Cricket is a team game played by individuals. It’s been around for more than 450 years and has spawned generations of sporting legends. Termed the ‘gentleman’s game, cricket is anything but… it’s a war of attrition where only the bravest, fittest and most skilled survive.
From the brutal battle of ‘Bodyline’, where bowlers targeted batters’ bodies for the first time in history, cricket has earned the reputation of being hard, unforgiving and potentially lethal. To spectators it’s a glorious day out at some of the most beautiful grounds in the world!
In honour of the luminaries of the game, we’ve hunted down fascinating facts about cricket. We’ve also shone a spotlight on the players who put their bodies on the line every time they face off at famous ovals, from Lords in London to Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa.
All in a Spin: Best Spin Bowlers of All-Time
Image Source: news.com.au
Shane Warne is legend. His wizardry with the ball saved more test series for Australia than we care to remember but it was his acerbic sledging that sowed the seeds of doubt in the opposing batsmen’s minds. His uncanny ability to bowl Chinamen, flippers and googlies at will mesmerised even the most accomplished of batters, so much so he collected a hutch of ‘bunnies’ - players who fell to his bowling every time they met.
At the end of his career Warne had taken 708 test and 293 One Day International (ODI) wickets. He racked up 37 five-fors and 10 ten-fors, statistics any bowler would die for!
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Enter Murali Muralitharan a right-arm off-break bowler from Sri Lanka. With his unorthodox delivery, wide eyes and incredible control of the ball Muralitharan bamboozled the best batsmen in the world including Brian Lara, Mark Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar.
When Murali hung up his boots his bowling record read as follows - 800 test wickets, 534 ODI wickets, 67 five-fors and a whopping 22 ten-fors. How’s that?
Cricket in South Africa: From Pariahs to Poster Boys
Up until the 1970s cricket was a national sport in South Africa. Apartheid changed all that and the national side was banned from all international competition for more than 20 years.
Despite decades of isolation South Africa quickly rose in the ranks and became the only member of the ICC to win a test series over all the other test playing nations… a formidable feat considering the time spent on the side lines of world cricket.
In addition to its sterling performances in tests, South Africa has produced some of the greatest players of all time. The inimitable Jacques Kallis is recognised as the world’s best all-rounder, former captain Graeme Smith is the only player in history to captain a national side for more than 100 tests and AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are ranked among the GOATS with the bat.
Dale Steyn, Alan Donald, Vernon Philander and Shaun Pollock are a select group of South African quicks who have terrorised batsmen with their speed and guile, while Jonty Rhodes will go down in the record books as one of the best fielders to grace the game.
Courts Cases to Pop Culture
Cricket was first mentioned in court testimony in 1598. Since then it’s been the subject of works by the great English poets, Lord Byron and William Blake and celebrated artists Camille Pissarro and Francis Bacon. It’s a favourite book topic and the driving force behind a host of Bollywood movies. It’s a sport that’s captured the world’s imagination for centuries… and there’s no sign of it waning in popularity!
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