before he got his bowling groove back; he had the batting talent clearly.

Irfan_Pathan
Irfan Pathan: A potentially great all-rounder who lost his bowling and his way.

Farokh Engineer is the highest impact wicketkeeper batsman in India’s Test history, if we go below 50 Tests, though not much below in his case. MS Dhoni is only higher here because of his captaincy.

Farokh_Engineer
Farokh Engineer: Highest impact wicketkeeper batsman in India’s Test history, if we go below 50 Tests.

Manoj Prabhakar opened the batting and bowling for India – the only player to have seriously done that (Gavaskar’s bowling was just to get the shine off). Not surprisingly, he was more significant to the team as a bowler.

Dattu Phadkar is not remembered much today but he was one of the highest impact all-rounders in the world in the 1950s. Though not very consistent, he produced a bunch of high impact all-round performances against England, Australia, Pakistan and West Indies.

Rusi Surti was a rare batting all-rounder who played just 26 Tests in the 1960s but produced some high impact performances that are still remembered. His failure rate of 31% suggests he was reliable as well.

Vinoo_Mankad
Vinoo Mankad: Produced two amongst the ten highest impact all-round performances by an Indian.

Ravi Shastri too was consistent and reliable and produced a few high impact performances against the best sides, but not enough in proportion to the number of matches played – he had the potential perhaps to register an even bigger impact, as he did in ODIs.

S Abid Ali opened the bowling for India when the famous spinning-trio just waited for the shine to be taken off so he did not get as much credit as he would have later in India’s history. He could bat more than a bit too; limited overs cricket would have loved him.

Dinesh Karthik played a big role in India’s Test series win in 2007 in England (after 21 years) as an opening batsman. As wicketkeeper also at times, he was a big asset to the team.

PLAYERS NOT QUITE ALL-ROUNDERS

Number Player Matches Career Impact SDs Batting Impact Bowling Impact Failure Rate (in %)
1 Bhuvneshwar Kumar 14 2.58 0 0.71 2.07 38
2 Sanjay Bangar 12 2.4 1 1.14 0.36 42
3 Karsan Ghavri 39 2.37 0 0.65 1.71 21
4 Bapu Nadkarni 41 2.29 0 0.89 1.42 34
5 Sourav Ganguly 113 2.1 2 1.78 0.19 42
6 Mohinder Amarnath 69 2.04 0 1.52 0.37 38
7 Chandu Borde 55 2.01 0 1.48 0.52 40
8 Madan Lal 39 1.83 0 0.64 1.16 41
9 Roger Binny 27 1.72 0 0.7 1.05 33
10 Nayan Mongia* 44 1.63 0 0.85 0 28
11 GS Ramchand 33 1.62 0 0.82 0.71 42
12 Yuvraj Singh 40 1.61 1 1.25 0.19 55
13 Kiran More* 49 1.53 0 0.63 0 42

Minimum Test matches: 10
All Impact numbers between 0 and 5. 
Impact numbers of only Tests with 2 completed innings included.
* denotes wicketkeepers.

SDs- Series-defining performances .

To be an all-rounder, a player needs to cross 1 on the Impact scale on two parameters. Or 0.9 if we adjust it for circumstantial oddities and system adjustments.

The numbers of these above players give a glimpse into those who had seemed all-rounders (partly due to their limited-overs performances) but weren’t really in this format.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is still a work in progress. He has shown ability to hold up an end with his batting but whether it translates into him being a consistent performer with the bat in the future remains to be seen. After a less than stellar start to his career with the ball, Bhuvneshwar has settled in well but will more often than not see his position challenged in Indian conditions. If he does develop into a genuine seam-bowling all-rounder, he can fulfill the role of a player Indian cricket has been looking for quite some time.

Sanjay Bangar’s singular SD is a significant one in Indian cricket history, when in 2002 in treacherous English conditions Dravid and he laid the foundation for a famous Indian victory (see performance list below).

Mohinder Amarnath debuted as a pace bowler but eventually, after multiple comebacks, became the best batsman in the world (according to Gavaskar and Viv Richards) for a short while. His bowling never touched the heights of his batting in this format, despite being playing a significant part in India’s ODI World Cup victory in 1983.

Madan Lal and Roger Binny, India’s 1983 World Cup bowling heroes, did not touch great heights with their batting in the longer format.

Yuvraj Singh is a particularly interesting name in that context. He was India’s highest impact spinner in the 2011 World Cup but did not accomplish much as a Test spinner.

Wicketkeepers Nayan Mongia and Kiran More, despite a handful of useful innings (especially Mongia), did not do justice to their batting abilities overall.

HIGHEST IMPACT PLAYERS ON INDIVIDUAL PARAMETERS
(MIN. 50 TESTS)

Captaincy Impact – MS Dhoni
If we go below 50 Tests, then MAK Pataudi comes after Dhoni, followed by Sourav Ganguly.

Fielding Impact – Rahul Dravid, Md Azharuddin, VVS Laxman

Wicketkeeping Impact – SMH Kirmani, MS Dhoni
If we go below 50 Tests, then Kiran More just overtakes Dhoni.

Consistency  – MS Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh
If we go below 50 Tests, then Vinoo Mankad comes before Harbhajan Singh.

Series-Defining Impact  –  Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid

HIGHEST IMPACT ALL-ROUND PERFORMANCES
 (IN A MATCH CONTEXT)

These are the highest impact all-round performances in a match context, not innings, regardless of what happened eventually in the respective series.

1) R Ashwin37, 6-31 & 6-54 v New Zealand, Hyderabad, 2012.

2) Kapil Dev38 & 46, 1-29 & 5-70 v England, Bombay, 1981.

3) Sachin Tendulkar1-10 & 2-35, 0 & 136 v Pakistan, Chennai, 1999.

4) Kapil Dev4-90 & 7-56, 84 v Pakistan, Madras, 1980.

5) R Ashwin2-52 & 3-46, 124 v West Indies, Kolkata, 2013.

6) Polly Umrigar5-107 & 0-17, 56 & 172 not out v West Indies, Trinidad, 1962.

7)  Vinoo Mankad72 & 184, 5-196 & 0-35 v England, Lord’s, 1952.

8) Rusi Surti3-102 & 3-59, 52 & 64 v Australia, Brisbane, 1968.

9) Vinoo Mankad3-52 & 5-72, 41 & 35 not out v Pakistan, Bombay, 1952.

10) Kapil Dev 3-33 & 5-130, 56 & 5 v Australia, Adelaide, 1992.

Not surprisingly, there are three performances from Kapil Dev among the ten highest impact all-round performances in Indian Test history and two from Vinoo Mankad.

However, it is very interesting to see R Ashwin on this list twice. It suggests that he is developing into a genuine Test all-rounder, and should be given the space to grow in that regard.

It is curious to have Sachin Tendulkar and Polly Umrigar, high impact batsmen of their time, on this list with all-round performances. Tendulkar’s famous second-innings performance here was also the second-highest impact Test batting performance of his career.

Interesting that four of these on the list are away performances.

HIGHEST IMPACT ALL-ROUND PERFORMANCES
(IN A SERIES CONTEXT)

These are the highest impact all-round performances in a series context. That is, the performance came when the player’s team was either level or behind in the series, and the final series scoreline was decided by that match.

1) Kapil Dev38 & 46, 1-29 & 5-70 v England, Bombay, 1981.

2) Vinoo Mankad3-52 & 5-72, 41 & 35 not out v Pakistan, Bombay, 1952.

3) Kapil Dev4-38 & 3-46, 0 & 26 not out v West Indies, Madras, 1979.

4) Anil Kumble45 & 10, 1-32 & 6-78 v West Indies, Jamaica, 2006.

5) Harbhajan Singh70 & 5, 2-51 & 1-54 v West Indies, Jamaica, 2011.

6) Manoj Prabhakar 4 & 95, 3-43 & 3-49 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 1993.

7) Sanjay Bangar68, 0-9 & 2-54 v England, Leeds, 2002.

8) Yuvraj Singh1-33 & 1-12, 14 & 85 not out v England, Chennai, 2008.

In the 83 years of Indian Test cricket, there have been only eight instances of all-round performances that eventually decided the series scoreline.

Not surprisingly, Kapil Dev and Vinoo Mankad dominate the top of the list.

Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh symmetrically won India matches at the same venue five years apart (and curiously, back-to-back in West Indies, as it was the last Test of the series in 2006 and the opening Test in 2011). Their batting was actually more significant in these matches, given how low-scoring both matches were.

Curiously, four of the seven players on this list were not even Test all-rounders on an Impact scale – Kumble, Harbhajan, Bangar and Yuvraj.

It indicates the paucity of all-rounders in India’s Test history.

 

Impact Index Team

Illustrations- Vasim Maner

 

 

Note: This piece was updated in September 2016 prior to the start of the India-New Zealand Test series.