Tendulkar, Warne, Kallis in line to be voted cricketer of the generation
Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne and Jacques Kallis, the most successful batsman, bowler and allrounder respectively of the recent past, are the leading contenders for ESPNcricinfo's Cricketer of the Generation award. The award, to be presented on March 14, will honour the most outstanding cricketer between the years 1993 and 2013, and will cap ESPNcricinfo's 20th anniversary celebrations.
Muttiah Muralitharan and Brian Lara also received nominations from a 50-member jury, comprising leading cricketers, cricket writers and commentators, but didn't make the cut for a place in the final three.
Last November, Tendulkar ended a storied 24-year-career during which he set many of the most coveted batting records, including those for most Test runs and Test hundreds, and for most ODI runs and ODI hundreds. A complete batsman with no apparent weaknesses, he was the first to score a hundred international centuries, a mark that may never be broken. He is also arguably the biggest icon the game has ever known.
Warne was another cricketer adored by the crowds, both for his charisma and his flamboyant bowling. He made legspin fashionable again, mixing a garguantan legbreak with an array of straighter deliveries, and landing them all with unprecedented accuracy. He was the first bowler to 700 Test wickets, was Man-of-the-Match in the semi-final and final of the 1999 World Cup, and his delivery to bamboozle Mike Gatting in 1993 is perhaps the most famous one in the game's history.
Kallis is a lower-profile performer than the other two candidates for the award, but he was without doubt the outstanding allrounder of his generation, and prompted comparisons with the greatest allrounder of them all, Garry Sobers. As a batsman alone, his record bears comparison with the very best - over 10,000 runs each in Tests and ODIs. In addition, he took 577 international wickets with his pace bowling, besides being among the safest slip fielders.
The winner will be announced on March 14 in Mumbai at ESPNcricinfo's annual awards, now in their seventh year. The awards recognise the best individual batting and bowling performances in cricket over 2013. Previous winners include Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi, Virender Sehwag, Dale Steyn, Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga.
"The 20 years of ESPNcricinfo's existence have coincided with one of the great periods in cricket," editor-in-chief Sambit Bal said. "The '90s would count among the most competitive eras in the history of the game - both in terms of the contest between bat and ball, and the overall standard of teams. So it seemed right for us to wind up our 20th anniversary celebrations by honouring the most outstanding cricketer of this generation."
ESPNcricinfo's 20th anniversary celebrations also included a series of summits with former greats such as Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh and Ian Chappell to discuss the game's big issues.