Image courtesy of: The Hindu
“He was a versatile batsman, potent strike bowler and charismatic captain”
Former New Zealand pace bowler Richard Hadlee has announced that ex-Pakistan captain turned politician Imran Khan was easily the best all-rounder during his era.
Hadlee was New Zealand’s most prominent fast bowler in the 1980s, a decade which boasted all-rounders such as India’s Kapil Dev and England’s one and only Sir Ian Botham.
“If I was asked to pick who was the better of the four of us, and I am on record as saying Imran because he was a versatile batsman, potent strike bowler and charismatic captain,” Hadlee said. “As a batsman, he could bat anywhere in the top six, sometimes in the top four, and play any type of innings depending on the circumstance of the game.
“As a bowler, he was a potent strike bowler…His record suggests he was a fine bowler. He was also a charismatic person, a good and successful captain for Pakistan. He had a lot of respect, he had the package.”
However, Hadlee also admitted to having a soft spot for West Indies all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers.
“Sobers traditionally has always been regarded as the number one because people would pay to go and see him play,” Hadlee said. “Very flamboyant, rhythmical batsman and bowler, fielder, captain. The whole package and the stats would back that up.”
While Hadlee could prove to be just as dangerous with the bat as with the ball on any given day, he conceded that he always saw himself as more of a bowler than a batsman.
“I scored less Test hundreds than anyone else, my batting average was lower than the others,” he said. “So while I had some good innings, my batting was inconsistent. I wouldn’t put myself in that same category, actually, but as a bowler definitely.”
Hadlee also reminisced about how he always competed with Dev, Khan and Botham to be the best all-rounder of the 1980s.
“I didn’t want to get out to Kapil or Immy or Beefy but I certainly wanted to get them out when I bowled,” he said. “So that competition actually grew and that motivation actually grew.”
The 62-year-old conceded that it would be a sad day for the sport once South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis retires since he was able to adapt to all three formats of the game and outlast a lot of his competition.
“Statistically, he (Kallis) is the greatest all-rounder ever in the history of the game, no question about that,” Hadlee said. “But obviously as time has moved on in his case, he is now being more selective. But I still would probably think his focus is Test cricket.”
Speaking about the ball-tampering controversy, which took place during the Champions Trophy and involved England, Hadlee called for harsh punishments to be imposed on anyone caught altering the ball in order to give their side an unfair advantage.
“You can use natural saliva, sweat on the ball, it is having a good effect on the game,” he said. “But you can’t use fingernails or anything of that nature. If you are throwing the ball on a rough surface that scruffs the ball. What’s wrong with that? You are using the facility allowed to you.”
Upon having another flashback to his playing days, Hadlee revealed that he encountered reverse swing, but never knew what it was.
“Sarfraz Nawaz (Pakistani pace bowler) was doing something with the ball,” he said. “But later we came to know Pakistan had developed or found out what reverse swing is by looking after the ball.”