The new issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly reveals a unique analysis of Test cricket’s most valuable players of the 21st century, with Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan finishing top of the pile.
Based exclusively on CricViz’s market-leading analytics, each player has been awarded an ‘MVP rating’ using a statistical model to rank their ‘match impact’ compared to their peers.
Freddie Wilde, CricViz analyst, explains: “The traditional batting and bowling averages are good measures of a player’s influence in Test cricket, but devoid of context and independent of situation, they are not perfect – which is why we’ve created CricViz Match Impact.
“Our match impact model is a measure of how much better or worse a player has performed compared to the expected performance of an average player appearing in the same position in the same match.
“It is important to stress that the findings of this model are not illustrative of who the ‘best’ player is; rather, they are a measure of which players have influenced the matches they have played in most significantly.”
The list is dominated by Australians, with 10 featuring in the top 30. India is the next best represented country with five players included in the countdown, while Joe Root and Graeme Swann are England’s two representatives. But it is Murali, Sri Lanka’s spin wizard, who triumphs.
“CricViz’s match impact model, which sheds new light on a player’s contribution, found Muttiah Muralitharan to be Test cricket’s most valuable player of the 21st century so far,” says Jo Harman, Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor. “With 573 wickets at an average of 21.01 since the turn of the century, raw numbers alone demonstrate Murali’s brilliance, but the CricViz model allows us to delve deeper, revealing his unrivalled impact on Test cricket over the last 20 years.”
“Murali and Glenn McGrath stand out as the two most impactful bowlers in this analysis by a distance,” adds Wilde. “The critical difference between the two comes down to volume. Among players to have bowled 1,000 overs in this century McGrath is the standout on a per-over basis, returning +2.3 runs of impact per over, while Murali’s +1.6 runs per over ranks him fifth. However, Murali typically bowled far more overs than the Australian – on average 31.1 per innings compared to McGrath’s 19.4 – and this difference in volume tips the scales in his favour.
“In this investigation we are analysing the impact of players, not judging who is best, and as a spinner who bowled marathon spells, the Sri Lankan had greater opportunity to dominate Test matches.”
To read the feature in full, including CricViz’s ODI and T20 MVPs of the century, pick up a copy of the July edition of Wisden Cricket Monthly, available to buy in print and digital formats