With the evolution of cricket that has witnessed the sport undergoing countless changes which have made the sport indiscernible for the firebrands of the bygone decades, an important aspect that has now been a heady factor in making the cut for the national team is one’s multi-dimensional ability irrespective of the fact that it is a Test, ODI or T20.
Gone are the days when the concept of specialized batsmen and bowlers used to be predominant. In the current day scenario, a player is deemed as much more worthy if he is capable of adding a bit of everything to the platter.
At least, the longer format of the sport still used to be prone towards fielding the specialists in a singular discipline unless players like Ravindra Jadeja and Ben Stokes started commanding the sway. This story will be about the eleven best ‘3D’ cricketers, better defined as all-rounders in red-ball cricket.
A few picks may not necessarily be what you would expect them to be, however, you can always feel free to let us know about your favourite choices.
Sanath Jayasuriya and Shane Watson
Jayasuriya was one of the most aggressive batsmen of all time and his towering presence at the ace of the Sri Lankan pecking order always left the bowlers scarred and scared. His exquisite stroke-play and his capability to get on top of the ball allowed Sri Lanka to dart for the big scores without much wait. He was also one of the most enduring batters for the Lankans that bore witness to his incredible figures of 6973 runs at an astonishing average of 40.07. His batting heroics in Test cricket also featured an incredible 340 as his career-best which also had the shine of 14 centuries next to his moniker. Though he wasn’t a regular bowler in Test cricket, yet he managed to claim 98 Test wickets which are more than India’s regular fast bowler, Venkatesh Prasad. He also managed to register two fifers in Test cricket with his best bowling figures being 5 for 34. He was also an efficient fielder that saw him pouching 78 catches.
Shane Watson has been one of the best all-rounders that Australia offered to the longest format of the sport. He was not gracious but he was a killer in all three disciplines of the game. With the bat, he managed to register 3731 runs at a fine average of 35.19. He was successful in scoring 4 centuries with 176 as his career-best. He was successful in picking up three five-wicket hauls with his best bowling figures being 6 for 33. He was also a decent fielder in the Australian echelons with 45 catches.
Jacques Kallis, Chris Cairns, Gary Sobers, Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev
Jacques Kallis is an absolute monster of a cricketer. Bedecked with those burly shoulders that emanated inhuman power behind those gracious strokes and those menacing toe-crushers, Kallis undoubtedly can be touted as the best all-rounder of all time. A rock in the South African batting unit that bore witness to telling brilliance that this man imposed upon his counterparts, Kallis also managed to lead South Africa for a limited span of time. In a span of 166 Test matches, he managed to amass 13,289 runs at an astonishing average of 55.37. His bowling figures are better than countless bowling icons in the longer format of the sport as he managed to claim 292 scalps at an extraordinary bowling average of 32.65. He also registered 5 fivers in his Test career that featured a career-best of 6 for 54.
Chris Cairns is very difficult to be categorized as a bowling or batting all-rounder. He was eminent in all the disciplines of the sport and displayed some incredible performances to climb the rungs of the ladder. He was a major game-changer for the Kiwis but somehow lost his track midway and also lost himself in the middle of the new generation of New Zealand cricket. Despite his limited sojourn in Test cricket he still managed to play 62 Test matches that saw him garnering 3320 runs at a brilliant average of 33.53 which also witnessed him smacking 5 blistering tons. He chronicled a monumental 158 as his career-best and recorded 13 fivers which also starred his best bowling feature of 7 for 27. Though his contribution in the field isn’t really summed up in the numbers, he was a decent fielder who would not hesitate to go sprawling on the ground if the ball demanded him to do so.
Sir Garfield Sobers was one of the most iconic monikers to have graced the sport for the West Indies. Though we are more acclimatized to his brilliant batting prowess, he was a terrific all-rounder who left an indelible mark in the longest format of the sport. As we are all aware of the burning brilliance that he registered for himself with the willow in hand, his numbers read a whopping 8032 runs from 93 Test matches at an astonishing average of 57.78. He clobbered 26 Test centuries that also featured the insane knock of an unbeaten 363. Alongside his batting heroics, Garry Sobers claimed 235 Test wickets at a bowling average of 35.03. He claimed six five-wicket hauls which comprised the brilliant 6 for 73 as his career-best. He was an excellent fielder too that saw him pouching 109 catches.
Ian Botham was another Hercules of the sport that saw him ruling the cricketing roost for quite a while. Not only did he lead England to unrivaled glory, but his presence in the English middle-order was also a nightmare for the opposition. His enviable figures would set the stage ablaze on any given day. He successfully managed to score 5200 Test runs from 102 Test matches that he was a part of, clubbing 14 centuries in the process. His career-best score of 208 was a display of sheer ruthlessness with a few incredible strokes. His bowling figures were the talk of the cricketing world with 383 Test wickets. His bowling average was a rollicking 28.40 and he was the master of 27 five-wicket hauls. His career-best bowling figures were 8 for 34 and he also managed to bag 120 catches that underline the sheer excellence of Botham in the field.
The current prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan almost single-handedly toted Pakistan to the biggest glory in the forte of white-ball cricket. However, he straddled his towering brilliance in absolutely equal proportions in both formats of the game. He garnered 3807 Test runs from 88 Test matches at an excellent average of 37.69 that saw him striking 6 centuries. He also managed to pick up 362 scalps with the cherry in hand that saw him claiming 23 fivers in the longest format of the sport. He was also successful in chronicling 6 ten-wicket in a Test match, which also features his career-best figures of 8 for 58. He was usually stationed in the deep while he used to field that witnessed him pouching 28 catches.
Kapil Dev Ramlal Nikhanj, the man who left Zimbabwe brutalized from an ineluctable position for India in the 1983 World Cup, was also an imperative architect in India’s glorious transition from the days of being woeful to the ones where India started taking a firm stand for themselves. His exploits in the longest format of the game needed some telling brilliance from Anil Kumble to be finally broken. The man amassed 5248 runs at a decent average of 31.05 from 131 Test matches. He successfully smacked 8 centuries that featured his career-best knock of 163. It was his bowling that catapulted him from the fringes of mediocrity to majestic excellence. He claimed 434 wickets at an average of 29.64. He missed the ten-wicket haul in an inning by a whisker that saw him registering his best bowling figures of 9 for 83. He was a confident fieldsman and was successful in claiming 64 catches in the longer format of the sport.
Daniel Vettori, Wasim Akram and Richard Hadlee
One of my personal favourites in cricket, Daniel Vettori is probably the best New Zealand cricketer to have graced the sport. Though there have been countless debates to dispute this assumption, yet the benign bespectacled bloke from Auckland won countless hearts with his mysterious spin bowling laced with that beautiful smile. He usually used to come out at number 8 or 9 for the Black Caps and yet he has managed to garner 4531 Test runs from 113 Test matches. He hammered 6 centuries that starred his all-time best of 140. His bowling figures were a replica of carnage. With 20 five-wicket hauls, Vettori rocked and rolled the cricketing sodality with some majestic magnificence. His total tally of wickets read 362 with his magnum opus being 7 for 87. He also managed to pick up 58 catches, thereby stamping his authority firmly as a brilliant all-rounder.
The King of Swing, Wasim Akram taught the world how to produce movement even on surfaces that is downright glacial to bowlers. He claimed 414 Test wickets from 104 matches at an astonishing bowling average of 23.62. His insane bowling figures boast of 25 fivers and 5 tenners. His figures of 7 for 119 were a welcome sight to Pakistan that rode on the bowling heroics of this man who paved the way for the Pakistani renaissance. His batting was equally impressive as he garnered 2898 runs at an average of 22.64, which is incredibly high for a man coming out to bat at the number nine position. However, just to stun you all, the cream of his batting flair was an unbeaten 257 that manifested the fact that he was an all-rounder and not a mere fast bowler, plying his trade with the cherry.
Known as one of the grandest and most fearsome fast bowlers of all time, Richard Hadlee laid waste to countless batting line-ups irrespective of the monikers they comprised. The man garnered 431 Test scalps at a magical average of 22.29. More than his enviable bowling figures, it was the grisly impact that he left on the games that made him one of the most vicious monikers in cricket. However, there was one side of him that most of us aren’t pretty accustomed to. He was also a reckoning force with the bat in his hand towards the end of the tail. He scored 3124 runs from 86 Test matches that saw him scoring at a fine average of 27.16. He actually whacked 2 centuries and 15 half-centuries out of which he blasted an unbeaten 151 to climb up the pecking order with the bat. He also came close to the magical mark of a tenner in a single innings that saw him claiming 9 wickets for a paltry 52 runs.
Of course, there are a few notable mentions that we couldn’t add to this incredible list of towering monikers. Players like Keith Miller, Andrew Flintoff, Richie Benaud, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi, Geoffrey Boycott, Nathan Astle, Lance Klusener, Craig McMillan, Chris Harris, Abdul Razzaq and Shane Warne were eminent visionaries of the sport in all three dimensions. However, in order for them to be incorporated, we will need a much bigger list. If you would be interested in the same, please do let us know.