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5 early-career comparisons of cricketers that failed to live up to expectations

Every time a cricketer succeeds, critics are quick to spot resemblances with former greats. Not all of them however, stand the test of time.

SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10 01 Jan 2016, 19:18 IST
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Legends are a rarity in Cricket. As is the case with most other sports, Cricket too suffers from the void created when a true gem of the game bids farewell. And when a bright spark emerges on the horizon in the form of an energetic youngster, the scouts rejoice in unison.Every time a young left-arm pacer runs in and swings the ball, comparisons with Wasim Akram are evoked. And when an all-rounder earns an international cap, we yearn that he might indeed be the reincarnation of the flamboyant Imran Khan or the graceful Sir Richard Hadlee.Comparisons are inevitable and will continue to be made as long as we cherish the memories of our heroes from the yesteryears. That said, more often than not, these assessments are more a reflection of our wishful-thinking than anything else. And soon enough, when the promising players fizzle out, we are left high and dry, lamenting the loss of another talent.Here are 5 talented cricketers who showed promise, earned a comparison with a former great and then dwindled away into obscurity.

#5 Derek Pringle Ian Botham

Derek Pringle was picked early to complement Botham and carry the mantle. But that never worked out

Spurred by the success of Botham, the English selectors offered several promising youngsters a test cap in the 80s. Derek Pringle, at 6ft 4in, was an imposing 23-year-old swing bowler who could strike it big lower down the order. A surprise selection at the time given that Botham was at his peak, Pringle attracted immediate criticism.

It wasn’t until his second stint with the English side that he picked his first five-for against the West Indies at Birmingham in 1984. But this effort was to be one of only three through a career that spanned 30 Tests. Add to that a test batting average of 15.10 with a solitary fifty, his batting credentials looked more like that of a tail-ender and nowhere close to that of a Botham-like all-rounder.

Pringle’s performances in ODIs didn’t live up to expectations either. Although his ODI batting average of 23.61 was remarkably similar to that of Botham’s (23.21), he didn’t register a single fifty and seldom made an impact with the bat. And with 44 wickets from 44 ODIs at a strike-rate of 54, he wasn’t exactly bowling out oppositions.

Despite being in and out of the team in an international career that spanned a decade, Pringle was widely regarded by critics and fans alike as an under-achiever. And his record certainly didn’t help the cause.

Like the several others that were inducted in the Botham-mold and eventually failed, Pringle was fully aware of the comparison. That said, the tall right-hander detested the thought. “I'm a realist and to me the whole idea was preposterous. I knew he was an amazing player and that I would never be able to emulate him”, recalled Pringle.

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