ico-h1 CRICKET BOOKS

The 100 Greatest Cricketers

Published: 2016
Pages: 328
Author: Armstrong, Geoff
Publisher: New Holland
Rating: 4 stars

armstrong

The one sure fire way to start an argument with a cricket fan is to disagree with their top 100 players list. Or even worse try and suggest his all time team is wrong. Well author Geoff Armstrong actually welcomes the heat and writes; “It is not the intention of this book to settle friendly arguments so much as to start them”.

The 100 Greatest Cricketers will definitely start arguments. Some will most likely be pithy; such as rabid Indian fans suggesting that Sachin Tendulkar should be number one. Armstrong doesn’t even mention this as a possibility and has, was there ever any real doubt, Don Bradman deservedly in first place. The little master is at number eight (prepare for the 1st argument Mr Armstrong).

Other arguments will be more balanced such as who is ranked higher between spin legends Shane Warne and Murali or who ranks as the greatest all rounder between the fab four of the 70s and 80s – Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee. Armstrong has Warne 18 places in front of Murali (prepare for the 2nd argument Mr Armstrong), and Khan 9 places clear of the other three great all rounders (prepare for the 3rd argument Mr Armstrong).

The 100 Greatest Cricketers is not set out the same as previous books which attempt to compile a list from 100 to one. Instead Armstrong selected nine teams and at one hundred his favourite player – Doug Walters. The criteria for each team was two openers; three middle order batsmen; a wicket keeper and an all rounder; four bowlers from which at least one must be a spinner.

The method used to choose the top 100 is not clear although Armstrong does disclose that he doesn’t just rely on stats. This becomes more obvious when the names of the some of the cricketers who made the list is studied. For instance Victor Trumper makes the second XI, while contemporary Clem Hill, who has almost identical figures, does not feature until the last XI.

Test appearances are mandatory for inclusion, although performances in ODI and 20/20 are also taken into account. There are also some current player omissions such as David Warner, Steve Smith, Joe Root and Virat Kohli (prepare for the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th arguments Mr Armstrong). While other current players such as Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers are included. It wasn’t made clear why this was the case, however it would seem that Armstrong prefers to wait until a player has finished his career or is close to it before a player is considered.

Geoff Armstrong is forthright in his opinions. For example he suggests that Don Tallon is rated as a great keeper mainly on the say so of Don Bradman. He also writes that Clarrie Grimmett owes his exalted rating based on the advocacy of great friend and team-mate Bill O’Reilly. After those comments it will come as no surprise their neither Tallon nor Grimmett feature in any of the nine XIs (prepare for the 9th and 10th arguments Mr Armstrong).

Geoff Armstrong has not only selected The 100 Greatest Cricketers, he has also lovingly written detailed descriptions of each player and his excellent writing is the real heart of the book. Added to this the publication is beautifully produced with colour printing throughout on quality paper.

The 100 Greatest Cricketers, is great fun and also a great read. The fact that the author is prepared for arguments is a good thing as I am sure there will be plenty coming. Strongly recommended.

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