Well tonight we continue our countdown of who the members of CricketWeb have voted for as their 50 greatest ever cricketers. This time around, we take a look at the players who finished in positions 40 to 31...
Harold Larwood | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 11% of voters - highest ranking no.5
Douglas Jardine's strategy to win back the Ashes in Australia in 1932/33 was all well and good in principle, but to be put into practice a truly exceptional bowler was required - and that man was Harold Larwood. A coalminer from Nottingham, he first came to prominence in the mid-1920s and had gained a reputation among opposing batsman as a bowler who could instil fear through speed alone. Larwood's early Test career was promising but he was stopped in his tracks by the Bradman juggernaut in 1930 and such was the Australian's dominance that it seemed his international days were over.
Jardine, however, entrusted "Lol" with spearheading his assault on Australia two years later and he repayed his captain with 33 wickets at 19, taken with immense speed, hostility, stamina and courage. On the hard pitches in searing heat, Larwood literally bowled himself into the ground for his country. He was a national hero, until politics reared its ugly head and he was never selected for England again - a decision made all the more astonishing by the fact that he was still topping England's FC averages as late as 1936. After WWII Larwood emigrated to Australia and was received not as a villain but - quite rightly - as a hero, living out his days happily in Sydney.
Denis Compton | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 13% of voters - highest ranking no.9
One of the most charismatic and beloved cricketers in the history of the game, Denis Compton was a batting genius who brought joy to millions of fans as England rebuilt after World War II. A good enough left-winger to win an FA Cup medal with Arsenal, it was nevertheless cricket with which he became a legend. He made his Test debut in 1937 in the same match as Len Hutton, thus setting the tone for the post-war years where those two men - in their very different ways - defined English batsmanship. Hutton was the serious and introspective stylist, Compton the carefree improvisor. Their duels - and friendship - with Lindwall and Miller in the '40s and '50s are the stuff of legend.
For all Compton's fantastic successes at Test level, arguably his greatest achievement came in the summer of '47 when he broke the all time record for runs and centuries in an English domestic season, dominating the season with a seemingly unending string of brilliant performances and engraving himself into the hearts of a whole nation - surely only Ian Botham in all the years since can claim to have been as popular.
Allan Border | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 16% of voters - highest ranking no.14
Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh may have been at the helm as Australian cricket achieved a decade's worth of world domination, but they will be the first to admit that the man who set it all in motion, the man responsible for making it a reality, was Allan Robert Border. Blooded in the Australian side when the established stars had gone to World Series Cricket, he was good enough to keep his place after the reconciliation and over the next 15 years set dual standards of quality and durability never before seen - 156 Tests (a remarkable 153 of them consecutive) and 273 ODIs were both world records at the time, as were his career tallies of 11,174 runs and 156 catches.
He became captain of Australia during her darkest hour, with the kind of early pressure and dismal failure that would have destroyed a lesser man. But not AB. The climb was long, hard and filled with false dawns - the 1987 World Cup was a starting point but it wasn't until the Ashes were regained in 1989 that Australia could truly see more light than dark, a platform upon which ever greater success was built in the ensuing years. Border had retired by the time Australia claimed the number one spot from the West Indies in 1995, but every member of that team - along with every single Australian cricket fan of the past quarter century - owes the man they call AB a beer. Or ten.
Waqar Younis | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 16% of voters - highest ranking no.3
There can surely have been few more magnificent sights in the history of cricket than that of Waqar Younis in his prime, charging to the wicket and delivering with his dramatic catapult-like action those searing inswinging yorkers which a split second later would cannon into the hapless batsman's leg stump having in all likelihood broken his toe on the way through. The Rawalpindi Express as he was known, was a bowler for whom the word "breathtaking" might have been invented.
With Wasim Akram he formed one of the greatest of all partnerships, and though Wasim was the more sublimely gifted, at his peak there is no question that Waqar was the quicker and more lethal of the pair. Indeed, in the early 1990s Waqar could claim to have been as fast and as devastating as any bowler who has ever walked onto a cricket field, and was equally brilliant in both the long and short forms of the game. Such a dynamic style was always bound to take its toll and his later career was blighted by injury, but for those few years he flashed across international cricket like a meteor and truly lit up the cricketing world.
Shaun Pollock | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 13% of voters - highest ranking no.12
Shaun Pollock was an all-round cricketer par excellence but because of the understated way in which he went about accumulating his considerable achievements, his status sometimes feels a little lower than it ought to be. Coming from one of the most famous of all cricketing families - father Peter was a fine Test fast bowler, and uncle Graeme of course remains among the very greatest batsmen of all time - possibly the ultimate compliment that can be paid to Shaun Pollock is that despite such pedigree he is not remotely in their shadow.
Genuinely fast in his younger days, Pollock developed later into a fast-medium seamer of immaculate line, length and control, as well as an extremely valuable lower-middle-order batsman who while rarely making big scores often made runs when they mattered. The first, and to date only, South African to take 400 Test wickets, Pollock was also a superb one-day cricketer, his unerring accuracy proving a tremendous asset in the shorter form of the game.
Kapil Dev | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 18% of voters - highest ranking no.13
Named India's cricketer of the century in 2002, Kapil Dev is the first of the legendary quartet of allrounders who bestrode the cricketing world in the 1980s to appear on our list. India's most successful fast bowler, he toiled away willingly on often unresponsive pitches year after year with such great effect that by the end of his career he held the world record for Test wickets. As a marvellously attacking batsman, he was one of the cleanest strikers of the ball ever seen in top level cricket and one for whom the state of the match rarely had too much significance to his approach - surely no one who saw it will ever forget his four successive sixes against England in 1990 to avoid the follow-on. He remains the only man to have scored 5000 runs and taken 400 wickets in Test cricket.
Kapil's hero status in India was confirmed in 1983 when he captained India to World Cup glory, his astonishing outfield catch to dismiss a rampant Viv Richards the catalyst for a monumental upset win over a West Indian team who were unbackable favourites. An outspoken and controversial figure within Indian cricket, he is now a member of the breakaway Indian Cricket League.
Michael Holding | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 16% of voters - highest ranking no.16
Those of us who have resembled carthorses as we ambled gracelessly to the wicket in the name of "fast" bowling cannot but help be embarrassed by Michael Holding, who made being the fastest bowler in the world look both ridiculously easy and incomparably cool. Such was the lightness and grace with which he approached the wicket that umpires claimed that could not hear his steps behind them - and so was born "Whispering Death." A champion 400m runner in his youth, Holding put that natural atheticism to superb use as he became one of the fastest and most feared quicks of all time.
Arguably, his career was defined by two performances. First, at the Oval in 1976 he produced one of the finest displays of fast bowling ever seen to take 14 wickets on a slow pitch - still the best ever figures by a West Indian in a Test match. Secondly came THAT over against Geoff Boycott at Kensington Oval in 1981, which has become accepted in cricket lore as the most electrifying six-ball salvo in the history of the game. Boycott's defences were as tight as any opening bat who has ever taken guard, but even he was no match for Michael Holding that day. Holding is these days regular and well-liked commentator...and he is still incomparably cool.
Herbert Sutcliffe | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 21% of voters - highest ranking no.9
A run machine in the purest sense of the word, Herbert Sutcliffe belongs in that stratosphere of batsmen who completed their career with a Test average in excess of 60. More remarkable still, that average never once career fell below that rarefied mark, establishing without question his position among the most effective runscorers the game has ever seen. Sutcliffe was immortalised as part of two legendary combinations - with Percy Holmes for Yorkshire with whom he once shared a world record stand of 555, and with Jack Hobbs for England, with whom he formed the very greatest of all first wicket partnerships. Runs, piled on top of more runs, were his stock in trade - in 181 First Class matches between 1928 and 1932 he scored 15,529 runs at an average of 70.35.
Sutcliffe possessed a wonderful eye, superb technique and astonishing powers of concentration to compliment his superlative batting skill. Patience was his watchword, and he was renowned for the ability to succeed on even the most difficult of wickets - his 135 at Melbourne in 1928 was possibly the finest wet-wicket performance ever. As dignified a man as he was a cricketer, Sutcliffe's accomplishments place him well and truly among cricket's immortals.
Steve Waugh | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 32% of voters - highest ranking no.15
The iceman cometh. Steve Waugh stormed into the Australian Test team as a dashing young all-rounder on a wave of hype, and like so many young Australian cricketers of that generation his performances didn't match the promise. A blazing tour of England in 1989 seemed to finally make his position permanent, but less than two years later Waugh was watching his twin brother score a classic debut century as he watched from the sidelines, dropped from the Test team.
It was the best thing that ever happened to him. Waugh returned to the Australian side a more controlled, complete player and spent the next decade establishing himself as the one of the great batsman - and one of the most valuable cricketers - of his or any other generation. When Australia conquered their final frontier with victory in the Caribbean in 1995 it was Waugh who was the series' defining player. Likewise, Australia's 1999 World Cup triumph was inspired by their skipper's magnificent unbeaten century against South Africa, and his steel-eyed gaze was the force behind a record-breaking string of Ashes wins. When he finally bowed out of international cricket nearly two decades after he began, he had played more Test cricket than any other player in history and had installed himself as an Australian institution.
Fred Trueman | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 29% of voters - highest ranking no.10
Frederick Sewards Trueman was such an extraordinary, unforgettable character that his personality sometimes overshadowed his achievements - which when you consider his achievements shows you just what a character he was. "Fiery Fred" stated that his ambition was to be "the finest fast bowler who ever drew breath" and there are many good judges who would claim that he succeeded. The first man to take more than 300 Test wickets, he achieved the landmark despite appearing in just 67 of the 100-plus Tests that England played during his career - his larrikin streak meaning that the authorities were often quick to find an excuse to leave him out of the side despite his talent.
What separated Trueman from his contemporaries was his strike rate - Fred's era was one of largely defensive cricket, where runs were scored and wickets were taken slowly, and draws were commonplace. Amidst all this, Trueman took a wicket every 49 balls in Test cricket - even in today's attack-minded world such a figure would be outstanding, but in the 1950s it was truly remarkable. Trueman's natural rogue charm meant it was inevitable that he would stay in public life after retirement and even after his death he remains a revered figured, particularly in his beloved Yorkshire.
It was a bit late coming tonight I know, but I hope it was worth the wait nonetheless! Stay tuned for numbers 30-21 some time tomorrow...