World’s number-one all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is a rare talent who could command a place in the Bangladesh team as either a batsman or a bowler in an age of increasing specialisation in cricket.
The 32-year-old has others for company at the World Cup, including West Indies captain Jason Holder and England’s Ben Stokes.
But today’s all-rounders do not have the same profile as they did during a golden era in the 1980s when England’s Ian Botham, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Kapil Dev of India and New Zealander Richard Hadlee vied for top-dog status in the global game.
Shakib, the world’s top-rated all-rounder in one-day internationals, inspired Bangladesh to a convincing win over Afghanistan with his five wickets and 51 runs on Monday, matching Yuvraj Singh’s feat for India at the 2011 World Cup.
Shakib has scored 476 runs with two centuries and three fifties in six games in England and Wales and has also picked up 10 wickets.
Stokes and New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme have also caught the eye during the round-robin phase but Shakib, a left-arm spinner and left-handed batsman, has been the standout all-rounder.
Former West Indies paceman Ian Bishop said such players remained sought after.
“Everyone wants an Imran Khan (the current Pakistan prime minister who led his team to a 1992 World Cup triumph) or Shakib Al Hasan but they don’t fall out of the trees,” he said.
“Every team wants one of those (all-rounders). You don’t go out and buy those. The core of the team is always built around the specialist but the all-rounder still has its place.
“If you look at New Zealand and Colin de Grandhomme chipping in. England have a number of guys who are specialist bowlers but they can also bat and that is what makes them such a strong unit.”
India have unearthed Hardik Pandya as a genuine all-rounder to follow in Kapil’s footsteps but he is yet to fire fully at the World Cup.
England star Stokes made his presence felt in a losing cause against Sri Lanka when he hit an unbeaten 82 and bowled five overs for just 16 runs.
Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh believes all-rounders such as Pandya and Stokes justify their places as batsmen or bowlers.
“Hardik Pandya fits any batting position, the kind of technique he has got. He can bat at three, four, five, six or seven in different moulds at all times as the situation demands and is a proper bowler,” Harbhajan said.
“If you have all-rounders like him or Ben Stokes, they will fit in any squad, Test or one-day. They are specialists in both departments. They are not bits-and-pieces players.
“Hardik or Stokes can play just as a batsman because they are good enough and can play just as bowlers.”