All-rounders are the most sought-after cricketing talents in today's game. They provide a much-needed balance to their respective teams with their dual proficiency in the art of batting as well as bowling. Some go even a notch higher to bring in their electric fielding skills to provide a complete three-dimensional package of cricketing abilities. Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Ian Botham, Sir Richard Hadley, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, etc. are just a few names in the long list of great all-rounders who have graced the game with their presence.
The World Cup, being the biggest stage in cricket, brings together the crème-de-la-crème of players and bestows upon them the opportunity to become overnight heroes for their respective nations. The all-rounders always have a greater chance of hogging the glory of the biggest stage in cricket because of their multi-dimensional contributions to their team's cause.
In less than a month's time, we will see the best of all-round talents across the cricketing world battling it out for their respective teams on the English pitches. Here, we have compiled a list of top 10 all-rounders to watch out for during the biggest cricket carnival in England and Wales.
1. Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
The former Afghan skipper has been one of the sturdy pillars supporting the growth story of Afghanistan cricket team in the cricketing arena in the past few years. Mature, calm and calculated with the bat while treacherous with his bowling variations, Nabi will again be the pivot around which the whole Afghan campaign will be revolving on the English soil. He will be having his tail up while heading into the World Cup as he has amassed 593 runs at 31.21 runs per inning along with a tally of 28 ODI wickets at a good average of 30.75 runs apiece since the start of 2018. In between, the Afghan all-rounder also played a crucial role in Melbourne Renegades' maiden Big Bash League (BBL) triumph where he contributed both with the bat (228 runs) and ball (eight wickets at just 7.38 RPO). Clearly, the star Afghan all-rounder will be a hot bet during the World Cup season.
2. Marcus Stoinis (Australia)
Stoinis was one of the chief tormentors for bowlers in the eighth season of Big Bash League (BBL) which concluded in mid-February this year. He featured in just 13 innings and smashed a whopping 533 runs at an average of 53.3 runs per inning while opening the batting for Melbourne Stars, the eventual runners-up of BBL 08. He also scalped 14 wickets to round off a wonderful all-round outing in Australia's premier T20 league. The marquee all-rounder has been commendable in the ODI circuit too with a run tally of 618 runs to go with 21 wickets in 25 ODI appearances since the beginning of last year. His aggressive batting along with incisive bowling skills make him a must-watch all-rounder in the World Cup arena.
3. Shakib Al-Hasan (Bangladesh)
The seasoned warhorse from Bangladesh will be featuring in his fourth World Cup this year. With more than 5600 ODI runs and 248 wickets to his name, Shakib is, no doubt, the biggest contribution of Bangladeshi circuit to the World cricket. His reassuring presence gives soothing stability to the Bangladeshi middle-order while his left-arm orthodox spin adds extra teeth to his nation's bowling machinery. Shakib's good form since the beginning of the last year has helped him accumulate 558 runs (at 42.92 runs per inning) in addition to 22 wickets (at 27.09 runs per wicket) from 16 ODI appearances and it is this form, along with his loads of experience, that Bangladesh will be banking upon for their memorable English sojourn.
4. Ben Stokes (England)
Arguably the best seam-bowling all-rounder in this illustrious list, Stokes has had a topsy-turvy ODI record since the start of 2018. He boasts of a very good batting average of 43.80 runs for his 438 runs from 18 ODI games but, on the other hand, has a woeful bowling record of just 10 wickets at an extravagant 55 runs apiece in the aforementioned period. He may not be in the best of his bowling forms in the past 16 months or so but one should never forget the extra-dimension of brilliant athleticism attached to his game which is a kind of sine-qua-non skill if teams aspire to win a modern-day cricketing spectacle like the World Cup. More than anyone else, Stokes, himself, will be raring to make match-winning contributions in his team's bid to lift the maiden World Cup trophy on their own soil.
5. Hardik Pandya (India)
A nation-wide bitter backlash over sexist comments made on a TV chat show resulting in a provisional suspension, a belligerent 22-ball 45 run comeback in his second comeback ODI on the New Zealand tour, back issues resurfacing to rule him out of the Australia series and finally an IPL to remember. Hardik Pandya has seen it all in just over four months this year. But India will not be too fussed about his controversial past because what matters, at the moment, is Pandya's supreme fitness and, off course, his belligerent form. 393 runs from 15 games before the final, coming at a mind-blowing strike-rate of 194.55, along with 14 wickets; aptly summarise the crucial role that Pandya has played in Mumbai Indians' success throughout the 12th season of IPL. No wonder that the junior Pandya will be the focus of every eye savoring the action that's going to unfold during the mega-fair of top-10 cricketing nations in England and Wales.
6. James Neesham (New Zealand)
He has played just the eight games in the past 16 months or so, yet he finds a place in this high-octane list on the back of his powerful hitting and wicket-taking abilities which were on full display in his limited ODI appearances. Even in those 8 ODI games, Neesham has batted in just 5 innings but has scored 204 runs at an average of 68 while striking the ball at the rate of 182. Add to these his 10 wickets while bowling at a very good average of 22.90 runs apiece and he becomes a very strong contender for Blackcaps' first-choice all-rounder for the playing XI. His explosive presence will further increase the danger quotient of the Kiwi middle-order which already bears a settled look due to the presence of the likes of Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, and Henry Nicholls.
7. Andile Phehlukwayo (South Africa)
South Africa's third highest wicket-taker since the beginning of 2018 with 31 ODI scalps from 22 innings, Phehlukwayo has grown leaps and bounds in his all-round stature since making his ODI debut way back in 2016. Apart from his impressive wickets' tally, Phehlukwayo boasts of a very healthy batting average of almost 31 runs per inning for his 278 runs from 15 innings in the above-mentioned period. His mature approach while batting can be gauged by the circumstances in which he scored his maiden ODI fifty. His 69 runs from 80 balls came in a pressure run-chase when South Africa found themselves in a fix at 80/5 while chasing a tricky target of 204 runs against Pakistan in the recent home series. It is this maturity, along with his exciting talent, which makes him the all-rounder to watch out for from the Proteas' World Cup contingent.
8. Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka)
Among the all-rounders who have taken at least 10 wickets since 1 January 2018, nobody comes close to matching Thisara Perera's run-tally of 695 runs. It's not only his run-tally which is glaringly impressive but his performance with the ball in the same period i.e. since the start of 2018, has also been equally impressive with 31 scalps against his name from 25 ODI appearances. Sri Lanka have been largely shambolic in the given period, except for the brilliance shown in the away Test series win in South Africa, but Perera's brilliant all-round run inspires the fans to keep their belief in the national team going. The onus, once again, will be on Perera's shoulders to play the role of a crucial determinant in charting the course of the island nation's journey on the English shores.
9. Andre Russell (West Indies)
It wouldn't be too wrong to state that it was Andre Russell's one-man show which carried Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) throughout the 12th edition of IPL. 510 runs from 14 games coming at a humongous strike-rate of almost 205, Russell served as the backbone of KKR batting this season. In addition to his belligerent batting, Russell also chipped in with 11 wickets from 14 games. Such a dominant performer surely adds some extra fire-power to an already power-packed batting West Indian batting line-up. The spectators in the English stadiums will be in for some serious crowd catching as the big Jamaican all-rounder will be heading into the World Cup on the back of smashing a half-century (52 — the most in the competition) of sixes in his recently concluded IPL stint.
10. Jason Holder (West Indies)
An iron-willed captain determined to dig his side out from shadows of mediocrity and transform it into a world-beating force, Jason Holder has led his team by example if we are to consider his performance since the dawn of 2018. Averaging nearly 27 with the bat for his 458 runs from 22 ODI games in the period, Holder has been a more than handy batsman for his team lower down the order. Besides his batting chronicles, the West Indian skipper has done a fairly decent job of picking up 28 wickets at an average of 34.64 runs apiece. Holder's impactful leadership along with his individual all-round capabilities will have to form a solid foundation if his team is to stage a successful show of calypso dominance in the mega-cricketing event in England and Wales.
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Chavan, who never represented India, was initially suspended for life for his involvement in IPL spot-fixing scandal in 2013 along with S Sreesanth.
"I don't want people to just think we're taking the knee because Black Lives Matter, that's the tradition and that's the norm. It has to have some substance, it has to have some meaning behind it," Holder said.
Since Robinson's posts re-emerged, the social media feeds of a number of internationals have been scrutinised, with an unnamed player found to have sent offensive tweets while under the age of 16.