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3 great Aussie openers


The Aussie character in World Cricket

World Cricket would be a poorer place in the absence of Australia. It is quite impossible to not have Australia in the midst of the constantly ongoing cricketing action, the brisk pace of which slows down our life's troubles. From the era of the great Sir Don, the only mortal personification of cricket's highest honor since being "Godlike" is quality that immortals a bit like Tendulkar hold, to the reign of Michael Clarke that only recently came to a sad end with "Pup's" retirement, Australians have time and again produced entertaining players that make World Cricket a happier and exciting zone to be in.

The stuff that the Aussies have achieved, marked by not just winning the World Cup on 5 separate occasions but for making Cricket Australia an adjective for sheer hard-work and thorough rigor, treading on the path of which has produced a flurry of outstanding players and for contributing to the continuing ascension of World Cricket's image, coloring Cricket's fabric with an emulsion of typical Aussie grit and perseverance, they are the most legendary unit in the sport ever since the glory days of West Indies began to erode from public memory.

How the Aussies fanned Cricket's flames

Not only did the mighty Australians re-brand Cricket as an utterly competitive sport, moving over gentlemanly stances that hitherto portrayed it with a tint of softness as seen from the nobility dripping in English media and the frivolously overbearing portrayals of cricketers as symbols of worship, as depicted in the subcontinent which often sees a temple on the cricket pitch when in the other parts of the world it appears to be a battleground where heroes reign supreme instead of god's rising from the ashes of a contest.

Playing the game to their best potential and producing tough talking but sporty, intelligent and thinking cricketers who have lead by example, the Australian cricketers have squarely marginalized the scope of mediocrity to prevail in a game they have dominated with outstanding competitiveness. In Steve Waugh, they gave world cricket it's most charismatic and cool leader before the sun shone on Dhoni's shores. In Mark Waugh, Michael Hussey and Damien Martyn they gave Cricket their finest poetic touches to the art of batting. Through Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, they stoked a feisty concoction of flawed brilliance and astute skill that has inspired awe.

But with players of the class and caliber of a Mark Taylor, Mathew Hayden and David Warner, each of whom is a left hander who represented Australia as a batting opener on separate occasions, never playing together in the same side, Australia have produced an ardent tale of talents living up to their potential but not before conquering many a evil that often thwarted its prevalence.   

While former Captain Taylor and current swashbuckling bat Warner have turned 51 and 30 respectively on October 27th, Haydos as he is lovingly called will turn 42 two days later on the 29th and it makes for a fitting occasion to recollect some of their finest moments in a sport that has given them everything and to which they have contributed in grand fashion.

Leading by Example: Mark Anthony Taylor

Having seen his most promising time from 1994-1999 in an Australian team that eagerly wished to dominate world cricket ever since their major loss in Cricket World Cup 1992, Taylor the witty but cool leader crafted a Aussie side to tailor-made cricketing perfection. He honed under his ever watchful eyes an immensely talented brigade of performers who shone brightly with both bat and ball.

A cheerful character who always sought the positives even in the most dreaded situations for Australia, Mark Taylor's fundamental contribution in enriching the rich reservoir of talent's from Down Under has been his exceptional leadership skills with which he brought past stars but evergreen icons like the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne, Michael Slater, Michael Bevan and Glenn McGrath to the forefront of Australian cricket.

Debuting way back in 1989, 16 years ago from the present day when the likes of Virat Kohli, Rahane, Steven Smith and Darren Bravo weren't even in their teen years, Mark Taylor made his troops in the then famous 1990's team of Australia aware of inculcating the habit of winning. He wasn't the most technically reassuring cricketer of his time nor was he gifted with the flair that one associates with delightful stalwarts of the game such as a Brian Lara or Saurav Ganguly, but Taylor with an ever thinking and curious brain- extolled upon Australia's adversaries, both on foreign tours and at Down Under, immense pressure bordering on near fear of locking horns with team Australia.

He captained Australian team in both one day's and tests ever since the legendary Allan Border quit the game thus leaving on a young New South Wales batsman's shoulders the huge task of captaining a famous Australian side that boasted of promising talents such as Mark Edward Waugh, Steven Rodger Waugh and a certain Shane Keith Warne. From the mid nineties to the very nearly the beginning of 1999, Mark Taylor had turned men of the great valor, talent and astonishing abilities such as both the Waugh's and Warne, McGrath and Bevan and others into unique match winning stars who under the auspices of their ever cheerful leader nearly made the most of their potential while many greater glories were to greet them in the era post Mark Taylor's retirement, 1999 onward.

So effective and sharp were Mark's unique slip catching abilities that television scorecards often read about a batsman "caught Taylor, ball Warne". Making the most of his decade plus stay in the game where he prospered with immense mental strength, Taylor struck 7525 runs from 104 tests, from which he clipped 104 catches and collected 19 well compiled hundreds. His only one day international ton came during the final stages of his international career where he defied an Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath powered Indian team, striking a 105 at Bangalore in 1998.

But, if one was to step away from the long list of legends Australia has produced then looking at Mark Taylor's exceptional record that boasted of repetitive series triumphs at New Zealand, West Indies and England would take a backseat in front of his personal highest test score. His unbeaten triple century against Pakistan at Pakistan came at the height of Australia being challenged by a newly arrived Shoaib Akhtar and powered by Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed. At a time when he could have collected the single run he needed to go past the legendary Sir Donald Bradman, Taylor thought otherwise and declared the Australian innings at 599 at Peshawar. His own score stood alongside Sir Don's and in compiling a wonderful 334 and choosing not to overtake his cricketing hero, Taylor not just personified that Cricket is a game that is more about respect and camaraderie than about individual records but necessitated the need to make Australia stand on pedestals of competitiveness rather than running behind statistical amazements.

David Warner: A warning to both fast bowlers and ace spinners

Collecting 12 test centuries and 19 fifties from only 81 test innings at an average of 46, and in the process literally destroying some of the world's best bowlers, David Warner who is one of Australia's most promising and rapidly scoring opening batsmen in the past decade was always marked for limited over cricket. It is an irony and a David Warner iron fisted one at that, that the man who they thought would never make it to test cricket, didn't just do it but used him burlesque built and powerful forearms to be recognized as one of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball in a checkered list that includes Windies' Gayle and South Africa's AB de Villiers.

Often temperamental but mostly competitive and focused, Warner whose power punches have fashioned many blazing triumphs for Australia even made Yorkshireman Joe Root feel the weight of one swung in anger at him during a widely covered bar brawl with the tall right hander in Birmingham in 2013. Serving a two match ban for his grave undoing and wile ways of being, Warner didn't just come up but clawed his way into the Aussie playing eleven in tests. In the aftermath of his comeback in the national side he struck 8 powerful hundreds thus taking his overall tally to 12 test tons in only 5 years of playing Cricket. In the shorter format of the game where Warner averages a healthy 35, he has struck 4 hundreds and 12 fifties at an amazing strike rate of 90.

The man who made a blitzkrieg 89 off just 43 deliveries in his debut game against the mighty Proteas back in 2009, is now a constant feature and a powerful one in the ever competitive Aussie line up that looks up Warner as a chief destroyer of its' opposition. And, so far bowlers are yet to master David's warnings who has established the Warner name as a firm brand of power hitting and special timing in an Australian team that has always depended on its openers to give it a flying start.

Mathew Hayden: Australia's Incredible Hulk

It's hard to describe this remarkable Aussie batsman. Another legendary opening batsman from Down Under who consumed his opponents by his sheer enormous presence in the middle of the pitch, Haydos was never easy to bowl to. Even with his lanky frame he found diving around quite easy and would be the one rushing toward long on to stop boundaries and saving briskly hit strokes from the slip caldron.

Being 6 feet 4 in height induced vertigo to bowlers and fielders who took to their positions attempting to put a tap on this free-scoring giant and some of the game's finest contenders such as Lara, Afridi, Sehwag and Kallis all looked up to him with a sense of euphoric excitement when the mighty Australian walked down to the middle. There were many panting hearts all around in the stadium and in the enemy camp that witnessed Matt scoring 30 amazing test centuries and 10 one day international hundreds whilst scoring over 15000 international runs, with over 8600 of those coming from the test arena, in a stint that lasted for 15 years.

Packing a punch with a more technically solid Justin Langer, one of the only few Aussie batsmen who mastered the sport of martial arts, Hayden and Langer unleashed a judo kicking reign over Australia's opponents whilst working their way to compile a memorable 6000 run plus test partnership. One dubbed as someone who would never quite make it to Australia's playing eleven in tests by none other than Geoff Marsh, Hayden who even scaled past Brian Lara's 375 by going five runs better with his domineering 380 against Zimbabwe in 2004, a record which stood only for 6 months before Lara bounced back with a 400- had a personality that induced a vertigo of fear in the mind of the world's best bowlers.

Attack is the best form of defense they say and with those ripping biceps and broad shouldered frame, Hayden who was easily one of the finest defenders and pullers of the new ball worked hard both mentally and physically to remain at the top of his game.

It is through successes of stars like Hayden, Warner and former captain Mark Taylor that Australia has left a profusely charming imprint on World Cricket, one whose impact will be remembered in the years to come and one whose classicists gave such fine parameters of greatness to the sport that they have become literal yardsticks of measuring the impact of present day performers from all over.


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