Happy Birthday, Sir Richard Hadlee!

A few people chase records while a few creates them. Sir Richard Hadlee definitely belonged to the latter. Standing tall and trim, Hadlee was one of the four best all-rounders- Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev are the other three- of his generation and others’ generation. While the other three brought a thing or two to the pack, Hadlee brought the swing. He was the original sultan of swing.

He would agree that he wasted the initial years of his career. He was poor, taken for runs, got out early and wasn’t belonging to the highest level. He then went on to make a few changes that changed the entire cricket forever.

Hadlee had two choices. Either to bowl fast and stay inaccurate or to concentrate on the accuracy and make the conditions do the rest. He controversially shortened his run-up, cut-shot his speed to bowl the proper out-swingers. It worked. He was the game-changed to his team since then.

He brought the dominance, aggression to the team and showed what it is like to fight for a win. Before Hadlee arrived on the international circuit, New Zealand had played 102 Tests – losing 46 and winning just 7. Then New Zealand won 22 Tests, from Hadlee’s 86 Tests is no mean feat then. In the 22 games, he had 176 wickets, with 17 five wickets haul at an average of 13.06, best among the bowlers who have at least 150 wickets in wins.

Slowly, he started to take up the responsibility of lower batter, he loved to finish matches for his team, his aggression and the hitting changed the way the Blackcaps looked at the game.

Hadlee, though, have a better average than the other three all-rounders, he was slightly lower when it comes to the batting, but most of his knocks came when the team looked down and out, something that matters the most.

Hadlee, between 1983 and 1990 averaged almost 33 with the bat and 19.64 with the ball, which meant that his average difference was 13.39. Only the great Imran Khan had a greater difference – that of 30.09, but then again, Imran was in a different league altogether.

Initially, he lived with the criticism that he doesn’t perform outside New Zealand then he went on to finish with 230 away wickets to his 201 wickets at home. There are two series that stands out for Hadlee. One was against Australia (9 for 52) and the other was against India.

The series against India was even better as he was the only one who managed to extract swing from the death flat surface in India, even better than Kapil Dev. He ended the series with 18 wickets at an average of 14. He was 37 back then.

Even when he is not at his best during the end of his career, he still managed to pick up five wickets to take his five-wicket haul to 36 which was only surpassed by Muralitharan and Warne. The record stands still even today.

All these years, after fighting to take New Zealand to famous victories, Hadlee had to fight bowel cancer last year and the tumour was successfully removed. Even now, nothing has changed with Hadlee as he has the same passion, grit and determination for the game. The only thing that is changed now probably is his famous moustache which is in grey colour now.

To make a bunch of inconsistent players to believe that they can win, to inspire a whole lot of players to pick up the bat, for showing the way how to win, for teaching us all the fierce bowling, the outswingers and how to stand up for the team when nobody did, Hadlee, undoubtedly is the best all-rounder New Zealand ever produced.

(Belated) Happy Birthday, Sir Richard Hadlee, thank you for inspiring us all!