The value of allrounders

Even if a team doesn’t have outstanding batsmen or bowlers in its XI, if it has two quality allrounders, then it wins more than it loses.

Both Ben Stokes (centre) and Chris Woakes (right) add balance to the English side.   -  Getty Images

England is thriving in its cold wet conditions as the West Indians and Pakistanis, who are used to playing with the sun on their backs, are trying gamely to get used to the challenges that are quite unique to playing in England.

After losing the first Test of its summer to the West Indies, England fought back to win the next two and with it the series, thanks to some lacklustre batting from the Windies. The great West Indies teams of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s had bowlers who could take 20 wickets on any surface, but they also had wonderful batsmen who knew how to bat on all surfaces. Sadly, that’s not the case now with the Windies neither having the batting nor the bowling to win regularly. Yes, they will win the odd Test, but they don't seem to have the fire in the belly to be ruthless and continue winning. The contract system has made the bellies full so the extra effort that was seen in the decades written earlier is simply not seen.

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The Pakistanis, who came next, are supposed to give a harder time to England mainly because of their new-ball attack and the canny leg spin of Yassir Shah. However, in the first Test it was once again the same story of the visiting side’s batting floundering and not putting enough runs on the board for the bowlers to win them the game. In fact, England went past its best fourth innings score in Manchester to win the game. At one stage it looked as if Pakistan would win the game comfortably, but the bowlers ran out of steam and the captain didn’t have enough ideas to break the partnership between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes. The allrounder Woakes won the man of the match award for his deeds with both bat and ball and once again underscored why he should be a permanent fixture in the England team. He looks like one of those nice guys who won’t complain at the shoddy treatment meted out to him and so gets dropped more than he should.

If India can encourage Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to play together more, these two allrounders can be game changers.   -  K. R. Deepak

What his performances have shown is how a good allrounder can make a difference to the side.

There is also the irrepressible Ben Stokes in the England team, but he now is more the batting allrounder, so to have Woakes as the bowling allrounder makes the balance of the England team almost perfect. It gives the selectors and the captain the flexibility and options that can ease the tension considerably.

Even if a team doesn’t have outstanding batsmen or bowlers in their XI, if it has two quality allrounders, then it wins more than it loses. If India can encourage Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to play together, these two allrounders can be game changers like Stokes and Woakes and also lend greater balance to the attack. Look at the number of games they have won in India and given the same backing they can do it overseas too. Ashwin has always taken his batting seriously and with Jadeja also now putting his head down like a proper batsman than the slogger he was a few years ago, the Indian batting has tremendous depth now.

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The one thing noticeable once again in the current season in England is how much time is lost because the whole ground is not covered when it rains. If the whole ground is covered then play can start within minutes of the covers being removed but we get to see the sight of puddles on the outfield which delays resumption of play. Last year, too, during the ICC World Cup games were washed out or curtailed because of this problem.

It is inexplicable how a country where it can rain any time doesn’t have full ground covers. Frankly, the broadcaster who pays an arm and a leg to get the rights should insert a clause that in case play doesn’t start because the outfield is wet, then it will deduct the fee accordingly. Nothing can be done about the weather, but surely taking the precautions to ensure a prompt resumption of play is eminently possible.

But then, who is to tell England that?

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