Once there was a teacher who asked her students “What is this?” and showed a blank white paper with a small black dot on it. The students had various answers, “Blackhole, Ink, a dot, a full-stop, a scar, a ball.” From science to English grammar, there were many answers coming from different ranges, but none of them were right.
When the students had finally given up, the teacher’s breathtaking reply left everyone gobsmacked. “It is a white paper. Just because there’s a dot in it, doesn’t take away it’s true identity right?” Said the teacher, throwing light on the mistake most humans do in their daily life. We focus so much on the smaller things and sometimes fail to identify the bigger picture.
A lot of cricketers were in the spotlight for such reasons in the past. Despite achieving many things than most could ever imagine, the one odd record they missed was always highlighted like that black dot in the white paper. Here are some of those metaphorical dots in some legendary cricketers’ careers which the fraternity hasn’t forgotten yet.
1. Sir Don Bradman – Average of 100 in Test cricket
Don Bradman in 1930. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Without a debate, Sir Donald Bradman not getting to the elusive 100 average mark in Test cricket will be a talking point as long as the game exists. After he was dismissed for a 2-ball duck in the final innings of his career, Bradman finished with an average of 99.94, a record which still remains intact with no one even remotely close.
Bradman had given so many unforgettable moments in his illustrious career for the Australian side, most of which came against arch-rivals England. He scored 6,996 runs alongside 29 centuries (which includes 12 double tons and 2 triple tons) and was a nightmare for every bowler of that generation. Even in First-class cricket, he averaged more than 95, another one of his indelible records.
Yet, the 100 he never achieved was a huge miss in the minds of many. Whilst a lot think so, some people see it with poetic beauty and glare at how beautifully underrated is this word named “Imperfection”. Despite not getting there, Sir Don will forever remain as cricket’s most prolific run-getter of all time.
2. Sachin Tendulkar – A hundred at the Lord’s
Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
A billion dreams weighed on his shoulders every time he came out to bat, yet he never succumbed. Sachin Tendulkar, during his mind-boggling 24-year stint in International cricket, faced more hardships than any other International cricketer in terms of mental pressure and burden of expectations.
He achieved everything in his career, more than 30,000 International runs, highest run-scorer in Test cricket, highest run-scorer in ODIs, most centuries in both formats and also, 100 International centuries, 29 more than the second-best. Yet, his name was never there on the Lord’s honours board.
Sachin Tendulkar never scoring a hundred at the iconic Lord’s was always a talking point when he travelled to England. It slipped out of people’s memory since his retirement, but the great man would definitely have loved to score one. Having said that, we could also raise the question as to who is a bigger loser to not have Tendulkar on that list.
3. Ricky Ponting – Never won a Test match as a captain in India
Ricky Ponting of Australia acknowledges the crowd. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Arguably one of the greatest leaders in sporting history, Ricky Ponting‘s army marched over the dead men they killed with brutality and travelled a distance not many could even dream of. As a captain, he was on the losing side in just 51 ODIs having captained the side in a staggering 230 games. That stat sums up his team’s dominance in world cricket.
Yet, there are some statistics which were out of reach even for the great leader from Tasmania. Ricky Ponting never won a Test match as captain in India, despite playing 7 matches in this country. His side drew twice and lost five games in those seven attempts.
For someone who went and conquered every place, this was quite a miss. The subcontinent always provides a tough challenge for non-Asian sides, from the weather to the vicious turning tracks. Yet, his record as a captain in Test cricket is second only to the Proteas legend Graeme Smith.
4. MS Dhoni – Never won a bilateral series in South Africa as a captain
MS Dhoni. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
A name which resurrected dead hopes just the way Sachin Tendulkar did during his illustrious career, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one of the most celebrated and revered cricketers in the history. He carries an aura like no other and his unparalleled calmness continued to astonish the world for a long period of time.
MS Dhoni is the only captain to have won all the three existing ICC Trophies (Champions Trophy, World Cup, World T20) and that is a record which might never be touched by another. He did have some hard times during his Test captaincy, but he was revolutionary in Indian cricket who played a crucial role in making this team a fantastic fielding unit.
But much to his disappointment, he never won a bilateral series in South Africa as a captain. He achieved that in every other country he toured, but not here despite playing five different bilateral series in the rainbow nation spanning in two tours. He achieved it as a player though in 2017, where under the stewardship of Virat Kohli, India won the 6-match ODI series 5-1.
5. Mahela Jayawardene – Batting average of 50 in Test cricket
Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka skies the ball. (Mandatory Credit: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT)
Not all the legends of the game get the credit they deserve, definitely not this man from Sri Lanka named Mahela Jayawardene. He was an artist who painted pictures which were deep and meaningful, yet the aggressors always took away the limelight. He still remains as one of the most stylish batsmen of all time.
One of the few cricketers in the history with over 10,000 runs in both formats, Jayawardene announced his retirement from Tests in August 2014. While playing the final innings of his career, he needed 90 or more runs to finish with a 50+ average in the longest format. He got out for 54 and finished with an average of 49.84.
Apart from being a gritty presence and a masterful batsman, he was often hailed for his splendid sportsmanship on and off the field. He excelled in every format of the game despite many doubting his ability in the shortest format. He was a pretty special presence in the game and will be remembered for all the great work he did.
6. Virender Sehwag – Three triple tons
Virender Sehwag of India. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Various experts in the past have termed Virender Sehwag as one of the finest entertainers of the game alongside some immortals like Sir Vivian Richards, Sanath Jayasuriya and Adam Gilchrist. The Nawab of Najafgarh, as they call him, played with an entirely different and audacious frame of mind, one which no one will dare to replicate.
He became the first Indian to score a triple century in Test cricket and he got there with a six over mid-wicket while batting on 295 against Pakistan. A few years later, he joined a select list of cricketers with two triple hundreds, having smashed a blazing 319 against a fiery South African attack. No cricketer ever had scored two triple hundreds or came remotely close to hitting the third, but Sehwag did.
He was on 293 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai when everyone was in anticipation for a record-breaking third triple ton. But then, Muttiah Muralitharan came in the way and dismissed him against the run of play, making Sehwag regret on missing out a sensational opportunity to etch his name in history books forever.
7. Stephen Fleming – Never won a Test match in India as a captain
Stephen Fleming. (Photo Source: DEAN TREML/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand’s longest-standing captain of all time, Stephen Fleming was a fine ambassador of the game and one of the most elegant left-handers the game has seen. The southpaw led New Zealand in more than 300 International matches and is one of the three captains in cricket history to do so.
Just like Ricky Ponting, his great record as a leader has a small glitch to it. He too never won a Test match in India as a captain in five attempts spanning over two tours. Another interesting fact to take note is that his Kiwi side lost just once in those five attempts, with four of those games finishing in a stalemate.
Fleming didn’t have the greatest of teams, he only had a few talented players and was asked to make optimal use of them. He did so quite brilliantly, but the Kiwis under him never threatened to be world-beaters like that of the Aussies under Steve Waugh or Ponting.
8. Kumar Sangakkara – Second on the list of most double tons in Tests
Kumar Sangakkara. (Photo Source: Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Another iconic name from the Emerald Isle, Kumar Sangakkara is the highest run-scorer for their country in ODIs and Tests. He is the second-highest run-scorer in International cricket history and one of the finest left-handed batsmen to have graced the beautiful game.
Sangakkara’s ability to churn runs with ease in all three formats was remarkable and only a few in the contemporary world can match up to it. But one record which will make him itch out of regret is the number of double hundreds he scored in Test cricket. He accumulated 11 of them, just one less than the immortal Sir Don.
It almost seemed impossible for someone to get close to that record, but Sangakkara was there with power and time in hand. Yet, he could never equal the Aussie legend and remained one short. Among all those cricketers with 10,000 runs in the longest format, no one has a better batting average than the southpaw (57.40).
9. VVS Laxman – Never played a World Cup game
VVS Laxman. (Photo Source: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Every time VVS Laxman was out in the middle, the kindness and generosity were always palpable. His stroke-making was pretty gentle and pleasant to the eye and every time the ball left the wood, it would sound like music to ears. There was a reason why people hailed him “Very Very Special”.
Laxman was one of the finest middle-order batsmen of all time, accumulating runs under difficult circumstances for the country on numerous occasions. Yet, he was never considered suitable for the limited-overs. He did play 86 ODIs for the country but never represented them at the highest level, which is the ICC World Cup.
He was left out of the 15-man squad in both 2003 and 2007 squads. He was out of contention for the 2011 edition, which India won but it will always remain as a huge miss for the Hyderabadi cricketer who played some unforgettable knocks in the white jersey.
10. Mark Boucher – 1000 International dismissals
Mark Boucher wicket keeping. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Following the footsteps of Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher made his mark at the International level as a fantastic wicket-keeper batsman. Although Gilchrist was way more productive with the bat for the Aussies, Boucher played some handy knocks coming down the order and his notable contributions will be remembered for a long time to come.
Behind the stumps, Boucher was lightning quick with his movements and had amazing reflexes. All of these attributes reflect directly in his International statistics, which includes 555 dismissals in ODIs, 425 in Tests and 19 in T20Is – the aggregate of which is 999.
After getting hit on the eye by a vicious delivery from Imran Tahir in County cricket, Boucher was forced to hang his boots and remain one short of the unachieved. He could’ve become the first cricketer ever to reach that iconic milestone, but just the way it happened in the case of Bradman, his achievement was imperfect, yet sensational.
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