Cricket great Sunil Gavaskar believes having Sunil Narine batting in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ middle order is a complete waste of time as the team needs quality batsmen in their line-up to be able to reverse their fortunes in the IPL this season.

KKR are currently eighth in the IPL standings after just two wins from their seven matches to date, a position that Gavaskar believes comes down to one thing.

"To be honest, they don’t have too many classy batsmen. I don’t know how many in the dugout they can look to and say, ‘Look… why don’t you come in and bat up the order.’ Because if you have a look at their batting, apart from Shubman Gill and Morgan himself, there is no class," Gavaskar said on Cricket Connected.

"There is Andre Russell down at five or six and Dinesh Karthik,” Gavaskar continued.

“I would look at promoting Karthik up the order, because for simple reasons. There is Rahul Tripathi up. Sunil Narine at 4 or 5 whatever is a waste of space. It doesn’t make any sense having him there. If you want to have Sunil Narine, have him at the top of the order where he can throw his bat around, and maybe if he connects a few, that’s fine.

“KKR’s problem is that they haven’t got anybody at three, four, five who can play an impact innings."

 

The Ultimate Test XI is done and the fans have made their votes count, overruling a panel of experts and the SportsMax Zone to pick two spinners in their line-up.

From jump street, the fans looked as if they would not be swayed by the opinions of the Zone and the panel, who had to get their ducks in a row if they wanted the final say on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI.

Whereas all were agreed that India’s Sunil Gavaskar was probably the greatest opener the world has ever seen as was a shoo-in for the first opening spot on offer, the fans disagreed with the panel and the Zone on the other opener. Hands down, Fanalysts believed Gordon Greenidge, despite boasting a lower average than most in the Ultimate XI Test shortlist, was the man for the job.

The Fanalysts were outvoted as the Zone, who had 30% of all votes and the panel, who had another 30, believed Australia’s Matthew Hayden the man to walk to the crease in partnership with Gavaskar.

Then there were other differences of opinion. According to the panel, the greatest middle-order batsmen of all time, read Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sir Vivian Richards.

The Zone team, despite being made up of solely Caribbean journalists, disagreed. Sir Viv, they said could not fill the third spot in that middle order ahead of an Australian, Sir Donald Bradman.

The Fanalysts agreed and put the weight of their 40% of the vote squarely behind the Australian great.

So now the fans missed out on one of their picks for opener and the panel missed out on one of their picks for a middle-order batsman.

At the allrounder position and the wicketkeeper position, there was unison as Fanalysts, Zone and panel believed Sir Garfield Sobers should fill the former position, while Australia’s Adam Gilchrist is the best the world has ever seen don gloves.

It is in the bowling category that the most controversy was expected and that’s where the most variance occurred.

According to the Zone, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram and Muttiah Muralitharan would provide the greatest bowling attack the world has ever seen.

The panel disagreed.

The panel, believed Marshall a shoo-in, New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee could not be left out, and South Africa’s Dale Steyn was the final pacer to make up a bowling attack that had one spinner in Muttiah Muralitharan.

Hadlee never stood a chance for the Fanalysts, and neither did Steyn for that matter.

For the Fanalysts, a choice between Muralitharan and Warne, the two bowlers with the most wickets in the history of Test cricket, was too difficult to make and they picked both.

That left space for just two pacers and the all-West-Indian pairing of Marshall and Ambrose was the obvious choice.

With 30 per cent of the vote going to Hadlee, and another 30 per cent going to Steyn, Warne easily made his way into the Ultimate XI with the Fanalysts offering him up with their 40.

Based on all the Ultimate XI profiles have told you about these players, tell us who was right.

Were the fans who got their way with Bradman and the two spinners right? Or is there something to be said for the experts who went with Hadlee and Steyn, or even the Zone, who decided on Akram?

Were the Fanalysts accurate in going against the grain with picking Greenidge ahead of Hayden, or were the Zone and the panel correct in overruling them?  

Crazy or not, we are trusting the Fanalysts again with our Ultimate XI ODI team. 

Check out the shortlist below, tell me who you would pick in the comments section on Facebook and Twitter then go and vote after we tell you how wrong you are. Voting begins later today after the SportsMax Zone on SportsMax.tv.

 

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.

So far, the fans and the SportsMax panel of experts have not been in agreement over the nature of the Ultimate XI Test cricket team.

A few weeks ago, SportsMax embarked on an ultimately ambitious challenge of finding out what the greatest cricket team of all time would look like.

We didn’t want you, the fans to just take our word for it, so we combined our in-studio experts on the SportsMax Zone, the only show of its kind in the Caribbean, you, our fans, and a panel of experts who have been close to the game at the highest level.

The panel of experts has decided that India’s Sunil Gavaskar and Australia’s Matthew Hayden would provide an all-time best opening pairing ahead of the likes of West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge or England’s Alastair Cook.

The panellists were made up Former players Tino Best and Wavell Hinds, Kevin O’Brien Chang, noted writer and statistician, Barry Wilkinson, long-time journalist and commentator, as well as well-known regional umpire and sports commentator, Chris Taylor.

The SportsMax Zone team of Wayne Lewis, Mariah Kelly, and Lance Whittaker, has agreed with the picks of the panellists but the Ultimate fans don’t think much of one of those choices.

According to the voting to date, Hayden, with 12.77 per cent of the vote is the fourth-best an Ultimate XI could do, while Cook with 14.38 per cent of the vote is a fair bit behind the choice pairing so far with 14.38 per cent of the vote.

At this point, the Ultimate fan believes, like the panellists and the Zone team, that Sunil Gavaskar should make up half of the best opening pairing the world has ever seen, however, for them, at 17.88 per cent he is not as sure as is Greenidge, who has 18.95 per cent of the votes tallied so far.

Next up for voting will be the Ultimate middle order and so far, the men batting at numbers three, four and five, according to the fans, should be the West Indies’ Brian Lara, India’s Sachin Tendulkar, and Lara’s teammate, Viv Richards.

Lara holds a massive lead, with 26.34 per cent of voters picking him in their middle order.

Up next is Tendulkar who has polled 17.83 per cent of the votes. Richards is two percentage points back with 15.41 per cent of the votes, while Australia’s Don Bradman, who many pundits perceive as the greatest batsman to ever live, is just out of the runnings for a place in the fans’ team with 13.35 per cent of the votes.

Fans have a little under nine days to get their votes in for who they would want to see in an all-time best Test cricket XI. Click the link here, or go to SportsMax.tv and click on Ultimate XI at the top of the page for more details.

Like many ardent fans of the gentleman’s game I confess to being blown away by the awesome ferocity and near unrivalled destructiveness of Matthew Hayden, however, his opening pairing with Sunil Gavaskar at the expense of the grittier but slightly more consistent Graeme Smith is a delivery just outside off stump.  

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is very little hairs to split between the two.  A look at the most obvious metrics shows Smith has scored 9265 runs at an average of 48.25 and has a top score of 277, with Hayden scoring 8625 at an average of 50.73 and a remarkable 380 as his high score.  In terms of 100s, Smith compiled a respectable 27 with 38 half-centuries, while Hayden has scored 30 hundreds and 29 fifties.   

As previously stated, its remarkably close, but let’s begin this discussion by pointing to an often-overlooked consideration, Smith made his mark, while also shouldering the responsibility of being a captain. After taking the role at the tender age of 22 years old, Smith was often tasked with leading from the front with his bat and rarely failed to do so, despite the additional responsibility. For a great many players, the task of both has led to either one thing or the other suffering.

Smith was never technically as gifted as Hayden, but what he lacked in ability, he certainly made up for in sheer determination and toughness.  No one should ever forget his brutal double ton against England in 2008 or the way he battled away in poor light to score 154, a total that led the Proteas to a first series victory in England since their reinstatement. Smith also led South Africa in a chase of 418 in Australia where he scored a memorably aggressive ton and was the first captain to beat Australia, in Australia, in 16 years.

His mental fortitude was such that he averaged more away from home than within the confines of his country. The batsman averaged a healthy 54.99 away from home as opposed to 41.52 in South Africa.  By contrast, Hayden averaged 57.89 at home and 42.69 on his travels.

In making the selection we should also consider the argument that can be made for Smith being a marginally more consistent scorer. In revisiting the stats, we can recall that Hayden has scored 30 centuries compared to Smith’s 27, and his highest total of 380, compiled against Zimbabwe, is second only to Brian Lara’s world record 400. Smith’s best of 277 came against England in 2003. 

A closer look at the numbers, however, makes for interesting reading. 

Smith has scored a double hundred on five occasions compared to Hayden’s two.  In terms of daddy hundreds (scores of above 140), it is again Smith who leads the statistics with 11 compared to Hayden’s five, which shows that he got to bigger totals more often.

 

Sunil Gavaskar is the first in a long line of great Indian batsmen. He was the first in the history of cricket to get to 10,000 Test runs and the first to score 30 centuries. He was the lynchpin of the Indian teams of the 1970s and ‘80s, leading from ball one with near-perfect technique and immense powers of concentration. Gavaskar enjoyed success even against the great West Indies fast-bowling units of the same period. On debut in 1971, Gavaskar scored 774 runs in four Tests in the West Indies, still a record for a debutant to this day. In the last Test of that series in Port-of-Spain, Gavaskar became only the second man in Test cricket history to score a century and double century in one match when he made 124 in the first innings and 220 in the second. Gavaskar’s final innings in Test cricket at the age of xx was 96 against Pakistan and came off the back of a string of 16 Tests where he averaged more than 58.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Sunil Manohar Gavaskar

Born: July 10, 1949, Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra

Major teams: India, Mumbai, Somerset

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium, Right-arm offbreak

Role: Opener

Height 5 ft 5 in

 

Test Career - India (1971-1987)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS         Ave    100s   50s           

125      214     16     10122     236*     51.12      34    45           

 

Career Highlights

  • Was nicknamed “Little Master”
  • Scored 9607 of his 10,122 runs as an opener
  • Scored 33 of his 34 centuries as an opener
  • Has scored the most centuries by an opening batsman
  • Scored 18 of his 34 centuries away from home
  • His 45 half centuries is the 2nd most by a Test opener

The argument regarding the players who should be ranked among the best of all time gets harder and harder as cricket evolves.

Batsmen are more dynamic and harder to contain these days, while bowlers had more advantages when you look back at it. There was even a time when pitches were uncovered and therefore much more of a nightmare to bat on.

Despite the ever-changing circumstances that most certainly impact the nature of performances over the decades, SportsMax’s editors have still been hardpressed to avoid the addiction of coming up with the answers to the age-old question of who is the greatest of all time.

As usual, we’ve come up with XI of them.

Now, the most challenging form of cricket is undoubtedly Test cricket. There might be a debate about which form of the game is best to watch, most profitable, which is the future of the game, all that. But there’s no argument that Test cricket has lived up to its name and is the hardest. This is why our XI will only have players who have played the longest format of the game.

Best XI

 

Don Bradman (Australia)

While many of the experts of the game today, never saw him play, it is still generally accepted that Sir Donald Bradman, with 29 centuries and 13 half-centuries from just 52 Test matches, is the greatest batsman to ever walk the planet. His average of 99.94 in Test cricket will likely never be matched. Interestingly, Bradman only hit six sixes in his glittering Test career.

Sachin Tendulkar (India)

If Bradman was the greatest, Sachin is the most complete batsman to ever play the game. The little magician’s batting is considered by those who wrote the textbook on the subject, to have the perfect mixture of balance, economy of movement, precision stroke-making, and most of all, anticipation. Sachin put all those together more often than not to average 53.78 from his 200 matches, getting to a century on 61 occasions and to a half-century on 68 others. Those statistics meant he amassed a mammoth 15,921 runs, by far the most of any batsman.

 

Brian Lara (West Indies)

Whenever the conversation about who is the greatest of all time comes up, the name Brian Charles Lara is never far away. Undoubtedly a genius, Lara still holds the world record for the most runs ever scored in a single Test innings. Lara’s 400 not out was not the first time the left-hander was putting together a score that nobody else had. Australia’s Matthew Hayden scored 380 against Zimbabwe to pass Lara’s first world-record effort of 375 against England but the diminutive left-hander would not be satisfied without breaking that record all over again. Lara’s first record-breaking effort bested Lara would score 34 centuries from 131 Tests at an average of 52.88. The Trinidad & Tobago native also scored 48 half-centuries, getting to 11,953 runs before he called it quits.

Vivian Richards (West Indies)

Sir Vivian Richards, the Master Blaster, turned Test cricket on its head with his brand of aggression. In a time when bowlers were the aggressors with the insistence on pace and bounce, Viv, changed the game, making bowlers quake at the sight of his nonchalance in the face of searing pace and his penchant for taking bowling attacks apart. Viv played 121 Test matches and ended with an average of 50.23 despite a long lean spell toward the end of his career. His highest score was 291 but his 24 centuries and 45 half-centuries were remarkable instances each time. There is many a bowler who, throughout the ‘80s hated to get wickets against the West Indies because that would mean the man who brought ‘swagger’ to cricket, would walk to the crease.

George Headley (West Indies)

Depending on where you hail from, George Headley is either the Black Bradman or Bradman is the white Headley. In 22 Tests, Headley scored a remarkable 10 centuries and five half-centuries including a highest score of 270 not out. Headley was the only batsman that stood between West Indies and regular capitulations. In fact, between 1929 and 1939, Headley did not have one bad Test series, scoring eight centuries against England and becoming the first immortal at Lord’s. Sir Len Hutton, a man who could easily make this list as one of the first batsmen who could be called a superstar, said he had never seen a batsman who played the ball later, making him a nightmare to set fields for.

 

Garfield Sobers (West Indies)

Sir Garfield Sobers is likely the finest all-rounder of all time, taking 235 wickets in his 93 Tests and scoring more than 8,000 runs in his 93 Tests. But his efforts as a batsman are by themselves, worthy of making him a certainty for this list. Sobers scored 26 hundreds in Test cricket but his first is something the game will never forget. In 14 previous Tests, Sobers had a highest score of 66 and averaged just 32.54. Though his talent was undeniable, Sobers was just not getting over that hump. Then Pakistan came calling. Sobers went into the third Test at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica having scored three half-centuries (52, 52 and 80) in the previous two. Walking in at number three with the score on 87-1, Sobers and Conrad Hunte would take the West Indies to 533-2 when Hunte fell for a brilliant 260. Sobers would keep batting, getting to 365 not out before the skipper Gerry Alexander declared the innings on 790-3. Until the era of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, the argument for the greatest batsman of all time stood between Bradman and Sobers. Sobers also became the first man to hit six sixes in an over

 

Rahul Dravid (India)

Many of the great innings the world experienced from Sachin Tendulkar were made possible by the man known as ‘The Wall’. Steadily, Rahul Dravid created the reputation for being one of the finest batsmen in the world and started the Indian revolution, helping them become a team that was dangerous, not just at home.

His technique and robotic-like concentration would help him to 36 centuries and 63 half-centuries from his 164 Tests. His 13,288 runs have made him legendary in India but around the world too. Himself and Sourav Ganguly formed the backbone of a formidable Indian batting line-up and every team knew, that without getting out either or both, India were likely to come out the winning side.

 

Sunil Gavaskar (India)

The first man to get to 10,000 Test runs and score 30 centuries, make him most undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen of all time. But Gavaskar has an even more interesting legacy. He is the man who made Indian cricket what it is today, teaching his teammates and the country of now over one billion, the importance of a professional approach to cricket. But outside of that, Gavaksar must be credited as one of the few batsmen to be able to score significantly against the West Indies all-pace attack of the 1980s, scoring 13 centuries against them. In fact, Gavaskar played five Tests at the Queen’s Park Oval, averaging 99.12 at the ground. Gavaskar was a fine opener, averaging 51.12 over the course of 125 Tests, scoring 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries with a highest score of 236 not out against the West Indies in 1983.

 

Jacques Kallis (South Africa)

Jacques Kallis is the only man to threaten Sir Garfield Sobers as the greatest allrounder of all time, and like his West Indian predecessor, his batting makes him a good fit for this list of some of the greatest batsmen of all time.

Kallis played 166 Tests and averaged 55.37 on his way to scoring a mammoth 45 centuries and 58 half-centuries on his way to putting together 13,289 runs. Kallis was part of South Africa’s second rebirth after being let back into international cricket and along with young skipper Graeme Smith, he led a fight-back to international prominence by performing at a remarkably high level for a long time.

 

Steve Waugh (Australia)

Steve Waugh is not the batsman that a ground outside of Australia might fill up to watch and it was largely agreed that his brother, Mark Waugh, was the more talented of the two batsmen. However, Steve’s drive to do well, mixed with hard work and a fine ability to read a situation from the middle of the pitch made for a career that was more than something to be proud of. Waugh led Australia to becoming the most dominant team in World cricket throughout the early 2000s, overtaking the West Indies for that title, with a symbolic 2-2 draw in the Caribbean. Interestingly, Waugh made that draw possible with a double century in the final Test at Sabina Park in Kingston that kick-started a spree of run-scoring that would not be halted until his retirement.

Waugh would play 168 Tests at an average of just over 51. That double century in Kingston was his highest score on the way to 10,927 runs. His 50 half-centuries meant there were very few times Waugh didn’t contribute to Australia’s eventual totals. Like Dravid and Ganguly were for India, Waugh was the rock that held the team together, the talented batsman evolving over time to a player who had eliminated risk from his game.

 

Kumar Sangakarra (Sri Lanka)

Kumar Sangakarra came into the Sri Lankan team on the back of careers like that of Arjuna Ranatunga and Asanka Gurusinha, who paved the way for dismissing the myth that batsmen from that area of the world could be blown off the pitch by good aggressive pace bowling. Sangakarra was decidedly a battler, but he added quite a bit of grace to the role, cementing his place in the side for 134 Tests in which he averaged 57.40. Sangakarra would end his Test career with 12,400 runs, 38 centuries and 52 half-centuries. Interestingly, nobody, not even the great Sachin Tendulkar, made it to 10,000 runs more quickly, the two being joint quickest to the milestone.

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