Tailender is a term used to describe a lower-order batter in cricket. Usually, batters from no. 8 to no. 11 are called the tailenders.
While most cannot bat to save their lives, some are quite adept at scoring useful runs late in the innings.
This article will discuss the 10 best tailenders of all time in terms of their batting prowess.
We have consciously excluded bowling all-rounders and wicketkeeper-batters from this list. We have only considered the players who have played a fair amount of international cricket.
In no particular order, the list goes like this:
#1 Wasim Akram
It would be unfair to call Akram a tailender, while it might also not be proper to term him as an all-rounder. He used to bat at No. 8 primarily throughout his career. Besides, he made a double century in Test cricket and hit a six in the final over to win the match in the final of the Nehru Cup held in 1989.
The left-handed Akram was capable of rendering lusty blows and also managed to play ferocious pull shots to hit boundaries. He averaged 22 in Test cricket and 16 in ODIs with the bat and always remained a reliable lower-order batter.
#2 Shane Warne
The late Warne was unlucky to miss out on a Test century when he was dismissed for 99 against New Zealand. However, his four 90-plus scores on Tests confirm his status as one of the best tailenders in the game.
Warne also batted very well in the unforgettable Ashes series in 2005. He was regularly capable of clearing the ropes, especially on the leg side. He hit two sixes in a crucial cameo in Australia’s successful run chase against New Zealand in the 1996 World Cup after being promoted as a pinch-hitter. Warne averaged 17 in Tests and 13 in ODIs with the bat; those numbers probably did not do justice to his ability as a batter.
#3 Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan had two Test centuries to his credit, coming quite late in the batting order, which is no mean feat. He was deceptively strong and could hit big sixes regularly. Harbhajan’s timing was also quite good, and some of his shots were a pleasure to watch.
Harbhajan was quite a novice as a batter early on in his career and became a better one as his career progressed. Harbhajan averaged 18 and 13 with the bat in Tests and ODIs, respectively, and retired as one of the most explosive lower-order batters in the game.
#4 Brett Lee
Lee batted the way he bowled – fast, furious and explosive. He enjoyed a great battle with Andrew Flintoff at his fiery best in the 2005 Ashes. Some of the sixes he hit were amazing to watch, and he had almost won the Edgbaston Test with the help of his partnership with Michael Kasprowicz.
Like most tailenders, Lee liked to clear the mid-wicket and long-on boundaries. However, that does not mean he could not come up with an occasional copybook stroke. He averaged 20 in Tests and 17 in ODIs with the bat in his career.
#5 Stuart Broad
Broad’s credentials in the earlier part of his career had almost earned him the tag of an all-rounder. However, his batting average declined as his career progressed. Still, the southpaw is good enough with the bat to feature in this list.
Broad has a Test century to his credit and is quite strong on the leg side. Being a tall man, he has a big reach and is quite capable of slog-sweeping spinners over the mid-wicket boundary. He has batting averages of 18 and 12 in Tests and ODIs, respectively.
#6 Mitchell Johnson
Johnson was a ferocious hitter and could destroy the ball. He usually enjoyed playing drives off fuller deliveries and could hit enormous sixes. The southpaw was a very good timer of the ball.
Johnson has a Test century to his name and finished his career with batting averages of 22 and 16 in Tests and ODIs (check here on what should be the ideal batting average for batsmen of all positions), respectively. He also has a fantastic batting strike rate of 96 in ODIs.
#7 Abdul Qadir
The late Qadir was a tailender capable of frequently playing big shots and clearing the ropey. He was fondly remembered for his heroics with the bat against West Indies in the ODI World Cup Match in 1987. Check the video, which shows the successful last over where Qadir helped Pakistan win the game in the last ball of the game, below:
Qadir primarily liked to play big shots in front of the wicket and could hit sixes over long-off and long-on boundaries. He averaged 15 apiece in Tests and ODIs with the bat at a time when the batting averages of tailenders were not usually that high.
#8 Malcolm Marshall
The late Marshall remained a useful lower-order batter for the great West Indian side in the 1970s and 1980s. He had a decent batting technique for a tailender and finished his career with as many as 10 half-centuries in Test cricket.
To a lesser extent, Marshall made useful contributions with his bat in ODIs. He had batting averages of 18 and 12 in Tests and ODIs, respectively, and makes this list because of those figures.
#9 Phil DeFreitas
DeFreitas was another very useful lower-order batter, capable of hitting the ball a long way in both Tests and ODIs. He could not do proper justice to his huge potential in either format of the game but remained a decent contributor for England.
DeFreitas played in a few World Cups for England and made notable contributions in some matches with the bat. He had Test and ODI batting averages of 14 and 16, respectively, and should feature in this list.
#10 Anil Kumble
Kumble is another tailender with a Test century to his name. Besides, he has also scored five half-centuries in Test cricket. Kumble was not much of a slogger but made up for that with a fighting spirit and resilience.
Kumble did not hit too many sixes in his career but could often hit boundaries on the off side. He scored his Test ton as the skipper of the Indian side and finished his career with batting averages of 17 and 10, respectively, in Tests and ODIs.
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