2007 WC bids goodbye to 10,000-club

Port of Spain, March 4:

Cricket fans in the Carribean will be watching batting greats of the modern era for the last time as the elite 10,000-club will virtually be unrecognisable at the next World Cup in four years’ time.

West Indies’ Brian Lara, Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq, Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya, and Indians Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are the exclusive members of the club probably making their last Cup appearance.

All of them are likely to be absent when the Cup arrives in the sub-continent in 2011, as time catches up with them. Lara and Jayasuriya are both nearing 38, while Inzamam will be 37 before the tournament and Tendulkar 34 during it. Ganguly and Dravid both are 34. And one more Cup will be one too many even for the masters. They are attractive batsmen capable of dominating and demoralising any attack in all conditions in Tests and one-dayers. The other common thing is they can win matches for their teams single-handely.

Tendulkar, Lara, Inzamam and Jayasuriya made their Cup debuts in 1992 and Ganguly and Dravid seven years later in England, underlining their consistency, physical fitness and

mental toughness.

Lara took just one Cup match to herald his arrival at the biggest stage, hammering an unbeaten 88 in his team’s victory over Pakistan at Melbourne. South Africa looked the form team in 1996 World Cup but were unfortunate to run into a devastating Lara, who knocked them out with a brilliant century in the quarter-final at Karachi. Lara haunted South Africa again in the 2003 edition, scoring a superb hundred at Cape Town to set up his team’s surprise victory.

Tendulkar may be currently struggling to conjure up his old magic, but remains India’s best bet even after spending an incredible 17 years in international cricket. His best came in 2003 in South Africa when he scored 673 runs in 11 matches to emerge the top scorer. His awesome form was the key to India’s march into the final.

Like Lara, the Indian is also known for winning matches from virtually hopeless positions but just cannot defy the time. He has been plagued with various injuries in recent years. Tendulkar has now reached a stage where he seems to be competing only with himself.

Inzamam performed big deeds even when he was the baby of the team in 1992, smashing a brisk 60 against

New Zealand in the semi-final and then a bold 42 in his team’s win in the final against England. He may not be the swiftest runner between the wickets, but is second to none when it comes to adapting himself to all conditions. His uncanny knack of finding gaps has often driven fielders to the verge of despair.

Jayasuriya had a mediocre World Cup in 1992, but blossomed in the sub-continent four years later with his consistent over-the-top hitting. The left-hander gave a new meaning to batting, making the most of the fielding restrictions. His 44-ball 82 in the quarter-final knocked England out of the tournament. He has never looked back since then.

Ganguly made news on his maiden Cup appearance when he slammed 97 against South Africa. He then hit a majestic 183 in a record 318-run stand for the second wicket with Dravid against Sri Lanka.

Only a few can match his off-side shots, especially drive through the covers. He uses his feet remarkably well against spinners and can hit sixes with consummate ease. His never-say-die spirit recently saw him make an impressive comeback after 16 months, just when his critics had written him off.

Dravid had to initially struggle before cementing his place in the one-day team and it was a tribute to his mental toughness that he steadily became an integeral part of the side. In 1998, he played in a triangular home series involving minnows Bangladesh and Kenya to prove his credentials in the shorter version of the game. Nine years later, he is leading the country to the biggest one-day event.

10,000-run club

Name Matches Runs Highest Centuries

Tendulkar 381 14,783 186* 41

Inzamam 375 11,665 137* 10

Jayasuriya 379 11,538 189 23

Ganguly 286 10,470 183 22

Lara 290 10,136 169 19

Dravid 310 10,044 153 12