What constitutes greatness in cricket, it could be said, aren’t the win or loss ratios alone. It cannot alone be determined by the number of half-centuries or hundreds scored alone. Also, greatness in the sport isn’t alone determined by the runs scored or by what remains in the wickets column. You aren’t only great by the number of fifers you’ve taken or whether you did, in fact, take hat-tricks in this great game of hours.
Greatness, you may want to argue, also stems from a cricketer’s character, personality or conduct. How well did you fare in the face of overwhelming odds and how did you conduct yourself whether as a contributor to the team’s score or the wickets or even as a leader helps in assessing one’s contribution.
But is that the only sign of respect that we’ve come to see on the intensely competitive cricket field? How about Inzamam ul Haq, especially in the light of his recent comments on Sir Viv, Sanath Jayasuriya, and the one and only AB de Villiers?
Now the very fact that Inzamam himself was a great batsman, someone who time and again, led Pakistan toward the light during grimness also tells us about something more; indicating about the legendary batsman’s large-heartedness particularly since he has never shied away from reserving a word of praise about the greats who played alongside him or before him. At the same time, he’s never backed away from encouraging the younger-generation talents from his Pakistan.
But we got to learn something special and heart-warming about the gentle giant of Pakistan cricket especially in the light of his comments about 3 outstanding batsmen from different eras who, sort of, changed the art and dynamic of batting altogether.
Here’s what Inzi, as he’s lovingly called, had to share about Sir Viv, for a start: “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,” said Inzamam.
He would then speak about Sanath Jayasuriya, the Matara-Mauler, and one of Sri Lanka’s finest batsmen ever. Inzamam shared, “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 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.”
Finally, the former right-handed batsman would add something interesting about Abraham Benjamin de Villiers, “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.”
That being said, Cricket, we can come to agree, becomes an even better and brighter sport when the stakeholders- on the field- reserve praise for one another and do not shy away from applauding those who’ve made this such a grand and entertaining spectacle. That Inzamam, who himself constituted for well over 20,000 runs in international cricket, often drubbing the likes of West Indies, South Africa, and Sri Lanka with customary ease further tells us just how selfless a legend the Pakistan-born legend was, and is.