Stat attack: Can Ashwin emulate Kapil Dev as India’s best all rounder in tests?

Cricket is a sport where all-rounders play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the game. Be it tests or ODIs, a genuine all-rounder is a captain’s trump card in crunch situations. Selectors are always on a hunt for someone who has considerable potential with both bat and the ball.

Even though India produced some of the greatest batsmen in this sport, when it comes to all-rounders, India has always lagged behind. After many years India found one such comprehensive talent in Kapil Dev. In his career, Kapil was not only the skipper of the Indian team but also the Indian flag bearer in the all-rounder fraternity, which included some big names like Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, and Imran Khan.

After Kapil, India failed to quench its thirst for another effective all-rounder. When Ravichandran Ashwin burst onto the scene in 2011, very few could imagine the shy, soft-spoken guy would go on to become India’s premier all-rounder in coming years. After six years of international cricket, Ashwin is not just the No.2 all-rounder in tests, but also the No.2 bowler in tests.

Also read: Ind vs Aus: 5 controversial incidents which made the series a cut above the rest

 

We take a statistical deep dive to see if Ashwin stands a chance to emulate Kapil as India’s greatest all-rounder in tests:

Kapil vs Ashwin- Overview

To start off, Kapil was India’s best fast bowling all-rounder. Currently, we can say the same for Ashwin too; arguably he is indeed India’s finest spin all-rounder. While Kapil played 131 Tests, Ashwin’s five-year-old test career saw him play only 49 Tests, of which only thirteen came outside Asia.

While both their bowling skills speak for themselves, they were not pushovers with the bat. If Kapil boasts of 18 First Class centuries in 275 matches, Ashwin has 6 in 84 games. As the numbers suggest, it is a neck-to-neck tussle between the two.

Nevertheless, we chalk out some numbers and compare both the players:

Bowling performance after 49 test matches:

Player

Matches

Innings

Wickets

Average

Economy

SR

5Ws

Kapil

49

82

197

29.31

3.18

55.22

15

Ashwin

49

92

275

25.22

2.88

52.5

25

Batting comparison after 49 tests

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

Average

HS

100s

50s

Kapil

49

71

2106

31.01

126*

2

11

Ashwin

49

69

1903

32.25

124

4

10

Quite evidently, both of them are on even kneels in batting. But Ashwin seems way ahead in bowling ranks at the present scenario. There is a significant difference in the wickets column but one has to take in consideration that Ashwin is spinner while Kapil was a seamer. Considering the subcontinent pitches do not offer much assistance to quicks as it does to spinners, why not compare Ashwin and Kapil on their performance abroad and on home soil respectively?

Bowling Performance outside Asia

Player

Matches

Innings

Wickets

Average

Economy

SR

5Ws

Kapil

35

60

141

29.23

3.33

52.81

11

Ashwin

13

21

41

42.73

3.19

80.21

2

We can clearly see Ashwin struggling outside Asia with his bowling average shooting up to 42.73 from his career one of 25.22. On the other hand, Kapil is able to maintain his standards even on the spin-friendly pitches in Asia. In this case, Kapil outscores Ashwin comprehensively.

One must admit the Indian batsmen find it difficult to get going in the bouncy and seaming tracks of Australia, South Africa, and England. Therefore batting when the conditions are not favorable is another parameter on which we can compare these players to get a better idea.

Batting Performance outside Asia

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

Average

HS

100s

50s

Kapil

14

23

436

18.95

97

0

3

Ashwin

13

22

635

35.27

118

2

2

There is a glaring difference between the two in the batting average outside Asia. Even though by the end of Kapil's career, his batting average outside Asia rose to 26.56, but still it falls shy of Ashwin's. Taking into account Ashwin's batting credentials, the Indian skippers have the luxury to play a batsman less in the away series. Surely his batting does add an extra dimension to the Indian side.

Kapil Dev vs Ravi Ashwin – The conclusion

In home conditions, Ashwin is virtually unplayable. The way he teases the visiting batsmen with his deceptive variations is a treat to watch. His batting is improving gradually, which makes him a deadly package in Asia.

Erstwhile, in foreign conditions, stats say that he struggles. At least in the bowling ranks, Ashwin needs to do better outside Asia. While Kapil was equally capable of wrecking havoc with the ball both home and away, Ashwin has scope for improvement.

His performance outside the subcontinent will determine if he indeed surpasses Kapil to become India's best all-rounder in Tests till date.

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