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Who is the best all-rounder in Contemporary Cricket ?

The all rounders have always enjoyed special attention in a game, where it is very demanding to be good at bowling and batting. And when someone is equally good at bowling and batting, he must be gifted or outstanding. The deeds of Sir Garfield Sobers, Kapil Dev, Botham, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee, to name a few are the part of the cricketing folklore. While Sir Garfield Sobers still remain the greatest all rounder, the game has ever seen, the foursome of Kapil-Imran-Batham-Hadlee dominated the headlines with their class act during the decade of 80’s in the last century.

Thanks to the plethora of one dayers in the last decade, a number of players were termed as all rounders. But, they were mere bits and pieces player. However one must add that their utility was never in doubt. The likes of Chris Harris, Robin Singh, and Guy Whittal belong to that category.

But, in contemporary cricket, there are only a handful of players, who can be called as ‘genuine’ all rounders. Here the word genuine means the ability to change the complexion of the game, with the sheer display of charismatic bowling or batting or the combination of both. The ability to take 5-wickets in one innings and at the same time the ability to score a sedate or quickfire fifty or hundred, when the team is in trouble.

Notwithstanding Australia’s claim to be the best side in the business and Sri Lanka’s superb performance over the last few years in the shorter version of the game, they don’t have a single quality all rounder. The same goes with the beleaguered West Indies team.

Ajit Agarkar from India has the potential to become a true all rounder, but sadly he hasn’t been able to deliver, too often. There was a lot of hype associated with England’s promising player Dominic Cork. After his excellent performance against West Indies in 1997, he was hailed as the “Next Botham”. Anyway in England, calling anyone as new Botham is not a new phenomenon.

As far as quality all rounders are concerned, Pakistan has two, in the form of Abdur Razzaq and Azhar Mehmood. South Africa has three in form of devastating Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock and Jack Kallis. Also, there is Chris Cairns, the irrepressible Kiwi all rounder. Cairns has come a long way from the erratic performer to the responsible senior in the New Zealand team. He is still moody but no longer temperamental.

Among the above mentioned 6 all rounders, Azhar Mehmood had a fantastic debut against the touring South Africans way back in 1997. However, Azhar has not been consistent inspite of being a regular in the Pakistani squad.

Abdur Razzaq, who had almost made a habit to pose threat to a batsman like Sachin Tendulkar, during the last year’s tri series in Australia, is a highly rated cricketer. Razzaq had stunned the Aussies crowd when he hit McGrath for 5 boundaries in an over ! Later, Razzaq was adjudged Man of the Series for his magnificent display with the bat and bowl. Inspite of his fine performances, these were the early days of his career.

While Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener are potentially good all round talent, they haven’t done justice to their talents. Of course, Pollock possesses a good bat but he comes in news for his bowling skills. The same goes with Lance Klusener whose ability with the ball is beyond doubt, but he too hasn’t been consistent. However his explosive batting compensates for him.

So, the real contest for the best all rounder is between Jack Kallis and the inspirational Chris Cairns. Both are performing exceptionally well in recent times with the bat and ball for their respective teams. Infact, Kallis is among the top 5 bowlers and batsmen list for the year 2000 in one day internationals. Statistics may not be there for Cairns but his performance says it all. How can one forget, the series between West Indies and Australia, where it was Cairns all the way. It was Chris Cairns, who snatched India’s cup at ICC Knock Out trophy in Kenya and gave New Zealand it’s first ever cup victory.

While Kallis is more of method and technique, Cairns is more of flair and instinct. And the element of flair gives him the edge over Kallis. Chris Cairns is also the best all rounder in the eyes of our legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar.

Now, we need your opinion on who is the best all rounder. The debate doesn’t end here. So, quickly send your opinion................