Chris Gayle and David Warner
Chris Gayle (left) and David Warner, two of the most destructive batsmen in the game, during a lighthearted moment in the IPL last year. Image Credit: Twitter

Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad were engaged in a war of words on social media debating whether Chris Gayle or David Warner was more destructive. At a time when cricket has come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 crisis, these debates can help keep cricket fans entertained.

Debates on greatness often come up when two players are extremely talented. Sometime back, the debate was on whether Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara was the best. Earlier, comparisons were made between Tendulkar and Gavaskar - and even Don Bradman - though they played in different times. Comparing cricketing skills is not like matching skills of a film actor.

I have been fortunate to report many of Gayle and Warner’s destructive knocks, and although I wanted to be impartial, I was tempted to label one of them as the most destructive batsman. But I could never do it because many factors work towards playing a destructive knock. A lot depends on the pitch as well as the quality of the bowling attack. The size of the ground also plays an important role.

Though Viv Richards was hailed as the most destructive batsman during his playing days, Kapil Dev’s match-winning knock of 175 against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup is considered the greatest one-day innings. Despite this knock not being televised and no video footage exists, it is still hailed as the best based on comments from those who witnessed it.

When South Africa’s AB De Villiers cracked 149 off 44 balls against West Indies at Johannesburg in 2015, he was hailed as the ‘Superman of cricket’, and the tag ‘Devastating De Villiers’ fitted perfectly.

Instead of debating who is the best destroyer, it is important to admire the shots they play during their destructive knocks. The manner in which De Villiers converted the deliveries and sent them soaring away for sixes are undoubtedly some of the electrifying moments in cricket. The shots played by Virender Sehwag and Shahid Afridi were also stunning. Having witnessed devastating knocks by Sanath Jayasuriya, Adam Gilchrist and Rohit Sharma too, one should believe that on their day they can be the best - since all have in their repertoire shots that can make you gasp in awe.

The same applies to the debate about Tendulkar and Lara. On his day, Lara can entertain you with shots that you can never ever forget all your life. It is like Tendulkar’s ‘Desert Storm’ knock at the Sharjah Stadium in 1998. Thus, it is more important to appreciate an innings by a batsman rather than compare him with another.

A keen cricket follower will always remember some of the breathtaking shots they’ve witnessed. While standing at the Sharjah Stadium, it is still a great feeling looking at those areas where Tendulkar hit those unbelievable shots!