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1990s in Review

The batsmen unlucky to miss out on Wisden’s ODI team of the 1990s

by Felix Keith 5 minute read

Narrowing down a field featuring hundreds of players to create an ultimate XI is no easy feat and Wisden’s attempt at creating a men’s ODI team of the 1990s was no exception.

There were plenty of arguments in whittling down the side, but here is the side they came up with. If you don’t agree, then you can create your own one here.

Here are 10 batsmen who were unfortunate to miss the cut.

All stats refer to the period between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1999

Sanath Jayasuriya

Matches: 195, 5,083 runs @ 28.39, strike-rate: 90.84, 7 hundreds, HS: 151*

Jayasuriya was an opening batsman ahead of his times – a freewheeling pinch-hitter who rarely wasted a ball. While he failed to make scores in the semi-final and final in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup success, his 82 from just 44 balls against England saw him win the Player of the Match award in the quarter-final and scoop up the Player of the Tournament gong. It’s unsurprising that Jayasuriya’s strike-rate of 90.94 is the highest of any of the top 10 ODI runscorers during the Nineties, but his shot-a-minute unselfish style against the new ball meant failures were unavoidable and his average suffered as a consequence.


Matches: 200, 6,475 runs @ 39.48, strike-rate: 72.79, 6 hundreds, HS: 137*

Inzi was undeniably one of the most preeminent batsmen of the decade and a truly legendary figure for Pakistan. While he may be somewhat harshly remembered by some for the frequency of his involvement in run-outs, he scored plenty of runs in between those calamities. The towering right-hander is still comfortably Pakistan’s highest run-scorer in ODIs and while he made six of his 10 ODI hundreds in the Nineties, he could still not quite keep pace with the decade’s outstanding batsmen, narrowly missing out on this XI.

Mark Waugh

Matches: 191, 6,839 runs @ 39.78, strike-rate: 77.22, 13 hundreds, HS: 130

Perhaps one of the most unfortunate to miss out on selection, the younger Waugh brother’s ODI career was perfectly framed by the 1990s, with his debut and final game coming two years either side. Only two men scored more runs or made more hundreds in ODIs during the Nineties than Waugh, who was a super-consistent presence for Australia. His three centuries at the 1996 World Cup saw him become the first player to achieve the feat, while his 484 runs across the competition was bettered only by India’s Sachin Tendulkar.

Mohammad Azharuddin

Matches: 225, 6,858 runs @ 39.87, strike-rate: 76.66, 5 hundreds, HS: 153*

The decade’s second-highest ODI runscorer and an ever-present feature of India’s 50-over side. Azharuddin, who played one-day cricket for his country between 1985 and 2000, captained India for a whopping 174 ODIs, achieving 90 victories. However, when selecting the ODI side of the Nineties there were two things which worked against India’s skipper. His tally of five centuries in 209 innings over the decade compares poorly to others, while his performance at the 1996 World Cup – 143 runs at 28.60 – made him just the 39th highest run-getter.

Arjuna Ranatunga

Matches: 189, 5,579 runs @ 38.74, strike-rate: 78.89, 4 hundreds, HS: 131*

Ranatunga holds a special place in the hearts of Sri Lankans, having captained the side which won the 1996 World Cup, but when it comes to picking a Nineties side his record is simply outshone by compatriot Aravinda de Silva. While Ranatunga was a fine player, a capable left-handed middle-order batsmen, his impact lay elsewhere, as a leader, motivator and tactician. As the figurehead of his national side for 11 years, he was crucial in helping transform Sri Lanka into a major world player.

Hansie Cronje

Matches: 172, 4,997 runs @ 37.85, strike-rate: 76.66, 2 hundreds, HS: 112

Cronje’s runscoring from his international debut in 1992 to the end of the decade sees him come up short against the competition. Seen as an inspirational captain from 1994, Cronje’s batting never hit the same heights. He reached fifty 34 times in 160 innings in the Nineties but made just two centuries. His bowling was more than handy, though, returning 114 wickets at an average of 34.78 from 188 ODIs.

Sourav Ganguly

Matches: 126, 4,705 runs @ 42.38, strike-rate: 71.39, 9 hundreds, HS: 183

The left-hander is the ninth-highest ODI run-scorer of all time and only narrowly missed out on Wisden’s best side of the 1990s. While his record was impressive, it didn’t quite make the cut. Ganguly is the only man in the top 15 ODI runscorers of the Nineties to average over 40 and not make Wisden’s XI, with Tendulkar, Lara and Saeed Anwar showing the kind of esteemed company he was keeping.

Jonty Rhodes

Matches: 164, 3,779 runs @ 32.02, strike-rate: 77.86, 1 hundred, HS: 121

Rhodes may have set new standards in the field, with his athleticism, speed and dexterity showing up plenty of his contemporaries and ushering in the modern era, but his batting did not quite stand out as much. The South African managed to score just two ODI hundreds across 220 innings, so the Nineties did provide a fair reflection of his abilities with the bat. His most famous moment – the superman dive to run out Inzi at the 1992 World Cup – will rightly remain the enduring memory for most.

Gary Kirsten

Matches: 112, 4,044 runs @ 40.03, strike-rate: 70.55, 8 hundreds, HS: 188*

Rhodes’ South Africa team-mate Kirsten enjoyed a very successful time of things during the Nineties. His unbeaten 188 against the UAE was the highest individual total of the 1996 World Cup, helping him rack up 391 runs in the tournament altogether – the fourth highest total. Kirtsen was a determined batsman and a difficult man to dismiss, as his total of 5,732 balls faced in 112 innings – an average of 51 balls per game – across the decade displays.

Dean Jones

Matches: 80, 3,024 runs @ 43.82, strike-rate: 69.77, 4 hundreds, HS: 145

The parameters of this combined XI fell on the wrong dates for Jones, who retired from ODI cricket in 1994 after a hugely successful 10-year career. Widely regarded as one of the best one-day batsmen of his era, the Australian was prolific during the early Nineties, scoring around half of his overall total at a brilliant average of 43.82.

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