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Assault and Battery – I

September 18, 2008

There is something terrifying about them. It is their ability to wreak havoc to well-laid plans. Painstakingly-won advantages, over the course of hours are blown away when they arrive in full-cry. The most sanguine captains fervently hope that they don’t detonate on the day, not against their team. When they do, there is a touch of inevitability to proceedings, something that makes the opposition only hope to lose with dignity. The aura they wear does not require averages and strike rates to validate itself. They inspire a more visceral kind of terror because of their ability to annihilate oppositions in the space of an hour of play, often making a mockery of conditions and quality of opposition. And because that is something that can never be gleaned from other people’s points of view, I’ve only included those that I’ve seen play. I can fully imagine how those who’ve seen Viv Richards, the West Indian pace quartet of the 80s, Lillee and Thommo operate would consider this list pale, but then I’d set out with the minimum qualification of having first-hand experienced the goosebumps or the sinking feeling as a prerequisite to be on this list.

My top 10 list of the most fearsome cricketers in world cricket over the last couple of decades.

10 Saeed Anwar

He would probably make it to lists compiled by most Indian cricket fans, who have seen him in the mid-90s, surgically eviscerate Indian bowling attacks with monotonous regularity. Silken with his strokes square of the wicket on the off-side, he used to make it look ridiculously easy to pierce packed off-side fields. He undoubtedly preserved his best for ‘the old enemy’ as his performances were rarely in the same league against the other big guns.

Memorable performance: 194 (146) versus India – Independence Cup (1998)

9 Lance Klusener

A former South African secret service policeman, everything about Lance was unnerving. Built like a barn door, his huge baseball style back-lifts probably intimidated bowlers beginning their run-up to the wicket. Batting for him, was not about wristy flicks and open faces, but about lining up and thrashing the cover off the ball. His best performance is remembered for the wrong reasons; for officially granting SA the title of chokers.

Memorable performance: 75 (58) versus India – 5th ODI (2000)

8 Shane Warne

Perhaps more skilful than any other bowler to tweak the ball, it was his predator-like demeanour that made him the fearsome bowler he was. When on song, you couldn’t help but feel for the batting side (often England or South Africa), as one after the other, they groped and prodded and at times swung only to capitulate finally to either a flipper or a googly or a legbreak or sometimes rank hops and full tosses.

Memorable performance: 6/64 Ashes 2nd Test (1994)

7 Curtly Ambrose

At 6ft 7in, he was in the standard-issue mould of nasty West-Indian fast bowlers of the 80s except you seldom saw him use words to make a point. His loping run up to the wicket with the high release must’ve made some sight to batsmen facing him. His windmill celebrations after taking key wickets were fascinating to watch because you cringed at the thought of a teammate getting in the way. Dean Jones must still cringe about the day he complained about his white wristband, that lead him to destroy the Aussie line up taking 7 wickets for a run.

Memorable performance:7/25 v Australia (1993)

6 Andrew Symonds

Had he not mellowed into a thinking big-hitter, Symonds would’ve figured higher on my list. With immense upper body strength that enables him to muscle his shots high over midwicket, he entered the scene as a purely destructive batsman, intent on hitting everything for six. The 2003 world cup saw him shun some of those instincts and bat like someone responsible for a larger percentage of the team’s runs, more consistently. Am guessing though that we’ll see him beating a few bowling attacks senseless before he’s done

Memorable performance: 143 (125) v Pakistan (2003)

continued…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. suresh permalink
    December 16, 2008 12:30 am

    probably u forgot a Mr.Tendulkar
    Were you born after 1998 ?

  2. December 16, 2008 9:18 am

    suresh, i most certainly did not forget the gentleman you mention. my assessment of the man belies lists and comparisons to other batsmen of this or any era. You will find this post I wrote when he became the highest run scorer in test cricket:
    https://outsideedge.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/all-elseis-irrelevant/

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