5 legends who redefined calmness in cricket before MS Dhoni
Cricket is a beautiful game with rich tradition only a few other team sports can rival and throughout its history, this game has given birth to legends whose character traits differ widely.
When it comes to calmness and muted on-field behavior, the first name that comes to an Indian cricket fan’s mind is Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Before his arrival, the best captains of Indian cricket have always emphasized aggression.
Be it Kapil Dev who always took the attack to the opposition or Sourav Ganguly who injected a sense of ruthlessness in the early years of 21st century, Indian captains never backed off from showing their emotions on or off the field.
By the end of the 2007 World Cup, Indian cricket was in turmoil after the Greg Chappell fiasco and the group stage exit from the tournament.
Indian cricket desperately needed a captain who could calm things down and MS Dhoni was the chosen one to take them forward. Dhoni had his own way of approaching the game. He promoted unorthodox batting technique, unique field settings and the ability to manage a team filled with legends. His ability to read the match situation proved invaluable as he won the World T20 in his maiden stint as captain.
He provided a breath of fresh air and brought the coveted 50 over cricket world cup back to India after 28 years. The one thing that separates Dhoni from all other captains is his innate ability to remain composed under an insane amount of pressure and this was the main reason for his success in global tournaments. His immense success as a finisher in the 50 overs game can also be attributed to his calm nature.
Here are five legends of the game before MS Dhoni who were renowned for their cool head and calmness
#5 Rahul Dravid
Even in 2018, few other names in world cricket evoke as much respect as Rahul Dravid. Right from his batting style to his off the pitch persona, Dravid is the ultimate 'old school' cricketer. His regressive personality perfectly suited the demands of a number 3 batsman in test cricket. Whenever an opener got out, Dravid walked down to the crease and soaked in all the pressure exerted by the bowler.
To succeed in test cricket, one needs a good temperament and Dravid’s calm and composed character enabled him to bat for long hours without a drop in concentration. Because of this rare quality, He was very successful in negotiating the new ball in tough, overseas conditions.
Under Dravid's captaincy, India won a test series in England but he resigned after India’s group stage exit. His calm and stoic personality enabled him to extract the best out of youngsters and this resulted in India’s U-19 World Cup victory in 2018.
#4 Mark Waugh
No one in cricket history did more justice to the word 'flamboyance' than Mark Waugh. He was a brilliant and elegant stroke maker but off the field, he was a quiet and unassuming character. He was the exact opposite of a typical Aussie cricketer in all the ways. The Aussies have always been relentless, aggressive and they liked to get under the skin of the opposition while Mark barely mouthed a word to the players from the opposite camp.
His character earned him a lot of plaudits even from the British. But unlike Dravid, He was prone to lapses in concentration which resulted in him throwing away good starts. He was one of the greatest fielders of his era and his brilliant catching and direct hit skills changed the course of several matches. From 2014, He has traveled with the Australian team as a member of the selection committee. He was inducted into the Cricket Australia's Hall of Fame in 2014.
#3 Daniel Vettori
Daniel Vettori is the epitome of the 'Kiwi brand of cricket' which is universally admired by all cricket fans. He broke into the international scene as a quiet, humble but hungry teenager and retained that calmness and composure for the rest of his career.
Vettori was New Zealand's most successful all-rounder after Richard Hadlee. He was famous for his crucial lower-order contributions, especially in Tests. He is one among the eight cricketers to have achieved the double of 3000 runs and 300 wickets in the format. He was the stand-in captain for Stephen Fleming on many occasions before taking over as full-time captain during the World T20 in South Africa.
His captaincy career was filled with humbling defeats away from home and he finally resigned before the 2011 World Cup. After retiring from international cricket, Vettori worked as the head coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore until 2018 and has earned praise from many legends like Gayle and AB de Villiers.
#2 Stephen Fleming
The Chennai Super Kings think tank consists of probably the two coolest cricketers to have ever played the game in MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming. Both have a lot of similarities in the way they approach the game.
Like Dhoni, Fleming was unorthodox with his field settings, always possessed a still head even when his team was not playing well and relied a lot on instincts rather than preplanned tactics.
Fleming was the first New Zealand cricketer to go past 7000 runs in Test cricket and played more than 100 Tests for the Black Caps. But his batting statistics rarely speak his worth as he will always be remembered as the gritty skipper who imparted a winning culture on the New Zealand team.
For a whole decade, Fleming captained New Zealand and led them to some of their most famous victories especially against Australia. After retirement, he became the head coach of CSK and played a crucial role in their three title wins.
#1 Sir Viv Richards
No name in cricketing history has infused more fear inside a bowler than Vivian Richards. He was the bowler’s worst nightmare and it often looked like he was having fun rather than batting to accumulate runs.
His heroics with the bat always overshadowed the calmness and composure he displayed while on the field. Very few bowlers had the guts to sledge him and even if they mouthed a few words only his bat would reply. In fact, all the West Indies legends of the 80s and 90s followed the same mantra.
They all played an aggressive brand of cricket but never sledged or disrespected their rivals in any way. Richards was the most destructive of them all and his persona made the whole cricketing world to fall in love with his batting. His achievements in ODI are scarcely believable as he played in an era of bowling friendly pitches and refused to wear a helmet for his whole career.