Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Taggin' the Batsmen Continues.. (Part II)

The tagging continues.. Phew, I had to complete this..

Flamboyance: defines it as 'strikingly bold or brilliant'. Flamboyance gets them noticed, but there have been times, when they have had to pay a huge price for the same. The off-field behavior definitely adds to the flambo exhibited on the field. Anyways, my picks in this category -

Herschelle Gibbs - Very few batsmen in contemporary cricket match his skills in batsmanship. Though the same can't be said about his statistics, but then flamboyance says - 'who cares?'. No one more than Gibbs fits in this category better. A terrific eye, with an equally brilliant hand eye co-ordination has seen him flay great bowling attacks all over the park. There is no shot beyond his compass, be it the hoik over extra cover for six, or a flat batted pull over mid wicket - he does it all. His disdainful 111 ball 175 in the 'cracker of the century' against the Aussies was a carnage, a "beautiful" carnage.. A terrific talent however shows an average of just under 36 in the limited edition of the game. Gibbs doesn't loose his dashing abilities in the longer format either. 14 centuries at an average of 43 odd is nothing special in this era of run machines. But Gibbs' contribution to the game is more than that. Aussies still rate him as the real danger, who's capable of changing the match with the bat or through his fielding. Be it the conditions, the opponent or the situation, this bloke does it everytime the same way. He gives it a dash and there have been numerous occasions he has let his team down. I still r'ber this in the match where they were chasing 434 - Gibbs murders Symonds over the deep mid wicket with not the best of timing. Tony Greig (on the mike) says, that Gibbs needs to be a bit careful and not just plain stupid goin' for his shots every ball. Next ball, Gibbs does the same, and again the ball sails for the maximum. He tries to do it the third time, and the result - he's gone. Well, there are few blokes you just can't do anythin' about.. and you can't do anything without.

Brian Charles Lara - Do I need to say anything about him? He's 37 and still plays pretty much the same way. Ball pitches on the off stump at good length, he shuffles a bit.. and whack.. it disappears over the cover fence. The bowler tries to compensate by bowling straighter. He shuffles again, goes on one leg, pulls it to backward square leg (he's got to have a patent for that, check the pic above). Errrrrrrr....... The bowler(by then in complete disarray) just bowls.. and guess what Lara gets out!! This has happened quite a few times, but takes away nothin' from arguably the best batsman of his generation. Yeah, arguably, coz I still say, Sach's the best.. Anyways, this is what I remember from a sequence of deliveries against the Aussies, I think in 96-97 at Adelaide - Warne bowls and Lara hits him on top of long on stands, next one goes the same way. Third one, Warne bowls a bouncer!! Fourth one goes again.. in the stands.. And all this happened, while the long on fielder was there!

Ricky Ponting - A run machine, he literally goes berserk when on song. Even being a skipper hasn't changed him a lot. Probably the way the entire Aussie team backs up goes in his favor. The audacious pull shot - probably there's never been anyone in the history of the game, who can pull it with such disdain. They say, Mohinder Amarnath was one belligerent player along with David Hookes, but then to do it for 10 odd years on a consistent basis is something special. Although he looks a bit out of place in this team of huge blokes, but this 1.78m dude (below avg by Aussie demographics) displays such outrageous strokeplay in the big games, that its virtually sweepstakes for anyone who bets on him to score runs. Be it his unbeaten 140 in the WC 2003 or his tally 576 runs in the recently concluded Ashes - He delivers it almost at will, and more so when his team needs it. But the most striking part is that, he delivers it with a panache that kills down the oppposition. His form of late.. well not late though - his form since the last world cup has been nothing short of miraculous. Ritchie Benaud says that the No. 3 position is the most important in any team in either format of the game. When Ponting strides out to the middle to bat, he makes it entirely his..

Chris Gayle, Dean Jones - The tall, lanky left hander just knows one thing. To hit the ball, and to hit it really hard. But I still feel he'd suit better to this category than the 'Cherry Hitters', coz he's got the technique and off late he's been showing that he's got the patience as well. Be it Glenn Mcgrath or Shaun Pollock, it just doesn't matter to him. He'd still step down the track and swat one over long on. Since a year or so, the consistency that Gayle has displayed makes him even more dangerous. Another name that comes into my mind is of Dean Jones - I saw him first in the 92 WC, and became an instant fan of his. A very busy player, who perhaps was not only the best runner between the wickets the cricketing world has ever seen, but he also had this ability to hit the ball really hard with grace. Possessing a fabulour technique, which helped him to score one of the best innings you'd ever see, a dare to death 210 against India, where he landed up in the hospital and was on saline drips. Going by the facts, how many cricketers off the 80s and the early 90s can boast of this combo - An avg of 47 in the tests and 45 in the ODIs. It won't be incorrect to say that he was probably the first in this generation of flamboyant batsment who literally toyed with the opposition. He made the game prettier to watch and was one the most influential figures, who changed the way cricket was played.

Cherry Hitters - 'The Slam Bang.. Thank You Mam' folks.. The players who get the crowds goin' and the mexican waves rolling faster by the minute. No matter what the situation is, but if the ball is there to be hit(by their standards), it has to go. They might not portray the best of the averages, but then they keep the game simple. :)

Santh Jayasuriya - 23 hundreds at an incredible strike rate of 90 runs/100 balls speaks volumes of this man who has clearly demarcated the cricket period into a pre World Cup '96 era to a post World Cup '96 one. 50/0 in the first 15 overs was the goal before, it was considered a cardinal sin thereafter. There are a couple of shots which could probably be named as 'Sanath Specials' - the upper cut over point which more often than not sailed into the stands and the flick pull which yielded the same result, this time over square leg. He is now 37 and was looking done and out a year back, but the way he's come back has been nothing short of inspirational. As always, he's again the key if the Lankans wants to bring back the cup. Yeah, have talked nothin' 'bout his bowling which is more than handy, but then we are talkin' bout the batsmen, ain't we.. And yeah, don't go by his avg which stands at 33 in the ODIs.. Ask the bowlers, they'll tell you better. Moreover, this bloke like the others in this category has ample doses of temparament. An avg of 40 odd in the test matches with 14 hundreds pay testimony to this fact. Its simple get him out as soon as possible, or you'll be history.. Just a measure of his power - he's hit 222 6's in the ODIs!

Andrew Symonds - 'Roy' as he's known asE has been one of the umpteen talented cricketers produced by Australia. The way he's grown to become a reliable player over the years while still retaining his ultra attacking instincts has been one of the chief reasons in the Aussies doing so well in the limited overs version of the game. At 1.87m, and batting in the lower middle order, he appears to be a huge obstacle and any team is virtually 'prohibited' to relax while he's still there. Signature hit - A couple of steps down the track, and hoick it over wide long on. It doesn't just clear the ropes.. it goes 15 rows back. Earlier he used to be like a 'flash in the pan', now he's settled down and become increasingly consistent. Averaging a whopping 163 in the WC'03 was a turning point in his career. Aus 4/86 and in more than a spot of bother against the raging Pakistanis - earlier in the day, Shane Warne was already sent back to Australia facing doping charged.. Enter Symonds, and Aussies end up scoring 310, with 'Roy' contributing a career defining 143 off 125 balls. They won both the match and from there on the Cup in great style. But off late, he's been showing his abilities in the Test arena as well. In the Ashes he made a ruthless 156 and complete knocked out the Poms out of the game. Well, there were quite a few retirees during the mass exodus from their team this season, but then it doesn't matter.. Somehow from down under they just keep comin'..

Mark Greatbatch - I really don't know where he suddenly appeared in the Kiwi team of 92 WC, but he gets the nod here because he shocked one and all in that tournament. As though the Kerry Packer Pyjama cricket into the world cups for the first time wasn't revolutionary enough, Greatbatch contributed his bit as well. A short career of 84 ODIs with an average of 28.28, which is below par for an opener just doesn't justify his contribution to this game. I still remember, he wasn't in the squad for the first couple of matches. But thereafter he just stormed scoring 313 runs at an avg of 44. The crucial aspect of all these runs was the pace at which they were scored. He started the tradition of pinch hitting, which Jayasuriya elevated to an entirely new level. His counter attack left the bowlers running for cover and the captains shocked.

A couple of other tags also come along, but then I won't be commenting on them right now. They come close but again they have to extend their streak over a period of time to be counted amongst the best.

To Early to classify -
Michael Hussey (contender for doggedness)
Kevin Pietersen a.k.a KP (contender for flamboyance)
MS Dhoni(contender for Cherry Hitters)

A couple of guys for me need a special mention. Terrific talent, lets see how they come about -
AB DeVilliers - Is he the next Jonty for them? Extra special fielder + run-a-ball batsman?
Ross Taylor - Have the Kiwis finally found a special batting talent?

Enough of taggin' done. Well I'd keep my thinking cap on, and you keep your comments comin' and tag for yourself. This can get really interesting. :D
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amol said...

Great effort....just a few comments...

No Viv Richards in Flamboyance!!!! This is just not pardonable.. I think the word flamboyance was synonymous with him. Never a helmet, full of confidence, what a player...

Shahid Afridi should (or has to) feature in both the categories Flamboyance and Cherry Hitters. I have never seen anybody hitting so hard and so big..Loads of attitude and power to boot makes him a real threat to all oppositions (especially India). He is extremely inconsistent but whichever game he fires, boy it is only fire....

And then Gilchrist... how could you rule him out in either of the categories... I agree Mcgrath, Warne, Ponting, Waugh made Australia what they are (almost invincible) I would suggest Gillie has played his own part and has made that huge difference between Aussies and other teams happen. It was due to him we realised how imp it is to have a wktkeeper who is an excellent bat. Be it one dayers or tests he always plays his game and is a huge hitter and has loads of flamboyance.

And No Ganguly in Cherry Hitters... I guess his sixes are easily one of the best.. put a left arm orthodox spinner and see Ganguly coming down the track and whack... it also goes much beyond the ropes.

Sachin could have also made it to Flamboyance but then he is off form for quite sometime now....his bowling is much better to see.. personally I hate to see Sachin struggling with a bat...

BTW doggedness missed Miandad, Gavaskar as well...

Paranoid.. said...

:D well, Viv Richards, Gav, Miandad et al.. they were greats, no doubt, but then I was talkin' bout the players from the era of 90s and ahead. So that kinda rules them out(though Miandad played till the WC'96, but it was more in the 80s that he created a real havoc).. isn't it?

There are a huge no. of players, but yeah, gotta admit I did miss out on Gilchrist.. heck, he had to be there.. Shahid Afridi - nopes, I still won't include him, coz though he's a real big hitter, but he just hasn't done anythin' substantial apart from a few innings that too bearin' a sporadic graph. Though I did mention 'bout the averages, but then we even have to size up the contribution that those folks in my list made. Afridi fell short, no doubt.

amol said...

Ok ok after 90's I missed out on that one....

Cherry Hitters and Flamboyance I would say has little to do with contribution. It is simply about charisma a player has... On that count Gibbs does not fit in as you mention that despite all that talent he has hardly stood up to his potential. I still think Afridi shd be there in Hitters if not flamboyance....

How about Chris Cairns... contributed little as per his potential but what a player...has won quite a few matches for NZ...after him the team is really struggling....