If you talk to people in their late 30s and 40s, they’d tell you that the current generation have missed out on the good old days of absolute cricket legends taking to the field in the 1980s and 1990s. The cricketers who were playing in that era have no comparison to the modern-day players. The tournaments in Sharjah, those limited-over World Cups and the West Indian domination of world cricket under Clive Llyod are memories which will stay with the sport for years to come.
These cricket legends played the sport when it wasn’t that lucrative in terms of the money involved and the opportunities to showcase your talent were limited. Had a tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL) been around during those days, these cricket legends would have become absolute superstars of the competition. Let’s see who they are:
SIR VIVIAN RICHARDS (West Indies)
The great West Indian swashbuckling batsman, Sir Viv Richards was the first name which came to our minds. The master himself is a big IPL fan and had the tournament been around during his peak years as a cricketer, then most franchises would have been breaking their banks to get his services. He is the player who gave ‘swagger’ a definition and was one of the most destructive batsmen of his era. Even during the 1980s, his strike rate in one day cricket was above 90, so one can imagine what his impact would have been in the current era. An absolute superstar of the game, the fans would have adored him in the IPL. New Zealand former cricketer Ian Smith reckons that Viv Richards would have been worth more in the IPL than Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins combined. That makes him a 28-crore player, but the question is, would that have been enough to get the priceless man onboard?
KAPIL DEV (India)
The man who made the impossible happen in 1983 and made a billion dreams come true, Kapil Dev and his boys will be forever remembered as the team which won India its first-ever limited overs World Cup. Against all the odds, underdogs India went on to defeat the mighty West Indies in the final at Lord’s and the rest is history. India are till date looking to find the next Kapil Dev and that tells us the impact he had on Indian cricket. He was a true all-rounder who was equally lethal with the bat and the ball, and lightning fast in the field. All these would have made him the perfect T20 cricketer and a marquee player for any franchise.
WASIM AKRAM (Pakistan)
Considered as the most skilful bowler ever to play this sport, Wasim Akram is a no-brainer when it comes to cricket legends who would have been great in the IPL. You see the importance of having a left-arm pacer in a T20 team as franchises go crazy behind them in the auctions. The most expensive option at an auction is a left-arm pacer who is quick, possesses some variations, can swing the new ball, can come back in the death overs and deliver those reverse swinging yorkers. Akram checks all the above-mentioned boxes and you can imagine what his worth would be in this format. The Sultan of Swing would certainly be a match-winner with the ball but his exploits with the bat and his sharp cricketing mind would have made him the perfect player for a tournament like the IPL. If Jaydev Unadkat gets around 12 crores at the auction then what would have been Akram’s value?
SIR IAN BOTHAM (England)
The 1980s were spoiled with some world-class all-rounders at the peak of their powers and Sir Ian Botham was amongst those. He is considered as one of the finest all-rounders of all time. Beefy was the fastest to the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket. He relished playing under pressure and pulling off wins from impossible situations. He was equally good with both bat and ball and that makes him a proper legend. He was a blockbuster player with his antics both on and off the pitch and would have been a big success for any IPL team, both on the field and commercially.
JEFF THOMSON (Australia)
Australia’s Jeff Thomson was arguably the fastest bowler Test cricket has ever seen. He had an unusual slinging action and that made him different from the conventional lot. In just 51 Test matches, Thomson reached 200 wickets. He brought fear in the eyes of the batsman by his raw pace and a mean bouncer. He formed a formidable partnership with another cricket legend Dennis Lillee and together they were impossible to play against. He would have been an IPL great certainly and would have been a menace to all the great batsmen in the tournament. Just imagine a contest between Chris Gayle and Jeff Thomson. Pretty sure Gayle would fancy playing him from the non-striker’s end.
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