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10 players who were not appreciated enough

Aadya Sharma
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
419.59K   //    Timeless

Highly talented, but were never appreciatedCricket has no dearth of superstars, players who’ve established themselves with the appreciation of fans and experts alike. The statistical feats of these players serve as milestones for others to surpass, and each of their great performances become part of cricketing folklore.Yet, there are other cricketers, highly talented, but not as much appreciated, stereotyped for their style of play. Their contributions go unnoticed in comparisons to their more illustrious contemporaries. Here is a list of ten players, who constructed great careers, but never managed to be appreciated enough.

#1 Alec Stewart

Stewart tops the most dismissal by an English wicketkeeper

In a career spanning fourteen years, Alec Stewart played over 130 Tests, scoring close to 8500 runs at an average close to 40. He played 51 Tests as a specialist batsman, scoring nine centuries at an average close to 47.

To put things into perspective, Michael Atherton, one of England’s modern greats, scored at an average 10 units below Stewart in the same period. As a wicketkeeper-batsman, he averaged around 35, which is more than many of his contemporaries.

Yet, he never managed to attain similar status, despite donning the roles of wicketkeeper and captain, apart from opening the batting. He tops the list of most dismissals by an English wicketkeeper in ODIs and comes third in the same list in Tests.

#2 Gautam Gambhir

Gambhir helped India win in two World Cups

The Delhi captain lost his place in the side after a combination of poor form and injuries, compounded by the success of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. With more than 10,000 international runs in total, Gambhir was especially in prolific form from 2007 to 2011, helping India win two World Cups in the process.

Not in the selectors’ current scheme of things, he used to be the anchor of the batting, a role he reprised after the departure of Dravid. His innings of 97 in 2011 World Cup final was overshadowed by a quickfire 91 from Dhoni.

He also played a stellar part in India’s T20 triumph of 2007, scoring 75 runs in the final. Yet, most of his efforts did not get their required due.

#3 Justin Langer

Langer had exceptional talent
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Part of the indomitable Australian team of the late 90s and 2000s, Justin Langer quietly compiled runs for fourteen years, a stark opposite to his opening partner Matthew Hayden. He was promoted to the opening slot in 2001, eventually teaming up with Hayden to become the most successful Australian opening pair.

However, Langer’s popularity pales in comparison to the likes of Ponting, Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist, even though he had an important role to play at the top of the order. He was more of an accumulator, gathering runs at his own pace.

He partnered Hayden for more than 5000 Test runs, reinventing himself at the opening spot after having played just eight Test matches in his first six international years.

#4 Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan’s captain cool

The Pakistani batsman has been a late bloomer in International cricket, catching up on time with stellar performance in all formats. He almost got Pakistan through in the World T20 in 2007 and has been handling the mantle of captaincy since the spot-fixing turmoil of 2010.

With a strong defensive technique and range of improvisations to score runs with, Misbah has maintained an average close to 50 in Tests and 45 in ODIs. Despite stacking up loads of runs consistently in recent years, he isn’t respected enough in his own nation.

Mocked for being too slow during chases, he has earned infamous sobriquets from Pakistani fans and media alike.

#5 Stephen Fleming

Fleming led Kiwis from the front

The elegant southpaw has been the most successful captain for the Black Caps, and with more than 7000 runs in Tests and 8000 runs in ODIs, one of their pillars of their batting.

However, in a lineup that had firepower, Stephen Fleming’s placid batting wasn’t as appreciated as it should have been. The most capped player in both formats for his country, he was the first New Zealander to reach 7000 Test runs, and had an average of over 40, along with nine centuries.

He was a solid limited overs batsman as well, with more than 8000 ODI runs, still the only Black Cap to reach the milestone.

#6 Mark Waugh

Waugh lived in his brother’s shadows for years

The younger Waugh, nicknamed “Afghan Junior”, started playing international cricket five years after Steve. While he made his way into the team at the expense of his elder brother, Mark played in the shadows of Steve for eleven years, until he unceremoniously lost his Test place in 2002.

At his best, his lazy elegance was a sight for gods, as exhibited by his twenty Test tons. He finished his ODI career as the highest run-getter for his country. Yet, the illustrious career of his brother and his legendary captaincy, as well as a star-studded line-up deprived the younger brother of higher recognition.

#7 Makhaya Ntini

Ntini generated pace like fire

The product of United Cricket Board’s (UCB) development program, Ntini was transported from the fields of White Cape to the South African team as a 20-year-old. He ended up with close to 400 Test wickets, just behind Shaun Pollock, and now Dale Steyn.

Although he is a popular cricketer in his country, his name isn’t spoken in the same breath as his other fast bowling contemporaries. Somewhere between Allan Donald’s fall and Dale Steyn’s rise, Ntini’s relentless approach to fast bowling didn’t attain the same legendary status.

With the rise of a strong fast bowling unit, the ever-smiling South African lost his Test place, eventually retiring with a hundred Tests under his belt.

#8 Nathan Astle

Astle was a dashing Kiwi batsman

Nathan Astle did what all destructive batsmen do these days, only fifteen years earlier. With a game tailor made for Twenty20s, Astle provided the initial burst in one-dayers for the Black Caps.

He ended with more than 7000 ODI runs and 16 hundreds, also picking up 99 wickets. The free-scoring batsman might have been one of the best players for his team, but was underrated in comparison to other opening batsmen of the same era.

Astle played in extremes, when he was good, he was very good. His international career was peppered with excellent individual performances, some of them were world records. He was a brilliant Test player as well, playing 81 Test matches and ending as the third highest run scorer for his country.

Coming in at 5 and 6, he scored eleven hundreds including the fastest double century ever.

#9 Damien Martyn

Martyn got Australia out of many trouble situations

Elegant and classy, Martyn made his way into an Australian team brimming with talent in the early 1990s but became a regular only at the turn of the millennium.

From 2000 to 2006, he was an integral part of the Australian setup in both forms of the game. His game was highlighted by delectable drives and cuts, and sublime wrist work.

His performances used to go unnoticed many a times, overshadowed by the more established batsmen in the team. He reached the age of 30 in 2001, possessing an average of 50 in Tests, without a single Man-of-the-Match award to his name.

He was also a useful one day player as well, gathering more than 5000 runs with conventional strokeplay, and was part of the World Cup-winning team of 2003, scoring 88 in the finals.

#10 VVS Laxman

Very Very Special

A batsman with unflappable temperament and silken strokeplay, VVS Laxman was part of the famed Indian batting lineup of the 2000s. Statistics can’t highlight the worth of the Hyderabadi, who fought many a battle with the bat, especially against Australia.

He won matches for India even though he used to be left stranded with the tail when the top order collapsed. The Mohali Test of 2010, when an injured Laxman got India through with only the last batsman for company, speaks volumes of his indispensability to the Indian team.

It’s a pity he didn’t get a well-deserved farewell and isn’t given the same recognition as some of his contemporaries.

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