In cricket, rivalries always create an intense environment during the match, and the fans love the tension. All you have to do is pick a side.
Cricket has been played as a sport for centuries—and over the years—it has set the stage for some iconic one-on-one clashes between cricketers from the opponent teams even though the game is hailed as ‘a gentleman’s game.’ Such captivating encounters often exist between some of the most gifted and skilled athletes in the world. These heated clashes are often controversial and create unforgettable moments for the fans.
Whether a batsman is smashing his rival team by swinging his bat in the air or a genius spinner weaving a web around the batsman, one-on-one rivalries in cricket never fail to entertain the audience. So, let us take a moment to remember some iconic individual rivalries that made eye-grabbing headlines every time they played head-to-head.
The former captain of the West Indian team, Brian Lara—and the Australian legend Glenn McGrath gave us some hair-raising on-field battles. McGrath was celebrated for his consistency and accuracy, while Lara is still remembered for his smashing batting skills. The rival duo faced one another in international cricket 19 times—and Lara scored a whopping 704 runs off Glenn McGrath's deliveries, while the latter bowled him out 14 times.
The former Australian player Ricky Ponting faced Harbhajan Singh, the former Indian bowler—who is praised for his brilliant ability to knock down wickets on any kind of pitch—in only 22 innings across every format of the game. While Ponting, the talented batsman—was known for scoring a whopping 547 runs at an average of 27.35, Harbhajan ousted him 10 times—making him the only bowler who bowled out the Aussie legend in international cricket a maximum number of times.
The Master Blaster’s rivalry with McGrath, the exceptional leg-spinner was fierce every time he had to face the lanky pacer. Tendulkar has always respected the Australian legend, but McGrath used it against him on numerous occasions. Against McGrath, Tendulkar does not particularly hold a ground-breaking record, but every time they clashed, it garnered immense viewership.
Watson and Wahab had been in conflict with each other for ages—but the tension peaked in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final when Watson survived a parched spell of short-pitched bowling to guide his team to victory. Wahab’s torrid bowling spell became the highlight of the 2015 World Cup. In a press conference, Wahab revealed that he was earlier taunted by Watson, which infuriated Wahab—and as a result, he executed some of the most challenging deliveries.
This rivalry showcases friendship first and then carves out space for competitiveness. Amid the Ashes rivalry—both the English and Australian players were remembered as good friends, even when they were giving their best performance for their national teams during the tournament.
But everything changed during the late 80s when Allan Border gave up on his laid-back demeanor to lead the Australian squad as the captain with greater focus. Border led his team to three consecutive remarkable Ashes victories in ‘89, ‘91, and ‘93—and the trophies were bagged through fierce aggression. On the other hand, Botham emerged as the second-best player in their intense on-field duels.
Every time these cricketing legends collided, the mercury spiked through the roof! These iconic rivalries showcase a different side of Cricket and its legacy—contradictory to the pristine reputation that the game holds.