Sutcliffe & Hobbs - An English love story like no other
Today is Valentines day and on the day when roses, boxes of chocolates, fat teddy bears and kisses are exchanged, I take a look at some of the most memorable pairs in the history of cricket. No, I'm not talking about Michael Clarke and Lara Bingle, or Graeme Smith and super-model Morgan Deane or even Virat Kohli and his countless women. I'm talking about the a different kind of love story and here are the four I think that are timeless.
Herbert Sutcliffe and Sir Jack Hobbs
Traveling back in time to the short period between the two great world wars, we witness the amazing partnership between two of England's greatest openers. Of course there have been many such spectacular opening pairs but what sets these two apart is the sheer magnitude of their numbers. In the 6 years that they played together between 1924-1930, the two amassed together 3249 runs at an average of 87.81 with 15 century stands in just as much many as on 38 appearances. This was the period when batsmen wore little or no protection and played on relatively uncovered pitches and the stats are even more impressive considering those facts. Surely an impressive duo.
Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram
Is there a more lethal bowling combination than this? One might argue Ambrose and Walsh, or Donald and Pollock, or Thomson and Lillee, but the ability that these two Pakistani greats had with the old ball generating unbelievable amount of reverse swing makes them my top pick. The two picked up 476 wickets in tandem at a strike rate of just a little above 46 balls per wicket. Their average is best among bowling partnerships with over 300 wickets at 22.12 runs per wicket. Needless to say, Pakistan with these two held one of the most devastating bowling attack in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Even Bollywood couldn't have done this pair
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly
The two Indians changed the face of Indian cricket and largely due to their great success in the ODI format where they scored 8227 runs together. Of those 6609 runs came from opening the batting and the duo hold the record for both. They also hold the record for most century partnerships with 26 which is 10 more than the second place. The pure dominance of this pair goes beyond just numbers and the influence that they had on Indian cricket and India is something that just can't be measured.
Glen McGrath and Shane Warne
This is perhaps one of the strangest partnership with a fast bowler and a leg spinner being so successful together but from 1993 - 2007 the two picked up more than 1000 wickets (1001 wickets) at an more than impressive average of 23.17 makes this pair not only stand at the very top of the mountain but also the best bowling pair in the world. The second place is occupied by another fast bowler - spinner combination in Vass and Muralitharan with 772 wickets, still over 200 wickets short of the mark. What's even more astonishing is that among the 104 matches that these two played together, Australia won 71 of them! It certainly won't be wrong to say that Australia's great domination was on the shoulders of these two.Will anyone reach the heights of success that McGrath and Warne did? It's highly improbable.
There have been plenty of other great memorable partnerships too, but none as great and long-lasting as these. Some of the great one night stands that come to mind would be Dravid and Laxman in Eden Gardens in 2001 when they scripted the greatest comeback since Lazarus, Sangakara and Jayawardene (a great couple themselves) who hold the record highest partnership in test cricket with 624 runs, and Yuvraj Singh and Stuart Broad. There are also a few others infamous ones such as the one between Lilllee and Miandad, Sreesanth and Harbhajan, Warne and Samuels, Symonds and the naked pitch invader, Sreesanth and the match referees, Steven Finn's knee and the stumps, Manoj Tiwary and the bench and so many others that make cricket truly a game of love.