We all know that a cricketer is judged on various set of parameters like talent, technique, skill and temperament. It’s always an interesting element of the game to talk about a cricketer’s strengths and abilities. But somewhere down the line you need to have to quantify the above mentioned attributes for a cricketer or otherwise they would become abstract adjectives. And there is no better way to quantify the talent and class of a player than by looking at his numbers. We say than Sachin or Lara were greats of the game because when runs never stopped coming from their bat and their statistics are clear indicator of that. Similarly the magicians and wizards like Muralidharan and Warne can brag for the rest of their lives about the plenteous wickets in their records. So it goes without saying that talent and ability go hand in hand with statistics and numbers.
But hold on! There is another dimension to this picture. Quite often we see amazingly talented players with natural flare but they have not been able to do justice with the talent that they possessed and there stats could never depict the prodigy of their caliber. Let us go through them one by one.
1. Andrew Flintoff
Freddie Flintoff they used to call him. He was an icon of English cricket of in the 1st decade of 21st century. Remembered specifically for his heroics in 2005 Ashes, he is someone who brought cricket on the front pages of the newspapers in a soccer crazy nation. But unfortunately when someone from the upcoming generation would look at his stats, he would definitely question the fact that why was there so much fuss about this man. Having made his debut in 1998, he ended up playing 79 test matches with batting average of 31.77 and bowling average of 32. Unfortunately the stats would never be able to depict the value that he added to the English team.
2. Shane Bond
The fastest bowler to hail from the surface of New Zealand is termed is defined as fast, fearsome and frustratingly fragile. Well fragility is the main reason, why this man is featuring in this list. At his prime, he could rip the heart out of the most resounding batting line ups in the world and was devastating with his shear pace. He is one of those cricketers whose careers have been continuously haunted by the injuries and hence he could never become a constant entity in the Kiwi team. Despite of all the exuberance and fire power, he could play only 18 test matches and 82 odis in his patchy career.
3. Shahid Afridi
This name needs no introduction in cricketing fraternity, a man who took madness and power hitting to a whole new level. It is said that cricketing fans of this era are fortunate enough to witness and enigma like Shahid Afridi. For this man there was no such thing as game awareness and match situation. But once again he is someone who has not done justice with the amazing amount talent that he possessed. Started of his career with a bang by scoring fastest odi hundred in 1996 he developed a reputation of a slogger. Since then he never showed patience at the crease with his bat (even though it’s a different story with the ball). Despite of playing 398 odis his batting average could never cross the 23 run barrier.
4. Steve Harmison
Steve Harmison is another tall fast bowler with great heart and tremendous speed. He holds an impressive record in test cricket but its pity that his odi numbers are not as glittering as his test figures. He produced quite a few scintillating spells in test cricket but he could never produce an eye catchy stuff in limited overs format. He played 58 odi matches with just 76 wickets to his credits, certainly not what many would have expected of him.
5. Irfan Pathan
India is not a territory renowned for producing great fast bowlers or medium pacers for that matter. But this boy from Gujrat showed real promise in under-19 and got picked up in Indian team in 2003. He was being viewed upon as the 1st genuine seam and swing bowler after the great Kapil Dev. The left handed medium fast bowler has decent figures in odi cricket but he could never make a mark in the five day version of the game. And his record is a clear indicator of that as he picked only 100 scalps in this format. He is famously known for his hat trick in the very first over of the test match against Pakistan at Karachi where he absolutely dismantled the Pakistani top order. But looking at the larger picture, every cricket pundit would say that he could have done much more with the amazing talent that he had in his arsenal.
6. Hamish Marshall
He first appeared on international scene at Lahore in 2003 against Pakistan and looked impressive right from the word go. Hamish Marshall was a neat and stylish middle order batsman with elegant timing and illustrious footwork. He was literally untroubled against the pace and bounce of Aussies in 2005 series. Many perceived him as a great prospect for the Kiwi cricket but due to some odd reasons he, like many failed to achieve substantial numbers to back his credentials. He had an aggregate of mere 1454 runs in 66 one day internationals at a meager average of 27.
7. Dinesh Karthik
A courageous and gutsy wicket keeper batsman from India, but it was unfortunate for him that he belonged to the era of iconic MS Dhoni where it looked impossible to match his class as a skipper if not behind the stumps. He possess a solid hand and eye coordination and extremely good through the covers. A solid batsman with all the basics required to become the great. He too is someone who could have scored heaps of runs like many Indians do. He was struggling to solidify his place in the team as a wicket keeper when India found MS Dhoni. He has so far appeared in 71 odis and 23 tests, averaging 27 in both the formats with the bat. This is obviously not all that he is capable of and every one wishes that he improves the statistics in upcoming years.
8. Johan Botha
South Africans are a proud cricketing nation given that they have produced champion batsmen, fearsome fast bowlers, legendary all rounder and world class fielders. The only element missing from there cricket was a potent spinner. It seemed as this void had been filled by Johan Botha when he became an essential ingredient of the South African recipe in 2010 even though he made his debut in 2006. He had the ability to choke the flow of runs and is known for maintaining tight line and length. But his numbers are not believable considering his capacity and ability. 17 wickets in 5 test matches and 72 wickets in 78 one day internationals is all what he has managed so far.
9. Muhammad Sami
He broke the myth that “in Pakistan, you only have to be Punjabi to be a great fast bowler”. He belongs to the city of great Javed Miandad, the versatile Karachi. Penetrating into the team in the era of great Wasim and Waqar was in itself a great achievement but he bamboozled every one with his lightning fast bowling and in 2001, Imran Khan called him the Malcolm Marshall of the future. There is obviously know question mark about his pace which we all are witness of but since his debut, he has struggled to get his line and direction right. For a bowler who could bowl at 150 plus, 85 wickets in test matches and 121 in odis are certainly not acceptable.
10. Marcus North
This elegant left hander from Victoria made his debut for Australia in 2009. Equipped with solid foundation and concrete technique, he could not somehow attain the pedigree of other Aussie left handers like Langer, Hayden and Bevan. For someone as talented as him 21 test matches and 2 odis are certainly not enough. But we all hope that he can rectify these numbers in upcoming years.