By popular vote, the greatest batsman in the world today, Sachin Tendulkar has the cricketing world at his feet. The adulation he commands world over is unsurpassed, perhaps since the days of Don Bradman, to whom of course he has been compared, by no less than the great man himself. While he may not end with a Test career average of 99.94, there is little doubt that based on his vigorous style of batsmanship and his insatiable appetite for runs and big scores, he is the most complete batsman since Vivian Richards. In many ways though he has surpassed even that outstanding West Indian batsman.
When Tendulkar is on song, there is no more majestic sight in the
cricketing world. The spectators at the stadium are on their feet
cheering and all over the world, TV audiences are glued to the
screen. He has scored heavily on all kinds of wickets the world
over, in conditions which lesser mortals have not been able to
master and against bowlers whom other batsmen have found it
difficult to score off. Immensely gifted and blessed with an
impeccable technique, Tendulkar's batting is a dream, combining
timing, elegance and power. Mentally very strong, Tendulkar is best
when confronted by a challenge - as he showed when mowing down Shane
Warne in India in 1998. And the best thing from the fans' point of
view - if not the bowler's - is that the entertainment, courtesy
Tendulkar, is still at the intermission stage. Long may `The King'
continue to regale his willing subjects!.
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Born: 16 October 1975, Pinelands, Cape Town
Major Teams: Glamorgan, Middlesex, South Africa, Western Province.
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Fast Medium
After a distinctly ordinary start to his Test career, Jacques Kallis has blossomed into one of the world's leading batsmen. At 24 his career is still mostly ahead of him, but after five Tests, the South African selectors might well have been wondering if they'd misjudged him. Kallis made his Test debut against England at Kingsmead in the 1995/96 season, but by the time he had completed his fifth Test he had accumulated a grand total of 57 runs at an average of just over 8. After spending a season with Middlesex, his personal breakthrough came in Rawalpindi in 1997 when he made 61 against Pakistan. Two matches later he salvaged a draw for South Africa in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG with a fighting second innings century.
Generally a placid and undemonstrative man, Kallis nailed down the crucial number three position in the South African batting order after a number of players were tried and discarded. Even allowing for his dismal start, Kallis's average is now comfortably in the 40s and he has the potential to take it into the 50s by the end of his career. South Africa, however, may have to seriously consider exactly what they want of him. At present he is one of several all-rounders in the South African team, able to swing the ball sharply at surprising pace off a relaxed run-up, but there are many who believe that his workload as a bowler should be eased if he is to fulfill his undoubted potential. It is also probably true that Kallis has still to step up another level before he becomes the finished article.
After his unpromising start Kallis built his batting around a solid defence, but there have been times when he has misjudged the moment to switch gears into attack. This, though, will surely come and when it does Kallis will be a formidable opponent. He is a strong man with powerful shoulders and a deep chest and he possesses a wide array of attacking strokes. To add to all this, he is a fine slip fielder. It is likely that the South African team will be built around him for some years to come.
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A combination of durability, longevity and class has made Courtney Walsh one of the most successful bowlers to have played the game. His career has spanned 15 years, and he has fought through injury to play over 100 Tests, collecting a startling number of wickets along the way. Although capable of bowling very fast, especially in his younger days, Walsh's greatness is in the ability to vary his delivery, with subtle changes in pace, line, and length combined with movement in the air and off the seam. He is a tall man, and on a helpful wicket steep bounce makes him a difficult proposition for any batsman. He is accurate, and very economical in the shorter form of the game. His slightly square on action favours in-swing, and in recent years he has cut his run-up down to 13 to 14 paces. He gained much through his long partnership with Curtley Ambrose, an intimidating sight for any international openers.
He is not much of a batsman, making more Test ducks than any other player. He captained the West Indies after Richie Richardson stepped down, but his period at the helm was not marked by success and he was replaced by Lara.
A modest, affable and hard working man, he is popular amongst his team mates, and much loved by cricket fans in his native Jamaica. As West Indies cricket has battled through difficult times, Walsh has always been there, despite the restrictions of age and injury, a consummate team man, incidentally becoming the all time Test wicket-taker.
At 38 years of age he still remains West Indies' best bowler, as he sets his sight on being the first bowler to capture 500 test wickets.
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Test Debut: India v England at Lord's, 2nd Test, 1996
ODI Debut: India v West Indies at Brisbane, World Series, 1991/92
His batting is the perfect blend of elegance and power. He has all the traditional style that goes with left handed batsmanship. With superb timing he almost caresses the ball to the boundary. But when the mood gets to him - particularly in the one day game - his batting can be a murderous assault on the bowlers and a delight to the spectators. The manner in which he steps out and pounces on the ball, like a tiger on a hapless prey, is something to be enjoyed on the spot.
But then Saurav Ganguly is not just strokes and class and powerful batting. He has a sound temparament and the ability to rise to the big occasion. Only a person who is mentally strong could have responded in the manner he did to widespread criticism to his selection for the tour of England in 1996. When he first went as a teenager to Australia in 1991-92 he was far from ready for the big time, despite his manifold gifts. By the time he came back, a mixture of talent and hard work had made Ganguly capable of the dream feat with which he launched his Test career. Since then, it has been impossible to envisage an Indian team in both forms of the game without him. On the strength of his figures - he has maintained a Test career average of 50 plus - he has taken his place as among the `Big Three' of the Indian batting order. And few would deny him his place as probably the greatest Indian left hander of all time.
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Copyright © Nikhil Dandekar 1999-2000