Donald and Pollock among decade’s best

Most people around the world who live by the Christian calendar celebrated the Millennium thirteen and a half months ago, but in cricketing terms the tenth international season of the decade has now just come to a close.

So who were the top performers of the last decade?

Perhaps, by way of contrast, it is worth remembering who the ‘greats’ of the 80s were before looking at the 90s. Have individual performances improved?

The five most prolific batsmen of the 80s were Allan Border (6940 runs), David Gower (6446), Javed Miandad (5401), Gordon Greenidge (4980) and his opening partner Desmond Haynes (4837).

The 90s? There is no doubt where the batting award for the decade will be sitting. In the Waugh family trophy cabinet, if there is any room. Mark (6907 runs) just pips Steve (6578) and they are followed by Alec Stewart (6553), Michael Atherton (6440) and Brian Lara (6021).

Interestingly, the decade’s best batsman (arguably?), Sachin Tendulkar, has scored over 6400 runs but time flies…he made his debut in the last season of the 80s and therefore just fails to make the top five run-scorers in the 90s. He does have the best average, however.

South Africa’s leading contenders were Gary Kirsten (4556) and Daryll Cullinan (4095).

Even when the top five averages (minimum 1000 runs) are taken into account, SA don’t get a look in. Not surprisingly, Indians dominate the group with Tendulkar (57.29) top of the pile. Next is Vinod Kambli (54.20) followed by Rahul Dravid (53.58), Andy Flower (51.06) and Steve Waugh (51.01).

On the bowling front, however, South Africa are well represented by Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock, but let’s remind ourselves of the 80s ‘greats’, first.

Most prolific was the late, great Malcolm Marshall with 304 wickets, the only triple centurion. Sir Richard Hadlee (286) and Kapil Dev (273) came close with Imran Khan (234) and Ian Botham (223) making up the top five.

The most obvious difference between the two decades is the amount of Test cricket played, hence all five leading wicket takers claimed over 300 and they are headed by Shane Warne with a massive 366 victims. Courtney Walsh (350) wasn’t far behind while Curtly Ambrose (311), Allan Donald (308) and Glenn McGrath (305) just squeezed past the 300 mark.

Averages, as usual, tell a slightly different story. Using a minimum of 50 wickets as a benchmark, the list is headed by Jason Gillespie who took 68 wickets at 20.22 in the 90s. Just four hundredths behind him, however, with over 200 wickets to his name, is South African captain Shaun Pollock whose 203 scalps cost just 20.26 runs each. The next three are Ambrose (20.99), Donald (21.48) and McGrath (22.06).

Any bets that Jacques Kallis will feature in the top five during the next decade?

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