Will Shakib Al Hasan Answer?
A comparative analysis of Shakib's records compared to the greatest all-rounders of all time
The immortal all-rounders of Cricket
Although there maybe some differences, the list for the best all-rounders of all time created by most experts usually consists a few common names – Jacques Kallis, Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Gary Sobers, Richard Hadlee, Shaun Pollock, Daniel Vittori, and Andrew Flintoff, with some honourable mentions such as Keith Miller and Tony Graig. While there are many records that separate these legends from the other greats of the game, there are two main attributes that distinguish them as immortals of cricket. First, these legends are considered a rare class of genuine all-rounders who were equally efficient at both ends of the pitch – with the bat they were dependable and technically sound, and with the ball they could do some serious damage.
Cricket has witnessed many great all-rounders throughout its history but very few have ascended to the level where they could pose a threat to the legacy of the all-rounders mentioned above. If you take the history of One Day Internationals into consideration, you will have to recognize a few more all-rounders such as Sanath Jaysuriya, Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi, Adbur Razzak, or Shohaib Malik who have been quite domineering in the limited version of the game. But most of these greats have struggled to dictate terms as genuine all-rounders of Test Cricket. This is another area where Imran, Botham, et al have separated themselves from the rest because their records would suggest that they were equally potent both in the short and longer versions of the game. Shakib Al Hasan is among those with this rare ability to be equally effective in different formats of the sport.
The exclusive club of elite all-rounders
If you look at some of the historical statistical figures, it becomes clear that genuine all-rounders are indeed a rare breed. Since the first Test match in played in 1877, the world has roughly seen a total of 3000 Test cricketers and over 2500 ODI cricketers taking part in the game. From this lot, ODI cricket has seen only a total of 64 cricketers who have scored 1,000 runs and taken 100 wickets, only four have acquired 3000 runs with 300 wickets, and only one Sanath Jaysurya has finished career with 5000+ runs with 300 wickets. In Test Cricket, a total of 70 players have the achievement of 1,000 career runs with 100 wickets, only 20 cricketers have registered 2,000 runs with 200 wickets, nine have finished with 3,000 runs and 300 wickets, and only Kapil Dev of India has scored 4000+ runs while seizing 400 wickets in the history of Test cricket. In T-20Is’ short history of 14 years, we have seen seven cricketers that have registered 1000 runs and 50 wickets, while only two, Shakib Al Hasan and Afridi, have the distinctive record of 1,000+ runs and 75+ wickets.
When you combine the records from ODI’s and Test cricket, entry to the elite all-rounders’ club becomes all the more restrictive. As of 2019, we have seen only a total of 23 players who have logged at least 1,000 runs and 100 wickets both in ODI’s and Test matches. This membership number drops to eight when you consider the entry criteria to be 200 wickets and 2000 runs. And lastly, in international cricket’s history of 142 years, there is only one cricketer who has taken 300 wickets while scoring 3,000 runs or more both in ODI’s and Tests – he is Shaun Pollock of South Africa.
Following is an illustration detailing various all-round records in international cricket.
ODI All-rounders’ Elite Club Membership:
Test cricket’s All-rounders’ records:
T-20I’s All-rounders’ records:
Combined Test and ODI All-rounders’ records:
Comparative analysis of the greatest all-rounder of all time
The task of comparing athletes from different eras can quite daunting. First of all, statistics often provide misleading information because many situational elements of the game are not reflected on the scoreboard. Secondly, cricket as a sport has proven to be very dynamic from one decade to another in terms of the rules of the sport, game strategies, and what is considered more critical to success. For example, compared to their predecessors, cricketers of 21st century play fewer Test matches and more limited over games and there is greater emphasis on factors such as bowling economy rate, batting strike rates, and power hitting. Another obvious example of the difference between different timelines would be the variances in playing conditions. For example, back in the time of Imran or Botham, pitches were often more favourable towards pace bowling compared to the more batting friendly wickets that players are accustomed to in more recent times.
In order to close this disparity, we have conducted an analysis where we have evaluted the all-rounders on a wide range of statistical categories instead of just looking at their career runs and wickets. In a point-based system, we have rated each player on several statistical categories using a discrete interval scaling system and ranked them according to their total rating points. The categories considered for rating included – total career runs and wickets, batting averages, bowling averages, difference between batting and bowling averages, total 100+ scores in Tests and ODI’s, total 50+ scores in T-20I’s, total 4 wicket hauls in T-20I’s, total 5 wicket hauls in ODI’s and Tests, total 10 wicket hauls in Tests, bowling economy in T-20I’s, and batting strike rate in T-20I’s. The inclusion criteria for this analysis for Test matches and ODI’s were any player who has scored at least a 1,000 runs and taken 100 wickets, and for T-20I’s any player with 500 runs and 50 wickets in his career.
Test Cricket's All-rounders’ Elite Club Membership:
ODI All-rounders’ Elite Club Membership:
The results of the analysis provided some interesting findings. Not surprisingly, the Test ratings were dominated by Imran, Kallis, Sobers, Botham, Kapil, Hadlee, and Pollock, with Imran at the top. On the other hand, the top spots in ODI standings were claimed by several famous batting all-rounders of the 21st century such as Jayasuriya, Ganguly, Afridi, and Tendulkar, along with Lance Kluesner and Shakib, with Kallis at the top. Kallis is the only man to have finished within the top 5 in both formats, Shakib and Pollock can be added to this distinguished list when extended to top 10, and four other players can be added to the list of those who finished within the top 20 in both formats including Imran, Hadlee, Kapil, and Wasim.
List of players who have finished at least in the top 20 in both ODI’s and Test:
Where would Shakib stand compared the greatest all-rounders of all time if he retired in 2019?
as mentioned above, statistics does not define the true value of a cricketer's contribution on the pitch because there are far too many elements of the game that are never reflected on the scorecard, and we will perhaps never be able to settle the debate for who is the best all-rounder of all time. But strictly statistically speaking, Jacques Kallis is clearly ahead of the rest, and by the same statistical measures Shakib is in a very good position to finish his career in a place where his records can be compared to that of the likes of Imran, Botham, Kapil, Hadlee, or Pollock with conviction.
As illustrated in the tables above, Shakib holds exclusive membership to several elite clubs of all-round record holders.
Shakib already belongs to the exclusive club of cricketers who have accumulated a total of 3,000 runs and 200 wickets over their careers – only 10 other cricketers in ODI’s, and 14 others in Test cricket have this accomplishment. When Test and ODI records are combined, we see that only a total of 8 players have scored at least 2,000 runs and taken 200 wickets in both formats, and in that list, Shakib is accompanied by several greats of the game including, Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas, Shaun Pollock, Daneil Vettori, Jacques Kallis, Kapil Dev, and Chris Cairns. Therefore, as far as records are concerned, if Shakib retired in 2019, he would already enjoy sharing a number of exclusive records with some of cricket’s all-time greats.
The missed opportunities in Shakib’s Career
In his career of 13 years (2006-2019), Shakib has missed a total of 13 Test matches, 38 ODI’s, and 13 T-20I’s for Bangladesh because of injuries, suspensions, and personal leaves. In line with his career averages, this may be interpreted that Shakib would have secured at least 900 more runs and 48 more wickets in Test matches, 1150 more runs and 48 more wickets in ODI’s and another additional 15 wickets and 265 runs in T-20I’s If he hadn’t missed those games. Following is a projection of Shakib’s career records adjusting for those missed games consistent with the trajectory of his actual career statistics.
Shakib’s career statistics adjusted for the missed games:
From this projection, we can see that in ODI’s Shakib would have already registered 5000+ runs and 300+ wickets, an achievement that would place him next to Jaysuriya – the only player with this achievement in the history of ODI cricket. In Test cricket, Shakib would have been much closer to sharing the record of 4000 runs and 300 wickets with Kapil, Botham, and Vettori. In T-20I’s, Shakib would have already become the first and the only player to have taken 100 wickets and scored 1000 runs.
What Shakib could learn from others who fell just short of greatness
The history of modern cricket has seen many great all-rounders who made promising starts to their careers that drew comparison to the likes of Imran, Hadlee, and Botham. But most of them have failed to live up to the expectation and at the end of their careers they were no longer compared to these legends. For example, in Test cricket, Andrew Flintoff was a name often considered to be a worthy successor to the throne left behind by Imran, Botham, et al, but by the time of his retirement, he fell well far short of those legends in terms of runs and wickets. In ODI’s, we have seen the likes of Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzak, Shohaib Malik, and Yuvraj Singh making a name for themselves, but each of them have failed to create the same level of all-round impact in Test matches. Shakib will have the distinctive opportunity to finish his career in a strong position and cement his legacy next to some of the immortal legends of the game in both formats.
Where can Shakib realistically finish in the list of all-time greats?
Shakib will be 33 years of age in 2020 when he returns from his one year suspension, and so far we have not heard of any retirement plans from Shakib. Realistically he can play another 3 to 5 years if he can stay fit, healthy, and maintain his motivation to play cricket. Following is a forecast of Shakib’s records that projects his total runs and wickets at the end of his career.
Shakib’s end of career projected records in ODI matches:
Shakib’s projected end of career records in Test matches:
Table 3 Shakib’s projected end of career records in T-20I matches:
In ODI’s, Shakib is poised in a very good situation, and if he plays for another 3 years, he should easily become the 2nd man after Jaysuriya to score 5000 runs and take 300 wickets, and this will also see him pass the records of Wasim Akram, Afridi, and Pollock, who are in possession of 3000 runs and 300 wickets. If he extends his career for another 5 years or if he plays better than his average level, he will be very close to 400 ODI wickets, which will give him the sole distinction of being the only player in ODI history with 4,000 runs and 400 wickets.
However, in Test matches, Shakib will have to extend his career for as long as he can and perform on a very high level in order to join the next tier of record holders. Shakib currently has 3862 runs and 210 wickets from 56 matches, which places him in the same rank with 12 other cricketers with 3000 runs and 200 wickets. The next level for him would be to get 300 wickets and 3,000 runs to join 9 other all-rounders, or 300 wickets with 4,000 runs to join the exclusive club of Kapil Dev, Botham, and Vettori, or 300 wickets with 5000 runs to join Kapil Dev and Botham. As he is already close to 4000 runs he should easily finish his career with over 5000 runs with an average estimate, but his biggest challenge in joining any of those exclusive clubs would be to reach the milestone of 300 Test wickets. Shakib currently stands on 210 wickets from 55 Tests. On an average, he has taken 16 wickets per year, and the most Test wickets he has taken in a calendar year was 30 wickets in 2008 followed by 29 in 2017. So, if Shakib is to reach the 300-wickets milestone in 3 years, he has to play his very best. With a five year timeline, Shakib would still need to accumulate at least 18 wickets per year which is still higher than his average of 16 wickets per annum. And, it is safe to say that Shakib will never touch Kapil Dev’s the record of 4000 runs with 400 wickets, because, at this point, 400 test wickets is out of reach for Shakib. T-20I’s, on the other hand, is the format that Shakib can use to make his case and fortify his legacy as an all-time great. Because people like Imran, Kapil, or Hadlee did not have the opportunity to showcase their skills in the T-20 format, Shakib could be the only player in history of the game with a special records in all three formats of the game. If he plays T-20I’s for another 5 years, even with a modest estimate he will become the first cricketer in history with 100 wickets and 2000 runs in every format of the game, a special distinction that may remain intact for many decades.
Immortality calls, will Shakib Al Hasan answer?
Although Shakib is in a very good position to give a solid finish to his illustrious career he has no room to relax for the rest of his years because he faces much of competition from several other all-rounders of today. As of 2019, Shakib faces legitimate challenge from at least four other active all-rounders including Ben Stokes, Jason Holder, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja who has been worthy challengers to Shakib’s place as the best all-rounder in the world and they are just as eager to secure their own legacy next to the likes of Imran, Botham, Hadee, and Kapid Dev as their records would suggest.
However, from what has become increasingly obvious in his 13 years of rollercoaster of a career, is that, Shakib’s biggest challenge comes from within himself. Throughout his career Shakib has often suffered from several unexpected injuries, performance slumps, and repeated suspensions due to disciplinary struggles. On top of that, Shakib has also taken numerous voluntary leaves that kept him out of action for significant amount of time. Henceforth, if Shakib is to cement his legacy next to some of the greatest all-rounders of all time, he must stay focused and face his inner demons. In other words, he must stay fit, remain focused, and avoid breaking the rules to make sure he does not miss any more games.
Shakib Al Hasan is very special, once in a generation cricketer, but it is his own actions and frequent performance slumps that often lead fans to questioning his commitment to the game. His talent has never been in doubt but his behaviour would often suggest that he is not completely aware of his own gifts or he doesn’t understand the responsibility of being born with such talent. That is also possibly the reason as to why he has never really been able to separate himself from his contemporary challengers or put an end to the debate over who is the best all-rounder of his time. But just when you begin to doubt his skills or write him off, he will prove everyone wrong with a double century or a 10-wicket haul with a century in the same match.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to be blessed with a life in this planet must also suffer the same fate of death. But only the very few are presented with the gift and the opportunity to live beneath our mortal lives through our deeds. Shakib must realize the significance of the opportunity that lies before him and the magnitude of the honour that awaits, because getting 3000 runs and 300 wickets both in ODI’s and Test matches is not an opportunity that comes to every other cricketer that has ever stepped foot into a cricket ground. This is beyond an opportunity of a lifetime. This is immortality directly calling on Shakib. Will Shakib Al Hasan answer?
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