ESPN's Legends of Cricket journeys through the ages to profile the greatest individuals to have ever taken up the bat and ball. Chosen by an expert panel of their peers, this fascinating and seminal series explores the remarkable abilities of the chosen few who have truly transcended the game.
From Sir Donald Bradman's unrivalled mastery of the willow and Shane Warne's wizardry with the ball, to the poise and balance of Sachin Tendulkar, the swagger of Sir Garfield Sobers and Viv Richards and the sheer grit and determination embodied by Allan Border and Steve Waugh, this series offers rare insight into the celebrated careers of cricket's 25 greatest champions. Featuring wonderful archival footage and in-depth interviews with leading players and commentators, ESPN's Legends of
Cricket shines a light on the enduring legends of our summer game.
Sir Donald Bradman:
Unquestionably the greatest batsman in the game, arguably the greatest cricketer ever, and one of the finest sportsmen of all time, Don Bradman was so far ahead of the competition as to render comparisons meaningless and to transcend the game he graced.
Sir Garfield Sobers:
While Bradman's status as the greatest batsman is increasingly under threat, no one raises an eyebrow at Garry Sobers being called the greatest all-rounder. He broke the record for the highest Test score - 365 - at 21, could bowl left-arm orthodox, wrist spin and fast-medium, and was a brilliant fielder anywhere on the ground. He was also the first player to hit six sixes in an over in a first-class game.
Sir Vivian Richards:
The man who gave 'swagger' new meaning in cricket, Richards was the most destructive batsman of his era, and while there are many with greater records, few could take on, intimidate, and rip to shreds bowling attacks like he did.
Warne brought leg spin out from a dusty closet and made it fashionable again. A charismatic, spectacular performer who made as headlines on the field and off it, he finished second-best to Muttiah Muralitharan in the Test wickets stakes, but to many he remains the greatest spinner - if not.
Sir Jack Hobbs:
Jack Hobbs is one of the game's early masters. Nobody has scored more first-class runs than his 61,760, or more hundreds than his 199.
Dennis Lillee began his career as a tearaway fast bowler but career-threatening injuries forced him to reassess his body and pace bowling. He returned more accurate and dependable, and ended his career as the leading Test wicket-taker, taking a wicket off his final ball.
Perhaps the most complete batsman and the most worshipped cricketer in the world, Tendulkar holds just about every batting record worth owning in the game, including those for most runs and hundreds in Tests and ODIs, and most international runs.
Imran Khan is indisputably the greatest cricketer to emerge from Pakistan and arguably the world's second-best all-rounder after Garry Sobers. He took a mediocre side and transformed them into world-beaters, leading them to the World Cup title in 1992.
With over 50,000 first-class runs and a batting average of 58.45 in Tests, Hammond was the undisputed successor to Jack Hobbs as England's premier batsman. His bowling and slip fielding made him simply invaluable to the team during the Bradman era.
Sunil Gavaskar was the first to get 10,000 Test runs and 30 centuries. India's lynch-pin of the 70s and 80s, and arguably their first great batsman, he was known for his immaculate defence but was equally at ease hooking and pulling the most fearsome bowlers of all time.
Sir Ian Bontham:
One of the finest all-rounders of all time, Ian Botham was the fastest to the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets. An English icon, full of endless self-belief, he could change the course of a game in an afternoon. With him, England was a side to reckon with; without him they were abysmal.
Sir Richard Hadlee:
The finest cricketer New Zealand has produced, Richard Hadlee was a bowler of devastating control and intelligence: the first to 400 Test wickets; and one of the four great all-rounders of the 1980s.
Flamboyant, insouciant and hugely gifted, Keith Miller was Australia's finest all-rounder - and among the world's best - able to turn a match with bat or ball, and as dashing off the field as he was on it.
Cricket's first big draw in more ways than one, Grace with his towering presence revolutionised batting, brought cricket to a mass audience and transformed cricket in England into the unrivalled spectator sport of the summer.
South Africa's player of the 20th century, and perhaps the finest left-hand batsman the game has ever produced, Graeme Pollock played only 23 Tests, but those were enough to rank him among the game's all-time greats.
Malcolm Marshall was perhaps the finest of West Indies' many formidable fast bowlers of the 1980s, endowed with fierce pace, swing, cut, a vicious bouncer, and above all, the ability to out-think any batsman.
With a century in his first and last Tests, 22 others in between, and a career average of 53.86, Greg Chappell was the foremost Australian batsman of his generation. A formidable talent, he also had the iron self-will to harness his abilities to best effect.
'The black Bradman', George Headley was unstoppable at every level of the game, making runs with a style and brilliance few have ever matched, and setting the standards for generations of West Indian players to follow.
Sir Frank Worrell:
West Indies' first appointed black captain was also their most charismatic and influential. Though a fine, stylish batsman, it is as a strong captain and an uniting force that he will be remembered. The affection with which his team was received in Australia during the landmark tour of 1960-61 is enshrined in the trophy named after him, which the two teams play for to date.
Sir Len Hutton:
Widely regarded as the finest, most technically correct England batsman after the Second World War, Len Hutton broke the world-record score in his sixth Test. He was also England's first professional captain.
Perhaps the best left-arm fast bowler of all time, Wasim Akram could make the ball walk and talk like no one else did. An explosive, exciting genius who could change the game with the bat as well.
Kapil Dev was India's greatest fast bowler, their greatest fast-bowling all-rounder, and led the team to their finest triumph: the 1983 World Cup title.
Steve Waugh, the embodiment of true Australian grit, evolved from a raw 20-year-old talented batsman and medium-pacer into a cricketer who eliminated risk from his game. He led Australia in 15 of their world-record 16 consecutive Test wins and to the 1999 World Cup title, playing 168 Tests and collecting 10,927 runs on the way.
No other cricketer made such an impact, and gave rise to such speculation of what he might have been, in a career of four Tests. Nine hundreds before lunch and 1000 runs in a season 15 times in first-class cricket add to his legend.
The epitome of the fighting Australian, Allan Border took over the reins of the side when they were at their lowest ebb, and leading by force of will and example, he took them to the threshold of world-champion status.