Cricket saw its origins in England, and when summer visits the English countryside, the familiar sound of leather against willow can be heard, signifying the start of a new cricket season. For our American readers – Cricket is the name of England’s popular summer sport and not some noisy bug!
Cricket is played worldwide, particularly in Australia, India, Pakistan, the West Indies, and the British Isles.
Every sport has its greatest players; no matter how crowded the field, they stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries. Cricket is no exemption to this rule, and these all-rounders are gifted and versatile with both bat and ball.
Gamers who play fantasy cricket have no doubt stumbled across the names of some of these greats. A list of the greatest all-rounders to grace the gentleman’s game are:
1. Sir Garfield Sobers – West Indies:
The legendary West Indian all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers is first on the list. Before the household names of the 1980s, such as Sir Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, and Joel Garner, there was the incomparable Gary Sobers.
Sobers was regarded as the ultimate cricketer of his era. Even the legendary batsman Sir Don Bradman, referred to Sobers as a “five-in-one cricketer” since he excelled in all game disciplines, with wicket-keeping being the only exception. Sir Garfield Sobers was voted in as one of the top 3 cricketers of the world by BBC viewers.
Test Career: 93 matches, Batting Average: 57.78, Runs: 8,032, Centuries: 26, Wickets: 235, Bowling Average: 34.03.
2. Imran Khan – Pakistan:
Imran Khan is another graceful legend on this list of the Greatest All-Rounders ever. He was both a skilled batsman and a fast bowler in his heyday. That was not all; he was an inspirational leader, too, guiding Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992, the pinnacle of the cricketing world.
He led by example and made a significant contribution with the bat against England in the World Cup final of 1992.
Test Career: 88 matches, Batting Average: 37.69, Runs: 3,807 runs, Centuries: 6, Wickets: 362, Bowling Average: 22.81.
ODI Career: 175 matches, Batting Average: 33.41, Runs: 3,709, Century: 1, Wickets: 182, Bowling Average: 26.61.
3. Kapil Dev – India:
Another name on the list that needs no introduction is Kapil Dev, a.k.a the Haryana Hurricane. Kapil Dev is one of the greatest cricketers India has ever produced and was an all-rounder in the classic mold. He was a match-winner with both bat and ball and served India well during his glittering career.
Under his captaincy, India felled the mighty West Indies in the World Cup final in 1983. This victory was sweeter because it came at the prestigious venue, Lord’s, long known as the ‘Mecca’ of cricket.
Test Career: 131 matches, Batting Average: 31.05, Runs: 5,248 runs, Centuries: 8, Wickets: 434, Bowling Average: 29.64.
ODI Career: 225 matches, Batting Average: 23.79, Runs: 3,783, Century: 1, Wickets: 253, Bowling Average: 27.45.
4. Sir Ian Botham – England:
The great Englishman from the 1980s, Ian Botham, is fourth on this list. He was instrumental in reviving the cricketing fortunes of the national side almost single handedly.
Botham is famous for his heroics at the Ashes, for he was a factor that made the difference when England and Australia faced-off in 1981. That year the competition became known as ‘Botham’s Ashes,’ where England beat Australia 3-1. When Botham hung up his gloves, he was the highest wicket-taker in Test Cricket, with 383 scalps.
Test Career: 102 matches, 33.54 batting average, 5,200 runs, 14 centuries, 383 wickets, 28.40 bowling average.
ODI Career: 116 matches, Batting Average: 23.21, Runs: 2,113, Centuries: 0, Wickets: 145 wickets, Bowling Average: 28.54.
5. Richard Hadlee – New Zealand:
At number 5 is the Kiwi, Sir Richard John Hadlee. He has the distinction of being the first bowler to pick up 400 wickets in Tests. By the time he retired, he was the highest wicket-taker in test cricket with a final tally of 431.
Along with being acknowledged as one of the most lethal bowlers between 1978 and 1988 and is also regarded as one of the greatest swing bowlers ever.
Test Career: 86 matches, Batting Average: 27.16, Runs: 3,124, Centuries: 2, Wickets: 431, Bowling Average: 22.29.
ODI Career: 115 matches, Batting Average: 21.61, Runs: 1,751, Centuries: 0, Wickets: 158, Bowling Average: 21.56 bowling average.
6. Jaques Kallis (1995-2014) – South Africa:
Next up is Jaques Kallis, who made the South African side a complete unit that notched up wins at home and overseas. He was a truly gifted all-rounder and would have complimented any team in any era.
Kallis was an entertaining batsman, always giving the spectators a good time and sending the opposing team’s fielders on a merry chase for the red cherry.
Test Career: 166 matches, Batting Average: 55.37, Runs: 13,289, Centuries: 45, Wickets: 292, Bowling Average: 32.65.
ODI Career: 328 matches, Batting Average: 44.36, Runs: 11,579 runs, Centuries: 17 centuries, Wickets: 273 wickets, Bowling Average: 31.79.
T20I Career: 25 matches, Batting Average: 35.05, Runs: 666, Centuries: 0, Wickets: 12, Bowling Average: 27.75.
This is but a short list of the greatest all-rounders to ever grace the game of cricket. Other honorable mentions among the greatest all-rounders would be Chris Cairns (New Zealand), Ben Stokes (England), Lance Klusener (South Africa), Shane Watson (Australia), and Wasim Akram (Pakistan).
All-rounders are a rare breed among the cricketing fraternity, and their presence in any team gives it flexibility when choosing the playing 11.