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First and foremost allow me, on behalf of X and I, to thank Nathan Astle for a the number of times he has treated us to his bludgeoning brilliance. In the same mould as Sanath Jaysuriya, he had the uncanny ability to spank a cricket ball in a direction and at a speed that most would think impossible, given his slight frame and often ungainly technique.
However, with Astle's retirement arisen has the question of who should be considered a great player?
Current New Zealand coach John Bracewell proffered:
"Statistically his record puts him into the position of greatness."
Mr Bracewell, I disagree. Astle's record of 7090 ODI runs at 34.92 and 4702 Test runs at 37.02 do not seem to me to be the statistics of a "great" player.
Although I agree that statistics alone are not the judge of greatness, I do not believe that Nathan Astle was a great player. He was a committed, talented and diligent servant of the game in his country. He enjoyed moderate success at the levels of his chosen sport, but could not be considered a world-beater.
Sir Richard Hadlee was a great New Zealand player. Martin Crowe was a great New Zealand batsman. By all accounts, Nathan Astle is a great team man, but he is definitely not a cricketing great.
This sport would be much better off if supposedly knowledgeable people, such as John Bracewell, did not embarrass the legends of the game by associating them with good players who did all they could to make the most of their limited talent.
Having said all this, Nath - your batting will be missed.
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