Kapil Dev, Hardik Pandya India’s only two genuine allrounders: Scott Styris
Scott Styris feels India have not produced allrounders better than Kapil Dev and Hardik Pandya. (AFP Image)

Former New Zealand player Scott Styris reckons that of the many allrounders to have graced Indian cricket over the years, Hardik Pandya and the legendary Kapil Dev are above everyone else. Styris, himself an allrounder for New Zealand scoring over 6000 international runs and 175 wickets across 248 appearances, on the sidelines of the Tamil Nadu Premier League, feels that a quality allrounder’s responsibilities stretches beyond his ability to just excel with both bat and ball.

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Kapil is the best allrounder India has produced, and Pandya’s immense growth just third year into his international career has prompted many to draw parallels between the two. Styris placed both over the likes of Ajit Agarkar, the Pathan brothers Irfan and Yusuf, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

“India, I think over the years have really had two and that’s Kapil Dev and Hardik Pandya. It’s not an insult to say that there aren’t any players who are genuine all-rounders. I would say there’s a lot of potential to be enhanced,” Styris said.

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“Maybe there’s a little misconception about who is an all-rounder. There are very few players who can command a spot in the team with both bat and ball. By that I mean, if your batting wasn’t any good you will still be in the team for your bowling and if your bowling wasn’t any good you will still be in the team for your batting. Over the years, worldwide there have been very few players like that. So an all-rounder isn’t someone who simply just bats and bowls, he must command a spot with one discipline. And that’s usually being in the top four or five with the bat or as a frontline bowler where no matter what, he will get three or four overs in a T20 or 10 overs in a one-dayer.

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Styris was one of the many New Zealand allrounder to be playing at the same time. From the mid-90s to the mid-2000s, New Zealand boasted the likes of Styris, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris and Nathan Astle, all considered genuine allrounder of the game and four of the best New Zealand have ever produced. Explaining the dynamics surrounding a genuine allrounder, Styris cited an example regarding one of his former New Zealand teammates.

“I think what you find with all-rounders is a mentality and a mindset that they have over other players, they always want to be in the game. They are not happy just grazing in the outfield, standing out there and not doing anything for the full 20 overs, or full 50 overs or a Test match. They want to be constantly involved. We had a great one, Chris Cairns. And Chris Cairns always talked about if he’s injured and couldn’t bowl, he didn’t feel like he was the same player, even though he would still be able to bat because he was very, very good. He needed both disciplines to feel like he was a full cricketer,” he said of Cairns, who scored 8273 runs and grabbed 420 international wickets.

As the years rolled on, Jacob Oram emerged as a big-hitting allrounder for New Zealand, as did Craig McMillan. From today’s squad, Colin de Grandhomme is a bright contender. The reason behind New Zealand having a history of producing quality allrounder stems from the fact that players, from a young age, engage in a variety of sports.

“I was like most New Zealand kids, who play a lot of sports. So you’re always involved, always active. Obviously, I wasn’t happy just standing in the field and not getting to bowl. I grew up as a batsman but it flipped over later on my First Class opportunity where I was a bowler first and batted down the order. And then I flipped back to what it always was. So you know, that’s the other thing with all-rounders, it doesn’t always develop in the same way,” he said.

“We’ve seen it in Hardik Pandya, where his batting has come on one year and the next year, the bowling is quite sharp and the next year it goes further on. You don’t improve (with bat and ball) at the same level. And so it was with myself, where it just kept flip-flopping before I got to that position where I was batting at number four for New Zealand and was a bowler too. That’s the way it was, with a mentality to be always in the game.”