Here we are, at the second edition of the Best of the Best All-Rounders, and after talking about some most obvious names of the game, let’s continue with a few more mavericks. The debate was kick-started the last time and the list will grow ahead with the name of India’s best player in that arena, Kapil Dev
Kapil ‘Paa-ji’ is one of a kind, holding his place at a high summit of cricketing mountains with the distinction of being the only cricketer to have amassed 4000 Test runs and taken 400 Test wickets too. Take that other all-rounders! The ‘Swinger of out-swingers’ is the lone all-rounder who is there in the list of All-Time Top 10 wicket takers and also in the Top 10 run scorers for his country.
He had an elegant bowling action but a brutal batting style, an answer to the rampaging West Indian team of the 80s. Always a team player, Kapil lead India to its iconic World Cup victory in 1983 and is Wisden’s Indian Cricketer of the Century.
Moving on from him, we come to Richard Hadlee, the Kiwi etched his names on cricket’s wall of history by becoming the first man to claim 400 Test wickets. He grew into one of the most handy fast bowlers cum bat as his career grew, becoming the mainstay of New Zealand’s fabric. The Black Caps owe their entry and sustenance to the Test arena chiefly due to him. Taking his record Test wickets, he required just 79 matches and his retirement in 1990 was also at the helm of his game.
His Kiwi successor in the Zeecric list is the maverick who grew into a senior and reliable figure, Chris Cairns. Retired in 2006 with more than 3000 Test runs and 200 wickets, he was the main voice of reason that brought the ugly players’ strike in 2002. Even though he had injury problems for a considerable part of his career, his distinctive aggressive batting and colourful persona makes him a name worth recalling. A man who hit straight sixes for pleasure, Cairns will always be remembered among those few all-rounders whose presence in the dressing room gave a sense of security to the skipper at the beginning of the match.
When we talk about all-rounders, only a few biased lists would dare to go without the name of South Africa’s Jaques Kallis, for he has earned his place with grit and sweat. His batting is besotted with a defence technique that is as good as gold and his accurate fast deliveries make him a captain’s delight. He has often carried the weight of Proteas on his powerful shoulders and his disposition even forced Australian great Steve Waugh to say, “We’ve tried everything against this guy, but we can’t find a weakness in his game.”
And by the way, he is the only cricketer to have scored more than 10,000 runs, scalped 250 wickets and caught 100 victims in Tests.The last name in this edition of the series does not boast of even a hundred Test wickets (just 98) or 10,000 Test runs. Nor does the name bring forth solid defence or elegant shot-making. What works in the guy’s favour though is 13,000+ ODI runs, 300+ ODI wickets and a presence that sends shivers down the spines of the best bowlers in the game, irrespective of the pitch or the situation of the match. The name is Sanath Jayasuriya.
Few would doubt that the Sri Lankans got their hands around the 1996 World Cup solely due to his ruthless slaughter of the world’s cherry wielders, who were hapless against his purple-patch of form. He is one batsman who can hit the best of the deliveries miles outside the stadium with the might of his chiselled forearms and also comes forward as a wily spinner who claims wickets just when they are needed the most.
The list can also include many other names, but the ones discussed here have earned their place with their persistent performances and reliability. One thing that can be safely said is that these men have shaped the sport as we know it today and lent a helping hand to the Tendulkars, Bradmans, Muralitharans, Laras, Borders and Pontings of the world to attain immortality.
First Published: 3/17/2010 9:43:34 AM