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Michael Bevan, born on May 8, 1970 is one of the finest batsmen in the history of One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about his legacy in ODI cricket.
Growing up in a cricket crazy India in the 1990s, Sachin Tendulkar was every kid’s idol. It was his sheer brilliance on the field of play that inspired children and pushed them to play cricket in their small by-lanes. However, there was another figure, not as large as Tendulkar, who was extremely popular in a different pastime. While kids yearned to be termed the “Tendulkar” of the galli, as a fellow writer at CricketCountry wrote, Michael Bevan was their most popular cricket trading card. As children returned from their small fields as the sun set, they often started a round of cricket trading cards. With an enviable average, the holder of Bevan’s card was invincible.
Over the years, many cricket writers have spoken about certain numbers being associated with players. For example, Brian Lara would has written his name in history with a 400 not out and the 501 in First-Class cricket. Tendulkar stands out with the 100 international tons, if one has to pick one statistic. Bevan, though not in the league of some of the greats mentioned, would always be amongst the finest One-Day International (ODI) batsmen. An average of 53.58 in ODIs is true testament to his skill as a finisher as he batted in the middle order to provide that touch to the Australian team.
Bevan was a crucial factor in the rise of Australia in the late 1990s as a supreme one-day cricket force. The top order comprised of dominating stars in Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and the grit of Steve Waugh. To that line-up, Bevan provided a cushion in the middle. Should they fail, he would invariably stand up and make his contributions felt. Through that calm exterior, one could see that his mind was buzzing with calculations, working out various permutations and combinations in a run-chase or to finish the innings on a good note.
A pertinent point to note is that his average never dropped below 47.25 in ODIs. He had touched that “trough” in only his seventh ODI and through the 225 more games he featured in, he always averaged above 50. He hit six tons and 46 fifties. There were innumerable 30s and 40s, worth their weight in gold! The strike-rate of 74.16 may not be up to the modern standard, but was fantastic in the time Bevan played. And, if you pitch it alongside his overall numbers, it makes a brilliant reading. To date, he has the highest batting average in ODIs (If one keeps Ryan ten Doeschate aside, who averages 67.00 in his 33 games, most of which have been against minnows) and List A cricket.
In many ways, Bevan truly created the blueprint of chasing successfully in ODIs. In the post 2000 era, there are many batsmen who have emerged who have mastered the art. In their gameplay, it is Bevan’s blueprint that is ever so prevalent. The batsmen believe and back themselves in taking it through to the end and then charge for the assault. Temperamentally, they have taken on his demeanour in not letting the pressure get to them. In his own way, he did revolutionise one-day cricket and that remains his true legacy.
Bevan — who laid blueprint for successful run-chases
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