Sunday, November 10, 2013

Best Bowler by Career ICC Ratings

In this post, we use the ICC Player Ratings to attempt to rate the best bowlers in Test cricket. This post attempts to decide the best bowler of all time by calculating the average (arithmetic mean) rating of a player over his entire career.

The ICC ratings glean all their information from a standard scorecard and hence are entirely objective. The ICC ratings take into account the match conditions and quality of opponents and hence are a better measure than raw career statistics. Because the ratings takes the quality of the opposition into account, individuals who make merry against weaker opposition do not get their ratings unduly inflated. Conversely, players who perform well against stronger opposition are rewarded.

Result Summary:
  • George Lohmann, who holds the lowest lifetime Test bowling average among bowlers with more than fifteen wickets and the record for the lowest strike rate in all Test history, is the best bowler. He played only 9 matches though.
  • Glenn McGrath, at number 5, is the first bowler with over 20 matches and is also the first player from the modern era.
  • Curtly Ambrose, Shaun Pollock, and Alan Donald follow at 6, 7, and 8.
  • Muttiah Muralidaran, Test crickets highest wicket-taker, comes in at number 9.
  • McGrath and Muralidaran have 28 matches with 900+ points, the most for any of the players.
  • Unlike the best batsman list, there are a plethora of modern era players in the top 10 and top 20 of the best bowlers list.

Data table:

PlayerMatchesRating Average900s800s700s
G.A. Lohmann9828.78332
J. Briggs17816.410115
R. Peel11799.27065
C.T.B. Turner11795.18065
G.D. McGrath124790.8628753
C.E.L. Ambrose98777.246686
S.M. Pollock108775.27185118
A.A. Donald72771.104413
M. Muralidaran133770.1285420
J. Garner58768.7403612
D.W. Steyn67758.647433
W.W. Hall48747.8301917
M.D. Marshall81740.910486
R.R. Lindwall61739.9703314
V.D. Philander18739.61184
D.K. Lillee70737.1903019
W.A. Johnston40736.4811910
F.S. Trueman67734.4502528
R.J. Hadlee86730.8618339
M.W. Tate39726.8701318
S.K. Warne145726.7915943
W. Barnes2718002
S.F. Barnes27715.15673
A. Kumble132714.201388
W.J. O'Reilly27711.961143
C.V. Grimmett37711.2711211
L.R. Gibbs79710.2203015
Imran Khan88710.153127
S.R. Clark24709.790115
Waqar Younis87709.371628
G.P. Swann57701.280833
C.E.H. Croft27700.370611
C.A. Walsh132697.7902360
A.V. Bedser51696.1241011
Wasim Akram104694.3201653
I.T. Botham102686.8362915
A.M.E. Roberts47684.810622
D.L. Underwood86679.2411633
K.R. Miller55677.9102013
G.D. McKenzie60677.7301130
I.R. Bishop43676.720522
P.M. Pollock28675.640810
M.A. Holding60673.8202421
R.G.D. Willis90661.0301246
Kapil Dev131660.601544
H.J. Tayfield37659.8401015
M. Ntini101658.3601945
Fazal Mahmood34658.260146
J.N. Gillespie71655.850336
M.H.N. Walker34655.590118
H. Verity40652.9801413
J.J. Ferris3651.33010
H.H. Streak65645.940031
J.A. Snow49645.370723
A.L. Valentine36642.080015
M.G. Johnson51640.180621
G.F. Lawson46636.370818
J.C. Laker46633.740191
M.A. Noble42633.670112
C.J. McDermott71632.790024
T. Richardson14632.79017
B.S. Bedi67631.70231
W.P.U.J.C. Vaas111631.340119
M.J. Hoggard67628.930030
R.M. Hogg38627.680011
J.R. Thomson51625.330217
A.K. Davidson44622.847127
D.R. Doshi33621.820013
J.B. Statham70620.290238
S. Ramadhin43619.630013
K. Higgs15618.13025
Harbhajan Singh101617.940025
J.M. Anderson87617.170535
N.A.T. Adcock26616.31066
S.J. Harmison63615.5101016
P.M. Siddle46614.330512
D. Gough58614.050017
Mohammad Asif23614039
C.C. Griffith28612.820013
A.R.C. Fraser46610.04007
B. Lee76609.280114
R. Benaud63608.9502016
G.A.R. Lock49607.53375
Saqlain Mushtaq49598.510022
B.S. Chandrasekhar58597.29006
G. Ulyett1597000
J.M. Gregory24593.83005
M. Morkel51590.690027
Danish Kaneria61590.52004
M.G. Hughes53588.750025
Saeed Ajmal30586.530112
G. Giffen14585.29003
S.C.G. MacGill44584.05004
S.P. Gupte36583.080110
W.J. Whitty14582013
T.M. Alderman41576.49007
A.A. Mailey21575.52000
F.H. Tyson17575.35005
G.G. Arnold34569.74008
H. Ironmonger14568.21051
D.G. Cork37565.92000
T.L. Goddard41565.22008
A.R. Caddick625650014
F.R. Foster11562.64000
F.J. Titmus53562.260019
D.L. Vettori112560.32000
Zaheer Khan88557.640013
Shoaib Akhtar46556.850812
A.A. Mallett38554.39004
S.C.J. Broad62553.390016
E.A.S. Prasanna49552.96006
H. Trumble32552.28093
C.S. Martin71549.83000
R. Ashwin17549.41004
J. Srinath67548.3008
A. Nel36548.06007

  • A player takes 20 innings to start receiving full points, so players with very few innings (i.e. fewer career test matches) are at a slight disadvantage via this averaging scheme. 
  • These ratings include Test matches until 9th November 2013.
  • Read more about ICC Ratings on their FAQ page.

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