8 Greats Who Would Have Bossed Twenty20 Cricket
Love it or hate it, you definitely cannot ignore it. The ICC World T20 is back again to catch the eyes of everyone from 16th March.
Looking at the T20 matches being played around the world, it is amazing to see how a couple of bad or good balls can change the course of the game completely. A team might dominate the opposition for 90 per cent of the match but one/two bad overs can really undo all the good work.
For that kind of turnaround you need impact players in your team, players who can throw opponents strategies out of the window, players whom opponents want to see in dressing room rather than on field.
And that is why players like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Shahid Afridi, David Warner, Sunil Narine, Saeed Ajmal, to name a few, are so feared and respected by opponents.
That brought a thought in my mind about how the former greats/players would have fared in this newest and shortest format, players who played only Tests or ODI or both (but not Twenty20, domestically or internationally).
I can think of a handful of players who in my opinion would have taken the T20 world by storm.
So, here is my list of players that the world would have loved to see playing Twenty20 cricket - in no particular order:
Sir Vivian Richards
Even God would have liked to watch Sir Viv in T20 format, the most destructive batsman of his era who can rip apart any bowling line-up even on his off days would have been an instant hit.
Sir Viv does not have any weaknesses bowlers can exploit; pitch the ball full and he will smash you through the covers with one hand, pitch it short and he will pull or hook you in his sleep.
One of the most devastating players the cricket world has ever witnessed and combine this with his awesome stats (a Test aggregate of 8540 at an average of 50.23 and an ODI average of 47 at a strike rate of 90), you feel how badly we missed the chance to witness him in a Twenty20 match.
Easily the best fast bowler and all-rounder India has ever produced, Kapil Dev was also voted India's Cricketer of the Century in 2002. A batting strike rate of 95.07 in ODIs in that era speaks volume about his ability with bat and not to forget his immaculate out-swingers with great accuracy, Kapil Dev would have walked in to any Twenty20 team.
Who can forget the counter attacking 175 not out against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup which still remains one the finest ODI innings ever played. His athleticism on the field would have been an added asset to any team where every run saved or every catch taken changes the complexion of the game.
A born leader, Imran was probably the best out of 'that' quartet of all-rounders (Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev). Imran could have played either as a specialist batsman or as a bowler in a Twenty20 match.
Give him the ball and he will fetch you wickets without conceding many or handover the bat to him and he can play any role, be it as an attacker or an accumulator of singles/twos as the situation demands.
He was mentally very strong and his sheer presence in the field inspired many others on and off the field. For sure, we missed him in Twenty20 arena.
Sir Garry Sobers
Unquestionably the best all rounder of all time, Sobers was exceptional in batting and outstanding with the ball.
He has so much variety in his bowling that he can bowl two types of spin - left-arm orthodox and wrist spin - not to forget his medium-fast bowling too.
He averaged 57.78 with the bat in Tests and his strike-rate was exceptional too. He was super fit and can field anywhere in ground. He was the rarest of the rare who could have taken the Twenty20 world by storm.
No doubt, that Bradman himself called Sobers the "five-in-one cricketer" and don't forget about him hitting six sixes in one over.
Everybody knows how effective Lasith Malinga is with his toe-crushing and how hard batsmen find it to score off him.
Now imagine the 6 foot 8 inch-tall Joel Garner bowling those toe-crushing yorkers with the same pace, if not more, ball after ball! It would have been close to impossible to face him, leave about scoring off him.
‘Big Bird’ can make the ball climb from barely short of a length and batsmen are always in two minds whether to come forward or stay back.
With a bowling average of 18.84 in ODIs and an economy rate of only 3.09, ‘Big Bird’ would have been any captain’s delight and with that height you never know whether the ball is being delivered from heaven or hell.
Primarily a right-arm medium-fast bowler with decent stats, what stands out is the batting strike rate of 104.88 that was not heard or imagined of in the era he played.
Though he got limited opportunity with the bat to display his talent, Lance was a perfect player who could have played those little cameos, which changes the flow of the game in Twenty20 cricket. A bowling all-rounder who can bat in the lower order with that kind of strike rate would have been more than handy in T20 cricket.
Sir Ian Botham
One of the most fearsome competitors, equally with bat and ball, 'Beefy' was the fastest to achieve the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Tests.
He not only played some great innings but dominated the opposition too. He could hit the cricket ball with enormous power and bowl those unplayable out-swingers.
14 centuries and 383 wickets in Test matches, a strike rate of close to 80 with bat in ODIs against the best bowlers stamp his authority in the cricketing world.
The fans from all over the world will feel unfortunate not to have had the privilege to watch him play Twenty20 cricket.
He was born with a fast bowler’s attitude but ended up being a leg-break bowler though nobody complained about that once he started to spin his magic. He was one of those rare gems during the era of fast bowling who would have foxed the batsmen with his variations.
Qadir could bowl the orthodox leg-break, top-spinner, two different googlies and the flipper; the same variations which makes the current bowlers like Ajmal and Narine so deceptive and dangerous.
Who would you have in your Twenty20 team if you could pick any player to have ever played the game? Let us know by leaving us a comment below.
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