Sunday, January 11, 2009

ICC Cricket Hall of Fame - the Middle-order Maestros

Having tackled the openers last time out, now let’s examine the middle-order hall-of-famers:

Allan Border
Tests: Highest Rating 877 (1981), Highest Ranking 1st (1984-1987). 37 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 794 (1985), Highest Ranking 5th (1982).
The man who first moulded Australia into the number one Test team spent practically the entire decade of the 1980s in the world’s top five. He even managed to muscle his way ahead of the two West Indian greats of the time - Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge to the top spot - and his average Rating over the 1980s was 788. He never suffered a prolonged loss of form in his Test career and retired holding the record for most Tests and runs and still secure of a place in the world’s top twenty.

Donald Bradman
Tests: Highest Rating 961 (1948), Highest Ranking 1st (1931-1948). 93 matches at number 1
Once he reached number one for the third time, during the 1932/33 Bodyline series which was in part designed to limit his run-scoring, he was there to stay. He played five of the seven highest Rated innings by any Australian batsman, and the worst-ever ten-match stretch in his career still brought him 997 runs at 71.21. Even with his famous final zero at The Oval in 1948 he still spent his last twenty Tests at a higher Rating than anyone else has ever achieved in their entire careers.

Greg Chappell
Tests: Highest Rating 883 (1977), Highest Ranking 1st (1976). 12 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 921 (1981), Highest Ranking 1st (1977-1982). 71 matches at number 1
One of the select band of Test cricketers who have marked both their debut and their final matches with a century, there was also plenty to shout about in between as his unbeaten 182 against the West Indies at Sydney in January 1976 saw him rise to the top of the tree. His ODI career-high of 921 has only been bettered twice in the history of the shorter format of the game, and he also spent 128 matches as the top rated all-rounder in ODI cricket over a period ranging from 1972 to 1983.

Ian Chappell
Tests: Highest Rating 811 (1975), Highest Ranking 1st (1973). 2 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 676 (1979), Highest Ranking 1st (1972-1975). 7 matches at number 1
Like his brother, Ian Chappell made it to the top on both formats of the game, a unique achieve achievement for a pair of brothers. However, his stays were both short-lived, taking advantage of a Garry Sobers drop in form to reach number one in the Test arena, and his decision to play World Series Cricket prevented him adding significantly to his fantastic record of eight fifties in sixteen One Day Internationals.

Denis Compton
Tests: Highest Rating 917 (1948), Highest Ranking 1st (1948-1949). 13 matches at number 1
Denis Compton will forever be the answer to the quiz question: “Who took over as the number one batsman in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings after the retirement of Donald Bradman?” Two great innings against the 1948 invincible Australians enabled him to reach his career-best in that series. He made 184 in the first Test at Trent Bridge and an unbeaten 145 in the third at Old Trafford, having been forced to retire hurt early in his innings after edging a delivery from Ray Lindwall into his head.

Colin Cowdrey
Tests: Highest Rating 874 (1958), Highest Ranking 2nd (1958).
ODIs: Highest Rating 11 (1971), Highest Ranking 19th (1971).
His England team-mate Peter May prevented Cowdrey reaching the top spot early in his career, and from then onwards it was Garry Sobers who stayed at the top throughout most of the rest of his career. Nonetheless, this didn’t prevent him retiring with an England-record 114 caps, 7624 runs and 120 catches in the field, the latter of which is still unsurpassed. He emulated Sobers by playing just one ODI, but managed to outscore the West Indian legend – making one run to Sobers’s none.

David Gower
Tests: Highest Rating 822 (1986), Highest Ranking 1st (1984-1986). 17 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 919 (1983), Highest Ranking 2nd (1983)
This most stylish of left-handers established himself at the top of the Batting world after his 732 runs in the 1985 Ashes triumph. However, there was nothing like a mid-80s tour to the Caribbean to send the Rating shooting downwards, and so it proved for Gower. His ODI career-best of 919 is the fourth-highest ever, but despite that he never managed to make it to the top thanks to his peak coinciding with similar run-gluts from Viv Richards and Zaheer Abbas.

Tom Graveney
Tests: Highest Rating 672 (1957), Highest Ranking 10th (1957).
It is perhaps surprising that a man who scored 122 first-class centuries and ended with nearly five thousand Test runs at an average of 44.38 never made it higher than tenth place in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings. However, he was more of a consistent player rather than one of great peaks and troughs. From his sixth Test until his 79th and final Test his Rating only fluctuated between 512 and 672 points, an incredible testament to his regular contributions to England’s middle-order over his career.

Walter Hammond
Tests: Highest Rating 897 (1933), Highest Ranking 2nd (1929)
England’s supremo in the immediate pre-war years had the misfortune to have his career coincide with the greatest run-machine the world has ever known. He can console himself that he did manage to make it to within two points of Bradman in December 1936, but with 7249 Test runs at an average of 58.45 he is possibly the greatest batsman never to have made it to the number one spot.

Neil Harvey
Tests: Highest Rating 921 (1953), Highest Ranking 1st (1953-1955). 15 matches at number 1
This left-handed flamboyant strokemaker became the youngest Australian to score a Test century – reaching it with an all-run five, and once he entered the world’s top ten in January 1950 he stayed there until his retirement thirteen years later. Harvey entered the 1953 Ashes series on top of the world and his was the wicket England valued the most, but he disappointed despite passing 2000 runs for the tour.

George Headley
Tests: Highest Rating 915 (1948), Highest Ranking 2nd (1935).
Born in Panama and the first truly great batsman to represent the West Indies, Headley was another batsman who suffered from the ‘Bradman factor’. His career coincided almost perfectly with that of the Australian legend, but he managed to close within 22 points of the top spot soon after his unbeaten innings of 270 against England at Kingston in 1935. Despite losing six years to the Second World War, he still managed to score ten centuries in 22 Tests.

Rohan Kanhai
Tests: Highest Rating 875 (1963), Highest Ranking 1st (1966). 1 match at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 390 (1975), Highest Ranking 9th (1973).
One of the select band of three men (Australian Percy McDonnell and South African Herbie Taylor being the others) who have only topped the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen for just one match. His fifteen minutes of fame came when he sneaked into the Ken Barrington / Garry Sobers domination of the 1960s in January 1966 after Barrington failed in Sydney. He also has a pub named after him in Steve Harmison’s home town of Ashington!

Clive Lloyd
Tests: Highest Rating 818 (1983), Highest Ranking 1st (1983-1984). 13 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 805 (1985), Highest Ranking 3rd (1979).
The man who helped the West Indies become the dominant cricketing nation in the late 1970s had his moments of greatness with the bat too. Having briefly reached the Test top three in 1976 it took his unbeaten 161 against India at Kolkata in late 1983 to send him to the top spot. Despite his memorable century in the first World Cup final in 1975, his peak also came late in his career, but there have been few more feared players either with a bat in their hand or in the field in any format of the game.

Peter May
Tests: Highest Rating 941 (1956), Highest Ranking 1st (1956-1960). 53 matches at number 1
Despite playing his final Test Match at the prematurely early age of just 31, he had already spent the best part of four years at the top of the batting tree. His peak of 941 points was achieved after captaining England to Ashes success in 1956 and it has only been surpassed by four other Test batsmen. In all, he spent 22 of his 66 Test at a Rating of 900 points or more – a ratio of 33 percent which has only been bettered by Bradman.

Javed Miandad
Tests: Highest Rating 885 (1989), Highest Ranking 1st (1983-1990). 38 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 910 (1987), Highest Ranking 1st (1988-1989). 44 matches at number 1
Arguably Pakistan’s greatest batsman, he maintained a Test average of more than fifty from his debut century until his retirement nearly twenty years later. He first reached the Test top spot after scoring a mountain of runs against India in 1983 and returned there five years later after making 271 at Auckland. A record run of nine consecutive scores of fifty or more helped propel him to the top of the ODI batting tree in late 1988.

Graeme Pollock
Tests: Highest Rating 927 (1970), Highest Ranking 1st (1970). 2 matches at number 1
Like his team-mate Barry Richards, it is a case of ‘what might have been’ for this middle-order maestro. His highest Rating of 927 came in his penultimate Test – in the South African 4-0 demolition of Australia in early 1970 at the age of twenty-six. However, after that series, he had to be content with a final Test average of 60.97 and playing in sixteen unofficial ‘Tests’ against unofficial touring teams from England, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Australia.

Viv Richards
Tests: Highest Rating 938 (1981), Highest Ranking 1st (1976-1988). 179 matches at number 1
ODIs: Highest Rating 935 (1985), Highest Ranking 1st (1979-1989). 364 matches at number 1
The dominant batting force in World cricket for more than a decade, Richards spent an incredible total of 543 matches at number one in both formats of the game, a total only surpassed by Brian Lara in an era of many more international matches. He normally reserved his best for England – his 114 on his home ground of Antigua in 1981 sent him to the joint-highest Rating by a West Indian, and in the shorter form of the game, nearly 25 years on, his unbeaten 189 at Edgbaston is still rated the greatest ODI innings of all time.

Clyde Walcott
Tests: Highest Rating 938 (1955), Highest Ranking 1st (1955-1956). 20 matches at number 1
Walcott’s career peak Rating of 938 means that he shares with Viv Richards the honour of the highest-ever Test Rating achieved by a West Indian. This came after he scored two centuries in a match for the second time in the series against Australia in 1955, which made him the only batsman to score five centuries in a single Test series. One of the three W’s who thrilled crowds around the world throughout the 1950s, it is easy to forget that this 6 foot 2 inch giant of the game started his career as a wicket-keeper!

Everton Weekes
Tests: Highest Rating 927 (1956), Highest Ranking 1st (1955-1957). 10 matches at number 1
He had served notice of his impending greatness by reaching the world’s top ten in the Batting ratings after just seven Tests thanks to a record five consecutive Test centuries. Before being usurped by his fellow ‘W’ Clyde Walcott, Weekes had entered the 1955 series with Australia in the number one spot. However, he did have the last laugh as he took over from Walcott a year later thanks to a match-winning innings of 156 against New Zealand at Wellington.

Frank Worrell
Tests: Highest Rating 828 (1954), Highest Ranking 3rd (1952).
There was a time in 1954 and 1955 when all three Ws featured in the top five of the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen. Worrell may have been the only one of the triumvirate not to reach the top spot, but he was one of the most popular captains in the history of the sport. In addition, thanks to his left-arm medium pace bowling, he regularly featured in the leading all-rounder standings, peaking at number three in January 1952 only behind the Australian duo of Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall.