|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Games||Mobile|
No dressing room can be big enough for more than one of these three allrounders - all flash, all action
August 7, 2009
If, on balance, Australia have had the better of the previous two rounds in this poll, then here's a category that's designed to redress the balance. The names in the hat for England's allrounder slot are a select and elite trio. At a pinch, other names might have come into consideration, but frankly, what would be the point? Tony Greig, Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff are three such dominant characters - especially with the Aussies in their sights - that the trawl for allrounder contenders was short and to the point.
Let's take the names in chronological order, and first out of the traps comes Greig - tall, blond, strapping, and a man who never took a backwards step. At 6'7", he was built to intimidate his rivals, and while he was far from express as a paceman, he was cunning and steeped in variations, not least a tidy line in offspin, that earned him 13 wickets in a series-sharing victory in the Caribbean.
The abiding memory of Greig, however, was the sight of him signalling his own boundaries during a ludicrously brave century against Lillee and Thomson, in Brisbane in 1974-75. By bowling bouncers to the Aussies in the opening salvos of the series, Greig had started a fight that he could not hope to win, but typically he took it upon himself to front up for his error of judgment, just as he did when he "grovelled" at The Oval in 1976, after his ill-advised comments about West Indies.
Because of his involvement with Kerry Packer, Greig's career barely overlapped with that of his successor, Botham, although in many ways it's just as well, for it's hard to imagine how any dressing room could have been big enough for both. As a genuinely attacking outswing bowler, Beefy in his pomp was an outstanding and incisive paceman, and to this day he remains England's leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. Factor in the small matter of 14 Test centuries, including two in quick succession in the incredible summer of 1981, and his record speaks for itself.
And then last, but hardly least, is Flintoff - England's colossus du nos jours. Slow to fulfill his potential, and ravaged by injury when he ought to have been in his prime, there's little hope of the man's stats ever living up to the impact he made on the game. But every once in a while, when form and fitness came together, he was irresistible. The summer of 2005 was his zenith, but the three years from 2003 were his pomp. And that glorious final morning at Lord's last month could yet prove to have been a fitting last hurrah.
Rob Steen: It's time to turn the stump mikes all the way up, and leave them that way
South Australia chief, Keith Bradshaw, battled cancer throughout 2013, but is now ready for the Adelaide Test
Martin Crowe: He and the rest of England's top players will have to stand up and be counted in Adelaide
Russell Jackson: Cricket Australia is working to engage new and old fans, but it faces a threat from outside
Nicholas Hogg: Just as Mitchell Johnson has risen from the ashes of cricket ignominy and ridicule, England need a new hero of the hour to inspire their fightback
Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur
They must respond to the Australian bowling threat adequately or the series will slip away from them fast
In all the talk of Bombay's credentials as a historical stronghold of Indian cricket, a region to the north gets overlooked