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Sachin, Lara, Sangakkara, Kallis, Ponting: Who is the greatest Test match-winner?

Several statistical factors go into determining the outcome.

Stats 22 Nov 2017, 14:16 IST

Third Test - New Zealand v India: Day 1
Sachin Tendulkar: Rating the numbers

Being a cricket tragic, I have often faced interesting conundrums. None, perhaps, has been more challenging than determining who the greatest match winner is among the top Test batsmen. While it is near impossible to compare across eras given the vastly different conditions, context, and bowling quality, it is perhaps a much more realistic exercise to try and compare the performances of batting greats who have all graced the cricket field in the same generation. Although this does not quite imply that the conditions were always similar, the problem is definitely a simplified version.

In the last 30 years, which is roughly the time since I started following cricket closely, few cricketers have charmed the world like Sachin Tendulkar did. Tendulkar’s longevity and consistency across the world inevitably ensure that he is part of nearly every major all-time XI drawn up.

The generation also witnessed the genius of Brian Lara, the gritty Rahul Dravid, and the Sri Lankan great, Kumar Sangakkara. Two other exceptional players in the list include Ricky Ponting, who was the premier batsman in what was perhaps the finest team of all time, and Jacques Kallis, who is perhaps the only cricketer who can be compared with the all-rounder per excellence, Gary Sobers.

Now, one might ask how I am going about determining who the best match winner among these greats is. For this analysis, I consider the following:

  1. Performance in wins versus the performance overall
  2. Peer comparison in matches won
  3. Home wins versus away wins (performance comparison)
  4. Score distribution in wins
  5. Innings wise distribution
  6. Win performance index – determined by analyzing bowling quality faced

All stats exclude matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe

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