Former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq has picked three players from different eras who he feels changed the game of cricket with their strokeplay, style and innovative batsmanship. The three names that he took were all world-class batsmen who tormented opposition bowlers with their audacious strokeplay.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Inzamam said, "3 players have changed the game of cricket, given it a new style."
The first cricketer in his list was none other than the legendary West Indies batsman Sir Vivian Richards. Richards was someone whose strokeplay and flamboyance was way ahead of his time. He had the ability to play the big shots at will, and the authority he showed while facing top-class bowlers made him the greatest batsman of his generation.
Not only did Richards average in excess of 50 in Tests and 47 in ODIs, but his strike rate during that period was also something no batsman would have dreamed of in the 70s and 80s. It was Richards who showed the other batsmen how to face a fast bowler and play them off the front foot.
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Speaking on Richards' contribution to the game, Inzamam said,
“Years ago it was Viv Richards, who changed the game. At that time batsmen used to play fast bowlers on the backfoot but he showed everyone how to play them off the front foot. He taught everyone that fast bowlers can be attacked. He was an ever great player.”
Another cricketer who changed the game according to Inzamam was former Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya. Having made his international debut as a left-arm spinner, Jayasuriya went on to become one of the finest openers ever in ODI cricket.
He brought a new thought process into the 50-over format as he started taking advantage of the fielding restrictions in the first 15 overs. The exceptional starts he provided during the 1996 World Cup helped Sri Lanka lift their first and only World Cup title till date.
“The second change was brought in by Sanath Jayasuriya. He decided to attack the fast bowlers in the first 15 overs. Before his arrival, the ones who used hit the ball in the air were not considered as proper batsmen but he changed the perception by hitting the fast bowlers over the infield in the first 15 overs,” added Inzamam.
The former Pakistan skipper picked AB de Villiers as the third cricketer who changed the game. The South African legend, who announced his international retirement in 2018, might possibly be back for the T20 World Cup later this year.
Popularly known as Mr 360, De Villiers holds the record for the fastest century in ODI cricket. He can play shots all around the wicket, and Inzamam feels it is De Villers who showed the other batsmen how to execute the paddle sweeps and reverse sweeps even against the fast bowlers.
“The third player who changed cricket was AB de Villiers. He changed cricket for the third time. I would credit the fast-paced cricket that you see in ODIs and T20s today to de Villiers. Previously batsmen used to hit the straight bat. De Villiers came in, started to hit the paddle sweeps, reverse sweeps,” said Inzamam.
Here is the video where Inzamam speaks about these three players: