by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

If you wear shorts, you are a tennis player

Is that the logic going on around these days?  If you wear sneakers, you must be a jogger.  If you have long nails, you’re a monkey.  If your ears stick out, you’re a donkey.

Either that or else the craze for publishing some sports stats in a spreadsheet format is compulsive after the show off here.  However when that compulsion gets so desperate to resort to questionable conclusions, one risks becoming the laughing stock.

Thus it was hilarious to read an article in the Deccan Chronicle, today extolling the virtues of the All-rounder in Indian cricket.  If you’re puzzled as to what was the criteria to be counted as an all rounder, it seems a career 100 wickets and 1000 runs in One Day Internationals (ODI) was assumed.


Why 100/1000 and not 200/2000 or even 150/1500 cannot be understood from that image which is of too low resolution.

So let's try and reconstruct the table of ‘elite’ all rounder.  Here is it.

Now we can understand why!
  • At 200 wicket mark only 2 - Kapil Dev and Harbajan make it. 
  • If you add 2000 run mark only Kapil Dev makes it. 
  • If you make it 150 wickets, Ravi Shastri, Saurav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh don’t make it. 
  • If you add 1500 run mark to it, Irafan Pathan and Harbajan Singh move out.
In short even at 150/1500 mark, only 3 of that 8 cross the bar - Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar and Sachin Tendulkar.  Of this, even my 8-year-old-Sachin-crazy-nephew will not accept Sachin Tendulkar as an all-rounder.  He is actually ROFL when I read it out to him.

First off the presumption that any one who can give a thwack or roll his arms is an all rounder is patently wrong.  Just because
  • Harbajan Singh can hit a 30 or 50 runs when regular batsmen falter doesn’t make him an all rounder. 
  • Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh or even Sehwag can bowl a few overs and pick wickets, when regular bowlers fail doesn’t mean they are all rounders
If we persist with this fallacy, we are just fooling ourselves and performing a great disservice to Indian cricket.  An all rounder should be capable of holding his place in a team (preferably even in a Test team) on his batting and bowling, taken alone, in individuality.

What I mean is that when an all rounder is picked, the team should be confident of dropping either a regular batsman or a regular bowler.  The all rounder should be both the 5th bowler and 5th batsman, with the captain, the team and the public confident about him and instead not be vexed with the problem of whether to pick an extra batsman or a bowler; not be wrenched to decide between 6-1-4 or 5-1-5 combination (that is the batsman-wicketkeeper-bowler combination - and not my original idea - I read it recently somewhere).

To get an even clearer idea, read this article on headache for England team management, when Andrew Flintoff was injured during the Aussie’s Ashes tour of England.  The dilemma was whether to pick Ian Bell the batsman or Steve Harmison the bowler.

Of the above 8 gentlemen, except for Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri, if any one else is injured,  there would be no such dilemma.  Reach for the next bowler in case of Prabhakar, Pathan and Harbajan and howl for a batsman in case of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Yuvraj.


My Michievous Half murmurs, ‘If you wanted to evaluate their actual worth (within the team), shouldn’t the stats comprise the total Indian match stats (runs, wickets and catches) for the period they played versus their own contributions?’


  1. A good thing about statistics is one can justify anything using the "right" data.

    Roger Binny, Mohinder Amarnath....are long forgotten?

    Looks like the author of the article in DC had an itch to write something and get published. All I can do is to laugh at his ignorance and skewing up the facts.

  2. @Zombinowski - now that u mention it, RMH Binny was a real all rounder - too bad he had to play alongside Kapil Dev.

    As for the article, I find it funny that DC has gone ahead and published that, as though 'that' stats is what they expect fm an all rounder.

    Mind you, any other paper or magazine wud hv been OK - but not DC. Why? Because they also own an IPL team and have won IPL championship once!

  3. And if only S. Ganguly had backed himself as a bowler, even though he was skipper, he would have made a much bigger contribution to Indian cricket as an all rounder.

  4. Have to agree. great to see a sensible article on Cricket.


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