Not long ago, the BCCI was trying to justify the selection of at least one relatively undistinguished player for the World Cup on the grounds that he was a “3-dimensional player”.
It is true that being a good fielder is an asset to any player (whether they are batsmen or bowlers or both). Fielding, unlike batting and bowling, does not lend itself ready to numerical measures. One can count the catches taken by a fielder, but it is not so easy to evaluate the runs saved in the field or even the pressure put on the opposing batsmen by a good outfielder.
The case of a three-dimensional performance in a Test win comes up with Ben Stokes at the second SA v Eng Test at Cape Town, which was won by England by a large margin.
Stokes contributed 47, 0-34, 5c, 72, 3-35 and 1c in England’s 189-run victory:
That is 119 runs, 3 wickets and 6 catches.
We first look at the catching records for non-keepers
5 or more catches in an innings:
The record of 5 catches in an innings is shared by 13 players, Stokes being the latest. Many of these performances have come in recent years.
6 or more catches in a match:
The record is 8 by AM Rahane. de Villiers took 8 catches as a keeper when the regular keeper de Kock was injured at the beginning of the match. A total of 43 players (or 42 if you remove de Villiers) have made 6 or more catches as a non-keeper in a match.
AM Rahane and KL Rahul are the only current players with 7 or more catches in a match.
Some other current players (notably SPD Smith) have taken 6 catches in a match.
Coming back to Ben Stokes, we can round off and say that he scored 100, took 3 wickets and made 6 catches.
Who else has done this in Tests?
100 runs, 3 wickets and 6 catches in Tests:
Only two other players. Stokes is in good company here.
Suppose we consider only two “dimensions”. Who else has Stokes emulated?
100 runs and 3 wickets:
This has happened on 338 occasions, with several players doing this on multiple occasions. Stokes himself has done so on 6 occasions.
Sobers did this on 16 occasions, followed by Kallis with 13, Botham (10) and Shakib Al Hasan (9). Ashwin and Stokes (6 apiece) are the only current players.
So that is not a particularly rare achievement.
Now we try
3 wickets and 6 catches:
Only 5 times. Apart from Woolley, Kallis and Stokes there are Vogler and Jack Gregory from long ago.
Another permutation is
100 runs and 6 catches:
This has been done only on 10 occasions, including twice by SPD Smith. Also note that Hayden is the only one to make a century AND take 7 catches. Kallis is the only one with a double century AND 6 catches.
So Stokes has achieved a rare all-round feat of 100/3/6 which had been done only twice before, by Woolley and Kallis.
Who is the only non-keeper to take 5 catches in an innings on debut?
And who is the only non-keeper to take 7 catches in a match on debut?
Which current keeper took 5 catches in an innings and 7 in the match on debut?