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Where does Ben Stokes rank among the top allrounders of all time?

 

"We're in the presence of greatness."
Joe Root

"He's certainly the best allrounder I've ever played with, and he's becoming the best allrounder that England's ever had."
James Anderson

Ben Stokes has everyone - fans, critics, team-mates - eating out of his hands, and with good reason: over the last four and a half years, he has scored eight Test hundreds and averages 43.3 with the bat. And he has taken 110 wickets at 28. Even these numbers don't do justice to his range of skills: with bat in hand, he has the astonishing ability to go through multiple gears in the same Test (Old Trafford, 2020) and even the same innings (Headingley, 2019). With ball in hand, he bowls the tough overs and the long spells when England are looking for a breakthrough. Add to that his wholehearted fielding and the ability to be the perfect team man, and it's little wonder that England can't have enough of him.

ESPNcricinfo Ltd

For the purposes of this article, though, we'll limit the analyses to his two primary skills, batting and bowling. The high notes that Stokes has hit as a Test allrounder over the last few years have, quite justifiably, evoked comparisons with the all-time great allrounders. How does his peak thus far compare with the best of other allrounders? Let the numbers do the talking.

From the start of 2016 - when he made his highest Test score, of 258, against South Africa in Cape Town - till the end of the second Test of the recently concluded home series against West Indies, over a span of 45 Tests, there has been a difference of 15.6 between Stokes' batting and bowling averages. How does that compare with the best 45-Test streaks of other allrounders? (The best 45 Tests in terms of highest difference between batting and bowling averages are considered.)

Taking a cut-off of at least 1500 runs scored and 100 wickets taken in these 45 Tests - Stokes scored 3401 runs and took 110 wickets in these matches - only four allrounders out of 22 have a higher difference in average: Garry SobersJacques KallisImran Khan and Shaun Pollock. Sobers and Kallis had slightly poorer bowling averages than Stokes, but were phenomenal with the bat, averaging more than 70. Imran was outstanding with both bat and ball in the period between September 1982 and December 1991, scoring nearly 55 runs per dismissal and conceding only 20.1 runs per wicket. Pollock just made the 1500-run cut-off - he scored 1561 runs in 45 Tests between January 1999 and September 2003, though his contribution to team runs was extremely low, as we'll see later - but his bowling stats were stunning: 185 wickets at 19.9. For the top three allrounders, the difference in averages was more than 30, while the difference for Pollock was 20.2.

"We're in the presence of greatness."
Joe Root

"He's certainly the best allrounder I've ever played with, and he's becoming the best allrounder that England's ever had."
James Anderson

Ben Stokes has everyone - fans, critics, team-mates - eating out of his hands, and with good reason: over the last four and a half years, he has scored eight Test hundreds and averages 43.3 with the bat. And he has taken 110 wickets at 28. Even these numbers don't do justice to his range of skills: with bat in hand, he has the astonishing ability to go through multiple gears in the same Test (Old Trafford, 2020) and even the same innings (Headingley, 2019). With ball in hand, he bowls the tough overs and the long spells when England are looking for a breakthrough. Add to that his wholehearted fielding and the ability to be the perfect team man, and it's little wonder that England can't have enough of him.

ESPNcricinfo Ltd

For the purposes of this article, though, we'll limit the analyses to his two primary skills, batting and bowling. The high notes that Stokes has hit as a Test allrounder over the last few years have, quite justifiably, evoked comparisons with the all-time great allrounders. How does his peak thus far compare with the best of other allrounders? Let the numbers do the talking.

From the start of 2016 - when he made his highest Test score, of 258, against South Africa in Cape Town - till the end of the second Test of the recently concluded home series against West Indies, over a span of 45 Tests, there has been a difference of 15.6 between Stokes' batting and bowling averages. How does that compare with the best 45-Test streaks of other allrounders? (The best 45 Tests in terms of highest difference between batting and bowling averages are considered.)

Taking a cut-off of at least 1500 runs scored and 100 wickets taken in these 45 Tests - Stokes scored 3401 runs and took 110 wickets in these matches - only four allrounders out of 22 have a higher difference in average: Garry SobersJacques KallisImran Khan and Shaun Pollock. Sobers and Kallis had slightly poorer bowling averages than Stokes, but were phenomenal with the bat, averaging more than 70. Imran was outstanding with both bat and ball in the period between September 1982 and December 1991, scoring nearly 55 runs per dismissal and conceding only 20.1 runs per wicket. Pollock just made the 1500-run cut-off - he scored 1561 runs in 45 Tests between January 1999 and September 2003, though his contribution to team runs was extremely low, as we'll see later - but his bowling stats were stunning: 185 wickets at 19.9. For the top three allrounders, the difference in averages was more than 30, while the difference for Pollock was 20.2.

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