Few players in the history of cricket have carried the fortunes of their team to quite the same extent as Sir Richard John Hadlee. By the time he retired from international cricket in 1990, at the age of 39, he cemented his place as the greatest fast bowlers and all-rounders in cricket history. He was widely regarded as the greatest exponent of bowling with the new ball and the original ‘Sultan of Swing’ who made life miserable for all the greatest batsmen of his era.
Born on this day in 1951, into a family closely involved with the game in New Zealand. His father Walter Hadlee was the former Test captain, while his brothers Dayle and Barry Hadlee – played in the national team. His cricketing education began at an early age, and in 1971-72 he debuted for Canterbury. His First Class and List A records are equally impressive, as he picked 1,490 and 454 wickets from 347 and 317 matches respectively. He also scored 12,052 and 5,241 runs in those games.
A year later he made his international Test debut against Pakistan at Wellington. The bowling all-rounder went on to take 431 wickets in his 86-Test career and was the first bowler to reach 400 Test wickets. He also made 3,124 Test runs that included two centuries and 15 fifties. In ODIs, he played 115 matches where he took 158 wickets and scored 1,751 runs.
As the legend celebrates his big day, here’s a look at some of his impressive records:
1. He was the first bowler in the history of the game to scalp 400 Test wickets. Notably, his 400th wicket was India’s Sanjay Manjrekar in 1990 at Christchurch.
2. He remains as one of the most successful fast bowlers in Test cricket history in terms of five and 10-wicket hauls.
3. Hadlee managed 36 fifers and nine 10-wicket hauls, from 86 Tests.
4. Hadlee also boasts of the best strike-rate with 50.80 in the five-day game. South Africa’s Dale Steyn overtook him with 42.3, among bowlers with more than 400 Test wickets.
5. He was the first cricketer to have taken 400 Test wickets and scored over 3,000 runs. He is the first to reach the milestone and his feat was subsequently emulated by Kapil Dev, Shaun Pollock and Shane Warne.
6. Sir Richard also became the first cricketer to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in the ODIs.
7. He played 148 first-class games for Nottinghamshire, in which he took 622 wickets and scored 5,854 runs, that include 11 hundreds and a double ton.
8. He also managed a century and a five-wicket haul in the same match on three separate occasions for Nottinghamshire.
9. In 1990, Hadlee was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and the knighthood was conferred upon him for his services to the game.
10. The legendary all-rounder was formally inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.