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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Why no Indian, Pakistani cricketer in Simon Wilde's list of great cricketers?

Simon Wilde's book 'Number One' is about the best cricketers in the history of the game and has got attention in the media.

The writer has selected about 50 cricketers. The criterion is that the batsman and bowler should have been the best batsman or bowler at least for 5-7 years in the world during his career.

The list starts with John Small, then lists William Beldham, Frederic Beaucleark, William Ward and Fuller Pilch, going up to Carpenter, Grace, Trumper, Hammond, Bradman, Sobers. After the decade of 1970s it includes the following cricketers:

Batsmen: Barry Richards, Vivian Richards, Graham Gooch, Brian Lara, Waugh

Bowlers: Lillee, Marshall, Ambrose, Warne

So no Imran Khan, no Sunil Gavaskar. Neither Hanif Mohammed, nor Sachin Tendulkar or Kapil Dev. The sole Indian  in the list is Ranjitsinhji who played for England and who tried his best to stop Indian cricket from progressing even though India named its highest championship of domestic cricket in his name.

Zaheer Abbas hit over 100 first class centuries. This man is blind. He could spot none of them. He goes to the era of Carpenter, includes eighteenth centuries' cricketers who bowled under-arm and played without middle wicket about whom we only heard stories.

Another way I can prove Simon Wilde a failure. He failed to list the two greatest cricketers before WG Grace. Alfred Mynn, the Lion of Kent, the first cricketer whose statue was made and who was declared champion of all England.

Secondly, George Osbaldeston, the ferocious bowler who was said to be the greatest sportsperson after Assyrian Nimord. But he chooses his own Toms, Dicks and Harries. Its not a question of disappointment that how he ignored Indian, Pakistani cricketers.

One is entitled to biases but it can be tolerated to an extent. Unfortunately, Simon Wilde has simply left the entire sub-continent, ignoring the exploits of legendary cricketers who turned the game into a world sport, taking it out of the UK-Australia-South Africa axis.