Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

The agent of Bayer Leverkusen star, Leon Bailey, has reacted angrily to statements made by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in response to comments made by his player on Instagram.

Earlier this week, JFF president, Michael Ricketts, and his general secretary, Dalton Wint, indicated anger at comments the player made suggesting the organization would be at fault if the Reggae Boyz were not at the next World Cup in Qatar.

The JFF was also displeased with Bailey’s criticism of Reggae Boyz coach, Theodore Whitmore.

Bailey had suggested that Whitmore’s squad rotation policy was counterproductive and didn’t engender the building of chemistry among players.

According to Butler, Bailey’s comments were made to a friend talking to him about his life, suggesting that the player was free to have an opinion in his private capacity.

Both Wint and Ricketts had suggested that there were contractual obligations that the player had that would make his comments out of order but Butler has refuted this as well, saying while Bailey has been playing for Jamaica, there is no contract between him and the JFF.

Wint had said he would be issuing a cease and desist order on the player in a bid to show the JFF would not be tolerating that kind of behaviour but Butler has said the organization has no legal standing to issue such an order given that the two entities have no contract.

“We as the management of Leon Bailey had sought a contractual agreement with the Jamaica Football Federation with the player. In this way, the player would be entitled to know what is and is not expected or allowed by the JFF and our client would be also aware of what to expect as compensation for his services.

“To date, our client has not been provided a contract to agree or not agree to,” read a statement from Phoenix Sports Management on Butler’s Facebook page.

“Article 3 of the Fifa statutes address the right to freedom of speech and also the responsibility of officials to ensure that freedom of speech and expression is not compromised,” read the statement.

Butler also went on to say Bailey’s statements were right on the money with the JFF being directly responsible for the success or failure of its senior unit given that it was in charge of team selection.

“He [Bailey] lay the responsibility for success or failure directly at the feet of those ultimately responsible for selection, team management and business negotiations. The Jamaica Football Federation

There can be no Authority without Responsibility,” the statement read.

“Nothing in Bailey's verbiage was libellous or inaccurate,” it went on.

Butler went on to speak about player compensation, placing the blame, at least in part, for an injury Bailey suffered because of the lack of payment.

“Our client has had to pay his own airfare to games. Our client suffered a hamstring injury which was clearly contributed to by having to fly 13 hours with several stops in economy and then asked to train the very next day,” Butler’s statement read.

According to Bailey’s management team, issues like the one mentioned in the statement are just some of the facts Bailey could have revealed but chose not to, even though it is his right.

“Our client has to date not been compensated even one penny by the JFF after promising to pay the players after the last game. Our client had not exposed this to the public or that this was an across the board situation of mismanagement by the JFF.

Our client could have said many things yet he decided against doing anything other than put things in true perspective.”

According to Phoenix Management, Bailey has spoken out about poor treatment in his capacity as a club player but faced no sanctions by the club because it was seen as his right. The same, he said, has been true of others in the JFF hierarchy, who have faced no sanctions.

“Carvel Stewart president of HARBOUR VIEW FC RECENTLY made some scathing remarks regarding the JFF and its leadership and protocols. Yet we haven’t heard of any sanctioning of this a JFF board member in a leadership capacity,” read the statement.

According to Phoenix management, Bailey’s statements are correct and it stands behind them.

But the management team went even further, suggesting Bailey would stop playing for the national team if it were proven that any of his statements were untrue.

“Should it be in the best interest of football, Leon has no problems taking time off international football if his countrymen and teammates believe his statements are untrue.

He has to travel long distances to come back to Jamaica from Europe to train and perform for his country. If the country does not want him, then we will consider our options for him during international breaks to be to work on his attributes and skills.”

Brad Haddin’s arrival to Test cricket was delayed until he was 30 years old because of a man called Adam Gilchrist, who was unmovable in the Australian Test side. However, once he did, he proved to be a brilliant replacement with the gloves. Uncompromising as is the expectation for a wicketkeeper, Haddin was also brilliant at diving around and picking up wickets, maybe other wicketkeepers would not have been able to get to. His acrobatics meant he would end up with 270 dismissals in just 66 Tests, a phenomenal average, even of his career started late. As a wicketkeeper-batsman, he failed to live up to the heady heights of Gilchrist but still had a healthy average of 32.98 which was got to, in part, with his four centuries and 18 half-centuries.

Career Statistics

Full name: Bradley James Haddin

Born: October 23, 1977, Cowra, New South Wales

Major teams: Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Islamabad United, Kolkata Knight Riders, New South Wales, Sydney Sixers

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

Height: 1.80 m

 

Test Career: Australia (2008-2015)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS     Ave      BF      SR        100s    50s     Ct          St

66        112    13      3266    169    32.98    5587   58.45       4       18       262          8

 

Career Highlights

  • 6th most dismissals in Tests (270)
  • Scored 4 centuries 18 half-centuries
  • Averaged 32.99 with the bat
  • Tallied 3266 runs as a wicket-keeper

South African batsman Abraham Benjamin de Villiers was just an excellent athlete. As a fielder he was superb and when he took the gloves there was no difference between himself and a wicketkeeper who had spent all their career behind the stumps. AB de Villiers is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s greatest cricketers. Batting from anywhere from one to eight in the South Africa line-up, his versatility as a batsman is world-renowned. Over the course of 114 Tests, de Villiers would end up with an average of 50.66, 8,765 runs, 22 hundreds and 46 half-centuries, a career with the bat that anybody could be proud of.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Abraham Benjamin de Villiers

Born: February 17, 1984, Pretoria

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Barbados Tridents, Botha XI, Brisbane Heat, Delhi Daredevils, Jacques Kallis Invitational XI, Lahore Qalandars, Middlesex, North Eastern Transvaal, Northerns, Pretoria University, Proteas, Rangpur Riders, Rest of South Africa, Royal Challengers Bangalore, South Africa A, South Africa Under-19s, Titans, Tshwane Spartans

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

 

Test Career:   South Africa (2004-2018)

 Mat   Inns    NO     Runs     HS      Ave     BF          SR      100s    50s    Ct      St

114    191      18      8765      278*   50.66   16077    54.51     22       46    222      5

 

Career Highlights

  • Played 24 Tests as a wicket-keeper/batsman
  • Highest batting average for a wicket-keeper (57.42)
  • 7 of his 22 hundreds came as a wicket-keeper
  • 7 of his 46 fifties came as a wicket-keeper

There has been a long-running argument about what Jamaica can do to help push along its football development with many pundits voicing many different opinions.

One of the most successful schoolboy football coaches in recent history, former Jamaica College head honcho, Miguel Coley sat down with Tanya Lee on ‘Sports Chat’ recently and pointed to another way of looking at that development.

According to Coley, all the arguments about developing fields to generate good habits among young footballers will count for nought if the country does not understand how to manage its talent.

“Management of players is very, very important. We have not lacked talent but what we lack is properly managing our players,” the former Reggae Boyz assistant coach explained.

Coley compared the way other more successful sports in the country, like track and field are treated and believes football should take its cue from them.

“If you look at any other sport, like track and field, for example, that athlete needs management around him, he needs maybe his doctor, a physiotherapist, all different stakeholders that support him. In football, when we have very good players, we don’t have a good management system around them. They are injured, they cannot go to the doctor, they cannot find finances to do this and that,” he said.

Coley, who rose to fame after his Jamaica College units won every title you could think of over the course of seven years, said putting a good management team in place for good young players will engender professional habits and lead to better footballers.

“We have to identify our good young players from early, put a good management team around them and let them start feeling and seeing themselves as being on the doorstep of being a professional player,” he said.

Coley was not ignoring the other issues within football in Jamaica but said he believed development would occur even without them being resolved.

“People will say you need a lot of resources and money, but what we need more of is personnel. We know the problems with our fields, and many countries have issues with fields, so it is no problem sometimes you play on a bad field, and you grow from that level. We definitely need better fields in the country, but I think more than anything else it’s the management,” he said.

Coley, who is assistant coach at United Arab Emirates side Banniyas, also believes that management goes hand in hand with good coaching and wants the coaches in the country to up their level.

“We also have to get our coaches to a level where it is not only about being certified but to have the experience now to take our talents to the next level,” said Coley.

“For our football to improve, or for education on anything to improve, your teachers and coaches have to be at a certain level. You’re not going to be lecturing at the university with a diploma, you need a doctorate or maybe a masters, so that is something that has to improve. And this has nothing to do with our coaches not being good, but they have to be at a certain level to bring that talent because Jamaica has the raw, raw, talent, just bring the coaches to a certain level.”

Grenada wicketkeeper Junior Murray was always going to have a tough time in the West Indies lineup.

This wasn’t because Murray wasn’t a talented player, but rather what he came to the lineup to do.

Peter Jeffrey Dujon had left the West Indies after 10 years wicketkeeping to the quickest and most fearsome bowlers the region and maybe the world had ever produced.

The svelt, stylish wicketkeeper was replaced by the diminutive David Williams of Trinidad and Tobago, but that relationship had only lasted 11 Test matches.

Williams size meant he wasn’t able to make the tremendous leaps it took to grab a hold of some of the edges from batsmen or even the odd errant delivery from some of West Indies’ quicks.

His stint with the gloves for the West Indies soon came to an end and it was the hope that Murray, who came into the side, would now be an adequate replacement for Dujon.

And maybe it wasn’t fair to place the big shadow that the skinny Dujon cast on Murray, and while he never quite replaced Dujon, he didn’t wilt under the pressure either.

Murray wasn’t a natural wicketkeeper and had started out as a batsman for the Windward Islands. Even after taking the gloves, he never looked the part. Some thought he was too tall, and others thought his hands weren’t soft enough to be a good gloveman. Still, others questioned his ability to bat at the highest level despite his background as a batsman.

Well, in the first innings of the second Test on a tour of New Zealand, Murray came to the party.

Choosing to bat, a careful Stewart Williams and Sherwin Campbell made their way to 85 before the former went for an unusually slow 26.

Brian Lara, batting at his preferred number three in the lineup at the time, joined Campbell and the two, led by the Trinidad and Tobago batsman, put on 49 before the latter went for a well-played 88.

Lara (147) would go on to share a partnership of 221 with Jimmy Adams (151). Keith Arthurton, batting at an increasingly familiar five in the West Indies lineup also got in on the run-scoring game, scoring a patient 70 in a partnership of 94 with Adams then one worth 72 with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who would end up unbeaten on 61 when the West Indies declared the innings.

That declaration, 660-5, came earlier than expected, as everybody, except for Lara had to score quite slowly based on the nature of the pitch.

Lara though scored his 147 from just 181 deliveries, slamming 24 fours with a strike rate over more than 80.

Only Murray would do better. Thinking team first, the wicketkeeper threw caution to the wind, slamming 11 fours and two sixes, as well as some really aggressive running between the wickets with Chanderpaul.

So dominant was the wicketkeeper-batsman that he scored 101 from the 139-run partnership he shared with Chanderpaul, for his first and only Test century.

Murray showed he could bat. He did have the dangerous Danny Morrison to contend with, showing he had no problem dealing with pace.

This story could have easily been about Courtney Walsh though, as the eventual man-of-the-match bagged 7-37 in New Zealand’s first innings before returning to 6-18 in the second and a match haul of 13-55.

But Walsh had many an occasion in the sun for the West Indies and I wanted to point tp the exploits of a player from the Windward Islands, a region often overlooked unless it was to find a bowler.

Murray’s century, coming from just 88 deliveries gave the West Indies three days to get the New Zealand side out twice.

They did, Walsh’s heroics skittling them out for 216 and 122, ending the game inside four days. The West Indies would win the two-match series 1-0.

The century meant more than you would at first believe though. It meant Murray became only the second player from the Windward Islands to score a century for the West Indies after Irvine Shillingford did so in 1976 against Pakistan.

The Windward Islands have waited for a long time to get going in the production of long-standing West Indies players since the grouping of islands never started playing in the region’s first-class competition until 1959.

The group of islands made up of Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have never won the West Indies Championship as it is called today, but they have produced some good cricketers along the way.

In continuance of creating an all-time West Indies Championship we have sought to have a look at the best players from each territory in a bid to see just what that competition would look like.

 

Windward Islands Best XI


Devon Smith (Grenada)

Devon Smith is one of the most prolific scorers in the history of first-class cricket in the region and over the last 22 years, he has almost consistently put his hands up for a chance to play at the Test level. He has not performed particularly well there, with just one century and eight half-centuries in 43 games, but at the first-class level, in 217 matches the opener has scored 38 centuries and 63 half-centuries at an average of 39.78.        

 

First-class Career: Grenada 1998-present

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS        Ave      100s      50s   

217     395      26     14681     212      39.78       38        63


 

Irvine Shillingford

Irvine Shillingford was so talented that he made his first-class debut at just 16 years old, though he never played again until he was 20. Batting against a touring Australian side, and despite enjoying a fruitful career for the Combined Islands with 11 centuries and 28 half-centuries, he would not get a West Indies opportunity until he was 32 years old. Still, in just four games, he scored a century of 120, but there was little in between and he was dropped.

First-class Career: Dominica 1961–1982

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave     100s     50s   

92       157       8      5449     238    36.57      11       28

 

Lockhart Sebastien (Dominica)

Lockhart Sebastien earned his place among the greats of Windward Islands cricket with 19 years of dedicated service. It didn’t hurt that he was super talented as well, scoring five centuries and 33 half-centuries in 92 first-class games. His average of 32.89 along with his attitude to leadership makes him a good fit for any batting line-up.

First-class career: 1971-1989

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs   HS     Ave    100s     50s   

92       162      12     4934   219    32.89     5        33

Andre Fletcher (Grenada)

Andre Fletcher, now a veteran of the Windward Islands set-up, has time and again, saved his team from a worse fate than it would first appear they were destined to suffer.

However, Fletcher has had the tendency to be inconsistent, but when he gets it right there are few bowlers in the region to contain him.

First-class career: Grenada 2004–present

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave    100s      50s   

71       126       8       3678    123    31.16    5          22    

 

Dawnley Joseph (St Vincent)

Dawnley Joseph is possibly the most popular cricketer from the Windward Islands not to have played for the West Indies. Joseph scored five first-class centuries and 18 half-centuries on his way to a 30.89 average.

First-class career: 1986-1999

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS     Ave     100s   50s   

68       124      5       3676    149    30.89     5       18    

 

 

Daren Sammy (St. Lucia)

Daren Sammy’s exploits in first-class cricket as an allrounder certainly help him make this list. As a bowler, he has taken 10 five-wicket hauls and bagged four on six occasions, while scoring two hundreds and 22 half-centuries to boot. But Sammy is also the man you want fighting in the trenches with you, leading the troops. He is the man for tight situations. With the ball, he has 217 wickets and with the bat, 3,549 runs.

        

First-class career (Batting): 2002–2013

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs          HS     Ave     100s    50s        

96       158      9       3549          121    23.81      2       22                     

 

First-class career (Bowling): 2002–2013

Mat    Inns    Balls      Runs     Wkts   BBI    Ave     Econ   SR      4w     5w    

96                  13744   6312       217    7/66   29.08   2.75    63.3      6       10

 

Junior Murray (Grenada)

Junior Murray wasn’t originally a wicketkeeper but rather a batsman. He began keeping wicket but never looked very elegant because he was seen as too tall and heavy-handed, however, the combination of his keeping and his batting in combination were dangerous for opposition. His 368 dismissals in just 149 matches is an impressive statistic, while his average of 30 means he is always in the game.

 

First-class career: 1992–2002

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS     Ave    100s    50s    Ct          St

149    251       30     6830     218    30.90   11       30     337         31

Kenroy Peters (St Vincent)

While just a medium-pacer of diminutive stature, Kenroy Peters could sometimes hit the bat hard with his skiddy kind of action and found a fair amount of success bowling for the Windward Islands over the course of 18 years. He bagged 232 wickets in just 78 matches at an average of just over 20.

 

First-Class Career: 1999-2017

Mat    Balls    Runs     Wkts   BBI      Ave       Econ    SR       4w      5w    

78      11601  4726      232    7/36     20.37     2.44     50.0      9          0

 

Shane Shillingford (Dominica)

It is hard to believe that Shane Shillingford has been playing first-class cricket for 20 years but he has. In those 20 years the right arm offspinner has managed 587 wickets at an average of 24.32. Shillingford could produce a mixed bag. He would bowl quickly, exchanging flight and guile for bounce and bite. But those flight variations could come as well if it needed to.

 

First-Class Career: 2000-present

Mat    Balls        Runs      Wkts   BBI     Ave     Econ   SR      4w     5w  

132     31564      14278     587     8/33    24.32    2.71   53.7    43       11

 

Winston Davis (St Vincent)

Had Winston Davis been born in any era except the one he was, he would have been a regular Test-playing quick.

And Davis was quick. That pace brought him 608 wickets at an average of 28.48 with a strike rate of 54.2. He took four wickets in an innings on 28 occasions and had seven fivers.

 

First-class career: 1979-1992

Mat    Balls     Runs     Wkts   BBI     Ave    Econ   SR     4w     5w   

181     32987   17316    608     7/52    28.48   3.14   54.2    28       7

 

Nixon McLean (St Vincent)

Tall and muscular, Nixon McLean could get quick and while he never made a very effective Test bowler, at the first-class level, the 506 wickets he took said different. McLean didn’t move the ball too often, but on a good pitch for fast bowling, he could be a handful. He hit the pitch hard enough to cause problems.

 

First-class career: 1992-2006

Mat    Balls     Runs     Wkts   BBI     Ave     Econ   SR     4w   5w 

149    26258    13925    506    7/28    27.51   3.18   51.8     19     3

Panellists and the SportsMax Zone have gone through their picks for the batsmen who will make up SportsMax’s Ultimate XI Test team but fans (Fanalysts) are still coming up with theirs. The differences in opinions are there and all three groups have good arguments for them.

As far as openers go, both the SportsMax Zone and Panellists agree that Matthew Hayden and Sunil Gavaskar should be the first to face the bowling of any team that may be created to challenge the Ultimate XI Test lineup. The fans though, believe Gordon Greenidge should join Gavaskar at the opening position.

As far as batsmen 3-5 go, the Zone has picked Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Don Bradman, while the panellists have replaced Bradman with Sir Vivian Richards.

The Fanalysts have sided with panellists so far, meaning the batting line-up for the Ultimate XI at this point could look this way.

Sunil Gavaskar will face the first ball while Matthew Hayden will be at the non-striker’s end, while Sachin Tendulkar comes at three with Brian Lara walking at four. At the moment, Viv Richards is walking at five.

If this doesn’t represent your Ultimate XI you can change it by voting for the makeup of your team. The fanalyst vote counts for 40% of the overall decision and you can vote as many times as you want until May 22.

Click the link here to start voting or to submit your XI again.

Leeward Islands captain Kieran Powell has been left disappointed by his non-selection to the provisional 29-man squad for the West Indies tour of England which looks set to go ahead this summer.

Cricket West Indies announced the squad recently in lieu of agreements with the England and Wales Cricket Board about a tour that was scheduled for June but has now been postponed amid plans to make it safe despite the worldwide spread of COVID-19.

The squad had seen the return of pacer Shannon Gabriel, spinner Veerasammy Permaul and middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood.

There were also some new faces to the squad like Preston McSween, Paul Palmer, Shane Mosely and Keon Harding.

Powell, who last represented the West Indies on the 2018 tour of Bangladesh, was a notable absentee.

Since Powell’s exclusion from the West Indies set-up, he has scored fairly heavily in regional cricket, a fact that has elicited surprise at his non-selection.

“I haven’t really been as productive as I would like in the four-day format but I still managed to stand out above everyone else who played in the tournament so it’s disheartening for myself to learn that I hadn’t been selected based on the volume of runs I scored,” said Powell.

Despite leading the Caribbean in the Regional Super50 competition with 524 runs last year, Powell was not selected for series against India, Ireland and Sri Lanka.

There had been reports that Powell should have been a replacement for Evin Lewis in the Sri Lanka series. Lewis had failed a fitness test but the reports are suggesting Powell also failed that test.

“I don’t mind not being selected. This is part and parcel of being in West Indies cricket. It has been here long before me and I’m pretty sure it will be long after but communication is the most important thing,” Powell said regarding the failure of the fitness test.

According to Powell, he is yet to hear from CWI what aspects of the test he failed and what he needed to work on.

“Obviously there are more factors to it, which is what I am trying to ascertain. What are those standards, so I can work on whatever I need to work on so I can get my international career back off the ground?” he said.

While not calling names or suggesting this administration inclusive of coaches and board has anything more than the best interest of cricket at heart, Powell did point out that there was a certain stigma that has made his sojourn in West Indies cricket more difficult.

“I remember a coach of the West Indies team telling me that I don’t need to play for the West Indies team because I was financially good and that I should leave it for people who aren’t financially good and I didn’t understand,” said Powell.

According to the elegant left-hander, his finances should not be used to count against him playing for the region.

“No one would look at a LeBron James or a Cristiano Ronaldo, and so many others, that based on all the investments they have that they don’t need to play anymore. Obviously, we know the history of athletes going bankrupt,” he said.

Chief of selectors, Roger Harper, asked about the exclusion of Kieron Pollard, said the issue was one based completely on cricket and that there was no personal feeling toward Powell one way or the other.

“I don’t know of any problem with Powell. When we picked our squad, we picked what we thought was the best squad for those conditions,” said Harper.

The West Indies tour of England will see them fight to retain the Wisden Trophy they took from England last year.

West Indies T20 specialist and former captain of the One-Day International team, Dwayne Bravo had some interesting choices to make during an interview on Cricbuzz, leaving out some big names on a list of five of the best T20 players in the game today.

Bravo, who was interviewed by Cricbuzz’s Harsha Bhogle, was given six players to choose from in each of five rounds of choices and here’s what he came up with.

In the first round, Bravo was made to choose from among Australia’s Matthew Hayden and David warner, India’s Virender Sehwag, New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum, and the West Indies’ Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle.

Bravo chose Gayle.

The second round saw Bravo having to pick one of India’s Gautam Gambir and KL Rahul, England’s Johnny Bairstow and Joss Buttler, and Australia’s Shane Watson and Chris Lynn.

Bravo chose Watson.

India’s Virat Kohli was lined up against teammate Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina, as well as South Africa’s Faf Du Plessis and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.

According to Bravo, while Raina is his favourite batsman, he would have to go with Kohli.

Up next were India’s Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant and Yuvraj Singh, Australia’s Michael Hussey, England’s Ben Stokes, and South Africa’s AB de Villiers.

Bravo went with de Villiers.

In the final round Bravo had a major struggle with picking from a grouping of India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya, Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, and the West Indian pair of Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard.

Bravo eventually went with Dhoni.

So Bravo’s choices as the top-five players today, given the imitations of the choices put to him were Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Given the grouping of choices, is Bravo correct?

Kevin Pietersen was as inspiring to England on the field as he was divisive off it. Tattoos, bleach-blond dyed hair, Pietersen was as different an English batsman as could be imagined and the powers that be were not having it. His career would be cut short by more complex controversies later on, but not before he showed himself to be one of the most brilliant batsmen the English game has ever seen.

Pietersen started in ODI cricket after coming over from South Africa, disenchanted with the racial quota system he felt wasn’t giving him enough opportunities. His performances forced the door to Test cricket wide open, but even then, his selection ahead of Graham Thorpe ahead of the 2005 Ashes was a significant talking point.

Pietersen answered with a stroke-filled 158 at the Oval that returned the Urn to England after some 17 years.

The following year, against Sri Lanka, Pietersen again scored 158 on his way to three consecutive century-making innings, becoming the first Englishman to do so since Graham Gooch in 1990. One of those three innings featured a switch hit, Pietersen turning around to slog-sweep no lesser a bowler than Muttiah Muralitharan over what should have been cover, for six. Reversing your stance was deemed illegal after the match but that was the nature of the man.

Standing at 6 ft, 4 in, he was not easily intimidated by big, strong fastbowlers and he ushered in a change of attitude to batting that has seen England today, one of the more dangerous teams in all forms of cricket, their once, conservative way of playing the game, a thing of the past.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Kevin Peter Pietersen

Born: June 27, 1980, Pietermaritzburg, Natal

Major teams: England, Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils, Dolphins, Hampshire, ICC World XI, KwaZulu-Natal, Melbourne Stars, Natal, Nottinghamshire, Quetta Gladiators, Rising Pune Supergiants, Royal Challengers Bangalore, St Lucia Zouks, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Surrey

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

Height: 6 ft 4 in

 

Test Career:   England (2005-2014)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs   HS     Ave       BF         SR      100s   50s   

104    181     8      8181      227    47.28    13255    61.72      23     35

        

Career Highlights

  • Produced 8181 runs at an average of 47.28
  • Reached 5000 Test runs in record 4 years and 243 days
  • 2nd most runs scored in 1st 25 Tests (2448)
  • Scored 23 centuries and 35 half-centuries

It is unfortunate that in a 24-year-long career, West Indies legend George Headley only managed 22 Tests. An intervening World War and the difficulties of travel made Test cricket in the 1930s and ‘40s a much less regular occurrence than it is today.

Still, Headley’s wildcard selection to the SportsMax Ultimate XI Test cricket competition is perhaps no surprise and certainly not unwarranted.

Headley, averaged more than 60 in those 22 Tests, a remarkable feat when you consider how much time might elapse between games at the highest level. In those 22 Tests, Headley also scored 10 centuries and five half-centuries, which suggest when he got going, chances are you were going to staring down a three-figure innings.

Headley was solid when his West Indies teammates were considered ‘vulnerable and impulsive’. Headley was the first immortal at Lord’s, scoring a century in both innings of a 1939 Test against England.

Other greats, like Sir Len Hutton and Clarrie Grimmett, have all expressed sentiments suggesting they were very impressed with Headley’s batting. Sir Len said he had never seen a batsman play later than did Headley, while Grimmett said he was the strongest on-side player he had ever bowled to.

Test statistics aside, Headley’s first-class achievements playing in England tell a story of his class as well. He scored heavily at every turn, matching the exploits of the modern-day greats stride for stride.

But Headley’s contribution to West Indies cricket cannot be overstated. He was the first great batsman of the region, paving the way for an avalanche of eye-catching wonders from the Caribbean.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: George Alphonso Headley

Born: May 30, 1909, Colon, Panama

Died: November 30, 1983, Meadowbridge, Kingston, Jamaica (aged 74 years 184 days)

Major teams: West Indies, Jamaica

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Legbreak

 

Test Career: West Indies (1930-1954)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS         Ave     100s    50s    

22         40      4      2190       270*      60.83      10       5     

 

Career Highlights

  • Nicknamed the “black Bradman”
  • Tallied 2190 runs from 40 innings at an average of 60.83
  • Scored 10 centuries and 5 half-centuries
  • Highest score of 270*
  • Played 16 of his 22 Tests against England

There has never been a greater batsman out of Pakistan than Javed Miandad. The former Pakistan captain was an obvious talent even as a teenager, becoming the youngest man at 19 to score a Test double hundred. But Miandad’s career was remembered, perhaps too often for those years when his best was behind him, the Pakistani great playing for 17 years in Tests and a further two years in ODIs.

But when he was good, there was nobody better. Miandad achieved some remarkable things, like his back-to-back hundreds in the West Indies on the 1987-88 tour and big double hundreds against India and England.

Miandad’s greatest ability was to find runs everywhere. He could never be pinned down, using the angles, he was adept at dropping balls into gaps and sauntering off for a single. A bowler never got the chance to work on a plan for Miandad because he would not stay put for long enough.

But that isn’t to say Miandad didn’t have all the shots. He did. He cut the ball beautifully and powerfully. He was one of the first to produce the reverse sweep with any regularity and if you bowled badly to him, your figures would tell. He learned how to play on the hard, bouncy surfaces in Australia and in England’s arenas of swing in time, becoming one of the world’s best batsmen, anywhere.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Mohammad Javed Miandad Khan

Born: June 12, 1957, Karachi, Sind

Major teams: Pakistan, Glamorgan, Habib Bank Limited, Karachi, Sind, Sussex

Playing role: Batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Legbreak googly

 

Test Career: Pakistan (1976-1993)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS      Ave     100s     50s   

124      189     21     8832     280*   52.57      23      43    

 

Career Highlights

  • Scored 8832 runs at an average of 52.57
  • Hit 23 Test hundreds and 43 half-centuries
  • Youngest player to score a double century in Tests (19 years & 140 days)

Younis Khan makes up the group under which you could put the headline, modern greats.

Younis started his Test career brightly, scoring a century on debut, but that didn’t make him an instant hit. Unlike many Asian batsmen, Younis was not fluent, a strong bottom hand making for muscular efforts rather than the silky timing that comes with the top-hand dominant players from Asia, but he has still managed innings to remember.

In Bangalore, for instance, Younis scored 267 and 80 not out in one match, a match that needed the knocks if Pakistan were to beat India. Younis can also count himself as one of the few cricketers to boast a triple century. While that triple came on a flat track, it was not without pressure, as Younis had to come out against Sri Lanka late on day two, all while staring into the barrel of a massive total.

There has been much turmoil surrounding Younis with a captaincy steeped in conflict, a sacking, and a refusal of the post when offered to him a second time. Still, as much fell apart around him, he continued to score, turning inward to a resolve that led to a brilliant career with the bat.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Mohammad Younis Khan

Born: November 29, 1977, Mardan, North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

Major teams: Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, Nottinghamshire, Peshawar Cricket Association, Rajasthan Royals, South Australia, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire

Playing role: Middle-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium, Legbreak

 

Test Career: Pakistan (2000-2017)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave        BF       SR       100s    50s

118      213     19     10099    313    52.05    19375   52.12      34      33  

  

Career Highlights

  • 1st Pakistani to score 10-thousand runs in Tests
  • Most centuries by a Pakistani in Tests (34)
  • First batsman in history to score five centuries in fourth innings
  • Scored six double centuries in Tests
  • Scored 10, 099 runs at 52.05

Rahul Dravid, despite not sharing the explosiveness of a very explosive group of batting stars coming out of India from the mid-1990s until the end of his career in 2012, could be seen as the most important batsman the country produced at the time.

At the time of Dravid’s arrival in Test cricket, India were a team, dominant at home on slow, turning pitches but found playing away on faster, bouncier ones a bridge too far.

Dravid was not considered a natural athlete and worked hard to forge a technique that was almost impervious to all the different types of bowling. So solid was his defence, that his well-known nickname was ‘The Wall’. His strike rate of 42.51 may have been a little low for those who liked the flash of Sachin Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag, but the results were undeniable. Dravid’s almost 14 hours of batting won India their first Test in Australia for a generation, and then his 12-hour-long stint for 270 gave India their first series win in Pakistan. Performances like that would become a regular feature of Dravid’s batting, the most famous of them coming when he partnered VVS Laxman to overhaul a 270-run lead against Australia and turn it into a 171-run victory. India, batting a second time against Australia at Eden Gardens after faltering to 175 all-out, chasing 445, racked up 657-7 declared on the back of Dravid’s 180 and Laxman’s 281, the two partnering in a record 376-run fifth-wicket partnership.   

Career Statistics

Full name: Rahul Sharad Dravid

Born: January 11, 1973, Indore, Madhya Pradesh

Major teams: India, Scotland, Asia XI, Canterbury, ICC World XI, Karnataka, Kent, Marylebone Cricket Club, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

Fielding position: Occasional wicketkeeper

 

Test Career:   India (1996-2012)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs       HS     Ave      BF          SR      100s    50s

164      286     32     13288      270    52.31    31258    42.51      36     63

        

Career Highlights

  • 4th all-time for most runs scored in Tests (13, 288)
  • 2nd most runs scored by a number three in Tests (10, 524)
  • Most number of balls faced in Test history (31, 258)
  • Longest time spent at the crease in Tests (44, 152 minutes)
  • First player to score centuries in all Test-playing nations

From a country filled with great cricketers, it means quite a lot that former captain Greg Chappell was considered the finest batsman from that country in his generation.

His average of 53.86 says that, for the most part, he was a consistent runscorer and his 24 hundreds and 31 half-centuries from just 87 Tests tell a tale of a man who stuck to his guns.

Greg Chappell would score a century on debut in 1970 and at the end of his career in 1984. In between those centuries his steady improvement in technique made him a fine player by the end.

He started as a strong onside player but was suspect outside off stump, bringing the wicketkeeper and the slips into play for a good enough bowler. However, that wouldn’t last and in the space of a year, Chappell turned himself into a brilliant player on any side of the wicket.

That, added to a real fighter’s attitude to winning games, though he was the consummate gentleman, made for greatness.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Gregory Stephen Chappell

Born: August 7, 1948, Unley, Adelaide, South Australia

Major teams: Australia, Queensland, Somerset, South Australia

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Height: 1.87 m

 

Test Career: Australia (1970-1984)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS      Ave     100s  50s   

87        151    19     7110     247*    53.86    24   31    

 

Career Highlights

  • Considered the best Australian batsman of his generation
  • Scored 7110 runs in Tests at an average of 53.86
  • Scored 24 centuries and 31 half-centuries
  • 16 of his 24 centuries came at home
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