Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Tribes of Batsmen in the History of Cricket

The beauty and appeal of Cricket is it offers a chance of glory for an eclectic range of players with their divergent class, differing minds or all the colours of the rainbow characters. Wisdom is never found in trying to pigeon hole these different types under headings, but I am always up for a challenge so here is my take of their various 'tribes'

1, The Don

The Man that everyone lives in the shadow of when it comes to Batting

In the Immortal and untouchable Don Bradman

2, Made Out to be a Lion, but Really a Pussy

This type usually have their reputation precede them by Media/fan hype as a result of their previous deeds being achieved in the lesser forms of the game. As they enter they are expected to be King of the Test Jungle, but are quickly exposed and usually end up to be a 'Pussy' in the highest form of the game.

The classic example going back was Graeme Hick, who before qualifying for England was Bradman like, but on getting into Tests was more like Bradmans bootlace. Michael Bevan was another one, who dominated like no other in ODI Cricket, but was ruthlessly exposed as lacking in Tests.

In the current Age stand outs of this group are Steve Smith, Adrian Barath and the Indian duo of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. All who are viewed as beasts by many that are destined to tear the game apart, but usually are left humiliated by their meekness

A similar trait of this group is their morbid fear and incompetence against the short stuff

Past Names- Graeme Hick, Vinod Kambli, Kim Hughes

Current Names- Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Adrian Barath, Steve Smith

3, The Stone Wallers.
In truth with the advent of attacking Cricket as inspired by the domination of the great West Indies and recently Steve Waugh's peerless Aussies this type of batsmen is all but extinct. Or in fact the infiltration of pyjama cricket mentality and its embrace of batting strike rate has forced this group to evolve.
The pure form of this batsman is the Geoff Boycott, Hanif Mohammad, Aakash Chopra type, who would show the makers mark to every ball they had to defend, and if the ball was anywhere off the stumps they would leave. The only time they would take risk was when they were presented with a ball that quite literal had a sign on it begging it to be hit.

Famously, a poster boy of this group in Kenny Barrington once spent 20 8 ball overs in the scorching Indian heat in the 60's without troubling the scorers!

In the current day these types have added an accumulators characteristic to their dour demeanour as seen in a player like Alastair Cook. Who back in the day would have just blunted and blunted as if he was singing the agitated audience a lullaby. Nowadays as well as waiting for the bad ball to pick off you will see a single nudged here or a 2 noodled there to keep the scoreboard ticking over and crucially rotate the strike.

Past Stonewallers- Chris Tavare, Bill Lawry, Geoff Boycott, Hanif Mohammad, Sunil Gavaskar

Current Stonewallers- Alastair Cook, Azhar Ali, Ed Cowan, Kraig Braithwaithe

4, The Artists

This group compels and leaves one awestruck with style that is so apparent in their majestic elegance 
The ball seems to make a different sound when it comes off their bats for it is always caressed without any thought of power but it dissects the field with surgical precision and races to the pickets like a tracer bullet due to the perfect timing.

Symbolic in this moment of grace is the absence of time with them having a mastery over it and you bearing witness to being lost in a moment of soul stillness as if the clock stood still to pay them homage.

They are more often than not misunderstood with them always being labelled as 'stylish' or 'elegant', but rarely if ever labelled as peerless in appreciation of their unique genius

Past Stylists- Greg Chappell, David Gower, Lawrence Rowe, Roy Dias, Saeed Anwar

Present Stylists- VVS Laxman, Marlon Samuels, Hashim Amla, Mahela Jayawardene

4, The Warriors

Like the Stone Waller, this group is all but extinct

With the Life of the batsmen being made so easy with how docile pitches have become coupled with the advances in equipment and bats that make batting so much easier

Meaning there is rarely a time when you have to face real adversity with Warriors paint on

The game lost two very refined Warriors in the Indian duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman recently. Both who when it got real tough were at their absolute best with Laxman famous for his ice in his veins when in a crisis and Dravid after his exceptional one man standing series against an English Army in 2011 had all of us in awe.

They all have that tough as teak demeanour and indestructible temperament that never breaks down and instead breaks the opposition down. Even when it is 11 on 1 as I touched on previously by looking at Dravid they never ever yield.

Famous ones from the past like Allan Border and Javed Miandad made you believe they were made of diamond for they were indestructible and the value to their Teams were priceless. Border still gives me chicken skin with his exploits such as batting with broken fingers against the might of the West Indies.

The only real notable ones left in the game now are all Veterans such as Shiv Chanderpaul, Jacques Kallis, Younis Khan and Kumar Sangakkara.

Though promisingly the stylish Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli, Azhar Ali and Michael Clarke have that warriors glint in their eye too.......

Past Warriors- Allan Border, Javed Miandad, Brian Close, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid

Current Warriors- Shiv Chanderpaul, Jacques Kallis, Younis Khan, Kumar Sangakkara

6, The Cursed

This type you have to feel sorry for with them having everything needed to succeed bar one essentially accompanying factor


The name Subramaniam Badrinath ring a bell?


Brad Hodge?

In Badrinath's case, he dominated and dominated some more in Indian First Class Cricket only to be overlooked constantly in favour of some players based on their performances in ODI Cricket. Only for them not only to fail, but be forgiven dusted off and selected again with that process repeating in almost a farcical manner.

Poor Badrinath, plays in a Test against a rampant Dale Steyn at his very best is one of the few who puts up a fight only to be discarded soon after.

A bit like Brad Hodge, who in his 6 Test career averaged 55.88 including a double century against the bowling power of South Africa in the pace friendly confines of Perth then thrown away as if he was a used dish cloth!

Both these examples were truly victimised by outside factors overlooking them, but also they were blighted by themselves through their tragic lack of timing. Both having careers in time of real strength in their National Teams.

Tragically in the games history other have been more insidiously overlooked on the basis of Regional, Religious or Race bias

Famous Cursed- Abbas Ali Baig ( India ), Faoud Bacchus ( West Indies ), Jim Allen ( West Indies )

Current Cursed- Subramaniam Badrinath ( India )

7,The Bunnies

The famous quote about this type of batsmen was in regard to notorious batting bunny Bert Ironmonger. Whose wife rang as he just walked out to bat, and on being told this over the phone such was his wife's 'confidence' in his batting that she said without hesitation that she would hold!

Basically they are the type of batsmen that just cannot bat!

The game has been littered by many famous bunnies in its past with one of the most revered being the Kiwi Chris Martin.

Who in the present Age has stunk up with the bat probably more than anyone in the history of the game

Famous Bunnies- Bert Ironmonger, Glenn McGrath, Bhagwath Chandrasehkhar

Current Bunnies- Chris Martin, Umesh Yadav

8, The Widow Makers

This title in reference to the devastation they bring to bowling attacks with their awesome array of shots and brutal power truly decapitating them...

None have come close to the aptly named Master Blaster Viv Richards in this regard who used to truly brutalise any attack. Who had a rarely seen explosive cocktail of unparalleled talent, Adonis power, ice in vein daring completed with a cold blooded killers disdain for his vastly over matched bowling victims......

No one came close to this true Legend, but the Modern Age has seen some real cavalier types that have paid him great homage.

Most notably the Indian mauler Virender Sehwag and the Aussie blaster Adam Gilchrist. Both who have ripped attacks to shreds with how incendiary their hitting is combined with their daring stroke play. The remarkable thing about both, and in particular Sehwag was that they scored some huge scores in their careers despite the fact that they had such attacking games that encompassed such risk into their play.

You can be assured that with how much effect T20 is having in the game at present that this group will swell with members as batsmen become more attacking in their play.

Past Widow Makers - Viv Richards, Sanath Jayasuriya, Adam Gilchrist, Ian Botham,

Present Widow Makers- Virender Sehwag, Dave Warner, Chris Gayle

8, Time Lords aka Genius's 

The thing that separates the very good to the exceptional is Time

How this is translated in batting is how the players deemed genius's under this label can manipulate time. Through them being able to assess what is being presented to them by bowlers quicker than anyone and controlling it. As though they had shifted a second in front of the reality to deem what is in the present as being irrelevant.

Duly when you watch the players of this ilk like Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara as seen in Modern times it is as if time stands still for them and they are above everything. Outside of the reality of what mere mortals would deem as challenging or difficult for they are so sublimely gifted it is as if they belong in fantasy

Seeing Tendulkar be so dismissive of McGrath or Lara truly dismember Murali on doctored pitches to suit the spinner and you can accept them as being transcendent.

Words truly do not pay homage to this group!

Past Time Lords aka Genius's- Viv Richards, Graeme Pollock, Garfield Sobers, Wally Hammond, Brian Lara

Present Time lords aka Genius's- Sachin Tendulkar

1 comment:

  1. Well categorised although I might not agree with the last one. I was surprised to not find Ponting either 4(artist, warrior) or in 8.