Bengaluru, April 30: In this age of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and several other franchise cricket tournaments, bits-and-pieces cricketers are always in high demand.
As per the new terminology in Indian cricket, a “three dimensional” cricketer is someone who will sell like hot cake these times, even if for billions. But what if we had some genuine all-rounders who could challenge any specialist batsman or bowler with their diverse capacities? Unfortunately, such cricketers are hard to come by nowadays.
But the history of all-rounders in cricket is a very rich one. Especially in the 1980s, there used to be four men of the highest all-round ability who had dominated the world of cricket. They were India’s Kapil Dev, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, England’s Ian Botham and New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee.
Among the four, Kapil had the most number of runs and wickets in international cricket over 16 years (over 9,000 runs and 687 wickets) even though Imran Khan had played longer than him (21 years) for his 7,000 runs and 544 wickets. Botham played for 15 years and scored 7,000 runs and 528 wickets while Hadlee ended with around 5,000 runs and 589 wickets in a career spanning 17 years.
Of these four bowlers, Kapil and Imran had gone on to win the World Cup for their respective countries while Botham came close to becoming a World Cup-winning member but lost to Imran’s Pakistan in 1992. However, from the purely bowling point of view, Imran was considered the best among the four and he was also known to be one of the best cricketing minds the game has seen.
Kapil had served Indian cricket for long, even to the point when he was well past his prime. Along with Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil had played a big role behind India’s success stories in the 1980s although in the early 1990s, he had dragged on his career without producing desirable results towards the end. But Kapil Dev’s name will remain evergreen in the history of Indian cricket.
Ian Botham had on many occasions single-handedly guided England to win games, either with the bat or the ball. He used to be especially effective against Australia and had even won a game against them after England faced follow-on. Botham had improved his game after stepping down from captaincy in the 1980s. He played his last in the 1992 WC when he was a shadow of his former best.
Richard Hadlee, on the other hand, had come from a country which was not a big achiever in cricket but at the individual level, the Kiwi was special. The first bowler to capture 400 wickets in Test cricket, Hadlee’s stamina and skills were something worth to be appreciated (he had taken 18 wickets in a three-match Test series against India in India at the age of 37). Hadlee’s in-swing and cutters – both off and leg – had made him on the best in the business.