By Nishad Pai Vaidya
International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Hall of Fame is a galaxy of cricketing legends who have been an ornament to the sport with their monumental feats. Brian Lara – the holder of the record of Test cricket’s highest individual score is latest inductee into this august company that boasts of superheroes like Sir Don Bradman, Sir Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar to name a few. In all, 70 former cricketers – men and women – are the current members of this elite league.
The ICC created this Hall of Fame in the year 2009 with the induction of 55 great players of yesteryear. These original 55 were already a part of Federation of International Cricket Player’s Association’s (FICA) Hall of Fame and the ICC borrowed that list. Since then, 15 more members have been added to the list and the announcement is made at the annual ICC Awards. With the ceremony coming up later today, Lara and Enid Bakewell have been named as the latest inductees.
If one goes through the list of Hall of Famers, one would find that most of cricket’s greats have made it to the list. The ICC has laid down strict criteria for the induction into the elite league. For a batsman to qualify, he should have recorded at least 8,000 runs and 20 hundreds in any of the two major formats (Tests and One-Day Internationals) or should average over 50 in either. Bowlers must have more than 200 wickets to their name in any one of the formats – however their strike-rate in Tests should be 50 and 30 in ODIs. Stumpers may qualify if they have accounted for 200 dismissals in either or both the formats. For captains, the ICC’s qualification is as follows, “A captain must have led his side in at least 25 Tests and/or 100 ODIs with a win percentage of 50 per cent or more in either or both.”
With such criteria, players such as Bradman, Wasim Akram, Sunil Gavaskar, Allan Border etc. become obvious choices as these men have been the record setters in the past. Alan Knott and Rodney Marsh – two great wicket-keepers of the 1970s are also a part of this list. The most important qualification is that these players shouldn’t have featured in any international game in the five years prior to the nomination. Lara retired in 2007 – which was five years ago – and thus, his nomination is timely and reflects the Nomination Committee’s eye and remarkable attention to detail. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath too played their last international game in 2007 and they may be in the picture for the next year.
Let us have a look at the country-wise break-up of the Hall of Famers. England dominate the way with 26 members, followed by Australia (17) and West Indies (16). The rest of the order is made up with players from Pakistan (4), India (3), South Africa (2) and New Zealand (1). Interestingly, no Sri Lankan has made an entry into the Hall of Fame – which is surprising considering the fact that they have produced a number of high-quality players over the years. From these numbers, it is clear that some of the players from these countries deserve an inclusion in the coming years.
South Africa’s two representatives are Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards. The prime of their career’s unfortunately coincided with South Africa’s sporting isolation, but they had given ample evidence of their class prior to that. In fact, Barry Richards’s case is unique as he played only four Tests. None of the South African players have made it to the list since their readmission. Allan Donald is one who can be considered in the near future. Shaun Pollock will be another worthy, but he will only be eligible next year as he last played an international game in 2008.
India is represented in the league by Kapil Dev, Gavaskar and Bishan Singh Bedi. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly would only be eligible after some time.
Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Hanif Mohammad and Javed Miandad make up Pakistan’s line-up. Akram’s partner Waqar Younis is one big name missing from the list as his record in both forms is enviable. He retired way back in 2003 and his inclusion is certainly overdue. Perhaps, even an Abdul Qadir can make the cut. He has a record similar to Alec Bedser - who is a Hall of Famer and can make the cut.
Sri Lanka’s greats Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are still playing the game and it would be a long wait before they become eligible for nomination. However, Aravinda de Silva can come in considering his splendid record in both formats – particularly in ODIs. Sanath Jayasuriya would only be eligible in 2016 – five years after his last ODI against England.
Men who do not boast of the records stipulated in the criteria can also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. ICC’s website says, “If a person, team or institution does not fall within any of the above criteria, he, she or it can still be put forward by the Nominations Committee if, in the opinion of its members, he, she or it has had a fundamental effect on the history of the game (this criterion would also allow an eminent journalist, umpire, match referee or administrator to be nominated. It is also a sweep-up criterion if someone regarded as a great of the game does not fit into any of the above criteria).”
Considering this criteria, celebrated umpires such as Dickie Bird, David Shepherd and Steve Bucknor can be decorated with the honour. It is said that umpiring is a thankless job, but such an honour would be a just reward for their remarkable years of service to the game. Esteemed cricket-writers such as Sir Neville Cardus and Peter Roebuck can be rewarded albeit posthumously for their contribution to cricket literature. Srinivas Venkatraghavan accounted 156 wickets, but also served as an umpire for a number of years. That should help him come in the fray sometime in the future.
This also opens up the possibility of the induction of players such as Mike Procter and Ranjisinhji. Procter was a phenomenal all-rounder from South Africa whose career lasted only seven Tests – during which he didn’t match these standards. However, he also served as a match referee for a number of years and considering his overall contribution – he can be honoured. Ranji played a few Tests for England and was successful – but he was a giant in county cricket and is also credited to have invented the leg-glance. If one compares Ranji’s Test record to that of WG Grace – one would find that the former has better numbers. But, considering Grace’s impact on the game, he would have been inducted. The same can be done in Ranji’s case.
The possibilities are endless and it depends on the nomination committee to make the move. Since it is a concept that caught on in 2009, it would take some time before a number of greats are honoured with a spot with other legends.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)