Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Greatest All Rounder

It's one of the oldest debates in cricket and it has ranged from frothy cold beers in outback pubs when the shearings done, past suburban boundaries where young blokes claimed their current heroes and club sectretaries smiled and talked the greats ... and that's just here in the land of lithe bronzed men with steady smiles and a larrikin wit. The debate can be had among the pink gin set, it can have a calypso backbeat or be delivered with a subcontinental head wobble.

In the land of the long white cloud where men run quick and the sheep try to run quicker, there is no debate. They know their man Paddles is the King.

The world's greatest all rounder. Who is/was he?

Largely by experience, reading, trusting in the opinions of those I trust about such things and on the strength of one innings, Gary Sobers would be my man. The stats always said so - eight thousand runs, two hundred plus wickets and hundred odd catches. His versatility said so - left arm quick, left arm medium swing, left arm spin, field and take catches anywhere. He moved like a ghost - one minute there, next minute ... there.

I've long held this view.

I was flicking through the Hozstat pages in search of quiz questions and the list of allrounders the website proposes drew my attention. Criteria - 1000 runs, 50 wickets, 50 catches and the first thing that struck me was Nathan Astle's name, mid list. Must be something wrong with the criteria, especially since the name Imran Khan was absent.

Not content to accept this and in an effort to qualify what was on show, I decided to make some adjustments using a simple formula. Equating a century being potentially match winning, I allocated one point per run and twenty points per wicket, since a 5fa is as important as a century. Further, I allocated 30 points per catch, as three catches in an innings seemed to me as rare as a century.

Having sorted that, I decided that only players who had taken three catches in an innings, five wickets in an innings and scored a century (not, you understand, all in the same innings) would be included. I made the other criteria, 2000 runs, 100 wickets and 50 catches.

Realising now that players who played before the 1990's, when cricket match programs ballooned, would be disadvantaged, I divided the points tallied by the number of Tests played to give a form of match contribution average. The resultant table was ...

Batsmen who bowled miss out (the Waughs, Simpson, Hammond, Woolley, Walters, Gayle and Jayasuriya) and of course others missed their place on the 3 catches in an innings rule (Kumble, Kapil, Lindwall and even a superstar such as Astle). The three I had the hardest time leaving out were by criteria judgement were Greg Chappell, who was a bit more than a batsman who bowled, Keith Miller on shear guts and glory alone and Shane Warne, who failed by one run to score a Test century. I therefore compromised with myself and included Warne anyway, as a batting average of 25 is all rounder status at 8 or 9.

Bugger me. Look who's on top of the list!


  1. Great stuff, Lango. While I've never had the privilege of seeing Sobers live it's hard to argue there was a better allrounder than he. Kallis is only starting to get the recognition he deserves I feel. Imran obvious, Wasim I think inflated in terms of batting, Beefy obvious for incredible feats with both bat and ball (and mouth) but Warne! No way - I can't accept that, sorry. He could hold a bat but to leave someone like Gilchrist out because he didn't bowl but could keep and bat well, and include Warne when he was just a lower order guy doesn't sit well with me. I think the three catches in an innings is a bit rough! How many allrounders spend time at fine leg rather than the slips when they're bowling?

  2. great to see three genuine wristies there.
    Warne was one no-ball call from a hunj Lefty, does that make a difference: hard not to be parochial!

    is this a glaring omission?

  4. Hell yeah it is! I hadn't even thought of Hadlee! Great list, Lango. I'm sure there'll be more thoughts on this!
    If Hadlee didn't score a century I'll concede on Warne being included..........

  5. Can someone explain to me what Adam Voges' forte is meant to be?

  6. Not an omission Stoph ... Hadlee is a wanker! I played with a guy who had been in Hadlee's team as a junior. I once asked him what it was like to play with Richard Hadlee. He said he didn't know ... it was a pleasure the great man usually kept to himself!

  7. Comparing Warne and Hadlee ... Warne was the better bat, better field and even the better bowler, although hard to compare in style etc. Wouldn't like to face Hadlee on a steamy Brisbane 1st morning but then wouldn't like to face Warne, period.

  8. Great post Lango. Comparing stats from different eras is frought with danger. Covered pitches, better equipment, it all gets a bit apples and oranges.
    I don't agree Warne should be in there as an allrounder and should be excluded because of your criteria alone. To judge a truly great allrounder I think you need to ask yourself "What player would I choose to bat AND bowl for my life?"
    How many on your list Lango would soon disappear?

  9. Cricket is rarely life threatening ... it's far more important than that! Let's see ... on that criteria Nossie, I'd keep:
    Flintoff, Botham, Greig, Imran & Wasim. All blokes who like a scrap but then, I'd have to open up the list again and bring back some others e.g. Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall.
    On Warne, I think you are harsh. 3K at better than 25 earns him all rounder status comfortably.