Cricket is a battle on the pitch between bat and ball without a doubt. The numbers go down in the scoresheet, which later becomes the documentation of a player’s performance in his career. However, as much as cricket is a physical game, it’s mental aspect can’t be brushed aside by any stretch of the imagination.
Playing for the national team comes with loads of pressure and expectations. In the heat of the moments, it can becomes extremely tough to make the decisions, which serves the purpose for the concerned people.
Formulating tactics and strategies are crucial elements of a team’s success. The teams with the smartest decision makers often out-think their opponents and come out trumps. Over the years, a number of players, who were great readers of the illustrious sports, emerged.
In the article, let’s take a look at the smartest brains in cricket: –
1. MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni forayed into international cricket in 2004 against Bangladesh and was run out in the very first innings of his career. However, it didn’t deter him from his march towards glory. As his career progressed the records kept coming at the rate of knots.
At times, he made some decisions, which baffled many to start with. But Dhoni’s backed his intuitions and those went on to work wonders. In 2007, 2011 and 2013, he won the T20 World Cup, the 50-over World Cup and the Champions Trophy respectively.
In fact, he is the only captain to have won all the ICC trophies. The Jharkhand-born established himself as someone, who hardly allowed pressure to unnerve him. Being a keeper, the 38-year-old kept giving bowlers suggestions, helping them read the batsmen’s mind to perfection.
2. Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock has taken over as the South Africa T20 skipper back in September 2019, replacing Faf du Plessis. Right away, he tasted defeat as the Proteas got the better of Team India in the third T20I at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Thereafter, the southpaw was given the role in the ODI format during the series against England. And he didn’t flatter to deceive by any means. Mark Boucher, the head coach of the national team, was impressed with him to such an extent that he drew De Kock’s parallel with Dhoni.
Boucher felt that Quinton had the potential to replicate what Dhoni has done for Team India over the time period. The veteran lauded the youngster for some clever fielding moves that led to the dismissals of opposition skipper Eoin Morgan and Joe Root.
3. Clive Lloyd
Sir Clive Lloyd was one of the greatest cricketers West Indies have ever produced. Back in 1975 when the cricket world was still understanding the dynamics of the ODI format, the Caribbean team won the inaugural World Cup. At the Lord’s Cricket Ground, Lloyd got to lift the trophy.
Then again in 1979, Lloyd’s men again became the champions. Even in 1983, West Indies qualified for the final. However, India beat them against the odds at Lord’s itself. Nevertheless, he will always be remembered as one of the most prudent decision makers in Caribbean cricket.
On the back of his sharp cricket brain, he was the ICC match referee from 2001 to 2006. In 2009, he was inducted into the ICC’s hall of fame. In his playing career, the Georgetown-born scored 91 tons and 241 fifties.
4. Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting’s prowess on the cricket field was unmatched at a time when Australian cricket was at its peak. After winning the 1999 World Cup as a player, he captained the national team to glory in the 2003 World Cup.
His century against India at the Wanderers in Johannesburg remains to be one of the best knocks in a WC final. Then in 2007, Ponting carried the Aussies to another triumph. Ponting was persisted with as the skipper even in 2011 when he led the Aussies in the World Cup in India.
This time around, they crashed out after their quarter-final loss at the hands of the hosts. In July 2018, Punter was inducted into the ICC’s hall of fame. The now 45-year-old hung his boots back in 2012 and even after eight years, a number of records for the Australian team remain unscathed.
5. Kane Williamson
Back in 2016, Brendon McCullum retired from all forms of cricket after which Kane Williamson took over as the New Zealand skipper in all three formats. His first assignment was the World T20 in India and he didn’t disappoint. Even as he shone as the captain, the responsibility rubbed off positively on his batting as well.
He isn’t flashy by any means, but knows the art of scoring runs at a decent rate. In 2019, the Tauranga-born took the Black Caps to the final of the World Cup in England and Wales. During the mega event, he racked up a couple of centuries and was arguably the Kiwis’ standout batsman.
In the final, the Kiwis lost by virtue of hitting less boundaries than the home team. Despite the fateful day at the Home of Cricket, Captain Kane showed a calm demeanour and earned loads of praises from the cricket world.
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