Graceful, stylish, elegant. It is common to use these adjectives when describing a certain type of batting, one which is artistic – not forceful, one which is flowing – not thumping, one which is peaceful – not violent. More often than not, there is a left-handed batsman standing at the receiving end of these praises. Co-incidentally, three such gentlemen were born on this day (1st April) who embodied the aforementioned beauty of batting.
Ajit Wadekar – Born 1941
Wadekar is celebrated more for his leadership achievements than his batting. But those who saw him bat swear by his batting elegance. The Bombay batsman announced himself with runs in university cricket and subsequently dominated first-class cricket. Wadekar managed to convert only one of his 15 Test fifties into a hundred but it came in the momentous occasion of India’s first-ever away Test series victory. Under his captaincy, India celebrated their maiden series victories in West Indies and England. He passed away at the age of 77 in 2018.
A shot that appears so effortless … Ajit Wadekar batting during India’s first innings in the 3rd and final Test of the 1971 series at The Oval pic.twitter.com/JI1Rmcg6w4
— Historic Cricket Pictures (@PictureSporting) March 9, 2020
David Gower – 1957
The left-handed Englishman started his Test career in 1978 with a boundary on the first ball he faced. In the very next year, he was named amongst the five Wisden cricketers of the year. Wisden recorded – “The young Leicestershire left-hander (Gower) could do little wrong. He typified a new, precocious breed of stroke-players, imperious and exciting, who added colour and glamour to an otherwise bedraggled English summer.” While Gower was often branded ‘lazy’, his batting record which includes 117 Tests, 8231 runs and 18 centuries speaks for itself. The list of most stylish batsmen is never complete without a mention of this English legend.
Stephen Fleming – 1973
Very few captains ooze with calmness and maturity that New Zealand’s Fleming oozed with during his tenure. The opening batsman was praised for his tactical nous and aggressive approach while leading his side. With the bat, he was equally effective. When Fleming retired from international cricket in 2008, he was his nation’s most capped Test and ODI cricketer also the national leading run-getter in both the formats.