Reflections of Passion by Yanni, what a beautiful composition. One of my all-time favorite pieces.
It evokes a variety of emotions, all at the same time. The music is playful, yet somber. Soothing, yet powerful. Beneath the passion and the joy, lies a subtle dose of grief and tension.
What is passion in the first place? According to Dictionary.com, passion is a
Strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.
Passion comes in all shapes and forms—it could be romantic, could be ambition to be the best and break barriers, or just a willingness to improve and prove to yourself that you are worth it.
Wait, wait, wait. You would be thinking, where or why is the cricket gone? Why am I talking about music and philosophy all of a sudden? Isn’t this IPL season?
Well, lately I have been reflecting about the relationship between a fan and the professional. Cricket is a game filled with passion – the fans, the players, and the administrators alike. The vision of a fan differs vastly from how the sportsperson plays his or her game.
Now, the idea of my own last article perturbed me a bit.
According to a fan’s point of view, we would like to have seen the journey of a few cricketers longer than they lasted, but do they see themselves as unlucky? I am not so sure.
We all want to be part of something greater than we are. Hence, we invest ourselves in the sport. Although the fans are part of the crowd, we want to be in the game, and we live our dreams through the players themselves. If our own favorite player does not play well, we feel bad ourselves deep down inside, as if we had failed.
So are we not being harsh on the player when calling them unlucky or criticizing them?
Anyway, the philosophy can wait for a little while. Stay tuned for the What Can We Learn? from these so-called unlucky cricketers section at the end of the article below.
Audience Poll Results – Top 3 Unluckiest
Before we jump into the moral of the story, here are the actual results of the poll we did on who our viewers thought were the unluckiest cricketers of the last few decades.
Honorable Mentions : Mohammad Ashraful, Shane Bond, Brad Hogg
Others: Alex Hales, Lendl Simmons, James Taylor, Hansie Cronje, Sreesanth
2. Test: Washed Out XI
Honorable Mention: Adam Voges
Others: Marcus Trescothick, Mark Ramprakash, Fawad Alam, Prasanna Jayawardene, Simon Harmer, Duanne Olivier, Stuart MacGill, Lasith Malinga
3. Twitter Poll
Where Are They Now?
While Fawad Alam finally made a hard fought comeback and players like Alex Hales, Mohammad Amir, and Lendl Simmons are still fighting for a spot in their national squads, we look back at how some of the former international cricketers are inspiring the next generation.
I. Marcus Trescothick and James Taylor
Marcus Trescothick was on track to be one of the all-time greatest openers and the best English batsman ever produced before he had to stop playing international cricket due to mental illness during the prime of his career.
What he did after his international career is itself awe-inspiring. He continued playing first class cricket for Somerset till the age of 43 and has been open in talking about his struggles, most prominently with his autobiography, Coming Back to Me. Lately, several cricketers like Jonathan Trott and Glenn Maxwell have come out in public with mental struggle of an international career, but it may not have been possible had Trescothick not paved the way.
James Tayor has also had a similar story. Talented young English cricketer but had to retire at the age of 26 because of a serious heart condition.
Did this stop Taylor from doing what he loves most? No, instead he carried on and stayed close to the game with the goal of giving back to English cricket. He is now a full-time selector and is frequently seen in the stands supporting the England cricket team. He also wrote an inspirational auto-biography, Cut Short.
II. Shane Bond, Mohammad Kaif, and Prasanna Jayawardene
Although Shane Bond’s career halted because of recurring injuries, he is having as much impact as a bowling coach now as he did when he was a fast-bowler for New Zealand. Most prominently, he was the bowling coach of NZ between 2012-2015, the period that saw the growth of this team especially mentoring Trent Boult and Tim Southee.Has also coached Mumbai Indians and Sydney Thunder.
Mohammad Kaif joined the Gujarat Lions assistant coach staff in 2017 (under coach Brad Hodge, another name on our list)and is now the assistant coach of Delhi Capitals under coach Ricky Ponting (they are doing quite well if you have not noticed). As one of the best fielders India produced, one of his areas of focus is to actively promote fitness.
Finally Prasanna Jayawardene, regarded as the best wicketkeeper of Sri Lanka, was recently hired by England as a wicket-keeping coach apart from coaching in Sri Lanka.
III. Brad Hogg and Robin Uthappa
Both Brad Hogg and Robin Uthappa have invested there post-cricketing careers in media and broadcasting like several other players. Although Uthappa is currently representing Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, he has already done a few shows at Cricbuzz. Another way Robin Uthappa has been contributing is mentoring and supporting school-age cricketers.
Brad Hogg is one of the more familiar faces in commentary recently with stints in the IPL, Big Bash, and all over the place. Just look at his Linkedin.
So, What Can We Learn?
This was just a small list we picked from. There are numerous such unsung heroes in our sport.
So looking back, were these cricketers really unlucky? Did they really disappoint? On the contrary, their journey has been just as valuable as someone who has played a 100 Tests.
They may be regarded as “unlucky” in their own cricketing careers for one reason or another, but they may become the source of inspiration, the hand of the support, the “lucky” person someone else needs.
We know the scientific axiom that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed. Similarly, passion never dies. The love of the game just transforms.
You can take a cricketer out of cricket, but can never take out cricket from a cricketer. Even if Kaif can inspire one person to live a more fit lifestyle or if Bond discovers the next fast bowler, they have still contributed to the game immensely.
Ups and Downs, success and failure will occur. That is just natural.
The important thing is to remain not-outand go to the next part of the journey.
So you should never give up and keep whatever you are doing. Just stay in the game.
The journey is more important than the destination. Regardless of what happens out there in the middle, the fact that they have given their all is what matters. I hope all these players keep on contributing to world of cricket in one form or the other and continue their journey.
They have all inspired me. Even if you inspire one person, it has been a journey worth living. After all is said and done, with all your shattered and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world out there.
Image Courtesy: Mark Ramprakash – Onewhohelps at English Wikipedia / via CC 3.0; Mohammad Ashraful – Nurunnaby Chowdhury (Hasive) / CC BY-SA 4.0; Stuart MacGill – paddynapper / CC BY-SA 2.0; Yanni / CC BY-SA 2.0; Alex Hales – Amal316 / CC BY-SA 4.0; Shane Bond – Benchill / CC BY-SA 3.0; Marcus Trescothick – SGGH at English Wikipedia / Public domain;
We will continue our theme of Broken Dreams this week with a list of unfortunate or unlucky cricketers.
We present our list of Unlucky World XI belowand let us know who you think have been the unluckiest of them all.
Some of these careers were ruined by inconsistency or career-ending-injury, others by controversy and politics, and while the rest suffered plain old bad-luck—the fact that they could not break it into the golden generations.
Today’s Twist – Unlucky Cricketers XI
Create a World XI with the following constraints:
Played within the last 25 years
Should have debuted (various first class legends like Alan Jones (Eng) and Amol Muzumdar (Ind) did not even make their international team)
The team can field an actual playing XI in a match (so we are looking for balance, with wicket-keepers necessary and at least 5 bowling options).
Each country can have a maximum of only 2 players per category.
Australia’s squad of the 2000s had so many greats that several careers did not see the light of day. For example, Adam Gilchrist played 96 tests without missing one. Does anyone even remember who the back-up keeper during Australia’s early 2000 era was?
Similarly, with India’s recent growth, one could name players like Vinod Kambli, Subramanian Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, and even someone like Ambati Rayudu more recently. If you can only choose two from each country, who would it be?
Comment below on who you think are some of the unluckiest cricketers?
ODI – Faded XI
Alex Hales: (Behavior issues)
Catalyst of England’s ODI batting culture change, individually scored 171 within 36 overs (highest English score at that time), dropped before the 2019 World Cup because of failed drug test, ‘loss of trust’ with team, and strained relationship with captain Eoin Morgan.
2. Lendl Simmons: (Inconsistency)
If you saw the recent CPL 2020, Simmons was in some top-notch form including the final. Watching his innings’ like the one against India in the 2016 WT20 semi-final and you wonder sometimes, what could have been had he been more consistent. 15 year career, just 8 tests and 68 ODIs is a poor reflection of his abilities.
3. Mohammad Ashraful: (Match-Fixing)
A bright star for Bangladesh. Youngest Test centurion at 17, century that upset the Aussies in 2005, but a career that was marred by inconsistency and will be forever remembered by spot-fixing in the BPL. Could have been among the Fab Five generation for Bangladesh.
4. Brad Hodge: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
17,000 first class runs, 80 centuries in first class/list-A, 6 Tests, 203* best, 55.88 average, and one of the first T20 league superstars. Obstacles: Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds.
5. James Taylor: (Heart Condition)
Debut at 22. Retirement at 26 due to heart condition. Was an upcoming England Talent – 1-100, 7 50s, 42.23 average. Now an English selector.
6. Robin Uthappa: (Inconsistency)
If you saw Uthappa’s 86 against England, or in the World T20 2007, or walking and hitting sixes to Mitchell Johnson, you would have thought he would have a long career. Yet another victim to inconsistency, came back in 2014-15 after a great domestic season but not given enough chances. Still a KKR and RCB star in the IPL.
7. Hansie Cronje: (Match-Fixing)
Great captain from South Africa and decent all-rounder, match-fixing killed his career in the 2000 Ind-SA series when he was at the peak of his powers. Passed away in 2002 due to a plane crash. RIP.
8. Neil Johnson: (Politics)
If you saw Neil Johnson in the 1999 World Cup, you knew he was bound for greatness. 3 Man-of-Match trophies in that world cup, dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket resulted in premature retirement as he moved back to South Africa.
9. Brad Hogg: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
Just like Hodge, another victim of Australia’s great era. In an international career lasting 12 years, only played 7 tests and 123 ODIs. Inspirational comeback later with T20 cricket and leagues such as IPL and the Big Bash, he played his last professional match almost till he was 47.
10. S. Sreesanth: (Match-Fixing)
Although known for off-field issues, he was a marvelous fast bowler for India. His delivery that made that great Jacques Kallis jump is one to remember. However, he was banned after the 2013 IPL spot-fixing controversy with Rajasthan. Made a comeback with…reality TV show, Bigg Boss.
11. Shane Bond: (Injuries)
You often hear Shoaib Akhtar vs Brett Lee, but another name that should have been added was Shane Bond. Fast and accurate, 147 wickets at 20.88 in ODIs and 87 wickets at 22.09 in Tests. Played only 82 ODIs and 18 Tests, but never comprised his speed despite the injuries.
Test – Washed Out XI
Marcus Trescothick: (Mental Illness)
First open victim of mental illness in cricket. More than 10,000 runs and 26 centuries across formats, he played his last game at the age of 30, only 6 years in international cricket. Was a stalwart at Somerset till 43 with overall record of 38000 runs and 94 centuries. Paved way for Alastair Cook, otherwise would have been the all-time best England opener himself.
Mark Ramprakash: (Inconsistency)
Similar story, different reason. Over 52 test matches and 11 years, could not cement his place in the England team. Retired with 35,659 first class runs along with 114 centuries. Wow.
3. Mohammad Kaif: (Inconsistency and Politics)
Forever remember for his fielding and 88* Natwest chase that gave India a belief of winning and chasing overseas, his career never took off. First U-19 winning captain to play for India, he made his highest test score 148* in the West Indies in his second to last test, which came at the age of 26. Dropped as a result of chopping and changing under Greg Chappell right before the 2007 World Cup.
4. Adam Voges: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
Same scenario as Hodge and Hogg, but with a better ending. Finally debuted at the age of 35, and ended with 5 hundreds and a record-breaking average of 61.87.
5. Fawad Alam: (Politics)
Well well well, we are finally here. Made a memorable 168 on debut, yet only featured in 3 tests. Mohammad Amir is a career some would regret about, but by the time Amir had his great spell in 2010, the spot-fixing scandal, the 5-year ban, the comeback, the Champions Trophy 2017 performance, and test retirement at the age of 27, Fawad Alam had added exactly 0 Tests from 2009.
After toiling in first class cricket with 34 centuries and average of 56.35 and after numerous selection committees, he finally got a recall after 10 years, only to be given out by DRS due to 2 umpire-calls. Add to that English rain, which limited his chances in the next two tests. How unlucky can one get?
6. Prasanna Jayawardene: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
Thilan Samaraweera stated recently in his Sri Lanka XI that “Prasanna was the best wicketkeeper Sri Lanka ever produced,” and he did play 58 Test matches. So why is he here? Well, his career was always a stop-gap measure due to Sangakkara. Even cricinfo reads that his career was ‘marginalised since the rocket-fuelled arrival’ of Sangakkara.
Self-acclaimed ‘best off-spinner in the world,’ he regularly employees his service for Essex, forgoing his chance to play for South Africa again (at least until we know how Brexit impacts Kolpak). Has taken 636 wickets at 27.17 with 37 5-fors and 7 10-fors. Not too bad.
8. Mohammad Amir: (Match-Fixing)
See Fawad Alam (5).
*Note: (Honorable Mention) Could also have added Mohammad Asif for the same reason here. One of the best swing bowlers of all-time.
9. Stuart McGill: (Sorry, out of luck)
Same reason as the rest of the Aussies here with the additional fact that he also played under the shadow of the great Shane Warne. Still managed to play 44 Tests and took 208 wickets at a strike rate of 54.0. Cricinfo said it best, “Stuart MacGill had the best strike-rate and worst luck of any modern spin bowler.”
Another casualty of the Kolpak. What makes this worse is his brilliant start to international cricket. Played just 10 tests, 48 wickets, 3 5-fors and a player of the series award with 24 wickets. Then he left South Africa. Also had replaced Kyle Abbott, who had also signed Kolpak deal. Rub salt in the wound there.
11. Simon Jones: (Injury)
We have all heard this one. The 2005 Ashes Series was made memorable by some bowling spells by Simon Jones. At the end of the series, suffered an ankle injury, never to make an international comeback.
Honorable Mention: Lasith Malinga (great limited overs bowler but had to cut his Test career short).
3 centuries in Tests and an-up-and-coming opener for Australia, a bouncer in a domestic game took Hughes’ life. Shock to the cricketing world, brought about a revolution on concussion and brain-injuries.
RIP Phil Hughes.
Well, these were our list of unlucky cricket teams. What is yours?
COMMENT below on who you think we missed out! Do not forget to SUBSCRIBE, SHARE, AND FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!