In an era where multi-skilled cricketers are worth their weight in gold, batting depth always lends wings to a team. Of course, by no means should it result in a compromise of the primary bowling skillset while selecting the XI.
That said, it can’t be denied that the Indian men’s team tends to struggle with regard to batting depth. This has been the case for a considerable period of time now and while it has grown in strength in the Test arena, there is work to be done as far as the white-ball setup is concerned.
Yet, over the years, quite a few Indian bowlers have made their presence felt with the willow in hand. So much so that their assurance in the middle could get someone new to the sport mistaking him for a pure batter.
On that note, let’s take a look at five Indian bowlers who could have made it big as pure batters had they honed their skills with the willow.
#5 Shardul Thakur
For his ability to break partnerships with the ball and tonking skills in clutch moments, Shardul Thakur has been fondly dubbed ‘Lord’ by his fans. In fact, his teammates jokingly refer to him as ‘Beefy’ in reference to the great Sir Ian Botham.
Thakur is clearly no flash in the pan with the bat. A sound defensive technique and long levers have made him a handy option down the order. Had he honed his skills, he might have just been another one in the assembly line of the famed ‘Bombay school of batting’.
#4 Piyush Chawla
For all his wickets by virtue of his crafty leg-spin and googlies, Piyush Chawla will fondly be remembered for hitting the title-winning runs for the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014. That said, he also happens to be the first Indian to have scored a ton on debut in the English County Championship.
A first-class batting average in excess of 31 vindicates his batting credentials to a solid extent. Had he specialized in that department, he might have succeeded well and made it big. The Indian team sure wouldn’t have complained had the option of another left-handed batter been available, would they?
#3 Anil Kumble
Former Test captain Anil Kumble is regarded as arguably the greatest match-winner that India have produced in the format. He was by no means a mug with the bat though and even posted a hundred at The Oval against England.
Kumble scored six more centuries on the first-class circuit with a highest of 154*. Enough indication of someone with decent batting talent and coupled that with his unrelenting grit to get stuck into the contest, you’d have to say he would have fared well as a batter.
#2 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar‘s compact batting technique was always there to be seen. Even before his defiance on Test debut when he assisted MS Dhoni during the latter’s belligerent double-hundred in Chennai, the Meerut-born seamer had a first-class ton to his name.
Bhuvneshwar also scored three fifties on India’s tour of England in 2014 and looked the part in the second Test at Lord’s where batting was by no means easy. A crafty exponent of swing bowling, he has all the elements that could have made him a solid top-order batter had he chosen that path instead.
#1 Ravichandran Ashwin
That Ravichandran Ashwin started off as an opening batter before turning to off-spin is reflected in his numbers. With five Test centuries and once batting as high as No. 6 for India, Ashwin is as textbook as they come with the bat.
His returns in IPL 2022 as a pinch-hitter was further proof of his constant intent to upskill as a batter. With his power game also having shot up over time, it’s safe to say that a full-time investment as a batter would have seen him excel in the domain considerably.
Which other Indian bowler do you think could have made it big as a batter had he honed his skills? Let us know in the comments below!