The honour of the best all-rounder in cricket history could be claimed by Garry Sobers, Imran Khan, Ian Botham or Jacques Kallis. Cricket has witnessed some great all-rounders over the years with the likes of Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff, Sanath Jayasuriya, Lance Klusener and many others in the conversation.
The all-rounder is the most valuable asset in the sport as it can bring a good balance to the side. Bowlers who can bat a bit or batters who can bowl are often clubbed as all-rounders but the best all-rounders are those who can make impactful performances with both bat and ball consistently.
Rating the best all-rounder in cricket history across three formats is impossible because of the timelines of the three formats. For example, Sobers only played one ODI while T20 cricket has only existed for two decades. So the ideal way to go about this is to discuss the best all-rounder in each format.
- 1 Best all-rounder in cricket history in Tests
- 2 Best all-rounder in cricket history in ODIs
- 3 Best all-rounder in cricket history in T20Is
Best all-rounder in cricket history in Tests
Sir Garfield Sobers was arguably the finest all-rounder the game has ever seen. An elegant batter, Sobers is amongst the very best players in cricket history with the bat alone. He played 93 matches for West Indies from 1954 to 1974, scoring 8032 runs at an incredible average of 57.78 with 26 centuries.
As a bowler, he was extremely versatile. He was a skilful medium pacer while also bowling left-arm orthodox spin and wrist spin. He snared 235 wickets in the format at an average of 34.04 with six five-wicket hauls. Sobers had a pretty good List A record with a 38 batting average and below 22 with the ball. He only played one ODI in the twilight of his career but would've been just fine if ODIs were introduced earlier.
Imran Khan will go down in history as one of the greatest cricketers to have played the game for his sheer impact on Pakistan as an all-rounder. Imran, who had an immense aura and talent, popularized the game in his country and brought them huge success from 1971 to 1992.
The right-arm pacer picked 362 wickets from 88 Test matches at a magnificent average of 22.81 with 23 five-wicket hauls. He has a better bowling average than Dale Steyn, who is rated among the best bowlers of all time. Imran Khan also scored 3807 runs with the bat at an average of 37.69, including six hundreds.
The South African all-rounder statistically might be the most prolific player ever. The sheer weight of his numbers and longevity makes Jacques Kallis one of the best all-rounders in cricket history. He represented the Proteas from 1995 to 2014, playing 166 matches in the longer format.
Kallis amassed 13289 runs in Test cricket at an average of 55.37 with 45 centuries. He is third on the list of most runs in Tests behind Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting and has the second-most centuries. With the ball, he picked 292 wickets at 32.65 apiece with five five-fors.
Best all-rounder in cricket history in ODIs
Lance Klusener is regarded as the best all-rounder in cricket history in ODIs for the impact he had on the game. He was the perfect finisher batting down the order, with an ability to clear the ropes with ease. His nagging medium pace complimented Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock well.
His career was cut short by injuries, representing South Africa in 171 ODIs from 1996 to 2004. He made 3576 runs at an average of 41.10 while striking at nearly 90. Klusener picked 192 wickets in the format at 29.95 apiece. He was player of the tournament in the 1999 World Cup, where he claimed 17 wickets and struck 281 runs.
Averages don't quite do justice to the impact Sanath Jayasuriya had during his career that spanned from 1989 to 2011. One of the most feared batters, the left-hander scored at a rapid pace in every form and bulldozed his way through bowling attacks. He amassed 13430 runs from 445 ODIs at 32 average while striking at 91. Jayasuriya was also a very reliable bowler, snaring 323 wickets with his left-arm orthodox spin.
Much like Test cricket, Jack Kallis had excellent numbers as an all-rounder in the fifty-over format as well. He played 328 ODIs in his career, ending with 11579 runs at a very good average of 44.36, including 17 hundreds. With the ball, Kallis took 273 wickets at 31.79 apiece.
Best all-rounder in cricket history in T20Is
|Shakib Al Hasan
Hardik Pandya is the best all-rounder in limited-overs cricket among active players. The likes of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are great T20 all-rounders but haven't done much at the international level. Hardik has played 92 T20Is for India and has scored 1348 runs at an average of 25.43 while striking at nearly 140. Pandya has also taken 73 wickets at 8.16 economy.
Glenn Maxwell is amongst the best players in the shorter format and has an outstanding record in T20 internationals. The Australian has scored 2275 runs at an average of 29.54 while striking at 153, including four centuries. Maxwell, a more than handy off-spinner, has 39 T20I wickets at 7.77 rpo.
Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangladesh all-rounder is one of the underrated players of his time. He is the second-highest wicket-taker in T20 internationals with 140 scalps at 6.79 economy. Shakib Al Hasan has 2382 runs with the bat at an average of nearly 24 and a strike rate of 122.