Who were some of the players that changed how cricket is played?
The concept of international cricket matches came into existence centuries ago. It was in 1844 that the United States of America locked horns with Canada in the first international game at the St George's Cricket Club in New York. Since then, a lot has changed in the gentlemen’s game.
From Test cricket, 60-over games, One Day Internationals, and T20 Internationals to 10-over matches, the sport is evolving day by day. It is not only the format or the cricket bodies that have brought a key change in how cricket is now viewed across the globe. A handful of cricketers have also played an impactful role in changing the style of the game.
In this article, let us look at 5 cricketers who even to this day profoundly changed how cricket is played, which in turn even has an impact on betting on cricket. Let’s start with my own personal favourite player of all time.
Sir Vivian Richards
One cannot even imagine how cricket would have looked today if it was not blessed with a legend called Sir Vivian Richards. Before the West Indies Superstar, the batters only knew defence. Their aim was just to face the six balls in an over and score three or four runs. However, Richards introduced the cricket fraternity with the concept of power-hitting. The enigmatic batter stunned the fans and bowlers with his ability to hit sixes and fours. It was his hard-hitting batting that made West Indies a force to reckon with in the 70s. The legend ended his career with 6721 ODI and 8540 Test runs at an average of 47 and 50.2, respectively.
Just like Sir Vivian Richards, Sanath Jayasuriya is another player who revolutionised batting. Jayasuriya completely changed batting in the One Day format, especially in the power play. Being an opening batter, the Sri Lankan star challenged the idea of gradually building the innings and then hitting in the middle and death overs. He took the opposition bowlers to the cleaners right from the first balls. Jayasuriya did not hesitate in the power play to exploit the fielding restrictions. Every time, the legend came to bat; he looked in proper rhythm.
Swing bowlers are considered the deadliest in the modern era. However, it was not the case in the beginning. In the 60s and 70s, pace bowling was all about speed. The bowlers were purely judged on the basis of how fast they could bowl. However, in 1984, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram set his foot into international cricket to change seam bowling. He mastered the art of swing and the combination of pace and swing. It made him one of the most ferocious bowlers to ever play the gentlemen’s game. The former Pakistani skipper made the cricket world aware of how the swing is more important than the simple line-length approach. The seamer etched his name in the history books by becoming the first bowler to pick 500 wickets in ODIs.
AB de Villiers
Today we admire the players like Glenn Maxwell, Suryakumar Yadav, and Rishabh Pant for their ability to hit anywhere in the ground. Shots like switch hit, reverse hit, sweep, etc are quite common. However, this explosive king of batting was not common before AB de Villiers. The former South African captain redefined batting with his orthodox shots. It was the right-handed batter who taught the cricketers to make use of the entire ground to hit the ball. For his innovative and uncanny batting, he is referred to as Mr. 360 degree.
The world will always remember Shane Warne as the greatest spinner to ever play the gentlemen’s game. Before Warne, spinners were only used to defend runs and put a halt to the scoreboard. The captain always trusted the seamers to rattle the opposition batters and important partnerships. However, Shane changed the landscape of cricket as he added life to spin bowling. Being a leg-spinner, he could turn and spin the ball like no other bowler. One of his deliveries during the 1993 Ashes that dismissed Mike Gatting was honoured with the title of the ‘ball of the century’.
This might be a surprise mention in the list, but Jonty Rhodes deserves all the credit for showing the world that electrifying fielding can also win matches. Rhodes changed the way teams looked at fielding. It was after his exploits as a fielder that players all over the world started taking this aspect of the game seriously.