Like other sports, in cricket, every player is a vital cog, whether a batter, bowler or fielder, but the value an all-rounder adds is a touch above the rest. An all-rounder is valuable to any side. Over the years the cricketing world has witnessed some of the greatest all-rounders of all time. Any all-rounder can change the outcome of any game with the bat and the ball. This piece will discuss the ten best all-rounders of all time in cricketing history so far.
These all-rounders had different skill sets, but their ability to take the game away from the opposition was something fans always relished. These all-rounders’ play styles also varied, but they were all legendary figures and match-winners in their day. Let’s take a look at the top 10 all-rounders of all time.
#10 Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Shakib will be remembered as one of the finest all-rounders in Bangladesh Cricket. The all-rounder has showcased some brilliant performances with his left-arm orthodox spin. He can take crucial wickets during the run of play. Shakib can fox the batters with his deceptive flighted deliveries and can turn the ball wonderfully even on batting wickets.
As a batsman, Shakib is a clever operator in finding the gaps with his timing and placement. The left-hander is quite unorthodox with his batting as he can cut a good-length ball powerfully with his bottom hand. He has scored 4251 runs in 63 Tests, registering 5 centuries and 29 half-centuries with a highest score of 217. He has taken 225 wickets with the best bowling figures of 7/36 in his Test career.
#9 Andrew Flintoff (England)
The flamboyant all-rounder will be remembered as one of the best all-rounders in English cricket. Flintoff has his share of controversies, but had it not been for the injuries, the Englishman would have broken many records with his batting and bowling. He had this ability to break partnerships with his unpredictable length and his ability to move the ball with his clever seam movements off the pitch.
Flintoff had the pace with surprising even a well-set batter. As a batsman, the right-hander was destructive with the bat. Flintoff cut the ball powerfully with his powerful bottom hand and had the power to hit the ball in the stands by hitting down the ground. ‘Freddie’ as he was fondly called, was responsible for England’s 2005 Ashes win when he single-handedly won the series for the three lions.
In 79 Tests, Flintoff scored 3845 runs with the highest score of 167 and registered 5 centuries and 26 half-centuries. He took 226 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5/58 in his Test career. In 141 ODIs, Flintoff scored 3394 runs with the highest score of 123, registering 3 centuries and 18 half-centuries. He claimed 169 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5/18 in his ODI career.
#8 Shaun Pollock (South Africa)
One of their biggest strength of Pollock was his ability to keep calm under demanding situations. The all-rounder had the knack to trap any world-class batter with his length and ability to bowl in the right areas. Pollock was always a threat in overcast conditions due to his clever outswingers. His seaming length made it difficult for the batters to hit on the up. He mixed his deliveries well by using the odd slower deliveries even on fast wickets.
When we talk about Pollock as a batsman, the right-hander was always a reliable option while batting at no 7 or 8. His calm temperament and his ability to see through the overs were quite incredible with his patient batting. In 108 Tests, Pollock claimed 421 wickets with the best bowling figures of 7/87. He scored 3781 runs by registering 2 centuries and 16 half-centuries in his Test career, with the highest score of 111.
In 303 ODIs, the all-rounder scored 3519 runs with the highest score of 130 by registering 1 century and 14 half-centuries. He took 393 wickets with the best bowling figures of 6/35 in his limited-overs career.
#7 Sir Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
Arguably one of the best all-rounders West Indies cricket ever produced. Sobers’ flamboyant personality charmed fans globally like his playing style. The all-rounder possessed variety in his bowling as he bowled slow left-arm medium pace, slow left-arm orthodox and left-arm unorthodox spin. As a bowler, Sobers was very deceptive with his length as he outsmarted the batters with his seam movements and intelligent leg cutters.
The left-hander’s batting was pure class during the 1950s & 60s as the Barbadian’s effortless batting caught everyone’s eye. Sobers drove the beautifully with his elegant timing and flicked the ball effortlessly. His hand-eye coordination was amazing while playing the pull shots.
The legendary cricketer scored 8032 runs by registering 26 centuries and 30 half-centuries with the highest score of an unbeaten 365 in 93 Tests. He claimed 235 wickets with the best bowling figures of 6/73 in his Test career.
#6 Ian Botham (England)
Arguably one of the finest all-rounders in English and world cricket history. Botham inspired a generation of English cricketers, especially with this feat of him. The all-rounder would be considered one of the most determined personalities in English sporting history. He could uplift his teammates with the ‘never say die’ attitude. As a pacer, Botham was a threat with his fast outswingers in overcast conditions.
He was equally effective with his late seam movements off the pitch. Botham used in-swingers combined with his clever leg cutters that put the batters in two minds. As a batsman, Botham was destructive with his power-hitting as he could change the outcome of a game. Botham generated power with his bottom hand to play the drives and was equally good against the short balls. He scored 5200 runs in 102 Tests with the highest score of 208.
He registered 14 centuries and 22 half-centuries in his Test career. Botham took 383 wickets with the best bowling figures of 8/34 in his Test career. In 116 ODIs, ‘Both,’ as he was fondly called, took 145 wickets with the best bowling figures of 4/31. He scored 2113 runs by registering 9 half-centuries with the highest score of 79 in his ODI career.
#5 Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)
Hadlee was an influential figure for a generation of cricketers from New Zealand. The all-rounder set a fine example with his determined approach on and off the field. Hadlee faced many health issues off the field but fought every challenge with a committed approach. He is involved in a lot of charitable work related to health care. As a pacer, Hadlee adapted well to the conditions he played in and the wickets.
He could swing the ball both ways, even when conditions were not overcast. Hadlee bowled with tremendous pace and generated uneven bounce with his hard-length deliveries, even on flat batting wickets. As a batsman, ‘Sir Paddles’ as he was fondly called could bat at no 6,7 and even 8. Hadlee could play fine backfoot punches and cut the ball well in the gaps. In Test matches, Hadlee showcased excellent temperament to play for longer durations. He took 431 wickets in 86 Test matches with the best bowling figures of 9/52.
He scored 3124 runs by registering 2 centuries and 15 half-centuries in his Test career. Hadlee claimed 158 wickets in 115 ODIs with the best bowling figures of 5/25. He scored 1751 runs by registering 4 half-centuries in his ODI career, with the highest score of 79.
#4 Ben Stokes (England)
Benjamin Andrew Stokes has been an influential figure for the three lions for the last 7-8 years. The burly all-rounder has always delivered for his side during critical moments. Stokes is a tough character and never surrenders without a fight. The left-hander is a powerful striker when it comes to his batting. He can smash any bowling line-up on his day with his destructive hitting abilities.
Stokes can pack a punch with his powerful bottom hand as he can clear the boundaries by hitting down the ground and is equally powerful against length balls which he hits over extra covers. Regarding his bowling, Stokes can outsmart the batters with his late movements off the pitch and his later outswingers. The pacer can hit the deck hard and is penetrative with his reverse swing.
He has scored 5602 runs in 89 Tests by registering 12 centuries and 28 half-centuries with a highest score of 258. He has claimed 193 wickets with the best bowling figures of 6/22 in his Test career. In 105 ODIs, Stokes scored 2924 runs with a highest score of an unbeaten 102 by registering 3 centuries and 21 half-centuries. He claimed 74 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5/61 in his ODI career. He surprised everyone by announcing his retirement from the limited-overs format in 2022.
#3 Imran Khan (Pakistan)
Perhaps one of the best all-rounders and captains in Pakistan’s cricketing history, Imran Khan was an influential figure for thousands of Pakistani cricketers during his time. The legendary cricketer led the team with a determined resolve helping the team win the limited overs world cup in 1992. The all-rounder was a champion bowler in breaking partnerships with his seaming deliveries and his line outside the off stump.
The former skipper was the master of reverse swing, as he could trap even a well-set batter with his swing and pace. As a batsman, the right-hander always delivered when his side needed it. Even if his team was under pressure, Imran played his natural game by taking on the opposition bowlers. He took 362 wickets in 88 Tests with the best bowling figures of 8/58.
He scored 3807 runs with the highest score of 146 in his Test career by registering 6 centuries and 18 half-centuries. In 175 ODIs, the former skipper claimed 182 wickets with the best bowling figures of 6/14. He scored 3709 runs with the highest score of an unbeaten 102 by registering 1 century and 19 half-centuries in his limited-overs career.
#2 Kapil Dev (India)
The “Haryana Hurricane”, as he is fondly called, brought a big change in Indian cricket when his team won the world cup for India in 1983. He made the people of India understand that sports can also be a source of the profession. Kapil Dev was instrumental in inspiring a generation of Indian cricketers. The former skipper showcased tremendous adaptability in various conditions as far as his bowling was concerned. The all-rounder surprised the batters with his pace and bounce.
He often used outswingers in overcast conditions like in England and bowled fast back-of-length deliveries on wickets like in Australia. As a batsman, Kapil Dev was always a batsman who stood tall when the rest of the batters. His fighting spirit and his determined approach were praised worldwide. The right-hander effectively pulled even hard-length short balls on fast wickets, and his drives were powerfully driven.
In 131 Tests, he scored 5248 runs with the highest score of 163, registering 8 centuries and 27 half-centuries. He claimed 434 wickets with the best bowling figures of 9/83 in his Test career. In 225 ODIs, the former skipper scored 3783 runs with the highest score of an unbeaten 175 by registering 1 century and 14 half-centuries. He claimed 253 wickets in his ODI career, with the best bowling figures of 5/43.
#1 Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
Undoubtedly one of the legendary all-rounders in world cricket, Kallis was part of the Proteas team. He would be considered amongst the best-ranked South African outfits of all time. The all-rounder did the job for his side whenever his team required it. The right-hander showcased solid technique when batting against some of the best sides. His adaptability was simply amazing as he adapted well in both formats (Test & ODI) when it came to holding the innings from one end.
His elegant strokeplay and powerful back-foot punches helped him score big runs. Kallis would also be considered one of the most consistent performers for South Africa with both bats as well as the ball. The all-rounder bowled right-arm medium fast and hit the deck hard to catch the batters off guard with his pace. Kallis moved the ball well with his clever seam movement. He scored 13289 runs in 166 Tests by registering 45 centuries and 58 half-centuries with a highest score of 224. He averaged 55.37 in his Test career, which is quite amazing.
He took 292 wickets with the best bowling figures of 6/54 in the longer format. He scored 11579 runs in 328 ODIs by registering 17 centuries and 86 half-centuries with an average of 44.36 and a highest score of 139. he took 273 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5/30 in his ODI career.
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