Ranking Cricket's Biggest Egomaniacs

Alex Telfer@@troyspeerFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2013

Ranking Cricket's Biggest Egomaniacs

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    Some would say that egotistical sport stars are a by-product of the treacherous journey endured while climbing to the very top of their chosen profession. That a self-centred personality is simply a method of dealing with the nerves and the crises of confidence in order to keep their rivals at bay.

    Others would say they are simply morons.

    Either way, whether flashing the cash, talking in the third person, engaging in relentless self-propaganda or maybe even covering your body with tattoos, ego comes in various shapes and forms. 

    Although football is rife with such people, the hallowed cricket grounds of the world remain refreshingly free from such boorish behaviour...don't they?

    "Roobish" as Geoff Boycott would say. Cricket is littered with egotistical personalities, and here are 10 of the very best.

10: Tino Best

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    West Indian fast-bowler Tino Best has never been short of confidence as evidenced by what, according to Tony Cozier, is his answerphone message:

    This is Tino Best speaking, the fastest bowler in the world. I can't take your call right now, but I'll get back to you as soon as I've finished practising how to get faster

    Early in his career, the Barbadian was sacked by Leek Cricket Club in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire League after a run of anti-social behaviour.

    And perhaps his most famous moment was when the 92mph paceman allowed his ego to get the better of him courtesy of a famous sledge from Andrew Flintoff.

    The likable Tino has a chequered record at the highest level where he has collected just 47 wickets at an average of over 37, but his 95 against England in 2012 will live long in the memory.

9: Marlon Samuels

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    Despite a mixed record at Test level, West Indian batsman Marlon Samuels never seems to be short of confidence.

    According to ESPNcricinfo:

    "he used to skip his schoolwork on the basis that exams were irrelevant to future Test cricketers"

    Although, he achieved his childhood dream in 2000, since bursting on to the international scene, it's been a rocky road for the Jamaican.

    He was nearly sent home from a tour of India in 2002 for disobeying a team curfew and later served a two-year ban after being implicated in a match-fixing scandal. A charge that he still denies.

    During the Windies' tour of England, a bout of verbal jousting with Jimmy Anderson entertained the masses, while an on-field dispute with Shane Warne in the Big Bash League got out of hand.

    Fortunately for Samuels, he has started to deliver on his immense promise and averages over 47 since his Test recall in 2011.

8: Glenn Maxwell

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    Anyone with the nickname "The Big Show" while averaging less than 10 in Test cricket and having scored just 47 runs in the international Twenty20 format has to make this list.

    The brash Aussie made a sensational domestic debut by blasting the fastest half century in Australian one-day history.

    And when fast-tracked into the national team, as reported by The Australian, Maxwell demurely described himself as the Baggy Green's "x-factor" before the ICC World T20 Championship. 

    However, a post-tournament haul of eight runs and one wicket suggested differently.

    That didn't stop the Mumbai Indians believing the hype and shocking the cricketing world by securing the youngster's IPL services for the small matter of $1 million.

    Again, 36 runs and zero wickets provided scant return for the Indian giants.

    Time is still on Maxwell's side but "The Big Show" needs to deliver or risk becoming more of a travelling circus.

7: Allen Stanford

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    If there was a list of people who named things after themselves then Allen Stanford would be near the top.

    But the disgraced businessman with an odd passion for cricket deserves his spot on this list too.

    Despite knowing little about the game, the American created a T20 event in the Caribbean and left people in little doubt who was behind it by calling it the Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournament and holding it at the catchily named Stanford Cricket Ground.

    And in 2008, at Stanford's bidding, the ECB controversially agreed to send the England team to play a West Indies XI entitled the Stanford Superstars in a $1 million winner-takes-all game.

    At this odd event, Stanford was embarrassingly photographed with some of the England's stars' other halves sat on his knee and mixed freely with the players.

    Unfortunately, for the Texan and even more so for those with money invested with him, his world came crashing down amidst allegations of financial irregularities, and he is currently serving a 110-year jail sentence.

6: Andrew Symonds

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    Andrew Symonds, the enigmatic Australian all-rounder, announced himself to the cricketing world by blasting a world record 20 sixes in a single first-class game for Gloucestershire aged just 20.

    A roller-coaster of a career followed with the Queenslanders attitude, ego and propensity to enjoy the amber nectar causing as many self-inflicted lows as sporting highs.

    Whether choosing to go fishing instead of attending a team meeting areported in online newspaper WAtoday, abusing Kiwi wicketkeeper Brendan McCullum on the radio or ruling himself ineligible for an award at the 2006 Allan Border Medal after being suspended by the ACB, the master blaster never did himself any favours.

    Perhaps the highlight from an anecdotal point of view, however, is when he reportedly turned up barefoot and wearing a cowboy hat for a contract meeting with Cricket Australia's then-chief executive Malcolm Speed.

    Symonds retired from the game in 2012.


5: Shoaib Akhtar

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    Shoaib Akhtar steaming in to bowl was one of cricket's greatest sights...and he knew it.

    However, the Rawalpindi Express' career was more Thomas the Tank Engine at times with the pace bowler seemingly unable to toe the line.

    Suspicions of inventing an injury in 2004. Sent home from a tour of Australia for a poor attitude in 2005. An embarrassing fight with Shahid Afridi in 2007. Banned for five years in 2008 for publicly criticising the PCB.

    After a short unsuccessful spell at Worcestershire in England, the Pears chairman John Elliot said:

    "Players like that are no good to our club. In fact, Akhtar has been no good for any club he's been at. He's a superstar and just does what he wants."

    But perhaps the following conversation with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar as described by Abhishek Mukherjee in the Daily News sums up Akhtar best:

    Shoaib: "Do you know me?"
    Tendulkar: "No."
    Shoaib: "You will, soon enough."

    In his career, Shoaib missed more than half of the Tests Pakistan played.

4: WG Grace

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    Cricket's first super hero, W.G. Grace, dominated the game for an incredible 44 seasons and amassed the small matter of 54,000 runs. But this sum was dwarfed by his ego.

    When the "Father of Cricket" was bowled first ball in an exhibition match he simply refused to be out. Replacing the bails and uttering the immortal quote:

    "They have come to watch me bat, not you bowl."

    Grace went on to score 399 not out in that innings, but after a gentle word with the scorer his total was rounded up to 400.

    The man with the beard did have a point, however, as ground entrance was often twice as much to get in when he was playing.

3: Geoff Boycott

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    Nothing shatters the dulcet tones of Henry Blofeld jabbering about pigeons on Test Match Special than the arrival in the studio of Geoffrey Boycott.

    His opinions are as strong as the forward defensive that helped him to compile 151 first-class centuries, which is one of the reasons he is loved and hated in equal measure. Another is his huge ego. 

    I loved batting and I do not use the word lightly. . . everything else in life had to come second.

    With over 8,000 Test runs to his name, nobody can argue with the cricketing achievements, but it could have been more if Boycott hadn't made himself unavailable for 30 matches due to sulkily believing he should be captain instead of Mike Denness.

    His lust for runs and self-centeredness to succeed at all costs was sometimes viewed as detrimental to the team, and it culminated in Ian Botham being sent in to deliberately run out the stubborn opener during a Test against New Zealand.

    Boycott has mellowed now, and despite remaining as forthright as ever with his opinions, he is always an entertaining media presence.

2: Kevin Pietersen

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    Where do we start with Kevin Pietersen?

    Bursting on the the Test scene in 2005 with a succession of the worst hair-dos ever seen, KP flayed the Aussies and was an instant success, but his celebrity-by-numbers approach quickly alienated many.

    The hair, the earring, the tattoos, the Pop star girlfriend, the Chelsea address, the Lamborghini...

    Nicknamed "Figjam" by the Aussies, things came to a head when, after surprisingly being appointed England captain in August 2008, he initiated a power struggle with coach Peter Moores that led to both of them leaving their positions.

    Controversy has continued to dog Pietersen's career when he strangely retired from one day international cricket aged 32, before admitting to sending texts to England's opposition and his subsequent odd video apology quickly became a Youtube sensation

    These day's a deliberate propaganda approach is improving his appeal; however, a quick glance at his Twitter bio show the ego still lurks under the surface:

    "Hubby and Daddy 1st - Sports 2nd - business boy 3rd."

1: Shane Warne

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    It must be hard not to have an ego when you are arguably the greatest spin bowler in the history of cricket. And Shane Warne doesn't let us down.

    While respected for his cricketing achievements, the Aussie's brash in-your-face approach and an ability to always be at the centre of attention has provided plenty of fuel for his detractors over the years.

    In between taking 708 wickets, Warne found time to get banned for drug usecriticise his coach and contribute a slew of outspoken comments to the media:

    "You can fry an egg on his face within two minutes." Warne on South African captain Graeme Smith

    "We had to listen to his verbal diarrhoea all the time. He is just a goose and has no idea and lacks common sense."  Warne on John Buchanan

    With his playing days behind him, the leg-spinner continues to make the headlines with new hair, new teeth, a new waistline and a highly publicised relationship with lightly talented English model Liz Hurley.

    As a commentator, Warne remains one of the most knowledgable, but he is still the only sportsman to have a musical made about him.