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Rahul Dravid - India's biggest impact player in Tests?

After Dravid scored his 33rd century yesterday, I tweeted the following,"Would I be right in saying that Rahul Dravid has been a bigger impact player in Test cricket for India over Sachin and Gavaskar?" As expected the statement was met with mixed resp...

After Rahul Dravid scored his 33rd century yesterday, I tweeted the following,

“Would I be right in saying that Rahul Dravid has been a bigger impact player in Test cricket for India over Sachin and Gavaskar?”

As expected the statement was met with mixed response and I write this article to further explain my above statement.  However before I go further into my article, I must warn that this is my opinion alone and no gospel truth.  The only facts presented are the stats and numbers which you are more than welcome to cross check and refer.  Also I must say that I mean no disrespect to Sachin Tendulkar or Sunil Gavaskar and in no way am I stating that anyone of them is greater than the other.  I am a Sachin Tendulkar fan and that would be the farthest intention in my mind.  With Wisden Cricketer having already named Sachin Tendulkar as the second greatest test cricketer ever in 2002, why should I go against them?  All this article is that it tells of my point of view on the positive impact Rahul Dravid has had playing test for India over the other players.  I am not measuring their greatness, so please don’t be mistaken.  So having said all this let me proceed to answer my question, ‘has Rahul Dravid been a bigger impact player for India in test cricket over Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar?’

I answer that question as yes.  But before I explain I feel I must define what I mean when I say the word ‘impact’.  According to me, Impact is a positive impact which is playing well and scoring in a match where the team has achieved a positive result (Wins and draws).  So I’m taking into account of the valuable contributions in all the wins and draws that the player has been part of.  Also I tend to neglect minnows such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Bangladesh as they aren’t really competitive sides as compared to the other test playing countries.

So here’s my thoughts on the topic.  I’m comparing the performance of three main Indian players and their positive impacts, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar here.  The stats for their performances in winning causes clearly show Dravid and Tendulkar ahead of Gavaskar.  This is expected as India didn’t win many test matches during Gavaskar’s time.
So looking at the table, we can clearly see Sachin Tendulkar leading the others.  However Rahul Dravid is not very far behind and the few innings gap could explain the difference.  Also the above table includes performances against minnows.  If the performances against Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh are taken out then the table takes a different format, as given below.
I’ve included all matches before 2000 against Zimbabwe
Now, you can see Rahul Dravid with a slightly better average than Sachin.  Also the 2 extra centuries and half centuries for Tendulkar can be attributed to him playing 10 extra innings as compared to Dravid.  Also the percentage of the centuries in winning causes support Dravid.  Dravid has 14 centuries out of 32 (I haven’t included yesterday’s one at Lord’s) in winning causes which is just a little under 44%. In the same way Tendulkar does with 20 from 51 instances with a win percentage of 39% which is quite close to Dravid’s.  Neglecting the big scores against the minnows, Dravid has 10 out of 18 which is 36% while Tendulkar’s 11 from 41 is a low 27%.  There’s a significant difference here.  The percentage for half centuries is interestingly the same for both players with 33%.  However the difference in the percentage for centuries – a huge 9%  shows that Dravid scores more against competitive opponents when India wins than Sachin Tendulkar.
I’m not going to spend much time on the drawn matches, however I’ll put up the table with the scores.
The tied test is also added here in Gavaskar’s stats
Here the percentages of centuries for Rahul Dravid is 53% while Tendulkar’s is 43%. Taking out the minnows (Dravid has a century against Zimbabwe, while Tendulkar against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe).  The percentages don’t differ much with Dravid’s being 50% and Tendulkar’s being 40.8%.  The difference is yet again close to 9%.  Here Gavaskar comes ahead of the other two, but looking too much into the figures of drawn matches is futile.

So when comparing the lost matches, Dravid has just one century there so the percentage is a small 3%,  while Tendulkar’s is 21.5%.  So here is the negative impact that we should be avoiding.  So the positive impact would be 97% for Dravid and 78.5% for Tendulkar.  However since we’re neglecting the scores against the minnows Dravid’s percentage comes down to 86% while Tendulkar’s comes down to 66.8%.  The difference among them being a big 19.2%.

Also interesting is to see where Sachin was after 154 innings where Rahul Dravid is now at. And surprise, surprise!  Dravid is ahead of Sachin.  Here are the 4 batsmen who have played 154 tests or more at the point of their 154th test match.

So what does all this prove?  Well very little.  All it proves is that 86% of the time when Dravid performs, India end up with a win or a draw while for Sachin that number is lower at 66.8%.  Does that make Sachin a lesser player?  Not by any stretch of imagination.  All it shows that Dravid has been a bigger impact player than Sachin.

Also I ran the same numbers on the explosive Indian opener, Virender Sehwag and he came right between with Tendulkar and Dravid with a percentage of 77%.  So even Sehwag falls short of Rahul Dravid.  So without a doubt, in my opinion at least, Rahul Dravid has been India’s biggest impact player in test cricket.

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