November 15, 2006

Who is the greatest allrounder of all time?

Andrew Miller

Welcome to the Greatest Allrounder Site blog, in partnership with VW Touareg. This is where you will be able to tell us who you believe is the greatest of the great. We hope to generate some fruity debate and we will also be doling out a range of prizes for the best comments made over the coming months. So keep those thoughts flowing in.

So let's kick this whole thing off. Who is the greatest allrounder of all time? Personally, I think the title belongs to one of three people. Garry Sobers, Imran Khan and Ian Botham – three men who were not only outstanding in each of their disciplines, but also had that indefinable ability to impose their will on a match, at any stage of a match. Sobers did it through being a sheer colossus with bat and ball, Imran by being a mighty leader of men (and a World Cup winner to boot), and Botham … well, he was just a reckless, rampant force of nature.

Of the three, Sobers might edge it on pure cricketing ability, but Imran has an extra edge because of his captaincy credentials, and Botham is unparalleled as a matchwinner. Maybe you agree, more likely you don't. But let the debate commence. Who knows, by the end of this winter, there might even be a new contender. If Andrew Flintoff can captain England to victory in the Ashes, while excelling with bat, ball and in the slip cordon, who could deny him the right to join the top table?

Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazine

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Posted by Anonymous on (August 8, 2008, 16:58 GMT)

Jacques Kallis 237* wickets @ 31.36 9750* runs @ 56.03

Better than any all rounder... ever. Numbers don't lie. All other nominations are merely opinions and hot air.

Posted by Frank Beeston on (March 29, 2007, 17:03 GMT)

To decide a debate like this you need to look at statistics. On this basis alone Imran Khan stands above all.

To those who say that statistics does not reflect a true picture, then lets look at achievements:

Imran Khan literally created reverse swing and put the swing in swing bowling, was robbed of the best 2 years due to injuries and even still his bowling stands out, he took the game against the mighty windies when teams were simply being rolled over, captained a side that should have been out in the first round yet he enstilled such belief that they won the world cup. All this and of course, was averaging 50 with the bat during the last 10 years of his career.

And if that's not enough, simply ask Sir Richard Hadlee and Richie Benaud who both sate Imran is the best all rounder the world has ever seen

Posted by vinay on (March 27, 2007, 19:18 GMT)

It has to be kapil dev.look at his performance against westindian team of eighties.he has scored more than thousand runs agaist them at a healthier average than imran and botham.has four centuries against greatest bowling attack of alltime(west indies of eighties and that too in west indies),i dont think imran has ever scored a century against them . Botham was never good against them either with bat or bowl.kapil had a strike rate of almost hundred and has scored some of the fastest fifties in test cricket against the best bowling attacks.kapil dev shouldered the responsibility of indian bowling attack solely and went on to become one of the greatest wicket takers of all time.he was a match winner with bat and bowl unlike imran who dominated more as a great fast bowler.a close look at imrans stats as a batsmen will show that most of his runs have come not against the best bowling attacks.he developed more as a batsmen only in the twilight of his carrer and hardly was a shadow of imran khan the bowler of eighties.imran definitely was a greater cricketer may be the greatest cricketer taken togeher his talent,understanding of the game and ability as a captain but kapil dev definitely was a better allrounder.

Posted by Paul Shearsmith on (March 26, 2007, 23:55 GMT)

200 wickets and 2000 runs in a season. George Hirst.

Posted by Robert Davis on (March 26, 2007, 14:43 GMT)

I think one has to look at people like Keith Miller and Wilf Rhodes. Thanks to all those who have looked at the stats but there are intangibles that are more important. What of big match temperament? What of being able to turn a match with bat or ball? What of fielding and captaincy? Fact is, the greatest 2 of all time are Grace and Sobers, but many others make a case. Procter and Clive Rice are not to be ignored but how good were they? We don't know. Botham lost it later in his career; Hadlee and Kapil Dev weren't such consistent batsmen; Kallis is a batsman who bowls. And look at Frank Woolley's stats as well as Wally Hammond's! They took unbelievable amounts of wickets; what of George Hirst? I think the list will end up too biased towards the moderns.....

Posted by Veeraraj Urs B.C. on (March 26, 2007, 7:10 GMT)

Being a cricket allrounder ia about the ability to do everyting in cricket, batting, bowling and fielding. Players would have to be assessed by their abilities to excel in all the three and if there are other cricketing considerations put them all in and lo comes the best of them. It is cricketers worth their salt who alone shall say who the best allrounder is. Sobers could bat and how? He had all the strokes in the book and played with the finesse matched only by the greatest of batsmen of all time. He could bowl spinners, fast ones, just about every variety there is. He excelled in fielding at every position including the specialist positions like slip, point and covers. He could keep wickets. He is the Kohinoor. Botham excelled in all three departments of the game. So did Kapildev after him. Imran hid himself while fielding and it was easier for him as the captain of the team. Hadlee wasn't in the same league as the top three in fielding. So that essentially takes away the two men's candidature for the best allrounder tag. Hadlee was the best fast bowler of all with Imran follwoing. Botham and Kapil took what little they gave to these two men in fast bowling in batting. It is their fielding and natural flair for the game that tilts the scale in their favour. Yeah, Imran and Hadlee had/has better cricket in their heads than the other two which the other two will take away with their flair. So it is the fielding thing all over again. When Jacques Kallis hangs up his boots, he might end up edging out one or more of the two-to-five- ranked men and I wouldn't be surprisd if he gets the second billing. He is close on the heels of the number four and five -Imran and Hadlee.

Posted by naushad on (March 23, 2007, 13:57 GMT)

Imran Khan had a certain knack of leading men from the front. Mind you this were hard to manage men, unpredictable and very different group of individuals where discipline was not one of the virtues. By sheer personality force He changed match results. By being in the feild, Imran was inspirational. He was the best of all times. Leader of men. Botham was no comparison. Botham did not garner opposition respect like Imran. Sobers was great but not the geatest. Even in cricketing abilities Iman blew all competition away. No debate here.

Posted by Slaton on (March 17, 2007, 15:05 GMT)

Interesting. Sobers by a canter. comparing the stats of all you see something interesting. Many argue about performances and forget to actually compare each players placement on the individual lists as cricketers. The fact is that the top three by any measure have to be Sobers, Khan and Botham. They would figure high on all charts. With Sobers being a Top twenty batsman and the others rating higher than him in bowling. However, he was not a slouch with the ball nobody taking 235 wickets with three! different styles of bowling a feat which has yet to be duplicated. Interestingly he first made the West Indies team as a bowler and it was not until later in his career he signaled his dominance with the bat. In the field he was brilliant anywhere especially as a close in catcher but was noted as one of the great cover fielders. The fact is both Imran and Bothan were ok batsmen averaging below 40. They bowled only one style which allowed them to keep their average below thirty.Imran was an ok fielder. Botham took more catches than Sobers but without Sobers versatility and in more Tests than Sobers played. There is more I can say but at the end of the day Sobers is the model of each style of batting, bowling and fielding. The rest of them were merely good bowlers, good batsmen or good fielders

Posted by ayaaz habib on (March 14, 2007, 11:48 GMT)

it is a close decision among the 3 but i would go with imran khan to be the best...his batting and bowling averages are better than kapil dev.he didnt score as many runs as sobers but thrashed him by a big margine when it comes to test wickets...imran was just not an all rounder of the greatest aura,talent and charisma but also the captain who won his country the 92 world cup!!there is no doubt inmy mind that the other two contenders are great but not as good as imran's caliber and i dont even think it is considerable to compare botham with imran as imran was more famous in england than botham and also his test records with both bat and ball out class him(no offense!)he also paved way for the all time greats of cricket like inzi and wasim and other fast bowling talent like akhtar and waqar younus....clearly imran's on top!

Posted by Chirag S on (March 12, 2007, 11:22 GMT)

I believe that the greatest allrounder in the history of cricket is none other than Kapil Dev.He has taken 434 test wickets, has an average of 31 with the bat and has a highest ODI score of 175*. The fact that he was a great leader is proved by India's first and only World Cup win in 1983, against Clive Lloyd's great West Indian team. He has changed the face of World Cricket.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007

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