XI: Picking a Team of Cricket's Shortest Players

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

XI: Picking a Team of Cricket's Shortest Players

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    Sachin Tendulkar has always been affectionately referred to as "The Little Master".
    Sachin Tendulkar has always been affectionately referred to as "The Little Master".Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    While international sport continues in its ever-evolving shift towards athletes of greater stature, cricket is sustaining its unique capacity to deliver world-class short competitors onto the global stage.

    Given that the most notable of those diminutive world beaters—Sachin Tendulkar—is set to depart the international arena, it seems like an appropriate time to select the world's finest XI of men who have overcome the obstacle of minimal height.

    Of course, batsmen of short stature have always excelled in international cricket, but there have been a handful of stars to buck the trend in other positions as well.

    So just who are the best short cricketers in the world? Which make the world's finest XI?

    Those men are presented on the following slides.

1. David Warner

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Team: Australia

    Age: 27

    Height: 170cm (5'6")

    Test Runs: 1,401

    Test Batting Average: 36.86

    Despite his short stature, Australia's David Warner is one of Test cricket's most devastating batsmen.

    Having originally made his name in the Twenty20 arena, Warner made his way into his nation's Test team in 2011, enjoying immediate success by scoring an unbeaten 123 in just his second match.

    His strokes, which are as punchy as his off-field antics, don't contain the graceful flourish that one might attribute to a classic opener, but few can rival him for sheer power.

    Now a permanent cog in Australia's XI, Warner will play a big part in the upcoming Ashes battle with England beginning on November 21.

2. Kruger Van Wyk

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    Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

    Team: New Zealand

    Age: 33

    Height: 145cm (4'8")

    Test Runs: 341

    Test Batting Average: 21.31

    Although his record is far from world-class, it was impossible to leave Kruger Van Wyk off this list.

    Currently the world's most diminutive player, Van Wyk is dwarfed by nearly every cricketer on the planet. Although he's perhaps not quite as short as the 3'9" currently quoted as his height on Wikipedia.

    However, that hasn't stopped the South African-born 33-year-old from reaching the international level, where he's competed in nine Tests for New Zealand.

    A feisty wicketkeeper-batsman, Van Wyk was once considered the next in line behind Mark Boucher for his country of birth. 

    Yet, when he was presented with a chance to move to New Zealand, he took it, which is looking like the right decision at this moment in time. 

3. Mahela Jayawardene

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    Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

    Team: Sri Lanka

    Age: 36

    Height: 173cm (5'7")

    Test Runs: 10,806

    Test Batting Average: 49.56

    Mahela Jayawardene is a true great of Sri Lankan cricket.

    An elegant and classy middle-order batsman, Jayawardene is the most prolific run scorer in his nation's Test history. In fact, at 10,806 runs, the 36-year-old is the ninth-highest Test match scorer in the history of the game.

    An upright style and a classic technique, Jayawardene is among the most delightful players to watch in world cricket.

    The short right-hander has also grown to become an excellent captain, with his calm leadership being a significant driver of Sri Lanka's regular presence in the closing stages of ICC tournaments.

4. Sachin Tendulkar

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    Paul Kane/Getty Images

    Team: India

    Age: 40

    Height: 165cm (5'4")

    Test Runs: 15,847

    Test Batting Average: 53.71

    The greatest short player of all time (even if it's an awkward-sounding title).

    Affectionately known as "The Little Master", Tendulkar is the finest player of his generation and widely considered the second-best batsman in the history of cricket behind only the incomparable Sir Donald Bradman.

    Now entering his 200th Test appearance, Tendulkar is preparing to wave goodbye to a glittering 24-year career, which started at the age of just 16 all the way back in 1989.

    His tiny physical stature is in complete contrast to his standing in the game, leaving him as the most iconic player in his sport.

5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Team: West Indies

    Age: 39

    Height: 173cm (5'7")

    Test Runs: 10,897

    Test Batting Average: 51.89

    Short, staggeringly unorthodox and immensely effective, Shivnarine Chanderpaul sits second behind Brian Lara on the list of the West Indies' most prolific Test batsmen.

    His side-on, crab-like stance at the crease almost mocks the traditional textbooks that have governed batting techniques since the game's inception. Yet that hasn't stopped Chanderpaul in his relentless pursuit of heavy scoring, with the left-hander closing in on 11,000 Test runs and 150 Test match appearances.

    Chanderpaul has also bravely held together the West Indies' fragile batting lineup since Lara's retirement, a period that has also seen other notable West Indian batsmen prioritise the alluring world of franchise-based Twenty20 cricket.

6. Asad Shafiq

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Team: Pakistan

    Age: 27

    Height: 168cm (5'5")

    Test Runs: 1,330

    Test Batting Average: 39.11

    A now-permanent member of Pakistan's Test side, Asad Shafiq has proved himself to be a classy middle-order player with plenty of flair.

    The right-hander immediately impressed during his introduction to Test cricket, scoring 61 against a strong South African side on debut.

    Although a lean spell arrived after that, three hundreds over the course of 2012 and 2013 have secured Shaifq's place in a resurgent Pakistan team, with the 28-year-old providing much-needed support for Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

7. Adnan Akmal

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Team: Pakistan

    Age: 28

    Height: 170cm (5'6")

    Test Runs: 585

    Test Batting Average: 25.43

    Test Dismissals: 71

    The third of three brothers to play—and keep wickets—for Pakistan, Adnan Akmal now looks to have locked down a place as his nation's first-choice gloveman.

    An extremely tidy and proficient keeper-batsman, Adnan may well have played for his nation far earlier had Pakistan's selection process been clearer back in 2004.

    Although he's not in the hard-hitting mold of many modern day keeper-batsmen, Adnan is a throwback to the specialist glovemen that were often selected prior to the emergence of Adam Gilchrist.

    At just 28 years of age, time is certainly on his side to forge an impressive Test career.

8. Saeed Ajmal

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    Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Team: Pakistan

    Age: 36

    Height: 165cm (5'4")

    Test Wickets: 159

    Test Bowling Average: 26.54

    Another of Pakistan's brigade of diminutive cricketers, Saeed Ajmal is a classic late bloomer who made his Test debut aged 31. However, it's clear Ajmal is intent on rapidly making up for lost time.

    His impressive average and wicket haul to date are the result of great control in flight and speed, which has also made the off-spinner a devastating operator in the limited overs formats.

    Although his stock ball isn't capable of turning around corners, Ajmal can regularly call on his hard-to-pick doosra to befuddle opposition batsmen.

    Since taking five wickets in his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Galle, Ajmal has consistently proved that he's one of the world's leading spin bowlers

9. Rangana Herath

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Team: Sri Lanka

    Age: 35

    Height: 168cm (5'5")

    Test Wickets: 200

    Test Bowling Average: 29.52

    A true journeyman in international cricket, Rangana Herath had been forced to be Muttiah Muralitharan's understudy until the off-spinner's retirement in 2010.

    However, since that point in time, Herath has grown to become Sri Lanka's leading bowler in Test cricket.

    The slow left-arm orthodox bowler relies on stamina, accuracy and a deceptive delivery, which turns back into the right-handed batsmen.

    Yet, while it's taken Herath a significant length of time to crawl out of Muralitharan's shadow, the short 35-year-old is now relishing his spell in the limelight.

10. Lasith Malinga

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Team: Sri Lanka

    Age: 30

    Height: 173cm (5'7")

    Test Wickets: 100

    Test Bowling Average: 33.15

    Finding fast bowlers of minimal height for a Test team is an incredibly difficult task.

    Consequently, Lasith Malinga finds himself in the world's finest team of vertically challenged cricketers, despite not playing a Test since 2010.

    However, that disappointing absence from the Test arena is not through a lack of desire. Instead, a lingering knee issue has prevented the lethal right-armer from competing in the game's most arduous format, limiting his involvement to limited overs cricket.

    But as his best, Malinga is among the most devastating bowlers in world cricket, capable of reducing batting lineups to rubble with his unusual, slinging style.

    Given that he's shorter than most batsmen, that's quite an accomplishment. 

11. Fidel Edwards

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Team: West Indies

    Age: 31

    Height: 165cm (5'4")

    Test Wickets: 165

    Test Bowling Average: 37.87

    Like Malinga, Fidel Edwards is a short, unconventional right-arm quick, who burst onto the Test scene after playing just one first-class match for Barbados.

    Identified by Brian Lara as a potential match winner, Edwards quickly impressed by taking five wickets against Sri Lanka on debut in June 2003.

    With raw pace and the ability to wildly swing the ball both ways, Edwards was an extremely uncomfortable customer for the world's best batsmen.

    However, back injuries have cut his Test career short, limiting his recent activity to limited overs cricket in much the same manner to that of Malinga.

    But when it comes to diminutive fast bowlers, few have rivaled Edwards in recent years.