Australia has played 192 Test series, winning 109, losing 57 and drawing 26. © Getty Images

Australia have played 192 Test series, winning 109, losing 57 and drawing 26. © Getty Images

From March 15, 1877, when the first Test match in history was played between Australia and England at the MCG, till October 22, 2014, when Australia took on Pakistan in Dubai, Australia played 768 Tests. They won 360 of those matches, lost 204, drew 202 and tied 2.

From a series perspective (the real picture, as per Impact Index), Australia have played 192 Test series (only those with two or more Tests considered), winning 109, losing 57 and drawing 26 (try finding this fact on any website without counting manually). This is a more revealing aspect of how successful a side they have been.

Impact Index identifies the highest impact players of all time for Australia, in a series context.

NOTE: We have taken 50 Tests as the minimum – a number based on the correlation between series-defining performances in all of Test history and the number of matches played by those players. Some of the high impact players who have played less than that, we mention separately.

Highest Impact Batsmen

Number Name Matches Batting Impact SDs Runs Tally Impact Pressure Impact Failure Rate (in %)
1 Don Bradman 52 5.03 5 3.48 0.27 27
2 Greg Chappell 87 2.79 4 1.88 0.21 41
3 Neil Harvey 79 2.63 2 1.99 0.22 38
4 Matthew Hayden 103 2.47 3 1.88 0.11 40
5 Bob Simpson 62 2.09 2 1.49 0.12 44
6 David Boon 107 2.07 3 1.49 0.13 41
7 Ricky Ponting 169 2.05 2 1.59 0.22 46
8 Ian Redpath 66 2.04 1 1.52 0.16 36
9 Damien Martyn 67 2.03 1 1.56 0.19 40
10 Steve Waugh 169 2.02 4 1.45 0.23 46

Minimum Test matches: 50
All Impact numbers between 0 and 5
Only Tests with two completed innings included
SDs: Series-defining performances.

1) Don Bradman
It is a matter of record that no sportsperson has been so far ahead of his peers than the Don. He scored more runs, built more partnerships, was the most consistent batsman and won more matches and series than any other player in proportion to the matches he played. That famous 99.94 average is not a freak number.

2) Greg Chappell
The highest impact Test batsman alive (from any country). The most series-defining performances (SDs) among Australian batsman after Bradman (Steve Waugh has 4 too, but in almost double the Tests). And outstanding on every other parameter too. His batting average of 54, especially given the times he played in, is reasonably representative of what he did, but his impact position perhaps more accurate. He was the highest impact batsman in the world in the 1970s and that played a big role in Australia being the best team in the world between 1972 to 1976, besides his brother Ian’s dynamic captaincy.

3) Neil Harvey
By far the highest impact Australian batsman during his career (1948-1963), Neil Harvey has the second-highest Runs Tally Impact (runs scored in proportion to average runs in every match played in) after the Don. He absorbed pressure right through his career (high pressure impact), was immensely reliable (low failure rate) and built more partnerships than anyone except the Don and Matthew Hayden. His batting average of 48 does not convey his true impact.

4) Matthew Hayden
The highest impact non-subcontinent batsman of the new millennium (third-highest after Inzamam-ul-Haq and Kumar Sangakkara) has the second-highest New Ball Impact (ability to see off the new ball – after Mark Taylor) and Partnership-Building Impact (after Bradman) for Australia. He also scored a large proportion of the runs of his team (third-highest Runs Tally Impact). Those three SDs are indicative of the dominating batsman he was.

These four are at a different level when it comes to their impact in Australian Test history. The six batsman below are all in a very tight cluster (as the numbers in the table show).

5) Bob Simpson
Two Ashes SDs in a career spanning 62 Tests lift Simpson’s overall batting impact. He does not come up high in any specific batting parameter, but his reasonable consistency and his all-round play gives him a high impact in Australian cricket.

6) David Boon
An interesting name in this position, as he has the second-lowest batting average from those on this the list. He however has three SDs in 107 Tests, two of which were away against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Ricky Ponting is the leading run-scorer, has the maximum number of centuries and the third-highest average among Australian Test players, but has only two SDs in 169 Tests. © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting is the leading run-scorer, has the maximum number of centuries and the third-highest average among Australian Test players, but has only two SDs in 169 Tests. © Getty Images

7) Ricky Ponting
The leading run-scorer, the maximum number of centuries and the third-highest average among Australian Test players – yet, Ricky Ponting finds himself at No. 7 in the batting impact charts for his nation. The reason for this is simple: only two SDs in 169 Tests. His considerable 46% failure rate (joint-lowest here with Steve Waugh) also plays a part.

8) Ian Redpath
Ian Redpath has the lowest average among batsmen on this list. His hallmark was consistency (lowest failure rate after the Don). He was a fine opening batsman with a high New Ball Impact (ability to play out the new ball consistently). During his career-span, he was the third-highest impact batsman in the world (after Geoffrey Boycott and Bill Lawry).

9) Damien Martyn
Damien Martyn is the fourth-highest Australian player when it comes to Partnership-Building Impact after Bradman, Hayden and Harvey. He did two things brilliantly in the 2000s more than any other batsman in the world except Inzamam: absorb pressure and build partnerships.

10) Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh’s is a strange place in Australian cricket history. Due to his long career (1985-2004), the fact that his overall impact is as high is significant, especially considering that between 1985 and 1995, he was merely the fifth-highest impact Australian batsman. Between 1995 and 2004, he was the highest impact batsman in the world (with four SDs). And it is in the latter period that Australia became the most dominant side in the world, and eventually perhaps the greatest Test team ever (Hayden, Ponting and Martyn were all beneficiaries of that). Waugh’s leading role in that relentless surge cannot be understood by the mere facts of his having the third highest aggregate runs for Australia or the second-highest centuries tally. Overall, his high failure rate of 46% also contributes to his position on this list, but once again, it is useful to remember that from positions 5 to 10, the players are in a very tight cluster.

Justin Langer just misses the list despite having two SDs, as does Mark Waugh, who has three. Lawry, Michael Slater, Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Allan Border all had one SD while Mike Hussey, Taylor, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist and Kim Hughes have none.

Highest Impact batsmen on individual batting parameters

Runs Tally – Don Bradman, Neil Harvey
New Ball – Mark Taylor, Matthew Hayden
Pressure – Don Bradman, Mike Hussey (If we remove the criteria of 50 Tests, Greg Matthews comes up on top.)
Partnership-building – Don Bradman, Matthew Hayden
Strike Rate – Adam Gilchrist, Mike Hussey, Shane Watson
Series Defining – Don Bradman, Greg Chappell, Steve Waugh
Most consistent – Don Bradman, Doug Walters, Ian Redpath

High Impact batsmen who played less than 50 Tests

Lindsay Hassett, with an average of 47 in 43 Tests, is the second-highest impact Australian batsman if we go below 50 Tests. His remarkable consistency and two SDs help him register this impact.

Southpaw Clem Hill (1896-1912) was remarkable for his ability to bat under pressure and for still being very consistent. He also registered two SDs.

David Warner, Australia’s highest impact Test batsman of the last two years, is on an all-time list if we relax the minimum Tests requirement further, but he’ll need to get on the main list someday if Australia is to harbour hopes of regaining lost glory.

Joe Darling, Colin McDonald, Norman O’Neil, Stan McCabe, Peter Burge, Bill Woodfall and Graham Yallop all come up high impact if we remove the 50 Tests minimum qualification.

Highest Impact Test Bowlers

Number Name Matches Bowling Impact SDs Top/Middle Order Wickets Tally Impact Lower Order Wickets Tally Impact Economy Impact
1 Dennis Lillee 69 3.72 3 2.61 0.33 0.15
2 Shane Warne 147 3.42 7 2.09 0.38 0.30
3 Glenn McGrath 123 3.01 2 2.32 0.23 0.41
4 Craig McDermott 72 2.75 2 2.12 0.22 0.04
5 Graham McKenzie 59 2.61 1 2.08 0.22 0.11
6 Mitchell Johnson 60 2.57 1 2.15 0.26 0.11
7 Jeff Thompson 51 2.31 0 2.14 0.18 0.02
8 Brett Lee 76 2.21 0 2.02 0.23 0.06
9 Richie Benaud 63 2.12 0 1.82 0.28 0.16
10 Jason Gillespie 71 2.11 0 1.87 0.19 0.14

Minimum Test matches: 50
All Impact numbers between 0 and 5.
Only Tests with 2 completed innings included.
SDs: Series-defining performances.

1) Dennis Lillee
Dennis Lillee is the highest impact fast bowler in Test cricket history. His three SDs in just 69 games, the highest proportion of wickets taken and the most consistency by any Australian bowler is further proof of his legendary status.

2) Shane Warne
Nobody won more Test series than Warne (he is joint-highest with Muttiah Muralitharan). He built pressure and cleaned up the lower-order better than any Australian bowler, besides being difficult to score off.

Glenn McGrath is the second-highest Wickets Tally Impact bowler for Australia, is the highest Economy Impact bowler in the history of Test cricket after Lance Gibbs and has the second-highest Pressure-Building Impact after Muttiah Muralitharan. © Getty Images

Glenn McGrath is the second-highest Wickets Tally Impact bowler for Australia, is the highest Economy Impact bowler in the history of Test cricket after Lance Gibbs and has the second-highest Pressure-Building Impact after Muttiah Muralitharan. © Getty Images

3) Glenn McGrath
As the second-highest Wickets Tally Impact bowler for Australia, the highest Economy Impact bowler in the history of Test cricket only after Lance Gibbs, the second-highest Pressure-Building Impact after Muralitharan and the fifth-most consistent bowler among the top 20 highest impact bowlers in world cricket, Glenn McGrath would naturally be on this list.

4) Craig McDermott
The man who played a key role in Australia’s ascent during some tough years had two series-defining performances in those critical years. He was Australia’s highest impact bowler from 1984 till Warne began to assert himself – which means he was pre-eminent for almost a decade. Till 1995, when Australia emerged as the best Test team in the world, he was the fourth-highest impact bowler in the world (min. 40 Tests) after Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall and Wasim Akram.

5) Graham McKenzie
The highest impact bowler of the 1960s (minimum 40 Tests), the right-arm fast bowler had one SD in 59 Tests (and also three series-holding performances). Along with Simpson, he was the highest impact Australian cricketer of the period.

6) Mitchell Johnson
The third-highest Top/Middle-order Wickets Tally Impact (after Lillee and McGrath) for Australia in Tests, coupled with an SD ensures that Mitchell Johnson finds a place in the top ten.

7) Jeff Thompson
It is not surprising that he had such a high Top/Middle-order wickets impact, given his pace and accuracy. What is really interesting is his low failure rate of 22%, which suggests fearsome pace was not the only string in his bow. Given that, it is perplexing that he did not have a single SD.

Brett Lee, Richie Benaud (third-highest Economy Impact for Australia) and Jason Gillespie (sixth-highest bowling average and strike rate for Australia) complete the top ten. They would all have been higher impact if they’d produced SDs (Benaud has two such all-round performances though).

Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall, who formed a formidable opening fast bowling pair in the 1940s and 1950s are second and third in terms of conventional bowling averages but only find themselves much lower down the Impact charts – neither had a bowling SD (again, Miller had all-round SDs).

Highest Impact bowlers on individual bowling parameters

Top/Middle Order Wickets Tally– Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath
Lower Order Wickets Tally– Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee
Pressure-Building – Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee
Partnership-Breaking – Shane Warne, Craig McDermott
Economy – Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne
Series-Defining – Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee
Most consistent – Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath

High Impact bowlers who played less than 50 Tests

If we remove the 50 Tests minimum criteria, some of these names come in as key shareholders of Australian Test history.

Clarrie Grimmett is quite simply the highest impact Australian Test bowler then, and a higher impact spinner than even Warne. No one knocked out the tail as he did, or take quick wickets in succession as often. He had three SDs in just 39 Tests – which makes him the biggest series-winning bowler for Australia in Tests.

Bill O’Reilly, the legspinner, registered one SD from 27 Tests but he also has the best Economy Impact and the most consistency among Australian Test bowlers.

Terry Alderman, Max Walker (the most restrictive Australian paceman after McGrath) and Alan Davidson (one of the great bowling allrounders) come up high impact with their two SDs in relatively few Tests.

Hugh Trumble (notable for his Economy Impact), Geoff Lawson and Stuart McGill (high Pressure Building Impact), with one SD each, also come up on the high impact list then.

Ryan Harris, with one SD in 24 Tests comes in very high impact – an indication of the role he can continue to play for Australia if he remains fit.

Highest Impact Players

Number Name Matches Career Impact SDs Batting Impact Bowling Impact Failure Rate(in %)
1 Don Bradman 52 5.55 6 5.03 0.02 27
2 Shane Warne 147 4.22 9 0.51 3.42 16
3 Dennis Lillee 69 4.21 4 0.29 3.72 14
4 Keith Miller 55 4.20 3 1.47 1.73 20
5 Richie Benaud 63 3.80 2 0.95 2.12 17

The great bowlers and bowling allrounders usually top the Test impact charts for their countries. Bradman is, of course, superhuman, but the rest of it is completely along predictive lines. Warne goes ahead of Lillee because he actually has an SD that includes a contribution with the bat.

Keith Miller is the highest impact genuine allrounder Australia have had (reminder: minimum 50 Tests). Interestingly, the three highest impact performances of his career were all SDs, and he had a reasonable bowling impact in all those matches too.

Richie Benaud’s consistency was more marked as a bowler, but he has some famous batting performances to his credit, none more than that in the tied Test of 1961.

If we remove the 50 Tests criterion, Alan Davidson comes up as the highest impact cricketer in Australian cricket history, after Bradman. With four SDs in 44 Tests, he was a very high impact bowler who could bat as well, often when it counted.

Adam Gilchrist is the highest impact wicketkeeper-batsman in Test history. However, he comes up no. 12 on the Australian player’s list because his Test batting was not as high impact overall as the impression some of his great innings had given. Partly it is his 48% failure rate (very good for a wicketkeeper though – which still makes him the most consistent Australian Test player as a wicketkeeper-batsman), partly it is the fact that he does not have a single SD purely for his batting (he does have 4 though, for both batting and wicketkeeping together). This suggests he was a much more reliable big match player in ODIs than in Tests. But given the number of great bowlers, batsmen and bowling all-rounders ahead of him, he is still a very high impact player – in fact, the third highest impact Australian all-rounder after Keith Miller and Richie Benaud.

Apart from being the Highest Impact batsman, Don Bradman is also the Highest Impact captain for Australia. © Getty Images

Apart from being the Highest Impact batsman, Don Bradman is also the Highest Impact captain for Australia. © Getty Images

Highest impact captain: Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting (Lindsay Hassett, if minimum Tests go below 50)

Highest impact wicketkeeper: Adam Gilchrist, Ian Healy

Highest impact fielder: Bob Simpson, Mark Taylor

Most consistent player: Adam Gilchrist (Non-wicketkeeper: Dennis Lillee; Alan Davidson, if minimum Tests go below 50)

Highest impact Australian Test Performances

We look at the highest impact Test performances in Australia’s history, both in a match and series context.

Match context:
(The performance is only measured in the context of a Test match, not the series.)

Highest impact batting performance
Michael Hussey: 28 and 134 v Pakistan, Sydney, 2010.

Highest impact bowling performance
Bob Massie: 8-84 and 8-53 v England, Lord’s, 1972.

Highest impact all-round performance
Alan Davidson: 5-135, 6-87 & 44, 80 v West Indies, Brisbane, 1960.

Series context:

(The performance is only measured in the context of the Test series, and so necessarily would be a series-defining performance.)

Highest impact batting performance
Steve Waugh: 108 and 116 v England, Manchester, 1997.

Highest impact bowling performance
Montague Noble: 7-17 & 6-60 v England, Melbourne, 1902.

Highest impact all-round performance
Shane Warne: 3, 53 & 6-48, 3-63 v England, Manchester, 1997.