Allrounders are the X-factor for any team as they can contribute with bat and ball. They are the backbone of the team and also provide balance to the team. But in the last few years especially the match winners among them are becoming a rare commodity at international level. The modern day cricket includes few genuine all-rounders like Shakib-al-Hasan from Bangladesh, Angelo Mathews from Sri Lanka, Corey Anderson from New Zealand.
Not so long ago the likes of Jacques Kallis, Sanath Jayasuriya, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff and Lance Klusner used to destroy the opponents with bat and ball. There are some useful players still active in the game who keeps contributing something or other with their skills, but they are not the ones who are winning matches for their teams regularly. The likes of James Faulkner of Australia, Ravindra Jadeja of India and Ben Stokes of England bat at number 6 or 7, and perform the role of fifth or sixth bowler for their respective teams. They do win matches but not with the same consistency as some of the all-rounders in the past decades used to do. With the retirement of Shane Watson in Test cricket this week the Test cricket has seen another all rounder exit the stage. Shane Watson was an excellent all-rounder who had 10,000 international runs and has taken more than 250 wickets in all three formats has been successful in the shorter format.
Jacques Kallis retired in 2014 as he was the most successful all-rounder in the history of cricket. Kallis was the mainstay for South Africa as well as one of main four pace bowling options. He finished his career with 24,868 runs and 565 wickets in 494 matches in 166 Test matches and 328 One day Internationals including 62 centuries, 45 in Test matches and 17 in One day Internationals. In the 1980s, we had all rounders like Kapil Dev, Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee as they were all match winners and performed for their teams on a regular basis. In modern day cricket, genuine all-rounders are rare these days as batsmen are part time bowlers and bowlers who can contribute with the bat as allrounders.
The Indian cricket for long has tried to search for a genuine allrounder like Kapil Dev but have not been successful. Ajit Agarkar, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Robin Singh and Irfan Pathan are examples who tried to become successful all-rounders but failed. In the current Indian team R Ashwin, the offspinner has two hundred to his name in Test matches is considered to be team’s all-rounder. R Jadeja another spin bowler has been tried in all three formats but unlike Ashwin he has not been able to hold his place in the team. Stuart Binny who performed well in Test series against Sri Lanka might be considered an all-rounder. The T-20 format was expected to ignite the growth of the players who contribute with the bat and the ball but with the time the format is also becoming more and more suitable for a specialist like in Test cricket. One day Internationals in 1980 to 2010 produced plenty of all-rounders but all of those have retired.