Originally Posted by Ali TT
... South African all rounders have tended to be match winners in one discipline only and a role player in the other, Jaques who shall not be named included.
The current trend in the English test game seems to be the opposite. Although there is an unusually large number of fine all-rounders at present, very few of them are easily movable from the middle or lower-middle order -- i.e., if they're better at bowling they wouldn't necessarily hold down a specialist bowling place, and if they're better at batting they wouldn't necessarily hold down a specialist batting place except at 5 or 6. And that goes for the wicket-keeping all-rounders too. None of the following have established themselves as a top four batsman or as reliably one of the four best bowlers, despite the fact that several of them have played quite a lot of tests already: Buttler, Bairstow, Stokes, Woakes, Curran, Moeen. Yet all 6 of these chaps are currently undroppable for the Oval, unless injured. If there are some batting/bowling all-rounders at no. 7 and above then it's possible to accommodate some of the other bowling/batting all-rounders at 8 and/or 9 even if they wouldn't be pickable in a four-man attack; but in the short or medium-term we need some of these chaps to step up in one discipline in particular. At present that lack of focused development is stunting our ability to develop new specialists in the batting in particular: Pope has been jettisoned after 3 innings simply because as a massively talented but inexperienced test batsman he needs to be bedded in at 6, but because the middle-order slots are all taken by immovable undroppables, it can't be done. And perhaps this already happened to Vince, Ballance, Westley, etc., any of whom might have made the grade had they been picked at 6 and then either dropped from there or moved up if necessary and appropriate. In the short term England will no doubt fudge it this winter, as they have done in other recent tours to the subcontinent and the UAE, by having millions of (mostly ineffective) bowlers in the team and by batting people in the top four who they don't expect to do the job long term; but really that's no solution.