Ravichandran Ashwin’s second Test performance against England was a fine reminder of his all-round ability: along with match figures of 8-96, the off-spinner registered his fifth Test century in a thumping series-levelling win.
It was a welcome return to form with the bat for Ashwin, who has struggled in that department over the last few years. Prior to that knock, he hadn’t hit a Test half-century since July 2017. In fact, since the start of that year he’s failed the litmus test in defining an all-rounder: his batting average has been lower than his bowling average.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to take stock of the candidates for the position of Test cricket’s best all-rounder at this moment in time – not looking at career numbers but at form dating back to the start of 2019.
6 Tests, 226 runs @ 56.50, 36 wickets @ 13.27
We’re still early into the piece with New Zealand’s new man-mountain – his first-class batting average remains a lowly 21.47 – but he could threaten to become a genuine Test all-rounder. His pace and bounce has seen him take four five-wicket hauls in his first six Tests, while his ball-striking ability has been on show with some more than handy cameos down the order. There’s still plenty more to find out about his weaker suit – he’s yet to bat away from home – but on current form, Jamieson can lay claim to being one of the best all-round options in Test cricket.
11 Tests, 550 runs @ 61.11, 30 wickets @ 29.20
The man who adds balance to India’s Test side, Jadeja was eagerly missed by his country in their first Test defeat to England, and though Axar Patel sparkled with the ball on debut in the second, his batting was unable to match what Jadeja has offered in recent years. Consistency with the ball is a given with the left-arm spinner, but his batting has been excellent of late, too, with six half-centuries delivered across his last 14 Test innings.
20 Tests, 1,577 runs @ 47.48, 42 wickets @ 28.11
Stokes is an obvious contender in this department, having gone to another level in the last couple of years with Player of the Match performances at Lord’s, Newlands, Old Trafford and, of course, Headingley. Currently he faces the challenge of spinning conditions in India, with Ashwin’s off-breaks causing him some bother and his own role with the ball taking a bit of a backseat.
Colin de Grandhomme
9 Tests, 464 runs @ 46.40, 16 wickets @ 34.87
Injury meant de Grandhomme didn’t feature in New Zealand’s recent Test series with Pakistan and West Indies, but the 34-year-old has still been a significant part of the side currently at the top of the Test rankings. His wobbly medium-pacers have meant he’s taken at least one wicket in every innings he’s bowled in since the start of 2019, while four half-centuries across 12 innings is a fine return from a man operating primarily at No.7 in the batting order.
10 Tests, 561 runs @ 37.40, 30 wickets @ 26.36
The West Indies captain began 2019 by leading his side to a series win over England – he hit an unbeaten double century in the first Test – but he has passed fifty with the bat only once since. His efforts with the ball have also suffered of late, with just four wickets taken in his last four Tests. Nonetheless, he remains the ICC’s No.1 Test all-rounder.
The threatening tailender
13 matches, 274 runs @ 30.44, 57 wickets @ 24.57
While few would call him an all-rounder, Starc has always been a handy lower-order batsman for Australia, and that has remained apparent over the last couple of years. In fact, left carrying drinks for most of the 2019 Ashes, he played an important role with the bat when he did feature in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, with a 58-ball 54* helping Australia to an imposing first-innings total.
On the comeback trail
Shakib Al Hasan
2 Tests, 123 runs @ 41, 5 wickets at 27.60
Shakib Al Hasan has been one of the finest all-rounders of the modern era, but he’s had a quiet couple of years. Much of that has to do with the year-long ban he received in October 2019 after breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code. Prior to that, he played one Test that year, taking five wickets in the match against Afghanistan. Earlier this month he made his comeback in the format, contributing a knock of 68 against West Indies before injury struck during the game. It remains to be seen whether he can climb back into the list of standouts.