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The Essentials

A vote for Punter

Which cricketer does Gary Player think would make a top-notch golfer?

Player with Steve Waugh and Shane Warne in Monte Carlo, 2002

Player with Steve Waugh and Shane Warne in Monte Carlo, 2002 © Getty Images

What is it about cricket that appeals to you?
The excitement of facing fast bowlers. Once, in a school match, King Edward, my school, played St John's. They made 212 all out, and we found ourselves at 80 for 6 when a guy called Ralph Hoffman and I surpassed their total facing their fast bowlers.

I also loved the camaraderie among team members and travelling to matches together. And, not unlike golf, you need to ensure you have a good game plan in order to win consistently.

What has been the best cricketing moment you've watched?
Sir Garry Sobers becoming the first batsman in 1968 to hit six consecutive sixes in an over.

You won honours at many sports, including cricket. Why did you not pursue cricket?
I did receive honours for several sports and won the Victor Ludorum trophy for the best allrounder at school. But I realised golf was a sport that I could play professionally forever - and being small of stature I knew I would last longer!

Player, top right, with the rest of the King Edward School cricket team

Player, top right, with the rest of the King Edward School cricket team © Gary Player

Who is the best cricketer ever?
Definitely Donald Bradman. I saw him every year I went to Adelaide in Australia. He loved golf and I would give him a set of my used clubs whenever I saw him.

The most exciting cricketer I watched was Sachin Tendulkar. He was certainly the best batsman. And of course our own Jacques Kallis - he was one of the best allrounders ever to play the game.

What golf stroke do you think batsmen can utilise to their advantage?
A straight drive past the bowler, and also the cover drive. It's much like the drive in golf - weight through the ball and follow through.

Lots of cricketers play golf as a second sport. Have you seen anyone decent?
Yes. Sir Ian Botham, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara and Kapil Dev have all played in my GPI (Gary Player Invitational) events and they're great competitors and players. But best of them all was Ricky Ponting, who I really thought could make it as a golf pro.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi, assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

 

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  • POSTED BY Tariq Ahmed on | April 9, 2015, 14:54 GMT

    I just learned about Mr. Player's cricket achievements and his love for it. I must rate him as the world's best ever athlete and a most honorable sportsman. I wish good health and that he lives 120 years. He deserve to see how young generation is admiring him. A quiet Black Knight with a feather sword.