All-rounders are essential members of any cricket squad. They can assist the team in finding the correct balance for their playing XI by batting and stitching a critical partnership to add runs on the board or bowling crucial overs to assist their team in defending a total.
A team can only have many bowling options and batting depth if they have quality all-rounders on their side. So here are the top ten greatest all-rounders of all time.
10. England’s Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes, one of the best all-rounders in the world today, is England’s most useful player across all three formats. The 31-year-old is a bowler as well as a batsman, capable of batting against the top bowling lineups while also bowling and breaking vital partnerships.
Ben Stokes has earned the moniker “Clutch Player,” which refers to a player who excels when the team needs it the most. He has saved the team three times: in the 2019 Cricket World Cup Final, in the 2019 Headingly Test match against Australia, and in the 2022 T20 World Cup Final.
With several years left in his international career, the current England Test captain has plenty of time to contribute to English cricket and cement his place in history as one of the greatest all-rounders of all time.
9. Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hassan, who made his debut in 2006, has topped the ICC all-rounder rankings. He has been one of the best players to represent Bangladesh Cricket, appearing in all three formats.
The all-rounder has been a major cause for Bangladesh’s rise from obscurity to a credible threat capable of defeating any of the top test-playing nations. His performance in the 2019 World Cup was a career highlight, as he scored 606 runs in 8 innings, hitting 2 tons and 5 fifties while taking 11 wickets at an economy of 5.39.
8. South African Shaun Pollock
Shaun Pollock has been a South African cricketer since the 2000s, hailing from a country with excellent pace bowlers and all-rounders. During his remarkable career, he set numerous records, including:
- Having the most test centuries while batting at number 9 or below
- Becoming the first test captain to be unbeaten on 99 in a Test inning
- Most ODI wickets at home (193)
- Bowling the most number of maiden overs (313) in ODI history
7. England’s Andrew Flintoff
Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff is the epitome of the term “stats don’t tell the whole story.” After Sir Ian Botham, the Lancashire native was England’s best all-rounder.
From 2003 to 2010, he was a regular in the English team because of his devastating batting and propensity for picking up wickets. The 2005 Ashes were the pinnacle of his career. Flintoff was named the player of the series after hitting 401 runs and taking 24 wickets.
6. India’s Kapil Dev
Rising young talents have filled many of India’s renowned players’ shoes. However, they are unlikely to see a player of Kapil Dev’s calibre.
One of India’s fittest and most disciplined cricketers is a Chandigarh native. In his stellar career, he has never missed a test match due to injury and has never bowled a no-ball.
His 175 not out against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup semi-final is one of the finest knocks in an ICC knockout game. He led a passionate Indian squad to triumph over the mightily powerful West Indies, inspiring India’s future batting prodigy Sachin Tendulkar to play cricket and represent his country.
5, Pakistan’s Imran Khan
Imran Khan, arguably Pakistan’s best all-rounder, started his career at a time when great all-rounders like Kapil Dev, Sir Ian Botham, and Sir Richard Hadlee dominated the sport. He averaged 37 with the bat and 22 with the ball against legends such as Joel Garner, Michael Holding, and Jeff Thompson, as well as batsmen such as Sir Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, and Ian Chappell.
The former Pakistan Prime Minister guided his team to their first and only World Cup victory in 1992, inspiring many Pakistan cricketers to take up the sport.
4. New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee
Sir Richard Hadlee, arguably the greatest bowler to bowl with the new ball, led New Zealand’s bowling department during the 1970s. Among the four all-rounders – Kapil Dev, Sir Ian Botham, and Imran Khan – he had a better bowling average but the lowest batting average.
Sir Richard Hadlee was knighted in 1990 for breaking numerous records, including:
- Becoming the first player in ODI history to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets.
- Taking 9/52 against Australia, he produced the best bowling stats by a bowler in the twentieth century.
- In his career, he took 36 five-wicket hauls, a former record at the time of his retirement.
3. England’s Sir Ian Botham
Sir Ian Botham, hailed as one of England’s finest all-rounders redefined the term “all-rounder” by routinely performing with both the bat and the ball. He played a key role in England defeating Australia in a test match for the first time since 1930. Ben Stokes and Andrew Flintoff carried on his enduring legacy.
You can read more about one of his wonderful all-round performances against England here.
2. South African Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis is regarded as one of the finest all-rounders of the contemporary age, with jaw-dropping records that have experts debating whether he is a batting or bowling all-rounder.
He is the only player in ODI and Test cricket history to have scored over 10,000 runs and taken over 250 wickets. He also had 131 ODI catches and 200 test catches, fitting the bill for an all-rounder.
Kallis was admitted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame in 2020 for his achievements in the game.
1. West Indies’ Sir Garfield Sobers
Sir Don Bradman referred to Sir Garfield Sobers as a “five-in-one cricketer.” The renowned West Indian used to bat, bowl spin and pace and was a reliable fielder who could also keep wickets when needed.
He was the first competitive batsman to hit six sixes and also held the record for the highest test score in Test cricket, scoring an unbeaten 365 against Pakistan. He was also a fantastic bowler, with 235 wickets in 93 test matches.
In 2000, he was selected as one of the five Wisden cricketers of the decade after being knighted in 1974.