Cricketing nations take great pride in boasting about the batting maestros as well as the champion bowlers they have produced in their cricketing history. While batsman and bowlers play an important role in carving out victories for their sides, it comes down to the all-rounders who provide the balance to the team and help their side have the ideal blend to combine well as a competitive unit.
Over the years some international teams have produced some quality all-rounders who have proved to be the ultimate match winners for their sides courtesy their skills both with bat and ball.
All-rounders came into prominence in the 80’s when the fabulous four of Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee proved their mantle with the willow and the red cherry to turn around matches for their respective nations. As the game progressed, the role of all-rounders became increasingly sacrosanct to the team’s recipe for success in the limited overs format.
So it would be interesting to rank the international cricket teams based on the all-rounders they have produced over the years.
I have considered only those all-rounders who are proved their worth consistently with both bat and ball all through their career and have been an integral member of their respective national sides. For my analysis, I have kept a cut off to shortlist the very best from a long list of all-rounders. In ranking the sides, I have only taken those all-rounders who have scored more than 1500 ODI runs at an average of over 20 with their bat and picked up 75 wickets with a bowling average of under 40.
- SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa has been blessed with all-rounders of world class pedigree all through their cricketing history. When South Africa got readmitted into international cricket, they had a couple of all-rounders who added depth to their team. Proteas skipper Hansie Cronje was a useful customer with both bat and ball. While Hansie could change the course of the game by some measured hitting, he complimented the potent seam attack with his military medium pace which troubled the best of batsmen. Brian McMillan was a handy customer with the bat and bowled his military medium to great effect in chipping wicket for the South Africans. Shaun Pollock considered one of the finest seamers of his generation was a handy all-rounder too. ‘Polly’, more than capable batsman provided the team with some valuable contributions down the order. A seamer who deceived the best with his immaculate line and length, Pollock could also use the long handle to great effect. The powerfully built Lance Klusener was an outright match winner with his all-rounder pedigree. Klusener was a destructive batsman down the order who could tear apart the best of bowling and take his team over the line. Klusener was an ice-cool customer who thrived under pressure to produce match winning knocks in big tournaments. Klusener who started off as a tearaway fast bowler became adept at plying his trade as a medium pace, gaining mastery with his subtle change of pace. South Africa produced arguably the greatest limited-overs all-rounder in Jaques Kallis. Few men in the history of the game have been more god gifted in cricketing skills than Kallis. Kallis was the lynchpin of the Proteas batting at Number. 3 who played the sheet anchor’s role to perfection with his calm temperament and rock solid technique. Kallis was a potent seamer who bowled with brisk pace and made the ball seam off the surface. Kallis could be rightfully hailed as the ‘Gary Sobers of One Day cricket’ for his completeness as a champion cricketer.
The Proteas were lucky to have likes of multi-skilled cricketers like Adrian Kuiper, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, JP Duminy and Nicky Boje who all fitted in pretty well into their one-day scheme of things.
Top South African all-rounders in ODI cricket
Player Matches Runs Avg Wickets Avg
Jaques Kallis 328 11579 44.36 273 31.79
Lance Klusener 171 3576 41.10 192 29.95
Hansie Cronje 188 5565 38.65 114 34.79
Shaun Pollock 303 3519 26.46 393 24.51
Pakistan known for producing great fast bowlers have been second to none in producing some world class all-rounders. Imran Khan would go down as the greatest all-rounder Pakistan ever produced. The well-built Pathan with killer looks was menacing with the red cherry and the willow too. Khan was credited for having pioneered the art of reverse swing with fellow paceman Sarfaraz Nawaz and used it as a lethal weapon to win Pakistan many matches in his hey days. Khan was equally adept with the bat in his hand. He was a valuable middle order batsman with a wide array of shots in his arsenal. Mudasar Nazar was another all-rounder who gave Pakistan the much-required balance all through the 80s. Saleem Malik was their premier all-rounder in the 90’s. A dependable middle order batsman Malik had the uncanny knack of breaking partnerships with his military medium pace.
In the late 90’s, Pakistan had quality all-rounders in Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood who complimented the formidable Pakis pace attack very well and added depth to their strong batting line-up. While both Razzaq and Mahmood bowled medium pace, they were destructive with the bat towards the end of the innings. Razzaq, in particular, created a reputation of sorts for finishing off games by hitting some lusty blows down the order. Shahid Afridi who started off as a brutal assaulter up the innings prosperous more into an effective leg-spinning all-rounder. The enigmatic Afridi could turn a game on its heads with his brutal strokeplay which resulted in sheer carnage for the opposition. It, however, was ‘Boom Boom’s’ leg-spin which added venom to the Pakis bowling as he deceived the batsman with his quickish leggies which skitted off the surface. Pakistan had the luxury of spin all-rounders like Aamir Sohail and Mohammad Hafeez who chipped in with wickets besides their batting credentials. Shoaib Malik has proved his mantle as an effective all-rounder for the Pakis for more than a decade now. An attacking batsman, Malik has excelled in his role as finisher courtesy his good cricketing acumen. Malik has always been a handy spin option for Pakis to go to in the limited overs format.
Pakistan’s Top ODI Allrounders
Player Matches Runs Avg Wickets Average
Imran Khan 175 3709 33.41 182 26.62
Saleem Malik 283 7170 32.89 89 33.25
Abdul Razzaq 265 5080 29.71 269 31.84
Shoaib Malik 244 6548 35.02 153 38.65
Mohammad Hafeez 82 5527 32.13 129 36.39
Mudassar Nazar 122 2653 30.92 111 30.92
3. NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand has been known for churning out all-rounders of the calibre of Sir Richard Hadlee who was one among the fearsome four who rules the roost in the 80’s. Hadlee was a natural wicket taker with a phenomenal strike rate. The 90s saw a plethora of all-rounders making the nucleus of a Kiwi side which left behind a mark of sorts for being a more for a spirited collective unit rather than relying on individual brilliance. Leading the pack was the big and burly Chris Cairns who could tonk the ball many miles. Cairns was handy medium pacer who gave the Kiwis the much-required breakthroughs on regular intervals. Chris Harris was a typical ‘Bits and Pieces’ cricketer. Harris was a master at nudging those singles and milking the gaps in the latter stages of an innings. He had an uncharacteristic but highly effective style of bowling military medium seamers which deceived the best in the business. The Kiwis also had services of Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan who contributed significantly with both bat and ball. In the new millennium, Jacob Oram was a tall and imposing figure who had the ability to win matches with his big hitting. Scot Styris was another all-rounder who became the nucleus of the Kiwi ODI unit for almost a decade.
The Kiwis have two world class all-rounders in Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham who both have the ability to win matches with bat and ball for their country. Anderson and Neesham both bowl military medium and can be destructive with the bat down the order.
Notable Mentions: James Franklin, Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori
Top NZ All-rounders in ODI Cricket
Player Matches Runs Avg Wickets Avg
Richard Hadlee 115 1751 21.62 158 21.56
Chris Cairns 215 4950 29.46 201 32.81
Chris Harris 250 4379 29.00 203 37.50
Jacob Oram 160 2434 24.10 173 29.17
Scott Styris 188 4483 32.49 137 35.32
4. WEST INDIES
West Indies considered the Kings of Cricket in the 70’s and the 80’s have been blessed with quality all-rounders all through their cricketing history.
Sir Vivian Richards was an all-rounder in his own right as he bowled his off-spinners to great effect along with his blistering batting. In the 90’s, Carl Hooper was a gentle giant of sorts who contributed immensely to West Indies cricket with his all rounding skills. The Guyanese bestowed with immense natural ability made batting look easy by hitting those effortless sixes and bowled his off-spinners with great control. Meanwhile, Phil Simmons another valuable all-rounder during the same era was very adaptable as he could play anywhere in the batting order. He bowled his medium pacers with subtle changes. Jamaican batting stalwart Chris Gayle has been nothing short of an all-rounder. Besides providing Windies with the fireworks upfront as an explosive opener, Gayle has been a handy off-spinner who has the knack of breaking partnerships all through is a career.
Top West Indian All rounders in ODI Cricket
Player Matches Runs Average Wickets Average
Chris Gayle 269 9221 37.33 163 35.21
Vivian Richards 187 6721 47.00 118 35.83
Carl Hooper 227 5761 35.34 193 36.05
Dwayne Bravo 164 2968 25.37 199 29.52
The Aussies who have dominated the game over a long period of time had their share of quality all-rounders.
Simon O’Donnell was Australia’s best all-rounders in the 80s. Simon O’Donnell was an aggressive batsman who could score at a brisk pace and was an integral part of the Australian seam attack with his medium pacers. Steve Waugh could be hailed as their most effective all-rounder. Waugh bowled his medium pacers and was a dependable batsman in the middle order. Waugh produced moments of magic when the team required it the most. Tom Moody was Australia’s best all-rounder all through the 90s. Moody, a big hitter of the ball was capable of producing some quick-fire runs and bowled his medium pacers cleverly to unsettle the batsman. Shane Watson was perhaps their most valuable all-rounder in the limited overs arena. Watson could alter the course of a game with his belligerent strokeplay apart from being a very useful seam bowler in the Australian pace attack. Andrew Symonds was perhaps the most destructive Aussie all-rounder. in the ODI arena, ‘Symmo’ was a power hitter at the fag end of the innings and could roll his arm with his medium pace or deceptive off spinners. The Aussies at present have two world class all-rounders in Glen Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom have proved their match winning abilities in a relatively short period of time. Both Maxwell and Marsh have a wide array to attacking shots to dismantle the best of bowling attacks.
Notable mentions: Ian Harvey, James Hopes, Darren Lehman, Mark Waugh, Allan Border
Top Australian All-rounders in ODI Cricket
Cricketer Matches Runs Avg Wickets Avg
Shane Watson 190 5757 40.54 168 31.80
Andrew Symonds 198 5088 39.75 133 37.26
Steve Waugh 325 7569 32.91 195 34.67
SP O’Donnell 87 1242 25.35 108 28.72
Kapil Dev was arguably India’s best all-rounder by a long mile. Dev was one of the finest seam bowlers of his generation. His rhythmic action and beautiful release made him bowl those ripping outswingers. Dev was an aggressive batsman who could win India matches with his quick-fire cameos. India also had the services of Madan Lal and Roger Binny who both were an integral part of India’s one-day mix. In the late 80s, Manoj Prabhakar was a utility cricketer who was a capable batsman and a skilful seam bowler. Robin Singh was India’s most dependable rounder in the 90’s. A highly committed cricketer, Singh gave his 100 percent on the field. Singh could tonk sixes with a very short backlift. Irfan Pathan was India’s most promising all-rounder in the new millennium. Pathan could swing the ball late which wreaked through the defences of the best. The Baroda hunk developed into a very capable batsman but unfortunately, his career went a bit of the track so could not unleash his full potential. Ravindra Jadeja has been India’s ace all-rounder in the last five years. ‘Sir Jadeja’ can step up the acceleration button with his attacking batting. His orthodox left-arm spin has resulted in many scalps for India in the ODI format courtesy which he has turned into a frontline seamer with R Ashwin. Meanwhile, Hardik Pandya has showcased great promise of becoming a good all rounding prospect for Indian in the years to come.
Notable Mentions: Sourav Ganguly, Yusuf Pathan, Axar Patel, Stuart Binny
Top Indian All-rounders in ODI Cricket
Player Matches Runs Average Wickets Average
Kapil Dev 225 3783 23.79 253 27.45
Ravi Shastri 150 3108 29.05 129 36.05
Manoj Prabhakar 130 1858 24.13 157 28.88
Irfan Pathan 120 1544 23.39 173 29.72
Ravindra Jadeja 129 1888 32.00 151 34.68
The others nations have had their share of all-rounders but didn’t make the cut as they didn’t produce all-rounders of world class pedigree all through their history.
Notable ODI allrounders from other Cricketing nations
England – Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Tim Bresnan, Ben Stokes, Mark Eahlam, Craig White, Adam Hollioake
Sri Lanka – Thisara Perera, Angelo Matthews, Farveez Maharoof, T Dilshan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda De Silva, Russel Arnold
Zimbabwe – Guy Whittal, Sean Ervine, Craig Evans, Travis Friend, Neil Johnson, Grant Flower, Health Streak
Bangladesh – Shakib Al Hassan
So hope you enjoyed reading my article and would draw a consensus with the sides that made the cut for the Top 5 team with best all-rounders.