There are some moments in cricket that are historic because of what happened. A hundred or a five-wicket haul will also be special. Lifting the World Cup trophy will remain the peak of cricketing careers.
There are some moments that are memorable because of how it happened. Sachin Tendulkar sending the ball into the Sharjah crowd after a sandstorm. AB de Villiers wearing pink and smashing a century faster than the mind can process.
Then there are others that become iconic because of the way things unfolded on a cricket field. They have a take-your-breath-away quality about them. A decade ago, the Ashes Test at Edgbaston went almost as down to the wire as it’s possible for a match to go. You knew before the end that the losing team would be devastated, and so it proved when Brett Lee knelt down after defeat by two runs. And when Andrew Flintoff took some moments off to put a consoling arm around Lee, it made for the very best of sport – and also of freeze frames.
Sunday (August 7) marks a decade since that moment. As good a time as any to look back at ten other iconic photographs that captured the infinite breadth of the game in one frame.
Andrew Flintoff and Brett Lee, Ashes 2005
The ‘Spirit of Cricket’ is often talked about, but rarely was it exhibited as wholesomely as at this moment. One of cricket’s most fierce rivalries had just seen a classic match, but for many, this moment topped the result. It helps, too, that Flintoff has joked often that what he said to Lee was, “That’s 1-1, you Aussie b*****d”. The line elicits a chuckle, and you simultaneously know it’s not true – elevating the beauty of that 2005 moment further.
Dale Steyn and Grant Elliott, World Cup 2015
A decade after Flintoff-Lee, the 2010s generation got their own golden moment when Grant Elliott, a journeyman who became a hero for one night, extended his arm to Dale Steyn, the finest bowler of his era who had fallen short on that night. “It was the perfect gesture,” Steyn was to reminisce later.
Sachin Tendulkar walking out for his final Test innings, 2013
Very early in his career, Tendulkar and India came to a mutual realisation. He wasn’t just himself, he belonged to the whole cricket-crazy country. And they just couldn’t let him go. If ever a picture was to speak the thousands of words of a 24-year career, this was it.
Sourav Ganguly at Lord’s, 2002
Of the many acts and moments that marked Ganguly’s reign as the Indian captain supreme, none give the visceral thrill and joy of this one, none seem to evoke in that exact fashion why the Prince of Calcutta was the rebel Indian cricket needed. He says he regrets the gesture now. The million and first use of this image says cricket fans don’t mind!
The run out at Edgbaston, World Cup 1999
Lance Klusener had smoked every bowler put in front of him in a 1999 World Cup in which he could do no wrong. Until he did get one wrong. The ball still hit the middle of the bat, but the pressure did Klusener in, calling Allan Donald through for a suicidal single. It’s called the greatest ODI in history, and with reason. In fact, there were no losers in the match itself. But tell that to the jubilant Australians who were through to the World Cup final, or to the crestfallen Allan Donald, who was down on his knees.
Sir Donald Bradman bowled for a duck in his final Test innings, 1948
Sir Donald Bradman needed a measly four runs in his last Test innings to finish his career with a batting average of 100. Everyone knows that he was dismissed for a duck. That nearness to perfection without attaining it made his career all the more remarkable. And it gave the cricket world its most iconic number in 99.94.
The Jonty Rhodes dive, World Cup 1992
Pakistan were 135 for 2 with Inzamam-ul-Haq batting on 48 when Rhodes changed how the world would view him, and fielding, forever with that gravity-defying airborne run out. Pakistan’s innings faltered and South Africa went on to win that game by 20 runs.
Javed Miandad v Dennis Lillee, 1981
Cricket is supposed to be a non-contact sport. But that day in Perth, Miandad and Lillee – both fiery competitors who not only never backed down but tried to get one up on the opposition by means fair and foul – wanted to usher in a WWE era in the game. There was a block, a slyly aimed kick, and a violent charge with the bat. Fortunately, there was nothing further.
Arjuna Ranatunga v Ross Emerson, 1999
There’s something about feisty men from the Asian subcontinent and Australian grounds. In perhaps the most (in)famous player versus umpire face-off yet, Ranatunga not only led his team off the field but wagged his finger in the face of Emerson, the umpire, and jabbed him in the chest for good measure. Ranatunga’s actions might not have been justified, but his anger was – Emerson having called Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking on a seemingly pre-decided basis.
Mike Gatting bowled by Shane Warne, Ashes 1993
Let’s admit that there have been better balls bowled than that one, even by Warne himself. But let’s also acknowledge that no bowler and no ball could have conjured such theatre. A dream dismissal for a legspinner – pitching outside leg and hitting top of off – and off the very first ball he was bowling in a country, during the most enduring series in cricket. Only Shane Warne could do it.
MS Dhoni hitting Nuwan Kulasekara into the Wankhede sky, World Cup 2011
World Cups have been won and lost since 1975. But in the 11 global tournaments that have taken place so far, no one has won the World Cup with a six. It needed the coolest head that cricket has perhaps ever seen to soak in a cauldron of pressure and finish it in the style that is the childhood dream of anyone who has ever held a cricket bat.