Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq named three batsmen from different eras who according to him changed the game of cricket and gave it a ‘new style’ with their aggression, imagination and innovative batting.
“3 players have changed the game of cricket, given it a new style,” Inzamam said in his Youtube channel.
The first cricketer that Inzamam believed changed the game of cricket was West Indian legend, Viv Richards. “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.
Richards played 121 Tests, scoring 8540 runs at an average of 50.23. In 187 ODIs, Richards scored 6721 runs at an average of 47. But the most impressive part about his batting in ODIs was his strike rate of 90.20.
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According to Inzamam, the second cricketer who changed the game was former Sri Lanka all-rounder Sanath Jayasuriya, who scored 6973 runs in 110 Tests and 13430 runs in 445 ODIs.
“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,” added Inzamam.
Jayasuriya, who was a handy left-arm spinner too, tormented bowling attacks with aggressive batting in the first 15 overs in the 1996 World Cup.
Inzamam picked former South Africa captain AB de Villiers as the third cricketer who changed the gentleman’s game.
“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,” said Inzamam.
de Villiers, who represented South Africa in 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is, scored 8765, 9577 and 1673 runs respectively.
Inzamam said the biggest quality of Richards, Jayasuriya and de Villiers was that they were all proper batsmen. Another common factor according to Inzamam among the three was their mental strength and ability to bounce back from every scenario.