The last 5 years have been strange times for England. They won the World Cup at the start of that period, but were humiliated in the T20 World Cup final in the West Indies in 2018, and likely only avoided the same fate in 2020 because their semi-final was washed-out. They’ve won series against India, New Zealand and South Africa, and regularly thrash the likes of the West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but have twice failed to regain the Ashes. Not even the players’ doting grandmothers would argue that England have been the best side in the world over the past 5 years; but they’ve nonetheless pretty conclusively proved themselves to have been the second best.
We’ll all have our own ideas of who have been England’s most impactful players of this era, but can the numbers give us a more definitive answer?
We used our ranking algorithm to determine the top 5 batters and bowlers, combining the T20 and ODI stats over the past 5 years. (The metrics are pretty basic – Runs multiplied by Strike Rate for batters; and Wickets divided by Economy for the bowlers – and you can certainly create more nuanced ranking systems, but they tend to largely produce the same answers in the same order!) In addition, we’ve added a new measure: Impact Percentage – the player’s percentage of the team’s total batting and bowling ‘scores’.
In the past 5 years, England have played exactly 100 white ball matches – 47 ODIs and 53 T20s – and only one woman has played all 100 – Tammy Beaumont. So it won’t come as too much of a surprise that Beaumont is England’s leading batter in that period, with 3,318 runs – a fair way ahead of Nat Sciver in second place, over 700 runs behind with 2,557; and Heather Knight in 3rd with 2,657. (Knight has scored more runs than Sciver, but Sciver’s better Strike Rate lifts her ahead in the rankings.)
|Player||Matches||Runs||Strike Rate||Impact %|
|1. Tammy Beaumont||100||3,318||87||18%|
|2. Nat Sciver||97||2,557||104||16%|
|3. Heather Knight||95||2,675||94||15%|
|4. Danni Wyatt||85||2,062||118||15%|
|5. Amy Jones||83||1,868||100||11%|
The fact that bowlers have it harder than batters in terms of injuries is something of a “truism” in cricket, but it is sometimes hard to appreciate just how true it is until you see the numbers – Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole have each missed over a quarter of England’s matches in the past 5 years through injury and rotation. Sophie Ecclestone has missed a similar number over the 5 year period, but of course was not part of the squad for the 2017 World Cup, when she was still in full time education. In the past 4 years, she has played 87% of the team’s matches; and she is the only bowler to have registered over 100 wickets in that period – ranking her at No. 1, some distance ahead of Brunt and Shrubsole.
Perhaps the one surprise across the lists is Kate Cross – ranking 5th in bowling, just a smidgen ahead of Sarah Glenn who has taken a couple more wickets (45) but at a significantly inferior economy rate (5.06).
|1. Sophie Ecclestone||79||114||4.58||19%|
|2. Katherine Brunt||73||87||4.71||14%|
|3. Anya Shrubsole||70||81||4.90||12%|
|4. Nat Sciver||97||68||5.12||10%|
|5. Kate Cross||30||42||4.58||7%|
Sophie Ecclestone’s wickets and economy give her an impact score of 19% – a touch ahead of Tammy Beaumont, whose runs and strike rate give her an impact score of 18%. Then again, Nat Sciver makes it into the top 5 on both lists, giving her a combined impact score of 26% – some way ahead of the other allrounders on the team, with Katherine Brunt and Heather Knight both scoring 19% combined.
So does this definitively settle all the arguments? No – bartenders of the world can breathe a sigh of relief that Martin from Women’s Cricket Blog and I will still have plenty to argue about over drinks late into the night for many years to come! And perhaps that’s actually a big part of the reason for England’s relative consistency and success over the Heather Knight era, Australia dominance notwithstanding? The best teams aren’t dependent upon one or two players. Sophie Ecclestone might have had a fifth of the team’s bowling impact, but the rest of the squad have had the other four-fifths… and that’s maybe the real lesson here.