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You'll never guess Australia's best Test all-rounder

Guess who? (AFP photo / Glyn Kirk)
Roar Guru
7th March, 2016
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3695 Reads

A recent article on The Roar discussed the notion that all-rounders have deteriorated in quality over time, held Andrew Symonds up as an example of one of the best, and defined an all-rounder as one who has a batting average higher than their bowling average.

To explore some of those ideas, I’ve taken a look at Australian Test all-rounders down the years.

To rate the all-rounders, I subtracted their bowling average from their batting average. So if a player has a batting average higher than their bowling average, they will have a positive rating. If their bowling average is higher, they will have a negative rating.

I set myself a few basic rules:
• Only Test cricket averages would be considered.
• Players must have been picked as an all-rounder, so players who have been considered ‘almost an all-rounder’ weren’t included (sorry Shane Warne, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and so on).
• A benchmark of 50 wickets was considered for men (there goes Symonds, both Waughs and every other all-rounder picked in the 1980s and 1990s). I know most people would think 100 wickets, but I chose to take a broader view. As women play about a fifth the Test cricket men do, I set a limit of 25 wickets.

Australia’s top ten all-rounders

Name Tests Runs Batting average Wickets Wickets per Test Bowling average Rating
Betty Wilson 11 862 57.46 68 6.2 11.8 45.66
Ellyse Perry 6 219 31.28 27 4.5 16.11 15.17
Keith Miller 55 2958 36.97 170 3.1 22.97 14
Jack Gregory 24 1146 36.96 85 3.5 31.15 5.81
Monty Noble 42 1997 30.25 121 2.9 25 5.25
Warwick Armstrong 50 2863 38.68 87 1.7 33.59 5.09
Alan Davidson 44 1328 24.59 186 4.2 20.53 4.06
Shane Watson 59 3731 35.2 75 1.3 33.68 1.52
Ray Lindwall 61 1502 21.15 228 3.7 23.03 -1.88
Richie Benaud 63 2201 24.45 248 3.9 27.03 -2.58

With a batting average of 57.46 and 68 wickets at 6.2 per Test at an average of 11.8, Betty Wilson is well in front. Her rating of +45.66 is three times as good as the next best.

Ellyse Perry may only have six Tests to her name, but her averages and rating are top class. It will be interesting to see if she can maintain that kind of impact.

There may have been other quality female all-rounders, but the limited player stats on women’s Test cricket make comparisons difficult.

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Of the men, Keith Miller stands out, with his all-round rating again approximately three times as good as the next best.

There are some stellar names on that list, including Jack Gregory, Monty Noble, Warwick Armstrong and Alan Davidson.

It is only down in eighth position that you see a male player who has featured since the turn of the millennium – Shane Watson’s rating of +1.52. This outstrips legends Ray Lindwall and Richie Benaud, despite the perception that Watson never lived up to his potential as a Test cricketer.

That Lindwall and Benaud turned in a negative rating is a surprise.

So, it appears that the quality of Australian Test all-rounders, at least, has declined, with only one male and one female player post the 1960s to make the top ten. However, Ellyse Perry may end up as one of the best ever.

As for Andrew Symonds? Well, maybe a look at his one-day contribution would tell a different story.