There have been quite a few left handed batsmen to play cricket, but those who have left a mark on the game have been only a handful. Most of the left handed batsmen of any era have had to fight for limelight with their right-handed contemporaries, be it Brian Lara with Sachin Tendulkar, Arthur Morris with Don Bradman or Saeed Anwar with Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Also, successful left handed batsmen have influenced the game in their own unique ways, shifting away from the clichéd rules and existing styles of batsmanship: Michael Bevan, with his calm and gritty approach permanently created and developed the style of a successful run chase, especially in limited overs cricket; Sourav Ganguly left a mark with his glorious offside play, sublime timing and minimal use of the bottom hand, and there was a certain Sri Lankan from Matara who created the art of plundering runs at the start of an innings.
Sportskeeda comes up with a list of 20 greatest left handed batsmen the world has seen. Needless to say, there is a definite bias towards players of recent times as against those of the era of Bradmans and Lala Amarnaths since it would not be possible to judge them properly. And of course we know it would be impracticable to judge players from different eras in an equal pedestal, but we have tried to be as fair as possible. We have tried to take not only the batting averages and the longevity of their playing period into account, but also their overall influence on the game and for their respective sides.
So, here are the left handed run makers to have given cricket fans the world over unparalleled joy of watching the game.
1. Brian Lara:
His statistics speaks for itself, but Brian Lara was much more than the records. He was a genius of an odd kind. The only player to have a century, a double century, a triple century and a quadruple century in Test cricket, and even a five hundred-plus score in a first class match, Lara possessed the extraordinary ability to conjure killer shots out of nowhere.
His batting stance distinguished itself from other batsmen: his knees were always bent before a delivery was bowled, even without support, and he had a high backlift which swished down to attack a delivery astonishingly quickly.
With 11953 runs in 131 Tests, the ‘Prince of Trinidad’ was a once-in-a-generation player. When he retired during the World Cup in 2007, he asked the fans, ‘Did I entertain?’
He did a lot more.
2. Sir Garry Sobers:
He was the not only one of the best left handed batsmen of his time, but also a great bowler and a great fielder.
His average of 57.78 is higher than Tendulkar, Sangakkara, Ponting and Jack Hobbs, and his unbeaten 365 was the world record for a long time.
He employed elegant yet powerful strokes, and his offside play was a joy to watch. Coupled with his bowling and fielding, Sir Garry Sobers is unquestionably the finest all rounder in the game.
3. Graeme Pollock:
Uncle of South African pacer Shaun Pollock, in many quarters he is regarded as the finest left-handed batsman to have played the game. Bradman certainly thought so.
He played at a time there was not much international cricket played. In a career that spanned seven years, he had a batting average of 61 – next only to Bradman.
A magnificent timer of the ball, Graeme Pollock’s 274 was a South African record for many years. In an incredibly short career of 23 Tests, he scored 7 centuries and 11 fifties. Only if the man had played longer, or in more recent times, the world continues to sigh what might have been.
4. Andy Flower:
Easily the best batsman Zimbabwe has ever produced, Andy Flower was one of the most graceful batsmen to watch. He possessed a very good technique and had very high levels of concentration. When set, he would just not give his wicket away.
He was the prime figure of the golden period of Zimbabwe cricket, in the 1990s. A black armband protest with team-mate Henry Olonga during the 2003 World Cup ended his playing career for Zimbabwe.
5. Michael Bevan:
This Australian middle-order batsman revolutionised 50-over cricket. Because of a tough Australian selection policy, after a time Bevan was omitted from the Test squad, but he made the one-day arena his own.
Bevan won countless matches for his country with his calm and clever approach, and especially during tricky run chases, he always ensured he remained till the end and won his side the match. He accumulated runs by picking fielders and judging match situations to perfection.
Whenever a side is riding high and Bevan came to the crease, the southpaw would cleverly gradually shift the momentum towards his side and win Australia the match.
His ODI batting average of 53.58 is the highest for any batsman in the format.