Who Exactly Constitutes an All Rounder?

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IMarch 23, 2009

In today's cricketing parlance, the word "All Rounder" has become one of a common usage. From the Indian context, 26 years ago when Kapil Dev scored 175 runs against Zimbabwe in the 1983 world cup, his name began to echo as an "All Rounder". Fair enough, for Kapil Dev who entered the game as a full fledged bowler was scoring runs freely much much before this 175.

But now in today's modern cricketing era, each and every player who can bat and if by any chance takes a wicket or two/ or is a bowler and scores a good total, his name is immediately tagged with an all rounder tag.

This makes me wonder as to who exactly is an all rounder? Someone who can ball 10 full quota of overs, take wickets [in essence someone like a full time bowler] and can bat for most part of the overs.

If we take into consideration these two criterion, very few players seem to fit the bill and most of the all rounders are essentially part timers with a few success here and there or bowlers who can bat here and there.

In my opinion, in the recent times, we really don't give a player time to mature and his talent to come forth. If he does well in one match or two, the label gets attached to his resume.

After the all rounder gets attached to him, he is the one who is under tremendous pressure because not only he has to do well what he was initially expected to do but couple it with a performance in the other department as well.

The name of Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan is a good example in this context. He saved India from a loss a few times and Guru Greg decides that he is a perfect all rounder to the Indian cricketing order.

Pathan was promoted up the order so that he could improve his new found game and the fans went crazily behind it. The result was disastrous! Pathan, let alone batting, failed to do well with the ball and seeing his ever downward spiralling graph, the selectors had to drop him.

And Pathan is not the only one who has been branded thus. Given the way the word is being used now, it looks as if any player who can pick the ball or wield the willow gets termed as an all rounder.

In the old days there were very very few players who had the grasp of the game to concentrate on both aspects and do well dually. The same cannot be said about most of the all rounders that we are used to seeing and applauding. Along with evolution of the game, the term seems to have evolutionised as well.