Kings,Royals home for true-blue all-rounders

Like a match that can be struck at either end,the truly dual-skilled player is not done for after one dud go and is probably one of the captain’s first choices on the team sheet.

Written by Raakesh Natraj | Jaipur | Published: April 6, 2012 12:51:19 am

Cricket’s short dalliance with the ‘super-sub’ idea was,among other things,an oblique nod to the paucity of a genuine all-rounder and the influence he could wield on the fortunes of a team. Like a match that can be struck at either end,the truly dual-skilled player is not done for after one dud go and is probably one of the captain’s first choices on the team sheet.

All-rounders are no recent phenomenon and Shane Warne was no pioneer in using all-rounders to assemble a team kevlar-like — both strong and flexible. The current valuations of Shane Watson,Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja (a combined $5.3 million in 2012’s auction) is an indicator that the rest of the league,voting with their wallets,have acknowledged the soundness of building a team around all-rounders. Success breeds imitation and most teams now are well-serviced in the all-rounder department.

However,while teams can easily replicate the basics of Warne’s premise,it is his intuitive understanding and use of resources in a 20-over format which will be harder to duplicate.

Of the lot that comprised Rajasthan’s first flourish,only Watson hasn’t flown the coop. But over time,Rajasthan have supplemented him with others — Dimitri Mascarenhas,Johan Botha,Paul Collingwood and so on. The variety that each brought (they bowled slow left arm,off-break,medium pace; some slogged while some nurdled and others accumulated) was accentuated by how Warne consistently gave them the space to flourish.

Watson was pushed up to open the batting and sometimes the bowling too; Pathan and Botha too were trusted with the new ball; Botha came in as high as one-drop. Rahul Dravid,in going for the likes of Brad Hogg,Kevon Cooper and Stuart Binny,has lent continuity to Warne’s philosophy of plumping for men with a more varied skillset.

Tribute arrived from the Adam Gilchrist-led Kings XI Punjab,who assembled a team that steered clear of the big names during the latest round of auctions,instead splashing big money,$1.4 million to be precise,on the all-round,T20-proof skills of David Hussey. The same auction yielded them three more smart buys in Stuart Broad ($400,000),Azhar Mahmood ($200,000) and James Faulkner ($190,000),all-rounders all. Come Friday and what the captains will be judged on,apart from success on the field of course,is how effectively they put their assets,especially the all-rounders,to use. And,like Warne showed,both parameters need not necessarily be unrelated. Live on Set Max,8 pm

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