- noun a person who is good at anything
- noun a player skilled in both batting and bowling or in both batting and wicket-keeping. Neville Cardus argued that the test for a great all-rounder (leaving aside wicket-keepers) was: ‘Would he be picked to play in a Test match for his batting only, or for his bowling only?’ (Cardus 1978). But these are rigorous criteria; in practice, many of the great all-round performers of the past (such as Grace, Rhodes, Benaud, or Imran Khan) are remembered primarily for their skill in one or other department of the game. Few are consistently successful with both bat and ball, the most notable exceptions being Botham (in his heyday) and of course Sobers, who ‘could, and often did, swing the course of a match with his batting, his bowling and his fielding’ (Manley 1988).
In principle, a wide range of permutations is possible, such as the stroke-playing number three batsman who also bowls spinners, or the specialist slow bowler who can also bat a bit, lower down the order. But it is a striking feature of contemporary cricket that the all-rounder is most often a front-line fast or fast-medium bowler who is also an aggressive hitter batting at around six or seven in the order – Andrew Flintoff being the outstanding current example. The wicket-keeping all-rounder – generally referred to as a ‘wicketkeeper-batsman’ – often played an anchor role in the past, but players like Gilchrist and Dhoni have reinvented the genre with their destructive batsmanship.See also bits-and-pieces player
- noun somebody who is good at many things, especially in sports