We asked, you answered. Aside from their specialist bowlers, the India in the 2000s were well served in the part-timers department, when having an extra batsman was a luxury in limited-overs cricket.
There have been part-timers before them, but three Indian batsmen – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh – emerged as front-runners to the “greatest part-timer” title, when the question was put to the readers on Wisden India’s social media channels.
For those who followed cricket in the Nineties, Tendulkar was a regular feature with the ball, giving it sizeable turn on dry pitches and unfurling his bag of variations in the one-day format.
Very often, he was given the responsibility to fill the fifth bowler’s quota, sometimes even to bowl the last over in a thriller (who can forget the 1993 Hero Cup final?). He could bowl off-spin, leg-spin, seam-up … you name it. If it wasn’t for a dodgy back, and a plethora of other injuries, Tendulkar could have ended up with much more than his 154 ODI wickets.
Sachin was a lethal bowling option, when he was at his best. He could spin the ball both ways, with not much change in action and he used to have a nice flighted delivery as well.
— Sayan Dey (@sayan_dey) July 20, 2020
Undoubtedly Sachin Tendulkar was the best part time bowler India had.
He could bowl in crunch situations very effectively.
Remember the last over in the Hero Cup 93 when SA choked South African ?
2002 Test series Vs Aus, Kolkota Test, bowled superbly along with Harbhajan.
— Kishore Vaid 🇮🇳 (@KishoreVaid) July 20, 2020
Yuvraj Singh was, perhaps, the most accomplished of the three in terms of fulfilling the bowler’s role, regularly bowling in the white-ball formats under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. By the time the 2011 World Cup came about, he became a proper part of the bowling attack, deceiving batsmen with his sluggish action, giving the ball ample air and subtle movement of the pitch. As it turned out, he was the fan favourite.
Surelt it has to be Yuvraj Singh @YUVSTRONG12. Was called a pie chucker by a certain Kevin Petersen, but in his typical fashion Yuvi responded by getting him out the next game
— Uday Mehta (@Uday_B_Mehta) July 20, 2020
Ganguly’s gentle medium-pace was a crafty option on suitable decks. Carrying the attitude of an express quick, Ganguly managed to deceive batsmen with his cutters, change of pace, and sometimes, genuine seam. He took two ODI five wicket-hauls (the same number as Jacques Kallis!), finishing with an exact 100 wickets.
— raghul J (@raghulJ11) July 20, 2020
Ganguly’s admiration seemed to extend beyond mere statistics.
Dada's action takes the cake. Records don't matter to me 😛
— Billi Eh-Leash (@BilliEhLeash) July 20, 2020
Quite a handy support cast, that.
Sachin and Yuvi, will include Sehwag too
— Rahul Kumar | राहुल कुमार (@_beingrahulkr) July 20, 2020
Not everyone was convinced that Ganguly and Yuvraj justify the ‘part-timers’ tag. It can be a vague definition sometimes. We’ll let you decide.
Ganguly and Yuvraj were not part time bowlers. They were all rounders.
— chacha lame monk (@oldschoolmonk) July 20, 2020
Dada probably not a true all rounder but probably the smartest bowler, he would bowl only when he wanted to outfox his opponents or for special purpose like stopping the run flow.
— Mukul (@Filter_Koppi) July 20, 2020
Apart from the usual suspects, a few other names also found a mention, with Kedar Jadhav and Suresh Raina prominent among them. The duo enjoyed considerable responsibility under Dhoni’s leadership, rolling their arm over for odd bursts in the middle.
— Ravikant Gaur Rajput (@RKGaurRajput) July 21, 2020
— KASHISH (@crickashish217) July 20, 2020
— Prithvi (@The_BeardMan_) July 20, 2020