Cricket’s 5 Greatest All-Rounders

We pay tribute to the best all-rounders cricket has ever seen.

Ageas Bowl cricket stadium in Southampton

Cricket has many formats these days but it generally boils down to a game of bat against ball with many players highly-skilled at batting or bowling.

However, some of the sport’s greatest names have been adept at both. Here we pay tribute to the best all-rounders cricket has seen.

5. Andrew Flintoff

As a hero of the 2005 Ashes triumph, ‘Freddy’, as he is affectionately known, could arguably be higher on this list but those who thrived over a longer period of time deserve their loftier status in the pecking order. 

The England star mainly did his best work over a short spell in the 2000s with the pinnacle being his efforts during the memorable summer of 2005 when England finally won back the Ashes after an almost 20-year wait.

Flintoff was top dog with bat and ball during that series, reaching levels the Australians found too hot to handle. 

A fast bowler capable of speeds in excess of 140kms per hour, Flintoff took 226 wickets at an average of 32.78. He was also a bludgeoning batsman capable of some decent scores, often knocked off at pace.

He averaged a modest 31.07, including five centuries and 26 half-centuries. 

However, his general persona as ‘one of the lads’ makes him a much likeable character and his presence in the dressing room and on the field also helped lift the England team to great heights.

4. Kapil Dev

India’s greatest all-rounder deserves his place here largely due to his longevity in the game.

Dev had a prolific Test career spanning 16 years in which he was championed as a consistent bowler and a hard-hitting batsman, and rightly so.

He became just the second bowler in the history of the game to take 400 wickets, surpassing Richard Hadlee’s world record in his final test, to finish with 434 wickets at an average of 29.64.

With the bat, he averaged 31.05 in a career which included eight centuries and 27 half-centuries. He is fondly remembered for 175 not out against Zimbabwe at the 1983 World Cup, where Dev came in and saved India from what would have been a huge shock following a miserable start to the match.

India would go on to win the tournament in a huge upset over the two-time defending champions West Indies, with Dev being the key figure in the tournament.

He was voted India’s player of the century in 2002, usurping fellow legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar.

3. Ian Botham

Another Ashes legend, ‘Beefy’ has to be in the list just because…well, just because. He may not have the best figures but he is famous the world over for his cricketing prowess, his skills in the commentary box, his phenomenal fund-raising and his, err, footballing talents.

Sir Ian, Knighted in 2007, is best remembered for his Ashes heroics in 1981 when England won 3-1 in a series dubbed ‘Botham’s Ashes’. He excelled with bat and ball that summer, but it is his knock of 149 not out at Headingley which became the stuff of legend.

He averaged just 33.54 with the bat in his career, but still plundered 14 centuries and 22 half-centuries with his hard-hitting style that saw him achieve a strike rate of 60.71.

As a bowler, he took 383 wickets at 28.40, while his efforts off the pitch have to secure him a place on this list.

Botham has raised over £12m for charity through a series of long-distance walks and it would be remiss not to mention his football career which took in spells at Yeovil Town and Scunthorpe United.

He truly can be classed as a genuine all-rounder.

2. Jaques Kallis

An unlikely name to slot it at number two but Kallis has to feature as he is unquestionably the greatest all-rounder of the modern era based on figures alone.

Kallis would also feature highly on a list of just batsmen with the South African great averaging 57.02 with the bat, including 41 centuries and 55 half-centuries, an average which remains the highest of any current player, including superstars Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid. 

However, Kallis was also lethal with the ball, his relaxed style helping him to 274 wickets at an average of 32.51, figures that would be good enough to make many international sides as a bowler in the current game and worthy of such a lofty spot in this compilation.

1. Garfield Sobers

Sobers remains arguably the greatest of the lot because of his skills in all areas of the game.

The West Indies legend could bowl both fast-medium and spin but was also a batsman of breathtaking quality.

Taking 235 wickets at an average of 34.03 for the Windies he was a top bowler but he really made his name with the bat and is widely acknowledged as one of the all-time greats.

His average of 57.78 is the 10th-best on the all-time list and compares with any batsman in the history of the game.

Only Australian legend Sir Donald Bradman can hold greater claims.

Sobers scored 26 centuries and 30 half-centuries, including the 365 not out he scored in 1958 against Pakistan. It still ranks as the fifth highest score ever in test cricket, and it was a long-standing world record until broken by compatriot Brian Lara in 1994.

A West Indies captain for many years, Sobers has always been rated as one of the greatest ever cricketers and he is fully deserving of his place at the head of this list.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.
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