All-Rounders Where Are They?
By Orin Davidson
Jacques Kallis achieved a rare feat in international cricket without
much fanfare last week.
He became the second player to achieve 8000 runs and 200 wickets in
One Day Internationals, but it was met with hardly a hue and cry in
East London, South Africa.
(Photoby Shiek Mohamed)
it was because the opposition was weak Zimbabwe. Nevertheless Kallis
has worked diligently over the years to development his game as one
of the world’s leading allrounders.
These days though, allrounders in both forms of the game hardly make
the news for eye catching individual feats.
As a result hardly much prominence or attention is given those players
compared to those who made the game a huge spectacle back in the day.
It makes it difficult to identify anyone as the world’s best
all-rounder in contemporary competition.
Outside of Kallis, Andrew Flintoff of England and Pakistan’s
Abdur Razzaq are regarded as the world’s best established allrounders.
In my book there are others who have shown the talent to be rated
in the said category.
West Indies’ Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle are highly skilled
players with both bat and ball. So is Shane Warne, the world’s
leading Test wickettaker who can step it up with the bat when he puts
his mind to it.
Gayle is a tremendous striker of the ball which coupled with his deceptively
effective spin bowling, could make him a much more valuable player
if given greater responsibility.
On the contrary Bravo is handling the workload well and getting better
with bat and ball as a result.
Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya is just as good as any of the
others because his left arm orthodox spin has regularly bailed out
his country with priceless wickets in both forms of the game. No need
to mention his power batting at the top of order.
Daniel Vetorri can bat also very well whenever he gets the opportunity
to build a proper innings. That is in addition to his renowned orthodox
left arm spin which makes him New Zealand’s best player at the
Yet none can walk in the footsteps of great allrounders of yore who
gave real meaning to the characterization of the multi-dimensional
The greatest of them all Sir Gary Sobers is a rare specie who is blessed
to the world only once in several generations. Some special talent
is released in successive generations, but in Sobers’ case he
has not been replicated yet in his lifetime.
His batting was stupendously good enough to be ranked among the best
players ever to play the game.
Donald Bradman is rated in some quarters the greatest batsman who
ever lived, but in my opinion Sobers was unmatched by anyone.
Bradman has the best ever Test batting average which many use to label
him the greatest ever. But averages alone must never be the lone determinant
of a player’s ability. Strength of opposition, conditions of
play and length of career must be taken into consideration and if
Bradman accumulated his mountain of runs against ordinary England
teams with only a total 14 Tests against sides from the West Indies,
South Africa and India for not longer than 52 Tests, surely it is
debatable whether he was more accomplished than Sobers.
Given his battles against strong Australia and England teams and tricky
spinners from India and Pakistan, all over the world in 92 Tests,
it would be unfair to place Bradman higher in the pecking order, even
though there is only a difference of 1002 runs in Sobers’ 7998
and his 6996 career Test-run tallies.
One of Sobers’ best innings is not recorded in his stats but
his magnificent 254 double century against the Rest of the World in
1971 when Dennis Lillie, arguably the best fast bowler ever, was in
his prime was a treasurer to behold.
If his awesome batting talent was not enough, Sobers’ bowling
skills were mind- boggling. Not only was he a classy medium pacer,
Sobers could also produce left arm orthodox stuff and unbelievable,
was also just as good twirling the left handers’ leg spin, known
as the wrist spinner, which all accounted for his 235 Test wickets.
And if one adds his brilliant fielding skills, at any position on
the field, especially close in where he pulled off some of the game’s
amazing catches, that amounted to 109 in total, one could rate him
a true cricketing genius.
After Sobers, the game has seen one great allrounder and some outstanding
Ian Botham comes readily to mind as probably the best since Sobers.
His batting and bowling were almost equal in excellence which separated
him from the likes of Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee.
For India, Kapil was instrumental in them winning their lone World
Cup title win while setting himself up at the same time as a one-time
World Test wickets record holder.
Similarly Imran’s ability with bat and ball as well as his captaincy
skills spurred Pakistan to their single World Cup championship triumph.
Yet, the same success level cannot be said of the established allrounders
of the modern era.
Flintoff gets the most opportunities but is yet to produce magical
batting and bowling displays. Kallis still has a few World Cups to
win for South Africa and Tests against Australia, to reach the next
The obvious drought in super star allrounders around the world cannot
be attributed to workload excess. Botham and Dev both amassed more
than 100 games in both forms of the games while compiling their wickets
and runs in excess of 3000 and close to and over 400.
The reality is that Sobers’s type appear only in a life time
It explains why Kallis’ current feat has been met with muted
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