It is a new era in world cricket as many players retired in the past two years giving way to younger stars and budding captains. MS Dhoni recently announced his decision to step down from ODI and T20 captaincy, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene made way for younger talent and Misbah-ul-Haq is pondering retirement at the age of 42.
Just two years back, Graeme Smith, another very successful skipper retired as did Jacques Kallis. Michael Clarke gave way for Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson announced his retirement to give Starc the mantle of leader of the attack.
Change is common in any sport. Old gives way to the new. But do memories ever vanish? NO.
Something of the old always stays or has an influence on the new. Take the example of Virat Kohli, who seems to have picked up a bit of calmness from MS Dhoni, or that of Faf du Plessis, whose captaincy style seems to have been inspired from Graeme Smith.
In such a context, it is worth noting that several modern cricketers have similarities to the older ones who left the game and many don't have. Interestingly, some of the greats of yesteryears have no one similar to their kind in the modern game. There may be umpteen reasons for it, including the lack of skills, change in trends, tightly packed schedules and many more unknown reasons.
Here, we take a look at six kinds of cricketers that are no longer that common in the modern game. The author also makes a feeble attempt at matching some modern cricketers to the kinds of cricketers categorised below.
#6 The Shoaib Akhtar kind
Shoaib Akhtar – the out and out fast bowler from Rawalpindi who set the world alight with his sheer pace. Who can forget the rip-roaring yorker to Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in Tests? The Pakistani was a cult figure in his prime.
All he had was raw pace. He broke the record for the fastest ball in the history of cricket and unsurprisingly, it still remains the quickest ball. Not many have graced the game with that kind of pace.
(Video Courtesy: Cricket Cut Piece YouTube Channel)
In the same era was Australiam, Brett Lee, who had similar pace and arguably, more success. But he wasn't quite Akhtar. The pace was present in the Australian, too, but what was missing was the marathon run up, the hype and expectancy created in every step of his run-up and the slingy action. Akhtar was a fast bowler who literally believed in the word, 'pace'. Sadly, the modern game has evolved such that teams require bowlers with more skills than just sheer pace.
Modern day cricketers closest to this category: Shaun Tait (Australia), Tymal Mills (England), Adam Milne (New Zealand)
#5 The Arjuna Ranatunga kind
The captain who lifted Sri Lanka to the top of the world in 1996 at Lahore, Arjuna Ranatunga fought against all odds and made instinctive decisions to help Lanka beat a strong Aussie side in the finals.
Fitness wasn’t a trait that he was known for; he was on the bulkier side and relied on the ones and twos. A slow cricketer, he showed that less fitter and languid shot makers had a place in this game. He wasn't alone, though. There was the influential Pakistani batsman, Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was a batsman of a similar mould.
(Video Courtesy: Trevor Byers Cricket YouTube Channel)
Both could attack when needed and rotate easily, despite being overweight and unfit. They had impeccable cricketing brains and this trumped every other weakness of theirs. In the modern day, with high fitness standards, such cricketers are a real rarity.
Modern day cricketers closest to this category: Samit Patel (England), Amit Mishra (India)
#4 The Steve Waugh kind
The gritty Australian skipper was one of the best captains that ever graced the game. He had a sharp tongue and a no-nonsense look about him. The middle order batsman had one of the best temperaments in the history of the game.
The elder Waugh is remembered for his leadership than his batting skills, but he excelled in both. His personality was evident in his style of captaincy and the way he went about an innings. It was all grit and resolve.
(Video Courtesy: robelinda2 YouTube Channel)
A crucial 120 in the Super Six of the 1999 World Cup against the Proteas is one standout performance of the Australian? The hundred went on to help Australia in a tied semi-final. What he could do was grab a crucial moment and not let go until he won it. Do modern cricketers boast of such gritty stuff? Rare.
Modern day cricketers closest to this category: Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
#3 The Nayan Mongia kind
Most modern wicket keepers are terrific batsmen. Take the example of Quinton de Kock, MS Dhoni or Sarfraz Ahmed – all splendid batsmen averaging high with the bat. Adam Gilchrist revolutionised the role of modern day wicketkeepers and several other wicketkeeper-batsmen have followed suit.
Keepers of yesteryear, like Nayan Mongia, were essentially good wicket keepers who were in the team for taking catches behind the stumps, preventing byes, or stumping the wild slogger who stepped out.
That is no more the case with teams opting to stuff in an extra batsman in the side even if it means a part-time keeper has to stand behind the stumps. The case of Ian Healy/Nayan Mongia type of keeper disappearing, just shows how much the modern game has evolved.
Modern day cricketers closest to this category: Peter Nevill (Australia)
#2 The Jacques Kallis kind
A great of the game, Jacques Kallis revolutionised the role of all-rounders, by showing that a proper batsman could easily fit in as a fast bowler, too. He tirelessly served the Rainbow Nation for years and ensured they never had to struggle with the balance of the side.
Kallis was a proper batsman, so much so that he and Dravid were considered similar types of batsmen – pure technique and class batsmanship. But he possessed something Dravid didn't. The ability to bowl pace.
(Video Courtesy: robelinda2 YouTube Channel)
The South African was an excellent bowler too. He could swing the ball both ways and bowled at speeds exceeding 140kmph. A dream player to have in any side. But how many of these exist now?
The batting all-rounder is mostly a spinner in modern day cricket and even those that bowl pace cannot be fit in as a third seamer in the line-up.
Modern day cricketers closest to this category: Angelo Matthews(Sri Lanka), Ben Stokes (England), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies)
#1 The Curtly Ambrose kind
The big, tall fiery West Indian fast bowler was not one to be messed with. He was accurate, pacy, had bounce, thanks to his 6'7" frame, and a long stare. The only one to even try messing with him was the Aussie skipper, Steve Waugh, who is another of those rare kinds that make this list.
Ambrose was a bull, and a terrifying one. He could hardly be tied down and when unleashed, more often than not, wreaked havoc like a typhoon. He could send shivers down the spine of batsmen with his stare. Batsman hoped that he would not send down a bouncer, which was deadly because of the height from which the ball was coming at and the pace.
(Video Courtesy: Chan77 YouTube Channel)
The ingredients that made Ambrose scary, isn’t found in any player in international cricket, currently. The closest players to show fire and brimstone bowling in the last decade are Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn – the former retired, while the latter is on the last legs of his international career.
Modern day cricketers closest to this category: Dale Steyn (South Africa) - far from close, though.