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Kaun Pravin Tambe? Movie Review: Does Shreyas Talpade Revive His Iqbal Magic?

By Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams, 04/01/2022

Actor Shreyas Talpade, from Iqbal fame, is back to portray this inspirational story of a man who realized his dream of playing cricket on the national stage at the age of 41.

Can Pravin Tambe’s unlikely journey capture the imagination of the public like other sports movies? Today we review this latest cricket movie released on Disney+HotstarDetails, Summary, Verdict, and most importantly, Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe. There is also a section of most popular Pravin Tambe videos, his playing career, and stats at the very end.

Contents

  1. Kaun Pravin Tambe Detail & Information
  2. Kaun Pravin Tambe Summary and Review
    1. The Stories
    2. The Acting
  3. Verdict: To Watch or Not to Watch?
  4. 5 Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe
    1. 1. Age Is Just a Number
    2. 2. Balancing Dreams with Practicality of Life
    3. 3. Be Open-Minded
    4. 4. Passion Makes Perfect
    5. 5. All You Need Is One Good Over. Never Give Up. Dreams Really Do Come True
  5. Pravin Tambe Videos and Interviews
  6. Who Is Pravin Vijay Tambe?
    1. Pravin Tambe Stats
    2. Pravin Tambe Major Teams

Also Read:

Kolkata Knight Riders just posted an emotional video on social media regarding a special screening of Kaun Pravin Tambe?, celebrating Pravin Tambe who is on KKR’s support staff in IPL 2022 (video of KKR’s special screening linked below).

Kaun Pravin Tambe Detail & Information

Title Name: Kaun Pravin Tambe? (Who is Pravin Tambe?)

Hotstar Summary: Relentless effort can make an underdog rise to the top, and cricketer Pravin Tambe’s extraordinary journey proves why age is just a number.

Protagonist: Shreyas Talpade as Pravin Tambe

Major Cast:

  • Ashish Vidyarthi as Coach Vidyadhar Paradkar
  • Parambrata Chatterjee as journalist Rajat Sanyal
  • Anjali Patil as wife Vaishali Tambe
  • Nitin Rao as teammate/friend/Mumbai selector/India player Abey Kuruvilla (Check Out Kuruvilla’s debut wicket against the West Indies)
  • Arif Zakaria as Jamil Jalali

Directed By: Jayprad Desai

Release Date: April 1, 2022

Length: 2 hour, 13 minutes

Language: Hindi (English subtitles available, also dubbed versions available in Telegu & Tamil)

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Kaun Pravin Tambe Summary and Review

Kaun Pravin Tambe? begins with a clip of a Rahul Dravid, who is portraying Pravin Tambe as the embodiment of passion (full speech below). The movie then tries to answer the question for the audience, who is this Pravin Tambe that Dravid is talking about? Cricket fans have heard about with his exploits with the Rajasthan Royals between 2013 and 2015, but how did he start his career? Why did he have to wait for 20 years?

Also Read: What Rahul Dravid Taught Me

The film begins in the early 2010s, when Tambe is juggling his life as a construction supervisor, father, husband, and cricketer. After brief introduction of the Shreyas Talpade, the movie rewinds to Tambe’s childhood and develops chronologically. We see that at the age of 12, Tambe finds his life purpose—to play Ranji cricket for Mumbai. The essence of the plot is to fill the gap between ages 12 to 41.

The Stories

There are several mini-stories within the larger movie. Tambe begins his career as an all-rounder and specifically, a medium-pace allrounder. How does he then turn into this leg-spinner? (Don’t worry, will not spoil that for you here). Another plotline is the various jobs Tambe takes upon for the sake of financial stability, while still trying to give time to cricket. This is my favorite part of the movie.

Finally, the portrayal of the Mumbai grassroots cricket, Shivaji Park maidaans, and gully cricket is cherry on top of the cake. The actual cricket has the perfect screen time—not too much (like 83’s highlights reels), not too little, just right.

The Acting

What makes this a neat watch is Shreyas Talpade’s bowling action. I loved his bowling action in Iqbal and since Tambe started as a medium pacer, Talpade was a perfect fit. His acting is brilliant as usual, but the minor characters (older brother, childhood friend, wife Vaishali, Abey Kuruvilla, and Arif Zakaria as Jamil) are the heart of the film. Special mention to Ashish Vidyarthi, who does an excellent job portraying Vidyadhar Paradkar sir (influential coach for Zaheer Khan and other great Indian cricketers).

Finally, a note on Parambrata Chatterjee, who is a wonderful actor (you might know him as the police officer in Kahaani & Aranyak). However, his minor negative character as a journalist did not suit him or the script well.

Verdict: To Watch or Not to Watch?

At this moment, there is loads of cricket going on—2022 Women’s World Cup, IPL 2022, Australia Vs Pakistan ODIs, Bangladesh Vs South Africa Tests, Netherlands Vs New Zealand limited overs series, and the 2022 County Championship will begin in a week as well.

On top of this, I am sure you are busy with work, family, or school.

But if you can make time for two hours in this busy world, I hope you can set everything aside and give Kaun Pravin Tambe? a sincere watch. Good, light-hearted movie that will rejuvenate your belief in cricket, specifically grassroot & gully cricket.

My review for Kaun Pravin Tambe? is 4.5/5. Great watch. The only thing that took away from the film for me was the minor conflict with the journalist, which seemed a bit forced.

Before we move on to “Life Lessons we can learn from Pravin Tambe”, check out BCD’s social media pages and consider subscribing to our newsletter. It would really help support this website.

5 Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe

Pravin Tambe symbolizes Broken Cricket Dreams. His journey has broken dreams, but his story is also full of inspiration, passion, hard work, modesty, and determination.

Tambe is one of the great stories of the IPL. Got his big break before playing a Ranji Trophy match. And guess what? After all his toil, results were evident – hat-trick vs KKR, highest wicket taker for Rajasthan Royals in 2014, and the Golden Wicket taker for RR in 2012 Champions League.

And he played till he was 49 across IPL, CPL, Abu Dhabi T10 leagues. I am sure he still plays a few gully cricket games here and there. Dedication to the max. Here are some of the other life lessons from Pravin Tambe we can apply to our lives.

1. Age Is Just a Number

After almost 30 years of toil, Tambe finally got selected for the Rajasthan Royals in 2013. A few months later, he would get his beloved Ranji Trophy cap.

In this day and age of the internet and focus on fitness, anything is possible. Tom Brady, Pravin Tambe, Brad Hogg, and Chris Gayle can still play professional sports at 42. With resources online, you can obtain a new skill, learn new things, change careers, or start a business. At any point in your life, age is no barrier.

2. Balancing Dreams with Practicality of Life

As Tambe entered his twenties, he assumed more responsibilities. He got married, had two kids, and had to pay bills. Usually, people give up dreams during this time for financial security.

Pravin Tambe did not. He worked multiple jobs instead.

Life is all about moderation and balance. And to survive, money is needed. If you can develop multiple streams of income, while still being within reach of your dream goal, that is the ideal zone.

3. Be Open-Minded

Pravin Tambe reluctantly switched from medium pace bowling to leg spin. And boy, did it pay dividends.

There is a fine line between persistence and inflexibility. Quitting should always be your last option, but if things are not working in your favor, be open to change. Being open minded in the micro can have large positive effects on the macro.

4. Passion Makes Perfect

Dravid’s speech illuminates on Pravin Tambe’s work ethic. Although he did not play much the first year, he attended every optional practice session, every gym session, and was always discussing how to improve his game with other players in the squad.

After his first man of the match award in the IPL, “he was weeping.” He cherished every moment of this journey. Although he has now assumed coaching roles, he still plays for his company (Kanga League, Time Shield) and still bowls 15-20 overs a day in three-day-games.

We usually say ‘Practice Makes Perfect.’ That is true, but what is more is that ‘Passion Makes Perfect.’ If you combine your love or passion for a certain activity and put in the practice and the hard yards, then you will be happy with all your efforts and gradually get closer to your dream.

5. All You Need Is One Good Over. Never Give Up. Dreams Really Do Come True

The main theme of Kaun Pravin Tambe can be summed up by one quote in the movie.

“Whether it is life or match, all you need is one good over.”

Pravin Tambe was in the 40 Probable’s List for a number of seasons, even as early as 2000.

But he had to wait. And Wait. Almost gave up. And had doubts cast upon from friends and society, but he kept on working relentlessly and kept on dreaming a dream till he got his big break that changed his life.

In Tambe’s own words, “Just never give up on your dreams. Really dreams do come true.”

Try, Try, and Try Again Until You Succeed. You may take rest but never quit. The light at the end of the tunnel may be bleak, but there is light, nevertheless.

Pravin Tambe Videos and Interviews

Here are some of my favorite Pravin Tambe videos. In his interview with Aakash Chopra, Tambe reveals that his IPL cap was not his biggest moment. Getting the Ranji cap for Mumbai from legend Wasim Jaffer was his most memorable moment.

Here below is one of his best innings of his career. So much spin! Beautiful.

Here is Tambe’s hat-trick and 5-wicket hall in a T10 match that featured wickets of Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan, and Kieron Pollard (Bowled!), Upul Tharanga – as a 47-year old. Wow!

Embed from Getty Images

Who Is Pravin Vijay Tambe?

Born: 8 October, 1971 (Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)

Pravin Tambe Stats

T20s: 64 matches, 70 wickets, Best Innings – 4/13, 22.35 average, 6.92 economy

List A: 6 matches, 5 wickets, Best Innings – 2/26

First Class: 2 matches, 2 wickets, Best Innings – 2/127

  • First Indian and oldest player to play in the CPL.

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why BCCI Should Allow Players In Foreign Leagues? Learn From the West Indies

Pravin Tambe Major Teams

  • Indian Premier League (IPL): Rajasthan Royals, Gujarat Lions, Sunrisers Hyderabad
  • Caribbean Premier League (CPL): Trinbago Knight Riders
  • Abu Dhabi T10 League: Sindhis
  • Domestic: Mumbai, Mumbai Cricket Association XI, Dr DY Patil Sports Academy, Orient Shipping

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 04/01/2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

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20 Years of Mithali Raj And Jhulan Goswami: Eternal Legends for Indian & Women Cricket

Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami, the dynamic duo.

Sounds okay but could be better. Let us try again.

Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami—The Eternal Legends? Scratch that. How about

Goswami & Raj: Stalwarts that Let the Flame Burning for India’s Women Cricket.

I have to be brutally honest here. I had a tough time finishing this article.

It took me weeks. I mean how could I summarize such long careers, awe-aspiring legacies, and inspirational stories with a mere couple of phrases? In fact, it took me an entire day just to research just the sheer number of records and awards these two possess (all of them listed below).

103 days away from the 2022 Women’s ODI Cricket World Cup Final, let us look back at the glorious careers of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami—Where Did It all begin? Statistics and legacies, ups and downs, the final hurrah, and of course what can we learn from the lives of India’s best women batter and fastest bowler?

Table of Contents

  1. Table of Contents
  2. The Beginning
    1. Jhulan’s Inspiration
    2. Early Decisions, Discipline, and the Passion to Excel
    3. Debut
  3. Records and Statistics of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami
    1. Joint Records Held by Raj & Goswami
    2. Mithali Raj Stats
    3. Mithali Raj Records
      1. Tests
      2. ODIs
      3. T20Is
    4. Mithali Raj Awards
    5. Jhulan Goswami Stats
    6. Jhulan Goswami Records
      1. Tests
      2. ODIs
      3. T20Is
    7. Jhulan Goswami Awards
  4. International Success
  5. World Cup Dream
    1. Bright Promises
    2. Rock Bottom of 2009 & 2013
  6. 2017 World Cup and the Broken Dream
    1. T20 World Cups
  7. Captaincy & Controversies
    1. The Captaincy-Controversy Complex
  8. Women’s IPL Without Goswami & Raj Already a Failure for BCCI
  9. What Can We Learn from Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami?
    1. Life Lessons
    2. Quotes on Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami
  10. Final Hurrah for the Iconic Duo?
  11. Jhulan Goswami Videos and Articles
  12. Mithali Raj Videos, Articles, Book, and Biopic
  13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  14. Further Reading: Women’s Cricket
  15. Further Reading: Cricketing Heroes

Also Read

Embed from Getty Images

The Beginning

It has been 8216 days and 7291 days since Mithali Raj’s and Jhulan Goswami’s debut respectively. That is a really long time, let alone for a sporting career. Let us trace back to where it all began.

Jhulan’s Inspiration

Jhulan Goswami did not actually start playing cricket till the relatively late age of 15. It was the 1997 ODI World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand that sowed the seeds of cricket deep into her roots.

She was a ball picker in that World Cup final at the Eden Gardens when Australia’s World Cup winning celebrations ignited her passion to take up the sport.

It was now her dream to lift the World Cup trophy for India.

Mithali Raj’s talent was picked early, and she was in the national radar by the time she was 14. However, actually devoting her career to cricket was not such an easy decision.

Early Decisions, Discipline, and the Passion to Excel

In their interviews with Gaurav Kapur in Breakfast With Champions and Mithali Raj’s chat with Ravichandran Ashwin in DRS With Ash, we gain a bit of insight in their lives—Raj’s early interest & training in the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam, her fascination with books, and what obstacles both Goswami & Raj had to overcome during their journey.

Although both of their parents were supportive of their decisions to play cricket, there was backlash from extended family and the rest of society, especially when women’s cricket in India was in its infancy. Raj states that her toughest decision was to choose World Cup selection games over her 12th grade board exams. In any case, they both started training in cricket academies, disciplined their routines, and woke up around 4 AM to get ready for practice.

In Raj’s case, the discipline stemmed from an army family background. For Jhulan, originally from the small town of Chakdaha, it was the two hours travel by train for practice.

Debut

It was an evident in their early days of international cricket that these two were going to make an indelible impact in Indian cricket.

Opening the batting, Raj scored 114* against Ireland in her debut ODI on 26 June, 1999 just at the age of 16. Goswami would follow suit on January 5th, 2002, opening the bowling against England and returning with figures of 7-0-15-2. Her high arm release, bowling speed, and the beautiful smooth action would be a breath to behold in the years to come.

A few days later they would debut together against England in the first of only 12 Test matches.

Records and Statistics of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami

In these tributes, I usually like to add a statistics section to paint the whole picture of the cricketer, but this one is a bit unique. Since Raj & Goswami have played so much cricket & have been consistently excellent, they practically have all the individual records to their name.

Slowly scroll down, sit back, and just reflect how dominant these two legends have been for two decades.

Joint Records Held by Raj & Goswami

  • 2nd – Joint Longest Test Careers (debut 14 January, 2002)
  • 157 – Highest Partnership for the 7th Wicket in Test Cricket (Aug 14-17, 2002)

Mithali Raj Stats

MatchesRunsBestAverage100s50s
Tests1269921443.6814
ODIs2207391125*51.32759
T20Is89236497*37.52017
Mithali Raj Career Statistics

Mithali Raj Records

  • Leading scorer in women’s cricket across formats (10454+)
  • Only Indian captain to lead the country in two ODI World Cup finals

Tests

  • 3rd Youngest Test Captain (At 22)
  • Youngest Player to score 200+ (19)
  • 2nd Highest Individual Score (214)

ODIs

  • Most Runs (7391* and counting)
  • Longest ODI Career (Debut: 26 Jun 1999)
  • Most Career Matches (220)
  • Most Consecutive Matches (109 – Between April 2004-February 2013)
  • Youngest Player to score 100+ (16)
  • Hundred on Debut (114*)
  • Most consecutive 50s (7 between 7 Feb-25 June 2017, 70*, 64, 73*, 51*, 54, 62*, 71)
  • Joint Most 90s (5)
  • Most Matches as ODI Captain (143)
  • 2nd Most Innings Without Duck (74)
  • 4th Most Catches (58)
  • 5th Highest Career Batting Average (51.32)

T20Is

  • 2nd Fastest to 2000 Runs
  • 3rd Highest Average (37.52)
  • 2nd Most consecutive 50s (4 – 62, 73*, 54*, 76*)
Embed from Getty Images

Mithali Raj Awards

  • 2003 – Arjuna Award
  • 2005-2021 – ICC #1 ODI Batter (9 times in 15 Years)
  • 2015 – Padma Shri
  • 2017 – Wisden Leading Women Cricket in the World
  • 2017 – BBC 100 Women
  • 2021 – Khel Ratna

Jhulan Goswami Stats

MatchesWicketsBestAverageEconomy5W (Test)/
4 W (ODI/T20I)
10 W (Test)/
5 W (ODI/T20I)
RunsBest50s
Tests12445/25 (Innings)
10/78 (Match)
17.3631291692
ODIs1922406/3121.593.31721162571
T20Is68655/1121.945.450140537*0
Jhulan Goswami Career Statistics

Jhulan Goswami Records

Tests

  • Youngest player to take a 10-wicket haul in a women’s Test (23 years)
  • Most Wickets Taken LBW (18)

ODIs

  • Most Wickets (240)
  • Most Balls bowled in career (9387* and counting)
  • Highest Number of Days As #1 Bowler
  • 2nd Longest ODI career (debut 6 January, 2002)
  • Most Wickets Taken LBW (53)
  • 3rd – Most 4 wickets in an innings (9)
  • One of 10 players with 100+ wickets/1000+ Runs
  • 2nd Most Catches
  • Most ducks (17 – Ouch)

T20Is

  • 3rd Most maidens

Jhulan Goswami Awards

  • 2007 – ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year
  • 2010 – Arjuna Award
  • 2012 – Padma Sri
Embed from Getty Images

International Success

Mithali Raj became a core member in the early 2000s. Two of her most prominent innings in this phase was the 214 against England in Taunton and 91* vs New Zealand in the 2005 World Cup semi-final.

Jhulan Goswami’s best days came between 2006 & 2008. Her all-round form (3-46 & 2-62, 69 at #3, 5-33 & 5-45) helped India win a Test series in England on her way to become the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year.

World Cup Dream

Although Raj & Goswami have accomplished almost everything in the sport, there is one elusive achievement they have yet to realize—the World Cup dream.

Bright Promises

Mithali Raj has played in 5 ODI World Cups, dating back to the 2000 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, when India made the semi-finals. Next time in 2005, both Jhulan & captain made the team. It would be India’s first run to the World Cup final, losing to Australia. Raj was India’s highest scorer with 199 runs (5th overall), and Jhulan was at #3 in the wickets (13 wickets).

Then followed two World Cups of relative disappointments.

Rock Bottom of 2009 & 2013

In 2009, India did not make it past the Super Six stage, but Raj made it into the Team of the tournament (247 runs, 2 – 50s, best of 75*). Goswami, who did not have a great time with the ball, was India’s captain during the tournament.

The 2013 Cricket World Cup, however, was arguably the lowest moment as India failed to get out of the qualifying stage. This time captaincy was back with Mithali Raj while Jhulan had a decent tournament with 9 wickets in just 4 games. Raj did score a 103* against Pakistan for the 7th Place Playoffs.

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Around this time, Jhulan & Raj graduated to become the seniors in the Indian national setup. In the 2010 T20 World Cup, Goswami recalls a conversation with Raj,

“I think we should take women’s cricket to such a platform where the young girls can get inspired…People won’t recognize women’s cricket until we do something at the World Cup.”

2017 World Cup and the Broken Dream

The moment came in the form of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup, which was the watershed moment for world cricket and eventually lead to the grand success of the 2020 T20 World Cup final.

Post-2017, media coverage, funding, and women’s cricket grew in leaps and bounds. Mithali Raj herself reflects that she had more interviews after 2017 then in the first 18 years of her career.

India’s successful march to the finals was another great storyline of the tournament. By this time, a good core had formed around Raj & Goswami with Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, and Punam Raut all contributing with match -winning performances.

Raj followed up her consistent scores of 71, 45, 53, 69 with a 109-run knock against New Zealand. She ended up as the second highest run getter of the tournament with 409 runs (1 run behind Tammy Beaumont). Goswami had a decent run herself, taking 10 wickets overall with the best of 3/23 and providing India with miserly opening sells.

Despite the golden run, it was not to be as Anya Shrubsole’s magic deprived India of the World Cup victory.

So close, yet so far. Broken Cricket Dream.

T20 World Cups

India has not had the rub of the green in the T20 World Cups in T20 World Cups either. After qualifying for the semi-finals in 2009 & 2010, they crashed out in the group stages in 2012.

They did not get far in 2014 & 2016 either except that Mithali Raj was the 3rd highest run getter with 208 runs in 2014.

In 2018, India had a bright run with 4 wins in 4 matches in the group stage before crashing out in the semi-finals again. Mithali had retired by the time 2020 T20 World Cup came around and Jhulan did not play in a T20 World Cup since 2016.

Embed from Getty Images

Captaincy & Controversies

Jhulan Goswami was India’s captain briefly from 2008 to 2011, captaining India in 25 ODIs (W: 12, L: 13).

Mithali Raj, on the other hand, has had a couple of captaincy stints. First was around the 2005 ODI Women’s World Cup, the second stint during the 2013 World Cup, and the final one around the 2017 Women’s World Cup. In all, she captained India in 8 Tests (W:3, D: 4, L: 1) and 143 ODIs (W: 85, L: 55), the most by any Indian captain.

The Captaincy-Controversy Complex

These days India’s captaincy is synonymous with controversy. The same applies here as well.

Although Ramesh Powar is back as India’s head coach now and the relationship has reconciled, in 2018, a public battle of words between Raj & coach Ramesh Power took place. There was discussion on Raj’s strike rate and batting position during the 2018 T20 World Cup and she was eventually dropped from the 2018 semifinals, which India lost.

Eventually, Mithali Raj retired from the T20Is in 2019 and Harmanpreet Kaur replaced Mithali as captain.

Women’s IPL Without Goswami & Raj Already a Failure for BCCI

Women’s IPL or the lack of has been a hot topic of discussion lately.

However, it has already failed before it began. In order to cultivate a strong fan base, Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami would have been wonderful ambassadors as players. I am sure they will still be invovled in some way or the other, but without creating a team around them, the BCCI has already lost a golden opportunity.

They have given everything for Indian cricket. They deserve one final farewell, preferably in front of their home crowd.

What Can We Learn from Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami?

Just like the 1997 World Cup moment inspired her, Jhulan herself has inspired numerous other cricketers like Pakistan’s Kainat Imtiaz (who was a ball picker when India toured Pakistan in 2005).

The legacies of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami are far beyond the numbers. They have not only changed cricket but have also changed the perception of fans towards women’s cricket.

When they debuted, Indian women’s cricket was not at a great place. BCCI had not taken over women’s cricket yet, lots of the early tours required self-sponsoring, practices were on turf wickets, and the facilities/physios were not as prominent back then.

The fact that India has reached so many semi-finals & finals and a trophy seems to be right around the corner is credit to their work over the years. Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami have not only contributed by their own skills but have also mentored and brought others along the way.

Life Lessons

Longevity & consistency, coming back from disappointments, breaking barriers, mentoring others, staying focused on your goals, and always, always daring to dreamThis is what Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami teach me.

I hope their magnificent careers and lives teaches you some valuable life lessons as well.

Quotes on Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami

Here is some advice in their own words.

“Young boys and young girls saying – We saw your match, we want to play cricket, where can we go, and enroll ourselves? So that’s a success for me, because getting the girls to watch cricket is a big thing.’

– Mithali Raj on Breakfast with Champions

“”Be committed and persistent in what [you] do. Channel your energy and be consistent”

– Mithali Raj advice to young girls in DRS With Ash

“But winning the World Cup was a dream. You chase that dream. You wake up every day and think about lifting that trophy…But that blot will remain unless you win the World Cup. Irrespective of me being in the team or not.”

-Jhulan Goswami on the World Cup dream

“I live with this dream. I live with this passion and want to do something for women’s cricket.”

-Jhulan Goswami on Women’s Cricket

“You have been a trendsetter…an inspiration…and a role model.”

– R Ashwin on Mithali Raj

Final Hurrah for the Iconic Duo?

Raj & Goswami are still fit and raring to go as we saw against Australia series this year. Goswami redeemed herself from a high pressure last over no-ball with a match winning shot in the very next game. They still have it in them.

On March 5th, 2022, India begins its journey to the 2022 Women’s ODI World Cup against Pakistan. Who knows, these might be the final 7 games that we might see of these legends.

We all hope that they can go two steps forward and achieve their World Cup dream. But even if they do not, it has been two delightful careers sandwiched in one that have mesmerized the fans for two decades.

Memories to behold.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Jhulan Goswami Videos and Articles

  1. Jaffa To dismiss Meg Lanning
  2. 2017 ODI World Cup – Jhulan Goswami Feature
  3. Through The Gates to Alyssa Healy in a T20I
  4. Goswami’s Redemption in the 3rd ODI vs Australia
  5. Article by Niyantha Shekhar (ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly)

Mithali Raj Videos, Articles, Book, and Biopic

  1. Mithali Raj Sixes
  2. Chat With Ravichandran Ashwin in DRS With Ash
  3. Breakfast With Champions
  4. Article by Shashank Kishore (ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly)
  5. Interview With Annesa Ghosh (ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly)
  6. Unguarded (Autobiography)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where Is Mithali Raj from?

Mithali Raj was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India but currently resides in Hyderabad.

When is Mithali Raj’s Birthday?

Mithali Raj was born on December 3, 1982.

Where is Jhulan Goswami from?

Goswami was born in Chakdaha, West Bengal, India.

When is Jhulan Goswami’s Birthday?

Jhulan Goswami was born on November 25, 1983.

What teams has Jhulan Goswami played for?

Goswami has played for India, India Green, Asia Women XI, Bengal, East Zone, and the Trailblazers.

Which teams has Mithali Raj played for?

Raj has played for India, India Blue, Asia Women XI, Railways, Air India, and Velocity.

Further Reading: Women’s Cricket

Further Reading: Cricketing Heroes

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© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 12/22/2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

Netflix ‘Bad Sport’ Fallen Idol Review: Must Watch for All Cricket Fans – How Will History Judge Hansie Cronje?

On the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s first ODI since international readmission on 10th November 1991 against India, we review Netflix’s Fallen Idol episode of their seriesBad Sport.’

This is Hansie Cronje’s story & his fall from grace during the infamous match-fixing scandal. What was going in Cronje’s mind? How did his teammates and family feel? What about the South African public? And most importantly, what was the investigation like?

Table of Contents

  1. Fallen Idol Detail & Information
  2. Hansie Cronje Fallen Idol Summary and Review
  3. Verdict: To Watch or Not To Watch?
  4. How will History Judge Hansie Cronje and Life Lessons We All Can Learn From Him
  5. Who Was Hansie Cronje?
    1. Hansie Cronje Stats
  6. Other Features on South African Cricket

Fallen Idol Detail & Information

Episode Name: Fallen Idol

Netflix Summary: Hansie Cronje captivates South Africa as the nation’s charismatic cricket captain, but allegations of match fixing besmirch his sterling reputation

Protagonist: Hansie Cronje

Major Characters: Allan Donald, Herschelle Gibbs, Jonathan Agnew, Cronje’s brother, sister, and wife, and Marlon Aronstam, bookie that started it all.

Release Date: October 6, 2021

Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Other Episodes: Hoop Schemes (USA college basketball), Need for Weed (Auto Racing), Soccergate (Juventus scandal), Gold War (2002 Winter Olympics), Horse hitman (Show Horses)

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Hansie Cronje Fallen Idol Summary and Review

The episode begins by the dramatic introduction of Marlon Aronstam, the bookie himself, who admits that

“I should never have been able to get close to him.”

The addition of bookmaker, journalists, as well as Allan Donald & Herschelle Gibbs, Fallen Idol goes to the next level. With a series of interviews, we get to know who Hansie Cronje really was and the circumstances of that time.

The documentary traces it step back and walks us through the brief history of South African cricket circa 1992. Violence, apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and the reinstatement of South African cricket. Where did Cronje fit in this complex society?

Cronje’s character is painted as this prominent unifying figure of post-apartheid South Africa, whose stature is only next to the great Nelson Mandela.

Next, the series dives into the details of his rising captaincy & career. We swiftly get into the backdrop of India’s illegal betting environment along with Delhi police’s investigation into the matter of match-fixing.

Hansie Cronje’s untainted heroic figure comes crashing down as allegations surface. The film ends with his unfortunate death in a plane crash, but not before it all comes together at the end with the live jury video and Cronje’s confession.

“I cannot tell you the huge shame that it’s caused me, the great passion I have for my country, great passion have for my teammates, and the unfortunate love I have for money…Yes I accepted money from bookmakers. Yes, I was trying to feed them information. But I promise you every time I walked onto the field, I gave my all for South Africa.

– Hansie Cronje
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Verdict: To Watch or Not To Watch?

Without a doubt, this is a must watch documentary episode on one of cricket’s most polarizing figures.

Think of this as extended YouTube highlights meshed into a professionally made documentary. There are highlight packages for the casual cricket fan to enjoy – SA vs Australia (Cronje’s captaincy debut), England vs SA (The infamous double forfeited Test feat Nasser Hussain), and SA’s tour of India.

What makes this a beautiful heartfelt documentary is the first hand experience of those closest to Cronje. How did they feel during the investigation and when he confessed? The fans and administrators were crushed for sure, but what is so revealing in the documentary is how his trusted friends and family felt.

I even had a couple of teardrops at the end. Keep a tissue nearby while watching this. Emotions Galore.

How will History Judge Hansie Cronje and Life Lessons We All Can Learn From Him

We can now reflect on South Africa’s readmission to cricket. 30 years on, wounds have not healed. They may have even become exacerbated. With Quinton de Kock & the knee affair in the T20 World Cup, the quota system, and racist allegations within the team surfacing in recent hearings, the fabric of South African cricket society is unraveling. The documentary hints that even though Cronje was a symbol of unity, he did pressure Herschelle Gibbs & Henry Williams, players of mixed and colored origin.

When the match-fixing saga happened, I was too little to remember anything. Later when I grew up, I always had a negative image of Cronje.

Objectively, Cronje damaged international cricket’s credibility and hurt fans all around the world.

However, what this documentary revealed to me is that there are several layers to consider before making a naive judgment. Hansie Cronje (and for that matter, Mohammad Azharuddin) were influential cultural icons of their time, beyond cricket.

Hansie Cronje was human. Humans have flaws. He confessed that he always gave it his all for the country, but money got the better of him. And that was his Achilles’ heel.

His brother mentioned towards the end that although South Africans have been through a lot, they are a forgiving society especially in context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Politicians with criminal background have been forgiven and are now parliamentary members.

Forgiveness is an important life lesson in all of this. At the end of the day, we can only come together and live peacefully, both internally and externally, if we forgive.

Will history forgive Hansie Cronje? Will you?

I will leave you all with this quote.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

– Martin luther king jr.

Who Was Hansie Cronje?

Hansie Cronje was without doubt one of the greatest captains in cricket, especially for South Africa. You probably remember the semi-final drama that ended South Africa’s WC dreams under his captaincy, but he was much more than that. Here are some stats and figures.

Born: 25 September, 1969

Died: 1 January, 2002 (32 years old)

Hansie Cronje Stats

Tests: 68 matches, 3714 runs, best of 135, 36.41 average, 100s/50s – 6/23, 43 wickets, Best Inn – 3/14, Best Match – 5/34

Captained: 53 Tests, Won 27, Lost 11

ODIs: 188 matches, 5565 runs, best of 112, 38.64 average, 100s/50s – 2/39, 114 wickets, Best – 5/32

Captained: 138 ODIs, 99 Wins, 1 Tie

  • Most consecutive matches as captain of an ODI Team (130 ODIs – and you guessed it right, the 2nd on this list is none other than Mohammad Azharuddin)
  • Test series win in India
  • Test series victory against all countries not named Australia
Embed from Getty Images

Other Features on South African Cricket

Also Read: 200th Article Special: 5 Things I have Learned From My Journey of Cricket Writing

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 11/11/2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

Image Courtesy: Ghaith baazaoui, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dinesh Karthik and the Art of Self Correction

Hamming Code

Imagine it is the 1940s. You are working at Bell Labs, one of the world’s premier research laboratories, an abode of inventions. Computers are at the beginning of their evolution, and programming still occurs on punched cards.

You work day and night in the week, and guess what? One error in the code and the program stops. Hard work down the drain. On the bright side, the machine detects and warns you that there is an error.

So as a brilliant scientist who has been a part of the Manhattan Project, what do you do? You work nights & weekends and develop an algorithm so that the machine can itself correct the errors, without the need for human intervention.

The year is 1950. You have published this paper and revolutionized computer science & information theory.

Your name is Hamming, Richard Hamming. (For more on Hamming codes, watch this beautiful video).

Table of Contents

  1. Hamming Code
  2. Dinesh Karthik
  3. Dinesh Karthik’s Initialization
    1. Under-19 Days
    2. International Debut
  4. When One Door Closes, Another Opens
  5. Error Correction Part I: Karthik’s Golden Year in Test Cricket
  6. Too Many Bugs To Fix
  7. Error Correction Part II: Dinesh Karthik, Journey To The Center Again
  8. Self-Calibration feat Abhishek Nayar
    1. A Nervous Bundle of Energy
  9. Errors Correction III – Consistency in Domestic Cricket
  10. Accuracy Improvement – Dinesh Karthik, The Finisher
  11. Nidahas Trophy & the Internet Superstar
    1. The Night of the Final
  12. The Comeback Ends & The 2019 Cricket World Cup
  13. Is There Another Comeback On The Horizon?
  14. Commentary Stint and The T-Shirt Collection
  15. Karthik’s Legacy: Did he underachieve or overachieve?
  16. The Road Less Traveled By
  17. What Can We Learn From Dinesh Karthik?
  18. The Stats
    1. IPL & Dinesh Karthik’s Career In a Nutshell
  19. Cricket Heroes

Dinesh Karthik

Now fast forward to the 2004. You are playing for the Indian national cricket team, one of the world’s premier cricketing nations, an abode of talent. Wicketkeeper batters are at the beginning of their evolution, and finishing limited over games is still at its infancy.

You work day and night on tours, and guess what? One poor series, and the selectors drop you. Hard work down the drain. On the bright side, selectors warn you that you have to play a different role in order to come back.

So as a budding young cricketer who has been a part of the 2004 U-19 World Cup, what do you do? You practice day in and day out, improve your technical faults, and comeback as a successful opener in swinging conditions to help India win a series in England in 2007.

A few months go by. Inconsistency creeps in. Dropped.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The year is 2021. You have claimed your fame to glory in that Nidahas Trophy final and revolutionized the role of a finisher.

Your name is Karthik, Dinesh Karthik.

Dinesh Karthik’s story is not in the career averages or amount of runs scored. Neither is it in number of comebacks. It is in the way the comebacks were constructed. Over the years, inconsistency has decreased, reassurance has increased, and in his own words, he has managed to stay ‘relevant.’

In simple terms, he has perfected the art of self-correction.

Dinesh Karthik’s Initialization

Algorithms have improved vastly since the Hamming code days. Yet, there are three main components of a self-correcting algorithm: Initialization, self-calibration, and error correction.

Under-19 Days

On the back of good domestic form, Dinesh Karthik was selected for the 2004 U-19 World Cup. This team included future Indian nationals in Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, and RP Singh. Following a decent domestic and India A season, he found himself in the national reckoning alongside Parthiv Patel as India were trying to find a permanent replacement to makeshift keeper in Rahul Dravid.

International Debut

On September 4, 2004, he made an immediate impact as a keeper in his ODI debut, inflicting a fabulous diving stumping to Michael Vaughan, being part of the famous Mohammad Kaif run-out, and taking a catch.

He would not bat in an ODI for another two years, but was picked for Tests against Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. After having a top score of only 46 in his first six Tests, he finally made a mark scoring 93 in the second innings against Pakistan. However, a loss of form and Dhoni’s memorable 148 at #3 in that Pakistan ODI series meant Karthik was briefly dropped from the Test side and traveled only as a reserve keeper for the next year.

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When One Door Closes, Another Opens

One of the interesting traits of Karthik’s unusual career has been that when he is dropped in Tests, he finds a place in ODIs and vice versa. Later in his career, he was recalled in ODI & Test cricket based on his T20 form.

Case and point is 2006. Karthik enjoyed a good run in the limited overs although he was out of the Test side.

Did you know he was India’s first T20I player of the match winner? Against South Africa, he marshalled the chase with a 31* not take India home in a low scoring chase of 127. Soon after, an ODI player of the performance against West Indies meant that he found a place in both the 2007 ODI and T20I World Cups.

Although he would not get a game in the ODI World Cup, he played as a pure batter in the inaugural T20 World Cup with Dhoni behind the stumps. Low scores followed in the T20 World Cup, but he provided India with a bit of magic in the semi-final—a one handed diving catch to dismiss Graeme Smith.

Nasser Hussain on commentary summed up Dinesh Karthik’s entire career accurately in one sentence

“They say Dinesh Karthik is the two extremes—he drops dollies and he takes some spectacular catches.”

Here are some of his other catches: IPL 2019 running catch, IPL 2020 Ben Stokes flying catch.

Error Correction Part I: Karthik’s Golden Year in Test Cricket

The year 2007 was DK’s best time in Test cricket.

By this time, it was clear that he could not make the XI based on his keeping skills alone. The Fab 4’s presence meant that the middle order was crowded. However, Sehwag & Gambhir had been dropped, which meant there was a slight opening.

Enter Dinesh Karthik 2.0—the opener. With Wasim Jaffer, he formed a brief yet formidable partnership.

In the third Test at Cape Town, the Jaffer-Karthik experiment paid dividend with a 153-opening partnership in the first innings. Karthik scored 63 as an opener and followed it up with 38* at #7.

In the tour of Bangladesh, he was given a permanent opening spot and returned with scores of 56, 22, and 129, his only Test century. Then, came India’s tour of England. Despite not scoring a hundred, scores of 60, 77, & 91 meant that he ended up as India’s highest Test scorer—263 runs, 3 fifties, 518 balls faced to go along Jaffer’s 409 balls, which helped India successfully dent the new ball.

Once again, a commentator did justice to Karthik’s second phase of his career.

“It’s good story Dinesh Karthik. He began life as a dashing middle order batsman and wicketkeeper, and he has been transformed really into an opening batsman of substance.”

India historically won 1-0, India’s first victory on English soil in 21 years (a decade of horror shows the significance of that series victory).

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Too Many Bugs To Fix

Pushed back to the middle order after just 2 more Tests, he could only muster 157 runs in 11 innings with a best of 52 against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. He would get another opportunity in Tests in 2010 before being dropped for another eight years.

On his come back against Afghanistan’s inaugural Test in 2018, he himself said in a press conference that in his earlier stint in Test cricket,

“I guess I wasn’t good enough before… I was not consistent enough.”

When he was out of favor in Tests in 2008, he did receive several opportunities in ODIs, scoring a few middling scores and featuring in India’s 2009 Champions Trophy squad. His best ODI innings of 79 runs came in 2010 with a 196-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar during his historic double century.

14 innings later, with only 1 50+ score & 2 ducks, he was dropped—this time for three years.

Error Correction Part II: Dinesh Karthik, Journey To The Center Again

More competition, more errors, longer time to fix. Enter Dinesh Karthik 3.0—the middle order batter.

It took a 3-year hiatus before Karthik stormed back. In IPL 2013 as the #3 batter for Mumbai Indians, he amassed 510 runs, only behind Rohit Sharma for MI. The innings where his highest score that season of 86 was possibly his best IPL innings (so far).

This performance earned him a ticket on the 2013 Champions Trophy and his best ‘List A’ moment came in the warm-up games, when he scored two back to back centuries, scoring 106* & 146* batting at #6. This tournament is fondly remembered for the beginning of the Shikhar Dhawan-Rohit Sharma opening partnership, which meant Karthik did not get much of a chance with 51* against West Indies his best knock.

A few months later, India failed to qualify for the Asia Cup finals and Karthik’s 21* vs Afghanistan would be his final innings for yet another 3 years.

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Self-Calibration feat Abhishek Nayar

Let us take a slight detour like his career took around 2014.

What is your favorite part about watching Dinesh Karthik? For me, it has always been his unconventional demeanor, starting from his batting routine. The moment he arrives at the crease, it is pure theater. Walking in with urgency, rolling the gloves around, dancing from side to side, taking guard, moving his helmet, meditating on the side. Excitement and apprehension at the same time.

As a keeper he is always chirping and speaking to the bowler, most famously with his partnership in KKR with Varun Chakravarthy or with R Ashwin in Team India.

But surely, so much energy must definitely be a burden. A volcano ready to erupt if the energy is not channeled properly.

A Nervous Bundle of Energy

In order to come back to the Indian national side, DK needed to recalibrate.

In a Breakfast With Champions interview with Gaurav Kapur, he described the time with Abhishek Nayar as a ‘mental bootcamp.’ 40-lap swimming, 45-minute uphill runs, sweeping the house, visualizing match scenarios, and extreme fitness training pushed DK out of his comfort zone. He reflected that

“When you push yourself out of your comfort zone when nobody is watching you and there is no glory attached to it and you just do it quietly because somewhere in life you want to achieve something, overall in time it does help you.”

This experience added an extra dimension to DK’s wide array of skills. He was always a good player of spin, but once he was in a good head space post-Nayar, he literally reinvented his batting—the sweeps, laps, reverse sweeps, and swivel across the crease came with increased frequency.

Errors Correction III – Consistency in Domestic Cricket

While his 2013 comeback was largely on the backs of the IPL, the 2017 comeback was due to the weight of runs in domestic trophy. He was among the runs in Ranji Trophy and has been consistent in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for the past five years.

At the peak of his batting powers, DK was hitting the ball as nicely as anybody at that time. Sanjay Manjrekar stated that at that time, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya were the only two Indian batters who could time the ball from ball one.

By this time, the pattern was set. Another Champions Trophy, yet another come back. Although he did not make the XI, in the next few matches after the trophy he scored 50*, 48, 37, 64* in consecutive games across ODIs & T20Is. It was a signal that he had added consistency to his arsenal.

Accuracy Improvement – Dinesh Karthik, The Finisher

After grinding it out in domestic cricket and becoming a much more calm and mature individual, it was time for Dinesh Karthik 4.0 to enter—Dinesh Karthik, the finisher.

From after the 2017 Champions to before the 2019 Cricket World Cup, DK slowly grew into the finisher role, remaining not-out 20 times out of the 35 ODIs or T20Is he played in.

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Nidahas Trophy & the Internet Superstar

After 14 years of sharpening his skills, beast mode was finally unlocked in the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka.

Short & sweet contributions in every game: 13* (6), 2* (2), 39* (25), 2* (2), and 29* (8). He could not be dismissed throughout the series.

The final was a night to remember. With Mustafizur’s wicket maiden in the 18th and a struggling Vijay Shankar at the other end, hope was all but lost.

The Night of the Final

Then comes in Dinesh Karthik. Rubel Hossain steams in and attempts a yorker. DK sits back and hits it over a long on for six. There is still life left in the game. Then came a heave for four and another one for six! Colombo crowd is going wild.

Couple of balls later, Karthik moves around crease and scoops it over fine leg—22 run over.

Final over, DK off strike, India need 12.

Wide, dot, 1,1, 4 (Shankar), Out. Five runs, one ball, one man. Over pitched delivery outside the off stump, DK times it with a full follow through. FLAT SIX. INDIA WIN! Captain Rohit Sharma said that DK was a bit upset being moved to #7, but he managed to channel the anger into good effect.

Given that India have not won a major ICC trophy since 2013, this memorable win stands at a high place for Indian fans. With 120 million and 211 million views for the 19th and 20th over respectively, this is easily the most watched cricket video (and possibly any sports video). Relive those moments below.

The Comeback Ends & The 2019 Cricket World Cup

He continued his Nidahas Trophy form in IPL 2018 with the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, scoring 498 runs at 49.80 with a strike rate of 147.77.

However selection across formats would come back to haunt him. He would make another comeback in Test cricket, but scores of 4, 0, 20, 1, 0 would be the end of his Test career. He would be in and out of the limited overs side, sometimes batting at #4 in Asia Cup ODIS, and sometimes almost finishing T20Is in New Zealand.

A score of 97* in IPL 2019 followed as he narrowly made the cut in the World Cup squad.

The Russian Roulette selection among Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, and most infamously, Ambati Rayudu probably hurt all five and India in the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final. Surprisingly promoted to No. 5, he tried to stem the fall of wickets before Jimmy Neesham’s brilliant catch ended his ODI career.

Is There Another Comeback On The Horizon?

He was one of the casualties of India’s post-tournament analysis, even dropped from the T20I side, where he had reasonable success.

Post-COVID, he had a tough time at the 2020 IPL, averaging only 14.08, his second worst season. Although he took KKR to a playoff spot in 2018, he would relieve captaincy duties to Eoin Morgan for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.

Since then, he has been vocal about fighting for a place in one of the T20 World Cups in the next two years purely as a finisher. Still the best finisher in India alongside Ravindra Jadeja & Hardik Pandya, the real question is, will we see DK 5.0?

Commentary Stint and The T-Shirt Collection

Even though we do not know his cricketing career will pan out, there is already a brief glimpse into the future.

He has become a social media celebrity with his Sky Sports stint providing apt analysis, providing daily weather updates, and most famously, showing the world his enviable T-shirt collection.

Here are his interviews with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Jasprit Bumrah.

Karthik’s Legacy: Did he underachieve or overachieve?

Representing your nation in one international tournament is is an honor. In a topsy-turvy career, Karthik has somehow managed to be a part of the 2007 ODI World Cup, 2007 T20 World Cup, 2009 Champions Trophy, 2013 Champions Trophy, 2017 Champions Trophy, and the 2019 ODI World Cup. Sprinkle a couple of Asia Cups in there as well.

There are two school of thoughts on Dinesh Karthik’s career. Did he fulfill his potential? Maybe. Maybe not.

From a glass half empty perspective, one can observe that as a gifted batter and a giant in domestic cricket, he could not make most of his opportunities and cement a place in the Indian national team. On the other hand, he never got an extended run in one format at a time, constantly playing in different roles and formats. Hence, the fact that we are still talking about him after 17 years is still an achievement.

DK’s career consisted of memorable high peaks in a relatively plateau of a career. Opening in England, twin List A tons in Champions Trophy warm ups, winning an IPL Trophy with Mumbai Indians and T20I World Cup in 2007, stumpings and catches galore, and giving fans the Nidahas Trophy Final to cherish, he has made his mark.

In a press conference, Karthik himself says

“Even if I don’t get the opportunity to play sport at the highest level, I want to be content with the fact that I have given it everything I have had. Not only on the field, but off the field.”

The Road Less Traveled By

Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

When India needed a wicketkeeper, Dinesh Karthik was a wicketkeeper. India needed an overseas opener, in came DK, the opener. When they needed a #4, he became a #4. Finally, when all the spots were filled, he became a specialist finisher.

Although he was an anomaly in the previous era, current Indian wicketkeepers might keep an eye on his career very carefully. It is likely that not all of KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat will get a constant run. So they should be prepared to be dropped and come back stronger, maybe with a different role.

Dinesh Karthik’s career might not have gone according to the original plan but his journey has been interesting nevertheless. He modified his approach, adapted to the circumstances, and always strived to improve his individual game.

What Can We Learn From Dinesh Karthik?

Numerous players were dropped at an early age and could never find a way to come back. Others could manage to comeback only briefly because they were pigeonholed to a single role. Karthik frequently took the road less traveled by, refined his old skills, while learning new ones at the go.

When he arrived in the international arena, he was a good player who had the potential to excel in three formats and don several roles. After years of repetitive self correction and recalibration, he has now developed his own unique niche—overs 16 to 20 as a T20 finisher, a position where he is the best. Power-hitters like Pollard, Russell, and Pandya might be better finishers in general but not many have the match awareness and can play the field as Karthik does in those end overs.

So what can we learn from Dinesh Karthik? Always be self-aware, prepare for the worst, focus on the process, wear nice shirts, be yourself, adapt to the surroundings, be ready for the opportunity, and provide energy to others around you.

I would love to finish this article with a bang, but what can I say—The finisher is not yet finished.

The Stats

Test: 26 matches, 1025 runs, 25.00 average, best of 129, 100s/50s – 1/7, 57 catches, 6 stumpings

ODI: 94 matches, 1752 runs, 30.20 average, best of 79, 50s-9, 64 catches, 7 stumpings

T20I: 32 matches, 399 runs, 33.25 average, 143.52 SR, best of 48, 14 catches, 5 stumpings

T20: 321 matches, 6221 runs, 27.40 average, 133.55 SR, best of 97*, 193 catches, 61 stumpings

IPL & Dinesh Karthik’s Career In a Nutshell

  • 2004: ODI, Test debuts
  • 2004-05: Tests only
  • 2006: T20I debut, ODIs only
  • 2007: ODI World Cup, Test opener, T20I World Cup (winner), Syed Mushtaq Ali winners (captain)
  • 2008: 1 T20I, 3 Tests only, Delhi Daredevils
  • 2009-2010: Mostly ODIs, some T20Is, 1 Test, Delhi Daredevils
  • 2011: Kings XI Punjab
  • 2012: Mumbai Indians
  • 2013: ODIs only, Champions Trophy winner, Mumbai Indians (winners)
  • 2014: ODIs only, Delhi Daredevils
  • 2015: Royal Challengers Bangalore
  • 2016: Gujarat Lions
  • 2017: Champions Trophy, ODIs, Gujarat Lions
  • 2018: T20Is, Nidahas Trophy, Test recall, ODI #4 battle, Kolkata Knight Riders (captain)
  • 2019: T20Is, ODIs, ODI World Cup, dropped, Kolkata Knight Riders (captain)
  • 2020: Kolkata Knight Riders (captain, 7 matches)
  • 2021: Syed Mushtaq Ali winners (captain), Kolkata Knight Riders

Although he has had good time with his IPL franchises, his wish is to end his career with CSK. With an interview with Harsha Bhogle, he said

“The lead up to the [2008 auctions], Dinesh Karthik the person was convinced the best player from Tamil Nadu, the biggest name from Tamil Nadu playing for the country…definitely CSK were going to pick me. The question was whether they were going to make me captain or not….It was the biggest dagger to my heart. It’s been 13 years and I am still waiting for that elusive call from CSK”

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© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 10/01/2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

Dale Steyn, The Embodiment of Simplicity and Intensity, Retires—The Greatest Fast Bowler of Them All

Everyone loves Dale Steyn—Simply the Greatest.

Famous French fashion designer Coco Chanel professed that “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

Simplicity and Intensity were the hallmarks of Dale Steyn’s illustrious career—ever smiling character with a popping veins-chainsaw celebration, a smooth, silky action that delivered lethal bouncers, a humble down-to-earth character who assumed the mantle of being the greatest fast bowler of his generation.

Hence, it was true to his character that he hung up his boots via an understated tweet. He signed off with a snippet from the Counting Crows rock band and summed up the end as “bittersweet, but grateful…It’s been 20 years of training, matches, travel, wins, losses, strapped feet, jet lag, joy, and brotherhood.”

Table of Contents

  1. The Beginning
  2. Dale Steyn Stats – Strike Rate Like No Other
  3. Records
    1. Overall
    2. Individual
  4. Teams
  5. My Favorite Steyn Memory
  6. The Rise of Dale Steyn, Conqueror of All Conditions
    1. The King of Asia
  7. Steyn Vs AB De Villiers IPL
  8. The Injuries
  9. Climbing the Peak
  10. Who Is Dale Steyn, The Person?
    1. The Inspiration
    2. Other Interesting Steyn Facts
    3. The Match That Broke Dale Steyn
  11. The Downfall of the Great Era
    1. Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Rabada
  12. The Legacy of Dale Steyn
  13. Dale Steyn Vs Jimmy Anderson – Let Us Settle The Debate
  14. What Can We Learn From Dale Steyn?
    1. Life Lessons
  15. Dale Steyn Fast Bowling Videos
  16. Interested In Reading More Such Tributes? Check These Articles Below

The Beginning

Steyn was thrusted in the international arena after just seven first class games. He began his Test career on December 17, 2004 against England, debuting in the same match as the another-to-be legend, Abraham Benjamin de Villiers.

Both teams had great bowlers. On the opposite end—Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard, and Andrew Flintoff (formed the core of the great 2005 Ashes series), while South Africa had the dependable duo of Shaun Pollock & Makhaya Ntini.

Then arrived a 21-year old boy in iconic fashion, going through the gates of Marcus Trescothick and breaking a 152-run opening partnership. In the 43rd over. Full and straight. Slight movement. He screamed. Crowd erupted.

Usually, one brilliant delivery in a match is good enough. However, the ball from Steyn’s debut that is remembered is that Michael Vaughan ball in the second innings. Good length, outswing, beats the bat, off stump rooted. Perfection.

Although South Africa eventually lost that match, they found someone would would win them the decade.

Dale Steyn Stats – Strike Rate Like No Other

Before we jump into his best hits, let us look over some numbers really quick.

We tend to focus on batting strike rate much more due to T20 cricket and increasing run-rates, but to understand what set Steyn apart, we need to understand bowling strike rate. Bowling strike rate is the number of balls taken per dismissal on average. The lower, the better.

Matches Wickets Best Strike Rate Average 5-fers 10-fers
Test (Overall)934397/51 (Innings)
11/60 (Match)
42.3022.95265
Test (Asia)22927/51 (Innings)
10/108 (Match)
42.924.1151
Steyn in Tests

MatchesWicketsBestStrike RateAverage5-fersEconomy
ODI1251966/3931.9025.9534.87
T20I47644/915.8018.352 (4-fers)6.94
T202282634/919.2022.004 (4-fers)6.85
Steyn in ODIs and T20Is

To put this into perspective, for those with at least 100 Test wickets, Waqar Younis (43.4), Shoaib Akhtar, (45.7), and Allan Donald (47) are the only other contemporary fast bowlers who were close to Steyn’s SR. From an earlier era, Malcolm Marshall (46.7) was the best, while Kagiso Rabada (41.2), Anrich Nortje, and Pat Cummins (47.1) are in the race right now.

Records

Overall

  • (42.30) 6th Best Strike Rate of All-Time, 3rd Best post-World War I. Only Shane Bond (38.7) & fellow countrymen Kagiso Rabada (41.2) higher
  • 3rd Fastest to 400 wickets, and the joint-fastest fast bowler to this mark alongside Sir Richard Hadlee (80 matches)
  • Most Test Wickets for South Africa, surpassing Shaun Pollock’s 421 wickets.
  • 8th Highest Wicket-Taker of All-Time (Only Muralitharan, Warne, Anderson*, Kumble, McGrath, Broad, Walsh ahead. None had a strike rate below 51.9)

Individual

  • ICC Test Cricketer of the Year (2008)
  • ICC Test Team of the Decade (2020)
  • #1 Ranked ICC Test Bowler (2008-2014) – 78 wickets at 16.24 in the 2007/08 season.

Teams

International: South Africa, Africa XI

Domestic: Eersterust Cricket Club, Titans, Northerns, Cape Cobras

IPL: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad

Other T20 Leagues: Cape Town Blitz (Mzansi Super League), Melbourne Stars, Islamabad United, Quetta Gladiators, Kandy Tuskers

My Favorite Steyn Memory

My favorite aspect about Steyn was his action. Just a joy to watch. Anytime any format if Steyn is bowling, I would turn my TV on.

You see, the Shoaib Akthars and Lasith Malingas are legends in their own rights, but emulating their actions is a convoluted task. The two pace bowlers with almost perfect actions that I tried to imitate in gully cricket were Brett Lee and Dale Steyn. Uncomplicated yet effective.

To be perfectly honest, I do not remember his specific bowling figures from the top of my head. He has bowled so consistently over the decades that you only remember his iconic wickets or spells. More often than not he probably took a 4-fer or a 5-fer. Most times, I was scared for my favorite batter in the opposite camp, and that is the beauty of Dale Steyn—the ability to send shivers in the opposite camp but in an awe-inspiring, charming kind of manner.

The Rise of Dale Steyn, Conqueror of All Conditions

It would be difficult to go through all of his 29 5-fers, so let us talk about the greatest hits from Steyn’s career. Dropped after his early debut, he made a comeback. Against New Zealand, he would get his first five-fer in 2006.

He had memorable spells against England, Australia, and New Zealand. He took 5 wicket hauls in every condition and situation. Either with helpful seaming conditions or reverse swing.

He has literally taken a 5-fer against every country he played against.

Best Figures (Overall) Against This TeamBest Figures In This Country
Australia5/675/67
Bangladesh5/634/48
England5/515/56
India7/517/51
New Zealand6/493/49
Pakistan6/85/56
South Africa6/8
Sri Lanka5/545/54
U.A.E.4/98
West indies6/345/29
Zimbabwe5/465/46

The King of Asia

Steyn’s best figure was 7/51 at Nagpur in 2010, but it was his 5/23 in Ahmedabad (2008) that landed him in the lengdary fast bowling pantheon, when India were skittled out for 76 at home soil. His brilliant consistency in the 2008 series against India continued- 4/103 (Chennai), 5/23 & 3/91 (Ahmedabad), 3/71 (Kanpur).

In Sri Lanka, he lifted his game even more. 5/82 (2006), and beast mode in 2014 (5/54, 4/45, 2/69, 2/59). He even landed a 5/56 in Karachi (2007) and had a best innings of 4/48 in Bangladesh.

His best figures in South Africa was a miserly 6/8 when Pakistan were skittled for 49/10.

In limited overs, his record is decent as well although he did not play as many matches. 5 wickets in Nagpur against India in the 2011 World Cup, 4-0-17-4 figures while defending a thriller in the 2014 T20I World Cup, and a T20I economy of under-7 suggests he was a much better bowler than his T20 leagues returns suggest.

It would be grave injustice if I did not mention his batting. He was more than a useful down-the order player. Two Test fifties including a crucial 76 and a best of 60 in ODIs meant he was a better than a tailender, but not quite an all-rounder. Kemar Roach-esque batting abilities.

Steyn Vs AB De Villiers IPL

Another riveting memory is the 2012 IPL game between Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinawamy. 24 runs in one over. The inside out shot was the best of them all and even got a wry smile from Steyn in appreciationg of ABD’s class.

The brilliance of that passage of play was two players at the top of their games in a pressure situation and for once, Steyn had lost to his fellow countrymen.

Which phase of Dale Steyn was the most memorable or heartbreaking for you?

The Injuries

Another miraculous part of Steyn’s journey was his career of two halves—with respect to injuries.

Usually a fast bowler succumbs to an injury early in their career and comes back stronger, more well built (like Pat Cummins). An injury in the middle of the career means lowering the pace and focusing on line & length (like Munaf Patel). Another extreme is Brett Lee or Shane Bond (always injured, played cricket in between without compromising speed).

Steyn completely escaped this phase and never lost control, momentum, or pace. However, the law of averages came back to bite him at the end of his career.

Injury. Rehabilitation. Few games. Repeat.

  • 2013 (Groin Strain, Side Strain)
  • 2014 (Rib Fracture, 3 Hamstring Strains)
  • 2015 (Groin Strain)
  • 2015-16 (Shoulder Injury)
  • 2017 (Freak heel injury)
  • 2019 (Shoulder Injury) after being selected into the ODI World Cup squad

Climbing the Peak

Although his goal was to lift a trophy with South Africa, there was always a personal goal—to go one past Shaun Pollock. After numerous injuries, he got back up on his feet and on Boxing Day 2018, he took his 422nd wicket to become the leading wicket-taker for South Africa.

It was probably fate that Shaun Pollock would be commentating on that exact moment. Watch the video below to relieve that moment and all of his major milestone wickets till then.

After his shoulder injury again just before South Africa’s 2019 campaign started (and derailed), he announced on 5 August 2019 he would retire from Tests to focus on limited overs cricket. He ended at 439 after going past 400 in 2014.

Loss of form, pandemic, and postponement of the T20 World Cups meant it was time to retire in the other formats as well.

Steyn goes past Shaun Pollock, thereby becoming the highest wicket-taker for South Africa in Test cricket.

Who Is Dale Steyn, The Person?

Now that we know how good Steyn is as a bowler, let us get an insight on who the person he truly is—what really makes Dale Steyn kick. He has a life outside cricket, ya know? Thankfully, his interviews, especially this ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly interview with Nagraj Gollapudi, provides us a glimpse into his life.

Dale Steyn was born in the small town of Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province (borders Kruger National Park in South Africa). Maybe the natural environment around him had an effect of him since he became an out-doorsy kind of person. Skateboarding, surfing, and fishing are some of his favorite hobbies. He even flexed his acting muscles for a cameo role in a Drew Barrymore-Adam Sandler movie Blended.

The Inspiration

He is a natural athlete who competed at various sports from an early level. 100 meter sprints, long jump, triple jump, high jumps all prepared him for long spells of bowling in Test match arena. He wanted to be like “Allan Donald through the air, but I wanted to land the ball the way Polly landed.. I wanted to be a faster version of Shaun Pollock.

The best of both worlds.

Steyn said that the “difference between a good fast bowler and a brilliant fast bowler is the wickets column.” He always backed himself to take wickets regardless of the condition and taking 5-fers in every Test playing nation was one of his goals. Here is his collection of souvenir cricket balls.

In order to rise to this level, he has had a lot of support from his coaches, Chris van Noordwyk, Vinnie Barnes, Geoff Clarke, and captains, Graeme Smith, AB De Villiers, and Hashim Amla.

Other Interesting Steyn Facts

There were couple of other cool snippets in there as well. Keeping his cool against dropped catches, facing the Kohlis and de Villiers, altercation with Michael Clarke, Tests vs ODIs, Tendulkar Vs Donald, and video analysis & field settings.

A fun fact is that his full run up is 19 meters, 21 steps, which helps him avoid bowling no-balls. Why is this important? Well because he once took a wicket on a no-ball early in the innings, and it cost his team dearly. The batter was Kumar Sangakkara and the innings became famous for the record 624 partnership with Mahela Jayawardene.

(If you want to learn how Steyn learned about cricket in the first place, hear it from the man himself. Interesting story).

The Match That Broke Dale Steyn

It is time to talk about that World Cup semi-final. In Faf Du Plessis & AB De Villiers’ Friendship article, we spoke about the 2015 World Cup match.

Ian Smith on commentary. Grant Elliot. Superman. It hurt AB De Villers & Faf du Plessis. Definitely hurt Morne Morkel. Probably ended Vernon Philander’s career. We never saw Miller 1.0 again. The entire team. Devastated.

Now for a moment, let us put ourselves into Dale Steyn’s shoe. He dominated the world between 2008 and 2015. Responsibility for the last over of a World Cup semi-final rested on his shoulders (which would literally break a year later). South Africa’s history of collapses and chokes running in the background.

How must have it felt. Carrying the burden of the nation, the tag of the best fast bowler of the generation. One good ball, and you are in the legendary books. One bad ball, and you are scarred for life. Vettori squeezing a wide yorker, chaos in the field, overthrow chances. Steyn calm under pressure. Yet a half-volley in the small grounds of Auckland and Elliot did not miss his chance to glory.

Six. South Africa out. Steyn changed forever.

He reveals how he knew he was going to bowl the final over irrespective of Brendon McCullum’s expensive assault earlier in the innings. After all, he defended 7 runs in the 2014 T20 World Cup match against the same opposition. (He ended with 4-0-17-4 in Bangladesh. Wow). “This year was the hardest in dealing with that pain after the World Cup…We had our chances to win the game…Knowing that you have put four years’ hard work in, especially the last two years before the tournament, all you see is yourself holding the trophy. And then you don’t.”

The Downfall of the Great Era

With Steyn’s retirement, this is the close of one of the better chapters in South African cricket (Technically Faf and Tahir are still available for T20 World Cup selection, but have not been selected recently). All of them deserve a separate article.

Herschelle Gibbs was the architect of that 438 chase. Graeme Smith was the young leader who could bat with a broken hand. The pure class of Hashim Amla & AB De Villiers was unmatched. Faf’s leadership & resilience and once-in-a-generation-allrounder, Jacques Kallis, are often underrated. JP Duminy & Mark Boucher were the utility players every team needs for balance.

Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Rabada

Donald, Ntini, and Pollock passed on the baton to Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, and Kagiso Rabada—possibly the greatest line up (if only for just a few Tests). Philander’s swing made him the second fastest to 50 wickets, while Morne’s height and action bamboozled one and all. Rabada will soon form his leagacy of his own, and Imran Tahir was the energy boost South Africa required.

Together, they conquered teams overseas and became the No. 1 Test Team of the decade, the only ones to really challenge the great 2000s Australia team consistently and win away from home in the 2010s.

The future of South Africa lies with Quinton de Kock, Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Janneman Malan (100+ average in 9 ODIs by the way), Keshav Maharaj, and Tabraiz Shamsi. This is a pretty solid core, but it will take quite a few generations to reach the heights of Steyn’s South African team.

The Legacy of Dale Steyn

To answer this question, we must first ask ourselves what is great fast bowling?

Is it swinging it like Jimmy Anderson? Putting fear in the opposition’s heart like a Mitchell Johnson or Shoaib Akhtar? Delivering consistent line and lengths like Glenn McGrath & Shaun Pollock? Having a seamless action like Brett Lee? Bowling yorkers at will like a Mitchell Starc? Reverse swing like Waqar Younis?

Imagine all of these players. Package them into one. Add a tinge of humbleness with Sam Curran’s ability to make things happen. There you have it. Dale Steyn, the greatest Test pace bowler of all time.

The 1980s had Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, and the West Indies fast bowlers. The 1990s with was dominated by the Pakistan duo Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee all played stellar roles in this era as well. Steyn, Akhtar, and Lee a carried the baton to the next generation and made sure that “fast bowling is cool.” In the age of T20 cricket where sixes are hit on will, Steyn played his part in extending the beauty of pace bowling. The fact that Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje have arrived on the scene has to be credited to senior bowlers like Steyn & Morkel.

He ends that interview with, “The moment I feel I can’t contribute anymore I will not hang on. And if I fall just short of 100 Test matches or five short of 500 Test wickets, that’s fine.”

Unfortunately, that his how it ended. 7 short of a 100 Tests and 61 short of 500 wickets. Legendary career nevertheless.

Dale Steyn Vs Jimmy Anderson – Let Us Settle The Debate

Both Anderson and Steyn are in awe of each other. Steyn describes Anderson as “a more skillful bowler…I am a fan,” in Sky Sports’ Lockdown special, while Anderson’s tribute tweet to his retirement was that Steyn was “The Best.”

Every generation, there are three to five great fast bowlers but maybe one all-time great. We should be grateful we had two. Jimmy Anderson, the greatest swing bowler in the history of Test cricket and Dale Steyn, the greatest pace bowler of all-time.

Let us appreciate both and cheer on Jimmy Anderson in whatever time he has left.

What Can We Learn From Dale Steyn?

Being at the top for over a decade requires immense discipline and fitness levels.

It is one thing to be a great fast bowler. Another to comeback with the same intensity. Not once, not twice. But thrice. My heart sank when his freak heel injury occurred, a sign that the end was near.

I just wanted him to bowl some more. Another Test. Just another spell. Maybe one more over.

Every good thing comes to an end, and so does his magnificent career. I am sure he will continue to inspire athletes around the world and mentor fast bowlers like he did in his career. We will all miss watching Dale Steyn dominate the best batting attacks around the world. I will miss that anger, speed, cartwheeling stumps, celebration, and of course, the action.

Life Lessons

Kids, if you are reading this and want to make a sports person your idol, there is no one better than the great Dale Steyn. So what can we learn from Dale Steyn?

Give it your all on the field and be a decent human being off it. Steyn might have shown plenty of emotions in intense situations, but outside the cricket ground, he is a super chill dude who likes to fish and stay away from conflict.

The truth is that being gifted alone cannot make you great. Simplicity. Honesty. Hard work. Discipline. Consistency. Longevity. Adaptability. You need all characteristics to work in sync.

Steyn was gifted. Not everyone can bowl at such high pace. If you are talented in a particular area and enjoy doing it, you should pursue it further. In order to convert the potential into actual realization, persevere and power through.

You will eventually find your away. Just like a Steyn outswinger that beat the bat and rattled the top of off stump.

Dale Steyn Fast Bowling Videos

  1. What the Aussies Think of Dale Steyn
  2. Steyn Vs David Warner-World’s Most Curious Battle
  3. 6 Wickets Durban Vs India (2010)
  4. Bowleds, Beats, and Bouncers

Interested In Reading More Such Tributes? Check These Articles Below

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 09/03/2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

Ross Taylor, An Underrated Cricketer Who Was A Giant Among New Zealand’s Greatest Generation

Today I want to reflect upon the career of one of my all-time favorite players, Ross Taylor. We will discuss it all—the achievements, the struggles, my favorite memories, and ultimately what we can learn from him.

But you ask, why am I talking about Ross Taylor all of a sudden?

Well for once, he has been in the news recently.

Ross Taylor still has a few years of international cricket left in him, but these events just highlight that the ending is closer rather than later.

It is the beginning of the end for the greatest Kiwi generation.

Also Read: Who Are the Most Underrated Cricketers?

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New Zealand Cricket’s Greatest Generation

New Zealand cricket is now a powerhouse. Across the three formats, their record is spectacular:

  1. Semi-finalists: 2007 & 2011 ODI World Cup; 2007 & 2016 T20 World Cups
  2. Runners-Up: 2009 Champions Trophy; 2015 & 2019 ODI World Cup finals
  3. Finalists: Inaugural World Test Championship Final

This is surely New Zealand’s greatest cricketing generation, and great teams are built upon the contributions of exceptional individuals.

Post the Martin Crowe era, New Zealand’s performances were inconsistent until the Stephen Fleming generation. With a side consisting of Fleming, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, and the feisty Brendon McCullum, the Black Caps began to generate consistent performances.

Fast forward fifteen years, New Zealand have transformed from a team that ‘perennially punches-above-their-weight’ to serious ‘contenders.’

The Brendon McCullum-Kane Williamson generation has unearthed heroes like ODI double centurion Martin Guptill, superman Grant Elliot, American-bound Corey Anderson, steadiness of Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls, the all-round power of Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, & the Mitchells (Daryll and Santner), spin-guile of Ish Sodhi, and the depth with incoming youngsters like Conway-Phillips-Will Young-Tim Seifert-Tom Blundell.

From the land of dibbly-dobblies to the genuine pace regime consisting of Southee-Boult-Henry-Jamieson-Wagner-Ferguson-Milne, the transformation is complete.

One man was a constant that connected the Fleming and Williamson generations. From the promising youngster in 2006 to the calm senior in 2021, across 4 ODI World Cups, he has seen it all. The name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, the second cricketer of Samoan descent to play for New Zealand.

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The Stats – The Best #4 ODI Batsman of All-Time

When things are all said and done, Taylor will go down as the best #4 ODI batsman of all time.

InningsRunsBestAverageSR10050+
#4 (ODIs)1797664181*52.1383.471965
Ross Taylor at #4

To put this in perspective, at #4, Taylor has the (1) most runs, (2) most centuries, (3) most 50+ scores, (4) second highest individual score after Vivian Richards’ 189*, and (5) second highest average after AB De Villiers of course (with at least 100 ODIs).

His international career as a whole is not that bad either.

MatchesRunsBestAverageSR100s50s
Tests105737929045.8359.801934
ODIs2338581181*48.2082.412151
T20Is10219096326.15122.3707
Ross Taylor’s career stats

Taylor’s career can be broken down into three phases—(1) swashbuckling slog-sweeper, (2) responsible middle order batsman, (3) and absolute world dominator.

His averages between 2017-2020: 60.50, 91.28, 55.47, 99.00. 6 hundreds, 19 fifties. Brilliant.

Ross Taylor Records In a Nutshell

Overall

  • 1st cricketer to play 100+ matches in each international format.
  • 3rd most catches combined (340) behind only Mahela Jayawardene & Ricky Ponting

New Zealand

  • Most capped player (440) for New Zealand across formats
  • Highest run scorer, most hundreds, and most fifties for New Zealand in ODIs
  • Highest run scorer in Tests, second most hundreds after Kane Williamson

Individual

  • 3 double centuries in Tests
  • 3 consecutive ODI centuries – 112* Vs India, 102 Vs India, 105* Vs Pakistan (2014)
  • 6 consecutive ODI fifties – 181*, 80, 86*, 54, 90, 137 (2018-19) Vs England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
  • 5 ODI centuries Vs England

New Zealand Cricket Awards

  • Sir Richard Hadlee Award: 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2019-2020
  • ODI Player of the Year: 2010-11, 2013-14, 2017-18, 2018-19
  • Test Player of the Year: 2012-13, 2013-14
  • T20I Player of the Year: 2019-2020
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The Beginning

He burst onto the scene in 2006, scoring an unbeaten 128 against Sri Lanka in only his 3rd ODI. He debuted in Test cricket a year later and found success in 2008 against his favorite opponent, England. Taylor would score 120 in Hamilton against them and 154* at Manchester later in the year.

My First Memory

My first memory of Ross Taylor was in that magnificent 2006-07 series vs Australia, one of the best ODI series of that era. The Kiwis whitewashed Australia 3-0 scoring 340 & 350 respectively in successful chases. These were the days where chasing 270 was considered a difficult task.

Taylor was the architect of the 2nd ODI, scoring 117 to go along with a brilliant diving catch at Eden Park.

Early IPL Career

Next came IPL 2009. I was already a fan of the 2009 RCB team – stalwarts Rahul Dravid & Anil Kumble, Robin Uthappa, and youngsters Manish Pandey & Virat Kohli. Finisher Ross Taylor just took RCB to the next level, one of their key players taking Royal Challengers Bangalore to their first final.

His best IPL innings was the 81*(33) Royal Challengers Bangalore Vs Kolkata Knight Riders. Coincidentally, Taylor’s 81* overpowered countrymen Brendon McCullum’s 84*.

At the halfway stage, the required rate hovered around 11. What came next was pure genius. With 52 needed off 24, Taylor unleashed five slog-sweeping sixes against the likes of fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. RCB won by 4 balls to spare. He would play a couple of more cameos in 2009, including a player of the match performance in the Champions League.

In the next few seasons, Taylor would play steady knocks for Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, but his T20 form never reached the heights of that 2009 season again.

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Best Moments

Birthday Special – 2011 Cricket World Cup

One of Taylor’s sweetest moments came on his 27th birthday in the 2011 Cricket World Cup at Pallekele, when Kamran Akmal’s dropped catches and an array of full tosses literally gifted him a memorable birthday present.

He would make the most of this opportunity. After slowly rebuilding to 69* (108), what followed was carnage. He ended up scoring 131* (124) with 7 sixes. Carving away off-side yorkers, slogging leg-sided deliveries into the stand, and thrashing Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq, and Shahid Afridi, this was Taylor at his best. In the last six overs, NZ scored 114 and gave Pakistan their only loss of the group stage.

Apart from that mild altercation with the South African team in the quarterfinals, it was a pretty decent tournament for the Kiwis.

A Double Century To Remember

Taylor was going through a lean patch in 2014-2015. Although he had a few 30s and 40s, questions were being asked on his place in the Test squad. On a flat track in Perth (when does that ever happen?), Taylor made the most of his opportunities, scoring a brilliant 290 & 36* with a 265-run partnership with Kane Williamson. That would be the end of Mitchell Johnson’s career.

Best Innings

Ross Taylor saved his best (thus far) against England at Dunedin in 2018. Chasing 336, New Zealand were reduced to 2-2 in 3 overs. Then he mastered a chase….on one leg.

That’s right.

When Taylor was 107, he ran for a two and dove to reach the crease in time. In the process, he injured himself. New Zealand still needed 116 from 13 overs. Since he could not run twos, for the last ten overs it was all stand-and-deliver stuff. The fact that he stayed in and remained unbeaten just blows my mind.

With healthy support from Williamson, de Grandhomme, and Henry Nicholls as well as a 187-run partnership with Tom Latham, NZ’s third highest successful run chase (after that 2006-07 Australia series) was complete. Following tradition, it was a day before his 34th birthday.

Here are some of the commentary clips from Taylor’s innings. Just dominated all across the park.

Pull over long leg… Swung over long on… Flicked… Slaps it to point boundary…Swats it powerfully…Beats deep square… Carts it over deep mid-wicket… Over backward point… Beats third man… Conventional sweep… Through extra cover! Out of the ground.

Definitely a candidate for the best ODI innings in a chase of all-time. Epic.

My favorite Taylor innings by far.

India Vs New Zealand 2019

One criticism of this New Zealand generation is not being able to lift the elusive trophy after seven ICC knockouts opportunities in the last 15 years.

Taylor himself had not played a match defining innings in a high-profile game apart from a few steady 40s here and there (I believed in the 2015 World Cup Final when Elliot-Taylor had ‘rescued’ NZ to 150 in 35 overs. In came James Faulkner for the final powerplay, dismissed Taylor off the first ball, and took the game away. Dreams crushed.)

In the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final, he finally came to the party. 74 (90) might not seem too much, but in the context of a slow pitch & disciplined bowling attacks, this was a precious little innings, keeping NZ’s middle order together.

Unfortunate that his innings ended with a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja, but by then, NZ had pushed to a competitive total.

A Word On the Williamson-Taylor Partnership

Speaking of run-outs, Kane Williamson & Ross Taylor. The best number #3-4 pair of the decade, but not so good between the wickets.

With the exception of McCullum-Guptill, New Zealand have often rotated through their openers resulting in frequent top-order collapses and slow starts. This brings in Taylor and Williamson in the game to do what they do best—read the situation, soak in the pressure, nudge it for singles and doubles, dab down to third man, flick it off the hip.

Next thing you know, the innings is halfway done, wickets are in hand, and the acceleration has begun. Standard Williamson-Taylor template.

The thing is they seem to do it over and over….and over…again. Astonishing consistency.

The Struggles

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Captaincy

At the peak of his batting form, Ross Taylor was handed captaincy after an interview process, narrowly edging out Brendon McCullum. His two year tenure ended unceremoniously. Post a disastrous 2012 T20 World Cup and a tour of Sri Lanka, Taylor was sacked unceremoniously as captain from all three formats, without proper communication, especially from coach Mike Hesson. Putting this aside, he fought through and scored 142 & 74 against Sri Lanka.

He took a break from the game and skipped the subsequent tour of South Africa. New Zealand folded for 45 against Steyn-Philander-Morne Morkel and lost the first test by an innings and 27 runs. This match would be the catalyst for McCullum to compete in an ultra aggressive approach that catapulted them to the 2015 World Cup final. Taylor was selected back into the side as the trio put their differences aside.

However, as McCullum writes in his book Declared, the incident “gouged a rift between us that will probably never heal.” Taylor himself states that the top job probably “came a couple of years before I was ready.”

Eye Surgery

The 290 at the WACA is special, but you know what is more special? Scoring that many runs against the pace of Josh Hazlewood & the Mitchells—Johnson, Starc, Marsh without a functioning eye.

He had to have a surgery in 2016 to remove the pterygium in his eye. This probably gave him that extra bit of timing that sparked the second wind in his career and elongated his career.

Martin Crowe

Apart from being a Black Cap legend and a critical thinker of the game, Martin Crowe was a mentor to the current crop of players in the New Zealand side, especially Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor. Crowe lost a tough battle with cancer in 2016, which impacted them both tremendously. After Taylor went past Crowe’s all-time Test record and closed in on his 100th test, Taylor could not hold his tears back in a press conference.

In his own words, Crowe was “New Zealand’s best ever Test batsman, best ever cricketing brain, a genius, and someone that inspired thousands of Kiwis and thousands of people overseas as well.”

End of his T20 career?

Ross Taylor was dropped from the T20I squad last year due to scintillating performances from Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips. He needs to re-invent his T20 game if he has any chance of resurrecting his T20I career. Since the upcoming T20 World Cup allows a squad of 23, I think he might just find a place.

What We Can Learn From Ross Taylor & the New Zealand team?

New Zealand Cricket Team: Camaraderie & Team Spirit Galore

Why are the Kiwis everybody’s second favorite team? Is it just because of the 2019 World Cup Final and the obsession with captain Kane Williamson’s smile? Umm…maybe.

Or is it because of the talent among the group? Possibly. Maybe it is due to the aggressive approach installed by McCullum’s captaincy? Maybe, maybe not.

Above all, I believe it is the due to the camaraderie between the players in the New Zealand team. Although Kane Williamson is the star of the team, he acts just like a core member and nothing more. Tim Southee is happy to relinquish his place for in-form Matt Henry and instead take diving catches as a substitute fielder. BJ Watling is going out but has given his complete support to Tom Blundell, the next in line.

This is exactly what this New Zealand team is all about. Actually, this is what sport is about. Give it your all, play aggressively on the field, respect the opposition, live & die for each member of your team.

This quote below encapsulates the dynamic within the Black Caps unit.

Legendary NBA coach for the Chicago Bulls & Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual player. The strength of each member is the team.”

Source: 40 Awesome Team Player Quotes for Tomorrow’s Leader – Quotes Muse

Ross Taylor’s Legacy: Stable, Steady, Responsible

One of the most popular cricketing social media question is, “Is Ross Taylor the most underrated batsman of our era?” First of all, I am not a huge fan of these pointless clichés like ‘underrated,’ overrated,’ ‘unluckiest,’ etc., etc.

Anyway, in my books, Taylor will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady actually does win you the race.

Will Ross Taylor be remembered as talented as Sir Vivian Richards or the recently retired with confirmation, AB De Villiers? Was he as technically adept as Williamson and the Fab 5? Did he have the exquisite timing of Hashim Amla or the free-flowing nature of Mohammad Yousuf?

It all depends on your point of view, but one thing is for certain—Taylor is the glue that kept New Zealand together for so many years.

What can you learn from his life and apply to yours?

  • Dependability – In case of a crisis, you could always depend on Ross Taylor. It might not pay off every time, but he had the uncanny ability of turning gloomy situations into positive ones. Not only as a batsman, his role as a trusted slip fielder as well.

Be dependable. Regardless of what is going around on you, internally or externally, try to weather the storm. Once you overcome the obstacle, lend out a hand and help someone else out in need.

  • Balance – Once Taylor rescued NZ from precarious situation, he knew when to accelerate and who to turn the strike to.

Be self-aware. Known your limitations and balance your life accordingly. Too much of anything is harmful. Learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

  • Responsibility – Taylor curbed his natural gameplay and transformed from a slogger to an accumulator to suit his side’s needs. In order to accommodate the firepower at the top & the lower order, somebody needed to take the responsibility and be that insurance policy.

Be responsible. Sometimes giving up your own personal comfort for others around you is the way to go. Follow your dreams, but also combine it with a slight dose of practicality.

There is probably no better match than Ross Taylor & the New Zealand cricket team, or shall I say they are tailor-made for each other (bad joke, sorry 😅). His responsible character gelled perfectly into the team spirit.

What will I remember the most? The tongue celebration, his bent stance, hard bottom-hand grip, the slog sweeps, and the numerous partnerships, and the calm demeanor.

I will leave you with a smiling picture of Ross Taylor. Because why not.

Embed from Getty Images

Ross Taylor Videos

  1. 181* Vs England

2. 290 Vs Australia (WACA)

3. Ross Taylor Vs Pakistan (2011 Cricket World Cup)

3. Leg Side Sixes

4. 25 Questions With Ross Taylor (ESPN Cricinfo)

5. Fastest Century by a BLACKCAP (until Brendon McCullum 2016) – 81 ball century vs Australia (2010)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Who Is the best player in New Zealand?

When things are all said and done, Kane Williamson will probably be regarded as the greatest New Zealand batsman of all time.
Yet, for New Zealand cricket to get to this point, players like Martin Crowe, Ross Taylor, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, and Brendon McCullum, have played their parts.Photo of Ross Taylor, New Zealand's great cricketer

How Good is the New Zealand Cricket Team?

Ranked #1 in ODIs, #2 in Tests, and #3 in T20Is according to the latest ICC rankings (2021), the New Zealand cricket team is definitely one of the best going around. The fact that they have qualified for 8 different semi-finals or finals in the last 15 years across the formats makes this generation of New Zealand team one of their bests ever.

Is Ross Taylor an Underrated Cricketer?

Ross Taylor is one of the unsung heroes of New Zealand cricket, but he will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady does actually win you the race.

What makes Ross Taylor such a special cricketer?

Taylor’s ability to read the situation makes him such a special cricketer. Knows exactly when to attack and when to soak in the pressure.

What was Taylor’s highest score in one day cricket?

Taylor’s highest score is 181* in a run-chase in Dunedin (2018) against England.
Second highest score in a successful run chase.

What is Ross Taylor’s Birthday?

Ross Taylor was born on March 8th, 1984 (8/27/1984).

Why does Ross Taylor stick his tongue out when he scores a century?

Taylor’s unique celebration can be credited to his daughter, Mackenzie. It is a tradition that started during his ODI hundred against Australia in 2007 and “made her happy.” He continues his famous tongue-poking celebration to this day and even passed on the tradition to his son, Jonty.

Tribute to Other Cricket Legends

Thank you all for reading! Really appreciate it.

If you like these stories about cricket legends, check these some of my earlier featured articles below:

  1. Rahul Dravid: What Rahul Dravid Taught Me?
  2. MS Dhoni & SK Raina: Retirement: An End of an Era
  3. Shakib-Rahim-Iqbal-Mortaza-Mahmudullah: Why Shakib And Co Are the True Fab 5 of this Era?
  4. Lasith Malinga: The Slinga, Slayer, and Superstar
  5. Ellyse Perry: What Can Ellyse Perry Not do?
  6. Dean Jones: A Celebration of Life
  7. AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis: Can Faf Fulfill the Broken Dream of ABD?
  8. Umar Gul: The Magician With the Yorker
  9. Sam Curran: Why the World Needs Same Curran: Calm, Charismatic, Courageous
  10. Joe Denly & Joe Biden: The Importance of Being Joe
  11. Nicholas Pooran: A Story of Pain, Hope, & Inspiration: The Next Big Thing of West Indies & World Cricket

5/18/2021Copyright – @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Ross TaylorChubby Chandru, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons