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Good things in small packages

Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin pose for a photo AllSportUK

Tich Freeman
The appropriately nicknamed Freeman was, at 5ft 2in, England's shortest Test cricketer. Although he took 66 wickets in a dozen Tests in the 1920s, he struggled against Australia (eight wickets at 57), whose batsmen used their feet well against his slow-tossed but big-turning legbreaks. But at domestic level Tich was a Kentish colossus: in 1928, aged 40, he took a mind-boggling 304 wickets in first-class cricket, and passed 200 in each of the next seven seasons as well. My favourite picture of Freeman has him standing at the front of a group of players, wearing - in the days well before co-ordinated team kit - a white cardigan, very possibly knitted by his mother.

Sachin Tendulkar
Tendulkar may be only 5ft 5in tall - or maybe a fraction less - but his batting figures are stratospheric: it's only a matter of time before international century No. 100. And when he made his international debut late in 1989, aged just 16, he was probably an inch or two off his full height - not that that seemed to faze him much either. Sachin is a smidgeon taller than his predecessor as India's pint-sized batting colossus, Sunil Gavaskar (5ft 4in).

Alvin Kallicharran
Kallicharran was a short, stylish left-hander who did great things for West Indies, for whom he hit hundreds in his first two Tests in 1971-72, and Warwickshire (including a double-century in a one-day game). But probably his best-remembered innings came in the first World Cup, in 1975, when - in pre-helmet days - he launched a memorable assault on Dennis Lillee at The Oval, pulling and hooking him to shreds as West Indies sailed to victory over Australia in an early group game. The bare-headed Kalli, little more than 5ft 4in tall, collected 35 runs off 10 successive balls from the increasing irate Lillee (4444414604).

Mushfiqur Rahim
The youngest man ever to play in a Test at Lord's, Mushfiqur looked barely taller than the stumps when he bounced out to face England aged 16 in May 2005. He still resisted for longer - 85 minutes - than any of his team-mates as they collapsed to 108 all out on the first day. Mushfiqur has grown a little since then, but Bangladesh's regular wicketkeeper - and vice-captain - is still only about 5ft 3in tall.

Syd Gregory
Gregory was one of the shortest of Australian Test cricketers at 5ft 5in. This was possibly with his boots on: Wisden called him "small of stature - he was little more than five feet in height". He was born at what is now the Sydney Cricket Ground, where his father Ned - who had played in the first Test of all in 1876-77 - was the groundsman, and Syd toured England no fewer than eight times for Ashes series between 1890 and 1912, when he was 42 and a rather reluctant captain. Gregory was a fine fielder, but his batting record in 58 Tests (an unmatched 52 of them against England) was fairly modest, 2282 runs at 24.53, including 201 in Sydney in 1894-95, in a match England won after following on. Before that, he had reached double figures only once in 11 attempts in Tests.

Parthiv Patel
During India's tour of England in 2002 the baby-faced wicketkeeper Patel, 17 and little over 5ft tall at the time (he's grown an inch or two since), was sometimes mistaken for the team mascot. But he showed fighting spirit with the bat, and had a run in the Test side before mistakes behind the stumps cost him his place. Parthiv has improved his batting since then - he scored more than 1100 runs at 58 in India in 2007-08, and averaged over 50 in each of the next two seasons too - although ironically the spectacular rise of MS Dhoni has meant a place behind the stumps is out of the question, barring accidents. Parthiv could return as a specialist batsman, though.

David Williams
Another wicketkeeper of short stature, Trinidad's Williams was 5ft 4in but looked even tinier, possibly because his international team-mates included Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, who were both nearer seven feet than six. Williams played 11 Tests and 36 ODIs for West Indies before modest form with the bat cost him his place, although he did play a major part in winning a Test against England in Port-of-Spain in 1997-98, with 65 in three and a half hours as the Windies successfully chased down 282 to win by three wickets. Williams later had a brief stint as West Indies' interim coach.

Tatenda Taibu
A relative giant now at 5ft 5ins, Taibu looked like the schoolboy he was when he toured England with Zimbabwe in 2000. He turned 17 during that trip, and made his Test debut the following year: before he was 21 he was captaining a beleaguered side as a series of damaging disputes forced several senior players out. But Taibu maintained high standards behind the stumps and with the bat - he averages a touch under 30 in Tests and ODIs - and even starred occasionally with the ball, once becoming the first designated wicketkeeper to take his side's first wicket in a Test (mind you, Sri Lanka had scored 281 for 0 at the time, in Harare in May 2004).

Tich Cornford
Probably Tich Freeman's closest rival as the shortest England cricketer of them all, another Tich - Walter Latter Cornford - kept wicket for Sussex for almost 20 years, and in the four Tests in New Zealand in 1929-30. His five catches in that series included three off fast bowler Maurice Allom, who featured last week as one of the tallest Test players. According to Wisden, Cornford "stood not much more than five feet" in height: Allom was 6ft 6.

Gundappa Viswanath
Sunil Gavaskar's brother-in-law, and even smaller than him at around 5ft 3in, "Vishy" on song was a delight, using quick footwork and strong wrists to send the ball all around the ground. He made a century in his first Test and - unlike any of the other Indians who had done that at the time - added more, 13 more in fact, including a colossal 222 against England in Madras (now Chennai) in 1981-82.

Harry Pilling
Admittedly he wasn't quite an international cricketer, but Pilling, who stood just 5ft 3in tall, was a popular prop of the strong Lancashire one-day side of the 1970s, frequently featuring in their many televised matches, during which Jim Laker habitually called him Little "Arry Pillin". He was a good fielder, and with the bat a deflecter of the ball par excellence. An enduring image is of Pilling in mid-pitch with the rangy Clive Lloyd, who was about a foot taller.