Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The ODI 800ers

In mountaineering they are known as the 8000ers – the fourteen summits in the world which rise to more than eight thousand metres. Seventeen people have managed to make it to the top of all of these peaks – no mean achievement.

The Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings have a similar threshold of greatness – the achieving of 800 points in either the batting or bowling tables. Less rare than the mountaineering achievement above, these players still form a select band as only 43 batsmen and 26 bowlers have attained this level of success in One Day International cricket.

First, we need to examine what 800 points in the Ratings actually means? The first batsman to achieve this mark was Greg Chappell back in December 1980 when his innings of 48 against New Zealand at Melbourne saw him rise to 803 points. His Australian team-mate Dennis Lillee had the honour of being the first ODI bowler to reach this level – on 31 January 1981 – when he took two for 25 in eight overs also against the Kiwis at the M.C.G.

As more matches have been played, naturally more players have achieved 800 points. The ‘golden age’ of ODI batting came in early February 1985 when there were a record nine batsmen above this level: Viv Richards, Zaheer Abbas, Allan Lamb, David Gower, Kepler Wessels, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd and Javed Miandad.

For bowlers, the peak came the previous year – in April 1984. At that time, eight bowlers stood at this level: Richard Hadlee, Joel Garner, Ewen Chatfield, Bob Willis, Geoff Lawson, Michael Holding, Kapil Dev and Malcolm Marshall. By way of comparison, as we currently stand, only MS Dhoni with the bat is above 800 points and no bowler has reached the magical 800 figure since Shaun Pollock hung up his boots in February 2008.

So – in the shorter format of the game – who has spent the longest time at or above 800 points? Does this measure produce a true measure of the greatest ODI players of all time? Here are the figures – and there is no surprise who tops the batting charts:


Total days

Viv Richards


Dean Jones


Allan Lamb


Desmond Haynes


Brian Lara


Michael Bevan


Sachin Tendulkar


Gordon Greenidge


Javed Miandad


Graham Gooch


No real surprises there – as all of these players can be considered among the greatest batsmen to play One Day International cricket. Perhaps some may be surprised to see Allan Lamb in third place but he ended his career with an average of 39 and a strike rate of nearly 76 in an era when scoring rates were far lower than they are today. Who can forget his 18 from Bruce Reid’s last over at the S.C.G. in January 1987.

Here are the bowlers:


Total days

Shaun Pollock


Joel Garner


Richard Hadlee


Glenn McGrath


Muttiah Muralitharan


Curtly Ambrose


Ewen Chatfield


Michael Holding


Malcolm Marshall


Kapil Dev


Again – plenty of familiar names here and only one spinner. Shaun Pollock is far ahead of the rest – his miserly economy rate of 3.67 runs per over was achieved in an era when the overall economy rate was 4.82. The one surprise in the top ten is New Zealand’s Ewen Chatfield. Often playing second fiddle to Richard Hadlee, Chatfield had his brief moment in the sun when he topped the Ratings for just two days in March 1988, but he spent a large part of the 1980s above 800 points in second place to Joel Garner. Even in that era, his final bowling average of 25.84 and economy rate of 3.57 were superb.

The average for the top ten batsmen is 2,181 days and for the top ten bowlers 1,624 days perhaps illustrating the fact that top-class bowlers spend less time at the peak of their form than batsmen due to the wear and tear on their bodies.

Next time, we’ll look at the equivalent tables for Test cricket. Can anyone topple the Don?