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HomeOpinionWho is the currently best all-rounder in Test cricket?

Who is the currently best all-rounder in Test cricket?

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Last Updated on 4 years by Charbel Coorey

Who is the currently best all-rounder in Test cricket? | Who is the best all-rounder? | Test cricket analysis: Who is the best?

“Cut Away. Cut Away for four. What an innings. What a player. Take a bow, Ben Stokes. The Ashes well and truly alive because of one cricketer. And that cricketer is Benjamin Stokes.”

Sound familiar? Such was the commentary of Nasser Hussain, that Ben Stokes’s heroics at Headingley remains forever etched in our minds.

However, most people have probably forgotten that Ben Stokes was also England’s best bowler in Australia’s second innings – with 3-56, from nearly 25 overs. It was his all-round heroics that had earned England an unlikely victory at Headingley.

So, now that we’ve established how important an all-rounder is in cricket, we must ask – who is currently the best all-rounder in Test cricket?

In this article, we will rank the five all-rounders in discussion using three metrics and compare who excels at each metric and who excels overall.

A Test of Character

Statistically, below are the greatest all-rounders using the ICC Top 20 Test Rankings (Min 40 Tests)

Measure 1 – Differences in Batting and Bowling Averages

All RounderBatting AverageBowling AverageDifference in Averages
Jadeja (Rank 1)35.2624.6210.64
Shakib (Rank 2)39.4031.128.28
Holder (Rank 3)32.7226.376.35
Stokes (Rank 4)36.5432.683.86
Ashwin (Rank 5)28.1025.432.67

Using only measure 1, Ravindra Jadeja is statistically the greatest all-rounder. The difference between his batting and bowling average is 10.64. This is greater than any other player who features in ICC’s top 20 rankings for all-rounders and has played more than 40 tests.

However, impact away from home and man of the match performances must also be considered highly. This brings us on to measures two and three.

Who is the currently best all-rounder in Test cricket? | Who is the best all-rounder? | Test cricket analysis: Who is the best?
Who is the best all-rounder in Test cricket? Ravindra Jadeja possesses some great statistics.

Measure 2 – Difference Between Home and Away averages

All RounderBowl Avg Away – Bowl Avg HomeBat Avg Away – Bat Avg HomeThe overall difference
Stokes (Rank 1)+4.01+1.01+5.02
Shakib (Rank 2)-0.14-1.48    -1.62    
Ashwin (Rank 3)-8.64                -1.85-10.49
Jadeja (Rank 4)-13.57              -8.82-22.39
Holder (Rank 5)-19.63              -10.64-30.27

The most significant stat above is that Ben Stokes is the only player with a positive overall difference. His figures away from home are better than at home (both figures are still very respectable).

All four other all-rounders perform worse away from home than at home. Apart from Shakib, the difference is huge in batting and bowling averages.

Players such as Jadeja and Holder struggle with the ball away from home – their bowling averages rise by 13.57 and 19.63 respectively outside their own country.

Who is the currently best all-rounder in Test cricket? | Who is the best all-rounder? | Test cricket analysis: Who is the best?
Who is the best all-rounder in Test cricket? Ben Stokes has been outstanding in recent years.

Measure 3- (Number of MOTM Awards/ Number of games played) *100

PlayerMOTM AwardsNumber of Matches% of matches player was MOTM
Stokes (#1)86312.7%
Jadeja (#2)64912.2%
Shakib (#3)65610.7%
Holder (#4)44010%
Ashwin (#5)7719.9%    

Despite playing the most games, Ashwin does not have the most man of the match awards. He has the worst percentage of matches where he was the player of the match.

Ben Stokes again leads the way in this category. He has an exceptional MOTM % of 12.7. Since his debut, he has been awarded the player of the match once in eight games on average.

His impact is greater than the other four all-rounders on this list. Jadeja is second on the list but none of his MOTM awards came outside Asia. Stokes suffers in this category as well, as his only MOTM award outside of South Africa, England, Australia or New Zealand was in Bangladesh.

This is an area in which players have struggled, with Test and series wins in foreign conditions becoming rare.

Conclusion and Verdict

Ben Stokes is the greatest all-rounder in Test matches currently.

His impact and match-winning performances are far greater than any other player on this list when playing abroad. He is the only player on this list who performs to the same standard in foreign conditions as he does at home.

At times, his foreign performances even exceed home statistics; 258 not out in Cape Town and a man of the match award in Bangladesh being prime examples.

Jadeja has the best statistics overall, but they are skewed towards performances in India. He is possibly the best asset in Asia, along with Ashwin. Shakib has very good statistics both home and away, given the strength of his team outside Bangladesh.

Overall, the tenacity and sheer force of nature of Ben Stokes make him both statistically and impact-wise the best all-rounder in test matches.

Written by Varun Desai. Follow Varun on Twitter today.

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