Sobers named as Cricinfo's greatest all-rounder
By Jonathan Hungi
April 29, 2007
IN November, we shortlisted 20 candidates from the last hundred years, and over five months we had weekly profiles on each one of them, with a wide range of writers highlighting their achievements and putting forward a case why they were something special.
In the end, Sobers emerged at the top of the pile. "Sobers is not just the greatest all-rounder ever, but the greatest player," explained Sambit Bal, Cricinfo's editor. "He was the most natural cricketer you would ever want to see and quite simply he could do it all. He is in the top ten greatest batsmen of all-time, he took over 200 Test wickets and was a sensational fielder who could field in multiple positions.
"Ok, so his bowling average is only 34, but you must remember that he was bowling both left-arm medium pace and finger spin and was consistently a class act with the ball throughout his career as well as averaging 57 with the bat.
"If he had decided to focus only on bowling, there is no telling what he could have achieved. The word genius is sometimes used casually in cricket. With Sobers, it fits naturally."
"Although Imran Khan is his closest rival, I feel that only towards the end of his career could Imran have justified his place in a Test XI as a batsman. He was certainly always a great bowler, but he developed into a top class batsmen only later in his career."
While that was the choice of Cricinfo's panel, we also asked readers to vote for their own favourite. Almost 10 000 of you did so, and in your view, Imran was the best.
Imran topped the poll, and by a surprisingly big margin. The appearance of Wasim Akram in third place suggests that Pakistan-supporting readers are better at voting than some others.
We hope you have enjoyed our search for the greatest all-rounder and that you have taken the time to read our in-depth profiles and our picks of the great all-round performances. Also, we have attempted to tackle the issue from a statistical point of view and if you've not had the chance, check out our action video clips, all of which are linked directly from the Greatest Allrounder homepage.
Above all, though, the discussion and debate that has taken place in the blog has been very enlightening and amusing to follow. And before signing off there was one final issue we wanted to address, one that seemed to completely mystify the bloggers - just why is Ravi Shastri in our 20 players and shortlist and seemingly at the expense of New Zealand's Chris Cairns? We asked Sambit Bal:
"One of the key factors in any great all-rounder or player indeed is consistency of fitness and availability. Cairns was certainly a very talented all-rounder but he simply was unavailable due to injury too often and when he was fit he was often unable to bowl at full pace.
"As for Ravi Shastri, he was a consistent performer for India over 11 years and he began his career as a bowler who didn't bat. The fact that he ended up opening for his country in Test cricket showed his incredible dedication and ability to improve.
It was these attributes that made us include him. However, I will agree it was a very tough judgment on Cairns. (Cricinfo)