The Best Twenty20 Cricketers Never to Play the 20 over Game
On June 13 2003, Twenty20 cricket infiltrated the English First-Class game. In the seasons that have followed, we have come to know what attributes you need to succeed in this format. In tonight's season opener between Hampshire and Somerset at the Rose Bowl, players who are now known as Twenty20 specialists have been in action.
Spinners such as Murali Kartik and Imran Tahir can tie down the opposition's middle order and take vital wickets to slow up the run rate. Marcus Trescothick and Michael Lumb are both opening bats who can slog their team in to an unassailable lead, and Alfonso Thomas has a line and yorker length death bowling attack to compete with the very best.
But what about the players that retired before that inaugural tournament? Here we take a look at some of the players who were born to play Twenty20, but never got to show it.
Sir Garfield Sobers
Even in this picture you can see that Sir Garfield Sobers is still unhappy that he never got to hit Shaun Tait around the park in Twenty20. Sobers was an outstanding all rounder who is famously remembered for one over in English cricket. Playing for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan in 1968, the former West Indies captain hit six sixes off that one over.
You can count the number of players to have achieved this feat in First Class cricket on one hand. Herschell Gibbs and Yuvraj Singh are two batsmen who have joined the Garry Sobers club in recent years.
Sir Garfield averaged just under 55 in the First Class game at the end of his career and took over 1000 wickets. Sobers would have looked around at some of the short leg-side boundaries at English county grounds and rubbed his hands with Twenty20 glee.
Victorian Dean Jones was a top / middle order batsman that would have relished the atmosphere of the Twenty20 game, and would have got on top of plenty of bowling attacks.
Jones has a First Class average of over 50, but also averages over 45 in all the forms of the game that he played in. And whilst he only recorded one five-wicket haul, he would have been more than capable of pitching in with a four over burst in Twenty20.
In typical Aussie Style, Dean Jones is unable to keep his thoughts to himself and has got in trouble off the field on more than one occasion since retiring. His character however made him the talent he was; and whatever challenge he would have faced when he arrived at the crease in Twenty20, he would have been up to the test.
Twenty20 could have been conceived years before we ever saw it being played, but the visionaries may have been keeping it under wraps until Malcolm Marshall retired. Had the format been around at the peak of Marshall's powers, it would have been a very unfair contest.
With 85 First Class 5-wicket hauls to his name and 13 matches in which he took ten wickets, Marshall would have set all the records in Twenty20 cricket. Any batsman looking to slog him to the boundary would have seen thier stumps cascading behind them before they saw the ball.
A Devastating XI
Javed Miandad (First Class career batting average of 53.37)
Gordon Greenidge (92 centuries and 183 fifties in First Class cricket)
Viv Richards (114 centuries and 162 fifties in First Class cricket)
Mohammed Azharuddin (First Class career batting average of 51.98)
Andy Flower (Wicket-Keeper batsman with a First Class batting average of 54.05)
Sir Garfield Sobers
Waqar Younis (956 wickets in 228 First Class matches)
Richard Hadlee (102 5-wicket hauls in 342 First Class matches)
Jim Laker (This master of the art of slow bowling took 1,944 First Class wickets in his career)