Who is the best allrounder in test cricket?

Over the last couple of weeks there has been much debate over who is the best allrounder in world cricket. It’s hard not to get carried away with the recent performances of Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes. Moeen Ali justly received the man of the series award against South Africa, scoring 252 runs and taking a phenomenal 25 wickets. On the other hand, it was Stokes’ assured hundred that turned the series around at the Oval. Although only managing 7 wickets in this series, he has taken 49 wickets at 31 runs apiece over the last 2 years. They have undoubtedly arrived as world class allrounders.

But I was curious to see how their statistics compare to other leading players in this category. Therefore, I analysed their stats alongside those of Shakib Al Hasan, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja (who currently make up the ICC’s top allround list).

The above graphs show the career statistics for each player, split into 6 categories: 5 wicket hauls, fifties, centuries, catches and batting & bowling averages.

To date, the Indian and English all rounders have clearly favoured one discipline over the other. In contrast, Shakib can make a very good case for being considered a ‘true’ allrounder. It is curious then that he is often left out of these discussions, despite being ranked the world’s best.

I next attempted the difficult task of ranking these impressive allrounders. To do so, I simply divided each stat by the number of matches (with the exception of averages). So as not to bias the data towards batting, I only included the number of centuries in this ranking system. Some may disagree that catches carry the same weight as runs or wickets. But I personally believe it to contribute hugely to the overall usefulness of a cricketer. In addition, I am fairly certain this statistic is not considered for the official rankings. Therefore, I wanted to see if there were any differences between the two.

According to our analysis, Al Hasan is the top allrounder in test cricket, which is in agreement with the current ICC test rankings. Interestingly, and in contrast to the official rankings, we place Stokes above Ali, Jadeja and Ashwin. Stokes averages more centuries and catches per game than all the other allrounders.

The stand out player though is Shakib. His stats are identical at home or away, showing he doesn’t only do the business in Bangladesh. In addition, the Bangladesh team have often relied heavily on him for his runs and wickets and he’s dealt with the pressure brilliantly throughout his career. He’s a fine player who deserves to be number one in the world.

As for the English and Indian allrounders, it’s no doubt they have significantly contributed to their nation’s successes in Test cricket. For India, it is a tremendous luxury having two of the world’s best spin bowlers batting at 7 and 8. England must also be very thankful to have Stokes and Ali, who continue to improve in all departments. When you add in Chris Woakes, who looks to be a useful bowling allrounder, England have the potential to go from strength to strength. But only if they can manage to stumble across a settled top 5!