That's not in the manual

Not all cricketers are super-stylish. Sometimes they defy the coaching book, but get the job done

Steven Lynch

September 24, 2012

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Javed Miandad on his way to 50, Pakistan v West Indies, 2nd Test, Faisalabad, 2nd day, December 9, 1980
Javed Miandad: ugly but effective Adrian Murrell / © Getty Images
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Kepler Wessels
Perhaps the supreme example of artisanship over artistry, Wessels was crab-like at the crease, and rarely played a memorable shot. But he was devilishly difficult to dislodge, and scored valuable runs for Australia in his first incarnation as an international cricketer, then propped South Africa up in their early matches back in mainstream cricket. Wessels played 109 one-day internationals - 54 for Australia and 55 for South Africa - and was never out for a duck, easily a record.

Peter Willey
Over the years Willey's stance opened up so much that by the end of his career both his feet were pointing straight down the pitch, and if a spectator looked up quickly, he might have thought that the bowler had started to operate from square leg. But the resolute Willey scored two centuries in a 26-Test career that included the miracle of Headingley '81, and made almost 25,000 runs in first-class cricket before becoming an umpire (with a more orthodox stance).

Paul Adams
Surely the most convoluted bowling action of any international cricketer belonged to Adams. It was likened to a "frog in a blender" when he first crashed on to the scene, during England's tour of South Africa in 1995-96, but despite seemingly looking under his arm to the boundary behind him as he delivered the ball, Adams still managed to take 134 Test wickets for South Africa.

Jim Yardley
During a 15-year county career for Northamptonshire and Worcestershire, Yardley made more than 8000 runs, even though he "really only had one shot, the squirt to third man," according to an affectionate obituary in Wisden 2011. "You could post nine gullies and he'd still find a way through," remembered a rueful Mike Selvey, the former Middlesex and England fast bowler.

Andrew Jones
New Zealander Jones had a homespun batting technique that often involved him leaping off the ground to play his shots. But he was very effective, scoring nearly 3000 runs in both Tests and ODIs: in the shorter format he made a record 25 fifties without ever quite making it to 100. "His style wasn't pleasing to the eye," wrote Martin Crowe, his partner in a then-record stand of 467 against Sri Lanka in 1990-91, "but if I were to choose someone to bat for my life, that person would be Andrew Howard Jones."

Javed Miandad
The ultimate street-fighter, Miandad did not have the prettiest technique - but there weren't many holes in it. He scored nearly 9000 Test runs at an average of 52, played in a record six World Cups, and upset bowlers (and fielders, and occasionally umpires) from Lahore to Lord's. His ESPNcricinfo profile sagely states that "he was not of the classical school of batting, though he possessed a beautiful square cut and most shots in and outside the book".

Mike Procter
Procter had an ugly bowling delivery, in which his arm whirred over as he landed, open-chested, on his "wrong" foot - but no one has ever bowled quicker with such an action (and not many with conventional deliveries have matched it). He beat countless batsmen for pace - and if sheer speed wasn't enough, he could swing the ball late too, which helped him take two all-lbw hat-tricks. Procter's bowling might have been unorthodox, but his batting was straight out of the textbook: a beautiful driver of the ball, he equalled the first-class record, with six successive centuries in 1971.

Clarrie Grimmett
Short and bald, with an ever-present cap protecting his bare pate, Grimmett didn't look much like a Test cricketer... until he picked up the ball. Even then his round-arm delivery was not a thing of beauty - but he could make that ball talk, and was the first man to take 200 wickets in Tests, even though he didn't start until he was 33. Grimmett was, according to Sir Donald Bradman, "the best genuine slow legspinner, because of his great accuracy and control".


Colin Croft took 3 for 53, Sussex v Lancashire, semi-final, Gillette Cup, Hove, August 16, 1978
Colin Croft: not a pretty sight from the other end © PA Photos
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Shivnarine Chanderpaul
A batsman who appears to have read the coaching manual backwards, or possibly upside down, Chanderpaul somehow continues to churn out reliable runs. As the bowler reaches his delivery stride, Chanderpaul changes his peculiar open stance into a more orthodox one, then coaxes the ball to unlikely points of the compass using steely wrists and an amazing eye. It really shouldn't work but somehow it does, and has done for a long career that has now brought him over 10,000 Test runs and more caps for West Indies than anyone else.

Ken Mackay
Mackay was an unlovely left-hander for Queensland and Australia, and an unprepossessing medium-pacer with an almost round-arm delivery. But "Slasher" was one of the first names on the team sheet during Richie Benaud's successful captaincy, and played his part in the memorable 1960-61 series against West Indies that included the first tied Test: in the fourth match, in Adelaide, Mackay defended for the last two hours to stave off defeat (and deliberately wore the last ball, from Wes Hall, on the body to ensure he couldn't possibly be out caught). "He may have been a better player had I not interfered with his career when I was his captain," admitted Benaud. "I turned him from a high-scoring batsman into an allrounder because it suited me."

Colin Croft
It was one of the sights of the 1980s - thrilling in a way, unless you were the batsman in those early days of helmets. Hurtling in off a long run, Croft would weave sideways just before delivery, his arm would sweep up, and down would sizzle a thunderbolt from an open-chested action, the ball coming from somewhere near mid-off, as that late lurch had pitched him out away from the umpire, front foot well wide of the return crease. It was fiendishly difficult to cope with: Croft took 8 for 29 against Pakistan in only his second Test, and finished with 125 wickets from 27 Tests. Often amusing off the field, he was a different proposition on it: "Crofty would bounce his grandmother if he thought there was a wicket in it," said a team-mate.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012. Ask Steven is now on Facebook

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Posted by Waseef on (September 26, 2012, 17:45 GMT)

I'd like to add Graeme Smith to the list. His technique isn't good, but he has still been a fantastic player for the Proteas for almost ten years. His batting is unorthodox and yet he averages 50 in test cricket.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (September 26, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

How could you leave out Krish Srikkanth, the original MASTER BLASTER...???? Not to forget his "walks" towards square leg after every delivery....!!!!

Posted by Wharfeseamer on (September 25, 2012, 21:05 GMT)

Horror... No Murali, No Dhoni, No Malinga etc etc etc....

We know all these players, we have seen them all play in the last 10 years. We know their idiosyncrasies.

I never saw KD Mackay, Clarrie Grimmet or Jim Yardley play so it is good to read about them and hear of their foibles

This article is not a competition, it's an interest piece!

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (September 25, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

Ijaz Ahmed from pakistan was unorthodox too but he was effective player in ODI cricket.

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

Kim Barnett........Sylvester Clarke.........?

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

Jonty Rhodes' "superman" run out from the 1992 WC could also be added. :)

Posted by eletisandeep on (September 25, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

malinga, dhoni, sohail tanvir.

Posted by Roaring_Panther on (September 25, 2012, 4:19 GMT)

How come Malinga and LKumble are not here !!

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 4:10 GMT)

Although a number of candidates may be proposed as per opinions / memory of people, but I would like to draw attention towards Shoaib Muhammed, son of legendary Hanif Muhammed, who played for pakistan in 80s. A good allrounder with a reputation of one of the best fielders produced by Pakistan. Could not get much extended run in the team but believe me, people must remember his opening stance which comprised of two phases/steps - first taking guard a little outside leg stump and then creeping forward in front of stump - andthe most unusual part was the crouching body angle ridiculously strange having hips almost facing the bowler. Sorry if I described exaggeratedly or wrongly.

Posted by Tomwm on (September 25, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

This is a good list and throws up some names most of you wouldn't think of. There's no need to get upset if someone is missing. I agree Murali and Malinga are totally unorthodox, but we all knew that already. And as for Dhoni and Sewag, sure they play some pretty unorthodox strokes , but iin general they can and do play fairly textbook. Chanderpaul makes them look like Geoff Boycott in comparison (in technique I mean). Some other names to think of, I always thought Alan Knott , as a batsman, was totally unorthodox. Max Walker, Lance Cairns, both wrong footed bowlers but effective. Even Lara might go in here, no one has a backlift like that.

Posted by mtalhas on (September 25, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

which book or manual was followed to write this article? cricket has been existing for over hundred years. all the manuals need to be updated now. there have been so many unorthodox players. considering miandad, he is a complete institution with brains, a batting school of thought could be associated with him. I would add abdul qadir to this list as well. there was no style in this action but he was highly effective and a league above warne. another effective one down batsman was ijaz ahmad who gripped the bat wierdly and batted like a butcher being prone to 'bbw' (buttock before wicket).

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (September 25, 2012, 1:34 GMT)

The writer I think is suffering from a poor short term memory, a batsmen who haunted us just recently- Graeme Smith. When everything goes through square leg and behind off the front foot or hoiked through midwicket he is hardly orthodox. Very occasionally the ball goes on the offside and it is really surprising. And of course Morne Morkel's run starts off in the opposite direction before circling back round. But he is prone to going in the wrong direction anyway on returning from the middle.

Posted by Hercus on (September 24, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

Fielders who can't throw are definitely unorthodox, especially when they have to bowl the ball back from the outfield. Several West Indians have fallen into this category, but my pick would have to be the Englishman, Derek Pringle, who bowled the ball from long-on, hit the stumps, and ran out Dipak Patel for 99.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 21:08 GMT)

@Charindra Chandrasena: Virender Sehwag? Dude, just because Sehwag is an aggressive Test-match-level opener, it doesn't mean that he plays unorthodox shots. His footwork is ordinary but he plays authentic cricket shots. He is one of the most elegant, artistic batsmen to watch.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

What about the greatest of all time Sir Don Bradman,he had a technique which wasnt & still isnt(despite his great success) in the coaching manual.

Posted by rosspat on (September 24, 2012, 19:36 GMT)

Was expecting to see Lance Cairns on here - 130 test wickets bowling medium fasts off the wrong foot

Posted by Selassie-I on (September 24, 2012, 16:47 GMT)

Dhoni isn't really unorthodox, he plays some uppercuts and the helecopter but who doesn't these days. It is nice to read about some cricketers that aren't around any more that maybe everyone in the world hasn't heard of and seen play, would that not be a little boring? Rather than the 'OMG this list doesn't have SRT/MSD/Sehwag on it' reaction.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

Simon Katich could get a cap here. Taking guard on our just outside leg stump and then walking across his wicket to play his shots.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

Oh my god! This must be the worst Cricinfo XI that was ever compiled! Any discussion on unorthodoxy that doesn't even mention Sri Lanka loses all credibility in my opinion. Muralitharan (like duh!), Malinga, Ajantha Mendis, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sohail Tanvir, Dhoni, Sehwag not included!!! Especially if success is being considered. Ridiculous!

Posted by Hoggy_Bear on (September 24, 2012, 14:44 GMT)

Could have added Dennis Amiss or Ken Barrington to the 'front on stance' batsmen

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 14:24 GMT)

Dhoni, Malinga, Tanveer????

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

To broaden the remit to include ugly but effective fielders, in the 1970s Western Province had a very fine cover fielder called Chris Stevens. He concentrated so hard that his face set in a rictus grin or leer, which was off-putting when viewed through binoculars and must have been terifying for the batsmen.

Posted by robelgordo on (September 24, 2012, 12:42 GMT)

WHERE IS THAT RECENT CRICKETER EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS IS UNORTHODOX? WHY WOULD I WANT TO LEARN ABOUT NEW CRICKETERS?! RAGE!!!

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 11:39 GMT)

I cant believe Lasith Malinga is not there..As far as unusual non text book actions go , he is the pioneer!

Posted by Classy.Nerd on (September 24, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

Ajit Agarkar anyone ?? Why isnt he on this list..

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

WHAR MALINGA WHAR? . . . . . .

Posted by Haleos on (September 24, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

where is Sehwag? He is super effective. Atleast in Tests.

Posted by Dudeson on (September 24, 2012, 10:39 GMT)

What about Dhoni? I opened this article just for him.

Posted by spardak on (September 24, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

WHERE IS SOHAIL TANVIR? Why is he missing?

Posted by Pane on (September 24, 2012, 10:04 GMT)

what about Sohail Tanveer.

Posted by Jonathan_E on (September 24, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

There is no wicket keeper in the above list. I submit the name, mainly for his antics when batting, of Robert Charles "Jack" Russell.

Posted by Game_Gazer on (September 24, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

Sachin Tendulkar...there..I said it...no article escapes...;-)

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (September 24, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

Sehwag should have been in the list, I have not seen a player with that little footwork.

Posted by harshthakor on (September 24, 2012, 8:43 GMT)

Never forget Rohan Kanhai's falling hook shot which was his very own invention.I also am certain Denis Compton invented strokes of his very own-brilliant but unorthodox.No batsman rivalled Compton's creative genius in his time.In later years I would mark out Rohan Kanhai,Gundappa Vishwanath and Brian Lara as the equivalent of musical composers to the art of batting.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

where is dhoni in this list?? Dhoni in his long hair and the helicopter shot was by far the amongst the ugliest and the most effective players. :P

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 8:19 GMT)

You could easily come up with a second XI - Lasith "the slinger" Malinga, Daniel Vettori's "walk across the stumps and hit it" batting technique, and of course Gladstone Small (that he could bowl at all was a minor miracle)...

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

Good old Max 'Tangles' Walker comes to mind with his awkward front foot first action. And a pretty handy ruckman too!

Posted by SWIS on (September 24, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

We might be missing a couple from more recent times, like Murli and Malinga

Posted by Littletony on (September 24, 2012, 7:28 GMT)

Eh? Where is Mahendra Singh Dhoni? He has played some of the most ugly looking effective shots i have ever seen in my 20 years of cricket watching career. :D

Posted by Thangaraja. on (September 24, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

Where is Dhoni??? He deserves a place in this list for sure..

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

Where the hell is MS Dhoni?

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

I was watching the game last night and it took almost 10min before a commentator described Vettori as "unorthodox" - Ian Chappel broke the drought, I think it was a record.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

Where is Dhoni in the list? especially in tests :P

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

Dhoni should be at the top of this list. As much I'm not a fan of his, he is effective. But no question about how ugly his stroke play is.

Posted by jezzabo on (September 24, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

No one who saw him could forget Alan "Froggy" Thomson who played in the Ashes for Australia in 1970-71. He skipped in off a longish run, twirled both arms and finally delivered with his left arm tucked behind his neck. I was at Sydney for his first-class debut in 1969 or so, and the Hill nearly died laughing to a man when they saw him prance in. But he got a lot of Sheffield Shield wickets with a boomeranging inswinger.. However the likes of John Edrich sorted him out - let the big swingers curl across towards the slip then play his only variation ball - a fast-medium straight one off the hip behind square. And for unorthodox batsmen, I nominate the ODI version of Gary Kirsten - he had a knack of hitting short deliveries back down the ground to the undefended straight hit. Ugly but effective.

Posted by MaxB on (September 24, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

I played against Jim Yardley in the Birmingham League, after his county career had ended. Before my first game against him I asked our captain what he did - I was worried, I suppose, that a former county player might hit me all over the place. "He gets thirty against us every year", I was told, "all of them to third man." He made, I think, 28 or 29. His innings did include a couple of singles nudged on the on-side - the rest went in an arc between the wicket-keeper and gully.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

Malinga and Murali?.......................

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

I think we can add Ijaz Ahmed to the list.

Posted by CUPULW on (September 24, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

Steven Lynch, how could you leave out Murali, Malinga and Dhoni? Murali's elbow and wrists were never conventional; first time Allen Border saw Murali, he thought of a leg spinner (wrist sppinner) becoz of the flick.Less said about his deformed elbow the better. Malinga's slinging action has been compared to Thommo and Fidel Edwards but no one gets soclose to a horizontal arm at the crease. In fact there was talk if it was legal from some of the more conventional peeps LOL. Dhoni remains a man who scores runs anywhich way he can and not bother about the photo - ops for cameramen beyond boundary. Most of his strokes are unorthodox, even the simple forward defense looks nothing like in the coaching manual.

Posted by jonesy2 on (September 24, 2012, 4:37 GMT)

simon katich, phil hughes

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

What about Lasith Malinga, Simon Katich, Jimmy Amarnath to name a few

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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