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Could Sachin Tendulkar Be Considered an All-Rounder?
Cricket is a sport full of arbitrary definitions and statistics. One of the problems with using a player’s career stats to measure their value to a team is that a player’s career doesn’t begin when they’re at their peak, but when their team needs them.
Looking at the career statistics of a player like Daniel Vettori leads one to underestimate his value to the team. Vettori has averaged over 31 with the ball over the course of his career but has consistently ranked at or near the top of the ODI bowling rankings. If you put any cap on Vettori’s stats over the past seven years, his average drops to nearly 27 with an economy rate of less than four.
Like Vettori, Sachin Tendulkar also started his career at a very early age. If you say the word ‘batsman’ to a cricket fan, chances are they will respond with the word ‘Tendulkar’. The Little Master is synonymous with the art of swordsmanship. He also played the role of part-time bowler for India during his long career.
Applying the seven-year batting rule won’t change his stats much. His average increases from an already monstrous 45 to a shade over 46.
But if we apply the seven-year rule to his bowling, his average comes out to 32.52, with an economy rate of 5.42 and a strike rate of 35.9.
If we define an ‘all-rounder’ as someone who could build his team either batting or bowling, it is interesting to compare Tendulkar’s stats with those of other bowlers.
Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has an ODI bowling average of 33.40 and a strike rate of 46.5 (though admittedly a much better economy ratio: 4.30).
Zaheer Khan, the spearhead of India’s bowling unit in their successful World Cup campaign, has a success rate of 35.2, which is only marginally better than what Tendulkar has managed in the last seven years.
Undoubtedly an all-rounder, Jacques Kallis averages a comparable 31.76 with a strike rate of 39.5.
Currently, Tendulkar’s official ODI bowling ranking is 205th, but it should be noted that his all-time highest ranking was 41st.
Sometimes it’s better not to categorize players as ‘batsman’ or ‘all-rounder’, let the numbers speak for themselves. In Tendulkar’s case, the numbers seem to say that his batting ability has overshadowed his bowling to such an extent that he is dangerously underrated with the ball.
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