Top five bravest acts by cricketers on a cricket field

Kishore V Nath

2019 IPL Final - Mumbai v Chennai

The social media is going berserk after Chennai Super Kings’ off spinner Harbhajan Singh put a story on his Instagram page about how Shane Watson was batting with pain and one could see blood stains on his left leg in the IPL 2019 final against Mumbai Indians.

Shane Watson’s historic effort almost won the men in yellow their 4th IPL title as the Australian right hander scored 80 but his run out proved costly in the end for CSK.

Over the years, we have seen cricketers on the field coming out with nasty injuries in order to save their team. We will look at the top five bravest acts by cricketers.

#1. Malcolm Marshall: England vs West Indies at Headingley, 1984

Malcom Marshall playing with a broken thumb

One of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, Malcom Marshall broke his thumb on the morning of the first day in the Test against England at Headingley in 1984. England would have heaved a huge sigh of relief and went on to make 270 in the first innings.

On day three West Indies were fighting hard to take the first innings lead and were successful, thanks to Larry Gomes and Michael Holding’s 80-run stand. When Joel Garner was dismissed, the ninth wicket of the innings, everyone in the ground and English fielders were thinking that the innings was over and Marshall would not come out to bat because of the broken thumb.

To everyone’s surprise, Malcom Marshall walked out to bat to ensure Larry Gomes, who was 4 short of a hundred would achieve the milestone. The fast bowler batted with one hand and would survive few balls to help Gomes reach his hundred.

Marshall did try his best but he was the last West Indies wicket to fall. In a while, he came out on to the field in England’s second innings and opened the bowling along with Joel Garner. With his broken thumb, Malcom Marshall showed not only great courage to bowl but also ended up taking 7-53 that blew England away for 159 and West Indies ended up winning the match by 8 wickets.

#2. Anil Kumble: West Indies vs India at Antigua, 2002

Anil Kumble

The former India captain, Anil Kumble was one of the very few cricketers who played cricket fair and hard. What stood out in his career apart from all the records is the way he would conduct himself both on and off the field.

While we know about these qualities in Anil Kumble, the one thing that everyone knew after this incident was his great courage to perform under extreme duress.

In 2002, when India toured West Indies, Anil Kumble was hit nastily on his mouth by a ripper of a bouncer from Mervyn Dillon at Antigua and the leg spinner was struggling so much so that he was even spitting out blood.

Anil Kumble surprised everyone when he continued to bat on despite the pain. After the innings was over, it was found out that Kumble’s jaw was fractured because of the blow and was ruled out for the reminder of the Test series.

With the flight only the following day, Kumble decided to bowl by wearing a bandage. The leg spinner sent down 14 overs with a broken jaw and the most astonishing achievement was the wicket of one of the best batsman of this generation, Brian Lara.

#3. Gary Kirsten: Pakistan vs South Africa at Lahore, 2003-04

Gary Kirsten

In the first Test at Lahore in 2003, South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith won the toss and decided to bat first. Smith and his opening partner Herschelle Gibbs were going along well until the former was dismissed when the score read 52. In walked left hander Gary Kirsten at No 3 and looked in good touch right from the beginning.

Kirsten would go on to have some meaningful partnerships, 32 for the second wicket with Gibbs and 70 for the third wicket with Jacques Kallis. The visitors suffered a severe blow when the well-set Gary Kirsten was hit on the face by a quick short one from Shoaib Akhtar while attempting a pull shot. He was down on his knees and the whole Pakistan team surrounded him to have a look at the batsman. He was forced to retire hurt and later it was found out that Kirsten had a broken nose.

After conceding a first innings lead of 81 to Pakistan, South Africa were struggling in the second innings and when the fourth wicket fell at 149, Gary Kirsten walked out to bat with lots of bruises under his helmet. The left hander showed dogged determination despite the severe pain to grind out 46 tough runs for South Africa.

#4. Graeme Smith: Australia vs South Africa at Sydney, 2009

Graeme Smith

South Africa were by far the best touring side during this time and were the only side to give Australia a run for their money down under. In another tensely fought series, South Africa chased down a mammoth total of 414 to win the first Test and later went on to win the second to claim the three-match series 2-0.

Even though the series was done and dusted, the third Test at Sydney was expected to be another high-octane contest because not many teams have come to Australia and whitewashed them in a Test series.

After Australia scored 394 in their first innings, South Africa started off in a positive manner especially their skipper Graeme Smith. Just when the left hander was looking good, Mitchell Johnson sent down an unplayable delivery that kicked off from a good length to hit his gloves, eventually breaking his left hand.

It looked like Smith’s time was over for the series until the crowd saw him come out to bat in the second innings when nine South African wickets were down.

The Proteas had to bat out less than 9 overs to draw the game and Smith, with injections and pain killers wanted to be out there for his country. Australia went on to dismiss Smith with only 10 balls remaining but the entire crowd and the opposition players saluted the grit shown by Graeme Smith.

#5. Michael Clarke: South Africa vs Australia at Cape Town, 2014-15

Michael Clarke

When Australia and South Africa play a Test series, batsmen from either side tend to get bombarded with short ones because both teams have quality fast bowlers in their ranks. It was another closely fought Test series, this time in the Rainbow Nation.

Australia started the series brilliantly by winning the first Test but the home side came back strongly to level the series. It was perfectly set up for a humdinger at Cape Town.

On a ground in which Australia were dismissed for 47, Clarke won the toss and decided to bat against a fiery South African pace attack. Opener David Warner scored a whirlwind 135 off just 152 balls but at the end of day one, the entire cricketing fraternity were talking about Michael Clarke’s unbeaten 92.

The reason was how he played through pain from a short ball barrage especially from the tall Morne Morkel. In one such instance, Clarke took a blow on his left jaw while trying to evade a bouncer but continued to stay out there. The Australian captain, who was without a half century in his past 11 innings was very much determined to play through the pain.

In the end, Clarke went on to score an unbeaten 161 that went a long way in Australia winning the Test and with it the Test series 2-1. This innings had to be one of the best Test knocks in this millennium.