Sri Lanka cricket February 17, 2012

Shattering the Kalu myth

Truth is, Kalu actually had a pretty average World Cup. His scores, listed here as runs/balls faced, were: 0/1, 26/16, 33/18, 8/3, 0/1, 6/13
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Nostalgia can indeed be a seductive mistress, can she not? Watching Sri Lanka dismantling the Australian bowling attack in Sydney tonight, I heard Tony Greig waxing lyrical about the feats of Romesh Kaluwitharana in the 1996 World Cup. Greig's insinuation was that Kalu's breathtaking innings at the top of the order in that tournament were the catalyst for the new style of opening in ODIs. It is easy to be fooled into thinking that Kalu set the world alight and got Sri Lanka off to some amazing starts, but my distant memory forced me to check the facts.

Truth is, Kalu actually had a pretty average World Cup as a batsman. His scores, listed here as runs/balls faced, were: 0/1, 26/16, 33/18, 8/3, 0/1, 6/13.

They certainly weren't slow starts but, apart from the 33 against Kenya, his contributions could hardly be considered significant. It's easy to remember him as that explosive little stick of dynamite but if you actually look at his scores during that season, even leading into the World Cup, the numbers tell a very different story.

It seems the Kalu legend was born in the Benson & Hedges Series in Australia, a few months before that World Cup. He made three half-centuries in that series, but when you actually look at those games his strike-rate was not that high. Not as high as the legend suggests anyway. Here are his runs/balls faced stats: 8/21, 0/4, 8/14, 0/1, 77/75, 20/27, 50/54, 74/68, 13/9, 0/1.

Even the three significant scores he made were virtually at a run-a-ball, a far cry from the sort of strike-rates that we are now accustomed to in the modern game. Admittedly, in that era, the boundaries were long and the cricket bats not that powerful, but I still maintain that the Kaluwitharana myth has grown despite the reality.

Don't get me wrong, I loved watching him bat. I'm not knocking the bloke. My point is that despite the hype and awe that his name evokes, the truth is that he wasn't quite the "excitement machine" that Michael Slater described him as when he was responding to Tony Greig's comments about Kalu. In 102 ODIs, his strike-rate was 77.70 and his average was 22.20.

It's almost the reverse of the point I made about Jacques Kallis in my piece a few weeks ago. Kallis is one of those cricketers whose numbers are phenomenal but he never quite gets the international acclaim. He averages 45.55 at a strike-rate of 72.96 in his long ODI career. Yet we'd never describe him as an excitement machine.

Even Slater himself, fondly remembered as a swashbuckling strokeplayer, had an ODI average of 24.07 with a strike-rate of 60.40. Mark Taylor, stodgy in comparison to Slater, had a strike-rate of 59.46. Wonder why it is that we seem to remember players in different ways, despite the facts suggesting that there wasn't much to separate them really?

Let's think of someone like David Warner, a thrashing machine if ever there was one. He averages 20.07 in ODIs with a strike rate of 78.71. I expected his strike-rate to be much higher than that I must confess. Perhaps the true test will be at the end of his career when he has had time to carve out some consistency; but for a bloke who strikes at 142.00 in Twenty20 internationals, he just can't seem to get close to that in the 50-over format, despite having four more Powerplay overs at his disposal. Curious....

I'd love to hear your contributions to this debate. Can you think of any cricketers who have a reputation that doesn't quite match the cold hard facts? Kalu is certainly one such player; his reputation seems to have been forged on the back of his stunning Test match debut against Australia. I remember Allan Border describing that innings to me; he seemed to suggest that for those few hours that Kalu unleashed his magic the Aussies were wondering if this was the next Don Bradman, such was his amazing strokeplay. What a shame he didn't repeat that again in his short and 'explosive' career. There we go again with adjectives that don't quite fit reality!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anuja on May 3, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    He has the ability & power to do wonders. But he wasn't able to do as he may take the supporting role of Jayasuriya.Jayasuriya was rising at that time and Kaluwitharana may think he should given more opportunity to jayasuriya & to capitalise it for winning matches rather than showing colours.Unfortunately he hadn't got much opportunities after the world cup.

  • Sudesh on April 30, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    You missed something. Check the strike rate that kalu reached his 50 runs. I remember he got 50 in 34 balls and slowed down.

  • Ravinda Bulathgama on April 16, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    To add a comment,Tony Grieg certainy described Kalu "a pocket Dynamo",and he kept on calling him "little Kalu". I do believe he saw Kalu as a little David,standing tall at the wicket and bashing the Goliaths. Dashing,he was and on the other side Sanath was doing the same thing with his wrong hand. It was the magic of the underdogs running to slay the mighty Dragon without a care in the world that made the legend. I was in India during 96 world cup, and that time newspapers in calcutta were raving about the pair,and one paper called Sanath "Lanka's Fire Chief".

  • Paul on April 2, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    Michael Jeh,

    In light of all the feedback and commentary on your article about Kalu, I think you will need to do another write up on Kalu, but this time, including some of that feedback and the stats you had missed out on. I think really owe it to the 'Kalu' the legend! But before you do pen your next article, watch videos of some of his breathtaking innings – you will see some of the most ferocious, pulls, hooks, cuts and drives you’ve ever seen and most from proper cricketing strokes. Also when you watch those innings, watch how slow and boring the other batsman were in that era 15/20 years ago- that’s when you will realise that your mathematical stats do not tell the truth.

    Kalu was any captain’s dream, a great personality, a true team man, who brought a lot of positivity to the team and was willing to sacrifice his wicket to meet the team goals and outside cricket he was just a great man.

    KALU a true legend in very aspect

  • Sam on March 22, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Well, Kalu may have not scored many runs to look back and present on papaer. however, those who watched him playing can remember that it was the conduct and the attitude he showed as an openning batsman made him a legend. some of the strokes he made in the middle might not have made any runs but sure made a big impact on the bolwers mindset. If you love the game you like the players for what kind of memeory they have made. That's beyond the boudaries of countries. I am not a pakistani but it doesn't stop me for remebering Wasim, Imran or Anwer with their grace. We all remeber Sachin facing Mcgrath and standing tall irespective of where we comefrom.

  • Mykuh on March 20, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    I'm a little late to this discussion, but the point I'd like to make is that the Sri Lankan openers were not groundbreaking in 1995 with their approach. They were the 2nd to implement it. There were a couple of batsmen called Latham and Greatbatch who did it in the 1992 world cup. My maths might be wrong, but I'm fairly sure that 1992 is before 1995.

    That's the biggest Kalu myth.

  • Shehan on March 19, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    Before Kalu happened, I hated cricket.

    After Kalu happened, I love cricket.

    'nuff said.

  • Gilbert on March 18, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    Here are some other stats probably not officially recorded but helps make the Kalu legend!

    1) Cracking century on debut against a formidable Aussie attack. (The same match where Warne begins his march to be a legend)

    2) Three 50 plus scores to turn around Sri Lanka's fortunes in the CB series in 95/96. This was done against the some of the greatest bowlers at the time including Warne, Ambrose and Walsh.

    3) Also featured in the one and only dismantling of Glen Mcgrath by any batsman ever!

    4) Man of the Series in a fiercely contested Series and no one complained!

    5) Subjected to 2 embarrassingly bad umpiring decisions in the finals, the last one in which he beamed a massive smile back at the umpire when he was given out(Legendary on its own right!)

    6)Partnered J in the 96 World Cup to scheme the end of ODI careers of 2 of the World' best allrounders at that time, namely Manoj Prabhakar & Phil DeFreitas. Both fastmen ended up bowling offspin(Stuff of Gold!)

    Kalu you are a Legend!

  • telugu guy on March 4, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    why people insult guys like Anil Kumble , Rahul dravid & Saurav ganguly simply by saying as if sachin was the only guy who played for India. Myth : sachin scored against high quality bowlers like Glenn mcgrath ........the fact is sachin never scored well ( in Australia , when Mcgrath played his Avg is below 10 ) he never scored a century .In 1999 super six qualifier he got out in first over ....same fate again in 2003 world cup final . he scored only 2 centuries against australia ( when Mcgrath Played) that too in subcontinent . avg is below 40 ( one day internationals).

  • Leonard on February 23, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Statistics will prove that the Spitfire never would have won the war for Britain.

    Statistics will prove that Shawshank Redemption never won an award or made a box office hit.

    Statistics will prove that Mr Jeh has over twice the List A batting average of Kumar Sangakara.

    What statistics cannot prove is that fifty years from now, Michael Jeh will matter less to the world that the legends left behind by Sanga, Shawshank or the Spitfire.

  • Anuja on May 3, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    He has the ability & power to do wonders. But he wasn't able to do as he may take the supporting role of Jayasuriya.Jayasuriya was rising at that time and Kaluwitharana may think he should given more opportunity to jayasuriya & to capitalise it for winning matches rather than showing colours.Unfortunately he hadn't got much opportunities after the world cup.

  • Sudesh on April 30, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    You missed something. Check the strike rate that kalu reached his 50 runs. I remember he got 50 in 34 balls and slowed down.

  • Ravinda Bulathgama on April 16, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    To add a comment,Tony Grieg certainy described Kalu "a pocket Dynamo",and he kept on calling him "little Kalu". I do believe he saw Kalu as a little David,standing tall at the wicket and bashing the Goliaths. Dashing,he was and on the other side Sanath was doing the same thing with his wrong hand. It was the magic of the underdogs running to slay the mighty Dragon without a care in the world that made the legend. I was in India during 96 world cup, and that time newspapers in calcutta were raving about the pair,and one paper called Sanath "Lanka's Fire Chief".

  • Paul on April 2, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    Michael Jeh,

    In light of all the feedback and commentary on your article about Kalu, I think you will need to do another write up on Kalu, but this time, including some of that feedback and the stats you had missed out on. I think really owe it to the 'Kalu' the legend! But before you do pen your next article, watch videos of some of his breathtaking innings – you will see some of the most ferocious, pulls, hooks, cuts and drives you’ve ever seen and most from proper cricketing strokes. Also when you watch those innings, watch how slow and boring the other batsman were in that era 15/20 years ago- that’s when you will realise that your mathematical stats do not tell the truth.

    Kalu was any captain’s dream, a great personality, a true team man, who brought a lot of positivity to the team and was willing to sacrifice his wicket to meet the team goals and outside cricket he was just a great man.

    KALU a true legend in very aspect

  • Sam on March 22, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Well, Kalu may have not scored many runs to look back and present on papaer. however, those who watched him playing can remember that it was the conduct and the attitude he showed as an openning batsman made him a legend. some of the strokes he made in the middle might not have made any runs but sure made a big impact on the bolwers mindset. If you love the game you like the players for what kind of memeory they have made. That's beyond the boudaries of countries. I am not a pakistani but it doesn't stop me for remebering Wasim, Imran or Anwer with their grace. We all remeber Sachin facing Mcgrath and standing tall irespective of where we comefrom.

  • Mykuh on March 20, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    I'm a little late to this discussion, but the point I'd like to make is that the Sri Lankan openers were not groundbreaking in 1995 with their approach. They were the 2nd to implement it. There were a couple of batsmen called Latham and Greatbatch who did it in the 1992 world cup. My maths might be wrong, but I'm fairly sure that 1992 is before 1995.

    That's the biggest Kalu myth.

  • Shehan on March 19, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    Before Kalu happened, I hated cricket.

    After Kalu happened, I love cricket.

    'nuff said.

  • Gilbert on March 18, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    Here are some other stats probably not officially recorded but helps make the Kalu legend!

    1) Cracking century on debut against a formidable Aussie attack. (The same match where Warne begins his march to be a legend)

    2) Three 50 plus scores to turn around Sri Lanka's fortunes in the CB series in 95/96. This was done against the some of the greatest bowlers at the time including Warne, Ambrose and Walsh.

    3) Also featured in the one and only dismantling of Glen Mcgrath by any batsman ever!

    4) Man of the Series in a fiercely contested Series and no one complained!

    5) Subjected to 2 embarrassingly bad umpiring decisions in the finals, the last one in which he beamed a massive smile back at the umpire when he was given out(Legendary on its own right!)

    6)Partnered J in the 96 World Cup to scheme the end of ODI careers of 2 of the World' best allrounders at that time, namely Manoj Prabhakar & Phil DeFreitas. Both fastmen ended up bowling offspin(Stuff of Gold!)

    Kalu you are a Legend!

  • telugu guy on March 4, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    why people insult guys like Anil Kumble , Rahul dravid & Saurav ganguly simply by saying as if sachin was the only guy who played for India. Myth : sachin scored against high quality bowlers like Glenn mcgrath ........the fact is sachin never scored well ( in Australia , when Mcgrath played his Avg is below 10 ) he never scored a century .In 1999 super six qualifier he got out in first over ....same fate again in 2003 world cup final . he scored only 2 centuries against australia ( when Mcgrath Played) that too in subcontinent . avg is below 40 ( one day internationals).

  • Leonard on February 23, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Statistics will prove that the Spitfire never would have won the war for Britain.

    Statistics will prove that Shawshank Redemption never won an award or made a box office hit.

    Statistics will prove that Mr Jeh has over twice the List A batting average of Kumar Sangakara.

    What statistics cannot prove is that fifty years from now, Michael Jeh will matter less to the world that the legends left behind by Sanga, Shawshank or the Spitfire.

  • Jay on February 22, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    I think people have gone mad when it comes to Tendulkar. Lets compare Tendulkar, Ponting and Kallis in ODI Matches their team won against all Test playing nations except Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The numbers in parantheses respectively are: (total matches won, batting average, number of centuries). And the numbers for these three guys is Tendulkar (178, 55.28, 24), Ponting (212, 49.17, 21) and Kallis (168, 50.57, 11). Bear in mind the rest of the team, especially bowlers, that Kallis and Ponting had compared to Tendulkar's India. To rephrase, Tendulkar played in 178 ODIs that India won against quality opposition with an average bowling and fielding unit. In these 178 ODI's Tendulkar scored 24 centuries and made 8514 runs at an average of 55.28. I don't care what else the man did or failed to do. He is amazing.

  • San on February 22, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Its not always about stats. Stats are boring Mr. Jeh. Cricket is a far more richer game. Michael Jeh cannot take away the honor from Kalu & Jayasuriya for ''Inventing'' explosive opening strategy for the ODI world. The two shots he played in his 8 runs innings was devastating for the bowlers at the time and exciting for the viewers.

    Of course Jayasuriya carried on longer and Afridi, Gilchrist, Shewag, Dilshan and others followed in the same line.

    Its not a secret that a few bowlers had to retire from international cricket earlier than they thought, because of this strategy specially by Jayasuriya.

    It is not fair from Michael Jeh to undermine Kalu's contribution or Tony Greg's comments. Tony Greg is a Fascinating commentator. He is a positive personality. I would rather listen to Tony Greg's commentary compared to some other boring stuff.

  • Mark Dalgleish on February 22, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Well spotted, Michael. Kalu was hit and miss, but his partnership with Sanath made the rest of the world look at their own games. Kalu and Sanath made their reputation in Australia in 95-96, and suddenly everyone tried to have an explosive pair to start off. Australia is still trying it! That's Kalu's legacy.

  • Sampath Perera on February 22, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Don't know about a legend. But he only ended the career of Manoj Prabhakar!!

  • Balumekka on February 22, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    Mr. Jeh, At least, by reading the responses, you may have learnt that becoming a true "Legend" is not just about stats. What matter most are innovativeness, how the player had responded to particular situations and entertainment provided to the fans. I sincerely hope that next time you will not use meter ruler to measure the weight of a gold coin!

  • Eranga on February 22, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    If you have seen the fastest fifty by SJ you should learn something. After about 6 overs the scorecarrd said 70/0 and kalu had 0 and he then got out. At one end Waqar got bashed while Kalu kept Aaqib Javed busy by defending and swing and misses. Aaqib on the day was bowling so well that wha kalu did just helped SJ to keep hitting Waqar. Inrteresting isn't it? Well will we see such a scorecard ever with any opener. Don't think so. And he was the best WK Sri Lanka ever had. and in his career he opened very few times and He was facing some of the best new ball bowlers and took them apart whenever he was successful. (Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath, )

  • nitoy on February 22, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    What people forget is that he was an integral part of the mid-order collapse in the second innings that caused them to lose the match.

  • Vakapute on February 22, 2012, 2:10 GMT

    In 1995 Benson & Hedges series, Kalu and Sanath played against the toughest opposition you can ever imagine. That opposition had McGrath, Warne, Gillespie, Paul Rifle, Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Michael Bevan, Tom Moody, Law, Slater, Healy, Ponting, McDermott, and Mark Taylor as the captain. You cannot compare the quality of that opposition with any other team today. That team lost the world cup purely due to innovative thinking from SL cricket.

  • Meety on February 22, 2012, 1:02 GMT

    I think what stats don't show with Kalu, was the intent. He may only have "worked" at the top of the order once every 6 or 7 games, but he was there to take advantage of the restrictions. The most reveloutionary aspect of Kalu, was that he was wicket keeper promoed to the top of the innings on a seek & destroy mission. As MJ has stated the myth has outgrown the reality, however, it was still a groundbreaking tactic. People of state that Sehwag has led the way to blistering starts to test matches, but I would say a fellow countrymen in Srikkanth led the way there, & then Slater picked up the mantle in the 90s. Langar recalibrated his game to take advantage of attacking fields & THEN Sehwag has mastered it. I do believe that Kalu was the forerunner to Gilchrest.

  • Ranil on February 21, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    What is not understood by the author is that a legend is not just about facts. When you see the runs vs. no. of balls played you don't account for what the batsman did during the rest of the balls, how and against what kind of balling/field he scored the handfull of runs that he scored and what was the situation of the game he played in. Kalu played or at least tried to play his aggressive shots against any bowler or ball, against any field set up, and irrespective of what total they were chasing and what his figures were. It was his this attitude and his stroke plays together with Sanath changed how One Day International matches are opened.... For that he became a ledgend. His figures will not tell this story and one should not really care those numbers either when talking about Kalu's contribution towards changing how ODI's are played during our times. He will always be a hero of our times...

  • Nalaka Dissanayake on February 21, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    With all due respect to Romesh kaluwitharana I agree with you.

  • Roshan Fernando on February 21, 2012, 17:11 GMT

    Kalu and Sanath will always be remembered as the pair who lighted up the start of a ODI from both ends. Yes, it is true they were not the first to do so - that honour lies with Mark Greatbatch ( not Anwar). BUT no team had both openers blasting away from the outset. It is also true that Kalu's best performances were in Australia in 95/96 when the Sri Lankans were undone by some truly poor umpiring in the finals including bad decisions against Kalu. And as someone mentioned his low scores there was when he batted at 7 . Of course they set the record straight by overpowering the same Aussies in the world cup final. And then there was his keeping which reached great heights on occasions. None more so than when he stumped ( or was it ran out) a flying Tendulkar down the legside in that ill fated world cup semi-finals. Surely one of the greatest pieces of stumping ever seen. And guess who was his partner ( in this case in bowling) in this masterpiece - none other than Sanath of course

  • Carlton Isaaks on February 21, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    Very good point made Michael. Its true that people like Kallis or a Mike Hussey or Michael Bevan never get a mention. I think its more the flair of Kalu and Slater and even K. Srikkanth that sticks in the memory of cricket fans and commentators. As for Tony Greig, it more about some personal connection in Sri Lanka that keeps him on and on about all Sri Lankans.

  • Andrew B on February 21, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    I don't know exactly when Paul Clarke thinks Hick was dropped to make way for Atherton in the mid 90s... the only time Hick was "dropped" with an average of 35.8 was in the 94-5 Ashes series when he had a prolapsed disc, and in any case he wasn't replaced by Atherton (who was captain at the time); nor was Atherton's average 36.1 (it was just over 40).

    The times when Hick was genuinely dropped were earlier in the 90s (most controversially against Australia in 1993), but his average was under 30 then, and he wasn't ever replaced by Atherton, as far as I can see.

  • Lord Emsworth on February 21, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    You cant shatter Kalu's 'myth'. You cant compare 1996 to todays's Kallis or anyone else. Kalu inspired people. There was something about his batting that stood out. Besides, and importantly, his days had different types of bats without the hitting power that bats have today. Since 2004 batsmen like Ponting, Kallis, Shewag etc use mostly carbon reinforced polymer bats that give 30% more power to the shot.Perhaps if Kalu had such a bat he wouldnt have been caught so often in the deep.Those shots would have sailed over for 4 or 6. If someone like Sobers had such bats he would probably scored twice so fast and twice so many runs..

  • 4test90 on February 21, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    Can't agree - I saw Kalu a lot in 95/6 and I cannot emphasise enough that times were very different in the one day game in the early 90's. In Melbourne with the big boundaries scores of 190-200 were usually enough to win most games. Kalu made a huge impact - well beyond his mere scores and balls faced.

  • Sridhar on February 21, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    Basically, variance, which is bad in real life has become a virtue. Rahul, Kallis etc score pretty much the same & at the same rate EVERYTIME they bat whereas the more memorable ones have a few defining masterclasses interspersed with pretty bad performances. Since the good bits stand out quite a bit, we remember them more. Basically, they are really good when they are good! SRT's problem is a bit on a different plane - he is consistently very good; so we tend to remember his 'bad's more than his 'good's!

  • CricketPissek on February 20, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    Agree and disagree. The reason he is a legend is because not many at the time had the guts to pull Curtly Ambrose for six. Let alone on the bouncy PERTH pitch! He even took on McGrath and Warne. Your analysis is a bit lazy there as the scores 8/21, 0/4, 8/14, 0/1 were when he was batting down the order (Mahanama, and then Hathurusinghe were the openers for those matches). Suddenly this tiny fellow was told to open and he hit 77 off 75 at the MCG! I think Greig called him a "pocket dynamo." He went on to score 20/27 but importantly the partnership was 56 in no time. Then he scored 50/54 and finally 74/68 to get SL into the finals for the first time ever! So even before he scored 13/9 and 0/1 in the finals, the legend was born. SO, NOT WITHOUT reason! Numbers were never his thing. Anyway, just comparing stats, Upul Tharanga is a "better" ODI batsman than Aravinda and we know how silly that is :)

  • v on February 20, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    Such is the fickleness of human nature that we espouse excitement,a short-term testoterone burst at the expense of authenticity and genuine talent. how else can u explain the legend of Boom Boom Afridi ( dont remember the last time he really boomed with the bat and Sehwag( over-hyped and over-rated by the indian media-courtesy harsha bhogle, shastri and gavaskar).

    Also, depends on what you are trying to get from a sport. Humans have a very short memory and we are hard-wired to remember individual flashes of brilliance rather than consistent good performance. Sports is a medium to release the inherent pent-up emotions of passion, excitement,novelty, adventurism and one-upmanship.

    As long as we have these emotions flamboyance will always trump genuine but boring talent.

  • ThinKer on February 20, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    MS Dhoni. During the last WC he wasn't the best captain, but fortunately for him, captained the best Indian team ever assembled with the advantage of home grounds. His larger than life image after the WC was just a farce.

  • Simon Knowles on February 20, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    One mythical series performance I believe holds true is for the 90s player Rod Latham, his performance at the 1992 World Cup. He played in all 7 matches, and had one brilliant innings sharing a memorable partnership with Mark Greatbatch versus South Africa, adding 100 plus for the 1st wicket, and in the first match versus Australia he took a sensational caught and bowled to dismiss Tom Moody to finish with figures of 1-35. These performances stick in the mind, however I find myself quite often stating that Latham in the World Cup 1992 was decidedly average these apart, averaging 19.42 at a strike rate of 62.38, and taking 1-136 in his bowling exploits.

  • santanu on February 20, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    The logic of stats has nothing to do with reality. ODI is the more arrogant form of the game and so personalities that do not have that arrogance do not get the name. The best example is Dravid in test and Sourav in ODI this has more to do with personality than with stats. Kallis misses out not for the lack of numbers but for his persona. Tendulkar did not miss the bus as his persona was backed and the advertisement juggernaut. Coming back to the main thesis Kalu wins because he had the charisma...in the final analysis it is 33% Stats +33% persona + 33% format of the game that finally makes a person.

  • Hashim on February 20, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    Kalu was playing the supporting role for Jayasuriya. Both together had a great impact. Sri Lanka was no. 2 ODI team for a long period of time after winning the WC thanks to mainly due to Jayasuriya, Murali. Jayasuriya broke the fastest fifty, fastest 150, also held the fastest 100 before Afridi, hit most amount of sixes in one inning, Hit most runs in one over at that time. Kalu was right there supporting him. Yes...these two are legendary.

  • Aayush on February 20, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Kris Shrikant, Ravi Shastri,Robin Singh, Ajay Jadeja, Hansie Cronje, Lance Klusner, Craig Mcmillan, Roger Twose, Chris Cairns, Nathan Astle, etc..

    I can come up with a bigger list, but these players did make an impact to their teams.

  • jogesh99 on February 20, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    Tony Greig - talk about being overrated!

  • Kunal Talgeri on February 20, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    @Nimal: Amazing number-crunching. That really was an eye-opener, considering how much viewers like me have criticised Agarkar in ODIs... Thanks! Would be curious to see the comparison in Tests too.

  • Busie1979 on February 20, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    I believe that while stats tell only about 70% of the story, selectors too readily pick guys with vastly inferior stats while superior performers are languishing in state cricket (eg. Australia - esp. David Hussey, Chris Rogers, Phil Jaques, Brad Hodge have been ignored in tests in recent times while guys like Cowan, Marsh and North get picked). Secondary skills like fielding and part time bowling or handy batting should resolve line ball decisions between guys competing for a spot with similar stats.

    These guys reputations don't match their stats: Jonty Rhodes, Cronje, Brendan McCullum, Healy, Boucher, Hooper, Flintoff, Vettori, Brett Lee (tests), Nasser Hussain, Mitchell Starc.

    These guys stats suggest they are under-rated: Tait, Bollinger, Bracken, Pollock, Kallis, Samaraweera, Chanderpaul, Imzamam Ul Haq, Phil Jaques, Zaheer Khan, Gary Kirsten, Andy Flower, Fanie De Villiers, Damien Fleming, Shane Bond.

  • Imran on February 19, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    Excellent article. Simply loved it. Very true indeed!

  • ultrasnow on February 19, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    Don't look only at stats but at the larger picture. If you only go by stats then even Bradman's stats hide more than they actually reveal.

  • Manas Mishra on February 19, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    The legend of Ishant Sharma was born In the 2008 India-Aus series. I've heard so many cricket experts drooling over his amazing performance. Even today his critics claim that he is no longer the same bowler as he was in his first series. Well, the truth is in that series he took 6 wickets in 3 test matches, with a bowling average of 60 and strike rate of over 100. That would be worse that any part time bowlers' figures. Similarly, there are some myth about some of the Indian openers being "attacking" batsmen - the likes of Srikanth, Siddhu and to a lesser extent Ganguly. Out of the recent lot, we keep hearing about the "talent" of Rohit Sharma, without ever witnessing it on the field.

  • Aeshverya on February 19, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Nice article, Michael! I would like to point out how Trott is labelled as slow. yes, he is. But a lot of the great ODI players are slower. what can be labelled against him though is that he can't change gears. he will play the same way chasing 280 as he would play chasing 230.

  • tony Greg on February 19, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Sorry Mates!!! What I meant to say was little Kalu and Sana boy set the tone for a new approach in ODI cricket during the 95/96 Benson & Hedges Series and the world cup. It's not the statistics I was talking about merely the approach and philosophy of Kalu and Sana. No need to get carried away with this... You are right though about Kallis... He is the Best Cricketer of the modern age...

  • Bunti on February 19, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    The writer does serious injustice to Kalu and his contribution to Sri Lankan cricket by merely looking at numbers. He was a player who gave the world extremely entertaining cricket with his batting. What was more significant about Kalu was his personality behind the stumps. His record may have been broken, but a few wicketkeepers come close to being that revered, respected or entertaining to date.

  • v8 on February 19, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    I think the impact of Sanath - Kalu combination was so huge in the one day competition , because going after the bowlers in the 1 st 15 overs was not something which happened those days ( well at least not that Successfully ) .. and in that time Sri lanka were considered minnows .. and for them to come out and play the way they did ... it was showing a rather shocked cricketing world a different brand of cricket .. the Sri lanken brand of cricket !! .. what ever said & done the cricketing world owes a big thank you for the Lankens in the 96 WC for the way they tore apart the traditional " see off the New Ball approach" and showing what a faith in their abilities & innovation could do !! cheers

  • Nimal on February 19, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    Let us compare the well nigh 'perfect' Zaheer Khan and bad Ajit Agarkar in ODIs(incl ICC matches). Zaheer has played 194 matches and taken 277 wickets at 28.9 average, 4.9 economy rate and 35.3 strike rate. Agarkar has taken 288 wickets in 191 matches at 27.9 average with 5.07 economy and 32.9 strike rate. So even the fact that he was very expensive is a myth. And by the way he was far faster than Zaheer consistently hitting 140.

  • Navs on February 19, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    Sorry, but poor article. This article exposes the folly of looking at numbers alone. You say Kalu's scores in the benson and hedges series were run a ball. Correct. But at the start of the innings they were not so. More like a strike rate of 150-200. Only toward the latter of the innings did the strike rate naturally catch up. By then of course the bowlers had got a hammering...

  • Johnny Rook on February 19, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    @Balaji Krishnamurthy. Ajit Agarkar is another good example of Test performances impacting ODI performances. Agarkar was a wonderful ODI bowler and a terrible test bowler. Even if you look at his last 30 ODIs (because of which he got kicked out), he did a lot better than current crop of Indian bowlers even if you consider the differecne in time period. His problem was inconsistency. He used to bowl 1 trashy delivery and 1 gem each over. In tests, his trashy one used to cost runs and gem used to get blocked. In ODIs however his trashy one used to cost runs but his gems used to get much needed wickets. Unfortunately Indian selectors got swayed by emotions instead of analyzing the actual problem (Nothing new really). So to sum it up, Ajit Agarkar failed India in tests but India failed him in ODIs.

  • Sopaka on February 19, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    Kalu is a Legand because of the impact he created. You can't judge anything by looking at the stats alone.

    1995 B&H series was famous for Murali's calling by Hair. Sri Lanka, considered novices then, had little chance needing to beat Australia twice to get int the finals. Kalu batting in the lower middle order then had made scores of 8, 0, 8, 0. And he was promoted to open the innings with Sanath Jayasuriya.

    First inning as opener, he was man of the match for a sparkling 50. In the last qualifying match, SL had to chase 242, the highest successful chase at the time. None of the commentators gave SL any chance, saying history is against them. On the back of yet another smashing 70 from Kalu, SL won the match. The win was considered SL's best win until that point. SL entered the B& H finals for the first time on Kalu's heroics.

    In the two finals, Aussies said they have plan for him. He fell to two dubious LBW decisions. Stat's will not tell you that.

  • Jarry on February 19, 2012, 2:43 GMT

    Wasim Akram was considered an allrounder but he averaged just 16 with the bat

  • Balaji Krishnamurthy on February 19, 2012, 2:34 GMT

    Look at the other side, of guys who have done quite well but were seen as sub-par performers. One example was Ajit Agarkar, a bowler who was always rated low, but had 282 LOI wickets. What hurt was his economy rate and the dismal series he had in Australia in 1999-2000. The guy had a flat personality and negative perceptions did him in. Another guy with a problem of perception is Munaf Patel. His figures are no better or no worse than the others. I am sure there must be others in other cricket-playing countries also. As for Tendulkar not delivering in crunch games, India got to playing those crunch games because of him. He played a huge hand in India getting to the 2003 and 2011 World Cup. The law of averages caught up in the final. Actually Ponting had a fairly ordinary 2003 Cup. The others got Australia to the final, and he got his knock there. What a lot of people forget is if Tendulkar had succumbed to the law of averages earlier, no final for India.

  • Chris on February 19, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    I think the Kalu myth is still justified, he started aggressively and set a tone for the innings. The bowlers had to assess their bowling from the first delivery and even though he went cheaply, a couple of boundaries set the scene for Sri Lanka.

    Perhaps the person most response was the firework Jayasuria down the other end!

  • MaruthuDelft on February 18, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    When Kalu walked in as a batsman...it was a wonderful sight. Soooo compact. Then his batting...so compact. His first test hundred...You can't find many like that. On the whole its his compactness is the thing. Leave alone our cricketers..it is hard to match even for English n Australian cricketers.

  • Engee on February 18, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    What I remember most about Kalu was his spectacular stumping of Sachin in that 96 WC SF, which triggered an Indian batting collapse..rest as they is history.

  • Paul Clarke on February 18, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    I remember in the mid 90's Atherton returning to the test side after having issues with his back "Solid reliable Atherton" at the time - "Giving backbone to Englands top order" HIck was dropped to make room. At that time (almost 20 years ago - everyone had lower averages than now) Atherton averaged 36.1....Hick 35.8 (at a MUCH higher strike rate - as well as taking wickets in previous games with his off spin). It wasn't that Atherton came back. It was that - according to the media - it was such a "no-brainer". Yeah - 3 runs per 5 match test series was about the difference between them - with Hick being the better fielder and bowler. People's perceptions are often based on thin air..or what the media tell them to base it on.

  • Mark on February 18, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    Yes I was in Melbourne, January 1996 for the two Melbourne Games against Australia at the impressive MCG arena. A cricket coliseum where cricketers turn into Gladiators. In January 1996, Australia was the best team in the world. In one day and test cricket. They had just toppled a declining west indies in the Caribbean to take the best team in the world crown. Shane Warne and Glen McGrath were just coming into their own.The MCG was a veritable fortress for Australia at this stage. There were no weaknesses in the Australian team they could play spin and pace and not lose in any conditions anywhere in the world. Let alone the MCG.Enter in Jan 1996 Kalu and Sri Lanka. Kalu had hammered a test century in SL against Aus in 1992 on debut. SL had Kalu opening for the first time.It was a masterstroke. He took on Warne and Mcgrath and thumped them all around the MCG in awesome batting.Sri Lanka spurred by the big Sri Lankan community in Melbourne won convincingly shattering Aus invincibility.

  • Shehan Fernando on February 18, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    You can not find many unselfish cricketers than Kalu in the history of cricket... Dont forget his stumping record in ODIs can not be matched with anyone though it was broken by Sanga...

  • Nfs_Sid on February 18, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    Example - "Shoaib Akhtar doesn't have the best record, but no matter what stats say, he is a legend" - end of story. Heroes are simply remembered, even when they don't have the stats behind them. And Jeh, Tony might know more about cricket than you. It's a lot more than just the stats that weave memories.

  • Nuwan on February 18, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    @Michael: First of all DO NOT forget your reviewing stats of a player who played in late 90's era...that was the period when ODI cricket was played for 50 overs but seems like 3days Test played nowadays...highest scores would be around 230-250...average scores around 190-220...no fancy powerplays were there then...hard-hitting sixes was so unlikely...even a boundary would've come only in between 20 to 30 balls...if you are to compare the strike-rate & batting average of a batsmen of that era with latest batsmen, you should be concerned about your wits first.Having a strike rate of 77 & average of 22 for a opener in late 90s ,KALU was exceptional & a cricketing legend indeed... Michael search deep for yourself to find out the fact "who revolutionized the format of ODI cricket in 1995-1997? " in the history books... You'll find the GOLDEN names of "Masterblaster Sana & little Kalu" for sure...every cricketer is exceptional in his own game of cricket...so no comparing or condemning!!!

  • Abby on February 18, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    A really good article that talks about the over-rated and the under-rated players. Sure Kalu did not have the numbers by his side but, he sure was one whom every bowling attack wanted to depart early and he did oblige his opponents but, the short time he spent at the middle was good enough to ensure that the middle order can come and play themselves in and still manage to end up at a run rate of 5.50+ at the end of the 50 overs.

    I remember in one of the innings Sri Lanka was to chase 213 against Pakistan to win the final, Kalu was the first wicket to fall for Sri Lanka. He scored a duck but, Sri Lanka were already 50+ in about 4 overs. Sri Lanka lost the game but this talks about the role Kalu played. Nothing was expected of him as he had the dangerous Jayasuriya at the other end and that too at a time when Jayasuriya was at his murdering best. Its better to score a duck at the top but see your side scoring at more than 6.00 RPO rather than come in at number 7 and seem unimportant.

  • Vimalan on February 18, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    just one request to those critics who often repeat the same thing, "Sachin has stats but never won matches for India when it mattered, etc." Can you guys come up with your definition of what situations are mattered most and where Sachin failed in ODIs ? I really fail to understand this logic about a man with over 18K runs with a strike rate of 86+ (over 88 as opener). please.

  • Kaushik Lakshman on February 18, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    Ppl love to discredit tendulkatr with things such as not performing in crunch games.. this is bizzare.. i fully endorse Jame's view on the Little Master. He has been the top performer in 4 of the 6 WCs he has played which i think includes the best teams in the world.. also his 50s in QF ans SF in the last WC were essential in India reaching the final..

  • Abi on February 18, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    same with greenidge and haynes...

    This is what our own cricinfo says abt haynes - "he tended, in opening partnerships anyway, towards acting as counterpoint to Gordon Greenidge's belligerent strokeplay"

    but compare their stats:

    greenidge runs:5134 avg: 45.03 SR: 64.92 haynes runs:8648 avg: 41.37 SR: 63.04

  • Nimal on February 18, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Another interesting case is a comparison between dasher Krish Srikkanth and slowcoach Sunil Gavaskar. Srikkanth had over 4000 runs at an average of 29 and strike rate of 71.74, while Gavaskar had over 3000 runs at an average of 35 and strike rate of 62.26. The perception in strike rate would be that the difference is much greater than the actual nine runs per hundred balls.

  • Safras on February 18, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    If comparing over all stats it will not say the caliber of the kalu.I think he attracted with number of scoring 4s & 6s.what so ever he is a marvelous player & changed odi format.

    Thanks.

  • Mohanan on February 18, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    I think the excitement comes from the boundaries. I did a calculation of the percentage of runs scored by boundaries out of the total runs of ODI career for Kalu and Kallis. Kalu's percentage is 47 whereas Kallis' is 38.4 which tells you why Kalu is regarded as exciting.

  • James on February 18, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    dude sandeep , n i m english , ur comment abt sachin makes me laugh , u r saying sachin hasnt delivered in crunch games , were u sleeping in the last 20 yrs or so , nobody is suggesting tht the gr8 man has delivered in all crunch games , but then there is no other player who has delivered 100 percent in crunch games , n u talk of not delivering against high class bowling , rofl , go check all his stats in odi s or tests , also rem tht till 2000 India was a one man team , so incase people come n tell me tht sachin hit a hundred n still India lost , they have to be reminded tht this is not a lawn tennis game , irrespective of wat , India has won far more when he scored a 100 or even a fast quick 40 plus , the ratio is easily 70 percent , he did have a lull period btw 2005 to 07 , n now for the last yr , he is making runs but not big ones , but overall his career , his runs scored , the rate at which they have been scored , the quality against they have been scored ,

  • chetan dukle on February 18, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Have always thought the same way about Kris Srikkanth....an ODI batting average of approx 29 and a strike rate of 72..not quite the swashbuckler he was made out to be...yes, he did play an occasional blistering knock but his inconsistency averaged out his statistics

  • chetan dukle on February 18, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Have always thought the same way about Kris Srikkanth....an ODI batting average of approx 29 and a strike rate of 72..not quite the swashbuckler he was made out to be...yes, he did play an occasional blistering knock but his inconsistency averaged out his statistics

  • Dan on February 18, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    Michael Slater was there on the field when the "excitement machine" was batting. He felt the excitement to talk about it. Do you Jeh know what you're talking about? Waxing lyrically, "nonsense".

  • Abhishek on February 18, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    Perhaps strike rate alone doesnt matter- it's the ability to force the pace that really matters- that's why people with similar strike rates can have vastly different perceptions in the minds of fans.

    Returning to Kalu, I'd iterate the opinion that much of his legend was about the threat of what he could do. He hit with an impunity previously not seen in Cricket- bowlers were glad to see his back after he scored 15 off 10 balls (or 8 off 3!) and then came Aravind D'Silva to caress his way through!

  • Balumekka on February 18, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    Well, ordinarily columnists like Jeh can write thousand pages analyzing players' statistics. He writes what he understands and what he values, using his own yardsticks, which can only measure one of the many parameters. Fifeteen years later, if you compare Kalu's stats with any of the modern tail-enders, you will find that Kalu is one of the worst openers in the history of the game. We, the keen fans only remember the SITUATIONS along with the STATS. Little Kalu played the supporting role to Jayasuriya. This was the first hard hitting opening pair that revolutionized the game and many teams followed(Few teams used one pinch hitter before that). This pair demoralized all the contemporary opening bowlers and due to them some retired from the game (ex. Manoj Prabhakar). Arjuna clearly said that he did not expect this pair to stay 25 overs, but to score 50-70 runs in 4-7 overs which can be capitalized by class players who come next in the order. Kalu and Jayasuriya did the job perfectly!

  • Kreacher on February 18, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    I find it surprising that people mention Jayasuriya and Kalu as the pioneers of the pinch-hitting up the order (and a Pak fan even spoke of Anwar and Sohail starting the trend). Probably a reality check is in order here: look up Mark Greatbatch, and trace NZ's performance in the 1992 WC. He didn't play the first 2 matches, then replaced John Wright and took full advantage of the fielding restrictions, scoring 313 runs @44.71 and a strike rate of almost 88 - the highest amongst all openers.

  • senehas Karunarathna on February 18, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    to me Romesh Kaluwaitharana was the best batsman against Shane Warne...

  • ajith on February 18, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Sixer sidhu was definitely a myth compared to what the stats tell!

  • Sandeep_bangalore on February 18, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    In the case od Sachin Tendulkar, he has all the statistics in his favour. But apart from a handful of times, he has never delivered when it really matters. Non-Indian readers might feel all of us Indians fawn over him, but to be frank, delivering in crunch games(esp against high class bowling) is something he has never done, and not just me but many of us share this feeling. And at the moment he is just a monotonous run maker, insearch of that 100th record. Many of us Indians would be glad to see him retire, atleast from ODIs, believe it or not!

  • Shamit on February 18, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Imran Nazir - Destructive player, I believe not very head turning stats.

  • Madan on February 18, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    I guess Michael's point is with only two scores past 20, Kalu could not have had much of an impact in the WC 96. Many comments here argue that stats don't capture the legacy but without at least a handful of quickfire 30s and 40s, you can't make an impact....not with two noughts, an 8 and a 6. Truth is, Jayasuriya was the real master blaster at that time and, yes, he was unstoppable when he was on his A game.

    Let me also take this opportunity to cringe at a comment mentioning Nadal in the same sentence as Afridi and Sehwag. Nadal is anything but inconsistent. If anything, he relies on one of the most outstanding defences in tennis and it is Federer who takes huge risks and, esp against Nadal, pays a heavy price. Please don't let appearances like Nadal's pumped fists mislead you. He is a far more focused champion than someone like Afridi and that is why he owns 10 slam titles and a career slam.

  • udit maheshwari on February 18, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    I think Afridi is a big contender for this column. A couple of innings built his legend but he's nowhere near as fabled as people make him out to be.

  • Tony on February 18, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    There must be some fire, otherwise it wont smoke. Statistics is a beautiful subject and you have to ask the right question for the right answer.

    Six singles from six balls is a boring thing compared to few heaves and misses and a six. Its the boundary hits per runs scored. Gayle has a striking rate of a boundary every 8.5 balls compared to Tendulkar's 10, which is 20% slower!. But tendulkars scoring rate is 86, compared to 83 of Gayle, which is roughly 4% higher!.

    So Gayle excites better than Tendulkar, but Tendulkar wins matches.

    Dravid and Ganguly has faced almost same number of balls and same number of runs (ganguly is about 2-3% better), but Ganguly has a whopping 30% better strike rate of boundaries.

    Singles doesnt go to highlights package, doesnt gets replayed on TV again and again, actully the batsman at other end gets the attention immediately. But sixes and fours gets replayed about 3-4 times greater than singles and thats where Kallis and Dravid Losse out.

  • Paskar on February 18, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    It was the opening stand with Jayasuriya taking on the fast bowlers without the hitherto "settling down" period changed the world cup cricket. I wasn't aware that the Pakistani openers had already done it. However, in the matches leading to 1996 worldcup and in some world cup matches (atleast)Jayasuriya pulverized the opening bowlers and set the tone for the rest of the innings.

  • xeon on February 18, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    Exciting is not frequently labeled to players/teams that are consistent. I used to find Roger Federer, Australia( when they won all the time) etc. boring all the time. Players who aren't that consistent but can single handedly/unexpectedly change the course of the entire game by some rare brilliance are always exciting. Thats why Rafael Nadal was interesting, as is Shahid Afridi, Virender Sehwag (who is a bit rare.. since he is a bit more conistent - although not as much compared to Dravid or Kallis).

  • swami on February 18, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    Actually, the legend was because he and Jayasuriya changed the style and expectations from the opening overs. Previously, even openers like Srikkanth or Saeed Anwar who were willing to be explosive in the opening overs primarily took advantage of bad balls. Kalu and Sanath tried to score quickly by taking on more risk. This approach (and the impact on the few occasions it came off) changed the relative role of the two teams in the opening overs, and led to evolution of the game.

    Exciting is not necessarily fully aligned with strike rate. Consider one batsman who takes a single off nearly every ball with good placement (Dravid did that pretty well on many occasions). Compare with another who faces four balls, hits one explosive boundary, defends one, swings and misses at a third, and hits another powerful shot that is well fielded. The second would be considered much more exciting.

    The bottom line is that statistics capture the factors that lead to impact only to a limited extent.

  • Sajid Rahim Sajjad on February 18, 2012, 3:08 GMT

    Well Sachin has both reputation and statsistical support but he has less effect on the match result

  • Anuj on February 18, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    Aravida de silva said that 'I was ready to go to bat even 3rd ball of the inning,we advised Kalu and Jayasuriya,play as u want, make runs,If u get out with low scores it isnt a problem,Just make quick runs '.he could tell like that because they had a strong batting line up as Gurusinghe,Aravinda,Arjuna,Hashan,Roshan and etc.

  • rizwan on February 18, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    Someone mentioned CARL HOOPER , what a player ( when he is not bored or when the Administrators leave him alone )

    Hooper never did justice to his his huge natural talent .What a waste , he could have been as good as a Tendulkar/Kallis/ Ponting. ( Lara is in a different league altogether, when it comes to sheer natural talent )

  • Liam on February 18, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    During Kalu's era a strike rate of 70 is equivalent to a strike rate of 100 now.

  • Bal on February 17, 2012, 22:10 GMT

    Abhijeet mentioned V. Sehwag's name so I had to look it up. He averages 35.48 in ODIs at a strike rate of 104.62. Thants higher than all the other batsmen mentioned above in the article depite the fact that he has batted in 236 innings.

    I agree that he is inconsistent though. But when it's his day, it's magical to watch him. The opposition teams don't prize his wicket like that for no reason.

  • Deepanjan Datta on February 17, 2012, 21:41 GMT

    Yep - the Kalu legend is a bit of known fact due to Cricinfo's own "On this day" columns. Ditto about Langer, who never quite cut it for ODIs despite very acceptable figures. And no one has scored as many with as high average other than SRT, as Kallis. With his bowling and slip fielding, he deserves much more respect. Here are a few more myth busters:

    1. Tamim Iqbal - ODI SR:79, T20I SR:92 ( turns out he isn't quite the dasher which we think) 2. Brad Williams - ODI bowling average:23.25 - better than Bracken, Kasprowicz and Tait who were preferred options when McGrath, Gillespie, or Lee didn't play. Williams (RF) knocked the bat out of Dravid's hand, and forced Ganguly to retire hurt with a bouncer in 2003. 3. Sourav Ganguly - has the 4th highest number of sixes in an ODI career of all players. At 190 such hits in 311 matches, he hit more sixes per match than messrs Ponting, Gibbs, Gilchrist, Sehwag and Jayasuriya!

  • Sai on February 17, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    Kalu's contributions go beyond mere numbers. I particular remember the Benson & Hedges trophy game where he took Glen Mcgrath to the cleaners and poor Glenn almost had a nervous breakdown(of course this never happened again to Mcgrath again!). Australia had made 240 odd on what appeared a slow pitch and a big ground, but Kalu made it look like 140. That really gave the Lankans the belief that they could world beaters. This seemed to rub off on the others particularly Jayasuriya who had a pretty ordinary series in Australia.

  • SRT_GENIUS on February 17, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    Dear readers, be careful in comparing stats across generations. Even today very few have a career strike rate above 100. In early 80s, probably a career strike rate of 80 would be like 95 now (with the exception of Viv).

  • Mehul on February 17, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    It'd be worthwhile to see, not Kalu's individual scores in the '96 WC, but his partnerships with Jayasuriya. Even if Kalu faced (say) 10 balls, the score would invariably be 50/0 in 7 overs, and THAT inspired the legend of the super-explosive Kalu and J.

  • Basim Khan on February 17, 2012, 19:11 GMT

    Just want to make one correction to the article. Kaluwitharana played 189 ODIs, not 102 as was written in the article. 102* was actually his highest score. On the point of him not being an explosive player, I recall how he and Sanath Jayasuriya smashed India apart in a group game of the 1996 World Cup. 50/0 after 5 overs, which is brilliant even by today's Twenty20 standards. Sometimes it just takes one game to make a legend.

  • Fahad Mir on February 17, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    I do believe Kalu and Jayasuriya have been credited for something that was started at least five years before them by Saeed Anwar, who was later joined by Aamer Sohail (to lesser effect). Until he arrived on the scene, with very few exceptions, most openers in ODIs saw the initial overs out without taking too many risks. Saeed saw nothing wrong in launching a fast bowler into the stands in the first over if the opportunity presented itself. He certainly was one of the sweetest timers of the ball I ever saw.

  • Parth Tiwari on February 17, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    i feel that flintoff was one of the most hyped players. i agree that he was the one playing inspirational knocks and bowling equally inspiring spells but could not carry on the same form post-ashes 2005.

  • Anush on February 17, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    Kaluwitharana was the Man of the Series of the group stages of that 1995 B&S World Series. That was an exceptional achievement considering the times of the incident and venue. No wonder some of the Aussie based commentators took some liking to him.

  • pradyot on February 17, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    Looking at strike rates over a career can be a little decieving, while trying to establish a batsman's destructitve potential. For example , strike rates on flat pitches can be expected to be higher than on bouncy pitche, or the slow and low variety. Just based on which team you play for you are bound to recieve an abundance of one kind and a paucity of some of the others. Another thing is a one dayer spread over 50 overs requires different strike rates at different times. So a strike rate exceeding 100 in the first 10 or last 10 overs is replaced by a stead trot during the middle overs. Unless you never manage to make it into the middle overs , your strike rates are bound to be lower than they would be in the 20-20 variety.

  • sk12 on February 17, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    Career strike rate is not a correct indicator as to how fast a batsman scores. Atleast a third of every batsmen's innings will be a low score - like 0 in 6, 5 in 12 etc. They really scew the numbers, and must be ignored if you are interested to only check how aggresive a batsman is. You have to consider the batsmen's strike rate only in innings where have passed 15 runs. By this analysis, Kalu's strike rate is well over 100 in the World cup and Benson & Hedges cup you have mentioned. Pretty sure Slater's would be much higher than Taylor's and probably even Kallis'.

  • Yasser on February 17, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    I have heard Mohammed hafeez many times being described as Dashing, Solid, Reliable when opening, Good at chasing targets, Playing well under pressure and having a Good technique. He, sadly, is none of the above mentioned things. He can bowl some handy offspin but as an opener, his job is to score big hundreds. He averages 26 in ODI's and 35 odd in test matches with 2 centuries, which I believe are against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. He also looks like he will be the next Pakistan captain. Michael - I beg you to save Pakistan cricket and write a piece on the "Legend of Hafeez".

  • Mohammed Talha on February 17, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    People mention Saeed Anwar in the same light. Bowlers feared his abilities when he was on strike. His career ODI SR was around 80 with an average touching 40. For a free flowing stroke maker, those are some really good stats. The thing that I found really strange was his test numbers. A decent average of 45.5 as an opener but a career test SR of just 55??? What's wrong with that picture?

  • Abhijeet on February 17, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    How would we forget the ultimate Myth we have now. Virender sehwag...lol...look at his ODI stats and you will realize, how much over-hyped he is. Great Test player no doubts. In ODIs mediocre.....

  • Sameer on February 17, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    The legacy a player leaves behind is the criteria for his legendary stature. The stats are just those arithematic things. Lot of people would to amazed to know the fact that Ganguly and Dravid had almost similar SR. If you ask who was the 'explosive' among two, well, it's obvious. So, appreciate the legacy, mate.

  • Roshan Fernando on February 17, 2012, 17:01 GMT

    Well you are right - stats wise Kalu was nowhere close to his more illustrious partner in bashing ie. Sanath Jayasuriya. And he got just about 70 odd runs in the entire 1996 world cup. BUT what he did was to begin the pounding of bowlers from the outset although he never went beyond 30 in any of those matches. Yet the attitude he displayed had a positive effect on Jayasuriya. It was like the role Herbert Lom played up for the great Peter Sellers in the hilarious Pink Panther series. Lom was nowhere near Sellers in terms of class in comedy but he sure managed to bring out the best in Sellers in their unforgettable encounters.

  • Hari S on February 17, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    We normally tend to think of Sourav Ganguly as a much better ODI batsman than Rahul Dravid. But their numbers are quite similiar

    Sourav - 41.02 (73.70) Rahul - 39.16 (71.24)

  • kashif manzoor on February 17, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    I would love to see you searching the real explosive machine who changed the modern day odi's in 90's..

  • Johnny Rook on February 17, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    I think a guy playing 3 dots and a boundary seems faster than a guys who takes 4 singles. Dravid & Ganguly didn't have much difference in ODI strike rates(71.2 & 73.7 resp) but the difference in perception is vast. Dravid was considered a wall and Ganguly was a dasher. Also test performance sways the ODI perception a great deal. Their test strike rates are 42 and 51 resp, a large difference. So people just assume that Dravid is slow in ODIs too. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is another guy who is incorrectly considered as slow . He has an ODI strike rate of 70. How many people would guess that he is loads faster than Michael Slater (SR 60). Again this might be bcoz Chanders is fairly slower than Slater in tests.

  • Renuk on February 17, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    One significant factor maybe the percentage of runs scored off boundaries. I haven't checked them all but Kalu scored 60% of his runs in boundaries, an Kallis less than 50%. Obviously the boundaries are remembered more than the singles....

  • sajjo on February 17, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    very true article! one example is tendulkar who strike rate is 86 in over 400 ODIS yet he is not classed as very aggressive. I remember a special 11 which cricinfo picked about dashing batsmen and gayle, lara, etc were there and their strike rates are alot lower than sachins. I think players are remembered more for their style of play rather than their actual stats.

  • Toby Miller on February 17, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    When World Series Cricket began in 1977-78, Packer advertised Tony Greig as 'the master batsman' and throughout their careers, both Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff were regarded as explosive one-day players, whereas their explosions (understood with a positive connotation!) occurred in Test matches

  • Ashtung on February 17, 2012, 14:57 GMT

    Something tells me even this column's going to end up in a long, boring debate about Sachin's credibility...

    My pick would be Rahul Dravid, with a Strike rate of 70+, not as sleep-inducing as he's made out to be

  • asheem on February 17, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    Excellent article. You really did explode the explosive with some cold hard facts.

  • S on February 17, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    What are the stats for Kris Srikkanth and the one who shall not be named (Hansie)? They were 'excitement machines' from what I hear from people before my time.

  • Deepak Rao on February 17, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Rahul Dravid and the fact that he has scored only 4 test centuries against SA and Aus in total and still regarded as one of the best batsmen overseas and quality pace bowling

  • akz on February 17, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    Romesh Kaluwitharanas facts may not allign with his legenad..But I see no problem in that because facts never say the correct story. Kaluwithara was an unselfish batsman,vibrant wicket keeper and a person with great charisma. All of these factors add to the legend world recognise. What you have mention about Jachque Kalis can be true. He has figures better than even the great Viv Richards. But the eefectiveness of the figures is what matters in making legend. I can safely rate Shaihid Afridi greater than even Sachin Tendulkar in this aspect. Kalus average is poor as you have proven in your artcile. But you also have to take into consideration the era that he played. There was no T20 at that time. Countries did not played with each other the same amount nowadys playing. In this context Kalu managed to be in a world cup winning side and did his bit to make them win that world cup in a manner that world remebers even to day. Those kind of stunts make you a legend.

  • Sohil Gandhi on February 17, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    I guess Justin Langer was of a kind, branded as a Test Cricketer. His SR in the 8 ODIs that he played was 88.88 with an average of 32.00. However, he was considered a Test player and never got the opportunities that he should have got.

  • Kunal on February 17, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Myths and legend are two sides of the same coin, and stats tend to be a dampener. (Sample the late Ben Hollioake, Gus Logie, or even Carl Hooper.) Kalu was a special pinch-hitter/opener just for his flamboyance, especially on Australian grounds. Quite a spectacle, which is why Greig finds him so memorable. On the field, when Kalu batted, he could completely upset a bowler's plans with what he did or threatened to do. After the 1996 WC, pinch-hitters became a standard practice, and Kalu's form was awrier than during the victorious World Cup. But he was still feared. For me, he was more devestating than Jayasuriya.

  • Sam on February 17, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    Easy one there. Sachin Tendulkar. Looking at his statistics a layman would infer that he must have won hundreds of matches for India, but if you look at the real picture, it's pretty dismal.

  • Robin Hobbs on February 17, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    I agree Michael. The Kalu myth has been propounded for years. Of course you had Jayasuria at the other end who really was blasting the bowling to all parts (for instance 80-odd off 40-something balls against England in that World Cup as I recall), and the legend of Kalu seems to have got swept along in his wake.

  • Anonymous on February 17, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    i noticed this was when warne claimed three wickets and set sail for a fabulous career. one never took off after this while other one became a legend. life is funny

  • Tom on February 17, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    It's a little known fact that Chris Tavare had a scoring rate in excess of 110 in Tests, and is only remembered as being boring because he frequently batted with the more "explosive" Geoff Boycott...

    Sorry, I just made that up.

    Pietersen and Flintoff are two who come to mind as benefitting from repuations built on remembered impressions of a couple of innings; while a few years back (either just before or after the 2006-7 Ashes) the average and strike rate of Ashley Giles and Monty Panesar were almost identical, despite one being the exciting bowler that would change the team's fortunes and the other exemplifying all that was wrong.

  • asad on February 17, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    afridi ... big reputation small contributions indeed ... but he has done extremely well with the ball to justify his place in the team.

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  • asad on February 17, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    afridi ... big reputation small contributions indeed ... but he has done extremely well with the ball to justify his place in the team.

  • Tom on February 17, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    It's a little known fact that Chris Tavare had a scoring rate in excess of 110 in Tests, and is only remembered as being boring because he frequently batted with the more "explosive" Geoff Boycott...

    Sorry, I just made that up.

    Pietersen and Flintoff are two who come to mind as benefitting from repuations built on remembered impressions of a couple of innings; while a few years back (either just before or after the 2006-7 Ashes) the average and strike rate of Ashley Giles and Monty Panesar were almost identical, despite one being the exciting bowler that would change the team's fortunes and the other exemplifying all that was wrong.

  • Anonymous on February 17, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    i noticed this was when warne claimed three wickets and set sail for a fabulous career. one never took off after this while other one became a legend. life is funny

  • Robin Hobbs on February 17, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    I agree Michael. The Kalu myth has been propounded for years. Of course you had Jayasuria at the other end who really was blasting the bowling to all parts (for instance 80-odd off 40-something balls against England in that World Cup as I recall), and the legend of Kalu seems to have got swept along in his wake.

  • Sam on February 17, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    Easy one there. Sachin Tendulkar. Looking at his statistics a layman would infer that he must have won hundreds of matches for India, but if you look at the real picture, it's pretty dismal.

  • Kunal on February 17, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Myths and legend are two sides of the same coin, and stats tend to be a dampener. (Sample the late Ben Hollioake, Gus Logie, or even Carl Hooper.) Kalu was a special pinch-hitter/opener just for his flamboyance, especially on Australian grounds. Quite a spectacle, which is why Greig finds him so memorable. On the field, when Kalu batted, he could completely upset a bowler's plans with what he did or threatened to do. After the 1996 WC, pinch-hitters became a standard practice, and Kalu's form was awrier than during the victorious World Cup. But he was still feared. For me, he was more devestating than Jayasuriya.

  • Sohil Gandhi on February 17, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    I guess Justin Langer was of a kind, branded as a Test Cricketer. His SR in the 8 ODIs that he played was 88.88 with an average of 32.00. However, he was considered a Test player and never got the opportunities that he should have got.

  • akz on February 17, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    Romesh Kaluwitharanas facts may not allign with his legenad..But I see no problem in that because facts never say the correct story. Kaluwithara was an unselfish batsman,vibrant wicket keeper and a person with great charisma. All of these factors add to the legend world recognise. What you have mention about Jachque Kalis can be true. He has figures better than even the great Viv Richards. But the eefectiveness of the figures is what matters in making legend. I can safely rate Shaihid Afridi greater than even Sachin Tendulkar in this aspect. Kalus average is poor as you have proven in your artcile. But you also have to take into consideration the era that he played. There was no T20 at that time. Countries did not played with each other the same amount nowadys playing. In this context Kalu managed to be in a world cup winning side and did his bit to make them win that world cup in a manner that world remebers even to day. Those kind of stunts make you a legend.

  • Deepak Rao on February 17, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Rahul Dravid and the fact that he has scored only 4 test centuries against SA and Aus in total and still regarded as one of the best batsmen overseas and quality pace bowling

  • S on February 17, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    What are the stats for Kris Srikkanth and the one who shall not be named (Hansie)? They were 'excitement machines' from what I hear from people before my time.