Monday June 17, 2024

Legends of Cricket

By Omair Alavi
November 24, 2019

Cricket maybe the oldest team sport in the world, but every team needs a player who could take the lead, and achieve the impossible. Legends of Cricket written by Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb talks about individuals who were instrumental in their team’s victories, and knew how to make their bat, ball or glove, talk. They might not be the best 50 Cricketers of all time, but they are the most respected players to don whites for their countries.

Unlike other cricket books in the market, Legends of Cricket talks about real legends, cricketers who made a difference with their performances, their presence, and also their absence. Their team did well when they were in form, and it didn’t do well when they were not enjoying success. Although it missed many cricketers such as Javed Miandad from Pakistan, Martin Crowe from New Zealand and the dynamic duo of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, it does mention many of their predecessors, and contemporaries. There are four Pakistanis in this list of 50 Legend Cricketers of the World: Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are present. And if there are many reasons to love this book, this one tops it all.

Laced with high-quality images of these supreme quality cricketers, Legends of Cricket isn’t just about the action pictures. Information about each and every cricketer in this book is thoroughly researched, most of which couldn’t even be found on the World Wide Web. Every entry in this book has at least two pages to its name, where their careers are discussed. You might find every cricketer’s record on Cricinfo but not the information that is available in this book. The authors seem to have consumed a lot of data from countless books to come up with a guide that does justice to the subjects, and their feats.

If you didn’t know that Malcolm Marshall’s grandfather was behind his interest in Cricket; that Hanif Mohammad batted for a record 970 minutes during his innings of 337; or that Garry Sobers achieved the double of taking 50 wickets and scoring 1000 runs in Sheffield Shield twice, then you must read this book. Yes, the book spells Imran Khan’s surname incorrectly (Kahn, instead of Khan), but it regards him as one of the two all-rounders in the world — the other being Richard Hadlee — who improved tremendously during the last decade of their career. It also mentions Andy Flower as one of the most dangerous players in the world during his career, and his achievements that saw Zimbabwe achieve rare wins against Pakistan and India.

For the newer fans of the game, this book is nothing less than a treasure trove as it brings the best from the early days of cricket to the modern age. Some readers might not like the fashion sense of Dr. W G Grace, Freddy Spofforth or George Headley but their achievements speak volumes about their greatness. It tells you about some heroic batsmen like Jack Hobbs who scored a century and fifty in his last first class appearance at 51; demonising bowlers like Dennis Lillee whose bowling action is described as “pure theatre”; and trusted wicketkeepers like Alan Knott whose judgment behind the stumps was termed unerring.

From Don Bradman to Victor Trumper, Frank Worrell to Brian Lara, Colin Cowdrey to Graham Gooch and Sydney Barnes to Shane Warne, this book covers the best of cricket for the benefit of its readers. It tells you the cricket side of Richie Benaud who went on to become the “Voice Of Cricket”; it makes you realise that without all-rounders like Ian Botham and Kapil Dev, England and India might not be the sides we see them today; it begins with Wasim Akram and ends with Waqar Younis, establishing the importance of Pakistan’s two Ws in the world of cricket. Get your hands on this legendary book and make it part of your collection.