COMPARISONS, according to the accepted maxim, are odious; they are inevitable in sport, not least cricket, statistically based as it is.
No sooner than Sachin Tendulkar’s emotionally frenetic retirement rekindled debate over who was the better batsman between himself and Brian Lara, than Jacques Kallis’ more unassuming departure raised the topic of his all-round credentials against Sir Garry Sobers’.
It is a futile, purely subjective exercise. Kallis and Sobers were from different generations; only by the unsatisfactory means of their figures can they can they be properly judged against each other.
The numbers are (Tests only): Sobers, 93 Tests, 8,032 runs, average 57.78, 235 wickets, average 34.03. Kallis, 166 Tests, 13,289 runs, average 55.37, 292 wickets, average 32.65.
Suffice it is say that Sobers, personally and without any argument, would be my first choice in an imaginary all-time team above any one-dimensional contender; for the same reason, Kallis would be No.1 in a composite team from his time, above Tendulkar, Lara, Dravid, Warne, Muralitharan or anyone else.
As a bit of meaningless fun, here are two methods used to determine the Sobers-Kallis argument.
The internet site, HowSTAT!, simply subtracts bowling average from batting average to give it rating points. By that system, Sobers’ 23.75 rates him just above Kallis at No.2 with 22.72 (Imran Khan is well back in third with 14.88).
Mark Williams, formerly with the British High Commission in Barbados, MCC committee member and avid fan, has a slight variation on that method, dividing batting average by bowling average. Again, Sobers edges it – 1.6979 to 1.6958.
Help any? I thought not.