Batting in cricket is about building partnerships. The surest way of getting a big score is by stringing together a few big partnerships. That’s what coaches want from the batters. Some batters seem to play well together and help each other to score big runs. They usually form big partnerships and put their team in a strong position in the process. Let us look at a few batting pairs who formed a great partnership.
Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes - Tests
148 Innings – 6482 runs – 16 Hundred run partnerships – 26 Fifty run partnerships – Highest Partnership 298–Average 47.31 - Time period 1978 - 1991
One of the most devastating pairs to have ever played the game together. It wasn’t just about the runs they scored but the dominating manner in which they scored them. They attacked from the get go, (Greenidge in particular) and it was their approach which usually deflated the bowling attack. The bowlers had a tough time dislodging them in the first place, so you can imagine how demoralized they felt to realize that the likes of Richards and Lloyd were still to come. They scored a partnership of more than 50 runs every 3.5 innings. They also passed 200 runs together 4 times. None of those more memorable than when they scored 298 runs together, overhauling the entire England team score of 260 on their own and setting up an innings win in the process in Antigua in 1990.
Mathew Hayden and Justin Langer – Tests
122 Innings – 6081 runs – 14 hundred run partnerships – 28 fifty run partnerships - Highest Partnership – 255 – Average 51.53 – Time period 1997 – 2007
Beginning in 2001, they opened together for the first time and put on 158 runs in 42.2 overs. That set the template for what was to follow. They added over 5600 runs together as openers from 113 innings. One of the few pairs of openers who were both left handed. Even so, their different styles of playing ( Langer,preferring to using the pace of the ball to score through nudges and glides, while Hayden, a solid driver) and different heights meant that bowlers were constantly adjusting their lengths to them. They inevitably laid a solid platform for the rest of the batting to follow and the dominant and quick scoring fashion in which they scored their runs often deflated the bowlers. Very seldom did they score at a rate of less than 4 runs per over.
It’s not mere coincidence that during the time period in which West Indies and Australia dominated world cricket; they were blessed with a crack opening pair.
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir – Tests
87 Innings – 4412 runs –10 hundred run partnerships, 26 fifty run partnerships – Highest Partnership 233 – Average 52.52 – Time period 2004 – 2012
State mates and good friends, but that’s where the similarities end. Their batting styles were as different as chalk and cheese. Gambhir was a leftie and was a nudger and accumulator of runs, Sehwag, the right-hander was a dasher and looked to dominate from ball one, almost treating the bowlers with contempt. To have 36 partnerships in just 87 innings together tell us that when they were in hot form, they were clearly a very destructive opening pair. A large part of India’s success over Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the 2008 – 09 time period was because of the platforms they laid. If one looked at the six victories of India outside India between 2009-2010, Gambhir and Sehwag put up a 50+ score 5 times in 7 innings they played together (one of the scores was an unbeaten 2*) Such was their impact, in spite of India having a famed middle order comprising Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman during this period.
Mark Taylor and Michael Slater - Tests
44 innings – 3887 runs – Average 51.54 – Highest Partnership 260 runs – Time Period 1993 – 1998
Hayden made his test Debut in 1994, Langer in 1993, but the pair only started batting together at the top of the innings was Mark Taylor and Michael Slater. They were that good when they batted together, good enough to not allow Hayden and Langer to get a look in. Right from their very first innings together in the opening Ashes test of 1993 where they put on 128 for the first wicket, the pair gelled together. They were particularly severe in Ashes tests, scoring 1735 runs in 30 innings against England passing fifty on 12 occasions. A right-left combo, Slater usually played the aggressor, while Taylor looked to grind the opposition out.
Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman - Tests
86 Innings – Runs 4065 – Average 51.45 – Highest Partnership 376 runs – Time Period 1996-2012 – 14 fifty run partnerships, 12 hundred run partnerships
Indian cricket fans will never forget that partnership between the two in Kolkata, as well as the partnership against Australia again in Adelaide. On both occasions their team was in big trouble, on both occasions they not only played the rescue act but put their team back on a firm footing.
Dravid usually batted at no.3 and Laxman usually batted at no. 6 meaning that if they had a big partnership, they were either bailing the team out and putting it on track or putting the team in a commanding position.
The long parallel career guys - Tests
Other notable mentions – Tests
The above were the some of the best partnerships in Test cricket. It’s not surprising that many of these pairings were opening pairs who got a chance to bat together the most.
If we turn our attention to ODI cricket, what would the best partnerships be?
Again, these are in no particular order and you will see a bias towards openers as they get the maximum opportunity to bat with one another.
Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly
They scored 8227 runs together at an average of 47.55 in 176 ODIs. They had 26 century stands and 29 fifty stands. They scored 6609 runs as well. These records will not be broken easily. They also hold the record for most century stands away from home, at 15. They were a left-right combination and both had a hunger for scoring big runs and centuries. Until recently Ganguly was second the second highest century maker for India after Tendulkar and is still the second highest run getter for India in ODIs as of February 2019. They batted for India together for the first time in ODIs against SA in 1996 and put on 126. They had 3 double century partnerships. These two were India’s answer to Gilchrist/Hayden, Greenidge/Haynes and it was only after they started opening together did India have a settled opening partnership. When you think that they usually faced the likes of Wasim, Waqar, Akhtar, Donald, Pollock, McGrath, Lee Gillespie when they took guard, you can get a good idea of how well they played.
Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden
It’s hard to look past these 2 - Both big men, both intimidated bowlers, with Hayden often charging at the bowlers. 5409 runs together in 114 innings, with 16 century stands and 29 fifty stands. Average over 47 at a strike rate of almost 100. They featured together in 87 Aussie victories and in those wins they had 15 century partnerships. It speaks volumes of the impact they had when they got going. Their most famous partnerships were in the World Cup Final of 2003 and 2007. In 2003, they put on 105 in just 14 overs laying the platform for Ponting and Martyn to destroy India while in 2007 they did even better putting on 172 in just 22.5 overs with Gilchrist going ballistic and ensuring that Sri Lanka did not stand a chance.
Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist
Ever since Steve Waugh decided to promote Gilchrist in 1998 to partner his brother Mark, the pair did not look back. Gilchrist scored a century in just his 2nd match as an opener and the pair batted at the top together for 93 innings scoring 3851 runs together at an average over 41, including batting together at the 1999 World Cup, which was Australia’s first of 3 consecutive WC wins. This pair often laid the platform and their left-right combo and contrasting approach complemented them. Waugh the elegant touch player, with smooth flicks and drives, Gilchrist the mad dasher known to give the ball a good crunch. They had 8 century stands together.
Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes
It speaks of their pedigree that they feature in the list of both Test and ODI partnerships. In ODIs they batted together 102 times scoring 5150 runs at an average of 52.55. They featured in 15 century stands, 13 away from home, to show that they dominated in the ODIs anywhere in the world and were miles ahead of their peer group. When you think of the opposition bowlers of the late 70s through the 80s you realize that they were up against some mean bowling attacks facing the likes of Denis Lillee, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev.
Sachin Tendulkar and Virende rSehwag
They were the opening pair for India during the 2003 and 2011 world cups. They batted 93 times for India together and scored 3919 runs at an average of 42.13. Their opening act against Pakistan in the 2003 world cup will forever be etched in the memories of Indian Fans and they often laid a solid and quick platform for India and had 12 century stands as well.
The Current Greats
It will not be surprising at all if any one or all of the above 3 become known as one of the all time best ODI batting pairs by the time they are done.
The Long career together guys
Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana
They batted together 105 times and scored 3230 runs together at an average of just over 31. You would think that these stats are nothing extra ordinary. While that is true, what was extraordinary was the manner in which they revolutionized the role of the openers in ODI cricket. They went BANG right from ball one and did not care for the reputation of the bowler at the other end. Their opening salvos often put Sri Lanka on the path to victory, none more so than during the 1996 world cup. Their exploits brought Indian pacer ManojPrabhakar to bowl off spin during a group match in the 96 world cup in which they easily chased India’s target of 272. So scared were the Indians of the way these two batted and chased totals that when the teams met again in the 1996 WC semi final, they decided to chase on a slow and wearing pitch, leading to their eventual downfall.
These were the best batting partnerships in cricket. With the likes of Kohli - Pujara, Smith - Warner, Williamson – Taylor and Root- Buttler still some years away from their retirement, that could all change if a similar list was made a few years from now.
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