XI: Picking a Team of Cricket's Greatest All-Rounders

Alex Telfer@@troyspeerFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2013

XI: Picking a Team of Cricket's Greatest All-Rounders

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    The lesser ones can get pigeon-holed as bits-and-pieces cricketers, but the very best are worth their weight in gold and are the most sought-after commodity in cricket.

    We're talking, of course, about genuine all-rounders.

    And not just one or two. This is a full working XI comprised of some of the best all-rounders in the history of the game.

    With a combined total of 3263 matches, 122009 runs and 4561 wickets at international level alone, they would surely be unbeatable.

    In fact, the biggest problem about facing this team would be for the scorers trying to fit 10 bowlers' details in their scorebooks.

1. Wilfred Rhodes

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    Matches: 58

    Runs: 2325

    Wickets: 127

    Although his international stats perhaps don't suggest it, Wilfred Rhodes is one of the great all-rounders in the history of cricket.

    Famously starting his career as primarily a slow left-arm bowler and a traditional No. 11 batsman, the Yorkshireman worked his way up England's batting order, eventually forming a successful opening partnership with Sir Jack Hobbs.

    Rhodes' first-class haul of 40,000 runs and 4,000+ wickets make him the ideal man to open the innings and take the slow bowling duties.

2. Sachin Tendulkar

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    Matches: 664

    Runs: 34,357

    Wickets: 201

    OK, so Sachin Tendulkar is easily the second weakest bowler in this side, but his mixed bag of deliveries have still produced more than 200 international wickets.

    With the bat, the Little Master's achievements are numerous and well documented. The leading Test run-scorer of all time compiled a century of centuries, including 50 at Test level, and finished with a first-class average of 57.84.

    Tendulkar retired from cricket recently, characteristically bowing out with a score of 74 in his last-ever innings.



3. Jacques Kallis

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    Matches: 512

    Runs: 25,360

    Wickets: 572

    Jacques Kallis has been the stalwart of the South African side for years and would be a redoubtable presence at No. 3 in this team.

    While perhaps not as eye-catching as some of his illustrious peers, the 38-year-old's method has enabled him to maintain an average of 55.44 over 164 Test matches.

    As the years trickle by, some of the pace has gone from Kallis' bowling, but he still has the knack for picking up key wickets and would be a reassuring sight in the slip cordon.


4. Garfield Sobers

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    Matches: 94

    Runs: 8032

    Wickets: 236

    Best known for hitting six sixes in an over in English county cricket, Sir Garfield Sobers has a claim to be the greatest all-rounder of all time.

    Playing in the days before ODI cricket came to the fore, the Barbadian averaged 57.78 with the bat in Test cricket.

    With the ball, Sobers could bowl a variety of styles, but in this side, he would be part of the slow bowling department alongside Rhodes and Tendulkar.

5. Tony Greig

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    Matches: 80

    Runs: 3868

    Wickets: 160

    Iconic commentator Tony Grieg sadly passed away in 2012 but would be a formidable personality for the all-rounders XI.

    As described by espncricinfo, the South African-born Greig was arguably the most complete cricketer in the game for a period in the mid-'70s.

    He went on to play 58 Test Matches for England, 14 of which were as captain, but his international career was cut short by his involvement with Kerry Packer's World Series cricket.




6. Ian Botham

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    Matches: 218

    Runs: 7313

    Wickets: 528

    Most cricket fans have seen the highlights of Ian Botham's performance in the Headingley Ashes Test of 1981 many times and the legendary England all-rounder would be the fulcrum of this side.

    Beefy's big-hitting batting, lethal swing bowling and flypaper hands at slip were there for all to see, but he also brings relentless self-confidence to the team. 

    A genuine match-winner on the pitch, he would be a useful character to have in the bar afterwards, too.


7. MS Dhoni

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    Matches: 357

    Runs: 12,717

    Wickets: 1

    Alongside Jacques Kallis, MS Dhoni is the second of the two current players picked for the all-rounders XI.

    Arguably the best finisher in ODI cricket today, India's captain seems to go from strength to strength with his imperious leadership skills guiding his country to a bounty of trophies.

    While both are a safe pair of hands behind the stumps and significant willow wielders also, Dhoni gets the nods over Adam Gilchrist solely because of his one international wicket.



8. Imran Khan

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    Matches: 263

    Runs: 7516

    Wickets: 544

    The pick of a golden age of all-rounders, the suave Imran Khan led Pakistan to World Cup glory in 1992 to put the icing on the cake of a stunning career.

    As well as boasting a lethal reverse-swing yorker, the Lahore man's batting was so strong he could have played purely as a run-maker.

    These days, Khan traverses the world of politics in Pakistan and his diplomatic skills make him the ideal choice to captain the all-rounders XI.



9. Kapil Dev

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    Matches: 356

    Runs: 9031

    Wickets: 687

    The all-rounders XI's batting line-up goes on and on and the opposition's will to live would take another blow with Kapil Dev walking out to the middle in the No. 9 spot.

    The big-hitting Indian is primarily a fast bowler, but 11,000 first-class runs and a Test match average of 31.05 tell their own story.

    With the ball, Kapil Dev delivered with pace and swing, making him a dangerous customer for a batsman at any stage of their innings.


10. Richard Hadlee

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    Matches: 201

    Runs: 4875

    Wickets: 589

    Another star all-rounder of the '80s, Richard Hadlee almost single-handedly carried the New Zealand side for large chunks of his career.

    With the ball, his nagging line, combined with surprising pace and bounce, helped him become the first player in Test cricket history to take 400 wickets.

    Sir Richard was no mug with the bat, either scoring more than 12,000 first-class runs in his career with 14 first-class centuries.


11. Wasim Akram

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    Matches: 460

    Runs: 6615

    Wickets: 916

    Handling new ball duties and providing variety with his searing left-arm pace, Wasim Akram completes the all-rounders XI.

    The Pakistani was always a handful throughout the different stages of his career. The raw velocity of his youth slowly gave way to an unbelievable ability to swing and control the ball.

    With more than 400 wickets in Test cricket alone and a healthy batting average of 22.64, the side's tail-end would be a potent weapon.