Golden Pairs Golden PairsRSS FeedFeeds
Cricket writers on their dream match-ups

Aesthetics above all

Four players who thrilled the senses like few could

Rob Steen

February 2, 2009

Text size: A | A



Clockwise from above left: Gower, Lara, McKenzie, Edmonds © Getty Images
Enlarge

There are two choices for a selector plunged into this delicious predicament. Do you make the criteria competitiveness? Or focus on aesthetics, on sensual enrichment?

In the first scenario, give me Viv Richards, Steve Waugh, Dennis Lillee and SF Barnes. The art of competition, after all, lies in never giving your opponent the slightest whiff of a hint that they might just possibly have your measure. This quartet wouldn't know a losing cause if it came up to them, kissed them on the lips and offered to have their babies.

But I'm an Option 2 man by nature, and the senses must be served, which means sacrificing exhilaration for beauty. Tom Graveney's elegance seduced an eight-year-old soccer fanatic who'd just discovered the wonders of the Dutch masters (no, not Cruyff and Gullit but Rembrandt and Van Dyck), but David Gower had a broader palette and made even Tom's cover-drive look robotic. More sublime yet was Brian Lara, the Dali of the crease, range as vast as his touch was exquisite. Here, as with Gower, was willow/brush wielded as extension of self.

Graham McKenzie was almost too poised and stately for a fast bowler, but with that rockin'-in-rhythm approach and tennis-serve gather he could have modelled for Leonardo. Tempting as it is to celebrate the unique shapes and curves thrown by the freshly departed Hedley Howarth, Phil Edmonds pips Bishan Bedi for the artful dodger's slot courtesy a livelier action and an even wider streak of flamboyance: Lichtenstein meets Kandinsky. Pity Sergio Leone is no longer around to direct the movie. Once Upon A Time In The Middle anyone?

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

RSS Feeds: Rob Steen

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Rob SteenClose
Rob Steen Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton, whose books include biographies of Desmond Haynes and David Gower (Cricket Society Literary Award winner) and 500-1 - The Miracle of Headingley '81. His investigation for the Wisden Cricketer, "Whatever Happened to the Black Cricketer?", won the UK section of the 2005 EU Journalism Award "For diversity, against discrimination"
Related Links

    'Lara v McGrath was a great battle of our generation'

Dravid and Manjrekar discuss Brian Lara's adaptability

    'Bailey should lead Australia in the World Cup'

Bowl at Boycs: Geoff Boycott on why keepers don't make good captains

    A good time to invest in Smith stock

Mark Nicholas: Australia's new captain has shown more responsibility in his batting without shedding his youthful bravado

    'Why I was dropped is still an unsolved mystery'

Former India opener Madhav Apte talks about his short-lived Test career, and touring the West Indies

Was it right to play the fourth ODI?

Ahmer Naqvi: Why there really is no point in the PCB trying to get international cricket back to Pakistan

News | Features Last 7 days

The terrifying bouncer

When Mitchell Johnson hit Virat Kohli on the helmet with a bouncer, Australian fielders came from everywhere. Mental disintegration had gone, replaced by the cricket unity. Two teams, one family.

Johnson and Kohli fight their demons

From the bouncer that struck him on the badge of his helmet to the bouncer that dismissed him, Virat Kohli's century, and his duel with Mitchell Johnson, made for compelling human drama

The perfect Test

After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.

Kohli attains batting nirvana

Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat

Australia in good hands under proactive Smith

The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game

News | Features Last 7 days