What we talk about when we talk about all-rounders

TheRev Roar Rookie

By TheRev, TheRev is a Roar Rookie

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    Australian captain Steve Smith advised the media that the Australian selectors would be considering an all-rounder option for the next Test in Melbourne, due to the excessive number of overs bowled by the Australian quicks and Jackson Bird in Brisbane.

    With that statement in mind, it’s worth considering; What do Australian Selectors talk about when they talk about all-rounders?

    So let’s consider.

    Shane Watson
    The poster boy of Australian all-rounders since 2005, “Watto” was as divisive as he was inconsistent.

    Seemingly picked originally as a response to Andrew Flintoff doing well for England, the other Shane went on to; open the batting, bowl stump-to-stump, run out team-mates, waste referrals and get out LBW so often that it actually became hilarious.

    In summary, the selectors may remember the issues associated with a player that can help a team with batting, but hurt it with bowling (or vice versa) and toss the all-rounder idea out altogether.

    Pat Cummins
    Not really what you’d call an all-rounder, or even match fit for the most part, but the prodigal son of Australian Cricket did perform well in the recent ODI series against New Zealand and can bat a bit.

    Picking him to bowl 10-20 overs in short bursts is probably reasonable and any runs he scores could be a bonus, like Mitch Marsh.

    Mitch Marsh
    Having been dropped from the side for some pretty ordinary performances with the bat and a lack of wickets, despite bowling pretty well, Marsh is most likely in the ‘drunk dial’ category for the selectors.

    He may well get picked, but it will probably be based on their success, or lack thereof, with others and the result of many beers consumed.

    Shaun Marsh reacts with brother Mitchell

    James Faulkner
    Faulkner is arguably the best all-rounder in Australia but seems to have been ‘friend-zoned’ into the short format categories despite his talent.

    Faulkner has played only one Test, but took 6 wickets and scored a handy 45 runs across his two innings.

    While that isn’t a lot of runs, he did score 100 not out in his last Shield effort (against NSW) and scored 129 across two innings in his last Shield game at the MCG.

    He also has considerable experience in India thanks to the IPL, which can’t hurt your bank balance or selectors opinions of you.

    Moises Henriques
    Like Faulkner, Henriques is a man that has played Test cricket for Australia before, though with less success.

    In four Tests with the Baggy Green he has scored 161 runs at 23 and bowled 55 overs for just two wickets at a not so desirable 82.

    Recently given a prolonged spell in the ODI team in the Sri Lanka tour, Moises didn’t wrap himself in glory, averaging five with the bat and 88 with the ball.

    Like his namesake, he seems more likely to part the sea than the stumps.

    Glenn Maxwell
    The selectors definitely do not talk about Glenn Maxwell at the moment, especially not as an all-rounder or an option for the coming Test series in India.

    Nope, not talked about. Forget about it.

    That Travis Head though…

    And then there’s Hilton Cartwright, apparently.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • December 21st 2016 @ 10:45am
      dan ced said | December 21st 2016 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      If Faulkner is back to his best soon it might be worth including him in the India squad.

      My “ideal” squad changes every day though, one day I have Travis Head, the next I want to replace him with a right hander. One day I have Starc.. the next I fear he might not swing it enough to be effective. Then there is the Marsh brothers and Maxwell that could have a place, and Faulkner/Cartwright. Henriques has failed at the international level and Stoinis is too inconsistent.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2016 @ 10:58am
        Paul D said | December 21st 2016 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Faulkner is the last bloke you want to take to India. His career stats against them are twice as bad as everyone else he’s played against.

        Kohli wasn’t exaggerating when he said he was tired of smashing Faulkner all round the park.

      • December 21st 2016 @ 11:18am
        Dom said | December 21st 2016 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Faulkner isn’t a top-six batsman. End of story.

        He could be included as a bowler, theoretically, and would obviously boost the batting depth from No.8. But unfortunately for him fast bowlers is the one area where Australia already has a fair bit of depth and he’s not high in the queue.

        He’s a great fit for the limited overs sides, but isn’t the kind of player the Australian Test team needs – especially when our main concern in strengthening our batting, not our bowling.

        • December 21st 2016 @ 4:32pm
          John Erichsen said | December 21st 2016 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

          Neither is/was Mitch Marsh. Given how Shane Watson was flogged by media and many others, for his all too regular failures, his batting average of 35 is the stuff of dreams in recent years, as far as “batting all-rounders” are concerned. We would love an “all-rounder’ with mid 30’s averages with both bat and ball now, but the pickings look very slim. We will need to compromise and the Mitch Marsh project revealed that if batting at six, the compromise cant be choosing a few wickets over regular runs. At least, in Cartwright, we have a player whose first class batting record justifies him getting a chance. Just don’t expect many wickets from him.

          • December 21st 2016 @ 4:38pm
            Dom said | December 21st 2016 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

            Yep agreed.

        • December 21st 2016 @ 5:46pm
          James P said | December 21st 2016 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

          Mitch Marsh – 1st class batting average – 29.05. This season in first class has scored 12, 0, 14 and 0
          Faulkner – 1st class batting average – 32.67. This season in first class has scored 31, 78, 13, 6, 100*

          Unfortunately, Faulkner will end up playing lots of One Day cricket instead of being able to try and focus on his 1st class batting record.

    • December 21st 2016 @ 12:08pm
      Tony H said | December 21st 2016 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      What we mean when we talk about an all-rounder, is a top 6 batsman who can deliver 10-20 overs an innings without getting smashed around the park. They aren’t there as a wicket taker, they are there to rest the front line bowlers. Additionally, we’re really not talking about a spin bowler, in Australian conditions anyway.

      Despite the vitriol directed against him, Watson is one of the best we’ve had in the position, and would have been better if he hadn’t been shunted around the order and removed from his best position.

      At the moment, Cartwright probably does the best job of fitting in the top 6 and delivering a few overs. Everyone else that’s being talked about, is a good number 8 batsman, but no better than that.

      For India, Travis Head might get a look in, but to be honest, we’re thin on the ground

    • Editor

      December 21st 2016 @ 12:45pm
      Riordan Lee said | December 21st 2016 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

      “Faulkner is arguably the best all-rounder in Australia but seems to have been ‘friend-zoned’ into the short format categories despite his talent.”

      Made my day.

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2016 @ 1:06pm
      Atawhai Drive said | December 21st 2016 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

      A true all-rounder is that rarest of cricket creatures: the player who is good enough with the bat to be worth his place in the team for that skill alone, and accomplished enough with the ball to demand inclusion solely for his bowling.

      Most “all-rounders” tend to err on one side or the other. Richard Hadlee had some claim to all-rounder status, but while he led the New Zealand bowling attack for years, it’s unlikely he would have played for his country purely as a batsman. So Hadlee was at best a “bowling all-rounder”.

      Hilton Cartwright, new kid on the Australian block for the Boxing Day Test, has first-class figures that suggest he is very much a “batting all-rounder”, a top-six batsman who bowls regularly for his state but is not expected to run through the opposition top order.

      One of the great all-rounder efforts in recent times was that of Andrew Flintoff in the 2005 Ashes Batting at six, he scored 402 runs at 40.2 and took 24 wickets at 27.29. Effectively, England in that series had 12 players to Australia’s 11.

      Flintoff had never quite reached that level before 2005 and he never did so afterwards, not least because of the physical strain.

      Every team wants a true all-rounder, but invariably teams have to compromise.

      Hilton Cartwright, come on down . . .

      • December 21st 2016 @ 1:23pm
        Mike Dugg said | December 21st 2016 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        India had 2 guys get numbers close to that just in the series against England just completed

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2016 @ 1:24pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 21st 2016 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        Your genuine allrounders, someone like Kallis who averaged over 50 with the bat and under 30 with the ball, (could bowl 145+ in his younger years too!) is a pretty rare commodity. Considering how hard it is to be a top level test batsman at all, doing that while also being a top level test bowler makes it the sort of thing you might see once in a generation.

        In general we are looking at batting-allrounders and bowling allrounders. Batting allrounders are people who bat in the top 6 and do well enough with the bat to hold their place there as a batsman, while offering a decent change option with the ball, while bowling allrounders are players who take one of the four main bowling spots while scoring some decent runs and meaning that your team can still make big scores from 6-down.

        Faulkner is the latter, which means that to be selected he has to displace one of the four main bowlers, and it’s hard to see that happening at the moment. He possibly has the potential to bowl well enough to snag that third seamer spot, certainly replacing Bird with Faulkner significantly strengthens the batting, but you can only do that if you aren’t going to be weakening the bowling to do it, and you then still need the batting allrounder to make up the 5th bowling option. As it stands, by the time Faulkner is able to stake his case for the third seamer spot Cummins may well be fully back playing long-form cricket and jump straight past everyone in that position.

      • Roar Pro

        December 21st 2016 @ 2:41pm
        Hutchoman said | December 21st 2016 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

        Proper, genuine all rounders are rare as hens’ teeth. As you’ve noted, a genuine all rounder is one who is good enough with both bat and ball to be considered for selection based on either discipline. I’ve often used a test of averaging over 35 with the willow and under 35 with the leather for this purpose.

        Based on the above criteria, in the history of Test cricket, five players have accomplished this over their careers with a requirement for 1000 runs/100 wickets … Sir Garfield Sobers, Jacques Kallis, Tony Grieg, Imran Khan and Keith Miller. Two current players are there … Shakib Al Hasan and Ravi Ashwin (Ravi currently at 34.92 with the bat). Some might debate the two current players based on home vs. away performances. Others have come close, but even then I reckon you’d be flat out gaining agreement on another 10 names.

        I find this acid test, along with the difficulty of naming genuine all rounders even in the absence of straight stats, demonstrates how rare the true all rounder is. The players most will throw up beyond the list above … Dev, Hadlee, Botham, Pollock, Akram … are all generational players that were not only outstanding cricketers, but carried their teams above what they might have otherwise been capable of, perhaps despite some quibbles on statistical return. By all means, if you have one of these in your ranks they should absolutely be nurtured as they can transform a team. But, they are rare, with perhaps one existing at Test level around the world at any point in time. Even then, from a statistical perspective they are mixed in with the likes of Ravi Shastri, Chris Cairns, Irfan Pathan, Mitchell Johnson and Chaminda Vaas … all fine players, but not exactly the type of players you would consider able to hold their position based on either discipline.

        The rarity of all rounders also shows how foolish it is to attempt to “manufacture” one. This usually ends up playing someone out of position … usually batting someone at 6 who is incapable of scoring runs regularly, or one at 8 who can’t take the wickets necessary. By definition, this then leaves the team effectively one short as the defects of the weaker side are so great that the stronger side can’t make up for them.

        So to find the answer, we must start with the question. I would have thought the question is how does 10 – 15 overs a day get absorbed by a fifth bowling option who will keep it tight and pick up the odd wicket, in order to limit the seamers to about 15-18 overs per new ball? In my mind, the answer is the quintessential “part-timer” who is actually used … Andrew Symonds immediately springs to mind along with others down the years.

        So it comes back to the time honoured view of 6 batsmen, 1 keeper and 4 bowlers … with the twist that one (or more) of your batsmen can roll out a handful of tidy overs each day to give the quicks a bit of a rest and not leak runs while they’re at it.

    • December 21st 2016 @ 2:28pm
      Joel said | December 21st 2016 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

      thought with the tour of india coming up soon, that head would be the next player in. i doubt cartwright will even play in India, they will use a spinner, and a spin option all rounder. rather just choose the batsman that bowls a bit, than the non-existent all rounder.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2016 @ 3:18pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 21st 2016 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

        Possibly, depends how he goes. Unless they want more than 2 spin options, there really are two possibilities. Select someone like Maxwell as the batting allrounder and the second spinner, or select 2 genuine spin bowlers and someone like Cartwright as the batting allrounder.

        The advantage of the latter option is that then your allrounder is still the bit-part bowler. If you are only selecting 2 spinners and one is the batting allrounder, then you are likely going to be expecting them to bowl a lot. Alternately, you could potentially go for 3 spin options and pick Maxwell along with two main spinners.

    • December 21st 2016 @ 2:46pm
      Keagan Ryan said | December 21st 2016 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

      Stoinis is probably the ideal player for us as he bats well and can relieve for 10-12 overs in a day. In saying that, it seems pretty unlikely he gets called up to the Test team anytime soon.

      Personally (if we’re definitively going down the all-rounder path) I’d go for Faulkner in India. His bowling, and particularly his slower ball variations, could be more than useful on deteriorating day 3-5 pitches in India and he has had some success batting in India (albeit in ODI cricket).

      • December 21st 2016 @ 4:43pm
        John Erichsen said | December 21st 2016 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

        Stoinis would have greater selection claims if his bowling was worth looking at. Cartwright is seen as a risk because his bowling isn’t strong, but Stoinis has even worse bowling credentials. Faulkner has obviously walked under a ladder while crossing a black cat, causing him to drop and break a mirror, at least as far as the test format is concerned. Faulkner’s bowling average is better than any contenders, by some distance but he couldn’t bat at six and given Wade’s batting over the last two years, nor can he. Barely can make a run at seven, in fact. Peter Nevill has every right to be sticking pins in Hohns, Waugh, Lehmann and Chappell voodoo dolls.

        • December 21st 2016 @ 6:49pm
          James P said | December 21st 2016 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

          Faulkner’s 1st class bowling average is better than Bird, Starc, Hazlewood, Pattinson, Cummins, Johnson, Lyon, Harris, Siddle, O’Keefe and Mennie.

          Not saying that he is a better bowler than them of course but his bowling record is amazing.

          • Roar Guru

            December 21st 2016 @ 7:10pm
            Dutski said | December 21st 2016 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

            186 wickets at 24.54 at first class level is excellent.

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