It’s always difficult to pinpoint the greatest athlete in any sport: there are far too many. However, it is a lot easier to choose those which have had such a stellar career it is extremely hard to overlook them as great. In the last two decades, there has been a swathe of old and new generation cricketers. Here are just ten of them.
Shane Warne (Australia): considered to be one of the greatest bowlers of all time. 708 wickets in 145 tests, an extraordinary cricket brain, and his ability to spin a small red ball has mesmerised millions of people. Dubbed the ”Spin King,” it’s certainly a well deserved title.
From his debut against India in 1992-1993 and being smashed for 150, going wicketless, to his 700th test wicket at the MCG on Boxing Day 2006, there is no end to the moments he has given the cricket mad world. His ”ball of the century” to Mike Gatting in his first game on English soil will always be remembered as ”that ball.” His ability to almost ‘script his next delivery or wicket just makes him even more exciting.
It’s a given that his off field ‘escapades’ have portrayed him in somewhat of a negative light, but he will always be remembered for what he did on the cricket field. And didn’t he deliver. Bowled, Warnie.
Dale Steyn (South Africa): This guy is scary. He seems like he is 190cm tall, but in fact this bowling machine stands just 179cm. Steyn’s ability to deliver thunderbolts and extraordinarily accurate bowling continues to be one of cricket’s finest modern day bowlers. The fastest South African player to 100 test wickets, Steyn consistently bowls 140kph and over. His knack of being able to swing the ball both ways, and his natural aggression, have made him one of the most terrifying bowlers in the past five years.
Sachin Tendulkar (India): It is nigh on impossible to leave ‘The Little Master’ out of something such as this. 15,000+ runs in tests, 18,000+ runs in ODI’s, combined with 100 international centuries, makes for an impressive resume. But it’s also Tendulkar’s style and incredible skill that leaves crowds with gaping mouths. His stunning entry onto the international scene was against the Aussies in 1991-1992, where he hit 148 not out on the SCG pitch.
Tendulkar has set Indian and international crowds alight with his fluent and masterful strokeplay. A very quiet man, Tendulkar will most certainly go down as a cricketing legend.
Adam Gilchrist (Australia): Without a doubt one of the finest wicket-batsman to grace the cricketing landscape. His 100 off 57 balls at the WACA in 2006 (including a monster over off Monty Panesar) and his cracking double century are standouts. While his glovework at times might have been questionable, Gilchrist’s record as Captain (although small) is an impressive one. His arrival into the test team announced the end of former keeper Ian Healy’s career. An 81 at the Gabba and a match saving century at Hobart showed that you don’t have to be 21 to blossom.
James Anderson (England): While there are some who might disagree, Anderson has led the England bowling attack since 2008, and since then has been a stalwart in the line-up. During the 2010 Ashes series Anderson terrorised the Australian batsman, placing himself as England’s number one bowling during the five test series. Since then, Anderson has enjoyed much consistency, capturing over 53 wickets since the start of the 2011 calendar year. After injuries cruelled the earlier part of his career, Anderson has managed to push that aside and is ranked 3rd in the ICC Bowling Rankings as of August 2012.
Brian Lara (West Indies): There is no denying the man who has held (and still holds) the record for the highest test match score twice and scored just short of 12,000 is a fine player. His 277 in Sydney, his first test in Australia, announced to the world that this was a man who could tear a bowling attack apart. His 400 not out against England in 2004 is the highest score in test cricket. Even as his career neared the end he was still scoring centuries.
Jacques Kallis (South Africa): All-rounder who has a mountain of runs and taken a mountain of wickets, Kallis’ aggression when batting and wily medium pace bowling have been main the reason that at 36, he has been able to keep going. He is the only cricketer in history to achieve 11,000 runs and 250 wickets in both tests and one-dayers. He has been widely regarded in cricket circles as one of the best to play the game, and although a run of injuries in recent years has somewhat stopped him, but has since hit two test double centuries in the past two years.
Also included in this ten:
Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Wasim Akram (Pakistan) (retired in 2003)
Nathan Astle (New Zealand)
other extremely recommended candidates include:
Ricky Ponting (Australia), VVS Laxman (India), Mark Boucher (South Africa), Matthew Hayden (Australia), Shane Bond (New Zealand), Andrew Strauss (England), Kevin Pietersen (England), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan).