Kumble, Dravid among Warne's 50 greatest cricketers

Published: Friday, August 31, 2007, 0:00 [IST]
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London: Expressing envy of Anil Kumble's maiden Test hundred in the twilight of his career, Aussie legend Shane Warne has put the Indian spinner at number 13th in his list of 50 greatest cricketers.
''To score a maiden Test hundred in his 118th game was amazing; I wish that I'd matched that,'' Warne wrote in his column in The Times while naming his number 11 to 20 in the list of 50 greatest cricketers.

''I can empathise with Kumble as a wrist-spin bowler. He is a real fighter, a bloke who will give you nothing on the field but has always been a true gentleman off it. With his height and bounce he comes into his own when the pitch is up and down, but he adapts well to most conditions,'' said the Aussie of the Indian who had so far taken 566 wickets from 118 Tests at an average of 28.73.

Current India captain Rahul Dravid found place one slot below Kumble in the list which surprisingly has explosive Aussie wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist at 20th below team mate Matthew Hayden who was at 17th.

''Dravid grew in my estimation the longer I played Test cricket.

He will not destroy you like a few batsmen lower in my list, but he can grind you down. As a bowler you know that once he is in, you need to produce a very good ball.

''That sounds obvious, but he is so strong technically that he makes fewer mistakes than other batsmen. And he should have captained India far earlier than he did,'' wrote the retired Aussie in praise of Dravid, who has scored 9,492 runs from 112 Tests at an average of 56.50.

But, Warne sprang a surprise by placing Gilchrist, who has scored 5,353 runs at 48.66 from 90 Tests with 344 catches and 37 stumpings, as low as 20th even while paying encomiums to his long time team mate as a match winner.

''That every country is trying to find an Adam Gilchrist shows his impact. Wicketkeepers now have to bat as well. If we were ever under the pump he could turn around the situation by counter-attacking and he has settled one-day games in the first hour.'' At number 11 is the former West Indies captain Courtney Walsh who had taken 519 wickets from 132 Test matches.

''For a paceman to pass 500 Test wickets is an incredible achievement given the rigours of the game. He gave you very little to hit and also had a very quick ball when he decided to use it.''

Warne's 12th man was ''graceful'' Mark Waugh who had scored 8,029 from 128 at 41.81. ''Whether he was batting, standing at slip or in the outfield, everything about this guy was graceful. Of all our great batsmen, he was my favourite to watch. The key was his timing and rhythm.'' The Hampshire captain had also special praise for England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff whom he placed at number 16th after Graham Gooch who was at number 15th in the list.

''... it was Fred who carried England through the 2005 Ashes with his batting, bowling and sheer presence. He was great for the game in Australia as well as England; our crowds were desperate to see him play in the series last winter. He is still the best all-rounder in the world,'' Warne said of Flintoff.

Former team-mates Matthew Hayden and Merv Hughes received the 17th and 18th slots while ''Mad Max'' Aravinda de Silva of Sri Lanka found place at number 19 ahead of Gilchrist.

Of Hayden, Warne wrote, ''He refused to give up after struggling in his first go at Test cricket. He kept fighting for his spot, scored heavily in domestic cricket and the tour to India in 2001 was a breakthrough. Since then he has been a phenomenal run-scorer and is now recognised as one of the best openers Australia have had.'' ''At team meetings we would spend more time talking about Aravinda than the rest of the Sri Lanka batsmen, but our plans rarely came off. He was sheer class, a lovely strokemaker and his hundred in the 1996 World Cup final ranks among the best one-day innings,'' Warne wrote of de Silva.

Warne's list (11-50): 11) Courtney Walsh; 12) Mark Waugh; 13) Anil Kumble; 14) Rahul Dravid; 15) Graham Gooch; 16) Andrew Flintoff; 17) Matthew Hayden; 18) Merv Hughes; 19) Aravinda de Silva; 20) Adam Gilchrist 21) David Boon; 22) Martin Crowe; 23) Stephen Fleming; 24) Brett Lee; 25) Darren Lehmann; 26) Steve Waugh; 27) Jacques Kallis/Shaun Pollock; 28) Saeed Anwar/Mohammad Yousuf; 29) Shoaib Akhtar/Craig McDermott; 30) Kevin Pietersen; 31) Tim May; 32) Robin Smith; 33) Allan Donald; 34) Bruce Reid; 35) Michael Vaughan; 36) Andy Flower; 37) Stephen Harmison; 38) Sanath Jayasuriya; 39) Stuart MacGill; 40) Kapil Dev; 41) Justin Langer; 42) Ravi Shastri; 43) Michael Atherton; 44) Alec Stewart; 45) Waqar Younis 46) Dilip Vengsarkar; 47) Chris Cairns; 48) Brian McMillan 49) Darren Berry; 50) Jamie Siddons.

Note: Warney yet to name his top ten.


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