The game of cricket is broadly classified into two categories: red-ball and white-ball cricket. However, if one goes deeper, white-ball cricket has two formats: One-day cricket (the 50-over game) and Twenty-20 cricket.
The recent rise in popularity of T20 cricket has overshadowed that of the ODIs. However, ODI cricket is still very much relevant, and the ODI World Cup, held quadrennially, continues to be the premier competition in white-ball cricket.
On the other hand, Test cricket remains the source of the puritan’s delight. The longest format of the game still judges a cricketer’s true worth, and it still is the dream of every budding cricketer to break into the Test team of his country.
However, very few cricketers fit the bill across all three formats of the game. The pressure of international cricket has forced many cricketers to retire from at least one format of the game. Ben Strokes, the English Test captain who retired from ODIs, is the most recent example.
In this article, we will look at three active cricketers who play well across all three formats of cricket. Let’s get on with the list:
#1 Virat Kohli (India)
Virat Kohli is one of the finest cricketers India has ever produced – there is not an iota of doubt in that. However, his continued relevance in all three formats, even after 12-13 years of international cricket, surprises one greatly.
Kohli is one of the most striking examples showing that one must not bludgeon the ball to be successful in T20 cricket. He remains a clean hitter, and his beautiful cover drives and ability to clear the mid-wicket boundary with the quick movement of his bat while playing at delivered bowled at his pads enthrals the spectators.
There is nothing new to be said about Kohli’s record in the two longer formats of the game. He averages more than 50 in both, handling pace and spin with equal ease. Add his brilliant fielding and experience, and you have a priceless cricketer.
#2 Babar Azam (Pakistan)
Babar Azam is to Pakistan what Kohli is to India – at least to a large extent – and his meteoric rise in less than a decade has won him many fans worldwide. A player with a sound technique, Azam also can clear the ropes without playing rash shots, which is the hallmark of a genuinely great batter.
Azam recently became one of the quickest to surpass 3000 runs in T20 international and hit a wonderful century against England in the same series.
Azam averages slightly below 50 in Test cricket but more than makes up for it with an almost unthinkable average of 61 in ODIs. He is quite adept in playing strokes on the offside and the onside and is a very good fielder. He is also the current skipper of Pakistan in all three formats and remains one of the superstars of world cricket.
#3 Pat Cummins (Australia)
A fast bowler rarely gets the opportunity to lead the Australian Test team, but then Pat Cummins is no ordinary cricketer. Forced to take a long break from international cricket owing to an injury after making his Test debut, Cummins made a strong return to it, cemented his place in the side and eventually went on to become the skipper of the Test side.
He also remains integral to the ODI and T20 teams, and was part of the T20 World Cup winning Australian side in 2021. His bowling average is in the twenties in each of the three formats, which confirms his status as one of the leading bowlers in the world.
Cummins can bowl fast but also has superb control over line and length. He has the delivery, which is bowled from wide of the wicket and leaves the right-hander after pitching on the seam, that continues to trouble the batsmen. He also has a good bouncer that he uses judiciously across all three formats. In addition to the above, he is a very useful lower-order batter that immensely helps the team’s cause.
#4 David Warner (Australia)
David Warner is one of the most experienced Australian cricketers at the moment, with more than a decade of international cricket under his belt. He is also the only opening batter on this list, and the southpaw has enviable credentials across all three formats.
Warner is known for his ability to play the cover drives off fuller deliveries but is quite comfortable playing the hooks and pulls off shorter ones, too.
He has more than 16000 international runs across the three formats with his Test and ODI averages in the mid-forties, quite high for an opener. He is also a World Cup winner in the two versions of white-ball cricket and adds further value to his side with his excellent fielding.
#5 Trent Boult (New Zealand)
Trent Boult is one of the best fast bowlers New Zealand has had and continue to excel in all three formats of the game. The left-armer opens the bowling in Test cricket and is the premier strike bowler the Kiwis have. He is also a very reliable bowler in white-ball cricket and usually does not go for too many runs.
Boult’s ability to move the ball into the right-hander has fetched him a lot of scalps. His wonderful swing-bowling left the English batters on tatters on their home soil in a recent Test series. Boult also has a good bouncer and a great slower delivery that is effective in white-ball cricket.
Boult has more than 300 wickets in Test cricket and averages in the twenties with the ball in each of the three formats. Not since Sir Richard Hadlee have New Zealand had a fast bowler as accomplished as Boult.