For years, decades, we have been fortunate enough to witness many greats grace the game and leave us in awe with their skills, performances, and achievements. However, their exit leaves a huge gap, which may take years to get filled. Their performances inspire the next generation of cricketers to carry on the legacy and take their nations to greater heights. Talking about such cricketers, on this day in 1991, three of West Indies’ heavyweights, who dominated the 1980s, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall and Jeff Dujon played their last match for West Indies, in a Test against England at The Oval.
Richards known for his swagger, grace and effortlessness amassed 8,540 runs, only Allan Border (9,257) and Sunil Gavaskar (10,122) had more runs back then. Marshall, one of the fiercest bowlers of his era bowed out of the game with as many as 376 scalps, which at that time was only behind Ian Botham (379) and Richard Hadlee (431). He was level with Kapil Dev who like Marshall had 376 wickets. Speaking of Dujon, there haven’t been many wicketkeepers who have bettered his 270 dismissals, which was only behind Rod Marsh (355) at that time. Dujon was also a handy batsman down the order. He was one of only three wicketkeepers to have scored 3,000-plus runs in Tests – Marsh and Alan Knott being the other two.
Here’s a look at some more prolific cricketers who bid adieu in the same Test:
Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer (AUS): This was a unique incident as it marked the first time three cricketers, each of whom played 100-plus Tests, retired in the same match. It included the most successful spinner - Warne and the most successful fast bowler – McGrath. They shared 1,271 wickets between them. Langer, who played 105 Tests, finished with 7,696 runs, which was the most runs for Australia since his debut in 1993, after his opening partner Matthew Hayden (7,739) and Ricky Ponting (9,368).
In the last match the trio played together, Australia thrashed England by 10 wickets to complete a 5-0 whitewash.
In matches they played together, Warne and McGrath were the most successful pair in Test cricket – a record that still stands 13 years after they played their final Test.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad with 902 wickets though are closing in.
Greg Chappell, Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee (AUS): Yet another legendary trio of Australians called it a day together and with that brought an end of an era. While Chappell bowed out of the game as only the third player to score a century on debut and in his final Test, Marsh exited as the most successful wicketkeeper with 355 dismissals to his name. Lillee was at his best when he bowled in tandem with Jeff Thomson – two of the most terrorising bowlers of that era – on par with a few West Indies giants like Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, etc... With 355 wickets, Lillee retired as the most successful bowler. Lance Gibbs, Fred Trueman and Bob Willis were the other bowlers who had more than 300-plus wickets to their names.
Another wicketkeeper – Wasim Bari – who played 81 Tests and inflicted 228 dismissals also played his final Test. In his 81 Tests, Bari scored 1,366 runs at 15.88, which included six fifties.
Jeremy Coney (NZ), Joel Garner, Larry Gomes (WI): The trio across two teams played their final match in 1987 at Christchurch. One of New Zealand’s finest, Jeremy Coney scored 2,668 runs at 37.57. He had to wait for nine years and finally at the age of 31, he scored his first century. As captain, Coney lost just one series, which was an away one against Pakistan in 1984-85. Overall, he won five out of his 15 Tests in charge, which included series wins over Australia (home and away) and England (away). His final Test series against West Indies at home ended in a 1-1 draw.
Talking of Joel Garner, not only was he one of the most deadliest bowlers for a decade since his debut in 1977, but when he retired, only Lance Gibbs had more wickets than his 259 wickets among West Indies bowlers. An ICC Hall of Famer, Garner along with greats like Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Marshall and others ensured the West Indies were a dominant force in both Test and ODI cricket, which included them not losing a series in 15 years, winning the 1979 World Cup, and also ending up second best behind India in 1983.
His team-mate Larry Gomes was a determined middle-order batsman for West Indies, who had played consistently from No. 3 to 5 with great success. Six of his nine Test centuries came against Australia, out of which his 127 on a bouncy strip at Perth is considered to be his best. He also scored a couple of centuries against England in the famous 5-0 thrashing of the hosts in 1984.
Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman (IND): With over 20,000 runs and 56 centuries between them, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were one of the most formidable combinations in the Indian middle-order, which also consisted of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. From battling it out the entire day in the Eden Gardens Test in 2001 to bowing out of Test cricket at the same time, Dravid and Laxman served Indian cricket with terrific distinction in the 132 matches they played together and beyond. However, their last series together against Australia (away) was less than memorable as Dravid and Laxman managed just 194 runs and 155 runs respectively as India suffered a 4-0 drubbing.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan (PAK): Pakistan’s highest run-getter Younis and his nation’s most successful captain Misbah played their final match against West Indies at Roseau in 2017. Under Misbah, Pakistan lost just one series in the UAE and overall, he won 26 out of his 56 matches in charge, leaving Imran Khan with 14 wins far behind. Younis, who scored 34 hundreds and 33 fifties from his 118 Tests, is the only Pakistan batsman to have scored 10,000-plus runs. MisYou as they are fondly called are still associated with Pakistan cricket – while Younis is the batting coach of the team, Misbah is the head coach and selector. They played 67 Tests together and scored close to 11,000 runs combined, which included 32 centuries. They also have the record of having the highest partnership runs for Pakistan.
Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn (SA): One of the most recent departures from the Test arena was that of Hashim Amla and Dale Stayn – two of South Africa’s mainstays over the last 15 years or so. Amla, who made his debut against India in 2004, scored over 9,000 runs at 46.64. Since his Test debut, only Alastair Cook with 12,472 runs has scored more.
On the other hand, Steyn has been a genuine match-winner for South Africa over the years, but his appearances over the last few years in the longest format were limited due to injuries. Steyn, who is South Africa’s highest wicket-taker, picked up the most wickets (439) since his debut in 2004 after James Anderson (542). More so, he had done so with a strike-rate of 42.3 which was the best after Kagiso Rabada (38.8) since the former’s debut. They played their last game against Sri Lanka at Port Elizabeth last year. While Amla scored 0 and 32, Steyn went wicketless in the match, yet bowing out as the most successful bowler his nation has ever produced.