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R Ashwin climbs to No. 5 in ICC's allrounders' list - is he ready to join the all-time greats?

Ravichandran Ashwin has climbed up a spot to be the new No. 5 all-rounder in the latest MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings. His match winning 106 and 8-for in the just-concluded Test match against England in Chennai underlines his emergence as one of the finest and most sought-after all-rounders of the current era. And while playing in home conditions, there is no denial that Ashwin has turned out to be quite lethal for the opposition.

The dynamic player from Tamil Nadu has been one of the strongest pillars of Indian cricket for a decade now. It was T20 cricket, especially IPL and Champions League Twenty20, that brought him to the fore as a prodigy who looked competent enough to take over from Harbhajan Singh in the off-spin department. However, soon after his Test debut in 2011, Ashwin started proving to be a quintessential element in the Indian line-up, who could deliver consistently with the ball and occasionally with the bat too.

Over the years, Ashwin has honed his batting skills and currently he is the second player in the world with three instances of a five-wicket haul and a century in the same match! Ian Botham has done it twice more than him.

Having said that, here we will try and look back at some iconic all-rounders of all times and try to figure out if Ashwin has made it big enough already to have his name taken in the same breath as with the likes of Kapil Dev, Gary Sobers, Ian Botham and a few others.

To start with, let’s plunge into Ashwin’s home stats. He has played 45 Test matches (54 innings) and scored 1435 runs that included three 100s and seven 50s. Considering Ashwin comes lower down the order, an average of 29.90 with these many runs is certainly more than just commendable.

His batting performances in away matches don’t really reflect a stark difference in numbers – in 53 innings, he scored 1191 runs, (2x100, 4x50) at an average of 26.47. While at home his highest score remains 124 (vs WI, Kolkata, 2013), in away games it’s 118 (vs WI, St Lucia, 2016).

Now coming to bowling, here is where Ashwin has made a huge difference at home. In 54 innings, Ashwin has scalped 271 wickets at an average of 22.49! Compare it with away, he stands at only 123 wickets from 53 innings at an average of 31.19.

At home, the Indian off-spinner has had 23 instances where he had picked up 5+ wickets in a match, and 6 instances when he had returned 10+ wickets in a match. His best bowling innings of 7-59 came against NZ in Indore (2016) where he absolutely ran riot through the Kiwi batting line-up picking up 13 wickets in the match.

Now we will just chart out for you the statistics of some of the top all-rounders from different eras and see how they have performed at home over the years.

STATISTICS AT HOME

Player

Matches

Total runs

Batting Average

HS

Total wickets

Bowling average

BBI

R Ashwin

45

1435

29.90

124

271

22.49

7-59

Jacques Kallis

88

7035

56.73

224

165

30.61

5-21

Shakib Al Hasan

38

2545

40.40

144

142

31.20

7-36

Imran Khan

38

1540

45.29

123

163

19.20

8-58

Garry Sobers

44

4075

66.80

365*

107

34.12

5-63

Shaun Pollock

59

1922

29.12

111

235

21.8

6-30

Ian Botham

59

2969

34.92

208

226

27.54

8-34

Richard Hadlee

43

1501

29.43

103

201

22.96

7-23

Chris Cairns

31

1860

37.20

158

109

28.35

7-27

Kapil Dev

65

2810

36.97

163

219

26.49

9-83


We understand that it is impossible to have a comparative study between these legendary all-rounders due to the sheer differences in playing conditions. But it will not be hyperbole if we say that Ashwin has certainly cemented his place as on of the top all-rounders of all times.

While we look at the staggering average of Kallis, Shakib or even Sobers, we must realise that all three have batted higher in batting order than Ashwin and are mostly known as batting all-rounders. Being a bowling all-rounder and batting mostly at No.7 or No.8, Ashwin’s direct comparison can be drawn with the likes of Imran Khan, Pollock, Hadlee, Cairns and Kapil Dev, and the figures clearly show that apart from Pollock and Imran Khan, Ashwin has had a better bowling average than all and he even closely competes with them in terms of the batting average.