The World of Cricket

The World of Cricket

The All-rounder in Cricket

An all-rounder is a cricket player who excels at both batting and bowling. Although all bowlers must bat, and most batsmen end up bowling occasionally, most players are skilled in only one of the two disciplines. Wicket-keepers who are also very good batsmen (such as Adam Gilchrist) are considered by some to be all-rounders.


There is some confusion as to the precise definition that a player needs to fit in order to be considered an all-rounder. The generally accepted criterion is that a genuine all-rounder is someone whose batting or bowling skills, considered alone, would be good enough to win them a place on the team. By this definition, true all-rounders are quite rare, and extremely valuable to a team since they effectively count as two players.

One commonly used statistical rule of thumb is that the batting average of an all-rounder (the higher the better) should be greater than the bowling average (the lower the better). The need to excel in both departments complicates comparison between players, especially when they played under the differing conditions of disparate historical eras. For example, Imran Khan had the exceptional combined Test cricket averages of 37.69 with the bat and 22.81 with the ball; by comparison Keith Miller had 36.97 and 22.97 and; Ian Botham had 33.34 and 28.40 respectively.


The issue is clouded by the many specialist batsmen and bowlers who exhibit some degree of skill in the other department. For example, the Australian bowlers Brett Lee and Shane Warne are good batsmen, but not quite good enough to be selected as a Test batsman in their own right. Debate continues as to whether players in this class, including batsmen who can bowl a few useful overs such as Sachin Tendulkar, are to be considered all-rounders.

VE Walker and EM Grace

Two of the most amazing all-round feats took place within three years of each other in the 19th century.

First, VE Walker of Middlesex, playing for All-England versus Surrey at The Oval on 21, 22 & 23 July 1859, took all ten wickets in the Surrey first innings and followed by scoring 108 in the England second innings, having been the not out batsman in the first (20*). He took a further four wickets in Surrey’s second innings. All-England won by 392 runs.

Next came EM Grace on 15 August 1862. He carried his bat through the entire MCC innings, scoring 192 not out of a total of 344. He then took all 10 wickets in the Kent first innings for 69 runs. However, this is not an official record as it was a 12-man game. In addition, one of the Kent batsmen was missing and he bowled underarm.

Fielding prowess

A further confusion to all-rounder status is added when fielding is considered. Particularly in the modern game great emphasis is put on fielding skills and some exceptional fielders have been considered "all-rounders" by some, Jonty Rhodes being a prime example. If one is to consider all three disciplines then Frank Woolley perhaps stands alone. He is the only player to take 1000 first class catches (excluding wicket-keepers), only Jack Hobbs has scored more first class runs and he took over 2000 wickets at an average of less than 20.

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