Arguably no category of players in cricket is more valued than all-rounders. With their ability to perform with both bat and ball in hand, all-rounders are a premium asset for any team.
Their presence in an XI opens up a wealth of options with regards to the team’s balance. For any captain, playing an extra bowler or batsman becomes less of a headache if there is an all-round player available to him.
The perfect all-rounder is is extremely talented in both departments, but such types of players are rare and very hard to come by. Most excel particularly in one department, while being able to do a decent job with the other.
Below, we have attempted to rank the top eight all-rounders in the Test format currently by separating them into four tiers. Performances over the last three years have been given greater consideration.
Roston Chase (West Indies)
Roston Chase was always a batsman first who could bowl a bit before his senior West Indies debut, and the Barbados man’s Test career so far has lived up to that reputation. While he has certainly had his moments with the ball for the West Indies, Chase’s best displays have largely come with the bat.
In what was only his second Test appearance of his career, Chase became the fourth Windies player in history to perform the double of a century and a five-wicket haul in the same match. That Test display came against India in 2016, and since then the all-rounder has four more tons to his kitty.
His batting average is just a little over 31, while his average with the ball stands at 42.14 after 33 Test appearances. His off-spin can become a big threat when the conditions align in his favour, as shown by his innings return of 8-60 against England last year.
Ravichandran Ashwin (India)
The India stalwart is primarily an off-spinner, though his batting performances down the order warrant a selection as an all-rounder too.
Unfortunately, his batting contributions over the last few years have dried up considerably. The last of his four Test tons came all the way back in 2016 and he has not even managed a half-century since 2017.
While his batting stock has taken a big hit of late, Ashwin remains a force with the ball in hand. His off-spin has been absolutely essential to India’s Test fortunes and has been a big reason behind their formidable home dominance.
Batting and bowling averages of 28.10 and 25.43 respectively do reflect well on Ashwin’s credentials as an all-rounder.
Colin de Grandhomme (New Zealand)
As far as consistency goes, Colin de Grandhomme scores highly with his performances for New Zealand since his debut in 2016. He performs a very specific role for New Zealand, and does it adequately on most occasions. Arriving in the middle-order after the batting mainstays of the team, de Grandhomme is adept at furthering New Zealand’s cause with a quick-fire 30 or 40. He holds a batting average of over 37 after 24 appearances, but it’s his strike-rate of nearly 82 which is most impressive.
Four fifties and a ton against the West Indies have come from the bat of de Grandhomme in 36 innings. Although he is a handy batting asset to have in the middle-order, the right-hander also does a more than admirable job with the ball. His medium pace is particularly effective in New Zealand’s swinging conditions and returns of 67 wickets at an average of approximately 31 are impressive to say the least.
Chris Woakes (New Zealand)
Although his batting output has decreased drastically in the past year or so, Chris Woakes remains an integral part of England’s Test set up. There is no denying that he is at his best in the comfort of home, with his ability to swing the ball coming to the fore in England.
His bowling average at home is close to 22, but it does drop to a poor 51 when playing overseas. The fact that his batting average has dropped to lower than what he averages with the ball (29.41) is not really a ringing endorsement of his all-round credentials. He definitely can bat though, as evidenced by his century against India in 2018.
However, his recent disappointments with the bat for England means he does not feature in a tier higher than three in this list.
Ravindra Jadeja (India)
As a specialist bowler alone, Ravindra Jadeja is in the elite bracket of spinners currently operating in the Test format. Since the beginning of 2017, he has picked 102 wickets at a better bowling average (25.41) than the likes of Nathan Lyon and Ravichandran Ashwin have managed over the same period.
While his left-arm orthodox spin has always been on point previously, it is Jadeja’s growing contributions with the bat that has really propelled his status. After registering his maiden Test ton in 2018 against the West Indies, the southpaw added five more fifties to his tally in the following year. He was always expected to be effective with the bat after registering three triple tons in first-class cricket, although it is only recently that those qualities have come to the fore at the international level.
He probably would have featured in the top tier if not for the presence of two generational talents ahead of him.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Granted he is still serving a one-year suspension from international cricket, but Shakib Al Hasan’s credentials as a quality all-rounder remain unblemished. Five tons including a double century in New Zealand speak volumes of Shakib’s rising stature as a batsman in recent years.
His suspension probably came at the worst stage with the Bangladesh star just starting to stamp his authority as a specialist batsman. He has always been a dependable bowler for his country with his left-arm spin, and is particularly productive in subcontinent conditions.
Nearly 4,000 runs and over 200 wickets puts Shakib in a really elusive club among the current all-rounders in the world. He still has a few years of cricket left in him and will be desperate to show his class upon his impending return to cricket.
Jason Holder (West Indies)
Stokes might have stolen the thunder as well as the No1 ranking in the recent Test series, but Jason Holder is not far behind with his equally impressive resume.
While Stokes is more of a batting all-rounder who can also bowl, Holder is the opposite with a greater emphasis on his bowling. He has been an absolute monster with the ball in his last 14 Tests which have fetched 63 wickets at an average of only 16.74.
Despite often coming in at No8, the Windies skipper is a more than capable batsman with three centuries including a double ton to his credit. It is a tough choice choosing between Holder and Stokes as the top Test all-rounder, with players meriting the accolade on the basis of their recent performances.
If Holder can make a slightly greater impact with the bat, there is absolutely no debate.
Ben Stokes (England)
Even Ben Stokes could not have dreamed of a better script than the one that has unfolded for him in the past 12 months or so. From being dropped from the squad for disciplinary reasons to winning the World Cup for England on home soil, it has been a fairytale story for the New Zealand-born all-rounder.
Success has followed him in the Test format as well after his Ashes heroics in Headingley bolstered his superstar status. He’s been compared to Ian Botham and that type of praise will continue after the recent form he displayed against the Windies.
In 2020 alone, the Englishman is impressively averaging more than 70 with the bat and just over 20 with the ball in hand. As a ‘captain’s dream’ and a cricketer in the form of his life, Stokes is completely deserving of his No1 ICC ranking as an all-rounder currently.
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