The XI: Picking a Team of Cricket's Tallest Players

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2013

The XI: Picking a Team of Cricket's Tallest Players

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    Cricket isn’t generally regarded as a sport played by tall people, but over the sport’s history, there have been some notable individuals who have literally stood head and shoulders above their peers.

    Many have been pace bowlers, but it may surprise you to hear that there have been some very tall batsmen and even a wicket-keeper who have been well over 6’ in height.

    Read on for a team of cricketing giants—and comment below with anyone you think should be included.

    All stats courtesy of ESPNCricinfo.

Balance of the Side

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    First up, let’s take a look at the balance of this team.

    It closely resembles a standard cricket team, so it begins with two opening batsmen and then follows on from there.

    You may notice there are a few all-rounders, due to batsmen generally being on the small side.

    However, those all-rounders are definitely worth their place for their batting talents, as is our wicket-keeper at No. 6.

    Then, our bowling attack consists of four seamers, and you will probably agree that they are four of the most terrifying bowlers to have played the game, not only for their physical attributes.

Honourable Mentions

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    Chris Tremlett: At 6’7”, current England seamer Chris Tremlett is a giant amongst men, even among his country’s current crop of fast bowlers.

    With just 11 Tests and 15 ODIs under his belt, the Surrey paceman will want to impress on the bouncy pitches of Australia during the upcoming Ashes series.

    Abey Kuruvilla: Generally regarded as the tallest man to play for India, Abey Kuruvilla stands at an imposing 6’6” and had the potential to be a very handy fast bowler.

    However, after just 10 Tests, he was jettisoned as he did not quite have enough for the international stage.

    Cameron Cuffy: Another seam bowler who was perhaps found wanting at international level, 6’8” Cameron Cuffy played 15 Tests for the West Indies in the 1990s and early 2000s as they searched for a replacement for Curtly Ambrose.

    However, he could not hold down a regular place and was dropped in 2002 when it was clear his best days were behind him.

    Sulieman Benn: Standing at 6’7”, you might expect West Indian Sulieman Benn to be a fast bowler.

    However, he is, in fact, a left-arm spinner who can extract considerable bounce, especially on dry pitches.

    Benn does have the temperament of a fast bowler, though, as his numerous brushes with authority throughout his career show.

1. Michael Vandort

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    20 Tests; 1144 runs; 36.90 average; 140 highest score
    Height: 6’5”

    Opening up for our tall team is Sri Lankan Michael Vandort, a man who struggled to secure a place in his country’s side due to the form of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu.

    With four centuries to his name, the 33-year-old showed some potential in international cricket but was apparently finally deemed surplus to requirements by the selectors in 2008.

2. Will Jefferson

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    Height: 6’10”

    He never played full international cricket, but 6’10” opener Will Jefferson deserves his place in this team for a decent career in English county cricket since his debut in 2000.

    Playing for Essex and then Nottinghamshire, the closest Jefferson got to international cricket was the 2007 England A tour to Bangladesh, where he showed great potential.

    However, he was unable to make the step up to gain full honours and was forced to retire in 2012 with a rare hip condition.

3. Peter Fulton

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    17 Tests; 843 runs; 31.22 average; 136 highest score
    Height: 6’6”

    In at No. 3 comes Peter Fulton, the 6’6” New Zealander known as "Two-Metre Peter."

    He has been in and out of the side since making his Test debut in 2006, but when he is on form, he is an intimidating presence at the crease.

    Fulton also has the ability to open the batting, showing his great versatility as a batsman.

4. Tony Greig (c)

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    58 Tests; 3599 runs; 40.43 average; 148 highest score
    141 wickets; 32.30 average; 8-86 BBI
    Height: 6’6”

    Captaining the side and coming in at No. 4, Tony Greig was England’s premier all-rounder in the 1970s and a terrifying prospect at 6’6”.

    Greig made the most of his abilities, turning himself into a fine bowler and batsman capable of changing any match.

    His sheer size and force of personality made him one of the most charismatic characters of the period, and he was widely mourned when he sadly died in 2012.

5. George Bonnor

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    17 Tests; 512 runs; 17.06 average; 128 highest score
    Height: 6’6”

    In at No. 5 is George Bonnor, who at 6’6” was one of the tallest players in the early years of international cricket.

    A batsman who could bat anywhere in the middle order, Bonnor made his debut for Australia in 1880.

    He was known as a ferocious hitter, and while his final career statistics are not too flattering in a modern context, it must be noted he was playing on very poor pitches in the late 19th century.

6. Adrian Rollins (wk)

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    Height: 6’5”

    Keeping wicket is the 6’5” Adrian Rollins, who had a long first-class career for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the 1990s and early 2000s.

    An opening batsman by trade, Rollins was first pressed into action as a wicket-keeper by Derbyshire in 1993 and filled the role admirably.

    At such a height, Rollins was not ideally built to keep wicket, but he would do so occasionally until he retired from cricket in 2002.

7. Tom Moody

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    8 Tests; 456 runs; 32.57 average; 106 highest score
    Height: 6’7”

    In at No. 7 comes another all-rounder: the 6’7” Tom Moody, who was the first Australian—along with Steve Waugh—to win two World Cups in 1987 and 1999.

    More known for his prowess in limited-overs cricket, Moody had a short Test career as an opening batsman, although he enjoyed successful first-class stints in England and Australia.

    Now a coach, Moody continues to showcase his natural leadership abilities with the IPL’s Sunrisers Hyderabad.

8. Bruce Reid

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    27 Tests; 113 wickets; 24.63 average; 7-51 BBI
    Height: 6’8”

    Into our frontline bowling attack now and at No. 8 comes Australian Bruce Reid, the 6’8” left-arm seamer.

    He was a mainstay of the Australian attack in the late 1980s in a difficult period for the Baggy Green, with his best achievement being 13 wickets against England at Melbourne in 1990.

    However, his body could not withstand the rigours of international cricket and he was forced to retire, having played just 27 Tests and 61 ODIs.

9. Curtly Ambrose

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    98 Tests; 405 wickets; 20.99 average; 8-45 BBI
    Height: 6’7”

    A terrifying prospect with the new ball, West Indian Curtly Ambrose made use of his enormous frame to take tremendous amounts of wickets from 1988 until 2000.

    Something of a silent assassin on the field, Ambrose utilised the "corridor of uncertainty" to great effect and also was one of the best at exploiting uneven bounce anywhere in the world.

    He did not just rely on steepling bounce, however, and was also able to use movement off the seam when the pitch was flat.

10. Joel Garner

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    58 Tests; 259 wickets; 20.97 average; 2.47 economy rate; 6-56 BBI
    Height: 6’8”

    Alongside Ambrose is Joel Garner, the man known as "Big Bird."

    Using his 6’8” height to great effect, Garner bowled toe-crushing yorkers and steepling bouncers to play a key role in the dominant West Indian pace corps of the 1980s.

    His low average of just 20.97 shows just how hard he was to score off.

11. Mohammad Irfan

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    4 Tests; 10 wickets; 38.90 average; 3-44 BBI
    Height: 7’1”

    Still early in his international career, the 7’1” Mohammad Irfan is the tallest man to ever play international cricket.

    Pakistan’s left-armer can generate incredible bounce given his height, and he towers over his team-mates as Garner and Ambrose did a generation ago.

    If he can find a way to utilise his talents and physical attributes consistently, Irfan will be quite a handful on the international circuit.