Since the game of cricket has been played, there have been many all-rounders, some of whom were predominantly batsmen who also bowled, others were predominantly bowlers who also batted and then there were those who were wicket-keeper batsmen. Though there is a table listing all-rounders with batting or bowling credentials, however wicket-keepers who were good batsmen are not mentioned in the same.
Amongst the all-rounders who were wicket-keepers, there were (or are) players like Adam Gilchrist, Mahendra Dhoni, Kumar Sangakkara, Leslie Ames, Andy Flower, Mark Boucher, Alec Stewart, Farokh Engineer, Allan Knott, who batted well. However, amongst wicket-keepers the cricketer with the best test batting credentials is Adam Gilchrist with 379 catches and 37 stumpings in 96 tests and a batting average of 47.60, which is very good, by any standards, for a wicket-keeper batsman.
Sir Gary Sobers is considered to be the best all-rounder the game has ever produced and he is also considered to be a complete cricketer who batted at any position, bowled left arm fast medium, left arm orthodox spin and left arm unorthodox spin and was an excellent fielder. In short, he was like three or four players having different talents rolled into one. Though Sir Sobers is considered to be an all-rounder, one interesting aspect is that when he retired in 1974, he had scored 8,032 runs, which was the highest aggregate piled by any test batsman till early 1980s when Geoff Boycott surpassed it. Sir Sobers also scored 365 not out against Pakistan in 1958 and amazingly this was his first century and stood as a record for 36 years until it was surpassed by Brian Lara. Further, in 1968 while playing for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan at Swansea, he hit Malcolm Nash for six consecutive sixes in one over.
Another amazing all-rounder is Sir Richard Hadlee who, in ideal conditions, moved the ball both ways in the air as well as off the seam. In the second half of his international career, he bowled with a run up that could be considered to be too short for a fast bowler. It was quite a sight to see Sir Hadlee run up to the wicket to bowl, because he had a very smooth run up and bowling action. Sir Hadlee is the best test cricketer to emerge from New Zealand.
Kapil Dev was the most exciting fast-medium bowler that India has ever produced and by the time he finished his career, he had taken 434 wickets. Kapil Dev was not only a genuine all rounder, but along with Ian Botham, Sir Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, was one of the four super all-rounders that reigned in the 1980s and first half of 1990s. Though he was an all-rounder primarily known for his bowling, however he was also an aggressive batsman with awesome strokes and scored fours and sixes at will and random. On his day, he had the ability to single-handedly change the complex of the game. In fact, had he taken his batting seriously, rather than playing to entertain the crowds, he would have had better batting averages and more centuries and fifties in both tests and ODIs.
By virtue of being not only a genuine but super all-rounder who, at the height of his career, batted with total aggression and disdain for bowlers, bowled his out swingers at a nippy pace with line, length and control and fielded superbly, especially in the deep, one could consider him to be the best cricketer to emerge from India. However, this again is a debatable point, because some would say Sachin Tendulkar, others may say Anil Kumble and some others may say Sunil Gavaskar. However, Kapil Dev being an accomplished bowler, batsman and fielder, he had much more utility value than his competitors. Sometimes later in his career, he developed the in-swinging yorker and used them with good and telling effect to polish off the oppositions? tail-end batsmen.
Amongst the contemporary all-rounders, Jacques Kallis is the best with a batting average of 57.73 and bowling average of 31.32 (as of 11/04/2008).
Statistical Data On Genuine All-Rounders In Test Cricket
Sir Gary Sobers
L.F.M.; S.L.O.; S.L.C.
R.F. = Right Arm Fast; L.F. = Left Arm Fast; R.F.M. = Right Arm Fast Medium; L.F.M. = Left Arm Fast Medium; SLO = Slow Left Arm Orthodox; R.L.S. = Right Arm Leg Spin; S.L.C. = Slow Left Arm Chinaman; R.M. = Right Arm Medium; L.B.G. = Leg Break Googly.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain
Author: Nelson Lewis- Bahrain