3 cricketers whose reputation was bigger than their teams
1. Sachin Tendulkar
Need I begin to explain the greatness of this man, who turned a cricket-loving country into a cricket-frenzy nation and eventually, thanks to a great contribution from Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, this sport became one of the religions. It could be next to impossible for any cricketer to replicate the impact of this legendary individual.
In a career that spanned 24 years, Tendulkar went on to become the highest run-scorer in ODIs and Test cricket and his record stands safe by a long margin from his nearest competitors. Whenever he was batting, the Indian fans would stick to the television sets with a hope that he would deliver a miracle and he did that quite a lot of times.
It was difficult for the Indian cricket team and the BCCI to keep him away from the game when he was reaching the fag end of his career, sheerly because the fans would revert in a bad way. He eventually did step out of the game in what turned out to be the most emotional farewell of all time and the TRP records of that game signify why he was bigger than the team on many occasions.
2. Ricky Ponting
Steve Waugh laid the foundation bricks to what turned out to be the greatest era in international cricket history in terms of dominating both the formats. The leader of that Mighty Aussies side, Ricky Ponting, went on to captain the team in more international matches than any other cricketer in the history and was the most influential member of that team.
It is never an easy task to manage a team with so many superstars, but Punter had all of them under his command led the team brilliantly. He exerted a level of dominance which was not seen many times before and was often hailed for the ease with which he dealt with many intricate situations.
Ponting went on to win two World Cups and two Champions Trophies, becoming the only cricketer in history to win four ICC trophies. He led the time till his final Test against Australia in 2012 and a match has not been found to the greatness of this individual.
3. Imran Khan
Talking about enigmatic leaders in world cricket, no one had a more autocratic presence at the top than Imran Khan during his tenure as the captain of the Pakistan cricket team. Perhaps the greatest all-rounder of his time, Khan led Pakistan to their first World Cup triumph in 1992.
His teammates blindly followed his commands and the entire nation rallied around the all-rounder during their matches. It came in as no surprise that he went on to become the first cricketer to have turned a Prime Minister of a country. Whenever it came to facing Pakistan, tackling Imran Khan and his exploits was the biggest challenge for the opposing team.
When Imran retired after the 1987 World Cup disappointment, President General Zia-ul-Haq personally requested him to come back as there was no one at that point who could fill those huge boots. Imran was devastating, scary and at the same time, a crowd-puller like no other.