Retiring Michael Bevan retires into retirement

Some players, like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer, go out in a blaze of glory. They go out with style and everyone remembers the grand event.

Other players sidle out of the back door, forced into retirement through injury. Sometimes these players are also greats.

Michael Bevan has announced his retirement. He's been suffering so badly with injuries this season that he's "finding it hard to get up for matches". In our opinion Michael Bevan was the greatest one-day international batsman of all time.

Being a great one-day player doesn't have the cachet of being a great Test player, as proven by the general lack of coverage of his retirement. Michael Bevan was a great player though, make no mistake.

It's a slightly different type of batting to Test cricket. Like all great players, the way Michael Bevan explains it, it sounds simple, but it's not, so don't underestimate his skill. In a run-chase, Michael Bevan would calculate what was required; work out who he could score off most easily and then, for each ball, he would weigh up the field and pick no more than three shots that would get him runs; then he'd select one according to the delivery.

What was astounding was how successfully he managed this. Time and again Australia would eke home in the last over, with Bevan at the crease. If Australia had batted first, then Bevan was just as adept at gauging what a decent score would be.

We remember his rearguard innings against England in the 2003 World Cup alongside World Cup winner Andy Bichel best, when Australia recovered from 135-8 to successfully chase 205 (Bevan 74 not out). But his finest innings was against the West Indies in 1996. Australia slumped to 38-6 chasing 173 and then 74-7. Bevan won the match with a four off the final ball.

The way Bevan batted was perfect for the one-day spectator as well. It's only a short-term thrill to see the ball dispatched for six. Michael Bevan's way of playing created the best kind of one-day matches. The tension mounts as the overs tick away and it all builds to a giant, nerve-jangling climax.

Of all the batsmen to have ever played one-day cricket, only three have averaged over 50 and only those same three's averages have never dropped below 40. Mike Hussey and Kevin Pietersen are barely starting their careers. Michael Bevan sustained his level of performance over 232 matches, finishing with an average of 53.58.

Some say that his average is artificially inflated by his 67 not outs, but in many way's that's the point. He didn't get out. He got Australia home.

He would have made a fine Test player as well. Ignore people who say he had a weakness against short-pitched bowling. His first-class average was 57.32. He hit 68 hundreds. He was ABSOLUTELY class.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

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Blogger russ said...

Agreed. The best late-middle-order player ever. Bevan had his chances at Test level, but never quite managed to take them. Though he did win a game with his bowling more than once. My favourite Bevan innings though, was this one. Partly because I was there, partly because even 6 down, 166 runs in arrears, and Kiwi supporters laughing at my mindless optimism, you could sense he'd get Australia home.

11:53 am  
Anonymous Blue and Brown said...

That's an excellent example.

Thanks Russ.

12:44 pm  

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