They are a rare breed, these artists in the guise of batsmen.
They bat with the nonchalance of a government official. They make run scoring seem like the easiest thing on earth.
They make fast bowlers' deliveries arrive at them at super slowo-mo when the less gifted at the other end are hopping about trying to save their wicket (and life!).
Words like "brilliant", "exquisite" and "sublime" seem to have been invented to describe their batting.
In an era of super-fit, hard-hitting run machines that pass for batsmen, these men make batting look like a work of art in progress. In another time, they might well have been composing music and making the Mozarts and the Beethovens nervous.
They focus on the "means" as much as the "end". They believe in entertaining themselves as much as the spectators. To them, batting is ther destiny they were born to excel in. Runs, averages and records were just unavoidable by-products of their life's purpose.
Watching them play can make spectators gasp in amazement. When they fail, you feel indignant that they have done great injustice to their abundant gifts.
They are thus the most "difficult" batsmen to follow as they can be frustrating, as much as they are exhilarating, to watch.
Here's my list of the top five "artists" in Test cricket in the last 15 years. I have deliberately avoided left-handers as I don't like to compare their artistic talent with their right-handed counterparts.
Would love to hear your comments and inputs.
Dedicated to all the cricket connoisseurs in b/r. Enjoy the show!