Former Pakistan captain and the Chief Selector in the (PCB), Inzamam-ul-Haq has named three game-changers of cricket from different eras.
First and foremost, Inzy took the name of West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards, who tormented bowlers of his era to all corners of the ground, with his aggressive strokeplay.
Then, chronologically, Inzamam included former Sri Lankan opener Sanath Jayasuriya in his list, who offered a never-seen-before brand of cricket, along with Romesh Kaluwitharana, during the World Cup of 1996.
Later, the gentle-giant added South Africa’s ace batsman AB de Villiers amongst the game-changers of World Cricket. The maverick Protean smashed bowler to all places in the ground and gained the reputation of being a 360-degree batsman.
“3 players have changed the game of cricket, given it a new style,” Inzy mentioned in his video blog on YouTube.
Until the 70s, the batsmen who seldom wore helmets and other protective gears only played to survive against fast bowlers. However, the game saw a paradigm shift with Viv Richards taking on the pace bowlers.
“Years ago it was Viv Richards, who changed the game. At that time batsmen used to play fast bowlers on the backfoot but he showed everyone how to play them off the front foot. He taught everyone that fast bowlers can be attacked. He was an ever great player,” added Inzamam.
Until the mid-90s, the idea of the batting teams was to save their wicket for the onslaught at the backend of the innings. This led to batters paying respect to the new-ball bowlers even with field restrictions.
Moreover, this template was changed by Sri Lankan openers and Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana, who hit bowlers over the in-field in the first 15-overs of the innings.
“The second change was brought in by Sanath Jayasuriya. He decided to attack the fast bowlers in the first 15 overs. Before his arrival, the ones who used to hit the ball in the air were not considered as proper batsmen, but he changed the perception by hitting the fast bowlers over the infield in the first 15 overs,” continued the 49-year-old.
With the advent of T20 cricket, the room for improvisation among modern-day batters went beyond the horizon. The likes of De Villiers took on bowlers to hit them in never-seen-before areas, over wicket-keeper.
“The third player who changed cricket was AB de Villiers. He changed cricket for the third time. I would credit the fast-paced cricket that you see in ODIs and T20s today to de Villiers. Previously batsmen used to hit the straight bat. De Villiers came in, started to hit the paddle sweeps, reverse sweeps,” concluded Haq.