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Greatest ODI Finisher of All Time! Bevan or MSD
Ah-ha! Now you have decided whether you are an Aussie or an Indian -> my friends would say. I planned to write this article after Dhoni’s retirement. But I can’t wait any longer. Mirror mirror on the wall. Who is the greatest finalist of them all? Well, by contrast, the only real contenders to be named the greatest one-day cricketers are Michael Bevan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. No, don’t make the mistake of comparing them as footballers because Dhoni and his versatility have won hands down. Just compare them as ODI finalists. That’s what I’m going to do today. I found some interesting facts and figures while doing this.
Let’s first mention the candidates who are eligible even though they are not in the same league as the two champions. Among them are Lance Kluesner, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Mike Hussey, AB De Villiers and VIA Richards arguably the greatest one-day batsman of all time. He and Sachin will say no, we don’t want the last one. We can finish the match long before the overs are over with the resources available at the other end. But that’s another story with another type of striker.
By last we mean the batsman who doesn’t get out at the end of the inning? No. I mean the batsman who finished the game and won for his team is the last batsman. Usually, such an innings results in the batsman not getting out in the end. But there are many innings in which the batsman had finished well before he got out. Sachin Tendulkar in Sharjah in 1998 against Australia played two magical innings, one to take India to the final and the second to win India’s final. He got out in both innings. But he was very organized and did his country’s work very efficiently. And this is where Bevan and Dhoni come into the picture. They made a real difference when it mattered most to their teams. And they did it many times. This fact alone leaves daylight between them and the others.
MS Dhoni’s best quality is that he remains calm about everything while everyone in the stadium and watching the match on TV is on the verge of a heart attack. This was the case with Michael Bevan as well. But Bevan had strong fighters who kept him in his time like Waugh brothers, Damien Martyn etc. Dhoni also benefited from these batsmen at the other end but at the end of his career. Both were great runners between the wickets. In addition, they were excellent judges of the race. They know when to turn one into two and two into three, and when not to take a risk. This increased the pressure on the opposition even more. Not only did the boundaries come but the runs between the wickets killed the opposition’s game.
One area where Dhoni shines is big hitting. He could hit sixes and Bevan, on the other hand, was not a big hitter. He can hit if needed but not with the same consistency as Dhoni. That in my mind the real difference between the two. Bevan has won as many matches for his team as Dhoni did but with kicks and kicks instead of hitting Dhoni. The last one needs to be angry and they all had it. I say “was” even when Dhoni is still around. But I believe we have seen the best of it.
Many Indians point to career hitting for Dhoni’s success but Bevan played in a different era where batsmen didn’t score as much as they do today except Tendulkars, Waughs, and Laras obviously. And the teams also did not get a total like today. So these numbers don’t do Bevan justice. Both have high batting averages in the 50s. They absolutely killed the opposition with a beautiful finish. No matter how they did it, running around or hitting, it was medical.
Dhoni’s finishing is about his ability to do both: big hit and swing and kick and run like a rabbit. Also, Dhoni played in the era of cricket and played several roles in T20s, ODIs, Tests and IPL. This alone is nerve-wracking. While Bevan played ODI cricket mainly with first-class matches and a little test cricket. Less stress compared to modern players like Dhoni. Staying strong in such situations is very difficult. Dhoni managed this but Bevan struggled till the end of his career with physical problems.
Michael Bevan batted at number 4 or 5 when he produced that perfect finish while Dhoni was at 5-6. This is mainly because Dhoni can take more risks than Bevan and because of the heavy value of his wicket, the tendency to push him down the order should be present within the team management although this is only an assumption. Even Dhoni’s famous innings at the end of the 2011 world cup saw him play at number 4. It was great to see the great cricketer complete the final with aplomb. And he finished all with six. This was like putting an announcement on the game and the World Cup!!
Many cricketers in the world get scared when the difference between the remaining balls is the run to start but not these two. It was amazing to see them keeping their composure and doing their jobs like everyday tasks. What these guys are made of can be seen and finished no one else can replicate many times. Many cricketers have graced the game and many have played leading roles in their teams’ success. But to finish the match in victory for their teams so many times? No. Nothing! These two are unbeatable there.
Bevan was part of the two teams that won the world cup in 1999 and 2003. It is amazing that Australia were at the top of their game when they were playing ODI cricket and were at their peak. Dhoni won one ODI WC for India in 2011 though he is still playing and I am sure he is looking at the 2019 world cup as his last chance.
Bevan has the highest batting average for a retired ODI cricketer of 53.58 while Dhoni has reached 51.37 so far and is close to 50. This also does not show any advantage for Bevan as Dhoni can take too many risks. having a better score than Bevan who will have a slightly better average. They both played and won matches playing tails and often. I can’t put into words how incredible it was to see these men perform over and over again.
Another critical point that goes against Dhoni is the game he played. Bevan played on big Australian pitches making hitting sixes difficult while Dhoni batted at a time when the game was designed for batsmen and in Indian conditions which have been batsman friendly. While Bevan hails from an era of Aussie dominance when the team was at its peak, Dhoni broke India’s tendency to be poor chasers. This is his greatest achievement for his country. It is not a win for nothing, let me tell you, as I have watched Indian cricket since the 1980s and this was a minor problem back then.
I have tried very hard not to compare them as all cricketers and talk about Dhoni’s captaincy or Bevan the left-handed batsman. These were like bonuses to their teams. I will not discuss Bevan’s test as it is not relevant to the topic. You can compare all their stats you want, all day long. You will find them contradicting each other in the end. But even considering everything I can’t ignore the huge difference in strike rate. It’s 15 points and I think that’s the real and clear difference. Want to say more?
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